Archive for September 2006

Optional Excerpts

Published on September 25, 2006

I recently “discovered” the Optional Excerpt feature in WordPress, which is sad considering that it’s been in plain view the entire time. From here on out, readers of my RSS feed will get a summary of each post instead of the first N characters. This should help make each post’s intent more understandable. The only problem is whether or not I’ll remember to create an excerpt with each post. I’ve clearly got to train myself to take this extra step before posting.

One other interesting feature that I recently learned about is the “post slug” field. This allows the author to specify what text to use when creating the permanent link for the post. How awesome is that? No more awkward contractions in the permalink URL’s!

Removing Inline Upload From WordPress

Published on September 24, 2006

Here’s a handy tip for all you WordPress 2.x users out there. The inline uploading feature of the “Write Post” administration page was completely useless to me. I never have, nor will I ever, upload files to my web server using the WordPress interface (that’s what we have SCP and SFTP for). What irritated me most, however, was that I couldn’t turn this feature off, thereby hiding the iframe that contained the uploading controls. It took up a large amount of space on the admin page, and it looked ugly. But I’ve figured out how to “disable” it. Here’s what I did:

In the wp-admin/ folder, I opened up the file named edit-form-advanced.php. Doing a search for the word upload yielded a block of code controlled by the following conditional expression:

if(current_user_can('upload_files'))

I simply commented out this block (including the conditional) with some c-style comments. I did the exact same thing for the edit-page-form.php file. VoilĂ : no more inline upload! I’m so glad I’ve been able to reclaim that wasted screen real estate.

Rambling Man

Published on September 22, 2006

I’ve got several disjointed thoughts for you today.

I’m going to make a valiant effort to pre-order a Nintendo Wii via my favorite online retailer, Amazon.com. The Wii looks like an incredible platform, and is the only modern gaming system that has gotten my attention. With any luck, Nintendo will really score with this system; I can’t wait to try it out.

The new theme I’m working on for this site is moving along nicely. I’ve gone through a number of test designs, and I’ve finally settled on one that I like. Development work is still taking place (I only estimate it as about 75% completed), but I hope to roll it out here at the site in the next 4 to 6 weeks. Keep your eyes peeled.

Last month, I mentioned the new photo album software I was planning on writing. I’ve come a long ways with that project, but I still have a long ways to go. A number of design paradigms have changed mid-stream, so code rewrites are plentiful. I’m looking forward to rolling this out on my site. I estimate this at a 40% completion level.

I’ll leave you with a great Kent Brockman quote:

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been to Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and I can say without hyperbole that this is a million times worse than all of them put together.

Recommended Burning Software?

Published on September 19, 2006

There are a few categories of software applications that suck across the board. Instant messaging clients are one primary example (though Google Talk is changing that). Another seems to be CD-RW burning software. I’ve tried a number of applications, all of which seemed to either not work or not have the features I desired. Does anyone have any recommendations for decent burning software? The free packages I tried (Deepburner and CD Burner XP Pro) didn’t impress me, and the Nero Express version I got with my CD writer is really old (5.something). I hear Nero 7 is horrible, but that 6.6 is pretty good. What do you use and prefer?

Problems With System Restore

Published on September 17, 2006

I recently mentioned the stuttering problems I was seeing in some games (Half-Life 2 to be precise), and my attempts to fix it with nForce 4 drivers and a fix from AMD. One of these changes, strangely enough, has made my computer run hotter (the graphics card now reaches up to 50 degrees under load, which is still somewhat cooler than my previous card, but warm nonetheless).

Before installing the nForce 4 drivers, I created a restore point using Microsoft’s System Restore. And, after I noticed the heat problems, I tried to go back to the state the machine was in before I did the driver install. But restoring to my saved point doesn’t work! After a reboot, Windows reports that it was “unable to restore to the previous point” and that nothing has been changed. I’m not exactly sure why I tried System Restore, because it has never worked for me before. Has anyone else ever gotten this thing to work? As far as I can tell, it’s completely useless.

The Problem With Themes

Published on September 14, 2006

With Firefox 2.0 RC1 on the horizon (the branch apparently froze last night for check-ins), I think it’s time for another of my opinionated views on the new Firefox theme. I have mentioned before that the new theme looked pretty bad, and apparently a number of people agreed. Thankfully, the theme was revamped in the September 11 nightly builds, and it looks a lot better. But people are still complaining. I like the new 2.0 theme much better than the previous attempt, but I still feel the Firefox 1.5 look and feel is ideal. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

So this leads to my main point: themes (or skins, whatever you want to call them) just seem wrong. So much time, energy, and development effort gets put into how stuff looks. Couldn’t all of that be better spent in making Firefox better than it is today? Let’s have faster start up times. The Places feature looks cool. And I’m sure there are other great ideas on the horizon. Can’t we work on those instead of arguing about the icon used for the “Home” button?

At some level, a certain look will always have problems. One can’t please everyone all the time, especially when it comes to looks; everyone’s idea of beauty is different. So, set a look that most everyone agrees on (e.g. the current Firefox 1.5 theme) and leave it alone! Put all of the development effort on cooler features, not on shinier icons. In the end, I think everyone will be happier.

Dual-Core Stuttering

Published on September 10, 2006

Yesterday, while playing through Half-Life 2 (this time at 1600 x 1200 … :-D), I noticed that, after playing for a while, the game began stuttering. Strangely enough, changing the graphics and audio settings didn’t make things any better. Even down at 640 x 480 with everything as low as it would go, the game was still quite choppy. So I got looking around the web, and began wondering if my new AMD dual-core processor was the problem.

I found a number of pointers to CPU drivers, dual core optimizers, a hot-fix from Microsoft, and more. But one forum post in particular caught my eye. It has links to all of the aforementioned fixes, and contains a number of tips on how to get games to work properly in a dual-core environment. This morning, I installed the latest nForce chipset drivers from nVIDIA, as well as the dual-core optimizer from AMD. The nForce drivers have unfortunately made my SATA hard drives appear as removable, which is odd but understandable considering that SATA drives support hot-swap functionality. And the dual-core optimizer seems to have removed the stuttering (though I haven’t played as long today as I did yesterday; I still need to investigate whether this has truly fixed the problem or not).

Anyways, if you happen to have a dual-core processor, and are concerned about game stuttering, I highly recommend the forum post above. Perhaps the steps I’ve taken so far will fix the problems I was seeing.

How (Not) to Sell Fast Food

Published on September 5, 2006

I’ve been meaning for some time to comment on several fast food commercials that have been airing on TV. I find each one quite repulsive, and each motivates me to stay away from its respective establishment.

First up is a McDonald’s ad. In it, a team of girl soccer players plays a game on an incredibly muddy field. I guess that the McDonald’s folks are trying to appeal to those who have a thing for mud-covered young women. But what really gets me is what the narrator (one of the girls in the ad, presumably) says. She tells the viewer that she is someone. And not just someone, but someone like you. So, are they trying to say that if you work at McDonald’s you’re a nobody? Or some kind of freak? I’ve certainly never thought that way of McDonald’s employees. While I do consider McDonald’s among the lower echelons of the job pool, I don’t go around each day making fun of those people. It’s sad that McDonald’s own self image is so poor. I guess it’s somewhat deserved, however.

Next up, is any Hardee’s ad that’s aired in the past few years. Hardee’s has tried vigorously to change its image, after suffering incredible setbacks a number of years ago. Their new image strives to be “tough” or “macho.” But, at least to me, they end up being homoerotic. There’s something about listening to two scruffy guys chew that’s just not appealing. I get a major case of the jibblies any time I see one of these. Jibbly jibbly.

Finally are the recent Wendy’s ads. What’s up with the off key whistling that goes on? It’s not musical and it’s incredibly disturbing. I really miss Dave Thomas; his ads were simple and to the point.

I don’t know what it is with ads these days, but the quality has really gone down the toilet. Not that ads were that good to begin with.

The Crocodile Hunter

Published on September 4, 2006

Apparently Steve Irwin, of Crocodile Hunter fame, has been killed while filming a documentary. I always enjoyed Steve’s shows, his sense of humor, and his passion for animals. He loved doing his work so much that it made viewers love it too. It’s always great to see someone so devoted to their work. He will certainly be missed.

Farming Fun

Published on September 2, 2006

My dad and I attended Old Fashioned Farmers’ Day today, as we do every Labor Day. As always, it was a real blast, and I’ve put up a substantial photo album of our trip. For those who may not know, Old Fashioned Farmers’ Day is an event held in Silk Hope, North Carolina, every Labor Day weekend. It is sponsored by the Ruritans of Silk Hope, and provides a glimpse of the way farming was done in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Steam engines, old tractors, a working saw-mill, classic cars, hit-and-miss engines, and more make up the event. And let’s not forget the oh-so-awesome homemade ice cream, churned via a steam powered engine! I highly recommend the event for people in the central North Carolina area. Highly enjoyable.

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