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30 December, 2003

Custom Guitars

Check out these cool handmade guitars by Jeff Hilbers.

You might as well go to his home page. You'll find lots of other interesting eye candy.

(Thanks Beukeboom).

Posted on 30 December, 2003

Esther's Link

Christmas is over, but I promised Esther that I would add a link to Crackermatic.

Build a Christmas Cracker for your friends and send it by email!!

Warning: It's a Flash app. It opens a new maximized window. It plays annoying music. But Esther likes it, so it must be good.

Esther is a great musician and singer, but her taste in web sites leaves a bit to be desired.

Posted on 30 December, 2003

Crucifix In Potato

From Art Bell's site: Crucifix In Potato.

I was peeling potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner (11/27/2003). On my second stroke this is what I saw. The image is straight from my digital camera and has not been manipulated in any way except for rotating it so you would get the point of view I had when peeling the potato. I set it aside. At that moment I knew my Thanksgiving feast was blessed. (And it was! The turkey was moist, the mashed potatoes and gravy weren't lumpy and the company was delightful and gracious.) - Mars B., Omaha, Nebraska

Posted on 30 December, 2003

Top-20 Referrers For 2003

When a person visits a web site, it's possible to determine where they came from (i.e., the referrer). Most visitors to this blog come here directly (they have it bookmarked) or via a search engine (of which Google has 74% referrer share). Others come here as a result of clicking a link on another site.

Here's a list of the top 20 referrers for the J-Walk Blog for 2003.

  1. Whole Wheat Radio
  2. The Presurfer
  3. ABC dane.net (Japanese)
  4. MSNBC - Weblog Central (which now seems to be defunct)
  5. Superfast Computer
  6. Dr. Web Magazin (German)
  7. BBspot
  8. Incoming Signals
  9. Scrubbles.net
  10. Singlung
  11. Geisha asobi blog
  12. Slashdot (Japanese)
  13. Master Of The House
  14. Off On A Tangent
  15. Joel's Home Page
  16. Asparagus Pee, Gooblek & Other Neat Stuff
  17. Electric Venom
  18. The Museum of Hoaxes
  19. Attu Sees All
  20. Love And The Happy Cynic

Posted on 30 December, 2003

A Random Blog Entry

Here's an example of one of the cool things you can do with pMachine: View a random blog entry. This took me about 15 minutes to put together.

I've added a link to the left menu (below the calendar), so you can enjoy the randomness any time you like.

Posted on 30 December, 2003

Using pMachine

I've spent the past 10 days or so working with new blogging software: pMachine. I had been thinking of moving to a new blogging system, and I checked out quite a few possibilities. None of them really impressed me until I discovered pMachine (thanks Glenn).

The installation went smoothly, even though I know very little about installing software on servers. I will admit that it was all a bit confusing at first, but I eventually figured it out. The documentation is pretty good, but trial-and-error is always good too.

But what's most remarkable is the technical support, which is provided via a discussion forum. I had several questions, and they were all answered promptly. I even discovered two bugs, and they posted a corrected version of the software within a few hours.

I had always assumed that if I moved to a "real" blogging system that I'd never be able to incorporate the 4,200+ items from my previous blog. But I was wrong. It took me about 30 minutes to write some VBA code that exported my old HTML files into a format that pMachine could import. There were a few snags along the way, but the entire job took no more than a few hours.

One weak point with pMachine is the lack of a WYSIWYG editor (yeah, I'm spoiled). I purchased a product that supposedly offered that feature for pMachine, but it didn't work very well. So I came up with my own system: Use FrontPage as my editor. I've got things set up so I can compose my entries in a FrontPage template, using all of my custom styles. I can also just drag images into the page and move them where I want. Then, I click a button which: (1) uploads the image for the item (if it has one) and converts the image URL, (2) converts any non-standard characters so they won't mess up the RSS feed, and (3) copies the HTML to the clipboard. Then I pop over to my pMachine input screen, paste the data, and click Submit. It's all very efficient, and I have complete WYSIWYG editing.

I could easily come up with a dozen other things that I would like to see changed or added to pMachine, but the system is definitely workable as it is -- and I hear rumors of lots of good things to come.

pMachine is written in PHP, and it uses a MySQL database. If nothing else, using this software will give me a reason to get up to speed with SQL, and maybe even learn a bit of PHP.

Posted on 30 December, 2003

The DaVinci Code

Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code is currently the #1 seller in the hardcover fiction category. I started reading it a few days ago, and I'm about half-way through it. It's a great read, and I can understand why it's so popular. If I could write like him, then I would not have to waste my time on Excel books.

If you've read the book, check out Dan's web site. He has a photo gallery that's relevant to the book.

And Random House has an interesting "uncover the code" contest. But Rob, at samaBlog, prefers this game, which is the "original Davinci Code Web Quest".

Posted on 30 December, 2003

Referrer Log Spam

This new domain (j-walkblog.com) has been up for about 10 days, but it wasn't really announced until today. Just for fun, I checked my referrer logs. I found a referral from a site called http://click-for-info.em3.net.

Guess what? It's an ad for Network Solutions. In other words, it's spam.

I guess this type of referrer log spam has been around for a while, but this is the first time I've actually experienced it.

Posted on 30 December, 2003

My Rich Relatives Revisited

My rich relatives made the list of the 2003 top stories in Missouri-Illinois.

July 9: William and Claudia Walkenbach of Hermann, Mo., win $130.6 million - half of a national Powerball drawing. It was the largest pot ever for a Missouri winner.

I've mentioned these folks previously, here and here.

Bill is my second cousin. Word from back home is that they've been inundated with letters from all over the world. And, of course, they had to get an unlisted phone number. So far, they haven't spent a penny. They've been bogged down with attorneys and accountants.

Posted on 30 December, 2003

Web Widgets From Widgetopia

Widgetopia is a "collection of Widgets and UI elements from various websites, with notation of their sterling or plate metal qualities."

For example, here's the scoop on the common horizontal tab interface:

Pity the poor tab. Once a carefree denizen of the file cabinet, then thrust into service in software, he has become the hardest working widget on the web, asked ot sort data into unique areas, represent navigation options, show views of data and now on orbitz, even sort. Poor fellow, can't he get a vacation!

Posted on 30 December, 2003

M&M News

Here's some important breaking news from Reuters: M&M's candy fades to black and white.

M&M's, the colorful button-shaped candies, are about to go off color for the first time in 60 years, but it remains to be seen whether their fans love or hate the change.

The chocolate-filled sugar-coated candies, made by a division of U.S. confectioner Mars Inc., will be available in only black and white for the next few months instead of the standard six colors as part of a promotional campaign.

Can the world survive with uncolored M&M's? Only time will tell. I guess the handy color chart shown here will no longer be valid.

By the way, the M&M's web site has several options to purchase custom color combinations. I wonder if they will stop that too?

Update: Even more M&M's news from CNN. This should be called, "when life imitates Willy Wonka."

The company will re-introduce color four to six months into the new year by running a contest in which six bags - out of the more than 100 million in retail stores - will contain colored M&M's. Each of the six will contain M&M's of the same color - one each for red, yellow, green, blue, brown and orange.

The purchasers of those bags will receive grand prizes -- yet to be determined -- and that "event" will trigger the re-introduction of color, but not necessarily the same color.

Posted on 30 December, 2003

Tied And Dyed

A gallery of tie-dyed stuff, from Dyed in Vermont.

I've tried to create a comfortable place to hang out and browse, and to present an excellent collection of tie-dye art.

I've resisted putting up any advertising--nothing that blinks or jumps allowed!

Posted on 30 December, 2003

Automated Convenience Stores

Paul Victor Novarese, the guy who does the gammatron (phase ii) blog, writes about Quickie-Mart Robot Overlords.

This SmartMart sits at the corner of Park and White Station in Memphis. It's a fully automated convenience store. You drive up, tell it what you want to buy, and it spits it out.

I've never heard of such a thing. I guess I need to get out more often. But here's the strange part:

Store hours are from 7 AM to 11 PM?!? What the hell? The cyborgs inside have to enter a fugue state every day to recharge and repair themselves, I guess.

Posted on 30 December, 2003

Build A Meal

Use this Flash app to create a meal at McDonald's.

As you drag a food item to your tray, you'll get an updated tally of the total calories, fat, and carbs.

(via Off On A Tangent)

Posted on 30 December, 2003

Mass Extinction

Find out about Mass Extinction -- and I'm not talking about abolishing the Catholic church.

Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If present trends continue one half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in 100 years.

(via Things That Make You Go Hmm)

Posted on 30 December, 2003

Ten Dumb Quotes

It was probably very difficult to limit the list to ten, but here are The 10 Dumbest Quotes of 2003. My favorite is by Donald Rumsfeld:

"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know." 

(via Attu Sees All)

Posted on 30 December, 2003

R.I.P. Wilson

I only knew him as Wilson. But his name was Earl Hindman, and he's dead.

Actor Earl Hindman, best known for playing a neighbor whose face was forever obscured by a fence on the television show "Home Improvement," died of lung cancer Monday in Stamford, Conn. He was 61.

He was my favorite character on that TV series.

Posted on 30 December, 2003

The First U.S. Ice Hotel

From the Anchorage Daily News: First guests trek to ice hotel.

David Lerman curled up on a caribou hide-covered ice bed on Christmas Eve, reading "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" by battery-powered candles. Lerman, 44, who works for the Internal Revenue Service in Fairbanks, was one of the first two guests at the newly constructed Aurora Ice Hotel at Chena Hot Springs Resort.

The 30-foot-high Gothic palace is intended to be a tourist draw similar to ice hotels in Scandinavia and Quebec. Resort owner Bernie Karl has said the lodging costs $878 for a two-person, two-night stay that includes Arctic-grade sleeping bags and other survival gear.

Posted on 30 December, 2003

eBay And The Economy

From USA Today: The economy according to eBay.

In 2003, the nation finally felt worn out. That's the conclusion when looking at the year through the unique lens of eBay, the gigantic, freewheeling online marketplace where one can buy anything from a Beanie Baby to a backhoe.

There are many ways to analyze 2003. You can sift through major news events. You can chart best-selling books and top-rated TV shows. You can dissect the stock market. But if you want the gestalt of America -- the unified essence of this nation at this time -- there might be no better place to turn than the massive databases that run eBay.

And speaking of eBay... Wanna buy an aircraft carrier? With five days left, the current high bid is more than $6 million.

Posted on 30 December, 2003

Welcome To My New Digs

This is my first official post using pMachine. If you're coming here from my "old" blog, you'll notice a few differences:

  • The "Permalink" for each item now points to that item alone.
  • You will be able to add comments to some of the items. I'm not sure how this will work out. If I get a bunch of spam and childish comments, I may have to require a simple registration in order to post a comment.
  • You can use the calendar in the left margin to view the entries for a particular day.
  • You can view an entire month's worth of entries by using the Month links, also in the left column.
  • I'll be categorizing each entry. So, eventually, you'll be able to view all posts in a particular category. For example, spam and scams or software.
  • Searching is more fine-grained, since it locates individual items. Searching at the old blog returned an entire week's worth of posts.
  • The RSS feed is enhanced.
  • It's much easier for me to post, so you may see more frequent updates.

I did manage to migrate all of the old items to this new blog. But there is one problem: All of the old Permalinks are broken -- including the links from other items. I'll eventually fix some of these, but I'll probably never fix them all (it's a manual job).

The blog is also on a new server at Casa Hosting. We'll have to see how it works out. It's very cheap, and it's possible that, performance-wise, I'll get what I pay for. If access speed is a problem, I'll find a new host.

So don't forget to update your bookmarks and/or favorites:

And if you use a news aggregator, here's the new link for the RSS feed:

Posted on 30 December, 2003