WordPress Verification

After blogging for several months, I’ve decided to analyze my blog and make an audit of it.

In total, I’ve published 11 posts on my blog. Eight of them were school based and set by the blogging challenge, and the remaining three were free posts. I find it difficult most of the time to find an appropriate topic to write about, so I enjoyed writing the school-based posts.

Although most of my comments were from my classmates, I did get a few comments from other students who were also part of the student blogging challenge. It was cool to have people that I didn’t know comment on my posts and share their thoughts, and in a way, it connected us.

I may not have gotten a ton of legitimate comments, but I did get, like, a billion spam comments. In total, my site has been protected from 4,416 spam comments. Every time I log into my WordPress, I have to delete between 10-200 spam comments from my spam queue. This got pretty annoying and I eventually had to change some settings to help prevent spam, but it hasn’t made much of a difference.

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The post I got the most comments on was “Syria: What it Was and What it Became.” I think it’s because it was about a pressing issue that was currently going on, and because a lot of people didn’t know about the situation in Syria and were surprised after they read my post.

The post I enjoyed ‘writing’ the most from the Student Blogging Challenge was “A Sentence Using Images” because it was a creative challenge and it was fun to formulate a sentence from pictures and have people guess it. From the free posts I did on my own, I enjoyed writing “The Phenomena of Dreams“. It was fun and interesting to research about dreams, and most of the information I had in my post were facts that I did not know prior to writing the post, so I educated myself by writing it.

I switched from the default theme to “Plane”, and I customized the colors and the formatting. I like this theme because the header image isn’t that large, and I feel like it would distract the reader if it was. I also liked the color and background options and was able to customize the site till I was satisfied.

To personalize my blog, I added six widgets on my sidebar–recent posts, tags, categories, blog statistics, flag counter, and a blog roll. I put the tags, categories, and recent posts widgets to make it easier for my readers to navigate their way through my blog and find my posts. The blogroll is a way to connect with other bloggers and give them sort of a shout-out. And finally, the flag counter and the blog stats are just a way for my visitors to see how many other people visit my blog and where they come from.

I think that having six widgets is just right: not too many and not too little. The widgets I picked don’t take up a lot of space, and I don’t think they distract the reader or take away from the posts. But then again, that’s just my opinion, so if you think otherwise, let me know.

On my blog roll, I only have one overseas student, and that would be Alina. We’ve exchanged a couple of comments, and she was the first overseas student to connect with me so I decided to add her blog onto to my blogroll.

Finally, I’ve only used simple web tools like images, videos, and block quotes, all of which were introduced to us by our teacher. The only web tool that I ‘discovered’ and used on my own was a slideshow, but that’s not that creative. I may need to explore WordPress and look for creative web tools to use in my future posts, but for now, I’ll stick to the basic ones.

 

 

Week 8: Commenting Game

For this week’s blogging challenge, I visited three other blogs and commented on a post that I found interesting.

First, I went to Thunami’s blog. She wrote about her favorite place to visit, which happens to be ‘Horton’s Plains’ in Sri Lanka. She gave a detailed description of the scenery, making it easy to imagine what it would be like to be there. I, for one, love to travel since I get to see new places, and therefore be exposed to new cultures, languages, and people. Although reading about someone’s experience is not the same as experiencing it yourself, I still found her post captivating. It was really interesting to hear about a new place in a new country that I’ve never been to or really heard much about. She also talked about a place in Horton’s Plains, the World’s End, and just reading about it made me wish I can go there. Heights are somewhat scary, but, at the same time, thrilling (to me at least) and so it just made the post appeal to me even more.

“Horton’s Plains sounds like a really cool place. I would really like to visit ‘World’s End’. I have to say, when I searched up pictures of it, I was surprised by what I saw. The view was breathtaking, especially since it’s so high up. You must be really brave if you were able to visit World’s End!”

Next, I went to Chelsea’s blog and commented on her book review of ‘Gathering Blue’ by Lois Lowry. I spend a lot of time in my daily life reading, even if I have a billion things to do and no time. So naturally, a book review drew me in and I left a comment to share my thoughts. I’ve never read Gathering Blue before, but I am familiar with Lois Lowry. I’ve read one of his other books, The Giver, and when I found out the book Chelsea was writing about was by Lowry, I decided to check it out. I also liked how she compared the novel with another book from the same author; it offered a new perspective.

“Hey Chelsea!
This was an insightful book review. I, for one, really enjoy reading, and this post made me want to read ‘Gathering Blue’. I’ve only read one book by Lois Lowry, ‘The Giver’, and I found it pretty interesting since it was set in a utopia. Did you read ‘The Giver’? What do you think of Lowry’s writing style?”

Lastly, I stopped at Mohamed’s blog, where he wrote about terrorism and the situation in the Middle East. This post was of importance to me for many reasons. First of all, I’m a Muslim and an Arab, so a lot of what he said applied to me. I’m also a Syrian and I appreciated how he talked about the turmoil in Syria and raised awareness. I had previously written my own post on the Arab spring and the war in Syria, so it was interesting to see someone else write on the same topic as me.

“I found this post particularly interesting since I am a Muslim Syrian living in the West. I appreciate that you’re spreading awareness about the situation in the Middle East, especially in Syria. It’s sad how a government like Assad’s is willing to massacre its own people just to hold on to power. Hopefully things get better for those who are suffering in the Middle East, as well as all Muslims worldwide.”

Your Online Trail

Googling yourself can either be a nightmare or a relief. When you search up your name on a search engine- or worse, when others search it up- everything that is attached to your name shows up. Whether it’s a picture you posted five years ago and completely forgot about, or it’s social media accounts that you made then abandoned, everything that you do online can be found by others.

Public Domain from Pixabay

It’s called a digital footprint. In short, your digital footprint is a trace that you leave behind on the internet. When you post a picture, leave a comment, visit a website or text others (basically, anything that you do online), you leave ‘footprints’ behind that can be seen by others.

If you are unaware and careless of what you do online, it will eventually harm you. A picture you posted that you thought was harmless could be the reason your job application is denied three years later. An offensive comment that you left on someone’s post can cause you trouble later on. Publicly announcing that you’re going on vacation could lead to your house being robbed. Which is why we must be very careful about our online privacy.

A simple way to avoid having a negative footprint is to not overshare. Posting your age, your pet’s name, where you live, your interests, where you’re heading for the summer, or where you ate last night is irrelevant to others and can be avoided.

Fortunately for me, when I googled my name everything that came up I was aware of and there wasn’t anything that shocked me. It was mostly my social media accounts and a website or two that I had activity on. I make sure that all my social media accounts are private, and I try not to post too many pictures. Afterall, I wouldn’t want strangers knowing everything about me.

If you’re wondering what traces you’re leaving behind on the internet, you can try searching up your name on google and hope that what shows up doesn’t make you cringe. Unfortunately, everything that you do on the internet is permanent, so deleting a comment or a picture won’t completely destroy it. However, you can try making your digital footprint more positive by watching what you’re sharing online. Before you post something, think: will it affect me in the future? Would I mind if my teachers saw it? Am I going to be embarrassed about it later? If it’s a yes to any of these questions, then you’re better off not sharing that information.

 

Syria: What it Was & What it Became

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Six years since the conflict in Syria started, close to 500,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting, more than a million injured, and over 12 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes- out of a prewar population of 23 million.

How it All Started:

On March 15th, 2011, the year when the Arab Spring progressed, peaceful protests broke out in a couple of Syria’s cities. The citizens were protesting after 15 boys were arrested and tortured for writing graffiti supporting the Arab Spring. One of the boys, 13- year old Hamza Al-Khateeb, died after brutal torture.

Although the protests were peaceful, the Syrian government, led by dictator Bashar Al Assad, responded with violence. Hundreds of protesters were killed, many more imprisoned. More protests broke out, with the same response from the government. The Free Syrian Army, a group of fighters who had one purpose- to overthrow the government and give the people a chance at democracy, formed soon after.

Citizens continued to protest for they were unhappy with the dictator, and the government, wanting to silence its citizens, continued to respond with violence. However, the people weren’t about to give up.

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At first, the government punished its citizens for speaking out with tear gas and bullets; soon after, they turned to missiles and bombed civilian homes, schools, and hospitals.  According to Physicians for Human Rights, nearly 400 attacks on 269 different hospitals have been documented since the war in Syria began, 90% of them by the government and its allies.

But that wasn’t enough to satisfy the government; chlorine attacks and even chemical attacks soon became a common occurrence for people living in Syria.

“You have to get used to the sound of cannons and bombs. You have to hear the planes and bombs, and yet you have to continue. People go out even if there is a plane above. If you care, you will never go out of your home.”- Rami Zien, a 23-year-old freelance photographer in Syria.

**Warning: watch at your own risk**

Impacts of the War:

Six years later, and Syria is a completely different place. The war between the citizens and the government is still ongoing, with no end in sight. Pretty much all of Syria’s cities now consist of ruined homes, schools, and buildings. Those still living in Syria are barely surviving with next to no electricity, food, or safety.

Most children in Syria haven’t gone to school since the beginning of the war since going anywhere is too risky. Many parts of Syria, including Eastern Aleppo, are under siege, making life even harder.

“People were being isolated, starved, bombed and denied medical attention and humanitarian assistance in order to force them to submit or flee.”- Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Stephen O’Brien.

A city that has it especially bad is Aleppo; what many people remember as a beautiful busy city, is now almost completely wiped out.

What can you do? Educate yourself. Speak out. Raise awareness. Support Syrian refugees if you know any. For those on the verge of death in Syria, any type of help is appreciated.

Athena: the Goddess of War, Wisdom, and Crafts

From all the Greek gods and goddesses in Greek mythology, Athena happens to be my favorite.

Public Domain from Pixabay

She is often described as slim, tall, and beautiful with green eyes and brownish hair. She is always pictured either wearing full armor, or just a helmet.

Characteristics and Attributes:

Athena was the goddess of wisdom, war, and crafts. As a goddess of war, she relied on strategy and morality during the war, rather than bloodshed. She helped many heroes who fought in wars with her protection and advice. As a goddess of wisdom, she stressed diplomacy, justice, education, arts, and crafts. Because she was wise, many gods turned to her when they had issues among them, and she helped solve and end conflicts between them. She was also an expert in art, like weaving and spinning.

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Symbols:

Every Greek God or Goddess has at least one object that they are always connected with- a symbol. In Athena’s case, her main two symbols are the owl and the olive tree. The owl represents her wisdom, which she was known for, while the olive tree, which was actually one of her creations and very sacred to her, represented peace. Other symbols that are sometimes connected back to Athena are the aegis- her shield- which represents her protective power, and her armor, which represents wisdom and strategy.

 

Strengths and Weaknesses:

Like everyone else, Athena had her strengths and weaknesses- although her strengths outweigh the weaknesses. Her main strength is that she was rational and intelligent, and always thought everything through and made wise decisions. Another strength of hers is that she is a powerful defender but at the same time a potent peacemaker who hated war and only fought when it was necessary. Her main weakness- she was too ruled by intellect and lacked compassion, therefore being out of touch with emotions.

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Interesting Myth:

A myth I found that intrigued me, and had to do with Athena, was the story about the fight over Athens. As some of you may know, Athens, the capital of Greece, was named after Athena. Both her and Poseidon, the God of the Sea, competed to be the patron god of Athens. To win over the Athenians, both presented them with gifts. Poseidon, being the God of the Sea, struck his trident on the ground and created a spring of water, which represented the great naval power he would bring to Athens. Athena, on the other hand, being the peaceful one, created an olive tree, which represented peace and unity. Eventually, the Athenians chose Athena as their patron goddess and named the city after her.

Who’s your favorite Greek god or goddess? Have you heard any interesting myths you’d like to share?

Connected, but Alone?

We all depend on technology to get us through the day- it’s true. What we may not realize, however, is that we are becoming more disconnected from the real world when we spend most of our time on our devices. Just because you are always on social media, seeing what others are up to, doesn’t mean you are truly connected with them.

Recently in technology class, we watched a TedTalk by Sherry Turkle that talked about how we are becoming more and more reliant on technology, and less connected with others around us. While I was watching, I realized that I agreed with most of what Sherry said.

For one, I tend to check my phone a lot throughout the day. Whether it’s because I have notifications from social media sites, texts from friends, or I’m just bored, I find myself constantly reaching for my phone. Sometimes even spending almost an hour using it.

And it’s not just me. It has happened many times where I’m sitting with friends, wanting to talk and socialize, only to find everybody else on their phones and I feel like I’m sitting alone. Just like Eeman said in her post, The World of Technology, many people feel as though their phone is their best friends, and they absolutely cannot live without it.

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Sherry also talked about how most people prefer to text rather than talk to others in person. Sure, texting may be quicker and more efficient than talking face- to- face, but that doesn’t mean it should be our main way of communicating.

Over and over I hear, “I would rather text than talk.” ~Sherry Turkle

I’m glad to say that I am not one of those people who would rather text. I find it much more entertaining and real when I talk to my friends face- to- face, compared to when we text. When talking online, we have the ability to present a specific side of ourselves to others, the ‘better’ side, and we can be completely different people. That’s why I feel the conversations I have online are almost fake or robotic since they lack emotion.

So what do you do? Next time you’re sitting with a group of people, put your phone aside. Try to socialize. Have real conversationsIf you still find yourself reaching for your phone to check for notifications, turn it off. Do whatever it takes to actually, truly connect.

This applies to me, too. Lately, my friends and I have been making an effort to not let our devices distract us from each other. Whenever we get together to hang out, our phones lay forgotten, taking pictures being the only reason we might need to use our devices for.