Scaling and Sizing with PDFJam

I find myself needing to take a PDF, output it at a specific size, and have the result offset to the top right hand side of the screen. To achieve it, I needed a few new switches to my good friend PDFJam, so I thought I'd share my command!

pdfjam --suffix converted --papersize '{1920px,1080px}' --scale 0.4 --trim "-6cm -1cm 13cm 8cm" slides.pdf

The --suffix is instead of giving an output filename, whatever you feed in ends up with the suffix in its filename. This is very handy because I use this command in a script and only need to pass in one variable. The --papersize isn't a switch I have used before either but you can set exact sizes for the final output which is nice. The --trim switch can also be used to set --clip=true to remove the trimmed space from the document if desired.

I find PDFJam a very handy tool but with not nearly enough blog posts and code snippets around, so I'm dropping my command for future reference (yours as well as mine!).

Vimdiff and Vim to Compare Files

At the moment I'm working on a tricky project where two similar projects diverged. Very similar things happened to them both, but not quite the same things - and now we're merging the codebases to give us as much common code as possible. All this simply serves to set the scene of exactly what I was doing spending a whole day with large code diffs - I had to look up a few things so I thought I'd capture them while I can remember. Continue reading

Todotxt on Android and Ubuntu

I'm a big fan of good tools, however struggle to find products that fit me because there are some key constraints:

  • I use Linux (specifically Ubuntu 14.10)
  • I don't use a pointing device. At all. If I can't use a tool from the keyboard, I can't use it at all (as a side effect, I use keyboard enablers in my browser so if your website has "helper" keyboard shortcuts, I probably can't use that either)
  • My other devices (phone, tablet, work phone) are all android

Taken together, this makes finding tools a challenge - but I've had good experiences with todotxt and the ecosystem around it. Continue reading

Status Check on All Vagrant Machines

Much of the development I do these days uses vagrant machines to make sure that my code is running in the correct environment. This is great, but spinning up too many machines at once can rather stretch the resources of the computer you're running them on - and I keep starting up machines and then forgetting about them!

It turns out that (since vagrant 1.6) you can ask vagrant to tell you which of its machines are running, using the command:

vagrant global-status

Where did all my system resources go? Now I know!

Vim and HTML Tags with the Surround Plugin

Marking up documents is always tedious, and usually there are shortcuts available. My favourite document format tool is Pandoc, literally a box of document-conversion tricks! Today though I was not so lucky so I marked up a plain text file as HTML by hand ... or rather, using my favourite vim tricks so I thought I'd share them.
Continue reading

Git Submodules for Dependent or Common Code

Submodules are one of the most powerful and most mistrusted features in git, at least in the web development part of the internet where I spend my time. I've seen them go horribly wrong, but I've also had teams adopt submodules and have their development process run much more smoothly as a result - so I thought I'd take a moment out of my day to write down the process (and the gotchas) of development with submodules. Continue reading

View Only Headers with Curl

When working with curl, it can give lots of excellent and detailed information, but sometimes it is too much! Today I'm fiddling with the caching headers on a client's application, so I'm only interested in seeing the headers and not the body of the response. Making a HEAD request changes the output I get, so I really do want to GET and then only see the headers.

Handily, when you use the -v verbose flag with curl, it sends the output to stdout as usual, but the extra information including the headers goes to stderr. This means that I can therefore view the headers only throwing away stdout completely:

curl -v -s http://awesome-site.com 1> /dev/null

(you need the -s to stop curl from "helpfully" printing progress bars as well)

Colourless Git Output

I teach git and often have issues with bad projectors where you can't see the colours. Recently I had a setup where even white on black was more or less invisible, but using black text on a white background worked okay. There's lots of documentation on how to turn on colours in git but not so much about how to turn them off.

Try putting the following into .git/config:

[color]
    branch = false
    diff = false
    interactive = false
    status = false

I had expected to be able to set color.ui to false but that didn't seem to make much difference, so I now use the settings above. I thought I'd drop it here in case anyone else is looking for the same thing.

Copy/Pasting and Vim

I'm a vim user and I somehow completely missed this excellent feature until much more recently than I care to admit! Usually vim has its own clipboard, but it doesn't share with the operating system. You will need a vim-gtk install, this isn't available in really basic vim (I'm a little unclear exactly on the dependencies).

To paste between vim and something else, use the + (plus) buffer in vim. It contains the contents of your system clipboard, and you can also write to it. If you're not already using buffers in vim, then you should probably read the excellent documentation but for a very quick start:

  • To copy something into the buffer, select it in visual mode and type "+y
  • To paste from the buffer, type "+P

I had no idea how I'd missed this really fundamental trick, so I thought I'd share!

Quick Switch Between Git Branches

Today's little-known git feature (or maybe everyone knows but me? I only found this a few months ago) is for quickly switching between branches. Usually I would switch branches with:

git checkout [branchname]

However if you switch from one branch to another and want to switch back again (this happens when I'm reviewing changes and wondering if a bug is present on master as well), then you can do so by just doing:

git checkout -

Just a little timesaver in case it's useful to anyone else - I know I've been using it quite a bit!