Entries Tagged as 'Technology'

1000+

Woo-woo…

Over one thousand posts — over two thousands hits per day — a ranking just over two million…

I would have never dreamed my BLOG would have reach such heights in under two years.

Honestly, though, it’s not the stats that make me do it — it’s the fact that I enjoy sharing my interests and views on what ever crosses my mind (I know — there are those of you who think I lost my mind… but trust me, I have it on a tight leash).

Originally posted 2010-11-30 02:00:33.

Xoom

Several weeks ago I purchased a Motorola Xoom (WiFi only model), I’d looked at the Acer, the Asus, the Samsung, and read up on the Thrive — I decided that the Xoom was the best candidate of the available Android/Honeycomb tablets available now.

I’m happy with my purchase, and it’s amazing how quickly a “gadget” can find its way into your everyday life.

I will write a lengthy review of the Xoom to let you know everything I like about it, and the things I really don’t think are that great… plus I’ll write a post on my rooting adventure (after all, it’s Android, why wouldn’t you root it).

Let me just close with it’s a great tool, and if you’re willing to carry something like that with you it gives you incredible access to books, news, entertainment, information…

I do expect that prices for 10″ tablets will continue to come down… but I’d definitely recommend you only consider a dual-core (or better) tablet.

Originally posted 2011-08-03 02:00:04.

Speeding Up Your Home / Small Office Network

This will be the first in a multi-part post targeted at making suggestions as to how you can improve the performance of your home and / or small office network.

None of these recommendations require a rocket scientist, and if there are questions on any of these topics I’ll try and take the time to put together a HOW-TO post to cover those areas.

__________

The Intenet, and your home network use TCP/IP, and while it was designed to withstand a nuclear attack, it isn’t necessarily always the most efficient protocol.

DNS (Domain Name Service) is built on top of TCP/IP and it’s purpose is to provide a way to refer to nodes on the “network” by name rather than remembering the address (in dotted quad notation).

Most modern computers are capable of caching DNS resolutions, so that you don’t have to continually resolve the addresses, and that’s important for a browser since it will often load many parts of a page from the same address.  However, if you have more than one computer on your network, those computers do not share the information they have (some routers will also do DNS caching).

A good way to improve the performance of your network is to implement a local caching DNS server; that type of server basically only knows how to do resolutions, it doesn’t have any addresses stored locally (that makes it easy to install and maintain — since you really don’t need to do anything to it once it’s setup except check for security updates).

If you happen to have a Windows server machine (2000, 2003, or 2008) then you can just install Microsoft’s DNS server and use it.  However if you only have Windows workstations (home, professional, etc) then a good option is BIND from ISC — it’s totally free, and is the reference platform for DNS.  For a novice BIND can be a little daunting, but you can download everything you need to setup a caching only name server.  If you have a *nix machine around (that’s BSD, Linux, OS-X) then you can also run BIND on it, and odds are there are some ready to run configuration files with your distribution.

After you have BIND installed you will need to tell each of your machines to use your local DNS server rather than the current server they use; odds are your router does DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) and issues IP addresses as well as gateways and dns information to each of your machines.  Just change your router so that it provides the address of your local dns server rather than the ones it currently does and you should be good to go.

Now with BIND installed locally, you can also create your own zone and name your machines — but more about that in a future post.

Originally posted 2009-01-09 12:00:12.

Video Editing on a PC

I purchased a Mac Pro and Final Cut Studio to do my video editing, simply because I felt that PC solutions were just not there.

Adobe Encore is a joke, the only thing it was good for was crashing (and thinning out your wallet).

Sony Vegas was a descent application (and solid), but difficult to use and didn’t seem to expose as much control as I wanted over DVD production.

Times change; and now I’m not as concerned with DVD production as I am with just video editing, and two of my friends have shown interest in video editing and really don’t want to invest in a Mac (there is only one real choice for video editing from Apple, and that’s a Mac Pro, and the combination of the hardware and software is a little scary).

One of my other friends has used Vegas for quite awhile, and he’s been happy with it (of course he’s never done video editing on a Mac).

I’ve decided my project for the next several days will be to evaluate Sony Vega Pro 9.  I’ll try it out on Windows 7 and write a BLOG post that tries to detail the strengths and weaknesses without directly comparing it to Final Cut Studio; though I may use Final Cut Studio as the “standard” for what a high end video editing suite should do.

Originally posted 2010-02-19 01:00:15.

Chromium

I’ve been using the Chromium browser a fair amount lately, and while it takes some getting used to, it’s quite an admirable browser.

Initially I installed Chromium in order to test web sites under it to make sure I didn’t need to handle any glaring issues (like is often needed with Microsoft Internet Explorer and Opera); but it seem to render most everything almost identically to FireFox and Safari (though there’s definite differences in the timing of the rendering).

For the most part I work on web pages that use fairly simply JavaScript to alter the appearance or provided better user interaction (Web2.0), I really know very little about HTML5 (I’ve run some tests on various browsers — but let’s leave HTML5 to those who really know something of substance).

I don’t know if it’s because it’s what I’m used to or because the human engineering in FireFox is better… but it certainly feels more natural using FireFox to browse and download (plus I like the “Page Info” and the “Error Console” tools a great deal).

One other thing I like about FireFox is that it’s ostensibly the same experience on Windows, OS-X, and Kubuntu… and it’s not the default browser on any of them — of course I can same the same thing about Chromium (well, except for OS-X).

Chromium, though, really takes a slightly different approach to browsing the web; and I think the developers really felt like their approach was simpler… and maybe it is.  After all, humans do not have any innate ability to use a particular tool — they have to learn, and maybe the FireFox tool has become somewhat ingrained in the tool-box of any internet user since it builds on the original web browser (Mosaic) and really has never attempted any large paradigm shift.

Chromium also presents the feel of something larger than a browser (and it is — after all, it’s a fundamental part of the Chromium OS project as well); and perhaps that’s what makes it feel slightly alien no mater what environment you run it in (of course, to me, Chromium OS feels very fairly alien in itself — but then again, I’ve only run hacked builds, so we shouldn’t draw too many conclusions about the OS just yet).

One thing I’ve fairly confident of is that Google will evolve Chromium until it has a reasonably large share of the market (I think Wave might be the only Google project that was abandoned — and I suspect that will find itself re-incarnated in some future Google effort).

While I don’t see the “resistance is futile” tag line on Chromium any time soon, I think it’s probably worth taking a look at — you might find it less alien than I do — and it certainly seems to work well as a browser (once you learn what buttons to press and how to hold your head).

Originally posted 2010-10-20 02:00:35.

MeeGo

Nokia has announced a launch of the MeeGo (N8) smart phone by the end of Q3 2010… and they stated that it will not be using Android, nor will they be shipping a tablet any time soon.

Nokia, once a dominant force in the cellular handset market, has seen it’s profits eaten away by Apple, HTC, and Motorola…

Here’s a bullet list summary…

  • On the N8: The N8 is more of a high to mid-range smartphone. It will be launched before the end of Q3. It will be available in the US, and carrier partnerships will be announced at a later date.
  • On MeeGo: The first MeeGo phone will be announced before the end of the year and will be a “milestone product” for the company. Nokia’s done a lot of work on the interface and done away with a lot of the “legacy” of Symbian.
  • On Android: Nokia has no plans to use Android on its smartphones. End of story.
  • On tablets / larger phones: The company’s made “no decisions” on entering the market. Savander seems to think larger screened smartphones are awkward.
  • On netbooks: The Booklet 3G was priced a bit high, but they are still in the market.
  • On 4G: Nokia has no plans to produce WiMax devices, but LTE will be a big focus.

One thing is certain, if Nokia doesn’t re-capture a larger part of the smart phone market soon, they may see the window of opportunity closing; and one has to ask the question why not capitalize off the Android hype?

Originally posted 2010-08-14 02:00:05.

Just Say No To Adorama

I wanted to buy a couple filters for my camera, and I’m fairly picky about just what brand of filter goes on my lens.  My preference is Sunpak and Quantaray (Quantaray is made by Hoya) — both Japanese manufactured, and solid glass construction with multi-coats.

I looked up prices, and found that Amazon had a good price on a Sunpak kit with both of the filters I wanted in it; so I looked at the buy options, Amazon was a little more expensive than a couple of the other vendors they listed, but with free shipping it was just about a wash and I prefer to deal with Amazon and avoid Amazon merchants.  The only problem was, Amazon was out of stock, and of course no way to know how long it would take for them to get stock.

I guess I just wanted to be done with it, so I clicked on the link to buy the item I wanted from Adorama

I have to say,  Adorama was fairly quick about shipping out the filters, and their shipping price was fair; but when I opened the bubble envelope inside was a clear plastic bag with an invoice and two Tiffen filters rather than two Sunpak filters.

  • NOTE:  Tiffen is US made, and they may be believe their manufacturing technology is great; but I’ll pass on it.

At first I thought I’d made a mistake and ordered the wrong thing; but then I noticed I could read the itemized invoice through the plastic bag.  First line on the invoice was a Sunpak filter kit with the Sunpak number; the next line said kit consists of (hmm… Sunpak sells the two lens in a package, the vendor doesn’t assemble it — but I’d have no problem taking two individually packaged Sunpak filters for the price of the kit, provided they were the Sunpak filters that were supposed to be in the kit); the next two lines listed out Tiffen filters, descriptions, and part numbers.

So much for even thinking I’d made a mistake, and so much for even thinking it might have been human error on Adorama’s side.

I don’t have a problem with a vendor being out of stock of an item I ordered; and I don’t have any problem with them substituting an equivalent or better item (with my permission — I get to make the call whether it’s equivalent or better); or advising me that there will be a delay; or refunding my money.  The key really is the vendor needs to contact me and advise me of the situation and the options they’re comfortable with. 

What Adorama did was bait-and-switch; only they didn’t have me participate in the switch so it was just out right fraud.

Personally I don’t do business with companies who think so little of their customers that they believe they can do what ever they want when ever they want…

I, of course, contacted Adorama (still no reply — and we’re moving in on a week).  I contacted Amazon, I’ve actually exchanged email with them twice on this matter, and they’ve ask that I wait until after Monday before they will take any action.  And I’ve contacted my credit card company; who were appalled at a merchant doing what I told them they had done, so I don’t expect having any problems getting a favorable resolution to this.

One of the reasons I felt it would be “OK” to purchase from Adorama (breaking my policy of avoiding Amazon merchants when ever possible) was that Ken Rockwell, who maintains a great web site on photography (and other things) had listed Adorma on his site as a vendor, and I had hoped that they had the same high standards as Ken (he also lists Amazon, B&H Photo Video Pro Audio, J&R, and Ritz Camera /Wolf Camera — all of which I tend to trust).

I’ve ordered a set of Sunpak filters from Amazon, and I’ll just be content to wait until they get them in stock, which will probably happen before Adorama sends me a pre-paid return shipping label.

__________
 
For your reference, I’ve include links to the two Japanese filter manufacturers I prefer (again I find Hoya branded filters expensive, and you can get the exact same product at a lower price by buying a store or generic brand that’s made by Hoya). 
 

__________

NOTE:

Please read the complete follow up before making any decisions on Adorama.

Originally posted 2009-01-04 12:00:16.

Hardware MPEG2/MPEG4/MPEG4-AVC/H.264 Transcoding

Leadtek Research Inc has release the WinFast PxVC1100 PCIe x1 add-on card which uses four of the Toshiba encode/decode cores  (SpursEngine SE1000 — BXA32110) derived from the joint Sony/Toshiba/IBM alliance (STI) Cell (Cell Broadband Engine Architecture, CBEA) processor (used in the Sony PlayStation 3 game console).

If you’re serious about video encoding this card is way more powerful than leveraging your GPU (nothing stops you from using both).

I couldn’t find a retail price on the PxVC1100; from what I’ve read it was delayed, but should be available in the US soon.  I expect it’ll be fairly expensive since Nikkei WinPC’s benchmark showed a high-def video in MEPG-2 TS format was transcoded to H.264 using the WinFast PxVC1000 about 2.9 times faster than a Core2 Q9650 (3GHz).

If you want to check out other vendors that offer a SpursEngine enhancement, some Toshiba Qosmio laptops and the Thomson-Canopus Firecoder Blu PCIe add-on card are candidates.

Originally posted 2009-01-03 12:00:46.

Virtual Server 2005 R2 with Internet Explorer 8

You’ve probably read my rant on IE8 and how broken it is.

If you have IE8, and you need to use Virtual Server 2005 R2 (and perhaps previous versions as well), and you’re tired of having to select compatibility mode manually all the time…

You can add a customer header to your web site to force IE8 into IE7 (compatibility) mode.

However, on a workstation (XP, Vista, etc) that means all of your web sites will force IE8 into IE7 mode; on a server (Server 2003, Server 2008, etc) you can set the header on only the virtual server web site.

Why Microsoft doesn’t issue a hot fix for this is totally beyond me… seem like it would be trivial for them to make the web service app send the META tag; or they could actually address the compatibility issues.

On Vista you’ll find the menu you need via:

  • Computer->Manage->Services and Applications->Internet Information Server->HTTP Response Headers->Add

And the Custom HTTP Response Header you’ll set and value is:

  • Name:  X-UA-Compatible
  • Value: IE=EmulateIE7

On other versions of Windows you just need to get to the IIS management console figure out how to set the custom HTTP header on a site (remember, workstation versions of Windows only have one web site so depending on the version of  Windows you’ll see either ‘default’ or nothing listed).

Originally posted 2009-08-27 01:00:02.

EMail from my domains…

As of 1 March 2010 all of my domains should have both SPF and DKIM support in order to help receiving servers verify that the email is not SPAM.

If you are having problem receiving my email, or my email is ending up in your junk folder, please contact your email provider and query them about this.

Originally posted 2010-03-30 02:00:58.