Adrian Chamber of commerce

My current web design project is a redesign of the Adrian, Missouri Chamber of Commerce site. They contacted me to have me keep the site updated for them, but I told them that I thought it needed to be totally redesigned. It was done in FrontPage and I think it looks pretty terrible. There are some real problems with image size, too. I've got the new design underway at a secure, undisclosed location. I'm looking forward to unveiling it.

I started working with a template and adding in php code to include headers and footers for the various pages, to make changes a little easier down the road. As I worked it felt like I was going to need to make a templating system from scratch. That's when I decided that I would use b2evolution instead. It already has skinning built in, so I can have multiple pages that all use one template. And I have the backoffice writing interface, which helps format the text. RSS feeds are already built in, so I don't have to do those manually. I've had to make some changes to make it seem more like a static site and less like a blog. I'm working on a guide for how to use b2evolution as a CMS for a static site.

As

I'm kind of a music junkie. And while I'd like to say I've found some great new band/artist that no one else has ever heard of, as of late, I have been obsessed with an older artist: Stevie Wonder. I have always liked soul music (I hope that is a PC term, I have no idea what else to call it), and singing it (or poorly attempting to), and so when I purchased Stevie Wonder's greatest hits album, I thought I would recognize all the songs. I have been pleasantly surprised, however, to find some new likes and even new favorites, particularly the song "As". Since I know you are intrigued, I recommend that you get the album (or at least just the song) from our favorite Russian website(SHHH!). As I have been listening to this song, I have actually been thinking about how it could have two interpretations, one relational and one religious, and although I couldn't quite put my finger on the latter, I finally figured it out. The version I have is apparently a shortened version, and here are additional lyrics I just found:

"We all know sometimes lifes hates and troubles
Can make you wish you were born in another time and space
But you can bet your life times that and twice its double
That God knew exactly where he wanted you to be placed
so make sure when you say you're in it but not of it
You're not helping to make this earth a place sometimes called Hell
Change your words into truths and then change that truth into love
And maybe our children's grandchildren
And their great-great grandchildren will tell
I'll be loving you always"

Sappy post out.

LiveJournal importer for b2evolution

Purpose
b2evolution already has methods for importing blog posts from Wordpress, b2/cafelog and Movable Type. I've modified the Movable Type importer to create a LiveJournal importer.

Installation
Requires b2evolution 0.9.x or later

  1. Download this file: import-lj.txt.
  2. Remove the .txt from the filename and add a .php extension, then upload it to your b2evolution admin folder.
  3. Edit the /admin/tools.php file and add this section:

    <div class="panelblock">
    <h2><?php echo T_('LiveJournal Import') ?></h2>
    <ol>
    <li>Use LiveJournal's <a href="http://www.livejournal.com/support/faqbrowse.bml?faqid=8&q=export" title="LiveJournal documentation for exporting posts">export functionality</a> to create an XML file containing your posts.
    <ul><li>Exports done in this way will not include comments.</li>
    <li>LiveJournal's export page creates a separate file for each month, requiring you to run the importer multiple times</li>
    <li>To get an one XML file with all of your posts and comments, use <a href="http://sourceforge.net/projects/ljarchive">ljArchive</a></li>
    <li>This importer is compatible with either method</li>
    </ul>
    </li>
    <li>Place the XML file in the /admin folder on your server</li>
    <li>Follow the instructions in the <a href="import-lj.php">LiveJournal migration utility</a>.</li>
    </ol>
    </div>

Usage
Go to the Tools tab and you'll see the instructions that you added in step 2 above. Get your xml backup file from LiveJournal using ljArchive. LiveJournal has their own export page, but it only archives one month at a time and it doesn't include comments. ljArchive is the preferred method, but the importer will work with either method. Upload the xml file to the admin folder and run the importer. You'll be able to choose which author and category you want assigned to the LiveJournal posts.

Emma's vacation report

MicrophoneEmma and I sat down with a microphone and talked about the vacation. We give a day by day audio report, complete with Emma's fascination with scary Disneyland rides and a few random tangents. The original recording was 33 minutes long, but I trimmed it down to a snappy 17 minutes. Here it is:

Emma's Disneyland Vacation (18 minutes, 16.5 MB)

If you want to get a feel for what it's like to have a conversation with this four-year-old, then you can download the uncut version (33 minutes, 30.5 MB).

Bill Gates admits mistakes

"In a sense we're doing a 'mea culpa' in saying we've waited too long for a new browser release," Gates said during his talk to kick off Microsoft's first show for designers and developers of high-impact Web sites. "We are very immersed in the browser as a platform." (Microsoft Admits Internet Explorer Mistakes - Yahoo! News)

This has been painfully obvious to everyone familiar with browser issues, but it's nice to see that Microsoft is owning up to the fact that stopping development on an app as crucial as a web browser might be a bad idea.

A great site for Mac freeware

Since I switched to a Mac last May I've been constantly on the lookout for good, free software. One site has helped me more than any other. They're always posting descriptions of programs that are useful, fun or both. I've been meaning to post about FreeMacWare.com for a while so my fellow Mac converts will know where to look. The contest they're having now convinced me to get it done.

I want to highlight 5 apps that I've discovered through the site. These may not be my favorites. I heard about Firefox, Quicksilver, Cyberduck, etc, from other places. But here are five programs that I heard of first from FreeMacWare.com.

DoubleCommand - One thing that's made the switch a bit more tricky is the fact that OS X uses Home and End keyboard keys a bit differently than Windows. In Windows, hitting the End key moves the text cursor to the end of the line. On OS X it goes to the end of the document. DoubleCommand is a little application that let's you remap keys. In some cases you can make it more like Windows. I enabled the "PC style home and end keys". You can also make the control key on the Mac act like the command key, which is another area where I still slip up sometimes.

Disk Inventory X - Before I got my new external hard drive, video projects were hard because I was always running out of space. This program scans your drive and makes a graphical representation of the whole drive so you can see where the space is going. It's been very useful for me.

Sizzling Keys - I like listening to iTunes while I use the computer. This app gives you keyboard shortcuts for controling you music even when iTunes isn't the active window. So, right now while I'm typing, I could hit Command + Option + Space and pause iTunes without ever taking my hands off the keyboard or leaving the Firefox window. It also includes a little info window that pops up to show you the meta data and album art when a new song comes on.

Handbrake Lite - Handbrake is a program for converting DVDs into compressed video files. Handbrake Lite is a simplified version that mainly converts into a format that can play on my iPod. What used to take several steps and some trial and error is now done with a few clicks.

MacOSaiX - This is the app I used to make the photo mosaic of the brendoman.com logo. It's dead simple to use. Choose your main image. Then enter some search terms and it hits up Google Images for images to compose with. The more search terms you give it and the longer you let it run, the better the result is.

If you have a Mac, I recommend that you bookmark FreeMacWare.com or subscribe to their RSS feed.

Vacation photos

Stephanie, Emma, Sara and Brendan in front of the Disneyland castle Emma and Mickey At the beach

We're back from Califonia. You can see photos in the 2006 California Vacation gallery.

Destination California

In three hours we're leaving for our vacation. We're going to Southern California for a week. We'll be staying with college friends Peter and Stephanie. And we'll get to see Brendan for the first time in almost two years. We're going to Disneyland for a couple of days, so Emma is very excited. And Friday night we're having a board game night and I'm going to get to meet Brendon and Dave for the first time.

Software and Tools

I've been doing some web design work with a new company called AstonishMe! I'm working with a couple of very bright programmers/designers who are active in the b2evolution forums.

Last week I completed my first custom page design for the company. I created a new skin for Software and Tools, which is a site that reviews and discusses software. There are eight b2evolution-powered blogs on the site and each has its own header graphic and complimenting color scheme. I had to learn a lot about design and have nearly constant hand-holding from Scott, but I think it turned out very nicely. The customer is happy and I've got a pretty little addition to my portfolio and the company's.

There's a more detailed write-up of the design on the AstonishMe Portfolio page.

Now that's a headline

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