Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Windows Live Writer

I used OpenOffice to write posts for my blog. It worked nicely and I like the spellchecker. The only problem with OpenOffice was when I wanted to publish the post I had to copy and paste. Sometimes strange things happened to the formatting or there were some other problems that I had to fix online. I started looking at other programs to use, firstly at programs that were already installed on my pc and then on the web.

I found a few programs that looked nice but there were always something I did not like about them until I found Windows Live Writer.


When I saw that it was a Microsoft program, I thought that it will only work for Windows Live, but you can you it to publish to Windows Live, Wordpress, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, SharePoint, Community Server, and others.

You can setup a few different blogs and then select the one where you want to publish to. When you do the setup Writer will also test the setup.

Writer also makes it easy to add Hyperlinks, pictures, photo albums, tables, and tags. Writer can also help you to publish videos to Soapbox on MSN Video, or to YouTube, and embed them in your blog. And just like photos, it’s easy to align, resize, and caption your videos.

You also have all the standard editing function as well as a spellchecker. If you want to publish your post just click on the ‘Publish’ button. Another nice tool is word count that show the amount of words and characters used in the post.

There is a preview tab to see what the post will look like as well as a source tab for when you want to do some extra tweaking. You can save a draft and finish it. You can also add some plug-ins for example Twitter Notify to send a Tweet announcing your newly published blog post.

Most Windows pc’s should be able to run Writer ( system requirements ) so go and download it and try it for yourself.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Where do you share social media stuff?

A new service, GeekChart, show you where you share most of your social media stuff and you can also share the results with all of your friends.

GeekChart works by pulling data from 8 social media sources: your blog, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious and Last.fm. Facebook is on list but not active yet but hopefully soon. You can also suggest other sites.

Once you provide GeekChart your usernames on these social networks, it will calculate your sharing preferences over the last 30 days to create a personalized chart of your sharing habits.

My GeekChart:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Google Unveils New Logos

Google unveiled new logos. They hope the design freshens up their look as well as improves consistency and ease of use across their sites. The product names will now appear in clean, simple blue lowercase type alongside the Google logo as shown here:
They explain the benefits of the new Google logo design on the Google Official Blog:"This should make it easier for you to recognize which site you are on and navigate to wherever you want to go. They are also consistent across all our international domains, which is especially helpful for people using right-to-left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew.

We are happy with this change since it will help us streamline our user experience. Count on seeing the new logos rolling out to Google Maps, Google News, Google Docs and more over the next few weeks."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Automatic message translation in Gmail

Gmail Labs has added a new feature that helps translate messages written in a foreign language in the email itself.

Simply enable "Message Translation" from the Labs tab under Settings, and when you receive an email in a language other than your own, Gmail will help you translate it into a language you can understand. In one click.

More info on the Official Gmail Blog.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Three would-be hijackers killed!

A young lady was on her way home in her 4x4 from an evening out the other day. When she approached the four way stop in a deserted area she saw the body of a man lying in the middle of the road. Realizing that hijackers often use this ruse to lure their unsuspecting victims out of their cars the young lady drives off the road and into the adjoining veld (overgrown wasteland) and skirts around the prostrate form. She thought that maybe it was a genuine dead person so she drove to the local police station to report the incident. The police escorted her back to the scene but there was no sign of the man who was lying in the road. While they were talking to the lady they heard a cellphone ringing next to the road and went to investigate. The police then discovered the dead bodies of 3 armed men in the veld where they had been lying in wait for her to stop the vehicle. She had ridden over them when she took her detour around the "body".

Serves them right! Why do they want to hijack people? And I know this is true because it happened to Liza's best friend's sister. And she knows the lady personally. But wait, it also happened to the colleague of Susan's brother's girlfriend and the girl is so traumatized she must go for counseling! Oh, and it also happened to Jan's nephew's fiancee and Ben asked if I heard what happened to his school buddy's sister? Hey wait, is this the same girl? But it can't be because it happened over a period of about three years. No, my dear readers, this is actually what is called an urban legend.

What is an urban legend? According to Wikipedia: “An urban legend, urban myth, or urban tale is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories thought to be factual by those circulating them. The term is often used to mean something akin to an "apocryphal story." Like all folklore, urban legends are not necessarily false, but they are often distorted, exaggerated, or sensationalized over time.

So it is a story told as true and just plausible enough to be believed, about some horrific, embarrassing, ironic or exasperating series of events that supposedly happened to a real person. It is also sometimes a cautionary tale ( a story with a moral message warning of the consequences of certain actions or character flaws ) Urban legends are most often false. Sometimes it is inspired by an actual event, but evolved into something different as they become distorted, exaggerated, or sensationalized over time in their passage from one person to the next.

The one above is just one example. There are many urban legends, some old some new. Sometimes old one's just gets modernized. My mother told my some stories that were told to her when she was a teenager and the same stories were later told to me by other people – just a bit updated and it just happened a week or month or so ago. One good example is the vanishing

Basically the vanishing hitchhiker is a figure seen in the headlights of a car traveling at night with a single occupant.

The figure adopts the stance of a hitchhiker. The motorist stops and offers the figure a lift. The journey proceeds, sometimes in total silence, and at some subsequent point the passenger appears to vanish while the vehicle is in motion. In many cases the hitchhiker vanishes exactly when the vehicles stops after reaching a point the hitchhiker wanted to be dropped.

So how do you know it is an urban legend? Some signs that a story is likely a false urban legend:
• It happened to a friend of a friend, not to the storyteller.
• There are many variations.
• The general topic is one that’s often on the news or what people gossip most about — death, sex, crime, contamination, technology, ethnic stereotypes, celebrities, horror or beating the system.
• It contains a warning or moral lesson of some kind.
• It’s just too weird or too good to be true.

Use the above mentioned signs and test the hijacker story and what do you get?

In the past urban legends were passed around from person to person or sometimes person to a few, but with our new technologies it is easier to pass around. For example you receive an email about the would-be hijackers that died, and thinking “Yes!, at least we've got some of them” you forward the email to all 258 people in your contact list. Some of them will read and ignore it but others will forward it again and so the cycle repeats itself again and again and.....

But it is not just urban legends that is passed around by email. Sometimes people will send and forward emails with good advice, health tips or warnings about something. In some cases it contains some truth, but mostly it is only partly true or completely distorted and sometimes even outright lies. And then you get the hoaxes.

According to Wikipedia a hoax is a "deliberate attempt to dupe, deceive or trick an audience into believing, or accepting, that something is real, when the hoaxer knows it is not; or that something is true, when it is false In an instance of a hoax, an object, or event, is not what it appears to be, or what it is claimed to be"

A nice example is the following that I received from a very intelligent young lady.

It was on the Oprah!

Dear Friends; Please do not take this for a junk letter. Bill Gates sharing his fortune. If you ignore this, You will repent later. Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet companies and in an effort to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test.

When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it ( If you are a Microsoft Windows user) For a two weeks time period.

For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you R245.00 For every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you R243.00 and for every third person that receives it, You will be paid R241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a check.

I thought this was a scam myself, But two weeks after receiving this e-mail and forwarding it on. Microsoft contacted me for my address and within days, I receive a check for R24,800.00. You need to respond before the beta testing is over. If anyone can afford this, Bill gates is the man.

If it was on Oprah it must be true! The young lady was so excited because of all the money that she was going to get. She sent it to all her contacts and she had a lot. She did not want to believe me when I told her that it is a hoax, but after she read on Snopes that it was a hoax she got mad at the person that send it to her.

Earlier this week I received the following:


Woman Arrest Law:

An incident took place - a young girl was attacked by a man posing as a plain clothes officer; he asked her 2 come 2 the police station when she & her male friend didn't have a driver's license 2 show. He sent the boy off 2 get his license and asked the girl to accompany him to
the police station. Took her instead to an isolated area where the horrendous crime was committed.

The law [which most of us are not aware of] clearly states that between 6 pm and 6 am, a woman has the right to REFUSE to go to the Police Station, even if an arrest warrant has been issued against her.

It is a procedural issue that a woman can be arrested between 6pm and 6am, ONLY if she is
arrested by a woman officer & taken to an ALL WOMEN police station. And if she is arrested by a male officer, it has to be proven that a woman officer was on duty at the time of arrest.

Please fwd this 2 as many girls you know. Also 2 the guys coz this can help them protect their wives, sisters and mothers. It is good for us to know our rights.

Do not neglect, fwd to your entire buddy list

The first thing that I noticed is that it is very vague. No specifics about incident or which law and then they talk about an “ ALL WOMEN police station” I used Google and found the same message in India and the US. In both places it was confirmed to be false and such a law does not exist. And then yesterday on News24 they said 'Woman Arrest Law' e-mail a hoax

I know people mean well by sending and forwarding the emails, but what would happen to a woman about to be arrested after 6pm and she refuse to go to the police station? The police will probably add another charge and that just because of somebody that meant well told her about a law that does not exist.

I want to ask you a big favor. Please learn how to spot a scam or hoax and re-educate your friends who send them to you. If you receive a chain letter or mass-mailed warning that you feel is really, really important and that everyone really, really should read, please make sure that it is true before forwarding it.

To make sure you can use Snopes or Hoax-Slayer or just Google it. If the email seems to be from a specific company or organization contact them to make sure. You may just find out that Mr. Alba Tross is not the head of the Dept. of Fisheries.

But if you seriously don't mind embarrassing yourself, and you feel that the email is not really a chain letter because its contents are so vital, and there is no way something as trivial as good manners can allow you to stop yourself from spamming your address book just send it.

Cheating again....

Sorry its got nothing to do with the picture. This is an update of the earlier post Cheating is for losers, but... There are a lot of cheat sheets out there. Virtual Hosting compiled a list of some of the best cheat sheet collections out there. You can find Ajax, CSS, HTML, Javascript, .Net, Ruby on Rails, Blogging and a lot more cheat sheets.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gmail now imports your mail and contacts from other accounts

I am a huge fan of Gmail and have been using it since May 2005. Whenever I talk to somebody about email I suggest Gmail. The most frequent concern from people that already use other services is "but what about my old email account? I don't won't to loose my contacts and messages"

The Gmail blog has announced that it’s now possible to import all of your emails and contacts into Gmail from Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, and other webmail services. You can even have your messages forwarded from your old account for 30 days. This new feature is available in all newly-created Gmail accounts, and is slowly rolled out to the old accounts.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Green, greener, Google?

Earlier this year Google blogged about the amount of energy used in one Google search.
Their engineers crunched the numbers and found that an average query uses about 1 kJ of energy and emits about 0.2 grams of carbon dioxide. But those raw numbers don't really put the environmental impact of searching the Internet into perspective. To add some context, below is data about the C02 impact of some everyday activities and items compared to Google searching:

ActivityGoogle Searches
CO2 emissions of an average daily newspaper (PDF) (100% recycled paper) 850
A glass of orange juice1,050
One load of dishes in an EnergyStar dishwasher (PDF)
A five mile trip in the average U.S. automobile10,000
A cheeseburger15,000
Electricity consumed by the average U.S. household in one month3,100,000

Making one cheeseburger uses as much energy as 15 000 web searchers! But I have to say a cheeseburger tastes better. You can read Energy and the Internet on the Official Google Blog.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Stunning Photographs

Stunning photographs by Ian Cameron. You can see more at artsyTIME or at Transient Light.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

How to Annoy Your Readers

I am rather new on the blogging scene and I'm learning as I go along. I try new layouts, design ideas and other things. Some work and some don't. I browse the Internet a lot and I see designs and other stuff that I like and others that I don't.

One of the things I don't like is when you browse a site or blog and you see what looks like a link with more info, but when you click on it, it's a pop-up ad. I thought that it's only me that don't like that. Turns out that I'm not the only one. Syed Balkhi wrote an excellent post "10 Design Decisions That Annoys Readers" about this and other design decisions that annoys readers. I recommend that you also have a look at the rest of Balkhis - you may find something else you like!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cheating is for losers, but...

Everybody knows cheating is for losers. You might win some small gains in the short term but in the end is it really worth it? You cheat on a test and maybe, if you don't get caught, you get better marks but did you really learn anything? Or you start cheating in your business and before you know it, you had a business.

But this post is not really about cheating but about cheat sheets. No, not for a test, but cheat sheets that web designers and programmers can use every working day. On Added Bytes you can find cheat sheets on a few different subjects for example Python, PHP, CSS, HTML, Regular Expressions, Ruby on Rails, etc.

Each are beautifully presented in both PDF and PNG format, and designed to fit on one printed page. They are not all inclusive, but will help you with the basics or sometimes just to remember that one that you forgot. Go check it out at Cheat Sheets - Added Bytes

Sunday, May 3, 2009

15 Unusual and Creative Bus Stops | Toxel.com

Creative and unusual bus stop designs that make the time you spend waiting for the bus a bit more bearable. See more at:
15 Unusual and Creative Bus Stops | Toxel.com

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Best Camera Ad Ever

Seems a bit old but I think it's one of the best camera ad's ever.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The green alternative: Goats eat Google's weeds

Image by Paul Esson

Google decided to take a low-carbon approach to mowing some fields that they need to mow occasionally to clear weeds and brush to reduce fire hazard. Instead of using noisy mowers that run on gasoline and pollute the air, they rented some goats from California Grazing to do the job for them. More info at
Official Google Blog: Mowing with goats

Twitter Search now available for Everyone!

I saw people talking about the search function available to the right of your Twitter stream on the Twitter website, but mine did not have it. Turns out Twitter was testing it with some users and it's now available to everybody! For more info see
Twitter Blog: Twitter Search for Everyone!

Official Gmail Blog: New in Labs: Extra emoticons

Do you need more smileys than the default ones in Gmail to express your wide range of emotions. A new labs feature adds oodles more. Go and have a look at the official Gmail Blog.
Official Gmail Blog: New in Labs: Extra emoticons