My Recommended WordPress Themes and Plugins

After having used WordPress for a number of years, I’ve really started to get into more plugins that help me present and share my content the way I want. I’ve also gone through some themes and picked one I like, including versions for desktop and mobile. Here’s my recommendations for WordPress themes and plugins…

Themes

Twenty Eleven

twentyeleven2Twenty Eleven is still my WordPress theme of choice. It’s feature-full, clean, elegant, and problem free from my experience.

Please note it’s not actively updated so you may need to Google around for fixes. For example, I wrote a post on how to fix the featured image that is buggy in the default Twenty Eleven theme.

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How to find Church Guitar Chords Online

Update 2016-07-02: Check out webrix.co.uk. I just came across them doing a search for Praise To The Lord Almighty. They have a clean look and easy method to change keys. They only have a few songs but it looks like a good start.

Update 2016-04-01: Ultimate-Guitar.com print versions no longer save properly from a browser when you’ve transposed at all. Chordie.com also has problems printing since their last site redesign. These were my two go-to places for chords :( I find I’m falling back to TraditionalMusic.co.uk, GuitarHymnBook.com, guitarvideochords.com, and gospelguitartabs.com for hymn chords these days. It’s really whatever is turning up in my google searches besides Ultimate-Guitar.com and Chordie.com. On the bright side, I’m more frequently finding my own stash of chords while searching! :)

Update 2016-03-17: Added section about viewing music on a Hipstreet Phoenix tablet rather than print outs.

Update 2015-08-15: I’m now storing my chords for things like Sunday services, VBS, etc., over here: http://www.selah.ca/chords/. There’s a search, too, although Google seems a little slow on indexing that part of the site.

Update 2015-05-23: Added How to Print section

Update 2015-04-11: Added some tip sections about preferred chord layout and alternate version cautions.

How to find Church Guitar Chords Online

For the past half year I’ve been part of a small church where most of our music comes from the hymnal. They’re very, very nice people, though, and are happy to have myself and another man playing guitar in the front pews. We really enjoy it but it takes some effort to work with the piano players and their music so that we can find guitar chords to play from. This took me down the path of finding guitar chords for hymns and worship songs online. Here’s my tips for finding them…

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Nitty Gritty: From Mayhem to Ministry. A Testimony.

I play guitar with my church and, each week, I need to go online to find song chords. While searching this week, I came across this website, Musings of  a Minister’s Wife, after some Google results turned up guitar chords for her ebook of chord sheets. My curiosity was piqued by the domain name “musingsofaministerswife.com.” I thought to myself, ‘what would a minister’s wife blog about?’. Somehow I got over to the About page and that’s where things got really interesting when it started with this: In 2003, my husband and I quit relying on each other to keep our marriage together and started relying on God.  Wow!  What a change!  We are now bearing bigger fruit in a ministry of our own. I kept reading and was very pleasantly surprised by a couple who went through some amazing ordeals and came out on the other side loving God more. Here’s a taste of their story,

I first met Jimmy at work. He was a few months away from being married. I was in my third year of (a bad) marriage. I didn’t like Jimmy. He was cocky, so very sure of himself, so “I’m better than everyone else” of himself. Instant turnoff. Besides, I was married. We didn’t talk much. He stayed in his cubicle, and I stayed in mine.

As time wore on, my job blended with Jimmy’s, and we began to see each other on a daily basis. We worked together in the tech department along with 2 other people. We all went out to lunch several times a month as a group. One day, the other 2 weren’t available. But I was hungry. And I was lonely. And he was nice to me. And funny. He opened doors. He laughed at my jokes. He was getting cuter by the day. He treated me like a gentleman treats a lady, which was far from the treatment I was getting at home. Which Jimmy knew. He was all too familiar with decoding finger-print sized bruises on women’s arms. He was all too familiar with being lonely himself.

We had a nice lunch. It was our first time alone. Nothing happened. It was just a friendly lunch.

But there is such wisdom in not allowing yourself to be alone with a man.

Especially if you’re in a rocky marriage. Especially if he’s in a rocky marriage with a baby on the way.

Remember that part about Jimmy being far, far away from God? He wasn’t the only one.

You can read the whole story over at From Mayhem to Ministry.

Lives of Quiet Desperation

Henry-David-ThoreauMy father, on more than one occasion, has referenced this quotation in various discussions on purpose and meaning: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation“. I’ve been thinking about that lately. So, I Googled the phrase this evening and came across this enlightening write up, entitled Quiet Desperation, on the words, the man behind them, and where those thoughts can lead, either for good or for ill. Here’s an excerpt to give you a taste,

One night very early on in a life, a young boy lay back on the rocky New England soil, contemplating the heavens,  “looking through the stars to see if I could see God behind them.” This quest became one of the primary motivators of his life — one might say he never stopped looking into nature for the ultimate truth.

But what did Henry David Thoreau mean by his famous observation, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them”?

You may have seen those Facebook/Twitter/Instagram memes, the ones that say something to the effect of “Everyone you meet is battling inner demons that you known nothing about.” It’s so true. As much as we want to be open and free with our feelings and emotions with friends and family there are some things too deep, too subtle, too sensitive, to speak openly about. I think of the late Robin Williams. A man of laughter but a man of surprising inner turmoil to the point of ultimate desperation. If you don’t have a friend you can talk to, know that you have a friend in Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16,17

Soli Deo gloria

How to Install mod_pagespeed on CentOS

I was introduced to Google’s mod_pagespeed at my current place of employment. I dismissed it at first until I was tasked with adding it to one of our existing web apps that didn’t have it yet. Wow. KeepAlive + mod_pagespeed is fantastic. I know KeepAlive is old but it’s still off by default in Apache’s HTTPd config and, all by itself, it gives you a 3x savings in some cases I’ve tried. That, and mod_pagespeed brings you stuff like auto-bundling certain css and javascript into a single request, minifying javascript files and inline javascript, compressing images, generating optimized/rescaled images based on IMG tag width/height, etc. and it goes on. It’s a brilliant “best of breed” (forgive me for saying that!) compilation of all the best web performance techniques. Here’s how to install it…

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Logitech G27 900 Degrees Steering Across Racing Games

Update 2015-03-22: Mind blowing update here for G27 owners! I’ve just come across a thread, via a question I posed on the iRacing forums, about how to reset the G27 wheel when it glitches in a session and feels like it goes back to the default 200deg rotation. A friendly iRacing member provided the link and…well you just have to go there yourself right now! Here’s what it boils down to: There are undocumented codes for the buttons on the shifter for setting degrees of rotation and one of them is the 900deg setting which you’ll need to reset to if the wheel happens to glitch. Here’s a pic from that thread to help explain:

G27_UDG_miniYou press 1+2 and then one of the T,S,O,X buttons. Here’s my take on what each does: 1+2+T=240deg, 1+2+S=450deg, 1+2+O=630deg, 1+2+X=900deg.I think what they were trying to accomplish is shortcuts for cars with different steering ratios like 240deg for open wheel cars, 450deg for GT cars, 630deg for drift cars, and 900deg for street cars.

Update 2014-08-03: Okay, while I’m not at the point where I want to research every car’s steering ratio, I might be okay with researching types of cars. :) Here’s what I want: I want to use 540 degree wheel rotation (ie. setup in Logitech Profiler) but I want to make it feel like sort of realistic in-game via the use of steering lock settings. For example, F1 steering (540 degrees-ish with 13:1 steering ratio) should feel dramatically more twitchy than a road sports car such as a Porsche(900 degrees-ish with 15:1 steering ratio). So, here’s the list of car types, their wheel rotation, steering ratio, and steering lock: Family: 1080deg wheel rotation, 20:1 ratio, 27 lock; Sports: 900deg wheel rotation, 15:1, 30 lock; Drift/Rally: 720deg wheel rotation, 15:1, 24 lock; GT/Touring: 540deg wheel rotation, 15:1 ratio, 18 lock; F1/Formula: 540deg wheel rotation, 13:1 ratio, 21 lock. For the 540s you have what you need but for the rest we’d need to calculate it: Check this chart (backup link) out instead, from a Live For Speed Forums thread, that lays them all out nicely.

Update 2014-07-26 – 3: Handy online tool for calculating steering locks from wheel rotation and steering ratios. Also, some good reading on wheel rotation/steering ratio/steering locks.

Update 2014-07-26 – 2: I prefer realism in sim racing when I can get it, but I’m also not yet at the point where I want to research every car’s wheel rotation and steering ratio just to set that up in game to get a realistic feel. So I’ve settled on a GT-style 540degree wheel rotation and 18degree steering lock for 15:1 steering ratio. iRacing appears to be the only game I have so far that automatically applies a 900degree setup to real-world wheel rotation and steering ratio in each car they have. For all other games you have to set it manually and often that means every time you get into a car you have to load your custom setup file. After googling a lot, I find most people are happy with a middle-ground GT-style 540degree wheel rotation with 15:1 steering ratio which needs an 18degree steering lock setup. This is a generalization, not all GT cars use those numbers, but what you get in the end is one wheel setup for all racing sims where you get a consistent car turn feel across different car types.

Update 2014-07-26: Understanding SimBin Steering Sensitivity: The following applies to RaceRoom Racing Experience, Race 07, GTR 2, and I assume all SimBin racing games. I finally understand what they’ve done with steering sensitivity. 50 is linear, but either side of 50 is not linear-but-different-ratio as I expected. I finally got it when I was really looking at the steering meter. If I turn the wheel 90deg three times it goes from nothing to full. At 50 each 90deg takes up the same amount of space – so each 90deg physical wheel turn actually represents 90deg virtual wheel turning (broken animations aside). But, at 100 the first 90deg takes up the most, the second 90deg takes up less, and the third 90deg takes up even less – so each 90deg physical wheel turn may not actually represent 90deg car turning. At 0 it’s the other way around. So I choose 50 for steering sensitivity in SimBin titles to ensure that all degree ranges on my wheel rotation act and feel the same way.

Update 2014-07-19: I finally got 900 degrees in Race 07. It is, in fact, the same method as RaceRoom Racing Experience (Set it in the Logitech Profiler and then set the Steering Lock in the Car Setup) but apparently the steering wheel animation won’t be correct if you do that. That would have been okay except there’s no default steering lock like RaceRoom Racing Experience has so you have to set it on every car. I guess that’s technically correct but more hassle than I wanted so I went back to Logitech Profiler default degrees for Race 07. I wish these games would just do the ‘auto-magic’ thing like iRacing does.

Update 2014-07-08: I finally got 900degrees in RaceRoom Racing Experience: (1) Set it in the Profiler, (2) set it in R3E under Vehicle Settings > Wheel Animation (remember this is only animation it has no effect on how it feels), (3) go in to Control > Advanced Settings and set Steering Lock between 28 and 32. You need to google about steering lock and the ratio between that and the rotational degrees of your steering device. I just found the 28-32 metric after reading some discussions. For 540 degrees I’ve seen recommendations of 18-22. I believe the same steering lock applies for Race 07 but I haven’t tried it yet.

Logitech G27 900 Degrees Steering Across Racing Games

race07-3I loved the way iRacing was so easy to setup for the 900 degree turning ability of the Logitech G27 so I tried RaceRoom Racing Experience and Race 07 and was very disappointed there was no way to get that linear steering working when the G27 was setup for 900 degrees. Well, it’s not a real fix, but it’s here’s a decent work-around…

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vincens ut vinceret (a reponse to Henley’s Invictus)

After writing my own response to William Ernest Henley’s Invictus, I’ve come across some responses to the poem (I admit, I google my own blogs!), including vincens ut vinceret by Will Hapeman. I quite like it. It took largely the same tack as mine, swapping words and phrases, and ended up with a number of similarities.

Journeys in Google Earth: Roz Savage rowing from Australia to Mauritius Island near Madagascar

Check out the inspiring endeavours of Roz Savage, “I’ve done it! After 5 months and 0 days at sea, I am absolutely over the moon to be back on dry land, surrounded by friends and wellwishers – and, of course, my dear mother. I have just become the first woman to row across the “Big Three” oceans of the world – the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian.”

Check out the inspiring endeavours of Roz Savage,

I’ve done it! After 5 months and 0 days at sea, I am absolutely over the moon to be back on dry land, surrounded by friends and wellwishers – and, of course, my dear mother. I have just become the first woman to row across the “Big Three” oceans of the world – the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian.

Roz’s high-tech row boat is just off the west coast of Mauritius Island near Madagascar.

Journeys in Google Earth: Annolowaktook Island

An oddly symmetrical, skull-shaped island off the North-East coast of Canada. Bonus points for finding the guy who looks like he just won something!

An oddly symmetrical, skull-shaped island off the North-East coast of Canada. Bonus points for finding the guy who looks like he just won something!

The Demise of NewsX.org

Update 2015-08-15: Good news, everyone! NewsX.org is (sort of) back! Check out the 3.0 beta at beta.newsx.org. I’ve been refactoring the code quite a bit and generalizing the headline provider code to enable multiple sources in any format I care to write the code to parse :/ It might be a little rough around the edges but the headlines and various action buttons are working. Take a look! I’m actively updating it and adding news sources for the foreseeable future. Enjoy!

I’m sorry to have to report but the NewsX.org newsfeed provider, Moreover.com, has decided to end their free feeds. That means NewsX.org doesn’t have any data to use. Maybe someday I’ll implement different backend news feeds but until then NewsX is dead in the water, unfortunately. Thanks to all the visitors over the years! It’s been fun developing it! In the meantime, enjoy a laugh over at Archive.org with a history of NewsX since 2001! If you still need your news fix then Google News is where it’s at.

And the free gift is still available.