BlogOrlando

I just added a link in the sidebar to an upcoming blogger “unconference”, BlogOrlando. I’ve not been to any type of meetup/conference/gathering of other bloggers, and am really looking forward to it. Not only to just get out of town for a day or two, but to actually meet and talk face to face with other bloggers and web geeks. I’ll probably concentrate on the technology aspects of the gathering, though I suppose I can sit in on other sessions as they are added and interest me. I’m also looking forward to being able to pimp Habari.

If anyone else in the Central Florida area is going, I’d love to connect in advance, and possibly have someone to “know” in advance. There are two dinners, one the night before, and one the night of, so having even a somewhat familiar person to break bread with would be nice, though I’m fairly good at making new acquaintances and meeting people. (Probably from years of sitting in bars and chatting up the person next to me.)

Also, if anyone has advice for attending an event of this nature, I’m all ears.

Experiences with TiddlyWiki

Recently it was suggested that the Habari project think about using Tiddlywiki as a means to ship documentation with new releases. At first, I wasn’t sure about the idea, but after about 15 minutes of working with it, I was hooked. For those not familiar with Tiddlywiki, it’s a very light weight (single file) mini wiki. I’ve seen it described as “guerrilla” wiki, or the “ipod nano” of wikis. It highly leverages javascript to hide and show “tiddlers”, or the individual entries. With lots of available plugins and custom themes, not to mention a very active community, TW is certainly a great contribution to the web community, and something worth checking out. Those that are into the Getting Things Done, there’s a couple of GTD inspired adaptation, GTDTiddlyWiki, and MonkeyGTD. There’s also a FireFox extension, TiddlySnip that allows you to save snippets to your TW as a scrapbook of sorts, though I haven’t tested this extension yet.

The formatting in TW is different than MediaWiki, though it’s fairly easy to get used to. There’s also a MediaWiki formatter, which allows you to use that formatting in your TW (which is handy if you are copying info from a MW page. The same plugin author is working on an importer, which I am investigating, which actually allows you to scrape MW entries right into your TW.

All in all, I find TW a great tool, and something I will continue to work with for a variety of uses, and hopefully will open my eyes to learning more javascripting along the way.

Habari DR2

I’ve already mentioned, this blog is powered by a new blogging engine, Habari. A second developer release is out the door, and can be downloaded now.

As a developer release, it’s still not guaranteed for everyday, production level blogging, however it’s stable enough that you can certainly install it and get a feel for how far it’s come, and where it’s going. For the less faint of heart, you certainly can follow along using SVN.

This release among opening up many new features that have been in core for some time, also realizes a goal of having docs shipped with the release. It was a primary goal of the project from the start, and recent discussion about using the aforementioned TiddlyWiki as a means of distributing the documentation brought me into the fold on that aspect. Thanks to the initial work by Khaled, including customizing the CSS to match Habari’s proposed new admin interface, I was able to incorporate the basics from Habari’s wiki, and do some initial leg work on getting license agreements to use some TW community released plugins for future releases.

I must say it is quite satisfying to have contributed in some meaningful way to such a project, and certainly fueled the fires to more actively involve myself in documentation writing for the project, as well as any other positive contributions I can make. I’d really like to thank all of the project members, and additional community members who’ve brought Habari this far, as well as in general thank them for creating such a welcoming community. At this juncture in the development, it’s quite refreshing for there not to be a divide between users and coders, unlike an unnamed project I volunteered with in the past. This certainly is a goal for Habari, and I sincerely believe them when they say it will continue in that fashion. Alienation is the quickest, surefire way of loosing morale support and non code contributions to a community, and as I said, I whole heartedly believe the core of Habari understand that, and will avoid the culture of elitism that I’m sure permeates many other open source projects.

If you are looking for something new to get your thoughts onto the web, I’d seriously suggest considering Habari and getting involved in the community.

8apps Invites

Though there are many ways to socialize on the net (too many), I recently revisited this invite only site, 8apps. They’ve added a few more apps to the planned 8, so there’s a few more things to check out. Not meant as a review, as I honestly haven’t spent enough time on the site to give justice, suffice to say it’s a very slick site, with a lot of potential. It’s simply up against stiff competition.

That said, if you’d like to check it out, I’ve got 40 odd invites available, just leave a comment and I’ll be sure to send one. Only thing I ask is that you after sign up, look me up (miklb) and add me as a contact, as the system doesn’t automatically add invites to your contact list.

Custom Style Sheets and Basecamp

I’ve mentioned that I primarily use BaseCamp these days with the company that I work with to manage the many sites they handle. That’s all good, but whenever I log in, I am overwhelmed with many, many, late milestones and upcoming milestones. Sure, some of it’s relevant to me, however most is not. Even what is relevant, I’m well aware of my tardiness. I don’t need a constant reminder 🙂

Enter a handy little Firefox extentsion, Stylish, that I became aware of after adopting Hicks Designs handy Mac OS styled Google Reader style sheet. (Note, there are instructions for using the style sheet with other browsers).

Another quick use of the Web Developer extension (I couldn’t live without this extension), I was able to determine the class of the milestones on the dashboard (.milestones – go figure), and add a quick display:none to a custom style for the company’s Basecamp dashboard.

The Stylish extension easily offers you the option of using the style for a URL, a domain, or a global style, so I can be sure that it’s only being used where and when I want. The extension author recommends using the !important declaration, however I found no need for that with Basecamp. Certainly worth checking out if you are looking to hide some annoying element of a site you often visit.

Edit: I went ahead and changed my style to only drop the upcoming milestones, and left the overdue ones there, as that seemed more relevant to my job. The class for that is .Dashcal. That way, I can still see what’s overdue, and potentially avoid issues. Upcoming milestones I’ll leave to the project manager to advise on.

More About Email

So quickly I’ve discovered (or been reminded), that using a Mail.app rule to move right out of the Inbox removes the notice in the dock. Not a big deal, but if I’m away from the computer when the hour is up, I might not see that I have new work email, so I’ve employed Mail Badger, so that I can create a custom icon notice in the Mail icon in the dock just for that work’s email. So far so good though with the system.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged ,

Speaking of BaseCamp and GTD…

My previous post mentions BaseCamp and GTD, what I’d really, really, (no, really) like is a way to export my todo’s from BaseCamp. Most specifically, to the new Omni Focus, or even better, iCal, which then could be exported to some other format, be it Google Calendar, which supports Remember the Milk, or, as I mentioned, Omni Focus. (Which reminds me, I haven’t been using it as much as I’d like, due to the the subject of this post). Perhaps if my new system works out, I can use the quick add from Mail.app to OF as part of the system…hmm, might just work.

Tracking Time Spent on Email

So I work with a company that uses BaseCamp, which is great. Each project is easily separated, has it’s own todos, writeboards, etc. But as someone who works with all of the projects, I get cc’ed on every message posted. Some require my attention immediately, some will require me to be familiar with the project at some point. I’ve never been able to manage my time recording for this internal activity, and I know I’ve lost a few dollars because of this. SO today, I’m testing out a new system. I’ve set my mail app (Apple Mail), to only check mail once an hour. I then set up a mailbox just for these emails, got a timer on the dashboard, that can be started and stopped, and will start the timer, read the emails, follow up on BaseCamp on any immediate issues, pause the timer, and wash, rinse, repeat the rest of the business day. At some point I’m going to have to decide that this company has business hours, (I work from home), and not read anymore messages until the next morning, where I can track the time. I figure after a week or so, I’ll have a pretty good idea of how much time I’m spending on this, and might actually be more productive, as I’m not constantly logging into BaseCamp to see what new has been posted, and reading messages that have already been sent to my inbox. I also hope that after a week or two, it will be a habit, and I’ll have a pretty good average of the time spent, so I can simply log those hours either weekly based on the experiment.

I read a ton of productivity blogs, (which can be counter-productive, go figure), and it seems little issues like this always trip people up. I know that the GTD ethos is if you can do it in under 2 minutes, then do it, but that’s assuming you’re not getting 10 messages an hour, each with their own 2 minutes.

Hopefully in a week or two I can report back on how the little experiment went.

edit:Funny one of those blogs I mentioned has a little post about email and procrastination, certainly appropriate.

Technorati Update

It seems that Technorati finally was able to index the site, as well as fix the issue with the site regarding new claims for sites not supported with the their quick claim. Not sure why I was actually waiting for the claim before blogging more here, but it worked out, as I was out with a medical issue the past few weeks, so timing is everything. I really look forward to blogging, and now I have no excuses.

Special thanks to Christian(aka h0bbel) for expressing a similar concern about Technorati’s handling of this situation.

Technorati Update

It seems that Technorati finally was able to index the site, as well as fix the issue with the site regarding new claims for sites not supported with the their quick claim. Not sure why I was actually waiting for the claim before blogging more here, but it worked out, as I was out with a medical issue the past few weeks, so timing is everything. I really look forward to blogging, and now I have no excuses.

Special thanks to Christian(aka h0bbel) for expressing a similar concern about Technorati’s handling of this situation.

OmniFocus

I just got my invite for the alpha testing (yes, alpha, not beta) of OmniFocus, and I can say with certainty that I love it, and am ready to buy it now. It just seems to be intuitive enough with just the right amount of features (and it’s not done). I certainly hope that the main interface doesn’t get clogged up like many other GTD apps have done trying to be too many things to too many people. I especially like that you can group projects. I’ll blog more once I’ve really had a chance to dig into it a bit more, but if you are Mac using GTD’er, you really should sign up for the beta-announcement list, especially if you are not happy with the other options out there.

Technorati and Habari

Technorati
Profile

Seems Habari can’t use Technorati’s quick claim process, so I was asked to paste a little code in a post, so the claim process could proceed. Hopefully this will be quick. I will say that Lev with Technorati was very nice and apologetic regarding the issue, and offered any more assistance necessary.

h2 tag inside anchor tag

I’m confused. I set an

< h2 >

tag with an #id, and give it a background image. I want both the image and the text to be a clickable link. Thus, I want to wrap the

< h2 >

tag inside the anchor tag. Validator tells me it’s not valid HTML. I set the anchor to a class of .block, which is defined as

.block {display:block}

. Still doesn’t validate. Do you see the logic? Or, am I just making a mistake?

Live Designing

In the true spirit of blog design, I’m doing it live on the site, vs working offline. Not that anyone really ventures to this domain yet anyway. If you have stumbled in, thanks, and hopefully things will be functioning normal by the end of the weekend.

Designing with Grids

I’ve been reading more and more about the concept, and have tried using some Photoshop tools for helping with the concept when doing up a layout mock, but watching and listening to Khoi Vinh and Mark Boulton talk about it from their session at the SXSW Interactive helped immensely. You can read more about Khoi’s presentation, as well as download the slides in .pdf format on his blog, Subtraction, and download the podcast from the official SXSW site.scroll down about 2/3 of the way for the link. Certainly a lot of good information in the comments on the blog as well, particularly links to books about the subject.

For Real This Time

OK. I’m officially going to start blogging here at bloggingmeta, to what ever degree that means. It may just be a few things web related, and setting up a lifestream, but I will relegate my personal domain for just that, personal blogging, be it political or what not, but all things internet/blogging/web related will go here. I’m really excited about using Habari, and have wanted to start using this domain for some time. Now that the DB is somewhat stable, and not as many chances of having to dump the db, I think I’ll be fine. Here’s to the rest of my life while I’m at it.

Gravatars 2.0 and Skippy’s Gravatars Plugin

I had heard that Gravatar 2.0 had been released, but hadn’t really paid much attention. Today, while doing a little housekeeping around the site, I noticed that none of my gravatars were showing up. After doing a little investigating, I realized it had to do with caching, among other things. First thing I did was dump the cache on my gravatars folder in wp-content. Second, I logged into the gravatar site, and re-associated my gravatar with my email that I use for that account. Still no gravatars, mine, or anyone else’s.

So I looked at the settings on Skippy’s gravatar plugin (which I like as I can set a local gravatar, vs using a default one from the original site), it was set to use caching. I turned that setting off, and voilá, gravatars are showing back up. Hopefully that could help someone else (though, from reading a few blogs, and the comments on the main site, there’s no guarantees the main site will be with fail).

Miklb.com turns 2

birthday candle Perhaps a bit late, but just about 2 years ago, I started this domain, which has led me down a life path I can honestly say I didn’t expect. I no longer am cooking for a living, not going to school, and trying to make a go of it doing web design/consulting. Thinking back on it all, I’ve come a long way, and look forward to where things go. To any and all who’ve visited and commented, thanks. I’ve recently tried to blog more in general, and also realized that the site is in need of some overhauling, as I’ve not really done much with the design/updating in almost a year. So as soon as I crank out a new design for Tiny Little Dots, I’ll focus some spare time on the site.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged

Posting From Ecto

Testing out Ecto, a desktop blogging client. I had only tried MarsEdit, and at the time there was no option for tagging. Now that UTW supports inline tags, this should be a better option.

[tags]ecto, WordPress, UTW[/tags]

Following Up on GTD

Well, two months into the year, and I’m still struggling with a good GTD system. I am using Actiontastic still, but for work, I’m using Fresh Books to time track and invoice clients. (For those that care, I’ve gone full time into web work. Mostly WordPress, but I’ve done a fair amount of non-WP work. My working site is Bishop Blog Works. Please understand the design is in flux).

Fresh Books is great, but I can’t get my clients to use the ticket system. Email is still their method of choice for notifying me of needed changes, for both active projects, and site tweaks. Fresh Books says they will have an email to ticket system, but if that doesn’t materialize sooner than later, I may have to look at another option. In the meantime, I try to take the email, add it to iCal as a todo using Mailtags, then sync iCal with Actiontastic, and THEN add those as tickets/tasks in Fresh Books.

Not working out so well.

On a positive note, I’ve streamlined the home office, clearing out a lot of clutter, which I believe makes it easier to get started in the morning and stay focused.

If anyone has a suggestion for converting emails to a time tracking system, I’d love to hear about it. I have started looking at Alex King’s Tracks , as it has an email to task ability, but the demo doesn’t seem to allow for that. It requires running a cron job on your server, and since Alex is setting the demo up on his, I don’t see a way to test that feature. If it works, I could have clients send an email that is picked up by Tasks, and then time track straight from that. But then I’m back to either having two “apps” for time tracking/invoicing. Hopefully Fresh Books will roll out that feature soon, and I’ll be good to go. I then simply forward a copy of the ticket to Mail.app, add it to Actiontastic, and it’s automatically added to a ticket. Or at least that’s how I’d draw it up on paper.

No Longer a Champion of Metro PCS

I’ve long been a customer and ardent “word-of-mouth” supporter of Metro PCS. Heck, they even added web browsing (albeit a handcuffed version). However, after my experience with their customer support today, I can not advocate the company, or will no longer be a customer. I’ve always wondered if their business model was really aimed at low-income people looking for a quick and easy cell phone option, and now I think that’s the case. A genuine desire to hang onto long time customers certainly wasn’t in my experience today.
Long story short, I’m a procrastinator. I simply wait until the last minute to pay bills. Certainly I’m working on fixing that defect, see my post about GTD and a desire to at least know that a bill is due. So last night I tried paying my bill, the last day. Nothing uncommon on my end, I’ve done it routinely since I got the service. However, last night, I couldn’t process the online payment gateway. Tried again today, still no luck, so I called their payment service customer support. First agent said turn off pop-up blockers. I explained I’ve never had that issue before, but humored them and tried. No luck. I call back, this time I’m asked, “are you using FireFox Mozilla?” “Yes”, I replied. Nut shell- they stopped supporting Mozilla. No explanation, just, “use IE.”

I started this some time ago, and it’s been sitting as a draft, so I figured I’d wrap it up as I just mentioned Flickr and mobblogging
After I let the account lapse, I procrastinated some more, not signing up with another service, to the point I figured I’d go ahead and keep Metro PCS for a little longer. I paid my bill, (approx a month later) and service was back on. The next morning, I get a text message saying I need to pay another $60. So I try calling them to find out what was going on. I probably spent an hour just finding a phone number where I could speak with a human being. I finally had to call an authorized reseller in St. Petersburg (I live in Tampa) to get a number. They informed me that though I don’t have a contract, their policy is that you pay for the month of service, even if the phone wasn’t in use. I said that was unacceptable, and wanted a refund. That I did get. But never in the whole process did anyone acknowledge that the whole issue arose from their poor web interface, and offer to simply waive a month, or any reconnect fees to keep me as a customer.

Some irony to that is that when ever I would end a conversation with a rep, they would say “we value your business here at Metro PCS”. Did they really? I think not. I highly suggest looking at other alternatives to their service, as I do not think they care about long term customers, and are more in the business of short term, “turn and burn” clientele.

Not as Painful as I Thought

So if anyone has an “old school” flickr account, they too received an email a while back saying that as of March 15th, they needed to merge with a yahoo id. I had a yahoo id, which I never really use. And like most people, they are probably a bit attached to their online identities. Obviously, I use miklb where ever I can. I was a bit upset at the prospect of losing my flickr account of /miklb. Granted, the yahoo account I have is miklb.online, but somehow that just isn’t what I wanted. So I procrastinated in making the switch. Finally, today, I went about looking into it, as I didn’t want to get locked out of my moblog images. (Currently, I do not have a cell service with a camera phone, but not all of those images are still on my old phone, anyway…) I went to the flickr account, and saw the “merge” accounts option. I went to merge miklb with yahoo id miklb.online. No go. miklb.online was already associated with flickr. Ugh. When did I do that?

So looking at that account, I hadn’t actually uploaded any images, so I saw I could delete the flickr account for that ID. I didn’t know if I could then re-associate it, but what the heck, I figured I’d give it a shot. I deleted the yahoo id from flickr, and tried again to merge, still thinking I’d become miklb.online. In the meantime, I found a flickr export app for the Mac, Flickrbackup, grabbed my images just in case, and then made the association between the old school account and the yahoo id. All went smooth, and to my surprise, I get to keep the miklb account, I simply now log in with the yahoo id. Excellent. Perhaps this will move me to use flickr a bit more, I know I’d love to get a friend of mine to use it, but he’s a myspacer, and I don’t even know what he’s using to host his images. (Goody Goody, I’ll even set you up with a blog if you make the switch from myspace).
So, long story short, it was far less painful to make the switch, and if you haven’t done so, fret not, if you have to be pumpkinpatch6969 instead of your favorite handle, you’ll not loose your flickr name.

This One is for Dr Bacchus

zippyLately I’ve spent a fair amount of time on Habari’s IRC channel, mostly because some really smart people are there, and because Dr Bacchus has a bot on the channel that if you type “yow”, will randomly quote Zippy the Pinhead. I first discovered Zippy while living in Denver in the early 90’s. it was a daily comic in the (I think)Rocky Mountain News. Not long after, being a casual fan of alt-comics, I discovered Fantagraphics, and then soon after they published several collections of Zippy comics. I still own the first 3 issues of the collection somehow (the time soon after moving back from Colorado can be a bit hazy, to say the least).

zippyI don’t even begin to consider myself a Zippy fanatic, and have barely kept up with the comic since those days, but I can’t help but laugh out loud when ever I type those three letters on IRC. No matter how bored, frustrated, or confused I might be with my situation at hand, good ol’ mzuri and his Zippy quotes pick me up, and break the ice just enough to keep going. So the next time you are having a rough time just think of your Zippy, and quotes like:

“Wouldn’t it be great, Zip, if th’ spirit of Halloween could last all year long?”

“Yow! A never ending orgy of apple-bobbing and miniature mars bars!”