Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Canadian Blog Awards redux


Back in November, I found out that my blog had been nominated for a 2011 Canadian Blog Award. Well, the results from the first round of voting are in, and I am excited to say that I placed fifth out of 39 in the Best Personal Blog category. Thanks very much to everyone who voted for me, but we're not done yet! The final round has already begun, and now there are only five nominees. The vote counts have been reset to 0, and we vote again.

My blog got 34 votes in the first round, while the blog in the lead got 81, so I've got some ground to make up but with your help, dear reader, we can do it. Please vote, and I don't want to put any undue pressure on anyone or use guilt trips or anything, but if you don't tell your friends and family to vote too, well I guess the terrorists have won. And it's your fault.

Voting began on December 24, and ends on January 20. Go and vote now! (Note that I was unable to see the names of the nominees on the voting page when using Chrome, but IE and Firefox work.)

Again, thanks to whoever nominated me and to everyone who voted for me.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Using Krazy Glue

For all of you would-be handymen out there, here's a checklist for the best way to get broken pieces of anything glued back together using Krazy Glue. This is my tried-and-true method, the way I do it every time. I hope this helps you.Krazy Glue

  1. Take broken pieces to the workshop in the basement.
  2. Clean off each piece of the broken item and make sure you know how each piece should fit together.
  3. Clear off some space on the bench by piling the piles of stuff in the middle on top of the piles of stuff to one side.
  4. Brush away the sawdust that was created when you cut that piece of wood three months ago.
  5. Dig under the piles of stuff you just moved to find the Krazy Glue container.
  6. Remove the lid of the container and smile at the words "clog-free!" on the label.
  7. Squeeze the container over one of the broken items. Ensure that no glue comes out of the tube.
  8. Continue squeezing harder and harder so that if glue were to come out of the tube, it would be shot across the room and land on the wall.
  9. Take a thin, sharp object like a staple and try to poke a hole in the end of the tube. This didn't work the last twenty-three times you tried it, but maybe this time it will.
  10. Get a utility knife and cut a tiny piece off the end of the tube.
  11. Repeat steps 7-10, cutting bigger and bigger pieces off the end each time. Continue until one of the only two possible results occurs:
    1. the entire contents of the tube are dumped onto the items you're gluing. In this case, throw everything in the garbage before the glue dries. You're done!
    2. the entire plastic bit on the end is gone and there is still no glue coming out. Continue with the next step.
  12. Throw the tube in the garbage.
  13. Go over to the garbage can. Pick up the tube, which is on the floor next to the can.
  14. Throw the tube in the garbage.
  15. Go to the hardware store, buy a new tube. Make sure you get the "clog-free!" stuff, paying extra for it if necessary.
  16. Open the tube, place one drop of glue on one piece and hold the other piece against it for about ten seconds.
  17. Place the item on the workbench, making sure to arrange it so that there is no pressure on the repaired joint.
  18. Let it dry for a few minutes if your wife asked you to fix it, or three days if one of your kids did since they've already forgotten and have moved on to something else.
  19. Make sure you follow the storage directions on the container, so that the tube doesn't get clogged when you put it away.
  20. Six months later, when you need to glue something else, start again at step #1.

Monday, December 05, 2011


Like everything else online, the bots have invaded Twitter. Most of the time these are harmless but there are some spammy ones out there too. There seem to be two kinds of spam on twitter: the spam accounts that follow you hoping you'll follow back, and the spam accounts that mention you in a tweet along with a link to their web site. Luckily, Twitter has a very easy way of dealing with either one – you can simply block the account and report it as spam, all in one simple click. I have no idea what happens after that but I don't really care; once I've done that on a spam account, I never see tweets from it again.

There are thousands of bots out there scanning the millions of public tweets that stream by every minute looking for keywords. Say you have a business selling spatulas. You have a twitter account for your business, where you announce sales and new products and have discussions about current issues in the spatula industry. You obviously want to get as many followers as you can, and one way to do that is to follow as many people as you can. But who to follow? You can follow your friends and tell them to mention you in tweets and hope to get some followers that way, but that's generally slow. An easier and more effective way is to set up a bot.

You'd create a bot to look for the word "spatula" in any tweets, and automatically follow the account that tweeted it. Once you do, there are basically three possibilities: 1. They mindlessly follow everyone who follows them, and so they follow you back. 2. They are interested in spatulas and follow you back. 3. They are not interested in spatulas and just included the word "spatula" in a one-off tweet (and really, who hasn't?), and do not follow you back. Oh well.  This is a fine idea, and seems to work well for many businesses. I've got lots of followers who are obviously doing this (including at least three in the past week), since they are very specific business-related accounts that have nothing to do what I generally tweet about, but are related to a particular word or phrase that I used. Here are some of the more fun ones:

  • pronunciation – I posted a link to an article I wrote on how to pronounce a bunch of lacrosse players' names, and a couple of hours later, I'm being followed by "a simple resource for everything related to pronunciation".
  • fire suppression – I mentioned that a former lacrosse player now works in the "fire suppression" industry. I was shortly followed by a company that makes fire suppression equipment.
  • motorcycle helmet – A friend rides a motorcycle and I happened to use the phrase "motorcycle helmet" in a tweet. I'm soon followed by a motorcycle helmet store in California. I don't ride a bike myself, and live several thousand miles away, so they are unlikely to get any business from me.
  • wind power – this was a while ago so I don't remember the details, but I mentioned something about wind power and was subsequently followed by a company that specialized in wind power solutions. They must have gotten bored with me since they don't follow me anymore.
  • homeopathy – I tweeted something about homeopathy (the word "bullshit" was likely included), and was followed by a couple of homeopathic practitioners. I think they immediately realized their mistake and unfollowed. I'm pretty sure the same thing has happened with "chiropractor" and "acupuncture".
  • iPad – mention iPad in a tweet, and people wanting to "give" you or sell you iPads will come flying out of the woodwork.
  • domain name – I asked a friend in the business about how to acquire a no-longer-used domain name and was followed by a company that sells cheap domain names.
  • crossover – This is the funniest one. The National Lacrosse League has a new rule called the "crossover" rule. With the new rule, four teams from the East division and four teams from the West division make the playoffs unless the fifth place team in the West has a better record than the fourth place team in the East (there are only four teams in the East). In that case, the fifth place Western team "crosses over" into the Eastern division for the playoffs, taking the place of the fourth place Eastern team. I mentioned the new crossover rule in a couple of tweets, and was followed within minutes by at least three car dealerships. Only one still follows me.
  • perl – I mentioned perl in a tweet a couple of years ago and was instantly followed by an account for a perl blog. Oddly, one of the writers on that blog is named Graeme.

Last week, I started an experiment. I tweeted that I love spatulas to see if I would get followed by @spatulacentral, Your ultimate source for spatula news and information! No such luck.