Slider quiz for clients

Professionals who see clients may want to measure the effectiveness of whatever they’re doing by a quick survey before and/or after each session. If you’re there in person, you can hand them a paper form, but if, as is often the case these days, you’re talking with them by online video, you need a way to do it online. This post shows how to do that on a WordPress site.

A popular type of survey uses multiple questions with a sliding scale that the client can freely mark at any position. Because clients tend to inflate assessment scores when they’re put on the spot, a lot of their answers will cluster around the high end of the scale even on days when, if they answered honestly, they really should mark around 30%. That’s why it makes sense to use an unmarked scale so that you can compare answers for a given client and adjust for their bias to differentiate between a 93% — pretty good result — vs 86% — poor result — and not have them both round off to 9 out of 10.

Here’s what such a quiz might look like online (you can change the wording of the questions however you like):

Online survey with three questions answered by adjusting the position of a slide switch.

Range selection quiz on PC web browser


Same quiz on phone screen

Range selection quiz on phone screen


Email giving a client's survey answers

Email giving a client’s survey answers

Put this on a page of your site that’s not on the menu, so spammers won’t find it (not that there are any fields on it for them to use). When it’s time for clients to answer the survey, send them a link — for instance, by pasting the link into your online meeting chat. To avoid PII in the message, there’s no field for name or email address — you’d match it to the client by the time it was sent.

To create such a form in WordPress is simple. Here are the steps.

Install Contact Form 7 plugin

There are probably other plugins you could use for this, but Contact Form 7 is very popular and well supported. If you don’t already have it installed, in your WordPress dashboard navigator, select Plugins > Add New. In the search box, type Contact Form 7 (or just “Contact” — it’s a very popular plugin).

Once you’ve found it, use the Install Now button to add it to your site, then click Activate.

Screenshot of installing Contact Form 7

Add a new contact form

This plugin isn’t just for contact forms; you can add any number of forms. Click Contact in the dashboard menu to see the current list, and Add New to create a new one for your clients to fill in at the beginning of a session.

Screenshot of Contact screen in dashboard

On the editing screen, fill in a title (I used “Arrival Survey” but call it what you like).

The contents of the Form area would be:

<style>.wpcf7-form label { display: block }</style>
<label>How's your energy level?
[range measure1 min:0 max:100]</label>
<label>How's your day been so far?
[range measure2 min:0 max:100]</label>
<label>Ready to dig into some stuff?
[range measure3 min:0 max:100]</label>
[submit "Send"]

Copy the above and paste to your site, replacing the default Form contents. Edit the text after each “label” to the questions you want to ask.

Click Save (but stay on this screen).

Their responses are emailed to you. Use the Mail tab of the contact form editing screen to set up where the mail is sent and what the contents should be. The default field values will usually be okay except for Subject and Message body.

Change Message body to whatever text you want to send, including the expressions [measure1], [measure2], and [measure3], which will be replaced by the numbers corresponding to the slider positions the client selected, in the range 0 to 100.

Change Subject to not contain [your-subject], since there’s no longer a Subject field on the form. If you like, you can also use [measure1], [measure2], and [measure3] here, so you can read the responses without even opening the message.

An idea: change the To field to send email to your text message email address, so you get the survey result as a text message. For instance, if Sprint is your carrier, this would be yourPhoneNumber@messaging.sprintpcs.com.

You may also want to visit the Messages tab and change the texts of messages displayed to the client in different situations. The “thank you” message is the only one they’re likely to ever see, unless you add more fields of your own.

Click Save.

Create a new page and add the contact form to it

In the previous screenshot, there’s a blue banner at the top of the contact form editing area giving the “shortcode” of the contact form. Create a page, and paste this code into the page body at the point where you want the survey to appear. There can also be other text on the page (partially obscured in the example below).

Editing the Arrival Survey page (with Blocks editor)

QR Code?

QR code to launch arrival survey

You might decide you like this well enough to use it even if seeing clients in person, as an alternative to a paper form. That’s one of the three or four situations where it actually makes sense to use a QR code. Modern phones are able to scan this code from their Camera application and go to the URL encoded in the dot pattern. This lets the client complete the form on their own phone. Try it yourself with this one if you like — just start to photograph this code with your phone, and you should get an option to go to the sample survey page we’ve been working on in this example.

New Publication: The Badger’s Game

My first publication on WattPad is a doggie noir very short story, The Badger’s Game. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Notes from the Westerns of the 2000s panel

The overall trend in Westerns seems to be a branching out into different moods and styles, and cross-genre efforts. The moods/styles list, with examples:

  • Gritty realism — the miniseries Godless is an example.
  • Greater historical realism — too many examples to count. Seems the bar has just generally been raised. Some of this may be owing to research having gotten significantly easier with newspapers, library map collections and so on getting put online for free.
  • More complex characters – also many examples. I especially like the descriptions of the Cheyanne characters in Longmire — Henry Standing Bear is clearly smarter and more responsible than his good friend Walt, and observes everything with extremely dry commentary. The casino owner, Jacob Nighthorse, is morally complex. He clearly commits crimes, but he’s really good at it and one could plausibly argue that he’s working for the benefit of his people in the only way he can.
  • Sci-fi westerns like Firefly/Serenity and Westworld.
  • Greater diversity and the use of the genre to address issues of social injustice, for instance racism in Django Unchained and the current immigration mess at the US border with Mexico (

Some thoughts:

Fiction, though it may be set in historical times, is really about the present.
Demographics are changing
The American West was always more diverse than Westerns portrayed it, and now there’s an audience for bringing that out more.
It’s also easier to do that research now that more historical information is online. (Dusty Richards had a huge trove of historical documents, diaries etc.)
“themes of open country, unforgiving nature, struggles to survive and settle the land, freedom from authority, cooperation with fellow adventurers, and other experiences that human beings encounter on the frontier. Traditional westerns are set west of the Mississippi River and between the end of the American Civil War and the turn of the twentieth century. But the western is not limited to that time. The essence, though, is openness and struggle. These are happening now as much as they were in the years gone by. ” – from the submissions guidelines at saddlebagdispatches.com.
Diversity:
  • Brokeback Mountain (2005)
  • Longmire. The Cheyenne are the best characters. Longmire’s buddy Henry Standing Bear is the smart, wryly humorous, responsible counterweight to Longmire’s tendency to jump in before learning all the facts. The casino owner, Jacob Nighthorse, is morally complex.
  • Godless (2017 miniseries) – Gritty, and most of the characters are tough, capable women.
  • Tears of the Black Tiger (2000) – made in Thailand, got to the US several years later.
  • The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008) – Korean director, Asian setting
  • Django Unchained (2012)
Weird Westerns/SciFi
  • Westworld
  • Firefly/Serenity
  • Rango (2011) – hero is a chameleon.
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) — is just weird not speculative
The old school is still with us but has gained more depth and historical accuracy:
  • Open Range (2003) with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall punching cattle.
  • Yellowstone (2018 series)
  • Dusty Richards
  • Cormac McCarthy

Other media mentioned during the panel

Mostly this is just a list of books, movies, and TV series that are of interest, without much explanation of what makes them interesting. Please feel free to expand on that in the comments.

  • Have Gun Will Travel (tv series)
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
  • Priest (Japanese comic)
  • The Kid
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. – Wikipedia. A weird western from the early 90s that showed there was a market for that sort of thing.
  • Shanghai Noon (movie)
  • The Mask of Zorro
  • Red Dead Redemption (game)
  • Cool Ranch (game)
  • Hostiles (movie): Tommy Lee Jones is hired to escort an imprisoned old and dying Indian chief back home.
  • Hell On Wheels (series) about the building of railroads thru the American West.
  • Quigley Down Under (movie) about cowboy in Australia.
  • Jane Has a Gun (and she means to use it on some bastard who ruined her life)
  • Dead Man’s Gun (is apparently cursed)
  • The Mandalorian

How to make menu items into buttons

Occasionally, in your WordPress website, you’ll want to highlight certain menu items by giving them a button-like appearance.

Screenshot showing WordPress website menu with button item

I don’t know of any plugin to help with this (though there are so many plugins, who knows, there might be one). I do it with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Most themes let you define your own style rules to augment or override those defined by the theme. In my example I’m using Graphene theme, where this setting can be found in the Customize screen, at the end of the top level of navigation entries.

SHows location of Additional CSS in Customize

May appear elsewhere or have different label depending on theme.

Add the following rules to whatever you have there now:

/* Several rules to make menu items look like oval buttons. You must use the class name menu-button in the advanced menu properties in the dashboard to select which items this applies to. The first button also needs class menu-button-spacebefore to separate it from the normal menu items. */
li.oval-menu-button {
  background-color: gold;
  border-radius: 20px;
  margin-left: 5px !important;
  margin-bottom: 5px !important;
  margin-top: 7px !important;
  height: 35px !important;
}

li.oval-menu-button a {
  font-size: 14px !important;
  padding-top: 7px !important;
  color: black !important; /* text color of top menu buttons */
}

li.oval-menu-button a:hover {
  /* when user mouses over the button, text color changes to... */
  color: white !important;
}

li.oval-menu-button.active a {
  /* after they click the button and are on that screen, button color changes to... */
  background-color: transparent !important;
  /* and text color changes to... */
  color: white !important;
}

@media (max-width: 767px) {
  /* applies to phones and tablets -- you may need to adjust this number based on when the menu gets hidden behind a "hamburger" button. */
  li.oval-menu-button {
    display: inline-block;
  }
}

@media (min-width: 767px) {
  /* applies to PCs -- adjust number to match above rule. */
  li.oval-menu-button {
    /* spacing left of first oval menu button in menu -- you may want to adjust this. */
    margin-left: 50px !important;
  }

  li.oval-menu-button ~ li.oval-menu-button {
    /* spacing left of second and subsequent oval buttons */
    margin-left: 5px !important;
  }
}

Next, switch to the “dashboard” of your site and navigate to Appearance > Menus to create the menu item you want to format as a button. To apply the button formatting, you’ll need a field that’s not visible in Customize — the CSS Classes field. It’s also not visible in the dashboard by default, but you can use the Screen Options control at the top of Menus screen to make it visible.

Diagram showing how px numbers affect size and position.

In the menu item whose appearance you want to change, set the CSS class to oval-menu-button.

Screenshot showing how to set the CSS class of a menu item

The button has been designed to be the same height as other menu entries, given certain assumptions about the height. These assumptions work for the Graphene theme, which I’ve used for my example, but they may not work super well in your situation. Basically, every number in the CSS code that’s followed with “px”, you may want to play with. You just need to make sure the numbers add up. In particular, to keep the text vertically centered, you’ll need to add or subtract one pixel to the padding-top for every 2 pixels you change the font-size, and one pixel to the margin-top for every two pixels you change the height. But you can just eyeball it; the Customize screen is great for that because you can change numbers and see the result in real time.

Diagram showing how px numbers affect size and position.

Review of “Another Life”

I watched the first episode and part of the second. After that I had to stop to avoid breaking my tablet. The stupid, it burns.

The show opens with a nice special effect. The alien spacecraft looks cool and alien if not overly practical. The thing it turns into looks like a Christmas tree. It’s great what you can do with CGI software these days.

Where I part ways with the show’s creators is their failure to hire decent writers and a science advisor–or even a “You can’t do that because a first grader could tell you it doesn’t make any frickin’ sense” advisor. It puzzles me how shows like these get made. I mean, they’re spending all this money–well, I mean, not enough to spring for a shuttle interior set–or a shuttle exterior, or anything but the pilot. So they’re spending, like, sixteen dollars on every episode, they have all these people hanging around eating bagels and bananas, and nobody on set is smart enough to point out, “Uh, hey, folks, like, we’re supposed to believe two people with little hammers and a briefcase can bring back enough rocks in one hour to extract oxygen from to resupply a ginormous spaceship?” or “Wait, she’s gonna just breathe the air there? Did they forget it’s like 15 degrees above absolute zero?” or “Oh, the first alien artifact lands on Earth and we have all of, what, four people studying it?” or “What do you mean they’re going to land the ship on the planet? On its side!?!?! I mean, look at it. Using what engines?” Or, or, or….

I guess what the crew were really saying is, “Well, this sucks, but whatever. If they cared whether it made sense they would’ve hired actual writers, so I’ll just save my advice and continue to get paid. It’s not going on my résumé, I’ll tell you that for free.” Only to themselves, though. Only to themselves.

Hiding the credit footer in Graphene theme

Install plugin: Real-Time Find and Replace by Marios Alexandrou.

In the WordPress dashboard, navigate to Tools > Real-Time Find and Replace

Click Add button.

In the Find field, type:

Made with <i class="fa fa-heart"></i> by <a href="https://www.graphene-theme.com/" rel="nofollow">Graphene Themes</a>.

In the Replace with field, type:

<!-- Made with <i class="fa fa-heart"></i> by <a href="https://www.graphene-theme.com/" rel="nofollow">Graphene Themes</a>. -->

Click Update Settings.

You are done. Thank you, Marios Alexandrou.

What can I say when people say I look familiar?

Sirius Mann of Someplace in Cleveland asks:

I’m no good at recognizing faces, and when people tell me I look familiar, I tend to freeze up because there’s a pretty good chance we’ve met and I have no recollection of it. What can I say?

Mr. Mann,

You’re missing some golden opportunities here. There are many ways to respond that don’t give away your state of uncertainty. Here are a few:

  • So the drug is wearing off. Good, good. (rubs hands together)
  •  I told you last year that’s not a good wedding anniversary joke.
  • You’re probably confusing me with one of my android brethren.
  • You may have seen my face in the sky at night.
  • Ssh! Remember the first rule of Bondage Club!
  • I am. Some say too familiar, but I like to think of it as just cheerful and friendly.

Write them on cards, and practice! Come up with some of your own! Variety doubles the fun!

Super Bioreactor will save us?

Dear Tyler (writes Edwin Meath of Sarasota FL):

I keep seeing news pieces like this one that claims some little machine removes carbon from the air equivalent to a small forest of trees. How does that work?

https://futurism.com/the-byte/bioreactor-captures-carbon-acre-trees

Edwin,

As time goes on, expect to see numerous companies making these ridiculous claims, because lies like this are a great way to attract investment capital to finance their early retirement to a country with no extradition treaties. Always ask yourself: where does it put all this carbon? An ACRE of trees? 400 trees? Equivalent to a four foot cube?

Roughly 50% of a tree is carbon. I’m looking out my window right now at ONE TREE that’s far larger than 63 cubic feet. Its LEAVES are larger than that. And much of the tree is underground. And of course only a small part of the bioreactor is captured carbon. Mostly it’s air and metal and glass and water. It looks like it might contain a few pounds of algae if you scoop it all out and press the water out of it. Let’s be super generous and say 10 pounds. Based on the instructions I find online, I estimate the tree outside my windows weighs about 60,000 lbs. To capture as much carbon as that one tree has, you would have to empty the bioreactor 6,000 times. Let’s again be super generous and assume the algae regrows completely in one week, so you can harvest it all every Tuesday, and that you sequester all that algae somewhere instead of returning the carbon to the environment, as you would by eating it, for instance. In 115 years of weekly, labor-intensive, messy, energy-consuming growing and harvesting, you might have captured as much carbon as this one tree has, with no labor and no connection to a power grid. Want to guess how old the tree is? I’ll give you a hint: less than 115 years.

And that’s ONE TREE.

So here’s a hint: ditch the freakin’ bioreactor and plant a damn acorn.

Another test posting

Here’s some text.

trash bin filled with words

The Bin of Outmoded Literary Concepts

Picture of stuff. This is the stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. More stuff. Whoa.

Things

in

columns

A heading

We can all fight against loneliness by engaging in random acts of kindness.

— Gail Honeyman

Make every day a continuing to breathe day! Namaste!

Test post for newsletter subscribers

Hello World!

Since this picture shows

Babies dressed as superheroes

I figured you would want to see it. What about this box?

Can you dig it?

Thanks and good night.

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