Capturing the Moments Of Your Life

DMC-TZ3At the end of May, I’ll be rafting down the “Rogue River (Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest)”:rogue in southern Oregon. I am looking forward to what should be a wonderful adventure with good friends, and to seeing more of Oregon’s beautiful landscape. The trip deserves to be well documented, so I stocked up on “Moleskine Cahiers (Moleskine Cahiers)”:moleskine journals and purchased a new “Fisher Stowaway (Fisher Space Pen – Adventure Pen)”:stowaway pen.

I got to thinking about photos. I’ve been using an old 2.1-megapixel camera for the last few years, and while it’s sufficient for shooting pictures at the kid’s sporting events, it is not the best camera for capturing truly beautiful photos. It was time to update. I set out to find point-and-shoot in the 7+ megapixel range that is easy to handle, has a big zoom range, good image quality, and of course, works with Linux.

Continue reading “Capturing the Moments Of Your Life”

Tip of the Day: Cleaning An LCD Display

After cleaning my laptop’s LCD(Liquid Crystal Display) several times with “Windex (Glass Cleaner by Windex)”:windex, a fair amount of streaking built up, making the display far less than perfect. A quick “search (Google: clean lcd screen)”:search suggested a 50/50 mix of “isopropyl alcohol (Wikipedia: isopropyl alcohol)”:isoalc and distilled water was the best solution for safely, and effectively cleaning LCD displays.

After mixing a batch, and tearing up an old cotton T-shirt, I gave it a try. At first pass, the streaking was minimized, but still there. I applied a more generous amount of solution to the cloth and went at it again. After some light rubbing the streaks were gone, and the display is good as new.

[search]http://www.google.com/search?q=clean+lcd+screen
[windex]http://www.windex.com/
[isoalc]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isopropyl_alcohol

Tip of the Day: Select Multiple Messages in Gmail

I find myself often deleting a large series of emails from a rather noisy mailing list, while retaining some messages previously received. Since “Gmail’s (Gmail)”:gmail selection buttons are limited to All, None, Read, Unread, Starred, and Unstarred, I’m forced to press the ‘x’ key, or click a check box for every email in the series.

There is a better way. Select the first message in the series and then hold the Shift key while clicking the check box next to the last message. This combination selects all messages between the first and last.

Although this is a standard UI behavior, I have been unable to locate any documentation that mentions this method of selecting messages is available. I wish that Shift + x worked the same way.

[gmail]http://mail.google.com

Tip of the Day: Secure Your Gmail

From the “Why Didn’t I Think of That” department: “GMailSecure (Userscripts.org: GMailSecure)”:gs has got to be one of the most elegantly simple, yet useful “Greasemonkey (Greasespot.net)”:gm scripts ever.

When I say simple, I mean one line of code:

location.href = location.href.replace(/^http:/, 'https:');

This script ensures your “Gmail (Gmail)”:http://mail.google.com session using “Firefox (Mozilla Firefox)”:firefox takes place over a “secure HTTP (Wikipedia: https)”:https connection providing a reasonable amount of protection from eavesdropping and other shenanigans. Add other domains for which both a http and https URI(Uniform Resource Identifier) exist and Firefox will always use https. For example, I added:

http://www.google.com/calendar/*
http://docs.google.com/
http://docs.google.com/*

Now all “Google Calendar (Google Calendar)”:gcal and “Google Docs & Spreadsheets (Google Docs & Spreadsheets)”:gdocs sessions are secure. But don’t stop there, any domain will work… not just the “Google (Google)”:http://www.google.com properties.

Download links: “Greasemonkey (Download Greasemonkey)”:gm (install this first), “GMailSecure (Install GMailSecure)”:gmsdl

[gms]http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/1404
[gs]http://www.greasespot.net/
[gm]http://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/748/
[gmsdl]http://userscripts.org/scripts/source/1404.user.js
[https]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Https
[firefox]http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/
[gcal]http://www.google.com/calendar/
[gdocs]http://docs.google.com/

Site Functioning Normally

According to Dreamhost, the slowdown my site experienced earlier was due to “IO requests getting backed up due to networking issues between [my] HTTP server and the File server.” Things are fine now; let’s hope they stay that way.

IMified Down

Just as I begin to rely on it, IMified is down. It was hit-and-miss for me all weekend, and completely down today. I guess that’s why it’s called beta.

Site slow today…

Every page on my site is taking for-flippin’-ever to load. What’s the deal?! Sent support request to “Dreamhost (Dreamhost)”:http://www.dreamhost.com… 4 hours 27 minutes later and not a word. Tweaked “wp-cache (WP-Cache 2.1)”:http://mnm.uib.es/gallir/posts/2007/01/31/963/ and enabled “FastCGI (FastCGI home)”:http://www.fastcgi.com, but still no joy. Are all the “rants (Google:dreamhost+sucks)”:http://www.google.com/search?q=dreamhost+sucks about Dreamhost right?

Merrily Meandering Once More

I can’t really remember when it started, but I think it was 2001 when I pressed the publish button, sending my first post into the blogosphere. Using an early version of “Movable Type (Movable Type)”:http://www.movabletype.org I began crafting the blog that became known as dotDrivel. Initially an online journal, dotDrivel eventually morphed into collection of musings and links related to technology. It wasn’t huge—the “cool kids” didn’t hang out there—but at its peak I had a few dozen followers. Sadly, when I switched to “Dreamhost (Dreamhost)”:http://www.dreamhost.com a few months ago, dotDrivel ceased to exist (although it is safely archived and may be reanimated someday).

Shortly after moving to Oregon in 2005, during what seemed like a season of change in nearly every area of my life, “mitch’s meanderings (mitch’s meanderings)”:http://mitch.contlafamily.com/ “began life (The very first post)”:http://mitch.contlafamily.com/2005/12/31/test-post/. I switched to “WordPress (WordPress)”:http://wordpress.org mostly because of the positive buzz surrounding the platform, but I also had a desire to learn PHP(PHP Hypertext Preprocessor). The overall tone was much like my original blog, once again focusing mostly on technology.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the line, blogging stopped being fun. Finding the time, and even something I felt passionate enough to write about became a chore. Days between posts became months, and soon my blog was nothing more than an automated posting of “del.icio.us (del.icio.us)”:http://del.icio.us “links (del.icio.us links)”:http://mitch.contlafamily.com/category/links/delicious/. Even that came to a stop late last year. It seems I was suffering from burnout, or as I like to call it, Blogout™.

But there’s change in the air. The sun has begun to shine, and once again I feel a desire to express myself online. The posts are beginning to spring forth, and I’m full of inspiration (or something). This time things will be different. Going forward, there will still be lots of technology related topics to discuss, but I also plan to include more about the things that are important to me (family, friends, church, music), and living life here in Portland.

So come on in. Make yourself comfortable. Let’s talk.

Have We Lost The Spam War?

This “post (Email as we know it is doomed)”:http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/008681.html on “Jeremy Zawodny’s blog (Jeremy Zawodny’s blog)”:http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/ got me thinking about spam. I feel Jeremy’s pain, the problem he describes is troublesome,

bq. It used to be a rare occurrence that a message I sent didn’t make it to the intended recipient’s inbox because of some overly aggressive filtering. No more. It seems to be happening on a weekly (almost daily) basis now.

What happens when messages you originate no longer make it to the inbox, but instead are dumped into a Junk mail folder with dozens (or hundreds) of other messages? Is everyone diligent about routinely scanning through spam to make sure nothing is overlooked? How can you be sure it won’t be missed among so much garbage?

It’s all fun and games until your outgoing messages are lost.

In “Another War We’re Not Winning: Us vs Spam (Another War We’re Not Winning: Us vs Spam)”:http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/03/another_war_wer.html, after learning how much spam hits the servers at O’Reilly, Dave Doughtery asks,

bq. [Is] the situation as bad as I thought it might be? In short, the answer is yes, which only makes me wonder why more people aren’t talking about it.

Why aren’t people talking about it? Because we’ve accepted it.

The email inbox is one of the most accurate virtual instances of a real life object — the traditional mail box. Junk mail has always been part of the package, and we have all been perfectly willing to sort through coupons, advertisements, credit card applications, real estate ads, catalogues (from the store we bought something at years ago), and anything else our friendly postal carrier can stuff in the box. It’s just a fact of life. Why would email be any different?

I don’t think we’ve lost the war… I don’t think it was a war. We are simply faced with a reality that comes with almost every form of communication in a world where so many vie for our attention.

I still walk to my mail box every day, I still answer my phone, and even after filtering and sifting through the spam, I still read and respond to my email. And I know that there are smart people out there that will find ways to make email more reliable. While I realize that none of the solutions proposed so far have gained much acceptance or momentum, I think things will change. As “Eric Allman (Eric Allman)”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Allman summarized,

bq. I still get junk phone calls, but the phone system is reasonably usable today. I think that spam can get to that level.

I agree.

There is no doubt the system needs work. Alternate forms of communication like IM, SMS(Short Messaging Service) will gain mind share and acceptance, but I still like to know “I’ve got mail”.

PS. Please check your inbox, I forwarded you an email from a Nigerian prince whose father has been dethroned but has some stock tips and a large amount of Viagra he’d like to get out of the country. I think we can help him.