Category Feeds Being Removed

As part of the site revision process, I’ve decided to do away with the category-specific feeds. These feeds, which cover Excel, Mac OS, Word, and WordPress content, are being utilized by less than 100 people. If you’re reading this message in your feed reader, YOU might be one of them.

Within a month or so, these feeds will simply not work. Delete them from your reader.

If you want to continue receiving content from this site via RSS, please subscribe to the main feed, using one of the following URLs:

Major Site Update Planned

I am embarrassed about this mess and will start fixing it today.

It boggles my mind how bad I’ve let this site become. Cluttered, tiny print, bad links, missing files, out-of-date content. And what’s with the missing spaces after certain punctuation? I typed them there — why don’t they appear?

Why do you let me get away with this?

Well, help is on the way. I begin reconstructive surgery on this site this afternoon. Not only will I be changing it’s entire look and interface, but I’ll be removing a lot of very old material and all the bad links that frustrate visitors to no end.

I expect the changes to take about a week to finish, so hang on and bear with me. Feedback is always welcome; you can add your comments to this post and get a discussion going. Be sure to tell me what you do and don’t like as things progress. And, if you have any wish lists for the site, now is the time to speak up.

Ready? Let’s get to it then!

October 26, 2011 Update:
I’ve finally started work on the changes. So far, I’ve changed the site’s overall design, removed a bunch of outdated content, and reorganized topics. I’ve also restructured the menu system at the top of the page. More changes coming. Bear with me as I continue working on this.

October 27, 2011 Update:
I’ll be spending most of today going through the 400+ posts uploaded here since 2003, weeding out the old junk no one cares about, and recategorizing and tagging what remains. Can you say tedious? But I think it’s worth it to have good, easy-to-find content here.

October 30, 2011 Update:
I finally finished going through all the posts on this site. I removed more than 100 out-of-date or uninteresting posts, leaving behind a total of 317 for your reading pleasure. All posts have been properly categorized and tagged. I also fine-tuned the layout, increasing the font size of the sidebar so people like me could read it. (Getting old sucks.) Next up, I’ll convert pages to posts and fit them into the hierarchy. I’ll also re-add the information about my work and contact form. Would love to get some feedback about the site changes so far. Comments, anyone?

Twitter Users Wanted

Need active Twitter users for upcoming Twitter course.

Twitter logoI’m getting ready to revise my Twitter course for Lynda.com and, as usual, am looking for about 20 active Twitter user accounts to follow while recording the course. These accounts will be included in the timelines displayed onscreen.

If you don’t mind your Twitter account appearing in the course — or perhaps you’d really like it to appear in the course — take a moment and drop me an e-mail message. I’ll send you the release form we need signed and returned to be a part of this project.

Keep in mind that volunteering to show your tweets does not guarantee they will be shown. Because of the nature of the course material, we need to avoid displaying Tweets that are “R-rated” (or worse), including Tweets with foul language, tweets with offensive humor, or Tweets that include inappropriate images or themes. I hope you understand.

If you’ve volunteered before and would like to do it again, just let me know. I should still have your paperwork on file.

Learn More on Lynda.com

Get more from your software.Want to Learn More about Using Twitter?
Learn online at Lynda.com. Recently revised and expanded, my Twitter course includes more than three hours of video training material that’ll help you get more out of Twitter. Check it out. If you’re not a Lynda.com subscriber, be sure to visit to try some of the free videos. I think you’ll be hooked.

How to Install Raw Camera Update 3.5 without Buying iPhoto ’11 or Aperture

And why you might want to do that.

I recently purchased a Nikon D7000 camera as an upgrade from my nearly 4 year old Nikon D80. (What an upgrade!) It was part of my attempt to improve my photography by using better equipment. Another part of that was shooting in raw and using processing tools like those available in Photoshop to fine-tune my images.

NEF in FinderI shot my first bunch of images last week and was very surprised to find that the raw images, which have Nikon’s .NEF file extension, did not appear with preview images in the Finder (shown here). I also could not use Quick Look, or open the raw images in any application on my Mac.

The reason this surprised me is that I could see, preview, Quick Look, and open the .NEF images created by my Nikon D80.

I did some research and discovered that the raw format is camera specific — a fact I’d kind of known all along — and I set out to find the software update that would allow me to see them. I was rather surprised that I’d missed the update, since I use Software Update and generally install all updates, whether I need them or not. I assumed I’d somehow skipped this particular update.

Raw 3.5 UpdaterI found the Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.5, which included support for the D7000, on Apple’s Web site, downloaded it, opened the disk image (DMG) file, and started the installation. The splash screen clearly stated that the updater added raw camera compatibility for a handful of new cameras to Aperture 3 and iPhoto ’11. I didn’t have either one of these installed. I don’t own Aperture — I’ve been using Photoshop forever — and I hadn’t yet updated to iPhoto ’11 from iPhoto ’09. But I assumed that an Apple update would add support to Mac OS X 10.6.6, which was installed on my Mac, so at least I’d be able to see previews of NEF images in the Finder.

Can't InstallMy third surprise (if you’re keeping count) came when the installer told me it could not install the software. The message made it clear that I needed to have Aperture 3 or iPhoto 9 (confusingly, this is the version number for iPhoto ’11, not iPhoto ’09) installed to install the update.

I was stuck.

I did more research and discovered an alternative method for viewing previews and using those Nikon D7000 raw images. More on that in another post.

But then I discovered a workaround for the installation problem. Apple offered a free Aperture 3.1 trial on its Web site. Several Twitter friends had recommended Aperture and I was interested in giving it a try. So I downloaded the trial version and installed it.

You can probably guess what’s coming. Because I now had Aperture 3.1 installed, I could also install the Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.5 software. I ran the installer and it successfully installed on my hard disk.

Quick Look NEFAfter running Aperture once — just to make sure my Mac knew I had it installed — I went back to the Finder folder full of NEF images from my D7000. Still no icon previews, but I think that’s because my Mac expected to open them in Photoshop CS3, which did not support the D7000 NEFs either. But when I selected an image and used Mac OS X’s Quick Look feature (Command-Y), the NEF preview appeared in the Quick Look window.

Oddly, a preview icon also appeared for some (but not all?) of the NEF files in the photos folder on the SD card. I’m not sure why only some of them were affected, but they were the later ones. Maybe they’ll all show up as icons the next time I insert this disk? When I copied the folder to my hard disk, all the NEF files appeared with preview icons.

So I guess I can say that I set out to do what I wanted to do. I can only assume that the support for NEF file icon previews will continue even if I decide not to buy Aperture and remove it from my computer.

Did this help you? Can you add anything to help me or others? Use the comments link or form to speak up. Just don’t attempt to start a Nikon vs. Canon debate; I don’t think that would add any useful information to the discussion.

Upgrading to WordPress 2.9: Getting Your MySQL Database Up-to-Date

A tiny glitch for those of us with old databases.

Upgrade Admin PanelOne of the things I love about the most recent releases of WordPress is the automatic upgrade feature. Not only does the software tell you when a new version is available, but it offers a one-click upgrade through the use of the Upgrade Automatically button in the Upgrade WordPress administration panel. I’ve been using this feature regularly since it first appeared — after backing up my WordPress database and content files, of course — and have never had a problem.

Until yesterday.

Last night, when I attempted to upgrade my main blog, An Eclectic Mind, I got the following error message:

Old PHP Warning

I knew immediately why this error had appeared. My blog is so old that MySQL 5 wasn’t available when it was created. The available version was 4.0.27, which is what I installed. But the new version of WordPress needs a newer version of MySQL. Upgrading wouldn’t be possible until I upgraded my MySQL database.

I called GoDaddy, my hosting company, and spoke to someone in technical support. She said that the only way to upgrade the database was to back up my database, create a new database with version MySQL 5.0, and restore the old database to the new database file. I could then point my config.php file to the new database and, with a lot of luck, everything would work out fine.

So I initiated a backup last night using GoDaddy’s backup utility. (I usually use the WordPress Backup Plugin.) I got tired of waiting for it to finish, and went to bed. This morning, I’m restoring that database into a new file created with MySQL 5.0. And now, as I type this, I’m modifying the config.php file to point to the new database, user name, and host name.

Drum roll please….

As I open the home page for my blog…it works!

Upgrade CompletedThe upgrade should now go off without a hitch — which it does, as shown here.

Unfortunately, if you’re in the same boat I was in, you’ll need to find out how to update your MySQL database file. Talk to your system administrator or ISP’s technical support department. Every system is different — I use GoDaddy.com so that’s the only system I know how to update. Providing detailed step-by-step instructions for that system would only help other GoDaddy users — and might not work after GoDaddy’s next interface revision.

So I’ll let you track down instructions for your server or ISP on your own. Once you get those instructions, it shouldn’t be difficult to complete the task.

Good luck and enjoy the newest version of WordPress!