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I don’t want Facebook to use my personal data to target me with advertisements, so I thought I’d turn off this feature.   For this you need to go through Settings, to Your Facebook Information, then to Off-Facebook Activity .  I was surprised at the list of companies who have shared my information with Facebook, including Westpac Bank (not a bank I use personally, but I deal with them in my voluntary work).  Most of the sharing was done last year or earlier, but the Christchurch City Council had shared my information with Facebook, just yesterday.  I clicked on Turn off future activity,  and got a warning that I may then be logged off WordPress and Wordscraper, both sites I’m fond of and that I visit daily (several times daily in the case of Wordscraper).  I don’t access WordPress through Facebook, and if I find I’ve been logged off I should be able to log on again.  However, if I’m denied access to Wordscraper I shall be obliged to go and turn the future activity back on.

I’d seen several references to the fact that Facebook was now offering an option to reduce their data mining, but it was the article by Mike O’Donnell in today’s Press that spurred me to actually do something.

I don’t like Facebook stalking me
and sharing my activity

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Dear WordPress kindly keeps a log
of those who come to read my blog
this year the numbers started high
but I know they soon drop if I
don’t post one day, or even two
so daily posts I try to do.
I’ve all the time I need to write
but inspiration can take flight
I need a prompt, something I’ve read
or something that I’ve seen instead
to gently prod the muse awake
and give creative juice a shake.
Sometimes my writing may seem tired
but other times it’s most inspired
and if there’s comments (more than one)
I feel my work has been well done
my self-esteem is greatly buoyed
to know my writing is enjoyed.

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How does a woman meet a man?
So many ways since time began
I’ve married dozens through the years
some full of hope, a few with fears
they’ve met in bar or swimming pool
or brief encounters when at school.
In modern days you often get
a couple who met on the net
it’s much, much easier they say
to suss potential mates this way
no waste of time, no spending money
eliminate all who sound funny
then add the good ones to your cart.
One woman after my own heart
said that she did not wish to dwell
with any man who could not spell!

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Several friends choose not to belong to Facebook, or have withdrawn from it because of various concerns, some of which are outlined in the book Zucked.  I consider Mark Zuckerberg has too much influence and too much money, but I like Facebook for four different reasons.

1.  It gives me access to Wordscraper, a scrabble-type game where I play moves several times daily with five different friends.  It was a similar game that first enticed me on to Facebook twelve years ago, at a daughter’s suggestion.

2.  It gives me glimpses into the lives of far-away friends and relatives, especially my daughters in England.

3.  I enjoy the Memories feature which reminds what I was doing on this day in past years.  Most of these posts are from my blog.

4.  It keeps me informed about current events.  I’m choosy which ones I read, but I appreciate the updates from RNZ and Star News.  There are a number of local events that are promoted only on Facebook, and I often find out that friends who eschew Facebook don’t know about these.

So, I’ll continue to follow Facebook for the foreseeable future.  Do you check it too?

I do appreciate Facebook
and regularly take a look

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Have you noticed advertisements on this blog?  WordPress has provided my site free of charge for more than thirteen years, and I appreciate their generosity.  For the last few years they’ve warned me that visitors to my blog may see advertisements, and a friend recently told me these appear between post and comments and they can be annoying.  I personally dislike advertisements, and decided I don’t want them on my blog, so for the first time I’m paying WordPress to keep my site ad-free.  The cost is reasonable, about $50NZ for a year.  I’d love to know whether my readers notice the difference.

Advertisements are not for me
I pay to keep my blog ad-free

 

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Today, 5 March, is my blog’s 13th birthday.  I still enjoy this form of creative expression, and I love the fact that people read what I’ve written.  I especially appreciate those who leave comments.  Over the years I’ve made 3,720 posts.  That’s an average of five posts each week, which I think is pretty good!

At my birthday ritual early this year I asked people to share one thing they do to stay healthy.  For me it was my blog.  Gathering ideas and writing about them meets all five ways to mental well-being:  Take notice; connect; be active; give; learn.

Right now, I’m in South Australia cruising the Murray River on a paddle boat, and have only intermittent internet access, so I drafted this post few days ago.  Today we’re scheduled to see prolific wildlife including pelicans, wrens, and swans as we cruise upriver through a lock.  Photos will follow eventually.

With pelicans upon the Murray
we cruise with neither care nor worry

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We’re planning a trip to Australia.  The cottage and cat will be in good hands.

Some weeks ago I went to a Vodafone shop to check that I’d be able to use my mobile in Australia, and was informed it would be no problem.  They would just charge me $5 for each day that I used it plus the usual charges for calls and texts.

This morning I was organising luggage labels and it occurred to me that anyone in Australia who phoned me while I was in Australia would probably need to use a prefix (e.g. if my luggage went astray).  I rang Vodafone to check that, and what a rigmarole!  I was on the phone for three-quarters of an hour, including one part when I was on hold for twenty minutes.  I’m not sure where their call centre staff are located, but one of them had a strong accent that was difficult to understand.  Eventually I was sent to someone on their specialist team who told me in Australia anyone would need to use the prefix 61.  I queried this, being aware the prefix for New Zealand is 64, but they were adamant.  Eventually the woman told me she would put me through to the mobile department, but by then someone I needed to speak to had come to the door, so I said I’d try again later.

On my subsequent call (which took 20 minutes and again meant being transferred around and left on hold) I was told, yes, the correct prefix was 64, but they couldn’t give me Global Roaming because my mobile is on a very old plan left over from the days of Telstra Clear.  She told me I needed to go to a Vodafone shop, purchase a new Sim card, and then they’d be able to connect me to Global Roaming.

Thank goodness, there was no queue at the Vodafone shop in Tuam Street, and the woman there was very helpful.  What a difference it makes to talk to someone face to face, in the same city (and the same country)!  She looked up my account but couldn’t access it, because it’s on the old Telstra Clear system.  She explained that as well as $5 per day I would need to pay an extra $39.99 per month to have global roaming.  This seemed excessive, especially as I rarely use my mobile, but I might need it to ring a taxi or confirm a booking.  I asked if there was any alternative, and she said “Yes”.  I can just continue to use my phone in Australia.  I will be charged $3 per minute for outgoing calls, $1 per minute for incoming calls, and 80 cents for outgoing texts.  This seems much more reasonable, and I think is the same arrangement I had last time I went overseas.  It’s a pity their call centre staff didn’t explain this.

My friends know that I use my mobile only for emergencies, although I will probably leave it on continually while we’re away in case the cottage sitter has any queries.  Everyone else, please email me as usual.  I should be able to check emails at least every few days.  It will be good to be on our way!

I’ve little cellphone expertise
and keep it for emergencies

 

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We like to watch the 6pm TV News if we’re home.  On Sunday we turned the TV on only to find there was something wrong with the picture.  It was pixillated and the sound was distorted too.  We tried turning it off and on and checked the aerial, but nothing made a difference.  After about twenty minutes we gave up and turned it off.

On Monday I rang the TV service people and arranged for someone to call first thing Tuesday morning.  At 6pm I thought I’d just try again, turned the TV on, and the picture was perfect.  By then it was too late to cancel our service call.

Matt duly arrived at 9am on Tuesday, checked everything and pronounced the TV to be in excellent working order.  He suggested there may have been some kind of gremlin blocking the signal between our aerial and the Sugarloaf transmission tower.  He even walked down to the corner to see if there was anything like a crane that might have caused interference.  Then he remembered that his brother, who lives a few kilometres north of us had texted him on Sunday evening to say he was having TV problems.  Matt phoned his brother and discovered that his problem had been similar and had also mysteriously righted itself.  It was comforting to know we were not alone, but we still have no idea what caused the distortion.  Has anyone else experienced something similar?

We had to pay a $70 callout fee, but Matt said if we needed to call again for a similar problem we would not be charged another fee.  I wondered whether Victoria which I’d programmed to record on Sunday night might have been affected, but it was fine.

The TV is mysterious
and sometimes it can cause a fuss

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I plan to make some changes to my posting on this blog.  Usually when I write here it’s because of something I’ve seen and photographed.  Readers tell me they appreciate my chronicle of what’s happening in central Christchurch.  If nothing inspires me I don’t write, and that’s okay.  My poetry group provides a fortnightly theme which sometimes gives me material for a blog post.  Lately I’ve felt my writing’s gone stale and needs a change.  For more than twelve years I’ve been writing mainly about what I’ve observed and experienced.  A very few of my 1495 followers leave comments (thank you!).  Often there is more reaction from friends on Facebook than on the blog.  My average daily views for the whole of 2018 is 38, compared to 49 in 2017, even though I’ve gained 70 new followers this year.  I enjoy blogging, especially the contact it gives me with those readers who respond.

My New Year resolution is to experiment with writing first, and illustrating afterwards, rather than starting with a photo.  Lately I’ve experimented with illustrating some posts with flat lay photos, which are creatively satisfying.  My writing in the last few months has been mainly poems, and I plan to try more prose, probably still ending with a rhyming couplet (because I enjoy them).  I also plan to write on paper first, rather than straight on computer, as I think that allows more creativity and thought.  I have a book of writing prompts 642 Things to Write About, which I sometimes use to spark ideas, and I have daringly decided that I will actually start writing on its pages.  This seems almost sacrilegious, but it’s what the book’s intended for.  I will try to follow one prompt every day.

It’s impossible difficult to take a selfie of me writing because I use my left hand for both pen and camera.

‘I trust my readers are agog
anticipating my changed blog.’

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Devices I use include a p.c., a smartphone, a digital camera, an MP3 player, and a tablet which I bought five years ago.  I wanted to read an e-book, plus I was planning an overseas trip.  The tablet travelled with me on many occasions, but the last couple of years it’s almost never been turned on.  Then the BBC withdrew its podcasts from overseas listeners.  Previously I had downloaded these on my p.c., and copied them to my MP3 for late night listening.  I was bereft and missing my Woman’s Hour.  I have a second hand smart phone, and was advised to download the BBC app, but found I couldn’t.  A session with two helpful librarians proved that my smartphone isn’t as smart as it might be.  The app for Google Play Store has been deleted, and thus the BBC app is not available to me.  The librarians suggested I try my tablet, and that worked beautifully.

My Acer tablet

I can once more listen to BBC4’s Woman’s Hour in the middle of the night.  It’s not quite as easy as using the MP3 player, because I share my bed with a husband and a large cat.  I had to learn to hold the tablet carefully to ensure its light doesn’t disturb my sleeping partners, but I’m just so pleased to now have access to the BBC iplayer.  This morning my tablet told me it was down to 2% of battery, I was still able to listen for another hour, without any problem.  The warning is appreciated.

I know that the benefits of all my devices could probably be amalgamated in one new expensive smartphone, but for now I’m content with using a variety.

“Call me Luddite if you will
but each device provides a thrill.”

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