Archive for the ‘tech’ Category

Create a csv from MySQL output

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Today I got asked to pull some information from a mysql database. Pretty simple, but the one minor catch was that the person asking wanted it in a spreadsheet. Thankfully this is pretty easy with mysql’s built in ‘INTO OUTFILE’ functionality.

select * from users where last_name LIKE "%smith%" order by first_name
INTO OUTFILE '/tmp/result.csv'

This will write the file /tmp/result.csv in a format that is readable by pretty much any spreadsheet program (Excel, OpenOffice, etc). If you have any specific requirements for your file format (say you want tab separate) play around with the options until you get it just right. As you can see you can do anything you would regularly do in a sql query (joins, where clauses, ordering, etc).

And there you have it, one happy person who can access their data in their favourite program

BambooInvoice – Free Online Invoicing software

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

If you do any contract work, you’ve probably had the joy of tracking your hours (if you’re still trying to solve that issue, check out my Project Hamster post) and then creating an invoice of some sort for the client. In the past I have tried a couple of solutions such as a creative Excel spreadsheet or creating a new email from scratch each time. I’ve also checked out the online service Blink Sale, but, never really liked the thought of some other company knowing how much I’m billing my clients and making each month. That, and there was the 3 invoices per month limit for the free version.

This is where BambooInvoice steps in. It’s a FOSS solution that you host on your own server. The interface is great, and installation is simple.


Simple Time Tracking with Project Hamster

Friday, June 6th, 2008

If you’re like me, you frequently need to be able to tell people how long a project took, how much time some bug fixes ate out of the day, or what you worked on the past day. I’ve looked around for a quick & simple app to track my time usage and hadn’t come up with a good match until I recently found Project Hamster. My previous main barrier to usage was laziness and wanting a lightweight program to do this simple task. Hamster makes it dead easy to enter time, add new categories / activities and view simple reports.


RSS: Really Simple What?

Monday, May 26th, 2008

So, I’m sure many of you have heard of RSS before, but may not know the benefits, or if you do, how to set it up. Yet another acronym, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and basically what it will do is allow you to subscribe to the content of a website that has a ‘feed’. Then, whenever this site is updated with new content, you will know right away. Most current browsers (Firefox, and Internet Explorer 7) have built in RSS reading capabilities under names such as Live Bookmarks or something similar. In the top right corner of the address bar you will see an icon similar to the one to the right. Clicking on this will walk you through the process of setting up an RSS feed right in your browser.

There are also many programs that you can download for free to read RSS Feeds. If you are using Firefox (which I highly recommend… I’ll write about this another time), there is a great plugin called Sage that I have used previously. Sage will let you categorize and search through your feeds on your computer nicely. If you are looking for a stand-alone application, something like SharpReader will do well for you. If you are using Linux, I’ve heard that Liferea is a great gtk application with all the basic features you’ll need.

After using numerous applications, I have ended up using Google Reader. Now, you’ll need a Google Account (yup, it’s free) to use their RSS reader, but I’ve found that it is worth it. It’s very quick to process lots of data (on an average day, I’ll read at least 120 headlines, and that number keeps climbing). One major benefit of using Google Reader for me was the fact that since the data is not stored on a computer, you can log in from anywhere and pick up exactly where you left off. So, it doesn’t matter if I’m at work, on my laptop, desktop, or on the other side of the World.

All in all, RSS is a great way to keep tabs on dozens of sites without spending hours clicking through to each one. Most of my family and friends blog or run websites of some sort and it’s great to keep tabs on all of them 🙂 If this has inspired you, feel free to add me to your RSS to stay up to date on the lastest posts here!

Keeping Track of Finances

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Quite a while back, my wife (who happens to run the blog, and I were trying to find a good way to keep track of our savings / chequing accounts. I know there had to be a FOSS program out there that would do the trick. We tried out a number of different options before finally deciding on Money Manager EX.

Some of the criteria we used to end up with our choice:

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Handle multiple accounts
  • Graphical reporting
  • Able to outline a budget
  • Categorize line items
  • Not online (for some reason I don’t trust many people with my financial data, let alone some random website)

Here are a couple of screen shots I borrowed from the source forge project page to give you an idea as to what the interface looks like.


Money Manager: Report Screen

Budget Setup

Money Manager: Account Screen

Creating an Entry

We have found it quite valuable to have a running tally of where we are at, what cheques we have written that we haven’t accounted for (there is a ‘reconciled’ status), and how we’re doing on our budget (how much do I spend on fast food? oh my….).

Unfortunately, it seems like the project is no longer under active development. But, since it meets all of our needs that hasn’t posed an issue yet. There are a couple of odd interface quirks that would be nice if they were sorted out, but nothing that is a deal breaker.

If your looking for something similar, be sure to give Money Manager EX a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised.