Friday, November 25, 2011

Changing to text in Excel

I find that I have to do this once in a while and every time I'll have to look it up again. Basically the problem is that someone sent an excel file which the column need to be a string but the data is numerical, so without adding the tick in front of the number, excel interprets it as number. Here's the small script to add the tick:

For i = 2 to 196
    Range("C" & i).Select
    ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "'" & ActiveCell.Value
Next
Now I won't have to google all those mysterious command again the next time it happens.. p/s: don't laugh at me struggling with vb you insensitive clod.. :P

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Back into Gnome 3

It has been quite a while since I've last used Gnome 3. The thing which I especially didn't like was starting an application by browsing the menu feels like a whole lot more cumbersome, mainly because it'll take the whole page filled with huge icons to do it and I didn't like how when you press alt-tab all the apps are grouped together kind of thing. So with a mind to get back to gnome 2, I switched my arch machine to use linux mint.

But guess what? Even linux mint is moving to gnome 3 with it's upcoming release 12. Except it'll have a bunch of customization which keeps your workflow more the less the same. And not only that, it's even easy now to install the gnome-shell in ubuntu 11.10. So since now almost everyone is on that bandwagon, I might as well get on it myself.

I've bought myself a spanking new laptop recently and thought that'd be a good candidate for a new start on gnome 3. At first I thought maybe I'll try fedora first (I've always been unlucky with fedora for some reason). Since the new laptop already comes with Windows 7 and I wanted to dual boot anyway in case there might be situation where I might want to use windows, I wanted the installer to automatically resize the partition and install it side-by-side. But alas, my bad luck streak with fedora continues as trying to use the installer to resize the partition gives an error. I've forgotten exactly what the error was, but after 3 attempts at it, I said, well maybe I'll try something else. Burned an ubuntu cd and a few minutes later I've finished installing ubuntu 11.10 side-by-side with windows resizing the partition just using the installer. Sweeeeeeeet.. :) And one 'sudo apt-get install gnome-shell' and I'm in the game again. Oh, looked at unity a bit again first before installing gnome-shell, still don't quite like it.

One thing that I approach differently now when using gnome 3 is don't think so much of using it menus style, use it gnome-do style. Press the super key (that's windows key for those who don't know :) and just type a few letters of the app you want to start. Things I usually use like terminal and firefox usually come up right in front so it's really just pressing around 3 keys (super, f, enter). Apart from that I've wrapped my head around the idea of using the alt-tab and alt-"key above tab" for jumping between windows of the same app. So it's getting a whole lot more acceptable now. I might even convert my main desktop back to arch or something once I have the time. Starting to really like using gnome 3 again.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

When you have time...

Time management... How do you manage something which is not even physical? And you certainly can't put it here and there... All you can do is decide what action to take at certain time... So maybe it should be called action management? Never mind whatever it's called, there sure has been tons of literature on it. You'd think that we all would be absolute experts at it. But there is a very wide void between knowing and doing. And the successful ones are always the ones who are doing even though they might be lacking in knowing.

Write your goals, then write your actions toward those goals, going from long term to short term. And very soon you'll end up with actions you can do here and now to reach your goals which might take years and years to reach. Write it down you so wont forget. Write it down so that you can focus. Write it down so that is your contract between you and the future you who might get distracted by other things happening around him/her. Have you written it down? No? Harder in practice than in theory eh?

Choose success...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Android development

After putting it off for so long, I finally went all out and did it. But it took a far longer time than expected but at least I have taken the precious first few steps. I'm talking about developing for the android platform. I've bought my desire last year in december. But for almost half a year all I did was play around with other software on it, I didn't even start to do the very reason I bought it in the first place, develop my own software on it, until recently. After seeing how long I've procrastinated, I decided to get serious and even bought a few books off amazon and the one which I have been reading which got me over the first hurdle was "Hello, Android". It is a pretty nice walkthrough on how to write your first android software by showing you the steps to write a sudoku game. And a few other small apps to show how to implement other features. I highly recommend it if you're looking for good a beginner android development book.

So the first android app I've written is about something which is quite dear to me, solat. I've wanted to write an application for referencing http://www.e-solat.gov.my (which I use on my blog to display solat times) even before I've got my desire. But once I've got it, I found that Syakhir Jaafar already beat me to it by releasing MySolat. So I've been using that one until I've finally got the drive to write my own. The title of my application is "Solat Malaysia", because, it shows solat times in Malaysia (Yeah, I'm really creative that way.. ). I am writing it more for my own use and practice in writing android app more than anything, so I'm releasing it as an open source software where you can get the code here. So if you are a muslim and using an android phone, please try to download it from the market and maybe give some feedback. I have a few ideas on what feature to add next and all, but some feedback from other users would be great too. But if you are not a muslim (as in you don't have any use for my app), you can still learn from the codes or maybe even advice me on how I can improve mine, check out my github. Any kind of input would be greatly appreciated. My development currently is mostly done in eclipse (yeah, haven't got raw yet.. :P).

Programming for the android is certainly different than what I usually do (web apps mostly) but I can relate to the mvc style with declaring the inteface in the xml resources and the logic in the java codes and all. I guess the main hurdle was actually just getting a feel on how everything glues together (and there is a lot of things, the resources - (strings, menus, layout), the android manifest, the codes, the intents etc). But once you've grokked it, it feels quite natural.

Whichever way it is, the book helped a lot. Expect me to continue to improve the "Solat Malaysia" app (it is very rough right now) and hopefully I'll write even more software for the android platform in the near future. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Welcome to a new age...

Since the dawn of time, man has always dreamed the impossible dream. Uploading photos in an instant, playing online games without lag, watching videos on youtube and ted without waiting for buffer. And now that I have got unifi up and running at my house, those impossible dreams has come true.. :P

What can I say? So far I'm pretty impressed at the speeds I'm getting. Downloading gigs and gigs of stuff takes hours now, not days, not weeks, just mere hours. The installation went quite smoothly except for a bit of broken fiber problem but that was quickly resolved. Took only around 2 hours in the end. When I asked the technician what was the red marker around the last port of the router, he said it was for the tv. At first I thought he was joking. But when I finally tested it out, it is exactly that. A port for just the tv connection. Connecting other devices or computers to it would not resolve any ip for the said device or computer and connecting the tv to any other port would actually cause the set top box to give a connection error notice.

Initially I was queued for installation at the end of next month, but suddenly someone from unifi called and said that a customer has cancelled their appointment and there is an opening for me the next morning if I want to. Of course I grabbed the chance.

Regarding the tv, there would be extra charges if I wanted them to do the wiring all the way to the front. I said never mind I can do it myself. As soon as they were gone, I tried connecting the set top box to the tv in front and as for the networking I used my old Aztech Homeplugs 200Mbps. Works like a charm. But there is no Playhouse Disney channel on the unifi tv so I guess I'll have to continue using astro too. But apart from that, my installation is quite normal. Is it worth adding an additional rm 40/month to get the extra boost in speed that unifi offers? Definitely. Can the ip tv finally replace storm static astro? Not yet. Can I now p4wn people because of the increase speed and lack of lag? I've got hundreds of years to practice I think before I can shed my noobyness.. >.< Oh well..

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Making time for yourself

Just yesterday I finally watched 'Eat, Pray, Love'. I especially liked the part where they talk about the 'sweetness of doing nothing' and compared the difference in attitude between an american man and an italian man. Where an american man hears "It's Miller time", he goes out and buy a six-pack and drink the whole thing in one night and waking up feeling terrible the next morning. An italian man walks by a sign that says "You deserve a break today" and he'd just say, "Yeah, I know". The italians are the masters of doing nothing. In this fast paced world of ours (especially if you're involved in computers and software where even the latest is obsolete in just 3 years time), I think the 'sweetness of doing nothing' is very much under valued.

I guess geeks are pretty acute to 'doing nothing'. Because even in 'Office Space', the rather geeky hero dreams of doing nothing if he had a million bucks before his neighbour reminded him "You don't need a million dollars to do nothing man, take a look at my cousin, he's broke and he don't do sh*t".. >.<

Sometimes it's good to be able to do nothing. To just take a breather. It'd make you better appreciate what you already have and can even make big problems seem smaller. But then again, when I start to do nothing, the feeling of guilt starts to creep in and makes me question myself. It is in those times I guess I wish I am an italian man....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

First Impression On Gnome 3 (Or Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover)

In the past few weeks since Gnome 3 came out, I've been reading a lot about what people think of it. My initial impression was it might be something like the Unity interface which I first used when I installed ubuntu-netbook 10.06 on my mom's netbook. I absolutely hated that. Almost made me redo the installation with a normal desktop ubuntu then. But I got to thinking, 'heh... my mom is the one who's going to use it, so maybe she might get used to it, as long as I've set up the side bar with all the software she usually use it should be fine'. And I guess I was right. Until once in a while my mom asks me to do something on it and I feel like redoing the installation again... >.<

But finally I took the plunge and enabled the testing repo on my desktop, 'pacman -Syu' instantly installed all the latest package and boom, I'm running Gnome 3 baby... :D

What do I think of it? I kinda like it. It's very clean. I mean, very very clean. I'm kinda a lazy so before this I even had icons littered on the top panel. Now I don't even the option to litter the top panel anymore. It's basically fixed like that. And I think for someone like me who likes it to be clean but can't be bothered cleaning up, that's good... :)

I read reviews about how now it takes two clicks to switch to other windows which are open because there is no more bottom panel which can have a list of open windows. But luckily I find that it's not really that hard at all, just shove your mouse over to the top left and all your windows will show up 'expose' style. Very nice touch. So now you get to see even more context of the windows you want to choose. There was even some people saying alt-tab would not work. I guess they were really using pre-release versions because it works just fine for me. In fact, it's better than fine, alt-~ (the key on top of the tab key) will actually switch between windows of the same app. So you can have many writer windows open and need to switch between just them? No problem. Just alt-~.

Another thing which got me concerned was no systray. How are you supposed to click on the pidgin icon to bring up your buddy list, or the dropbox icon to bring up your dropbox folder? Well, it's there. Just hidden from view. Shove your mouse to the bottom right and it pops out. I like that it stays out of the way and available only once you want it.

For those who are used to using gnome-do and would rather type out the app to run, just hit the super button and type away. It does take 2 clicks to get to the 'main menu' though (if you're used to using menu's to start your apps). You have to click on 'Activities' (or actually just shove the mouse to the top left) and then the applications button. Then it will list down all of your applications. The buttons for the applications are huge and really makes me feel like this would be something I might like to use on a tablet or something. But it doesn't bother me much because whichever apps I use I've mapped them to keyboard shortcuts and also the side bar. So I don't usually have to view all the apps.

I think having to press the alt key to get the 'Power Off' menu item at the Status menu is kinda neat because I rarely switch off my desktop anyway, and coming back from 'Suspend' (which is the default menu item) is a whole lot faster.

For more tips and tricks on using the spanking new gnome-shell make sure you check out https://live.gnome.org/GnomeShell/CheatSheet.

To wrap it up, so far I like it. It feels minimalistic but at the same time very pretty. I'm very happy with it. Good job Gnome team.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Documentation is a must... after this.

I've been thinking quite a bit about documentation and the 'cost' it involves. And when I say documentation, I mean documentation in general about anything. One obvious case with the industry I'm involved in is user documentation (a.k.a The Manual). Creating great features in software takes time and effort but if it is not documented then the user won't even know about it and finally it never gets used. But then while documenting it you just wish that you're working on the next cool thing rather than have to write this up. So finally you end up not doing the documentation or doing it rather badly.

Same thing with this blog writing. I have been doing some pretty interesting things with my phone (rooting it and using cynogenmod and all), some pretty significant life changes (my grandmother passed away) and a lot of other things which I should probably like to remember better or reflect more on it but not documented (here or anywhere permanent) and it would probably be lost in the sands of time before long.

I guess finally it falls on how you view it. If you see it as a burden, something which has to be done, then that's how it would be. But if you see it as a way to empoyer the user, or reflect more on your life, then that's how it would be too. And time... well.. that's the price which has to be paid no matter what. It ain't going to write itself.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Redmine is awesome

Been trying out a new issue tracker at work, it's called Redmine. In ubuntu just need to do an:
sudo apt-get install redmine redmine-mysql
Then once that is installed add the following line to /etc/apache2/mods-available/passenger.conf
PassengerDefaultUser www-data
Then add the following lines in /etc/apache2/sites-available/default
<Directory /var/www/redmine>
RailsBaseURI /redmine
PassengerResolveSymlinksInDocumentRoot on
</Directory>
Then enable the passenger module for apache by running:
sudo a2enmod passenger
After that add the redmine softlink in the /var/www directory:
cd /var/www
sudo ln -s /usr/share/redmine/public redmine
Then you should be able to access it from http://localhost/redmine. Default username and password is admin:admin.

Haiya ala Solah