how-to

How I record my own conference presentations

At this year's php[tek] conference, I decided to record my own sessions (one on a cluster of Raspberry Pis, and another on tips for successfully working from home). Over the years, I've tried a bunch of different methods of recording my own presentations, and I've settled on a pretty good method to get very clear audio and visuals, so I figured I'd document my method here in case you want to do the same.

How to Build a Simple $50 Standing Desk

Detail of standing desk surface

I'm no stranger to experimenting with my workspace; since I work from a computer for at least 8 hours a day, I try to find ways to prevent RSI and joint pain. I've tried most everything—from über-expensive fancy mesh desk chairs to ergonomic keyboards and vertical mice. But nothing has made as large (and quick) a difference as working from a standing desk.

Tips and Tools for New Homeowners

Note: many of my suggestions are linked to products I recommend from Amazon.com—using these links when you purchase one of them helps me keep this article and site fresh!

In the past few years, I've moved three times; from a dorm room to a two-bedroom apartment, from that apartment to a two-bedroom condo, and from that condo to a house. I'm not claiming to be a moving expert, but the moves have gone very well every time.

Garage full of stuff
It's nice to know that pretty much everything we own fits in a two-car garage (for now!).

The physical move itself is a very small part of migrating to a new place—it's the weeks of work getting 'settled in' afterwards that can make a move a nightmare, or a great experience. The tips, tricks, and tools I recommend below are things that have really helped me make the days and weeks following the move be a great experience.

How to Repair Your Intel iMac — DIY Guide from Lifeisaprayer.com

Over on Lifeisaprayer.com, I posted a detailed tutorial/guide on how to replace the hard drive inside a 24" Intel iMac with an aluminum enclosure (the process is similar on other aluminum iMacs). It's a rather intricate process, so in addition to a few illustrations, I posted a video of the process on YouTube (it's embedded over on Lifeisaprayer.com as well!).

Intel iMac Teardown and Hard Drive Replacement - DIY/Guide

 

iMac - Intel - Guts exposed

Have fun repairing your iMac! (Please be sure to leave comments on the Lifeisaprayer.com post, and not here).

Intel iMac Teardown and Hard Drive Replacement - DIY/How-to Guide

FSCK -y didn't help.
Yeah... that was a no-go.

My iMac's hard drive was recently borked (I was getting node errors and i/o errors when I ran fsck in single-user mode, and I couldn't format and reinstall OS X), so I had to replace it. Rather than spend a few hundred dollars to get the drive replaced, or using an external FireWire drive to boot the iMac, I decided to replace the drive with a larger/faster model myself.

iMac - Guts Exposed
The 24" iMac is large. VERY large. I can't imagine repairing the 27"!!

I used the instructions found on the Amfiteatar website to compile my more condensed instructions here. I won't go into any gory details of hard drive types, speeds, recommendations, etc. I'll simply inform you of my decision to use a 1 TB WD Caviar Black drive (7200 rpm, 32 MB cache). I don't need a ton of storage space on the internal drive, as I have multiple externals for different uses.

Backup Strategy for Mac OS X Using Disk Utility, Carbon Copy Cloner, etc.

A blast from the past! The following article is from one of my first websites, ca. 1999, and was updated a couple times throughout it's history. I am re-posting it here because my old website will be deprecated quite soon.

A few notes before we begin: Since the writing of this article, Time Machine came into being (along with Mac OS X 10.5), and has brought about a revolution in the way I maintain backups: my schema now is to have a local daily Time Machine backup to my external hard drive (I recommend a simple 1-2 TB External USB hard drive), then do a once-a-month DVD backup (stored offsite) of my most important files. For most home/small business users, this should be adequate.

Another revolution in data backup is the idea of backing up 'to the cloud' - with the prevalence of broadband Internet access, and the plethora of options for online storage, many companies offer solutions to online backup that were only dreamt of back in the late nineties. Some solutions I recommend: MobileMe (what I use, but not for everyone), Mozy, BackJack, and JungleDisk. (No, those aren't referral links—would I try pulling that on you?).

Backup Strategies for OS X

A question often asked on the Apple Discussion boards and by my fellow Mac users is: "How/when should I backup my Mac, and what is the best/quickest and most reliable way to do it." This is a complicated question, as there are many different ways one can go about backing up OSX.

There are three basic ways that I would like to cover in this article:

  1. Using Disk Utility to quickly and easily make a complete, bootable backup to an external drive;
  2. Using Carbon Copy Cloner to either (a) do the same thing as Disk Utility, or (b) to clone a certain folder or group of folders (another program that does a great job is SuperDuper!);
  3. Drag-and-drop copy files and folders for a quick backup of important files.

Master the Art of Screenshots - Mac OS X

Mac Screenshots

Having a screenshot of something you see on your Mac can sometimes be priceless, especially if something happens that you want to show someone else, or if you want to email someone a picture of how to do something on their Macs. Fortunately, Mac OS X has a ton of options for taking pictures of the screen, or even individual elements of the screen. We'll get into the basics, and we'll also show you some advanced techniques that many 'power-users' may not know of (yet).

Dealing with Locked Files on a Mac

Quite often, I am asked one of two related questions: 1) "Why can't I delete this pesky file? My Mac says the file is locked, and I can't delete it unless I do something special!" or 2) "Gaa! I can't copy <insert name here> to my flash drive or another hard drive because it's locked—help!"

Locked Trash File - Hold down Option to Delete

Well, I will answer those questions, and much more, after the break.

The Making of SLU for U and SLU for U 2

Note from Jeff Geerling: The following post was created by my brother, Joel, while he was a student at Saint Louis University (which is where I received my bachelor's degree in Philosophy!). I'm reposting his content on my blog since SLU no longer hosts student content on their website. See also: SLU for U (The Original), SLU for U 2 (The Sequel).

To make this little animation, I used an application called Flash (version 4) from a company named Macromedia [note: Macromedia has since been bought by Adobe, who now sells the Flash animation program]. The Flash multimedia technology had become very poplular and nearly standard (Netscape, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc. come with the Flash plug-in preinstalled) on the Internet over the past few years. Besides creating animations like mine, Flash can even be used to create crisp, interactive websites (when used tastefully).