Archive for the 'howto' Category

My Productive Practices

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

productive matrix

At this time of year the interwebs get very productive creating blog postings about productivity, and this blog is all about me adding  information to an existing saturation, so here goes:

These two recent articles have some good ideas for a more productive 2013:

Geeks are always keen to approach organizing their lives as an engineering problem.  Hence the obsession with David Allen’s Getting Things Done is a time-management methodology  and the steady flow of ideas that come out of lifehacker.com

Here’s what I consider my top five most productive practices:

  1. The OHIO principle for E-Mail: Only Handle It Once.  
    Don’t keep re-reading waiting until you’re ready for a response, choose to handle then or not respond at all (with an exception for the “can’t read this here” problem with mobile devices – but mark it as unread).  I’m not a dogmatic process-to-zero inbox person, but I do work sequentially. I’ll only mark as read when the messages is “no longer my responsibility” and some times that means responding asking for clarity to buy a little time and share the responsibility of transmitting a clear message.
  2. Tasks are important and ubiquitous.
    I think I’m one of the few people who values Microsoft Outlook’s Tasks feature, and there’s all kinds of other task Apps.  The trick for me is having those task synced across all my devices, so that when I have the moment of inspiration or recollection I record it easily.  Tasks (or your calendar) is often an important next step after E-Mail comes in that allows you to “deal” with it at an initial level and mark the message as read.  It’s also worth noting that a project is not a task.

Me and Evernote

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Long ago I promised myself I’d blog about <a href=”http://evernote.com”>Evernote</a> when I made more than 1000 notes. I broke that record on Friday November 9, 2012 so here’s a quick summary of what Evernote is and what I use it for.

Evernote is intended to help people remember everything. While I haven’t achieved that, I’m a lot closer.

Evernote is a desktop, phone/tablet, browser plugins and a web application that allows you to capture information from anywhere. The application also indexes all entries so that the content can be quickly searched, including any text in pictures – for example: whiteboards.

All these collected notes are synced to client/applications on almost any device that connects to the internet – as a lowest common denominator, there is evernote.com.

Evernote has a provision for tagging notes, but more importantly it lets you start new notebooks and sub-notebooks. I use this to collect notes about the kids, projects at work, my favourite beers and wines, and other notebooks – including some I’ve shared with others.

There’s lots of information on Evernote’s site, so instead I’ll share what I use to for:

At home and around the town:

  • Lists of things to pack, buy, collect and almost anything else.
  • Pictures of the various medicines and other records my kids have taken – both kids have their own notebook.
  • Planing and document projects around the house – including the summer’s minor fence project and last summer’s major patio project and year before that’s nursery project. The notes are important, but the pictures are handy to travel back and forth from Home Deport with.
  • Records and information about the cars and appliances.
  • I transferred my wife’s recipes etc. from an old laptop to all her new devices – I also have access to the this shared notebook and…. don’t use them.

Howto: Securing a folder with apache’s built in htaccess options

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

If your web site is running on Apache, and almost all are, there’s a simple way to protect directories on your web server. This method can be very secure, when combined with HTTPS and some good practices on your part, but it can also be a simple way to limit access to just a few people who know a password – perhaps as an alternative to Facebook sharing.

The feature being used is Apache’s HTTP Basic Authentication module. Apache has their own How-To at their web site, but here are the basics:

You need to add two files to your web server, and it helps if you have access to a terminal/command prompt.

Here are two key files and their their contents.
.htaccess

#Force HTTPS
#RewriteEngine On
#RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
#RewriteRule ^(.*) %{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R,L]

AuthType Basic
AuthName "Restricted Files"
AuthBasicProvider file
# Needs full unix file address, output of pwd command
AuthUserFile /var/www/html/examples/guest_w_pass/.htpasswd
Require valid-user

These are basic .htaccess directives, that most web servers should allow. The first segment is to force the use of HTTPS, you might want uncomment that if HTTPS is important to your application. The second section turns on basic authentication and directs the web server to where to get the password file – you can put the password file anywhere your web server can access it and it does not have to be in the same folder as the .htaccess file. You are responsible for finding the full unix path to the file, either from the pwd command or the “Get Info” option inside a file browser.

.htpasswd

guest:{SHA}K8+J8fKKKxjnREM2J4/C72Qawa4=

This file is the results of the command htpasswd -sc .htpasswd guest. The s after the – is for SHA-based password hashing and the c after the – is for create. The file can be added to or updated with the command htpasswd .htpasswd username. Run the command htpasswd --help for more information.

What to Look for when Trying to Author Accessible Content: My List

Monday, February 21st, 2011

A picture of the HTML source of this blog post.I’ve assembled my list of things to look for when preparing content for the web with an eye to accessibility. I would like to add to this advice that I’ve always found that accessible web pages are the easiest way to create content that is well indexed by a search engine – as both serve the goal of helping a machine interpret the content better.

This list is written assuming that most modern tools that help construct content directly for the web help individuals create accessible content by default, and that this is the primary way content makes its way to the web. Tools like WordPress for blogs, or Learning Management Systems (LMSs).

Multimedia content is particularly challenging, as it can require the use multiple senses, and unless accommodations such as transcription or description are added, some individuals may not be able to access multimedia content.

Evan more than with most posts; I’d love to read your comments and suggestions about this list and these practices.

My Checklist for Preparing Accessible Content

This list was created by Matt Clare with resources from World Wide Web Consortium. [1] The W3C has a simular checklist document: www.w3.org/TR/2006/WD-WCAG20-20060427/appendixB.html [2]


Simple Formatting

What happens when you wipe your iPhone with Exchange

Friday, January 28th, 2011

If you’ve ever wondered what happens when you wipe an iPhone via MS Exchange here’s my video.

I hope you don’t find yourself in a situation where you need to wipe your MS Exchange linked iPhone because you lost it or it was stollen, but I think everyone who has their phone connected to Exchange at work or Apple’s MobileMe service appreciates this kind of piece of mind. I know I really value knowing that if someone’s got my phone they at least don’t have my data like E-Mails, contacts, pictures and whatever else is on my most personal device.

In the case of MS Exchange 2010 here is what the confirmation E-Mail looks like afterwards.

If you don’t have your phone linked to Apple’s MobileMe service I’d recommend the Exchange based options that you might have through work (or a BlackBerry Enterprise server) or Microsoft’s hosted Exchange services or Google’s Apps for domains premium services.