Saturday, July 22, 2017

Upgraded PCLINUXOS and a new mouse

A few things that I had to do for the Linux box.  For the last couple of weeks I have noticed at times I would get a double click on the mouse when I pressed only once.  I am not surprised there as the machine is used for a MMORPG (Runescape)for at least one hour a day.  Reading online forums it is somewhat common and if you are brave you can disassemble the mouse and fix the issue.  I am not willing to do that so I checked out the stores and the Logitech mouse was on sale and I picked up a new one.  The old one still works and I will take the batteries out and store it as an emergency mouse.

The other thing is PCLINUXOS has stopped upgrading KDE 4 and a couple of packages I use are not being upgraded.  This is not a huge deal as it has been a few years so I am overdue for a system upgrade.  I used the backup software to create a TAR, but, I didn't notice I clicked the option to compress every file.  I made two copies, one to a USB hard drive and a second to a USB stick.  I then verified that the files were readable on another system before I started to reformat and rebuild this machine.  Like before it didn't take very long to install and reboot.  That is when I noticed that all the files I backed up were compressed with the BZ2 extension.

I did a lot of online reading and found a number of forums with fancy scripts that could do the work, but, rather than me taking a few hours of setting up a script and then run I would do it all manual.  It isn't as bad as you might think.  The major directory was all of my files on Google and I just reinstalled GRIVE2 and re-synced in about 30 minutes.  The other files I used midnight commander, navigated to each directory and manually typed 'bzip2 -d *.bz2'.  Midnight commander has a nice feature, if you press [ALT]-P it will bring up the prior command(s).  I used that for the Thunderbird, Firefox, documents and photo folders and in about 1 hour I was done.  I had to do each folder and sub-folder as bzip2 didn't have an option I could see that would allow me to automatically unpack recursively the folders.

KDE5 does look somewhat similar to KDE4 so the change isn't that jarring.  The theme that was the default I wasn't thrilled with, but, that is also easy to change.  So far it seems to be running smoothly and it feels faster (I haven't done any timings there).

There are still a few more things like configuring my network printer, reinstall the XSANE scanner software, but, just about everything else is there by default.  I also have to get accustomed to the new mouse as it is a bit smaller and I am accidentally right-clicking the mouse.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A mini-rant on the state of store web pages

Too many stores don't take time to build a web site that is user friendly.  They are probably going with the experts who say it is perfect, but, take it from me they are far from perfect.  There are a few that I have problems with and it is frustrating in the least when I am looking for products.

I check out the online sites to see what products are available, their specs, reviews and prices.  When I see something I am wanting to buy I prefer going to the store to check it out the product before I purchase.

A few not-so-humble suggestions for your online sites:
  • Allow us to pick online only.  Many people do order online, but, for those of us who want to be able to go into the store and check out the product so we can make the final decision before buying give us the option of seeing only what is in the store.
  • Same goes for your affiliates.  Again, if I am interested I will click on the box to show them.
  • If the product is not available allow us select a check box so as NOT TO SEE them.  If they are not available, or sold out, then I don't want to see it.  This is the equivalent of empty shelves in the store.  If it isn't there then I am not interested in seeing a pretty picture. If not available, give an option quickly inform us how long it would take for it to be stocked locally.
  • This is a biggie and too many sites do this.  Check boxes are only that, you click on them and there is a check mark or it is empty.  Clicking on it WILL NEVER initiate an update, that is completely against what click boxes are for.  Allow the user to select what they want to see and then have a 'REFRESH SELECTION' button to present the user what they want to see (example below).
  • When I tell you NO on my location respect it! There is a site that every page I go to it asks me for my location and I keep telling it no.  The same goes for asking for my postal code and not allowing me to see anything until I do.  When I want to tell you my location (to see if stock is available locally) I will tell you and not until then.
  • Keep the scripting and fancy images to a minimum.  Not everyone runs the latest hardware that can handle all of the scripting quickly.  I have a high end machine for development work and pages there renders quickly, however, I have a netbook that I also use for development work and the same page sometimes takes up to a minute to render and that is not acceptable.
  • Test your pages for IE, Edge, Chrome and Firefox.  Too often I have to open up another browser so that your pages will properly render.  Again, follow the W3C standards for your pages and thoroughly test your pages.

For those thinking these are small business the answer to that is no.  These are large multi-national corporations who I would expect to be able to afford great web developers with the skills and knowledge to build sites that make it easy for customers to quickly find what they are looking for, confirm that the product is available locally. 

Check out the W3C site for web standards and how to develop a website that should work cross platform and with different browsers. 

It has been a while since I coded web pages, but, if I remember correctly you can use the following as an example of how to do check boxes.  Change the { and } to < and >.  I changed the values so that you can see the code and not the form.

{form}
{div}
   {input type="checkbox" id="In Store" name="instore" value="itisinstore"}
   {label for="In Store"}Show product that is in store?{/label}
   {input type="checkbox" id="Online Store" name="onlinestore" value="itisinonlinestore"}
   {label for="Online Store"}Show product that are in the online only store?{/label}
   {input type="checkbox" id="Out of Stock" name="outofstock" value="outofstock"}
   {label for="Out of Stock"}Show product that are temporarily out of stock?{/label}
{/div}
{div}
   {button type="submit"}Refresh your selection{/button}
{/div}
{/form}

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Trying out Open Live Writer for my Blogger sites

I have been using Firefox for Blogger for my creating and editing various blog articles.  While it works I didn’t have any offline tools to compose my blogs unless I was using my Android tablet.  My Android tablet has an app that does the basic work quite well, but, I was looking for a similar tool for my Windows machine.  I am trying out a new package called Open Live Writer that may allow me to compose offline.  If you are familiar with Word or Libre Office you will be comfortable with the editor.  In Windows 10 this application is available in the app store just a click away.

The initial set up was a bit of work as I have multiple blogs, but, it took only about 15 minutes to download the various settings for all of my blogs.  As I go on I also have been adding automatic links.  This is a nice feature as I can use a word/phrase and the package will automatically insert the link the first time I use it in my blog.  The category option is very nice as it is a drop down list and I can click on the tags appropriate to the blog and quickly add new tags.

The tool is basic, but, it does what I need it to do.  There are a couple of things I would like to see in the future.

  • Import of past postings so I can see and modify the post;
  • Change the default font and size.