Rabid Bats

Recently there was a paragraph in the paper about my neighborhood saying that a rabid bat had been found in someone’s house. I then made a question about this the first post on the new local bulletin board to see if I could find any additional information about it. I didn’t, but one person responded and that made me go look up more information. It’s not that I was worried about it, I had just never heard of rabid bats being a problem and wondered it if was just fear mongering or a legitimate public health concern.

I found an excellent page at the CDC’s website about bats and rabies and was very surprised to find that most cases of rabies in humans are caused by bats! Not dogs, not raccoons, but bats. So it is a more serious problem than I originally thought, though rabies still isn’t all that widespread. I imagine that one reason it can be a problem is that bats are pretty small and the sick bats are more likely to get in your house or come out during the daytime. Then people try to move them and, BAM! bat bite.

Meeting the Neighbors

The city commissioner that I wrote to about setting up a bulletin board, mentioned me starting the board in his electronic newsletter on Friday. About 10 people signed up that day and I picked up a few more yesterday. I figure about 20 people is the critical mass where they can get conversations going and get some word of mouth (it shows 19 users right now, but 3 of those are me). Also if you Google “Avondale Estates forum” (not in quotes) then the page shows up on the first page of results. So Google at least has me indexed.

 

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The manual process of activating members has been fun. I send a standard e-mail to people who have signed up asking them for their real name, address, and phone number. This verifies who they are (kind of; I’m not actually calling them so they could be faking, but I do look up the name and address in the city directory), but more importantly if I ever have to kick them off prevents them from signing up again.

I also got to hear from some interesting people. One guy is a photographer who has a blog where his most recent post exclaims his first tomato of the season. Except because he is a professional photographer, it is the best picture of a tomato you could ask for. Another person works at the Atlanta Opera (not a performer). So it has been kind of neat getting to know people even though I haven’t met any of them.

Avondale Bulletin Board

For a while the city of Avondale Estates had a community bulletin board on its website. It wasn’t all that active, but it was a good place to go for information sometimes and every now and then there would be a good discussion. But about a year ago, the bulletin board was removed and it looks like nothing has taken its place. I know one of the city council members was active on that bulletin board, so I looked up his e-mail address and asked him if there was a new one. He said he had invited people to start their own Yahoo or Google groups when the city pulled their site, but it doesn’t look like there is anything all that active except for a few very specific uses.

Based on my experience with the Engineer’s Association bulletin board, I knew it wouldn’t be that hard to get a domain and install some bulletin board software. avondaleestates.com has been taken for a while, but I thought lakeavondale.com would be a good substitute since the lake is kind of a place for people to get together. It was available, so I went ahead and bought it for a year.

I can host it along with igirder.com on my asmallorange account. Nobody will know they are related since they will look completely indepdent. I had used PunBB for the Engineer’s Association because it was free, simple, not hard to install, and handled all the basics. Last time I checked there was a fork of PunBB called FluxBB and they were both still updating their software. Would this still be the best option?

I found MyBB as a more powerful alternative. It is also free, but allows users more customization, so I figured it would be better for a community.

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Spotlight on Me

Maybe a year ago, iLounge introduced a spotlight comment that would highlight a user comment on one of the news articles they had recently posted. Yesterday they had an article summarizing several different news items (which they call a mix) and one of those items was that Dataviz was introducing Docs to Go for the iPhone and Touch. This is one of the crucial apps I use on the Palm that wasn’t available on the Touch yet. They have had a page saying it is coming soon for about a year. So it finally showed up and it’s only $5 (for the next 2 weeks anyway, so I went ahead and bought it even though I don’t have a Touch yet). So I wrote a comment that I was happy Docs to Go was finally available. Today I was the spotlighted comment!

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End of AvantGo

One of my favorite uses of my early laptop computers was as an offline browser. I had a program that would download a page and everything linked on that page. By pointing it to the table of contents of that month’s Business Week, Atlantic Monthly, or Scientific American, I was able to download all of the articles. Then I could read them on the go and they would come up instantly without any sort of wired or wireless connection. It was great for the train.

When I ditched the laptops and got a Palm, there was a similar piece of software called AvantGo. It was designed to download sites of its partners, but you could also tell it to download custom sites. I used it for a while to download US News and World Report and still use it to download my blog and movie reviews. Since I am reading on the train and it goes underground, even wireless networks can’t provide this kind of service (if I wanted to pay for them, which I don’t). I use it to get most of the New York Times, movie times, movie reviews, space.com, and Tidbits (a Mac-oriented newsletter).

In the latest AvantGo download they announced they would no longer be providing mobile service as of June 30. Apparently they have become obsolete in an age of smartphones and data plans.

This was one of those programs that really made the Palm useful and unique. I don’t think offline browsing was ever really embraced by the general public, but I love it. And as far as I know there isn’t anything to replace it. They mentioned a program that is available, but it doesn’t run on Palms. There are RSS feeders, but I’m not sure what exists for Palm and if I can get the entire articles at once so that I can read them later without being connected. Unlike Amazon’s Kindle, the content was all free. And unlike smartphones, there was no data plan I had to buy. I could still carry around my dumb phone.

I know eventually I will replace the Palm TX I have now with an iPod Touch, but the Touch still lacks some key functionality that the Palm has like synching with an Access database, Word and Excel documents, and my Outlook calendar. AvantGo (or some kind of offline browser) was one of those things I wanted for the Touch to have too.

Lately I have been watching movies on the Palm on the way home from work so I haven’t used AvantGo as much, but I definitely use it every week. And with my newspaper subscription running out soon and the price doubling, I was thinking I would be synching every morning to AvantGo so I could still read the news on the way in. Oh well. A great idea, now thrown on the heap of obsolescence.

Ex is in Texas

Well Susan is moved to Texas for the most part. She still has a lot of furniture in her Atlanta house to make the house look lived in while it is on the market. Once the house sells, she will have everything moved out to her professionally. Unprofessionally we packed up a big U-Haul trailer attached to her Jeep and drove out last Thursday. We wanted to leave by 7 AM, knowing it was 820 miles and all needed to happen in a day because it would be hard to stay anywhere overnight with all of the animals. After helping her pack until almost 11 the night before, I was back at her house at 6:40 Thursday morning. There was still a fair amount to do, but the trailer was packed up and ready by 7:30 anyway, so I offered to take it while she got the cats and house ready, knowing the Prius would be able to catch up pretty quickly anyway.

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