Category Archives: Odds And Sods

Random, probably unrelated ideas.

Odds and Sods: WeTransfer, TeamStation

Transfer Large Files

WeTransfer is a slick application which allows you to send large files to a friend or colleague, and which completely eliminates the process of sharing a file in Google Docs or Dropbox.  The free version allows you to send files up to 2Gb in size. A paid version allows you to send files up to 20GB in size, and you can have a custom download page.

Remote Access

Boss works from home. Boss wants to have access to QuickBooks accounting, running on Windows.  Boss is a Mac person.  So, we have two problems…one of access to the QuickBooks data file, which is running on a dedicated server, and the cross-platform problem of running Quickbooks on a Mac. After talking this through (VPN?,  Shared file on Google Drive?,  Buy dedicated laptop for Boss?),  remote access software comes to the rescue.

I love/loved LogMeIn.  It got pricey though, so I found that TeamViewer does the job for free.

FileMaker Buy 1 Get 1

FileMaker is offering their Buy 1, Get 1 deal through December 20th.  The offer is for desktop versions of FileMaker Pro, or FileMaker Pro Advanced which runs on Mac or Windows.` Buy one at the full or educational price and get a second license for free. In the U.S., this lowers the cost of workstation licenses to $164 each for FileMaker Pro, which is a killer deal.

 

 

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Odds and Sods: MailClark is out of beta, etc.

screenshot_102816_104525_amMailClark, the eMail robot for Slack came out of beta on October 27th. They have instituted reasonable pricing and even include a single eMail address for free, which should work for us at least temporarily. I was hoping that they would introduce nonprofit pricing,  but with the free address, and a price of $9.00 per month for unlimited inbound and outbound emails   we can probably afford it if necessary.

filemaker_cloudJust after buying our FileMaker 15 server license, FileMaker announced FileMaker for the Cloud. Essentially it looks like Amazon Web Services running an instance of FileMaker server.  Oh well. We’re pretty happy with our server running on a Mac mini,  with up to five users and have been deploying our nonprofit CRM to production, adding users one-by-one using desktop licenses for FileMaker Pro.   I still think there is a case for reasonable fixed pricing as opposed to subscription pricing,  and this is what we’ve got through TechSoup.

screenshot_102816_104818_amApple announces new MacBooks.  Fair enough.  Expensive though…. the least expensive MacBook, without the OLED touch bar is $1500 for 256GB SSD disk and 8 gigs of RAM.  The OLED touch bar adds $300.00 to the price! Oh and they upgraded Apple TV.   What about the MacBook Air,  Mac mini,  and the iMac?  Nichts, nada, silence….

 

Odds and Sods

Random Tips

  • Panic in the ranks! This is not the first thing you want your users to see in the morning as they attempt to log into to complete a grant application:
    The table "{{settings_global}}" for active record 
    class "SettingGlobal" cannot be found in the database."

    After some poking around it turns out we were out of allocated disk space on the Linode.  df -m showed 100%. I think this was related to a backup and restore that I had done a day earlier; which preserved the old image as it copied a new version  to the same allocated disk space. The actual error was returned by LimeSurvey, which was reacting to a system 8 error generated by mySQL.

  • Trying to see the analytics for a bit.ly link?  Just append a plus sign ‘+’ to the link. This will show the statistics for the link instead of what the link points to.

Stuff I’d Like to Try Out

Two “glue” programs that process something in one program, based on a trigger that is set in another program.

Two forms program that make web forms.

Links of Interest

50 tools for project management. (from Zapier)

FileZilla

I have taken over our webmaster’s job, following the departure of that esteemed and highly valued person a week or so ago. We are going to miss him in ways that we haven’t even figured out yet.

I’m scrambling to find out everything that the webmaster does…and finding that his tool set was basic in the extreme; roughly a text editor and and the superb open-source FTP program called FileZilla. With these two tools, he maintained two major web sites, and several minor mini-sites, built on-demand web pages for special projects, ran our DNS, managed our open-source survey system called LimeSurvey, did our analytics and search-engine-optimization (SEO), slung PHP code like a master, and managed a series of third-party advertising tiles and several mailing lists.  Whew!  

Odds and Sods – The Coffee Conundrum

We recently stopped subsidizing coffee at work. No longer does the Staples Guy, or the W. B. Mason gal, or Mr UPS come in with their merry cart with a variety of K-cup packs… Hawaiian Blend, Breakfast Blend, Nantucket Blend, spreading cheer to all before him.

Coffee supplied by the organization was in the form of Keurig K-Cups that contained brand-name coffee from Green Mountain Roasters, Starbucks, Pete’s, etc. We also would have a smattering of more exotic K-cups, such as green tea. This is not unlike almost every other office in the U.S. at this point.

As a person whose existence depends on this vital substance, this has been an interesting exercise. I’ve believe that I was placed on this earth as a vessel to take coffee as a raw material and convert it into software, so it was a bit of a wrench. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do next, now that I’ve been thrown back on my own resources.

I usually start my day at home with a mug of freshly ground Vermont Coffee Company coffee. This is a fair-trade coffee that costs about $13.00 per pound.  I calculated that one mug costs about 40 cents. (which doesn’t include the cost of the filter). It is delicious. 
The cheapest Keurig coffee is about 55 cents per cup. A quick check at the mall showed Staples selling a pack of 18 for $9.99 for Starbucks cups. The Christmas Tree Shop had similar prices but with really dodgy brands. To be fair, my shop was subsidizing my coffee habit at 4 or 5 cups per day; call it $2.75 or so, or almost $14.00 per week.

Once I started doing long divisions, I also found the following:

Premium tea bags – Bigalow or Twinings English Breakfast comes in at about 14 cents per cup. (assuming the hot water is free. We actually get heated spring water out of our cooler, so maybe it would be another penny for the water, call it a total of 15 cents).

Cheap(ish) white wine, a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio costs from $7.00 to $9.00 per 750ml bottle. I can get about 5 glasses per bottle, so my wine consumption comes in at $1.40 – 1.80 per glass.

Boxed tomato soup from Pacifica is $4.00 per package. I can probably get 3 servings out of a pack, at $1.33 each.

So, apart from tap water, which tastes fine around here… tea seems to be a pretty cost-effective beverage, especially compared to wine or coffee when consumed in the office. It also makes you wonder about the 500% markup for beverages consumed elsewhere. At our Starbucks, a Grande Pike is $2.15. Most restaurant wine is $6.00 to $8.00 per glass.

So, I’m going to try to really like tea.

But,  why stop here?

My round-trip commute is around 30 miles. Gas now costs $2.75 per gallon, and I get 50 mpg on my old Prius. So, I’m spending $1.65 on gas per day.

Unless I take my bike in which case the commute is $0.00. But then, Ben and Jerry’s premium ice cream is on sale at $2.75 per pint.  I can get two to three servings per pint. Add the hot fudge and and walnuts..  and … never mind.  

Odds and Sods: Grantstation Membership and Training Opportunities

Grantwriting

Grantstation is a subscription-based database of grant opportunities. You can purchase a l year Grantstation Membership for $99.00 per year if you are a member of TechSoup, on September 23 and 24.

The free Grantstation 1-hour orientation webinar is well worth the time. I learned, for example that their federal grants database is a front-end using data from Grants.gov.    

Tech Soup is also sponsoring a free webinar by the CEO of Grantstation Cynthia Adams on September 18th.

Funding Rural America :
When has it ever been easy to secure funding for nonprofits and libraries in rural communities? Is there a way to level the playing field so organizations in small towns, counties, or boroughs without large metropolitan areas can compete for both government and private sector grants? What are the other options for financially supporting a rural project? Are collaborative efforts worth the effort? And, of course the biggest question: who is funding rural America?

These, and other relevant questions, along with current trends affecting rural funding will be addressed in this free, two-hour webinar presented by Cynthia Adams, CEO of GrantStation.

Finally, it is rare that we find a Grantmsanship Seminar in our neck of the woods (northern New England). But  there will be a five-day Grantmanship training seminar located in Barre VT. December 8-12, 2014

Hardware and Software

Interconnection.org is  another possible source for refurbished computers, (or a place to donate your old gear). They are one of the refurbishers for the Techsoup Refurbished Computer Initiative.

Techsoup has wonderful deals for software. A one-year subscription to FileMaker server is $209, and a subscription for FileMaker Pro (the desktop version that runs on a Mac or PC desktop) is $65.00. Visio Professional is available for $29.00.

Miscellaneous

Here is an interesting academic discussion of luck, and how to have more of it. Thanks to Jeff Duntemann for the link.

Odds and Sods

Toyota Woes: Getting Personal

Here’s an dispassionate analysis of the Toyota acceleration problem.

We have a 2003 Prius and a 2008 Yaris, neither of which appear to be part of any recall.

But even if they were recalled, I wonder if it would make much difference. My Prius has an issue when coming down long hills, where the regenerative braking appears to either actually overheat a battery terminal, or just trips the sensor, thereby hanging up the on-board computer. It was also the first car that I had that came with automatic skid control, and a couple times when I was evading a skid, I was automatically overridden, and it actually released the brake on the affected (skidding) wheel. If I had a choice, I’d be able either to turn it off, or not have it in the first place.
My theory is that there may be something going on with the cruise control, which affects acceleration, of course, or indeed a problem with a displaced floor mat, which has happened to me too, in other cars, not just Toyotas. Our Yaris is a totally low-end car, and is manual almost everything, so it is less likely that it would be affected.
Blogger FTP Service Deprecated
I only just noticed that the Blogger FTP service is being deprecated. Eeek. (If I may use the expression). TFNP has been a Blogger blog for almost ten years; before Google bought Blogger. So, sometime soon, we’ll have to figure out what to do next. My initial inclination is to take them up on their offer to move to a custom domain, or blogspot blog…. but blogspot is so, um, like AOL. This is a manageable problem for me, but in the comments about the move suggest it is going to be a real issue for people in China, where blogger.com is blocked.
Pesky Technical Problem #1 iDisk Sync Issue
After working flawlessly for what seemed like months, my iDisk synchronization stopped working with both my desktop and laptop machines saying “disk not in sync”, even after repeated attempts at syncing both manually and automatically. The solution was to sort of unwind everything:
1. In iDisk preferences, stop syncing on both machines.
2. Create a backup folder on the desktop machine, and copy everything from the iDisk into it.
3. Delete the iDisk contents on the desktop.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 on the laptop.
Now you have a local copy of the iDisk contents on both machines (which may or may not be in sync with each other.
5.On the desktop, go on the web in Safari and log into your mobile.me account.
6. Log off
7. Log in with bogus credentials (i.e. different name, different password). You’ll get an error message saying that your credentials aren’t valid.
8. Log in again with the correct credentials and log off.
9. Do a manual sync with the desktop. This will “refill” your desktop’s iDisk with the contents of the iDisk from mobile me.
10. Copy the contents of your backup iDisk to the desktop’s iDisk, and manually sync again.
At this point the desktop should be synced with mobile me.
11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 for the laptop.
This should have everything synced together.

Step 7 was a suggestion; it seemed dubious, but I tried it anyway. The explanation was that it “reset” the index or something on mobile me. Sound like a crock, but the above steps all seemed to work, and everything is back to normal.

Another suggestion is to only have one machine set on automatic sync…and then manually sync the other (probably the laptop if that is the one used only occasionally)