25 May, 2018 it's GDPR Day

Isn't it amazing how many newsletters we have received these days? Some apparently were just sent out to be sent out before May 25 because after May 25 it would have been illegal as it would be breaking the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), that comes into effect in Europe today on May 25, 2018 and could end up with very high fines...  

I was surprised myself how many companies still have my email address and name stored! And how dilettantish most of the mails were. In some cases I had to actively send them an email to ask to unsubscribe from a newsletter or to delete my data. From what I have researched in the net, and thanks to Mailchimp's support (my newsletter service provider), it is the other way round. Someone has to actively opt in to receive your newsletter, even though they have subscribed themselves earlier. If someone does not reply to your new request, although she or he has subscribed to your newsletter before, you should not continue sending her or him anything by law from tomorrow onwards. Maintaining silence is not accepted as consent.  

That's why I sent to all my 'subscribers' - yes, I admit, in the past I have added each inquirers' and guests' email address I could get to my mailing list (with and without explicit consent) - an "We would love to stay in touch with you" email yesterday, which said: 

We would love to stay in touch with you! And we hope you like that too.  Don’t let us get separated by the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), that comes into effect May 25, 2018 in Europe. To help us comply with GDPR consent requirements, we need your confirmation that you like to continue receiving content - newsletters with special offers and travel info for Calabria, Italy - from us
— from our almost illegal newsletter
Don't let us get separated by a new privacy regulation

Don't let us get separated by a new privacy regulation

Yes, it is true: I hope that you like to stay in touch with us! And that "If YES, we need your explicit OK!"

There was a super big green button for those opting in. - But I am fair and added also a big red button to opt out and say CIAO!

Our door is always open for you and when you change your mind and want to sign up again to receive emails from us, you will find a link. See below at the very buttom or on the right blog roll, or just click here :-) 

Also, we even now have a privacy policy on our website! Here you can read what kind of data we are collecting from you (or rather not) and what we are doing with them (or rather not). And this, I did today. I am quite proud of myself how Palazzo Pizzo now complies with GDPR totally (I hope) and on time!

I have to thank all the handymen and workers in my house who made it impossible to leave the house the last two days... haha, without them I wouldn't have made it and still hyperact dilettantishly today on May 25, 2018.

And if there are any complaints (or suggestions) regarding GDPR or your processed private data please contact me or comment below. And if you do not like your comment in the future, let us know, we are happy to delete it as I have deleted manually all unsubscribed email addresses from the unsubscriber list on Mailchimp.

Especially, I would like to thank all the very friendly subscribers who took their time to re-subscribe again! We are looking forward writing to you again soon!

Many thanks! Vielen Dank! Mille Grazie! We love to stay in touch !

Ciao! Palazzo Pizzo has a new home!

Our first postcard for our guests in pizzo! 

Our first postcard for our guests in pizzo! 

Dear Readers,

I am exited to write my very first post for my old blog on a new website!

I have moved my blog (after over 8 years!) from Blogger to Squarespace - which allows me not only to continue blogging but also to present other subjects like travel info and our guest residence in a more neat look with better navigation.

The blog RSS feed has not changed. So if you have subscribed already, you should get this post in your email box, I hope. Otherwise stop by sometimes. Like us on Facebook, instagram, pinterest or sign up for a newsletter. I plan just 2 newsletters per year to keep our guest and future visitors up to date with our new project. I haven't been blogging much about it (too many headaches) but it's coming along!

Thank you dear readers, for staying connected with the blog and me over the years, even though I am on the real slow blogging side ;-)

In a few days, I will be in Pizzo - and try out the blogging on the go mobile app. Finally some action on the blog! 

A presto, saluti



Why Blogger is better for bloggers than Wordpress or Squarespace

Once every now and then I try to re-design my blog. And it's about time to have a real website that integrates this blog. Therefore, I did some massive research on the Internet, to find out the advantages and disadvantages between Bloger vs Wordpress vs Squarespace vs Wix vs Weebly and others ... 

The internet offers fantastic information on many tech blogs and youtube - but you need to be careful: Most comparisons between Blogger and Wordpress, or Wordpress and Squarespace are written by great IT experts who often happen to be affiliates of one of these sites - and then it can get biased. Or they claim everything is so complicated because they want to sell their own web development / web design skills.

What you cannot do, is to compare Blogger with Wordpress.org - because it is like comparing apples with oranges! You need to compare Blogger's free service with Wordpress's free-ish service at Wordpress.com (dot com). And then Wordpress(.com) looses and Blogger wins! At least that's what bloggers like me say, with blogs powered by Blogger for many years (me, now almost 8 years), and who know how to easily personalise your blog here at Blogger or BlogSpot, not even much HTML coding is required (but it is allowed).

To learn more about the blogging platform and features of Blogger vs Wordpress, and to be able to make a decision, you should read the most unbiased article I found on the internet by Make Use Of. I totally recommend to read Tim Brookes' post and also to read through the comments as he answeres all the questions of his readers and that might answer your questions too.

My short (2 days) experience with Wordpress allows me to say that freedom feels different. I couldn't believe that they shot down my new page (in the making, not even having content yet!). Although, another 2 days later they appologised for the mistake, and I am free to continue (and was asked to delete my cookies as they detected spam). But does that make me feel confident?

Wordpress(.com) can also shot your blog down when they detect any paid or affiliate links. BUT they are free to place any advertising into your posts! Don't like that? You can pay for an ad-free page. Want some small changes in your design? Pay some bugs extra! Videos? Only if you pay 60 USD per year! A favicon (small logo in the URL)? Costs extra! And pointing your own domain to yourname.wordpress.com page is possible, but you need to pay 13 USD per year (not including the registration)... Calculate, it adds up! That's why I say WordPress is "free-ish", as it is not really free.

In seven years with Blogger I had no single technical issue, and unlimited space for media, including videos, my own favicon and no charge for pointing my personalised domain name to my blog. So why I would think of changing after all?

Well, I wasn't a very active blogger (I never made the three posts per week rule). But although I blog less and less (our mission, the renovation and main content of this blog, is accomplished), I want to keep my little writing playround. And now, our beautiful guest residence requires some internet presence as well. - Before starting all over with a new website, I thought, it would be nice to have a professionally looking welcome page, a static landing page, instead of landing on the latest blog post.

My blog needs a static landingpage! 

I tried to tweak Blogger a bit in order to have a static landing page (and another page called "Blog" would feature the blog posts). I followed these intructions to create a static home page.  It is really simple and worked. The problem that I saw however, was a longer loading time. The redirecting worked fine on the PC and on the tablet, but did not work for the smart phone. The error message was about server cannot be loaded due to too many redirection. Also it did not look that great as your landing page shouldn't have a blogroll. With blogger however you cannot change the template design for single pages. There is one frame for all. And a blog needs a blogroll. Otherwise what is the point of blogging if you cannot engage your readers? 

On the internet there are many rumours that Google would close its blogging platform Blogger one day, as sudden as they closed Google Reader. It would be a pitty as Blogger is really easy to handle and you can make your blog look good with the "simple template" and then play around with the template in the advanced modus, or tweaking around with HTML and CSS - and it is all free! You are not even forced to use Google Adsense.

And then there is Squarespace. They are very, very good in martketing their platform! It seems like a hype (maybe their affiliate program is so attractive). They are already around since 10 years with 1,8 million websites/blogs. - They have a different approach. You need to pay a monthly fee. For that you get access to the web building software with top stylish templates and all seems easy to handle. And you have access to a 24/7 custmer support which is great in the beginning. They seem super nice and let you import your blog from Blogger (and others) and export your website to Wordpress, in case you want to terminate the hosting plan ... sounds fair enough.

Squarespace let you try out their templates 14 days for free and then you need to decide if you want to publish with them. I liked it. Their templates are clean and 'pretty'. Great for photographers and artist who want to show their work in galleries. Or for restaurant owners (there is a plug-in for a menue). BUT the features for a blog are very limited! As a blogger I would not choose this solution. I deem Squarespace is mainly for small businesses that do just a little bit of blogging on the side. There is no Html-CSS-fiddling-DIY-tweaking allowed.

Of coures there are many other platforms beside Blogger, Wordpress and Squarespace. A good overview and comparison can be visited here by the Website Builders. I checked Weebly and Wix as well, but they don't have the same good looking templates / themes as Wordpress or Squarespace, and furthermore they also cost some money for ads-free pages, favicon and domain pointing.

In the meantime, I returned to my blog powered by Blogger and have to say, it still looks okay. (I have now moved the blogroll(s) to the bottom of the layout). All these modern stylish minimalistic pages are maybe not even suitable for my love of the simple life in Southern Italy. And blogger is totally free - so best value!

For now, I will continue with Blogger. And one day I might either have a peaceful deal with Squarespace or my self-hosted website with Wordpress.org (dot org and NOT dot com).

About changing a blog into a website ...

UPDATE 05/05/14 :  www.palazzopizzo.com is back and pointing !

I have been experimenting a bit to combine my two blogs www.palazzopizzo.blogspot.com and www.palazzopizzoresidence.blogspot.com. And after having diverted the pointer I couldn't set it back. Now, I am waiting for a technical helper to enter required code names into the Domain Name System .... (update: it's done)

In the meantime, I continue searching for a solution. I need a static front page, a landing page that does not look like a blog. I want a welcome page that guides those to the blog who want to read my posts and those to our vacation rental who are planning a holiday in Southern Italy.

So I followed some intstuctions I found on the web to tweak Blogger to use a static page as homepage. (...)  It all worked fine, at least on my desktop and tablet - but not on the smart phone (too many redirection), also the loading became slow. And you still have a blogroll on your welcome page... so I changed all back.

Wordpress and Squarespace are the platforms that offer a bit more than blogger when it comes to templates (themes) and pages. But should I dump my partner of seven years? Blogger never let me down! Never. If you are just blogging, there is no reason to change. Blogger is even easier to handle!

My experience with Wordpress lasted two (!) days (!). I worked two days to set up my website (with the "Stay" Theme), learning by doing, no content, just the structure, when all in a sudden I saw RED. Wordpress had kicked me out! A red banner was saying: your website is suspended due to violation of our terms and conditions!!
That was it! No more access.
The website wasn't even finished!

Shouldn't this be enough of a hint for me to stay with blogger?
Blogger is free with unlimited space, Squarespace starts at 8$/month and Wordpress (.com) is free-ish. For the best looking templates you have to pay. For minor adjustments (blue font?) you need to pay. And you even need to pay to have your site free of advertisement as they have the right to place ads into your posts (while you would again violate their terms and conditions when having paid links). Want to point your own domain to your Wordpress.com site? You need to pay.

While editing this post, I received an apology from Wordpress for their error and any inconvenience. They somehow detected spam, and I will have to delete my cookies before opening the site.

After that I signed up for the 14 days free trial with Squarespace. They are great for stylish websites. But if you are a blogger, then you will miss what are basics at Blogger: spelling check, better statistics, x most read posts in the last x days, you also might like these posts-widget, and an archive! (BTW I use an invisible counter from www.statcounter.com for more details).

Shortly after I messed with my domain name, I also got mail from GOOGLE, saying that they "detected a significant increase" in 404 (Page Not Found) errors for PalazzoPizzo.com - I am flattered - will fix it!

The only two things that would make me change platforms are :
1) the need of a static internet presence increased while the the blog became secondary.
2) Google who owns Blogger might decide all in a sudden to close this platform.

Let's see how my trial with Squarespaces works out...
Hopefully, I can greet you soon with a new look!

Happy month of May!

A presto

Spring Cleaning in May - about updating and closing blogs

In searching for a translation of the German proverb: "Alles neu macht der Mai", I found "April showers bring forth May flowers". It is not a very close translation, but it has the same optimistic feeling of change. And that's what I wanted to tell you. I made a few changes on this blog, a kind of spring cleaning.

Bougainvillea on the sidewalk, Bangkok 
I was not happy with my side bar anymore. It was too cluttered. I remember, I had split the side bar into two columns to accommodate advertisers. Ha ha, but my blog has just one sponsored text link at the moment! So, I filled up the far right column with lots of eye candy books. But after all, it was too much. I feel, the trend goes back to more simple looks for blogs. Have you observed something similar?

That's why I moved all the beautiful coastal living and Italian interior books to my existing, but never used "BookStore". Check it out here :-) ! You will make me happy with a little amazon's commission (4% of the book sales price). No price difference for you. - BTW, talking about decluttering, I am still looking for a good book about Feng Shui - any recommendation?

My bookstore is not the only new "page" (or tab) on this blog. New is also "Life in Asia". I will explain.

kung fu vases from Spin, Beijing with red orchids

While living in China, I started my two blogs, Beijing Notebook and Palazzo Pizzo. This was over six years ago. Random observations noted in Beijing and a documentation of a renovation in the South of Italy - I decided to NOT combine the two subjects. My readership on both blogs had different interest. Just a few readers, came visiting me on both blogs.

After having moved from Beijing in 2008, I only sporadically updated my China blog. But my posts are still valuable and many new reader visit every day. Although, I am now looking for a nice last post, this blog will remain open for ever.

When we planned to move to Bangkok, Thailand in 2010, I started a third blog. And last week, I shut it down. Without prior notice. I was surprised myself. I just had to click one button. It is not deleted. But just not public anymore. Why? Lack of inspiration, lack of motivation. I deem Beijing is a lot more interesting than Bangkok. There was much more culture I was attracted to. My Bangkok blog bored myself more and more.

But being a good and happy blogger has not only to do with the subject you write about. Blogging is also interaction with readers - although, many blogger do not comment anymore on other blogs (I am pretty quiet myself). But even if I don't get comments on every post, I have an idea about who my readers are. I had a very nice readership over at Beijing Notebook. They enjoyed the information I provided, and that made me happy.

I also do have reliable and friendly readers here on Palazzo Pizzo. You know that, you are one of them! And I always enjoyed the blogging design community. I got and still get the best advises and inspiration online from design addict blogger and interior designers online! I love it!

I think, one of the reasons I had no more fun with my Bangkok blog, is that I never really connected with the readers. One day, I got my first insulting comment. When I published the comment and answered politely, it got even worse. I never ever had bad comments on my other blogs during my six years of blogging. Funnily enough, I am apparently not the only female blogger in this country who had to deal with strange comments. It seems a tricky environment.

While spring cleaning my blog today, I had a flash of inspiration. I want to give a new combination a try! I hope you are not only here to read about Italy, or renovation, and kitchen remodelling. Maybe, some readers wonder sometime about my life in our adopted home, away from our Italian home? These posts will be labeled "Life in Asia". And I promise, I will not overdo it. What do you think?

Spring cleaning... mmmhh, apart from some new content, maybe an even more visible face-lift is necessary?!  Do you still like the look of my blog?? Although I am writing mainly about an over 200 years old house, it does not mean that this blog has to look like over 200 years old ... 


Photo copyright: Palazzo Pizzo