The Blog Turns Two

Jason Journals has arrived at its 2nd anniversary! Yeah! It only took two years to get here! […crickets…] While I wish I blogged regularly during the past two years, I have no genie in a bottle to help me out. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll post every month in 2019! Either way, it’s been interesting.

Looking back, I’ve blogged much more in my 2nd year than in the 1st. Last Summer, my blog had a short hiatus. But I re-committed last October and, so far, have been on somewhat of a blogging streak – cue happy dance.

Last month, Jason Journals reached a mini-milestone of gaining 100 followers on WordPress. Not a big number, but still, that’s progress! Any sign of growth is a good one to me.

Speaking of growth, I dare to think that my writing has improved – a little – in the past year. Maybe I have found my natural voice for typing the wispy notions from my 3-pound brain. They’re not all mind-candy, true, but that just means I still have room for growth. Nothing to brag about. I wrestle with the whole quality versus quantity issue for posts. But I hope that, with more practice, I will get better at prose.

For this year’s anniversary post, I’ve got four things for you:

One, announce an email address on my contact page so you can write to me. Here it is!

Two, announce and launch my blog’s newest theme, Rowling, by Anders Noren.

Three, announce a new feature on my blog, the Gallery. Here I showcase my favorite or best photography (my side-hobby) since I no longer use Flickr and I deleted my Instagram. (As of this posting, the Gallery – unexpectedly – isn’t displaying correctly; it should improve in the near future.)(Update: it works correctly now; thanks to the WordPress Happiness Engineers!)

Four, I’m listing four of my past posts about blogging itself in one handy place below. Maybe it will be informative and useful to you!

Raising a cup of coffee, here’s to another full year of blogging!

How long have you been blogging? Do you read many blogs? Leave a comment, or contact me here. Thanks!

An Awesome Blog Designer

If you’ve ever blogged, then you know there are super choices when it comes to themes. The design of a theme is a big deal because your blog must look like the-best-blog-ever, and it must work. I’ve tried many themes; I gravitate to those by one particular awesome designer Anders Noren.

I like searching for the ideal theme that’s got the prime balance of features I want. The style my eyes land on is clean, crisp, elegant, and minimal yet not bland. Typography should be bold but not audacious while also being easy to read.

Basically, Anders Noren style!

The design aesthetic of Anders exemplifies all the traits you could want. He knows how to handle both text and images, not just displaying them but showcasing them.

The icing on the cake is that many of his themes are free! And who doesn’t like free?

Lovecraft theme by Anders Noren
Rowling theme by Anders Noren

Of the many themes Noren has created, I have tried three of them and am about to switch to another theme of his. A fresh coat of paint could be nice to coincide with my blog’s 2nd anniversary coming up.

Here’s the thing that surprised me – as I found myself scanning the WordPress themes gallery and checking out different ones, I went by features and looks first. Yet I noticed that, somehow, I happened to prefer one by Anders Noren – again!

Right now I’m using the Lovecraft theme. But I wanted to move to one with more imagery while not appearing cluttered. So I have landed on Rowling.

Other great themes by Noren that I have tried in the past are Baskerville and Hemingway. You should check them out. Studying other themes will give you new ideas to spruce up your current one, exposing you to features or layouts you may not have been aware of.

What theme are you using now? Why did you choose it? Sound off in the comments below or send me a message here. Great to hear from you!

Demise Of Facebook Newsfeed

You and I won’t need to tolerate Facebook’s privacy woes much longer. Recent news about The Social Network trying to change its stripes expresses what’s been a long time in coming: the end of the Newsfeed era.

Keep in mind, headlines are meant to be catchy or sensational. Something like, “The Death of Facebook” is sure to grab attention, which is what every media site online wants to do. Like this blog post!

That said, since billions of people like to look at their Facebook Newsfeed, it’s a huge deal if it is about to go away or fundamentally change because the impact would be vast. Even minor changes in the past ruffled internet feathers.

Check out these March 2019 headline declarations:

Facebook’s News Feed era is now officially over

This could be the beginning of the end for Facebook’s social network

But big news like this isn’t new for Facebook. See this dramatic headline from nearly five years ago, April 2014:

This is the end of Facebook as we know it

I guess time will tell what really happens. But I’m gonna go ahead and call it:

“Facebook Newsfeed is maybe might be dying or dead!”

Sarcasm aside, there is ample reason to think something big is changing for Facebook and the Newsfeed. The founder, Mark Zuckerberg, recently announced a sweeping pivot for Facebook. This was followed quickly by two top-tier execs, one in charge of the Newsfeed for many years, suddenly announcing they’re leaving their jobs.

These big shake-ups follow several months of cascading scandals and controversies over Facebook’s business model and data collection practices. These changes appear to be a culmination of the previous problems, touched off by Russian meddling and Cambridge Analytica.

But I’m not here to rehash the issues. I simply wonder, is this really the end?

The way things have stacked up, I’m more convinced that Facebook’s dominance may finally be winding down. But I’m also concerned that it could be ramping up in other ways. I would not be surprised if Mark Zuckerberg wants to grow to become like WeChat in China, which I think would be worse than the Facebook Newsfeed!

Despite its claims to embrace privacy, I think Facebook, if it became like WeChat, would be more ubiquitous (invasive) and reach the utility status it wants. Like electricity or the internet itself, Facebook wants to be needed, as essential to daily living as buying food.

For a capitalistic business to so fundamentally govern billions of people, it would be like a government of the money, by the money, and for the money.

For Facebook, connecting billions of people is a means to collecting billions of dollars.

This is scary. I don’t want one man, or a handful of people driven by shareholders and more money, to have such power over billions of people – more than any single country’s population. It’s dangerous.

I don’t think Facebook has shown that it can properly manage such an influential platform. Sure, it’s got the technical chops to run a network from here to the moon and back. But it lacks the essential ingredients of an entity with large scale influence, like earning trust or understanding its role in civil discourse.

Great power plus not-great responsibility equals great corruption. Right?

Here’s the thing. Maybe Facebook grows bigger and more utilitarian in our society, yet it does not need to. We don’t need Facebook! You and I have been connecting and communicating with others well enough since forever without Facebook; we still can!

There are plenty of other tools and platforms and methods to talk with friends and family. There are abundant other resources for entertainment. And if you want the news, it’s available everywhere, not just on Facebook.

Plus, think of the new websites and services that could spring up if Facebook finally receded into the background. What if the big guy let the little guys have a chance?

I hope Facebook doesn’t grow any more. It’s too big already. I say Let Facebook Age Out.

Do you think Facebook is too big? What, if any, change would you want for Facebook? Leave a comment below or send me a message here. Good to hear from ya!

Finding Gems On The Open Web

As one who likes to blog, I try to embrace and promote the “Open Web” or the “Indie Web.” So when I bump into these ideas online, it’s encouraging. In the past week I found two little gems with Open Web vibes.

The first is by Brad Frost over at his own blog. I liked this little nugget a lot:

Writing on your own website associates your thoughts and ideas with you as a person. Having a distinct website design helps strengthen that association. Writing for another publication you get a little circular avatar at the beginning of the post and a brief bio at the end of the post, and that’s about it. People will remember the publication, but probably not your name. – Brad Frost

He talks about someone remembering him and his thoughts because of where they were found: on his own distinct blog. In contrast, when you post your thoughts on someone else’s site, like Medium, Twitter, or Facebook, your ideas are more often and easily lost or disassociated from you. Why? Simply because the other site you’re piggy-backing on makes you look the same as everyone else.

Brad Frost nailed this idea down well; it’s one I tried to articulate last year:

Before the internet became sophisticated and commercialized, bloggers had their own simple sites that linked to other blogs and interesting places on the web–blogrolls! And their blogs each had a unique look and vibe to them, like hand-crafted quality stuff. An individual blog reflected a person’s uniqueness; it made the web adventurous and even serendipitous!

book computer design development
Photo by Pixabay on

The second gem is from none other than Automattic, which I found at WP Tavern:

“A Meditation on the Open Web”

It’s a video illustrating the difference between WordPress (the Open Web) and Facebook plus Instagram (closed web). If you’ve ever used the Calm app, then you’ll recognize the inspiration of the video’s meditation.

In the video, “closed” websites are like crowded cities or cookie-cutter suburbs. But the Open Web is like the wide open countryside from coast to coast, interconnecting many types of sites. The illustration is apt, although there will always be debates about the pros and cons of the “closed” versus “open” web.

Are you an advocate for the Open Web? Do you balance using a blogging platform and social media sites? Comment below or write to me; I like hearing from you!

Gaming With My Girl

Did you know playing board games with your significant other can release the feel-good bonding hormone? I didn’t. But I think it’s true. And now I wonder, what about video games?

You can read the intriguing article over at Geek and Sundry:

Couples who play board games together release love hormones Baylor study finds.

Basically, the study showed increased love hormone levels between men and women when playing board games together. Who knew!?

Anecdotally, this makes sense. When my wife and I were dating before we were married (I specify that because we still date in marriage!), we played board games together a lot (Mastermind. She usually won. All the time). I’d say it helped us bond as a couple, having fun together.

We even once planned to collect board games for fun in our marriage, like a hobby for the two of us to share! (Is that geeky or what?)

I enjoy my wife and our time together most when we are playful or adventurous. So again, the board-game-love-hormone connection seems to play into it.

But what about video games?

My wife and I also played Nintendo games together a lot when we were newlyweds. Now, 17 years later, we’re doing it again. This time, we either watch each other playing Zelda or we visit each other’s towns in Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

I think the key factors in the love-hormone release are physical presence together plus verbal interaction over the gaming experience. Discussing rules or strategy and engaging in friendly competition or cooperation are also factors at play (see what I did there?).

Well, I’ll just say it, “I’m game!

If bonding together with my lovely wife means I first get to play more games with her, count me in – win! Maybe it’s like fore-foreplay.

I must also note, the Geek and Sundry article linked above was published on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. On that very same day is when I gave my wife a gift: a Nintendo New 2DS XL and the game Animal Crossing: New Leaf!

Is that a coincidence? Or is it providence? What games do you play with your significant other? Let me know what you think in the comments, or message me here!