Notes while surfing

Happy New Year

Well, we finally did it. After 13 years in our new home town we bought a home. Thanks to everyone who’s supported us over the years.

In addition to the new home, 2019 was quite the year for us. Lucas received his Master’s Degree from Cal State Northridge. We’re so proud of him.

Steve also published his last book, Ten Good Reasons to Fix That Airplane, in December. After publishing, Fables for the Clarinet, in August. He plans to put out his third book in January/February.

Me? I’ve been working like a demon on Web Hosting and Maintenance, email and social media marketing, website design, and greeting card designs.

I hope to soon have some assistance from Lucas to free up some time to focus on designing more and contributing to this blog, Geekesse and Heycuz.

Best wishes for a happy 2020 for you all!

Introduction to Administering Your Website

This is a quick introduction on accessing the administration area of your website.


This is a short overview on the areas of your website’s Administration area. It includes information on the front control panel, the tool bar, the Administrator menu, and where to get help.

Click on the small arrow to start the video.


In this video you are given a quick look at the back-end or administration area of your website.

When you first login you will see the control panel. The Control Panel area includes the Quick Icons (article manager, user manager) to the areas that you use most. On the left side, you can see a list of currently logged in users and articles that have been recently added.

The top menu gives you access to all of the areas of your website. The menu items include:

Site: Areas which administer the overall settings for the website itself

Menus: If you want to add, remove or edit menu items

Content: This menu area brings up the article manager as well as the section and category areas.

Components: This menu accesses add-ons that are specific to your website. For example, if you have an eCommerce site you can access the store software. Or, if you have a Gallery feature on your site you will be able to access the images and other features here.

Extensions: Extensions are small modules that complement the components and appear as menu items or blocks. For instance if you have a weather module on your site you can adjust the settings in this area.

Tools: This area has some administration tools such as clearing the cache of a website; and messages sent to the administrator.

Help: Clicking on the help link will bring up information relevant to the area you are in at the time. For instance if you are in the Article Manager and click on help, you will see instructions about adding articles or editing them.

More tutorials are available for specific areas at You can also contact us at any time for more assistance.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day

Ada LovelaceImage via WikipediaI have been fortunate enough to have had many wonderful women in my life who each left an impression on me in some way. But today, in honor of Ada Lovelace Day, I’m sharing a few of the women who inspired me.  Ada Lovelace was the worlds first computer programmer and on this day many people take the time to remember women of science. I want to honor the great women in my life.

Number 1 would be my mother. I was lucky enough to come from intelligent stock. I learned a lot from her including my love of books, of learning, of history, of technology, and on and on, but what I think I learned most from her was perseverance. My mother had a very tough life, but she was like a phoenix, rising from the ashes again and again. Finding something to laugh about, gave her the strength to continue the fight.

Number 2: Mrs. Crabb was my fifth and sixth grade teacher. She believed in me, which, allowed me to realize that I was OK with who I was and if there was something I wanted to do, I shouldn’t worry what anybody else thought but just do it. I had been publishing an underground newspaper called “The Toilet Stall Times,” and knew it wouldn’t be long before I got into trouble for it. Boys were breaking into the girls bathroom to get a copy. Mrs. Crabb came up with the idea of publishing a book and that was how I started my life long publishing dream.

Number 3: Jan Rawson, my journalism professor, was a stickler for everything. A stickler for facts; a stickler for grammar; a stickily for ethics…everything. Getting a paper back from her meant red ink and rearranged paragraphs with more pages of suggestions than pages in the original article. No paper was ever done. If it weren’t for deadlines, I don’t think anything would have ever gotten published. Exhausted from working all-nighters to get the newspaper out, I could barely keep my eyes open but she would still be at it up to the last minute because the idea of an error getting published was unacceptable to her. Jan gave me a drive for perfectionism, but also the value of a deadline. She also introduced me to my first “computer.” Little did I know then, that that paper-tape spewing monstrosity was the beginning of a beautiful love affair with technology that still exists today. Rather than fear the machine because it was foreign, she taught me that it was just another tool and if you used it right, you could inspire the world.

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Stop the Stream to Honor Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is dead.

The news makes my life pass before me. I stare at the screen where Facebook users continue their posts about Farmville rewards and I want to yell Stop! Stop all the game posts; Stop all the Tweets! Stop everything for one second and recognize the man for the way he changed the world. Can’t you pause for a second to pay tribute to the man whose contributions lead to the creation of all these live streams of posts.
He’s been a part of my life for 26 years and yet, I only met him once. As I think about his life, I can only smile and say Thank you. Thank you for sharing your dreams and making them ours.

Please observe a moment of silence at least to honor this great man. There was no one else like him and we’re all better because of him.

Funeral Blues
W. H. Auden
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

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Shout Out To My Heros: Help Boards

Today, I’d like to do a shout out to the unsung heros, help boards. Most of the time, these over-worked administrators and moderators only hear the rants and ravings of an unhappy poster. But, you can bet if you’ve got a problem that you need solved, there’s a help board with the resources you need to solve it.  I want to say thank you! You’ve saved my butt on numerous occasions.

Like the time I needed to hook up a Plasma TV to a LCD 15 minutes before a speaker was to go on–Thank you High Def Forum!

Or the time an app was preventing my computer from booting–Thank you Mac Community Forums

Or the time a software update crashed my site-thank you Stack Ideas forum. and Red Component Forum.

Sure, there are some boards I’d rather not visit at all for various reasons: too hard to search; bad attitudes; flamers; or its just not a topic I’m interested in, but most of the time I came to that forum searching for the answer for a very specific problem or area of interest.
When you are looking for assistance on a forum, its best to narrow down the forum to the exact product or question rather than go to a general topic forum. It’s a real time saver because you’re all speaking the same language so to speak. If you don’t understand the conversations, then be honest and confess that you’re a newbie and need the instructions as simple as possible. 
Some of the best forums out there are forums supporting open-source software. Open-source makes it’s code available to everyone and so their support forums, because of its very nature,  creates the free exchange of ideas. One of my favorites is the Joomla Community Forum because there are many helpful, knowledgeable people.
The key to a good forum, I’ve found, is the tone of the community and the knowledge of its users. The key to getting answers to your questions is to know the guidelines of the forum you’re posting which can usually be found at the top or bottom of the front page of the forum. Check it out before your first post. 
The second way to get your question answered quickly is including all the specifics around the item that is in question. For instance, if you’re asking about a TV connection problem: give the product number, and the exact name of the unit you’re trying to connect it to. Try not to voice your frustration too much or be too sarcastic. We all know you paid good money for what ever it is, so there’s no need to re-state it. You can never say too much about what the product is because the more information they have, the better your chance of getting an answer.
Also, if you run across a forum post where you know the answer, it’ll increase your Karma by sharing your knowledge. If you kinda, maybe, somehow have a hunch you have the answer, hold back posting until you can be more sure. There’s nothing more frustrating than following bad advice.
And, the next time someone helps you in a forum, please respond to their good deed. Let them know that it solved the problem for you. That way they can mark the problem solved and others with similar problems can also benefit from the answer to your question.
Finally, remember to thank them.
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I means what I means

If you could hear me when I’m using Google Search lately, you might think I was doing a Popeye impression; I mumble a lot. Ever since Google changed its search algorithm in March, I’m having to reteach myself to surf. I go to Google and type something, say “”Monkees” like ice cream” and I’m half way down the results page when I realize that Google’s suggested a different search for me:

“showing results for Monkeys like ice cream
search instead for “Monkees” like ice cream

“I means what I means,” I mutter and click on the link to search for what I originally typed.
I really do like change. Change is good. Change is necessary. Change is life, and all that hyperbole. But, come on! I’ve been searching this way since way back when AltaVista still existed. My head knows it’s time for a change, but my fingers still do the walking, er typing, and they want to put phrases within quotes.
It seems in Google’s attempt to assist us, they have started ignoring power users by over riding what we search for. Their own help files tell us that a phrase search works like this:

Phrase search (“”)
By putting double quotes around a set of words, you are telling Google to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change. Google already uses the order and the fact that the words are together as a very strong signal and will stray from it only for a good reason, so quotes are usually unnecessary. By insisting on phrase search you might be missing good results accidentally. For example, a search for [ “Alexander Bell” ] (with quotes) will miss the pages that refer to Alexander G. Bell.”

However, they may need to update their help site as they is no longer an absolute. It used to be preferable to use the double quote boolean term to get exactly the phrase you were looking for within Google, but now its hit or miss.
According to, “Boolean searching is built on a method of symbolic logic developed by George Boole, a 19th century English mathematician. Most online databases and search engines support Boolean searches. Boolean search techniques can be used to carry out effective searches, cutting out many unrelated documents. “
There are tons of search strings available, but here are the terms I find most useful when searching on Google:

  • “Exact Phrase Here” — If it’s in quotes, Google is supposed to look for those words in the exact order.
  • +Exact+Phrase+Here — The + before a word tells Google that each of these words must be in the results.
  • +Word -other — Using the – sign, tells Google not to return any webpages with that word in it. In other words if you want to find Justin but not Timberlake you’d type +Justin -Timberlake
  • word site:weburlgoeshere — If you want to find something within a specific website use this. For example, if I want to find singer Pink’s videos on Youtube I would type this: Pink

Currently the results of my search seems to change by the hour. I’m guessing it all depends on how much Google likes me at the moment of the search.
It’s hard enough when Google’s autocomplete, Google Instant, starts filling in my words before I get to the fifth letter. I surf using my keyboard, hitting return after typing in my text, which most times means that Google Instant has replaced what I typed or filled in more than I typed milliseconds before I hit the return key sending me to ridiculous results. Type in “do m” and get:

  • do midgets have night vision?
  • do men like virgins
  • do my thang lyrics

You can stop Google from using instant search. According to Google’s help files:

“If you don’t want to see results as you type, you can opt out by accessing your search settings under the  gear icon on any search results page. When you opt out, we’ll save that preference on a cookie, so you’ll stayed opted out until the cookie is cleared. Note that the preference will only apply to that particular computer and Internet browser, and it is not tied to your Google Account.”

To turn it off, go to your Google preferences. At the bottom of the page is the Google Instant options. Simply click the button next to “Do Not use Google Instant”
I like Google Instant, but if you don’t use it, you get the added benefit of being able to increase the number of results given on each page of a search. With Google Instant turned on you only get 10 results per page. With it off, you can choose 20, 30, 50 or 100 results per page.
While you’re in your preferences, you might want to reset your SafeSearch filter. If children are using the computer, you can have it filter out adult content. The default is set to moderate filtering. For me, I don’t want to be filtered at all so I click “Do not filter my search results.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a perv, I just don’t want something computer program telling me what it thinks is appropriate for me to see. I can make my own decisions, thank you. I’m a big girl now.

On September 22nd, Google changed its Instant Preview feature so that you no longer have to click on the magnifying glass to view what a website looks like before you click its link. You can now simply hover your mouse over to the right side of one of the results. When you do, two arrows ” >> ” appear, hover over that and a a preview of the site appears. This is very handy if you’re looking for a specific site but can’t remember it by name. One glimpse tells you whether you’re in the right place or not. If it’s not the specific site you want, hit the down arrow key on your computer keyboard, to view a preview of the next result.
I’m not getting too attached to any of the new changes though, because Google made an announcement yesterday that they’ll be rolling out even more changes soon. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just cross my fingers while surfing.

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Cheating is the symptom of educational woes

I’m saddened by the news today that five children paid someone to take the SATs for them and as a result they could face serious time.

“Colleges look for the best and brightest students, yet these six defendants tried to cheat the system and may have kept honest and qualified students from getting into their dream school,” DA Kathleen Rice said. “These arrests should serve as a warning to those taking the SAT this Saturday that if you cheat, you can face serious criminal consequences.

I’ve heard a lot of teachers complain how rampant cheating has gotten, but we need to start asking why. What’s going on that our students have thrown morality out the window? If you look at the very basics of our humanity, you will see that people cheat based upon our survival instinct. Let me explain with a scenario:
A man is caught stealing at a grocery store. He’s guilty of theft and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But, what if, you learn that this man stole a sandwich because he was starving? Or, what if he stole a loaf of bread to feed his children? You would be a monster if you ignored his reasoning and sent him to prison and left the starving family to fend for themselves.
When anything threatens a person’s livelihood, income or social status, they enter survival mode. I believe that the system itself lead the students to their moral breaking point.
During the economic downturn, the biggest losers have been our educators and students. Every time I turn around I read about another cut to funding in education.
Due to the drop in funding, colleges have increase their fees, limited enrollment, and increased their entrance requirements. The result is that students are doing what ever it takes to get what they feel they need to survive.
Children are told from day one, that the only way to make it in this world is to get a good education, to get into the best schools. In California, we took pride in guaranteeing a higher education for all, but now even community colleges are feeling the burn.
I am not condoning cheating. It’s wrong. But, I’m saying cheating is the symptom of a much bigger problem. We’ve got to take a look at what’s really going on. We’ve got to stop our politicians from taking money away from our schools.

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What responsibility do we have to our followers?

This past week, I’ve gotten quite a few (hundreds actually) new followers on Twitter and Google+. What’s going on? Does this have anything to do with the new changes on Facebook? Do people hate it that much? Or, does it have anything to do with Farmville changes? 
It’s nice to have all the new followers, but with new followers I feel a bit of responsibility to come up with good tweets and links. 
I tried to find some great quotes by joining It is pretty good, but, still it doesn’t seem to be enough. So, I’ve been retweeting a lot. 
Oh sure, I know that the marketing gurus are saying to themselves that they’d be doing a lot more than just repeating quotes. But I don’t feel its right to blanket people with ads. Don’t we have some responsibility to our followers?
I think my responsibility is to only share stuff that I find interesting enough to read. So my question is: What responsibility do we have to our followers? Please tweet me @geekesse.

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The Best Things in Facebook Are Free (for six months, anyway)

Spotify is a streaming music server that saves your play lists, of any music, not just what you’ve purchased, and you can replay that music from anywhere. Recently, that anywhere has included Facebook
How do you add music on Facebook? When you are logged into Facebook on the front page, in the left column, you’ll find an icon with the words “Music” next to it. It’s located right under “Apps.”
When you click on Music, you’ll be asked to download an application called “Spotify.” After installing it, you will be asked to login with Facebook. Or, you can set up an account on their website, without logging into Facebook.
When you do, you can see what music your friends are listening to; subscribe to their playlists; send recommended songs to friends; and just enjoy free unlimited music to your heart’s content. 
If you don’t want to share your playlists you can turn it off. Within Spotify click on your preferences, then uncheck automatically share my playlists. It appears that its an all or nothing feature.
You can also disconnect Spotify while you’re in the program so that the music you’re listening to doesn’t get played. To do that within Spotify, go to File, to Disconnect from Facebook.
Spotify is free. From what I can tell from this blog post on Spotify, the service will only be free for six months.
Spotify pays for the free music by running ads between every few songs and display ads from within the software. They also charge for subscriptions. In fact, every time you open the app, you are asked if you want to upgrade from the free account.  It says you can upgrade for a monthly fee. Unfortunately,  the form asks for my credit card information before it gives me the price, so I didn’t complete it. Wikipedia lists that the Unlimited Subscription is 4.99 per month and Premium (includes mobile) is 9.99  a month. If you spend a lot on music in iTunes this option might be worth it. I’m just a little concerned that it seems to be luring people in with misinformation. You sign up and get all you’re play lists created, then after six months, you’re told you can only play 10 hours of music. Of course, this may have changed with the Facebook deal. 
I’m sure there will be a huge uproar from the Facebook friends who, just having gotten used to the music part, are suddenly told that they are going to have to pay for the right to listen to music, but not own it. 

“Abandon ship!”
“Hit the brakes!”
“I’d expand my farm before I’d pay that!”

I don’t want to stop people from enjoying their free membership on Spotify. Go ahead and enjoy it for six months. The Software is pretty cool and I’m really enjoying the ability to hear almost about every song I can think of. In fact, I’ve put some songs in that I would have sworn wouldn’t be in there and they were. 
As always, I have a couple of tips. First, when you search for a song or name and it says not found, try a different way to put it in the search bar. For instance, I searched for She said Plan B, and no results appeared. But when I tried Plan B She said, it came up. Other times I put the artist last and it had the same problem. 
Also, I was disappointed when I added the Bob Seger song Turn the Page to my play list, but it turned out that it was only a cover, cause I know that wasn’t Seger, not even close. At least when I tried to play Peace Sells, it was listed correctly as a cover song (as made famous by Megadeath). So, just make sure you listen to the song before adding it to your play list.
Apparently, not many people are using the service yet. I have only one friend among hundreds who has a published playlist. So, if you’d like to share your playlists (as long as its not country) please add me.
Finally, if you find yourself getting attached to your playlists, and have no intension of subscribing at some time, keep a separate note of when you signed up and what’s in your playlists.

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Mind Over Mouse?

To catch a mouse diary
Day one: Received the Riddex Sonic Pest Repeller and plugged them in. These were on sale real cheap at Amazon so I thought I’d give it a try before doing something more drastic. It was only a tiny field mouse after all. My family thought I was being over sensitive. But, the idea of something crawling around my living room is just too much. There were a lot of positive reviews. After I ordered them, however, I did more research and found that the FTC had a file on them for “unsubstantiated claims.” Oh well, since I already ordered them I’d give it a try. The instructions said that it would take up to seven days. I  followed the instructions to the letter, and plugged them in. I  plugged it in two places on the first floor and in the hallway upstairs. I thought I noticed a bit of a ruckus in a corner, but I may have just imagined it. 

Day two: No activity except the constant clicking of the device. I kept the television off all day, hoping to increase the effect of the noise and I’d be able to hear them better. My son was concerned about the possibility of brain damage caused by sonic sounds. I told him it was supposed to be safe for pets. He didn’t seem convinced and gave a shrug that indicated it wasn’t that big a deal and it was just another of mom’s kicks.
Day three: Early morning, thought I saw some mouse droppings on the floor. Still it could’ve been that we’d had tacos the night before and it could have been crumbs. I  swept and mopped just in case. On my trip to the store that afternoon, I couldn’t resist the temptation and bought a mouse trap. When I got home, I thought better of it. I didn’t want to handle the mess of a trap. So, I put it under the sink.
Day four: I’m haunted by shadows. I know its just my imagination cause I even see shadows of a mouse on the ceiling. It’s too quiet. I can’t believe a mouse has made me so paranoid.
Day five: Haven’t heard anything but the click click click of the sonic mouse device. It sounds like a dripping faucet. Its enough to drive a person crazy. Reviewers said that they couldn’t stand the noise. They said they heard a whirring. I’m not sure if I’m just used to having a lot of electronic noise or if it just blends in with the rest of the noise of the home but all I know is that its very, very quiet except for the clicking dripping noise that occurs at random intervals. It can get on a person’s never. But, its worth it. I can put up with the clicking cause I  haven’t seen any mouse. Did I accidentally block him in behind something? Is he still lurking somewhere? 
Day six: I dare not call it a success yet, knock on wood. The floor’s clean, there’s no more shadows. I’ve turned off everything, but I know I won’t hear him even if he shows up. There’s a reason why they say “as quiet as a mouse.” They can be running circles around your feet but you can’t see them. Thinking about that, gives me the heebie-jeebies. The reviewers said that after the third or fourth day they’d noticed an increase in activity, with the mice running around in circles trying to get out. But, I haven’t heard anything. Like I said. It’s too quiet. Where’d “he” go? Just to be safe, I’m going to vacuum again. 
Day seven: Yep, it says its most effective in the first seven days. It’s actually longer than that since I put it in early and here it is 11 at night. Does that mean he’s gone? I hope so. I’m going to leave the things plugged in for another week just to be safe. But, I think it worked. 

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