Archive for the Tips & Tricks Category

June 24th, 2010

Reviews, once again

After a long — too long — pause, I’ve added a few travel reviews from my past travels. Due to my workload, I haven’t been able to focus on as much I’ve wanted to, but I try to work less during the next year. Probably that won’t happen, to be honest with you, but at least I’ll try.

Now published reviews are from our recent trip to St. Petersburg, and I’ve got some pending reviews for Stockholm that we’ve visited last January, and of course for München and Salzburg — I’m currently writing this at our temporary apartment near Kolumbus Platz in München.

May 15th, 2007

Helsinki Cruise Guide updated

Cruise season is starting and big ships will board to Helsinki docks daily. If you have planned being on board of one of those ships, check out’s Helsinki Cruise Guide.

The guide, as the name implies, is a tight-packed information about Helsinki for people that stay only a day. The city is full of wonderful places, restaurants, shops and such, but you don’t want to waste your precious time finding them. So, read the guide, save or print the best places, and make other passangers green with envy — using your insider information.

November 11th, 2005

‘Tis the season

Christmas season is approaching with an alerting speed and at least I’ve been dumbstruck figuring out what to buy to whom. Gradually. I’ve started to see some light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully can soon start purchasing the stuff.

If you have similar problems, don’t you worry and let help you. For your benefit, I’ve updated the Nomadig Xmas store to include new gadgets and a set of excellent books to keep you entertained while travelling or trying to recover from overeating.

The recommendations for the last year are also still available on Xmas 2004 store. Most of the stuff there is still technologically valid and some of them have really good bargains.

September 15th, 2005

Reviews are just reviews!

Recently I’ve got funny requests in the comments in the reviews section. People are asking me or the readers to provide information that is most easily available from the reviewed store, hotel, or restaurant. I would understand that the question is posted here, if the were no contact details — but usually there is.

Maybe the reviews section has a bad layout and the contact details are not easily seen among everything else on the page, but sometimes I feel that people don’t read the page completely before acting.

It should be clear that the review is just a review, and is not affiliated with the reviewed party by any means.

Of course, I should be flattered that people are finding the reviews and this site from search engines, and they have enough confidence to write a comment. This shows that at least someone out there is interested in my ramblings, in the journal or in the reviews.

May 5th, 2005

Creating Mac and PC partitions on the same disk

As my frequent readers know, I’ve been fighting with my PowerBook, Sony VAIO and LaCIE BigDisk combination. The aim has been to get a native partition for both computers; Mac needs a backup drive and VAIO needs space to store my photographs.

My fair share of troubles have included NTFS issues and destroying the whole disk partition map with Mac’s tools. Finally I found decent instructions to set things right. Of course, these instructions were not perfect and I had to fiddle with them to get things working.

I have a 500GB external disk. I would like to have two partitions, both 100GB and the rest would be reserved for future extensions. The following path took me to the completion:

1. Boot up Mac.
2. Open a terminal window.
3. Write the following command:

ls /dev/disk?

You should see list of the current drives, such as /dev/disk0
4. Attach external disk.
5. Eject current drives from the desktop (or use Finder).
6. Write the previous command (ls /dev/disk?) again.
7. There should be a new drive, in my case /dev/disk1. Mark the number down and use it instead of 1 when following these instructions.
8. Create the required partitions:

diskutil partitionDisk disk1 3 HFS+ MacBackup 100G
MS-DOS Lacie 100G MS-DOS Empty 270G

This will take a while. Now you have three partitions, and the last one fills the disk. This is the partition to be deleted in a while. For some odd reason, Mac diskutil always fills the disk with the last partition, and you may end up to have too large FAT32 partition.
9. Start pdisk in the terminal.
9a. Check the partition table with “l” (lowercase L). Write /dev/disk1 as the device. You should see the following listing or similar:

/dev/disk1  map block size=512
#:                 type name                  length   base
1:  Apple_partition_map Apple                     63 @ 1
2:           Apple_Free                            0+@ 64
3:            Apple_HFS Apple_HFS_Untitled_2 209453056 @ 262208
4:           DOS_FAT_32 DOS_FAT_32_Untitled_3 209715200 @ 209715264
5:           DOS_FAT_32 DOS_FAT_32_Untitled_4 561039039 @ 419430464
6:           Apple_Free Extra                      0+@ 980469496

Device block size=512, Number of Blocks=980469496
DeviceType=0x0, DeviceId=0x0

9b. Enter editing mode by pressing “e”. Enter /dev/disk1 as the device.
9c. Delete last partition by pressing “d”. Enter the number of the partition, in my case “5″.
9d. Check the results by pressing “p”. The partition 5 should have been deleted and merged with partition 6:

/dev/disk1  map block size=512
#:                 type name                  length   base
1:  Apple_partition_map Apple                     63 @ 1
2:           Apple_Free                            0+@ 64
3:            Apple_HFS Apple_HFS_Untitled_2 209453056 @ 262208
4:           DOS_FAT_32 DOS_FAT_32_Untitled_3 209715200 @ 209715264
5:           Apple_Free Extra                      0+@ 419430464

Device block size=512, Number of Blocks=980469496
DeviceType=0x0, DeviceId=0x0

9e. Write the partition table to disk with “w”.
9f. Quit the editing mode and pdisk by pressing twice “q”.
10. Reboot the computer. I read from some tech-savvy sites that pdisk doesn’t flush all caches, so it’s best to reboot before continuing.
11. After reboot, eject drives and open terminal.
12. Start pdisk and print out the partition table with “p”. You should see the same table as above.
13. Open another terminal window.
14. Write MBR (master boot record) for Windows computers:

fdisk -e /dev/rdisk1

15. Answer “y” for initialising the partition table.
16. Now edit all partitions for Windows use, too. Copy the partition offset from the column “base” from the pdisk listing. Copy the partition length in similar fashion from the column “length”. You may want to use clipboard to avoid typos. Use “af” as Mac partition id and “c” as FAT32 id. Answer “n” for question about editing in CHS mode.

edit 1
Partition id ('0' to disable)  [0 - FF]: [0] (? for help) af
Do you wish to edit in CHS mode? [n] n
Partition offset [0 - 980469503]: [63] 1
Partition size [1 - 980469502]: [980469502] 63

edit 2
Partition id ('0' to disable)  [0 - FF]: [0] (? for help) af
Do you wish to edit in CHS mode? [n] n
Partition offset [0 - 980469503]: [64] 262208
Partition size [1 - 980207295]: [980207295] 209453056

edit 3
Partition id ('0' to disable)  [0 - FF]: [0] (? for help) c
Do you wish to edit in CHS mode? [n] n
Partition offset [0 - 980469503]: [209715264] 209715264
Partition size [1 - 770754239]: [770754239] 209715200

17. Check the results with print command:

Disk: /dev/rdisk1       geometry: 61031/255/63 [980469503 sectors]
Offset: 0       Signature: 0xAA55
         Starting       Ending
 #: id  cyl  hd sec -  cyl  hd sec [     start -       size]
 1: AF    0   0   2 -    0   1   1 [         1 -         63] HFS+
 2: AF   16  82   3 - 1023  43  45 [    262208 -  209453056] HFS+
 3: 0C 1023  43  46 - 1023  86  26 [ 209715264 -  209715200] Win95 FAT32L
 4: 00    0   0   0 -    0   0   0 [         0 -          0] unused

18. Save the partition changes with write and then exit by typing quit.
19. Now you should be done.

Note that even if this worked for me, it can screw your disks. I don’t take any responsibility whatsoever about any damages. You do this at your own risk.

August 18th, 2004

Blogging with success

Keith Robinson had a recent article in his blog an article about a successful blog. After reading the entry I pondered the message for a few days and today I read an article about service in Finnish leadership magazine Fakta and decided to form my own thoughts.

I have categorised the required items into two categories: crucial and good to have. If you fail with the crucial ones, you are doomed to be unsuccessful. If you fail with the good to have ones, your visitors do not get fully excited about your blog and you may loose them easier.

There is no good measurement for these things; it is more about how does it feel — about “the warm fuzzy feeling” or teddybear effect. People want to hug your blog.

First, let’s go with the crucial ones:

  • Good content. You simply live or die with this one. If you cannot write anything interesting, why somebody would be interested in your writing? Be consistent, write to the point. Be witty. If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say it. Don’t allow your blog to degenerate into a link list or a collection of other people’s thoughts. Don’t get stuck to one or two subjects. Remember that to gather big amount of people to read your writing, you need to something that is universally interesting or has special appeal for certain niche.
  • Update frequently. Have something to say at least once a week. If you update less frequently, people tend to slow down the pace for checking updates on your site.
  • Know your audience and allow them to know you. Blogging is bi-directional activity. You write, they write. Provide thought provoking content and then get responded, argued and bashed by your audience. Interact with them! Show that you care that they care.
  • Allow people to leave on better mood. People should be happier or wiser after leaving your blog. Serve them well, make the blog your labour of love. Be funny, be witty (once again), make people laugh (with you, not at you).
  • Personality. You have to be a personal experience for your audience, not part of the masses. If you can’t spot the difference between your blog and randomly selected blogs, do something for it. Be proudly yourself and make friends through blogging.
  • Get incoming links. Superb content doesn’t help, if nobody can find your blog. Post your links to several places, interact with people, get your blog to blogrolls, have proper Google rating and spread the word. Be so interesting that your audience spreads the word for you.
  • Patience is virtue. No man is born as an angler. Learn while you go and publish your learnings, it makes your blog more interesting and can be really helpful for somebody in your audience. Don’t dream on success, act for it. But steadily, rushing will just repel your audience.

And then the good to have ones:

  • Vocabulary and grammar. If you cannot write proper English or you have limited set of words in your arsenal, you are seen unintelligent. How’s that for a label? Study and practice. Being native in English doesn’t usually help, as you may still be bad with the language. I’m not native (and it sometimes shows), but I try my best and I’m going to improve over the time. Oh, one more thing: avoid profanity.
  • Openness. Write about those things that you feel strongly. Remember that you don’t have to be open for every detail of your life — you act as in role; you are a blogger that may not be completely the same person as you are. If some topic is a sore spot for you, don’t touch it. Remember, onsistency and honesty are the keys here. You are not just writing a story, you are the story.
  • Usable and well designed site. Your site has to provide means for visitors to go around and reach all the corners and dark alleys, the buried content. With ease. It doesn’t hurt, if your site is visually pleasing. These all add credibility for the site. Don’t get too excited with visuality, as world is already full of good looking blogs with not much content. Images add eye candy to your posts; use them wisely.

As the last advice: don’t overdo anything. Find the balance in content, design and attitude towards your audience.