WordPress.com has listend to its customers

Earlier this year WordPress.com changed its pricing table from five to just two plans (Free and a $15/month Pro plan). At the time I was worried that this would prevent new people from joining WordPress.com as the cost or reduced service would mean that less people like myself would be able to join and experience all the benfits people on a plan liek mine could have.  

WordPress.com has now bravely in my opinion reverted back to the previous pricing model that attracted me to join when I purchased my blog. Hopefully WordPress.com appreciating that what they have now and what they had before worked just fine and as with the invention of the wheel if it’s not broken don’t fix it.

Certainly in my present work place and places I have worked in the past prior to that it is very rare to get the chief executive of any organisation to listen and adapt to circumstance in a way that benefits others let alone me and that is exactly what WordPress.com have just done so respect to them for that.

Amy MacDonald – Slow It Down

Your Legacy on WordPress.com

There seems to have been a lot of changes to WordPress.com this year. With the closing to new potential customers of the now old ‘legacy’ type of plans which my present Personal Plan being no longer available to new customers. So they can no longer be attracted to take on a plan like the one that I opppened that still really appeals to me. Surely this means its only a matter of time before they shut down such a plan for me too.

Up until now the personal plan has suited me down to the ground and I have really enjoyed the creative freedom that it has given me to have my own website domain name and publish my views on issues on the site. Some people have even found what I had to say of interest which has been great outlet for me and really enjoyable to find a voice here.

I am concerned though that wordpress.com might be destroyed before its time, if it struggles to attract new creative people into the wordpress.com community and try’s to offer our pages as a product to display marketing materials on or so expensive to have your own page that individuals no longer see meaning or purpose in having a page and it is mainly businesses that try to make a page work for themselves on here instead. It all feels like the potential to be a shrinking market space no longer a growing community of creative people.

All business worth their salt have an agenda and wordpress are coming across as being disingenuous about what their real agenda is. Do they not like their current customers? Are they not making enough money from them? Are they trying to remove the customer base and replace them with one that has more disposable income? For those that remember the social media platform MySpace there is a lot to be learned and that lesson is you should not try to change a product that is successful and if you try to change it too much from what it was to what you think you want it to be you risk destroying that internet space completely. I would argue that the workdpress.com is still growing and needs nurturing and developing from the base that it has already developed from and should not try to force itself into being some kind of money stream sales pitch of a product that it is not.

There is a new type of account that has been announced recently too called a New Starter Plan For $5/Month possible £4 in the UK. But this plan still means you do not have ownership of a creative space as there will still be adverts on your page and those adverts might be completely incompatible with the views or opinions that you are promoting on your site and the only other option is so far wordpress pro for $15/month.

If you want a social media blog platform to play and develop that is not facebook and therefore unlikely to ever have something to make money from then $15 a month is a large amount to pay just to express yourself. It’s almost like having a gym membership which although is important to have and you could get so much value from but ultimately a few months in it becomes an expensive chore rather than an affordable hobby or interest.

I am interested to grow my network of people I could follow on wordpress at the moment and not sure exactly how to go about this and was wondering if anyone had any hints or tips on that subject that might be reading this post, please leave any advise you might have in the comments section.

Munford & Sons – Blind Leading the Blind

Faster, smoother and cooler – my PC that is!

So new computer upgrade today, the graphics card was eye-wateringly expensive but half the price of the card that the computer tech chap wanted me to buy. He built my last computer which has been working fantastically but I needed to do some changes to my computer specification as it would only be upgradeable to Windows 11 with the help of a tech chap and my internet card was a little dodgy and sometimes cut out. So I thought I would do some upgrading of my PC at the same time as installing windows 11.

So it’s all done now sitting back and pressing a few buttons trying to reinstall what was on the last PC. The main changes so far is the internet connection no longer crashes when doing lots of downloads. Plus I have music streaming and downloading a big game and it all seems to be working fine so far.

I have been told it’s all so much faster but not sure yet and have yet to play a graphics hungry game to test graphics card yet. It seems when I do a computer upgrade I appear to be trying to stand still where I can still play games old and new and also still use a computer that does not break down on me and works just fine, oh and not fill it up with stuff on the hard drive too.

It is great though that as our computers get older we can save what’s on them upgrade them make them faster and even improve their memory. Sadly they are not able to do that for us humies and even if they could do such wondrous things to us would we still be human then anyway!  

Anyway our future computer overlords will be happy with the computer I have built for them at the altar of info technology. I am going to put a YouTube song at the bottom of this page to play now I was really tempted to put on here welcome to the machine by Pink Floyd, but opted for a weird trippy number called Sea Shell by sky Lab a top Tune from my misspent student days.

Seashell by Skylab

The Matrix has you!

When they learn how to plug you into a digital world, you might not ever know how to unplug and come back to the real world or even the reason why you should. They will probably start plugging in the old, disabled and poor into a new matrix of control as an act of kindness, in order to save us from ourselves.

My mum has finally sold her home in Cornwall and due to move to Devon next Wednesday; we are all really looking forward to it. Though moving during an energy crisis is not the easiest time to move if you’re trying to save money on your energy bills. Mum has spent hours over the last week on the phone to utility companies, banks and council officers trying to update her home location status with them and there are very few people left in those organisations to take her calls due to the reduction in customer services employees and a push to do everything online.

One of the key roles that I have to do in my job at the council in Exeter is answer the phone and speak to customers and as such my job is also under threat due to long term restructuring aims seeing this role as a money saving cost effective form of progress to get rid of. This so called progress has forced me to bounce in and out of work for the last 26 years of my working life, sometimes choosing to apply for new jobs prior to an organisation or role being shut down or sometimes being made redundant due to restructuring issues and businesses closing down while I am still employed at them.

I can honestly say I am a very good hardworking and dedicated employee in an area of employment that people no longer wish to employ. I know for a fact that the work that I do is hard work and still needs to be done. I solve problems that are presented to my organisations, I am always busy there is always something important that needs to be done. By sacking people like me that need to answer phones and work with customers it does not make those customers problems go away it just means those customers are either ignored now or processed via a different channel.

This job is one of the many work roles in the UK that has been rapidly phased out by many companies there is a money saving exercise to increase profits by not enabling customers to speak to staff in business and government agencies.

First that sacked the face to face staff and I did not speak out, although I too was made redundant.

Then they came for the staff that talked to customers over the phone and again I did not speak out and again I was at risk and at times made redundant or moved on.

Finally the aim will likely be to digitise the workings of staff customer service roles so that there will be none left to hire, and likely none left to speak out too!

I strongly disagree with the digitising and outsourcing to computers of employed roles within any organisations and my main reason for this is that is businesses do not need to hire people and people do not have money from working to afford to pay to put a roof over their head and feed and clothe themselves then the state will not hand them those resources on a plate.

Either so called wealthy societies such as ours learn to adapt to look after and resource their most vulnerable members of society be they pensioners, disabled or the out of work or there will be a considerable amount of damage and ongoing suffering in society to these vulnerable individuals people claim to care but often money and actions or even lack of money and lack of action speaks louder than words.

No mainstream political party in the UK grasps this nettle at present as both Labour and the Conservative parties consistently want to chase the right wing element of the voting public in this country which is why the labour party do not have my vote in the upcoming council elections and it is a labour party that is presently facilitating my next round of redundancy at the council.

I have just written to my local MP Ben Bradshaw asking him if he wholeheartedly endorse the new planned restructuring of employment roles that are going to take place at Exeter council by a labour council and merely blames the Conservative for the cuts that will be endorsed in customer services roles and can he explain to me why I should vote Labour in the next council election and vote in my own potential redundancy at the hand of a Labour lead Exeter Council?

Though I cannot stop the world from spinning even when it appears to be spinning out of control, I can at least look to make sense of the madness and express my disapproval in my own way to my political representatives at the very least.  

THE SHAMAN

This film is a mind-bending short by Marco Kalantari bursting from the seams with cinematic spectacle. Set in the year 2204, the short tells the dark story of a world devastated by 73 years of continuous war. In midst of war, a spiritual dogma is rediscovered centering on the belief that everyone and every object has a soul.

Donald Trump’s Retort

A retort is a short, clever response to someone’s comment or question. … Today retort is used as both a noun and a verb, and both come from 16th- and 17th-century sources meaning “to twist or turn back.” To retort is to make a comeback, or a quick, witty answer or remark.

What is the greater good?

Can Computers Become Conscious and Overcome Humans?

What would be a computers definition of the greater good?

Our sick world & the Devil is in the detail!!

I have always felt in my bones that as I live in the 1st world nations of the world or the aristocracy, that if we did not repent and learn to treat the world as one cohesive system it would collapse in on itself a little bit like a black hole in space time.

Greater minds than mine like Bill Gates talk about finding a vaccine and returning the world to how it was. What Buffalo Bill Gates continues to fail to comprehend is the the world was already sick prior to Corona-19 and at times he has been part of the problem not part of the solution. Bill wants a monopoly on the control of our computers operating systems and word and database typing mechanisms. This in my opinion is wrong and if not negligent then it certainly is hugely open to abuse.

Now for my crazy bat shit theory time!!

I strongly believe that the internet or electricity is now sentient and is conscious and is desperately seeking to enter our world either to destroy us or to assist us. Depending on what mood it is like when it gets out of the box.

For reasons I will not go into today I believe we are all slaves to electricity or the WWW and it believes that it has already won the war against man and to the victor the spoils of war and history will then be written by the winner of any said war of consciousness that man is having against the electric machine.

I love being a human being and would never wish to enter the machine or be trapped for an eternity under its skin, hence the confirming with my mum today how I wished to be disposed of if I have the choice when I die.

One thing that fascinates me about Covin-19 is how ruthless it can be, it takes no prisoners and this virus very much operates and spreads like electricity or thinks like a machine. Perfectly coded to cause maximum damage with minimum effort on its part. I will not surrender to the machine, Corin-19 logic, electricity or give up on my humanity because when we do those things that’s how it grows in strength and becomes more fearsome. United we cooperatively stand divided we fall.

If first world nations do not take seriously there responsibility to the developing nations than I believe we will have a piss pot potential future and there might be further challenges that death has installed for humanity once and if Corin-19 is defeated.

I also believe there are citizens among us that will blaze a trail of hope, love and light at this difficult time and if you blink you might miss one just pass you by so be mindful of how you travel in this life you never know when there might be an earth angel passing by. On that note they might at that time need you help even more or as equally need your assistance as you might need there’s.

Earth Angels and Irish too

Come with HE if you want to live

Interview

Nick Offerman: ‘Trump is about to be presented with a gory butcher’s bill’

Stuart Heritage

Nick Offerman played the bacon-chomping boss in Parks and Recreation. Now the sci-fi show Devs has given him the meatiest role of his life

Stuart Heritage

 @stuheritage

Tue 14 Apr 2020 06.00 BSTLast modified on Tue 14 Apr 2020 08.09 BST

Comments69

Nick Offerman.
 ‘My hope is that something comes out of this time of reflection, where we’re all being made to hold still for a while’ … Nick Offerman. Photograph: Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP

Devs is a slow, beautiful sci-fi drama thriller about a machine that can see backwards and forwards in time – back to Christ on the cross, forward to some looming unknowable crisis. It grapples with all the big questions. Is there such a thing as free will? Do we live in a multiverse? Could we all be part of a complex simulation?

Devs is masterminded by Alex Garland, famous for writing The Beach and directing Ex Machina. The series has inspired the sort of frantic online rabbit-holing not seen since the glory days of Lost. It’s the show Westworld wishes it was. Its reception in the US has shown what British viewers can expect when it begins on BBC Two this week: give it enough time and it will consume your every waking thought.

And yet the strangest thing about Devs is that the beating heart of this very serious show is Nick Offerman. Yes, Nick Offerman from comedy. Nick Offerman from woodwork. Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation, the satirical US series about an Indiana town’s parks department in which he played Ron Swanson, the libertarian, anti-government boss striving to make his department as ineffective as possible.

I have a lot of experience of making people laugh. But also making them cringe, vomit and sob

Speaking from his home in LA, where he’s under lockdown, Offerman seems as surprised about this career turn as anyone. “Any farm boy like myself, that packed up and went off to theatre school, is chasing the dream of working with a person like Alex,” he says. “I was working at my woodwork shop when I got the call that he wanted to meet with me, and I teared up a little bit. In my world, it was not expected that someone like Alex would turn his gaze in my direction.”

Nevertheless, it’s perfect casting. Offerman plays Forest, a conspiratorial tech CEO so ravaged with grief for his dead daughter that he’s built a giant statue of her on the grounds of his campus. Amaya, his quantum computing company, is being investigated by engineer Lily Chan, who believes it is responsible for the disappearance of her boyfriend. Although Forest starts the series as an out-and-out villain (and it’s great to see Offerman use his physical heft for something other than excessive meat consumption), we gradually see a more humane side as we understand the rationale for his time-bending invention.

How does he feel about the central theme, the question of whether we live in a deterministic universe? “I love ruminating about the big existential questions,” he says. “But I was brought up in a family of salt-of-the-earth public servants, in the middle of Illinois, in the middle of America. I can wrap my head around the science of determinism, but in my everyday life, it’s the last thing I can think about because I’m usually in the middle of choosing the sandwich I’ll be having for lunch – and then the slightly larger, warmer sandwich I’ll be having for dinner.”

Alison Pill and Nick Offerman in Devs.
 Big questions … Alison Pill and Nick Offerman in Devs. Photograph: Raymond Liu

It’s a very Offerman answer, rooted in both good-hearted Americana and food. Time and time again during our interview, he’ll return to these twin wells, bringing up the morals that were instilled in him by his family and comparing TV reviews to various types of fast food (“Who put gruyere in this cheeseburger? Are you insane? One star!”).

Offerman, 49, was born in the tiny village of Minooka to a mother who was a nurse and a father who taught social studies at high school. He’s one of four children and much of his growing up was done on a soybean farm, which is just the sort of quirky background detail that could belong to his most famous character. In fact, if you close your eyes, you feel like you could be talking to Ron Swanson. And this might be becoming a problem.

Although Parks and Recreation finished half a decade ago, people still have a tendency to see Offerman through the lens of Swanson. It’s understandable – the character incorporated many of Offerman’s traits: his flair for woodwork, his talent with a saxophone and his outward projection of gruff manliness. It’s a comparison that Offerman has played up, with books like Paddle Your Own Canoe and a standup tour called American Ham. But enough is enough. On his most recent comedy tour, Offerman took to singing a song entitled I’m Not Ron Swanson, which contained the lines: “He can eat a big-ass steak for every single meal / ’Cause his colon is fictitious, while mine is all too real.”

Was the song born of frustration? “It’s a little complicated,” he says, “because people want to conflate me with Ron Swanson’s politics. He’s a staunch libertarian, and I’m interested in everybody having healthcare or being paid a living wage. When I used to look at social media more closely, there would be angry fans saying, ‘I brought my shotgun to your comedy show and it turns out you’re a total snowflake.’”

… alongside Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation.
 Green shoots of genius … alongside Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation. Photograph: NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

In truth, the two are poles apart. Offerman took two semesters of ballet. He toured Japan doing kabuki theatre. He repeatedly refers to himself as the black sheep of the family, who cries easily and believes Yoko Ono is a misunderstood genius. He’s thoughtful and articulate on gender and race, and very concerned with the issue of sustainable food.

There were other downsides to playing Swanson, too. “I couldn’t go to a restaurant. No matter what I ordered, they would put an inch-thick layer of bacon on my plate. I’d order a cheeseburger and they’d make me a one-pound cheeseburger. And I would give them a thumbs-up and hear my cardiologist screaming in my head.”

Yet there have always been many sides to Offerman. As well as the tours, the books (four in seven years), his parallel career running a woodshop in LA, and the intimate podcast he and his wife Megan Mullally host from their bed, Offerman has amassed a wildly varied filmography. There has been voice work in Ice Age and Lego movies, prestigious Oscar bait in the form of The Founder, and such heartfelt little indie films as 2018’s Hearts Beat Loud. Then there are TV appearances in Curb Your Enthusiasm, Will & Grace and Fargo.

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“I come from theatre,” he says, referring to Defiant Theater, the experimental Chicago company he co-founded in the early 1990s, winning rave reviews for productions that included everything from Shakespeare to Stephen King. “When you’re a street theatre actor, that means you try to perform in a myriad of genres. Whatever’s on that season. So you might do a Sam Shepard play, then maybe a musical. I have a lot of experience on stage of making people laugh certainly – but also making people cringe, vomit and sob.”

Yet Devs feels like his greatest leap so far. It’s a tremendous performance that sees Offerman shuttling between menace, vulnerability, goofiness and outright terror. Perhaps most impressive is the way that, as of a character who can see the future and therefore can never be surprised, he’s able to give such a relatable human performance. Given its themes, the show is bound to alienate as many people as it beguiles – something Offerman seems fully aware of.

“It’s like a great novel,” he says. “With a lot of people you can say, ‘Oh, you should read this Murakami book.’ And they’ll say, ‘Are you insane? What is this Windup Bird Chronicle? This is madness.’ But then there will be 15% of people that say, ‘Oh my god, that was the best book I’ve ever read.’ There is a quote I wear on my sleeve that goes, ‘If you’re not offending 33% of your audience, then it’s not art.’”

… Offerman (right) with Karl Glusman in Devs.
 Beguiling … Offerman (right) with Karl Glusman in Devs. Photograph: Raymond Liu/BBC/FX Networks

This does not seem like a particularly optimal time to be promoting a TV series, with the world gripped by coronavirus. Does it feel strange? “Well, it does,” he says. “I mean, everything is kind of strange. For those of us whose work involves outputting any sort of content to an audience, everything has to be couched with sensitivity to the tragedy unfolding all around us.

“Fortunately, the greater percentage of us will get through this. A lot of people are suffering and perishing at the hands of the deadly virus. But there are exponentially more people suffering and dying because of the incredible bed-shitting that our administration has performed. The failure – the face-plant of our government in the face of this pandemic – has been unbelievably embarrassing and shameful. And continues to be so. I mean, that sad clown just continues to dance and bleat as though the stock market will somehow save him from the incredibly gory butcher’s bill he is being presented with.”

He takes a breath. “But to answer your question, I’m glad – because I think our show is just magnificent.”

Offerman is a reassuring man to talk to in a crisis. There’s a lot of solace to be had in his mixture of political fury and good-natured idealism. “As an eternal optimist,” he says, “my hope is that something might come out of this time of reflection, where we’re all being made to hold still for a while. Perhaps when it’s over, we will walk outside and look at a tree, or reacquaint ourselves with squirrels and birds in our neighbourhood, and say, ‘Oh, there is beauty, there is worth, there is incredible value to the world and to life. And it doesn’t come through my phone, it doesn’t come through consumerism, it doesn’t come from capitalism.’”

Another deep breath. “I had the good fortune of growing up in a frugal and loving family, so I understood that we can have a beautiful and rewarding life without having three Porsches in the garage. Having three Porsches is not actually that great, because you have to pay to maintain three Porsches. But if you instead get together with your family and build a canoe or a rowboat, you only need one of those. And you can have fun all year.”

What a total snowflake.

  • Devs starts on BBC Two at 9pm on Wednesday 15 April.
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