My themes and WordPress 3.3 compatibility
December 13th, 2011 by ravi

So far it’s looking good. All three of my themes – Ahimsa, Audacity of Tanish and Rachel – seem to have no issues (at least new issues!) with WordPress 3.3, which was released yesterday.

Life with Gmail’s broken IMAP
June 12th, 2011 by ravi

It is I think by now well known that Google’s IMAP interface was an afterthought that was awkwardly grafted onto their splendidly useful label paradigm, and as a result promises chronic annoyances for those actually using it full-time. You could follow Google’s prescriptions for client configuration — here I will be talking about the OS X Mail app — to the dot, but find scant alleviation of your woes.
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My search for a tasks+notes app
March 29th, 2011 by ravi

I have been searching for an app that lets me quickly write notes that also double as tasks – and therefore could use a due date/time and reminder alarm. There is the built-in “todo” capability in OS X iCal, but not only does it sport a terrible UI, it is also dismal at syncing across computers (this feat can be accomplished, as far as I know, only by the hack of storing such Todos on an IMAP server). Below is a summary of my quirky search for such a tool. Quirky because the authors of these apps could justifiably object that their app is being unfairly evaluated here. For example, Day One is a journal application, not a note-taking app, much less a task manager. At the same time, there are candidates, like JustNotes, that have a reasonable claim to appear on any such list. But nevertheless, here they are:

  • MyTaskNotes: Mac notes and tasks app
  • Evernote: multi-platform note manager
  • Wunderlist: multi-platform task manager with sharing
  • Notificant: multi-system notification for Mac and web
  • Day One: daily journal app for Mac and iPhone
  • 2Do: an iPhone task manager with sync to OSX/Windows

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So, you finally switched to a Mac?
December 1st, 2010 by ravi

Apple has a couple of great pages (1, 2) for switchers. What they fail to tell you about are the great non-Apple apps that make the Mac experience a worthwhile switch. So, here they are (at least some of them):

All of them are free. One or two are ad-supported.

March 18th, 2010 by ravi

Merlin Mann and John Gruber have been, quite admirably, extolling the virtues of backing up your computer in recent blog posts. They remind you that it might be tedious, but it will be well worth it when your hard disk ultimately fails. Mann lays out his idea of “The Holy Trinity” when it comes to what backups are:

  • If it’s not automated, it’s not a real backup.
  • If it’s not redundant, it’s not a real backup.
  • If it’s not regularly rotated off-site, it’s not a real backup.

And then outlines a detailed plan of action that you should adopt, including information on the necessary hardware, setup and process.

This is all commendable stuff. But I worry that in trying to “scare you straight” when it comes to backups, Mann and Co might be erring on the side of making the perfect the enemy of the good. The anxious reader might do well to keep his prescriptions an attainable Holy Grail but proceed with the comfort that every step towards it is, in itself, a giant leap towards preventing data loss.

To that end, my own more pragmatic thoughts (based on my own guesstimation of the probabilities of events and their simultaneous occurrence) follow.

  • You do not have to start out by saving each latest bit on your computer. Lost a set of photographs you uploaded yesterday? It’s probably still on your camera memory. If not, you will still survive.
  • If you made a copy of your files elsewhere, that is a significant step towards a backup. As long as the copy is not on the same computer and you remember where it is! Off-site backups are a wonderful idea, but even a DVD lying next to the computer with a copy of important files is X% as good (where X > 50%).
  • Verify your backup. It doesn’t help if you have the most sophisticated scheme in place, fully automated, rotated, and archived off-site, if you have no way of ensuring it works. And the best way to ensure that: peek into it! Choose a few random files and try restoring them.

If you have read this far into the post, it suggests you find my advice worthwhile, and at the risk of abusing that notion, I offer three steps that will get you within swimming distance of the shoreline:

  • Switch to a Mac. I understand this may be an extreme step but unless you are deeply vested in your Windows PC, consider the switch. If not for any other reason, then for the next bullet item below.
  • Configure and use Time Machine. If you ignored recommendation 1 above, then find something for PCs or GNU/Linux that is the equivalent of Time Machine. A simple pragmatic truth of life is that you are less likely to do something if it is complicated. And arguably, there is no simpler way today to do backups than by using Time Machine.
  • Sign up for an online backup service. Mozy promises unlimited backups for $5/month. There are a few other providers of such a service: iDrive, Carbonite,

Do the above now. And then go read Mann and Gruber’s posts.

// Link: Yes. Another Backup Lecture. | 43 Folders

Slipcover for Mac OS
March 17th, 2010 by ravi

Slipcover is a free Mac OS X app that can be used to “create custom case icons for all your media files”. In other words, customise the icons of your files, typically media files. Its a slick app and provides means for creating custom “cases”. Worth a download.

MagicPrefs: The Magic Mouse Pref Pane that Apple forgot
January 4th, 2010 by ravi

If you recently got a Magic Mouse either because it came with your new Mac or because you got excited by the hype and bought one, only to find that the dratted thing is missing the third and fourth buttons which you had so cleverly bound to Expose and Spaces, there is good news. A free application calledMagicPrefs lets you not only add this functionality to the Magic Mouse but lets you define gestures and perform other kinky mods that should be worth a lot more than the millions that Apple paid to acquire Lala.

UPDATE: TUAW has a pointer to another free tool called BetterTouchTool.

Posterous: a critical look
November 13th, 2009 by ravi

It is difficult not to fall in love (insofar as such emotions have been called love) with Posterous, the fast-growing mini-blogging service, especially in comparison to its bigger competitor Tumblr. In contrast to the insider ethos that Tumblr (ironically, currently the larger service) actively embraces, Posterous eschews the superficially hip for the genuinely productive, when it comes to features.
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Sequel Pro now supports SSH
September 23rd, 2009 by ravi

Say you are not a PC. And you use MySQL in some manner that is compliant with the rules and ordinances of your community. And you are part of the dying breed that considers web GUIs nice and all, but a native client application is where it’s at. Then, the go to tool on the Mac for your MySQL interaction needs was CocoaMySQL. And if you thought the awesomeness of this tool could not be improved on, you didn’t reckon on SequelPro, the son of CocoaMySQL. And the hits keep on coming. The latest version (0.9.6) delivers on the SSH tunnelling capability that has always existed as a teaser in the UI. Did I already say awesome?

DropZone makes file transfers fun
August 27th, 2009 by ravi

Author's Choice Did I say file transfers? That’s an injustice because DropZone can do more than file transfers. It can zip and email files, install apps, upload pictures, post them to Twitter or Posterous (did I tell you about Posterous? well, that’s the next post), print stuff (though you really shouldn’t be killing trees in the 21st century), generate short URLs via … and all that for less cost ($10) than it took me to type up this list (what, you don’t think my time is worth $1/minute?).

And if you are capable of coding in Ruby, then DropZone provides a well-documented API using which you can write your own extensions. I plan to write one (though I am not a Ruby programmer) that uploads dropped files to a WordPress blog (using XML-RPC)… using the WordPress provided mechanism (XML-RPC) is useful because uploaded files (images) then show up in the built-in media manager (uploading such files via FTP, SCP, etc., will not have this effect).

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