Split Browser: Firefox Add-on

Split Browser Have you ever found yourself browsing with Firefox, only to find that you have WAY too many tabs open? I found an extension to relieve the tabbed thought processes a bit.

Split Browser does just what it says – it lets you split the browser window in to several panes. A right-left pane works really well on widescreen monitors, but you can also do top-bottom splits and even split the splits (say that five times fast).

In my screenshot example, I have several Digg stories open in tabs on the left, and when a story sounds interesting, I drag the link to the right pane. That way, my Digg tabs stay organized and I don’t lose focus while reading an article.

Combined blogs

Jenny and I are trying an experiment – combining our blogs. I imported as much as I could from her Xanga site. We’ll probably also be working on a new theme that fits the new site name – Philip and Jenny Cain: InspiredMumblings. (Hopefully it means I’ll stop ranting about politics)

Everyone should benefit – my friends will see a lot more photoblogging, and Jenny’s friends will be enlightened to the inner workings of Linux.

Also, since Jenny had a “Currently Listening/Reading/Watching” option in Xanga, I’m in the process of re-writing a plugin to have a similar function. For now:

I Am the Fun Blame Monster! Currently Listening
I Am the Fun Blame Monster!
By Menomena

Where are the left-handed microwave ovens?

We’ve moved our microwave oven into a little corner in the kitchen recently. It makes it a little difficult to open the left-hinged door. So, I’ve been searching the Internet for alternative microwave ovens with either reversible doors (like our fridge) or a left-handed door with a right hinge.

So far, nothing. Do they not exist? One expert site asked that question, and the majority response was that 100% of microwave ovens have left-hinged doors. I feel bad for all you Southpaws (I know quite a few).

In my quest, I did discover some interesting (if not useless) microwave oven facts:

  • Electromagnetic microwaves cannot produce the “Maillard reaction” (a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars) in food, which is what browns toast and caramelizes milk and honey. That is why your microwaved food tastes so bland and has a “steamed” appearance.
  • New microwave ovens are being manufactured with high-powered halogen heat lamps to create that Maillard reaction with infared energy while the microwave energy cooks the food.
  • Microwave ovens generate radio waves at 2.45Ghz, which is annoyingly close to the 2.4Ghz block of frequencies set aside for 802.11b/g WiFi. Also, some cordless phones operate on this frequency.
  • Spoons are safe to microwave, however, forks are not. This is because the tines of the fork cause an electrical concentration which results in sparks. From experience, I know that the pointy edges of ketchup packages are affected by this property.
  • Along with metal, some foods can produce electrical arcing, such as grapes. See the video below.

[youtube width=”400″ height=”300″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCNNqgKqnaQ[/youtube]


wordpress-logo-cristal.jpgI recently discovered a new addition to the WordPress family: WordPressMU (multi-user). It is basically a single installation of WordPress, modified to allow multiple blogs per user and multiple users per blog. Translation: it is a near-perfect content management system for businesses and organizations who want a CMS instead of paying a proper webmaster.

I’ll be installing it on a Pantano Christian Church testing server to see if it does all we need it to do. I may have also convinced the Priority folks to do the same.

Digg Detection and New Theme Coming

I’ve already implemented Digg detection on blog posts. If you’ve been living under the anti-Internet rock, you may not be aware of Digg. Digg is a social news/bookmarking site, where users submit articles, blogposts and sometimes random pages. Then all the other users “digg” or “bury” that article. Somehow, using a bit of social Web 2.0 magic, the best articles usually end up on top.

Now, when you submit a post of mine to Digg, my site will automatically detect that and add a “Digg this!” button to help the process along. It also shows a count of how many diggs it has already. Cool! Many thanks to the “Digg This” plugin author, Aviron Mordo.

Also, I’m keeping an artistic eye out for ideas for a new overall theme for my entire site. It’s finally time to put that CSS Zen I’ve learned to good work. Besides that, the theme I picked a good long while ago, Almost Spring, is now being used everywhere because it is a WordPress featured theme. Doh!

(aside: I LOVE the Firefox 2.0 spellcheck feature. I’ts giong to svae my lfie. Just kidding, I’m not that bad. But it is useful!)

Lifehacking: Organizing Your Life

I recently stumbled upon several blogs that are devoted to a single topic – organizing your life. The buzzword for this in the blogosphere is “lifehacking.” It originated as a programmers’ term, but has recently broadened its scope to include all sorts of productivity areas.

Technology is supposed to make our lives more productive. But there are several problems that continue to elude the masses:

  • Software applications have a learning curve, and most interfaces aren’t intuitive or discoverable enough for the average user.
  • Web applications and sites suffer from this same usability issue.
  • Our lives are encompassed by massive amounts of data (both digital, paper and other). Working with data requires creating workflows, and modern technology sometimes convolves the workflow process.

The following blogs have numerous tips, tricks, hints and software downloads to make our lives more productive. These are mainly useful for people who use technology (especially the Internet) every day and want to organize their data and create productive workflows. That pretty much applies to everyone I know (a few luddites excepting).

Lifehack.org (feed)
Lifehacker.com (feed)
43folders.com (feed)

A few posts I’ve discovered through these services that are uber-useful:
7 tips of handling your Emails without feeling overwhelmed
Merlin’s top 5 super-obvious, “no-duh” ways to immediately improve your life
RSS tips (2) How not to go mad

And of course, a general tip I always recommend is to go grab a copy of Mozilla Firefox. Learn how to use the tab feature (I also understand that Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 is about to be released to the masses, and finally has tabbed browsing, but I can’t very well recommend the insecure Internet Explorer, now can I?). Can’t install it on your work computer? No problem – just use Mozilla Firefox – Portable Edition. No installation necessary.

Since I’m a designer and I have special interest in user interfaces, the lifehack topic comes naturally to me. So, I’m going to start posting more lifehacking productivity tips (most especially relating to Google and other web applications). It really fits with the tagline I set for this blog when I started it – “Where technology and real life can meet and be friendly.”

A note to my regular readers: if you subscribe to my RSS feed, please consider re-subscribing using the new FeedBurner feed. It will help me keep track of feed statistics. Thanks!

Google Has Acquired YouTube

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a special information update – Google just BOUGHT OUT YouTube for $1.65 billion. This is Google’s largest acquisition, and one of the largest Web 2.0 acquistions to date. Buy your Google stock now if you hadn’t already!!

YouTube is the most popular Internet video site, with more than 100 million videos watched a day, and Google’s own Google Video couldn’t even compete with that. Now it is assumed that YouTube and Google Video will merge content and features. This is BIG news, folks!

Update: That’s $1.65 billion IN STOCK, in other words, Google traded about 1.25% of its own shares for  100% of YouTube shares. And because such a massive deal is likely to make Google’s stock go up in value, they didn’t really even pay anything for the acquisition. Amazing!

Google Reader

Google Reader

I know I’ve already mentioned this in a few emails to certain people, but the word really needs to get out – the new Google Reader is awesome! I’ve been using Bloglines since 2004, patiently waiting for Google to release an RSS feed aggregator. When they finally did, the result was horrid. The first incarnation of Google Reader was difficult to use, as it utilized the coma-inducing river-of-news reading style.

(For questioning minds – What is an RSS feed?)

Long story short, I have continued to use Bloglines, patiently and faithfully awaiting the day when the Google Reader Team would wake up and smell the fresh feed juju. On Sept. 28, they finally did! And I finally switched from Bloglines to Google Reader. Now reading through my subscriptions list is similar in function (and as easy as) reading through Gmail (which functions as my email aggregator). If you feel out of touch or disconnected with the ever-increasing, ever-growing Internet (and its blogosphere), use your Google Account and sign in to Google Reader. Then start reading!

If you’re reading this on my site (and not in a reader), you’ll see a blogroll containing blogs of some interesting people. Here are some other sites I read daily (copy and paste feed URL into the “Add Subscription” box in Google Reader):

Tech News
Engadget – http://www.engadget.com/rss.xml
KDE Dot News – http://www.kde.org/dotkdeorg.rdf
NewsForge – http://www.newsforge.com/index.rss
Slashdot – http://rss.slashdot.org/Slashdot/slashdot
Wired News – http://www.wired.com/news_drop/netcenter/netcenter.rdf

Tech Blogs
Google Blog – http://googleblog.blogspot.com/atom.xml
Lifehacker – http://www.lifehacker.com/index.xml
Planet GNOME – http://planet.gnome.org/atom.xml
Planet Ubuntu – http://planet.ubuntulinux.org/rss20.xml
TechCrunch – http://feeds.feedburner.com/TechCrunch

Boing Boing – http://boingboing.net/rss.xml
Pantano E-News (Pastors’ Blog) – http://www.pantanochristian.org/enews/rss.xml
PCC Creative Arts Blog – http://www.theworshipspotatpcc.org/TheWorshipSpotAtPCC.org/Blog/rss.xml

Arizona Daily Star – http://rss.azstarnet.com/index.php?site=metro

And don’t forget, this blog will always have an RSS feed – http://www.philipandjenny.com/feed

Randy Garsee: The Decapitated Talking Head

Randy Garsee, the top news anchor in Southern Arizona, was apparently fired on Tuesday. Rumor has it that he sent an email critical of KOLD-13 management. I tend to prefer Guy Atchley and KGUN-9, when I actually watch the news, but I feel like Randy Garsee (and Kris Pickle, who left a few months ago) is (or was) the face of Tucson news.

There are two very good things that come out of this situation:

1. Reporters should, by nature, challenge everything. Including authority. If KOLD management doesn’t understand that, then I’m not interested in watching their (boring, censored, totalitarian) newscast. Randy Garsee is now a reporter/anchor who I can cautiously trust. He challenges his authority at work, so maybe he is inclined to challenge any authority of wrongdoing…

2. Randy Garsee is a blogger. Blogs may not still be around in 20 years, but they will have evolved into some form of mass Internet communication that also replaced the need for traditional news sources. I expect to see more freelance reporting through the blog medium in the near future.

Check out his blog – http://randygarsee.blogspot.com/

Avast! Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Arrrrr! Today be an imp’rtant fer scallywags n’ pirates… today be the International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Me question fer you is – be ya a Cap’n Jack pirate, a Barbosa pirate, or a Davy Jones?

Ya see, matey, arrrrr! Thar be diff’rent ways’a talkin’ like a bonafied pirate. Thar be awful pirates, like Tim Curry (as Long John) n’ Dustin Hoffman (as Hook). Avast! Me favorite pirate be Clueless Morgan (“Um… this is for you!”), who weren’t really a pirate at all.

Be off with ya, n’ start talkin’! Hoist the mainsals n’ scrub the poop deck! Set sail ‘to Davy Jones’ locker, also known as “The Big Blue Wet Thing.” Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!