Jeff at could use a little help

He’s trying to make it until his first unemployment check comes in.


Tam has basal cell carcinoma. Consider visiting her site and hitting the PayPal link during the giving season. I didn’t mention it until now because I had to wait until payday to kick in and it seemed sort of dubious to ask other people to chip in until I had done it myself.

Lots of Tam’s friends have put together raffles to encourage contributions. JayG has a roundup.

Make Perfect Facebook Cover Pictures with Google’s Free Picasa

Blount County Courthouse

Facebook has moved everyone to the Timeline layout, so everyone needs a cover picture.

The cover picture format is 851 x 315 pixels. Your pictures can be bigger than that – Facebook will resize them to fit. The main thing is to make sure they’re in the 851:315  aspect ratio before you upload them so you can control how they look. Here’s how to do that in Google’s free Picasa photo editor.

Cantilever Barn in Cades Cove

1. Bring up the picture in Picasa.*
2. Click the Crop button.
3. From the dropdown menu choose Add Custom Aspect Ratio.
4. Here’s the real trick. For Dimensions, enter 2.7 x 1. (851 pixels divided by 315 pixels is 2.7 and change.) For the Name use Facebook Cover Picture. Click OK.

Creating a custom Picasa crop ratio for Facebook

With that aspect ratio saved, it’s easy to make Facebook cover pictures any time by choosing Facebook Cover Picture from the dropdown menu.

5. Drag your cursor to crop the photo the way you want it to look.

  • Picasa will constrain the crop rectangle to a 2.7:1 ratio that will fit exactly in the cover picture area without losing any part of the picture.
  • You can drag the corners and sides of the selection area to make it larger or smaller.
  • You can grab the middle of the selection area to move the rectangle.

6. When the crop looks the way you want it, click the Apply button.

7. Optional: Click the I’m Feeling Lucky button to see if you like the improvements Picasa makes to your image. You probably will, but if you don’t you can always click the Undo I’m Feeling Lucky button.

8. Export the picture. Go to the File menu and choose Export Picture to Folder. You want it to be at least 851 pixels wide, but wider is better – someone may want to see an enlarged version. The surefire settings are Use Original Size and Automatic image quality. Make a note of the Export location so you’ll know where to find the file, or click Browse and send it to the Desktop.

Export to Folder

9. Upload it. On your Facebook wall hover over your cover picture, click the Change Cover button and choose Upload Photo.

* If the photo isn’t in Picasa, go to the File menu and choose Add File to Picasa. If you want to choose from a bunch of photos, put them all in a folder. Then go to File and choose Add Folder to Picasa.

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J&K Superstore

Mozilla PopcornMaker 1.0 Movie Editor

PopcornMaker is a cool Internet-enabled, online movie tool with timeline-based editing.

Pop in media from YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, or an HTML5 video source. Or start from scratch. Then add text, images, popups, Twitter feeds, Wikipedia articles, or GoogleMaps. Then either link to the Popcorn file or embed it exactly the same way you would a YouTube or Vimeo video.

If that sounds confusing, check out the interactive tutorial and all will be clear.

Facebook Changes Algorithms to Encourage Sponsored Posts; Many Pages See Massive Drop in Reach

From Niel Van Niekirk:

Currently I have more than 9,000 fans, and previous to all this, every time I post a new selection of photos, it would usually show after a few days that I had reached an audience of around 4,000 to 7,500 people. That sounds good. A majority of people who liked my page, saw the new posts in their news feed.

Then this week I noticed that a few hours after I had posted a new photo album on FB, it still had only reached an audience of 6 people. Yes, 6 people!  A massive drop.

Facebook wants people with company pages to pay to promote their posts. If you don’t pay most of your followers won’t see your posts.

Page followers aren’t happy, because they aren’t seeing posts from those pages unless the page owners are paying for promotion.

Page owners aren’t happy that Facebook has changed the rules and is cutting them off from their followers. Some people who have tried paying for promotion are reporting that many of the likes on promoted posts are coming not from the U.S. but from the other side of the world, suggesting a problem with Facebook’s algorithms.

Funny how going public and having a stock price in the gutter can turn a company into a bunch of jerks ruthless beancounters. (Scratch that. Facebook has always been pretty jerky to their users. They’re the 800 pound gorilla and they know it.)

Still Alive

A couple of people emailed me to make sure I was OK since I haven’t been posting lately.

Work has been keeping me extra busy and I took some time off last week for the kids’ fall break. I’m also working on a little side project.

More later.

Use Google XML Sitemaps for WordPress? Check your sitemap.xml.gz for corruption.

Recent versions of the Google XML Sitemaps plugin for WordPress create bad versions of the gzipped sitemap.xml file. Here’s how to check if yours does and fix the problem.

First, find out which sitemap your site is telling search engines to use by checking your robots.txt file. It should be at the document root. For my site it’s at


If it’s the .gz version, load that URL in your browser. Here’s a screenshot of what happened when I tried to load sitemap.xml.gz in Firefox:

Internet Explorer gave a similar error: “An invalid character was found in text content. Error processing resource ‘’. Line 1…”

That was happening on my personal blog and work blog, both running Google XML Sitemaps. According to Google WebMaster Tools Google was still reading the sitemap and indexing the site, but to me that’s still bad juju and not what I want to see.

I went into Google XML Sitemap setting and unchecked the .gz option:

Robots.txt now shows the .xml version only. I manually deleted the .gz version.

For reasons too mysterious to explain, unseen forces beyond my control compel me not to blog

But mostly it’s being busy and having a cold.


The first recorded use of OMG

is from 1917. And the person using it doesn’t look at all like a tweener girl.



The New Blogger Interface is Causing Farmer Frank to Quit Blogging

Signing Off:

The alternatives in my view are worse because in just about all the acceptable (to me in terms of usage rules) cases I will have to spend money to do this nonsense which means by Dad’s reasoning my ‘work’ would have less than ‘zero’ value. It would have a negative value solely for ‘vanity’ purposes. That’s pretty lame and it’s not going to happen.

So, after approximately 480,000 visits and 626,000 page views over just 4 years of duration, this blog experiment has come to an end.

Frank, I’ve enjoyed your blogging about modern farm life. It was all news to me and I wouldn’t have gotten that glimpse without your blogging.

Facebook Cover Photo Tips

Effective March 30, all company pages on Facebook use the new Timeline layout. As part of that layout you’ll need a cover photo. Facebook specifies a 851 x 315 pixel picture in sRGB colorspace for best appearance. Copyblogger has some useful design tips.


Court rules that quoting newspaper articles online constitutes fair use

Boing BoingFed court: quoting newspaper articles online is fair use – Boing Boing.

Judge Roger Hunt’s judgment confirms that an online forum is not liable for its users’ posts, even if it was not protected by the safe harbors of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s notice and takedown provisions. The decision also clarifies that a common practice on the Internet – excerpting a few sentences and linking to interesting articles elsewhere – is a fair use, not an infringement of copyright.

So that thing I just did right there? Totally legal. Good thing, too, or I would have violated copyright a brazillion times over the last nine years.

Update those Web server clocks for Daylight Savings Time

In WordPress it’s under Settings -> General.

For UNIX on a bash shell and a date of March 12 and a time of 8:35 AM you’ll need to be root and run the command:

date -s “3/12/2012 08:35:00”

New versions of WordPress are pretty smart about strikethroughs

In this post I used megabytes when I should have used gigabytes. Sean noticed the error and mentioned it in comments.

Different bloggers handle that in different ways. Some people would just change it. Since it came up in comments I decided to leave the MB, but strike it out, like this: MB, and type in GB. That way the original mistake is there alongside the correct information. Anyone reading the comments can follow what happened without getting bumfuzzled.

When I struck out the MB in the WordPress blogging software I noticed something. The latest WordPress puts a note in the del tag showing the date and time of the strikethrough.

SanDisk 32 <del datetime=”2012-01-31T19:05:24+00:00″>MB</del> GB SanDisk thumbdrive

Pretty cool.

P.S. Playing around with it, though, I noticed that in WordPress 3.3.1 that only works in HTML view, not Visual view. Buggy.