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Heading Back to the Old Blog January 10, 2006

Posted by Leita in Flotsam/Jetsam, Internet, Wordpress.com.
4 comments

It’s been a hoot, but I am floundering in a sea of too many blogs so I am placing this one on temporary hold and returning to my old Sparktown.

Not that I’ve been keeping up with that one, either, but it’s been home for a long time. Maybe I’ll even find time to change the header image there; I do miss having access to the backend of these things. In the meantime most of my time is taken up by a sparkling new venture scheduled to go live later this month.

It was fun here in the beginning, just a few invited blogs posting per day (instead of a thousand new blogs created). Last summer’s WordPress.com had a small community ambiance. I miss that. Take a look at my sidebar and you’ll find some of the original wp.com group.

Ciao.

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Mandatory Testing for Commenters December 16, 2005

Posted by Leita in Flotsam/Jetsam, Internet, Life in the Woods, News, Southern Living.
6 comments

.. And why I believe everyone should be required to pass a test before clicking that Submit button:

News story, last paragraph:

The boy remains in the detention center. But his mother is desperately working to get him out. She says even though there are those speaking out against him, many are also realizing this was just an awful teenage mistake and support her son.

First comment:

msteegee
IP: Logged
Posted: 12/16 4:03a

Really I think your child didn’t do nothing wrong the other 2 kids took his gun and went and did some wrong things with the gun and yes they should be lock up for it but u know how the systems work everybody don’t get in trouble for some of there wrong doing everybody know how it is and for d people that threating your son handle that because I got a child to and aint nobody going to threat mines because Im d mother and dad

There are simply not enough [sic]s in the world to explain this one.

Hurricane Digital Memory Bank December 5, 2005

Posted by Leita in Florida, Hurricane, Internet, News, Southern Living.
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Lest we forget, the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank is a repository for stories, images and files related to the 2005 hurricane season. Complete with a Google Map, too. Browse or submit your own experiences and help historians accurately record this hellish season.

Here’s the note they sent me:

Greetings,

On a recent web search we found your blog postings that relate to the recent hurricanes. We at the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank (http://hurricanearchive.org) invite you to upload your postings or stories to this public database as part of a nationwide memory bank that will help historians write the history of these storms. A collaborative project between George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media, the University of New Orleans, and the Smithsonian Institution the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank is collecting, preserving, and presenting the stories, images, and responses of the devastating 2005 hurricane season.

If you decide to contribute, your stories will be credited to you and you will retain copyright over that data. When we display images, blog postings, or podcasts, we also create a bibliographic citation as a reference for those using the memory bank for research. If at any time you change your mind, you may contact us (info@hurricanearchive.org) and we will delete your materials.

Still wondering who we are and what we do? This project builds on prior work by George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media, and other partners such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress, to collect and preserve history online, especially through the ECHO (http://echo.gmu.edu) project and the September 11 Digital Archive (http://911da.org). Check out these sites and see what you think.

We are collecting all types of information, and we encourage you and your friends and family to submit stories, documents, images, or audio files through our website: http://hurricanearchive.org.

Thank you!
Hurricane Digital Memory Bank Staff

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Mood Gym – Exercise for Your Psyche December 2, 2005

Posted by Leita in Health, Internet.
11 comments

http://moodgym.anu.edu.au/

Depressed? Stressed? Try this with me. Mood Gym is an online program developed in Australia to help people learn how to cope with their internal demons. It’s free with no advertising.

Register, answer a few basic questions such as age, general location and educational level and select which of the six available programs to use (some are in beta but are fully functional). I opted for the full program.

Following two quizzes on depression and anxiety, the rest of the program is divided into modules: Feelings, Thoughts, Unwarping, Destressing, Relationships and Final Quizzes.

This is not the typical women’s magazine style of self-discovery quizzes. It takes a long time to complete. Everything is logged into a personal workbook to keep and use after the program completion; a sort of journal of their own internal bugs and monsters. Given to a therapist or physician, it could speed up the discovery process when diagnosing and treating mental woes.

Mood Gym can’t take the place of traditional medical treatment and pharmaceuticals, but for someone with mild ill moods or hard heads who refuse to admit they need help, this could be a start.

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“New” Orleans Turns on City-Wide Wi-fi November 29, 2005

Posted by Leita in Government, Hurricane, Internet, Politics, Southern Living.
19 comments

Who deserves free wi-fi more than New Orleans residents? Me, but that’s okay… after watching a city drown while residents suffer and die partly due to communication breakdown I’m all for anything that directly addresses the problem.

Remember, it could happen to your city, too. There are few places in the U.S. safe from Mother Nature’s wrath. Plus, every time a community goes wireless it pisses off the privately owned utility companies and that alone simply Makes My Day. I just paid my cable bill and to be frank, it sucks, but I’ll hold that rant for another post.

Want to ensure it happens in your area, too? Write your state and local potentates. Do it soon because they’re currently eying legislative bills that’ll stymie any chances of making it a reality.

Already running in the French Quarter and the business district, the article claims the whole city will be hooked up in a year.
Here’s how it works:

The system uses hardware mounted on street lights. Most of the $1 million in equipment was donated by three companies: Intel Corp., Tropos Networks Inc. and Pronto Networks. The companies also plan to donate equipment for the citywide expansion. Tropos is connecting the system to the Internet at no charge.

The network uses “mesh” technology to pass the wireless signal from pole to pole rather than each Wi-Fi transmitter being plugged directly into a physical network cable. That way, laptop users will be able to connect even in areas where the wireline phone network will take time to restore.

The system will provide download speeds of 512 kilobits per second as long as the city remains under a state of emergency. But the bandwidth will be slowed to 128 kbps in accordance with a limit set by Louisiana’s law once the city’s state of emergency is lifted at an unknown future date.

The service will remain free for residents and businesses after the state of emergency ends.

From: Big Easy Launches Free Wireless System (via Yahoo).

Some balk at the idea of reconstructing an entire city built on oatmeal and wallpaper paste for a levy but what would it cost to build a city from scratch? Plus, it would be a butt-ugly BlandTown.. reason enough to support the efforts to bring back a city deserving whole volumes of the country’s history.

With phone service still hit-and-miss in New Orleans; I wager Skype and Vonage will see a little peak in new customers, eh? That has to hurt the phone companies, even if it’s just a smidge.

Now, how about Mississippi? Let’s see some wi-fi in Biloxi! Since the big-boy utility companies cannot justify the cost/profit on their bloated spreadsheets, there’s plenty of room for tender young companies to squeeze in and provide wi-fi for smaller communities.

I’d pay a local tax just for the chuckles knowing how many people would dump their utility company’s broadband service.

Heh. I’m chuckling now just at the thought…

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New WordPress.com Themes November 29, 2005

Posted by Leita in Design, Internet, Wordpress.com.
5 comments

The three new themes for WordPress.com look great but because of minor details I’ll probably revert back to the default Kubrick.

Neat! 0.01 is just that except for the dark blue border around images that reminds me of old sites built with Front Page themes. If I don’t include images with links that’ll work around that slight irritation. Also, the blog title isn’t included in the header.

wp theme Toni with white linesRegulus 1 combines all the Link Categories into one long, messy sidebar scroll and the images I use for Today’s Surf disappear. Dammit, this one was my favorite, too.

Toni 1.0 isn’t my favorite visually, reminding me of the original wordpress theme in blue. The Categories list has an out-of-place white bar where the category children could be, but they’re not which looks.. well, here’s a screenshot:

If anyone knows a workaround for these nitpicky reasons why I’ll be returning to Kubrick, I’m all ears.

Find Music You’ll Love With Pandora November 29, 2005

Posted by Leita in Internet, Music.
1 comment so far

My new favorite bookmark: Pandora:

Ever since we started the Music Genome Project, our friends would ask:

Can you help me discover more music that I’ll like?

Those questions often evolved into great conversations. Each friend told us their favorite artists and songs, explored the music we suggested, gave us feedback, and we in turn made new suggestions. Everybody started joking that we were now their personal DJs.

We created Pandora so that we can have that same kind of conversation with you.

This little Flash doodad is a doozy. Type in an artist or song and it’ll create a playlist of similar songs. A little slow finding similar music (and I’m Not complaining), Pandora presents me with a list of songs and artists I would’ve never heard otherwise. Tip: be patient and listen while it loads up more songs.
Example: I entered “Bob Marley” and it loaded up the following:

  • Peter Tosh – Brand New Second Hand
  • Jimmy Cliff – Music Maker
  • Bob Marley – African Herbman
  • Bob Marley – Soul Rebel
  • Jimmy Cliff – Who Feels It, Knows It
  • Lee Scratch Perry – Small Axe Version 2 (aka Shocks ’71)
  • The Cables – Ring a Bell
  • Burning Spear – Man in the Hills
  • Ernie Smith – Ride on Sammy
  • Peter Tosh and Friends – Stop the Train
  • Johnny Osbourne – Jah Promise
  • Burning Spear – Slavery Days

Every one a good match to Unca Bob.

Goodies include adding individual songs to a stored Favorites page and clicking Share to email to a pal so they’ll get a message like this:

To immediately listen to this music station I’ve created (named “Bob Marley Radio”)simply click on this link or copy and paste it into your Internet browser:

http://www.pandora.com/?sc=sh2902673

This station plays on Pandora, a music listening and discovery service. Pandora enables users to easily create streaming stations that explore their favorite parts of the music universe.

Enjoy!

Clicking on an individual song brings up a menu list: Why did you play this song? – Make a New Station From This Song. – Buy This Song From iTunes. – Buy this Album From Amazon. – I like It. – I Don’t Like It. – Add to Your Favorites.

Clicking on a Station brings up this list: Add More Music to This Station – Email This Station to a Friend – Edit This Station – Rename This Station – Delete This Station.

Pandora is free to use (register for more options such as multiple –up to 100– playlists) and has an option to pony up a few bucks that’ll remove a crop of ads coming in the future. Currently, there’s just one quiet ad for iTunes and no popups.

Price: $36/year or $12/three months.

Pandora FAQs.

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30gigs.com – Worth the Bother? Update November 28, 2005

Posted by Leita in Internet.
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Six weeks ago I opened a 30gigs.com email account with the idea of using it as a repository for files and site backups. Since then, I’ve found serious problems such as emails that never get delivered and mails sent that never arrive.

Today, I get another message from my primary email account; 72 hours later and 30gigs still has not delivered an old email to my 30gig account inbox:

This message was created automatically by mail delivery software. A message that you sent has not yet been delivered to one or more of its recipients after more than 72 hours on the queue.

The message identifier is: 1Efddp-0001
The date of the message is: Fri, 25 Nov 2005 07:29:24 -0600 The subject of the message is: [Fwd: Registration]

No action is required on your part. Delivery attempts will continue for some time, and this warning may be repeated at intervals if the message remains undelivered. Eventually the mail delivery software will give up, and when that happens, the message will be returned to you.

So, until it gets a lot less buggy and a lot more reliable, I can’t trust the service with emails or files of any great importance.

For those still wishing for invites, give it time. Send yourself a dozen Gmail accounts instead and name them foo01@, foo02@, etc. Sure, it’s a pain but at least they’ll work properly.

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Feedster Beta: Search for WordPress Blogs November 23, 2005

Posted by Leita in Internet, Wordpress.com, Wordpress.org.
3 comments

wordpress - the logo Similar to Technorati’s Claim Your Blog feature, Feedster now allows an easy way to search for WordPress blog feeds.

Follow the instructions to add yours to the pile.

  • Hint: WordPress feeds look like this: you.com/feed/

I’m adding mine right now (trying, actually.. WordPress isn’t publishing or editing at the moment and the link keeps disappearing):

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New to WordPress.com? Tips to Get Started Fast November 22, 2005

Posted by Leita in Internet, Wordpress.com.
48 comments

Under construction clipart circa 1995. Sorry, I couldn't resist.The WordPress.com gates are open now, at least temporarily. With so many blogs starting from scratch by new wordpress users, I thought a few tips might help get some blogs set up fast without looking like the little man here.

The best tip I can give anyone new to wordpress.com is to visit the wordpress.com faq site and Lorelle’s. There are plenty others, but these two are my favorites.

Note: this is the procedure I use for fast-starting a wordpress.com blog but everyone will have their own. Feel free to comment if you have additional tips.

Time to start:

After your blog is created, login to the Dashboard (located at
http://foo.wordpress.com/wp-admin/) and click on the User menu option (aka foo.wordpress.com/wp-admin/profile.php) and fill out the form.

Important: If you want rich text editing, there’s a box at the bottom of this page. Click it if you want wysiwyg editing, leave it unchecked if you do not.

Contrary to semi-popular belief, WordPress.com blogs can have more than one author. Within the Users section, there is a tab for Authors and Users. Here you can add other people to your blog and give them various authorities: Admin, Editor, Author, Contributor or Subscriber. (Update: Adding a link to Matt’s post regarding multi-users in WordPress.com so he’ll know someone really did post about it.)
After updating your Users, head next door to Options. Tabs here are: General, Writing, Reading and Discussion.

General:
While you cannot change your WordPress url, you can change the Title and Tagline here. This is also the tab for setting your time, date, and the day you wish your weeks to begin.

Important: It seems a little out of place, but there is a box for determining whether or not users must be registered and logged in to comment. Click or not, your choice.

Writing: Here is where you decide how many lines will appear in your Write Post box. If you want extra space to write without scrolling as much increase this numer. (I use 16)
Indicate whether emoticons should be little images or text. Guess which one I selected. ;) Last item in this section is the name of the Category where posts default. Leave this as Uncatagorized for now and remember to come back after setting up your Categories if you want to call it something else.

Reading: Where you decide how many posts to show per page and in your feed. Also indicate whether you want your full posts to feed or just a Summary.

Discussion: Decide whether you want to moderate comments or let them post right away, whether you want trackbacks/pingbacks and notify weblogs. This is all pretty self-explanatory but if you’re unsure exactly what how trackbacks and pingbacks work, Lorelle has the answer written in non-techno babble. In a shell of some nut, you don’t have to actually do anything. WordPress.com automatically pings the big boys like Technorati and Feedster whenever you post something new. Easy, eh? You betcha.

Almost Done! Read on…

Themes: (Didn’t you want to do this one first?)When selecting one, consider more than just the way they look. Some have options (such as calendars and contact pages), some do not. Pick the one you think best matches what you want your site to do in addition to how it should look. If you select Kubrick there’s a tab for changing the header and title colors.. nice!

Links: Obvious, eh? Add your links and blogrolls here, either under one category or create several of your own. If you use a service that offers OPML links or backups, click on the Import Blogroll and fill in the url or browse for the file if it’s stored on your hard drive.

Manage: Much of what you’ll find here will be used as you begin posting. If you already know what your post Categories will be you can add them now.

Note: when writing a new post, you’ll find a Category box on the right side of the page where you can select which category the post will belong and also an empty box for creating a new category without having to make a separate trip to Manage/Category. All these boxes (discussion, password-protect, slug, etc. are moveable; click and hold to arrange them the way you want.)

Bonus tips:

  1. If your theme has a default “About” page, go to Manage/Pages and edit that sucker. Leaving the default message can make a blog look unprofessional and unfinished, especially when a slew of posts are already published. Remember: Search engines find wordpress.com blogs fast, usually within days and people will be clicking that About link. Make up a big lie if you want, just give them something that doesn’t say Under Construction.
  2. Please edit or remove the default post and the attached comment. You won’t get in trouble, the WordPress.com folks don’t mind at all, I promise.
  3. The Write Post is buggy on occasion. This post has an image in the first paragraph and a [more] link that didn’t work. Published three times, changes would not show up and it finally wouldn’t publish at all and wound up in the Drafts minus some last minute edits. You’ll learn to deal with it by copying post content before saving in case it doesn’t go through and you wind up with a blank post or, as in this case, one where the formatting is all awry. (This rarely happens anymore, but it still does on occasion.. like today.)

That’s it! Your blog is ready for the first post.

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