The Great Internet Blog Grift

“Hello World!” is the title of the sample post that comes preinstalled on WordPress. Now WordPress is an “open source” software which means it is free. But as I stated in both my first and the last post it’s a very, very basic platform. One must add a number of additional little bits of software called “plug-ins” and “widgets” to make it work well and these items are mostly NOT FREE At least not free with any level of real functionality and many of these bits of software are outrageously overpriced. WordPress is like a traveling carnival where the operator rents an empty lot, sets up the tents and puts up a “Free Admission” sign. Then rents the tents to the “contest booth con men” who then try to strip the locals of as much money as they can. A bit like buying a game of Monopoly and discovering that the tokens, dice, currency and cards are not included. But you may purchase each of these Monopoly items separately for a exorbitant sum of money.  The dice will be $79, the tokens $15 each, the money and cards for only $129 unless you want the pro version for $199. Worse still these items all come from separate sources.

I am a poor old cat, retired, living on an “oh so very small” government pension. This cat can ill afford to give up eating for a week to buy a plug-in that will allow me to display pictures in a simple mosaic gallery. Which is what brings me to the word “grift”……   Merriam-Webster defines grift as “to obtain money illicitly (as in a confidence game)”.  Now that might seem a bit severe, but luring someone to download and install a bit of allegedly “free” software only to find that it won’t do all it was advertised to do unless you purchase the “full” or “pro” version is a con game in this old cats head.  As a younger cat I actually wrote software, created add-on’s for Microsoft Train Simulator and offered these to all for free on as well as my own website. My fine locomotives, freight cars and scenery items were there for all to download and enjoy. When I discovered some of my items being used as part of a commercial add-on package I threatened these vendors with legal action forcing them to remove my code from their product. I did however allow them to inform their customers that they could download that portion from or my website and incorporate it into the game.

But once again I digress (we old cats do that a lot). While WordPress is a great open source platform the developers could easily write a few more bits of code to enhance the functionality of the platform. That would of course cut into the profits of the producers of the pricey add-on’s. The big cat has however discovered that under all this WYSIWYG and “drag and drop” ease of use software is code, very familiar code. That wonderful HTML, XML and PHP that the cat learned while building the first site in 2002. I have already “tweaked” that code to allow for a better viewing experience at The Rainbow Bridge. Now this old cat is a bit rusty on coding so it’s going a bit slow, but refreshing these skills has been invigorating. Some thought has been given to reviving these skills and perhaps offering truly free, fully functional plug-in’s to the WordPress community. But this old cat is tired and a bit lazy so probably won’t.   But that’s just an idea as relearning all those skills lost to time and age may be challenging (that “teaching an old cat” thing again).

Well that’s about all for now, enough “hissing” and “growling” for one post. Sorry we have no gems of “wisdom” nor tales of times gone by but this is what’s on this old cats mind today. When did “free” stop actually meaning without cost or obligation and become a crass marketing tool or a grifter’s hook?

This is the rather aggravated old cat saying  “Meout”



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