Tag Archives: utilities

Dropbox vs Google Drive Pricing – Round 1

Google - Buy Storage

Google Drive is finally out and looking like a viable alternative to crowd favorite Dropbox. Although we’re sure to see a swift response from Dropbox, let’s look at the current storage plans offered by both:

Storage Dropbox Google Drive
Free 2 GB
+16 GB in referrals
5 GB
25 GB n/a $2.49/m
25 GB for Gmail
50 GB $9.99/m
+32 GB in referrals
100 GB $19.99/m
+32 GB in referrals
25 GB for Gmail
200 GB n/a $9.99/m
25 GB for Gmail
1 TB $795/yr for 5 users
Team Edition
$599.88/yr for 1 user

Creating a Shortcode for the Organize Series WordPress Plugin

Insert this code into your WordPress functions.php file (or custom_functions.php if you’re using Thesis like I am) to enable a quick way to display a series of articles created with the Organize Series plugin.

function get_thumb_series( $atts ) {
	extract( shortcode_atts( array(
		'ser_id' => false
	), $atts ) );
	if ('ser_id' == false){
		return false;
 	global $post, $orgseries;
	$series_post = array();
	$posts_in_series = array();
	$settings = $orgseries->settings;
	$ser = $atts['ser_id'];
	$result = '<div class="episode-list">';
		$series_post = get_objects_in_term($ser, 'series'); 
		$posts_in_series = get_series_order($series_post, 0, $ser, FALSE);
		foreach($posts_in_series as $seriespost) { 
				$result .= token_replace(stripslashes($settings['series_post_list_post_template']), 'other', $seriespost['id'], $ser_ID);
		$result .= '</div>';
		return $result;
add_shortcode( 'get-ts', 'get_thumb_series' );


On any post or page (and possibly anywhere else) where you want to list a particular series, enter the following shortcode:

[get-ts ser_id='n']

where n is the ID of the series you want to display (you can find this in the Manage Series admin page).

So, for instance, if you want to display a list of posts contained in a series with ID=10, you’d enter the following in the text of the post or page:

[get-ts ser_id='10']

Why and How did I do this

I’m using the wonderful Organize Series plugin on a site I’m working on to display hundreds of TV episodes together in a logical arrangement. As part of my CMS strategy, I needed a way to display the content of a series on a page that is not a part of the series.

Suppose you have all the episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” organized in a series so that you can jump from one to the next in a logical order and not be constrained by a blog’s chronological ordering system. If you want to create a page with additional info about the show, there’s no clear way to add the episode list to the page. This Shortcode will allow you to do just that.

The Organize Series plugin includes a file filled with useful functions (orgSeries-template-tags.php in the plugin’s folder). Figuring out how to put all that info to good use was a bit harder, since Organize Series now keeps all their support forums behind a pay-wall. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine solved that by letting me look at some older pages from back when the support forums where open.

Further help came from Aaron Jorbin’s post on WordPress Shortcodes – A how to by example.

The nice thing about this Shortcode is that you can edit the output to suit your needs. The reason I called the function get_thumb_series is that I originally wanted to generate a list of episodes with a thumbnail next to each one. I still haven’t done that, but there’s nothing keeping you from changing the function to return whatever it is you need. I’m currently using the default functions within orgSeries-template-tags.php (and the function itself is an abridged version of get_series_posts()), but will eventually add my own to return just the information I need about every episode (thumbnails, air dates, duration, etc).

I’ll add links to example pages once the site goes live. In the meantime, let me know if this article was helpful to you and feel free to post any fixes or updates.

33 Fun Things to Do With Your Photos Online

Now that you’ve got yourself a digital camera, what can you do with all those wonderful photos? Here’s a list to get you started:

Organize and share them:

These services allow you to upload your photos, share them with friends and family, tag them, make slideshows and send them out for printing:

FlickrFlickr – Owned by Yahoo!, Flickr offers both free and premium services. You can tag your photos, add comments to any part of an image, create sets, collections, slideshows, print out photobooks, postcards, snapshots, etc.

ZooomrZoomr – Think Flickr, but map centric. Zooomr offers nice photo storage functions, closely integrated with geotagging (placing your photos on a world map) and e-commerce (selling your photos) functions.

SmugMugSmugMug – SmugMug is a wonderful website for storing your images. It’s fast, well supported, and offers plenty of sharing options, including making photos private and password-protecting them. There’s even a special offer for Yahoo Photos customers who are looking for a place to store their now orphaned images.

PhotobucketPhotobucket – Photobucket also offers tons of features including easy options to share your images online (particularly useful for bloggers and photographers sharing their photos in online discussions)

Shutterfly – Primarily a photo-printing business, Shutterfly also lets you store your photos, create photobooks, postcards, share your photos, etc.

Fix them:

These services will let you upload your photos and edit them online. Useful if you don’t have an image editor on your computer, or when you need to quickly edit a photo while at a cybercafe.

PicnikPicnik – I was impressed by this one. Picnik will even let you play with their software without creating an account (Scrapblog will too), a clever way to let you try Picnik without forking over your personal information. Slick looking, fast and powerful. Worth trying, even if just for fun.

LookWowLookWow – Java-based online photo editor. Will let you apply effects to an image, undo, compare and save.

SnipshotSnipshot – Another really good looking online photo editor. Not as powerful as Picnik, but worth trying.

PhixrPhixr – Has a nice set of tools, but took forever to load.


MyPictrMyPictr – Quickly create image thumbnails for online social networks. Upload your photo, crop the area you want to keep (usually your face), choose the network you need your photo for and MyPictr will spit out your image in the proper size and format.

QuickThumbnailQuick Thumbnail – Great when you need to quickly resize an image. A useful feature will resize your image to several sizes at once (i.e., 25%, 50%, 75%)

ePassportPhotoePassportPhoto – The Internet equivalent to a passport photo booth, it will format your picture so that it can be printed and cut into six passport-ready photos. No more paying $8 for 19 cents worth of prints. Make sure your photo is passport-worthy before uploading.

BigHugeLabsBigHugeLabs – Do almost anything with your Flickr images. Calendars, frames, print-out projects… too many to list.


ScrapblogScrapblog – Online scrap books. A wonderful service by my Miami friends. You can give Scrapblog a try without creating an account (you can create an account later and recover your trial project). Connects directly to your Flickr account, so using your existing images is very easy. Amazing flash-based interface will leave you wondering what else is possible on the Internet. Let your inner Martha Stewart run wild.

Spell with FlickrSpell with flickr – A fun service that will turn any word into its Flickr image letters.

PhotagiousPhotagious – Online Slideshows, themes, editing, text, unlimited uploads. Should probably be listed under “Organize and share them” but their slideshow functions are in a league of their own.

RiyaRiya – Although it’s been transformed into a “visual search engine,” you can still access their original image storage and sharing service. Riya’s technology will let you search for items containing similar items to a reference image. It will also let you identify a person in an image and find additional images where that person appears.

PikiStripsPikiStrips – Turn any image or images into comic strips, with text balloons and special effects. Look through the earlier examples uploaded into the system for the better quality stuff. It seems the latest ones are mostly people making gang signs.

Map Them:

You don’t need a GPS to map your images online, though one certainly helps. These services will let you identify the geographical place where each image was taken and show them on a map.

PanoramaBuilder Build panoramic images by stitching together your photos. Now you can pan around a place as if you were (almost) there.

3cim Virtual ToursVirtual Panorama Tours on Google Maps – A list of panoramic images overlaid on Google Maps. Mostly used for real estate.

PanoramioPanoramio – Map centric photo storage and sharing. Geotag your photos, correct photos others have wrongly placed. Panoramio photos are regularly uploaded to Google Earth so that other Google Earth viewers can see them by activating the Panoramio layer.

Make real stuff:

Your digital images don’t need to stay trapped inside your computer (or the Internets’ tubes). Make books, posters, postcards… almost anything you want with these links:

MpixMpix – Photobooks, Cards, Magazine covers, greeting cards, calendars, bookwrap, tickets, puzzles and statuettes (these last ones you HAVE to see… worth every cringe-inducing penny!)

QOOPQOOP – Photobooks, postcards, mugs, stickers, canvas prints, mini photobooks, shirts, hoodies, mousepads, calendars, greeting cards, etc., directly from your photo storage account. Works with most popular photo storage sites.

FlattenMeFlatenme – Create customized children’s books with your little rascal’s image in place of the book’s hero or heroine.

RasterbatorThe Rasterbator – An application which creates rasterized versions of images. The rasterized images can be printed and assembled into enormous (or smaller, if you prefer) posters. See website for details.

Improve your technique:

Microsoft Research Group ShotMicrosoft Research Group Shot – MSR Group Shot helps you create a perfect group photo out of a series of group photos. With Group Shot you can select your favorite parts in each shot of the series and Group Shot will automatically build a composite image. Erase someone in the background, fix faces with eyes closed, etc.

Fascinating! Content Aware Image Resizing – An amazing image resizing algorithm. Watch the video and rest easily knowing that the scientist behind is already working with Adobe on the next Photoshop.

Improve your photos with classical artImprove your photography with classical art – An interesting technique that uses traditional classical paintings to correct the light and color of your photographs.

Automator Actions: Photoshop Automator Actions v3.5 – If you’ve got a Mac and Photoshop, these scripts might make your photo-editing life a bit easier.

Manage your digital images on your computer:

These programs will help you manage your entire photo library on your PC or Mac. Most will allow you to do minor editing, cropping, resizing, color correcting and printing. Easily upload your images to your favorite online photo storage service.

PicasaPicasa – PC/Linux photo management, also includes online photo sharing for anyone with a Gmail account.

iPhotoiPhoto – Mac photo management. If you’ve got a recent Mac, then you have iPhoto installed already.

Apple Aperture – Professional photo management for Mac.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom – Professional photo management for Mac and PC.


2007/10/01: Make that 34 Fun Things to Do With Your Photos Online. Abhiram Sarat of flauntR sent me an email highlighting their quite promising online photo apps:

flauntRflauntR one-click effects – Online photo editing and effects. Includes uploading from your computer or flickr account and is nice enough to include sample images to play with. You can try out the apps (currently PhotostylR and PhotoeditR, soon PhotoprintR) without registering.

The Real Reason Apple Slashed the iPhone’s Price

The moment Apple announced a $200 price cut on the 8GB iPhone, the blogosphere lit up. The early adopters, feeling betrayed by Apple for slashing the iPhone’s price just two months after it’s debut, raised enough of a racket to get Steve Jobs to issue them $100 Apple gift certificates. The financial analysts took Apple to task, reading the price cuts as a sign of weak iPhone sales, sending the stock down more than 5%.

Missed by all was the real reason Apple slashed the iPhone’s price.

Let’s face it. Any moment now Already, users will be able to can unlock their iPhones with a simple software tool (click here to see a video of the iPhone unlock process from start to finish). Apple intends to capitalize on it… and a cheaper iPhone is precisely the way to do it.

Apple could engage in an arms race against the unlockers, but that would simply create ill will against the company. Relocking the iPhones through software updates would simply create hordes of angry users. Suing the unlockers is another possibility, but the law seems to be on the side of the phone owners (so far).

Apple has simply decided to join the party and lower the iPhone’s price so that, once the software hack is out, everyone can and will buy an iPhone.

How AT&T takes this is another story. They do, after all, have an exclusive arrangement with Apple for two years. They’re still the only ones able to offer Visual Voicemail and iTunes activation. Whether that’s enough for users to prefer AT&T remains to be seen.

What do you think?

OS X Tools: All you really need to know about GREP

Ever need to look through an endless file list to determine if a certain file is there? Cross-eyed from looking at a ps listing to find the one program you want to kill? You need grep.

And if you’re on a Mac (or a Unix/Linux machine) you’re in luck.

There’s a million ways to use grep, but this one will quickly show you how powerful it is (and it’s probably all you need to know).

Suppose you need to shutdown a particular program… one that doesn’t show up on the Activity Monitor. You open the Terminal application, type “ps -A” and watch in awe as a million lines shoot by your screen, trying to figure out which one corresponds to the program you wish to kill.

Instead, try this the next time:

Let’s pretend you need to shutdown a particular application that’s not responding (or doesn’t have a Quit option). I’ll use mozy as an example. Instead of going line-by-line looking for the one that includes mozy, you simply type this command:

ps -A | grep -i mozy

and you’ll get the following back:

24293 ?? Ss 0:03.52 /usr/sbin/MozyBackup

24449 p2 R+ 0:00.00 grep -i mozy

Now all you need to do is issue the following command:

sudo kill 24293

to shutdown the application.

What you’re doing is simply taking the result of the “ps -A” command and sending it, using the “|” operator, to the grep utility, which will search for any occurrences of the phrase “mozy” (the -i option makes the search case insensitive).

Do you have any other uses for grep? Any other useful utilities? Leave your comment below.

Quick Guide to Configuring GnuPG on your Mac (OS X)

This is a quick-and-dirty guide to installing and configuring GnuPG (PGP) on you Mac. If you want a more detailed guide, explaining every step, visit http://fiatlux.zeitform.info/en/instructions/pgp_macosx.html

For a detailed explanation of how PGP works, visit the Getting Started page of the GNU Privacy Handbook at http://www.gnupg.org/gph/en/manual/c14.html

For a nice tutorial on selecting a strong passphrase, read http://fiatlux.zeitform.info/en/instructions/passwords.html

Step 1: Download all the necessary software

You’ll need to download the following software (or packages) which will allow you to create encrypted messages on your Mac, import and export encryption keys, and configure everything through a GUI (Graphical User Interface).

Mac GnuPG

GPG Keychain Access

GPG Preferences

Step 2: Install and configure

Double-click on the Mac GnuPG file you downloaded to launch the installer. Launch the “GnuPG for Mac OS X 1.4.7” package (this was the version at the time of writing this article) and follow the instructions to install GnuPG on your computer.

Launch the Terminal application and open a command-line window. Type:

gpg --gen-key

and follow the instructions to generate your keypair. Choose “1” for the kind of key (DSA and Elgamal), “4096” for the key size, “0” to make your keypair valid indefinitely (if you think your key should expire after a certain length of time, you may use the following code: 2 for 2 days, 3w for 3 weeks, 6m for 6 months, or 12y for 12 years).

For your User-ID, enter your name, your e-mail address (this is the address you’ll use to send and receive encrypted emails) and an optional comment. You may use the optional comment field to state an opinion (“Live Free or Die”), to further identify yourself (“Company Name”) or however else you see fit – just remember that the comment field will be tied to your User ID and will show up in your public key. Enter “0” to okay all the information.

You must now enter your passphrase. Your passphrase is the one thing standing between your private key and anyone keen on misusing it or learning your secrets, so choose it wisely.

  • Do not use ordinary words that appear on any dictionary.
  • Do not use the names of your loved ones, hated ones, pets or family members.
  • Do not use personal dates such as birthdays or anniversaries.
  • Do not use short passphrases.
  • Use upper- and lower-case letters.
  • Use numbers.
  • Use punctuation marks.
  • Use something you can remember.

For a nice tutorial on passphrases, read http://fiatlux.zeitform.info/en/instructions/passwords.html

You must now enter your passphrase twice (it’ll be hidden from view) and generate your keypair (it’ll take a long time).

Congratulations… you’re now ready to communicate securely (well, almost ready).

Now install GPG Keychain Access and GPG Preferences.

GPG Keychain Access will let you manage your private and public keys through a nice GUI interface. It also allows you to manage your contacts’ public keys, import and export keys, and publish your public key to a key server.

GPG Preferences installs into the System Preferences panel and lets you select the key server to use to search for public keys. If someone sends you an encrypted messages, you’ll need to know their public key to decrypt it. They can send you this key or you can search for it on a key server (if they published it).

Step 3: Configuring GnuPG to work with your applications

Ok, so now that you have GnuPG installed and a keypair, you need a way to use GnuPG from within your applications.

The following applications will let you seamlessly use GnuPG:


ABKey will integrate GnuPG with your Address Book, adding fields for public keys to every address card.


GPGMail will let you encrypt, decrypt and sign messages from within Apple Mail. It’ll automatically recognize if a contact has a corresponding public key.

GPG DropThing

GPG DropThing allows you to encrypt and decrypt chunks of text and files through a drag-and-drop interface.


Enigmail will let you encrypt, decrypt and sign messages from within Thunderbird, Mozilla or Netscape email.


EntourageGPG will let you encrypt, decrypt and sign messages from within Microsoft Entourage.


Eudora GPG will let you encrypt, decrypt and sign messages from within the Eudora email program.


FireGPG will let you access GnuPG functions from within the Firefox browser. It’s great if you use Gmail for email as it’ll let you encrypt and decrypt messages from within Gmail and even adds buttons to Gmail’s interface to access common encryption functions. It’s still a little buggy, but works well enough.

Sometimes, FireGPG’s options dialog takes forever to appear or won’t appear at all. You need to indicate the path to the GPG executable file. If the options dialog does not appear, simply type “about:config” on a new tab, filter on “firegpg” and change the following keys:

  • Set “extensions.firegpg.specify_gpg_path” to “true“.
  • Set “extensions.firegpg.gpg_path” to “/usr/local/bin/gpg

and restart your browser.

That’s it… you’re now ready to send and receive private messages.

If you want to send me a private message, look for my public key on the key servers. My email address is “granier” at Google’s Gmail service.

Feel free to add comments, suggestions or corrections via the comments form below.

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New Tools for Tracking NBC vs. CBS at YouTube

TubeMogul, the awesome online video traffic analysis tool, now (finally guys! 😉 ) offers embeddable charts, as well as a number of new social features.

Here’s the latest month of YouTube data for NBC and CBS, showing NBC’s continuous lead over rival CBS.

I’ve set the chart to show data from May 13 to Jun 12, 2007 – but you could just as easily set it to continuously auto-update and show the last thirty days.

TubeMogul – Empowering Online Video.

The Paris Hilton School of Blogging

So there I was, wide awake in my bed, wondering if the Crestor was keeping me from catching some much needed Zzzzs, when I decided to scramble over to my HP Media Center PC and check what was new on Digg. Over on my number two display, a trusty old 17″ BenQ FP731, my RSS aggregator, KlipFolio, diligently scrolled the latest Digg news. One headline caught my eye:

“How Paris Hilton Can Help Your Web Development (seriously)”

I clicked and waited mere milliseconds for Digg to pop-up on my primary monitor, an awesome Gateway HD FPD2185W. I read the comments on Digg and quickly had Firefox whisking me away to chartreuse’s Beta blog. As the post came up, I decided a late-nite snack was necessary to accompany this mix of marketing savvy and Paris Hilton photos.

Three slices of buttered Holsum whole wheat, crisply toasted in my DeLonghi oven, and a glass of milk would suffice for tonight.

The article is brilliant and shows how Hilton has exploited the attention economy to advance her own career. According to chartreuse, Paris is the queen of links, gratuitously dropping brands, locations and names whenever possible.

Though she hired a publicist to get her on Page 6, she never really talked about herself. She talked about other people. She would mention the designers of her clothes, the club she was going to, who made the sweater for her dog, all without any guarantee of any return. She just threw out links.

It’s gotten to the point where people are using the tactic of rejecting Paris as a marketing tool.

What the article doesn’t go into is how to apply this to your blog (as originally promised in the misleading Digg title). I’m not sure that dropping names on your blog will guarantee you rich marketing campaigns, but everyone knows that cross-linking helps boost where you appear in Google search results. So the best way to do a Paris Hilton on your blog is probably to link to other blogs of interest to your readers or articles and hopefully get some links back in return.

If you pay attention to other bloggers (and your content/banter/mojo is smart), they’ll eventually pay attention to you. Smart comments on popular blogs will also boost your “attentioness” on the Internet. But as usual, the best way is to provide smart, useful content for your readers. Unless you’re Google or Digg or YouTube or Paris and are simply a platform for the sale and promotion of attention.

This article comes to you thanks to WordPress blogs, Dreamhost hosting (use promo code 29OFF for $29 off any hosting plan), the Microsoft Windows XP operating system (at least until I get an Apple MacBook Pro), Sysinternals utilities and the wonderfully elusive CreateShortcut util by Jeff Key.