Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I have moved…

Posted: February 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

I have moved all the content from this website and consolidated my other blogs into one. I will now make all my blog posts on my new blog, Writing Confederation, so please come check it out!

I will continue to make posts about technology on my new blog, and have already posted the second article in the “Building your website…” series. “Building your website… Part 2” is now live at Writing Confederation!

http://writingconfederation.wordpress.com/

Building a website… Part 1

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hello all. Recently I have had a request to go over the process of making a blog, such as this one, again. Some of you may have read my previous posts on this subject, but for those of you that have note, I can’t help you. I just spend about five minutes looking for my previous articles on this subject, with no luck. That aside, I have decided that it is a topic worth revisiting. In this series I plan on covering how to set up a blog on WordPress, as well as how to create your very own website using HTML, CSS, and maybe even a little JavaScript. Part 1 will cover setting up a WordPress blog.

The first thing you need to do, before even opening your browser and going to WordPress.com, is to decide what you are going to blog about. For example, I knew that I had plenty to say on the subject of computers and all things related to them, so I created this blog so that I share my thoughts, knowledge, and views with other people. Now you may have come here looking to create a website about your life, and because of your topic, you do not think that you need a theme. You do. Even if you plan to write about your life, or what you do in your backyard in the summer, or just plan to make random posts, you must know what your topic is. Once you have decided what your topic is you will be able to stick to that topic more easily, other people will be more likely to read your blog because there is a constant theme that they are interested in, and most importantly, it will help you think of things to publish. How? If you have a set theme, or topic that you have decided to write about, the chances that you will sit staring at your screen wondering what to write about go down dramatically. So in summary, a good, clearly defined theme that is present in all of your posts will not only help you come up with posts, but also bring readers interested in the topic you have chosen to your blog to read what you have to say.

Next, you must consider a domain. The domain, commonly known as the web address or less commonly as the URL, is what readers will type in to get to your website. The actual significance of a domain name relative to the success of your website is certainly arguable, but in my opinion choosing a domain name is a crucial step. For example, let us take a look at the domain I chose for my blog, MyiPC: myipc.wordpress.com. The “.wordpress” suffix added to my domain will be ignored because all blogs created at WordPress, unless you register a paid domain instead, are automatically appended with it. “myipc’ is meant to be read as the title of my blog is written, “MyiPC.” The second part of the name, “iPC,” is a parody of the ongoing PC vs Mac argument. By appending PC to the hallmark “i” that Apple prefixes all their products with, my goal was to not only add a little humor to the name, but also express some open mindedness. I could have registered with a name such as “pcsarethebest” (PCs are the best), but in doing so it is my opinion that I would have gave some readers a prejudice with which to read my posts with. Let us look at another example. The other day I was reading browsing through the various category’s of websites on WordPress, and came upon one website that piqued my interest. After reading the article and leaving a short comment to the author, I happened to glance up at the domain; The domain of the website was simply the author’s username. There was absolutely no connection to the name, the title of the blog, or the content within the website whatsoever. The final reason I will present in favor of my point of view is for returning users. Generally the most emphasis placed on any single element in a blog, and especially blogs created using WordPress themes, is the title. Besides the content of an article on your website, that is what a casual reader is most likely to remember. But what if this reader wants to come back and leave you a nice comment, or send your post to some friends? Well unfortunately the poor reader doesn’t remember the URL of your website, and has recently ran CCleaner, effectively wiping almost all traces of ever being at your website from his or her computer. So now what? The one thing your reader remembers from your website is the title, the big, black letters framed against a white background are still burning in their mind. After hopping over to Google and doing a search for your title, nothing relevant comes up. Dispirited, the reader who wanted to come back to your website and spread the word about it closes the browser window and never sees your website again. That story is all too common among those who do not choose a title and domain well. My personal recommendation is to choose a title that you feel describes what you will talk about in your posts, and then if not make your domain exactly that title, at least model it after the title.

Now that you have chosen both a topic to write about, as well as a title and a desired domain, head on over to WordPress.com and click the big orange button that says “Sigh up now.” In the next screen you will be asked to enter your desired domain name (labeled as “Blog address” on the form), as well as create a username, password, and enter your email address. Fill out the fields, and click “Sign up.” A confirmation email will be sent to the email address you entered on the previous page, which you must click in order to activate your blog.

Once activated, your blog will be very basic. The basic theme consisting of two columns and a title will greet you should you decide to check our your website before following the steps below:

Delete the “Hello World!” post, manage posts, and edit pages.

Nothing says “Hi, I’m a beginning who just started at this” more than leaving the “Hello World!” post up, and unfortunately some readers will leave after seeing it. Every WordPress blog is forced to have one by default, so the first thing you should do is delete it. To do so, look to the left side of the screen. You should see a horizontal bar with a variety of menus and links. Click the button labeled “Posts”. Upon clicking the button, you will be redirected to a page in which all of your posts are displayed. Hover over the name of the post you want to edit (in this case the “Hello World!” post). A few links should appear under the post name, one of which in red labeled Trash. Click it. Congratulations, you have now deleted the annoying default post!

When you inevitably become ready to write a post, go to the “Posts” page again and click the “Add new” button near the page title. On the next page there will be space to write your post, no matter how long it ends up being.  You will have the option of saving your post as a draft, previewing it, or publishing  it. The names of the buttons are self-explanatory, so I wont bother explaining their functions. You can also edit posts from the “Posts” page. Simply open the page, mousover the post you would like to edit,  and click the “Edit” link that appears under the name.

To add, edit, or delete a page, you must go through a similar process. The only difference is that when working with pages, you must go to the “Pages” window. A link to it can be found in the bar on the left side of the screen.

Change your theme, add widgets, and customize the title.

The next thing that you will want to do is change the theme. Some people prefer a simplistic theme, and I can appreciate that, but even if you plan on keeping the default theme I would suggest following along throughout this step in order to have the knowledge to change your theme in the future. To view all the currently available themes, click the button labeled “Appearance,” located a few items under the “Posts” button you clicked earlier. You will be brought to a page at which you can choose any theme you deem suitable for your website. Since this is your first time, I would recommend ordering the themes from A-Z by clicking the “A-Z” link underneath the “Browse Themes” heading. You can click the “Preview” link underneath the picture of each theme to see a full-size image of what you site would look like with that theme.
Once you have found a theme you like, click the “Activate” link underneath its image. This will change the appearance of you website to that theme.

Customizing the title of your blog is very important. A title is most likely what readers will see first upon navigating to your blog, so choose wisely. To change the current title of a WordPress blog, click the bottom button in the sidebar where you found “Posts” and “Appearance,” the button labeled “Settings.” From the Setting page you will be able to change your site title, as well as add or change a site tagline (a brief description of what your website is about), and timezone. When finished, click “Save Changes.”

Adding Widgets is not necessary, but it can improve the look of your blog as well as improve the usability. To customize the widgets displayed on your blog at any given time, go back to the page where you picked out a theme and click the “Widgets” link. If you cannot find the link, it is possible that your theme does not support adding widgets. The next page will allow you to go through available widgets and place them on a sidebar, header, or footer, depending on your current theme. After dragging and dropping a widget to a sidebar, header, or footer be sure to click the “Save” button to save your changes before moving on.

 

This concludes the first part of the “Building a website…” series. You have learned how to:

1. Choose a descriptive title that will help you stay on-topic as well as guide readers to your blog
2. Customize your new blog to make it your own
3. Add, edit, or delete posts

Happy blogging.

Cuil vs Google

Posted: July 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

Now that you are all finished laughing at my pitiable attempt at digital artwork, I would like to begin my article entitled “Cuil vs Google”.

Google, as many of you know, is the dominant search engine. No, not Bing, neither Yahoo!, nor Ask.com. No, Google is dominant. Check out NetMarketShare.com (Marketshare.hitslink.com) for more info on market shares for search engines, as well as market shares for browsers, operating systems, and other such things. Anyways, back to dominance and comparisons. Some of you may have heard of Cuil.com (pronounced “Cool”). A few of you may have even read my previous article from 2008 entitled Cuil. In my article, which was almost shamefully short for the release of a new search engine of it’s caliber and potential, I described a few of the features I liked most about Cuil. I hope to do a much better job here, as well as talk some about Google. But let’s do Cuil first, seniority rights don’t apply here.

Cuil. When you open up Cuil.com you will see almost the total opposite of Google.com. With its black background, simply colored logo, and attractive drop-down menu as you type, Cuil is pretty much everything Google is not, except effective. Cuil is very effective, and does its job very well.

Google. When you open up Google.com you see the ever-present Google logo, in the customary many-colored logo. Not much has changed over the years, the website has stayed mostly the same with its white background, simple logo, and mostly empty webpage. Recently, however, Google has been slowly filling in its page. In no particular order, Google has added a top-bar containing links to its most popular services. Google has also populated their homepage with a few different links to various services they provide.

Point. My point is this: Overall I would have to say that Cuil has a much cleaner homepage that Google does, more aesthetically pleasing, and possibly more functional also. Being a web designer myself, I also have to give Cuil props for their real-time search suggestion drop-down box. Cuil’s search suggestion box, unlike Google, has rounded edges (something you will come to appreciate as a Web Designer), and the suggested search queries don’t overwhelm you in size, opacity, or weight (again, a web designer thing).

So lets make a search.

Cuil. If I head over to Cuil and search “myipc” the top of the list will include a profile for someone named “myipc” at Answers.com (I may or may not own this account, I can’t remember), along with some irrelevant articles pertaining to my search. What about something that I may actually need to look for? Well this year I am researching genetic engineering for a possible topic in the coming FLL season, so let me do that. The search results are displayed cleanly with three to four line excerpts from the websites found. What, can it be? No ads? It is! Yes, I’m not joking, there are no ads in the Cuil search results.

Google. Now over to Google, my query is the same: “myipc”. This time, however, I am pleased to see that my blog comes up at the top of the list, some pretenders to the throne below that, and some of the documents I’ve posted around the web later on. Note: I am in no way associated with the “myipc” person on YouTube. My username on YouTube is ‘zachman1094’. Typing in genetic engineering as I did with Cuil, I receive many results displayed in the middle of the page, ads on the right hand side, and some strange search suggestions, ways to customize the search, and other unnecessary features on the left.

Point. So who won this round? Well, I don’t really know. Without sitting and going through the results returned from each search engine I could not give you a sure answer to which search engine yields better results. However, I will say this: I prefer Cuil for two reasons: 1. There are no ads on Cuil search results. This is a huge thing for me. I hate seeing ads for stupid websites claiming that they hold the answer to the question I have posed Google. No more! 2. Cleanliness. You know, they say Cleanliness is next to Godliness, so what does that make Cuil? Cuil has a clean search results page with only that: search results. No ads, no stupid options to mess up my search to obscurity, nothing.

Bonus: cpedia. So what is cpedia? Well from what I have seen so far, cpedia is a very cool little feature in the Alpha stages with culminates data on your search query from pages around the net and puts them all in to one page. For example, I made a query for ‘genetic predisposition’ just to see what came up, and I was pleasantly surprised when a well formed, informative article was generated from over 250 different webpages.

Conclusion. So what’s my conclusion? Let me come to it step-by-step. To me, especially as a web designer, I like to see webpages that are clean and well designed with balanced colors and well placed objects. Cuil does a great job with that. The dark colors blend well with the few light ones put to use, and everything just seems to flow and all be in order. Google, however, needs to tone it down a bit. I see too many sharp edges, I want to see more rounded corners. I see too many objects asking for my attention, it would be better with less. There are too many different ways to change my searches up through Google, if I want it changed I’ll do it myself. Aesthetics are a very, very, very important part of any webpage for me, and especially on a page that I use quite a bit. The one thing that makes me wince every time I use it is Google’s suggested search box. Besides taking up a full quarter of the page, the text is in a very large font, and on top of that it’s in bold. It just doesn’t work for me. Search suggestions should be a side feature, not the focal point of the search.

And as for results, I have to say that cpedia is very pleasing to me. The culmination of information put in to that page is a great resource for anyone to use, better, I think, than going through many pages to try and glean the information you need. Sure, you may still have to do that, but from what I’ve seen cpedia does a good job of that by itself. And besides, it’s very cool to see an automatically generated article.

A trip back to the past…

Posted: July 8, 2010 in Uncategorized


These were just some fun images I found buried in some pages I had posted a long time ago. Hope you enjoy them!

I’ve updated my page Video and Voice calls over the internet, so if you would like to read my latest update head on over there, or click Here.

I’m re-posting, or reblogging as it is apparently called, this post for two reasons: 1. To check out this feature, as it may be useful in the future, and 2. To tell you how awesome this new theme is!

As you can tell I did not think it awesome enough to replace my existing theme, but take a look at Webdesignerwall.com and see how similar the layout and colors are of their website, and this new theme are.

I guess I’m just trying to say that it’s great to see more colorful, vibrant, and well designed themes coming out for WordPress, and I’m looking forward to seeing some more great ones.

New Theme: Koi Say hello to Koi, our newest theme. This light and colorful theme provides a beautiful framework for your WordPress.com site with delicate, hand-drawn illustrations and refined typography. The tasteful artwork featured in the header and footer are suggestive of koi, an ornamental fish often considered a symbol of love and friendship. [caption id="attachment_4724" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Example of Koi's layout showing the lovely … Read More

via WordPress.com News

“To be or not to be, that is the question.” Many of you will have heard this famous line, and those of you that haven’t have been living under a rock. Sorry, but that’s how it is. So all of you rock-dwellers listen up, because here’s a history lesson. Those of you that don’t live under a rock, skip over the next paragraph by clicking Here

I wonder how many will read this paragraph? Well first of all, the famous phrase was part of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, and appeared in the third act, scene one. If you read it in context with the rest of the scene, it is clear that it means to live or die, all put in the confusing manner that was spoken in those days. For more information on this, check out this cool article from Phrases.org: To be, or not to be, that is the question.

So after reading through my what I had written so far, pondering over the title, and sitting in thought for awhile, I have accomplished two things: 1. I have remembered what I was planning on writing about. 2. I have a vague idea on how I will write it. First I suppose I should mention a book I read part of awhile ago titled Steal This File Sharing Book, by Wallace Wang. This book is, as you may have derived from its title, about file sharing, and, in general, stealing media. This book covers the history of media piracy from its infancy through forums, to modern day torrents (I made it to the old-school forum section). Great book, well written, and very informative. Maybe now you have an idea what I will be covering in this post?

So. Obtaining media, for that is what we shall call it, is what I will be writing about. How many of you, and this question is rhetorical, download music from various websites? Not those of you that pay for your music put your hands down. Nobody did? Well, what a surprise. Lets move on and come back to this. How many of you use programs such as Limewire, Vuze (formerly Azureus), or other P2P (Peer2Peer) services to download music? I’m guessing that quite a few of you raised your hands. Alright everyone, put your hands down. Now you may or may not realize that this is in fact illegal. Yes, I know none of you batted an eye as I said this. But all the same, it is. From concert recordings to the original .mp3 file being posted to the internet, nothing is safe, and that’s just how we like it.

Now don’t think I am condoning the piracy of music, programs, movies and videos, I’m just saying that the majority prefers it that way. When I used the example of an .mp3 file, whether the original or a copy of a song, being posted to the internet I did not exclude websites such as Rhapsody where you are allowed to play their music for a certain number of times before you are asked to purchase it. (There is an easy way around this, but I wont go in to that here). I’m sure many of you thought of download sites such as Pillage, or other websites of which I am not aware of, when I said music being posted to the internet. All of those are illegal. Plain and simple, illegal. Frostwire, Limewire, Vuze, all of those support the download and usage of copyrighted materials without the consent of their authors.

So now that I have rephrased what most of the people reading this article already know, let me move on. I’m going to say this now; I will not tell you all how to pirate media. I will, however, give brief descriptions of methods used in the hopes that protection against such methods will be created in the future. All the methods in the article are for educational purpose only, and again, I do not condone the usage or methods used to pirate media.

Torrents. The definition of a torrent from Wikipedia or Google (define:torrent) doesn’t do it justice, so I will define it myself; A torrent is a package of information used by torrent applications such as Bittorrent and Vuze to locate large files for quick transfer across the internet. Basically, a torrent is the URL to files (generally large ones and normally hosted on personal computers) that people wish to transfer across the internet. Torrents make it easy to transfer very, very large files across the internet, provided the connection to the source files stays open. That is the main downside to the use of Torrents, the very reason they are great: they rely on the computer with the source file to remain on and running, also known as seeding, the file in order for it to be downloaded. Theoretically as more and more people download torrent files, the numbers of hosts, or seeds, would grow. In theory. In practice that isn’t quite the case, but that’s a judgment call for the users, not something for me to talk about here. A prime example of the use of torrents to transfer large files would be videos, which Vuze specializes in. Through the use of Vuze it is possible to download entire series, free of charge, or shows such as Burn Notice, NCIS, and full movies such as Iron Man and Iron Man 2. A series of 12 episodes can take up anywhere between 15 to 25 GB, making a Torrent ideal for the transfer of these large files.

Music. Again, I will not tell you exactly how to obtain free music. Here is some food for thought though. Go to Pandora.com or Grooveshark.com (my two favorite places to listen to music) and listen to a song or two, or three, or four. Go ahead and listen to the music while you read my article, while you do homework, while you drive to work-whatever, but the point is this: How does the music get to you? Think about it. Do you think that Pandora or Grooveshark opens a direct connection to your speakers, and sends the data directly to your speakers from their website? Nope, that’s not it. So how does it work? Well, I don’t really know, to tell you the truth. I don’t know how the sound actually gets from the website to your speakers, but the fact remains that it does. The actual file, the information making up the music or audio file must be relayed to your computer to be played through the speakers, right? Somehow the information, the 1’s and 0’s that the computer speaks in, the information making up the song you’re listening to must get to your computer in order to be played through your speakers. So what if you wanted to capture that stream? Well you can do it in a number of ways, but the best, most sophisticated method would be to capture that information as it is being transferred from the website to your computer. Good luck, that is all I will tell you on this subject.

Streaming movies. This will be a shorter paragraph because it is basically the same thing as I mentioned in my last paragraph. When you go to YouTube and watch a movie, that movie information in the form of bits and bytes must be transferred to your computer in such a way that not only can your speakers play the appropriate sounds, but your screen display the appropriate images. You guessed right if you think that YouTube does not open a direct connection to your screen and speakers, rather, the file is transferred to your computer in such a way that I do not know how to explain it, except that it can be intercepted, recorded, and saved. All you need to do is find a way.

Books. I suppose you could call books the “written media” or whatever, but regardless of whether or not you call books media, they are still treated mostly the same way other media is, and pirated in a similar way, too. Books are in as much demand as any other media, so ways of sharing that sort of media for free has been developed. A simple Google search for the desired book will yield the results you need, so I will not explain anything here, other than .chm files are a good thing to look out for.

I hope this article was informative, and I plan to write more articles on this topic in the future.

Good day, and good night.