Thursday, March 18, 2010

Can anyone tell me why in the hell MS Vista and Win 7 are giving me such issues?

I tell you, every time I have to use my IBM Tablet with Win 7 or my HP Desktop that sits in the basement running Vista or the HP laptop in the family room, I feel like I'm going to have a STROKE. If they're not rebooting to update, then they're losing printer drivers (I have an HP Laserjet 1018 and a HP Photosmart 7960 hooked up to the desktop and I can't tell you how many times I've had to re-install the drivers), or the systems stop sharing files and printers altogether. And if that Adobe Flash product asks me JUST ONE MORE TIME to update and then reboot, I'll just uninstall it altogether. Come on HTML 5!!

The reason this came up is because I just got home from class and the basement PC has three out of four cores running at 80%. Know what's running on the taskbar? NOTHING! WTF??!!?? I tried to go to the task manager -- no go -- then the Start button -- no dice. Screw it -- I laid on the power button until it shut down. I didn't bother bringing it back up.

Now, I'm a technical sort so none of this should bother me, it should be kinda fun tweaking around the innards of Windows. But NO MORE -- could it be that I'm becoming crotchety in my old age? Nope. It's the just intolerable experience that has become Windows versus the Mac environment I've been using these past few months. Thought I'd never hear myself say that, but, well, there it is.

Since using a MacBook Pro for several months, I think I've rebooted my MacBook probably three times (I think one was an OS upgrade and one was a recent Safari upgrade and I don't remember the third), and every piece of software on it (except a Microsoft product go figure) works without fail.

One of my classmates has Mac Office 2008 and it worked flawlessly with the Windows Office 2007 presentation that we were creating, including the advanced SmartArt. Because of that, I bought Office 2008 and I can stop using the Parallels Desktop app just to run Office (well, except for the occasional foray into OneNote). I find the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps in the Mac version to be outstanding like the Office 2007 for Windows version (except they haven't crashed, not even once so far). Entourage (the Outlook for Mac), on the other hand, has crashed a couple of times per day as I've tried to use it. I've gone back to using OS X's built-in Mail App, and I found that it supports add-ins so I've loaded a few of those to tailor the environment to my liking.

Anyway, the basement system is only about 6 months old, so I don't know what gives. Maybe I'll look at it this weekend when I have time; maybe I'll just go buy a Mac Mini to replace it and sell it since it's only running as a system to back up files from the other computers in the house and is hooked to the home theater for Hulu anyway.....

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Our Next JungleDisk Bill Is Here

And it's totally in line with what I expected!

I'm still lovin' this service. It works in the background unobtrusively and I get a daily report of what was backed up so I'll know what was done.

I've done a couple of restore tests just as a "trust but verify" step and the restores are flawless.

If you missed my first post about this service and what drove our switch from local storage, check it out.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tips for Traveling in the South

-- If it can't be fried in bacon grease, it ain't worth eating.

-- If you run your car into a ditch, don't panic. Four men in the cab of a four-wheel-drive truck with a 12-pack of beer and a tow chain will be along shortly. Don't try to help, just stay out of their way -- this is what they live for.

-- Don't be surprised to find boiled peanuts, movie rentals and fishing bait in the same store.

-- Remember: "Y'all" is singular. "All y'all" is plural. "All y'all's" is plural possessive.

-- Don't be worried that you don't understand anyone. They don't understand you either.

-- If you hear a Southerner exclaim, "Hey, y'all, watch this!" -- stay out of his way. These are likely the last words he will ever say.

-- If you see a turn signal blinking on a car with a southern license plate, you may rest assured that it was on when the car was purchased.

-- Satellite dishes are very popular in the South. They are to be positioned directly in front of one's trailer, since it cost considerably more than the trailer and should, therefore, be displayed.

-- As you are cursing the person driving 15 mph in a 55 mph zone, directly in the middle of the road, remember: many Southerners learned to drive on a John Deere, and this is the proper speed and lane position for that vehicle.

-- You can ask a Southerner for directions, but unless you already know the positions of key hills, trees and rocks, you're better off trying to find it yourself.

(from Joke of the Day)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Interested in a Sneak Peek at Office 2010??

At the Scobleizer site, there's a bunch of new videos of discussions with the Office 2010 Team Product Manager. Outlook is going to be very interesting -- here are the major points from the video:

Quick Steps: If you have processes that you repeat over and over, you can put them on a button. For example, you work for a marketing company and people ask the same question repeatedly (of course they didn't go to the FAQ page!!). You can set up a Quick Step that, when clicked, will file the incoming mail into a folder of your choice and simultaneously generate a canned response to the sender with the requested information.

Conversation View: If you have an e-mail conversation that goes on and on, you can see it in a true threaded view. You can also see where conversations fork within the view. In addition, there's an option called Clean Up that will remove any redundant messages from the thread. For example, if Terry said some things and Pat responded with Terry's entire message encapsulated, then the message from Terry would be moved to the Deleted Items folder because the information was already contained in Pat's message. In the demo, the thread message count was reduced from about 12 messages to only 5. By the way, the threaded view will not only show items from your Inbox, but also items from your Sent Items folder so you get a complete picture of the conversation.

Ignore Threads: I hate it when I get copied on something with a bunch of other people and then get a bunch of Reply All's from some of the people that say "Stop sending me this info" or "Remove me from this message." Now there's a function called Ignore Thread that when chosen, will automatically move all future incoming messages for a selected thread to the Deleted Items folder.

Calendar View in E-Mail: If you receive a calendar invite, you can actually see your calendar around the invite's timeframe in a window embedded inside the invite. You don't have to switch to your calendar and find the date and time to view your availability. Sweet!

Calendar Groups: This is a way to add people to a group so that you can quickly display the calendars of everyone in the group. For example, suppose you want to set up a meeting with the folks that work for you. You can set up a calendar group that, when clicked, will show you their calendars compared to yours, and you can see where there are holes in the overall schedule. Seems much faster than the current Outlook method!

To see more, check them out at Enjoy!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Haven't Used Google 411 Yet? You Should! Here's My First Attempt

I needed to get some information about a local area store because I wasn't sure of the location and didn't know the phone number. Having my handy dandy spiffy new iPhone, and having heard about how good the Google 411 system is, I decided to see how far this thing could take me. Here's what happened.

After dialing 1-800-GOOG-411 (that's 1-800-466-4411) from my iPhone, I was greeted by a pleasant male voice, no accent, very mid-West sounding. He asked for the city and state. I said them and he responded almost immediately by repeating what I'd said. Then he asked for the person or place I wanted. I said the business name, and pretty quickly he came back with a list of 8 numbered items. He told me that I could say the number of the item I wanted as he told me the info for each one. At the third one, I said "number three" and he said he would connect me. OR I could say "details" and he would read them to me. OR I could say "text message" and he'd send the info via text. I said "text message" and I swear before I could finish saying the phrase, the message appeared on my screen. The message showed me the company name, the address, the phone number, and a link to a map. Being the curious sort, I jumped right in and clicked the link to the map. The iPhone Maps app opened and showed me the location of the store. The location also happened to have Street View so I could look around to see where the store is located. I recognized the area and knew right away where it was.

I just can't say enough good things about this scenario. Within 2 minutes, not only did I have the information about the store that I needed, but I also had a map location of the store and was able to verify the store's location by actually looking around the neighborhood. And all of this happened from my desk! Oh and all of this is free. Wow, just wow.....

Now, there is a bit of a hitch in all this gushing, because I wanted to put the info into my Contacts list, but couldn't figure out how to get it easily out of the text message and into Contacts. What to do? I highlighted the message, did a copy, created a new contact, and pasted the info into the Notes section of the contact. Then I copied line-by-line from the Notes into the different fields of the contact. If there's an easier way, please jot it down in the comments -- it would be much appreciated!!

By the way, notice I've said "he" and not "it" throughout. My interaction with Google 411 was just natural back and forth and the voice was very real sounding (kinda scary if I stop to think about how natural and calm our future robotic overloads can sound). Maybe by calling this system "he" I'll be spared during the uprising..... (grin)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Cute One, from Joke of the Day

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it was, and always will be yours.

If it never returns, it was never yours to begin with.

If it just sits in your room, messes up your stuff, eats your food, uses your phone, takes your money, and never behaves as if you actually set it free in the first place, you either married it or gave birth to it.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

TMZ App on iPhone

I'm not one to follow the "celebrity sites," but some friends recently turned me on to the TMZ app for iPhone. I've been playing around with the app and have found some interesting things. For one, it's been showing info about the death (won't say murder yet but we probably know better) of Steve McNair of the Ravens (and the Titans). I never really thought about ball players as being celebs like Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, and Taylor Hicks, all of whom are mentioned today.

In addition to the writeup, the app also displays a small picture in the upper left-hand corner that when tapped, often displays a set of photos to skim through. And there are plenty of videos as well. Pretty cool. Today, there's a timeline in pictures year-by-year of Michael Jackson that's kinda horrifying toward and into the 2000's -- methinks he was a tortured soul to so drastically change himself like that.....

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Looking for a Bluetooth Headphone for Your iPhone? Check THIS Out

I got the Sony Ericsson HBH-DS205 Bluetooth Stereo Headset dongle earlier today. I've been using it all afternoon with my iPhone and I've been quite impressed. This is one of those Bluetooth dongles where I can plug in my own headphones. For me, I'm using the Sony MDREX55LP in-ear earbuds. They have great sound, lots of bass, and isolate outside noise pretty well (important when riding on the cacophonous subway).

In this picture, here's my car key and a quarter, then the HTC Bluetooth dongle, the Sony, and the Tritton.

So far, here's what I've found it will do:

- Play music without stuttering. I can't tell you how many reviews I've read where the Bluetooth headphones will stutter every few seconds. This stuttering happened with my HTC Bluetooth dongle connected with iPhone. The HTC dongle, used with either the HTC Fuze or the Advantage, would not stutter. Same manufacturer, I guess, for all the pieces means good connectivity.

- It will automatically connect to iPhone when turning it on. The Tritton I had before would not autoconnect. I had to use iPhone's Settings app and force the connection.

- The Sony Ericsson will answer incoming calls by pressing the Action button. I can also hold down the Action button on an incoming call and it will be rejected and sent to voicemail.

- The Action button will let me transfer the call from iPhone to the headphone so I can go private if I've been using iPhone's speaker for group calls.

- The Volume controls are *very* easy to use. Slide the button up to raise the volume and down to lower it.

- The Action button will pause/play music. I've used this with iPhone's iPod, and with Pandora and ooTunes.

- Double-clicking the Action button will redial my last outgoing number.

- When charging, the dongle doesn't turn off (unlike with my HTC dongle). The Tritton dongle would also stay on when charging.

- The distance is great. I can get across the room from iPhone before I lose the connection. This is convenient when working around the office or the den because I can leave iPhone connected to power, yet still listen through headphones.

- The Tritton shorted out from sweating during my workouts, I think, because of the way it's made. When clipped onto a t-shirt collar, one side will be next to the skin. On one side there's the on/off switch and on the other is the control buttons, so some part of the electronics was being sweated upon. I always wore it with the on/off switch against my skin so that I could easily access the volume and action buttons. With the Sony Ericsson clip, sweating won't be a problem because the part that clips to my t-shirt collar and touching my skin is just a piece of plastic, and not actually any electronic part of the dongle.

There's one caveat with these Bluetooth dongles. I have the problem with this new one, and also had the problem with the other two. When watching a movie, I find that the audio and video aren't in sync -- especially annoying when a person in close-up is speaking. To get around the problem on WinMo, I used a program called CorePlayer because it allowed me to adjust the sound so that it was sent to the dongle about .75 seconds before the movie was displayed on-screen. This made the audio and video sync perfectly. Unfortunately, until Apple adds some similar adjustment to iPhone, I'll have to directly connect my headphones to the audio jack.

All in all, this dongle is highly recommended just after one day of use. I'll update this entry if I find out anything different from what's gone on today.

By the way, don't get it from the Sony Style stores or their on-line because it's $150. I got mine from Amazon for $79 plus $20 for overnight shipping. Other places may have similar or better prices so shop around!

Update: I've been having some problems when answering the phone while in ooTunes or Pandora. Something happens and I almost always have to tell iPhone to route the music back to the headset after the call is complete. Otherwise, it's been a great setup!

Update: As I'm reading about other headphones like the Motorola, it seems this is common on the iPhone. It isn't a problem now that I'm used to it -- I was just not expecting it to act this way because I never had this issue with Windows Mobile. I guess Apple will fix this as their Bluetooth software matures.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Prepping for My Next Graduate Course (More iPhone Goodness)

Got an e-mail from my prof regarding my upcoming class. Naturally, I opened it on my iPhone (funny how I haven't used my tablet that much anymore except for syncing music and movies -- but do I miss it? No, not really.) Anyway, the e-mail says that the syllabus is ready to go and the class members should review it and ask the professor any questions that come to mind. The first class is July 7 (right around the corner timewise) so I took a gander at the syllabus.

This is where it gets interesting. I didn't go to my computer to get the syllabus. Nope, I opened it right on my iPhone from Hopkins' BlackBoard. Now, before, when I tried this with Windows Mobile, I couldn't get it to work. I tried Internet Explorer, then tried Opera after IE failed me, but I got no love from BlackBoard. I feared the same thing on the iPhone, but lo and behold, BlackBoard opened up, let me log in, and took me to my class list. Cool so far. Then I went into the specific class links, and was able to open and review the Syllabus link, took a look in the Course Documents link, and even got into the Discussion Boards! Now I'm impressed even more.....

I'm going to see how much I can use the iPhone for this class. I already know that the PowerPoint presentations required in the syllabus will have to be on my tablet since there's no app for that yet, but the reading and research (in Safari) and note taking (in DocsToGo's Word app) most likely can be done in Safari. This is kinda like jkOnTheRun's experiment of mid-last year with using the cloud exclusively for a couple of months to do work. Thanks for the inspiration guys! We'll see how far I get.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Some iPhone Goodness

Here are some cool things I have noticed over the last few days of using my iPhone. I can't believe I've had it a week already!

- Undocking and using headphones are seamless (there's that word again!). When I have my phone docked into my new clock radio, everything will play through the radio speakers. When I remove it from the dock, the sound transfers over to my Tritton headphone dongle. Even better, when a phone all comes in, a screen pops up asking me to use the phone, the speaker, or the headphones. Excellent!

- In looking at the app store, I found many apps. One in particular caught my eye because of our competition in the office. This app is called iTreadmill and I've been using it to capture my steps during the day. It has a lot of bells and whistles, lets me keep a log of what I'm doing, and even let's me email the info myself (which means I can send the results straight into my health blog).

- I also am using the standard Pandora. People are right: The app is *very* good at playing music based on the 5 artists that I initially put in. I've already found quite a few other artists that I consider great, and have gone straight to Rhapsody to get their music.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Seen on a bumper sticker

The well-behaved rarely make history.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just Got Our First JungleDisk Bill

And the costs were in line with what I thought. Here's the breakdown:

  • The first two lines are a monthly recurring charge for Jungledisk's special web access service (so we can get to our files from any browser, anywhere with an Internet connection).
  • The GETs and PUTs are the upload and download commands. They are about one penny for each 10,000 requests. We had a lot of PUTs this billing period because we were uploading each of our computers' data to JungleDisk's servers. The next bill will probably be one penny for PUTs and another penny for GETs.
  • The next line shows the amount of data we uploaded during the month (21.7GB) . This cost will only be for this month to upload all our files.
  • The next line shows the amount we (actually I) downloaded. I accidentally deleted a folder and had to restore. (This is cool: I opened the JungleDisk disk drive icon in Windows Explorer, navigated to the deleted folder, then dragged-n-dropped from the JungleDisk list down to my system. The folder was back in a few seconds. No muss, no fuss! It's like we have local storage, but without the worry of our backup drives crashing yet again.....)
  • The final line shows the actual storage costs. I guess it's the average over the month because we have over 21GB stored there now, yet the bill is for only 17.9GB. The next bill will probably show the full 21GB stored.
I had originally estimated $6 for the month. The first month, though, I figured would be a bit higher because of all the uploading, then the cost would go back down to normal. Now, I'm thinking that subsequent bills will be even lower, because:

$1 for the web access service
$0.02 for the GETs and PUTs
$0.10 for uploaded data
$0.02 for downloaded data (let's say this amount -- hopefully we won't have to use part this very often!!)
$3.00 for data storage

$4.14 for the month -- NICE!

We're really digging this JungleDisk/Amazon S3 service, and hope to have a long relationship with both of them.

Keep in mind this is just one front-end service using Amazon's backend. There are more out there (listed on the Amazon S3 website) and they offer different services. Be sure to do your research if this encrypted, always available from anywhere, don't have to worry about local hard drive crashes service interests you, so that you can get the best fit for your goals.

UPDATE: Just got our second bill and it's also in line with what we expected.

Monday, June 22, 2009

iPhone Gets Better and Better

So today is the first day back at work.

I'm finding all sorts of stuff to like about the iPhone that Windows Mobile just doesn't do (or maybe it does, but requires some sort of add-on, or maybe it doesn't). Examples include:

- The automatic switch between my home network then AT&T's 3G then the Starbucks network down the street then back to AT&T's 3G is just, well, I don't have words for it. It's been totally seamless and the only way I know of the switch is the change of the icons in the upper left-hand corner. It's very well implemented, and gets me to my goal of always being connected somehow. The radio station I was listening to with ooTunes didn't miss a beat the whole time. Impressive.

- The ease of getting my e-mail from gmail and from the office in one place is just exemplary. (Oh, geez, am I sounding like a fanboi? Eh, not yet.....) I don't think this is the "universal mailbox" because messages from my two accounts are not co-mingled -- each has its own mailbox. And the display of the mail messages is just like looking at my laptop or desktop. I never had this functionality in the few WinMo mail apps I could find. Gmail is set to IMAP (and the office Exchange account defaults this way too). I find that I can quickly go through these two accounts, deleting what I don't need, reading the rest, and allowing them to sit until the evening when I fire up my tablet and download the messages to my "just in case my gmail account or Exchange account disappears I have a local backup" Outlook client. When the download happens, the mailbox on my iPhone is cleaned out, ready for the next day. OH, and the folders from Outlook is duplicated on the iPhone. DONT'T KNOW HOW that happened, it just did, and is incredible.

- The Tritton bluetooth dongle is working well. When a call comes in, the caller name (or phone number if the caller is not in my contacts) shows up on the screen. I can accept the call by pressing the action button once, or reject it by pressing and holding for a few seconds. Sweet! I also found that if I'm not on a call, I can double-click the action button and initiate a call to the most recent phone number I dialed. Hmmmm... I wonder if I'm in a call that I received, and I double-click the button, can I initiate a call to the most recent phone number I dialed and have that call automatically added to the conversation? I'll have to try it out!

- I just can't believe how fast the iPhone 3GS runs when rendering webpages in Safari, even using my AT&T 3G connection. I can't think of any site that I've been to yet where the page didn't render VERY quickly and VERY well. I'm just amazed.

Do I sound like I'm gushing? Oh, well, I guess I am. My friends were telling me that I wouldn't understand the experience until I actually owned an iPhone and actually used it for more than a few hours or even a couple of days. I can't believe I'm already on my 4th day -- and unbelievably, I can't imagine going back to WinMo. I also have found that yesterday and today (other than to type up these long-ass blog entries and to fire up my Outlook client for a few minutes to collect e-mail), I've not even used my computers at home. That's HIGHLY ODD for me; maybe it's the newness of the iPhone, maybe I'm just trying to push the boundaries of what the iPhone will do for me, who knows..... More later.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I'm gonna be iPhone app $ broke pretty soon

Well, I did it. I stood in line at the AT&T store on Friday morning and jumped to The Apple Side (TM).

It all started when my best friend, other friends, and coworkers showed me the apps on their iPhone 3G's and bragged about what the apps could do. They would let me hold and fondle and play with it to seduce me, then they'd take it away, leaving me salivating for more. Once, and only once, I got to play with one for awhile, a couple of hours actually -- I was supposed to be helping with the writing of a Master's thesis paper and I would occasionally grunt in the writer's direction when he asked questions and wanted feedback. But I digress. Anyway, time seemed to stop as I tapped, slid, pinched, and lovingly rubbed that screen; in reality, I found that over 2 hours had passed in a flash. The iPhone was like a Succubus in disguise.

That time with the iPhone showed me just how stale the Windows Mobile experience had become. My beloved HTC Advantage, my previous XV6700, my new HTC Fuze, all were stuck in the 1990's. Oh, understand that the Fuze's TouchFlo helped tremendously, but the touch experience was still quite lacking when the interface had to drop back into the native Windows environment. On the WinMo phones, I found myself pressing multiple times to select something, pressing hard(er) to have the screen register, having to use a fingernail or a stylus to select too-small icons and menus. On the iPhone, I touched and it responded. Simple and uncomplicated.

That time alone with the iPhone baited me and I bit the hook. I told my boss that I'd be out of the office on Friday (but I didn't tell him WHY) since I didn't know how long the lines would be or how long the whole process of upgrading my account would take. When I arrived at the local AT&T store around 6:45a or so, much to my surprise, there were only about 40 people in line (it's a little bitty AT&T store in one of those trendy boutique strip malls). I had read that the AT&T stores would open at 10am like normal, at 9am because of the iPhone launch, and also at 7am for the pre-registrations. I hadn't pre-registered, but figured if I went at 7am, at the most I'd get a new phone, at the least they'd say "Sorry, you didn't pre-register, go away." We waited in line, neighbors talking with each other, excitement in the air, people lining up behind me.

The doors opened at a few minutes after 7am. They let us in one at a time at first, and I figured they were getting used to the system for registering the iPhones. After 8 or 10 people were finished (a little over an hour or so), they started letting in 2 or 3 people at a time. My turn came up, and in I went. The sales rep, Ali, seemed very knowledgeable about the iPhone and the activation process. My case was special (hence no pre-registration for me) since I was using a second phone on my account to get the lowest pricing, then moving my main number to the iPhone. He asked me which one I wanted (the black one with 32G, of course!). The process took about 15 minutes, and while the phone was activating, Ali showed me the accessories. I picked up one of the slim leather DLO cases for my belt and a couple of extra power supplies. When I was done shopping, the phone had registered and was ready to go. Just as I was finishing paying, I heard one of the clerks say that the lady behind me had gotten the last phone, then heard them telling people still in line that there were no more 32G iPhones to be had. Whew -- that was close!

It's been a little over two days of playing and tweaking and syncing and downloading apps (geez, I've already filled up over two screens). I've gotten quite good at the on-screen keyboard and it feels like I'm typing faster than I was using the physical keyboard on my Fuze. The trick (from someone in the AT&T store line who had the iPhone 3G) was to use my forefinger, not my thumbs, and to use portrait, not landscape. I do find it much easier and more accurate to just let my finger dance across the narrow, portrait-oriented keyboard. The autocorrect helps for the occasional mistype, and has been amazingly accurate.

Knowing how Windows-centric I am, my friends have welcomed me to The Apple Side, probably wondering when I'm gonna get my first Mac (Tablet, of course!). Since I didn't tell anyone in the office what I was doing with my day off on Friday, my officemates will be HIGHLY shocked on Monday when I walk in with a new iPhone on my hip.....

Friday, June 05, 2009

Western Digital Drives Suck, For Us Anyway

I figured out the failing backup situation. Turns out that the WD MyBook drive (500GB) crashed. It's only a few months old, so I'm pissed. I don't think we lost anything (unlike the previous WD 250GB MyBook drive that we had, which was a holder of our stuff, but we didn't have a backup of it). Turns out we're not alone. The drives are (were) hooked up to a desktop system in the basement that's only used to hold backups from the laptops around the house and for TivoToGo. Screw having local drives to back everything up. We'll just start using the Internet.

Based on a mention from jkOnTheRun, I looked up JungleDisk. It's an interesting product that leverages Amazon's amazing backup offerings. As I researched, I found that Amazon has this incredible set of infrastructure solutions, one of which is the "Amazon Simple Storage Solution" aka "Amazon S3." The S3 solution provides an unlimited storage area (they say that some of their accounts have terabytes of information stored there) that is fully encrypted and uses redundant storage so no data would be lost. (They're serious about the encryption: During the setup process, they caution that if the user loses the encryption password, the data will be readable by no one.)

The costs are beyond reasonable. It only costs 17 cents per GB stored, plus a few pennies for each GB uploaded or downloaded. We figure that the bill will be about $6 per month -- to back up our computers -- ALL the computers in the house. This is great for us because we don't have to worry about setting up some sort of redundancy for these drives that keep crashing, and we don't have to fret when a drive crashes and we have to figure out what we've lost. We can even shutdown the basement computer and put TivoToGo on our laptops.

The front end is where JungleDisk comes into play. They provide a piece of software that sits in the system tray (like SecondCopy does, which is the software we use to back up the laptops to the basement computer) and kicks off a backup on a schedule that we set up for each computer. The best part of all this is that we only need one account to back up all the computers; each computer doesn't need its own account. Nice!

I opened an account with JungleDisk and started using this solution the other day. It's been easy to use and works very much like SecondCopy. We get a daily e-mail report of which computer backed up which files, how long it took, and how much was uploaded to the server. Even better, we can access our files from anywhere using JungleDisk's web interface, an option we didn't have before!

Thanks James and Kevin for pointing this out!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Four New iPhones Coming Soon? GeekDotCom Says So

I'm drooling! And bored with the *very* tired Windows Mobile. I have an HTC Fuze (and an HTC Advantage and an XV6700 before that and a Dell something or other before that). All run Windows Mobile, and need a reboot every few days to keep going -- hey! just like my Windows desktop and laptop.

My best friend's iPhone, he says, has never needed a reboot (except for when upgrading or adding software). I believe him, and he's been trying to woo me to the Apple side. The current iPhones lack two things that I won't do without: Bluetooth stereo and tethering. I've been reading that these are available in the new iPhones.

Plus there are tons of rumors about an impending Mac Tablet PC. Remembering the days with my Newton, I'm drooling again. I currently have an IBM Lenovo X60 Tablet, which I use all the time for e-mail and magazines and school books. (My Acer Aspire One, while nice to carry, does no justice to a Zinio'd Motor Trend or Science magazine!) The Lenovo's cool and all, but something seems not-as-good when I compare it to my Compaq TC1100 Tablet. I think it's the rounded corners (Compaq) versus the squared off corners (Lenovo), but I'm not totally sure.

I'm probably definitely surely most likely getting the 32GB version of the iPhone -- I can never have enough entertainment (music and movies) with me!

Guess I'll start looking in the couch, chair, car seats, old bags, wherever I think I can collect some money to put toward this new beastie.....

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Interesting artist named Hikaru Utada

has an album out. Her voice doesn't match her look but she sounds very current pop. Check out samples at

There are a few different styles in there, and some good piano work (wonder if it's her?) throughout.

Finished reading Taking of Pelham One Two Three

Now I’m gonna watch the original movie (I TiVo’d it the other day) before I go see the new one. If the reviews of the new one aren’t good, of course, I’ll pass.

Using my Sony eReader, I found it easy to keep track of all the players while reading the book (and there are QUITE A FEW, but not as many as in the Red Mars series) using the notes function. I mention this because I’ve read a couple of folks saying they’re unsure of what the notes could be used for. Here’s an example screen shot on the right.

I can highlight names and phrases throughout the book, and the on-screen keyboard makes it easy to add my own thoughts to remind myself who the players are while reading. It's easy to tap the screen and switch between the notes and the reading. The notes stay with the book and get uploaded to the PC’s Sony software when I sync. Good stuff!

This picture also gives you a good indication of the "glare" that people have mentioned. It's more of an unfocused fuzzy soft reflection than a glare. You should see the glare/ reflection from my HTC Fuze cellphone as well as the HP Pavilion Entertainment PC in the den -- talk about having a mirror available all the time!!

UPDATE: Oh, look, I'm famous: I'm published on one of my favorite blogs!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The people they put on the "news" these days

There are actually Hispanic people on TV complaining about Obama and his pick of Judge Sotomayor, saying that "he's just doing it because he's ignored the Hispanic community until now." Of course, these are the same idiots that would be complaining if he DIDN'T pick a Hispanic person. I really can't tell you how stupid these people look -- just shut the hell up already.....

This is just another reason that I don't watch the evening news as a general rule (my housemate was watching it and, as I was passing through to the basement to start my workout, the Sotomayor story was on). I like to get my news from the Sunday "pundits" like McLaughlin Group and George Stephanopoulos' show. I know that a lot of people don't like these shows because they are full of the participants' personal views. HOWEVER, I think it's the easiest and fastest way (in less than a couple of hours) to get the most important issues from the week, and many of the different viewpoints that can impact those issues. Highly recommended for the busy person!

Candidate Sotomayor says she was influenced by Perry Mason

She doesn't say that her verdicts were based on the TV show, but she says that she was inspired to become an attorney because of the show.

I've always liked this series. Something very home spun about it, like Andy Griffith's different series. Hopefully that will carry over into her deliberations on The Big Bench. That she has already been approved a couple of times bipartisanly speaks volumes for her character and attitude. Maybe this will help the gay causes as well (you do know Raymond Burr was gay and had a partner/boyfriend for many many years, right??)

More at Anderson Cooper 360:

Interesting article on the Hyundai Genesis Coupe

I've seen this car on the Leverage TV show. It's quite nice! Now Gearlog talks about how much technology is stuffed in this car. Plus they talk about how well it competes with the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger. They also wonder why this level of technology costs so much in the "luxury" sports cars.

Interesting as it is, I think I'll keep my TT for now.....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Finally finished reading "Red Mars" (1,770 pages long in my Sony eReader)

Went ahead and downloaded the sequels "Green Mars" (almost 2,000 pages) and "Blue Mars" (about 3,500 pages). I'm putting these aside for now though since they'll take me practically forever and right now I'm all Mars'ed-out. I've just started reading "Taking of Pelham 123" in honor of the upcoming movie. I had never read the book, but I've seen the original movie, so I hope the new one is just as exciting (but not as cheesy as the 1970's movies went). For those that don't know, the movie is about the hijacking of a subway train in NYC. Lots of twists and turns, and pretty exciting once it gets started.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The future is here, and it's starting in Japan

The Aoyama Gakuin University is giving students iPhones for free. The catch: The device will be used to monitor students via GPS so that professors can take role electronically (Prof: Were you in class? Student: Yes! Prof: No, you were in the kirin garden, your GPS says so!). Profs can also send tests, send out videos, and even accept homework from students.

Guess the "dog ate my paper" stories will now be the "dog swallowed my iPhone and was running amok while I was sitting in class so don't use the GPS to take my attendance.....oh and I couldn't print out my homework because it's on the iPhone in my dog's belly" stories.

(Source: The Mainichi Daily News, Japan)

And here's another Google Doodle today

What's this, like the 3rd or 4th day in a row of Doodles? I like 'em so no problem! Today's is for the birthday of Mary Cassatt from Pennsylvania, an American painter and print maker of the mid-late 1800's into the early 1900's. Her art's nice, very laid back and reminds me of Norman Rockwell sometimes, but not my style (which is more like Kandinsky).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Created an Excel macro that 'freezes' information on all worksheets of a workbook

Our 25-worksheet monthly report workbook has gobs of calculations throughout. Information is even pulled from another workbook to complete the calculations. Problem has occurred when sending the final monthly report workbook to the customer - I would have to manually open each worksheet, highlight it, copy it, and use Edit / Paste / Special to paste only the Values. Too time-consuming, so I worked up the following macro:

Sub EditPasteValues()

' I'll want to return to the current worksheet
' when this is done, so I'll save its info for
' future reference:

Dim CurrentSheet As Excel.Worksheet
Set CurrentSheet = ActiveSheet

Dim Sheet As Excel.Worksheet
Dim CurrentWindow As Window

' Here, I'll cycle through each of the worksheets,
' performing the select all cells, copy all cells,
' Edit / Paste Special / Values so that any formulas
' are wiped out and only the final values remain

For Each Sheet In Excel.Worksheets
If TypeName(Sheet) = "Worksheet" Then
Set CurrentWindow = ActiveWindow
Application.Goto Reference:="R1C1"
Selection.PasteSpecial Paste:=xlPasteValues, Operation:=xlNone, SkipBlanks _
:=False, Transpose:=False
Application.CutCopyMode = False
End If
Next Sheet

' Here I'm returning to the original worksheet
' that I saved above


End Sub

Have you seen google's homepage today? -

There are entries (some from Kindergartners!!) from the recent contest for the best doodle. The winner is a sixth grader from Texas. I'm trying to think back to what I was doing in the sixth grade: homework, playing outside, running around with my bestest friend in the whole world.

Back when I was 13 or so, there was no computer or Internet or cable TV or DVDs, or VHS even. We went to a theater to see movies, and they cost probably $2 to get in. And TV was just three mostly clear channels (NBC, CBS, ABC), and one channel that was pretty bad but still watchable (WDCA in Wash. DC) and we liked it. We sometimes had to adjust the rabbit ears, though (oh the horror of it all!!) and without a remote control, we had to get up off the couch to change channels or adjust the volume or turn the TV on and off (yikes!). Oh, and for the smartasses, yes we did have color (smirk). This was particularly troublesome when we had to answer the phone which was totally wired to the wall; we had to answer, tell the caller to hold on, walk over to the TV and turn it down, come back to the phone, and talk (or in our parent's case, they'd yell to me or my brother to turn down the TV without having to leave the phone, sorta like their very own living remote controls).

Ah, the memories. . . . In 10 years time, when these kindergartners are teens, I wonder how the world will be different for them? I'm looking forward to finding out, that's for sure!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The NYT says today that by paying off my credit card bills every month I'm considered a deadbeat -

The NYT fronts a look at how banks will now be looking at ways they can make more money from some of their best customers. Well, "best customers" might be how you commonly think of the people who pay their bills in full and on time every month, but they're actually called "deadbeats" in the industry because they don't generate much revenue for the companies. These customers have not only failed to give much revenue to the poor credit card companies, but they dared to demand things like cash-back rewards and frequent-flier miles. That may soon be a thing of the past. Now that Congress wants to impose limits on how much the companies can charge riskier borrowers, they're looking at how they can increase revenue from those with good credit. Banks are likely to bring back annual fees, cut back reward programs, and charge interest immediately upon a purchase. Or at least that's what banks want people to believe as they furiously lobby lawmakers, who are discussing a wide variety of rules that could soon be imposed on card companies. "Those that manage their credit well will in some degree subsidize those that have credit problems," said the head of the American Bankers Association.

(Source: Slate Magazine)

Reading a Book Called "Red Mars" by Kim Stanley Robinson -

Interesting reading re Gov't power as @PeterSantilli tweet implies. This one is 1,770 pages on my Sony eReader. There are two followup books, "Green Mars" and "Blue Mars" that I'll probably get and read. This first one has taken up about 2 weeks of my reading time so far (I'm on page 1,246). Don't know how long the other two are.....

The Bullpen at DC's National's Park Is Now Open - Gotta check it out!

Society for Competitive Intelligence in Wash DC

has an interesting blog:

They have an upcoming event re using media analysis for scenario projections.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Twitter has lost most of my feeds

so I'm gonna blog my tweets (sounds groovy, don't it?!!) from now on!

This first one is a test to see if Twitterfeed does what I think it will.

I was using Twitter as a sort of history timeline diary, but I should've stuck with Blogger. Sorry Google, that I strayed!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

PDF Annotator

Just downloaded and installed the newest PDF Annotator (version 2) from Grahl Software. It's got a LOT of new stuff. Highly recommended!! (I don't work for Grahl, I'm just a very satisfied customer.)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Greatest . . . Purchase . . . Ever!

Well, it's maybe not the greatest purchase ever, but it ranks right up there!

Picture it: We usually put off until Sunday evening (don't we all??) to wash, and there's sometimes a mad scramble to get there first. We bought one of these Whirlpool portable washers and it's really working great for us.

It's quick, too -- even the longest cycle takes less than 45 minutes or so. Plus, we can pause it mid-cycle and let stuff soak for as long as we want. We keep it in the little closet under the stairs that's in the laundry room. When needed, we roll it out and hook it up. When done, we roll it back out of the way.

Highly recommended!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Where ARE we headed??!!

So here's an entirely scary concept: Kevin Phillips, in his article The Old Titans All Collapsed. Is the U.S. Next? presents startling evidence that we're gonna have a MAJOR headache a few years from now. Interesting reading.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Landscaping Hardscape

Been thinking about redoing the landscaping at home. The little gardens to the left and right of the front door have gotten NASTY over the years. Weeds everywhere, plants dead or dying, geez. I've taken care of the trees in the front and back yards, replacing the mulch. Looks GOOD! So now it's on to the gardens. I just ADORE this look.....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Trend for Old Folks and Insurance

Mom's trying to figure out which insurance plan to go with for her Medicare/Medicaid/retirement.

She's gotten information from several companies (Humana, BlueCross/BlueShield which she uses now, AARP, and so on). Turns out that all the plans are 95% the same!! She says the presentations and documentation that she's been reading is mostly repetitive, with just a few tweaks here and there between the different companies, and slightly different costs.

I think she's going to stay with the BC/BS plan 'cause none of the others are way different.....

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Showing Google Earth in a Browser

Well, they finally did it! You can now use Google Earth in a browser plug-in instead of loading the software application. Go to to download. Sweet!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Japan Shop

Learning Japanese like I am? Check out The Japan Shop. Very nice folks (Clay and Yumi are their names), very good prices.

They've started doing these little $5 "Instant Downloads" which are quite interesting. It may be a Japanese story (in Japanese, of course!) with flash cards, a PDF of the readings, an audio recording at full speed and a recording where the speaker speaks the words slowly for studying, etc. Or it could be a study guide for Japanese sayings with flash cards, PDF, audio recordings, and so on. I've picked up the ones published so far. They're great, and have helped me learn a lot of Japanese, plus at only $5 per download, it's an economical way to study.

They also sell regular books and dictionaries, electronic dictionary devices, study guides, the JLPT study series, and on and on. They EVEN have free stuff for download!

Check 'em out! (By the way, I'm not affiliated with them in any way, except as a very satisfied customer.)

Monday, May 26, 2008

What's on my playlist now?

Ida Corr's new album, Streetdiva. Be sure to check out the "Let Me Think About It" Club Mix with Fedde Le Grand