Operations Blog

Operations Status & Developer's Chronicle

2018/12/21 - Winter Solstice
— Within the darkest day is the promise of light. —

Happy Holidays To All
and best wishes for a
Bright New Year

2018/09/24 - double vision v2double vision v2

Nope.  That wasn't it.  Google itself had an ... issue; so we're back to normal.


2018/09/18 - double visiondouble vision

since 2012/11/19, has enjoyed favorable indexing by the search-engines-that-really-matter (google and bing) because, on that date, we enforced serving the site as non-www (so it would no longer also load as "").  we did this because, by allowing it to load either way, the search engines did just that, and then became convinced that we had two of every page, and then penalized this site's search rank for "duplicate content" because, ya know, two addresses point to the same page with the same content.

this problem remained "solved" until a few days ago when, once again, we found google's search console spitting out "duplicate content" errors - this time because our subdirectories, pages, and canonical tags are named in mixed case for human legibility, e.g.,
and the search engines are seeing two subdirectories and pages - mixed-case and lower-case (at odds with canonical tags) - where in fact only one can exist.

consequently, we've just spent the day changing canonical tags and site-map addresses to lower-case, and honoring that effort with a low-case post.

2018/05/29 - Parting with PayPal

Unlike our other past payment processor, PayPal has offered more customizable features (that reliably worked), better documentation, and it has continuously improved; yet three issues now converge.

Next month, PayPal will require all business users of its payment processor to run TLS 1.2 security.  We have never embedded it interactively in, choosing instead to send customers directly to PayPal so we did not collect any sensitive data.  Time and energy remain at a premium for the foreseeable future, and our small income has never arrived by this method.

It was a good idea whose time has gone.

2017/09/24 - Housekeeping

Now that a chunk of spare time has become available, we've cleaned up minor coding oversights, upgraded most pages from XHTML1 to HTML5, streamlined response time, tweaked displays, standardized our news archives for easier access - and found a way to make the Google Chrome browser show you new news items when they are added, rather than its cached page version.

And we've turned down the volume a bit on claiming our code is 100% W3C compliant.  Maybe 99%, give or take.  Sure, our code is safe and runs properly; but although the new specs are mostly entirely settled, new code validation apps are still in development and don't fully understand the specs.

Some history:  To loosely quote the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), specs for a single version of, e.g. HTML, can take years to perfect.  When we started this site, the specs for HTML4.x were set in stone and they were nearly complete for three versions of XHTML1.0, so the validators were accurate and we knew where we stood.  Then the radical concept of HTML5 appeared and sort of upstaged everything else.

We've always found the W3C's validators better than those built by other companies, but its current HTML5 validator is still undergoing beta testing and it's live.  The WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) offers more verbose and helpful validators.

If all five major browsers were compliant (looking at you, IE), we would be too.

2017/02/13 - Goodbye Affiliate Managers

We have drastically reduced our affiliate effort.  It was supposed to be easy:  pick some good ones, advertise them, and get a small commission when visitors bought their products.

And we did pick good ones, carefully vetted for superior customer support, product performance, pricing, and security; but we get too little visitor traffic to make it worth the effort.  How much effort?  There's the rub.

In affiliate parlance the vendor is an "advertiser", and a website owner who refers his visitors to the advertiser is an affiliate "publisher".  In addition there may be a middle-man: the affiliate "manager" who facilitates advertiser-publisher relationships, shared resources, and commissions.

Obviously, a successful advertiser's products and policies will proliferate and change with current technology, and the manager must have variable policies governing all three agents.  Thus the publisher is subject to the compounded whims and deadlines of the advertiser and the manager, odd referral mechanisms, faulty link code, and ponderous rules, as well as tending his own website and life.

Major affiliate managers try to solve publishers' overload by providing "widget" code which automatically rolls over to new offerings or rotates among advertisers.  Although this is a nice concept, it can permit injection of malicious code that attacks visitors.  Therefore Lauver Systems has never used such widgets.

Not to mention other unsavory issues neatly hidden behind non-disclosure agreements, keeping up with all of this would be fine if it was our only business; but it isn't.  Those affiliates (the vendors) are still good companies; so we're simply linking them for free.

2017/01/19 - Temporal Musings

Due to family medical issues, more than a year has disappeared; but not without a trace.  I've updated my news column regularly, and coded various site improvements and adjustments for the ever-changing web.

Google suddenly began to regard inner frames as "soft 404" replacements for the main window, due only to it's consistent URL in a browser's address bar; so an extra "history-state" change now provides Google with the name of each newly loaded frame (yawn).

The capricious labyrinth of code, settings, account details, and rules comprising Amazon Payments was removed because I don't need another career; likewise affiliate Newegg.  Make no mistake: Newegg is a great place to shop, but it's rules for affiliate publishers are the province of lawyers, which I am not.

And no, I haven't taken up the fine art of whining; it's just that I've seen enough good design to know when my time and energy are being wasted.

The latest computing problem was Windows 10's more aggressive power-saving feature - which turns off devices after an idle period - provided by a recent OS update.  It was easy to notice because Acronis True Image 2016 began to fail when it could not find an obviously connected external backup drive.  Here are two solutions.

Best regards; and be safe out there — Greg

2015/04/17 - Quttera Commendation

This should have been written on the same day (2014/04/03) as the previous post - Quttera's response was that fast:

On 2015/04/03 15:20, Quttera Support Team wrote:

Dear Greg Lauver,

Thank you for contacting Quttera support.

I have removed the cached report and run new scan. Here is an updated report: [Quttera report link]

Updated VirusTotal report as well: [VirusTotal report link]

I'm forwarding the detection related concern to our R&D for further investigation.

Thank you for using Quttera services.

[name of tech]
Quttera Support Team

Civil, competent, responsive, and offers free live scans - Thanks guys!

2015/04/03 - Goodbye WinZip

WinZip was nice while it lasted; but as its useful features multiplied into bloatware, it was acquired and then abandoned by Corel in the Commission Junction affiliate network while CJ's affiliate tracking site for this product became blacklisted as malicious (likely due to use by other malicious vendors).

At this very moment, even though we removed that link, the Quttera security scanner reports our site has malware only because it linked to that tracker.  Because Quttera refuses to re-scan immediately (probably to conserve resources), we will have to wait however long to re-scan for a clean report.

Unfortunately in this case, aggregators such as URLVoid and VirusTotal pull security reports from live scanners such as Quttera, thereby echoing this error in semantics:  it's simply inaccurate to say a site has malware when the malware is elsewhere and, other than JwSpamSpy/Prolocation reports acquired by SURBL, we can't find any clear analysis proving malicious code at the tracking site.

Quttera even flagged another of our affiliate pages because it found an old link (to the bad tracking site) which was in a comment and therefore disabled.  Seems like a "thought-crime" issue.  Stay tuned.

2015/01/06 - Site Upgrade

We now have a URL rewrite from to non-www, and a custom status code 404 (not found) page.  This raised our WooRank by 6 points and should make the search engines happier.

2014/10/18 - Tynt Publisher removed

Well, that was annoying:  We had to update most of our pages.

Once upon a time, there was a small startup company which called itself "Tynt Insight", based upon the admirable notion that, because visitors will copy what they like from your website, what they copy should include attribution to respect copyright.  After all, if visitors were to do the right thing when they copy your content, they would include attribution, would they not?

So Tynt would do everyone a favor by automatically including an attribution link with the content.  In addition, a webmaster would get a report showing what content visitors liked enough to copy.  All a webmaster had to do was add Tynt's code to his worthy pages.  And Tynt was recommended by trusted sources including LifeHacker.  And Tynt's basic subscription was free.

Time passed.  The reports were problematic:  One had to sign in to Tynt's website to see them.  They and the site were crude and incomplete.  Then Tynt reinvented itself as "Tynt Publisher Tools", with notable improvements:  their site navigation was clean and reports were e-mailed to the webmaster, showing the pages from which content was copied but not what content (likely a paid feature).

Yesterday, one of our pages stalled while loading, awaiting resources from a site we did not recognize.  Analysis revealed that Tynt's code called in at least 4 third party advertisers who track (and likely profile) visitors.  Because collects no personally identifying information, those advertisers were likely receiving only anonymous data (browser type, IP address, and similar).

Nevertheless, this was entirely unacceptable:  As the collection of anonymous data grows, it can gradually become "personal"; and the very idea, that our visitors (and our site) need to wait for the loading of potentially intrusive resources, is absurd.

Tynt, be gone.  And good riddance.

2014/10/15 - Reincarnation 2.5

Checking anonymous visitor stats and Internet Explorer 11 Developer Tools emulation of IE 7, it became clear that a lot of bots and people (and more bots) run IE 6 and 7 in which our site looked awful.  Many tests and tweaks later, it's passable in emulation; but it shines in IE 8 forward — and you really should upgrade from risky old operating systems and browsers.  Really.

2014/10/06 - Maintenance & Tweaks

Analyzed and updated or removed old external URLs - surprising how many we've accumulated - and did a bit more tidying and redecorating.  The "loading" message (in case of slow external resources) is now less garish and the About Us page is getting a face and priority lift, starting with removing a Webutations rating badge for which was stalling the entire page.  It is a good rating, but it isn't worth the annoyance to visitors.

2014/08/23 - Reincarnation all over again

We didn't make actual vows, but aspects of this site have awaited improvement for a long time, delayed by life's demands.  Fortuitous timing and knowledge finally collided three weeks ago, initiating an avalanche of keystrokes and mouse movements measurable in miles.

The cookies we used to guide the assembly of components are no longer with us, categories of pages now live in their very own folders, redundancies have been banished, naming has evolved from primitive grunts toward conversational, and two test environments complement built-in diagnostics.

Oh, sure:  All you will notice is that this site loads a little faster.

2014/08/12 - Site revision

The Chrome and Opera browsers have teamed up to ignore local cookies, and all the major browsers no longer recognize pages in the same local folder as having any kind of "origin" to satisfy the prudent "Same Origin" security requirement.

Therefore, testing this site on a local hard drive (still the quickest method), using cookies to remember structure, became problematic with Chrome and Opera looping insanely and all browsers crashing when trying to access Parent documents.

Another motivator was the need for structural and parametric reporting to ensure everything works as intended with minimal overhead and to simplify future updates.

So, today this site is simpler, faster, uses fewer cookies, looks a little nicer, and has handy cloning and testing features.

2013/11/04 - Site updates

2013 has been an eventful year, so we've posted more than usual in our News & Alerts sidebar, added two new and important resource links at the top, and added some nice finds to our Fun Stuff sidebar.

Along with many exposed compromises in online security, there have been some major victories; namely, taking down the criminals of Liberty Reserve and Silk Road, as well as the development of a solid case against "astroturfing".

But the first motive for this post is that we just discovered Twitter has fixed its "Timeline Widget" so it works properly in Internet Explorer.  Thanks guys!

2013/08/02 - Site updates

You won't notice much, but we reformatted and updated code around this site to make it easier to maintain, eliminate table elements from layouts, and accomodate recent changes in social media.

We learned that search engines regard content within "<table>" elements as merely data unworthy of indexing, so our menus are now tableless.

Of course we can expect social media sites to upgrade, with impacts to their interfaces, but Twitter has been pushing hard and their results are less than stellar.  On a few occasions, they have broken their existing "Timeline Widget" code with no discernable notice, leaving an aesthetic mess on sites which host the code.

Their responses to community questions about this have been perplexing to nonexistent.  The most recent version of the widget appears to be intentionally designed to fail if run within a nested frame in Internet Explorer, whereas it works fine under all conditions in all other major browsers.  It has been variously suggested that this is an issue of security or of dropping support for older versions of IE, but we find this scenario curious.

As browsers go, IE is still a major player, even if it is a pain in the neck to code special allowances for it; and there is no clean break with IE, because the widget works fine in a top-level window.  If the security issue is the ability of parent windows to access content in child windows such as frames, why does it work in frames in other browsers?

The answer may lie in a plethora of rapid-fire changes by a thin staff which at the moment simply doesn't have the resources to code for IE, maintain Twitterdom, battle abuse and hacks, answer questions, and compete with other social media companies.

We understand.  So our Twitter Timeline Widget is current and in-place for other browsers, and for IE if they ever get around to fixing it.

2013/06/09 - New Mobile Device page

Anybody who is Anybody has them, or plans to have them.  Go to a big news or social site and, when you sign in or out, you may see a whole page with large images of cell phones and tablets and Commandments to access the site via your mobile device.

LinkedIn, WordPress, Twitter, all the rich guys have them; so we wanted one too.  How hard could it be?  Of course, the problem with that is:  we don't come up for air until we find out.

We just wanted something simple with a banner, a menu, some text and links, and ... hmm:

There's no mouse!  Gotta index the tab order.
There are fingers!  Isolate the links for touch space.
Make our telephone number into a live call link.
Yecch!  Low-res video makes the colors ugly.
Yecch2:  the banner looks terrible when shrunk.
When and how to redirect to this changeling page?
How to view the main site anyway, as you wish?

The amount of code in that "little" page is surprising.

We're not concerned about tablets because our main site was originally designed to be elastic.  It's still useable when compressed down to a 600 px width and 400 px height; but on a small (320 x 320 px) cell phone, it looks like a steaming heap of superimposed elements.

We will continue improving on it but, for now, our new Mobile Device page is reasonably presentable - on a cell phone, not the Big Screen.

2012/11/28 - Site Search

We promised, and here it is:  our new Site Search is nothing fancy.  It's actually a much simpler single page offering both Google and Bing instead of using a separate page for Bing's complex widget which loaded slowly and did nothing more special than look pretty.

Extras:  Search this site or the web.  Learn about advanced search options.

2012/11/19 - To www or not

Apparently a lot of SEOs still don't know that search engines regard "" and "" (without the "www.") as two separate websites.  Although they certainly can be unrelated, they are usually one and the same site, and the "www" subdomain is superfluous.

But the search engines regard duplicate content as "spammy", perhaps even plagiarized, and you cannot find a finer example of duplicate content than looking at one website from two different perspectives:  with and without "www".

For a long time, in Internet years (even shorter than dog years), that has been a recipe for lower rank in search results pages (SERPs).  More recently, extra credit has been given to "original versions" - which may discern plagiarized content but does not address a fly's-eye view of the same site.

Oh, there have been discussions and debates.  A canonical Link tag was invented and agreed upon as a definitive solution, yet some pages from both sides of the fence are still catalogued, and the general public has grown so familiar with "www" that they will add it on if it seems "missing."

In deference to those who love "www", we have permitted this site to load either way, even though it's defined without.  But today, in the interest of better search rank, we pulled the plug.  The site still loads, but it now redirects to the non-www view if JavaScript is enabled.

Hope you don't mind waiting an extra blink if you add "www".

2012/10/02 - Site Search

Well, yes, it's been a very busy year including volunteer security work.  Except for keeping up its news and other interesting finds, we haven't modified this site enough to shout about.

Bing terminated its site search widget last year in deference to its more complex and paid search API; so that disabled item is off our main menu.  The Google site search button is renamed to simply "Site Search" because that page will be updated to offer both search engines, plus references to their advanced search keywords.

It's easy to limit your search to the contents of one website.  In your browser's search bar, type:

what you seek site:domain.tld
Example:  security

2011/10/19 - Update

The last 4 months have not gone by unnoticed.  Website upgrades, daily volunteer work in the Web of Trust community, fixing mysterious system errors, maintaining affiliate ads and specials, software upgrades and tests, blogging, and answering forum tech questions have made the days long and the nights short.

If you haven't tried Diskeeper 2011 yet, you're in for a real treat.  Due to it's IntelliWrite feature, it consumes almost no resources to keep your hard drives defragmented and your system speedy.

2011/06/25 - SEO Help

From - an excellent source of information on Search Engine tips, tricks, optimization, and philosophy - comes this handy, all-in-one Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors which you may freely download.  Nice piece of work!  While you're there, bookmark the companion Guide To SEO: Top Tips & Tutorial.

2011/06/01 - WHO Shocker

From today's article "WHO experts link cell phones with cancer" linked on our News & Alerts page:

31 World Health Organisation scientists confirmed yesterday there is enough evidence to justify alerting users.  They emphasised there haven't been enough long-term studies on radiation safety, and classified mobile phones in the same danger category as the pesticide DDT and petrol engine exhaust, meaning they are possibly carcinogenic.

Maybe Mom was right when she told you not to breathe exhaust fumes.  Is this really a shock?  After all, independent research - that's uncompromised research done by qualified scientists who aren't beholden to the industry - has repeatedly linked cell phones with cancer for many years.

Meanwhile, the cell phone industry has periodically responded by purchasing contrary conclusions.  There is a point at which "fair and balanced" is merely window dressing for saturating the public with enough conflicted views that they get tired of thinking about the issues at all.

What's really shocking is that the WHO has taken so long to finally arrive at "possibly" - cancer and "a host of other effects" - after reviewing dozens of published studies.  Guess which studies.  At least they plan to modify the guidelines for cell phone use.  It's a start.

To learn where you will sustain a continuous, low-level dose of mobile radiation 24/7, even with your phone turned off, check your local coverage maps.

2011/05/20 - Site tweaks and updates

Smoothed out some rough spots which happen when we're in a hurry, improved security, updated articles and affiliate offers, added Twitter's new Follow button on our About Us page, and added some new finds to our Fun Stuff and News & Alerts menus.  What could be newer than new news?

2011/04/18 - Administrivia + Exploration

Now that we've stabilized after the move, finished tAXEs, and caught up the work backlog, we're taking some time to relax with site tweaks, social networking, research into coding and security practices, and helping to make life a little easier for the people we meet.  That is relaxing ... isn't it?

2011/03/03 - WOT??

In our ongoing quest to keep you safe, we found a site called Web of Trust, which offers a widget to report quality and safety of sites linked on your web pages and a free toolbar to guide you safely while browsing the web.

Learn more on our Trade Secrets page, Website Safety Report, where you can enter a website address to get safety reports from both WOT and an online, all-in-one mass analyzer called URLVoid.

2011/02/26 - Noscript - Opera 11's Black Hole

We like the Opera browser because it's fast and more capable than Google Chrome.  For several years, Opera has championed compliance with W3C Standards.

One of those standards is the noscript HTML element, which allows a web designer to provide alternate content when JavaScript is unsupported or disabled in your browser, such as:

if (the_time_is_now) {do_something_interesting;}
This page will be dull until you enable JavaScript!

In this example, only the content within the script element tags is activated when JavaScript is enabled; otherwise, only the noscript content is displayed.

This has been a standard for many years, supported by the 5 major browsers, including Opera; however, Opera 11 completely ignores noscript content when JavaScript is disabled.  It appears they found this bug sometime in December, 2010.

Much discussion of this on the web (except in Opera's forum) gravitates around trivial uses of noscript, such as the short text message in the example.  Web gurus advise replacing noscript with other HTML elements which are simply rendered hidden with JavaScript when it's enabled.

For trivial content, this is good advice, but there's more.  "Those in the know" believe the noscript element should be eliminated from the W3C specification.  We disagree!

Granted, noscript is most often used for trivial content, but sometimes it provides alternate content in mass quantity - such as entire web pages - which must be found and downloaded from the server, and interpreted and displayed in your browser.

So what's the problem?  If it's hidden, then it's not there, right?  Wrong:  it's hidden, but it's still there, taking up resources.  It isn't trivial, and hiding it can require your JavaScript-enabled browser to download and store two independent pages when one will do.  This increases server overhead and page load time.  Conflicts or leaks between those pages are unlikely, but not impossible.

The solution to this dumb scenario is the exclusivity of the noscript element.  This alone is reason enough to carry it forward into the latest HTML5 specification, reason enough for 4 other major and compliant browsers to support it, and reason enough for previous versions of Opera to support it - claiming W3C compliance all the while.  It's not going away, dear Opera.  Be compliant:  fix your bug.

2011/02/23 - Safari browser issues

The Safari v5 browser for Windows is having several operational problems including crashes, as confirmed in Apple's forum.

Since we only use it for testing web design layout, we uninstalled it, deleted its cache folders, and then reinstalled it.  Now it's up and limping.

Note that if you "have your life stored in it," this brute force approach will wipe out all your passwords, favorites, etc; so check the forum for other methods which are more surgically precise.

After the reinstall, Safari v5 still has problems loading pages, so it's necessary to hit Reload to view them.

2011/02/02 - Blizzard!

Still snowing:  a 2,000 mile wide storm, after several others.  Darn that global warming.  The news reports it's so cold that the politicians have their hands in their own pockets.

Condensed some JavaScript code for speed.  Investigating HTML5:  looks promising, so we recoded a couple of pages to see how it goes.  Happily, it appears to be a smidge faster than XHTML and IFrames are fully supported.

2011/01/16 - Site enhancements

Added Twitter buttons to our center frame pages and Tynt Insight code to encourage back links:  content copied from automatically includes a reference link to the page from which it was copied.

It's harmess, and you're free to delete the reference link; however if you're inclined to do the right thing and cite us as the source of copied content, then we've saved you the extra effort.  Thanks in advance for posting that link.

2010/12/11 - December already??

Domestics, finding scarce resources, home and vehicle repairs, adding local photos to the blog, new connections, new affiliates avast! and SanDisk, a flurry of affiliate ads for the holidays, and a couple of week-long snowfalls made three months vanish in continuous motion.

Time flies like the wind.  Fruit flies like bananas.

2010/09/26 - Michigan, Fresh Impressions

We promised some pictures in our Fun Stuff menu.  Instead, you'll find them in Prismatica, Greg's WordPress blog, with more added as we follow the seasons.

2010/09/17 - Details, Details

OK:  we rearranged the universe (don't ask), we're up and running, and we have a new Business Direct page for the Niles / Michiana area.  If you own an independent local small business, we'd love to hear from you.

2010/09/02 - Relocation Part Deux

After a hard push, we moved to the southern Michigan side of the "Michiana" area, found a decent ISP, and recoded all physical address and telephone references on our site.  Though we still have numerous social and other accounts to update, we're reasonably ready for business.  That's because we're totally ready for a long power nap!

2010/08/03 - Relocation!  (SEO all over again ...)

Starting August 15, we're moving to southwest Michigan.  The move itself will take a week, but we likely will not be ready for business until mid September - we'll publish our new telephone number then.

This website will remain and grow, and we've been told our e-mail contact addresses will not change.  We will miss Colorado, and especially Durango; but Michigan's stunning fall colors will fill the void.  We'll post a picture or two in our Fun Stuff menu when possible.

Durango small business owners:  we will keep the Durango Small Business advertising page with its current content.  For our visitors' safety, we investigate businesses before listing them; so if we already know you and you're not yet listed, we'll list you on request.

We wish you the best in your future endeavors!

2010/07/11 - New Article

As promised, we have a new Trade Secrets article on how to resurrect a dead external hard Drive - a look at the issues and a panic-free solution for a drive that may just be playing dead.

2010/07/07 - Page One! made it to page1 of Google local search results for "computer durango, colorado" - wooHOO!  And from purely organic methods and back-links - without hacks or link farms, and without paid rank placement or advertising - and a lot of work.  We'll enjoy it while it lasts.

Concurrently, our global Alexa ranking actually went down; so we're not as popular in Timbuktu or Antarctica - boo hoo.  Oh, right ... we don't work there.

2010/07/06 - Social Connections

We joined more social, bookmarking, and sharing sites.  You'll find the prominent ones on the About Us page.  Three of them are now centralized on the main menu where you can bookmark this site, or any page loaded into the center or right side panel, from the mini menu "Bookmark & Share".

This mini menu is dynamically created when you mouse over it, so it doesn't add to the site load time; and it's central location makes it unnecessary to add the same code to every other page.  Who says Frames are passe?

Other site enhancements include adding a "human test" to our contact form to inhibit misuse by malicious programs.  Instead of trying to read badly distorted characters, it asks you to solve an easy math problem.

2010/06/01 - Social Presence

After more SEO tweaks, we started a social networking drive.  We're now on Buzztown in Durango, as well as Digg, Lifehacker (highly recommended), and Twitter (and seeking sound-byte revelations), plus various free directory listings.

Also, we have a new Trade Secrets article in the works on external hard drives.  Stay tuned ...

2010/05/09 - Browser History

... but first we must say:  Happy Mothers' Day!

We just signed up for a local listing with Bing.  Their terms prohibit listed sites from (...urk...) interfering with browser history. That is to say, if you find us on Bing, and click their link and land on our site, you should be able to simply click your browser's Back button to return to Bing.

We agree.  We don't like going to a site and being trapped, unable to easily get back where we came from - including ours!  Do such people think they own your navigation?  In our case, it was unintentional, and even annoyed us; but fixing it was low priority until yesterday.

Once again, we searched for answers, found a lot of complex, bewildering stuff, and finally fired up the K.I.S. machine - that's Greg - who fixed it in one short line of code (and gobs of tests).  The site loads a bit faster too.

So, for those of you who like going backwards ...  >•)

2010/04/07 - Easier on the Eyes

In our Trade Secrets page, "Easy on the Eyes", we discuss fonts and provide samples.  We originally used code to display once-popular fonts, if you had them installed on your computer, and briefly mentioned how to tell if they weren't.  Not much help if you don't know how they look.  Time for an upgrade.

We went to major font sites looking for popularity ratings on well-formed, legible, elegant, and artistic free fonts.  We sifted through over a thousand of the best rated, downloaded and installed around 100, threw out those which were incomplete or damaged, and ended with a set of fifty nice ones.  (Sorry:  "Baby Kruffy" didn't make the list.)  Now, how to present them?

Sure they're free, but for several reasons, including various special license terms, we can't distribute them - you will have to download from one of those sites - and coding is useless if you don't have them installed.  So we turned the whole list into a giant graphic showing just the alpha-numeric parts of each set.

2010/04/04 - Scrollbar Color

If you have visual difficulty distinguishing colors of similar intensity (especially on an older monitor), and if you're using the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser, you can switch the scroll bar coloration to light or dark from the Color Themes menu at left:

hover the mouse pointer over Color Themes to expand the menu, then click Scrollbar Color.

2010/03/31 - Bing Bounces Back

WOW.  Just in time for ... no, wait:  it's still March.  Remember that button we said we might put back on the main menu?

On the day of that post, 2010/03/22, we used the URL Submission page in Bing's Webmaster Center to manually submit 51 or our non-listed pages.  Six days later - BOOM - 46 total pages, including the original 7, were not only indexed, but also had the rank of established pages.  Today the total is 51.

"Why on Earth didn't you do this a long time ago?" you ask.  Well, it's complicated.  Really.  First there is a certain etiquette to ranking based on natural ("organic") search results, rather than being pushy ("greedy").  OK, we already know what you think of that one, so here's the real reason.

We did try this last year.  On the URL Submission page was a form with 2 fields:  one to type a page URL, such as
and one to type a set of characters visually read from a warped mess on the page (to verify that you're a human being with highly distorted vision).

"And?"  The URL field did not permit copy and paste operations.  Successful entries landed on a "Thank You" page with no link back to the Submissions page.  When all the manual typing and typos and page loads and record keeping began to resemble a Darwinian process, life's little demands took precedence.  No worries.  Google and Yahoo were doing a great job; and Bing was new and would probably surpass its predecessor, Live Search (wherein we had a nice listing).

Whatever.  This time, the Submission page had evolved, though it still induces RSS (Repetitive Squinting Syndrome), Fish Eye and, in rare cases, catatonia (and silliness, another side effect).  We don't know if Bing is actually fixed, but most of our pages are listed (no SEO changes needed) and searchable; so the button is back.  Seems fair.

2010/03/27 - Cross-Browser Bliss

A few days ago, we tweaked this site for more consistent cross-browser display using JavaScript.  However, many of you disable JavaScript for safer surfing.  When we tested this, we found our content was still a jumble of displaced and/or cropped elements, depending on the browser.

(We'll pause here, while experienced coders chuckle.)

The most obstinate problem was to get each browser to uniformly stretch elastic box elements <<these>> to the bottom of the viewport, to fill 100% of remaining browser window space regardless of resizing it (known as a "liquid layout"), with internal (IFrame) scrollbars only if needed, and no viewport overflowCertainly someone else had wrestled with this, so we searched, read, coded, and tested - repeatedly - and got zip.

Much sage advice was untested, and proffered code contained limitations (usually fixed page sizes or browser-specific code), or cheats (usually scripts or bad DTDs), or failed miserably, and was atrociously complex.  Ostentatious forum gurus mocked lesser beings:  "Good coders know better! ... It just isn't done! ... Why would anyone do this?"

Why?  Because we like it this way.  Our special thanks to those elite who actually said "It's impossible!"  That bit of heresy turned disappointment into resolve.

After some long days and short nights, we cooked up a new batch of pure XHTML1 (transitional DTD) and CSS2 code with IE "Conditional Comment" magic which is very compact and quick, uses no scripting, and renders a uniform layout in each of The Browsers That Really Matter.

(What's that sound?  It's the Zen of No Chuckling.)

2010/03/22 - Guide Dog Needed

We removed Bing Search from our main navigation menu.  Unlike Google and Yahoo, which list all (about 60) of our pages and report no coding or content gaffes, Bing has found only 7 pages in a year's time - and reports no coding or content issues.  Among those 7 are 2 menu pages which contain direct links to all other pages.

SO, for those of you who loved using our Bing Search tool to find very little of our content:  we're terribly sorry (not).  If you really can't live without it, here's the button.  If Bing is ever fixed, we'll put it back.

Update:  The button is back, per the 2010/03/31 log entry, above.

2010/03/18 - Site Tweak

A systems analyst collegue once quipped, "I just love standards, because there are so many standards to choose from."  Makers of the Firefox and Opera browsers proclaim ("evangelize") that their products are in strict W3C Standards compliance (unlike other evil browsers).  So they should both display the same web page the same way, right?

Wrong!  And some gurus frown upon browser-specific coding as unprofessional.  True, if every browser conformed to somebody's standards then all that extra code would be unnecessary.  Entirely reasonable, but where's the competitive (proprietary) advantage?

While most of our code is browser-independent, we decided to fix the nonsensical displacements and discolorations produced by those fundamentalist browsers.  So today, for your viewing pleasure (if you have JavaScript enabled), this site will display nearly the same way in The Browsers That Really Matter - Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari - as intended.  >•)

2010/03/11 - Speed Upgrade

More speed upgrades:  caching objects used in JavaScript to reduce calls to the slow HTML parser, as well as fleshing out explicit location references so the client doesn't have to go fishing for them.

2010/03/06 - Speed Upgrade

Upgraded for faster graphics loading speeds.  Initially we ran several trials of a graphics laden page with current versions of four major browsers, emptying their caches each time, and found them to be comparable.  Firefox 3.6 was the fastest, followed by Internet Explorer 8, then Opera 10.10, and finally the Windows version of Safari 4.0.4.

To be fair, most of Safari's lag probably happens during DNS name resolution, before actually loading the requested page; and it does have the fastest spinner!  Google Chrome appears to be a work in progress; it can be very fast, but trial results varied too widely to be useful, even with cached data.

2010/01/17 - Availability

We will be unavailable for service calls this week. We apologize for any inconvenience.

2009/11/19 - Translation Test

OK, that's it - Google Translate is outta here!  Non-English readers agree that automated translations are ba-a-a-ad, and actually compound confusion when articles are referenced in multiple languages.

2009/11/09 - Translation Test

As an experiment, we added Google Translate to our pages.  We'll see how it goes, and hope the translations aren't too embarassing.

Update:  Thanks to the following reviewers for valuable advice:

Luis Miguel Arteaga, Sr. Software Quality Engineer at Continental Automotive Systems  (Spanish)

Dmitriy N. Gaevoy, CEO at Applied Med Therapy®  (Russian)

Randall Goya, Web Developer and Project Manager at netsperience

Lyubov Ignatovsky, Experienced Information Technology Professional  (Russian)

Kimberly McCabe, Marketing Consultant at Oshyn, Inc.  (French)

Feedback indicates the translations are rough to mediocre, and understandable with varying effort.

2009/10/09 - New Content

Added an About Us page - it's about time!

2009/09/23 - Site Upgrade

Completed several broad site enhancements, including addition of Google Analytics code and "Canonical Links" - the result of a recent collaborative effort from Google, Microsoft Bing, and Yahoo - which reduces the appearance of "duplicate content" caused by search engines' fly's-eye view of the same page accessed via differing URLs.

Yep:  they see "" and "" as "duplicate" sites, even though those addresses reference the same site!  And, of course, there is a ranking penalty for duplicate content.   ._.

2009/09/16 - New Content

A new e-mail contact form is available for visitors who don't have access to their default e-mail service.

2009/09/01 - Affiliates

Long overdue, Acronis is now an affiliate.  Back in May, we got a taste of their medicine during a flawless system drive replacement.

2009/08/27 - New Format

We upgraded our long Business Direct page into a new side bar menu.  Local small business can benefit by exchanging ads and links with us, and we'll do free ads for non-profits.

2009/08/12 - Networking

We're now in two new venues:  LinkedIn and Facebook.

2009/07/06 - Availability

Hello again.  One week became two; but we're back to our normal schedule.  Thanks for your patience.

2009/06/17 - Availability

We will be unavailable for service calls next week.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

2009/06/08 - New Content

We now offer advertising for locally owned small businesses.  See our Small Business Advertising page for details.

2009/05/20 - Site Tweak

Added "Loading ..." messages since some pages load resources from slow external sites, such as Amazon, PayPal, and our Affiliates.  Also there's a nice little self-correcting digital clock at the top of our News & Alerts page.

2009/05/06 - Site Tweak

The Opera browser accurately calculates nested Table and IFrame measurements horizontally but overflows the window bottom by about the height of its tool and status bars.  A new JavaScript workaround compensates by extending frame bottoms.  They still overflow, but everything can be read.  If the Opera window is resized smaller, hit Reload to see everything.   ._.

2009/05/02 - Site Upgrade

Site performance upgrades - there's even a little load time gizmo above the navigation menu to help monitor results.  Speaking of search engines, visitors can now quickly search this site with Google or Bing.

2009/04/21 - SEO Upgrade

Reincarnation.  Ouch.  We've nearly finished optimizing for search engines.

2009/02/10 - Online payments

Our Fees & Payment page can now initiate online payments by credit or debit card through PayPal.

2009/01/26 - Online payments

Our Fees & Payment page can now initiate online payments by credit or debit card through Amazon.

2008/10/25 - Affiliates

We now have Affiliates, but not just any dog & pony show.  We're advertising top products from reputable companies with whom we have experience, and whose products we use or have tested, or are highly recommended by reputable sources.

2008/07/12 - Site Upgrade

Visitors who arrive via external links are now served the page they requested, rather than landing in the initial presentation scheme.  >•)

2008/05/04 - New Content

Several improvements, pages completed, and new Trade Secrets pages added:  Recycle Bin, Security, Under the Hood, and a harmless example of a fraudulent "phishing" page, accessible from Security.

2008/04/07 - Site Upgrade

This site has been recoded to render reasonably well in the Gecko/Netscape WebKit engine used by the Firefox and Safari browsers, and we've heard it looks good in Mozilla too.

2008/03/26 - Site Upgrade

This site design is now stable as DHTML, using CSS v2.1, a mix of XHTML v1.0 Transitional and Strict, and JavaScript - entirely tested and W3C compliant.

It has morphed considerably from its simple HTML v4.1 beginnings in 2006, due in part to Clover Greene's insistance and confidence that we could do something we knew almost nothing about - building websites.

To top it off, she wanted to add content!  What's wrong with blank pages?  They load faster!  But for a survivor like this lady, we had to try.

With further prodding (Hey!! Is that thing loaded??) by our gracious web host at Advanced Digital Media, we overhauled the site to pass W3C validation.

Its next incarnation will be . . . later.

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