Book Reviews

Technology challenged

I shall let you in on a secret. I’m old enough to remember a time before laptops and desk top computers.

tehnology bluesAs I bashed out news stories on an ancient manual Remington, cursing the keys that kept jamming, I looked longingly at adverts for electric typewriters. But the newspaper company I worked for was stuck in the dark ages. I changed to a company I’d heard equipped their journalists with portable computers. No more rushing out of the court room to try and find a public phone that worked so I could dictate the story before deadline. Paradise would soon be mine I thought. Hmm. The machine was portable strictly speaking but still took muscles the size of Popeye’s to lug around in its metal carrying case. And then to use it to file stories you had to couple some rubber caps over the speaker of the phone. But the caps were round and my phone at home had oblong speakers. So no hope of rolling out of bed late and still making the deadline.

I changed careers and this time got  a desk top computer. It was progress of a sort but it was DOS based so not wonderful. We bought an Amstrad at home and – after much frustration – got it to connect to something called the Internet. What a revelation. When my husband needed my help to write colour pieces on “preparing for your wedding’ I could with a few clicks discover wedding traditions in other countries with which to regail readers.

Life – and technology – moved on. Today I can sit in my garden typing this post while connected seamlessly to the Internet. My iPad tells me when I’ve read more pages of a book on the Kindle than I have on the iPad and do I want it to synchronise for me. At work with a few clicks I can share my computer screen so I can collaborate real time on documents and presentations with colleagues in other parts of the world. I can even do teleconferences via the computer from home and no-one will ever know I’m still in my PJs…..

And yet….

You knew there was a but coming didn’t you???

Though I consider myself to be technology savvy I have yet to conquer some of the whistles and bells capabilities of the WordPress platform I use to create this blog. I managed after a fashion to grasp the basics (and I do mean basic) of HTML. But I absolutely cannot get some of the widgets to work.

Three times this week I tried to create a poll. I see it on the draft version of the post. But when I go to preview, all I see is a string of code.

I can’t get the icons for my social media accounts to increase in size either. If you look on the right menu on my home page, you’ll see how minuscule they are.

Nor can I get the tagline of the site to appear lower down the header image so it is more readable.

Is it me or is it really this difficult???



What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

34 thoughts on “Technology challenged

  • Not knowing how much you know, forgive me if you know this already:

    Social media icons, try adding width=”120%” to them in the stylesheet, example: – you should see a difference and can work out how much bigger you want them from there. Alternatively you can work in pixels or ’em’ instead of percent.

    If using [img] style, those square brackets, you’ve got to work in pixels, so: [img width=250] – and so on.

    I’m not totally sure regarding your ‘BookTalk’ but if you’re able to edit your wordpress source code, look for this: and try adding top padding to it:

    If it doesn’t work, look for this:

    #branding #logo {
    margin: 0 0 0 .3em;
    padding-right: .3em;}

    You’ve got a margin on the left there (the 3em) which you can see is working by the placement of ‘BookerTalk’ in the logo, so try changing the top margin. (Top margin is the first 0 – the numbers “0 0 0 3em” stand for top, right, bottom, left, respectively.) That should start pushing it down a bit.

    • Ignore the above, I forgot WP deleted coding. If it looks like it’d be useful, let me know on Twitter and I’ll email it to you 🙂

    • i shall have to set aside some quiet time to explore this Charlie. thanks for taking the time – i saw your other comment so will likely take you up on your offer to help. You seem to know a lot about this!

  • It’s not you! (it’s me! – lol) I think its part of the learning-curve of using technology these days when you pretty much have to figure everything out yourself. I sometimes wish I could sit in a live classroom with real people and a knowledgable instructor – I don’t always want to watch tutorials or search for the problem I’m having in a written forum. Still, having a blog forces me to continue to upgrade my technology skills so I guess that is a plus. I had to laugh when I read your line about needing “muscles the size of Popeye’s….” for two reasons – one of which is that people who’ve never used a typewriter before probably don’t know who Popeye is!

    • Those who don’t understand the reference to Popeye are not missing out on much. I never cared for the program myself!

  • I enjoyed your post, and all the comments too – been there, done that – I’m so ancient that I almost pre-date manual typewriters – oh, those sore fingers after a day of pounding a Remington out of the Ark. Periodically WordPress baffles me too, but rather the devil you know etc.

    • I never managed the art of using my little fingers on the manual typewriter. it took more strength than i had

  • I create polls on and then put the code in the HTML tab if my blog post. It’s worked so far for me.

    • I nod sagely at your note but you can bet when I come to do that it will go wrong….

  • Don’t feel dumb about the WordPress problems. As for me, I (a) grew up alongside computers and the internet and (b) have even designed my own workplace’s website, but I am *still* having issues with some WordPress stuff on my own blog (currently in the process of migrating over from Blogger because of the hosting options, though in my experience so far Blogger was actually easier to customize).

    I really think the difference between being tech-savvy and tech-challenged is not necessarily what you already know, it’s whether your willing to learn/find the info you need.

    • Thanks Louise. I did look at the blogger platform when i started but thought WP was easier. I suppose its just what you get familiar with …

      • I think WP is easier too Karen. My first blog – which I set up for my reading group and is still going strong – is Blogger. I wish I’d transferred it over a few months later when I discovered WordPress. I’m not sure about the customising issue but I find WordPress generally friendlier to use, with better stats, and I think it is nicer to commenters. I tend to avoid commenting of Blogger blogs because in most cases it is hard to comment with my wordpress name AND receive notification that the blogger has replied.

        • I’ve never found a way to get comments back on the comments i make via Blogger either

        • I’m glad you say that Karen because sometimes I’ve wondered if it’s just me. I always inwardly groan when I visit a Blogger blog.

        • Nope, not just you. I spent 15 minutes today crafting a detailed comment on one Blogger platform site only for it two – twice – say the comment could not be posted. I gave up

  • I am a teacher. I remember the days before Computers, too. Now that we have so much technology, we have WAY MORE WORK.

    • Oh yes I know that feeling as various departments in work find ways of reducing workload at their end by shifting it on to everyone else.

  • I recall telling my 16yo old babysitter that when I started working we didn’t have email. She looked incredulous and said “But what did you do?!” I explained that we had to get things done before the final moment – you know, well in advance of deadlines – and that we used the fax machine and couriers all the time. may as well have been speaking another language.

    Re WordPress – the polls should appear once you hit publish. I’ll try one later today and remind myself of the steps (I’ve used them a few times).

    • My mum had a similar conversation with my niece who couldnt believe there was a time when people didnt have phones in their houses (let alone ones they could carry in their pocket)

      • I can’t believe we didn’t have phones all the time. I kind of miss going out for the afternoon and not being contactable – obviously I could leave my phone at home but it’s not quite the same!

        • on the train back from London to home tonight there was a guy sat alongside me talking constantly on his phone, loudly, in spanish. it made me long for the days when mobile phones did not exist

        • Urgh. Nothing worse than people conducting conversations at the top of their voices on public transport 🙁

  • I’m happy to hear that it’s not just me! There are quite a few things I haven’t been able to figure out, so they just don’t happen on my blog. Most things I don’t even attempt, knowing that I’ll just end up frustrated. As a result, my blog has remained as basic as the day I started.
    The good news is – you are not alone.
    The bad news is – I can’t help you. 🙁

  • I’m definitely feeling like you do about technology and blogging. I find when I have a WordPress issue, I can usually resolve it on their help pages or googling the problem. Often I find the answer is that what I want to do is simply incompatible with WordPress. Hang in there!

    • oh i never thought about googling issue. Ive used the forum a few times and people are so helpful but I don’t like to impose too much since they are volunteers after all

      • I Google issues ALL the time Karen. I do sometimes use the Forums and Support but with variable success. Googling a problem, I find, solves it more often than not, though sometimes the trick is finding the right words to frame the problem to get the answer (particularly if the problem uses a lot of generic words). When you Google you can even start with “how do I …” I’m sure Google ignores the “How do I … ” bit but in the beginning in particular it helped me frame the problem. Now I might say something like “XXX won’t load” or “ZZZ won’t resize” or “WWW no longer WHATEVER IT WILL NO LONGER DO”.

        Like you I come from before computers but we got our second computer in 1985 and it was a Mac. Woo hoo – what a revelation after hubby’s command-driven home-built one. But, I still fiddle around quite a bit with WordPress and HTML. I hate it most when I don’t understand the principles because when I fix something I don’t know how or why! And that’s more often than I’d like to admit!

  • It’s amazing how fast technology has moved in recent years – I remember wondering how useful the Internet would actually be! And now I couldn’t live without it and like you I teleconference etc like a pro.

    I think the poll doesn’t show until you publish – I’ve only done a couple and dithered for ages with the last one before I pressed go! And I struggled for a good six months before I was able to make my Twitter widget work, so no, you are not alone!

    • I might do a test post in that case Cleopatra.. cross your fingers for me

  • Oh, yes… I remember life before computers, too, and am also lamenting a lack technological skills. I’m still with blogger so can’t offer any WP help. My task this week it to install those cute little social media icons instead of the old-fashioned banners I have now. Good luck 🙂

    • technology is changing so fast that it’s really hard to keep up. so even if I learn something today give it three months and i fear it might be all different

  • I also recall life before computers…I typed fast, but made enough errors to frustrate me, and correcting them was always a challenge.

    I remember those DOS computers, and gave up right away. At work, we finally got PCs in the late nineties…and I got my own PC in 2000.

    Still…I had a lot to learn when I started blogging in 2008….and I haven’t been brave enough to do a self-hosted site.

    Gradually I learned a few things…but my knowledge of code is very limited. In a post or a widget, I click between visual and HTML to “see” what I want…and I copy and paste into my widgets.

    This is probably not what you’re talking about, though…

    Maybe someone who is more advanced will come along and give you some ideas. I learned a few things from other bloggers.

  • I can empathize to some degree. When I started blogging, it was so mystifing and confusing I still have trouble every once in a while. But I eventually figure it out.
    I’m sorry you’re having a difficult time with a few things on WordPress. I’m sure you’ll figure it out eventually 🙂


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