Pope Francis: A Saint in the Making

Image from Facebook.

“St Francis of Assisi!” It was the first name I remembered and answered when, almost eight years ago, during our son’s baptism the priest asked us on the spot who would be that one saint whose life we would like our child to follow.

A saint whose name is associated with humility and the poor, St. Francis’ life is one of those inspiring stories I have read and heard both growing up with a pious mother and while taking my elementary and high school education in two Catholic schools. While I cannot recall now most of the details of St. Francis’ history he will remain to be among the ones that will immediately come up if I would be asked to name a great saint.

It was not surprising therefore to see the warm welcome the Filipinos gave when Pope Francis, the current head of the Catholic church, arrived in the Philippines on January 15, 2015. A man who days after he started to take his seat in Rome in 2013 soon became so loved and respected around the world as news spread fast about his charismatic character and exemplary leadership. He is a Pope who does not only declare that he is for the poor but he also lives the life of simplicity as reflected in his actions and policies.

Pope Francis radiates so much good energy that it is easy to get emotional merely knowing he has arrived. Frankly, last Wednesday I had to compose myself behind the wheel on my way to work when I  realized that my eyes are tearing up as I listen to the news on the radio that the Pope has finally stepped out of the Sri Lankan plane. I am quite sure I was among the millions who felt the same thing.

Today is Pope Francis’ last day in the Philippines but definitely many people will remember the time when a 78-year old holy man braved the country’s unpredictable weather just so he can make his presence felt by as much people he can. He spent four hectic days touching the lives and bringing hope to the Filipinos, near or far, often disregarding his convenience, security, itinerary. Such a good man. I bet that the right time will come when sooner or later we will get to know another St. Francis. God bless you Pope Francis. Bon voyage, mabuhay ka!

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Photo credit: PNoy’s Facebook.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Wishing the Pope a safe trip back to Rome.)

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Ugly is Sexy

I am back to using ugly permalinks. Last time I switched to a permalink setting that made my links look a lot better. For example, under the pretty permalink setting my first post this year would appear as https://marcuscanblog.com/when-how-are-you-is-good-enough/ instead of https://marcuscanblog.com/?p=1604 on the browser’s address bar. But while it makes the link appear neat it has its own drawback–it disables the archives widget which means that anyone trying to find an old posts (assuming there are people who want to) using the dropdown menu would be staring at a blank page. WordPress.org I know has a solution for this but for now ugly is sexy.

Time to Learn SEO Again

SEO starts to sound exciting once more. It could have been a year or more since I gave up on SEO because I just find it hard to understand. I once believe that knowing keywords and inserting them strategically in an article is SEO already. It was wrong, completely wrong. Keyword density wasn’t enough.

The problem with SEO is that there are so many people who claim to be experts. Tools and tips that these people recommend are either complicated or doesn’t work–at least for me. Some are just downright confusing that eventually made me stop caring much about driving traffic to my site. As long as I can write and post an article then I am already fine with it. Screw traffic.

But we need traffic and SEO drives blog traffic. Just this week I read The Next Web’s article titled SEO Simplified For Short Attention Spans. It is probably the most interesting article I have read about SEO to date. Maybe I have short attention span or maybe the explanations the article presents do make sense for someone who has given up on SEO. Or maybe it has something to do with my recent return to article writing, thanks to oDesk, which made me get interested about it again.

This week I look forward to spending time in front of our desktop and start all over again. The plan is to start looking into META and ALT tags which are the things I have ignored but could actually impact my site’s visibility. Wish me luck.

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First accomplishment was changing from ugly permalinks to pretty permalinks.  It pose a bit of challenge as the Dashboard is deceiving. It appears that it is a matter of just clicking on the radio button and save changes but it is not. The web.config.xml needs to be updated as well and WordPress.org forum has answers that could confuse further so below are two short steps to cut the chase.

Pretty permalink, ugly permalink, How to make pretty permalink work
How to change from ugly to pretty permalinks.

The original web.config.xml file contains the following below. Use an FTP client to save the file to your desktop.

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<configuration>
<system.webServer>
<rewrite>
<rules/>
</rewrite>
</system.webServer>
</configuration>

To make the permalinks work, what needs to be done is just to change the content to:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<configuration>
<system.webServer>
<rewrite>
<rules>
<rule name=”WordPress Rule” stopProcessing=”true”>
<match url=”.*” />
<conditions>
<add input=”{REQUEST_FILENAME}” matchType=”IsFile” negate=”true” />
<add input=”{REQUEST_FILENAME}” matchType=”IsDirectory” negate=”true” />
</conditions>
<action type=”Rewrite” url=”index.php?page_id={R:0}” />
</rule>
</rules>
</rewrite>
</system.webServer>
</configuration>

Overwrite original file by uploading it back to your WordPress directory. Bingo, pretty permalinks!

Source: http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Pacman-Algieri fight. And we need to be in Batangas for free cable.)

How to Quickly Align Text From PDF to Word

The afternoon schedule of my kid has given me the time to continue reposting old blog posts that I have saved using Feedfabrik. Without this application I would have lost everything I wrote since 2006 when I made a boo-boo during a WordPress upgrade about two years ago. (It’s a blessing in disguise though as I have discovered a LOT of embarassing grammar lapses.)

Copying and pasting, however, from PDF to Microsoft Word creates an alignment problem which I have been patiently dealing with for weeks already. Realizing that I have barely achieved a significant percentage of repost–my Feedfabrik proof PDF file has more than 1200 articles–I finally turned to the internet for help. Someone out there must have had the same issue. I was right.

Thanks to Superuser.com, I found the answer to my problem. And it’s a very simple one.  Shown below is a screenshot from my MS Word that shows the same set of text from my PDF file.

Don’t mind the excerpts, I’m about to edit it.

Upper half of the picture is how it appears when text is pasted directly from the Feedfabrik proof.pdf file.  Looks easy to align, right? But if there’s a thousand pages to deal with, trust me, it will drain anyone out.

The lower half of the picture is the way to go and it’s done using a neat trick from Superuser.com which I simplified below.

1) Copy text from PDF.

2) Paste text on Google search box (I assume this will work with any other internet browsers).  Do not worry about the length of the text, it doesn’t matter as the next step will get everything back.

3) Use CTRL+A (or CTRL+X) to copy every text you pasted on the search box.

4) Paste text on MS Word.

Take note though that if there are multiple paragraphs being copy and pasted, each paragraph has to be manually separated from the other. But this is something I can handle unless there is another trick to solve this.

Now where was I? Ah, December 22, 2006. Hmmm, bad grammars.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Still with runny nose after four days. I hope I’d be better tomorrow.)

An Apple A Day

I can’t remember the last time I got something pricey but I won’t even try to recall when or what it was. For now, I appreciate the fact that I now own my first Apple, albeit a hand-me-down. Thanks to you my Santa Clauses, it made me feel I wasn’t so naughty this year.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (First blog entry from my first iPad.)

Here’s a Briefer for Doomsday

Protect your precious head. Wear brief.

Here are top 5 reasons why you need briefs on doomsday:

1. Briefs can be used as masks (as illustrated).

2. Briefs can be good coffee filters (need I say preferably new ones?).

3. And depending on how you’ve stretched it, brief garters can be used to make slingshots;

4. But if you’ve ‘baconed’ them out, nobody would care so don’t throw them away. At least you won’t die naked.

5. Of course, other than being naked, you can call attention by having red and yellow briefs to create a semaphore flag.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (It’s not the end of the world that’s killing me, it’s boredom…and lack of sleep.)

GoDaddy: How to Solve 500 Internal Server Error

Let’s face it: Murphy’s Law is always waiting to rear its ugly head. In more blunt terms, shit happens.  And in blogging, the sight of a 500 Internal Server Error is one those dreaded errors capable of inducing cold sweat.  Take it from me because just this weekend, I came face to face with this depressing error once again, this time is for another reason but stupid rookie mistake nonetheless – I accidentally deleted the host database.

Was I able to recover from it? Yes and no. Yes, I was able to get my page back online. No, I lost all my blog posts.

So what did I do to resolve the problem?

1. Accepted fate. Two days after trying my luck by installing, de-installing, and re-installing WordPress 3.4.2 using Filezilla, I accepted the fact that this isn’t the solution. Time wasted but sanity recovered.
2. Gathered composure. After accepting the fact that I just wiped out years of blog posts, I gathered my composure and sought online help. While my search led me to a WordPress.Org help forum where the answers weren’t direct, it gave me a hint on what to check.
3. Created new database. From the emotional part comes the technical aspect of recovering from a 500 Internal Server Error. Based on experience, wherein I encountered compatibility issues between GoDaddy’s Domain and Hosting settings, I created another database with MySQL version 5. This one took only around 10 minutes to do.
4. Modified the file wp-config.php. Assuming that your GoDaddy FTP File Manager is set up properly, this step is surprisingly easy.  From the newly created database, I took note of three (3) items:  (1) DB Name (this is the usually the same as DB User), (2) DB Password, and (3) DB Host, and then placed these on the wp-config.php file. Here are the lines that need to be changed (underlined):

// ** MySQL settings – You can get this info from your web host ** //

/** The name of the database for WordPress */

define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘IAmACarelessBlogger‘);

/** MySQL database username */

define(‘DB_USER’, ‘IAmACarelessBlogger‘);

/** MySQL database password */

define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘IWillbeMoreCarefulNextTime‘);

/** MySQL hostname */

define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘ClickOnThePencilIconAndThisOneCanBeFoundBesideHostName‘);

5. Moved on. As expected, I opened my site and was welcomed by an entirely new page, fresh page, all blog posts gone. But there is no point in crying over spilt milk, or in this case a wiped out blog; so yes, moving on and starting all over again is the last step in this process.

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I am now trying to decide if I should continue catering nuffnand adds. About a month ago I checked and I have got some payment for having it on my blog – about 6 pesos. Yes, just 6 pesos.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (I heard my wife will be going to SM. Note to self: avoid the cashier near the men’s section.)