Among other things, my sainted mother took second place in a state poetry competition and was the salutatorian at her class’s commencement. She dreamed that my brother and I would follow in her footsteps by becoming writers, authors, etc. My brother was the only one to fulfill her dream while all I did was write computer code and invent programming languages. She never really understood what I did for a living but then again, neither did my wife.

A week ago, I published a short story that has apparently been well received and has left some readers begging for more. Suddenly, this idea for a fantasy novel that I’ve had for a number of years, is beginning to take on a life of its own. I’ve bought a block of ISBN’s and have been accepted into the author programme. The target release date is August 8th, 2014 – my 39th wedding anniversary and probably the day when my wife says that she’s had enough of playing second fiddle to a book. It may be released sooner or it may be released later; this is the first time that I’ve ever done anything like this.

The author programme includes my very own blog. That does not mean – by any stretch of the imagination – that I am abandoning The Parsons’ Rant. I will continue to use this blog for book reviews, techno-rants© and general whingeing. I will however blog the development of this novel from the first pixels on the screen on through to its release on, et al. If you want to keep up with things on the writing front – there’s not much out there at the moment – got to Howard’s Goodreads Blog  at The Goodreads blog will be added to the blogroll below and I’ll ditch a couple of non-starters at the same time.

Wish me luck.

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This is an announcement that has Dr. Data fairly excited. At least two guest bloggers will be joining me here on The Parsons’ Rant. Both of them are authors of Young Adult Fiction and they both have an upcoming release of a 2nd or 3rd book in their current series.

One of them is Brenda Pandos, author of both the Talisman and the Mer Tales series. The other is Adrianna Stepiano, author of the Memoir of a Mermaid series. There are one or two authors that I would like feature here on the rant but I will not release their names until I am sure that they are indeed willing to pay a visit.

The dates of their visits are yet to be determined but I hope to time them so they will coincide with the pre-release buzz for their books. Right now, I expect that they will be playing Twenty Questions with Dr. Data.

I’ll let you know more as the date draws near.

I will be blogging on the road today thru Sunday as I attend what is likely to be the last reunion of the 290th Combat Engineers in Albany, NY. This World War II Veterans group was founded – in part – by my late father and I can still remember the early planning and organisational meetings. These yearly gatherings have been taking place for over five decades and the ranks have thinned over time; alarmingly so in recent years.

So, before lights out, there will be this one last muster. My father traveled to the early reunions by train and it is only appropriate that I travel – in his place – to this one via Amtrak.

If your old soldier has faded away, why not consider doing something for the ones still in uniform. Become a Soldier’s Angel by visiting to learn more.

  1. If any of you have noticed, the title of this blog has changed slightly. It was “The Parsons’ Rant”. It is now “The Parsons Rant”. A minor change so how come? Posts on this blog are Tweeted, Facebook-ed, and LinkedIn and in many cases, the site name was appearing as “The Parsons' Rant”. That odd sequence of characters was WordPress’s way of representing an apostrophe ( ‘ ) since a naked character like that can mess up parsing by web applications. (There are plenty more characters that are represented in this way. You just don’t see them on the front end.) Even though Dr. Data knew what it was, it still looked butt-ugly on an e-mail or Tweet so he changed the name slightly to avoid that happening. Otherwise, it’s still the same old blog containing the same old drivel.
  2. The post was week about “That Topic” set a new record in visitors & page-views that continued into the week-end when I don’t usually post. (Dr. Data told you so!)

You might remember that I wrote two posts on the subject that dare not speak its name -Mantyhose – back on May 2nd. Well, here’s some follow-up.

Less than 30 min. after I clicked the “Publish” button on that post, it was viewed by someone in Hungary! That country – the Hungarian language to be precise – is number 5 on my top 10 list of visitors. The  Hungarian version of Google regularly trolls this site looking for posts on the subject of – you guessed it – Mantyhose. Maybe I should ask my brother-in-law if there’s that certain “something” about Hungary.

And it’s not just Hungarians doing the searches. The term “you-know-what” regularly comes up on the list of recent search terms and is usually at or near the top of my list of popular search terms. Is there something I’m missing? The original post and it’s follow-up were intended to be a simple observation on male fashion and that – sooner or later – everything old is new again. I can say that this topic does have a strong and overwhelmingly “straight” following on the internet.

So, here’s a bit of commentary to satisfy all of those surfers out there who will beat a path to this blog:

The two posts about Mantyhose are among the all time top favourites on the FML blogsite. It should be noted here that the blog was originally intended for the fairer sex but has gained what appears to be a strong male following since 2008.

The first paragraph for that post reads “The masculinity of UK males could be under threat . . .” Now, leaving out the UK bit, let’s consider that statement. I suppose that some less secure males could find their “masculinity” under threat because of this but no doubt similar statements were made in the press when females began wearing slacks in the 1930’s. About 30 years before that momentous event , visitors to Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft  shops in East Aurora, NY were horrified when his wife Alice – wearing a split skirt – climbed on a horse and went for a ride. The times they do change and anyone today who suggests that females are un-feminine because they wear trousers is begging to be laughed at. If the Mantyhose trend continues, critics of the practice will probably suffer the same fate in the coming years.

An interesting tidbit gleaned from the survey cited in the FML post is that 44% of  the females interviewed stated that their guys preferred tights made specifically for women rather than those intended for men. I wonder if any of  the other 56% are put off by the packaging. This would make an interesting marketing study.

Finally, the following statement was made in the comments section for that particular post:

“As [Lisa,] the owner of this blog, the sex of the individual wearing the legwear is not an issue for me. Impartial is a good word to describe my views, as long as the wearer looks stylish and the article fashion related, I personally couldn’t give a fig if they are male or female.”

My next question is:  “As a blogger, what do I do?” I started this blog to discuss computing technology on the consumer and user level as well as any other topic that struck my fancy. Another of the big spikes in readership are due to my posts on Macs. Maybe I should give in, buy a Macintosh and get a great pair of  L’eggs.

One of my clients is launching a new career and to support her range of interests and expertise, she is developing a series of websites using WordPress. Getting the message out there is the number one priority and for that, you need a search engine – in this case, Google – to crawl your site. My client needs to know this for not just one but x number of websites.

Google makes it easy for you.

  1. Go to
  2. Type in the words “cache:” (Or .net, .info, .me, etc.)
  3. Google will present you with a list of results and – hopefully – your most recently crawled posts will be  at the top of the list.

The Geeks Club provided this tip so I’ll quote them directly:

Google takes a snapshot of each page examined as it crawls the web and caches these as a back-up in case the original page is unavailable.

For example, I did this for and found 4 hits at the top of the list; The most recent ones being April 26, 2012. Before that, the date was April 12, 2012.

Have fun and impress your friends!

The empty box

Just a few things to mention here. If you are actually following this blog, you may – or may not – have noticed this box in the sidebar; Just above the box/widget listing Recent Posts. This box lists the top 5 most “liked” posts here on The Parsons’ Rant. You also may have noticed that – at the time of this writing – the box is empty. This is most likely due to one of three reasons:

  1. This feature is a relatively new one on this blog site
  2. No one knows how to “like” my posts
  3. No one likes any of my posts

The "like" button

I am going to assume that it’s most likely # 2 and show you how to “like” my posts if you are so disposed. Way down at the end of each post, there is a heart-shaped button above my signature that allows you to indicate – anonymously – that this particular post has found favour with you. (See the picture at left.) This is not an ego thing and you don’t have to “like” anything if you don’t want to but this is a way of giving me feedback on the subject matter and whether I’m talking about the right things. Maybe the next time you stop by, the box won’t be quite as empty.

Finally, I have noticed an issue with my photo galleries. I realise that they are not the greatest bits of photography but they have stopped loading on to the page. The text comes up and the little wheel beneath turns and turns but nothing ever happens.  (See the image below) I do not know if this has been going on a while or is a recent development. I would say that it’s due to internet traffic but other pages and posts with static images seem to load their photos just fine. Maybe it’s due to a collision between 2 or more plugins. Maybe the most recent update to the gallery plug-in is at fault. Rest assured that I will sort this problem out and you will be able to see my mediocre photography again in short order.  Problem Sorted! Thanks to Dalton at! This outfit makes the Portfolio Slideshow Pro plugin that powers our galleries.

The photo gallery itself never completely loads

If you’re like most internet users, you regularly sign up for a site or service that requires a password and the passwords for everything gets to be a pain in the rear. I’m currently working with a client who has a good number of WordPress sites. Recently, this person’s sites were all compromised and a bogus Administrator account was set up for each one which used the same name. The client wondered how all this happened and if she was the victim of some personal attack.

Usually, these incursions are NOT because your name is “Bob”, because you’re a Freemason or anything like that. Most likely it is because your site(s) has been  hammered by repeated attempts to gain access from Viet Nam, China, the Ukraine, Holland & probably a lot more places. The hacker – or hackette – doesn’t  care whom the site belongs to – just that it’s a WordPress site. They employ web-crawling software robots that look for WordPress sites and when one is found, they immediately try to break in by using the default user name – “admin” and various combinations of characters as a password. Since it’s a robot doing the dirty work, it doesn’t matter how many times they try to gain entry. Sooner or later, the robot will either find the right combination of characters or give up because it has reached some specified limit of attempts set by the hacker.

If it does get it, the robot will make a note of the user name/password combination for that site and then set up a bogus account with administrator privileges and a second robot will use that account to spike your site with malware, links to scare-ware sites, etc. If you have more than one WordPress site, the robot will use the combination as a starting point for your 2nd site, etc.

The lessons to be learned from this are:

  • DO NOT use the default user name for WordPress – or whatever – on a permanent basis. Use it just long enough to create a less than obvious user name for  the Administrator account.
  • DO NOT create a password that is a repetition of the user name or any variation of it such as “spotnap” for “pantops”, substituting upper case letters for lowercase ones & vice versa, etc.
  • DO create a password that is a combination of upper & lower case letters, numbers and special characters such as “!$%(), etc.
OK, so you don’t have a blog site. These same principles apply to user names and passwords for everything from to and you should try to use as many different combinations as possible. So how do you remember all of the different passwords? I used to work for a company that required its employees to change their password every 60 days. All you had to do was to cruise by someone’s cubicle after hours and you were likely to find a Post-it™ note with the latest iteration of their password scribbled on it. Instead, use a password-keeper to store all of your passwords. I have used one called “Password Safe” since the mid-90’s and it’s free at Besides Windows, there are versions –  some times with a different name – for Linux, iOS, Android and OS X. Of course, there are a bunch of similar products out there and a good many of them are free. Just remember to use it!

Therefore, DO NOT have a bunch of sites using “admin” & the same password over & over again. Don’t use “admin” at all! Have a different administrator name and password combination for each site.  The password should be a combination of Upper & Lower case letters, numbers and special characters.

The Parsons’ Rant pulled in around 500 hits yesterday. This was the biggest day yet. There were only three posts yesterday and I’m trying to decide if it was:

  1. The insightful reporting of the three  versions (four if you count Enterprise) of Windows 8
  2. The intrepid journalism of the final installment to the Linux series
  3. Henri – The French Cat

For some reason, I think that it was #3.


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