Some New Blog Features

While I’m finishing up several new posts to put up in the next fews days, I thought I’d mention a couple features on the blog.

First, I added in the ability for users to rate my posts. So now, not only can you leave a great comment, but you can also rate posts. I do hope some of my latest ones, and ones coming up, will be of use to many people!

Secondly, if you haven’t already seen, I’ve added a few small Twitter things to my sidebar.  If you’re a Twitter user and feel like following me, go ahead!

I had added in a little comment box to the side bar, but I have since disabled it. If you think you would like me to have that back on, let me know, and I’ll restore it.

Hope you all enjoy some of the things I write! 🙂 I do like feedback, so please feel free to leave me some!

How To Be Safe On Twitter

I’ve been asked by several people to put together this article.  As such, if you would like to contribute to it, suggest improvements or changes, or even write a similar article for me to post, leave a comment and let me know!

So, you got yourself a Twitter account.  It is the big craze, after all!  But you’re not sure about all of the other Twitter users.  Or perhaps you want to keep an increased level of privacy around your account.

Well, this article, hopefully, will tell you how you can keep yourself safe on Twitter!

Now, why do we even need to consider Twitter safety?  Well, perhaps you want to keep your activity away from the public eye.  Perhaps you wish to keep yourself safe from possible predators or other ominous folks.

What are some ways that you can protect your tweets and privacy?

  1. Protect Your Tweets – You don’t have to have your tweets open to the public. There is a built in feature in your Twitter settings that lets you make them private.  The only way people can read your tweets is to be approved to follow you. This not only protects what you say but also who can read your tweets. This is the biggest step!
  2. Watch What You Tweet – This rule applies to anything you do online. With the increase in Twitter usage, it seems easier and easier to just post anything. Yet, that is exactly what you do not want to do!  Even if you have protected your tweets, do you want them to know about where you exactly live, or where you will be at an exact time?  It is always better to play it safe!
  3. Use The Block Function – Do you have some shady characters that are following you that you really don’t want to see what you write?  If you’re wary of certain followers, you can safely block them.  This isn’t a sure-fire way of keeping people away from your tweets, but it can help you manage trouble-users.
  4. Remember Your Audience – Even if you have protected your tweets, there is the potential that someone will re-tweet you. With that in mind, any of your tweets could potentially be made public. Therefore, if you’re going to tweet something, make sure that it is something you wouldn’t mind someone in the public seeing. This goes in line with point #2, but it still is different.

In the end, common sense is what wins out with Twitter.  Make sure that you’re always tweeting with your full thinking faculties.  Otherwise, you may find yourself embarrassed, frustrated, or worse.

It’s quite possible that I missed some options for privacy protection.  If I have, please leave a comment! As I stated at the beginning, I’d be willing to post guest articles as well, should anyone want to write additional material.

Twitter: The New IM?

I think this is a blog worthy of a little trip down memory lane.  All of this will take us on a cruise through the history of Instant Messaging.

Instant message has its roots before the days of the modern internet.  Some types were peer-to-peer, others had people connect to a central server or network.  IRC is one of those types, and it is something that is still quite popular in the interwebs today.

As computers became more ‘flashy‘ and graphical user interfaces (GUI) came on the scene, some of the more popular ones that we all know and love (or at least know) came about. These include ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger.  Once AOL’s hit the web, other branded IMs came up.  MSN, YIM, and a few other three lettered IMs that probably came up, too.

Well, each of those offer a service that allows you to chat with one or more people. They send a message, you respond.  It doesn’t get any easier to explain than that!

So, what about Twitter?

I know that I am guilty of using Twitter for IM-type purposes. All you need is a Twitter app and you may as well tell yourself you’re using an IM app.  And, before you even know it, you’re trapped.

It all starts with someone posting a very interesting link about images from the moon.  Before you know it, you and them are chatting back and forth, sending each other @replies without a care in the world.

This seems to be the habit of more and more people. Have you seen this yourself?  Have you checked Twitter, only to find that the past twelve minutes worth of tweets have been between two or three people, all replying to each other in rapid fire?

With more people using Twitter, this could possibly be a replacement IM system. However, before you go dumping Pidgin and load up Twhirl, keep a few things in mind:

  1. Replies aren’t private – Just because you thought it would be cool to send a message to @BrentSpiner doesn’t mean that only they will se it.  So, while you may think it’s cool to start messaging your friends, remember what you put in those messages. If it’s private data, you probably shouldn’t post it on Twitter at all, especially a reply.
  2. API Limits – No matter how fast you want your friends’ updates, you’re still limited. Twitter has a limit and, unless you want to sit on their web page and constantly refresh it, you won’t be getting true real time, or instant, messages.

Does Twitter have the potential to eventually be an IM service? It’s possible.  It would take some changes on their set up to allow for it, but it could be done.  Will it be done, though, is the question.  Their current setup seems to be popular enough as is, so major changes would probably not be in their best interest.

Now, that said, Twitter is still a very useful tool for pushing out information to people. After all, it is called a micro-blogging platform for a reason.

Are there ways you can make Twitter more useful? I’ll be writing about that coming up soon.

What do you think?  Does Twitter serve as your second IM?  How do you use Twitter?  Leave your comments below!

Blog Updated, And I Need Your Help!

I recently upgraded this blog to the latest WordPress version.  I had such a pain with it as I tracked down some issues I was having.  I’ll write more about that later.  But, for now, I’ll just say that, with that upgrade and troubleshooting, I had to change some things around.  Many plugins were reinstalled from scratch. So, to ensure that all is working right, I’m calling on all of you!

If you could, take a look through my blog and test things out.  If you find something broken, let me know!

Thank you!

Google Announce Google Chrome OS

In what seems like another big announcement today, Google has announced that they are working on a new operating system.  The Google Chrome OS is said to be different from Android and targeted towards netbooks.

It is little wonder that this new OS is targeted towards people that want to get online fast.  In fact, their blog post mentions the intention of the OS itself:

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web.

For someone that has seemed to do a good job at providing both a great internet search engine and a simple, straight-forward browser, it is no surprise that they are pointing towards the web as the platform for their applications.  And, what applications would one use on a netbook?  Documents? Spreadsheets? Google Docs covers that.  Email? Gmail has that down, too. What about talking with your friends online? Google Talk handles that.

“Alright,” some of you may be saying. “So you’re suggesting that Google does it all?”  Not necessarily.  There are times where you might find a need to chat with friends on Yahoo or MSN quickly, which is where a service such as Meebo can come in.  Or if you need to pop on IRC to get some Ubuntu support, you can use a variety of web-based solutions, including Mibbit.

Overall, this may lead to a very versatile application environment:

For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies.

With the web as your platform, that gives you quite a few options.  And, if we can assume that Google Chrome will be the standard browser in Google Chrome OS, then you’re looking at a fairly stable, smooth operating environment for your applications.  Plus, there’s the added benefit:

And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

If some app happens to stand out on Google Chrome OS, it is possible it either already exists on the web or would be easily available for the rest of us to use (should we not be using Google Chrome OS).

As people use the Internet more and more for work, communcation, and the overall sharing of ideas, simpler and smaller internet solutions may be required.  Netbooks cater to that audience.  And, given how Google Chrome itself has jumped into the browser pool, Google Chrome OS may make a similar splash with netbooks when it is released.

Share your views on this!  Leave a comment or send me a tweet about this post.

Gmail and Google Apps Come Out of Beta

Fresh, breaking news from @Google‘s blog: Google Apps, Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar, Talk, they’re all coming out of beta.  After being in beta for over five years, Gmail now will be without those four little letters that we’ve all come to know and love.

What does this mean for those apps?  Is Google changing how they’re working on them?  Not really.  Here’s a quote from their blog:

“Beta” will be removed from the product logos today, but we’ll continue to innovate and improve upon the applications whether or not there’s a small “beta” beneath the logo.

So, all that is changing is the removal of ‘Beta’ from the logos, it seems.

What kind of impact might this have?  Honestly, I already think of Google as providing wonderfully useful apps and services.  The fact that they now no longer list it as beta doesn’t change much in my mind.  But it may make things look more professional to people, especially those that may not know how well Google makes things.

Either way, Gmail and Google Apps are still very useful, and I’m glad they’re sticking around!

Billy Mays Dead? What Next?

As reported by Fox News, Tampa Bay Online, the Tampa Bay Business Journal, and the Associated Press (via MSNBC), TV pitchman Billy Mays was found dead in his Tampa home.  They say he was found unresponsive and was pronounced dead early this morning.

Wow, this makes for quite an interesting week!  The month had started off in a weird way with the announced death of actor David Carradine on June 3rd.  But the past week has seemed weirder than all of the speculation put around Carradine’s death.

June 23rd, Ed MacMahon, the voice of the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, passed.  He was definitely a big name in the entertainment world for many decades.  He and Carson both made for a great late night show which I would love to see more of.

Then, two days later, on June 25th, we first heard of the death of Farrah Fawcett from cancer.  Her looks, and her time as one of Charlie’s Angels, made her an international star.  Then, later that same day (and pretty much stealing the headlines, even to today), Michael Jackson died from cardiac arrest.  All you have to do is look at how the media is still covering his death, as well as see all of the tributes that have gone up to him (and, to a lesser extent, Farrah Fawcett) to see how people reacted to their deaths.

Now, the crazy news for today.  In less than a week since Ed MacMahon’s death, Billy Mays is found dead.  It seems so crazy to hear about yet another big named celebrity to die.  Granted, time and unforeseen occurance befalls everyone, but it still is making for an interesting week.

So, goodbye, Billy Mays.  OxiClean, Orange Glo, Kaboom, Handy Switch, iCan, Steam Buddy, Tool Bandit, Gopher, and every other product you were the front man for will never be the same again.

Well, maybe the same, but just quieter.

Now… I wonder what news we’ll be seeing this week.

Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood Concert Review

Surprisingly, I’ve had several people eagerly awaiting my review.  Therefore, here it is!

The last time I had gone to a Clapton concert, I made sure to blog about it right away.  This time, it’s taken me a week to write this.  But, here it is!

The concert itself was on June 17th.  While it’s been a few days, the details have definitely stuck in my mind, as it was quite the concert!  It was my third time seeing Eric Clapton (and my first for Steve Winwood), but for a friend that came with us, it was his first Clapton experience.  This concert was probably definitely a great way to introduce him to a live Clapton concert!

At 8:15pm, the lights were turned off.  The crowd on the floor and most of the 100 level got up as  the band came out on stage.  A simple “good evening” was enough to get a large cheer from the audience.  Seconds later, the band went into Had to Cry Today.  While I couldn’t hear the crowd, as Eric went into his first solo, I knew this would be a great evening.

The immediately went into Low Down.  It’s not a song I think I have heard before.  Still, for the evening, it was Eric’s first time behind the mic.  Given the blues-ish feel to the song, it’s no surprise on that.

Immediately after that was After Midnight.  After hearing him play that live during his last tour, I was glad it was played again.  It’s such a fun song when live.  I don’t know why I think that.  And as they ended the song, they went straight into Presence of The Lord.  This is the first concert I’ve been to where it was played, and it definitely is another great song.  (I should stop calling them great songs, as most of them were).

Sleeping in the Ground and Glad followed.  Sleeping in the Ground isn’t one of my favorite songs, but it was still good live.  Glad was a good song that, for sure, I’d like to see if I can get my band to learn.  The song that I quickly liked, though, was the following, Well Alright.  Eric’s opening riff caught my eye as a guitar player.  Since then, I’ve tried to recreate it… I’m still working on it.

When Tough Luck Blues started, it reminded me of the past concerts I’ve seen.  The way this one was started made me think of Little Queen of Spades and Have You Ever Loved a Woman.  I guess those blues songs in C all can start in similar ways.  Nothing wrong with that, of course!  Tough Luck Blues was over 7 minutes long, leaving plenty of time for great solos throughout the whole song.

As Pearly Queen started, I didn’t realize it’d be such a fun song.  Eric’s solos, again, were awesome. (And again, how can I say otherwise about his solos?)  And that only got better when, after a few seconds of playing some notes, they go right into Crossroads.  I like how the crowd doesn’t go nuts until he starts singing.  Is it that difficult to pick out a beat, key, or riff before vocals start?

After Crossroads, full of Eric and Steve singing verses and solos all around, they went into There’s a River.  This is probably one of the songs lower on my list of favorites from this show.  But what I did really enjoy were the vocal harmonies.  I think they were just grand.

At this point, we were already over half-way through the concert.  And that’s when Forever Man began.  It was something I was looking forward to after seeing the set lists for the earlier concerts.  Amazing work from the band on this.  As a side note, this is where I first noticed Eric playing a guitar out of standard tuning.  Based on what he was playing, I do believe it was dropped a step in tuning.  If anyone has any other speculation, or even confirmation, on this, please let me know!  I’m curious.

With that great song over, the band cleared the stage, leaving Steve Winwood alone at his organ.  After a few words to the audience, where he thanked the audience and said how grateful he was to be playing there, he began his solo song, Georgia on My Mind.  Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy this, both his singing as well as his organ solo.

At this point, the ‘acoustic’ set began.  This opened with Driftin’.  It was slower than I expected, but it was still a cool acoustic song.  I almost didn’t notice the rest of the band in on this, as Eric was seemingly stealing the show with his acoustic work.  I definitely need to play better acoustic like that!

How Long didn’t really get my attention.  But the song after, Layla, definitely got my, and everyone else’s, attention!  Again, this is a song that you just can’t go wrong with.  It was on this song that I realized, again, that Eric was playing in a dropped tuning.  In this case, just a half step down.

With the same, lower tuning, they immediately followed with Can’t Find My Way Home.  Being a Clapton/Winwood event, you can’t go through the concert without that.

With the acoustic set over, they went back, full energy, into Split Decision.  This was a great song, but I was totally surprised when I heard them go straight into Voodoo Chile!  I had a feeling it’d be played, but I wasn’t thinking that I would be hearing it right away.  But, wow, the band did great, and the audience fully appreciated all 15+ minutes of the song.  It seemed like an open jam at some points, but for such a great song, it was enough for the whole band to show off.

With Voodoo Chile over, I was expecting some more powerful hits.  Little Wing, Cocaine, something.  But the band just called it at that.  It seemed like a bit of a soft ending.  But, as I already knew a bit about the encore, it was definitely worth cutting the show a bit early.

The typical encore on the tour has seemed to be Dear Mr. Fantasy.  Well, we did not get that!  We’re Chicago.  What kind of treat could we have?

Why, Buddy Guy, of course!  There were some guitar volume issues at first, but once those were resolved, he was right into the song.  And what other song is there to play first than Sweet Home Chicago.  With both Eric and Buddy playing, it was a definite treat for Chicago.  Everyone definitely was singing along!   But one song isn’t enough!  So, why not throw in Drowning On Dry Land?  There you go!  Not only did Buddy do great on guitar, but vocally, he got the crowd going.  He even almost got some of the band to crack up.

Sadly, after those two songs, the show was over.  I was hoping for a second encore, and with how long it took for the lights to come on, it almost seemed possible.  Alas, such was not to be the case.  But that’s fine.  It was still a great night, either way!

Clapton Concert Review Coming Soon

Wednesday, I went to see Eric Clapton and Steven Winwood in concert.  I’ve been asked by a few people how the concert was.  Well, I will be writing a thorough review and posting it tomorrow for all to read.  I will try to include all that I can remember and describe things as best as possible.

I hope you’re eager to read it!

How the new Trek movie relates to previous Trek

Given how some people seem to not fully understand how the new Star Trek movie fits in with all other things Trek, I think it is appropriate to write a little about this.

Since the new movie has come out, I’ve heard various things.  For example, I’ve heard some say that this ruins all Trek given what happens in the movie.  Others have said that this finally explains how Kirk and Spock (and company) meet up.

Really, both are wrong!  This does not ruin anything, and it also does not show us how anyone met anyone.  At this point, I’d like to bring in a diagram to help show what I mean. [Picture used with permission from TerryN. Their original post is here.]

How the new movie affects the Trek timeline

How the new movie affects the Trek timeline

I think that picture definitely helps with explaining how the new movie’s timeline affects (or rather, does not affect) what is already established.

The events of Star Trek: Enterprise remain.  The deviation occurs prior to what would have been the original Star Trek series.  The difference is caused by Nero, commanding the Narada, falling through the black hole and encountering the USS Kelvin.  From that point on, everything else was happening in an alternate timeline.  (Which, coincidentally enough, is all but 2 minutes of the movie!)

Am I (or others) just making this up? Nope!  The dialogue was said on screen, in the movie, between Uhura and Spock.  If you don’t believe me, go watch the movie again.

So, did this new movie ruin previous Trek?  Did it tell us the hidden truth behind Kirk and Spock’s friendship?  Did it show how the crew found themselves together on the Enterprise?


Keep that in mind the next time you hear someone say one of the things above.  It may help them better understand the movie (and any future ones that may come from JJ Abrams).