Decluttering: Use It or Lose It

I used to have a rule: “If you haven’t used it in six months and don’t see yourself using it in the next six months, toss it.” Ouch. I’m not exactly on the short list of people likely to be featured on the TV show, “Hoarders.” But I’m clearly failing my inner Buddhist monk in his struggle to give up attachments. My inner Scarlet O’Hara is happy to think about that tomorrow…

Most of the house is quite clean and tidy, with small examples of a charming eccentricity that my kids will remember me for when I’m gone:

Neatness

Why is there a ghostly human head on the bookcase? No idea – maybe because it goes so well with the severed hands on the piano?

But then there are pockets of this – I’m not sure what’s going on with this space, or what post-modern, deconstructionist art movement may have inspired it – or better yet, be inspired by it:

Squirrel? Packrat? Hoarder in Training? Or was this house just not built with enough closet and attic space?

Squirrel? Packrat? Hoarder in Training? Or was this house just not built with enough closet and attic space?

Every year, I go through the blog (it’s a great way to avoid cleaning closets) and clear out the plug-ins that are just lying around, eating up the chips, and spilling beer on the floor. I usually discover just as many shiny new ones to play with, in the process, so it’s not like I’m spiffing up the blog and improving efficiency 104% or anything. I have several sitting there that I haven’t even tried, yet. Kind of like some of that yarn, in the picture…

Must-Have Plug-Ins

CommentLuv Premium & Anti-Backlinker: Not only do these take care of most of my anti-spam needs, they also offer nice rewards to real readers, bloggers, and commenters by allowing them to leave backlinks once they’ve proven they’re human and can be trusted.

Broken Link Checker: Unless you want to manually test all the links on your blog on a regular basis, this little plug-in can help you keep your links nice and tidy. You know what else helps you keep your links nice and tidy? Not making any links at all. But where’s the fun in that?

Click to Tweet: I really like this one. I only installed it, initially, to be obnoxious and to try to prove to my friend Todd Kruse that there was, in fact, a useful time and place for hashtags, so he’d stop hating on them. Worked, too.

Stop hatin' on the #hashtags. Discover some fun WordPress plug-ins, instead!
Click To Tweet

StarBox: That’s the little bio box you see at the bottom of each of my posts. Lot of different display options, but mainly it’s a nice way to keep all my social media links handy. It’s great for multi-author blogs or giving registered guest posters an extra perk, too.

Contact Commenters: A great way to email the readers who leave comments on your blog (be nice, don’t use it to spam people!!). I do wish the developer would add a way to permanently remove addresses on request; right now, that’s not an option. But you can see there are multiple options based on dates, date ranges, specific posts, number of comments, and so on. It’s very flexible and very nice, I think, if you use it sparingly and keep it personal. (On an unrelated note, aren’t all the teeny-tiny live links in this image just adorable?)

Google Fonts for WordPress: Maybe not the most intuitive thing on the planet, but this lets you use over 600 different fonts (you have to download each one separately) in your blog. Maybe not a “must-have,” but still fun to play with.

WP Show IDs: I’m not sure why it’s not just built in with WordPress, but I suppose most bloggers don’t need to know their category and tag IDs all that often. When you do, though, you’ll know it – so remember this plug-in. It doesn’t do anything fun; it just shows you the ID numbers that correspond to your Posts, Pages, Media, Links, Categories, Tags, and Users.

Twitter Highlight: This one’s kind of silly, but lets me quickly add links to people’s Twitter handles just by doing this: @HollyJahangiri (I don’t have to add a link – just the Twitter handle. It’s a nice little shortcut.) I even got credit for helping fix a bug!

WordPress Firewall 2 and ThreeWP Activity Monitor: Only install ThreeWP Activity Monitor if you are not afraid to see just how many attempts are made to hack into your WordPress admin and user accounts. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it can be fairly amusing to see what passwords these folks will try. No, I don’t have an account called “admin” or anything else that’s that obvious or likely to be easily guessed. And why would my password be – oh, you gave up and are just venting your frustrations, now, I see. Well, same to you, hacker wannabe. (Seriously, this is not for the timid. Better you just install WordPress Firewall, get someone to lock down your .htaccess file for you, and not keep yourself up nights worrying over this stuff. I just think it’s kind of funny. It’s also a good lesson in “change your password if you flub it logging into some possibly shady site” – because anyone with this plug-in can see what you unsuccessfully attempted. Here’s a little sample (why do they think I’m into horses and golf and horny goldfish??):

Screenshot from ThreeWP Activity Monitor

Last, but not least, is RSS Multi Importer. It’s better than the blogroll app on Blogger that grabs little excerpts from your favorite blogs’ most recent posts, and it’s the only thing of its kind I’ve found for WordPress. Setup and configuration are not hard, but step through it carefully – it takes a little time to get aquainted with this plug-in, although recent updates have made it much more intuitive. To see it in action, just click Recommended on my menu bar, and look at the last four items. Each consists of RSS feeds in different pre-defined categories within the plug-in. Adding them, once it’s set up, involves nothing more than a simple shortcode.

Well, that’s it for now. I suppose I should at least consider organizing the photos and the yarn stash I keep shoving into that corner. Enjoy your weekend!

 

 

HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.

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14 thoughts on “Decluttering: Use It or Lose It”

  1. Hey Holly,

    You know what, I guess 1 or 2 years back I purchased the Comment luv Premium when Andy changed to a recurring payment option. I just purchased before the change. Can’t say if he has switched it back as when I check http://hjahangiri.ccgeek.zaxaa.com/s/57084310183, it doesn’t display the /year thing for multisite option. BTW what is this ccgeek.zaxaa? Don’t you use a plugin which shows blogurl/recommend/commentluv? I have noticed it in many blogs. I guess, a affiliate plugin but which one?

    I wish I can get a plugin like StarBox or something where I can easily setup a multiauthor blog on blogger where they can get the revenue for their posts using the adsense from their account. Which plugin WordPress blogger’s use to share the adsense revenue so that the post by author X displays the ads from X’s adsense account only. And StarBox looks different what I notice on other blogs

    Contact Commenters, seriously a great plugin but I guess it will only work for WP enabled comment system?

    Yup, I remember your update on “someone trying silly passwords on your blog”. The first thing that I will consider for WP is setting up the security as much as I can though I know nothing is secure in digital world. At this point of time, I am only relying on Google. I hope by the end of this year, I would be able to start atleast half of my 40+ domains on WP.

    Regards
    Neeraj Rawat recently posted…Beware Of Incoming Scam Calls from Fraudulent Tech Support CompaniesMy Profile

    1. Hi, Neeraj! (Lured you in with that post, didn’t I? Don’t think that wasn’t at least partly my purpose…)

      Not sure about zaxaa, to be honest – when I logged into the CommentLuv Members dashboard, yesterday, there was a notice that Andy had switched over to it for the affiliate program, so I signed up and used the link provided. We shall see. I don’t expect to get rich, but you know Andy – and I think if any developer deserves to earn an income from his work, Andy certainly does! (Remember, though he may have since dropped Blogger support – I was the Blogger who goaded him into supporting it at all, once upon a time, and had the first Blogger blog to implement it! I have loved the Luv for years.)

      I hardly use Blogger at all these days, and don’t know the current plug-ins there. Does DiTesco still use it? You’d do better asking someone whose knowledge is more current than mine. (I logged in to find out that one of my Blogger plug-ins had gone rogue and started trying to load malware on users’ PCs. I’ve been wary ever since, to be honest – but then again, if I watched it daily, I might’ve caught that sooner. Or not. I think it only did it if you weren’t logged in. I don’t even remember which one it was, but do be careful of those things.)

      As for the AdSense revenue plug-in, I wouldn’t know that either – this really isn’t a multi-author blog, nor do I run one. Whatever pittance I may ever earn from AdSense (which has been less than the $100 minimum over all the years I’ve had an account, so I’m not exactly holding my breath, here) goes to me. Or WILL go to me, if I ever get past that $100 minimum. 🙂 You probably figured out by now that I’m not a very good affiliate marketer. I just figure if you’re shopping, and I’m making good recommendations, and it’s not costing either of us MORE…why shouldn’t I earn a small commission? In theory, anyway.

      40+ domains??? ::jaw drop:: Gets a bit pricey, doesn’t it? Not to mention a lot of work!

      I like Blogger, but it is not as powerful or flexible or scalable as self-hosted WordPress. It’s easier for non-technical bloggers to learn, it’s free, it’s quick to set up – but I outgrew it. If I can help you with WP or point you in the right direction, let me know. If you decide to go with HostGator, use coupon hgjgator25 for 25% off. 🙂 Yep, that’s an affiliate link, too. Enjoy!
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Decluttering: If You Haven’t Used It in 6 Months…My Profile

      1. I know, don’t worry. Its just like, I love to interact in this sort of things. Still, I get busy with job and never ending IT certifications in my list.

        I agree with you when I know a bit of code (atleast how to print “Hello World”) and he surely deserves that. The only reason you won’t find me blogging or commenting that much (still I don’t post daily/weekly or comment daily) or ever, when I will start coding properly.

        I did not buy it for blogger though good to know that it used to work with it. I wonder if it will work along with Disqus or only works with WP comment system. Will figure it out upon implementation.

        Yes, I know, just gone through your Video Interview and figured out that you used to use it during the days of Pyra labs. I did not know that if any blogger plugin was maliciously coded. I only use few that too official blogger plugins.

        I know this isn’t a multiauthor blog but just thought you might know. Yes, I know that you write from the core of your heart and thats why I am still here. The day you will start only affiliate marketing, I will be happy to leave the way I left other affiliate marketers. I agree with you that if someone is making good recommendations specially the genuine bloggers like you then I won’t mind buying the product, if I need it and its not a bad idea to include affiliate links. I am planning to include mine on EG when I am recommending an Antivirus or a product that much. But I could not understand the logic of getting an email teaching you how to get more subscribers or readers or etc etc when you signed up for something else. Learning things to get more people is still not a bad idea but it should be with logic and proper step by step procedure.

        I guess they are 50+ now(Around 10 are for Experts Galaxy itself, all the extensions). Yes, you know its somewhere around $500+/year if I don’t get time to search for renewal coupon codes. You will be surprised that only 3 are live now. Rest of them are either extensions(If I like a domain then I buy it along with all the important extensions say .org, .net, .info, .in) or parked using Launch Rock. Surely, they will be live oneday.

        Blogger has improved a lot, improving daily. The only thing I miss in blogger as of now is the easy option to make it multi-author. I wonder if anyone knows html, css and javascript in depth then why they would ever use WP or any other CMS for blogging (Just in case, they aren’t curious like me to explore WP, Joomla and Drupal).

        I had an account with HostGator, rather I paid them for 2 years for nothing (I felt this way after their last support that I took from them). Just adding my domains there and installing WP, Joomla and few forum softwares. There was a domain in my account with 2 posts out of which one was a video and the other one was a post against a mobile recharge company in my country. The images from the post were missing (I figured it out, one lucky day), they could not give me a satisfactory answer or the logs. Can’t say exactly if someone compromised my PC or the wordpress installation. As their Linux admin could not give any proper answer and Senior Linux Admin said that images were removed from my or similar IP.

        Though m not 100% non-hackable but was still wondering if someone really got a RAT on my PC and did all the jazz. That day I also figured out that my automatic backups were stopped because of inode usage and I was like what? I had a unlimited plan, the hatching one (Then I got to know the hidden truth of unlimited plans). Recently, I got a hosting from namecheap for $1/first year and next Christmas I will go with dreamhost, then bluehost and then might be with hostgator again. Now I am familiar with MS Server and Linux so if their support gives me silly answers then I can counter back.

        I still have an affiliate account with them and codes like expertsgalaxy25 or expertsgalaxy as I have with dreamhost are more easy to remember. Switch to an easy to remember code say hollyjahangiri25 so that in future if I or someone buys hosting from them then they can use it. hgjgator25 is hard to remember and I guess people won’t come back to this post for the coupon 🙂
        Neeraj Rawat recently posted…Winners of Bitdefender Christmas GiveawayMy Profile

      2. Hi, Neeraj! Are you learning programming? I’ve done a little coding in the past, but only learned enough to implement my own designs in a text-based, online, multi-player role-playing game, back in the early 1990s, because I was impatient and the programmers got tired of me asking, “When will that area be ready?” so they figured it was easier to teach me how to code. 😀 It was a proprietary language, though, so I usually tell folks I have no idea how to do any programming. The skills are probably transferrable, but they’re very rusty. They do contribute to my logical thinking, some days; I think, too, that grammar is not so different from programming, in that it has a certain logical syntax and varies by language.

        Back when I was on Blogger, nagging Andy to make CommentLuv work there, too, I said something about being a terrible nag and the bane of programmers everywhere. He was kind enough to dub me a “programmer’s muse.” I like that. I understand just enough to believe a good programmer can do anything. (Or maybe I don’t know enough to know better.) At any rate, I have more imagination than skill, and I love working with programmers to make things happen. I also love the fact that they won’t let go of a challenge; I get obsessive about solving problems, sometimes (not all of which really NEED to be solved, and sometimes there are workarounds), and I can count on a good programmer to get just as caught up in the idea as I am and not leave me hanging with a, “Why would you even want to DO that?”

        Oh! I discovered the secret to getting tons of new Twitter followers, Neeraj, and for just $29, I can tell you how to get HUNDREDS of free followers… no, just kidding, but if all you want is an uptick in numbers, just tweet out “1000 followers for $22” or something and I guarantee you all the bots trying to sell twitter followers will home in on that and follow you. For free! Yay! (Okay, so they’ll probably unfollow you in a few days, too, if you don’t fall for their schtick, but they think you’re in the market or are checking to see if you’re on auto-follow-back, so they can sell your Twitter handle. Cheap trick, but it amuses me greatly. Next week, not so much – vacation will be over and I’ll be back at work and not have time for such silliness.

        When it comes to Blogger, I think I’m just put off by things that start out feature rich but not all that user-friendly, then dumb it down further for the masses by taking away half the features and structuring things in a way that’s no longer flexible. WP isn’t hard to learn for beginners, but the flexibility is there and experts can have fun with it, too. I dug into it one year and created my own theme. Then vacation was over and I realized it wasn’t the sort of thing I wanted to do full time – but it was a good learning experience and quite fun. I always like to customize the .css and make the theme my own; this blog is running a version of Elegant Themes BOLD, but I changed everything. 🙂 If you look at race2hugo.net, it’s running the same theme. Different look and feel, different navigation options. And I feel as if, if I get stuck, there’s a big and helpful community out there that will unstick me. I just don’t know that many Blogger “experts” anymore. c

        I had a run-in with Hostgator over that bot – they accused me of running a bad script, and I assured them I don’t code. They argued with me, and I went for the throat (okay, don’t EVER lie to me or accuse me of lying – it gets on my last nerve and “nice Holly” disappears). I had it out with them on Twitter and had about six hosting companies offer to transfer my sites for free. 😉 I don’t want to transfer my sites – I’m lazy. I LIKE Hostgator, but I was furious. I seriously considered transferring, but I was very sad it had gotten to that point. When they realized I wasn’t playing around, and admitted it was a malicious bot from China that I had NO control over, and helped me get things fixed and back up and running, we made up and I would still recommend them without hesitation. Their support has always been excellent compared to past hosts I’ve had, and they have offices (former HQ) within ten miles of me. Of course most of the major hosting companies have all been bought by one company in Utah, now, and support’s been slightly less stellar… but that’s not the thing that would drive me away. My last two web hosts LIED to me. Just outright, bald-faced, stupid LIES. That will never fly. I’d almost rather my site be down for a week than for them to LIE. (Ask my kids. That’s the one thing that will make me well and truly ANGRY.)

        Coaching me on affiliate marketing, too? And not even charging me $47 to learn how to create memorable coupon names? What is this world coming to? Missed a prime opportunity there, Neeraj! Look, if it’d make YOU happy and you’d use it, I’d go figure out again ow to log into my affiliate account and CREATE a code just for you. You tell me what you’d like me to name it, and if it’s not taken already, I’ll do it. LOL (Wait, email me that – or some enterprising young affiliate will just do it faster.)
        HollyJahangiri recently posted…1000 Words + a PhotoMy Profile

      3. I did a bit of C, C++ & Java at the undergraduate level. I always wanted to code but life has something else for me. I got into the IT side and after CISCO (its the only one pending as if now), I will code till m alive as I have a better understanding then what to code and what not to. With so much resources available online, you can start to code again 🙂 or join the initiative at code.org .

        You are right, a good programmer can do anything. At times its difficult to make your imaginations work using others skill. Better get the skill and convert the imaginations in reality.

        I saw people selling gigs like this, might be using the bots trick. Yup, better do something creative like a new crochet instead of silliness.

        I understand that but I better care for security as more features lead to more vulnerabilities. If the work can be done with limited features then I prefer to stick to command line sort of things, which I guess refers to blogger in the category of CMS ;). I guess, I saw that, are you referring to that purple thing in 2012? I checked the other theme and I was like- if I am on some sort of NASA’s website. People start with blogger and then move to WordPress, I wonder why? I would never like to switch a single author blog to WP. See the WP functionalists that you are using here can be done in blogger as well, apart from the comment luv plugin. If you know HTML and CSS then you can customize the things as per your wish. Anyway, let it be.

        Those 6 companies offered the transfer for free or hosting for free? I felt the same sadness when they could not provide me a satisfactory answer, the way they did in past. I don’t know when I will be with them again as I would better like to check dreamhost and bluehost before them. I noticed that everyone try to be a master affiliate so I provided the tips 😉
        Neeraj Rawat recently posted…Create A Free Coming Soon Page For Your Blog or WebsiteMy Profile

      4. I’m pretty sure those particular companies aren’t even competitors, anymore, Neeraj. (Their competitors on Twitter were offering to transfer my files for free and provide hosting at a lower cost. One was quite tempting; I told them I’d keep them in mind if I couldn’t get things resolved here, but I hate having to move. Seriously – if you want to make a total switch, you’re going to have to work on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endurance_International_Group You see the dangers inherent in a monopoly? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HostGator for some background info that likely explains some of the differences in service over the years. I was initially drawn to HG because they’re local to me – and had ties to my home state, Florida, as well. I’m a Gator! 🙂 Mainly because I’d had such a poor experience with my previous host (the one that LIED to me, outright, for MONTHS – telling me my problems were with my own site, when in FACT they me on a server with failing hardware that they took over two months to replace). It reminded me of the time support wanted to solve my PC problems by re-imaging my hard drive, when the actual root cause of the problem was a cheap hub under my desk that was failing.

        I agree that running a leaner site with fewer features is generally the more secure approach. That said, after HG suggested that might be part of my performance problem, I invited them to tell me just what, specifically, was inefficient junk – and their support folks came back and admitted it was pretty clean and efficient. Yes, there’s always some room for improvement, and they helped me to make some of those improvements. (Just because I’m critical when something’s wrong doesn’t mean I don’t still love them!)

        Not sure what you mean about the purple thing… my old template, you mean? 🙂 One of many. I like the current one; it has a classic, tailored, comfortable look and feel – doesn’t ever get in my way. And with a few minor tweaks, yes, it’s exactly the same theme as the one with the starship.
        HollyJahangiri recently posted…Writing, Blogging, Splitting HairsMy Profile

  2. The one plugin I think more people really need to add is called Limit Login Attempts. It does just what it says, and you can set it to block those IPs for hours at a time, which leads into days or weeks at a time if you’re really gungho about it.

    As for the clutter… I had an organizer come to the house years ago and give me the six months advice thing. I do it here and there but a couple of weeks ago, the day after my wife got home, I went through & cleared out tons of stuff. Mentioned it on FB & lots of people said they were going to do the same thing. Thus, it’s a problem many acknowledge they have and only needed a catalyst; that’s my role in life. 🙂
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…Day After Christmas; Best Of 2014 & A Look At Goals…My Profile

    1. Good suggestion, Mitch. I do have Login Attempts, too. Judging by the crap these folks try, the only thing my Login Attempts does is thwart ME when I forget my own password. 😉 I host a friend’s site, as well, and it routinely locks him out of his own blog – I finally had to tell him if he flubbed it twice, he should just admit he forgot it and reset the password, as that would be easier. I had his and mine set that after the second lockout, a person would be locked out for six months. At one point, there were some pretty concerted attempts going on, and it amused me to watch them cycling through proxy servers in hopes of getting around it.

      Funny story, though, about ThreeWP Activity Monitor. I commented on a post, once, and mentioned it – and how you could see the attempted passwords. Someone dropped by from that post and sent me replies as “attempted passwords” and tried it out. I was never sure WHO (another commenter, I’m sure) but I went back to the original comment thread and assured them I could see them, and replied to their message left in bad password code. LOL

      As for the real-life clutter, there’s always FlyLady. 🙂
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…1000 Words + a PhotoMy Profile

  3. Boy, I wish my mother could read this post. Haha. Decluttering is important if we want more in life in general. It frees us from the things we don’t need so we can be open to the things that are necessary. Great post. 🙂

    1. Are you saying your mom needs to declutter, Luz? Or that she doesn’t appreciate that decluttering can happen on a blog or in the brain – not just in closets and kitchens? (I’m probably old enough to BE your mother – I can’t help wondering just what you mean by this! 😀 )
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…1000 Words + a PhotoMy Profile

  4. I’ve been happy with a WordPress blog since 2012 – never a problem.

    I own my name’s domain, and one for my books, and would like to host WordPress.org there, but I’m scared – I’d have not the slightest idea what to do is someone tried the things you were talking about above.

    I do have WordPress for Dummies, and learned the more useful stuff of the .com version that way (several years ago). It also includes the .org stuff – but I haven’t tried that yet.

    Can you suggest a good basic book? I used to program Crays in Fortran (that’s how old I am), so I’m comfortable with the general idea of programming. I taught myself enough (tiny bit) HTML and CSS so my ebook and POD are the way I want them (some complex stuff I had to do by hand).

    But I’ve never designed a website, learned real HTML, etc., and would appreciate a suggestion for a couple of books.

    I have no real interest, beyond running my blog (which COULD stay where it is forever), and making a nice site for my books (which are very slow coming), but CAN learn if I decide I need to, and eventually want to sell a few small things from the book site (WordPress.com won’t let you monetize).

    Thanks. Low level, please.
    Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt recently posted…Encouraging new writers: on the edge and without a netMy Profile

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