Category Archives: IT systems

Tips for setting up your own LAMP stack in Mac OSX

Hey, this is NOT a comprehensive guide to setting up your own development environment, but I thought I’d post a few pitfalls I’ve discovered.

Most macs are set up out of the box to run apache found in /etc/apache2/. Normally, the system user and group for apache is _www. If you try to set up sites in /usr/HOMEDIR/Sites, it’ll likely give the files there the ownsership:group of YOURUSER:staff (or something else than staff). It either needs to be _www:_www OR YOURUSER:_www (and then you change the httpd.conf file to reflect YOURUSER for the User variable).

Also to edit any system files like that, be sure to edit as a super user or sudo.

Change read status of all gmail messages at once

Sometimes I’m called upon to set up a Google business apps account and migrate folks emails over. What can happen, depending upon how you do this is that you get thousand of emails in the inbox that are unread. Needless to say, the client doesn’t really have that many new emails. You can’t go in one by one and mark them as read. I just found a nice little post that shows you how to create a filter in gmail to handle all your email status’ at once!

  1. Go to your Settings/Filters page and create a new filter.
  2. In the Has the words field enter “is:unread” (without quotes), and click the Next Step button.
  3. You’ll get a message warning you that this type of filter won’t be applied to new mail, but that’s OK. Click OK to continue.
  4. Check the boxes next to Mark as read and Also apply filter to … conversations below.
  5. Click Create Filter button, and you’re done. You might want to should delete the filter once you finish since it won’t be needing it anymore.

Here’s the original source:

The Benefits of webmail and another pitch for gmail or google apps

Today I discovered a great reason to utilize webmail rather than some local client like Outlook or Thunderbird.

You see, I recently switch all my emails over to Google Apps, and have been using Mailplane to access my emails.  Mailplane is pretty much a glorified desktop client that is really just an interface to gmail.  Essentially, when I turn on Mailplane, it’s as if I’m turning on Safari and logging into gmail.  All emails and attached files are sitting on Googles servers, and not on my computer.

When I switched over to Google Apps and Mailplane, I thought that was cool and all…until today.  Today, I realized how INCREDIBLY cool it is.

Today, I was digging around on my hard drive, wondering why the heck it was so full and trying to recapture some of that space.  I downloaded a nifty little application, Disk Inventory X, which shows you, visually, what’s actually on your hard drive.  Sounds silly, but when you are hunting around for what’s eating up your hard drive, and you don’t feel like hitting the command line and DFing everything, this little utility comes in handy.  Today it showed me some serious old file storage that did not need to be there.

As it happens, I was using Thunderbird as a mail client before.  It’s kept all my emails that were on google apps or gmail to the tune of 50G.  Seriously.  All that data is on Google’s servers AND my computer.  Now that I don’t use Thunderbird anymore, WHAM, 50G freed up!  Whoot!

Can you imagine what Outlook is doing to folks?

Another thing it showed me was how DropBox retains a copy of something if you unsynch it.  I’d unsynched about 8 gigs of data today, but it didn’t seem to be gone.  Then I found the Dropbox cache…8 Gigs.  WHAM, 8 Gigs freed up.

Sweet, now I’m about 60 Gigs lighter.  If only I could do that to my waist 😉

I feel dirty today

Today, I’m setting up a client for web hosting.  I have two favorite hosting companies for the clients that are mindful of their costs.  One is, and the other is Media Temple.  Both are great companies with excellent service and servers.

Unfortunately, putting an SSL certificate into the fray manages to make them both, well, less palatable.

Site5 does not sell SSL certs, which requires that you purchase the cert from a third party and have it installed on Site5.  Yes, of course that’s doable, but rather a complicated affair.  When thinking in terms of the longevity of the account, the likelihood that the client will have to deal with renewals in the future, and all that, it’s just setting the client up for hard times in the future.

Mediatemple offers SSL certs, but for $120/year.  Uhm, wow, well, jeez, that’s almost twice as much as the industries leading hosting rapist, Godaddy.  So that just stinks.

So I’m pondering what to do at this point.  Bluehost….meh. 1and1….meh.  Some smaller outfit with great prices….meh.   ……………….  OMG…Godaddy?  Gulp.

I feel like a lemming right now. *sigh*

Google Apps for your business and why you should bother

Recently I’ve converted a bunch of clients over to Google Apps.  Usually, they came to me saying, “Hey so-and-so said that I should use Google Apps for my business.  Can you tell me why I should bother?”

At first, I didn’t have a real clear answer.  I figured, well, they already have email, they already can use Dropbox or some such system for file sharing, and they likely are already using either their gmail or yahoo calendars to manage stuff.

Well, that little voice in the back of my head that represents the operations manager in me said, well, there’s got to be a reason this system exists, eh?  Figure it out dumbass…

Ok, well, here’s an attempt at explaining it to the masses.

Why Google Apps for businesses?
As a small business owners, we find ourselves in need of various systems to run our businesses, right?  When we had that previous ‘corporate’ job, there was The email, The file server, The shared calendaring system that allowed us ants to communicate in some sort of coordinated effort. Plus the IT department/guy/dude/gal, what have you that helped you out…ALL the time.

Well, why not have that for our own business?  I’ll tell you why, it’ll cost you 1/2 a million dollars to do what the corporate world did for you.  You got that kinda cash around?  Not me.

I’ve been poking around with my own email on my own server, using Dropbox or YouSendit to share files with, and a calendar…that’s what iCal is for right?  Now that I’ve got team members, there is a gap.  I can’t really share my calendar effectively, nor give them email that’s easy to get to and install on whatever system they are working on.

So, steps in Google apps.  GA allows you to create a team environment in the cloud, where you can manage company emails, documents, and calendaring.  Here are some of the benefits to all these aspects of google apps for your business.  If you have ten or less users, then it’s free!  Otherwise, it’s $50/person/year, which is pretty reasonable considering the actual costs of a system like this.


  • One Interface.  All your company emails are managed from one admin interface.  From this main administration window, you, as the company owner, have complete control over the users on your team, as well as what email addresses they can interface with.
  • Multiple Emails.  If you have multiple email addresses on multiple domains, you can gain access to them all by logging into gmail, or using desktop software such as Outlook, Apple Mail, or what ever you are using.  The gmail interface really gives you the most features. Your main gmail account allows you to send and receive from all the multiple email addresses you might have, as well as create sophisticated filtering/labelling system to reduce the amount of emails that hit your inbox, thereby saving you some time every day.
  • Labeling.  You might think that most email systems allow you to create folders to store your emails, and have filters, etc… Most do.  The difference is gmail does it with labels.  Rather than have actual ‘folders’, you have labels. You can assign more than one label to an email, thereby putting the email in multiple ‘folders’ without actually making duplicate emails…sound like a good idea?
  • Branding.  By having your staff utilize the branded emails, your online presence, via your staff, will be more cohesive.
  • Accountability.  You can always log in and review the communications that are sent on your company’s behalf.  While looking at someone else’s email seems like an ethical no-no, as a business owner, you sometimes need to see what sort of interactions your employee/contractor is having on your behalf.
  • Reliability. Google servers are incredibly reliable.  You won’t have to worry about servers going down.  Also, if you use the web based interface, you’ll never have issues sending or receiving emails from any computer, or while traveling.


  • Central Repository. Google Docs is a great repository for shared documentation.  You can create and share word like documents, spreadsheets, power point like presentations, drawings, and even web based forms.  If you and one of your team members were to look at the same document at the same time, you will both see the actions and movements each other are making…aka real time sharing.  Neat stuff!
  • External file storage. You can also upload your own files to the server, though there is a cap on the amount of free storage.  However, it’s a great place to store important documents that you can access from anywhere.
  • Google Drive (updated July 1, 2012) – Google Docs has been turned into Google Drive.  This is a vast improvement on Google Docs.  It adds the ability to more effectively store non-google docs files on the server.  Plus, it adds the ability to selectively sync files with your desktop, much like Drop Box.  That’s a HUGE plus in my humble opinion.


  • Robust Calendar. I’m sure you may be familiar with google calendar already.  It’s really the same for google apps, just that you have more sharing features with your team members. You can specify which team members can see, or see AND edit your calendar.  Also, if you currently are using a personal gmail for calendaring, it can quickly and easily be imported into your new google apps account.
  • Super compatibility. If you’ve never hooked up your desktop/mobile calendar with a google calendar, you are missing out.  It’s compatible with most, if not all systems out there.

There’s other cool stuff too. You can manage your Google Analytics/Places/Plus accounts from this main account.

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Well there you have it.  Google Apps for the masses.