Cool Links

Win Sunglasses on Twitter!

FramesDirect.com has started a new campaign to attract more Twitter followers and will be giving away sunglasses to their followers with contests during each month.

Here’s how it works. They’ll Tweet “Contest is on. The first person to Tweet ‘I want my free sunglasses’ to @framesdirect is the winner of a new pair!” at any random time of day. Just follow them on Twitter and be the first to Tweet back the exact phrase “I want my free sunglasses” and you’ll be looking ever-so-cool before you know it in a pair of whatever sunglasses they give away for that particular contest. They’ll announce the winner in The Eye Zone blog (your name and city) and ship the new shades off in a jiffy!

That’s it. You’ll never know when they’ll announce the contest (at least once per month), so stay tuned!

As I write this, the contest is on for a pair of Roberto Cavalli sunglasses, so check it out!

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Breathing Life into an Old Laptop with Linux

Old laptop running Freespire LinuxI’ve got an old Averatec 3150P laptop that came with the original release of Windows XP. With only 256 MB of RAM and a 30 GB hard drive, every update to XP dragged the little laptop down to the point where I just couldn’t use it anymore. It crawled, taking a full ten minutes or more to boot. Multitasking became nearly impossible.

I tried making XP as “lite” as possible, removing anything I didn’t need, defragging, whatever I could think of but the laptop still worked as though it was submerged in mud.

This laptop is a really nice, compact size and works well. It has a CD writer, can play DVDs, speakers, built in wireless-B and is lightweight. While it’s not worth anything at this point (which is why I don’t want to spend money on more RAM), it’s perfect for those times when I don’t want to lug the work laptop and just want to take something light that can run Skype and pull up a web browser to access Google Docs or Google Apps, since I just moved my e-mail over to the “Don’t be evil” monster. If it got lost at an airport, oh well…

So, I’ve heard Linux is good for old hardware. Being a total novice at Linux, I had to do some research. Yes, I’ve played with some Linux CDs that came with magazines or that could be downloaded in the past, the kind you can run by booting to the CD without disturbing anything on your hard drive. They were fun, but not spectacular enough to make me a convert.

I ran numerous Google searches for phrases like “linux for old hardware” to narrow things down a bit. For those not aware, there are a zillion Linux distributions out there, some for specific purposes like development or bare bones use. I came up with a list of several to try, including Gentoo, Zenwalk, Mandriva, Knoppix, wattOS and Unbuntu.

I first tried Unbuntu, but quickly found that my 256 MB laptop did not really have a full 256 MB. Apparently something on board takes the first 34 MB because a check of the system only shows about 222 MB. The “live” CD required 384 MB to run the demo and 256 MB to install. I tried several times, but gave up. What I could see looked good, but I just couldn’t get it to work.

I moved on to the other distributions mentioned and attempted all of their “live” CDs. Again, I ran into problems. For whatever reason, none would run properly on the laptop. When I tried to boot, I got various error messages, probably due to the low RAM.

I was about to give up, contemplating wiping the drive and replacing XP with Windows 98, when I came across a post about Freespire. What the heck, one more shot.

It worked and looked good. Frankly, some distro interfaces are still kind of clunky. Freespire’s is very nice so I took the plunge and installed it on the laptop, wiping all traces of XP from it. I figured if it didn’t work, I had nothing to lose at this point.

Not only did it install, it works quite well. The interface is slick and so far all of my plug and play devices are working, even my Buffalo g54 wireless-G card that I prefer to use over the built in wireless-B. Even Windows XP wouldn’t work with that card without installing the software and drivers.

Freespire includes Firefox and OpenOffice and a link to CNR.com, which houses a ton of free and paid software and updates. I snagged Skype and some antivirus software first thing.

The best part? The laptop is peppy, faster than it ever was under XP, despite the “Designed for Microsoft Windows XP” label on the front of it.

Downside? There are still a few clueless web sites out there that insist on Internet Explorer to work properly (That is SOOOOO 1998!). Some even require Windows Media Player for videos, so you just have to work around them. I tried WINE, which is supposed to let you run some Windows software and managed to get Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player installed, but actually getting them to run apparently requires some tweaking that I haven’t had time to do yet.

But, I’ve got a new toy to play with. I’m a believer!

Submit your search marketing, web development or technology site or blog to The Web Optimist’s new S E O Resource Directory.

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Yet Another SEO WordPress Plugins Post

Yep. That’s exactly what this is. Yet another cool WordPress plugins post pointing out some of the freebie plugins used on The Web Optimist blog. Of course, most of these are used with SEO in mind. Might as well jump right in.

1. BT Active Discussions – This neat utility allows you to give your blog comments a forum-like BT Active Discussions gives your blog comments a forum-like interfaceinterface. This makes it easy for site visitors to zero in on discussions they want to check out and go right to the post to read and submit their own comment. I’ve tried a couple of actual forum plugins for WordPress in the past and never could get them to work properly. This one was a breeze. Check out my search engine optimization discussions.

2. WordPress Link Directory – Create your own directory. This plugin gives you the choice of accepting only reciprocal links or any links. You can create categories and sub-categories and even check for dropped reciprocal links. I recently installed this plugin on my blog as a fledgling resource directory.

3. Spread The Love Link Builder – This plugin tracks pages you link to in your blog and sends an e-mail to the site owner notifying them of the link and encouraging them to link back.

4. Dagon Design Sitemap Generator – Need I say more? This plugin creates a spider and user friendly index of all posts by category with the number of comments for each. You install the plugin, create a page, paste some code and you’re off and running. See it in action at The Web Optimist sitemap.

5. Link To Me Text Box – This plugin will set up a “link to me textbox” with HTML code in your blog posts. Simplicity at its best. You can find examples of this plugin in action at the bottom of any post on this blog. For instance, take a look at Free eBook: 65 Quick S E O Tips Even Your Mother Would Love and you’ll find the link box just above the “Leave A Comment” section.

6. Ask Me – I don’t know if this plugin is even supported currently, but used it for an “Ask Me about SEO” section until I switched hosting companies and couldn’t get it to work again. It basically extends the comment function into a Q&A format perfect for any question and answer oriented page.

7. Khanh’s Quick Feeds – Want to add a page of news feeds to your WordPress blog? This is your plugin and it’s AJAX powered! Take a look at my own Search Engine Optimization News Feeds page for an example. I didn’t just create this page for my users, but for me, too!

8. Random Quotes – This plugin is perfect for randomly displaying any type of text on your blog pages. I use it for my S E O Quick Tip box found on the right navigation of every page on the site. A different tip is displayed each time a page loads. The plugin has a really nice, easy to use interface.

9. Redirection – Makes page redirects simple. Easy to use interface, logging options, tracking of redirects and simple drop down redirect options made this a life saver when my former hosting company imploded and I had to recreate recent posts and redirect the old URLs to the new ones.

10. WP Sticky – Got something you want to stay at the top of your blog for a while like an announcement or notice? WP Sticky is kind of like a yellow sticky. It sticks to the top of the main blog page until you pull it off.

These are just a few of the neat plugins I am currently using. Naturally, there are a zillion out there, which is what makes WordPress so great. If you need something for your blog, chances are there’s already a plugin for it or close enough to work with.

Submit your search marketing, web development or technology site or blog to The Web Optimist’s new S E O Resource Directory.

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Cool Links

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Who Killed the Electric Car?I know this has nothing to do with SEO, but it does relate to technology and, well, I just feel the need to let folks know about this documentary, which I missed when it was originally shown in a limited number of theaters.

I recently watched the Who Killed the Electric Car? DVD and must say, it is an eye opener. I was in California when the state mandated that car manufacturers produce vehicles with zero emissions. While it was in place, I saw all kinds of electric cars here in the Palm Springs desert – the EV1, Honda and others. That was well over a decade ago.

Apparently, the auto companies, with help from the oil companies and politicians, convinced California to drop the mandate, and the electric cars were immediately pulled from consumers who loved them! The EV1 electric car that is followed in this documentary is one hot little car, but GM killed it, recalled all of them (they could only be leased) and destroyed them rather than sell to consumers who were begging to buy the vehicles.

So, we’ve had the technology for a quiet, practical around town electric car for years. The Japanese got the message and started producing hybrids, while the USA car companies came out with gas guzzlers like the Hummer.

Now, we are paying for big business greed and politics.

This should be required viewing for every American citizen. I highly encourage everyone to watch this. In addition to purchasing a DVD, Netflix has it. For more information on the movie, see the site.

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Cool Links

MTV Like It Used To Be – Online!

Yes, you can have your MTV, even in 2008!In my post a few months ago, Social Media & S E O: I Want My MTV!, I lamented the loss of the original MTV format – 24 hours of non-stop music videos. If you’ve watched the channel lately, you’ll see music videos from time to time, but the format is mostly movies, music related documentaries and bad reality programming.

An interesting Internet-only TV channel has stepped in to fill the void. Available through TVU Networks, the strangely named BroccoliTV shows 80s videos non-stop (I’m watching The B-52s Love Shack video as I write this). It’s free. You can either watch through your browser (I could only get it to work with Internet Explorer, not Firefox) or you can download their viewing software.

TVU Networks offers a lot of other Internet video viewing, including a few cable channels like Sci-Fi Channel and Comedy Central. Most channels work great, but some could stand for better compression as they came through jerky, even on my 130 Mbps connection.

Cool! Hot in the City and White Wedding by Billy Idol!

I miss the VJs, though!

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Cool Links

Gas Price Search

Oil well pumpHere’s a pretty cool link that lets you check for the lowest gasoline prices in your area.

This MSN service is apparently updated every evening and includes a map of the area with place marks to help you find the stations. I checked for my zip code and the best price is $3.75 per gallon (OUCH!) today.

I need to lose weight anyway. Guess it’s time to break out the walking shoes!

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Cool Links

Multiple Monitors or PCs? Check Out These Must-Have Freebies!

Video demo of free software for ultiple monitors and PCsSEO rock star Danny Sullivan wrote about his monitor set up on his personal blog not too long ago. Danny recently joined the dark side and went Mac, purchasing a laptop after realizing he had the only PC laptop at a recent company meeting. He’s sold on the Mac now, but needed some MacBook Pro solutions for his multiple monitor set up in the post.

Since I don’t have a Mac, I didn’t really have any solutions for him, but it got me to thinking about my own computer and monitor arrangement and how well it works for me. And, I have to give a lot of the credit to free software. See the image below for a look at my monitors and the laptop in its stand. Danny’s got a cool three-monitor stand for his screens. I’ll get there.

My laptop and dual monitor setup

Sorry for the image quality, but it’s the best my iPhone could do. 😉

Here’s quick rundown of my personal PC situation. My main work computer is an HP M9080N PC running Windows Vista. When I purchased it, I decided to max it out on hard drive space, so it’s got 1TB between the two hard drives along with a 700 GB personal media drive and a 160 GB pocket media drive.

My primary monitor includes speakers as you can see. I’m using a Tritton SEE2 USB 2.0 VGA Adapter to power a second monitor, which sits on the right of the main monitor. To the left, I have a Toshiba laptop that is provided by FramesDirect.com, who I work for as their SEO in residence. This laptop is connected to their servers by VPN for Exchange email, access to their control panels, VOIP system, etc. For a while, I had a separate wireless mouse and keyboard set up for the laptop, but as mentioned in my post Share a Mouse with Two or More PCs, using a free software tool by the name of Synergy, I am able to share the desktop PC mouse and keyboard across all three screens by way of IP addresses. It’s almost like having three monitors.

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