How I Made A Personal Log Of Something

Maybe this will be useful for someone else. It will certainly be useful for me next time around.

Ever since I installed the SSD in my MacBook Pro, I had these weird beach balls (that spinning cursor that tells you the machine is hung on something) every now and then. I had read the blog posts on OWCs website about strange issues with SSDs on the 2011 MBPs, but I didn’t feel that that applied to me. There had to be another fixable reason. But it happened so rarely, it was hard to figure out if there was a pattern. Some days it would happen 2 or 3 times, other days it would be every 5-10 minutes. I wanted a way to record when it happened, so I created a little Beach Ball Log.

There are two tools that helped make this possible: GeekTool for displaying text files on the desktop, and Alfred for giving me a quick way to run a command. Quicksilver, LaunchPad, or any of the other tools for that should work just as well.

So first I created a script extension in Alfred that responded to keyboard shortcut bblog. The script was as follows:

echo “$(date +’%m/%d/%y::%T’) – {query}” >> ~/Documents/bblog.txt

This creates a line in the file every time I run it that looks like:

09/15/11::10:48:02 – was having lots. did disk repair, permissions, plus new efi update

Then I created a GeekTool geeklet that pointed to the bblog.txt file and place it on my desktop. The result was that from anywhere in the system, I could type “CTRL-SPACE bb text to insert” and I would get a line with the current time stamp, followed by text to insert added to my desktop. Here is a sample of whats on my desktop now just before I remove it since the problem is now gone.

Screen Shot 2011 09 19 at 10 57 51 AM

So what was the solution? Simple, I installed the EFI firmware update from Apple last week. All of a sudden the beach balls disappeared. Its like a whole new mac. ahhhh….

How Not To Kill A Mouse

This morning I expected to come downstairs to a nice surprise. Well, I guess if it were what I wanted to see, it wouldn’t be a surprise now, would it? No, what I wanted and what I got were two very different things. What did I get??? Nothin’ McMuffin! Bupkis.

So the other night, I went down into the kitchen to get an apple and I had a surprise visitor there. Growing up, these surprise visitors took the form of ants and palmetto bugs. They were everywhere and the little ant and roach traps were also everywhere. You had to set them up in places where the ants would go, but the dog would not. It was always quite a challenge. The traps would fill up, but there were always plenty more to cover any food that wasn’t protected.

Growing up, I never heard of anyone who had mice in their house (except for that guy who bred them as food for his snake). And here in Amsterdam I don’t know anyone who has seen an ant or roach in their house (unless its slang for a joint). But mice are everywhere. There are 3 or 4 places within 500 meters to buy mouse traps of various types because everyone needs the traps.

Personally I love the plastic ones that easily snap open and close. They snap close onto the mouse (or occasionally your finger) and then they snap open just as easily as you drop the mouse into the trash. But they are a bit harder to find. There is only one place I know of for those and he is out of stock right now.

The more common ones are the traditional wood ones you see in the cartoons. So yesterday I bought a few of them. In fact I bought a few more than I need since I expected to go through them quickly. While the plastic ones are very easily reusable, the wooden traps are a bit too difficult to…um…de-mouse and reset. So the whole thing goes in the garbage.

Last night I set up 5 traps in all of the various places I would expect a mouse to visit. On the kitchen counter where I saw one the other night. In the corner where it ran and hid after it lost the staring contest we had. In the other corner where I saw another one another night (it could have been the same one, they all look the same to me). And two by hole in the floorboards where I THINK they come out. To make them as enticing as possible, I stuffed a bit of ham into the little traps and hoped for the best.

Actually I wanted to sit there and wait for them. I wanted to watch the little traps go down and collect my winnings right away, but I figured a gargantuan human staring at a particular corner of the room might clue them into something bad waiting there. So I turned off the lights and went to bed.

This morning I imagined how many traps I would have to throw away. How many 1.10 euro devices would go straight into the garbage, along with their new payloads. I went to each spot in the apartment where I left the traps the night before and none of them had moved. Maybe the mice took the night off?

And then I looked closer. The little piece of ham that I carefully wedged into the little spot for food was gone. One every single one of the traps. Bastards!!! The mice (or maybe one mouse) went to each trap and ate the ham and managed to not snap the trap. Ohhhh, you make me mad. I need something stickier that requires them to really work at the trap. I think peanut butter may be the answer. I’ll try it today and let you know the results.

How To Wake Up Every Day When I Want To

Alarm clocks have always been a problem for me. I have an alarm clock one day, then it gets left behind in a hotel room. Or I rely on the alarm on the Blackberry and the phone crashes that night (that happened way too often). I try to use the hotel alarm clock and I get AM and PM swapped around. It wasn’t until I had a reliable phone platform as well as an easy to use alarm app that this problem went away. EasyAlarms from Rogue Sheep is that app for me. Its just so damned easy.

I can set an alarm in a few taps, snooze, skip a day, edit. It works every time, it doesn’t have too many features, and it looks great. Why can’t all alarm apps be this good. Check out how I use EasyAlarms in this video:




How To Do a Real Pause in a Batch File On Windows

Ever wonder how to put a 20 second pause into a batch file on Windows? I had that problem today. I was setting up some virtual machines on a virtual machine hosting provider and needed a way to launch 2 virtual machines from a batch file. I knew that the Windows Server 2008 domain controller took 75 seconds to boot, and I didn’t want the member server to start until after the DC was completely up and running.

The command, PAUSE has been available to batch files forever, but it waits for an enduser to press a button before it continues. I want to just wait for a certain time interval. Well, it turns out there is another command available in Windows that does exactly what I needed. The command is TIMEOUT and I think it first showed up in Windows Vista. Add timeout /t 75 and your batch file will wait 75 seconds before it continues to the next step.