July 10, 2011

My Contribution to the Facebook / Google+ Slap Meme

I call this: tech,web — Posted by KP @ 7:50 pm

If you’ve been hanging around the interwebs this week, you may have seen some animated gifs going around in which Google+ is represented bitchslapping Facebook in various ways.

As far as I can tell, this was the first one:

In the past day or two, many more have popped up, not just slaps, but pretty much any manner in which a Facebook icon can be embarrassed or otherwise pwned by a Google+ icon.

So here is my contribution:

This is what I think of when I think of a good ass-kicking.

July 8, 2011

For Web Developers: Easy iOS-specific Icons for Your Website

I call this: tech,web — Posted by KP @ 3:06 pm

You know how on iOS you can put a bookmark on your homepage? By default it seems to take a clipping of the screen to create an icon representative of the site. I’ve noticed that some fancy sites (Google sites come to mind) actually generate a specific icon that makes it look more like an app, and well, just more attractive.

Today I found an article that explains just how simple it is to add an image to your site, so that when people add it to their home screen in iOS it looks clean and professional.

The article goes into detail about how to have different icons for the three sizes currently supported by iOS devices (low-res, iPad and Retina displays), and how to assign different icons for different pages of your site, but if you’re OK with letting iOS scale the icon down for you, and only need one image for your whole site, it’s stupidly simple. Check this out:

  • Make your desired image 114×114. You do not need to add any fancy shine effects or curved edges, iOS will do this for you, because as I said, it’s stupidly simple. Mine looks like this. As I already have several icon-sized site logos for use in various things, it took me about 5 seconds to generate the proper image.
  • Save your image as apple-touch-icon.png
  • Upload this file into the main directory of your site. For example, the URL for my image is http://headsetchatter.com/apple-touch-icon.png.

That’s it. Now instead of seeing something like this:

Your readers can see this:

For end users

If you’re wondering how to add web sites such as this one to your home screen, open the site in Safari and follow this handy illustration:

July 7, 2011


I call this: tech,web — Posted by KP @ 10:08 am

Well after many days of trying to activate my invitation, I have made it into the unfortunately-exclusive Google+ club! I currently have 9 friends, which is actually more than I expected to be able to scrape together. I had had an invite for 5 days, had been constantly clicking on the “Join Google+” button, and hadn’t been able to get in. I was starting to get really frustrated. I kept the sign-in page on my desktop most of the time, clicking on it at random. Finally last night it seems the floodgates opened for a few hours, as I was able to get on, and sent out a few invitations, which also worked right away. So, keep trying, I guess.

People say, “What’s Google+ and how is it different than Facebook?”
The way I see it, that can best be described by this comic from xkcd:

It’s like Facebook but without the Facebook. So, great for people who like Facebook’s features, but hate Facebook as a company. It also has a neat feature called “circles” which allows you to very easily share things with different groups of your friends, such as only your good friends, only your coworkers, everybody but your parents, etc. It should solve a lot of the problems with having sprawling lists of Facebook friends that you might not want to share everything you post with.

I’m excited to see how it shapes up once you can actually get most of your friends on it.

If you’re a member and want to add me, look me up — Karen Parlato.

Now I have to figure out how to get one of those +1’s on my blog posts.

May 17, 2011

Evernote Use Cases

I call this: computers,mac,pc,phones,tech,web — Posted by KP @ 9:44 pm

I made my first post about Evernote back in August, as I was preparing for the last Acting Company tour. If you’re not familiar with Evernote, I suggest reading that first, as it will give you a basic idea of what the app does. In very brief, it stores and categorizes any text, document, photos, or other media you want, and makes them searchable and available on the cloud (and as a result can also sync with your phone and between your computers).

I had just begun using Evernote when I made my first post, and since then have mentioned it in passing on occasion. My assistant, Meaghan, and I had been sharing Evernote notes during the tour, as well as keeping our own individual notes about various things related to the show. Now that the tour is complete and I’ve been using Evernote for about nine months, I finally feel prepared to really write about how I use it, not how I thought I would use it. So I went through all my notes to sum up which ones are/were most useful.

Like most things in my life, I find I can divide it into three categories: work, personal, and technology. So that’s how I’m going to break it up. Behold!


  • Cast checklist This is by far the most useful single note in my Evernote. All it is is a list of the full names of the cast, with a checkbox by each one. Initially this can be used as a reference for remembering people’s first and last names, and checking spelling. Once you get to the point where you know everybody’s name, it’s basically used for taking a headcount, or marking off when things have been completed for each actor (such as if you were making labels for their valuables bags). I think it’s fair to say that Meaghan and I used this note nearly every day, very often multiple times per day.
  • Other checklists Some other uses of the handy checklist features of Evernote are for prop presets, pre- or post-show checklists, and one of my favorites, the list of things needing to be run at fight call, and the actors and weapons needed for each one.
  • Rule books and contracts I tend to also have these files on my DropBox, but this is something that is worth the redundancy, I think. I keep the PDFs of all applicable Equity rule books, contracts, riders, letters of agreement, etc.
  • Codes On the TAC tour we had a note filled with all the codes we’d accumulated over the tour: copier codes, combination locks for our road boxes, door unlock codes, bus door codes, computer usernames and passwords, etc.
  • Procedures How to do things you might otherwise forget how to do. An example of this would be on The Comedy of Errors, we used the house’s main curtain in our show. In theatres where that wasn’t possible or desirable we had an alternate set of lighting cues. In theory they were written into the show file. But I kept a note with the designer’s original notes of all the changes made to the original show file to create the curtainless cues, as well as a breakdown of the steps that needed to be taken to make the routine switch between the curtain show and the non-curtain show.
  • “People Who Have Gotten Screwed” I have a note with this title, which is simply a list of names (there were three by the end of the tour). The gist is that when somebody gets arbitrarily screwed (like there’s no way to make the schedule without somebody having a four-hour break in the middle of their day), the person who gets screwed gets their name on this list. The next time that kind of decision has to be made, if there are multiple people who could potentially be screwed, a person with their name on this list will be passed over for screwing.
  • Interview or initial hiring notes When somebody first calls me about a job, I use Evernote to take down quick notes about the name of the show, who’s involved, where it’s being done, the dates, and salary if known.
  • Quotes I kept a list of all the funny quotes that came up during the tour.
  • Directions and maps I’ve got some notes with maps and written directions for how to get to various venues and rehearsal studios.
  • Truck pack info I didn’t end up using this as much as I intended to (probably due to not being able to type on my iPhone with my gloves on), but I had a note for documenting our truck pack, which could be lists of the order items come on in, as well as pictures of various sections of the pack to show how the items fit together.
  • Travel info / itineraries Any time I got a flight itinerary (which sometimes was way in advance), I threw it in Evernote and didn’t worry about it again, knowing I would always know where to find it when I needed it.
  • Notes for reports On more informal shows, I take my notes for the rehearsal / performance report on my phone if it’s not convenient to have my computer out. It’s also handy for making lists of questions to ask the director, or for topics to bring up at a production meeting. Then when I get home or back to my computer, I can process them more appropriately.
  • Exit interview notes While on tour, I knew that at the end of the season I would be brought in for a meeting with the general manager to discuss what was good and bad, what had improved or not since last year, and so forth. I’m pretty terrible at remembering these kind of things six months after they happen, so from the start of the tour I kept a note with all these thoughts.


  • Shopping lists Definitely my favorite in this category. Great for quick, disposable lists like groceries, and also for long-term shopping that I might not get to for a while, like things I want to get for my apartment.
  • Movie and book recommendations Any time I hear about a book or movie I might like, I go to my “Books” or “Movies” notes and jot down the title and maybe a reminder of what it’s about, or the author. This helps me not to forget things that I’m interested in, because when I’m in need of some new entertainment, I can just go down the list and head over to Netflix or to bn.com to see if any are available.
  • Insurance information I have a note with various information about my health insurance plan, and another covering my eye doctor visits last year. I haven’t needed to reference them yet, but it will be very handy over time to have documented when my last check-up was, the doctor’s name, etc.


  • All useful infomation My most prized note in this category sums up everything there is to know about my Mom and Dad’s technological lives. I did a total revamp of their house quite a few years back, and do periodic upgrades and maintenance on their computers and network. Naturally I don’t always remember all the details, so I have a file that has all their various usernames and passwords, router names and passwords, wi-fi network name and password, and computer names. I use this all the time when I’m over at their house.
  • Ink cartridge information This could be as simple as a line of text with the cartridge numbers, but I prefer to take a snapshot of the printers’ ink cartdrige, mostly because it’s faster to take the picture than to transcribe the information. Also it gives you visual confirmation of what the cartridge should look like, which is sometimes helpful.
  • Troubleshooting procedures When something goes wrong with my stuff and I find the directions to solve it online, I generally make a note with that information, if I feel like it’s something I won’t remember if it ever happens again.
  • Terminal commands and other shortcuts Ever find something online like “just type ____________ in the terminal to get this really useful option”? That’s great. Until you reinstall your OS or get a new computer, and then you forget all about that thing you cut-and-pasted two years ago. So I have a single note (which used to be a Word document I dragged around from computer to computer) that holds all of these.
  • Specs of my computer I have one that’s just a screenshot of the item description of the last batch of RAM I bought. I’m pretty bad at remembering my computers’ specs over time, so I keep them in various notes. This also includes serial numbers and MAC addresses.
  • Product keys I really keep all my product keys in 1Password, but when I first get something I often snap a photo of the product key if it’s on the box or the CD or whatever. That way I can be sure I don’t lose it or accidentally throw it out before putting it into 1Password.
  • Configuration info The one that saves me the most time is the settings for Coda, which is the web development software I use. There’s a configuration screen that allows the app to access the local and remote versions of this site, and every time I have to re-enter that information I screw it all up. So now I have it in a note, with a screenshot of how everything should be filled in.


These are the notes I’ve found most useful. Evernote can really be used for whatever you want. For instance, I don’t make any attempt to make it a task manager, as I have the much more powerful and dedicated OmniFocus for that. I wouldn’t say that I’m a power user of Evernote. I do have the $5/month Premium subscription, which allows me gazillions of gaziggabytes of uploads (I believe that’s the technical term) per month (which is more necessary when you’re uploading photos), but I rarely have really needed that subscription. I think about bumping back to the free version (Evernote is fantastic about not making you lose any of your stored data if you decide to go back to free), but I keep thinking “it’s just $5” and I like the app so much. And I really don’t want to lose the 150×150 pixels or whatever it is that the ads take up. But if you were on a budget, you could easily survive the workflow that I normally use on the free account.

September 24, 2010

Small Site Addition – Evernote Site Memory

I call this: tech,web — Posted by KP @ 8:47 pm

You’re going to see a little green elephant button at the bottom of this post — actually at the bottom of every post. That’s Evernote’s new Site Memory feature.

I’ve gotten a bit hooked on Evernote recently. In brief, it’s a cloud-based app that you can use to store text and other files in a searchable, organized format so you always have access to your stuff. For more about it, see my first impressions post. I’m going to do a longer post about use cases and later impressions, but I want to wait until I’ve had time to use it through a rehearsal process. I’ll give you a hint though: so far it’s been very useful at keeping myself organized, and giving Meaghan (my ASM) a way to keep up with my preproduction work at her leisure, while halfway across the country.

Site Memory is a new feature they just introduced, I think last week. Basically you click the elephant and it automatically clips the post content into a nice format to import into the user’s Evernote account, and lets them assign it to a notebook and set tags and add a comment to it. It also allows the website owner to have a little control over the format and content of the clipping, although I’m not doing anything too fancy with that. I just like being an early adopter of things I find cool.

For reading some sites, using Site Memory might not be much more of an improvement over the default Evernote browser plugin, but for blogs it seems handy because it can clip an individual post with one click. It’s also interesting to note that while the browser plugin requires you to be using a computer with Evernote installed, the Site Memory button works over the web, so you can use it from any computer. And if you don’t use Evernote, you can get started by clicking that button. It’s free!

January 1, 2010

New Year Site Updates

I call this: tech,web — Posted by KP @ 9:54 pm

Today I took some time to update some little things that have been bugging me about the site.

I have wanted to make the comment feature on the blog more welcoming for a while. For one thing, I have removed the need to register for the site before posting. I activated that because I was getting a lot of spam comments, but I will try again and see if it’s ok. Also, the comment section should support Gravatars (a service that will show your avatar on any enabled site based on the email address you post with). I would very much appreciate some feedback from other Gravatar users on if it works.

I also added support for threaded comments, and edited my theme to make the displayed comments and the new comment form stand out a bit with different-colored boxes. If you want to really see it in action, you can check out this post, which has a couple comments already.

In other news, I cleaned up some of the margins to allow for more consistent and attractive spacing between paragraphs and headings (on the blog and the main site), and fixed what was broke with image alignment with a recent WordPress update (hint: the needed CSS code was correct, it was just apparently too far down in the file, and moving it to the top was what fixed it — not exactly sure why, and don’t really care now that it’s fixed).

I’m also currently in the middle of updating all the posts with tags. I’ve never been one to use tags, but it seems like a good idea, especially given how many posts I have accumulated over the years. In the process, I moved the tags listing to the bottom of the post, where it seems more logical to me, in terms of where people will be looking when they decide they may wish to read more about the topic. My recent studies in PHP have made me a little more confident in editing my WordPress files. I may not always understand exactly what they do, but I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out roughly what does what.

If you’d like to take a moment to play around with the comment features, please do! I’d love to hear from you!