Monthly Archives: January 2007

Site availability today

This morning both of my sites, this one and The Fun Addicts site, hosted at Dreamhost have been up and down intermittently. Obviously this blog is up right now. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to make this post and you wouldn’t be able to read it. So if you attempt to view the site or make a comment here and you only get a blank page, please just check back later. I reported the outage to the support team at Dreamhost and they have since reported back to me that they couldn’t find anything wrong. So who knows what the cause was, but now it seems to be back up and functioning again.

Tinkering again

As you can see, I’ve changed the theme (a.k.a. template) again. This time it was sort of out of necessity.

Today I upgraded my site to WordPress version 2.1 and thought I had everything working properly, but tonight when I visited Mike at work and saw this blog in Internet Explorer 6, I was horrified. The page displayed very differently and improperly in IE than it does in Firefox. (Note to self: When you make a change here, always check that change in IE too.)

So I came home and looked for themes that worked with version 2.1 of WordPress and with Internet Explorer. This current theme seems to meet both those requirements. Additionally, it does something that Juan asked for earlier, which is that it widens the column of the text for each entry, which I tend to like too. I think I would prefer that the sidebar were on the left rather than the right, simply because I’ve made several references to that exact positioning of it in some previous entries, but if I have to I can live with this arrangement. On the other hand, maybe I’ll be able to tweak the CSS or template so that the sidebar falls on the left, but I’ll leave that task for later.

I’m going to go with this template for a week or so (at least), make whatever adjustments to it that I can, and explore whether I like it this way, and again try find out what your reaction to it is. Feel free to contribute your opinions, whether they are positive or negative. Also I’d be interested in knowing your impressions of the time it takes the site to load, given your connection speed.

Thanks for any feedback you care to provide and for tolerating my juggling things around. You know what they say. The only thing that is permanent is change.

Rescue the perishing

The title of this post is from the lyrics of a hymn, but it describes how I spent almost all of yesterday and most of the evening before.

My son Mike is limping along with an older HP laptop onto which he downloads the pictures he has taken with his snazzy, new 10.1 megapixel Canon Rebel XTi camera. When I was visiting him on Sunday, he said that Picasa was telling him that he didn’t have room on his hard disk to process the picture he was trying to edit. I checked the properties of his C drive, and sure enough it was 99% full. No problem, you say. Just off-load the pictures that had accumulated to CD or DVD and regain some room. The only problem with that is that the laptop’s DVD reader doesn’t work any longer, so even if it is also a CD burner, that’s not an option.

So I brought his laptop to my house, connected it to my network, copied the pictures onto my computer and burned them to CD for him. There were 22 CDs in all. Then I removed the pictures from his computer and defragmented his C drive. It took from 5:30 P.M. Sunday night until 12:30 A.M. on Monday morning to copy the pictures from 2006 onto my hard drive. I was up at 5:30 A.M. on Monday and I copied the remainder of the pictures since the first of the year to my computer and completed the tasks outlined above by about 5:30 P.M. yesterday.

When I returned the laptop to him with considerably more free space on it (about 55%), I observed that this is going to be an issue that he is going to have to do about every two to three months from now on, since he is now generating much larger picture files due to shooting in maximum resolution (3888 x 2592), and then I realized that he isn’t going to have to do this that often … I am!

The answer to this problem obviously is that he needs a new computer, but for the moment that is outside the budget. As an interim solution we’ve talked about his getting an external hard drive that connects via USB. But even that solution is somewhat problematic. Since this is an older computer, it has a USB 1.1, so while an external back up drive would provide the ability to store his pictures on another hard disk, it would be terribly slow. And frankly, I’m not even sure that such devices work without a USB 2.0 connection. So the saga continues, at least for now.

Update: I just checked Best Buy’s site and they have a Maxtor 60 GB external hard drive for $99.99, and it is backward compatible with USB 1.1, though of course the quoted transfer times relate to USB 2.0 not to the older technology.

Scoble’s tour of Intel Fab

In this 40 minute video, Robert Scoble is given a tour of Intel’s fabrication facility in Hillsboro, OR., where Mark Bohr explains the process and discusses the new 45 nm processor that Intel is developing. My thanks to Mr. Scoble for making it possible for me to embed the video here on my blog.

Videos such as this provide an excellent way to get an education about technological subjects such as this while requiring little more effort than a willingness to sit passively and pay attention as you watch.

Mike’s Grand Canyon pictures

This is one of a number of outstanding pictures Mike got during his recent trip to the Grand Canyon. I particularly like this one, when viewed in a larger resolution (which you can do on his Flickr site). If you haven’t yet checked out this series of photographs, I recommend it highly. You can click on any individual picture there and once the somewhat larger thumbnail of it is displayed, you’ll find an “all sizes” link above it. Clicking that will display the picture in a large size, and quite a few of them deserve to be seen that way.

Also if you’ll click on the picture at the right, it will display that photo on Mike’s site. Look for the all sizes link above it when you arrive there and check out this photo in the larger size.

New wrinkles for KnoxBloggers

Yesterday in a series of email exchanges, Mike and Daryl and I discussed how we might modify what we are doing with the KnoxBloggers group so as to encourage more people to participate and at the same time place less demands on those with busy schedules. We came up with some ideas that we think might achieve those goals.

We’ve created a new Google group called, not-surprisingly, KnoxBloggers, and we sent out invitations to those of you who’ve either joined the KnoxBloggers group that met at Mike’s house last year or expressed an interest in it in the past. This new Google group is restricted, meaning that only members can post messages to it. So it isn’t quite like joining a Usenet group used to be in the past. Once you’ve joined it, you can set the options for your account to reflect how you want to receive messages that are posted there, including not receiving them at all if that’s what you want.

In any event, this Google group gives us a permanent repository of our exchanges with each other and opens up the discussions to all the members. One topic of discussion that I’ve been advocating for some time is one related to which subjects you want to cover in our meetings. This Google group will give us a way to have that discussion more openly and easily so all can have input and have their opinion heard. So if you haven’t yet accepted the invitation we sent you, please do so as soon as possible if you want to be included.

A second change we agreed to experiment with was to change the frequency of our meeting together physically. And I stress physically here because we’ve combined this change with a plan to meet together monthly in a Skypecast, which is something you can do from the comfort of your home. Please follow that link and learn about using it for Skypecasting.

Skype is a free multi-platform (Windows, OSX, and Linux) program for making calls through the Internet from computer to computer which I have used quite successfully for a couple of years now to make almost daily calls to my friend Paul who lives in Berlin. It costs nothing to make such calls. And with the Skypecasting ability of this program, we can all be on the same call at the same time (sort of like a moderated conference call with up to 100 other people) and have a presenter and then engage in an orderly discussion with others commenting or posing questions for the presenter or the group. Once you’ve used Skype, I think you’ll find it quite handy, and we’ll learn together about Skypecasting.

Unrelated to our changes for KnoxBloggers but on the subject of Skype, I want to alert you to the fact that you have until January 31st to avail yourself of a discounted offer to purchase a year’s worth of calls to any land line or cell phone in the U.S. or Canada for $14.95. See this description of that offer. If you miss the deadline, you can still purchase that ability, but the cost will be $29.95 — for a whole year, not per month — which is still a terrific bargain. I’ve used this ability many times to manage my cell phone minutes so that I didn’t go over my allotted allowance and I find it quite useful and the quality of the connection to be excellent.

Because we still value meeting face-to-face, though we find that doing that monthly has caused some conflict with family obligations, we’ve decided to experiment with a quarterly schedule for our face-to-face gatherings, perhaps to include a lunch or dinner with the presentation and discussion. That way, we’ll still have a chance to interact with each other in the flesh occasionally, but because it isn’t so frequent, we are hopeful that more people will be able to arrange their schedules so that they can attend.

We’ve chosen to use Skypecasting and Google Groups rather than recreating all the infrastructure on the KnoxBloggers website, just because we saw no need to reinvent the wheel and because our group, almost by definition, is already comfortable with interacting with the world over the Internet. It is still our hope to enlist others into our group, so if you know of anyone who might like to join us, tell them about our plans and invite them please.

As soon as we’ve gotten everything set up, we’ll announce the date and time of the first Skypecast on the Google group and at KnoxBloggers.com.