Tuesday 31 January 2006

Accidental Blogger Effect: Reverse Engineered

BACK IN JANUARY of last year, I wrote a post about what I call the Accidental Blogger Effect. Essentially, this is the phenomenon of writing a blog post and it becoming a central albeit unintentional focus of your site.

I’ve had this happen more than once to me. Topics I wrote about just because they caught my fancy such as racing frogs, the death test, and Vincent D’Onofrio have sparked little communities within my blog where a year after the post the commentary and activity continues!

What’s more, these accidentals end up giving me unusually high rankings at Google for things completely unrelated to my primary interests. Whenever I would see this type of activity, I’d either follow my referrer logs over to Google, or go to Google and search on the topic to see how this effect was affecting my rankings.

But this morning, sitting in my hotel room in Manchester, U.K., about to travel over to Limoges, France, I experienced the effect by doing a Google search on dialup service in Limoges (it’s unclear if my hotel has broadband). Imagine my shock when I saw these results:

google search with surprising results - my site ranked third on a completely unrelated search

Oh. My. God. Have we bloggers become so pervasive that this will happen on a regular basis? How bizarre!

Got a great Accidental Blogger Effect story? Do leave it here. And in a few hours, I’ll be in France, clutching my phrase book and seeking connectivity . . .

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 23:25 | Comments (32)

Sunday 29 January 2006

Ojai Video Diary: Day Six – Malarkey 01678201

WELL IT’S A WRAP! Fortunately, stunt double Murphy will survive, but as you can tell from my chat with him (QuickTime format 2.8MB; text transcript available ) at the Lynda.Com studios, he’s a bit worse for wear.

Not as bad as Malarkey, however, who is now paying for his bad boy behavior in a most unpleasant way.

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Posted by:   Molly | 22:44 | Comments (14)

Saturday 28 January 2006

Ojai Video Diary: Day Five – Murphy Takes a Dive

IN THE ONGOING DRAMA that has been my week here at Lynda.Com well, today has been the craziest. You might want to cycle on over to Malarkey’s to see exactly what happened to Murphy, then come back and check out what my day had in store.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 21:30 | Comments (8)

Friday 27 January 2006

Ojai Video Diary: Day Four – The Day After

YES THAT’S ME semi-passed out on the couch (QuickTime format, 2.1MB) after partying too hard on my birthday.

And please, please don’t believe one bit of the malarkey about me making Andy do the cleaning up.

His hoovering-sans-plug got so annoying, the staff here at Lynda.Com felt they had to lock him in the booth.

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Posted by:   Molly | 19:17 | Comments (17)

Thursday 26 January 2006

Ojai Video Diary: Day Three – Malarkey Cleans Up

DAY THREE PROVED TO BE A TURNING POINT in the Molly and Malarkey CSS for Designers DVD we’re working on here at Lynda.Com.

Find out exactly how Malarkey cleans up in my day three video diary (QuickTime format, 2MB) and be sure to check out Malarkey’s diary, too.

Captions in a bit, I’m being called to the studio. Thanks everyone for all the wonderful birthday wishes, your comments and emails absolutely made me a very happy girl.

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Posted by:   Molly | 09:57 | Comments (16)

Wednesday 25 January 2006


THIS IS NOT A COMMERCIAL INTERRUPTION, merely an intermission in the Ojai Video Diary sequence to say, no, I’m not answering the 4 questions meme I’ve been hit up with by countless friends just yet but to say:

It’s my 43rd birthday today.

Forty three years old.

How on earth is that even possible? I remember when 19 looked centuries away and I took adults seriously.

Today, it just seems really important to feel I’m loved in this crazy old world.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 01:44 | Comments (58)

Tuesday 24 January 2006

Ojai Video Diary: Day Two

I’M STILL HERE IN OJAI in southern California with Malarkey making a DVD of CSS for Designers for Lynda.Com. It’s day two of my Ojai video diary, and as you will see, things are not going well.

So here is my day two diary and be sure to check out Malarkey’s diary too.

Transcript (in the absence of captioning)

Well it’s the second day here at Lynda.Com and you know, I went into this so confident. You know, I’ve done this before, I’m a talker, how could this go badly for me? Well, I got in this morning and I started to do my recordings and it just went from bad to worse. And, as the morning went on I was fumbling more and more and I just couldn’t get anything right. So, I’m just very frustrated today and I just don’t know where all this leading. I really thought I had a grasp on this. I’m just very stressed.

[Molly picks up phone]: “Hi, yeah, Andy? Yeah. Yeah, could you go get me a cup of tea, please. With milk. And this time, no sugar. The last five cups . . . that was just way too sweet.”

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 20:05 | Comments (7)

Monday 23 January 2006

Ojai Video Diary: Day One

I’M HERE IN OJAI in southern California with Malarkey making a DVD of CSS for Designers for Lynda.Com. Malarkey and I thought that it might be in Hollywood tradition to each make a video diary of the experience. Each day, we’ll be posting our own video diary updates to our respective sites (QuickTime format apx. 3 MB).

So here is my day one diary and be sure to check out Malarkey’s diary, too!

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Posted by:   Molly | 20:37 | Comments (12)

Friday 20 January 2006

Computer Book Titles You’d Buy

BEING A BIT OF A BOOK VETERAN I’ve often pondered the importance and appeal of book titles.

Most of the time, authors have great title ideas. But publishers base much of their decision making on what the market will bear, so we end up with fascinating tites such as “Learn Yourself Some HTML in a Few Hours” and the like.

Give your creativity a try! Come up with titles for computer books you would buy, and possibly even read.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 17:02 | Comments (55)

Now This is Customer Service

MY BROTHER MORRIS RESTORES THINGS. Houses, furniture, appliances – you name it, if he finds something old and can restore it to its original beauty, form, and function, he does.

He was apparently trying to restore a percolator from Corningware Corporation, and despite having found several sources for the handle, electronics and what-not, he couldn’t restore it. So, he sent it, along with a letter, to the Corningware Corporation.

These days, one expects this sort of thing to at best be responded to with a short letter and possibly, a small product discount or gift for the trouble. At best. But Corningware Corporation has gone so far above and beyond the call of duty that Morris was inspired to share their letter with his friends, and now I with you as an example of true brand loyalty on both sides of the relationship.

“After analyzing the Corningware ™ electrical percolator and parts sent to our agency it has been determined that a usable percolator cannot be assembled from them. We regret that you have lost the use of your favorite kitchen appliance due to the fall onto your stone kitchen hearth as you detailed to us. Our warrantee does not extend to the replacement of implements so damaged but we want you to know that the Customer Satisfaction Division strives to retain your loyalty and is committed to providing superior service beyond the terms of the warrantee wherever possible.

We were startled by the flawless condition of the Corningware ™ coffee pot that your household recently procured from old stock in obscure shop on Cape Cod to replace the broken one; so much so that we put it on display in our locked lobby showcase when we were not actively working on it. We verified via the serial number that this item was 26 years old although it appears to never have been used. While ostensibly identical to your old one it unfortunately lacked its’ proprietary power plug set.

Your previous coffee pot was determined to have been 38 years old. In 1975 our company switched from the larger sized power orifice your old unit had to a smaller and safer opening. Your older cord cannot be used with the newer coffee pot. Our company no longer stocks either cord. None of the other power cords from the vast assortment of obsolete Corningware ™ cords you sent along could be used either. In the process of fastidious disassembly by our experts in attempt to resolve the problem by switching handle sets and despite every precaution being taken we regret to inform you that the handle on the newer coffee pot was unfortunately destroyed. As you may understand this is always a risk when attempting repairs on vintage appliances. The Corningware ™ workshop has, however itemized and stored every remaining usable part from both of your percolators for your personal future use.

Rest assured that our every intention to recreate the delightful privilege of perfect personal percolation via the modern convenience of electrical power in your kitchen remains undiminished. Though our original product specifications are no longer available; due to our corporation’s unfortunate bankruptcy during the past decade we are actively seeking out a replacement Corningware ™ coffee pot to perform rejuvenation on for you. After substantial reverse engineering on your vintage unit our experts have gained new knowledge of their mode of construction and various permutations. We can confidently determine whether any Corningware ™ coffee pot located in the future which is not complete with its’ own cord is mechanically compatible with the archived cords.

As always, even though our original company has been re-organized and we no longer produce the legendary Corningware ™ cookware that you are familiar with we continue to stand behind our products with a lifetime guarantee. We were impressed to learn that your family was one of our original customers, purchasing one of our earliest teapots in the mid 1950s, and that the teapot is still in use. This legendary product longevity of over half a century makes us proud, and may also help you, the consumer to comprehend why we went bankrupt.

We extend our apologies for the delay as we search for a suitable replacement. Please accept our gifts of the designer glass coffee press, the modern digitally controlled plastic electric drip method machine, the individual plastic cone filter for your favorite Corelle ™ mug and the familiar looking Cornflower Blue ™ pattern Corningware ™ stove top percolator, all of which we have provided for your service in the interim. Your patience and cooperation is most appreciated. We will strive towards the goal of satisfying you, our customer, until we succeed.”

The Corning Corporation Customer Satisfaction Division

Now that’s some customer service!

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 04:34 | Comments (69)

Wednesday 18 January 2006

Okay Computer: A look at our computers and how we use them

I’M SITTING HERE LOOKING AT THREE COMPUTERS and thinking about the computers we have and how we use them. With web designers and developers, the results are sure to be very vast and varied due to all the platforms we deal with regularly.

Here’s my stuff:

  • PowerBook G4 (12″) running OS X 10.3.9 – main travel computer, so for me, my day-to-day computer. I love it for the majority of tasks but doing any kind of screen intensive work is very difficult with the 12″.
  • Home-brewed Intel Pentium 1 Gig RAM running win2k – main office server, runs my network as well as serving as the primary storage for 32 Gig of music and thousands of photos (oh boy I need to back this one up).
  • Sony Intel Pentium notebook running winXP – had a great display which is why I used it but the screen is dying and I really only use it for testing.
  • There are about five other computers in various stages of use or disuse in my office here, including an original blueberry iMac (yum!)
  • Remote Web servers – I work on a variety of them, mostly all Linux of some sort with Perl, PHP, MySQL and a variety of open-source software related to web sites. I don’t work on any Microsoft servers currently.

What computers do you have and how do you use them?

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 05:56 | Comments (53)

Friday 13 January 2006

Three Great Love Songs

I feel we need a bit of music talk around I’m thinking about top three love songs. My choices today:

  • Northern Sky – Nick Drake
  • You Do Something to Me – Paul Weller
  • Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton

Somehow I’ve ended up choosing three sentimental tunes from soulful Brits. Go figure! I think the Clapton might be a weakish choice, with better contenders if I really had to give it more thought, but the song’s always held a certain sweet spot for me so there you have it.

Show me your love!

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 07:21 | Comments (269)

Wednesday 11 January 2006

JavaScript Accident at the Ajax Inn

REQUIRING ACCOMMODATION for Jeremy Keith’s Ajax Training on February 10th at the London Victoria Park Plaza Hotel, I logged on to the hotel’s web site. I was using an old browser, apparently, as you can see here.

site unusable caused by lack of support for safari

Okay, so. I’m trying to make a reservation at the hotel where a training on Ajax is being conducted and I can’t use the site to make said reservation at all, in this assumed-to-be-outdated browser.

What’s up with that?

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 17:59 | Comments (21)

Thursday 5 January 2006

WordPress 2.0 and Akismet

SO I INSTALLED WP2 and have been working with it for a week or so now. I have to be very honest, while it looks very very pretty coming out of the box, I really want to strip all the admin presentation down and get back to the lean, mean, admin machine WP was prior to the 2.0 release.

Typically not a fan of WYSIWYG editors (imagine that, dear readers!), I figured hey, let me give the new editor a go. While it’s decent, I don’t like it. And if I’m working in Mozilla, which I do on my Win2k server, the damn link popop crashes Moz every time. Crashes MOZ? That never happens.

I want my lean mean WP back.

What WP 2.0 has gained in interface appeal it’s lost in some practicality too. The drop-down menus in the editor are useful but I forget to open them up sometimes and have posted twice without properly categorizing my posts!

I think the most frustrating thing about WP 2.0 is that it is a lot slower than it used to be. I’m not sure if that’s the program itself or my settings, but tweaking WP settings isn’t something I have a lot of time for right now.

I will say this with whole-hearted approval and delight: Akismet is very, very, very good. As many readers know, I went through hell with my spam experiences and comment spam was by far one of the topmost reasons I went to WP. I was very happy for a while, but the spam problem kept getting worse. I was always able to stave it off to a certain point but it took extra time and effort. Akismet has made this last week a dream. It’s an excellent bit of work and I thank everyone who is working on it from the bottom of my poor spam-enticing site.

I’m not sure what next steps should be. I won’t leave WP, no way, not now. But short of spending a few hours remodifying, I’m almost ready to just reinstall the last stable version, which includes Akismet and has none of the overhead. Any advice for me?

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 07:48 | Comments (38)

Wednesday 4 January 2006

@media 2006 Announced

@MEDIA IS BAAAACK . . . The London event that rocked the U.K. and Europe last summer is on for June 15-16. And this time it’s bigger, with two tracks, and an all-star lineup of speakers.

Lots of familiar faces from across the pond will be there, including Dan “Simplebits” Cederholm, Tantek “Microformats” Çelik, Eric “Pope” Meyer, Dave “Zen” Shea and myself.

The U.K. and Europe lineup is simply awesome, with Andy “Clear Left” Budd, Andy “Malarkey” Clarke, Patrick “HTML Dog” Griffiths (with an “S”), John “Logo Man” Hicks, Roger “Berea Street” Johansson, Jeremy “Intertwingle” Keith – the list goes on and on and includes some folks who we don’t see speaking too much, such as Veerle “Duoh!” Pieters, Peter-Paul “Quirksmode” Koch, and Dean “My Server My Kitchen” Edwards.

The coolest part is that everyone is talking about very creative and diverse topics – check out the terrific content.

I wrote about the passion of last year’s @media. With this lineup, and the fact that last year’s @media was completely sold out, I highly encourage you to get registered. It’s going to be a great, informative, and inspirational event.

I’ll be looking forward to seeing you there!

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 09:25 | Comments (41)

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