My New Best Friend – CurvyCorners

If you have been doing web design for any period of time you have run up against the classic question – How do I make rounded corners without images for the website I am working on? There have been a lot of hacks out there and they all have their pluses and minuses.

With CSS3 Mozilla and the Webkit bunch all do rounded corners in straight CSS which is lovely. Unfortunately IE is still asleep at the wheel and won’t support rounded corners natively until IE9.That means it will be years until you won’t have to worry about IE 7 & 8.

Fortunately the guys at CurvyCorners has come up with a script to address it.

Literally all you do is upload the script to your server, give the appropriate CSS markup for rounded corners for Mozilla and Webkit, and that’s it. You don’t do anything for IE. It even gives rounded corners to IE6!

Unbelievable!

Below id a screenshot of the project that I used CurvyCorners on.

Switching from Blinksale to Zoho Invoice

I am making another switch in my life. This time I am switching from Blinksale to Zoho Invoice.

The reason for this switch is because I currently have a free account with Blinksale that gives me 3 free invoices a month and this month I needed more invoices. Normally in the few times that I have hit the limit I would switch to the paid version for a month and then step down to free account the next month. This time though they no longer have the free account so if I trade up I cannot go back down to the free account.

This caused me to evaluate what my options were…

After looking at several different solutions I am opted for Zoho Invoice for the time being. With Zoho I get 5 free invoices a month. Another cool thing with the free account is that I can send invoices as a PDF attachment. You have to pay $24/month with Blinksale to get that feature. If I need more then 5 invoices for the month I can step up to the $8/month plan and get 25 invoices. At Blinksale I only get 6 invoices for $6 (and still no PDF attachments).

I still get to accept payments online with Zoho via PayPal and can even use Google Checkout or Authorize.net if I want with my free account. I have to admit that the Zoho interface is not as simple or intuitive as the one at Blinksale but for the price, it is worth it. I hope Zoho Invoice works out so I don’t have to switch again.

Oh, a note about switching from Blinksale

Unfortunately they do not have an easy way to export your clients from you Blinksale account. They allow you to export you invoices but it only has the client’s name, not their contact info that you input in Blinksale. Even if the prices were competitive the fact that my data is not exportable is a deal breaker with Blinksale. With Zoho this is not an issue.

Another issue I just discovered is that their invoice export only gives the invoice total – not the line items and descriptions. This is also something that Zoho does for you. Unfortunately I now have 4 years of data locked into a system that I can now not get out. πŸ™

Update 5/4/10

Another confirmation that I made the right decision to switch from Blinksale to Zoho Invoice. I sent an email request to Blinksale yesterday asking for help on how to get my data out. I also sent them a Tweet but as of today there is no reply.

But, although I did not contact them Zoho Invoice saw my Tweet and my post and reached out to me offering to help get my data out of Blinksale. Now that is customer service!

Update 5/5/10

Today I got an email from Zoho Invoice Tech Support with instructions on how to import from Blinksale (still nothing from Blinksale πŸ™ ). The instructions were pretty simple to follow and it only took about a minute to do the import. I as interested to see whether I would just get invoices only or if I would actually get my clients as well. I got both!

As good as getting my invoices and clients imported into Zoho Invoice the import wasn’t completely smooth. For some reason I had information from one invoice from one client that showed up on several of my other client’s invoices. This caused these invoices to marked as “Overdue”. Along with that the line item descriptions on the invoices did not seem to import either.

I do consider these issues but honestly I am not to concerned. I have seen the responsiveness of the Zoho support staff and I am sure they will respond quickly with a fix. I have to say I am really impressed so far though Zoho and completely under-impressed with Blinksale.

Update 5/14/10

In one word this issue is resolved. Zoho fixed the issue on their end on 5/12 and I tried the import out today. It worked great. In all fairness Blinksale did send me a direct message via Twitter on 5/5 (after my above update) and asked me to contact them. I opted not to since I new Zoho was already working on the issue.

I have to say that I am extremely pleased with the way that Zoho handled this issue for me especially since I am currently a free customer. I do plan to upgrade to a pay subscription here in the future as they have won a very loyal customer. Thanks Zoho!

Restoring iPhoto from a Time Machine Backup

I am doing my first even restore from a Time Machine backup.

The reason for the restore is that I messed up my MacBook iPhoto library trying to merge it with the one from my Mac Mini. I was using iPhoto Library Manager and instead of it following my instructions of “Do Not Duplicate” it duplicated. That caused my iPhoto library to double in size and actually completely fill up my hard drive.

To rectify the situation I copied the bloated library to an external hard drive then deleted my local copy. From there I did a restore from Time Machine to the day before this escapade started.

This situation has really got me thinking on how I can better manage my photos between the two computers. Maybe Dropbox and and Google Picasa are in order here.

Note: After a quick Google search it seems that there is a setting in the iPhoto Library Manager that if not checked WILL duplicate the photos even if you check not to in iPhoto itself. I have no idea why this is there or what use it is but it is a pain. Mine is now checked.

I’m Leaving Mozy for Jungle Disk

I have finally come to my wits end with Mozy.

This time it was me logging into my account and seeing that my Mac Mini only had 80GB backed up as opposed to the 500GB it was supposed to. After some digging it seemed that it wasn’t backing up my external hard drive – again.

After doing a little research I figure out that it must have been when I change the hard drive cable from USB to Firewire. It was the same enclosure and same hard drive but just a different cable. Lame.

I tried to reconfigure Mozy so that it would now backup my hard drive but it got stuck. I fired up the Activity Monitor and killed it and tried to reopen it – fail. I restarted 3 times over the last 3 days and it refused to restart.

I uninstalled Mozy.

From there I fired up Jungle Disk and it saw my external drive – like always. It wasn’t afraid of a simple cable change. I told it to start backing up and it did, no questions asked.

So why didn’t I just use Jungle Disk from the begining? Well I did but it gets pricey especially since you have to pay for the actual storage space you use and for the transfer of the data as well. Amazon is cheap for the most part but 500GB is about 3 times the amount then what I was paying with Mozy.

I guess you get what you pay for.

The other big difference between the two is recovering your files. I am fortunate that I have never had to recover an entire hard drive from either service. I have read though that recovering files from Mozy is a pain. I have downloaded around 10GB from Jungle Disk and it was a breeze.

In the end I may pay a little more but Jungle Disk with Amazon is much more reliable then Mozy.

I Think Google Chrome Killed My WordPress Blog

I have been using Google Chrome on my MacBook for the last few months and have been happy with it – up until about a week ago. About a week ago it seemed that it started to run slower especially when I was in the admin section of a WordPress site (which is all the time). Specifically I would click on the publish or update button and it would seem that the site would get stuck. After a while I would click the refresh button to get it unstuck and lose my work I was trying to save.

Yesterday I was doing some work on my theabundantlife.net blog. I updated some posts and then did a new post. After the new post I did not do anything on the blog. I was having the same issues on that site as I had been having on the other WordPress sites.

This morning I went to the same blog to do another post and there was no content on my home page and no page links on it! I quickly logged in and found that I had zero posts and zero pages. I freaked!

My first thought was that I had been hacked but I had the latest version of WordPress.

I quickly went to my email and searched for a recent backup of the site (I back it up daily and send it to myself via email). Luckily their was a backup from yesterday. I restored the site to yesterday’s version which did not have the latest post that I had done.

I then did a search to see if this was a new venerability and soon found out that there wasn’t. What I did find out is that the disappearing posts and pages happens from time to time when a section of the database gets corrupted. The solution is to do a repair on the db to fix it. I had already done a restore so a repair was not needed in my case.

The reason why I think it was Google Chrome that killed my WordPress db are the times that it seemed to get stuck. Chrome must have been getting stuck in the middle of writing to the db and when I refreshed the browser it killed it somehow. It’s weird but that’s what I think happened.

Needless to say I am back using Firefox again and am actually happy with it. It seems much faster and more stable then Chrome was. Oh well, I’ll use Firefox until it gets slow again and then maybe I will go back to Safari πŸ˜‰ .

Blogging on My Mac with Windows 7 and Live Writer

Windows-7-parallels So I have taken to doing more blogging lately after a very long hiatus. As apart of my step back into blogging I did another search for desktop blogging applications that would work on the Mac as well as Windows Live Writer works on Windows. Unfortunately IMO there is still nothing that comes close.

My love for Windows Live Writer has pushed me to what may claim to be an extreme work around, but never the less, it is what works for me and I am happy.

What I have done is installed Windows 7 in Parallels and run WLW in it. My Macbook runs great with 1GB of its 4GBs of RAM allocated to Windows. It only begins to slow down if I happen to be running Parallels, Dreamweaver, and Photoshop at the same time (DM and PS are running in OS X). I usually do not have those open when wanting to blog though so I really do not run into trouble.

Some may ask what would push me to run a completely different operating system just to do the occasional blog post?

There are several reasons for this.

Desert The first would be that WLW actually downloads the images and CSS from your blog and you are typing your post in the exact format that you blog is in. This is really helpful when you are doing formatting items such as H tags and images. It truly is WISIWIG and it makes for faster posting of more attractive posts.

Jellyfish Speaking of images WLW has the best image editor of any other desktop blogging tool I have seem. All you do is drag and drop the image into your post. From there you can resize the image by grabbing a corner and dragging. Once you are done dragging the corner the image is resampled as opposed to just being resized. I have not seen any other blogging tool do this.

Lighthouse Also available are a whole bunch of effects you can give the images such as drop shadows, photo frames, and reflections. Along with that you can set custom margins for the images so that your text does not run into them. Finally you can set the images to link to pages, the original size of you image, or to nothing at all. It really does make incorporating images into your posts easy.

There are several other features that WLW has but the above mentioned ones are those that I use the most. They make it worth it to run Windows on my Mac πŸ˜‰ .

Still Trying to Troubleshoot FeedWordPress Issues

defeatUnfortunately the last few updates to the FeedWordPress plugin have not fixed the issues that I have been having. What is going on is that the meta data is not being pulled in to the individual posts when automatically searching for feeds and therefore it is not linking back to the original post.

I have setup a test site with a fresh install of WordPress and the FeedWordPress plugin that is updating correctly so it looks like I may have to kill my main site and start from scratch. The good thing is that I will be able to keep all 300+ posts that the main site has by exporting and reimporting via the WordPress import/export mechanism. My plan is to export the content, delete all the WordPress files including themes and plugins, and delete the db. From there I will do a reinstall of everything with fresh files and cross my fingers that it will work. It seems extreme but it seems the only fix available.

Wish me luck!

AT&T Comes Out with Their U-Verse iPhone App

I have loved AT&T U-verse from day one. I I have loved my 3 iPhones. Today the two have come together in a match made in heaven via the U-Verse TV iPhone app.

The U-verse TV iPhone app allows you to control your U-Verse DVR from your iPhone from anywhere. You can see your scheduled recordings, set new recordings, browse the TV listings, and search for shows and/or channels. Basically it has all the functionality that you have via your TV for your DVR on your iPhone. Pretty cool.

This will really come in handy when remembering that I want to see a particular show but am not near my TV to schedule it. In my opinion AT&T is doing a great job of bringing all of their services together. From having the integration between my DVR and iPhone along with free Wifi at any Starbucks it really is a great value.

Why I Really Like WordPress 2.8

I have been slowly updating the sites that run WordPress over the last week or so and have started to really love WordPress 2.8. The reason for this sudden burst of affection are a couple of new features that version 2.8 introduced.

wordpress-upload-themeThe first feature that I really like is the ability to upload themes and plugins via the WordPress interface. This has eliminated the need to break out Dreamweaver or another FTP program to get something uploaded to a site. Β That is significant because I usually download plugins and/or themes to my desktop. If I have to upload either of them with FTP I have to put them in a particular folder and hopefully I already have the FTP info entered into my program. If not then I need to go through those steps. With the web based upload feature I can quickly upload in a few steps.

The other feature that I like is the built in code editing for themes and plugins. I know this feature has been around for a while but 2.8 added code highlighting. This makes it much easier to find and edit small items without having to break out an FTP program and code editor.

These two features have reduced the time that it takes me to do small edits and I am truly gratefully for them.