Memory Cards are More Convenient than Flash Drives

Yesterday, my trusty 128MB USB Flash keychain drive gave up the ghost. Dead. Unrecognized by any machine. I originally picked it up a couple years ago to transfer a large number of files too big for email, yet passed back and forth too frequently for the slow mount/unmount of the iPod.

It’s served me well.

After the moment of mourning, I still had this problem of 30MB of files needing moved from that machine to this machine.

For whatever lame reason, the Powerbook isn’t aware of the SD/MMC card in the Treo. So, when I picked up the card, I also picked up a USB Memory Card reader from OfficeMax.

After I tossed the Flash drive, I popped the memory card out of the Treo – into the Reader, plugged the reader into that machine and grabbed the files.

I love when technology works. Oddly, this solution feels more flexible, more secure, and more portable than the keychain drive. I’m sure that’s because around the house, almost every device has a SD/MMC slot (cameras, Palms, Rios) – and only the computers have USB ports.

Lori’s 17-inch Laptop Diaper Bag Coolest Messenger Bag Yet

If you follow the First Crack Podcast, you know I have a couple of laptop bags, both with their strengths and weaknesses. Neither bag is perfect, and there aren’t that many bags available for a 17″ Powerbook.

This summer, Jen and I were on a similar quest for a stylish diaper bag. Best we could find was the Skip Hop Duo.

That was until last night when good friend and information architect Lori Baker presented us with this fantastic Laptop bag / diaper bag combo – that she made from scratch. Yeah, I know. My jaw dropped too.

A couple inches shorter than the Targus, it’s got a wide padded strap like the Timbuk2, 2 separate compartments (1 for baby, 1 for laptop), bottle pocket on the side, and pockets, pockets, and more pockets.

Oh, and the best part – Not Sold in Stores.

Thanks Lori.

Treo Replaces iPod for Brush Clearing Listening

Finally had a few moments to clear out the tree damage we had from the late summer thunderstorm I mention eariler.

About halfway through, the battery in my 40gb iPod started flaking out – as it’s so prone to do. With the battery only reliable when it’s plugged in, the usefulness of the iPod is seriously hampered.

Still needing some audio entertainment, I loaded up my Treo 650‘s 1GB SD card with a handful of podcasts and some Brad Sucks and headed back out.

Adding stuff to the SD card was a more manual process and the audio quality isn’t as good as the iPod – but it didn’t die every 5 minutes. Grumble grumble.

Mapquest Drives Faster than Google

Looking for the best route for the first leg next week’s roadtrip (Minneapolis to Rapid City), Jen and I checked out MapQuest and Google Maps and found something very interesting:

MapQuest drives across South Dakota at 71 mph
mapquest mn to sd 609 miles, 8 hrs 37 min

Google has the cruise control set at 61 mph
mapquest mn to sd 614 miles, 10 hrs 3 min

Setting up a Web Development Environment in Tiger

This message means the upgrade is complete.

Last week I started the upgrade Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” around the house. To my pleasant surprise, it went extremely smoothly. The most tedious and frustrating part was waiting for my newly enclosed external hard drive to copy tens of gigs of files back and forth for 2 machines.

The upgrade was an excellent opportunity to clean house and back up. Something my Powerbook was sorely in need of. After the install, the ease of copying my Home directory and a handful of required applications (NetNewsWire, Transmit, VooDooPad, BluePhoneElite, Skype, SubEthaEdit, Quicksilver) back to the laptop meant I was 85% back to normal almost immediately.

The tough part was getting the web development playground set up; I’ve still got a week left in the 21 days of Ruby, and I’m lost without a local install of PHP.

After un-commenting the PHP modules in Tiger’s default Apache install and setting the permissions on the items within the /WebServer/Documents directory to 666, PHP was working as expected.

After that, Ruby, Rails, and MySQL. For this, I highly recommend TextDrive’s About “Setting up a development environment on my Mac”. It walked me through everything and like everything at TextDrive – straight-forward and friendly. As of this writing, some of the items are specific to 10.3 “Panther” and I was able to skip over those with no consequence. Without it, I’d still be googling for a good tutorial on setting everything up. Now, I’m ready to rebuild my seemingly broken WishRSS.

Your Attention.xml Please

If you haven’t heard me proclaim, “RSS killed the visual web designer”, now you have.

Quickly stated, RSS is a structured format for distributing text, audio (podcasting), video (vlogging), even applications in a convenient and anonymous way.

For the publisher, RSS means the timeliness of email without the worry about spam filtering. For the reader, RSS means the convenience of email with the anonymity of a web page.

The downside is metrics.

Measuring behavior on websites is always nebulous. Robots, routers, giant ISPs can all throw off numbers. For publishers RSS doesn’t really help this problem. For readers, there’s a slightly different problem – once you’ve aggregated your 200 favorite websites into a single place, what do you pay attention to.

Cody and I have been talking about Attention.xml solving the both problems.

I’m interested in how Attention.xml can tighten the publisher-reader relationship and help readers share what’s interesting to them with friends. While also giving Cody and I better numbers on our respective podcasts.

More thoughts and prototypes on this later.

The Elmer’s Glue of Home Improvement

This weekend, Jen’s parents came by to help us finish some projects around the house. The projects we’ve procrastinated for a year now and just needed a dedicated time to complete.

The list included:

  • Install crown molding in the bedroom
  • Repair and paint walls in the hall closet
  • Repair and paint walls in the hallway to the upstairs
  • Make a plan for the landscaping the yard

The work went surprisingly quick. I attribute the speed to liberal use of the Loctite Power Grab construction adhesive Jen’s parents with them and her dad being an expert crown molder.

Power Grab is like Elmer’s glue for weekend warriors. We smeared it on the wall, massaged the molding into place, then started nailing. Sure beats holding a 13-foot board above your head while someone’s wailing on it with a hammer.

At some point I’m sure it’ll come in handy for landscaping – just not this weekend.

How to Set Up a Linksys Router with Mac OS X

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“INSERT CD FIRST”, screamed the sticker on the back of the Linksys wrt54g router.

A decade with Macintoshes has taught me the suggestions are normally for Windows machines. The router was persistent – and the sticker was blocking the power port – so, I thought I’d humor it. I was right. The CD shipping was filled with setup software for Windows. Nothing about how to setup from a Macintosh. Anywhere.

Everyone at Amazon said I’d be up and running in seconds. The Linksys site barely acknowledges Macintoshes exist.

Here’s the steps I took to setup a Linksys Router with Mac OS X

  1. Peel off the sticker on the back of the router.
  2. Plug in the router’s power cord.
  3. Connect the router to your modem via the supplied Ethernet cord and the port marked ‘Internet’.
  4. Connect the router to your Mac via Ethernet.
  5. Open up the ‘Network’ panel in the Mac’s System Preferences and plug-in the following specs:

    IP Address: 192.168.1.5
    Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0
    Router: 192.168.1.1

  6. After applying the settings, open a browser to http://192.168.1.1 using the password 'admin'

Now you’re in the router’s control panel. Enter all your ISP’s settings and name your new wireless network something other than ‘linksys’.

Now you’ll finally be able to program from the gazebo in your backyard.

WishRSS Now Offers Buy for List Owner

I’m extremely pleased to announce an update to WishRSS. You can now purchase items from your friend’s WishList and for them, just click the “Purchase for WishList Owner” link in the list’s webpage or in the RSS feed. Of course, if you’d rather purchase it for yourself, there’s the “Purchase for Yourself” link.

Enjoy. WishRSS.