Sunday, April 25, 2010

SSH Hostname Shortcut

As I work with 3 machines: laptop, desktop, and a server: all running 64-bit Linux, I often need to use ssh and scp. I find repeated typing of long hostnames stress inducing, with the chance of making a typo or just the pressure on my fingers. Here is a trick I use.

Create a file .ssh/config with the following entries:

Host [shortcut]
Hostname [full-hostname]
User [username]

where entries in [brackets] are to be filled with your entries. Additional entries like Port, ServerAliveInterval, etc. can also be filled out.

This along with public key based password-less ssh works like a charm. If you are as lazy (= productive) as I am, one-letter shortcuts for frequently used hosts like

$ ssh a

is enough.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Syncing Text Notes

A very basic need, trivial to address and yet surprisingly, at I haven't found a convincing solution: you want to make your text notes on your mobile device and then copy-paste to your files on your computer.

I keep my tasks and other important lists in the form of formatted text file (e.g., in Google Docs). I found this to be the most flexible compared to any other todo list applications such Google Tasks or Remember the Milk that never measured up to what I needed to do with them. However, Google Docs doesn't allow you to edit on Mobile devices. iPhone internal Notes program doesn't sync over 3G (I guess that can be made to work somehow with iTunes?) . At some point, I emailed those notes to myself and then copy-paste from the email to Google Doc. Then I found DropBox in which you can sync file with your mobile device and view them. But still NO EDITING despite many people requesting it!!! So I found EverNote and you can edit there but there process requires many clicks at at least on the iPhone with no background app, it's painful and not practical. Also, if you do any rich formatting on a desktop, the mobile app only appends. Then I thought what I make a draft email and keep updating this and then copy-paste from this draft. I used this solution for a while but then again too many clicks to get to it.

What am I missing? Shouldn't there by something out there for this? I doubt that not enough people need to sync their notes.

Out of options, I created my own small application and you can put a shortcut on your mobile main screen. On your first use, it creates a note for you which it will remember from the cookie next time you visit the main URL. You can email it to other computers that you want to sync notes and again using cookie you only need to do this once. Couple of disclaimers:

1. I'm putting this up for comments and would love to hear if there is interest (or alternatives). I may stop this service at any point
2. It is currently formatted for iPhone and I haven't tried on other devices. Again if there is interest, I will support it.
3. This is to be used for small temporary text transfers. Not a secure service. Also, the app is almost too minimalistic and missing many features.