Tag Archives: troubleshooting

Geek Tools

What are you doing with your second monitor? If you don’t have a second monitor attached to your system, either you’re always mobile with a laptop, or you’re crazy. I couldn’t live without a second screen – yes, you’d be surprised at how quickly 30″ fills up. I keep my instant messenger, chat, etc. – applications that I need to see at a moment’s notice, but not all the time. Yes, I could use a virtual desktop (with a great degree of ease in Mac OS X). However, that would require a lot of screen flipping just to see if a new notification has come in.

If you’ve watched any one of my videos in recent weeks, or you’ve seen the live stream, then you may have seen green text on my leftmost monitor (if I have it on during recording, or if the screen saver hasn’t yet kicked in). The text is dynamic, sitting in the foreground, showing me which processes are consuming the most CPU cycles or memory – as well as showing me the latest entries in the system log. Even if you don’t have a second screen on your system, you’ll want to use this software. It’s more useful to geeks, but I guess that’s why they call it GeekTool.

I recorded a quick screencast to show you just how easy it is to configure (you don’t really need to be a geek to enjoy the tool’s fruits). You can use GeekTool to render shell commands, read text files live, or display static image URLs directly on your desktop. It’s easier to use this than it is to open a terminal window just to see the same data. I’m sure many of you are already using GeekTool – and, if so, I’d love to see which shell commands you’re using in your installation. I could always use more!

Anyway, here’s what it can do for you:

My GeekTool commands / file watches:

  • ps -Aro %cpu,ucomm,user
  • ps -Amo rsz,ucomm,user
  • sysctl vm.loadavg | sed s/’^vm.loadavg: ‘//
  • /var/log/system.log

Of course, GeekTool is only available for Mac OS X – but I bet you might know of something similar for either Windows or Linux. Feel free to share your discoveries (or Mac OS X shell commands)… I’m all pixels!

IE Makes it Impossible to Troubleshoot Feeds

This morning, a subscriber notified us that one of our master feeds was broken. I loaded ‘er up in IE, only to (once again) be faced with cripped pieces of feedback. Yes, the browser shows me part of the error, but doesn’t actually tell me where the error is! Without some form of context, I have to dig deeper. Screw that. I have to fire up FireFox just to learn more about a problem. IE7 better be better on the code troubleshooting front. In related news, our new forums output RSS for searches. The server is definitely being brought to its knees, but we’re getting another one in place ASAP. You want proof? You can’t handle the proof.