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Checkiday.com – Looking Back After One Year

Checkiday.com Logo

Checkiday.com Logo

A year ago today, I bought the domain name Checkiday.com and started creating a site that would tell you what holidays were being celebrated on a given day, displaying the current day on the home page.

In order to create this site, I needed to build a database of holidays by hand. This took much research on Google, which was a necessary tool for the creation of this site. I not only have a list of holidays, but I also have URLs for each site that cite the source I used. Adding over 1000 holidays by hand was the most time consuming aspect of creating this site.

The design and layout of the site I created from scratch in Adobe Photoshop CS5. I cut up the graphics into slices and saved them. I then started programming the site from the ground up. I used valid XHTML, JavaScript, CSS, PHP, and MySQL to bring this site to life. All of the coding was done by hand using NotePad++. I am not a fan of site builders or anything similar to Adobe DreamWeaver. I prefer to have complete control over every aspect of my source code.

Checkiday.com took a while to gain some momentum. In February of last year, Checkiday.com won the DreamHost Site of the Month for the Originality and Overall categories. This sent quite a few users to the site, but only for about two days. Another source was StumbleUpon. StumbleUpon sent quite a few users to the site, but that was also only on certain days.

The main source of visitors to the site is Google searches. Checkiday.com is now averaging about 150-200 hits per day. I also set up Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds that are updated daily as well. These three feeds reach a total of over 235 users, and are growing fairly quickly.

Checkiday currently only displays holidays that occur on the same day each year, and once popularity increases, I will implement holidays that occur on varying dates.

Not only is Checkiday a website, but there is an Android App and a Widget that I have created and are available for free.

Here are some interesting statistics:

- Over 16,100 people have visited the site in the past year.

- Checkiday now gets about 150-200 visitors each day.

- 60% of them are returning. This is very high user retention.

- Each visitor views just over 3 pages on average.

- Each visitor spends about 2 minutes and 30 seconds on the site.

I would like to thank you all for making Checkiday.com not just another site that I make that goes to waste. I hope to see web traffic increase at the same rate that it currently is, and am excited to see where this site is in another year!




Emulating a Keystroke using a Staples Easy Button

A friend and client of mine owns a DJ business. He has photo booths that he brings to events as part of a Wedding or DJ package.

The booths are home made. I believe that he uses the program Photobooth on a Mac to take the pictures, and needed an easy way for people to step into the booth and press one button to take a picture. For this reason, I needed to make a Staples® Easy Button™ emulate the spacebar character.

For this to be accomplished, I needed:

  • a Staples® Easy Button™
  • a programmable microcontroller; I used a Teensy because it is cheap ($16) and gets the job done.
  • a USB cable
  • wire
  • a soldering iron
  • a small Phillips Screwdriver
  • a drill and/or knife
  • patience
  • I cannot take credit for most of this project. My primary source was MAKEzine. Before starting this project, I watched that video twice, taking notes the second time.

    The first thing that I did was take apart the Easy Button™ and remove everything that I didn't need. This included the metal bracket, the speaker, and all of the wires. Next I cut two holes. One from the battery compartment to where the speaker was, and also a slot in the battery compartment so the Teensy fits.

    The battery compartment.

    Next I soldered short wires, about 3" in length, from the button to the Teensy. I used ground ("GND") and "B2" as my pins on the Teensy.

    The electronics.

    Next I programmed the Teensy using this source code:

    After programming the Teensy, it is time to test it. Your computer should recognize it as a plug-and-play USB Keyboard, and every time you press the button, it should print a space in a text editor, like you were using your Keyboard's spacebar.

    If it all works fine, place the Teensy into the Easy Button™ like this:

    Teensy in the battery compartment.

    and re-assemble the Easy Button™ until you get this far:

    Easy Button™ mostly assembled.

    Try it again, and if it still works, finish assembling it.

    The finished product looks like this:

    A Staples Easy Button Keystroke Emulator

    and functions like this:

    Congratualtions, you have now built an Easy Button™ that emulates whatever keystroke you want it to!




Get a user’s timezone using JavaScript/jQuery and PHP

I wrote script a function using jQuery and PHP. This is tested, and does work!

On the PHP page where you are want to have the timezone as a variable, have this snippet of code somewhere near the top of the page:

This will read the session variable "time", which we are now about to create.

On the same page, in the <head>, you need to first of all include jQuery:

Also in the <head>, below the jQuery, paste this:

You may or may not have noticed, but you need to change the url to your actual domain.

One last thing. You are probably wondering what the heck timezone.php is. Well, it is simply this: (create a new file called **timezone.php** and point to it with the above url)

If this works correctly, it will first load the page, execute the JavaScript, and reload the page. You will then be able to read the $timezone variable and use it to your pleasure! It returns the current UTC/GMT time zone offset (GMT -7) or whatever timezone you are in.



Reading From a MySQL Database Using C++

I Googled it. I could not find an easy example of how to set up an environment to do this, so I decided to research a bunch and write my own tutorial!

First things first. You need:

  • Ubuntu (or other linux distribution)
  • A functioning MySQL database to read from
  • Patience!

The first thing you need to do is to install the MySQL++ library on linux.  Open up Terminal and type "sudo apt-get install libmysql++-dev" and press enter.

It should ask for your password, so type that in and watch it install MySQL++.

Now that that is over, create a new folder and navigate to it in Terminal.  Create two blank files, naming one "main.cpp" and "makefile" for the other.

Inside of "main.cpp", paste the following:

Inside of "makefile", paste the following:

Now, you have the basic template saved. You must fill in your MySQL database information for the variables "db", "server", "user", and "pass" in order for this program to work.

Once you have the database info filled in, where it says "select * from database", you may change that to something more appropriate, such as "select first_name, last_name, user_id, email from users".

Now you may simply save it, run "make" and then run the program.




Nintendo Wii Homebrew Metronome v1.3

I have recently updated my homebrew metronome for the Nintendo Wii. I have added a graphical interface (GUI), a practice timer, and the ability to set the number of beats in a measure. Firstly, I designed the interface from scratch in Photoshop, then I used libwiigui to help me create my first GUI ever.

You may download the Metronome here and the source code here. It is also available for direct download on the Wii through the Homebrew Browser. As of this writing, this has been downloaded over 25,000 times.

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