Archive for September, 2007

 

I’m Beginning to Like Google

Sep 08, 2007 by Steve Belt in Blogging

If you want to be successful with your on-line presence you have no choice but to accept the reality that you owe any chance of success to how much Google likes your website, and thus how high it ranks your site in its search results.  Yahoo and MSN and Ask and all the rest make up less than half of total search engine searches, so it’s just the nature of the beast that the beast that is Google must be tamed.

Blogging, if done well, can be used to effectively tame Google.  You must blog frequently, you must have people that read and refer to your site, you must refer to other sites, and you must provide unique content.  This week I posted a small article about the Phoenix Walk for PKD.  PKD is a kydney disease that fellow REALTOR Joanne Bradley is afflicted with.  She recently made me aware of the walk.  FYI, It’s over at DC Ranch on Saturday, September 15th, if you are interested.

But the point of this post is about Google and searching.  I posted the entry on September 4th.  Google crawled my site on September 4th, as well.  And right now, if you do a Google search for “Phoenix Walk PKD”, my blog entry is #1 as a result.  In fact, I’ve had 5 blog hits in the last 2 days directly as a result of that article.

Now, 5 hits isn’t earth shattering, but what is amazing is finding myself #1 on any Google search.  That’s the first time ever for me with Google.  So thank you Google.  If you’re listening, can you hook me up with some more keywords?  How about, “Scottsdale Homes for Sale”?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Sep 08, 2007 by Steve Belt in General

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsThe final Harry Potter book was released on July 7th, and Jan purchased a copy for me that day.  Unfortunately, I was reading David Weber’s Hell’s Gate at the time.  And then, Hell’s Gate decided to end with a cliffhanger, so I was forced to read Hell Hath No Fury immediately following.  Not that book 6 of the Harry Potter series didn’t end in a cliffhanger, but I’d been on the edge for a year and a half, what was one more month, give or take. 

At any rate, I finally got to Book 7 (Deathly Hallows) a couple of weeks ago.  While the page count is high, the number of words on a page is small, and the book was a quick read.  Certainly a single sit down for many people on a lazy Saturday.

As became typical with most of the latter half of the series, JK Rowling managed to say little for about half the book.  At times she seems incapable of writing, “…and the next 3 months went on much the same”, but instead forces the day to day humdrum down our throats. 

Alas, the book gets to the point, and Harry Potter’s plight is revealed.  I’m not going to bother with any spoilers, in case there are those among you that have yet to read the book, but still plan to.  Instead, I’ll say that I’m happy with the result.  As a fan, it’s a pretty satisfying conclusion to the series, and makes the brutality of the Half-Blood Prince major cliffhanger ending worth the wait.

In Deathly Hallows I particularly like the treatment given the Snape.  While you can’t possibly like Snape, you do always wonder, who’s side is he on, anyway?  Even at the end of Half-Blood Prince I still wasn’t sure, while I’m sure most were fairly convinced.

Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows should make excellent movies, but I think Deathly Hallows has the best shot at being a superb movie, because it will be easier to edit the content to feature film length.  I even wonder if the emotion that Deathly Hallows can offer on screen will be even stronger than JK Rowling was able to provide on the page.  At times, I think she glossed over some of the most emotional sequences, which I don’t see happening in the movie. 

Time to Claim my Blog

Sep 07, 2007 by Steve Belt in Blogging

It’s time I claimed my blog with Technorati.

Technorati Profile

Sad News

Sep 06, 2007 by Steve Belt in Family, General

Sad FaceUnfortunately, my brother-in-law Chris was laid off his 17 year job at CSK yesterday.  This came as a surprise to him, even though he was aware that some people would be let go as the company did some restructuring.  The restructuring involved eliminating duplicate regional positions, but he was handling a national thing, relating to their on line presence, so he had figured he was safe.

The good news, is he gets 4 months to find his new gig, which I’m quite sure will be no problem.  I suggest he take a bit of relaxation time and recharge the batteries.

Snap Shots Plugin Added

Sep 05, 2007 by Steve Belt in General

SnapShotAfter checking out this Blog from fellow REALTOR Heather Barr, yesterday, I found a feature that I felt was pretty cool:  Snap Shots.  I’ve seen it all over the net, but hadn’t realized it was easy to add to my WordPress blog.  A quick look around, and sure enough there’s a WordPress plugin, and 15 minutes later I had Snap Shots working here.  If anyone finds it problematic, let me know, as I’m not about to add a plugin that creates problems, just because it looks cool.

I’ve also decided to turn on Twitter.  I’m sure the blogoverse is jumping for joy over that news.

Which Distance to Ride for the TOWM

Sep 04, 2007 by Steve Belt in General, Mountain Bike

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m thinking about riding the Tour of the White Mountains on October 6.  Actually, I’m more than thinking about it, I’m fairly committed to it.  The next big question is what distance to go?  The choices are 41, 52, and 66 miles.  The 41 and 52 ride routes I have ridden much of, just not all at once.  The 66 adds a section I’m not familiar with.

As a single day’s ride, I’ve done 35 miles a number of times.  I’ve also done the 24 Hrs in the Old Pueblo twice, and in so doing logged 87 & 122 miles in a 24 hour period.  What I’m having a bit of trouble gauging is my current fitness level.  I feel about as in shape as I was when I did the 122 miles as part of a duo, but possibly better.  At that time I really wasn’t in great shape.  The next year, when I did 87 miles as part of a 4-person team, I was definitely in better shape than I am now.

52 Mile Route

I talked with Chris Z about it today, and he seemed up for the event.  He’s done a number of longer road rides and noted, “66 miles on a mountain bike is a long way.”  Well, yes it is.  But the TOWM is on relatively tame trails.  At altitude for sure (7000+ feet), but nothing remotely technical.

For now, I’m inclined toward the 52 mile distance.  It offers some single track I have yet to ride, less forest roads than the 41 miler, and an added climb in the beginning to get me thinking, “Will I be able to finish?”, in the first 10 miles.  That’s what these events are all about.  Finding a way to finish.

A Relaxing Weekend in Pinetop

Sep 02, 2007 by Steve Belt in Family, General, Mountain Bike

Pinetop HouseMy family and my brother Robert’s family came up to our house in Pinetop for the long weekend.  It’s so relaxing up here, it’s tough to ever want to leave, and it makes us wonder why we don’t come up even more.  Our Pinetop house is at ~7000 feet, so temperatures are fairly cool.  It’s surrounded by tall ponderosa pine trees, and backs up to the tenth green of Pinetop Country Club, so temperatures are rarely much over 85, and this weekend, I don’t think the temp was every much over 75.

Robert and I went to ride the Country Club loop trail on Saturday, but unfortunately it started raining on the first go-round, so the plan to ride it twice (clockwise and counter) was cut in half.  That’s life during the Monsoon in Arizona. 

Earlier we had gone to the local Indian Casino and played in a poker tourney.  Robert was the first one eliminated, choosing not to throw another $30 at it and re-buy.  I lasted to around 15th place out of 35 or so, which was basically horrible, considering how weak the field was.  Still, at times you need to get some cards, and when I had cards, I just didn’t get the right action.  And when I got action, I had some brutal suck-outs against me.  Oh well.

Today, Robert and I decided to ride a bit earlier (around 2pm), hoping to get ahead of the afternoon Monsoon.   That seemed like a good plan, except it rained again right as we headed for the trailhead.  The light rain ended about the time we started our ride, but we rode through a bit of mud on the flatter sections.  The ride plan called for a ride on what I had heard was the White Mountain’s premier trail:  Los Burros.  Reviews were mixed, but I was hoping to finally find a trail up here that was enjoyable and repeatable.

Los Burros is a 14 mile loop.  The early mud had us both thinking we may have made a mistake attempting a ride, but alas, what mud there was wasn’t really that bad, and the ride turned out to be pretty good.  The scenery is nice, and the single track is truly special.  It’s that narrow single track that you just so rarely see any more.  Because of this, I did my very best to stay in the track, even when there was a little mud, rather than ride in the grassy track adjacent to it at times.  Riding in today’s conditions was certainly borderline.  I worried we’d damage the trail, but I really don’t think we did.  Much more rain though, and it would have been inconsiderate to ride.

As to the trail itself, I’d liken it to Pemberton in McDowell Regional Park.  A long loop, but for the most part a casual ride.  There were a couple of tasty sections, but they were short to be sure.  It seemed like we climbed for 10 or 11 miles, only to give back the elevation in a tremendous hurry.    One stretch of trail did work my lungs hard, even if it didn’t work my legs.  This is the first steep section of trail I’d found, here in the Pinetop area, so I was happy to find something that presented at least a bit of challenge.

The tour of the White Mountains uses all of these trails, plus some forest roads and more, which is a ride in early October I’m seriously considering.  The big decision would be which distance to attempt.  At a minimum I’d go for the 41 miler, but the 52 and 66 miler also seem appealing.  I’ve got until 9/8/07 to register, so I best get my act in gear and decide.

What does it take to make a blog?

Sep 01, 2007 by Steve Belt in Blogging, General

On my road to make my real estate blog, I took a couple of detours.  First I started with Blogger.com.  It was pretty easy to get set up, but I was having two problems.  The first was that I wanted to host the blog on my own server, but the publishing process didn’t seem to work very well.  The second, and more significant problem, was that a Blogger.com blog is a bit plain, and seemed lacking in comparison to other blogs I had seen.

 So I did what I should have done from the beginning, and fired up the Synaptic Package installer on my Linux box.  I recognize that you probably don’t know what that means, but Synaptic lists almost every bit of free software that you can get for a Linux Server.  It’s not a fairly nice search tool, so I searched for blog.  And near the end of the search I found WordPress

And thanks to their famous 5 minute install….5 minutes later I was up and running.  Well, almost.  But it was fairly easy to set up.  The hard part, is picking a theme.  There must be 100’s of themes you can choose from, and naturally none of them seem quite right.  But I found a theme I felt I could work with, and customized it over the course of a few days.  I also looked for plug-ins that would add custom features to the basic wordpress software, like SEO optimization, sitemap generation, and a different post editor.

I’m still looking to improve my blog’s look and features, but as they say, it’s good enough for now.  SideDoor, was substantially easier, since I knew how to do the setup.  It really came down to picking a theme.

If you want your own blog, Blogger.com is a good place to start.  But WordPress.com is also a good place to start.  Custom themes have a small cost at WordPress, but the software is substantially better.