Posts Tagged ‘web service’

Source Control with Git

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

I’ve been using version control for various projects for quite a while now. Basically, it lets you (and your co-developers) track your changes, who added what, merge conflicts, as well as going back in time and reverting your code base to its previous state.

Typically (in Subversion and CVS for example) you will have a central server which all the developers check their code in to. For a project not too long ago I was required to learn git, a distributed version control system. There were a number of reasons for doing so, but the most important (well, in my opinion) are: (more…)

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.


Faster DNS lookups with OpenDNS

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

So, first off, what is DNS and why do you care if it’s fast? A crash course in dns is that it changes a nice, memorable name like, oh say, to it’s actual IP address ( in this case). Think of it as flipping through the phonebook to find out somebody’s phone number.

Now, as you are browsing the web sometimes you may notice that it can take quite a while for the page to initiate a connection with the remote server. This can sometimes be caused by a slow response from a dns server so it takes a while for your browser to figure out who to ask for content. Imagine you’re running a server and you are sending out a few thousand emails an hour, as well as pulling in content from multiple sources, and doing reverse lookups on numerous IP addresses. Any slight delay will add up to huge latency over time, and DNS lookups can be quite costly (time-wise).


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!


Saturday, May 24th, 2008

As some of you may have noticed, there’s a “What am I doing?” list of mini-posts on the left part of the blog. These are coming from a web-serivce called Twitter. There are a number of ways you can use their service to keep your friends udpated with what you’re up to right now. First, you can use their form on the website, but that would mean you would have to log into the site each time for just a quick update. Another option is to get a Twitter client (I’m using gtwitter on Ubuntu, but there are clients windows, linux and Mac OS-x) for quick posts, and to keep tabs on your friends. You can also set up twitter as an IM friend, so you just msn, or gTalk their address and it updates your status. Apparently you can also text from your cell phone to update as well. That makes it pretty slick to be able to update on the go wherever you happen to be! Lastly, they have an API that you can tie into if you feel like doing a bit of coding. I’ve heard of people writing server-monitoring apps that will post to twitter on certain events. The server admin then adds the server as a friend (wow, that sounds lame) to stay up to date on what’s going on. Some other trendy, web 2.0 sites use twitter as well. Remeber the milk, an online To-Do list will tweet you when you have items that are coming up as due. It’s pretty neat to see sites tieing together like this to provide added value. It’s not all roses though. I’ve just started using the service recently, and have experience a fair bit of down time. Hopefully they are working on this at the moment, and trying to make things more stable. Also, you’re limited to 140 characters. This keeps your messages short & sweet, so I haven’t noticed this as a major limitation yet. Check it out, and let me know if you start tweeting!