Wrestling with Scribd’s fullscreen display

I’ve been using the document-sharing service Scribd to embed documents in posts for various projects. but sometimes the “fullscreen” feature doesn’t work with the embedded document. I’m trying to troubleshoot this. So as a test I’m embedded a Scribd document here, to see if fullscreen works:

1 5 2010 Concurrent Meeting of the Oakland Redevelopment Agency City Council 10-01-05 Meeting Agenda

…OK, just viewed this post in Firefox for Mac and the fullscreen function does work here. But on another site I publish on, which is a complex Drupal site, it’s not working.

Have other Scribd users experienced similar display problems when embedding documents on Drupal sites? Got any solutions?

Experiment: Great Live Event Coverage for Hire. What do you think?

As I mentioned in my previous post, today I’m liveblogging and tweeting a daylong Las Vegas event by Metzger Associates: Social Media for Executives. It’s a small event for a select group of executives representing several types of companies.

I’m doing this as a pilot test for a new professional service I’d like to start offering: Great live event coverage.

In my experience, most online event coverage isn’t so great. A few folks will be tweeting or blogging in several places, some hashtags will be used, but it’s all rather confusing and inconsistent to follow. Also, a lot of people tend to tweet items like “Jane Doe is speaking at this session now.” Uh-huh… AND….?

Liveblogging/tweeting has turned out to be a real strength of mine — I’m good at it, and I enjoy it. I’ve also had the good fortune to collect a sizable Twitter following among folks whose interests in media, business, and other fields overlap with mine — and who enjoy my particular blend of reporting, analysis, and attitude. (Or at least I guess they do, because every time I do live event coverage my Twitter posse swells noticeably and those folks tend to stick around afterward.)

I do a lot of live event coverage via Twitter and CoverItLive. For instance, earlier this month for my client the Reynolds Journalism Institute I liveblogged/tweeted J-Lab’s Fund My Media Startup workshop at the 2009 Online News Association conference.

So, being a longtime entrepreneur always on the lookout for new opportunities, I’m looking for ways to offer live event coverage as a service for my clients. Today’s event is an experiment on this front.

I want to figure out how this service could work in a way that would appeal to my Twitter posse, maintain my integrity and independence, and provide value to clients who’d pay for it.

Here are some of the issues I’m wrestling with, that I’d welcome your thoughts on…

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Thinking of updating your mac to Snow Leopard? Do this FIRST!

While I’m here on my 3rd Apple Store visit in as many days to try to recover from a disaster triggered by my attempt to upgrade my Mac to the Snow Leopard OS X, here are some tips that might save other Mac users similar pain and frustration.

1. Back up your entire machine onto TWO EXTERNAL DRIVES. It’s a good idea to run Time Machine backup as often as possible. But when you’re running the risk of having to hand over your mac AND your backup drive to a technician (which is always the case when attempting a significant operating system update), it’s a good idea to have a separate copy of your backup in your own possession.

2. Verify the condition of your hard drive. Apple is marketing Snow Leopard chiefly as a way to enhance performance. However, if your hard drive is developing problems (as mine apparently was), that will impair performance. Installing Snow Leopard won’t fix HD problems, and it may even cause your drive to fail during installation (as mine did)

So Verify your disk using your Mac’s Disk Utility before you upgrade. That can indicate HD problems. It’s not a perfect predictor of problems, but it’s at least some help. Had I thought to do this, I might not have lost 3 workdays and be freezing my ass off in an over-air conditioned Apple Store right now.

If your disk verification process indicates problems, and if you’re experiencing decreasing performance, it’s probably a safer bet to get your HD replaced and data restored correctly BEFORE attempting to upgrade your operating system. If you have to go to the Apple Store to do this, make sure they put in the work order that you do NOT want the OS upgraded yet.

3. Check your warranty coverage. I purchased Apple Care when I bought my mac a couple of years ago, and it’s still in effect. So Apple replaced my HD for free. I’m not sure whether the warranty covers drives that are having problems (rather than have already failed), but it’s worth asking about.

4. Line up a backup computer. If, like me, you work or life could get seriously screwed if you lose your computer for a few days or more, make sure you have handy access to a functional backup machine BEFORE doing a significant system update. Load it up with all the software & data you’ll need to do what you need to do, and test it.

Personally, I’m getting a Linux netbook ASAP.

5. Check your ProCare staus. ProCare is Apple’s preferred service program. It costs about $100/yr, and it’s worth it if you depend in your Mac. If you need a speedy repair, make sure you have current ProCare coverage. You van buy it on the spot at the Apple Store if you need it.

6. Don’t leave the Apple Store without your computer the way you need it. If your OS X update goes dreadfully wrong (as mine did), required them to wipe your drive, have the Apple Store staff restore your operating system and data from your Time Machine backup. Don’t do all of that yourself.

My experience shows that this installation/restore process is trickier than Apple claims. It’s surprisingly easy for the Time Machine restoration to not work right with a freshly installed OS. Make them do everything you need do your machine is up and running. Bring this blog post with you if they balk, and stick to your guns.

This means bringing your external HD with your current Time Machine backup to the Apple Store with you, of course. And before you leave, sync your iPhone and make sure it works. My iPhone sync is not yet working, so I’m staying put in this store for now.

7. Check the “Lemon Law” in your state. The details if this federal consumer protection law are defined by each state. In many states, including CA, lemon laws cover not just vehicles but also consumer products. This may give you recourse if you get screwed by Apple on mac-related issues, like a disastrous OS update you paid for.

Also have the phone number of the local Better Business Bureau handy, and be willing to file a complaint if necessary.

8. Don’t attempt a major system update a couple of weeks after having knee surgery. I’m just saying, it makes everything that much more difficult, aggravating, and risky.

My Snow Leopard Disaster: live updates from 3rd Apple Store visit

I’m sitting in the Apple Store at 5656 Bay St., Emeryville, CA. It’s the third time I’ve been here in as many days, thanks to a series of unfortunate events spawned by my misguided effort to upgrade my Macbook Pro to the latest OS X, Snow Leopard.

I’ve been here about 3 hours so far.

THE HIGHLIGHTS:

  1. My mac was increasingly having performance problems, and Snow Leopard is marketed mainly as a performance enhancer.
  2. When I tried installing SL, it failed because my hard drive crashed. HD problems were most likely the cause of my performance problems.
  3. Apple replaced my HD, installed SL, and told me to restore from my Time Machine backup. The TM restore failed in a weird way.
  4. On my 2nd Apple Store trip, they wiped my HD, installed SL, and gave me new instructions for restoring from TM. Last night that failed too.

For more details on exactly what went wrong, see my posts from yesterday and this morning.

So today, on my third visit, my goals are:

  1. Get my HD wiped again. Tech reports this was done.
  2. Get the regular Leopard OS X installed, NOT Snow Leopard. Really, screw SL at this point! Tech reports this was done.
  3. Restore my apps and data from the CORRECT TM backup, something the SL installer would not let me do.
  4. Avoid unnecessary walking. I had knee surgery Aug. 13, & doc says I must avoid unnecessary walking until my leg is much stronger, to avoid developing a hard-to-correct limp. Trouble is I don’t own a car, so had to take bus to Apple store, which involved walking a few blocks. I’m staying put in the Apple Store (they gave me a chair) until my mac is fixed. Been here nearly three hours so far.
  5. Check everything out BEFORE I sign off on this repair & leave. And if it’s not fixed, they’re getting a big ‘ol dose of NJ loud ‘n pissed, plus possible action under CA’s lemon law. (Been doing sone research, and it applies to consumer products, not just cars.)
  6. Get a refund for Snow Leopard. Yeah. Seriously.
  7. Try to avoid homicides. Just on general principles. Especially at the Apple Store. Too many witnesses.

If all goes well, my mac will emerge from brain surgery in the next hour. I hope so, because I’m getting hungry.

It’s cold in here. Glad I brought my goodie.

So far I’ve lost 3 days to this. Most of my work-related data is in the cloud, but not having a backup computer leaves me outta that loop. So I’m researching which Linux netbook to purchase. I’ve been wanting one for travel & portability, but now I see having a backup machine running Firefox with all my plugins and that I can actually type on makes the difference to keep me in business.

Because writing on an iPhone truly sucks. I loathe this #^*+%# touch keyboard. Good thing I remembered to charge up & bring my backup battery.

I’ll post again when I know more. Stay tuned.

My Snow Leopard disaster continues

It’s the third day since I lost the use of my only computer, a Macbook pro, and I’m about to head off to the Bay St. Apple Store in Emeryville, CA for the third time to try to get it working again.

Please see my post yesterday explaining how a failed update to the much-heralded Snow Leopard OS X left me macless.

Last night, after the Apple Store wiped my brand-new hard drive, I went home and followed their instructions for installing SL again and restoring from my Time Machine backup. The SL install worked; the TM restore failed because the Snow Leopard installer does not allow you to specify WHICH TM backup you want to restore from!

That’s right: SL automatically grabs the most recent backup — which in this case was a backup of the lobotomized virgin system captured after my first SL install.

Tom worked hard for several hours last night via iChat screen share to try to manually restore the correct TM backup. Below are his notes

Right now I’m en route to the Apple Store. I plan to be there when they open and stay there until they fix this. I’ll be updating on this blog and via Twitter” throughout the day.

…BTW, I’m having to run all these errands at a time when my orthopedist has cautioned me to walk as little as possible. I had knee surgery Aug. 13 to repair a torn ACL. I have a leg brace for getting around during recovery, but walking too much now impairs my recovery. So managing this Apple ordeal is putting my physical well being at risk. No exaggeration.

Anyway, here’s Tom’s account of what happened with my mac last night and what I’m trying to achieve today….

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My Mac Snow Leopard installation disaster so far

NOTE: So far I’ve had 3 visits to Apple Store to attempt repairs. SEE NEXT UPDATE.

I’ve used Macs for many years, and I’ve been lucky: never had a hard drive crash, or a problem installing a software update.

Until yesterday

I purchased the $29 Snow Leopard update, and tried installing it yesterday.

Midway through the installation, the installer choked & said it “could not change the contents of my hard drive.”

Then my mac would not reboot.

I packed everything up and went to the Bay St Apple Store (Emeryville, CA). They said it was most likely a pre-existing problem with my hard drive, and the OS update pushed it into failure. (this is plausible, my machine would often suddenly start thrashing, one reason why I wanted to do this update).

My mac was under warranty, so they replaced my HD for free. I renewed my ProCare subscription to make it happen that day. The Apple store also installed Snow Leopard on the brand new drive. They noted that they were unable to install the iLife suite on Snow Leopard, but said I should be able to install those programs from my original install discs.

I took home my brainwashed mac. I booted it up, it was like a brand new machine. After I established am admin acct, I was able to run a restore from my latest Time Machine backup.

The restore took 3 hrs, and appeared to go well. I watched the files copying onto the new drive.

When it was done, I was amazed to see that I could not access my restored data and apps. It was like the restore never happened.

I was stunned. Tom Vilot was available to help me troubleshoot. He shared my screen over iChat and investigated further, but we both ended up stumped.

Here’s his assessment:

“Attempting to do a Time Machine restore last night succeeded, but confusingly there are two entries in /Volumes:
– Macintosh HD
– Macintosh HD 1

“Everything restored to “Macintosh HD,” but it appears the system is running off of “Macintosh HD 1” and I can see no way to reconfigure it to run off of “Macintosh HD.” There is only one entry in the System Preferences -> Startup Disk panel.

“Why are there two entires in /Volumes like this? How do we tell the machine to use “Macintosh HD” instead of “Macintosh HD 1” and how do we get rid of “Macintosh HD 1”

….I really need help here I depend on this computer. If you have ideas or can help, please comment below. Thanks.

Idea: Nurturing App for Social Media

Friendster or Foe
Image by l0ckergn0me via Flickr

Without going into details, I’ve been handling a lot of major personal stuff lately — and I’ve been fortunate to have a strong and growing circle of close friends who have stepped up to offer me a steady supply of energy, support, perspective, honesty, sympathy, empathy, nurturing, and fun.

And I do this for them, too. That’s the core of deep friendship and other loving connections: You give of your own energy to help sustain others who are running low or in transition. At certain points we all need more nurturing; and at other times we have an abundance of energy and emotion to offer. Life comes in waves.

Personally, I’ve always found it very hard to ask for the help or nurturing I need. I don’t trust people easily, especially where my feelings of vulnerability are concerned. I assume that any emotional need I have, however small, will be perceived as too great an imposition. I don’t expect other people to be available to me. (Yes, I’m working on changing this mindset, quite deliberately. It’s a coping mechanism I’ve outgrown.)

As I’m reaching out more to my close friends, I’m wishing I had a tool that would help me to gauge their situation before I make a request, so I can be more sensitive to when I might actually be imposing.

Here’s what it might look like…

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Google: Could I import my custom maps to my iPhone, please?

Google Maps on Apple iPhone
Image by niallkennedy via Flickr

This week I’m headed to the Bay Area for an extended visit. I have lots of friends there and there are plenty of cool things to do there. I’ve started mapping all this stuff on a private Google Map — where I’ll be staying, nearby public transit stops, gyms, massage clinics, coffeehouses, music venues, grocery stores, etc. I just assumed that since there’s a pretty good Google Maps app on my iPhone, I’d be able to import all that data easily. Right?

Wrong!

Right now, the closest I can get is to e-mail the link from my private Bay Area map to my iPhone. When I click that link in my iPhone e-mail, the map opens — in the phone’s Safari web browser, not in the Google Maps app. Which makes it much harder to use and far less useful on the go.

I’ve posted a query about this in the Google Maps forum. But so far, I haven’t found a solution.

Does anyone know any tricks for this? Is this something that an iPhone app could be written to support?

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Weirdness with Delicious daily blog post: Other options?

For a long time, I’ve been using the Delicious daily blog post feature to syndicate to this site the  interesting stuff I’m saving and sharing via the popular social bookmarking service Delicious.

Since the recent Delicious upgrade, that service has had some issues.

First, that daily blog post stopped working for me entirely until I looked through the Delicious documentation and learned I now had to run the Postalicious plugin to continue making that feature work with WordPress. No biggie, I installed it.

Postalicious gave me a lot of new options for configuring that daily blog post.  I experimented with them. One option I liked was the ability to change the default title supplied to that post. Also, I temporarily changed my posting interval to hourly (so I’d show more posts with fewer links each), but decided I didn’t like that so today I switched it back to daily.

But today, I’m wondering whether Delicious has stopped working with Postalicious. Today’s links post is back to running the standard head Delicious supplied before: “Links for [DATE] (delicious.com)” I’m not happy with that heading, but right now I don’t seem to have the ability to change it.

I checked the Delicious support forum, where users are discussing the changes to this service. I noticed this interesting post from Britta of Delicious, regarding their future strategy for this service…

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Growing a Quality Twitter Posse: My Do’s & Don’ts

My Twitter posse is always there for me. Today they offered fast, good ideas for E-Media Tidbits.

Like a lot of people, I’m an avid user of Twitter. But I don’t do so aimlessly. Twitter is worth my time because every day it offers me clear rewards:

  • Posse power. The 700+ Twitter followers I’ve accumulated have proved to be a collectively generous helpful group that offers, by-and-large, on-target and useful information whenever I ask for help, feedback, or insight.
  • Radar & serendipity. The 150+ people I currently follow on Twitter generally provide, at any time of day or night, a steady stream of interesing, useful, timely, or entertaining content.
  • Relationship-building. This may sound strange for a text-only, short-post medium, but I’ve found Twitter to be a more natural, human tool for keeping up with friends and colleagues on a daily basis. It also relieves the sense of isolation from working at home alone every day.
  • Convenience and lack of pressure. I leave Twitter on when I have time or can offer divided attention, and turn it off when I need to focus. I feel no need to “catch up” on posts that happen when I’m not online. (Replies or direct messages to me do get saved so I can see them later, however.)

Of all those rewards, “posse power” is by far the most important and valuable. I’ve come to the conclusion that Twitter has become so very useful to me because I’ve actively cultivated a high-quality posse.

Here’s how I did it…
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