Sometimes Doing the Right Thing Just Takes a Little Nudge

Had a funny experience last night while waiting to meet with friends for dinner. Having arrived at the restaurant early, I sat on a bench outside enjoying the nice weather. A few minutes later, a lady makes an illegal U-turn and pulls into the second parking spot from the end in front of the restaurant. Unfortunately, she parks about 6″-8″ over the line into the last spot. “Way to go,” I think to myself.

After she spends a few minutes fixing her makeup, she gets out and looks at her parking handiwork. Then she takes a few steps toward the front door of the restaurant and stops. She turns around and, walking toward me, asks if I think anyone would mind that she’s taking up two parking spots.

Pretty funny question. It’s as though my agreeing with her would make it all better somehow. Anyway, I tell her that it depends if someone might get annoyed by it. She paused for a moment and then got back in her car to move it over. After she got back out, she rechecked her work and I said, “Much better!” She smiled and said something to the effect of, “some people can get annoyed” (I guess to either imply that getting annoyed by such a thing is unreasonable or that some people can get out of hand about such a little thing).

Shortly after that, someone pulled into the last parking spot. Chalk one up for the forces of good.

QuickSynergy: GUI for Synergy on Linux and Mac

Want to try out Synergy on Linux or OS X but don’t want to mess with configuration files? QuickSynergy provides a pretty user-friendly graphical interface to get it up and running. I’ve been using it for many months now on Kubuntu Linux.

If you haven’t seen Synergy in action, here’s a short clip. Nothing too exciting but clearly shows you how you can seamlessly move from one computer to another with a flick of the mouse. You can also see QuickSynergy’s configuration window on the left screen.

Synergy: Control Multiple Computers with Ease

Do you have two or more computers either at home or at work? Increase your productivity by using them all at the same time without the hassle of a hardware switchbox (a.k.a. KVM).

Even if your computers run on different operating systems, Synergy enables you to access all of them from a single keyboard and mouse. The way it works is you run Synergy on all of your Windows, Linux or Mac computers. Then, define which computer is the master (the one on which you’ll be using the keyboard and mouse) and where the slaves are located (to the right, left, above, below the master). All the other computers talk to the master to receive your keystrokes and mouse movements.

How does Synergy know which computer you want to control? You just mouse over to it. That’s why you define the physical relationship of each slave relative to the master. For example, if you have a computer to the left of the master, when you move the mouse cursor past the left edge of the master’s desktop, it will show up at the right edge of the computer on the left as if it was all one big desktop. Thus, you can use all your computers at the same time. Even clipboard text is transferred between computers for simple cut-and-paste operations.

The only thing you can’t do with Synergy is move an application from one computer to another. Each computer is still a separate system. Synergy just enables you to control them all from one place.

Watch this CNET Insider’s Secrets video to see how Synergy works and how to set it up.

Create Custom Smiley Themes for Pidgin

It’s easy to create your own smiley theme for the Pidgin instant messaging client. For all the details, see the Smiley Themes wiki page at Pidgin’s developer site. Here’s a crash course.

In the Pidgin profile directory called .pidgin (the location varies by operating system), there is a subdirectory called smileys. In there is a subdirectory for all the smiley themes that are currently installed.

To create a new theme, make a new directory inside the smileys directory. Then put all the smiley image files (PNG or GIF format) inside. Finally, create a text file called theme. This is where you’ll define all the smileys.

The format of the theme file is similar to the old Windows .ini file (remember those?). There are multiple sections separated by a section heading in square brackets as shown below.

smile.gif :) :-) (: (-:
sad.gif :( :-( )-: ):
bigsmile.gif :D :-D

yahoo_angel.gif o:-) O:-) 0:-)
yahoo_angry.gif X-( x-( X( x(
yahoo_batting.gif ;;)
yahoo_bigsmile.gif :D :-D :d :-d

The section heading indicates for which instant messaging network the smilies apply (default applies to any network that isn’t already defined). Then, each line below the heading is the name of the smiley image file followed by one or more examples of the smiley text that Pidgin will look for to do the substitution. You can even add your own if people you chat with use a different combination of characters to represent a particular smiley.

Note that if you install a smiley theme and you don’t get any smiley images for some protocols, check the theme file to see if it has a section for that protocol. Chances are that it doesn’t. So, you can either create a section for it, or add a section called default that contains the smilies that you want to appear for any unspecified protocol. Be sure to put the default section above any others.

PDFCreator: Free Printing to PDF Files

Need to create PDF files but don’t want to shell out big bucks for the full version of Adobe Acrobat and its Distiller tool? PDFCreator for Windows creates a virtual printer so that you can make PDF files from any application that can print. In addition to the PDF format, it can output to PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP, PCX, PostScript and EPS files. You can also merge multiple PDF files into one. Very handy tool.