Monthly Archives: November 2009

Black Friday Advice

I’m sure you all are just as excited as I am about Black Friday.  I usually stock up on my blank CDs and DVDs, as well as score on some free trinkets.  Here’s my list of Black Friday buying advice for electronics:

  1. Before you buy anything, check prices on  You never know, they just might have it cheaper.
  2. Check the store’s website before you force yourself out of your nice warm bed to stand in a cold line for an hour.  Most stores have opened the Black Friday craze to e-buyers. In fact, some even have a week of Black Friday deals, like They have deals for books, electronics (TVs, Cameras, etc.), Sports, Clothing, Tools… Check it out.
  3. If you want to buy something from a store that doesn’t have Black Friday deals, ask them for a discount.  Chances are, they won’t, but it’s worth a shot!
  4. Before buying an electronic toy, be sure to do your research.  Black Friday deals typically don’t include the mid- and high-range items.  They want to lure  you in with the really good and hope that you purchase extra stuff. Don’t be a sucker for bait-and-switch.
  5. Along with 4, plan out what you are going to buy before you go to bed.  If something doesn’t feel right, pass.  There’s nothing worse than buying something you never use.
  6. Don’t buy something just because it’s a “good deal.” People’s homes are littered with “good deals.” A good rule of thumb is this: If will only use it once a year or less, you don’t need it.
  7. Be prepared to fill out a rebate form for everything you buy.  This takes time that you might rather spend elsewhere.
  8. If you are going to buy fabric, take two people.  One to go to the fabric and one to go strait to the cutting table.  If you don’t, you’ll be stuck behind the lady buying the 1 yard of every type of fabric.

Well, I hope this has been a good start.  Do you have any Black Friday buying advice you’d like to add?

MAMP 1.8.3 with VirtualHostX

MAMP and VirtualHostX make for an easy PHP development platform for your Mac.  Both are compatible with Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). Even though they are both simple to install and integrate, there are still some things you have to fix to make it work.

1. Turn off your Web Sharing in Applications > System Preferences > Sharing.  Make sure the box is not checked next to ‘Web Sharing’.

2. Install MAMP and VirtualHostX

3. Run VirtualHostX’s Setup Wizard

It’s a 2 step process. First, Backup your existing VirtualHostX settings (if you have them). Second, click the Make Changes button. This will allow the built-in Apache server and the MAMP Apache server share a virtual hosts file.  It also will change MAMP to run off of port 80.

VirtualHostX Setup Wizard

4. Configure VirtualHostX

Set VirtualHostX to use MAMP as the default web server.  This makes the “Apply” button in VirtualHostX

VirtualHostX Preferences with MAMP

5. Configure MAMP

Open up the preferences in MAMP, click on the “Ports” tab, and click “Set to default Apache and MySQL ports.” Then click “OK.”

MAMP preferences

6. Fix the phpMyAdmin

VirtualHostX hasn’t updated it’s configuration to work with the latest MAMP.  So, when you run the Setup Wizard, it replaces a section of the Apache configuration with an incorrect configuration. Open /Applications/MAMP/conf/apache/httpd.conf in TextEdit, and replace this block:

Alias /phpMyAdmin "/Applications/MAMP/bin/phpMyAdmin"

<Directory "/Applications/MAMP/bin/phpMyAdmin">
    Options Indexes MultiViews
    AllowOverride None
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all

With this block

Alias /phpMyAdminForPHP4 "/Applications/MAMP/bin/phpMyAdminForPHP4"

<Directory "/Applications/MAMP/bin/phpMyAdminForPHP4">
    Options Indexes MultiViews
    AllowOverride None
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all

Alias /phpMyAdminForPHP5 "/Applications/MAMP/bin/phpMyAdminForPHP5"

<Directory "/Applications/MAMP/bin/phpMyAdminForPHP5">
    Options Indexes MultiViews
    AllowOverride None
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all

7. Restart your MAMP servers (stop then start), and you should be good.

8. Add hosts in VirtualHostX

Click the “Add Host” button, enter the domain name and Local Path, make sure the Port is set at 80, then click “Apply Changes.”

VirtualHostX "Add Host"

Now simply navigate to “http://testsite/” in your web browser, and you’ll see your test site.

Happy MAMP-ing!

The Shot before the Shot

Great Basin RattlesnakeThis Rattlesnake coiled next to the tree I was using for my hammock tent – while I was setting it up.  I shot it (left) then shot it.  I’m glad I had my large zoom lens for this photo.  I stood about 6-8 feet away to take this photo.  I did use a stick to flatten out some weeds that were in the way of the shot.

The snake never made a sound.

How-To track visitors to your website

This document will explain how you can track users to your website using Google Analytics.  By placing a small snippet of code at the bottom of every page on your website, you’ll be able to see how many people are visiting your site, how many clicks are performed on your site, and where they are coming from.  Some of the more advanced features allow you to track how many people follow a certain “flow,” enabling you to optimize a certain process.

Before you begin, you’ll need a Google account and a website.  If you don’t have a Google account, create one (You can even use an existing email address as your new Google Account).

1. Create a Google Analytics account
Go to to begin. You’ll see a box like this:

Access Analytics/Sign Up Now

Click on the Sign Up Now link, log in using your Google account:

Google Account Login

Then click the “Sign Up” button:

Sign up for Google Analytics

Enter your website information, then click “Continue”:

Website Information

Enter your contact information, then click “Continue”:

Personal Information

Agree to the Terms and Conditions:

Terms and Conditions

And then click “Create New Account”:

Create new Account

This completes the account creation section.  Now I will explain how to insert the tracking code onto your website.  Conveniently, once you create the account, Google Analytics will take you to a page showing the tracking code and simple instructions:

Analytics Tracking Code

2. Install the tracking code on your website
This is actually the tricky part. The idea is to place the tracking code right before the
tag of each page you want to track. This is going to be different for each website depending on the type of website you have.

Here are some instructions on installing Google Analytics on some of the popular types of sites:

  • WordPress
  • Blogger
  • … (more to come – comment if you’d like one in particular)

If your site is different from the ones listed above, you can still insert the tracking code. If you would like me to post a how-to, leave a comment and I’ll add to the list. Otherwise…

Copy the tracking code from Google Analytics:

Google Analytics Tracking Code

Open each page of your website and paste the code right before the </body> tag, like this:

Google Analytics tracking code installed

Your site might be set up to have a universal footer, which would make your life much easier.  This universal footer is included on every page to save time for the web developer.  It is typically called ‘footer.php,’ ‘footer.html,’ ‘footer.cfm’ (you get the idea).  If your site has a universal footer, you can insert the code just before the </body> tag.  If there is no </body> tag, just paste it at the bottom of the universal footer.

Once your tracking code is installed, let it gather some data for a few days and log into Google Analytics for the reports.

Setting Expectations

If you’ve found this blog, you probably already know me, so there is no need for introduction.  So, I’ll explain what you might find on this blog in the future:

1. Buying advice.
People come to me often asking me what camera or video camera they should buy.  Sometimes they have even narrowed it down to one or two, but need to know more information before making the plunge.  I typically will spend some time researching, and then spend some time finding the best price.  Instead of sending a detailed email, I’ll post the advice on this blog.

2. How-Tos
I am a web developer, with skills in HTML, PHP and Javascript (jQuery).  I also administer a few WHM/cPanel servers and a few Ubuntu/Webmin servers.  In fact, is hosted on a Ubuntu/Webmin server in my home. If I get enough requests, I’ll post a how-to on setting one up.

3. Photos
I am an amateur photographer.  I’ll post some of my favorite photos as I take them.  I don’t get a lot of time to shoot, so they’ll be infrequent.

4. General Thoughts
I’ll post my epiphanies, complaints, recipes, and messages here.  It’s my blog. I can do that.

If I haven’t bored you yet, check back often.  Or, you can add me to your favorite reader.  I recommend Google Reader.