Google Rankings

September 30th, 2008 by Andrew

Lately I’ve been playing with search engine optimization (SEO) a lot, and I’ve found some interesting things about how Google sees amwhalen.com. Using Google’s Webmaster Tools, I can keep track of what keywords my site comes up for. Here are the searches where my site shows up on the first page of Google results:

Position Search Terms Page
1 “arsenal 50mm” 50mm Photos
3 cyclopress CycloPress
3 “obelisk shaped” building Artwork and Schematics Circa 1996
5 sql frequency Finding Frequency Counts With SQL
5 flash _lockroot Flash, _lockroot, Stage, and hitTest
6 andrew whalen amwhalen.com
6 * i hate internet explorer Another Reason I Hate Internet Explorer
6 abandoned01 Photo: abandoned01.jpg
7 finding frequency Finding Frequency Counts With SQL
7 * i hate explorer Another Reason I Hate Internet Explorer
7 roger anstey ENtree :: Roger Anstey
9 dreamhost postgresql Brought to You by DreamHost
9 ** gphoto timelapse Time Lapse Sunrise
9 drobo standby Drobo: The Data Storage Robot
9 postgresql dreamhost Brought to You by DreamHost

* I also show up at position 15 for the keywords “i hate ie”. I must really hate Internet Explorer.

** My YouTube video of a Partial Time Lapse Sunrise also comes up at #4 on a search for “gphoto timelapse”.

Drobo: The Data Storage Robot

September 2nd, 2008 by Andrew

I recently purchased a first-generation USB 2.0 Drobo. I’ve used an external drive to backup most of my data for awhile now, but it’s just not easy and not very scalable. If I expand the drive in my computer, I need to expand the backup drive as well, leaving me with extra working drives lying around that I’ll have no use for. I’ve had a plan in the back of my head for a few years now of creating a file server with RAID, but that never came to fruition. A whole file server seemed overkill in terms of power usage and maintenance — I don’t have a bunch of spare time to reconfigure RAIDs and deal with hardware and software issues.

Drobo seemed like the perfect candidate. It features the RAID-like ability to swap drives in and out to expand capacity or to replace failing drives, and to mirror your data to keep it safe when (not if) a drive fails. What makes the Drobo special is that it requires no tools whatsoever to swap drives, and it can all be done while it’s on. Other systems have this ability too, but there’s something about poking around a running file server with a screwdriver that makes me uneasy.

Low power requirements are also a plus with the Drobo. While on, it ranges from only 5 watts in standby mode to 40 watts with four drives installed and in use. That’s less than a typical laptop takes when plugged in. Noise is another issue that I was concerned about, but I haven’t heard the Drobo get very loud at all. I only have two drives installed now, but maybe with 4 drives running and the fan on it might get a little louder than your desktop computer.

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Artwork and Schematics Circa 1996

August 30th, 2008 by Andrew

I was ridding my closet of useless junk and came upon a stack of papers, some of which were dated 1996. That would put me in the 6th or 7th grade.

Darth Vader’s not bad; it was probably drawn from a reference picture. I found the motorcycle on the inside of an old folder. The cat in the window was probably a drawing of Jasmine.

The “Life Support Suit” boasts a pretty impressive array of features:

  • An oxygen pack
  • Fuel tanks for the rockets (to move in space?)
  • Batteries to power the electronics
  • Missiles
  • Life boat with a 200 mile radio
  • Hand-warming gloves
  • Super-lite snowboard that attaches to the back of the pack
  • Parachute
  • Arm Strap Monitor to control everything
  • Flashlight on the arm strap runs on its own batteries

The “Lava Proof” obelisk-shaped building is amazing as well:

  • 2 (maybe 4) 50-foot pure titanium beams holding the building in the ground
  • Soft sand around the titanium beams, to allow the building to wobble rather than crumble in earthquakes
  • Heavily compacted dirt around the sand for strong support
  • Alternating concrete, titanium, and insulation shell
  • The titanium in the shell is apparently so lava doesn’t get inside
  • Each floor is concrete surrounding titanium

Amazon’s DRM-Free MP3s

August 13th, 2008 by Andrew

I’ve fended it for a long time, but I’ve finally succumbed to the pay-for-MP3-downloads monster. Today I downloaded four songs and actually paid for them. This isn’t my first foray into downloading music online. I’ve been doing it for years by questionably legal means, but I’ve never actually paid for a downloaded song before. Well, that’s not completely true, I did purchased the Nine Inch Nails album Ghosts I-IV March, but that was a whole 36 songs for $5, and it was in the lossless FLAC format. In the past I also downloaded Radiohead’s In Rainbows and most recently Nine Inch Nails’ The Slip for free. That was OK because I was supporting bands that I both like and that are doing things to change the music industry for the better.

Amazon’s purchasing process was so easy that it’s scary. First, you download the Amazon MP3 download software which handles the downloads outside of the browser and also imports your downloads into iTunes automatically. Second, you find the song you want on Amazon’s site, and click “buy MP3” and you’ll be prompted by your browser to download or open a “.amz” file which you open with your Amazon downloading software. Depending on your connection, about 10 seconds later you’ll have a shiny new 256kbps DRM-free MP3 of the song you wanted, and it’s available in iTunes right away!

Most songs are only 89 cents a pop, and albums are only $8.99. You can’t beat the price, and since I only rip CDs to my computer as soon as I get them and then quickly relegate them to storage, it’s about time for something this simple. This is a great way to buy songs one at a time, but like I’ve said before, I probably won’t stop buying CDs or complete albums altogether.

Brought to You by DreamHost

July 1st, 2008 by Andrew

The DreamHost LogoFirst off, amwhalen.com is no longer brought to you by an old PC running Ubuntu from my room. I’ve upgraded to hosting with DreamHost, and things couldn’t be better. They offer so much bandwidth, disk space and features that it really wasn’t much of a decision to switch. Rather than maintaining my own hardware, I can focus on maintaining the content and code, which is really what’s the most fun. Some things I really like that they offer:

  • 500 GB Storage (increases weekly by 2 GB)
  • 5 TB Bandwidth (increases weekly by 40 GB)
  • Unlimited MySQL 5 Databases
  • Unlimited Domains and Subdomains
  • PHP 5, Ruby on Rails, Subversion

As part of the migration process, I needed to modify the Cycling WordPress plugin I created to track my cycling stats. On the old server the data was coming from a PostgreSQL database. Unfortunately, DreamHost doesn’t offer PostgreSQL databases, even though they’re really cool. So, I had to create a whole new plugin from the ground up that uses MySQL, which is what WordPress requires and uses to store its data. I call it CycloPress, and I’ve added it to the WordPress Plugin Directory. It’s very cool, and I’m using it here now. On a side note, the Subversion hosting WordPress offers for plugin creators is very nice as well.

You’ll also notice I’ve added my Twitter feed to the sidebar. I’m using a plugin called SimpleTwitter, which is just as simple as its name suggests. I type in my username, an expiration time in minutes, add a PHP tag to my sidebar, and it all works.