Semi-Online and Forging a New Routine

The last three months has seen my entire life change. Sadly, Dad passed away at the end of June from lung cancer. Those last few weeks were horrible, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget certain details from that period. The pain. The confusion. The acceptance. The moment I realised he was gone.

Then the changes started. Moving house. Transferring location at work. Forging new routines. Learning to cope with Mum’s condition and the constant questions. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, at times I found myself sitting staring at the floor consumed with thoughts that scared me. But, like all bad situations, there were teething problems but it is settling down now.

My only constant during this time is that I have found time to read. I finished “The Lavender Keeper” by Fiona McIntosh, which was a brilliant book set in WWII. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I also finished “Wanted” (A Leopold Blake Thriller) by Nick Stephenson, which reminded me of The Da Vinci Code without the history lessons (and believe me when I say that’s a compliment). Currently, I’m reading “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. Many people that I trust recommended this book to me. At first, I found the backstory annoying, even though it is a large part of the plot, however, the storyline is quite twisted and I’m so engrossed in it now that I find it hard to stay away from. I look forward to seeing the movie when I’ve completed the book.

Anyway, I set up my laptop yesterday and here I am … checking on things, writing updates, sifting through emails, catching up with news.

I don’t think I’ll have the same internet experience anymore, not like I used to. I just don’t have the time. But I will write updates when I can. And I will attempt to start writing book reviews once more, but no promises.

And, no, I haven’t written during this time, but I have found myself thinking about my works-in-progess. If time permits, I think I’ll try to dedicate that time to finishing those works-in-progress rather than spending time on other activities.

Domain Transferred

Earlier in the year I experienced ongoing problems with bandwidth being used by Google bots–every few days. As a result, the website was constantly offline. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was annoying. Why pay for a website that isn’t even available to readers?

When my hosting came up for renewal, at the end of November, I decided that I really needed a host that provided unlimited bandwidth so that the problem would be eliminated. I initiated the transfer. It took ten days to complete.

Yesterday, I attempted to import my data to the new site and ran into problems. The older data would not import without crashing the website. After much messing around, I allowed the website to remain down and went to the dashboard (thank heavens I still had access to it) and exported the posts and pages only, including any attachments (such as images). Then I deleted everything and started again–a clean install of WordPress and all the plugins. The posts and pages where then imported, and I was pleased to see that the website didn’t crash. However, there are some minor issues. Again, nothing that is considered the end of the world. Some images didn’t come through and I’ve updated the links to fix this problem on the important pages. Nothing in the Preloved Books section came across, so that has to be totally redone. And things like categories have lost their hierarchy, but that is easily fixed. It’s just a matter of making the time to fix these small issues.

Overall, I didn’t lose anything important so I am happy.

Review: WooThemes Extension & Support

Recently, I was looking for ways to sell books and ebooks on a website. When looking at ways to set this up I discovered a WordPress plugin called Woocommerce and decided to install it. However, whilst the plugin is free, it didn’t allow for purchases by weight. So, I went to WooThemes (the developer of Woocommerce) to see if they had anything to solve the problem and found an extension (Australia Post Shipping Method) which, when installed, uses Australia Post API to fetch up-to-date shipping prices. The extension was not free. It cost me $49.00, which I was happy to pay.

But…

It didn’t work!

It would fetch the correct prices if the order contained one paperback book, but would not adjust the shipping fee if multiple of the same book were purchased – 2 books or 200 books; the shipping fee remained the same as it would have been for one book. Also, if a paperback and an ebook were added to the cart, then an error message would be returned instead of a shipping fee for the paperback book.

Naturally, this was not correct. I returned to WooThemes and submitted a support ticket. I’m not a demanding person and I know these things take time, so I was prepared to wait for the help I needed. Besides, there was no urgency.

A week later I received an email confirming that there seemed to be a problem and the issue would be forwarded to one of their developers to have a look at. Two days later another email turned up saying it would be checked to determine if a fix was needed. I continued to wait patiently.

Another week passed and I returned to WooThemes as I hadn’t heard anything and was getting a bit concerned. When I logged into the account and checked on the progress of the support ticket, I discovered it had been closed, but I hadn’t actually received any help.

My patience ran out at this stage. No help had been offered. The extension doesn’t work. It is useless to me. I have paid for the extension and expect more from them than that.

I sent another email. This time I was more demanding. This time I said that if I wasn’t going to receive the help I required to get the extension working properly then I wanted a refund. No response has come back to me in over 8 days. They were happy to take my money, but not so happy to help me get the thing working. I am not happy with their extension or their support.

I do not recommend anyone purchase anything from WooThemes. It doesn’t ‘just work’. And the support is non-existent.

I have since found a free plugin called AWD Weight/Country Shipping, which is simple to use and works like a charm. I wish I’d found it BEFORE throwing $49.00 down the toilet.

Edited on 1 November 2012: Just wanted to say that I didn’t actually ask for a refund, I requested a credit towards another extension called Table Rate Shipping, which reportedly worked out the shipping fee using the total weight in the cart at the time. I have no idea if this extension would have worked or not, but the extension costs $99.00. As I was willing to fork out another $50 it shows I was serious and sincere, in my opinion. However, still no reply and at this stage I wouldn’t spend another cent with them because I simply don’t trust them now.

Edited again on 15 November 2012: Still no reply. I guess that tell me everything we all need to know. Support doesn’t exist over at WooThemes, so be wary of purchasing anything.

Edited on 15 December 2012: Never heard back from them.

Website Problems

In April this year, the website experienced a sudden jump in bandwidth usage. It went from the normal 2gb per month to over 5gb in a couple of hours, which caused the site to go offline. My host gave me some extra bandwidth and two days later I was offline again.

Upon the end of the month, in May, my website came back online. However, ten days later 7gb had been used and I was shoved offline yet again. My host gave me another gigabyte and before the end of the day I was offline until a few days ago.

I don’t expect to be online for long!

My investigations have shown that Googlebot is the culprit. These necessary evils have been coming to my site and, after 100,000 hits in a matter of hours, causing my website to go offline. It really is frustrating.

Research have instructed me to do multiple things to fix the problem, but nothing (yet) has worked. My resolve to fight is waning and now my thoughts are turning to moving my domain to a host that gives me unlimited bandwidth, because that will definitely solve the problem once and for all.

Yes, the host I’m with has such a plan, but it’s expensive. I can move elsewhere and get six years of unlimited bandwidth for the price of one with them. My gut is telling me to start packing!

With six months already paid for, I will wait and see what happens this month. If I do go offline, and I’m 99% sure I will, then I will start the moving process. Because, in all honesty, what’s the point of having a website if it’s not accessible to anyone, including me?

Dusting the Shelves, Sweeping the Floor

Hello! My name is Karen Lee Field and I live here. Not that you’d know it. The place is smothered with dust. I should have covered everything with white sheets before I wandered off. Hmm, why do they use white sheets? Seems a bit silly to me.

Anyway…

I’ve been extremely busy over the last few months. Hope has been my top priority. The book will be launched this coming weekend, 7 – 9 October 2011, at Facebook. Feel free to join us. There will be ebook giveaways and one paperback to be won by guests.

Now that the bulk of the Hope project has been finalised I’ll be able to go back to doing other things…like reading, writing and my studies. Oh, and writing posts for this website.

Now, where did I put that broom…?

WordPress for iOS

Due to the injury I mentioned in my previous post, I’m trying to stay away from my laptop for a few days.

No, I haven’t caved already, I’ve been using my iPod Touch. I rarely use it for anything other than reading ebooks. However, today I’ve discovered it’s a great way of posting status updates to Twitter, checking out what’s happening on Facebook, and writing posts for this blog using my new discovery from WordPress — the WordPress for iOS app.

I can write posts and check comments on any of my WordPress blogs, hosted or self-hosted.

This post is being writing through the app. And I’m writing it with one finger and left-handed! This is quite something for someone who is right-handed and when that someone is a touch typist. It took longer than usual, but it wasn’t too bad.

I probably won’t use this app often but it is handy and is a sign of how we can adapt and how technology adapts.

Best Australian Blogs 2011

With nine years of blogging under my belt I thought it was only fitting that I nominate my blog for the “Words” category of the competition. Not only do I use words to construct posts, but a majority of my posts are to do with “words” as in the written word, the craft of writing.

Over the years, many people have visited the site. Some only read my words and left, many wrote encouraging comments and returned several times before disappearing, others became friends. As a blogger I went through many cycles. There were times when I really needed to know people were reading my posts, but as time went on I wrote the posts simply because I wanted to, for my own satisfaction. The blog became my diary and, as a result, a place to document my journey as a writer.

Now, I continue to learn and share…all the while hoping I’m helping other people at the same time. And, when the voting lines open for the People’s Choice Award on Monday 18 April 2011, I hope you will consider taking a moment to vote for my blog (or should I say My Diary). Of course, I will put up a reminder closer to the date. 😀

100 Stories for Queensland

Over recent weeks, Queensland in Australia has been tortured by freak storms and heavy flooding. The destruction is reported to be affecting three quarters of the state. At present, there are 16 confirmed deaths, but this figure is expected to rise. Some towns have been devastated beyond recognition. Thousands of homes have suffered damage from total or partial emersion in the tidal waters and consequent mud, many will have to be knocked down and rebuilt. Over a million lives have been affected by the floods, not only due to flooding, but also due to the loss of power, no public transport, being cut off from the outside world due to major roads being under water, contaminated water, lack of goods (such as food) and many other things we generally take for granted.

100 Stories for Queensland is an anthology, written by writers from around the world who have donated stories to help raise money for the affected people in Queensland. The two people behind this venture are Jodi Cleghorn and Trevor Belshaw, however, from what I’ve heard, many talented people have stepped up and offered their services in getting the anthology off the ground as soon as possible.

A call has been put out for flash fiction, from 500 to 1,000 words in length. All proceeds will be donated to the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal.

I decided that I would write a story for submission late on Friday night when an idea suddenly popped into my head. I completed the story on the same night and put it aside for a bit over 24 hours. Today, I spent a couple of hours going over the story several times, tweaking, improving, adjusting, and now I think it’s ready for submission. I will leave it for a couple of hours, at which time I’ll read it again to be sure it’s as good as I can get it, and then I’ll submit.

Whether or not my story is accepted is not the point here. The point is I heard a call and answered. I want to help. I hope you’ll want to help too.

If you are on Facebook and want to follow the progress of this charity event, go to 100 Stories for Queensland’s Facebook Page.