chris barr

Photo/Dev/Design

Hiding Junk You Don’t Care About on Facebook

If you’re like me, you have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  Some things people post are great and worth your time, but there’s an increasing amount of stuff you just don’t care about in the least.  For me, this list includes the following:

  • Baby photos & parents updating on what their baby just did
  • political issues
  • Husbands & wives talking about how awesome their spouses are
  • Live updates of sporting events currently playing on TV
  • Facebook shares, likes, product placements, claiming of offers, etc.

Lucky for me (and you) there’s a pretty handy way to hide any and all Facebook posts that contain words related to these subjects!  Enter the Google Chrome plugin Unwhatever Me – download it!  Once you have it, all posts that contain words you don’t want to see will be replaced by an image of something awesome you’d rather be looking at, like cats or robots or cakes.

Here’s how I’ve got it set up.  First, go into the settings and delete any of the replacement content feeds, the defaults are no good.  Instead replace it with the current best images from 500px – a pretty awesome photography site.  The URL for the feed is http://feed.500px.com/500px-best

Next, update your word list.  Here’s all the words I block, and I’ve even broken them up into categories for you! Each word or phrase should be separated by a comma, and the plugin will look for these words in the post body and in the comments of a post!

Baby Stuff

year old, so adorable, our family, just learned to walk, years old, month old, months old, so adorable, pajamas, eating solid foods, crawling, so cute, is precious, is too cute, look at those cheeks, cutest baby ever, newborn, and mommy, looks like dad, toesies, just like mom, looks like mom, mother and, father and, cute baby, can’t wait to meet, gorgeous baby, infant, new addition to the family, first ballgame, day old, bundle of joy, birth, ultrasound, baby feet, lbs oz, toddler, carriage, cradle, gave birth, little one, sonogram, preschool, first day at school, gerber, wait to meet him, wait to meet her, little gift, pregnancy, born today, now a father, first birthday, grow up so fast, baby boy, baby girl, 1st birthday, is growing up, diaper, diapers, tiny toes, all snuggly, binky, pacifier, bib, onesie, sockies, gerber, such an angel, what an angel, little angel, little princess, daycare, tantrum, won’t stop crying, is finally napping, first steps, carseat, sweet little baby, weeks old today, months old today, Big boy, bath time, little girl, little boy, he is adorable, she is adorable, little munchkin, too cute

Spouse Brag

best wife, best husband, best hubby, amazing wife, amazing husband, amazing hubby

Sports

auburn, roll tide, war eagle, BCS, touchdown, gators, LSU, Mississippi state, florida state, Aggies, Aggie’s, NC state, Texas A&M, bama, football, baseball, basketball, watching this game, watching the game, to overtime, SEC, ACC, NCAA

The Dumbest Possible Stuff

that moment when, yolo, like if you, share if you

Facebook Annoyances

Share this photo and, claimed an offer from, sponsored post, · Sponsored, Games your friends are playing, Suggested Post, RELATED POST, shared, AT&T American Idol

That’s all the words I use to block by, but occasionally something I haven’t thought of will slip through and I have to make changes. Got any other words to add to this list? Let me know!

Mix ’09 Session Videos

I just got back from the Mix ’09 conference in Las Vegas, and it was so much better than I expected! For being a Microsoft sponsored conference mostly focusing on .NET and other MS technologies, there was about 50% Mac users there and most of these people were designers. It was a really nice mix (haha?) of designers and developers. I’ve got some photos from my trip up here on Flickr.

I think one of the best things they do is put up ALL the session videos online for free! There’s some really valuable information in these!
http://videos.visitmix.com/MIX09 (also you can view past years MIX sessions at http://videos.visitmix.com )

Here’s some highlights I’m going to recommend:

  • Web Form Design – absolutely one of the best sessions I attended. Watch this video! He talks about why forms suck and what we as designers can do to help the process along. Very very well done and extremely informative. As soon as this session was over I went and bought the speakers book.
  • The Way of the Whiteboard: Persuading with Pictures – Anotehr great session, but not necessarily directly related to web design. It’s on how to get ideas out of your head and communicate them properly to people via a whiteboard of napkin.
  • Measuring Social Media Marketing – If you or your company does any kind of social media marketing, this is a great one.

The following sessions I did not attend, but they seem great:

And finally, for any other ASP.NET or Visual Studio users, These are somre great previews of what’s coming soon!

Restoring from a Time Machine Backup

laptop-osx-disc
It’s usually a good idea to wipe off your hard drive and start fresh once every year or so, regardless of what OS you run. In the past it’s been a thing I’ve dreaded mostly due to the huge time commitment involved. My process before was to:

  1. Make sure all important files were backed up (1 hour minimum)
  2. Wipe the hard drive and re-install OS X (1-2 hours)
  3. Reboot and install OS updates (~30 minutes)
  4. Copy all the backed up file back onto the machine (~1 hour)
  5. Install all software needed from installation disks and the web (3-4 hours No thanks to Creative Suite…)

Needless to say, that’s pretty much an all day event. It involved so many steps that were spaced out just enough so that you couldn’t really leave and get anything done. It can also cause a lot of mental stress because you’re always worried with “Did I remember to back up my _____???” In the end, it was worth it though, I got rid of all kinds of junk that had built up and I ended up with a faster machine that’s no longer bogged down.

Enter Time Machine. I began to use this last year and haven’t looked back yet. For those that don’t yet know, Time Machine is Apple’s brilliant and easy backup solutions. You just designate another hard drive for backups, and once an hour it makes a copy of all the files that have changed. Because of this I have pretty much everything I’ve worked on since the beginning of 2008 – and multiples copies of it.

For those curious, I choose to trust my data with a Drobo, which is like RAID for dummies. I’ve got two redundant 1 Terabyte drives – I feel my data is safe.

One of the best new features in OS X was the ability to use that Time Machine backup as a way to restore your computer to a previous state. This is perfect for you if your hard drive crashes, or even if you’re having problems. My initial thought was that if I was having problems, wouldn’t restoring from Time Machine just restore the problems as well? In short, no. Time Machine only backs up your user data, no system files are backed up and noting that can be re-generated will be backed up (things like caches and your spotlight index).

Recently my Macbook Pro was feeling pretty sluggish. Videos didn’t play smoothly, applications took forever to load, and importing and browsing through my photos in iPhoto was painfully slow. It was time for a clean start. Lucky for me, Time Machine removes the majority of the steps I listed above. Basically all that needs to be done now is:

  1. Wipe the drive, install OS X
  2. Restore from Time Machine
  3. Install OS updates

Now this isn’t a quick process, but it’s no longer a thought intensive, worrisome, all day process. So if you’re in a similar situation to mine and you’re already using Time Machine, lets get started! Follow the jump to read more.

time-machine-1 First, you obviously need to make sure you’re using Time Machine. I’ll assume you know how to do this already, but go ahead and make one last backup just to be sure you have the most recent version of all your files. Next, insert your OSX install disk, open the installer, type in your password and your computer should restart and boot from the CD. Go ahead and unplug your Time Machine drive for now, just to be safe.

time-machine-2

Select your language, and then before continuing, go up to the Utilities menu and select Disk Utility. In the Disk Utility, select your hard disk on the left (not the hard drive, the actual disk). On the right, click the Erase tab. You could just click the Erase button right here, but when I erase a hard drive I want to be sure I’m actually erasing the data and not just the index. Your choice, but I’d recommend this next step for thoroughness.

time-machine-3Click the Security Options… button, and a pane will slide down with some secure erase options. Select Zero Out Data. If you’re really paranoid, or work for the DOD, select one of the other options. Hit OK, and now ask yourself if you have really got everything you need off the hard drive, there’s no going back after this. Take a deep breath and press Erase.

This part may take a while since it literally goes over your entire hard drive and writes Zeros on every sector. I’ve got a 160GB drive in my Macbook Pro and it took about an hour or two.

time-machine-4Now is a good time to go run some errands, get some lunch, or do the laundry. Once this is done, close out the Disk Utility and continue with the standard OS X installation. I highly recommend a custom installation, be sure to not install languages you don’t speak, and printer drivers for printers you don’t own and will never own. Now is a great time to get to that ironing you’ve been meaning to do.

time-machine-5
After OS X finishes installing you will be presented with the migration assistant. Plug in your Time Machine drive, and select to transfer your data from the Time Machine drive. Select which drive to transfer from, and then select what dat you want transferred. Usually you’d want to restore all your data, so I’d say just go with that. This part may take a while to calculate how much will be restored, so just wait a few minutes and then continue when it lets you.

time-machine-6If you haven’t caught on on LOST, now is a great time. I had about a years worth of backups, and it took around 2 hours to restore completely, just enough time to re-watch that season 5 premiere! Once that finishes, just enter in your information and that should do it. You now have a fresh install of OS X, but will all your data just as before!

First things first though, head up to the apple menu and select Software Update to make sure you’ve got all the latest updates. Install them, restart, and check again. Some updates require others first, so you may get a new set of things to update after the first round of updates. That’s it, you’re done!

time-machine-7
Something to keep in mind though is that Time Machine does not back up anything that your Mac can re-build itself. This includes things like your Spotlight index, caches, and your Mail index. The first time you open Mail, you will probably see something like the image below. No big deal, but it’s just something to be aware of. The same thing goes for opening programs for the first time, it’s going to ask you if you’re sure you want to do that since it’s the “first” time it’s been opened on this fresh system.

Hope that was helpful to someone. I tried this process without knowing for sure how it would work, and it turned out to be exactly how I imagined it would be – easy.

(EDIT 1/31/09) – After doing this restore and using my computer for a few days I noticed that Time Machine was no longer doing regular backups! Turns out that for some reason Time Machine is set to Off be default after an install of OS X. Be sure to go into the preferences and turn this back on to continue backing up your data!

Flash Drive Evolution

harddrive1956

I’m constantly amazed by how disk storage is constantly growing larger, yet takes on a smaller form factor at the same time. Take a look way back in 1956 when IBM made the worlds first hard drive called the IBM 305, a 5 Megabyte disk that actually had to be transported via forklift and airplane! It weighed in at just over 1 ton and cost $160,000! Today 5MB of space is hardly enough to store a single song or photograph. It’s just a tiny amount to us today, but back then it was revolutionary.

Several years ago I purchased a 256MB flash drive that I could keep in pocket for about $20-$30. This is over 50 times the storage at 1/8000th the price of IBM’s first hard drive! Again a few years later I spent another $20-$30 and bought a 1 Gigabyte flash drive for a similar price, and roughly half the physical size. When compared to IBM’s original, this has 200 times the storage!

I usually use my flash drives to transfer my music from my home to my work computer, or share photos with friends. All of these take up a considerable amount of storage, so I decided it was time for yet another upgrade. I had heard about this awesome little KingMax 8GB flash drive that’s roughly the size of a paperclip and only cost me $12 + shipping. To top all of that off, it’s completely washer/dryer safe as well!

We’ve really come a long way in storage. Check out my USB flash drive heritage.

newusbdrive1 newusbdrive2