About Lorelle VanFossen

Lorelle VanFossen is a trainer and consultant in WordPress, User Experience (UX), virtual reality, blogging, social media, and online business. Co-founder of Educators in VR and a founding member of the WordPress community, she is a leader in the web publishing industry. She developed the web development degree program at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, and teaches at a variety of colleges, universities, associations, conferences, and meetups on web publishing and digital storytelling and content creation. She also teaches creative writing and genealogy in virtual reality along with other training programs. Author of Lorelle on WordPress and numerous sites, books, and ebooks on blogging, social media, web publishing, she travels the world speaking at conferences about her passion to help people have their say online.

Don’t Be Scammed By SEO Scammers

On a daily basis my inbox is filled with SEO and web design scams and cons. A client just forwarded the following to me asking if I thought this was a legit company and whether or not they needed their services. I got the same one six times in the past three weeks. I’d like to rip into this one as an example to all on how NOT to take these things seriously.

I hope you’re doing well!

After looking through your site: , we found that neither it was making visitors attract towards your site and nor to your business/services.

If you are interested we want to increase the number of visitors to your website as it is important that you have a top position in search-engines.

Our search-engine-optimization experts will run a ranking report showing you exactly where your website currently stands in all the major search engines. Then we will email you our analysis report along with the recommendations of how we can increase your ranking, and improve your websites traffic dramatically.

We strictly work on performance basis and can assure you of getting quality links with a proper reporting format for your site as well.

We wish you the best of luck and looking forward to a long and healthy business relationship with you and your company.

Please do let me know if you have any questions.

Note the colon and comma without a site name in the second sentence. That’s a clue that this is a form letter, not personal, and worth dismissing or marking as spam immediately. I usually mark these as spam. I recommend you do the same to add these to the filters that keep this crap out of your inbox.

…we want to increase the number of visitors to your website as it is important that you have a top position in search-engines.

Sorry, the only way you can increase the number of visitors to my site in regards to search engines is to rewrite or write new content on my site. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard all the SEO games over the years and trust me, content works. This is my site, my content, and I don’t want you touching it. That’s my job.

I also don’t want to be in the top position on search engines. Think about this a moment. I want to be in the top for the things I want to be known for and the matching content I have on my site, but not necessarily at the very top. Others are wiser than I, so they deserve top ranking. If I write the answers they need to the questions they ask, they’ll find me, usually after a bit of digging, but they’ll find me if they need me. Continue reading

Keyboards Wear Out, So Does My Patience With Poor Quality Keyboards

In the July 2008 issue of Smart Computing Magazine, their Action Editor responds to an inquiry about the letters on a keyboard wearing off.

While we understand a scratch or dent on a product caused by a customer would constitute cosmetic damage, we’d call this situation something other than “cosmetic.” As a result, we contacted HP…

…[after offering a newer-model keyboard to the complaining customer] HP researched support calls for the reader’s original product and didn’t find other customers experiencing this issue, so the issue appears isolated.

As I scanned through old issues of the magazine and found this, I have to admit that I squealed my frustration. Since the earliest computer keyboards, I’ve been calling for deeper laser cut letter embedding instead of “stick on” or “paint on” letters and numbers on keyboard. I even spent a few months working with the Microsoft hardware group on testing and reviewing their new line of keyboards to ensure the letters and numbers stayed and weren’t worn off within a few months or less.

Microsoft Keyboard with the letters worn off - by Lorelle VanFosen

Unfortunately, my highly vocal complaints to the keyboard manufacturing community continue to go unheeded as I personally continue to wear out keyboards. Microsoft does have the only keyboard I’ve found that lasts the longest, Logitech the next longest in my information research.

I trained to type on a manual keyboard but quickly switched to an electric as soon as they gained popularity. Yes, I have a strong key strike, and yes, I have long nails, but the keyboard should should put up with any form of abuse for more than two or three months. Few do.

If your keyboard wears out sooner than you think is appropriate, please nag. Nag them to replace it. Nag them to make the letters and numbers last.

Too few people just get a new keyboard or stick on new keyboard number and letter stickers or use a permanent marker.

Complain. Complain loudly.

Unless you are heard, companies like HP are going to continue to think that worn out keyboard keys are isolated cases.

Samsung S2 Rebooting, Rebooting, Rebooting Nightmare

Now that the Tech Nag has a new smart phone, tablet, and more black snacks added to the electrical snake pit, she has even more to bitch and whine about.

The current bitch and whine is also a lesson in what not to do even if it will let you do it. You won’t get away with it.

After the rash of 10 cent apps on the Android Market, Tech Hubby and Nag got addicted to the constant hunt for new apps. Discovering new ways to get those cool apps faster, we installed Chomp, Best App Finder, Ondroid – Top apps chart, Best Apps Market, and My Daily Free Amazon App.

I did say addiction, right?

As you fill up your phone with a ton of apps, even if it’s got more RAM and SD Card space than your laptop, you want to play safe and move some of the space wasters from the phone’s storage to the SD card. The newest phones play well with this…to a point.
Continue reading

Dear WordPress.com, Please Help Me Not Find WordPress.com Posts in Unrelated Searches

Dear WordPress.com:

I love you. I worship you, so it comes with great pain to ask you the following.

Please come up with a way for irrelevant WordPress.com blog posts to stay out of my WordPress searches.

I don’t know how to do this myself, other than by restricting my searches to remove WordPress.com from the results, which is self-defeating as I’m on WordPress.com. A lot of amazing bloggers and WordPress fans are on WordPress.com and doing this will remove them from the search results.

That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about relevancy.

I search for WordPress fill-in-the-blank needing help with whatever WordPress thing I’m working on and I’m flooded with twits babbling about things that have absolutely and completely NOTHING to do with WordPress, and the word WordPress not found anywhere on their site other than “Powered by WordPress” and in the URL. This just shows you how powerful the keyword “WordPress” has become.

So I’m asking you for relevancy. I want my WordPress searches to matter. I don’t want to dig through who broke up with whom, who got drunk last night and crashed their car, some twit arguing with another other the current state of the world when it’s clear that neither understands the state of the world, and a million lolcats.

I want to find WordPress help, resources, and techniques that make the world work better and make my life easier.

Thank you, and keep up the fantastic work otherwise.

Lorelle
The Tech Nag

PS: This nag applies to all you dummies who installed WordPress into a WordPress directory on your server, please see Giving WordPress Its Own Directory « WordPress Codex for moving it into a non-WordPress name so you don’t mess up your own SEO and end up in irrelevant searches.

Dear Websites: Please Stop Using Interstitials, Popups, and Fix Your Bad Code

Dear Websites:

I’ve run across a few websites and blogs recently running interstitials (the modern term for “popup windows that overlay not pop) and a variety of scripts and bad code that cause browser errors.

Please stop this.

The reasons are many, but here are a few.

  1. We hate them.
  2. Interstitials require effort on our part to close which is not a good first impression.
  3. Interstitials work on the clueless not influencers, so check your stats to see if these are really turning into conversions or annoyance.
  4. Browser errors popup warnings in our faces, which is ridiculous in this day and age when it is easy to fix all these and prevent them.
  5. Update your site’s code regularly, for our sake but mostly your own, especially for security reasons. It makes us think bad things when your site is so out of date our browser warns us.
  6. If your site is out of date in look, feel, and functionality, what do you think that says about your content, purpose, and business?

Thank you for updating your sites and fixing all errors today.

Lorelle
The Tech Nag

Dear TED, Don’t Force Yourself Upon Us

Dear Ted:

When it comes to changing the world, few do so more than TED videos. Your tag line, ideas worth spreading, is a humble way of describing the power and influence of your presentations by amazing people.

However, when it comes to presenting your videos, please help improve the world by making your videos not play automatically.

I will often cruise through and open several tabs of TED videos in my browser, then life will charge back in and I’ll have to feed the cats, take a phone call, pay bills, and respond to the mundane life a tech nag leads. If perchance I have to close and restart my browser for a million different reasons, I have to plow through fifty or more tabs to find which ones have the TED videos on to stop them from playing. I’ll suddenly have 3 to 7 voices all talking at me and the video downloads will slow down my computer and browser, not to mention my horrible Internet connection.

While I’m not sure it’s a web standard yet, it is should be. Either way, TED, you exist to change the world. Please set an example for all to follow and give us our control back. Allow us to press PLAY to lose ourselves in the wisdom of others and don’t force yourselves upon us.

Thank you,

Lorelle
The Tech Nag

Dear WordPress, Please Fix the Comments Feed Icon

Dear WordPress:

Please fix the comments feed icon.

WordPress feed icons - can you tell which one is posts and which is comments?

Currently, if a WordPress or WordPress.com users chooses to showcase their feed links on their WordPress blog, it shows the same RSS symbol for both feeds: posts and comments. If the user chooses to only show the icon, there is nothing to inform the reader that there is a difference between the two feeds.

While we can choose to use the icon and text, why force us to clutter up simple common icons with both.

Please change the comments feed icon to indicate it’s the feed for comments on the blog.

I’ve included an example to inspire you, but I know Matt Thomas or the WordPress Community can come up with something more stylized.

Suggestion for adding a common icon to the comments feed icon for WordPress

Thank you,

Lorelle
The Tech Nag

Dear Skype, Please Stop Crashing My Browser

Dear Skype:

I’ve put up with a ton of issues from Adobe Flash crashing my browsers. Now Skype is my main crash deviant.

I’ve put up with your terrible new reinstall that spawns web pages and took FOREVER recently.

You think I’m kidding.

I’ve had Skype installed since Skype began. I’m frequently teased as I’m “Lorelle” on Skype, not “Lorelle254” or some other silly name. I’m the first Lorelle that signed up for Skype, probably in your first 500-1000 registered users. I also pay for your service, so I’m qualified to rant and rave about your growing problems and my increasing frustration.

Logging in today, I was greeted by two confusing “Skype” disguised Internet Explorer browser windows. They were filled with ads but also with options and choices I had to make. I was in a hurry for a meeting and didn’t have time to mess around with reading all the stuff. I just needed to find my login.

It appeared that I would have to install Skype, so I did. Twenty minutes later, I’m now 15 minutes late for my online meeting and Skype is still not installed. Things are loading, whirling, clicking, and my state-of-the-art, powerful computer is locking up and dragging as it consumes memory and hard drive activity. Ten minutes later, it installs, but I’m still clicking around trying to just find a login. I finally find the familiar buttons and open it up, only to have those two damn Internet Explorer windows pop up, covering everything, selling me more Skype crap.

I apologize to the client and life goes on, both of us cursing Skype and browsers, and Internet software in general.

When I’m done, I’m so furious, I completely log out and quit Skype. Continue reading

Dear WordPress, Please Fix 2011 Layout to Put Back in the Sidebar

Dear WordPress:

While I love what you are doing with your new annual default WordPress Themes, and love the features of 2011, please don’t mislead us regarding the layout.

Previewing a post, The sidebar was gone! I felt naked and exposed with no where to go from the post I was viewing. I was frightened, worried for my three readers and my mother visiting the site and getting lost without a clear way to navigate around to all the goodness I’m sharing here.

No sidebar on single post pageview in WordPress 2011 Theme

On the Appearance > Theme Options, I can choose the design layout I want. Left sidebar, right sidebar, or no sidebar.

I clicked VERY hard on right and left sidebar options and I still see only the single post with no sidebar on my posts.

WordPress Theme 2011 - options to set the blog design layout

If I choose a layout style, I expect it is the same for every page on my blog, not just the front page. That doesn’t make sense.

Maybe it’s broken in the Theme. I’ll except that excuse. Please fix it.

Thank you,

Lorelle
The Tech Nag

PS: I’m starting to have nightmares of the original Default/Kubrick WordPress Theme, so please fix this.

Dear Internet Users: Let’s Honor the Good Stuff In Between

Dear Internet Users:

I just got a good look at this brilliant graph by Brad Colbow illustrating what people pay attention to on the Internet.

Chart showing appreciation level of humans, the best and the worst and not much in between

Seriously?

So we pay attention to the really great stuff and the really bad stuff and tend to ignore the in between stuff.

This explains so much.

As I stand in line at the grocery store checkout, I’m constantly reminded of Joan Rivers’ famous comment about good the National Enquirer is for constipation. It’s horrible.

And television. WTF? Seriously. Good actors are now flooding Broadway and theaters around the globe as “real people” doing stupid human tricks are placing them.

Please, Internet Users and everyone, let’s find some room in our hearts for the in between stuff. Let’s once again celebrate the truly remarkable middle of the road stuff. It’s all remarkable.

Let’s appreciate each other more like Doctor Who, so famous for defending humanity in all its shapes, sizes, and ridiculous characters and their actions.

Thank you,

Lorelle
The Tech Nag