Managing Comments on WordPress.com Presents a Huge Challenge 

WordPress.com’s Comments System is a Nightmare

It’s Why I’ve Struggled With Publishing Comments to vsatips

I’d like to thank my readers and followers for all of the thoughtful and great comments you’ve sent to me since I began this site. It’s obvious to me that many of those were written with the intent that they’d be added at the end of each piece that they followed. The reason that hasn’t happened is because the Comments engines for WordPress.com are anything but intuitive. In trying to figure out how and where to even find them, I uncovered one of the more problematic aspects of using WordPress.com as the base structure for my website.

So, please accept my genuine and somewhat embarrassed apology for taking so long to reply to so many of your comments. Hopefully this is a case of better late than never? 

Explanation for my Apology to Readers for Not Publishing Your Comments Sooner

I was pretty horrified when I realized just how many really great comments were written to me…and I’m really sorry I didn’t see them or reply to them sooner. This whole exercise came about because occasionally I’d receive and email telling me I had a comment…but then no link or other clue as to where I might find it. These were just occasional up until the last few months in which I’ve received several comments a week. I’ve been completely frustrated trying to figure out where these are and then how to allow them to both publish and enable replies.

I’ve actually spent several weeks if not months trying (granted somewhat sporadically) to understand how to manage and even just navigate within my comments. Once I finally understood that part of it…which was no easy feat…I needed to figure out how to handle the largest volume of real comments which were erroneously left as feedback.

Finally today I arrived at a plan to remedy the fact that I have roughly 50 authentic and great comments that no one has been able to see. Worse yet is that I have no way of replying to them!

Here’s a brief explanation of the problem. I always include a Comment Box that I place at the end of each post or page. But comments rarely arrive to me via that route. I guess that’s because WordPress has another feature that they call Feedback…which appears even lower on each page that I publish. While this Feedback option is physically lower on the page, and its smaller and less obvious than my Comments section is, it seems that a vast majority of comments end up being posted there rather than in their intended target…my Comment’s Boxes.

This is a huge problem because Feedback is very difficult to work with!

I can’t reply to Feedback and any comments made in Feedback don’t show up as additions at the end of my posts. 

So I’ve been struggling with how to publish all of the comments that I’ve received in the Feedback section (which has been the vast majority of my authentic comments) as well as with how to manage all of the SPAM comments that seem to flood my real Comments section. I finally learned how to really identify SPAM too…which isn’t as easy as it sounds! And I finally came up with a method to republish all of those previously unpublishable real and oftentimes very helpful comments! So that’s what I’ve been doing all day today…republishing comments that are worthwhile to the conversation and trying to deal with or delete the spammy ones (which I stupidly allowed sometimes before I understood what they were!)

Unfortunately, there were just too many to complete in one day and tomorrow we’re leaving for a short vacation. So rest assured I’ll finish up publishing all the real comments within the next week or two (and after our little mini vacation!)

I also came up with several ideas to prevent this problem from recurring. 

My plan going forward has 3 main components:

  1. Disable pingbacks and trackbacks completely. These are ‘comments’ that are automatically generated every time I include a link to somewhere else on my site. These have inflated the total number of comments a lot thereby obscuring real comments and making navigating the entire system difficult at best.

  2. I designed a new Comments section that’s wrapped in a colorful background so that (hopefully) it will really stand out and there will never be a question regarding where to leave a comment.

  3. I changed the message in the Feedback section from:

‘Leave a Reply’

to

‘Leaving a reply here is private. Your comment won’t be published and I won’t be able to reply to it. If you use the Comments section above, once your comment is approved, it will be published and I’ll be able to reply to it too.’

Final Thoughts

Thank you to all my readers for your patience understanding and especially for all the great comments you’ve shared with me and our larger audience! As always your privacy will be my utmost concern. You’ll never be required to leave your real name or an email address when you leave a comment.

Check out my new and improved Comments Section!

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Contrary to Everything I’ve Read, It is Possible to Create a Link to any Apple Note on ios

My notes directory for my master plan

This post includes a couple of very easy strategies you can employ if you find yourself spending way to much time searching for certain Apple Notes

A Few Simple Organization Ideas for Apple Notes

If like me you’ve begun using Apple Notes a lot more since Apple added all of their enhanced features beginning with ios 9, you’ve probably found yourself with a lot more notes than previously. You can organize these into folders quite readily using any ios or OS device and even into subfolders if you happen to have a Mac computer.

But the Folders used for organization may not always be enough for you. No doubt at some point you’ll find you need better, deeper, quicker, or more visual ways of referencing and finding specific notes.

I’m extremely challenged when it comes to things like this…it’s probably one reason I keep so many notes in the first place! So, I devised a few easy ways to help me keep my notes under control as their number increases…but tools which primarily help me find my notes again!

That’s where note links come into play.

It appears to be a closely guarded secret that you can create and use links that you generate for notes in Apple Notes. It’s taken me quite a long time to discover this feature…not for lack of trying. And now that I have I find myself using it often. The main idea is that you can generate a hot link or an URL to any note. Furthermore, you can share that link with someone else. Or, you can  just share it with yourself. In the case of a third party, sharing is allowed as long as that someone else also has an Apple ID.

More About Sharing Apple Notes

The statement made above doesn’t mean that you can’t share your notes with non-Apple users…because you can. But you do so by using the Share icon. Then you can email or text anyone the note…just be forewarned however, that the note they receive will end up being displayed in a font much larger than that of the actual note (see the 2 screenshots below.)

This seems to be a longstanding but REALLY ANNOYING Apple Glitch!

But you can’t share them the note in the manner that I’m describing here…the one which allows you to create a note link. Because this method is a way that brings them right within the actual note itself. By doing that you are enabling them with the ability to edit the note’s content too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Apple calls this method of sharing ‘Collaboration

Here’s a link I created to this note (my post began it’s life as an Apple Note) using this method. I don’t believe that this link will work for just anyone because it’s not a public link. I’m just displaying it as an example of what a note link looks like.

In fact, that’s one significant difference between Evernote and Apple Notes.*

In Evernote you can share your notes and even entire Notebooks publicly or privately. But in the case of Apple Notes, a private link means that you can share the note with someone else only if they too have an Apple ID and a device with the Notes App installed. That’s required in order for them to view the note via Apple’s ‘Collaboration’ utility.

Quick Overview of Note Organization in Apple Notes

Any avid note taker knows that:

The Key Requirement for Any Good Note System is..

           it’s ability to organize notes easily and meaningfully…so that finding information is both simple and quick.

Creating a Notebook Scheme for Organization in Apple Notes

When you’ve written several notes on the same subject the sheer volume of those notes tends to build up overtime making it a good idea to organize all those notes into one unique subject folder. By doing that it renders finding all the information on that specific subject much easier in the future.

There’s one important thing to keep in mind however. When you create new notes on the same subject, you’ll need to remember to add them to the correct folder. If you’re like me, and take thousands of notes, it’s really easy to forget this little step, especially if notes are taken on the fly a lot.

One simple method I came up with to address this that’s easy to adhere to even on the fly is to assign and use specific icons (aka Emojis) and place one right before a note’s Heading or Title as you begin the new note. By doing this, not only are you taking advantage of the ios emoji keyboard, (which frankly I love but have no use for otherwise,)  you’re also creating quite a few extra advantages for yourself that I’ll get into a little later.

Apple’s emoji keyboard includes a ‘Most Recently UsedSection which makes remembering the exact icons you’ve assigned to each notebook topic much easier when you 1st begin using this system.

Principles Behind Creating a Notebook Subject Hierarchy Based Upon Icons (Emojis)

When picking out the specific emojis to use for each subject, I find that following a couple of different principles really helps me in the long run:

1. Use Emojis that pictorially relate somehow to the subject matter of that Notebook

2. Use Emojis that are large and distinctive, therefore easier for you to readily notice and grasp the meaning of quickly.

3. If you’re at all ADHD like me you’ll want to differentiate emoji’s by color too so that there’s a clear, well defined color pattern in addition to the emoji itself that provides a visual cue for you.

4. If, in addition to being ADHD, you’re also visually challenged like I am…you might discover that sometimes one emoji doesn’t make quite enough of the visual impact that you need. Usually in instances like those, I’ve found that placing 2 together, side by side solves that problem.

Here’s a view of my Notebook Structure on the new 10.5″ iPad Pro

My Notebook hierarchy

One More Tip

You might think that employing my system would be a lot of work but trust me when I tell you it isn’t or it doesn’t have to be.

The way I began was by just using one single emoji…the one you see most often above…the half yellow/half green arrow, for any notebook of note that had to decide with my WordPress websites. Very slowly overtime, the system just grew from that one simple tweak. Now I rely heavily upon it, and it’s saved me on more than one occasion when important notes, I knew I’d written, simply where nowhere to be found! Which leads quite readily  into  what I believe are the 2 best aspects of my system.

2 Great Aspects of My Visual System

One really great aspect of my visual method for tagging notes is that I can quickly and easily file notes into their correct subject Notebook after-the-fact, just by looking for the emoji or  icon identifiers.

A second  big advantage is that the use of emojis can  off in time really help me find a note that may not have been filed correctly or filed at all.

Using Note Collaboration as an Organizational Device for Yourself

My Simple Hack Let’s You Use the Builtin Power of Apple’s New Collaboration Feature to Help Yourself Instead of Collaborating Per Se…As an Additional Tool for Finding Important Notes Readily

If you’re worried about the important contents of a note being lost to you there are really 2 simple things I employ to defend against this. The first I’m writing about in more detail in a separate post because, while the concept is simple, the steps to using it aren’t necessarily…but they can be when you fully understand the ins and outs of the concept. I’m referring to creating an exact duplicate of the note to file in different locations, But that technique is really only useful for a note with static content. Because duplicate notes won’t be updated if or when you add new information to the original note.

That’s why this 2nd tool, creating a note link is so useful. The link takes you to the original note. If the original note has been updated…that’s what you’ll see too. Case in point and the only reason I happened to mention the first alternative above, is because sometimes I’ll employ both methods together.

How I Use Both Methods Together & How Much Better Both Are When Used in This Manner

What I sometimes do for really important information that I don’t want to lose track of, is I’ll create one or two duplicate notes, and then, at the top of each of those, I’ll add a note link which leads back to the original note. I take this extra precaution so that I can see the most current information contained within that note.

Before You Can Create Note Links You must Have Updated Your Notes When ios 9 Came Out

The easiest way for you to determine whether or not you took this step back when ios 9 came out is just trying  to follow my steps below. If they don’t make sense then you need to still do that. (Another way to tell is if you’re using Title and Headline sized fonts within Apple notes…you needed to upgrade in order to use those.)

You can find out how to upgrade now by visiting Apple’s support here. If you’re worried that it’s going to be complicated or take a long time to do so…don’t be.  From what I recall it’s simply a matter of checking off ‘yes’  somewhere. The hard part, which is finding where and how to do it, I’ve already done for you with the link above.

Steps for Creating a Note Link

Just follow my step by step visual guide below:

IMG_0444IMG_0443IMG_0441IMG_0440IMG_0453IMG_0442

Learn More About Apple’s Shared Note’s Features

Apple continually updates their support pages to include their most recent information because they are constantly fixing and tweaking performance of ios and OS X as well as adding minor enhancements to their stock apps that interface with their operating systems. Therefore, what you see one day at their site may be totally different a month later. That’s why it’s never a bad idea to visit Apple’s support pages  first when you’re  trying to figure out how to do something.

Here’s a Link to All of Apple’s Current Information About Sharing Notes.

If you’d like to know more about the differences between Apple Notes and Evernote, you can read my article on that here:

*Evernote or Apple Notes…Which is Best?

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3 Years of Visit Statistics | All Posts & Pages on vsatips | July 4, 2017

WordPress.com Doesn't Allow the Use of Google Analytics for Basic Users

But what WordPress.com does provide is quite a lot of stats that give us insight into how our blogs and websites are doing. I've been using WordPress for 3 years now, primarily with a free account although I have acquired the domain for my site too. I've been afraid to switch everything to it fearing that I'll mess it all up.

The reason why is precisely because of what I discovered the other day quite by accident.

I Discovered a New View That I'd Never Seen Before

It Displays Statistics for All My Posts & Pages

The Screenshot below shows virtually everything I've written in the 3 years since I began vsatips

Statistics for every post & page I've ever written on vsatips.com

Click here to view this in full screen mode.

I Knew I'd Written A Lot But This View Really Reinforced That

What's even cooler than seeing everything I've ever written in the past 3 years in one nice screenshot, is seeing how well each of them performed in meeting the needs of my audience.

Using this data will be really valuable for me in deciding what I should and shouldn't write about going forward. It will also help me recognize areas in which my writing needs to improve. I can already see how some of my headlines and titles could have been improved upon. So I can use this as a working document for tweaking and improving my website.

Why I Fear Making the Switch to My Own Domain

Seeing all my content quite literally in black and white also helps me to understand my my fear of switching to my own domain. If I goof it up, I could  potentially  goof up three years worth of work! But, it also gives me a roadmap of sorts for that same scenario too.

How Did I Find This View | Is it New?

I wish I could remember exactly how I arrived here…but I don't think it's new…or at least brand new that is. I think I found it somewhere near the top line that's displayed on the left-hand side menu for WordPress.com stats. I know I'll figure it out soon enough and then will come here and add that information here too. But, I needed to get this screenshot published for another reason too. The image file size is too large to include it as one of many illustrations on another post I'm currently working on. I'm finally writing my long promised sequel to 'How to Use Different Colored Fonts and Sizes in Evernote on Mobile Devices.' That first article, one of the most read posts on my blog, has been rendered obsolete with the introduction of Evernote 8 for ios. I'd promised readers for a long time I'd update my guide for using different colors and sizes of fonts for ios and I finally did today. You can find the updated post here.

In that article I discuss the original post and include an abbreviated view of the screenshot above rather than excluding the image entirely because the file size and resolution of it was so large that I knew my Evernote post would take a really long time to load the webpage if I didn't. But I wanted the full screenshot to be available too so  I decided to publish it as a ' standalone ' post  that I could link to from the other one instead.

So, I need to go finish writing the Evernote guide now. But before I do there's one more thing I should mention. The screenshot above isn't exactly the view I found on my stats pages. Rather that one was very long and unwieldy so I took screenshots from of it and I pasted them together using Pixelmator for iPad(which is one of my 2 most used 'graphics design apps for ios!)

Pixelmator for iPad

 Analyzing  the  Numbers

Having been a statistics major in my MBA Program I recognize that there's a wealth of undiscovered knowledge buried within the data contained in this single image. While I was very sad that WordPress.com didn't publish their very cool 'Year in Review' for 2016…finding this stats page sort of makes up for it.

:-)

Comparing Weebly Stats to WordPress.com

I'd be really interested to know if anyone who reads my post has experience with their own blogs or websites at Weebly. And it yes, how well their blog posts perform according to Weebly's bulletin user stats. Someday soon I'd really like to compare Weebly's 'free' statistics for their users to the same thing I'm  displaying here from WordPress.coms.

The reason is because my 91 year old Dad has his blog on Weebly, (he was my inspiration,) and we occasionally discuss how our blogs are performing in the visitors' and views' realms. I'm sure 100% sure that my Dad is reporting the correct stats to me. If he is then a comparison betweeen the 2 would be more than warranted, because he relates some crazy large numbers to me sometimes…and I'd like to figure out if he's really seeing that many visitors or is there's something else going on that I don't know about. If/when I do that I may add it here rather than write a whole new post. Don't you think it would fit in nicely here? Let me know if you have any strong opinions on the subject below in my comments section, and thanks for reading and letting me be completely self indulgent for one post!

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How to Change Font Colors & Sizes in Evernote 8 | for ios

Evernote 8 Announcement on Evernote’s Blog

Introduction

Recently I accidentally landed upon a view of my blogs stats that I’d never seen before. It showed me every single post or page I’d ever written alongside a statistic for each showing how many times each article had been visited. There were 2 things I was a little shocked by.


My first ‘shock’ reaction was really to the full screen version of the above screenshot. While you can’t really see this in the screenshot above, I’ve written a lot of articles in the span of three years. More if you combine those at my sister website vsatrends. Even though I pretty much work at this 24/7…it surprised me to see the results of  my labors all so nicely contained in one clean screenshot. If you want to you can read more about my discovery and see the whole, full resolution screenshot, which basically shows all the content I’ve written for my entire vsatips website in 3 years time.

The reason I had to publish the full image as a separate post is because the density of the page along with using an image resolution that keeps the text readable makes the file size of it too high to include here. Because it would adversely impact page loading times and people would get bored and wouldn’t ever get to read my article.


My second reaction and the thing that I was really blown away by was how many times my post ‘How to use Different Colored Fonts and Sizes in Mobile Versions of Evernote’ has been viewed…over 8000 times by now!  (At the time I took this screenshot it was 7800+ but I just checked it again.)

Why does that number surprise me?

When I first wrote this I was so certain that it was something a lot of people would want to know about. But after I published it, it remained decidedly ‘unpopular’ for a very long time. I did vaguely notice that somewhere along the line this began to change…but I really had no idea just how significant the change really was.

Of course, if you did visit the full-page listing you probably will note that even 8000 views aren’t very many when compared to my most popular post of all time…which is all about finding out who follows your YouTube Channel. That one has over 20,000 views…and gains 50-100 new ones per day lately.

Unfortunately, my Evernote statistic didn’t just shock me…it made me feel terribly guilty too.

If you’re wondering why it’s because you may notice at the top of that post, written in big Evernote green letters I’d added these headlines:

There’s Super Exciting Big News to

Report from Evernote!

On January 26th, Evernote released a brand new ios app…the app has been completely redesigned!

You Can Now Change the Color & Size of Fonts

from Right Within Evernote’s ios App!!!

The facts that Evernote 8 came out at the end of January and  that it simplifies the process of using various sized fonts as well as colors a lot, combined with my promise to my readers to help instruct them on how to use these new features…and that it’s now July…explains my guilty conscience (I hope.)  So please accept my humble apologies and read on to learn how to use these new features.

How Evernote 8’s Brand New Beautiful Redesign for ios Evolved

When my day began on January 26, 2017, the day that Evernote’s historic new update was released I found myself at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN undergoing my first Executive Physical (which was ironically another post I’d promised to some of the loyal followers of my sister website vsatrends.) While I  haven’t yet finished the Executive Physical post,here’s a link to a story my 91-year-old Dad wrote about my childhood experience at Mayo’s when I almost died and they saved my life…which  I republished  from his blog. Consequently my visit to Mayo’s this time meant that it took a few days before I’d even realized that the new Evernote 8 had finally been released.

Prior to Evernote 8’s release it was very difficult to vary font colors and sizes without resorting to some convoluted methods. I came up with the approach I offered in that first post on my own because I need that kind of variation for my own notes. Possibly because I’m severely ADHD and mildly OCD, and using colors and sizes helps me to quickly absorb a notes’ contents and find any information I’m looking for readily.

I’m a beta tester for the ios platform of Evernote and I had been using the new Evernote 8 in several different iterations for about 3 months prior to the huge release January 26th. Beta testing for the ios platform at Evernote is serious business. We were sworn to secrecy before we were even allowed to participate in the program. Unlike any other update I’d worked on prior to that, with this update we were continually reminded of our obligation to maintain secrecy…so we all knew that this update was a very big deal!

The Evernote Beta Version icon has a 'B' on it.

The Evernote Beta Version icon has a ‘B’ on it.

In fact, the day that all of the beta testers received their very first version of it was a pretty historic day too. Never before had I seen such an outpouring of emotions, comments and camaraderie within the beta tester ranks. Everyone was jovial and excited and we all wrote glowing reports while ignoring any odd or problematic behavior temporarily. I think that maybe this uniquely positive experience was due to 2 main factors. For a long time many beta testers had grown frustrated over encountering the same kinds of problems over and over again, which required us to spend significant amounts of time documenting them, but then never seeing great improvements resulting from our efforts. 2nd, I think that as a group,

Evernote’s ios beta testers offered a ton of unique insights into addressing some of the problems. In many ways Evernote 8 felt to all of us like our work was recognized and rewarded. We all, I think, shared a little pride of ownership in what we now knew was the reason some of our problems had never been adequately addressed.

It was a happy time for anyone affiliated with Evernote I think. But from a beta testing standpoint our work was just beginning. We all worked hard to contribute in meaningful ways to 8’s development so when it was finally released I know I was happy to not think about it and write about it for a while…but to just enjoy using it instead,

Introducing Evernote 8’s New Font Formatting Features

We did enjoy it too…because Evernote 8 is the best thing that’s ever happened to a Evernote since the vast majority of users have been using it.

The new features Evernote added in Evernote 8 for ios include the ability to use three different font sizes and 12 new colors in addition to the old standard black. Below is the new formatting screen which show those new sizes and colors.The way Evernote decided to include these new features is by adding some new screen views that replace the onscreen keyboard…2 in total including:

  • One view provides tools for creating ordered and unordered lists, checkboxes, indenting and indenting and their 3 paragraph formatting alternatives of left, center and right orientation.

  • One view which provides the 12 color, 3 font sizes, a highlighting tool and bold, underlined and strike through text. The strike-through text, while not something I use often, is a relatively unique tool that comes in extremely handy in certain situations.

How to Use the Font Colors and Sizes

The best way I’ve found to change font size or colors is to first enter the text that you want to format, and then select and format it.

As an example, I’ll demonstrate how to do this for the title of this section above.

  • First select the text you want to format

  • Next, keeping your selection active, tap on the Capitol A with threes small line next to it to open the colors and size view…see the screenshot above.
Evernote 8's New font forrmattijg view.

Evernote 8’s New font formatting view.

  • Now just tap on the color and size you’d like to use. On most of my iPads I need to tap my selection more than once in order for it to ‘take.’ You can tell it’s ‘taken’ because your selection will be highlighted like those below.
  • Last just tap on the ABC icon to close formatting view and return to the keyboard and typing.


Below is a screenshot of what my new formatting looks like:

See how simple it is?

Another way you can alter the colors and sizes is by first selecting your desired alternatives first and then just begin typing. In this example I selected the largest sized font in Evernote’s classic green color, and I added bold to the mix too.

There are a few changes that you can make to a font’s appearance without ever opening the new formatting views. These are exactly the same as it’s always been in earlier versions of Evernote.

Traditionally in both Evernote and most other ios apps you’ve always been able to:

  • bold / unbold
  • use standard or italic letters
  • apply underlines to selected text

In all cases you can just select the text you want to change and use either the built-in ios method to change styles or use the shortcut that Evernote provides in the upper right-hand corner of the onscreen keyboard. Refer to the screenshot below.

All My Guides to Using Different Sizes and Colors for Fonts in Mobile Evernote

Here’s a list to the 4 guides I’ve written to using different colored fonts, different sizes fonts, different fonts, and different colored highlights for my 2 favorite notes apps…Evernote and Apple Notes. They are listed from most current to oldest.

How to Change Font Colors and Sizes in Evernote 8 for ios

How to Use Different Colored Fonts and Sizes in Apple Notes for ios

How to Change Fonts, Fonts Colors and Sizes in Evernote Apps on Mobile Devices

How to Use Different Colored Highlights in Mobile Evernote

Conclusion and Additional Resources

Many top tech publications wrote glowing articles about Evernote’s newly released update. One of my favorites was written by Wired Magazine. It’s made clear by reading some of these that it’s not just the beta testers who fell in love with the new Evernote.


Here’s a link to the Wired Magazine’s Jan. 17, 2017  article pictured above.

AppleInsider wrote a great overview of Evernote 8.

Macworld’s article ‘Evernote Overhauls it’s ios app with a Focus on Speed and Simplicity.’

Dotto Tech, a popular screencaster made this awesome video overview of Evernote 8

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Posted in Evernote, Evernote Hacks, Evernote's versatility, Tech Tips | Tagged , , , , , ,