A Minor Announcement

I’ve decided to turn my current design into a distributable theme for Wordpress. It’ll be available over the weekend after I clean up some of the rough edges. Here are some of the things you can look forward to in the release of Effercio Blue 1.0:

  • Support for Wordpress Tags (a new feature in Wordpress 2.3)
  • Support for Dynamic Sidebar and Widgets
  • Custom Link and Archive Page Styles
  • and more?

If there’s interest in it, I might make some colored variations of it… Leave a comment if you’d like to be notified of it’s release.

System Cleanup

Every now and then, your computer – in my case, a Dell Inspiron E510 – will need some TLC. Freeing up disk space and running defrag can go a long way to keeping your system running better. I spent an hour or so yesterday doing some housekeeping and ended up deleting over 45+ gigabytes of old videos, unused applications and more. Today, my system feels zippier and more responsive. All of my core applications – Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver – are running better than usual. Consider this a friendly nudge to do the same on your own computer, if you’re not already doing it.

An alternative to Nike+

Since this post gets a good bit of traffic, I think it’s worth noting that you ought to check out RunKeeper if you happen to own an iPhone 3G/3GS. Not only does it not require a dongle, it’s more accurate and doesn’t require the latest hardware (3GS) to run.

Well, I am nearly two weeks into my walking challenge and so far so good. I’ve walked a total of 7 times since August 17th, for a total of 8.59 miles and 3,291 calories burned. Considering my lack of activity prior to the 17th, I’d say I’m off to a pretty good start. Walking with the Nike+ sensor and being able to track my progress has made walking fun for me. It’s exercise meets video game in a way…

My only beef with Nike+ so far is the website. The all-Flash interface is certainly nice on the eyes, but it doesn’t offer the functionality I’ve come to expect from sites that offer “social” features. It should be easy to direct people to your profile page, but it isn’t. You should be able to see how your friends are doing, but you can’t.

  1. If you want to share your progress, you have to do it via Nike-provided Flash widgets. You cannot link directly to your profile on the Nike+ website.
  2. The only way you can keep track of friends is through challenges (or via widgets – IF they happen to display them somewhere). Then and only then can you click on your friends’ name … and see their last run, and total run time and distance.

Neither of these are deal-breakers for me, but they’re annoying. That’s why I am excited about RunnerPlus.com. It’s everything that Nike+ isn’t. It has profile pages. It has friends. It has better visualizations of run/walk data. And it works with or with Nike+. (You can set up your profile to sync up with your Nike+ account if you like. Otherwise, they offer a software solution that allows you to sync your runs/walks without having to bother with iTunes or NikePlus.com.)

RunnerPlus has:

  • Better, more accurate visualizations.
  • Calendar-view … so you can see which days you walked and how far.
  • Profile pages with easy to remember URLs! Here’s mine: http://cdharrison.runnerplus.com/
  • Friends! You can see how they are doing and they can see how you’re doing.

In short, it has more to offer than the official NikePlus website, and that’s a good thing. If you’re using Nike+, do yourself a favor and check our RunnerPlus.com. You’ll be glad you did.

Thanks for sharing this site with me, Patrick!

I’ve created a monster.

I've created a monster.

My son is going to be a geek. All the signs are there. He loves playing on the computer. He loves stealing my iPod video to listen to music and watch cartoons… The boy loves gadgets. What can I say? I’m a proud papa.

Wordpress 2.3 Beta1

So, a new developmental version of Wordpress was released last night. Being the sucker that I am, I went ahead and upgraded to Wordpress 2.3 Beta1, and to my surprise, everything installed without any problems at all.

I haven’t seen a full list of all that’s been changed in this version, but based on my limited usage of it in the past half hour I can tell you about two of the updates that will make the most impact:

  1. Tags. Posts now support tags without the use of a third-party plugin.
  2. Plugin Version checking. When you’re managing your plugins, you’ll now be able to see if a newer version of it is available (assuming it supports update checking).

According to the announcement, this version also include “faster JavaScript” and “SEO-friendly URL redirection”.

All in all, it seems pretty stable so far. So, if you do decide to upgrade, know that it’s not a full release, and you’re bound to run into problems. Make sure you backup any Wordpress-related site files and database beforehand. Deactivate all plugins. Then upgrade. Reactivate your plugins one by one checking to make sure none of them break your site…

In Sync

syncmycal_logo A while back, I wrote about how I was able to sync Google Calendar events with my iPod using Outlook 2007. Because of various problems I had with Outlook 2007, including data corruption issues caused in part by subscribing to Internet Calendars, I uninstalled the program and reinstalled Outlook 2003 on my system.

I’ve tried the open-source add-in for Outlook, RemoteCalendars, but installation and configuration of it requires .Net Framework 2.20 and Visual Studio Tools for Office to be installed.

I had all but given up on finding a suitable replacement, when on a whim, I did a Google search for “Google Calendar Outlook“. One of the sponsored links was to SyncMyCal. (What initially drew my eye to the ad was the Google Checkout icon.) Being curious, I clicked through to the site. I’m glad I did.

SyncMyCal made the process of syncing Google Calendar with Outlook 2003 incredibly easy. It’s available in a free and a pay version. The main limitations of the free version are that you have to manually sync your calendars and you can only sync up to 7 days at a time. (For most people, this limitation isn’t going to be a huge deal.)

With SyncMyCal you can:

  • Upload events from Outlook to Google Calendar
  • Download events from Google Calendar into Outlook
  • Synchronize Multiple Calendars
  • Synchronize Multiple Events

It even supports Google Apps! (This was a big deal for me, as I’ve been using Google Apps for cdharrison.com for quite some time.)

SyncMyCal works with Microsoft Outlook XP/2003/2007. SyncMyCal is available in a Free or Pro ($25) Edition. Also available is SyncMyCal Mobile and SyncMyCal 30Boxes.