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Archives for: 2009

Failing Users

December 20th, 2009  · stk

This article was a long time in coming. Over 25 years, to be exact. However, it contains much more than observations on why software fails the users for which it's supposed to be designed. It also demonstrates a method of designing blog posts. Is it "just another post" or a "completely new website"? You decide.

Programmers Cut Off Their Noses

 
 
 

Are users ever truly satisfied with the software they use? The answer is typically "no". We need the software. We use the software. But we often don't like it. Among the reasons: it's buggy, hard to figure out, doesn't do what we want, is overly complex, the navigation sucks, it's got a steep learning curve or it's poorly documented. Take your pick. Why does software fail the very users for whom it's supposed to be designed?

 

Why Software Fails

Why Software Fails

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Scott·Family

Breaking the Piggy Bank

November 16th, 2009  · stk

A classic Norman Rockwell moment, as Alex takes her ceramic piggy bank down to our local credit union "Island Savings" and opens her very first bank account. At age six, our girl is learning how to save her money! She deposited $54.40 in coins.

Alex's Opens Her First Bank Account - Chooses Island Savings Credit Union

 Island Savings Credit Union Logo

It was classic Norman Rockwell. A six-year-old girl holding a ceramic piggy bank, sitting in the lobby of a bank, waiting to open her very first bank account. The girl was none other than our Alex and the bank was the small branch of a local credit union.

Earlier that morning, Alex asked, "Can I get a bank account?" (Since Dad is keen on personal finance - having retired at age 39 and opened his first business when he was 12 - his ears perked up).

Several questions later, it became clear to him that Alex understood the concept of banks (even though she couldn't name all the denominations of coins in her piggy bank).

Alex has a very special piggy bank, one given to her by her God-mother - a beautifully decorated and glazed ceramic pig, complete with Alex's tiny hand-print on it (Alex was two-years-old at the time "Wilber" was made).

That afternoon, Dad drove his 6-year-old daughter to the credit union in Cedar. It was a long visit. She signed multiple forms and it took time to count out her "life-savings".

It was a very big day for Alex and a proud one for her Dad (who was busy taking pictures of the event). The visit brought smiles to the banking staff, whe were very patient with Alex and treated her like a 'big girl' customer. Not every new account holder meets one of the Credit Union Board of Directors, but Alex did! She also learned the difference between tokens, coins and foreign money (as she had a few Pence and U.S. coins).

To learn more about Alex's first account, read on ...

Alex Breaks the Pig

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Updated: 25-Nov-2009
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3rd-Party Yahoos

November 9th, 2009  · stk

On October 26, 2009, Yahoo pulled the plug on millions of websites hosted on GeoCities web servers. It marks the end of an early Internet Era and one that affects no less than five of our early adventure journals. Restoration efforts are taking place. Learn more (including why the Internet is a house of cards)

26-Oct Yahoo-GeoCities Shut Down
Randsco Adventures Rescued from Ashes

On October 26, 2009, Yahoo-GeoCities shut-down their servers and immediately obliterated 15 years-worth of personal websites, made by millions of people across the world.

We rescued our early adventure journals off of GeoCities, reposting them on the Randsco domain, including: Scott's Big Ride, Rachel's 1999 Big Ride, our Oregon Cycle Tour and Wonderland Trail backpacking trip.

Begun in 1994, GeoCities spawned "neighborhoods" and by 1997, there were over a million "homesteaders" that had created personal websites. In 1999, Yahoo! bought GeoCities for $2.87 billion dollars.

GeoCities floundered under Yahoo's leadership. Terms of service changes, monthly data transfer limits, eliminating FTP access and changing advertising strategies drove users away. (We moved our home page off of GeoCities in 2003, because advertising changes interfered with visitor experience - and shared server costs were becoming affordable).

To learn more about the GeoCities shut-down, what's being done to preserve this bit of Internet history and the pitfalls of 3rd-party servers ... carry on.

GeoCities Restoration?

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Olympic Torch Run

October 25th, 2009  · stk

There are 110 days till the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, but the Olympic torch is on it's way to our little town of Cedar, British Columbia. Learn about the 2010 Olympic torch, the Canadian national torch run and more. If you can, come down and help celebrate the event with live entertainment, free hot-dogs and Halloween treats. (Olympic torch run map included)

Olympic Torch Arrives in Cedar on Oct 31st

There's 110 days to go before the start of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, but the Olympic torch was lit, in Greece, on Thursday.

The torch run has begun. It's currently on a 7-day circuit through Greece. After that, it will be handed off to Vancouver 2010 officials and flown to Canada, where it will begin a 45,000-kilometer, 106-day trek across Canada.

The Olympic flame will be passing through our little hamlet of Cedar, British Columbia on Day 2 of its 106-day journey ... coming through town on Halloween (Oct 31st).

For more on the torch, maps & the Cedar celebration ... read on ...

More on the 2010 Olympic Torch Run

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Updated: 25-Oct-2009
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Filed in:Rachel
Family

Things Rachel Loves

October 21st, 2009  · stk

Rachel loves scrapbooking and recently made a "100 Things I Love" page, partly using Photoshop. I carried on with Photoshop and made a pure digital version. Also included is a photoshop tutorial for the "text-masking" typographic technique.

Scrapbook Page via Photoshop

Rachel has been scrapbooking for a few years and she has improved her skills remarkably. Each 12-inch by 12-inch page she does now is a work of art. Most of her pages are vignettes of the moments of family life and - one day - I will photograph and put them in an online gallery - to share and inspire others with their own scrapbooking projects.

In contrast, I scrapbook online, with this blog. (I'm more about the words than the pictures ... but I try!)

Rachel's latest effort is shown here, a page dedicated to the "100 Things I Love". The page is a blend of digital scrapbooking and paper scrapbooking. It's Rachel's first foray into the digital scrapbooking realm.

I found an online Photoshop tutorial that explained how to make text from words, which Rachel then used to make her own "100". I think it turned out really well and thought others might like to learn about the technique. (Of course, because I'm the "computer dude" in the family, I took Rachel's final "100" and put my own spin on a purely digital page, which you can see by reading on) ...

Photoshop Scrapbooking Technique

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Filed in:Book Reviews

Infidel

October 19th, 2009  · Rachel

Rachel reviews "Infidel", by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ayaan was raised in a traditional Muslim home in Africa, she experienced an intellectual awakening in Europe and now critical of Islam, living under armed guard. In 2005, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

(Non-Fiction)Review of "Infidel"
An Autobiography by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

When I finished the last page of Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I closed the cover and commented on what a powerful book it was. Others have described the Hirsi Ali's autobiography as remarkable, amazing, or a a brave, inspiring and beautifully written memoir. All such acclamations are warranted as Hirsi Ali uses clear and descriptive language to tell the story of how she became one of Time magazines 2005 one-hundred “most influential people in the world today.”

Born in 1969, Hirsi Ali was born a traditional Muslim girl. She was raised in Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Kenya, where her family held steadfast to the doctrines of the Quran. Like the 6000 young girls that undergo female genital excision everyday, Hirsi Ali was forced to submit to excision in order keep her pure, as well as other cultural practices requiring her to take a secondary and subservient role in life, simply because she was female.

Click the link below to continue reading my review of "Infidel".

More on "Infidel", by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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Updated: 24-Oct-2009
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Filed in:CSS
Web Dev·The Web

Better @font-face Syntax

September 4th, 2009  · stk

I recently published an article about cross-browser font embedding, using the @font-face CSS selector. It turns out that the code I put forth causes a 404 look-up in Internet Explorer. A reader has suggested some superior code, which I put to the test

Paul Irish Sets My Morning Schedule

Funny how a single comment can change the direction of my day!

Paul proposes two concepts - new to me - in his recent article, "Bulletproof Font Face Implementation":

  • Internet Explorer tries and fails to download the TTF file (with 2-selector syntax) even though the 2nd @font-face selector includes a "format" declaration.
  • He proposes a single @font-face selector, which satisfies all browsers (obviating the need for two selectors), searches the local computer for the font first and eliminates the Internet Explorer "file not found" problem.

Okay ... this is techie, geeky cool and - for sure - not everyone is going to want to read about this, so here is where you should get off the geek train (if you haven't already).

If you're all aboard, heading for geekdom and want to be cool, then read on brave web-font enthusiasts ...

I'm a Geek, I want More

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Filed in:CSS
Web Dev·The Web

Improving a Lightbox Effect

August 31st, 2009  · stk

There's a spiffy-looking CSS Technique that's been getting a lot of play in the web-design and web-development social circles lately. Unfortunately, it's not a CSS technique and even as a JavaScript technique, it's crap! Did you spot it?

"Innovative CSS Technique" Making Rounds is NOT a CSS Technique

Even as a JavaScript Technique, it's Crap

This article, authored by Emanuele Feronato, has been getting some attention within the web-design and development social network recently. I've seen it Tweeted, FaceBook'd, Blogged, Digg'd and included in various "Totally Amazing CSS Techniques" lists.

On his website, Emanuele bills himself as an "Italian Geek & Programmer". Unfortunately, his article demonstrates he knows very little about web-standards, W3C validation, pure-CSS, graceful degradation, cross-browser compatibility, accessibility or white-hat SEO. He says his LightBox-like effect is "100% CSS-based" and that it's made "only with CSS - no JavaScript needed".

No JavaScript needed? What a pile of hooey!

The article is the most popular article on his blog, sporting over 252 comments and it's currently being shot across the design social circuit like it was the newest communications satellite. While some of the commentary points out the shortcomings, most (who don't know better) are lapping up this code - using it on commercial sites and passing it on.

At first blush, the technique seems very cool, but it's not code we would use and you shouldn't either. In a nutshell, out-of-the box it's crap. (Are you a web-developer, designer or programmer? Can you spot the problems?")

To learn more about why this code is crap (and to get an improved version) ... carry on ...

Turning Crapola into Shinola

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Filed in:Kayaking
Adventures

Six Days of Sea Kayaking

August 23rd, 2009  · stk

We just got back from our first-ever sea kayaking adventure, spending 6 days exploring the Canadian southern Gulf Islands. We had a great time and are slowly getting our journal online. We thought we'd post what we have, as family and friends might like to read about the adventure, as it unfolded. Cheers! (Busily working away at spell-checking and such)

First-Ever Kayaking Trip: Canadian Southern Gulf Islands

Descriptive and entertaining entry about how lucky we are to have such a wonderfully diverse, rich and popular sea kayaking destination right in our own backyard. Till such time as I cobble all that together, just pop on in and read about our recent 6-day kayaking trip.

Though we're no strangers to camping, backpacking, cycle-touring and other outdoor adventure ... this was our first time traveling by sea kayak. We can laugh now at some of our mistakes, preconceptions and landlubbing ways, but make no mistake - we had a great time and we're hooked! There will be many more sea kayaking adventures in our future (and Alex's too, though she missed this one, away with her maternal grandparents and having her own summer adventure at Watch Lake).

Note: The text is a bit raw, at this point, as I've only run it through the spell-checker - still need to go through and finalize it. (Three cheers to Rachel for all her hard work writing the journal!! Yippee! Yippee! Yippee!)

What's Completed:

  • Intro Text | Pictures
  • Day 0 Text | Pictures
  • Day 1 Text | Pictures
  • Day 2 Text | Pictures
  • Day 3 Text | Pictures
  • Day 4 Text | Pictures
  • Day 5 Text | Pictures
  • Day 6 Text | Pictures
  • Slide Show
  • Resources & Planning

 

Kayaker at sunset in the Canadian Southern Gulf Islands

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Crazy Canadian Contests

July 13th, 2009  · stk

Rachel recently won $5 in a Subway Scrabble promotional contest. Like all Canadians, she had to correctly answer a mathematical skill question in order to receive her prize. Find out why a "skill test" is a uniquely Canadian thing.

Returning from the floating cabin last month, we stopped at a Subway sandwich shop in Port Alberni for lunch. (Alex cried, because she wanted a McDonald's "Happy Meal" - it's all about the toy). Parental units decided fresh ingredients were more important than supporting China's export trade. As a result, we all had a healthier lunch.

Rachel also won a "$5-off Subway Card", after tearing off a "Subway scrabble" game-piece from her drink cup. Yesterday I redeemed the instant prize online (contest ends today, July 13th). I entered the alpha-numeric code printed on the game piece. On the next screen, I was required to pass the uniquely-Canadian ritual of answering a "skill test" question, in order to claim the $5 Subway Card prize. As per usual, it was a math question: What is 6 x 14 ÷ 6 + 48 - 14?

I've lived in a lot of places, but only Canada has a "math test", when you win a prize! When I first arrived, I thought, "Wow, Canada really places an emphasis on basic math skills!" It wasn't till later that I realized that the purpose of the "skill test" is to circumvent Canadian anti-gambling laws.

To learn more about the odd Canadian contest "skill test" requirement, you must first derive the Wave Equation, from Snell's Law of Refraction ... (ack ... I mean, click the following link) ...

Great Canadian "Skill Test"

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Filed in:CSS
Web Dev·The Web

xBrowser Fonts

July 4th, 2009  · stk

For years, web designers and bloggers have been limited to a select number of "web-safe" fonts. With the Jun 30th release of FireFox 3.5, it's now possible for cross-browser font embedding using the CSS3 @font-face selector. Here's a tutorial to show you how

@font-face font hell

Expand Your Font Palette Using CSS3

In a tale involving proprietary font formats and a week-old release of FireFox, I'm here to say that using the CSS @font-face selector to spice up your website typography is an easy, light-weight, valid and cross-browser solution. Finally, fancy fonts for the masses!

Can this be true? You bet your sweet bippy! Read on.

 

Fancy Fonts For All

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Updated: 12-Jul-2011
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Family

Last Day of Kindergarten

June 24th, 2009  · stk

Kindergarten is finished today. Alex is pretty certain she'll have a great summer, filled with lots of social activities. We're pretty certain Alex is going to miss school. (Class photo included).

"The Oop" Graduates Kindergarten Per Ultum Tripudium

There were no caps; no gowns. There wasn't any of the pomp and circumstance that graduates across the U.S. and Canada are experiencing this month. Alex just went to school at 11:35 AM and was released at 2:15 PM, just like any other day. The only difference, of course, is that it wasn't just like any other day, because it was the last day of kindergarten.

I asked her, this morning, if she was going to miss school (as I'm pretty sure she will, since she's such a social creature). It surprised me when she said, "No."

Exploring a little further, I asked, "Why not?"

"Well Dad," she said, putting her hands on her little hips, as she does when she's explaining how things are, "because during the summer, I don't have to go to school, see? And every day I'll have play dates!"

(I told you she was a social creature).

Unfortunately, as the Dad and one of two qualified chauffeurs in the house, I was pretty certain that her hastily thought-out plan of multiple 'play dates' per day weren't going to be the norm. I tried to explain that school was the ultimate play date and especially because (now) she's in day-care on many days, in addition to school, so she actually has more actual playing opportunities when school is in session, than during the summer months. (In our rural neighborhood, Alex has only a few kids to play with, within walking distance and none are her age - there are two that are 1-2 years younger than Alex and three that are 4 or more years older).

Of course, my argument fell on deaf ears and Alex remains excited by the prospect of upcoming 'social' summer!

To see Alex's kindergarten class photo ... head to the next page

The Graduating Kindergarten Class

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More NAFTA Woes

June 22nd, 2009  · stk

Once again, NAFTA fails to level the consumer playing field. This time, I ended up shopping in the United States for a Motorola MR350R two-way radio. I can't even get the bloody thing in Canada, at the moment. Find out why.

Motorola TalkAbout MR350R Two-Way Radios

On January 6th, 2009, Motorola unveiled its 2009 collection of TalkAbout two-way radios at a trade show in Las Vegas. On June 8th, 2009, Motorola declares the MR350R two-way radio is a "Perfect Father's Day Gift for Adventurous Dads".

I didn't know anything about the Motorola MR350R two-way radio until just prior to Father's Day, when I spied it for sale in a Canadian TigerDirect catalog. After reading the specifications Motorola MR350R Specs Motorola MR350R two-way radios specs Key Features  · Range of 35 miles  · 22 channels (each w/121 privacy codes)  · Dual power (3 AA batteries & NiMH pack)  · Battery Life: 27h (Alkaline), 9h (NiMH)  · Built-in iVOX hands-free  · Built-in LED Flashlight  · 7 NOAA & 4 EC Marine Weather channels  · Weather alert mode  · 20 call tones & "VibraCall" mode  · PTT Power boost  · Keypad lock, audible low battery, emergency alert, flexible charging options.   Click pop-up/link for specs at Motorola's website , the MR350R radio did appear to be an excellent communications tool for around our 5-acre property and floating cabin. Because both locations have spotty-to-no cell phone coverage and the radios also receive government weather alerts, they would be as much for safety, as for convenience.

Unlike most power tools I want, it didn't require a lot of convincing to sell the idea to Rachel. Yay! It looked like I might indeed be getting a cool "Father's Day" gift! All I had to do - I thought - was telephone TigerDirect and order it.

That's when problems began.

To learn why I ended up - again - purchasing the MR350R Motorola two-way radios in the United States and not Canada, why Canadians aren't getting a fair shake from NAFTA and how companies - like Motorola - downplay the Canada marketplace ... read on.

Deals South of the Border - AGAIN!

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Oop Loves Hardware Stores

June 18th, 2009  · stk

Scott and Alex attend the Grand Opening of the new Chase River RONA store. (RONA is a Canadian-based hardware store). They were thrilled to get some free hardware swag! The new store cuts our hardware store driving time from 32 kilometers to 13 kilometers. Yay!

Rona Hardware Store: Grand Opening in Chase River

Updates:
Save at RONA - Price Matching
Chase River Development - Sandstone

This morning, I mentioned to the Oop, "Rona is having their big Grand Opening today at 9 AM. If we go, we can get some free gifts!"

Being a lover of hardware stores (and gifts), Alex was immediately excited!

"I wanna go! Let's go! I'll go get dressed, right now" she said, bounding from the chair in which she was sitting and abandoning the computer game she was playing (Webkinz World).

We drove to the new hardware store in Chase River (just across the Island Highway from South Gate Center). It's a good thing we got there at 8:30 AM, as the gift bags were for the first 100 customers and there was already a line-up of about 50 people or so.

We waited a half hour (which is like a day and a half in 5-year-old waiting time). Towards the end, Alex's patience was wearing thin, despite the prospect of free stuff. As we finally walked through the front door, we were each greeted by a Rona employee, who handed us a re-usable shopping bag, filled with a Rona ball cap, a tape measure and a $10 gift certificate.

In addition to a bag, the Oop also got a helium balloon and (several) cookies. Dad bought a 4-foot piano hinge (to be used as a project with Alex, in making a dozen or so new bird houses, which we'll nail to trees around the yard and pasture).

For more about the Rona Grand Opening adventure and what it means to us, read on ...

RONA Grand Opening

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Blue Bird of Happiness

June 14th, 2009  · stk

We have a "new" twitter update status tool for our blog. See how it works (will be followed-up with a detailed discussion of how we made it, modified the JavaScript that comes with the Twitter API and some other nifty tricks we added). Some assembly required.

Twitter This, Twitter That

twitter bird

When the blue bird chirps, we've Tweet'd w/in the past hour.

twitter-logo

It seems that the whole world is a-flutter, over little blue birds (which are the universal symbol for "Twitter", a increasingly popular "micro-blogging" service). Twitter is used to make 140-character comments about what you're doing. You can even embed photos, videos and links - to be rendered in-place, by browser add-on applications. Use it to keep in touch with "friends", for time-delayed "conversations", social networking, staying on top of important (and not-so important) breaking news, popular topics, wasting your employers time or digging deeper into research: trends, keywords, news and other things.

We started tweeting early this year and I finally got around to customizing a "twitter status update", which you'll find in our "Site Tools" section of our blog sidebar. It's a bit different than most Twitter status updates I've seen and here's how it works:

IF you see the blue-bird a-singing (animated musical notes), it means that we've "tweeted" within the last hour or so. Hovering over this little blue twitter bird will reveal a stylish pop-up containing our latest "tweet" (140-char story-line of "what we're doing right now"). It's a great way to see what we're up to, see how witty we can be and we think it's a nice add-on (a mini-blog, if you will).

If you CLICK the blue-bird, whether he's singing or not, you'll get a pop-up list of our last 5 tweets. Each tweet may - or may not - contain links to web-pages or our fellow twitter friends, with whom we're "conversing". Follow the links to learn more. At the bottom of the 5-tweet list is a CSS-rollover link that invites you to "follow us" on twitter. It even degrades gracefully if JavaScript is disabled. We think it's pretty cool.

Coming Soon: A Twitter-torial covering "How to add a Twitter status update to your own blog", which will include detail about using the Twitter API, modifying the JavaScript, make a Twitter status list pop-up and some of the other cool stuff involved in making our own twitter status update tool.

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Helping IE6 Out the Door

June 12th, 2009  · stk

Randsco No Longer Supports Internet Explorer Six

Last month, we made the decision to drop support for Internet Explorer version six (IE6). Visitors using this eight-year-old browser will see a pop-up information box, when they land here. The box says:

quote

Update Your Browser

As of May 2009, we no longer support Internet Explorer 6. The reasons for this decision are many.

We strongly recommend that you upgrade your browser to a newer version. The current version is Internet Explorer 8. The upgrade is free.

Hint: For a better browser, use FireFox.

 

To learn about our reasoning for this move, what it means for visitors, the problems with IE6 and why FireFox beats IE hands-down ... read on.

Why We Dropped Support for IE6

IE6 is listed as #8 of The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time

- PC World Magazine   

Below is a short list of some of the reasons behind our decision to drop support for Internet Explorer 6:

  1. IE6 is old and antiquated
  2. IE6 is crappy compared to modern alternatives
  3. IE6 support costs web-developers frustration & time
  4. IE6 needs to go - now

 

IE6 Is Old

The release date for Internet Explorer Six is Aug 2001. That was before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center! IE6 is older than the iPod, the television show "24", IE5 for the Mac and the Hummer H2.

At its peak, in 2003, IE6 commanded roughly 95% of the browser market and created for Microsoft, a browser monopoly that resulted in a U.S. Justice court case against the company.

Success of IE6 is attributable to a number of factors:

  • Unlike early version of Netscape & Opera, IE6 was free
  • It was bundled and integrated with the most popular O/S - Windows
  • It was the best browser available at the time and competitors were lacking

IE6 Is a Crappy Browser

IE6 may have been the best browser in 2001, but this is 2009 and eight years is an Eon of time, technologically speaking. Compared to modern browsers - which are many and all free - IE6 is wildly inferior. Here's a brief list of some reasons why:

IE6 is one of The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time.

 

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Oop Shots

June 10th, 2009  · stk

A slide show consisting of 75 photos taken by our 5-year-old daughter, Alex, over the course of a year and a half, using her "Little Tikes" 640x480 digital camera. Our world from a three-foot-something, kid's perspective.

Photography from a Child's Perspective

Shortly after our daughter, Alex (AKA "the Oop"), turned four, we gave her a digital camera for Christmas. She's now five and a half years old and has used the camera for a year and a half, taking roughly 750 pictures all-told.

It's interesting to see what catches her eye, even though many of the pictures didn't turn out well. While we really like the rugged quality, ease of use and child-oriented design of her "Little Tikes" digital camera "My Real Digital Camera" by Little Tikes little tikes digital camera We bought this durable camera in Canada for approximately $30 CAD. It's worked well for Alex for a year and a half. Pros: The camera is well designed for little fingers, it's rugged and will take abuse, it has both a 1.3" LCD screen and a view-finder for framing shots, it's easy to use, has auto flash and stores about a 1000 pictures (64 MegaBytes). Cons: Picture quality could be better (it takes 640px by 480px shots with some spherical aberration and blurring). There is an appreciable shutter delay, which children must understand, before they can begin to take non-blurry shots. (One needs to hold the camera steady for about a second, after pressing the shutter button). It uses 4 "AAA" batteries & also comes in pastel colors. Thinking of getting one? Click inside this box or the link for more information & reviews on the Little Tikes website. , it has one major flaw - there is a one second delay between pressing the shutter button and when the image is captured. It took Alex a while to work out that she needs to hold the camera steady during and after she presses the button.

We figured that it was high time to show off our daughter's photography "skills" and share her visions through the lens. Life looks a lot different when you're only three feet tall and the things that she's pointed her camera at ... well, you can only conclude that they're important to her!

On to the Show

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Beautify a Resource List

May 21st, 2009  · stk

Sometimes we include a list of "additional information" links at the end of our articles. Generally, they've been styled on the fly, but we thought it was high time to spend a bit of attention on this detail. The resulting CSS-styled ordered list looks nice, includes a block hover effect, a "visited" status indicator and is XHTML/CSS valid. We thought people might like to use it on their website, so included a tutorial and ZIP file.

Adding Pizazz to an Ordered List

A lot of online articles include, at the end of the article, a list of "additional resources" - or links - for further reading and research. Several Randsco articles have such a list, but styling them is generally an afterthought, because most of the energy goes into the article itself.

Ideally, additional information links would be contained in an ordered list. It's semantically correct and allows visitors to reference a particular link by number. Unfortunately, we don't always follow our own advice and some of these links are held in simple paragraphs which may, or may not, be numbered.

We thought it was about time that we come up with a proper "additional information" list. By melding together some existing design ideas and adding our own CSS touches, we have constructed an ordered list that not only looks nice, but also includes a number of other features: a hip CSS roll-over effect; compatibility with fixed-width or liquid layouts; toggle-able ":visited" link status images; pure CSS (no JavaScript, AJAX or jQuery); and it's cross-browser friendly.

Have a look at the demo page and read on to get the ZIP file, learn about the design, look at the code and see the live example.

Styling an Ordered List

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Scott·Relatives

Scott's Mom Wins Award

May 10th, 2009  · stk

Scott's Mom was honored last night in a gala event held in Washington D.C., where she was given the prestigeous "2009 - Mother of the Year" award, by the National Maternal Society of America. Beyoncé Knowles, British singer Seal and his wife, Heidi Klum, were among those in attendance. The presentation included a pre-recorded message of support, from President Obama. See the CNNBC news video, proudly posted on Randsco.

Marilyn Kimler Recognized as "Mother of the Year"

CNNBC News - Just in time for Mother's Day, the National Maternal Society of America, last night, awarded Marilyn Kimler - my Mom! - the prestigeous and coveted "2009 Mother of the Year" award.

In a star-studded event that included such celebrities as Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé Knowles, British singer Seal and his wife, Heidi Klum, the Master of Ceremonies, Robert Winthrop, presented the Marilyn's award and described her hard work.

"Our recipient's duties also include selflessly contributing 52-hours of every day to people other than herself," he said, to a packed audience.

To see the CNNBC neww video of the event - which also includes a pre-recorded message by President Obama - continue on ...

"You go Mom!" said Scott, during several telephone interviews, last night, with various press agencies, "You rock!"

Mother of the Year Award Presentation

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Family·Our Life

Purr-fect Inspiration

May 4th, 2009  · stk

Our cat, Tuxedo, is fat, old and lazy. Scott thought that a positive motivational message would inspire him. See if it works

Tuxedo Gets Motivational Message

Scott's father sent Scott an email today. Attached were a bunch of great animal photos, many of which were amazing, fast-action shots. Scott loves animals!

Isn't Rachel is always saying, "Scott should have been a veterinarian?"

One of the photos, in particular, caught Scott's eye and he thought it might motivate our cat, "Tuxedo". He's a neutered, 17-year-old cat that lays around the house and is keen only on dinner, a warm lap or geting petting. He's not too interested in catching mice.

Scott moused his way over to Big Huge Labs and within 60 seconds - OKAY, more like 10-minutes because he had to tweak the fonts and colors - came up with this motivational poster.

For more about the motivational poster, Tuxedo's reaction and to see the 30 other great animal photos, carry on ...

Motivation for Tuxedo

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Alex's Easter

April 15th, 2009  · stk

Alex was really looking forward to Easter this year. She dyed eggs at day-care, at kindergarten and at home. She found a chocolate bunny, was given another by friends and hunted down fistfuls of chocolate Easter eggs.

Dyeing Eggs, Stuffing Turkey & Watching Alex Bounce off the Walls

Another Easter holiday has passed. It was less about Christ rising from the dead and more about our five-year-old daughter waking the dead, with screams of delight, upon finding hidden confectioneries.

"The Easter Bunny didn't do a very good job hiding the eggs," Alex remarked, at one point, after plucking a foil-wrapped chocolate 'egg', sitting in plain site, from the coffee table.

In past years, Easter had a way of sneaking up on us. There's no such thing now, as news of the upcoming holiday is distributed throughout Alex's kindergarten network. Before Easter weekend, Alex had dyed eggs thrice: at school, in day-care and at Sparks (young Girl Scouts). She was fully aware that a "candy-filled" weekend was imminent!

It's become a bit of a family tradition that we celebrate Easter at the float cabin. This year, however, we stayed on dry land. Rachel was scheduled for shifts at the hospital and our cabin-mate's were left high and dry, as their boat was in need of mechanical repair.

To learn about our land-lubbering Easter holiday, including photos of egg-dyeing fun and tales of a turkey dinner party ... read on ...

Oop Easter Fun

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Spring Break

March 26th, 2009  · stk

Alex goes to Vancouver for Spring Break 2009! Alex visited maternal grandparents for a week of fun, most of which has been captured in this online scrap book (Thanks Gran!)

Alex has a "Whale" of a Time in Vancouver!

I still have to pinch myself at the fact that Alex is in school! She's finished her 2nd (of 3) kindergarten terms and did very well on her report card, by the way. (Alex "meets expectations" or "exceeds expectations" in all 42 of the development metrics and improved over her first term marks in 7 of them.)

Yay Alex! (Congratulations and high-five's all 'round for our "Oop"!)

For her week-long Spring break, Rachel ferried Alex over to the mainland, so that she could spend a week with her maternal grandparents. Rachel returned after a couple days and we were "kid-less" for the better part of a week! (Not that we really took advantage of it, but we did note how clean the house stayed and - sadly - how quiet it was in her absence. On the plus side, we did enjoy a few "pub dinners" and even had a lunch-date at a sushi restaurant, so mom and dad enjoyed some "quality time" for ourselves.

Alex was kept very busy in Vancouver and even kept a journal of her activities! ("Thanks Gran and grandpa for taking good care of me! I had lots of fun and I especially liked making the scrap book," said Alex, adding, "Well, Dad said to say the bit about the scrap book, but I did have fun making it - really!")

To see what the Oop was up to on her Spring break ... read on ...

Alex's Spring Break Journal

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Mother of All Mashups

March 16th, 2009  · stk

I have John of wow-factor.com to thank for turning me on to an amazing mashup of music by an Israeli named "Kutiman". Kutiman has mixed a variety of disparate YouTube videos, creating amazing new music. Rarely does something cross my desk that astounds me. This did.

Israeli Musician "Kutiman" Mixes YouTube Videos to Make a New Vibe

Every once in a while, you run across something on the Internet that blows your socks off and redefines your very understanding of the world. So it was for me, when my Australian mate turned me onto Thru-You, an online album of recycled YouTube music.

"Wow," Scott said, replaying the music again and again, in an effort to digest and fully comprehend the creative genius at work.

"The vision, patience, technical and musical knowledge that's required [to pull together unrelated YouTube videos and mix them into a completely new sound] is just astounding," Scott claimed, upon watching (and hearing) "The Mother of All Funk Chords", which is the first of seven songs contained in this online album.

See if you agree. Watch Kutiman's YouTube mix and learn more about the controversy that it created!

Listen & Watch in Amazement

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Island Caretaker Job

February 12th, 2009  · stk

Scott's application for the Tourism Queensland "Island Caretaker" position has been approved and is available for viewing. He's made a quick, holding post on the main blog, with the link. Check it out, if you haven't already. Check it out AGAIN ... if you have!

Queensland Tourism Seeks "Island Caretaker"

You probably heard about this amazing offer during the weather segment of your local news. The weatherman said something like, "How would you like a 'dream job'? Tourism Queensland, is hiring a 'caretaker' for the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. It's billed as 'The Best Job in the World'. The successful candidate will live on Hamilton Island for six-months and must be willing to explore the other Great Barrier Reef Islands. The only catch: you must report back on your adventures to a global audience (via weekly blog updates, photo diaries and video snippets).

For consideration of their duties, the successful job applicant is paid $150K (AUS) for their six-months of work, provided with airfare and travel insurance, and will live in a 3-bedroom, ocean-view home (complete with swimming pool, golf cart and a computer with the latest video equipment).

Wow!

 

Scott's "Island Caretaker" Video Approved

It took Rachel thirty minutes to convince Scott that he should apply for the position. After that, it's been "Island Caretaker" nearly 24/7, as he drafted a storyboard for his 60-second video application, re-drafted it, watched competing videos and then finally taped his own, which he uploaded on February 7th. Approximately five days later, he received word that his application had been accepted and was "live" on the IslandReefJob.com website.

Watch the Video!

Scott then told as many friends, family, acquaintences and - embarrassingly enough - complete strangers about his quest to win the job. He'd tell people to, "View my video every day, vote for it twice a day and spread the link around - like you would spread manure!"

Kind of a crappy analogy, don't you think? We did.

Use the mini-menu below to read through a variety of front-page topics about Scott's "Island Caretaker" application. Head to the "latest news" section, to see all the gory detail. (We did warn you that Scott has been living 'down under', from 'way up top' - which has been, for the rest of the family - a little 'over the top'!) :p

 

"Island Caretaker" Pages
Front Page: (Video Accepted)
Video: Scott's Island Caretaker Application
Video Bloopers: Wry on awry
Deeper Meaning: Hidden Info & PZ3 Demo

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The Best Job in the World

January 17th, 2009  · stk

I've been so busy with my application for "The Best Job in the World" that I never posted my original article on it. Well ... now that my application video is submitted, I finally got around to finishing the article. Good background information, but old-hat to anyone already following along

"Caretaker" of the Australian Great Barrier Reef Islands

Tourism Queensland, in Australia, has hit a gold mine with their recent "Best Job in the World" campaign.

Timing for the campaign, which aims to promote Queensland's Great Barrier Reef Islands, couldn't be better. It was launched on Jan 12th, in the dead of winter for the northern hemisphere and on the heels of a tremendous downturn in the global economy.

If you haven't heard about it on your local news (weather segment, most likely), Tourism Queensland is looking to hire someone to be "caretaker" of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef. It's billed as "The Best Job in the World". The successful candidate will live on Hamilton Island for six-months and must be willing to explore the other Great Barrier Reef Islands. The only catch: you must report back on your adventures to a global audience (via weekly blog updates, photo diaries and video snippets).

"They'll also have to talk to the media from time to time about what they're doing," says Anthony Hayes, CEO of Tourism Queensland.

Upping the ante even more, the successful job applicant is paid $150k for their six-month job and is provided a 3-bedroom, ocean-view home (which comes with some other perks, such as a golf cart, computer and video equipment).

(Ewe ... sounds rough, doesn't it?)

If you think you're up to the task, just head to www.islandreefjob.com and submit your application. They must include a 60-second video (saying why your the best candidate), photo and contact details. The application deadline is currently February 22, 2009, but Tourism Queensland reserves the right to move it forward, once 30,000 applications have been received.

That may happen, as the promotional campaign has been very successful. Interest in the job overwhelmed the site's servers, shortly after the job was announced and Tourism Queensland had to scramble and add additional equipment to handle the web traffic.

I estimate that about 3,500 applications have been received, thus far.

Of course, this begs the question: "Will Scott or Rachel throw their name into the hat?"

Chucking a Canadian Snowball into the Australian Sun

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Ghost in the Machine

January 9th, 2009  · stk

For the second time in five years, my computer bit the dust. This time, however, armed with a "Ghosted" image of my operating system, it was a snap to start over with a clean install of Win XP Home Edition. Learn how Norton Ghost can allow you to laugh at viruses, corrupted system files, driver problems, malware and software conflict. Reimage your system drive in 10 minutes flat.

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A new computer is a bit like the attic in a new home - shiny, clean and empty. You are happy. You begin to fill it with your belongings and life is good.

As time passes, you store more items into your now, not-as-new attic. Finding things becomes more difficult. The attic is filling up and you're running out of storage space. Bugs, water leaks, the kids and other things are randomly damaging some of the items you've stored. Tools and appliances no longer function properly when you pull them from storage and try to use them.

"It worked last time," you think, "What happened?" Frustrated, you throw the item away, go down to the store and buy a newer version, perhaps by a different manufacturer. At least this new one works.

More time goes by. You take a Saturday and instead of having fun playing with your family, or going golfing, you spend the entire day cleaning the attic and organizing it. You throw away some items, reorganize contents of boxes, re-label others and generally shuffle things about. You feel good about it, in the end, and the result is that the attic functions better.

More time trickles by and you now realize that the attic is getting cluttered again. You think, "Didn't I give up a weekend to organize it, not so long ago?" Discouraged, you devote another weekend. Soon, "organizing the attic" becomes a regular, unwanted and unrewarding chore.

"Couldn't I just throw this out?" you ask yourself, looking at some loose parts to the dim light. "Better not, they might be an important part of a favorite game, useful tool or something. I might need it later."

Bugs, dust, mildew and chaos creep into your, now old, attic. You pull out your hair. The attic isn't even much good for storage anymore. It's messy, you can't find stuff and you can barely walk around. Most of what you pull out, no longer functions properly. Aaargh!

You realize you need to start over and you fantasize about a new, clean storage space. "Wouldn't a clean, new attic, filled with things like my (now old, moth-eaten) vinyl record collection, be great? (Since it's your fantasy, the record albums aren't old any more, they're in the same condition they were when you first stored them).

This scenario may be a fantasy for your attic, but it can be reality for your - similarly afflicted - computer.

Unlike your attic, you can start over with your computer's operating system. Just like it was 'brand new'. Remember? Bug-free, clean and functioning? Better still, you can also have spanking new copies of the programs you use, the settings you've tweaked, your bookmarked favorites, special fonts, treasured pictures, important documents and other precious data.

Best of all ... you don't have to spend days laboring to reinstall Windows (and the billion updates that came after). Nor do you have to reinstall every program, re-tweak the settings (if you can even remember where they are), or installing hardware and their pesky drivers. In less than an half an hour, in most cases, you can 'start over' with a 'brand new' computer!

Sound too good to be true? I'm here to say it's possible. All you have to do is purchase and use a disk imaging back-up program by Symantec called "Norton Ghost".

Reimage using Norton Ghost

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