Posts Tagged With: Tips and Tricks

Phone Number for SFMTA Temporary Sign Office

The phone number for the SFMTA Temporary Sign Office is very difficult to find. The SFMTA Temporary Sign web page directs you to 311. 311 does not know the right procedures for the Temporary Sign Office.

The email address on the website is also slow to get back to requests. The Temporary Sign department address listed on the website, at 1508 Bancroft Avenue, is not open to the public — it's just a locked door.

To contact the Temporary Sign Office, call 415-550-2716. This is the direct line to the department. I reached someone in under a minute.

If your event is more than 90 days in the future, don't expect an update. They don't start processing signage applications until 90 days before the event.

Here's a photo of my large son outside of the SFMTA Temporary Sign Office, where I did not find anyone to speak with, but I found the phone number that got me the right phone number to get someone to give me an update on my application.

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Cheap Way to Get Around Email Attachments

Say you're coming up on a paper deadline, but your paper's not ready yet and you need more time. This trick will only work if you are emailing the teacher your paper. Send an email that says this: Professor X: Here's my paper. Have a good weekend! Sincerely, _________ Here's the deception: forget to attach the paper. It'll take at least two days before he says, Oh you forgot to attach the assignment! Could you email it to me? And by that time your paper will be done. This will come in handy this week.

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Installing/Using/Running Python on a Mac, for Beginners

I just had to do a Python assignment for my Computer Science class. The Internet instructions were extremely unhelpful so here goes. A good site to learn about Python is DiveIntoPython. There isn't an API for Python like there is for Java but this is the official reference. Every method is in here somewhere but you have to dig for it, there's no search function which is annoying. If you need to write whole classes in Python: Download TextWrangler, open it, and adjust the bars at the bottom to say Python, Unicode (UTF-8) and Unix (LF). When you are done, save the file as (filename).py. TextWrangler is my favorite app to write code in because you can pick the Monaco font (my favorite) and it colors the code based on what you wrote. To test the file click on the #! in the menu bar at the top and either click "Run" or "Run in Terminal." This will run through your code and catch errors. If you have defs (functions, methods, whatever you call them) in a class, they are hard to run. Test the defs by running your class and calling the defs you want to test at the zero-indent level. If the defs still don't run, set them equal to a value. So say you want to test the function def kevin (b): print b right below it, with no indent, write a = kevin("jeff") and then see if it prints "jeff" when you run the code. I couldn't figure out how to run the defs straight from a command line. The other way to test your code is by interactions. To test interactions (one line of code at a time, with a prompt line) open Terminal (in Finder open Applications, then open Utilities) and type python, then hit "Return." Some dialog should come up and then there should be three arrows like this >>> This means that you can now type Python code and test it. Running code and testing it in interactions are the two main ways to write and test your code. If you have to test Regular Expressions (if you don't know what they are, don't ask), follow the instructions here to download MacPython. Once you've done that, find the file and run it. It lets you edit a regular expression and a string to match it against in real time.

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Keyboard Shortcuts

I really like using keyboard shortcuts - they save time and you don't have to move your fingers from the keys to the mouse. Not that much time-saving on a laptop, but on a desktop computer it can be really nice to learn the key shortcuts. Most programs have keyboard shortcuts for the common options. Two programs for Mac you may want to download are Quicksilver (do anything on your computer by pressing Cmd + Space) and Witch (switch between open windows, not just open programs) I've gotten a lot better at forcing myself to use the keyboard with Firefox. I simply took out the navigation bar and the bookmarks. The bookmarks are still there, I just open them with Quicksilver.

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Excellent Mac App: Quicksilver

I have an iBook at college, and recently I started using the application Quicksilver. If you download and open it, odds are you will be initially confused by how simple the app is - just two boxes. I was discouraged from using it. I simply forced myself for an afternoon's browsing session to complete every action - open a new link, compose an email, play a new song, find a file, attach that file to a message to send to a contact, skip to the next song, run a Google search - using Quicksilver. The beauty of Quicksilver is that you can do all of the actions I just named simply and without using the mouse. The two windows in Quicksilver comprise an object and a verb - start typing the object and once you've found what you want (a song, a photo, a document, a Firefox bookmark, an application, the function that lets you run Google Search), press Tab and QS switches to the verb - what you want to do to the object (open, play, compose email, new folder, open URL, copy, etc.) This not only feels really cool but saves the time you'd need to move the mouse to the correct location and open something. Plus, it's nice to be able to do everything on your computer from a single location. Dan Dickinson has a good tutorial on his blog, A Better OS in 10 Minutes. I highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to run their computer faster and/or more simply.

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Kill your Facebook Mini-Feed

If you're like everyone else I've talked to today, you think that the Facebook mini-feed is an invasion of privacy and a great tool for stalkers. Plus, you probably don't want people seeing what you do on Facebook 24/7. Facebook makes the argument that the info was all public anyway, but it would take a really dedicated stalker to dig it all out. This makes it much simpler for people to see what you're up to on the site. If someone followed around the CEO of Facebook and posted all their happenings to one place on the internet (left home without a kiss, bought a certain kind of coffee for $3.29, talked to certain people, or whatever), we'd see if they still agreed with the idea of the Mini-Feed. Facebook's arguing that all the information there in your Mini-Feed is public, which is true, but they greatly lowered the cost of retrieving that information by displaying it prominently on the profile page. Here's how to erase all your Mini-Feed data: 1) Download Greasemonkey for Mozilla Firefox. Greasemonkey allows you to run scripts on web pages and customize them however you feel like. Once you install the extension it will show up as a little monkey in the bottom right corner of the browser. 2) has a list of scripts, and many of them are useful, such as the ones that take ads out of Myspace and add other search results to Google. Once you're at the website, search for and install Facebook Mini-Feed Killer. Then go to your Facebook profile, and observe the wonderful results! Once you're done, the only difference you'll notice is that a little monkey shows up in the bottom corner of your Firefox browser, and none of your mini-feed stories show up. Just remember to visit your profile page when you're done browsing Facebook and it will automatically delete every action you've taken from your feed.

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It’s hard to ghostride a Prius

When I'm at home I live in the Bay Area (the area around the San Francisco Bay, including SF, Berkeley, Oakland, San Jose, and surrounding communities), which has its own rap subculture. This includes unique slang terms, expressions, sideshows, and dance moves. This article (subscription required) is a good primer. One popular Bay activity is 'ghostriding the whip,' where you idle your car forward and everyone hops out and walks around outside it. If you have good looking people they go on top of the car or on the hood. I tried to ghostride my Prius the other day. When I got out of the driver's seat, not only did the car start beeping and flashing messages at me, but without pressure on the pedals the car just slowed to a stop. With the combo gas/electric engine, when you ride at slow speeds the gas engine shuts off, and the electric engine doesn't idle forward as well. Ghostriding hybrids presents a tough challenge. Probably I just need to find a hill that'll roll the car for me.

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Guidelines for profile shots

Surprisingly many people fail at putting a good picture on their site, despite the fact that their first impression on any visitor is the picture. Here are some rules: #1. Don't use flash. Flash washes out people's faces and makes photos too bright in the near ground and too dark in the background. Use natural light or disable the flash inside. #2 Make sure your face is visible in a thumbnail. Your face should cover at least 20-30% of the surface area of the photo. Oftenyou will need to crop photos (use a free editor like Picasa or iPhoto) to get faces big enough. When you are taking pictures, get closer to your subject than you think you should be. #3 Make sure your face is visible. Shoot so that anyone can recognize your face right off. Be careful about putting too many people in your profile shot as well; you want to make sure people will know which is YOU, the proud owner of the site. #4 Don't be too gimmicky. Your picture says a lot about you to others. You may think that shooting a black&white photo from a poor angle with no smile and a million-mile stare makes you look edgy and cool, but odds are it will just show you as moody, depressed, and boring. #5 Be wary of using action shots. In all likelihood, your soccer/baseball/basketball/beer pong photo looks cooler to you than anyone else, and you probably won't be able to see your face for the glittering uniform. The exceptions to this rule are dunks, bicycle kicks, slides into home, and anything where you can see a packed house in the background. With that list of things to avoid, here are some tips for great profile pics: #1 Warm the temperature. Tint your picture toward yellow to make the faces look warmer, healthier, and more inviting. #2 Smile. A winning smile communicates that you are friendly and welcoming, and open to comments. #3 Crop, and crop some more. Trim the excess from your pictures to make them more dynamic. Follow these tips, and you'll soon be turning heads across the web. Of course, you can still get a good picture that violates the above guidelines. Here's the picture I'm using right now: Me & Tapia If you're wondering how to get the line-drawing effect, go here.

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