5 minutes well spent: Automatic notification about new information on the web

Todays post is about two techniques to get automatic notifications about new information on the web.

First out is Google's free service "Google Alerts."

Some interesting uses:

  • Get notified when other people write about your company.
  • Get notified when other people write about your competitors.
  • Get notified about what other companies/organizations write. (example: make a search for site:tomra.com.)
  • Follow interesting, but not (yet) very hot technologies. (example: seam wicket)
After registering your search, you'll get an email with a confirmation link. This is a technique I use to keep up to date with less surfing. The advantage over just collecting links to various searches is that with Google Alerts, you'll only get the new and updated pages. And you get it delivered to your inbox automatically. Just make sure you make a rule to filter out those alerts to a different folder, so you can read them in a batch. The second tip is to use the firefox extension Update Scanner. I use it for web sites that both are not indexed and have no RSS feed. Examples are the forums for the delphi build tool "want".


Delphi maintainers survival kit

This is going to be a short post. Just wanted to share my most important Delphi books in case there are other Java programmers out there who has to maintain Delphi apps. I like "Delphi in a nutshell". Especially the first two chapters which gives you a brief introduction to Delphi programming, and chapter 5 that is a (big) alphabetical language reference. Developer's Guide to Troubleshooting is a description of almost 1000 error message that you may get when programming Delphi, design-time, compile-time and run-time error messages. Great reference in case the company Delphi guru is at holiday when some strange error pops up : ) The USB stick below contains articles from issues 1 to 139 of The Delphi Magazine. There's a lot of well written articles there about different aspects of Delphi programming, including "cool" topics like unit testing and how to set up Delphi build scripts. Seems like blogging is less common in the Delphi camp, and it seems that those who do post about Delphi mostly writes for other Delphi developers. If you know anyone else who already blogs about it, please post a comment with a link to it. I would really appreciate it.


Ubuntu post-install customization

Here I've collected some of the things I did last time I installed Ubuntu from scratch on my commuting-part-time-LAMP-developer laptop.
  • Get security upgrades.
  • Install my favourite firefox extensions:
    • Firebug. The must have web developer extension.
    • Delicious bookmarks. I don't care much for the social part of it (at least right now,) but I consider it the best bookmarking feature I've found.
    • Scrapbook. Commuters best friend! Allows me to download web sites recursively, read, and even search in downloaded web pages.
    • All-in-One gestures. (I absolutely love keyboard shortcuts, but when I am using the mouse, why change back to the keyboard just to go back to the previous page? With mouse gestures it's just pressing the right button and drag the mouse to the left, release, welcome back.)
    • Google gears. (For offline access to Remember the Milk.)
  • Install LAMP-server. (Using Synaptic.)
  • Install subversion.
  • Install php-pear.
  • Install symfony by running the commands below in a terminal:
    • sudo pear channel-discover pear.symfony-project.com
    • sudo pear install symfony/symfony-1.1.0
    (Symfony is, in my opinion, one of the best php frameworks out there. Maybe also one of the best web frameworks, regardless of language.)
  • Download PHP Development Tools. Since last fall, Ive considered the eclipse based PDT a better alternative than anything else I've used, including both commercial and open source alternatives. Earlier I used to use jEdit, an awesome heavyweight text editor (hey, I've got 2 GB RAM, and I don't really care if it uses 40 MB as long as it is the best editor I know.) in combination with a lightweight alternative like notepad++ (on Windows) or gedit or kate on Linux.
  • Download the php documentation.
  • Using the Scrapbook extension mentioned above, download the symfony 1.1 book. (After installing the Scrapbook extension it's just a matter of right clicking the site, choose "Capture Page As..." from the context menu and set depth to follow links to "1" under "In-depth Capture". And if you're in a hurry, like me, choose "Filter" and "Restrict to Directory", so that you'll only download the relevant files.
  • Install keepassx and copy the old database from the backup. I use it to keep rarely used passwords, serial keys (e.g. vmware server,) and other details that I don't want to be available for whoever uses my PC.
  • Install vmware server.This used to be a matter of installing it from the repositories, but now it's slightly harder. Here is the best way I've found to install it on Ubuntu Hardy Heron, a script made by Brett Alton.
Edit 2008-07-22: Forgot a couple of details when first publishing this post last night.
  • Add nautilus-gksu from repostitory.
  • Add nautilus-open-terminal from repostitory.
  • Add edit as root to the nautilus context menu. It really shouldn't be necessary to open a terminal to edit /etc/fstab . (e.g. for enabling acl)
Edit 2008-07-30: Another detail:
  • Add php-xsl from repository. Without this, data-load doesn't work.
Btw: Seems like I'd rather use this checklist myself next time : )