Sunday, November 30, 2008

Best random shuffle on your MP3 Player

I don't have much interest in creating play lists on my zune. I like the idea, but never have the energy to make one; so I end up just shuffling all of my music. Every now and again this leads to hilarious combinations of music. I haven't written them down often, but I laughed out loud on this one.

Tool's Faaip de Oiad on Lateralus, followed by The Face of Order on Floater's Glyph.

Some paranoid ex-area51 employee rambling about aliens coming for us, and the lead in to Face of order is "We are not going to harm you, we are here to protect you".


Absolute lol for the day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Do you support the US automakers in theory or in fact?

I was having an discussion(argument) with a coworker about the possibility of a "bailout" for the auto industry. He said that he believes that it is important for the US to have the businesses here, so that the revenue doesn't go overseas and helps fuel our economy. He also drives a BMW, and I asked him if he supported the US automakers in theory or in fact? If he supports them in fact I told him the simple answer is to go buy a new car from them, don't haggle on the price and get your financing through their financing wings. He says I was being a jerk, but truthfully he could not name a vehicle made by a US automaker that he would give up his BMW for; I say that proves my point that they caused their own mess, and I don't support a bailout for them anymore than I supported a bailout for the financial sector.

In short, if you want to see US automakers succeed, then go buy a car from them. Don't ask the rest of us that have voted with our dollars on foreign cars pay for it.

I am glad to see mention in the press on the potential for the new bailout that several Congressional people said getting berated by their constituency for approving the other bailout. I also say that Bush has been letting it be known that they intend to use less than half the money approved by Congress.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wonder why Club Live pulled their prizes

Until recently have been playing Club Live, the prizes where good and I like word games. It looks like the slump may be affecting the "lets buy market share with prizes that are too good for the dumb games these schmucks are playing" train may be over. The current top prizes are t-shirts and hats, even the Frequent Flier miles have been removed. I wonder how long until this division gets the chop? It really makes me wish that Microsoft would have a community page for this, the desperate ones online make it hard to find actual information from the company. I am torn, because I like to play the games, but I hate to waste the effort for crappy prizes.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I love contextual advertising


I was reading this post on Geeks are Sexy blog in Google Reader, a post all about cake, and at the very bottom was a diet advertisement. I personally find that hilarious.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Today's the Day

Go vote, and hopefully we won't have to face 6 weeks of recounts. I guess it all depends on if the sitting president sees his shadow today or not.

Either way, I will be glad to have the 2 years of campaigning over with.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

daylight savings time

I think it is funny, my boss was late to work on Monday because his alarm clock automagically reset itself to daylight savings time on the old schedule. Which starts 2 a.m. the First Sunday in April and lasted until 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in October. Beginning in 2007, Daylight Saving Time was extended one month and begins at 2 a.m. on the Second Sunday in March and lasts until 2 a.m. on the First Sunday of November.

I wondered about the original idea behind Day Light Savings Time, and the best I can figure is that other than Benjamin Franklin first bringing up the idea in the 1780's, as a smart ass essay about the French sleeping until noon, and the Department of Transportation getting the authority to make changes to time regulations the history of DST is boring. Really some people that get to stay out later with an hour of additional sunlight during the summer months, but other than that we waste incredible amounts of money trying to know what day it is we have to juggle the damn clocks. Radio DJ's announce it, many companies send out an email and post notices, hundreds of blog posts and News Paper articles are written about it every year, if there is or ever was any energy savings it is very unlikely to be realized and would be more than offset by having tv's that didn't draw so much power when they are not on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Abusing Google Trends

This is a little stale, but still bothers me. Michael Arrington wrote a post about big name sites that are using their general relevance and Google Trends to snag some extra traffic by posting hastily about the trend words regardless of the relevance to the general content of the site. I have been looking for the last few days and no major sites (that I read anyway) have been showing up in the trends that they don't belong in, but I will most definitely keep an eye out for odd posts from blogs I read.

One site that has consistently been in the top of the blogs that appears to be specifically gaming the system is http://aliaffiliate.com/. I don't want to help their Google juice, but man splogs like this and http://pictures.smashits.com/ seem to be abusing this system extensively. You would think that smarties at Google would have away of trending how often your site posts a trended search as a post.

The algorithm isn't completely broken though. Greenbaglady.blogspot.com is the blog of the actual Green Bag lady, and is the number 2 result for blogs on that story.

Any where there is a buck to be made I suppose, but still just fills the internet with crap that links to other crap with no value added, no thought, and it only serves to get shady individuals more ill gotten gains. I imagine bonnet operators also engaged in splogging as a hobby between writing quick attacks for newly published vulnerabilities, and crushing baby kittens.

Questionable Content

I just devoured the entire compendium of Questionable Content in about 4 days (give or take 1262 comics as of this writing) and wow is it a great web comic.

If you are bored and need a new web comic that is updated 5 days a week, give it a go. Do yourself a favor and start from the beginning though, the latest comics hardly even make sense without at least 20 panels of pre-story. Try to stick with it, the early art wasn't nearly as good as the more recent stuff but the story was pretty strong right from the get go.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New products not for the US?

I know that the US isn't the center of the world and not everything sells well in the US, but damn it... I want one of the MIMO 7 inch usb monitors.

Now.

Seriously.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

LaLa is pretty slick

UPDATE: Apple bought 'em and will shut it down on May 31st of 2010

I've been reading about LaLa's new Music in the cloud a few places today, and I think that all they need to do now is make a iPhone/Android/Facebook/Chumby/Air /Silverlight/FireFox/....et al app and they will be ready to take the world by storm. Sarcasim aside, I do think that Lala offers a pretty compelling product, but Amazon will still be the place I buy MP3's because I am a sucker for supporting Local businesses.

Wait, when did it start making sense to let other peoples walled gardens make or break your app again? I am beginning to think that I need to get a second job coding apps. If only I didn't suck...

So I forgot to say I do own a 360...

Right so remember my trashing the Xbox360 a while ago... yeah I do own one now, but I didn't pay for it. I didn't steal it either, but I am proof that MS is giving you stuff to play that silly Club Live. I played enough to earn 35,000 tickets and they did in fact send me and Xbox. I am not so sure if I would do it again for the 55k tickets they want for the same package, but what do I know.

So verdict, I bought Xboxlive account, own a Zune, and otherwise suckle at the teat of Microsoft. Sell out or whatever, I love TF2. I suck for the most part, but still enjoy the crap out of it top score of 16 points an engi is proof of my failure.

In spite of having received my prize I still play the damn Club Live, because I actually enjoy word puzzles, and I may eventually win another interesting prize.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Another Network Company that doesn't get it

It's time to fire up Net Neutrality talk again, this time with someone that clearly wants to get to charge twice for content on their pipes. Vodafone will be moving to create the walled garden where the deep pockets get to your door fast, and everybody else gets to wait outside for the scraps. Pay to play, so to speak or Payola for the internet age.

The reason that I see this as them asking to be paid twice is ISP's enter into an agreement with me to provide me access to the internet at a set speed, and when I signed the contract there where no limitation on destination, or total volume I could transact(except the total theoretical volume my service could provide). I pay the ISP monthly to utilize this service, and for most content that seemed to be ok, so they keep selling this service until the service degrades I complain they add capacity (in theory) so I stay, but implicitly they are making money on the assumption that I will not/cannot make full use of the service I am paying for so the oversell of capacity (finite amount of bandwidth their current network can handle). The content providers also purchase internet service from other ISP's to move their content from their servers to the respective endpoints of their ISP's peering agreements. They purchase guarantees for service levels to their ISP's peering points and availability, (something most ISP's for consumers don't offer) and serve content as fast as they can. There is no free lunch going on as some people like to assert. On both ends there is someone paying for content to move from one end of the internet to the other, so I offer an alternative to the free lunch as Verizon and others have called it.

You don't like the game as it is played, then build a new internet. One that you don't get to use your state sponsored monopoly right of way for, one that doesn't get to have fiefdoms of protected coverage enforced by the Federal Government. I dare you to envision having to pay full price for the land that your equipment lands on, or not getting the benefits of increasing network capacity to lower your telecom costs and anathema of anathema's no monopoly for coverage areas. Imagine having to compete the way you have to compete in the Mobile sector. Agree to separate your Fed sponsored Monopoly Phone/Cable service and create all new infrastructure, ensure that one doesn't cross subsidize the other, and compete in a free market and then we will talk about free lunch. You might find yourself competing with Google the ISP, and the peering agreements would not be in your favor I promise you that in that future, you would beg to get back to the "free lunch" program of today.

I realize that this idea is just a thumbnail sketch of an idea, and the implication for the entire country would be vast, and allowing true competition for broadband by kicking the incumbents out is drastic, and I realize there is absolutely no equitable way to do this. Cable and Telecom companies were granted the right to build out Telephone and Cable Television networks in there charters, they naturally drifted into the Internet business because they were the best poised to take part in it (we would likely never have had the "Free business models" without it), but had it been chartered separately and never been handed to any of the incumbents of the day, and been forced to grow the way Telephone and Cable had to grow, we would not be facing bandwidth caps after a period of overselling and "Unlimited Internet" promises, we would have started with caps and be moving towards Unlimited ala the AOL dialup paradigm. The internet as we know it would likely not exist yet, but there might have been a chance for real competition and innovation rather than the BS we are being served today, of "We cannot keep up the pace we were on" or "The Network Effect and economies of scale are not in our favor anymore so we want to change the rules".

All of this to me sounds like crocodile tears from companies that are seeing the business that subsidized their failing monopolies is moving towards mature status, and they don't have anything to subsidize exorbitant profits with anymore as the internet can be everything, and encompass everything, so all new innovation will take place in that construct and will relegate the providers to being pipes, with not will of their own. This is the labor to not go quietly into that steady costs and rewards that was Telecom for 60 or so years, and where Cable Television providers were heading had the internet not fueled demand for their service.

More thoughts on Helio Part duex

So coming up on one year of being an owner of the Helio Ocean, and thought I would add some more thoughts on the Helio experience.

The phone:
The Helio Ocean was the cool toy, and still gets ohs from technophiles everywhere I go, and other than the relative thickness of the device it still looks and feels cool. The dual slider is just intrinsically interesting and I struggle to not play with it for fear of wearing it out (more on that later). The buttons all still work, and still feel as tactile as the day I bought the phone. The only concern I have for the phone is the occasional reboot on closing the device that makes me think that the mechanical contact is somehow a wear piece. Other than that I find the features I expect to work, work well all the time. I use my phone for mobile information, texting, directions (I am directionally challenged so I love Google maps with gps), and last but not least taking pictures.

The software:
This has not really been updated since I received it has held up well, though I do long for the old version of Buddy Beacon as the new one is too cumbersome to really be cool. Using opera mini has mad the web very usable on the tiny screen, and other than Facebook not working pretty much at all, I have had very little trouble doing reasonable things on the internet. I am sure if I hated myself I could even blog on the little bugger. I am still annoyed by the data appearing to come out of Norway, and as everything switches to Geolocation this may become more of a problem, but until then it seems ok for light surfing of low dynamic media sites ala slashdot.org or The Register if you like to read the news after the slashdotters have taken down the servers hosting whatever was interesting enough to be posted about in the first place.

The youtube app, is really a novelty and I cannot decide if that is a complement or not. It seems nice in theory, and I really have streamed lots of video on it I just cannot bring myself to say that I couldn't live without it. I suppose that has always been youtube's problem though so in a way the app to me is just as good as the actual site, which is to say, eh. I guess I would have to try and live with the iPhone and its lack of such a thing to see if it was a killer app, but I know that not having Pandora internet radio on the darn phone is very sad indeed. I am willing to bet that my ocean has plenty enough processing power to run that app if any of the Motorola phones can run it, and I know the network can handle it.

Google maps. I don't even know where to begin with how many times this app has prevented a fight while driving, or gotten me somewhere when I strayed (accidentally) from the directions. I went to a friends wedding in San Fransisco (Lafayette but close enough) and we had written down some directions to get to their house, well we missed a turn and ended up damn near in Oakland and we would have been very late to their home had I not had my phone and great data coverage. I have helped strangers find places that I have never heard of in my own city, much to their amusement, and really have never had a single complaint about this feature except when there is no data coverage. I have recently noticed that the directions now tell me which side of the street my destination is on, which may the best improvement to the software on the phone ever.

The music player works about as well as can be expected, I have no real complaints about how the music player functions, mostly I complain about how it limits you from doing anything else, unless you want to browse the internet using the near worthless Helio browser. I bought a pair of Motorola S9 wireless Bluetooth headphones to listen to music on, and was impressed by the features and limitations of them. In short I am underwhelmed, but they work well in my house for other things.

The Camera software has an rather odd habit of forgetting my resolution settings (I am guessing it has to do with changing the slide state of the phone) the camera works well. What does not work so well is sending pictures, as the damn engineers didn't make it so you could send pictures that are on external storage. In short that is the dumbest thing I have ever encountered, it makes having external storage virtually useless and should be fixed on all Helio phones as soon as Helio is done being digested by Virgin.

Games are not worth your time, if this is a make or break feature for you move along, nothing to see here. Theoretically any Java app will work, but given the almost 6 months it took me to get into the damn developers program I can only imagine why not one is developing for this phone. That and some other phones I am sure you have heard of are stealing all the limelight probably have something to do with it.

Finally other software of note, there is a stopwatch that I find useful, a calculator that does what it needs to, and a less then impressive unit converter. I may be the only one on planet earth that uses the unit converter constantly, but ever since my cheap Samsung x495 that had the best unit converter ever, I have not been satisfied by poor implementations of this feature.

Hardware:
I still find the hardware of the Ocean to be good, and interesting even in the post iPhone age. The dual slider is still just inherently interesting, and the snap close feels satisfying. The buttons all give good enough feedback to let you know you pressed something, and the device has taken its lumps well. The matte finish feels good in the hand and not cheap, or slippery, and the damage it takes from falls it not terribly noticeable. My only complaint is the girth of this sucker. It is kind of huge, and heavy in my coat pocket.

Coverage:
Without coverage you are SOL and hard, this phone may as well be a brick and the software is all but useless. In my home I have a very hard time making and receiving calls because on the coverage map I am in a trough. The nearest tower to me is blocked from line of site by a large hill and as such coverage sucks. To be fair, ATT has just as poor of coverage in my home, but they are less likely to drop calls. I was interested in the Sprint Airave but because they want to tie it to a Sprint line of service and I get service from a MNVO that operates on their network, this was a no go.


Final thoughts:
In all I am still mostly satisfied with the phone and the services that are offered for what we are paying, and I can hardly imagine how I got along without the data packages before. I would say that I could very likely get away with a 5gb data cap on my phone, given that you cannot tether and web pages are painfully slow loading through opera, in fact the only way you could reasonably rack up data usage is to use the youtube app, and the novelty of that fades relatively quickly. At the half way mark on our contract I can honestly say that unless Helio does some serious innovation we will be moving back onto one of the other carriers when the opportunity comes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Motorloa S9 Bluetooth Headphones

I bought a pair of Motorola S9 Bluetooth Headphones to listen to music on my Helio and am more than a little sad about the limitations of these headphones. The fit is pretty snug on my average sized head, and I am not a huge fan of the way they fit into my ears but when they are working it is pretty awesome to not have wires tangles all around me.

The good:
Once they are paired the connection is solid indoors and sound is very nice on both music and calls. The buttons on the device are responsive (once you finally get the layout of the buttons figured out) and very useful for navigating tracks on a playlist, as well as taking calls. Indoors the distance is as good as other hands free devices I own and I can set my phone in the middle of the house and walk the majority of that level of the floor with very nice connectivity. Also the battery life is pretty amazing, I can play between 6 and 10 hours on a single charge (most of a week of commutes for me).

The bad:
I am really not sure where the blame lies for this, but unless the headphones and phone are damn near touching I get dropped audio outdoors. Indoors is fine, outdoors crap. I like to keep listening to music as I walk from the bus into work, and it literally cannot happen. As soon as I step off the bus, I get several seconds of dropped audio, and it happens several times a minute while outdoors. Step inside a building and the connection will not drop again. I need to find someone else with a phone that supports the AD2P Bluetooth profile to test on their phone, but I cannot recommend the Helio Ocean as a running companion with the Motorola S9 Headphones. I have heard from others that work outdoors that have Motorola phones that they have never had any such problems, but that is very unscientific, and I have not been able to reproduce.

Other cons include the very unconformable fit of the headphones, even on an average sized head they squeeze and the style of ear buds leaves my ears sore after a several minutes of use. The final con for me is the Repairing has to be forced. My cheapo Bluetooth headset auto repairs when I am in range, and I rarely think twice about it. The S9 requires a manual repairing every time. Every single time, which can be really crappy.

In short I wouldn't recommend them to anyone, but maybe your luck will be better.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I call Vaporware

I am a confessed Media Center lover, and have bought into the whole universe that Microsoft wants to put in my living room. I have the Media Center PC, I have the Xbox360, I have the Zune, I have a HP generation 1 extender, and 2 Media Center Portables, where the hell are the cool sideshow devices I was promised?

I seriously hope that Ricavision has some other way of making money, because at more than a year and the only product close to market, (that was supposed to have shipped this summer) is still not shipping... you do have to start wondering if the pretty pictures are anything more than the Phantom Console was.

In closing the current model of

1.Announce product
2.???
3.never ship product
4.fail

needs to be transformed to

1.Announce product
2.???
3.Ship product
4.win

In closing Ricavision sucks right now because the won't give me shiny things to buy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Chumby gets its killer app

I have long had a soft spot in my heart for the Chumby, but just couldn't bring myself to part with my hard earned dollars for the little guy. Really ever since Make featured it a while ago. I loved the idea, it was an interesting toy, but I just couldn't seem to find a use for it.

Enter the recently saved from death Pandora and you have found the killer app for the iPhoneless. Pandora on Chumby = love.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I am glad the bailout failed here are some better ideas

I do realize this is a little off topic for a personal technology focused blog, but I think the scope of the matter is broad enough to warrant some discussion, or at least some opinion. The companies that have been complicity playing on cheap credit extended to those that could not afford it and thriving off of the associated rapid appreciation of land that landed excessive amounts of cash in the hands of most everyone that glad handed the whole process along are due. The bell is tolling for the greedy and they are hoping that their ability to peddle fear will be effective enough to get congress to barrow money from each and every American to pay for their folly.

I am not going to say that semi-innocent people such home construction workers, and other associated trades that have lured too much of the population away from productive jobs to support this artificially over heated real estate boom aren't going to be put through hard times. I just don't believe that there is any chance of that money having a "trickle down effect". 700 billion is a lot of money, and it will likely vanish like water on sand. It will not help those struggling to stay in their home find a solution that allows them to gain equity and pay down the principle through partial loan forgiveness (say the value that the land has lost now that everyone is waking up to how inflate real estate has gotten), or any other innovative "help the people" initiatives out there.

For people that bought several houses speculatively there should be some consequence, but not necessarily loosing their primary homes (that are likely the collateral of several other homes). Letting the bank have the speculative properties and erasing the loans, (and the speculators are out all the costs that they have spent getting into those homes) would be another program that I could get behind. The banks could find themselves in the unlikely position of trying to rent houses, but there is demand out there in many markets. I realize this is pretty far out and completely unlikely to boot, but there are ways that we could minimize the damage overall, while not requiring a bailout. This would require actual hard work and true human/honest interactions, but the sting of being out $10-20k or more has to be far less then finding yourself out of home and filing for bankruptcy due to defaulting on several loans simultaneously. This would be so completely out of the character of banks and people in general, I cannot imagine a world where this happened but leasing loan forgiveness properties to property management companies that get to keep the profit between what they rent the land for and what they pay for it would drive efficiencies (property management companies are unlikely lease land they couldn't rent for a profit etc).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ta ta Wamu

So my bank was recently vaporized. I mean just a few months ago, WaMU was the bank of my state, and now.... Poof, gone in a Wall Street land grab.

How did we get here?

To be fair I started writing this sitting in a dark house watching V for vendetta, and reading about the fed bailing out wall street I came to two conclusions 1 the worlds gone mad, and 2 Natalie Portman is hot. Even with no hair, still hot and she has had at least one good quote that I find myself applying to the economy.

[I] laugh. I’m not saying I don’t cry but in between I laugh and I realize how silly it is to take anything too seriously.


Wamu was seized and JP Morgan gained for $1.9 billion assets that were worth over $310 billion based on Government estimates. I fail to see how the private auction that ensued can be construed as anything other than cronyism, I realize that several companies had passed on a public buyout/merger/investment but most of that was likely fueled by the continuous talks of a potential bailout from the Feds. Everyone was waiting to make sure that the most toxic of the loans would not be picked up in whatever deal they made, and let Wamu wither as a result.

Writers note the rest of this piece is mental masturbation:
Not productive, but it passes the time and feels good.

I wonder if the same courtesy bailout have been made available to Enron had the bailout minions known it was coming? Given the previous hedge fund bailout in 1998 I am kind of surprised that it didn't happen. The parallels are fairly easy to draw as Enron tried to paint itself as a market provider, it happened to be energy rather than Money it was a market for so maybe in that sense FDIC and Greenspan didn't have it on their radar to save.

As the bailout winds it way through Congress I feel bad, as the ones that needed the bailout in the long run will never feel the benefit of the $700 Billion that Congress is asking us to foot the bill for. Rather than helping people afford houses that have upside down equity, and getting into the messy business of helping real people that will be loosing their houses by forgiving the value of the loan that they are upside down on allowing them to keep paying what they can and keep living in the house. People that raked in huge sales and salaries of bad mortgages will walk away with out the sting of failure on their careers. The architects (The Clinton administration and Fannie Mae) will never see direct fall out, while real people that took great pain to look for an affordable, and attractive purchase in an overheated market. To say that these architects raised the cost of owning for me in real dollar terms of nearly $50-$100k had the available loans not been extended. No doubt, I would have waited an additional 2-3 years from deciding to buy. It is hard to say 100% but here is an interesting link to historic home values in the US. Pay particular attention to the unadjusted media home price acceleration from 1990 to 2000 versus 1980 to 1990.

So now that we are on our 3rd bailout in a decade, I think it is time for some serious thinking about what went wrong. It seems the biggest veering off the path was done in the spirit of progress through deregulation (under a democrat of all people). This administration had been beating the deregulation drum for sometime now perhaps some of our leaders could take the long view and examine the realistic potential fallout of all the deregulation that we have done in publishing and a few other markets, and consider as we slip along toward the Marxist future of socialism or its uglier sibling Fascism. Given that at least one of the contenders for the American presidency and their co-runner have very serious fascist tendencies in their party...

Just say that V was right:
People shouldn't fear their governments, governments should fear their people.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Creative writing

It feels hot even now in September, with the heat laying on enough to sweat through my shirt. Soon enough it will by raining and cold, but for now the summer hangs on heavy. The market if filled with the smell of body, urine and fish. None of which are helped by the heat, the fetid bouquet only broken occasionally by the waft of fresh flowers and smells of the cafes wares. The contrast is sharp. It's $2.75 for a loaf of bread, and it is clear from the display that they only sell bread as a last vestige of being a bakery, as the sweets span the entire length of the display, and a full 4 feet tall; a true life dingy version of a child's sweets fantasy.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weird red lines in Google reader




The attached image is something weird that is happening with my Firefox when I use Google reader on XP and Vista. Every FF3 browser I use gets these lines, IE7 does not. I don't know who's issue it is, but it is starting to drive me crazy.


Edit for Piss poor grammar.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

System Admins are not stupid hacks (generally) pt.2

Continuing on from my past post, I am going to be addressing the remaining points to the Wall Street Journal offers to work around your IT department.

6. HOW TO STORE WORK FILES ONLINE
This is really an extension of #5 and #1. You are taking a file that would otherwise be simple to keep track of and spreading it all over, making every cpu it touches, and service that hosted it included into the scope of e-Discovery.

7. HOW TO KEEP YOUR PRIVACY WHEN USING WEB EMAIL
I actually am a fan of this is theory, but would rather the suggestion was to email from their own private phone that is not connected to the work network. I have a data plan on my phone and receive emails on it continuously through out the day, none of which is on the company pc's so I don't have to worry about it. Simple and elegant.

8. HOW TO ACCESS YOUR WORK EMAIL REMOTELY WHEN YOUR COMPANY WON'T SPRING FOR A BLACKBERRY.
Outlook web access, otherwise figure out how to get them to buy the blackberry, as forwarding your emails makes your email accounts and all their sorid contents subject to eDiscovery. Seriously you you don't want them to know about those Casual Encounters posts on Craigslist now do you?

9. HOW TO ACCESS YOUR PERSONAL EMAIL ON YOUR BLACKBERRY
I actually am less concerned about this one, viruses for your blackberry via email? Maybe when they aren't running a custom embedded os, until then I am less concerend about this, and like how BB deals with the personal emails showing up in their own mail box. I figure they pay for the plan, and your very unlikely to hurt anything so whatever.

10. HOW TO LOOK LIKE YOU'RE WORKING
The suggestion they have is exactly what I have to say

Get back to work.





I would like to summarily say that the real trouble here is the decision to not take up your issues with the IT department to seek a working solution that meets your needs and the companies needs is the biggest mistake you can make. Any C level manager following the advice the WSJ offered up is very likely to get his company in hot water, and the cause of many IT Departments nightmares. If you approach your IT department you may be surprised to find that they wanted to implement a solution to your problem, but have been unable to generate any interest in getting a solution (vpn for instance) implemented. You may find that it is management preventing IT initiatives from getting complete, or even started. So really strike up a conversation, you will be surprised in many cases to find lucid and friendly people that would like to help you find a work flow that works.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

TouchSmart does not Signal a move away from Windows

I find it amazing the absolute state of denial some Linux users live in. I saw this article posted on Slashdot.org and really just had to shake my head. Given that the Touch UI runs on Vista, and makes use of the .Net platform (specifically WPF) I have to assume that this person just assumed that because make can make stuff pretty, and windows doesn't seem to that the UI had to be made for Linux.

Don't believe that this leads to tighter not looser MS integration? How about you read about the evolution of the UI from one of the developers. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 .

Short form, is the fanboys need to take a hit of oxygen, as the brain cells are dying up there.

Friday, August 22, 2008

One reason not to rush to XP SP3

I was reading an article in InfoWorld about how Vista users are rushing to get the Service Pack 1(SP) but XP users where not speeding to get the SP3. They offered that the reason is the pent up frustration with Vista. I personally use Vista Business daily and have be impressed with what it has done to the battery life of the venerable old Tecra M1 I use for home internet access, I now get about 4 hours of real runtime on the balanced power profile up from 2.5 in XP. I feel that this is a good improvement on a P4@1.4ghz, and the performance is very acceptable.

I wanted to offer a different reason that some users may not be rushing out to get the SP3 update. If you remember the bomb MS lobbed at us with SP2, you probably are appreciably cautious as the changes where quite drastic. Others may fear application compatibility, even though requirements normally read SP(level) and normally mean SP(level) and above. I may be in the minority here, but I think I did find an edge case that prevents you from wanting to upgrade to XP SP3. I have been running Nimbus MySan for testing mounting the bulk of my Media Centers' storage into a dedicated storage host. MySan lets you quickly and easily setup an ISCSI Target in you home on a XP SP2 machine (server 2003 as well). In my testing we managed to corrupt a machine that was running the MySan software (unable to access the operating system even in safe mode) when we upgraded to SP3. I need to test some more to verify that this was the cause, but our trouble started at reset after running updates, a separate install that have not been updated to SP3 have not exhibited the behavior we got from the failed machine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

System Admins are not stupid hacks (generally) pt.1

For the past few months I have seen a steady stream of "How to work around your IT dept" styled articles. No I admit that some IT departments are not helpful, and are not interested in helping, but sometimes there is a reason for telling you to not do things. On the chopping Block first is a Wall Street Journal article from a while ago, "Ten things your IT Dept won't tell you". I don't want to tear apart all 10, but I feel compelled as every suggestion is inappropriate, dangerous or stupid.

1. HOW TO SEND GIANT FILES

Now the first point that I came up with is that if you have to send extremely large files externally as a part of your day to day job function and you don't have an appropriate methodology in place, there is a significant failing if the design of work flow and should start and your management should address it with IT. Barring that you are more likely doing something not work related, or inappropriate for company time. So begin with asking you supervisor why there isn't resonable accommodation (FTP, WebDav, etc) in place, if they don't give you a satisfactory answer, look further upstream. Most everytime you will find that the reason there isn't a reasonable solution in place is that no one thought to broach the subject with the IT department, or if it has been brought up, the line of business was unwilling to pay to play. IT rarely covers out of its own budget all of the hardware in a company (how could they?) so business lines are responsible to purchase hardware to support their IT initiatives. They don't like that they cannot get IT to cover the cost, so they encourage their employees to be creative. This is really both irresponsible and stupid. The largest files that I have had to work with are always Multimedia (picture and video), and utilizing a third party to transmit those files (in the case of licensed Images and video) transfers liability for any misuse of those files by that third party to your company (as you implicitly authorized them to act as an agent for you). As you are unlikely to have the authority to authorize such relationships, violations like this are grounds for termination should it ever result in a misuse. Even worse you may find yourself personally liable for the misuse, especially if you are found to be violating your companies IT policy for information handling. Accountants sometimes are tasked with sending rather large reports. Since this is normally internally there should be some way of accommodating this with out resorting sending it as an attachment (ever heard of Read-only?) that is best evaluated by working with your IT department.

2. HOW TO USE SOFTWARE THAT YOUR COMPANY WON'T LET YOU DOWNLOAD

This one is pretty obvious and really shouldn't have to be addressed, but again this is mostly all about liability. XYZ application has unknown interactions with company systems and leads to future potential for trouble. iTunes and Instant Messanger applications are the most common place that people butt up against this restriction and up until recently I was fairly tolerant of these uses, but given how The Shadow botnet spread quietly through IM systems I am very cautious about this. Couple that with the iTunes updater force installing the Safari Web browser onto users and opening them up to the infamous "not a bug" carpet bombing vulnerability(recently patched) and the two most popular ways to waste time at work are dangerous to the network. On a final note the WSJ article specifically mentioned file sharing applications. I am at a loss for this one, folding at home on company equipment is bad enough, but participating is what is more than likely illegal file sharing is really asking for formal discipline or a pink slip. I may have to come back to this separately as there are really so many things wrong with suggesting that people install whatever applications they want on a work machine. I think the problem may stem from the number of people that have PC's in their home that are given administrator access come to expect that they can do whatever they want on any PC.

3. HOW TO VISIT THE WEB SITES YOUR COMPANY BLOCKS
I won't waste too much on this one, but really do you come to work for your own needs or to work. Leave the casual browsing to the professionals on your IT staff and get some damn work done in a given day.

4. HOW TO CLEAR YOUR TRACKS ON YOUR WORK LAPTOP
I can only assume that this was aimed at the traveling professional, but I am still a little frustrated with the mentality, the work laptop is for the working. If you like looking at the nice naked then maybe you should take along your own laptop to look at them on. Behind male enhancement, the quest for free pornography leads to more spyware/adaware and general maliciousness than almost all other browsing combined. You want to explain the next day at a meeting/presentation why your laptop is owned because you had to look at some neekedness (sadly yes this has, and will continue to happen). Clear your tracks by not going there. An Eee PC is about $400 runs XP or Linux, and is small enough to not be too large to travel with.

5. HOW TO SEARCH FOR YOUR WORK DOCUMENTS FROM HOME
No, just No. Indexing documents from work onto other servers (even working on them from home on your own pc) exposes your computers to the possibility to being seized in the eDiscovery process of litigation (lying in the face of litigation can extend the discovery process and possibly get you fired) which is becoming very prominent in the minds of IT departments due to recent rulings(pdf)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Digg is funny Reditt is easy




I don't go to digg very often I preffer to just digg via badges, but I submitted an article from GAS and had to go to the site. I am amused by some of the smart ass comments they have as part of the process. I hope that Digg can keep that same quirkiness when if they ever sell the company.

Related but not note, I signed up for a Reddit account and was very surprised about them not requiring a verification. I wonder how they prevent gaming of the system? I don't know if it is just because they don't have the traction that Digg does, but seems like a system ripe for exploitation. My $.02... also, how come there isn't an html code for the cent symbol? Seems like it would be a useful one for bloggers.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Theme for the next little while

The main things which seem to me important on their own account, and not merely as means to other things, are knowledge, art, instinctive happiness, and relations of friendship or affection.
Bertrand Russell
British author, mathematician, & philosopher (1872 - 1970)




Today's viewing

Saul Williams Black Stacie

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mudkip for the hot

If the photo below doesn't make sense to you just move along, there is nothing here for you to see.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Proam call girls

I have had this in my writing queue for about 3 months, and still am not sure what it is that I am trying to say, but here goes.

In the wake of the Eliot Spitzer Circus I was curiously turned on to a few blogs run by Professional Amateur Call Girls, or girls that primarily support themselves through the profession but don't work for someone else. Since I am not sure what else to call them ProAm is the best I could come up with.

I have been reading their blogs (no links, the eye of the world has already looked very hard in their direction and unsettled several of their lives) and have only this to say: I doubt that very many people in this world could be as honest about their lives, even in an anonymous setting, as they are on these blogs. I realize the sexual nature of the business is very personal, so maybe that is what brings it out... but I doubt I could be so honest.

Media Center Extender DVD Playback

So my household is a Media Center centric one, and I have long been annoyed by the lack of DVD playback for the Media Center Extenders. I think Microsoft may have crippled the extenders for no real reason, that I can tell. They seen to think that streaming of DVD's constitutes a breach of the rights that studios grant you. I fail to see how I am not allowed to share in my own home the contents of a rightfully purchased or rented video with myself. The logic is fuzzy to say the least, but that is the line Microsoft decided to walk. They sidestepped the issue in the current generation of extenders somewhat (some of the extenders have built-in DVD playback capabilities). For me this is somewhat academic as the old generation of Media Center Extenders are not supported by vista, but since I bought it I feel that it should be of some use to me.

I'm sure this is an old hat for the true followers of The GreenButton, but I thought I would share for the rest of class. The link outlines the process for creating a Hardlink between a fake mpg file and a ripped .vob file.
Linking VOBs for extender playback presented on of all places an MSDN blog, is helpful with fairly easy to understand instructions.

As a side note having been burned by the lack of support for the last generation of MCE accessories by the new version of Media Center I do not plan on buying any additional accessories. I have a rarely used HP extender and 2 Media Center Portables (one Creative and one Samsung that technically still work w/ Vista). I suppose I would just like a nod from the device manufactures "hey you bought our stuff, thanks".

--------------------Update on this Post---------------------------
There is a way to make this work, that isn't so manual.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Posting once a month is fun

So, a post just to get the ball rolling again. This summer I got the itch to replace my guest bathroom. I find these things are best summarized with photos. First Photo is waiting for the tiles to set, second is after the toilet was back in.





In short I had linoleum and wanted tile. Now I have tile and new paint.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Google Adsense ssl cert needs to get fixed.. seriously

So I being one to look on the loving Google with a forgiving eye have come to end of my toleration for the Adsense site ssl cert throwing errors. Google is frigging huge, I assume that engineers at Google use Firefox, I also assume that someone would have seen the following error and fixed it. Like a year ago when it started happening.

Firefox 3 makes it kind of hard to ignore anymore:



So if a Security Engineer, or Web Master (if they even have titles like that) could get on this, and get some extended validation or whatever it takes to get ssl on subdomains that would be great. I don't feel like adding exceptions to good rules because someone can't figure out how to buy the right cert (not the the vendors make it easy).

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Playing with django

Inspired by tales of scalable and robust websites using django and after hearing that Google's app engine would support python and django I decided that I needed to give this language a try.

I am in between homesite engines right now having abandoned both drupal and my mostly useless ruby on rails blog engine typo1, and I run a homeowners website that is going to be migrating to my hosting package in the near future, so I was looking for something robust, fast, and easy to modify. Allegedly python+django fits the bill, so I have been working to deploy django on my site5 hosting account only to find that damn fcgi isn't as easy as the ubuntu jeos vmware appliance running mod_python. I think that apache virtual hosts are way easier than trying to figure out if touch fcgi is going to work or not.

I set up the vmware player on one machine and after numerous hours of following this guide, (my piss poor spellings fault not the guides) I got mod_python, MySQL, django and nano up and running. Yeah nano, for the simple reason that vim is awful. After getting this appliance up and running I decided to take it home with me, but on fist boot I found that I only had loopback adapter, eth0 was nowhere to be found. I thought that it might be a byproduct of running the vm on a vista machine, but after several reboots of the appliance and a few Google searches I was able to determine that it was actually linux's fault. Apparently it keeps track of the hardware that you have plugged in previously and doesn't take kindly to being moved around. I followed some suggestions from the vmware forum, and was up and running in no time.


1It appears that after several months of hiding from the rest of the planet, this little blog engine decided to get with the damn program and update. I may go back, I did like the 2.x version I was on, it just wasn't very full featured by the standards of wordpress and the like.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Data Caps suck

So I was reading about another carrier announcing surprisingly low data caps and thought I would offer a little personal experience with my parents household that relies exclusively on a data card from AT&T. Some time recently they did roll out HSDPA to the area so the data actually moves pretty quickly for casual browsing, and on most days performs at 768k DSL speed. By no means is this screaming, but it gets them through their day to day bill paying and shopping and online picture printing with costco. In fact it works so well that from time to time I forget the amount of work it took me to get them set up with wired connections to the office locations and wireless in the rest of the house. This all piggy backs off of a server 03 machine with pci to pcmcia adapter that houses a sierra wireless card. Now for any current data customers you might be saying that att doesn't support server 03 with the sierra drivers. Yeah I copied the keys from an xp machine, moved the files manually, and registered the device using the correct drivers all by hand because I am a masochist. the Server 03 machine runs as dhcp server and internet gateway for the household. The card and AT&T's data package works for them, it is in fact about their only option. Thankfully they have not run into the data cap issue, but I fear the day they do. This literally is the only way they can get relatively high speed internet in this house.

My parents home some how lives in a magical vacuum of high speed options, adjacent communities are served by Comcast, seems silly they are not.

Monday, May 19, 2008

No, just no. This has got to stop.

I am not sure how I got to this point but for some reason I watched http://www.kidrobotlovesyogabbagabba.com/


It is stupid, just click on the link and watch it. I have time, go ahead.

The show makes my brain hurt. I watch some stupid shit on tv, but goddamn that show might be the 4th horseman of the coming apocalypse. I also apologize to everyone that clicked that link and lost 3-4 IQ points for having watched it. I am sorry.

Here is some less pointless video for your trouble, besides this one will make you laugh. If you enjoy it and wonder what the source material is, please for the love of god don't go looking for it. It does exists on youtube, it came from Canada, and there is a techo breakdown in the middle of each verse. Do not for any reason look for it.

Shippers just don't get it.

All right so it is bitching time again. I work for a living and write a blog for fun, so guess what location I am not at during the day basically ever? You know the one place on the planet that UPS, Fedex and DHL are willing to transact packages? That's right my house. I am not home during the Mon-Friday delivery window. Ever. So UPS et all in there infinite wisdom decide to deliver packages to that location during the day. Technically I can have it delivered to work but the receiving dept gets a little touchy if you push it too often. Also, for somethings I cannot have them shipped to my work as they are prizes or the shipping has to match the address on a credit card.

I realize that this is what they always have done, but when I have them hold the package at the shipping station that is closest to my house (in that god forsaken strip of earth know as Redmond) it is actually not even remotely kind of convenient for me to get there. Believe it or not the Down Town center is closer and far, far more convenient. I would save them a lot of gas and me a lot of headache if they would let me redirect all packages to the Down Town UPS facility for pickup.

I want all shipped mail to have to have a destination telephone # and then they can call me for my desired outcome. Never put it on the truck, nothing I order or receive can be dropped at the door. Everything has to have a sig, which is sort of the point of us using your service. I don't want a freaking xbox sitting on my doorstep from 3pm to 6pm or later when I get home normally.


I don't have a specific suggestion as to the best way to remedy this situation, but I cannot be the only one in the world that finds this annoying. I think my suggestion would be something akin to have the shipper hold the package select an intercept location for delivery, the ability to select the facility that is most convenient would improve my outlook on these companies a great deal. I don't think that they should ever try to deliver to most homes, it doesn't make sense. I know very few people (of my generation that is) that have a stay at home wife to get the frigging packages.

The business model is outmodded, but your damn business has scaled so massively that I cannot imagine a new comer knocking you out. I am asking you to publish your numbers. What percentage of packages are delivered the first try? What percentage are not delivered in the retry attempts, and have to be picked up after you tried 2 or 3 times? If this percentage exceeds 15% I imagine that the money saved on gas alone would be worth the effort to try and develop a method to let customers tell you that they are never going to be at their home so don't bother trying to deliver. Let them tell you the closest store/facility and let them pick it up. I promise that your customers are not as dumb as you think, and though there are some who are there are many that would make this a money saving venture. I will tell you what, first company that steps up and does something anything to make my life easier, I will make sure to insist on your service. I will insist on your service even if I have to pay more for it.

People will Pay for convenience!!!!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

God Damn Beta's

I am sick and tired of everything on earth being a GD Beta. I have used MS Onenote in the past and like the product, but don't feel like dropping $100 for everyone of my machines (there are a lot of the damn things I use), so I went looking for alternatives.

The field is :

MS Onenote
Google Notebook
Zoho Notebook
Evernote

I use Google Notebook and have no specific complaints, but it has become more of a link dump for me and I don't like the FireFox plugin, couple that with it isn't quite as cool as the snip tool I have gotten used to on a Tablet PC and Google Notebook is free and functional, but kind of meh. One note takes the snipped content (which can really be anything) and you past it in to Onenote to annotate. The functionality is really nice for the handwritten notes that you just never realized where way more natural and usable than typed notes. I am constantly creating typed notes, I have hundreds of typed notes in various applications all over the place. Outlook notes and notepad notes are the ones that I was using the most prior to Google Notebook.

I took all of my class notes from a recent developers class in Google's Notebook and was happy with the links and organization of the pages and individual blurbs. The notes were easy to layout and fill with content, the code even pasted in well. The only sad part was finding the limit of data in one individual note was shorter than I wanted it to be. I pasted like 10 pages of text and Google Notebook choked; I pushed the limits and the app crapped out. It is nice to know the limitations of a piece of software so I am glad that it wasn't at a critical juncture that it failed, but I was still disappointed. Really my complaint for Google's Notebook is that it is fundamentally a web app, and lives only where the bandwidth is plentiful. I hope Google implements Gears for Notebook in the future to give it the offline functionality I think it really needs.


Zoho was fine, I didn't like the way that you had notes and snippets in the note pages with scroll bars, but that is more personal preference than anything else. I pasted a section of text and didn't like the way it was layed out so I left.


Evernote looks like the mix of online sync and off line functionality that I am looking for and really the reason I am writing this whole post is to bitch about them letting you download the software but not run it without a beta invite. Put the code behind the wall if you aren't letting the software work at all without a beta invite. How fucking unbelievably shitty is it to download some software and install it, and then not be able to run it? Pretty shitty, thats how shitty. I am pissed off about it in fact, I would be fine if I hit invite and didn't get a code for how ever long, but to have the download outside the wall and install it only to find out I will be waiting for an invite is a real bad choice. So until further notice Evernote is on my shit list.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pmog

I realize I am kind of a whiner, but I am hoping PMOG could find a way to give me credit for my activity in Google reader. You see you have to go to sites to earn credit for having gone there. I don't go to Techcrunch's actual site often, but I do read their RSS feed religiously. How am I supposed to get that badge if PMOG doesn't give me credit? The stupid answer is to open the blog from the link in my Google reader. Basically generate fake traffic to Techcrunch for the sake of PMOG.

Any way whatever right, but an minor annoyance. I also wonder if there will ever be a plugin for other RSS readers?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Microsoft Groove does stuff...

I was trying to explain to someone what MS Infopath is for, and why anyone would want it; I couldn't. The best I could give them is it makes it nice if you have MS Sharepoint, (apparently you have to have the Enterprise edition to do forms though).

Their response was "What is Sharepoint?"

Sharepoint is a collaboration server, like public folders but better. Not a lot better, but a little better. It has some back end stuff so Admins can police usage, and customize for the site, and it has roll back features, version tracking and such. There is personal homepages, and team sites, communication and collaboration, but you have to have Communication Server for some features of that work really well. Sharepoint also has some cool Business intelligence stuff you can do, using Biztalk server as the middleware.

"Biztalk?"

Nevermind...

My point is it seems like Microsoft is in the business of selling products with features can only be unlocked with the next upgrade. The carrot is the new features the stick is that you are already in bed with them and if you rely on the .net framework much you really are in bed with them.

----------------------Updated Post----------------------------
I actually get to the point about what it is that Groove does.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Crack reporting there Engadget

Crack reporting there Engadget

I think Flipstart made it clear that they where exiting the business as far back as January when you reported the price drop. Dynamism or Flipstart confirmed this to me when I called them about it forever ago, never hurts to call people to follow upon hunches; you know like journalists.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Apparently Nipple Ring wearers are terrorists

Dated though this may be, it really chaps my hide the general intolerance that is starting to become the norm in this country. According to SFGate The TSA now says that wearers of body jewelry (that passed the general metal detector) must submit themselves to visual inspection by a TSA agent for them to fly.

Maybe there will be an FBI titty visual inspection certificate, sort of like the frequent fly program. Flash the G-man your pierced bits (they promise not to keep pictures) and your free to go

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Priasoft Exchange Migration Software

Last week I completed my Exchange 5.5 to 2003 migration, and I am so glad that it is over. I used a software package from Priasoft that did the heavy lifting and fixed most if not all of the issues that I would have otherwise had to solve manually. The software moved my mail boxes so quickly that I didn't need to have a co-existence period with two Exchange Organizations, and we only had an 8 hour outage to complete the mailbox migration portion. They promised a public folder utility that never seemed to materialize, so I manually moved my public folders over (very lame). Manually moving the public folders appears to strip out some of the ownership, so only folder owners can edit items. Creating new items follows the permissions that are given in the default, but editing old items can only be done by folder owners so far as I can tell. Going forward that will be fairly minimal pain, but having a tool to fix permissions would have made the migration suite perfect.

The sales process was pretty smooth, and the engineer did a way better job selling the product than the salesman could have ever done. I ended up paying $30 per mailbox, but post sale the engineer mentioned someone being extended a quote for $15 per mailbox so you negotiating skill may be very useful here. The software is licensed per mailbox, which can be very painful if you have several thousand mailboxes, but not nearly as painful as doing it manually. Trust me, this tool is way better than Active Directory Connector and Exmerge. I nuked 30 mailboxes that didn't have didn't have accounts in the new AD Domain by accident. The ADC is a very blunt tool not for the faint of heart, and Exmerge is not fast, not direct and painfully manual.

On the whole I would recommend this tool to anyone stuck on Exchange 5.5 looking to go to a supported Exchange platform. When we get ready to move from 2003 to 2007, or even whatever comes after 2007, I will most likely look to Priasoft again to help make the process nearly pain free.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ugh, I really don't like you iLuv

With a name that inspires confidence in the brand, and speaks volumes about your corporate integrity how can you go wrong? iLuv is not that kind of a name, nor is it that kind of a brand.

I have been looking for a portable media player for my wife for a while now. I tried the Media Center Portables and pondered small portable dvd players, but I wanted to have both the ability to play synced content (purchased digital videos or video podcasts etc) as well as DVD's. The Media Center Portables were pretty cool in theory, but required so much horse power out of your Media Center PC as to render them sort of not very useful, coupled with you couldn't play DVD's on them made the ultimately dust collectors in my household. Even if you ripped your DVD's to WMV with settings specific to the MCP's screen the Media Center PC would reprocess them before loading them on the MCP. The portable DVD players where pretty nice, but you where limited to the number of dvd's you loaded into a case and/or felt like renting from the airport kiosks.

I hem and haw about Mac and their products being overpriced, but my wife wanted an iPod. Knowing that the Gen 5 had screens, I thought getting one with an accessory that played video from the iPod onto a bigger screen. 7-10 inches was the range she said was portable enough to take with her and large enough to not be a pain to watch. I saw several iPod video accessories and caved when the Gen 6 iPods ( iPod Classic worse than the old gen 5's ) came out and bought her one. I conspired with family and friends to get her car yoked up with the Universal Aux Input Retrofit that Toyota recently released for almost all of their cars. After looking around for quite a while I found a player that did both the iPod video out, and the DVD playing with an 8.4 inch screen. Right in the sweet spot, the iLuv i1155blk. Purchased this item in October of '07 and she has, for lack of better description, used the hell out of it. She scrapbooks with it, as her Scraping Corner doesn't have a TV. Sure she could have, and does use a laptop from time to time but the iLuv was a great size and didn't interfere with her "paste eating". This was all well and good until just recently it stopped reading disks. Not just some disks, basically every disk I put in gets the Disk Err message on screen after about 2 minutes of the iLuv whirring. Every now and again the thing will read a disk and start playing, but it will not finish a DVD and eventually will give the Disk Err.

This behavior lead me to look into support. I purchased the machine at Sharper Image mostly because I had hopped it wouldn't need to be shipped. Well la dee da Sharper Image didn't stock that item in the stores it only had demo units, since it was rather close to my wife's B-Day at the time and I wasn't sure how long it would take from Amazon or the like to get to me I bought it. Sharper image only warranties this item for 90 days after that you have to deal with the Manufacturer, which while annoying is standard practice. I went to the iLuv's site to get the customer service number ((866) 807-5946) and quickly found that it was pointless to try calling at least after noon PST, I will remember to try again after 3pm PST which I think is 8am Beijing time. If they are in the Asia market, sometime after 4 or 5 pm PST should put me in to their work day. Following the advice of their phone support I filed a "express support" ticket online with details of how my DVD player (with the specific iLuv part number referenced) was not reading disks. Below is the verbatim response I received (minus my name).

Dear xxxx xxxxxx,

This is in reference with your Request Ticket Number: IL00003017.

Dear Customer,

Please select your radio station.

Press and hold PROG/PRESET until PROG flashes on the display.

Use the search wheel to select the preset #

Press PROG/PRESET


**** PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL ****

If you have any questions or comments please contact Express Customer Support at http://www.iluvstyle.com/cs.

Sincerely,
Customer Support
jWIN Electronics Corp.
2 Harbor Park Drive
Port Washington, NY 11050
http://www.jwin.com
http://www.i-luv.com



Please reply back to this email without changing the subject line if you have further clarifications.

Sincerely,
iLuv Support Team
http://www.iluvstyle.com/cs


I responded without the least bit of sarcasm:

Hi,

I am hopping someone with a Radio got instructions for dealing with a DVD player, because I wrote about a DVD player not reading disks, not anything to do with programing radio stations.

Hope this helps us get back on track for my issue.


Details as they emerge, but customer support sucks in general.

MS vs Yahoo et all

I am really amused every time I read another wrinkle in the Microsoft trying to buy Yahoo Saga. I am starting to think of Balmer as Biff from Back to the Future, and Yahoo as Marty's mother; the more Yahoo says "No" the harder Balmer presses to get in her panties. Fan-Freaking-Tastic, if/when this deal goes down it will be the bitterest pill Microsoft has ever swallowed. The best part is I don't believe Blamer's ego will let him step away from this; he committed the company he thinks of as his toy and regardless of the shareholder value his ham fisted approach is destroying I'm not sure he sees his own bumbling.

Deep inside I am hopping this is some skillful jockeying to get at a goal that doesn't make sense to me yet. I doubt Steve has the fineness to pull a "every buddy look right while I juke left" strategy off, but I can only hope that Gates would have stepped in by now if he wasn't. Until then I think the best analysis I have read of the whole mess so far was Engadget's Thomas Ricker

Make no mistake about it, this is corporate war and will likely end with Yahoo's best engineers working for Google.
source

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

iPod Classic not as good as the original

I purchased an iPod Classic for my wife hopping to use it with some of the cool video accessories in the market, only to find out that Jobso decided to screw his customers by requiring new decoder chips to play video off of them. Decoder chips that can only be bought from Apple as far as I know, thereby ensuring that if you make an iPod accessory you had to register and pay tithe for the privilege of building iPod accessories. So that lovely iLuv 1155 I bought won't work with her new GD iPod. Lucky for me, I had a buddy that didn't use the video part of the iPod looking to get rid of a gen 5 30gb iPod on the cheap. I went from a 1 iPod household to a 2 iPod household because Jobs is a prick.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Working for cheap

So I haven't been up to much projectwise lately as I have been spending a lot of time doing the good son/grandson/son-in-law etc. lately. This weekend will be pretty much shot on installing cabinets for my father, rebuilding a pc for my aunt-in-law, and another pc for the Grandparents. I blame my mother-in law for the most of the work, as she got a new pc and wanted to gift her old one to her sister. My mom heard about that and asked me to cook up a computer for the grandparents. Apparently they got off the dial-up internet and the PII 350mhz is not cutting it for the internet age anymore. The good news is that they are the same motherboard so all I need to get one setup, patched up and ready so I can image it and go.

Oh well, between that and the xbox360 there is little project work being done. I have one project cooking to re-arrange my network project box and a shopping list for a new media center setup. With a HDTV, my wife is asking for HD content.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Exchange Migrations suck

I realize that the Exchange 5.5 Platform has been end of life for a while, but I cannot believe the lack of information, or how high the degree of difficulty is to migrate from the unsupported to supported. What really surprises me is that Microsoft is so disinterested in taking my money to help me move off of their old software onto their new software.

I paid a "Migration Specialist" to come in and consult and he had even less success than I did in playing with migration (he deleted all of my executive staffs email boxes by mistake). I am getting close to completed which is good, and I will be using the tool from Priasoft to migrate our mail boxes. The software that I demoed was fantastic, and it looks to be a great time saver. I will report back after the 20th on the success or failure of this little project.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Permanently decline Safari forced download

UPDATED

So for those keeping track recently Apple decided that the update utility was the ideal way to leverage itself some market share in the browser wars and tried to jam it down the throats of windows users. Apple stated to decline the update all you have to do is uncheck it, however unchecked updates continue to show up waiting for you to accidentally forget to decline that update and stealth its way on to your computer.

I for one don't want the piece of software that was the reason that the Mac was "the easiest [platform to hack] of the three" running on my machine for any reason. Here is all that it takes to permanently decline this update.



It appears I was wrong, this will not keep Safari out completely. Other Safari updates will nag in the future. The reasonable option for non-quicktime users is to delete the task in Scheduled Tasks. iTunes has the good sense to check for updates every time you run it so your covered there, Quicktime is another matter. I suggest trying the Quicktime Alternative or another media player (VLC maybe?) until Apple cleans up their act.



At the corporate level you can block the safari.msi; at the proxy block access to apple.com/*.msi, or for us running (Sophos Antivirus), we will block the exe and/or path to executable and flag it malware.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Wines for Summer

If you are bored, and I am sure that I will be, here are some of the wines that I will be trying this summer. These go out to the girls Julie, Jenny, Vid. You know.

Miguel Torres Chile Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé
Vega Sindoa Rosé Navarra
Muga Roja
Château Morgues du Gres Fluer D’Eglantine Costieres de Nimes
Domine Tempier Rose
Comman Derie de Peyrassol
Domain de la Mordorée Côtes-Du-Rhône

Data Retention

It turns out because of certain portions of the organization I work for we are required to retain some records (payroll and accounting) for nearly 200 years which can cause real headaches when it is ignored for too long. In discussions with the Accounting manager I found out that some records (nearly 10 years of them are currently only available on one single desktop machine running windows 3.1.

Someone made the decision sometime ago that it wasn’t a priority to migrate this to a platform that was sustainable, and as such it is on a machine that no one is sure will power on. If something isn’t assigned a priority, then it is guaranteed to fall of the horizon of IT folks. My predecessor never mentioned the situation to me, I assume because he had dismissed it as unimportant. Thankfully I was assured that the data was safely backed up on a disk somewhere, but it doesn’t stop that I need to come up with some way to preserve that data in an accessible format for 200 years. So far I am thinking hello virtual machine.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Moving back to Windows from Mac

Infoworld has and article about why one Mac evangelist moved back to Windows for work. I am glad that one engineer sees the light. IT shouldn't have to work twice as hard for a tiny faction of rebels. This has been my experience everywhere I go that I am forced to support Mac hardware; Mac users refuse to acknowledge the work they require IT to sustain just for them to run their pet OS. At the end of the day my hourly rate may be a sunk cost, but it isn't free and until it is Mac costs most businesses more money than it saves.

Ocean 2, damn you Helio

I am a fan of new phones as much as the next guy, but I am less than thrilled that Helio appears to readying a new Helio Ocean. Seriously guys, I have a contract until 2009, and I am not sure if your company is going to last that long. Besides hemorrhaging cash, I have been trying to get into the developers program for over 2 months now. I have signed an NDA and still cannot get any thing vaguely resembling a response from the damn company. If you don't want anyone to like or have an interest in you this is a great way to make that happen. To be fair a good deal of the lag was on my end. Maybe half of it, but still the length of time required to get you some paperwork, (signed paperwork no less) should not be the major hindrance to getting some fing software developed.

Lets review, in downtown Seattle I get some God Damn fast internet. Seriously fast for a phone, so fast it is a little sick. My battery life is fing solid, I can stream 2 hrs of youtube and still go all day on my battery so el Jobso's inability to launch iPhone with 3g is more his own retarded infatuation with electronics too tiny for natural use (ala MBA, and the Nano, and someday the Pico). I bet at the cost of a Millimeter, and a li-poly battery the 3g iPhone would probably be the phone I own right now.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

More Thonghts on Helio

Having had the Helio Ocean for 3 months now I thought I would add some additional thoughts.

The all you can eat data is still gravy, and as long as I stay in the populated sections of the world the data is cash, stray off the beaten path say into a house and your cell calls might as well be placed in a tin can full of shit, and data rate plummets. On the bus along the freeway corridor YouTube moves data so fast, I almost never have to buffer in the middle of a video. That is great, and I really like being able to watch video at full speed; even if the quality is a little iffy.

I do have a gripe though. For some reason that I am sure makes sense to like three people in the world the data traffic is routed through Norway. Yeah, Norway. So when I load Myspace through a web browser I get the Norwegian language site. Yes there is a client for myspace on the Ocean, but because there are some things in messaging that cannot be done with the Myspace client like forward some things require you to use a web browser. I am not sure how is to blame for this though as there is a setting in my profile that says I want USA English and I even tried to change the display language in Myspace manually but in Opera Mini the site continued to load in Norwegian. I had a remedy, but it made life suck big time. I run a proxy on my website for such occasions as this and when my wife needs to check NCAA bracket stuff from work and those sites are blocked. The net effect of loading slow web pages like myspace through a mini browser on a mobile phone routed through Norway on a proxy that is hosted in England, and then get all the way back to me here is the bonny US of A is 20-90 second page loads.

So Helio do your customers a favor and stop routing through Norway. That is really fing stupid.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wireless infrastructure isn't easy

I am not sure if this has any real relevance to the issues that Earthlink ran into trying to put up a city wide wireless network, but below is an account of my small scale implementation of blanket wifi that infrastructure building is not easy.

Last year the decision was made to put in a whole facility wireless network. Seeing as this was the most technology forward project this organization has undertaken probably ever, I was very excited about the prospects of getting to work on my first 100k+ project. Let me warn you now, 300,000 SqFt is way more that it seems to be when you are pulling the cable and installing access points. We determined to install approximately 33 Access Points(AP's) to cover 6 floors and thousands of Square feet of real estate. From the first ceiling tile I popped this project turned more and more suck. I found that no cable infrastructure existed, there where no raceways, cable trays or even J-hooks. In short I found a 20 year old building that had undergone 2 expansions, and had professional in house Telecom service providers that had failed to invest in future infrastructure. The original building had 1/4 inch conduit into each room, but no accommodation for the public spaces, everything run after the initial constructions (basically everything run)was laying on the ceiling tiles. My initial projection of 8-16k for running cable quickly looked started to feel like a sick joke. In the end I finished pulling the cable with the help of 2 different contractors for about 28k, not all the work was perfect but every cable that was pulled would meet code.

During the planning stage of the project we decided to go with the wireless offerings of Cisco Systems for the scalability and security that they offered us. With clients like a software maker from the Northwest you may have heard of and our facility being in a very public space it would appear a gaff to allow unfettered access to our private information to attendees.

The Cisco requires several components the AP's are Power over Ethernet, so either you buy PoE switches or you buy PoE injectors. The injectors make sense in limited applications but for wide distribution, especially if you have to buy switches to build out infrastructure the cost difference for a PoE switch vs the Clutter of dozens of Injectors is a simple decision to make for almost any Network Tech. The other requirements are a Wireless controller (1 controls up to 50 AP's) and a server based controller that gives very high level control of groups and individual AP's. The bulk of the cost was spent on switching infrastructure, so if you already have PoE switches in place the cost would have been significantly reduced.

The end of the ordeal, and the pay off for me is that I have the ability to walk the majority of the facility (front and back of house) and be in wireless coverage, and I have enough additional ap's to fill in holes as they come up. It took 31 Ap's and almost 20 switches to cover my facility, so scale that to an entire city and I can just imagine the work to get service to hundreds or thousands of Ap's. I only had to get 2 other parties to cooperate in a facility that I ultimately had right of way in, I fear the level of push back you would receive from the hundreds of Hot-spot operators that charge for the service, and municipal wifi supported by city government would amount to Government taking so the push back from concerned business owners I imagine would be high.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thoughts on Helio

So my wife and I have mad the jump to Helio and both are loving the experience. I choose the Ocean for the full features and she chose the Fin because it is the only flip phone (and its blue). The features are absolutely awesome, data speeds are impressive and the capabilities make my iPhone owning friends a little jealous. We use them so much that many days we find the bottom of the battery, (neither of us has run the battery our, but both of us have gotten the low battery warning). In the first few days I owned the Ocean I streamed 80mb of YouTube video. The lagginess was not much worse than I experience on old P4's streaming YouTube, the picture fuzzes sometimes, but the audio rarely skipped.

Most of what I have to say I am sure is covered elsewhere and probably better written, but I just had to gush I love this phone.

I am looking to get started in the developers program, but they are kind of secretive about it, NDA and disclosure of the type of programs you are interested in developing. I was really surprised how closed off they are, but then I realized that Google, (the best damn internet/technology company ever) spoils me constantly with their openness credo.

Anyhow the whole point of this post was to point out the site Heliocity.net has several guides that made me significantly less annoyed with the Ocean and Fin that we own. One of the guides gave pretty good instructions on how to create ringtones from mp3's using free software, and get them on your phone. Part of the guide was windows xp I tried on vista business and no go). Do the mp3 to MMF conversion, you get so much longer ringtones and they actually work.

Another really nice site I found is https://www.peetre001.com/ (remember to type the s in https). Go with your Helio busted ass web browser if for nothing other than to download Opera 4 mini, it is such an improvement over Helio's browser. Not perfect, but better.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bleeding Dollars - HD DVD

Normally I would leave this type of analysis to Tech Crunch, but I am sad for the quickness of the turn around on HD-DVD. EHomeUpgrade has a post on HD-DVD slashing the cost of their players. Now I have no real vested interest in either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, but I was pulling for HD-DVD solely because of my Sony Hatetm. As a former Clie, Viao, and PowerShot owner, I love the style and function of many Sony products. They have been the Windows style Ying to Apples style Yang but, their proprietary formats and standards have largely driven me away from them. Mini-Disk, Memory Stick, UMD, Atrac3 I am sure there is more but I will leave it at that have soured my warm fuzzy feelings for Sony. Consumers marginally tolerate Microsoft for this type of B.S., however I think that Mac is proving that F with consumers for too long and you will find the people departing your product sphere at every opportunity.

What does any of this have to do with the Blu-Ray standard? Well HD-DVD was a pretty consumer friendly standard, it was an evolution of technology already in the trenches, and didn't mess with the customer much. First off the HD-DVD spec doesn't have Region Coding, which is a win for lovers of international content (or International viewers with a love for American content). The arbitrary splitting the world up into regions rather pisses me off as the internet has made pretty much anywhere my back yard. I read blogs from England, and Denmark, and some blogs with many posters around the world. Why shouldn't I be able to play my import Anime?1

Blu-Ray does do region encoding, and slathers some other content protection on for good measure. I find BD+ particularly onerous, as we have seen how well we can trust Sony's software judgment, RootKit anyone how about another? Granted modifying your hardware is often done by Pirates, but modifying your hardware does not a Pirate make you. I bought it, I will break it as I please. In my home Sony doesn't tell me what to do, I tell Sony what to do; and no matter how much that irks people it does not forestall my rights. Make no mistake, BD+ is a shot across the bow buy the Blu-Ray Consortium; put simply they believe that their intellectual property rights trump my consumer and physical property rights.

So to wrap up, the Pile on of the recent Warner Bros. decision to drop HD-DVD and the rumors swirling (or just being copied verbatim from others?)of Paramount leaving in February make me sad. HD-DVD was something of an underdog, and the slashing of prices only makes the smell of blood in the water stronger, I would love to see the broader implications of money changing hands brought up as I have to believe that if IE and Windows Media Player are grounds for anti-trust, buying studios has to rank in there somewhere.


1 Granted the good series are starting to get US distribution, but great Anime is still hard to get legally.