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

For a quite a while I’ve been into the whole GTD movement. I must admit that I never got around to read the actual book which started the whole thing, but I have read a lot about GTD.

Until recently I used a GTD-plugin to OmniOutliner, which worked quite well. However, I was tired of having to have OmniOutliner running all the time, so I started looking for alternatives. Since we currently live in the ‘Web-based era,’ I looked around for some Web 2.0 GTD web-app. As it turns out, there’s a couple of them, but the one I really liked was Simple GTD. This software is a really clean Web 2.0-looking web-app with a simple user interface. First time you visit the site, you just create you user account, and you’re set. Now you can just start adding you items.
Simple GTD Screenshot
If you’re curious about how Simple GTD works, take a look a this screencast.

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

Many Mac owners are probably not aware that there is an excellent way to store passwords in OS X. In this how to guide, we will tell you everything about why you should use this feature, and how you can start taking advantage of it today.

We have written about how to secure your data with Apple OS X before. But what about your passwords? You could put them in an encrypted file, but there is a certain amount of effort involved with this. Every time you want a password you have to unlock your encrypted disk, and open some text file. Post-it With PasswordsChances are you will tire of that, and then you’d be back to writing your passwords on little post it notes. Or even worse: you’ll start choosing passwords that are easy to remember. This is one of the cardinal mistakes when trying to live securely. Memorized passwords are usually the worst passwords; simple, easy to guess and likely to be reused. How many people are reading your email right now because you choose your high school sweetheart’s name as your password?

There is a much better way to store passwords securely on the Mac: Keychain Access IconApple Keychain. The Keychain comes built in with your OS X operating system. If you are aware of it, you may think that its only function is to store your Safari and Apple Mail passwords. It can do much more than that.

Keychain encrypts all your passwords so that they can be stored securely, and yet the keychain is fast to use and organizes all your passwords to make them easy to find. Keychain is more secure than post-it notes, and much faster to access than a disorganized encrypted text file somewhere on your hard drive. Ultimately, Keychain can make your online experience much safer. You will be able to choose very tough passwords, and yet you will only need to memorize a single master password: your keychain password.

Here’s how to add any password for any account to your Keychain.

How to Add Any Password to the Keychain

  1. Open Apple Keychain. You can do this either by spotlighting for ‘keychain’, or by locating the ‘Access Keychain’ icon in your utilities folder.
  2. Selecting New Password Item… on the File menu.Hit Apple+N, or select ‘New Password Item’ from the File menu.
  3. Enter a good name for your password item. This will be the most important tag for finding your password item later, so make sure you pick something sensible. If the password is for a website, it’s often useful to put the address of the site in the name field.
  4. Enter your account name.
  5. Key Icon to Open the Generate Password SheetType in a password of your choice. You may click the key icon to the right of the Password field to open up Keychain’s built in password assistant.
  6. If you need a copy of your password immediately, select ‘Show Typing’ to reveal your password.

Yep, it’s that easy. Here’s an example:

Screenshot of the New Password Item sheet being filled out.

Now lets look at how to get the password back once you have stored it.

How to Get the Password You Need in Three Easy Steps

  1. Open Apple Keychain, by spotlighting for ‘keychain’ or by locating the ‘Access Keychain’ icon in your utilities folder.
  2. To search for a key, enter the Keychain Item Name or the Account name in the search box in the upper right corner of the program. When you can see your password in the list, just double click it.
  3. To see your password, check ‘Show Password.’ You will be asked for your keychain password. Unless you changed this master password, it will be the same as your login password.

Here’s the password we stored in our example:

Keychain displaying a stored password.

If you want to be able to access your passwords even faster, you can go into Keychain’s Preferences and check ‘Show Status in Menu Bar’. This adds a padlock in the Menu Bar. Clicking on the padlock reveals a menu that does not only allow you to reveal your keychain quickly, but also gives you a convenient ‘lock screen’ feature.

As you can see, getting to any one password is easy with Keychain. And even then, the passwords are protected and require your master password for display. You can have a unique password for every website you visit if you so wish, safe in the knowledge that if a password does come out, your other online activity will be unaffected.

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

Once in a while it happens. You know what I’m talking about, that ‘wow’-experience when you try out some new software.

This happened to us a couple of weeks ago. We were looking for a way to keep track of the server utilization. We needed to find out the usage during peak hours, to determine if it was time to upgrade to new hardware or buy another server soon or not.

After a bunch of hours googling and searching the Gentoo forum (guys, we’re still friends, right?), I found a thread that discussed this exact problem. After looking through a couple of the applications listed, I found it. The answer to all my problems was spelled Cacti.

Cacti is simply a web-based SNMP-client that uses RRDTool to generate nice graphs. Sounds quite simple, right? Why am I so impressed and excited? Because Cacti is really SNMP made easy.

I’ve been looking at similar solutions before, but everything I found felt very Beta / “Hack it to make it work on your system.” Cacti on the other hand was really easy to install and configure. It probably took me about 10 minutes to configure it for my needs, and then another 10 minutes to get a local SNMP daemon to run (even though this is not necessary).

Cacti requires the following:
– Apache (might work with other webservers)
– RRDTool
– A crontab-job

After configuring the database-settings for Cacti, you just add a crontab to execute a given PHP-page (poller.php) on a given interval (5 minutes), and you’re set. Now you can start adding your other SNMP-enabled devices to your Cacti page.

Screnshot of a site running Cacti
One of the demo-sites listed on

So let’s say you have this cool device that supports SNMP, but you don’t really feel like writing a custom template for the device. Well, just head over to the Cacti forum and search for the device. Chances are you’ll find that someone already wrote a template for the device. Take a look at the forum and you’ll find that people have written templates for all kinds of random stuff.

Things that we use Cacti to monitor:
– CPU usage
– Memory usage
– Network usage (both servers, routers and APs)
– Individual daemons (Apache, MySQL etc.)
– Laser printers (to monitor toner level)
– UPSes (with a plugin to get info from NUT)

Some of our graphs:

CPU usage in Cacti
CPU Usage when got Slashdotted

Traffic usage in Cacti
Bandwidth status on one of our routers

Toner status in Cacti
The status of my HP Color LaserJet

It’s very convenient to just browse into Cacti to get a quick overview of your network/server utilization. In addition to that you can also select what specific time-span (daily, weekly, monthly etc.) you want to see. I love it.

If those things listed aren’t enough, just head over to the additional script-page where you find tons of other script for other purposes. By default, Cacti comes with templates for the most common SNMP-setups.

So did we need to upgrade our server? Nope, as it turned out, we were doing fine.

By the way, due to security reasons you might want to disable the guest account in cacti.

Update 1: As the Cacti Developer Tony Roman points out, regardless if you use Cactid or not, you will still need a crontab job. The article previously stated that if you use cactid, you won’t need a crontab job, which was wrong.

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

We’ve finally opened our bank account. Now we need an accounting system. Since we have little or no intention of doing any accounting ourselves, we need something that both our accountant and we can easily access.

Naturally, my first idea was to open a Quickbooks Online account. Looking at the costs; $9.95/month for the first 3 months, and then $19.95/month, it was reasonable. Everything online. Easily accessible for both me, Alex and our accountant. It can even communicate with our bank. I looked at some of their interactive demos, and it looks really good.

So why didn’t we sign up right away? Well, looking a bit closer, I discovered something unexpected. Quickbooks Online ONLY SUPPORTS WINDOWS 2000/XP WITH INTERNET EXPLORER. Seriously? What kind of web-developer creates an online service that is platform dependent? That defeats half the purpose of having the service web-based. Their recommendation for Mac/other users is to use Virtual PC or other Windows emulator. Are these guys for real?

To make it even more funny/sad, they do offer their ‘offline’ software for both Mac OS and Windows. So they can apparently write a Mac OS application, but cannot make their web service platform independent.

At this point I don’t know what system we’ll settle with. A web-based accounting system would be to prefer, but it needs to be platform independent (since Alex and I use Mac OS, and we don’t know what our accountant will be running). I’ve been looking at both Gnucash and TurboCASH, which are two Open Source applications, but neither of them are web-based or support multiple users.

The search goes on. If you have any suggestions, please let us know.

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

The other day I decided to buy myself a Wireless Mighty Mouse after being a loyal Logitech customers for years. I’ve always loved Logitech’s mouses and keyboards, but I’m sick of their lack of support for Mac and Linux. Therefore I ordered a Mighty Mouse from Apple. So far the mouse works fine, and I really like the fact that you can turn it off with a simple switch underneath, in contrast to Logitech’s MX900, where I had to remove the battery every time I put the mouse in my bag (to avoid having the laptop wake up).

Configuring your Mighty Mouse. The first thing that bothered me after installing the drivers for the mouse was that the right-button was not activated. This was a simple thing to fix: just change the mapping in the “Keyboard and Mouse” in “System Preferences.” When doing this I also realized that I could re-map all the buttons on the mouse to different applications. This lead me to think about how much it bothers me to have to go and right-click on the iTunes icon and select “Next Track” all the time. Why can’t I map one of the keys to switch track?

I knew I had a set of apple-script that I used with HID eFiddler to control iTunes with my Logitech diNovo. One of them told iTunes to switch to the next track – perfect! I tried to make that one to execute when I pressed a button. This didn’t work, since the Mouse-config only supports App-files to bind with a button. IconSo I opened the Script Editor and saved it as an Application and voiala! I could now bind one of my buttons to switch track. The great thing with this is that it works regardless of what application you’re working in, since it’s an application that launches. Sure, there’s a bit of delay (<1 sec), but it works.

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