Sunday, February 04, 2007


More Blog Widgets

If you haven't seen it yet, go to Gottagopractice's blog and check out her new Google Reader sharing box in her sidebar. Cool feature! I don't yet have it working right, here, in my blog...

Here's how it works if you use Google Reader: [EDIT: see the description by Gottagopractice in the comments at the end of this post for setting up your Reader widget so it works automatically.] first click the "Share" icon at the end of the desired posts in Reader's main window. Then, after a series of somewhat confusing links on Reader's Settings page, you'll find your way to an option that allows you to put a box in your blog's sidebar that shows the title and author of these shared posts which links into these shared Google Reader files (you only have to do this once). This is a pretty cool feature.

Onto my other new widget: I stumbled across this one via a NextBlog "random" link.

Not that long ago, it became obvious to me that my ISP identity is carried along wherever I browse, and that my presence on any site can be tracked as far back as my DSL node (i.e., my neighborhood). That explained why sometimes I'd get adverts embedded into my Yahoo page telling me that hot girls in Soldotna want to date me, or more recently, that a certain realtor in Anchorage wants to sell my land for me.

Anyway, this new widget is a map of the world with little pins indicating the location of each visitor to my blog. It's called World Visitor Map. My map is on the bottom of my blog screen (it's too wide to fit into my sidebar and I didn't want to put it at the top). Scroll down and take a look. Since the map embedded in my blog only updates once a day, it isn't really current, but clicking the link takes you to a current (and enlarged) map with all the recent pins of visitors to this blog. Visitors from North and South America, Europe, Asia, so far. This links with Google's map feature, so I can zoom into the actual street-corner of the DSL or cable node. For example, one viewer tracks back to a node in Manhattan on 5th Ave, between W34th and W35th (Hi!); another one tracks back to the Bronx Zoo (Hi!); a third tracks to what looks like a school (in Google satellite viewer) in New Braunfels, Texas (Hi!); and one more (I know this is getting tedious) is located at S. Hoover at S. Alvarado in L.A. (Hi!) This thing is quite new and still a little buggy, but what a cool feature! Who knew?

Now, about the cello:
At my last lesson, my teacher told me to imagine my bow hand using a paint brush, allowing the wrist to flex "down" on the downbow stroke and "up" with the upbow stroke. She told me to practice this on long full bowings on open strings. But I shouldn't obsess about it at the cost of anything else, just work on it for a dedicated period of time each day. Wow, what a noticeable improvement in my sound! It's still not coming naturally - only when I focus on it, but as Erin pointed out some time ago, the trick is to practice it enough that you no longer have to consciously think about doing it. Even the squeaky-slips on my open G seem to be diminished. Whatever the cause, I've been really pleased with the quality of the sounds from my cello, lately.

I'm making steady progress on the "Gavotte"; working on the practice points section by section, and I'm just about ready to put it all together. The piece is marked Allegreto and is in cut time. The Suzuki CD cut for this one flies by so fast that it's almost impossible for me to clearly hear the individual notes (yet). I've ripped the track to my Windows Media Player and started playing it at half-speed but it's still fast as heck!

I've been focusing, also, on the new pieces for orchestra. Most are pretty basic, the biggest challenge is counting rests, and not playing too fast :( I'm still struggling with "Ashokan Farewell", working on just playing it pizzicato, for now, with a little progress.

Y made a scrubby from nylon netting we picked up from JoAnn's. It took about 15 minutes to crochet the netting into a hollow ball about 3 inches in diameter. I used it to clean the accumulated rosin from my strings. It really works great! Just a few strokes do it. This came from Andrew Victor, posted on Cello Chat.

I'm not sure I'd believe what that map thingy says yet. As I understand what it presents to me, it should be locating you and me (the visitor). But I see Alaska marked with the visitor tab and West Africa marked with the owner. I know that I am in neither of those places. Is the big map when I click through also supposed to show me all the visitors? I get a nice map but no marks. Love widgits!
Yeah it's pretty buggy. I guess there are almost a million such maps already and I suspect their system is overwhelmed. My big map has 60 markers, but my mini-map (at the bottom of this page) only shows one - here in Alaska. Hmmm

I did see that West Africa pin this morning; does this mean I'll be getting another one of those "you have just inherited..." emails?

At least it's not just me.

BTW, I just re-read how you are sharing your GR posts. I have mine set up to share an entire "folder, category, or tag", so that whenever anyone who's blog I have tagged with that category posts it is automatically shared. If you don't want your level of fine control, plus the necessity of pre-reading before updating, this is how you do that:
1) Click manage subscriptions
2) assign a tag to all the blogs you want to share
3) Click Tags tab
4) Change the desired tag to Public
5) Design your widget using "add a clip to your site"
Also, make sure your first name is Guanaco in your google/gmail profile. As best I can tell, there is no way to keep this variety of the widget from using that first name on the more... pages.
BTW, the way you describe your paint brush sounds a lot like the bowing change I have been trying to incorporate for the past year. My teacher simply calls them "up-bow change motion" and "down-bow change motion". I hadn't made the connection with that term before.
Thanks, I think I got the Reader widget set to automatic, now. I ran into the name issue back when I moved to Beta. I had to rebuild my whole "identity" with Google to get that fixed.

I still can't make it fit in my sidebar - when I try to insert it there (I don't use BlogBeta's Layout), it spreads the box all the way across the page. I spent way too much time trying to sort it out and gave up. I'll leave it on top for now.
Don't be afraid ~g~. New Blogger (ahem) makes it so much easier to do the maintenance, it will more than make up for the two hours it takes you to do the conversion. Work from a back-up copy and most of it will be simple cut and paste to the new widgets. There's even a separate widget for managing lists of links like your cello blogs.

It may also clean up a few things about your blog you don't realize are problems. For instance, in my browser there is a huge break in your sidebar entries after Other Blogging Musicians. Everything else is below all of the displayed posts, so I never see them at all. And it makes it much easier to move things around on the page. The sidebar is a bunch of moveable, stacked widgets instead of one monolothic piece of code.

YMMV, but my switch went smoothly and I really like the new features.
It's funny how different browsers handle things. I'm a Firefox user and I never even thought to view my own blog on IE7. (I think I found the problem.... IE apparently treats brackets differently)

Considering I spent two hours this morning getting nowhere with that widget, I could have done the changeover, instead. I guess I will play around with it.
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