Set an auto notification for a Craigslist Search

Ever heard of IFTTT?  Me either until I attended a network seminar at a local real estate office back in October.  The presenter told us about IFTTT (if then then that) website that allows you to make an automated trigger with two programs or resources either on your computer or iPhone, iPad etc.  At first I didn’t give it much thought thinking it was just a gadget or possibly a network privacy concern but after looking again I found something I really liked.

I often look for used products on craigslist.  First off let me say…craigslist is not for everyone.  It can be time consuming, fruitless and sometimes dangerous to use craigslist (creepy people) but those who do use it know it can be a great way to get used products for a killer price, sometimes even free.

The problem is having to constantly sift through the listings trying to find the perfect item before the next guy buys it before you.  I just don’t have time.  In comes IFTTT to the rescue.  With IFTTT you can trigger a specific craigslist search to send you an email each time a new item is listed that fits that search.  Let me break it down…example, lets say you are looking for a Mac Mini and specifically a 2012 model.  You can go to IFTTT and say “if” a mac mini 2012 is listed on craigslist “then” email me (any email that you specify).  That way you get an occasional “ding” throughout the day in your mail box, you take a look, if the ad looks good follow up, if not delete.  No more craigslist searching day after day.

Let me show you how…Go to ifttt.com

On this page type in craigslist and search

Go to ifttt and search craigs list

 

Then Choose the recipe by mckenziec as shown below

Go to ifttt and search craigs list 2

 

Now set up your search criteria by clicking SEARCH URL

Go to this Recipe and enter a search peramiter

 

That will take you to the craigslist page.  Make sure you are in your area or city and type in the search (for my example “mac mini 2012”) and hit search.  Once the page loads you copy the page address at the top of your browser.

Create a Search for Craigslist and Copy the link

 

Now back on the recipe page enter that URL or paste it like this…

Paste your shirt Here

 

Then click USE RECIPE.  That should be it.  Now any time anyone adds a “mac mini 2012” listing you will be notified via email.  Once the Recipe is created you can check it by clicking the “CHECK” button to make sure it works and all the components are “talking” to one another.  You can go back and change, disable or delete this at anytime too.

This is just one way to use ifttt…enjoy.

Best headphones for the money…No question!!

UPDATE:  I have now had these for a few months.  After a run through the washer and dryer, sitting in my car in the freezing winter temps, I can say they still keep cranking out great sound.  Seem to be tough, wires arent broken so big thumbs up to durability.

Some things are worth an honorable mention and some things are worth raving about.  Well, these little guys are fantastic!…I am raving!!!  I bought the Panasonic HJE120 headphones off of Amazon because they had over 4 stars with over 8,000 reviews.  I have been using my Sennheiser cx300’s for 5 years and don’t get me wrong, they are awesome but I have to say these Panasonic headphones are really good, maybe better.  A little unusual with the shape and fit but once you snug them in you get deep rich bass (not overdone) and a wide open clean soundstage.  I couldn’t be happier.  Oh…Did I mention $5-$7 on Amazon.  Click the link below and buy direct from my page.  Enjoy!

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Available in a rainbow of colors too!

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Build and Set Up XBMC on a Raspberry Pi Computer

This is a quick tutorial on how to assemble the Raspberry Pi and where to buy some of the parts.  Take a look and let me know if you have any questions.

Lets Prepare a card for running RASPBMC (XBMC on a Raspberry PI)

Now that you have put it together lets download some repositories

Finally Set up XBMC on a Raspberry PI…this is long…

Configure your SD card to run Raspbmc on your Raspberry Pi

Hi guys.  I wanted to link my video tutorial that I have recently uploaded to help those who are trying to install Raspbmc on to their SD card to run the XBMC program on a Raspberry Pi.  It can be a little confusing so I made an easy to follow video.

If you are confused by what the heck I just said in the paragraph above don’t worry I will break it down.  The raspberry pi is a micro computer that many are using as a mini home theater PC.  The Raspberry Pi runs Linux, or other variants of operating systems.  Two that are popular (because they run the the XBMC interface) are RaspBMC made by a guy named Nazarko and Raspbian made by some other guy (forgive me I don’t know the developer).  I have only installed RaspBMC.

The RaspBMC operating system needs to be installed over the web with a live internet connection.  The SD card must first be prepped so when you first plug in your Raspberry device it will know what to do.  Think of the card as self booting and self installing.  Once you follow my video and install the RaspBMC software then you install the SD card into the Raspberry device, plug it in and it takes it from there and finishes the software install.  Believe me, its a lot easier than it sounds.

Check it out.

Upgraded to Mavericks and now you can’t connect to your NAS?

UPDATE: Mavericks 10.9.2 was released February 2014 and SMB2 seems to be working fine now. The below steps may not be necessary.

With any upgrade there are bound to be problems.  With the new Mavericks OS update from Apple I have experienced two really unfortunate issues.  1) My copy of Adobe After Effects no longer works and 2) I can’t write to or read any NAS files.  Adobe’s suggested fix is a creative cloud membership at $49.00 a month and all will be peachy…right?  No thanks.

At least I found a “work around” for the NAS issue.  Just in case you’re wondering a NAS is a “NETWORK ATTACHED STORAGE”.  Basically a hard disk (or a series of them) that are connected through the ethernet to your home network so all your devices can access the data.  The problem was very strange at first.  I could see the drive and the folders but as soon as I tried to drill down into them BLAMO! Error-0 message.  That was it, I assumed I was fried until I googled and found out that Mavericks now uses SMB2.  Server Message Block is the way the computer talks to the server (or hard disk) and enables it to send and receive data…there is a version 1 and 2.  I am trying to keep it simple and I may not be absolutely correct but it doesn’t matter.  I am gonna show you a work around until Apple corrects the problem.  I was strolling along fine with SMB (the original 1) and then Apple went and changed their protocol to SMB2.  I used NFS with some success but that broke with the Mavericks upgrade as well.  Thank God for CIFS.  CIFS stands for Common Internet File System and is an application layer protocol.  Don’t worry, I don’t know what that is either.  OK…enough chatter lets fix it.

You will need to re-connect your newly upgraded Mavericks Mac using the CIFS Protocol.  The way you do this…from the home screen you go to the “go” tab and click the drop down menu and at the bottom click on “connect to server”

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and a small window will pop up and look something like this…

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At this point you may already see your server identified something like this  smb://yourservername or serveraddress/somefoldername  mine looked like this:  smb://192.168.1.132/Music – Tower

Now in the address input block retype your server address the same way but make sure it starts of with CIFS instead of SMB

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mine looked like this:  cifs://192.168.1.132/Music – Tower…yours will be different

Now click the add button  (square button with the plus sign)

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Now highlight the address (the one starting with cifs) and select “Connect”

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And you should now see your server folder open like this…

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That’s it…

If you get an error message don’t panic…just check to make sure you’re typing your server address exactly the way it is shown and that it starts off with “cifs” without the quotes.  Try again and it should work.  From the desktop the quick keystroke to get to the server connection is the command-k keystroke.  This will help you get connected with less keystrokes.  There are also ways to have your computer auto connect to your server upon reboot or boot up.  For now I will forgo the auto connect tutorial hoping that this will be a temporary arrangement until Apple fixes on a future upgrade.

This isn’t perfect but it gets you communicating with your NAS…while Apple gets it sorted out.  

“Hey Apple!  What would Steve say?!!”  Get it together, you’re the most valuable company in the world…Act like it.

 

Remembering the Albums…

After giving my daughter her record player that she requested for her birthday I was drawn in while testing it out. Everyone was out of the house and I listened to an entire side of a Gordon Lightfoot album. It really brought back memories of easier times.

There is a tangible physical nature that’s hard to explain.  You held music in your hands.  Watched it spin and respectfully would not lift the needle to rush to the next track.  You would actually listen giving the song it’s due.  That’s what the artist wanted.  That went away somewhere along the line.  It was born of a slower time when we could spare the hours to share an experience never to be interrupted by the beep of a text or a ring of the phone.  I was young but do miss it a little.  Fire in the fall, thanksgiving dinners and easy times.  You only communicated with the ones you were physically with.  Engaged.  Not distracted.  Enjoying just being there, right then.  It was more NOW and less EVERYTHING ALWAYS.

Rigid Palm Nailer

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I am a contractor so its very hard to get me excited over tools.  To me a saw is a saw and a drill is a drill.  I am jaded I know but every now and then something cool comes along and the kid in me gets all giddy.  One of my employees came to me the other day stressing that he had a next to impossible job of nailing a hanger (construction support device) in a tight location.  I remembered seeing these once but had a hard time finding this until I hit the shelf at Home Depot.  There is a gadget called a Palm Nailer sold next to the air compressors and nail guns in Home Depot.  Its made by home depots own house brand RIGID and it is only $69.

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The nailer fits in the palm of your hand and drives the nail in place with repeated pulses of air with a “tapping” system similar to a jack hammer.  Its only 5-1/2″ deep and seems to be built very well.  The nose of the nailer has a magnetic charge so it holds the nail in place until you are ready to drive it in.  Its very fast and the nails penetrate like butter.  For that tough spot, nails large or small…this is your tool.   You will need to own or purchase an air compressor and hose if you don’t already have one but if you are a contractor or fabricator that already has these you will only need to invest the $69.

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Check out the video to see it in action

Great Method for Photo Backup – WWW.FLICKR.COM

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Ok, I am tired of hearing about my friends and family losing “all” of their pictures. “I had it backed up!” they say. Let me tell you, putting a bunch of photos on an external drive and calling it backed up is irresponsible and very risky! Don’t worry I am not judging I am speaking from experience. I once had a hard disk in a docking station with over 1 terabyte (that’s alot BTW) of personal photos and videos. I got my foot tangled in the power cord and just tipped it over and the drive, while spinning, landed on the soft carpet. Literally it fell maybe 3 inches. I waited for it to spin down and then re-inserted the drive into the dock and I heard the “click, click, click” of death. All data was gone. I even sent it off to a company in Miami for recovery and NADA!…I got nothing back. Sad story but true.

Hard Drives are physical. They can, no they DO fail. All too often I hear of people going out, buying an external drive and writing all of their photo and video data to the drive and then deleting the original data from their computer. It clears space, speeds up the computer right? Well a couple of questions…did you verify that all the data was correctly written? Is the drive good? Has it been tested for longer than the time you had it out of the box? These are all valid questions. Usually like 90 percent of the time it goes down without a hitch. It has for me for over 20 years of computing…until that one day and it will come.

Backup is best defined as two copies of something. I know there may be data experts that will jump all over my definitions but I am writing this to help “the typical guy” not an IT guru. Data in two places… so in the external hard drive scenario the backup would have been decent had the person not deleted the original copies off of the computer. Then they would have a live copy and a backup copy on the external. Now if they unplugged the external it gets even better because then it’s not subject to the same power surge by lightning that the original copy/computer could face. Now if you took that external to your moms it becomes “off site” backup which would be ideal. Now all of these steps start to get silly. Next thing you know your hard disks will be in four different counties and you’ll forget where all of your stuff is. Not really but you get what I am saying. So along comes Flickr.

Flickr is a photo managing website that has actually been around for a while. Flickr uploads both photos and video. The video is very compressed and I would not recommend using Flickr for videos. Recently, not exactly sure of the date Flickr has extended 1 Terabyte of free storage with their site. Yes for free!!! So a quick primer on megabytes to terabytes. Don’t worry I will keep it simple. An mp3 of decent quality is around 3 megabytes and a very large photo is 4-5 megabytes. Those are big files. Now, you could store approximately 350,000 mp3’s in that space or 260,000 very large photos. I have been collecting my digital photos for many years and I think I may have 100,000 total. So you get the picture here. Oh, and by the way my daughter has her own Flickr and so can all of my other children.

Why I like it so much… Some of you may be saying “well big deal, who cares really.” Let me pose a scenario. Your mom comes over and wants to see those pictures you have of that wedding 3 years ago. Off you march to the office to grab your “storage drive” to bring it back and plug it into the computer. Then you go into the pictures folder and start searching and you better hope you used a naming method that helps you quickly navigate to the pics or mom is just gonna say “that’s ok hun, I really don’t need to see it, I was just curious” and you just spent five to ten minutes not finding what you were looking for. Now the flip. Mom already saw the pics or pulled them up on her Flickr app that’s on her iPhone because she also has a Flickr account and you are “contacts” with one another on Flickr so you can see each others pics. Sweet.

What you will need for a Flickr account is a Yahoo.com email account and that’s it. Once you have that you can log right in and set up your Flickr page. It has several settings that make searching and navigating very nice. It isn’t all perfect as the upload to the site can be very slow. To be honest the Flickr uploader is not all that convenient as it limits you to the number of photos you can upload at one time. One tool you can use which I find to work very well with massive uploads is called flickrsync. It does not upload videos but it does upload photos well and allows you select multiple folders and files all at once.

Flickrsync Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 6.54.04 PM

 

Once you have all of your photos on Flickr that’s when you can have some fun. You can install app’s on multiple devices and use them to access your photos without having to clog up your device memory with megs and megs of data. Many DVD Players and Smart TV’s have a Flickr app built-in as well. It really depends on the manufacturer. But purely from the basis of storage…its a no brainer. Spend the time up front to transfer your pics to Flickr and you will have a good offsite backup. Then even if your house burns down you can log back into Flickr to see what it used to look like.

My favorite app for viewing my flickr photos on my iPad and iPhone is by far FlickStackr. This makes viewing your picture archive the way it should be. Oh…Free.

FlickStackr

 

 

Creating a Shared Family Calendar and Everyone Stays in Sync – iPhone and iPad CALDAV

The topic of synchronizing a common calendar across an entire family’s set of devices came up at my neighborhood pool yesterday. (I know…we are that boring.) I couldn’t actually remember how to do it so I was unable to explain it to my friend. I went through the exercise of doing it all over again step by step to share with others and refresh my own memory.

A couple of years ago I was struggling with trying to keep my family in Sync. We have 6 members in our household and trying to get everyone on the same page was impossible. I did a little research on how to do this and finally came across a method that works for me. I now have a unified “family” calendar that I can place entries and reminders and everyone sees the same thing. We have 5 iPhones, 2 iPads and two Macs. This isn’t an Apple promo but its just the way I am set up. Its not always perfect because like anything its subject to the user “garbage in garbage out”. At least I give my self a fighting chance, right?

Here is what you do…You set up a new GMAIL ACCOUNT. I know stop complaining I don’t like having to do things this way either…just stick with me and you’ll see that it works. Set up a new gmail account. You want to name the user/email for the account something like “smithfamilycal@gmail.com” or “johnsonfamilycal@gmail.com” etc. Something that tells you that it is the FAMILY CALENDAR. Don’t get overly concerned with the email and settings as we are only setting it up to access the calendar function of google. Once you have the account set up save/write down your username/email and password so you don’t forget them. Now you are ready to set up the first device.

1-Pick up your iPhone and go to settings (looks like a little gear)

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2-Now scroll down until you see -Mail, Contacts, Calendars-…select it

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3-On this page choose the -Add Account- option

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4-Now you should be on this page, and you want to choose -Other-

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5-Under the CALENDARS heading you choose -Add CalDAV Account-

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6-On this page you enter:

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Server: www.google.com
Username: Enter The email you picked when making your gmail account
Password: Enter The password you picked when making your gmail account
Description: I call mine “Simpson Family Calendar” this is only a description

Mine Looks Like This…

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That should be it for set up.

Now go back to your main iPhone start screen and select The Calendar icon and click the plus sign to add a new calendar entry

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Enter an event called “test” and then scroll down. On the information page where you entered “test” there will be a choice below called “Calendar”. This is where you choose which calendar your entry will be placed on. (the family’s or just your iPhone)

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Once you click on that you can choose which calendar you want the entry to be on

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Click your family calendar and move the check mark and select it

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Now you can see on your calendar the event you created with a colored dot next to it. This color now indicates the family calendar. You can change the colors but thats another blog. 😉

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Hit the plus mark again and now add an entry for the iPhone calendar (its simply called “Calendar”).

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Notice when you look at the calendar that there are two events with different colored dots. When you add events to your iPhone calendar only you and those on your phone can see it. Any entries on your family calendar will be visible to anyone with a device who has the same caldav settings as you do on your phone.

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Now repeat the steps starting at step one on the other iPhones and iPads and watch the syncing magic begin. The family calendar will auto synch with google and then transmit among all of the devices. Quite cool actually.

Its not necessary to place a test event on every device. I was only demonstrating how the settings worked.

This is not limited to only iDevices and Macs. This setup will be similar on Android devices too. If I missed a step or something doesn’t work please let me know in the comments (top right corner). Good luck.

Apple iPhone 4 16GB (Black) – Verizon
Apple iPhone 4 16GB (Black) – AT&T