Clan Dragonas

I would have announced this sooner, but Sarah beat me to the punch, so I thought I’d wait until the website was done.  For the past few months I have been lucky enough to play flugelhorn, and most recently sing backup vocals, with the awesome Clan Dragonas!  To paraphrase the About page, “Clan Dragonas embodies Rock music as it was originally envisioned: an emotive and spontaneous performance art. . . . a Dragonas show will leave you spellbound.”

Speaking of the About page, I just finished putting together our website, so I hope you enjoy it.

Our first official concert is just a few days away on June 2nd at 8pm in Skinny’s Lounge.  We hope to see you there!

Private Consulting

I don’t know why I didn’t think about announcing this before, but I am currently available for hire as a private consultant on WordPress, web management, and Mac OS X.

I have been an avid WordPress user for over five years, the manager of three WordPress blogs, and a frequent WordPress Support Forum volunteer.  Over the years, I have mastered several web management tools and techniques that exceed those of simply WordPress.  I have been a Mac user for over twenty years and consider myself very knowledgeable in the operating system and a variety of applications.  The scope of what I can cover is quite broad, but as a general rule, I will never charge for a job that I can’t handle.

Please contact me for more details.

Update: I am not accepting clients at this time.  For WordPress support, please contact the WordPress Support Forums.  For Mac OS X support, please contact the Apple Support Forums.

Easily Convert Database Character Sets

If you began using WordPress prior to version 2.2, you may notice that your database has tables with two different character sets and collations. This is because all database tables created prior to WordPress 2.2 use the latin1 character set and the latin1_swedish_ci collation, and all database tables created after WordPress 2.2 use the utf8 character set and the utf8_general_ci collation. Outside of the obvious visual difference, no hard evidence has ever been submitted to prove that this difference causes any sort of problem. However, numerous random and unrelated issues have apparently been resolved by standardizing the character set and collation across the database. The WordPress Codex provides an article detailing the process of converting database character sets with MySQL commands. If the thought of destroying your entire database simply because you made a typo concerns you, then fear not! There is an easy way to convert your database’s character set using nothing more than phpMyAdmin (available through most hosting providers’ control panel) and a plain text editor.

The following instructions are Mac-specific using the plain text editor Fraise, but they can be easily reinterpreted using any Windows or Linux-based plain text editor.

Continue reading

Returning to Splash Panel

Splash Panel is a graphic novel review blog created by Khaled Abou Alfa way back in November of 2005. As a long-time collector of graphic novels, I was lucky enough to be asked to be the first staff writer, and it was a blast. Unfortunately, burn-out set in and I stopped contributing reviews about a year later. Looking back, I’ve recognized the cause of the burn-out, and thought that it would be worth sharing for future reference.

Splash Panel is unique to the graphic novel review scene due to the fact that we don’t publish negative reviews. If we didn’t enjoy reading it, why would you want to read our review? If we reviewed it, we enjoyed it, end of story. What did this have to do with the burn-out? It’s quite simple, really. I reviewed my favorite graphic novel first, eventually followed by my second, and so on. You always hear that phrase about not playing your best hand first, but sure enough I did. Given that we never post negative reviews on Splash Panel, I immediately set a hurdle that I may never pass.

For some reason, this weighed heavily on my ability to write further reviews. The comic industry has changed and perfect graphic novels are few and far between. How do you positively review something without drawing attention to its faults? The point is that most review sites deal with this every day. You can’t expect perfection from everything, so don’t avoid reviewing something just becomes it doesn’t measure up to your standard of perfection.

From now, starting with Spider-Man: The Other, you can expect to see more reviews on Splash Panel. Not only reviews of perfect graphic novels, but reviews of simply entertaining graphic novels as well. As always, no negative reviews will be posted on Splash Panel, but I’m sure that I’ll be sharing a few here just for your enjoyment.

(Splash Panel was retired long ago, so the links above have been adjusted to direct to either archived content or content re-published here.)

New House

As Sarah mentioned, we have been in our new 4-bedroom Rialto home since March of this year.  We were lucky enough to purchase it before building began, so we got our choice of flooring, countertops, and cabinets.  We were also lucky enough to receive “upgraded” appliances and landscaping in both yards, which the builders were kind enough to add to our home as they began to increase incentives on the unsold homes.  It practically has everything we need; bedrooms for sleeping, a kitchen for cooking, a living room for TV and Wii, an office for computer stuff, a den for violin lessons, a spare room for Sarah’s booming Mary Kay business, and bathrooms for bathrooming.  I’m sure that you probably want to see what it looks like, so here are a few photos of the new house, taken during various stages of development.  Enjoy!

 

Wedding Photos

It took almost two months, but some of our favorite wedding photos are finally online! It was honestly quite difficult to pick just a few out of the 3,850 that we received, and I am delighted that this is finally out of the way.

All of the photos in this set were taken by Enchanted Portraiture. They did a wonderful job, and we now have the memory of our wedding captured in literally thousands of photographs.

We're Married!

I am proud to announce that Sarah and I have been married since August 23rd!  It was certainly the happiest day of my life.  We returned from our relaxing honeymoon in Oahu yesterday, hence the late announcement, but we should have quite a few photos online within the week and I’ll post more details on the wedding once those are ready.

Open Share Add to Any Buttons

About eight months ago, Alex King released the first version of the Share This plugin, featuring his now famous Share Icon inspired by the now standard Feed Icon.  Unfortunately, Alex sold both the plugin and icon a few months ago to the entity which now owns and operates ShareThis.  While ShareThis claims that the icon is still free for all to use, the ShareThis has slowly been taking on a more commercial feel and the usage of the icon has begun to show some restrictions.  The icon, which was previously conceived as a standard for all sharing services, is now offered with the strong recommendation that you use it with the services provided by ShareThis, and some organizations which have sought to adapt it to use with their services have received take-down requests from ShareThis.

Fortunately, The Open Share Icon was created to provide a freely usable and distributable icon for the rest of us, and to challenge the Share Icon as a potential standard for all sharing services.  Due to ShareThis’ increasing commercial feel, I have decided to leave it behind for Add to Any, which provides buttons to easily share URLs or subscribe to feeds, and nothing more.  The Open Share Icon has not been widely adopted yet, so I have modified two of Add to Any’s popular buttons (a practice strongly encouraged by Add to Any’s creator) by adding the Open Share Icon.  Feel free to use them on your sites.

As a possible note of interest, these are the first buttons that I have created with Pixelmator. At first, I was hesitant to replace Photoshop with Pixelmator, but I can now say with confidence that Pixelmator does exactly what I need it to do for $590 and 1.9GB less than Photoshop.

Update: Pat has added the Open Share Icon to most of the Add to Any buttons.

Blog Less, Live More

I would like to think of this post as a New Year’s Resolution, a very important resolution which will eventually contradict itself. In 2008, I’ll be focusing less on my blog and decreasing my overall online activities in order to effectively “live more.” How will this contradict itself? Well, by living more, I will have far more experiences and opinions to share on this blog. Isn’t that funny? A resolution to decrease blog activity may actually result in increased blog activity.

2007 has been a great year. Sarah and I began planning our wedding this year and we’ll have the final plans next month, I have a new full-time job that pays very well and is only five minutes from my house, I got an iPhone, and I just received a gift card specifically intended for the purchase of a Wii (no, I haven’t been able to find one yet). But, enough about me!

So, how did 2007 fare for MacManX.com? Thanks to Joen’s outstanding work on Fauna, I was finally able to release Frost 1.0, “a cool and refreshing style” for Fauna. I also launched Program Notes (fka Music Program Notes), an exciting new resource for ensemble directors, educators, students, and anyone else with a general interest in music and stage history.

2007 also saw some cut-backs and major changes to MacManX.com. The Favored Freeware list has been scaled back to about a quarter of its size. The previous list included all of the freeware applications that I have ever used, which produced quite a few duplicates (applications which served the same purpose) and dead links, and therefore caused a lot of confusion. This new list only features freeware applications which I have used in the last few months. Along the same lines, the Blogroll Dive has been discontinued to make way for more individual postings, which will be more frequent and far less confusing than the link dump that the Blogroll Dive became. Speaking of cut-backs, Program Notes was accepted by (and moved to) Wikia just three months ago, which has dramatically decreased my bandwidth usage and average server load, and brought my operating costs of Program Notes down to zero.

As for the major changes, I am proud to say that most noticeable change at MacManX.com would be the removal of AdSense and Text Link Ads. Despite the slight drop in income, I am happy to see them go.

If I had to pick my favorite post of 2007, it would definitely be Save the Environment for Free. “For just minutes a day, you can improve the quality of the environment for yourself and everyone around you who is, or whoever will be, living on our green Earth.” That’s right I said “minutes,” not dollars or cents, “just minutes a day.”

Unfortunately, 2007 also saw a dramatic decrease in comments. In fact, you’ll noticed that all but one of the MacManX.com posts linked to today have absolutely no comments. I hope that by putting a more personal spin on MacManX.com, more people will be willing to share their comments and opinions. Only time will tell.

So, with all of that said, I bid farewell to 2007 and greet 2008 with open arms. I’m looking forward to blogging less and living more in order to blog more. Still confused? I have to admit, starting the New Year off with a contradictory resolution may not be the best of plans, but at least I’ll be enjoying more of life outside the internet. As for the predicted increase in blog activity, we’ll just have to see how 2008 plays out.

Frost 1.0

Joen released Fauna 1.0 on Tuesday. This is the final release of Fauna (excluding bug fixes, of course) and is packed with several noteworthy improvements, including compatibility with WordPress 2.3 (including the new tagging system), a new print stylesheet, and support for the new gravatar plugin, Easy Gravatars.

Due to a few small changes made since the last release candidate, Frost required a very small update to keep it consistent with the current default style, and I am proud to say that Frost 1.0 is now available for anyone looking to add a different style to Fauna 1.0.

Frost is “a cool and refreshing style” for Fauna, inspired by frost, ice, snow, and winter in general. If you’re looking to make a change to your blog’s theme, try Frost today!