There's an LL Cool J Chartbeat joke in here somewhere. There has to be.

I just installed a little Chartbeat code here at sarahlane.com to watch real-time stats of engagement here. So far it’s only served to make me feel bad about myself because I don’t write enough (I see you, person in Lousiana reading the blog post right before this one…I see you!!!).

But man oh man this service is awesomely addictive in a visual way, especially if you’re a super-narcissist. Read up on the latest features (traffic sources/locations, reading/writing/idling, Twitter search tracking, to name a few) and if you think it’s right for you, get a 30-day free trial here or give the iTunes app a try (caution- you’ll have to enter CC info and opt-out later on). 

Note- I spent the better part of an hour trying to come up with a clever “heartbeat” song reference for the title of this blog post. Swing and a miss. If you have anything you want to hand over (I’m just a small, pea-brained woman, after all) I’ll update the post and thank you.

Current Tech sneak peek

Produced by, edited by, and starring Yours Truly. I’m a one-woman wonder, people! But seriously, editing is hard. I’ve taken 48 hours of Final Cut Pro training and this little piece still took me the better part of a day. I’m excited to keep practicing, though. As a producer who’s always had to rely on others in post-production, it feels so good to say I did everything mahself! Mag.ma really is great, btw. I see no reason to continue trolling around YouTube when a site like mag.ma exists.
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New site, new rules (part MCXIV)

Well… how do you like it? I’ve got a few tweaks/additions to make yet, but all in all I’m thrilled with how it turned out. A huge, massive monument-size (think Burj Dubai) thank you to my friends at Squarespace for helping me make my new design a reality. Krystyn, Kris, Dane, Erica, and the entire Squarespace crew have been the BEST PEOPLE EVER, and I can’t thank them enough for helping me build the next generation of sarahlane.com. Does anyone know how to say “thank you x infinity” in CSS so that it ends up crashing Firefox? If so, please send via my contact link and I’ll start spamming them.

A word on the new design: my old site was perfectly functional and I liked it a lot, but it was pretty static if I didn’t actually update the blog itself regularly, which I didn’t. These days I spend so much time on a multitude of social networks that I wanted sarahlane.com to reflect my overall activity, rather than appearing neglected all the time. Please note that I don’t intend to stop posting longer form content here, quite the opposite. I love to write and a spiffy new site is just what I need to kick myself back into TMI overdrive. I’m simply reinventing myself as a realist, which I think is very mature of me. Matronly, even. Geriatric.

So… how do you like it?

BTW, Martin Sargent says I look like a muppet on the landing page, which is one of the greatest compliments a friend has ever given me.

 

Go on, inspire me.

Lately I've been in search of design inspiration for a future web show of sorts that I'm putting together at Current Tech, which is very exciting for a few reasons:

  1. I'll get to do more of what I love most... talk about the stuff I'm passionate about!
  2. Current gets to experiment with new avenues of video, like LIVE and STREAMING!
  3. We all have more reasons to participate in the Current Tech community and hang out together!
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Hello! Helvetireader!

Sorry for my radio silence. I have no excuse. Actually, I was in the middle of writing a "top 10 reasons why I suck" post, but something felt too familiar about it. So I did a little search and found this post from August, 2007. AT LEAST I AM CONSISTENT, PEOPLE.

Consider this my 900th entry back into regular blogging! To be honest, I'm in the middle of yet another obsessive compulsive blog redesign, so there's a lot going on behind the scenes even if I seem like I'm an absentee blogger. I want to better integrate all the other posts/photos/videos/tweets/etc I clog the internet with every day, so that sarahlane.com is more of a big mashup, rather than a ghost town for weeks on end. So, you're up to speed. Oh, and please send me any fabulous design ideas if you have 'em!

In the meantime, I came across something wonderful in my Tumblr dashboard this morning (via joelaz). You know how nobody's ever been as obsessed with anything as the world seems to be with the Helvetica font? And who can blame us, right? Helvetica is smart and clean and reminds us all that text is beautiful! Well, now you can use Helvetica to make Google Reader prettier.

Helvetireader is a userscript for a variety of browsers that  simplifies Google Reader while also Helvetifying it. I'm going to give it a week to see if my Google Reader usage can be salvaged (I've all but abandoned it lately and could use a fresh coat of paint, as it were).

If you're using a browser that doesn't support userscripts, or just want to tweak the look of Helvetireader, you can download and tweak the CSS file. If you go this route and are happy with the results, post your stellar work in the comments!

Props to Squarespace!

I've been using Squarespace to publish my blog for a couple of months now, kind of on a trial basis to see if I liked it enough to permanently move over from Typepad, which I've been using since 2004.

I really, really like it. Even though I've had to re-learn a few commands and get used to a totally different publishing interface, I find the service overall intuitive and fun to use, and the themes look good.

Speaking of themes, mine was custom made by Krystyn Heide, Squarespace Design Architect who does fantastic work (she's the brilliant mind behind my buddy Kevin Pereira's blog, among others). Not only do I think Krystyn is extremely talented, but she put up with my non-designer ass for about a month while I hemmed and hawed about where my search bar should go (I'm not kidding, I changed it about 12 times... in 2 days. If I were her I would have dumped me so hard). So, a huge thank you to Krystyn! You can check out her custom designs and learn more about her here.

Everyone else at Squarespace has been wonderful and has made my transition as smooth as possible. If you're looking for a good blog host/engine, Squarespace has my vote.

And now, back to Christmas shopping...

Tricasting.. It's Complicated

Here's an exciting excerpt from my most recent visit to the TWiT studio as Leo Laporte teaches me how to use the Tricaster (thanks to odtv.me for hosting the video!).

Apologies for our rather mundane conversation while I was learning the ropes. It really is challenging to maintain a conversation while keeping cameras, graphics, and everything else straight when you're live, trust me! Keep in mind that I'm sitting where Leo usually sits and "switches" his shows (by "switches" I mean controls all aspects of the Tricaster) singlehandedly. It's a lot of work, so kudos to him.

But I love a good challenge, so I'll be back to the TWiT studio soon for more practice. :) More details as they develop. In the meantime, I'm taking suggestions: what would you like me to talk about next time I'm there?

I like to party.

I started tumblelogging a little over a year ago because I liked Tumblr and thought it was the perfect place to post all the small stuff that wasn't lengthy and/or intellectual enough (HA! HA! HA!) to post here.

Problem is, now I find myself constantly having to choose between here and there when posting content, and it's getting confusing. I don't like having two blogs, and my guess is that you 1) don't like it either, 2) didn't even know I had a tumblelog, or 3) are my mom and read both religiously.

Can you advise how best to consolidate the glory that is my brain into one place?

Until then, I remain,
Madame Multiplicity

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Keywords Are Like a Box of Chocolate...

Sometimes when I've run out of other things to do, I comb through my Google Analytics stats. Which are consistently both eye-opening and confounding. 

For example, anyone who types in "sarah lane", "sara lane", "shara lane", and various forms of "xp hacks" will eventually reach this blog. But in the past 30 days, a modest number of surfers also found me using the following specific search terms:

  • "sarah lane fired" - 61
  • "ooooooh" - 38
  • "scotch" - 37
  • "catfight haven" - 33
  • "jennifer schwalbach smith playboy" - 33
  • "tunok tunok" - 22
  • "the word hi" - 21
  • "phun girls" - 20
  • "download geico caveman commercial" - 18

I'd attempt to make sense of it all, but where's the fun in that? Oh, and in case you were wondering, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith is director Kevin Smith's wife. Which explains so much.

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DNS, Subdomains, and Mapping, Oh My!

Several years ago, I started up this blog right around the time I acquired the domain of my own name. Back then, I had zero experience with the Domain Name System (DNS) and didn't really understand the difference between mapping a domain and redirecting from one domain to another. So I asked the advice of a very geeky friend.

"Stick with redirects, " he said. "Domain mapping can be a tricky thing. There are 500-page books out there about DNS."

Clearly my very geeky friend did not feel like helping me that day, and I didn't want to read a 500-page book about DNS, so I steered clear of domain mapping altogether. Once I switched over to Typepad, all that really meant was that when you visited my website, instead of seeing 'sarahlane.com' in the URL, you saw 'sarahlane.typepad.com'. It didn't bother me.

But then it started to bother me a little. As I've joined more services and acquired more blogs over the years, it's begun to make a lot more sense why people want to organize as much of their online life as possible under the umbrella of a single domain. It's like branding yourself well.

After thinking long and hard about it for five minutes, I decided to map the subdomain 'blog.sarahlane.com' to this Typepad blog, map the subdomain 'tumblelog.sarahlane.com' to my Tumblr tumblelog, and leave my domain 'sarahlane.com' unmapped and free to use as I please. In theory, these tweaks aren't a big deal. A few CNAME entries and I should have been good to go. But the issues began when I started making DNS changes with my registrar when I should have been making them with my web host (consider using your registrar as your web host if you have issues with organization. Seriously). I won't go into the gory details of my personal DNS hell, but let's just say tech support people sometimes withhold very important information for no explicable reason at all (I mean clearly they're bored and resentful having to read 500-page books about DNS all day, but still). Every time I incorrectly updated my name servers, my server went down. Server, server, server. If you look at the word 'server' long enough, it really becomes ridiculous, doesn't it? SER-VER.

The beauty of DNS is that depending on where in the world you are, DNS changes can take between 12-72 hours to reach you. So a lot of my tech support phone calls sounded very similar to the following exchange:

  • Me: Ok, I did what you asked. My site is still down. What's going on?
  • Them: Mmmm... yeah. I can pull up your site just fine. So. Yeah.
  • Me: Trust me, I can't. I would not lie about something like this.
  • Them: Yeah, well. DNS... Propagate... Server... Caching... Flushing... Wait 48 hours.

I'm currently unemployed, which in many ways is a very positive thing. I get to eat all day in my pajamas and I rarely have to bathe. It's kind of awesome. But I'm also glued to my computer all day every day writing, editing, looking for work, and so on. I really can't wait for 48 hours for my website to magically reappear, especially after I've just emailed about four thousand people the link to my resume. 48 hours is like looking across a vast sea of infinite nothingness. I dislike the rules of DNS very much.

As of this afternoon my site's back up, so I'm going to stop crying and consider taking a shower. My mail server has also taken a beating, so if you sent me an email anytime in the past five days, I have probably not received it, and may never receive it. I'm sure it was a good email though. Well, unless you're Brad from Australia. I don't know what's up with that guy.

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Let's Never Buy Toilet Paper Again!

Got a cool tip from Leo's Jaiku feed today: Amazon Subscribe and Save. It works well for grocery items you find yourself regularly stocking up on, like vitamins, or baby diapers, or razors, or toilet paper - things you know you'll need, and don't want to run out of.

According to Amazon, the benefits include:

  • A delivery schedule that fits your needs--every one, two, three, or six months
  • Discounts on our everyday price, whether you subscribe for a single month or for years
  • Free shipping
  • E-mail reminders of upcoming shipments
  • The flexibility to change your schedule or cancel at any time

What's nice is that there's a big selection of items, often at better-than-grocery-store prices. For example, I love Seventh Generation products, and I get a better deal through Amazon than I would at Whole Foods.

I'm wondering though... how is the merchandise delivered? If my box of Clif bars shows up inside an additional Amazon shipping box, the extra packaging seems a little wasteful, doesn't it? At least I can recycle my grocery bags over and over at the store.

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I Give Good Tech Support

Actual technical question received today from "Vishal":

i see various virus spider shaped/heart shaped viruses in which pow dvd,winapp ,and all installed programs changed in to heart or spider shaped .how can i remove it.

Hmmm. I don't like spiders, Vishal, but I do love hearts. Are you sure you don't want to just leave the heart-shaped viruses? They sound pretty. Think it over and get back to me.

Fondly,
Sarah

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Seek and Destroy

What can I say - I was once a hardcore Metallica fan. In third grade. My song/blog title is kind of misleading, actually, but "seek" is the closest I could come to "search", and I'm going to talk about searching in this post. Whatevs. It's early and I need about 4 more quarts of caffeine before I achieve coherence. Yes, I realize that 11 a.m. is not really very early to the rest of the world. Thanks for pointing that out, Einstein, but you're way off-topic. Moving on...

I've gotten a handful of innocent emails recently from folks looking for old Windows tips or Downloads of the Day (articles I used to write in conjunction with TechTV segments), or just cool stuff I used to file away in the "Web/Tech" category of this site. They're all legitimate inquiries, since recently I removed category displays from my main page, effectively rendering all future searches through the archives as useless as a day spent finding a needle in a haystack. I didn't do it on purpose - I just really thought that nobody cared about learning how to add custom images to their Windows XP Start button anymore. Obviously, I was wrong. So I've added a new search function below my Archives list in the left-hand column on this page. It seems to work pretty well so far. You're welcome.

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Redirecting Myself

At first I thought having a separate index page at "sarahlane.com" was a good idea... but then decided it was pointless. If you were looking for my blog, you were just going to have to immediately click the "blog"  link anyway. I don't want to complicate things unnecessarily, so now "sarahlane.com" just automatically points to this blog. If you weren't looking for this blog, well, it's not the end of the world that you ended up here. I'm a delight, really. And if you're looking for my other projects, you can find them in the "All About Me" links. In a nutshell, nothing has changed. I know that this is perhaps my most riveting post yet. You're welcome.

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Guess Who's Back?

UPDATE 4/7: Theme switched! I like this look a lot more. Thanks to Mario Carboni for designing it.

------------------------------------

If you're reading this post, congratulations! You're extremely hip and up-to-date. I'm starting back up the old blog here at "sarah. word." Give me a few days to settle on a new theme and layout, and we'll be good to go. I thought I liked this one, but something about it bugs me. Maybe the text is too small?

As for "sarah. on the run.", it's not going anywhere, but activity will halt until the next time I travel.

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iWeb is for Dummies.

And thank goodness for that, because I am really, really rusty.

Despite my HTML skills of swiss cheese, I still managed to turn a new homepage for sarahlane.com live today! It's not much more than a skeleton at this point, but you get the idea. I have quite a bit of fussing left to do. Which is great, because I love to fuss.

New domains that point to sarahlane.com:
brendanandsarah.com (the overall name for now)
brendanmoran.tv

My blog will remain on Typepad for the time being. I have no pressing reason to leave what I consider to be a reliable and intuitive blogging engine, though I wasn't kidding about giving it a new look. That's my next project.

Unemployment? Bah! I've never been so busy!

:)
s

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Donning a New Skin

I've spent the better part of the last few days reading other folks' travel blogs, trying to get some inspiration for our own site redesign. sarah.word. has always been my personal outlet, but as it will soon serve as a base for the Amazing Adventures of the Traveling Morans, it deserves a facelift and restructure to reflect our new direction. Hardy har.

What's comforting is the number of really well-done travel blogs upon which I've already stumbled. I have little doubt we'll be able to update regularly, no matter where we are. What's daunting are the countless choices I have in regards to organizing our own journey. I'm leaning toward something like what Mark Yiin has done (his link was posted in my comments section, thanks!!). Not only is his blog easy to navigate, but he takes swell photos and tells good stories about his follies in a lot of the same places we'll be enjoying. Hey Mark, I want my Sunday back!

Anyway, I'm all ears if you have advice and suggestions for how this blog should look going forward. Be honest! Have your say! Brendan has already banished my present (and adorable) pink/gray/green color theme. I'm going to go ahead and blame it on his colorblindness. Besides, it's time for a change.

:)
s

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Happy Birthday/Xmas/Batmitzvah to Me...

I know it's late March, an annual wasteland for presents and cheer, but this month might as well be a super cool holiday... because I've just been crowned the proud owner of my very first Apple computer! Boy is it a looker. XP suddenly seems so ugly and cold. I think I may have spent all that time poo-pooing OS X just to cover up my feelings of extreme inadequacy. Good god, what am I saying?

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Here Comes the Sun

I know it's been a while since I posted anything. I pretty much have no excuse besides not having a whole lotta free time (and wanting to watch baseball in the small amount of free time I did have). I also moved into a new house, had a birthday, threw a party, bought groceries, and swept the floor once or twice.

However, let's get back on track with today's web find: The Sunlight Map!
Nobody at work thought it was as cool as I did. I think I just really love maps.

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