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Web Servers

For several years I’ve used a combination of Microsoft IIS and Apache, which fits in with my belief that you choose the best tool for the job (and rarely does one tool work best across the board).

About a month ago I “needed” to do some maintenance on my personal web server, and I started to notice the number of things that had been installed on it… like two versions of Microsoft SQL Server (why a Microsoft product felt the need to install the compact edition when I already had the full blown edition is beyond me).

As I started to peel  away layer upon layer of unnecessary software I realized that my dependency on IIS was one very simple ASP dot Net script I’d written for a client of mine and adapted for my own use (you could also say I’d written it for my use and adapted it for them).

I started thinking, and realized it would take me about ten minutes to re-write that script in PHP and in doing that I could totally eliminate my personal dependency on IIS and somewhat simplify my life.

In about half an hour (I had to test the script and there was more to uninstall) I had a very clean machine with about 8GB more of disk space, and no IIS… and the exact same functionality (well — I would argue increased functionality since there was far less software that I would have to update and maintain on the machine).

Sure, there are cases where ASP dot Net is a good solution (though honestly I absolutely cannot stand it or the development environment, it seems to me like an environment targeted at mediocre programmers who have no understanding of what they’re doing and an incredible opportunity for security flaws and bugs)… but many times PHP works far better, and for very complex solutions a JSP (Java Servlet / JavaServer Pages) solution would likely work better.

My advice, think through what your (technical) requirements are and consider the options before locking into proprietary solutions.

Originally posted 2010-03-24 02:00:33.

Restoring Windows Boot Manager

If you’ve tried Linux (or another operating system) on your PC, and you’d like to return to just the Windows boot manager (and perhaps remove the other operating system) or if the boot manager that was installed is no longer working here’s a quick way to recover.

First, find your Windows installation disc (or an equivalent Windows installation disc).

Boot into install; on the first setup screen hit Shift+F10, that will open up a command prompt.

Execute the following commands:

  • bootrec /FixMbr
  • bootrec /FixBoot

Now reboot…

The Windows boot manager should be in control — you may need to correct the BCD entries, but generally those will be fine.

You may also want to review: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927392

Originally posted 2013-12-30 12:00:31.

Legalizing Pot

A government report this past week showed that illegal drug use was up… and immediately the media latches on blaming medical marijuana as being the cause.

Hello… it’s a down economy; and when the economy is bad, and people are out of work, drug use typically increases.

I’m not entirely sure that marijuana should be legalized; I’m more for supporting federal initiatives that require access to alcohol and tobacco to require a doctor’s prescription and making them available only at regulated dispensaries.

After all, the government knew years ago that both tobacco and alcohol were far worse than marijuana… and if there’s any gateway drugs we should be concerned with it’s alcohol and tobacco — after all, I’m willing to bet that an incredibly large number of illegal drug users use or used alcohol and/or tobacco first.

Get a grip America — the double standard in dealing with “harmful” substances is part of the problem… and guess what, prohibition failed (miserably); just read what wealthiest supporters of prohibition said after it was repealed:

When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.
· John D Rockefeller, Jr

Originally posted 2010-09-19 02:00:48.

LTE Android

We now know about the first round of LTE/4G Android handsets from the big players…

Motorola will supply Verizon with the Droid Bionic and the Droid X 2; and will supply AT&T with the Atrix (which doesn’t get Droid branding).  Of these phones, the Atrix is by far the winner; apparently Verizon chose to have the handset neutered on their network.

HTC will supply Verizon with the Thunderbold, but Verizon delayed the release — rumor has it in order to prevent iPhone 4 adopters from potentially returning their handsets during their “no worries” return period for what may well be a far superior phone.

Samsung will supply Verizon with the SCH-i502, and not many details about that; and MetroPCS with the Indulge (already available).

LG will supply MetroPCS with the Optimus M (already available), and a similar phone for Verizon.

The really interesting thing about all of this is that none of these phones are slated to ship with Android 2.3.x (Gingerbread) — they’ll all ship with Android 2.2 (Froyo); and there are rumors that we might see 2.4 (Ice-cream sandwich) rather than 2.3 as the next update.

Google has confirmed that 2.4 will be merge of Honeycomb 3.0 (designed for tablets) with Gingerbread 2.3 (designed for phones).

Word is to expect the next version of Android in April… so we should be sorting out the rumors in the next few weeks.

NOTE1:  Keep in mind that handsets for Verizon and MetroPCS are CDMA/LTE; and those for AT&T are GSM/LTE… it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities to see a CDMA/GSM/LTE worldphone soon.

NOTE2: Verizon LTE is 700Mhz (the old analog TV spectrum in the US), MetroPCS LTE as well as Leap (aka Cricket Communications) LTE is 1.7Ghz AWS (Advanced Wireless Spectrum — which is also used in Mexico) — so the handsets are not compatible unless specifically designed to support both radio frequencies.  European LTE is 2.5-2.69GHz, but there is push to clear the 700MHz spectrum for LTE there as well.

NOTE3: Sprint uses 2.5MHz WiMax technology (utilizing the Clear data network); Europe also has sectioned off 2.5MHz for WiMax.

Originally posted 2011-02-23 02:00:11.

LED Lighting

You think those CF (Compact Florescent) bulbs you’ve been buying are green???

Well — think again!

CFs do use considerable less energy than a comparable incandescent bulb, but they (like all florescent bulbs) contain a number of hazardous materials that negatively impact the environment when disposed of improperly (no — you can’t just throw them in the garbage can).

What’s a better choice?

Easy… technology from the 60’s comes to the rescue — LED based bulbs.  They’re made now in a number of configuration and bases to replace virtually any bulb you might have in your house.

OUCH — they’re kinda expensive.

I knew you’d say that… yes they cost substantially more than CFs (especially if you’re in an area where the utility companies are subsidizing CFs); but the thing you need to keep in mind is they consume substantially less energy than a CF and they last much longer.

I would love to tell you that if you factor in the energy savings and the longer life that they’ll work out to be less expensive than a CF; but if you’re buying subsidized CFs that’s not going to be the case.  One question to ask is why are utility companies subsadizing CFs and not LEDs?

LEDs have a much lower impact on the environment; and if enough people start using them we’ll see the prices come down… but doing what’s “right” often has a slightly higher price tag than what’s in “vogue”.

You can purchase LED bulbs at Sam’s Club.  They are selling “Lights of America” (see the link below) and “GE” LED bulbs — it’s rumored that a new Sam’s Club located near Cape Kennedy will use LED lighting throughout the store!

For the best pricing, check your local retailers and wholesale clubs as well as do a search online (consider sales tax and shipping when you compare).

GE Lumination

Lights of America

And maybe we should not only bring pressure on our utilities to subsidize LEDs rather than CFs (or at least in addition to); but get them added to the energy tax credit.

 __________

For background information on LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) you can checkout the article on Wikipedia or do a search.

NOTE: LEDs lower power consumption make them the ideal choice for a home solar lighting system.

Originally posted 2009-08-21 01:00:51.

:( Banks might not have gotten a Get Out Of Jail Free Card afterall :)

It looks like the first major salvo has been fired in potentially forcing the banks to accept liability in the Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS) fiasco that cause devastating harm to the US economy recently.

The New York Fed, BlackRock, and Pacific Investment Management Company sent letters to Bank of America alleging that its subsidiary, Countrywide, failed to perperly service loans totaling $47 billion.

While the letter itself doesn’t constitute any litigation, it does lay the groundwork for investors filing to recover investments that may have been negligently (mis)handled by banks.

This is a direct result of the “robo-signing” mess that banks have gotten themselves into; since it would be fairly easily established that the banks did not perform due diligence on loans where the documents were not properly reviewed.

I suspect this time it won’t be quite as easy for the banks to pull a rabbit out of the hat by getting the Federal government to provide them with loans — but then again, if you and I don’t make it clear to our elected officials that we’re not interested in another loan to banks, that we expect them to resolve it just like regular Americans have during this economic crisis that banks are largely responsible for.

Originally posted 2010-10-26 02:00:55.

Panasonic DMC-FX33S

Well, my new point-and-shoot camera arrived early this morning… and I charged the battery (a little over two hours for a complete charge, they ship it totally dead).

I’ve taken a couple indoor pictures (that’s generally the worst conditions for color/focus/etc)… INCREDIBLE. The pictures outside are also exceptional considering we’ve got a marine layer with quite a bit of haze in the air…

For less than $150 delivered this is really a nice camera…

My initial things I like / dislike about it:

Likes:

  • Price
  • Rechargeable battery pack (reasonably priced replacements as well)
  • Resolution – 8.1MP, overkill for a point and shoot
  • Color – vivid to lifelike
  • Size – though it may be a little too small
  • On/Off Switch – it’s a slide, not a button (great design)

Dislikes:

  • Absence of view finder (you have to use the LCD, I’m used to holding a camera to my eye; and most cameras in the class don’t have a view finder)
  • Doesn’t ship with an SD card, but you can use the internal memory (actually, maybe this is a plus — they’d ship it with a tiny SD card like other camera manufacturers and what would be the point)

For the number of “features” that the camera has, they’ve done a good job simplifying the interface… the instruction manual really doesn’t do the camera justice.

If you know anyone in the market for a point-and-shoot camera, I’d say this is one of the best deals around (for one with rechargeable batteries).

If you’re untested, I got this from Vann’s — it’s obviously a close out (half price), they only have Silver in stock (no black or what ever the other color is this was offered in).

 

Panasonic DMC-FX33S

Panasonic DMC-FX33S Features

Compact. Professional. Yours.

The DMCFX33S is a remarkably slim and super-stylish camera. The body features a distinctive finish, with a different texture to match each body color. Its cool design and light weight make it easy to take with you everywhere you go, just like a fashion accessory, for even more photographic fun. The 8.1 megapixel DMCFX33S houses a 28mm wide-angle f/2.8 Leica DC lens in its slim body. Capture large groups of people or expansive architectural structures with the 28mm wide-angle lens. This LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens inherits both its name and outstanding quality from the LEICA ELMARIT lens, renowned in the film camera world for its superb performance and compact size.

3.6x Optical Zoom with 8.1 Megapixel Resolution

The 8.1 megapixel DMCFX33S is equipped with a 3.6x optical zoom (equivalent to a 28mm-100mm zoom on a 35mm camera) lens that captures beautiful shots of people or landscapes. Use the Extra Optical Zoom when you want to pull the subject in just a little closer. It extends the 3x optical zoom ratio to 5.3x (35mm equivalent: 148mm) at resolutions of 3 megapixels or less, by using the central part of the CCD. Adding the Extra Optical Zoom to the 4x digital zoom extends the total zooming power to a maximum of 21.4x (35mm equivalent: 599mm). With this powerful zooming function, you can easily capture and magnify distant subjects.

Lumix Has The Body And The Brains

Got a wiggly subject, maybe a puppy or a friend playing racquetball? Well, Lumix’ll help. Turn the dial to iA (Intelligent Auto Technology) and watch the DMCFX33S work its magic. It not only helps eliminate blur from hand-shake or subject movement, but it will detect up to 15 faces and automatically select the focus, exposure, and scene modes for pristine results. Panasonic invented the MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) system to minimize hand-shake, the major cause of blurry images. Together, these outstanding technologies form Intelligent Image Stabilizer. Anybody can take crisp, clear photos in just about any situation.

Great Shooting Options

With the DMCFX33S you can snap off consecutive shooting at 3 frames or 2 frames per second with full resolution. In addition, the Unlimited Consecutive Shooting function lets you continue shooting until your memory card is full for a moving subject or a person’s changing facial expression. Then save only the best ones. With a digital camera, you can just delete any shots you don’t want (the focus and exposure are fixed at the first frame). You can also easily select between different aspect ratios, including 16:9 wide, 3:2 and conventional 4:3 to shoot in the framing aspect that best suits the photo’s composition or purpose of use. You can shoot images in the wide 16:9 format and save them onto an SD/SDHC memory card. Then insert the card into a TV equipped with and SD/SDHC card slot to view them in perfect, wide-screen size. Some TVs will display the images in stunning high definition. The DMCFXC33S lets you shoot smooth motion images at 30 frames/second, complete with sound, in 16:9 WVGA (848 x 480 pixels) or VGA (640 x 480 pixels) size. You can also shoot at 10 frames/second to reduce the file size.

One Good View? Try Twenty

Versatile Scene Modes are a great LUMIX feature. And the Scene Mode list display makes them even easier to select. In addition to the new Sunset and Pet modes, you can choose from a total of 20 situations, including Underwater (use together with optional marine case) and Aerial Photo, for settings that match your subject. Choose Intelligent Auto Mode, and the Intelligent Scene Selector goes to work. The DMCFX33S senses the ambient conditions and automatically selects either the Scenery, Portrait, Macro, Night Portrait, or Night Scenery mode accordingly.

Start Your Engine

The Venus Engine III in the DMCFX33S allows high-sensitivity recording up to ISO 1250 at full resolution. The noise reduction system is also greatly improved while maintaining high resolution. It removes noise at the processing stages in series. First, critical noise is roughly undraped and the chromatic noise and the luminance noise are separated so they can each go through a supplemental noise reduction process that appropriately minimizes the remaining noise. Panasonic slashed the release time lag to 0.005 second minimum by increasing both the circuit speed itself and the point at which the shutter release signal is detected. They also shortened the shutter interval to around 0.5 second (minimum). These improvements help make the DMCFX33S an extremely quick, responsive camera that’s a pleasure to use. Despite the significantly increased performance of the camera, the Venus Engine III consumes only 80 percent of the power utilized by the Venus Engine II and is able to achieve a longer battery life of approximately 280 pictures on a single charge.

The Illuminating LCD Feature

Lumix. The word could be a cousin of Luminary, or any body that gives light. Gaze into the brilliant 2.5-inch LCD screen and enjoy the crisp, clear imges. The bright screen makes viewing easy, illuminating your experience.

In The Box

Battery Charger and Pack, Battery Carrying Case, AV & USB Cables, Camera Strap, CD-ROM. Included Software: SILKYPIX® Developer Studio (2.1SE and 2.0SE), ArcSoft® Panorama Maker&trade, MediaImpression&trade, Photompression&trade, and PhotoBase&trade, USB Driver, Lumix® Simple Viewer, Photo Fun Studio

Originally posted 2008-07-17 12:38:43.

Can you hear me now?

Verizon Wireless might have made the phrase “can you hear me now” famous, but it’s iPhone 4 users who are probably using it most right now.

Steve Jobs made a big deal in the iPhone 4 announcement about the improved reception because of the antenna that rimmed around the steel frame — what he didn’t disclose (or know) is that if you touch the rim of the phone while making a call audio drops out, or the call completely drops.

While Apple isn’t denying the problem, a company issued statement said:

Gripping the phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone.

Really?

I don’t have any problem with audio cutting out when I grip my smart phone — and I’ve never had any problem when I gripped any cell phone I’ve had (most of the phones I’ve had in the last decade have had metal cases as well — so I don’t think that’s a reasonable excuse).

Once again, the iPhone is just a toy; obviously the designers of it didn’t even bother testing the performance of using it as a phone.

Maybe Apple will get more than bad publicity on this — perhaps iPhone 4 users might file a class action law suit — after all, a cell phone you can’t hold while you use it — give me a break.

And of course, Job’s statement on the problems shows exactly what kind of company Apple is:

Well don’t do that.

Originally posted 2010-07-02 02:00:51.

For the good of the many…

BART shutdown power to cellular antennas in and around BART stations in order to prevent individuals from using social media to organize a protest.

BART said basically it weighed the rights and freedoms all American expect against the potential threat to public safety.

How many times have autocrats and dictators used a similar statement to defend their actions in the past.

Freedom has costs associated with it; and unfortunately the right to protest is a fundamental tenant of American society… suppressing that right, even if there is a perceived threat of something possibly going wrong, does harm to all of us.

Since 9/11 this country has been headed down a dangerous road — essential freedoms have been compromised, and now public entities are taking action without any judicial review that severely impact public freedoms.

I say it’s time this stops before we find that “we” didn’t win the Cold War, we simply became the enemy.


Cell Service Shutdown Raises Free Speech Questions by Carrie Johnson NPR.org

Originally posted 2011-08-16 02:00:36.

Verizon Wireless – II

To be perfectly clear I do have one phone on Verizon Wireless; it’s a converted AllTel account.

Why would I have an account with a company that I can’t in good faith recommend???

There are a number of reasons:

  • Many of the people I know used AllTel or Verizon; so there’s no airtime charges to make/receive calls to/from them.
  • Coverage on Verizon is better than any other carrier, particularly if you travel (drive) though extremely rural / undeveloped parts of the county (mountains, desert, etc).
  • The service quality on Verizon tends to be good; though I’ve found outside major cities it’s no where near as reliable.
  • The price, while higher in a head-to-head comparison, can actually work out substantially less when you consider all the possible air-time free benefits.
  • Data coverage is good, and I can dongle my laptop at no additional cost (that’s a left over from AllTel — Verizon charges extra for that service).

Personally I hate cellular companies… and consider the only good bargin to be the Sprint flat rate voice/data plan… except that it’s on the Sprint network which is probably one of the worst networks (and most unethical companies) you will find.  I would have copied the details, but the Sprint web site section on plan details is off line for maintenance (they want prospective customers to get used to how poor their service offering is I guess).

Originally posted 2009-08-09 01:00:16.