Who is ArcoJedi? A life-journeying Christian, ecstatic husband, proud father of four, web guru, all-around geek and Star Wars fanatic. Read these thoughts that he felt were worthwhile. Then wonder why he thought that way.

2007/01/31

TechLifeBlogged - Google Analytics Results

Update: This blog post was originally posted at TechLifeBlogged, but has been moved and archived here. The full story begins here and ends here.


I've got an update about this site. First off, I found a site simply by doing a Google search for 'Tech Life Blogged' and I discovered a site that was most likely the original prior to posting the blog over FTP. Please visit the actual and most likely original TechLifeBlogged.

Secondly, the preliminary Google Analytics results have shown that only ONE other person besides me visited this site in the last 24 hours. It was about noon today CST and they were from or near Williston, Vermont. The clicked a link from Lifehacker.org. They probably didn't find what they were looking for and left quickly. And hey, if that was you, sorry!

2007/01/30

Two Legs / Four Legs

Did you know that the gestation period of an elephant is 22 months? With a baby on the way, it makes you think about the development cycle of humans and other animals. It's strange how it relates to evolution, and it got me thinking.

I don't recall the name of the show, but years ago I watched a documentary about evolution and it had a segment that described evolution with a visual. They had a table with a tiered wooden pyramid. The landing at the top represented the ultimate evolved animal for a specific niche. The host showed with a little figurine on this model that some animals evolved in large steps, meaning that they traversed several steps at once. However, this made it difficult to reach the top because they tended to overstep and miss. Animal types that took small steps, however, took longer to get to the right spot, but once they were there, they didn't waver much.

With this in the back of my mind I was discussing with my wife how some when most animals are born, they can usually walk right away. But humans needed the longest period of time to gain the strength to do this, which I thought was weird. Lisa pointed out that four-legged animals have to be born able to walk pretty quickly whereas two-legged animals don't need to.

I wonder if that is because walking four-legged is so similar to crawling, I mused out loud. But my thinking was backwards.

No, Lisa said right away. Four-legged animals have to learn to walk right away because their parents can't carry them.

Oh, yeah. That makes sense. Duh! Man, she's smart. I both hate and love it when she's right. Humans care for and look after their young much longer than any other species.

But then that led to another line of thinking on my part. Doesn't it seem unfortunate that we as an evolving species lost the ability to learn to walk quickly some time after we gained the ability to walk upright. It seems like we traded one good ability for another and from a certain point-of-view that is bad.

Or perhaps my thinking is still backwards. Perhaps because we can walk two-legged and carry our young, our gestation period can be a lot shorter --shorter than 22 months at any rate. Elephant

Oh, and just in case anyone is wondering, I believe that evolution is true and this does not interfere with my being a christian. I don't see these as exclusive ideas. Trying to pit religion versus science is oversimplifying both.

More Information

TechLifeBlogged - Google Pagerank

Update: This blog post was originally posted at TechLifeBlogged, but has been moved and archived here. The full story begins here and ends here.


As of today, the pagerank on [techlifeblogged.blogspot.com] as measured in both Firefox and IE is currently 4. When I signed up for the blog, it registered as a 5 but has dipped a little.

I've mentioned Google PR on my blog multiple times.

But having a site with PR of 4 or 5 is pretty impressive. My question that I'm wrestling with morally is whether or not I should really USE this site or abandon it. The previous owner was a spammer. If I benefit from this, am I not also associating myself with this spammer?

The question is not JUST a moral one. Google may have this site on a bad list, and any site or person associated with it might get marked as spammy also. Hmm...

Any comments? I've installed Google Analytics on this site to see if I can discover more about if anyone is coming to this site and from where. I'll post results when I have them (probably in a few days).

The Last Question

Since high school, I've dipped lightly into writing and short stories. Years ago, I created an outline for a science fiction story that involved the ultimate evolution of the human race, the end of the galaxy and mankind as we know it. The main point was that time was actually circular and an ending was really another beginning.

The story was not very good and I abandoned it at some point (and can't find the drafts now). In it's essence it bears a striking resemblance to a story already written years ago by Isaac Asimov that I just stumbled upon.

The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five-dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way...

Ponder The Last Question.

2007/01/29

Rod & the Satalites in Film Soundtrack

Back in the days when I lived in Quincy, Illinois for the second time (1998-2000), I was in a blues/rock garage band called Rod & the Satalites. In fact my very first web site was stuff about the band. I've unfortunately lost touch with the gang from the band, but I am pretty sure they are still around and playing the various bars in Quincy. Occasionally, I still check Google or other sources for news of the band.

Today, I stumbled on a result with a December 26, 2005 article from the Quincy Herald Whig about Quincy native Jason Bunch, an independant film maker, and his latest movie called Coming Attractions. The reason that this came up for Rod & the Satalites is because of this sentence:

Bunch even used a song from Quincy band Rod and the Satalites in the movie.

Interesting! I wonder if the song used in the film was recorded before or after I was a member of the band. To my knowledge, there was only one song recorded onto something usable while I was a member of the band and that was a thirty-second song used in a local commercial.

Read more in the Quincy Herald Whig. Also:

2007/01/28

TechLifeBlogged - The Beginning

Update: This blog post was originally posted at TechLifeBlogged, but has been moved and archived here. The full story begins here (on this page) and ends here.


Okay, what has just happened tonight was that I was browsing around and found a link to a blogspot site that was giving 404 page not found errors. I was sad because the content I wanted was on it. I checked the root of the blog but was still getting 404 error. Curious, I decided to try signing up for this subdomain and assumed it wouldn't work.

Well, it did and I'm faced with a quandary. I now have a blog that somebody else used and worked on for a while. It's gone, either lost or abandoned, but now what do I do with it? I feel weird, like I cheated or am guilty of something.

I am not a hacker NOR am a black-hat person at all. I did this rather randomly. However this site ...hmm.

Further investigation has shown that it was one of those rather nasty spammers who signed up for a blogspot account but have it redirect to their spammy domain. Check the Google cache if you doubt me. Still, I felt very weird, like I'm painting a big target sign on my forehead for what I just did.

If you have a complaint about this, please post a comment below. If this is your former blog and you want it back please comment as well and I'm sure we can find a way to work it out so that you get it back after we prove it was yours.

Where Are My Flying Cars, Dr. Kaku?

Dr. Michio Kaku is on my T.V. telling me that someday we will have cars that drive themselves. We will get in the car, sit down and simply tell the car where to go. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

My response? Yeah, smart guy. Like I'm gonna believe that crap.

The show I just turned to is called 2057 and is on the Discovery Channel. Though I'm trying to work right now, the good doctor's voice is recognizable enough to me to catch my attention a little bit and when he started to talk about self-driving cars it really perked up my ears. Unfortunately, I'm not excited by his statements but just irritated.

I've heard this promise or suggestion for years. If I'm not mistaken, my parents' generation was also told that we would have this technology by now. Over-promising and under-delivering makes the customer very very angry. I'm that customer right now.

So, no thanks. Don't get me wrong, I respect Dr. Kaku quite a bit. But peddle your future cars somewhere else. I am not buying.

2007/01/25

Star Wars Horoscope for Pisces

Lando & Pisces

A typical Pisces, you have your head in the clouds. You're self-sacrificing and a bit too passive to stand up to the dark side. You become fairly pessimistic when put under pressure. You are a chameleon - wanting to change your scenery on occassion.

The Star Wars character you are most like is Lando Calrissian.

What Is Your Star Wars Horoscope?

2007/01/23

Baby News

Long-time readers of my blog will recall two posts in the summer of last year that talked about mine & Lisa's plans for a third child and the unfortunate miscarriage.

Sad as these events were, pay special attention to the following from the second post.

We are probably going to try again eventually.

Well, I'm happy to say that eventually did not really take all that long. Lisa & I have been expecting our third child since about September or October. In light of the exciting fact that Jon & Kelly are expecting their first child and that we were a little worried that a miscarriage may occur again, we kept the pregnancy a little bit more secret for a little longer this time around. Jon & Kelly deserve the limelight quite a bit more, since this is their first. However, by now almost all of our friends and family know about our news.

Our due date is accurately May 20th, 2007 which just so happens to be Reese's birthday. However, due to our circumstances with Lisa's diabetes, it is likely that the date actually be earlier in May or late in April.

The most important fact is that the baby is completely healthy, based on the ultrasound. The second most important fact is that it is likely to be a boy, also based on the ultrasound. BOY!! We even have a name picked out.

Lucas James Arconati

Contrary to most assumptions, Lisa has always liked the name Lucas and suggested it before I did. There is not as much of a Star Wars influence in the choice as everyone immediately thinks. Of course, if we stick with that name (and I'm sure we will), it does make introducing myself to my son for the first time elicit an extra thrill.

Luke, I am your father.

2007/01/22

Can We Talk About Fight Club?

Tyler Durden said:

Listen up maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else.

But is this true? Scientifically, there is nothing different about the carbon and other molecules that make up my body from the carbon molecules in all the plants and animals that have ever lived.

Yet, Tyler Durden is wrong. Or at least, what he says doesn't match well with Yoda:

Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter!

That is one of my favorite lines. I quoted this one day a long time ago in my college Biology 101 class at Quincy University. Dr. Natalini was talking about the chemicals that the body and brain were made up of and that they were relatively common and unimportant. Without being quite so shocking, he was basically stating exactly what Tyler would later say in the movie.

But I knew that Natalini was a Star Wars fan. I also knew that the university was a Christian institution and there were devout students in the room who were my friends. So I raised my hand and asked him what that meant in light of what Yoda said. If he'd had a comeback for that, I would have thought up something about the Bible and God, though I wasn't what I consider a Christian at the time.

He looked at me like I was crazy, paused silently for a moment and continued on as if I hadn't said anything. But then again, he did that a lot. 2 Thumbs Up Thanks Dr. J.

As a reminder, you have been warned not to talk about Fight[ Amazon.com - Fight Club ]Club. But you can still buy the DVD.

2007/01/20

How to Make a Link (Emphasis on Blogger)

In creating blog posts with Blogger, there are standardly three text boxes. The first is for your post Title, which needs no real explanation. The second is an optional field for a Link. The idea here is to put a URL, such as "http://www.google.com/". Usually this is a page or site that sparked your blog post idea in the first place. The large box below this is for your post content. You can simply type your content into this box, or if you are inclined, you can add HTML code for images and links and so forth.

In a comment on a previous post, I was asked how to create links in the middle of your posts, rather than just for the title. For anyone who hasn't noticed yet, I do this a lot.

The following is a good draft of what I would write as a simple explanation of how to create links in HTML code. This may get updated later. I will also go through the steps to add links using the built-in Blogger tools.


Introduction

One of the very first and most important pieces of HTML code that a novice web developer will learn would have to be the <a /> tag. This is also known as the 'link' tag, although there is a <link /> tag used most commonly for linking style sheets or other secondary documents to the main document. These should not be confused.

However, as common as this tag is, it is not unusual to see instances where the web developer does not make proper use of the many available options. There are many advantages to improving the implementation from Accessibility to SEO.

How to Properly Create a Link

Links are created using the <a /> tag. The most common way that you see the code for the <a /> is as follows:
Please visit <a href="http://arconati.us/">Arconati Family Home Page</a> as soon as possible.

Admittedly, this has all of the important functional parts. You have the 'href' attribute between the quotes - the target of the link - and then the content of the <a /> tag, which is what the browser displays. Here is what it would look like.

Please visit Arconati Family Home Page as soon as possible.

Most incomplete references will tell you that this is the minimum. In truth, you can actually strip it down even more - Please visit <a>Arconati Family Home Page</a> as soon as possible.

This is minimal indeed. If you try and load this in a browser, it should actually behave stylistically as if it were a link, though if you click on it, it doesn't do anything.

Please visit Arconati Family Home Page as soon as possible.

Note: You may have noticed that although this link does not have an 'href=' attribute, it does get rendered in some browsers as if it were a link. For instance, it might be underlined or a different color. Interestingly enough, the :hover cursor behavior is activated in FireFox, but not in Internet Explorer.

There are a lot of other attributes you can optionally use besides just 'href='. There is a 'title=' attribute that can be useful and should be used in all cases where activiely promoting the link. Here is an example:
Please visit <a href="http://arconati.us/" title="Arconati Family Home Page>Arconati.us</a> as soon as possible.
The advantage to this one is that you can be more descriptive in the title. Since search engines base the importance of a site on how many people link to it and what keywords the links use in addition to the page itself, this can be very helpful for sites that want to get found in the search engines. The above example would look like this:

Please visit Arconati.us as soon as possible.

If you hover over the link for a moment, your browser will most likely show a yellow box or tooltip type feature that shows you the 'title=' information. This content may be rarely noticed by the average capable user, but it is very helpful for users with vision or other impairments as well as search engines.

Creating a link in your blog posts in Blogger is very simple. First either open a previous post or create a new post. Then make sure you are in the "Edit HTML" tab. In the menu bar above your post box, you will see a small icon like the following - Blogger Link Button - Select the text you want to be the content of the link and then click this icon. A box should appear with a prompt to enter the URL of the link you want. Be sure to include the full link from - http://www.example.com/page.html - and click OK. You have just created a link. You can manually add a title if you would like and then publish your post.

Links are the whole point of the web and they are important, so be sure to link as often as possible.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7

The page says:

Download Internet Explorer 7, the latest version of Microsoft's new, improved, and free web browser.

Yeah, but should I? Should I really? I am a geek and modest expert in technology. Most technophiles like myself are rather picky and egalitarian in their preferences. To get right down to it, I don't use Microsoft Internet Explorer as my browser. This may cause a bit of a shock to those few who didn't know there was any other way to do it. Just like there are other brands of facial tissue besides Kleenex©, there are other browsers out there. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard of Firefox and that is my preferred browser of choice. If it were completely up to me, I'd actually like to dump everything with Microsoft on it. Sometimes, past sins take a long time to be forgiven. But of course, it's not that simple.

Forgetting how hard this would be and the fact that the rest of my family knows Windows, there are professional reasons I can't dump Internet Explorer or even ignore it.

I browse web sites but I also make them. 90% of the world that browses web sites use Internet Explorer. This market share varies a lot depending on who you ask, but the basic concept means that even were it 50/50%, I'd have to check the sites and pages I make in IE just simply to make sure that they load and look the way that I expect. Most web developers eventually run into the fact that it is harder to code pages that make IE happy and it doesn't always work as planned. But IE is what it is and there is no sense pretending it isn't there.

So I can't ignore it, I will occasionally use it and the old version 6 has more issues and security problems than the new version. In some instances, I've even used IE at other computers and contrary to my expectations I didn't completely hate it. So now the decision time comes. Do I upgrade from 6 to 7 or not? I think I've already made the decision.

You can see some of the links I've tagged with "microsoft/internet-explorer" on del.icio.us or follow the feed below.

To be fair, I am not even on the latest version of Firefox either. Finally, for those interested in trying it out, you should Get Firefox!
[ Get Firefox! ]

2007/01/19

Hole in Your Soul

Occasionally I try my hand at the next blog link just to get a feel for what's out there. I'm not overly connected to the blogosphere and I have too much to do than to sit and read random blogs all day, but sometimes a specific entry might catch my attension. Rarely, when one does, I post a small comment. However, in the case of Where the Magpies Are, I posted a comment that ended up almost being longer than the original post (oops). I don't know why, something about the writing or the tone... Anyway, here is a glimpse of what I wrote.

In the center of everyone is a small hole that for their entire life they will strive to fill. Some fill it with drugs, some with alcohol, some with sex, some with obsessive compulsions less dangerous but no less empty in their eventual ability to satisfy and some simply fill it with mundane and daily tasks of daily life. And yet, they can never truly fill this hole. What's remarkable about this hole is that it is the best proof of a loving God that we can ever find in all the universe.

How? God created us and placed this hole inside our soul at the same time he gave us free will. The hole is small but impossible to ignore. There is only one thing that can fill this hole completely and satisfactorily and that is love for Jesus Christ. It is up to us each separately and individually to decide to follow Him. We have free will for that purpose. God won't make us do it and cannot make the decision for us.

Read the full entry at Where The Magpies Are: Episode 13 - Nietzsche said, God is Dead.

2007/01/16

American Idol Begins Tonight

I've mentioned American Idol before. Honestly, I don't feel like I can summon enthusiasm for it this year. But I say that every year. My wife likes the show and I'll most likely be watching it with her.

Something about the show seems wrong to me. It's basically way too artificial and manufactured. I don't like what it says about the music business. I might be wrong, but I'm guessing a lot of people feel the same way.

I don't want to knock the performers from the show that have done well for themselves and gone beyond their roots and developed their own career. They deserve their congratulations. However, picture the world without the show. We already had way too many Pop / Rock / R&B stars than we really needed. Now they are not only going to inject --almost forcibly-- one more star into the mix in the case of the winner, but also we are going to get the runner-ups and top ten or whatever.

There are already too many starving artists of all varieties out there. There are too many bar bands and not enough bars. There are too many amateurs and not enough open-mike nights. There are too many wanna-bes and too many divas.

The industry big shots and lobbyists blame the internet and file-sharing for the shrinking sales. But is it possible that they have oversaturated the market with too many flowers for the flower shop? Basic supply and demand people!

I get the appeal of the show on many levels. There are the good singers and the crowd favorites. People get tied up in the people and get divisively devoted to one particular performer that they want to win. It's the competition and the betting on your favorite 'horse', if you will.

Also quite entertaining are the flops. These are the losers who for some reason think they can sing but that cannot really sing. Nor can they really understand what music really is. Most of them probably have never tried to sing outside the shower. Some look genuinely surprised at either the sound of their voices in a public space or at the judges reactions to them. Some really are idiots, some are faking it and some have to be plants by the producers of the show just to illicit the right fiery responses from Simon.

And there is all the range of human emotion in between. Like most 'reality' shows, when it's good it's good, but when it's bad it's even better. It's similar to staring at the accident victims as you pass them on the highway. It's sick, it's wrong and we can't stop doing it.

I'd write more, but ... ooh, it's coming on soon! See ya!

2007/01/12

Cool Monthly Archive

Even though I've been kind of complaining about Blogger today, I do quite like the Monthly Archive feature where the menu breaks out in a great-looking list. I'm going to paste it here in duplicate but it most likely won't work exactly the same since I removed some of the id= attributes.

Monthly Archive

 

One thing that I noted about this in review was that 2005 was a much busier year than 2006. Mostly this is because of April and May, the months leading up to Star Wars Episode III. Also in 2005, I tended to simply use my blog as a quick way to bookmark or link to something I thought was interesting without really writing much about it. In 2006, I discovered del.icio.us, and this became the quickest and best way to do that.

Updated Template

Surprise! I updated my template. The colors are quite random (literally) and there is a lot of work and cleanup to do. Please let me know what you think of it. I'm a little miffed as most of the cleanup work that is necessary is not my fault, but a perfectionist's work is never done.

As I mentioned in a post late last year, New Blogger Version, all of my blogs have been upgraded to the latest version. There are some very noticable differences that I mentioned and there are some less noticable ones. First off, the template system has been revamped to make it easier for HTML beginners. This will be great for folks just starting out with Blogger, but there are bound to be a few trip-ups for more experienced folks (like me). I'm hoping to walk through them quickly without going overboard on the details.

When your site is upgraded your template will be scanned and altered very slightly to add some new features, like labels and automatic links to your RSS/Atom feeds. These feeds actually follow a slightly different format from the standard www.example.com/atom.xml and actually look more like www.example.com/feeds/posts/default which means they are being created more dynamically, I'd assume. The old URLs still work for now, so that's good.

When you go to update your template, the same options are available along with a new link labled "Customize Design". This takes you to a page with these instructions:

Give your blog a whole new look!

We've introduced a new tool for customizing the appearance of your blog. Before you can use this tool, you'll need to upgrade your template. By upgrading, you will lose many of the changes you previously made to your template. However, we will save a copy of your current template so that you can access it later.
Learn more about Blogger Layouts Customization.

Kind of ubiquitous and not very informative. The link from the page is not overly helpful, except that it explains the benefits to this change and the new features you can use to more quickly customize your template, but it doesn't explain the downsides.

The new system is not without it's advantages. For instance, you can click and drag elements of your template from one area to another, up or down and so on. These are treated by the system as 'widgets' and you can add many default/customizable ones along with one with your own HTML code if you wish. When you upgrade the software takes your current settings and customizations, including links you've added yourself and attempts to import them into the new widget system. In my case the links I have on this blog worked fine, but the archives appeared to be busted. I had to remove them and readd them, but that took only a few moments and to my benefit the new widget system provides a lot more options. The main point of all this is that you can edit individual pieces and menus very easily without digging through 3000 lines of code in the full template. You can still go and look at the HTML code of the template, but experienced users of blogger's template tags should beware as most of what you are familiar with has changed. See Blogger Help: Widget Tags for Layouts for a starter.

If you do go into the new template HTML and alter it manually, you may run into the fact that it checks your work for XML validness, meaning that code like the following in your <head /> section -

<meta name="description" content="<$BlogDescription$>" />

This is not going to work because there can't be any < or > characters in your content attributes. However, I've always used that code in my blogs as it makes updating that content easier from the blogger interface. In the new system, I'll need to update it manually.

One really big advantage to the new system is the font and color options. You can easily pick and choose your colors for each page header and element. Or like me, you can simply click a "scramble" link and the system will pick a random color set for you. Didn't I mention that these colors were random?

One last disadvantage is that even without this upgrade to the new template system, the update to blogger screwed up a lot of my XHTML validness that I was attempting to achieve in a lot of my blogs. The new templates made it a LOT worse. This may not matter to some, but it matters to those that want their blogs viewed and listed in the search engines.

2007/01/09

Star Wars Episode III (Video Game) for PS2

Here is a review of two video games I posted to the forum on dogbyteonline.com.

For Christmas I got some new games for the PS2; Star Wars Episode III and Star Wars Starfighter. The first came out same time as the movie in 2005, the second one is older and came out in 2001. I love them both!

Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

The action in this game centers on the best type of action within the Star Wars genre. It's Lightsaber-iffic! This game mirrors the action and story within the movie, allowing you to alternatively play either Obi-Wan Kenobi or Anakin Skywalker through certain levels. The path our heroes take in the movies are extended quite a bit to add lots more action and take them in different directions. It takes three levels just to get to the battle with Count Dooku. There is an experience type system that allows you to upgrade each warrior's combat or force abilities after each level. You can replay each level increasing your experience and finding secrets you didn't find the first time. Even more exciting is a 'Mortal Kombat' type player-vs.-player system that allows you to play all you want against the system or another player in three rounds of combat. I played good Anakin Skywalker versus evil Anakin Skywalker, and the two talked smack back and forth for the whole battle. Is that what passes for Lightsaber skills these days?

Star Wars Starfighter

The second-best type of action in the Star Wars genre would of course be the space battles. This one focuses on side characters not appearing in the films starting around the time of Episode I. You begin as a Naboo fighter pilot and you are drawn into the conflict between Naboo and the Trade Federation. The combat is smooth and fun and easy to pick up quickly. You eventually get to try your hand at three different styles of fighter, but the basics are the same for each. You eventually get caught up with smugglers and ruffians and so forth, but it all boils down to dogfighting.

Two great games. Either of them have PC demo versions I believe, so check them out as soon as you have some time. {Correction: Only the Starfighter game has a PC demo. My mistake.}

Related Links: star wars/episode iii, star wars/starfighter, video games/ps2

2007/01/08

Blogger Custom Domains

Okay, here is a great feature that Blogger has just fully redeemed & outdone themselves with that was released a few days ago. Blogger is now allowing custom domains. This is great because I can have the domain name or subdomain name show up properly for a blog without it having to forward onto a 'blogspot' server.

The following blogs of mine have been updated for this feature over this last weekend.

I plan to do this with Colorburst-Video.com as soon as possible. For any site that needs other features besides just a blog, a hosting account like at NetworkSolutions would be necessary. But if all you have is a domain and all you need is a blog, this feature is perfect.

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