Show Disk Space Usage (Sorted)

Every once and awhile I find myself needed to what is the space hog on my computer/server. While the command du – h in the command line works for a general overview – I really want to see the results in descending order (by space used). This command will list out everything in descending order so you can quickly see where the most space is used:


du -k -s * | sort -k1 -g -r

Our Broken Political System: Fixed Jappler Style

Tomorrow is mid-term elections and over the last few weeks I have grown more and more disgusted with the campaign tactics and politicians in generally. Not only do we have to put up with horrible attack ads, we have to also put up with “well they are not going to do anything with issue y in an election year”. Sometimes government just does not seem to work – even with the best intentions.

There are multiple issues with our current state of government and I would like to go over two issues I think some major overhauling.

Campaigning
Campaigning is particularly frustrating to me. There are plenty of people out there that I would love to represent the people in the state/federal government but cannot either afford it or do not want to drag their family through the media. The people remaining (who can afford it and do not care about the media)…are these the people that really have our best interests at heart? And what do they do with all that money? This election it seems like almost everyone had a few horrible attack ads – even using children to belittle current issues including health care. Not only are the candidates themselves attacking one and other – there are special interest groups doing more of this as well. (Look at the paid for by…). This is just outrageous. The fact that there have been so many horrible ads coupled with the amount of money spent on all of this makes me sick.

What we need is a more open and available way for people to get known and to run with a more positive path. I realize there are caps to campaigning – but that is not enough. I think if you want to run for office – a simple collection of x number of names and a general fee ($5,000 – $10,000) should get you a spot. The entrance fee would pay for the centralization of all campaigning activities as well as make sure that the candidate was serious. There would be a central office that would control six months of actual “campaigning”. No money can be spent on negative commercials or negative advertisements. The central office would set up open debates (if there were a number of people running – a bracket (Final Four style) would be created). These debates would run on TV/radio at both set times and then available online. Furtxhermore, a web site would be created that listed everyone’s bio, past votes, and some testimonials. No one would be able to “campaign” for more than six months – as it is a waste of everyone’s time and money. The candidates would also fill out a contract of sorts that clearly lists their realistic goals of what they would complete while in office.

Pay
I am sick people running that promise “x,y,z” and do nothing. This is nothing more than jr high politics as the kids promise to bring junk food, give days off, etc when running for class president. You want someone to do something? Mandate everyone creates a contract with their campaign promises. (see above)

For each promise they keep, they get paid. Think good salesmen that actually not just talk about the sales they can get – but actually get sales. Do we really need more people with all kinds of promises who either do not follow through or turn around and do the opposite? We constituents deserve more. We help elect these people on certain beliefs and grounds. In return – I do not think it is too much to ask that they actually follow through. Perhaps this is the way to also make a dent in standing up to special interests as well as make the elected officials work more before elections instead of less.

Questions/Comments? Am I on to something or just crazy?

PS – do not forget to vote tomorrow!

When Designing – Use Real Content

There are many lessons to learn out there as a designer, and please let this be at the top of your list: when designing something – whether it be a business card, a brochure, or a web site – use real content.

Lately – when doing any design work for a client – we always make sure they provide us with actual content so they can see their content in a working design. Often clients will see another site they like – want you to use similar ideas – but in actuality – their content is completely different or would not work. (We see this a lot). When working with clients who have their own designers or some pre-designed mockups – we always allot for more time – as there are bound to be changes because the designer only showed a few items (which in reality is a lot of items) – and then the client does not like the layout of their “real content”.

If the client does not have real content – red flags should go up. Not only are you setting yourself up for a potentially longer than expected engagement (if they do not know what their actual content is – do they really even know what they want anything to look like?) – but a lot of changes and headaches will follow. If they provide the content up front – everyone’s expectations are set right away and the end result will match the design. No questions/confusion.

In conclusion – save yourself a lot of time, frustration, and potentially endless change cycles by making the client provide real content for your designs.

Finding Your Pace

We all work at different paces. Some like to try and do everything really quickly so they can relax later. Others wait until the last moment and race to get things done (they find energy and excitement in the challenge to finish). Still others prefer to keep a grueling pace throughout the entire project in order to get everything plus more done.

Although I have done all of the above – if nothing else – Oregon Trail taught me one thing: pace is everything. While some of these routes to the end result will work some of the times, the best way to do it is to go at a realistic – not too fast, not too slow pace. While there may be benefits to either extreme – the costs for both of them are often higher than expected for both you and your client.

If nothing else learned this year – I learned that you should set your pace – not the client. No one knows how much x,y,z tasks take better than you if you do them over and over. The client might be working on this project now, but you are being hired for your professional experience – experience that you have gained by doing similar tasks – and thus you should have the best idea how long/how much something will take.

Any client that needs something in an unreasonable time frame or that constantly has emergencies in off hour time periods is perhaps not the client you want/or even constant “immediate” changes (regardless of the pay). I know it sounds hard to stand up to them or even risk losing some clients, but trust me it is well worth it. Your quality of work will improve as will your mental sanity.

Early in the project – make sure to set the pace. Your client will respect you more and your family/friends will appreciate it too. Just remember – your sanity is worth a lot more then spending weekends/holidays on the phone for something that will not be as important as the time you lost with your friends/family.

WordPress Themes Over the Years…A Look Back and Then into the Future

After working with WordPress for over five years now, I have seen a lot of changes both front-end and backend – both for developers and for users. I work for the most part on WordPress themes for a few hours a day and have been doing so for the last 3+ years full time. As I wrap up the final changes for my company’s commercial WordPress theme Lucidity – I wanted to take a few minutes and point out some of the changes over the years and also talk about where I think themes are going.

I remember back in the day being excited about Alex King’s Theme Competition and wishing I had some spare time (I was working full time and doing consulting every other moment) to also participate. These early themes were generally simple and were something people would use on their simple blogs -using a hand full of WordPress functions. During this time, the functions.php was unheard of and there were not too many custom functions that were used (for most themes). The big difference between them were mostly in how the sites were laid out with HTML and CSS. Even though these themes were simple – they were great because it allowed you to easily modify the look and feel of your site by editing a few template files and modifying the CSS.

These themes were more about look and less about function.

If you think about themes then and themes now – the difference is often huge. Most themes now are packed with custom functions, have advanced admin options, and give the users greater control of their content, the site’s look and feel, and general options – all without having to modify any template files or know any CSS. Themes are more complex, are generally made up of more template files, and are much more flexible.

These themes are more about providing both users and other developers with a framework and tools to easily manage content.

Recently Alex King/Crowd Favorite released Carrington Build which is a perfect example of where themes are going. This theme offers an unbelievable amount of flexibility and customization and will make both users and developers eager to use this theme.

So as I wrap up development on Lucidity – I am trying to bridge the old (simple) with the new (framework/tools). I look forward to getting this out to the public so they can enjoy the ease of use, flexibility, and further control over their content.

All in all – WordPress themes have come a long way and will not only continue to improve user’s front end experience, but also improve the backend experience when using WordPress. Look for even greater things to come!

Jappler Recommends: Work/Life Balance

Over the last few years I have, like most other business owners, struggled with a good work/life balance. While I do not feel like I am at an optimal balance yet – I know and I a lot closer than I once was. This can be tricky – but here are some tips that will help you achieve it.

  1. When working with clients – clearly state your business hours. I generally do this on the initial call or email as well as on my voicemail so when a client calls after midnight or tells me they are available until 11:30pm for a call (it happens) – they know I will only be available during my company’s business hours. Sure you might lose a client here or there because you are not available at 7pm on Saturday, but do you really want that type of client anyway?
  2. Actually follow your business hours. Sure there are days I work earlier/later or an occasional few hours on a Saturday, but if you want your clients to respect your availability – you cannot email/call them before/after it. Once you email them at 8pm – you open up the door for “she must be available all the time – so I will call her now (10pm)”.
  3. Keep non-work activities (online shopping, errands, etc) for after work hours. If you can put in x solid hours of work a day – you can confidently end the day at your end time without feeling guilty (for not doing enough work).
  4. Keep all work activities (email/voicemail, etc) for work hours.
  5. Realize not everything will get done in one day – no matter how long you work.
  6. Don’t feel guilty for taking a day/week off. Everyone needs some time away.
  7. Hire someone/multiple people to help out. (This was hard to do but I am glad that I have people to depend on and who can get things done when I am not around)

The tips seem like no-brainers – but they are a lot harder than you think 😉

Time to Reconnect and Disconnect

A few months ago I closed my Facebook account in order to try and stop wasting so much time on my computer/iPad/iPhone looking at my friend’s and family’s daily statuses, game play activity, and other garbage that got fed to me. Since then – I have not looked back and have been enjoying more quality time actually talking to people and not reading about them. I am more and more people are doing the same thing and actually enjoying turning their phone off, not using Facebook, and not being tied down to Twitter.

I commend them as it is really nice to spend the time – once checking out who was getting new crops in Farmville – actually picking up the phone and talking with someone or going and doing something with friends and family. Take one day or a weekend and every time you want to check out Facebook – actually call someone. You will find it is much more enjoyable. Seriously – do you really care if person x you sort of knew a few years back is taking a walk? Time is too precious!

Check out:

Back to School Code Cleanup

Whether working on projects with a fast change cycle or something that has not been changed recently – it is always a good idea to step back and review your code from time to time. Generally most people put it off for when “things slow down” or do not do it because “if it works don’t fix it” mentality.

When working with something like PHP, CSS, etc – you develop the best you can at the time you develop the code. If you simply leave everything as is – you risk incompatibility/security issues, etc because nothing is constant (browsers, PHP versions, etc). While it might not seem like the best way to spend your time at first – it will definitely help you down the road and at the very least make you realize how much you have learned since you initially wrote the code.

After working with a number of open source projects (WordPress, Drupal, XOOPS, etc) – I realized while that ignoring code cleanup is not an option and am going to from now on delegate September as my code cleanup month in which I will designate 2 days a week to spend exclusively on reviewing code and looking for ways to optimize it, get rid of any depreciated functions/etc. There are projects where code reviews happen more frequently – but for those that do not have reviews built in – this will be the catch all month.

Everyone writes code they are not proud of from time to time – the difference is there are some people who just let it slide vs. others that take the extra step to fix it. Time to review the jappler.com site 😉

Jappler Recommends: Clean Up Your iTunes Library

I recently did some file cleanup on my main Mac to tidy things up, but indadvertedly wreaked some havoc with iTunes. I had a number of songs that had the “!” for missing and no really good way to delete all of them (there were too many). After doing a few quick searches on the issue – I found my solution: Super Remove Dead Tracks.

Then – to really clean up everything I wanted to remove all the duplicates so I then used Dupin which also worked like a charm.

All is much more organized and cleaner now…