Archive for the 'review' Category

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.

Code Babies – HTML for Babies

Friday, October 26th, 2012


Six months ago I ordered the Code Babies book Web Design for Babies (Vol. 1) . I took a while for it to arrive as PayPal passed on an old address and I failed to catch it, but after a number of months both ends figured it out and then package arrived. Code Babies were kind enough to include a poster (now in our second child’s room).

The board book’s colours are bright and the content teaches children about SGML-based markup languages and their tag and property based structure, demonstrating the merits of extensibility. I consider my children a significant revision of their parents, and it’s my intent that as they encounter new experiences in life they demonstrate exciting innovation when possible and otherwise fail gracefully.

I taught myself HTML when I was about 15, reusing a notebook that had been used for story writing from when I was about 8 for my notes. Why not give my children an earlier start, especially since they have 2 more versions of HTML and CSS to learn than I did?

Since both our children were born with their own web site already up and running (first child’s site was standards compliant and dynamic, the upgrade for our second child brought a responsive, bootstrap-based, design) the sooner they can contribute to the World Wide Web the sooner they can start shaping the world they’ve found themselves in.

Next lesson: POSIX-based file structures and how they relate to putting away their toys.


Correcting Burlington Hydro and PeakSaver

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

I’ve blogged about being a big fan of the PeakSaver program before. mattclare.ca/blog/2010/07/07/peaksaver-heat-wave/ No longer.

I recently wrote Burlington Hydro about the about the remarkably poor instructions for logging into the PeakSaver Online Control Centre. The number of issues with the process really does make Burlington Hydro and the PeakSaver program look foolish.

The issues stem from me attempting to log into the online control centre with credentials I had saved but no longer work. It would appear they stopped working after my thermostat was replaced in the summer after it was damage by our child — an experience that was very good and left me impressed with PeakSaver’s responsiveness. My opinion has since changed.

Apparently the new thermostat meant a new log-in, no one told me this, but it was simple to deduce. Here are the three major problems the experience highlighted, with the benefit of information from a phone call on Thursday December 15.

  1. Login page for PeakSaver Control Centre

    When you don’t enter your password correctly at rscdr1.rodanpower.com/login06.html the logo changes from BHI’s to PeakSaver’s

    When you follow the Forgot your password link you are presented with a form

    I filled out that form at least a 1/2 dozen times. I never got a response. I’d put my phone number in the notes, ask if anyone was receiving these, no one ever got back to me in any format.

    PeakSaver and Burlington Hydro would be offering better service if this link wasn’t even there, because I’d call immediately and not wait for a never arriving response.

  2. The account instructions to sign-in to the online control centre are incorrect on the Burlington Hydro web site, and I know how to correct them based on my Thursday December 15th phone call.

    At www.burlingtonhydro.com/your-home/conservation/peaksaver.html it should read:

    The letters BUR followed by Your Account Number. Note that there is no dash in your User Name as there is in your Burlington Hydro account number.

How many unique words are in AWOLNATION’s “Sail!”?

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Many have heard me complain that I’m not a fan of AWOLNATION’s hit song “Sail!”.

One thing I often cite is how few unique words are in the song. I finally ran the numbers:

AWOLNATION’s four minute and twenty seconds song “Sail” has 85 words, but, only 36 of those words are unique!

Here’s how those 36 words break down:

sail! 12
my 7
it 6
on 5
blame 5
add 4
baby 4
maybe 4
lalalalala 4
i 3
i’m 2
is 2
should 2
this 2
how 2
myself 1
help 1
kill 1
different 1
listening 1
not 1
breed 1
for 1
a 1
an 1
in 1
made 1
love 1
show 1
mind 1
because 1
pride 1
sick 1
cries 1
angel 1
cry 1

Here’s the PHP script I used to do the analysis mattclare.ca/~mclare/blog/sail.phps

AppleJack free disk maintenance tool for OSX

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

If you use a Mac, and you haven’t had a chance to install it yet, I’d like to recommend AppleJack.

AppleJack is a free open source tool that automates the basic UNIX tools are a few other basic maintenance tasks for OSX. All things someone comfortable with the command line could do themselves, but AppleJack automates the process and more. It’s routine repairs disk contents, repairs permissions, validate the system’s preference files, and gets rid of possibly corrupted cache files.

In my experience AppleJack is as good or better than commercial OSX maintenance tools and makes the most of the proven command line disk maintenance tools that come with almost all UNIX operating systems.

Once you have visited applejack.sourceforge.net and downloaded and installed AppleJack it is ready to be run. To run it restart in Single User Mode (SUM), by holding down Command + S keys at startup, and then when prompted type applejack, or applejack auto (which will run through all the tasks automatically), or applejack auto restart (which will also restart the computer automatically at the end of the process).

One of my favourite features of AppleJack is that it lets you issue commands like applejack auto shutdown to have it run through its whole routine and shutdown the computer when it’s done. A great task to run at the end of the day, and it looks really hacker-cool when its running.

I run AppleJack every once and a while, or when something goes wrong for un-explained reasons. Occasionally it catches problems and alerts me, but mostly I feel the benefits of good computer hygiene.