gCal Cleared my Dock

May 20, 2006

dockAs seen in the <small> picture, I now have only two items on my dock: Firefox and NetNewsWire Lite. Quicksilver takes care of accessing every other application easily without the need to see it down there all the time.

Until recently, I had included iCal with the docked applications. Not because I used it all the time, but because I felt I should be using it more, and thought that if I saw it, I would be more likely to use it.

However, Google's new Calendar has now permanently removed iCal from that exalted position.

gCal (as I will now refer to it) gives me everything I need in a calendar application. I can access from any computer, I can add new events without having to navigate to the specific date, and I can see my wife's calendar at the same time, so we both know what's going on when. Universal access was always a big limitation in iCal. As I'm at school or work for much of the day, to use iCal I would have to try to remember any events until I get home, and then put them into the calendar.

I also like to be efficient (which my wife calls 'laziness') and so gCal's intuitive short-cuts to adding new events really helps me with that 'efficientness'. I can essentially click anywhere and add an event by typing something like "Tim's birthday party 5:30 – 7:30 on May 19th" and it is automagically added to the correct day and correct time.

Also, when someone calls and invites us to something (which happens oh so often) I can call up gCal and check both my and my wife's schedule right there. Here is a pretty good web site that explains a lot of the tips and tricks of google calendar.

And with Quicksilver, its just as easy to access gCal as any other 'application'. I simply set up a key-binding (Command+shift+c) to open gCal in a new tab.

I also have it email me every morning with my schedule (looks like you can have it send it to your phone as well, but it won't work with my Verizon plan as of yet) so in-case something big is going down, I'll be ready.

Give it a try, and add me to your shared calendar space. Soon people won't have to talk to one another, just check GMail and gCal, and you know what's what.


The Time-sink of a new web site

March 26, 2006

Over the Spring Break, I spent some time developing a new web site for my mother's RV park and campground business. Over all I'm pretty happy with the results (especially considering what it used to look like). The main drive for making the site over was to make it easier for people without much web experience to navigate through it. I made the buttons very simplistic (and most are based on signs you would see in parks), and over all the site is very picture driven.

I also wanted my mother to easily add her own content without having to email me every time she wants to update. I found a hosting service which allowed me to easily install wordpress and gallery. Now she can post news updates and pictures easily through the application interfaces or even by email (with wordpress that was easy, haven't figured a way to email with gallery yet). I think the wordpress "news" sections will really allow her to get info out quickly, and it shouldn't be too hard for her to manage.

I wrote most of the site by hand using Textwrangler and later with Taco HTML Edit. Both really great and free text editors. Textwrangler is my new favorite, and I use it for just about everything. But Taco has some nice features and I can see how it would be a good idea to keep it around. I used a great CSS template to not have to worry a lot about the basic layout.

One thing I am still frustrated about is that my mother uses a lot of punctuation, namely: "", ', &, and !'s. I've found that these characters don't transfer over to HTML very gracefully and so have been trying to find a quicker way to replace them with the correct codes, besides doing it all by hand.

I think Textwrangler is powerful enough and scriptable enough to do this, but I couldn't figure out an easy way to search and replace multiple characters at one time (although it did a good job when finding and replacing just one character at a time).

I am still looking for a good solution to this problem. I tried "MassReplaceit" and "iReplace" but neither worked very effectively. I would think there is an easy solution to this kind of problem. What do professionals do when they get a large amount of text from a higher up to be placed in a web site? Is there a trick I'm missing, or an industry standard I don't know?

I'll keep looking, and hopefully find a better solution than, "use dreamweaver".

Any suggestions about the new site? Tell me

Update:  I remembered that Textwrangler has the ability to "Open from ftp/sftp" which allows me to just edit and save directly to the site.  This should make updates for the base pages go a lot quicker.  Thanks Barebones software for the awesome free-ness that is Textwrangler. 



January 13, 2006

Sage symbolFor my wife’s birthday, she wanted to redo our spice rack with glass bottles and spices that she might actually use (I guess Bed Bath & Beyond isn’t up on the necessary spices for cool hip twenty-somethings).  I got the idea that it would be cool if each spice was labelled with a recognizable symbol for easy retrieval from the rack without having to squint at the names of each one.

Enter symbols.com . This is an amazing online database of around 2,500 symbols and their origins and meanings.  What is cool is that you can search in a multitude of ways, my favorite being the “graphic index” search in which you describe the structure of the symbol you want and it comes back with a listing of the most probable matches.

I didn’t use the search too much though, just browsing through the symbols was cool enough.  It was hard choosing the right 16 for the spice rack, but I think I did a decent job.

We will find out in a few days when the labels finally come in.  Stupid Office Depot only carries a small circular label — and I needed a medium!

The Symbol above is the one I choose to represent “sage”.  I think it matches up pretty well.  Read about it Here.

the WordPress vs Blogger battle

January 2, 2006

So today I discovered the joys of WordPress.
Wordpress is another blogging “engine” that might beat out blogger for my current favorite blog site.  It allows for easy tagging of your posts, something I have been wanting from blogger since day one.

In fact, there are multiple things about the default set up that I enjoy in WordPress.  The search engine feature is very nice, as is the easy adding of links and link categories.

Check out my basic WordPress site here

I might eventually switch to WordPress in the very near future.  There are just a couple things that blogger does better:

  • Ability to email to post new blogs (which is what I’m doing now).
  • Storage of pictures instead of just linking to them
  • spell checker.

If i can figure out work arounds for 2 out of 3 of those issues, I may leave blogger in the dust.
What do you think?  I’m still not ready to commit to a hosted solution, but is WordPress worth it? or will blogger get tags soon?

Everyone Should be Using Del.icio.us

November 7, 2005

Del.icio.us is a great online resource with a catchy name. Del.icio.us is an online, taggable, social bookmark manager. This means basically you can bookmark a page in del.icio.us, and then get to it from any other computer later on.

Lets say that you were researching a school paper and you were doing it both at home and at school. Well, instead of emailing yourself all the links back and forth (which would be very painful to do with anything but gmail), you just add them to your del.icio.us account and your done. When you switch computers, you just log into del.icio.us and they are all there.

Better still, you can “tag” each link and provide a description so you can find it later. Tags are keywords that you group content under. They are similar to folders, except an object could have several tags, but could only be in one folder. So, you could tag each link you find with “school”, “paper”, and then the specific topic you are looking at. Then when you wanted to find them again they would all be under the proper tags. Excellent!

Even better still, del.icio.us is a social system, meaning you share your bookmarks with others and can see other peoples bookmarks. This is particularly nice, as you can search for similar tags from other people. For example, the science tag will give you links to such sites as the Nobel Prize Internet Archive .
My favorite tags: website, apple, css, security, and freebsd.
Check out my del.icio.us account here

And if you want to see whats cool on the Internet at this very moment, then check out the popular section. Its delicious.

Everyone should read “A List Apart”

November 4, 2005

If I had just an inkling of talent for it, all I would want to do with the rest of my life is design websites. Of course I am currently working towards more practical and better suited careers for myself. However, website design is just something that is inexplicably fascinating to me, and if was good at it, I would make a career out of it.

Regardless of artistic talent, we can all aspire to be website snobs. Being a website snob takes very little talent, and just a little background reading about how websites should look and act. A List Apart is where I go to learn about proper website design. It is a beautiful resource filled with articles written by website designers for website designers. Read a few of these essays, and you’ll start to understand the infinite complexity of website design, or at least how picky some people can be.

And then try out your website snobbery: when you see a site written in all flash, scoff at it and then point and laugh with others around you. When a site is using tables instead of CSS exclaim “How crude!” to whomever is nearest to you. Soon everyone will know you are an expert website critic.

Maybe that’s what I’ll become someday, a website critic. They have movie/food/music critics, why not website critics?
I’ll get my own column in the Lawrence.com paper. And they’ll increase my bandwidth limit too, so I can review more sites… A perfect plan!

Men who Know

August 28, 2005
I was looking at old war posters tonight, and couldn’t help but post about this one I found.
It’s pretty funny

Who knew, there are a TON of posters about syphilis!

Check out this great resource Here

Says that they are mostly in the public domain too!
Here is a better way to search through them