Saturday, September 29, 2007

Why I am looking for new tools for blogging

One can't blog out of a vacuum. To blog, one need tools. What kind of tools you need to have depend on how fussy you are and what kind of blog you have. The fussier you are, the more tools you will likely need. I make do with a computer, a wireless modem router, a UPS (Uninterpretable Power Supply), a webcam and head set plus a digital camera. You may make do with more or less, depending on what you want to do or how fussy you are.

What do you have and what do you need? I don't know. At the very minimum, you will need a computer and a modem to get access to the Internet. You may already have what is needed, but nothing is forever. Things can get spoilt or become obsolete, or you may want to upgrade to something better. For example, I try to do many things at the same time and often hates to close a window or a tab because I may need to come back to that window or tab later. That is why I use a browser like FireFox with Google toolbar> which have tab browsing.

I do multitasking and I normally have many tabs opened at the same time. Not only that, I normally have more than one browser opened simultaneously. Read why at Why you should have more than one browser. My son told me that I should use a computer with dual core, core 2 or duo processor.

I am thus looking at Coupon Chief where one can get coupons to get discount from many online merchants like Dell Home which practically everyone knows sell computers and related stuff. I already have some accessories like webcam and headset to make video, and my son have a compact digital camera which I can use, but do not like to use. Because of negative developments in my country which is making my country go from bad to worst, I have now become a sort of untrained reporter and journalist. These are two examples:

Parliamentary Roundtable to reaffirm that Malaysia is a secular state and not an Islamic state

Long march for Justice

I don't like my son's digital camera. Further, at the Long March for Justice, I was unable to take photos at the climax of the event because of (I think premature) low battery. That was the second time it happened. I am now thus looking to get my own digital camera and has started looking at Best Buy which not only list best buys, but I saw a couple of digital cameras listed there.

I also make videos with my webcam and headset (with microphone) with Windows Movie Maker which comes with Windows operating system. I am not quite satisfied with the features available and now thus looking at Computers and Software. Unfortunately, at the time I check, no video editor software was listed, but not all hopes are lost, for at the bottom of that page, I saw a long list of "All Computers and Software Stores" which will take time to check out. In the meantime, I will make do with Windows Movie Maker which is sufficient.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Scroll box for Labels (New Blogger)

A blog reader asked if it is possible to use a scroll box (click BACK button to get back to this page) for New Blogger labels (categories or tags). I did an example at Natural Remedies. It is in the right sidebar, second from the top (position may change as Page Elements are added, deleted or moved around). It is not automatic, but done manually, and each time you add a new label, you will have to add that to the list of links in the scroll box.

Here is how I did it. First, I go to Natural Remedies and scroll down to where I can see the Label List. I then opened a Notepad file, typed in a series of empty HTML hyperlink tags as shown below:

<a href=""></a>
<br />
<a href=""></a>
<br />
<a href=""></a>
<br />
<a href=""></a>
<br />
<a href=""></a>
<br />
<a href=""></a>
<br />
<a href=""></a>

The <br /> tag is to force a line break so that each label will appear on a separate line. The number of these HTML hyperlink tags should preferably be the same as the number of labels you have in the Label List, but it can be more. Excess can be easily deleted later. This task can be made easier by copy-pasting. Now I minimise Natural Remedies and the Notepad file and place them side-by-side so I can see the both the Label List and the HTML tags at the same time. I right-click on the first label and chose "Copy Link Location" (this is for FireFox. Different browser will word it slightly differently) to copy URL of the label page, right-click in between the quotation marks in the first HTML hyperlink tag, select "Paste" and the label page URL will be pasted in between the two quotation marks. I then click in between >< and type the name of the first label, so in the above example, I will end up with the first two lines as

<a href="http://foodasmedicine.blogspot.com/search/label/adsense">AdSense</a>
<br/>


I then repeated with the second label, then the third and so on until I have come to the last label.

I have saved the HTML for a scroll box in my computer and I just locate it and opened it. The script I usually used is shown in below:

<div style=width: 395px; height: 100px; background-color: a0ffff; color: 000000; font-family: arial; font-size: 12px; text-align: left; border: 0px solid 00000; overflow: auto; padding: 4px;"></div>
Note the width and height of the scroll box highlighted in red. I used width: 395px; because the width of the main column (post) of my main blogs is 400px. The height can be adjusted to what you want. Now I am not putting the scroll box in a post (main column), but in the sidebar. The width of sidebar in that (and this) blog is 150px, so I will have to edit the width to 150px or less. In your case, if you do not know the width of your sidebar, refer to How to find the widths of the Header, main column and sidebar (click BACK button to get back to this page.

I then copy the list of HTML hyperlink tags from the Notepad and paste it in between ></div> of the scroll box HTML towards the end. To make it clearer I will show more of the scroll box HTML and show in red where I should paste the HTML hyperlinks for the list of labels from Notepad in red:

padding: 4px;">paste here</div>

I then sign into blogger.com (Dashboard) click LAYOUT for the relevant blog and click ADD A PAGE ELEMENT for the right sidebar and chose HTML/Javascript, paste the scroll box HTML (width and the height edited to suit your sidebar and the length of the scroll box you want) with the list of hyperlink HTML tags for the labels (from Notepad) into the HTML/Javascript box. In my case, I chose to type in "Scroll down to see topics" for the title of the Page Element (I am thinking of shortening it to "Scroll down for topics" to save valuable space), then click "Save changes". The new Page Element appeared at the top of the right sidebar in the LAYOUT. I hovered the mouse cursor over the new Page Element and dragged it down to where I wanted it. Having done that, I click "Save" at the top right of the LAYOUT and it is done.

If anything is not clear, point out what is not clear in the comment and I will try to make it clearer.

Note that each time you create a new label, you will have to add it to the list.

RELATED POST:

Scroll box FAQ

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Downloading and changing New Blogger template

A number of readers have been having problems downloading and installing templates from third party creaters and modifiers of New Blogger templates, so here is a post to explain the process.

Before I get to that, let me again repeat the importance of backing up your current template AND Page Elements before you change template. Refer to Backup New Blogger template PLUS Page Element and change template. This post will also show how to get to the template editor window.

Generally, 2 methods are offered. One, the one offered by Stavanger of Blogcrowd, gives the template which you have to copy and paste into the template editor window. For tasks like these, it is best you have a browser like FireFox which has tabbed browsing. Then you can be in the page with the new template in one tab and logged into Blogger in another tab in the same window.

In the box containing the new template, click inside the box, press ctrl+A (or right-click and chose "Select all") to highlight all the template, press ctrl+C (or right-click and chose "copy" to copy the new template into clipboard. Go the the Blogger template editor window, click inside the template editor window, press ctrl+A (or right-click on mouse and chose "Select all"). Press the DELETE key. The template window will now be empty. Click inside the empty template window, press ctrl+V (or right-click and select "Paste" to paste the new template from the clipboard into the empty template window. Preview, and if there is no problem, click "Save template.

In most cases, the template is downloaded and saved as an xml file. In this case, in the template editor, click "Browse" at the top of the page, navigate to where you saved the xml file, select it, click "Upload". When done, click VIEW BLOG to make sure everything is OK.

Any further problem, comment in this post and I may use your comment to make the above clearer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Using Joomla for your blog

A blog can be created by either using blogging platforms like Google Blogger, Wordpress, Live Journal, Typepad, etc. With these blogging platforms, it is easy for someone, even one not familiar with HTML and other technical stuff, to easily start a blogs, often within minutes. This is especially true of Google Blogger which is one of the easiest blogging platform to use, especially with the switch from the old classic Blogger to the New Blogger which offers a ADD A PAGE ELEMENT (widget) and a drag-and-drop LAYOUT and a which will enable a blogger with absolutely no knowledge of HTML to customize the blog without having to edit the template.

Another way to create a blog is to use Content Management Systems if you want a full blown suite of web applications. There are a few popular Content Manage Systems, one of the more popular one is the free, open source Joomla. If you opt to use Content Management Systems like Joomla, be prepared for a steeper learning curve plus a need to pick up maintenance and design skills, and preferably knowledge of PHP and SQL too. However, that is what you will need if you want more than what the other blogging platforms like Google Blogger have to offer.

Google Blogger has made their blogs search engine friendly, but you will still need to so some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to get free organic traffic from search engines. For blogs using Joomla Content Management System, Joomla SEO will be able to help in this aspect. They offer a free version available from September 1st to December 31st, 2007, but I am unable to find how to download and install it. All I can find is an SerrbizSEF installation guide. It offers less features, but you can upgrade for just $24.95 to get more features.

They even have case studies of companies that have successfully done search engine marketing (SEM) with their software and you are even allowed to contact their clients for reference checks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How to solve comment moderation via email problem

Comment moderation via email for Blogger

If you opted for comment moderation for your blog, there are two ways of doing it. One is to moderate from the Dashboard. The other is to moderate via email. If you chose the second option, the first option is still available. This second option is a much better alternative because you get a permanent record of the of the comment in your Inbox, you can publish or reject direct from the email plus, very useful, you get a link to the post where the comment was made (see screenshot. Title of post which is a link highlighted by red ellipse):

Blogger comment moderation via email

If you moderate via the Dashboard, very important is to remember to click on "Post Name" to display the title of the post in which the comment was made (see screenshot below:

moderating Blogger comments via Dashboard

It is only after clicking on "Post Name" that the title of the post in which the comments were made are displayed:

title of posts in which comments were made displayed after clicking Post Name

It is such a simple matter for Blogger to make the post title displayed by default, without having to click "Post Name" as it is important if you have any intention of responding to the comment. It is easy to forget, and that have happened to me before. Once you published the comment, it will disappear from the Dashboard and you will not know which post to go to to respond to the comment. What I have been doing when I need to moderate comments via email is to highlight the post title, copy and paste it into a Notepad file. After publishing the comment, I will then have to click "Edit Posts" and paste the post title into the search box to search for the post. The funny thing is, I have pasted the whole of what I copied into the search box and the search came up empty. I have to delete some of it before the post turn up in the search. Strange.

Anyway, once you locate the post, click VIEW to go to the post and then you can respond to the comment there.

Some comments not receiving email notification for moderation

This have been going on for some time and I have been faithfully posting details of it to the Google Blogger Help group. Blogger Employee asked us to check the spam folder. I did and so far, have never come across a single email notification for comment moderation in the spam folder, but have got some emails from my blog readers which ended up there. So if you have tried to email me but didn't get a reply, I may have missed it when I check the spam folder.

I was using Yahoo mail. Thinking that changing to Gmail may make the task for Blogger to trace the problem, I changed it to Gmail. The problem still persist.

New problem. Email notification gives a funky format

Recently, a new problem surfaced. The email I received for comment moderation was in a funky format. See scroll box:

New comment on How to change the width
of the content and the sid....
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
boundary="----=_Part_289_10079831.1189897613291"

------=_Part_289_10079831.1189897613291
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

USMLE ROCKER has left a new comment on your post "How to change the
width of the content and the sid...":

thanks a lot chen. rounders 2 doesnt give seperate tags for each
sidebars. it gives a single tag only. so i cant have sidebars with
different widths in this template. I wanted to have an extra width in
my sidebar with ads. anyways, i can manage with rounders2. thanks again.

Moderate comments for this blog:
http://www.blogger.com/moderate-comment.g?blogID=26880688

Posted by USMLE ROCKER to Blogger Tips and Tricks at 9/16/2007
------=_Part_289_10079831.1189897613291
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

<a href="http://www.blogger.com/profile/08969904823520344562">USMLE ROCKER</a> has left a new comment on your post "<a href="http://blogger-tricks.blogspot.com/2006/05/how-to-change-width-of-content-and.html">How to change the width of the content and the sid...</a>":
<br><br>
thanks a lot chen. rounders 2 doesnt give seperate tags for each sidebars. it gives a single tag only. so i cant have sidebars with different widths in this template. I wanted to have an extra width in my sidebar with ads. anyways, i can manage with rounders2. thanks again.
<br><br>
<a href="http://www.blogger.com/comment-moderate-confirm.g?blogID=26880688&postID=2656812332030611371&publish=true">Publish</a> this comment.
<br><br>
<a href="http://www.blogger.com/comment-moderate-confirm.g?blogID=26880688&postID=2656812332030611371&reject=true">Reject</a> this comment.
<br><br>
<a href="http://www.blogger.com/moderate-comment.g?blogID=26880688">Moderate</a> comments for this blog.
<font color="gray" size="2"><br>
<br>
Posted by USMLE ROCKER to <a href="http://blogger-tricks.blogspot.com/">Blogger Tips and Tricks</a> at 9/16/2007 </font>
------=_Part_289_10079831.1189897613291--


It was no longer in the format in the first screenshot, and I was forced to go Dashboard to approve and to respond to the comment, with its attendant problems. It was time consuming and I am already very short of time. (I found out later it is possible to moderate from that funky email but it is still less convenient and harder to read than in its original format).

How this problem of funky email for comment moderation got solved

One day, I received an email for comment moderation in my Yahoo mail for a very low traffic blog. It was in the original format and very easy to use. I immediately reset my main blogs to receive email for comment moderating to the Yahoo mail, and now the problem is solved. No need intervention of Blogger Support.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Change font size of blog footer

I did a test blog Test Footer Font Size. Note the size of the fonts in the footer.


The instrutions below will involve scanning through long line of codes in a template. See section on how you can find code easily at the bottom of the post if you have difficulties. Also, before you do anything to the template, always backup your template PLUS the Page Elements. See
Backup New Blogger template PLUS Page Elements and change template

Backup New Blogger template PLUS Page Elements and change template

Amazon computer products




To change the footer font size, sign into blogger.com (Dashboard). Click LAYOUT for the relevant blog, then under the TEMPLATE tab, click the EDIT HTML sub-tab. Look for block of codes that may look something like this (the exact code will depend on template. The one below is for the Blogger Minima template):

#footer {
width:660px;
clear:both;
margin:0 auto;
padding-top:15px;
line-height: 1.6em;
text-transform:uppercase;
letter-spacing:.1em;
text-align: center;
}

Just add a line

font-size: 400%;

so that the block of codes become

#footer {
width:660px;
clear:both;
margin:0 auto;
padding-top:15px;
line-height: 1.6em;
text-transform:uppercase;
letter-spacing:.1em;
text-align: center;
font-size: 400%;
}

Preview and if everything seems OK, click "Save template".

NOTE: The font size can be in % or px (pixels). You may also use 250% or 18px. Experiment, preview until you get what you want before you save the template.

How to easily locate the code you are looking for

To make your task of scanning the long lines of codes in the template, press ctrl+F and a Find [ ] will appear at the left of bottom of the browser. Tpye all or part of the code you are looking for and the scrollbar will scroll down to the part where the code is located and highlight it. See screenshot below:



Do all the necessary editing and preview. If everything seem OK, click "Save template" and VIEW BLOG" to ensure everything is OK

If this method don't work, click on the inside of the template editor window and press ctrl+A (or right-click and chose "Select all") to highlight all the template. Click ctrl+C (or right-click and chose "copy") to copy the template into clipboard, open a Notepad file, click ctrl+A again (or right-click and chose "Select all"), then click EDIT > FIND in the menu bar of Notepad at the top (or press ctrl+F), and in the "pop-up" FIND box, type or copy all or part of the code into the box and click "Find Next" and again the code you are looking for will be located and highlighted (see screenshot below):



Do whatever editing you need to do, then press ctrl+A (or right-click and chose "Select all") to highlight all the edited template in Notepad to copy into clipboard. Go back to the template editor. The whole unedited template should still be highlighted. Click the DELETE key and the template editor window will become empty. Paste the edited template into the empty template editor window, preview, then save.

Friday, September 14, 2007

"Add This" bookmarking button with drop-down menu

Got an email from David of New "Add This" bookmarking widget works on Blogger. He alerted me to the fact that "Add This" now has a new version of their very convenient bookmarking widget which has the new cool feature of showing a drop-down menu. "Add This" site says a new version for Blogger and TypePad will be coming soon, implying currently the script they provide would not yet work for Blogger. David however said with a little modification the new cool "Add This" script, it can be made to work in Blogger.

Amazon products for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I tested this in Natural Remedies and found that it works. Go to this blog and hover your mouse over the "Add This" bookmarking button and observe.

I think the easiest way to explain is to give you the original script given by "Add This" which I will put in the scroll box below:

<!-- AddThis Bookmark Button BEGIN -->
<script type="text/javascript">
addthis_url = location.href;
addthis_title = document.title;
addthis_pub = 'enviroman';
</script><script type="text/javascript" src="http://s7.addthis.com/js/addthis_widget.php?v=12" ></script>
<!-- AddThis Bookmark Button END -->


Here is the edited script with the addition colored red. You will only see one red addition in the scroll box. You will have to scroll down to see the other:

<div>
<!-- AddThis Bookmark Button BEGIN -->
<script type="text/javascript">
addthis_url = location.href;
addthis_title = document.title;
addthis_pub = 'enviroman';
</script><script type="text/javascript" src="http://s7.addthis.com/js/addthis_widget.php?v=12" ></script>
<!-- AddThis Bookmark Button END -->
</div class='post-footer>


Also, note that it has the line:

addthis_pub = 'enviroman';

which identifies my account with this "Add This" bookmarking widget. You cannot use the script above directly. You will have to go to Add This site, sign up for your own account, get your own script, and if you want to get it to work straight away with Blogger, just add the codes colored red above.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Technorati, a blog searh engine and ranking site

Technorati is a popular blog search engine and also index and rank blogs. Previously, MySpace blogs were not indexed, but now they are included. If you go to Technorati, you will find a search box right at the top:



You can type in topics you are interested in into the search box and find blogs that contain the topics you are interested in. If you are interested in getting traffic, it is important to register a Technorati account and claim your blog. You can also see a list of my blogs claimed in Technorati and their ranking:

blogs claimed in Technorati and their ranking

As you can see, my most popular blog (this blog) has been ranked highest among all the blogs with a ranking (Authority) of 469.

It is also important to include Technorati tags for your posts so that surfers searching for those keywords can find your post. (a tag is simply keyword or category (called label by Blogger) describing the subject matter or topic of a post. Previously, Movable Type, WordPress and TypePad have an advantage over Blogger because they can categories for their posts, but the old Blogger didn't and Technorati uses these categories as Technorati tags. But now Google has introduce Labels which is their name for Categories or Tags, and these are also included as Technorati tags. It is important that you add labels to your posts to increase the chances of a surfer searching for something find your blog. You can also manually add Technorati tags at the bottom of each posts. The difference between Technorati tags and Blogger labels is that the Technorati tag link to the individual post while Blogger label will take a searcher to the Label page which will include all the posts with the same label. However, I read from Technorati forum that posts over 6 months may not be included in Technorati tag search results.

Each time you publish a new post, you should ping Technorati to update their index. You can sign into your Technorati account and use their ping to ping Technorati either by pinging the blog listed or entering the blog URL into the Ping box at the bottom.



If you don't want the trouble of signing into your Technorati account, you can go to Ping Technorati and just type or paste in your blog URL.

I normally uses Pingoat each time I publish a new post. Pingoat pings a number of services which include Technorati:



I believe because of this practice, my blogs are updated in Technorati as you can see from the screenshot (third one) which showed that my blog "Blogger for Dummies" was updated 3 hours ago, and I didn't go to Technorati to ping that blog.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Embed PDF file into post

You can see an example at Testing embedding of PDF file into post. This is a small PDF file. I will test embedding a large PDF file and/or a PDF file containing images later. Anyway, here is the method I used to embed the PDF file. This uses this very useful website Scribd.

For this task, it is best you have a browser that has tabbed browsing like FireFox with tabbed browsing. You can thus be signed into Scribd in one tab, and signed into your Blogger account in another tab, etc, all in the same window. FireFox is also fully supported by Blogger. My experience also has taught me also that having more than 1 browser is a big advantage.

First, of course, you must have the PDF file ready and stored in your computer. Go to Scribd. You can chose to upload the file immediately or register first before uploading. It is better to register first as then you can edit or delete the file, get statistics, put up your profile where you can put links back to your site or sites, thus increasing your site/sites link popularity and PageRank and possibly getting more traffic to your site/sites. Once you edit your file, your embedded file in your post will also automatically change.

You can view my Profile at Cikguas227's Profile at Scribd where you will see a few links back to my blogs.

To embed your PDF file, click "Browse" and locate your PDF file, Click "Upload" and then "Publish". (If you happen to be at other pages other than the homepage, click script upload file icon to upload PDF, PowerPoint and Words files, click "Browse" and locate your file. Click "Upload" and when uploading is finished, type in some suitable tags, a description, then click "Publish". The next page will tell you your file has been converted and give a link "View here!" Scribd file converted, view here. Click on the link "View here!". The next page will display your converted file and on the left sidebar, will be a box with the script for embedding into your post: . (Update: To get the script to embed the document, you will have to click the button SHARE as in the screen shot below:

)


Click on the inside of the box and the whole script will be highlighted. If it is not, press ctrl+A keys simultaneously (or right-click on your mouse and select "select all"). Press ctrl+C (or right-click and chose "copy") to copy script into clipboard. The original script generated by Scribd is shown in the scroll box below"

<object width="450" height="500"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="SameDomain" /><param name="movie" value="http://static.scribd.com/FlashPaperS3.swf?guid=7i0x2tpgzzwtw&document_id=270243" /><embed width="450" height="500" src="http://static.scribd.com/FlashPaperS3.swf?guid=7i0x2tpgzzwtw&document_id=270243" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed> </object>



Change to the tab where you are logged into Blogger with the post editor window opened, paste the script into the post editor window. Now, you may have to tweak the script so that the embedded PDF file fits nicely into the post. For this, you will have to know the width of your main column. Refer to How to find the widths of the Header, main column (posts) and sidebar/sidebars (click BACK button to get back to this page). Below is the original script generated by Scribd. The most important variable you have to note is width="500" (highlighted in red). The width of the main column (posts) of Testing embedding of PDF file into post is only 400 pixels, so I have to change the width in the script to 400 or less. The height is less important, and you can set it to any number you wish so that the height of the embedded file is as what you want it to be.

However, if you want to keep the original aspect ratio of the embedded PDF file generated by Scribd, like what I did for Testing embedding of PDF file into post, you will have to use a photo editor. The process is explained at Resize images with Irfanview. What I did was create an empty image and typed in 450 for the width and 500 for the height, then click OK. An empty image was created. I wanted the width to be slightly less than the width of the main column (posts). I ticked the box next to "Preserve aspect ratio" and typed in 399 for the width. The height automatically changed to 433, so I edited the script to get width="399" and height="433". Note that this has to be done in two places in the script (highlighted with red ellipse). The new script is shown in the scroll box below:

<object width="399" height="433"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="SameDomain" /><param name="movie" value="http://static.scribd.com/FlashPaperS3.swf?guid=7i0x2tpgzzwtw&document_id=270243" /><embed width="399" height="433" src="http://static.scribd.com/FlashPaperS3.swf?guid=7i0x2tpgzzwtw&document_id=270243" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed> </object>


This method can be used for both small and very large PDF file. The PDF file embedded at Testing embedding of PDF file into post is only one page long and 28.0 KB in size. I have tested embedding a larger PDF file (9 pages long and 1.44 MB in size at Dinner at the Xin Hua Restaurant in Sungai Way New Village (Kampong Baru Seri Setia), Petaling Jaya, Malaysia and there is no problem whatsoever. Perhaps one day, I may test embedding an even bigger PDF file.

There is another method to embed PDF file which will be described in the next post.

Update 9 September 2007: Missed something. Dnis aRCol said he embedded a 774 page PDF file at 2007 Nursing Board Exam Result. I tried to download the PDF file to check its size, but the Dnis has disallowed downloading the file in PDF format.

Acknowledgement: I came to know about Scribd from Dnis aRCol in a comment he made at Add spreadsheet, documents, PDF files to your post (click BACK button to get back to this page).

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Relocate to Florida and blog from there

I have previously let off steam and griped about what is happening to my country at My dream: Retire to Hawaii and continue to blog from there (click BACK button to get back to this page). I have complained about the how the delineation of the electoral constituencies have been drawn up so a rural vote is equivalent to 10 to 20 times the vote of an urban voter, and how this has made it practically impossible for the citizens and the opposition to dislodge the current ruling coalition or even deny them a two third majority to prevent any more detrimental amendments to the constitution. I have complained about how the ruling coalition uses the NEP (New Economic Policy) for patronage system to entrench themselves in power and enrich the few close to the ruling parties. I have complained about the huge amount of public fund being squandered with no one being made accountable for it. I have complained about the 3 pillars of democracy - the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, which is supposed to provide check and balance, being destroyed so much so that the Executive now practically controls everything. I have complained about creeping Islamisation, with even the Chief Justice now talking about the Common Law being replaced by the Syariah (Islamic) law. I have talked about a Minister in the Prime Minister Department threatening to use the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows detention without trial, against bloggers who exposes the problems, the wrong doings and the corruptions, even if they are backed by documents. I am very concerned at the developments, and have expressed my dream to retire to Hawaii and continue to blog from there.

But Hawaii is not a cheap place to retire to. Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, has its cost of living rated 78.40% higher than the U.S. average. In comparison, the capital city of Florida which also have a sub-tropical and tropical climate, Tallahassee has a cost of living rated 6.23% Lower than the U.S. average, and Florida is almost as pleasant place to retire to as Hawaii.

This site real estate has a listing of all the properties for sale in Continental US including Florida real estate. They also have a site to help with moving. Can't afford to purchase? No problem. I can always look for houses for rent.

Sounds promising.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

My dream: Retire to Hawaii and continuing to blog from there

Letting off steam.

When my country got its independence from United Kingdom, the parties that negotiated for our independence agreed among themselves that the country will have Islam as the official religion but that it shall not be taken to mean that the country is not a secular state. The Reid Commission was commissioned to draft the country's constitution and in its report dated 27 Sept 1956 at page 19, it says: ”The religion of Malaysia shall be Islam. The observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practicing their own religion, and shall not imply the State is not a secular State". This clearly showed that our country is not an Islamic state. However, since independence, the Parliament has been dominated by the Alliance, a coalition of 3 parties, which now has been expanded to include more parties and is now know as the Barisan. It used its two third majority to make numerous amendments to the original Constitution, one of which reduced the Civil Court's ability to hear cases that involve Islam even when the party involved is a non-Muslim who according to the Constitution, are not subject to the Syariah (Islamic) court. There have been a number of cases where a couple married under the Civil Law, one of them converted to Islam and without discussions or agreement of other half, converted the children who are minors. This is despite the provision in the Constitution that children under 18 cannot receive religious teachings other than their own.

Worst still, the former Prime Minister one day suddenly declared that our country is already an Islamic state clearly contrary to the current Constitution, and this was repeated by the current Deputy Prime Minister. The current Prime Minister is wishy washy on the issue and one day said our country is neither secular nor Islamic, then changed his stance and made the statement that our country is an Islamic state. The mainstream mass media were ordered not to publish any discussions on the issue and can only publish statements from the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. It is now left to the bloggers to bring up the issues. But now even that the authorities are trying to control. One Minister issued a threat to use the Internal Security Act, which allow detention without trial, against bloggers. Try googling "crackdown malaysian bloggers" and you will see lots of sites discussing that.

From what I understand of an Islamic state, its citizens are not equal. The people of the Book (Christians, Jews) are dhimmis who have less rights then the Muslims and are required to pay a tax to the Islamic authorities. The others have even less rights. And the supreme law shall be the syariah law and not civil law.

The blog I am going to link to was originally set up to help promote my country, not put negative news, but when crucial issues are involved, I cannot sit idly by and watch:
Candlelight Vigil for Revathi

Candlelight Vigil for Revathi Part 2

Parliamentary Roundtable to reaffirm Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion and not an Islamic State Report

Malaysia Parliament House

The Barisan bulldozed its way to reduce the independence of the Judiciary which now have no power to rule against any decision of the Minister, right or wrong. Although the judiciary is constitutionally an independent branch of the government, after the 1988 constitutional crisis, the judiciary was made subject to Parliament; judicial powers are held by Parliament, and vested by it in the courts, instead of being directly held by the judiciary as before. The Attorney-General was also conferred the power to instruct the courts on what cases to hear, where they would be heard, and whether to discontinue a particular case.

The original 1957 Constitution contained a provision limiting the size discrepancy between any two districts to no more than 15%. This restriction, however, has since been eliminated by constitutional amendments in 1962 and 1973 and the worth of a vote is now heavily weighted in favour of the rural areas whose inhabitants are mainly Malay. With this very unfair delineation of the constituencies, there is just no chance of the opposition ever getting the majority to replace the current ruling coalition, probably not even the one third majority to deny the ability of the ruling coalition to make further amendments to the Constitution.

Government machinery, mainstream mass media and Government funds are used by the ruling coalition for election and the opposition have no access to the newspapers, the radio and the TV. In fact, during two by-elections, the Government poured so much fund into the affected constituency that voters must now be hoping for their current Member of Parliament to die so that they too can enjoy the windfalls. The so called independent Election Commission ruled that as long as the funds are not disbursed by the candidate, it shall not be considered bribing the voters.

Huge amount of Government funds were squandered in huge mega projects and so far, no one had been made to account for it. Brand new Government buildings, flyover, and hospitals get falling ceilings, bursting pipes, cracking walls, fungus infected hospital, unusable school computer labs, and no investigation are made as to the causes and no one again made accountable for them. The cost of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) ballooned from an original RM519 million to RM4.6 billion PKFZ (Port Klang Free Zone and connections of the turnkey contractor, Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd. (KDSB), Chairman of the Port Klang Authority (PKA) and the lawyer who prepared the sales and purchase agreement to politicians in the major component party, yet the Government never consider that as a conflict of interest. The state government originally alienated the land to the Pulau Lumut Development Co-operative (KPPL) which in turn sold it to Kuala Dimensi for RM3 per sq ft. It was shown that the chairman of KPPL at the time of the sale, another politician from the major component party of the ruling coalition, was also a director of PKA. Kuala Dimensi, which originally purchased the land for a total of RM1.81 million then sold it to the Port Klang Authority for RM1.81 billion.

Jafza International which runs the hugely successful Djibouti Free Zones was commissioned to run the Port Klang Free Zone, but pulled out, alleging, among others, political interference and an attempt at tax evasion.

What is the Government whose Prime Minister pledged to fight corruption, transparency and accountability and not bail out any failed projects in the previous election doing about it? Bring those responsible for the debacle to book? No! The government is extending a soft loan of RM4.6 billion to help the Port Klang Authority meet its financial obligations on borrowings from the country's financial institutions, but refused to call it a bail out. No one so far had been made accountable for this huge failed project.

Many citizens, fed-up with the situation and unable to do anything about it, are planning to migrate and many have already done so.

Me? My hope is to be able to retire to Hawaii with its warm mild weather, beautiful beaches, crystal clear water, good health care facilities, multi-racial and multi-cultural environment, etc., plus no official racial ore religious discrimination, a wonderful place to live. I can continue to blog from there as there are good 24 hours broadband access available there. Plus I can open a US bank account which will enable me to withdraw funds from my Paypal account, something I am not able to do so at the moment. It is the closest to being a paradise as any other place on earth. Any bloggers want to join me?

If hope ever become reality, obviously I will need a roof over my head. Perhaps I would search for one at Hawaii real estate. The site have a MLS (Multi Listing Service) search engine.

Hawaii is not a single entity, but consists of hundreds of islands and atolls, but only 8 main island, and there are subtle differences between the islands. Maui, the second largest is probably the most pleasant and livable, as shown the the population growth brought about mainly by people who visited the island and decided to settle down there. For people looking for properties to purchase, Maui real estate will be a real help.

Kauai, the fourth largest island, is also referred to as the "Garden Isle" for its luxuriant, tropic landscape encompassing thousands of flower and bird species so much so that Kauai was the filming locations of many movies including South Pacific (Bali Hai), Lilo and Stich, Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Six Days Seven Nights, remake of King Kong and many Elvis Presley films. It boasts of the Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, a spectacular canyon, approximately ten miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep with stunning views. Strict zoning laws govern Kauai’s development, ensuring slow, high-quality growth. Violent crime is very low. The Mahelona Medical Center has special programs for the aged and disabled, making it an attractive place for retirement. For property purchase on Kauai Island, Kauai real estate should be helpful.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Calendar for your blog

If you want a calender for your blog like the one second from the top of the right sidebar (position may change as I add or take away Page Elements) of Technology Articles, this is how you can do it.

Go go Plain Calendars, chose the calendar you like (note that at the top of the page, there are other categories of calendars, so if you don't like the example calendar I chosed, you can always go for a different one). Below the example of the calender is a box containing the script to display the calendar. Click on the inside of the box and press ctrl+A (or right-click on your mouse and select "select all") to highlight all the script, click ctrl+C (or right-click on your mouse and select "copy") to copy the script into clipboard, and I think it is advisable to open a Notepad file and paste the script into Notepad (probably best to do it twice so you have an original and you have one you can edit. The calendar I selected for the above post has the script

<!-- FREE-BLOG-CONTENT.com -->
<br><center><iframe src="http://www.free-blog-content.com/Calendars/calendar00411.htm" width="120" height="150"
marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="no" scrolling=no allowtransparency="true"></iframe></center>
<center><a style="font-size: 3mm" href="http://www.free-blog-content.com/">Free Blog Content</a></center></br>

Update 11 March 2010: <center> and </center> has been deprecated and should be replaced by <div style="text-align:center;"> and </div>. Further, all tags must be closed by matching closing tags or be self closing so either get rid of <br> or replace it with self-closing <br />

The script above thus become:

<!-- FREE-BLOG-CONTENT.com -->
<div style="text-align:center;"><iframe src="http://www.free-blog-content.com/Calendars/calendar00411.htm" width="120" height="150"
marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="no" scrolling=no allowtransparency="true"></iframe></div>
<div style="text-align:center;><a style="font-size: 3mm" href="http://www.free-blog-content.com/">Free Blog Content</a></div>

Note that the width and height of the calendar is 120 and 150 respectively (highlighted in red above). The width of the sidebar of Natural Remedies is 150 pixels, so I would like to change its width to 148 pixels. (To learn how to find the width of your blog sidebar, refer to How to find the width of your blog Header, sidebars, main column (click BACK button to get back to this page). I opened Irfanview (click BACK button to get back to this page). I then click IMAGE > CREATE NEW (EMPTY) IMAGE from the menu bar at the top and then input the image width=120 and image height=150. Click OK and a new empty image will be created. I then click IMAGE > RESIZE/RESAMPLE and then keeping the "Preserve aspect ratio" ticked, I edited the width to 148 and the height automatically changed to 185 to keep the aspect ratio constant (that is, the calendar will not be distorted). With the edited script, I then sign into Blogger (Dashboard) and click LAYOUT for the relevant blog from the list of blogs. I click ADD A PAGE ELEMENT in the left sidebar and selected HTML/Javascript. I pasted the edited script for the calendar into the box and click "Save changes" and a new HTML/Javascript Page Element appear at the top of the left sidebar of the LAYOUT. I drag and drop the new HTML/Javascript Page Element to the second from the bottom of the left sidebar, then click "Save" at the top right of the LAYOUT. The result is as you see it.

I originally wanted to demonstrate this in the blog Computers, Internet and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but found out that the blog uses a fluid width sidebar (which means the width of the sidebar changes with the screen resolution of the visitor. This complicates matter because I will then have to size the calendar to the smallest screen (resolution) to avoid problems. I have a way of doing it, but I think I will leave that for another post.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing is defined by New York Times as buying paid inclusions and paid placements (sponsored links or sponsored ads) in search engine result pages (SERP). This is the definition I would agree with. Others include Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in Search Engine Marketing. I personally feel Search Engine Optimization should be place in a class of its own and will write about it in another post, but put a brief description here. SEO is using various means of getting a site placed higher in search engines result pages, frequently by trying to get as many inbound links as possible, and also by using keywords in the site URL, post titles and within the post content. Hits obtained in this way is referred to as organic (free) hits.

Paid inclusions

Paid inclusions are links are mixed with those links which the search engines find relevant. Fee payable may be an annual subscription for one webpage, which will automatically be catalogued on a regular basis. A per-click fee may also apply. New site can thus get their site indexed faster (within one or two days compared with weeks). The website will be crawled more regularly and more complete so that all their pages are included. Many says paying for paid inclusion does not mean a higher ranking for the site, but I suspect it may make a difference, otherwise why would one bother to pay for paid inclusions as the advantages of getting a new site indexed faster is only a slight and temporary advantage. Most search engines allow paid inclusions. Google do not allow paid inclusions. This is one of the reasons I prefer to use Google for my searches.

Paid placements or sponsored advertisements

Paid placements, sponsored advertisements or sponsored links are advertisements on search engine result pages (SERP) separate from the rest of the normal links. Search Engine Marketers pay search engine companies to include their websites in the search engine index where advertisers are guaranteed a higher ranking in relation to desired keywords. In paid placements, you can distinguish such sponsored links and they may be placed at the top of the list of normal links like in the screen shot below (sponsored link highlighted by a red rectangle):

Search Engine Marketing: Paid Placement

Search Engine Marketing Hints is a blog which give more information on Search Engine Marketing. It appear to be a fairly new blog as the earliest post I could find is Top 4 Sites To Buy Blog Links which is dated August 14, 2007. But it sure is an active blog regularly updated as after only a short time, it already have many posts, and probably by the time you surf over to that site, it will have many more posts. However, the owner seems to subscribe to the other viewpoint that Search Engine Marketing (SEM) include Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as there is a category SEO Hints which at the time of publishing of this post contains 4 posts.

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