System Uptime and Downtime Calculations for Slas

Marketing speak, when it comes to system uptime or downtime, can be misleading. Learn some basic relationships between your "nines" of downtime to be ready.

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Display Markdown From Dropbox With Mdwiki

On this last day in 2013, I was thinking about how I can edit Markdown files locally and have those displayed in the easiest manner possible.

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Keeping Ssh Alive

I was getting unceremoniously booted off ssh connections to Webfaction. Here's what I did to fix it.

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Linkedin Finally Fixes the Tokyo Location Bug

I brought this up a year ago in June 2012, but Linkedin finally only just got around to fixing this simple problem after a year.

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Resetting Os X Menubar

Has your OS X menubar, Dock or Finder crashed? These very simple Terminal commands should do the trick, at least in version 10.8.3 as of 23 May 2013.

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Flickring Out

Flickr upgraded their site and offerings today, and I cannot say I'm impressed. Looks like free users are worth more to Yahoo than the long-term paying ones.

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Establishing a Personal Password Policy

I suppose it is human nature to be a bit lazy about security, but if you are one of those people who uses the same password for every system you use, it's a good idea to stop that practice as soon as, well, now. Read on, for my take on a practical approach to password security.

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How to Spot a Phisher

Phishing is a problem you hear about in the news, and you like to think of yourself as immune. I clicked a link that came in from a friend, and luckily, I noticed it was a phishing site.

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Site Re Launch in Octopress

I had a bit of a journey in relaunching Rick Cogley Central, this time creating it in a static site generator over my previous tool RapidWeaver. Read on to hear the gory gory!

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Adding Google Webmaster Tools Verification Meta Tag to a Typo3 Site

The TYPO3 CMS is complex, so oftentimes you cannot simply put files in the root to verify site ownership. Here's how to do it with a meta tag, for Google Webmaster Tools.

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Remote Wipe Your Os X System via Icloud

Concerned about losing your Macbook Pro or Air at the airport or at a bar? You can enable remote-wiping, via iCloud. Read on to find out how.

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View Source in Mail Dot App

Want an easy way to see mail headers in Mail.app? They'll pop right up, and I promise you'll like it.

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Bulk Delete Safari Bookmarks

OS X Safari Bookmarks can "build up" in your system for various reasons, perhaps because of iCloud sync problems, or because you imported a lot of old ones from another browser. If you are moving to a service like Pinboard.in and want to bulk-delete bookmarks in OS X Safari, it is not immediately apparent how to do it. Find out how after the jump.

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A Test Post With Source Code Markup

This is the excerpt from this post. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor i n reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Why do we do this? Find out after the jump.

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Assign Elastic Ip Fixed Public Ip to Your Amazon Ec2

Amazon AWS EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud, or basically, paravirtual servers you can rent from Amazon) initially assigns a non-fixed public IP address to your server instance. This means when you reboot your instance, the public hostname and public IP address will change. This is fine when you are experimenting, but not fine for a production server, and can be the source of not a little surprise, when you restart and the server "disappears". Here's how to solve it:

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100km Cycling

Yesterday I trundled out to the mountains near lake Tsukui for 100km of cycling. See the Strava report below.

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Apple Os X Mountain Lion Upgrade

There is not much over-the-top wow about the OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion" upgrade, and it seems like the small upgrade fee goes to more subtle changes this time around. The upgrade itself was uneventful, but took a while due to database changes in Mail and Calendar, which needed to convert.

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Linkedin Listing Esolia and Other Tokyo Companies Incorrectly

I pointed this out to LinkedIn 10 days ago, but am getting nowhere with support who seems to think I will just let it drop hearing their platitudes, so I will post about the problem here in the hope that another company with a similar problem will join me in requesting a fix.

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Os X Lion 802 1q Tagged Vlan Setup

Apple obviously works hard to make things as easy as possible for users, but sometimes in their zeal for simplicity, technical things that should be represented simply in the GUI, are actually made more difficult and opaque.

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Efficient Gmail With Os X Mail App

Greetings and Happy New Year. I am using Mail.app on OS X Lion, to retrieve mail in my Google Apps for Business Gmail account, and I wanted to blog about my setup, because I think it is optimized and might help others.

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Turbulence During Icloud Restoration to Replacement Iphone 4

My firm purchased the Apple "Joint Venture" service, which allows us to register our iDevices, and get priority support from the Geniuses at an Apple Store, as well as training. The home button on my iPhone 4 went wonky on me, and would not react in the normal way when pressed. So I called the JV guys up. Here's what happened.

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Softbank Iphone 4 Emoji Keyboard Troubleshooting

My daughter came to me with an interesting problem with her iPhone, so I thought I would share what I learned and how I fixed the problem. The problem was, no matter what she did, the "emoji" (graphical emoticon icons) would not show up in her email app. I rarely use emoji except when emailing or texting my daughters, so I had to jump in and learn about it.

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Os X 10 7 Lion and Lion Server Upgrade Notes

In this post I will share my notes on the upgrade from OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" to 10.7 "Lion". This is not meant to be a comprehensive review but I hope someone can find some benefit in this information.

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Important Info From Us Embassy to People Stranded in Japan

The American Chamber of Commerce sent this "warden message" from the US Embassy in Japan. Please forward.

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New Special Ops Backpack From Killspencer

After quite a bit of back-and-forth, since my Japan-based credit card and Killspencer's card processing software were working together as well as oil and water, I finally got my Special Ops backpack the other day. Killspencer's founder Spencer Nikosey was fantastic while working through the card issues, and he soon reported that the bag had been made and was being shipped, after about two weeks' lead time.

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Geek Out Scheduled Indexing of Your Concrete5 via Cron

I thought I would share how to get the automatic indexing working in a Concrete5 site, if you happen to use that CMS. There is a special URL in the admin dashboard, which you can call from cron, to periodically re-index your site.

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Happy Superduper Happy

My hard-working Macbook Pro, which I keep running pretty much 24x7 without a break, had a hard disk failure yesterday. The dead disk was inconsolable, and no amount of Disk Utility or fsck or Applejack would cure its ills. Here's what I did.

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Ricoh Japan New Gxr Firmware V1 29 Fast Af Wow

Ricoh Japan just released the new GXR firmware, version 1.29, on their Japan site, and the autofocus speed is now really, really fast. How do you upgrade to it? Read on.

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Switching Parts of a String in Excel

I had the need to fix mistakenly entered email addresses in an Excel, and luckily the mistake was a recognizable pattern. They should have been firstname.lastname@domain.com but were entered as lastname.firstname@domain.com. This short post explains how I extracted the names and switched them.

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Convert Line Endings With Aplomb

When transferring files from system to system, for instance, using csv files to transfer data from one db to another, sometimes there are problems where programs will not process a file because of its line endings. This happens especially if you process a file on one platform, say Mac, and try to use the file on another, say Windows. What can you do about it?

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Fixing a Mac Os X Spotlight Index That Doesn T

After a spate of Mail.app problems probably related to having too damn many mail accounts and messages, I had to do the "Mail.app Reimport Samba" taking hours to let Mail.app reimport the entire mail store. After that got resolved, I found out that my Mail.app "Entire Message" selection in Search was greyed out. Did you get this and are wondering why? Read on for a clue.

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Saas Helpdesk Software That Supports Japanese

After the Zendesk Price Fiasco of 19 May 2010, where Zendesk are proposing to significantly raise prices for their SaaS helpdesk solution, I am confident many users are looking elsewhere. This is one of the pitfalls of a SaaS solution, wherein the provider achieves external investment, and subsequently bows to pressure from said investors to raise prices or otherwise change a model that was working. At least for we users.

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Apology Accepted Zendesk Thank You

In the wake of the Zendesk Price Fiasco of 19 May 2010, in which SaaS helpdesk vendor Zendesk announced pricing hikes which negatively affected most of their users (and would have caused a doubling for us), and after which an angry firestorm erupted, Zendesk users received an email apology from CEO Mikkel Svane today, and more information in his blog post.

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How Not to Run a Saas Helpdesk

I got an email from Zendesk in the middle of the night and this blog post, breathlessly announcing "new features!" and along with that, new pricing. I and many other users could probably have dealt with an x% increase, but a doubling?

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Voigtlander Color-Skopar 20mm Lens Cap Problem

The lens cap that comes supplied with the Voigtlander Color-Skopar 20mm SL II does not fit when you have the LH-20 lens hood and a filter on. So what to do about it?

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Memo the Real Rick R Colgey Is Rick Cogley Eurobiz

I just noticed that Eurobiz Japan inanely published my article on Interim IT Management Services in their May 2010 issue under the name "Rick R. Colgey". Aw, come on!

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Got Mojibake in Mail App Here S a Cure

If you use OS X Mail to send Japanese email, you may find that some recipients complain that your Japanese is "mojibake" or garbled. If you are getting this feedback you can set your default Character Set encoding in the terminal.

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Opening a Tab Delimited Csv in Apple Iwork Numbers

I like Numbers, from Apple's competent and beautiful iWork suite, but there are still things where it is different from Microsoft Excel, and hence it feels somewhat unfamiliar at times.

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Fixing an Unexpected Prompt Hostname in Os X

In Mac OS X, you may have noticed if you use the Terminal that OS X automatically picks up what it thinks your hostname should be and sets it. This is nice, but the problem with it is if any utility uses your hostname to set config files, you'll have a different config file every time.

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Aperture 3 Upgrade Observations

My upgrade to Apple’s Aperture 3 came over the weekend so I upgraded and started letting it analyze faces using the iPhoto-inspired “Faces and Places” feature.

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Set Mbr Correctly to Backup Successfully With Os X Time Machine

If you use Time Machine on OS X, you need to ensure your target drive is formatted with the correct Master Boot Record type.

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Fixing Slow Snow Leopard Mail

Many upgrading Mac users have reported that Mail is "slow" in Snow Leopard 10.6. There are several things you can try to do to remedy the situation, but make sure you have a backup in place like Time Machine or are running an alternative like SuperDuper! or CarbonCopyCloner.

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Fixing Aperture Vault Errors From Terminal

Apple's pro photo management application Aperture 2 has a nice feature called Vaults, which lets you automatically back up your photo library with all metadata to an external drive or drives. Except when it doesn't.

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Handle Leading Zeros in Iwork Numbers

Apple's iWork '09 Numbers spreadsheet is a versatile app with a lot of power available if you open your mind and don't expect it to be Excel. I had some trouble with formatting leading zeros, and this post tells you how I dealt with it in Numbers.

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Cocoatech S Path Finder Versatile Encoding Helper

CocoaTech's Path Finder tool is a versatile Finder replacement. One problem that you might have if you do any work with data, is importing CSV files that are in the UTF-8 format, and which contain multi-byte characters such as Japanese, into Excel.

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Greylisting in Snow Leopard Server or Not

Apple's OS X Snow Leopard Server 10.6 implements Greylisting, an anti-spam technique based on forcing sending SMTP servers to "slow down" before they can deliver. This is great for reducing spam, but it also has the perhaps undesired effect of causing delivery delays. Sometimes really, really loooong delivery delays.

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Textmate Regular Expression Search and Replace

I use and love the text editor Textmate, which has some powerful functions including the use of regular expressions in search.

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Corrupt Apple Leopard Server Open Directory Services

I had a Leopard Server crash and burn so that nothing was responding, and when I forced the server to reboot (as well as rebooting a bunch of other ancillary servers and services just in case), I found an ominous sign in Server Admin, along with no user accounts in Workgroup Manager. Eek!

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Linking File Types and Apps in Os X

If you are an OS X user, and you find files of a certain type, say PDFs, are opening in one applications but you want them to open in a different one, you can easily change the association using Finder.

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Safari Makes It Trivial to Download All Images on a Page

Of course it should not be used for nefarious purposes, but Apple's Safari browser makes it trivial to download all the images or files on a web page you are visiting. Here's how:

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Directory Utility Mia in Snow Leopard

Is Directory Utility, which has been available in /Applications/Utilities, missing in action in Snow Leopard?

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Changing a Bike Tire Inner Tube

I got a flat the last hill of my 100 km bike trip last Sunday. Thank heavens it did not happen at km 50 or something. I went to a bike shop in Shinjuku today to get a replacement tube, and they were kind enough to tutor me on how to replace it.

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Fixing Emobile Usb Dialup on Snow Leopard

I just installed Snow Leopard OS X 10.6 with no problems after getting a replacement for a bad Family Pack install disk (the Shibuya Apple Store said that many people reported the same), and found that my EMobile Huawei D02HW USB Wireless Dialup card, which was fine in Leopard, died when Snow Leopard was installed.

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Hot Brass Percussion and Visual Blast

My daughter and I went to see what's said to be the final Japan tour of Blast!. The brass, percussion and visual performers are young, but are among the best in the world on their instruments. The music and visual performance skills were out in force this afternoon.

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Os X Fonts Managed by Linotype

If you pay any attention at all to typography, layout, type faces, fonts, leading, kerning, tracking and the like, and have ended up amassing a collection of type faces from the famous designers and font foundries, if you just love beautiful type, you'll end up needing some method of organization. The type face or font organizers that come with operating systems are basic, so vendors have channeled some Gutenberg and come up with replacements.

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Plaxo Outlook Sync Now Fee Based Going Davmail

Despite its once-poor reputation, I have been using Plaxo to keep my iCal and Exchange calendar sync'ed as well as a way to keep in touch with business contacts. I've been syncing using the Plaxo Outlook client on an old clunker of a Windows box at work, to go Outlook to Plaxo, and also using the Plaxo iCal client on Mac OS X, to go iCal to Plaxo. It also works to sync Address Book entries.

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Twitter Meishi Generator From Faa

Twitter user @faa has created a "Twitter Meishi Generator", or, "TMG", which you can use to create a Twitter business card with your last tweet or bio, a QR code of your URL, in an assortment of delightful colors.

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Shared Itunes Music Storage

My family has a shared iMac G5 running Leopard OS X 10.5.7 and iTunes 8.2 (both the latest as of 13 July 2009), and recently I noticed we were running low on disk space, so I did some digging via du at the command line. I found that we were eating space by ingesting CDs into iTunes, which would get copied to our respective local user folders. After a little research, I found the Apple KB article that describes how to have a single storage location for music, so I set that up and made some other discoveries in the process. I thought I'd share how I did it.

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Japan Dvd Hdd Video Recorder Incompatibility

The other day I was asked by a friend to see a Ken Watanabe TV show we had recorded, because the friend had missed it. Long story short, in the end we could not provide our friend a DVD with this show on it.

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Iphone 3gs Unfairly Expensive in Japan for Upgraders

I went to a Softbank shop in Shibuya, Tokyo and asked how much it would cost to upgrade an iPhone 3G to an iPhone 3GS. The clerk told me that for the 16GB model it would be an additional JPY 780 per month for 24 months, totaling JPY 18,720, assuming the continuation of my current contract. That sounded about right to me, given the US prices. But of course there has to be a catch.

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Iphone Os 3 0 Tips on Parade

Apple released yesterday an updated iPhone operating system, iPhone OS 3.0, with a number of useful improvements. For me, the update itself was seamless, and took about 15 minutes after clicking the update button in iTunes. I upgraded first thing in the morning, but colleagues who tried later in the day had some delays. I guess it's to be expected when so many people try to download at the same time.

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Artist Josh George S Cool Album Art

I bought the Pat Metheny Trio's "Day Trip" album and "Tokyo Day Trip" EP today, and really loved the album art.

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Restoring Mail but Not via Mobileme Account Backups

So much for MobileMe backing up my Mail account data! I had a another weird crash, which has been plagueing me since I upgraded OS X Leopard to 10.5.7. Read on for the gory detail.

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New Ypk Innovations Lock

I got a new bike lock from YPK Innovations - a Cafe 2.0, because the old one had a couple of problems.

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Does My Superdrive Do Dual Layer

If you are wondering whether the SuperDrive in your Mac is dual-layer capable, or whether it can store 8+ GB of data on a data DVD rather than 4+ GB, there's a way to find out:

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How to Remove Leopard Wiki Mailing List Spam

If you have group mailing lists set up in Leopard Server, these conveniently link to the Leopard Wiki page for the group. However, spam can sully the look of your page, so you may need to perform some routine maintenance at some point. Here's how you can do this.

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Linux and Dos Command Comparison

When systems engineers are just beginning to learn, or are faced with a situation of having to change from one OS to another, it is good to have a comparison of commands or methods to ease the transition. I have a starting point for you, if you are in that situation.

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Mail App 3 X in Leopard Rule to Tag Mail as Expiring Takes Advantage of Address Book Groups

As a New Year's project, besides biking a lot up and down along the Sakai River on my new Centurion, I decided to try switching from Entourage 2004 and its monolithic mail store file, to the Mail.app that comes with OS/X Leopard and use Gmail IMAP. Here's what I did:

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Mac Os X Leopard 10 5 7 Update

I updated my MacBook Pro's OS X from 10.5.6 to 10.5.7 today, and there was a little hiccup. Here's what happened, and see the UPDATES below as well.

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Disc Burnin With Disco

Screenshot of Disco CD-burning software for Mac.Disco is a polished (from the UI perspective), inexpensive (USD 29.95, currently 10 dollars off as of 13 May 2009) alternative to Toast Titanium. I've had mixed results with Toast, and did not want to pay the upgrade fee, so I started looking for alternatives. I've done a few burns in Disco so far, and it seems to work quite well. No problems or "coasters" yet, at this time.

Here's some highlights:

Disco supports spanning of a backup set to multiple discs, and lets you know how many discs you will need to complete the backup. Very convenient, and you just feed it the disc media when prompted, while it works.

Disco stores a discography for created media or disc images, so you can easily search for files on your media.

Straightforward workflow, assisted by what the publisher calls "Crossroads" technology. It's unnoticeable, and I had no problems following, so in a way I guess it works!

Creation of CDs or DVDs with Hybrid, HFS+, UDF, PC Joliet, or ISO 9660 file systems, which means you'll be able to read the media most anywhere.

Burn to all Apple-supported in- and external drives, and enjoy CD multi-session support, burn and erase for rewritable media, and support for dual-layer DVDs.

If your audio is supported by Quicktime, you can create an audio CD or easily switch to a MP3 data CD. Also, you can drag-and-drop to change track order.

You can create disc images from files and discs in the CDR, ISO or DMG formats, as well as create CDs from ISO, DMG, IMG or CUE/BIN.

Oh, I almost forgot that it "smokes" when you burn, provided a new-enough Mac. Pretty cool effect!

Assessment after Some Usage

I used Disco for a few burns (the demo allows you 7, gratis), and I found the program to be a tad buggy here and there. There's times where restarting Disco will help it detect discs, or, where it mis-detects the burner you want to use. I have a San Disk Cruzer USB stick, which for some reason Disco thinks is a burner, and it gets "stuck" on it until I go into Disco Preferences and change it.

Path Finder Collapsing All Folders

I could not find this information in the help file or on the CocoaTech forum. Clicking the disclosure triangle to close each of 100 open subfolders is rather tedious, so isn't there an easier way? I stumbled on a method. Here it is.

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The Human Body Understood

A random and very funny list circulating 'round the Internets. Understand your own body.

The Human Body

It takes your food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your stomach.

One human hair can support 3 kg (6.6 lb).

The average man's penis is three times the length of his thumb.

Human thighbones are stronger than concrete.

A woman's heart beats faster than a man's.

There are about one trillion bacteria on each of your feet.

Women blink twice as often as men.

The average person's skin weighs twice as much as the brain.

Your body uses 300 muscles to balance itself when you are standing still.

If saliva cannot dissolve something, you cannot taste it.

Women reading this will be finished now.

Men are still busy checking their thumbs.

Lol.

Migrating User Folders in Os X Leopard Server

I did an experiment on my test Leopard Server to migrate User Folders from the default /Users to another direct-attached volume based on some questions that came up.

The problem is, OS X Leopard Server defaults to using the system disk as the Users partition, and this disk is not often your largest disk. It can fill up quickly if users start storing their photos or music. Long story short, the trick is to use Workgroup manager to auto-create the User directories, but, before that there's some things you need to do for prep.

How to Migrate OS X Leopard Users Folder from Default to External

In Terminal, you can either sudo bash or use sudo in front of every command. I like to use sudo bash, but remember to exit out of your sudo'ed bash shell later, to avoid risk. Don't use sudo bash if you don't know your way around a Terminal. If you are not sure, don't use it, and just go for sudo in front of each command you want to use.

sudo bashPassword:

Create the containing Users folder on the external drive, which we'll call "EXTHD" here. You can confirm its POSIX permissions using ls -la.

cd /Volumes/EXTHDmkdir Usersls -la

Start Server Admin, select the server in the left-hand list, then select the File Sharing section from the toolbar. Copy down all the attributes of your existing Users folder Share Point, for example to auto-mount as "User home folders", protocol options to share via AFP, SMB, FTP or NFS, and base ACL and POSIX Permissions with whether to inherit or not.

Now, you can Unshare the Share Point in Server Admin. Click Unshare and Save. Click another Share Point to make the list refresh.

After you confirm the Users Share Point is gone you can create a new Users Share Point on /Volumes/EXTHD/Users, your external disk. Reset all the settings you wrote down for your original Users, then Propagate Permissions using the Gear dropdown.

Start Workgroup Manager, and specify the new User share for each user. Multi-select users, select your new share, and click "Create Home Now" to create.

Now you can migrate the contents, which is probably the most tedious part because there's unfortunately no automated way to do it. Use the mv command, and you may need to reset permissions after the move. Users can try connecting and accessing their files. Here's one way, which involves using the su command from root's shell to mimic any given user, in this case John Allen Smith or "jas".

bash-3.2# su - jasmysrv:~ jas$ whoamijasmysrv:~ jas$ lsDesktop Documents Downloads Library Movies Music Pictures Public Sitesmysrv:~ jas$ pwd/Network/Servers/mysrv.mydomain.com/Volumes/EXTHD/Users/jasmysrv:~ jas$ cd Documents/mysrv:Documents jas$ lsAbout Stacks.pdfmysrv:Documents jas$ mv /Users/jas/Documents/* .mv: ./myfile.txt: set owner/group (was: 1034/80): Operation not permitted

If you get errors like the "Operation not permitted" above, deal with those permissions separately. Use the exit command to exit to root again, and use it again to get out of the "sudo bash" root shell. I hope this helps get you started migrating user folders to an external hard drive, in OS X Leopard Server. Enjoy!

Color Management in Flock and Firefox

If you use anything but IE 7 you are still out of luck, but Safari users have had this functionality for quite a while. I refer to "color management", which is the concept of adjusting the color properties of devices, like displays, monitors, printers or scanners, so that colors mean the same thing across devices, and more importantly look the same. The adjustment can be done in the operating system itself, which is what Mac OS X does (and one reason it is superior to Windows), or via International Color Consortium "ICC" profiles and other software trickery.

Let me keep it very simple for this post, though. If you use Flock, which is at the time of this writing based on Firefox 3, or Firefox 3 itself, color management is disabled by default. However, you can easily enable color management, so that photos on photo sharing sites like Flickr or SmugMug will render with the color profile embedded in the photo, which usually means they will look much better than the default, using no profile. In my opinion, these days you will get far better results by turning color management on, in your Flock or Firefox 3 browser.

How to Enable Color Management in Flock or Firefox 3

The easiest way to enable the settings is by using the Color Management Addon for Firefox which will work in Firefox and should work in Flock. Alternatively, you can enter the secret "about:config" code in your address bar (where you type the URL), and enable color management yourself:

about:config

Be very careful about what you change in here, because you can break your browser easily. That said, scroll down until you find:

gfx.color_management.enabled

gfx.color_management.display_profile

You can double click gfx.color_management.enabled to enable Firefox to use whatever profile is embedded in the photo you are viewing, and, you can specify an ICC profile by entering its path in the gfx.color_management.display_profile parameter. If you are not sure what that means, just enable gfx.color_management.enabled.

Restart Flock or Firefox, and you should get much better colors on sites like Flickr or SmugMug. Finally, please check out Deb Richardson's excellent introductory post on this topic, for a clear depiction of the difference of using profiles or not, and how different applications render color. Don't waste time with color management turned off - turn it on now and enjoy much richer color.

Flickr Video Now 500mb

Flickr has increased their maximum video size from 150 MB to 500 MB for Pro members. How do these sites handle the continually expanding capacity needs? Flickr charges only 25 dollars per year for pro accounts so they must have scads of them, not using very much.

New Canon Powershot D10 a Waterproof Point and Shoot

Yesterday, I purchased the new Canon PowerShot D10 at Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku, Tokyo, to take over for an old Canon IXY 500. The IXY has served us well and works OK still, but the waterproof and shockproof nature of the D10 were attractive because of the proximity to the Shonan beach area near where we live, and how often we've been nervous about taking electronics to the beach! It's going to be nice to drag the camera right into the surf or even underwater.

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Updated Mac and Cycling Faqs

I updated my Mac and Cycling FAQs. They are not comprehensive, but are a compilation of answers to questions that I wanted answers for when I started using a Mac and separately when I began cycling. Enjoy!

Splitting Long Videos for Youtube in Imovie

iMovie, included among other excellent consumer applications in Apple's iLife 09, now provides an easy way to share your videos on Google's YouTube video sharing service. You just prep your video, and then use the Share menu to share it in various ways. However, YouTube has a 10 minute, 1GB limit. Read on to find how to get around that.

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Major Projects Inequities Necessary

The thought that "no correctly-spec'ed project gets approved" leads me to lots of questions, and no real answers this morning.

I was thinking about the massive projects that the world has seen, like the Pyramids, great Dams, Bridges, Skyscrapers and Railways, or well-designed and -architected cities in general, and wondering: Are these things we marvel at, built on great inequities? Inequities that people of certain demographics cannot even imagine (thinking about myself as a white, male, middle-class American).

It's not comfortable to think about, but would such marvels even exist if there were not the exploited and the exploiters? Can this said to have been even necessary for technical progress?

Food for thought.

Japan Bus Tours Example of Project Expectations

A friend mentioned that she understands better "why Japanese are like they are", after having been on a weekend bus tour to Mt. Fuji. I've been on Japanese bus tours before, but it never really dawned on me that they could be a window on the soul of the Japanese, but I suppose they are, in a way. I've always been against them, but occasionally bow to pressure from the higher authorities at my house, like my wife and daughters, and go on a bus tour.

On projects I've groused with other PMs that people here expect everything to be presented on a silver platter. And by people, I mostly mean Japanese people, who are the users in 99% of the cases where I'm managing projects. It has been difficult to explain why I would not write out every step for every action by users, and I think the bus tour is at fault! Consider the careful service you get on a bus tour:

  1. Everything laid out in great detail with to-the-minute scheduling of every stop on the tour. Now we're using the bathroom, now we're buying souvenirs.
  2. A tour guide with a little flag to lead you around the site, in case you can't read the detailed map you've been given. This is a famous sight, is it not?
  3. Continual announcements about what's next and what just happened, as well as the rules you'll need to follow. Just in case you did not get it from the detailed itinerary.
  4. Big signs saying how many minutes you have at the particular stop, again, in case you did not understand the repeated announcements.

Westerners certainly have a different approach to things of course, and generally take a more independent, less supervised approach. So one could either feel a bus tour in Japan is either incredibly well put together, or incredibly overbearing. A taxi driver I mentioned this to said that Japanese expect this type of treatment, because their mothers tell them what to do at every turn.

Maybe the PM title stands more for "Project Mother", in Japan. I suppose I should just get used to it, after such a long stay here.

Velociteach Pm Poster Observations

Velociteach created this excellent Project Management-related poster, talking about the gap between what users say they want, what they really want, what's sold, what's delivered, what's paid for, and what's supported. Are things really this bad? From experience on many a large project I would say they are.

Some Current Problems in Projects Today

This poster hammers home the concept that stated requirements have to be well-linked to what's delivered, a concept that has been emphasized for quite some time in software development camps as a reaction to "waterfall" type project management. If you're not familiar, waterfall is a "command-and-control" concept of PM where everyone marches lock step through phases, changing phases when the documents are signed off. That might sound comfortable to people who are not detail-oriented enough to really understand what is going on, but the reality is always messier. Other approaches such as or stemming from "Agile" or "Lean" software development, help keep the focus on what's valuable to the customer, and avoid meaningless rounds of documentation and signoff. Note, I did not say those approaches advocate not documenting at all, because that does not appear to be the case.

I was the Japan-based PM for an ERP implementation, where the head of the PMO at my client generally encouraged the use of more Agile methods. We never talked about Agile and what it meant per se, but recently studying Agile for how it might help me manage non-software development projects or general projects, I can see similarities between what's in the Agile Manifesto and Agile Principles, to what we actually did on the project.

One thing that we did which was rather too "waterfall" however, was an attempt to document all the user requirements up front, in a huge list. This quickly got unmanageable partly because we were trying to do requirements this way, with users inexperienced in ERP implementations, and partly because we were using email as a collaboration tool, which was a mistake as well. Thinking about that, users would have had a terrible time trying to remember what they said, in requirements meetings many months back, in specification review sessions. Adding to that the need for translation and interpretation services, it's a wonder we went live as successfully as we did. An attestation to having the same developers and coordinators involved the whole way through, and just general tenacity, if you ask me.

What to Do About It

In summary, my current feeling about what to do is the following:

Though Email has obvious benefits and applications, attempting to collaborate in Email is not the right approach or, dare I say, any project. Instead, use a system like TargetProcess, LiquidPlanner, Unfuddle, MyIntervals or even BaseCamp.

Use a V-shaped project process, to link user requirements to user acceptance tests, designs to design validations and so on, so that there is a check and balance in your process. Make it easy for users to see the link between what they asked for, and what was done in the end.

Poorly-done Agile is just as ineffective as Waterfall, so if you are going to implement different methods, make sure they fit and that you do it skillfully so the whole entity supports it. Don't use Agile as an excuse to be lazy. In fact, Agile requires even more discipline in the team.

The jury is still out for me what the "best" method is and what the best collaboration software is, but I have taken my time to understand methods besides waterfall, and am beginning to apply them in practice. I will post here about my experiences from time to time. I hope you Enjoy this.

Windows Error Message Haiku

It's said on the internets that Microsoft has replaced its Japanese Windows error messages with Haiku poems (5-7-5 syllables). Apologies to Basho and to the creative souls who made these originally.

Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

The web site you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order will return.

Program aborting:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies
So beautifully.

With searching comes loss
And the presence of absence:
"My Novel" not found.

The Tao that is seen
Is not the true Tao--until
You bring fresh toner.

Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred?

You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.

Having been erased,
The document you're seeking
Must now be retyped.

Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

Guerilla Collaboration With Mindtouch Deki

Aaron Fulkerson, the CEO at Mindtouch - makers of the awesome mashable wiki "Deki" - writes about the state of collaboration in his post Three Decades Later. Revolt Or Die.. It meshes with my own feelings against using email for any collaboration.

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Various Omnigroup Applications Now Free

From "The Omni Mouth", Omni Group's blog, OmniWeb, OmniDazzle, OmniDiskSweeper, and OmniObjectMeter are now freeware. This decision is relayed in Omni Group's usual light, irreverent manner, but it's a big one, in my opinion. Software development is hard work and requires a lot of investment, so I'm grateful Omni Group decided to make these fine programs available for free.

If you are on a Mac, and have never checked them out, take a test drive of Omni Group's very high quality commercial offerings, like OmniGraffle, OmniOutline, OmniPlan or OmniFocus. I use these regularly. They're worth it, so go buy some.

Post Delicious Bookmarks to Your Blog

Delicious has an experimental service that allows you to enter information about your blog, and have Delicious post a summary of your latest bookmarks to your blog.

Assuming you are a Delicious member (free) you can get to the Blog Posting Interface via this URL:

https://secure.delicious.com/settings/blogging/posting

In the interface, the "out_url" section is where you put the so-called "XML-RPC" URL for your blog software. This is not your blog URL but rather the URL of the API for posting via blog publishing software.

For Blogger, the XML-RPC URL is:

http://www.blogger.com/feeds/YOUR-BLOGGER-ID/posts/default

You can get your Blogger ID by going to the Blogger web interface, making a new post, and hovering your mouse over the "Edit Posts" link. That said, I have tried this with various numbers for the "out_id" section, my Blogger blog ID, the numeral 1 and so on, as well as various variations of the Blogger XML-RPC URL, but, nothing works. So, I'll relay an alternative method.

Posting Delicious to Blogger via Feedburner

Here's how to do it:

Enter your Delicious RSS feed into Feedburner.

Republish as a Feedburner feed, and adjust in Feedburner as you like, including publishing the feed via email on the Publicize tab.

Subscribe to your Feedburner feed for your Delicious using your special post-to-Blogger email address. You can subscribe on the FeedBurner feed page - there's a link to subscribe by email, and you can enter your email-to-blogger email address there.

That should do it. Enjoy!

Update 11 Dec - thanks Adam. I incorporated your suggestions.

Subscribe to FeedBurner feed by Email

Backup Your Twitter Friendfeed or Other Rss Feeds

The furor over Facebook's ill-advised and since-rescinded claim to own all your content made me think whether my Twitter tweets and FriendFeed posts have any sort of value. While their value to anyone except me is questionable, perhaps we can say that they may be of value as an archive, and, that they may gain in value over time, as more and more are built up.

How to Backup FriendFeed, Twitter or other RSS Feeds

Using a similar technique to this previous post, we can use an RSS-to-email service like FeedBurner to essentially backup RSS feeds via email. This will give you a pretty-good backup to IMAP, or, by using email-to-blog services, a post of your posts.

Here's how I plan to do this:

Create a mail distribution list or "forwarder" in my ISP's dashboard, something like: rick-allbacks@mydomain.com. A DL will forward mail it receives, to list members.

Make a blog in Blogger or another service that supports email-to-blog. Note its email-to-blog address.

Create one or two backup IMAP accounts, like rick-backup1@mydomain.com, and add their addresses to the distribution list.

Add the backup blog's email-to-blog email address to the distribution list.

Burn a feed in FeedBurner for each RSS URL I want to back up: FriendFeed, Facebook, Twitter and so on. Adjust each republished feed, including publishing the feed via email on the Publicize tab.

Subscribe my DL email address to the feed. On the Feedburner feed page, there is a link to "subscribe by email" and you can enter the address there.

Finally, note that you'd need to be sure to check the first email you get from Feedburner, as you have to verify the address. I hope this idea helps you backup your FriendFeed, Twitter, and other RSS feeds. Enjoy!

Facebook Oops Reset That Was a Mistake

I wrote yesterday about the furor over the new Facebook Terms of Service statement, but Facebook has gone and reverted to their old terms while they figger out which end is up. I can't even access the Facebook blog, so forget an URL, but here's what the top page says:

Terms of Use Update - A couple of weeks ago, we posted an update to our Terms of Use that we hoped would clarify some parts of it for our users. Over the past couple of days, we have received a lot of questions and comments about these updated terms and what they mean for people and their information. Because of the feedback we received, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. For more information, visit the Facebook Blog.

We'll see what happens. I think FB should charge something for their service. Why do people assume bandwidth and hardware is free anyway?

The Facebook Tos Furor Just Trust Us

Facebook changed its terms of service, and there's a furor rising up about it. Despite the subsequent Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's attempt at explanation to smooth over ruffled feathers and downplay Consumerist's original post about this, if you read the TOS, it says that you grant a perpetual, fully-paid license to Facebook to all your content you share via Facebook or its partners, and even to your "likeness" and name. The wording is clear. Further, they make sure you, the poster, are responsible for the content.

My Reading of the New Facebook TOS

My reading of this language is that it unambiguously means, Facebook can use your content when and how they like, and, if you have uploaded something that is copyright someone else, you're responsible for that content (and presumably any legal action against you for doing that). Nice. Here's the section in question:

Licenses

You are solely responsible for the User Content that you Post on or through the Facebook Service. You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof. You represent and warrant that you have all rights and permissions to grant the foregoing licenses.

Other TOSs

By way of comparison, here's links to PDFs of the terms of service for Twitter, Google Docs and Facebook at the time of this writing. The other guys make it pretty clear that you own your content.

Twitter TOS

Google TOS

Facebook TOS

Facebook has issued waffly post-furor statements that the TOS does not really mean that Facebook owns your content and that nothing bad will come of it. However if that is true, then there should be absolutely no problem for Facebook to change the language of the TOS to something that clearly states that I own my own content. Pretty simple. In the end, I think if the TOS does not change in short order to something reasonable, then it's time to seriously considering cutting ties.

Online Project Management Apps

Many people on Twitter ask for recommendations for a good online project management solution. There are many such web-based applications out there, and it really depends upon your needs and intended project approach - are you "agile", do you want to use "scrum" or "kanban", or are you PMI all the way. Do you want it SaaS, or self-hosted? Do you need time tracking? Should a wiki be integrated? The list goes on. Read on to hear about my assessment.

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How to Tag Wiki Pages a Best Way

A friend of mine came to me with a frustration, which was that he is attempting to use Apple Wiki that comes with Leopard Server, and was stuck understanding the concept of tagging. Apple made a conscious decision to step back from hierarchy in their Wiki server product. All the pages are lumped into a folder, and it's up to you to create index pages if you like, and to tag pages.

So What's the Best Way to Tag?

I think the whole concept is confusing at first because it is so flexible and because most people don't think about categorization like librarians might. Basically, you can tag pages based on attributes like:

Page Type - article, tutorial, reference, "meeting notes"

Page Content - "restaurants in Tokyo", Rhinocerii

Workflow State - "to do" or WIP" and so on, if you are trying to use your wiki as a GTD system.

These are different "data dimensions" one would use to talk about the content on a page. A page could also have more than one type of tag - there are no rules for it and no best way. Once you have your pages tagged, you could make index pages with links to the tags if you like, or just rely on search. The lack of a hierarchy in Apple Wiki in Leopard Server is powerful once you "get" it.

This challenge reminds me of Google Gmail's concept "search not sort", which is in opposition to the sort paradigm of systems like Yahoo mail. Gmail's concept was hard to stomach at first, and may still be so, for people who like to sort things.

On the Principles of the Agile Manifesto

Looking at the basics of Agile in more detail over the last weeks, to help me apply it and other philosophies and methods to general, non-development project management, I discovered that the principles behind the Agile Manifesto are readily available.

Agile Principles, Translated, with Some Commentary

To help my Japanese colleagues understand the concepts of Agile more easily, after the jump, I'll translate the principles into Japanese, under the original English from the Agile website. The Japanese translations and any mistakes therein are solely my responsibility. Further, I'll take the opportunity to comment on what I see as important in the principles. For instance, do the principles allow for or even demand a lazy, free-for-all approach? Can an inexperienced team do Agile effectively, or, is mentoring needed?

Please have a look at the short article and commentary. Put your comments on this blog post; I'd love to hear from you, and I hope this article helps someone. Enjoy!

Between the Lines of the Agile Manifesto

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my firm eSolia's way of managing support and projects. We have a lot of experience with PM for both business and IT, and have applied that experience repeatedly to improving our process. However, one day I was reading something about Agile teams and a Lean approach to doing business, and I started to notice that our approach already matched what was being discussed. Perhaps our approach would benefit from what was being discussed "in the literature".

Looking into Agile, Lean and Scrum more, one thing I noticed about the Agile Manifesto is, it seems many teams claiming Agility are taking the most extreme stance possible, almost making reactionary excuses to avoid anything that smells of "structure". Very rebellious, and it's no wonder many of those same teams also claim that Agile does not work. But this sort of reactionary stance is not quite what the manifesto is stating.

Please have a look at this short article I wrote, regarding my interpretation reading between the lines of the Agile Manifesto. Put your comments on this blog post; I'd love to hear from you, and I hope this article helps someone. Enjoy!

Agile Manifesto in Japanese

I wanted to explain the Agile Manifesto to my Japanese colleagues, so I translated it into my (admittedly imperfect) Japanese.

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Mockup Mania

If you do mockups of software interfaces, you might find this post of interest. Although I can write shell scripts and simple perl or ruby scripts well, I am not a developer. However, participating in a session with Pietro, a senior developer of the work management application "Teamwork" from Open Labs, I found the Balsamiq application refreshingly easy to use.

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Happy 25th Birthday Macintosh

It's the 25th birthday of the Mac...

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Easter Egg in Google Mobile for Iphone

In the official Official Google Mobile Blog post Ring in the New Year with Bells and Whistles, the Google Mobile for iPhone team points out an Easter Egg that you can use to get some additional features in Google Mobile. Just open the app, tap settings, then scroll past About. Eventually, you'll see the additional menu item "Bells and Whistles" appear, so keep trying. Nice!

Listing Open Directory Users on Os X Leopard Server

If you want get a list of your users on Open Directory in Leopard Server, you need to use the dscl command from the Terminal. SSH to your server, and do a sudo bash or su - to get into root mode. Then you can run dscl directly with arguments, or, enter its interactive shell mode.

Listing Users with DSCL

Here is how to list users from the command line in Leopard Server:

myhost:~ root# dscl localhost list /Local/Default/Users

myhost:~ root# dscl localhost list /LDAPv3/127.0.0.1/Users

Or, go into interactive mode:

myhost:~ root# dscl

list Local/Default/Users

list /LDAPv3/127.0.0.1/Users

You should also be able to email the list to yourself, or, send it to a file:

myhost:~ root# dscl localhost list /LDAPv3/127.0.0.1/Users |sendmail rick.cogley@gmail.com

myhost:~ root# dscl localhost list /LDAPv3/127.0.0.1/Users > /path/to/userlist.txt

An Easier Way with DSCACHEUTIL

There happens also to be a wrapper for this information, that makes things easy. You can use dscacheutil to get a list of users or groups and some relevant information. For example, use dscacheutil with the -q (query) switch and either user or group, like so:

dscacheutil -q userdscacheutil -q group
The output looks like this:

bash-3.2# dscacheutil -q username: _amavisdpassword: *uid: 83gid: 83dir: /var/virusmailsshell: /usr/bin/falsegecos: AMaViS Daemonname: _appownerpassword: *uid: 87gid: 87dir: /var/emptyshell: /usr/bin/falsegecos: Application Owner

Hope this helps someone. Enjoy!

Cleaning House on Leopard Server

If you administer OS X servers, chances are the holidays are a time when projects to perform IMACs (Install, Add, Move, Change) are often done. Projects that involve moving drives or data. On Leopard Server, to get a clean start for 2009, there are a few command line techniques to note, regarding permissions for files and folders. Note, setting permissions in Finder on OS X Server is notoriously buggy, so 9 out of 10 administrators (in white coats, of course) recommend using the command line. Try it: your friends will envy you and the girls will admire you. But first, a word about how permissions work in Leopard Server.

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Collaboration Applications What Have I Used

I have used a number of applications for collaboration within my firm eSolia and with clients over the last number of years, and I thought I would share the experiences I have had with you.

Groove - we used this before and after it was acquired by Microsoft, and it was promising. We stopped using it because of the lack of searchability and the fact that it was a memory hog. A real catch-22: the more you get into it, the slower it got and the more the lack of search became problematic. Further, when everything went into Groove, if a person left the team, they might also take a part of a project with them, if you were not careful. We got around this by always joining a phantom member to the projects, and the member was just logged into a PC on our network. It had everything in it.

Mantis - we tried to modify this famous bug-tracker for use as a ticketing system for IT support, but this was a stretch without a full time programmer / sysadmin to maintain it. We used it for a while and it just did not cut it, for us. Granted, we were using it outside its scope.

Sharepoint - like many things Microsoft, this file-centric document sharing application can do a lot, especially if you license various plugins to use on top of it like a Project server. However, even with various "add ins", it still had to be programmed to make it do some pretty basic things. Long term we were not impressed, and felt open-source solutions were much better "out of the box".

Trackstudio - this troubleticketing and bug tracking program is a very interesting and cost-effective program, but there were security problems with a couple upgrades a few years ago. Just to ensure client information security, we had to abandon forthright after the problems upgrading, but I want to emphasize that our decision was not based on Trackstudio's people or support, because the support was exemplary; shockingly good.

Atlassian Confluence and Jira - this combo of a wiki and ticketing system is superior, but there were too many things that were "just not quite enterprise." Further, Atlassian had an odd approach to fixing problems, in that they wanted people to "vote" for what they want, and only if the feature got enough votes would it get implemented. Hence, some really important features in the area of security and ease-of-administration were simply left off. My staff liked Confluence but disliked Jira, in terms of usability for our IT Support business in Tokyo, but ultimately we abandoned it.

What's in our Current Stable of Apps

We currently use a number of great applications.

Salesforce.com "email2case" - since we use SFDC for CRM anyway, when we heard about email2case, we did a pilot of it, and found it easy to set up and use. Email2case is a Java jar app that you run on a server, and it polls an IMAP mailbox per customer, putting any mail that comes into the box into a case for the company in SFDC, and assigning a ticket number. Sales staff can see tickets as "Cases" under the customer account. Very easy to keep up with what's going on, support wise.

Mindtouch "Deki Wiki" - this is the best wiki, as far as we are concerned. Very easy to set up either directly on your server or as a virtual server, has S3 support for attachments, is mashable with a huge number of widgets or gadgets, and has great wysiwyg editing that makes adoption easy.

Google Docs - For some situations, it is great to be able to collaborate on docs while you are creating them, real time. Need to keep abreast of what Google is doing anyway, in case it takes over the world (only half joking).

Replicon WebTimesheet or Harvest - these are time and expense tracking applications. WebTimesheet is a little more seasoned, but I expect Harvest will catch up. We can enter Japanese in WTS, but not in Harvest. Implementing WTS allowed us to save weeks of person-time every month collating time and expense spreadsheets.

Others - sometimes, 37Signals Basecamp, or task list apps like "Remember the Milk" and Toodledo.

I hope this list helps someone get started with collaboration. Enjoy!

Url for Mobileme Idisk Public Folder

MobileMe iDisk users can share files Publicly, but it's less than obvious how to do it. Further, the whole MobileMe experience is still a bit buggy as well, in my experience.

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Migrating Os X Leopard to a New Unibody Macbook Pro Late 2008 Model

I got a new "unibody" MacBook Pro, since my 1st generation MBP was on its last legs with breaking display, SuperDrive, fans, after 24x7 service for nearly three years. I'll have to get Apple to look at the old one since there is still warranty left. It was quite a process to migrate from the old MBP to the new MBP, so I thought I would write a log of what I did and how I got it working.

Migrating OS X Leopard to New Hardware

I managed to unbox the new MBP without taking a lot of pictures of its unboxing. Sorry. In and out of the box it is absolutely gorgeous. The glossy display is going to be a bit of a problem outside, though. Anyway, it's one of the nicest-designed devices I have seen in a long time.

Next I plugged the new MBP in and started it up. The multilingual "Welcome" video is always cool, and after that I made some of the basic settings. Remember, the first account you make should be something generic like Administrator. You can always make another account to use for yourself, later.

Migration Assistant (Mis)Adventures

The new MBP asked if I have a Mac, and so I said yes and tried using Migration Assistant. If you have done a little research on migrating OS X from machine to machine, you'll probably know about Apple's "Migration Assistant". Migration Assistant assumes:

Your old machine has a working CD/DVD SuperDrive, because you have to install software for Migration Assistant to use to connect.

You can connect to the other machine over your Wireless or Wired network.

Well, unfortunately my old MBP's SuperDrive was not working, and I could not get Migration Assistant to work. After a few tries with MA over wired and wireless networks, I gave up and decided to go manual. The short story is, yes, you need to do the "CD/DVD Sharing" install it is requesting!

In the end I backed out of MA, set up the basics and set up my own rcogley account. I took care to make sure the hard drive was named the same thing as my old hard drive (Macintosh HD), and that my account's shortname was the same as the old one (rcogley). This way, the paths are the same from old to new, and applications that are sensitive to path, will not choke when you migrate them.

MobileMe Saves the Day

Luckily I was using MobileMe on my old MBP, so everything was backed up there. I set up MobileMe in System Preferences, entering my name rick.cogley@me.com and password. MobileMe proceeded to sync everything down to the new MBP, which worked quite well. That said, there was a lot of touch and go with MobileMe after some time, because I also had it syncing on the old MBP at the same time.

I observed:

Dock items which are there by default were moved to my old MBP.

There was a question mark icon in place of my "Reveal in Path Finder" button, in Finder, since I had not yet installed Path Finder.

After the MobileMe sync, Mail accounts, iCal accounts, Safari bookmarks, Keychain logins etc "just worked", which was nice, but, some detailed settings like whether to store Sent Mail on the IMAP server, or not, got changed.

Next time, I think the best practice would be to turn off MobileMe sync on the old MBP, then sync the new MBP with the data up on the MobileMe service.

Software Update

Before getting on with moving files, I used Software Update to update to the latest Leopard OS X and other support software. Notably, the install was very smooth and fast, unlike what often happens on a well-used OS X system. I was having to use the combo updaters from Apple, because Software Update was simply not working well on my old MBP. It was nice to see it "just work".

Migrate Simple Files

Once the basics were done I concentrated on moving simple files and folders. I copied my old account's Documents, Pictures and Movies folders. This was many gigs of files, so I just let it go over night. When it was finished, I checked to see if everything was accessible, and it was. No problems so far.

Migrate Mail

Mail.app got its basic setup information via MobileMe, but there was one thing I had locally and not up on the server - Sent Mail. My "Sent Mail" was present only on the local hard drive, so I had to find it and migrate it. Mail.app stores local mail as a numbered file with ".EMLX" extension. Previously, you could not import .EMLX files into Mail.app, so you had to use a utility to convert them to mbox and import them. However, Mail.app in Leopard has a setting in File, Import Mailboxes, to import "Mail for Mac OS X" files, which is what you need to import .EMLX files.

My local sent mail was located in:

/Users/rcogley/Library/Mail/Mailboxes/Sent Messages (Gmail IMAP).mbox/Messages

I copied the Messages folder over to my new MBP, and then used File, Import Mailboxes, Mail for Mac OS X to import the folder into Mail.app on the new MBP. It imports into a folder under "Imports" in Mail.app, and you can then copy the messages where you like.

The rest of the mail was being downloaded from my IMAP accounts, and since I had my accounts set to not download attachments, this did not take so long.

Migrate Flock

I installed Flock by downloading and installing its dmg file in the usual way. To migrate settings from the old MBP to the new, I shut Flock down on both sides, and then copied:

~/Library/Application Support/Flock/Profiles

~/Library/Application Support/Flock/Profiles.ini

... to the same place on the new MBP, where the ~ of course indicates your user folder (mine is /Users/rcogley). Restarting Flock on the new MBP, I noticed Flock works fine and even picks up my last-used tabs and bookmarks.

Show Hidden Files in Finder, Too

I had forgot about hidden files in my user folder, so I ran the "defaults" Terminal command to show them:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

Migrate Settings Files

Now that hidden files were visible in Finder, I started migrating various settings files, carefully, by hand.

Apps I will migrate or use, here:

~/Library/Application Support

Selected preference files:

/Library/Preferences

~/Library/Preferences

Fonts:

/Library/Fonts

PDF Services I had customized in Automator, and various other folders in my Library folder:

````

~/Library/Scripts

~/Library/Widgets

~/Library/FontCollections

~/Library/Favorites

~/Library/Saved Searches

~/Library/Dictionaries

~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins

~/Library/Input Methods

~/Library/iMovie

~/Library/Fonts

~/Library/Compositions

~/Library/iTunes

~/Library/Lockdown

~/Library/PDF Services

~/Library/Recent Servers

~/Library/ImageWell3

~/Library/Snapz Pro X

~/Library/Workflows

Be conservative on this step, and go one by one. This took the longest, because I did not want to make a mistake, but at the same time did not want to reconfigure every app I use, either.

Reinstall or Migrate Applications

Next, Istarted migrating applications and reinstalling in some cases. You can migrate many, if not a majority, of Mac applications from one machine to the other by copying their .app file. As long as you have their "plist" preference files and support files, you are good to go.

As for reinstalling, I made these decisions to reinstall the following:

EMobile wireless dialup modem, and update the software to the latest one.

Any needed printer drivers, to avoid the detritus that they often install, and to get rid of a lot of unneeded printers from 3 years of heavy, chaotic use.

Apple professional applications like Aperture and Final Cut.

Microsoft Office 2008.

Adobe CS3.

Preference pane software such as Growl, Flip4Mac or Plaxo. (After I downloaded these, I found that they are located in /Library/Preference Panes, and you just double click to reinstall.

Everything else, I migrated. Most apps were well-behaved on the new system, and picked up their settings and preferences without a problem. I had to reinstall Nikon software because it would not start after having been dragged and dropped across.

In Conclusion

There are probably many ways to do this, and, it might be quite a bit easier to just have Migration Assistant do the work for you, but again that assumes you have a working SuperDrive on the old machine. The benefit to doing things selectively like I did here is that you have a fresh OS underneath, and can get rid of a lot of baggage from years of upgrading.

As always, I hope someone benefits from this experience. Please contact me directly, make a comment, but most of all Enjoy!.

Enabling the Script Menu in Os X Leopard

I use scripts such as Andreas Amann's excellent Mail Scripts, and to allow easy access to those, I wanted to enable the scripts menu in the menubar in OS X Leopard. I had done it before but promptly forgot how to do it. Here's how.

Enabling OS X Menubar Icons

All you have to do is visit:

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras

... and double click the appropriate menu file. The scripts menu is governed by "Script Menu.menu". The other icon options are as follows:

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/Bluetooth.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/TimeMachine.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/Verizon.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/IrDA.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/WWAN.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/Battery.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/AirPort.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/iChat.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/Volume.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/UniversalAccess.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/PPPoE.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/PPP.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/VPN.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/RemoteDesktop.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/Fax.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/Sync.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/Spaces.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/User.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/PCCard.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/Eject.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/HomeSync.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/Script Menu.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/Ink.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/TextInput.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/Displays.menu

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/Clock.menu

Just in case you wanted to reduce your menubar real estate.

Enjoy!

Excellent Hosting Services Littleoak Linode and Openhosting

I have had a good experience with the following three excellent hosting services, all with different approaches yet outstanding performance and customer service:

Little Oak

Linode

OpenHosting

In this article I'll say a couple words about my selections for superior hosting services (all LAMP platform), which include both the shared, and virtual private server types of hosting. They are all three different, but each has been very solid and recommendable with exemplary customer service and commendable uptime. I'll also mention some ways to supplement your hosting, helping you to save on bandwidth and cost.

My Shared and VPS Hosting Choices

Here are my choices for three outstanding hosting providers that I have had direct experience with:

Little Oak is a "shared" hosting service, where you sign up and are provided with a "dashboard" with which to manage your site. Log in to the dashboard, and you can install and upgrade popular applications directly, such as Wordpress, Drupal or Moodle. With shared hosting, your hosting provider maintains the servers, and you just worry about uploading files for your Website, clicking a button to back up, tweaking settings in your various web apps' admin panels, or clicking "upgrade" to upgrade a web app in the dashboard. Shared hosting is generally easy to use (Little Oak's is especially so), with the tradeoff that you lose a bit of control. At Little Oak, payment is monthly or discounted annually for a given set of memory, disk and bandwidth parameters. Little Oak hosting has been rock-solid with high performance, and they respond quickly and in a friendly manner (even offering to go the extra mile to help), to questions through a dedicated help ticketing system.

Linode is a Virtual Private Server "VPS" hosting service, where you choose what Linux distribution to install, like Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS and so on, and you get the "keys to the kingdom" (er, root access) on a virtual server running with other VPSs on a host that the provider maintains. VPS providers are as a rule hands-off in terms of managing your systems so you have to handle all the settings, backups and migrations. Some VPS providers offer value-added services like backups or other managed services. The advantage over a shared service is that you have control, but you're not going to get the friendly hand-holding that you would get with Little Oak. Linode has an excellent, easy-to-use dashboard system for managing your VPSs, where you can create disk images within your disk space, and load different OSs on your IP address for testing. This is a dream feature. Payment at Linode is monthly or discounted annually for a given set of memory, disk and bandwidth parameters. Linode hosting has been absolutely solid, performance high, and they respond quickly to questions.

OpenHosting is another superior VPS service I use, with a different approach. Instead of billing a fixed amount monthly or annually, they have what they call "utility pricing" which is a form of metered billing. You commit to a certain minimum amount per month for a set of parameters, but the system tracks what you use in terms of CPU, memory and network bandwidth, and can "flex up" to a larger profile. OpenHosting has the same advantage of control, and they use the well-regarded 64-bit "VServer" with the Cent OS distribution. They have an excellent built-in services of four disk image backups per day (via rsync) so that you can restore your system in case of disaster. Unlike with Linode, you do not get a choice of OS, so if you just need stability and the metered billing and are ok with Cent OS, then OpenHosting is your platform. OpenHosting hosting has been perfectly solid, high-performing, and they have a special "911" support feature for extra fast support.

Hosting Supplements

When you use a hosting service you are buying into certain parameters regarding performance and bandwidth. Say your blog gets popular or is "slashdotted". This can easily eat your bandwidth up, especially if you host a lot of media files which are inherently larger than just text. This is nothing new, but you can supplement your hosting by using free or paid services to offset your bandwidth or performance costs. For example:

Amazon S3 - you pay a small amount for space and bandwidth, and can take advantage of Amazon's huge technical infrastructure to host media files. Amazon S3 is not just for backup, but you can host files from it, and map a DNS "CNAME" pointer to it (that is, give a certain folder a direct URL). I use S3 to host large video files.

Flickr - Yahoo's photo hosting and social networking service allows you to link to photos you post, so long as you follow certain rules about how you link. I use Flickr to host all my photos, and use MarsEdit to link to them in this blog.

Google Services - Google has many services, and you can take advantage of some of these to host content. Youtube comes to mind, for hosting versions of your video content.

There are a lot of ways to offset your main hosting bandwidth costs, not just the three above.

Making a Hosting Decision

Why would you go with any one of these services? Well, if you don't know why you'd need root access, then the simple answer is go with Little Oak shared hosting. Don't believe the hype of providers saying they have "unlimited" bandwidth or disk space - that's just a pipe dream (really: no free lunches, ok?). I use Little Oak for my basic sites because I don't need to run Plone or other complex systems that demand root access and a lot of care and feeding. I can also set up a demo web app in 5 minutes via the dashboard. But when I do need to run something with custom parameters or special compiled settings, Linode or OpenHosting it is.

Why would you choose a given VPS then? As above, Open Hosting's utility pricing and regular backups are something special but there are cases where you need to pick an OS. For instance, it is much easier to run Deki Wiki from Mindtouch on Debian or Ubuntu, than it is to run it on Cent OS. The assumptions the developers made when building that system were that certain packages are available. They are available, easily, if you use Debian, but on Cent OS, it's like an assault on K2 and I hope you love that compiler.

I hope this article helps someone decide on hosting. Please give me some feedback directly or in the comments! I hope to hear from you and Enjoy!

Great Twitter Client for Iphone Tweetie

After getting an iPhone, I started looking around for the best Twitter client for the iPhone. There are many, many Twitter clients, attesting to the service's huge popularity. I tried Twitterfon and NatsuLion, both of which are good, but I like the feature-set and general snappiness of Tweetie from AteBits (8 bits in a b[i|y]te, get it?!). Tweetie's full set of features, from their website:

Handle multiple twitter accounts.

View your timeline, replies, direct messages and favorites.

Browse your friends and followers.

Post new tweets, retweet

Reply directly to tweets and send direct messages.

Follow and unfollow people.

Mark tweets as favorites.

Navigate reply chains.

Inline web browser.

Post links with automatic link shrinking via bit.ly.

Upload pictures to twitpic.com.

Update your twitter location.

View twitter trends and perform custom searches.

Save your favorite searches.

Implements the full twitter API.

Uses secure connection (https).

New: Go to User shortcut

New: Nearby search

New: Themes and adjustable font size

New: Bookmarklet support

Twittelator also looks pretty awesome, and I might try that after a while, too.

Screenshots to Flickr

My friend Craig asked how I go about posting screenshots to Flickr (since there's so many ways to go about it) so I thought I'd do a post on the topic. The quick answer is it depends upon the platform you are using, to grab the screen and then manipulate it, but let me go into a little more detail.

Creating the Screenshot

If you are on a Mac, your platform has a built in screen grabber called, creatively enough, "Grab". Start it by searching for it in Spotlight, highlighting it, and pressing enter. The default location for screenshots Grab makes is your desktop. This can be changed with some fancy Terminal footwork.

More advanced Mac alternatives are available, such as what I use, Ambrosia Software's "Snapz Pro X", or RealMac's beta "Little Snapper". Snapz lets you choose various parts of the screen and has ways to customize what the image looks like, where it is saved, and what to do with it, like sending it via email.

If you are on a PC, by default you can press Print Screen, then paste the resulting BMP on the clipboard into a graphics app. Paint Brush works fine, but the graphics from Print Screen are BMP format and therefore fairly large. My favorite screendump app for the PC is TechSmith's SnagIt. This is one of the most versatile screendump programs out there. You can even grab menu text.

If you are using the iPhone, you can press the Home and Lock keys simultaneously, which will put a screenshot of whatever you are looking at, into your Camera Roll.

Getting it to Flickr

Once you have the file, there are many ways to post it on Flickr. I choose email because it is so easy to do. I set my Snapz to output to an attachment in email, then fill in the Subject line (the title of the photo) and the Body of the mail (the description of the photo). I add some tags typing in "tags: tag1 tag2" and so forth, after my body text. Flickr prepares a special email address for you for posting, which I address the email to. As for Windows, you can do the same setup with Snagit, as well, and, you can use ShoZu to post to Flickr from your iPhone photos.

When the picture file arrives at Flickr, the mail Subject goes into the Title, the mail Body into the Description, and the tags into the respective tag location. I do a little bit of post-processing up on Flickr, marking the screenshot as a screenshot (defaults to photo), editing tags or adding to sets and groups.

Workflow Summary

For a summary, here's what I do start to finish:

Arrange my screen so I have a shot ready to be taken to better illustrate some concept.

Press Cmd-Shift-3 to bring up Snapz Pro X. Select the region or window with Email selected for output.

Enter Subject, Body and Tags in mail when it appears, then send mail.

Confirm mail made it up to Flickr, and tidy up the photo's settings.

In the end, it's very easy to do.

Iphone Tap Tips

After (finally!) getting a new iPhone and contract from Softbank here in Japan, just like I did with Mac Keyboard Shortcuts, I struggled a bit with the "tap sequences" one needs to learn to be able to input text or navigate efficiently in this superior smartphone.

How to Manipulate the iPhone with Taps and Button Presses

For convenience, I compiled a list of iPhone "Tap Tips", or shortcuts for tapping and pressing the buttons and interface of the iPhone, which I hope will be useful to iPhone users.

For instance, do you know what these sequences do?

Triple-click the mic clicker.

Double-press the home button.

Double-tap space when entering text.

If not, take a peek at my "iPhone Tap Tips" list for the answers and more, and most of all, Enjoy!

Google Labs Adds Task List to Gmail

Wow, Google Labs just keeps adding and adding functionality to the Google stable of apps. Now you can have a task list in your GMail or Google Apps Premier Mail, made from the incoming mails you indicate.

How to Enable Your GMail Task List

You can enable the GMail or "GAPE" Mail Task List by visiting the Google Labs tab in your GMail settings, and enabling Tasks.

  1. Enable your Labs Tab if you have not already.
  2. Visit the Labs tab and Enable Tasks, per the screenshot in this article.

That's it. You can now check-select any mail item, choose Actions, and convert the mail into a Task. The Task list is accessible by the keyboard shortcut "gk".

The GMail task list is not uber-sophisticated, but it is functional. If you don't use something like OmniFocus, this might be your tool. Enjoy!

Burning Audio Cds With Text Info in Itunes

If you use iTunes to burn audio CDs from your playlists, you might have been bitten by this problem: you burn the CD to later find that there is no "CD Text" indication of what the song or band is, despite your player's supporting the display of such text. Just a whole pile of "unknown artists".

How to Include "CD Text" When Burning in iTunes

Next time you burn, select your playlist or songs, click "Burn Disc" from the lower right in iTunes, and when the Burn Settings popup window appears, be sure to select "Include CD Text". This, and "Use Sound Check" are not selected by default. Select them, and you are good to go. If you rip or ingest a CD into iTunes, this CD Text will show up in the first place if you have an active Internet connection, and iTunes was able to access the CDDB "Gracenote" database of artist, album and song titles.

By the way, I'm using iTunes 8.0.2 on the latest Mac OS X, so your mileage may vary. You can also use Toast Titanium to copy a CD you own directly, and include the CD Text so that when you play the CD in your car, the song titles show up.

Error Handling in Rapidweaver Websites Tutorial

I created a tutorial about Error Handling in RapidWeaver Websites which explains how to make a custom 404 page with useful links to help your visitors when a 404 does occur, and how to use 301 redirects in your .htaccess file to assist with page renaming or re-pathing.

A 301 redirect just points the visitor at the new file you specify, when they try to visit the old file. Useful for adds, moves and changes. The tutorial has a lot more detail than what is in this post, so please take a look at it. I hope it is useful to someone.

RapidWeaver 404 Contents with Google WidgetRapidweaver 404 Page Inspector

Upload Files via Email to Google Docs

I just discovered that you can upload files to Google Docs via email. Get your special email address at this URL when you are logged into your Google account:

http://docs.google.com/?action=updoc

There are some limitations as to what you can upload, both from a document type and size standpoint, but this feature sounds useful to me.

Html Signatures in Gmail From Blankcanvas

I found a very useful Firefox plugin from "Blank Canvas", that enables your GMail to have HTML signatures. Because it is a Firefox plugin, I thought it might work in Flock, and sure enough, it does. Once you install it from this page on Blank Canvas' site, and restart your browser, you can create your signature in GMail's Compose window. This had been a GreaseMonkey script but the author converted it to a Firefox plugin. Thank you, Blank Canvas for a very useful tool.

Consolidated Rss for This Site

I have RSS feeds from all different sources - my blogs, my topics Glossary, Flickr, SmugMug, Facebook and so on, and I imagine that this is not an uncommon problem for people using the latest technologies and social networking sites. I wanted a way to let visitors subscribe to the updates of my personal site, without complexity, and via either RSS if they are familiar, or, via the old standard email.

How to Consolidate your RSS Feeds and Allow Subscriptions

Here's how I combined the RSS feeds from all my various sites, and static pages, into one consolidated feed:

Create a Yahoo Pipe, drag the "Fetch Feed" object onto the canvas and connect it with the Pipe Output object. Add all your feeds to the Fetch Feed object.

Create an RSS feed from my site's static cycling training log, using FEED43.com, and add the resulting feed to the Yahoo Pipe.

Save and publish the Yahoo Pipe, and add its address to FeedBurner.

Use the incredible amount of settings on FeedBurner to customize your feed.

Copy the HTML for the subscription form from FeedBurner to an appropriate part of your site.

In the end, I added my blog feeds, my FAQ feeds, my Flickr feed, my glossary entries feed, and the special "scraped" feed via Feed43.com for my cycling records, to the Yahoo Pipes pipe, to have a single feed with all my updates in it. You can subscribe here.

Feed43 Extraction Rules for Cycling Training Log

Chinese Domain Scam Register Now or Else

I received the unethical blackmail email below, which upon doing some research is a scam. Here is a telling blog entry on the same with hundreds of non-victims compleat with saucy-yet-puerile rebuttals from the scammers.

Report the China Domain Scammers to CNNIC

I reported this to the NIC in China - CNNIC and to the Hong Kong Police Technology Crimes division. If you receive a mail with a subject line similar to "Subject: URGENT --dispute of internet intellectual property safeguard", forward it along to CNNIC who controls the registrars in China. Here is the contact info from CNNIC's website:

CNNIC Service

4, South 4th Street, Zhongguancun,

Haidian district,

Beijing 100190, China

POB: Beijing 349, Branch 6

TEL: +86-10-58813000

FAX: +86-10-58812666

E-mail: service@cnnic.cn

You can also report to the Hong Kong Police Technology Crime Division.

Technology Crime Prevention Unit,

Technology Crime Division,

Commercial Crime Bureau, HKP,

22/F, Arsenal House,

Police Headquarters,

1 Arsenal Street, Wanchai

Hong Kong.

TEL: (852) 2860 5012

FAX: (852) 2328 7128

Email: cpu-tcd@police.gov.hk

Here's the scam letter, for your reference:

(If you are NOT CEO,please forward this to your CEO, because this is urgent.Thanks.)

Dear CEO,

We are the department of registration service in China. we have something need to confirm with you. We formally received an application on November 17, 2008, One company which self-styled "Speed(China)Investment Co.,Ltd" are applying to register (esolia) as internet brand name and domain names as below (esolia.com.cn esolia.net.cn esolia.org.cn esolia.mobi esolia.asia esolia.hk etc.).

After our initial checking, we found the internet brand name and these domain names being applied are as same as your company's, so we need to get the confirmation from your company. If the aforesaid company is your business partner or your subsidiary company, please DO NOT reply us, we will approve the application automatically. If you have no any relationship with this company, please contact us within 15 workdays. If out of the deadline, we will approve the application submitted by "Speed(China)Investment Co.,Ltd" unconditionally.

We would like to get the affirmation of your company,please contact us by telephone or email as soon as possible.

Best Regards,

Kevin Wu

Senior Director

TEL: +86 21 69929440

Fax: +86 21 69929447

Website:www.qipeng.org.cn

E-mail:Kevin.wu@qipeng.org.cn

Just what we need. More scammers and spammers.

Enable Google Labs in Google Apps Premier

If you read my post about enabling Google Labs in GMail, I'm happy to report that the trick also works in Google Apps Premier Edition "GAPE". Go to the Labs tab via an URL like this (edit it so that it has your own GAPE domain).

https://mail.google.com/a/your-gape-domain.com/?labs=1#settings/labs

Now you can have that Google Labs goodness in GAPE. Enjoy!

D90 Support Apple Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update

Now the Nikon D90 RAW format is supported by Aperture and iPhoto. You can get the update by going into Software Update in your OS X "Apple Menu", or, at Apple's Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 2.3 page. The supported cameras are:

  • Nikon D90
  • Nikon Coolpix P6000
  • Canon EOS 50D
  • Sony DSLR-A900

Thank you, Apple! Finally!

Address Book Vcard to Windows User Garbled Japanese Fonts Etc

Apple's "Address Book" is included with OS X and is part of the "triumvirate" which also includes Mail.app and iCal.app, gives you the ability to drag address cards to Mail, where they are automatically pasted in their vCard, or VCF, form.

Problems Sending vCards to Windows Users

In trying to send VCFs to Windows Outlook users, I discovered two problems by trial and error. First, the Windows users could not open what I was sending even if it was in English, and second, the Japanese fonts in the vCards were garbled. The bottom line? Use Format version 2.1 for the greatest compatibility and set your language accordingly.

Word 2007 Performance Optimization Tips

A Windows user colleague asked about optimizing Word 2007 documents because he is having no end of problems working with 100 or 200 page documents in Word. If you are pushing the envelope in Word use, you might like to keep in mind several recommendations.

Here are some Optimization Hints for Word 2007

Defragment your hard disk regularly. This is not necessary on a Mac but for Windows, you definitely need to do it. (There are other maintenance tasks you have to do for a Mac, of course and you can use OnyX for those.)

Use the Microsoft "DOCX" format which is the default for Office 2007. If you are collaborating with a person who only has Office 2003, there is a free filter they can download and install, which allows them to use the latest and more efficient format. The DOC format is binary, while DOCX is XML-based and much better for efficiency. The new DOCX format is 75% smaller than the old DOC format, and is less prone to corruption. Your colleagues using Office 2003 will need to install the Microsoft compatibility kit, that allows them to open DOCX.

Do not keep all revisions of your document, for the life of the document. Instead, "accept" revisions in, at certain times during the edit cycle. Having 100's of revisions in a Word document will degrade performance.

If you are using a lot of graphics in your Word 2007 document, do not simply paste in BMP files because these are large and inefficient. Instead, use PNG and adjust the PNG to be as light as possible before you paste it in. If you are taking a lot of screen prints / screen shots, you can do this easily using Techsmith's excellent utility SnagIt. It is much, much easier than using the print screen button and MS Paint, and the results are light and better for long documents. In addition, you can use "picture placeholders" instead of the actual graphics, to save memory. Click the Office Button, Word Options, Advanced, Show Document Content. Select the "Show picture placeholders" checkbox. Or you can simply use the Draft view to display graphics as empty boxes.

Use fewer fonts in the document, and uninstall fonts you do not use. Fonts use up system resources.

Disable background saves which Word 2007 has enabled by default, and which take up memory. You can disable them by clicking the Office Button, then in Word Options, click Advanced, and in Save, clear the "Allow Background Saves" checkbox. If you do this, remember to save frequently.

Disable automatic grammar and spell checking, which constantly checks text in the document. Click the Office Button, then Word Options, then Proofing, and clear the "check spelling as you type" and "check grammar with spelling" checkboxes.

It goes without saying, but confirm that the PC you are using has enough system resources to complete the task, including disk space and RAM. If you have a desktop, you can install a fast secondary hard disk, such as a SAS or SATA drive, and put a page file on this drive. Further, you can help performance by moving your My Documents and work files to this faster hard drive.

In my experience, Word has never been an excellent platform for long, complex or heavy documents. I too had a lot of trouble writing manuals for technical training courses 10 years ago. In the end, the best thing is to use a proper DTP program if you are doing long documents, such as Adobe InDesign and Quark Express, or, if you are working large documents with a team, Adobe InCopy. If you must use Word, then you might give the above a try.

Upload Photos in Specified Order to Flickr From Aperture for Better Visibility

Pro photographer Thomas Hawk gives good advice in his article about getting attention on Flickr (whether that's a good thing or not is a different matter!) that you should upload fewer shots with the best one last.

So if you're an Aperture user, how do you accomplish this sort of forced upload order to Flickr without having to upload each photo individually? I'm using the Connected Flow FlickrExporter plugin for Aperture, and all you have to do is choose your photos in reverse order with the best one selected last.

Here's How to Force Upload Order in Aperture

Let's say you have 5 photos to upload, since 5 is the number that Flickr will announce to your contacts if they have chosen to be updated via email. Choose the couple you judge to be the worst first, and then choose the top ranking ones in reverse order best-is-last, holding the cmd key down while you click. Remember the keyboard shortcuts that are similar in both Windows and Mac: click to select, Shift-click to select a range, Cmd (or Ctrl)-click to select noncontiguous items.

When you do File, Export, you will notice that they are in the selected order.

New Google Gadgetry in Gmail

Photo of - New Google Labs Features - Google Calendar and Docs or other Gadgets in Gmail.You might have noticed a couple of new Google Labs features available in Gmail. If you have your Google Labs tab enabled, you can go there, scroll to the bottom, and check the new Google Gadget-related features out. Now you can get a Calendar view or a Docs view via Gadgets right within your Gmail, or specify any Gadget URL as well. Google moves so fast sometimes it is hard to keep up. Nice to have the new features, though!

Ladder by Georgios Karamanis

I love this shot by Georgios Karamanis. Incredible color! Flickr is such an incredible resource for finding great photos.

Aperture 2 1 2 Update No Nikon D90 Raw Support

Apple updated Aperture to 2.1.2 today, but alas, no support yet for RAW files from the Nikon D90. RAW files are a capture of the data right off the camera's sensor, and are so-named because the files are not yet processed into something that can be viewed or printed. RAW files are usually something only pro photographers or at least "prosumers" are concerned with and are only output by DSLR-type cameras, but recently even high-end compacts like the Nikon CoolPix P6000 or the Canon G10 support RAW.

Camera makers include proprietary software with their cameras that can read their own RAW file format and display or edit it, but the included software is often less-than-stellar in quality. And despite the drawbacks like the proprietary nature of each RAW format (Nikon's NEF, for example), and the large file size (usually twice the size of a high-quality JPEG file) you want to use RAW when you want the highest level of control in post-processing the photograph, since so much detail is available in the RAW file in the first place. So, people turn to software programs like Apple Aperture, Bibble Pro and Adobe Lightroom. It must be a huge challenge for Software Makers to keep up with RAW formats. Here's hoping that Apple puts Nikon D90 Support in version 2.1.3.

Update - after further research and to be accurate, Apple updates its RAW support with "Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update" software updates such as this one, which either come as standalone updates or as part of an OS X update. See "Digital Camera RAW Formats Supported" and Aperture's RAW Support Page. So, this is not an Aperture issue per se, as Apple has built RAW support into the Digital RAW Compatibility module. Maybe the fact that Adobe Lightroom has been updated to support the D90 will help motivate Apple.

Double Duty Lumiquest Softscreen Ir Filter

I am beginning to read through the outstanding and extensive off-camera lighting tutorials on David Hobby's "Strobist" blog, so that I can take better photos with my Nikon D90. The way I understand it, Strobist is a philosophy of DIY, using found or inexpensive materials over bespoke, and no-brand over brand.Lighting is a complex subject, and it takes a while to study up on the terminology and terms. For a while, you swim (drown?) in TTL, CLS and Guide Number soup, until it starts to make sense. There are many decisions to be made, including whether to go Strobist (i.e., manual), automated Nikon CLS (Creative Lighting System) or some combination, whether to trigger your strobes optically or via wire or via transmitter, and so on. I have a Nikon SB-900 speedlight. It is Nikon's latest, a big mother of a flash, and I want to use it off the camera so that I don't fry the eyes of my subjects (only half joking). You can use the built-in flash of the D90 DSLR as a "commander" for the SB-900 and other modern Nikon flashes (SB-800, SB-600, SB-R200). The SB-900 can also act as the commander in either the fully-automated Nikon CLS scenario, or, in a more Strobist-like SU-4 optical-master / optical-slave scenario. One problem I read about is that when the built-in flash is acting as the commander, of say an SB-900, it will emit pre-flashes to check exposure and so on, and these sometimes can have a negative effect on your exposure meter-wise, or by causing your model to close his or her eyes, or in the case of critters, spooking them away. So, your alternatives in trying to take care of this problem are: Get a Nikon SU-800, which is a dedicated commander module with no flash capability. It is sold separately and as part of a macro photography kit. Get the 12 dollar bracket-and-screen set from Nikon called the SG-31R, which blocks the pre-flashes. This is just a bracket you slot into your hotshoe, and a connected black screen that hangs in front of your on-board flash. Wire up your SB-900 speedlight using a SC-28 or SC-29 cord and use it as the commander tethered to the camera.Put a bit of 35 mm film over your built-in flash since it is supposed to allow IR to pass through but block light. Kodak 120 Ektachrome processed unexposed should do the trick.Use "flash value lock" to get an exposure monitor pre-flash first, before taking the shot. Less chance of squinting or blinking.Cogley - Lumiquest SoftScreen IR Filter 20081021Cogley - Lumiquest SoftScreen IR Filter 20081021Cogley - Lumiquest SoftScreen IR Filter 20081021Or you can do some creative, space-saving DIY, and use an inexpensive IR gel filter to block visible light while allowing IR to pass. I recently bought a Lumiquest SoftScreen, which is a compact diffuser sheet designed to make your on-board flash's light softer. It hooks into your hotshoe, and then you hook the other end of the screen onto the housing for the on-board flash. The on-board flash's light will shine through the SoftScreen's white screen and get diffused. This seems to give better results than the somewhat harsh light from a direct hit from the built-in. When I heard about the purpose of the Nikon SG-31R screen, though, it occurred to me that I could somehow jury-rig the SoftScreen to hold an IR filter using its case, doing double-duty and saving me from having to carry around yet another contraption. Cogley - Lumiquest SoftScreen IR Filter 20081021Cogley - Lumiquest SoftScreen IR Filter 20081021Cogley - Lumiquest SoftScreen IR Filter 20081021Cogley - Lumiquest SoftScreen IR Filter 20081021In the end, I bought a 900 yen (about 8 dollars) Fuji Film #92 IR Gel Filter (actually, it filters the light and lets the IR through), at Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku, Tokyo, on the 3rd floor of the Camera Kan near the large-format equipment. It even has a little paper holder so you don't mess it up with your grimy mitts (perfect for me, what with all that bike grease on my hands!). ### The Steps to Pre-Flash Squelch Nirvana Here's the steps I took to rig up the SoftScreen with the FujiFilm IR Filter:Buy a Fuji Film IR Filter at Yodobashi camera in Shinjuku, Tokyo. It was on the 3rd floor, with the large format film cameras. Open the filter, and install it in the little paper holder (two cardboard squares with a circle die-cut out). Secure the edge of the filter with a little Gaffer tape. Make a cut with an Xacto knife in the bottom of Lumiquest SoftScreen's plastic case (the side furthest away from the flap side), long enough to fit over the housing of the built-in flash (not the flash itself but its cover). Cut through both sides of the case, and secure the edges of the cut with some Gaffer tape to make sure it does not rip. Test that the slit fits over the flash cover.Insert the SoftScreen's white screen portion into the case, so that the case flap drops over the black back of the screen, facing the photographer-side of the camera. Align the hole in the screen with the slit in the case.Put the Fuji Filter in the case with the SoftScreen.Mount the half-encased SoftScreen on your on-board flash. Test that the pre-flashes are cut down, but that remote Speedlights still get fired. Try also just propping the filter behind the SoftScreen, without the case. I am not sure which is better and YMMV.At any rate, I hope you Enjoy it!

Japan Cycling Route Totsuka Mekujiri Sagami Ebina and Back

This last weekend I researched and tried a new cycling route, which turned out to be about 59 km. The route goes through Totsuka, Shonandai, Up the Mekujiri River on a bike path ("jitenshado" 自転車度), across Zama to the Sagami River, Down the Sagami on some trails, and back across to the Mekujiri River bike path via Ebina. I entered the route on Google Maps so other English-speaking cyclists in Japan can enjoy it.

Riders should note, that the Mekujiri RIver Bike Path has sections where every 100 meters there is a "gate" you have to swerve through ostentatiously to keep speeds down. If you want to just ride straight and fast, the Yamato Fujisawa Jitenshado is better. Also, the Sagami River bike path is not so much bike path but rather more trail, and is still underdeveloped and so would not be appropriate for a road bike. I read online that they are building a proper bike path along the Sagami River, which is due to be complete in 2011. I tried to pick routes where if the route was along a road, at least there was a decent sidewalk available to use, for riders who are still a little nervous about riding on the road directly.

Enjoy!

Auto Update Presence Info and Twitter

One challenge a person who uses various "Social Networking" web-based applications to network and share information faces, is how to keep them updated. Often, they have application programming interfaces or API's, that a programmer can use to automate various aspects of the system.

A good example of API use is Google's "Statz" application. Statz allows you to update the status or presence information of various applications such as Adium, Colloquy, Conversation, iChat, ircle, Skype, Snak, Tumblr or Twitter. When you change your status in Statz, from "On the Road" to "In a Meeting" and so on, it updates the status of all the applications you have added to the list of apps Statz is meant to update.

Now let's drill down into one of the apps that can be updated via Statz, called Twitter. Twitter is a popular "micro blog" system, in which the concept is you enter what you're doing now, a "tweet", which gets fed into the twitter "stream" along with probably millions of other tweets. Twitter is not a chat system per se, but has that nuance. Statz lets you put "In a Meeting" or "On The Road" or "Away" in Twitter, but another type of "what are you doing" information that might be good for Twitter is when you blogged something or uploaded a photo.

Enter Twitterfeed. Twitterfeed monitors your Really Simple Syndication or "RSS" feeds after you enter them into your Twitterfeed account. RSS feeds are lightweight text files that automatically show site content updates and are output by many types of websites including blog, photo sharing, and forum systems. Here's how it would work:

Create a Twitter account, supplying your email address and then setting up Twitter as you like.

Sign up for Twitterfeed, using an OpenID. I used my Google Blogger ID, but many others are available to choose from.

Now you can enter RSS Feeds into Twitterfeed. For example, Blogger, Flickr and Smugmug all have RSS Feeds that you can use. When you enter an RSS feed, you tell Twitterfeed how often to check it, and what prefix text it should append when it feeds your Twitter.

When it is set up, Twitterfeed will check your designated feeds, extract the latest feed update and appropriate URL, and post these to your Twitter stream with the text prefix. As a bonus, it uses TinyURL to help you keep under Twitter's Tweet length limit of 145 characters. TinyURL shortens any URL into an URL like http://tinyurl.com/3wxjb4.

The resulting Tweet looks something like this:

Post: Finding Photos within a Date Range in Aperture: A friend using Apple's powerful Aperture ph.. http://tinyurl.com/3rsbkc

Enjoy!

Google Statz Interface on OS XFlock Browser <abbr title= RSS Indicator Icon" />Twitterfeed <abbr title= RSS Feeds List" />RSS Feeds in the "NetNewsWire" <abbr title= RSS Feed Reader Application" />RSS IconYahoo's <abbr title= RSS List" />Twitter Autoupdated by Twitterfeed

Crumpler Sinking Barge Slr Camera and 15 Laptop Bag

To protect the Nikon D90 and allow me to maintain my sanity while commuting with my computer equipment as well, I bought a black and grey Crumpler Sinking Barge bag, which holds a 15" laptop like a Macbook Pro (not the 17" version, though), an SLR and medium-sized lens, one extra lens, and has enough room for a flash, cables and so on. Today I am carrying all that plus a change of clothes.

Crumpler has a zany flash-based website that you just have to experience. It is like a big vending machine, complete with some funny off-color product demonstration vids featuring employees. Good stuff.

What I like about it is that it looks smooth, not like your typical camera bag, has excellent zippers and workmanship, and protects my usual equipment quite well. If I have any criticism, it is that some of the pockets are a little tight to insert a hand, there is no place for a monopod to be clipped (you need to get the bigger Crumpler models for that), and the inside flap is overly long. Overall, it's perfect for my needs.

Crumpler Sinking Barge 2008 - 1Crumpler Sinking Barge 2008 - 4Crumpler Sinking Barge 2008 - 5Crumpler Sinking Barge 2008 - 2Crumpler Sinking Barge 2008 - 6

O Reillymaker Roll Your Own O Reilly Book Cover

Ever wanted to bust out a cool book cover just like the ones O'Reilly does? Well now you can, thanks to www.oreillymaker.com. When you hit publish, you get your very own cover URL to show to all your friends.






No Bikes Allowed on the Bridge to Hakkeijima

I tried the hilly, hilly East route again this weekend, and made it all the way to Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, which is an awesome place to take the family. The trip was about 45 km, and I dragged the Nikon D90 in my quite-rugged Speed Freak waist pack from Think Tank Photo, and took a few shots of the bridges in that area with a wide angle lens.

When I tried to cross the main bridge to Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, thinking I'd get some lunch there, I was greeted with a blasted announcement aimed right at me. "No Bicycles Allowed in Hakkeijima Sea Paradise. Please use the bicycle parking lot behind you on the left." Actually it was more like "NO BICYCLES ALLOWED!" And of course it was in Japanese. I was so surprised by the volume I nearly fell off! (It was definitely cranked to 11) So much for lunch at Hakkeijima. I got a lot of evil stares (like Ultraman), and then some laughs because I understood the warning fully, and that it was aimed at this helmet-wearing, waist-pack toting white-boy gaijin, but at least I did not get fined 98.00 bucks for my 6 feet.

Enabling Labs Tab in Gmail

If you would like to use some of the Google Labs features in Gmail but cannot find the Labs tab, you can enable it by visiting the following URL after you log in:

https://mail.google.com/mail/?labs=1#settings/labs

Now you can just click the Labs tab and start selecting the Labs features you want, like "Advanced IMAP Controls" to avoid downloading the entire All Mail folder. Gmail will remember you want the Labs tab for next time.

New Hilly Japan Bike Route From Gumisawa to Hakkeijima

Saturday 11 Oct I rode a new 40 km route, this time going East from the mother ship towards Hakkeijima. I went up kanjo 3 go, towards my elder daughter's school, and over to CostCo for some bagels and granola, but it was much harder than I thought, with a 4 km hill right out of the gate. A good difference from the usual "almost no hills" route. Hill-riding is really a different skillset, and is tiring in a different way from my 63 km route down to Enoshima, along the coast, and up via the Sagami and Mekujiri rivers.Check out my other bike routes in Japan, as there are some really nice places to ride here in Kanagawa and Shonan.

Save Local Disk With Gmail Advanced Imap Controls

I outlined "Setting up Leopard Mail.app with Google Gmail IMAP" previously, and Google Labs has released a new feature for regular and Google Applications Premier Edition Gmail - Advanced IMAP Controls. How can you use this to save space?

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First 70 Km Bike Trip

I did the River-Sea-River route Saturday in the rain, my first bike trip to exceed 70 km with a brisk personal best time of 34 minutes from Totsuka to Enoshima.

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Mac Keyboard Shortcuts Updated

See the updates in Mac Keyboard shortcuts. I added some more beef on the explanations for startup commands especially.

Os X Leopard Upgrade to 10 5 5

I upgraded my system to OS X Leopard 10.5.5 via Software Update (not the combo updater), and there seem to be no overt problems with the upgrade. But there were a couple things to note.

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Jvc Victor Wooden in Ear Headphones Hp Fx500

When my iPod's basic headphones died, I bought the wooden JVC Victor HP-FX500 model earphones for about JPY 15,000. These have a wooden trembler, and so the sound is very natural.

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Nikon Coolpix P6000 Released in Japan 11 Sept 2008

The Nikon point-and-shoot COOLPIX P6000 was released in Japan today and I checked it out at the Shinjuku Yodobashi Camera.

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Finding Photos Within a Date Range in Aperture

A friend using Apple's powerful Aperture photo management application asked me how to sort photos into date ranges, such as an entire year, a calendar month, or by day. Here's how to do it with Aperture's Smart Album feature.

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New Nikon D90

I got a Nikon D90 and it's a wonderful DSLR. Hope to be able to write some FAQs or Tutorials about it here.

Mail App Downloading Attachments or Not

Have you been using Apple's Mail.app for a while, and the size of the stored mail is simply increasing with no end in sight? You can tell Mail.app to not store attachments locally, delete the mail, and re-download just the text content. Assuming you can use the Terminal a bit, here's how:

Screenshot showing Mail.app settings for disabling attachment downloading.If you set up Mail.app in OS X to download attachments for an IMAP account, and then later decide you do not want to store a copy of each attachment locally, you can change the account settings so that only the headers are downloaded. You can make the setting in Mail.app Preferences, but, it takes a while to synchronize. Sometimes a good looong while.

Assuming OS X 10.5.5 and that all your mail is already up on the server, first, set "Keep copies of messages for offline viewing" to "All Messages, but omit attachments" in Preferences, Accounts, Advanced.

Next, shut down Mail.app, to get it to release the folder we'll now work on. Then bring up a Terminal, cd into the appropriate IMAP folder and confirm and delete the contents using the rm command (again, this assumes you have the mail up on the server already):

Delete Inbox in Preparation for Re-Download
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[user@system]$ cd ~/Library/Mail/
[user@system]$ ls -la
[user@system]$ cd IMAP-myaccount@mailhost.mydomain.com
[user@system]$ ls -la
[user@system]$ rm -rf INBOX.imapmbox
[user@system]$ rm -rf etc

Before you delete, check what is in there using the ls command, and the size of the folders using the du command:

Use du to get folder sizes
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rcogley@RickMBP ~/Library/Mail/V2 % du -hsc *
2.2G    IMAP-rcogley_work@mail.webfaction.com
 15G    IMAP-rick.cogley@imap.gmail.com
4.0K    Mac-rick.cogley
162M    MailData
235M    Mailboxes
460K    RSS
 17G    total

Next time you restart Mail.app, it will rebuild the folders it needs, under your IMAP folder.

Warning: Don't bone-headedly delete your email without a backup!

Enjoy!

Update 20130124: Still works in OS X Mountain Lion but the mail folders are in a V2 subdirectory, which you need to CD into.

Rick Cogley S Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

Check out my list of Mac Keyboard Shortcuts, especially tasty for beginning Mac users.

Schwalbe Marathon Trip Report

Today I did this route, which has about 10 km of gravel and trail, 13 km of sandy asphalt, and the remaining 40 km regular paved roads or bike roads. I was very pleased with the Schwalbe Marathons I got last week. They have a good feeling, roll very well, and seem to be tough enough to go over patches of asphalt with glass shards without incident. Kudos to Schwalbe for making such a tough tire!

New Schwalbe Marathon Tires

My original Geax StreetRunner slick tires were getting cracked after about 1500 km of use, so I took the opportunity to put Schwalbe Marathon tires on the bike.

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My Bicycle Routes Mostly in Japan

I decided to create some Google "My Maps" to show the bike routes I take near my house in Yokohama, Japan.

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Exporting Google S My Maps as Kml

I have been spending some time making Google Maps in "My Maps", such as this bike route down the Sakai river, then along the Shonan coast, and back home.

Some applications, like Google Earth, use KML data to represent map routes. There is an easy link now, in My Maps, to click and open the map directly in Google Earth. But if you need the KML data for importing elsewhere, you can save it this way:

First, in one of your maps in Google My Maps, copy the URL for "View In Google Earth" by right clicking the link and copying the URL. On a mac, it's "copy link location".

Then in a blank browser window, enter the URL in the address bar:

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;msa=0&amp;output=nl&amp;msid=103784915361440638280.00045507229fde71c84ca

Now change the output by switching output=nl to output=kml. Entering the URL will give an option to save. Save the KML file somewhere on your drive, and then you can import it elsewhere.

Celebrating Regiment With Rodney Strong Symmetry

I decided to celebrate Phantom Regiment's DCI 2008 championship win with some Rodney Strong 2000 Symmetry, photo of label below.

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Phantom Regiment I Am Spartacus

Phantom Regiment - Drum & Bugle Corps won the 2008 DCI Drum Corps International Championship yesterday with a evocative, powerfully emotional show based on the story of Spartacus, the gladiator and slave-leader who led an army of slaves against Rome in the Servile Wars.

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21 Years in Japan

Today marks my 21st anniversary of coming to Japan! I've officially spent half my life here, and things are going well!

Bicycle Training Log

I bought a new Centurion mountain bike last winter, and have been riding regularly. I decided to log my travels and hopefully chart any progress. Usually I ride down the "Fujisawa Yamato Jitenshado (cycling road)" to Enoshima, round to Kamakura and back home via Ofuna. It's a good trip for me, at about 35 km depending on which route I take.

When I look at the average times of the Tour de France riders, I am humbled. They are incredible athletes, averaging something like 40 kph on the stages, which means they are probably doing 30 uphill and 60 down. Wow!

Photo Tampering Throughout History

So "Photo Shopping" is not a new thing. Not at all! Check out Photo Tampering Throughout History for a taste of what's been done.

New Microsoft Remote Desktop Client for Os X

Microsoft released a new Remote Desktop Client version 2, with a useful multi-session feature (the previous version could only connect one Windows system at a time). Download it here.

Saving Downloading Flv Files Using the Safari Activities Window

If you have a YouTube video you covet, you can save it to your hard drive using the videodownloader Firefox extension, or using other websites such as KeepVid. For sites that do not work this way, there's still hope for Mac users.

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Open Source Project Management Software Openproj

Wow, a full-blown opensource project management app from Projity. Check out OpenProj.

Emacs Gui Version for Os X Aquamacs

Found an interesting Emacs GUI - Aquamacs. Works with Japanese as well. Now if I can only get over my allergy to all those keyboard shortcuts.

Sproutcore Apple S Open Source Javascript Development Platform

If the new desktop-like apps in MobileMe, Apple's replacement for its .mac service, are any indication, SproutCore is going to be the source of some really incredible apps. AppleInsider calls it Cocoa for the Web.

Textmate Japanese Input Bundle

I use TextMate for text editing in OS X and love its clean interface and features, but the defaults do not allow Japanese input and choosing Fonts has been problematic. Never fear. Hetima san, the developer of SafariStand, released a bundle called CJKInput for TextMate to allow Japanese input, and has a font to boot. I searched a few times for this in English and Japanese, but for some reason never came across it despite its having been around for quite some time.

At any rate, you can download CJKInput, and unzip and copy the tmbundle file into:

~/Library/Application Support/TextMate/PlugIns/

Hetima's Font-Forged, Mono-Space Japanese font ForMateKonaVe.ttf is here, so you can install that in the normal way. Enable it in TextMate Preferences, and away you go. The font is an amalgam of a Japanese font and the open source Bitstream Vera Sans Mono, so it looks good too.

Design Stencils Yahoo Design Pattern Library

I occasionally search for design stencils and keep an eye out for them via Google Alerts and so on. Yahoo has a library of stencils available at Design Stencils - Yahoo! Design Pattern Library which has a set available in Visio, Photoshop, Illustrator and OmniGraffle format. For OmniGraffle stencils, there is also GraffleTopia.

If you are not familiar with the concept, design stencils are an illustration that is made available in a design or illustration application, so that you can just quickly drag the illustration from a picker menu, to your drawing canvas. That way, instead of reinventing the wheel and illustrating an office chair every time, you can just drag a stencil in and voilà! you're done. Makes life easy, and makes you look good.

Large 450mb Upgrade to Leopard 10 5 3

This AM I upgraded my two macs, a first generation MBP and a G5 iMac, to Leopard 10.5.3. Please note, the upgrade is large, at 450 MB, and when you finally restart it seems to cause Mail and iCal to freeze. You need to allow it to perform its processing on those apps, because it apparently does some kind of check on the mail and calendar contents.

After the upgrade, I noticed that Option-Cmd-Eject (puts OS X to "sleep") works more smoothly, and that opening the laptop from the sleep state is quicker. Perhaps that is a coincidence, but this update is said to have covered a large number of bugs.

Flushing Dns

When accessing websites or mailservers, your DNS resolver caches the request so that future lookups are fast. However, sometimes when a zone on DNS is being changed while you work, you want to be able to clear the cache to force the resolver to get the latest name:IP address pair mappings. What to do about this?

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Tip Get the Os X Version From Cli

If you are logged into OS X as usual, you can get your system version from "About This Mac" in the Apple menu. This is not helpful when you are remotely connected to a server via SSH, however. So how do you do it?

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Tip Os X Leopard Screen Sharing Tweaks

The default Leopard screen sharing app can be made a little more ARD-like, if you add some parameters via the "defaults write" command in Terminal. Check out the default style by sharing the screen of a neighboring computer in Finder, then read on to learn more.

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Tutorial Making Nice With Mail App Rules

This tutorial describes how I solve the challenge, marking my subscriptions and regular mails as "Expiring", so that I can use a smart folder to view and prune them regularly.

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Tutorial Setting Up Leopard Mail App With Google Gmail Imap the Basics

This tutorial describes how I set up Mail.app in OS X Leopard to handle both private and work email, using Google Mail accessed via the IMAP protocol, and sending mail via my ISP's SMTP server to avoid the Outlook "sent on behalf of" problem.

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Tip Making Mail App Messages Readable

I have a Macbook Pro, and I noticed upon upgrading to OS X Leopard, that the default message size for Mail.app messages was too small to read. Sure, you can add a button to your toolbar to increase font size on a per-message basis, but this gets old after the 1000th time. What to do about it?

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Tutorial Make a Reference Times Lister

In my job as a consultant, I often need to schedule meetings across timezones, and sometimes do not want to struggle with cross-platform incompatibilities between calendar software. A few tips follow, about how I help myself with this, using Mac OS X Automator.

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Apple Macbook Air

Apple - MacBook Air - wow! How do they do it?! What an incredibly slim laptop.

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Failed Reinstall of Adobe Creative Suite Cs3 Disk 2

I installed some software that overwrote some vital portion of Adobe Acrobat, so when I try starting that app, it complains, asking for a reinstall. What did I do?

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Getting Things Done With David Allen Himself

Check out this YouTube video of David Allen himself, speaking about Getting Things Done, and two keys to sustaining a healthy life and work style.

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Convenient Snippets Code Collector Pro

Ed from the RapidWeaver forum gave me a tip on how to save little snippets of programming code.

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Clarify Colleagues Knowledge Consultative Management

In consulting or consultative management, I strongly feel that it's important to make an extra effort to clarify your colleagues' knowledge, to assist them in their job.

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Very Sexy Apple Docking Patent Works Perfectly With Ultra Slim Macbook

Just saw Gizmodo's article on the Apple Docking Patent for a slim notebook that docs inside an iMac. Wow, that's sexy!

Fallingwater

The wonderful Frank Lloyd Wright-designed FallingWater in Bear Run, PA, USA never ceases to amaze. Here is a shot from a trip there in Jan 2008, with my parents.

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Meet Your New Favorite Browser Flock 1 0

I had been using OmniWeb and Firefox on Mac OS X, but read an interesting review about Flock, a new browser based on Firefox but geared more toward the Social Web.

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Pm Process Make Sure It S Done Right

In any project, there are varying levels of these broad-stroke activities, including Initiation, Controlled Implementation, Closure and Maintenance. I have arrived at this definition which we use at my company eSolia, by combining the PMI and Critical Chain methods, and massaging them based on a lot of experiences during projects over the last 14 years.

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Blinkenlights

Gotta have a little humor in your professional life. Do you know the story of blinkenlights?

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Five Basic Consulting Steps Adfir

I identified five steps for our consulting practice at eSolia, which include Agreement, Discovery, Feedback, Implementation and Recycling. If the consultant takes care to complete each step diligently, he or she will find that the consulting process goes more smoothly, and overall it is better for business.I

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Client Wants vs Practicality

I had a discussion about an Important Concept the other day with my German IT colleagues from a client. During their visit to Japan, we were discussing that for good user support, it should not be "I want application X" but rather "I want software that does function X".

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A Successful Year in 2003

My company eSolia had a very successful year coming off a weak one. I'm thankful for how things went! Thanks to our faithful customers, my incredible executive partners Yuui and Takumi, the dogged perseverance of our very professional staff Hiroki, Ena, Maki, Momo, Scott, Yasu et al, and the saintly patience of our capital partner, we pulled the company back into the black.

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