Monday, April 29, 2013

Chase Bank Wants To Give Your Money To California

The other someone I know got a notice from Chase about a checking account she's held with them for many years.  She hasn't made any deposits or withdrawals from it, but it's always there.

That notice she got informed her that since her account has not had any activity for a period of time, they started quoting CA laws stating that they can turn the money over to the state as unclaimed property.

Serious!

The account is a non-interest bearing account but it's always been there.  And now Chase wants to take her money and give it to the state of California as unclaimed property.

If by chance, you have accounts with Chase, that you think will be there forever and you haven't interacted with, you might want to go check on it!

Now per the laws quoted in the letter, this could impact any bank.  But I also know banks interpret rules and laws differently. 

For instance, I have my own Chase account that requires me to sign in with only one computer.  If I change computers to sign in with, they have me go through hoops to get a "key" to log in from this different computer.  If I go back to that other computer, I have to go through that entire process again.

When I asked why, they quoted new 9/11 RULES that require banks to do this.

But my other bank does not have that rule because I can access it from any computer I want without the hoops.

So if you have what they consider to be a stagnate account, you might want to be aware that they will call it "unclaimed property" and give it to the state.  (Don't worry, they give you plenty of time with their notice, but if you blow off nondescript looking letters, well, don't if they're from Chase!)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Is Google's Blogger Easy Enough To Be Worth It?

Google's Blogger platform, is by all quick references, an ultra convenient, simple, straight forward kind of tool for getting a blog up and running for the newbie.  But is it for you?

If you have any kind of Google account, you can very easily get and create a Blogger account and if you don't have a Google account, it's pretty easy to get and make one.

Now if you're new to the blogging scene, I bet you will enjoy your experience... at first.  It's fun and easy. But as time goes on and you start to understand more about the world of blogging and want to demand more from your blogging platform, opinions start to change.

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Even though I say you may start wanting more, there still are plenty of high-end personalities that use the simplicity of Blogger to get their message out and it works for them.  It's their primary venue.  It connects and posts (integrated) to Google+ quite easily, and with enough tinkering, Blogger posts can be automatically posted to Twitter and Facebook via 3rd party products.

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But Sometimes The Frustrations Dim The Enthusiasm

When you work interactively with blogger and you go live with a post, you then have the option to post the same content straight to your Google+ page for the site.

But if you schedule a post for a later time to go live (I do that often), that doesn't happen.

Blogger used to give you a post to G+" option when you updated a post, but that does not happen any more.

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I don't work in Blogger itself.  I craft my content outside of it (in notepad) then paste the content. (I work in an environment where I can count my words, to make sure I stay above the Google SEO recommended minimum of three hundred words per article.)

Therein lies most of my issues.

Unlike any other blogging platform that I can paste into, Blogger starts to cause issues for me from the get go when I paste.

Once pasted, if I decide I need to add content and try to add lines to the content, the first time I hit 'enter' the linefeed works.  After that, it does not.  I am then forced to hold the shift key while hitting enter.  (Nope, don't know why!)

And sometimes, hitting return to add a line, pops the user down to the last line of the article.  I'm not finding a consistent cause for this, except that it consistently happens.

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Working with images can be pretty easy, if you add only one.  But if you start wanting to add more throughout an article, SOMETIMES, no matter where your cursor is (Which to me, would indicate where you want the inserted image), the image adds itself to the head of the article.

And finding images from your blog is trippy.  When I pull up a list of images from the blog, they're rarely listed visually in chronological order.  So good luck.

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As far as formatting goes, it takes YouTube video links more easily than any other blogging platform.  (Of course... YT is a Google product).  So there's that.

BUT good luck if you use ampersands in your content.  > & < Typing some symbols is a total fail.  (It translates the character into letters...) 'Nuff said there.

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I can cut and paste a draft, but then I can't control the alignment or line feed after that.  It will not respond to right or center align markings and such.  It won't respond to carriage returns.

And I just discovered there's a label limit... have to wonder if this limit is just a limit in blogger, or something to ponder in other blogging platforms and any impact it might have on the web?

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To reiterate... if you're a blogger who is either

  • New to the world of blogging
  • Has a very simple presentation format
  • Crafts your content within your platform
  • Isn't too demanding of the interface,

Then Blogger is a pretty awesome tool.

But as you graduate into a more technical blogger, well, it gets a bit tricky after that!  I might even use the word annoying.

But on the bright side, Google makes it very easy to point domains to your blog and they have a ton of other features that can still make it fun for the newbie.  It also, of late, has different options for your appearance of your blog.  Though still, hands down, other platforms rule that aspect.

Me, I'm experimenting right now before I make the final decision to cut my losses with Blogger or keep going.  Because for one thing... it's wonderful to not have to administer the server in the background.  All you have to do is create and go on Blogger.

Sure, you're victim to what ever might happen to the Google servers, but it's rare when they have issues.  Me, right now, on my HostGator shared server, (I love HG), I'm needing to spend time looking things over under the hood.

I'll let you know soon enough what comes of this experiment.  For now, I'm working with it for an extended period of time.  This site here, is my simpler, easy to post to site.  So more than likely, I'm sticking it out.  But I have a few other sites I get a bit more creative with.  And there, is where my (in)sanity lies.

If you have any insights to the matter of using Blogger, by all means, chime in!  I'd love to hear them, as I'm sure the readers would love to see them!

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Day Thesis Abandoned Me and My Blog

My Happy Time With The Thesis WordPress Theme Might Be Coming To A Crashing Halt!

For the last few years, I've been using the Thesis theme on a different site and I have been pretty happy with it.  Even though it wasn't the most automatic theme to be able to install or update, the instructions were clear and simple.  You do everything right, like back EVERYTHING up, follow the instructions, and you're upgraded.


Thesis has been touted as an SEO efficient template theme for Wordpress.  And I can definitely attest to how paying for a professional theme does wonders for your website in terms of page speed loading, Google recognition, and what not.  I have no complaints what so ever about Thesis 1.85 and earlier.

The control panel is the best. Everything is so simple to go through that it was silly.  Even when I had to learn how to create a few CSS or other code snippets to modify my site, it was not very hard at all.

And when they announced an entirely new, rebuilt version of Thesis, promising even better SEO, I was pretty excited.  I mean, it's been awesome and user friendly up to this point.  Why not jump on the bandwagon?

I signed up for the developer's version early, getting that "early bird" discount and my anticipations started to grow.  But that was part of my problem.  That my excitement levels were pretty high as I settled in to wait, and my expectations built me up and I was buzzing, waiting.

And then release day came and it wasn't out yet.  They were still adding finishing touches.  I don't remember exactly when it came out, but I think it was a few days after the fact.

But who cared, right?  Thesis 2.0 is supposed to be so much better.   And then it came out and I installed it on a different test site I run.

Oh my.  What kind of foreign world have I stepped into?
It seems, like how Google is starting to dis-favor the little guy on the web for the bigger entities, the guys behind Thesis seemed to have redesigned it in such a way that it makes zero sense to the newbie webmaster.  It seems to be designed for people with moderate and above programming experience.

This new interface no longer has template pages or menus that help the user select options.  I have odd looking boxes and in the beginning, very little documentation to support your need for help.

Now, one has to build the site template from the ground up in some blank looking control page that offers nothing for the user to understand.  I now have boxes, packages and skins.  But no options, no questions... just a blank page looking back at me.

On October 2, I was told how to get Thesis 2.0.  Then they launched some basic question & answers.  Yes... they started getting that many questions, that fast.

On October 24th, they started telling us how awesome it will be. 

On December 4th we got a compatibility blog post from DIYthemes.

On December 7th we got a post telling us how "Santa Claus has nothing on Thesis 2.03."

{Update 4-2-13:  That December 7th post, to this date, has been the last post they've put up about the new Thesis.  I'm pretty disappointed that the little guy has been left out in the cold like this.  Time to ponder the Genesis theme!}

Did you notice the how it came out on Oct 2nd and yet, by Dec, well, now it's January, 3 months later, there are still no mention of manuals, no solid help for the uninitiated?

What saddened me even further is that on the posts noted, people like myself were asking about basic help.  In the early stages, folks were referred to some video tutorials.  But like me, many would love to have manuals to go over and not spend the time watching videos, waiting for the right moment we needed to help us set up our websites.

And in the last post over there, I questioned when the little guy would get some basic help.  No response.  Well, unless you count comments being turned off as a response.

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So tutorials did start to populate the support site.  Two months after the release.

That's been a long time waiting for support for those of us who don't have the time to figure things out.  I'm not a full-time guy.  I have a day job and a family.  And now, I'm a bit disadvantaged here.

At least I sent it to a test site.  And oh, BTW, that test site, the traffic has slowly dropped since I installed Thesis 2.0. By about 30%, despite trying to populate it more regularly since installation.

That alone, is pretty interesting indeed.

But when I try to figure things out... well, here's one instruction on "boxes:"

Upload a Box

in Thesis 2

    Upload the .zip file (provided to you by the box's author) via Thesis > Boxes > Select Boxes > Upload Box.
    Once the box has been uploaded and appears in the list of available boxes, select its checkbox to activate it, and then click Save Boxes.

That so doesn't help me.  What the hell is a box?  And back then I could not find what anything is about... I'd love to know what a "box" or "template" or "package" is.

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It's bad enough that Google has slowly been fazing out the little guy when they started restricting access to the lead traffic sources and how their updates have been squashing the little guy in as much as how reporting on other sites original content does one less good than it used to.

Fine, be that way.  I think I'm getting the drift.  Google is making the web a hard-core business site and it will no longer be up for grabs by the little guy.

But I was hoping for some help from the much-touted Thesis framework that promises great things in the world of SEO.  And yet, where I installed 2.0, my traffic has dropped by 30%.  Boo.

And therein lies my issues and how I'm almost being driven back to Google's Blogger platform.  Ease of use, no hollow promises and just a little bit of work on my part, versus trying to understand all the programming needs necessary to adapt to the "latest and greatest" what what I thought would be my salvation from the demise of the personal blogger on the web.

'Nuff Said! 

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