Fit

So Alicia made me join the gym (YWCA) a few weeks ago and I have been going there 2 to 3 times a week.

Today I achieved a milestone on the treadmill by walking a 2 mile cross-country course, then running a solid mile, walking some more, then running another half mile. That’s the first time I have run a mile since I was in the USSR and was allowed to run on the Olympic stadium track in Moscow. That was in 1990.

Hopefully this will continue.

Search Engine Optimization – SEO

I’ve been doing a lot of reading up on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) over the last couple of months. I find it an interesting field with lucrative potential. Naturally, I find myself being aligned with the Lighter side of The Force, thus more interested in the ‘ethical’ search engine practices.

The reason behind all of this is that I had a web design client who got tangled up with a shady SEO firm and spent a lot of money for services that could be summed up as ‘Spam’.

Just read this to save yourself a lot of money and headaches:

From “Beginner’s Guide to SEO“:

If you choose to outsource to an SEO firm, be well aware of the many pitfalls that await the uninformed. SEO has classically been an industry that has attracted many untrustworthy and dishonorable firms, resulting in an unfortunate perception from many. Pay particular attention to the following:

  • Manipulation & Search Spam – Overly aggressive tactics can get you banned from search engines.
  • Link Exchanges & Free-for-All Links – While the promise of easy link building through link exchanges or link farms is tempting, these tactics often achieve subpar results. Natural, organic inbound links from sites that your competitors can’t get links from are the best way to rank well in the long term.
  • Optimizing Pages for Search Engines vs. Visitors – Professional SEOs should have specialist copywriters who can craft well-written pages that attract both users and search engines. Repetitive keyword use (as noted above) is largely useless, but compelling, intelligent dialogue is a great way to get both searchers and engines interested in your content.
  • Guaranteed Rankings – Guaranteeing rankings is often one of the first indications that you’re dealing with a less-than-reputable firm. No SEO can guarantee rankings, because the search engines are responsible for the results and are constantly changing. Be wary, too, of promised success at “thousands of engines” (remember that the top 4 account for 95%+ of all search traffic), daily submission (completely unnecessary) and other “tricks” or “secrets”. Great rankings come from having great sites with quality links – no tricks or secrets required.
  • Investigate – The firm you work with should be able to provide references, preferably from both customers and industry folks that will let you know their skill and ability. Use your best judgment here – if a review or response seems canned or fishy, it probably is.

A Gift For You

Mozilla released version 1.5 of the ever-free Firefox web browser two days ago. You probably know how excited about this.

My favorite things about this new release are:

  • Faster page loading (the speeds are, like, two froghairs faster!)
  • Improved rendering engine
  • Improved Options menu
  • Improved tab control
  • Support for SVG and the new canvas tag

As for extensions, there are many new ones that do ultra-kewl things previously unavailable in Firefox. Here is what my standard extensions are (for now):

  • Nuke Anything Enhanced – Allows you to right-click anything on a web page and hide it. Great for hiding annoying graphics.
  • MeasureIt – Draw a box on the screen and get height/width measurements. Great for aligning page elements when designing.
  • Web Developer Toolbar – The third most-used tool in my arsenal, only behind Dreamweaver and Photoshop.
  • Bookmark Synchronizer – For keeping my 1200+ bookmarks the same between the office, home, and my laptop. Requires an FTP server to act as a go-between.
  • Adblock – One of the best extensions ever. This reduces popups and ads on web sites you visit. Includes ability to block pesky Flash overlay ads. Did it miss something? Right-click it and choose “AdBlock This” and poof!
  • Adblock Filterset.g Updater – A companion to Adblock, this keeps your list of blockable ads updated behind the scenes. I can’t remember the last time I got a popup ad.
  • PDF Download – Lets you choose whether to open or download a PDF when clicked, rather than opening it automatically, which is Firefox’s default behavior.
  • Viamatic foXpose – This must be seen to be believed, and is only available in Firefox 1.5. The extension sets up a button that instantly displays screen shots of all of your open tabs on one page, allowing you to click the one you want to jump to.
  • Tab Preview – This one displays a little thumbnail of the tab contents when you hover your mouse over an inactive tab. Quite cool.

Know of any other good ones I missed?