Don Burnside

Recipes, technology, personal stuff and a crap load of archives.

Warning: Nerd Stuff!

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We can say I have had a month. A month, in this case, being the 30 days prior to this one, not a month like you see on your calendar. I know, it’s like the new math, but try to keep up.

Anyway.

I was tasked with replacing the ancient Windows Server 2003 (circa 2007) and Windows XP Filemaker Server (!) (circa 2006) earlier in the year. A single replacement sourced to replace 2 machines, easy peasy. Costs were told, ideas about buying new or refurbishes shot, budget was approved, and I went to work!

[A Team Theme here]

A series of calls to my friendly, neighborhood Dell server specialist to build a reasonably priced machine that could serve as both Active Directory (re: nerd stuff) and Filemaker (re: nerd database stuff) server. Done, done and done as the kids say. Now, in my server closet, quietly hums a very nice server with 16 cores of processing power, 16GB of RAM with a pair of 500GB drives (RAID 1, re: more nerd stuff). Fast and quiet, I’m happy. Continue reading “Warning: Nerd Stuff!”

Windows Backup Tips

I recently became a fan of Carbonite for backing things up. Sure, I have an external hard drive attached to my mac, but I wanted more. And since I’m a believer in the 3-2-1 backup system, Carbonite was a perfect fit. But, it is not without it’s faults.

First, the 3-2-1 backup, explained.

  • 3 copies of any and all important files (a primary plus 2 backups)
  • Stored on 2 different types of media (hard drive/dvd/internet)
  • 1 copy kept off-site

That means that with an external hard drive and a Carbonite account, you can fullfil all of those requirements easily and, more importantly, automatically. Win win. Bonus is the Carbonite restore process works as you would expect. Perfectly.

When I say perfectly, I mean it. It backs up **everything**, including any files that you might have on your machine that are infected with a virus or malware! As an added bonus, if you restore those files, you will also restore any virus that you had on your machine previously. Neat!

Here is a neat trick for your Windows users that will help almost elimate this problem. When you are setting up your backups, whether you are using an app, Windows backup or **any** online service, don’t use the default settings. When you do, many times you will be backing up application data and internet temporary files. In the case of a complete system restore, these are files that you don’t want anyway, since your applications won’t be the same and there is no reason at all to save temporary files of any kind. That’s why they are called temporary!

So, when setting up your backup, take a few minutes to actually specify the files you want. Don’t accept the default. For most users, all you need are the following folders.

**Windows XP**

  • Desktop
  • My Documents
  • Favorites

**Windows Vista/Windows 7**

  • Your User folder

Selecting just the important documents and files to backup will make your backup more efficient and faster. If you use programs like Quickbooks or any other proprietary software, it’s a good idea to also save the folder for that app located in c:\program files, just in case. And don’t forget those company files either!


Relocation is almost complete. While I won’t be doing any more onsite computer repair, I will still be taking your questions and answering them the best I can. You can do that at any time on my Facebook page or by using the contact form.

The Sunday Post #94

Recently I’m reminded that many of you have digital cameras. I also know from previous experience that, once you have taken the photos, you have no idea what to do with them.

Handle Your Photos

Just like our good friend John says above, your camera is not the best place to store your photos. I mean, why look at those old pictures on that tiny screen of your camera when you can upload them to your computer and view them on the screen or **easily** get them printed? Let’s jump right in!

This is going to be geared toward you Windows users among us. But many of things we are going to discuss, like getting prints made, will work for anyone.

The first thing you need to do is find a way to suck your photos off of your camera to your computer, keep them organized and be able to do some light processing on them (cropping, red eye removal, color adjustments). If you have anything installed on your PC now that contains the words Sony, Adobe, Kodak or Roxio along with the word(s) photo, picture or image, go into the control panel and uninstall them. While some people may like them, I find they are too complicated, move your photos to odd places on your hard drive and usually not terribly stable.

Done? Good! Now, go over to google.com/picasa and click the download button. Once downloaded, click run and let it install. **VERY IMPORTANT**. You will see 2 screens once Picasa is installed. One of them is to let it handle all of your images. Leave that one alone. The other will be asking you where you want Picasa to look for images. Unless you want to see every image on your computer (including those from your internet cache), I highly recommend selecting the Desktop and Documents option. Once that is done, Picasa will start building a database that contains all of the photos on your desktop and in your photo folder.

Easy right?

As soon as the database build is complete, plug your camera into your computer either by the supplied USB cable or by inserting the memory card into a slot on the front/side. Picasa should open automatically and ask to import those photos to your computer. Go ahead. Heck, you can even let it delete the photos when you are done. No, really, it’s ok.

Now that your photos are organized and easily accessible in Picasa, spend more than a few minutes poking around to see what it can do. Don’t worry about making changes to anything because Picasa, much like iPhoto on the Mac, does non-destructive edits. That means no matter what you do to a photo, you can always revert back to the original.

How about some prints to show those photos off to friends and family? This one is equally easy and there are more than a few ways to do it.

You can burn the photos you want prints of to a CD and take them to your local CostCo and they will happily print them for you. Good quality, fast turn around and not too expensive. You can also go to Walgreens.com, upload the photos you want printed and **pick them up at your local Walgreens Drug Store**. Again, good quality, fast turn around and not to expensive. Not to mention super duper easy!

The only thing left is backing those photos up! I’m gonna hammer on you about this until the end of time, you know that, right? I don’t care if you email yourself the most important documents and photos, get an external drive or sign-up for an account at Carbonite, just make it happen, ok?

Comments are open if you have any questions! Myself and the rest of the donburnside.com readers would **love** to help!

Happy 4th of July! Be safe and sane out there. If you can’t manage that, at least blow something up with enough explosives to leave a good sized divot in the backyard.

The Sunday Post #85

I’m a Tweetie user on my Mac. I’m also a cheap skate, so I use the free version, which shows the occasional advertisement. And, so far, some of them have been helpful.

Found on Twitter

First up in my find isn’t so much an app as it is a browser bookmarklet called Readability. I didn’t find this one as an add, but from following a link in a tweet in someone I follow (apologies if this was you, it’s been a while so I do not remember). Readability is by far the handiest thing I’ve used in quite some time.

Imagine if you will, going to a website like, oh, I don’t know, this one.

That is the Droid review at PCWorld.com as viewed in Google Chrome on my Mac. What a mess, until you click on the Readability bookmarklet. Instead of that mess up there, you instead get this wonderful page to read.

Wonderful. No ads, no cruft, just the story I want to read in large type with wide margins. You can customize the experience in many ways and it only takes a few minutes to setup. Oh yea, and it’s free. You really need to try this out.

The app that I found via an advertisement in Tweetie is a brilliant interface to Gmail called MailPlane. Yes, it is a desktop app to access a web based app. But it makes using Gmail so much better! I’m not sure if any of you have tried Fluid with Gmail, but it is very similiar to that experience.

With MailPlane you get drag and drop support, multiple account support that makes switching between accounts a snap, Growl support for messages and the ability to easily make it your default mail client. I’ve been using this for almost a month on the free trial and can tell you that I will be handing over my $24.95 happily next week. I’ve been looking for something exactly like this for quite a while now and am very pleased with how it works, especially when comparing to only using Gmail in a browser.

Sadly, MailPlane is Mac only. If you are a Gmail user and a Mac user, you should take the time to download this and check it out. The first 30 days are free, so why not.

If I were to go back and modified my top 5 mac applications, these 2 would definitely make the cut. If you try them out, I’m sure the rest of the class would be interested in what you thought about them. Comment below with your thoughts or opinions.

Why I hate Safari

That’s right, I said it. I hate Safari.

Gasp! Boo! Hiss! Go on, get it out of your system.

There are many things that this brilliant iMac sitting on my desk does that I absolutely adore. There are many apps that I run on a daily or almost daily basis that I also think are quite keen. Keen enough to remember their name so I can fire them up in QuickSilver or that they have earned a place in the all mighty dock.

Safari is not one of them.

It’s not the way Safari looks, because it is a good looking app. And, it’s not because of how it displays websites. It is the way Safari works with a few websites, sometimes, stability and how tabs work.

In Firefox (all versions, all operating systems) and Internet Explorer v7 & v8 and Google Chrome (and, quite possibly Opera, although I never use that) you can close a tab 2 different ways using the mouse. You can either click on the ‘X’ (which, on all of these browsers is on the right, Safari is on the left) or you can press the middle/scroll wheel of your mouse anywhere on the tab. That might sound niggling, but it really slows me down. Having the use the CMD key with a mouse click has never worked for me. I’m either using a keyboard shortcut or the mouse, not both.

Then there is stability. I have recently discovered that by not keeping my cache and history tidy and neat, Safari does nothing more than crash while trying to start. Not only does it crash repeatedly when trying to start, it will sometimes crash altogether with the only fix being a complete system restart. And, since there isn’t an internet options in System Preferences (like Windows), there is no way that I’m aware of to correct it. In all of the other browsers, having a messy cache or lots of history just slows things down a bit.

Another minor thing is the lack of a status bar by default. I **always** check where links go in the status bar, and not having it seriously annoys me. I shouldn’t have to do a google search to find how to turn this on. Sure, it’s a hold over from my Windows days, but better safe than sorry, right?

And, finally, there is Gmail. And also, there isn’t Gmail. But, it is. Gmail is my email application. While I don’t live in there all the time, it is what I use to send and receive email (since replaced by Mailplane, more on that later). And with Safari (or Webkit, but not Chrome oddly enough) it just acts weird. And, only sometimes.

For example, on occasion when replying to an email, I click reply and start typing. Normally, the text just shows up in the email box like it is supposed to. Sometimes, and again, only with Safari, the reply window fails to grab focus, so when I start typing, the Gmail keyboard shortcuts kick in and do everything from deleting the message entirely to opening my task window. The annoying part is that it is hit or miss. If it did this consistently, I could work around it. But that’s the problem. It only seems to happen when Safari is having a bad day.

For the record, I have been using Google Chrome since it was released for the Mac and, at least for me, it’s been fantastic. It’s been my default browser for more than a month and so far so good. On occasion I do have to duck into Firefox for something specific or to use an extension, but for daily browsing, Chrome is it for me. Bonus it’s fast. Fastest on my Mac by a long shot.

Comments are open. Go ahead, do your best!