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December 31, 2011

To Be Continued

This is the end of the blog as you see it here. All of the entries, comments, and pictures have now been moved to a new location where I will continue to write new posts:


December 24, 2011

Wiki Image Maps

Image maps are pretty cool. You can turn any image into a link on a web page, but an image map allows you to have different links depending on what part of the picture someone clicks on. On the covered bridge web page, I had an image map of the United States with links to each state that had a covered bridge web page. I found the picture and code on another site and then modified it for my use. That way I didn't have to program in the shape of each state since they were there already.

Lately I have been writing some wikis at wikia.com for some pinball apps for the iPod. On the first page I have an image of the pinball table, which is an image map. You can click on different parts of the image of the pinball table and go to a page about that part. By using ALT tags, some text will pop up telling you what the part is when you hold the cursor over it.

The problem is they are a lot of work. To get that functionality, you have to write in the coordinates of different shapes which can be rectangles, circles, or irregular polygons. Then each shape has to have a link and an ALT tag to go with it. The map I did today has 30 different regions that you can click on.

I found a Hungarian site that helps out a lot, but it generates HTML and I really need wiki markup language which is different, though it has all of the same elements. So I can take the HTML and paste it into a Microsoft Word document. From there I can do find and replace on different elements to get it into the correct format, deleting commas and quotation marks, etc. Then I had to get some of the information in a different order so I inserted tabs in certain spots, copied and pasted in to Excel, then copied and pasted columns of text, then back into Word.

So it's a pain. But the result is pretty neat. Plus, with wiki software you do all the coding for the full-size image, but you can show any size smaller image you want on your page. And the wiki software automatically takes care of the different size as if someone was using the full-size image. That's something HTML doesn't do.

Here is the result on the homepage of the Da Vinci Pinball Wiki.

December 23, 2011


I have been using commercial antivirus software for a while. I don't know that it is necessary to do this because Windows has some decent protection as part of Microsoft Security Essentials or Defender or whatever they are calling it. Plus there are some free tools that are pretty good. But Fry's always has antivirus software that you can buy and then get a rebate for the entire price, making it free. So far I have always gotten the rebates, but twice I had problems, once with Kaspersky and once with Norton, where they told me I didn't fill in the submission correctly. However, after I complained they sent me the rebates anyway. Sometimes I will get a couple of products the same year just to try them out. I had written about past experiences a few times already. Right now I like Norton the best because it only scans when I am away from the desktop whereas McAfee takes 8 hours or so to scan on my laptop (better than Kaspersky which I gave up on after the scan took many days).

Mom usually uninstalls whatever antivirus software I have given her, but after she let one of her subscriptions run out and got infected shortly thereafter, she has been pretty good about leaving the software in place on her laptop at least. Right now she is using McAfee Total Protection, which I installed last year after getting a 3-user license. It is on my laptop as well and the third license is unused. Mom started letting me know that it was about to expire and asking what to do. I said we would get a new copy once it went on sale at Fry's again, but I wasn't seeing it on sale.

She was getting a little more antsy and the deadline was less than 2 weeks away, so I went to Fry's website (they have cut back on their full page newspaper ads that they used to have most days on the back of the sports page) and saw they had a single user version for free after rebate, but not the 3-user version. With Mom in Florida, I thought maybe I could extend the subscription on my laptop and that would get her extended as well, otherwise I would need to mail the CD to her. Then I was checking again and found the 3 user version for $59.99 with a $60 rebate online (I'm still out sales tax plus a stamp for the rebate submission). They also had a 3-user version of Norton Internet Security (which I use on my desktop computer) for free after rebate and it included Norton Utilities, which I thought could be useful. However the last day of the deal was yesterday and it was supposed to rain like crazy all night. The traffic map showed the entire city either yellow or red. That's about the worst I've ever seen. But around 7:30 it stopped raining, so I headed up to Fry's at about 8 PM. Fry's had the 3-user McAfee Total Protection for $79.99 with a $60 rebate. That wasn't what I was after. I asked at the nearby desk (with the rain and traffic earlier, Fry's wasn't that busy) and they were able to look it up and print out a piece of paper to give to the front desk so they would ring up $59.99 instead of $79.99. I also got Norton, Season 3 of Everybody Loves Raymond (now have Seasons 1-6 if anyone wants to borrow them), and Season 3 of Get Smart (wound up returning it because the sale was only for Season 5 and Season 3 rang up for full price).

Got home and the question was if I could extend the subscription or would Mom need to have the CD to install the new version and its license. The software was registered to Mom, so when I went to sign in at McAfee's website I had to use Mom's account, but I didn't know the password and I got the account locked while guessing. I could reset the password, but only by sending something to Mom's Yahoo mail account, which I can't get to. So I called Mom and she forwarded me the message with the link to reset the password, which worked perfectly. Now I used the McAfee live chat to see if I could extend the subscription. If I clicked Renew next to Mom's Total Protection license that was about to expire, they wanted me to buy a license. So I asked the chat people if I could use a store bought copy of McAfee to extend a subscription. They wrote back "Yes". I asked how to do that and they said I should contact technical support. I tried that, but wasn't getting anywhere so I decided to just install the software. The tech support website said it was better to uninstall the software before installing new software, so I turned off the wifi on my laptop (to prevent any infections while I had no protection) and put the CD in. The first screen of the installer said a previous copy had been detected and would I like to extend my subscription. I clicked Yes. That was easy! I didn't have to even download any software or do anything else except enter the registration key. And now Mom is good until 2013 too. That puts us past the Mayan end of times, so we should be good.

To summarize:

  • Check the Fry's website for deals, not just the paper

  • Get the same exact variety of McAfee (Total Protection)

  • Remember Mom's password to McAfee's website

  • Use the CD installer to extend the subscription

December 18, 2011

Katie's New Shoes

Recently Katie has had a hard time walking. Indoors her back legs will slip and sometimes she will collapse. Outdoors we went for a walk and her back right foot would drag a little, causing a scrape on the top of her foot. I don't think she is in pain since the damage seems to be neurological, but falling down and getting scrapes can't be good either. I do think the exercise helps. I had some of that tacky stuff that goes underneath area rugs to keep them from slipping so I put some of that underneath towels and comforters so she could get some good footing in places. But I couldn't do the whole house. The comforter in the living room has become almost like a pen that she doesn't want to leave. When I come home she stands up and stands at the edge, waiting for me to come pet her.


So I looked into getting some shoes. I had forgotten about Grant getting shoes for Isaac, but the vet recommended a couple of places and I ended up buying some of their heavier duty indoor/outdoor summer shoes from NeoPaws. The winter shoes are made for dogs walking in snow or extreme cold, which we don't worry about too much. The shoes have a rubber bottom and toe on them like sneakers. Then they have a velcro closure and a long velcro strap that you wrap around the ankle for support. David helped me get the correct size by tracing Katie's foot on a piece of paper. I ordered the shoes last weekend and they arrived on Friday. They aren't that easy to get on correctly, mostly because dogs don't have a heel that fits nicely inside a shoe. There is a video on the NeoPaws website where the shoes came from that was helpful. It works better if the dog is standing up, but it is easier to put the shoes on Katie while she is lying down since she won't try to walk off.

She wasn't crazy about the shoes, but it has been interesting. They are very grippy so they work great in the house and Katie definitely has more confidence while wearing them. However, they are also bigger than just her feet and tend to get caught on the comforter so sometimes they seem to trip her up a bit. She still collapses sometimes just because her legs don't always do right, but it is definitely less frequent.

Outside she has better grip on the ground with her bare feet, but the shoes do protect her from scraping at least. I have started her on steroids, which may give her the strength to pick her feet up a little better, in which case maybe we can do without the shoes outside.

She doesn't really mind the shoes. She isn't crazy about the process of putting them on, but she does so much better walking around in the house with them on, that I think she understands how they help. And she doesn't chew on them ever, so I can leave her in the shoes for a long time, though I won't leave her alone with them on and I do try to leave them off if I know she has settled down and will just sleep for a while. Dogs sleep with their chins on their feet, so I don't think it would be as comfortable to put her chin on sneakers, though the sneakers do probably keep her feet a little warmer than otherwise.


December 14, 2011

The Neurologist

I took Katie in to a veterinary specialist today to see if they could figure out what is wrong with her back legs not working. I had guessed that it might be degenerative myelopathy earlier based on symptoms, but knew that it could be something like a slipped disk too. The neurologist asked me about what was going on then checked out her eyes and facial nerves. Then tried all four legs and then palpated her spine, finding a very sensitive spot about halfway down her back. Then we walked her outside and he watched her walk around. When we came back in he gave me his thoughts.

He feels like she has something wrong in one of her disks or maybe a tumor pushing on her spine. He said it isn't just her back legs, but her front legs look like they are acting a little funny as well (though not nearly as bad). He then outlined a series of tests that could be done to pinpoint the exact problem. One of these is a myelogram where they put dye into the spinal cord and take an x-ray which then might show what kind of damage there is. Plus bloodwork, anesthesia, etc., the tests were going to be about $3,200. One of the possible problems he mentioned was Wobbler Disease, which is some kind of spinal cord problem which is usually associated with disk damage or something like that. I looked it up in my copy of Wikipedia while I was waiting for them to take x-rays of Katie and it said the treatment is usually either surgery which may not be effective, or steroids, which is what he was recommending anyway. On the bill, the steroids were $9. So we'll see how that goes. He said the x-rays showed some arthritis in her spine, which is typical for old dogs and may put pressure on the spine. They didn't see any tumors, but that doesn't mean they're not there. And they couldn't see disk damage because the disks don't show up without an MRI or CT scan.

Meanwhile I hope to get Katie's sneakers in the mail which will give her better footing indoors (I put some comforters and blankets down in the house with no-slip things that go under rugs and she has quickly learned to stay on those) and keep her from getting her feet scraped up when she drags them on walks. For disk damage I need to cut back on her walks, rather than keeping up with the walks as therapy for myelopathy. I may order a doggie wheelchair if her back end doesn't get any better. Everything I see on the internet is for dogs who got wheelchairs and then died later because the dogs are usually pretty old by the time they get a wheelchair anyway. The good thing about these nerve-related problems is she isn't in much pain and is otherwise pretty alert and normal.

December 11, 2011

Big Bang Theory

I never watched the TV sitcom Big Bang Theory, but recently Channel 17 (used to be TBS but is now WPCH, Peachtree TV, and has different programming than TBS) has started airing two episodes a day Monday through Friday. With a DVR it is easy to get every episode and WPCH has been very considerate by airing them in order separated about halfway through the four season run. I have been watching for a month but can't possibly keep up with so many episodes, thus filling up my hard drive. But there are less than 100 shows so it only takes 9 weeks of recording to get everything. I am getting pretty close, and I have been able to delete one of the timers since it has caught up with the shows I recorded with the other timer. Plus the show is still airing on prime time so I get the most recent season once a week.

It's a pretty good show, about 4 science geeks and a normal girl. It is usually pretty dumb with it's oversimplified exaggerated portrayal of nerdom, but occasionally brilliant. And it comes up day-to-day, with a person at work pointing out a parallel with a group of us who eat lunch together at designated places for the day of the week, which the nerds do for dinner (and that is pretty geeky to do that for dinner).

Several episodes have included the song "Soft Kitty" which the weirdest science geek, Sheldon, likes to have sung to him when he is sick (in one episode, the girl offers to sing the song to him when he is sad after feeling betrayed by his friends, but he points out that "Soft Kitty" is only for when he is sick, and there is no song for when he is sad, concluding "I'm not a child").

Soft kitty, warm kitty
Little ball of fur
Happy kitty, sleepy kitty
Purr, purr, purr

I looked this up on some wikis about the show. They pointed out (I don't know how they know things like this) that the song is real, though it is called "Warm Kitty" and reverses the kitties in the first and second lines ("Warm kitty, soft kitty" and "Sleepy kitty, happy kitty"). Maybe the writers of the TV show changed it to avoid copyright problems (don't know if that would hold up, since it's still obviously the same thing), but I do think they improved it. "Soft kitty" is a much funnier name for the song and it seems appropriate to end on "sleepy kitty" if the idea is to put someone to sleep.

December 10, 2011

Degenerative Myelopathy

Lately Katie has had more trouble walking than usual. She has been arthritic for a while and had two knee surgeries, but things have gotten worse. A couple of times she has just fallen down. She doesn't seem to be in a lot of pain, her back legs just don't seem to work correctly. I took her to the vet today and they ruled out a couple of things and said they would try increasing the dosage of an anti-inflammatory that she takes already. They also said it could be neurological rather than arthritis and they could refer me to a neurologist, but the tests get pretty expensive. I asked would there be that many treatment options after going through all the expensive tests and the vet wasn't sure. Katie is 12 years old, which is getting pretty old for a black lab.

Later I was reading about a condition called degenerative myelopathy. It is a disease of the spinal cord and nerves in older dogs where the myelin sheath of the nerves starts to degrade and disrupts the communication of signals from the brain to the muscles. It isn't painful like arthritis, but it does cause dogs to fall down and affects their back ends usually. The degenerative aspect means it gets worse and worse and the back legs of the dog can be completely paralyzed in months and even spread to the front legs. If Katie has this, it is not good. But the decline has been pretty sharp lately making me think it isn't just arthritis, though it could also be a ruptured disk. I am thinking that if I take her to the neurologist they may be able to narrow it down quickly or maybe just start treatments as if she has the condition and see if that works, skipping the expensive tests and hoping the treatment isn't that expensive.

In the meantime, since her legs don't work that great, I thought I'd get her some shoes and my vet recommended some good ones from neopaws.com. These will give her better traction on the floors indoors and can protect her feet if she drags them while we are on walks (I got the summertime/indoor type instead of some of the cold or wet weather ones). David helped me trace her foot so we could order the correct size. They cost about as much as my shoes, but I am only getting them for the back legs. Exercise is actually supposed to help slow the effects, so if it helps her exercise that will be good, even though it won't do anything for the overall weakness and collapses. They also make those wheeled carts for the back ends of dogs that could work, including one that lets them still walk but the wheels keep them from collapsing. Fish oil tablets, which I would give her sometimes anyway, are also supposed to help, along with Vitamin E (3V Caps is a brand of fish oil tablet for dogs that has Vitamin E added). Changing her flea and heartworm medication may also help, and the brand Revolution is recommended by one site, so I may order some of that.

December 2, 2011

Pizza and Cookies

I went to Kroger with my new renter, David, last night. He really keeps up with food and has strong feelings about all the garbage that people eat and how just about everything is marketed (what he calls propaganda). I had some DiGiorno pizza coupons and Kroger had those pizzas on sale. Looking in the freezer section, they had a Deluxe version of pizza that includes chocolate chip cookie dough for a dozen tollhouse cookies. Pizza and Cookies! I knew I had to get them to show David (who was off shopping on his own).

Once we got back to the car, I showed him the box. Not only are these two things that David can't eat since they have gluten (and an extra sore point is that people with Celiac disease tend to agree that pizza is one of the things they miss the most), but the idea of combining two things with so many calories that are so bad for you in one box is just amazing. David was suitably outraged. We imagined there must also be a Saturday morning ad campaign to go with this product, telling kids to go ask their parents for Pizza and Cookies for dinner. What a product.