Archive for May, 2009

Detained In North Korea  Journalist Laura Ling and Euna Lee, please helpLisa Ling is going to speak out on June 1 to increase public support for her sister, Laura Ling and Euna Lee.  They were captured on March 19 by North Korean border soldiers and have been detained since.  Their trial is on June 4 and all of us are praying that they will be freed and not used as pawns by the immature and reckless North Korean government.

This is Lisa Ling’s message sent to the Detained in North Korea Facebook group.

Our families have decided to go public. The girls’ trial starts June 4, we must get the message of diplomacy out. We’ll start with the Today Show Mon (June 1) morning, Larry King, Nightline Mon night. Anderson Cooper during the week as the trial begins. Please help us spread the message. Thank you.

Schedule of appearances of Lisa Ling:

Monday June 1st
The Today Show (NBC)
the 7AM block on Monday morning.

Monday June 1st.
Larry King show (CNN)
9pm (EST) l 6pm (PST)

Wednesday, June 3rd
Anderson Cooper

Lisa has also just started a petition of her own. Please take a minute to sign this online. It’s very user friendly and extremely important. A click of the mouse makes all the difference in the world.
**** NEW ON-LINE PETITION GOING TO THE U.N. ****
Please click on the link and sign the petition to help Laura Ling and Euna Lee.
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/free-euna-and-laura

If you are on Facebook, you may keep up to date with activities regarding Laura and Euna on the following group page:
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=688331732&ref=profile#/group.php?gid=60755553149&ref=nf

Please pray for Laura Ling and Euna Lee.  They were so courageous to attempt to reveal the plight of North Korean refugees.  Pray that all of this will be used for God’s glory and not only will Laura and Euna be freed but so will all North Korean refugees.

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I have been hearing for many years how good of an insurance company Amica is.  But for whatever reason, probably cost, I did not switch to Amica.

Recently my home and auto insurance were coming up for renewal.  I decided to investigate Amica’s rates and this time I was pleasantly surprised to learn their rates were better than my current provider’s, Farmer’s.  I also looked into a few others and still found Amica’s to be the best.

This survey on FreeAdvice shows how good people think Amica is.

Amica touts their awards and recognition on their own site.

So far service has been good.  The sale went slower than I expected but maybe that’s a good thing.  Also when I canceled my Farmer’s insurance I received a funny reply.

Please keep in mind with these not well known insurance companies you run the risk of underpaid claims or even denial of claims. You might be saving money now, but in the end you can end up paying a lot more out of pocket for claims. I’ve never heard of Amica these (sic) is why I bring this up to you.

One thing I have immediately appreciated about Amica is how no-frills they are.  All their paperwork has no color and their auto insurance identification cards are on plain paper.  That’s my kind of insurance company.

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I haven’t followed the NHL since I was a kid growing up in Toronto.  I remember watching Gretzky, Lafleur, Lemieux and the one and only Bobby Orr growing up.

The NHL is drawing me back and it’s because of Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.  Check out this YouTube video of “Ovechkin’s incredible goal“.

I desperately want the Penguins to win.  To me it’s like the Islander and Oilers where the Red Wings are the Islanders and the Penguins are the Oilers.  The first time they met in the finals the Islanders won and the second time the Islanders won the first game and then lost the next four.  Let’s hope history repeats for the Penguins.

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I predicted Denver would win eventhough I thought LA would win because I wanted Denver to win.  I predicted Cleveland would win eventhough I wanted Orlando to win.

Now I am predicting Orlando to win in 6 games for several reasons.

  1. I think LA might have the better team on paper but Orlando has the best defense and has beaten LA in both games it has played against them this season, though by a small margin.
  2. I like Dwight Howard.  I like seeing nice guys win.
  3. I don’t like Kobe for many reasons.  And if he wins he will be compared more to MJ and I’d prefer that not happen.
  4. Dwight Howard said God is on their side. :-)

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Blog Update Services

 | May 29, 2009 10:43 AM

blog ping services

When you install a WordPress blog on Dreamhost it automatically sets up the update service to notify people that you’ve updated your blog.

The default pinging service is http://rpc.pingomatic.com/
but this blog article suggests using these.

http://rpc.pingomatic.com

http://www.blogpeople.net/servlet/weblogUpdates

http://ping.myblog.jp

http://ping.bloggers.jp/rpc/

http://bblog.com/ping.php

And that’s what I did.  What do you use?

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Stickiness

 | 10:07 AM

In an attempt to help increase traffic and make my site “stickier” I added two plugins, Add to Any and Subscribe to Comments.

Share/Save/BookmarkThe first plugin adds this lovely button which allows the reader to share a post from my blog or save it to their blog or bookmarks.

The second plugin allows users who comment on one of my posts to be notified via email if there are new comments made on the same post by simply clicking on the checkbox like below.

I was considering a different plugin, Comment to Reply Notification, because users were complaing about the Subscribe to Comments plugin and recommended this plugin.  The Comment to Reply Notification is newer and is designed for WordPress 2.7, the latest version as of this writing.  However this plugin did not work for me and thankfully Subscribe to Comments is.

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This article, Google Analytics script, has a comment thread where people debate whether Google Analytics or WordPress.com Stats is better.  The consensus seems to be that you might as well use both and that though Google Analytics has more info it might be overkill.

WordPress.com Stats was easy enough to install and I could use the same WordPress.com API key for all my blogs.  The only issue was that to see the stats in my dashboard I had to enable third-party cookies in my browser (normally I don’t to keep out unwanted cookies).

Google Analytics took a little longer to set up but was still easy.  I had to create separate Google Analytics accounts for each of my blogs.  Google asked if I wanted to share my data and though I was suspicious I said yes because they said I would have access to other services if I did.  I then configured the plugin for each blog with the correct Analytics Account ID.  For this blog the footer does not call wp_footer(); for some reason so I placed the tracking script in the header.  For my professional blog I placed the tracking script in the footer since that is the default.

I have a feeling I am going to end up liking WordPress.com stats better because it is simpler and more tuned to the stats I want from a blog.  Below is a sample screenshot.

WordPress.com Stats screenshot

But I am glad I am also at the same time compiling stats on Google Analytics.

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Protected Posts

 | May 28, 2009 7:13 AM

You are most likely viewing this page because you tried to access a post that is protected.  To view that post you must be registered and logged in.  After doing this please try accessing the post again.

Restricted Content

Previously I was concerned about privacy, i.e. my blog posts showing up in unexpected places and being read by unintended guests.  I tried to address it by having everyone log in to view my blog but that proved to be a problem because RSS feeds no longer worked.  Recently I opened my blog to search engines and noticed a spike in traffic but I think that was mostly from Google.

I have searched for a solution for awhile and I finally found a good compromise, the User Permissions Plugin.  By using this plugin I can restrict certain posts to only be available to readers who are registered and logged in.  Also these restricted posts will not show up in RSS feeds.  I modified the plugin to redirect to this post instead of “/“.

The downside is that my regular readers will have to be logged in to read these restricted posts.

Regular readers please register if you have not already and always log in if you want to read all the posts, especially posts about my kids.

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Twitter, Facebook and My Blog

 | May 25, 2009 8:53 PM

I asked a friend how to automatically post to Twitter and Facebook whenever I write a new blog article and he pointed me to twitterfeed.  This started an interesting Web 2.0 journey.

  1. Went to twitterfeed.
  2. Tried to register and realized I needed an OpenID.
  3. Went to myvidoop to register for an OpenID.
  4. Returned to twitterfeed and logged in using my OpenID URL.
  5. Logged in to my twitter account on twitterfeed.
  6. Created a bit.ly (URL shortener that does more than TinyURL) account to use with twitterfeed.
  7. Created a feed for my blog.
  8. Went to Facebook and added the Twitter application.
  9. Linked Twitter to Facebook by clicking on the link “Want Twitter to update your Facebook status?”
    Update 07-27-2009: I now use the Tweetpo.st Facebook application instead of the Twitter Facebook application.  It is much better as described in this Mashable article.
  10. Realized I needed to turn off protected status in my Twitter account.
  11. Went back to Facebook and clicked on the link “Want Twitter to update your Facebook status?”
  12. Posted this blog and hoped that twitterfeed works. :-)

Update 06-02-2009: I decided to turn off twitterfeed because I did not like the tweets it created.  I realized more since to create them manually and try to enter as much information as possible since people do Twitter searches on the tweets.

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Today at Lowes I was looking at the different types of zucchini seeds.  I did not know which one to purchase but the ones that said hybrid seemed suspicious.  I then noticed some organic seeds that were about 50 cents more.  I was not sure if it made a difference but I bought it anyway and then did some research when I got home.  Here is what I learned.

A little seed may seem like no big deal. Who cares whether it is organic or not, the end result will be organic if you choose to grow it that way. Not so fast. A 2007 study by The Organic Center in Colorado found that sure, a seed might not be organic, but you will be able to tell by the fruit it bears later on. All seeds carry residual effects from pesticides and herbicides in the ground as well as hormones sprayed in and around the plants, bushes or trees.

Since farmers have been using pesticides, steroids and other ‘non-natural’ ways to grow produce faster and bigger for decades, we can now test between the two methods. Crops that are grown now using the modern farming method have 1/5 to 1/4 less nutritional value that their counterparts did 50 years ago. What does that mean exactly? To get the same nutritional value of an apple picked in say, 1942, today you would have to eat two or three apples. Iron counts are lower, vitamin A levels are lower as well as many other important healthy components of the apple.

Organic Seeds vs Regular Seeds: One little seed can make a big difference. | Suite101.com.

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