Understanding Git With Gitk Tutorial

Joshua Flanagan at Los Techies has a really excellent 2-part gitk tutorial to look at if you want to understand git, starting you at the beginning with creating a branch and making commits in this article. Part two is on understanding merge and rebase with gitk. We are doing more and more articles on Git because clearly it is becoming more widely used over time. I’m always looking for good tutorials on Git especially for beginners as I think a lot of people are intimidated especially by the idea of merging and making commits with it.

It’s not as difficult as you might think in reality, and it’s a shame if you aren’t using it already because you are intimidated by it. To get over that hurdle I suggest you go take a look at both this 2 part gitk tutorial article.

Virtual Safari Web Browser

Mark this as nifty… VirtualSafari is a Web-based frontend for Apple’s WebKit HTML rendering engine. It makes it possible to host a website which looks like the Safari browser and allows the end-user to *load* pages rendered with the WebKit engine (see the demo). When you load up VirtualSafari in any browser, you are shown a window that looks like the Safari browser. Enter an url into a text box, and your URL is sent to a PERL script that processes the page in Webkit and sends it back to the VirtualSafari page. It should be noted that Virtual Safari browser is an application that must be run on a Mac with a working web server, so if you have one Mac in your office that is used for testing purposes, all PC client can remotely look at pages as they would display in Safari.

Google Database Application

It looks like Google is about ready to launch Google Base. In fact the site was up earlier, but was soon taken down. You can find a screenshot on Flickr. The text on the screenshot reads:

Post your items on Google.

Google Base is Google’s database into which you can add all types of content. We’ll host your content and make it searchable online for free.

Examples of items you can find in Google Base:

• Description of your party planning service
• Articles on current events from your website
• Listing of your used car for sale
• Database of protein structures

You can describe any item you post with attributes, which will help people find it when they search Google Base. In fact, based on the relevance of your items, they may also be included in the main Google search index and other Google products like Froogle and Google Local.

It appears to be an interesting application, but I worry about the amount of personal data that Google has access to. For example, they have all my emails (gMail) and my Blog reading list (Google Reader), they are storing my search history, and now I can store any type of structured data for me! Keep in mind, that I have allowed Google to do this, so I’m not complaining about them, but it is food for thought – How much data do we want them to store for us by way of a Google database?

Character Entity Reference

A nice HTML & XHTML Character Entities reference is available at cookwood.com. It’s a pretty good go-to reference for web developers, I have to say. The site is the official site for HTML Visual Quickstart Guide and offers many other HTML related references.

As nice as this reference is I’ve been thinking about a better way to present HTML and a XHTML character entities in a chart that is inspired by the periodic table of elements. I’m actually moving forward with this project so look for an announcement on Digital Media Minute soon when I get it finished; hopefully people will find it has some general usage.

How to Move a Subversion Repository

I recently had to move our main Subversion repository to a new server the other day, so I thought I would pass along this quick how-to.

To move a Subversion repository from one system to another you only have to enter a couple of easy subversion commands. To start, go to the source system and at a command prompt or terminal window type:

svnadmin dump /path/to/repository > repository-name.dmp

If the dump file is rather large you can compress it with your favorite zip utility. Now you need to get the dump to your new server, so simply transfer the file via FTP, local share, CD, thumbdrive or whatever it takes.

Once the dump file is on the new machine and uncompressed, you need to set up and load the new repo by typing:

cd /path/to/new-repository
svnadmin create repository-name
svnadmin load repository-name< repository-name.dmp

A couple of small things to note – the dump file will be rather large as it represents every commit made on your repository. If your repository is rather large and mature, this file could get quite large. Also this method works across platforms so moving from UNIX to Windows or visa-versa is also possible.

Free High Resolution Textures

Digital Media Minute hasn’t done a lot of graphic design pointers lately, and we really should do more, so here is a nice list of free high resolution textures for your next project. And for all you graphic designers out there I would love to know your opinion: is Digital Media Minute doing enough posts listing tips, resources and other information relevant to you? Let me know how how I’m doing please.

I wonder sometimes if the scope of DMM is not focused enough to be easy to use, but amid all the programming tips I don’t want to leave anyone who is interested in things like textures un-addressed either.

Processing Excel Tables In Java

Here is a very nice utility for processing Excel tables in Java with an annotation-based approach: the yava Excel stripper.  all that you will require to give this functionality a test run is Excel file, the yava-excel-stripper library, and the Apache POI library of your choice. This tutorial has plenty of code snippets to illustrate, and it covers how to read string columns, non-string columns as well as handling custom conversion when internal conversion fails. This is another what I would call longtail solutions that are contained within the incredibly complex code.google.com website. You may already be aware of this library if you are a Java developer but I thought it was worth posting anyway.

Entry Level Programming Jobs

One thing that is attractive about computer programming or web development as a career is that you can acquire many of the skills that you need to do it professionally without first convincing someone to hire you so that you can get work experience. Entry level software jobs are something that you can create yourself.

Creating and executing your own projects is a way to display your talents for any future employer. Obviously breaking into the industry still won’t be easy if your work is of poor quality, but having no formal work experience doesn’t have to be a strict barrier to entry, as it would be in many industries.

Lou Franco over at Atalasoft has an excellent list of seven ways to get software work experience without having to actually be hired by anyone.

Make Your Own Proxy

Is there a shorter instructional video on how to make your own free proxy on the internet? Make a proxy using Google App Engine and Python using this tutorial that comes in at under three minutes.  The utility of proxies is increasing all the time as individual deem the need for internet access  at work or at school to be so great that it’s worth making an effort to get around the restrictions of their school or employer by making use of proxies. Any rate, whether or not you yourself have a need for a proxy this is a pretty nifty little programming task that you could set for yourself as part of your ongoing education.

Tech Job Sites List

List posts have value for me as they cut through Internet chaos so that I need but one bookmark that functions as a pointer to many helpful places all across the Net with info on just one subject.

If it’s a topic I may revisit, not having to remake the list is a huge time saver. We might have had hopes in the early days that the first page or two of the search engine results pages would be all the list we would need on a given topic or keyword, but clutter wins the day more often than not, or maybe what’s not useful to me at the time just seems like clutter.

I know a lot of people are out of work now, even programmers and web design types, so I thought this very lengthy list of jobs boards for programmers and designers would be helpful, potentially even if you are still gainfully employed.


A self-proclaimed ‘old school database guy’, Cal Evans gives us an honest and pretty thorough review of the latest version of MySQL Workbench –worth your time if you’re not happy with the MySQL ERD tool you use now, or even if you are. He aims for a real-world simulation test of the workbench, with 18 applications open simultaneously on his desktop, with the test database being quite simple but shedding light on many of the products features. He covers the whole spectrum of his results from good to bad and concludes that while MySQL Workbench isn’t perfect it is probably good enough.

If this interests you, check out Digital Media Minute’s review of another visual database design system for MySQL, DBDesigner.

VirtualBox VDI Index

If your a user of the cross-platform (Windows, OSX, Linux) virtualization software Virtual Box, you’ll be happy to find the VirtualBox VDI Index.  While you’re there you’ll find hundreds of preconfigured virtual appliances available for free download. This looks to me like it’s the mother lode of virtualization software and even if you don’t know much about it currently or have a need for it, I would suggest bookmarking this page for future reference in case the day comes when you do. Virtualization and virtual appliances are becoming more relevant as time goes on; this virtualizer is targeted at server, desktop and embedded use.

Free Adobe AIR Events

This news is a bit old, but if you are interested in learning more about the Adobe Integrated Runtime, you should check out Adobe’s on AIR Bus Tour.  The tour is an 18 city road show where you can learn how to bring your AJAX or Flex web applications to the desktop.  Each event is free to attend and include many very cool sessions.  I will be at the event in Vancouver on July 11th, so if you live in the Lower Mainland/Vancouver Island area, I hope to see you there!  This is a very forward-thinking marketing method that Adobe is using and since it’s based around education I really applaud them.

Learning Regular Expressions (Video Tutorial and Cheatsheet)

The makers of the E Text Editor have produced a nice Learning Regular Expressions Video Tutorial and Cheatsheet. Although they apply regular expressions within their text editor product, there is lots of knowledge that you can transfer to your scripting/programming endeavors. I think a lot of readers of Digital Media Minute will not particularly have a use for this video tutorial but if you have tried to understand regular expressions and had difficulty doing so, I watched the first few minutes of this 16-minute video and I can vouch for its clear-cut, straightforward approach to regular expressions. They even include  an additional cheat sheet/ quick reference guide.

Mounting Amazon S3 as a File System in Amazon EC2

The Amazon Web Services Developer Connection site has a great tutorial that will show you how to Mount Amazon S3 as a File System in Amazon EC2. S3 is Amazon’s distributed storage service and EC2 is their distributed, virtualized server solution. In the past it was difficult to have persistent storage in EC2, but now using S3, persistent storage is possible. It is critical that Amazon continues to be very aggressive in educating its potential user base, especially as it updates the services. The company is in a position where as time goes on more and more of what I’d refer to as ‘tech laymen’ will have real use for especially the distributed storage service, but first they have to understand just how it can benefit them.