Archive for the 'hacks' Category

keyboard of doom

I love my Logitech Cordless MX keyboard, but 4 years of non-stop use means a fair amount of detritus lurking under the keys. As evidenced by picture below.

Here’s a bloody disgusting close-up if you’re so inclined.

So I called up this useful guide to cleaning your keyboard, and went to work.

Here’s 4 years of my dead skin cells, the occasional food crumb, and I’m sure not a few decomposed insect remains – forcibly removed by cotton buds.

Much cleaner now…

Here’s a gratuitous shot of the keys, which were a lot of fun popping out.

By the way, I’m actually cleaning it cos I’m selling my Logitech Cordless MX Duo (means it comes with an MX700 mouse with docking base station as well). Its a pretty good and very comfortable keyboard. And the MX700 is a damn kickass mouse, I know I’ll never settle for anything less than 8 mouse buttons from now on. Although the rechargable batteries that came with it are crap now, so you’ll have to get your own.

So if anyone’s interested, can drop me an email at bsideprojektatgmail.

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citebite

This is such a genius idea for citing references, especially when you’re using a quote buried deep in an article.

What you do is paste the selected text and source url into citebite and they’ll give you a generated link to the exact quote on the page. No need to trawl through whole wikis again!

Just for illustration, say you’re doing a report on Belgium and quoted this:

Antwerp’s total population is ca. 461,496.”

Only problem is if the company goes out of business, then all your links are dead? In any case, quite cool.

scrybe

I’ve been using a combination of Backpack and Google Calendar for my online organiser needs for a while now, though the combination leaves a little to be desired.

Backpack is fantastic, GCal is ok, but Scrybe looks to beat both hands down – except its a little on the fugly side. But the intuitive calendar zooms and offline sync features are pretty damn impressive. I’ll give it a try once its out.

Got this off Digg.

watch it for free

I may not be a football fan, but it still gives me a kick to point you football fanatics to this article at Wired.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, of course. GHacks.net, for one, offers a workaround using public proxies to fool the BBC into thinking you’re in the U.K. Caveat: Wired News didn’t test this, so if you try it you’re on your own.

Also it should be pointed out that FIFA frowns upon this sort of thing, but whether or not it is illegal here in the United States is a gray area.

Who needs RTM1?

freeware buffet

With copious amounts of free time comes the inescapable urge to do a bit of housecleaning… so of course, instinct tells me to clean up where I spend most of my time, namely my PC. The rest of my room will need a bit more time for the urge to build.
So my first order of business is to buy a new harddisk (Hitachi Deskstar 160GB), and so I went about doing a fresh install of Windows, along with mad partitioning and crapload of msconfig-ing (DIE, Help and Support Center, DIE!!!).

I’m a big supporter of open source software, even though I haven’t had the chance to give Linux a whirl, I have been using a fair amount of free software. Since I was doing a fresh install, I thought why not go the whole hog? Free myself from the shackles of expensive, bloated software!
Here’s a breakdown of what I’m using and where you can get it for yourself. Still working out the kinks on my new PC, but to be fair, I’m mostly getting crap from Windows XP and not the freeware.

Apps
Firefox
Nuff said.

Open Office
The obvious alternative to MS Office, I’m just starting out on it, so still not very familiar. There’s Writer (Word), Calc (Excel), Impress (Powerpoint) and Draw (MS Paint). I elected not to installMath (maths software) and Base (Access).
The word processor is dealing with my old Word documents with no problem right now, the spreadsheet software as well. I’ve not given it a real look but features are understandably more pared down as compared to MS Office but come on, you don’t use all the features in MS Word, do you?

GIMP
The Photoshop-killer right here, GIMP is the most popular freeware image editor. Again, I’ve only done a bit of cropping so far, and I’m not a regular Photoshopper by far, so it’s ok for my purposes. Therein’s the point innit? I’m a casual Photoshopper, so why should I have to shill out for pricey Adobe software? Layout’s a bit confusing, but then I’m used to Adobe Photoshop.

Foxit Reader
Lets raise another 2 fingers to Adobe! All my PDF reading needs are now taken care of.

Gaim
Multiple protocol IM client. Also very lightweight and no-frills. My alternative to the mess that is MSN Messenger. Supposed to work with Google Talk but doesn’t. Hence…

GoogleTalk
Yes, I know it’s been integrated with Gmail, but it’s all wonky when it’s from inside. Still my favourite IM client simply cause it looks soooo good.

Rainlendar
Dumb name aside, this is a useful desktop widget handling all my calendar duties. Can be synced to Outlook or iCal, both of which I don’t use. Very skinnable too, if you’d like.

Media
iTunes
I have an iPod nano. Again, nuff said.

VLC Player
The Swiss army knife of media players, this will play any media you throw at it. Ugly interface though.

Audacity
Though I’d like to, my crummy mic is not really up to recording music. I know a bit of audio engineering, and used Protools a fair bit earlier in my career, but I still like Audacity for it’s less-is-more philosophy. Nice little sound editor, I’ll play with the plug-ins when I can afford a real mic. Though I have used Audacity to record the phone interviews I’ve done for some magazines. How you ask? By sticking the mic between my mouth and the phone speaker. Damn ghetto, I know.

Flickr uploadr
Very nifty tool to upload chunks of photos to my flickr account. Simple, effective, and pretty too. I likes it.

CDex
I may download the occasional mp3, but I still love my CDs. Since I listen to all my music on my PC, CDex does all the heavylifting ripping work for me. It will rip anything. Suck my ass, DRM!

Utilities
Winrar
For all my zipping, unzipping needs. Bit more features than Winzip.

Ad Aware
ClamWin
Spybot – Search & Destroy
ZoneAlarm
That’s all my anti-spyware, anti-virus and firewall needs taken care by those 4. Norton Schmorton, I say!

Startup Inspector
Nifty app to edit your startup programs. Got consulting functions so you don’t screw up your machine too much. Cut down my load time considerably with this.

µTorrent
Unless you’re a total Luddite, you’d have heard of bittorrent by now. µTorrent is a very lightweight torrent download client. No install required! Can even bring around on your thumbdrive. Comes with RSS, which I’m still toying with…

GetRight
Download manager I use for all my non-torrent downloads. Integrated with my browser’s FlashGot extension, so can just suck those links down with a handy right-click on the context menu. Can setup to detect all the downloadable links on a site. Very useful for grabbing entire bootlegged concerts. Songbird has a cool feature like this, but I won’t be using it til there’s a more stable build released.

There’s still a fair bit of stuff out there that I’d like to try, but this is it for now. I’ll be doing another writeup of the online apps that I use as well, but in due time (read: when I can be arsed to do it).
In the meantime, here’s a screenshot of my sexy new desktop for good measure. Click on it to go to my flickr page to see it full-size.

desktop

hack attack! #1 – procrastination hack, ZohoWriter, Gmail filters

One of the purposes for this blog is also to document my implementation of GTD in my daily work and home life, so I’ve been reading up quite a bit on lifehacks – little tips and tracks to make life just that little bit easier.

After procrastinating for yonks, I decided to finally try out the procrastination (hah!) hack, or also handily called the (10+2)*5. Obviously for the time-wasters and wishy-washers like yours truly, who’d rather keep refreshing his Bloglines feeds then hunker down to actual work.

How it works is like so –
10 mins –
Do what work you have to do, you don’t have to complete it, just make progress, all you’re looking to do in the space of time is to get things out of the way.
2 mins –
Relax, do whatever you want. Take a pee break, stay at your machine and surf, check your illegal downloads… Here’s the thing, You HAVE to take the break. No working of any kind at all, uh uh.
times 5 –
Or rather, do this 4 more times, which means you’ll finish a full cycle in exactly 1 hour. Snap! You’ve just worked consistently for 50 minutes! Woot! I got like an adrenaline high for like the entire hour. Having my head focused on a task for sustained periods is quite the achievement, believe you me. Head over to 43folders for a better explanation if you can’t get past my over-exclamating.
Anyway, I got so high that I started other hacks! OK, I’m a big fan of Ajax applications; I use Gmail and Backpack religiously, I’m totally into Web 2.0 and browser-located applications.
I started transferring my notes to ZohoWriter, which is an Ajax online word processor, which pretty much has most of the basic Microsoft Word functions – bullets, indents, whatnot.

but it also has:

  • sharing (for collaborative editing)
  • importing of documents from your computer
  • exporting to doc, sxw or pdf!! (even Word can’t do this without a plug-in!)
  • emailing as doc, sxw or pdf
  • tagging (still a little buggy though, have to create every tag from scratch instead of picking from a cloud)
  • tables (also buggy, couldn’t edit once I created it)
  • auto-save with history and roll-back options
  • posting to blog, making public or doc roll (dunno what that last one is)

After I finished, I emailed the lot to myself, so I can print it all out at work tomorrow. Damn powerful for an online app lor. I’m gonna try working on this instead of Word for awhile and see how. If you want, there’s also Writely, which apparently is also quite cool.
So my adrenaline high lasts long enough that I go on to create a Gmail filter for my Zoho documents. I’m sure most of you have fiddled with them, but basically I’ve been using the filters to automatically label and archive incoming mail from specific addresses so I don’t clog up my inbox. Can’t remember where I got this hack from though.
Here’s what to do:

  • Just click create a filter (near the top of your Gmail page) and fill in the corresponding emails.
  • For example, I already get mail from WordPress whenever I get comments in my blog, so From is ‘zerotwoheroatgxxx.com’, and To is also ‘zerotwoheroatgxxx.com’
  • type in ‘comments’ in the Has the words box and click Next step.
  • check the boxes – Skip the Inbox and Apply the label (create your own, I just use ‘blog’)
  • click Update Filter and you’re done! No more clogging your inbox with mail and tag it all automatically!

Try it out, hope you find it as useful as I do.
I intend to post hacks more regularly, hopefully some original ones, so stay tuned to more hack attacks!!
(ok, last exclamation marks for the day)


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