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Panel Says: Rochester’s Stable, so Let’s Change That

Maybe I’m overly alarmist, but it seems to me that this article essentially says that Rochester’s real estate market is quite stable, so it’s a great time to invest heavily in Rochester. That sounds nice, and with the housing bubble collapsing other places, there’s a lot of capital floating around that needs a home. The question is: are we inviting the sort of heedless investment that made other markets so unstable?

I mentioned the capital floating around the market in a previous post last night, so let me expand on that a moment. We don’t think of free capital much right now because of all the bank problems and the credit freeze up. The story in the media has largely been about the lack of credit, which is to say that the story is about a lack of available loans and mortgages, which sounds like a lack of money.

And the banks are definitely hurting financially, so that is partially correct. But many people who were investing in real estate before the problems began did so because they’re wealthy and need places to put money where it will be safe. At a certain level, investing money in real estate, bonds, or whatever is the same as putting it in the bank. Historically, real estate tends to be a safe bet and less prone to wild fluctuations than some other investments.

So now that markets in California and elsewhere have dried up, there’s capital that needs to be invested somewhere. People could put it in bonds, they could put it in gold, but they’ve got to put it somewhere. And with all the banks closing right now, pinning one’s investment capital to property which will always have at least some value probably seems like a smart choice to some. Investing in Upstate New York markets, where we’ve managed to escape the brunt of the Subprime damage and where property values have not significantly changed over the last few years.

Once you get the investors, you get the short-sellers and the hedge funders and it’s all down hill from there. Investment becomes highly speculative and unstable. Once the market has outgrown it’s actual potential – which wouldn’t be long in Rochester – the market dries up and the investors go elsewhere.

I don’t suspect that we’re going to see any wide-spread damage done, necessarily, and there’s not going to be a second housing boom in Rochester. But I do worry that some local towns and villages may find that the investment that’s plentiful today maybe gone tomorrow, with a project half-started. That should probably sound familiar to those of us living in Rochester.

Woo Hoo! Lefty Blogs Installed!

I’ve been having a bit of a time trying to get the Lefty Blogs code installed on this site.  The problem, you see, is that Widgets for WordPress are now built not to allow arbitrary code in text widgets.  It’s a trend that’s happening all over WordPress, as some of you might have noticed when posting YouTube videos to your own blogs.  In any event, this prevents me from just cutting and pasting the JavaScript URL they provide into a text widget.

But lo!  I have laboured to produce!

I created a Lefty Blogs Widget that bypasses the security measure preventing you from using the Lefty Blogs blogroll and allows you an easy way to modify your options, such as the number of posts to display and a custom title.  Once I’m satisfied that the plugin works as expected and once I hear back from LeftyBlogs, I plan on introducing this plugin to the plugins.wordpress.org directory.

No Radio Show Today! (notes and erotica)

Go figure, eh?

The one day when there’s loads of snow on the ground and nothing to do, I just really don’t feel like doing the radio show. I don’t have any guests, anyway, and I’d only end up bitching about Maggie Brooks without anything really new to add.

So instead, I’m concentrating on some coding projects, including one for-hire project and some odds and ends for this site as well. You may have noticed that there’s a new chicklet list over in the right-hand nav area. That will replace the ones at the top, and those will be replaced by some new content as well. Little by little, bit by bit.

Flight of the DragonflyIn the meanwhile, you can check out the cool new Flight of the Dragonfly radio show tee shirts available at CafePress.com. I hope you like the graphic work, it took me a few hours to get right. They’re available in military green, black and my favourite, brown.

Of course, two weeks from now will be the interview with April Laragy of The Atomic Swindlers. I’m definitely looking forward to this interview. I’ve got to spend some time today making some MP3’s of their music, clipped for radio sampling.

I’ve got some exclusive clips from the new album which I’ll be able to tease out as well. That’s going to kick ass.

Then after the radio show, they play High Fidelity at 7pm. One thing I love about the Swindlers: they do early shows! Yeah, a later show is better for the lights and such, but an earlier show is better for us domesticated house plants.

BTW, check out this kick-ass Italian prog-rock band I found on MySpace.com, Discanto. They say their inspired by PFM and TOOL, but to me, they sound like great Goth bands I used to hear at Vertex all the time.

And well, that’s about it for now.  Off to code now, enjoy yourselves!

I’m Not Going to Miss “Links” at All

For those of you who do not yet know, the latest version of WordPress will eliminate the “Links” altogether in favour of adding the Links to their own separate Category. That means that, instead of having a separate list of “Links” with it’s typically unfathomable and irritatingly option-free set of controls, you will maintain your list through the use of another Category and presumably subCategories as well.

Now, I know what some of you less experienced folks are thinking: holy crap, they’re going to strand me and delete my links that I’ve taken six years to develop!!! Fear not, gentle reader. I’m sure that they intend to make the transition easier by migrating them over for you, but if not, I’m sure someone else will develop just such a tool for you lickety-split.

Personally, I detest the Links structure and would much rather the greater freedom allowed Categories present from a development perspective. I’m also more than a little curious just how the Links fit into the Categories. I’ll probably install WP2.1 on a Dev server and see what it looks like before installing on my Production server. Plus, I’m going to need to know how to alter my Collapsing Categories Widget to accomodate the new schema.

Hmmm. . . . Maybe I’ll even. . . . Well, better not spoil the surprise.

UPDATE: Well, I’ve done it now: I’ve joined the WordPress Tester’s mailing list, so now I’ll have a way to download the new version and see how it works. Sweetness!

WordPress 2.0.7, Go Get It!

While we all anxiously await the release of WordPress 2.1 (which is going to kick ass, let me tell you!), the folks over at the WordPress development group have discovered a vulnerability in PHP, various versions of builds 4 and 5 both, which makes patching WordPress a necessity.? Apparently, there has been an issue with the UNREGISTER_GLOBALS keyword with these versions that has made for some pretty serious vulnerabilities, as those of you with a few years coding experience can probably imagine.

Do not wait!? Patch your site up NOW!? It may not become an issue for you, ever, but this is the kind of thing that lends itself to bot-style automation, and it may not be you that gets affected.? Patch it now.

JavaScript Animated Collapsing Categories

Please note that this page has been moved!!! Whilst I work out the redirection, you can check out the new Page created to handle this Widget. I will eventually be moving all the comments from this article over to the new page, but that’s going to have to wait until the weekend, donchaknow. . .

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all those who have supported and installed this Widget. I get to see what blogs use it, and that rocks!

The Enviro-Quotes Widget

Enviro-Quotes is really just a minor alteration of the original Joe’s Quotes Widget along with some new icons and a new quotes list, but for those of you inspired by An Inconvenient Truth or who are of environmentalist mind-set, this may be of use.

The intent of this Widget is to allow Administrators to display helpful environmental tips for their users on a convenient sidebar, and also to allow Admins the option to link those tips to other resources for additional information. The current file includes everything from tips on keeping your car running efficiently to avoiding overuse of water when doing your laundry. Just helpful tips that perhaps your readers didn’t think of. To do this, I’ve changed a few things about the way the Widget works (for example, I’ve substituted the non-visible tab delimiters with the statistically-unlikely tilde [ ~ ] to better clarify the limits between the parts of each entry). But not much has changed otherwise.

The alterations to the original file are as follows:

  1. I’ve altered the linking structure some. Whereas the original Widget simply made every quote a link back to Joe’s site, the new version allows you to define a link (or not) for each individual quote.
  2. I’ve clarified the div id’s in use for this Widget and added a new one. Because I’ve removed the original link to Joe’s site, I added a div and allowed users the choice of either including the link or styling that part of the Widget to display:hidden; should they wish. Please see the advanced information in the README file included with the download.
  3. The only file included with this widget is one called “efficient.txt,” and it includes all the tips printed in the final widget. I’ve also created some relevant icons which are also included.

Installation Instructions:

This one’s pretty simple, folks. Just extract the files from the download package (found here as a ZIP and here as a RAR file), upload the eqw.php and /eqw directories to your plugins directory (typically wp-content/plugins for most installations) and turn the bugger on in the Plugins page of your Admin panel. Once that’s done, you can go to your Sidebar Widgets page, slide your “Enviro-Quotes” file where you’d like, name it and you’re all set!

For additional options such as styling and creating/deleting/modifying environmental tips and tricks, please see the README.txt file included in the download package.

Additional features, bells and whistles will be considered upon request in the comments section. Also, if you’ve come up with some good tips and tricks you’d like to share with the group, feel free to either add the entries to the comments section or link to your complete file! The environment gets better when we all work together!

WP2.1 on the Way. Is Your Blog Ready?

The folks at WordPress sent out a friendly warning to developers and bloggers alike: the new version of WP is going to have some significant changes to it’s core, and they’re very likely to affect plugins:

Development Blog ? Is your plugin Naughty or Nice?

WordPress 2.1 is almost here and you know what that means for developers. It?s time to pull out those old plugins you?ve had stashed, blow off the dust and start applying some spit and polish and make sure it will last longer than Grandma?s Ham and Bean soup that has been sitting in the refrigerator for weeks. Many of the big changes in WordPress 2.1 are MySQL related so grab a pen and paper (or open Notepad) and start taking notes.

I have to say that I’m a bit confused as to why a new version that makes such significant changes to the database constitutes a sub-version rather than an entirely new WP3.0, but I guess if its your product, you get to name it what you want.  In any event, plugin-monkeys like myself need to pay special attention to the changes found here so we can be ready.  I don’t often write my own plugins, but I’ve got one widgetized plugin that’s out there for public consumption, and I use TONS of plugins to make this page work.

The big thing is that when you upgrade you pay careful attention to the directions they give out for all new versions: make sure you disable all your plugins before upgrading, and make sure you turn them on one at a time to find out which ones work with the new version and which ones do not.  That last bit is critical this time, because if the developer used the now-eliminated wp_ functions, it’s likely to crash your blog with an ugly SQL error and eliminate your ability to access even the Admin area.

It’s a shame that they cannot develop a version of WP that does not crash so hard.  It seems like it should be possible to create WP such that it exits gracefully and at least gives you access to the Admin area when the shit hits the fan, but I presume that it is not, in fact, possible.  Forcing the inexperienced to delete files through FTP takes them well outside of the GUI world you gave them, which probably causes a fair amount of anxiety in the noobies out there.

So, put that on my wish-list along with a customizable Admin page.  Give me those two, and I’m all set.

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Grrr! Timing is Everything! (Shiki and Others)

Script.aculo.us is a great UI building set of interfaces for JavaScript which I just looked into, and which will likely inform the production of some of the newer features to this website.? Those being things like a restaurant lookup app, representative lookup app, and probably a few back-end tools you needn’t know about.

Well, I just got the thing unpacked and ready to go, just played around with a few experiments on the Dev domain, and now their freakin’ wiki went mamaries-up.? Hopefully, they’re just making a few changes and it will return soon. It’s Saturday morning, I’m working in the home office, and I need a diversion! Oh, well.

Meanwhile, I just ate at Shiki for the first time.? If you haven’t heard of, Shiki is a little tiny sushi bar on Clinton ave, right around the corner from me.? Before I describe that, let me describe my condition:
I used to go to California Rollin’ years ago and loved it, but I went there a few months ago and man!? Did it ever get sleazy and ghetto-esque!? I was very disappointed in the lack of service, the appalling sanitation and lousy rolls.? This was a huge disappointment, as I’d been talking up California Rollin’s sushi for years with the missus.? She’s not a sushi eater in the first place, but I was trying to convince her that it was good, and that experience didn’t help.? So, I’ve been looking for a place that serves decent sushi and other things my wife will eat under the same roof for a while, now.? We found Shiki.

Shiki’s sushi was incredible, and the saki was great, too.? I walked out of the restaurant on cloud nine!!? Sarah enjoyed her dinner as well, so it looked like we struck gold.? Well, that was before she got violently ill.

I’m hoping against hope that the illness was something else, but I doubt it.? Even so, the damage is done, and I doubt I’ll get her back in that restaurant again.? Grrr.? I wanted to review that restaurant, but now if I’m honest about the experience, it doesn’t make for a very nice review, does it?