markmcb's Articles, Page 3 of 16

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16 Dec 08

Don't CC Yourself in Mac Mail With Alias Addresses

Mac Mail is great, but as with all things Mac, the simple user interface can sometimes feel a little prohibitive. I recently got stumped with an issue that was driving me crazy. Every time I hit “reply all” to a message, my name was ending up in the Cc: line despite my preferences explicitly telling Mail not to do that.

After thinking for a moment, it hit me. My account responds to two email addresses, i.e., “markmcb” was the alias for the actual account “mark”. Realizing that this wasn’t a normal situation, it made sense that it wouldn’t be a normal option. So I went to the plist editor for help.

07 Dec 08

Tracking Historical Linux Server Load

There are tons of server monitoring tools out there that you can download, install and configure. However, if you’re like me you like to keep things simple, lightweight, and customizable. Tools like “top” give you the output you need, but you can’t exactly monitor top all day long. The following script takes about a minute to install and offers a way to grab data similar to what you’d get from top, but in a format that can serve as the starting point for deeper historical analysis.

On most Linux systems, there is a file called /proc/loadavg. The contents of this file look like:

04 Dec 08

OmniNerd Version 4

Welcome to OmniNerd version 4! It’s just like version 3, but 1 better. The focus of version 4 development was threefold: authors, readers, and smart content selection. The result is a fresh new site that we think is far more enjoyable and easy to use.

For our authors, we simplified the content submission process greatly. Gone are the days of trying to decipher the difference between an article, blog, coffee shop, and news post. Everything is now just an article. Here are some of the specific feature improvements for our writers:

  • One link for submission. Simply click the big submit new in the site header and you’re on your way.
  • Auto-saving. Type your drafts when you have time and come back later knowing that your data has been saved whether you clicked save or not.
27 Oct 08

New Front Page, User-Specific RSS

If somehow you didn’t notice, we added a third, left-hand column to the front page.

Our intent was:

  • un-bury content like blogs, links, and books that weren’t getting much visibility
  • give the majority of the front page to those of you taking the time to write quality, original articles and blogs (that we promote to the "coffee shop")
  • get more content in the top portion of the front page

A subtle update is on your user page: user-specific RSS. Check it out. You can subscribe to anyone’s feed and use your RSS reader to notify you when they post new content.

29 Jul 08

Caleb Campbell's NFL Career on Hold

I read something this morning that made me feel that nasty feeling you get when someone tells you a family member died. CNN ran an article about Caleb Campbell, a West Point graduate who will be forced to serve his 5-year commitment despite being drafted by the Detroit Lions. The rationale cited is basically, "That’s what he signed up for. That’s his commitment." While I can’t argue with that, I can argue against the leadership making the call.

First, let me establish my credibility on the subject. I am a West Point graduate, class of 2001. I served the 5 years to which I committed and during that commitment I deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Back during my cadet days, West Point established a relationship with the NSA, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy to have a "Cyber Defense" competition and trophy. Basically, the 3 academies would go head-to-head with the NSA’s most elite hackers in a two phase competition: hack, and then be hacked.

15 Jul 08

Slow Down to Run Farther

A good friend of mine, John, is a triathlete who just finished the Escape From Alcatraz triathlon. Upon his finish, I looked down at my growing stomach and decided it was time to do something about it. My plan was simple: I had run in the past, I would run again. Well, it wasn’t that simple.

I went out for a 2 mile jog through Golden Gate Park, you know, to keep it short and easy. About half a mile into it I was sucking wind and had to stop to walk. "How can this be?," I thought. I’ve never been much of a runner, but I’d ran 10+ miles in the past without hurting too much. I thought to myself, "bah, it’s just the first one, keep it up and you’ll get better."

29 Jun 08

Better Comment Threads

I finally got around to upgrading the comment threading feature on OmniNerd. The old version showed full threads, sorted in chronological order of top-level comments, oldest first. This wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t always how I wanted to read a thread.

I think the old way was good if you’d stumbled upon a mature thread and wanted to read it end-to-end. However, if you’re actively checking for comments, newest first may make more sense. Or if you’ve got comments in two sub-threads, you don’t want to have to scroll back and forth to keep up.

21 Jun 08

Showcasing The Good Stuff

For veteran OmniNerds, the new side menu addition may seem very reminiscent of the old version 2 "pulse" that was at the top of the front page. It’s a new feature that we’re calling the "showcase" and we intend to do just that, i.e., showcase content on the site that might otherwise get lost in the mix.

For now, there are only a few items to browse through, but more will be coming soon. While we’re working on these additional items, we’d like your input. What content would you like to showcase? Throw out your ideas in the comments and we’ll see what we can do.

09 Mar 08

Home Network 2.0

I recently upgraded my entire house in terms of computers and network hardware. My old setup was a collection of my low-budget, post-college days so I decided to upgrade in one purchase (yikes!). I must say, the result is far better than I’d hoped. I thought I’d share the ups, downs, and unforeseens.

First, for reference, my old set up was:

  • PowerMac Dual-G5, 30" Monitor – primary workstation, connected via wireless
  • PowerBook G4 867 Mhz – used for travel, becoming increasingly obsolete
  • Dell Latitude C840 Laptop – folded up under my bed running a linux server and serving as the OmniNerd test server as well as the gateway to my network from the outside, wired
14 Dec 07

OS X Keyboard Shortcut Junkie

I hate the mouse. I mean, think about it. You can have two hands typing independently of each other executing commands rapidly OR you can tie one of those hands up with a device with roughly 4 directional inputs and 2 selection inputs (or more depending on your mouse). Not only that, if you’ve got a 30" screen like me (and a side monitor), simply dragging your mouse all the way across your desktop can be an annoying task.

Never fear, those 100+ key inputs on your keyboard have your back. In OS X, if you go to your system preferences you’ll find a "Keyboard & Mouse" settings area. Go there and then to "keyboard shortcuts" to find some nice shortcuts. A few of note:

04 Nov 07

OmniNerd Front Page Update

So, the OmniNerd code base pushes forward. By now you’ve probably noticed the new front page. Let me highlight some of the changes we just pushed:

  • Removed the pulse due to a lot of feed back we’ve gotten that it’s confusing. It was also loaded with AJAX scripting, which was making the underlying code a tad bloated. I think you’ll find the front page loads a little faster now.
  • Added the "oligarchy, democracy, and communism" front page sections. This is an idea that didn’t make it from alpha testing to beta testing. However, it’s been resurrected. The sections are exactly what their names imply.
18 Oct 07

500 errors and more

Just a quick update on the status of version 3 now that we’re 3 weeks into it going "live."

  • Many of you have reported 500 errors on comment and other content submission. The bug resides in some 3rd party software that we are relying on to provide our search capability. It was supposed to take some load off of our database and provide faster searching, but so far it’s mostly just provided issues. It should be corrected soon.
  • Some of you have mentioned rendering issues on older browsers. I feel your pain, however this is very low on my to-do list and to be honest may never be dealt with. The easy option is to upgrade to any of the most recent browsers from which I’ve heard no complaints, e.g., Firefox 2 (or 3 alpha), Safari 2 (or 3 beta), or MSIE 7. All seem to handle the site just fine.
02 Oct 07

Ruby on Rails Nears 2.0 Release

The Ruby on Rails weblog announced yesterday that the Rails 2.0 development branch is ready for public use as a preview release. Touting several enhancements to database interaction, RESTful routing, and performance, Rails 2.0 should be a major step forward for the framework. From the weblog, "We might change a few things or add something else, but by and large, this is how Rails 2.0 is going to look and feel. After this release have [sic] had a chance to be tried out, we’re going to move to a release candidate or two (or three, depending on how many we need). Then, the final release."

29 Sep 07

Preserve Rails Ferret Index with a Symlink and Capistrano

If you’re deploying your Rails application with capistrano and using ferret as your app’s index, you’ll quickly notice that with every deployment/update to your production code will come a ferret index rebuild. Not good.

Luckily, the solution is quite simple.

First, deploy your app and build your index. Once that’s done, copy your index folder to the shared folder:

cp -R /path/to/your/app/current/index /path/to/your/app/shared/

26 Sep 07

OmniNerd Version 3

It’s finally here. Version 3! We admit, it’s still a little rough around the edges, but it’s better in so many other ways. First, the code base is 100% new. Aside from the buggy nature of new code, the new underlying design gives us something we didn’t have before: a solid foundation for new development. The version 2 code that I wrote was really a learn-as-you-go project. If you’ve ever done a project like that, you know how it goes … ugly. The code was very inhibiting and rather than trying to fix a broken system, we took it as an opportunity to start fresh and moved from PHP to Ruby on Rails. We understand that this means certain features aren’t quite polished yet, but they will be soon. If you stumble upon a bug, please use the link on the bottom of every page to log it and try to bear with us through our growing pains.

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