I Hate FTP [en]

[fr] Je hais le FTP. Donnez-moi un accès SSH et screen sur le serveur, et me voilà heureuse.

Ever since I discovered the magical combination of SSH + screen, I have come to loathe FTP. Although some of you will cringe at the idea, I like working directly on the server. No stray copies lying around, dated I-don’t-know-what. No chance of mistakenly overwriting your last set of changes.

Screen is a terminal multiplexer (just learned the term). What you do, basically, is climb inside it when you’re on the server, and do everything from there. The advantage is that:

  • when you disconnect your SSH connection, screen keeps running, so your workspace is how you left it next time you come in
  • you can have multiple “screens” (ie, terminal windows) you can easily switch around, so you can have your IRC channel running in one screen, be editing a file in another, etc. (basically, multi-tasking like you would do with windows in a graphical environment).

I learnt shell commands as I went along. Those I use the most are:

  • wget http://wordpress.org/latest.zip to download (instantly!) the latest version of WordPress directly on the server
  • unzip latest.zip to unzip it, still directly on the server
  • mv wp old-200910 to archive an old installation of wordpress (or move other files around)
  • cp -Rf plugins/* ../../wordpress/wp-content/plugins/ to copy all my plugins to the freshly unzipped install of WordPress
  • nano wp-config-sample.php to add my settings to the file and save it as wp-config.php

These are just a few examples. Once you know these commands and have them at the tip of your fingers, how fast you work is only limited by how fast you can type them. And you’re doing things directly on the web server. You’re not stuck looking at the “real world” (= the server) through the imperfect lens of an FTP client, waiting for uploads to happen (or downloads), paying attention not to overwrite stuff, having everything ready on your computer before pressing the magic button and hoping everything will be all right, because otherwise you’re in for another bout of download, edit, upload…

Some of my clients have WordPress installations on servers with no shell access. Obviously, I don’t have as much practice doing things the FTP way, but I swear it takes me 5 times as much time to do things with no SSH access. When you know how to use it, the command-line is wickedly fast.

The only situation where I actually do like FTP is when I’m using CSSEdit, because coupled to an FTP client, I can be editing my CSS file with the added power of the programme on my Mac, and have it upload and update the file on the server each time I hit save. Because yes, it’s nicer to write CSS in CSSEdit than in nano.

But for managing files and moving them around and minor edits… I’m much happier sitting on my server inside my screen.

Similar Posts:

Happy iPhone Owner: My Favourite Apps [en]

[fr] Après quelques semaines d'utilisation, une liste des applications que j'utilise régulièrement et que j'apprécie. Deux recommandations en particulier pour la Suisse sont en tête de liste.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve had my iPhone for a few weeks now and installed a whole bunch of apps on it. Here are those I’ve found usefull (order not an indication of importance).

Swiss specials

If you don’t live in Switzerland, skip this section. If you do live in Switzerland, download these two apps right away.

  • 20 minutes in French, because when I take the bus at the end of the day there aren’t any left (it’s one of our crappy free papers). Plus, less paper waste. You can download to go while on wifi so that you don’t use up data. Also exists in German.
  • SBB travel planner because I use public transport and the iPhone app is nicer than the train timetable SMS service (which is pretty good already if you don’t have an iPhone). Works great for trains, less well for busses and trams. Particularly appreciated: it knows where I am and where my “home” is, and when I hit the “take me home” button it tells me when my next train home is — wherever I am :-). Note: I’ve just downloaded Transport, which is an open source app which does the same thing, to compare.

Online geekery

For the geeks out there. Play with your web2.0 toys on your iPhone.

  • Tweetie for Twitter. Not free, but not expensive either. Does multiple accounts (haven’t set that up yet) and works just the way I expect a Twitter client to work. Rien à redire.
  • Facebook — really great. Almost better than the Facebook site. Even has chat. My only regret is that I can’t see wall posts on events and groups through it.
  • Fring in case I need to chat or contact people through IM. Not using it much, because I’m not very agile yet with the keyboard, but it comes in handy.
  • Google Mobile gives you direct access to all your online Google stuff: Gmail, Gtalk, Docs, Calendar, Reader, and all the rest. It opens in Safari, but the shortcuts are really handy.


I guess I’m exactly what you’d call a casual gamer. I don’t play games much, but if you put one between my hands, I’ll have fun with it. I like simple stuff that doesn’t require much brain power.

  • Aurora Feint: The Beginning has got me completely hooked. It has a Tetris-like dimension (assemble blocks by threes or more and they “pop”, allowing upper blocks to fall down in the hole), and when you pass levels you can buy tools and powers that make your playing more effective. It has beautiful graphics, is very easy to get started with, and when you feel the need for more& head over to the player boards to learn some strategy!
  • Marble Mash is almost a “physical” game. You hold your iPhone flat, and try to guide the marbles through the maze without falling in the holes, by tilting the iPhone slightly in various directions. I had a woodem marble maze toy when I was a kid, and loved it. This is almost like the real thing, and great fun.
  • Crazy Penguin Catapult Lite is funny. You’re at the head of a team of kamikaze penguins who catapult themselves through the air to knock out polar bears by falling on them. Sounded a bit weird to me, but you quickly get into it and learn to avoid catapulting your fellow penguins into the walls. Squish.
  • iMinesweeper isn’t free, but for 1$, it almost is. Does anybody here need to be introduced to the famous Minesweeper game? Hours of fun ahead. Just a bit frustrating when you forget to change “modes” and expose a mine instead of flagging it. Ah& concentration.
  • JellyCar is another of these funny games. You must guide a rubbery, shape-changing car through a series of obstacles. You can grow the car or shrink it, or make it tilt forwards or backwards by tilting the iPhone. I haven’t played much, but the whole thing just makes me giggle along.


  • If found allows you to enter your contact details and a reward for if your iPhone is found. I hope it never comes in handy.


These are applications that haven’t yet won me over — either because I haven’t used them enough, or because I just installed them and I haven’t decided if they were promising or a disappointment.

  • Tumblrette for Tumblr. Not free, and I’m not sure about it yet. It keeps logging me out because there is a “+” in my e-mail address, and it mainly seems to display a webpage view of the dashboard. Haven’t really had a chance to see what more if offers me than the regular site.
  • Evernote looks good. I have it installed on my mac, and having it on the iPhone looks like a handy way to store visual “stuff”. I only installed it yesterday, so I can’t really tell you yet if I’m using it.
  • WordPress gives me access to post on my blogs, but honestly, I don’t see myself writing posts on my iPhone. I had hoped the application would give me access to my comment management screen, but it doesn’t. Maybe later?
  • Enigmo is a pretty fun puzzle game, where you use a variety of tools to guide streams of water (or oil, or lava) into their final recipients. I enjoyed it until I got desperately stuck somewhere around level 8. Maybe I just need to get unstuck. It’s another of these “almost free” apps.

I’ve installed a bunch of other apps, but I’m not mentioning them as I really haven’t used them. Do you have any other great apps to share?

Oh, a tip: to get the URL of something in the iTunes Store, ctrl+click on the app (or song, or album) and select “Copy iTunes Store URL”.

Similar Posts:

On the Road to Being a Healthier Geek [en]

[fr] Il y a un mois environ, une petite conversation avec mon médecin a eu des conséquences remarquables sur mon mode de vie:

  • je mange plus équilibré (pas dur de faire mieux que le régime pizzas)
  • je me déplace plus souvent à pied et je vais vendre ma voiture.
  • Sans rentrer dans tous les détails relatés dans la version anglaise de ce billet, mon médecin a réussi le tour de force de me motiver à faire quelques aménagements dans mon mode de vie, sans me culpabiliser (ce que je faisais déjà bien assez toute seule). J'ai pris conscience que ma mauvaise alimentation et mon manque d'exercice étaient probablement en train d'avoir un impact sur ma santé (physique et psychique), et qu'il n'était pas nécessaire de bouleverser complètement ma vie pour arranger un peu les choses.

    Côté nourriture, j'essaie vraiment de viser 3 repas et 2 collations par jour, avec 5 portions de fruits/légumes (pas si dur si on construit autour), de la viande ou du poisson une fois par jour, moins de féculents et moins de produits laitiers. En gros, les machins verts/rouges/jaunes, c'est la base. Ah oui, et du poisson 3 fois par semaine, c'est bien.

    Puis l'exercice... les fameuses 30 minutes par jour, ce n'est pas si dur si on décide d'aller à pied au centre-ville plutôt que de prendre la voiture ou le bus (Chauderon c'est à 20 minutes de chez moi). Du coup, ma voiture s'empoussière presque sur sa place de parc depuis un mois. J'ai décidé de la vendre, et l'argent ainsi économisé me permettra moult taxis et voitures Mobility...

This is the [long-overdue](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/3927673) post about the groundbreaking chat I had with my doctor about a month ago.

I went through a rather rough patch in November/December. Those months are usually tough for me, but this year was particularly stressful and tiring. Of course, there were objective reasons for that: I started working for myself in the summer, burnt the candle from both ends during my first months of school-less freedom (yay! I can go to bed at 4am and not feel guilty about it!) and generally had a hard time saying no to clients’ requests even if it meant a packed agenda, because, hey, it was stuff I was excited to do **and** it was paying the bills. So yeah, I had every reason to be feeling tired. However, I was a bit concerned about the fact that I didn’t feel less tired even if I got more than enough sleep, and I decided to go to the doctor for a check-up, just in case I was “missing something” by putting the blame on my lifestyle as a freelance consultant.

After taking a blood test (I will now remember to systematically present the person holding the needle with my right arm, as the left one has non-cooperative vein) I sat at my doctor’s desk for a little chat. He asked me what was bringing me there, and I told him the story. He asked me how I was sleeping — not quite enough, but reasonably regular hours and overall good quality. He asked me how I was doing in the food department — and that’s where it suddenly got very interesting.

#### Food

**I’ve known for years that my eating habits are disastrous.** Diet based on pizza, bread, and cheese. Skipping meals. Not enough fruit or veggies. I used to joke about it and say my main source of vegetables was pizza. I’d evaluate my meat intake as roughly ok, but not enough fish — everybody knows you never eat enough fish, and I hardly ate any. The only thing I knew I was doing right was the fluids part: I drink a lot, and most of it (if not all) is tap water (healthier than bottled water around here). I hardly drink any alcohol at all and I don’t smoke.

I told my doctor I’d been gaining weight (it’s not so much the weight itself that bothers me than the fact I feel too tight in some of the clothes I love to wear them anymore), and that during the summer I had tried to eat more veggies, but my effort had collapsed after a few weeks when my life became too busy.

This is where my doctor earns extra bonus points and good karma. Without making me feel more guilty than I was about my unhealthy diet, he managed to encourage me to try and improve things in small steps by explaining to me in what way one’s diet influences general health and well-being, and walking me through a few simple, concrete things I could easily do to eat better.

**A balanced diet is the starting point for all the rest.** When your diet is unbalanced, before getting into the really nasty stuff that shows up in blood tests, you are going to suffer minor hormonal imbalance, for example. This can make you a little more tired, fall ill a little more easily, and introduce subtle imbalance in your neurotransmitter levels. Neurotransmitters? Whee. I had never given thought to the impact food I ate could have on the chemical balance of stuff in my brain, and therefore my mood and general psychological health.

So that would seem to say: “a healthy diet might help me be less tired and in better psychological health” — did I get that right, doc? Now that’s encouraging.

Then he pulled out a food pyramid from a recent presentation he had just given a bunch of professional dancers on nutrition. I’ve found quite a bunch of those pyramids online, but they all seem to be different (here [the closest match I found](http://www.prevention.ch/ima31304.jpg), so I’ll just tell you what I remember of the one he showed me and our discussion.

The bottom of the pyramid is fluids (non-alcoholic). I’m good with that one. The second floor, however, is veggies and fruit (five portions a day). Then cereals, pasta, bread… three portions. Meat/fish/eggs are on the fourth floor (once a day, fish three times a week), sitting next to dairy products (here’s the catch… I can’t remember if it was once or three times a day for those… I suspect once).

Three solid meals a day **and** two snacks is the way to go. Oh my god, how on earth do I squeeze **five** veggie/fruit portions in there (two of them raw)? It’s not that hard, actually:

– orange juice at breakfast = 1 portion
– those little Andros fruit mushes you can buy at Migros = 1 portion
– a fruit for snack = 1 portion (or 2, if I do two snacks)
– stick pizza in oven, [grab a fruit or two, peel, chop up](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/4087943) and stick in a bowl for dessert = 1 potion (leaving them in the fruit basket doesn’t work, I won’t eat them)
– stick pizza in oven, grab a handful of pre-packaged fresh salad (Migros, Coop), add sliced tomato, sprinkle with a mix of pumpkin/sunflower/flax/sesame seeds (Migros), a little oil and vinegar = 1 portion with added [Omega-3](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega-3_fatty_acid) bonus
– aubergine or other veggie sliced and steamed, add salt/lemon/whatever to taste = 1 portion (my best acquisition over the last year was my [Tefal Steam Cuisine](http://www.tefal.com/All+Products/Cooking+appliances/Steamers/Products/Steam+Cuisine+1000+Easy+Store/Steam+Cuisine+1000+Easy+Store.htm)– easy to use, great for fish, little washing-up after).

The trick is to think about eating as organised around the veggies. Before, I tended to have mono-meals: either a piece of meat, or some pasta, or a huge salad, or a pizza. Now, any of these things would *at least* be accompanied with a salad or fruit.

Three-minute salad One trick I’ve discovered for salads is to **not** prepare them in a salad bowl. It sounds silly, but one of the biggest hassles with food for me is the washing up. I have a bottle of balsamic vinegar which is made to be *sprayed* on things, so I just put the green things on a plate, spray them with balsamic vinegar and add a little oil. One possible result of this effortless process can be seen here in the photo.

Another trick (for fruit, particularly) is **not** to buy packages with 10 kiwis or 6 apples. If I buy two apples and put them in my fruit bowl, I’ll eat them. If I have 6 of them, that’s too much — and I won’t. I also noticed that so-called organic fruit, or simply fruit that you by individually, is more tasty.

Fish three times a week isn’t too difficult to achieve using the steamer (stick fish in steamer, cook five/eight minutes, yum!) — concentrate on the [Omega-3 rich ones](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega-3_fatty_acid#Fish) like tuna/salmon/sardines. Fresh raw tuna is delicious too, but don’t [overestimate how much you can eat](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/4209283).

One month later, I’m still happy with the improvements I’ve made to my diet. I have to say that the simple fact I “have this food thing under control” has taken away a lot of guilt and stress, and is in itself making me feel much, much better. Of course, it’s not perfect — but my experience with life tells me that striving for perfection is the best way to Not Get Things Done ™. I suspect I don’t usually get my three meals **and** two snacks each day. When I eat out, things go to the dogs (though I do now always order a salad with my pizza). I don’t think I get my five portions of veggie/fruit, it’s probably more around four. Well, you get the idea — but I’m headed in the right direction.

One thing I plan to do is to conjure up some kind of monitoring sheet where I can cross out my veggie portions, meat/fish consumption, meals etc. I tend to have very little awareness of what I’m doing/not doing — for example, I was totally incapable of answering many of my doctor’s questions on what I was/wasn’t eating. So writing it down would allow me to be aware of how regularly I skip meals, for example, or to notice if my fish consumption goes down to once a week or less. I’ll blog the document if I get around to doing it.

#### Exercise

Another painful chapter was opened when my doctor asked “so, what about physical exercise?”


What? But, don’t I, like, do [a helluvalot of judo](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/tags/judo)? What do I have to worry about exercise? Well, the “helluvalot” part might have been true ten years ago, when I was training 4-5 times a week, but for the last years, between things like [injuries](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/11/11/correction-cerebrale/), too much work, and [car accidents](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/tags/accident), it’s more around once a week on average over the year. And, let’s face it, with thirteen years of judo underneath my black belt, I can also go to training and not tire myself out if I’m feeling lazy or out of shape.

So, I need another source of exercise. Leading a [geeky lifestyle](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/13/ce-soir-scenes-de-menage/) is all very well, but even without being [addicted to the internet](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2006/10/internet_addict.html) (it might just be [technological overload](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/09/technological-overload-panel/)), one has to agree that sitting in front of a computer all day, many days a week, is not exactly physical exercise, and probably not what the human body was designed for. Specially when you’re working from home and you live alone — trips to the kitchen and the bathroom don’t really add up to very much.

First, as with food, motivation and encouragement: something like cutting the risk of developing breast, stomach or colon cancer by 50%, just by doing 30 minutes of exercise per day. Wow. There are a whole lot of other benefits on your health, of course, but this is the one that struck me. So, 30 minutes a day? Damn, that would mean I have to take “time off” to exercise.

In summer, I go rollerblading by the lake. It’s nice, it’s good exercise (an hour or so from university to Ouchy and back), but it’s not so great when it rains. I need something I can do whatever the weather, says my doctor. Hmmm. I don’t like swimming. Dancing counts, he tells me — I don’t really like dancing either. Walking is ok, if it’s a brisk walk and not a gentle stroll in Ouchy on a Sunday afternoon. Cycling is ideal, he adds, specially on an indoor bike. Well, I have a bit of a space problem — but as he says, it’s all a matter of me deciding how important it is. You can buy a kind of tripod that you can stick a real outdoor bike on to turn it into an indoor bike, so it’s not that expensive (150CHF). Unfortunately, I don’t already own a bicycle.

So I decided to give walking a try. [All the walking I did in San Francisco](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/01/12/im-really-liking-san-francisco/) certainly helped me take the plunge. Minimal duration for the walk to be worth anything is 10 minutes (so 3×10 minutes = 30 minutes, good!) [Café-Café](http://cafecafe.ch) rehearsals, my brother’s place, shopping, post office — all those are 10-15 minutes away. No more taking the car to go there. I tried walking down to town, without taking the bus. Gosh, Place Chauderon is only 20 minutes away! Café de l’Evêché, 30 minutes! That’s about as central as it gets. No more taking the car to go into town either. There’s a bus-stop a minute away from where I live if I’ve done enough walking for the day and don’t want to walk home. And overall, the [Lausanne bus system](http://www.t-l.ch/) is pretty good and can take you more or less anywhere in the city.

One added advantage of walking places is that it means longer commutes (OMG! who would want that!) and allows me to listen to podcasts on the way. I miss the singing-at-the-top-of-my-lungs sessions in the car somewhat, though. Longer commutes are also good because they force me to reduce the pace of my sometimes mad days — I can’t pack meetings or activities wall-to-wall in three different places in and around Lausanne because I think “it’ll just take me five minutes to get there”. I get breathing space, and I get alone-time (time spent on the computer blogging, IMing, Skypeing and IRCing does **not** count as alone-time).

#### Going No-Car

I was telling a friend all this during [LIFT’07](http://www.liftconference.com/2007/), and the fact that my as my car was now spending many a day sitting on my parking space I was certainly not going to get a bigger one, when he flat-out suggested that I sell my car. Yeah, but… I need it to go to my sister’s, to my dad’s, etc. “Rent a car when you need it.” Hmmm, why not, but rental agencies are at the station, which is quite far off… Anyway, I dismissed the idea and enjoyed the rest of the conference.

A few days later, the background process had worked its magic, and I ended up spending a fair amount of time on the [Mobility website](http://mobility.ch/pages/?dom=6), looking up prices and figuring out how it worked. Basically, it’s a web-based car rental service which allows you to book your car, open it with your magnetic card, use it and bring it back — without having to involve another human being. You can also [rent cars from AVIS and Hertz through them at a reduced rate](http://mobility.ch/pages/index.cfm?srv=cms&pg=&dom=6&prub=623&rub=754). And more importantly, they have cars **everywhere**. At the Migros where I usually do my shopping. At the Coop in Prilly. Down the road. Up the road. All within walking distance.

It made sense to have a car when I had to drive daily to Saint-Prex or Bussigny, which is not a practical journey by public transport from my place. But now that I’m not commuting regularly anymore… The amount of money I pour into the car sitting in that parking space could just as well be spent on taxis and rental cars and leave me with extra aeroplane budget.

Bottom line? I’ve taken a four-month Mobility trial subscription, and I’m selling my car for March 9th. I’m losing my license for a month on that date because of my car accident this summer — so it’s a good time.

Thanks for the nudge, [Stowe](http://stoweboyd.com/)! 😉

#### Wrap-Up

I don’t know how many people will have the courage to read through this horribly long post, so here’s a quick wrap-up of what I’ve effortlessly changed about a month ago, and kept up with. All because the importance of a reasonably balanced diet and regular exercise for my (mental and physical) health really sunk in.

– 3 meals a day, plus two snacks (I’m still working on turning my breakfast into a “meal”)
– 5 veggie/fruit portions a day — build the rest of the food around those
– fish 3 times a week if you manage, meat/fish/eggs once a day
– eating frozen or ready-made stuff isn’t disastrous, just add salad/fruit
– commute on foot — many distances aren’t that huge if you take the trouble to try
– if you don’t use your car regularly, it might be more economical to go cab/rental.

More important than the specifics, what’s to note here is a change of attitude. Details are important, of course, as they are often what’s needed to make an intention into Things That Happen (check out GTD again). But alone, they are not sufficient. In my case, it took a few months of feeling rather unwell, and the fact that my doctor **took the trouble** to talk to me about these issues, for me to realise (a) they were important (b) they were probably having an impact on my life right now and (c) I wanted to do something about them.

Today, instead of thinking “what do I feel like eating” or “do I want to go rollerblading/walking”, I think “where am I with my quota of veggies/exercise, and what do I need to eat/do to reach it”. I don’t do it in an obsessive way, mind you. It’s just that food and exercise have become goal-driven, and there are rather effortless things I can do to move towards a goal I find worthwhile — so I do them.

On the road to being healthier geeks!

Similar Posts:

Geeky Frustrations [en]

[fr] Quelques râlages (comme quoi je ne fais pas ça qu'en français) au sujet de certains outils que j'utilise quotidiennement.

Right, so, just so I can get it off my chest, here is a list of little things that bug me with the tools I use daily. If I save them for a “proper write-up” they probably will never be posted, so… here goes.

– Twitter: let me see a differential list of those I follow and those who follow me, both ways. I need to know who is following me that I’m not following (maybe I missed somebody out) and who I’m following but they’re not (to keep in mind they won’t see stuff I twitter).
– Twitter: let me tag my friends, or sort them into buddy groups. Then let me activate phone alerts for only certain groups. One-by-one management is just impossible with 100 or so friends.
– Adium: let me [turn off Gmail notifications](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/5560398). I have Google Notifier for that. I hate having to click “OK” on that window all the time.
– Google Reader: let me [drag’n drop](http://steph.wordpress.com/2007/02/17/dragn-drop-in-google-reader/) feeds from one folder to another.
– Facebook: let me import more than one RSS feed in my notes.
– Nokia 6280 and Macbook: please sync with each other *each time* I ask you to, not once out of three.
– Nokia 6280: gimme a “mark all as read” option for my text messages, please!
– Nokia 6280: I’d say something about the really crappy camera, but there isn’t much you can do about it now, can you.
– iPod: let me loop through all episodes of a podcast instead of having to go to the next episode manually.
– iTunes: let me mix playlists as a source for Party Shuffle (30% My Favorites, 30% Not Listened in Last week, 40% Artist I’m Obsessing Over These Days… for example)
– Google Reader and del.icio.us: find a way to allow me to automatically post Shared Items to del.icio.us too.
– Flickr: let me link to “My Favorite photos tagged …” so I can show my readers what I’ve found.
– **Added 18.02.07 0:10** [Google Ajax-y Homepage](http://padawan.info/web/google_goes_mashup.html): let me Share Google Reader items, not just star them.
– …

Certainly more, but these were those which were bugging me badly just now. Well, they’re off my chest, now I can go back to fretting about all the [stuff I need to get rid of](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/5560379) in my flat and which is still lying around because I haven’t quite figured out the optimal way to dispose of it.

Similar Posts:

Steph+Suw Podcast: First! [en]

[fr] Suw et moi avons enfin enregistré le fameux podcast-conversation dont nous parlons depuis notre première rencontre, en mai 2004. C'est en anglais et c'est assez long, mais on s'en est pas trop mal sorties pour une première!

Each time [Suw](http://chocnvodka.blogware.com/blog/) and I meet, we talk about recording a podcast together. [We met for the first time in June 2004](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/06/08/uk-trip-report/), and if I believe the [Podcasting and Beercasting Thoughts](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/03/23/podcasting-and-beercasting-thoughts/) I wrote a little less than a year later, that was indeed when we first started talking about using audio to record conversations.

I’m definitely sure that we talked about it at [BlogTalk 2](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/07/07/blogtalk-20-compte-rendu/). I don’t think Skype was in the air then, but we talked about hooking up our phones to some audio recording device, and left it at that. At that time, people were getting excited about “audioblogging” (did we already talk about “podcasting” back then? It seems a long, long time ago) and we agreed that were audio really became interesting was in rendering conversations. (See the [Podcasting and Beercasting Thoughts](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/03/23/podcasting-and-beercasting-thoughts/) post for more about that.)

Anyway, now we have [Skype](http://www.skype.com/), and [Call Recorder](http://www.ecamm.com/mac/callrecorder/) (which reminds me, I need to write up a post about the ethics of recording audio conversations), and we finally got round to doing it. It’s a bit long-ish (40 minutes — not surprising if you know us!) and has been slightly edited in that respect, but honestly, it’s not too bad for a start.

Here is roughly what we talked about.

– [San Francisco](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/01/12/im-really-liking-san-francisco/), web geek paradise
– City sizes (see this [London-SF superimposition map](http://flickr.com/photos/dotben/362322811/))
– Segways
– The cat/geek Venn diagram ([Twitter error message](http://flickr.com/photos/factoryjoe/355210755/))
– I really want a Wii
– IRC screen names
– The difficulties of pronouncing S-u-w
– When geeks name children: A unique identifier or anonymity?
– Stalkers and geoinformation
– Perceptions of security
– Giving out your phone number and address, and personal boundaries
– Airport security ([background…](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/01/15/airport-security/))
– Risk and expectations of risk
– Death, religion, and the medical industry
– Naming our podcast… something about blondes, apparently
– Clueless marketeering from the Fabric nightclub in London
– The repercussions of having a blog that people think is influential (even if
you don’t think it is)

Let us know what you liked and didn’t like! [View Suw’s post about this podcast.](http://chocnvodka.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2007/1/23/2675001.html)

Similar Posts:

Miglia Dialog+ Cordless Skype Phone [en]

[fr] Test et critique du téléphone Skype sans fil (pas wifi!) Dialog+ de Miglia. Franchement sympa et abordable, en plus!

***If you want the [review without the whole chatty story](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/01/14/miglia-dialog-cordless-skype-phone/#dialogplus), scroll down.***

As is now public knowledge, my visit to San Francisco coincided with [MacWorld](http://macworldexpo.com/live/20/). (“Oh, you’re going to SF for MacWorld?” — “Mac-what? MacWorld? What’s that? Oooh…”) This was nice, because it gave me the occasion to join the geekfest, discover [lynda.com](http://lynda.com), watch the [Leopard](http://www.apple.com/macosx/leopard/index.html) and [iPhone](http://www.apple.com/iphone/) demos, buy a pink “Mac Chick” cap, and last and lot least, hang around my IRC friend Victor’s booth, which quite unexpectedly led to me walking off with a [Dialog+ cordless Skype/iChat handset](http://miglia.com/products/communication/dialogplus/index.html).

That booth was very obviously the most busy one in the row, and for a reason: [Miglia](http://miglia.com/) (drop the “g” when saying it, Italian-style) is a hardware company which make [a bunch of pretty cool toys](http://miglia.com/products/index.html) for Mac (and Windows!) users.

They have [digital TV stuff](http://miglia.com/products/video/digitaltv.html), which I’m unfortunately a bit deaf to these days, as wireless digital TV doesn’t really work in Lausanne, and the way Swiss TV does “bicanal” (the thing that allows you to choose between dreadful dubbed versions and original versions) seems to be somewhat non-standard. At least it didn’t work with [EyeTV](http://www.elgato.com/index.php?file=products_eyetvhybridna), which I tried and brought back to the store a few months back.

**Much more exciting for me: [cordless VOIP handsets](http://www.macworld.com/news/2007/01/12/migliavoip/index.php), and in particular the [Dialog+](http://miglia.com/products/communication/dialogplus/index.html). It’s a Skype/iChat cordless handset.** I’m [using Skype more and more](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/11/18/skype-mon-ordinateur-comme-centrale-telephonique/), and next best to a WiFi Skype phone (the geeky toy [I said I wanted for Christmas here](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/13/ce-soir-scenes-de-menage/)) is a cordless one. Unfortunately, most (if not all) of the cordless handsets I’ve looked at (see the [Skype Shop](http://us.accessories.skype.com/direct/skypeusa/accessoriesList.jsp?acctype=8) for example) have big nasty clunky non-laptop-friendly base stations. Not this one. Have a look at how laptop-friendly this is:

Miglia DialogPlus and dongle

And the price was nice too: $80 MacWorld price, $100 normal price.

Well, I was tempted. Very tempted. So tempted that I decided to buy it, after dragging Victor upstairs in the lobby where we could find wifi to try it out (I’m a bit picky about audio quality). On the way, we bumped into one of their PR (?) people, and a few seconds later I was eagerly saying “I’ll blog it, I’ll blog it!” at the prospect of being *given* the handset. Here for the disclaimer, then — but I would have bought it anyway 🙂

For the trouble, here’s a nicely [hReview-formatted](http://microformats.org/wiki/hreview) review of the phone, after 24 hours or so of ownership and a couple of outgoing Skype calls. People who didn’t care for the backdrop story should start here.

Miglia Dialog+ (DialogPlus) Skype/iChat Handset


Laptop-friendly Skype/iChat phone, light, nice sound quality and affordable price. Small USB dongle and recharges through USB too.

The first thing that stood out when I was shown this 100$ phone (80$ at MacWorld) is that instead of having an untransportable base-station, it has a USB key-like dongle which is easy to carry around with the handset. The handset itself is light, has good autonomy, and is recharged (3AAA batteries) with a pretty much standard USB cable, as shown in the picture. It’s something I can imagine carrying around all the time in my computer bag. Charging the DialogPlus

You can scroll through your Skype and iChat contacts on the phone easily, and even scroll through the Skype contact list which is displayed on your computer from the phone (it’s a bit eerie, as if the phone were a remote mouse or something). At first I wondered what the purpose of this feature was, but actually, even though the LCD display on the phone is very nice, it’s still even nicer to go through your contacts on your computer screen.

Besides the up/down, green-red, and normal number keys you’d expect on a phone, the Dialog+ has only three “special” keys: one to display call history (you can use it to toggle between received, outgoing, and missed calls), one to display your contact list (use it to toggle between all contacts and online contacts), and a third button (clear/backspace) which allows you to take control of the Skype contact list on your computer. It’s pretty easy to figure out what each button does and memorize it.

I personally don’t use iChat much, particularly for voice (I use Adium for instant messaging, and unfortunately it doesn’t do voice over IM), but I placed a couple of Skype calls to check the sound quality. My hearing is slightly impaired and I sometimes find that volume settings on phones don’t allow me to listen at a comfortable level. Not the case here, I could hear the person I was speaking with very clearly. However, people on the other end do hear an echo if the volume is set too high, and have complained a bit about the audio quality they receive. This can be due to the quality of the Skype connection, but I’ll try lending my phone to somebody and have them call me to hear for myself.

Setting up the phone was rather simple: close Skype, install the driver from the CD, pair the phone with the dongle by pressing the little square button on top of it. At first my phone said there was “No contact list”, so I tried reinstalling the driver and re-opening/closing Skype, and it worked. Not quite sure what went wrong, but it fixed itself quite nicely. The instructions booklet is just the right thickness and contains clear explanations. I would, however, call this a “cordless” phone rather than “wire-free” — when I read that on the back of the phone, I went “wi-fi phone?!”, which of course, is incorrect.

So, to sum it up: very happy about the toy and its design. I’ll certainly be using it. I just unwittingly gave it its first crash test by kicking it off the sofa as I was writing this post, and it survived. According to the booklet, it has good autonomy. I still need to dig into the audio quality a little, and see how it works when I start walking about my flat with it (upto 25 meters range).

I was disappointed at first that I couldn’t send text messages from it, but actually, that’s not too bad: if I have the Dialog+, I have my computer nearby — and anyway, Skype text messages aren’t always very reliable (for example, depending on the carrier, they don’t give your own phone number as the “reply” number, and messages get lost).

Great job, Miglia — oh, and I nearly forgot: Miglia’s interest being hardware sales, the phone comes with free software upgrades. For life. Neat!

My rating: 4.0 stars

Similar Posts:

Ce soir: Scènes de Ménage [fr]

[en] On TV tonight (just 5 minutes). Will post a link once it's online.

Je fais très bref vu l’état (et je vous parlerai de [SarkoWeb3](http://del.icio.us/tag/sarkoweb3) quand j’aurai récupéré). Si vous êtes à la maison ce soir, vous aurez l’occasion de me voir faire de mon mieux pour répondre aux questions de Martina Chyba durant les cinq minutes que dureront le plateau de l’émission [Scènes de Ménage](http://www.tsr.ch/tsr/index.html?siteSect=349300) (TSR1), consacrée ce soir aux geeks et à la technophilie rampante en cette période de Noël. [Cinq minutes qui ont occupé tout mon vendredi après-midi](http://steph.wordpress.com/2006/12/09/murphy/), et même plus.

J’ajouterai le lien une fois que l’émission sera en ligne. L’émission est en ligne!

Update (en direct): je tiens à préciser que je ne suis pas d’accord avec la “définition” geek (+ nerd) donnée dans l’émission après le premier sujet… Pour moi ils parlent des cas déjà problématiques, là.

Similar Posts:

Project With Technorati API [en]

[fr] J'ai un projet de répertoire de blogs suisses construit sur Technorati. Je cherche un développeur pour la partie PHP/MySQL/TechnoratiAPI et un designer/graphiste pour l'interface web. C'est un projet non lucratif mais qui peut rapporter visibilité et célébrité à  ceux qui y prendront part!

You might have heard that [blog.ch is for sale](http://blog.ch/blog/archives/2006/03/04/blogch-zu-verkaufen/ “Announcement, in German.”). As we all could suspect, Matt unfortunately and understandably doesn’t have time for [SwissBlogs](http://swissblogs.com/ “The oldest Swiss blog directory.”) and handed it back to me a few weeks ago.

I have plans for SwissBlogs, which involve a complete make-over and using “what’s out there” as much as possible. I think it’s silly to spend energy re-inventing the wheel. I won’t go into details here, but my idea involves building on all the data already available through Technorati. [I mentioned this idea on the bloggerbosse list](http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bloggerbosse/message/117) but got the feeling everybody was just interested in building something from the ground up.

I have the ideas, but not the time (and my limited skills would make the necessary time long) to implement it. I’m looking for a developer who could do the PHP, MySQL and Technorati API stuff, and a designer to take care of the web part. The directory I have in mind would be a public service, and would be **strictly non-profit**. I want people who are in the directory to not worry about their data being sold or distributed as part of a list for marketing purposes.

If you’re interested in participating, and have **time and energy** to spend on the project, drop me a line or leave a comment. Credit will be given, of course, which means fame awaits you if everything goes as planned.

Similar Posts:

Simple Technorati Tags Plugin for WordPress [en]

A simple plugin for WordPress which lets you display tags (or keywords) in your posts. Tags are stored in a Custom Field (no database modification required).

[fr] Un plugin simple pour WordPress qui vous permet de garnir vos billets de 'tags' (étiquettes) qui seront compris et interprétés par Technorati. Ce plugin ne modifie pas la base de données, et permet l'affichage de tags stockés dans un Custom Field nommé "tags", sous forme de liste de mots séparés par des espaces. Il est aussi possible d'afficher ainsi des mots-clés se trouvant dans un Custom Field nommé "keywords".

Update 31.01.07: The wp-plugins.org wiki isn’t allowing edits anymore. The plugin has been [updated to version 0.6](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/01/basic-bilingual-and-bunnys-technorati-tags-plugins-updated-for-wordpress-21/), compatible with WordPress 2.1, by [Sudar](http://sudarmuthu.com/blog/2007/01/31/wordpress-21-and-custom-field-plugin-gotcha.html). Get [Bunny Tags](/code/bunny-tags.zip).

Update 21.01.05: Please see Bunny’s Technorati Tags on the wp-plugins.org wiki for information about this plugin!

As wp-plugins.org isn’t letting me in yet, here is a little post to announce my first real live plugin for WordPress (one can’t exactly say that Batch Categories is a proper plugin).

Bunny’s Technorati Tags (zip, phps) provides you with a template function that you can use to easily display Technorati tags for your posts. The tags are stored in a Custom Field, so this plugin does not require any modifications of the database structure. The plugin has not been thoroughly tested on different versions, though it works fine on my recent 1.5 nightly. As it is really very basic, I don’t believe you’ll run into any major compatibility issues on other versions (do keep me informed, though).

Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin (manually or with the Plugin Manager, enter a space-separated list of tags in a Custom Field named “tags”, and place the following code in your template where you want the list of tags to appear:

<php the_bunny_tags(); ?>

If you’re like me and you’ve been painfully entering comma-separated keywords for your posts using a Custom Field of same name, you can use the following line to use these existing keywords as tags:

<php the_bunny_keyword_tags(); ?>

Update 21.01.05: by setting $bunny_strict to false (see SETTINGS at the top of the plugin code) you will display keywords as tags for posts which do not have tags.

This might not be the greatest idea, as I believe tagging and choosing keywords is a different process, but it makes me happy for the moment, so I thought I’d share this possibility with you too.

Future development of the plugin includes adding a text input to the “Create New Post” form for easy tagging. (Coming as soon as I can figure out how to do it.)Done!

Plugin available on wp-plugins.net and wp-plugins.org.

Update 21:40 Who’dathunkit? Version 0.2 is out already, with a nice little “Tags” field in the post editing form. the_bunny_keyword_tags() has been revised to display keywords only when no tags are present. All the tagging pleasure is yours to take!

Update 21.01.05 Version 0.3 is out. Upgrade strongly recommended, or your tags won’t be indexed correctly by Technorati.

Similar Posts:

Thinking About Tags [en]

What if taggy applications like Technorati, Flickr and Del.icio.us started allowing us to query multiple tags with “and” and “or” operators?

[fr] Une proposition pour pouvoir combiner les tags (comme "blogosphere ET blogosphère", "livres OU films") dans des services comme Flickr, Del.icio.us, et maintenant Technorati.

Some quick thoughts about tags, following Technorati Tagified.

So, there is “blog“. And “weblog“. And “blogs“. And “weblogs“.

How about a way to get the posts/photos/links tagged with any of these tags? Maybe something like .../blog,blogs,weblog,weblogs/.

That would also solve some multilingual problems: get “blogosphere” and “blogosphère” together on the same page with .../blogosphère,blogosphere/.

At del.icio.us, I tag the books I’ve read with “books/read“, and films I’ve seen with either “films/seen/cinema” or “films/seen” (if I saw them on DVD). This used to work fine, because a del.icio.us bug (poor me thought it was a feature) would include links tagged as “films/seen/cinema” when one asked for “films/seen“. That doesn’t work anymore.

Say I avoid messing with tags-with-slashes, and tag films I saw at the cinema with “films seen cinema” and others with “films seen dvd”. I’ll probably also have links tagged “films” or “cinema” but which are not tagged “seen”. How could I pull out a list of links tagged “films” AND “seen”? Perhaps something like .../films+seen/.

Update, 10:00: Kevin tells me “+” signifies a space in a URL. Maybe “&” could do the job instead, then? And if “&” can’t because it’s supposed to separate parameters, any other suggestions?

Update, 11:40: holy cow, Del.icio.us does this already! I’ve updated my tags and lists. See “books+read” for books I’ve read, and “films+seen” for films I’ve seen. I’m a happy bunny!

Let’s get wild, shall we? .../books-read/ could list things tagged as “books” but not “read”.

Now we only need a way to assign operation priority, to be able to start retrieving lists like “books I’ve read or films I’ve seen which are also tagged as india” — wouldn’t that be cool?

Taggy application developers, hear the call!

Thanks to rvr and GabeW for the little discussion on #joiito which prompted me to write this post.

P.S.: has anybody written that WordPress plugin yet? (You know the one I’m talking about: the one that lets you painlessly technorati-tag your posts.)

Similar Posts: