Stuff We Forget To Do For Our Benefit

A couple of nights ago my wife asked me to help her move something. I went to help and realized it was something big and a little bit heavy. Not afraid of heavy things, I did my part in helping her move this thing. At some point, however, I smacked part of it into my foot and did that jumping around thing most of us do, trying to walk it off.


by Dave Matos via Flickr

My wife was now upset because not only had I hurt myself, but I wasn’t wearing shoes. Most of the time while in the house I don’t even think about it, wearing either socks or nothing. But I need to know better because, being diabetic, one is supposed to watch out for things that happen with feet, just in case. As it is I currently have a bruise on my big toe that’s been there for about 4 weeks now, not healing, and I just thought about calling the doctor’s office about it; two days and they haven’t called me back yet. The thing is that I have no idea when I hurt that foot, and I can only estimate how long I’ve had it because my wife noticed it first; actually, I’m not even really sure it’s a bruise.

I’m at an age now where there are simple things I just don’t think about beyond a couple of minutes. Putting on house shoes is one of those things; if I need to go to the kitchen and I don’t have shoes on while sitting at my desk, I don’t even think about it until I’m there. But dangers are everywhere; my wife sews and pins could be present in the carpet; I’ve stepped on them here and there but luckily to this point they’ve never been turned up. I also bump into a lot of things; how many of us don’t bump or kick something accidentally here and there, and some minutes later, for the most part, have forgotten we’ve done it?

I’m one of those people who’s a scheduler; turns out my mother is as well. I do that because I need reminders to do things, then to follow up on them. For instance, I always set timers to do laundry but always forget to set timers to put the laundry in the dryer, which means sometimes my laundry sits in the washer for a couple of days and I have to re-rinse everything. I have to schedule times to eat, otherwise I’ll go hours between eating, not good for my glucose levels. I schedule breaks, and sometimes I schedule projects and even email.

One thing I never have to schedule is my blogging. When I want to blog I just do it; luckily, depending on which blog I’m thinking about, I write enough to get by. Yet, what happens if one of these days I forget that? How will it impact some of the other things I believe are somewhat important in my life?

I mentioned eating; seems strange that one would forget to eat, doesn’t it? Especially someone like me, who’s not necessarily a small man. Even with my CPAP I’m tired a lot, and often I have to make the choice of whether to take a nap or eat. Most of the time I choose napping, feeling that I can always eat when I wake up.

According to a nutritionist that’s the wrong move. When we’re born the first instinct we know is how to eat; sleeping is something that we just do. Turns out that as we get older, we really do stop eating as often or as much, and food is what sustains us. Supposedly, by not eating something first, we sap our energy such that it makes it harder for us to wake up; that’s assuming we eat the right foods. When my grandmother’s mind stopped working properly she stopped eating; supposedly even when one’s mind doesn’t fully work, they can control eating or not eating, and without eating, she didn’t have a chance to survive. My nutritionist told me I don’t eat often enough; can you believe this? Well, I can after looking at myself more critically and realizing that often I only eat 2 meals a day, along with some snacking; nope, that just won’t do.

I lead in with all that stuff because I have a point; of course I have a point! lol When we don’t take care of the things we believe can help us in life or business we don’t survive, or rather all we’ll do is survive. People who create blogs with the intention of growing their business or selling their products and forget to blog are only hurting themselves. Folks who forget to send out invoices (yeah, I do that) or market themselves or use social media to help get the word out or, if necessary, spend a little bit of money to progress, only delay any benefits they might have coming their way.

What things are you forgetting to do that you might need to start scheduling for your life or business? What assistance are you searching for to help you progress? And what are you going to do about it?
 

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Using WordPress To Create Websites

Over this past week I’ve been helping a local business colleague build a new website. Actually that’s kind of a misnomer, as it’s actually more of a sales page of sorts, only it looks a bit like a website. Don’t ask. 🙂 Anyway, she wanted to know if I could do it using WordPress software, something I’d never done before, and I decided to take up the challenge so I could see what it might all be about. It’s possible one of you that reads this will have done it and may have gone about it differently than I did; let’s find out.

The one thing I think I knew was that it wasn’t WordPress one modified so much as it was a blog theme. In this case there’s one theme in particular that I’ve used for multiple blogs that I decided to work with because I’m familiar with it. This theme has two sidebars already with content in the middle, like this blog only I didn’t use it for this blog; maybe one day I’ll update it (yeah, right! lol).

The first thing I did was to go into the Privacy area under settings and told it to not let search engines go through it. I knew that as soon as I loaded the WordPress software onto the site it would send a message to the world that a new site was being born, and I didn’t want that to happen before it was ready to go; actually it’s still not really ready to go as we’re now in tweak mode. After that I loaded the theme I mentioned about, and for all intents and purposes it looked like a blog.

I went under Reading in settings and changed the tab to Static Page; that’s what makes it look like a website with two sidebars instead of a blog. The difference now is that instead of going under posts to get content to the site, you go under Pages instead. You can add a blog page later on, but this isn’t her intention; at least right now it’s not.

You have to be ready to do one of two things. One, you have to be confident enough to go into the CSS settings and start altering things, because you know your client, or even you, aren’t going to want everything looking like it does as its blog theme. You’ll probably change fonts, width of columns, colors, etc. Some of it’s big, some of it’s minor, but I’ll say up front that if you have any skill with CSS it’s much easier already having it there for you.

Two, you have to be confident enough to go into the PHP files and remove things when necessary. This takes guts, but luckily, if you’re smart you’ll have two things. One, you’ll set up a file of some kind where you note everything you remove and where you took it from. I opened a Notepad file, named it after the client, and put everything in there. Two, you’ll have your original file to look at some of the things you might have removed if you can’t remember exactly in which spot something you took out was in. I had to do that when she wanted to see what the site looked like without sidebars, then decided she wanted them back in there and I knew which PHP file I took it out of but not exactly where it was. The thing is that it doesn’t have to be in the exact position all the time, but sometimes there’s a lot of “div” tags and you don’t want to get caught putting stuff between the wrong ones.

The wildest thing is that instead of writing a lot of code and then trying to figure out if you closed all your tags, this time you’re looking for things to see where they are, what they are, and how you can alter them. I found that because I use Firefox, I could open up the source code, do a search for what I was working on, and it would tell me which CSS container I needed to work on; that’s pretty neat.

In overall time I’ve spent less on it than if I’d had to write code. I can’t say everything’s easy, and I also can’t say that it handles everything the way I could get it to fit if I’d coded things. For instance, her initial drawing had different items on the sidebars on different pages, and as you know, when you go from page to page the sidebars are almost always the same. I had a plugin I tried to use, but it turned out it only worked on posts and not on pages. If I were coding each page separately I could have made the change, but she decided to deal with it.

It’s been an interesting process. The best part is that in this case I really don’t have to worry much about the content because she’s already used to using WordPress, as she has it for a different blog, so once we get the tweaks done I’m done, and she can go about her business. I’m in an odd place trying to figure out if it’s easier to do that code so I’ll say this. Since I’d normally have to create a frame before doing anything else, this was easier because the frame is already done. The CSS already being done works well also. However, I’m thinking if this had been a site with a lot of details and complications I’d have wanted to just write the code for it. I also don’t know if I’d have known how to add a fancy background image to it, or where I’d have put it. Luckily, I don’t have to deal with it.

How many of you have tried creating a website from WordPress from scratch, and what have you encountered?
 

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Protect Your Computer From Malware

Some days ago one of my web clients calls and leaves and interesting message on my phone. He says that his hard drive has crashed and he’s lost everything that was on his C drive. The message asked me to call him as soon as possible.


by Tara Hunt via Flickr

Of course by the time I got that message it was late, and I knew he went to bed early. I called him the next morning and throughout the day, as it was Saturday, and never reached him. So I sent him an email, which I knew he’d get on his phone, and told him to reach me Sunday. He did, we talked, and he brought his computer over and left it with me.

The first thing I did was to hook his computer to my monitor and other stuff. Then I disconnected my wife’s computer from the network and booted his up because I wanted to see what it would do. It booted up just fine, and when it was loading suddenly I saw this message saying the C drive had been compromised, and that he could buy some product to help fix the problem.

I’m assuming most people reading this blog know this already, but he had malware on his computer. The reason I disconnected my wife’s computer from the network up front is because I was betting he had malware. There’s no such message ever telling anyone that their C drive has crashed; it just doesn’t work that way. If it had crashed the computer wouldn’t boot up, instead emitting these little beeps that drive someone like me crazy because of their pitch.

How did he get the malware? I have no clue, and neither did he, but often I see this type of thing when someone goes to a website that’s been compromised, they get an initial warning saying something might be wrong with their computer and to “click here” to check it out, and there you go. The uninitiated will fall for it almost every time, and my client would truly be considered one of the uninitiated.

The trick then is to get rid of the malware. His computer couldn’t access the internet, as figures, so I went to my laptop and downloaded a copy of ComboFix, which works wonders with XP computers; there’s no equivalent yet for Vista or Win 7so I’d have had to do a search on how to get rid of it for his particular issue, but for XP ComboFix is the way to go. I loaded it, then it went online to look for updates and it was ready to go.

What you’ll sometimes see is it saying you have some kind of scanner or virus program running. In this case it said he was running Microsoft Essentials, but I know I’d turned it off and I’d also disabled it under msconfig, and rebooted before running the program, so I knew it wasn’t running. ComboFix will still run, but it’ll tell you that it might not work as well; so be it. The program will create a restore point, then do its job, which could take awhile or it might work fairly fast. In this case it took about 25 minutes, but it killed the malware.

The next thing I did was install CCleaner, which a few people mentioned in my post on clearing out browser history, and ran it in both ways. By that I mean I first ran it to look through all the browsers on his computer to clean things out. Good thing I did because it discovered two dormant viruses that it took care of. Then I ran a registry check and it found over 1,300 bad entries, which I cleared up and then ran it again to fix whatever was left.

After that I added an antivirusand a firewall. Thing is I thought I’d added it to his computer last year when I repaired it, then remembered that this was actually a new computer of only a few months that I hadn’t seen before.

What are the lessons here? One, if you get a warning on your computer and it’s not from a program you know you’re running, don’t click on it. Two, if the message belies the action, such as a message telling you that your hard drive has crashed and yet you’re computer is still running, it’s malware. Three, at the very least disconnect your computer from the internet (if you’re running cable like I am) to help keep things under control. Four, make sure your computer has antivirus and firewall protection.

Oh yeah, a number five; if you go through something like this and have to ask someone else to fix it for you, ask them to clean things out while they’re in there and don’t gripe about the price, since you should have asked up front what it might cost. Even though I didn’t just sit there watching stuff running, it did end up taking me 3 1/2 hours to clean out all the junk on his computer, including all these programs that were automatically running because they’d inserted themselves into his start up files, large temp files from software loads, etc. When he got his computer back that sucker was once again humming like it was new.

You’ve got to protect your hardware; you probably need your computer more than you think you do.
 

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The Muppets – The Review

Nobody is a bigger Muppets fan than I am. I can’t count the number of posts I’ve done on them on this blog, or the number of videos I’ve shared. Heck, I’ll probably be sharing one at the end of this post. Last weekend I went with my friend Scott to see it in Rochester; this is my review of the movie.

The storyline begins with new characters, a couple of brothers where one of them is a Muppet (go with me here) and one human, and his very cute girlfriend. The humans were played by Jason Segal and Amy Adams. The Muppet brother, named Walter. doesn’t see himself as a Muppet, just a misfit in the world, but he considers himself the biggest Muppet fan and really wants to be one of the gang. When Gary (Jason) decides to take Mary (Amy) to Los Angeles to celebrate their 10th anniversary of being boyfriend and girlfriend, Mary thinks it’s to get engaged until Gary tells her that Walter’s coming as well so that he can take him to visit Muppet Studios.

When they get there, the studios are decrepit, and when Walter goes off on his own, he overhears a conversation by a rich oilman who’s planning on buying the theater and drilling for oil that’s underneath, telling everyone else that he’s turning it into a museum to get his hands on the property. Walter, Gary and Mary go off looking for Kermit, who they find living in his mansion alone, tell him what’s going on, then finally convince him to try to get the gang together to put on a show to raise $10 million to save the theater and the studios.

That’s the basic premise; I’m not going to say how it all ends except to say that, in an odd way, it ends just like one might expect a Muppets movie to end, but without what I’m calling the type of quirky goodwill and smiles that I expected. As a matter of fact, I have to truthfully say that I was letdown by this movie a lot, and that’s depressing to me.

Jason Segal had a hand in helping to write the movie, and supposedly he’s a major Muppets fan as well. However, I felt like he missed just what the Muppets were all about. After all, he wasn’t born until 1980, which means he wasn’t even alive when the TV show or the first movie came out. Not that people can’t become fans of something later in life, but I think his age made him miss just what the Muppets were all about.

This movie missed all the stuff that made the Muppets funny. There were no corny jokes except by Fozzie Bear. There were no running gags. There were no puns. There were no surprises such as being in the wrong place at the wrong, or right, time. There was a robot, and none of us could figure out where that came from, and the robot drove the car. None of the newer Muppet characters were named in the movie, and only one, Pepe, the giant prawn, got a true scene in the movie.

And there was a lot of sadness in this movie, way more sadness than happiness. Walter was sad that he couldn’t find his place in life. Mary was sad because she didn’t think Gary would ever see her as a woman. Kermit was sad because everyone had disappeared and he didn’t even have the dream anymore; this was probably the most depressing thing of all because it’s always been Kermit who believed in everything. Miss Piggy had moved on, but she was sad because she and Kermit hadn’t ended up together. Everyone else had failed in life except for Gonzo, who was rich, powerful and respected in plumbing yet yearned for show business (what he does was probably one of the few truly Muppet inspired gags of the movie).

And the music… well, I liked the opening song, but I’d have to admit I wasn’t enthralled by much of the rest of it, though there was a nice touching scene of the gang doing Rainbow Connection. When the first movie came out I went and bought the album the very same day and played it incessantly for weeks (well, when my roommate wasn’t in the room at least lol).

This wasn’t a bad movie, just not what I expected from a Muppet movie. As much as the critics panned and fans stayed away from Muppets From Space, I actually thought that movie had some charm and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Will this movie actually spark interest in the Muppets again? I’m not sure, and that’s disappointing. It could have been so much more, and I’m not sure the updated version had the same spark as what I remember (and I have the movie, another movie, and the 1st 3 seasons on DVD so I know lol). I hope so, but if it happens I also hope someone remembers what made them what they were in the first place. By the way, this was a nice tribute to Jim Henson, as they made sure to show pictures in the background with him and Kermit; nice touch. Okay, yes, here’s a video:


 

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When Your Cause Isn’t Worth The Fight

I found this interesting. I was reading a blog post by someone I interviewed for my business blog back in September, Angelique. Her post is titled Angelique Suspended from Google Plus. She was suspended because she doesn’t like to use her last name, feels it doesn’t support her brand, and of course Google+ expects people to use real names; they didn’t appreciate her last name being “Creativity”.

I found it interesting, as well as her follow-up post, for a few reasons (and I didn’t comment there because it’s a Disqus blog, which y’all know I hate).

One, I had the same discussion with her when I did the interview on my blog. I had found her last name and added it to the post, and she was deeply shocked and implored me to remove it. I hesitated at first because I have a set format for doing interviews on that blog, as opposed to interviews I do on this blog, and I felt it would throw off the continuity in some fashion. In the end I relented because I felt I might have been making too big a deal of continuity for the blog, just because it’s a business blog. It didn’t hurt anything.

Two, I had this conversation on someone else’s blog earlier this year as that person was also complaining about it. Since it wasn’t a Disqus blog, I responded that I understood the issue because how would they determine to list people with names that everyone knows that aren’t real, such as Lady Gaga or Will.I.Am? If they came onto G+ and used their real names, no one would know who they were, and if they put up their real pictures G+ might think they were perpetrating a fraud in some fashion and ban those accounts anyway, if you know what I mean. To date I don’t know if that issue has been addressed.

Three, I thought about my own blog. I have a policy where I won’t accept keywords as a true name of a comment poster. I need a first name of some type, and it can even be a nickname (cue Sire), but I need something to call you if I’m expected to possibly respond to your comment. If I don’t have that then I delete the comment, no matter how good it might be; the policy is just above the comment box and if you miss it, then it’s on you.

And finally four, as soon as you start to gripe about it in some fashion you almost have to catch yourself and say “it’s their playpen, so it’s their rules“. This doesn’t mean you can’t complain to yourself, or in your blog, but if you decide to complain to someone else you’re wasting your time and energy.

I’ll go personal on this one. I don’t think it surprises anyone when I complain about a Facebook change that I don’t understand, when suddenly I can’t find something. I do that for two reasons. One, I know that if I’m complaining someone else is complaining as well. Two, I hope that someone can provide a fix or idea of how to get around in some fashion. For instance, I griped when they seemed to get rid of a way to get to pages that I had subscribed to, which meant people weren’t going to find my page either. Someone finally gave me some guidance in finding it, and it’s still in a ridiculous place, and I moved on, knowing that there wasn’t anything I could do to change it.

Last year Google decided this blog doesn’t qualify as an Adsense purveyor based on a post I wrote almost 2 years ago on the topic of cleavage, a very tongue in cheek post with no nudity and what I thought was a very interesting point, and one where even if I’d agreed to remove it they weren’t going to reinstate this blog. I didn’t bother with it, just as I didn’t bother responding to them when I lost my page rank on this blog (I did get it back earlier this year). Google never responds to anyone other than possibly sending an automated message, so what would have been the point?

In other words, we all have choices to make when it comes to dealing with someone else’s rules. We either follow them or we don’t. This means we either participate or we don’t. You don’t get freedom of choice when someone else is paying for it; you don’t get freedom of speech in someone else’s space. At least you don’t get either unlimited.

What Angelique is fighting is the same thing some Egyptian students tried to fight Facebook with when they were protesting the government and were worried that their names would get them in trouble. The rules are the rules; no exceptions. If Facebook wasn’t going to change for students whose lives were in potential danger, Google’s not going to change for her, even if she’d written lots of positive things about them. Goodness, Facebook banned Salman Rushdie for awhile (you might need to have a NY Times password to view this one) and he’s well known.

You want them to change? Work on your website and blog, get it ranked really high, participate a lot in social media so a lot of powerful people know who you are, then take your shot. Now there’s a goal worth reaching for. 🙂
 

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