Linsenblog 2.0

…or 4.0, by now?  I dunno…there have been a few iterations at this point…

As all two of you may have noticed, the blog has been effectively MIA the past few months.  I’m hoping to change that and get back to posting more regularly, now that my schedule has kinda evened out at school, but also now that I’ve shifted the blog off of a server I’m running onto something a bit more professional, hosted by GoDaddy.

Since moving to Marshall, I’ve been trying to run the site on a Raspberry Pi, a super cheap Linux-based computer that is powered by a cellphone processor and is, thus, quite energy efficient.  The problem, I found, was that a). it’s slower than I want it to be, and b). its limited version of Linux couldn’t reliably handle the database that this site relies on (hence the “Error Establishing Database Connection” that kept on showing up the past few weeks).

Rather than build a new Linux-based computer, I’m paying for off-site hosting now.  We’ll see how this goes, but the performance is already leaps and bounds better than anything I’d built the past few generations.  Hopefully, keeping the site up-and-running more reliably will also make it easier for me to post things on a more regular basis.  As always, of course, the blog has been more of an outlet for me (and occasionally Brooke), so I’m not trying to garner additional web traffic or readership or anything…

…I just want it to work…  :-)

A Few Changes

WordPress released updated software today, so in setting it up, I opted to mess with the new default theme and new image features.  Specifically, the ability to add galleries like…well…this one!

Anyway, as usual when I do silly things like this, I’ll probably change a few things around aesthetically before I settle on something I’m happy with.  For now, this is what you get.  So far, I’m pretty happy with all the options within the default theme (being used currently) and am pretty impressed with now nice images look within the galleries.  Also, the site should work pretty well on cell phones and tablets now.

Neat stuff!

A New Coat of Paint

As I alluded to a few days ago, I was getting a bit bored with the previous website theme, and as I was upgrading to WordPress 3.0 on the back-end, I figured it was about time to switch around the front-end a bit, too.  I honestly didn’t look around all that hard, but I came across this series of themes from Digital Nature that looked really classy and customizable.  I’ll still be changing things around a bit as we re-arrange some series of links, but this is effectively what the site will look like.  A few points of interest:

  • The Picasa photo browser is now at the bottom of the page, and a bit smaller.
  • The background image will probably get changed from time to time.  I’m not entirely happy with what I did with the coloring, so I may fix that…but that picture will probably remain on the site for a bit.
  • At the bottom of the links on the right-hand column, there’s a little tabbed browser now that is worth checking out.  It now includes the “tag cloud,” as well as a “most commented on posts” and “recent comments” browser.

Anyway, I think it looks a bit prettier now.  As always, consider it to be a “beta” product.  :-)

Collecting Data

So, I am still maintaining the Webster Hills UMC website, which will hopefully undergo a redesign in the upcoming months (depending on whether I get the “go ahead,” and when they decide what system they want to use…but that’s another story). Within the last few months, I instituted use of Google Analytics in order to help track where the web traffic was coming from, what search queries led people to the site, and generally which pages on the site visitors were viewing.

I instituted the same system on this website as well. We were running a similar bit of software to do the same thing, but the Google system is quite a bit more powerful and, as it’s built into Google, it’s very easy for me to access anywhere and look at who is visiting Linsenbardt.net.

Google Analytics tells me a variety of things, such as:

  • 57% of visitors use Firefox; 22% use IE; and 16% use Chrome
  • 26% use cable internet; 16% use DSL; and the remainder use other things (T1, OC3, etc.)
  • 86% of visitors are “returning,” and 14% are “new” to the site.
  • Most visitors are from Missouri (and now Iowa).  Wisconsin, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania are the next in line for visitors to the site.

I find the “keywords” to be amongst the most interesting data, however.  The top keyword used to find the site is “andy linsenbardt,” followed by various others, including “brooke and andy” (which, by the way, is crazy that searching for “brooke and andy” on Google takes you to our site…as if we’re the only ones on the internet?!).

The keyword that prompted me to write this post in the first place, however, was “lee strobel drop denomination.”  Sure enough, if you search for that phrase, you find a blog posting I wrote way back in 2005 as the sixth down the page.  Apparently, in one of his books, Lee Strobel suggested that it’s alright for churches to drop the denomination from their name (e.g. rather than “Webster Hills United Methodist Church,” call it “Webster Hills Community Church”).  Incidentally, if you search for “Lee Strobel is an Idiot” on Google, my blog post comes in at #10.  Not bad!

On a side-note, I’m starting to get a bit bored with the WordPress theme we’ve been using. It’s really only been up for a few months (September?), but with the newly announced WordPress 3.0 upgrade, I figure I may make a few changes. Could take a bit – depends on how motivated I am!

Passing On

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We went down to Columbia this past weekend for my Grandma’s funeral. She was 95-years-old and took a fall a few weeks ago. Grandma never recovered from it and, thankfully, her pain didn’t last for too long. While my Aunts and Uncles (and Mom…and the whole family, for that matter) were sad to lose her, Grandma lived a very long life and was able to do things on her own for the vast majority of it. She only moved into a nursing home last year, and even then, her heart was always strong.

I’m very happy that Meg got to meet her Great-Grandma. In my case, I actually remember my Dad’s Grandparents (as they passed away in the late-1980s/early-1990s), but I never really knew my Mom’s Grandmother. We do, however, have a picture of Mom’s Grandmother holding me while in the nursing home when I was a baby. Similarly, Meg will probably get to know Brooke’s Grandparents over the next few years (as they’re all in their 70s), but will have a picture (or two) of her being held by my Grandma.

Of course, I now have someone else I can call “Grandma” (or whatever Meg decides to call my Mom, someday :-)).

On another note, some of you may have noticed the server was down over the weekend. We woke up Friday morning to find the server powered down. I tried a few things, but couldn’t get it started again – it wouldn’t power on at all. I was hoping it wasn’t the motherboard, as replacing that would likely have me lose the blog up until my last backup (which was a few weeks ago…grrrrr…). Fortuitously, we were going to Columbia anyway, where I could take advantage of Dad’s stash of components and electrical equipment, so I just took the server with us! Long story short, we tried a few things and eventually figured out it was the video card. The fan on the thing was immovable, suggesting it had overheated. After I removed it, the thing turned back on…but I had to go get a new one from Best Buy in order to actually see anything on the screen. The new card was recognized by Linux without a hitch and it’s all up and running again (obviously). Now I’m investigating ways of automatically backing up the blog database…

Wait…what just happened…

So, Brooke and I discussed a few months ago that as we draw closer to moving on to the “next stage of our lives,” we ought to consider combining our two blogs into a single one. Now that there’s a baby on the way, and that we’re going to be job hunting pretty soon, it makes sense that we should both post in the same place so that any time either of us have a thought (or concern…), it can be found easily!

So yeah, I think this is the theme we’ll stick with for now. So far as I know, everything is still here, including all of my own posts and all of Brooke’s posts as far back as 2005, as well as all photo attachments (for the most part…I’m sure I missed a few…).

For the record, WordPress made it stupid easy to export all of the blog posts and images, and then import them into this new blog. I commend them on excellent, free, software!

A Trip Down Memory Lane

So, for some odd reason, I decided to see if I could find my first website, which was the Hickman High School Drumline site (ca 1998). How, pray tell? I tried first looking through the Internet Wayback Machine, which is actually a pretty nifty archive of as many websites as they can get their hands on. If you’ve never tried it, you should do something like search for “http://www.yahoo.com” and see what it looked like back in 1996 (hint: far less pretty).

Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember what the address was for the website, so then I resorted to Google. I knew I’d hosted the site on Tripod.com (remember that?), so I searched for “Tripod HHS Drum”…that came up with some pictures off the site, but from there, I was able to trace the address to: http://www.members.tripod.com/drummer6/. It looks lovely. Please note the “Best Viewed in Internet Explorer 4.0″ there…

Anyway, if you look around it, you’ll find some old pictures from the late-90s and some sound files of our drum solos from a few shows. I don’t even know how I got those, but likely, it was me sitting with a tape recorder next to the TV while playing the video tape from the VCR.

So yeah, just thought I’d share that bit of history. I’ve learned a thing or two since those dark days of Frontpage 97

I was doing so well…

psychpineapple
…until I fell off the wagon and stopped blogging. More is on the way, I promise. I just have to get around to sorting through some pictures and I’ll have a plethora of funny stuff for you. Luckily, this week is way less busy than the last few, so while I’m looking for the pineapple in every episode of Psych, I’ll sort through some stuff I scanned!

Projects

I have been administering the Webster Hills UMC website for a year now, largely making basic content changes and adding Newsletter information whenever it comes out on Wednesdays. I’ve never really been very happy with the system, personally, as it isn’t really a user-friendly system. We are using ACS Technologies Extend, which is specifically designed for churches, to allow full integration between web content, online calendering systems and financial systems (i.e. the ability to make automatic withdrawals as an offering each month, or see how much you’ve donated that year, etc.). That’s all well and good, but the back-end system is so arcane that you need to go to training seminars to fully understand it, let alone get the people at your church to deal with it. Since I’m a bit more comfortable doing web content management, I just kinda took it on, but I really don’t understand how half of it works.

Anyway, we’re moving to a new system. ACS is difficult to deal with, and not particularly cheap. We already had an account and server with GoDaddy.com, and they provide many useful FREE tools, like WordPress (which my site runs on), to install and update automatically. Very, very user friendly once it’s set up. I chose Joomla to use for the new church site, as it provides a bit more flexibility with themes and plugins, allowing me to make it look how I want it to.

The site is currently sitting at http://whtest.websterhillsumc.org/ (now defunct, as of 09.02.09). It doesn’t quite have the bandwidth I’d like, so it may seem a bit slow, but it’s much more functional. The other benefit, as the guy that’s been putting information up there for a year, is that you can log in and simply click “Edit” on any article you want to. Very, very easily. This means that the church staff can just go on and change information themselves rather than sending me an e-mail and hoping I get it done that day. Articles can be uploaded by anyone and approved by an administrator. I can do polling. I can move the poll from one spot to another. I can have a rotating banner at the top of the screen. I can make that banner as large or as small as I want. These are all things that I was unable to do with ACS, which made life truly annoying…

Anyway, check it out and give me suggestions. I don’t have all the content on the new site yet, but I’m hoping to shift it over to “www” sometime mid- to late-July. You should check out the regular site first, though…keep in mind that I didn’t design that…just been managing it…

Year 26

Brooke is going to be updating her blog a bit more often. As in. Every day, and hopefully with a picture! You should check out her blog for details!

She also has a picture and description up from her car over the weekend, which had its windows broken out by hooligans…grrrrrr… Thankfully, car insurance paid for most of it and it’s all taken care of now, but when you’ve got multiple weddings to attend over Memorial Day weekend, having to deal with such things is an annoyance.