How the Net Neutrality ruling could look

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So, you use the internet. On your PC/Laptop? Maybe on your phone or tablet?

Think about the things you do on these devices… Twitter? Facebook?

You may be a Netflix subscriber… Maybe you do research.. heck maybe you do business online.

Well, the wonderful thing about the internet is you can find stuff… you can find information, you can find entertainment…. it’s always been wide open for the most part.

This “Net Neutrality” ruling, a fight over net neutrality has been raging for quite a while now, could change this.

The internet is made up of several ISPs (Internet Service Providers)… like Verizon, Bell…etc. Basically, what some of this is about is giving the ISPs some clout, to be able to dictate what goes through their networks… maybe charge you a little more for more access. Like think of dividing up the Internet like a pie…. maybe you’ll have to pay more to access a different slice that they don’t offer (anymore)…

Maybe they will limit your usage on services like Netflix or other streaming services. Here’s an article on Netflix’s recent reaction to the ruling.

Obviously, if you’re an online business, this may limit your potential clientèle and also limit your earning power without paying more. (If paying more is the answer)

So even for huge online businesses like Netflix, Google and many others, this goes directly in the face of their business model. And also flies directly in the face of why the internet has been so valuable and has grown leaps and bounds.

Imagine an ISP who would, as they could, limit usage to Netflix, and then promote their own version of the service. Essentially, if you ever had a business idea of the “open internet” model, your ideas could be halted and dead in the water.

This could and likely would stifle innovation as “access” would be in the control of businesses who had interest in what you can/can’t access.

Also, imagine an ISP filtering off sites as they wish. Bad reviews of their service? Well, maybe you can’t find them on their networks.

Seriously, the internet’s value is in it’s openness.

Data warehousing and denormalization

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Greetings. It’s been so long since I’ve even touch this blog that I write this first line with a touch of shame.

Ok… I’m over it now. ;-)

I’ve been working heavily with SQL Server 2008 and with DB2 for the last couple of years. I really love my job.

Lately we’ve been working on a data warehouse project which is structured for reporting. This presented a new concept in my lap which at first I didn’t find to hard to comprehend, we I still don’t really, but it threw a wrench into the wheel I’ve been accustomed to.

- Data denormalization -

Writing SQL code for many years, for me, has been about creating relational databases where data is divided up and joined together in queries. Denormalization brings forth the concept of doubling data for the purpose of having it readily available. (Fast)

So the thought process has been different. Writing SQL jobs that will suck in data in the format that we require to build our warehouse (CUBE – Ready). I guess what this method really seems to be is a space vs time trade off. You have much more data, doubled up… but the result is that you can query it very fast.

The cube my co-worker created was really really fast. Slicing and dicing the data at the blink of an eye.

Data is only as good as it’s usability.

Counting rows using conditional dates in Reporting Service

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I’ve been using Reporting Services a lot. As with many things I learn on a “needs” basis.

Something I’ve done quite a bit of is have to run counts on the data returned by datasets. Something that stumped me early on when I started was how to run a count against data that was returned based on dates.

It was actually nice and simple:
=SUM(IIF(Fields!DateField.Value = Today(),1,0)) 

In this example what we’re basically doing is checking if the date is equal to “today”, if it is it’s given a value of 1, if not then 0. And of course, it’s summed up. So this would give us the SUM() of dates equal to today.

A variation of this conditional counting (and something I’ve had to do) is to run a comparison like this against a date and a “non date” value.

So in this example our Fields!DateField.Value is actually stored as an integer. So we need to convert the integer to a date to have it count properly.

=SUM(IIF(new DateTime(Fields!WOODDT.Value / 10000, (Fields!WOODDT.Value / 100) mod 100, Fields!WOODDT.Value mod 100) = Today(),1,0))

So in the above example, we are creating a datetime type with our DateTime() function and then comparing it to the Today() value. If the newly created date value (which is again based off of the data returned from the dataset) is equal to today’s date it is given the value of 1, if not then 0. And this is summed up.

Useful Android App – SMS Backup +

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I used to have an iPhone3G and had down graded to a cheap pay as you go phone for some time. I just wanted a simpler cheaper phone for texting and calling.

Last summer I decided to get a new smartphone… so I ended up with an HTC Incredible S.

I haven’t completely loaded the phone with apps. I do have certain apps that I use on a regular basis… like the DropBox app, a couple of sports news apps… Hootsuite and Flickr.

One nice little app I found is SMS Backup +

Basically, you can sync this app to backup your text messages to your GMail account. It also creates a label to put this mail in to keep it organised.

This is great if you want to archive messages and also keep your phone a bit cleaner.

Get a Custom Google+ URL with gplus.to

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I was digging into trying to find custom URLs for Google Plus today and didn’t see any options to do this. I remember back when custom URLs came out in Facebook.

It’s certainly much easier and nicer to link to your social media site with a custom/easy to read URL then some long string of numbers and/or letters that you’ll never ever ever be able to remember.

So… after a quick search I found that there was a little service that seemed to cater to this (Google+ custom URLs). I decided against just using another link shortening site and use this.

So if this is something that interests you, just go over to gplus.to, enter your Google+ ID (the site shows a screen shot of what this means) and the desired nickname/url string… and voila…. if no one’s already chosen it of course!

I’ve used it, and you can find me over here:
http://gplus.to/cfyves

What is “Hosted AdSense for Content”?

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As so many people do, I have a Google Adsense account and recently I had made some changes adding some YouTube Monetization to it.

While looking in the Adsense account, which I do on occasion, I noticed a new line that I just didn’t recognize. “Hosted AdSense for Content”.

Turns out that this is actually the views from the YouTube videos. I just found it a little strange that it didn’t indicate YouTube or something similar as the source… but then again, maybe this is used for other types (or will be used) of digital media in future…. thus the “Hosted AdSense for Content” title.

Adding a sidebar to post view in Twenty Eleven WordPress Theme

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Something else I missed when looking at themes for my new blog was post template options.

Seems as though the Twenty Eleven theme won’t display the sidebar when viewing a post/article.

Thankfully, it’s not a huge modification and there is lot’s out there on how to do it.

Basically, you modify the theme’s single.php file and add the get_sidebar() function. But that in itself will not be enough, you need to adjust some CSS as well.

I had tried with just the get_sidebar() modification… but after a quick search I found an example.

Check out Zeaks “ADD SIDEBAR TO POST VIEW IN TWENTY ELEVEN THEME” for an example on how to modify the CSS to make this work.

I used it as a reference and it worked great.

How to add custom banners to Worpress TwentyEleven theme

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I’m setting up a new personal blog and settled on using WordPress’s Twenty Eleven theme that ships with current downloads.

I wanted to create custom banners to be displayed in the “Header” settings under the “Appearance” menu.

I thought they could be uploaded, this was something I simply presumed and didn’t actually check. I had seen the options to display a random header but hadn’t actually tried it… or read everything for that matter… ;-)

There aren’t any uploaders. If you do upload a custom banner it is set as the banner for all pages.

The work around was quite easy, if you can follow PHP code of course.

First, create the banners you want to have on the blog, at appropriate sizes of course (defaults are 1000 × 288 pixels for the banners on the Twenty Eleven Theme out of the box). Then, your thumbnails (230×66 pixles, less important as it’s for the admin panel)…. then go into the theme’s image folder (unless you want to change those settings, but we won’t get into that here). Theme folder should be in:
/wp-content/themes/twentyeleven/images/headers

Upload your banners and thumbnail images.

Once that is there, you must open the theme’s functions.php file (in twentyeleven’s root folder). In there, find the register_default_headers() function. You’ll want to configure your custom banners in the arrays as such:

register_default_headers( array(
'every-man-lives' => array(
'url' => '%s/images/headers/first-banner.jpg',
'thumbnail_url' => '%s/images/headers/first-banner-thumbnail.jpg',
/* translators: header image description */
'description' => __( 'Banner 1', 'twentyeleven' )
),
'love-dies' => array(
'url' => '%s/images/headers/second-banner.jpg',
'thumbnail_url' => '%s/images/headers/second-banner-thumbnail.jpg',
/* translators: header image description */
'description' => __( 'Banner 2', 'twentyeleven' )
)
) );

Once you’ve registered the new banners, refresh the admin panel Header or Custom Header page and check out the public site.

Was nice and simple.

Dying Brands – Blackberry?

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Blackberry’s sales and popularity has been in decline for sometime. Well, in markets here in North America and Europe… but in some other countries they are still strong.

But, one has to wonder in this age of mobile apps and fast moving technological advance. Once the ball has started rolling backwards, just how far can it roll before you can make a comeback?

It’s a shame, they seemed to have a dominance just a short time ago and decent products. But, as the months rolled on other mobile providers haven’t only caught up but far surpassed RIM‘s Blackberry in terms of apps, marketing….etc.

Seems as though they will be taking another hit as Google has announced that they will no longer be supporting the Gmail Blackberry app.

How much sliding downhill can a large IT/Mobile Tech business take before mounting a comeback?

Blog comment spam – Internet annoyance

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Something that I’ve noticed over these last 5 or 6 years since I started blogging as a hobby is that the rise of “spam bots” submitting comments to blogs is just a continual annoyance. Not that many have ever made it through filtering and/or manual checking.

But it’s almost as constant as the air itself.

In a short time I amassed some 177 spam comments on 1 blog and 78 on another. I tend to have my filters set so that I review them just in case something legit gets caught in the cross fire. Thankfully you can usually tell by looking through the list rather quickly which are “crap” and which are real. Usually, of course, the spam filters rarely make a mistake and most that are held in question are rightfully labelled as “crap”.

But I wonder sometimes if any of the creators of these spam bots have ever profited from this continual gibberish. I mean, I know most of them, nowadays, include hyperlinks so as to attempt and increase their SEO value. But search engines have been continually getting updated through the years to become more intelligent so as not to rank gibberish sites in real search results.

I remember a time, when searching for a technical problem, I had come across many search results that led me to crap-spam-gibberish sites instead of the valuable information I was looking for.

But it’s been quite a while since that has happened. Bravo to Google for their continual improvement on search results to block out that garbage.

That’s my rant for this morning.

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