Monthly Archives: May 2006

Home at last

I’ve finally returned to my home in Knoxville.

I drove home from Lula, GA, to Knoxville, TN, this afternoon and arrived at about 4:00 PM (EDT).  I am in the process of downloading all the pictures I took from the trip to Alaska to my computer and over the next several hours and the next day, I’ll be uploading the best of the lot to Flickr.  More later, after some progress has been made.


Homeward bound

Today Carole and I board a train for the trip from Denali National Park to Anchorage.  We’ll spend one night there before returning by plane to Atlanta tomorrow.  While the trip to Alaska has been wonderful, it will be good to get back home again as it always is after a vacation.  Next post here will probably be from Carole’s house in Lula, GA, and it will probably be on Tuesday morning.  Talk to you then.

Cruise to Alaska — Part I

I am writing this from an Internet cafe in the Denali National Park, an awesome site to visit by the way, and this the first entry I’ve been able to make since the 17th of May because Internet access has been both slow and costly.  Aboard ship, the connection speed was 110 Kbps maximum (about twice the speed of a 56 Kbps modem) and the cost was $0.75 per minute. My itinerary didn’t permit me to locate shore-based Internet access, so I have been suffering withdrawal symptoms for the last week.  Though I have felt out of touch, it is good to take a break from being so constantly on the Internet.  Normal posting will begin again soon, once I have returned to my home and the comfort of my own computing system.  I have taken a large number of pictures (more than 500) and I’ll be posting some of those to Flickr once I’ve been able to go through them and cull the wheat from the chaff.   

Before the Glaciers Melt

On Friday of this week, Carole, my ex-wife, and I will leave Atlanta for Vancouver and then embark from there on a cruise up the inward passage to Anchorage, Alaska. This is a trip that Carole decided last year she wanted to take, and she was kind enough to invite me to accompany her. While I’m not looking forward to the travel required to get there, I am looking forward to seeing the scenery before it all melts and to being able to check off one of the last three states that I’ve never visited. Just for the record, the other two are Hawaii and North Dakota. I can envision going to Hawaii, but I’d guess the only reason I’ll ever have occasion to travel to North Dakota is just to complete the circuit of the 50 states.

During the trip, I am hopeful that I’ll be able to gain access to a computer and an Internet connection so that I can blog about the trip while it is taking place and upload the photos to my Flickr site. Although I think I’ll be able to do that, I can’t be sure, so if there is a break in my blogging, that will be the most likely explanation.

There is one other thing I should probably mention to those of you who may comment on any of my blog posts during the next couple of weeks. Please be aware that, since I have moderation turned on for comments on this blog, any comments you make during this time will be delayed in appearing until I’ve gotten to a computer to approve them. That might mean a longer-than-normal delay, since I won’t be sitting in front of the computer all day. Instead I’ll be out seeing the real world for a change. Just be patient. I’ll eventually be able to approve your comment, and it will show up once I have. So my next post may be over the weekend, once I am aboard the ship. Stay tuned.

Flock: Then and Now

As any of you regular readers know, I’ve been using Flock as my primary web browser since back in November of 2005, despite the fact that it is only a “developer’s pre-release” version. I’ve commented on its features, its family and even its failures. And I have also admitted that, in recent weeks, I’ve been installing a new build each morning. A progress report is now in order, I think.

In the past several builds, I have noticed that it has become more stable, offered less problems, and even that it opens faster than it used to, all of which I welcome. Features that were a bit flaky when they were introduced are taking shape as they are refined. And the paradigm behind some of its features has become addictive for me.

Although some people have complained about the way Flock handles bookmarking, what Flock refers to as Favorites, I find that to be one of its most endearing features. If you are a Firefox user who has explored its features very much, the chances are that you employ the Bookmark Toolbar to display frequently-visited links across the top of your browser window, beneath the icon bar and above the tab bar. Internet Explorer also uses its Links folder to provide a similar capability, though most of the IE users I know don’t understand or appreciate the benefits of that feature.

In Flock’s iteration of this concept, they have taken this ability one step further. You can create collections of links and can change them easily so that the row of links across the top of the browser can be altered at will. With a little thought to how you organize your collections, you can display convenient links at the top of the browser window around certain browsing activities. For instance, I have collections called News, Baseball, Daily Visits, Blogs, Dreamhost (my web hosting company), as well as a number of others. Depending upon what I am doing at the time, I simply change the collection that is displayed, and the links I need are conveniently available at the top of my browser.

Flock’s collections of Favorites is but one of a number of innovative features in this browser. I haven’t even mentioned its Photo topbar, Flickr uploader, Blog editor, My News RSS reader, syncing with, Map topbar, or the new Action bar in this post. So there is much more to Flock that I use and have come to rely on. So far, though, I believe that the evidence I’ve seen fully justifies the decision to create a new browser rather than just try to add extensions to Firefox that might provide the same ability.

In reviewing the Tinderbox Status page on the Flock website, it appears that May 31st is the target date for the release of the BETA version of this browser. Beta versions are typically when software companies ferret out the kinks in their product before making an initial release of version 1.0. With the progress that the Flock team has made during their development cycle of the “developer’s pre-release” version, I would expect that the Beta cycle will go smoothly and that Flock’s initial version will quickly garner a lot of fans among users who want a way to interact much more actively with the web. If you fit that category of web surfer, around the first of June might be a good time for you to take a look at Flock.

Moving Day

Moving your residence from one house to another is one of life’s more difficult and unpleasant tasks, despite the joys associated with the new location to which you are moving. Only slightly less unpleasant is having to move your email address from one place to another. Yesterday, I began that process as I decided to retire p_nelson (at), an email address I have had for the last eleven years.

First, I sent out an email to the people in my address book who had that address as the primary contact point for me, asking that they make the change in their address book. One thing that made that chore easier was using the mass mailing feature of my email program, The Bat!. I drafted a message, selected the mass mailing template I had created and then chose the recipients from my address book, and the program generated a personalized email to each individual. Many of the people who received my request wrote back to acknowledge they had made the requested change. That was the easy part.

The more challenging part of this transition comes in trying to correct the contact point at the software vendors, web sites, digital identity systems, and online communities where I have given that address as my primary contact address. After eleven years, it is difficult, if not impossible, to retrace your steps and make sure everything is covered. If one were smart, he would use some forethought and maintain a database that he updated continuously of all the locations where he used such an address, but this “one” wasn’t that foreward thinking through the years. I have found a program though that helps to track such things, if any of you are smart enough to learn from someone else’s mistakes. It’s called Roboform, there’s a free version of it, and you might find it worth a look.

So my task in the coming 6 weeks before that old email address expires will be to try to recall and contact all the places where I am known by that email address and have them update their records. If I do a few each day, I expect I’ll eventually get most of them, but I am reasonably certain that I’ll overlook some of them no matter how hard and diligently I try.

It’s News to Me is moving

This will be my last post at this location.

After many years of relying on free hosted blogging services like Blogger and most recently this site on, I have now taken the plunge and registered a domain name for myself,, and over the weekend I began posting to my blog located there. Here is the link written out so you can see it, but it's active too so you can click it to go to the new location, If you'd like to continue reading It's News to Me, please update your bookmarks so that you can still visit when you want to.

The primary reason for making this move is to give me greater control over my blog and an opportunity to experiment with other features on the web site that will eventually appear there. Right now the primary link,, only has a page containing a single link to my blog. In the future, there will be other content there, but that will take me some time to achieve.

My time on has given me a chance to experience the WordPress blogging software, and I've been quite pleased with it. But I wanted access to more of its features which the new site will provide. You'll notice a new look on the new site, one that I think is cleaner and easier to read. That different look was made possible by choosing a different template for my blog and being able to make such choices was one of the reasons for me to make the move to my own web site.

I am very grateful to the folks at for giving me the chance to blog here. I think it is a terrific place for someone to get their feet wet in blogging. If you are considering doing so, I recommend it highly. It is free, after all, and that price is hard to beat, but more than that, it offers an excellent blogging platform. And if you are thinking of starting a blog, Paul Stamatiou posted an excellent piece yesterday called HOW TO: Start Blogging.

So now that I've made this announcement, let me suggest that you come on over to the new location and let's continue our conversation there. I want to take this occasion to say thanks for your loyalty in reading my blog and for your patience in making the transition with me.

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