In the recent days, Twitter has recently become some sort of alert feeds for some people. From the tracking of typhoons and earthquakes, to updates on the Pork Barrel probe, and even the announcement of the new Miss Universe, some people have relied on this social media platform to be updated on the most recent events. In fact, Twitter has recently introduced an alert system for emergencies and disasters back in 2013.

maybagyoba

As such, one of the projects I have worked on is to bring automated rain alerts to Twitter. Via the sensors of Project NOAH and forecasts of ClimateX, we have come up with a way to automatically tweet hourly rainfall alerts through the twitter handle @climatexph.

Unfortunately not everyone is always online, and sometimes, it can be quite hard to sift through your social feeds to determine which updates are important or not. So the next project my boss asked me to work on is to set up an automated SMS platform to send the rainfall records and forecasts to the people who might need them. That was quite an interesting set up and I hope I can discuss in a future blog entry, but I have discovered another easy way to get these weather alerts on my mobile phone near-real time.

A while back Twitter debuted SMS notifications, where you could receive Tweets of different accounts that you follow via SMS. Government agencies of different countries felt that Twitter could be used in emergency situations, so they tied up with Twitter to help them disseminate their announcements through Twitter’s SMS platform.  As currently our government disaster agencies still haven’t tied up with Twitter, I found the next best approach to get these alert messages on your mobile. And it just requires a few simple steps.

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I am a sucker for hotkeys and keyboard shortcuts. I always make it a point to find out a way such that my hands will use the mouse less, and use the keyboard more.

First it saves me a lot of time because you spend less time looking for your home keys (asdfjkl;), looking for your mouse, and then back to your home keys again.

Second it protects my hands from lots of movement. I’ve had a scare of carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injury from using a keyboard and mouse at a bad angle. Since my forearms start hurting I’ve converted to a trackball , and also got a higher chair to compensate for the angle. I also use my pinkies less so that my fingers tend to assume a more natural angle for typing.

One of my favorite features of newer keyboards is how they have these dedicated media keys to help you control your media. Mine had mute/unmute, volume up/down, and stop/play. Recently my favorite keyboard recently conked out, and I had to replace it with a different one as it was out of stock in our stores. Unfortunately, the new keyboard doesn’t have them dedicated media keys to help you instantly change the volume or music track.

So enter AutoHotkey.  AutoHotkey allows you to remap your keys as well as allowing you to bind certain keypresses into actions. It’s actually a very complex piece of software that you can use to do a lot of things using your keyboard.

Anyway, I just used this to help me control my media using my keyboard. :p Just add the following entries to your AutoHotkey.ahk and then restart the program. The ones that start with a semicolon are comments/instructions for usage. This works for your default media player.

; ctrl + super + up for volume up
; ctrl + super + down for volume down
; ctrl + super + left for mute
; ctrl + super + right for play pause
; ctrl + super + , for previous track
; ctrl + super + . for next track

^#Up::Send {Volume_Up}
^#Down::Send {Volume_Down}
^#Left::Send {Volume_Mute}
^#Right::Send {Media_Play_Pause}
^#,::Send {Media_Prev}
^#.::Send {Media_Next}

I am a great fan of keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys. As a touch typer that can type faster than I can think, I prefer keeping my fingers on the keyboard without having to resort to using the mouse. As such I always make it a point to know what keyboard shortcuts I can use to make life easier.

I currently have a list for Windows. However, recently I had to install Ubuntu for academic purposes. Unfortunately my workflow slowed down since save for the Super key (the little key that looks like a windows button), most keyboard shortcuts are different.

The super key.

The super key.

Ubuntu knows that so they included this nifty hot key cheat sheet in their interface. Just hold the Super key and this cheat sheet pops up.

shorcuts

What is your favorite keyboard shortcut? Personally my favorite is when you press the Super key and the Dash (Ubuntu) or Start screen (Windows) pops up and you can quickly search virtually anything.

People wonder why is it I am able to post photos quickly. Well, besides the fact that I rapidly filter them (I know, I need to take more time and give more thought to filtering my photos), I resize all my photos before uploading.

Resizing photos before uploading is based on the premise that your social media networks actually resize your photos when you upload them to their site. This makes it easier for browsers to display because of the smaller file size. And of course, it will be lighter on the bandwidth

So the 10megabyte photo you just uploaded on Facebook? Facebook will just process it and scale it down to a 200kb photo. It would be a big waste of bandwidth especially if you’re on those pay by the megabyte plans.

So how do I resize my photos quickly before I upload them? Easy, I use this nifty(and free!) tool called Image Resizer.

Image Resizer, once installed, integrates in your Windows Explorer so that you can simply right-click an image or a set of images to quickly resize them.

imageresizer

resizeyourpictures

For most social media outlets, Medium (1366 x 768 pixels) or Large (1920 x 1080 pixels) will suffice.

Happy sharing!

 

2013

In January we went to the zoo. Since we’re a big family we don’t usually go out of town due to logistical concerns. This was a rare occasion. :)

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In February Nic and I went to the beach. :)

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In March I got a tattoo.

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In April we went out for a 3-week field work, one week at a time.

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In May we went to see Mraz.

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In June I finally stepped on to Visayas. Camiguin through Bohol (hehehehe), and then Leyte.

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In July I went to India to learn more about both Science and Culture.

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In August it rained a lot.

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In September Nicnic and I tried to go for a night out. It was too loud.

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In October I went to Cebu.

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In November we shared lots of Science.

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In December I got fat(ter).

Cheers to 2013!

It seems like Microsoft got rid of the “Manage Wireless Networks” interface where you can easily add, remove and modify wireless profiles.

If like me you need to delete your old wireless profiles to refresh them, you can delete old profiles using the following steps.

forgetnetwork

  1. Boot up a command prompt: press the Windows key, type “cmd” and then press enter
  2. List your wlan profiles by typing the following in the prompt: netsh wlan show profiles
  3. Look for the profile you want to delete and take note of its name.
  4. Type the following in the prompt: netsh wlan delete profile name=”PROFILE YOU WANT TO DELETE”

Reconnecting to the network gives you a fresh new profile.

Windows 8.1: Updating from Windows 8 Without A Microsoft Account

I currently have three Windows 8 machines. One desktop is strictly for work, another desktop is strictly for home (entertainment, gaming) and finally a laptop for travel purposes (this one’s the hybrid, it includes both work and play). It’s a compartmentalization of sorts, that work is work, and home is home. I don’t like bringing home work and that is why I have separate computers for them. :p

As part of the compartmentalization philosophy, I use a Local Account for my work computer and my Microsoft Live ID for my home computer. This is to ensure that my different computers won’t look alike (and so that when I look at my home PC I wouldn’t be reminded of work :p). For my work PC, I use a Local Account to keep the settings local as much as possible.

Last night the Windows 8.1 update rolled out  and I was very excited to update.. As such, I first updated my home machine, and it was a breeze. When I arrived at work, however, it was a different story.

Unfortunately, after I updated my work PC, at the final steps of the update it asked me to sign in using my Microsoft Account. It presented no option to use a Local Account instead.

signintomicrosoftaccount

While it is not explicitly stated anywhere, you can bypass signing in using the following steps:

  1. Enter any email address.
  2. Enter a WRONG PASSWORD (this is important)
  3. And then there will pop up an option in the right asking if you wouldn’t want to use a Microsoft Account.
  4. Click that, and then continue with the update

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take screenshots of the options that you have to click. It will be a little confusing, but it’s there somewhere. :)

Happy computing!

Just for the heck of it, I tried installing a copy of Chrome OS on my flash disk using Win32 Image Writer. After I had my fun (or non-fun?), I tried reformatting my flash disk so I can use it again as my Ubuntu boot stick. To my horror, I was only able to reformat 1 gigabye of the disk. It was missing almost 3 gigabytes of space.

What happened? I am not sure. But I think it had something to do with Windows not recognizing the chunk of the disk I had used as an installer.

With the help of Google, I found a fix in this blog entry: Recovering unallocated space of a USB flash drive.

The steps are as follows:

1. Start Disk management to see what is the disk number of the disk you want to recover. In my case, it was “Disk 1″

disk1

2. Run command prompt with administrator privileges
3. Type diskpart
4. Type select disk 1. (Disk 1 was identified in step 1)
5.  Type clean
6. Voila, you can now reformat your flash disk again.

diskpart

My little sister recently gave up her Eee PC 1005P because she got my mom’s old circa 2007 white Macbook. So this means, yay! New toy for me. We’re gonna have lots of fun together. I will upgrade you. I will change your OS. I will put stickers on you….

… ahem. I was a little bit, excited.

Anyway. On the top of my to-do list in getting new hardware is to reformat and install a new operating system. Or if possible, do a dual boot. Lucky me I’ve been playing with this baby behind the back of my little sister that I was able to sneak in 3 partitions so that I can easily dual boot this thing.

After installing Linux Mint 15, I immediately encountered problems with the brightness levels. The fn+brightness up/down key combination causes the brightness to randomly change from dark to light to black.

Browsing through the Linux Mint forums, I found the following fix

  1. Boot up a Terminal
  2. Edit the grub file using the following command: sudo pluma /etc/default/grub
  3. Look for the line GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT and add “quiet acpi_osi=Linux acpi_backlight=vendor splash” at the end.
  4. After editing it will look something like this: GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet acpi_osi=Linux acpi_backlight=vendor splash”
  5. Save the file
  6. Run: sudo update-grub2

I have done this multiple times in different computers, replacing pluma with gedit or vi or nano or emacs or with whatever editor you prefer.