A Simple Exercise

By way of warning, I will point out that by ‘simple’ I mean ‘uncomplicated.’ I do not mean ‘easy’

Gurdjieff was generally quite firm in his position that until we make serious progress in our inner work, we can’t really ‘do’ anything because we are unconscious and performing as machines running a program. He did relent a little, and agreed that there were a few simple exercises that a student could actually do in the way he defined the term.

The one I work on now is this: For the next 24 hours, do not let yourself express any negative emotion whatsoever.

Sounds simple, right? Try it and see how well you do. See if you can go an entire day without once thinking “Idiot!” in response to someone’s bad driving, or posting something to Facebook to tell everyone how stupid it is, or making a suitably snarky reply to such a post, or feeling irritated when a family member asks you to do something, and so on. You get the picture.

I’ve been working on a daily practice for quite a few years and I find this exercise almost impossible. It’s a harsh reminder just how much we think and live on autopilot. It’s also a great way to discover just how much of our thinking is negative without our realizing it. Doing an exercise like this forces us to face the reality that we constantly judge and criticize others without asking whether our viewpoint is justified by the facts. If we were really thinking and really seeing, we would realize that all our snap judgements are just ego sounding off.

And if your first response to my suggestion is instantly negative, well, you can try again tomorrow.

-= G =-

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Here’s Looking at You

We all know that our web browsing is closely watched by people who gather data about our browsing habits and choices. We accept this as part of internet reality. But do we know who is watching? How many snoops study us as we go about our business? As a rule, we don’t know. But I have recently found a tool that answers those questions. It’s a browser extension called Ghostery.

Once you have Ghostery installed, you see a popup window appear each time you navigate to a new page. The window shows a list of every tracker that is watching you on that page. The window closes after a few seconds, but an icon remains in the upper right corner of your browser window showing the number of trackers. Clicking the icon opens the window again. From this window, you can block any tracker by clicking a button next to the name. You can also pause blocking, or whitelist a site.

The most astonishing fact I’ve learned by using Ghostery is how many trackers are watching me and how much this varies from site to site. There are two tracking my blog page here: Gravatar and WordPress stats. On the other hand, every time I visit Tom’s Hardware, 25 trackers watch me. Weather.com is almost as bad with 19 trackers.

At the moment, Ghostery claims to have over 1,900 trackers in their database and I imagine that number will grow.

I haven’t blocked any trackers yet, but I probably will after reviewing the list and finding our more about each tracker. Even if I don’t end up blocking any trackers, I feel that I’ve gained a lot of ground just knowing exactly who is following me around.

-= G =-

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Revisiting Revisited

Jen has started up a new blog and, as usual, that has me thinking about my own blog. I haven’t written much of anything lately, and most of what I have written has been about the process of rebuilding old blogs after they got hacked. But I like to reconsider my position from time to time and that is what I am doing now.

One lingering question is how hard I’m going to work to salvage posts from the old blogs. Although all that material was deleted from my site, local backups do exist. I could restart the old blogs on a local machine at home and extract the posts for re-use.

That would be a fair amount of work and I have to ask if it’s justified. Recent events might, after all, have been a whack upside the head telling me it’s time to move on. Still, I put a lot of work into those posts and many of them are still relevant. I’ve also been thinking about trying out the latest versions of my favorite flavors of Linux, which I would need to do anyway to give the blogs a local server.

As of now, I do want to try and recover the old posts. We’ll see how far I get with that project, given all the other demands on my time and energy.

One thing I have done is to update the theme I use. After studying the latest offerings, I am now using Catch Evolution, which is the same theme Jen uses on her new blog. It gives much the same feel as the old theme, but is much more up to date and much better able to display correctly on mobile devices like phones and tablets.

The last consideration is to ask myself how I will keep myself organized and committed if I do decide to blog regularly. I’m going to test that by planning ahead. I’ve started a catch list to gather topic ideas, interesting quotes, etc. I will also use that list to create something of an outline to give a structure to a series of posts. If it works and I can get a series of posts lined up, then I’ll feel more confident about being able to keep it up.

We’ll see how that works out.

-= G =-

Posted in Semi-random Thoughts, Site Admin | Leave a comment

A Hack a Day Keeps Complacency Away

It hasn’t been very long that I had to rebuild one of my wife’s old blogs because it had been hacked. Well, it happened again. This one was less severe. I was able to find the offending code and delete it without too much fuss. But it reminds me that I need to stay on top of things. When I rebuilt the blog, I of course used the latest version of WordPress. When I checked today, there was a new version waiting and the patch notes mentioned security fixes. Who knows. If I had been checking and updating more often, I might have avoided this. Regardless, I need to make more of a point of checking the old blogs and keeping them up to date. Even an otherwise idle blog needs software updates.

-= G =-

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Could have been worse, I suppose

I’ve just been notified that Google Webmaster Tools has reviewed my site and confirmed that it’s now clean. The warnings will be removed shortly.

I admit that I had been concerned, because I know people who didn’t have such an easy time of it and struggled for days or even weeks to get acknowledged as clean again. But all went well in  my case. The review was done within a few hours of my request and it did confirm that the badware was gone.

-= G =-

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Starting Over, Again

I checked email this morning to find a flurry of warnings from Google Webmaster Tools that my site had been compromised. I checked the links provided and realized that someone had managed to infect an older blog that had been taken offline some time back. After reviewing the site and thinking about options, I decided that the simple answer was to archive anything worth saving, nuke the site, and start over fresh.

I needed to do this anyway. The site had gotten internally cluttered over the years with leftover parts of abandoned and obsolete projects. I really only needed one instance of WordPress at the root level. The rest was hazardous waste.

So I bulldozed the site and let the host install WordPress for me.

Over the next  few days / weeks / whatever, I’ll review the old material and see what gets re-posted. I know there were a few posts worth saving. Otherwise I am free to re-invent the blog and see what that contributes to re-inventing myself.

-= G =-

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