A nice chairAbout three months ago I started working as a remote Oracle database consultant, remote meaning I now work from home most weeks. Though I’m still fairly new to telecommuting it’s something that has always interested me.

In the few short months I’ve been working from home I’ve found that I am amazingly productive, but also that there are a few things I couldn’t do it without. Mileage will vary of course, but I wanted to write about some of the things I’ve found most helpful when working from home and one of the most important of these is a really good chair.

I’ve found being comfortable helps me work longer without loosing focus and the office chair is the most essential part of that. Working at the couch works for me for half days, but long stretches lead to neck and upper back problems. I even knew a woman at a previous job who got a pinched nerve from working with her laptop on her couch too much. When I need a change of scenery I’ll move to the couch, but I work at least half of every day from my desk chair.

I found a nice fabric covered Morrill chair at Staples but it’s essential to test-drive your own and choose the best one for you. I tried dozens of chairs before settling on this one.

I’d say plan to spend up to $350 on a good chair. It’s likely you’ll find one for less (mine was on sale for $129, regularly $179) but this is one thing you don’t want to compromise on. Height, padding, back support, arm design and tilt and swivel features should all be considered. If this seems like a lot to spend on a chair, just consider what you’re saving in gas by working from home (in my case no less than $200/month) and you’ll feel better.

You will also probably want to consider some type of floor protection for under your chair. The plastic mats are good on carpet and a version is also available to protect hardwood floors. After seeing recently what only a couple years of office use can do to even industrial carpets I was glad to have picked up a good mat.

I’ll be writing more about working from home in the near future. If you have tips or questions about working from home feel free to leave a comment.

telecommute, telework, home office, office, work

Here’s an oldie but a goodie. Think you can tell the difference between a programming language inventor and a serial killer just from a picture? Take the test and see.

Take the Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer Quiz.

Compliments of Matt Round’s weblog. If you’re into web design check out his main page. It’s quite a bit different from your average blog.

Thanks to Don Burleson for sending this on to me.

fun, funny, quiz, programming language, programming, development

Here’s a quick description of the scp command used for securely copying files between systems on Linux and UNIX.

The scp (secure copy) command can be used to copy files or even entire directories to a remote host. scp is a replacement for the rcp (remote copy) command. While rcp provides the same functionality it is not encrypted and therefore not secure. The scp command uses SSH for data transfer, providing SSH level security.

scp takes arguments in the form of scp –options source destination. The most common option is the –r (recursive) option which is necessary if you are using scp on multiple files or on directories. The source and destination arguments can specify not only a path but optionally a username and hostname in the format of username@hostname:path. If the username is omitted scp assumes the username of the current logged in user. If the hostname is omitted scp assumes the path provided is on the current system. Typically either the source or the destination will describe a remote system; however you could use scp to move a file or files from one remote system to another.

The following example copies the file secret.dat from user tclark’s home directory to a directory named /backup/tclark on a server named backup_server logging in as user terry. As indicated below, the scp command will prompt for the password for user terry on the backup_server when the connection is attempted.

$ scp /home/tclark/secret.dat terry@backup_server:/backup/tclark
terry@backup_server's password: password
secret.dat 100% 1011 27.6KB/s 00:00

Zach has a good article about setting up ssh with key authentication which will allow you to use the scp and ssh commands without a password while still maintaining security.

Easy Linux CommandsFor more tips like this check out my book Easy Linux Commands, only $19.95 from Rampant TechPress.

Buy it now!


linux, unix, system administration, sysadmin, easy linux, scp

Today at the keynote address for Apple’s MacWorld San Francisco show Apple CEO Steve Jobs brought Google CEO Eric Schmidt on stage to talk about how the two companies are collaborating. The Google Maps integration in the new Apple phone is unbelievable, but what would it be called if Google were to merge with Apple?

Schmidt quipped that it could be called “AppleGoog” but this option overlooks the obvious (at least to me) choice of Goopple.

Goople?


Whatever you call it this is going to be cool.

google, apple, apple computer, merger, funny, fun, macworld, macworld 07, macworld07, apple phone, iphone, goopple

Often we only need to see the beginning or end of a file to find what we’re looking for. The head and tail commands offer exactly this functionality. Here’s some more info on these commands from Easy Linux Commands.

Displaying Beginning Lines of a File

Sometimes a user might have a large file for which they only need to display the first few lines. For instance, perhaps the user would like to see the error code on a dump file and the code and error messages appear within the first fifteen lines of the dump file. The following example demonstrates how to display the first fifteen lines of a file using the head command. The head command takes a number as an option and uses it as the number of lines to be displayed. The default is 10.

$ head -15 declaration.txt
The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political
bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the
separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent
respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them
to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by
their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit
of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their
just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes

In this example and often in use it may seem like head is displaying more lines than you asked for. That typically is because the lines are too long for the display so a single line may be continued on the next line.

Displaying Ending Lines of a File

The need might arise to see only the last lines of a file. A good example of this might be an error log file where the user would like to see the last few messages written to the log. The tail command can be used to display the last lines of a file, while passing the number of lines to be displayed. The following example requests the last eight lines in the file called declaration.txt.

$ tail -8 declaration.txt
they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the
same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is
their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which
constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of
Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in
direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let
Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Again it appears we are getting more than eight lines, but this is just the result of long lines wrapping onto two lines.

Display Active Writes to a File

Sometimes you need to go one step further and watch as lines are being written to a file. Perhaps, for example, an application is compressing and copying files to an alternate location, writing messages to a log file called message.log as it processes each file. A curious user might want to observe the progress of the application. In this case, the tail command with the –f (follow) option can be used to read the messages as they are written to a file. The following example assumes that the current working directory is the same directory where the log file resides.

$ tail -f message.log

A clever Linux user can also use the less command to display the beginning lines of a file, the ending lines of a file, or to follow active writes to a file like tail –f does. See the man entry for the less command to see how this is done.

Easy Linux CommandsFor more tips like this check out my book Easy Linux Commands, only $19.95 from Rampant TechPress.

Buy it now!


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