Metapress Rebranding

We have redesigned our site! Take a look at our hard work and the new site as well.

http://www.metapress.com (rebranded site)

http://essential.metapress.com (new site)

http://www.metapress.tv (YouTube channel)

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Intelius UI Design

I just received a post from one of the Intelius web developers. He said he was open to suggestions or input from others, and asked me if I had any UI suggestions for their site. I was excited to here that he was open to suggestions. I hope I can recommend an obvious UI flaw (well, obvious to me), and see if it will get changed.

Some time ago, I posted a review on Intelius and commented on how their purchasing page could confuse someone (like it did my wife). I believe others have made the same mistake and recommend to Intelius to make the change on their site. They never did. Now I have hope that it will be updated.

Here is a screen shot that shows the current UI with the purchasing discrepancy.

Intelius Original

Intelius Original UI

Here is my recommended fix to clear up the confusion
(or some other change would be fine).

Intelius Suggested UI

Intelius Suggested UI

REASON: It does not make since to have radio buttons that “do nothing”, especially if the buttons get changed once you click on the “Buy it” link. If the code relies on the buttons, and it will be a pain to remove, then just set the radio buttons visibility to false or hidden.

I appreciate Michael contacting me and for having an open mind. You can do what you want, this is just my suggestion, but I feel it may keep a few support calls from happening. I hope I have been able to help you guys out. Thanks for contacting me. If you have further questions, please let me know.

Google Premium Messaging Blocked

On Jun 12, 2008 at 5:28 pm, I sent a text message to GOOGLE (644653) and I received the following response:

From: GOOGLE

Premium Messaging to this mobile number has been blocked. Only the account owner may request a change to this setting with his/her wireless service provider

Jun 12, 5:28 pm

I asked my wife if she was able to receive SMS messages from GOOGLE, and she could. We have the same phone (enV2) and same service provider (Verizon). We were on different plans, and I thought that would have be the thing that made the difference. My wife has unlimited minutes on her mobile phone and I have 900. We both have unlimited text messaging and that should not be different between the two plans.

When I called Verizon, they informed me that I had not signed up for the Premium Messaging, and that my wife had it set up for her account. The only explanation on why this changed is that Google must be sending their SMS messages out a different way. I don’t know how this works, so if anyone has any know how on this, then please let us know. So you may ask, how does Premium Messaging work? Here is a post from a forum that helps explain it. For the full post go here.

premium text messaging is billing, usually from 3rd party companies, applied to the bill. these charges can range from $.50 – $19.99+ and are for services provided. some examples:

-on tv you see an ad for a “joke of the day sent directly to your cell phone, just text the work ‘joke’ to 22332″

-you watch american idol and want to vote, they will charge you $.99 for every vote.

-you’re on the internet and see an banner for “FREE RINGTONES!” you link to the page and it says “Just enter your mobile number to get 8 free ringtones*” well if you look up the “*” way down the page it says “by entering your mobile number you agree to a $19.99 month subscription to “Ringtastic Tone Service.” etc.

these are just a few examples. call customer service and ask for detail on the charges.

NOTE … GOOGLE SMS messages do not cost money*. GOOGLE is the 3rd party here, and they work through advertisements. They just are not serving AD’s at this time. This is very similar to 1-800-GOOG-411. Both services offer different features, which are very nice. I recommend trying them out, you may find that it save can really save you time and pull you out of a mess when you are on the road.

To try out GOOGLE messages via SMS, go to: http://www.google.com/intl/en_us/mobile/default/sms/index.html

To try out GOOG-411, call 1-800-644-6411. This is a free service also.

* Free GOOGLE SMS may change in the future, but I find that to be highly unlikely. If it does change without me knowing then I will have a heafty cell phone bill :) I am not responsible for any charges if any apply. Use Premium Messaging with caution.

New Job w/ EBSCO Industries – MetaPress Division

So I turned in my resignation at Westar Aerospace & Defense Group, and will be starting work at EBSCO Information Services in Birmingham, AL. My first day will be 31 March 2008. I have heard great things about the products and what I may be working on. I recall in the interview that I may work with www.springerlink.com and www.ebscohost.com. EBSCO hosts databases for Colleges & Universities, Hospitals & Institutions, Corporations, Government Institutions, K-12 Schools, and Public Libraries.

EBSCO is big into performance. They receive millions of hits each month. Here is a chart I created showing only Alabama Search Statistics for Colleges & Universities, K-12 School Systems, Postsecondary Institutions, and Public Libraries.


EBSCO Search Stats in Alabama

EBSCO Entrance Speed Limit EBSCO Offices
Pictures of EBSCO Information Services

I will miss my current employer. Westar has been so good to me, and many of my supervisors have been the best I have ever had. The decision to move on was difficult to make. Jeff Atwood explains his decision to in making a job move to a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure” book series (a read well worth it). Regardless of the cons to leaving, I find many more pro’s that I am looking forward to. I hope all goes well in this transition.

Do you have any relocation tips you can share?

  • selling a home / buying a home
  • places to live-in / or avoid living-in surrounding birmingham, al
  • moving companies that are good
  • anything else that will help…

Track Flights in 3D for FREE using Google Earth

Ok, so the concept of tracking a flight REAL TIME (or as much real-time as needed) is pretty sweet. The concept of real time really does not exist in the digital world. There is always going to be some latency. It is gust important to make sure that lag is not more than we need in our application. If you ever have time, look into real-time computing, it can be pretty fun to research.

:)

So you can pay register for this service (using Google Earth from other websites), or you can follow the instructions and do it for FREE. Alright, to get this to work you need to follow these steps:

  1. Download and install Google Earth
  2. Go to the following website http://www.aeroseek.com/webtrax/fboweb.html
  3. Select your Airline and Flight Number and click GO
  4. Click the Google Earth Feed button
  5. Save the file (preferably to the desktop)
  6. Find the file and rename it to flightnumber.KML
  7. Open Google Earth and select File > Open…
    OR, double click on the KML file
  8. Now in your Places area you can toggle between specific items to display
  9. Double click on the new item in the Places box, and TRACK YOUR FLIGHT

NOTE: The update interval for pinging the flight location is defaulted to 1 minute. To change this preference, right click on the item in the Places explorer and select Properties. Go to the Refresh tab and change the View-Based Refresh value.

If you still want to track a flight, but don’t care if it is 3D, then you can use www.fboweb.com. This is the same place where the data feed is coming from for our KML file that we created above.

Sources:
http://www.fboweb.com
http://www.aeroseek.com
http://www.wikipedia.org

Updated (January 23, 2008)
If you would like to use fboweb.com’s service and do not want to flood your inbox, then may I recommend you read my previous post on how to Register on Websites Using a Temporary Inbox.

Another handy tool is www.bugmenot.com.

Also fboweb.com’s KML file adds some neat enhancements like what other aircraft are active near the aircraft being tracked. It also keeps a running track of the flight. Both features can make it worth the registration. Your choice. Enjoy!

Free Adult Content Filter Using OpenDNS

I have been looking for a solution to Adult Content Filtering for some-time now. A co-worker lead me on to the OpenDNS website, and I noticed that it had the Adult Content blocking feature I was wanting. See here are the steps that I took to get Adult Content Filtering on my home network:

Hardware: Dell XPS M140 Laptop and another Dell Desktop

Operation Systems: Windows XP Professional, Ubuntu 7.10

Internet Browsers: Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 2.0

Internet Service Provider: Charter Communications

Steps to use OpenDNS (I choose the wireless router path)

  1. http://www.opendns.com/start
  2. I used a D-Link DI-524 router at home and followed the DI-624 instructions (these are the same instructions)
  3. I then used the following OpenDNS IP addresses: 208.67.222.222 (primary) and 208.67.220.220 (optional)
  4. You should now be set to use OpenDNS (check here) –> http://welcome.opendns.com

If you have made it this far, then you are almost setup for your adult content filtering. To get this working do the remaining steps;

  1. Create an OpenDNS account.
  2. Add your network IP address (top right corner of webpage)
  3. Set the Adult Content to block

Here is a list of the categories you can block:

Block lingerie/bikini sites
Sites displaying or dedicated to lingerie/bikini that could be considered adult-only.

Block nudity sites
Sites that provide images or representations of nudity.

Block pornography sites
Anything relating to pornography, including mild depiction, soft pornography or hard-core pornography.

Block sexuality sites
Sites that provide information, images or implications of bondage, sadism, masochism, fetish, beating, body piercing or self-mutilation.

Block tasteless sites
Sites that contain information on such subjects as mutilation, torture, horror, or the grotesque.

Block adult-themed sites
Sites that are adult in nature and are not defined in other rating categories. Note: This category should only be turned on if you want to be very restrictive on your network.

Block proxy/anonymizer sites
Sites providing proxy bypass information or services. Also, sites that allow the user to surf the net anonymously, including sites that allow the user to send anonymous emails.

There is even a feature that allows you to make exceptions for unblocking specified websites. All you need to do is add the website URL to your dashboard Whitelist. The best part of all this is that it will help keep you more secure from phishing and keep a good portion of the sleazy parts of the internet from our children and yourself. All changes to the OpenDNS dashboard can be applied to all content going through the network. You can even use the same account to monitor multiple network IP’s at a time. I like that this is not software based, and can be accessed through the internet. OpenDNS also gives the administrator the ability to pull reports on what blocked websites are being requested and from what IP address. It also lists the time and day that the activity happened so you can track down who is attempting to access the site.

This service is exactly what I have been looking for. I think this is a great FREE TOOL and I highly recommend it. Thanks OpenDNS for a great service!

Use OpenDNS


MCTS and MCPD Exams

So recently I just tested for my Microsoft MCTS & MCPD Exams. These exams have been said to be much more technical and difficult than the previous Microsoft Certifications. I found that cramming for the exams (for me) was the best way for me to pass. With such a young family it would make it difficult for me to study over a months time for an exam and then take it. Each MCTS exam depends heavily on the base exam for the MCTS (70-536) Application Foundation Exam. After you get this behemoth complete, you shoot for the Web, Windows or Distributed Exam. Each one you complete gives you a full certification. I completed each of these and then attempted to take the next exam … MCPD EAD. This test seemed to be geared toward guessing the Microsoft answer. I did not pass this one on my first try. It took some additional studying, but the retake proved to be successful.

Microsoft sends you a nice Welcome Kit for the MCPD and MCTS certifications. You also have rights to create your own Logo’s and post your transcript (I have done that for my blog). The transcript page is to prove to your employer or other companies that you truly have the certifications you claim. Way to many people lie in resumes, and this would be an easy thing for an employer to verify.

You can verify transcripts by going to the following and entering a Transcript ID and Password. My transcript can be found with the below information:

https://mcp.microsoft.com/authenticate/validatemcp.aspx

Transcript ID: 777098
Password: you will need to ask me for that

I am glad that I have accomplished the task of becoming Microsoft Certified. Stats show that it makes a difference in an individuals net worth, and it will be interesting to see if this is true. As for my current employment … they have been nothing but great to me.

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