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Review of Photobox.ie

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I recently needed to order some printed mugs for a family member in Ireland. Shipping costs from the US were astronomical, so I ended up scouring the net for a place in Ireland that would do what I needed.

Most of the services that advertised as being in Ireland did not work out. While all of the services gave me ways of building the design I wanted, I ultimately needed to customize the photo in a photo editor on my computer and repeatedly upload versions until the print was going to match what I wanted.

Several would not accept payment from the US, including one that let me fill in a US billing address but they gave an error when I submitted the payment. Some required Ireland's postal code for the destination, but didn't like the address when it was filled in (!). Some were going to take a long time to ship the items, whereas I had about eight or nine days to get the item to its destination. Some sites used Flash for the interface, meaning they'll stop working fairly soon as browsers stop supporting it.

In the end photobox.ie was the best option.

The Photobox.ie site itself worked quite well and was the prices were fairly reasonable, it allowed me to buy items from the US and then ship to family in Ireland. The only downside was that the shipping time to Ireland was a little long, ultimately because of the fact that the company was actually based in the UK and items were shipped over. That said, with a little more planning ahead it shouldn't be an issue for future orders.

Will definitely use the site again.

Review: Buster's Bistro Belgian pub / restaurant

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(also posted on Yelp)

My family and I went here for a weekend lunch. The best chicken curry and chips (fries) I've had in twenty years, and a serious contender for the best I've ever had. Simply sublime. Alongside that, their selection of drinks is outstanding with lots of tasty European ciders 'n things, their "plain" food advertised as "children's food" like cheeseburgers and chicken tenders were really good, and their shawarma was also delicious. It has jumped to the top of our favorite places in the Sanford / Lake Mary area to go for a sit down meal.

https://www.bustersbistro.com

Movie review: Selma

My Rating: 

5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Favorite?: 

No

Am posting this to Common Sense Media too.

This historical retelling of a very important time in the Civil Rights movement is exceptional in every way - story, acting, pacing, etc.

There are a few portions that parents may wish to be aware of (spoiler warning, but it's historical so that's to be expected):

  • Within the first few moments a group of young girls are killed in an explosion.
  • The "n" word is used extensively, most often as a slur; other negative language is occasionally used.
  • There are a few scenes were people are badly beaten, one during a daytime march, the others at night; one person is shot during one of the confrontations.
  • During one scene MLK's wife Coretta confronts him about his infidelity and plays a recording of what is presumed to be him with another woman, with Coretta explaining that she knows what he sounds like.

This is a very important movie, for historical purposes, and is highly recommended for parents wishing to show their children what people of the time went through.

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Review: Gravity Ghost

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A highly recommended game that's a one of the most creative and original I've seen. A cross between an interactive story and a Mario Galaxy-style physics puzzler, the game is incredibly fun to play. It's simple & colorful pencil & paper -style graphics work remarkably well for this story, and its music is gorgeous. While the game is short and many will finish it within a few hours of play, it's such an enjoyable experience it should be very replayable.

One aspect of the game that's really cool is that while each level/screen has a specific task that requires flying around, it's so much fun to fly the character around that I'll often just spent time looping through the air without concern for whether the task is completed or not.

This is one of the best games I've bought in years.

The game can be bought from GravityGhost.com or on Steam, though the direct link is a better deal.

This review also posted to Steam.

Drupal Search Engine Optimization (D7)

As anyone who builds websites will know, search engine optimization (SEO), i.e. optimizing your website & its content to be more readily searched & discovered via search engines, is both deceptively simple in nature yet takes a good deal of time to maintain correctly. Drupal, the CMS system that I have focused my career on over the past four & half years, has many features that give it a leg up in the SEO battle, though in the end the single most important way of improving a site's SEO is by having good content. That said, there are some tools to help improve a Drupal site's SEO capabilities and a new book from Packt Publishing aims to guide you through it. So, how good is it?

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for this review.

The book has just five chapters: an intro to what SEO is all about, how to configure Drupal's core functionality to improve SEO, contrib modules that can help, building an SEO strategy, and tips for maintaining & monitoring the site's progress. All of this comes in at roughly one hundred pages, which is pretty short compared to the previous Drupal 6 SEO book, written by self-made Drupal SEO expert Ben Finklea, which was over 250 pages.

As the maintainer/co-maintainer for two of Drupal's most commonly used SEO-focused modules (Nodewords for D6, Metatag for D7) I was hopeful to see the modules I've put much of my personal time into improving see some promotion, and I wasn't too disappointed in this regard.

The third chapter starts with a page explaining what contrib modules are how to search the Drupal website for them, which should indicate the audience this is written for. It then proceeds to briefly summarize the "Top SEO modules for Drupal", which includes SEO Tools, Facebook social plugins, Global Redirect, Metatag (booyah!), Page Title, Pathauto, Search 404, SEO Checklist, SEO UI, SEO Watcher, Sexy Bookmarks, TagClouds, XML Sitemap. So there's that. Once it finishes explaining what each of the modules is for it then goes into a brief summary of how to configure each module. And this is where I have a problem with the book.

One of the reasons I collaborate with the prolific Dave Reid on the Metatag module is that it covers most of the metadata that pages need, and you don't really need any other modules to handle this functionality. Specific things it is able to handle are the page title (the normal HTML "title" tag), the canonical URL tag, Open Graph tags (used with Facebook), Twitter Card tags (used with Twitter), Dublin Core tags, etc, along with some of the more basic "description" and "keywords" meta tags. Our idea is to have all of this functionality (and more over time) bundled together so it can be easily customized via one location, rather than having to go to one module's page to change the canonical tags, another for the page title, somewhere else for Open Graph, etc.

Why do I bring this up? Well, as with every other Drupal 7 -focused SEO article I've read, the book promotes using the Page Title module for handling the title tag even though the Metatag module has always let you customize the page title (even Dave's first code in early 2011 had it!) thus making the Page Title module completely redundant. Secondly, while Drupal core outputs a canonical URL tag on its own, with Metatag you can actually control what is output and override it per page (if you really need to), but the book discusses using GlobalRedirect module for this and not Metatag; yes, GlobalRedirect can help with other things, but you sure don't need it to add the canonical URL tag.

Another aspect that would have improved the book is a good explanation of what tokens are and how to use them as many of the SEO modules use them extensively. For the uninitiated, tokens are the small strings found in e.g. Metatag's fields on node edit pages that are wrapped in square brackets that get converted into something more useful when the page is displayed, e.g. [site:url] will output the main URL for the site, [node:title] shows the title of the current node page, etc, and it definitely would have helped to cover these in detail.

The rest of the content is fairly good, I'm just a bit disappointed at the inaccuracies in its coverage of modules. Between that and the book's length, this is a book I'd only recommend if you really are new to SEO best practices, and even then expect to need to do a lot of additional research.

My Rating: 

3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Favorite?: 

No

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