Eighth Anniversary Redesign Underway

I originally started this blog 8 years ago. A lot has happened since then. While I learned a lot building out the last design, a lot has changed regarding HTML, CSS and more so, responsive design.

I will try to update with what I’m working on as I continue this, rest assured, it’s going to be very rough around the edges, but that’s a sure fire way of making sure I complete this. I’m not even sure if comments are working, or I’d say leave a message if you see something you’d like to see more of, or is so horribly broken the site doesn’t work.

I’m still trying to figure out how to bring back my old content, and am leaning now towards manually moving over posts that I’d like to have around for posterity. Doing so manually sounds tedious, but will allow me to clean up the markup.1 I’ll probably do the same with all of my old food blog posts as well. I’m using a little plugin that Owen whipped up for using post-formats. Similar to how WordPress does, but much better in my opinion. I’ll definitely write more about that after I get the kinks worked out.

Update Seems I can’t remove localhost from the free pictos account I set up and add the live domain. Waiting on support, but not holding my breath. Not willing to pay for the service until I can see it live. Might start looking for alternatives. Also, reading their support threads, seems like a big headache.

Update 2 Ran into some issues, switching back over to previous theme for now.

  1. Which means converting everything over to using Markdown and cleaning up broken links and images.

Terminal.app & Solarized

This was new to me, but I’ve been using Terminal.app a lot lately setting up my new VPS. As a big fan of the Solarized Color Scheme, began to wonder if I could use that with Terminal.app. A quick Google search quickly returned OS Lion terminal colors – Solarized. As I’m still on Lion, it’s a simple as downloading the zip, extracting, double clicking the preferred scheme (light or dark) to activate it. The readme file says Mountain Lion users can import the file via preferences. The only hitch was as a user of TotalFinder I couldn’t get it to use the new default Solarized color scheme.

Another quick search turned up that this was not a bug, but a (bad IMVHO) design decision. If the Visor color scheme is available, regardless of the default scheme in Terminal, it will use Visor. Apparently the options are renaming the color schemes, or, as I chose to do, delete Visor scheme from Terminal.

Though I use the light scheme for all of my text editors, I’m leaning towards the dark for TotalTerminal. My next step will probably be to edit my .bash profile to change the prompt colors, but I’m not sure I’m that big a geek today.

I’m Back…

This site has been down for several months due to a multitude of reasons. That said, I’m still not 100% what I’m going to do next, but I’m leaning towards keeping it completely free of any and all content that I accumulated the first seven years. While there is something to be said for posterity, an equal argument can be made for clean starts.

Currently I’m running the latest stable version of Habari on an inexpensive VPS that is only running Ngnix and Sqlite. No Apache, no Mysql. That part will stay. From there, I’m just not quite sure, other than I will not have a filter on my content ever again.

For the one or two people who stumble into this new incarnation, I am no longer doing any type of web work/development professionally, save for a business that I’m helping ehem, “bootstrap”. I’ll be writing more about that for sure, suffice to say this NY Times article touches on where I’ve been mentally and professionally the last couple of months.

Technology, Civil War & Parallels

Telegraph KeyI’ve been really enjoying both the Civil War Day By Day Blog, as well as the Disunion series in the Opininator from the NY Times. Earlier this week Disunion had an article, Morse, The Telegraph & Civil War. The gist of the article is that the advent of the Telegraph allowed for quicker and faster communication, and coupled with advances of the printing press, allowed for more newspapers to take hold, each with their own partisan orientation.

This speed of communication allowed for the schism between North and South to broaden.

Instead, of course, national unity unraveled as antagonistic North-South stereotypes hardened during the 1850s. The dominant modern narrative of mid-19th century American history suggests that North and South began to see each other more clearly — and that each discovered how genuinely different the other had become. While a fast-changing North embraced progress and improvement, the South remained wedded to an archaic, retrogressive labor system. Under the circumstances, Northern and Southern outlooks and values necessarily diverged.

What struck me most though about this article is how it parallels today’s current events and how the advances in technology and the internet can be directly attributed to the uprising in the Middle East, as well as to some degree the political discourse in our own country. The 24 hour news cycle, and the fact that anyone can start a blog/website to argue their stance has really changed the way politics is done in the United States. We just had our first presidential candidate announce his candidacy via Twitter. A politician was run out of Washington due to his use of Craigslist and the ability of a website to get a hold of the email exchange and image to quickly get it out, being picked up by mainstream media, resulting in his resignation within days of the story hitting the web.

Guess it goes to prove the old adage, The more things change, the more they stay the same.

A Loquat By Any Other Name…

So LoquatI tweeted

I’m thinking most folks in #SHeights & #Tampa are confusing kumquats with loquats. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LoquatTue Mar 29 22:14:07 via Kiwi

that I’m guessing folks in Seminole Heights and Tampa might be confusing kumquats with loquats. Why? It’s a little late for citrus in general. Also, my native ass says kumquats are an even earlier citrus. Also, they look similar (not really). Taste: no comparison. A super ripe loquat to me is a cross between a mango and peach. And heaven. Relish the wild loquats our fore fathers planted and the birds have spread Ybor and Seminole Heights neighbors. They are a treat.

Miklb.com Turns 6

I Birthday Cakeknew it was right around this time, but it seems that this little slice of the web turned 6 this weekend, as did my twisting adventure of making a living building web sites. Seems like yesterday still I was purchasing my first tiny plan from A Small Orange and installing WordPress 1.2. Now I have 2 different VPS’s, manage 100’s of WordPress sites for work on a dedicated server (managed, I’m not that much a masochist), and moved onto Habari for my personal sites. Ironically or not, those that started Habari were some of the very ones that welcomed me into WordPress and were the ones that probably have helped me the most to get where I’ve gotten today.

So I’d like to share this virtual cake particularly with Chis J Davis, as the first theme I tore apart to customize was one of his (among many others down the road), Owen Winkler for the many plugins I used to get started as well as the many hours of tutelage over the years on a variety of subjects, and Scott Merrill, because in addition to his many plugins and welcoming nature, his patience in helping walk me through setting up my first VPS.

There are many, many more who’ve helped me through these past six years I couldn’t begin to name them all, but please know I’m eternally grateful to each and every one.

Transmit & Textmate No Longer Sitting in a Tree

For years, my work tools/flow has primarily consisted of using Transmit for for (S)FTP, and TextMate for all file editing save for CSS files, for which I use CSSEdit. It worked like a charm. I could be on 3 different servers, jumping from issue to issue, project to project, and never miss a beat. Now I know my hard core programmer friends will say I should be using something like VIM, which I’d love to be that guy, but my skills at modifying PHP would never allow me to work like that. I like the code completion, syntax highlighting, and pretty GUI of a desktop app.

So this little work flow had become second nature. I never really thought about it anymore. For those not familiar with TextMate, associated files in a project open in tabs, ala browsers. Otherwise, they are simply each a new window. Originally I was using the Muffin Research tutorial on how to get the temp Transmit files in a TextMate project. With the excellent update to version 4 of Transmit, a new tutorial surfaced dealing with the new way temp files were handled. I followed along, things worked great. Until now.

After a recent update to Transmit, I realized the temp files were no longer opening as a project in TextMate. I tweeted about it, and soon after someone from Panic asked me to send a support email. I enthusiastically did, hoping I had missed something. Unfortunately, the reply was:

Hi Michael, unfortunately I can’t guarantee that this functionality will return. It’s not something that’s supported by the ODB Editor suite. Really, this is a feature that needs to be added to TextMate in the same way that browsers can be told to open new windows in tabs.

I politely replied that TextMate does have that feature, the associated files just need to be in a project. Once again, the response was that I should open a feature request ticket with TextMate that files open as tabs regardless of being associated with a project, followed by

We fixed a legitimate bug with editing files in BBEdit and this was an unintended side-effect. However, it’s unfair of you to claim that this was a supported feature of Transmit as it relied on accessing a hidden cache folder in order to function.

There was an additional suggestion along the way that I could mount the remote servers using the built in MacFUSE technology as folders on my desktop. I’m not inclined to use that for my work server however.

Additionally, I was offered a refund if rolling back to 4.1.1 wasn’t an option. Certainly I do not want to be stuck with that version forever, but in the meantime I’ve rolled back so I can continue on my current work flow, while investigating other options. I’ve downloaded Panic’s Coda application, which is an svn client, FTP and file editor all rolled into one (plus terminal). I had tested it on its initial release, and didn’t find it anywhere near my existing setup. I’ve not used it enough in its current form to know if it’s mature enough to compete. Certainly I’m not a heavy programmer, so a lot of times TextMate can be overkill. I look forward to testing it further.

In an ideal world, there would be a simple way for Transmit to store the temp files as in the past where TextMate can easily find them as a project. Or TextMate 2 drops overnight and has built in support for opening files unassociated with a project as tabs. I’m certainly open to suggestions.

Lastly, let me be clear. I did not mean to imply this was a “supported” feature, rather it just worked. James, the Panic support person who corresponded with me over this issue was nothing but professional, polite and honest. Refreshingly honest. They make a great product, one that has almost seamlessly fit into my system without even noticing it most days. I sincerely appreciate their offer of refunding my purchase. That was never my goal. I’ve gotten far more value out of my purchase of that application to ever accept the refund, regardless of my ultimate direction. I just want the perfect marriage back.

Differences in Habari Development

It seems that there is quite the difference in how Habari is developed from a PHP standpoint to a design standpoint. Code wise, most major changes that I’ve seen, a patch was sent out to the community, and comments were made about how it worked, and if it worked within the general scope of where the members and community saw development.

This has not been the case, from what I can see, with a current movement to change the entire admin interface. There was some discussion about the possibility of incorporating BluePrint CSS Framework into the admin interface. The general consensus was that it wasn’t a bad idea, but that there were concerns with it’s compatibilities with all browsers. In that discussion however, there was no talk of a “live” redesign of the interface. Meaning, the admin would be changed in trunk, at small increments, without any discussion of the changes, or the effects of those changes on the user experience.

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.

New Year and Getting Things Done

This is the first of probably several posts for, primarily my own benefit, documenting my implementation of the GTD system

Well, a bit late in getting a “New Years” post up, but I’m fighting a heavy does of procrastination and a head cold, so I thought “no time better than the present”. Several months ago, I discovered Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders, probably via a link from a Mac site. There I found my first introduction to the concept of “Getting Things Done”, which is a book and much more from David Allen. Like most people, I find myself constantly feeling unorganized, confused, and wrought with anxiety as I’m not “getting shit done.” So I began reading some posts, exploring the multitude of applications discussed, and “lurking”.

The first application that I explored, which isn’t directly a GTD app, but one meant to provide more productivity in using your Mac was Quicksilver. This free application really is something that should be built into the OS, but that’s for another discussion. Suffice to say, once you get a hang of the app, you may never really touch your mouse or use the dock again. (Well, not really, but it is safe to say you will use the mouse much less, and the dock, well, that can be eliminated.)

From there, I began reading more and more about the GTD concept, and decided it was time to get the book. My frugal nature led me to my local library, however, the waiting list for the book was 57 people (I’ve yet to be notified by the library that a copy was available for me). So procrastination took over, I blew off several trips to the book store, and I continued my struggle with knowing what I needed to be doing.

Finally, on New Years Eve, my muse purchased the book for me, and I immediately began reading. It was as if the book had been written for me (I’m sure most people feel that way upon first reading). I’m not going to try and explain the concept, I don’t think I could do it justice, but a brief overview is that it’s intended to get ALL the things that people generally keep in their head, be it work, home, or personal, and put them into a system that allows to track them. It also introduces the idea of breaking “projects”, that is, anything that has more than one step, into “next actions”. So instead of having a to do list with “landscape yard” item, you have a project, and then steps to accomplishing the task. The goal is to remove those from your head, those nagging, “I know I should be doing…” type things, and allow you to concentrate on the “doing”. This should alleviate the stress and anxiety from the daily routine. Sounds perfect.

The next step is to find a system that works for you. David Allen doesn’t necessarily have a specific system, just a concept. Many, many systems exist, some paper based, some electronic, some a mix. As I work completely on the computer now (crossing fingers that sticks), a computer based system seems most logical. So off I went looking for a system.

My first stop was a FireFox extension GTDGmail, which hacks into your gmail account, and provides for project creation, contexts (that is, “where” or “how” you do the task, @phone, @errands, etc). It was a good primer on the concept, and has helped in managing my many emails from clients. However, soon it became clear that wasn’t sufficient enough for me for the entirety of the GTD system.

I’ve looked at ideas for using BackPack, which I like, but ultimately, didn’t seem like the best solution for me. I’ve also looked at several of the wiki hacks, as well as the Kinkless system. Which, seems well done, but as it requires Omni Outliner Pro, I wasn’t ready to invest in more software. Apparently Omni Group is working on OmniFocus, a full fledged app implementing what Kinkless does with Omni Outliner, and worth keeping an eye on.

Which leads me to my final decision. Currently, I’m using Actiontastic, which is still in beta, and will be an app that will have to be purchased at some point. It integrates with quicksilver, so I can easily add items to my inbox without actually moving to the app (for instance, while typing this, if I remember I need to buy TP, I can easily send that to the app with a few keystrokes). I’ve also looked at Tracks, a Ruby on Rails application that can either be installed locally on my Mac, or hosted on my server. Hosting it on my server would give me the ability to access it from any computer, and though I haven’t explored it completely, I’m guessing now that I have internet access on my phone, I could add items from the phone’s browser (or at least via email/SMS). If you are interested in testing Tracks, you can visit a free hosted version at Tracks Train.

No matter which I choose, the bottom line is I need to now actually implement the system, so I can actually start “doing”, which is a caveat of sorts. It really is a matter of dedicating time to do it. It’s really not something that can be done in spurts, or half way. I think that is the real reason for blogging it, a challenge to myself to really get it in gear. I intend on blogging more about the process, as both a way to share, and a means of archiving the process for my own benefit, especially if a new, or better “system” comes along. I’ve all but decided to go with Actiontastic, so the next step will be to nail down the contexts for my system.

» Silver Mac

» Silver Mac a great Mac tips site, with several recent tips I didn’t know about. I really like the recent tip on using a dashboard widget on the desktop. As much as I like the idea of widgets, I rarely use them as it requires a few keystrokes. Perhaps if I learn how to use Quicksilver with them…

Super Cool Mac App

If all the other nifty things your mac does isn’t enough to impress your friends, then the next time you have a party and the music is pumping out of your computer to the stereo wirelessly via the airport express, have this little app running on the desk top, and tell your friends to go pick out an album.
Cover Flow takes your album art from itunes, and makes a virtual CD rack, where you can move from one album to the next looking at the cover, just like the old days :D. You can click on the album directly in the app, it launches in itunes, and you can can continue to scroll through the collection.

Hat tip to Macnewbie for the link

Favorite Mac freeware

A last minute entry into freemacware.com’s contest, listing your 5 most favored freeware apps. Their list is quite extensive, and I’ve found several apps I didn’t know about, but for the most part, these are the ones I use day in and day out. (I can’t say these are in any particular order)

  1. Cyberduck – a super great FTP client, that works hand in hand with several text editors and CSS Edit to allow editing files directly on the server
  2. Smultron – my text editor of choice. As noted, it works flawlessly with Cyberduck
  3. Growl – A sytem wide notification app, that works with numerous apps, including cyberduck to notify you when a file’s been up/down loaded, in itunes when a new song plays, can set up a gmail or mail notifier, and numerous other apps all with an unobtrusive faded in box in the upper right corner
  4. Adium – my IM app of choice. I don’t do IM with a lot of different people, however, I do a lot of work with people all of the world, so having AOL, yahoo and gtalk all in the same app makes it quite easy to connect with a client in their IM of choice
  5. VooDoo Pad lite – A fantastic note app, that works like a little wiki right on your desktop. I really love how I can make a table of contents type page, and then create “links” to new pages. I can really simply, and quickly organize a project this way. Also supports drag and drop functionality too, so I can drag an image to a page, a link generally anything. I’ve seriously thought about purchasing the “pro” version, or what ever they call it, simply because I use the app so much.

Some other apps I use/recommend are obviously firefox, as well as vienna and flickr export an iphoto plugin that allows quick and easy sharing of your photos via flickr.

If I’ve missed a great app, I’d love to know about it.

Letter to Apple Support (kottke.org)

Letter to Apple Support (kottke.org)
How often did I hear this lament during the short time I worked at Apple. “I just bought my iPod 5 weeks ago…Why didn’t you tell me that a new powerbook would be out 2 weeks after Christmas..” All of which you couldn’t tell customers, even though you were reading the rumor sites, and knew an update of some kind would be forthcoming, but company rules forbade you from discussing that with customers, because, after all, “they’re just rumors”. Occassionally, Apple will allow for a return if it’s within a time frame, and the customer can then pay the difference of the new product and the old.
But regarding Kottke’s dilemma, the macbook pro is taking orders starting today, but the question is when will it ship. He, like many others who found a powerbook on the shelf, or got one shipped, probably knew the intel laptops were on the horizon, whether or not they were going to be a “pro” level release first may not have been leaked, but by summer, most thought. Which is when I’m guessing most who don’t order this week will get their hands on the new machine anyway. So as I said, the question is, did they need the machine before, say, April? Or could they have squeaked out 6 more months to see what happens. And though I’m a firm believer in Apple’s products, I’m not unfamiliar with the chances that a bad egg can come down the pipe at anytime, and those who purchase the the macbook pro will be bitching they wished they had bought a G4 powerbook. So it’s a gamble, and Apple’s been fairly straightfoward with running out new machines or updates every 6 months. So chances are, by June there will be a macbook home with similar specs as today’s announcement, for $600 less. And on a side note, I’m guessing someone of Jason Kottke’s stature just might get their exchange.

And if not, Jason, we can talk when you’re ready to sell that g4 used….

When Things Are Going Good…

When things are going good, they are really good. I can’t say a bad thing about my life right now, looking forward to my classes, have a great paying job lined up that starts in a month, doing some cool stuff on the web, just over all good. So my printer went out. An Epson 5400 all-in-one. Bought it about 16 months ago for $130 after rebates. But we bought the 2 year warranty. So, I go to trade it in today, and obviously the 5400 is an older model. They’ve got the 6600. Ok, they credit me the $150, the 6600 is $189 after instant rebate. Eh, $39 isn’t bad. But wait. There are some mail in rebates. How much you ask. $110 worth!!! So, I pay $80 out of my pocket today, will get $110 back within 6 weeks, have a brand new printer, and a 2 year no questions asked warranty. Sweet!
Even without the trade in deal, you can get that printer for $79 through the 26th of August at CompUSA. Still not a bad deal.

“Blank” WordPress Theme

I’m offering up an updated, beta version here.

So, as I’ve begun designing WordPress themes, I found the tutorial over at Urban Giraffe invaluable. They walk you through the dissection of the default Kubrick theme, how to strip it down to bare bones, and start with a blank style sheet. Now that I’ve done that a couple of times, I decided it would be nice to have all the work done, and be able to have all the template files cleaned, as well as a style sheet with all the divs and classes there, simply without the style.
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