Quincy M.E. and Cameron Diaz doing the La Bamba
Pun intended : you may or may not remember that I have a particular interest in memory. If you read this post you can see why my interest would be piqued by a review of a book called “Moonwalking with Einstein – the Art and Science of Memory“, as it’s a very similar story to mine; someone with an average memory (or in my case, a terrible memory) discovers amazingly effective memory techniques, then spends a year memorizing all kinds of obscure things with ease, but ultimately, realises he still can’t remember where he left his car keys, or his car! and also realises that even though these techniques are very handy for some things, it’s still far easier to write down shopping lists and stick people’s numbers in your phone. The one big difference with my story and this is that I didn’t end up entering a national memory competition.
Joshua Foer is a journalist who began writing an article about the U.S Memory Championships, and then a year later gave as good as the other memory masters. “Moonwalking with Einstein” is bookended by those two events; his attendance at the 2005 U.S Memory Championship, and his entry into the 2006 event. What you get between the book ends is a fascinating exploration of the science, art, and history of memory, mnemonics and memory techniques.
When I first heard of the book, I thought it may only be for people like me who have an interest in mnemonics but it’s selling by the truckload and getting great reviews everywhere. The title “Moonwalking with Einstein” is a reference to the kind of mental image that’s all too familiar to anyone who uses these techniques. When the missus asks me for one of my numerous pin numbers, or the WiFi code, or similar, I say something like, “let’s see that’s a bear on a bike trying to eat a cat in a shell…. that’s 94977165.” So I found reading about someone else’s experience with all this stuff a fantastic read. Though everyone else seems to be enjoying it just as much.
- – -
And from a different angle, but wholly related, about a month ago I came across a website called Memrise. I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while, rather than the usual quick tweet when I come across a site I like. Memrise is a really well thought-out site designed to help your learn, or rather, memorize the vocabulary of various languages. I’ve been on beginners Spanish for the last month. I’ve been on/off trying to learn Spanish for years.
Memrise is by far the best tool language tool I’ve ever used. There’s the usual stuff: english / spanish phrases, with audio snippets. But every phrase has a mnemonic suggestion, a mem. It’s crowd sourced too, so you can add your own mem. For example a Fortnight in Spanish is Los quince Dias. My mem for this is: “Picture a fort at night, and on top, Los lobos have Quincy M.E. and Cameron Dias dancing to La Bamba.” How much easier is that to remember than repeating the phrase over and over and hoping it sticks? I’ll never forget that image, another phrase memorised with ease. And at it’s most basic, that’s all the memory champions do, and to some degree Savants too. And Memrise utilises the technique quite well, you don’t even have to come up with your own mental images.
What other language courses fail to do is give you the tools to learn. It’s a bit like buying a wardrobe from Ikea but they don’t give you the tools to build it. Memrise supply the phrases, and the tools to memorise them. By the way, I swear I have absolutely nothing to do with the site, I’m just very impressed by it. Oh and it’s also free. Completely free, as in no ads either. It also works quite well on an iPad. It’s as good as an app, without having to install an app.
The site also uses gamification pretty well too, something else I have a passing interest in that’s growing in popularity. Memrise gamifies language learning by daily quizzing you on your phrases. You get points for every correct answer, and creep up the league table. It becomes quite addictive, like in any game, always wanting to improve your high score and go higher in the league.
They also employ the metaphor of a memory garden, which works quite well. You have to plant seeds (new words), and harvest plants (add them to the quizzes), tend to your garden (practise new words) and water your wilting plants (practice old words). I guess it’s a bit like Farmville, except, instead of annoying everyone else on Facebook, you learn a new language. I’m just so impressed by the level of thought and execution that has gone into this site, without any profit in mind.
- – -
And the thing that ties in “Moonwalking with Einstein” with Memrise is that over the course of the book, there are a few characters who coach Foer in his memory techniques, members of the K7 memory masters, whose initiation is memorizing a deck of cards in a minute, drinking two beers and kissing the knees of three women. Or variations thereof. And it is these two guys Ed Cooke, and Ben Whately who have setup memrise. So I feel like i’ve been surrounded by these guys for the last few weeks.
So there you go if you’ve any interest in memory or learning new language, there’s a 5 star book and a 5 star web site.
p.s. I was discussing this with a colleague, very recently, who happens to speak Spanish fluently, and he asked me “why don’t you just remember Los quince Dias, instead of dancing on forts and shit?” and I guess some people can, but he’s just reinforcing my idea that a lot of people make the terrible assumption that everyone else learns, and thinks, and remembers exactly like them.
Some Stuff, Wotsits and Thingy’s from Zefrank
I’m subscribed to the Ted Talks podcast, so every couple of nights I watch one of the talks in bed. And as much as I love them in general, I have to be honest, I’m getting really bored with the environmental ones lately. There’s only so many you can listen to. I scrolled past ten of them last night and then saw the name Zefrank which made me smile and I didn’t stop smiling until it was over, you gotta love a bit of Zefrank.
If the video doesn’t appear in your feed, you can watch it here: http://www.ted.com/talks/ze_frank_s_web_playroom.html
Upsy Downy Spinny Roundy
Ever wondered what it would be like to turn part of someone’s face upside down and then spin it round and round? I can’t think why, but you’ve come to the right place. See Upsy Downy Spinny Roundy.
Life password overhaul
So you’ve been building up a long list of login/passwords for years now and most likely use a life password for a lot of sites, like most people who don’t want to be driven crazy trying to remember a 100 different passwords. Most sensible people will have a unique secure password for their email, ebay and Paypal. But then one day, you hear a site you use has had their database hacked, like boards.ie yesterday.
In my case, it was computerbits that was hacked last year, which resulted in someone hijacking my Facebook account and begging my friends for money.
So don’t take it too lightly, even silly sites like Facebook can be dangerous. My Facebook password was the same as the computerbits password. Then I changed every password I could think of, and every now and then I’d think of another site that may have used the same login & password that I was very glad the hackers hadn’t tried yet. Like a lot of ecommerce sites.
It’s a major pain in the cojones, but I’d recommend setting aside a couple of hours and changing all your passwords in one go, rather than changing them one by one as you remember, possibly months later for some forgotten sites. Here’s a list to jog your memory, starting with the obvious.
- Gmail / workmail
- Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Skype, LinkedIn, youtube, (social networking list)
- WordPress, Blogger, Blacknight
- Amazon, Play, Pixmania, Dell (Top 50 uk etailers)
- 02 / Vodafone
- Your ISP / broadband supplier
- Screenclick / Moviestar
- Windows logon / network passwords
- Remote backup
- boards.ie, yahoo groups, creative ireland, askaboutmoney, imdb etc
Then search your email account for ‘password’ and see if you find some more. And also try an email search for your actual life password(s).
Something else you can try is: Open your browser and type the letter ‘a’, and your most used sites for ‘a’ will drop down; scan the list and see if any of the sites need your attention. Then continue through the alphabet.
But before you start the overhaul, have a look at some options for securely storing a variety of passwords, rather than using a new life password. I’d highly recommend the Firefox plugin sxxipper for remembering your passwords and it also makes it very easy to login to sites with one click. You can also use it to generate random secure passwords. Or start using a Password manager like keepass (or 1pass for mac users) which will keep all your passwords secure in one place and you only have to remember one master password.
Facebook 419 Scam
Had a bit of high drama today. My Facebook account got hacked by a scammer. I got an email from Facebook asking me to confirm the change to my email address. I knew straight away I’d been hacked. When I followed the link to cancel the email change, I couldn’t log in to Facebook.
I thought that shit only happened to other people!
While I was scrambling around trying to find the best way of reporting it, The ‘other me’ was busy chatting to all my Facebook friends telling them that I’d been mugged at gunpoint in London and I was compeltely freaked and needed money to pay for my hotel and a flight home. The funny thing is I never chat, so it took me a minute to even notice the chat window after I got control of my Facebook again (took about 3 hours after I reported it).
Unfortunately I didn’t think to save all the chat histories straight away, they seem to disappear when people close Facebook. One friend said the scammer got quite aggressive when she asked him how I/he knew her. Another friend sent me an email asking me something unrelated, trying to figure out if the other one was me or not, (sounds like an episode of Star Trek, with two William Shatner’s fighting each other – and you only know the real one by the hammiest acting).
Another friend, who had his suspicions right from the start sent on his chat which was amusing enough;
hey john, need help with…?
I’m stuck in London England
I feel your pain
well…I had a visit to a resort in London and i got mugged
it was so scary and i have been freaked out
where are you now?
I lodged in a hotell but im in a library as we speak
I have contacted the Irish Embassy but they told me to get a flight ticket back to Ireland
the problem now is that the cash i got on me for my return ticket got stolen….
I need your help?
you want me to buy a London to Dublin ticket for you?
Don’t bother about that…you can just have the money sent to me and I’ll sort everything out by myself
you want me to wire you cash?
Reason…I got to settle the hotel bills and the hotel accept cash for now cos their credit card machine is faulty
so where should I send the money?
alright…you can have it sent to my name and my present location
John Braine….United Kingdom
do I not need more details?
you don’t need more…that is all you need
Do you know any western union outlet nearest to you?
how do I send it, western union or something?
I don’t need to give an office number, or anything like that?
you don’t need that
how will I know if it gets to you?
as soon as you have sent the money, they will issue you a confirmation
so you will send me the confirmation and I’ll use it to pick up the money at the western union outlet
Do you know any western union outlet nearest to you?
it will probably be a few hours, I’ll have to go on my lunch
when will you be back? cos i might not be online on FB…
you can just drop me a message via email address
here’s my email address below
How much can you afford to loan me?
I need 500 euros…
I promise to return it as soon as im back in town
I think I’ll get a ham sandwich for lunch
Have been meaning to move from the piece of shit Blogger over to WordPress for ages now. The only thing that was delaying me was that I wanted to re-design the whole site but could just never get around to it. So I grabbed the irrestable theme instead. It’ll sure do for now. I think most things are working but I’ll probably be tinkering with it for a while. Hope the feed is working as it was, guess we’re just about to find out…
Online payments site
A friend has set up a new informational site about web payments. Everything you need to know about online payment systems. So if you want to start selling something on your site and you want to give your customers some good options, or if you just not too sure where to start, check it out.
Webpayments.ie is a free and independent resource to help guide you through the process of setting up online payments in Ireland. The site has been setup in response to the difficulty often experienced when choosing and integrating a web payments platform.
And there are some really good animations explaining how online payments work.
Creepy voice: I see DEAD links
It’s official. I spend too much time with my brain directly connected to the Internet. See I’ve garnered this uncanny ability – hold on, stop everything, “garnered!?” where the hell did you pick that up? is it even a word!? bet you read it on the Internet somewhere – anyway, I’ve gained this sixth sense; I know which links people are sending me before I’ve even seen the link.
I got an email today and the subject line read “Cool video” and I knew straight away that it was going to be that tilt shift video that’s been doing the rounds recently. I even said it to the missus. “Oi Missus”, said I pointing to the unread mail on my phone. “I bet you anything the link in that mail is to that Bathtub IV video”. She did that grunt which to the uninitiated would sound like total disinterest, but is a sound I’ve come to recognise as utter fascination.
And I was right of course! T’was the the correct link indeed. And that has happened all too often recently. I can now read patterns in the Matrix. I can almost close my eyes and see a link floating around some blogs, flittering around twitter, then gently floating down to the seabed of The Web before getting a second wind and doing the rounds on email forwards and Yahoo groups. And I only have to see crazy video!,Amazing photo, or hilarious article in the subject line and I know exactly what link is in the mail.
So, that’s it. I’m clearly ovedosing. I’m going cold turkey, starting now. I’m disconnecting everything. No more internet on my phone or computer. If you want to get in touch, send me a letter. I’m getting off the internet for at least 12 minutes.
Voting is now open at Storyland.
Five months ago the call went out for new and established programme makers with exciting ideas to take part in a unique web drama competition.
The talented finalists have produced some brilliant content with buckets of tension, comedy and thrills. However it’s up to you to decide who goes through to the next round.
Watch episode one and vote for the drama you’d most like to see make a second episode. Voting opens 5pm Monday 16th March and closes 5pm Monday 30th March.
Rate My ISP exceeds 100 reviews
The broadband ratings site I built a while ago, www.ratemyisp.ie exceeded 100 reviews today.
Here’s the roundup:
|Position||ISP||Reviews||Rating out of 5|
|Top of the League||Smart Telecom||7||4/5 stars|
|Second place||Magnet||5||3.5 stars|
|Bronze medal||BT||11||3.5 stars|
Chorus NTL was top of the table for a while but slipped into 5th place. But with a hefty 14 reviews it deserves an honorable mention.
Eircom weighs in with the most reviews (19) but is 3rd from the bottom out of 12 ISPs.
Last horse in the race goes to 3 Broadband. They get 11 reviews and an overall rating of 1 star.
Someone from a particular ISP did try to leave 10 reviews in a row all with top ratings, which all got deleted. I since found out that it’s illegal for a company employee to pose as a member of the public like this. Naughty naughty.
Random whacky photos
Behold; random whacky photo number one:
And also for you delectation, random whacky photo number two:
But wait, it get’s better, they’re both from the same photo. No! A bronze god and a car in a tree, in the one picture!? Yessirreebob.
You like? More on The picture is unrelated
In the name of Blackout Ireland, I’m posting this Lil louis classic.
A very short story
“He lifted her bloodied head – eyes gouged out, bedroom door ajar, then looked inside, prised the knife from her hand and repeated the act.”
I thought I’d have a go at a twitter sized (140 characters) short story during the week. Though I did get one WTF?! reply on Twitter, thankfully the Dublin homicide team didn’t smash the door down; recently a friend of a friend of…. twittered about smothering her daughter, very obviously joking and in context. Soon enough the LA cops were banging the door down. Yikes.
Another face of the earth
I bought a foot spa a couple of years ago. See I’ve garnered this odd affliction, where standing still for any amount of time kills my feet and leaves me utterly exhausted and fatigued for hours. Walking isn’t a problem. Standing kills me. Have been to two different doctors to no avail whatsoever.
One suggested a foot spa. Or maybe I thought it would be a good idea myself. Either way, it is now cast aside, like a bathroom version of a George Foreman grill, stuck in that useless little nook beside our shower. Any time I am seated on the throne, it looks at me with that big fake smile, begging employment. I don’t pay heed to such folly charms and go about my way without paying it any attention. I’m absolutely positive that as soon as I leave the smile fades and those hollow eyes fill with veruca salt tears.
I must send it on to Faces of the Earth, where it may at least find some friends.
New site: Rate my isp
I’m definitely like a bus when it comes to blogging, have been quiet for a while and then 3 posts today. All my free time in the last week or so have been spent on building a new site: www.ratemyisp.ie. Our broadband isn’t great at all, so instead of asking the most frequently asked question on the Internet (in Ireland at least) I built a site. Was very surprised to find it didn’t exist yet. I’m quite often pipped to the post on a lot of ideas I have.
It’s still kind of in beta mode. I might completely change the homepage. And I might add a mobile broadband section. Any feedback appreciated. But I’d love if you could take a minute or two to add to the ratings and also spread the word.
Upgrade yer auld Browser!
(If you have no interest in reading lot’s of web design stuff, you could just jump straight to the why upgrade? bit.)
I’ve noticed a growing campaign among web folk to stop supporting Internet Explore 6 lately:
And that’s just from the handful of web design blogs that I regularly read. If you do a search, you can see there are many more.
Like every other web designer / developer, it would make my life much easier to stop supporting ie6. For the benefit of non web site makers: We have to put in all kinds of hacks and cheats to make web sites behave in Internet explorer 6. I don’t think it’s a realistic or constructive approach to stop supporting it. This goes for my own site and a lot of other sites I work on or manage.
The biggest mistake you can make when you own a web site, or for a company getting a web site built for them – is thinking that anyone else cares as much about your site as you do. People don’t want to invest a seconds more time on your site than they need to. A good few years ago, obviously completely ignorant of this fact, you would see a lot of disclaimers such as: “This site is best viewed on Internet Explore 6, screen size: 800 x 600, Flash version: 6, sitting 1 foot away from your computer, wearing a beige cravat and sipping a tall latte.”
Of course no one bothered changing a single thing to look at those sites. If something doesn’t work they hit the back button, and click a different link. So long sunshine. It’s up to you, not the user, to make your site work for everyone. There’s been a mass shift towards building sites that are accessible to all. Actually it’s a basic standard for any professional these days. Well here’s the thing; you can code to the best standards, and use the most semantic of markup but if you dismiss a widely used browser (regardless of how badly it renders your code), you do not make accessible web sites. I think that factor might be easy to forget. Of course the big difference is that if we’re just talking about web design related sites, most of your readers are going to have the latest browsers – so the question on whether to support or not should be a statistical choice. Like Cloudsteph recently pondered. And this blog there are more IE6 readers than anyone else. Same goes for a lot of much bigger sites I work on.
I think a much more practical campaign is to let the uninitiated know just why they should upgrade their browsers. So I’ll practice what I preach with three main points.
1. It’s easy
Upgrading to a new version of your browser or installing a new browser is very easy. They’re clever people you know, they think of everything. As part of the upgrade/install they will give you the option to import all your settings and your favourites/bookmarks. So you don’t lose anything and it’s as simple as ABC.
2. There is no learning curve
A lot of people hate upgrades and the drastic changes they can sometimes bring. But there are no major user interface difference with browsers. You’ve got your address bar, your back and forward buttons. Then you’ve got favourites or bookmarks. You’d barely noticed the switch. Maybe your home button is in a different place but there’s really nothing new to learn at all.
3. Why upgrade then?
There are many reasons why you would upgrade. You get a lot of added functionality. Websites will look and function as they should. Page load will most likely be smoother/faster. Probably most important is security. Using old browsers is not very secure. Especially in the ‘always on’ broadband era. You’re making your computer very vulnerable to all kinds of malware/viruses.
So if you’re using Internet Explorer Version 6, you should upgrade to version 7 or install Firefox. To see what browser version you have (and this is the same throughout most software) go to your Help menu and select “About Internet Explorer”. You can see which Browser version you have then. You have two options no: (1)upgrade or (2)Download and install. To upgrade Internet Explorer, go to Tools > Windows Update. This will bring you to a Microsoft Update site, which will tell you what updates you need to bring your computer up-to-date, including the latest Browser updates. Or you could just download Internet Explorer 7 and install it: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/downloads/ie/getitnow.mspx. And you’ll also notice that ie8 is on the way!
I’d recommend that you get Firefox. It is faster, more secure, more independent from Windows, and has a lot more functionality. It’s very easy to customise or install plug-ins. For example one plug-in I find very useful is sxipper which remembers all my logins/passwords for various sites. And I recently installed a script that blocks all applications on Facebook, so I no longer receive requests from anyone asking me to poke a zombie in the eye with a virtual pet. Also if you’re a bit unsure about all this but want to give it a go, you can install Firefox without effecting Internet Explorer at all, so you can go back if you need to or use both of them.
So, don’t upgrade for me, upgrade for you!
Global E-Commerce fail
Rant, rave, fume, spit. I am so sick of web sites who say they deliver to Ireland, then don’t let you proceed without a valid UK postcode. This is 2008. Sort it out! Don’t make me fill out a big bloody form if it is not possible for me to proceed!
While I’m feeling ranty, I’m also sick of the number of things you just can’t seem to buy in this country. I seem to spend so much time looking for things that you can buy in any other country. If you have a valid postal code!
Screw you uk.insight.com you’re first on the list. Yes I just might make a list.
A couple of freaky creatures have popped up in the last couple of days.
This creature was apparently found washed ashore at Montauk:
LOLed over at Irish stu
And this thing was caught trying to escape from the big brother house:
Fully story over at Fat Mammy Cat.
Please roll over
So I was looking for a physio in Swords when I came upon www.swordsphysio.ie. I didn’t expect to get such immediate instruction. I rolled over – but I didn’t feel any better. So I rolled the other way. No good. I better make an appointment.
Do you like to chat?
I have a confession. I’m an avid internet user but I despise chat. Am I alone? I dropped into Facebook a while ago and a chat window popped up. “WASSUP Dude?!” said a guy I used to work with but don’t know from Adam. “Gaaaaah!!” said I, in my head like. I wish Faceache had given me some warning so I could have turned off the chat option straight away. Which I did. Right after saying WASSUP!? or something.
Admittedly like many I was briefly addicted to mIRC 12 or so years ago, and ran up some scary dial-up bills. But the insane thrill of chatting to someone from a different country quickly turned into an inane trill. When the giddiness wore off, all that was left was mundane chatter and people slapping each other with trouts, which was then the equivalent of being bitten by a vampire, except back then then you actually typed
*Braines slaps VirtualGurl72 with a trout*. (Note: To be properly affiliated with the old school, you have to mention that you used to have to type lots of stuff to produce an action achieved by just clicking a mouse in this modern age). The attraction of slapping someone with a trout made about as much sense then, as virtual vampires do now. I have to admit, the Top Chat Quotes of All Time mostly gleaned from mIRC is well worth a gander now and then for some geek humour.
When ICQ was all the rage, I gave it a whirl but hated it, and uninstalled it quicker than you can say “Oh, I SEEK YOU! I get it!”. I briefly tried Instant Messenger some time after, thinking for some reason that it may be less annoying. It’s not just that I’m above the inane chatter in my lofty towers of deep thought. It’s those windows popping up all over the place when I’m trying to do something else of great importance. A disturbing attempt at doing a comedy sketch for example.
I’ll do my best to avoid the usual sexual stereotyping in saying this – but I am actually pretty useless at multitasking – and even more so when I’ve no control over the amount of windows popping up all over the place. I really don’t like lots of little windows. Not sure why. Maybe it was that brief stint in San Quentin. I also fret over chat etiquette much more than is necessary, which in itself is very distracting. “Can I close that window now?”, “How long do I have to wait?” “Do I say goodbye first?”. Nerve-shattering dilemmas I’m sure you’ll all agree.
When Gmail chat came along, I tried again. My list of contacts who were using chat was small enough so all was well with the world. People chatted to me with purpose. When the purpose had been purported, the chat was ended. Neat. But then the chit chatters began to emerge.“Yo John, what’s the story?”… “Well, I was working but I’ll be spending the next ten minutes wondering exactly how soon I can close this window.” (Apologies if you actually understand what the word purported means. I only looked it up after I abused it.)
I suppose a part of this is the fact that I’m not that good at chit chat in real life. I love a good old chin wag – and have friends I’ll happily listen to for hours. But bored hairdressers fill me with dread. And bumping into a co-worker I barely know on a long commute fills me with utter terror. An hour of small talk!!? I actually shivered just now. I also have a relative who, without fail, starts every conversation with “What’s the story?”. I’m never sure which story to tell. No – not good at the chit chat.
Myself and the missus have tried turning on chat now and then rather than sharing 40 emails to sort out some domesticalities, and profess our undying love of course. But we both get bombarded with chit chatters and run screaming, vowing never to turn chat on again, ever. It’s a bit like vowing never to drink wine then beer (in that order) – but not a fraction of the fun.
And the jury’s still out on Twitter. Ok it’s not live chat but it can get a bit chatty from what I’ve seen. Although none of it is directly to me, so that’s ok. It’s an odd sort of chatter. Like having a pint and listening in on the next table. A happy medium in both senses of the phrase. Maybe. I’m still trying to get into the swing of it.
By the way, I’m not talking about YOU in all of this. No no no. You and I had meaningful conversations. It was all those other guys firing up too many windows with the chit chat.
Installing and reskinning a WordPress blog
This post is both for people with web design experience but who haven’t yet used WordPress and it might be useful for regular Joes or small companies who want to install a default WordPress blog engine on a site at their own URL. So here’s how to install wordpress and how to reskin it. I’ve not gone into a huge amount of detail but it should be a good starting point. Let’s try the questions and answers format:
On wordpress.com you can set up a blog that will be hosted on wordpress.com, and on wordpress.org you can download the blog engine to install on your own site.
Can you be a bit more specific?
On WordPress.com you can quickly set up a blog that will be hosted on WordPress.com, so the address of your blog will be http://websitename.wordpress.com. For example: http://whythatsdelightful.wordpress.com/. You can customise how it looks to some small degree (and a small fee). You would typically choose a template and maybe change the header image as in the example above. However you have limited access to the markup and css and have to access these through a web interface, which I personally hate doing.
However on WordPress.org, you can download the blogging engine and install it on your site. This gives you full access to all the markup (html code) and the css, so you can do whatever you want with in Dreamweaver or whatever you use to code. The other obvious major benefit is that your web address can be whatever you want, or at your existing site.
What’s the easiest way to install WordPress?
A lot of web hosts have good hosting packages that make it easy to install extra bits and pieces and this is by far the easiest way to install WordPress or setup a new site with WordPress. My web host of choice is www.blacknight.ie . I decided to setup http://www.beatingrsi.com one night before going to bed and a couple of hours later I had it setup and mostly reskinned.
- Get a Soho package for €35 a year.
- Go to your control panel and then go to The Installatron!
- Select WordPress and follow the very simple steps to install it
Where’s my blog?
Your blog will now be at the root of your site http://www.yourwebsite.com or http://www.yourwebsite/blog depending on whether you installed WordPress in the root directory or a sub directory. Now you’re ready to start writing blog posts or pages. It’s very easy to use. Go to www.yourwebsite/blog/wp-admin and you’re ready to go.
Can I reskin it now?
Yes. You have two choices, you can install someone else’s theme or you can reskin it yourself.
How can I install someone else’s theme?
The process for installing a theme or a plugin is much the same.
- Find a theme you like. Here are some http://www.freewpthemes.net/ http://www.wpthemesfree.com/ http://www.freewordpressthemes.com/http://www.woothemes.com/
- Download a theme
- Copy it to your themes folder
- Upload the theme
- Go to your Admin page http://www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin or http://www.yourwebsite.com/blog/wp-admin and in the Design section pick your theme.
How can I reskin a theme?
There’s no point in completely starting from scratch. Pick a barebones theme that somewhat fits the layout you want, ie the number of columns, if any, that you want. The default theme that you installed (Kubrick’s theme) is a good starting point for the standard layout. The sandbox theme is another good starting point. It’s unskinned but has all the elements marked up, ready for you to skin with CSS.
The typical process from there depends on your preferences. I tend to design in photoshop. Take a screengrab of the default theme. Then set up your grid to match the width and turn on snap. This will make everything from here on a lot easier. Now, do your design magic! Here’s what I did for www.beatingrsi.com. I didn’t bother with the footer or main content typography at this stage. I prefer to get a basic design and then tweak. This is what a few of those steps look like at a high level:
How did you go from Photoshop to WordPress theme?
Open the original images from your default theme. You will find them in /wp-content/themes/default/images. For example open header.gif. Then copy the header from your design and paste it into header.gif, position it properly and save (or export as gif and save over original). Do the same with the backgound image for the page, or the wrapper image. And you’re off to a very good start. It’s all tweaking from here on. Start messing with your CSS to match the widths and height to your new images if necessary. Then start tweaking your typography, and add your footer if you hadn’t already worked on it in the original design. Then tweak, tweak, tweak.
It’s easier to work locally when tweaking, so open your blog in Internet Explorer (It’s better than Firefox for saving pages) and save it as testpage.html in your site directory and then change the paths to CSS etc.
I already have a blog. Can I transfer to WordPress?
Yes. It’s delightfully easy to import all posts and comments into wordpress from blogger or wordpress.com. At the press of a button you can have all content imported. Although you will probably have to reskin from scratch or just go for a new design as the markup hooks will be different (that’s the only reason I haven’t moved this site yet.)
What about blogger?
No! Blogger is fine if you want a blog at www.mysite.blogger.com and don’t want to change the theme much. www.johnbraine.com is completely modified but it was a very slow process. I had to use the online editor, and managed to get most of the CSS into a separate file so I didn’t have to wait on the VERY slow blogger – it was a very slow painful and painful process, as is working with blogger: You can publish blogger to an external URL, as I do, but after a small amount of posts and labels build up, it times out whenever you publish a post. I’m dreading publishing this post! I will have to hit retry every minute for about ½ an hour! So avoid, if you want to reskin and publish to your own URL. It seems the only “fix” for this is to actually host with Blogger.
For writing, management, publishing, or reskinning, a dedicated WordPress Engine wins hands down.
Update: For a more detailed guide on installing WordPress, see Gav’s Guide to installing WordPress.
Living the life
Anyone remember [the.path]? You still out there Kev? [the.path] was a free Dublin zine, mostly handed out at clubs and record shops. There was a piece on the online version that struck a chord with me and I’ve often thought back to it. I know a girl who shed a tear while reading it. I’ve tried to find it over the years and today I finally succeeded. I found it on the good ole way back machine, in the 2001 archive for thumped.com. Have a look around. Here’s the piece I was looking for. Deep breath… and go….
[I love...] lasagna – having sex first thing in the morning – watching the clouds phase in and out on a sunny day, making it cold and then warm again – getting the fightlink home and striking up a conversation with strangers – listening to wanky jazz on a sunday afternoon with a shitload of papers and supplements fired around the kitchen table – the singing of a glass as you run your fingers around the rim – the local green – destroying abandoned cars – walking up the railway lines on a saturday evening – eating coleslaw with my hands – the end of the acid – the way the bass kicks in and turns my spine to jelly at 1.30am – train journeys – the smiles on my friends faces – travelling around – crossing the liffey – sitting in abra for hours and cleaning my rings with the handwipes – walking under the westlink bridge in the middle of the night – sliding on ice streaks in runners with flat soles – reading – having sex first thing in the afternoon – walking down supposed dangerous laneways and streets – the smell off my fingers after chopping garlic – the sweet sound of escaping gas as the sixth dutch gold can is opened – dutch gold, god bless our brewing cousins in the netherlands – sleeping on the floor of a strangers house – not knowing exactly what day it is when i’m unemployed – being unemployed when the weather is beautiful – shaded lightbulbs – having a double bed duvet on a single bed – the way that pizza burns the roof of my mouth when it comes straight out of the oven – the scream of the baby behind me on the bus – getting nettle stings – climbing trees – the observation tower in smithfield – low grade graffiti on lamps, shop shutters and buses – getting crossbars off the phillips head screwdriver down gardiner street, and breaking the lights at summerhill and sean macdermott street – listening to filthy techno in a small flat on camden street at 9am on a saturday morning, drinking wine from the spar – knowing where different numbered dublin buses go to – kebabs – scoring with the girl standing next to me in the queue for the kebab – not knowing exactly where i am – walking for hours – the mosque in clonskeagh – playing football on the road with kids ten years younger than me – writing confusing graffiti – the terminus of any bus – the rustle of the leaves at night – writing letters to people i havent seen in years – swimming my chips in vinegar – bumping into people – paved streets – the way traffic lights switch colour and don’t have any effect when the streets are closed to cars and crowded with people – the way fireworks make me laugh uncontrollably and make my eyes water – the M50 – the airport – early houses – talking with barflies in early houses – trying to find out the literal translation of peoples names in irish – friendly dogs – getting photographs back from the chemist, six months after you first took them – sneaking into stephens green at night – cycling along shouting abuse at people queuing for arsehole pubs – the way wilma makes toasted cheese sandwiches – the way i get involuntary twitches and tingles at the base of my back when a girl whispers anything in my ear – being in a car going over a speed ramp at 40mph – the view from the smithfield tower – the horse market – the roundabout in ballymun – finding out the history of street names – the roundabout at the M50/navan road junction – letting a watermelon drop from a height and seeing it burst – putting a tomato in the microwave – handing out freesheets outside tacky chart nightclubs – doing the rounds of record shops on a saturday afternoon – the shatter of a back windscreen – climbing into boarded up houses – staying in bed all day to have sex – losing count of how many orgasms she’s had – turning down the heat at the end of a shower to freezing cold – the noise of two snooker balls clacking off each other – exchanging glances with people opposite you on the train – that second glance from someone you liked passing by you on grafton street – christchurch bells on new years eve – slopes – curves – ellipses – ovals – sine wave graphs – stone buildings – talking shit with builders – taking sick days off work, and getting paid for them – pirate radio stations – envelope seals that taste nice – dimmer switches – the hiss and crack from the stylus as it connects with the vinyl – old childhood toys – candles lit during electricity blackouts – cracked mirrors – hot presses filled with warm towels – getting locked with my dad – getting locked with my grandad – the noise a computer gives off when a mobile phone signal comes near it – tia maria mixed with milk and ice – eating a lemon – bonfires – the ordinance survey of ireland map book of dublin – cushions strewn around the floor – having pillow fights, and then having sex afterwards – playing chess for extended periods of time – plush heavy sofas – oranges – mandarins – strawberries – peaches – pears – emmental cheese – heavy stolen cutlery – sandwich toasters encrusted with crap after post-usage non-cleaning – beef burgundy – going to bed naked – going to bed naked, after a shower, with clean sheets on the bed – sleeping for 16 hours – eating dry pasta very slowly – the almost inaudible pop from the speakers as the amp is turned on – the way wheels appear like they are going backwards when a car is travelling fast – the doppler effect – the drone of a lawnmower – the smack of wood on willow – streetlights in stoneybatter – buzzing off kids on shoplifting sprees on a sunday afternoon – sitting on the back seat on the upstairs deck of the bus – the smell of skin after lying in the sunshine – freshly cut grass – snowfights – sitting on an old piece of carpet on the local green at 5am watching the sun come up, fucked off my head – fireflies – red hot poker plants in bloom – sitting around the botanical gardens in glasnevin with cold cans of dutch gold bought from the nearby off-license – having mess fights with your friends – playing chasing – making up new games to play with a football – making huts next to the canal – sitting in the IFSC circle of seats at 3am after the funnel – gossiping with mothers on the road about the state of the world – the smell of petrol – ringing wilma at night – leaving obscure garbled messages for shanahap from the toilet – the repetitive beat of the street crossing beeper – crossing the road when you shouldn’t – sitting outside porno shops and laughing at the people coming out – going into porno shops – doing ‘genies’ with matchboxes – the way my ankles click when i walk – weekend country excursions – climbing hills – walking through woods next to a river at midnight – fondling – caressing – tasting – touching – arousing – tickling – sucking – kissing – waking up and doing it all again – eating in bed – eating out in bed – eating out – flaking out – freaking out – making out – making up – cracking up – cracking eggshells – cracks in a glass pane – stepping to avoid the cracks in the pavement – shaving peoples heads – the digitised tweak of a voice on a bad 087 line – falling asleep on benches – arm wrestling – knacker drinking in o’connell street – buzzing off gardai while walking around on a sunday morning while looking for an open pub – making up fake histories to tourists – the whirr of an old line printer – digging out splinters – the woman who dances in the middle of o’connell street (where have you gone?) – religious nutcakes with megaphones – klaxon horns at raves – dreadlocks – happy cycling – puking after bad food – running around the black church backwards three times – rummaging in skips – jumping off walls onto mattresses – trampolines – tom tay – edenmore aok – the sticky floor of the savoy cinema – trams and the noises they make – hearing through the wall the adolescents next door having onset-puberty-driven rows with their parents – playing hide and seek – waking up in the sun with drool on your arm – doyles shop in blanchardstown (rest in peace) – free reading in easons – using the records and decks in hmv to hone my ‘scratching’ skills – calling for people at 4am – the blessington street basin – the lingering imprint of a kiss on my cheek – giving people presents for no reason – having curry for breakfast – silver birches – maple syrup straight from the trees – cycling on kids bikes – sheets of lightning flaring up the night sky – sitting on balconies of flat blocks and watching the people go by – the sheer size of dunsink dump – handbrake turns – the ring of car alarms everywhere after a flash hail storm – the way you can almost feel the sky go heavy before it rains – playing football ankle deep in mud – doing amateur diy work around the house – jumping into an outdoor swimming pool on a hot day – taking polaroids of each other – swapping tapes – getting tax back – watching an old factory get demolished with explosives – giving it loads – standing next to the speaker stack all night and then waking up the next day with a high pitched ringing tone in your ears – bullshitting to taxi drivers about what you do for a living – making up incidents you saw on buses before to the bus driver – pretending to talk in your sleep on the bus, making obscene sexual remarks – painting the kerbs weird colours – vapour trails of perfume – the flow of a warm breeze in my hair – seeing old neighbours around and talking shit with them – sending birthday cards – making websites – going to trad nights – drinking in shithole pubs – imagining the world in different colours – learning a new language – talking in slang – basements – attics – conservatories – hearing sandra’s voice again on the phone – drunken tekken marathons with my friends – hanging about in arcades all day.
Pork and Beans
No doubt this will be the most memed video ever, Weezer’s latest video features, nothing but memes, marketing genius.
Cubescape has been doing the rounds for the last week or so. Give it a try if you like building things with blocks. “A tool for isometric jiggery pokery” is how Themaninblue puts it. Here are some of his favourites. I’m surprised no one’s tried any animation yet. I’ve just done a simple snake animation. No doubt there’ll be much better ones.
Robot dog parody
Boston dynamics have created this amazing robot dog.
Here’s a great plug-in for your browser. It’s called Piclens, installs in the blink of an eye and works great. It’s a photo browser for sites like flickr, Picasa, and facebook. Searching through Google images is no longer a chore. Jesus I sound like I’m straight out of an Ad – it’s just really handy. Below is a video of me looking around Gingerpixel‘s Flickr photos, although the crap quality doesn’t really show off how good it looks, you can kind of see how easy it is to use.
Dissection of a favourite web video
I got sent this clip years ago, pre-youtube. I downloaded it and watched it again and again. There’s something strangely addictive about it. I think its got less to do with the surprise of a buttoned-up choir boy being able to dance like that, and more to do with the power of that infectious bassline. The whole clip reminds me of a really good house night and those perfect moments where no one can resist the urge to smile and wiggle their ass to some ass-shaking bass.
Now that it’s doing the rounds on youtube, I noticed in the comments that someone has ID’d the track. I’ve been humming that for years wondering what it was. Go Web 2.0! It’s Hollywood Swinging by Kool & the Gang
Like most follow-ups to accidental internet fame, Jon Arons (aka “The Trombone Guy”) fails miserably in his attemempts here to include any of the elements from the Steve Harvey show. There’s no crowd interaction, he *doesn’t* look like a straight up card-carrying christian, there’s no crowd interaction, and there’s no kick ass track. Actually there’s nothing but Jon Arons looking way too cool for cats.
Having said all that (and all that being a lot more than I intended to say!), Trombone guy isn’t a patch on my favourite web video ever, Robotboy dance…
I’ve since watched LOADS of David Elsewhere Bernal videos. And I’ve got Elsewhere’s Detours DVD. And there are some amazing clips on both but none of them give me the goosepimples that the Kollaboration video does, even after hundreds of viewings.
Next week, the man, the legend… Jesus, and just why he chose to appear on a dog’s arse…
Fighting with your neighbours through cartoons
This is hilarious. It’s the kind of situation I could easily imagine myself getting into. Jess Fink, a renowned illustrator and cartoonist has had a few weird interactions with an odd neighbour in her apartment block. She’s been documenting the story in the form of a cartoon and posting it on her livejournal page.
Here’s the story so far
This post has been blatantly ripped from a creative ireland post.
A real Chuck Norris fact
Voting is now open for the New Humanist’s bad faith awards. I think Chuck Norris is a clear winner. He said if he was a president he would tattoo an American flag with the words ‘In God we trust’ on the forehead of every atheist. What a cock. Though you’d be tempted to dismiss him as a looney and give it to that other cock who thought the summer’s floods were God’s punishment for Britain’s liberal attitude to homosexuality.
- Top 10 books of 2012
- The truth about tattoo removal
- CABBAGE CONTROLS – some thoughts on Prometheus casting
- Power’s Short story
- Books of the (last) year
- Pruning your feeds
- That other time I went to the States…
- Quincy M.E. and Cameron Diaz doing the La Bamba
- Different folks, different strokes
- Family cinema design
- Seat hogs
- Super Fly Guy
- Doctor Heiter’s Connections