If you use a Mac and Windows together, you’re likely to end up with a bunch of hidden .DS_STORE files all over your Windows drives. You can easily search and destroy them all using this command:

(Open the command line first of course. You can do this by mashing Win + R, then typing “cmd”. Or just type “cmd” in the Start Menu search box.)

del /s /q /f /a .DS_STORE

That will find every instance of this Mac resource file and delete it. Good times. But wait there’s more. In addition to DS_STORE, OSX will also put a bunch of other junk every where starting with “._”. Kill those like this.

del /s /q /f /a ._.*

(Why not use “._*'” instead? Apparently, you can sweep up legit files from other things such as Chrome by doing that. Thanks, commenters.)

Important note! This will only search inside the folder you’re in, as well as every folder below that. So, if you wanted to search and clean an entire drive, make sure you’re in the root folder. Get there with this:

cd \

You could also put all of this into a .bat file for great automation.

Pro tip: copy-pasting into your command window

Windows 10 will let you CTRL-V paste into the command line. Friggin sweet. But did you know you can do it in other versions of Windows too? Just right-click on the command window and click Paste. That will save you a little work.


Recently, I installed Lubuntu 11.10 (a netbook-optimized version of Ubuntu) on my wife’s netbook at Lifehacker’s suggestion. And wow–did it make an incredible difference. It’s like a brand new machine compared to Windows 7 running on it, which was getting unbearably slow.

While Lubuntu will look and act pretty familiar to anyone born and raised on Windows, I wanted to make sure when I handed the netbook back to her, she was as comfortable as possible. That meant configuring, among other things, the power management. (Lubuntu wasn’t putting the machine to sleep when the lid was closed by default.)

First, I had to make the power manager run on startup. To do this, you go to:

Menu (think Start Menu) > System Tools > Desktop Session Settings.

Here, you’ll see a number of items. Power Manager should be pretty close to the top. Check the Enabled box, hit OK, then restart.

Now you’ll see a familiar battery icon in the system tray. Yay! Right-click on that to find its preferences, like how long until the computer sleeps, what happens when power buttons are pressed and when the lid is closed, etc.

Back to that missing icon…

Anyhow, during my experiments, I accidentally set the power manager’s system tray icon to “Never show icon”. And there was no link to it under the System Tools or Preferences Panel. How the heck was I supposed to get it back? After too much searching, I finally discovered you can run the settings panel from the command line. Open up the terminal (in Lubuntu it’s under Menu > Accessories > LXTerminal). Now type this in and mash enter:

xfce4-power-manager-settings

The settings panel will appear. Breathe sigh of relief and continue.

Update:

Commenter Marc shares how to make the power manager’s settings panel appear in the Menu (Start Menu-esque Thing).

If you want to find an entry in the menu, you’ll have to edit /usr/share/applications/xfce4-power-manager-settings.desktop. Change:

OnlyShowIn=XFCE;

to

OnlyShowIn=XFCE;LXDE;

Update: This works all the way up to 10.10 Yosemite.

Ever wanted to have some more organization on your dock? I like to keep things separated more or less by group: everyday things, development tools, and apps that just happen to be open but aren’t permanent fixtures on my dock. I also like to keep my documents and folders separated from minimized things and the trash on the right side.

A Mac dock containing spacers
A-like so

It’s fairly simple to drop some spacers into your dock. And yes, it uses Terminal, but don’t get squeamish. Just copy and paste the lines you see below. To add spacers to the left side, open up Terminal and paste this:

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-apps -array-add '{tile-data={}; tile-type="spacer-tile";}'

Now mash Enter.

And now you’re wondering why nothing happened. We have to reset the dock to make the space appear. Now paste this:

killall Dock

And mash Enter again. Your dock will vanish and reappear with a space at the end of the left side. You can drag it around (or even off) just like any other icon. Repeat as desired for more spacers!

And for the right side…

Paste this, followed by the usual mashing of Enter afterwards.

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-others -array-add '{tile-data={}; tile-type="spacer-tile";}'

Follow it up with the usual:

killall Dock

Now speak aloud the word “booyah” or other popular slang term designating success.

Note: I’ve confirmed this also works in OSX 10.7 Lion


Eye-tracking studies can be extremely revealing about how your users are using your site in the real world. Unfortunately, they can also be extremely expensive and time-consuming to conduct. Not everyone in charge of a website has those kind of resources.

Luckily for us, some organizations have made some of their information public, giving us the chance to do gain some insights about our own pages.

A special camera tracks a user’s eyes as she navigates a travel website.

Also, Prioritizing Web Usability by Hoa Loranger and Jakob Nielsen provides a good amount of data gathered from eye-tracking studies, among a plethora of other valuable insights.


At first glance, it may look like Microsoft disabled recording of internal—or “what you hear”—sounds in Windows 7. Well, they didn’t. It’s a little trickier, granted, but this is (often) a quick fix.

To enable it:

  1. Right click on the speaker icon in the system tray (bottom right).
  2. Choose Recording Devices.
  3. In the empty white space, right-click and choose Show Disabled Devices. You should see Stereo Mix appear in the list.
  4. Right click on Stereo Mix and choose Enable.
  5. Right click on Stereo Mix again, and choose Set as Default Device.

Now you can record anything you hear through your speakers. If you don’t have a program that can record audio, you can get a nice one called Audacity over here. (It’s free!)

Update 1:

I have a SoundBlaster card and this isn’t working!

As near as I can tell, this is a driver issue. In XP/Vista, the driver supported a “What U Hear” mode, which they seem to have axed since, or at least jacked with.

Since there are a variety of Sound Blaster cards and a slew of different driver sets, the best I can do is give you a list of things to try. Each of these options has worked for at least one person I know.

Option 1: Manually uninstall your drivers, then reinstall.

  1. Mash your Start Ball (start menu) and type in Device Manager
  2. Click the arrow next to Sound, video, and game controllers
  3. Find your SB card, then right click on it and choose Uninstall

Now there are two ways to proceed. First, try simply restarting your computer and let Windows 7 try to install the driver for you. There’s a chance you’re done at this point. If not, run Windows Update and let Windows 7 find and install the latest driver.

Option 2: Manually reinstall your drivers from your CD.
Apparently, the automatic installer on many of these driver CDs is doing it wrong. To manually install the driver…

  1. Insert your driver disc—but don’t let it do anything for you! Close any installers it opens.
  2. Mash your Start Ball (start menu) and type in Device Manager
  3. Click the arrow next to Sound, video, and game controllers
  4. Find your SB card, then right click on it and choose Update Driver Software…
  5. Click on Browse my computer for driver software
  6. Browse to your CD. Look for a “drivers” folder, and then find a sub-folder that fits your computer (64-bit or 32-bit). Install using those drivers and restart. If it still doesn’t work, you might have picked the wrong one (especially if your card stops working altogether). You might want to try a different driver from your disc.

Option 3: is to specifically locate SB24_VTDRV_LB_1_04_0065A.exe (if you have an Audigy, SE/LS/Live!24-bit). This version is outdated, but is known to have the “What U Hear” function.

Update 2:

Possibly Major Caveat

Since originally posting this, I’ve learned that some RealTek chipsets simply don’t support Stereo Mix, meaning you will likely never get this to work without another card, or some serious kludgery. More info as it becomes available.


If you’re like me, your Internet connection is your life — meaning it’s central to your work, education, and entertainment. The only problem with this situation is that it can be easy to get overwhelmed and not be able to keep track of anything anymore! In an effort to improve my online organization, I decided to give Springpad a try.

Springpad is billed as a personal assistant on the go that will help you become more organized and remember things. It has a Chrome browser extention, a web app, and an iPhone app. Also, it’s free (aways one of my favorite price points).

So, how does it work? Let’s say, like me, you find about a dozen interesting bits of stuff on the Internet that you don’t have time to get to right then. You can make bookmarks, but you probably won’t ever get to them. Or, you could use Springpad to save it. Then it’s not only automatically organized into a notebook or category (or you can organize it manually if you wish), it’s accessible from any browser, anywhere or on your phone. Nice.

I found it was pretty smart about organizing stuff for me. For example, for stores it gave me directions, price comparisons, and online links to alternatives without me even asking.

I’ve been using the iPhone app in moments of boredom to look up all the things I’ve saved and finally get around to reading/purchasing/reading/scheduling/and reading things I otherwise would have completely forgotten.

When signing up, you of course have to create a new account — but the good news is that you can link it up to your Google, Yahoo, Twitter, or Facebook accounts. Meaning you won’t have yet another username/password combination to forget. Over and over again.

Overall, I found the service pretty well polished. Smooth experiences all around. I’ll probably keep using it.


Another favorite Austrian recipe of mine is Griessnockerlsuppe, which means semolina dumpling soup. I’ve tried this recipe several times now and tweaked it to being just right. It only takes about 15 minutes to make and serves 4. Enjoy:

Dumplings (12):

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp semolina flour (Coarse is better, but anything works, really.)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 6 tbsp. soft butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

Broth:

  • 2 cans or 16 oz. beef broth (chicken works great, too!)
  • 1 small/medium carrot
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 tsp parsley

Making it happen:

Chop carrot into thin slices, and to the same to the green onions. Add vegetables and parsley to broth and start cooking on high.

While that works up to a boil, grab a bowl and whisk the butter until soft and creamy. Add the salt and nutmeg, then add the eggs one at a time. Whip it up so the mix is nice and airy.

Slowly add the semolina flour until all semolina is mixed with egg mixture. (Note: The dumplings are even better when the mix is allowed to chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, but if you’re going for a quick meal you can skip that.)

Scoop out small dumplings with a soup spoon and form 12 egg-shaped dumplings. When they’re formed, use a spoon to drop them into your broth. Reduce heat and let simmer for 3-5 minutes (10 if you refrigerated them). Dumplings are done when they float to the top.

Serve the broth with 2 or 3 dumplings per person. Garnish with a pinch of parsley or chopped chives.


You’ve probably noticed it’s German/Austrian cooking week here at Awesome Toast. It’s my favorite cuisine, and definetly my favorite to cook. Another favorite recipe of mine is German potato salad. It’s very different from American potato salad, with a sweet vinegar type glaze and is typically served warm. Here’s my recipe:

The Stuff:

  • 3 cups peeled potatoes, sliced. I prefer Yukon Gold or Red potatoes.
  • 4 tbsp of butter OR 4 strips of bacon (see below)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (just a little less than that, actually)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Making it Happen:

Place your sliced potatoes into a pot, and fill it with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.

While that’s going, melt the butter in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. (For the less healthy but even tastier version, fry your bacon, then remove it and use the remaining bacon grease. Chop the bacon up and add it in later.)

Add your onion and garlic to the butter or grease, and cook over medium heat until browned. Then add the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the potatoes and parsley. If you used bacon, add that now. Reduce heat and stir occasionally for about 1-2 minutes. The starch from the potatoes will cause the sauce to thicken into a glaze. Serve warm and enjoy!

Photo by Oxfordian Kissuth.


Käsespätzle (or homemade egg noodles with cheese) is one of my all-time favorite Austrian/German recipes, and one of my favorites to make. Here’s my recipe!

You’ll want to start the caramelized onion topping first, as it takes the longest.

Caramelized Onions

  • 1 tbsp butter (not margarine)
  • 2 Onions (preferably sweet like Walla Walla, but others work fine too)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Melt butter in skillet over med-high heat. Stir in sliced onions until they’re covered, then cook for 10 minutes. Stir every 3 mins or so.

Then sprinkle the salt over them (and a tsp of brown sugar if you have tangier onions) and reduce heat to med-low. Cook for 30-40 minutes until they are golden brown and a little crispy looking.

Spaetzle

While the onions are going, grab a large bowl and this stuff:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • At least 2 cups of your favorite cheese(s), grated

Start a pot of water boiling. I use an average-sized sauce pot filled just over 3/4 full, and with a little salt. Add a little butter or oil to the water (to keep the noodles from sticking together)

Beat the eggs soundly, then add the milk, then add all the remaining ingredients except the cheese. Mix the batter well. It will be thick. Set your spätzle hobel or a colander on top of the pot, and scrape about 1/4 of the batter in. Spread the batter across the hobel or colander with a spatula so it falls out the bottom in little bits. When the bits rise to the top, they’re done. It won’t take long. Scoop them out into a bowl or casserole dish with a slotted spoon and repeat until your batter is gone.

Once your spätzle are done, dial your oven to 350°, then layer the spätzle in a casserole dish with your cheese. I usually do 2-4 layers, ending with cheese on top. My favorite spätzle cheeses are Gouda, Appenzeller, and Gruyère, but you can get excellent results with Cheddar and Colby Jack as well.

Bake the spätzle for about 15 minutes. The point is simply to get the cheese and noddles melted together and make the top a little toasty. You can bake it longer for a crispier top if you’d like. When it’s done, serve with the caramelized onions on top.

Bon Appétit! Or as the Austrians say: Mahlzeit!

Image from Foolforfood.de


If you’ve ever finished a course or class that was really hard to follow, didn’t seem to deliver, was either too easy or too hard — it’s possible that poor instructional design (ID) is to blame. The opposite is of course, also true.

Basically, ID is a set of rules or a process for making training/classes do what they’re supposed to do. With it, we:

  • Determine our goals with the instruction. (You do have them, don’t you?)
  • Focusing on meeting those goals efficiently, meaning we try not to waste time, but don’t try to go too fast.
  • Measure to see if our goals have even been reached, both at the end and along the way.
  • Recognize that “Teach students X” or “Help students understand Y” or “Put students through a grueling, 14-week course of Z” are not appropriate goals.
  • Keep SWABAT in mind. (Students Will Be Able To)

ID has some advantages over simply dubbing someone a teacher and setting them loose to spew forth their alleged knowledge. Some of them are:

  • Analysis of whether to teach at all. (Believe it or not, education isn’t always the answer to a given problem.)
  • Cost effectiveness. In the long run, ID can make for more, better-educated, happier, less-bored, and more-capable students in the same amount of time.
  • It’s time effective. ID helps meet the right need of the right people at the right time.
  • This can lead to a competitive advantage. In fast-moving industries, good training is a valuable asset. For schools and universities, it’s plays a huge role in your credibility, respectability, and therefore, funding.
  • Consistency. Standardized, proven methodologies produce consistent quality results.

“Wow. So, there really aren’t any downsides,” you say. Well… not exactly true. In the short term, ID can take more resources, require more/different people than what you have, and involves more steps. But if you’re willing to pay the price, you’ll get results. Even a marginal application of ID principles can yield big differences in student wishing-they-would-enter-a-coma-rather-than-be-in-your-class-for-just-five-more-minutes-ness.

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