Jim Brown's Home Page

McGrath Course

If you are looking for the class page of a course I teach at the McGrath Computer Learning Center at USCA, use these links: Windows 10 class or File Management workshop or PowerPoint workshop. Updated: 2016-08-29 08:35

Blog

I'm trying to get back to regular blogging. To do so, I'm going back to my Wordpress blog instead of posting here on my home page. The posts below will be left for reference. Posted: 2017-09-18 11:52

Ad Blockers

I use a hosts file to block domains from which ads are served. (If you want to know how to do this, go to this page.) In the past few weeks I've seen a new response from some web sites that pop-up a window that asks to be white-listed or to pay a fee to continue to read. Guess the site owners are tired of not getting their ad revenue. Can't blame them.Posted: 2016-12-02 09:14

Presidential Election

The 2016 presidential election is a few months away. What a choice we Americans have. A conniving, dishonest liberal in Hillary Clinton or a conniving, dishonest, shallow thinker in Donald Trump, who I am not sure even knows what a conservative or liberal is. I'll probably sit this election out. I hate the fact the Clinton may get to appoint several Supreme Court justices, but I think Trump would lead us into war, either internal or world. He really does have the temperament of a 5-year old. UPDATE: Trump won. God help the U.S.A.Posted: 2016-08-29 08:40 Updated: 2016-11-09 08:23

Notes Today

This is an update to the post below entitled Notes and Posts. Since that post was written, I had some problems with reliable syncing with SimpleNote. I still write my notes with ResophNotes, but now the text files are kept in Dropbox, which provides both backup and syncing. Posted: 2015-05-12 18:48

Batch Files

Batch files are command-line scripts for Windows. They can be used to automate tasks on your computer. Batch files or scripts can be used for backup, moving to a project-related directory, cleaning up your hard drive, and almost any other task you can do from within Windows.

The Windows batch scripting "language" is not as fully capable as *nix shell scripting. Microsoft has provided a new tool, PowerShell, to improve Windows scripting capability. PowerShell gets good reviews, but it is a completely new language that I haven't gotten into yet, so you will not see much about it here.

Batch files, with the file extension .bat, have been around since DOS. The commands available for scripting have increased significantly since Windows NT and scripts that take advantage of those additional commands may have a file extension of either .bat or .cmd, the latter indicating that NT and later commands have been used and the script likely will not run under DOS or Windows 9x. I'll be writing more about specific batch scripts that I use, but here is an article on batch file basics that is more complete than I would ever provide. I have not read the book from which the article is taken, but it gets good reviews and the same author has written an update entitled Windows 7 and Vista Guide to Scripting, Automation, and Command Line Tools that covers Windows 7 and PowerShell. But the linked article will get you started on the basics of batch files.Posted: 2014-12-10 16:03

Notes and Posts

UPDATE: The workflow below was written in early 2013. I have since changed the tools that I use for notes. See the post Notes Today. I also write the posts of the Wordpress blog mentioned below directly into the Wordpress app in the browser.Posted: 2015-08-18 06:57

I keep all my notes and write all my web posts in plain text. First, the notes. This workflow has been built over the past several years. It recently changed significantly with my purchase of an Android phone. I use two computers and the phone regularly, so I wanted a way to have my notes synced on all of them. My primary note-taking software is ResophNotes. It has four advantages:

  1. a clean, simple interface for recording and writing notes in plain text,
  2. internal conversion of Markdown to HTML and display of the HTML document,
  3. the ability to save the notes as separate text files in a folder, and
  4. the ability to automatically sync with Simplenote.

The fourth advantage is the big one. Simplenote is a web-based editor that allows other software to sync all the notes in its database. Using ResophNotes on both of my computers allows the notes on Simplenote and the copies on both computers to be up-to-date all the time. I don’t even have to save the files. ResophNotes automatically saves with each change to the file and syncs it with Simplenote. Automatic backup and seamless copies of all the notes all the time.

That leaves the Android phone. Simplenote actually started life as an app for the iPhone. So it’s not surprising that there are several Android apps that can take advantage of Simplenote’s syncing. I use Notational Acceleration. It’s available in the Android app store. The name is a takeoff on Notational Velocity, a Mac editor after which ResophNotes was patterned. UPDATE 1/27/13: Notational Acceleration developed some syncing issues with SimpleNote. May have been related to a change in SimpleNote's API. In any event, NA lost a few notes and several times just would not display all the notes that were in SimpleNote. So I changed to Glance Note, which has an update since SimpleNote changed its API. Glance Note has not suffered from any syncing problems since I began using it three weeks ago.

I believe in belt-and-suspender backup. Yes, I’ve had several hard drive failures in my past. Anyone who has is obsessive about backup. So while I have an automatic and virtually constant backup on Simplenote’s web site, I also use Dropbox. As I mentioned above, ResophNotes has the ability to save the notes as separate text files in the file system. By putting my notes in the Dropbox folder on my laptops, they are synced to the Dropbox web site frequently.

To complete the workflow for posts on this blog, I simply display the post in ResophNotes using its “view Markdown” command (any note that may possibly be published on the web is written in Markdown). This opens a mini-browser within ResophNotes, from which I can “view source,” and copy the HTML of the post. Then I paste it into the Wordpress editor—the text editor, not the visual one— and publish the post.Posted: 2013-01-04 18:39

Windows Command Line

I use the command line in Windows a lot. Almost all of my backup and other disk cleanup activities are done through batch files (command line scripts), which are just automated typing of command line commands. For someone like me that likes to use text files for all the important stuff, learning to use the command line in Windows is the key to productivity. Best tutorial I've found for this is Zed Shaw's Command Line Crash Course. Go read it. Posted: 2014-01-21 09:34