Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.
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Category: Other

Once again, I’m sorry for letting you wait for a new article for so long, but I really couldn’t find any time in my schedule to write anything of value. This does not mean that we don’t have anything to write about. We have tons of ideas, but just not the time to write the actual articles.

Now I want to introduce a new section here on the blog. It is called “Ask PlayingWithWire.” This section is really just an experiment inspired by Ask Slashdot. The Ask PWW section is for you readers to write in to us and ask questions, which we hopefully can provide good answer to.

If you have any questions that you want us to answer, please drop us an e-mail at

Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.
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Category: Business

Both Alex and I have been very busy lately, and therefore we failed to find the time to write on the blog. However, this doesn’t mean that we’re not working. This passed weekend we added two job ads on Craigslist; one web-designer and one PHP developer.

For each ad, Craigslist charges $75, which must be considered quite low, considering the number of people you’ll reach and what the competitors charge.

Just a few minutes after we posted the ad the applications started to come in. Below you’ll find the distribution of applications we have received so far.

Craigslist Applicants

Next week, Alex and I are going to sit down and go through all the applicants in the ‘To Be Considered’-section to find the best applicants. When that process is done, we will contact the best applicants in order to set up an in-person interview.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

Until a couple of days ago, my bookshelf was filled with binders with old lecture notes from school. The truth is that I don’t think I ever opened one of these binders after I finished the final for the class. Yet, I didn’t want to throw it all away, since it might come handy some day when I want to refresh my memory.

On the other hand these binders really bothered me. They took up space in the bookshelf that I could use for something more useful. So I thought, why don’t I digitalize these papers?

This solution includes:

  • A scanner (preferably with ADF)
  • A software called PDFLab
  • A staple remover
  • Quite a bit of time

You may want to use this guide for the archiving of old:

  • Bills
  • Financial documents
  • Lecture notes
  • Receipts

1. Preparing your documents

Prepare the documents you want to scan. That means figuring out how you want to group your documents and removing the staples. Since I was scanning lecture notes, the grouping was quite simple. Removing the staples is a boring job, but it needs to be done.

In the process of scanning…

2. Scanning your documents

Finder: Jpegs This is the time consuming part. Depending on your hardware, the time the scanning takes varies a lot. With the scanner I was using (HP Scanjet 5590), one paper (front and back) probably took about 35 seconds in 150 DPI. If you have a scanner with ADF, it doesn’t really matter that much if it takes 10 or 40 minutes to scan a pile of papers, since you can go and do something else in the meantime.

Depending on the software you’re using, the file-output might differ. In the software I was using, the name ‘bus-law_0_0.jpg’ turned out to be working quite well. The first ‘0’ is for the sequence. If for some reason the scanning aborts, you can just continue with ‘bus-law_1_0.jpg’, and the files will still sort in order.

3. Preview and delete blanks

When you’ve scanned in one entire group of documents, select them all and drag them to Preview. Use the arrow-keys to browse through all the documents to make sure they look good. You might want to rotate some documents, or delete some blank pages. I found the shortcut ‘Apple + Delete’ very handy in Preview, since then I can delete the file from Preview, without having to go out in Finder.

4. Convert your documents to a PDF

Screenshot of PDFLab

Up to this point you just have a bunch of jpeg files in a folder somewhere. Since this is not very convenient when you browse notes, I wanted to convert every group to a single PDF-file. When doing my research I found a very handy software called PDFLab. The software is a freeware and works really well.

Download PDFLab and fire it up. Now go to the folder where you saved all those jpeg files. Select them all, and drag them to PDFLab. This might take a couple of minutes, depending on your hardware.

When the files are imported into PDFLab, sort them by name by clicking ‘Name’. Now look through the list. If you have file names that go above 100 (‘bus-law_0_0100.jpg’), the sorting might not be done properly, since the file ‘bus-law_0_0103,jpg’ is sorted before ‘bus-law_0_013.jpg’. If you experience this, you need to move around the files manually until they are in the proper sequence.

When you’re happy with the sorting, hit ‘Create PDF,’ and enter an output file-name in the dialog which appears. If the PDF was generated without any errors, you’re all set.

pdf.png If you get an error message when generating the PDF, just hit OK, and try to create it again. If this doesn’t work, try to restart the software.

5. Delete/Backup the image-files

When you’ve made sure that your PDF is working fine, you can either delete you jpeg files or burn them to a CD just to be safe.

That’s it. You can now throw away all those papers into the recycle bin. The best thing is that you’re never more than a couple of clicks away from your documents.

Empty binders

6. Drawbacks

This solution is not perfect, but it’s sure better than having all those binders in the bookshelf or in a box somewhere. The main drawback of this is that the documents are not searchable. This could possibly be solved with OCR, but according to my experience, OCR is still not powerful enough to recognize all handwriting. OCR also tend to mess up documents which mix text and images. However, if I was able to scan these documents into a PDF with OCR recognition, this would be the optimal solution, since it would both be searchable and consume less space.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

What is Samba?

For all you new users out there, I just want to let you know that Samba is great piece of Open Source software. It solves many issues for both sysadmins and ordinary users. What it does is to give UNIX users the ability to share files and printers with Windows users. Since Samba is available on most modern platforms, it’s also a great way to share files in a multi-platform environment. Samba can even act PDC (Primary Domain Controller), and BDC (Backup Domain Controller) to handle domain logins from Windows clients. PDCs and BDCs were something that used to required a purchase of a Windows NT or Windows 2000/2003 Server license, but they can now be done fairly simple with Samba under UNIX or Linux.

Now that you know a bit about Samba, lets get started.

Adding a public share to Samba

One of the things I miss as a default feature in OS X is the ability to share folders with Samba. The default configuration of Samba only shares the users’ home directories after authorization. However, since I wanted to share my files with non-Mac users, I simply made some changes to smb.conf (the Samba config-file). After running Samba in various *nix-environment for years, this was a simple modification to do.

First open the Terminal, and type in the following commands:

$ sudo nano /private/etc/smb.conf

Now you’re in a text editor called Nano. A simple, but useful editor. Scroll down to the end of the first part, under the [global] section, and type in the following:

security = share
workgroup = whatever-your-workgroup-is-called
netbios name = Your-computers-name

Note that under Tiger (might be under other versions too), the line “workgroup” already exists. If that is the case, then just replace whatever it was previously set to with your workgroup of choice.

That was the first part. Now you’ve made it possible for everybody to access you public shares.
By default though, Samba isn’t configured to have any public shares. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of that next.

Now it’s time to add the actual sharing to the list of public shares. This is done by adding the following lines to your Samba file. There are different ways to configure a share in Samba, but this is a pretty straight-forward and simple way. At the end of the file, add the following lines (still under the [global] section):

path = /path/to/the/share
public = yes
only guest = yes
writable = no
printable = no


Where [public] can be set to whatever name you want for your share, and the path is equal to the path to
the directory you want to share.

Note that you can add as many shares as you’d like. Also, pay attention to the line that says writable: that line determines whether you clients will be able to write files to your share or not. If you want your share to be writable, you want this to say “writable = yes”.

Make sure that there are no typos, and that everything looks proper. Exit Nano and save changes to the file by pressing “ctrl + x” followed by “y” and Enter.

Now we need to set the proper permission to the shared folder. The simplest way to do this is to just type the following command:

$ chmod -R a+rx /path/to/the/share

Note that if you decided to allow write-access to the share, use the command $ chmod -R a+rwx /path/to/share instead of the above command

To verify that your smb.conf is properly configured, we use a command called ‘testparm’. In the Terminal, type:

$ testparm


Look at the output. If you observe something that doesn’t look right, back up and fix the error in smb.conf.

If everything did work out fine, you’re just one step from getting your share visible. The last step is to fire up samba (or restart it if you already had it running). This is can be done either through the System Preferences, or trough the console. I prefer the latter, and here are the commands:

$ sudo service smbd stop
$ sudo service nmbd stop
$ sudo service smbd start
$ sudo service nmbd start

Connecting to the share(s)

Now you’re supposed to be up and running. The most simple way to test if everything worked is to mount your share locally. Here is how it’s done:

In Finder, go to the menu “Go” and click at “Connect to Server” and type in:


You will most likely be prompted for username and password now, but just hit “ok” without entering anything. Since it’s a public share, anyone is able to access it without authorization.

If everything went well, you will find your share mapped in Finder. Now all Windows machines and *nix-machines should be able to browse your files.

This is the beauty with OS X: you are running a commercial desktop OS, but still have all the benefits that a UNIX-environment brings. Running UNIX-programs (as Samba) is done painlessly.

Since Samba is a part of Mac OS X out-of-the-box, Apple has already done half the work for you. The possibilities are many: theoretically, you could make your Mac act as a PDC and replace an entire Windows NT or Windows 2000/2003 Server. I’m not sure about what modifications Apple has done to the source, but if you compile the source code from scratch yourself, it shouldn’t be too hard. Samba simply gives UNIX-users the ability to share files and printers with Windows users.

Please give us feedback if something didn’t work for you.

For further information about Samba, please visit

If you have the possibility, please donate to the Samba-team. These guys work for free, and contribute with a lovely piece of software to the Open Source-world. However, they are in need of your donations to be able to invest in new hardware needed to improve Samba further.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

Ryan Paul over at Ars Technica wrote a very interesting article today regarding the rumors about whether or not Dell will put Linux on their desktop machines.

We would gladly see more diversification, and less dominance on the PC desktop market, but do we have to sacrifice something from our beloved Linux in order for it to hit the big market? As we all know, the power in Linux lays in the its ability to customize for our needs. But how will this affect the support? In order for a vendor such as Dell to sell a computer, they need to fully be able to support it, both the hardware and the software. Mr. Paul writes that “[f]or Dell to provide cost-effective Linux support for desktop users on a large scale, the company would have to limit its Linux pre-installation to very specific components, limiting user flexibility and ultimately defeating one of the biggest advantages of Linux, which is freedom of choice.”

Mr. Paul points out something very interesting here, that most of us forget since we’re tech-savvy power-users. For us support is most often solved through various online forums (see our article “Support is for old people“). However, for the majority of the PC users, the vendor’s support is where they turn for help.

Gnome, KDE, XFCE, Afterstep…the list of window managers can go on forever, which makes commercial support very expensive. All of these window managers uses their own way to configure things. Even if we just narrow things down to KDE and Gnome, which are the biggest ones, it can still be expensive. Both KDE and Gnome tend to evolve quite rapidly, and different versions behave differently and settings are not necessary located at the same place.

Linux means less support, right? Well, you might argue that “Linux is rock solid” and “things just work.” To some extent this is actually true, once a Linux machine is properly installed (and no new updates are installed), the machine tend to be rock solid. If you take that into the equation, it might actually not be more expensive to support Linux machines, once the initial competence is acquired.

I’d strongly recommend you to read Mr. Paul’s article over at Ars Technica. He brings up some very interesting points that many of us simply never thought of.

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