review

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.

Tags: 

Review: Gravity Ghost

Tags: 

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

Tags: 

Best keyboard ever?

Tags: 

Well, for under $50 anyway...

Kensington Comfort Type Multimedia Keyboard

Recently to match the new PC upgrade we did I picked up a new keyboard after seeing one at CompUSA. Its made by Kensington, a company that has been around for what seems like forever (at least in IT-world terms, i.e. 15-20 years) and at first glance seems the same as any other on the market with its multimedia keys and fairly generic layout. However, after laying your fingers on its keys you notice something different - the keys are slanted!

Those kooky folks at Kensington must have spent way too much time looking over people's shoulders while typing. It seems they noticed that when most people type their hands tend to angle away from each other with the backs of the hands pointing over the typists shoulders and fingers pointing inwards. Go put your hands on a keyboard, let them rest and see what way they lie. So they took this knowledge and designed a keyboard that slants in the direction your fingers are pointing.

The first time I saw the keyboard it seemed a bit strange but typing on it for a few seconds, even not plugged into anything, I could immediately tell that it fit my natural typing position better than the generic un-slanted keyboard, and so the next time I was at the store I got one.

The only negative side I can see is that the back-slash / pipe key, which is usually above the enter key, is positioned beneath the enter key. This has the awkward effect of both having to re-train yourself to a new location for a key often used by geeks (i.e. me), and also making the right shift key narrower. I'll live, but I wish they left it where it should be.

Lastly it must be mentioned that this is a PS/2 keyboard, i.e. that little round connector which has been standard on PCs for ten years or so. Personally I think that it should be USB as standard, USB has been on PCs since the late '90s and there's no excuse these days for not shipping devices that are USB compatible, at the very least bundling an adapter. Heck, our new computer has about ten USB connectors, never mind using a USB hub.

Kensington sell multiple varieties of the keyboard, with this one ranking at the $20 mark with two others available without the multimedia keys - one beige PS/2-only keyboard for $15 and a black PS/2-USB one for $20.

So next time you are looking for a keyboard I suggest seeking one out and giving it a spin, you might just like it.

Subscribe to review