Archive for July 29th, 2010

Cheap and easy to build websites for those who don’t know html

| July 29, 2010 | Reply
Cheap and easy to build websites for those who don’t know html

I’ve started to play the guitar and sing around town. It’s loads of fun. Friends and acquaintances are were starting to ask me how to tell where and when I would next be performing. The obvious solution was that I needed a website, but I barely know any html, yet I wanted to create a pleasant looking site. And I didn’t want to pay much. Google’s free website design software looked too rudimentary, and it didn’t allow me to use my own domain. I read some complaints about Go Daddy’s website building service, and thus shied away, though it might be fine for a static site like the one I wanted. [Note: I do much of the website admin work at DI, which uses a Wordpress platform, which is terrific, but doesn't really fit my needs for my personal site].

There are various other companies out there offering free or cheap websites. I looked at some of these, but not many, so don’t take this as any sort of deeply knowledgeable survey. I ended up choosing Intuit’s Homestead program, and I’m happy with it. Homestead offers various packages, but I only needed the basic level. I will be paying less than $150 for two years, which gets me a access to Homestead’s easy-to-use website-building program, up to five pages, 25 MB of storage and 5 GB/month of bandwidth. This price (which ends up being about $6/month) also provides me with a domain (I picked erichvieth.net — I already owned erichvieth.com ) and the option of a blog. They have other packages too. As you might expect, they will urge you to buy their more expensive packages, which have more bells and whistles. Homestead’s base price includes unlimited live and knowledgeable phone assistance. For instance, they walked me through the process of linking the domain I already owned with my new website. I took advantage of Homestead’s live help several times while building my site; pleasant people tutored me on how to do some of a few other things that were not quite obvious (until I did them once). You can train up on this software in an hour. The design-making software is so well considered that it is hard to get things wrong while making your new site. Once you put together one site, you’ll be tempted to help family and friends slap together their new sites.

Within a few hours, I had put together my own personal website, which gets the job done quite well (though I’m still tweaking it). I used two of the pages to provide information about my music. Since I had the right to create five pages, I used the other three to provide information about my photography, writing (I’m an avid blogger . . . ) and a general bio.

I’m posting on the way I built my new site in case anyone reading this is in the same position as I was, looking for a good combination of low cost website, relatively low-volume bandwidth, and easy to design. If anyone else is happy with any comparable service, feel free to mention it in the comments. Remember the parameters: low cost and design-it-yourself website building for people who don’t know any html.

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A centenarian explains why we can’t spell

| July 29, 2010 | 1 Reply
A centenarian explains why we can’t spell

In this two-minute video, a man who is purportedly 102 years old uses a simple flip chart to demonstrate why Americans have such trouble spelling.

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Forbidden love and the Westermarck effect, illustrated

| July 29, 2010 | Reply
Forbidden love and the Westermarck effect, illustrated

The linked video is an example of a father (John) having a romantic relationship with his own daughter (Jenny) and having children with her. The documentary also introduces viewers to a romantically involved half-brother and half-sister.

But doesn’t nature rig close relatives so that they are sexually repulsed from each other? Yes, but only if they live in close proximity during a critical early developmental window. This potential desensitization to sexual attraction is referred to as the Westermarck Effect. In the case of John and Jenny, the daughter had essentially no contact with her father for the first three decades of her life. Same situation with the half-siblings. Without the Westermarck effect to pull back on the reins, “genetic sexual attraction” kicks in to supercharge the romance.

Notice how the moralistic and legalistic discussion in this documentary runs orthogonally to the biological research. Not once is the Westermarck Effect discussed, even though it sheds substantial light on these situations. It often occurs to me that we’d be better off analyzing social situations in terms of evolution and ecology in addition to legality and morality, but that would deprive us of so many opportunities to engage in angry finger-pointing and judgmental barking.

To consider the science would admittedly require some effort, something that many of today’s self-assured people are unwilling to do. If people did take the time to think things through more rigorously, however, they would likely see that this “father” and this “daughter” are dramatically unlike prototypical fathers and daughters in dramatic ways that correlate to solid biological and psychological research. If they took the time to understand this situation using (easily available) science rather than simply folk-morality, even the harshest critics of these couples might have the following thought: If I had been in that situation, these same sorts of powerful attractions might have overwhelmed me too. A perspective infused with even a bit of science would have set a different tone for this entire documentary. A bit of scientifically-informed self-critical thinking might even open the door for a more empathetic perspective.

It’s a new multidisciplinary world out there with regard to “morality,” as psychologist Jonathan Haidt eloquently explains at Edge.

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Do you think that sunscreen really protects you from skin cancer?

| July 29, 2010 | 5 Replies
Do you think that sunscreen really protects you from skin cancer?

If you think that sunscreens really protect you from cancer, think again. Read this detailed information from the Environmental Working Group and you’ll be astounded. How can so much false and unsupported information can be freely plastered on bottles of sunscreen? Why isn’t the federal government clamping down on sunscreens? Who do our img_3219representatives represent? Apparently, their greatest loyalty is to companies that make money by misrepresenting their products. Can you believe that sunscreens are not regulated to make sure that they do what they claim to do?

The best approaches to protecting your family: Wear clothes and stay in the shade. Any product that claims protection greater than SPF 50 is misleading. Note that most people put on only a 1/4 to 2/3rds enough sunscreen to actually reach the product’s SPF rating. Check out the oftentimes toxic ingredients at EWG.

Check out EWG’s Hall of Shame.

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Soldiers or schools

| July 29, 2010 | 2 Replies
Soldiers or schools

Nicholas Kristoff writes:

For the cost of just one soldier in Afghanistan for one year, we could start about 20 schools there.

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