TannieSpace

geekery, drawing and then some

Posts about geekery (old posts, page 2)

OmniWeb now free!

Once again I got frustrated with Firefox and Safari for numerous reasons. I went over to the OmniGroup site to check out OmniWeb cause I really liked using its demo. I wanted to see what price they charged and see if I would want to part with that (next month) to solve my frustrations with The Other Browsers.

And they made it free. I suck for only finding out now, three weeks after they made it free, but at least it means I can have my lovely browser that supports applescript and Services (looking at you, Firefox!), doesn’t take ages to load a page (again, looking at you, Firefox!) and supports non-mouse browsing (Firefox! no wait, that’s actually Safari….).

Very happy :D


Postponing tasks in OmniFocus (and snoozing)

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For a while I’ve wanted to easily postpone tasks in OmniFocus because sometimes, I just want to procrastinate a little. Last night I started fiddling and playing with AppleScript to get this done and after a few hours of that I wanted to rip my hair out. I went to bed instead because I quite like my hair intact and had a few other things to do today, so didn’t get around to it until now. I applied my google-foo to try and fix the problems I ran into.

And ‘lo and behold! I found Dan’s site who did not only make a script to postpone the due date (defer it), it also gives you the option to defer the start date and he made a nifty little snooze script to basically hide projects / tasks from your view until you have to do them (by adjusting the start date).

I’ve tossed both in my ~/Library/Scripts/Applications/OmniFocus folder and set up a hotkey in QuickSilver and tried it out on a few tasks. Works like a charm!


Optimising my blog

To make my blog easier to navigate and fix some issues I had with the lay-out or how things worked in general, I looked into optimising as much as possible. I installed the plugin to make it easier to view my website on a phone-browser. With the help of Joost’s guide to Wordpress SEO I tweaked more things, including making my urls shorter (I like that), upgraded my theme to allow the new threaded comments in Wordpress 2.7, installing a plugin to check on old links that may not work because of the changes I made and a pager at the bottom to more easily navigate to older pages.

Apart from this I also installed several of Joost’s plugins because very handily he had made the ones I looked for (social bookmarks, breadcrumbs).

Lastly, I went and made a favicon that fits me. Anyone recognise it? :)


Invisible Shield

Because the scratch-resistent part of my iPhone scratched I decided to get some protection, may or may not work, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt.

I ordered a shield for the front over at Zagg and thanks to a bit of looking around I got a nice discount (and they now offer a 30% discount till 2008-12-31) and free shipping. For more discount codes check out Chris Pirillo’s site. I also have two codes for a 20% discount valid until 2009-01-25, so if you want one drop me a note.

I have not yet tried these shields, but I hear they work really well. They sell them for all kinds of phones and cameras and laptops.


Optimised for phone browsers

[gallery link=”file”]In an attempt to make my site more iPhone-friendly (and other phone-browsers) I installed MobilePress. It seems to work very nicely, displaying the last five posts and offering a link at the bottom for the full version.

Images also get displayed nicely, and you can even leave comments. Comments don’t display automatically, you’ll have to tap the link.


Posting from phone

imgJust a test to see if I can post from my phone. I will remove this :-) (or not. Check out the pretty mushrooms. Wonder if they became illegal on the 1st with the mushroom-ban)


Financial programs for the mac.

Many people have written about this before, and many more will follow. What can I say, I couldn’t help myself.

I like staying on top of my finances, it reduces stress and makes life in general a lot easier. I won’t go into the psychological reasons why people get into debt and how to use psychology or blackmail to get yourself out. I merely want to give my thoughts on some of the software for macs out there.

I always look for the best software to fit my needs. I like computers and I feel they should make my life easier. Software can actually do that (and also make us hate it so much we want to drag it outside and beat it to a pulp).

I’ve tried several financial programs for my personal finance:

  • iBank (OS X, Full version $59.99)
  • Moneydance (OS X, Windows, Linux, $39.99)
  • GnuCash (OS X, Linux, open source, free)
  • MoneyWell (OS X, $49.99 / currently $39.99)

First a list of what I want in personal finance software:

  • Easy to use
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to maintain
  • Easy to see at a glance how I did in a certain month
  • Budgetting

The software should also not crash and lot eat up my data. Saving my data in some type of file that I can access outside the program scores a lot of extra points. Exporting to .qif or a similar common format sounds good to me as well.

More points get acquired if the program works well on a smaller screen and older mac. I have a iBook G4, a bit of an oldie now, which still works pretty well, but I don’t need some fancy new software that only runs on an Intel with 3gb of ram. Personal finance software should not push my mac to its limits.

Behind the cut I will describe my experiences with these four programs and wrap it up with a winner.

I will do the following actions to judge the program:

  • Installation.
  • Open the program (startup-time)
  • Import previous data (a sample .qif file)
  • Create a few transactions
  • Schedule some bills
  • Set up a budget
  • Set up a payment plan for my creditcard / loan.

The sample file has data on a savings account, a credit card and a joint checking account.

Comparison of the programs:

Installation.

All except GnuCash install easily, GnuCash takes a day or say, not very convenient. It has plenty of dependencies.

Startup.

Both MoneyDance and MoneyWell start up fast, iBank takes longer and GnuCash takes longest, due to having start up X11 first.

Creating new document.

When you create a new document iBank will create categories without asking. MoneyDance lets you choose between a standard account set and a minimal account set. MoneyWell will ask you to create buckets (categories), which you can deselect if you want. GnuCash lets you choose between a lot of sets of accounts, from basic to extended.

Importing.

Importing didn’t go very well for iBank, which created multiple accounts for the same accounts. Also, the other programs had some problems with transfers. MoneyWell takes considerably longer to import. MoneyWell, MoneyDance and GnuCash let you easily enter the date format, iBank had more issues with it. IBank also required a separate file for each account to import properly. Using one file caused iBank to create ten accounts for the same account, what a mess!

New transactions.

IBank, MoneyDance and MoneyWell let you create a new transaction by pressing :cmd:-N, GnuCash lets you press enter once you set this up in preferences (Register Defaults). Entering doesn’t look complicated, the fields have clear names. GnuCash works according to the double-entry bookkeeping, which sounds really complicated but with the default settings the columns will simply say ‘Deposit’ and ‘Withdrawl’, which should make it easy enough. The others let you do it in a common people way, nothing wrong with that.

Deleting transactions.

MoneyDance and MoneyWell let you select multiple transactions and delete them easily. MoneyWell has an excellent ‘undo’ to reverse the deletions. GnuCash makes you delete the transactions one by one. When I tried to delete 20 and then 10 transactions in iBank it started to beachball and crashed on me several times. So this may or may not work.

(note)Due to iBank slowing down my system and crashing / beach-balling a lot up to this point, I had to ditch it. I couldn’t handle it anymore after the above tests.

Scheduling.

All of the three remaining programs let you schedule bills / payments very easily. You can either enter them by hand or right-click an existing payment and use that, which helps a lot if you have imported previous data. They all have several useful frequency options.

GnuCash will add the transaction into the register based on your preference, say 7 days ahead. Once added you can change it in the register, but changing the scheduled payment will not change the one in the register. GnuCash has no way of ‘looking ahead’ based on scheduled payments.

Moneydance will put reminders on your ‘homepage’ or auto-commit them, which will make them show up in your register where you can edit them, and like with GnuCash, it becomes a stand alone payment.

MoneyWell lets you schedule payments and have them show up at the bottom of your register. Changes you make here (apart from date) will trigger a pop-up asking you if you want to change it just for this one or for all future ones as well. By showing future transactions you can also scroll through the graph at the bottom to see your future income and planned spending.

Budgetting.

Setting up a budget can help you prevent spending more than your income. MoneyDance lets you set up several budgets and track them in the top bar. It can calculate averages based on previous spending, and has plenty of frequency options (monthly, bi-monthly, weekly etc). You have a live graph at the top that shows how close you are to filling up your budget, but doesn’t give you detailed information per budget. You can however create a memorized report to see how you do. It’ll update with every transaction, so if you don’t mind looking at the numbers, you can track your budget using the report.

GnuCash’s budget options work similar to MoneyDance, you can set one up based on your average spending in the previous months. To track it you will have to create a report which does not automatically update, and which can take more than ten seconds to generate. I have not found a way to adjust the column-width, which makes it harder to read. It also does not have any real frequency options. You’ll have to enter an annual payment once, in the month you need to pay it, or you have to divide it by twelve and fill it in for each month.

MoneyWell has an extensive budgeting options, its basis for existence. It lets you create a spending plan easily (with the help of your average spending over the past 12 months, or last year’s spending) and keep track of your spending as you spend. It updates with every transaction you enter, so you can literally see your money blowing away. Always a nice sight ;). The graph at the bottom serves as a visual reminder for your buckets, which helps you keep yourself on track.

Setting up a payment plan.

MoneyDance allows you to set up a payment plan through an extension called ‘Pay Off!’ which helps you create a plan for your payments, but does not actually enter the payments into your register. You still have to do this manually, but the plugin does show (with a nice graph) how long it will take and how your debt decreases over time. You can easily create scheduled payments based on this information.


Updating Wordpress to 2.6 (oops)

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After nearly a month away from my site, it told me to update to Wordpress 2.6. I figured, why the hell not (I like living on the edge). I went through the very easy update-process and thought it all went well. Unfortunately, it didn’t. At first I thought everything had broken, all my single pages gave a 404, even the non-blog ones, and all my links to tags and archives stopped working as well! Panic!

Luckily, I found out pretty quickly that I only needed to fill in the ‘tags’ and ‘category’ field in the Permalinks section, which solved most of my problems instantly.

The last problem, the archives that didn’t work, took pretty long to figure out. I googled trying to find if anyone also had their monthly archive links throw them back to the main page I set the Permalinks to the ugly default, and that didn’t work. By now I started to worry and considered rolling back to 2.5.1 just to get the monthly archives links to work again. Before I did, I did an install in a different directory as a test and that one had working monthly archive links. As the new install did not have any but the default plugins, I started disabling plugins in my default installation until I found the culprit: the robots meta plugin. Once I figured that one out, it didn’t take long to find a notice of the creator of the plugin, stating that the update revealed a bug and ladida, problem fixed, just update the plugin and set all your settings again. Which I did.

The plugin has a ‘disable date archives’ option that got checked. In fact, everything got checked. I unchecked unwanted things, saved, and my monthly archive links work as they should again.


New design, new stuff in the background

And there I did it. I switched from Movable Type to Wordpress to manage my site.

It actually went really smooth and I actually like Wordpress so far. No unnecessary complications. Movable Type started acting up on me, not letting me edit post titles. I upgraded and then it wouldn’t let me edit post entries anymore. Or post anything new… So I decided to give Wordpress a shot. So far, I like it. :)


Markdown links in TextMate

My blogging-life became a lot easier with Markdown, which in turn became easy to use with TextMate. I don’t really like the inline linking style, I much more prefer the reference linking style. To keep myself sane I would ofcourse need some nifty TextMate magic to do so. It only took a little bit of googling to find the solution. Dr. Drang explains it clearly at his blog. Make sure to check both this and this link to create your own macro in TextMate. The second link has some additions to the first one, making the reference numbers automatic.

After that, check out the third follow-up to create a macro that lets you select a word and create a reference link (cause no doubt, you sometimes read back and think ‘Damn, I should link that!’).

So, you get the idea, and you want more! Checkout the next follow-up on how to create a reference link by selecting a word and letting your little macro do a ‘I feel lucky!’ google-lookup.

I love computers.


TextMate (and blogging)

I blogged about TextMate before but I neglected to mention how much I’ve used it to actual blog (not that I blog that much). I’ve also used it to edit templates and CSS for my blog, working mostly with Cyberduck cause I just like my GUI. I do on occasion simply scp, but I really miss the visual tree I do get in Cyberduck (and other gui-ftp-tools). With the help of the GTDalt bundle and SVK (and the bundle in TextMate) I also get more things done and have managed to organise my files better. Though I do still spend a lot of time tweaking and geeking about :) The next item on my list: dejunk my closet. Which I shall do right now!

(if I feel like it I might post the amount of junk I removed from it later on)


Hiveminder.com, and why I like it.

After playing around with the lovely todo.sh I decided to make the switch to hiveminder. This web-based application now has command line support. In fact, it’ll take my old todo.txt and convert it to hiveminder-tasks. This didn’t go extremely smoothly, my tags ended up in the task description, all in all, it worked.

Hiveminder.com has also started to support repeating tasks which I very much appreciate. I hadn’t figured out a good way to do that on my command-line and now I can never forget to take my pills on Monday, woohoo.

What I appreciate a lot (maybe even most) about hiveminder : the ability to make tasks dependant on each-other and the fact that the depending task does not appear unless you’ve done the main task. I will not see ‘fold laundry’ before I have actually checked off ‘wash clothes’. Yaay for that!


Tickler files and todo.sh

After fiddling around with the todo.sh script some more I got the idea to create a digital tickler-system.

I have not used a digital or non-digital tickler system before (I tried the mail.app IMAP version, but it just didn’t stick).

First, you need to add the following line to .todo: TICKLER_DIR="/Users/yourname/GTD/Tickler"

or whichever folder you’d like to use.

Then, create a foldertree like: Tickler days 01 02 .... 30 31 months 01 02 ... 10 11 12 today

You can use a short bash-script for that.

Next, download tickler.sh and place it somewhere you can find it (right next to todo.sh, I’d say)

Next, patch todo.sh with the .diff: patch todo.sh < todotickler.diff

Setup all done!

So how do you use this?

Pretty simple: tickler.sh checks the date, and then checks the appropriate days and months folder for the presence of a .txt file with the same name. For todays date, it would check ‘/Users/yourname/GTD/Tickler/days/20/20.txt’ and ‘/Users/yourname/GTD/Tickler/months/07/07.txt’. The script will take the contents of them and appends it to todo.txt .

It doesn’t stop there!

It also checks the entire directory and moves all files to the ‘/Users/yourname/GTD/Tickler/today’ folder and makes a todo stating ‘check /Users/yourname/GTD/Tickler/today/$filename’

So how do you get things into the .txt files?

Easy, the patch adds a ‘tickle’ option to ‘todo.sh’.

Say your todo-list looks like:

04 (A) get rich 05 (A) take over the world p:world domination 03 buy DVD 06 fold laundry 07 wash dog 02 vacuum p:household 01 x 2006-07-14 do dishes p:household

Type the following command: todo tickle 7

The script will then ask you if you want to put it in a day or a month folder (press ‘d’ or ‘m’) and which number and then proceed with moving the task to the .txt file. You can skip the questions by typing: todo tickle 7 d25

This moves task 7 to /Users/yourname/GTD/Tickler/days/25/25.txt

For month-folder use something like: todo tickle 7 m8

Leading zeros get added when needed.