The AP shows the way for an NFT marketplace

An NFT marketplace with a difference? Well, an offering from the Associated Press certainly is different in the content – the NFTs – it’s making available to casual collectors and market makers alike.

Launching on January 31, the AP NFT Marketplace will offer unique NFTs, including Pulitzer Prize-winning photos, from some of the most important moments in history and scenes from around the world, as captured through the lens of AP’s world-class photographers.

One such Pulitzer-winning photo might be the one above, the flag-raising at Iwo Jima in the Second World War – one of the most iconic photos of the 20th century. I assume the NFT of it on offer won’t have the AP’s copyright watermarks that you see.

Each NFT will include a rich set of original metadata offering collectors awareness of the time, date, location, equipment and technical settings used for the shot.

What I like about the information AP has disclosed so far, limited thought it is, is the focus on benefits for users, not just what’s in it for creators. The AP’s announcement a few days ago speaks of what the marketplace will enable collectors to do as well as supporting secondary marekts with payments by credits card and crypto wallets.

This move by the AP has the potential to show the way for other organizations and how they can participate in a tech-driven system that has exploded in development during 2021, attracting praise and criticism in equal measure. Try and see through the huge general hype about NFTs and consider the real possibilties for such a marketplace.

You can sign up for updates and learn more about the AP NFT Marketplace.

Shel and I discussed the AP’s move in the latest short-form episode of the For Immediate Release podcast on January 13. You can listen right here.

Resolving RSS feed problems needs perseverance

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on an updated look and feel for my website that hosts my primary blog. It’s not had such TLC since I refreshed it in 2017 with a new (and still current but tweaked) WordPress theme.

I’m using a combination of Elementor Pro and CSS Hero to do the visual work. Both are great tools that offer a literal drag-and-drop experience to WordPress site layout and presentation that lets me get things done fast without diving in to code.

Of course, there are times when you need to look at code, even edit it, especially if something doesn’t work or behaves weirdly (happens with plugins mostly).

And then there’s the RSS feed.

I wanted to bring in the three most recent posts from my podcast blog. Note this was for posts, not the MP3 audio files. But I had the devil’s job figuring out why the RSS feed from the podcast blog would either show nothing in the RSS widget I’d set up for it on the primary blog’s new home page except an error, or actual content.

The content state seemed to be random. Sometimes there was content, other times not. When there was no content, the widget displayed this error text: “RSS Error: A feed could not be found at [location]; the status code is 200 and content-type is text/html”.

Running the feed through various feed validators got a pass, all saying the RSS validated correctly, although most did display quite a few warnings. The feed validated but the display errors on the blog persisted.

After trying four or five different RSS widgets, I abandoned this approach and instead just showed a podcast badge with a concise description and a link to the website. That’s where things ended up.

But I was curious. Why was this happening? Then I ran the feed one more time through the W3C validator – and it did not validate! Instead I got the lines of errors that you see in the screenshot on this page.

Some online research suggested that a plugin was most likely the culprit.

The most popular troubleshooting path to follow would be deactivating all plugins on my own site, not the podcast blog, and then reactivating them one by one until the error stopped. That would indicate which plugin I had installed was the problem.

While I was pondering this, I’d set up another widget to bring in posts from this blog, you one you’re reading, via its RSS feed.

I got errors with that one too!

I realised that I must address this and therefore try the step by step approach with the plugins.

A fleeting thought occurred to me – what if the theme is the issue? Each one on both blogs that deliver the content I’m looking for via their RSS feeds? That question had popped up in one or two answers to my earlier online research. It would be a lot simpler to change themes than deactivate plugins one by one (and I have over 40 plugins installed and active on my main site). With this blog, the one you’re reading, I’ve had a few issues in the past with the theme and so I decided to first try switching to a default theme here and see what happened.

This is the easiest approach as I’ve done no customised work here at all, mainly because this blog runs on hosted WordPress.com whereas my main site is self-hosted WordPress.org with signficant customisation and plugins. Changing the theme there is not a task to lightly undertake.

So I changed the theme here – and had no RSS errors at all. The widget on my main blog correctly displayed the content from this blog via RSS as it was configured to do.

Outbox Asides

Clearly there was something in the original theme I was using here that caused the RSS error in the display on my other site, the destination, where the widget was installed. Since changing the theme here, I’ve had no errors at all with the RSS feed in the widget on my other site. I’ve not learned exactly what the error was and exactly what fixed it. At the moment, I don’t really care – everything is working properly!

Projected thinking now – could the theme on my podcast blog be the source of the issue that caused the still-unresolved errors on the destination, ie, my other site? That might be worth testing.

One conclusion I draw from this – even if over 95% of the results you get from researching an issue recommend a clear course of action, listen to your gut feeling if you believe there might be another option to consider first.

Get a test kit for Covid self-testing

Getting tested to see if you have the Omicron variant of Covid-19 or not is fast becoming an important part of daily life. At a time when infection rates are soaring – there were over 218,000 people reported newly infected in the UK yesterday Jan 4 – the means to see if you’re infected or at risk is increasingly important.

A big issue, though, is being able to do this yourself with a home testing kit, usually referred to here as a “lateral flow test kit” (more formally, these kits are called SARS-Cov-2 Antigen Rapid Self-Test Kits) designed for use by anyone at home. These are available free of charge for home delivery via the government website – if there are stocks available.

That’s been a problem for the past few weeks as supplies have been very thin indeed at a time when demand has soared.

Now, though, the supply-meeting-demand picture is looking better. I ordered a test kit containing seven tests on Christmas Day and the package arrived only yesterday. I’d put in another order on New Year’s Day so that one might show up soon.

If you urgently need test kits, you’ll have to consider other avenues such as obtaining them directly from pharmacies, and including buying them from suppliers. As in any market economy, there appear to be plenty of supplies if you’re willing and able to pay.

Negative result!

Given that there’s a high expectation that we will have to live with Covid for a long time, we need to see far more effective and equitable means of supply and distribution to enable access for everyone.

Like a comet

I noticed that I last posted in this blog in April 2020. That’s not far off two years ago. So why am I back here again now?

I decided to restart it. Not as a busy blog with new content all the time, nor focused on Covid-19 and the pandemic (that’s still with us) but more as a place for asides. I’m refreshing my primary blog which is a work in progress. I’m not under any deadline or pressure and so it will evolve in the coming months of 2022. It starts now with a new home page.

I’ll be back.

Zoom burnout is real

“Zoom gives me crazy anxiety and the same social pressure I would feel being invited to a party,” says Dani, a marketing manager based in Cleveland, who requested that only her first name be used to protect her workplace privacy. “I have to do Zoom calls all day for work. I cannot socialize that way right now.”

OneZero: https://onezero.medium.com/zoom-burnout-is-real-27e6938d0e1f

Some good advice and tips in this assessment. Three:

  1. Schedule yourself non-negotiable “Zoom time” to ensure you’re not getting wrangled into video calls you don’t have the energy for. Blocking out a couple of hours a week — say, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays — can help keep your calendar from getting overloaded, and can also provide you with a good out if you’re not in the mood. “I’d love to chat, but to avoid excess screen time, I’ve been limiting my video call time to a few hours a week. Are you around on Tuesday evening?”
  2. The best comparison might be to seniors living in nursing homes, who tragically are often hungry for social connection, and have too little contact with the outside world. A small 2020 study in the medical journal BMC Geriatrics found that nursing home residents experienced less loneliness, more vitality, and even less sensitivity to pain after connecting with family members once a week for six months via video call.
  3. Research shows that seeing someone’s face has more of an impact on your sense of isolation than just hearing their voice. So if you can push yourself to participate in a Zoom call every once in a while, you should. Give this new type of communication a chance, especially if you’re feeling isolated or lonely.

Opportunity zooms

At a time when massive chunks of the economy are getting crushed, it’s obviously preferable to see your brand enjoying new awareness and engagement. But nobody wants to come across as a “crisis capitalizer,” swooping into a global tragedy with self-interest in mind. And this brings us back to Zoom and how it serves as a useful example of the tricky business of navigating a pandemic branding event.

Marker: https://marker.medium.com/when-a-pandemic-becomes-a-companys-ultimate-branding-opportunity-85894616364b#384c

(Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash)

First order

In the Ottoman Empire coffee was banned by several sultans: the authorities realised that when people had had enough coffee they dared to challenge the existing order

1843 magazine: https://www.1843magazine.com/design/my-life-in-six-objects/elif-shafak-the-coffee-cup-that-reminds-me-of-istanbul

Electric cars are coming, but where will you charge?

Lack of charging infrastructure is the number one barrier to people in terms of buying electric vehicles (EVs) at the moment. That’s become the top concern, having overtaken price and range, according to Deloitte’s market research.

BBC News – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51678830

The current reality of EVs – especially acute if you live rurally rather than in an urban area.

Responses to Coronavirus

Bill Gates

“When we look at how #Coronavirus (#COVID19) is disrupting supply chains, stock markets, and people’s lives, investing a couple of billion dollars to prevent such outbreak will be a bargain” – Bill Gates

https://mspoweruser.com/how-to-respond-to-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/

#GenevaMotorShow canceled after #coronavirus causes government to ban large events

https://www.theverge.com/2020/2/28/21156368/geneva-motor-show-2020-canceled-coronavirus-concerns

#Coronavirus Fears Are Causing Tech Giants To Cancel #Conferences, Curb Travel, And Take Hits To Supply Chains

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/alexkantrowitz/coronavirus-fears-cause-tech-giants-to-cancel-conferences

Satellite images have shown a dramatic decline in pollution levels over China, which is “at least partly” due to an economic slowdown prompted by the coronavirus, NASA says

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-51691967

Don’t be flip with the Flip

A point to note if you have a new Galaxy Z Flip:

Foldable phones like the Galaxy Z Flip and the Motorola Razr can’t afford much negative feedback if they ever want to go mainstream. Elsewhere around the web, most Galaxy Z Flip owners are seemingly enjoying the clamshell-style foldable phone Samsung invested heavily in to create.

https://uk.pcmag.com/smartphones/124907/dont-worry-about-this-busted-galaxy-z-flip

If you had a flip phone back in the days of feature phones – so we’re talking from the late 90s to the mid 00s – you’ll recall opening and closing it it was a firm act with a twist of the wrist.

That’s how I remember it and that memory is back with me again with my Nokia 2720 Flip (aka my ‘mild detox’ phone). That has a nice firm clunk feel to it when flipping it closed.

Just don’t do that with your Samsung flip phone.

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