Microsoft: Getting a replacement Windows XP CD in Australia

I literally Googled the sh*t out of this question and did not get anywhere, so here’s a quick tip to the unfortunate souls who like me, lost their Windows CD but still have the license key. It’s so frustrating to have the key but not be able to install the correct version of Windows, especially an outdated version of Windows that is not available for download anywhere (legally). In case you were wondering, there is no option anywhere on the Microsoft website that allows you to order the CD.

Call to Microsoft Australia at 13 20 58, option 4. It’s actually the wrong option because this gets you into their Partner Program instead, but explain what you need and the person will redirect you accordingly. The main thing to note here: you are looking for “replacement media“.

The process turned out to be surprisingly painless. I had to provide my name, email address, phone number and my Windows XP Home license key for the order, and that was it. The order will be coming through email, so I’ll be looking forward to my new CD soon – I hope.

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Comic: 封神记, an interesting twist

I have been a fanboy of comics since early days, from Japanese manga to Taiwanese and Hong Kong comics. Ahh, what would we do without such entertainment?

封神记 is a creative twist to the good old 封神榜, traditionally a tale of the corrupt Shang Dynasty being overthrown by an army of righteous humans and demigods, which has been retold in the 天子传奇 series.

In this comic, the Shang king is fighting against Heaven and the cruel gods in a bid to cast off the yoke of slavery. He succumbs to the overwhelming power of Heaven, but his son -incidentally the protagonist- learns the harshness of reality while surviving the days after, and eventually continues the fight. And of course, what would we be without divine powers? Always the funnest part about these comics.

Give it a read if you are free, well worth a look.

WordPress: Of Cart66 and categories

WordPress at its core is a blogging platform, but has one of the most intuitive management interfaces for CRMs, with Joomla being the other extreme: powerful but tough to learn. That being said, is WordPress a true CRM? With Custom Post Types, it is possible to use it that way. Let us not forget the maturity of third-party plugins, which extend the capabilities of WordPress by an infinite degree.

I recently began exploration into the use of WordPress as an ecommerce platform, and out of all the plugins used, Cart66 appeared to be the easiest to implement. It’s free with limited functions, so trying it out should not cost you anything.

I made the decision to buy Cart66 because I wanted to do a fuller evaluation (testing MailChimp integration), and also because it has a 60 day money back guarantee. If you are looking for a Cart66 refund, use this request refund form.

Adding a product

  • You first add the product into Cart66 (pricing mostly), then
  • Write a post and do the usual descriptions, images et cetera. All Cart66 requires is that you include a shortcode for the product, which gives the customer a button to add the product into his shopping cart.
  • Bingo, one product done.

Adding a few products is relatively easy, the real challenge comes when the number of products increase. Cart66’s drawback is the lack of built-in functionality for categorising products. It has a guide on using Custom Post Types to supplement this need, but this guide does not entirely solve the question. The guide shows how you could add items one by one into the top menu, but how does that work if you have a hundred products or more?

For example, how is one supposed to display all products easily on a single page without laboriously typing them all out? Shortcode functionality for displaying products based on category (or all categories) needs to be present. Ideally, I would like the products to have categories, and the navigation should be intuitively tied. This means if I’m adding Apple as a product under Fruits, I should not need to add Apple to the Fruits category in the navbar, it should be already present in the Fruits listing.

A query to support (comes with the plugin purchase) got me the following response:

We provide support for the Cart66 plugin, but not for any other plugin. Cart66 does not feature Custom Post Types or “Category” listings. The only thing we have available regarding Post Types is this document: http://docs.cart66.com/organize-your-products-with-custom-post-types/

Not very helpful.

Not a knock on the guy doing support, I’m sure he is only doing his job. The question is, what good is support for if Cart66 recommends the use of CPT but does not provide any assistance whatsoever on helping its customers with this?

It feels like they are kind of shooting themselves in the foot when they draw the line like this. It feels like the customers want Cart66 to work, but Cart66 is just throwing a few road blocks in the way even though the software is purchased, and at the same time saying “Go on, figure it out yourself.”

Another alternative is to buy their themes with built-in categories. It could be a good alternative if you like their templates, but I would prefer to retain the flexibility of using my own chosen theme without being locked in.

As you can see, this ticked me off a fair bit, simply because I’m of the opinion that such functionality is basic and should be built-in without the user getting their hands dirty and going on another learning curve.

Of course, everyone has a different take on the same thing. As Luke P puts it:

You can already easily do this kind of thing with WordPress it’s self with a custom post type, feature images, and categories. Building this functionality into Cart66 would be a waste of time and just replicate WordPress’s core functions. Cart66 strength is its flexibility to work with WordPress without adding allot of extra infrastructure.

We’ll just have to agree to disagree. I still think Cart66 is a good plugin nonetheless, and will continue to use it. Hopefully future versions will improve on this flaw (my opinion) and allow better user friendliness.

A busy Celtics day.

Where to begin? I had a very good stretch of sleep last night (eleven hours), so woke up feeling pretty refreshed and then, the news hit.

Rondo’s ACL tear basically kicked my corner of the internet into a frenzy, so the bulk of my day was spent talking with fellow fans on Twitter and Facebook, shoring up the media presence while feeling a little dejected at the way this season is going. (And of course, attending to work as well.)

I’d just finished a post on the Rondo-less Celtics, so this will go online tomorrow. A similar post will be online (hopefully soon) at US Sports Down Under, so we’ll see how much reach the content has.

Time for the Celtics to get their act together and make a final run. I’m not bearing high hopes on Banner 18, but let’s look for a good playoffs run at the least. Cautious optimism, that’s how I see it. One step at a time.

(And damn, it means I’m never going to be seeing Rondo on my trip in March.)

Get well soon Rondo, I’m looking forward to seeing you on the court once more.

Shooting and muscle memory.

Quote of the day: “Shooting is all about repetition. The more you shoot, the better you get.”

So, time to find more time to shoot, work out the kinks and get into an unconscious flow. Muscle. Memory.

In other related news:

  • I’m learning to fire passes off the pick and roll, or go behind the screen and shoot it off the dribble.
  • I suck badly at the three line.
  • My ankle is rubbish without an ankle guard.

WordPress: Custom post types are fascinating.

After the release of WordPress 3.0, custom post types are becoming frighteningly popular it seems. I’m pretty late to the game, but it’s still something very good to know nonetheless.

What are custom post types (CPT)?
Imagine you need to build a site for movie reviews. Ideally, you would have a database of Movies, with relevant meta-info like Actor, Director, Screenwriter and so on.

This is how WordPress can evolve into a repository for the information required, and a step towards being a full-fledged CRM – by the use of custom post types.

Essentially, you specify your post types to be of a new type (Movie), and customise the attributes that can be tagged to the Movie (as mentioned above). So you’re able to customise your WordPress backend to be able to CRUD (create/remove/update/delete) movies, add related tags and so on.

It’s definitely much more user-friendly this way, allows users that are less tech-oriented to understand what they are doing, and more importantly, not every single damned thing on the site will be a post. Believe me, things start getting blurry when everything is a post without proper separation/categorisation.

Think about restaurants (menu items), e-commerce websites (plenty of variety in products), the possibilities on custom post types are endless. The only problem of course, lies in getting the right plugins.

My recommendations:

Drop a comment if you have better CPT plugins to recommend.

Farewell to Federer.

Such a nailbiting game today. Roger Federer did not look to be in his best shape throughout the Australian Open, and the lack of his usual fine control over those baseline shots and returns finally did him in. Kudos to him for fighting, not giving in and pushing it to a fifth set. He did not have his legs the entire game, looked utterly drained in the fifth, and that surge of energy he had in the fourth set vanished. So disappointing to see him fade away in the final set. He’s still my favourite player though, the embodiment of grace and control on and off the court.

Credit of course goes to Murray for those aggressive returns, he’s playing really well this year and just hitting with confidence. That being said, I still don’t like the guy much. Nothing personal, just no preference.

So, who’s taking the damn finals? It could go either way but I’d say Djokovic has the edge in experience – the bugger will just grind and outlast whoever he’s playing until the errors start coming, such a tough mofo.