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Creative Web Development - CSS, XHTML, Javascript and RTML for Yahoo Store

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Photos from Miguel and Stephanie's Wedding

Ok, ok, I finally got the pictures up. A lot of them were very dark and/or blurry so I wanted to do some touching up and red-eye removal. I have more, but these are the ones that came out best. Sorry about some of the low qualities, I'm still tinkering with the camera. You'll have to go to my Flickr account to see them (you convinced me to sign up today, Andrey!). Enjoy!

Photos of Miguel Younger's Wedding

Free Opera Web Browser - 24 HOURS ONLY!


Note: For one day only, you can get an ad-free version of Opera. Simply e-mail registerme@opera.com to obtain a registration code. This offer is valid from 12 a.m. Tuesday, August 30 to 12 a.m. Wednesday, August 31 2005 (PDT). [edit: chicka-derpa, thanks Justin, I'm zoomtarded]

You can also go to this URL: Register Opera Free. Thanks Matt, you are the fastest!

For those of you waiting for pictures of the wedding, they will be up this afternoon/evening. I had to reinstall Photoshop at home last night and couldn't get them resized and cleaned up before I had to get some sleep. :)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Miguel and Stephanie Younger!

The wedding yesterday was great, everyone looked amazing - especially the bride and groom. I've got a busy day ahead of me, so I won't be able to post photos until later tonight, but I had to share this one with everyone as soon as I got up.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Traybar - FREE Start Menu Replacement Software (Freeware)

Sometimes, the Start Menu just doesn't cut it for me. Ok, most of the time, the start menu doesn't cut it for me. It's slow, disorganized, easily cluttered when any new program is installed, full of things I don't need, and lacking some of the ones I do need.

I keep my most often used shortcuts on the left side of my middle monitor[1], but there are a few reasons I only keep a minimal amount here. First, Windows will randomly lose the formatting, even if I've organized them and rebooted multiple times (implying it should save the settings) - one crash of an IE window could take the whole thing down, and upon reboot it's back to a random, or alphabetical order. Second, there's just too much chance for an accidental click with them there out in the open. I've already quite a few times gone to grab the scroll bar in the left monitor, and click Photoshop instead. With how many programs I have open at a time, a resource hog like that could take minutes to open. Not very efficient!

Instead, TrayBar[2] allows you to fully customize what I like to call a "start menu replacement", which acts very similarly to a custom start menu, except it runs faster and is cleaner looking[2] (and more easily customizable [3,4]).

TrayBar Features
  • Runs in systray (starts with Windows)[2]
  • Extremely fast loading and responsive interface
  • Clean, usable interface with no learning curve[2,5]
  • Simple options, no bloatware, uses low resources/overhead[7]
  • 600K average mem usage (winamp, open not playing: 1,240K; services.exe 1,308K) (my machine[8])
  • Integrates into context (right-click) menu in Windows perfectly[3,4]
  • Multiple folders and separators for easy organization[2]
  • Customizable icons[6]
  • Ability to open emails with the TO field filled out (see note below)
One of the best features, which I don't have in my screenshots because I use gmail at home, not Outlook, is the ability to add an "email" folder to the top of Traybar. This will allow you to pre-fill a bunch of email addresses - for example I have each of my family, closest friends, and co-workers in there. Now, to email them, instead of opening Outlook, starting a new message, and typing/browsing to their name, I just click Traybar, hover "email" and click their name - an Outlook email pops up with their email address filled in. VERY handy!

The author no longer supports/is writing this software but if you have any questions he has responded to my emails and is a very very nice guy. I've never had any problem with the software at all, everything has always functioned exactly as expected, so I can see why he isn't going to mess with it! This is by far one of my most often used tools, and I can't imagine life without it now that I have it installed both at home and at work. Check it out!


[1] my left-side shortcuts
[2] traybar!
[3] context-menu integration
[4] context-menu "add shortcut" dialog
[5] config screen
[6] config a custom icon
[7] simple options
[8] task manager memory comparison

Friday, August 26, 2005

HOFA Buckeye Bash and Ferret Pictures!

This is going to be a short post, mostly because I'm running behind today. Why, you ask? Because when it comes to alarm clocks, I'm technically retarded. I have a habit of staying up way too late, and then sleeping in. Luckily, my girlfriend Krissy submits herself to a surly Me every morning and helps get me out of bed (thank the lord). Otherwise, I'd probably be about 4 hours late for everything, all the time. My body works on L.A. time and I live in Wilkes-Barre, PA...something isn't right here.

Anyway, that little ramble is because Kris is gone until Sunday! :( She's at the HOFA Rescue Ferret Buckeye Bash[1] in Ohio this weekend. HOFA is the Heart of Ohio Ferret Association and Rescue, one of the bigger ones across the U.S, and the Buckeye Bash is one of the biggest ferret shows of the year. Bob Church, the most well-known ferret expert and inventor of Bob Church's Chicken Gravy[2], which has saved many a sick ferret, will be there speaking (I'm a little jealous, I'd like to meet him real bad). It's on Saturday, Aug 27, 2005 - so if you're in the area, stop by! Kris will be at TheFerretStore.com's[3] booth, which is where she works (TheFerretStore, not the booth, obviously) as an Internet Marketing Specialist. TheFerretStore is sponsoring/presenting the event along with HOFA. Check out their Ferret Store Interactive[4] site, there's some excellent resources and information there.

But, since we have 6 ferrets (7 until recently...sniff), she also does ferret shows for them with our friend Carissa, who also has ferrets. Jason[5], her husband, works with me at SolidCactus. And that my friends was the point of this whole little post - to show off pictures of our ferrets. This is not a full representation, as I can only presently find one small folder of the thousands of pics I have of them. Lucky for you, I'll be finding and posting more soon! For now, this should quell your appetite for cute animals...

Cute Ferret Pictures
That's it, sorry if today's post was a little boring. This weekend I'll be separating this blog into two sections: one for technology, PC efficiency, and Yahoo Stores; the other about my pets, garden, and life. Until then!


[1] HOFA Buckeye Bash 2005
[2] Bob Church's Chicken Gravy
[3] Ferret Products at TheFerretStore.com
[4] Ferret Information, Resources and more at FerretStoreInteractive.com
[5] The Great and Powerful Jason Longo!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Favelets for Yahoo Store and general Web Development

I have a confession to make. I'm an efficiency groupie. If it will make my job at the computer faster and easier, I'm all about it. Remembering to use it...well, that seems to come with time. Today's quick post is about the links bar, and using favelets. Favelets (also known as bookmarklets) are a topic unto themselves that I will cover in depth soon. For now I'm going to focus on favelets I use specifically for Yahoo Store. If you're not a Yahoo Store developer or owner, you probably won't care about this post.

Basically, a bookmarklet or favelet is a link that you have saved as if it were a URL, but is actually a JavaScript script that will run some action or actions for you.

First, to create a favelet, you create a bookmark in the same way you normally would. In most web browsers you can drag the URL icon to where you want it, or in Internet Explorer press CTRL+D if all else fails. Once you have the bookmark created, you can right-click it, go to Properties, and modify the URL. A common URL of a favelet would look like this:

javascript:alert('my first favelet');
Sometime it will tell you "Javascript is not a registered protocol" when you try to save them. Just ignore/say yes to any prompts, assuming you know where the bookmarklet came from and you trust their JavaScript. Please note, make sure each favelet copies completely on one line. You might want to paste into notepad first to make sure it is all there without any linebreaks before pasting it into your shortcut's properties box.

To save the following favelets, just right-click them and choose "Add to Favorites" (IE) or "Bookmark this Link" (Firefox). Or, you can drag them directly to your Links bar.

Yahoo Store Manager - This one will link directly to a Yahoo Store Manager. This is the page where you can choose Store Editor, View Orders, Reports, etc. In order to do this, you use the following favelet:

Yahoo Store Editor - It will prompt you for a store ID, such as yhst-12345678901234, and will take you directly to the Manager. Similarly, you can create a link to the Store Editor with this favelet:

View Page in Editor - This one will go directly to a page in the Yahoo Store editor. This is the same as hitting the yellow "Find" button and entering an ID, except it's less clicking and less waiting. This will only work if you are already logged into a store, the favelet will prompt you for the page ID.

TinyURL - This one is not really for just Yahoo Stores, but it's very helpful for sharing links over IM or email with clients or other developers. It will take a very long (think MapQuest) URL and shrink it to a very tiny URL.

META data popup - This one will extract all the META data from a page and show it in a popup. You might need to hold CTRL to break through popup blockers.

Resize Browser to... - This one resizes to any height and width you want, for example enter 800*600 to resize your browser to 800x600.

Many, many more favelets to come, but it's getting pretty close to "time to go to work", so that means it's "time to get some sleep"!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Google Talk Beta Released!

Google Talk Information

With the release of the new Google Desktop Search and incredible Sidebar feature, Google seems to be taking on another area of the home computer software market. This time, they're taking on the Instant Message clients. Can Google talk the talk (ha, I made a pun)? If Gmail and Desktop Search are any indication, I have to say emphatically YES!

And tonight, it finally happened, and I couldn't be more excited. Google Talk was soft-released last night, meaning I can't find a link to it anywhere on Google, but my friend has been trying http://talk.google.com for a day or two, and it finally goes somewhere.

Here are some details for anyone who would like to preview it, but I urge you - stop previewing and start using it! Here are some immediate features I notice - screenshot references in [brackets]. The rumor mills are gossiping about all the possible features, but I won't get into that yet. For now, here's what I've seen in my first hour of testing.

Google Talk Features

  • Unbelievably fast loading
  • Clean, attractive interface [1]
  • Stacking of multiple open IM windows [4]
  • Collapsible interface similar to Gmail [3, 5]
  • Does not repeat senders name when sending concurrent IMs [2]
  • Automatically expands typing area as text expands [2]
  • Quick "Call" and "Email" functionality built-in [2, 8, 9]
  • Attractive, stacking notification windows [6, 7, 8]
  • Stacks can be separated and grouped! [10]
  • Systray icon blinks when new IM received
  • Taskbar and Window Title Bar show "is typing" message [3]
  • Allows signons from multiple locations with the same screen name [11], but only sends new IMs to the active one. Could be a bug, could be intentional. I like it.

Tips, Tricks and Easter Eggs

  • Bold text by *surrounding with asterisks*
  • Italic text by _surrounding with underscores_ [1]
  • Add "wumpus.game@gmail.com" and type "Play" to play a fun game (this is a translation of the About box). [3]
  • Request a feature from Google

Some Morning Glory Pictures

I feel I didn't properly represent my garden in my last post as I neglected to post pictures of my favorite flowers this year, the morning glories. They grew like WEEDS, especially a few of the varieties. This is just a quick pic post, more to come later.

I do have a few quick tips for morning glories. First, I've found they grow great in individual small pots, which will also allow for maximum mobility in case you want to move one from say your front railing to your back porch. Certain varieties climb much better than others, and some varieties don't bloom a lot until August or later. Be patient - by the end of July you'll probably be wondering if you're going to see any flowers before the growing season ends - you will, and it will be worth the wait - if you can get up before noon and see them in their full glory! In my area, I've found that around 8am is the perfect time to see the most open fully.

You'll notice from some of the pics in my last post, a lot of mine are climbing the house. I have regular siding, and have not put one hole in it this year. How, you ask? Simple, I say. Elaborate, you say. Don't tell me what to do, I say. But I will anyway. The trick is, take a thin strand of hemp (twine will work though hemp is much stronger) and tie one end in a tight knot. Using very sharp scissors or a knife, press this up under the siding, and pull it down softly to make sure it is secure. It will take some practice, but you'll get the hang of it. Then, take the other end and very loosely tie it around a morning glory that is starting to climb, twisting the morning glory around the hemp to "train" it on its way. It's best to tie it right near a leaf node (below the leaf) so it can rest on the knot. Morning glories want to climb, so once you set up a few strands of hemp, you'll be amazed at how they take off. I've also trained mine around my front railing, my back porch, and you can even train them around other plants such as tall sunflowers (they're going to try to do this anyway, be careful)!

One more thing to note, because of how morning glories grow and allow you to lead them, you can get really creative with color combinations. There are a lot of varieties of morning glories, the three I have most prevalent this year are a very bright blue, a hot pink, and a soft purple/lavendar. I have each in individual pots, and then a rectangular pot with one of each planted. You can train different colors around each other, or up different areas of the siding, to create some interesting combinations and color patterns. Take a look at the following two photos.

  • morning-glories-front1.jpg - All of these are coming from four main stems in one rectangular pot, and are all trained with hemp under the siding (with a few pieces of hemp tied to the window frame for stability). Next year I will be building a trellis for this area.
  • morning-glory-front2.jpg - All the morning glories inside the porch (not including what's on the railing) is coming from just two stems, each in its own pot. The pots are only about 8" across and 8" deep, but the morning glories just keep growing. The longest "strand", I would say, if not twisted at all, would be at minimum 25' long.

My Cat's Name...is Maceo

For real, it is. Originally, he was Sadie, but that was before we found out he should be named Maceo instead. Hey, when they're kittens, it's hard to tell!

He's starting to grow up and I have a whole ton of pictures of him, but here are a quick few to show to friends and family.

His name comes from a few places, specifically James Brown horn player Maceo Parker, and the song he inspired by Janes Addiction [2,3]. I find the lyrics [1] to be simple, beautiful, and soothing. My favorite:
My cat's name is Maceo
He's a little man in a cat's body
Well he yawns just like I do
He's convinced that I won't eat him


[1] Lyrics
[2] Detailed Song Info
[3] Jane's Addiction Home Page

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Carl Cox with Stipples

No, he doesn't have stiff nipples. Or maybe he does, I really can't tell from here.

Anyway this is a stipple (dots only) work I did during my time at the Art Institute of Philadelphia[1] for one of my art classes (who knows which one). It's a picture of Carl Cox[2], a house/techno DJ from England, using a fine black marker only. I saw the original photo in a magazine and in a somewhat-drunken 8 hour session, sat down and busted out this bad boy the day before it was due. I'm mainly posting it here because I promised my friend I would show it to him, but don't want to take it down off my wall :) If you look closely you can see the reflection in his eyes is actually a man in a field.

Framed Carl Cox (slight glare from flash)
Slightly closer, angled to remove flash glare


[1] Art Institute of Philadelphia Official Website
[2] Carl Cox Official Website

Shortcut Directly to Folder using Windows Explorer Command-Line Options

While Windows Explorer can be a great thing to use, sometimes you don't want all the clutter of your desktop, your drives, the control panel, my documents, and network neighborhood all in your face. All those things are shown in Explorer view when you press the "Folders" button at the top of any folder you're in. An accidental click on a network drive in the left navigation pane can in some instances cause a freeze of a minute or five while it tries to connect, not to mention the annoyance of having to scroll through so much crap in order to navigate the folder you're in.

Wouldn't it be better if you could just create a shortcut to a specific folder, and have Windows Explorer expand only the subfolders beneath it? Hmm...sort of like...this?

It's actually really simple. Just create a new shortcut, any shortcut is fine. Right click it and go to properties (or select it and press Alt+Enter). In the target field, put the following:

%windir%\explorer.exe /n,/e,/root,Z:\
You can use any environment variables here, such as %windir%, if you want to see what you have available go to Start | Run | type "cmd" and in the command prompt type "set|more" and press enter. Just prefix and suffix what's on the left of the equals sign with %. Some of the more common ones include %ProgramFiles% and %Homepath%

Command-line Options:
/n tells it to open a new window in single-pane view, even if one exists with the same folder.
/e overrides /n and tells it to use the explorer view, meaning navigation pane on the left
/root,Z:\ tells it which folder to open as the root of windows explorer navigation pane
See an example of the shortcut properties box

I can't even begin to say how much this has helped me. On my customized Quick-Launch bar I have a shortcut directly to my personal documents folder, one to my Work-related folder, one to my File root with all my stock images, games, movies, etc, and then another one to my Music folder.
Shortcut Rating, 1 (eh) to 10 (yeah!)
How often used - 10 (multiple times daily)
Convenience or Lifesaver - 4 (great convenience, but nothing truly breathtaking)

More info on Windows Explorer command-line options
Windows Explorer info from Microsoft.com

Pictures from my Garden, Blossom End Rot Information

Some of these are a little blurry, still getting used to this camera. (8(|)

Backyard plants from front to back, left to right:
  • Peppers - orange rectangle
  • Peppers - big green rectangle
  • Peppers - white circle
  • Tomatoes - huge plant in the middle
  • Sunflowers - all four circles on the right. Notice how squirrels ate the middle ones in half - sprinkling the ground with crushed red pepper seems to have deterred them since.
  • Peppers - green rectangle on table
  • Jalapenos - behind tomatoes
  • Sunflower - HUGE yellow one in back - the head is so large and heavy, it bends!
  • Peppers - on the deck in the orange rectangle
  • Morning Glories - on the deck climbing the house

Blossom End Rot:
Two or three more days, and Wilkes Barre breaks its record for the most 90 degree temperatures in a summer. GOOD LORD! Anyway, this problem is the reason 3/4 of my first crop of peppers has blossom end rot (BER). The bottom 25-50% of the peppers are mushy and grey/yellow, but the part of the pepper that looks ok is still edible (hooray!). The main cause of BER, I've found, is the soil going from extreme wet to extreme dry. It happens on the extremely hot days, when I'm at work - I don't have any kind of irrigation set up (THIS year...sure will next year!), and I give them a full water at 9 before I leave for work - but if I can't come home to water them over lunch, by 5pm they're bone dry. Then I would give them a full watering to make up for it - and the roots would get shocked. That shock causes BER. There are some ways to counter it - and it seems like mine are coming back and this crop will be more of a 25-40% blossom end rot ratio. Luckily my tomatoes haven't been too affected, mostly because they're in a much larger pot, and shaded more than the pappers (which have since been moved to be shaded as well).


[1] Blossom End Rot Information from Ohio State
[2] Blossom End Rot Information from Cornell
[3] Commonly Encountered Pennsylvania Spiders - Penn State Entomology Department Fact Sheet
[4] Sunflower Seeds Strawberry Blonde Sunflowers at The Sunflower Farm

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