dreamhost > godaddy

For a long time, I’ve been meaning to transfer my domain(s) away from GoDaddy, but I never got around to it until the SOPA thing came up. Aside from a completely misogynistic advertising campaign, an eye-stabbingly horrible website, a 1990s-esque lack of ssh support for shared servers, and a CEO that loves shooting elephants for sport, the fact that GoDaddy was the only registrar / host to support SOPA kind of clinched it for me, so on Christmas Eve, I started to transfer my domains away from them.

The groundswell of outrage against GoDaddy suggested various alternative hosts, and I realized that this would be a great time to try out DreamHost. I’ve been incredibly happy so far. SSH: check. Unified account for hosting all my domains: check. Super easy setup: check. In fact, the only hitches that I experienced in transferring my domains involved GoDaddy — first canceling ‘private registration’ through another site that looks porn-ish, then ‘unlocking’ the domains (9 point font or something) and finally, deep in my Accounts page, in a tiny tab, ‘accept’-ing the transfer request. I understand that these things lock the domain against malicious transfers and whatnot, but that I had to find out about how to do it from a competitors blog post sort of put the cherry on top of my wanting to leave GoDaddy. For DreamHost’s part, they emailed me a link to accept the transfer for each domain. Click. Done.

It was a great time to cancel domains I didn’t want or couldn’t take with me (apparently you have to be a Spanish national to transfer/register .es domains now .. goodbye, filespac.es idea…) and the .co domain is $24.95 to register (instead of DreamHost’s $9.95 for .com/.net/.org) so I let go of my never-used scottsimpson.co. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my first domain, registered in 2000, but I’m keeping it for sentimental value (atryx.net). I brought my fraternity domains over as well (lambdachisdsu.org and lambdachisdsu.com) until they re-colonize.

So we’ll see how this new adventure goes.

iChat / AIM can’t connect after 10.7.2 upgrade?

For whatever reason, iChat seems unable to connect to AIM with SSL after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.7.2. Fix it like this:

Change the server to slogin.oscar.aol.com with port 443 using SSL.

Kind of an odd thing, maybe 10.7.2 shipped with bad settings? Who knows.

OSX Service: Base64 encode/decode text

A very quick set of Services for OSX. The service takes selected text and uses the Ruby Base64 library to encode or decode it:

  • 64encode (clip) – encodes selected text and puts the result on the clipboard
  • 64encode (inline) – encodes selected text and pastes the result inline, replacing the original text
  • 64decode (clip) – decodes selected text and puts the result on the clipboard
  • 64decode (inline) – decodes selected text and pastes the result inline, replacing the original text

Download, unzip, and copy to ~/Library/Services. Access through right-click menu after selecting text.

Cool Stuff

1. Google Calendar ‘quick-add’ events.

2. The new Android OS interface preview (via @techcrunch)

3. IOGraph (today’s art below)

Screencast to AppleTV with Mac / VLC

http://www.tuaw.com/2010/12/22/screencast-your-mac-to-apple-tv-over-airplay … looks neat. Will have to explore.

OSX Service: Timestamp Filename

Super quick OSX Service — it takes selected items (i.e. in Finder) and renames them with the current date and time appended to the end. I created it to combat the persistent ‘photo.jpg’ filename of images I email myself from my iPhone. This is something that has irritated me for about 2 years, so I finally took 45 seconds to make this. It’s three Automator actions:

  • Get Selected Finder Items
  • Rename Finder Items (to add Date)
  • Rename Finder Items (to add Time)

I make zero claims of uniqueness or creativity, but I was a little surprised to discover it took three actions. Maybe there’s a regex sub module i’m overlooking.

To use: download, unzip, put in ~/Library/Services and then select items, context-click (or find it in the Finder > Services menu) and get some timestamp on.


For those non-Terminal-inclined people out there, do this:

  1. open Terminal
  2. type:
  3. cd ~/Library/Services
  4. press Enter. Skip to 4 if you don’t get an error. If you get an error about the folder not being found, do:
  5. cd ~/Library
    mkdir Services
    cd Services
  6. type:
  7. open .
  8. press Enter
  9. copy the .zip file from above into this folder
  10. double-click to unzip the workflow
  11. drag the .zip file to the trash

So you just got a MacBook Air…

…lucky you!

If you’re a Mac user already, you know how to use it. If not, let’s go through some basics:

  • To ‘right click’ put two fingers on the trackpad and click with the thumb.
  • The bar at the top is separate from the Application windows — it changes context as you switch apps.
  • The Dock at the bottom is kind of like the windows Start menu, drag stuff there for quick access
  • ‘System Preferences’ is the analogue to Control Panel on Windows — it’s accessed through the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen.
  • Make sure you get the System Updates that are available (currently 10.6.5) from the Software Update… option in the Apple menu.
  • The temptation to go get Microsoft Office is strong — but also consider the Free, Open Source alternative OpenOffice, or Apple’s offerings (iWork)
  • If you’re a college student, or education faculty, you can get AppleCare for $183 instead of the regular $249 (MacBook Air). Other great discounts apply to the other computer versions. AppleCare is great, and you have a year from the purchase date of the computer to purchase it. It’s important to remember, though, that AppleCare does not cover physical damage to the system.
  • As with any kind of battery-powered device, it’s important to know the ins and outs of battery performance.
  • Setting up a new computer is a great opportunity to start backing up your data … Mac OS X makes this easy with Time Machine, and you can use any Mac-formatted USB hard drive (or do it over the network if you’re feeling super fancy…)
  • Spotlight is awesome — it’s the magnifying glass in the top right corner of the screen. It searches all the files on your Mac as you type. I use it to launch applications, too — it’s handier than clicking through the Applications folder. You can open it by pressing Command-Space also.
  • lynda.com has some great tutorials on Switching from Windows to Mac and Computer Literacy for the Mac. But of course, you already know that… ;)
  • It’s pretty easy to move stuff from an old pc to a shiny new Mac — just copy the files you want to move on to a USB hard drive.
  • Moving your iTunes library is pretty easy as well.
  • The Migration Assistant that you see during the initial setup is also available later in Applications/Utilities/Migration Assistant
And on to a few Air-specific things:
  • You might consider migrating data from an older Mac. Apple provides a nice article explaining this. Be sure to uncheck the ‘Network’ settings under the preferences dropdown when migrating, especially if you’re using the network to migrate. If your new Mac picks up the address from your old Mac, it can abort the transfer. Most people don’t have exotic network settings to bring over, and if they do they should probably just set them up manually anyway. :)
  • Because the Air’s screen is rather short vertically, consider moving the Dock to the side of the window. You can ‘right’ click on the little crosswalk divider and change the position of the Dock. You can also do this in System Preferences.
  • Since the Air doesn’t have an optical (dvd) drive, you might be tempted to go out and buy one. I would try to resist this — most people don’t use CD’s much anymore. Consider investing (a fraction of the cost) in a large-ish USB disk — 8 or 16GB. You can also use another computer’s cd/dvd drive! Just follow these instructions.
  • The Air is very WiFi oriented. If you need an ethernet plug, you’ll need to buy one. Or maybe it’s time to get a WiFi router…
  • If you do get that ethernet plug, bear in mind that it’s 10/100Mbps, not Gigabit. This shouldn’t matter much to you unless you plan on doing enormous file transfers… There’s a ‘gigabit’ adapter available over at amazon, but it won’t actually go gigabit — USB peaks out at 480Mbps.
  • Since the air is so lightweight and networky, consider jumping into the cloud rather than shuffling files back and forth with a disk. Services like Dropbox allow you to automagically sync a folder of files from your Air to other computers (and access the files on the web, too!). I use it for all my grad school work, so I have my files anywhere I need them. Evernote is a great tool for keeping text and clippings synced across your Mac, PC, nerdy Linux machine, or iPhone/something else.
  • The Air is a rad little slice of Mac, but it’s not a powerhouse. It’s very well suited for internet, document creation, and photo viewing but not so great for AfterEffects, Final Cut, or World of Warcraft. They’ll all run, but not optimally. Consider that the processor in the Air is about the same as the MacBooks from a few years ago. It has more RAM (4-8x) and a much faster SSD hard drive, though. These help it be snappier for navigating and doing file access.
  • Since the Air is so thin, be very careful about how you put it in your bag. The screen lid is very thin, so avoid positioning anything like a power adapter near it where it could impact the screen.
  • I personally like to use Tap to click on the Air trackpad. It feels more appropriate or something … more like the iPad.
  • Being very small, the Air is probably easier to lose (or have taken from you). You might consider turning on FileVault to encrypt your personal stuff. It can be found under Security in System Preferences. This of course doesn’t protect against data loss, but is a pretty solid line of defense against ne’er-do-wells getting access to your personal data. There’s a slight performance hit, but it’s mostly offset by the faster SSD storage.
  • Additionally, check out some of the ‘stolen Mac recovery’ apps. There’s a free one here for a limited time.
More tips to come as I think of them. Please let me know if you have Mac or Air-specific questions you’d like addressed.

Outlook 2011 – Gripes So Far

- Doesn’t sync CalDAV or CardDAV
– I don’t want all these random calendar categories. What is Manager? Why is he/she pink? Why can’t I change the color of my own calendar?
– OMG clutter…
– Choice of sounds: yes or no. Ignores OSX system sounds.
– Editing a contact destroys my CPU
– I don’t want little dropdowns in the sidebar in the mail context for all the meeting rooms I’m a delegate for. They don’t get mail I care about. They’re meeting rooms.

On the upside, it does have the whole ‘isn’t Entourage’ thing going for it. Which is big. Also it’s pretty fast.

Between weirdness with Outlook and Apple Mail randomly crashing, I’m tempted to switch to the Google Apps interface full-time for my personal email. And calendar. And contacts. Oh, Google, you’re starting to rub off on me.

320×240 ought to be enough for anybody

Wine from Epiphany, some Ratatat, and hopefully a little reading and response of/to articles for class. They’re quick and get me into some articles I might not usually read, but I find that I put them off and do other things instead. My house is cleaner than it’s been in a while. Good, I guess, but not in the same way. And then, on to learning about video compression for the ongoing ‘rescue family memories from scary old VHS tape’ project. I wonder what another family member 20 years from now will make of my h.264 videos. (S)he will probably snicker at its two-dimensionality. Fun to consider.


New template, new image, new widgets… all in aid of trying to get myself to blog again. Who knows. Finding lots of fun social stuff thanks to the MA program. Check out one of the assignments about Personal Knowledge Management Systems over at PINOTnet.

Seems like I should get a gallery or something going here too.