A Political Message

Political commentary is a little out of place for my BLOG, and the most important message for this post is CHECK and DOUBLE-CHECK everything everyone says and make sure EVERYONE votes!

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I’m not sure how much of this is “true” and how much of it is spin — obviously Rolling Stone Magazine isn’t in the Fox Network camp of supporting McCain, and certainly Tim Dickinson has very different political ideas than Barbara West; but the story is very interesting reading — and hopefully we’re all aware you can take “factoids” and make them say anything you want…

Do you homework, check every fact in multiple places before you believe it… odds are no one is telling you more than they want you to hear, and there’s almost always more to the story.

Regardless of your political views, and regardless of who you support in this election the most important thing you can do is vote and insure that every one else (regardless of their ideas) vote and that no one prevents them from voting or coerces their vote in any way.  Voting is what makes America free and great, and in this election we need to insure that the winner is clear and uncontested by having everyone cast their ballot.

Make-Believe Maverick (Rolling Stone Magazine, Tim Dickinson)

Loving John McCain (The Nation, Eric Alterman & George Zornick)

 

http://www.votesmart.org/

http://www.factcheck.org/

 
I was considering some links to Veteran sites (there’s actually several that support each of the candidates) and news media (but most of those are very biased).  The problem is there that so much of information that is spun it’s hard to sort the truth out.  I would suggest sticking with sites that try to provide information that is as un-biased as possible.  Keep in mind, if a “fact” seems unbelievable, maybe you shouldn’t be too quick to believe it.

I’ve decided to close this post with one of the most positive and well done political advertisements of memorable time.

Originally posted 2008-10-29 20:00:58.

SFF-8484 to 4 x SATA Cables

I just purchased a Dell PERC 5/i (basically an LSI 8404) RAID card off eBay and I needed to purchase two SFF-8484 cables to connect it to my SATA hot swap bays.

There seems to be a great deal of confusion on eBay from vendors that have these cables — many of the vendors just don’t know what they have; and it’s important to know, since there are two different cables fitting the general description — and they are not interchangeable.

The cable I needed could be identified by a Trip Lite part number S502-01M or an Adaptec part number 2167000-R (discontinued) or a StarTech part number SAS84S450.

The description should contain the key phrase that the cable is used to attach a SAS (or SATA) HBA (Host Bus Adapter) to individual SATA drives.  The description should not mention anything about hooking up a SATA controller to a SATA/SAS back plane.

What’s the difference in the cables???

Well, the SAS controller to SATA device cable is straight through; the SATA controller to SAS back plane has the RX and TX swapped… and generally speaking there’s not a lot of call for the SATA controller to SAS back plane so those will be the least expensive, and the most prevalent on eBay.

The sellers who do know what they have, and advertise it as such want a phenomenal price for the cables (they’re only $19.99 on Amazon, buy the two you’ll need and they ship free)…

Do your home work and ask your questions before you commit to buy on eBay — particularly if it’s from China or Hong Kong (it’ll take several weeks to get the item, and returning it will be half the price you paid).  While Amazon’s gone down hill a great deal recently; it’s still easy to return, and in the long run you might save both time and money.

SFF-8484
Tripp Lite S502-01M

Originally posted 2010-11-13 01:00:28.

AT&T + T-Mobile = Just Say NO

On 20 March 2011 AT&T made a public offer of $39 billion to Deutsche Telekom for the purchase of their cellular operations in the United States — better known by their brand name T-Mobile.

It’s anyone’s guess is they can get this acquisition through the regulators; but one thing is for sure with AT&T taking the low-cost national competitor out of the running we’re probably not going to see cellular prices come down — and we’re very likely to see them go up.

T-Mobile and AT&T both operate GSM 3G and plan to offer LTE 4G services; they chose different enhanced 3G data services and they own different spectrum (the frequency they operate on).

Why AT&T wants T-Mobile is simple — larger customer base, more spectrum; the translates into lower cost per customer, and the ability to grow.

And, this acquisition will make AT&T the largest cellular provider in the United States… close to 130 million subscribers, leaving Verizon Wireless a distant second — and Sprint so far back they can’t even see the race.

There will still be a number of regional carriers that operate GSM networks; but once AT&T can set roaming rates they won’t have much trouble killing off the competition.

AT&T has tried to sweeten this deal with it’s pledge to cover 95% of the population of the United States with it’s LTE 4G network… of course I have to point out that that will leave huge rural areas of the country with no 4G service (pretty much the same ares that currently have no 3G service).

My advice — just say NO — and let your elected representatives hear that from you over and over starting now.

Originally posted 2011-03-26 02:00:54.

Pharos GPS 150

Several months ago I purchased a Pharos GPS 150 at Fry’s for $149 with a $50 Mail-In-Rebate.

The Pharos GPS 150 is identical to the Pharos GPS 250 except with a smaller screen; and both run Windows CE and their own Ostia mapping / navigation software.

It’s a nice device, the only real short coming of it is that inability to manage addresses from a computer… but the mapping software is loaded onto an SD card, and it’s easy to remove — just break that warranty seal on the side and under it you’ll find an SD slot with a 1GB SD card in it.

To do any of the hacks you’re going to need to invest in a 2GB SD card.  I would recommend getting a fast card, because the performance of the device will suffer if you get a really slow card.  But that said, for $10 or less you should be able to buy a 100x 2GB SD card (I got one at Fry’s for $7.99 and got one free at Micro Center).

There are a number of hacks for the GPS, from adding more applications to it to allow you to watch videos, play music, view documents.

The other hack of interest is to take Tom Tom’s software they sell for Mobile Phones (and other Windows CE devices) and load it onto the GPS.  You could of course purchase the software from Tom Tom, and you can probably find it on a P2P network if you just wanted to try it out before you bought it.  Again, this software isn’t what they load onto their GPS units, but it is very similar.  Oh, if you want to try Tom Tom, make sure you get some maps (preferably of your immediate geographic area).

The instructions for hacking the GPS are fairly straight forward, but remember, copy your original SD card to somewhere safe, copy it to somewhere to modify it, and put the original card in a safe place… and don’t put your original SD card back into your computer.  If you manage to destroy your backup then it’s time to take a break and get away from the computer.

For a $100 GPS the unit’s quite capable without any hacks applied; but the ability to “customize” it makes it that much better of a buy.

FYI: retailers sell the Pharos device under private labels, and you should be able to hack those devices as well, but read up on the forums before you spend any money on what you think is a private label Pharos device.  While you can probably get the sticker off and put it back on without anyone being the wiser, some retailers charge restocking fees for non-defective GPS units, and only allow exchanges for defective ones.

Here are some useful links, you can do a search to find more.

 

Pharos GPS 150 Product Information

Pharos GPS 150 Hack – Details, with Tom Tom Information

Pharos GPS 150 Hack – Simplified, with Extra Applications

Originally posted 2008-05-15 21:34:33.

Big toys for big boys…

I did some major tree trimming this past weekend, and rented a “Nifty Lifty” lift to do the job.

First I “topped” a tree in the back corner of the yard that the top had died.  The tree itself was in pretty good shape, but for some reason (I’m guessing that the roots were being choked out by a lot of the vegetation that I’d cleared) the top 30 feet had died.  This was easy, plenty of open space around it, and fairly easy to get the lift into position.  And I did what appeared to be the easiest tree first to get used to operating the lift.

Second, I took out one tree near the front of the house that the top had died.  It would have been a very easy tree to take out, except that it was leaning precariously close to the house and almost over the power lines.  It had to be taken out a few small sections at a time until the tree was well below the roof line of the house.

Third, I trimmed a number of branches from another tree in the front of the house that were over-hanging the power lines.  These proved to be a little bit of a challenge because of the height and weight of the branches.  One of the branches was almost 6 inches in diameter, the other was about 4 inches in diameter and the larger branch needed about 25 feet trimmed, the smaller branch needed about 30 feet trimmed.  With the life extended to it’s full height, it was a little shaky, and definitely a slow process taking out the sections of the limbs.

Fourth, I trimmed a few limbs that were over the house from a tree in the side yard.  Except for one of the branches this proved to be straight forward (after the experience from the tree in the front yard hanging over the power lines this was a piece of cake).  However, the last limb was about 40 feet above the ground and extended well past the ridge of the house — there seemed to be no way to trim this without potentially damaging the roof since there was just no way to get to end of the branch to lighten it.  My brother-in-law came up with the idea of using a very long pole saw from the life to cut off small sections of the limb.  It was slow go, and a little uncomfortable working that far off the ground with a 18 foot pole saw; but it worked, and the limb came down section by section without damaging anything.

Of course, the work just started after getting the trees and branches down.  There was an unbelievable amount of small limbs and leaves to haul away, and there’s still lots of fire wood to cut and haul away.

Originally posted 2009-08-14 01:00:16.

Promise NS4300N NAS

I’ve been a reasonably big fan of Promise in the past; their PCI IDE cards worked well, their PCI SATA cards worked well, their 16 Channel SATA2 RAID5 PCIe cards worked fine, and their NAS box seemed like a really good buy.

When I first got the box almost two years ago it worked fine; it had a few issues (like the lack of hard drive spin-down, even though there tech support insisted it had it)… but in general it was a reasonable buy.

A week ago I invested in some 1.5TB Seagate SATA2 drives to upgrade my Promise, their web site indicated that the new firmware that was just released supported the drives so I felt fairly confident in buying them.

Well, the answer is, you can four 1.5TB drives in the box, but you cannot use more than three of them in a RAID array… seems like maybe they never tested it with four drives (wow — a four drive NAS not being tested with four drives).

What happens i that you can build out all the drives, put content on them, but when you reboot — the box complains of file system errors and the only thing you can do is start over — losing the content of your RAID (I hope you haven’t depended on your RAID actually being fault tolerant… if you have you’re SOL).

I figured yeah, this is a bug, I’ll just file a trouble report with Promise and get an ETA on a fix.

I submitted the trouble report (after having to go through way too much of a hassle to setup an account there), got a confirmation email that indicated I’d get a response within one business day…

Let’s see, that’s been almost a week ago — and I don’t have an ETA on a fix, I don’t have any response from them (not even one that says that they’re looking into it — aware or it — or anything).

Let’s face it, if a vendor can’t meet the low-bar expectations they’ve set by actually providing a reply within one business day, what confidence should I have in them that they will ever be able to actually fix the problem and maintain reasonable quality.

All I have to say is that I’m glad my last two RAID controllers came from one of Promise’s competitors — and I guarantee you my next RAID controllers and NAS boxes will likely not come from Promise!

Originally posted 2008-11-20 12:00:04.

Sprint 4G Surcharge

So I was looking at Sprint devices, plans and coverage — they have the Samsung Galaxy S 4G handset, and their model includes a slider qwerty keyboard (I really like keyboards on smart phones)… of course we’re talking about Sprint’s network, which has marginal service in this area and no 4G within about 300 miles (and likely no 4G for a very long time any where around here) but the interesting thing is they still insist on charging a $10 4G surcharge for plans on 4G phones even when the phone is used in 3G service areas…

Personally I feel that if a cellular company is going to charge me a surcharge for enhanced speed (and features) that I should be getting those features…

I don’t think I’d be too keen on Sprint for anyone of a number of reasons…

Let’s see, first and foremost would be a horrible experience with Sprint and Sprint’s billing practices when they first started.  And their CEO can keep apologizing about it, but the bottom line is I wouldn’t tend to try Sprint unless they offered me a deal that was just incredible (and charging me for a service I’m likely never to get isn’t a way to make me feel like it’s a deal I can’t refuse).

Then there would be the fact that their service and coverage here is abysmal — even worse than AT&T!!!  In fact, their service is so spotty they actually caution you about it on their web site when you go to browse phones and plans.

Then, they choose WiMax rather than LTE (like the rest of the world).  Though since they’re depending on Clearwire for WiMax services and Clearwire has been showing more and more interest in LTE (and ditching WiMax — which probably doesn’t make Intel happy) who know if Sprint will actually really keep rolling out WiMax or shift to LTE.

Anyway; I like the Galaxy S… but I’m holding out for HTC to make a high end Android phone with a slider and I’d prefer it to be a CDMA/GSM/LTE handset.

Originally posted 2010-10-15 02:00:34.

FileZilla – The free FTP solution

If you have a need to transfer files via FTP, SFTP, SCP, etc and you prefer to user a graphical user interface on a Windows, Mac, or Linux machine — then the Open Source FileZilla is a very good solution to consider.

Just download the client, install it, and within a few moments you’ll have a connection to a server (that you can save the information for quick reuse if you like).  The interface is clean and easy to understand, and supports drag-and-drop as well as transfers from the multi-pane manager.

And, you can’t beat the price – FREE.

http://filezilla-project.org/

Originally posted 2011-09-13 02:00:47.

A signature Mac Book

But not from Steve Jobs, but rather Steve Balmer.

Last week Steve Ballmer, CEO Microsoft Corporation, participated in a meet and greet after speaking at Nashville Technology Council (held at Trevecca Nazarene University) and was ask to sign an individual’s aluminum Mac Book — and he did, right across the Apple logo!

Originally posted 2010-01-28 01:00:23.

OS-X 10.6 – Snow Leopard

I’ve upgraded my [Intel] Macs to OS-X 10.6 – Snow Leopard, and all of the upgrades went fine; of course, they all had OS-X 10.5 – Leopard – with the latest updates applied, so I had every expectation that the install would go fine.

I tried to upgrade my sister’s [Intel] MacBook (Gen2) from OS-X 10.4 – Tiger – to OS-X 10.6 – Snow Leopard… and it looked like the upgrade was going to go fine until it sat at twelve minutes remaining for almost three hours.

I was a little nervous when I powered down the MacBook with the installation hung and let it reboot (the system drive wasn’t bootable, so it started up from the Snow Leopard image without asking).  Fortunately the installer recognized that the disk had once contained OS-X and was able to install a new version onto it without loosing all the settings.

While the install didn’t go very smoothly, and it took on the order of five hours, it worked… but you might not want to do and upgrade installation on any Mac that isn’t running the 10.5.

One final note; I find it amazing that Mac bigots are totally blind to how much OS-X is like Windows… I just can’t figure out whether Mac users just aren’t very smart, or they’ve been brain washed.

Originally posted 2009-10-27 01:00:44.