Picky Mat Example

Picky Mat – Make Your Own Cat Food Dish Liner

While I’m sad that the Kickstarter project failed for Picky Mat, I know the product works and I know it solves a real problem: cats who complain when they eat their dry food and suddenly see the bottom of the dish and consider their dish empty. Picky Mat solves this by removing the discouragement and in some cases retrains the cat to eat more of their food even after the mat is removed. All that being said, I didn’t want that work to go to waste, so here is a quick tutorial in making your own DIY Picky Mat.
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WebM Converter Batch File

Encode WebM Video Files on Windows for HTML5 with FFmpeg

If you want to put video on the web, you’ll probably just going to upload it to YouTube and use their embed code. However, if you want to embed video on your own site without YouTube you want to make use of HTML5’s video element. To do that, you’ll want to make two encodings of your videos: WebM (Google backed) and H.264 (current standard). H.264 is easy because it’s been a standard for a long time (I personally use HandBrake), but WebM is quite a bit more difficult. There hasn’t be a defacto winner when it comes to encoding, though Miro Converter has come close.

However, the core of Miro and many others is the open encoder FFmpeg so we’re just going to setup an easy way to use that in this tutorial. Here are our goals:

  1. Install FFmpeg on Windows
  2. Create a Batch file (.bat) that we can drag-and-drop video files on to create WebM video
  3. Write the HTML5 code to allow for maximum speed and compatibility

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zubits vs klots

Zubits vs Klöts: Say Goodbye to Tying Your Shoelaces

I’ll be honest, I don’t like tying or untying my shoelaces. Typically, I would just leave them tied relatively loose and them over time abuse the shoe by getting in and out of it without touching the laces. Why? This may be too honest, but frankly, at the time of this post I’m overweight and my gut gets in the way and it’s not at all comfortable. There has to be an easier way, right?

Turns out there is, and the answer is in a custom closure. Sure, you could get some Velcro closed sneakers, but what if you want to try and maintain the sneaker look and snugness and get the ease of getting in and out of them without touching a shoelace? What if it is not a sneaker at all? Enter two options I’m going to quickly compare: Zubits and Klöts.

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honda-insight-battery

Options for a Failing Honda Insight IMA Battery

My Honda Insight hybrid is a 2002 model and has already had its battery pack replaced in 2008. Well, in its 13th year (7 years on the new pack), the pack started reporting degradation of the battery requiring some decisions. Considering the value of a car with 165,000 miles and 13 years on it, replacing the pack (even with a refurbished/reconditioned battery) would constitute over 50% of the value of the vehicle, so it’s not a good idea at this point IMHO.

That leaves two options, but if you found this article then I need you to learn from my mistakes:

The Honda Insight, at its core, is a 3-cylinder 67-hp engine and can function without the battery with the loss of auto-stop, regenerative braking, and some MPG. However, depending on when your pack was made, the decision above will be made for you. To explain, I’ll briefly tell you my experience and logic.

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graph of declining mobile errors of 15% after 2 weeks

Mobile-Friendly Redesign: You’re Already Late

On April 21, 2015, Google started demoting search rankings for websites that were not mobile-friendly. Prior to that date, I updated 11 of 12 websites I run. The big one, NovelRank, was going to take much longer and be much more complicated, so it missed the deadline.

Well, on September 1st, the redesign was completed and released. However, as you can see in the image above, the story still isn’t over. Even though it’s been 2 weeks since the redesign, Google took ~7 days to update to the new link structure (dropped .php) in search results. It also has only identified 15% of pages that previously had mobile errors as fixed. Needless to say, it’s going to be a few more weeks until the benefits (or rather, the removal of penalties) are actually reflected across the entire website in the eyes of the major search engines.

So be warned, that delay means that when you think you’re done, the search engines of the world may not see it that way for weeks after. You’re already behind, so don’t delay on getting your sites mobile-friendly. I personally love Bootstrap, if you want a recommendation for a responsive design framework.

Update: Sept 21, 2015

Mobile errors dropped dramatically, down to 89 total (8% of the original). So, after 3 weeks the vast majority of the mobile-friendly redesign was absorbed into Google’s knowledge of the site. I expect that by the end of the month the number will be zero or a single digit total.

Update: November 3, 2015

After seeing 5 pages with mobility issues for lingering pages not rechecked by Google’s crawler for the last month, the number is finally 0. For most sites it would have been done by the 1 month mark, but for a larger site (thousands or tens-of-thousands of pages like mine) it took 2 months to get a 100% seal of mobile approval.

Cosplay - Umbrella Corporation Denver traps catwoman

11 Things Denver Comic Con Should Improve (But Probably Won’t)

Who am I to criticize Denver Comic Con? The organization has changed a lot in the 4 years from inception, including removing founders, hiring and firing executive directors, and so much more. More importantly, I’ve played many roles inside and out of the convention since it’s inception. I started with a press pass in year 1 (e.g. capturing this video), then I was media as one of the official photographers in year 2. By year 3 I was on staff in charge of the official media team (photographers/videographers) and also part of the overall communications team. Due to various reasons, I chose not to continue as a volunteer for DCC in year 4 and purchased a 3-day pass and was an attendee like any other, without any special privileges.

Hopefully that’s enough to convince you that I have some credibility in regards to the following critique. Now, I think there are some things that DCC is doing right (e.g. kid’s corral and educator day), but after this year the excuse of “still learning” is no longer viable and lessons should be learned before the general public loses faith in the event.

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