Category Archives: Operating Systems

Taking Screenshots the Easy Way

I’ve mentioned this software before but I feel compelled to show you all why this software has made my list of software I install on a fresh format. This software is MWSnap, a program for taking and manipulating screenshots. When you first open the program, you’re greeted with this:

MWSnap - Take Screenshots Easily

On the left, you have your main options for screenshots and on your right, you have a preview. Each of the screenshots have hotkeys that you can learn by click ‘Capture’ on the menu bar. All of the options are pretty self-explanatory except the ‘Window/menu’ option, which you’ll learn to love fast.

When you select this option, the screen freezes and you have a dotted box that selects whatever menu or window you’re cursor is hovering on.

MWSnap - Window or Menu

This assures for a clean cut every time, quickly and easily.

And if you’re feeling fancy, you can garnish it by adding a cursor from the ‘edit’ menu:

MWSnap - Add Cursor

MWSnap has some interesting tools that come in handy at random times:

MWSnap - Tools

I’d say the ruler is the one I use most often.

MWSnap - Ruler

It’s floats above all other windows and lets you measures them by pixels. Don’t worry, it goes vertically as well.

And while I chose to use ColorPic for my color picking software. MWSnap’s color picker isn’t half bad.

MWSnap - Color Picker

There are only two downsides that I’ve found to this application. First being the lack of ability to crop… that to me is odd but I just open it up in IrfanView and take care of it that way. The other issue is multiple monitors. Unfortunately, MWSnap only recognizes the primary monitor. I don’t really have a work around for this, I just deal with it and drag windows I need to take screenshots of over to my primary monitor.

This software has saved me tons of time, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Daily database backups on dreamhost

To do daily database backups, I use cron jobs. If you aren’t familiar with cron jobs, think of the as scripts that run on a timer. Much like ‘scheduled tasks’ on windows. To edit your cron jobs on dreamhost, locate the ‘cron jobs‘ menu item located under ‘goodies‘ on the main menu:

Location of cron jobs on dreamhost

Before we add a cron job though, I want to familiarize you with the script and have you run a test to save you a headache later.

#! /bin/sh

# Daily backups on your database with email notification
# Tyler Mulligan

# file
dateVar=$(date +%m-%d)          # Date variable to append to filename (default: month-day | 11-24)
savePath="/home/tyler/backups/" # Backups are stored here
fileName="my_db_backup"         # File name minus the date

# email
subject="My Database Backup ${dateVar}"
email="[email protected]"

# database
username="root"      # username
password=""          # password
hostname="localhost" # hostname
database="database"  # database

mysqldump -u $username -p$password -h $hostname $database | gzip  > $savePath$fileName-$dateVar.sql.gz

uuencode $savePath$fileName-$dateVar.sql.gz $fileName-$dateVar.sql.gz | mail -s "$subject" $email

I’ve set it up so you fill out your information like any other config file, the last two lines do all the work.

I suggest you create a new text file called ‘dbbackup.txt’, and paste the above code in and saving it for future reference. It’s always good to have a clean slate to start from. Once you have that done, fill in your file, email and database variables and give it a test run.

Create a shell script through ssh and run that.

Copy your personalized database dump code, log into your server and type:

vi my_db_test.sh
[press i]
right click (to paste the copied code)
[press esc][type ":wq"]
[press enter]

Your script is now written to a file called ‘my_db_test.sh’.

chmod +x the file and run it:

chmod +x my_db_test.sh
./my_db_test.sh

Once you receive the email, check your backup directory and verify that the database was properly dumped. If you don’t receive and email, you did something wrong.

If everything worked fine, return to the dreamhost cron job page, add a cron job and paste your working code into your newly created cron job.

A new cron job on dreamhost

Save, wait a day and you should receive your email. It’s a wise idea to grab a copy of your backup every week or so to store locally.

Dreamhost is actually offering a special for their 10th anniversary right now, 500gb disk space, 5TB transfer for only $5.95 a month. I’ve been with them 2 years and I’ve been pleased.

Organizing Your Email on the Fly

Tyler Mulligan’s Email Organization

Email can be a hassle but it doesn’t have to be if you lay out the ground work properly. Folders are a great solution but they only bring you so far. I know I don’t want to manually sort all my email. If you’re like me, you’ll love thunderbird’s filters and tags. Filters allow you to sort, delete, tag and so much more automagically.

To get started, click tools > message filters…

Thunderbird - Message Filters Menu

And you are brought to a dialog similar to this (mine obviously has a few filters):

thunderbird_filter_list.png

Click ‘new…’ to get started.

Thunderbird - Filter

In this dialog, conditions are defined at the top and actions are defined below. In the example above, you’ll notice that my condition is based on the Subject of the email. When this condition is true, it will perform the actions below. Move to the BOA folder and tag the message as important.

A little note about this window that confuses people, those + and – buttons are to add and remove conditions/actions. You do not need to click + if you are just filling in the one field, thunderbird knows it’s there.

Also note, Thunderbird allows you to add your own tags with a nice array of colors to choose from (though I would prefer hex).

New Tag

To access this dialog, click the tag button on the tool bar and select ‘new…’

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a message. Happy sorting!

Bookmark Organization

Bookmarks are something most of us don’t really keep up to par. Sometimes you just ctrl+d on a whim, losing that page in your lack of a hierarchy forever. Well, at least that’s how it’s been for me. However, once in a while I give myself a kick in the ass and try to shape up. Based upon the patterns I’ve learned in the past and the general direction I wish to go, I reevaluate my mess and decide the proper way forward. In this case it was the standard, “Make general categories and add sub-folders if they need more organization” route… with a little extra spice.

My Bookmarks Organized

This time around, I decided to utilize folders in the bookmarks toolbar. Maybe I’m blind to this but I feel like most people don’t utilize this helpful feature, I know I didn’t until now. After spending a few days using folders on my toolbar, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is both effective and efficient.

My Bookmarks Toolbar

I spend a lot of time developing locally and often do rounds on my live sites and rather than waste 4 seconds typing in a 32 character URL, I’d rather waste 0.4 making two clicks. Yes, that’s right, I’m shaving off seconds to increase my efficiency. It might not seem like a lot but it adds up to minutes a day and hours a year.

Now, because I’m going to be spending a lot of time on my laptop, I needed a global solution to my bookmarks. The path I chose to get is syncing them with the Firefox extension, Bookmark Sync and Sort. If you don’t have your own server, there are some hosted alternatives such as Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer. Those trendy bookmark sites aren’t really the solution for me for a few reasons.

1) I like to control my data.
2) Those sites are usually distracting to me
3) While the Firefox bookmarks manager isn’t the ideal solution, the GUI is far more advanced than something you’ll find on a social bookmarking site.

Admittedly, there is an advantage to these sites, and that’s the fact that I can get to my bookmarks quickly no matter what computer I’m on. But again, I can argue that I can find a link just as fast (if not faster) with SSH by greping the xml file Bookmark Sync and Sort generates.

Back on track, once you have the extension installed, click ‘Bookmarks’ > ‘Synchronize Bookmarks’ and fill in the dialog with your information as such:

Bookmarks Sync and Sort

What kind of man would I be if I didn’t take advantage of this moment to sort my bookmarks?

My Bookmarks Sorted

Mmm, alphabetical order.

Now I just need to upkeep as best I can… I’ll let you know when I come up with a better solution for that. Right now, I just force myself to take the time to find the correct folder in the hierarchy. It’s a good habit but a hard one to keep. If you have any advice, please share. Good luck and happy bookmarking.

P.S. I edited the file wp-admin/admin-functions.php, line 2126 to increase the generated thumbnail size in wordpress. Just replace ’128′ with the max you wish. Thought maybe some of you could use that information.

Rename Master: Batch Renaming Utility

I’ve tried many different batch renamers for all sorts of reasons. More often than not, it’s for sorting images. The other day I came across a directory of images that I had (stupidly) prefixed and I needed to change that back. With a few simple clicks using Rename Master I was able to restore them quickly and easily.

Rename master has a very simple but intuitive gui with powerful options behind it. With some obvious wants and needs of a renamer such as a live preview of the rename and variables… Rename Master takes it a step further with their support for full regular expressions and thumbnail views.

Check this out:

rename-master-1.jpg

Breaking down the screenshot above, we can see that I’ve chosen to do two things (as denoted by the underlined tabs), I’m using the “Add To” and the “Replace” options to formulate the name “Lemonade Stand ##.jpg” and remove those ugly S########.JPG names.

Also, you’ll see I’ve brought up the thumbnail preview that I mentioned above. This is not necessary in this process as I’ve already moved all the “Lemon Stand” to their appropriate folder but I just wanted to let you see how it could come in handy.

The ?n02? code wasn’t something I knew by heart when I first starting using this program, these variables can be generated by the program if you click the blue arrow button next to the text field.

There is so much for me to mention about this program… but I don’t want to waste your time, do yourself a favor and download it. It’s a single file, coded in delphi so it doesn’t need to be installed.

This program all works with mp3 id3 tags.

Which Widget Didya Get?

I tried Konfabulator a while ago (emphasis on the while) and I wasn’t too pleased. It seemed laggy, buggy and more trouble than it was worth. However, recently I was on the lookout for a good desktop todo list, nothing too fancy but it seemed to achieve this, I would have to put my qualms aside and get some sort of widget program.

I decided to give Konfabulator another shot (now know as Yahoo Widgets. And I must say, I’m quite pleased! Everything runs smoothly, it integrates well with the OS and I haven’t had any crashes.

So if you haven’t tried out Yahoo Widgets, I definitely recommend it.

By the way, here is the todo list that I’m using.

Batch Converting Your Images

While I love Adobe Photoshop and the amount of power it has behind it’s actions, sometimes I like to use a lightweight alternative.

IrfanView is a program I’ve mentioned before, it’s great for flipping through series of images but it’s also great at doing many other things (some of which I’ll mention in future posts), like batch converting. In the following example, I’ll do a quick run through on a real life example, creating image thumbnails.

So, lets start off by opening a folder with pictures you’d like to thumbnail:

Pictures I’d like to thumbnail

Open a picture with IrfanView and select ‘Batch Conversion/Rename’ from the file menu (B is the shortcut key)

Select Batch Conversion/Rename

Click the ‘Add All’ button (or optionally pick and choose the images you’d like to convert). And set your basic options. I made my output folder /thumbs, selected ‘Batch conversion – Rename result files’, made the output format GIF and set my rename mask to $N.t (which means [old image name].t).

Click Add All

Check the ‘Use advanced options’ box and click the ‘Set advanced options’ button.

Advanced options

I set my thumbnail size to 50% height and width but you can choose whatever you please. I also checked ‘preserve aspect ratio’ and ‘use resample function’ but those are optional.

Click ‘OK’ and you’ll be taken back to the previous window, click ‘start’ and bam, you’re done.

You can now navigate to your newly create thumbs folder

New thumbs

And marvel in the glory

Hey, it’s me!

This was a pretty simple example but I’m sure when you went to the advanced options window, the gears in your head starting turning. This program is a great tool, you should really play around with it and try to get the most out of it. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t use it.

Organizing Your Precious Internet Memories

Back when I first became a part of these internets, I’d get a lol or two via a link to a picture or a website. With the exception of a few of these pictures (thanks digg) most of these pictures have become distant memories of my past. After a while it occurred to me, why aren’t I saving these pictures?

However obsessive, I made it my job, nay, my duty to summon the strength to save and sort ever picture that strikes the slightest bit of interest. This, as you could imagine was a tedious task. Right click, navigate to proper folder, rename image (if needed) and save. My commitment was strong but apparently no match for this mundane method. Slowly, I would stop navigating to sub-folders and just drop them all in a folder I like to call “Internet Garbage”. Currently in the root of this folder, there resides over 3,000 unsorted images.

DON’T WAIT TO SORT YOUR FILES! This is the best advice I can give to anyone. Sure it’s easy to save everything to your desktop but chances are, you’ll mix it up, lose it, delete or whatever. If you put in the extra 20 seconds navigating/creating a relevant folder, you’ll save yourself a boatload of suffering.

Getting back on track though… I came across a Firefox extension a while back called Save Image in Folder. This extension saves you so much time and trouble, that you’d actually be wasting resources by saving files the old fashion way.

Go Install that extension and come back for a tutorial if you too, would like to start saving some ‘Internet Garbage’.

After Installing the extension, right click an image (it can be any image, we’re just using this to set things up quickly). You can use this image if you’d like:

omg_spoon_cat.jpg

Select “Save Image in Folder… >> Edit folders…”

step-1.png

Select “New”, click the folder button next to the “Path” textbox and create a new folder called “Internet Garbage”. Create all your sub folders inside of that folder.

For this example, I used:

- Art
- Funny
- Gross
- Macro
- Nerdy
- Sexy
- Wallpaper

You can add more whenever you please.

step-2.png

Note: You can prefix or suffice the filenames however you’d like. It’s not a bad idea to prefix the files with a short date… but it’s all up to you.

Once you have all your folders created, it’s a good idea to sort them alphabetically by using the up and down arrows located on the side of the Options dialog.

step-3.png

Now it’s as simple as right clicking an image and picking a folder it’s most relevant to save to.
step-4.png

Take Notes… The Easy Way

You know those times where you’re diddling around on the computer and want to take a quick note? We all have and unfortunately those notes we make to ourselves can sometimes get lost in the loads of “new text document (*).txt”‘s found plentiful on our desktops.

After dealing with this lack of organization for some time, I “developed” (I use the term loosely) a quick windows solution to this that anyone can do with a few clicks. Check it out.

First: Open up explorer (windows key+e) and navigate to a directory of your choice.

step-one.png

Second: Create a folder called… say “My Toolbar”

step-two.png

Third: Create a text document named whatever you’d like (and optionally add shortcuts)

step-three.png

Fourth: Right click your task bar and select “Toolbars” then select “New Toolbar”

step-four.png

Fifth: Navigate to the folder you created

step-five.png

Sixth: Right click your new toolbar and uncheck “Show Text” and “Show Title”

step-six.png

Final Product:

step-seven.png

I hope this helps you clean up your note taking :)

To make it even EASIER, you can set the txt file to a hotkey using the program WinKey I mentioned in a previous post. I set mine to windows+s

Freeware I can't believe I forgot to mention!

As I was running through some of my tasks yesterday, I realized I had forgotten to mention a few programs I tend to use quite often. So here they are in no particular order…

Unlocker

Ever try to delete a file on windows only to have it give you an error? You try and try to delete the file, closing all programs that may be associated with it? Well this bad boy right here will cure your frustration by allowing you to delete said files.

Desktop List View

Why this feature isn’t built into windows… I’ll never know. This little application will allow you to view the files on your desktop as you would if you had listed them in explorer, allowing you to take back some precious screen real estate.

DS Clock

Yeah, it’s ugly, so what, it tells time, it works flawlessly with dual monitors and I haven’t found a better alternative yet.

Notepad++

This is my text editor of choice. The tabbed files are what brought me to it, the regex find/replace is what kept me. The project is actively developed and I’ve seen it come a long way since version 3.1.

UXTheme Multi-Patcher

I’m not sure if this counts.. but it’s one of the first things I run after windows update on a fresh install. This patcher allows you to use your own windows themes. Many great ones can be found here but the best one is found here. RoyalFour is a slick modification of the default XP skin.

Check it out:

RoyalFour