Oct
13
2008
1

PDRater.com Facelift

New v5.0

New v5.0

First off, don’t be afraid, this is the same website you’ve come to know and love.  Change can be good!  Besides, this latest change is almost 100% cosmetic.

I have been meaning to change the entire look of PDRater.com for a while now.  Thus far I’ve been focusing on improving the workers’ compensation calculators and the website content.

Previously I showed the evolution of PDRater.com from a ridiculously ugly but useful website into a less ugly and more useful website.  Since these latest changes have been mostly cosmetic rather than functional, this should really be something like Version 4.647.  I figure with adding six new calculators in September and updating the look, I’ve earned the right to call this Version 5.0.

Besides, its my blog, right?

The last theme I used was based upon the fantastic WordPress Themer Kit, which is an incredible tool for people who either have little graphic design skill or who don’t want to build a new theme from scratch.  Ultimately, I just don’t have the skill, time, or inclination to build an aesthetically pleasing theme.  (But, let’s be real, its mostly the lack of skill thing).

That said, I am good at adjusting and incorporating.  The original Aeros theme looked significantly different than the one you see.  I’ve changed the background color, removed the slight transparency, highlighted the different sidebar sections, and moved the top menu to the left side.  Since the theme was open source, this mostly involved tinkering with the CSS and underlying PHP.

How do you like this new theme?  Shoot me an e-mail or leave me a comment.

Oct
07
2008
0

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Most people don’t even realize that they’re trend setters.  With the increase in online or website based programs, more and more people are turning to “cloud computing.”  This term refers to a process where all the computational heavy lifting is not performed on a user’s computer but rather an external computer.

Clouds, Computing?

Clouds, Computing?

The most common example of cloud computing is probably “Google Docs,” which is Google’s online suite of office productivity software.  It includes programs for spreadsheets, presentations, and of course document editing.  It can open and save in its own format, OpenOffice format, and Microsoft Office formats.  Even Adobe released a free online version of Photoshop.

Cloud computing is basically the process of outsourcing your math.  There are a lot of situations where this makes a lot of sense:

  • Money. Lower computing requirements mean you don’t need as powerful a computer, saving you money.
  • Money. Lower computing requirements also mean you won’t need to purchase an upgrade or new computer as often, saving you money.
  • Time. Nothing to install, upgrade, or troubleshoot.
  • Money. Web server updates mean you don’t have to purchase software upgrades, saving you money.
  • Scaling. Need another copy of a program?  Just fire up a new computer and launch a new web browser.
  • Fewer Resources. When the program never actually runs on your computer, it uses no memory.  When your computer isn’t working hard running a program, it uses less power.
  • More Resources. When the program is never installed on your computer, it uses no hard drive space.  On the flip side, many cloud computing programs allow you to save your work or files online – giving you more hard drive space than what’s on your computer.

So, how does all this technobabble about cloud computing apply to you?  Well, every time you use this website’s online web-based permanent disability calculators and EAMS search functions you’re letting my web server do the number crunching for you.

You’re, quite literally, letting me help you save resources, time, and money.

Oct
02
2008
2

Nerds Are The New Cool

Nerds

From Uncool Nerds...

Yeah, I said it. And, I don’t care that it sounds ridiculously self-serving. Frankly, I think iTunes, MySpace, and instant messaging are to blame. These three things, more than anything else, made computers cool.

You think mechanics and handymen were always considered cool manly-men?  No way.  First cars and home improvement had to be cool. THEN the guys who fix/maintain those things became cool.

There was a day when computers and the internet were only good for word processing and searching libraries.  When these things were not indispensable, there were no real uses for nerds.  You know, besides copying their homework.

I think the first time anyone ever thought I was cool for being a nerd was when I was in law school.  A fellow law student had a floppy disk (yeah, it was that long ago…) that stopped working.  The campus tech guys were unable to do anything about it.  I asked if I could take a look – and was able to recover the data.

To Cool Nerds

...To Cool Nerds

These days a nerd can save your iPod, iPhone, laptop, recover your lost passwords, convert your files, and set up your wireless network.  They keep your computers virus free, network humming along, and your e-mails arriving right on time.

Heck, sometimes they even build online web-based workers’ compensation calculators which crank out permanent disability ratings and let everyone use them for free.

So, why not hug a nerd today?

This Public Service Announcement has been brought to you by Huey Lewis and the News, because it really is “Hip To Be Square.”

Oct
01
2008
0

My Laptop Is Back!!!

My laptop is back, up and running!  I truly cannot explain just how happy I am that I have it back.

Scotty

Scotty

As I mentioned earlier, my laptop stopped working on the Sunday night before last.  The next day I stopped by a local Fry’s Electronics and picked up a hard drive enclosure for my laptop’s hard drive.  This solved my initial problem, being cut off from my data, by allowing me to schlep my laptop’s hard drive with me.  Even though I had my data with me, I didn’t have my laptop with me.  I constantly felt as if I had lost my wallet or cell phone.  A disconcerting feeling, to say the least.

On Friday afternoon I took my laptop to a local repair shop, Paramount Technology, and, after talking with the proprietor for a few minutes, left my laptop with them at about 12:30pm.  He estimated they might have it ready on Tuesday; Monday at the earliest.

They called my cell less than three hours later to tell me my laptop was fixed.

Everyone knows how Captain Kirk would ask the impossible of Scotty.  Like clockwork, Scotty would bitch and moan about how he could not perform the impossible.  And, yet, when crunch time came, the polarity was reversed, dilithium crystals realigned, and they had warp engines back on line.

They did a great job, warranting their work for 90 days, had my laptop repaired in record time, and didn’t scratch my baby.  (FYI, Dell offers a whopping 30 day warranty on their work.  In the words of Govenor Palin, “Thanks, but no thanks.”)

I don’t care if they were practicing “under promise and over deliver.”  Paramount Technology has earned my business and my recommendation.

Sep
30
2008
0

Best of September 2008

*PDRater up, the Dow down

PDRater up, the Dow down

September 2008 was a pretty good month for PDRater.com.  Yay! ((Original photo courtesy of Daniel Martini.  Mad photoshop skillz, all mine!))

Not so good for the economy. Boo! Perhaps this website needs a new, darker, tagline?  How about: “When you’ve lost everything else, you’ve still got PDRater.com”

Here’s my favorite posts from this past month.

I had the most fun with the “End of the World” posts from mid-September.  If you read nothing else, check out the one labeled, “The End of the World: A To Do List“.  That one is worth a look for my mad photoshop skillz alone.

For the more practical minded, the Road Warrior Checklists might be helpful.  I think I’ve got at least one more “Road Warrior Checklist” in me.  Also, I’ve provided some advice on what to do when your laptop stops working.

Six new calculators this month!

  1. Retroactive Benefits Calculator
  2. Convert WCAB and DWC “legacy” numbers into the new EAMS ADJ numbers
  3. Search with all EAMS registered Offices
  4. EAMS Body Part Codes search engine
  5. EAMS Document Type and Title search engine
  6. EAMS and DWC forms search engine

The World Ended on 9/10/2008

Laptop Repair Saga

Road Warrior Checklists

Virtual Real Estate (since the non-virtual kind is dead)

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