Author Archives: jgirardi69

3 Box Layout

6 Popular Website Designs to Inspire You

Popular Website Designs

It can be the toughest yet most fun part of designing your website and that is deciding on a layout.  The choices are endless from simple yet clean designs to elaborate multi-box web designs.  What may work for one website project, may not work for another website project.  It is why it is so important to plan ahead when deciding on what popular website designs you would like to incorporate in your next project. Continue reading

web hosting

Web Hosting Services and How They Help You

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Grass Island in the distance

First Overnight Sailing Adventure 05/23/2015

Just starting out

Just starting out

Oh this adventure started long before we left the docks for this was our first attempt to use the sailboat overnight.  So much to do and think about prior to out departure.  Normally we would prep a cooler with some snacks and sandwiches, but now we had to consider not just extra meals, but bedding, clothes and any extra equipment we may need.  When we purchased the boat in 2013, one of the extras on board was a Magma BBQ set.  However the previous owner shared with me that the BBQ set was missing some pieces.  Great, I’m brand new to boating and now I have to figure out what is missing from this BBQ.  Since it wasn’t urgent in the learning curve in 2013, I left it off until I knew we were going to need it.  I thought that if we wanted something hot to eat for dinner this trip, we would need the BBQ.  So after ten other things were completed to prepare for the trip, I went down to West Marine with the Magma BBQ in hand.

I patiently waited in the BBQ aisle of West Marine while another customer occupied the salesperson for what seemed like 20 minutes.  I peeked out of the aisle for more help but stayed close thinking that this other customer has to be done sooner or later.  Eventually another salesperson saw me and asked if I need assistance.  “Yes please”, as I put down the mostly clean but still old and used BBQ on the floor and showed the salesperson what I had and then said, “ok now what am I missing”?  Luckily the Magma BBQ doesn’t have many parts and the salesperson figured out that we were missing the regulator.  A trip to the computer to make sure that we had the right regulator and that it was indeed in stock and we were set.  Yes!  Got all the pieces connected and just needed the propane to go with it.  I told myself that I would test the BBQ at home before using it on the boat.  I didn’t want a mishap on the boat with the BBQ.  Tested perfectly and now could check off another item from the list.

Olivia and I

Olivia and I

When you watch these survivor-type reality shows on TV, completing small tasks feel like major victories and definitely boost morale.  For me, waking up the next morning of this trip and being able to have a hot cup of coffee was going to be one of those victories.  On board we have a two burner alcohol stove.  I recalled bringing it home in 2013 and cleaning it up, but I didn’t recall actually using the stove considering that I didn’t have denatured alcohol.  I never even heard of denatured alcohol before buying the boat.  Since it was near the propane section at West Marine, thought might as well grab some too.

We were introduced to the South Bay Cruising Club by a gentleman that was around when I was down at the boat doing some work.  It was the reason why we were doing this overnight trip.  The club does a “rendezvous” almost every weekend during the sailing season.  What better way to do our first overnight than with other people nearby to help?  I mean I did suggest sleeping on the boat one night in our slip, but we have the boat at a yard, not like a full service marina, so it would be like taking a camping trailer to the mall parking lot and sleeping there overnight.  It’s doable but not really adventurous.

20150524_101943

Jay and Stephanie taking Olivia to see a dog on another boat

Oak Island Lead is west of the Robert Moses Bridge in the Great South Bay.  This was our first trip west of the bridge and boaters on the south shore of Long Island know that there are many shallow spots and shoals that you have to be cautious of, especially sailboats that draw more than 3.5’ of water.  We were told by the people hosting this rendezvous that we should only get into Oak Island Lead during high tide.  High tide for this trip was going to be around 4pm.

When I prepped for the trip, I checked the chart and my GPS to plot the course.  We would do our normal departure from our canal and then head west under the Robert Moses Bridge until we hit the State Channel and follow that south past a couple of smaller islands, including Oak Island.  Around the south side of the island there would be some houses then a cove where the other boats would be anchored.  Oh, not only would we be doing our first overnight on the boat, but we would be doing it at anchor too.  Our sponsors for the club gave us some tips for the channel via an email the night before.  I read it but I should have printed and brought with me (sound like some foreshadowing to you?).

 

On the morning of the trip, I was wide awake at 5:30am.  This early wake up is not uncommon for me.  Not sure why my internal alarm goes off so early, it just does sometimes.  The early rise out of bed was well needed anyway since I wanted to bring gear to the boat before bringing the family and food down there.  A part of my Spring cleaning was to bring home the anchors and clean up the rode and lines for the anchors.  Sitting in the anchor locker all winter caused some corrosion to the anchor chain and line.  One item that I had purchased in the Spring was an anchor holder for the pulpit.  I figured at least this way the anchor wasn’t sitting in an inch of water at the bottom of the anchor locker.  So that had to be installed also that morning.  After completing the anchor holder and setting up the anchors, I put the BBQ away along with the propane and denatured alcohol.  Now back to the house to pack my clothes, food and family.

Olivia with her bedtime entertainment.

Olivia with her bedtime entertainment.

Moving about the house was like being in a tiny supermarket.  I grabbed food and supplies from the cabinets and pantry like I would go through a supermarket when you are hungry.  I knew I was over-packing but better to have than not to have.  Timing would be key as I knew that I wanted to get to Oak Island during high tide.  If we left the house at 12pm and then left the dock at 1pm that would be ample time to get there before high tide.  Everything is packed and we were off to the boat.

Everything is aboard, sail cover off, sheets ready, halyards ready, oil checked, gas checked, water tank filled, we are good to go.  Out of the channel, we begin to set the sails.  Hoist we go as the main and head sail luff in the lightest of breezes.  Hmmm, this sail may take longer than expected.  Either that or we will be motor-sailing.  With the winds coming from the north, northwest, we didn’t feel the winds until we were clearer of the canal.  Then wham!  Now we are in 15-20 knot winds that were pretty much right in our face from the west.  My wife is not the greatest of travelers on a sailboat and it was best to roll the head sail and lower the main sail and power our way upwind.

20150524_091915

Robert Moses Bridge in the distance

An hour of motoring along and we passed under the Robert Moses Bridge.  Another 30 minutes and we were in the State Channel heading south towards Oak Island.  Keeping one eye on the channel markers and the other on the GPS, we made our way south.  Here is where the real fun began.  The channel is narrow, but not impossible.  As we motored down the channel, we gingerly passed Grass Island, then came up to where 2 channels crossed.  Now if you look at the chart and you look at your GPS, both will state that the deeper water is towards this platform in the middle of the channel.  What I didn’t do is review the email that I received stating to keep right of the platform.  I thought it said, “keep the platform to the right”.  Boom, there’s the bottom.  OK, reverse and let’s get off this shoal.  Once the brain locks in on one then, it’s tough to convince yourself that your brain is not right.  We turn around and go back to deeper water.

20150524_091843

Houses along the south side of Oak Island

The funny part about the Great South Bay and its channels are that the channels can be 10’-20’ deep but stray outside the channel and you are in 2’ of water.  Unfortunately we aren’t in the Caribbean where the water is crystal clear and you can see 40’ deep. We attempted a few more times (I really embarrassed to say how many times) before we said, “forget this, let’s just go home”.  So we start back up the channel towards the bay.  On the horizon (well not that far) was a sailboat heading into the channel.  It had to be Jay and Stephanie.  They mentioned that their boat had red bottom paint.  When they got closer, we yelled out that we bottomed out a couple of times.  They said, “ok, just follow us in, we will lead the way”.  We reluctantly turned the boat around and headed south again.  But they are now 50-100 yards ahead of us.  As we try to catch up, boom!  There’s the bottom again.  I don’t get it, they just sailed through the channel but yet we bottomed out again.  “I’m done with this” as I put the boat in reverse yet again and turn her towards home.

A minute or two go by and I look back and see the red sailboat heading in our same direction.  We were monitoring the radio and the cell phone and saw that I had a missed called from Stephanie.  Called her back but no answer but they are still heading in our direction.  I slow the boat down and contemplate with the wife our options, “Do you want to try ONE more time?”  Well we came this far, might as well try again.  Turned the boat to the south again and met up with them.  This time we were going to stay right on their tail.  Another couple of harrowing minutes through the channel by the same platform, but this time we were victorious!  We made it through the channel and made our way around to the south side of Oak Island.  Quick check of the depth finder and we are good, plenty of water between us and the sandy bottom of the channel.  Almost there!

The other boats of the rendezvous

The other boats of the rendezvous

As we approached the other boats that arrived earlier that day, Stephanie told us that they were going to raft up next to another boat and once set, then we can move in to raft up as well.  But in the meantime, we should hold still until they are set.  After a few minutes go by, I’m trying to figure out what is taking so long.  Then Jay and Stephanie head back our way and state that the boat they are trying to raft up to is too close the shallows and needs to move further south, but they are going to put down anchor, then we can raft up to them when set.

There’s the signal, we move forward to approach their boat.  However, it looks like the boat that was repositioning itself is now stuck on the bottom.  “Don’t be too obvious, but look over there”, I tell my wife, “We aren’t the only ones who hit bottom”.  Fenders out, lines ready, and we raft up with no issues.  As we breathe for the first time in about 45 minutes, I see Jay getting his dinghy ready so we can help out the other boat that is now aground.  I quickly volunteer to join him as well assess the situation.

Other boat that is now aground, is a 36’ boat and its owner has made his way into the water, about waist high.  Not sure what he will be able to do from there but now that we are there to help, he moves back into his boat.  Another boat on this rendezvous is a sailing trawler and its owner offers to pull him off to deep water.  From the dinghy, we run a rope from the trawler’s stern to the bow of the other boat.  The trawler fires up its engines and slow pulls the slack from the rope and now edges forward to move the boat.  More power, not much going on.  A little more power and the bow of the sailboat starts to swing towards deeper water.  But it still takes even more power to nudge the boat off the shoal and free it from the sandy bottom.  Everyone back to their respective boats and let’s officially get this rendezvous started.

Trawler helping to get the sailboat off the shallows

Trawler helping to get the sailboat off the shallows

In case you were wondering what happened the next day.  I did get my cup of coffee  made on the alcohol stove and as for navigating the skinny channel, we followed behind a veteran sailor who knew exactly where to hug the coast and where to stay away from the coasts of Oak Island and Grass Island.

20150524_091354

Cold morning but who cares, I got my cup of coffee and Olivia some hot chocolate

 

Mobile-Friendly

How to Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

Google has announced that not having a mobile-friendly site could hurt your ranking.  With over 184 million people owning smartphones, it’s the people’s choice when it comes to browsing and searching.  And Google is 4th on the list of most popular apps that people use on their smartphones.  So it is no surprise that Google is changing their algorithms to “reward” mobile-friendly sites by bumping them higher in the rankings. Continue reading

SEO – What Are The Meta Tags ‘NOODP’ and ‘NOYDR’ Used For

In doing some website research and SEO research, I came across a couple of sites that have the following <meta> in their source code:

<meta name=”robots” content=”NOODP, NOYDIR” />

In a recent article, I wrote about how to set up your meta data for your site but I didn’t discuss the ‘robot’ meta tags.  Basically this <meta> tag tells the “internet robots” what to do with your site, like FOLLOW, NOINDEX, INDEX, NOFOLLOW.

These tags go in-between your <head> & </head> tags.

So what are NOODP & NOYDIR ? Continue reading

facebook pic

I Guess We Are Pissing Facebook Off

Facebook LawsuitThe privacy “chain-mail” that is being posted on Facebook recently is useless as we all have agreed when we signed up for Facebook that we will abide by the legal terms of the company’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

As the power of Facebook increases and we (as the little people) fear our personal property will be forfeited to the Goliath, people have been taking a stand posting a “legal” statement to their profiles.

The letter going around on Facebook is:

Due to the fact that Facebook has chosen to use software that will allow the theft of my personal information, I do declare the following: on this day, 30th November 2014, in response to the new Facebook guidelines and under articles L.111, 112 and 113 of the code of intellectual property, I declare that my rights are attached to all my personal data, drawings, paintings, photos, texts etc… published on my profile since the day I opened my account. For commercial use of the foregoing my written consent is required at all times.

By this release, I tell Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, broadcast, or to take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The actions mentioned above apply equally to employees, students, agents and/or other staff under the direction of Facebook.

The contents of my profile include private information. The violation of my privacy is punished by the law (UCC 1 1-308 – 308 1 -103 and the Rome Statute). Facebook is now an open capital entity.

Those reading this text can copy it and paste it on their Facebook wall. This will allow them to place themselves under the protection of copyright. If you have not published this statement at least once, you will tacitly allow the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile update.

The agreement, when we signed up, states that the company has the right to use your content commercially and does not need to seek your “written consent” to use the content.

So to protect your privacy, make sure you don’t post anything, anywhere on the internet that you want to keep private.  And as for this “chain-mail” going around, it’s worthless to keep posting and reposting the privacy post.

Haha, share this with your friends and make it a “chain-post”

 

house fire from 9 volt batteries

9 Volt Batteries Can Burn Down A House

house fire from 9 volt batteriesThis is for everyone who keeps batteries in their home.  A 9 volt battery, if stored improperly can start a fire pretty quickly.  Watch this YouTube video and see what happened to a nice home in just minutes.  The unsuspecting home-owners had no clue that a fire could start so quickly from just throwing old 9 volt batteries into a paper bag.

Make sure you store your 9 volt batteries safely.  The end of the video shows the proper way to store your 9 volt batteries so that what happened to this nice home in CO doesn’t happen to you or your family.

video courtesy of UltraSharpVideo

Please share with your friends and family.  Be safe this holiday season.

aircraft_carrier_model

Remote Control Plane Launched From Model Aircraft Carrier

Being a former sailor in the United States Navy and serving on an aircraft carrier (CV-43), I appreciated this video that was done by RapidNation.  They built a model aircraft carrier and successfully launched an RC plane from it.  It took a couple of tries to get a successful launch, but they did it.  They even had a camera below decks in the catapult steam room and even some steam coming from the “cat-tracks”.

Their next project is building a landing system or for us sailors, “arresting gear”.  You can see more of their action at: http://www.rapidnation.com.

 

Outside_Miter_Cuts

The Simplest Mitre Cut Chart and Diagram

I recently did some improvements around the house.  My wife and I took down some floor-to-ceiling mirrors in the living room.  Repainted the room, installed one of the windows sideways and framed it in pine.  Article on that project coming soon.  Another added feature was adding crown molding around the living room and eating area.

I’m no stranger to wood-working, in fact I have built quite a few items in recent years but this was the first time that I was installing crown molding.  So like most of my computer skills that I have learned over the years, it was to the computer to find some tutorials on how to set up the saw for crown molding mitre cuts.

Outside_Miter_CutsI must have searched through at least 20 websites trying to find the right settings.  Oh the settings were out there, but it seemed so complicated.  They had bevel angles and mitre angles for every conceivable angle.  I’m trying to do a few inside corners and a few outside corners, why soooo many angles?

Then I went to the saw, I remembered that the saw had a little diagram on it.  Perfect!!!  I don’t know who wrote/drew that diagram.  Nothing was coming close to lining up the right way.  In fact, after following it step by step for an inside corner, the outcome I got was for an outside corner.  Ugh!!  OK, let’s take a look again and try the directions for an outside corner, maybe that will produce an inside corner.  Nope, didn’t work.  Frustration mounts higher and higher and my moldings become shorter and shorter.

Back inside and back to searching more tutorials and videos.  I finally come across one video, and unfortunately I didn’t bookmark his video, but I did draw on a piece of scrap paper the simplest of directions that he posted.  Back to the garage for a test run.

Viola!!!  It worked on the first try!!!  New found excitement and back inside to install the crown.  And no matter, do not lose that piece of scrap paper.

Here’s the steps that I did to set up and never make another cut in the wrong direction:

  1. The Bevel Set Up:  My saw has a “stop” for the bevel angle at 33.8 degrees (once it’s set, it stays the same)
  2. The Mitre Set Up:  My saw has a “stop” for the mitre angle at 31.6 degrees (left or right depending on the mitre cut in diagram)
  3. The molding lays flat on the saw no matter which corner is being cut.
  4. See diagrams below to set the direction of the saw blade.

Inside_Miter_Cuts

Outside_Miter_Cuts

Now I know that we didn’t account for spring angles and we didn’t set up for non-45-degree angles.  I needed to put crown up in a rectangle room with a flat ceiling.  I had a couple of outside corners to deal with because of a heating duct.  All-in-all, once I had my cheat sheet, I didn’t waste anymore crown.  I hope this helps you if you are a first timer to installing crown molding.

Feel free to print out the two images above and keep near your saw for future reference.