Archive for: February 2008

February 28, 2008

My Son had surgery today for a broken collarbone

Filed under: Internet,Personal — Les Bain @ 10:35 pm

My son broke his collarbone while riding his bike about 2 weeks ago. It was not healing properly, so today they screwed and wired all the pieces together in the right way so it will heal.

My son is off to college and takes care of himself, but today was parents day. We drove to Berkeley and took him to the surgery, talked with him, waited for the surgery, drove him home, got him all set with pain meds and cold packs.

My son is a typical wired college student. On the way to surgery he was entertaining us with the text messages he was receiving. The tone of the messages was pretty much .. be cool .. don’t die … and text me back when all is done.

We had to take pictures before we got him up from the recovery room bed, and they were immediately posted on the Internet.

On the way home, he answered text messages, updated his blog with the latest information including pictures, and updated his Facebook profile.


February 21, 2008

Website Construction

Filed under: Website — Les Bain @ 11:36 pm

Websites can be constructed quickly and cheaply, but to carefully build a website takes nuance and technical knowledge.  Here are various items a careful webmaster will consider.

  • Error processing.  The fine art of building a 404 page.
  • Creating a robots.txt to direct the Search Bots
  • Creating the CSS and making sure all the formatting is in the CSS.
  • Creating CSS for both print and monitor.
  • Use some method to make sure all duplicate code is stored in one place, either with a dynamic template or an include, preferably a server side include.
  • Creating a favicon
  • Create an automatic way to update the copyright date when the year changes

February 19, 2008

Search Keywords – What is Hot?

Filed under: Internet,Technology — Les Bain @ 4:08 pm

Wordtracker reports on what keywords people are putting into search. I know this is just a sample, but I looked at the top 100 search key phrases from the last 48 hours.

So what are people searching on?

  • 49 were searching for sexually oriented content. Some key phrases are problematic. I included Carmen Electra in this list. I did not include Madonna or Britney Spears.
  • 24 were searching for music or musicians. I included Queen, Beatles, Madonna, and Britney Spears in this category.
  • 12 were searching for a popular website like google, ebay, yahoo, myspace, facebook, or hotmail.
  • 7 were searching for information on video or computer games.
  • 8 were searching for a miscellaneous set of terms including “fun presidential facts”. I counted “Obama girl” here, but it might fit in the first category.

I have looked at the reports at various times, and the percentages stay pretty consistent. The top 500 terms is almost always 50% sexually oriented. It is a tribute to the Internet searchers that they can find 250 search keywords and key phrases to search for sexual content.

February 18, 2008

Finishing up the Hard Drive Work

Filed under: Personal,Technology — Les Bain @ 10:44 am

The work on the hard drives is pretty much done. This is what remains.

  • Defrag each logical drive: one done, one running, 2 more to do.
  • Backup the two data drives:
    • Backup each data drive to the remote web hostingsite using FTP
    • Backup each data drive to the local external drive
  • Delete some files from the Webhosting site that were put out as tests
  • Shut down Carbonite by 2/28/2008.

February 17, 2008

Change Places using TweakUI

Filed under: Technology — Les Bain @ 1:05 pm

I am moving files around from the local hard drive to the external hard drive, and from one partition to another on the external drive.  There are number of reasons for doing that, and I blogged about that.

Today I am dealing with ramifications.

  • I had tweaked the places list in the open / save dialogue boxes using the Microsoft product called TweakUI.  I needed to change that to reflect the new file positions.
  • The Outlook pst files are moved.  I had to change Outlook to point to the new files.
  • I had some shortcuts that needed to be changed.

I will consider moving My documents later today.

February 16, 2008

Reorganizing Hard Drive Usage and Backups

Filed under: Personal,Technology — Les Bain @ 7:45 pm

I am reorganizing the data on my hard drives. I am moving folders and files from the laptop drive to the external drive, and from one partition to another on my external drive. There are several reasons for doing this.

  1. I have been using Carbonite as my backup system. Carbonite does not allow backups from external drives, so I had been putting more and more on my laptop hard drive so that it was backed up regularly by Carbonite. I am getting frustrated with that restriction from Carbonite, so I am dropping Carbonite when my yearly subscription is up in a few weeks.
  2. My laptop hard drive was close to 90% full, and that was impacting performance of course.
  3. I wanted to logically divide what was on my external drive into three partitions.
  4. I wanted to organize my drives to support my new backup scheme.

My external drive has three partitions.

  • One partition is for content that can be downloaded from the Internet again if I lose it. That includes programs, ebooks, music, and video.
  • One partition is used for local backup.
  • One partition is used for the data that I create.

I am implementing a new backup scheme.

  • I will backup using an program that has an FTP function to my Web Hosting account. My web hosting account allows for 500gb of storage, and I am not close to that, so I will use it for backup. I will backup some of the laptop hard drive and the external drive partition with data.
  • I will also do a local backup to the backup partition of my external hard drive.
  • I am implementing the combination of software and procedure to get everything set up, and it is almost there.
  • I will do a complete backup using FTP, then incremental backups after that.

It takes a couple of weeks to do the initial backup using FTP, so I need to get that started. It took a couple of weeks to do the initial backup using Carbonite, but from then on the incremental backups ran quickly and smoothly.

I will have to rely on the local backup during the brief period before the FTP backup is complete.

February 15, 2008

Doing email and feeling lethargic

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 1:11 pm

I have been reading and responding to email, reading RSS feeds, and blogging over the last several hours. I was starting to feel lethargic. Then I ran into this article by Linda Stone entitled Just Breathe: Building the case for Email Apnea.  She noticed that people working on email often stopped breathing or breathed very shallowly.  She calls it Email Apnea.

I stopped for a few minutes and did some deep breathing exercises.  I found myself sitting up straighter and feeling energized.   I was probably not breathing deeply.

I will pay attention to this, notice if I am guilty of Email Apnea, and make sure I am breathing deeply.

Explicit Spam

Filed under: Internet,Technology — Les Bain @ 12:18 pm

I receive the standard spam.

  • Get rich quick schemes
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Member enlargement

The member enlargement spam added a new twist in todays email, explicit before and after photographs.  Way too much information as far as I am concerned.  My spam filter missed them because with the photos it was “go from this to that”.

I wonder if this signals a new direction for spam.  Come to think of it, the pharmaceuticals where already doing it with spam that was just pictures of pills with prices.

Too much information.

Computers and Heraclitus

Filed under: Technology — Les Bain @ 12:01 pm

Heraclitus is known for his doctrine of change being central to the Universe.
Heraclitus supposedly said “you could not step twice into the same river”. The river is constantly changing. The river is never the same.

I use the same phrase for computers. When people tell me that the program or service ran yesterday on this computer, I twist the Heraclitus quote and say “you cannot run the program twice on the same computer.” That is because the computer is constantly changing. I am usually talking about a computer running Windows.

  • Windows downloads updates and modifies itself
  • Files are added and modified.
  • Websites add or modify cookies.
  • Programs download updates.
  • Files become fragmented.
  • The Windows registry was changed.
  • There is different traffic on the network.
  • Programs start and stop in the background.
  • Program configurations change.
  • Websites are changed.
  • Web servers are changed.

And that is just the legitimate sorts of changes. Any of the malicious changes could also have been made to your computer, the network, or the service.
The fact that the program ran yesterday only means the program ran on the computer the way the computer was yesterday. Today the computer has changed.

“You cannot run the program twice on the same computer.”

February 13, 2008

Computer running slowly

Filed under: Technology — Les Bain @ 9:26 pm

The most common complaint that computer service people hear is that someone’s computer is running slowly.  Check the following.

  1. Make sure the computer is not overheating.  Clean the fan.  If it is a laptop, put it on a cold pack and see if it runs faster.
  2. Is it the computer or the Internet Service Provider?  Reboot the modem and the router and see if it runs faster.
  3. Get rid of all the clutter on the hard drive.  I like CCleaner to do the job.   Then defrag the hard drive.
  4. Find a good anti-spyware program and clean up the spyware.

That should be a good start, and should help in most cases.

February 12, 2008

Fire Clean Up

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 10:21 am

We had a fire in the place last week.  It was confined to a kettle on the stove, but it created soot and smoke.  The cleaners have been here yesterday and today.  They scrubbed the bathrooms and the kitchen.  In the kitchen the ceiling has gone from gray to white again.   The stove is clean, the cabinets are free of the tiny specs of soot, and the dishes are being put through the dishwasher.

The cleaners work hard, speak Spanish to each other, and do not take many breaks.  They are polite and gracious.  They are proud of their work.  They call us in to see when an area is finished.

They listened carefully to our concerns about harsh chemicals, they adjusted they approach, and double checked that we were not having any reactions to the cleaners they were using.

The only thing we lost was the kettle and the stove burner pan.  We will replace those later today.  All in all, what could have been a tragedy was averted.

The place is cleaner than when we started, and all is well.

February 11, 2008

44,339 Spam Messages

Filed under: Internet — Les Bain @ 7:52 am

I cleaned out my Outlook Junk E-Mail folder. There were 44,339 spam messages. That was over about 30 months.

I use the SpamBayes spam filter, which I am very happy with.  It learns over time what I consider to be spam, and adjusts accordingly.

I am unsubscribing from ezines and email lists whenever I can find a comparable RSS feed.  There are some Yahoo groups I really enjoy that do not have RSS feeds.  The next step might be to use one of the products that turn email into RSS feeds.

February 10, 2008

Microsoft and Yahoo

Filed under: Internet — Les Bain @ 11:34 pm

Microsoft made an offer to buy Yahoo.  One part of the conversation is to try and identify other players who might buy Yahoo.  Google is usually mentioned, with the quick disclaimer that it would not work.

There are other Computer and Information Technology companies that have more revenues than Microsoft.  Two of them are Hewlett Packard and IBM.  It is a sign of the times that an Information Technology decision is being discussed with IBM not being a part of the conversation.

I know there is a distinction between Information Technology companies and Internet companies, but Microsoft and IBM both have revenues from both.

Twenty years ago, IBM would have been a part of the conversation.

February 9, 2008

Keywords, Tags, and Categories

Filed under: Internet — Les Bain @ 9:56 am

What is the relationship, if any, between and among Keywords, Tags, and Categories.

Keywords are those terms that are entered into search engines to search for websites, webpages, and blogs. From the perspective of a website, it is those terms that are used by others to find the website using a search engine.

Categories are typically used to organize content like blog posts. The wordpress blogging software allows each blog post to be identified by a category. People looking for specific blog posts can product a list of blog posts by category.

Tags are terms used to identify various kinds of content, including blog posts, bookmarks, photos, articles, and video. Both the content creator and the content consumer can add tags to the content to identify it or qualify it.

Each of these terms that are identifiers that can help find content.  They all help in trying to filter out the signal from the noise.

February 8, 2008

Laptop Woes

Filed under: Technology — Les Bain @ 4:30 am

I was working with a client today, fixing up her laptop.  During the process, the laptop went into a deep freeze (technical term).  The screen was black, the keyboard did not respond, and the indicator lights maintained an unusual pattern.  I of course turned it off and on repeatedly, but it never truly turned off, and never really turned on, although some of the indicator lights would go off and on.

I made the first of several calls with the appropriate amount of wait time.  I was told by several voice mail systems that I could go online to get help, even though I could not get the laptop to work at all.  I did voice response to a series of questions that were sometimes difficult to answer, and then I made it to a very nice young man apparently from India.

He was most helpful.  I could understand him even though he had a pronounced accent. The solution was as follows:

  • Unplug the laptop
  • Take out the battery.
  • Hold down the power on key for 20 seconds.
  • Plug it back in.
  • Result: Everything was fine.

His explanation was that the computer gets a build up of static electricity. I am not sure I understand the explanation, but the solution was right on.  I had never heard of anything like that before.  Live and learn.

February 7, 2008

Blogs? How Many?

Filed under: Blogging — Les Bain @ 3:35 am

Technorati reports regularly on the State of the Blogosphere.
The State of the Blogosphere from Technorati, April 2007

70 million
Total number of Blogs
New Blogs every day
New Blogs per second
New slogs (spam blogs) created every day
New Posts per second
1.5 million
New Posts per day
Average number of readers per blog

Different Kinds of Blogs

Filed under: Blogging — Les Bain @ 2:53 am
Short for Web Log. A particular kind of website that has lots of posts or log entries.
A blog about math.
A blog about the law and legal issues
Group Blogs
Blogs written by a team of writers, often a group of professionals.
Log of a knowledge worker, usually to promote company information to other knowledge workers.
Link Blogs
A blog that just links to other websites and blogs, often on a particular topic.
Blog of someone in the military, especially of one serving in a combat zone.
Personal Blog
The personal thoughts and diary of an individual
Blog of photographs
A blog comprised entirely of spam.

February 6, 2008

Blogging Considerations

Filed under: Blogging,Internet — Les Bain @ 5:25 pm

I have clients that do not have a blog. When they ask me about blogs, it usually becomes a most interesting conversation in a hurry.

When they ask how quickly they could set up a blog, I tell them on Blogger or WordPress they can set up a blog and have it working in less than 15 minutes. Then the conversation starts. There are so many things to consider after that.

  • Can a business just have a blog and not a website?
  • If you already have a website, should you add the blog to that domain? Or should you use a different domain?
  • How can you tailor the blog to look the way you want? What template should you use, and how can you tailor it to what you want or to look like their website? Can you add their logo and colors?
  • What about a blog roll? or other links? And what is a blog roll? what is Link Love?
  • What options do you have for archives?
  • What are the considerations for Search Engine Optimization?
  • How will a business know how many people are reading the blog?
  • Can people subscribe to the blog? with Email? with an RSS Reader? What is RSS? Is that the same thing as a feed? Full or partial feed?
  • What widgets or gadgets are available for their blog? and for that matter, what is a widget? What is a gadget?
  • Are there any vulnerabilities? Can my blog be hacked?
  • How do I manage comments? How do I deal with spam comments? What is a Troll?
  • What is a trackback? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
  • How often should they post? How long should a post be?
  • How will the search engines find my blog? Do I need to register them on Directories? and what is the Blogosphere? and is that important?
  • How about audio blogging? video blogging? podcasting? Moblog? Photoblog?
  • What is a blog carnival?
  • What are categories / keywords?

Each one of those considerations is a part of the conversation about blogs. Each one requires decisions. One way to make the decision is to take all the defaults, and let the blogging software make the decisions. That is certainly what many do.

It all goes back to the purpose of the blog. What is the business justification for the blog? If a business or individual can clearly define the purpose of the blog, then the decisions can usually be made in a straight forward way. To summarize:

  • It is very easy to get started with a blog, but the refinements require decisions and time.
  • The decisions about blogs require knowledge of the Internet, but they reflect the business purpose.

February 5, 2008

A Tribute to David

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 8:32 pm

A friend and colleague passed away this week. His name was David. David was a fine man and a good colleague. My deepest sympathies to the family.

David and I were introduced by a common friend. We did a website project together. I was able to provide David some assistance with PHP and CSS on another project he was working on. He was always unfailingly polite and professional.

David had lots of different interests, and he taught me about his passions. He paid attention to the Internet and sent interesting links. I will miss him.

Votes and Links

Filed under: Internet,Politics — Les Bain @ 12:51 pm

Today is Super Tuesday, or Tsunami Tuesday. Many of the states are holding primaries. The candidates have worked to get votes. I voted today. It is a very quick process to vote, and it is impressive how hard the candidates have worked to influence my vote.

On the Internet, links are somewhat comparable to votes, and some seem to work just as hard to get them as the candidates have done. If you have many links, then you win the Search Engine Page Results election, you get traffic, and you have a change to influence or make money.

I voted today

Filed under: Personal,Politics — Les Bain @ 12:41 pm

I voted today. I went with my daughter. This was the first time she has voted. She has been waiting to vote since she was 12 years old. We walked across the street to the polling place, voted, and then stopped on the way home for coffee. It was a beautiful day and we sat outside for coffee. A fine day.

Today is my Dad’s birthday

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 1:53 am

He passed away some years ago, but today is his birthday. He was a fine man and touched many lives in a positive way. I have not thought about him as much lately, but today I am thinking about him and remembering.

Some random memories.

He could climb a rope better than anyone I have ever seen. He could climb a rope with one hand while holding something in the other hand. He learned it while working for his uncle’s timber company. It was remarkable. He did it by wrapping the rope around one foot and standing on the rope. He then pulled himself up with one hand, then wrapped the rope again. It makes me wonder why no one has ever used that technique in the movies.

He had an unwavering faith. He once said his favorite poem was

Go on
Go on
Go on
Go on.

When I came home and told mom and dad I was getting a divorce, I thought he would take it badly. He told me that I was his son and that I was a man. He said he did not care what happened, he would support me. And then he said if I wanted to talk about it I should talk to mom. That was dad.

There was a time in my life when I was making pretty good money. I was a very generous tipper in restaurants. When I would go to a restaurant with Dad, I surreptitiously left extra money as a tip. He tipped adequately; I tipped generously. I did not know he noticed. Once when the check came, he took the check, said I could leave the tip, and that he would get off cheaper.
At his funeral, my brother Landen gave a wonderful tribute to Dad. I will remember it always.

When he was really angry he would call my brothers and me girl’s names. He would call us Mary and Francis.
My dad was intimidating when I was young. He was never physically or emotionally abusive, but he had a very strong presence. When he got angry, he would whistle loudly. For years whenever I heard a whistle like his, I would stop in my tracks.

One of my fondest memories was going to breakfast with Dad. A week before he passed, my son and I went to breakfast with Dad at Bob Evans. It is a precious memory.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Working on some classes

Filed under: Internet,Personal — Les Bain @ 1:22 am

I am preparing a set of classes on how to improve your Internet presence.  The first class will be on Keywords.

February 3, 2008

Super Bowl

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 3:50 pm

The Super Bowl XLII is underway. Some thoughts:

  • I am old enough to remember all the Super Bowls. I was not paying attention to all 42 of them, but they were always in the background.
  • The young woman who sang the National Anthem today was wonderful. She is apparently an American Idol winner. I do not watch that show, but she was magnificent.
  • The Super Bowl commercial watch is underway. At least one person is live blogging the commercials. I do not remember when the Super Blow commercials became part of the day.  MySpace will have all the commercials after the game.
  • I wonder if anyone learns about Roman Numerals because of the Super Bowl.

Blog Post Categories

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 3:22 pm

When I made a commitment to blog more regularly, I was concerned because I am a private person and was worried about sharing my personal life.  I have not exactly been writing a tell all, but I am surprised that the personal category is the one I use the most.  I guess I have become accustomed to writing and sharing more personal items.

Schedules, Todo Lists and Calendar

Filed under: Management,Personal — Les Bain @ 3:16 pm

I have been working long hours.  I have been working through the night on various projects, sleeping in early morning, and then perhaps napping in the afternoon.

I control my work with task lists on Outlook.  It is a little strange because Outlook assumes a work day for the task list.

If I work 7pm to 4am or 5am, as far as Outlook is concerned, that is two different days.  Half way through my work day, my tasks for the day all become overdue.  All of a sudden all my tasks become red on the task list.  It is not a problem, just an interesting result of working these sort of hours.

February 2, 2008

A fire in our apartment

Filed under: Personal — Les Bain @ 1:30 pm

Yesterday we had a fire in our apartment. I was out working with a client.

Around noon a fire started on the stove, the smoke alarm went off, it woke up my family, and they responded. The fire was put out, the fire department was called, neighbors heard the alarm and smelled the smoke and came in to help, several joined in to set up fans to blow out the smoke, the insurance company was called, and the clean up was started.

When I got home the place still smelled strongly of smoke and soot, but everything was relatively calm, and we are dealing with it today.

We were most fortunate because there is oxygen in the house for my wife. My wife had some adverse reaction so we will watch that closely, but so far so good.