Blog Page

Site Builders

I’m not fond of site builders. I don’t care for them. I’ve felt that using website builders was cheating. It is like tracing when drawing buildings. The latest theme from Cyber Chimps, called Solome, requires the Elementor plugin. I was not happy with having to use a builder plugin. But, after using the plugin, I’ve revised my opinion about page builders.

Elementor is a WordPress plugin designed to “build” custom pages and posts. Users can add responsive columns and widgets as well as add background not set by the WP theme. Users can also save designed templates to use on other pages or export to other WP sites. There is no extra coding required and the free version is powerful.

The one thing I liked about Elementor is how much I can do with a simple page. I used to rely in tables and HTML tricks for custom page layouts. The plugin removes the need to hard code. Verse Gutenberg, Elementor is much easier to use. The block editing/drop and drag designer with this plugin is superior.

My opinion has changed about site builders. Site builders for WordPress are good… if the user knows the fundamentals of WP. I wouldn’t recommend it for all types of websites. A user/developer would need to decide if it is right direction on a case by case basis.

The Gutenberg Debate

Gutenberg will be the new WP editor, wither or not users want it. WP Tavern posted about the mixed user reviews at (https://wptavern.com/gutenberg-plugin-garners-mixed-reactions-from-new-wave-of-testers).

I try to be open to change. I understand that programs need to evolve to meet the needs of the user. I am also very aware that I am not a programmer nor a web developer. I have a very limited knowledge so I am not an educated authority on the topic. In my attempt at learning, Gutenberg became my default text editor for my sites.

The issue I have is the block editing. This is distracting and unwieldy. I want to create a post. I don’t enjoy writing when every block of text has it’s own option sections. I also want the option to edit my entire post using the HTML editor. I don’t want to go through each paragraph and select “Edit as HTML.” I don’t want pictures to be its own block. I want to add a picture and choose where it’s located with ease. In Gutenberg, the picture is its own editing block. Once the image is set then it is very difficult to impossible to change its location. 

I know that like it or not I must learn to love Gutenberg. I trust that WordPress is reaching out to a broader range of uses. I also know that the Gutenberg Editor will become intuitive. I am worried that the new core editor may make the WP experience more cumbersome. 

Learn more about Gutenberg at https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/

Eastman Homage

The next Totes the Webcomic story is a homage to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created one of the few indie comics that is as famous as Marvel and DC comics.
 
The next webcomic story debuts this Friday.  
Homage to TMNT
A homage to the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic created by Kevin Eastman.

Gutenberg vs. Classic Editor

Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress, gave an address in Belgrade about Gutenberg. He discussed that future installs will ask users to choose between the Classic Editor or Gutenberg for text editing. This is one feature of Gutenberg that I have reservations about.

My first reservation is the ability to copy and paste text. In the Classic Editor, I can copy and paste text from a Word Doc to a post with ease. With Gutenberg installed, I get extra paragraphs or no paragraphs at all. Additionally, I worry about the ability to add HTML/CSS code into a post. I’ve modified page layouts by adding CSS styles and tables. Gutenberg has yet to adjust for plugins that fall under the “Extended Settings” field. For example, I use a plugin called WP Multisite Crosspost. In a multisite environment, I can create a post and have links show up in other blogs. It works fine in the Classic Editor, but not in Gutenberg. I also cannot add links without reverting back to the Classic Editor setting. 

What I want and hope is that Gutenberg will not give an “either/or” option for how users write their blogs. But, I recognize that may not be the direction WordPress will want to go. WordPress seeks to increase their user base.

More Information

Gooding, Sarah. “Matt Mullenweg Unveils Gutenberg Roadmap at WCEU, WordPress Agencies and Product Developers Sprint to Prepare.” WordPress Tavern, 21 June 2018 https://wptavern.com/matt-mullenweg-unveils-gutenberg-roadmap-at-wceu-wordpress-agencies-and-product-developers-sprint-to-prepare

The issue as of 6/21/18

Response to The Persuaders

The Persuaders is an episode of PBS’ Frontline which focuses on how marketing firms found new and effective ways to advertise among the advertising clutter in society. Marketers face the dilemma that people are unaffected by advertising. Ads are everywhere and people no longer pay attention. This “immunity” forces advertisement firms to find unique ways to promote their products.

The first part of the Frontline episode follows Song, a subdivision of Delta Airline, in their attempt to market themselves. Frontline also investigates new marketing techniques to “break through” to new customers. Some companies employ “Branded Marketing,” in which a television or movie blends their product within a storyline. FedEx interwove itself as a “character” in the movie, Castaway. Starbucks did the same in the Sean Penn movie, I am Sam. Other companies hire linguists, anthropologists, and brain researchers to discover techniques to influence the consumers.

The second part of “The Persuaders” reports on Dr. Clotaire Rapaille and his formula for marketing success based on his theories about how the reptilian part of the human brain works. Dr. Rapaille theorizes that people’s choices are imprinted since childbirth and dictates our shopping habits. He is sought after by marketing firms to discover more effective methods of advertisement.

The last part of the Frontline episode investigates how politics are using the new marketing methods to influence voters. Using a technique called “Narrowcasting,” political strategists (like Frank Luntz) can manipulate language to either clarify or cloud issues like global warming. In fact, The Persuaders demonstrated how changing the term “Global Warming” to “Climate Change” lessens the severity of the issue to the American voter. Furthermore, Political groups can deliver poignant and customized messages to specialized demographics rather than the community. This develops a sense of self over community within a voter.

I feel that The Persuaders Frontline episode is remarkable yet extremely disturbing. In the pursuit of selling products, marketers have discovered an effective method to deliver messages subversively. This is an amazing study in how the human brain works. However, it is a double-edged sword. I believe that empowering companies to psychologically manipulate their consumers creates a culture of people who can no longer think for themselves. A person’s identity and sense of individuality help develop critical thinking skills. If we’re manipulated subconsciously then we begin to be robbed of our ability to make logical decisions. We become psychologically dependent on businesses to dictate our likes and dislikes, much like how cults control people (which was referenced in The Persuaders); except our cults become Nike or Apple.

The Persuaders reported on a data collecting company called Acxiom. The company uses computer farms to mine data so they can predict the shopping habits of every American. The data mining is the “Gold Standard” for commercial advertisers. In fact, data mining has been an effective marketing ploy for myself, despite my lack of interest in watching television and movies. Online shopping sites such as Amazon frequently recommend additional items related to my purchases. I buy tablets and phones and, when I could afford it, accessories for them. I also purchase website themes and scripts. There is no doubt that my data has been mined by algorithms created by companies like Acxiom. In fact, my wife’s devices have a completely different set of ads due to her clothing and jewelry purchases.

In today’s age of interconnectivity, I don’t believe anyone is immune to advertisements. However, I believe that we need to be aware of how modern-day marketing works so we don’t abandon our critical thinking skills. Like anything, advertisements would ideally be received in moderation.

Investing in the Chocolate Market

Summary

As with any other consumable, the price of chocolate is driven by supply and demand. According to a market business report by Son Nguyen & Nickie Coker, “The masses, enthralled with better-quality treats, have become accustomed to spending an extra $2 or $3 every day on luxury options (Nguyen).” Chocolate is the second dominating specialty product that is wanted and consumed daily, next to coffee.

Background

Chocolate is a loved product worldwide. It is a 500-year-old sixty-billion-dollar industry, as reported by The Oxford Club’s website, Investment U (https://www.investmentu.com/article/detail/30459/investing-in-chocolate). Additionally, the demand for premium dark chocolate has risen since 2008, after the recession. Recent promising studies suggest that dark chocolate may help lower cardiovascular disease risks (Zucchi).  Not only does chocolate have a long history of sales but also has health benefits.

The Chocolate Market

Who buys chocolate? Nearly 50 percent of all chocolate is consumed by Europeans. A blog by CNN’s Freedom project titled “Who Consumes the Most Chocolate” reports that Europe makes up 49.32% of this industry. North America takes up 24.22% (with the United States at 20.19%). The third highest consumer is Asia and Oceania (which includes Australia) at 14.19%. Forbes magazine reports that within Europe’ market, the average Switzerland consumer consumes 19.8 pounds of chocolate yearly (McCarthy). Germany customers consume 17.4 pounds and Irish customers eat 16.3 pounds.

Despite stereotypes, there is no discernible difference between men and women chocolate consumers. A U.K. Study conducted found that although 91% of women admitted to consuming chocolate, 87% of men who were polled also ate chocolate (http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/17/who-consumes-the-most-chocolate/).  In an article by Slate magazine, there is no scientific basis in gender bias chocolate cravings:

“Research on whether women like chocolate more than men has yielded mixed results, in part because craving—the term researchers tend to use when talking about chocolate proclivities—is an inherently subjective phenomenon (Anderson). “

Chocolate remains a supermarket impulse buy. Roy Morgan Marketing (an Australian firm) conducted a survey on where shoppers purchase their chocolate bars. The survey concluded that “4.9 million Aussies bought at least one chocolate bar from a supermarket in any given four-week period – accounting for more than three-quarters (76%) of the chocolate-bar buying public (Roy Morgan). “

Delish.com reports that 90 million pounds of chocolate candy are sold for Halloween. Easter time 71 million pounds are sold and Valentine’s Day 60 million pounds (Tannenbaum). Referring to a chocolate industry report by Franchise Help, “Seasonal candy is a major driver of the confectionary industry, and in 2014 accounted for over 21% of sales – over $7 billion.”

Conclusion

A focus market for chocolate sales would be based on Europe, specifically Switzerland. The product would ideally be marketed to both men and women. The chocolate product would ideally be sold in grocery stores or convenience stores as an impulse purchase. Lastly, the best opportunity to increase sales of chocolate would be Halloween.

References

Anderson, L.V. “What’s Up with the Stereotype That Women Love Chocolate?” Slate Magazine, Amazon Associates, 13 Feb. 2012, www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/02/valentine_s_day_do_women_crave_chocolate_or_is_that_a_stereotype_.html.

McCarthy, Niall. “The World’s Biggest Chocolate Consumers [Infographic].” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 22 July 2015, www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2015/07/22/the-worlds-biggest-chocolate-consumers-infographic/#538584554484.

Nguyen, Son, and Nickie Coker. “Gourmet Chocolate.” Gourmet Chocolate -, SBDCNet News, 2006, http://www.sbdcnet.org/small-business-research-reports/gourmet-chocolate.

Tannenbaum, Kiri. “8 Facts About Chocolate.” Delish, Hearst Communications, Inc., 28 Aug. 2017, www.delish.com/food/news/a39015/facts-about-chocolate/.

“Chocolate Industry Analysis 2018 – Cost & Trends.” Franchise Help, FranchiseHelp Holdings LLC, 16 May 2016, http://www.franchisehelp.com/industry-reports/chocolate-industry-analysis-2018-cost-trends/.

“Vast Majority of Chocolate-Bar Buyers Get Their Fix from Supermarkets.” Roy Morgan, Roy Morgan, 7 Oct. 2015, www.roymorgan.com/findings/6492-chocolate-bars-at-the-supermarket-june-2015-201510062257.

“Who Consumes the Most Chocolate?” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 Jan. 2012, thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/17/who-consumes-the-most-chocolate/.

Zucchi, CFA Kristina. “What Drives The Price Of Chocolate?” Investopedia, Investopedia, LLC., 16 July 2015, http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/071615/what-drives-price-chocolate.asp.

Chocolate Demographics by Region

BA-223-0-10288

Market Chosen: Chocolate

Segmentation Model: Demographics by Region

Chocolate is an 83 billion industry worldwide (“Who Consumes the Most Chocolate?” 2012).

Segments

Europe: 49.32% = 40.94 Billion

North America: 24.22% = 20.10 Billion

Asia and Oceania: 14.49% = 12.03 Billion

South America: 8.68% = 7.20 Billion

Africa:  3.28% = 2.72 Billion

Reasoning

Chocolate is the most popular where it is the rarest and the country with the most wealth. In an article by Slate Magazine, the writer reports on why Switzerland consumes and produces the most chocolate products. “Few cocoa-producing countries are big chocolate consumers because chocolate is a luxury,” notes Brian Palmer, “wealthy Western Europe constitutes 6 percent of the world’s population, but eats 45 percent of its chocolate.” Africa, which produces 2/3’s of the world’s chocolate (Maverick), only consumes 3.28% of the product. Many South American countries such as Peru and Mexico are the top exporters of cocoa, which explains why South America is the second least consumer of chocolate.

References

Mattyasovszky, Miklos. “Top 10 Cocoa Producing Countries.” WorldAtlas, WorldAtlas, 22 Apr. 2015, www.worldatlas.com/articles/top-10-cocoa-producing-countries.html.

Maverick, J.B. “The 4 Countries That Produce the Most Chocolate.” Investopedia, Investopedia, LLC., 30 Sept. 2015, www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/093015/4-countries-produce-most-chocolate.asp.

Palmer, Brian. “Switzerland Is the Last Place on Earth Where You’d Grow Cocoa. So Why Do the Swiss Eat So Much Chocolate?” Slate Magazine, The Slate Group, 11 Oct. 2012, www.slate.com/articles/life/explainer/2012/10/nobel_prize_and_chocolate_why_the_swiss_eat_and_produce_so_much_chocolate.html.

“Who Consumes the Most Chocolate?” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 Jan. 2012, thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/17/who-consumes-the-most-chocolate/.

Summary of “If a Story Is Viral, Truth May Be Taking a Beating”

by Illya King

This is a summary of the article “If a Story Is Viral, Truth May Be Taking a Beating” by Ravi Somaiya and Leslie Kafugman of the New York Times.

In the article, the writers are discussing three viral news stories that were revealed to be hoaxes. The hoax stories were reported as factual on several news sites before a retraction was published. When the news sites apologized for the errors, there was little to no consequences for the false reporting. The writers are making a statement that truth has no relevance to online journalism.

The writers interviewed news editors of popular news sites like Gawker and The Huffington Post. They interviewed educated college professionals as well as the creators of the popular hoax stories. The purpose of these interviews is to discover why the fake news stories became popular and why little to no fact-checking was done before publishing them.

Fake News or un-verified news is published because readers want the news as a distraction. The news people are reading is a form of entertainment. They want news that makes statements about the culture they are living in. Facts are no longer as important, and the line is blurred for viewership.

The writers point out that instant news reporting is helpful, like Toronto mayor’s, Rob Ford, cocaine use. However, news organizations do not see conflict with posting factual news along with fiction. As the writers learn, there is a trade-off with hyper news reporting… it is impossible to fact-check fast information. Most online news sites rely on third-parties to validate the truth of their content. In an age of hyper-connectivity, online news sites struggle to balance between factual reporting and viewership. Readers are more concerned with reading news for entertainment and have little care for facts. 

Response to “Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like'”

Response essay to-  https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/opinion/sunday/stop-saying-i-feel-like.html

The essay we were given to read was “Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like It’ by Molly Worthen of the New York Times. The essay was about the phrase “I Feel Like” and the non-verbal meaning behind the phrase. The author discusses the brief linguistic history as well as why people use it. It concludes is that “I Feel Like” is a non-logical and lazy way of absolving ones’ self of the consequences of their words. I agree with Ms. Worthen’s point in that the phrase “I Feel Like” is a control and non-rational statement.

Ms. Worthen wrote about the history of how “I Feel Like” came into our common syntax. The phrase came to fruition due to the ever-evolving and polarizing diversity in our society. The phrase is a “safe word” design to structure a point of view to be non-confrontational and digestible. The words are meant to protect the audience from being offended. However, as Ms. Chai (a college senior interviewed) pointed out, “you can’t really refute them with logic, because that would imply they didn’t have that experience, or their experience is less valid.”  “I feel like” is a passive statement designed to control the results of the conversation.  It’s a linguistic trap which sub-consciously forces the opponent of a debate to accept a point of view without a fight.

“Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like’” goes further into how damaging the phrase is. In the article, sociologist Richard Sennett points out that, “the more a person concentrates on feeling genuinely, … the less expressive he can be.” Additionally, Ms. Worthen interviewed Dr. Lash-Quinn who surmised that “I feel like” hinders our society from making “real gains in racial and economic equality.” By debating with emotions rather than with logic, more than issues and facts are in debate. Issues evolve into potentially emotionally harmful conversations.  People then create safe spaces to protect themselves from trigger warnings of emotional fueled dialogue. Rational conversation is what adults do. Responsible adults act and make decisions based on facts and reason. By engaging in emotionally charged conversations, our ability to respond rationally is compromised.

In conclusions, I believe “Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like’” is an excellent article about how to create rational conversation. It points out the fallacies in engaging in passive language. It also points out the importance of rational and responsible dialogue.

In support of high calories in homeless handouts

Note- I wrote this blog in January of 2012. All links and references may not be relevant.

ost cities are instituting Anti-Sit laws which prohibit people to sit on sidewalks and streets. Anti sit laws are design to prohibit individuals from obstructing commerce. In a report by NationalHomeless.org, the study found 30 percent of the major cities in the United States have criminalized sitting or lying on the sidewalk (http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/crimreport/crimreport_2009.pdf). Homeless people have very little places to go and therefore must be on the move to avoid criminal charges.

It is a documented fact that the human body burns up to 2000 calories a day, depending on body weight. The estimated 2000 calorie count does not include calories a person burns up in physical activity. A person can burn an additional 100 calories per mile to increase their calorie burn (http://walking.about.com/cs/howtoloseweight/a/howcalburn.htm). If a homeless person is on the move, carrying their possessions, how much calories are being burned in the process? And are those calories being replaced?

Link: How Many Calories Am I Burning When I Exercise?- http://k2.kirtland.cc.mi.us/~balbachl/calorie.htm

People who I have worked with in the past have given out bottled water and granola bars when outreaching to the homeless. The consensus among my former peers is that health should be the primary concern when helping people in need. Additional, former colleges of mine have given out vitamins to help replenish lost vitamins and nutrients. Granola bars typically have about 118 calories (http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-granola-bars-plain-i19015) which might replenished 1 mile of walking. Water contains no vitamins. Vitamins are a poor substitute for vegetables, but at least do provide some kind of nutrition. So the person who is forced to walk on the streets because of anti sit law are not getting the calories the human body needs.

When a person is deprived of calories, several things happen. Calorie deprivation causes

  • Thin or hair loss
  • Reduced vision
  • Tongue splitting
  • Gingival hemorrhage
  • Decreased sense of taste
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Anemic
  • Slower reflexes
  • And the inability to feel warm

Link- http://www.000health.com/life/11705-six-common-symptoms-which-prompted-you-lack-of-nutrition.html

Link: What causes fatigue headaches? http://www.livestrong.com/article/171288-what-causes-fatigue-headaches-lack-of-energy/

Link:Diet Myths — What Your Doctor Hasn’t Told You- http://www.stress-free-weight-loss.com/Grassroots homeless outreach is about providing temporary relief to those in need. Relief comes in different forms, such as communication, providing clothing, or even providing temporary shelter. But addressing calorie intake needs to be considered when providing a meal. By providing high calorie food, a person can help replenish calories burned by the activity of the street person. I have found that purchasing fast food, chips and soda can help alleviate temporary hunger for one meal. The foodstuff is not a source of nutrition. However, nutrition is the least of concern to a person on the street. Homeless people have more issues to deal with than whether or not the food they are eating is health. In my experience, providing comfort foodstuff helps to restore the sense of humanity that consumers take for granted. Providing brand name foods or fast foods is a luxury that street people cannot afford on their own.

Personal outreach is a very difficult thing to do, especially when a person is limited to their own finances. But when considering what to buy, think about the activity level of people who do not have a place to sit. Providing foods that are luxuries help in reminding homeless people that they are still people. And by restoring a person’s sense of self, that person may decide to seek out better solutions to their situation rather than remaining where they are at.