Archive for the ‘Website’ Category

For the latest updates, go to www.ChrisMartinComedy.tumblr.com.

Logo for the concrete5 content management system
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The stand-up comedy scene in Richmond, Virginia continues to progress: more open mics such as the ones at Strange Matter and City Dogs, more showcases put on by people such as Kenny WingleDave Hamrick and Odyssey Michaels. My own contribution to the scene, aside from performing, has been to start Salty Tongue Records at Last.fm to feature comedians from Richmond and elsewhere. I recently invested in a Sony digital recorders which has resulted in a definite improvement in quality over my previous recordings.

I’ve been looking around for ways to help take the RVA comedy arena to the next level. I’ve had several ideas but they’re probably my capabilities at this point. One possibility that did seem possible without too much effort or money invested was a website devoted to RVA comedy. It also seemed like a good way to get some practice before moving on from this blog to a full-fledged website. My drawback is that I’m not a particularly good web designer but there’s only one way to get better, dive in and start thrashing around.

After getting the domain name, my first step was to try and install Concrete5, a CMS which has quite a bit of good word of mouth. I got nowhere with a manual install but managed to install it using a script from Simplescripts. However, even though I was able to access the dashboard for Concrete5, I still couldn’t get into edit mode so I uninstalled it. It looks like I will use WebPlusX2 from Serif, a WYSIWG editor, sort of a poor man’s Dreamweaver.

My plans are to have a directory of profiles of comedians in Richmond,  maybe a featured comedian of the month, a schedule of shows, an open mics page, a forum, resources, a history page, photo galleries and an alumni page for comedians who have moved on like Steven Bryant. I’m sure I’ll be able to come up with some other features as time goes on. My thought is that it will be fairly static, more like a billboard along the highway, rather than something that is constantly updated like a blog.

Here’s the link to the site: http://rvastand-up.com.

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Ubuntu wordmark official
Image via Wikipedia

As with everything else, comedy has migrated to the World Wide Web: videos, blogs, podcasts, etc., etc. Comedians are using social media to promote themselves, Twitter to broadcast one liners and so on. With the Internet a lifeline to the outside world, the thought of losing that connection makes me queasy. In my case, my connection is an aging IBM ThinkPad T42 laptop. This raises the possibility that the ThinkPad might die on me and I might have to replace it, which would mean I would lose momentum while I scraped together enough money for a replacement.

Actually, I have another computer which did go south, a Dell Latitude C600 laptop. This wheezing wonder with a 750 MHZ Pentium III, 256K ram, a 20 gig hard drive and Windows XP was surprisingly capable despite its limitations. I was able to do do a lot of volunteering for the Obama campaign through this machine, most notably making thousands of phone calls on Skype during the primaries and the general election. It took a long time to boot and did a lot of disk thrashing because it used the hard drive for virtual memory but it got the job done, albeit slowly. Early in the year I had it, the external sound went out. Like a trouper, it managed to hang on until after Obama got elected.

What felled it wasn’t hardware but software. I installed a free anti-virus program and apparently pressed the wrong button. Afterwards, the program always stalled out while trying to boot. Unfortunately, the Dell was a refurb without Windows reinstallation disks I got from a local computer store. If I’d known enough, what I would have done is buy Acronis True Image first thing and an external drive. That way, I could have backed up the fresh copy of Windows XP before I installed all the bells and whistles that brought it low. Live and learn.

Only sometimes you don’t. In January of 2009, I replaced it with the ThinkPad, once again without reinstallation disks. By then, I had an external drive and Acronis but didn’t think to back up a fresh copy. I may be slow but I’m not stupid. Next time, if I get a refurb, it will be with reinstallation disks or I will back up a mint OS with Acronis. I’ve found a friendlier local dealer who actually seems to want people’s business (Adam Bell of ALBTech of Richmond, VA).

That brings me around to  more than a year on clock for the ThinkPad and uneasily contemplating that it might be time for another meltdown, whether hardware or software. I was reading an article on MakeUseofIt.com about recovering documents from a machine that won’t boot Windows. One strategem they mentioned was booting from a Ubuntu Linux live CD. It was then that a light clicked on in my head. Why not install Ubuntu on the Dell? That way, I would have a back-up computer I could use until I got another Windows machine if the ThinkPad gave up the ghost.

I downloaded and burned a copy of Ubuntu and installed it without a hitch although it took a long time to install. Wonder of wonders, the sound started working again. Ubuntu was even able to download a driver for my Linksys WiFi card. Although I was able to find a driver for my Epson inkjet printer, it doesn’t work with the scanner. The only real fly in the ointment was the screen resolution was now at 800×600. It took about a week  or two of rooting around on the Internet to find a solution which bumped the resolution up to 1024×768. About a week after I installed Ubuntu, I ran into a kernel panic, the equivalent of the Windows blue screen of death, after a week but I haven’t had any problems since then. There have been several updates to the OS since, an easy process, and I haven’t had any problems since.

Ubuntu boots in about a minute compared to Windows XP on the Dell which took 20 minutes if not longer. However, it can’t turn a frog into a prince. Streaming video is jerky and Netflix Watch Instantly probably still wouldn’t work. The processor and disk are simply not up to the task.

The software you can download though Ubuntu is free. This includes the usual suspects such as Open Office and the GIMP. I haven’t found a video editor worth using in Linux but I will admit I haven’t tried that hard. The variety of software available through Windows isn’t there in Linux. The amount of features and polish isn’t what you get in Windows. I haven’t found the equivalent of Serif Publisher, Magix Audio Cleaning Lab or SoundSoap.

My verdict: if you have a brand-name desktop or laptop lying around that can’t be upgraded to Windows 7, you may want to give Ubuntu a try. I’m not sure I would want to use Ubuntu as my main computer operating system, though. As an alternative,  a backup or a glorified MP3 player, it works just fine.

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Still bouncing around the Internet, trying to find a good platform for a stand-up comedy web site. My first effort was a hosted site at GoDaddy using Serif’s WebPlus but I ran into WSYWIG problems with audio and video.  On to Weebly but I ran into limitations with sizing photos correctly. The blog wasn’t industrial strength. The blog doesn’t have a blogroll built into it unless you count Delicious but you can’t break it down into categories.

I liked the ability to bypass GoDaddy’s ads by rerouting the DNS to Weebly. You can do that for free on Weebly but it costs extra at WordPress. You can’t upload audio to WordPress without paying extra as with Weebly. WordPress has a nice feature integrated in that you can tweet your blog posts. Weebly allows you to use Google AdSense but the day I make any money using Google AdSense is the day I’m on David Letterman (insert your own joke here, heh, heh).

Mandy Stadtmiller
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Three Richmond stand-up comedians who are using WordPress to host their web sites: Blake Midgette, Jared Cullum and Tim Wood. Molly Buckley of the improv group Made of Bees uses WordPress and she’s a social media goddess.  Three comedian tweeps that have rockin’ web sites: Mandy Stadtmiller, Paul Mercurio and Joe Klocek but they probably have the money to pay someone to do it for them.

On my list of things to do: install some widgets and customize the header.

In other news, it looks like I’ll be hitting 200 followers on Twitter. To paraphrase the old blues song, if it weren’t for affiliate marketeers, SEO gurus and MLMers, I wouldn’t have any followers at all.

Let’s have a moment of silence for GeoCities, where I got my start building web sites.

Written while listening to Bob Welch on YouTube.

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