Tag: instructions

Goodbye Vox??? (aka How to Pack Your Bags and Regroup)

NOTE: This was a post over on Vox that I’ve exported over since the service is shutting down.

Edit: Upon re-reading my post, I realize I sounded a little bitter and accusatory of SixApart.  I am sure their decision to scrap Vox and move everyone out is not one they made easily or without consideration for the dedicated members of the Vox community.  The efforts they have gone through to provide export tools to TypePad and Flickr shows that they do care about the people that made Vox great, and they hope that those folks will have enough faith in them to follow them over to the platform that they DO plan to focus their attentions on.  I’m revising my post below to be a little less negative and try to focus more on what people can do to keep their content, wherever they decide to go from here.

I’ve been away from Vox for quite some time now, for work reasons and family commitments.  In fact, I probably wouldn’t even be posting this today if it wasn’t for the announcement that Vox has decided to close its doors and bulldoze the community that has been slipping away quietly in dribs and drabs as people became dissatisfied with what in the recent years has become a sort of pariah of the SixApart group.  As support for the Vox platform declined, so did the number of users who cared to deal with the idiosyncrasies of the tools, poor server loads, and influx of spam comments.  But now even those who stuck around through it all will need to make a decision.  The word is out folks, and it’s time to pack your bags hit the road.  Luckily, there’s a lot of handy tools and helpful instructions out there to insure that you don’t lose your content, and can hopefully transition on to bigger and better things on another blogging platform.

SixApart’s primary suggestion is that you transition your Vox blog to TypePad, another one of their blogging products, and one which, based on Steve’s recent post and comments below, looks to have A LOT of good people and support behind it to make it a fun and worthwhile product.  Although I have not used it (and thus really can’t express an opinion on it), I do recommend you give their Export to TypePad tool a chance and see what all the hooplah is about.  If you don’t like it, there are other export options that you can do that I’ll go into more detail about.

Right now, your options to export your Vox blog are as follows:

1) Export your blog (posts, photos, and audio) to a free TypePad blog
2) Export your photos and videos to a Flickr account (free or paid Pro)
3) Export your blog (posts, photos) to an alternative service such as WordPress or Posterous

Note: These are not mutually exclusive – you can export your blog + photos and audio to TypePad, and then export your photos + videos to flickr, and do another export of your blog to WordPress or the like)

Vox has #1 and #2 covered in pretty good detail – while logged in, go to www.vox.com and read the info there to see the links to export to TypePad or Flickr.  Also, more info can be found at closing.vox.com – including details of when you’ll not be allowed to post anymore, and when you’ll not be allowed to get your data any more.

As for #3, my suggestion?  Export to a WordPress blog.  Even if you don’t think you’re going to use WordPress, they will automatically import your Vox blog (posts and pictures – sorry, it still doesn’t do video or music) using their import tool.  Once there, you can easily export your entire blog contents to a single file that can be imported to almost any of the big named blogging platforms out there (there’s either direct import or conversion tools).  Plus, your pictures will be hosted by WordPress until you can find somewhere else that you want to host them.

Please note that you can either do a WordPress.com blog (i.e. they host it there) or a self-hosted installation of WordPress on your own site.  If you want to import to a self-hosted wordpress blog without any intervening steps, follow the instructions here to install the import plugins on your self-hosted installation and go to it.

If you’re not a WordPress fan and don’t want to try TypePad, you can also check out Posterous.  Vox has details and the link to export to Posterous here.  There are also tools that will allow you to import a WordPress blog into Blogger, if that’s more of your thing – just export to WP and then use one of those tools to transfer over.

I’d love for my Vox neighborhood to leave me comments to this post for where I can best keep in touch with you.  Just because I’ve been absent from Vox doesn’t mean I want to lose touch with those folks I used to converse with regularly.  It’s still going to be a little bit before I’m back in the office and around a computer all day (and thus have time to start posting again) but I’m not giving up on blogging and don’t want to stop reading everyone else’s funny, insightful, and entertaining blogs just because SixApart decided to nix Vox.

If you guys want to find me, I’ll be porting my blog over to http://rossotron.com .  I’ll transfer over any comments from this post, too, so if you want to use this as a reference for where to find people, you can check for the related post over on that site to see where people think they’ll end up, at least in the interim.

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Heisenberg, Physics, and Relationships (and more)

Found another really funny webcomic at www.basicinstructions.net.  The general premise is that each strip is a "How to" do something that usually results in snarky and comical dialog as the individual(s) follow the instructions.

They range in subject matter from things like "How to Remember the Name of that Song…You Know, That One" to "How to Explain Sex to Your Child".  Pretty much every single one of them (and there are a decent number in the archives) made me laugh, but the following two were just geeky enough for me to want to share:

First, following close behind one of my recent posts about the Heisenberg uncertainty principle as it relates to know-it-alls being right, wrong, or "Ross-right", the infamous Heisenberg rears his head again:

And for one of Scott Meyer's regular style comics, here's a set of great physics joke that I only wish I could have made:

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Avoid Starting Up the Wrong App, on Your Windows Box

Today I accidentally clicked on the AutoCAD LT shortcut in my toolbar for the umpteenth time, and groaned as my computer slowed to a halt while it booted up the behemoth program.  I had to wait until it completely loaded the drawing styles, the layouts, and a blank drawing from template before I could click the "X" to close the program and get back to the thing I had actually TRIED to open.

This got me thinking to an article I had read on Lifehacker about how to prevent these mammoth applications from starting up without your permission on the mac – and whether there was an easy way to do this for Windows, too.  A quick search of the comments pointed out that there might be some freeware/shareware applications that would do this (AutoHotKey, for example), but I wanted to do it without downloading/installing any more software.  A lightbulb came on above my head – why not use a batch file?

About 5 minutes of reading gave me the code calls I needed to create a quick-and-dirty batch file (.bat) that would allow me to prompt the user whether they really wanted to open the application or not.  Typing in 'y' or 'Y' would execute the application, anything else would close the prompt without opening the program.  A few minutes of coding, a couple minutes of testing, and I was done.  Success!

Read on for step-by-step instructions for how to craft one of these execution safeguards for yourself….

1. Pick the program you're going to safeguard.  Any memory-hog program might be worthwhile to implement this on, be it PhotoShop, AutoCAD, or even something like iTunes, MS Office or Adobe Acrobat.  It's up to you what you choose.

2. Find the name and path of the executable for the program.  If you right click on the shortcut and select properties, you can see the directory path to the program, as well as the executable's name (XYZ.exe).  Take note of what this is, you'll use it in the batch file to execute this when you are prompted.

3. Create the batch file for the safeguard.  Open your favorite text editor (or notepad, if you don't have anything else, and copy in the following:

@ECHO off
set choice=
set /p choice=Do you want to open <Enter Your Program Name Here>? Y/N?  
if not '%choice%'=='' set choice=%choice:~0,1%
if '%choice%'=='Y' goto yes
if '%choice%'=='y' goto yes
goto end
START <Enter Program Executable Name Here>
goto end

Note: Replace <text> with actual custom text for your application (remove <> when you replace, too!)

Save as XYZ.bat (name is up to you – I like to name it the same as the executable it will be loading, but that's my preference) in the executable directory. 

Note – you don't have to do this, but it saves you from having to enter the application path, and you probably won't be accidentally deleting the batch file if you put it in the program file directory.

If your text editor won't let you save as anything but a .txt file, get a better text editor, or go to the file after you save and rename as XYZ.bat.

4. Create your shortcut from the .bat file.  The easiest way to do this is to click on the .bat file and drag to your quicklaunch toolbar, which will automatically create the shortcut there.  You can also right-click and select "create shortcut".  Either way, just create one copy for now.

5. Customize your shortcut icon.  The default .bat file icon is really ugly.  You probably want it to look just like the icon of the application shortcut you'll be replacing so you can tell what program the shortcut is for.  Easy enough to do.
    a. Right click on the shortcut and select properties.
    b. Click the "Change Icon" button – it may give you a warning that the .bat file contains no icons – just click ok and you'll be presented with a list from the default directory.
    c. Navigate to the executable you'll be replacing and select that .exe file – usually they have one or more icons embedded in the .exe that you'll then be able to choose from.  If not, try another icon from somewhere else that appeals to you.
    d. Select the one you want, hit ok, and hit ok back out of the properties box.

6. Now that you have the shortcut the way you want it, copy it to all the locations you want (quicklaunch bar, start menu, desktop, app launcher, etc).  Delete the shortcuts that link directly to the application, as you'll not be needing these anymore.

7. Congrats, you're done!  The next time you accidentally click on one of these shortcuts, you'll get a dialog box asking if you want to open the program.  You'll have to physically type 'y' or 'Y' to start it up, with any other key simply closing the prompt.  No more inadvertent computer slowdowns for bulky applications you didn't mean to open!

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