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Dallas cop who detained Ryan Moats should’ve been fired 3 years ago

You’ve probably heard by now of the latest incident of law enforcement ‘gone wild’ down in Texas. Apparently abusing pets doesn’t go far enough towards ‘protecting and serving’ the citizens of the Lone Star State–now they’re doing it to people. The newswire is abuzz with the story of how Officer Robert Powell of the Dallas Police is shown on his own cruiser’s videotape detaining a man for almost 15 minutes while his mother-in-law dies in the hospital in whose parking lot the entire debacle took place. Powell acts pretty stupidly throughout, is verbally abusive, and can be seen touching his gun menacingly. He ignores hospital staff’s pleas to let the man go see his dying relative, and even brushes off another police officer who tries to intervene on the man’s behalf.

Now, unfortunately for Officer Powell, the man in question was NFL running back Ryan Moats, and this incident has quickly put Powell in the national spotlight and the Dallas PD in a very bad PR situation. Add to this that Moats is black, and the accusations of racism have begun.

Now, I will say I am normally very, very skeptical when I hear that racism is involved simply because someone of one ethnicity did something bad to someone of another. So I decided to investigate. Here’s the scary thing…it seems Officer Powell was smart enough to set up a blog on xanga.com, and one of the entries that allegedly was pruned from his blog reads as follows:

Saturday, October 21, 2006

You drink, You drive, You rear end another car, You dont speak english, You smell like alcohol, You cant stand up straight, You cant walk a straight line, You go to jail!!!

Now, this scares the living crap out of me. Look at this list. All of the things are clear, definable crimes in our legal codes, except one. Not speaking English is NOT a crime in this country. Now, I will admit that Officer Powell seems to have taken down his xanga site as well as his MySpace page. I am going on the word of briancuban.com that the site rip of Officer Powell’s site is legitimate. However, a Google cached page that I found of Powell’s site does include this:

Monday, August 28, 2006
The count downs begin:
18 days of work then the real work starts and I can shoot people

Tuesday, September 26, 2006
So this is the day after my first day as police. First night was full of waiting for a wrecker, meeting a he/she, taking a guy to jail, known as Lew Sterrett, 911 hang up, and some BS security guys calls that people arnt going home. All in all it was fun, and I have to ask: they are paying me to do this?

Now, this cache is of March 27th, and Powell has clearly removed a bunch of the later content that might get him in trouble. However, the two statements above display what a disgusting human being Powell seems to be. He seems transvestites as sub-humans, is thrilled with the power of his gun, and shows a general lack of comprehension for the basic rules of English grammar, itself a crime according to the alleged statements on his blog.

What I want to know is: why didn’t the Dallas Police pay more attention to what Officer Powell was writing back in 2006? This man shows clear lack of respect for others, or any of the attitudes necessary for a police officer. He shouldn’t just be fired now for what he did to a celebrity, he should’ve been fired years ago for displaying his lack of moral fiber on the Internet for the world to see. It doesn’t help that now NFL linebacker Zach Thomas is saying his Latina wife Maritza was a victim of a Powell power-trip recently as well…

WordPress Plugin: Category Converter

Designed by the Armenian Eagle (Armenio to his friends), Category Converter is the only plugin you’ll ever need to keep your blog categories perfectly organized. This is pretty much the simplest and downright fastest way to convert categories in the popular WordPress blogging software. Not only does it allow you to move stories from one category to another, it also helps you easily reduce and combine existing categories that you may no longer need. Plus, it’s fast. Very. Fast.

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wordpress, plugin, wordpress plugin, category converter, convert categories, blog

WordPress blogging software administration on the Blackberry

The Blackberry: Sweet, juicy….Internet.
Blackberries

As PDAs and similar handheld devices continue to advance, it becomes more and more realistic to consider them in one’s site design, in order to reach the widest audience possible. Since I happen to have a Blackberry right now, I’ve been trying various sites in order to see what’s compatible and what fails miserably.

The usual suspects, such as Google and Gmail, performed flawlessly, as expected. The folks over at Google seem to a have a special little spot in their hearts for the mobile user, and their most popular offerings don’t disappoint in this regard.

Once I was sure that I’d maxed out my PDA’s capability to process client-side markup and scripting (you have to manually add JavaScript, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and XML support, otherwise you’re basically running Internet Explorer 4.0 on a teeny-tiny screen–a browsing experience that would make even the most desperate bsuite-hound run for the nearest Mennonite community), I headed over to this blog.

The front page loaded flawlessly, though it takes quite a while, and the Blackberry’s status bar indicates a laborious process of running scripts and proccessing CSS at what is, relatively, a snail’s pace. What surprised me the most was the appearance of a photo that went with one of the stories, nicely formatted and filling the screen. It’s easy to scroll through and read posts, click on related articles, and do pretty much anything else you’d want.

With the front page test complete, I tried logging in to the admin section. Navigating to /wp-admin yielded a standard userID/password dialog, and within 30 seconds, I was on the admin dashboard, free to click on any tab, change any options I wanted, and even post an article. As far as I can tell, WP works with the Blackberry, or rather, the Blackberry has no problems handling WordPress. It’s a far cry from the cell-phone internet I’m used to.

I plan to continue trying out sites to see where the Blackberry might get stuck. I’ll post if I find anything, and update this entry if I find any more significant sites or webapps that work.

UPDATE: I found a page with a really nice intro to CSS and web development on the Blackberry. Read about it here.

Editing WordPress QuickTags to automatically create captioned images

Filler Bunny: He takes up space
Filler Bunny

One of the best ways to add life to your blog posts is to include images with the text–your reader’s eye is naturally drawn to the large visual well before the text itself, and the addition of a picture can bring an element or realism to your post that would normally be missed. Many templates available on the web, however, fail to include a simple way to add captions to your images, limiting what you can do with them. For example, anyone posting a picture of, say, two dogs would be hard-pressed to indicate which was Rover and which Fido without the aid of a caption. The easiest solution is to place the image in a table with a caption, of course, but this adds several ungainly lines of code which you must type in by hand in order to add a single captioned image. Even copying and pasting, this method of posting captioned images is a serious pain at best.

Thanks to WordPressQuickTags (the row of buttons directly above the post content itself on the Write page), however, it’s relatively simple to edit the ‘img’ button to create custom captioned images.

First, replace the function edInsertImage in /wp-includes/js/quicktags.js with the following javascript:

function edInsertImage(myField) {
var myValue = prompt(‘Enter the URL of the image’, ‘http://’);
if (myValue) {
myValue = ‘<img src="’
+ myValue
+ ‘" alt="’ + prompt(‘Enter a description of the image’, ”)
+ ‘" />’;
myValue = ‘<table class="alignright" width="’
+ prompt(‘Enter the image width’, ‘250’)
+ ‘" border="’
+ prompt(‘Border size:’, ‘0’)
+ ‘" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0">’
+ ‘<caption align="bottom"><b>’
+ prompt(‘Caption:’, ”)
+ ‘</b></caption><tr><td>’
+ myValue
+ ‘</tr></td></table>’;
edInsertContent(myField, myValue);
}
}

Now, at this point, once you’ve replaced your current quicktags.js, the ‘img’ button on the write page may or may not do what you want it to do. Chances are that you’ll have to add to your CSS as well before you can reap the benefits of the modified ‘img’ button, though. If so, place the following in your template’s CSS sheet:

table.alignright {
padding: 4px;
margin: 0 0 2px 7px;
display: inline;
}

table.alignleft {
padding: 4px;
margin: 0 7px 2px 0;
display: inline;
}

That should do it. Now whenever you go to add an image with the quicktags img button, it will prompt you for all the appropriate parameters to create a nicely captioned image like the one above. Should you wish, you can add other elements to the javascript, such as the ability to choose the color of the photo’s border.

UPDATE: Make sure you refresh the ‘Write Post’ page of WordPress after you modifiy your quicktags.js file. Otherwise, the cached (unmodified) version will continue to be used.

WordPress Widgets now available for download

The WordPress development team announced the release of the new Widgets feature today. The idea behind these Widgets is apparently that they allow you to edit your blog’s formatting and design (in this case the sidebar) through a GUI, eliminating the need for coding knowledge. Although I’m a bit afraid that, like the WYSIWYG editor which made its way into WordPress 2.0, the new Widgets might prove more cumbersome than helpful, I also think it’s important to look at the big picture of blogging as it exists today. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there with excellent blog content and the crappiest looking template imaginable, because they lack the knowledge to edit the source code directly. This tool will help them incorporate the little additions and gadgets that make the blogging experience enjoyable for the reader, without forcing them to spend countless hours debugging changes on multiple browsers and multiple OS’s. Additionally, since WordPress claims that writing Widgets should be as easy as writing plugins, the open source world should soon be contributing a plethora of them to match the output of plugins that we currently see. I know that it’s popular to hate things like this within the IT community, where obscure wisdom is prized as a status symbol, and the general attitude is ‘if you can’t do it the hard way, you’re not worthy of doing it at all,’ but if Widgets can help expand the two-way communication that thrives on blogs, more power to ’em.

Importing Macromedia Fireworks HTML into WordPress 2.0

To create the previous post, I obviously needed to incorporate some Fireworks HTML into WordPress 2.0‘s post editor in order to show the example. Having long since given up on the WYSIWYG editor that shipped with this new release, I started by trying various methods to get the image into the post by cutting and pasting various bits of HTML and JavaScript from the fireworks .html source file. The most important thing to remember is that you need to include Macromedia’s JS functions in the header of your theme, as high up in the code as possible, but at least before the CSS. What you’ll need looks like this:

<script language="JavaScript">

function MM_findObj(n, d) { //v4.01
var p,i,x; if(!d) d=document; if((p=n.indexOf("?"))>0&&parent.frames.length) {
d=parent.frames[n.substring(p+1)].document; n=n.substring(0,p);}
if(!(x=d[n])&&d.all) x=d.all[n]; for (i=0;!x&&i

So, with functions firmly in place, I began cutting and pasting some more. The main issues with this approach which quickly made themselves apparent were:

  1. By default, the ‘post’ lives on the blog‘s root level directory, but the billions and billions of tiny .jpgs which make up the actual Fireworks-produced rollover image live in whatever directory you put them. Updating the links does nothing, since the rollover behavior is governed by JavaScript, and a simple find/replace can’t help you there.
  2. Even when you decide you’re willing to dump billions and billions of tiny images into your root blog directory, the image shows up waaaaay down the post, for no apparent reason.

In light of these problems, I finally threw up my hands and decided I’d insert the image into a simple Dreamweaver html page, put it to the server, load the page in a browser, select all, and paste the whole mess into the WordPress editor, only this time with the WYSIWYG turned on. Lo and behold, it works perfectly, rollovers and all (assuming the page with the image you create is in the same directory as the Fireworks HTML and images, and that you’ve added Macromedia’s JavaScript to your header). The fact that the html looks exactly the same as it does when you painstakingly insert it into the html post editor by cut and paste notwithstanding, none of the spacing issues remain. Simple and easy, and finally, a justification (at least for me) for the WYSIWYG (which is back off for this post).