Archive for category My Life

Simple Todo’s

I like my lists. I also like to keep them simple. Sites like,, and other are great for people that like that level of record keeping. The problem I have with them is that I spend more time organizing my todo’s that actually doing the todo’s. It’s actually a character flaw of mine, I like to monkey with features so I endlessly tinker. I actually enjoy installing new software just to see how the developer implemented standard features, or even new ones. Like a graphic designer trolling the web looking for inspiration.

When Gina Trapani put this out, I loved it! I do a fair amount of work from the command line so it was always available, but then I also do work on my desktop. Which brings me to my number one annoyance with computers, task switching. Yes, it’s really not a huge thing, but nothing annoys me more than trying to flip through my apps looking for what I was doing 10 seconds ago then totally forgetting what I was doing in the first place. For some odd reason task switching is a trigger for my ADD to kick in at high volume.

IMG_20131204_194637_534 For this end, I love keyboard shortcuts and finding the fastest way possible to switch between programs, having 3 screens helps too :-) But Ubuntu really helps out with the Unity app shortcuts as well.

Now I found this little gem so I can keep my todo’s even more conveniently located. I haven’t tried it out yet but here’s hoping I can remember it when I get home.


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Ubuntu One shutting down

I saw this coming, I was hopeful it wouldn’t but I knew it would just be a matter of time. How could Ubuntu compete with the likes of Google, Dropbox, Box, etc? There were a ton of other’s in the cloud sync space offering more for less. Granted Ubuntu One had tight integration with Ubuntu desktop tops, but so did Dropbox.

Ubuntu’s attempt at a music store faltered from the get-go as well. I was fully willing to pay a little extra to support them and use their streaming service. However, the service was near impossible to use and finding music was even harder. I purchased a couple songs to try it out and was thoroughly unimpressed. File sync was slow, and streaming music was accomplished via browser plugin that didn’t support playlists or organizing your music. If you wanted to organize your music you had to sync your collection to your local machine and organize it through Rhythmbox. You could tell it where to sync your music to so it all go dropped into a hidden folder in your home directory.

Give that I basically live my life out of Google these days I’ve been dying for a way to get GDrive on my desktop. Why, when Google seems so pro-linux would they hold off on a Linux client? it really makes no sense to me. So given that there is no official client I am all but certain I am going to drop the $15 to buy the insync plus client. I have 15 GB of storage and most of my stuff is there anyway. My entire music collection is there already and I can stream it via the Nuvola player. I can use Google’s music downloader/uploader to keep my music synchronized. If I run out of room for some ungodly reason I can just purchase a ton more for about $24 a year.

Ok, so I tied insync and I am sold. Tried the 15 day demo and bought a license for insync plus an hour later. This is really good software. Get yours

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A sad day for ‘free speech’

So I’ve been following the story of Brendan Eich become CEO of Mozilla. Then the subsequent backlash by LGBT Mozilla employees over the hiring of this ‘hater’. In a related turn of events, the website OKCupid put a message on their main page if you browsed in with Firefox that you should use a different browser. So now amid the controversy, Brendan Eich has stepped down as CEO of Mozilla today. This is a sad day indeed for free speech.

Let’s flip this whole situation on it’s head and see how the loudmouths respond to this situation. A straight employee quits and a website prompts your to change you browser because a gay CEO was appointed to lead Mozilla. I think the criticism would be along the lines of ‘that poor CEO being attacked by all those bigots’. This may be surprising to some, but prejudice against a majority is still prejudice. Mr. Eich never imposed his beliefs on his employees nor did he publicly drive an anti-gay agenda. The guy gave $1000 to support proposition 8 in California, oh the horror. When did the ‘free’ in free speech come to mean, “as long as it agrees with the LGBT agenda”?

Let me say that I have a lot of respect for Mr. Eich as the founder of Javascript and as a technologist. However, I have to say I am saddened by his decision to step down as well. He should have weathered the storm and stuck with it. In a week or two the loud mouths with an ax to grind would have found something else to bitch about and he could have carried on with with his life.

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I was intrigued when Google’s Marissa Mayer went to Yahoo. I thought that it would be cool to see what she did with the company. A new direction and increased vigor would be good for competition and the intar-webs as a whole. She definitely shook things up initially by making everyone work from an office or quit. That move made sense to me, most full-time offsite workers are less productive (please note the MOST, I didn’t say ALL) and she wanted to make a statement that people should start delivering or GTFO.

Ok cool, so we have a positive trend going here. Yahoo mail is usable again, the calendar app has even been revamped and… hmm, looks a bit like Gmail with it’s minimalist design. But you know, good design is good design and shouldn’t require a lot of bells and whistles. Then Yahoo maps got an upgrade.. wow, didn’t even realize they were still around, but ok.

Now I read this. I am not always the most observant netizen, but this is starting to smack of Yahoo trying to copy Google stride for stride. Not to call out the obvious here, but I think Yahoo is going to lose in a foot race against Google. This could end up like the Samsung/Apple smartphone race. Samsung has made a nifty business for itself by just copying whatever Apple puts out. Lately Apple hasn’t been doing much innovating and surprisingly…neither has Samsung. I am going to venture a guess that it’s only a matter of time before Mayer starts running out of Google products to copy.

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Buy Roccat peripherals

When I built my current rig I actually had the hardest time trying to determine what to get for a keyboard and mouse. I wanted hardware that would be better than average but I didn’t want to pay the premium for the hardcore gaming keyboards and mice. I went to Bestbuy and tried everything they had, although most of it was either Microsoft or Logitech. The Logitech keyboards were nice but I really don’t like wireless peripherals since it annoys me to have to buy batteries every couple months. I am not a huge fan of mechanical keyboards because of the clackety-clack sound they make while I am typing, membrane keyboards are just fine for me.

When I started to investigate Linux support it because very clear that none of the manufacturers had given even a thought to supporting it. These top of the line keyboards with configurable hot keys and special bindings just flat-out wouldn’t work under Linux. There were some hobby projects that gave partial support to some of the hardware, but it either wasn’t hardware I was interested in or it was for hardware that was out of my price range. (I set a limit of $125 for both a keyboard and mouse) I was quickly running out of options until I ran across ROCCAT (sounds like row-cat, NOT rocket…I think) They had Linux support and their hardware was both above average and within my price range.

I ended up going with a ROCCAT Kova[+] mouse and ISKU keyboard. After 6 months of usage I have to say I have no complaints. The drivers are even updated periodically with bug fixes and new features. So there you go, next time you are looking for good peripherals, go with ROCCAT

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Facebook buys Oculus

For those of you that haven’t heard:

Well, I’m glad I didn’t back their kickstarter. I guess we can bid any sort of great VR headset goodbye. I am sure Facebook has no interest in developing a solid VR gaming headset. Notch, the legendary creator or Minecraft dumped $10k into the oculus, and he really isn’t happy about this. Who can blame them though, Facebook gave them $2 billion for their creation. I think I would be hard pressed to not sell my idea for that kind of money. These guys [Oculus] seemed to be genuinely interested in developing this VR headset for purists. What could Facebook possibly do with that kind of tech?

I have to admit, I’m not a venture capitalist so I might not be able to see the possibilities here, but VR with social media just doesn’t make any sense to me. I just don’t see a teenager strapping on a VR headset to update their social status and view pictures of kittens. “Hey Grandma, you can keep up with the family on our Facebook page! Just strap this thing to your face, get motion sickness, vomit all over the place and enjoy the vacation pictures!”

Most interesting part of this buyout is now John Carmack is a Facebook employee.

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Hi Google+

Just testing out the integration between G+ and my WP site..

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I just realized my site looks suspicious

Have you ever done a web search, and clicked on a link, only to be taken to a site that has no images, a bunch of text and an suspicious looking text? I usually gloss over the page and quickly move on. Those sites generally are just trying to get you to click on a link that will present you with an ad or something. Well, I just did that with my own site. If you look there ins’t much in the way of images on the site, its mostly text and my ramblings. To someone just coming to the site for the first time they might not recognize that the site is in fact legit, and not thinly veiled attempt by a Chinese hacker to trick you into clicking on something so I can install crapware on your ‘puter.

I don’t do much with graphics any more, so I am I am going to try to put a little more flavor into my site. Most people don’t want to see my pictures, since they are mainly of my kids. I don’t do photos of my food, so thats out, I could take some pics of my dog, but that might get old quick. I will have to look around and see what other people are doing. When in doubt, copy like a lout…. or something like that

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And now a Mac

I’ve been complaining that I can’t run Linux at work since they moved to the new VPN. I’ve tried time and again to get it to work but it is a proprietary system that only has a client for OSX and Winders. I’ve been using Win7, which all in all isn’t too bad, for about the last year. I was talking with one of the newer guys that got a shiny new MacBook Pro when he started about building our project. I told him that when I kick off a build I generally have about 17 minutes of browsing the web time since the build process basically renders the computer almost unusable. He was dumbfounded that it too me 17 minutes to build our project because it only took him around 3 minutes for a full clean and build. Surely he was misinterpreting what I was doing, there is no way the build times could be that different, hey, it’s all just Java.. Sure enough, he showed me and the project built faster than I had ever seen.

He started up IntelliJ in less than 20 seconds and I got pissed. Usually when I get in in the morning the first thing I do is start up IntelliJ, then I go get coffee, go to the bathroom then commando crawl back to my desk just in time for IntelliJ to have started up and begun indexing my project. I immediately put in a request for a Mac.

I got my shiny new MacBook Pro a couple weeks later and eagerly started setting up my development environment on it. I gleefully flipped the bird at my old PC every time I ran the native command line or built one of my projects. So far everything has been going swimmingly, I have completely transferred all my work to the Mac and I’ve been working off it exclusively for the past couple of weeks. There are only a couple of things that make me raise and eyebrow about how the Mac works

1) What the hell did Apple do to the Unix file system?? What is this /Library and /System and other odd folders doing in my root? Best just to delete them since they look erroneous (joking.. don’t really do this, it really messes with your system)

2) Task switching, I know it’s a little nit picky, but I seriously can’t Cmd+tab to a minimized program? Why show it in the list if selecting it isn’t going to do anything.

3) Does everything seriously cost money on a Mac? I guess the notion of Free as in beer hasn’t made it’s way here yet. Yes, I’m a bit on the cheap side, but hey, I use a free operating system I’m not going to pay $5.99 for a better task switcher for my work Mac.

4) The command and control keys need to be put into a ring and only one of them gets out alive. Seriously Apple, which one is it going to be? It seems Apple wanted to replace the control key at a system level with command but all the application developers disagreed and continued to use the control key for all their shortcut commands. This is an area of endless frustration for me, it usually takes me 3 tried to copy anything then another 2 to paste it.

Thats it for now, I’ll be sure to post some more annoyances in the future. So far I like the Mac better than my PC, but it isn’t as perfect as the Mac fan-boys would lead you to believe.

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Mintty to the rescue

I am stuck on a Win7 machine at work. I used to run Linux on it but then the company changed their VPN to this Windows and sorta-Mac supported only solution. I had to dump the penguin so I could have access outside the office, kinda important that. So yeah, other than my world passing me by at half the normal pace there is little difference, oh wait no, that’s completely inaccurate. The thing I miss above all else is the command line. I tried to replace it with the Windows Powershell but I seriously didn’t feel like learning everything from scratch, I did give it a concerted try though.

Just for comparison, take all the nifty bash/zsh commands you love and enjoy on a daily basis, now rename all of them, and don’t get cute by naming them something easy to remember. No, use something long, and make sure there are plenty of hyphens. Now take all the options you were used to passing to those commands and rename them too, almost there hang with me. Now close your eyes and just mash your head against the keyboard to get a rough idea of what it feels like to replace the Linux command line with Powershell.

Well I did what any self respecting Linux lover would do when relegated to Win-land, I installed Cygwin. Yes, that bastardization of *nix on a Windows shell. Or something, I couldn’t come up with anything snarky there. Regardless, running Cygwin offers a glimpse of home without actually letting you get there. It’s slow sure, but it offers enough familiarity that I actually enjoy using it over the endless point and click of a standard Windows user experience. The standard cygwin command line is terrible, running RXVT native makes it manageable. However, I just found Mintty! It’s sort of like Putty (based on some Putty code I gather) and with the proper amount of tweaking can actually result in a likeable experience. Couple that with screen and I hardly miss Linux…who am I kidding, I still go home at night and just poke around my laptop (running Xubuntu) just to feel better about myself.

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