New Improved Photo Gallery

I know that in the past looking at our photos has been a bit of a drag, what with having to read every file name to see what the picture was about. I have finally installed a proper Photo Gallery package on my home server so that you will be able to browse the photo thumbnails visually to see what you want to expand to full-size. Take a look!

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The photo album was created with Gallery2. I cannot say enough about this package. If you have any geek in you at all you can set this up on your server.

Tools used to build this site.

This site is built using a number of tools. Amazingly, most of the software tools are free/GPL/Open Source. I am very happy with this arrangement and can comfortably reccommend any of these products and services.

  • My hosting service is 1and1.com, and I am generally very happy with them. The same account hosts ArcadeReplay.com, Mamenation.com, and Hoyt-Baldwin.com, and Zacharysantoro.com. I have also parked bensantoro.com and emilysantoro.com here too.
  • The Content Management System (CMS) is WordPress 2.1. I have also used a number of add-ins:
  • The theme, which will vary depending on my mood, is identified at the bottom of the page. I will usually modify the theme with my own header photo(s).
  • ItunesSpy plugin for WordPress. This accepts information from ItunesWatcher3. ItunesWatcher3 sits in the system tray of my Vista machine and reports to my server when ever I play a song in Itunes. The ItunesSpy plugin takes that information and displays it in the side margin, along with links to the album on Amazon. Sweet.
  • Now Reading Plugin for WordPress allows me share my reading list. I just type the name of my book and the plugin gets all the info including cover from Amazon, similar to Itunesspy.
  • WP-Print, which may or may not be visible to you right now depending on the theme in use, is used on www.santoro.com and allows a text-only print view for posts or pages. I currently only use it on the Recipes and Directions posts.
  • WordPress Widgets. This plugin makes the side column much easier to configure.
  • The Photo Album on www.Santoro.com is hosted on my own Windows XP ‘server’ in my basement, which may be upgraded to Windows Server 2003 if I get some free time. My home network is at Orotnas.com (Santoro backwards…) I needed a separate domain name due the the fact that I use Dynamic DNS and 1&1 doesn’t support it. Www.zoneedit.com does a nice job of handling that DNS for free.
  • The Photo album uses Gallery2 software to generate album pages and thumbnails on-the-fly. This is an incredible piece of software.

<post moved from my old tech blog>

End of an Era: FCC to Drop Morse Testing for All Amateur License Classes

Making the time to learn morse code was always a problem for me and I was therefore never able to upgrade to the “General Class” Amateur Radio License. That license is the one you need to work the world effectively. Well, it looks like my lucky year.

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End of an Era: FCC to Drop Morse Testing for All Amateur License Classes

NEWINGTON, CT, In an historic move, the FCC has acted to drop the Morse code requirement for all Amateur Radio license classes. The Commission today adopted, but hasn’t yet released, the long-awaited Report and Order (R&O) in WT Docket 05-235, the “Morse code”

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Windows Vista. Ignore the press and get it.

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I have been running Windows Vista for a month or so as my main OS. I have to say that overall I truly like it.

The computer press has been down-talking Vista lately because it doesn’t have dramatically new functionality. I generally agree with that sentiment, but it’s not that black and white for me.

As someone who spends 10+ hours a day at my PC, I find that Vista just ‘feels’ nicer. The Aero interface provides subtle but effective feedback on what is going on. The high-res icons are more scalable and legible for my sad middle-aged eyes. If XP was like wearing sneakers, Vista is like wearing slippers. (For further comparison, Windows 98 was like wearing lead shoes.)

I am running the “Released To Manufacturing” or RTM version. I subscribed to Microsoft TechNet Direct in order to get it, along with test licenses for most other MS products, including Office, Windows Server, SQL Server, and Exchange Server. You get ten license keys for most products as long as you agree to use them ‘for evaluation purposes.’ This is an incredible value if you tinker with MS products at all. The software is not time-bombed or crippled in any way and is certified as “Windows Genuine” so it can get full security patches.

Certainly compatibility is an issue. MS has a tool to evaluate your machine to see if you can benefit from Vista. Make sure to use it.

If your PC and apps can handle it and you can afford the license, I think you will be happy running Vista.

Beware the Wii.

Well, we had our Nintendo Wii for all of three days when the strap broke while one of my daughter’s friends was playing. The controller flew into the screen of our new-ish Samsung DLP Bigscreen and cracked it.

You can’t see it much unless the content onscreen is very bright, so we may live with it for a while. The parts to fix it alone are $400.