CandyBar 3

CandyBar 3

A great way to customize and organize your icons and dock with Panic’s Leopard only update to CandyBar.

Major new update: integrated CandyBar together with Pixadex with an entirely new interface, added large (512 x 512) icon support, Leopard dock customization, additional system icons, Quick Look integration, more reliable system icon restoration, and much more.

CandyBar 3

Every Freelancer Ought to Publish a Weblog

Right now I am downstairs in my living room listening to Christmas music — which seems to sneak onto the radio a little bit earlier every year. As if the station that plays Manheim Steamroller first, wins? Next year they’ll be jingle belling right after the 4th, and by ’09 “All I Want For Christmas Is You” will be the #1 song for Valentine’s Day.

There is something about the holidays that always puts a thought into my head to just quit everything I do that involves a computer and get a job as a carpenter or bank teller. I like to muse on what my life would be like if I worked a normal 9-5 and only got half a dozen emails a week. What if I canceled my cell phone and got a land line with a tape-recorder answering machine?

Well, none of that is happening any time soon, but still, I thought about it. And that thought led to another, as thoughts usually do. And I thought about what things were like before I began to pursue a part-time job as a freelance designer. And that led me to thinking about my life before I owned a Mac, and that led me to thinking about what I was doing four years ago… I was a professional drummer. Seriously. I played drums for a living. (Technically I still do, but it’s different now than it used to be.)

Four years ago my band and I were finishing up our first studio album, and for some reason I needed a hi-res JPEG of the cover art. And that led to the first interaction I ever had with a professional freelance print designer.

This guy and I connected right off the bat. And after I got my Mac and began to learn design he was a mentor to me. He happily endured the wretched looking CD covers I thought were so awesome as he picked out exactly what I had done wrong. He helped me see why my design looked like an 8 year old had done it…in Word…during an earthquake.

Today my friend is still a freelance designer/phtographer, and he is still incredible at what he does. We hang out often and he continually has new work to show me. His designs are always clean and spotless, and his photo shoots are consistently stunning. But, like so many other freelancers, he is struggling for business.

I’ve asked him a few times if he’s ever considered blogging but he gives me the “nah…” with the hand wave. It’s not really for him he says.

Though I certainly don’t know everything about how life and business and self-employment work, I do have a fairly confident opinion about the worth of weblogs.

Blogging has virtually nothing to do with being old fashion or not, and everything to do with selling yourself to artists, musicians, corporations and everyone else who may need a designer living on every continent on the planet.

In an interview with Michael Lopp, Brent Simmons says –

The main thing is: if you don’t have a weblog, I probably don’t know you, and I don’t have an easy way to get to know you. If you have a weblog, I’m either reading it already or I can read it and look in the archives a bit to get a sense of who you are.

It’s kind of like if we all lived in the same small town. The people who have weblogs are like the people who make a point of going to Main Street at least a few times a week. They go to the barber shop, the grocer’s, the lunch counter — they get out and talk to people.

If you don’t have a weblog, it’s like you live on the outskirts of town and have all your food delivered and you even have people come mow your lawn so you don’t have to go outside.

No matter how big the web gets, it will always be a small town because that’s how you interact with it. You can’t help but make your own small town out of it.

As your body is to your physical presence, your weblog is to your web presence.

As a freelancer you can’t afford not to publish a weblog. Here’s why:

Step outside your office from the comfort of your own home

Publishing a weblog is a way to meet new people who know things you don’t.

When I started publishing my first site a few years ago I was totally blown away by how deep some communities went. I was shocked to find people blogging in all sorts of niches and focuses. By writing my own articles about various nerdy topics I quickly met others who were like minded and who had input and ideas into things I had no idea about.

By connecting with others and reading other sites within the online design community I am constantly encouraged, inspired, mentored, and strengthened as a designer. I’ve learnt things I never would have otherwise, and I’ve avoided mistakes and blunders that I totally would have fallen head-long into.

Oh so much more than business cards

Publishing a weblog is like putting your business card and resume into the hands of ever person in the world who uses the internet to find a designer.

There are countless ways they could come across your site. They could google you, find you through someone’s linked list, or notice a comment you made on someone else’s blog.

This is word of mouth on a global scale.

The possibilities are endless. There are many people looking for a designer. And even though they don’t know you, if they find you through the referral of someone they trust, they are pretty likely to at least contact you, and who knows if they won’t hire you?

A weblog is different from a static website

Continuing in Brent’s analogy that publishing a weblog is like showing up on main street and hanging out with others. You shake their hands and ask how their kids are doing. You become a familiar face.

Yet if all you have is a website with some java-script to display your portfolio it’s like nailing flyers up on the light poles and then waiting at home by your phone.

Flyers are helpful but they are much less effective than actually being in a conversation with the local florist where you discover she needs a new logo and are able to offer your services.

Publishing a weblog is like having a resume with personality.

Those flyers may be on fancy card stock with fantastic typography, but they will never beat a smile and a good joke. By publishing a weblog where you share your experiences, obstacles and victories in design you are opening up your personality to those who may want to hire you. Having a weblog makes you a real person. And real people get hired every day.

Location is less and less important these days

What with the internet and all.

Consider your time spent setting up and then publishing your blog as part of your global advertising campaign.

Every Freelancer Ought to Publish a Weblog

Download My OPML File

If you’re looking for some new websites which are hand picked and recommended by yours truly, then look no further.

I thought I’d share the RSS love by saving 22 feeds from my subscription list into an OPML file. Some are long-time favorites and some are newer to me, but look promising. I didn’t export all my feeds; I left out a few of the obvious ones.

You can download my OPML file here.

And feel free to send me some of your favorites.

Download My OPML File

Southwest A-List Membership

Southwest Rapid Rewards A-List Membership

Once you qualify for Rapid Rewards’ A-List, you are entitled to reserved boarding privileges for 12 months, which means that Southwest Airlines will automatically reserve a boarding pass for you 36 hours prior to each of your confirmed Southwest Airlines flights to ensure you will receive the best available boarding pass prior to the start of regular checkin.

I fly southwest about once a month (which unfortunately is not enough to qualify), and getting onto the “A” boarding group is becoming a competitive sport.

Southwest A-List Membership

Really Simple

I don’t remember the last time I clicked on an “Ad by Google”. Or any ad for that matter. I just glance over them, not even considering them as part of the website. Maybe one day I’ll sell some ad space on here, but that’s not my point.

I noticed that I have also become similarly desensitized to RSS feeds. I used to subscribe to every site I came across that even looked remotely interesting. I found out I start getting headaches at 85 and then my brain just explodes somewhere around 100 feeds. Now — in fear of brain damage — I am weary to subscribe to a new feed.

A good rule of thumb for RSS subscriptions is that when you sign up for a new one another has to go. I mean seriously, what’s the point of having five-million subscriptions if all you’re going to do mark all as read and move on? Unless that’s the only way you have to feel like you’re doing anything; “I hit spacebar five-million times today. Proud of me?” No.

What you need to do is be honest. Assess how many feeds you can handle without feeling overwhelmed and being able to enjoy what’s being written. Subscription numbers are not like weights in gym class. You don’t look cooler when your you’ve got a lot.

My perfect number is right around 65. (Feeds, not pounds.)

Much more than that and I start skipping people. Much less and I feel like I’m missing out on something. Also, 60 is a good number because 50 of those blogs don’t update every day. They only update a few times a week.

Let’s do some math: 50 sties, with new content every other day = 25 new articles a day—assuming they alternate perfectly (which they do). However, several of those sites only write a couple times a week. So … carry the one …. I have about 30 sites presenting new content each day. 10 of those are news/links that I scan to see make sure California didn’t fall into the ocean. Which leaves me 20 sites to read. Only 10 of which I am most likely to find something good on. Now let me explain some more…

When I subscribe to a new article it goes on the bottom of my sites list. My sites list is always changing. When I find myself reading a blog more frequently I’ll bring it up a bit in the list. Then up, and up until eventually — if I never deleted anything — my favorite site would be on top with my least favorite on bottom.

Right now I have it divided into two groups: 1st and 2nd. It would take a lot to remove the 24 blogs in my “1st” list. I’ve been reading these guys for a while and find that the ration of “worth reading” to “meh” is above average.

The bottom sites (currently at 26) are being tried out. I usually keep a subscription for at least a month or two. Wanting to give a good oportunity to connect with the writer. If they update waaaaay to much then I’ll probably drop them. If I find myself regularly skipping their articles then I’ll drop them.

On an aside: I hardly every drop a subscription because of lack of posting. I would prefer that you wait until you have the time and energy to write something good and funky than write lots of bland nothings.

At the moment, I happen to have some headroom in my subscriptions. And while I like to think that I’m open to new sites, the truth is I’ve got this darn stigma about RSS. I glaze over it like a text link ad.

Something I love to do that is incredible dorky is watch a small website’s feed stats go ape after their site hit the Digg homepage. The day before they got traffic there was 24 subscribers. The next day there will be 450. By the end of the week it’s down to 38. But lately, I’ve seen the trend change: now it only goes from 24 to 57. That’s 393 new people that are desensitized to RSS like me. Who knows how many more there are.

But RSS is Really Simple. You can subscribe and then un-subscribe any time you want.

So hey — I’m willing to subscribe to a few new sites and give them a try. Why don’t you? Heck, you can start with mine

P.S. Ultimately, I wish more people would dive off deep and start to write their hearts out. I want them to turn on their computer, log in to the internet and start writing about something they love. Telling stories and opening up their view of life and why the world is beautiful. They don’t have to be artsy-fartsy with their words while useing fancy-pantsy lingo and sounding all cutesy-wootsy. If they would just let ‘er rip, I know there’d be some quality content. And that is precisely what I would subscribe to.

Really Simple

Tours in Repose

Rands’ article, “The Nerd Handbook”, was the talk of the web over the weekend. And rightly so. Thousands of nerds were completely wierded out at how well they were pegged by Rands while laughed their heads off at how well they were pegged by Rands.

No doubt many of you are new to Rands in Repose, and you may not realize that he’s been writing fantastic articles for years. Well, here are a few suggested readings by Rands from me for you to enjoy before Monday starts:

  1. Why You Should Weblog

I weblog all the time. When I’m not at the keyboard, I’m sitting in the car bouncing ideas around. When I’m stuck in a meeting, I’m taking the primal commute ideas and crafting them into outlines of articles. I weblog all day. You should to.

  1. Interview: Brent Simmon

In Mac OS X, you vote with your Dock. Currently, other than internal applications necessary to get my job done, the only application in my Dock that I’ve chosen to put there is NetNewsWire.

  1. A Nerd in a Cave

My Cave is my intellectual home. My kitchen is where I eat, my bed is where I sleep, and my Cave is where I think. Everyone has some sort of Cave; just follow them around their house. It might be a garage full of tools or a kitchen full of cookware, but there is a Cave stashed somewhere in the house.

Tours in Repose

How to Repair the Empty Keychain Passwords in Leopard

I did a clean install of Leopard on my Mac Pro and my PowerBook. On the Mac Pro I did erase and install, wanting to do a clean port-by-hand of all my data and clean installations of my apps. On the PowerBook I put in a bigger, faster HDD and so I had no choice but to do a clean install.

The outcome: No blue screens, but all my passwords were blank. Keychain Access deleted all of them (passwords only, not the login names) after I ported my old Library Prefrences. Additionally, Keychain refuses to remember them. They stay blank.

I have been entering the same passwords over and over every time I want to connect to my home wireless, check my email or news feeds. Even my ftp favorites in Transmit.

I discovered Jason was having the same problem, and his solution was pretty basic: delete the login keychain and start over. A good start, but I have way too many needed passwords to just start over.

I basically took Jason’s advice and added one more shortcut at the end. Here’s what I did:

  1. In my user’s ~Library/Keychains folder I dragged “login.keychain” onto the desktop. Removing it from the original folder, while keeping a backup just in case.
  2. Opened the Keychain Access app and created a new keychain (File > New Keychain) called “login”.
  3. Opened up my pre-Leopard backup, and went to ~Library/Keychains and copied “login.keychain”.
  4. Went back to Leopard’s ~Library/Keychains folder and pasted the “login.keychain” file from the pre-Leopard backup.

On my PowerBook all password were restored. Interestingly though, on my Mac Pro everything but Transmit’s ftp Favorites were restored. A simple “Export” from my PowerBook and “Import” on my Mac Pro solved that.

UPDATE: Obviously my workaround is a bit funny. Before you go deleting things, and if you’re getting a “Keychain “name” cannot be found to store “sampleitem”” message read this workaround from Apple. (Thanks Mike!)

How to Repair the Empty Keychain Passwords in Leopard


Quicksilver build 5300 doesn’t play well with Leopard. The icon stays in the dock and in the tabbed-through-apps list. Also the auto update doesn’t work. And is down. Sooooo…. if you’re having trouble with Quicksilver in Leopard go to the blacktree homepage and download the latest version right from there, and replace your old version.

On a similar note, Spotlight and Finder are definately much faster, but after about 5 minutes I knew there was no way Spotlight could replace Quicksilver. There are too many “learned” shortcuts and custom key commands.