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Thursday, December 11, 2008

BlackBerry Storm Update

Well I guess this must be an issue that BlackBerry fixed with 4.7.0.75. I went into options, Advanced Options, and Web Update. I let it download the update that was released yesterday. After the update installed about 1 hr later the phone seemed to be back in working order again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

BlackBerry Storm Issue

Well it looks like the storm is a really good phone by the most part. I had to setup three of these phones for our network. The phone comes with a rather slow response which could be fixed by going into the options and speeding up the response time.

Today one of the users said their phone was not working. It started to not work correctly while they were on a phone call. The speaker went to a static noise and the dial pad was all messed up that they could not dial another number.

Verizon is replacing the phone so we are waiting for the replacement phone to arrive. I though it was really funny to see the phone the way it was so I took some pictures of the phone. Pity I don't have a better camera to take a picture of the phones screen. The one picture is the keyboard it never converts to the full qwerty keyboard when tilted, and the other picture is the phone dial pad. you will notice that the numbers are not in the correct locations. The keys that are there when you press on them put thoses numbers on the line above.

I will post updates if the replacement phone or any of the others come up with the same or simular problems.

Monday, September 22, 2008

DropBox vs Live Mesh

As I am writing this I found another service that does some of the same things as DropBox and Live Mesh so I guess I will be revisiting this topic again in a later date.

Currently with Microsoft's Live Mesh there is some real power here. With this software even though it is in what is called a Technology Preview you can' do many things. The more powerful of these features is the ability to remote any computer that is activity connected to your live mesh account. If you forgot something or needed to access a file that you didn't put is a live mesh folder. The ability to remote a computer so far is only available on the Windows OS. The Mac version has been posted to be coming soon. As for a Linux version of this feature I feel it will never be an option. The Windows mobile version of this software allow you to at lease gain access to files you are currently syncing with the Live Mesh system.

When it comes to syncing folders you can easily sync your files between the Windows XP and Vista systems. Once you have the Live Mesh client software installed on your computer all you have to do to get your files synced is right click on a folder, and select Add folder to your Live Mesh. This brings up options that allow you to say which computers you would like to sync your files with. You also have a webpage that you can log into and access your files from there. For testing I added my iTunes folder, and my Visual Studio Projects folder to the Live Mesh. Now anytime I update a programming project I am working on or any time I download a new iTunes song a copy of the changes I have made automatically get pushed to my other computers I have in the Mesh. This makes it even simpler when I am testing a program on several systems that are in my Live Mesh. I also put my Virtual Computers into the Live Mesh. This gives me the ability to have my files updated as soon as I start them. No need to constantly copy or open a security hole into my file system of the Base OS just copy a file I want to work on.

This product will be more and more functional as other Operating Systems are added to the mix. Microsoft is a big company and sometimes it is hard to change direction of this big ship. This is a small step to give up control of the file system to allow the files to live somewhere else and not on a Windows only environment.

Enter the new kid in town, DropBox. I started using this service about a month ago. They were in an Invite only beta testing only setup at the time. Today they are open to the public and anyone can setup an account with them. You are allowed 2GB of space on their server to store files that are Synced between your computers. This program works with Windows, Mac, Ubuntu Linux, and Fedora Linux. This software with its limitation of 2GB for all of your files, also gives you the ability to share your folders with other users of the service.

I quickly setup my system to work with my Ubuntu, Vista, and Windows XP system. I got Dan to setup the service on his Mac computer. We started sharing a folder and enter the fun. We noticed that if both of you have the file open, at least if one is on a Linux system and the other a Mac OS, you can both edit the same file, but only the last person to save the file will have their changes synced between the computers in your DropBox. The website with DropBox allows you to recover old changes to your files, and deleted file, if you make a mistake. I have not tested that part.

Install for but systems was really quick and painless. If you have lots of computers, or just two you want to sync files between this is a wonderful option. There is no remote control of a computer that is turned on like in Live Mesh, but DropBox wasn't designed for that in mind.

If requested I will add some screen shots to show what happens between the computers, but when a file is changed, added, or deleted a little popup appears near the DropBox icon in your status trays. This give you a little heads up of you are working with someone and they change a file. You can see instantly that you now have the most up-to-date file.

Monday, September 08, 2008

New Dell E6400 Review

Dell Latitude E6400

This is the first total redesign of the D series of laptops that Dell has done in about 5 years. New docking stations that can now support dual monitors out with DVI or Display port is just one of the new added features that the docking stations have introduced. The new system now has eSATA, Display Port, 1394, SD Card reader, and Contactless smart card readers. When configuring the system you now have the option to pick if you want the old PCMCIA card slot or the new Express Card.

They updated the keyboard with another option that you can add backlighting to the keyboard. This makes the keyboard easy to see in very low light. The LCD has an ambient light sensor to automatically adjust the backlighting of the monitor. Another option that is available is a web cam in the monitor. This will make it easy for the user to use video chat programs, and anything that allows you the use of a web cam.

The inverted motherboard really helps keep the temperature of the bottom of the laptop cooler than previous version of the D series of laptops from Dell. I did however find that if you sit a glass of water on the left side of the laptop and make the processor work hard, it will warm up the glass of what rather quickly. The bottom of the laptop didn’t get as hot as my Latitude D830 at rest even when working the new E6400 at max speeds.
With the 9 Cell battery I have been averaging about 7 ½ hours of run time. This is not really a normal use, but with lots of installing of software, and testing different power options. I think if you would use it at a normal pace like typing and surfing the internet you may get 8 – 9 hours of battery life on this model.

This model also has the option for a fingerprint reader, which was purchased on this model, for future security setups down the road. The E-Module can store a second battery and you can also get a battery slice for this model, when can extend your battery life to 12 hours. The standard CD-RW/DVD drive was what I picked for this purchase, there is a DVD+-RW drive option, and I am hoping a blu-ray option will come along later.
Once the system was open we found that there where a total of three mini-Express PCI card locations for the system. One is taken up by the WiFi, card. The second and third, have options for Cell phone internet connections, and other wireless networking technologies. Bluetooth is still an USB type connection that is plugged into the motherboard.

The new touchpad now has the sideways scrolling and standard scrolling displaying on the touchpad. Also a standard volume up, down, and mute buttons at the top of the keyboard.
With this being the new Centrino 2 design with a 2.8Ghz processor, I ran it on GeekBench. The system performs at 3000+ on the GeekBench test, and compared to my XPS420 Core 2 Quad which is 4000+ and my D820 Intel Core Duo 2.16Ghz which is 2000+ I think this is a very nice upgrade for people replacing a laptop that is three or more years old, and a desktop that is four or more years old.

4GB of ram installed on the system helps it fly with opening programs and handling anything I could throw at it in the short time I had to test it. Windows Vista Ultimate works as a perfect match for this, Vista Business will fly as well, and just you don’t get the added security of file encryption that is missing from Vista Business.
Also I would say that the nVidia graphics card option is a must for this system. This gives you the extra graphics power you need to run two monitors without affecting the performance of the system.

I will add links to GeekBench and pictures of the laptop in the coming days, and after the recording of our podcast College Friends in the Wild Episode 27, which can be found at www.cfitw.com.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Social Networks on the road

Twitter, Plurk, brightkite, ping.fm, Strands, Facebook, and MySpace all have a mobile version of their websites. At this time only Plurk is not allowing my to login to their mobile version with my phone. I have given them two weeks to respond to my request to fix the issue. At this point there has been no response and no fix to the problem.

I have been using the mobile versions for a long time. I have even downloaded a windows mobile app called TwitToday that gives you a place to post what you are doing to twitter. I am looking for a feature that is like this for ping.fm. This would make it a lot easier to post to all my networks at one time.

Ping.fm is the first place a take my mobile web browser to when I post an update. Then I load my other networks to see any responses if I think there will be. If I am to busy I just let the responses go, and hope that twhirl will pick them up upon my return to the interwebs.

I added ping.fm to my iGoogle page. I am sure I will be using it and replacing one of my tabs that load on start of firefox with another flavor of the week social network.

Strands so far is in beta and has no mobile version. I was hoping to see if things were updating but so far no go on being able to check this feature while on vacation.

The mobile version of twitter doesn't allow you to add things to your favorites which some I wish I could have added are long gone.

Brightkite is the only social network that I currently have that is working well here at the beach. Many people using it and you can easily see what is going on in your area. The only sad thing is that most of it is filled with I am at this Hotel or this restaurant. Makes for a boring social network. I can see why twitter is filled with I am eating this or that. I finally posted a picture from my phone to brightkite but it requires me sending and email the a special personal email address. If you only have text messaging on your phone you will be out of luck sending pictures to the service.

Yahoo! Go 3.0

This little cellphone program for windows mobile is really cool. It give me a very easy way to add multiple pictures to flickr.com from my phone as I take pictures during the day. The flickr feature also keeps a check mark on pictures that have already been uploaded. This gives you a very easy way to keep track and not get confused on which pictures need to be uploaded yet.


Yahoo! Go 3.0 also gives you access to your email, news and other features that are common on the yahoo website. I have found this a must have feature for any new windows mobile phone I will buy.


Yahoo! Go 3.0 also have a weather feature that is far better than any other that I have found so far. You can add multiple cities to track the weather, giving you a quick look at where you are and where you are going to be when traveling.


You can also sync your address book that you have in outlook and on your phone with Yahoo!'s cloud. If you connect to an Exchange server you can still sync with Exchange and then sync your address book to yahoo as well. Giving you two places to look if you need to.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Microblogging and Social networks

Well after this week I have been looking hard at where all of my knowledge is going in the world. I find it that there are some major issues with new micro-blogging social networks. In this article I am going to point out the good and the bad from all of the major services I am currently using.

People want to get away from twitter because it has this little issue call users using it really heavily. The system then gets over loaded and breaks, the scale whale fills the twitter web page and all of the errors appear. Complaining people start bad mouthing twitter and start looking for the next best thing.

I started out my micro-blogging with jaiku, www.jaiku.com. There didn't seem to be many friends there and I was having problems finding people that I knew. This is one of the big issues with being an early adopter. Jaiku is nice in the way it sets up the conversitions that people have. They are placed into a thread so you don't have to search through many other messages to follow the conversation. The mobile version looks like the web version with little differences. Jaiku also has a few programmers that have made apps to allow you to post and recieve messages from Jaiku. These apps are a little harder to find now that Google has bought Jaiku and taken it under its wings.

My second micro-bloggin adventure was then twitter. Twitter for me also started out slowly and I found not many of my friends were using twitter. It took almost a year for my friends to start using twitter. I found twitter was not useful until about 20 people were following me. That is 20 real people not to be confused by the robotic auto adding people that exist on twitter. The development community and support community is really backing twitter. In the last month even when I complain about something not working twitter users suprise me by pointing my to things that fix my problems. Most of the people I am following are now these apps that are question answering or support groups. They have make links into the twittervers and when someone knows the answer to your issue your fix is twittered to you. This has not happened on any of the other services I am currently using.

The rest of my micro-blogging areas are plurk, brightkite, ping.fm, and the newest kid on the block Identi.ca. For me plurk and brightkite both have some cool features that make them nice. Plurk gives you a Karma rating that lets you know how social you are. This Karma rating can be picky if you don't post to plurk for a day or so, which can bring down your ratings.

Brightkite integrates with google maps showing you where all of your friends are and what is going on in your area. I once again live in an area where there are little to no brightkite users so I can't find anyone to meetup with. Even when looking for people to just run into when at Hershey Park. I guess geeks don't get out and have fun much.

Ping.fm lets you post to most of your blog and micro-blog sights, update your status on your social networking sights. I have found this a wonderful tool.

Identi.ca the new kid on the block labeled a Twitter Clone, does 90% of what twitter already does. Nothing new there. I think it even got the breaking part down, the first day I tried it the support email didn't work, and I could signup for the service, but I could not login and make changes to my account settings. The major push for the Identi.ca service is that it is Open Source. I don't find this a big deal to jump on this service. All services have APIs that you can create apps for and you are not tied into having to go to that services website. If the openness of this service makes it a more distrubtied service so the service becomes more reliable, but time will only tell.

Hope to twitter, jaiku, plurk, bkite, Identica, or ping you all soon.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fedora 9 on USB

Well I had a 4GB USB drive laying around so I figured that it would be good to test this new live feature on the Fedora Project. The only thing that I found really interesting is that the ability to setup this USB key had a Windows Application to set the entire process. This makes it easy for Windows users to try the entire system with out having to re-partition their drives.

The first thing you need is to download the Fedora Live CD ISO file. This will be what gets installed on the USB key. The next thing you need is the Fedora Live USB Creator https://fedorahosted.org/liveusb-creator. This program will create your Fedora install in the USB Key.

After finally going through all of the USB key setup I booted a computer to see if it would work. The computer worked except for the WiFi card. I knew this would be the case since the WiFi card is a Broadcom chipset. Then I put the key aside for another day, a day which I would have some time to play more.

There was only one limitation you can only setup a maxium for the file system space to use which is 2GB from the live usb creator. This gave me still 2GB for file space that I can share with other systems.

The day has come when I could play more. I connected the key to my main laptop which is a Dell Latitude D820. I pressed F12 to bring up the boot menu at the BIOS. Booted the and found that this computer even the WiFi card was found. Got to love that Intel WiFi cards have a native kernel driver. Even the WiFi led works which doesn't work on the latest Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Release.

Next I figured lets see what I can break. I setup my VPN connection so I could log into a WiFi connection where I happened to be located. Sure enough it worked right away. So now I wanted to do more. I had the system check for updates, I then downloaded and installed all of the updates for Fedora 9 since it was released.

Then I figured lest break something else. I when to Adobe Air and downloaded the Alpha for Linux install and installed it. This was a little tricky since you have to run the install as a basic user and durning the install it asks for the root password during the install. This worked so then I figured twhirl, check my last post. It seemed to have the same install issue as the Adobe Air install.

After that I played with this for a while and figured it was time to add this to my blog. There are a few things missing but for a live version of this linux distribution. No OpenOffice, no out of the box support for my nVidia video card 3D graphics. It does have Abiword and a basic spreadsheet.

After playing with the usb for a few hours I put it away for use when I need it later. All of this post has been produced in Fedora 9 on the USB Key. I hope you enjoy and sometime maybe you will be using a USB key to support working on other computers.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Review twhirl vs spaz

After playing with both Spaz and twhirl I finally have a final vote for which one I will be using on my computers. After all was said and done I hope you find the same results as me. Both seem to have issues in the Linux environment, and here is what I found testing them on Windows and Linux using Ubuntu 8.04 distrubtion. Both are Adobe AIR software which is Adobe's cross platform software development tool. The software will install the same on any operating system that is supported by Adobe AIR.

Spaz can be downloaded and installed from http://funkatron.com/spaz

Spaz I noticed that when you start it for the first time you have to enter your username and password for twitter, but the user name and password boxes appear over all of the settings options. I wasn't sure I was entering the username and password in the correct location. It worked and has some very cool sounds to it, kind of making me think of the old NBC tones that used to play inbetween the tv shows. I got totally spazzed that this program worked better than any of the other clients that were native to linux. The only draw back is every time I restart my computer I had to re-enter my username and password.

Then there is twhirl. My entire body was went into twitter overload. It allows you to cross post to other applications, search through the twitter database to see what others have tweeted about in the past. Say you need to know about a program. You want to see if people like the program. You can search for that program name. Sure enough tweets appear with that program name or what ever you search in for.

Twhirl also allows you to add other twitter accounts god for bid you have more than one twitter account and want to post to more and more accounts at one time. Also you can view and post to your friendfeed account. I guess you can also add multiple friendfeed accounts just like twitter and keep track of many of them.

twhirl can be download at http://www.twhirl.org



After playing with both of them for a week I have totally fallen in love with twhirl it has more features that I like.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Microsoft Live Mesh



This is a cool new option from microsoft. You can remote any one of your Windows computers that is on the Mesh and you can share files from each of the computers. You have a Live Desktop when can be opened from any (even firefox in linux) web browser that will allow you to download your files and work on them. When you upload your files back to the Mesh the new file is synced to any computer that is part of your Live Mesh. This makes for easy of keeping all of your files up to date and working smothly. Here are a few screen shots of the Live Desktop on my Ubuntu computer with files I was playing around with. Click on the images above to see in better detail what the desktop looks like.

Iighting and USB talk from College Friends in the Wild Podcast

USB Hard drive enclosure issues Jarrett caused when he thought the yellow ribbon cable on the picture above was removable. Now no IDE works on that enclosure.
This is a TV or Radio Tower being hit by lightning in Harrisburg PA. A very cool image we talked about on our podcast at www.cfitw.com Finally getting some time to update all of the sites I work on and updating here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Apple Update

Well I am not thrilled with the new MacBook Air. This new ultra portable doesn't seem to fit into what I was looking for in a replacement computer. I was hopping that the options would be better. It does have a very nice cool factor but that is about it. Apple should have put a bigger hard drive in it and given the option to upgrade RAM. I think this will just limit the ultra portable.

Facebook

Today I logged into Facebook and found a new feature called expanded profile. This allows you to hide the apps in your profile that you do not use often and are low on your profile page. This is a cool feature for my page since it was starting to become a monster of a page with all of the apps I have installed.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Fedora 8

I know I am behind the times, but finally got my first test system updated to Fedora 8. More information to be announced as I dig deeper into this version. See how it compairs to Ubuntu 7.10 and other Linux Distro's I use.