All posts by admin

You suck at Photoshop

You suck at Photoshop is a must see – and not just for those seeking some great video Tutorials on how to better use Photoshop. This very well made series of video tutorials, presented by Donny Hoyle, brings you some great tips and tricks in using PS – and at the same time you get an insight into Donny’s sad life. Donny is a very talented Photoshop pro -  but his life sucks. Watch, learn, weep and laugh!

2009 and the future of Broadband in the Channel

Well it’s 2009 – it’s been a while since my last post, so thought I had better get back into the routine of posting.

Down here on The Channel we have always been a little behind the times in accessing reasonable Broadband connections. It is only in the last year that Telstra saw fit to upgrade our little exchange to enable ADSL over the wire. Before that we had to rely on a pricey wireless system that had a tiny download limit.

Now we hear that Telstra/Bigpuddle will not extend the capacity of the ADSL over the wire connections in our local board.  A guy touting for Telstra has been driving around selling Telstra wireless (starting at $89 per month – with a half price for the first 12 months) because, in his words, “wireless will be the only option”. But beware – if you don’t take their Liberty Plan – for every MB that you go over your limit you will be paying 25 cents for every extra MB – ouch!

We are not sure what that means for the possibility of us hooking into the existing fibre optic cable that has been lying, unused, under our paddocks for the past 5+years. The Tas Government have at least announced that they have signed a deal to allow access to the magic fibre – but the question is how much and how do we access it? We are told that the Govt will release details of pricing etc mid 2009 – these things take time you know!

Who knows where we will be in another 12 months. The Federal Government’s National Broadband Network is still in its formative stage (without Telstra) – so we will not hold our breathe – but at least its a step in the right direction…we can only wait and see what services (and for what prices) we can access.

On the lighter side of life and technology

A few images to share with you – it’s Sunday and time for some light relief.

Those irritating Windows Error boxes!

I just had to share this with you…those little boxes are not welcome at any time. For once we can have a chuckle…

Those Windows Error Messages

Popular Mechanics 1951

Yes that’s right Popular Mechanics had your future home in mind when this was published in 1951. Imagine that! And you have to love that lamp!
A housewife's dream - in the 1950s

For those long and leisurely afternoons in the pool…

Pool Fun

Serendipitous adventures on the web

Serendipity in cyberspace.

Take a visit – and perhaps join – StumbleUpon, where you can find a whole new world of web spaces. Use the StumbleUpon button to randomly discover some interesting websites – some may not take your fancy – but a site you stumble upon might be worth tagging for others to visit. StumbleUpon is just one of many very good Web 2.0 sites that use the concept of “tagging” favourite sites – collaboratively “bookmarking” visited sites. Social bookmarking is very much one of the pillars of Web 2.0 – where the user-generated content of the web is discovered and shared – among everyone on the web – or for the viewing of a private group. You can find out a bit more on social bookmarking here at Wikipedia.

Here are just a few of the CT’s recent discoveries from when we last had a random stumble – in StumbleUpon:

TED: A fascinating site – TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. TED hosts some amazing videos of specialists in their fields, speaking with passion, about their passion. Here you will hear stories of invention, of art, of politics, medical science and much, much more. Have a look: TED

The Space Collective: What can I say. This site brings together some absolutely stunning imagery, ideas, concepts, arts and sciences and stories of possible futures. The Space Collective website is well worth a visit.

The Space Collective

Cooking by numbers: This site is fun. It would have been a firm favourite, if the web had ever existed when I first lived in a flat! Tick the boxes that correspond with the youth-allowance-financed foodstuffs you can scrounge from the deep recesses of your fridge or kitchen cupboard, and CookingByNumbers will deliver you a recipe incorporating those ingredients. Try it out! But be careful out there!

The Hand Written Digital Clock.

Just what it says it is! Video yourself writing the numbers 0 to 9, code a clever web concept – and you have web based digital clock. Simple really – yeah! Some of the other great content design by the handwritten-digital-clock-creator can be seen on this website: yugop.com

The Handwritten Clock

Side Walk Chalk Guy: Julian Beever is an incredible artist. His canvases are the footpaths (or sidewalks) of the world. His exceptional skills are really on show with his mesmerising 3D-like chalk pavement creations – images that you could reach out and touch – or in this case – take a dip!

Side Walk Chalk Guy

More from what’s out there on the web soon.

Getting online at home or work: buyer beware

It’s a big topic.

How can you get the best ISP deal to suit your needs.

ISP = Internet Service Provider.

Put VERY simply, it is the wiring – copper telephone line or another cable and wireless or satellite service, that allows you to connect to the Internet. Most people think Bigpond – and that may be just right for you, if you are happy to keep all your communication accounts under the one invoice…but there are better deals than those offered by Bigpond – yes really!

A common stop for the CT is Whirlpool. Whirlpool is a great online resource – you can compare and contrast possible ISP options – depending on where you live/work in Australia. You can also read through the forums and find out some juicy details on who is getting a great deal from their ISP, who is getting shafted, and other useful advice.

But first, some useful advice from the Channel Telegraph:

  • If you happen to live up a country road it may be that while the ISP says that you can get Broadband – based on a search of your phone number – it is only when they come to connect you that the problems start. The most common issue is pair gain – that is where the telephone line that serves your house/office is split between you and your neighbours and may either cause your dial-up connection to be very slow (slower than slow is surely – stopped – which on pair gain is common!! ;-\ ) It may also prevent you signing on with your non-Bigpond ISP, because Bigpond/Telstra are the only mob who can get around the “problem” for you. Sometimes you can get Broadband on a pair gain system – but probably never the seemingly lightning speeds of ADSL2 – up to 28Mbs – dream on. SO be careful when first signing up – and that’s where the problem lies – you quite often sign up, then get the bad news about the connection and find yourself with few options but Bigpond.

    Apologies as I get up on the soap box, but the poor state of the copper wire and telephone network support infrastructure in regional Australia is THE problem that stymies real competition and access to reliable and affordable plans in the Australian ISP market.

  • The right plan for you: Have an idea of what level of Internet access you need. If you infrequently surf the web, don’t download too many files and perhaps check your email a couple of times a week – then you can get away with a more cost effective plan that has a low download capacity – say 500 mb up to 1gb. But of course there then comes the issue of excess use charges – see below. Once you are on the Internet a new world opens up and you may start visiting lots of content rich websites – downloading podcasts, songs, videos, listening to Internet radio and the like. It is then you will need to be mindful that your current plan meets your needs – many ISP’s dont charge you a fee for upgrading your plan – but beware – some do!
  • Beware the excess usage costs – Shaping: Read carefully before committing to an ISP’s plan – there may be a limit to your downloads, and if you go over that limit the ISP may charge you for each extra MB you download – and that can get expensive. Look out for the term “shaping” it means that the ISP will just slow down your connection to dial up speeds, for the duration of your remaining monthly allowance, resuming at full speed (whatever full speed actually is) at the beginning of the next billing cycle – rather than charging you excess usage charges. Folk have often opened the dreaded window-faced envelope from their ISP, only to get a nasty surprise with extra charges that can run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars in excess charges for some unfortunate souls.

Hope it helps. More posts on this topic soon.

A world of e-Books

EbooksI love nothing better than reading a good book. But e-Books are also a great way to relax and absorb some literary goodness – by reading or listening (and watching as video in some variations). There are some great e-Book sites around – there are commercial sites where you pay an annual subscription – and on some sites from as little as $10 a year gives you access to hundreds of thousands of e-Books. Other sites have access to e-books in the public domain – and are free to download.

Try the World eBook Fair where you will find thousands of e-Books – for free! e-Books can be downloaded as PDFs, or they may be available in a particular format that requires a specific “reader” software. e-Books also include “audio-books” – they are generally MP3 files and can be played on your iPod/MP3 player – or through your computer’s media player. Alternatively you could burn the files as an Mp3 or audio Cd – for personal use of course.

Here are some more e-Book links:

World eBooks Collections page

free-ebooks.net

Free ebooks has a handy directory of sources for e-books and texts.

Libriviox is a fantastic site to visit – here stories, read and recorded by online members, are posted on the Librivox site as MP3 files for free download. The stories are read from books that are now within the public domain. A simple way of explaining what is meant by the public domain is that work not protected by copyright, or where the copyright for it has expired.

BUT remember of course some of the “public domain” materials you download may be subject to different interpretations of its “public domain” status, depending what country you live in – rather than where the original file resides. So a file downloaded from the Librivox site, hosted in the good ol US of A, may in fact still be IN copyright in Australia – depending on what Australia’s copyright laws require. If you REALLY want to know about copyright law in Australia, you can have a long hard look through the Australian Copyright Council’s website. I don’t think you are going to have a sleepless night over it – there is little chance of the copyright police busting down your front door, in a midnight raid of your home PC’s hard drive, in search of some Billy Shakespeare sonnets or a tale or two from Mark Twain – downloaded from Librivox.

Now all you need to do is strap on your iPod or mp3 player and go for a long walk, or a nice sit out in the garden, or as you commute to work – and have a story read to you. We listen to radio and music as we drive – could we concentrate as well on an audio book – I cant do it – I have to be relaxed and focussed :-) but whatever your setting – enjoy the experience. Happy e-booking.

A bit of fun with generators – on the web

No, we aren’t talking nuclear or coal fired power generators here. These generators leave a relatively small carbon footprint and can have both a serious and educative aim, and others are, well….just a bit of silliness really…

The “generators” we speak of are those that can be found on the web and can do all manner of things like:

  • Making personalised signs, posters, movies etc based on images that are already pre-loaded on the particular generators site, or it is done via the uploading of the visitors own image(s);
  • Generating text based lists, names and phrases;
  • Creating games, mazes and other activities;
  • Making personalised calendars, charts and other tools.

As we find some fun and useful generators we will post them here – here is a start of a list:

Mazes

Maze

Personalised bars of soap:Signed soap
Punk rocker personalised signs
Punk

A Web 2.0 directory

Web 2.0 is the buzz. They are the “new generation” of websites that provide new ways of collaborating online (well known Web 2.0 examples are Wikis, and social networking websites like MySpace, FaceBook, Twitter and on, and on, and on)….

There are some very serious Web 2.0 sites around – and the not so serious..

Kerpoof! – Fun for all ages (but mainly for kids!)

Magmypic – ever wanted to be on the cover of The Rolling Stone? Well here you can!

Gizmoz – have some fun and get animated!

The Go2Web directory is in itself a great Web 2.0 example – it lists a great many Web 2.0 sites – contained in an innovative interface. Go and have a play!

Getting noticed by Google

Google explains how the Google “algorithm” or more formally PageRank™ – the software and hardware at the heart of what is Google – you can read little more here on their Google Technology page.

The founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Lawrence (Larry) Page, wrote this paper on their research into Google – it explains the Google concept. It makes for interesting reading now, some ten years later and Google is perhaps one of the biggest players in our online lives – together with the obvious likes of Windows, Mac and Linux (to name three OS).

The aim of many website owners (not all – but many) is to get to the top of the Google rankings with a specific search word or phrase.

You can pay Google to have a link to your website in plain view on page one of Google’s results page – based on matching your specified “keywords”. Match that is, with those words and phrases rattling around in the hard-drives of the hundreds of thousands of PC’s over at Google Street. If you are not keen on paying, here are a few basic tips on getting noticed by Google (and the other search engines). In future posts, we will add to our list of hints and tips on getting your website noticed – and visited!

1. Reciprocal Links – Try and get as many links as possible to link back to your site from other websites. Part of the Google’s PageRank system looks at how many other sites have links pointing at your page. Get some links pointing at your website – even better if you have some “keyword” texts accompanying your link from the pages of your clients, friends. sponsors and business partners – but do the same for them! Another great way to get your link out there is through wikis, search engines and other private and government directory services. Make sure they are QUALITY links from those “other” websites. By quality we don’t mean listing your site with some shady “get your website noticed search engine submission outfit, working from Dad’s shed”. Make sure that the sites that link to your site, add value to your message and content/product or service.

2. Your website’s Title Tag is very important to Google. By title, we mean the text that is found between the HTML <TITLE> tags in the <HEAD> section of your web page. A page title always appears at the very top of your browser. Always make sure that your Page Title has a definitive connection with the content of your website to make the most of Google’s robots visit to your page. Have a look at the top of your browser now and you will see our Page Title: The Channel Telegraph – Connecting online with Tasmania’s D’Entrecasteaux Channel community. So make sure your page title is on show!

3. Keywords. Google considers keyword density a large factor in ranking pages in search engine results, more so than many other search engines. So when writing the texts for your website make sure you keep the main aims of your website in mind. Keep those words in plain view – words that describe what you sell, or what service you provide, or information that you make available. Repeat those words as many times as you can without being boring – change them around – put them inside phrases and statements. Think about what people might type into Google when they want to find a website like yours – then put those words in your website’s content!

3. Avoid having home pages that only have images. Google and other search engines don’t get as any goodies to take back to their indexes from images – the robots cannot “read” images – they read TEXT! (Having said that Google may well save your image URL for its Google images database). So its great to have images on your home page to illustrate your best features – but don’t just rely on images – put some worthwhile text on the page. Another hint – if you do have images – make sure that they have ALT tags so that people with images turned off can get an idea of what that image might have been about – and Google will see the ALT tag…

Get your site listed on Tasmania Online

When your new website is completed and goes live online, one of your first online stops should be Tasmania Online. Here you can “submit your URL”. Put simply, you are adding your website to the online database of websites that are either Tasmanian based or at least have a reference in some way to Tasmania:

web sites must have significant Tasmanian content, or have Tasmanian authorship, or be located on a Tasmanian server. (Tasmania Online)

(You can read the Tasmania Online submission policy here).

Listing with Tasmania Online is one of the first steps in getting your website noticed on the web. It makes it more likely your website will be visited sooner, rather than later, by the major search engine robots, and also helps with your ranking on search engines like Google and Yahoo – just to mention two. When you do get around to clicking the “Submit URL” button on Tasmania Online – be sure to have some info ready to plug in:

  • Your site title
  • Your URL
  • A short description of your website (you should of course have a short description of your website already – as it it should be one of your site’s main meta-tags)
  • Your name
  • Your postcode

So – get over to Tasmania Online and list your site!