Free iPod?

Indexipod 20040719A

If Jeff Croft can do it, so can I. To get a free iPod you have to 1. accept one of the offers and 2. refer 5 friends who also accept one of the offers. I’ll probably go with the Columbia House CD’s or something… I’ve done it in the past and it hasn’t been so bad.

Anyway, here’s my link. If you decide to do it, just click there to get started :)

[update] If you’re not convinced it’s real, here’s a website that rates the offers and has some testimonials from people who’ve gotten theirs already. (from ForeverGeek)

mod_perl or: Why Linux Can Be So Difficult.

First I need to say that I’m writing this all for the second time. Ecto (which I generally love) crashed after I tried to insert a link and I lost about 500 words. Nice.

In continuing with my previously mentioned desire to research wiki’s I came across and started to install Twiki, the Wiki I found to be the best tool for my needs and in my opinion, the most powerful wiki currently available. The install took two evenings–much longer than the MediaWiki install took, but that’s pretty typical for perl applications, they’re often more powerful and almost always more difficult than their PHP counterparts to install.

Everything went fairly well with the install and I was happy with it until I tried to edit an entry. I discovered that anything over about 500 characters was truncated when I saved the entry. After much searching, I found this page which suggests it’s a mod_perl problem. “Fine, I’ll just upgrade mod_perl” I said to myself. After a quick search I found an RPM for mod_perl-1.99_11-0. Attempting to install it returned three dependency errors. Not totally unexpected, but in order to lessen the amount of dependencies, I looked for and found an older version (mod_perl-1.99_09-10) which pleasantly surprised me by only returning one dependency error:

error: Failed dependencies:

httpd-mmn = 20020903 is needed by mod_perl-1.99_09-10

httpd-mmn didn’t look or sound familiar to me. A bit of Googling revealed that it has something to do with the version of Apache that’s installed. Great. I checked my version and found I’m using Apache 2.0.40. Upgrading Apache isn’t simple, especially running Plesk which requires a Plesk friendly Apache RPM. Usually that’s not a problem since they can be found on AtomicRocketTurtle’s site. I tried to do a YUM upgrade using his repository only to find he’s blocked EV1servers because he doesn’t like the way they handled the SCO / Linux issues. Great, another minor setback, but I decided to just download his RPM’s directly using wget (even though he recommends against this) and go from there. So, 20 minutes later I had downloaded enough RPM’s to upgrade Plesk and hopefully Apache with it. All went well, the usually less-than-simple task of upgrading Plesk succeeded with only minor hitches. I went back to the folder with the mod_perl rpm and tried it. It failed. Same dependency. Sigh. From here I really don’t know what to do.

This is why Linux is sometimes very frustrating to me. I’ve spent two evenings trying to install Twiki and another trying to make it work. Now I’m up at 1 in the morning at a dead end.

Wiki Research Begins

I’ve heard the word “Wiki” enough times to make me wonder… Now, the research has begun. I’ve started by exploring what’s out there. Here is my del.icio.us bookmark page with Wiki links. Oddly enough, there isn’t much on del.icio.us about Wiki’s yet. In fact, the links I added tonight more than doubled the links available.

I also took a few minutes tonight to install a Wiki for the first time to give me somewhere to experiment. I used the same software that powers Wikipedia. I was surprised at how easy it was to set up it took me five minutes … unlike some other software that powers a certain other huge website.

More to come on Wiki’s.

IceRocket Firefox Search Plugin

Icerocket

Tonight I spent a few minutes creating an IceRocket Firefox Search Plug-in. Four of them actually, for searching the web, images, moblogs (photos taken on cell phones) and blogs. If you haven’t seen IceRocket yet, it’s a search engine worth checking out. I mentioned it here previously.

To install the plugins, use these links:

IceRocket Web Search


IceRocket Blogs Search

IceRocket Moblogs Search

IceRocket Images Search

Once you have it working, it will look like this:

Engines

I found a few useful links while I was working on it:

Creating Search Plugins

Search Plugin Directory (includes documentation on creating them as well)

Google Preview – add thumbnails to normal Google searches.

A blog entry by a guy who works for IceRocket

Enjoy the plugins.

Invoice Applications on OS X

I’ve been searching for a good invoicing application for OS X. There are programs out there but I’ve had a hard time finding one with a native (preferably Cocoa) interface that is simple, intuitive and nice looking. Here are the results of my search.

First, what to avoid

CG Invoicer – I’m sure this is a powerful program but the interface isn’t simple, isn’t native Mac though it tries to be–which is almost worse than not trying at all if you ask me.

TimeNet – This one comes close, but the interface is still not simple enough and it takes 3 small windows to accomplish basically one task. I prefer one main window and maybe one editing window.

Blue Box Invoices – Again, this is probably powerful software, but I just can’t bring myself to use something created entirely in FileMaker Pro. I’m not against FileMaker, but I just don’t think it’s the best tool for the job in this case.

Activity and Expense Tracker – Ahhh… big blue buttons. Enough said.

Acro Invoice – Another not-quite-native OS X invoice program. It just doesn’t look professional to me. Again, I’m not knocking the functionality of any of these programs, but I want good looks along with my smarts.

Invoice Biz – Woah. This looks like it could be the interface to a sweet early 90’s game.

SoftBooks – This is another close call, and would probably be fine for my needs. My only complaints here are that it’s pretty boring (I guess this is invoicing we’re talking about here) and I just have a gut feeling that it could be done better.

StudioEase – Again, strange custom interface.

TimeEqualsMoney – Appears to have a native OS X interface but way too crowded and the functionality seems limited.

Workbook – Decent looking, but it’s aimed squarely at the software developer. Too specific for my needs.

Studioboss – More to come on this. I’m still not ruling it out.

Second, what I created

So… after much searching I finally decided I’d have to design it myself (and have someone else program it of course). I spent a bit of time doing just that, and I think I came up with some decent Ideas – here are my sketches (click to enlarge):

Studioinvoice1

Studioinvoice2

After sketching on paper, I even made it as far as to open Interface Builder and dabble a bit with creating the interface. This didn’t last long, but here are the results (click to enlarge):

StuidoInvoice

Finally, the fruits of my labor

Studiometry

After searching, designing and playing with Interface Builder, I finally came back to a program I’d seen quite awhile back but completely forgotten about. Studiometry. Basically it fits the bill. It looks great, is simple and effective and appears to be in active development. It also even looks a bit like what I was trying to get at in my designs, in a roundabout way.

After learning more about what’s available for invoicing on the Mac than I ever thought possible, I’m sold on Studiometry.

Keeping the File Cabinet Empty

One of the things I least enjoy doing is keeping up with the file cabinet. We save bills, check stubs, warranty documentation, school papers, loan info and pretty much everything else that could come back to haunt us if someone makes an accounting error. The problem we have (like I imagine most everyone has) is that the papers add up quickly and we run out of space in the filing cabinet. Our garage ends up cluttered with boxes of old bills that in all likelihood we’ll never see again, but are a pain to move around.

To remedy this problem, I’m devising a plan where we scan everything that we possibly can–that is anything that doesn’t require us to retain the original document. That way we can hang on the everything for a year then throw it away and still having a copy backed up on the hard drive and on CD.

This will add a little time scanning, but it will make documents easier to find, archived for longer periods of time and take up a lot less space in the garage. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m looking forward to doing it (in a strange way) and plan on documenting the process here. I bet you just can’t wait.

Obtaining The Free Music

I confess, I haven’t bought a whole lot of music lately. I’ve downloaded it for free.

Legally.

3HivelogoI’ve found that there’s hardly time to pay for music when so many people are giving it away. My favorite spot for finding free music is 3hive. It’s a weblog created by someone who goes out and finds free promo downloads and links to them directly. Usually they’re good for about 3 or 4 free songs a day.

Emusic

Another place I recently scored 50 free songs is emusic.com. They give you 50 free songs for signing up, you can cancel at any time (which I did). Some of the bands I downloaded from there are Red House Painters, The Promise Ring, Moonbabies, Explosions in the Sky and others. You have to search a bit and there’s some trial and error involved, but on the whole it’s good (and free).

Other places I’ve acquired free legal music:

  • iTunes has had a free song a week since they started. I’ve found some good ones there ocassionally.
  • At work there are a couple guys with the same taste I have. We swap tunes every once in awhile (which is 100% legal under fair use laws).
  • I’ve had good luck finding free music on Subpop and AudioLunchbox (what a great site!).
  • Last.fm – this isn’t music you can keep, but if you have a profile on Audioscrobbler [my profile], last.fm does a good job of dishing out music that fits your taste.
  • Epitonic – Many more free songs.
  • PureVolume – More Free Music.
  • Rusty Spell’s Online Mix Tape

If you have suggestions of other good outlets for free music, I’m open to suggestions. As it stands, I’d guess I have a good hour of new music a day. More than I can possibly digest and that makes me happy.

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Quick Tricks

A few useful sites and tips I’ve recently found:

Better Spelling Quicker [From:What Do I Know] : Press F5 or Option+Esc to bring up an inline menu of spelling suggestions while typing in OS X Cocoa apps. Many other OS X shortcuts here [Apple.com]. Even more here [Rixstep.com].

An Alternative Search Engine with Potential [From:Doc Searls] – I’ve tried every search engine I’ve seen and so far none have come close to Google. IceRocket may just come close if you’re comparing search results alone. The thumbnails and blog search are great, useful features and with everything else on their site designed so close to Google you can hardly tell them apart, it’s a pretty good engine.

New Design Playgrounds – In addition to CSSVault, there are now CSSBeauty and Stylegala. For Flash I use Favourite Website Awards and Internet Tiny Awards.

[update 10/20/04 – added a link to additional OS X shortcuts]