There Are Only A Few Hours of 2004 Left

New Year 2005 is nearly upon us. It’s the time to look back over the past year and decide what was right, what was wrong, and what we can do better in the coming year.

2004 was a good year, overall. To others, looking in from the outside, it may appear that life was sucking pretty bad for me – but alas, I think it all worked out fairly well in my favor. I had a chance to meet some wonderful people and learn how to stand up for myself more. I learned to be more human and that I really do love my family, however broken it may appear to be.

I could do a year end review month by month, but frankly, I don’t have the mentality – so, just the highlights for me. I moved, I learned how to design websites – and not just any websites, websites built with tendering loving W3C care, I met some wonderful people, read some wonderful blogs and now I’m ready to start a fresh new year.

I have a number of goals for 2005 and I will be spending my rainy evening writing them down, then I’ll call my family at 12:01am to wish them a happy new year, then I’m going to sleep. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to wake up, stretch, carry out my morning routine as normal – then I’m going to turn off all my lights and watch movies all day. I may turn on my computer to check email or something – and if I feel really inspired, I’ll blog.

On my final note, some may call me altruistic and idealistic, but I never lose hope that each year, the world can be an even better place and that one day mankind will have a collective epiphany and realize that Mother Nature creates enough death and destruction without us helping out…

So, as 2004 draws to an end – I want to wish everyone, from the bottom of my heart, peace, love, happiness, joy, and prosperity for the new year and always.

The Strange Ways People Find My Site

I was just checking my logs and the search phrases people use to find my website are just…um…interesting. I think I’m going to bite Rae’s idea and start listing my top 5 search phrases each month – she does 10, but I’m different.

On another note, I noticed an odd search phrase “the teli” and I had to wonder for a moment – what “teli” they were looking for. It turns out that I rank number 1 in Google and MSN beta for this search, #2 in Yahoo, and #2 in Google for “teli” alone – I don’t know if this is good or bad…

For the first installment of search phrases used to find my site (in no particular order, comments in [bold] are my own), here goes:

1. insanity test frogs [I mentioned frogs when?]
2. losing him scares me [what?]
3. dancing yeti [yea baby!]
4. ky liquid burning [uh huh...]
5. mild adult xmas poems [some people are just sick and twisted...]

Disaster Relief – Make Sure All Your Money Gets There

I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers sending people to Amazon to donate money for disaster relief, however I’m not – why? Because 2.9% + $0.30 of your transaction goes to cover “administrative and processing costs” – so not all of your donation is seeing it’s way to the people of the affected countries. Depending on how much you intend to donate, that 3% fee can be a nice chunk of change.

Network of Good now has processing fees (3% for credit card and $10 for check) so not all your money is reaching the intended charity there either. If you want to donate, I strongly suggest going to the charity itself – i.e. Red Cross or try the American Friends Service Committee (CC transactions only cost them $0.45 regardless of amount and $0 for checks – that means pretty much all your money goes charity)

Whichever method you use to donate money (and please donate money) – before you donate, check the fine print – carefully. It’s sick and twisted that some people will try to make a buck off of someone elses misfortune and people trying to do good.

I love this song…I just wish someone else sang it

While speaking with a potential client, I remember her mentioning Hilary Duff’s website. I remembered the site being very light (white, blue, pink, etc.) and very well done – but when I went to hilaryduff.com it was green and tacky (what’s up with the Target banner?) – then I realized, the site I had visited many many moons ago must have been her “dedicated” music site.

Now I’m listening to “Fly” and I absolutely love this song, I really just wish someone else sang it. I love the lyrics, I love the melody, I love the harmony. I have nothing against Hilary, I just frankly don’t like her voice. Okay, enough ranting.

I Think I’m Getting Old

I heard All I Ask of You from Phantom of the Opera, and I’ll be damned if a tear didn’t try to squeeze it’s way out. I must have been some opera freak in a past life or something because I really love opera. I’ve seen just about all of them (on t.v.) and I got to see Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute by Mozart) my freshman year in college, and I’ve played songs from Carmen, Die Zauberflote, La Boheme, Aida, Guillaume Tell (William Tell – I know everybody knows that overture), The Phantom of the Opera, and many more as flute solos.

Hell, hearing All I Ask of You made me want to whip out my sheet music and flute and have at it for old time’s sake. I don’t know what’s more pathetic, the fact that I considered getting out my flute or the fact that I have just about every song written by Andrew Lloyd Weber for flute. The only thing that’s sucky about my weird affinity for the opera, is the lack of people in my immediate vicinity and age bracket that actually have a weird affinity for the opera too. Hence, I’ve not been to many operas.

I hope to change that in 2005, even if I have to go by myself…Well, maybe I can find someone willing to see PotO when it’s released in theatres.

This Spam Fix Seems Promising

While browsing the TextPattern forums, I came across an interesting thread which linked to a spam fix that anyone can use regardless of blogging platform. This is something that I had not come across as yet – similar fixes using mod_rewrite, yes, but this – no.

After reading it, and going “hmmm…”, I’ve decided that I’m going to implement it and see how it works out for me – hopefully well. You’ll need to be running Apache that has mod_security enabled.

Very interesting indeed…

5 Days Until The New Year

The new year is almost upon us, and I believe alot of people are in accordance that this will definitely be a year for change. I’m looking back over my life this past year and I realize that I’ve had many horrible want to crawl under a rock and hide moments, but I’ve also had moments I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Someone I cared very much for moved away, I moved to a new home in a new city, I left my job, and I had to start all over. Now, I do something I love, I have learned many many things, and I continue to grow. I also learned that I can work for myself, help other people, and make a pretty dern good living doing it too. I learned that I am stronger than I thought. I learned that sometimes things seem like it’s boding the end of the world – that is until we come through it relatively unscathed, then look back and say “oh gosh, I can’t believe I was afraid to deal with that before” (hindsight is 20/20).

Okay, enough of the reminiscing – with 2005 just around the corner, there are many things I want to get done. I want to share all that I have learned this year with others, so with that in mind I want to redesign my website as well as work on CSS Goddess (I can’t take full credit for the name – that was thanks to tantek). The site I wanted to put together to showcase women designers. I know there are plenty of CSS gallery sites on the web, however, I know plenty of women who love designing with CSS and who want to learn more, so I wanted to create an estrocentric community for it. That probably won’t evolve into anything meaningful until Mar 05, but it’s something that’s on my plate.

I am also planning another interesting project, but that one is pretty much a secret because it’s somewhat ground-breaking for the industry. And since I want to start the new year fresh, I plan to do a bit of spring cleaning – in Dec – and donate all the things I don’t use to Goodwill then organize, organize, organize (I want to see my desk again). I will also try harder to document stuff on my blog – a way to help me put my head on straight, so to speak.

I’ve said my goal, laid them out on paper, outlined my plan – now all that’s left is for me to get started!

Happy Merry Chrismakwanzakah, No Really – Merry Christmas

Well, Christmas is here. Taking a que from the OCHairball, I want to wish you:
English: Merry Christmas
Spanish: Feliz Navidad
Philipines: Maligayan Pasko!
French: Joyeux Noel
Chinese: (Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun
Japanese: Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
Swedish: God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År

And of course, there are many more languages in which to say Merry Christmas.

May your days be many and may they also be blessed. Now I shall leave you with a poem.

Christmas Everywhere
~ Philip Brooks (1835-1893)

Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
Christmas in lands of the fir-tree and pine,
Christmas in lands of the palm-tree and vine,
Christmas where snow peaks stand solemn and white,
Christmas where cornfields stand sunny and bright.
Christmas where children are hopeful and gay,
Christmas where old men are patient and gray,
Christmas where peace, like a dove in his flight,
Broods o’er brave men in thick of the fight;
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!

For the Christ-child who comes is the Master of all;
No palace too great, no cottage too small.

If You Don’t Believe In Jesus Christ, Why Celebrate Christmas

It makes absolutely no damn sense to me. If you do not believe in Jesus Christ, why are you going to celebrate Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ. This Christmas, I hardly seem in the spirit of things. It’s been a hard one, everyone past ’92 has been a hard one and it only gets harder each and every year.

Serious ranting lay ahead…

This year, I have not seen any cartoons which discuss the true history of Christmas, instead, it’s about Santa and his reindeer, I have not heard Silent Night or O Holy Night, etc. played on any radio stations whereas, a few years back, this would not have been the case. It really doesn’t seem like Christmas is only a few days away.

I debated this post for a long while as the topic’s been on my mind for a couple weeks now. I didn’t want to stir up anything and figured I would ride it out. But, the final straw was reading a snippet from a post on Dooce:

And what makes Jesus so special that EVERYONE YOU KNOW has to get presents on HIS birthday?

Frankly, this attitude is the reason why I ask the question. I can assume that this wasn’t meant to be taken literally and is actually funny, but that coupled with reading the post on Judi’s blog and hearing a story on the local news – A women was not allowed to display her manger scene along side the Christmas tree and Menorah on a public street (eh hem…when did a Pine Tree become the symbol of Christmas? She won by the way, and the manger scene is back up).

Before I continue on, I need to clear up some points:
1. I am not a religious zealot.
2. I do not believe that anyone is going to hell simply because they do not believe in Jesus or subscribe to another religion or no religion at all.
3. I am not condemning anyone nor do I think anyone is a bad person simply because they don’t believe in Jesus
4. Yes, I believe in Jesus Christ
5. No, I didn’t vote for Bush

I can understand that no one wants to have another religion forced upon them, but what gives society the right to “sanitize” Christmas just so they can partake in it too? It is Christmas, not xmas.

This is a Christian holiday, just like Chanukah is a Jewish holiday. I’m pretty sure that if society were to step in and create the Chanukah Goose and an apple tree as the symbol of their holiday, they wouldn’t be too happy about it. Chanukah may not be in the same league as Christmas to Christians, it’s still a holy day – as Christmas should be.

I’d just as soon not have any Christmas movies, cartoons, showcases, etc. instead of what we have going on now. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ – if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, or respect our faith and belief in Jesus Christ – you shouldn’t be celebrating Christmas. Yes, that’s my narrow-minded view point.

I celebrated a day of Chanukah once. I’m not Jewish. So what makes my situation so different? Well, because I respected their faith and their belief. It was a very beautiful thing and I still have the gift that Yani’s mother gave to me some 6 years ago. I believe I was so blessed they allowed me to join them (I needed permission from my dad – but he’s fairly open-minded too). I learned about other people, their beliefs, their faith, and in that essense – I gained a tremendous amount of respect for them.

My title is a little misleading – I’m not saying that you have to believe in the Christian religion to celebrate Christmas – simply respect that it is a religious and holy day and do not try to sanitize it. If you really really want to celebrate something non-religious – there are 350 other days to choose from. Pick one and have at it.

I had a long in depth talk with **** regarding this issue (he’s an atheist) and he tried to explain some of the reasoning behind it. He explained that this is a widely recognized holiday and not everyone in society wants to deal with the religious aspects of it, however, they want to partake in it, so the only option was the sanitize the religious aspects (paraphrasing). While I can understand the reasoningit doesn’t make it right or repsectful.

He tried to explain it to me in terms of skin color. Back in the day, black folks did not get much respect, but society changed that and gave black folks freedom. Christmas is a religious holiday, however, many people in society do not like dealing with the religious aspect so society has sanitized and commercialized Christmas. Okay…interesting.

So because people do not like looking at Jesus, it’s okay to sanitize Christmas? I’m sure there are plenty of folk out there who don’t like to look at black people, does that mean black people should bleach their skin so that those people don’t have to look at them anymore? Some people may say “hell, yes” but those are the people who need to learn about tolerance and about getting to know people.

I know Christians are just as much to blame because they did not stand up and speak as this was slowly happening. I’ll bet most kids today don’t even know why we give gifts on Christmas – and I’ve yet to hear many Christians stand up and say anything about it.

One thing that more people need is tolerance, understanding, and respect. That is something that I find many people in society lack today. When I have children, they will be taught the true meaning of Christmas, they will be taught to respect it – even if they choose not to believe it and they will be taught to respect others and their beliefs (or lack thereof).

I’m now done ranting (I think) – I wish you all a wonderful holiday season, whatever religion you subscribe to and a very fruitful new year.

Dynamic Desktop – Notes

As promised, this is a set of more cohesive notes on actually setting up the dynamic desktop. The following notes apply to Windows XP – however, I’m sure this can be used on any Windows system with a little ingenuity. I won’t go into a lot of detail because the point of this is simply to be creative. These are the steps I used, but I’m sure there are many means to this end.

1. Plan.
I cannot stress enough how time-saving it will be to have a proper plan in place before you even begin. Keep in mind the programs you use most often and how you want everything to be organized. Then write down their full text links (notepad is helpful for this). Ex: file:///c:/program files/your program/program.exe – you’ll understand why when you get to step 2.1

Create a folder on your C: drive (or wherever you like) to contain your desktop page and also your extraneous files that would otherwise clutter up your desktop (such as downloads, documents, shortcuts, etc.).

*Note: pay attention to details and keep “like” items grouped together. The framework you create now will eventually be used with the design and coding.

2. Design and Code.
Designing your desktop is not all that different from designing a webpage. I used XHTML and CSS simply because it’s second nature to me (well, getting there). I also wanted to have the flexibility of changing the layout simply by changing the CSS file. Remember, since you’re the only person who will be using your code, feel free to code with the bare minimum basics ;) – it may be cheating, but hell, it works and it saves time.

*Note: It may also be helpful to include a link on your page directly to your HTML and CSS file for quick editing if you want to add/delete something.

*Note 2: Designing the page for the Win XP desktop is like designing a webpage for IE6 – something to keep in mind when you’re cursing at your layout because “it looks fine in Firefox and all the other browsers, so why is it $%*^ing up in IE?”

2.1 When I link to .exe files – it keeps prompting me to Open, Save, or Download…
If you coded your links as <a href>, Windows will open up a browser window and with it’s new release of IE, it no longer offers you the option of automagically bypassing the settings for running .exe files from the browser window. However, there is a workaround.

3. Implement It.
Now the fun stuff begins. Actually implementing your page. Move all the icons (except the ones you know you want to show on your desktop, I’ll cover how to remove them all in a sec) to the folder you created on your C: drive and organized as you see fit.

Right click on your desktop and select “Properties”. From the tabs, select “Desktop” then click on “Browser” – find the location of your designed webpage and click “Open” – click “OK” and you’re done, you should see your new desktop appear.

If you don’t want any of your icons to show (for instance, your “My Computer” or “Recycle Bin”) because you created a link in the design, right click on your desktop and click on “Arrange Icons By” and uncheck “Show Desktop Icons” from the flyout menu.

That’s it – Enjoy! And this is the result (mine anyway)