Random musings, observations, squeaks, whimpers and perhaps the ocassional rant. About what, I'm not sure.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


I've moved blahgKarma to, and although I'll be in this old site harvesting some info and maybe very infrequently posting on a subject or two, please redirect your attention the new site. If you're viewing via RSS/reader, the proper feed address is

Many thanks!


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas, Big and Little...

Not sure how I missed it, but I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and only today, while preparing another post, did I realize I never posted it!

Today (10 December) was a great day – got to do something we did last year for work, which was deliver Santa Claus to the second annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of Martin County Big and Little Christmas Party, an extension of the BBBS Santa Claus Open golf tournament.  What a hoot!

IMG_3682You see, last year we got a call from Santa Claus that his sleigh was in the shop for its annual pre-Christmas tune up, but that he had this committment to drop by this very special Christmas Party, and that the Martin County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit could bring him by, but their helicopter is green and white, and with ours matching Santa’s red, white and gold color scheme perfectly, would we consider helping him out.  Are you kidding… pass on a chance to help Santa and Big Brothers Big Sisters at the same time… you betcha!

Santa arrived at the base around 11:30, posed for a few photos with Capt. Blank and Flight Medics Sorrells and Gordils (a great team, by the way), checked in on the radio and then was off for a quick aerial tour of Martin County while we staged the kids and prepped the landing zone at The Grace Place on Salerno Road (big thank-you to Grace Place, who for two years now has been kind enough to let BBBS use their facility for the party, which drew around a hundred folks this year).

IMG_3705With the Bigs and Littles all outside, “Santa One” made a couple of recon/vanity orbits around the site, called inbound, and then landed, delivering their precious cargo.  Seeing the kids’ excitement and reaction was awesome, and the adults loved it too (who wouldn’t?).  Santa visited outside in a sea of kids of all ages, then posed for a few photos and headed back to the north pole.

Besides helping out Big Brothers Big Sisters (disclosure: I’m on the board), this kind of community event has to be the most fun and one of the most rewarding aspect of associating with LifeStar and Martin County Fire Rescue.  Providing positive exposure to public safety personnel and careers helps everyone and the community at large, but putting a smile on a child’s face is so easy, but something we don’t always have the opportunity (or take the time) to do. 


Thanks to Fred, Jim, Chuck from LifeStar, Bill and Ed Bee and Gigi Suntum and all the other folks from Big Brothers Big Sisters, and most of all our Bigs, who really make the rubber meet the road in BBBS by mentoring Littles that are all the better for it.

Great way to start of the holiday season, if you ask me…

Monday, November 28, 2005

Last Post on Blogger...

OK guys, even though I’m not quite done with my theme/presentation configuration on WordPress, I’m cutting off the Blogger version of blahgKarma.  I’ll post here ocassionally over the next two weeks asking you to please subscribe to the feed for the new WordPress version, where you’ll still find all the blahgKarma goodness you’ve come to know and love, but I’m not going to parallel post any more.

The new and improved blahgKarma, complete with a totally new look and a bunch of new features, is located at  If you’re reading by browser, please come here to read.  If you’re subscribing via RSS, i hope you’re already on the FeedBurner version of the feed, which is  Let me know via comments if you’re using this read and you’re having trouble with it (read the post below on Bloglines’ trouble with FeedBurner first).  Also, autodiscovery should be updated, so if you’re NOT reading via RSS, you should be able to browse over to the new site and have your reader/browser subscribe you.

Bloglines Sync-ing Issue...

After a couple of days of back and forth with Sandy Kemsley regarding my FeedBurner feeds not working properly in Bloglines, I’m confident the problem is on the Bloglines end.  As noted in a bunch of web references I Googled-up on the topic.  And since you don’t really want to go through all the troubleshooting Sandy did, I thought I’d make a quick reference here.

One of the behaviors is Bloglines not displaying or catching updates on the feed.  This, amazingly enough, is because in this case their RSS retrieval system stops retrieving info on the feed.  Not a handy feature when you’re an RSS reader.

The other behavior is errant information in the feed.  In my case, I updated my FeedBurner feed to use a different source URL, and when BlogLines was reading the feed, some of the info, like the URL associated with the blahgKarma header displayed for the feed in Bloglines, was incorrect – as it was an artifact from aged info from an earlier incarnation of the feed.

I can only conclude that Bloglines is doing all sorts of caching in their system when it comes to RSS reading, and that its not all working right.  A few of the articles I read indicated they’re good about fixing the problem on a feed-by-feed and user-by-user basis, so we’ll see if they respond and correct the issue.  Maybe one of the triggers for the issue is updating the underlying feed address in a FeedBurner feed (i.e. the address FeedBurner burns from).

Thanks again for the help Sandy.  I’m so glad you didn’t lose any data when you reformatted your hard drive during the testing (grin).

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Permalinks Are a Bitch and a Half...

Ran into a speed bump while implementing WordPress this weekend… well, two of them I guess.  One having to do with feature/capabilities and configuration, one with docs and one with IIS hosting in general.

Feature problem first – permalinks.  They’re a necessity, I think, and although every WordPress posting gains a unique ID, which in and of itself when handed to the proper URL serves as a permalink, I see two issues with them.  One, they’re ugly and two, they’re search engine unfriendly – that is, they don’t help your posts get indexed by the search engines.  So, off I go to mod the permalink structure (an easy thing to do, right?  Just update the appropriate panel in WP Admin?), and man did I hit the wall.  Long story short, you can change the structure all you want but the feature really just doesn’t work in a Windows shared hosted environment.

Which brings me to problem two – docs.  There’s a huge wiki with WordPress info in it, and I’ve found it very useful.  Unfortunately, the 50 or so articles/comments I read that took me down two different paths to try to resolve my issue were vague when it came to what environment the fixes applied to – in my case PHP running on Windows with IIS 6.  The info on manually editing redirects, etc. doesn’t even apply in my case (guess I’ll never get those two hours back, will I).  And, the need for making those tweaks on other platforms went away with WP version 1.5.  I’ll ask a favor – if you’re posting detailed fix info in the codex (and many, many people do – and the info is generally superb in quality), please indicate what platform and version of WP you’re referring to.  You know, so morons like me don’t make a bunch of unnecessary changes that don’t fix the problem anyway.  Thank you.

For now, I’m blowing off permalinks that will help with search engine optomization, in favor of publishing the site.  I don’t think this will bite me in the ass when I change the permalink structure later (assuming there really is a reasonable fix), since accessing a post via its unique ID should always work.  I hope…

Next step, swinging the FeedBurner feed over to the new blogsite.  Wish me luck…

WordPress Question...

This is as much to remind me to look for a particular WordPress plugin as it is to see if anyone reading can help… in the past, I’ve used a service from to maintain my blahgRoll.  It was simple – no real coding required, just a copy and paste – and it had a cool feature I liked, which was the ability to flag the blogs I point to with an icon indicating new content.  Now that I’m on WP, I have a dilemma… work to modify the theme I’m using to implement the blogrolling script, or find some other way to indicate “new”.  I don’t really want to do either… what I want is another WordPress plugin to magically appear to solve my problem, like tBlogrollinghe one from Ron Heft for WebStat.

Anyone out there?  The plugin really is the elegant solution, since I’m just as likely as not to change themes and would then have to re-implement blogrolling.  Truth is, I’ll probably stop using the service (or at least paying for it – there are two versions)… the Links feature of WordPress is working fine, sans this one feature…

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Awesome Power of the Internet...

I’m really starting to like WordPress.  Have pretty much given up on the Movable Type install, as no matter how I describe the path problem I’m having to my ISP, they don’t have a solution for me (I know its a minor problem, and its one that SixApart has a technote on, but I’m worn out from trying to resolve it).

BlogJetOne shortfall I saw in WordPress right away was the lack of a WYSIWYG editor for creating entries.  True, I’ll rarely use it, since BlogJet is chugging along posting to WP for me, but for other users this would be a real pain.  But, through the process of researching posting, I came across the WordPress Plug-ins DatabaseWordPress is extensible, you see, and there are a gazillion plugins to extend it with (OK, maybe a gazillion is an exaggeration).

Browsed around Google, found a number of links to/mentions of WYSI-WordPress, downloaded and drag-installed it, and in less than 5 minutes I had WYSIWYG post creation.  Haven’t figured out how embedding photos in a post works yet (its a feature of the plugin), but if I had to use the web interface to create posts, that would do it.

But that’s not the cool part, believe it or not.  The cool part is how the Internet collapses time and space, and helped me solve another problem – tracking stats.  For a year or so I’ve used the Pro version of WebStat for basic site stats management.  Couple of weeks ago was lucky enough to get a Google Analytics account, and what do you know – there were several GA plugins available for WordPress.  One of which is by a guy named Ronald Hess, Jr.

Ron wrote a very basic but very useful WP plugin called Google Analyticator that inserts the Google Analytics tracking code in the header of every page in your WP site.  And, it has a feature to exclude your own administrative traffic if you’d like… its pretty slick.  Installed via drag and drop, configured with two mouse clicks, and that was it.  But then I got thinking… hey, what I REALLY want is a similar plugin for WebStat.  Having manually altered my Blogger templates to facilitate WebStat tracking I knew it was only a couple of lines of code and I could insert it manually into the proper file(s) for my WP template, but what happens if I switch templates?  Or update a template.  Trouble, that’s what.

So, like the programming genius I am, I tried hacking Ron’s plugin.  After a half hour of not getting the syntax right, I gave up and just e-mailed him, along the lines of “loved your GA plugin, will you make one for WebStat?”.  Long story short, an hour later and I had the plugin and had it implemented.

CavemonkeyNow I’m not saying you should all try to get Ron to write free plugins for you for WP (see Ron’s plugins page on his CaveMonkey50 site for more).  But I really appreciate his work, which made mine easier and more maintainable.  Great work, Ron… hope lots of other folks use the plugin too.

Finally, and to me this is the coolest part, Ron is a high school Senior.  In Pennsylvania.  Who I’ve never met.  Now THAT’S the power of the Internet.  Good on you, Ron, and restart that PayPal tip jar – cash is king!  Or should I say, cha-ching…

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Some WordPress-ions...

WplogoA few early impressions on WordPress (the standalone version, not WordPress online

Installation – WordPress is a snap to install.  it literally took me all of 5 minutes, just like promised.  This, I have to say, is a huge plus (in contrast, I’ve worked about an hour and a half so far to configure Movable Type, and I’m waiting for Support at my ISP to make a change for me so I can enable it).  A point for WordPress…

Configuration – on Movable Type, the first thing I had to do was edit ten or so pages to point them to the Perl interpreter on my webhost.  Can’t that be abstracted somehow, so you just edit/enter it once?  Virtually no real configuration necessary to get WordPress up and running with the default skin/interface.  Point:  WordPress.

MtlogoImporting from Blogger – OK, so this DIDN’T take 5 minutes, more like an hour and two or three tries.  The point, though, is that there are a couple tutorials for doing this.  It wasn’t clear to me that if I wanted to import from Blogger and HaloScan that there was a separate Blogger template you set up temporarily (i.e. there’s one Blogger template you implement for the stock “import from Blogger” action, and then a different one if you’re using Blogger and HaloScan).  Not a big deal, though… I did a test import from a test Blogger blog, and then when I went to what I thought was the next step – importing the Haloscan comments – I found that the procedure is an either/or, not additive.  Adapted, and the Blogger import seems to have worked like a champ.  Point: WordPress (note - this is conditional… I’ve been reading up on importing from Blogger to MT and it looks more complicated, but honestly I haven’t done it yet, so watch for this to be rescinded if it works better).

Multiple Blog Support/Blog Hosting Services – I think Movable Type has WordPress beaten here, although it could be that I’m just more familiar with Movable Type’s licensing and provisioning models than WordPress’.  WordPress seems to be set up for administrative aggregation for multiple blogs, and I haven’t found that capability yet in WordPress.  Considering the Movable Type is down a couple of points, I’ll give them this one, conditionally.  Point:  Movable Type.

All for now.  I’m playing with WP skins, slogging through the PlugIns, and making a few more test entries.  I also have to wait for the domain to propagate.  When it does, I make the FeedBurner tweak, give you a new URL for live browsing, and then we’ll see what’s up… still trying to get MT up and running – way more to do than to get WP running, thats for sure.



Breadcrumbs, Courtesy of FeedBurner...

SandycommentOne of the challenges in moving an existing blog to another infrastructure/location is “what happens to the current readers”. For those reading a blog directly, as in going to the blog’s URL in your browser (hey, people still do it), a post on the blog is one method of redirection. Another would be to point the “old” blog at the “new” address by some means, so folks arriving at the “old” location are automatically redirected to the new location. And, I suppose if you had a closed community of users (i.e. where you knew everyone who was reading), you might contact them directly to advise of the change. Or, maybe do all three.

But what about folks that are reading via syndication? If you published your feed URL and its a component of the “old” infrastructure, how do you get the folks on the feed over to the new content/infrastructure. Posting a message on the “old” blog with the location of the “new” one would be one method, but the users/readers then have to take action. Will they?

Feedburner2Enter FeedBurner… FeedBurner is an RSS syndication service that’s separate from your own blog. With FeedBurner, you can create a feed for your blog which news readers can subscribe to (i.e. its a plain old feed), except that FeedBurner is picking up its own updates from the blog and then forming your feed. Why is this interesting – well, besides a whole bunch of cool features they also offer, FeedBurner provides a way to implement abstraction between the blog and the feed.

Here’s the scoop – when I publish a feed on Blogger, Blogger is forming the RSS feed. Users subscribe to it. Everyone’s happy… until I decide to dump Blogger. Unless I publish a note in the Blogger blog indicating where I’m going, existing subscribers don’t know where I’ve gone. When I do post an entry about where I’ve gone and the user picks it up via RSS, they’ll have to either go to the “new” blog and subscribe, or I’d have to include the “new” feed in the post. Either way, this causes work for the user/reader.

FeedburnerWith FeedBurner, the location of the blog is an input to feed formation. That is, you tell FeedBurner where you want to create your feed from, they create a feed for you on the fly, and you publish the FeedBurner feed. If you change blog locations, guess what – you tell FeedBurner where you want it to look NOW for your content (i.e. update the blog’s inherent feed location), and POOF, it updates it behind the scenes. Meaning, no work for the readers who subscribed to the Feedb\Burner feed for your site.

This solution probably doesn’t scale well for the entire blogosphere – I’m sure some other abstraction solution will come along at some point, but for now, with FeedBurner being a free service and with blogging infrastructure being nascent as it is, I’d abstract my feed(s) if I were you. Why not?

UPDATE: If you don't already have the FeedBurner ATOM feed for blahgKarma, its Thanks, Sandy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Goodbye Blogger, Hello (Something Else)...

Well, I finally reached the breaking point today – I officially hate Blogger and am kissing it goodbye.  Last time I was this frustrated I wanted to do something about it but didn’t.  This time, I’m doing something about it, starting today.

This afternoon I downloaded WordPress, and to install it on one of my shared hosting accounts took me – literally – less than 5 minutes.  Of course, it took me a couple of hours to figure out the scripts and docs for moving my Blogger stuff over to WP, but that seems to have worked – at least at this point.  Even got the Haloscan comments over, which was impressive.  All this courtesy of tutorials from Justinsomnia.

Not sure if WordPress is the final solution – I’m looking at Moveable Type as well (I wonder what the migration options are) – but either of them are a huge step up over Blogger.  Sorry Google… too many glitches in too short a time.  Good luck with it.