Friday, February 26, 2010

I will never read all the books I want to.

Here is a frightening fact.

Being aged 42, if I live to 75 and read one book a week, the maximum number of books I will ever read is 1,716.

In the UK there are over 200,000 books published per year which means I will never read 99.974% of them.

So what are the 1,716 books I should definitely read?

Demo of my Shaw Low D Whistle

A demo recording of my new Shaw Low D whistle. Some people say that the Shaw needs a lot of breath but I think its more the speed of air that it needs so I breath through it like I do with my trumpet - concentrating on the speed of air rather than the quantity. If you have one and are having problems blowing it try keeping your cheeks in and raising the level of your tongue (think pronouncing "sss").

One of the big advantages of the Shaw Low D is the narrow diameter of the tube where the holes are and the close spacing of the holes themselves. A lot easier to play than my home made low D which has conventional hole spacing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to connect a computer running Ubuntu Linux to a printer on a Windows network.

Connecting an Ubuntu machine is remarkably easy:

  1. On the Ubuntu machine go to System > Administration > Printing.
  2. Click on the New button.
  3. The system will search for printers, but not find any.
  4. A new dialogue box pops up.
  5. Click on "Network Printer" and "Windows printer via Samba".
  6. In the box next to smb:// click on the browse button.
  7. A box pops up showing the network.
  8. If it doesn't then you might need to type the network name into the box next to smb://. You can get this information from a machine on the Windows network but the default is often MSHOME.
  9. Double click on the name of the network then on the machine that the printer is connected to. You should then see its name.
  10. Select this printer and follow the on screen instructions to install the driver. Choose the "from database" option first as the drivers for most printers will be available from there.
The procedure is the same for wired or wireless printers and computers on the network.

This information is correct for Ubuntu 9.10

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ubuntu Display Resolution Stuck on 800x600

This article refers to Ubuntu 9.10.

If you can't see a resolution option of higher than 800x600 this probably means that Ubuntu has not recognised your graphics card when the operating system was installed. The main group of cards that are not detected properly are Nvidia Geforce cards running under AMD systems.

To fix this go to settings and then hardware drivers. Ubuntu should search for appropriate drivers and install them. You will be asked to activate the driver and then reboot. Now when you go into the display settings you will be told that Ubuntu can't control these drivers do you want to use the manufacturers software? You select Yes and it launches the Nvidia driver interface where you can set the resolution to all of the ones that are possible. You should also see your monitors correct name showing (assuming it has been able to detect it correctly via its plug and play identifier).

I can't guarantee this will work for you, but it has worked for me and its a lot easier than many of the solutions I have seen posted in forums. Its probably better to try my method before delving into the operating system at the terminal window.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tips for finding an available domain name

I can remember how easy it used to be to find a domain name for a web site, but as time has gone on the popular extensions like .com have filled up considerably.

I operated a domain registration service for many years and helped lots of people find suitabled domain names so here is my guide to finding a suitable one:

  • Decide whether you want something easy to remember like or whether you would be just as happy with
  • If you do want a one word or memorable domain you are either going to have to buy it from its current owner or register it in one of the newer, less populated extensions like .me or .im. This can present credibility problems as people tend to trust .com or country specific domains like or .ie more if its a commercial site they are visiting. Using a tld from a country other than the one you are physically located in can cause problems with Google not returning you in searches made by users in your own country. This problem has lessened because Google allow you to set the country in their Webmaster Tools (if you have not used Google webmaster tools go there now, its a must have tool and its free).
  • Do you need a descriptive domain name at all? Not all memorable domain names bear any relation to the services associated with them. Think or Neither of these domain names mentions auctions or books. Wih this in mind you could make up an entirely fictitious word that sounds good, or you could do what I did when I inverted the word "someplace" to make Another idea I have used is to add numbers to the end of words. I currently own and which I am planning to develop into a site for musicians. Its easy to remember and was easy to register at the time so try adding a number onto the end of your chosen word. How about
  • You might also want to consider a domain name which incorporates a search term into it like This might help with search engine placement, but it might not be so good for the overall promotion of your business. Google and other search engines reward content quality, relevance and updating frequency so you can do as well in the long run with a domain name that is not laden with keywords.
The next stage is to search for available domains based on your ideas. This can be surprisingly tricky because a lot of domain registration sites have very slow or cumbersome search systems.

Here are some more intelligent search sites that I have used recently: (returns .ie and .com suggestions) (searches for availability as you type) (allows you to put in multiple words and select suffixes to add)

There are a surprising number of good domains out there which have either never been registered or have expired at some point so spend some time analyzing your needs and you should be able to find something that works for you.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Including content from Blogger posts in another web page.

If you want to include the content of your blogger posts in another page the easiest way is with PHP.

This is the code I used to pull the data out:

<?php $url = "";
$content = file_get_contents($url);
$start = strpos($content,'<!-- google_ad_section_start(name=default) -->');
$end = strpos($content,'<!-- google_ad_section_end -->',$start);
$mycontent = substr($content,$start,$end-$start);
echo ($mycontent);

Then I manipulated its formatting using CSS.

It works, but exactly where you look for the beginning and end of posts will depend on the blogger template you are using.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Moving from Blogger FTP to blogspot hosting with Custom Domain

I received an email from Blogger today saying they were discontinuing FTP publishing. This was the service I used to publish my blog to my own server at I was not surprised they were discontinuing it because it had become very unreliable. Over Christmas I had considered moving my blog to a Google custom domain and had done some of the necessary work, but having received the email I decided to go ahead and make the move. It was slightly more complicated for me because I wanted to move from my old Blogger log in to my new Google log in.

This involved:

  • Creating a new empty Blogger blog with the same template under my new Google log in.
  • Backing up the old blog within the Blogger control panel and then restoring it to the new one.
  • Sorting out the new widget based version of the template to make it match my old layout.
  • Set up a mod rewrite rule to indicate a 301 redirect for each page so that no traffic was lost.
  • Set up Google Analytics for the new domain (although I might just switch back to using the code from my main site which should cover two domains OK).

It all seems to have worked except that the main address is not rewriting to (update: now working, may have been a browser cache problem).

Incidentally ecalpemos is the word "someplace" spelled backwards.

So glad to be off FTP publishing - this is much faster!

Here is the mod rewrite rule I used to redirect all the individual posts at to

This was put in the .htaccess file located in the directory

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(www\.)?hudson\.nu
RewriteRule (.*)$1 [R=301,L]

This means that when a search engine lists a post like this:

It redirects to:

and its a 301 (permanently moved) redirect so search engines should switch to indexing the new one.

Update 3rd February 2010:
So far, so good. No major problems. I fixed the image address rewrite issue.
My only concern now is that Google picks up the 301 redirects for all the blog posts and updates their addresses on search results. The change of address also means that my backlinks are via a 301 redirect so i exepct to see some crashing of positions for certain search terms that have genuine organic links back to my articles.

Another tip:
With a custom domain blog you can still use Google Webmaster Tools to submit a sitemap. There are two stages to this:

1. Add the verify meta tag into the head section of the blogger template.

2. There is no discrete xml sitemap file, but webmaster tools accepts this as the address of the sitemap: atom.xml?redirect=false&start-index=1&max-results=500

I have seen a suggestion that you could use "feeds/posts/full" but I found that only indexed about 20 or so posts. I set mine as "results=500" because I have a few hundred posts. I tried 100 and it only took 101 posts.

Google Analytics:
You do not need to split up your web stats between the new custom domain blog and the old web site. I used the same google analytics code on my new custom domain as I was using on the ftp hosted version of the blog and the rest of This was done yesterday and today hits for both domains are in the one analytics report. If I go to a specific blog post in the report and select "hostname" it shows the hits seperately for the two different addresses.