Air Dates for “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”

Creator Joss Whedon has announced the “air” dates for Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. The episodes will air on the official website drhorrible.com as follows:

  • Part 1 – Tuesday July 15
  • Part 2 – Thursday July 17
  • Part 3 – Saturday July 19

These episodes will “air” online only until July 20.

Following that they will be made available for download at a “nominal fee” and in the near future available to buy on a very special DVD “with the finest and bravest extras in all the land”.

Now it’s time to spread the word far and wide to all the corners of the interweb. Grab some banners from the official site and post them everywhere you go – and be sure to cover those places people wouldn’t normally hear about this.

This is your chance to play a part in changing the face of the entertainment industry forever.

Joss Whedon: “[Do] What you always do, peeps! What you’re already doing. Spread the word. Rock some banners, widgets, diggs… let people know who wouldn’t ordinarily know. It wouldn’t hurt if this really was an event. Good for the business, good for the community – communitIES: Hollywood, internet, artists around the world, comic-book fans, musical fans (and even the rather vocal community of people who hate both but will still dig on this). Proving we can turn Dr Horrible into a viable economic proposition as well as an awesome goof will only inspire more people to lay themselves out in the same way. It’s time for the dissemination of the artistic process. Create more for less. You are the ones that can make that happen.”


Teaser from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog on Vimeo.

Wanna Keep Up?

I’m sure everyone loves my blog so much they want to know the minute I write a new entry….right?…. well, ok, maybe not, but I’m sure there are plenty other blogs or “feeds” that you would like to keep up with… but you never knew how…right?

Here I am to save the day and tell you how you can do it. There are infinite number of ways to get your feeds but I’ll outline a couple of simple ones for you.

1. FeedReader

FeedReader is a standalone program that you can download to manage your feeds – download here – or go to the FeedReader website to download the program or learn more about it than cover here.

Once you have downloded the program install it and then launch the program.

Unless you actually want them, don’t select any of the options you’re given to subscribe to feeds, just click cancel and move on.

Click on the File menu, and then select New Feed, paste the URL of the feed you want to add and click ok. The URL for the blog feed of this website is http://talhost.net/feed . So long as you have pasted the correct feed address you should get a list of the latest posts. Click on the title of the one you wish to view and it will magically appear in the window on the right. Clicking on the title of an article will give you an unformatted view of the post and double clicking it will show the full webpage in the window and give you an option to open the page in your browser.

You can edit options for each of your feeds to determine how often FeedReader looks for updates, how many articles are archived and so forth.

2. Thunderbird

If you use Thunderbird for email (an ever increasingly popular option and my email program of choice) it has a built in feed reader section. This is very useful if like me, you always have your email program running while working on your computer, because in addition to be notified of new emails, you’ll be notified of new posts on your feed sites as well.

First you need to add a Feed section to your account. Go to the Tools menu then Account Settings. Select the Add Account button and then select the option RSS Feeds & Blogs option. Click Next and name it whatever you like – “My Feeds”, click Next, then Finish.

Next you’ll need to start adding feeds, you should see in you side panel (where your inbox etc is) that you now have a new section named “My Feeds” (or whatever you called it). Click on this and then click on Manage Subscriptions. Click the Add button, then paste the URL of the first feed you want to add. The URL for the blog feed of this website is http://talhost.net/feed and click OK. Continue to add further feeds if you wish and close the box when you’re done – you’ll now see the new feed listed under the “My Feeds” section of Thunderbird. You’re done!

There are many other options available for viewing feeds, if you don’t like either of the options I’ve outlined above, try a google search.

Chickens

I just bought some chickens….

I purchased them in the names of my nieces & nephew through TEAR Australia – a non profit organisation that created “The World’s Most Useful Gift Catalogue” – where you can buy everything from…well….chickens to toilets! It’s a great idea for buying presents for someone who has everything. You get a gift card to give that person and the donation goes to a help community where they don’t have all the daily stuff we so much take for granted.

The World's Most Useful Gifts?If you feel you’d like to donate something – you can buy a gift for as little as $5 – most of us can spare that much at least – and it does give you a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that your chickens will feed people and also provide them with a source of income 🙂

How Does it Work?

TEAR Australia pioneered the idea of useful gifts for people who need them most. The concept is simple.

If you purchase a goat, for example, TEAR will allocate your $50 tax-deductible donation to one of our local partner organisations in Afghanistan (or another of the countries listed).

Our partners are grassroots Christian organisations who work alongside the poor – of many faiths and cultures – in their own communities. They will use your donation to provide a goat for a family taking part in a community development project that incorporates goat breeding.

This means that a goat isn’t just a goat; it’s part of a long-term program that helps people identify new and sustainable ways of supporting their families, and assists them to gain relevant skills and resources. The same project may incorporate a number of different gifts to address a range of problems, such as health care, income generation, education or water management.

(Please note: when programs are run in several countries, costs of items are averaged.)

Help with an Aussie Icon

Vegemite is unique, there’s really nothing quite like it (no, not even marmite or promite *shudders*). The description of what exactly it is is enough to put one off ever trying the stuff, I mean, who would WANT to eat “yeast extract”? The thick almost black paste doesn’t add any visual incentive. So why is it so popular?

Aussie kids are brought up on the stuff – babies enjoy it from a very early age. Apparently, vegemite first became popular during the Depression because it was an affordable way to help families get some of their daily nutritional requirements. Vegemite is full of vitamin B and iron and all kinds of good stuff and when you’re used to it – the taste is great! I even get cravings for it now and then.

The problem with vegemite for people who haven’t grown up on the stuff is that their first experience is usually a devastating one – either at the hands of evil Aussie friends or just through ignorance of how one SHOULD try vegemite for the first time.

Don’t ever try it straight from the jar – it might kill you – or at least you might feel that way, in reality it’s harmless, healthy stuff! And don’t ever think you should add it to your bread the way you would any other spread.

I searched around online for an image to share with someone who’s yet to experience vegemite for the first time but I couldn’t find one suitable, they all showed way too much Vegemite for a beginner so I had to go out and buy a loaf of bread just so I could take my own photo – so here’s my little Vegemite tutorial for you all to enjoy.

Click image to enlarge
How to Eat Vegemite

Oh…and if you ever have trouble giving your cat pills – try coating it in vegemite – most of them love the stuff!

Vegemite Kitty

…Well you didn’t expect me to eat that last slice of toast did you??

Australian Inventions

I stumbled across a discussion today that basically accused Australia of having contributed little of significance to the world. It made me angry – angry that so much people take for granted every day was either invented or significantly contributed to in Australia or by Australians. So, I figured I’d start compiling a list. This list is in no way comprehensive, there’s plenty more where this came from.

Medical

  • Bionic (Cochlear) Implant
    Developed by Professor Graeme Clark in the late 1960s at the University of Melbourne Department of Otolaryngology. The prototype multiple-electrode Bionic Ear was implanted in the first adult at The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital by Graeme Clark and colleagues in 1978, The first device for clinical trial world-wide was implanted at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in 1982 and in 1985 the team implanted the first child with a multiple-electrode Bionic Ear. The Australian Bionic Ear has now been implanted in more than 50,000 people in more than 120 countries.
  • Penicillin
    First discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming the Scottish biologist, it was Australian Howard Florey who developed it into a form that could be used to treat infections during WWII and still in use today.
  • Begg Orthodontic Technique (Dental Braces)
    In the 1940s Percy Raymond Begg, an Adelaide orthodontist, began developing a completely new approach to moving teeth. Previous systems relied on complex contraptions including headgear that used “large mechanical forces” on the teeth. Begg’s new system used gentle forces in a more effective way. He used stainless steel wire and worked with Victorian metallurgist, Arthur Wilcock, to develop the best kind of wire for the technique.
  • Electronic Pacemaker
    Was first used at the Sydney Women’s Hospital in 1926 to revive an infant.
  • CPAP Machine
    The Continuous Positive Airways Pressure machine which delivers presurised air through a mask worn on the face while sleeping was invented by Australian Doctor Colin Sullivan in 1981 to treat Sleep Apnea, a potentially deadly medical condition that causes people to stop breathing in their sleep. CPAP is now used by millions worldwide in the treatment of Sleep Apnea.
  • Disposable syringe
    Developed in Adelaide in 1949 by Australian immigrant
    Charles Rothauser. In 1951 Rothauser produced the first syringes made of molded polypropylene, a plastic that can be heat-sterilised.
  • Microsurgery
    The Microsearch Foundation opened in 1973 in Sydney leads the world in microsurgery and has performed many pioneering operations. World firsts include; the first successful re-attachment of an amputated finger in 1968 and the development of reliable methods to restore fertility to men and women who have blockages (natural or as the result of surgery) in the tiny tubes of their reproductive systems. They were also involved in the world’s first hand transplant.
  • IVF Embryo Freezing
    While IVF itself was developed in England in the 1970s, it was a team led by Dr Carl Wood at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne that perfected the equipment and procedures for IVF ‘freeze-thaw’ in 1983.
  • Plastic Spectacle Lenses (bifocal, progressive, scratch resistant)
    In the 1950s, Sola Optical, based in Adelaide, discovered ways of casting a new thermosetting plastic resin called CR39 into an accurate shape and then how to cure the plastic to make it resistant to scratches and then went on to create the first bifocal, trifocal and progressive lenses.
  • Spray on Skin
    Spray on Skin used for burn victims was developed by Doctor Fiona Wood and has been used to great effect since the 2002 Bali terrorist bombings. Spray on Skin improves the speed of healing in severe burn victims.
  • Latex Gloves
    The first disposable medical gloves were manufactured in 1964 by the company Ansel.
  • Aspirin
    Aspro – a form of Asprin used for pain relief.

Transport

  • Black Box Flight Data Recorder
    Every commercial aircraft in the world has one installed. Australian chemist Dave Warren was helping investigate a series of Comet Jet airline crashes in 1953 when he realised the value of being able to hear cockpit conversation that took place before the crash. In 1956 Warren designed the prototype for the flight recorder.
  • Inflatable Aircraft Escape Slide
    Invented in 1965 by QANTAS employee Jack Grant and used by most major airlines worldwide.
  • Ute (Utility Vehicle,”truck”)
    In 1932 an Australian farmer wrote to Ford Australia and asked them to develop a 2-in-1 car that he could drive to church on Sunday and drive the pigs to market on Monday. Ford gave Lewis Bandt the task of coming up with the design and in 1934 both Ford and General Motors released their versions of the Utility Vehicle, a truck with a luxurious interior.
  • Baby safety capsule (safety restraint)
    Invented in 1984 and used since then to protect the lives of millions of infants. Baby safety capsules are less frequently used in other countries around the world due to lack of
    compulsory restraint laws.
  • The Tank
    Invented by South Australian named Lance de Mole in 1912 but ignored by the British War Office while they were making their own inferior version – interesting story
  • Car Radio
    In 1924 the first car radio was fitted to an Australian car built by Kellys Motors in New South Wales.

Technology & Entertainment

  • First Feature Length Film
    Based on length, the first feature film was the 70-minute film “The Story of the Kelly Gang” in 1906.
  • Eddie special effects software
    Software developed in 1991 to
    enable image dissolves, overlays, resizing, and morphing. Before Eddie, film and video animators relied on multiple programs to create the special effects they needed, a time consuming and expensive process. Eddie was used by Animal Logic in the production of the film The Matrix.
  • SmartModem
    Australian Chris Howells with two technicians made a device to interface Apple computers to an IBM Mainframe . Howells went on to create the first Macintosh modem and established the company Netcomm designing faster, smaller modems. The first SmartModem was developed in 1985.
  • Race Cam
    Invented in 1979 by Geoff Healey in Sydney, the small lightweight camera is used in sporting broadcasts to provide a different view during events like motor racing.

Household Items

  • Notebook/Notepad
    In 1902 it was Australian, J.A. Birchall who took a piece of cardboard and some glue and created the first notepad, up until that time paper had only been sold in single sheets.
  • Wine Cask
    It’s first form was developed in the mid 1960s by South Australian family winery, Angove’s and required one to manually squeeze out the air after opening the bag and then holding it closed with a special peg. Australian company Penfolds developed the idea further in 1967 into the wine cask box we know today.
  • Mechanical Refrigeration (Artificially created ice)
    James Harrison invented the first mechanical refrigeration plant, it was built at a Victorian Brewery in the late 1850s produced 3 tonnes of ice per day. Harrison first discovered the process of cooling water could be achieved while working as an editor with the cleaning chemical, ether.
  • Shepherd Castor (Steerable wheels for furniture)
    In 1946, George Shepherd redesigned existing furniture castors that made furniture difficult to move. His improved design swiveled on an angled axle and included a dustproof dome making it more attractive for high class furniture and practical in industrial environments. Shepherd’s design is used on millions of pieces of furniture worldwide.
  • Duel Flush Toilet
    During drought in many Australians adopted the technique of placing a house brick inside the cistern to reduce the amount of water used. During one of Australia’s worst droughts in 1980, with the assistance of a government grant, Caroma company’s Bruce Thompson developed a cistern with two buttons that would release different volumes of water. The new system required the toilet bowl itself to be redesigned to ensure hygienic operation with a reduced amount of water. The new design is shipped to 30 countries worldwide.
  • Staysharp Knife
    Launched in Australia in 1970, the Staysharp knife was invented by Melbourne’s Dennis Jackson after he heard that 80% of Americans didn’t know how to sharpen a knife.
  • Victa Rotary Lawn Mower
    First built in 1952 and based on a machine that was built by boat engine builder Lawrence Hall for his parents’ lawn. The Lawrence machine was crude and impractical but inspired Mervyn Victor Richardson into making a commercially viable product. Since 1952 Victa has sold over 6.5 million lawn mowers in 30 countries.
  • Electric Drill
    Invented in Melbourne in 1889 by Arthur James Arnot.
  • Biodegradable Packaging
    The Cooperative Research Centre for International Food Manufacture and Packaging Science developed new biodegradable packaging materials based on starch in the year 2000.

Agriculture

  • Stump Jump Plough.
  • Grain stripper.
  • Anthrax Vaccine for sheep and cattle.

More Stuff I’m researching:

  • Ballot Box – method of voting confidentially, invented in Victoria in 1956.
  • First Place in the world to give women the vote – 1894.
  • Counterfeit-proof banknotes (Plastic laminated) in 1988.
  • Hills Hoist – rotary clothesline in 1945.
  • Trousers with Permanent Crease.
  • Differential Gears.
  • Surf Life-Saving Reel.
  • Orbital Internal Combustion Engine.
  • Automatic Letter Sorting Machine.
  • Lithium as a treatment for manic depression.
  • The underwater torpedo.
  • Postage Stamps.
  • The imax theatre.
  • Solar Powered Calculator.
  • Efficient solar cells.

Links to more information

Sources: BionicEar.org , www.powerhousemuseum.com, Wikipedia , Tomorrow’s World, the Australian Initiative, 100 Years of Innovation,

Making the Most of your Website

“If you build it, they will come”….or not….

Often, people are under the mistaken impression that if they build a website, they’ll suddenly get a bunch of people visiting their site wanting whatever they have on offer. Unfortunately, we’re not living in a crazy movie-like world and it takes a lot more work than that. It’s important to have a well designed site – that will help with search engine ranking and any web designer worth their weight will know all the most effective way of optimising your site for SEO (Search Engine Ranking) but there’s only so far that will go.

Below are some tips I hope you will find helpful and while predominantly aimed at businesses, the general principle applies to all websites.

Let People Know!

When you have invested in a website, you need to make sure that it reaches the widest possible viewing population. In addition to having your website listed in all the major search engines, you need to consider the following:

Add your website address to:

  • Business Cards
  • Letterheads
  • Brochures
  • Invoices
  • Yellow Pages Advertisements
  • Newspaper Advertisements
  • Radio Advertisements
  • TV Advertisements
  • Signage On Your Vehicles
  • General Signage
  • Outgoing Emails
  • Online Business/Community Listings
  • Related Websites (banner advertisements may work well)
  • Phone on-hold messages & answering machines
  • Links on other relevant websites

Whenever people see your business name they should see your website address as well.

You may also consider offering periodic special offers to members of the community who visit your website.

Keep it Up to Date

Aside from a professional look, the thing that contributes most to making a successful website is keeping the information fresh. You should think about updating your website at least once a month with any new information available. Stale information won’t bring people back to your site and it won’t bring search engine spiders either.

Some Tips on Avoiding Spam

Unfortunately, it is impossible to avoid spam completely, but there are some steps you can take to help reduce the amount of spam you’re likely to receive.

Anchor Web Design employ a number of methods when designing websites that will make it harder for spambots (automatic programs that will scan websites for email addresses) to harvest your email address from your website, but there are also some things you can do to help cut down on spam.

Don’t publicise your email address. Obviously, sometimes this is unavoidable, if you didn’t publicise your address people you want to contact you would not be able to, but avoid publicising your email address unless it is necessary.

Don’t sign up for internet “freebies”. This includes things like greeting cards. Sending people online greeting cards (particularly the free ones) may get your email address on spam lists and the address of the person you’re sending the card to as well. Don’t be tricked into thinking you can win things (like an iPod) by submitting your email address to a website.

Don’t use your “real” email address in online registration forms, message boards, chat rooms, instant message services like MSN or Yahoo Messenger etc. You can create and use a free email service like Hotmail or Gmail for this purpose – this will help to keep any spam generated through these avenues away from your primary email address. Free email addresses are disposable and you can just sign up for a new one if you get fed up.

Try to use an “unguessable” name when creating a new email address. Words like admin@ or info@ or common first names are very easy for spammers to guess. Spammers purchase lists of registered domain names and will then send out hundreds of emails using guessed names for these domains. The harder your email name is to guess, the better chance you have of avoiding this type of spamming method.

Never click on “remove me from this list” or “unsubscribe” options in spam emails. Typically all this will do is confirm that they have a valid email address to continue spamming and sell to other spammers.

Never follow website links in spam messages. This includes emails from “banks”, “ebay”, “paypal” etc. There are many scams going around that will LOOK like they’re from a bank etc, but are actually just copies of the real thing that are designed to harvest not just your email address but sensitive information like account numbers and passwords. If you get emails from services like those listed above, the first thing to check is if they’ve used your full name, your bank etc will ALWAYS personalise their emails, they will never write to “dear customer” etc.

Stay away from Network Solutions – seriously!

Most people working on websites on at least a semi-regular basis will be aware that if you’re thinking about registering a shiny new domain name, you need to be careful not to talk to people about it openly or you risk someone running off and registering it ahead of you – then offering to sell it for lots of money.

I’ve always been careful in this respect, and have heard that there are domain registrars out there that you need to be careful about – some of them will steal domain names right out from under you if you search for one and don’t register it immediately but I’d never heard any specific companies mentioned, until recently.

I decided to put this one to the test myself – I went to Network Solutions and searched for a nice catchy domain “networksolutionsscam.com” and then didn’t register it… checked it a short time later I did a whois on the domain and surprise surprise – it’s now registered by Network Solutions.

The moral of the story – steer clear of this particular company at all costs & if you’re thinking about registering a domain? Don’t go searching for it and then waiting till later – you need to go ahead and get it right away unless you don’t mind losing it altogether.