February 2006

Click “more” to see a list of all of the interesting web sites I found this week. I keep track of my favorite sites using del.icio.us, a free web site where you can access your favorite links from any computer and share them with friends. You can also see all of my favorite links (not just the ones from this week).


Joy and I got to go out to dinner this evening. Joy’s mom came over to watch Charis for us, so we got an evening to ourselves. We went to our favorite Italian restaurant in town because we had a gift certificate that my parents gave me for my birthday a couple of months ago. We both really like their food, and we had a great time chatting and basically just being together with just us for a little while. After dinner we ran by WalMart to pick something up for Charis that we needed (you can’t get away from parenting for long!) and then we went back home so we didn’t keep Joy’s mom too late. As much as I love Charis, I’m also very thankful for the special times Joy and I have together with just each other.

Joy has her book club once a month on Thursday nights, so this evening I got to spend time with Charis and put her to bed while mom was out. She was in a happy mood and we had a good time. She is really crawling around a lot now, so I could chase her around the living room floor, which was fun. She loves to pick things up, so we played with a lot of her toys and just picked up one toy, and then put that down to pick up the next toy.

She has one of those ring stacking toys, and she loves it when you stack the rings on her head. She’ll hold still while you stack the rings up on her head, and then she will lean her head forward so the rings fall down, and then she’ll laugh about it like it is the best thing ever. She can keep playing that over and over and over again and it doesn’t seem to get old. Crazy kid. :-)

And she was even very good when I put her to bed. I talked to her and sang to her while I put her pajamas on, then gave her a big goodnight hug and kiss, and then she was off to sleepy land in no time. That was really nice, because some nights she will cry for quite a while before she finally falls asleep. But tonight she fell asleep almost right away.

When I originally bought my current computer, the first thing I did was wipe the hard drive and rebuild the machine from scratch. When I did that, I divided the main hard drive into two NTFS partitions. At the time I thought that would be handy, and four years ago, who needed 30 gigabytes of space on a single drive anyway? Well, over time I came to regret that decision, as software products got bigger and bigger. I started running out of room on the system partition, and I really wanted to combine the two partitions back into a single larger system partition. But Windows provides no way to resize an NTFS system partition once Windows is installed. So I started looking around at other options.

There are, of course, commercial products that can do what I needed to do, but for one simple partition enlargement, there was no way I was going to pay 50 or 60 dollars for something like Partition Magic. Eventually I found an open source project called GParted, and a version of the project packaged up as an really easy to use Linux Live CD. I did several web searches and all I could fine were positive comments and success stories.

So with good backups of everything safely burned onto DVDs, I blew away the second partition on my drive and then used GParted to extend the system partition to fill the entire disk. After running GParted, the first thing I did was reboot into a full check disk, and the check came back perfectly with no errors whatsoever. So now I’m right where I want to be. I have a single partition that fills the entire disk, and as a result I have a nice cushion of free space on my system drive. Based on my experience, I would recommend GParted as a great tool if you need to make changes to NTFS partitions.

I’ve posted before about how much I love “Lonely Runs Both Ways”, the latest album from Alison Krauss and Union Station, but I neglected to post a few weeks ago when the album won three Grammy awards. As far as I’m concerned, the awards were very well deserved, and I was thrilled to see their incredible album honored so highly. They won Best Country Album, Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for “Restless”), and Best Country Instrumental Performance (for “Unionhouse Branch”). And as great as those songs are, they are only the beginning of what is certainly one of my top five favorite albums of all time. If you don’t have this album yet, go buy it now!

I know I’ve had a string of more “technical” posts lately, but after this one I hope to get some normal stuff posted soon. Anyway, I discovered an amazing Firefox plugin recently, and it really helped me out today, so I wanted to share my experience. I had heard quite a bit about the “Web Developer” plugin for Firefox, and I downloaded and installed it a few days ago, but I hadn’t used it yet.

Then I got a comment on my latest CoppemineSC post from someone who was having a fairly odd formatting problem with the plugin. He and I traded emails for a little bit and, based on a screenshot of the problem that he sent me, I started to think that the root problem was probably related to the CSS for his blog theme. So I visited his site and used the Web Developer extension to view the CSS for his blog, which worked very nicely. I eventually discovered that he was floating left all of the images in his blog, and that was really the issue. I have every different element type that is inserted by CoppermineSC coded with unique class names to try to provide flexibility, and it turned out that, as far as I could tell, adding some specific CSS for one of those class names (to clear left so the text would move back to the far left) would solve the issue. But how to test it? It was the Web Developer extension to the rescue again. It has an awesome feature that lets you edit the CSS for site on the fly, and then apply the newly edited CSS to the page rendering. That meant that I could try out my fix and verify that it actually worked. I have to say, that feature is amazing. It was a breeze to use and it was exactly what I needed.

The Web Developer extension has all kinds of other options that I haven’t had the opportunity to experiment with yet, but judging by my experience with the CSS portion of the extension, this one is a must-have for developers.

Click “more” to see a list of all of the interesting web sites I found this week. I keep track of my favorite sites using del.icio.us, a free web site where you can access your favorite links from any computer and share them with friends. You can also see all of my favorite links (not just the ones from this week).


I needed to access a private newsgroup the other day to get help with a software product. Newgroups are getting rarer every day as more companies move to bulletin board systems instead, but in this case I needed a newsreader, and I didn’t have one installed on my machine. Sure, Outlook Express and Thunderbird have newgroup functionality, but I was looking for something a little more full featured.

Several years ago when newsgroups were more common, I used the FreeAgent reader, but I decided not to use it now for two main reasons. First, it hasn’t been updated in several years, and second, it doesn’t support multiple servers. Since some of the newsgroups I need to access are on a private news server, using FreeAgent would make it difficult to access news on another server.

So I started looking around for a new newsreader. There are several commercial applications out there and they look very good, but considering how infrequently I need to access newsgroups, I was looking for something free. I downloaded a wide variety of possibilities and eventually found Gravity.

Apparently Gravity used to be a commercial product, but it has since moved to open source. I have to say, the product is great. It has everything I was looking for, including options for multiple servers, and more configuration and customization options that I know what to do with. So now I’m a convert to Gravity and I’m very happy with it.

I find it kind of interesting that in selecting my web browser (Firefox), email client (Thunderbird), ftp client (FileZilla), and now newsreader (Gravity), in every choice I ended up picking something from the open source community. And that’s not because I limited myself only to open source alternatives, it’s because those programs turned out to be the very best products that met my needs.

UPDATE: Version 0.4.6 has been released. Please see this entry or my CoppermineSC page for the latest information.

Now that I have all of my Coppermine galleries converted to the new 1.4.3 release, I can safely say that the CoppermineSC plugin should work properly without any changes. The most recent 0.4.3 version of the plugin (originally released for WordPress 1.5.x and Coppermine 1.3.x) also works just fine with WordPress 2.0.1. If you have any problems with the plugin under the new versions of WordPress or Coppermine, please feel free to post a description of your issue in the comments.

Please also note that I still intend to release an updated version of the plugin incorporating various requests I have received from users. However, until that release comes, the current version should work just fine.

I finally have all four of my image galleries updated to the latest version of Coppermine (1.4.3). It took longer than I initially anticipated because only two of the four themes that I use had already been moved to the new format. That meant that I had to manually convert the other two themes myself. Thanks to the great instructions provided at the Coppermine website, it really wasn’t too hard. However, it was quite time consuming to correct all of the errors and get the themes to validate as XHTML 1.0 Transitional.

With the Coppermine transition complete, I now have all blogs and image galleries running the latest versions of their respective platforms. Futhermore, every page on my entire site now validates as either XHTML 1.0 Transitional, XHTML 1.0 Strict, or HTML 4.0 Transitional, which is great. I was thrilled to discover that Coppermine 1.4.3 now generates standards compliant code, because Coppermine had been the missing link in getting everything squared away.

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