Hook readers simply by writing more descriptive post titles

While participating in online communities for writers I often hear others ask, “How can I gain more readership to my blog or site?”

newspaper by Nicolas Nova is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
newspaper by Nicolas Nova is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

My answer:  Use a more descriptive post title so that a reader is compelled to read on. And no, this doesn’t give you liberty to write click-bait titles like, You won’t believe what she did next!  

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Why Microsoft Excel’s new AutoSave feature may cause you to lose work

If you’re a user of Microsoft Excel 2016 at work or home then you may have noticed in the past few weeks the new AutoSave feature that appeared in the top menu bar.

Excel 2016's AutoSave feature is enabled by default for files stored on SharePoint and OneDrive.
Excel 2016’s AutoSave feature is enabled by default for files stored on SharePoint and OneDrive.

I want to specifically caution individuals who store Excel files on SharePoint or OneDrive that there is a situation where you may find this feature causes you to actually lose work!

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Why did it take me fifteen years to create a simple home maintenance checklist?

The sky was dark at five-thirty this morning when I poured my first cup of coffee.  Even the cat looked bleary-eyed as he lumbered across the house and plopped down on the living room floor.  He stared up at me and blinked while I checked my Nexus 7 tablet for the arrival of any new e-mail messages delivered during the overnight hours.

Thoroughly vacuuming lint from the clothes dryer (after removing six screws holding on the back panel) and replacing the broken exhaust vent shutters helps to both prevent fires and reduce overall drying time
Thoroughly vacuuming lint from the clothes dryer (after removing six screws holding on the back panel) and replacing the broken exhaust vent shutters helps to both prevent fires and reduce overall drying time

A single e-mail arrived from Amazon.com informing me of the arrival today of two repair parts for my dishwasher.  That reminded me, I should probably get around to cleaning the lint from the clothes dryer exhaust vent before the weather turns cold.

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Escaping the news and my difficulties with social media apps

I’ve had enough.  I took a bold step last night and wiped several apps, mostly social media, from my mobile phone and tablet.  I am on a quest.  I must escape…the news.

A partial list of social media applications available in the Google Play store

I watch little network broadcast television at home but it feels like I am subjected to a barrage of news headlines where I least expect them.  Simply opening the Google Chrome browser on my Android phone reveals a miniature headline and thumbnail graphic by CNN:  Las Vegas gunman planned to escape after massacre, sheriff says.

Thanks, but what does that have to do with my need to purchase a replacement utensil basket for my dishwasher?

There must be a way to disable news headlines from the Google Chrome application on my smartphone.  I can’t find a setting so unfortunately I’ll have to search the web for a workaround.  Oh shucks, it’s a vicious cycle.

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Taken a few great photos? Consider licensing them for use by writers under Creative Commons

As a writer for the web I like to embed a featured photograph with each article I share online.  This practice is not uncommon and you may agree it adds an elegant accent to written content when opened in news reader applications on desktop computers and mobile devices.

American Pride by mattrobbdotnet is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
American Pride by mattrobbdotnet is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Unfortunately it’s difficult for a single author to take a relevant photograph for each potential article.  An organization named Creative Commons strives to broaden accessibility of media content like artwork, music, photographs, and videos for use within other forms of print and online media.

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My first amateur radio transceiver: BaoFeng BF-F8HP

I discussed a few days ago How a box fan sparked my interest in amateur radio.  If like me you’re just getting started with the hobby then you’ve already discovered the passionate discussions online about when to buy a radio and the qualities that make for a good first tranceiver.

My first amateur radio tranceiver, the BaoFeng BF-F8HP. Alternatively, a photo of the world's least impressive ham shack.
My first amateur radio tranceiver, the BaoFeng BF-F8HP. Alternatively, a photo of the world’s least impressive ham shack.

Not sure what I mean?  Have you ever been in the company of one guy (or gal) who drives a 5.0-liter Ford Mustang and a second guy (or gal) who drives a 5.7-liter Chevy Camaro?  Yes, it’s a lot like that.

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How a box fan sparked my interest in amateur radio

Two years ago I experienced an interesting phenomena. An inexpensive (dare I say, plastic) box fan randomly behaved like a low-volume, flat-sounding AM radio whenever positioned next to a window in my home.

I'm a Big Fan of Yours by Alan Levine is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
I’m a Big Fan of Yours by Alan Levine is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

At the time I had already owned my fair share of electronic devices. I was familiar with the FCC part 15 label included with electronics that stated something like: this device must accept interference from, but not interfere with, other electronic sources.

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WordPress Reader: A favorite mobile app for grown-ups

WordPress Reader is a better choice for browsing a content news feed that matches one’s subject-matter interests.

Creating tags (keywords of interest) in the WordPress Reader application
Creating tags (keywords of interest) in the WordPress Reader application

I wasn’t alive during the time of prohibition, but I’m led to believe there were instances where the sign above the door didn’t necessarily jibe with the activities taking place inside the building. The WordPress mobile app and desktop website hide a similar secret.

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Managing the list of unfinished stories

For months my brain felt distracted by the list of unfinished stories that are spread across the ‘My Documents’ folder of my laptop.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  This morning I better organized my writing into two folders:

  • Completed
  • Work-In-Progress (WIP)
diary writing by Fredrik Rubensson is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
diary writing by Fredrik Rubensson is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I have fourteen unfinished stories in my writing portfolio.  That count excludes a half-dozen, one-sentence descriptions I maintain of future projects.

I can breathe a bit easier now.  I went into this exercise expecting to find about thirty unfinished stories.  I’m not entirely pleased with fourteen, but my next step this week will be to pare that back to a more manageable, single-digit number.

I don’t necessarily want to delete drafted narrative text, but it may come down to that in order to satisfy my mental well-being.  I suppose I will distill the text back down to a one-sentence description and keep that available in my idea file.

Coding text-based MMORPG games in PHP and MySQL

I’m out of the professional coding world for ten years, but it hasn’t stopped me from creating a BBS-style online text adventure game in the spirit of TradeWars 2002 and Legend of the Red Dragon using PHP and MySQL.

game

I remember well the specs of my first brand-new PC in the fall of 1993 that cost me $3,000: an Intel 486DX processor with 8MB RAM, 340MB hard-drive, and a USRobotics 14.4K modem. With that PC came the joy of exploring local dial-up BBS systems, namely the Trenton NJ area It’s All Rock ‘N Roll and the online text adventure games the SysOp offered his members.

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