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Archives for: June 2006

Filed in:Scott

Getting Off the Fence Project

June 23rd, 2006  · stk

Summer Season in Full Swing the Hammer

As a "jack of all trades" and retired geophysicist, Scott often takes on handyman projects, both to earn side money and to get the satisfaction of building something with his hands. (Of course, there's now the hopeful outcome that he'll lose some of those winter pounds he's put on too!) ;) This project, for our friends Dan and Jen, is a new fence across the back of their lot and a fence replacement down the side, shared with their neighbor. They have a large lot and it's something like 200 feet of fence, all told.

Dan has asked to work with Scott, both to learn about fence-building and to help defray some labor costs. This is not a problem and Scott likes working with home owners. It's more fun to work with someone else. Dan only has Monday afternoons and Friday's free, so it'll be a multi-week project.

To learn how to make a better wood fence and follow this project, read on

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Updated: 25-Jul-2006
Web View Count: 67239 viewsLast Web Update: 25-Jul-2006
Filed in:Alexandra

Sunflower Project

June 23rd, 2006  · stk

Alex gave me a sunflower seedling for Father's Day. She 'made' a card too, with a cut-out of a neck tie, sprinkled with glitter. I don't think I've worn a tie since Rachel and I got married, nearly 5 years ago. (Gosh, has it really been five years already? Wow!)

Her caregiver at day-care, Bea, was very insistent that we plant it and take Alex's picture beside it, after it has fully grown. We're not sure if it's because Bea is sweet on Alex, or if it's because most of the other seedlings didn't fare as well as this one. (We noticed that many other seedlings were bruised, bent, broken or were showing signs of "toddler abuse". Toddlers can be a tad rough on things!)

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.

It's what sunflowers do.

- Helen Keller

We brought the spindly, sunlight-deprived seedling home and set it in the flower garden, to be transplanted later. Well, wouldn't you know, it rained cats and dogs that evening and pelted the poor thing, which was tied to a Popsicle stick with some string. We let it "recover" for a day, before transplanting it.

A sunflower is an appropriate metaphor for how rapidly Alex is changing, right under our very noses. Each day, her vocabulary expands, her capabilities are greater and unless we pay very close attention, we never really notice the changes, until - BAM - how our little girl has grown.

We thought we'd honor Bea's request and file progress reports on Alex's little sunflower, during the course of the summer months. Follow along with Alex's "Sunflower Project" ...


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Updated: 17-Jul-2008
Web View Count: 58348 viewsLast Web Update: 17-Jul-2008
Filed in:b2evo
Astonish Me!

Fighting Spam

June 20th, 2006  · stk

Your b2evolution blog is a target for SPAM. What SPAM-fighting tools are out there? What works? Here's an up-to-date list of the SPAM-fighting techniques for your blog, with links to instructions and a synopsis of their effectiveness.

SPAM is a Four Letter Word

stop spam

If you have a blog, it doesn't matter what software or service you use, once you begin blogging, you'll discover two things:

• Thing 1: You are now a webmaster.

• Thing 2: Your blog is a target for SPAM.

You didn't sign up for these things! You don't care about htaccess, PHP, JavaScript, XHTML, validation, web standards, CSS and the like! You just want to blog, have it all "work" and for spammers to leave you alone, gosh darn it.

If life were like that, you wouldn't need articles like this one. The fact is, if you want to keep SPAM off your blog website, you'll need to play an active roll in defending it, or hire someone to do it for you.

Like those who dump garbage in the forest, SPAMmers are scum. Like the garbage dumpers, a SPAMmer has no regard for others. Their only thought is that SPAM allows them to send their bogus offers and get rich schemes to suckers at a very low cost.

-Ian Kaplan

SPAM works like this: Blog developers build tools into their (often free) applications to keep SPAM away, then SPAM developers (the enemy) find a way to defeat it, selling their software to people who use it to leave SPAM on your blog. The SPAM helps these people sell something (typically medications or website memberships, but it could be anything). By leaving a link with keywords, they get "inbound links", better page rankings, and possible click-through customers, which, in turn, means that anyone looking to buy their product, finds their site, on page one, of a web search.

Fighting SPAM is like a game of leap frog. A new version of blog software comes out with anti-spam methods that work. Everyone is happy ... until the methods are defeated. Bloggers are left to fend for themselves, until the next major release of blog software comes out, which starts the cycle over again.

This is where we are with b2evolution. The new version (Phoenix) will have some nifty tools to aid in the battle against spammers, but it's not quite ready for prime time. So what's a b2evolution blogger to do?

What are the SPAM defense options? What works? What doesn't?

This article presents a list of known SPAM defenses, with links to information about each, a description of the pros and cons associated with the technique and a brief synopsis of their effectiveness. I first posted the list on the b2evolution forums, but because posts get buried so quickly there, decided to keep an up-to-date list, with more detail, here.

Why me? I'm no SPAM guru. What I've learned, I've learned from necessity. I don't like spammers, I do like to "noodle around" and learn and I like helping others. So, there you are. If you find a mistake or know of a technique I don't mention, please leave a comment or contact me.

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Updated: 13-Feb-2011
Web View Count: 22932 viewsLast Web Update: 13-Feb-2011
Filed in:Alexandra

Oop Mows the Lawn

June 16th, 2006  · stk

Our not-so-trusty electric lawn mower died a few weeks ago and we've been having to beg and borrow from neighbors, so that our back yard doesn't turn into a jungle. The nice thing is that Scott's been having the luxury of using gas-powered mowers. After always having to "plan" a route to mow, to avoid cutting the electric umbilical cord, he's enjoyed the freedom of mowing in any pattern he wants.

There are pluses and minuses with renting. On the plus side, when the lawn mower died, we didn't have to worry about purchasing a replacement. On the minus side, we have no influence over the type of mower we receive as a replacement. The choices were between a push-mower (which would be a bear with such a large back yard) or an electric. We should be happy that we received a new, in-the-box, electric mower. Hopefully, it'll have enough power to do the job and Scott won't add to the number of splices he's already had to make in the extension cord he uses with the thing. :-/

scary mower

Of course, the Oop is excited about anything that comes in a box, so she was all over the new mower and insisted the box be opened immediately upon receipt. As much as Scott didn't want to put the thing together after dinnertime, a day after he had already mowed, it was either that or deal with Alex's endless questions, enthusiasm, and pestering.

"Is that a present?" she asks, "for me?"

So, Scott (and Alex) put the lawn mower together. She even took it out for a test spin, while her Dad was putting tools away and fetching the mangled extension cord, to give it a "real" test. Let's just say that Alex's enthusiasm for the lawn mower immediately ceased after it was powered on. It's a cute little video that shows how much Alex wants to "help", how she's growing up and her fear of things that make loud, whirring noises.



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Updated: 3-Feb-2007
Web View Count: 8599 viewsLast Web Update: 3-Feb-2007
Filed in:Rachel

Job Offer #1

June 7th, 2006  · stk

Nanaimo, British Columbia

After two years of hard work and good grades, we're starting to see the fruits of Rachel's scholastic labor, as Rachel has (just today) received her first job offer. Mind you, it's not in writing, but it IS from the place we are looking at as our 'number one choice' - Vancouver Island. Specifically, Nanaimo, on the eastern coast, north of Victoria.

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Updated: 8-Jun-2006
Web View Count: 21871 viewsLast Web Update: 8-Jun-2006
Filed in:Rachel

The Motley Crew

June 6th, 2006  · stk

The Official UofA BScN Group Photo

This is sooo like, Rachel.

"Honey, can you do me a favor?" (It's an hour after Edmonton gave up Game 1 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals in a pitiful game that saw them squander a three to nothing lead and, potentially, lose their goalie to an injury. It's 15 minutes before she bolts off to her part-time job at the Norwood, a graveyard shift.) In other words, it's late and I'm not exactly feeling in a "giving" mood.

"I need to find a way to get the group photos that we took with your camera, to everyone in the after-degree program and some are on dial-up." :roll:

"Okay," I think to myself, wondering where my white steed might be corralled at this time of night, "I know the right answer to this question." We've been married for, what, is it five years already? I want to keep it that way. I mean, my plan is finally coming to fruition. Rachel has her degree in nursing (just about) and can take care of me, when I'm old. ;)

"I could make a web page and let everyone download the photos, at a variety of resolutions," I offer.

"Oh, that would be great!" she says, practically dashing out the door. "And, could you do it sooner, rather than later? The photos were taken last Thursday."

(Photos expire after 4 days? I didnt' know that.) :-/

Read on to see how the knight turns out ... or does Rachel file for divorce? ... (Oh yeah, continue on if you want to see/get the group photo, too!) :D

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Updated: 6-Jun-2006
Web View Count: 10208 viewsLast Web Update: 6-Jun-2006
Filed in:Informative

Montrose Park

June 5th, 2006  · stk

The Seedy Side of the Park

It's the start of summer, with plenty of sunshine and intermittent rains, vegetation is flourishing. In order to keep up with the growth, I'm having to mow our lawn (at least once a week), tug on weeds and dig out dandelions. On the plus side, we're enjoying the weather and being outside. We're taking bicycle rides, pulling Alex in her buggy and pedaling along the River Valley. I normally don't pay much attention to the upkeep of our local parks, but today, I have.

Edmonton is a city of parks, boasting over 460 and the 48-kilometer River Valley Parkway, is the largest expanse of urban parkland in North America. But my focus today, is on our small, neighborhood park, Montrose.

We walk Alex through this park, every morning, taking her to day-care and again, every afternoon on our way home. We often stop and play, as Alex loves to ride in the swing and slide down the large, spiral slide. It's always been a nice place to hang out, but it's changed this year and I put my finger on why, this morning: Maintenance has lapsed. There's more trash in the park this year, than last. It's only been mowed twice this season and there is an unsightly profusion of dandelions. Crews have not trimmed - AT ALL - and the grass is three-feet tall in places.

I'm bullish on Edmonton and now, I wish I really was a bull! There's so much delicious grass to eat!

To learn more about the city's promotion of grass-cycling, weed control standards, litter and public stewardship ... read on ...

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Updated: 7-Jun-2006
Web View Count: 23230 viewsLast Web Update: 7-Jun-2006