January 22, 2018

Zotero again

Sometimes, a good old-fashioned document beats a blog post. I've decided to use a published Google Document to update how to set up Zotero; using a published Google Document will make updating instructions much easier and faster.

January 21, 2018

getting started with Brackets.io

When I first downloaded Brackets, I didn't quite understand how it worked (i.e. I could not for the life of me figure out how to write HTML and generate a preview). After a little trial and error,  googling, and YouTube videos, the answer is actually quite easy. Basically, the preview works in Brackets if your file is saved as an HTML file. Let's go through this step by step to show you how I set up my work in Brackets.

I like to store my blog posts in one place. And right now, pretty much everything is stored in Google Drive for me.

  1. Create a new folder in Google Drive and name it BlogPosts or whatever you want.
  2. Open Brackets
  3. Go to File → Open Folder, and choose your new folder (arrow code comes from here)
  4. Create a new document
  5. Save it (name it anything you want- e.g., the name of a post, etc.)
  6. Then right click and rename it by adding the extension .html

That's it! Now you can click the preview button in Brackets and see the outcome as you write your code.

Now when I want to make a new blog post, I just open brackets and write my post in html. Once I'm done, just copy and paste the HTML code into a new Blogger post (of course, make sure the post's html editor is selected!) and I'm done! Where has this been my entire life...?!!!

Some Hints

  1. At the bottom of the editor, you get to choose what kind of code editor you want to use (e.g. C++, html, etc). So if you're writing html, make sure you choose that to get all the bells and whistles of the Brackets' editor for HTML. 
  2. If your html code is off in some way, the preview will become disconnected. Fix this by either refreshing the preview pane or fixing the code. I find that it stays connected and works best when the entire post is bounded by the "body" code. 
  3. The easiest way to make the font size bigger is to just use CTRL+ +sign

blogging in text and text editors

I've been testing going all-in on writing blog posts only in text. I'm doing this for two main reasons: 1) I've realized that if I ever want to be fully comfortable in code, I'm just going to have to take the plunge and just write in it a lot (practice makes perfect, right?) and 2) I was tired of what a pain it is to work in WYSIWYG in Blogger, etc.

standard text editor with online check

So I started with my trusty Notepad++ and it works great. The one disadvantage was that I then had to test the code somewhere. I googled "test html editor" and found quite a few including online html editor (requires disabling Adblock), htmledit from squarefree, code beautify, and W3Schools HTML Editor. These are basically two-pane editors where the code goes on side and then you can generate a preview on the other side. Again, these work great, but required being online and that extra step.


Then I thought-- what about using Simplenote? It makes use of basic text, has a bunch of different apps (for Windows, Android, etc.), and handles markdown. The desktop version even comes with a preview and I could access it from everywhere! In fact, I'm writing this post in Simplenote! But I hit a snag- Simplenote works great for handling markdown, but there's not really a preview for html/xhtml code. Of course you could write in HTML, but Simplenote isn't the best editor for that (no numbered lines, auto codes, colors).

full on HTML editor?

So I went back to looking for a full service HTML editor. Another Google search turned up the following: Upwork's post about text editors and a discussion in CodeAcademy. The winning options seemed to be Sublime Text, Atom, and Brackets.io. Upwork's post gives a great review and I decided to try Brackets because it's free, open-source, and has a preview pane.


I haven't tested Brackets yet so I can't really give a full review of how well it worked for me... and after writing this post in Simplenote, I'm kind of lamenting that I can't make markdown work in Blogger (there are ways). Markdown is so much faster and easier than html! At any rate, I think what's going to happen is that I'll probably use one of those html editors regularly, but in a pinch, I'll use Simplenote and just copy and paste Simplenote's Preview directly into Blogger (there are quirks...like different texts, etc.). Still....

December 23, 2017

delete file Apple keyboard shortcut in Windows10

Quick Outcome: to delete a file in Windows, use Ctrl+D

The solution to this problem was so painfully simple that I can't believe it's not more easily available online-- maybe it's so simple everyone else already knew about it! At any rate, I'm making this post in case it helps others.

I'm a Windows user, but I prefer the mini Apple keyboard for it's size (I prefer the wired version rather than having to deal with wireless settings and batteries):

I also use keyboard shortcuts a lot and I could not for the life of me figure out the shortcut to delete a file in the Explorer window. When I googled for a solution, I came up with all kinds of answers such as Command+Delete (did nothing for me) or even downloading a program to write to the registry (a kinda scary proposition for me). Again, the solution is so simple-- all you have to do is look what the shortcut actually is by opening any folder in Explorer, going to ribbon (my ribbon is auto-hidden), and hovering your mouse over the command to see what the shortcut actually is. Here's an image:

You can see that the Delete command is just Ctrl+D and that works perfectly. The same goes for all other commands- and there you have it. Apple Keyboard shortcut to delete a file in Windows is just Ctrl+D-- just a Copy is Ctrl+C, Paste is Ctrl+V, etc.

The only other shortcut that's a little harder to find is the one to pull up the Task Manager-- and that shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+Esc on the Apply keyboard.

September 6, 2017

using Google Sheets with Google Finance

One assignment for a class I teach is having students create a stock portfolio. To track the class portfolio's performance, I used Google Sheets so I could share it with  students (I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to share a portfolio created in Google Finance). Lucky for me, Google Sheets can easily work with Google Finance to pull data about stocks. I am very indebted to this post for helping me create the portfolio: https://business.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-track-stock-data-in-google-sheets-with-googlefinance-function--cms-28182

And then I decided I wanted to track daily record of the value of the portfolio and decided to automate the process. To do that, I am indebted to this post: http://www.gadgetsappshacks.com/2013/08/how-to-automatically-record-daily.html

Just some notes on the process since I was a little confused (and I view this blog out as a kind of code-help for REALLY, REALLY non-coders :) ) This is the script that automates the recording of a daily value of the stock portfolio. Here's the script:

function recordHistory() {
  var ss = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSpreadsheet();
  var sheet = ss.getSheetByName("History");
  var source = sheet.getRange("A1:B1");
  var values = source.getValues();
  values[0][0] = Utilities.formatDate(new Date(), "GMT", "MM/dd/yyyy");

Notice that the script references only one worksheet-- the "History" worksheet (line 3). For some reason, I didn't pay enough attention that, but what that means is that any cells you reference must be in the same worksheet. In my case, the total value for the portfolio is calculated in the main worksheet so I also need to create cells that in the History worksheet that pull the values from the original worksheet.
  • Create a new document in Google Sheets
  • Create two worksheets in the document
  • Worksheet 1 should contain all the data (using Google Finance)
    • one cell in this worksheet should be designated "=Today" to pull the current date, and 
    • another cell is the day's portfolio total value
  • Worksheet 2 will contain the daily record (in the code above, worksheet 2 is the "History" sheet)
    • set up one cell in worksheet 2 so that it references Sheet 1's "= today" cell (this is the reference A1)
    • another cell should reference Worksheet 1's portfolio total (this is the reference to B1)
Don't forget that after you run the script and it works, you'll also want to create triggers to automatically record the date.

I'll post a template for the entire thing later, but I hope this helps someone.

April 3, 2017

more pen refills

If you've visited here before, you know my obsession with pens. Since the last pens post, I've added a few pens to my collection and fallen in love with another pen. My favorite ink is usually a Pilot G2. But almost by accident, I found myself writing with Pentel's Energel pen in 0.7mm because in my search for a clickable all metal body for the G2, I accidentally hacked a Pentel Energel into the Pilot Axiom. That mistake led me to realize that I love the Pentel Energel pens. Here are the colors for this refill:
from JetPens
Compare the Energel colors to the Pilot G2 refills:

February 27, 2017

the wonder of offset in Google Sheets and Excel

Every once in awhile, you want to grab every 3rd row of a set of data. After a bit of searching online and trial and error, I got it to work!

The formula turns out to be =OFFSET('sheet name'!$A2, 0, (Column()-2*n) where n stands for whatever number of columns you want to offset.

Here's what the formula means:

Make sure you include that (Column()-2 part; notice that in my case, I wanted every 3rd column.

January 20, 2017

reset the toner on your Brother printer!

This is brilliant and worked like a charm! I was tired of the Replace Toner message on my Brother HL2340DW printer. A little Google and this is what came up:
  1. Open the front cover and leave it open while completing the following steps.
  2. Turn the printer off.
  3. Hold the ‘go’ button while turning the printer on.
  4. After 3 seconds release the ‘go’ button.
  5. (USER MODE) will appear.
  6. Press the ‘go’ button NINE times.
  7. The Wifi led will flash once. (my wifi button flashed each time)
  8. Press the ‘go’ button 5 times.
  9. Close the cover. Your toner is now reset
  10. Press OK 3 times to print a status page and this will show that the toner has reset back to 100%
This solution came from the the good folks at easyink.

January 6, 2017

Blogger tweaks for new blogs

Here are some of the main tweaks I do for every Blogger blog.

- Create a TOC/Archives page
- Change the way search results are displayed (with only titles)
- Get rid of the "Showing all posts with labels message..."
- install a good search box
- create a Labels page
- remove Title of pages
center blog title (also listed immediately below)
- center page tabs

Here's the code for the centering the blog title and page tabs (put in the Advanced -> Add CSS section when customizing the template.
#header-inner {text-align:center !important;} #header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important;} 

.PageList {text-align:center !important;}
.PageList li {display:inline !important; float:none !important;}

Optional, but good ones:
- Create a landing page (well I don't really do this for all blogs)
- Add more than one page widget Blogger

December 28, 2016

a comfy reading chair

For about as long as I can remember, I've wanted a comfy, dedicated reading chair- a place where I could really snuggle in and read to my hearts content. I'm sure this desire comes from a longing to recapture some feeling that always seems to be just out of reach. There are memories and feelings that stay with you; over time, they morph into a deep aching, happiness, joy, sadness, and even physical sensations are intimately bound to something that's not quite a memory, more like an impression or the left-behind ghost of a memory-- Proust's famous madeleines. For me, it's a moment or series of moments from childhood. At that age, we lived in an apartment with west-facing windows and I'm reading by them; I've spent hours reading and the sunlight is fading, dusk is settling into the what's left of the day. If my mother was home, I was allowed to sit on the porch or under the tree to read and in those memories I can almost feel the warmth of the fading light on my arms and face; I see myself looking up from my book, staring at the train tracks that ran in front the apartment, the weakening light glinting off the tracks-- and I'm wondering where the tracks go; they must lead to some adventure. Then I return to my book, back to the warmth, the fading light; it's as if I know even at that age that this memory would be special.The picture above comes close to capturing these feelings and below are some additional artworks of reading by windows.