Archive for the 'Software' Category

Apr
10

Lose It

During my weight loss I was looking for some App on the Appstore and found this one. Lose It.

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This app can track all calories of your food intake but the nice thing of it is that you can set a goal based on your length and current weight and timeframe and it will calculate how much you need to loose per week.

So with one week left I almost reached my goals, since I started with this app I lost over 17 pounds.

Also nice is you can add exercise which counts negative towards your calories.

I am sometimes amazed on how much calories there is in certain foods i was taking. I basically cut out eating bread a lot and cheese (which is for this dutch guy very hard) and of course reduced my liquor intake by probably 90% With eating less I think we reduced our grocery bill by half on a month by month basis. Sometimes it is hard to keep track of everything especially in the weekends so I decided I can skip a day if I don’t feel like tracking everything. Most important is that I still loose weight.


Dec
31

New Year 2009 and Reflection on 2008

While I am writing this New York is just celebrating New Year, we still have 2 hours to go but its definitely a bit different from the lots of fireworks we have in the Netherlands on the streets, nothing here at all that is the Colorado law.

Tonight me and Christy made lots of food for tomorrow when a couple of our friends and their kids will visit, smokies, spinach artichoke dip, salmon cream cheese tortilla rolls, chocolate fondue, its going to be fun.

A short reflection on 2008…..

On a personal note 2008 probably encompassed two major changes. First of all my company Corporate Express was taken over by Staples Inc. in July of this year. Many changes, some good and some of course a bit sad if you loose a couple of good colleagues and friends who either left voluntarily or where part of the integration restructure process. That said there are many challenges ahead and opportunities with the new company. I am looking forward to 2009 although it will be difficult considering the current Economic conditions in the US.

The second major event in 2008 was probably the sell of Christy’s house and the purchase of my first real house ever. This was both exciting as well as really scary considering we did this in a period, the economy was going down and the house/mortgage financial crisis was really hitting everyone in the US. But with lots of luck and some help we managed to both sell and buy our houses in the same week. Just a week before the big collapse of Lehman brothers on Sept 15 and the Economic and Financial crisis was becoming a major issue.
We are now 2.5 months in our new house and we love it. So much more room for the kids to play and also the view of the mountains and neighborhood are great. The distance to work is about 20 minutes and 15 if I take the toll way.
We are looking forward to 2009 to further enjoy our house and plan to have a real office for Christy in place.

 

So what else sticks in my mind when looking back to 2008, well just a few words with some explanation.

Bailout
Yes the US government decided to basically spend tons of tax money on Financial institutions like Banks and Insurance companies as well as the Car Manufacturers in amounts of 700 billion dollar to prevent bankruptcy and job losses. Not sure if this is really going to help in 2009, I think certain companies will not get enough to survive after all…

Obama / Clinton
Yes for the first time in history this country selected a Democratic Black President. A milestone I believe and a good thing for America and the world after the Bush disaster. It will be though the first years to get back on track with the current financial crisis but with better spending of funds from ending the war in Iraq to internal infrastructure, education and health care projects so job creation can take place  inside this country. I think in a few years the Economic growth will come back. Also remarkable was that Hillary Clinton will take place in Obama’s cabinet after all the mud throwing campaigns during the pre-election period for the Democratic candidate. But yeah that only happens in America right.

Mumbai
The horrifying terror attacks in Mumbai, India are probably the 2nd worst after 911 I can remember. 5 days of terror in several hotels in this capital of India made the world shock and still alert that terrorism is something nobody will ever be prepared for or can protect itself  against completely. Innocent people lost their lives mostly native people from India. Another proof to me that the US should focus more on Afghanistan/Pakistan to destroy any taliban al queda cells hiding in those countries.

Gas cheaper then a glass of beer?
Due to decreasing demand in oil, gas prices have dropped in the US to the lowest levels since years. I gassed up the cars for less then 20 dollars the other day. With 1.48 per gallon, lets say 35 Euro cent per liter, this is even cheaper then drinking a glass of beer in the pub πŸ˜‰

Sport moments?

I don’t think there are a lot of sport moments I remember this year. The European soccer championship did not bring what I expected from the Dutch national team. Also further in Soccer the Dutch teams seem to loose track with other European countries. Olympic Summer Games where ok, but I think we lost to many spots in the finals when it really became important to win some medals.

Change
Probably the most spoken worth after bailout this year was Change. All around the election in November for the new presidency in the US. Change will definitely be needed after the last 8 years of screw up under Bush and to see in which state he left this country. Lets see how much Change Obama can bring to Washington and how fast he can turn the economy back on track.
That’s probably it right now for 2008, lets see what 2009 will bring…


2009 outlook..

Well not sure what to say about 2009 but there are of course always a couple of goals we have.
Ok the obvious is to say to stay healthy with the whole family and to enjoy every moment with the kids and the wife. But here is my personal small list..

1. Loose some pounds….(probably yearly a goal but food is to good in America πŸ˜‰ )

2. Make a trip to the Netherlands in the summer (as I need to spend my vacation time under the new Staples rules this might be an obvious opportunity in August)

3. A bigger LCD tv (nice wish, probably ain’t gonna happen till maybe sales by end of the year πŸ˜‰ )

4. A nice office (well the room is ready, just need to save up a bit for the furniture)

5. Make some trips in the US to maybe Main and California to our friends.

6. Have fun at work with the remaining five folks in our BI team..

7. Have my parents and brother flying in to the US for a visit..

8. Learning Golf this spring/summer (with the new neighborhood golf course, this is definitely on my wish list).
9. Write a bit more on my blog (just too busy with kids to take some time to write)

A pretty long list but we will see next year how far we accomplished that…

 

I WISH EVERYONE A HAPPY AND HEALTHY 2009!!

ARNOLD


Mar
12

Text Snip

I just found this easy to use tool. As SQL report developer I sometimes need to sent my SQL code to our DBA for analysis, copy pasting in an email usually messes up the formatting and copying it first in a txt file like notepad, or programmers notepad and then save and attach it to an email takes too long.

So I found this tool, where you copy paste your code for instance directly from Toad, it generates a URL and you copy paste the URL in your email you sent. The user can then open the code exactly as you copied it no format changes. It also gives a nice drop down on the right so he can select SQL or html or xml depending on the code to see the correct format layout.

Check it out : Textsnip.com

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Feb
05

Photo Editing – Paint.net

As I did not want to spend to much money on tools like Adobe Photoshop, I found this free tool build by some undergraduate. It was intended to replace Microsoft Paint but has grown to be an excellent alternative for Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro.

Paint.Net

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Dec
18

Windows Live Writer

I finally started to use Windows Live Writer for my Blog. With the online WordPress editor, I had some problems to inline my Image right or left with the text wrapping around it. With Windows Live Writer this is just one click of a button.

image It also has several nice plugins available online at its Gallery web blog and plugin site. Check it out yourself.

In this way I can maintain both my  blog posts, pages offline for this blog and my Family blog or other future blogs.

I just added a plugin to Windows live Writer called Polaroid this creates a fancy polaroid picture in your post, below an example of the same image as above but then using this plugin, you can tilt the image and add a caption to it.


Dec
03

Lime Survey or Survey Monkey

So the other day my wife needed to setup a survey for her work. After some investigation I found this open software tool lime survey. Installation took about 30 minutes using php and a mysql database. After that its quite easy to setup your own survey. This software comes with preloaded templates and you can change the colors using style sheets. Further many different question types are possible as well as upload functionality for questions and users. Token support for secure access to the survey as well as automated email and reminder system is possible.The only thing I was not impressed about was the export of the data from standard reports, but if you are a bit handy in PhPmySqL accessing the tables you can pull out the information how you want it.

LimeSurvey

Another solution I looked at is the hosted solution from SurveyMonkey.com. Its basic setup is free and within no-time you have your survey setup. I liked it as it was very easy to use but the basic free version lacks quite a few features like token validation per user base, and some more complex questions setups. I would recommend companies who have fairly short surveys with limited number of questions to use SurveyMonkey. Larger more complex surveys which require a great level of security should look at Lime Survey.

Survey Monkey

If you use any other open source or free survey tools you like, let me know so I can test them and pass them to my wife for her companies survey usage.


Nov
29

Gmail and Live Mail for your own hosted domain name email?

Aren’t you always frustrated how bad your webmail service and tools are from your own host when you host your website somewhere. Well that pain is now all over as both Google with Google Apps and Windows Live Mail offer free mail domain hosting for your own registered domains.

This means you can use your favorite webmail program like Gmail or Live mail (Hotmail) using your name@yourdomain.com email address to send and receive all your email. It is very easy to configure, in my case I used already a hotmail account on live mail and just went to the Admin page where I registered my domain name, it then gives you exact instructions on what to change on your DNS settings for your MX records in your host panel at your hosting provider. Once you have changed the settings, you can validate in the admin panel if this is done correctly.

Then you can setup your email address accounts (up to 500 per domain in Live Mail) and after that just login http://mail.live.com to start using your webmail account.

This is truly a smart step both Google and Microsoft have done to increase usage of their webmail solutions with the mandatory advertising income they can now additionally generate.

Windows Live Mail Setup

Gmail Setup

Did not try Google Apps yet but seems the same easy setup…

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Nov
26

WordPress Admin Style Change using Tiger-Admin & Advanced Admin Menus

During the search of my drop down menu for my template with page/subpages I came across this great plugin Tiger-Admin. The Tiger Admin plugin is using an advanced CSS stylesheet which converts the complete WordPress Admin into a very nice layout with easy to use left Main Admin Side-bar. Its very easy to install, just download, upload to your plugin folder, unzip and activate the plugin in your Plugins menu.

The last version of this project was released in December 2006 v3.0 and can be found on this website from Steve Smith. Excellent work I have to say, did not see anything like this. I hope he keeps up to date with his plugin in case new versions of WordPress are released or hopefully WordPress will include the same Theme functionality for its Admin side so developers can create free Themes for users to download and install.

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As I am a true Firefox user, I don’t really care but this plugin does not work very well with IE, safari should be fine. Also the font-size and text alignment is a bit small so you might want to change some of its CSS style features.

I still was not satisfied with the way WordPress in both Admin and most web templates does not support drop down menu’s. The navigation requires many clicks even in Tiger Admin. Therefore I found another great plugin which works with the Tiger Admin plugin to create a drop down Admin Menu. The plugin is called Advanced Admin Menu’s and was created by Andy Staines. Originally based on early versions from creator Ozh.

By installing the Advanced Admin Menu Plugin the left Tiger Admin Side-bar disappeared, so I had to make some changes to the Tiger-Admin CSS element Body to remove the background image and margin setting used for the default Admin Navigation menu in Tiger-Admin. This actually worked out even better giving back the 100% width as in the WordPress default Admin template, also because Tiger Admin lacks of a function to hide the left sidebar at this moment. I played around with the new Advanced Admin Stylesheet font and margin settings to be the same as Tiger-Admin for better look and feel. I finally enhanced the Tiger-Admin stylesheet footer position as well as some missing Welcome user info in the header.
You can see the final result by clicking on the image included above. I hope you like it, for convenience I have zipped both the Tiger-Admin and Advanced-Admin Menu Plugins for download below in which I have included my stylesheet changes.

Download:

Just upload to your plugin folder, unzip and activate.


Nov
21

eXtplorer File Browser

As my hosting providers panel lacks a function to unzip or zip files direclty on the webserver I was looking for an open source web-base file browser I could install on my webserver. After many trials with php based file browser I found the standalone version I was using in Joomla CMS for one of my websites. This component JoomlaXplorer is a very nice looking, rich-featured web-based file maintenance tool.
Since August 2007 the developer made a standalone version called eXtplorer. Information can be found at this website.

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Features I like:

  • Windows style folder browsing on the left
  • Quickjump setup to favorite folder
  • Direct file view and editor (handy for stylesheets editing in wordpress)
  • Upload, Download features for multiple files
  • FTP view
  • Unzip uploaded archive files directly on the server.

Nov
20

WordPress Installed

For this blog I am using WordPress http://wordpress.org as blog tool. It’s a very flexible software tool and much better then blogger which I used for a long time. It has tons of themes to pick from with easy customization options and you can download various plugins to enhance your blog.
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    Snapshot of http://Wordpress.org

I am still working on adjusting this template so it looks a bit nicer, like the date icon on the post left top and some color font schemes. I will later post some of the plugins I am using and think are very useful to include in wordpress.