Unclutter Your Blog

Unclutterer links to a great post listing 50 Ways to Unclutter your Blog. There’s a lot of good ideas here, starting with the very first one, under the heading of "Unclutter your sidebar":

1. Move archives to their own page. There is no real reason that they need to be on your sidebar. A reader who has decided they want to dig deeper into your blog will be willing to navigate to a separate page. Reduce blog clutter by linking to a ‘Monthly Archives’ page instead.

Many of these ideas boil down to "get rid of widgets that no one cares about." Content is king: You want your blog readers to focus on what you’ve spent time and effort to write.

At some point here I’ll have to through this list and actually apply some of these ideas. I like the idea of keeping making things clean and polished so that it’s easy to read whatever drivel I come up with.

Note: Skelliewag.org was experiencing a bit of server difficulty when I wrote this; if you get a "service unavailable error," try again a little later.

New A2 Hosting Packages

This site is hosted through A2 Web Hosting. They’ve been a great host for me so far, offering great prices on my web hosting while still giving me some fantastic support.

They’ve also just gotten a lot better: Two days ago, they announced new package rates. For just $7.95 a month, I get 250gb of storage space, Ruby on Rails, unlimited email accounts, unlimited domains and subdomains, unlimited SQL databases, and access to the latest versions of MySQL and PHP. Get more details on their web hosting plans.

Since I’ve always gotten such great support from A2, I’ve signed up for their affiliate program. If you buy web hosting through any of the links to A2 from my site, you’ll be helping to support this site–and believe me, that will be very much appreciated. A2 has even given me a coupon code to help you out: 10% off any A2 Hosting plans, just use the coupon “a2hostmost”. Expires 12/31/2007.

Don’t worry, I don’t plan to write posts advertising for A2 like this on a regular basis. Just remember that you can always great hosting service through the link on my sidebar.

Use a Wii Remote to Navigate Google Reader

The Nintendo Wii Remote is one of the most easy-to-use game controllers around, but did you know that you can use it to control your computer? The "Wiimote" makes a great tool for a lot of different applications, from Photoshop to Half Life. I’ve found it to be especially useful with Google Reader; see just how useful it is in the two-and-a-half minute video below.

You’ll find detailed instructions on how to set this up in the extended entry. Don’t worry, this is a really easy hack.

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MiniReview: Portal

Portal is the best computer game I have played in ages. You play a research test subject who uses a portal gun to navigate through a bunch of different levels, with the reward of delicious cake (and grief counseling) at the end. It’s fun and challenging, and it’s got this lovely streak of dark humor running through the whole game.

And at the end, there’s a great song by the incomparable Jonathan Coulton.

My only complaint is that I wish there was more of it. The main storyline will last 2-4 hours at most. But considering that it is only a $20 standalone title, its entertainment-time-to-cost ratio is about the same as a really good movie.

You should definitely see the trailer for the game if you haven’t already.

Unpaid Product Endorsement: Best Skins Ever

Full Disclosure: I am not being paid in any way by Best Skins Ever. I just love the product.

The iPod is a shiny, pretty device, but it is notorious for picking up fingerprints and scratches. As a result, a lot of companies are selling protective cases and other products designed to protect the iPod from minor damage.

The problem with most of these products is that they make the iPod "fatter." One of the selling points of the iPod is that it is so thin and small. If you have to put on a thick outer shell to protect it from damage, it loses that appeal; it ends up looking like a Zune.

That’s why I’m such a big fan of BestSkinsEver. They sell "skins," pieces of clear plastic film that you attach to a device to protect it from scratches. Unlike other products I’ve seen, they’re actually thick enough to prevent all but the most serious damage to a device, but they don’t significantly add to the width of the device.

I’ve bought two of their skins, one for my Blackberry and another one just recently for an iPod. Both are just fantastic. I just finished applying my new one to my iPod, but the one on my Blackberry has kept it completely free from scratches for months.

They are almost totally invisible. You have to closely examine the devices to see that there is a skin on them.

My biggest complaint is that they can be challenging to apply to the device. You have to use a little soapy water on each piece of the skin and then get it positioned just right and then squeeze the water and air bubbles out from under the skin. It’s a bit of pain, but it’s worth it in the end.

It also takes a couple of days for the adhesive in the skin to "set." Until then, the screen will look a little grainy.

The other minor complaint I had is that the skin that covers the click wheel on the iPod is exactly the same as the rest of the skin, so you lose a bit of tactile feedback. I would have liked it better if the click wheel skin was a slightly different texture from the rest of the skin.

Overall though, I have to say that the skins from BestSkinsEver are fantastic: nearly invisible, cheap ($7 each for my two skins), and durable. Considering how much the iPod costs, $7 for protection from the inevitable scratches and fingerprints of everyday use seems like a bargain.

DIY Dentistry in England

This is exactly why I’m against nationalized health care (My Emphasis).

Six percent of those questioned in a survey of 5,000 patients admitted they had resorted to self-treatment using pliers and glue, the UK’s Press Association reported.

"I took most of my teeth out in the shed with pliers. I have one to go," another respondent wrote.

Others said they had fixed broken crowns using glue to avoid costly dental work.

Valerie Halsworth, 64, told British television’s GMTV she had removed seven of her own teeth using her husband’s pliers when her toothache became unbearable and she was unable to find an NHS dentist willing to treat her.

My mom just had some dental work done, and we were talking about, unpleasant as it is, we appreciated living in a country where we had access to dental care. The nationalized healthcare system in England has reduced the quality of its dental care to third-world levels, at least for the poor who can’t afford the more expensive private dentists.

It’s a terrible idea that doesn’t work, and it’s insane that some people think we should imitate that system. The current health-insurance system is broken, but a nationalized health care system would only be worse.

(Via Boing Boing)

Windows Live Writer

I’ve just downloaded the shiny new Windows Live Writer Beta 3, which I found on Download Squad.

Windows Live Writer Screenshot

I had originally shied away from Live Writer (considering Microsoft’s track record with web publishing, especially FrontPage), but since Download Squad gave them a fairly magnanimous review, I decided to give it a try.

So far, it seems really good. You’ll find a full review in the extended entry.

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A French Fry Coated Hot Dog

hotdogonstick2, originally uploaded by lobstermartini.

Continuing my never-ending quest for disgustingly unhealthy foods, I present to you the french-fry coated hot dog. Sold in South Korea. (Via MetaFilter)