Thoughts

Batch File Conversion – OpenOffice to MS

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

I Googled myself into a frenzy attempting to find a solution for ods to xls batch conversion for the Mac. The majority of downloads are for Windows. But then it struck me to try a different Google solution—Google Docs.

  1. In Google Docs, click the “Upload…” button in the left sidebar
  2. Drag the files you want to convert onto the drag and drop area.
    • Choose a collection to put them in (not necessary, but it makes it easier to manage the sudden import of a lot of files)
  3. Click “Start upload”
  4. Once upload process is complete shift select all the files you wish to convert
  5. Click “Download…” in the right sidebar
  6. Choose the file type you want to convert them to
  7. Click “Download” and you’ll have a zip file to uncompress in a few minutes
    • You can even have Google shoot you an email when the files are ready for you

And there you go, a quick easy conversion.

Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

source

Using RSS Feeds

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

I am a huge proponent of RSS feeds, but I often come across people who don’t understand their benefits or ease of use. I love how simply you can create your own customized “newspaper” delivered to you in practically the same manner as your email with just a few clicks of your mouse.

Identifying a Feed

Sites that frequently update their content often have a feed available. There are several ways to determine if a site has a feed. The typical RSS icon is orange with a dot and two curved lines as shown:
Typical RSS Feed Icon
This little icon can often be found within the content of a site, often in the header or sidebar.

A more seasoned RSS feed user will know to find the subscribe link in the address bar of the web browser. Below is an example in Firefox:
RSS feed in Firefox

A close up of the address bar in Safari (the icon is a bit different):
RSS feed in Safari

The Reader

Before diving into the world of feeds, you will need to have a feed reader of some kind. There are readers of all forms and styles, from desktop applications to fully online solutions. Since I make use of Google’s email system, I chose to continue with their services and use Google Reader.

If you have a Google account, you can easily access Google Reader here: google.com/reader

Other great RSS reader options are discussed over on Lifehacker >>

Now What?

Now that you know how to identify a feed, and have a feed reader simply click on the link for the site you wish to subscribe. You will be directed to a page where you can then select your feed reader.

Screen shot of the subscribe page

You will now find content is pulled into your reader, and you no longer have to visit a site over and over to get the latest posts and information.

Test out your new-found skill right now, by subscribing to my site now.

Suggested Feeds

Keep up with your friends
Blogs, Twitter, Flickr, and other social sites have RSS feeds, subscribe to all your pals for a universal site to check

Back up your info
You can keep track of your friends, so just as easily you can subscribe to your own social media streams to back up your data

Get your local weather updates
Just follow the instructions and get customized weather delivered to you >>

Search for a job
You will have to find job sites specific to your needs, but instead of scouring the job boards, it saves so much time and energy when it comes to you

Get the latest info in your industry or hobbies
Just with the job sites, you will need to find those tailored your interests but it will keep you as the one in the know

Track your packages
Sign up for TrackThis and get updates on package locations: usetrackthis.com

I’ve found RSS feeds to be an invaluable tool for any type of information that frequently changes. So just explore your favorite sites and you may find you don’t have to visit them as often as you have been.

WordPress – Featured Articles with Excerpt and Read More Link

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

I’ve been rather busy lately, mostly with web work, so I’ve been manipulating the WordPress template tags with increasing frequency. I often come across an issue that I can’t find the answer to as quick as I like, or in this case at all, so I’m sharing my little code developments with you. It is rather simple, and highly customizable, so use and update it to your heart’s content.

The below code creates, in WordPress, an unordered list of the 5 most recent posted items with your custom crafted excerpt followed by a read more link which can be changed as desired:

<h3>Recent Articles</h3>
        <ul><?php $postslist = get_posts('numberposts=5&order=DESC&orderby=date');
 		foreach ($postslist as $post) : 
 		?>
   	<li><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>">
              <?php the_title(); ?></a> - <?php the_excerpt(); ?> <a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>" class="more">More &gt;&gt;</a>
        </li>
	<?php endforeach; ?>
    	</ul>

Here we have the same general code, but with this the there is a specific category it is pulling from, so you would change the “category=3” to your category’s id number:

<h3>Featured Articles</h3>
        <ul><?php $postslist = get_posts('numberposts=5&order=DESC&orderby=date&category=3');
 		foreach ($postslist as $post) : 
 		?>
   		<li><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>">
                      <?php the_title(); ?></a> - <?php the_excerpt(); ?> <a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?> "class="more">More &gt;&gt;</a></li>
		      <?php endforeach; ?>
    	</ul>

If you just want it to pull the first 55 characters from your entry, instead of a custom made excerpt, use the following:

<h3>Featured Articles</h3>
        <ul><?php $postslist = get_posts('numberposts=5&order=DESC&orderby=date&category=3');
 		foreach ($postslist as $post) : 
 		?>
   		<li><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>">
                      <?php the_title(); ?></a> - <?php the_content('<span class="more">More &gt;&gt;</span>'); ?></li>
		      <?php endforeach; ?>
    	</ul>

So, hopefully you WordPress users out there will find this useful. I’ll post a link to the site I’m currently using this on as an example, once the site is ready for public viewing.

Widgets for Design

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

I’m always looking for ways to improve my work flow as a designer, and I’ve found a few Dashboard Widgets for my Mac that have proven themselves time and again.

Lorem Ipsum Widget

The Lorem Ipsum Widget from g-design.net has been invaluable for my work in print and web. Often for client mock ups I’m in need of some quick placement text, and within a few keystrokes I’ve got just what I need. Try it for yourself >>
If your not a Mac user try: html-ipsum.com

Entities Lookup Widget

LeftLogic’s HTML Entity Character Lookup is a fantastic way to avoid scanning through the list of entity codes. With over 250 character entities this time saver is quite useful for those moments when you can’t remember the valid way to present quotations or bullet points. Try it for yourself >>
If your not a Mac user, don’t worry LeftLogic has other plugins on their site: leftlogic.com

I do wish I could have a third widget on here to round out my collection, but I am still searching for the cure-all to my color woes. Adobe’s Kuler has a nice interface but I don’t enjoy the reliance on an Internet connection without a color picker. I have also attempted to use Color Theory by Jumis Inc., but it needs better integration with the OS. For now I will continue to use ColorZilla for my web needs, and the built in color picker in Adobe’s programs when working on print design.

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