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Two of the biggest things I blog about are politics and TV. I blog about those subjects so much I started sites on the topics (the long abandoned Political Jackass, Grand Old Parody, and Let’s Talk About TV. For those who know me, I’m very passionate (and opinionated) about politics. So passionate, that I would let politics affect me in ways that, in my opinion, shouldn’t. I would read political articles and news and could feel my blood pressure rise at the content. I would have endless debates with friends and family, and that is rarely a good thing. I never understood how people could be so apathetic to politics. How can you not care about the country and the people that run it. I maybe cared a bit too much and that wasn’t healthy, so I decided to start a new hobby. That’s when I started Let’s Talk About TV.

A lot of my previous posts here have been about TV, but this wasn’t really a TV blog. In fact, there were a lot more posts I wanted to write but didn’t because it would be a non-stop TV stream. That’s why I decided to start a dedicated blog for TV-related posts. A few days after deciding on the domain name I had the site up and running. It has gone through a design change already, but I’m proud of how it turned out. Best of all, it has replaced the timesuck that politics used to take up. TV blogging has become my new hobby. Instead of reading political article after political article and posting them on my political sites, I now look for TV news. This has definitely been a good thing for my blood pressure. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m still heavily opinionated, I still make an occasional post, and I still read political news everyday, but it is not as important to me as it used to me. It is no longer a hobby of mine.  Let’s Talk About TV is.

Let’s Talk About TV has been a fun project for me. I don’t really care if it ever gets big because it’s just a hobby. I get a respectable amount of traffic for a site that’s only a few months old, and RSS subscriptions seem to increase by a few each week. There are some things I would really like to do with it, it’s just a matter of getting access to the people I need. I also hope to do some more reviews when I have more time. The problem is, I hate doing individual TV show reviews. Who really cares about a review for a single episode? I plan on doing reviews for TV show premieres, TV technology, and perhaps even DVD boxed set releases. I would also like to do a monthly contest for my readers. We shall see how this all plays out, but the site has definitely become something I’m glad I did. If you haven’t checked out Let’s Talk About TV, please do.

You all know that I love TV. In fact, I love it so much I created a new site dedicated to all things TV. I present to you Let’s Talk About TV. There are still things I am tweaking, but I decided to make it public yesterday. Many of the posts were imported from here but expect a lot more frequent posting. I have a few good ideas on what I want to do with the site, I just hope I can pull it off. I’m hoping if I’m able to do a few of them out of the gates I will have a bit of momentum and the rest will come a bit easier (being vague on purpose).

So, why am I starting this site? Well, as I said, I love TV. I’m tired of posting about TV here and there always seems to be a lot more about TV that I want to post. Also, I need to take my mind of politics. You might know I run Grand Old Parody and I need to have something else to occupy my time. Politics is too stressful. I need something fun!

Anyway, go visit the site, look around, and if you’d like, subscribe. I hope you enjoy it!

Everyone who has ever had a website disappear on them knows that having a current backup is essential. I have seen the poor soul who has had his server crash and lost years worth of blogging way too many times. It is essential that you have a plan in place for your backups. Let me tell you what I do for my backups. Note that I’m not saying you should do the same, this is just what I find easiest and it works for me.

Every Wednesday databases from several WordPress sites are emailed to me. I use the WordPress Database Backup Plugin to automatically email me the database backups each Wednesday at a time I set in the configuration. I then have filters set up in a Gmail account so that labels are applied automatically. When the Piece of Shep database comes in it goes directly to the Piece of Shep label and gets marked as read. If I want I can also have an on-demand backup emailed to me or download it directly from the WordPress interface.

Now that my database is safe, on the web and available to download anytime I want, how do I backup my files? The actual website files I download less frequently. I host several sites on my hosting account so a full backup is actually quite large, several gigabytes. Because of this, I only backup the actual files once every month. Using my host’s control panel I generate a full backup then download it to my iMac and then it is backed up to an external hard drive using Time Machine. I also have the full backups backed up over the net using Mozy. Because they are quite large in size, I only keep an archive of two or three of the latest snapshots. Since databases are typically small, (200-600 KB) I keep a much larger archive of those.
So that’s how I backup my sites. What about you? Have you ever lost an entire site and years worth of work? Do you have a backup plan in place? If so, how often do you backup? My motto with web hosting is always plan for the worst because when you don’t, that’s when the worst happens.

clickyI recently signed up for Clicky Web Statistics, a great looking real time stats package. I’m nuts about statistics on my website but found Google Analytics to be lacking. I want data in real time, not a day later. I also use Mint but decided to start looking for something not self-hosted. I used the free trial of Clicky for a few days before I was sold and purchased a plan.

The stats that are provided are the type of stats you’d find in most statistics software. Clicky presents it in a very appealing way. No more getting lost in the different menus and submenus of Google Analytics. Clicky is simple and intuitive, providing numerical and graphical stats.  It displays everything I want it to.  It tells me what search engines visitors are using, the terms they are searching for, their entry and exit pages, the time they are on the site, the browser, OS, and screen resolution.  If I want to see where they are going once on my site, I can see all the pages they go to.   I can even see a Google map of where they are located in the world.

The best thing about the stats package is that it’s all real time.  I’m not running a mission-critical business that needs stats right away.  I just enjoy seeing what is going on at my site(s) and any given moment.  Clicky makes it easy to do that and presents it in a way that is superior to other stats packages that I’ve tried. If you’re looking for a great affordable real-time stats package, I suggest signing up and giving Clicky a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. There are a lot more features not posted in these screenshots. These are just the ones I like/use the most.

Dear Internet Users Across the World,

Please stop using the horrible piece of software that came pre-installed on your PC known as Internet Explorer. Not only do you make the job of web designers a lot harder each and every day you use it, but you also leave yourself more open to attacks from malicious websites. I recently spent several hours over a few nights fixing a computer for my sister and brother-in-law because they were infected with a nasty bug that they got while using Internet Explorer. If they were using Firefox they would not have installed the ActiveX and gotten the bug, but they weren’t so they did. IE fails at security and fails at complying with web standards.

My beef used to be with the people who still use Internet Explorer 6, even though 7 has been out for well over a year now. Now my beef is with anyone who continues to use IE at all. I’ll tell you why. Microsoft had the chance to make IE7 standards compliant. What that means is it would properly render pages that were coded to the standards and rules set forth by the web development community to make the best looking and most usable websites possible. They didn’t. While it was better than 6, it was far from the other web browsers, such as Firefox or Safari. The first release candidate of IE8 recently came out. Again, they had the chance to make it standards compliant. They failed again. That makes the job of web developers harder. Now they have to support 3 versions of IE, each one supporting different standards that Microsoft decided it wanted to follow, and not true web standards. Please do yourself a favor and see the web the way it was meant to be seen. Use Firefox (or Safari, Google Chrome, Opera, etc). Thanks.

Your friendly neighborhood Web Developer and Family Computer Help Desk,
Mike Schepker