A Blog Bog

Sunrise, 2015 (Virginia Beach)

Sunrise, 2015 (Virginia Beach)

While Uncle Remus’ stories of Brer Fox, Brer Rabbit, and Brer Bear have fallen out of fashion, the Tar Baby incident illustrates my sentiments about this blog since the start of 2015. In this tale, Brer Rabbit allows himself to be trapped by a Tar Baby — a figure that Brer Fox has fashioned out of tar and posed in the road, knowing that the sociable Brer Rabbit will attempt to strike up a conversation with the Tar Baby. When the Tar Baby fails to respond, Brer Rabbit eventually gets frustrated and strikes the Tar Baby — only to find himself caught in the sticky tar. Of course the wily Brer Rabbit outwits his captor by manipulating Brer Fox into tossing him in the briar patch, but, for a time, Brer Rabbit is entangled with the ooey-gooey figure of tar, unable to extricate himself.

I took a break over the holidays — partly to enjoy time with my college kids and working son, partly to celebrate Christmas, partly to visit with extended family. On returning from a week at the beach, where we shared a very large house with other family members, I had amassed quite a few photos and was mentally planning a couple of posts. I still hadn’t figured out how to juggle time spent on my blog with time spent on my daily responsibilities, but the creative wheels were beginning to spin. Then I read an article in The Daily Post recommending that I “optimize” my photos before posting them, and — wham! Just like Brer Rabbit, I was entangled in a mental mess, unsure how to proceed.

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Horseshoe crab’s shell

IMG_3508 (640x480)The reasons for “optimizing” images — which, as best I can tell, means to resize them — were good ones: smaller photo files load more quickly and take up less space. All well and good, but I began to feel as if I had plunged a foot into a murky bog. Here was another process to factor into the time it takes to put together a blog post, and I already had difficulty justifying the time spent on my blog(s). At the very least, it would take at least five minutes per photo to resize and save it; for a post with ten photos, that’s nearly an extra hour. And I’d have to be careful to save the resized photo as a new file, so that I didn’t lose my original high-res file. I might even need to install a new program on my over-loaded computer.

Guess how many blog posts I wrote after reading that article? Zero. On my other site, which is more abstract in orientation, I found that, even with one foot bogged down in the mire of indecision, I could still write Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday posts. But here on sappy as a tree, where I wanted to write a couple of posts with many photos, I was stuck.

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Part of the tail of a skate

I had plenty of time to think about blog posts yesterday as I drove my daughter to an out-of-town audition: she had been up past midnight the night before at a homeschool formal, so she needed to sleep in the car. I could have listened to music or an audiobook, but I decided to keep things quiet. I muted the GPS, kept an eye out for cops, and planned blog post after blog post.

Up to now, I had felt proud of myself for not accumulating many unpublished drafts in my Dashboard; for this site, there are only three unpublished drafts: no guts, no glory, right? But I realized something as I drove down the road: I’ve been drafting posts all along, but, mostly, they never get out of my head and onto WordPress. Now, with the weighty issue of image optimization dragging me down, I was less likely than ever to transform my latest ideas into posts.

All week long, we saw many egg sacs of skates along the shore.

We saw many egg sacs of skates along the shore.

It’s not that I have to optimize images, you understand, but I’ve been on the readers’ side, waiting for the images to upload. I can see that this is the way of the future, and, for this post, I will experiment with resizing my images before I upload them to the library. Or I could just beg Brer Fox to throw me in the briar patch? P1070759 straighten (640x469)

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32 thoughts on “A Blog Bog

  1. I thought having no drafts was a good idea too. Except, after the NaNoBloPo I decided it would be worth it to have a months worth of completed drafts where I could post twice a week. The trick is to have them completed without being eager to post them. I also wonder when I did get around to posting them, how much time would I spend on tweaking them? Then the other thing is that completed drafts would all be mixed in with the draft notes that I take and most of those are either cheesy or have a time limit. I should stay on top of deleting those.

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  2. I have never thought about optimising the photos I use, and reading the comments now I’m wondering about the space I have left! Oh well, I am similar in that I don’t want to spend hours preparing photos and I like that this is free, no pressure for me. If it helps I haven’t had difficulty loading your posts 🙂

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  3. I don’t find your photos/posts load too slowly. I think I used to mess with sizing, but I don’t anymore. I’ll say this — people who monetize their blogs and have lots of ads, their blogs take forever to load! I dislike that, personally, and prefer to have a blog that’s like my own cozy personal corner online. Yours is lovely 🙂

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  4. I am somewhat amused by the word “optimize,” which was used in the Daily Post article and communicated very little to me (or to several other readers, based on the comments). I’m not completely convinced that the appearance doesn’t suffer from being resized, but that probably depends on the resolution of the viewer’s screen? I did not use a resized version of two of the photos in this post: when I resized the first photo of the birds on the beach, there seemed to be blank space within the frame, and it didn’t look good to me; I had cropped the photo of the skate egg sac and decided not to edit it further.

    Glad to hear that I’m not the only one with blog posts in her head! There are always some cumbersome parts about turning a vision into something tangible, whether in writing or in another medium. . . .

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    • Thank you 🙂 That is one of two photos in this post that I ultimately uploaded at full-resolution (since it was taken on my iphone, it wasn’t a huge file): when I resized it, it didn’t look as good to me.

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        • I have had similar experiences, Beth. There are many pitfalls to avoid with digital pictures; sometimes, I’ll look back at the photos I took in the late 90s (pre-digital camera) and marvel at the quality and color. But — they aren’t very easy to share!

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  5. Sandi, you know I post photos a lot; i don’t even think about that. The only thing I do is to never publish a full size photo. I use mostly large sizes and high quality.
    Don’t get stuck because of this, go ahead and do what you feel is right.
    I have no problem to open your blog on mobile or computer.
    And these are gorgeous photos to be missed.
    Take care.

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    • Aww, thanks, Lucile. It is helpful to know that my photos aren’t slowing you down too much. For this post, I “optimized” most of the photos, but one photo didn’t seem to fit the standard WP frame after being resized.

      I do think the biggest factor is, which camera did I use? With my Nikon, I will probably try to resize, b/c those files are very large. Thanks for the tip about avoiding full-size photos!

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  6. There is another facet to this problem. If you notice on your media settings, there is always a little reminder that you have X# gb of space left for photos or whatever. What will happen when you fill those? Will you be so attached to your blog that you cannot resist the price WP will charge for your needed increase? Granted that photos do make a good blog post better, but what if the space you are allowed runs out soon? I have been tempted to make one of my blogs private and post whatever is in my heart without all the pictures to lure readers. I need to write family history for children and grandchildren and maybe leave the rest to those who have unlimited funds.

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    • I have been watching my media library fill up, too: that is one reason I decided to try optimizing. Even in this post, however, I wound up using using full-res for a couple of photos , for various reasons. Since I took almost all the photos in this post on my iphone, they weren’t THAT big. It’s the photos from my Nikon that are huge files.

      I hope no official WordPress person is reading this, but I probably would pay for an increase at least once. It would depend somewhat on whether it was a one-time payment or an ongoing fee? So far, I’ve paid WP nothing. . . .

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      • How do you keep out the advertising without using paid upgrades? The very first article I posted had tons of ads on it and the only way I could eliminate those was to pay. I could not see the ads on my computer, but when I asked hubby to check behind me, the ads were blatant.

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        • Hmm. The ads are probably something to consider; I have noticed them before, but my husband and I couldn’t see them on his phone or on my daughter’s laptop. I’m not sure why “free” is so important to me: the less it costs, the less pressure I feel — and lack of pressure is a good thing for me, right now.

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        • My husband immediately offered to upgrade my blogs (3 of them) to help me get rid of the ads. Normally he is a very frugal person, so that ought to tell you something about the quality of the ads.

          There was an offer to choose the ads at first if I blogged for pay, but I was not interested in that at all. I did not want that encumbrance. Now I am really curious why our beginning experiences were so different. We both began with the same software–the same company..

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  7. I discovered optimising just before xmas and now compress photos before I upload them to WP so they appear more quickly on the page for readers. It does seem to help readers who don’t have particularly good wifi, especially if I’ve posted lots of photos on the same post so I hope you work it out! And as for capturing ideas, can I suggest a calendar? I use a spreadsheet for the year ahead and play around with scheduling of posts to make sure that I don’t miss upcoming events etc. It really helps me to know what I have to do each week and also means that I can plan ahead, capturing notes for upcoming posts if I find useful information beforehand etc. Its just a thought and I’m just passing forward the help I’ve had from other bloggers! Keep up the good work and keep the photos coming!

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    • Do you mind if I ask how much you resize them? I had started to install Picasa, but my computer has been running more slowly since I upgraded my security software, and I decided not to add another program to the mix. I found that I could use Windows Photo Gallery to resize pictures and was given the option of small (640), medium (800), large (1024), and custom. I think I chose “small” for most of the photos? One thing I liked about using Windows was that it automatically saved the resize photo under a new name.

      Thanks for the idea of using a calendar! That sounds helpful.

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      • My Mac iPhoto program allows me to export photos as small, medium or full-size (it sound much like your Windows Photo Gallery) so I export files as medium then import them to WP. Files are exported with the same name as in iPhoto so its easy to track which ones are which. I find it works nicely as it compresses my photos down from some very large files and means my WP pages refresh faster. I haven’t used a specific program to do it, but I hope this is useful – it sounds like you’re on the right track with what you’re doing anyway so keep up the great work! And good luck with the calendar, I find it invaluable help is being organised!

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  8. Oh man, you are preaching to the choir here. Lots written in my head, and even on paper, but the computer/photo/WP machinations bring everything to a screeching halt. I haven’t optimized and now I wonder if my photos bog down speed for readers. On the other hand, all photos come thru quickly on all my computers, and I doubt all bloggers I follow are optimizing. I hope someone tells you whether that really matters !!

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    • I’d also like to know who’s “optimizing” and who’s not. I had mistakenly thought that you could adjust the size when you uploaded to WordPress, but I must have confused that with Shutterfly or Snapfish.

      For me, using less media space is probably a good idea; I’m not excited about the extra step, but I’ll probably get used to it.

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      • On my blogs there is a step that allows me to adjust the size of the pictures. When I remember to do it, I try to make the pictures easier to load in the first place. Remember how very different your pictures looked on my blog when you posted the article about your mother? What your blog did to those was very different from what mine did to them. I have forgotten now what caused that.

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