Category Archives: Noteworthy

My wife and I bought one of these on our way out of Target the other day. Sure it was expensive, but it was cold and we were thirsty. Having said that, I’d rather drink motor oil than ever have this stuff again. The drink is horribly sweet and nasty. I figure this stuff mostly helps you lose weight by destroying your appetite (as well as your desire to live).

In response to the Enviga post on the ProductWiki.

Recipe: Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia

A long time back my wife found a recipe for cooking up tilapia. It was fabulous. We thought the recipe had been added to this site but when we went to find the recipe to make dinner tonight; it was missing. Now I’ll be amoung the first to admit the search on this site doesn’t work as well as it should1. But I work with MySQL databases for a living and I poked around in the database this site runs off of without being able to find any trace of that recipe. So we did some searching and ended up using a different recipe tonight. To make sure we don’t have this problem again, I’m adding the recipe right now.

Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspooons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 tilapia fillets (about 1 pound total)
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º.
  2. In a shallow dish, combine the cheese with the paprika and parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Drizzle the fish with olive oil and dredge in the cheese mixture.
  4. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the fish is opaque in the thickest part, 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Serve the fish with the lemon wedges.

© 2007 The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.

1 I’ve even installed plugins specifically to try correcting this, without much luck.

Web Design for Business Owners

In my day job, I deal with massive databases of business listing information. Occasionally, I am required to go through those listings to review the sites attached to the listings. And for the love of god, people you’re making my eyes bleed. In hopes that some of you out there find this blog post and are willing to fix your site, here’s a few tips.

Give your homepage the title of your company.

When you build your site, make sure your company’s name is the title of your home page. It should not be things like: “Welcome!”, “email”, “under construction” or “index”. This makes your site both more professional and easier for search engines to properly index your site.

Do not use massive amounts of Macromedia Flash/Javascript/Animated Gifs.

Some truly amazing things can be done with Flash. Using it to animate your navigation is not one of them. Flash is best used sparingly as it limits your audience, blocking the blind for your site and users of mobile internet devices (e.g. cellphones).

Likewise, javascript should be sparingly and the site should degrade gracefully when a user without javascript visits. Which is to say if your navigation or other major site features break without javascript; then you’ve done something wrong. So go back and fix it!

The occasional animated gif can add impact and interest to your site; while dozens are annoying and look amateurish.

Color is important, but try not to blind your site visitors.

When you blind your site visitors with odd bad color choices; they will move on to your competitors. Along the same lines if you have overly complicated background images behind the text of your website; you are marking it harder for people to read what you have to say. Keep it simple for maximum impact.

Make sure all your links have logical names.

Naming your various pages as: “Page 1”, “Page 2”, etc… might seem simple and easy, but it makes those links useless to your visitors. How can anyone other than you know that “Page 1” is the page where you sell dildos or whether it is the page where you’re selling balloons? They can only find out by clicking the link.

Avoid Comic Sans MS

While Comic Sans MS may seem like a fun, cheery sort of font to you; it’s been greatly overused and most people find it annoying/unprofessional.

So faithful readers that’s my list of big tips for the small business owner who wants a web presense. Did I miss one of your hot button issues? If so, please add it in a comment!

Updated: 2007-03-19

Kind readers have added some extremely good tips that I should have remembered in the comments on this post!

Warning: Dannon 7 Benefits All Natural Coffee Yogurt

When I get up in the morning, one of my first thoughts is usually along the lines of how good that alarm clock would look when smashed into a million pieces. Given this is the case, I tend to sleep as late as I can and still get to work on time. Doing this does not give me a lot of time in the morning for breakfast. I try to make up for this by eating a cup of yogurt as my first breakfast and then later in the morning I get a granola bar as second breakfast.

Additionally, I don’t like to waste money1 so I tend to buy whatever yogurt is on sale. When I did this Tuesday, the grocery store had Dannon yogurt on sale at 20 cups for $10 or 50¢ a cup. This makes them just barely cheaper than the store brand yogurt. I thought I’d give them a try and picked up 10 cups in a variety of flavors.

Yesterday, I cracked open my first cup of the Dannon yogurt and had selected 7 Benefits All Natural Coffee Yogurt. Once I had the foil cover off the cup of yogurt I knew this was not going to be good. The color of the yogurt reminded me of things I’d blown out of my nose, last time I had a bad sinus infection. For extra unpleasantness, there was a thing layer of oil or maybe water on top. I mixed the yogurt up with my spoon, starting by smashing it straight down into the yogurt. To my mind some of the yogurt should have stuck to the spoon when I lifted it out of the cup. Also, the yogurt should have moved together to fill in the holes where I’d stabbed down into it with my spoon. Alas, neither of these events transpired. Then I did a more traditional mixing2 and prepared to take my first bite.

*horrified shudder*

Imagine if you will the worst office coffee you’ve ever had. With extra creamer. Gone all cold and solidified. Now add in an unhealthy dollop of chalkiness and you’ll almost understand what it tasted like. Of course, that’s not the worst part of this story. The worst part is I have another cup of it in my fridge and I’ll be eating it in the next week or so. Yes I know I will hate it, but if I just throw it away then it’s wasting money. *sigh*

1 Some people would say I’m cheap.
2 Swirling the yogurt around in a circular fashion using my spoon.

ALSA & Crystal 4237B Revisited

I’ve written before about trying to get sound working on my ancient laptop. When Ubuntu Breezy (5.10) was released; I wiped my laptop and reloaded it from scratch. Unfortunately, this version of Ubuntu also failed to auto-detect/setup my laptop’s soundcard. After much googling and reading of the Ubuntu Forums, I finally got the sound working!

Below, I’ve summarized everything I read and tried in getting this working:

  1. Edit /boot/grub/menu.lst and add acpi=off to the end of the options for the kernel1.
  2. Install libsdl1.2debian-alsa via Synaptic.
  3. Removed /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.
  4. Created /etc/modprobe.d/alsa2.
  5. Added snd-cs4236 to the bottom of /etc/modules.

Mind you that summary leaves out dozens of pages of instructions, including the various diagnostics I ran to try figuring out what was wrong. Some of those diagnostics were:

  • lspci -v — No help to me as my soundcard is connected via ISA and not PNP.
  • lspnp -v — This would only detect my soundcard after I turned off acpi.
  • dmesg | grep -i "isa\|multi\|sound\|audio" — This might give you more info about the soundcard, but didn’t help me.
  • pnpdump — This might give you more info about the soundcard, but didn’t help me

Additionally, I ran across several recommendations for the options line in /etc/modprobe.d/alsa but the version of the file listed in the footnotes is the only one which worked for me.

Lastly, if you have this laptop there is a considerable amount of good information still available on Dell’s website for it. For example, apparently there is a Windows/DOS utility for configuring the IRQs and whatnot that the soundcard uses. Fortunately, I didn’t have to try downloading it and finding some way to run it but the option is there if you need it.

1/boot/grub/menu.lst
title Ubuntu, kernel 2.6.12-9-386
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.12-9-386 root=/dev/hda1 ro quiet splash acpi=off
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.12-9-386
savedefault
boot

2/etc/modprobe.d/alsa
alias char-major-116 snd
alias char-major-14 soundcore
alias snd-card-0 snd-cs4236
options snd-cs4236 port=0x530 cport=0x210 isapnp=0 dma1=1 dma2=0 irq=5
alias sound-slot-0 snd-card-0
alias sound-slot-1 snd-card-1

alias sound-service-0-0 snd-mixer-oss
alias sound-service-0-1 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-3 snd-pcm-oss
alias sound-service-0-8 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-12 snd-pcm-oss

alias /dev/mixer snd-mixer-oss
alias /dev/dsp snd-pcm-oss
alias /dev/midi snd-seq-oss

options snd cards_limit=1

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