Archive for June, 2008

NASA Animation of Phoenix Mars Lander

Monday, June 30th, 2008

I just clicked on the site to see what was new. I became engrossed in the various animations created from NASA images and this one, which is composite of artistic and real images.

I am having trouble with this. It does not want to embed correctly. Click here to play the movie.

Blogger Blog This

Monday, June 30th, 2008

You can see a new icon on the bottom of each post.


This runs a little JavaScript routine that opens up the blogger "new post" window and lets anyone who uses blog about my blog post. Just click the image and a user now has a new blog entry.

This version is blogger specific. I also have a version that I’m going to add to my non-blog web sites. I should write up a technical explanation, but it is one of those things that is easy to reverse engineer for a technical person, but is hard to explain to a non-technical person.

Justine’s Vacation on Martha’s Vineyard

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Justine sent me some pictures of the house she stayed at in Martha’s Vineyard. She was on the West side of the Island, near Gay Head Lighthouse (named for the gayly colored mud).

My friend Phil likes to take pictures of the mud bath near Gay Head. There is a place where multicolor mud comes down the side of the cliff there and people like to take mud baths, often in the nude.

Justine just sent me pictures of the house – no muddy nudes. It looks like a very very nice place, but she did not invite me or Larry out for the trip. Then again, Larry and I did not invite her on our trip.







Here is a picture from the web of Gay Head and the colored cliffs.

Unique Visitors Must Die

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Jacob Nielsen has a new article on reducing bounce rates on websites. I have a lot of clicks into what Nielsen calls a deep web page, and then the user is gone. I’d like for surfers to hang around and try a few more pages. I will try to follow some of his recommendations.

While I am on the subject of traffic, I have been following a discussion of Chitika premium ads. Chitika is sort of like AdSense, except their ads are not as smart in some ways. They show ads that will get clicks, no matter what the content on your page. The trade off is that an AdSense ad shows ads targeted to the people interested in your page content. Chitika ads are targeted to a more general reader and they pay better. You can have both types of ads, but it does clutter your page.

The new Chitika premium ads are only shown to users who have hit your site through a search engine. Your normal users will see no ad. Chitika says that most normal surfers ignore ads, but that users using search engines are much more likely to click an ad. The ads are geared towards the keyword search from the search engine and not the content on the page. This is pretty slick. I put the ads on one website and I tripled the Chitika revenue, but it is still not as good as AdSense. The Chitika ads still look too much like ads and people don’t like to click ads.

Since the new ads are like affiliate links and don’t pay per click, it may be a while before I see the real revenue from these ads. I’ll keep you posted.

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox

On the Bus

Monday, June 30th, 2008

I took the bus this morning from West Nyack to White Plains. It was awful and I still feel sick.

The NYS Thruway was backed up from the bridge 10 miles because of an early morning accident. The bus schedule was all screwed up. I caught a local version of the TZ Express at about 8:20. It made stops all the way from West Nyack to South Nyack and then stopped along rte. 119 in Westchester. I got off at 9:06 (there is a digital clock in the bus).

The smell of the fumes and the bouncing quickly made me sick. I was listening to Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The thought of all those drugs in the book made me feel sick, too.

I missed my big comfortable gas guzzling truck.

Here’s a quote from Hunter S. Thompson:

Old elephants limp off to the hills to die; old Americans go out to the highway and drive themselves to death with huge cars.

Three Lakes

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Erica and I went down into New Jersey to a community garage sale at Morse Lake. The sale was mostly a waste, but we had a good time driving around the lake.

Here are some of the views around Morse Lake






From Morse Lake we went to what I think is Glenn Wild Lake. (Erica thinks it might be upper Morse Lake.) We took tiny roads where the truck could barely make it through and saw beautiful scenes of nature. The small communities that live at these lakes are different from the snobby "summer people" that go to other destinations. Some of these houses date back to the 1920s and most are handed down through families for years.

















Then on the way back, we stopped by Eagle Lake, where I learned to swim back in the 1950s. The lake was abandoned for many years, but has since been cleaned up somewhat. The lump of green is an island. My Grandfather built a bridge out of logs and branches to the island and he cleaned it up and put a picnic bench on it. The place was so overgrown that I could not get near the place where the bridge was located.





Hacking Google Alerts

Friday, June 27th, 2008

I’ve been receiving Google Alerts for a couple of months now and they have resulted in about 20 blog entries. I think that this is a very useful product.

You may not realize this, but I have 6 other blogs. I have a couple of Harmonica related blogs, the cat blog, a tech blog and another blog that I don’t really use much anymore. I also have a blog that use for testing template features and that one gets a few hits because I discuss ways to use css and html to format a blog.

I find the Google Alerts very helpful in providing content for my blogs. I like the Nyack alert because it keeps me updated on what’s happening in my home town, especially which of my old friends and neighbors have been arrested. I come from a part of Nyack, called Central Nyack, that can be a rough neighborhood.

For every blog entry I get from Google Alerts, I discard 40 or 50. It occurred to me that these alerts are of interest, even though they might not make a good blog entry. I decided to revive the idea of a Blog Carnival – a blog consisting of nothing but links. I started this morning to write the code to convert the alerts automagically into blog entries and I am making progress. I am trying to design it as open ended as I can so that I can make many blog carnivals and let them run without my intervention. These, of course, will be monetized with ads so that they will make me money.

I’ll let you know when I finish the project. I was thinking of having carnivals for “Bio Fuel”, “Cats”, various harmonica stuff, maybe something with science fiction related announcements, and “Nyack”. I am thinking about having some medical related lists that might link to higher paying ads. Once I get it working, I can have as many blogs, automatically fed by the alerts, as I wish. I would just have to compose a template for each one.

First cut on this for the google alert biofuel is at

I expect that I will be able to improve a little on performance by caching the results, but all the parts are there except the formatting.

Another Green Crude Announcement

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

With the price of oil being so high it is only logical that money is flowing into any company that promises to make fuel from non-mineral resources. All it will take is for crude to stay above $100 a gallon for another year or two and it will be end of drilling for oil forever. Don’t sell your oil stock, yet, but when a successful alternative fuel goes to market it will be too late.

This latest announcement comes from Australian CSIRO and Monash University. They claim to have a way of producing crude oil components from low quality waste.

The researchers are targeting low value waste such as forest thinnings, crop residues, waste paper and garden waste, significant amounts of which are currently dumped in landfill or burned . These contain lignocellulose which is renewable and potentially greenhouse gas neutral. It is predominantly found in trees and is made up of cellulose; lignin, a natural plastic; and hemicellulose.

One of these schemes is going to kick in. With the price of heating fuel so high, I can predict hundreds or even thousands of deaths due to lack of heat this winter. I can also predict that the electorate will be angry enough that Congress will have to act, offering tax breaks and grants to anyone developing alternative fuels and green technology.

Science Fiction League

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

There was an auction for an original Science Fiction League Membership card and I captured the images. The card was from 1934 and it is a promotional item from Thrilling Wonder Stories, one of Hugo Gernsback’s many titles after he lost control of Amazing Stories.

I did my best to clean up the images. I had a packet of business cards blanks and I made up 10 of these. Drop me a line and I’ll snail mail you one. There are seven left. First come first serve.


Home from the Cape

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Ollie was the only cat who missed me and was glad to see me.

We made it back around 5pm on Saturday afternoon. I have had my mind set reworked and I guess I can put up with another 4 or 5 years of drudge work before I take another vacation.

I had Lobster twice, Steamers once and consumed 5 cups of thick real New England Clam Chowder- not the kind that you get in cans in the rest of the county. Real chowder (pronounced chow-dah) is made from cream and has giant clams in it called Quayhogs, with big chunks of white potato. I will not be getting on the scale for a few weeks.

The trip cost us about $180 in gas, as I overestimated the cost of gas (as low as $3.97 in Plymouth) and underestimated the Mileage that Larry’s car got. The Hotel was about $150 for two people for two nights and we spent more on food than we wanted, although we found a place that served a good lobster dinner for $14, including chow-dah and desert.

Larry and I got lost a bit and once the GPS unit had us off-roading for an hour through the dunes on a track that was nothing more than two ruts in the sand. I’ve  got the smell of the sea in my nostrils and I woke up to the screaming of gulls. More than ever I want a house on the coast to retire in and write my novel.

I can recommend an off season vacation to the Cape to anyone. In the summer, the place is crowded, but before the July 4th weekend and after Labor day, there is much to do and see and the tourists are sparse.

I have a few more pictures and a video, but I might not get to them.

Grafton Historical Society Antique Show

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Larry and I came home today, saying goodbye to Cape Cod. Part of our vacation strategy is get lost and find new things. We went down the coast of Cape Cod and hit about 20 garage sales, as we randomly took promising turns.

The Mashpee Flea Market was now a mall and had been for years so we headed north to the Saginaw bridge and started back home. After an hour of riding, I got off the main highway and turned south at random to see what we could find in the way of garage sales. We stumbled on the Grafton Antique Show.

The Grafton show was high end antiques, well out of my price range. One of my marching orders was to find antique samplers for Erica. The ones that I saw were all hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but I took some quick pictures for Erica.



















These were the gatekeepers.


Cape Cod Day 2

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Larry and I, due to someone forgetting to pack the tackle, did not go fishing. The day, however was great. We took some back roads and got lost and went along the shore north of Chatham (pronounced chat ’em). We stopped at the Chatham lighthouse. We wound up lost at a boat landing in a very beautiful section of Chatham. We took a wrong turn looking for a garage sale and we found a very beautiful house.

Here are the pictures. Blogger is down so it may take a day before you see this.























At the Motel

Friday, June 20th, 2008

We are staying at the Americas Best Value Inn & Suites at 206 main St. Hyannis, MA. 508-775-5225.

The place is much better than some of the dives that Larry and I have stayed at. It is not a luxury hotel and has few amenities. They have two pools, however and free Internet wifi. The wifi is slow, I think it is 802.11b, but it works well.

The place is full of fishermen. Larry saw a guy from Central Nyack, who is staying here. The last time that I saw him he was a skinny kid about 10 years old, but Larry recognized him. He signed up for a fishing junket on one of the boats and got a package deal. For two days fishing, two nights at the hotel and two dinners at a buffet restaurant it only costs $150. That’s about what Larry and I paid for the two nights.

If you stay here, don’t expect much except a reasonably clean room. It is not the Ritz, but it is better than any of the other places that Larry has talked me into staying. I am glad I researched this on the Internet before we came. $55 a night spring, $89 a night summer. Damn, today is the first day of summer and the rates went up.

We went down to Spanky’s on the Hyannis docks last night and had Steamers. I had found a Blues Bar on the Internet that had a Thursday night jam, but the place was shut down. Blues gets no respect.

Here are some pics of the hotel.





You can see in the picture below the short distance down main towards the center of town. You can walk everywhere from this motel.


Persy’s is right across the street and it’s where we had breakfast. It was too expensive, though.


The guitar store opens at 10:30 and I have to wake Larry up from his morning nap so we can go down and look at stuff we can’t afford. We are going down the coast to hang on a beach after that. Larry forgot to pack the fishing tackle so we have to pretend that we are fishing.

Come on Larry! Wake up. Our vacation is a wasting. (He is snoring like a chain saw.)


Larry and Keith’s Cape Cod Adventure – Day 1

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

We went up to Cape Cod, stopping by Plymouth. I tried to take pictures of the Standish Sampler for Erica, but the pictures didn’t come out. I didn’t take many still pictures, so here are the videos.

I uploaded these to Vimeo, a video service similar to YouTube, but easier to use.

First is us taking out across the TZ bridge

Cape Cod Vacation 1 from jt30guy on Vimeo.

Next is Plymouth Rock.

Larry and Keith at Plymouth Rock from jt30guy on Vimeo.

Last is Larry explaining about the Mayflower.

Larry and Keith at the Mayflower from jt30guy on Vimeo.