Mostly Harmless

Mostly about my amusement

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The Girl made Cinnamon Roll Waffles

I blame Kailey Lampert¬†for this tweet. ūüėČ

Which lead The Girl and I to this link¬†where we learned how to make these. Quick to make and they’re good too.

CSS specificity is your friend

Note to self: Using “Inspect Element” in Firefox and looking at the selector you can avoid styling everything except what’s broken specifically. (It was “.entry-format-badge.genericon” in case I forget.)

Favorite new WordPress 3.9 feature

Copying and pasting from Microsoft Word directly into the Visual Editor is my new favorite thing in 3.9 beta. I just tried it on Lily’s store WordPress¬†site and it worked alright. This is a fortunate side effect of 3.9 getting a new version of TinyMCE.

I know, that sounds anti-climatic even a little mundane given the great enhancements that 3.9 will be delivering. But I occasionally (once a month) have this conversation.

Them: How can I copy this Word document into WordPress?

Me: First select the text and paste that into notepad. I like notepad++ myself.

Me: Then you take the text you just copied into notepad select and copy it into the Visual Editor. Again.

Me: Make sure you copy from notepad. Bad things will happen if you paste that into the Visual Editor directly from Word.

Me: Then you apply the styling such as bold, underline, etc. To that text. For titles I like to use the <h3> tag myself.

Me: No, that layout thing you did in Word won’t work.

Me: Images? If you use the Snipping Tool then you can save that image to your hard disk.

Me: Once you’ve done that, upload that into the media library.

Me: Then you can insert it into the WordPress post. The image I mean, I usually go with centered and no link.

Them: Zzzzzz Wha-? What we’re we talking about??

I myself don’t like the idea of users creating content for WordPress outside of WordPress but I’m told I’m special. Apparently¬†“regular” users (yes I’m doing the “air quotes”) such as my wife and some siblings use Word that way.

Lily creates flyers for wine tastings once a week. Right now she¬†has to wait for me to create the event on the WordPress site (thank you Modern Tribe!¬†that’s a great plugin) then cross post it to the company Facebook page. If I can show her how to just paste the content into WordPress to create the event then she can deliver the post sooner.

Also that means I’ll have one less thing to do each week.

Next I have got to test out dragging images into the Visual Editor to upload them that way. That’s got to improve “regular” users workflow too.

Let’s play a game called SERP

On the support forums occasionally (OK today) someone will ask that a post be edited to remove a link or company name for SEO reasons. Unless there’s a good reason for that (and SEO isn’t) then it just isn’t done. There are millions of posts on those forums; can you imagine if a small percentage of members asked for posts to be edited that way?

It’s not always necessary to edit The Interwebz

I am not a web front end developer. I don’t do “SEO”, I don’t at this time have any advertisements on my site. I post to my self-hosted WordPress blog for my own amusement and occasionally the amusement of my friends.

But just for giggles, let’s do a search on Google for my name. I wonder what comes up?

seo-games-jan-dembowski

Huh. That’s weird.

The first hit is my Twitter page, followed by my Make/Support author page, a Polish biologist then a general who both died before I was born (no relation). Then there’s some images (hey, 3 of those are me!) and then my WordPress site. Ah, there’s my Flickr page. I was worried about that not being there.

There is nothing on that search engine results page pointing to the WordPress forums. That’s a shame. I’ve got *looks WOW* 10,772 posts in the forums. That’s not necessarily a lot by the way.

How did that happen?

Again I am not into “SEO” and I haven’t done anything to impact that SERP. I even had to look up what SERP meant to make sure I’m using the term correctly.

But my guess is that the results happened that way because those links are pertinent and each of those links have content that is updated.¬†That’s all there is to it.

  • I tweet everyday non-stop so it’s no wonder that popped up as the first hit.
  • I post to make/support at least once a week so there’s that.
  • Links 3 and 4 are cool and I like that my name is notable (even if the original spelling was¬†Dńôbowski,¬†ńô is pronounced¬†/…õm/, w is a v sound, look it up).

The important thing is that I produce content and that’s why when someone looks up my name you get sites that I actually update.

So “SEO” magic isn’t real?

There are people who advertise and I assume make a living on SEO work and I am sure they know what they are doing.

If I had a site that I was selling something then I may be concerned that my actual site is 6th down from the top (skipping the images). If I were selling something then perhaps I’d use an SEO plugin. I’d also update my actual site more frequently.

Even without my doing anything special a search for my name shows the links that I expected to see.

My advice to people who want links removed from the forums or anywhere remains the same: if you don’t like your search engine results then change them. Produce original content on your own site. That’s really all there is to it.

Some journalists still inspire you

miles-obrien

Miles O’Brien has always been one of my favorite science reporters and I was sorry to hear about the loss of his left arm.

You¬†know he’s going to get through it but it’s horrific that this could happen to him. Give a few minutes and see his interview on PBS NewsHour. It’s great to see him moving forward and explain his phantom pain and what he’s going through.

His Contaminated Waters report is informative and I look forward to seeing what he produces next.

I’ll take “Find a new radio station” for $100 Alex

On the short ride to the train station just now I just heard this stupidity.

“If you were a single woman what would you prefer your ex-boyfriend tell people about you and why you broke up?

  1. You’re a bitch
  2. You’re a slut
  3. You’re crazy

What do you think?”

The two women on the show liked options 2 and 3. The guy who asked the question thought option 1 was best.¬†I’d have paid money to hear one of women say something like “Really? Are you out of your mind? I don’t date lowlifes.” That may have happened, I switched to another station before I could listen to more.

Yes, it’s FM morning radio and not NPR but seriously? I mean pre-teens tune into that station. I don’t think my 12 and 10 year-olds listen to that station but I’m going to check.

Jan looks for coffee on the train and find none. That’s a pity.

I tend to jump around the radio looking for music and often settle on the current “they’re not WLIR from the 80s but they’ll do today” station. At least not-WLIR plays a lot of Green Day and Foo Fighters. They’re not really better but the music selection is alright.

Normally the first station is all about yucks and phone pranks. There’s another Long Island FM station that has insane reality TV type setup morning nonsense and I don’t even bother with them anymore. I get the appeal of low brow humor (insert fart joke HERE) but that’s just too stupid.

There’s low brow and then there’s misogyny¬†and that’s not funny at all.

Yes, I “want” a new backpack

I’ve 2 backpacks, one that is just a laptop sleeve from 2002 and really is falling apart and the other is a camera backpack.

Me: I need a new backpack. *Starts looking online*

Lily: You mean you “want” one, you don’t “need” a new one. Use the one from Costco. I’m not using it anymore.

It’s this one BTW. I think it’s a little large and doesn’t have padding for a DSLR camera.

nasa-backpack

In 2008 the whole family went to Disney World and I purchased a Lowepro Fastpack 200 backpack.

At the time I got it for it’s quick access to the camera; you swing the bag off of one shoulder, do a triple somersault, perform a mid-air unzipping of the bag and poof you have your DLSR in your hand before you’ve put your feet back on the ground.

Thinking about it, that’s not a feature I’ve ever used…

That bag went with the family on a cruise, to China (that was an awesome trip) and has seen thousands of miles. It’s a bit small for non-camera related items and doesn’t have a laptop sleeve. My 11″ MacBook Air fits barely but without padding every impact risks breaking it and I do bump into things. One of the zipper straps broke and I replaced it with a keychain ring.

At the moment I’m leaning towards the Tamrac Aero 80 but I need to see it in person. It’s got enough space for my laptop and camera but if I can’t fit the other stuff (salad Tupperware, small assorted junk I carry with me everyday) then it won’t work.

There’s two really big camera stores near me at work so by the end of the week I may get what I need. I mean “want”.

Kids? The no snow today is my doing

This is something that’s bugged me since yesterday and I figured I’d post a public apology to my children. You see, they really wanted a snow day today or at least a delayed opening.

I’m going to take the chance and hope that my kids can someday forgive me and understand this mighty burden that fate has placed on my shoulders.

Letter to my kids

Dear kids,

I know you were looking forward to not going to school today but you are old enough to learn the truth. Your father has the super power of being able to prevent things from happening merely by preparing for them.

I’ll pause for a moment while you take that in.

I know. Right now that your eyes are wide open in shock and you may even yell out “I knew it!” but please think of your Grandmother. It’s too early for that sort of outburst.

I discovered I had this ability when I habitually carried my umbrella everywhere I went. It was tied to my backpack and I would forget I even had it. It never rained those days or if it did it would stop as soon as I hit the street.

But the day came that I switched bags and left the umbrella at home. That day on the way to Penn station we suddenly got 11 inches of rain in 30 minutes and I was soaked to the bone.

Seriously, I was wet for a week.

Now, your mother may tell you something like “Some people never learn to stay out of the rain” but please understand that she’s only trying to protect you from the truth.

Yesterday, fully armed with the knowledge of the Impending Snow Apocalypse‚ĄĘ, I went to the gas station and filled up the portable tank. We now have enough gas for the snow thrower for the next 2 years at least.¬†I moved the car in and put the snow thrower in right at the garage entrance.

I did this not out of malice nor did I intend to rob you of your cherished snow day. But I’m told the older generation has had it with snow and I’ve learned with enough Adult Supervision‚ĄĘ you have no choice but to be “grown up” about these things.

As a result of my actions we got almost half an inch of snow. If I had merely not done anything then I am sure we’d have had easily 14 inches.

So now you know the truth. When I prepare for something it is a hard guarantee that it will not occur. I hope you can forgive your father someday for robbing you of that snow day.

Your father,

Jan Dembowski

P.S. This may be the last communication from me for a while. I switched bags today and noticed that I left the umbrella home today.

Afterwards

I hope they take this letter well. It’s really cold enough today and I hope that Lily doesn’t mind my revealing myself like that to them. Or the world! She’s always concerned about what other grown ups may think about what I reveal about myself.

I’m not asking, but if I did ask what would be the answer?

My 12-year-old has gotten into trouble at home and even though he’s grounded it’s alright. He’s 12 after all and I got into LOTS of trouble when I was his age.

My parents had 4 sons and the whole family is opinionated and we all fought everyday. I learned at an early age where the line was and exactly how far over the line I could go before I got into real trouble.

This is a skill I carry with me in the workplace and for the last 6 years I’ve not gotten into that sort of trouble at work. That’s despite saying some extraordinarily ballsy things too. My sense of humor just comes out at the best times.

It’s good to know where the line is and how far you can stretch over it.

So I was really amused when my son came home this afternoon and said this.

“Dad. I know I’m not allowed to use the computer. And I’m not going to ask if I can. But if I were going to ask you when I can use the computer what would your answer be?”

My reply was along the lines of “Don’t push it kid” but after he left I laughed. He’s a smart kid but I do worry that his generation doesn’t have to deal with consequences at an early age. Later on yes, but every infraction can be fixed quickly. My son hasn’t yet learned that the plate is hot and you don’t put your hands on it cause it hurts.

Meh. There’s no rush. The kids will grow up soon enough.

That was a good day

Since Lily became half owner of a wine and liquor store she and the other owner (very cool friends of ours) have been working everyday since September. They took off Christmas Day because New York state says they had to close.

That’s one time I agree with the state blue laws.

Lily came up with an idea: they alternate Sundays off since that’s a short day (short as in 12PM to 7PM). The other partner was off yesterday and I worked the whole day with Lily. She’s off next Sunday as she plans to see family for Chinese New Year.

My day job is that I work in IT networks. I specialize in Internet related infrastructure such as DNS, proxies, firewalls, routers, switches, etc. The last time I worked in a retail setting was around 1988 for The Nature Company at the South Street Seaport.

What I did for that time was

  1. Make deliveries (went to an amazing cigar lounge, it was a very cool place).
  2. Move stock from the basement to the store.
  3. Help customers find what they want.
  4. Pretty much gofer anything that Lily said to.

I don’t think there is much chance that I’ll give up my current gig or line of work for doing this full time.

Afterwards we went out to a local thai food restaurant. The whole day was like a date. It was great and for the first time in months we spent the entire day together.

Being a store owner is not an ambition of mine. As I’m a contractor I generally just want to be paid and the appeal of “being your own boss” fell off my radar years ago. But I do understand and support Lily’s goal.

So I’ll give up more Sundays and work in the store. Eventually I’ll get the Internet connectivity in the basement working reliably and I’ll office from their on my WFH days. After all, that’s what a spouse ought to be doing. ūüėČ

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