Archive for the 'General' Category


New domain name for the real estate blog

Oct 03, 2007 by Steve Belt in General

When I started the Phoenix Area Real Estate Blog I didn’t give much thought to the domain name.  Instead, I wanted it to be free, and since I had the domain, adding blog at the front was indeed free.

But since the blog is doing so well, it’s time to revisit that decision.  I’ve done some hunting around and found a name I like.  It becomes available in October, so with any luck I’ll get it.  I’m not going to share it now, on the off chance that the owner could somehow see it here, but the domain name does include Phoenix in it, which I think is important for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) reasons. 

I’ve also got my eyes on another domain name for a Scottsdale focused blog.  This blog would differ from my current blog, in that it would focus solely on Scottsdale news and real estate information, while the current blog is general to Phoenix, real estate, and even national content.  The blogging description for this new Scottsdale blog would be “hyper-local”, and I’ll do my best to stay on topic and up-to-date with useful content.

Halo 3 unleashed

Oct 03, 2007 by Steve Belt in General

This’ll be quick.  I purchased Halo 3 for the XBox 360 on Tuesday, unwrapped it and got busy.  Nice game.  Not much different than Halo 2, but you gotta love a game that has essentially no loading screens.  There seem to be more cut scenes in Halo 3 than in Halo 2.  Otherwise the action and play is about the same.

Viewed on my big screen in HD is really cool.  There are times when I’m honestly started by an attack from the site and jump out of my seat, due to the sound quality and immersion.

I was never a die-hard Halo fan, but it is a fun game for a first person shooter.  I suck at first person shooters, but Halo is very playable even still.

The Tour is 5 days away

Oct 01, 2007 by Steve Belt in General, Mountain Bike

Ok, the Tour of the White Mountains is just 5 days away, and I still haven’t selected a distance.  Unless my friend Chris Z goes and does the 52 miler, I’m leaning toward the 41 miler.  Right now, I’m feeling more concerned with finishing the event than pressing myself to my limits…although I don’t exactly know why that is.

Last weekend I got 2 nice training rides in.  The first was Pemberton to Windgate Pass.  I’ve been looking up at Windgate Pass almost daily since it was built, and every attempt at making it to the top from the West side has failed.  So I tried it from the East side, via Pemberton, and while the final 3/4 of a mile is anything but ridable for a normal human, after riding 10 miles to get to that point, I wasn’t about to give up with the top in sight.

Sunday’s ride was out at Usery Park, doing the Pass Mountain trail.  This trail is listed at just 7.1 miles,but somehow it took me 2 hrs to complete.  Imagine that pace for 50 miles?  Fortunately Pass Mountain isn’t representative of the type of trail we’ll see next weekend.  What it is, however, is a total body workout.  That trail will test your balance, your nerve, your upper and lower body strength, and darned near every other skill necessary to be a good mountain bike rider.

Here are some trail side photos I took with my new Canon SD870is (click to enlarge):

Pass Mountain Trailhead

Ledgy Climb at Pass Mountain

Backside of Pass Mountain

The “top” at Pass Mountain

Changed the header image

Oct 01, 2007 by Steve Belt in Blogging, General

Friday night I sat on the roof of the office and shot photos for 45 minutes as the sun went down.  Then I doctored and toyed with them, and finally selected this image for the new banner image on the real estate blog:

 Phoenix Area Real Estate Blog Header Image

What do you think?

Need to develop a logo for my real estate blog

Sep 27, 2007 by Steve Belt in General

Phoenix at NightThe banner image for the Phoenix Area Real Estate Blog is a photo that I took of the Grand Canyon.  It’s a nice photo, and I like it a lot.  But it really isn’t anything Phoenix Related.  I need to fix that.  I’m contemplating a night shot from the roof of my office that would include Camelback Mountain, Squaw Peak, and the 101 Freeway.  A long exposure would get some cool headlights going by on the freeway.  I just need that perfect night when the clouds are just right to really set it off. 

The photo would be similar to this photo (which I also took), which includes Camelback, but not Squaw Peak.  That’s my idea anyway.  If you’ve got a better idea for a photo that says Phoenix and Scottsdale, let me know.

Phoenix LogoAnother thing I’d like to create is an avatar or icon for the blog that isn’t just my face.  I mean, I absolutely love my face (all sarcasm included), but I’d prefer something again that’s a little more Phoenix-y.  The cactus has been done to death, so I’m kinda thinking a bit more in the vein of the Phoenix Logo, possibly merged in with a housing logo…still thinking on that too, but any advice here would also be appreciated.


Copyright notices on my feed

Sep 26, 2007 by Steve Belt in General

I’m testing the addition of copyright notices on my feed.  If you are subscribing to my feed, you’ll notice a new copyright notice at the end of the post. This should be considered “normal”.  By adding this copyright notice, I can determine if anyone was to steal my feed, since it links to my site and Google and WordPress do a fantastic job of alerting me when about incoming links.

To enable this copyright notice, I’m using the Feed Footer plug-in by Sherief Mursyidi.  Assuming this works, I’ll add this plug-in to the Phoenix Area Real Estate Blog as well.

Opened the box on my PS3

Sep 20, 2007 by Steve Belt in General

Sony PS3I think it was early December when I was in Best Buy and they set out about a dozen PS3’s.  PS3’s were very rare, and while I didn’t really have any personal interest in one, I figured I could make a few dollars hocking one on craigslist or ebay.

When I get it to the office, and find out I could make at best $50 more than I paid for it, which was around $500, I figured that in the end it wasn’t really worth my time to try to resell it.  I decided instead that I’d wait for a compelling game, which was surely around the corner….so the darned thing sat in the garage, in its unopened box until yesterday.

I waited and waited for a game to be released that I felt I wanted to play enough to get me to open it, and finally that game was released:  Heavenly Sword.  I picked up Heavenly Sword, which has been fairly well hyped on TV, and decided this would be the game.  Still not sure if the game was good enough to go through the bother, but I’d waited long enough.

The good news, is that to hook up the PS3 would force me to do some re-cabling of my media room, a project that is long overdo.  My Meridian 861 processor has a component video switching card, but I’d never used it, as I’d never felt compelled to bother with the extra cabling.  Instead, I’d down converted my Xbox 360 to SVideo and run that through my Meridian 598DP, then out that via HDMI to the projector.  The cable box was being output in component video direct to the project, but all along really should have gone to the 861 along with component outputs from the Xbox, so that the 861 could do the video switching it was capable of.

So now needing to hook up the PS3, and definitely sure this new game had to be seen in Hi-Def, I finally did the re-cabling through the 861.

And boy was the re-cabling worth it.  That new game on the PS3, as seen on my projector, is a thing of beauty.  There are cut shots galore with full motion capture-style CGI videos that are definitely the best ever seen before.  The game play itself was alright (not great), but the “video” is killer.

I haven’t fired up the Xbox since re-cabling, but I’m sure I’ll be pleased with the results, and kicking myself for having not done it ages ago.  At least the Xbox is now ready to be the proper recipient of Halo 3 next week.

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. 

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.