Goodbye, ExtraLife Radio, My Old Friend

This past Friday I feel like an era ended as Scott Johnson, creator of the ExtraLife webcomic, announced that the ExtraLife Radio podcast (ELR) would be shutting its doors.  Ordinarily, there’s not much cause to write about a podcast that was or has gone away (a.k.a. podfading), but that’s not what happened here.  The show was still, even in its more recent highly irregular schedule, as entertaining as it ever was.  However, I really felt the need to mention that this podcast was not just one of my all time favorites, it was one of the ones that carried me through so much change in my life.

In 2004, my wife and I moved from Massachusetts to Orlando, Florida.  A cross state move can be a harrowing, stressful, thing, and on top of that I’m a very obsessed individual who stresses constantly about everything especially change.  And with packing, moving, and all the things that came with it – including the 2004 hurricane season in Florida, I needed something to calm me down.  On top of that, I had decided that with my move that I wanted to start doing better by myself physically.  At this time I weighed close to 290 pounds.

During  a brief trip back up to Massachusetts at the end of the summer to visit our old Temple for High H0ly Days, we stopped at a store in New Hampshire and I got my first iPod – I was convinced that this was to be a key factor toward my starting to loose weight.  I’m an infonaut, so I was instantly drawn to podcasts, and ExtraLife Radio was one of the very first I’d come across – yes I was probably one of the first listeners.  And with that I started walking.

Now, I’m still walking (5K+ at least 5 times a week), I’m 50+ pounds lighter than I was then, and I was still listening to ELR whenever a new episode appeared in iTunes.  However, when I pushed play on ELR this past week, I had no idea that it was to be the final episode – I didn’t learn that until Scott tweeted a link to a blog post about it from his @extralife Twitter account.  Checking iTunes, I found a recorded reading of the blog post (it also included an extended dance remix version of the ELR theme song). Reading and listening, it surprised me, but I completely understand where Scott is coming from in his farewell – a full moon is always more exciting than a waning one.  Going out on top is the right choice.

So I just wanted to write this post to thank Scott Johnson, Brian Dunaway, and Obsidian for all the time I’ve spent with them these past years.  Every minute was worth it.  Dean Cain forever.

TouringPlans.com Lines: Consumption, Contribution, & Gaming

For those that don’t know, TouringPlans.com is the website for the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (*ding*).  “The Guide” is a favorite among travelers to Walt Disney World, and the Disney online community, especially fans of the WDW Today Podcast.  The greatest asset of the book and the site is the sheer amount of data that sits behind them.  This is not stagnant data taken years ago that is only somewhat correct, or worse, mostly incorrect.  Instead this is a very up to date set of data that is constantly being tweaked, finely tuned, and analyzed by their team to bring to us, the consumer, as accurate an experience as possible.

Back in November of 2009, TouringPlans.com  announced a new web based application for the iPhone called Lines.  Since that time it has grown to include versions for Android, Palm, and Blackberry devices.  At it’s core, it is a means by which, from your smartphone, you can access what is generally the most coveted of all Disney Theme Park knowledge, “How long am I going to have to stand in this line?” Continue reading “TouringPlans.com Lines: Consumption, Contribution, & Gaming”

Movie Review: The Spy Next Door

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Jackie Chan's House
Jackie Chan's House

I have to be honest with you up front, I’m a huge Jackie Chan fan.  I’m not just talking the modern day “American” movie star Jackie Chan that has come about with movies like Rush HourAround the World in 80 Days, and The Tuxedo.  No, I’m talking about classic, pirate fighting, Project A Jackie Chan.  I’ve even included the picture on the left to show that I’ve whizzed past the man’s house at 30 mph on a Hollywood tour bus just to catch a glimpse.  And I confess all this to you because while the cinema student in me says that this movie was only 3 stars, my appreciation for all things Jackie Chan has required me to give it an extra half star – just on principle. Continue reading “Movie Review: The Spy Next Door”

Integrating Twitter and WordPress

I’ve known about WordPress for a long time, and this is the first time I’m really playing with it in order to integrate a blog into my online presence. Like many these days, I have a Twitter account, so I made this my first target for integration.  There were four primary goals here:

  1. Make it so that when I post a blog entry have it automatically posted to Twitter.
  2. Show my recent tweets.
  3. Show my favorite tweets.
  4. Show the photos I’ve tied to my Twitter account using Twitpic.

Continue reading “Integrating Twitter and WordPress”

Recent Tweets CSS Makeover

Played a bit with styles for the Recent Tweets widget from Twitter Tools.  I just wanted to give it some pizazz.  To do this I made the Tweets it shows look/behave somewhat like they do on on the Twitter home page.  First you’ll notice that I replaced the bullets with a smaller version of the social media icon I used (see the top right of the blog).  Then I placed a very grey one pixel line above list item in the widget.  And finally I set each Tweet so that when the mouse hovers over it it gets a darker grey background.

The CSS code looks like this:

/* Twitter Tools */
.aktt_tweets ul li { font-size: 85%; list-style-image: url(tweet.png); border-width: 0; border-top: 1px solid #EEEEEE; }
.aktt_tweets ul li:hover { background-color: #F7F7F7; }
.aktt_tweets .aktt_more_updates { list-style-image: none; list-style-type: none; font-size: 75%; font-weight: bold; font-variant: small-caps; }
.aktt_tweets .aktt_more_updates:hover { background-color: transparent; }

Edit: Forgot to mention how the syntax highlighting block above works.  This is done using the WP-Syntax plugin which uses GeSHi style syntax highlighting.  Basically it involves specifying a language in your <pre> block. For example the block above is using <pre lang=”css”>.

Blog Tweets… Yeah Yeah

Well, I bailed on Su.pr fairly quickly.  It simply would not work, and I don’t have a high degree of tolerance for things that are not well documented.  Don’t get me wrong I have no beef with StumbleUpon – they are a great site.  I just think the Su.pr service requires better documentation.  That’s all.

That had be head to the plugin directory at the WordPress site.  Didn’t take long to find something that seems like it will do the job for me: Twitter Tools.

While the plugin can do cross polination (meaning Tweets go to the Blog, and Blog posts go to Twitter), for my needs I really only want a one way trail.  The way I have things now my Tweets already go to Facebook (again see social links on the top right of the blog).  This means that when the plugin posts to Twitter, I’ll also get that reflected on Facebook.  For me that works.

It also has some other features: Daily and Weeky Digests.  I’ve went with Weekly.  I simply don’t feel that I’m a prolific enough Tweeter to need a Daily Digest, but that a Weekly one makes sense.  I’ve set it to post at 6pm every Friday night when Shabbat starts.  This works for me because normally I don’t Tweet or post on Facebook during Shabbat since this marks the end of my week.

The final feature I turned on is the visible one with the widget on the right hand side.  It needs some CSS work still, but it’s ok for now.  I have it showing my last 3 tweets.  I’m not entirely clear how often this updates – I’ll have to keep an eye out.