Category Archives: General

My Geekbox

So, the new Advanced Operators topic is up, and it’s asking “What’s in your toolbox?”

It’s become immediately obvious that “tool” is defined differently by different people, so I’m going to take an approach of “whatever I can remember that I use.”


I use a 24″ iMac with a second, 20″-monitor at work. It’s a pretty unbeatable setup and I love it. I’ve got my browser (Firefox) or Photoshop or TextMate on my main screen; and 3 finder windows (open to different projects or mounted drives), Adium (instant message), and email open on my second monitor.

At home I use a 15″ MacBook Pro and an iPhone.

I usually have a Nalgene of water by my desk, a cup of coffee, as well as a flask of a little something-something there as well. That and some almonds.


Notes: Journler is a great tool for writing, keeping and sorting notes. It’s free, has tags, categories, fantastic searching, smart folders and can post to blogs also. I put everything in here and know I can find it in a second if I need it again.

Coding: If I code, I use TextMate. It’s just got everything I want (except for built in FTP support). I can use key-commands until my brain hurts, and it’s fast as hell. I love it. I’ve tried Coda, and it’s awesome, but it just doesn’t solve the problems I needed solved in a way that made up for it being an underpowered text editor. Sorry. You’re pretty and smart, but I’m sticking with my guns.

Connections: Gotta be Gmail for your domain (my email is powered by Gmail), and Google Reader. Again, the keyboard commands had me at “open in a new window”; as well as I don’t have to sync it between machines. And now that it’s got search, I will probably never leave.

Posting: I’m using SrybeFire right now to write this post. It’s a great Firefox plugin that lets me post to all my blogs from within the window. It’s not perfect with photos, but for text entries, it’s money. All my blogs run on WordPress.

Launching: Gotta have Quicksilver. When I sit down at a machine that doesn’t have it I feel like I’m only using one arm.

Folders: Default Folder X is a great little tool when you’ve got files all over the place. You use it in conjunction with your open/save dialog boxes to quickly jump to folders all over your system. It’s hard to explain but easy to use.

Instant Messaging
: Already mentioned Adium.

Torrents: Transmission is the amazing. Fast, powerful, lightweight.

Production: Adobe CS3 Master Suite. Way more than I need, but everything just in case.

Color: Color Schemer Studio. Great way to grab color from anywhere on the screen. I use it constantly when designing or coding from someone else’s design.

Video: I use Handbrake and iSquint to get movies ripped and onto my iPhone or my XBMC on my modded Xbox for watching movies on my network.

Wireframing: I recently used Pages to wireframe, and I have to say, it works better than OmniGraffle in my opinion. Elegant looking wireframes out of the box and now super easy to make in Pages 08.

FTP: Transmit and Yummy, depending on if I’m at home or work.

Dashboard: Dashalytics for easy access to my web stats and two instances of a Flickr widget that shows me a photo of a kitten and a mountain biker (one of each) every time I hit F12. I love me some kittens.

Shopping: I visit this all day long. It’s bad news for my wallet.

Firefox Plugins: Alexa Sparky (so I can see how important a site is), Bookmarks (nothing beats the Firefox integration.), Firebug and Web Developers (yeah yeah, impossible to work without them), Greasemonkey, Measureit (allows you to tape measure your Firefox browser so you can see the dimensions of things quickly), OpenBook (bookmarks tool), ScribeFire, StumbleUpon (all my sites gotta get a thumbs up), SEO for Firefox, Stylish (Google Reader is ugly, this makes it Purty). I also use the GrApple (Eos Pro) theme for Firefox so it matches my Mac.

Hope this helps ya’ll.

Is social the new search?

Personally, I believe that search is going to be broken up in the future, as I see it already starting to happen. For a while, Google was god, and you went there for everything, but not anymore. If I’m looking for a torrent, I go to a torrent search engine. If I’m looking for something I know is on Wikipedia, I just go straight to the Wikipedia page. If it’s something I’ve read before, I do a search in my feed reader.

Do I think Google will become obsolete? Absolutely not. They will continue to be the starting point for most people for most things. However, as we get better at searching, as our options improve, I think Google will cease to become the one-stop-shop for all your searching needs. Maholo, Facebook… I’m sure they’ll play a role, as I think the abilities of the masses will definitely begin to shape the search arena. But for that random shit, the obscure, the uber:niche, I think will continue to be served best by robots.

Just my opinion.

To check out other people’s opinions, check out Advanced Operators as a bunches of other people discuss whether or not Social is the new Search.

Running Coherence on Parallels

I finally got around to setting up Parallels and installling XP so I can more easily test sites in IE6 and IE7. However, the one feature I was most excited about was coherence. Now, setting up Parallels and getting a virtual machine set up couldn’t have been more easy, but out of the box, coherence wouldn’t work. The button was there, but nothing happened when I clicked it.

So, I googled it, and came across this page. It had just what I needed. It turns out, you have to manually install Parallels Tools (you actually begin this process on your mac, then make it happen within your virtual machine.)

Once I did this, I was running in coherence mode immediately, and it was all better. (by the way, coherence mode allows you to not have to run your virtual machine confined to a window. It places the Windows Start bar at the bottom of your browser, and you just launch apps just as if they were made to run in Mac OS X, it’s amazing, and I love it.)

Wufoo – Hosted Form Service


I’ll be the first to admit that this free script solution isn’t the most full-featured form builder I’ve ever seen, but it is very simple and handy for it’s intended purpose. Sometimes however, you need a little more muscle. Wufoo is just such a muscle. It’s a great, hosted service that lets you manage and control forms without any programming knowledge or time commitment. After you create an account, you can then create and manage as many unique forms as you want; contact forms, questionnaires, event sign-ups, etc). All of it is done via wysiwyg editors and simple wizards. It then gives you the code to put into your site and viola, instant database driven forms. You can then log back into Wufoo and view, sort, export the results of your form at any time. It has a very simple free plan, but for bigger needs, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan, but the price you pay is much cheaper than paying a programmer to build it by hand, especially if you need to administrate the results of the form. In the end though, the prices are very reasonable.


Available on All Plans

* Built in Validation and Error Checking
* Ability to Style the Look of your Forms
* Subscribe to Entries via email or RSS
* Custom Confirmation Messages
* Easy integration into Your Web Site or Blog

Available on Paid Plans

* Access to Customer Support
* Upload Files with your Form
* No Advertisements on Confirmation Page
* Redirect to a Custom Confirmation URL
* Password Protection on Forms and Reports

Using Textile

I find Textile somewhat frustrating. I’m not really sure it’s better than HTML, because I have to learn so many random codes now. While it may be simpler than HTML, I’m not really sure it’s any easier to learn, especially since HTML actually uses tags that make sense semantically. For instance <strong> makes sense to me. I don’t have trouble remembering that. *strong* seems faster, but only once I’ve memorized it.

Anyway, I have to use it often, so here is my list of resources:

Textile Resources:
This site will take standard text, or textile input and output it as HTML. This lets you play with textile and dial in exactly how your site will look. This is great if you know HTML and are trying to learn textile for wikis or other CMS that requires textile input.
This is just a big list of tags ordered logically, with their HTML equivalent and a preview of how it would render.