Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Aug 22

3 Ways You’re Doing the ALS #icebucketchallenge Wrong

Donate to the ALS Association!

If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve seen plenty of people getting splashed with ice water over the last few weeks. Celebrities, friends and family and people you’ve never heard of make the list. Often it’s funny. Sometimes it’s creative. It’s always supposed to raise awareness and money for the ALS Association, which helps provide services and research for ALS, a disease that I’ll talk more about later.

You may even have participated in many of these videos, but from completely missing the point to forgetting key points, not all the challengers are following the guidelines or even being helpful. I’m not just talking about teens who do it for fun, either. The glaring omission of “ALS” in a number of video is terrible.  Don’t make these same mistakes.

1. You don’t say “ALS”

“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis” is a mouthful. ALS will do in most situation’s. It might clear up confusion to call it Lou Gehrig’s disease. Humans, after all, do like to associate things with people. I’ll admit that even hearing that name didn’t provide me with any more answers, and judging from the comments on YouTube videos, I’m not alone.

I may be slightly more alone because I actually Googled ALS. The results of my search were revealing, particularly that Stephen Hawking is often labeled as one of the people with this condition. Hawking’s condition is a specific form of ALS.

This disease attacks the body, essentially causing victims to become prisoners in their own body because they are no longer able to control their body as is breaks down. Hand shaking/spasms are an early symptom.

Hawking also stands out as a perfect example because he has survived so long with the disease — over 50 years. Most people can count on no more than a few years after diagnosis, which is pretty scary. Most die from respiratory failure.

But perhaps the reason most people with ALS don’t stand out is that their numbers are small: around 30,000 in the United States. Smaller than my hometown. That’s why it’s great to get people talking.

2. You don’t link to the ALS Association or anyplace where you can donate.

You’re trying to raise money or awareness, so why aren’t you sending people to ALSA.org? This website originated the ice bucket challenge, and you can donate through a variety of methods here.

Again, most of the people who I saw kvetching about videos were obviously too lazy to search themselves. Add a link in your video description. Annotate your video obnoxiously. If it helps one more person click or donate, isn’t it worth the effort?

There have been a few more sites listed in videos. For example, your state may have a local chapter. ALS TDI is a company focused on cures through medication if you prefer your money to go to a cure than to go to “overhead.” When it comes to overhead, though, much of that is by providing help and services to ALS patients and their families.

3. You don’t donate.

The challenge isn’t about getting out of paying money by doing it. The challenge is actually that you only donate $10 while anyone who doesn’t accept donates $100. Many people have done both and more, which is great. Whether you dunk in 24 hours or not, donating is the right thing to do!

Donations have already topped $41 million, which is leaps and bounds greater than the same period for last year. Like I mentioned, some money goes to research. Other money goes for care and services. It all goes to a worthy cause.

Also? If filming this video is the only good deed you do this year because you think it’s enough? It’s not.

Bonus: You film in portrait.

Come on, guys. Video is intended to be filmed in landscape mode, so turn that phone!

Donate to the ALS Association.

Check out the ALS ice bucket challenge on:

One of the most-viewed videos that has helped raise awareness is below. It may very well make you cry.


Aug 09

Little Victories

Today was a day full of things that made me laugh, smile and sing. And, perhaps more importantly, it was a day when I was able to look back and see those things, to recognize and appreciate and be happy.

I will breathe deeply and happily as I go to sleep tonight. And while that won’t be for a little bit despite being 4 in the morning, that’s okay!

A very nice cashier at CVS commented on how pretty I looked/nicely I was dressed. I stocked up on all the delicious food, replaced my shorted-out headphones and scored some neat-looking nail polish.

A quick trip to the mall filled my belly and my bag with free VS panties.

Several hours of Cards Against Humanity and laughter later, I felt less alone, more connected and lighter-hearted than I have in days. Weeks. A month?

I signed on to facebook to see Reviews by Cole had finally hit 4800. Then enjoyed a delicious dinner, perhaps a bit too late. Oops!

I finally am making some money on Izea.

And have you checked out my Sverve score?!

I made plans to see Guardians of the Galaxy again! Because it is awesome!

I feel more clear about the things I need to do for me, but now I am sure that these are things I can do. What’s more, I’ve realized that I do have more goals than I realize and more time in which to complete them.

I’ve turned helpless frustration and anger into a plan on which I can act. I’ve let go of anger and replaced it with love.

I will now enjoy some Parks and Recreation while playing on my phone.

Score!


Jul 30

Avoid Making Enemies with Email Etiquette

I’ve had a particularly trying day when it comes to email exchanges. People have sent too many emails and too few emails, and it’s taken over a week for something that could be done with a few clicks of the mouse to even get started. There’s no reason for this. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that someone who is doing these things is unprofessional, and this hurts your brand.

Email is just another form of customer service in 2014, and if you don’t treat it right, consumers will pay attention. When those consumers are also a blogger like me, we write posts like this telling you how to write emails without coming off as a douche or a moron.

NEVER ADD PEOPLE TO YOUR LIST WITHOUT THEIR EXPRESS PERMISSION.

You do not have the right to add me to any newsletter list just because I fill out a contact for or enter a giveaway. No fine print makes this even legal. It’s annoying when companies do it and even worse when it comes from other bloggers who should know better because they’ve been on a the receiving end. Just no no no.

Use BCC.

BCC, or blind carbon copy, sends emails to multiple recipients without showing their email addresses to everyone else on the list. It’s rude and unsafe to release another person’s email address.  Even if you trust everyone on your list, anyone whose email address you have trusts you to keep that contact information safe. Fortunately, using BCC enables you to do this without having to individually email every person.

Check your email before you send it.

Make sure you have added all attachments (Thunderbird will ask you if you meant to add attachments. Fix typos. If you intended to copy and paste content, add a link or  format the text in a specific way, do it. This helps you avoid the next.

Email Etiquette

Email Etiquette

Don’t send two emails in a row.

If you don’t take the time to proofread/give your email the once over, you’re going to have to send a correction. This gets confusing and causes clutter. However, it’s not the only reason someone might use to send an email twice.

  • If I haven’t replied to your email in a few hours and it’s not an emergency.
  • If you sent me some sort of press release or invitation to a program and you received no reply.
  • If I’ve told you I have to do X and will get back to you.

The one thing these events all have in common? It’s not okay to send another email just because I didn’t reply unless your previous email specifically stated you required a reply within a certain period. I am either working on what I need to reply or have deleted your email because it’s spammy. In many cases, I reply at night because I am usually awake during third shift hours. Sending a second email will not make this happen any faster and may land you on a reported spam list.

Send as few emails as possible.

Few things are as obnoxious as an email exchange that takes hours, days or even weeks longer than it should because you fail to understand the concept that you can send messages with more than one sentence or thought. Simply being thoughtful will enable you to anticipate questions I might have or information I will need. I don’t expect you to be a mind-reader, but one thing that I frequently run into is that email exchanges take more time (and patience!) than they should because you fail to ask the right questions.

I use email to organize giveaways and reviews more than I use it for any other reason. In fact, I never use it for personal reasons anymore. So my exchanges typically go like this:

  • I send a pitch (or receive one).
  • Company agrees (or I agree).
  • I specify products I’d like to try and send my address.

As a reviewer, the next email I want is a notification of shipping or tracking number. That’s it.

If I am hosting a giveaway, I will send emails verifying the prize, number of winners, shipping restrictions and any entries the company would like. After I receive these replies, there’s no need to reply until I send you a link to the giveaway and the winner’s information.

There are certain points during the review process where there will be a lull. If you understand the process, you won’t need to email me at these times. If you do, you obviously haven’t asked the right questions from the start.

This leads me to my next point.

Know when to end the communication.

It’s like when someone says “Good night” on the phone and the other person says “Good night,” and it keeps going back and forth and neither of you want to keep up the conversation but you feel pressured to do so.

So what would you add to this list?


Jun 03

60+ Keyboard Shortcuts All Bloggers Need to Know

 

keyboard shortcuts for bloggers

I’m pretty proficient at using keyboard shortcuts. In fact, if programs and browsers would let me, I probably wouldn’t even need a mouse or trackpad. Of course, this shaves of a large amount of time from surfing the Internet, but it also makes blogging so much easier. Here are over 60 keyboard shortcuts that will make you a more efficient blogger.

Copy and Paste

As a blogger, I do a ton of copying and pasting – into my blog posts, into word documents, into Facebook group and email among other locations. I save so much time by relying on my keyboard rather than my mouse. Here’s how.

  • Copy selected text/data – Ctrl+C
  • Copy all text/data in an area or on a page – Ctrl+A
  • Undo – Ctrl+Z
  • Paste – Ctrl+V
  • Paste without formatting – Ctrl+Shift+V

Text Editing

These are Windows shortcuts that will work in WordPress, Google Drive and word processing programs. I do not know that they work with Blogger, but I imagine they do.

  • Make selected text bold — Ctrl+B
  • Make selected text italic – Ctrl+I
  • Make selected text underlined – Ctrl+U
  • Use heading 1 – Ctrl+1
  • Use heading 2 – Ctrl+2
  • Use heading 3 – Ctrl+3

WordPress Shortcuts

I keep forgetting about these keyboard shortcuts even though the are amazing. These work in the visual editor.

  • Navigate through comments – j (next) and k (previous).
  • Approve selected comment – a
  • Send comment to spam – s
  • Delete comment – d
  • Undo comment action – z
  • Reply to comment – r
  • Quick edit comment – q
  • Move to comment edit screen – e
  • Add blockquote — Ctrl+Q

Press “Shift” with any of these keys to perform the action on multiple comments.

If you’re using the HTML editor, shortcuts are a little different.

  • Bold — Alt+SHIFT+b
  • Italic — Alt+SHIFT+i
  • Blockquote — Alt+SHIFT+q
  • Strikethrough — Alt+SHIFT+d
  • Code —  Alt+SHIFT+c
  • Link — Alt+SHIFT+a
  • Unordered List (ul) —  Alt+SHIFT+u
  • Ordered List (ol) — Alt+SHIFT+o
  • Insert date/time — Alt+SHIFT+s
  • Insert IMG URL —  ALT-SHIFT-m
  • Line Break —  SHIFT+Enter
  • List Item (li) — Alt+SHIFT+l
  • Add “Read More” — Alt+SHIFT+t
  • Publish  –  Alt+SHIFT+p

Modify the elements within your posts with these shortcuts:

  • Insert link on selected text – Ctrl+K
  • Add address to selected text – Ctrl+9
  • Increase width of editor in full-screen mode – Ctrl +
  • Decrease width in full-screen mode – Ctrl – (minus)
  • Reset editor in full-screen mode – Ctrl 0

Blogger Shortcuts

All the copy and paste and text edit keyboard shortcuts should work for Blogger. You can also easily add a blockquote in HTML edit mode by pressing Ctrl+l.

  • Save post – Ctrl+S
  • Publish post – Ctrl+P
  • Preview post – Ctrl+Shift+P
  • Add link – Ctrl+Shift+A

Browser Shortcuts

It doesn’t matter whether you use Chrome or Firefox – we all hope you’re just not using Internet Explorer! – there are shortcuts that will save you tons of time.

  • Open a new tab – Ctrl + T
  • Close a tab – Ctrl + W
  • Reopen last closed tab – Ctrl, Shift, T
  • Switch to tab on right – Ctrl + Tab or Ctrl Page Dn
  • Switch to tab on left – Ctrl + Page Up
  • Open a new window – Ctrl+N
  • Open a link in a new window – Click+Shift
  • Open link in new tab – Click+Ctrl
  • Go back in history – Backspace
  • Go forward in hiastory – Shift+Backspace
  • Search in address/search bar – Ctrl+E
  • Add bookmark – Ctrl+D
  • Bookmark all open tabs — Ctrl+Shift+D
  • Open page source code – Ctrl+U
  • Add .com to a domain name and go to that domain — Ctrl+Enter
  • Add .net to complete domain name and go to domain — Shift+Enter
  • Complete and go to .org domain — Ctrl+Shift+Enter

Facebook Shortcuts

Let’s face it, you probably spend a lot of time on Facebook if you’re a blogger. On a daily basis, I update my Facebook page and communicate in almost a dozen different groups. These shortcuts are a life-saver!

When browsing Facebook in Firefox, press Shift+Alt+ the corresponding number to move to these common pages. In Chrome for Windows, just press Alt+ the number. Ctrl+Opt+ the # in Mac will work in either browser.

  • 0 – Help
  • 1 – Home
  • 2 – Timeline
  • 3 – Friends
  • 4 – Inbox
  • 5 – Notifications
  • 6 – Settings
  • 7 – Activity Log
  • 8 – About
  • 9 – Terms
  • m – New Message

In your news feed, use the following shortcuts to perform common actions:

  • Post a new status – p
  • Like a post – l
  • Comment on a status – c
  • Share a post – s
  • Search using the search bar – /e
  • Open all shortcuts – ?

Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

Many bloggers rely on Gmail to check their email from their PC, tablet or phone. If I didn’t use Thunderbird, I would rely on Gmail to check my email via IMAP or POP3. Of course, all Android users have a Google account, so plenty of people rely on Gmail for personal reasons, too. These keyboard shortcuts will help you get around.

  • Send message from “Compose” screen – Ctrl+Enter
  • Change “From” in Compose screen – Ctrl+Shift+F
  • Expand or collapse a message – Enter
  • Move between messages in a thread – n (Next), p (previous)
  • Move through message list – Up and Down arrows, Enter to open

Google offers a bunch more Gmail shortcuts that are not turned on by default. Enable them by clicking the gear icon, choosing “Settings”and selecting “Keyboard shortcuts on.”

What are your favorite keyboard shortcuts? Should I add any to this list? Let me know in the comments!