June 30, 2007

Hats Made Out Of Meat? Yes, These Are True Meatheads

Just when think you've seen it all. Ah, but then something like this comes along. Meat hats. Yes, you read that correctly. Meat hats...as in hats made out of meat. Yes, hats. And yes, real meat. I swear, this world just gets stranger and stranger every day!

Hats of Meat - The Bologna Fedora

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June 27, 2007

Blogging - Atom, RSS, XML, What The?!

I was emailed this question recently, so I wanted to post the answer to it here just in case anyone else could benefit from it. The question went a little something like this:

As I'm trying to dive a little deeper into the blogging world, I'm coming across terms and language I have never heard before. Can anyone give me the 'dummy' version of what the difference is between Atom, RSS, your regular blog website, and feeds in general?

I know this is a VERY broad question, but the Google explanation is a bit over my head at this stage.

One specific question I have is which of these should I be submitting to the search engines? I've seen a few that specifically ask for the Atom or RSS URL, but most just ask for the general URL. Should that just be the page address?

The Answer...

Blogging technologies aren't always simple for blogging newbies to grasp right away . And hell, sometimes they're not all that easy on those who have a decent, measurable amount blogging experience. So don't worry!

Regarding your question about submitting to the search engines...If they ask for your URL, then just submit your URL (and yes, that is your web page address). If they ask for your Atom or RSS URL, then simply submit your web feed URL. If they ask for both...then for the love of Pete, run and hide!!! Just kidding. ;) Obviously, submit both.

What is a web feed - A web feed (or site feed) is a data format that's used for giving people frequently updated content from your site or blog. For example, here's my site feed. People can "subscribe" to your feed so that whenever you publish a new post on your blog they'll be alerted to the fact that you have some newly awesome, superbly exciting, immensely tantalizing content there for them to read! Hooray!

In the most simplest of forms, I like to think of a "feed" as something kind of like a newspaper or magazine subscription. Each time a new issue comes out, it's delivered directly to those who've subscribed to it. In essence, that's pretty much how feeds work as well.

What is Atom - Atom is a feature-rich syndication format or feed for your blog. When a site that is updated regularly (such as a blog) has a feed, people can subscribe to it using a newsreader. What's a newsreader? A newsreader is simply a type of software or web service that is used to read the syndicated content. It can also be referred to as a: feed reader, RSS reader, feed aggregator or search aggregator.

People enjoy using newsreaders for blogs because they allow them to catch up on all of their favorite blogs at once. It's kind of like checking email...but without all the nasty spam! :)

What is RSS - RSS is simply a family of web feed formats. The acronym stands for Really Simple Syndication ("simple" being the key, operative word here). RSS delivers its information as an XML file which is called an RSS feed, a web feed, an RSS stream or an RSS Channel. The acronym XML just stands for Extensible Markup Language. In other words, it's just a way to describe data.

Doing More With Your Feed

There are services like FeedBurner that improve upon this whole process. FeedBurner is the leading provider of media distribution for blogs and feeds. It helps bloggers and podcasters promote and profit from their content. If you're not already using FeedBurner then I suggest signing up for a free account right away.

In addition to FeedBurner, there's also FeedBlitz. FeedBlitz basically turns your site feed (RSS and Atom) into emails. It reads your blog's feed, then sends instant updates to your subscribers via email. Plus, it also allows you to monetize your subscribe page. Oh yeah!

Why FeedBlitz? The FeedBlitz service is excellent for your blog readers who don't use a feed reader, but would like to have your blog posts emailed to them instead. I've been using FeedBlitz for a while now and it's definitely a service I recommend.

June 23, 2007

Blogging Interview To Be Posted Soon!

Yesterday I was interviewed about being a blogger and I must say that it went pretty well. They asked some pretty interesting questions and we all seemed to enjoy the time it took for me to share some personal things about myself.

So this blog post is just a quick note to let you know that my blogging interview should be posted here soon. Basically, I'm just waiting for them to officially release the final transcript so I can share it with you.

But in the meantime, why don't you check out these fine blogs. I've been enjoying them lately and they're definitely worth a read.

Brown Thoughts - Analog Ideas In A Digital World
Listikal - Tech You Want, Tech You Need, Tech That Delivers
Tech Corner - The official weblog of Benedict Herold
Ordinary Folk - Music and an alien named Gummy
O'Flaherty - Paul O'Flaherty's technology blog

June 21, 2007

Will Ferrell On George Bush On Global Warming

For a little mid-week humor, here's a video that really had me laughing my ass off...especially the pop-up book part. Hysterical! It doesn't get much funnier than this. At least that's what I think.

Will Ferrell On George Bush On Global Warming

June 17, 2007

Mac vs. PC Parody - Mac Or PC Rap Video

I've come across one or two really funny Mac vs. PC parody videos in the past, but here's a good one that just hit the web on Monday. It's hysterical. Here are a few of the lyrics:

"I'm a right-clicka. I'm an iBook flippa. Macs and PCs - no fight gets bigga. Surf Safari or browse in I.E. Better know what you rep - a Mac or PC!"

So, are you a right-clicka? Or are you an iBook flippa? Whichever you are, enjoy the video. Oh, yeah...and word to your mother! ...And to your father too since today is Father's Day. :P

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June 15, 2007

Where Did John Chow Go?

Well, I just tried hitting John Chow's blog and this is all that's currently coming up on the page...

From what I know about WordPress, that means that there's an error in establishing a database connection - which either means that the username and password information in the wp-config.php file is incorrect (not at all likely!), or that WordPress simply can't contact the database server at localhost (very likely).

Translation: John Chow's server is either temporarily down or temporarily overloaded. John, are you still alive, my friend?

Update: John Chow is back online now. Hey, that rhymes. Sing it with me folks! John Chow...is back online now. John Chow...is back online now. La la la.

As it turns out, the whole mishap was apparently due to the WordPress plugin called Comment Relish, which crashed the MySQL database and totally maxed out the server load.

June 14, 2007

Five Awesome Firefox Extensions - Part I

Looking for a better way to blog or get things done online? Here are five awesome Firefox extensions that will definitely make your blogging life a whole lot easier. They'll save you a lot of time, they'll save you a lot of headaches, and they'll save you a lot of...well, just take a look and see!

Five Awesome Firefox Extensions
Part I

1. Split Browser - This Firefox extension is definitely my favorite Firefox add-on so far. The Split Browser extension lets you "split" the content area of your browser window any which way you like.

You can split content to the right, to the left, above and below. But the beauty of this is that it allows you to see more than just one web page at a time. So say goodbye to having to switch back and forth between tabs. Split Browser is the answer!

2. ScribeFire - ScribeFire is a fully-featured blog editor that integrates with your web browser and lets you easily post to your blog. With ScribeFire you can "drag-and-drop" formatted text from the web pages you're browsing, as well as take notes and post to your blog.

In addition, ScribeFire will allow you to easily create, edit and delete posts, along with creating drafts. You can also upload pictures and files via the built-in API or FTP if you wish. But the beauty of ScribeFire is that it remembers the text field...so you can close it out and resume writing your post later on.

3. Copy as HTML Link - This Firefox extension allows you to easily create HTML links for your posts. It creates an HTML link to the current page using the selected text, and then it copies it (into the clipboard) so you can past it into other applications. Use this Firefox extension along with the Copy Plain Text extension (featured below) to create links for your blog posts.

4. Copy Plain Text - I totally love this extension. It allows you to copy text from a website without bringing along that site's formatting (font size, links, etc.). No more having to copy the text, then paste it into notepad, and copy it all over again. With the Firefox Copy Plain Text extension you get exactly what you wanted in the first place - just the friggin' text!

Picnik - The Picnik Firefox extension lets you seamlessly capture (and edit) web page screenshots. In addition, Picnik allows you to grab screenshots with just one click! And whether you want a screenshot of just the visible web page, or of the entire web page itself, Picnik will do.

Picnik is also great for editing images, regardless of where they come from. You can edit any photo you like. It doesn't matter if it's from the web, from your computer, from your Flickr account, etc. And Picnik even lets you edit images without having to download anything to your computer. Definitely good stuff.

Do you have a favorite Firefox extension? Leave a comment and let everyone know! And if you enjoyed this post, you can Digg it here. :)

Update: Here's a greatly detailed review of Picnik from Benedict Herold of the Tech Corner blog. Thanks for letting me know Benedict!

New update: Five Awesome Firefox Extensions Part II is now up!

June 12, 2007

Will It Blend? - Tiki Torch

Well, it's summer time...and that means it's time to break out the tiki torches and fire up that BBQ grill. But what if your tiki torches are just a bit too big? Hmmm...got any ideas?

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June 10, 2007

Increasing Your Blog Readership With FeedBlitz

Did you know that you can increase your blog's readership by simply adding a way for your readers to get your blog posts via email? Yes, it's true. And FeedBlitz, which specializes in blog and RSS to email, is an excellent service that will help you achieve just that. In fact, it's so darn easy that my pet rock could even do it!

Well, that is, if he actually even wrote a blog. But that worthless bastard is so freakin' lazy that...

Well, never mind. Anyway...

In a nutshell, FeedBlitz can help you:

  • Boost your readership & reach the largest possible market
  • Give you some very valuable insights into your readership
Monetizing Your Subscription Page

In addition, FeedBlitz also allows you to monetize your personal FeedBlitz subscription page. Yes, you can actually add your own Google AdSense code to your FeedBlitz page. And this is, as Borat would say...Very nice!

For example, here's the Aaron Cook Dot Com™ FeedBlitz page. As you can see, FeedBlitz prominently places your AdSense ad unit at the very top of the page. And directly below that is where your readers will be able to subscribe so that they can get your updates as soon as they come out.

No Feed Reader, No Problem!

The FeedBlitz service is excellent for your readers who don't use a feed reader, but would like to have your blog posts emailed to them instead. And how it works is simple. As soon as you publish a new post on your blog, FeedBlitz automatically emails your subscribers to let them know that you've just posted to your blog.

Full Posts Or Just A Teaser?

You can also choose to have the email send out your full blog post, or just a portion of it (a teaser). If you opt to use a teaser you can choose how much of your blog post (the actual number of characters) will be displayed in the email.

Personally, I suggest using a teaser rather than the full blog post since the whole idea is obviously to get your subscribers back to your blog as often as possible.

I've been using FeedBlitz for a short while and it's worked very well so far. It's definitely an excellent way to keep your blog readers fully updated. And beyond that, it should also help you gain some valuable insights into your readership. And that's always a great thing.

How To Easily Add Subscription Buttons To Your Blog

Here's a question a reader emailed me this week regarding the addition of site feeds and site feed subscription buttons...

Can you tell me how to add a feed to my blog?

I've seen some blogs with subscribe buttons/banners with about 10 feeds on them, e.g., Yahoo!, Google, MSN, etc.

How do I get these buttons from Yahoo, etc., and then add them to my blog? Any ideas?


Those Site Feed Buttons

Good question. It's actually very simple. And you're not really "adding a feed" to your blog - your blog already has a site feed incorporated into it. You're simply adding the means by which your readers can "subscribe" to your site feed.

Those buttons (or feed icons as they're also called) that you see on peoples' blogs are just that - the buttons that allow people to subscribe to their site feeds. And since that's important, you'll notice a few here on Aaron Cook dot Com™ as well.

For example, right below my photo area, and to the left of my Contact Me link, you'll see my main FeedBurner feed icon (this icon is provided by FeedBurner). And slightly below that you'll see four other sexy, little buttons.

Three of those buttons are provided by AddThis (highly recommended) and the other one is provided by Google. These buttons will make it easy for people to bookmark your blog and to subscribe to your site feed through a variety of different sources.

Setting Up Subscription Buttons

So how do you set these up? Easy. To get subscription buttons for your blog's site feed, and to get your feed syndicated by FeedBurner like this, just go to FeedBurner.com and set up a free FeedBurner account.

FeedBurner will give you the HTML code for the buttons and all you do is simply copy and paste that code into your blog's template or layout wherever you want the buttons to appear.

And don't forget to check out AddThis as well. It's an excellent (and free) service and I definitely recommend using it with your blog.

June 8, 2007

FeedBurner & Google - Why Is It Good?

Ever since Google acquired FeedBurner (It's True-gle!) for the rumored price of around $100 million, the RSS management company has become a whole lot more interesting to a lot of people. And of most interest, of course, is the acquisition itself.

Why, there have been countless blog posts about it, and an endless myriad of comments following those blog posts. And all throughout, many people have questioned why Google would be so willing to pay such a vast amount of money for the Chicago-based startup.

Well, for starters, just take a look at FeedBurner's growth rate. According to Nielsen/NetRatings, FeedBurner is growing even faster than MySpace and Digg, with a traffic growth of around 385%. Now that's something to write home about!

And so are FeedBurner's other stats. I contacted my friend Traci at FeedBurner for the latest statistics and she shared with me that FeedBurner currently delivers - and get this - over 67 million feed subscriptions each day. Pretty darn impressive!

Latest FeedBurner Stats

Total feeds: 736,494
Number of publishers: 431,171
Number of podcast and videocast feeds: 112,998
Percent of FeedBurner employees using Macs: 39%, PCs: 58%, Other: 3%.

Traci also sent me the most recent growth charts covering all FeedBurner-managed feeds. These growth charts detail FeedBurner's massive, continual growth from way back in Q1 2004 all the way forward to Q1 2007. As you can see, the growth rate is quite impressive - especially in Q1 2007.

FeedBurner-Managed Feeds

Subscriptions To FeedBurner-Managed Feeds

But in addition to such stellar growth rates, Google's purchase of FeedBurner was smart simply because FeedBurner itself is a subscription service - and by owning FeedBurner, Google will be able to get a better handle on which blogs are legitimate blogs and which blogs are not (i.e., spam blogs).

But What About Us?

Of course, there's also the AdWords/AdSense angle. According to Google's official blog post six days ago:

"As you know, we're constantly looking for ways to identify and offer new tools for content creators and website publishers. Likewise, we constantly aim to give AdWords advertisers broader distribution to an even wider audience of users. For these reasons, we're very pleased to tell you that we've just acquired FeedBurner."

So, will we see AdWords/AdSense in FeedBurner feeds sometime soon? Well, as the saying goes...Only time will tell. But the technology for it is definitely there - and it's actually already been tested by Google. See, I did some digging for you recently, and according to an April 2005 post on the FeedBurner blog:

“Google has launched a trial program enabling AdSense in RSS, and FeedBurner has implemented support for this capability. Google is currently testing this program with just a few publishers, but as the program becomes more widely available, and your Google AdSense id is approved for use with RSS ads, FeedBurner will take care of the rest as part of our suite of services."

This RSS feed monetization would allow Google to compete with Text Link Ads, which already allows you to monetize your site feeds via their successful Text Link Ads Feedvertising program. And having AdSense in a site feed could certainly be welcomed news for many bloggers - especially those whose readers read mostly via the site feed.

For example, TechCrunch currently has over 432,000 feed subscribers - and only a small portion of them actually visit the TechCrunch site regularly. The ability to monetize a feed like this could be a potential goldmine for them. And at the very least, a fair bit of extra pocket change.

But in addition to such things as RSS feed monetization, Google's ownership of FeedBurner could also allow us to have just one single source for the metrics that give us feedback on the value of our content as well as its impact on our sites and businesses.

The combination of FeedBurner's feed metrics and Google's site and marketing analytics can give us a very comprehensive, 360-degree view of our audience. This type of in depth view is invaluable and can lead to previously undiscovered insights and opportunities.

And As FeedBurner States

"The measurement of awareness advertising is evolving from unique impressions to audience engagement. By providing our hundreds of thousands of publishers with Google's world-class advertising marketplace and metrics, we can provide far more value to publishers and begin to deliver this next step in ROI measurement to advertisers."

Bottom line: This feed is not cloudy, with no chance of showers late. :P

June 4, 2007

Bill Gates And Steve Jobs Talk About Their Relationship

Here's a great video of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs onstage together at D5, talking about the greatest misunderstandings about their relationship and what they've accomplished throughout history.

Here's another great video. This one is from BBC 2 and compares Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in an attempt to answer the question of which one is the world's most powerful person in computing.

By the way, it's about 39 minutes long, so sit back and grab yourself a cup of coffee and a snack or something! :)

VIDEO: The World's Most Powerful - Gates vs Jobs

AGLOCO Viewbar Ready For Download!

UPDATE (Dec. 10, 2007): It appears that AGLOCO will not be getting off the ground after all. No surprise there. They've been silent for more than a month and I think most everyone suspected there would be little, if any, good news. And now it's official; AGLOCO is in the deadpool.

Here's the email they just sent out:

"We would like to update you on the status of AGLOCO's operations. We continue to believe in the AGLOCO concept, but our revenue is currently not sufficient to give Members a meaningful distribution. And though there are increases in membership, the resulting revenue is not enough to support operating costs. As a development team we are unable to continue to use our savings to fund the operations. If any Member would like to pursue continuing the operations of AGLOCO, you may contact us at agloco1@live.com .
We would like to thank every Member for supporting our effort to bring a piece of the Internet directly to the user. We hope that we can find a way to keep the operations going.
AGLOCO Development Team"

Good news! The AGLOCO Viewbar has finally been released and it's ready for download right at this very moment. Yep, after some long and unexpected delays, the Viewbar is finally here. Here's the official notification:
We are pleased to report that your AGLOCO Viewbar has been released and is ready for you to download now. Since you signed up with AGLOCO, our community has continued to grow even larger, stronger, and more active. With the Viewbar software, we are excited for each Member of the AGLOCO community to begin earning their share of the wealth generated on the Internet.

Here is how to download and launch your Viewbar:

1. Go to the AGLOCO website at https://www.agloco.com/c/portal/login and login to get to your Member Account page. There is now a “Download the Viewbar” button on that page.
2. Simply click the Viewbar download button and follow the download directions. Please click “Run” when offered to Run, Save or Cancel.
3. You will need to enter your Account ID# (or email address) and your AGLOCO account password to activate your Viewbar.
4. After you download the Viewbar, you can launch it for first time by going to your Windows Start Menu and clicking on the AGLOCO Viewbar Icon.

If too many Members are downloading at the same time you may not be able to get immediate access to the Viewbar (a “timed-out” or “no access” page may appear). If this happens, please try again after a short while. If you have a Norton firewall you may be asked to allow access to “viewbar.exe” and “update.exe” (please check “Permit Access Always” for proper installation of the Viewbar).

The Viewbar is currently available for Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista and will work with IE (Internet Explorer) or Firefox browsers. When ads start to appear on your Viewbar, please be aware that the Viewbar ad targeting system will not be fully active at first (this will not impact your accumulation of AGLOCO hours).

If you encounter any problems during the download process, please send your questions to help@agloco.com so that we can assist you.

Dan Jorgensen
Member Coordinator

June 2, 2007

Keyboard Shortcuts For Copyright And Registered Trademark Symbols

Keyboard Shortcuts for Copyright and Registered Trademark Symbols...and More.

Since I've recently waged a successful battle against copyright infringement, I figured it'd be a good idea to post a few keyboard shortcuts for creating copyright and registered trademark symbols. You know, for you to use. ;)

These keyboard shortcuts, for both Windows and Mac users, will save you some very valuable time whenever you need to use these marks and symbols in order to help you protect YOUR works and property rights by showing YOUR ownership of your website content (or any other online content).

Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows and Mac:

Wondering how to make a copyright symbol, a trademark symbol, or a "registered" trademark symbol on your keyboard?

Well, it's easy! Simply use these special keyboard shortcuts and keyboard characters to make such things as the TM symbol (™), registered trademark symbol (®), copyright symbol (©) and others...

The Keyboard Shortcuts...

The keyboard shortcuts below are for Windows operating systems (Windows XP, etc.), as well as Mac operating systems (Mac OS X) .

Keyboard Shortcut to Create the Copyright Symbol ©
  • Windows - ALT + 0169 (hold down ALT key and type 0169 on numeric pad)
  • Mac - Option + g (Hold down Option key and press the g key)
Keyboard Shortcut to Create the Trademark Symbol
  • Windows - ALT + 0153
  • Mac - Option + 2
Keyboard Shortcut to Create the Registered Trademark Symbol ®
  • Windows - ALT + 0174
  • Mac - Option + r
Note: While it's legal to claim a "trademark" in order to uniquely identify the source of your goods and/or services and to protect your intellectual property, it is not legal to use the registered trademark symbol "®" unless that trademark is "officially registered" with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Keyboard Shortcut to Create the Heart Symbol
  • Windows - ALT + 3
  • Mac - Click Edit, then Special Characters. Find the heart symbol and click Insert.
-I get a lot of traffic from people searching on Google and Yahoo to find out how to create the heart symbol on their keyboards, so I updated this post to show how to do it...Because I ♥ my visitors! :P

Related Searches: 

Keyboard shortcuts for Registered Mark symbols Mac
Shortcut for TM on Mac
Special characters, legal, Windows TM on Mac keyboard
How do you make a TM symbol on your keyboard
Trademark logo on a Mac keyboard UK - euro symbol
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Trademark logo - keyboared - euro symbol
Registered trademark Mac keyboard

Top 5 Posts - May 2007

Last month I started doing a monthly Top Posts recap of the previous month's top posts. So here are the ones for May 2007 in case you missed any of them.

Spinal Tap Reunites For Live Earth Concert! - Marty DiBergi gets Nigel, David and Derek to reunite the fictitious heavy metal band Spinal Tap and agree to play at the Live Earth concert.

Earn Cash For Reviewing My Posts - Being paid for your opinion is good. Now you can make a cool $7.50 just for reviewing one of the posts here on Aaron Cook dot Com!

False Alarm! Apple iPhone Will Not Be Delayed - An email hoax causes Apple's stock to drop from $107.89 to $103.42 in just six minutes, which quickly wiped about $4 billion off of Apple's market capitalization.

New Transformers Trailer Yields Secret Password - See the latest production photos, the latest theatrical trailer, and get the secret password to the super-secret SectorSeven website.

Rich Jerk Not So rich After All? - Rich Jerk tries to avoid bankruptcy and attempts to sell his entiere business for $8 million.

Hurricane Season & The Tax-free Holiday Begins

Yesterday marked the first day of hurricane season here in Florida. The hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. It was also the first day that we had any rain here in a long time. Hooray! We're in a bad drought and need the rain very badly.

The drought has caused prime wildfire conditions and these conditions have led to roughly 1,300 wildfires that have burned more than 75,000 acres around the state of Florida from January through March. Some of the Florida highways have even been shut down at times due to all the smoke and ash.

As for the cool liquid, it rained from about mid-afternoon yesterday all the way through until around noon today - and we should get more this weekend (fingers crossed). Heh, it's actually the first time in weeks that my car has been clean! It's either been covered in dust from all the dryness or in ash from all the wildfires.

Florida's Tax-free Holiday

If you're one of my awesome readers from Florida, then don't forget that you can save money on the things you'll need for this hurricane season! Yesterday also marked the start of a 12-day hurricane preparation sales-tax holiday. Yep, no sales taxes! This tax-free holiday allows you to save money on common hurricane supplies like:

  • Portable radios, two-way radios and weather-band radios. One notable change this year is that now you can spend up to $75 - as opposed to last year's $50 - on portable radios.
  • Flashlights & other portable, self-powered light sources costing $20 or less.
  • Batteries costing $30 or less (AAA, AA, C and D cell, and 6 and 9 volt batteries).
  • Gas or diesel fuel containers costing $25 or less.
  • Tarps costing $50 or less.
  • Storm shutter devices costing $200 or less.
  • Non-electrical food storage coolers costing $30 or less.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors costing $75 or less.
  • Portable generators costing $1000 or less.
So don't delay! This tax-free holiday only lasts until June 12.