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Check My Click
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A while ago I programmed my blogs in such a way that visitors who attempt to visit my blogs via mobile devices would be "blocked". Instead of reaching my blog they reached a mobile-friendly page explainer which told them that my blogs were meant to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee or glass of wine while surfing the web from a home PC or laptop.

In essence I decided to give up running two production houses: One for the PC web and the other for mobile, favoring the former. In my mind the predicament boiled down to the problem that must have beset producers at the cusp of radio and television. You have a show to play but where do you play it? After all your show will not project the same on both mediums.

So I decided I would stick with the PC web and control for presentational bleed by programtically discouraging mobile visitors. And it worked. Without concerning myself with the endless perimeter of the visiting universe I was able to focus my development to produce faster and more in depth articles.

Still, I couldn't help but wonder why it was so difficult to serve both audiences comfortably on a platform that was designed specifically to remain open to all (that platform being the web which you've probably forgotten about if Facebook is getting its way).

I thought about it a long time and then realized that maybe I needed to re-think at least part of the problem. It's true that I didn't want the overhead of composing for two foundations, but what if there wasn't an overhead for the important part which is each blog entry itself?

Mobile visitors are not interested in a blog's larger presentation. They are darting out to content from their social media applications before withdrawing directly (and quickly) back. To them one's "blog" is nothing more than the single entry they focused on for all of a minute before getting back to LOLing party pictures in their newsfeeds.

On this angle and as master of my own blogging engine, I decided to alter it so that mobile-friendly output existed concurrent to the PC based output. I could not do this for the entire blogging engine which would essentially mean re-writing it from the ground up in unfamiliar code, but, I could do it using simple HTML and a "redirect" to output that drew directly from the same entry database. I just needed a separate entry rendering script that took the same text as that which appeared on the PC version and re-composed it in mobile-friendly HTML.

It took a day, but that's what I've done. And if I've done it right, you can view this very entry on a PC with no aggravating contortion to look good on "both" PC and mobile. Or, you can click on a link in your dang-nabbit "Facebook web" and find yourself looking at a clean scrollable article that looks great on your phone.

I draw a deep sigh, click "Publish", and sit back to see what happens.

About TampaScan
project
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TampaScan was a web page resource for police and public safety scanning hobbyists in Tampa Florida. Of course it has not existed for a very long time although I believe that a vibrant scanning community continues to exist in and around Tampa and Hillisborough County. There are probably not as many single-publisher efforts but for sure one can rely on the Hillsborough County Radio Reference website for good information.

Buffcam Launched
project photos
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Capture of rainbow from Buffcam perspective.

I've launched Buffcam. It's just a weathercam type thing of the Buffalo skyline. You can visit the page (presented in high definition Mumblecore HTML) to read more about and just enjoy it for whatever value.

What was kind of neat though was that not minutes after getting all the pieces working together a rainbow appeared, thus making a rainbow one of the first few images to come from the system.

Linkage

Stepping Stone Demonstration
project
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I just posted this video demonstration of "Stepping Stone" which was a program I released in 1999 that provided users a way to store web links and then browse through them by simply clicking.

Video demonstration of Stepping Stone

The program was obviously very crude. It worked by placing a strip above a running Internet Explorer session (and only Internet Explorer, it didn't work with Netscape) that contained left and right control buttons. Users navigated by clicking either and thus moving through a stored list of URLs. The process meant users could avoid returning to a Favorites folder each time to move on to the next page, a process which involved multiple clicks and possible repetitive navigation. Stepping Stone was a "one click solution".

Users could build theme files which were sets of URL links and create browsing sessions that focused on one particular topic or routine. For example one theme file could be dedicated to the user's favorite blogs or newspapers. Another could be dedicated to sports or hobby sites.

The tool offered a way for users to build an intimacy with their websites similar to the way they did when they read a morning newspaper in some favorite order (front page first, sports, business, then the comics).

The program circulated awhile but never evolved. My hope in posting this video is that someone will be inspired to reincarnate the program as a web and even mobile app. Efforts that I will strive for myself but fear I will never do as well as many others. It's an excellent, overlooked, concept.

Curious parties can still download the program. (and in fact here is the albeit broken version of the old support page).

In the video Stepping Stone is running in a virtual XP Windows session; it doesn't seem to work in Windows 10 although I'm fairly sure I remember it working in Vista and Windows 7 and through Internet Explorer 11. The last release was technically buggy in that the program is apparently hardcoded to depend on files from incorrect path ("C:\stepping2"), but that can be resolved by actually creating "C:\stepping2" and copying default.htm , error.log , nospam.htm and stone1.htm from the actual install path which on today's x64 PCs isC:\Program Files (x86)\stepping2 . The program will run after that although the first couple of URLs it hits in the default theme file will be outdated.

A Guy Shortcut
project
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Tommorow I'm launching the A Guy At His Computer project. You can read more about that as well as get the links explaining the project in my previous post.

A Guy At His Computer Status Screen Shot.

Screenshot of A Guy At His Computer Status Screen

If you're interested in participating you'll need to review the status screen before placing a call. To make that easier I created a status screen page that should look good on mobile devices. It works best if you create a shortcut on your home screen for it so for that follow these instructions.

A Guy At His Computer
project jobhunt
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In my last post I talked about how I'm taking advantage of the "Gig Economy" to make my unemployment savings last longer by shoveling snow. It's not always snowing so I'm adding a little something different to the pot. For quite some time I've wanted to develop A Guy At His Computer which is basically a kind of telephone concierge service for people who need information but don't want to fuss with a mobile app. Such a service would not be complicated, it would literally just be a guy (me) sitting at his computer taking calls, Googling, and providing information to callers.

While I find myself sitting on my ass a lot these days filling out online apps and waiting for callbacks it occurred to me this is actually a great time to develop and test the concept. Maybe even make a little side scratch via tips from extremely satisfied callers. Hence, I spent today coding it up and releasing a crude framework of operation and will officially launch on Monday. Starting then, anyone needing information from the Interwebs can dial my number and give me a chance to provide it.

Here's an example conversation I imagine:

A Guy At His Computer: "Hi, thank you for calling A Guy At His Computer, how can I help you?"

Caller: 'I'm standing here waiting for the university shuttle. Do you know where it is right now? I'm a student at UB at the South Campus loop area."

A Guy At His Computer: "No problem, they have a live shuttle tracker, let me just pull up the express route GPS map."

Caller: "Thanks!"

A Guy At His Computer: (after some clicking and typing noise) "Ah, a shuttle just crossed Sheridan Avenue and is headed your way."

Caller: "Awesome, that's about 5 minutes or so then, thanks a lot Guy!"

A Guy At His Computer: "No problem, thanks for calling A Guy At His Computer!"

Mind you this initial launch is not the "enterprise" version of the service, just a crude example of it based on the budget and time I have to actually run it. If it tests well and I fall into a few thousand dollars someday, perhaps I'll grow it into something that looks legit. Right now I just need to toy with it in a loose way to see if it's viable and what kind of issues crop up.

The service lives under the domain aguyathiscomputer.com but for now it just forwards to the guts of it all at davethewebguy.com.

For more information check the links below.

Linkage

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