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Friday, May 23, 2008

Are zimbio and technorati leeching hits from your site?

I think they probably are.

I'm rather new to this blog malarkey. It is proving to be more fun and enlightening than I thought it would be. For one thing I have discovered that I am rather vain. This blog started off as a way of discussing things which interest me without having to witness the eyes of my audience glaze over (which is what happens when I do this in person).

To my surprise I started to care how many hits my blog was getting. Now that's a contradiction, how can you write what you think is a boring blog yet expect people to visit it.

Anyway to try and pump up the hits I enrolled in digg, technorati, zimbio, and propeller. Currently I am monitoring which is generating the most traffic.

Although its early days yet I think I have already made up my mind that its going to be propeller and digg that I stick with. I'm toying with the idea of dumping technorati and zimbio.

The reasons for this are simple. I am providing technorati and zimbio with free content which someone can read without ever coming to my blog. I have to hope that someone reading my post at zimbio or technorati will click the tiny link to my site that they provide. There is no way of even knowing how many views my material is getting there. Why don't they show this? Maybe it's because if you saw how many views your post got there and compared it to the referring link stats for your site you would quickly do the math. Another problem for me to consider is that when I do a google search, on a topic I have discussed in my blog, then the results will come back with the zimbio and technorati results for my material far nearer the top than those from my own blog site. It seems that there is a big danger of loosing search engine hits also.

With propeller and digg the person interested in your post is linked directly to your blog so you definitely get the hit as well as the possibility of getting a digg or equivalent.

I feel a bit bad about being down on zimbio because they did but one of my posts on their front page. It was encouraging that they thought it was good but did it generate more hits for them than it did for me? I need the hits more than they do. I suppose it depends why you are doing a blog. If you just want your stuff out there then technorati and zimbio are fine. If you are like me and get your kicks from actual hits on your site (and maybe your ads) then perhaps you should have a think about who you use for your blog publicity drive. Oh vanity, vanity, vanity!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Literacy problems? Then try a screen reader they are not just for the visually impaired. textHELP vs NaturalREADER

Click here to listen to this article. (mp3)

Its really important that everyone gets the opportunity to access the internet. One of the barriers for people who have literacy disabilities is that the internet is mainly text driven. One of the ways to get round this is to use a screen reader. Screen readers have been historically closely associated with use by people with a visual impairment, however, they can be an invaluable tool for people with literacy problems as well.

Screen readers that are designed exclusively for people with a visual impairment are not great for people who have vision. They tend to read the text very quickly and they include information about everything which is on the screen and this can be confusing if you are not used to it.

A good free screen reader for internet use is browsealoud by textHELP. The only snag with this, and it's a biggie, is that the web site that you are visiting needs to be browsaloud enabled. Although the browsealoud screen reader is free the website developer has to purchase browsealoud in order to enable their web site.

What we want is a screen reader that will read any text from a web site or document on the screen. textHELP have a product that will do this called Read and Write Gold. This is undeniably a good product. I have helped people to use it to excellent effect. Having said that there are a couple of major problems which have put me off the software. At one time textHELP would sell the screenreader element of Read and Write Gold separately however, they no longer appear to do so, I can not find it for sale on their web site. Instead it has become an element of the Read and Write package. This has resulted in the software becoming much more expensive. Secondly textHELP no longer have a free trial version available from their web site. I find this unforgivable, I would never buy software that did not allow me to try it first.

So textHELP get a grip, start focusing on individual customers, you seem to be totally focused on selling to organisations.

If you want to try a screen reader I suggest you go for NaturalREADER. Do not be put off by their horrible home page (I just mention that because I am scared of people who wear headsets). Again, I have helped people to use this software to excellent effect. NaturalREADER provide a free trial version (without annoying reminders) that has all the functionality you need to make a good assessment of the product. Once installed put it into minibar mode, select the text you want it to read by highlighting it with the mouse in the usual way, then click the speaker icon on the minibar. Works a treat. Great stuff NaturalReader guys, keep up the good work.

If you should decide to buy NaturalReader you will get more functionality and importantly it is reasonably priced, especially if you are in the uk with the present $/£ exchange rate.

Need more info on this? Then leave a comment or use the contact button to email me.

Polybore has started a forum on this topic click here to contribute.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Last Trip by Dr Malcolm Finlay

Click here to watch the film.

I'm excited and green with envy. Because of their involvement in the production, friends of mine are off to Cannes. "The Last Trip" was shot, directed and produced by Dr Malcolm Finlay and is among 12 super8 films chosen to premier at the film festival. I say I am excited, they are more so because if it wasn't enough that they were going to the Cannes Film Festival for the first time, they haven't even seen the film yet!

The straight8 prize has very strict rules, you have to shoot the film on one film cartridge (three minutes),so no editing, whats more you have to submit the film undeveloped. The first time the film makers will see the film is the screening and premier at Cannes. I'd love to be there to see their faces.

Its a tremendous achievement the film beat off 163 entrants from all over the world to earn its premier at Cannes. I can't wait to see it. I'm surprised that there is not more about this in the press. I might give my friends a call and scoop an exclusive. In fact I'm sure I will, when they told me they were off to Cannes I reacted as if they had told me they were going to the shops or something. Its only today that full realisation has kicked in.

If you are in the UK tune into to Channel 4 on Wednesday 21st of May at 7.55pm. If not then you can see the films here

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The perfect Gin and Tonic

Like this recipe? Check out all the polybore recipes here.

The sound I associate most with warm summer evenings is the tinkle of ice in the perfect, refreshing, gin and tonic. Now, the gin and tonic may seem rather straight forward when compared to it’s more complicated, flashier cocktail cousins. However there is an art to the classic gin and tonic. It’s the little black dress of the cocktail world, simple but classic. Let’s explore this fantastic drink.

First off you need a good quality gin. When making cocktails it is tempting to go for a value gin as its flavour will be masked by all the other ingredients. Not so with the gin and tonic, it shows off your quality gin to its best advantage and demonstrates it’s creator’s knowledge of a good gin. Then there is the tonic, again we need the good stuff, no scrimping here either. Avoid the diet/ slimline tonics, lets live a little, we want the perfect gin and tonic. Tonic is best bought in single serving cans. If you buy a large bottle of tonic then by the end of the evening it, your gin and tonics, and your party will be flat.

Now we start to explore more deeply the art of the “G and T”. Cool and chilled are the bywords here. Chill the gin overnight and make sure the tonic is also icy cool. Get plenty lemons and limes and chill them overnight also. Make sure that you will have a plentiful supply of ice.

A massively important component of the perfect G and T is the glass that you are going to serve it in. Please do not even think about using anything plastic. You are going to need a good sized tumbler; we need to get plenty of ice in there, as well as the lemon and lime slices. Nothing beats quality crystal glasses and it’s the only way to achieve the tinkling sound of ice against glass that I find so evocative of summer. Hey, it’s the perfect gin and tonic we are after here. Make sure that the glasses are nice and cool, put them in the refrigerator an hour or two before your party.

Now with the ground work done we can relax and look forward to treating our guests to the perfect G and T. Its time to pour.

Because we chilled the glasses we don’t need to put the ice in first. This is important, if you put the ice in first it is difficult to judge how much gin you have put in and we need consistency here. Take note of how much gin you put in for future reference then add plenty ice, top up with tonic and pop in slices of lime and lemon. I suggest as a rough guide one part gin to seven parts tonic but you know your own palate. Taste your first G and T and adjust accordingly. I usually get someone else to taste it as well. Remember it is refreshing and light we are after here, not, that was fantastic but my head has just exploded.

To really show off your perfect G and T invest in some light up ice cubes and put a couple of these into each glass along with plenty of regular ice. Blue lights work the best in my opinion and give a really classy effect which is just what this splendid drink deserves. This is great for a night time party and will help you keep track of guests who may have become “lost” in the dark.

My widgets for Blogger round up.

Wow there are a lot of widgets out there that you can add to your blog or web page. Here is a round up of some the ones I have used so far. You can see how they will look by having a scroll round the blog.

Google ADwords. Very easy to get set up and going. Click on the Get Google ADwords box to get adding adverts to your site.

Kontactr allows visitors to my blog to contact me by email without having to leave my blog. As you can see you can use this without showing your actual email address. It has anti spam protection and was an absolute breeze to set up.

Instant messenger widgets,well there are a few out there but I opted to go with
Plugoo. Plugoo works with my existing messaging software ie MSN Live Messenger which is why I went for it. Perfect for my needs but it has one disadvantage over the others in that you can only chat to one person at a time.

I got the clock from
Google Gadgets. There are loads of gadgets of every type and description to choose from there.

The RSS button I picked up from

Monday, May 19, 2008

Introducing the PC to someone on the autistic spectrum.

Jigsaws Galore screenshot I've had a bit of experience introducing computers to people who are on the autistic spectrum. I'm going to share some of what I have learned by posting it here at Polybore. If you need more info please don't hesitate to contact me.

First off I'm going to suggest having a look at Jigsaws Galore. You can download a free trial of the software. Jigsaws Galore comes with some jigsaws that you can start using straight away or you can use a picture file of your own and the software will convert it into a jigsaw. I particularly like this feature as you can make the jigsaw more interesting for the person using it by reflecting their interests. You can make the jigsaw easy or difficult by setting how many pieces the jigsaw will have, this is good as you can start the person off on a really easy jigsaw, then as they get the hang of it you can increase the difficulty.

Whats the advantage of this computer game over the traditional jigsaw? The person doing the puzzle on the computer is learning how to click and drag items on the desktop of a PC. This skill is essential for using a computer. Also some people on the autistic spectrum find it easier to communicate via a third party, in this case the computer is the third party. People love to show others what they have done (show and tell) and this can be true for people on the autistic spectrum too.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Todays most searched.

Ever wondered what other people are searching for with google and yahoo? I have and the results are often surprisingly obscure. Here is where I check them.

For yahoo

For Google