Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why your blog won't post in blogger: The elusive “form error” problem

You've just finished a new post for your blogger blog. Whew! Another great post ready to go. But when you click “Publish Post” it says it cannot post due to “form errors.” Wha?? Before you go tearing your hair out, try this:

Getting a post to publish even though the error message says “form errors”

First, click the Edit HTML tab, and select all text and copy it (Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C or however you like to select and copy). Make sure it is ALL selected. Now save this text somewhere. That way if blogger doesn't save all your changes, you have backed them up.

Next, look at the URL of the webpage that you edit your blog from. If it starts like this:

Change the word “draft” back to plain old “www” like this:
…and hit enter to visit the www version of blogger.com/home. Now edit your post normally. It will probably save and publish now. The new blogger interface occassionally causes this problem. However, I recommend you use http://draft.blogger.com/home at all times, and only use http://www.blogger.com/home if you encounter this specific problem.

If you're looking for more tips and tricks, particularly how to deal with problems that come up when embedding videos in blogger, read the last part of this article about optimizing your blog.

Read more!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Community: it's not just for politicians anymore.

So much of the “noise” about connecting with people online focuses on having too many online friends (FaceBook and Twitter in particular).  The point being missed: we are all moving into an era were each of us have a “community” to manage. 

In person, natural filtering takes place: at a high school reunion, for example, we make connections only to a small number of people at a time, few connections “pile up” and very little happens simultaneously. Online, information that inbound us has no natural limits  to it. We have to be the filter—others will not filter themselves for us.

Community is coming at us every day, in our email and phone messages. We need to change our mindset from one-to-one to community-to-one and one-to-community.

Admittedly, online tools to help us filter our communities are still in their infancy. You have to seek out filters—they don't make themselves known automatically, nor is using them always intuitive. On FaceBook you can put friends into friend list groups, select a friend list, then select “recently updated” to check in on that part of your community. In Twitter you can download and use TweetDeck in much the same way. Feed tools feed tools such as Yahoo! Pipes can be used to help you filter your community by topic as well.

If you follow many thousands on Twitter and concentrate only on your DM and @ inbound streams you are just using another kind of IM tool. But the community is still there. zeFrank recently asked his community “Where were you and what were you doing when Obama was elected president?” Managing the inbound side of a large community is always a challenge, but one worth having.

How do you interact with your community?

Read more!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Em dash, en dash, copyright, trademark and other useful ascii character shortcuts, tips and Alt key codes

First of all, did you realize you can type in characters such as those on the next line?
▐▀█▄▌— · – ♫ ♪ … ♥ ‼ » ►◄ ☺ ♦ ♣ ♠ ₪  ≡ ░░░ ▓▓▓ ™, ©, ½, ± etc

Dashes and quotation marks are among the handiest to know. But for IM and micro-blogging services like Twitter, wouldn't it be nice to know how to type ♥?

You could just bookmark an ascii example quick-reference page like this one or this one and copy and paste the characters as you need them. For Twitter or places where there is a character limit, notice the the ellipses (…) and double exclamation marks (‼) in the symbols above are each just one character (try selecting just one of those "periods!)

But there are several tricks to make them easier to access. In Microsoft Word, you can just try to Insert>Symbol and then find them from a list. Or for example, if you type three periods (...) and then press space, it will be converted into the single ellipses character in Microsoft Word. But most useful to know is how to create the em and en dashes and different “curly” quotes. (Put these on a post-it note on your computer for handy reference):

Creating an Em dash —
This works on most Windows computers: 

  • On the keyboard: hold down the alt key and type 0151 on the number pad (make sure num lock is on)
  • The Microsoft Word trick: With no spaces type two hypens (minus signs) after a word, type another word (or any character) and then press space. The hypen will elongate into an em dash.
Creating an En dash –
This is the slightly shorter dash. Similar tips here:
  • On the keyboard: hold down alt and type 0150 on the number pad (make sure num lock is on)
  • The Microsoft Word Trick: type any word, then type space hyphen space (" - ") then type another word (or any character) and then press space. The hypen will elongate into an en dash.
Curly quotes
  • ‘    Curly single open quote ALT + 0145
  • ’    Curly single close quote ALT + 0146
  • “    ALT + 0147 (Tip: on a num pad, this uses all the keys on the left)
  • ”    ALT + 0148

Automating curly quotes in Word

Microsoft Word automatically changes straight quotation marks ( ' or " ) to curly (smart or typographer's) quotes (’‘or“”) as you type, and you can turn this feature on or off:
1.    On the Tools menu, click AutoCorrect Options, and then click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.
2.    Under Replace as you type, select or clear the "Straight quotes" with "smart quotes" check box.

You can also find and replace all instances of single or double curly quotes with straight quotes in a Word document. To do this, clear the "Straight quotes" with "smart quotes" check box on the AutoFormat As You Type tab. On the Edit menu, click Replace. In both the Find what and Replace with boxes, type ' or ", and then click Find Next or Replace All. To replace all straight quotes with curly quotes, select the "Straight quotes" with "smart quotes" check box, and repeat the find and replace procedure.

Other useful keyboard shortcuts:

  • –   Endash … Alt+0150 (see above for Word trick)
  • —  Emdash … Alt+0151 (see above for Word trick)
  •  •   Bullet … Alt+0149 
  • ·     Centered Period/dot/small bullet … Alt+0183
  • ¼ One Quarter/Fourth … Alt+0188
    ½ One Half … Alt+0189
  • © Copyright Symbol … Alt+0169
  • ® Registered Symbol … Alt+0174
  • ™ Trademark Symbol … Alt+0153
  • …  Ellipses … Alt+0133
  • ±  Plus/Minus Symbol … Alt+0177
  • °   Degree/Ring Symbol … Alt+0176
  • ²   Squared Symbol … Alt+0178
  • ³   Cubed Symbol … Alt+0179
  • ยต   Mu Symbol … Alt+0181
Fun symbols:
Here's a great list you can use from your browser toolbar (follow the tip under the icons to drag the link to your toolbar). Many of these less usual ones you may need to cut and paste, unless you are in Microsoft Word.

  • ♥   Alt+9829
  • ☺ Alt+9786
  • ► Alt+9658
  • ♪  Alt+9834
  • ♫ Alt+9835
  • ♀ Alt+9792
  • ♂ Alt+9794
  • ♦ Alt+9830
  • † Alt+0134
Related word processing keystrokes:
Nonbreaking Space … Esc-space-h
Nonbreaking Hyphen … Esc-(hyphen)-h
Straight Quote Single … Ctrl+'
Straight Quote Double … Esc "
Foreign characters and Math symbols

General basics everyone should know
This is from the New York Times (click the headline above). This is a very short must read. If you know it all, send the article to the people who look to you for help. It's short, and there are also a lot of great tips in the comments.

Read more!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Greenspan now agrees there is a need for regulation, admits accountability?

Alan Greenspan is famous for not making clear what he's thinking. But he was clear about one thing: he said markets should be deregulated.

Those favoring market regulation said people can't be trusted not to act in their own self-interest, and so markets need regulation. Regulators felt that humans were vulnerable to motives of greed and power, and that creating opportunities for people to indulge their greed caused people to demonstrate a lack of integrity.

Now the New York Times points out that Greenspan says the reason markets failed is because people can't be trusted not to act in their own self-interest.

As the Times summarizes: "The problem is not that the contracts failed, [Greenspan] says. Rather, the people using them got greedy. A lack of integrity spawned the crisis, he argued in a speech a week ago at Georgetown University, intimating that those peddling derivatives were not as reliable as “'the pharmacist who fills the prescription ordered by our physician.'”

“In a market system based on trust, reputation has a significant economic value,” Mr. Greenspan told the audience. “I am therefore distressed at how far we have let concerns for reputation slip in recent years.” Or as he said in an earlier time: “There is nothing involved in federal regulation per se which makes it superior to market regulation.”

The New York Times reports that in 2000, speaking to Congress, "Mr. Greenspan said that Wall Street could be trusted. 'There is a very fundamental trade-off of what type of economy you wish to have,' he said. 'You can have huge amounts of regulation and I will guarantee nothing will go wrong, but nothing will go right either.'”

So really, is Alan signaling that he agrees with the need for regulation? Here's a summary:

  • Regulators: People demonstrate a lack of integrity when given opportunities to indulge in greed. They need to be regulated so they will not abuse the system for their own self-interest.
  • Greenspan: People using derivatives got greedy. A lack of integrity spawned the current crisis. The market would have worked properly if people had more integrity.
  • Conclusion: Greenspan agrees in principle with those who seek more regulation, and (almost) admits some accountability in creating the mess we're in.

Okay, he finally came out and admitted his error.

Read more!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Solving multimedia problems on Vista

A video production user with many Directshow filters and plugins installed simultaneously (they take video from many different formats, hack them and put them back together) found this was a huge help to them. They had to import lots of video not native to the program they needed to use, or needed to use a media splitter/demuxer to fool the application into importing the video at all.

Got high cpu loads caused by audio/video apps hanging, or related to the "Multimedia Class Scheduler?"

If you are an advanced Vista users, visit codecguide.com and after you uninstall Quicktime and anything that relies on Quicktime (such as itunes), install:

  • K-lite codec package
  • Quicktime Alternative
  • Quicktime-itunes addon
If you edit, process, or format video for a variety of devices, this will help media apps dependent on media splitting, demuxing, or importing through directshow from hanging and using a high percentage of your cpu cycles.

Almost anyone who works heavily with media can benefit from the K-lite codec package.

I put it on virtually every system I configure or maintain. And if you've been having Quicktime/iTunes issues, codecguide.com is a good place to know about. Anyway, as Joe Glessner at asktheadmin.com says, "Never install iTunes on a Windows machine. There are other options for managing your iPod, and iTunes is a resource hog."

Read more!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Blue Screen of Death: Common Windows Stop errors and what to do

If you use Windows, one day you may see the dreaded "Blue Screen of Death," cryptic information on a blue background obliterating the screen and requiring a forced shut down.

What to do? Here's one idea: print out this list of common BSOD errors (from DailyGeeks) and  keep it handy.

Common Windows services

If you're troubleshooting, you might want to Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up the Windows Task Manager and view the processes tab to see what's running. Ditto for looking at the Windows Event Viewer when trying to see what happened. Click the link above to view the most common running services.

Read more!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Update your website yourself: get kompozer free, and use free web templates

Every time I check, I read that most businesses that want to have a web site, don't have one. Some business owners have had a site, or started the process to get a site, but eventually still ended up not having a site. Others have a site, but don't know how to update it themselves so they either get rid of it, or pay someone to update it for them.

If you can send an email link, you can create  your own website.

There is an excellent, free and very easy to use program called kompozer that makes updating and creating websites nearly as simple as writing emails. My advice is simple: Get this free program right now! (If you are a web developer and want to help your friends and clients, start by downloading KompoZer portable to a USB drive.) Kompozer is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get program (WYSIWYG) like Microsoft Word.

If you feel unsafe clicking links, go to Google.com and search for "site:download.com kompozer" (CNET's safe downloading site) or just "download kompozer." Otherwise, click here and follow CNET's instructions. It doesn't install ads, spyware or anything of any kind you wouldn't want on your computer. In fact, there is no installation process. It just lets you create and update website pages.

But, download the software now, before reading further. Do it NOW! If you don't use it later, fine. But if you want to use it one day, it will be on your computer, and you won't have to find this download link again. I suggest saving it to your desktop so you can find it easily. So: stop reading, and download the software first. Right now!

Start using KompZer

It's a relatively small program, and won't interfere with the operation of your computer in any way, so the next step is copy it somewhere so you can use it. Right now. No installation necessary. Double click on the file that was downloaded to your computer and a window will open. There will be a folder named "Kompozer" with a number after it. Copy that folder to your desktop (or wherever you wish) and double click on the folder. Look for the file named kompozer (or kompozer.exe). Double click that file and the program will open.

Type a few words in the big empty space in the right-hand area of the window that opens. Now highlight a word or two and experiment with clicking the a A B I U letters in the toolbar near the top of the window. These will make your words Bold (B), Italic (I) and so forth. You are now formatting text on a web page!

KompoZer tutorial and user guide

Next step: either read this kompozer short tutorial, or keep playing with the program to familiarize yourself with it. I suggest not using the help within the program. Instead, for the KompoZer user guide, click here. Really: click the link for the user guide. You won't find this information easily anwhere else.

Here's a useful tip for editing an existing page: type within what you want to change so the formatting stays the same. Say you had yellow bold text and highlighted text you wanted to keep (for example). Follow this three-step example:

  1. This is the page before editing 
  2. Type inside the existing words when making changes:
    This Different words go here is the page before and more words here editing 
  3. Then delete the words you don't want:
    Different words go here  and more words here
If you want to use the formatting from one part of a page on another part of the page, copy some of what you want to the new location, then type inside as shown above.

Formatting on a web page can be endcoded in many different ways. If you are editing something that is already formatted, save yourself the headache of learning about CSS and HTML formatting and just use the above method to ensure you keep what is already working on your page.

Advanced tip for updating your site

Once you have a website that you are working on, you will be creating or updating pages on your computer, and then sending them to the website so the world can see them. The "sending" part is done by what is called "ftp." I use Kompozer for editing, and a separate program for sending by ftp (which just means "file transfer protocol"). The site manager sidebar in Kompozer works fine for this, but is missing one option: automatically send all updated pages.

If you want a one-click solution that will automatically update your website with whatever changes you have made, read this article about using a separate program for ftp. Works on Window, Mac, Linux, etc.

Use design templates to create your own site

Here are some great sites that give away excellent free website designs:

Alternatives for free WYSIWYG design software for creating an add-free site on your own domain

Blogger is one service that lets you have your own domain, and still use their hosting, templates and editor. Unlike many other free services, they don't require you to show their ads. Some I've seen that look like a good fit (but that I haven't tried) include:
Continuing education and advanced techniques


Read more!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Is your website down for everyone, or just for you?

Is your website down? Or is it just you?

Click here to find out if your site is down for others.

How to test your website

I've given this link to so many people I thought I'd just create a post for it. Here's what you do:

  1. Copy the URL (address) of your site;
  2. Click over to the website test page and paste the URL to check into the test box;
  3. See if your site is down for others, or just for you.

Read more!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Website and logo design

Here are a few websites I've designed:


Here are some logos I've designed:

Read more!

The best free FTP program you never heard of

This program automatically sends any files that have changed to your server. Make a change, click, it's done. Wonderfully simple and easy, and the ftp itself is faster and easier than many other programs, such as Dreamweaver.

You won't find it in any directories of ftp programs

Why? Because it's a full-featured XHTML editor that works on many platforms. Not to disparage it as an XHTML editor (for example, it includes features such as HTML Beautify, HTML Validate and jump to closing tag), but I use it almost exclusively for ftp.

It's called Arachnophilia, it's been around forever, and you can download the free self-installer for Windows here, and download it for other platforms as a Java .jar (Mac, Linux, etc.) here.

Once you have installed and opened the program, Alt-F opens the FTP service window. Simply type in your settings, click "Rehearse" (to see which files will be sent) and then click "Execute." It's lightning fast.

Ridiculously easy to use and setup

I've circled the key ares in blue below when you first set up the Arachnophila FTP service:

  1. When you first enter settings, the window does NOT offer to save your settings, but they are saved nonetheless. Don't bother looking around for some kind of "save my setttings" button--there isn't one. Just select a site number, and type in a name, and after you're done and come back to this dialog box, your settings will be there waiting for you.
  2. Be sure to click the "Save password" checkbox for your convenience.
  3. The "Level" slider will NOT show enough detail for you to see what's happening unless you slide it most or all of the way to the right.
  4. Before you click "Execute," which will upload all your changed files, click "Rehearse." Among other things, this will tell you how many files will be uploaded. There are a number of oversights you can make that would cause unexpected files to be uploaded. For example, you might have moved some files over to your ftp location without thinking that they would appear to Arachnophilia as "new" files that need to be uploaded. There might be files you meant to delete, but didn't. And so forth.

Tips and tricks

It allows you to save up to 32 presets, so I commonly set up several presets for different folders within each website I work on. Remember to uncheck "Scan subdirectories" if you only want it to look in the main folder. Even if you don't change much in the subdirectories, it's easier to maintain if you limit the files it checks.

The first time you run it, of course, it will ask to upload all files in the directory you point it to, because it has no record of which files have been uploaded before. Simplest is just to let it upload everything, even though this will overwrite your remote files on the web server unnecessarily with your local files.

Read more!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blogger blog tips and tricks to get more traffic and other improvements

Note: all these short tutorials  are for "new blogger" also called "layouts" and may not work for "classic templates" also called "original blogger." If you want to upgrade (recommended!) follow Google's instructions here

Want to encourage others to start blogging? The last tip is a 90-second video to creating your first blog!

Here are some of the tips in this article:

  1. Find great free custom templates for your blog.
  2. How to view your layout HTML to make changes.
  3. What to do if you get errors.
  4. Get more traffic from search engines by making the title tag of your web page the same as the title of your post.
  5. When several posts are showing on the home page, have each offer a "Read more" link.
  6. Changing or hiding the Google navbar at the top of the page.
  7. Easier post editing.
  8. Fixing the "Tag is not closed" error
You might also be interested in:
1. Get a free custom design for your blog

  1.  70 Great designs from around the web
  2. Some very nice free designs by Blogger Tricks.com 
  3. Classic designs from Free Blogger Templates
  4. Most favorited designs at BlogSkins.com
  5. Designs by one of Google's chosen designers 
  6. Simple templates from eBlog templates
2. Start by viewing the layout HTML so you can make changes

To make these changes, you'll need to be in the Layout / Edit HTML tab in the blogger editor, which looks something like this:

Be sure to click the "Download Full Template" link and save the file before continuing. This is a backup of your site layout that you can use to go back to before you made changes, in case you make a mistake.

To get started, from the Edit HTML page, click the small checkbox to expand Widget Templates, which looks something like this:

Once that's done, you should be able to see and edit all the code necessary for these tips to work. Here's a brief introduction to what a lot of the code on your page is there for:

The <body> area of your template is mostly (1) sections and (2) widgets.
  1. Sections mark out page areas like the sidebar, footer, etc.
  2. Widgets are an single page elements like a picture, blogroll, or anything else you can add from the Page Elements tab. You can include any HTML you like around the sections in your template.
Each section in your template has an opening and a closing tag, looking something like this:

<b:section id='header' class='header' maxwidgets="1" showaddelement="no">

3. What to do if you get errors
Errors are not uncommon, but can often be worked around, or will clear themselves up.

General tips:
  1. Close the page that is giving you a problem and try again in a few minutes.
  2. Log out and log back in again.
  3. Check the unfixed issues page.
  4. Rebooting your computer is one option, but usually the issue can be made to go away without that.

Getting an error message page?
  1. Trying going back one page (leave the error message page) and refreshing the page, then trying what you did again. You can click the refresh button, or press the single F5 key at the top of your keyboard. (You can also hold down the Ctrl key on a Windows computer while pressing the F5 key.)
  2. Switch to a different browser before trying again. Try switching between Internet Explorer (or Maxthon) and Firefox (or Flock).
  3. Clear cache (delete temporary Internet files) and cookies in Tools-Internet Options.
    Not seeing the latest update?
    1. Add a question mark to the end of your blog's internet address in the address box and check again.
    2. If you're in classic Blogger, try republishing
      4. Get more traffic from search engines by making the title tag of your web page the same as the title of your post.

      This helps search engines show searchers the topic of each post you've written. Otherwise they may just show the name of your blog for every post. After this change, search engines should show searchers the actual title of the blog post on the search engine results page. Here's a before and after example:

      Here's what you do. First, search for this text:


      And replace it with this text:

      <b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == "item"'>
      <title><data:blog.pageName/> | <data:blog.title/></title>

      Now the title of your post will also be the title of each web page, followed by the name of your blog. If you want to eliminate the name of your blog from the title of your web pages entirely, use this as a replacement instead:

      <b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == "item"'>
      <title><data:blog.pageName/> | <data:blog.title/></title>

      5. When several posts are showing on the home page, have each offer a "Read more" link.

      This is a more advanced technique. Note that this won't affect a page that is just a single post. Read Google's tutorial if you're having trouble. Here's the abbreviated version of what to do:

      Step 1 of 3: Add the below to your style sheet. If you know what you're doing, you won't need the <style> and </style> tags, but if it isn't working, try it with these:

      <b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == "item"'> 
      span.fullpost {display:inline;}
      span.fullpost {display:none;} 

      Step 2 of 3: Add the following code to your template, somewhere after the <data:post.body> tag:

      <b:if cond="data:blog.pageType != "item"">
      <a expr:href="data:post.url" href="">Read more!</a>

      Step 3 of 3: Then add span tags to each post, so they look something like this when viewed on the "Edit HTML" tab of the blogger editor:

      Here is the beginning of my post. <span class="fullpost">And here is the rest of it.</span>

      Tip: You have to be working in the "Edit HTML" tab of the blogger editor, and you should make adding the fullpost span code the last thing you do: DO NOT switch to the "Compose" tab once the span tag has been added. The editor may remove the fullpost span code if you do. Google will probably eventually fix this, but for now, you have to make your final changes from the "Edit HTML" tab and then click "PUBLISH POST" when done.

      Here's Google's tutorial on this effect, which they call creating expandable post summaries.

      6. Hide the Google bar at the top of the page

      Note that Google discourages this, but specifies that it is NOT against their terms of service. Also realize you can change the color from Layout / Page Elements, and clicking on the "Edit" link for the Navbar page element. You have your choice of Blue, Tan, Black, or Silver.
      1. Blocking the "next blog" link. Google's method for blocking it on a LAN.
      2. Completely hiding the Navbar: one method.
      7. Easier post editing

      Make the box you type and edit in larger:
      Pressing down with the mouse and dragging on the tiny gripping lines showing on the lower-right box corner (shown below)

      Easier image dragging:
      Making the editing box bigger helped, but also try pressing the enter key on your keyboard to add more lines of space where you want the image to go. Delete the extra lines of space when you're done.

      Use keyboard shortcuts:
      To use these, hold down the "Ctrl" key on your keyboard while pressing:
      • shift + a = Link
      • l = Blockquote, when in HTML-mode only (this is the lower-case letter "L")
      • shift + p = Preview
      • d = Save as Draft
      • p = Publish Post
      Some keyboard shortcuts you probably already use in other programs also work in blogger. Again, hold down the "Ctrl" key on your keyboard while pressing any of these keys:
      • s = Autosave and keep editing
      • b = Bold
      • i = Italic
      • z = Undo
      • y = Redo
      8. Fixing the "Tag is not closed ... " error

      Here's what the beginning of a typical error message of this type looks like:

      If you switch back and forth between Edit HTML and Compose modes, in some situations blogger will remove some closing tags. They are easy to type back in.

      When you see the error, just scroll down until you see the text that blogger has highlighted for you as being in error.

      If the tag not closed starts with an embed (I've shown this below highlighted in green) near the end of the text blogger highlighted as in error, you'll need to add a closing embed tag (highlighted in yellow below). If there is a div tag at the very end, type your just in front of it, as shown. Click the picture below for an enlarged version.

      So that you can encourage other to blog, here's a 90-second video on how to create your first blog on blogger:

      Read more!

      Saturday, September 06, 2008

      What you can do easily and cheaply when "Check engine" lights up on your car dashboard?

      What should you do when your check engine light comes on? At this point the OBD (on-board diagnostics) in your car have logged a code providing information about the cause of the light coming on.

      The first step is to get the code checked for free, then read about the code on the internet, and finally reset the light to see if it comes back.

      Once you're done, use what you found in reading about the code on the internet to decide whether to see a shop or not, and what to ask them to do. Or, if you're fairly sure that you're not going to learn anything new, you might just want to reset the light to see if it comes back.

      Get the code checked for free

      Here you have two choices. You can do it yourself, or find someone to do it for you free. Some auto parts stores will read the code for free, as will some oil change places, and a few similar businesses. Virtually all places that work with cars have what is know as an OBD scan tool for doing this.

      Make a few calls, because those that won't read it free often charge more than the cost of buying your own code reader! You can buy your own reader for as little as $40, but getting the code read can cost $50-90. Try searching for "scan tool obd"  or similar if you want to buy your own. They're easy to use, and worth having. You can help friends get their code read once you have one.

      Learn what the code means

      Once you get the code, search the internet for that code to learn more. Many causes of the check engine light going on are not serious or harmful, yet many shops are trained to use any code as an excuse to sell you things you don't need.

      Easily reset the check engine light yourself

      Open the hood, remove only the positive terminal of the battery, wait 10-15 minutes, re-connect and the check engine light should be off. Some suggest making the disconnection for only 5-10 minutes, and turning on the headlights during that time. Some find even less time works. It depends on your vehicle.

      Read more!

      Wednesday, September 03, 2008

      Google Chrome descends from the Mother Ship: 10 reasons to try this browser

      Are you a geek? Start with this comic book explanation of Google Chrome. (Seen the comic? Try this parody of it. Or this one.) Looking for a slightly longer review?

      Most of us already have several programs that browse the web (browsers). Why download another browser?

      If you use more than one browser, I recommend using Google Chrome. I have set my Gmail notifier to show me email in chrome, for example.

      Ten Reasons

      Here are the reasons, in order of importance, I think you should consider downloading and trying Google Chrome:
      1. More secure by design. Very important!
      2. Better protection from crashes by design;
      3. Makes your computer run faster (uses less memory);
      4. Runs advanced web pages very fast: Test results. (okay, soon Firefox will too, but Chrome is poised to get very fast);
      5. The best pop-up blocking ;
      6. Fast browsing (page loading, memory leak protection);
      7. Better search features (such as automating Open Search sites);
      8. Useful features not found on other browsers, although you can enable a lot of similar features using Firefox add-ons;
      9. It's open source;
      10. It's easier for developers to create for (incorporates Google Gears).
      However, I'm going to wait until they add a few more features (and it's been tested a little longer--today is day 1) before installing this for my mother. Here's another review: 7 reasons for, 7 reasons against.

      How much faster is it TODAY?

      Does Google Chrome have a security problem ?

      Note that you actually have to have Internet Explorer installed for this to work, although in principle it could take advantage of other programs.

      So here's the story: Currently, there are places all over the internet that offer harmful files for you to download. Google does a better job than any other company at identifying which web sites have harmful files, and has integrated this nicely into Chrome: they warn you about these places before you can browse to their pages.

      So, to get a harmful file onto your computer, and get it cause harm, you have to:
      1. Click a link to reach a page with a link click that will download a file;
      2. Have your browser fail to warn you that the page has harmful files on it;
      3. Click the link on that page to open a box asking you to download the file;
      4. Click "Save" in the box that pops up, authorizing Windows to save that file;
      5. Have your anti-virus program fail to block the program from downloading;
      6. Find that file on your computer and try to run it;
      7. Have your anti-virus program fail to stop the program from running.
      If you make it through all seven of these steps, it doesn't matter what your browser is. These steps have nothing to do with Google Chrome.

      So, how does the "Carpet Bombing" problem with Google's Chrome make these steps worse? In step #3 above, the download box opens automatically, but only if it's a particular type of file (java JAR). Everything else is the same. That's all!

      How bad is this, really?

      This problem has been known about for awhile now, and was left unfixed by Apple in their Safari browser for several weeks. Microsoft reports that there is no known example of anyone being affected by this (read their advisory about it).

      If you manage to find and click on harmful links without realizing and save harmful stuff, and run it on your computer, harmful things can happen. Having the download box open automatically when you reach a page seems as likely to RAISE suspicion as to trick you into clicking "Save."

      Furthermore, if you try to run the file from within Google Chrome, Windows Explorer will show a warning (that Google Chrome passed to it) that this file was downloaded from the Internet. (If you close Chrome and browse to it, Windows Explorer will run it without warning).

      Read more!

      Tuesday, August 19, 2008

      Fixing YouTube videos in Firefox by reinstalling Adobe Flash Player

      If you upgrade to the latest (beta 10) version of Adobe Flash player, it fixes the problem of videos occasionally not playing in Firefox.

      Here's how to do it:

      From this link, run the flash uninstaller, and then get version 10 here go here and download flash beta 10.

      Read more!

      Thursday, August 14, 2008

      The Corporation. At the core of good and bad in the world today?

      The Movie shown free below has won
      26 International Awards and
      10 Audience Choice Awards.

      If the dominant institution of our time has been created in the image of a psychopath, who bears the moral responsibility for its actions? When measured against norms for individuals, many corporation are prototypical psychopaths:

      Yet Corporations also do essential good for society. Corporate CEOs discuss how this is true, and what they do about it, because the Corporation is legally bound to put it's short-term financial well-being ahead of all else, including life, liberty and property of others.  The movie also discusses the benefits of having everything owned. 

      The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future of the modern business corporation and the increasing role it plays in society and our everyday lives:

      Institutions can be monstrous, but be peopled with individuals who are benevolent as individuals. But in their institutional role, they are monsters, if the institution they work for is monstrous. Agree? Disagree? Comment!

      Read more!

      Wednesday, August 13, 2008

      Before there was Photoshop, before there was photography, there was artistry


      Read more!

      The future of the internet, without hype

      A search engine that does simpler and easier what Google and WikiPedia cannot do, but humans need to have done. This is going to be the foundation for hundreds of future search engines. Freebase Parallax search page.

      Read more!

      Tuesday, August 12, 2008

      The difference between your life and a cartoon?

      Who hasn't seen these "fatal" accidents befall one of their favorite cartoon characters?
      1. He falls out out of plane, but lands in a giant haystack and walks away with only minor injuries.
      2. A giant oncoming truck forces him to drive his car off a cliff, but he somehow falls out of the car, catches safely on a convenient tree branch, and watches the car explode in flames 300 feet below.
      3. His train derails at high speed and plunges into an icy river, and he's found with his arm in a funny position, but only scrapes and bruises otherwise.
      4. A flame thrower blasts him in the face at short range, but he only loses some hair and ends up covered in soot. Alternatively, his car is engulfed in flames, and he walks away unharmed.
      5. He's hit by a bus, but suffers only minor injuries.
      6. Of course, after suffering through a bunch of these, the happy ending has the character being given exactly one million dollars.
      What do these six cartoon events have in common?

      Even in a movie (like "Unbreakable") it's too unbelievable to see stuff like this happening to a real person, right? Hold on ...

      The answer is they actually happened in real life, and although 37 people died in the various accidents, at least one person did survive each time.

      But, most amazing of all ...

      They didn't just happen, they all happened to the SAME man: Frane Selak, a Croatian music teacher (what would a cartoon be without music?). And they happened exactly as described above.

      Frane (pictured above at left) was born in 1929, and in January, 1962, his "luck" changed for the first time. He was riding a train (#3 below).

      Real life events more amazing than any movie

      Here's his amazing story, exactly following the cartoon events listed above:
      1. FELL OUT OF A PLANE: How? A DOOR blew out on a plane flying from Zagreb to Rijeka in 1963. While it was flying. At high speed. High above the earth. Etc., etc., etc. Twenty people were sucked out to a certain death, because, c'mon, how's he gonna survive that?
        Oh wait. That's exactly what happened. Only 19 people died, because, I kid you not, #20 was Frane, and he landed in a giant haystack and walked away.

      2. DROVE OFF A CLIFF: What can I say? The truck, the cliff, caught in the tree, the car exploding 300 feet below, all true. That's exactly what happened to him in 1996.

      3. TRAIN PLUNGED INTO RIVER: Yup, in 1962 nineteen people faced likely death when their moving train derailed and plunged into an icy river, but only eighteen died, because when they found #19, it was Frane. His arm was broken, but he had just a few scrapes and bruises otherwise.

      4. FLAMETHROWER IN FACE: As amazing as the others are, I know you've been asking, c'mon, a flamethrower? Okay, this was a car fire forced through air vents, but if that happened in YOUR face, I think you'd agree that "flamethrower" is a pretty good description. Happened to Frane in 1973. He lost most of his hair but had no other injuries.

        ENGULFED IN FLAMES: Of course, by this point in his life, flames in a car weren't that big a deal for Frane. Three years earlier his car was engulfed in flames from a faulty fuel pump. He escaped, and walked away unharmed.

      5. HIT BY A BUS: Yup, in 1995 he was hit by a city bus and suffered only minor injuries

      6. AN EVEN MILLION: In 2003, Frane won EXACTLY $1,000,000 dollars in the Croatian lottery. Almost like a heavenly award at that point!
      World's luckiest man? Or unluckiest?

      Considering what he's been through, surviving mortal terror without a heart attack is probably is among his greatest achievements.

      "I know God was watching me over all these years," Frane said, and has reputedly refused to fly to Australia to air on a Doritos commercial, saying he "didn't want to test his luck."

      Finally, for the big question: Good luck, or bad? We'll give Frane the final word. "I prefer to be called the world's luckiest man," he said, admitting that some people call him "The World's Unluckiest Man."

      So, how's YOUR luck?

      Read more!

      Wednesday, August 06, 2008

      Saturday morning breakfast cereal cartoons

      Read more!

      How many people has Yahoo! Answers killed?

      It's a given if you give enough bad advice to enough people, you'll eventually be responsible for injuries and death.

      So, my question is, how many people has Yahoo! Answers killed to date? People there give awful, completely uninformed advice, and then Yahoo! promotes the answers to get more traffic for Yahoo!

      Here's one example of Yahoo! morons harming people and encouraging others to do the same. Really saddens me. I'm not talking about just a librarian's worst nightmare here.

      Got more examples? Add your comments. While it's true people are responsible for themselves, we've all been fooled by bad advice at some point or other. Especially when we're vulnerable or distracted. Yahoo! Answers needs big, huge honking warning labels at LEAST.

      And of course people giving excellent information are sometimes suspended without reason given, while racists get high rankings. Can you say "Game the system?" There is so much wrong with Yahoo! Answers it's hard to know where to start.

      Read more!

      Tuesday, August 05, 2008

      A better search engine than Google?

      With all the buzz about Cuil, I feel I've just got to point out the obvious: If you're looking for great search results for popular search terms, be sure to search on Delicious.com as well as use the search function of Stumbleupon. Single keywords in Stumbleupon can produce very different results than Google. Delicious.com, if you didn't know, is a collection of the favorite sites of people who browse the web a lot. Alltop.com is a newer and somewhat similar site, in directory form. And if you have the Stumbleupon toolbar installed, some of your Google search results may be ranked by Stumbleupon rating, which is a big help at times.

      Google's search results sometimes have a commercial bias that is rarer on Delicious. Once you get the feel for what you'll find on Delicious, you'll often appreciate the results you get by doing both a Google and a Delicious search, rather than just a Google search alone.

      After Ballmer's recent explanation of Microsoft's non-strategy, makes you wonder if part of their reason for going after Yahoo! was to get resources like Delicious, which Yahoo! acquired at the end of 2005!

      Read more!

      Thursday, July 31, 2008

      Internet humor: The early years

      [thumb] do you know of any major organizations that are similar to the CDC?
      [lucent] like who?
      [thumb] center for disease control
      [lucent] i said WHO
      [thumb] what? i'm asking you
      [lucent] The World Health Organization!

      [kritical] Christin1: you need to learn how to figure out stuff yourself..
      [Christin1] how do i do that

      Interactions like that are why I consistently go back to Bash.org, (TJBash.org is a similar site) a repository of (often geeky) things people have written (said) on different chat systems. While the internet is known for having several exabytes of humor websites, real conversations are the best (including Best of CraigsList). Another one I've enjoyed recently is High School metaphors, such as "He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something."

      Here's a few recent favorites from Bash.org:

      (morganj): 0 is false and 1 is true, correct?
      (alec_eso): 1, morganj
      (morganj): bastard.

      [sui88] 67% of girls are stupid
      [v-girl] i belong with the other 13%

      [skrike] I think the people above me are having sex
      [skrike] either that or they're sleeping restlessly and agreeing with each other a lot.

      [jeebus] the "bishop" came to our church today
      [jeebus] he was a damn impostor
      [jeebus] never once moved diagonally

      [malaclypse] The general rule on about people on IRC seems to be "Attractive, single, mentally stable: choose two"

      [fulgore] whats the complement to a 43 degree angle?
      [sparks] My you're looking "acute" today

      * nickname has joined #mp3friendschat
      [nickname] word
      [bobbbit10] excel?
      [Davman] rofl

      [insomniak`] Stupid Google
      [insomniak`] "The" is a common word, and was not included in your search
      [insomniak`] "Who" is a common word, and was not included in your search

      [glacial] I love school
      [glacial] Today our term paper due date's set
      [glacial] Our instructor says that we WILL hand in the paper on time, and she'll accept no excuses except illness, with a note from our doctor, or a death in the immediate family, with a note from the dead member.
      [glacial] So this wiseass pipes up: "What about extreme sexual exhaustion?"
      [glacial] She waits for the laughs to die down and says:
      [glacial] "Well, I guess you'll have to learn to write with your other hand."

      [masterg] .....................................................................
      [judas] where's pacman when you need him?

      [reuben] somebody keeps jiggling the doorknob on my front door, then running away
      [reuben] i don't know if i should call the police, or hook up some electricity to the doorknob
      [cristobal] why don't you put ice on the stairs
      [cristobal] and heat up the door knob
      [cristobal] and swing paint buckets down from your two story foyer
      [cristobal] then a few years later, fade from the public eye.....

      [reverend] IRC is just multiplayer notepad.

      [sonium] someone speak python here?
      [lucky] HHHHHSSSSSHSSS
      [lucky] SSSSS
      [sonium] the programming language

      [axe] I
      [axe] do
      [axe] not
      [axe] know
      [axe] where
      [axe] family
      [axe] doctors
      [axe] acquired
      [axe] illegibly
      [axe] perplexing
      [axe] handwriting;
      [axe] nevertheless,
      [axe] extraordinary
      [axe] pharmaceutical
      [axe] intellectuality,
      [axe] counterbalancing
      [axe] indecipherability,
      [axe] transcendentalizes
      [axe] intercommunications'
      [axe] incomprehensibleness.
      [jedihobbes] woah
      [jedihobbes] *blinks*

      [locke|away] I found a note in one of my old word .docs that said Note to self: Get revenge on Valvados.
      [locke|away] Except I couldn't remember what I was supposed to get revenge for.
      [locke|away] But I trusted my own judgment, so I went with it.
      [valvados] ...
      [valvados] o.o
      [valvados] hmm
      [valvados] i dunno what you were supposed to get revenge for, either
      [locke|away] I can only assume you got what was coming to you. Not 100 percent sure, though.
      [valvados] well, whatever i did, i guess i deserved it
      [locke|away] Let that possibly be a lesson to you.

      [xnd] Personally its not God I dislike, its his fan club I cant stand

      [patrician|away] what does your robot do, sam
      [bovril] it collects data about the surrounding environment, then discards it and drives into walls

      [pihlopase] Jesus Saves
      [jbroome] passes to Moses, SCOOOOORE!!

      [tsk] oiuyniyu98h987h89yh87y98yjn987j987y897yhkiuk;''''
      [tsk] sorry.. there was a spider on my keyboard.

      [tag] Ouroboros: lets play Pong
      [ouroboros] Ok.
      [tag] | .
      [ouroboros] . |
      [tag] | .
      [ouroboros] . |
      [tag] | .
      [ouroboros] | .
      [ouroboros] Whoops

      *** Topic in #doghouse is 'Our hearts are extended to the 17 victims of the recent internet fraud'
      * Anubis has joined #doghouse
      [anubis] what fraud?
      [kadmium] You haven't heard about it?
      [anubis] no?
      [kadmium] You can read the full story at http://www.evilfraud.com
      [anubis] omg wtf is that!
      *** Kadmium changes topic to 'Our hearts are extended to the 18 victims of the recent internet fraud'

      From TJBash.org:

      Mrs. Bello: Conversation is an essential skill. Does anyone disagree?
      Student: *timidly raises hand*
      Mrs. Bello: Do you want to elaborate?
      Student: No.

      // On reading "A Tale of Two Cities"
      Mr. Maney: It was the best of times, it was a waste of time.

      Andrew: I'm not stupid, I just don't do things as better than anyone.

      $: Someone told me that people who curse are just lacking vocabulary skills...
      Mike: ...I'm gonna ****ing defenestrate you.

      Mr. McFaden: *walking through a chattering class, very quietly* Sex.
      Class: *keeps talking, does not notice*
      Mr. McFaden: *still very quietly* Extra credit.
      Class: *perks up* Did you say extra credit? What?
      Mr. McFaden: From a biological standpoint, that's just WRONG.

      // Taken from a student's personal information sheets handed out by Dr. Jones on the first day of class
      Form: Please list three characteristics that describe yourself.
      1. indecisive
      2. __________
      3. __________

      // English class, discussing the 7th circle of the Inferno
      Mrs. Bello: So here the people who practiced sodomy are punished with fire.
      Student: So would it be okay to call them flaming homosexuals?

      Mr. Stueben:
      It has come to my attention that some students do not like my quizzes. Consequently, until morale improves, all quiz questions will be written in Mandarin Chinese. Good luck!
      DIRECTIONS: Choose the best answer to the following question from the choices below.
      (Chinese text you don't need to know to solve it--yes, there is only one correct answer.)
      A. All of the below.
      B. None of the below.
      C. All of the above.
      D. One of the above.
      E. None of the above.
      F. None of the above.

      I just read that last year 4,153,237 people got married. I don't want to start any trouble, but shouldn't that be an even number?

      Read more!