Happy new year 2011

I wish my sincere greetings for a start of a new year 2011 to all my family, friends, and especially you faithful readers of this blog.

I will draft some thoughts and resolutions in another post as I am in a hurry to prepare myself for the celebrities.

My Last "RAW" ride for 2010

Last night I enjoyed riding with my club, Raw Bikers, and I have probably enjoyed it even more due to the fact that it was the last club ride of the year. The weather was clear but quite chilly, with temperatures even reaching 9°c.

We took advantage of the clear streets which was quite strange that there was no particular traffic in the road at this time of the year. We headed towards Coast Road and Mellieha while stopping at interims for a snack.

For the first time I had managed to hit the 180kmph mark on my Honda CBF500 on a particular stretch of the road - eventually I rejoiced my trust and love again with this bike.

Unfortunately as I was reading the newspapers this morning, I found out that a fellow motorcyclist was injured in Coast Road at about 6am this morning. Wishing him a speedy recovery.

Understanding reddit categories and subreddits

Reddit is a social news website and is used to share news or any other interesting Internet content - reddit users can post a link and then categorize it into a subreddit. This confuses most new users as a subreddit is not a normal tag but a specific category within reddit. Here I will explain where you can find a list of the most popular subreddits and how they can be used.

When a user tries to submit a link on reddit, he will be asked to enter a category (called a subreddit) relevant to the link content:

The default category is reddit.com. You can get a list of the most popular subreddits from here. You can also organise your favorite subreddits by clicking on the Edit Subscriptions in the My Reddits menu as follows:

You can add and delete entries by clicking on the left hand side +/- frontpage links. For example if you want to select only IT related subreddits:
My favorite subreddits are the following:

  • osx
  • linux
  • database
  • security
  • seo

Make sure you share this article on reddit in the internet subreddit!

Two-way syncing a shared Google calendar on iPhone

Many people are able to easily sync their personal Google calendar on iPhone but most of them have trouble doing the same job for a shared Google calendar. This article will describe how to sync personal and shared Google calendars using Apple's free nifty application called iPhone Configuration Utility (ICU).

According to our experience, ICU is not just a canned application which automates a batched tedious task, but the only method we know of, which guarantees a smooth configuration of both types of Google calendars (personal and shared) on iPhone. Without going into much detail one must appreciate that there is a difference between configuring a shared Calendar and a persona Calendar, and often most people have trouble deploying either one or the other on iPhone.

First of all, connect iPhone to your computer. Then get ICU from Apple's website - there is a version for OSX and another one for Windows. Once installed on your computer, start up the application and create a new configuration profile:
Next you need to enter the configuration details for each of the Google Calendars, similar to the following:
For those wondering, the Cal_ID is the Calendar ID which you can obtain from the Google calendar settings. This looks like an email address.

Finally you should see an Install button in the top right corner of the ICU application:
Click on install and allow some time for this configuration profile to be installed on iPhone.

Now connect iPhone to a nearby wireless network and allow some time for the new Google calendar to appear in your calendars list! Now you can access the calendar and make two-way syncs (you can create appointments from Google or directly from iPhone, and in both ways, synched accordingly to the other mirrored calendar).

Wonderful Christmas 2010

My Christmas festivities were spent mostly with my family. Yesterday's Christian teachings were coincidentally related to the values of the Family and it is a sheer pleasure to be surrounded by people who really love you. Although I have not slept for 24 hours due to the previous night work shift, I still managed to have that occasional glass of wine and have fun conversations while eating turkey.

Later that evening I noticed that I managed to gain an extra two kilos and tried to burn them while being involved in a traditional family tug-of-war and an arm-wrestling competition.

If you have some interesting story to share about this Christmas, why don't you post it here?

First Christmas eve at work

This is the first Christmas eve I'm spending at work. By Christmas eve I mean 24/12 19:00 - 25/12 07:00. Luckily my office is situated in a rural area so I am not jarred by celebrations and drunkards. As atrocious as it may sound, I still managed to participate in a family celebration before heading to work...And will intend to resume the festivities by skipping my sleep after work and hear the 8:00 Mass followed by a good lunch.

Off to make some coffee..

Digging a delicious reddit twit!

Lately I have immersed myself in the wonderful world of social bookmarking, namely, Digg, Del.ico.us, Reddit, and Twitter. It's a whole new Internet and experience and I am using it not only to bookmark and share r00tb0x.com articles but also to discover what is hype in the Internet community.

I know these have existed already for a while, but only got to appreciate them now, by myself...

Exceeded Internet threshold

Oh well, looks like I have to give up my home Internet connection for the rest of the month as I've exceeded the maximum download threshold. So will either burrow Internet from my neighbors or social engineer my provider to allow me some graceful connection... *grin*

After all, it's Christmas time!

Wohoo, Top 10 ranking in Google!

One of my r00tb0x.com articles, called Syntax Highlighting + CKEditor in Drupal, ranks 8 in Google! Considering that the article is only one month old, my SEO is working quite well...

What does it mean in layman terms? Well, that among 31,000 results which geeks search for in Google, my geek-counterpart website ranks 8th in Google!

Christmas Pantomime

This evening I'm off to enjoy the Christmas Panto themed around Scrooge at the MFCC. The panto is produced by MADC with Alan Montanaro as the Dame. This will be the perfect evening to spend in Christmas time with my fiancee` and her family after a very busy week at work!

Flights to Malta still delayed

Looks like the bad weather is still affecting local and international airlines, although London seems to be recuperating a bit:

In Malta the situation looks quite stagnated and can be confirmed by today's news reports:


Hide or show Education and Work info on Facebook

Facebook's privacy settings are pretty granular. The only problem is that these settings are not really evident, and their default values are pretty much 'unsecure'. This article will show how to hide (or display) your education and work information on your Facebook profile.

Perhaps the privacy setting for the Education and Work information is the trickiest one. The reason is that its setting is not in the same menu of the other privacy settings (ex. Photos, Relationship Status, Birthday, etc..). To access these privacy settings you must go to Account -> Privacy Settings in the upper right corner of your profile:

Next step is to select the Connecting on Facebook settings:

Here you will be presented the option to show or hide your Work and Education information. From this menu you can also change privacy settings of your friend list display among other things:

SEO: Are your keywords competitive?

If you want your website to rank high in search engines, you need to know how your keywords rank. If your website is about flowers, your keywords (i.e. phrases in your title tags and content), might be 'roses', 'daffodils', 'bouquet', etc...If there are plenty of other websites which use those keywords, then you are in competition! This article will explain how to determine whether your keywords are competitive or not.

In Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), we normally aim for non-competitive keywords, i.e. keywords which are not used by many websites. In this way we will have a better placement in search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

Let's take an example of this article's keywords and their current ranking in Google. This article is called "SEO: Are your keywords competitive" - the keywords being mainly: 'SEO', 'keywords', and 'competitive'. To determine their competitiveness, you only need to enter these keywords in Google and take note of the total results. For example, at the writing of this article, jamesattard.com will be competing against 2,860,000 other pages:
You will realize that popular topics are difficult to compete against in Search Engines and you must carefully choose your keywords by using the methodology we have just described.

Looks like an ideal day for a picnic

After a couple of heavy raining and cold days here in Malta, this afternoon I will take the opportunity to organize a little picnic with my fiancee`. We will probably head to somewhere in the north with the motorcycle and settle a little tent while enjoying the clear weather. I enjoy these days as they normally clear up my mind and brings me closer to my other half while at the same time finding the perfect excuse to eat good food and drink tasty wine!

Importing a vehicle in Malta

Importing an automobile or a motorcycle in Malta is pretty straightforward albeit expensive! Around thirty minutes ago I was looking around online for a Honda Transalp 650cc (2005 model) and managed to find one just under EUR2000. Fair deal!

But then the shock came when I estimated the registration taxes (excluding admin fees of course!) - another EUR1070.

For those who are wondering, you can calculate the registration tax from http://www.valuation.vehicleregistration.gov.mt/ .

Awesome debut UNDER3KINGDOMS

Yesterday's gig was awesome. The crowd was not just 'warm'. It went mad (no pun intended MCH guys!) by the middle of the set list. And our girls were supporting us all the way. An hour and a half of music orgasm (at least we had all those faces while playing).

Will upload some photos as soon as we get them...

Barefooted in the office

Another wet morning for a bike ride to work. Had to take off the boots and let them dry in the terrace while sitting barefooted sipping coffee and monitoring servers. The joy of not working in a corporate environment!

Who likes wet rides?

Definitely myself. When I put on the jacket, strap on the gloves, and secure the helmet, riding the motorcycle in the rain is something which only a few people have the luck to experience. Rain drops hitting your face at high speeds, the rear wheel starts wobbling on each thrust of the throttle and a feeling that you are just by yourself hitting the roads, are just a few things I experience every time I decide to go for a night bike run when it rains in the streets of Malta.

Tomorrow debut of UNDER3KINGDOMS

Emerging Maltese rock band UNDER3KINGDOMS will play live for the first time at Rookies tomorrow @ 22:00...I play the bass with the band and I can tell you it's really fun playing with these guys - they are all seasoned musicians and friends of mine. So if you want to taste our music make sure to be there!

Singer - Suzanne
Bass - Myself
Guitar - Fofi
Drums - Chris

Facebook latest upgrade

I must thank Mark Zuckerberg and the entire Facebook development team for upgrading its look and feel. Now ex-bloggers like me can take their course back to their glorious blogging days.

That was sarcasm of course. With Facebook becoming more like a MySpace profile, it gave us a valid reason to go back and do some proper blogging on a real blogging framework.

That said, like many bloggers around, I still use facebook to leave comments and advertise any content of interest (known as retweeting in Twitter jargon). In fact I am going to retweet this post and others from r00tb0x.com. More on r00tb0x.com later...

Back to blogging here!

For the past couple of years I have had this on-again-off-again relationship with this blog. Lots of things have changed, not only in my life, but also in this blog (if you take a look at it you'll notice that I have cleaned it up a bit and revamped its design).

So fire up your RSS readers and subscribe again as I will be posting here in no time! ;)

Setup a custom domain or subdomain for Blogger

Blogger is one of the most popular blogging engines available for free by Google. We at r00tb0x.com are actually fans of blogger and do own a couple of blogs which are hosted there! This article will explain how to setup your own domain to host a blog on Blogger.

Whether you want www.yourdomain.com or subdomain.yourdomain.com pointing to a Blogger blog, the process is perfectly identical. First things first - add the following DNS records:

A          www
A          www
A          www
CNAME      www  ghs.google.com

Of course you can replace 'www' with any subdomain of your choice.

Once the DNS is setup and pointing to Blogger, next step is to tell Blogger about your custom domain name. From the dashboard go to the Settings menu and choose 'Publishing':
Finally enter your custom domain in the advanced settings section:

Good! now www.yourdomain.com will point to your Blogger account and vice-versa!

Using Gimp to make a rounded corner image

One of the most popular and frequently used techniques in image editing, is the use of rounded corners. Rounded corner banners or menus look more sleek than squarish ones. Here we describe a step by step easy way to achieve this in Gimp.

Following this guide will help you achieve a rounded corner image like this one:

So start by loading the image in gimp and add an alpha layer as shown below:

This will add a transparency layer to the image. Next we need to make a rounded rectangular selection of the image. This is similar to the conventional rectangular selection, only that with this one, it is rounded!

You will be prompted to enter the radius. This controls how big is the rounded edge...For this example you can set the radius to 11.

Now we are going to invert the selection, so we are going to actually select the edges:

Final step is to chop this selection (i.e. the edges) by choosing 'Edit..Cut' or by just pressing the Delete key on your keyboard:

Good! You ended up with a nice rounded corner image. Remember that you can adapt this technique to other image editing software programs such as CSS.

Import Outlook or iCal Calendars in Google

It is possible to transfer events from Outlook or iCal calendars to Google. While this article will not explain the various advantages of placing your calendars inside Google, we will show you how to perform the import operation. Moreover, you might be tempted to centralise all your Microsoft Outlook calendars (such as work, friends and family) and import them in Google.

The very first step is to save your Outlook Calendar in iCalendar format by right clicking on the calendar and choosing 'Save as...'.
Next you will need to go inside Google Calendar and click 'Add..' -> 'Import Calendar' as shown below:

This will allow you to import your previously saved Outlook Calendar inside Google. Therefore next step is to select the Outlook Calendar to import and also the Google Calendar into which you want to import it:
Click 'Import' and voila`! You got your calendar details imported to your Google Calendar. Remember that you can import into a different calendar by first creating a new blank calendar before doing the previous step.