Sunday, December 11, 2011

Web Link Captor: A great new research tool and time saver

wlc7 Web Link Captor will be a real time saver for any blogger or curator of information that has a large list they need to link to other sites.

It was inspired by my father's Desert Island Jazz Collection...about 700 tracks of what my dad feels is the all-time best of the best that jazz has to offer. Many people have asked him to publish this list on his blog, but the amount of work involved to look up every album and link it to Amazon, with an affiliate ID, is just too much work for him to consider doing.

With Web Link Captor, a task like this will be much faster and easier, with automatic formatting of the output in HTML, bbCode, or Wikipedia markdown, depending on where you want to paste the results.

But it doesn't just link to Amazon. It can link to Wikipedia and a host of other sites. You have full control over everything and can fine tune it to be exactly what you want.

Watch the video and see it in action:

 

 

So, if you have any enormous lists of value that you have hesitated publishing on the web because of the amount of work it would take to manually link each item somewhere that would enhance the list and make it much more interesting and useful, give Web Link Captor a shot.

It won't be officially released until January 1, 2012, but you can request an early fully functional beta version on the forum.

 

Web Link Captor was created by Jesse Reichler (aka mouser) for DonationCoder.com's New Apps for the New Year (NANY 2012) software celebration. Every year the community at DonationCoder holds an event where developers pledge to release a new freeware/donationware application by Jan 1. Most applications are pre-released to give the community time to test and offer feedback, and give the developers a chance to fix bugs, add requested features, and apply some final polishing before the official event date.

Whether you are a developer or just love software, you can be a part of this great community, too. And if you spot a DonationCoder application that you really like, we encourage you to support its development in any way that you can, through donations, testing, feedback, spreading the word, etc.

Friday, November 04, 2011

How to make people want to stop forwarding all those "funny" emails

email_send I used to have a bunch of friends that would forward me emails almost every day containing jokes and other crap. You know the stuff I am talking about. You have probably received a ton of it yourself over the years and know at least one person that is a compulsive forwarder of such crap. I say "used to" because they no longer send me this stuff. They don't want to. They now want to selfishly deprive me (and their other friends) of it, at least in the form of emails.

I have a reputation of building websites and blogs for little or no reason other than to temporarily amuse myself. My friends know this about me.

One day I decided to set up a blog to post all those "funny" emails that friends were sending to me, and then sent each of them a link to it, explaining that I was not going to forward the stuff they were sending to me.

I told them my intention was to make money off it by slapping ads on the blog. I then asked them to double the amount of "funny" emails they were forwarding to me if they could, because I needed more content for my new site. Most of them complied with my request and temporarily increased the number they sent out.

When they started decreasing them, I sent out emails to the slackers and politely informed them that they needed to work harder to amuse me. I started making requests for specific types of forwards. I included links to items on Amazon.com for stuff I wanted, explaining the ad revenues from my site were being put towards obtaining them. I even warned them when they sent me doubles, explaining that they needed to check my blog and send out only new material that was yet unpublished.

I sent out occasional Thank You emails with photos of myself with some "new item" I had just acquired, supposedly paid for with ad revenue earned from their "funny" emails, and encouraging them to keep up the great work. (I actually made very little from the blog, less than $1/month)

Today I receive very few of these email forwards. :-D

What I essentially did was take what some people view to be a fun activity that annoys their friends and turn it into a boring repetitive task in which they receive no pleasure from, view as work, and I receive profit when they do it.

In other words, I exploited them and let them know about it. I took the fun right out of it.

My actions made them think about what they were doing and some even decided the best use of their time would be to set up similar blogs (that nobody reads) instead of forwarding this crap to others. I exploited their selfish nature by making them think I was benefitting from their actions more than they were.

It was a brilliant bit of reverse psychology.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Free Art Download: Like Us (CC-BY)

like-us-sample

(shown actual size)
What you get: This image with a transparent background in both PNG and PSP vector formats.

Font used is Cooper Black which you will need to open the PSP vector file.

Released under a Creative Commons Attribution license suitable for both commercial and non-commercial use.

This item has been moved to my art site.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What Republicans Do Not Want You To Know About Poverty and Taxes

skinny piggy

 

The poverty line in 2010 for a family of four was $22,314.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets the minimum wage at $7.25 per hour, is one of the most violated of all the federal labor laws.

About 15% of all wage earners in the US are earning at or below the minimum wage.

The average full time minimum wage worker earned about $15,000. ($7.25 per hour x 40 hours x 52 weeks = $15,080)

She paid at least 20% of her income in taxes.

Even though it might be true that she had no federal income tax liability, she still had other taxes to pay.

Payroll taxes such as

  • Social Security
  • Medicare
  • Disability
  • Unemployment
  • State income tax
  • sometimes local income tax

She also had additional taxes such as

  • sales tax
  • excise tax on fuel
  • USF surcharges on
    • telephone service
    • natural gas
    • electricity
  • property taxes, even if she rents (it would be hidden in the cost of her rent)

Additionally, she pays for her healthcare out of her pocket because minimum wage jobs do not come with healthcare benefits.  She pays a higher price for a doctor's office visit than the insurance companies do. ($75 self pay vs. $35 paid by insurance) If she ever needs to go to the hospital, it could easily cost her over $4500*, even more if she has to be admitted.

She also does not get retirement benefits and is looking at a reduction in her income down to about $600 per month when she is too old to work and begins collecting Social Security, and will be expected to pay a portion of that to receive Medicare benefits. And that is only if there is still a Social Security system by the time she is old enough to collect.

A typical minimum wage worker is not a teenager from a middle-class family flipping burgers for some extra pocket cash to buy CDs, movie tickets, lipstick, nail polish, and video games.

Most minimum wage workers are women, standing on their feet all day working various jobs within the service industry. They are some of the hardest working people in this country.

Many are single mothers with more than one child, and many of those are receiving little or no child support to help offset the costs of raising those children. They also have the additional costs of child care, if they have no family support system capable of providing free care so that they can work.

 

And Republicans think they make too much money and need to have their wages cut, by either reducing or eliminating the minimum wage. They also want to cut or eliminate the social programs that help them to survive. They actually think this will help the poor and lift them out of poverty.

 

* I do not have medical insurance. I pay out of my pocket for all of my medical care. Back in 2006 I passed out in my kitchen, which resulted in a head injury requiring 8 staples to close the wound. I was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital, which resulted in a bill that was just over $3000. This did not include the additional charges for physicians fee, lab work, or the MRI. Those were billed separately and were an additional $1500. My town is one of the small number in this area that provides a free ambulance service to its residents, but if they didn't, the ride would have been an additional $300.

If you don't pay these bills, the hospital may sue you, which could result in garnishment of your wages, which has the potential of knocking a minimum wage worker's pay down to about $150/week until the debt is paid off (with interest, court costs, and lawyers fees). There is also the very real possibility that instead of or in addition to garnishment, the court may seize your bank account (woe to you if you just made a deposit to pay your rent) and/or the local Sherriff may come in, seize and sell off the contents of your home, leaving you with no more than $1000 in personal assets and possessions.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Google Accounts Are Restricted to People Age 18+

Google-Plus-ImageIt seems a lot of parents are very upset about their children under age 13 having their Google accounts deleted. They seem to think that since Google didn't explicitly ask for an age at the time the account was created, that their young children could have one. It wasn't until Google Plus was launched that they learned differently.

Children are having their Google accounts deleted, Picasa photos, emails to Grandma, school work in Google Docs, and all, for violating the age restriction, when they enter their age when joining the Google Plus social networking service.

The Google Terms of Service clearly states in Section 2.3

2.3    You may not use the Services and may not accept the Terms if (a) you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google, or (b) you are a person barred from receiving the Services under the laws of the United States or other countries including the country in which you are resident or from which you use the Services.

While most websites have a clause in their contract barring use by those under 13 years of age (there is a law restricting that), Google has chosen to word their Terms of Service in such a way that it bars any US resident under the age of 18, because minors under 18 can not legally form a binding contract with anyone.

Let this be a warning not only for those under age 13, but for those age 13-17, as well. Google may delete your account and everything in it, if they find out that you lied about your age by agreeing to their Terms of Service. If you are under 18 and have a Google account, yes, you did lie to get it.

Always read the Terms of Service. If you don't, it could come back to bite you later.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

You'd be amazed at the things you can fix with a toaster oven...

This is a guest post by a friend of mine that wishes to remain anonymous. His only desire is that this information is shared with the public and that more people can put it to use.


toaster-oven I just baked BlackBerry Cobbler (a BB 9630). It came out perfect.

The phone took a dive into a sink full of water while its owner was doing dishes, and went unnoticed until the sink was drained. It was deader than a door nail when I received it.

I took it apart, rinsed it as clean as I could with tap water, and then with 97% rubbing alcohol. I let that evaporate and then placed the printed circuit boards in the toaster oven, on top of strategically-placed screwdriver bits so-as to space the board off the aluminum foil lining the oven tray. Then I set the oven for 180 F for about 20 minutes. I did not toast the battery in the oven for safety reasons.

Just a tip.

Also I have baked laptop wifi and video cards, desktop pci cards, laptop motherboards, desktop motherboards and xbox consoles with the red ring of death (the larger items in a full size oven). Quite literally, if it's toasted anyhow, what does one have to lose other than 20 minutes? Sometimes items need their solder to be reflown, and this wet-phone-drying/toaster oven reflow soldering method honestly has saved both myself and those around me a ton of cash. Reflowing solder should be done at 230 F or so for about 20 minutes.

Plastic bits on the board? Plugs? Wires? No worries! Heck, part of the BlackBerry cobbler I baked tonight (the 9630, that is) was more than 60% plastic, and I didn't even bother removing the camera before baking it. I kept the temp about 180 F since a solder reflow was not required, but if a reflow might benefit the item I do not hesitate to turn it up to 230 F.

Never leave the oven unattended, not even for a moment, just in case plastic bits start to disfigure - but they shouldn't, as plastic typically melts at a higher temperature point than solder.

Don't bake the outer shell of the phone though - bare boards only.

Never bake a battery unless it is soldered onto the board, in which case go for a higher blast of heat for a shorter period (say, broil for 7 minutes).

Next time your phone hits the sink (one of my older BlackBerry phones took a 20 minute trip into the clothes washing machine) or your laptop video or wifi card dies (these are prone to overheating due to poor cooling, sometimes they can flex some, breaking solder joints in the process, and can benefit from a reflow), etc, pop the circuit board into the oven for a little bit. What's the worst that can happen? I've fixed newer HP laser printers I was literally given because they didn't work, simply by reflowing their main boards. $75 a pop at yard sales is a nice profit for me simply having put my toaster oven to work.

When you're done, do not budge the toaster oven until it has been off for at least 20 minutes. It would suck major donkey scholng to bump a board with molten solder and have an IC with a 500+ solder ball grid array slide just enough to short circuit things even worse than they were, when some patience to let the boards cool down adequately could have had the item fixed.

In this day and age, when things seem so disposable and inexpensive, so much waste gets created and is disposed of. It's a shame if that little toaster goes under-utilized and our broken disposable electronics aren't even considered for repair.

It should be noted I do not cook, thus my toaster oven is solely dedicated to the task of baking printed circuit boards. Tin and lead vapors/molecules in or on my food doesn't appeal much to me. Then again I prefer fast food, so...

Give it a baking in the toaster oven before you toss it, you may be pleasantly surprised at how perfect things come out. And you'll learn how stuff is assembled and disassembled in the process!

 


And for those of you that would like to use this information but need an inexpensive toaster oven, I found this one for you on Amazon:

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Two Best April Fool's Pranks

One I did to someone else, the other was done to me...

1592692-org One year, many years ago, the start of Daylight Savings Time began on April 1st. Before going to bed, my husband and I went through the house changing all the clocks. I waited for him to fall asleep and I pushed them all ahead an extra hour. He woke up that Sunday morning and rushed off to work, without ever realizing what I had done till he arrived at work and went to change the big clock on the wall.

Now what made this one of the best pranks ever is how for 3 days of every year, whenever Daylight Savings Time begins or ends, and on April 1, my husband goes into a time panic, thinking I am going to prank him like that again. He becomes such a wreck and I just laugh. I never have to prank him again. That one time was good enough to affect him for the rest of his life.

12967-org Now the one that got me wasn't really a prank at all. When I was back in high school, I received a phone call very early in the morning on April 1, from someone that was trying to tell me that school was canceled because of snow. Even though I was half asleep, I was quite aware of the date, and wished her a Happy April Fool's Day before I hung up. I ended up getting ready for school and going downstairs to leave, opening the front door to a vision of about 2 feet of snow. Yeah, the joke was on me, that phone call was for real.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Creepy Service Wants Everyone That Can See Your License Plate to Be Able to Send You Unsolicited Text Messages

Bump.com hopes that this video entices you to sign up for their service, tying your cell phone number to your vehicle's license plate. Please don't be stupid enough to fall for it.

 

 

First of all, if you see a baby left alone in a car, you should call the police...not send a text message to the parent guilty of child neglect that is putting that baby's life in danger.

And sending a text to the jerk in front of you to give him a piece of your mind for his bad driving is a really BAD idea. It just encourages road rage, which can have deadly consequences.

Reporting a break-in in progress to the owner of a vehicle instead of snapping a photo of the criminal & calling the police, can result in the possible injury or death of the owner of that vehicle if they should come running out and confront the criminal. You do not know if they are armed and dangerous.

And marketing? That's not marketing...that's spamming. It won't take long before you decide to change your phone number and/or plates, if this crap becomes popular. You'll have to, to get any kind of peace. It won't take very long for someone to start collecting license plate numbers and selling them to the highest bidder. The potential for abuse here is seriously high...worse than email because a license plate number is a whole lot easier to get than an email address.

If you want everyone in the world to be able to send you any kind of message they please, whenever they want, including some of the most vulgar filth imaginable, then just put your cell phone number on a bumper sticker and/or wear it on a T-shirt...or perhaps write it on the wall of a public bathroom. (no, I don't think you'd really want to do that, but using BUMP is just about the same thing.)

Finally, as Gail Gardner from Growmap pointed out, this service conditions people to spy on their neighbors and complete strangers, eroding both our privacy and freedom.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A Recipe for Profit

Screenshot - 1_8_2011 , 10_39_31 PM What Exactly is a Business Model?

The short and simple answer is that a business model is a recipe.

Just like a recipe for anything else, it's a list of ingredients and detailed step by step instructions on how to go from ingredients to final results.

If it were a recipe for lasagna, it would be a list of everything that goes into the lasagna (noodles, cheese, sauce, etc.) and step by step instructions on how to turn those ingredients into lasagna. It doesn't leave anything out or leave you guessing about what or how much you need. It's well planned out. You'll know what you need to acquire before you start, what equipment is necessary, and a general idea of how long it will take and how much it will make. If you follow it to the letter, you will make a lasagna.

In the case of a business model, it's all those things you need and how to combine them into the result, which is profit.

Now, how do you determine what ingredients and equipment you need and how to turn them step-by-step into profit? Vivek Wadhwa wrote a great article that will give you a lot to think about as you decide that for yourself and formulate your own profit recipe for your business.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Free Art Download: Bat (CC-BY)

bat-example
What you get:

  • This image in PNG format.
  • An additional image without the background (transparent) in both PSP vector and PNG formats.
Released under a Creative Commons Attribution license suitable for both commercial and non-commercial use.

This item has been moved to my art site.

Chop These Up and Have Some Fun (CC-BY)

Here are a bunch of desktop wallpapers that I made way back when I thought 800x600 was the standard. Since desktop resolutions are much higher today, they really aren't suitable for that purpose any more.

I have decided to re-release them under a Creative Commons Attribution license, and let everyone have some fun chopping them up and turning them into new art. Just give credit by linking back here, anywhere that you display them or works created with them.

Click thumbnails for full size images.

 

a-brick_wall a-bubbleangels

a-colored_glass a-eclipse

a-first_mountain a-red

a-second_mountain a-solunar_eclipse

a-space_thing a-winter_oak4

cc88x31