Monday, August 30, 2021

Gone for Good?

This is a blogger rant because, once again, a useful feature for many users has been removed. This is yet another casualty in Google's assault on blogger usability. Pardon my frustration but I am really missing this feature, and maybe you are too.

What Happened?
The sidebar widget quick edit tools, a crossed screwdriver and wrench, are totally GONE. The icons linked directly from a post or widget to an editing window. These once familiar cons are not just missing, bu have been removed and are no longer available, no thanks to the Google team. 

So, if you have a sidebar widget that's used to list items such as favorite posts, blogs read, books read, etc., you can no longer edit those lists. The only option I could  find was to delete the widget entirely, which, of course, would delete all the listed items as well

This means that I can longer add or delete blogs, which could be done for various reasons — a blog was deleted, a blogger stopped posting, or just to update the listing for other reasons. Apologies in advance for not being able to remove non-functioning blogs or to add new ones — it's Blogger's fault.

This isn't just a minor inconvenience for many, like myself, but it really is a big deal, despite what the Blogger team may think, if they even do (sorry, but this really has me annoyed).

When did it happen?
A couple of weeks ago it was apparent that the icons were missing. At the time, I thought it might be just another blogger quirk (there's been others). But,  last week when I wanted to edit my blog reading list and found the tools were still not available, my online search started. 

In July 2021, Google completely stripped this functionality from widgets. While numerous online solutions and fixes have been identified and proposed, according to several experts, none of these will currently work. Apparently, this isn't the first time these icons have gone AWOL. Google removed the quick-edits from all blogs in January, then reversed that move.

The good news (at least for now) is that Quick Edit Pencil icon remains. 
Some online articles said this icon had gone missing  in the past, but then was put back. Others have predicted that eventually this quick edit tool will disappear too. Yikes!

Checking the Blogger online community showed that many bloggers have complained about the deleted toolbox icons. 

Some comments/complaints:
The edit toolbar has disappeared on my sidebar, it's the same on all six blogs I'm admin for as well as my own so figure others may have the same issue. Whilst it's possible to go in and edit from the layout section on the dashboard, html is the only option and does not work effectively in the same way as using the tool direct from the blog page. Can anyone advise if this is going to be fixed any time soon. 

This is most disappointing as I use the function to change dates and other info on my sidebar widgets almost daily and would image many other users do.

I'm also experiencing the same issue, can I fix it? The quick edit tool is a really helpful tool, blogger should keep it or update, using the blog viewer/dashboard/posts, is not quick or easy.

Not another (yawn) improvement, with the usual (yawn) excuse of security reasons? So soon? The quick edit for posted blogs was restored because of a user backlash, so let's hope the people who actually use this site every day make enough fuss that this one— a feature that is actually useful — is restored, rather than just dropped (because Google can't be bothered to actually put any effort into Blogger these days, just chop functions out of it).

Some Blogger Expert comments:
The Team had to remove this feature due to upcoming web browser security - moving forward, as the quick edit feature/method used will not be forward compatible. If you feel the feature would be useful, you can send your feedback using the Send Feedback link at the top right of your dashboard, to let the team know . . . For the quick-edit tools, we don't know exactly what is going on. May be related to another big change at Google, this time related to 3rd-party cookies.

Blogger Product Experts are described in Google Communities Support as users passionate about Google products who enjoy helping other users. While that may be how Google regards most experts. There were some whose comments seemed to downplay bloggers concerns. Many experts used the term deprecated when referring to a feature no longer available. This confused some bloggers who asked if it meant deleted or removed—it does in simplest terms.

Here's an explanation of deprecation — it's the discouragement of the use of some terminology, feature, design or practice usually as it has been superseded or is no longer considered efficient. In programming, deprecation is the process of taking older code and marking it as no longer useful within the codebase, as it has been replaced by newer code.

This isn't the first time that a favorite feature has been deprecated. That happened in mid-May 2018 when it was announced that some features would soon be retired from Blogger due to low usage and to allow the Blogger team to focus on developing new features. 

The Next Blog feature that allowed users to visit a blog similar to the current one was one such removal, much to the chagrin of bloggers who complained that it was the only way they could find and read new-to-them blogs. And, it's still AWOL.

What can Bloggers do?
If you too disagree with the sidebar widget quick edit toolbar no longer being available, you can send feedback with the Send Feedback link at the top right of your dashboard. According to some Blogger experts only a large number of feedbacks from many people can change something in this matter.

The more folks who send feedback (and complaints) about this removal, the quicker it may (or may not) get restored.

To find that ? icon, go to your blogger dashboard; it's in the upper right corner. Click on it to access the Help and Feedback sections.
While there's no certainly that the widget icons will be restored in the future, a bit lot of complaining may result in something being done. I've already posted gone to Feedback and posted my complaint about this removal. Honestly not holding any false hope that this icon will be restored, but maybe if enough bloggers complain, something will happen?

When checking for updates on the Official Blogger Blog, it's evident that this site is not really kept current. The most recent Blogger team post 
titled A better Blogger experience on the web was in May 2020. There was no update on future deprecation of the widget edit tools, which only happened in the past month.

OK, that's it for this post rant and while I don't feel better about the removed widget toolbox  my frustration has been shared. Future posts will be about recent travel and other things. 

UPDATES: Fellow blogger, Marcia, commented that she can edit her blog list by going to Design, selecting Layout and going to the widget to be edited in this way: On Blog List scroll down to the bottom where it allows you to add new blogs and edit the blogs on your list. Other widgets can be edited that way too, though not as easily as before. 

Here's the only options available when I tried ➡ that suggested method over the weekend and again today. 😟 

Fellow blogger, Jon, suggested this workaround: Go to Design and select Reading List. At the top of Reading List select "Manage" (on the right-hand side). This is where you can manage the blogs on your reading list.

I tried that suggestion and got this message: You are not currently following any blogs. Click here to enter blogs you'd like to follow in your Reading List. 

According to Blogger: You can read the latest posts on your favorite blogs by adding them to the reading list on your Blogger dashboard.To Follow a blog, Your Google profile, including your name and profile photo, will show up publicly as a follower of a blog when you use the Followers gadget. You can change your Google profile any time. To follow a blog anonymously, follow it from the Blogger dashboard or the Settings menu.

A good suggestion, but this option doesn't work for me as I have never used Follower gadget to read blogs. My choice was to just list blogs on th sidebar and then edit as necessary with the sidebar edit tools.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Friday Funnies

Thanks to everyone who commented on the previous post that told the backstory of how we, Dorothy (aka Beatrice) and Patrick (aka Grenville), met and wed. All comments were read. We appreciated both the well wishes and shared romance stories.

Our anniversary adventure was a mini getaway in NH and VT (details later) and home before Hurricane Henri was due to impact New England. There was no reported damage in Nashua, NH. However, the flooding and loss of life in TN was heartbreaking to see. If anyone you know,  family, friends or bloggers live in affected areas, we hope they are safe. 

Speaking of travel, other folks have been doing so as well and left stickers this VT utility box.
This motorist posted travel stickers directly on the vehicle; do you? (we do not)
A previous post noted that two blogger friends are facing tough medical diagnosisIf you missed that post, take time to visit: Rita's blog is SoulComfort's Corner and Mildred's is Laurel Wood (wish her a Happy 🎂 Birthday today).

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone.
Nashua, NH, will be warm & humid followed by more rain

Saturday, August 21, 2021

We Remember I Do's

On this day, 22 years ago we were married. As many of you may (or not) know, our actual names are Dorothy & Patrick. (All photos in this post were taken by friends using film camera and later scanned onto a CD.)
Introducing Grenville & Beatrice (Boyds Bears) 
Beatrice and Grenville are the aliases we have used on this blog. Those names were based on these Boyds Bears collectibles. True Love had a place of honor on the table at our reception dinner. Best Friends are what we consider ourselves.

Today, marks our 22nd anniversary and coincidentally it's also shared with a couple we met years ago. When we lived, we traveled to the Blue Ridge Mountains as did Kath and Andrew, visitors from the UK. From a chance meeting in a hotel for breakfast, we've remained in contact, exchanging birthday, holiday and anniversary greetings. We hope to meet again one day to celebrate our mutual anniversary. Those plans will have to wait awhile longer (sigh). 
Dorothy & Patrick sharing their vows, which were written by them
Our wedding ceremony took place in our home state (NJ) at the United Methodist Church, Bridgewater, NJ, and was officiated by the Rev. George Fisher. We opted for a
 small ceremony attended by immediate family and some close friends. 
Bubbles bring out the child in everyone, young and older
Bubbles are always a big hit with people of all ages. We made sure everyone had a bottle. (as you can see, the church was undergoing some exterior renovations at the time.)
Immediate family members posed with us for memory photos
Afterwards, it was time for some family photos, which become more precious because of the relatives no longer with us. Top left: us and Pat's daughters, Coleen and Shannon. Top right: us with Pat's late aunt Anita, my sister-in-law Anita, my late mother and nieces Julie and Jamie. Bottom left: us with Pat's late aunt Ann. Bottom right with Pat: my brother Tony, Shannon's fiancé Robert, and Pat's Uncle Russ.
Family members who shared our Special Day and sadly have passed
We had our reception in a favorite restaurant in downtown Somerville, NJ, which we learned in recent years, is no longer there. Top photo is us with my mother and her sister Anna. Bottom left is me and cousin Rick, (we shared the same birthday). Bottom right is Pat and aunts Anita and Ann. Sadly, all the family members have passed away since, but, we have our memories.
Friends & family gathered after our wedding & dinner
At the time of our marriage, we each had our own residence. Pat's house was at the NJ shore and my condo was in Somerville, NJ, which is where an after dinner get together was held. Some of us changed into more comfortable attire.
Pat was laughing as I opened his gift —  a mailbox full of various sized penguins. The date on the mailbox (5/16/97) was to recall our first date. 

Why was I gifted with a penguin filled mailbox?
Here's the backstory. 
We met online and corresponded for several months because of our differing work schedules and distance of about 70 miles before finally meeting in person. Our communication was solely by email (like in the film, You've Got Mail). There were no no phone calls; our correspondence pre-dated text and video messages. This email is now framed and displayed on our bedroom wall. 
Grenville & Beatrice Boyd share bookcase space with our photos
The Grenville & Beatrice Boyds Bears figurines mentioned herein are displayed on a bookcase in our living room and bear (bad pun) these inscriptions on the bottom:

The great secret of successful marriage is to treat all disasters as incidents and none of the incidents as disasters (Harold Nicholson)

There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved (George Sand)

We're going on a short road trip here in New England to celebrate, no long distance or any out-of-country travel for a while. Our adventures will include a museum visit, agricultural fair, covered bridge, lunch with a blogger friend and, of course, an ice cream treat.  Expect to see some of these adventures in a future post(s). 
Some of our 2021 adventures and enjoyment (so far)
Thanks for sharing our Special Memories by reading this post. We do appreciate it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Garden of Sculptures

Fellow bloggers, did you ever have a post you started working on, put aside and then forgot about it for one reason or another? This one was like that. It's not that we didn't find it a fun day trip, but that we saw so much!

In late spring, we took a 45-minute trip from Nashua to Lee, NH to visit a public garden, which wasn't always a garden. That's because, what's now home to an amazing garden of plants and unique sculptures was once a 37-acre dairy farm that had been abandoned for about 40 years. 
These fields, where cows freely grazed, is now home to a public garden where whimsical metal sculptures like these above capture the imagination and they were everywhere we looked.

Jill Nooney & Bob Munger
Bedrock Gardens is a 20-acre garden situated on a former dairy farm that dates to the 1700s. In 1980, the land was  purchased by husband and wife, Jill Nooney and Bob Munger who started planning and planting their garden vision in 1985. Nooney is a clinical social worker, sculptor designer and metal fabricator with an extensive knowledge of gardens. Munger is a retired doctor and a self-described tinkerer who designed many of the gardens walkways and water features. They designed, created and maintained the garden for over 25 years and designed the landscapes to showcase Nooney’s very unusual sculptures. The gardens showcase over 1,000 varying plant species, many in perennial beds that are arranged by texture, color, and size. 

Former farm house (Internet source)
The former dairy farm included a farm house, circa 1740, historic barn, 3-hole outhouse and 37-acre of scrub forest. Over the next two decades, 20-acres were developed into a large ornamental garden. The first years were spent clearing out acres of poison ivy. The scrub growth and grown-in fields were cleared, access roads were established, and woods were thinned, trimmed, and managed under forester and arborist advice. Wooded areas were lumbered to create a trail system. In 1991, a wildlife pond was built, and work started on perennial and shrub beds. Walls, paths, water features, structures, and topographical improvements, have been added over the years. Currently, two-thirds of the property is garden.
In 2013, the Friends of Bedrock Gardens was formed as a non-profit foundation. Its goal is to promote and support the gardens and operate it as a public garden. All board members are volunteers. The gardens are financed by admissions, donations, grants and memberships.
This year was the first season that Bedrock Gardens operated as a nonprofit public garden. Our admission passes were obtained through the Nashua Public Library website where the Friends of the NPL provide funding for library patrons to visit museums, science centers and other attractions within NH and Boston at reduced costs.
Bedrock Gardens includes botanical specimens and unique sculptures into a landscape journey. Scattered throughout the 20-developed acres are small and large pieces of sculpture created by co-founder Nooney. Many of the sculptures consist of old agricultural tools.
Exploring the gardens is designed as a journey along a three-quarter mile path through distinct garden areas accented by pools, fountains, seating areas, pergolas, long vistas, and quiet spaces. Unusual plants 
collected and nurtured by the co-founders are found throughout the gardens, along with benches, chairs, and tables available to rest or enjoy a picnic lunch.
The gardens contain many different features, all linked with pathways. There’s a spiral garden, perennial beds, a small garden with a pond and fountain, and the barn garden, lined with a towering hedge, and a wall of 26 small sculptured metal creations made from old farm tools.
The Wiggle Waggle (below) is a 200-foot water channel planted with lotus and lilies. Throughout the gardens are examples of Nooney’s sculptures and artwork.
Not to be outdone by his partner, Munger has his own special sculpture ↓ hanging in the gardens. In case you were wondering what it was in life, it's a complete horse skeleton.
The day we visited, the gardens were relatively uncrowded with no limit on time spent exploring. While a printed guide was available, we mostly enjoyed just wandering around. One of the paths led to this Buddha statue ↓ placed under a giant metal halo suspended from tree branches.
One area within the gardens houses a large collection of metal parts of varying sizes and shapes (below). Most likely some of these will eventually be used to create more one-of-a-kind sculptures. This is recycling in a major way.
Bedrock Gardens was a place we will most likely revisit one day. There was so much beauty in the garden itself, and it was even more fun seeing the metal sculptures dispersed throughout.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Ready, Get Set, Go

As soon as possible to your local U.S. post office or any other place you buy first class postage stamps.

Why the rush?
In case you haven't heard, it's because currently in the U.S. the cost of a first class postage stamp is 55 cents, but in less then two weeks on Sunday, August 29, that same stamp will cost 58 cents — a 5.5 percent increase. This is the second USPS postage rate increase in 2021 since a January 24 increase of 1.8 percent overall that raised rates for the additional ounce on first-class postage, metered mail, certified mail, postcards. Priority mail services increased 3.5 percent overall for flat-rate envelopes and boxes.

A first-class stamp covers the price of a one-ounce first-class letter. While the current 20 cents charge for an additional ounce costs won't change, which increased 5 cents in Jan 2021. 

There's a way to avoid the increase
Stock up now on First-Class® Mail Forever stamps. The Forever in the stamp's name means that even after the August price increase, a single stamp bought for paid 55 cents will still send a one-ounce letter to any U.S. address without needing more postage. Plus, if you have any Forever stamps stashed away, you can still use them until your supply runs out. 

Forever stamps, introduced in 2007, always equal the current price of a first-class stamp. An original First-Class® Forever stamp purchased then for 41 cents or any in following years are still OK to mail a first-class letter with no added postage. Since 2011, nearly all U.S. first-class stamps sold have been Forever stamps.

Forever stamps also can be used for outbound international letters, but still may need more postage to get to the correct amount. There are Forever stamps for international letters, so if, like myself, you send international letters, you might want to stock up on a few of these before Aug 29 — that cost is going up too and more than the U.S. increase. For example, a first-class letter sent to a UK friend will go from $1.20 to $1.30 — Yikes! That's a 10 cent increase so, yes, I've stocked up on some of those, ahead of pre-increase time, as well.

Here's some overall highlights of what you can expect with the August 29 USPS increase.
  • First Class Mail Letter (1 oz.) rises from 55 cents to 58 cents 
  • Each added ounce for First Class Mail remains at 20 cents (no change)
  • Metered letters would rises from 51 cents to 53 cents
  • Domestic postcards rises from 36 cents to 40 cents
  • Outbound international letters rises from $1.20 to $1.30
  • One-ounce flats rises from $1 to $1.16
According to the USPS, this rate increase impacts Market Dominant products, services, like First Class Mail letters, postcards and mailing services. It doesn't include Competitive products, like First Class Package Service or Priority Mail. Of course, this could change in the future.

Where's the blame fall?
Convenience seems to be the culprit. Widespread use of email for bill paying, online ordering, correspondence, and the increasing shift to online banking have all affected the USPS bottom line. Folks are buying fewer stamps for letters and bill paying and even sending greetings online. Businesses have determined that customers can be reached faster and with less costs by email instead of through mailings via the postal system. Of course, while this may reduce junk mail, there's also the risk of increased  spam and junk mail in your online mailbox.

The USPS generally receives no taxpayer money for operating expenses. According to a May 28 statement, the proposed postage price hikes are a first step in a plan to reverse a projected $160 billion in operating losses over the next decade.

The Post Office Department was created in 1792 with the passage of the Postal Service Act. It was elevated to a cabinet-level department in 1872, and in 1970 was transformed by the Postal Reorganization Act into the United States Postal Service as an independent agency, a government-business hybrid that has received no taxpayer monies for operating expenses since 1982 but remains subject to congressional oversight. 

In a 2020 report, the Universal Postal Union ranked the postal services of 170 countries. The top five countries were Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Japan, followed by France, U.S., UK, Canada, Singapore. India Post is considered the largest postal system in the world. The most expensive place to mail a letter is Norway along with Denmark, Finland, Switzerland. While mail services are cheaper in some countries like Peru, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Malta the cost of postage has to be weighed against the economy. 

What I'll be doing 
Personally, I'm still  sending postage required (snail-mail) letters and cards which are generally enjoyed by recipients. I'll also mail holiday cards again this year, although the list will be re-checked (like Santa's) and most likely undergo cutbacks. Extra stamps were bought after the 2020 holiday to prepare for this holiday season. Yes,  I expect to buy a few more before Aug 29 arrives.

And, here's a surprise gift thought — if you know someone who likes to send letter/cards and perhaps is on a limited budget, send them postage stamps in your next card or letter.

Will the USPS postal increases affect your correspondence?

Friday, August 13, 2021

Friday Funnies

Something I saw on display recently struck me as unusual (just saying). Although its contents are not listed on this side panel, there was a clock in this package.
Feel free to comment. At least the package and product design was credited to the U.S.A. 

My purpose in posting this image is that many people may try to find products made in their respective country. Seeing product labeling like this seems somehow misleading. 

In the interest of fairness, Kole Imports is a family owned and operated wholesale merchandise distribution business based in Los Angeles, CA. It began in the 1980s when two brothers, Rob and Danny Kole, sold tools and hardware at venues in San Diego, CA. Business expanded and the they began importing directly from the Orient founding Kole Imports in 1985 expanding their product line to multiple categories of general merchandise. Kole Imports inventory lists over 10,000 items, selling them worldwide to over 100 countries.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Stay Cool. It's been a hot week here as in many states
Be safe too, it's Friday the 13th