Posts filed under productivity

How to tackle small, time-based todos and never forget them again

Recently I stumbled upon a new new app for todos (I am not sure anymore, where I found it, but I guess it was from Belle Beth Cooper. She does some interesting blogposts on managing your life with tools and apps). 

 

Due App - Oh nooo... another todo app?

Well, that were my initial thoughts as well. But this app focuses on a specific type of todos:

  • those that are very lightweight
  • those that don't take a lot of time
  • those that need to be done soon (like today, tomorrow)

 

For the longer-living, heavier todos, I have my Wunderlist (where I can put notes to my todos, group them in lists, share these lists etc etc)

 

You can enter new todos pretty fast with a intuitive user interface that lets you specify the due time in a flexible way with very few taps.

 

 

It's fast to use ... and it really gets on your nerves (in a good way!)

And this app is getting really annoying when the time comes - it fills your notifications quickly (configurable of course) :)

 

But actually thats what you asked the app to do - remind you! ;) You can't really overlook this repeated notifications on your lock screen and need to do something about it:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You either mark it as "done" which would be lying of course) or quickly delay it directly in the lock screen (without opening the app):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Due is intelligent

You can configure all kinds of settings, it reacts naturally on todos like "go running tomorrow 07:30", is timezone aware and many other features.

 

Verdict

With a reasonable price of around 5€  it does what it promises and I love using the app - in addition to my other todo apps (like Wunderlist). The creators found an interesting niche in this crowded app-space and delivered a very polished, usable and beautiful app. I strongly recommend to check it out.

 

Posted on August 20, 2015 and filed under productivity.

How to update metadata of a link in Facebook postings

It sometimes happens, that you want to post something in Facebook with a URL in it and Facebook automatically fetches a preview-pic and some data. When this information is stale (or you suddenly want to update it), there is a cool way to force Facebook to refresh its cache:

 

https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/og/object/

As you can see, it shows exactly what was fetched, when and also offers a "Fetch new scrape information" - sweet!

 

 

Posted on August 13, 2015 and filed under development, productivity, social networks.

First steps with the tool "Synergy"

I have a MacBook Pro for all my programs and tools - except development. For this, I have a midi tower with an i7 that can easily run many instances of Visual Studio and some VMs. 

Since RDPing to this machine for development is (even on my local network) a bit laggy, I decided to give the tool "Synergy" a try. Its like Mouse Without Borders - but with the advantage of working cross-operating system. It used to be free - but with 10$ also not expensive. The alternative (share-mouse.com) is much easier to configure, but with 49$ also 5 times more expensive. 

 

Installation and Configuration

For the OS X part - which acts as a server - drop it to the Applications and configure the server. First: configure the Screens:

 In the center is my MacBook Pro and right of it is the Windows machine. 

In the center is my MacBook Pro and right of it is the Windows machine. 

This is the way of configuring Clients (machines). E.g. my MacBook Pro has its own screen and the Cinema Display but is shown as one, since its about computers, not screens. If you do not do this, your mouse is still trapped inside your host machine :)

For the Windows part, just install the MSI, configure the tool as "Client" and point it to the correct server (in my case the OS X machine). There is not much more you can configure (except Encryption). Also, make sure you autostart this program. 

 

Issues and how they can be solved

0. Unrecognised client name "machinename", check server config

You need to configure all allowed clients aka Screens - see above.

1. Client is connected but mouse is still trapped on server screen

In my case, I didn't had any client configured. First, you need to define "Screens" at the server config (see above).

2. Client can't connect to server

Check, if you can reach the server, if a firewall is blocking the required port or if you have different settings for Encryption on Client and Server.

3. Mouse clicks wont bring windows to front

This happened to me at the Windows machine and was the result of the Hot-fix KB3013455 of Microsoft (see this huge discussion on the Synergy forum). But uninstalling is not an option for me. 

What worked for me was two things:

  • install the latest nightly build (in my case that was a nightly build of synergy-1.7.1-master). See the current nightly built list here. But I expect that this code will be in some stable version soon (at first, i accidentally downloaded the 32-bit client, which was NOT helping. I have a 64-bit Windows, and the 64-bit client now works)
  • open "services.msc", look for the "Synergy" service, go to the "Log On" Tab and enable "Allow service to interact with desktop"

After this, restart Synergy on the Client AND on the Server. 

4. Send ctrl-alt-del to the Windows machine

This one is still open. For logging in, I still need a local keyboard. The usual ctrl-alt-fn-del does not work in this case :( The only way I have found that works is the on-screen-keyboard and pressing ctrl-alt-del there... UGLY! One more thing: for me, it works only when I press alt gr-ctrl-del, not the alt-key.

5. Laggy mouse when UAC comes into play

When you need to click that "Yes" button of the UAC, the mouse position is resetted to the center of the host and you need to move it back to the client. Also, after you have left the UAC the same happens again ... and it always takes around 2 seconds until you can move the mouse to the client screen. ARGH.

 

Windows only?

If you are in a pure Microsoft environment, you can also give Mouse Without Borders from the Microsoft Garage a try. 

Posted on March 17, 2015 and filed under development, productivity.

I am giving away most of my IT books - the hand-over

During the last two weeks I was having a cold - two times :) This brought some delay to my "I am giving away most of my IT books". But finally I start to organise the meet-ups where I will hand over the books!

So if you have entered your name/email to one or more of the books, expect an email in your inbox :) 

Thanks again for taking part and showing interest so the books can get a new home. I am looking forward to the hand-overs!

Posted on November 28, 2014 and filed under development, productivity, social networks.

I am giving away most of my IT books

In the last years, I have gathered quite some books on various IT/development topics. And since my space in my workroom is limited, I give away for free most of my IT books - I keep some classics though ;)

 

You can find the list of books and how it works here (described in german):

https://docs.google.com/document/d/19C-cArTktF703e1VVEJYJTl4a9TLgLHpQOgmZeAoaWc/edit

 

Check them out and save your's!

 

PS: the reason?

  • I need more space!
  • I switched from learning more online/with PDFs
  • I use only general overview books and for specialised knowledge i rely on google, pluralsight etc
  • I switched to buy more photography coffee-table books ;)
Posted on October 20, 2014 and filed under development, productivity, social networks.

OS X Yosemite beta 3 graphic crashes

UPDATE 16.Oct 2014: With the new Yosemite Beta Version 6 this bug is gone it seems. The screen goes to black from time to time though for 1-2 secs but recovers without me doing anything. I still have to install the final Yosemite bits...

UPDATE 20.Nov 2014: I guess, this had nothing to do with Yosemite. Also Beta Version 6 crashed later and it kept coming more often each day. Since I am still in my 3-year warranty (though only 2 months left) I sent it in for repair and since then (10 days) I have not had any crash so far.

 

This bug is - by far - the most annoying one of Yosemite (I still hope, it is actually Yosemite and not my hardware ... right now this is difficult to distinguish) My current setup is a MacBook Pro 15", Late 2011 and a Thunderbolt 27" Monitor.

 

Whats the problem?

Every 2-4 hours (it seems to be connected to the running programs) I get nasty graphics issues (horizontal and vertical lines, sometimes in green/blue etc) that make my OS X unusable. A couple of seconds later the whole machine crashes (monitor goes grey and thats it)...

 

How I "fixed" it 

One thing I found that "helps" is to reset the graphics like this: open or close the laptop lid (sometimes do both). If you are fast enough, this resets the graphics and you can continue working without a crash.

 

I really hope, Apple is fixing this - and thats it not my hardware ;)

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under productivity.

The day my NAS (almost) died...

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 12.09.35.png

Last week was a bit uneasy for me - my NAS was dark after I accidentally flipped the switch on my power distribution device. When I flipped the switch back I got a nice flash and everything in my room was without power ...

 

I managed to get everything on again - except my NAS (Qnap TS-419 P II). After some research I ordered a new power adaptor (70€!) in the hope, it was only the power adaptor unit. And I was lucky: my NAS is up and running again. So much for: its very unrealistic that the whole NAS is failing...

 

Until then, I thought, i had a good (enough) backup strategy - it looked like this:

1. backup my macbook pro (my only computer) completely via Time Machine to the NAS

2. backup my macbook pro completely via Carbon Copy Cloner to an external disc

3. backup my photos (3.5TB) to external discs (additionally to the NAS)

4. backup my really important stuff (documents, licenses, my stuff being self employed etc) to the amazon cloud (additionally to the NAS)

 

So whats the status after such an issue (NAS downtime 1 week): 

  1. since i use Yosemite beta versions, I don't have Carbon Copy Cloner running (since its not finished for Yosemite yet) - FAIL. Not a big deal, I have Time Machine...
  2. Time Machine does not run, since there is no NAS - FAIL.
  3.  the photo backup is not automated and I was missing the last shootings on the external HDs - fail
  4. the really important stuff was backed up to Amazon S3, but what about the "not really, but also important"-stuff? - FAIL.
  5. Also, the Amazon S3 backup was triggered by the NAS. So I could not update/backup to the cloud during the NAS downtime - FAIL

 

What next?

Currently I am evaluating more automated cloud backup solutions (like CrashPlan, Zoolz and the like) that also backup to local drives/discs/sd cards automatically. 

This way, I then have realised the 3-2-1 rule:

  • 3 copies (NAS, external hard-drive, cloud)
  • 2 different media: hard disks, cloud)
  • 1 offsite backup (cloud and the older photos are on HDs at my parents house)

Ah, and I backup my exchange emails.

Posted on September 23, 2014 and filed under productivity.

How to make proper OS X (yosemite) screenshots

For my blogposts I often need screenshots with the following requirements:

  • use Yosemite (right now I have beta3 installed)
  • include the shadow of the main window
  • have menus oder drop-downs open

 

These requirements - except the last! - can be fulfilled by the standard on-board screenshot capabilities of OS X (e.g. described here). 

 

So far, I have not found a tool, that can help me here - there are tools (e.g. Voila) that can screenshot the menu (only the menu) but then you have issues in stitching this together with another "background"-screenshot, because selected windows have other background colours etc.

Dear reader: this workflow is pretty time-consuming - please leave a note if you know a tool that can do proper screenshots or know a way, how to make this faster - thank you!

 

 

My workflow for flawless screenshots

Here is my workflow that gives flawless screenshots - although its a bit of work:

1. open a clean white background (e.g. textedit)

2. get your app in front that you want to screenshot

3. SHIFT-COMMAND-4 and find out the X, Y coordinates as well as hight and width of the window you want to screenshot (they are depicted in your cursor) - remember them

4. open a terminal window and make a screenshot with the following command line:

screencapture -T 10 -P -R551,325,1095,647 screenshot.png

 

  • -T 10 means you have 10 seconds time to "prepare" your app (open a menu etc)
  • -R means the region that should be captured the coordinates <x,y,w,h> are the ones you found out before
  • -P means that it will open in preview so you can check the output

Save this one as PNG.

5. make another screenshot from the whole window that includes the shadow with SHIFT-COMMAND-4 and SPACE. This is only needed if you want the shadow in the screenshot. Make sure, your app has the focus before, otherwise the shadow and the background colours will look differently.

6. Open both screenshots in Photoshop or a similar tool that supports layers and align the image with the expanded menu over the one with the border:

The one with the menu will have a small 1px gray border - so its 2px bigger in width and height.

Save as PNG and you are done:

Finetuning 1: Get nice round corners

Now, if you look closely you see that the corners are rounded and the screenshot with the commandline and the white from the TextEdit background is visible:

 I marked the pixels in question in red so you can see ;)

I marked the pixels in question in red so you can see ;)

To get rid of this:

  1. Select Layer 0 (which is the screenshot with the shadow)
  2. COMMAND-click on it - you have selected the content of the layer now
  3. SHIFT-COMMAND-I (for inverting the selection)
  4. Select the Layer 1 (which is the one with the menus)
  5. Press "delete" to delete all content (which is in our case the white corners)

 

 

Finetuning 2: Using the WindowID instead of the -Rx,y,w,h

Another tip, that makes life a bit easier is that you can use the WindowID of the window instead of the rectangle-values. For this, you can download the small tool GetWindowID from GitHub, extract it, call "make" in a command window in the directory and you can get the WindowID when called with:

 

screencapture -l$(./GetWindowID "<program>" "<window>") screenshot.png

 

Note: This might require you to install the developer tools - which are free and its done in 2 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on September 19, 2014 and filed under productivity.

How to change the worst time-wasting habits

Wasting time... (though this song rocks!)

I am always searching for other/new ways to stop myself of wasting time, surfing the internet for hours or watching videos. Don't get me wrong: these are not fully a waste of time, but often its not really with a target in mind and thus its more or less random...

 

I found a nice article from Belle Cooper from exist.io which contains 3 tips on how she changed the three worst time-wasting habits.

 

I will not give away the three tips so you have to read the article for yourself. But believe me: It's tips you probably have not heard or considered before. At least I have not and I will give it a try.

 

 

Posted on September 9, 2014 and filed under productivity.

OS X Yosemite beta 2 is pretty slow when switching applications

After updating to Beta 2 of Yosemite beta (which is "recommended for all users" they say) I got a nasty behaviour: Switching between applications got REALLY slow ... I had to wait 4-5 seconds looking at the nice color wheel ... unacceptable...

 

Rebooting and not starting any applications also didn't help. I started to look what is already running in my menu-bar and ... I found Parallels Access running and uninstalled it - and after a reboot everything is smooth now.

 

Not sure, if this was the real cause but in my case it helped - and I can enjoy Yosemite now even more :)

Posted on August 25, 2014 and filed under productivity, Testing.