The other day I was browsing the blogroll for Nov. 2010 NaBloPoMo when I saw some really interesting art designed with a program called flame painter. I really don’t have words, so here are some of my paintings. I did as the author of the program suggested, I experimented with the settings. There is a limited feature free version available online or a paid version that looks to be less than $15. Be sure to check the gallery of images, there’s an awesome flame dragon.
After making a few paintings of my own, I clicked into the experiments area and can only wonder if I’ll get any knitting done before crawling into bed in the wee hours of tomorrow. If you don’t draw with pen and paper or feel you can’t paint, find a way to simulate the art form. Do it often. Try different mediums, like a paint program online, maybe you’ll find the artist inside yearning to break free. Or maybe you’ll just have fun creating random flames of color like I did. I think I’ll add online art to my list of mediums to play with every now and again.
A few years ago I purchased 2 sets of Boye Needlemaster interchangeable needles. I was able to find them on sale at a closeout store and love that I have two of every size from 2 to 15. One major drawback is the cable, all the Boye cables are a bit inflexible and have a weird join that adds to the length of the needle at a weird angle. On regular circular needles, it doesn’t bother me because they are glued together. On my interchangeables, I’m constantly grabbing the key and grip to tighten the join up because my pinky grabs at it and untwists it while I knit. A week or so ago I read a tutorial for making a flexible cable from weed eater cord and a few other parts. I love that Sarah decided it could be done and knew what materials to try. Her post makes it sound as if she tried a lot of things that didn’t work before she settled on what did work. I’m so excited about these new cables. I made a rather long one tonight so that I could try it out on my sweater. If you own a set of Boye Needlemaster interchangeables, I strongly recommend heading over to her site and making some new cables for yourself.
I’m currently working on the sleeves a la magic loop because I didn’t want to make a short cable tonight and a longer one in a few days when I was back to the body of the sweater. It’s been a bit since my last sweater update, I’ve got a lot of length on the sweater. I used up the second ball of yarn left it at an edge and decided it would make more sense to leave the stitches live and head up to finish the neck and sleeves. I followed the pattern for the neck and didn’t like how short/small it looked so I added a few more rows in pattern. Then I started on a sleeve with the plan to finish the other sleeve and try on the sweater while looking at the ball of yarn I have remaining. I should have enough yarn already spun so as long as I plan to leave enough for the bottom edge and bind off. I’m using approximately 8 yards per row so I should be able to accurately plan to make it as long as I want it or use up all the yarn, whichever comes first. I had hoped to finish by Nov. 26th so that I would have make a sweater in 30 days, unofficial NaKniSweMo and all, but I don’t think I can finish my current sleeve, make a second, finish the body and make the ties in 3 days. I knew it would be close and I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made. My new target is Nov. 30th so that my final NaBloPoMo entry will show a finished sweater. I’ll plan my sweater making project in 2011 so that it is completed in the month.
So, with the upgrade to WordPress 3.0 and picking a new theme, all the old tweaks I made are gone. It was probably for the best as I documented my changes halfheartedly to the point where if my theme stopped working, I wasn’t going to be able to remember what tweaks I made. I did discover one tweak that I needed to do immediately. I love to check my stats, I’m a stats junkie, I want to know how people found me and what they read when they arrive if they found me via a search. I clicked on a page that was viewed only to discover that it was the most unusable page I’ve ever seen. All the archive, category and a sundry pages displayed the title, tags and categories of the post along with the first 40 characters of the post, not 40 words, 40 characters. My poor readers had to click on each link to each post to see if it was relevant to what he/she wanted to view. I can’t stand it, if I search for something on a blog, I want to see the complete entries for my search because I’m unlikely to discover the info I need in that small portion of the post. I could help my readers by creating a summary of each post in the excerpt field when I create a new post, but why do I want to do that for what amounts to a chronicle of my random thoughts? The answer is, I don’t. So off to The Codex I went. Luckily for me, the theme I am using today is being used my others so I was able to find the solution because someone else already asked for it. I did a quick snip and replace to accomplish a much easier format for my readers.
My friends, if you need to fix a theme, child themes are the way to go, but if you discover on the fly that something isn’t working and you haven’t made your child theme yet, the codex is a wonderful tool as long as someone else asked and someone else answered. I understand that it can be difficult to get an answer if your question is too specific and largely won’t benefit others.
P.S. Next time I say I’m tweaking the theme, remind me to just make the child theme, too many more tweaks and I won’t remember what I’ve done.
I love to look at yesterday and compare it to today. Before you tell me to live for today, I don’t sit here wishing for what was or regretting what happened so long ago. I just like to review and see how or what has changed. In that spirit, it’s time for me to look at what’s on my iPod in the podcast section. I’ve had my iPod Classic for over a year now and still love it. I’ve dropped it enough times to break the case I bought for it and yet it still works. In the past I’ve provided this list with and without links to the blog/shownotes and iTunes. While it is a tremendous amount of work, I’ve decided that I prefer the list with links. Some podcasts have ended and I’ve dropped others. My tastes change and I’ve retried older ones as well as every new one that comes along. My list is almost too long to be manageable. I have favorites, ones I listen to on the computer I can’t even wait to sync. Others have built up a few episodes. I’m happy to report that a few have become family shows, so I don’t listen to them as soon as I see them. Instead they are saved up and we listen together in the car or on the weekend.
Last October I purchased a blank leather wrapped journal to turn into a custom calendar system for myself. I was so excited that I wanted to date it for Nov. 2009 and use it immediately. Since I had a current calendar at the time, I forced myself to date it for Jan. 2010 but started carrying it immediately to schedule things for the new year. I made a two-page spread for each week, a section for tasks, a section for projects and a section for random notes. I hated it. I am pretty sure it was the journal I chose. While the journal was attractive, it was bulky and heavy. I could tell instantly when I took it out of my bag or put it in because of the dramatic weight difference and it didn’t fit into my purse at all so I didn’t carry it unless I had my bag. I used it faithfully for a few months because I wanted to love it. I found myself only using the calendar part. I think I have used a total of 3 page fronts in the tasks/projects/notes sections. I tried to like it, I spent so much time drawing lines and number the pages and dating everything. It was so unhelpful that in October of this year I purchased a new pocket calendar that is so light I can’t tell if it’s in my purse/bag without looking.
I’m sure you know the kind, it’s a paper calendar with a staple or two in the center. It has a nice plastic outer wrapper that the covers slip into to protect it. I love it, well, not love it, but I’m using it and like it. It has silly inspirational quotes every month, though I’d prefer weekly ones. I started using it immediately. It’s a 16 month calendar, so October was already there just begging to be written on. I can’t cram 5 appts. into each day, but it’s working because it leaves the house with me. I’m using the post-it sticky flag to mark the current month so I can just flip to it. I use the covers to carry a few of my personal business cards in case I need to give someone my contact info. Each month has a two-page spread, the boxes for each day are less than an inch but I can write small. At the same time I purchased a wall calendar for 2011. I haven’t purchased one in years, I usually receive one as a gift at some point or am allowed to pick from a stack someone is giving away. I love to pick the ones with animal pictures for the months. The calendar I picked for 2010 had a problem. I couldn’t read the numbers on the calendar from across the room as the print was too light. The 2009 calendar didn’t have that problem. I tried using a sharpie to darken the numbers but that only frustrated me because it looked messy and sometimes the numbers still weren’t dark enough. Next year I have a rather plain calendar. It’s larger than the others I’ve had, at last 6 inches longer and the two pages are all calendar. I can write multiple things for each day when I need to and perhaps interesting sayings when I don’t. I can see it across the room and think it will be a good thing for me. The secret is the calendar’s intended purpose,I bought one that is marketed as an organizational calendar. I can write my stuff, Boo’s stuff and husband’s stuff as well as family stuff on it. Yes, there will be multiple times to write stuff because I also put family, Boo’s and my stuff on the one I carry but it’s worth it if it doesn’t aggravate me and I get where I need to be when I need to be.
The last organizational tool I added to my arsenal was a calendar plugin for Thunderbird. I tried multiple online calendar plugins with the blog, but 2010 has not been a stellar year for me blogging as I’ve been busy chasing a little boy. If I don’t look at the blog, I miss events or miss counting down and preparing for them. I can’t cram everything I’d like to do on to any paper calendar and lists were getting lost. I really only want to write the repetitive task once and let it carry itself along until an end date arrives. So I finally looked to the intarwebs (giggle) for a solution. While I detest MS Outlook, one of the nice tools is the calendar system. I’ve never used it in a company where everyone uses it but I love that I can schedule a meeting and it automatically sends invites to everyone or I can just make them accept it if I have the right privileges to do so. I have no need to do that, but I have my computer on every day. While I don’t spend all day at it, I hear the beeps and check in once every couple of hours or so. I love being notified as soon as I start my day of the tasks I need to accomplish or the appts scheduled for the day.
Check back in a year to see how it’s working for me. I can tell you that for the last month this new system of small paper calendar and huge Thunderbird calendar been wonderful.
I’m sorry to report that not many people are finding my blog lately. It’s to be expected as I haven’t been updating. The spammers like to spam a Christmas update post from 2009 which I find hysterical. There is nothing to comment on, it’s a status update of my sewing project for my sister-in-law. It has several hundred views a day and 3-5 spam comments which are usually caught my my filters. Looking at my stats tool shows that someone or multiple someones arrived here looking for information about wool. I understand that, I talk about spinning wool into yarn.
The next most popular searches that bring folks here are numbers. I’m scratching my head over that one. Why would you search the intarwebs (giggle) for the number 38, 42 I understand, but not 38 or 1 or 9 or 10 or 2. It’s beyond me. I got 9 visits from the number 2, am I on Sesame Street?
I am still giggling loudly about the poor soul who stopped by looking for pirate frocks. I can only think an non-native English speaker was hunting for pirate costumes or something. I did post on Talk Like a Pirate Day but it kills me that frocks is from “proefrocks” which is nothing like a frock in my experience.
My goal for Dec 2010 and following is to contribute one quality post a week so traffic should pick up a bit and we’ll have us a good laugh next Fall when we analyze the stats again. When I looked over the posts one this topic, I discovered that my stats program dumped things a while ago so I lost some of the funny words in my admin panel. Here’s a graphic for these search strings.
I was given the book “How to be an Explorer” by keri smith at the same time I received “Made from Scratch” and have been contemplating how to explore my world. Keri asks us to look around our world and begin a collection. She suggests that we can find things everywhere and while there is plenty of trash in the ditches around me, it’s mostly cigarette cartons and cups which I have no desire to touch. I’ve decided to start my collection today with a twist. I do not have a physical collection today, it is a graphical representation of all my posts from November of 2009.
The website, wordle, creates word clouds. You put either a list of words, a URL or a del icio us user name. It will use a java script and kick back a graphic word cloud that you can tweak by changing the number of words, colors, orientation of words, font and more. Here are mine from Nov. 2009 posts with 100, 200, 300, 350 and 400 words. I tried 500 but it was too many and the outliers were too difficult to read. My favorite is the one 300 words, but I didn’t force all the words back into line, so I’m featuring the 350. There are a few too many words in small type.
I’m not sure that it is an accurate depiction of my writings the rest of the year, but I’m going to think on it. I admit I love books and spinning. And I have to confess, I love containers and bags are a container of sorts.
I’ve had this blog since 2007 and one of my favorite topics to write about is this blog. I am fascinated by the versatility of WordPress. I admit that once my little guy arrived, a bit over a year ago, I stopped caring much about how many posts per month I wrote. At the minimum, I’ve written at least one every month because I don’t want to see months missing on my archive page. Back to blogging, once I found the Fantastic Flowery 1.2 theme, I stopped looking and changing behind the scenes of this blog. I’m in the process of setting up a second blog which I was forced to start at WP3.0.1. That in and of itself isn’t a problem, it’s just that I haven’t looked at how themes function, what plugins are available to download through WP instead of a separate download and an ftp/ssh up to my host. While I was dearly attached to each plugin I used, I’ve found that there are better options today. This list is basically a comparison of what I’m using on this site versus what I’m using on the new site. I’ll start installing new ones here and deleting old ones that seem to function better.
Plugins I’m using
Article Templates-default templates for posts/pages like my signature file
Exec-PHP let’s me easily pop code into posts and not break things
Fast Secure Contact Form
Feed Pauser-let’s me post live but not the feed
Smart 404-tries to redirect user if webpage is not available because of typo or other error
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin-I had to tweak this one a lot, so I’m on the lookout for something else
Plugins I’m trashing
Blix Archive-replaced 3 plugins with one new one
Compact Archive-replaced 3 plugins with one new one
Simple Yearly Archive-replaced 3 plugins with one new one
Batch Categories-no longer available?
Blog Copyright (by BTE)-I can tweak my copyright statement with the theme I chose
Dday-it was less than ideal
Now Reading-I can’t be bothered to keep up with it, I may still use it for craft books
Plugins I’m replacing
All in one Favicon-pops in favicon code, replaced Favicon Manager
Batch Cat-replaces Batch Categories, it lets me update categories for multiple posts
Smart Archives Reloaded-one replaces three without any tweaking. I had to tweak the others so much that I’m not sure how much they still resembled the original
The Events Calendar-replaced Dday
Plugins that are new idea for me
After the deadline-a spell check grammar check of sorts
Bulk Post Creator-one text box, each new post is on a new line, a lot of drafts started in once clikc
WordPress.com Stats-I used this before and I’m trying it again
Twitter-I have a bunch downloaded but not active, I need to update my twitter feed and see if I like any of these.
I would not have found any of the new plugins until the old ones stopped working or broke my theme. I think I’m going to put it on my calendar at least twice a year-check for new plugins. How do I know what I need if I don’t know I need it? Obviously if my plugin stops working, I need a different one, but what about one new archive plugin to replace three old ones? Would I have known to look for that? Did I know I wanted to create blog posts in bulk? I know now because I’ve already mapped out my topics for this month so that I stand a chance at actually completing NaBloPoMo.
What plugins do you use? What can’t you live without?
The first year I moved to Michigan was an election year for governor and many other offices. I moved in mid-June and spent the next several months scrambling for work and trying to feel settled. Election day crept up on me and I have never felt so clueless before or since about what choices to make. I had always prided myself on taking time to see who was running for what office and where the candidates stood on the issues that were important. I think I know who I voted for for governor, but it wasn’t because I knew where that candidate stood. The next time I headed to the polls, I did my research first. I used a search engine to find a site that would show me all the candidates running for all the offices as well as all the referendums listed on the ballot. I came from states where if we had referendum, we rarely used it in the years I was eligible to vote. This year I turned to my search engine of choice once again and found the Mlive Voter’s guide-all the issues, all the candidates, all over the state of MI. I selected my choices, sent myself the email and will print it off when I head to the polls on Tuesday. I have to say, I do love technology when it works. I even found a voter guide of sorts for NY and a few other states, though not as nice as the MI one. The NY one does not let you select the candidate and print off your selections at the end. You’d have to print it and then mark the candidate you want.