Mud season really sucks when you live on a long dirt road. On Tuesday, I ripped the lower spoiler off my AWD Saab and then on Wednesday, the mud was so bad coming home from the party that I fell into a muddy sea. And while I eventually made it home, the car is beeping and giving me warning signs.
I like the peacefulness of the dirt roads, but my road up Prickly Mountain has so much traffic these days that it becomes almost impassable. I get very conservative (yikes!) when it comes to road paving–I’d like the town to pave right up to my front door!
Thanks for reading this issue of Kibbles & Bytes!
Your Kibbles & Bytes team,
_Don, Kali & Ed_

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*Start Soapbox*
The Vermont legislature is debating and is likely to pass legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. Both Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce have testified in support of this civil rights legislation and it enjoys wide-spread support from the business community in Vermont. Unfortunately, Governor Douglas has indicated that he will veto this legislation. I did have an opportunity to bend his ear a bit at the awards ceremony on Wednesday, but he told me he probably will not reconsider his veto promise.
It is unknown whether there will be sufficient votes in the Vermont House to override the expected veto but I am heading down to the State House to lobby again for this important legislation. Vermont was the first state to make slavery illegal, it was the first state to make civil unions legal and it is time to finish the job and provide our co-workers, neighbors, family and friends with the same rights of marriage that heterosexual couples enjoy.
This is clearly a workplace issue as we expect all of our employees to be able to exercise the same rights and privileges regardless of their sexual orientation. Our jobs are stressful enough without the added burden of less than full equality for all employees. This is why companies large and small have joined together to support this legislation and signing this statement:
bq. The people of Vermont have long aspired to live together under fair laws that recognize our equality and common humanity.
As business leaders, we support the freedom to marry in Vermont. We understand that strong businesses thrive in strong communities. We know that our ability to recruit the most talented employees depends on our ability to attract them to a state with fair and inclusive laws. And we understand that Vermont’s national leadership in civil rights is an important part of who we are as a state.
Because marriage is a basic human right and an individual choice, we support full civil marriage for same-sex couples.
I am confident that the Vermont legislature will, in fact, pass this legislation and override the Governor’s veto. This human rights issue’s time has come and I expect that Vermont will once again establish itself as a leader in providing equal rights for all.
*End Soapbox*
Share your opinion on this issue at the Small Dog blog: “Barkings!”:

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With the introduction of the iTunes App Store some time ago, the iPhone and iPod touch became even more useful devices. Anyone could be an iPhone developer and get their software onto the App store, and thousands of people have done just that. My iPod touch has five pages of Apps ranging from Pandora, for free music streaming; to Air Sharing, which makes the iPod essentially a wireless hard drive and network browser; to TextGuru, a full-featured text editor that includes copy and paste functions.

Skype released its own App late last night, and the blogosphere is buzzing with reviews and commentary. Skype has been around for quite some time, and is a robust instant messaging, video conferencing, and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) phone service with software available for Mac and Windows users. The Skype App allows you to place free calls to other Skype users on your iPhone or pay a nominal by-the-minute fee to call any landline in the world.

Initial reports suggest that the Skype App works well. It is not as fully featured as the computer-based client software, however. For one, there is not a video conference function. Also, it is not possible to have Skype remain active in the background while your iPhone is sleeping, making it impractical—useless, really—for incoming calls.

And, presumably to appease the mobile carriers worldwide, Skype works only while connected to a terrestrial Wi-Fi network. It will not, and probably never will, work over the phone companies’ 3G networks, even though the networks could handle the additional traffic with aplomb. After all, the phone companies are essentially the ones buying the iPhones!

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I’ve been a fan of RSS feeds since the early 2000s, even before the distinctive orange RSS badge began appearing on RSS-enabled websites, and way before Safari or Mail featured built-in RSS readers. RSS has made it much easier for me to stay up-to-date with the massive amount of ever-changing information published on the web. Some of this information is trivial, but some is important for staying up-to-date, creative, and connected.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and it’s basically a way for websites to announce and distribute recently updated content, including full or summarized text and images. You can subscribe to a site’s RSS feed in an RSS reader, which makes following dozens of favorite websites as easy as checking email. RSS readers basically come in three varieties:

1. Desktop RSS Readers. These are stand-alone applications that you launch like any other program on your Mac. They scan your RSS subscriptions for freshly updated content, which you can then browse directly in the desktop RSS reader. They’re fast and easy to use, and can even be rather elegant. I use NetNewsWire for reasons I explain below. Previously I used the excellent (and well designed) NewsFire which would be my favorite reader but for NetNewsWire’s killer feature. Cyndicate and Vienna are other popular desktop RSS readers.

2. Web-based RSS Readers Web based RSS readers offer a single webpage where you can follow subscriptions to dozens of websites. Google Reader and Bloglines are the most popular. The advantage of web-based RSS readers is that you have universal access to your feeds from any web-connected computer. That’s important to me. The disadvantage is that web-based readers tend to have fewer management options than desktop readers, are often somewhat harder to read.

3. Applications With Integrated RSS Readers. In Mac OS 10.5 Leopard, both Safari and Mail offer the option to subscribe to RSS feeds. The idea is great – read your email, then scan your RSS feeds. For many people, the Mail application is active all day. However, I’ve never gotten in the habit of using Safari or Mail to read RSS.

Again, my preference is to use a desktop RSS reader, but I often needed to check my RSS subscriptions at work or while traveling via Google Reader. That meant my subscriptions were always out of sync.

That’s when I discovered NetNewsWire’s killer feature: the ability to sync their desktop reader with Newsgator’s web-based RSS reader. When I mark an item as read in the desktop reader, it shows as read in the web-based reader. When I add a new subscription in the web-based reader, it appears in the desktop-reader. My RSS subscriptions are finally in sync. It’s all free; all you have to do is download the latest version of NetNewsFire (by clicking here), and create an account at Newsgator (by clicking here). Once your account with Newsgator is active, input your account setting in NetNewsFire.

There is also a version of NetNewsWire for the iPhone / iPod touch, which you can read about by clicking here.

Note: This is not a product sells or receives commission from, it’s simply a Mac-friendly service that I’ve found very useful.

Small Dog does have a number of useful RSS feeds, which you can view and subscribe to by clicking here.

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Several readers have recently inquired about how they can change their Mac’s default icons (such as the hard drive icon). It’s very easy to change a Mac’s folder icons (and revert them back to original settings). The following is what Apple calls a Pro Tip.
I think it’s more of a fun Mac Treat than a Pro Tip, since most people would only do this to personalize their computer. However, adding custom icons could help brand a Mac used in a public setting (for example, in a library, a point-of-sale system, etc).
You can personalize folders, files, and drives with custom icons using just about any graphic file desired, including jpeg, gif, png, Photoshop or Illustrator file, and even PDF.
First, choose an image you want to use and open it in Preview. If the file doesn’t open in Preview by default, select the image in Finder, select Open With from the File menu and then select Preview from the drop-down list.
Once your image has opened in Preview, press Command-C to copy it.
Next, select the file, folder or drive whose icon you want to change, and press Command-I to show its Info window.
Click the file, folder, or drive icon at the top left corner of the Info screen, then press Command-V to replace this icon with your chosen image.
Close the Info window. The new image should appear in place of the old icon on your desktop or Finder window–even in List view.
To make your icons appear larger or smaller, go to the Finder and select View Options from the View menu. Use the slider in the pop-up window to change your icons’ display size on the desktop or in Finder windows.
You can also copy icons from the Info window of one file, folder, or drive to another. Just select the desired icon, copy it, then select the icon you want to replace and paste. Want to revert to the default Mac icon? Select your custom icon in the Info window and press the Delete key.
More Icon Tips: The most successful icons are clear, small images without too much detail, like a close-up photo of a face or a flower. You may want to crop an existing image down to a single detail in an image-editing program to create a better-looking icon–or use one of the thousands of purpose-made icons available in various online collections.
Keep in mind that using a large image as an icon increases the file size of your destination folder or file. For example, using a 3.4 MB photo as an icon for a 36 KB document increases that document’s total file size to 92 KB. Try creating a lower-resolution or smaller version of your image instead.

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_Dear Friends,_
We held our annual Apple Sale Professional recognition dinner on Wednesday night at the local barbecue joint. Apple has an on-line training program with several levels of achievement. It is a job requirement here at Small Dog Electronics that all employees, from the shippers to the consultants must reach the highest level of Apple training – Apple Product Professional. We were the first company to have 100% of our employees reach this level. There is one more level, though and that is Apple Sales Professional.
Three years ago I decided to reward those that reach this ultimate level with a dinner and personalized gift. The first year only six people managed to reach ASP and we went to dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town, the Pitcher Inn. I gave each employee a personalized fleece vest. The next year we had about 20 employees reach ASP so we planned a dinner at our neighbor restaurant, Pulcinella’s, in S. Burlington and each employee received a custom hooded sweatshirt.
This year, 31 employees made ASP and we chose to have the event at the Cider House BBQ in Waterbury, about halfway between our two locations. The gift this year was a baseball jersey with shorts for the men and pants for the women. There was a bit of controversy, though, as our marketing department seems to have a case of spring fever or has been overrun with Boston Red Sox fans since the font that was used had a suspicious resemblance to the Red Sox logo. Now, Hapy loves the Giants and I am a life-long Cubs fan, so whatsupwitdat? I may have to adjust some salaries in that department.
I was also able to honor two employees who have been with the company for over 10 years. Art Hendrickson was our first employee and has been with the company for over 12 years and Rob Amon has just reached the 10-year mark. Now in our 15th year of business, Small Dog is old enough to make this a tradition. We have another handful of employees who will soon be reaching their 10-year anniversary.
Right before the party, Geoff and I went to Burlington to receive an award for being one of the Best Places to Work in Vermont from Vermont Business Magazine and Governor Douglas. This was a true honor and it was great to hear about the other nine small/medium companies who also won this award.

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