Category Archives: Tips

Tips

Google Voice: Grab an extra no. on top of extra no.

Google started sending out invites to the new Google Voice service. If you don’t know yet what Google Voice is, you can watch this video.

But being a freelancer, it is always better to grab an extra no. that will stay put with your business and another number for personal life. At first I got one for myself, got my name in it and felt really happy about it, and later got one for business, got the name in it and is all set for rocking.

Separating the numbers will make things easier for me as I swtich bettween personal and business calls. I can also assign just one phone connection to both the numbers and have full control over the priority of call I take.

If you are traveling a lot internationally, don’t forget to bind your Google Voice number with Gizmo5 and start using the service whereever you go at a fractional cost. You can read more about it here. If you have any more ideas that could help freelancers with Google Voice, please do let me know!

Nitty bitty tip of the week (or month): Save $$$s build your own computer


Unless you are really looking for a cheap, down to earth slow computer, you should consider building your own pc. It used to be a difficult gig, but things have changed quite a lot. You have well written articles, self help videos and a huge community of builders to help you. All for free. I’ve seen a lot of people shying away from building their own computer. Common reasons:

  • What about the warranty?
  • I don’t have time to assemble.
  • I don’t have time to research and order the right parts.
  • I think I lack the knowledge.

Now here’s why I think we (you, me, and other freaks) should build our own computer:

  • Each part has its own manufacturer warranty
  • Branded computers come with cheap parts
  • Branded computers come with unnecessary hardware and software that will make the slow system run even slower.
  • Save hundreds of dollars
  • If you are too busy to do research, visit anandtech.com and grab some of their already put together configurations.
  • No time to assemble? Ask your kid to do it, or spouse.
  • After building your own computer, you get to brag about it in front of friends, colleagues, and blondes

So, assuming you are willing to give a try, here are the steps you can follow:

  • Check out anandtech.com for some pre configured machine specs. This will give you clear idea
  • If you decided to do your own config, start by posting in anandtech forums about your ideal comp. Heres a good place to start
  • Take people’s advice on forums for right brands and specs under your budget
  • Compare prices. Try NewEgg, TigerDirect, ZipZoomFly
  • Order and start reading about how to build a computer
  • Watch this video series
  • Build your own and enjoy!

If you have any problem, post it on anandtech forums. Try at your onw risk 😉

Nitty bitty tip of the week (or month): Free SVN Hosting

It’s painful when you have multiple computers, multiple development environment and shitty synchronization softwares. I’ve used Mozy (backup and sync) for a while now and I have to say, I DON’T LIKE IT! I know a lot of people who do but it never worked for me. Anyways I am not writing this to slander Mozy but rather to talk about a very cool and free svn service out there that really rocks! Earlier I was hosting my own svn service and backing it up with Mozy and after Mozy started giving me nightmares, I decided to use a paid svn service and put all the code on a secure location. I researched a lot on available sub version hosts and turns out that most of them dont really care about your code but your money and stupid service.

Come in xp-dev.com. A free and premium subversion (svn) host from a true developer who is genuinely interested in helping other developers. xp-dev.com provides both free and premium accounts and both are exceptionally good. I tried its free account for few months before shifting to premium account and I couldnt wait but to write about it in the nitty bitty section.

If you are a freelancer or just a developer working on projects at home, go give a shot at xp-dev.com’s free version. They also provide Project management, issue tracking and role based security too.

I know Google alongside a lot other big companies provide free svn to developers with great tools. But they are all for open source and public projects. If you want use svn on private projects make sure to protect it from public access. And for that you need a private svn host and they are not cheap or at least interested in helping you.

Also, If you see any similar svn hosts like xp-dev, do let me know.

Nitty bitty tip of the week (or month): PortableApps.com

You’ve been carrying your photos, documents, project files on a removable portable drive for sometime now. But have you ever thought about carrying the whole development environment? Image if you could carry PHP, Apache, MySQL, Perl, Java, NetBeans and Python environment in your USB Thumb Drive. So that all you have to do is, plug your USB Drive to any computer and have all the environment ready to use, code, debug, deploy etc.

PortableApps.com give you open source and free tools to take your favorite applications and/or environments in a portable drive (USB thumb, iPod, External HDD). So that if you are stuck at your friends place without your work laptop, you can just stick in this USB and get all the files, environment you every wanted?

I currently carry PHP, Apache, MySql, NetBeans, FileZilla and Subversion in my pocket and find it really easy to just plug it to either my work laptop or my friends laptop if I have to work on something urgent. I am also trying to load Visual Studio Express and MS SQL Express on my USB drive.

Nitty bitty tip of the week (or month): browsershots.org

Well how many times dint it happen that we the designers and/or developers had to test our work on different browsers for cross browser compatibility issues. It could be difficult to do so since there are quite a lot of them in different forms and versions. People still use IE6 and some nut cases have already migrated to IE8. Firefox releases a new version every other day and some grand pas’ still want to use netscape 4. Not to forget Safari. Like I said it could be difficult to test out on all these 50+ browsers.

Come in browsershots.org. A neat online tool that shows you how exactly your site looks in more than 50 web browsers with or without flash, javascript, activx, etc. You can also set the resolution of the screen you’d like to view. The premium account at browsershots.org costs about $30 a month but there is free access to guest if they can wait for 30 mins for processing the shot. The guest access could get litre annoying as you are required to extend the timer every 30 mind if you have multiple shots to view.

All in all a nitty bitty pinky tinky tool to capture those boring shots and cry about fixing the never ending cross browser compatibility issues.

A tip for clients: Use browser shots to annoy your developers on cross browser issues. Designers and developers always loose their minds when it comes to cross browser compatibility.

Update: Screw browsershots.org. Use FireFox and get this addon. You can add a lot of browsers to it. Just follow these steps:

To add more than 50 user agents, download http://techpatterns.com/downloads/firefox/useragentswitcher.xml and select “import”! (without the override option!) by Hellman658