A Tollbooth Merry Christmas anyone?

I recently went on vacation the week before Christmas with my family.  While driving, I came across the tolls that Florida loves to charge for.

I decided to be in the holiday spirit and wish the toll attendants a Merry Christmas.  Out of six attendants, two returned back a reply with “Merry Christmas.”  One replied back with “back to you…”  One just looked at me dumbfounded.  And the last one said thank you.

And there you have it ladies and gentleman.  The latest poll results at just how friendly Florida Tollbooth attendants are around the holidays!  🙂

Quicksilver and Google Search

The more and more I use my Mac.  I rely on Quicksilver to launch applications, run special instructions, etc.  I’m not a hardcore user of QS just yet, but I decided to spend a few minutes to see if I could automate my Google search.

My normal steps require:

  1. Open browser (or switch to it if already opened).  If the latter, I use ⌘-TAB until I highlight the browser of choice (Firefox/Safari).
  2. Open a new browser tab: ⌘-T
  3. Type “google”; the first item defaults to http://www.google.com
  4. Type my search query, press ENTER.

After following these steps I found on Google.  My steps have been reduced to a customizable global hot key…

  1. Press ⌘-2
  2. Type search text, press ENTER.

Much better, now I just have to retrain my mind and fingers.

iTunes Apple ID and MobileME

What started as a simple task, has completely gone awry.  It was a simple change…but not so simple in the eyes of a big company (Apple) and its support staff.

I started out by wanting to update my iTunes account to use my MobileMe email address.  Upon logging into my Account Settings, I attempted to update my email address.  I quickly noticed there was no longer an email address field.  Instead, reading the helpful hints in between the fields, they explained that the Apple ID and email address are now one in the same.

OK, no problem, I’ll just put my new MobileMe email address (firstname.lastname@me.com) into the AppleID field.  I clicked submit and received an error.  iTunes was telling me that my MobileMe already had an iTunes account associated with it.  What?!? Continue reading

VoodooPad, DEVONthink, NoteBook

I came across VoodooPad and have been using it on/off for a couple weeks.  I began first using it to take notes while attending some longer meetings (vendor product assessments).

After getting the knack for VoodooPad, I began using it a bit more the other night. I am recording server setup steps so that I may refer to them the next time I have to set another server up.  I can easily flip to the applicable page “FTP HOWTO” in my notes and follow it to ensure I leave nothing out.

Months ago, I began toiling with the idea that I should use a wiki.  But the web still lacks one rich feature that pains me so.  Drag and drop an image into a form on my browser.  This often leaves me looking for a 1st class application on the OS I am using.

An online Wiki (like one from pbwiki.com) is a great aid.  In fact, it even ensures my data is always safe.  But still, I have to deal with that annoying File -> Browse -> Select -> Insert File workflow.

Tonight as I began adding more information, I found another digital notebook type of application called NoteBook by Circus Ponies.  I am impressed.  But I haven’t yet downloaded it to try it out yet.

Then I found DEVONthink.  Wow….not too bad.  Of course it should be when the Professional Office edition is $150.  Granted the “personal” edition is only $40.

So for now, its back to VoodooPad.  There are some things I wish it did better.  For example, I haven’t found a clean way to lay out items side by side (using tables).  I cannot associate an image with a link to another page or website.  I do however seem impressed by the Python script that can be ran within a document.  I could see writing steps to set something up, and including a test script that can be executed at the end of the HOWTO to verify the service is properly working. 🙂

Jury is still out on these…

Python 2.5 to 2.4

Last night we ran into a slight problem.  We are running Python 2.5 on our Macbook’s, but our server is running a very stable 2.4.  No problem right? Well kind of.

The first problem we encountered is related to PEP 308.  Someone who had written a RSS parsing plugin for Django, failed to mention that it minimally needed Python 2.5 to run correctly.  But this is one of the greatest advantages of open source.  I rolled up my sleeves and removed what the PEP calls conditional expressions.  I’ve always referred to these as the Ternary operator [or operation]. Continue reading

iPython on Mac OS X

What worked for me; short and simple:

1) Install iPython

  1. sudo easy_install ipython

2) Download the file/egg for Mac OSX readline, and place in path, then edit easy_install.pth

  1. Download:  http://ipython.scipy.org/dist/readline-2.5.1-py2.5-macosx-10.5-i386.egg
  2. cp ~/Downloads/readline-2.5.1-py2.5-macosx-10.5-i386.egg .
  3. sudo vim easy-install.pth
  4. While editing the file add:   ./readline-2.5.1-py2.5-macosx-10.5-i386.egg

3) Run iPython and test.

Salute during National Anthem now permitted

A skydive buddy of mine, Arne, who served in the Marines just emailed me this:

WASHINGTON — Veterans and active-duty military not in uniform can now render the military-style hand salute during the playing of the national anthem, thanks to changes in federal law that took effect this month.

“The military salute is a unique gesture of respect that marks those who have served in our nation’s armed forces,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. “This provision allows the application of that honor in all events involving our nation’s flag.”

Which can also be found here. Nothing wrong with a proper salute by a vet.  Someone asked me today if I was happy being out of the military.  Hell no…I miss it, but it wasn’t fun all the time either.  The men and women who serve and the families left behind when they go off to fight dedicate a lot to this country.

To all the Veterans out there…thank you very much!

To my buddy Kurt….blue skies man…I’ll have a beer for you!

Earth Class Mail vs EarthMailFree.com???

I was reading this blog tonight and couldn’t believe my eyes! EarthClassMail.com is claiming that EarthMailFree.com is infringing on their copyright because of the use of the two words EARTH and MAIL in the domain name!

The irony at least for me, is I watched several entrepreneur TV shows that specifically talked about Earth Class Mail! I was quite interested and excited of what the company and CEO were doing.  Sure they had their problems with the start up.  Not to mention they rewrote their entire site to Microsoft’s ASP.NET barely finishing and pulling off fixing bugs before the start of a conference they were attending.  I was sorry to hear yet another company were accepting “offers” from Microsoft with no significant technical merit to back their decision.  Rather than perfect their product, they instead wasted precious time getting to market in fixing a new ASP.NET website written in haste! Still, I must admit, I watched the show.

Then I come across this blog, and find that Earth Class Mail is actually suing the domain name owner of EarthMailFree.com! Are you kidding me? Maybe Earth Class Mail are borrowing lawyers from Microsoft as well?

Let me say one thing to this new company.  Piss off enough of us “little” people, and it will spread like wild fire…see you back on the streets in a couple years!

Anna Deavere Smith: Four American characters

I began watching TED earlier this year.  But it wasn’t until I purchased my iPhone until I began watching TED regularly.  TED podcasts have since been removed off the iPhone.  Instead, I download the HD version on my Apple TV.  I prefer to watch it in my home office or while in my living room without distractions.

Maybe I am growing old, but I have noticed lately I tend to listen more in conversations than to speak.  I find it enjoyable to truly process what one has said, combined with body language arriving in a few short sentences on the topic which we are discussing.

It is amazing even days ago that someone told me I am being too quiet during meetings at work.  I thought to myself; actually I only want to speak when I feel something is relevant.  I’ve come to the conclusion that people enjoy sharing their opinions, relevant or not.

There are also the people who speak because they are passionate or at times annoyed about a situation.  I use to be and still am one of those people.  My passion can cause me to dominate a conversation.  I would say I am making progress.  While others would say I am less passionate or disengaged.

The reason I am mentioning this is because I really enjoy listening to the stories shared on TED.  They host very passionate people who have some great ideas to share.  I don’t watch them all completely, but I give each one a few minutes to get started.

Tonight, I watched Anna Deavere Smith portray four American characters. Not only did she act out the parts, but the stories she shared caused me to become fully engaged in each.  Nothing seemed scripted, as she shared true accounts of research she had accomplished while traveling in America.  I highly recommend watching it! Anna demonstrates her acute listening skill by replaying her own encounters with these four American characters.

Overall, TED reminds me to be a better listener and consider what can be learned by each and every person I interact with in my daily life.  Listening better has helped me improve my personal and professional relationships.

Django 1.0 install on Mac OS X 10.5.5

I initially used this guide, but made some changes:

1) Downloaded Django-1.0.tar.gz from here.

2) Created and extracted the contents of the tar.gz:

mkdir ~/sandbox
cd ~/sandbox
tar xzf ~/Downloads/Django-1.0.tar.gz

3) Make the following soft-links:

cd /Library/Python/2.5/site-packages/
ln -s ~/sandbox/Django-1.0/django django
cd /usr/local/bin/
sudo ln -s ~/sandbox/Django-1.0/django/bin/django-admin.py django-admin.py