Category Archives: Software

Screencast: Importing HTML Tables into Excel

Importing table-formatted data from web pages is a very handy feature of Microsoft Excel, and probably not very well known. To demonstrate the steps, I made two short videos covering both Windows and Mac versions of Microsoft Excel:

Microsoft Excel – Importing HTML tables

Microsoft Excel for Mac – Importing HTML tables

Note: If you want to see my original screencasts for this technique, see this blog post from 2006: Microsoft Excel Web Queries (Screencast). Side note: I can’t believe that was 7 years ago :)

Top 7 Technical Podcasts

Modified Podcast Logo with My Headphones Photoshopped On

Here’s a list of all the technical/startup podcasts I’m currently listening to – my own personal “top 7”. I have a longer commute now and whether in the car or the train, I’ve had lots of time to keep up. I’ve branched out and tried a LOT of different shows but these are the ones I’ve stuck with.

I can also highly recommend the Downcast podcast app for iPhones – see also my Downcast review from earlier this year. The app has continuous updates and improvements, and is rock solid.

Without further delay, here are my top technical podcasts:

Product People [RSS]
“A podcast focused on great products and the people who make them”, hosted by Justin Jackson (@mijustin). I’m really enjoying the variety of topics and interviewees on this show. Justin does a great job as interviewer and you can tell his passion for these people and their projects. A final bonus: many of the shows are split into two parts to keep their lengths reasonable.

Hanselminutes [RSS]
Probably my all-time favorite podcast. Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) gets a broad variety of guests to appear, and always keeps it interesting. Scott also has a ton of respect for the listener – when guests mention buzzwords or new technical concepts, he always asks the right questions to help keep the audience up to speed. His shows are also always a reasonable length with no extra chit-chat, just the content.

Startups For the Rest of Us [RSS]
This is probably the first “startup” podcast I started following. Hosts Mike Taber (@singlefounder) and Rob Walling (@robwalling) do a great job each week talking about their own startup experiences, with a focus on bootstrapping. Good mix of stories/ideas/interviews along with a healthy dose of answering listener questions.

Kalzumeus Software ยป podcasts [RSS]
Patrick McKenzie (@patio11) is an infrequent podcaster, but always delivers great content. Patrick shares his experiences running SaaS businesses and in particular trying to educate startups on the value and techniques of proper marketing.

Giant Robots Smashing into other Giant Robots [RSS]
Produced by Thoughbot and hosted by Ben Orenstein (r00k), Giant Robots covers a broad range of software design, development, and business. The guests are always great, and sometimes include internal Thoughbot team members. Ben is a great interviewer, and his enthusiasm shows.

.NET Rocks! [RSS]
I think this is first podcast I started listening to, probably back in 2003 or 2004. (I think I started by burning CD-Rs and listening in my car.) Carl Franklin @carlfranklin) and Richard Campbell (@richcampbell) have been at this for a LONG time, with over 900 episodes recorded since they started in 2002. The show covers all aspects of the .NET platform and related technologies and Carl and Richard make a great pair.

The Tablet Show [RSS]
Also by Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell, The Tablet Show started in 2011 to focus on mobile and tablet software technologies. It’s a good complement to .NET Rocks and branches out more often away from strictly the .NET world.

Twitter Followers in CSV Format

Several months ago I shared my script for exporting Twitter friends into CSV format, suitable for importing into Excel or other spreadsheet programs. This week I made some slight improvements to my gist and discovered that someone else had forked it to create a version that exports your followers as well.

The modified version for finding your followers is available on GitHub (jimbohne/5933586), and embedded below. Follow the installation steps if you want to try it yourself.

Zapier – Smart Update Emails

Zapier is an interesting service I’ve been playing with lately. It’s somewhat similar to IFTTT, but with more of a business focus. In their words:

Zapier enables you to automate tasks between other online services (services like Salesforce, Basecamp, Gmail, and 224 more). Imagine capturing Wufoo form leads automatically into Salesforce or displaying new Paypal sales in your Campfire team chat room. Zapier lets you automate all these simple tasks and get back to real work.

One recent touch that was nice – they send periodic updates with new actions available in their services. The email updates are focused for just the services you have used in the past. Nice and targeted, and probably leading more users to return and try out the new actions.

Zapier Service Email

Smart email from Zapier – updates only on services I’ve used before

Find Largest Files in Dropbox

File hosting services like Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive, and Box all have very generous free storage levels (2 GB and up). Even so, it’s easy to quickly reach the free limit, especially as you start backing up photos, movies, and other large files.

If you’re getting close to your service’s free limit, here’s a solution for quickly finding the largest of your files, so you can clean them out or back up elsewhere. This works best when you’ve set up your service to sync everything to your local Mac or Windows computer. In my case I’m using Dropbox which defaults to this mode.

The solution involves a free (open-source) software application, depending on which platform you’re using:

The steps are pretty straightforward:

  1. Install the utility and start it
  2. Point to your local storage path (in my case, the Dropbox home dir)
  3. Run the analysis
  4. From the results, find the large files and do something with them (back up, move, delete, etc.)

Both utilities show a “treemap” view which helps quickly spot the biggest individual files (e.g., movies), and groups of similar files that collectively take a lot of space (e.g., MP3).

Here are screenshots of the two apps run against my Dropbox path:

WinDirStat Screenshot

WinDirStat results point to the biggest files in my Dropbox account

Disk Inventory X Screenshot

Disk Inventory X results are patterned after WinDirStat

In my case I’m primarily using Dropbox and have used about half of my 5GB account. I use the WinDirStat utility regularly to find large files that are better saved elsewhere, and to keep my Dropbox backups somewhat manageable.