WebAssist's PowerCMS

Posted on 16, Jul, 2009 at 00:25

Category: Programming

I use a lot of the Dreamweaver tools developed by WebAssist. One of their newer tools they have is called PowerCMS. It sells for $99.99. This is a stand-a-lone Content Management System that lets website developers easily setup different areas on a user’s website that the user can edit themselves. They do not need to know HTML or how to upload files to their website.


The first time I tried using it, I had setup two areas on a user’s website in less than one hour. They walk you through 5 basic steps to get PowerCMS running.


1    Set up your MySQL database

A .sql script containing the required database tables, has been provided for you to use with this Solution Pack. They provide instructions on importing this file into your MySQL database.

2    Update the database connection file

Specify your database credentials in the localhost.php database connection file.

3    Modify the settings to suit your needs

All the settings that need to be specified for your PowerCMS to work can be found in the WA_Globals.php file.

4    Uploading your files

Now that your settings are specified, you can upload the PowerCMS files to your live server.

5    Create your page content

Now that all the files are uploaded and working, it is time for you to start creating page content and specifying where this content should appear on your website.



This solves the problem of letting the user edit their own website without having to teach them how to use Dreamweaver and FTP files to the website. It also greatly reduces the chance of the user doing something that causes problems with the website that you have to go in and fix it for them.


For more information on PowerCMS, visit their website at https://www.webassist.com/solutions/powercms/


Posted on 27, Jun, 2009 at 16:00

Category: Personal

Not long ago we got a Netflix digital player from Roku (http://www.roku.com/default.aspx) that allows us to stream instant video from Netflix to our TV. And just recently, Roku now also offers HD Videos from Amazon Video On Demand. This is a great device for just $99.00 and is very easy to setup.


So, while searching for movies to add to my Netflix Instant queue I ran across the first season of Adam-12 (1968) with Martin Milner and Kent McCord so I added it to my queue. I loved this show when I was a kid and watched it whenever I could.


But when I started watching the first episode, I had a hard time making myself watch the whole thing. I actually had to turn it off. The dialogue seemed so corny and contrived. The plot was overly melodramatic and the music was way too loud and often did not fit the scene.


What happen? Maybe I’m more mature now and my tastes have changed. Or it could be related to fact that when we were kids we only had three channels to watch on TV and I watched Adam-12 because at the time, that was the best thing on TV..


It could be that shows like Hill Street Blues that changed the way drama was presented has ruined Adam-12 for me forever. The close camera angles, rapid action cuts and real life dialogue used in filming Hill Street Blues were ground breaking techniques. Watching Adam-12 now, after Hill Street, makes it seem pretty lame and unreal.

Printing Living Tissues with Ink-Jet Printers

Posted on 26, Feb, 2008 at 21:00

Category: Science

If you are going to be upgrading to a laser printer in the future, do not get rid of your ink-jet printer just yet. Scientists are working on novel ways to build three dimensional structures using the technology found in ink-jet printers. They have used them to build small plastic and electronic parts. –

There are even researchers working on building living tissues with ink-jet printers. Just imagine, in the future, if you’re one of those strange folks who like small, obnoxious, pee on your leg, continuously yapping dogs with no apparent redeeming value, such a Chihuahua, you might be able to buy a Chihuahua ink cartridge, pop it in the ink-jet and - presto-chango – you’ve got the dog you really deserve.

Researchers are also looking at using this technology to build new organs. It would be wonderful if they could take a few cells from a patient and build a new kidney for those suffering from renal failure. But, one on the biggest problems they still have to work though is building blood vessels. All tissues need nutrients to survive. Researchers have been successful in building tubular structures, but these are 30 um or less. Way too small for surgeons to be able to attach anything to them. This would be like trying to attach a piece of rigatoni to the Alaskan Pipeline.

Although researchers are making advances toward these goals, it is safe to bet that it’s going to be a few years before they can actually make something on demand. So for now, if you still want a Chihuahua, you are going to have to get it the old fashion way – steal it. No, I’m just kidding, I mean get it from a respectable dog breeder. Of course, if he was really was a respectable dog breeder, he would try to sell you a real dog, not a Chihuahua.

Ant-Plant Mutualism in the African Savanna

Posted on 19, Jan, 2008 at 18:00

Category: Science

There is an acacia tree in South Africa, the whistling-thorn tree, Acacia drepanolobium, that secretes a carbohydrate-rich nectar from glands at the base of its leaves. It also grows large hollow thorns. The carbohydrate nectar attracts ants that feed on this nectar.

The species of ants found in greatest number is Crematogaster mimosae. This ant feeds on the nectar and lays its eggs in base of the large hollow thorns. C. mimosae will aggressively defend a tree and the use of its reward. They will attack any large herbivores, such as elephants, that try to graze on the acacia tree leaves. They attack in such large numbers that they drive away the herbivore before too much damage in done to the tree. The elephants run-a-way with a bunch of angry biting ants up inside of their trunk.

In addition to driving away the herbivores, C. mimosae also keeps away the long-horned beetles (Cerambycidae). The larvae of these beetles excavate stem cavities that can harm the tree.

The next common species of ant that can be found on the acacia tree is C. sjostedti. These ants like to lay their eggs in the stem cavities created by the long-horned beetles, so they are not as aggressive in keeping the beetles off of the tress as C. mimosae.

Dr. Todd M. Palmer and his colleagues wondered what would happen to the acacia trees if the large herbivores were removed from the equation. So, they built a large fence around some trees in Kenya Science 11 January 2008, Vol. 319. no. 5860, pp. 192 – 195).

After ten years the acacia trees seemed to be doing worst without the herbivores instead of better. Without the outside stimulus of the herbivores, the acacia trees quit producing the nectar and the large hollow thorns.

This caused the proportion of the trees containing C. mimosae ants to drop by 30% and the proportion of tress with C. sjostedti to increase by 54%.

It was also found that without the nectar from the acacia tree, C. mimosae were twice as likely to tend to sap-sucking homopteran scale insects as a source of carbohydrates to replace the lost nectar from the trees. It was noted at C. mimosae were less aggressive in protecting an acacia tree from other ant species. This allowed C. sjostedti to move in new areas.

Because C. sjostedti used the stem cavities created by the long-horned beetles, C. Sjostedti were not as aggressive in keeping the beetles off of the trees. Thus those acacia trees suffered increased attacks from the stem-boring beetles, grew more slowly and had twice the mortality rate than the trees were herbivores were allowed to graze on trees.

This is a very interesting study that shows us how changing just one variable in a mutualistic relationship can greatly affect an ecosystem.

Stealing Soda

Posted on 25, Nov, 2007 at 18:00

Category: Personal

Why does it bother me, I’m not quite sure. I just know that when I see it happening, I get quite irritated. It does not really affect me personally, but because I know it is wrong, and everyone I see doing this, knows that it is wrong, I want to yell at them “STOP IT!”

Why do some folks think it is ok to help themselves to free drinks at the self serve fountain drink stations found at most of the fast food restaurants like McDonalds, Carl Jr. and Taco Bell? And it is not just the young teenagers coming in after school, but young adults, mothers and grandparents.

One day in a Taco Bell, I witnessed a mother with three children, order food for all of them, one fountain drink and three waters. She then took the three water cups, dumped out the water and preceded to fill the three water cups with soda. She did this while her three children stood next to her and watch the whole thing. She was teaching those children that it was ok to steal soda from Taco Bell.

Yesterday I saw an older woman in McDonalds buy a meal with a soda. A couple of minutes later, she asked for another cup, because she did not like paper cups because they are too flimsy. They gave her another cup and then proceeded to fill up both cups, including the one she said she did not like, and left with both of them.

Another method I have seen many times is to bring a cup with them into the restaurant. Often times this cup is from completely different restaurant. They walk up to the soda fountain, fill it up and leave before anyone sees them.

Now there are some people who are down on their luck and do have much money. I can understand them doing this just to get by in life. But, there are many of these people who appear to do this just because they can get away with it. They can pay for the soda, but for some reason, choose not to pay.

The restaurants know there is a problem and many have installed power switches behind the counter so then can turn off the soda fountains when groups of young kids come in and order just water. Many times I have seen someone with a water glass try to fill it up with soda only to realize that the power was off and the only thing working was the water button. More than once, a few of these kids would get angry because the counter person had turned off the fountain and storm away. Almost as if they thought it was their right to help themselves to free soda.

I do not think this is going to stop unless we standup and let these folks know that this behavior is wrong will not be tolerated.

I’m I the only one that feels this way?

Allergy Problems, Take a Buckyball.

Posted on 30, Sep, 2007 at 22:00

Category: Science

What do you get when you place 60 carbon atoms, arranged into 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons, and looks like a soccer ball? You get what scientist call a buckyball. When I first heard the term buckyball, I formed a vivid picture in my mind that contained my favorite Saturday Nite Live Comedy writer Mr. Henry, but I won’t go there. It is really named after American architect R. Buckminister Fuller who designed a geodesic dome with the same fundamental symmetry. http://www.nanotech-now.com/nanotube-buckyball-sites.htm

These buckyballs are really good at attracting reactive oxygen byproduct molecules called free radicals. The buckyballs act like a sponge to sop these free radical groups and other chemicals that contain oxygen. Chris Kepley, an immunologist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, have done experiments that buckyball also sop up histamine. Histamine released from mast cells and basophils cause allergic reactions. Their experiments show that buckyballs can greatly reduce allergic reactions.

This opens up a whole new area of testing and research for other diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Arthritis and diabetes. The next steps are to design buckyballs that only target mast cells and basophiles. And so far, there has been no evidence of toxicity to either mice or cell culture, but there is still a lot of work in that areas in order to show these molecules are safe to use in humans.

Fly on the Wall

Posted on 20, Sep, 2007 at 20:00

Category: Science

Have you ever wished you could be a fly on a wall? Watching what other people are doing and saying without them knowing you’re watching them. We all have, right. But, we know that it would be impossible. Or is it?

Xuuk Inc. has a new eye-tracking device that looks like the compound eye of a fly. They call it the eyebox2 - http://www.xuuk.com/. This device can monitor the eye movements of people on the move in real time. And it can do this from up to 32 feet away. It uses infrared light and measures the amount of infrared light reflected from viewer’s eyes.

This device can be used to determine how effective a billboard is or what part of a supermarket shelf gets a shopper’s attention. It could also be used to pause a DVD movie when a viewer stops looking at the TV.

This sounds a little eerie and a lot like “Big Brother” is watching. I already have to deal with web “cookies” that monitor every web site I visit, but now it looks like I will have to start wearing sun glasses everywhere I go.

Mood Bugs - has a nice ring to it.

Posted on 17, Sep, 2007 at 21:00

Category: Science

The Panamanian golden tortoise beetle, is a little 8-millimeter beetle than can change its color from gold to red. Mood Bugs. It does this through changes in its shell. The shell has tree layers and each layer reflects a different wavelength. The three wavelengths added together make the gold color. Inside the shell are very small channels. When these channels are full of fluid, the shell acts like a mirror and reflects the gold color. When the channels are empty, then the shell acts like a window instead, revealing the beetle’s red pigment under the shell. I thought this was kind of cool.

One of the applications that could come of this finding is a switch that would signal when there was fluid present. This could be a great way of letting you know when the washing machine has sprung a leak and is getting water everywhere on in the laundry room.

I’m not sure how this would be setup. The beetles are pretty small and it would be hard to see just one little beetle. So, maybe they would glue fifty or sixty of them a piece of cardboard. Then if they all changed to gold at the same time, we probably see the color change from across the room.

But, that brings up another problem. The beetles would need to be in contact with the water. If they were placed on the floor, where the water would likely be, again, we would not be able to see them. I think we could use long capillary tubes that would run from the floor and up the wall and then attached to the beetles. Then we could tack the cardboard with the beetles to the wall in plain site.

That sounds like a lot of work. Maybe it would be easier just to attach a beetle to a gold ring and sale it as a mood ring.


Hammered Saws

Posted on 29, Aug, 2007 at 22:00

Category: Science

There is an interesting article in Aug 11th Science News about Sawfish: www.sciencenews.org. There is a lucrative market for Sawfish. A pair of Sawfish fins, used in Asian countries for shark fin soup can bring in as much as $3,000. The snouts, or rostrum, can top out at $6,000 when used to make artificial spurs for cockfighting.

With such strong economical factors working against the sawfish, it will be a very difficult effort to protect them without international help. www.oceanconservancy.org

Curry Anyone? And Don't Forget the Turmeric

Posted on 14, Aug, 2007 at 23:06

Category: Science

There is research going on that indicates that a chemical found in the spice turmeric just might help patients with Alzheimer's disease.

There are plaque deposits that have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease call amyloid-beta. In a normal person, these plaques are usually cleaned up the immune system cells called macrophages. Macrophages normally identify these plaques, engulf and remove them from the system. Researches have found macrophages that could not destroy that amyloid-beta in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers compared the gene activity of the impaired macrophages with those from healthy folks and identified several genes that were not as active in the impaired cells. When they exposed these cells to chemical found in turmeric, the inactive genes were switched on, thus restoring the ability of some of the macrophages to destroy amyloid-beta.

There still needs to be a lot of research done to see if turmeric can be beneficial to Alzheimer patients. There should also be further studies done to investigate why these macrophages become impaired.

I just hope they do everything they can to “curry up” with a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease before I start to forget.