Passing thoughts of a Pageminder — MindBlog

MindBlog Archives
August 3 - 30, 2002

Previous passing thoughts of a Pageminder

08.30.02 - 6:10 pm (CT)
New toy, folks! I've been playing with Easy Thumbnails by Fookes.com. This program is so easy to use that my 85 year old mother could use it — okay, okay, so that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but it is easy to use — and a snap to download, install, and, the biggie, it's FREE. As for how well it works, you be the judge. Here are four screen shots of my four websites, all done a little while ago.

Just click on an image to compare with the original screen shot - it opens a new window and, depending on how fast your connection is, you may just have time to get a snack, go to the bathroom, or make a phone call. (Note: I practice what I preach.)

WebPageminders.com - opens original screen shot; 153K WebPageminders

Thumbnail: 124x150, 6K

Original: 655x790, 153K
MindBlog.com - opens original screen shot; 106K MindBlog

Thumbnail: 128x150, 6K

Original: 655x770, 106K
Pageminders.com - opens original screen shot; 139K Pageminders

Thumbnail: 121x150, 6K

Original: 655x810, 139K
Pageminders.JolietBiz.com - opens original screen shot; 140K Pageminders.

Thumbnail: 129x150, 6K

Original: 655x760, 140K

Another note: This is a good side-by-side example of a redesign — WebPageminders was the original design. (However, as of 2005, WebPageminders "points" to Pageminders, so either link will take you to Pageminders — JW 12.15.05.)

One click to downsize, then another to save as whatever, and I was done. Yep, it's that easy. It has other features that I have yet to explore such as adjustment of image quality, brightness, contrast, and sharpness; image rotation; support for 10 image formats; and a customizable Web page template that I will probably never use, but who knows. As for the most important thing about any new software installed on my computer... so far, it hasn't screwed up any other programs and everything seems to be running smoothly. However, I will let you know if I run into any problems in the next few weeks.

BTW, I heard about Easy Thumbnails in an email from the HTML validator program that I use to check my code after I've done it all in a text editor (more on that another time). They had just come out with version 5.50 of CSE HTML Validator Professional* and although I had downloaded, installed, and used the new version several days ago, I perused the rest of the email for any items of interest. They had a nice little one sentence write up on Easy Thumbnails and since I'm always looking for new toys to make my life easier, I took a peak and was intrigued enough to try it out.

As for CSE HTML Validator*, I've been using it for over a year now and have found it very useful for catching the occasional elusive missing quotation mark, tag, or other little thing that is easy to overlook and can sometimes really screw up a Web page. It has also come in handy when consulting on pages that I did not code, as it organizes what sometimes looks like pig slop to an organized coder. And my bacon has been saved a few times by the spell and link checkers. I would recommend its use to anyone — new or seasoned html coder — to, at the very least, validate their pages before putting them online. For the occasional or timid user, they do have a free trial version for limited use (100 validations).

And now, I want to play a little more with my new toy to see if I can come up with any other cool uses for it. Top of the page

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08.27.02 - 5:01 pm (CT)
For those of you keeping up with my passing thoughts... Jon and his friends loved skydiving, and I survived. However, it was a very LONG day on Saturday waiting for him to let me know he was not part of a cornfield somewhere southwest of Chicago.

As for today, which is Tuesday for those who are unaware of the day of the week (hi Deb!), I was going over MindBlog's access log report and there it was — someone from Turkey, as in the country, had been to the MindBlog archives! I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, as I've had plenty of site visitors from the UK and Germany, but Turkey? I went to the site where they found the MB archives listed and could not read a word of it, but it was a nice looking site about… I have no idea.

That along with a Builder.com article about Weblogs, "Blogs: More than a trend — a resource", inspired me to do some more site submittals for MindBlog. I'd done a few of the biggies last week — All The Web, Google, Open Directory Project, and Yahoo — but the thought had not crossed my mind since. And, as it usually happens with newsletters, you find a particular article interesting, so you follow a link or two, which leads to one or two more, and so on; the same goes for site submittals.

Well, what caught my eye was a link to a list of blog hosting sites, which was interesting enough, but there I also found a page to list my Weblog and one with a list of Weblog directories. Ah, it was a site submitter's treasure trove. From that one site, I ended up submitting MindBlog (by hand as always, as it is the best way to do submittals — takes a lot more time, but you get better results and a lot less spam) to six directory/list sites and found two more that I have to notify whenever I update my blog to get on their "recently updated" list.

The only downside was two of the six directories require a link back to them, which I have not done before, but decided to give it a whirl. So, heretofore any link that is a reciprocal link will be clearly marked with a brown asterisk (*) and any link that is a "Vote for my Site" link will be clearly marked with a lime green asterisk (*). That said, here is where I found to list MindBlog:

I'm considering this an experiment of sorts — we'll see if traffic increases and where it comes from. (Note: Access logs for websites do indicate which site the visitor came from, so if you've just been somewhere you don't want ANYONE to know about, you might want to close your browser, reopen it, THEN continue your site travels.) Also, we'll see if MailWasher gets a spam workout.

And now, it's a beautiful day, so...POOL TIME! Top of the page

08.24.02 - 8:45 pm (CT)
This morning a saying from one of those No Fear™ t-shirts from the mid 90's came crashing through my thoughts, "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space!" Well, at 7:00 a.m. sharp this dreary Saturday morning my doorbell rang and it was three friends of my middle son, Jon. They were all bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to embark on an adventure. Jon, being Jon, used the doorbell as an alarm clock, but lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it) for me I used the 5 minutes it took him to get ready to find out what adventure these four 21 year old young men thought worthy of getting up so early for on a Saturday morning...SKYDIVING!!!!!

Now, I am not a fan of flying in the first place as falling out of the sky is just not appealing to me — it all has to do with an incident when I was about four years old where I took a "flying lesson" out of a swing. So, somehow doing that on purpose — falling out of the sky, that is — just doesn't seem to be the smartest thing. BTW, I had overheard the words skydiving in the past few weeks, but guys like to talk about a lot of stuff they probably will never do, so I only took note of it and went on about my life until this morning. A quick thought here, maybe since it is a dreary day the skydiving place will cancel...nah, probably not.

Jon has always been my "busy" kid — he scaled my kitchen cabinets at one, climbed my lilac bushes at one and a half, flew from the furniture by the time he was two, was up at the top of the crab apple tree eyeing the roof before he was four, and was on the roof by five. The roof was the toughest one for me and the most satisfying to him, because he knew I would never climb up there to get him. He could sit up there until he felt like coming down or until his dad got home, whichever came first.

Then there was the rope that Santa gave him for Christmas (Note: Why do we do this stuff to ourselves?). He tied it in the tree so he or his brothers could climb up and down, but when he was done, or just wanted to be left alone, he would pull it up on to a branch high enough that no one else could reach it. When he was ready to come down, he would, to his delight and the dismay of his brothers, leave the rope up there and just shinny down that old tree. Later he would just scale right back up that tree and drop the rope for the temporary use of himself and the masses.

Picture this, you're walking down the hall and all of sudden you realize that there is something up at the ceiling --you guessed it — it was little Jonny who, now at 6'5", isn't so little any more. Imagine being a junior high school teacher (with not much of a sense of humor BTW) who walks into his classroom and suddenly realizes that there is a student above him. I got a call on that one, which was really a waste of everyone's time; the guy should have just chuckled and told the kid to get down. As a mom, I've learned not to sweat the little stuff and, quite frankly, that was little stuff. Now, skydiving, that's BIG STUFF!

Back to the t-shirt — I guess Jon is not taking up too much space and I, vicariously through him and my other two sons, am forced on occasions like this to also live on the edge. My kids tell me that there is plenty of room on that edge, however I wouldn't know, as it's hard to see with your eyes closed... I'll just take their word for it. Top of the page

08.23.02 - 6:45 pm (CT)
I have had to keep very busy today as it is back to school day for my youngest son, Bill, who is majoring in mechanical engineering at a university well known for its engineering department. Some day he hopes to use that degree to be a part of Nascar, preferably the driver. His dad started this by giving him, as a high school graduation gift, 15 laps in a real Nascar at the new Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. After a two-hour class, he suited up, drove a total of 16 laps (you have to speed up and slow down), — 165 mph on the straight-aways and 150 mph in the curves — and I survived. Judging by the size of the inside of the car he drove, he'll need a good engineer to re-engineer a Nascar to fit his 6'4" self.

Anyway, it is always hard to see them off, so I kept busy researching and installing a search engine for MindBlog. So, now you can search this site, Pageminders, WebPageminders, or the whole Web right from MindBlog. After checking out numerous search services, I opted for Google's Free WebSearch and SiteSearch. It was relatively painless to register for their service, easy to customize the results page, and a snap to plug in their code. The hardest part was deciding where exactly to put the search box on my page — I finally settled on the navigation bar under Site Tools as it is a logical location and it, with a little tweaking of the code, looked better there than in the header or content portion of the page.

I chose Google because it not only offers customizable search code for your page, but also lets you semi-customize the results page — I used MindBlog's colors and logo. In addition, I took into consideration that Google has a good reputation for unbiased search results and their "Googlebot" regularly (every 30 days) crawls the entire Web refreshing their index along the way. It also doesn't hurt that, depending on who is counting what, Google has the largest index of Web pages of any search engine and may very well be the most popular search engine to boot; so, they are likely to be in business for a long time and to continue offering this valuable service to "small" websites.

Yes, in the scheme of things, this is classified as small site, but some day... Top of the page

08.22.02 - 6:30 pm (CT)
Not to get medical, but… has anyone else taken note of the increased numbers of medical conditions being reclassified as diseases and, for that matter, the ever-increasing numbers of those "suffering" from diseases in general? Is it just me or are the medical community and their activists cooking the books "Enron-style"? Is it just a coincidence that the numbers of "sufferers" increases just as, or after, some government muckety-muck starts beating the money drums for the disease du jour? Somehow, I don't think so.

I remember back before Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) was officially classified as a "disability", I was attending some meetings for parents of kids with ADD and their big thing was to get whoever classifies this stuff in the federal government to classify ADD as a disability. Their reasons were to get extra help and a monthly check for their little darlings. Well, they succeeded and "all of a sudden" all sorts of little boys who were acting like, well, little boys were suddenly diagnosed with — surprise — ADD! So, now for every one of those diagnosed with ADD: schools get and spend extra money; the parents get less active kids and money to boot; the kids are "mellow" and get all sorts of extra help to do what they would have done anyway; the medical community has more patients to "treat"; and the activists get their pats on the back and move on to the next cause.

The same type of stuff happens with technology of all sorts, including computers. Remember the "digital divide"? It was a terrible problem that had to be solved by — you guessed it — a government muckety-muck throwing your bucks at schools, libraries, and other government entities to get the country online. So, now they are all cruising the Information Superhighway: schools have all sorts of computers that they don't know how to use; libraries are online and letting everyone cruise wherever they want (prurient interests included); the computer, software, and related companies sold, and will continue to sell for the foreseeable future, lots of merchandise; and the activists have their pat on the back and have moved on to the next cause.

I think I heard the other day how we need to get third-world countries online — I guess our digital divide was just the tip of the iceberg, it's really a global problem. Top of the page

08.17.02 - 5:30 pm (CT)
A blast from the past this morning when my nephew, Michael of Processing.net, emailed me about a site that he does the e-commerce programming for, RubikShop. Wow, it brought back memories from, gee, the 70's when Rubik's Cube first came on the market. My brother Steve was the King of the Rubik's Cube whereas I was, well, not very good. And there was someone else, who shall remain nameless mainly because I can't remember who it was, that "mastered" the cube by peeling the little colored squares off the wrong places and then sticking them on the right places.

Michael confessed to graduating beyond that type of child's play to the more advanced strategy of dismantling and re-assembling the little cube to "win". Just like an engineer (a real one with a degree from the University of Florida) to take the darn thing apart and then rebuild it the "right" way. Steve, who I mentioned above and in my inaugural blog, is also a programmer — as in AS 400 computers — has since informed me that he also now has graduated to this method of "winning" as he's "the one that programs THEM, and tells THEM how to behave", not the other way around. I know it's not a computer, but don't tell him that.

Anyway, I thought I had Michael as he's the programmer I mentioned in a previous thought that doesn't like JavaScript (JS) and the RubikShop site used, you guessed it, JS. But he, of course, had an explanation — the designer used JS for non-essential, effect-type stuff, whereas he had done the essential e-commerce stuff "as it should be" with CGI. And I agree with him that there is some stuff that you can't leave out there for those with way too much time on their little hands to goof with or just downright steal — security of important functions and information should always be handled on the server-side where they are more protected from, let's face it, mostly male teenyboppers.

Well, there seems to be a line waiting to use MY computer... Jon is a beta-tester for a new game of some sort and wants to get back to "work". Top of the page

08.15.02 - 10:15 pm (CT)
One of my clients has been inundated for the last week with really screwy Klez emails where they, on the surface, appear to be (but aren't really) totally in-house — it says it's an email from another person within the company. I had the client run full virus scans to make sure their network was not infected, which it wasn't, and so my sleuthing began.

Upon checking the underlying headers (File > Properties > Details) the same IP Address (not theirs) kept popping up. I knew that Klez regulary fakes eddresses, but did not know if it also faked IP Addresses. So, I checked ARIN Whois for the owner of that address and then contacted their coordinator and copied their Web host to inform them of our problem. They replied promptly that the address in question was unassigned and they had their people checking the situation out and would get back to me.

I had mentioned that it almost seemed as if it were a targeted attack on this particular client since all of the emails appeared to be in-house — I would think that the odds of Klez picking out just that particular company's eddresses to send email to and from would be rather high. Anyway, he was quick to assure me that no one there was targeting anyone however, they had been having a Klez problem themselves as somehow the infection had gotten past their antivirus program (a well-known program that shall remain nameless — not Norton Antivirus, which is what all of my clients happen to use — me, too) and they were having one heck of a time getting rid of it.

Since they are in a related business to my client, I asked if per chance they had a newsletter or an advertising database with my client's eddresses in it, which could possibly explain the rash of seemingly in-house infected emails — I know the odds would still be high, but it was worth a shot. His reply... "Hmmmm...". So, they are supposed to have all of the bigwigs gather today to do what bigwigs do to solve bigwig problems. As for my client, the barrage (Where's some wood to knock on?) seems to have subsided.

BTW, a similar one-time occurrence happened with the same client several months ago. They received an email supposedly from their Webmaster (me) with my "This site minded by Pageminders" button attached, which was infected with Klez. Norton, as it always has, caught it coming in and quarantined the sucker. My client and I ran full virus scans of our systems, which showed no infection for either of us. I sleuthed around, kept running in to dead ends, and finally gave up considering it to be a one-in-a-million coincidence. Now though, I've got to say, 'Hmmmm...".

ABTW, if the IP Address is unassigned, could Klez, or someone, have hijacked it for their nefarious purposes? Just asking.... Top of the page

08.09.02 - 5:15 pm (CT)
Well folks, I FINALLY have the MindBlog Update List page up and (hopefully) running smoothly. And to the first 100,000 people to sign up there… give yourselves a hearty pat on the back! As for the rest of you — no pat on the back for you, let alone a hearty one.

I was going nuts trying to get the "cc_visitor" line to work in the forms, but no such luck. If you've got an idea on this, by all means let's have some feedback with your stab at it and I'll give it a try. Until then I've got my Web host, Deb at HelpQuest, checking it out from her end.

As for now, I have to go feed Rob and Mandie's cat, Tikki. I'd be dragging myself over there for their dog, Kobe, too, but she's staying here with my three dogs. That makes it a four dog weekend — lots of barking and a round of pig's ears for everyone! Top of the page

08.06.02 - 11:08 am (CT)
I felt really lousy yesterday, but managed on the spur of the moment to cart myself and Deb at HelpQuest over to a business meeting at 7:30 this morning. It really worked out well, as the group's director thought our JolietBiz project was something they could work with and wants to set up a meeting. It sometimes pays to drag yourself somewhere when your body is really telling you to go back to sleep. Ah, the rewards of hard work and determination.

As for the rest of my day, just like yesterday, it's TBSS for not feeling well as I'll be putting in another full day with designs and phone calls. And I'll try to squeeze in some more work on this site — I am going to get back to making a MindBlog Update List page for those who would like to be notified of another passing thought. And now my thoughts must be turned from play to work. Top of the page

08.03.02 - 7:45 pm (CT)
Yesterday I was going through piles of email and ran across a really good, timeless (it was posted in 1998) tutorial on site optimization. Its main focus was on fast-loading pages through the use of clean-coded HTML in combination with CSS, keeping graphics to a minimum, and optimizing any graphics that you do use. This has been my methodology in Web design since I started doing this over three years ago.

The whole point of any Web page is to get people to stay long enough to see what you have to offer them — valuable information, products, and/or services. Well, if your page takes too long to load for whatever reason — complicated and/or convoluted code, numerous and/or huge graphics, etc. — then the average Web user is not going to wait around to see your "great" page, let alone your whole site. If you must use something that takes forever to download then, for heaven's sake, don't use it on your main page — at least get them into your site before hitting them with a long download time. And do warn them that they are about to have time to get a snack, go to the bathroom, or make a phone call.

Anyway, back to the great Site Optimization Tutorial from WebMonkey.com, it's well worth your time — check it out. Also, as far as optimizing images goes, for several years I have been using JPEG Optimizer from XAT Internet Technology (there is a free version) to optimize jpg graphics. It's easy to use, doesn't screw up your computer, and gives nice results. So, check that out, too. Top of the page

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