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Category: Problem solving (page 1 of 6)

Easy Access to US, UK Streaming Services From Anywhere

Netflix Canada, Hulu Canada, iPlayer Canada, iPlayer US, Spotify Canada | UnoDNS

I love being from Canada — but due to licensing issues and the imaginary line I live on the wrong side of, I’m blocked from or limited in using streaming media services that my global neighbours rave about. Fortunately for those of us so geographically challenged (or those of you travelling outside the US or UK and missing your favourite music and video streams), there are services out there that try to solve this problem.

The best one I’ve come across so far, in terms of ease of use and quality of delivery, is UnoDNS. Read more

Still Haven’t Filled Out Your March Madness Bracket? Let PickMyBracket.com Do It For You!

Still Haven't Filled Out Your March Madness Bracket? Let PickMyBracket.com Do It For You! | 40Tech

Today is the deadline for most NCAA March Madness brackets — the first game of the second round. If you’ve been invited to participate in a pool or some other sort of friendly competition, you need to get your college basketball stats together in a hurry. It’s a bit of a bear of a project though, isn’t it? Especially if you’re busy, don’t follow basketball like it’s your religion, or statistics make your eyes roll into the back of your head.

Not to worry , though… PickMyBracket.com has come to your rescue! It’s bracket generator algorithm will create a full bracket for you in seconds — and you might even win a “Brand New iPad,” to boot.

PickMyBracket.com was developed by Information Systems students Jerry Potter and Nick Walter at Brigham Young University. The site pulls statistical data on NCAA teams from ESPN and runs comparisons to pick a winner. To make sure everyone has their own bracket flavour, and to keep things interesting, there are random factors you can choose from, as well, such as hotness of coeds, partying reputation of colleges, SAT scores, mascot type, etc.

The idea actually originated with Walter’s father.

“For around the past 10 years he made an excel file that filled out your March Madness bracket for you based off of team’s ranks and some randomness. He called it ‘The Pickalator,’” said Walter. “I thought this would be a great chance to bring The Pickalator to the whole world!”

If you want to participate in this year’s March Madness bracket competitions, but figure you’re out of time or don’t have the know-how, think again! PickMyBracket.com can have you up and running with a good bracket in just a couple of minutes. Get on it now, so you don’t miss out. Who knows… you might win.

What are your thoughts on PickMyBracket.com?

Bye Bye Instapaper, iReader, Readability… Hello Clearly, From Evernote

Bye Bye Instapaper, iReader, Readability... Hello Clearly, From Evernote | 40Tech

Today, I discovered the Evernote Clearly extension. Today, my life changed. If you’re a fan of saving articles for later — or just of reading them in an uncluttered, easy on the eyes format — your life might change too. Clearly brings all of the minimalist beauty of iReader and Readability, does it better, and then sweetens the pot with the ability to send a nicely formatted copy of the article to Evernote with a single click.

It’s awesome. You must try it!

A few screenshots of Clearly in action:

Distraction-free Online Reading with Evernote Clearly | 40Tech  Customize Your Minimalist Blog Post View with Evernote Clearly | 40Tech

Clearly Lets You Read it Later with Single-Click Article Clipping to Evernote | 40Tech  Cleanly Formatted Blog Posts with Evernote Clearly for Google Chrome | 40Tech

Forget Instapaper Easily Send Articles to Evernote with Evernote Clearly | 40Tech  Evernote Clearly Customization, Theme Options | 40Tech

To make things even more fun, Evernote Clearly offers customization capabilities so you can set up your own look and feel, as well as some smooth transition animations, and the ability to preset a tag for the articles you decide clip to read later.

You don’t need an Evernote account to use Clearly, but if Evernote was trying to find a way to get free users to increase the likelihood of needing a paid account, they’ve definitely succeeded.

Clearly is currently available as a Google Chrome extension. Other browsers will be supported soon.

Get Clearly [Chrome]

How to See What’s Happening On Your Site in Real-time Using Your Log File

Have you had a look at your website’s log file lately? No? Let me tell you, once you set your eyes on that thing you’re going to have trouble tearing yourself away. It will show you every file your Apache server is fetching, as it happens. This means if someone is visiting your website, you’ll see “GET nameofwebpage.com/specificpost.html,” and it will show you that as it happens in real time. You can see if the next-random-user of your website bounces, or if their IP address goes on to click on something else, and what that something is, and how long they stay there. Creepy-awesome, isn’t it?

Here’s how you do it:

Baby Simple Instructions on How To Access Your Log File

First, you’re going to need a command-line program. The Windows one won’t do, as that’s just going to give you DOS. I recommend Putty. Go to http://putty.nl and find the download page. Putty is such a simple little file it doesn’t unpackage anything; when you save it that is the install. So be sure to save it wherever you plan on accessing it.

Now that you have Putty, open it. In the box that pops up, type the website you use to get on your site using FTP. At the bottom of the screen, click “Open.”

The black box that pops up is where your log is going to read out. It should say Login. Give it the username you use to login to FTP and, after hitting Enter, the password that goes with it.

With me so far? You’re now logged into your website on the command-line.

Now type: tail -f /var/log/ but don’t hit Enter just yet!

I can’t tell you exactly what to type because I don’t know how it is written on your site. We’re going to get Putty to tell us by using the Tab key. Hit it once and it will automatically complete the line if there is only one option with what you’ve typed so far. Hit it a second time, and it will list all ways that the file you’ve started typing can be completed.

So after tail -f /var/log/ try typing ht and hit tab twice.

Did tail -f /var/log/httpd/yoursite come up?

If yes, sit tight while I catch the others up. If that doesn’t work, backspace back to tail -f /var/log/ and try adding ap and hitting tab twice. Hopefully you’ll see it tab-complete to apache/thenameofyoursite. If there are too many to list, start typing the name of your site, and hit tab once to get it to complete the name of your site. So far, your screen should either say:

tail -f /var/log/httpd/yoursite


tail -f /var/log/apache/yoursite

If you were sitting in the back throwing spitballs, you may be able to type one of the commands right there to get caught up. But still, don’t hit Enter just yet! We’re almost there.

Now when you hit tab the second time, one of the options should have the word “log” in it. If there are a bunch of them with numbers, just type out the simple one without any numbers. You could always copy-paste this exactly, once you know what to type. I’m using the tab-complete technique because it’s faster, it will tell you what to type if you don’t know, and most importantly, you can be sure everything is spelled correctly. The biggest pitfall of the command-line is that one spelling error and not a thing works. By having Putty finish the command with the Tab key, you have Putty spell it out for you.

Once you have the entire command, it will look something like this:

tail -f /var/log/httpd/yoursite_log

Or possibly the same thing, with “apache” instead of “httpd”

NOW, hit Enter.

Is there a bunch of gobbledegook flowing up and off the screen? Congratulations, that’s your Apache server’s log! I like to hit Enter a bunch of times so there’s a big blank space where I am looking. Mostly, what you will see on the screen will be an IP address (who’s checking out your page) followed by the command and file (the webpage they are accessing).

You can use this same process to figure out why something on your site isn’t working. Let’s get to that next.

How to Access Your Website’s Error Log

Say, for example, that you’ve created an .htaccess file and when you try to use it you keep getting a message like “Server Access Error.” There’s a log of that error, and you want to see it to try to unravel why your page isn’t working. To get to the Error Log, do exactly what we did above, all they way up to the part where you are tab-completing to get the name of your site. But instead of choosing the Log file, type an e, hit Tab and, if that doesn’t complete the line, hit it again to see your options. You want the one that says Error. So you’re here:

tail -f /var/log/httpd/yoursite …[Tab] [Tab]

or conversely,

tail -f /var/log/apache/yoursite …[Tab][Tab]

Once you have the full command, with error at the end, Hit Enter. It should show you the most recent error messages. Again, if you want to trigger the error again (by doing whatever is causing the error, in another window), hit Enter a bunch of times to create some space so you’ll see the right thing as soon as it pops up.


 A few tips:

  • Unlike MS Windows, this land is case-sensitive. If you capped something that shouldn’t be, or vice versa, it’s not going to work. Using tab-complete will insure you have the right case.
  •  In the command-line, spaces matter. If you added one or took one out, your command will fail.
  •  If you want to run a command you already ran, hit the Up key to scroll to it.
  •  To copy something to paste it elsewhere, you need only select it. Selected text in Putty is copied automatically.
  •  To paste something into Putty, hold down both mouse keys at once.
  •  If your log isn’t at tail -f /var/log/httpd/yoursite or tail -f /var/log/apache/yoursite try reading your Apache configuration file.
  • If your server isn’t run on Apache, this probably won’t work for you.
  • Want to see both your log and any errors at the same time? Type this: tail -f /var/log/httpd/fyoursite_{error,log} …or whatever tab-complete has offered you, plus {error,log}.

Help! How Do I Get Out of This Thing?

If you want to get out without closing the window, press CTRL + C and it will take you out of the log and back to your command prompt.

I’ve tried to make this baby-simple for folks who aren’t generally comfortable on the command-line. I hope it helps!

App of the Week: Easily Find What’s Hogging Space on Your Hard Drive with Space Sniffer [Windows]

Easily Find What's Hogging Space on Your Hard Drive with Space Sniffer | 40Tech

Every once in a while you try to download or install something, only to be told by your impertinent machine that you don’t have enough space. You try and try to resolve the issue, but, for the life of you, can’t find the files that are hogging up your hard drive. Everything seems accounted for. You’ve even emptied your Recycle Bin and cleared your temp folder, but all you get from your computer is some digitized, maniacal laughter — or maybe that’s just me.

Potential crazy aside, there is an easy and very handy free tool that you can use to smack some sense into your Windows PC. It’s called SpaceSniffer, and it will help you find and destroy what’s eating your computer’s storage space. You’ll probably be surprised by what you find.

I’ve tried a few different HDD analyzing tools. Many of them are ugly and not very fun when it comes to usability, and they are usually packed with features that you probably don’t need, because they take away from your singular goal: to find and delete what is keeping you from getting that new file or program on your machine.

SpaceSniffer | Easily Find Out What's Taking Up Space On Your Hard Drive

SpaceSniffer’s interface gets to the point. Every button has a point, and the display is clean and easy to understand — in it’s simplest form, the bigger the block, the bigger the file. There are a few simple animations that happen as the files populate, or when you double-click to zoom in on a folder or block, but they don’t distract or have any major impact on speed. If you’re in a hurry, though, you can decrease the graphics refresh rate in the Configure/Effects panel (or remove the animations completely in Configure/Colors). It won’t be as pretty, but it will be faster.

Basically, what SpaceSniffer does is go through your folders and analyzes how your disk space is being used, then presents it in a dynamic grid. From there, you can drill down into folders, tag and filter files to get a more specific look, and use the Windows context menu by right clicking to open folders or get right to the deleting part. You can even navigate during the scanning process, and SpaceSniffer will react to file system events (like clearing your Recycle Bin or deleting a file) to always stay in sync.

There are a few other tips and tricks such as printing customized reports and creating batch files for automation, but chances are you won’t really need them — if you do, check out the Tips and Tricks page of the SpaceSniffer website. You can also get a full list of the features here.

I have to tell you: I love this program. I used it to clear a whopping 50GB of space from my hard drive. 50 frickin’ gigabytes!! Of course, I immediately cut that down by half after installing the free-to-play MMORPG Age of Conan… but that’s another story. Bottom line: 50GB, man! I found files that made no sense, a bunch of space taken up by the mysterious $Recycle.Bin (even though my Recycle Bin was empty), and decided that, since I never use Hibernate in Windows, there was no need for me to allow the OS to reserve 4.5GB for it. I turned that off…

Check Out These SpaceSniffer Videos:

Running a Simple Scan


 File Tagging


SpaceSniffer is a portable program that plays nice with your machine, and doesn’t clog up your registry. Download it here, and see what’s taking up space on your hard drive.

SpaceSniffer | Uderzo Software