New Theme Choice

New Theme Choice

Well, I think I’ve finally found myself the perfect theme. The theme I am using now is a modified version of the now famous theme ‘Hemingway’. The modified version that I am currently using was created by a fellow named Sadish Bala at WPThemes.Info. This guy is a saint for sure. He did a wonderful job updating this theme, and I’m extremely happy with the look. I think I just got tired of the simpla theme. It didn’t leave much in the way of flexibility with navigation and what have you – but it still looked nice. it looked especially nice with the update I gave it.

Continue reading →

The ‘Do Follow’ Blog: Backlinks and Comments Ahoy!

The ‘Do Follow’ Blog: Backlinks and Comments Ahoy!

I have decided, after 10 seconds of deliberation, to install a ‘do follow’ plugin for my WordPress blog. By default, WordPress slaps on a ‘no follow’ tag to any link that is user created, like a link in a comment for example. The no follow tag would then tell Google to skip over indexing that link. This was originally designed as sort of a spam deterrent. The consequence of using the no follow tag by default means that folks who comment do not get ‘link juice’ from the blog they are commenting on. ‘Link juice’ is a loose sort of term more commonly referred to as ‘back links’. Any self respecting blogger knows that back links are important to the growth of your blog.

Back links, or incoming links are critical to a blog or website. These represent the importance, authority, or popularity, of the website being linked to. The amount of incoming links a site receives directly affects it’s page rank. As every blogger knows, a higher page rank means more visitors, and more visitors could potentially lead to more money happiness.

Commenting on a blog, popular or not, that supports do follow linking, like this one, will increase the amount of back links you have. For you, a blog owner, that means that you should do your best to locate some do follow blogs to comment on. Luckily for you, I’m here to help! It should be said that even though a do follow blog has more of a commenting incentive, that doesn’t mean we should ignore our blogging friends that still support no follow. You should do your best to comment on anything you find interesting.

Do Follow Directories

During my travels, I’ve come across a few blogs that support do follow links, but I’m also come across some directories and lists. I’ll let you make up your mind on what to use, but here are some resources for you.

  1. Do Follow Blogs with good google page rank
  2. Do Follow blogs Directory
  3. Do Follow List of Lists
  4. Do Follow Directory
  5. Blogs That Follow
  6. Skeet’s Do Follow Blogroll
  7. Follow List
  8. Do Follow Community on Bumpzee
  9. D-List

There are more for sure, and if you spot any lists feel free to drop a comment, and I’ll add them to my list

I want this on my blog!

If you want to add do follow functionality to your blog you are in luck. The process is as simple as installing a plugin. A fellow named Andy Beard has a pretty nice list of available plugins. Alternatively, you could install a plugin like CommentLuv that will throw a link to the commentator’s last blog entry.

Words to The Wise

Be careful! These days, the quest for getting traffic is a bit of a cutthroat business. Everyone wants to make money, and make it fast. You, as an honest blogger, need to take steps to protect yourself from people who are out to make a quick buck by disguising themselves as do follow bloggers who just want the increased page views and comments. You can do this by installing the Firefox SEO plugin.

Closing Thoughts

I love comments, I do. I like to leave them and receive them. I think they build community between bloggers, and they add a level of hard feedback to a person’s writing. It’s not rare to see a comment actually add something to an article after the author sees it, and does some editing. It’s a special thing to see that sort of interaction between the speaker and his audience.

Try not to get caught up in all this ‘igottahavetonsofvisitorsandalargepagerank’ craze. It’s not worth the headache. Blog for yourself and you’ll be fine.

Law and Order

Law and Order

 

Have you ever been so involved in a book that you just couldn’t put it down? Did you just have to get to the next chapter? I like reading books, and I often find myself in that same situation more often than not. I also enjoy watching television, but I often don’t get as absorbed into the programming as I normally would had I been reading a good book. I can’t say for sure if this is due to lack of an imaginary or engaging storyline, or lack of the natural imaginative stimulation that is naturally involved with the reading of the book. Really, I’m not sure I care – but the bottom line is that TV always seems to be a little less engaging because it doesn’t involve enough of the ‘mental aerobics’ that comes along with the written word. I’m here to warn you that the ‘crime drama’ genre slaps those assumptions in the face.

Seriously, I think I have a Law and Order addiction.

The What

Crime Drama is an exciting bit of television. It is engaging, full of suspense, easy to watch, and generally very entertaining. to put it bluntly, if I start watching an episode of Law and Order – I won’t be able to stop watching until the program is finished, and Jack McCoy has successfully branded a criminal with his justice. I can’t really logically explain my fascination with watching crime drama – and specifically the drama of Law and Order (and all of it’s subsequent variants: criminal intent, SVU, ect.).

Why is this so? Why do shows like Monk, Psych, CSI, and Law and Order captivate audiences (read: me) in this way? What makes these shows so fascinating? I’m not sure if it’s that I’m interested in the criminal mind, or if I’m more interested in solving the case before the investigators, but I can tell you that with each episode that I watch I feel like my time is not wasted in front of the TV. I can’t fully explain why I feel that way, but before I repeat my thoughts too much – I’ll move on to explaining why I think that is.

The How

I think the answer to my question of why these shows entertain the way they do, is because they force us to become involved in the story. Lets pause for a brief moment and evaluate what that means for us, the viewer. The writers of these shows know their audiences. it could be said with reasonable accuracy that the demographics of the viewers who watch a show like Law and Order vary greatly from those of a show like Monk, or Psych.

Law and Order plays on suspense, and uses this to grip us in such a way that we watch until we find out how the episode wraps up. Most of the episodes follow the same sort of rhythm, and are very enjoyable because while they also engage us with a storyline, they throw us curve balls along the way that sort of shake up the flow of said storyline. The show moves in a way that allows you to see a sort of cross section of an entire investigation from the actual criminal act to the prosecution of the criminal. We get to see many characters interact, and we become attached to them. It’s also fun to see the justice system at work – even inside of a fictional television show.

It seems to me that shows like Monk and Psych play a little less on suspense and place more value on humor and the sort of ‘whodunnit?’ sort of track. The undoubtedly makes for good TV because the show entertains you while it teases your brain. Law and Order is a little more straight forward in this area because they have clearly definable good and evil characters. However, these other shows blur the lines a little when they introduce characters so it isn’t clear exactly who is playing for what team.

Really, both of these areas inside of the crime drama genre have their strengths and weaknesses, but I think it’s best for someone to figure out for themselves what they enjoy. now would be a good time for you to do that.

“Hand me the TV guide!” or The Why

My thoughts on the genre of crime drama are pretty clear. Suffice to say, I really enjoy watching these shows. I think the reason that I enjoy them so much is because the not only entertain, as I mentioned quite a few times in the preceding paragraphs, but that they also force someone like me, the viewer, to do some ‘mental aerobics’ while I follow the investigation of a crime. I like engaging content, and crime drama gives that to me. It catches my attention with a crime, and then ambushes me with drama. Whether it’s the witty sarcastic remarks of the detectives in Law and Order, the wacky antics of the germaphobic detective named ‘Monk’, or even the ramblings of a fake psychic detective in the show ‘Psych’ – I am satisfied with engaging drama, and that’s what’s important.

If you haven’t already, I’d advise you check your local listings for one of these programs. Of course I can’t guarantee you’ll find these shows as attractive as I do, but it’s worth a try. So please, the next time you think there’s nothing on TV worth watching – check out these shows. You probably won’t be disappointed.

Some shows to choose from might include:

  • Law and Order
  • Monk
  • Psych
  • CSI
  • The Closer
  • Numbers
  • Really, the list goes on. don’t even get me started with the older shows

Redirect non-WWW traffic!

Redirect non-WWW traffic!

The Problem

Search engines consider web addresses with the ‘www.’ prefix to be different from the same address without the prefix. For example ‘http://www.theangrywalrus.com’ will be seen as different compared to ‘http://theangrywalrus.com’. This becomes a problem because a lack of consistency throughout your site can be harmful to your page rank – and no aspiring blogger needs that sort of thing on his/her mind.

Luckily for us, there is a simple fix for this. We will add 3 lines of code to the .htaccess file located on our server. This will redirect all the traffic from our non-WWW address to our WWW address. When I made this change I didn’t have anything written in my .htaccess file, but if you do, it goes without saying that a backup should certainly be made before any changes are made and the file re-uploaded. Be smart people!

The Fix

Here are the simple steps that you need to go through to make this simple change:

  1. Retrieve your .htaccess file from your server
  2. Create a backup of the above file
  3. Add the code below, and then re-upload

Here is the code that I used to achieve this redirect. I have substituted my blogs address so you can see just exactly how this works. This code also uses a wild card * that will grab whatever comes after the ‘.com/’ and apply it to the redirect if necessary. The code contained in this article only works if your server is using Apache.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^theangrywalrus.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.theangrywalrus.com/$1 [L,R=301]

That’s all there is to it; happy blogging everyone.

I joined the USCF!

I joined the USCF!

 

Recently, on a bit of a whim, I decided to finally take the plunge and join the USCF – the United States Chess Federation. For a long time now I’ve been fairly interested in the game of chess. It’s been a part of the world for hundreds of years, it’s been played by famous historical figures from all over the world, kings and paupers alike. the history of the game is immensely deep and equally as inspiring – I suppose you could say that I was a little intoxicated, and inspired by the constant presence of chess throughout history; I was inspired enough to learn the game and make it a part of my life. I think if I had to attribute my interest in chess to anything, it would probably be the exploits of the infamous Bobby Fischer during the times of the Cold War – when the United States(Fischer) went head to head with the Russians(Spassky) in the World Chess Championship in 1972. I wanted to be a part of that history too.

So I started playing, and I really enjoyed myself. It’s a wonderful game that depends solely on a player’s skill – and not his or her luck. The more precise a player is, the better he or she will perform inside of chess. For a Computer Science nerd like me, chess is the perfect game. I started playing chess online, and since then I’ve never looked back.

Despite all the games I had played (and mostly lost) online, I never became a huge expert on the game. I had an atrocious win/loss record, and had difficulty beating even the most mediocre opponents. My interest in the game started to wain because my ‘game’ wasn’t doing so great. Fortunately, I recently enrolled in a class at my school called ‘Philosophy of Chess’. It’s a seminar class offered to freshman in an effort to fulfill some random liberal arts requirements… anyway… In short, the class inspired me to get a little more serious about playing the game, and it reminded me of why I started playing the game in the first place. So after the third week of school, and the third week of philosophy class, I decided to finally go through with what I wanted to do a year earlier when I first started playing; I finally joined the USCF.

I’ll now be able to participate in USCF affiliated tournaments, and become a rated player. I’m not sure how well I’ll do, but I’m determined to have fun – and that’s what’s really important to me. I’m also planning on joining a chess club here in the city of Chicago, and even possibly play some of the veteran players at Chicago’s Chess Pavilion located at North Avenue Beach (but only when it gets warmer out!).

Check it out, I’m currently unrated, but after my first tournament I’ll be given a rating which you can find here.

The Well Equipped Walrus

The Well Equipped Walrus

I mentioned in my New Years Resolutions article/list about myself launching a new website. I’ve been working in secret the last couple weeks on The Well Equipped Walrus – a sort of online catalog aimed primarily at men.

From the Well-Equipped Walrus’s about page:

The Well-Equipped Walrus is a sister site to The Angry Walrus blog. The Well-Equipped Walrus is a buyer’s guide in the form of a web log, or blog. Run by men, for men. Specifically, it is run by the same fellow who runs the blog at the sister site – me, Matthew Young.

The idea behind this shopping portal is simple. I do a lot of web surfing, naturally, I’ve been exposed to lots of different kinds of products. The Well-Equipped Walrus is here to gather all of my findings into a single easy to navigate catalog aimed specifically at men. Why am I throwing this whole thing together? Because I believe that men are misunderstood, and typecast as senseless brutes. I’m here to prove by example that all men secretly have fantastic tastes that rival even the most cultured aristocrats. In short, guys want cool stuff – and I’m here to bring all that stuff into one easily browseable location. The site also makes a fantastic gift guide aimed at men.

Items on the catalog are divided into four major areas. Clothing, Entertainment, Gadgets, and Living. The Living category contains all the essential items a man needs to survive. The Gadgets section contains quite a few interesting technical marvels. the Entertainment section holds various forms of multimedia including, but not limited to, video games, movies, books, and music. The clothing section is a collection of fantastic threads from all over the internet.

I hope you enjoy your time spent here at The Well-Equipped Walrus. Enjoy your stay, and feel free to browse around.

I’m pretty excited now having launched this new site – I’m also pretty proud of myself, considering I did a little bit of fancy PHP work to assist things on the back-end. If you’re at all interested, I encourage you to give the selection a quick browse – if you’re really interested, there is an RSS feed available. The product selection will be constantly expanding, so don’t miss anything!

A New Decade

A New Decade

Today we arrived at January 1st, 2010. It’s the start of a new year, and a new decade. This past year, your humble drafter of substandard prose made the inevitable, but depressing exodus from his teenage years. I turned twenty in October, and today I face the realization that some day soon I will have to grow up, and give up some of the more childish habits that I have. It’s a scary proposition to be sure, and to be honest, I’m not sure I’m ready, and I’m absolutely sure that I am scared shitless about any future without the careless attitude that my teenage years afforded me. Reading over that last sentence, it’s almost comical that I’m now able to say that, but I think turning twenty has had some kind of deep psychological effect on me – well maybe a moderately shallow effect – but one that will last. I’m a little drunk, so forgive my self indulgence.

I don’t want to be forced to grow up. I don’t want to. I’m almost half way through college, I’m not sure what I want to do with my life, the little free time I have goes towards homework, and soon enough, in the summer time, my time will be given to a part time job. Soon after that, no doubt in the blink of an eye, I’ll be graduated from college, I’ll have a full time job, and responsibilities to people other than myself.

I could go on for at least a thousand or so more words about how I feel about turning twenty, or the new responsibilities that I may or may not have in the near and further future, but I don’t think that’s going to be beneficial for anyone, certainly not for me and my nerves. So what about resolutions for the new year? If things in my lie are going to change I may as well be the first to strike. For the new year, I plan on doing things a little differently than I have in years past.

1. Write more computer programs
2. Finish Real World Haskell, and LEARN it.
3.Work harder in school
4. A’s and B’s
5. End my streak of rampant procrastination
6. Watch more movies/learn about movies/appreciate film
7. Read more books
8. Keep up with friends
9. Have fun
10. Don’t let stress ruin anything

A list of ten things, I think, might be doable. Wish me luck.

Dennis Kucinich, interviewed by reddit

Dennis Kucinich, interviewed by reddit

Being a member of the reddit community has been probably one of the most rewarding things brought by my internet adventures. in these reddit interviews, questions are submitted by users, and the best ones are used in interviews. The interview that I’m posting right now is with Democratic Senator Dennis Kucinich, though there a growing number of others that can be found on youtube, so you can click through the video and begin your search there. I always enjoy these interviews, especially interviews with politicians, because we get a lot more than the grand total of 45 seconds given to them on the nightly pundit circus that our major news networks masquerade as proper news coverage. Before I digress into something that warrants me to re brand this post as something other than a ‘random thought’, I would like to say that I have great respect for Dennis Kucinich, and I enjoyed this interview that the folks at reddit did with him. Unlike the pundit charade, the questions were sharp and relevant. I think that insightful interviews like this are invaluable, and make the world of politics a great deal more accessible than it would otherwise be. No spin, no nonsense, just talk.

For your viewing pleasure:

Sweet Disposition

Sweet Disposition

I’ve been a huge fan of Joseph Gordon Levitt ever since I saw him in Rian Johnson’s Brick. I was finally able to see his newest movie, 500 Days of Summer, directed by Marc Webb. I was really happy that I was finally able to see it, because I have wanted to for a long time. I had to wait for it to come out on video because, like Inglorious Basterds, I wasn’t able to see it at the theatre – though, somehow I ended up seeing Disney’s Princess and the Frog. I need to straighten out my movie priorities. I digress. 500 Days of Summer had a really enjoyable soundtrack – it’s not everyday that I get to hear the Smiths in a movie, or hear Joseph Gordon Levitt sing Here Comes Your Man (That might be a bonus track, actually). However, the song I was most impressed with I had almost forgotten about until I heard it in a commercial on television literally 15 minutes ago. My favorite song from the film is called ‘Sweet Disposition’, by Australian band The Temper Trap. I’ve hyperlinked their MySpace Music page for you, because I’m a cool guy and I felt like it would lead to me possibly being able to say the word hyperlink. Hyperlink! Right. This song has just about everything that I’m looking for in a song at this current reading of my musical tastes. Vocal harmonies, major key tonality, and electronic instrumentation are all things that Pandora is telling me that I am into these days, and it’s true, I am.

I thought this song worked brilliantly for the movie, and now it’s hard at work in my iTunes play list.

The Human Animal

The Human Animal

The Human Animal is a six part BBC documentary series that was originally broadcast in 1994, and hosted by Desmond Morris – a famous British Zoologist. What struck me interesting about this series is that the human species is studied, and presented in a similar fashion as the animals you would see on Wild Kingdom, or Planet Earth; in Morris’s own words, the series is “A study of human behavior from a zoological perspective.” For me this cross section of the human race was particularly interesting because studying the behavior of humans in this manner one would use to study the daily habits of a pride of lions is such a foreign concept. The six part series, each part being fifty minutes, covers a large amount of ground, and presents a fantastic amount of meaningful and well presented information. Of course, because the series is from 1994, some of the visuals are a bit dated, but this takes very little away from the series as a whole. If you are interested in documentary films at all, I recommend at least trying out the first episode below:

The rest of the links will take you to the Google Video Pages of these episodes:
2. The Hunting Ape
3. The Human Zoo
4. The Biology of Love
5. The Immortal Genes
6. Beyond Survival

A Response to ‘You Don’t Know That Programming Language’

A Response to ‘You Don’t Know That Programming Language’

 

Tony over at the Computer Science Canada blog wrote an article on the 8th of June about what it means to master a programming language. The article raised the question of deciding what it means to ‘know a language’. The article also suggested that there are things that are way more important than memorizing java’s String methods – like algorithms and and design methodology. I am inclined to agree with Tony, that yes, these things are more important than syntax.

The Trouble

Recently, my travels in the area of programming have been limited to an AP Computer Science class that I took in my senior year of High School. Personally, I did well in the class – I finished with an A. However, some of the kids in the class didn’t do as well as the other Seniors and I think that this was because they were hung up on Java’s syntax rather than what the program actually needed to accomplish at an algorithmic level.

Our teacher was a guy who was on the job teaching this AP stuff for over 20 years. He knew his stuff. He gave us tough assignments that made us work hard, and I enjoyed it. The class was much more challenging than any other classes that I had taken in school. Our teacher required that we think about each problem that was assigned, and then design and implement an algorithm to solve the problem. This was Computer Science! For most of the class, this wasn’t anything new however. A good portion of the students were programming long before they were seniors, myself included. The kids who hadn’t done any programming were having some hangups on the more complex assignments. I think this is because these kids were not able to successfully wrap their heads around how things in their programs actually work.

I can say from personal experience that when I started programming for the first time I was completely focused on syntax. I hadn’t been exposed to programming languages other than C++. I didn’t know anything about what Python, Java, Pascal, or Lisp looked like. For all I knew, it was the same stuff. I understood basic concepts – but I wasn’t able to get anywhere because my thoughts weren’t focused on solving problems, but rather syntax. Programming isn’t for the feint of heart, it’s something you have to work at – something I’m still working at. in a perfect world, a languages syntax wouldn’t matter at all. This isn’t the case in real life. I was hung up on syntax errors and warnings trying to get all these dated internet tutorials to work – but to no avail. I gave up and moved on – only to revisit this in high school.

How I was fixed

In high school I was fortunate to have access to a Computer Science class. Taking an actual class, for me, was so much more rewarding than trying to follow a tutorial on the internet that pretty much just summed up the syntax of the language without any demonstration of practical use or application. Taking this class allowed me to gather a greater grasp of what actually made up a program. It helped me see past the semicolons and parenthesis into the world of algorithmic complexity. I was enlightened. We learned about algorithms, and the bits that make up algorithms. We learned to see beyond syntax.

We learned a lot about programming, and the entire class ended up teaching each other. It was a really good experience. The kids that struggled eventually caught up, and all was right in the world. We learned to use the online documentation. I still have the sneaking suspicion that the code completion feature of the Net Beans IDE gave the stragglers a chance to skip over syntax…I know it helped me.

Yeah, and?

Forgive the rambling, I’m getting a little carried away about the subject. The moral of the story is: programmers have to see beyond syntax. They have to see the big picture. A real programmer needs to be adaptable, and in order to be adaptable, you have to learn how to apply syntax to concepts, and not concepts to syntax. I’m doing my best to become a real programmer. Are you? It’s not too late! Take an algorithms class!

How To Video at WonderHowTo.com!

How To Video at WonderHowTo.com!

Any internet user worth his salt know that finding a decent how to video can be a huge challenge – no matter what the topic is. I think I’ve found a way to overcome the challenge of finding high quality instructional videos. How? WonderHowTo.com.

WonderHowTo.com is a video tutorial website that offers quality instructional videos in a multitude of topics. As of right now there are 36 different topics, and 431 subcategories to choose from. There are 135986 videos currently available for viewing, and each one offers an in depth tutorial on the selected topic. Topics range from dancing all the way to disaster preparation. Even a text based tutorial site with this much variety is hard to come by – but the creators managed to bring together thousands of videos to a single place all for the benefit of the user.

Speaking of users, the site boasts a very strong and dedicated user base, with new videos being submitted all the time. Each user that joins the community is able to create a user profile, post videos, comment on videos, rate videos, send messages to other members, and make video playlists. Think of the site as an educational YouTube, without the cranky user base. Submitting a video is also made insanely simple, because all you need is the URL to a how to video!

To sum it all up, the site is a valuable resource to any internet user looking to learn something in the form of educational video. The videos are of the highest quality and each is sure to teach you something. The staffers worked very hard to bring this service together, and they did a fantastic job of doing so. I highly recommend you give the site a visit as soon as humanly possible.

Large Hadron Collider: Countdown To Destruction! Right?

 

As some of you surely know, an extremely large particle accelerator has been built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). The beast is located somewhat near Geneva, Switzerland – but passes over the French-Swiss border due to it’s massive size of seventeen miles. It was built through a collective effort of two thousand physicists and engineers in over one hundred and eleven countries worldwide. The accelerator has also gathered the collective support of universities and laboratories worldwide. It has been under construction for over fourteen years

The main goal of the collier is to find something scientists know as the ‘Higgs Boson‘ particle. This thing, also known as the ‘god’ particle, is said to be the piece that holds together massless elementary particles construct mass in matter. It is the only particle in the Standard Model of particle physics that has not been observed by scientists. To be entirely truthful, there is a lot of background information on the subject that is quite far above my head – so I’ll spare you the cheap summary and let you discover these terms for yourself if you wish. The short of it is, that the confirmation of the particle’s existence is very important to Science because it is thought to give mass to everything in the universe.

Mayhem, death, ect…

So why the countdown to destruction you say? Good question. The accelerator is supposed to attempt to recreate the universal conditions at the time of the big bang, and in doing so record the existence of the Higgs Boson particle. There was a lawsuit a while back that voiced concerns about the subject. People have been vocal about concerns that the collider, in the search for the god particle, could potentially cause a bit of a black hole that might swallow the earth.

Nothing major! Right? Well most scientists dismiss this claim as little more than pish posh – but should we really let these CERN folks play with the safety of the planet (the galaxy even)? There are some people who believe the creation of a mini black hole could be possible. It seems that scientists associated with the project seem to think that the thing is entirely harmless – I think I’m a bit more skeptical about the collider. I think that before these scientists are 100% sure that the collider will not cause a major life-snuffing environmental disaster, they should probably not go through with recreating the big bang.

I’d rather be safe than stuck inside some sort of singularity. According to the countdown I’ve linked above – we have about 5 days until we see some action. Of course, assuming the accelerator doesn’t destroy our galaxy – it has the potential to open doors to a lot of cool new science that could impact our existance in a profound way. Either way, I’m excited, but it is important to remember that theoretical physics is still theoretical so really, anything could happen. Safe?

Randomize Your WordPress Blog’s Description Using PHP!

Randomize Your WordPress Blog’s Description Using PHP!

When i first set up my blog, I entered a little description into a little box, and when the title of my blog was displayed, my lame, and equally small, little nugget of wit was displayed under my blog’s title.

That’s fine, but I wasn’t satisfied with having something so static and mundane on my page. I wanted something that would not only show my blog’s humorous potential, but I also wanted something that would be fun and entertaining for my visitors. I opted to write a simple PHP script that would load ‘quotes’ from a text file and display them randomly each time a page on my blog is displayed.This would allow me to express myself in a way that would be not only comfortable to my visitors, but allow me to keep some amount of sincerity in my articles!

To pull this off, you will need to feel comfortable in editing part of your blog’s theme. This can be done through the blog’s admin area. Also, it would be helpful to have some fluency in working with PHP – if not just to understand how the script works.

Random you say?

Firstly, we will need ourselves a text file. In order to work with our script, the file will need to have your ‘quotes’ placed one on each line of the file. There needs to be at least one quote for the script to work. You can save your text file as whatever you like, as long as the file retains the ‘.txt’ extension. At this point you’ll want to get this file uploaded to your web server. Make a note of where it is uploaded to, because we’ll need to use the address in our PHP script.

The script itself is simple. It reads in each line of the file, and randomly displays one of the lines each time the script is loaded. Simple error checking has been accounted for – and the script will display rudimentary error messages if the file can’t be opened, or there isn’t anything to display. the script can be seen below:

<?php 
     $file = file('http://ect/ectquotes.txt');
     if ($file != false)
          {
               $count = count($file);
               if ($count > 0)
                    {
                         shuffle($file);
                         echo $file[0];
                     }
               else
                     {
                         echo 'File empty';
                      }
           }
     else
          {
               echo 'Failed opening file';
          }
?>

At this point, you’ll want to replace the address in the script with the address of your text file. When that’s finished, the script can be placed into your blog. Where to put it you ask? We’ll need to go to the ‘design’ tab within the admin panel. Once there, we’ll have to go to the ‘manage theme’ tab. Then, we’ll need to open the ‘theme editor’ for whichever theme you’d like to apply this script to. Lets take a moment to examine our surroundings, shall we? This is the WordPress theme editor. Out of all my WordPress Blog’s features I think this one is certainly one of the neatest – for many reasons of course. the theme editor allows you to make either small, or large sweeping changes to your blog’s theme without having to upload files to the server. I think having that sort of functionality makes it easier on me when I do things like this to my blog. It saves me time by keeping things all in one place – but enough about that! Back to business!

When you’ve successfully navigated to your blog’s theme editor, you’ll want to edit your theme’s ‘header.php’ file. If you look at the right hand side of your browser window, you shoul be able to see the list of all the files your theme makes use of, and the ‘header.php’ file should certainly be one of them. Click it.

Now would be a good time to make a backup, in the event we make a mistake when we edit the thing.

Because each theme is structured differently, I can’t really tell you exactly what lines we need to find. What I can tell you, however, is that we are looking for a tag that holds the attribute of ‘description’. It will be right at the bottom of the header file. The theme that my blog uses originally had the file set up like this:

<div id="header"><h1><a href="<?php echo get_settings('home'); ?>/"><?php bloginfo('name'); ?></a></h1>
<p class="description"><?php bloginfo('description'); ?></p>
</div>

As you can see, this displays our blog’s title inside of the ‘h1′ tag, but it also displays our blog’s description inside of the ‘p’ tag below that. We want to replace our blog’s description with our PHP script, so we’ll erase the call to the bloginfo() function with our PHP script. Here is what the change should look like when finished:

<div id="header"><h1><a href="<?php echo get_settings('home'); ?>/"><?php bloginfo('name'); ?></a></h1>
<p class="description" style="color:#b4c24b;" >
<?php 
     $file = file('http://ect/ectquotes.txt');
     if ($file != false)
          {
               $count = count($file);
               if ($count > 0)
                    {
                         shuffle($file);
                         echo $file[0];
                     }
               else
                     {
                         echo 'File empty';
                      }
           }
     else
          {
               echo 'Failed opening file';
          }
?>
</p>
</div>

We’ve just simply replaced the call to the bloginfo() function inside of the ‘p’ tag with our script. that wasn’t so bad, right? You should now save any changes you’ve made – and check to make sure everything is working as it should be. If you like, refresh the page a couple times to see your different sayings appear.

fin

Really, it’s a simple little change that adds a lot to your blog. It’s fun for you and your visitors, and it gives a little something extra to your space. If you have any comments or concerns regarding the implementation of the script, please leave a comment. Happy blogging!

How To Survive Meeting Your Girlfriend’s Extended Family

How To Survive Meeting Your Girlfriend’s Extended Family

Just the other day I had the opportunity to meet my girlfriend’s extended family via a graduation party. By extended family, I mean the Cousins, Uncles, god parents, and family friends. Needless to say I was a little worried about being thrown into a party with these folks, especially a party with copious amounts of alcohol available. I was nervous about meeting these people before I learned about the booze, but after I got there and saw all the drinks, I was terrified – especially because my girlfriend made it known to me that her family has a knack for ‘messing’ with people. Lovely, I thought.

I decided to go to the party a little early to visit with my girlfriend, and to possibly help set some stuff up. Possibly put out food, drinks, or whatever was needed. I was happy to help because I knew things were hectic around the house beforehand. Because I was there early, I was able to meet people as they arrived. I was ‘the boyfriend’, so all the concerned relatives were eager to meet me to see what sort of fellow I am. More importantly, because the guests arrived slowly, I was able to follow some simple guidelines I set for myself before the party. Normally I wouldn’t have bothered with this, but like I said, I was nervous about meeting these people! The checklist is as follows:

  1. Be Friendly
  2. Greet with a firm handshake
  3. Make Smalltalk, but not too much!
  4. Ask Questions, but not too many!
  5. Roll with punches
  6. Don’t misrepresent yourself(myself)
  7. Be patient
  8. Wear camouflage and hide in bushes

My plan was pretty simple. I wanted to be kind and courteous in order to make a good impression. Making a good impression, I have read, is important when meeting people. It is argued as one of the most crucial points in a new relationship with someone – and if you don’t make it a decent one you run the risk or misrepresenting yourself, and no one wants that.

Thankfully, I wasn’t alone. My lovely girlfriend was there to introduce me to her family, who were all pretty nice folks. I was equally thankful that the main focus wasn’t on me. Most of the relatives were content with conversing with one another, and that made me relieved because I got a chance to talk with other friends from our school.

Later that evening…

My fears came true when people started getting drunk. Generally meeting your girlfriend’s family isn’t this frantic. I’d wager a good 90% of the time no one is drunk. Unfortunately for me, people started getting drunk, and the questions started getting odd. I was briefly accosted by an Aunt who was ‘off her shit’, but it was all in good fun. I sort of laughed it off with the other relatives and all became well again. As it turned out, getting messed with wasn’t really a big deal

Why? Because it’s all in good fun. No one really means any harm, and in all honesty, for me, it sort of helped break the ice with her family even more. I was lucky. I wasn’t interrogated like I assumed that I would be. Instead, I was asked simple questions that ended up primarily being about school. It wasn’t that horrible!

The night was fairly quiet after my run in with the drunk and equally crazy Aunt. I learned to play Egyptian Ratscrew, and had a good time sharing fire building know-how around the bonfire. Thanks to the boy scouts for that.

Closing Thoughts

Meeting the family was easy. I followed the basic rules I set for myself, and it turned out to be fairly fun. In fact, I didn’t even end up talking as much as I thought I would. If you’re worried about meeting your girlfriend’s family, don’t. It’s stress you don’t need, and I think it’s safe to say that chances are that there isn’t anything you need to worry about. My only advice, is that you follow my guidelines, or expand on them with your own, and try to meet the family without the presence of alcohol.