Blogging Series- Setting up an Appearance

In a prior post in my Blogging Series, I outlined where to start, how to get a name for your blog, signing up for a blog, and have explained WordPress’ Dashboard and comment control for you.

In this post, we will be going over how to set up a blog’s appearance online.

A blog’s appearance is one of the draw cards to your blog. However, it depends on what the blog is for, personal preferences, and what you can afford which makes it all unique.

To set up the appearance, go to your dashboard and click on the appearance choice on the left side of the screen.

Notice the red circle - this is the appearances section.

Notice the red circle – this is the appearances section.

This activates everything which deals with the appearance of your blog.

Here’s a video where I show you how to get into different screens with appearances or you can read about it below.


There will be a menu which drops down and gives you more options for appearance changes. These are:

Themes – This is where someone has made a template to get you started. You can pick from Free and Paid templates. It’s up to you and how much you want to spend!

Customize – This is how you make the templates yours. Remember, the more you want to customize things the more its likely that its going to cost you money.

Custom Design – If you want to change things in a big way you might need the premium plan which means you pay money.

Site Title and Tagline – You’ve given your blog a name, maybe a tagline or even a picture – make sure it’s on the blog so people know what you blog name is!

Colors & Backgrounds – It’s exactly what it says – changing colors and backgrounds. It’s very basic and if you want a specific color chances are you are going to want to spend some money.

Fonts – Again it’s exactly what it says – fonts. The basic ones are free but if you are trying to use a certain type of font, again it’s probably going to cost you.

Header Image – Do you have an image you want people to know you as? Then use it here – think of Nike and other famous companies with logos.

Widgets – Want to put something that’s completely outside of WordPress? Chances are there’s a widget for it – sometimes these depend on the theme you’ve chosen, so choose wisely young Palawan as Yoda would say.

Static Front Page – this means if you want your front page which doesn’t change then turn it on, but if you want the most recent posts to appear, then turn it off. It’s up to you…

Widgets – These are the widgets which are available to you. From displaying spam, to about me, to blogs follow, blog stats, RSS links, Twitter – they are all here for you to use. Click on Add and add them you go…

The Widgets section

The Widgets section

Menus – Do you want a menu on your site? If so, this is where you put the menu structure in place.

Header – Again this is where you can customize your Header image, tagline, etc.

Background – Again, this is another way you can customize the background.

Mobile – This is to make your site accessible by cell/mobile or tablet friendly. Remember, Google has made the rankings when people search for things dependent if your site is accessible via these devices as of April 2015.

You might need to make a change and then preview the page and go back and forth until you get the site how you want it. This is where I can tell you where things are located, but its personal preference as to how you set things up.

One thing I do recommend, is from time to time refresh or freshen up your blog – in other words, go in and make some changes to make it look new and exciting. Add new or delete old features as features change or new ones happen.

Did I cover what you wanted to know? If not, let me know!

 Your next step for the blog will be talking more in-depth about Widgets. This will be done on the next post in the Blogging Series.


New posts and Spam

Hello to all my followers and readers.

Firstly, I want to say thank you for following and reading my blog. Without you, I wouldn’t be doing this.

Secondly, I want to say sorry I haven’t been posting, but I’ve been, repeatedly, over the last amount of weeks, comment spammed.

I’ve been trying to weed out the genuine comments and the comments that are just spam. I have been using Akismet, but I found many emails which were not spam were actually found as spam.

Akismet Stats

Akismet Stats

Due to this, it has slowed down my research and creative blog posts which is why I haven’t posted. A further consequence is looking at more ways to protect against spam and this could mean other codes needing to be put in while commenting or other such measures. Again, this is taking away the time where I want it to be put – with you my readers.

Please be patient with me and I will return – promise!

Stay Calm

Stay Calm

Blogging Series-Is it difficult to set up your own blog? Are they very technical? Colors/theme?

Now we come to some of the questions I’ve been getting asked. These even get asked in one of the classes I teach which is part of a Social Media course.

Is it difficult to set up your own blog?

Actually it isn’t difficult at all.

Step 1:

Sit down and make a list of topics you want on your blog.

Before you do any of the setting up, sit down and list all the topics you want to talk about on your blog. How long will they be? Maybe put subtopics down and list ideas from there. What’s the overall, general topic of everything? Then sit down and think up a name for your blog using the general topic within the title. An example would be this blog. I talk about a range of IT or computer and internet problems, questions, and concerns. Then I’ve listed things like social media, viruses, software (operating systems), tablets and computers…and then named it an IT Blog with my name.

Step 2:

Choosing a site to host your blog. Back when I first started to blog, the most used blog site was Google’s Blogger. Keep in mind, back then a blog was basically a chat about what you did in a day, which is why after a while I stopped writing it because my life is just NOT that eventful – usually. After that, I was researching something else, and found the concept of blogging had changed. Its more topic driven rather than tell me what you’ve done today type of thing. This is when I started to get back into it.

Which do I choose? Other?                           Taken from


Then I found the hosting for blogs had changed from mainly Google’s Blogger to WordPress. I researched and found for social or hobbies people use Blogger but for “professional” or more business oriented feel people use WordPress. Which is why I have a blog listed on WordPress and 2 blogs (a personal views blog and a family history blog) on Blogger.

Are there more sites to host blogs out there? Yes, there are, but people are using Blogger and WordPress more often than not. Tumbler is a type of service which has been getting more popular, but still not as popular as the other 2 listed above.

Further, if you are more tech savvy, sometimes people put their blog on their websites using one of the services that are online. As this can be complicated, I won’t get into this here. In fact, I don’t use this at all, but I do have a link on my website to here so people can still find it.

Step 3:

Another question that is asked about quite a bit is cost. The blog, for me, has cost me nothing but my time and energy to set up and write. Well, except for the internet connection to have access. You can buy themes and such, but that is strictly up to you.

Step 4:

So far the setting up of the blog hasn’t been technical at all – am I right? Now we’re going to start getting into setting it up. This requires you to choose one of the blogging sites out there. For our purposes, I will show you how to set up a blog here on WordPress. You will need to sign up for the service on a blogging site. Below is what the website looks like. If you look at the address bar you would see you need to go to

WordPress' sign up page at

WordPress’ sign up page at

As you can see, its pretty much right there in the middle of the page for you to click on. Then there will be some information to fill out. One of these is to choose a URL or address for your blog. A Tip? Keep it connected to the name of your blog so people will remember it easily.

Can you change the blog address after you’ve named it?

Yes, you can BUT if you do this then the people who were following you before will probably be lost – either through not going back in and following the new address or not being told of the address.

Within the main dashboard (think of your car – this is what control the blog) you can click on My Blogs option and then run your mouse over the blog name and select choose. I’ve found full instructions on the WordPress site.

This is the page I would get if I go in to change the address of THIS blog.

This is the page I would get if I go in to change the address of THIS blog.

Step 5:

Once you sign up, then upon signing in, the first thing you will see is the dashboard. As I’ve mentioned above, think of it like the dashboard of your car. If you want lights on, know how fast you’re going, and on and on it will tell you and the same goes for the blog.

I’ve done a video explaining the Dashboard to you.

Also, here’s a video on how to protect your blog from getting unwanted or rude comments.

Is this answering any questions you were having about blogging? Are there things I’m missing? Please let me know!

 Your next step for the blog will be setting up an appearance. This will be done on the next post in the Blogging Series.

Blogging Series- What is it and why one?

Lately, I’ve had queries through feedback about blogging and all it encompasses it. As I’ve put in my comments back, I would answer these questions via the blog post. As blogging is such a huge topic, based upon questions I’ve had, I’ve decided to do a series on the different blogging questions I’ve been asked.

If you find I haven’t covered something that you want to know, let me know and I’ll include it either as I’m going along, or as a separate post.

Future blogging topics:

  • What is a blog? Why use a blog?
  • Is it difficult to set up your own blog? Are they very technical? Colors/theme?
  • Where do I begin with my blog? Points and suggestions
  • Blogging tips & tricks
  • Widgets for blogs

Did I forget anything? Remember this is a topic suggested by – YOU – my readers, so let me know if I’m covering what you want me to! I will also post this as another page on the blog so you can refer to these topics. I know I go over these when I teach my class on blogging.

blog wordleNow getting down to business…

What is a blog?

Back in 2013, I first covered this topic in my post “Social Media – My View on – Blogging“. When blogging first started it was like a journal. However, now they are used for discussing topics on different things – hobbies, career information, production information, product information, views on current events and the list can go on and on.

In fact, I have 3 blogs that I write for. I can see your eyes now – 3 of them? What the..? Yes, I have many hobbies and views on different things, so I’ve sectioned off each blog. When I first started out, I wrote on one blog and it was just about my uneventful days back in the early 2000’s. Then I took a break I know reading the blogs made ME bored so I could only image what people who read it thought of it.

When I came back 2 1/2 years ago, I took anther look at it and decided, for the most part to delete most of the posts. I think I kept the Happy holiday posts. I then restarted it and found that putting my personal feelings on topics and IT stuff shouldn’t really be in the same place. Why would people wanting to know IT stuff want to read what I think of the current Australia government? Besides IT was career and education things and should probably be put where it was more professional than the personal stuff. This put me looking at WordPress and getting to know it.

The blog count at this point was 2. One for my personal views on things and one on IT professional information. Easy. Only I was finding that I needed to share my genealogy and family history information and hopefully find more family. Great! I’ll start-up a blog about it that way it separate from everything.

Now the blog count was at 3 and this is where it is today.

Why do I need a blog?

Firstly, you don’t need a blog. However, people do use them to communicate and get their products or information out there. It’s a personal decision really. The way I see it it’s like everyone needs a job to bring in money – but do you get hired by either a company or someone or do you start your own company. It’s that type of decision.

Me? I was born in New York State, and I have my views. I used to just blurt my views out there and basically people dealt with them. Now, I’m a bit smarter (blame me working for the state government for nearly 6 years!) and wiser and I will give my views, but usually in a general sense unless directly asked and then I will tell you exactly how I feel – which is why I have my personal blog, so I can blurt it out there and yet protect the people I’m blurting about.

Where do I get started on my blog?

If you are just getting started, sit down and list out what you want to talk about on your blog. Then look at the topics you’ve listed. Are they all of the same topic? If so what is the general topic – and this is you basis for your blog. Each post can be what the topics are or if they are big topics, maybe do a few of the ones you think people are interested in hearing and then start a series or break the topics down into small bites.

However, if you find the topics are NOT connected, then make up columns for each overall topic. The put each of the listed topic in the overall topic column and see what matches. Then you have a decision – do all of the topics match somehow? Or are they different? Do you really want to do all of the topics or can you swing some of the topics around to fit into the bigger topics?

And this is how you figure out what you are going to write and how to narrow what you write or blog about. This will also help you in naming your blog with something catchy but at the same time meaningful which tells the readers what your blog is about.

A sample of what MY topic list would look like

A sample of what MY topic list would look like

I have an established blog but don’t know what to write about?

I confess – I do have this same problem from time to time. This is why I’ve taken to sporadically posting. Sure, I could have wasted everyone’s time and just type up something to waste everyone’s time (remember I said I worked for the government? I got really good at doing that!) but if you’re visiting me here, then I want to make your time worth something.

Now on topics… you can go about these in a few ways.

  • Either you see something on the news and want to talk about it – blam! You have a topic.
  • You heard about something (product, medical stuff) and want to talk about it – well sit down, do your research and blam! You have another topic.
  • You read other blogs or articles online. Something catches your eye as a topic – blam! Another topic.
  • You can also revisit that list you started out with and figure out where you got those ideas and look there for more ideas.

And the ideas go on and on.We are all different and get ideas in different places and think of things constantly. This is one problem of my brain – it just doesn’t stop and sometimes I wish I can pull those batteries right out of that little sucker.

So are you ready to get started on writing those lists up?

question with stickman

Google’s changed look at websites & being mobile friendly

I’m sure as the mobile computing has changed over the years from not done or able to some people tried it to now people are using their mobile devices regularly. In fact in early 2014 (yep that’s over a year ago!) mobile internet surfing (keep in mind that mobile internet surfing is using a defined as using a smart phone, tablet, laptop or other devices you are able to easily pack up and move out of your home or place of business) mobile device usage has overtaken that of PC’s. Don’t believe me? Look at the article in Search Engine Watch which states:

“Mobile Exceeds PC Internet Usage for First Time in History

In early 2014, the landscape in which businesses operate changed forever when Internet usage on mobile devices exceeded PC usage.”

Taken from Search Engine Watch article

To me, this isn’t a shock. I still remember back 14 years ago when September 11th attacks happened in NY. Getting emails from family in on my home PC was fine, but I HAD to go to work the next day as my boss was away and not contactable, so I was it. I travel using the public transport system here, at that point, and it took me over an hour to get into their and then the walk to work. That morning I was trying to use my phone (Motorola P7389) which had WAP (or

What my cell/mobile Motorola back then. Picture from Mobizine Update website

Wireless Application Protocol which was the new – at that time – standard for mobile internet usage) on it. We got the phone because it was compatible to use between Australia and the US and could surf the net. If only we knew how hard it was to use WAP we probably would have had another rethink due to the price (the phone was over $500 back then AND the WAP function was very expensive – I spent over $10 and only got the bare search engine site up). Ahh the things and lessons we learn over the years!

Anyhow, today almost everyone (I still know of 3 hold outs – my father, my father in law and my brother. My brother doesn’t even use messaging because he figures if anyone wants to talk to him they can call him *insert my eyes rolling here*) uses a smart phone if not a tablet of some sort.

Due to this, I know when you are developing a website you cater for both the desktop PC and a tablet/smart phone. If you don’t, then these possible consumers/guests will not get the information they might need from your website because of the coding of it.

What’s Google doing?

Now Google is getting tough. According to Social Media Today’s article “Google to Businesses: You Have Until April 21st to Get Mobile Friendly“, if your website is not Mobile Ready (aka you can view it using a mobile device) as of 21 April 2015, Google will be adding a Mobile Ready ranking to each website. If your website is NOT Mobile Ready, then this will severely degrade your standing in their algorithms when people do searches. In fact, if your website has already low numbers this will put your site at the bottom of the pile.

Tick tock! Image taken from

Why hasn’t Google informed me of this change yet?

Actually, since January Google has sent many webmasters emails stating their websites are not doing good on usability standings and to please fix them. I think either businesses haven’t acted upon them or they have ignored them thinking they weren’t that bad. In fact, Search Engineland even wrote an article up about this and it might be used for something bigger. How right they were because now Google’s going that one step farther.

Still not convinced this is just something they started within the last year with the rankings? I’d say that’s false because Google has been working with this idea before Mid 2014. There was an article “Google Is Experimenting With Special Ranking For Mobile-Friendly Sites” and this was in November, so they would have been working on this for months – or longer – before it got out. I know here at home we knew something was going on because rankings were changing and things that were searched upon were further down and we didn’t know why. Well now I do know why – they were applying or trialling out the algorithm.

My certification for Web Based Technologies

I know when I was taking my Web Technologies class, we had to concentrate our websites on functionality, accessibility (or SEO – Search Engine Optimization) and making sure EVERYONE could access it – no matter what platform or disability they had. To do otherwise would be criminal to both the people accessing your site and to your business.

How do I know if my site has SEO

My Android & Apple Devices

My Android & Apple Devices

If you don’t know if your site has SEO, I would suggest going away from work taking your mobile devices (all of them) and trying them out independently. Further, if you have both Apple and Android, I’d take both types with you and give them a try. You will find out each of these devices drive the coding on websites differently and you need to make sure they work on both. If they don’t or they take a while loading (you don’t want to sit there forever waiting for a site to load) then you or someone needs to take a look at it. AND if it’s a business website? You better get them on it now as you only have until April 21st 2015 until they start to affect your search ratings.

Would you like 2GB of FREE storage?

I hope that got your attention! For a limited time – until February 17 2015 – you can get 2GB extra online storage on Google Drive. This is to celebrate Safer Internet Day!

Safer Internet Day – what is it and should it matter?

What is Safer Internet Day? From their website, it says “to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world.” I think it should be “to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile/cell phones FOR EVERYONE across the world.” This is because everyone uses the internet and yet the (I’m going to term this one) more experienced generation who is not as technological savvy needs to know how to be safer and more responsible doing things online as well as the younger generation. That being said, I guess the younger generation is usually how you feel rather than a number, so keep that in mind too!

To celebrate this day, Google is supporting it by offering anyone that has an account (if you don’t have one, then sign up – its free and gives you 15 GB of overall storage for email and file space) and does a quick internet check up an extra 2GB of internet file storage for FREE. We all love free stuff right? I know I do.

What is online, internet, and Cloud internet storage?

Do you understand what online or internet file storage is? Or how about Cloud storage? iCloud storage? Google Drive? Dropbox? These are all the same – its a place online where you can go and put files (pictures, PDF, Word, Excel just to name a few) onto someone/a company’s hard drive instead of either a USB/thumb drives and/or external hard drives. If you don’t know about them, I would seriously check them out because:

  • in most cases you get a free set amount of space – FOR FREE
  • In case something happens to your home, computer or storage device and you need information it’s there and handy no matter if you are at work, shopping, on vacation/holidays, or anywhere in the world. A good example I give would be the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. Houses, land and cars were completely gone. Everyone scrambled for insurance, car and house information and they didn’t know. However, if they had this information scanned in and put into one of these services, they could just asked for an internet connection and gave or shared the information with the person at the insurance companies.

  • It’s easy to use. The companies have apps and/or programs you can put on your computer – when you go to save, just click in this area and choose a file name. It’s that easy – just like saving to the USB/thumb drives or external hard disk drives.

Most people don’t know it’s there even if they have their Gmail accounts. Go ahead and look and use it. Its free, easy and takes as long as saving it normally, so why wouldn’t you use it and you’ll have the reassurance your information is protected from outside interferences.

Why do the Google Drive Internet Checkup?

If you do the Internet Checkup, then it ensures you are protected as best as you can be with your accounts. Its easy and it took me less than 2 minutes to do the check up. The picture below is what it checks out.

What the Google Drive's Security check looks at

What the Google Drive’s Security check looks at

At the end of the month, PCWorld says in their article “Get 2 GB of free Google Drive storage forever with a quick security check” and Google will give you 2GB of extra space – forever. It’s not one of those deals where you get it for a month, 6 months, or a year and then it disappears on you – this is forever.

I seriously recommend you sign up, if you haven’t, for one of the great internet file storage systems out there. If you like your Google Drive, then go ahead and claim that extra 2GB on them!

Windows 10 is to arrive in 2015 – What’s in it for you?

Everyone always wants to know what is in it for them…no matter what it is. Looking for a new car – what does it have that I want? A house – does it have what we want/need? A restaurant – does it have what we want? Want, Want, Want…its all we ask ourselves for.

However this time with Windows 10, I can understand people taking the time and asking – Do I really want Windows 10 this year after Windows 8? The horror stories of Windows 8…I wonder how they’ll screw up Windows 10. That’s probably what everyone’s thinking and cringing about. I know I was when Windows 10 was first mentioned and besides why do I need to upgrade?

Thinking back….and what about Windows 9? Did it get lost?I first covered Windows 10 in October 2014’s post called Have you heard the news on Microsoft’s Windows?

At that point, the word was Windows 9 would be an upgrade for Windows 8 users (Windows 8.1 and Windows RT users included) and it would he a very small fee for those who wanted to leave Windows 7 and upgrade.

Then upon the announcement, Microsoft had decided to go directly to Windows 10 – forget about Windows 9. Then the questions started – Why? Why would Microsoft do this? What happened to Windows 9? There was a range of ideas floating about:

  • Trying to distance itself from Windows 8’s tragic software was probably the most widely sprouted idea.
  • Trying to start again – it’s a big enough change of the software so starting again
  • This software was started back in 2010 so just keeping up the reflection of the year it was started (like Windows 95, 98, 2000). This was a bit of a stretch for me, but OK if people want to believe this.

And it went on and on. I think all up there were something like 10 different reasons why. To me it doesn’t matter, as long as the software gets BETTER for the users. As a teacher, beginners need something that is right there and easily explained. For the more experienced users, they need to get in and get stuff done rather than search day and night for what they use. This leaves me with the question – What WILL Microsoft’s Windows 10 do for all of us? That is the real question.

What came about at yesterday’s announcement of Windows 10 was pretty good if it stays that way. The main points of Windows 10 are:

Are you a Windows 7 or one of the many Windows 8 users? Then you can update to Windows 10 FOR FREE … but there’s a catch (isn’t there always?)…

PC World’s article “Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users“. According the article the terms and conditions (or t/c as some people know them as) state:

Here’s the fine print from the Windows 10 page on Microsoft’s site:

“It is our intent that most of these devices will qualify, but some hardware/software requirements apply and feature availability may vary by device. Devices must be connected to the internet and have Windows Update enabled. ISP fees may apply. Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 Update required. Some editions are excluded: Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1. Active Software Assurance customers in volume licensing have the benefit to upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise outside of this offer. We will be sharing more information and additional offer terms in coming months.”

So this means if you have the above done, and you don’t have Enterprise, then you are fine for the update. More than PC World is reporting this – CNet,Yahoo tech, Tech Crunch, ComputerWorld – just to name a few!

Of course there’s another snag – er condition – Microsoft operating system chief Terry Myerson announced that current users of Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free for one year after the operating system launches. Once you’ve claimed the upgrade, Microsoft will keep you updated for the supported lifetime of the device.

Then we start to think – Why would we want to do this besides the supported lifetime of the device? How about Microsoft stopping support on Windows 7? Yep, no more support for Windows 7 mainstream will end. Huh? Yep as of January 13, 2015, Microsoft stopped mainstream support for Windows 7–which is still an extremely popular operating system. But you’ll still be able to use it safely for another five years.

This will bring you up to current software and it won’t cost you. That’s a savings of almost $120 for the upgrade.

Other positives? Let’s look at Windows 10 as they gave everyone a bit of an in-depth look at the OS.

There will be 2 different types of Windows – Cortana – which is the artificial intelligence (to combat Apple’s Siri) will handle if the software is on a desktop, tablet or phone. Each will handle a bit different because she will pick up if a mouse, monitor and keyboard is attached. If not, then it defaults to the tablet/phone interface.

We say goodbye to IE or Internet Explorer. Well in a way we do. Apparently they are keeping the concept but now its name is Spartan. Yep just like the Greek town. Why is it when I heard about it thought of a Greek fighter? Maybe that’s the image they are trying to overcome as well – because I always term IE as Swiss cheese because of the security flaws. I’m just wondering if the interface will be as sexy as the Greek fighter image I have in my head – I doubt it.

Gaming is made better and DirectX will be installed as part of the OS. Good? Bad? This one got me a who the hell cares type of feeling, but I know my husband will like it as he’s the gamer in the family.

In late 2014, they announced some other features will be returning on the desktop software – start button and task bar to name a few. I’ve

Apparently the announcement didn’t go any further than this – not even a release date in sight other than them to say 2015. Hmmm as of now its less than 344 days if it gets released around New Years of 2015 that is. There are beta copies and the Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program is there but apparently very unstable, so I wouldn’t try it unless you want to lose your data I’m told.

From experience, the developers are working towards an end date but just not letting everyone else in on it – yet.

Who’s looking forward to Windows 10?? Anyone that’s game enough to admit to it? I know I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks of this one…