Categories: "computer/tech"

Rick jerk

I was doing my daily spam deleting and I found this comment:

I am the Rich Jerk, and today I am sharing my secret software toolbox which put me on every search engine on the #1 position. Nice guys always finish last.

That really caught my eye. I'm used to seeing ads for drugs and various kinds of niche porn, but this is an ad for blog spamming software. I couldn't resist taking a look at the site: (copy and paste the url, we wouldn't want to give this guy any Google juice by really linking to him). The site is your normal crap about how this guy makes millions of dollars by doing almost nothing (aka using a bot to spam blogs and get his sites up in search engine rankings). The only thing that made this site worth talking about is the fact that it is a Wordpress powered blog with . . . comments enabled. I left the jerk a little love note. I encourage everyone else to do the same. Let him have some fun deleting posts for a while. Don't use your real contact info or url unless you want to become a special target.

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.


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

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.

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>
    <li>Use LiveJournal's <a href="" 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="">ljArchive</a></li>
    <li>This importer is compatible with either method</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>

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.

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 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

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 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 or subscribe to their RSS feed.

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.

Podcasts Galore

I took a spin through the iTunes podcast directory tonight looking for something for my dad to put on his iPod Shuffle to listen to on his commute. I was amazed at how many new shows there are. You can learn half a dozen languages, get news from the New York Times, CNN, NPR, ABC and PBS, and hear a satirical weekly presidential radio address. You can also now get video casts of the latest Strongbad email, Best Week Ever clips and Digital Life TV. You may notice that there are a lot more professionals publishing podcasts now. It didn't start out that way, but I don't think it's a bad thing. More good, free content is great for everyone. The little guy with a great show can still make it big much easier than in conventional radio.

If you haven't recently, take a look in the podcast directory and see what you can find. Here are some of my recent favorites.

The Ricky Gervais Show - The creators of The Office, Ricky Gervaise and Steve Merchant, team up with the infamous Karl Pilkington chat for half an hour. The show has caused genuine laughter-induced pain for me and Sara.

The Official They Might Be Giants Podcast - My favorite band. Bar none. They've been giving away free music since the early 80s with their dial-a-song service. Podcasting is a perfect fit for them. I'm listening to the first episode now. There are some very fun, strange songs on it. They're songs that could not and should not make it onto an albumn, but I'm loving it.

KCRW's Le Show - Harry Shearer, of The Simpsons and various Christopher Guest movies, podcasts his very funny and infomative weekly radio show.

The Onion Radio News - Satirical news, like The Onion, but in one minitute radio segments.

Escape Pod & Spaceship Radio - These are both shows for stories. They're mostly sci-fi.

That's what I've been listening to recently. Once I've heard some of the shows I just subscribed to, I'll try to post some thoughts about them.

Newsvine invites

Thanks to Henry I now have a Newsvine account and 20 invites to give out. Newsvine is a news service that's currently in private beta. It looks very promising. If you want an invite, drop me a line.

Emma's computer

Emma has her own computer now. Someone was going to throw away an old Gateway with 256 MB RAM, so I took it and isntalled Edubuntu, the Ubuntu Linux version that is made for kids. So far it's working great. I had to monkey around with it to get the sound working on some of the games, then I just created a user account for her and added icons to the taskbar so it's easy for her to launch her favorite programs. She likes gcomris, tuxpaint, tuxtype, gedit and this page in Firefox. She can type her name. She might learn to type before she learns to read. I still need to get the USB wireless adapter working so I can move it back to her room. This is going to be a good first computer. At this rate I should be able to introduce her to Bash at 6, shell scripting at 7, HTML at 8, PHP at 9, MySQL at 10 and she should be able to get into Stanford or MIT right out of elementary school.

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