It’s a Ham Radio Contest Weekend

For the last couple of years, my travel and work schedule have really taken a toll on one of my favorite hobbies. I got my amateur (ham) radio license in 1994 while stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ. Ham radio is kind of like the original geek hobby. Before computers, before cell phones, before video games the techno-geeky crowd congregated around the ham radio hobby.

There’s something pretty special about building a radio from a pile of parts and stringing a couple hundred feet of wire out through some trees and being able to carry on a conversation with people half way across the country or half way around the world. Even though today the vast majority of radios are commercially built and there are as many antenna designs as stars in the sky it seems, the magic of being able to fire up that radio, tune through the frequencies and have the possibility of talking to another ham in a country you’ve never heard before is pretty special.

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Off-line Blog Posting Software

These last few posts have been created with MarsEdit for the Mac. As a general rule I don’t like using web-based editing tools as my primary method for writing posts. Once I switched my blog over to WordPress a few months ago, I decided to look for an application that I could use to manage my blog. I read several reviews and blog posts talking about different options and finally settled on MarsEdit. It seemed to be the best organized and have the best feel of any that I tried–so I purchased it.

After completely screwing up the formatting of a couple of posts, I realized that it doesn’t convert the line breaks that I’d inserted into its editor window into HTML paragraph tags. Sure it gives you a combo box at the top to insert “markup”. Guess that what does….yep, you guessed it, it inserts html <p></p> around what you have selected. What is up with that?!? I might as well code the silly post by hand in TextEdit or write the thing in Dreamweaver. At least Dreamweaver will write the basic HTML code for you.

Those of you that read my blog (yes both of you) might be saying “But you’re a web developer. You know HTML. Quit your griping”. You’d be correct in those statements. My issue is that I shouldn’t HAVE to write my own HTML. If you market something as a tool to publish to a web site (blogs included), it stands to reason that you should include the functionality to convert regular typed text into HTML so it would be displayed correctly on the web.

I very well have wasted my $39 or whatever the cost of the program was but I’m seriously considering dumping MarsEdit and looking for something else. I am going to invest a little time to see what kind of support forums they have. So far I have not taken the time to do that, so my rant may be premature.

Anyone have any recommendations for a well-designed Mac application for managing a WordPress blog?

My Local Web Development Environment Overhaul Pt. 6 – Version Control System

If you’ve been doing development very long, chances are you have had at least one “OH CRAP” or maybe even it’s big brother “OH S…” moments when you realized that you’d just deleted something you can’t get back, overwrote some bit of very complex code or done some similar bone-headed thing that wound up causing you a lot of pain. Had you had a good version control system in place and operating, you’d not have needed to uttered either of those phrases.

At their most basic, version control systems are nothing more than a historical record of every change made to the files that are contained in them. Now, most modern systems have many more functions that just that, but at the core, that’s what they are designed to do–make it possible to recover historical versions of various assets.

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Living the “Inbox Zero” Way

A few weeks ago I read a series of articles titled “Inbox Zero – Action Based Email” on the 43Folders web site. I had been looking for a better way to keep up with all the things that I needed to do and had happened upon the Todo application for iPhone as discussed in a previous post. That led me to the online task server named ToodleDo which I started using heavily after doing a “brain dump” of all the things running around in my head that I needed to do.

For the lasst two weeks I’ve been able to successfully maintain 0 messages in the Inbox folders of my 3 main email accounts. I’m definitely not “there” yet with the whole Getting Things Done method of managing what you need to do, but I do feel like this is an important baby step.

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