Archives for August 2008

Asus Eee Box PC desktop setup testing

Yesterday was the first full day of testing out my recently purchased Asus Eee box PC. I used it for about an hour on Friday when first unpacking it from the box, and was pleasantly delighted. Yesterday I spent most of the day using the included Windows XP home operating system and adding software applications to be used in my office.

Eee PC Box Black

It’s still a messy set up as I haven’t yet decided on how I’m going to organize cables. I’m dealing with a really small space so this PC setup was perfect. I used to use a laptop here but it’s sort of defeated the purpose of having a desk since often times I have to hand write chart notes.

The current setup includes a 20 inch BenQ LCD monitor, a Plantronics CS 50 USB wireless headset, a mini Microsoft wireless mouse, and the keyboard that came with the Asus Eee box PC.

I’m thinking of changing out the monitor to use one that includes speakers. So far haven’t had any problems displaying at all resolutions tested for a monitor of this size. Understand I’m not playing games or doing heavy graphics work, most work done on this PC is going to be audio recording and transcription related.

I installed audacity (a free audio editor and recorder), GIMP (the GNU image manipulation program), PuTTY (a free telnet/ssh client), WinSCP (a free sftp and ftp client for windows), and Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 (non free speech recognition software for windows). The Plantronics headset didn’t require any drivers and worked with both Audacity and DragonDictate after adjusting basic audio settings.

A few things I like about this set up so far… 1) people are relaxing and receiving chiropractic care within a few feet of this desktop station. It is whispery quiet and I like that. 2) Its small enough to fit under the desk where no one can see it (but cool enough to leave on the desktop to show off and still not take up much space). 3) The combination I have set ups been able to handle audio recordings from my headset while standing anywhere in my office (including the x-ray developing room).

There is still quite a bit of training to be done with the transcription software, but I’ve used previous versions for nearly 10 years now, so I’ve got a pretty good hang of it. I’ll definitely be upgrading from the included 1GB of RAM to the 2GB capacity. Hopefully that will speed up the process when transcribing MP3 files to text or directly dictating to text.

I purchased an under drawer keyboard tray but it was too big for the area, thinking of developing a modified solution and not sure if I’ll continue using the provided keyboard.

I figure that within the next week I will mount the power strip and tuck away all the cables. I will take more pictures then and do an update to this post. I love new toys like this!

WordCamp 2008 Weekend Summary

This past weekend’s WordCamp in San Francisco renewed my spirit for WordPress and the ginormous community that supports it.

I’ve attended WordCamp events in the past, and they’ve been spectacular. The 2008 event however, exceeded all expectations I had.

wordpress-schwag

WordPress Schwag

It started with a hasslefree flight to San Francisco Airport from LAX at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I had volunteered to assist while at WordCamp so why was internally a bit nervous about experiencing flight delays. Fortunately, my geek traveling buddy Curtis Cunningham and myself, made it to SFO airport early (thanks SWA), getting us to the convention center before the nine o’clock registration.

Unlike San Francisco WordCamp 2006 and 2007, this event was held at the Mission Bay Conference Center instead of the Swedish-American hall. In my experience, the conference center at UCSF was an excellent place to hold this event.

We hopped out of a cab in front of a welcoming WordCamp San Francisco placard. Of course we stopped to take photos in front of it, as did nearly every other person I saw getting out of taxis at our time of arrival.

WordCamp San Francisco 2008

We are in the right place -- WordCamp San Francisco 2008

Registration was a breeze and I really liked how the name tags included avatars (gravatars), blog URLs, and first names in bold letters. WordCamp staff and volunteers did an excellent job with those. Who has a photo of one?

I was in the second floor sessions all day didn’t get a chance to listen to any of the developer sessions that were held down stairs. If anyone has some good summaries of those, leave a comment and I’ll update this with some links.

Among presentations given upstairs were an SEO basic and best WordPress practices presented by Stephen Spencer of Netconcepts. He gave some great tips regarding optimizing pages so they don’t squander crawl equity, talked about offering more than one RSS feed, and discussed the importance of properly formatted SEO title tags. Although I’m aware of the practice, I was reminded to no index and no follow link use going to my admin pages on WordPress sites.

Ben Huh of I Can Has Cheezburger did a funny presentation on how to Achieve Viral Virility. The summary of his presentation was don’t be a Dick. He graciously uploaded the PDF presentation for anyone that wants to view it.

Aaron Brazell had kicked off the morning with a presentation on Search and Findability which was brought across again later in the day by Tantek Çelik and his presentation on microformats. Each presentation on Saturday seemed to build on the last, inspiring me with new ideas and motivations for getting things done.

I saw lots of familiar faces from WordCamps and BarCamps past and got to be face-to-face with lots of people I had only known from twitter profiles. I was reminded that when at events like these you should make an effort to introduce yourself to the guys and gals sitting next to you, as you may have already been conversing with them online.

When Matt Mullenweg was giving his State of the WordPress talk the guy next to me was excitedly publishing a post regarding WordPress favorite plug-ins. It turned out to be Chris Heuer, founder of Social Media Club. Being that I just spoke two weeks previously at a Social Media Club Los Angeles (SMCLA) meetup (thanks to Mahalo.com for hosting the event) with Jackie Peters, Nicole Jordan, Brian Solis, and Robert Richman, I thought I’d introduce myself and say thanks for bringing SMC to LA.

Steven Zabronsky & Derik Anderson

Steven Zabronsky & Derik Anderson

Chiropractor turned SEO, Steven Zabronsky introduced himself when we were at the Genius Bar on the first floor. Turns out he and business partner Derik Anderson (also a chiropractor) operate a company called Rocket SEO.

Not only were the presentations above my expectations, at a really good time hanging out with Curtis, Patrick Sexton, Todd Malicoat, Stephen Spencer, and David Klein (another chiropractor).

When it comes to the food I ate, I could have used the Saturday session as a carb loading day preparing for a marathon. Caffeine, bagels, some kind of sweet sugary pastries, followed by more bagels, macaroni and cheese, tri tip beef and barbecued chicken, pizza & Anchor Steam beer, and lots and lots of hefeweizen at the Saturday night open bar.

Finding pizza was an adventure. Since I pay a monthly service fee I was determined to use the GPS on my Verizon LG Voyager. As a discovered, it works better when you are in an automobile or some kind of moving vehicle. We did locate some great pizza on Potrero Hill at a place called Goat Hill Pizza. Excellent pies and hot wings with ranch dressing. Having not paid attention and just following the GPS, we ended up walking a few miles in the opposite direction of the after party, which was at Pete’s Tavern on King Street. That was some good exercise walking back.

Since we were leaving Sunday and were going to be out late I figured we were better off booking a hotel near the San Francisco airport so we wouldn’t have to get up too early for transportation. The Marriott Hotel did us right (although it was a few miles further from the airport than I expected).

We were fairly wasted when leaving the bar Saturday night and I hailed a cab ride outside the pub. The cabbie decided the rate was meter and a half (neither Curtis or I have ever heard of such a thing) since we were technically traveling into San Mateo. While the meter at the end of the trip read $44 and change, the driver calculated the total in his head to be about 80 bucks. I put it on my AMEX and figured I to check into the legitimacy later. Too drunk to argue.

Two of the idea highlights I had from the weekend were thoughts on a new WordPress plug-in that involves conditional IP redirection. Some of the guys I was hanging out with inspired me to hammer out some of my ideas and experiences dealing with big Yellow Page type companies and how they are extorting millions of dollars from business owners all across North America. Lots of blog post ideas from that.

If you’ve stuck around this far, here is a link to my wordcamp 2008 flickr set.

BTW, think I’ll be blogging here more often, so I’ve got a start working on a theme that successfully  encompasses the different activities I’m engaged in.

Top 9 WordPress Plugins

Top 9 WordPress plugins according to Ma.tt (list created yesterday while at Wordcamp SF 2008)

I’ll update details and links later. For now getting this posted as a reminder to get my own plugins updated.

9) wp-polls
8. wp automatic upgrade
7) wp cache
6) wp backup
5) wp-stats
4) nextgen-gallery
3) google sitemaps
2) all in one seo pack
1) akismet

Top 9 list as of August 16, 2008

My thoughts — I assume most users are moiving to super cache over wp cache.

Calling on Some Local Search Gurus

I’ve been holding off on posting a lot of tech related content on my chiropractic web sites because most of its just not suitable for the audience. I currently work out ideas on a huge Whiteboard in my home office but I want to begin posting some thoughts publicly in hopes of getting interaction, advice, and wisdom from those facing similar projects. I figure here is as good a place as any to begin.

I am volunteering some local SEO gurus into my brain trust. My early list includes Andrew Shotland, Mike Blumenthal, David Mihm, and Matt McGee. I’ll add more as I expand on my thinking and project development.

Here’s my thought of the day…

Develop a Central Address Database Strategy

This may appear really simple but I’m currently stuck on how to best implement for ease of use. Each day I come across address, phone, and URL information for chiropractic offices across the United States. Some come by e-mail, some I discover on web sites, some are on business cards, some get written on note paper and handed to me at conferences (basically there are lots of sources on any given day).

My thought is to assign the development and management of the database to one person so that I can cut-and-paste or scan and e-mail info and be done with it. I vision a simple web-based interface were someone can administrate records to be added and/or modified for the day. That database would be readable by any directory web sites I own or choose to partner with, would integrate with local WordPress blogs, and basically be readable by any sites I’ve allowed on the administrative end to pull local address data.

I imagine there are some pre-existing solutions but I prefer to think this out in advance to avoid the most limiting blocks to achieving the goal of providing consistently updated information across a network of sites and online properties.

If there are any contributing thoughts, I’d appreciate reading them.