Sunday, September 27, 2009

Not Becoming My Mother

I just finished Ruth Reichl's Not Becoming My Mother, and I'll admit to not being able to resist a book with such a name, and I mean it as no offense to my own mother, but there's something about becoming the age I am and hearing my mother's voice in my own and my mother's sayings in my own that made me need to read such a book with that title.

And yet, it's only peripherally about mothers and daughters really. It's mostly about becoming one's self, and how essential it is to find a life's work that is fulfilling and meaningful. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Follow me on Twitter badge

So, I spent way too much time wandering about looking for one of those Twitter badges that say "Follow me on Twitter". And then I looked inside the code generated by one (which was really ugly!) and all it is is a link to one's Twitter account. Hey, I can do that.

So, if you want to add a Follow me on Twitter badge to your site, just use code something like this:

<a href="http://www.twitter.com/TwitterAccount">Follow me on Twitter</a>

(And if you want to add it to your Blogger blog, just go to Layout | Page Elements, and then add an HTML/JavaScript gadget. Paste the link into the Content box and you're all set.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jeremy Rifkin: Energy 2.0

Thanks to Vilaweb, a Catalan news service that I follow on Twitter, I came across an interview (in English) of Jeremy Rifkin, an American economist who has worked with several European governments. I was drawn to the video because of a quote in the article that says, "We have to stop obsessing over getting rich". I have long worried about corporations and other entities who only worry about the "bottom line" without taking into account the many very real costs associated with it.

It was refreshing to hear Rifkin compare the American Dream ("useful on the frontier") with the Europeans' desire for "Quality of Life" (a better, more sustainable future for society).

What I wasn't familiar with was his take on distributive energy policy (think Energy 2.0), which is what the bulk of the interview addresses. While he is in favor of centralized renewable energy plants--like large wind or sun collectors in the west, feeding electricity back east with high-voltage, and one must expect, very long cables--he believes the future lies in distributive energy, which he compares to Web 2.0 and the internet.

Each individual building creates energy and then distributes what they don't need back to the grid. This is like folks creating videos and distributing them on YouTube. We'll depend neither on NBC, nor on Exxon. Sounds good to me.

But with the debates raging about universal health care and the evils of supposed socialism, what I keep thinking about is this emphasis on quality of life versus getting rich. The first is a much wider net: quality of life is dependent not only on one's individual circumstances, but on those around you, and thus requires broader thinking about what issues need our attention and resources. Getting rich is a much more narrow goal, and a much less satisfying one.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Formatting Blogger's Read More

As part of Blogger's 10th anniversary celebration, they announced last week that they had added an easy Read More feature to their popular blogging software. The Read More feature (also called a jump break) lets you limit the amount of a long post that will appear on your main page, and offers a link to the rest of your post for those who want to, well, read more. The Read More feature lets your visitors see the beginnings of several different posts at once instead of having to scroll through very long posts to see what else there is.

Using the Read More feature is really easy. First, make sure you're using the new Compose tab, as I described in Blogger's new post editor last month. Then, place your cursor in your 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monetizing my blog

Or not. It's mostly an experiment. I'm working on the second edition of my Blogger book, and I'm trying to figure out how to help people make their blogs a money-making proposition. Of course, Google/Blogger have this AdSense program that places supposedly-relevant ads on a blog, but every time I see a page filled with those ads, I automatically think they're trying to scam me. So, I'm wondering a couple of things. Are there real blogs with useful content that include Google AdSense ads? And do the ads generate income for these folks? If you know the answer, I'd sure love to hear it.

Back in February, I wrote a Web site documenting every possible layout of an iPhoto Book.  At one point, it got mentioned in TidBITS, and I was getting several hundred hits a day, quite a lot more than normal. It's leveled off quite a

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Year in Barcelona: Hardware Stores par excellence

So, I'm testing backlinks as I update my book on Blogger. If a regular link goes outward to somewhere else, a backlink is a link from another site to your site.

It seems like backlinks are activated by default in Blogger. If you go to the Settings | Comments page, you'll see two options for backlinks that are on by default. But where do you find them? The answer is that you have to go to the

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Random tip: Mousing Leftward (Updated)

Some of my most useful tips (to me anyway) come from mistyping or being clumsy on the keyboard. The other day there was something leaning on my shift key while I was using the roller on my mouse and lo and behold, I scrolled sideways instead of up and down. Cool! I'm not sure if that's mouse-specific (mine's a wireless Logitech), but I thought I'd pass it on.

Updated!!
Hmm. It looks like the left-right mouse scrolling is at least application dependent. In Firefox, Shift makes the mouse scroll wheel go left and right (instead of the default up and down), but in InDesign CS4, the Shift key super-charges the scrolling wheel so you scroll faster, but still up and down. The Option key plus mouse scroll zooms in and out, and the Command key finally makes the mouse wheel scroll left and right. I can't find a place where you can change these mappings.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Logging into multiple accounts at the same time

The other tip I've been wanting to share is about dealing with multiple accounts. For example, for this new version of my Blogger book, I've created an example blog written by the fictional Sarah Cookwood. She has her own Google/Blogger account. But if I'm blogging from her point of view and blogging my own blog at the same time, I end up doing a lot of logging in and out.

Another situation where this might be an issue is if you share a computer with a partner or sibling. You log into your Gmail account and check your mail. Fine. But then the other person comes along and wants to log in. Again, there's a lot of logging in and out.

My solution is to use two different browsers... for example, Sarah can log in with Firefox and I can log into Safari. We can both stay logged in and let the browsers keep our accounts separate. If you're on Windows, one of you could use Firefox and the other Opera, (OK, or Internet Explorer).

You could do the same thing with Facebook, Twitter, or any other site that you need to log into with more than one account.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cousin Gonna

My great-grandparents came to this country from Spain in 1907—landing first in Hawaii where they worked in the sugar plantations for 15 years—and then to California. Though my grandparents were born in Hawaii, they grew up speaking Spanish, dancing with castanets, and playing Bresca. But because my parents divorced when I was little, I barely got to know that family. So about five years ago, I started a blog to collect stories from them. I wanted to hear what it was like when they first got here, how they worked, how they played.

That's how I first reconnected with my Cousin Bob, who I hadn't seen since I was about 3. He thought the Spanish Family blog was a great idea and was one of its first, and most enthusiastic contributors. He had lots of stories to tell

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kiddie pool is perfect pig watering hole

Here was my problem: the pigs, who are right outside my office window, were constantly sticking their muddy hooves into the water bucket and dumping it over. I would watch, yell at them sometimes, and then end up going down to fill it up again. The book was never going to get done. In addition, the ground is so gravelly that the water we hosed in their yard to give them some relief from the (albeit very short) summer sun disappeared so fast that they barely got to take advantage of it.

Then I remembered the old kiddie pool that we picked up off the side of the road last year, ostensibly for Laika, who decided that although she has webbed feet, she really doesn't like getting wet all that much.

I pulled the pool into the pigpen. At first, the pigs only sniffed at it. But a few hours later, I caught them trying it out. They're frankly a bit unwieldy (ok, fat!) and they don't like the slide at all.  But they've gotten the hang of it pretty quickly... they climb in and out, they cool themselves off, they wallow.

Piggies in the pool

Not only that, but their water bucket stays clean and upright.

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