Sticking my toe in the Twitter pool

I recently signed up with Twitter, under the handle minorwisdom. For the one out of a million unfamiliar with Twitter, it’s a micro-blogging service that allows you to write short posts and follow others’ posts on one screen. Post are limited to 140 characters, so if you want to post links, you’ll want to use something like I like the idea of reading and writing on the same screen. I won’t promise that I’ll be worth following on Twitter, but I have no trouble recommending the other folks that I follow.

I’m also just now venturing into some social-networking web sites: Facebook (for friends and family) and LinkedIn (for professional contacts). Both appear promising. So far, Facebook has put me back in touch with a few dear friends from years past; that alone has made it worthwhile. No such results yet for LinkedIn, but then I just started a couple of days ago.

Validate your web site

Your blog or other web site may look good on your operating system, on the browser you use. But it may not look so good on other operating systems or browsers. Mister Thorne points out an example and suggests a solution: the World Wide Web Consortium’s free Markup Validation Service. Just plug in your URL, and the MVS will point out HTML code that may cause problems.

I tested it by plugging in the URL for this blog. It seems that embedded YouTube videos carry troublesome code. Fortunately, this blog is just for fun. And since I have fun embedding YouTube videos, I’ll continue to do so. I’d think differently if this blog were for profit instead of just for fun.

New toy

Sanyo_scp_4500 Big news in the Ward household yesterday: My wife and I finally traded in our Sanyo SCP 4500 phones (picture at right, photo credit here). We had these phones since May 2001 — nearly eight years ago. Back then, they were state of the art. Today they are antiques. Mine still worked fine, but hers started showing signs of rigor mortis.

DSCN3285 Our first stop was the Radio Shack two blocks away, where we had bought the 4500s. Unfortunately, our account was so old that they were unable to upgrade us at the best price. They sent us to our friendly neighborhood Sprint Store on Tchoupitoulas. My wife, wanting a simple device, got the Samsung M320, a basic phone with the now-mandatory built-in camera. I wanted a basic phone too, but I decided to get something with features that I might use later. I ended up getting the Samsung Rant (picture at right). It has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard (picture below), very nice for typing text. And if I decided to sign up for the Sprint data package (or some subset of it), I’ll have access to the Web, GMail, music, GPS navigation, and other goodies.DSCN3284

Life in the slow lane

This week my soon-to-be-former Internet service provider dealt me a total breakdown in both products and service. Translation: the DSL stopped working, and after three tries with what they somehow refer to without any trace of irony as “support,” still no DSL. Fortunately, the phone line that formerly carried the DSL signal still has a dial tone. So yesterday, I downgraded my service to dial-up. The local cable company should be fixing me up with new broadband access late next week. In the meantime, while everyone else zooms by at 10-meg, I’m toddling along at 50.6K.

Speaking of ISP “support”: why is it that the only way to contact these people is to go on-line? Even if you want to telephone them, you have to go on-line to get the phone number. This creates a Catch-22 if the problem you’re having is that you can’t get on-line.

So I had to go to another computer to contact these folks—in my case, my computer at work. So I’m at work, having an on-line chat with somebody probably on the other side of the world, and I swear that the following exchange actually took place:

Me: My DSL service is not working at all on my home computer.

Mr. Support Guy: Okay. Are you using that computer now to talk to me?

At this point, I began to lose confidence in Mr. Support Guy.

Primary sources of hurricane information

Here are some Web sites that New Orleans bloggers rely on for trustworthy information about hurricanes:

  • The National Hurricane Center. This is where the TV weathercasters get their information. If you like your information unfiltered by TV announcers, then bookmark this site and visit it often. Among the things you’ll find there are RSS feeds for each storm, including this one for Gustav.
  • Tropical Weather by the Weather Underground. This site has some additional resources not on the NHC’s web site, including computer models, like this one for Gustav.
  • Stormpulse. I just discovered this site within the last few days. It has the same information as the NHC and Weather Underground, but the graphics are more advanced. It allows you to overlay the computer models and other information on the forecast map, making it easier to quickly figure out what’s going on with a storm.

Proud of myself

So I’m trying to list Bobby Lounge’s CD, Ten Foot Woman, in the Listening to section at right. The trouble is that TypePad won’t create automatic links to the Bobby Lounge section of So I had to do my own HTML coding, implanting a photo of the CD cover and creating my own links, not to (screw them!), but to Bobby Lounge’s web site. (If you want to try this at home, just open, in Firefox, a page with code you want to adapt, select something that looks like what you want to re-create, right click on the selection, then click on “View selection source.” Then adapt the HTML code and paste it into your web site.)

All of which may raise the question: Why go to all that trouble to plug someone else’s CD? Only because Bobby is the most individual, most disturbed, most creative songwriter this side of Bob Dylan. His songs will make you laugh; and I can guarantee that you’ll never, ever hear a single one your local soft-rock dispenser of audio-mental novocaine radio station.

Too fast

Last Saturday, I replaced my in-need-of-cleaning keyboard and my optical mouse with dysfunctional scroll roller with this Dynex package. The keyboard is fine, but the reason for this post is the mouse. My God, it’s fast! For the first time in my Windows-using career, I needed to go to the control panel to slow the thing down. I dropped the speed down to 50%, and the mouse is still faster than Speedy Gonzales on espresso. Meaning that if you need a speedy mouse, get yourself one of these.