There’s no place like home.

Happy Holidays to you dear readers! Welcome to the new home of Bone of Contention. Despite things not being totally finished, I felt that enough was in place to invite you to my new easy-to-remember website/blog – nickrenfroe.com. The “work” area is still under construction, I intend to add a section on Community Service, and I want to have a section dedicated just to dogs – mostly pictures of dogs I know and love. More posts to follow soon…

M&M
M&M

Be safe during your travels whether brief or extended. My wish for us all is to find some peace and focus on the many positives in our lives during this season.

Good Guys
Good Guys

 

The next Blog Project

The results of the latest informal poll are in: you guys like the serialized story approach.
I checked with my two original reviewers, Kelly and Karen, before releasing the dog tales as a serial and they were both all for it. The Fromminatrix, one of my regular readers, reported some specific advantages of the format: the shorter length episodes are easier to digest in traditional blog-sized bites and the innate cliffhanger nature of the format creates a bit of anticipation for the next chapter/conclusion. So I am going with serials for some of the longer tales I plan to share here.

There will be some shorter tales, and some chatty general info posts (kinda like this one), but I am moving towards telling and sharing some longer stories.

Right now, I am working on some Tech related material. I don’t have it all plotted out yet, so I don’t know how many episodes, or how the material will be sorted. A lot of issues come into the interconnected larger story. I think I am going to have to write it out some more before the shape reveals itself.

The goal is to tell a tale about how we use tech (specifically media – TV, audio/e-books, movies, music – though the same principles should apply to most if not all forms of downloadable content) and how this has been and continues to change. One end goal is to talk about the new innovations Apple has released recently and will be releasing throughout this Fall (including iOS5) and how these innovations can change the playing field.

Some of the things that come up along the way: a bit of backstory on how the way I use media has changed (not the whole history of that, just since about 2006 when I went sans TV), how living in India impacted this story, a few bits on regulations and poor global vision, the limitations of the law and regulation, a view (or maybe two or three) of what content delivery may look like “in the future”, and a bunch of cool gadgets.

Towards the end, I will share with you what has been my vision for how to continue to adapt my system to greater efficiency while carrying less crap on the road, and finally how Apple has (seemingly) decided to solve a lot of these problems for me.

That is a lot. We shall see how it comes out. But I think that it will be fun and interesting even for folks who don’t care a lot about tech. If you do care about tech, and if you have some content portability issues that you are trying to figure out, you just may find some solutions as the story unfolds.

As always, thanks for reading. Thanks for your support. Your suggestions, comments, and input are always welcome.

Be back at you soon.

Test Two

Pardon again my email subscribed pals. Working out some kinks (hopefully).

Testing

Sorry folks. Just testing some browser/wordpress/facebook settings

A little resume and lots of geeky tech talk

 

A) I finished a reasonable draft of my resume last night, crafted for the current first phase of the job hunt, and have it out to three editors.  I was jazzed and could not get to sleep until about 3:45 this morning, so i am a little tired.  Once i incorporate the feedback i will have it online should you wish to: read it for pleasure, help with edits, hire me…  You can read the old version if you like.

Initially, i will simply replace this existing resume with the new one, but i am also crafting a narrative style bio for the web to replace the resume. Though for ease until i get hired somewhere else, i will probably implement a ‘download pdf resume’ button.  With the resume “nearly done”, i can press forward with slightly less unsavory tasks – finishing re-writing the rest of the RAI website.

Meeting of the MINDS - DC 2004

B) I am still working on transitioning to a self-hosted environment for this blog.  So far i am still stalled at the initial phase.  I have all the pre-pre work done, but the true first step “install WordPress on your website” – that one is still holding me up.  I did find and fix a slight (though probably inconsequential) error in the sample php config document the comes with the WordPress install download package, that you have to edit so that it will talk to your MySQL database, but that has not made everything groovy yet.  I do think it could have helped because i am getting different error messages than i was before.  I thought i had this all figured out, but i took a shortcut that may or may not have made any difference.  After deleting all the old install files from my site, and deleting the first database as well – in order to do a fresh and clean install, i assigned many of the same values in the new (second) database that i used in the first database.  Probably should not matter, but i do not really know what was wrong the first time, so i am trying to catch any useful details.  Today i shall start again.

C) Related to B) a little bit – web browsers.  I decided to try checking out the self-hosted blog in a wider variety of browsers instead of just 2 – Firefox which is my browser and Seamonkey which is my web design platform.  At least it has been for html – i do not yet know if i will need something else to develop php and css chops because i have not started figuring all that out yet.  So far in the reading, it seems that PHP and CSS are done more by actual coding than the GUI html approach dominant in the past, so people are doing it in simple text editors.  The nicest part of starting over with an issue like webdesign is that this is not a bad time to be doing it.  People have figured out a lot of mistakes made and have largely agreed on some decent standards.  So, i hope to continue to learn more about designing to current standards and getting rid of some old crap like the prevalence of tables in html designs.

I installed Chrome for the first time and dusted the cobwebs off of Safari.  I have never really liked Safari.  It works fine, but i don’t like the way it looks, you can’t customize your tool/nav bars as easily as some others, and i really hate the way it deals with and displays bookmarks.  I have used Chrome before on other people’s machines, and i figured that what i did not like were things i could fix through preferences on any machine of mine, and i had a good feeling about it since i like most things google makes.  I think that the gmail web interface is the only thing google makes that i do not like.  I love gmail, it just always bothered me that google decided i did not need folders anymore and i cold not have them.  Since i have been working in a fully portable high-powered laptop environment for a decade or so, i don’t need the web interface and I solved this by using gmail in the mail client of my choosing, formerly Thunderbird while i was still stuck with Windows, and now Mac Mail.

It was interesting to note that the self-hosted blog looked different in the different browsers.  Actually it looks the same in every browser except Firefox.  The blog would load in Firefox but would not in the other browsers.  The error messages i could see were useful, but still interesting that they did not come up in Firefox (and for other geeks out there, it was not a cookie or cache issue).

I enjoyed using Chrome.  It was super quick to set-up and i got it customized to about 90% of where i wanted it to be inside of 5 minutes.  I have not yet researched the last 10% but i bet it is possible.  Chrome looks slick and things work well, and having google search incorporated into your address bar is awesome.  I have only been playing with it for a few hours, but i don’t understand why all the ads?  There are ads at the bottom of people’s posts in my google reader, ads on my facebark, ads on some search pages, and it frustrates me.  Admittedly, i may be spoiled, but this does not happen to me in  Firefox. In Firefox, i have no ads in google reader ever. I have no ads on facebark ever, and i have no ads on search pages.  The ad banner that loads at the top of “free hosting” accounts with godaddy (which is where my self-hosted blog lives for now until i see if it is worth paying for) – i don’t even see that banner in Firefox.  I may look into seeing if i can cut the ads out of Chrome, but i bet not.  Mozilla has a different mandate than google.  I can’t blame google for wanting to make money, but i don’t want to see the ads.  It is a slippery slope between having a few ads and becoming godaddy.*

*Note – do a host provider write-up soon to get input on what other people are using.

Summation:

Hopefully you guys will help me with resume feedback after the new one gets posted.

Hopefully i can get WordPress to install correctly today.

I will play with chrome a little more, but most likely i am sticking with Firefox.

Godaddy frustrates me very much, but it is like having an old car and not being able to afford a new car.  Do you stick with the one you have, fixing the things you know are broken, or do you buy a different used car having no idea what is about to break on that?  Further discussion pending…

The ladies of Red Bull - Doha 2005

Grrrrr

Today, I am recovering from the thanksgiving trip: laundry, general office admin, back-up the “new” digital Billie Holiday, catch up on some correspondence and article reading.  I need to implement the resume changes i have made mentally into the actual world, but i am a bit drained today.  In order to stay productive, i thought it would be a good day to activate my self-hosted WordPress blog.

I re-read all the instructions from a few sources as well as a few user testimonial/tutorial/feedback articles.  The process was easy and simple – up to a point.

I did not like the idea of having to create a new user to activate and complete the install of WordPress and access my blog.  I already have a user account.  I know that technically these are two separate things and they have no way to talk to each other directly, but it still bugs my brain.  And, i know that i can set-up the “new user” the exact same way as the “old user” and not really feel any difference.  But like i say – it just bugged me.

Of course, it does not look like my blog once i do finish the install, it looks like a brand new blog template – duh, i have not uploaded any of my content yet – but i take a little tour, and the horrors begin.

Ok, these are actually small on the scale of “horrors”, but in terms of little digital bastards i now have to fight – they are pretty big to me.  The horror is two pronged: I think it involves a (probably simple) issue with the php admin file (and I don’t really know anything about php, so I do not know how to find any errors) – and I do not know the right words to use to describe the rest of the problem appropriately so that google will tell me what to do next.

The short version: my admin page is all fracked up.  Instead of the standard view I am used to from using the WordPress hosted blog, there is no header/title bar with drop down menus, there is no narrow nav bar on the left with two “content pane columns” in the middle and on the right.  What I have is a giant ball of text.  It is not exactly like reading code, but it is close.  The GUI is all munged up so that all the “weeee” is gone and I am left with just the “goo”.

When you read this mangled mass of words, you do see that it seems that the key nav structure is still sort of present, but it is very different.  And, when you do click on anything like “Posts” or “Themes”, the “new” information comes down at the bottom of this long jumbled list of words, and that too is jumbled and difficult to read and use.

So, I am frustrated.  I did a little bit of searching for terms like “wordpress install admin panel problem” – adding/changing with “self hosted, dashboard, godaddy, php” – none of these lead me towards anything like my issue – so far.

One site I forgot to bookmark during research (grrr) referenced something about (paraphrase) “when you change the php admin page make sure not to do X, Y, and Z, and if your page does not display correctly there is probably space before this initial set of symbols or after this set of final symbols”.

I did nothing but what I was instructed when I edited my php page, but I did read all the stuff there and noted that the initial and final sets of symbols were not the same or mirror images of one another as I would expect.  But I can’t find that page and again, I don’t have the proper vocabulary to describe this stuff well enough (especially when I am frustrated).

So, I did get this blog exported and imported, and I thought I might as well go ahead and slap the right theme on, but there was again thwarted by the nearly impossible to use flawed admin panel.

I gave up and went to practice some golf.  That started off well.  I was hitting my 9 iron straight (mostly) and pretty near the pin.  Then with about 6 balls left, I switched to the driver.  On my second ball, the shaft broke where it meets the club-head and my club-head went about 75 yards down the range.

I tried to shake it off and went to do short chips around the putting green.  That went better and after 120 short chips (good results), I packed it in and came home to write, eat, do something else and start again tomorrow.

I have to, have to, have to, do resume work first thing tomorrow morning once i “clock-in”.  But, when I do get back to the blog issues, I will first do a re-download, unzip, and upload of the WordPress files.  If that don’t work, I will try another search for sample php pages (today’s searches did not lead me to the opening and closing symbols section) or just general php writing info.  I will probably re-do the php page in question and see where that leaves me.

Or – I will discover that some smart person has replied to this entry and told me the magic answers!!??!

No mo bed head - 1
No mo bed head - 2
No mo bed head - 3

Location Revisited – an update on the digital move

I am pretty far along in my research on moving to a self hosted WordPress environment.  I believe this will give me more of the flexibility i am looking for in terms of capability without having to also do a bunch of graphic design.

I just got off the phone with godaddy to switch my free hosting account associated with www.bone-of-contention.com from Windows to Linux.  (It helps to do your research before you go screwing around with your domain settings.  I did not check the requirements before i set-up the account.  Oops.)  That change will be completed in 24-48 hours.

The free hosting accounts at godaddy do have slightly annoying banners at the top hocking their products.  But i believe and hope that it will be tolerable for me and for you for a month or so to allow time to experiment and see if self hosting does what i hope it will do.

If the experiment works, i will happily beg you all for money shell out the dough for a paid account with no banners.

There is still nothing new for you guys to do.  The biggest question i have now is whether or not the blog can exist in two places at once (here at the free hosted site and over at the godaddy self hosted site).  I hope that it can.  I would not expect those to be integrated in any way so that updating one updates both, but it would be nice to be able to have this area stay nice and clean and ad free and “predictable” while i experiment at the new site.

Anyway, time will tell, more will be revealed.  I believe there is some feeedburner research to finish in my future.  I will let you know here before anything changes…

Misho and Nick - Library Bar, Doha, 2004

Blog Comment Spam

I am lucky in that i have had very little spam come through the comment section of this blog, and so far, nothing that was auto-shifted to the spam folder was legitimate mail.

I do check out the spam folder though because i find it entertaining and here are the two highlights so far:

1) I’ll paraphrase – “God Bless Google for bringing me to this post, and thank you for writing it!”

Wow – awesome praise right?  This was a comment for the post WordPress Weirdness – which is about some silly momentary glitch in WordPress.  How desperate for fans do you have to be to receive a comment like this on a post like this and think “i am really reaching the people!  See how moved this new reader is!  Approve this and all future comments!!!”

2) I did not bother to translate this – but i got my first spam comment in Bulgarian!!  I was at first thrilled because i do have Bulgarian friends and i can understand a fair amount of spoken Bulgarian and Google translate and i can read Bulgarian at a second grade level so i thought, “hey, maybe it is Vlad!?” – but then i looked at the address and it was just spam.  But it was Bulgarian Spam and no one is gonna take that away from me anytime soon.

A few Bulgarian friends and Camper - Doha 2005

Password Protected

I will use this feature from time-to-time.  If you read this blog, then i am most likely not trying to keep you from seeing whatever it is i have “hidden”.  If you want to read something password protected, let me know.

Then again – i could be trying to save you from seeing something like this:

Hard at work in Doha - 2004

A quick word

Before i began blogging, i did some comparative research between Blogger and WordPress.  Since i had never blogged, i was not entirely sure which factors would become important.  I selected WordPress for a variety of reasons, many of which i do not even remember now.  I have discovered an unintentional groovy element about WordPress that i really like – the email subscription option.  I set it up for my blog, but it was not until it was added to my buddy’s site (or i noticed that it was there) that i really felt the full effect.

I go to this site regularly and i subscribe in google reader, so at first glance email updates may seem like overkill.  But, i really enjoy when i am out and about and my iPhone makes the mail ding sound and instead of an REI or EMS promotional update or new consular information about country X (i am singed up for all of them so you never know) it is a new post from bowlegged (hey – do i have to call you bowlegged for your anonymity?).

I have enjoyed every time this has happened, but the best and i think the first time was a few weeks ago while i was sitting in my car while Lucas was in surgery.  I was trying to stay out of the way and time it right to make sure i beat Lucas back to the cage post surgery to be ready to help him as he recovered, and it was difficult to stay distracted.  While i was with him before surgery it was easier.  I pet him and rubbed him and read to him.  But when it was just me, it was harder.  Then i hear the little phone ding sound and it is a new post from bowlegged and it is the first 365 reasons post.  So i had something i wanted to read anyway, but a nice beefy read to help ease me over the hump.  True i could have used the browser on my phone to go look for that stuff, but i did not know it was there to look for, and it was nicer to have it just appear.

Maybe it is on blogger too, but i have not really seen it yet (not as comprehensive and easy at least).

Anyway, that is my thoughts for the morning.  I am off to finish the resume re-write, inshallah.

Rojonekku Shirt on Nick the Cagefighter

Check out Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts – i made this a link in case you missed the one on the right over there…

%d bloggers like this: