My own personal brain cache

When I’m programming, emailing, or even just browse the web, I use copy and paste a lot to save things in the short term.  Things like logins, account numbers, serial codes, dates, etc.  Unfortunately, each of those notes wipes out the previous one.

I just discovered ClipX which is a really nice, lightweight tool which sits on your Start Menu Notification area.  It simply keeps a history of everything you toss onto the clipboard.  On top of grabbing text, it holds onto copied images as well, making it a great tool for holding onto screenshots.

Ultimately, there are a lot of things to think about – this little tool reduces that by one and can be a big help when tracking things back.  It’s not new, but it’s definitely worth having.


Update:

Depending on your settings, ClipX can have a pretty large memory footprint and use a decent portion of your CPU on load.  Just be careful..

iTunes Plugins – Cleaning House

I like to keep my iTunes organized but as it’s grown, there’s just not time to do justice to the job.  That’s where iTunes Scripts come in.  Apple has made it possible to write scripts for windows that access things like playlists, albums, songs, song info, the iPod and more.  Using JavaScript, Perl, C#, etc. developers have written a number of incredibly helpful tools for cleaning up and organizing the iTunes library. 

Be careful though – some of these delete metadata or files without much warning.  Make sure you’re doing what you intend to do.

Teridon’s site has a nice library of tools available in an executable package.

Apple released a few sample scripts with the iTunesCOMWindowsSDK  package of developer header files. 

Moreover, the methods for developing custom scripts are very approachable in case these scripts don’t do quite what you need.

Filling a tech job slot

New to the field of computer science, I set out this month to find myself a job for after graduation in the Spring.  As a new graduate, I’ve been looking for entry-level positions into the field.  As my search grew, I became more and more astounded by the degree to which it was impossible to directly find potential jobs.    

To some degree I’m sure this is a reflection of the miserable general job market and the especially poor tech job market at the moment.  That’s to be expected.  There are nevertheless plenty of possible jobs listed.  It’s just that none of them are actually done by companies themselves.  At least 90% of all interesting job listings encountered are done by recruiters from staffing agencies looking to market me as a consultant.   

The decision by companies to look to consultants rather than individual job seekers probably comes down to a question of qualifications.   When a company or division is expanding or replacing someone on the team, someone in human resources is tasked with filling the spot.  These people are not necessarily informed enough to know that Ubuntu administration and linux administration skills overlap or that someone with Javascript expertise is qualified to some degree for AJAX.  Rather than go to the trouble of bothering the software guys in the company to screen applicants, they turn to staffing agencies to supply people, the same staffing agencies which, by the way, skim off a significant chunk of change for their services.  

This setup makes it quick and easy for HR people to fill developer slots, and maybe some developers with targeted skills can benefit from this matchup.  I am of the opinion, however, that a software company without the informed scrutiny to screen applicants on its own may not be as concerned about the quality of the employees it settles for, and may not care whether they’re happy enough to stick around for the long term.

Backups

I’ve recently had a number of friends lose large amounts of information (music, essays, and photos that can never be replaced) due to hard drive damage and it has gotten me thinking about how easy backups can be, but how rarely people use them.

Windows – Backup to external hard drive: Backup Magic

Network Linux Box – Great article on network backups

Online options: Carbonite

Make the Send To menu your own

This is nothing new I’ll admit, but it’s a quick and easy way to get around windows a little bit quicker.  Customize the ‘Send To’ section of the right-click menu for files.

Check that hidden files are visible:

  • In any folder, go to Tools -> Folder Options -> View tab
  • ‘Show Hidden Files and Folders’ should be checked

Add shortcuts to the C:/Documents and Settings/<profile_name>/Send To folder.

Selective backups made easy

I reformat occasionally to clean out all the built up junk and speed things up. The process of backing things up and getting them all set up again takes awhile. Every time I find myself worried that I will forgot something important and discover it only after I’ve hit the “Format Disk” button and blown past the warnings about deleted information.

Backup Magic automates and simplifies the process by allowing you to select certain folders to mirror on an external drive somewhere. I can set things up once and then periodically (or automatically on a cron job) run these backups. Just as easily, I can create another job to restore the backed up files/directories to their original location after a format (dead hard drive, sibling abuse, virus infestation, etc.).

Free to use. Pay if you really like it. Backup Magic

IEs4Linux – Internet Explorer for Linux

IEs4Linux Main Site

Why would you want to run IE when you don’t have to?  Some websites require particular browsers and web developers need to test for browser compatibility.   This link is for you.

IEs4Linux simplifies the process of installing several versions of Internet Explorer for linux distributions using Wine.  Download and run the script and it takes care of all the details

Mozilla Prism: Webrunner with A Little Extra Juice

Well I’m a bit slow on this one, but I finally noticed that mozilla labs has been working on the project previously known as Webrunner. For those who don’t know, Webrunner was a ‘browser’ of sorts that allows a web application (gmail, google reader, meebo, etc.) to be run as if it were a desktop application. More here (Read: Mozilla WebRunner 0.7).

Prism makes strides to simplify the process of harnessing this web application -> desktop application capability. Once installed, opening Prism prompts for a web url and options to create Desktop, Quick Launch, or Start Menu icons. This new version also gives the users options allowing them to display a location bar, status messages, and navigation keys, should they so desire.

Mozilla Labs: Prism

Magic DVD Ripper – Finally a simple, efficient, and fully-featured solution

I’ve looked around for quite sometime, trying to find a simple means to backup my DVDs to take them with me on the road.  All too often the results are disappointing with loss of quality, glitchy results, or complicated settings to maneuver.

Magic DVD Ripper provides the ability to rip copy-protected DVDs to disc in a variety of formats, including full DVD-video quality, mpeg, avi, and such, with options for Divx, Xvid and other such codecs.  DVDs can thus be saved in full-quality, or reduced to small 700mb files suitable for portable device viewing.

The biggest advantage I appreciated was the reliability of the process.  Often software packages work only with certain types of copy-protection or occasionally fail with ordinary processes.  I have backed up dozens of DVDs of different sorts via this method and in every case, the quality has been surprisingly good, and the experience pleasantly efficient and simple.  Give the trial a whirl and if backing up your movie collection is something you do regularly, the $34.97 price tag is quite reasonable.