Friday, December 29, 2006

A big Thank You!

For the most part I'm in a pretty good mood today. I've managed to get a better understanding of HTML and all the little nuances involved with character sets, DTD's inheritance and browser idiosyncrasies. I can't say I'm anywhere near knowing how to properly build a web site but I at least understand what goes into it. I never knew designing web pages required so much knowledge! So I guess I should apologize for my statements yesterday with respect to IE. I found that if I changed the DTD from XHTML 1.0 strict to XHTML 1.0 transitional things worked better. I now have to run everything through the HTML & CSS checker but it should be too bad this time. I also have to clean out the style sheets as I now have a lot of cruft being left behind by all the changes.

Today I also received information from Wiley, the publisher of my book: Linux Smart Homes For Dummies, that the book has sold 2015 copies from 7/2 8 through 10/31 (3 months). While not a number 1 best seller on the NY Times Best Seller list I'm still proud of it's sales. I won't find out how well it sold at Christmas time until April (it appears to be a quarterly report). I hope it did well, I thought it would be a good gift for the geek crowd but I am biased. I am after all a geek. ;-)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Web standards, Google, Microsoft and browsers

I've been very busy reworking my web pages so that they're easier to use (and maintain, remember I use automation to update and publish my pages). The basic problem is that my current page (yes it's mostly one large page) is about 128K in size or 200 printed pages (very hard on the eyes). Contained in that lump-O-links are 298 valid links (I check them weekly) and descriptions which I've broken down into 48 sections. I'd think I can organize that into 5 large sections. Each of the 5 sections will have the 48 sections divided up and those will be broken down into related (and smaller) pages. This will make the pages a lot friendly and easier to navigate. I'll optimize my page size for 800x600 since most people are at least using a screen that large (I love using Google's Analytics). I've been pouring over examples of various layouts and experimenting with CSS to find an easy to use (and easy on the eyes) lay out. I finally figured out one that works well and follows the standards. I built up a mock up and had all the features working reasonably. I tested it out with Firefox and Konqueror (screen shot) under Linux and it worked smoothly (and no Javascript thank you). So I decided to test it with IE 6.0 and all I can say is that I curse the day Microsoft wrote IE! That nice pretty CSS file I had is now peppered with all sorts of hacks to get around MS limitations. My HTML files had all sorts of conditional HTML commands related to IE. Before you say: "ignore IE because my web site is Linux related", I'd like to note that 33% of the visitors are using IE! I can't ignore that many visitors. And I really need to take advantage of CSS to use the pages space efficiently.

Another reason for efficient layout is that I've been investigating putting up Google's Adsense on my web site in the hope that my web site ( will earn enough money in a year to pay for it's expenses. I don't intend to go crazy with ads. I don't want the ads taking up a lot of space (they'll be text ads) and there will only be one at the top (none at the bottom or the sides of the page). It's not the main purpose of my web site which is home automation and Linux!).

Lets say the web site costs me $200.00 (US)/year for expenses (that's pretty close). I happen to get approximately 50K hits/year on the just the main page. If 2% of the visitors (1 in 50) click on the Google text ads the pages will pay for themselves (50K x $0.20 x 2% = $200.00). I really don't expect that the web site will bring in a lot of money. If it doesn't bring in any money then there's no great loss as I would have been paying for the site anyway.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A busy day

Today was a busy day (well yesterday really). I updated my admin tools on my Linux Smart Homes For Dummies Forums. I installed Anti-Spam ACP

for PHPBB Forums. Seems things are a little messed up on my setup and I had to edit most of the files by hand. Works great so far. Hopefully it will lower the spammer registrations I've been getting (about 25 a day).

I've been drooling over the Linksys WRT350N Wireless-N Gigabit Router (~$170) and the ARMmite ($49). The Linksys WRT350N is a 802.11n (pre-n or draft n) wireless access point with a 4 port Gig-E switch and a USB port (for network storage). OpenWRT is supposed to have an imag e ready t run on this machine, sweet! The ARMmite is low-cost single board computer with 24 TTL compatible digital I/Os shared with 8 10-bit A/D pins, USB interface, and built-in BASIC compiler. This could make for a very nice (and powerful) micro-controller (possibly a node on my RS485 HA network).

My X10 network is acting up. I have a transmitter that won't shut up! It's spewing out different commands all day long. It's a bad time of year for this to happen. Now I've got to find this trouble maker and shut it up.

Looks like I'll be attending online College classes (Pace University). My employer really wants to see degrees backing up the position I current have. They've provided a means to achieve that and I'm taking advantage of it. Looks like the next 2 years will be interesting.