Monday, December 31, 2007

Garmin Nuvi 680

For a little while, I have been looking for a GPS unit for my car.  I didn't want to buy a new stereo, so I was mainly interested in a portable unit.  I also was interested in one that had traffic information available, as our current one in our van doesn't, and it doesn't help when the route takes you through a traffic jam.

I settled on the Garmin Nuvi 680 because it has some key features:

  • Handsfree bluetooth profile (including displaying phone address book

  • traffic information. (The Nuvi 680 using MSN Direct for this information.  This allows the expected time delay to be displayed on the unit.)

  • MP3 player


The Windows Media Player built-in to Windows Mobile can't play the mp3 streams from SlimServer.  I wanted to be able to listen to all my music where ever I am, without having to have a copy with me.

I found this page that mentioned GSPlayer.  This is a simple Windows Mobile audio player that plays mp3, ogg vorbis and wav files. In addition to local files, it can play various streaming formats.  It works perfectly for playing the streams from SlimServer.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cancelled Blockbuster

We have just cancelled our account.  We weren't watching the movies fast enough to make the membership worth it.  Now when we want to watch a movie, we can either download HD movies on Xbox live or with On Demand on cable.

links for 2007-12-27

Travelling Blogger

I have been looking for a blog editor for my phone for a while.  This would allow me to post to my blogs without using the web interface or through a SMTP gateway.  Travelling Blogger looks to be a potential solution.

 This is a Windows Mobile application that lets you create and edit posts on a blog that supports the MetaWeblog xmrpc API.  Once I configured the information for my blog, it pulled down the list of my existing blog posts.  Then I was able to create a new blog entry.

 This was starting to look promising, but then I realized that it wasn't a WYSIWYG editor.  This means that I would have to enter all of the html tags manually.  Travelling Blogger doesn't support copy and paste from Windows Mobile 6, so it is not easy to transfer text from the built-in browser.

 I was willing to overlook this, and plan on using Travelling Blogger just to post simple text entries, but then it wasn't able to actually post anything to my blog.

 I guess I will just use the web interface, or just wait until I get back to my computer.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Since IMAP is not working with Google Mail and my Windows Mobile phone, I started looking into what other clients I could run on my phone.  FlexMail looked like the best option.

FlexMail integrates SMS, MMS, ActiveSync and POP/IMAP accounts.  You can see all of accounts in an integrated folder list.  Fordisplaying email messages, FlexMail handles HTML messages.  There are tons of options, so you can configure how much mail is downloaded, which way an IMAP folder should be synchronized.

Once I finished configuring it, I noticed that my phone was really starting to drag and actually crashed. Once I disabled it, my phone returned to normal.

I think that what I am going to do is configure the built-in Windows Mobile email client to check my email with POP3.  I will just have to deal with the views of my mail being out of sync on different email clients.  

 [via  Short Nerd Chief]

Samsung SCH-i760

Samsung SCH-i760
Last week, I got a Samsung SCH-i760.  I have been looking for a new phone for a while.  I had been using the limited browser on the E815 for checking email and reading rss feeds.  But the interface is really bad, especially when filling out an html form.

In addition to the SCH-i760, I was also interested in the Verizon Wireless XV6800.  Both of these phone are Windows Mobile phones that have have integrated WiFi, that are available on Verizon Wireless.  I was also interested in these as I could install other programs.  The reason that I picked the SCH-i760, is because there are hard phone key pad.  This makes it easy to dial without having to use the touch screen.

Setting up the phone was pretty painless. I installed The Missing Sync for Windows Mobile on our mac.  The using that, I installed GooSync to get my contacts and calendars that are hosted in Google Calendar on the phone.  Then I installed MilkSync for my task list.  I also configured the mail client to access my GMail account via IMAP.  Lastly, I configured ActiveSync to get my work email/calendar from my work's Exchange server.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Thursday, December 6, 2007

More MP3tunes clients

In September, MP3tunes announed a contest for developers to create clients to play content hosted in MP3tunes lockers.  Today some of the resulting applications were announced. Now you can listen to the music in your locker on a Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3, Windows Mobile devices, Chumbys, and in Eclipse.

 I am looking forward to try this on my new phone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


We have had a iPod in our kitchen for a while.  The iHome IH36 keeps the iPod off the counter, while providing amplified speakers.  Unfortunately, I haven't been completly happy with this solution.  The problem is with the iPod it self, and not the iHome.

The iPod only presents a static view of your music.  In order to refresh it, you need to connect it to your computer.  The staleness problem isn't the only issue that I have.  

I don't have time to create playlists for the iPod, so most often, I just play all of the content in shuffled order.  But this has the problem of playing music that I have no interest in (i.e. Holiday or Children's music).  But even if I avoided that content the mixes are random, so it is hard to get into the music.

I have been looking at the Sqeezebox for a while as a way to solve this problem.  In addition to playing our whole library of content, it can connect to the network for other sources of music.  For example, through their SqueezeNetwork, it can play (and create) Pandora radio streams.  Pandora stations are very good collections of music that relate to one of your songs or artists.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ragtime Call of Duty

This is pretty funny.  The developers of Call of Duty 4 added a cheat mode that lets you play the game like it were a ragtime movie.

[via Wired

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The future of Halo

This is pretty funny:


The Android platform looks like it could result in some very cool phones.  Here is a brief demo that Google posted:

 When I get a chance, I will take a look at the SDK.


[via Google Blogoscoped]

Wii Carnival Games

Wii Carnival GamesI picked up Wii Carnival Games because I though that it would be a good
game for our kids.  It isn't.  It is a pretty bad game.  There are some
things wrong with it.

When you play, you have to create a new
avatar, where you can customize the body and clothing.  Unfortunately,
you can just pick your Mii, and have to waste time creating a new one
that is not usable anywhere else.

Also, even though the game is rated E, young kids will not be able
to win or even score with most of the games, so they get extremely

I wouldn't recommend that you buy this game.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I just heard of reCAPTCHA.  This is a very interesting spin on CAPTCHAs.  Accoring to their web site, 60 million captchas are solved every day.  reCAPTCHA uses part of the effort to "scan" books.

 A reCAPTCHA captcha contains a word that OCR didn't find a match when scanning books from the Internet Archive.  In addition to the word that is not recognized, a successfully scanned word is displayed.  The captcha is considered successfully entered if the known word is entered, and then the answer for the unknown word is added to a database. If enough people enter an unknown word with the same answer, then the probability of the answer being correct goes up.

There are several plugins for blogging systems, as well as a PHP api

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Caltrain in Google Transit

It looks like Caltrain schedule now appear in Google Transit.  Google Transit is a pretty cool site that lets you plan trips, and helps you plan to use public transportaton.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


In this post, I mentioned the PowerBridge.  We ordered two of them for our TVs. The package includes pretty much everything that you need:

  1. 2 old work electical boxes

  2. 1 recessed electical outlet w/ cover

  3. 1 recessed power inlet

  4. extension cord

The only think that you need to supply yourself is romex wire.

The installation was very straight forward and easy.  The only problem that we had was the installation of the old work boxes.  Normally these boxes attach by compressing on both sizes of a sheet of drywall.  Unfortunately, in our house, there is a layer of plywood on the other size of the drywall, so the thickness is too much for the old work box.  Once I worked though that problem the installation worked well.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Update on Flock blog editor

As I have mentioned before, I have been trying to use the Flock block editor to post to my blogs.  Almost everything works, except one major feature.  The WYSIWYG editor isn't really.  If you enter newlines in the text editor, they don't get converted to paragraph tags.  (ecto has an option to enable this.)

 I think that I will just stick to the web based interface provided by LifeType.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Harmony 890

We just rearranged our living room, so now the TV is on a different wall than our AV equipment. Normally an IR remote , like the Harmony 880, would work find, as the IR signal would just bounce off the walls.  But we also moved the couches so, there is no direct line of sight to the AV equipment, unless you point the remote over the side of the couch.

The Harmony 890 solves this problem.  It has the same functionality as the 880, but it also a RF remote.  The box also includes a "remote extender" which converts the RF signal to IR.

The setup of the remote was as easy as the Harmony 880, but in the application, you can configure the remote extender, and specify the devices that should be controlled with it.

The one strange thing is the steps that are required to update the remote.  The update process requires you to connect the remote first, then the remote extender, and then the remote again. Those steps don't even to the pairing, and that is a separate process.  I don't know why it is even necessary to connect to the remote extender anyway,  Ideally you would still specify what devices are controlled by the extender, and which IR blaster port should be used, and the remote should just encode the IR signal in the RF signal.  This way you could send any IR signal through the extender without any special configuration.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Flock blog editor

In this post, I mentioned that I was looking for a good blog editor for Ubuntu.  I saw this article that mentioned Flock, and decided to try it out.  This is a browser, based on Firefox code, that is gear towards social networking.

In addition to social network activities, Flock also included a blog editor.  This allows you to do offline editing of blog entries.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ubuntu media player

When I was using my Mac Book Pro, I used iTunes to play all of my content.  iTunes makes it easy to organize your audio collection as well as play your subscribed podcasts. Obvousily, iTunes will synchronize content with iPods.

When I switched to Ubuntu, I looked for a music player that would have a similar feature set.  I heard about Amarok, but I couldn't figure out how to import the OPML feed from iTunes.  Also I couldn't find a menu to subcribe to a podcast feed url. 

I started to use gPodder, as I was able to import my OPML file, if I posted it to a web accessible place. gPodder uses Movie Player to actually play the content.  This is great as it can play many formats.  Unfortunately, this also means the gPodder can not track podcast play state to know when to delete the file.  Also it doesn't rememer the play position if you pause while playing a partictular eposide.

I took another look at Amarok, and then I relaized that there were a bunch of tabs along the left side. The "Playlist" tab has a "Podcasts" folder.  If you right click on that folder, you can add a podcast feed.  I have added both my audio and video feeds to Amarok.  I listen to the audio podcasts within Amarok, and have configured Amarok to launch Movie Player for video items.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

links for 2007-10-12

TV Wall Mount accessories

Today, I saw these two posts (1, 2)that mention two helpful items when wall mounting a TV.

The PowerBridge is a kit that makes it easy to add a recessed outlet behind a wall mounted TV.  The kit includes all of the items needed, except for the romex wire.

APC offers a wall mounted power filter. This offers surge protection and noise filtering for tvs. The cool thing about is that it is hidden by the TV.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Where's the mount?

Nautilus makes it very easy to mount file servers. When you select "Connect to Server..." and enter the mount information, the mount appears in the UI as a mounted disk.

I would like to be able to use rsync to copy files to and from the mount. The problem is that I don't know where the actual mountpoint is.

If anyone knows where Nautilus mounts servers, please let me know.

copy files with extension

I was looking for a command to copy all of the files with a given extension from one directory to another.  I know I could pipe the output of find to xargs where cp would be run, but you have to take special care to escape the paths. 


Here is a way to do the same thing with rsync:

rsync -azvE -r -m --include "*/" --include "*.mp3" --exclude "*" --verbose --progress /source/path/ /destination/path/

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Switched to Ubuntu

I have switched my main computer from a Mac Book Pro to a laptop running Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon.  I have been pretty pleased with this switch.

There were a few things that made the transition easier:

  • Google Bookmark Sync - As soon as I installed this extension, all of my bookmarks, passwords, cookies, and history appear in the new installation of Firefox.

  • Web based applications - I have been used web based applications for things that are normally desktop applications.  For example, I use the web interface of Google Mail and Calendar for mail and calendar.  I use Remember the Milk for to do list. And Google Docs for word processing and spreadsheets.

  • JungleDisk - Since I used JungleDisk to back up my home directory from my Mac Book Pro, I it was easy to copy all of that data down.  Also it is very easy to transfer files between the computers

 There are still a few things that I miss that are available on Mac OS X

  • A good password manager - On Mac OS X, 1Passwd is great.  It integrates with all browsers, and it uses the built-in keychain.  In addition, it will create secure passwords, all from the browser window.

  • A good MovableType blogging client - ecto is a great application for posting blog entries.  I haven't been impressed with the applications listed in the Ubuntu add/remove application.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Phone Wishlist

I went to the Verizon store today, to check out the latests phones.  There wasn't a single phone that did everything that I wanted.  Here the list of features that I want in a phone:

  • smart phone

  • WiFi

  • Bluetooth

  • Voice dialing

  • qwerty keyboard

  • EV-DO

  • camera phone

  • ability to install applications

    • Google Mail application (I want to view my mail as it is see in the web interface, but the mobile web interface to google mail is pretty limited.)

    • Google Maps

  • Web browser

  • Ability to sync calendar and contacts without a computer.  (Maybe GooSync)

It would also be nice to have:

  • GPS

Tired of DRM

I am just tired of DRM for music.  Recently, I have been trying to figure out the best way to play my music, without using our computers.  For example, I want to play our music on my linux laptop.  Since iTunes doesn't run on Linux, I can't play this music.  (I could run iTunes in wine or in VMWare on the linux laptop, but that is too much of a hassle.)  Also, I am interested in getting a SqueezeBox.  In addition to playing my content, it can play from various internet streaming sources. 

MPtunes is a service that can help facilitate these.  With MP3tunes, you upload your music content to your "locker", and then you can play it on any web connected computer or devices like the SqueezeBox.  You can upload drm-protected content to your "locker", but it will not play on most devices (I assume that it will play when you are accessing the content through iTunes.)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon enters beta

Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) has entered beta.  I have been running the Tribe 5 alpha version for a while, and I have been pretty happy with it.

 [via Download Squad]

$7 CD sale

AnywhereCD is going out of buisness, and is selling CDs and 192kbs mp3s from those CDs for $7 , for a limited time.

 It is unfortunate that this business model failed, as the customer paid full price for a CD, and then got a digital copy of that music file.  (Which they will probably do as soon as they receive the CD.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I have been setting up my new laptop, this weekend, to run Vista and
Ubuntu. The hardest thing so far, is to find replacements for the
various Mac OS X applications that I used. For example, ecto is a great
blog editor for Mac OS X. There aren't many blog editors available for

apt does include some blog editors, but they are pretty limited in
their functionality. Scribefire
is also available, but if I wanted to write blog posts while in my
browser, I will just use my blogging software's web interface.

The best application that I have found so far is Bleezer.
This is a cross-platform java application, that supports many blogging
services. Some of the other features it has are:

  • Image uploading

  • Multiple category support

  • built-in tagging support

  • spell checking

  • integrated xmlrpc pinging

links for 2007-09-23

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

INSTEON SwitchLinc Relay Countdown Timer

We are trying to conserve electricity where ever we can.  We have switched all of our light bulbs, that aren't contolled by dimmer, to compact florescent bulbs.  We also turn off all unnecessary lights.

The lights that have been usually left on, are the one down to and in the garage.  Since we normally keep the garage door closed, I tend to not notice that the light is on, so the light gets left on.  The other problem is that when we are rushing out in the morning, the lights get left on

I wanted to find a solution that would automatically turn off these lights, but I also wanted the light switch to look like a regular light switch.  Unfortunatelly, the motion sensing light switch that we used in our previous house wouldn't work with florescent light bulbs.  Also, many of the timer light switches aren't as easy to use as regular switches.

Friday, September 14, 2007

LockerSync 3.0

In this post I mentioned that I wanted to try MP3Tunes to store all of my music content in a central location where I can have access to it, both inside and out side my house.  I previously had problems uploading my content with their synchronization tools.

LockerSync 3.0 is an new application that performs this same action.  This is working perfectly for me, so now I am in the process of syncing my music collection.

[via Webware]

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wii Remote API

jbanes posted a comment to this post and pointed out the Wii Remote API that can be used by game developers to recognize all of the remote buttons and the accelerometer input.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Self-playing game

Here is a video of a Mario Brothers game that plays itself.
The Only Mario Level That Plays Itself - Watch more free videos

[via Boing Boing]

Updated plugins

Yesterday, I updated some of the plugins for LifeType.

  • reflection - Upgraded to the latest version of the reflection javascript

  • related - Now you can specify the minimum number of keywords that are required to generate a list of related articles.  This should prevent short posts to have a list of not very related other articles.

Monday, September 10, 2007

links for 2007-09-11


I am getting frustrated by iTunes, as I mentioned before.  I decided to look Songbird for playing music.  I am also planning on setting up a dual-boot laptop running Vista and Ubuntu.  Since Songbird is a cross platform application, I can use the same application across all my computers.

When you first start Songbird, it offers to download several helpful add-ons.  The iTunes library importer imports your iTunes library into Songbird.  The QuickTime Playback add-on allows you to play protected AAC files.  And the iPod Device Support add-on, lets you support, well..., iPods.


SCPlugin is a Subversion client for Mac OS X, that integrates svn access directly into the Finder.  This is similar to how TortiseSVN integrates with Windows Explorer.

I had two problems with SCPlugin.

  1. There isn't a way to diff a file or directory from within its contextual menu.  This is a major obmision, as I try and diff my changes before checking in.

  2. It is using a higher version of the svn client library than the version of the command line tool that I have installed.  This causes a problem where if I try and to a commit with SCPlugin, I can not use the command line tool on that directory

[via TUAW]

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


I was looking at the other products that the developer of JollysFastVNC works on, and I saw that he is developing ScreenRecycler.  This looks like a cool product, that lets you use a second computer as a additional display.

This is different than synergy, where you can use the same keyboard and mouse to control two different computers, but with synergy, when the cursor is on the remote computer, you are accessing that computer. 


This week's Pick of the Week on Mac OS X hints, is JollysFastVNC.  This is an amazingly fast VNC client.  It is significantly faster that Chicken of the VNC.  The developer has posted a video showing the speed.

It worked great for me, when connected to my Mac mini running OSXVnc VNC server.  It looks like it currently doesn't support the Tight encoding.  But, event without that it was completely useable when connecting to the Mac mini over the internet.

Remember the Milk Widget

I was taking a look at the third party products that are available for use with Remember the MilkThis Dashboard Widget allows you to view your tasks in the Mac OS X Dashboard.  It is easier to view your tasks in the widget than to launch a browser.

You can mark tasks as complete from the widget, but you can not create new tasks.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

rsync over ssh

I wanted to start using rsync to mirror some our iTunes library across our computers.  On the main computer, I would rsync the iTunes library to our server, and then on all the other computers, I would rsync the library back down.

I also want to run rsync on the server in daemon mode, as there are some nice configuration options to specify "modules" for the different data that I wanted to synchronize.

After looking into this, there were a few things that I didn't like with the default solution.

  1. I  didn't want to open the rsyncd port through my firewall.  (Even though I could have specified authentication crednetials.)

  2. If I want to use rsync's ssh support, and want to define all of the modules in /etc/rsyncd.conf, I would have to give the root user the ability to login in through ssh.

Here is how I set this up:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Posting from within Google Docs

I just discovered this today, and I don't remember hearing about his before.  You can post documents directly to your blog from within Google Docs.  This is very similar to the functionality that Microsoft Word has.

You do this from the Publish tab for each document.  You can configure this for a hosted provider, or any blogging software that supports the standard xmlrpc APIs.

Publish settings:

Publish Settings

Blog Site settings:

Blog Settings-1

Restore from Apple Backup backups

I have not been able to restore files from the backups that I have made with Apple Backup.  When I attempt to restore, using Backup, the progress dialog appears to show the restore working correctly, but the resulting folder doesn't contain any files.

I found this comment on this post that describes a solution.  The backup files created by Apple Backup contain disk images with the files being backuped.  It is easy to get access to the files that you want to recover.

First use Backup to find the backup file that contains the file that you want to restore (if you are using incremental backups).  Then run the following command to mount the disk image:

hdiutil mount -readonly BackupFile.IncrementalBackup/Contents/Contents/Backup.dmg

Thursday, August 9, 2007

.Mac Disk Size

On Monday, Apple announced that all .Mac accounts would be upgraded to have at least 10 GB of space.  This space is really needed as you share more photos and videos. 

Personally, I think that Apple will start using this space for other purposes.  For example, I think that Apple will put any content purchased from the iTunes store on your iDisk.  This would allow any computer where you have entered your .Mac information, to have access to your content.  Also, this would allow an iPhone to content from your whole library, even if it the content is not located on the phone's flash.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Firefox Add-ons

Here is a list of the Firefox extensions add-ons that I have installed:


I heard about madKast on the last GeekNewsCentral podcast.  This looks like a pretty cool way to add a widget to share your posts via email or on social networking sites.

You have to include a javascript in your header, and then the script parses the page to identify the individual posts.  Then it places an icon next to each title.

Madkast Icon

When you click on the icon, a widget appears where you can send the link in an email, or your can post it to various sites.

Madkast Expanded

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Submitting to Akismet from LifeType

I have updated the Akismet plugin for LifeType to allow spam comments to be submitted to Akismet.  This allows users of LifeType to help Akismet catch spam that are being missed.  When installed, you can submit spam from the list of comments.

There are some things that I want to add, when I have some time:

  • Allow a list of comments to be submitted as once

  • Allow comments to be automatically deleted after being submitted (Or at least, mark them as already submitted.)

  • Allow trackbacks to be submitted to Akismet.

The plugin will be available the next time that it is pushed to sourceforge.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Remember the Milk

One of the features that I used to use in iCal that is missing from Google Calendar is task management.  I used to create tasks for repeating items like, flea treating the dog or replacing the furnace filter.  Also I would add entries for projects that I wanted to remember to do.

When I switched to Google Calendar, I created events for these items, as Google Calendar doesn't show tasks from shared calendars.

I heard about Remember the Milk on the podcast today, and I decided to try it out.  This site lets you manage your task list.  In addition to using the web interface on the Remember the Milk web site, you can also add the tasks to Google Calendar and iGoogle.

The other cool thing is that it uses Google Gears, so you can access your To Do list even when you are offline.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Locating access points

I had a quick thought.  At our house we can see a bunch of 802.11 networks, but I have no idea of where the access points are located.

I was thinking that there would be a neat way to locate the access points:

  • Setup three computers running iStumbler

  • Gather the signal strength of all of the visible networks

  • Use that information and the location of the computers to determine where the networks are.

It would be cool if this was added to iStumbler or a plugin for iStumbler would do this automatically

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Dan A. sent me an email in response to the my post about how I wished that the Folding@Home client automatically suspended the client when my Mac Book Pro is on battery power.  He sent a link to InCrease.

InCrease is a Mac OS X GUI for configuring an running the Folding@Home command line client.  In addition to the standard settings, you can have the client automatically pause when the laptop goes on battery power, and you can monitor remote clients.

Unfortunately, I have not gotten this to work for me.  Every time that I attempt to start the clients, I get the following status:

Unit at ~/Library/Folding@home:
cannot start: isWritable YES, hasClient YES, isStopped YES, isLocal YES, owner F@H

I will try a play with this some more to get it to work.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Small servers

These are some pretty cool computers that would be perfect for small servers in your house.  Both of these computers are pretty small, and use a small amount of electricity.

FitpcThe "fit-PC" is a small Linux computer that has a 500Mhz AMD Geode processor with 256MB RAM and 52MB flash.  It also has a 40GB hard drive (I assume a 2.5" drive), USB, serial, audio ports, and a SXGA graphics controller.

I wonder if it would be possible to install everything on flash, and not use the drive.  The cool thing about this product is that you should be able to install any software that you want on it.

links for 2007-07-24

Web based email

I decided to switch to using the web interface for mail, exclusively.  This was working fine without me having to do anything, but I didn't have access to my archive of old mail.  So I decided to copy all of my old mail so I would easily be able to search through it.

The steps weren't exactly straight forward, but this is what worked for me:

  1. Created a Smart Mailbox that contained all of the mail sent or received before I started using Google Apps.

  2. Saved the messages into a single mbox

  3. Send the messages with GMail Loader.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

http:BL plugin for LifeType

I have written a plugin for LifeType that blocks spam comments and trackbacks by blocking clients that are listed on Project Honey Pot's http:BL as having sent comment spam.

It is pretty cool that Project Honey Pot has made this API available to give access to the data that they have collected.  In addition to the API, they have made an Apache module available to block http requests.

The download link will work as soon as the plugin is pushed to sourceforge.  In the mean time, the plugin can be checked out of the subversion repository.

Friday, July 13, 2007

TomTom "real world" navigation

Crave has a post that mentions a patent that TomTom has filed for some some interesting technology.  This patent application describes a navigation unit that displays navigation directions overlaid over video of the surrounding area.

This would allow the arrows that indicate where to turn to be overlaid over the the roads themselves.

I do wonder how funny this will look when the navigation unit looses sync with the GPS satellite.  Will the arrows indicate driving into storefronts?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

iChat annoyance

I have been getting annoyed with iChat. I was working at home today, and every once and a while iChat would loose connections with the AIM and Google Talk servers.  This in it self is not that bad, but what is bad is that it doesn't try to reconnect. 

Skype and web based Google Talk client, which I also have running, don't have this problem.


As I mentioned before, I am looking for a solution to store my music in a common location where it can be accessible all of my computers, where I can play it back on the Mac mini with in a TV interface, and where I can add music just by dropping the files to a folder, and they will automatically appear on all computers.

Then I got an email from MP3tunes mentioning that if you buy the Logitech Squeezebox you can get a one year subscription to the MP3tines Premium Locker for free.  I mentioned before that I thought a Squeezebox would be a good solution, as I know that the SlimServer software will read music files from a shared network mount point.  It looks like the SqueezeBox will play content directly from MP3tunes, so you don't need to leave a computer up.

One other cool thing about MP3tunes is that there is iTunes integration. With this, the tracks in your MP3tunes locker will appear in your iTunes as a shared iTunes Library.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

links for 2007-07-11

MediaCentral revisited

I have been playing with MediaCentral for a while, and I really do like the application.  Unfortunately, it will not do what I want.

The main reason that I am looking for a replacement for FrontRow is because I don't want to have to add music tracks to iTunes in order to play them.  I just want to drop them in a folder and have them accessible.

MediaCentral does have this capability, but unfortunately it takes a long time to display the list of folders if there are a lot of them in the "My Music" folder.  For example, I have 1700 folders (artists) and it takes about 3 minutes to display a list.

Hole in Mac OS X Parental Controls

I mentioned a while ago that I setup our kids' iMac with Parental Controls, so they wouldn't be able to modify the state of the computer.  For example, I did not give them access to modify the Dock, so their programs will remain easy to access.  I also did not give them access to "Open all System Preferences", so they couldn't change the system settings.

I started to notice something strange.  Some programs were starting automatically, that I had not set up.  This was strange to me as I thought that the only way to add login items was through the Accounts Preference Pane, which had been disabled.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Canceling efax

I got another email from efax mentioning the upcoming rate increase.  I mentioned before that I wanted to cancel our service, but this pushed me over the edge.

I called the number on the email and they game me the customer service number.  When I called the customer service number, and selected the option to cancel my account, and was redirected to

When you go to that page, you have to select the "Chat Now. 24x7" button.  Then you have to make your cancellation request via a web based chat session.  (Make sure you answer the question about why you want to cancel fast enough, otherwise they will disconnect the chat, without canceling the account.)

Friday, July 6, 2007

links for 2007-07-07


I mentioned previously that I have been pretty frustrated with FrontRow.  MediaCentral looks like it will do pretty much everthing that I want, and does things that FrontRow doesn't do.

MediaCentral has some pretty cool features:

  • Presents a catalog and can play IPTV streams

  • Plays TV for DVB-T broadcasts

  • Plays various video formats, both from iTunes and accessible in an mounted file system

  • Plays DVDs and DVD VIDEO_TS files

  • Plays music from CDs or iPods

  • Plays music from iTunes Library or files accessible on mounted file systems

  • Plays internet radio stations

  • Skype integration

  • Plays classic video games

  • Views photos from iPhoto or on a mounted filesystem

  • Plays photostreams from .Mac or flickr.

Library Books

Library BooksLibrary Books is a cool application.  This application lets you track the library books that you have checked out.

The cool thing about Library Books is that it connects directly to the library to get the list of books that you have checked out.  Also you can use this application as an easy way to search the libraries catalog.

[via Lifehacker]

Videos in Gallery

Last night, I uploaded some videos to our Gallery2 installation.  Gallery2 supports videos by default, but there are some plugins that you will want to install:

  • ffmpeg - This plugin generates thumbnails for movies.

  • thumbpage - This plugin lets you select a time offset for the frame to be used for the thumbnail.

Even without those plugins, adding movies works fine.  The only things that don't work is the thumbnails don't appear, and playback doesn't happen in the embedded player.

Now that this is working so well, I think that I will be moving the movies that I have hosted on .Mac homepage to Gallery2.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Starting Folding@Home at login

Now that I have started running the Folding@Home clients, I figured that I might as well install it on the kid's iMac, so that when they turn it on it can do something useful in the unused CPU cycles.

The easiest thing to do, and what is recommended in the Folding@Home documentation is to add the command line app to the Login Items in the Account Preference Pane.  The problem with this is that Terminal launches and the output from the tool is piped to the newly opened console.

I wanted to find a solution that would silently run a tool, on login.

Folding @ home on Mac Book Pro

I have been interested in distributed computing projects for a while.  I have decided to try Folding@Home.  One of this projects goals is to help understand the process of protein folding.

When I installed the Mac OS X client on my Mac Book Pro, everything worked correctly.  That is until I disconnected from AC power.  When I did that, the battery was being drained pretty quickly.

The Folding@Home client should have an option that would either pause or slow down processing when the laptop goes into portable mode.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

links for 2007-07-02

Friday, June 22, 2007

Binary marble adding machine

Now this is cool.  This is a 6-bit binary wooden adding machine counts using marbles.  The video is pretty amazing.  A lot of work was put into this.

[via MAKE: Blog]

More iApp annoyance

I have been starting to have frustrating experiences with Apple's iApps.  In this post, I mentioned my frustrations with iTunes and FrontRow.  Now I am having a frustrating time with iPhoto, where it is not doing exactly what I want.

Last night I wanted to upload some photos to our gallery.  The complication arrises because we have a couple of coputers.  My wife uses her computer to load the photos from the camera.  I was trying to upload the photos from my computer.

I use unison to upload the iPhoto library to an external server.  Then I use unison on my laptop and our Mac mini to copy the photos back down.  This worked fine until we upgraded our camera.  Now the large photo size of our 5 mega-pixel camera swamps our upload bandwidth.

iPhone Walkthrough

Apple has posted an iPhone guided tour video on their web site.  I like it a lot, but I am still unsure of the usability with out any tactile feedback.  Also I am concerned about the screen getting scratched.  In addition to those two concerns, I don't want to switch to AT&T for cell service.

[via The Macalope]

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

links for 2007-06-21

Crystal Weather Station

Crystal Weather StationThis is a cool looking weather station.  The Crystal Weather Station has laser engraved 3D icons in crystal.  One of the coolest things about this clock is that you can switch between temperature and clock mode by waving you hand over the clock.

[via Engadget]


autoHideStatusbar is a pretty simple Firefox extension, that... automatically hides the status bar.  This is an easy way to squeeze a little screen area for your browser window. 

You can configure it to automatically show the status bar when you hover the mouse over the the status bar area, or over a link (to see the destination url).

[via Lifehacker]

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mac Media Center

I really like the Mac Mini and FrontRow as a way to play media.  The interface is great.  The one part of this solution that I am getting frustrated with is how to copy tracks to it.  Since FrontRow uses iTunes to play audio tracks, they need to be copied to the iTunes library.

I wrote this AppleScript to copy newly added tracks to the hard drive on the Mac mini and then add them to the iTunes library.  This works fine, if you want to keep the content on the computer itself.  I now want to keep my content on my Network Attached Storage. 

Copying content to the NAS works perfectly for video content, as FrontRow will make videos available that are on a remove file system, when you add an alias to the remote directory on the local hard drive.  This doesn't work for audio, as you not only want to make the content playable, but you want to have it indexed by the meta data.

Eclipse Area Shot GPS

Eclipse Cd5100As I have written before (1, 2, 3, 4) , I am would like to get a single-DIN GPS head unit that is able to control an iPod, satellite radio tuner and can be used for hands free phone calls.  Yesterday, I was just browsing around and I found The Eclipse CD5100.

This head unit has some pretty cool features:

  1. HD radio ready (with an external tuner)

  2. iPod control capable (with iPod adapter cable)

  3. Satellite radio ready (with an external tuner)

  4. USB port, to allow playback of WMA and MP3 files.

The one feature that I wasn't sure of is called Area Shot GPS.  After looking into it, I know that I wouldn't want this head unit.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Car Talk on iTunes

CartalkNPR's Car Talk is now available on the iTunes Store as a podcast.  This makes listening to the show on your iPod easier than this hint.

[via Autoblog]

Friday, June 1, 2007

Updated Related Posts plugin

I have updated the Related Posts plugin for LifeType with some features:

  1. Added the option to get keywords out of the body of the message, instead of just the title.  (This does cause generating related posts to take longer.)

  2. Added the ability to specify words that should be not used to generate the list of related posts.

This will be available for download as soon as the plugins are pushed to sourceforge.

Unlocking Raspberry Pi Potential: Navigating Network Booting Challenges for Enhanced Performance and Reliability

I've set up several Raspberry Pis around our house for various projects, but one recurring challenge is the potential for SD card failur...