Thursday, July 31, 2008

Google Translate

Google Translate can become very handy for translating short sentences or even web pages from one language to another to get just an idea what the text is about. I haven't been using it much so far, but if I end up finally learning Finnish, I might need it more often to help if I have a hard time understanding an article or some words.

Monday, July 28, 2008

How GTD helps me to tame my bookmarks

Bookmarks have the habit of growing ruthlessly over time. Using GTD to tame my bookmarks results in having different folders reflecting the different states of a "task" or project (which would correspond to a link or a collection of links). Bookmarks are either collected in the "@Inbox" folder if I'm short on time or then are directly processed and put to the appropriate folder as described below:
  • @Inbox: When I'm short on time, then new bookmarks land in the "@Inbox" folder, which does not contain any sub-folders. Like with the physical Inbox basket or the email Inbox, I every now and then (best at least once daily) go through the "@Inbox" folder and process the bookmarks in it. If the content can dealt with within 2 minutes I do the appropriate action, then discard or archive the link (see below for folder "Archive"). If it takes more than 2 minutes to deal with the "task, the links will be renamed to reflect the action or topic, then it will be processed GTD like (action, defer, read/review, etc.) and is put inside the appropriate folder as described further below.
  • @Action: Links belonging to a project are put inside the @Action folder in a sub-folder with the project's name (1-level hierarchy only). When the project is over, the sub-folder is moved to the @Archive folder (see below) or just deleted if it is not worth keeping. The @Action folder has two fix sub-folders:
    • @Blog: Things I read and want to blog about land in this folder.
    • @Download: Links to files or other things I want to download at a later time are stored here.
  • @Defer: When I collect information about things I might plan to do in the future (for product evaluations for  something I like to buy, travel info about a possible holiday place to visit, etc.) it will be put here inside a sub-folder with the project's name (1-level hierarchy only). In the GTD way, these projects in the future either, become active (moved to @Action), or are archived (moved to Archive), or are just discarded.
  • @Read/Review: One-time reading material that I want to read when I have time (e.g. using my iPhone during train travel or in-line waiting) is put into the @Read/Review folder. Material belonging to the same topic is put in an appropriate sub-folder (1-level hierarchy only). After I read the related pages I wither archive them (move to Archive) or discard them.
  • Archive: Bookmarks that I want to keep for future reference are saved in the "Archive" folder. If multiple links belong to a project or topic, a sub-folder with the project or topic name is created to host the collection of links. As before, the folder hierarchy is flat (only one sub-folder level allowed), I do not put folders in sub-folders inside the Archive.
To find specific bookmarks later on, I use the search feature of Safari's Bookmarks window, which allows me quickly to find the link I'm looking for. This though makes it mandatory to give the sub-folders (project names) as well as the bookmarks some intelligent names, which makes it easy to find the link or project folder for a certain topic in the future.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fixing constantly growing OmniFocus database files

I had the problem that my OnmiFocus database file kept on growing and synching with the iPhone got really slow. When my file was around 2.3 MB I started to google around a bit and found a thread about the problem at the Omnigroup forum. The last entry at the time I was reading the whole 8 pages of the thread actually was the one helping me to reduce my file to manageable 540 KB.

What I did:
  • Rebuilt my Database selecting File->Rebuild Database
  • Selected File->Export (selected "OmniFocus Backup Document" from the drop-down) and saved it to the Desktop
  • Selected File->Revert to Database Backup (and used the previously saved backup on the Desktop)
  • When OmniFocus asked about using either the local copy or the server copy, I told it to use the local copy)

EOM (End of Message)

Just read at Lifehacker a post about EOM. I guess I will try to use that as well, though when I send such a EOM message the first time to someone, I will put in the body of the message the link to the related WikiPedia article as well as the link to the blog entry at Lifehacker.

How to get rid of menu bar items

If you have some items in the menu bar that you want to get quickly rid of or which can't be disabled anymore in the system or program preferences (e.g. remove bluetooth status when no more bluetooth device is plugged in to the Mac), just cmd-click and hold it, then drag it out of the menu bar.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

GTD Workflow Tips

When looking for some GTD related workflow lists I found the GTD Workflow Assessment/Tips Checklist by Matthew Cornell.

Basically he gives a more details to the basic GTD tasks for Collecting, Processing, Organizing, Reviewing and Doing in form of self-proclamations (check the list to see what I mean by that).

It help me at least to look at my GTD based workflow from a new angle, looking at some details that I was not aware before.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Remove all metadata from JPEGs

I was looking for a tool to remove all meta data (including EXIF data) from JPEG files, before I would upload them to Picasa. Unfortunately CocoviewX does only remove some EXIF data, but not all other meta data such as comments, copyright notice, etc. Fortunately jhead, a command line tool for all major operating systems, allows to tune the degree of info removal and has also a nice "remove all" feature.

You can strip all meta info from JPEGs in a folder by using the shell and typing:

jhead -purejpg *.jpg

PS: After downloading jhead from the official website you might need to make it executable (chmod 755 jhead) and move it to a proper location (sudo mv jhead /usr/local/bin).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Take screenshots on the iPhone

Hold down the "home" button and press the "Lock" button. This will make a screenshot of your current iPhone screen and put it to the "Camera Roll" in the "Photos" application. This is especially handy to make snippets of e.g. Google Maps directions to access this information also "offline".

via Lifehacker

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Type URLs and email addresses quicker in MobileSafari and Mail on the iPhone using shortcuts

To quicker type domain names with the iPhone keyboard in MobileSafari, press and hold down the ".com" button to have alternatives (".edu", ".org", ".net"). This even works country specific, so when you have the German keyboard enabled it will also offer ".de" (but will omit ":net") when pressing and holding down the ".com" button. 

This also works in Mail, if you press and hold down the "." button you will get the same choices as mentioned before with the ".com" button.

via Lifehacker

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Videos with subtitles on the iPhone - Part 1 - Quicktime Pro

Since I got lucky yesterday getting an iPhone, one of the first things I tried to do is to convert some series that I want to watch to the iPhone. I always watch them with subtitles (srt files) and that does not cause any problem with Quitcktime and some additional Plugins (Perian, Flip4Mac) when I watch them on the Mac. 

To get them played back on the iPhone is though not that easy. I tired a few solutions and here comes what I found out about using Quicktime Pro to do so.

  1. make sure that you have Quicktime Pro and Perian installed
  2. rename the subtitle file (only works with srt format subtitles) to have the same name as the video (except for the ending of course)
  3. Open the movie in Quicktime and select "Export" from the "File" menu, then select "Movie to iPhone" in the the "Export" dropdown that appears in the dialog
  4. hit save and wait (can take some time)
  5. copy your newly created file to the iPhone and enjoy

If you have the subtitles not in the srt format at hand you can use Jubler to convert it from all formats (sub files are pretty common) to the required srt files.

In the next post of this series I will show how you can convert the video using FFMPEGX.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

More infos about the availability of the iPhone 3G in Switzerland

Swisscom posted today some more info about the availability of the iPhone 3G in Switzerland. Looks like I will have to get up early on Friday and find a nearby Swisscom shop to get in line at 6h30. I already have a reservation for an iPhone 3G in another store, but it is not sure that they will get enough in stock on Friday to satisfy all reservations made. I'm somewhere in the queue at number 80 for my model of choice and around 250 overall in queue. And by the way, I'm going for the 16GB white model with the largest price plan option.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Just signed up for a Skitch account. Looks like a handy application for taking screenshots, specially for blogging. Your screenshots (which you can also edit) will be hosted on the Skitch website and can be easily made available to others or used for your blog.

You can access my public Skitch page here.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Technorati claim

Technorati Profile

ZIPCleaner helps to get rid of those .DS_Store and other Mac-specific hidden files from Archives

When you create an Archive of a folder under Mac OS X using the built in "right-click" (cmd-click) context menu functionality "Compress ... ", you end up having the .DS_Store folders in the resulting ZIP-file. That's no problem for you, but if you send that to a Windows user, they end up having a bunch of (at least for them) "strange" folders and files when they unpack the Archive.


Using ZIPCleaner, you can remove those .DS_Store, Icon^M and __MACOS files from the Archive by just dropping it in the application's window or dock icon.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Swisscom announced price plans for the iPhone

Swisscom finally announced the prices for the iPhone related mobile contracts. I'm still hesitating between the mezzo and grande option. Although Orange will also offer the iPhone and probably will have better contracts, the network coverage is not as good as with Swisscom concerning UMTS. I hope that Orange will soon announce their prices, so I still can decide before July 11th, where and with which contract to to get the iPhone.
 Retail price 8GBRetail Price 16 GBMonthly
Hourly call rate**Included volume  in megabytes***
NATEL®  liberty piccolo*CHF 249CHF 349CHF 25CHF 0.70100
NATEL®  liberty mezzo*CHF 199CHF 299CHF 35CHF 0.50250
NATEL® liberty grande*CHF 99CHF 199CHF 55CHF 0.501'000
NATEL® easy liberty unoCHF 519CHF 619-CHF 0.80-
(CHF 1 / MB)
  * Contract duration 24 months
** Price per hour for calls from the Swisscom network to Swisscom mobile and fixed-line numbers
in Switzerland
*** No roaming traffic included

Clear all .svn files from a subversion working copy (UPDATE)

To detach a checked-out subversion working copy and therefore clean all subversion related files (e.g. those nested .svn directories) you can type:

rm -rf `find . -type d -name .svn`

You can also make yourself a little bash script (called e.g. svnclear):

echo "recursively removing .svn folders from"

rm -rf `find . -type d -name .svn`

via AnyExample

Update 04.05.2009:

As Isimonis pointed out in the comments, it is better to use a different approach if you have many files:

find $DIR -type d -name ".svn" -print0|xargs -0 rm -rf

Or you can use the new options of newer "find" versions:

find $DIR -type d -name ".svn" -delete

Best practices for research in the Internet

Whenever you do research in the Internet try to make a summary of your findings and conclusions. You might not make a decision about the outcome of the research just now and therefore it will be much easier to go again through your thinking process and conclusion when you finally want to take action about the issue later on.

These are the important things to consider when making a summary of your online research:

  • make a dedicated note (txt, Word, WiKi) for the current research issue (e.g. memory upgrade for the 2nd generation MacBook)
  • put the question that this summary answers at the beginning (e.g. where to find good quality memory for the 2nd generation MacBook at a reasonable price)
  • write down any useful link together with a few sentences describing what the page is about (e.g. best price for MacBook memory but no-name brand)
  • at the end write down a conclusion (e.g. go not for the cheapest memory but buy brand x from store y)

Where to find a good quality memory upgrade for my 2nd generation MacBook?

Webpages checked for that issue:

  • Corsair seems to be good quality and works with 2x2GB kit, though my MacBook will only support a bit more than 3GB; also the speed for the 2x2GB kit seems to be very good (better than the 2x1GB kit)
  • Kingston officially only offer a 2x1GB kit, but probably their 2x2GB kit might also work with my MacBook
  • The prices for the Kingston are generally cheap
  • The Corsair memory kits cost a bit more
The Corsair kit is about 20-25% more expensive (at trustworthy dealers) but seems to be the better choice because they officially say that the 2x2GB kit will be compatible with my 2nd generation MacBook; also the speed info is missing for the Kingston kit. I probably would by the kit from Digitec.