Sunday, January 23, 2011

MadHackerHaus at Sector67

Yesterday 1/22/11 I went on a road trip with the Distributed Hacker Maker Space group from Appleton to the MadHackerHaus at the Sector67 Hackerspace in Madison.  The day started with DHMN picking me up in Fond du Lac.  The ride to Madison was the first real test of the internet shoebox, a collection of USB cellular cards and routers with the hope of providing reliable mobile internet.  The first half of the trip the upstream connection seemed to be unreliable, but as we got closer to Madison things improved.

 We got to Sector67 and had a fun filled day of learning and socializing with others of the MadHackerHaus.  I learned some more about android programming but I was most interested in Sector67 and how it was started.  I don't think anything was ground breaking information, but it made me confident that DHMN could do it and that I might be able to do something in Fond du Lac some day.

Stay tuned for a post on the internet shoebox, what I learned and what my plans are for making it better.

You can also check out Bob's post with some other details of the road trip.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Simple Invoice

My brother asked me to help him do some invoicing for him.  In the past I have used freshbooks and was very happy with how it worked, but in the end the free product wasn't enough.  I set out to find a simple free product to create invoices.  I tend to use a bunch of different computers so a LAMP based solution seemed like a good choice for me and desktop software like GnuCash seemed overly complicated for my needs.

I looked around a while and found a few different options, but Simple Invoices stuck out to me because it had a unique offering.  Simple Invoices is a LAMP based project, but somebody created a Windows version.  At first I thought this is a great way to test out Simple Invoices with out investing a lot of time into setup.  With the Windows version, you extract the zip file, and run exe, and you are off and running in minutes.  I was able to test and determine this would work fine for me.  This Windows version was enough to get me in the door and get me hooked on using it.

The exe starts prepackaged versions of apache and mysql and allows you to open your default browser or the included app (a very simple browser). I was going to setup my linux server to host the final install, but before I did the setup I wanted to make sure I setup ssl so I would feel a little better about the idea of doing billing over the internet. I had a brainstorm before I get a chance to setup ssl.  I use a wonderful service called dropbox to keep a folder synced between my computers, and the windows version of Simple Invoice runs out of a folder, why can't I put my Simple Invoice install in my dropbox?

I have been using Simple Invoice in my dropbox on three computers for a few weeks now, and so far no problems.  I will add this disclaimer, I have not had simple invoices running on two computers at the same time yet.  I would imagine two copies of mysql running at once against one database could lead to big problems so I have avoided that by being very careful to always shutdown when I am done.  Maybe some rainy day I will to more testing on my test install before messing with live data. Speaking of test install, I have two simple invoice folders in my dropbox, one that is my live data, another that is a dummy test folder. I keep the test one just in case I need to test how something works before I go live with something.

So check out or check out dropbox with my referral link

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

January 1st Vampire Make Session DHMN

Saturday night I went to a DHMN work session at @erinql house in Appleton. I didn't really have a project of my own to work on, but I had fun just the same.  DHMN is a new Distributed Hacker Maker Network based in the Fox Valley, and this was my first chance to attend an event, but I hope to attend more in the future.

This session featured a lot of talk about android programming and many other good discussions.

If you want more information on the work night, vis the page on the DHMN website.