Saturday, July 11, 2009

Change Google Chrome's default search to bing-vs-google

The site provides search results from both Bing and Google in a single webpage.

To make it the default browser search in Firefox and Internet Explorer, simply click "add to browser search" on the site's home page.

Changing Chrome's default search is not as simple, but can be done easily.

1. Right-click on the Chrome address bar, then click "Edit search engines..."

2. In the Search Engines pop-up window, click "Add"

3. In the Add Search Engine window, enter the following values, then click OK:
Name: bing-vs-google

4. Select the "bing-vs-google" entry in the Search Engines listing, then click "Make Default"

Now you can have the benefit of both search engine results.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Finding Clients in your network

I'm fortunate to have met some great folks and maintained relationships throughout my career. My best advice is to never, ever burn a bridge when leaving a company. Former companies should be a source of job references and usually end up being future partners or clients. As an independent consultant, the strength of your network will directly translate into billable work.

Get the word out to the following networks that you are available for independent work:
For social networking sites, it can be very useful to know that a friend of yours knows somebody at the company you are interviewing at for an insight or insider tips. Recruiters have often contacted me through my LinkedIn profile. Janak provide a great tip to list your technical skills in your profile summary or specialties - so you will appear when someone does a search for a particular skill.

On job websites, I have found it very helpful to set up daily search agents for the skillset keywords I'm most interested in. Not only does this provide leads on which companies or industries to start looking into, but the daily listing also provides a general indication of the matching opportunities and which way the market is trending. These daily emails were a major factor to determine that the move independent consulting could be a sustainable transition from full-time work. Do sign up for multiple jobs sites. Due to cost, most companies will not cross-post their openings on multiple sites.

If you've got a strong resume, you'll end up getting contacted by many recruiters. Keep in contact with just a handfulof recruiters that you have been able to establish a good relationship and feel very comfortable with. Most recruiters will do the bare minimum to make a match simply based on keyword matches on your profile without really understanding your goals or the clients' needs.

If you are in between clients and have some cycles to spare, volunteering or nonprofit work is a great way to network and heighten your overall karma. I'm helping a friend who started Connect the Dots (a nonprofit helping "green" nonprofits) by volunteering and providing technical advice.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Franchise Tax Board Address Verification Notice

I was wondering what to do with the Franchise Tax Board Address Verification Notice (FTB 4729) that LegalZoom forwarded me today, since the cover letter had absolutely no information besides their general 800 number.

Dear Valued Customer:
We are forwarding the enclosed documents received on your behalf. If you have any questions regarding these documents, please contact us at (800) 773-0888. For a full list of additional services, please visit us at

After calling their customer support line, it turns out I need to fill it out with my corporate address. If they had provided this guidance on the covering letter, it would have saved me 10 minutes of working through their automated call center and the time taken by two of their operators to relay this information.

On a side note, I signed up for Registered Agent service on my LegalZoom LLC package, so all legal documents are received and forwarded by LegalZoom.

Can anyone offer guidance if I really need a registered agent and if there is a better option than LegalZoom's $159/year fee?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

State of California Annual LLC Tax

I'm snail mailing form FTB 3522 and payment to the State of California Franchise Tax Board today. It is the annual $800 tax for all LLCs doing business in Calfornia. Any new business must pay the fee by the 15th day of the 4th month, or by April 15, 2008 for an existing LLC.

This is a very simple process and one that could have been easily been done online, without having to print out a form, write a check, stuff and stamp an envelope and trudge to the nearest post box. Technology people, let's use it!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

OCR an image with Microsoft Office

As I went to scan in reference letters from my previous job at Enform, I wanted the ability to capture the text content as well. Several years ago, I recall Pillsbury Winthrop investing in high priced software to enable OCR (optical character recognition) of the Firm's copier scanned documents.

I was not very confident beginning my search for free OCR options. It turns out the Microsoft Office suite has a decent OCR application called Microsoft Office Document Imaging. I've had this little gem for years and not known about it. If you don't own the Microsoft Office suite, you might try this link for other alternatives.

A Jon Galloway blog entry outlines the steps to create an OCR Word doc from an image.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Source Control/Code Hosting

With continuous tweaks to the Vihho website, some sort of source control as backup and versioning is becoming necessary. Not wanting to deal with the additional hardware and responsibility of configuring and maintaining my own source control server, I went out looking for a hosted solution.

My source control applications of choice are Subversion and VSTS/TFS. Subversion, along with TortoiseSVN is an open source favorite. VSTS/TFS is Microsoft's offering in the enterprise source control, a much bigger brother to Visual SourceSafe.

There are numerous Subversion options, but I finally decided on cvsdude for their great reviews and free hosting. Their other plans are also quite affordable:
  • Free Account: 2MB, 1 repository, 1 user
  • $5.99/month: 250 MB, 1 repository, 2 users
TFS hosting is extremely limited and expensive, with the lowest offering at TeamDevCentral at $1000/month and TFSNow at $995/month. Unfortunately the TFSNow website has not been responding the past few days. This offering appears to only be targeting large scale enterprises at the moment.

The only reasonable option for TFS hosting is to create an open source project on CodePlex. Of course, this means the entire world can peer at your source code, but at least there is no cost.

Microsoft Live Mesh

Upon looking for (free) online storage options, I stumbled upon Microsoft's Live Mesh. It is only in tech preview, but the current functionality is already feature filled and its future vision is impressive.

Current functionality:
  • Free, but requires Live account
  • Online storage: 5 GB
  • Sharing and synchronizing directories/files between computers (no more emailing documents, or saving in Gmail like I've been doing for a while now)
  • Live Desktop provides remote access to connect to your home computer from work, or the reverse - similar to Remote Desktop
Some basic functionality is still missing: ability upload multiple files or deleting directories, but having used it for a few hours, I'm already a fan. Live Mesh only runs on Microsoft XP or Vista, so all others are out of luck.

Update: Ryan showed me the light and steered me away from the web client. The key is setting the sync settings to Synchronize files when the files are added. The Live Mesh client install will place an icon on your desktop to access your Mesh folders. Within explorer, it's the usual operations (drag & drop files or folders, delete, rename, etc) you get with the vanilla file system.