Thursday, December 18, 2008


Since we have transitioned from using our macs to using Windows and Linux, we haven't had a solution for importing our movies from our camcorder.  I looked today for an application that has the same functionality as iMovie for my linux laptop.  Kino looks like it will do the job.

You can import your video via firewire into Kino.  Kino will control a DV camcorder during the import.  Then you can edit and export into various formats.  It seems that Kino is faster at exporting to flv or mpeg4 than iMovie is.

The only problem that I had was when I initially tryed to import the video.  I got an error message that stated: "raw1394 kernel module not loaded or failure to read/write /dev/raw1394" To fix this, I needed to give myself permsion to access /dev/raw1994

 chmod 777 /dev/raw1394

Sunday, December 14, 2008


A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of Lips. Lips is a karaoke party video game.  The game play is pretty simiar to the rythm based music games, but instead of pushing buttons in time with an onscreen display, you have to sing along with the song.  Using the included microphones the game detects your pitch and compares it to what it thinks is appropriate for the song.

They put a lot of nice touches on the microphones.  There are embedded LEDs that pulse and change colors with the music.  Also, there is an embedded accellerometer in the mic, and you can impove your score in the game by moving around.  In a party situation, other people who are not singing, can use the controllers to play backup instruments.

I am not a singer, my wife is, but this can be a fun game, especially in a party situation.  

I do have some problems with the game. The main problem that I have is that it appears that this game was ported to the Xbox 360, but doesn't correctly implement some of the main features.

  1. Achievements - Most games that allow multiple to play on a single Xbox 360 use the Xbox user that is associated with a controller to determine who gets Xbox Achievements.  So normally, if I and my wife are logged in, I will get achievements for the accomplisments that I do, and she will get them for hers.  But in Lips, only the person who launched the game gets the achievements, even if they were earned by the other player.

  2. Downloadable Content - Most games that have downloadable content will use that content, if one Xbox account has downloaded it (The DRM that the Xbox 360 uses makes content available to every user on the first Xbox that downloaded it and the user who authorized the download on any Xbox.   But not Lips.  In Lips only the user who downloaded the content can use it to sing.  So if a different user launches Lips, that content is not available.

Update: This problem has been discussed the Lips Xbox forums.  You need to launch Lips as each user that wants to access the DLC.  Then you need to select the content that you want to add to your library.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Potential Problem with Google Friend Connect

I really like the potential of Google Friend Connect.  The ability to add social network features to any web site is pretty cool.  One problem that I have is that I have to change the way that I read information to take advantage of Friend Connect.

I normally read blogs through Google Reader.  When I do this, I miss all of the social enhancements provided by Friend Connect.  What would be cool would be if Google Reader could present a Google Connect widget if you are reading a feed where the main site has the widget installed.  Then you would be able to see what other users are reading.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Google Friend Connect

Google has released Friend Connect today. Friend Connect allows you to add social network features to any web site.

I have installed it on this blog, as I am curious on how it takes off.

[via Official Google Blog]

Outlook / Google Calendar Sync

As I have mentioned before, I have been playing with solutions to get my Google Calendars to sync with my iPhone.  I had settled on using NuevaSync to sync calendar events wirelessly to my phone.  I have gotten fed up with the fact that on my phone, all of the calendars got merged, so it is hard to look at events.

On my wife's computer, I had installed OggSync.  This syncs her calendar to Outlook.  Then from there, the calendars will can be sync'd to Mobile Me.

Yesterday, I found SyncMyCal.  This essentially has the same functionality as OggSync, but it seems more polished.  Both offer free and paid vesions.  I installed it on my computer, and it works well.  I think that I will uninstall OggSync from my wife's computer and install 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Audio mixing with VMWare on Linux host

Ever since I switched to VMware from VirtualBox I have had a problem with audio.  If I launch VMware after launching an application that has played some audio, the audio will not work from guest OS.  Also, if I launch VMware first, no Linux application will be able to play audio.

It looks like the problem is that VMware is using OSS for audio, while the sound mixer that Ubuntu uses is ALSAThis forum has instructions to get this to work.  Essentially the solution is to use the alsa-oss library to have VMware audio go through alsa.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

24 hours of Google Reader Shared Items

In this post, I decribed that I wasn't able to have Google Reader export a feed of the last 24 hours of shared items. The feed that is generated by Google reader uses the publish date from the original article as the pubDate of the item in the feed.  It would be great if Google embedded the "shared" date in the feed for each item.

In the mean time, I have created a Yahoo Pipe that will do this.  Unfortunately, this requires that the previous period's feed needs to be saved somewhere where this script can access.  I have set a cron job to fetch the feed once a day.  Then the yahoo pipe  uses that cached feed and compares it with the latest feed.

links for October 2, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


When using a Mac as a main computer, I was able to create an overly complicated setup that would allow me to sync my iPhone wirelessly with Google Calendar/Contacts.  But this doesn't work on my linux computer.  When I was looking foa a solution I found a link to NuevaSync.

NuevaSync is a Exchange "proxy" for Google Calendar/Contacts.  This allows the iPhone to be configured to sync to thie Google apps.  This solution acually makes MobileMe unnecessary. This article has a good walkthough for configuring NuevaSync with an iPhone.

This has been working fine for me on my iPhone.

One problem that is being worked on is better support for multiple calendars.  Also another annoyance, with the iPhone and not with NuevaSync is that you can not connect to multiple Exchange servers.  I would like to connect to my work's Exchange server for mail, but connect to NuevaSync for Calendars and Contacts.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Virtual Machines

VirtualBox is a free virtual machine that I have been using for a while It worked perfectly to run Windows XP on my Ubuntu computer. VirtualBox is available for Mac, WIndows and Linux. Connecting my iPhone didn't work. It looks like there is a bug where a connected iPhone is not recognized with VirtualBox.

This isn't a problem in VMware Workstation. I tried the 30 day free trial and it worked with the iPhone. I was able to easily transfer the data from my VirtualBox VM to VMware Workstation.  I backed up the VirtualBox to the Windows Home Server.  Then in the VMware Workstation VM, before I installed an OS, I put in the client restore CD.  This allowed me to restore the image to the new vm.

Moving to Windows

About the time that we got our new Dell M1530, the internal video card on our MacBook Pro died.  My wife is now trying to use the M1330 as her personal computer.  I erased the Ubuntu partition and installed WIndows Vista on it.  Also, since our Mac OS X machine was disabled, I have installed Windows XP in a virtual machine on my Ubuntu m1530 to do everything that I can't do in Ubuntu.

There are several things that I have noticed about Windows:

  1. The backup functionality in Windows Home Server works perfectly with Windows machines.  (I actually have used this to rebuild a machine and it worked perfectly)

  2.  There is no calendar program.  I don't get how Microsoft can ship an OS that doesn't have a calendar program.  Mac OS X ships with iCal.  You would think that Microsoft would want a computer to be functional for a family with just the base OS install.  They ship a mail program, photo and video editing programs, but no calendar.  This means that I can not sync my calendar with MobileMe.

  3. I am getting tons of errors from MobileMe Sync on both XP and Vista.  The errors state things like "a sync in progress" or my "MobileMe account is expired".

  4. The Windows version of Quicken is so much more functional that the Mac version.  Once I confugured Quicken for our accounts, it automatically configured itself to use the online bill pay from the bank.  With Quicken for the Mac, you have to use a third party bill pay service.

Vista on Mac mini

I installed Windows Vista on our Mac mini.  I wanted to document the process, in case I need to do this again.

When I started, I use the Mac OS X installer to  create two partitions.  One 12Gb partion for Mac OS X and the rest for windows.  This didn't work, as BootCamp can not be enabled unless you have more than several GB of space availble.  So, I had to create one partition and then reinstall Mac OS X.  Once I did that, then I could use the Boot Camp installer to resize the Mac OS X partition and install Windows.

The other problem that I had was that the DVD drive on the Mac mini is starting to malfunction.  I was able to install Mac OS X by putting the Mac mini in Firewire Disk Mode, and using the MacBook Pro to actually do the installation.  Unfortunately, you can not install Windows like this.  You only can enable Boot Camp on the internal drive.  Also, you can't use an external USB DVD drive to install windows, as Mac hardware.  Luckily, I was able to get Vista installed by rebooting without the DVD inserted, and the option key held down.  Then when in the disk selection screen appears, insert the Windows DVD, and then boot into the installer.

I was using our LCD TV as a monitor for the Mac Mini.  Once Windows was installed, I wasn't able to see any video when setup assistant started.  I had to switch to a different monitor that supported that resolution so I could finish the setup.

Once, I installed Apple's drivers everything worked perfectly.  Media Center works on this, and I am able to access this on the Xbox through Media Center extender.

I have installed TVTonic and MyMovies.  I have set up several video feeds in TVTonic, and now I need to start creating images for our DVDs.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Insecure wifi

I was at a Starbucks last week, waiting for my appointment at the DMV.  This was the warning that Firefox 3 showed me, when I attempted to log on to the wifi network there. 

Insecure wifi

Starbucks and TMobile need to fix their ssl certificates.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

links for September 6, 2008

Squeezebox Boom

Squeezebox BoomThe two Squeezebox Booms that I ordered arrived a few days ago, and I have to say that they have lived up to my expectations.

When you open the box, the first thing you see is a velvet-like bag, containing the Squeezebox Boom, that has the Logitech logo on it, and an orange tag that states Sqeezebox.  When you take the Squeezebox Boom out of the bag, I noticed that it has a solid feel to it.

The setup of this is exactly the same as the other Sqeezebox devices.  Once configured for our wireless network, it automatically saw the install of SqueezeCenter running on our Windows Home Server, and was able to play the music.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

iPhone Gmail behavior

I noticed an interesting behavior in the iPhone's Gmail implementation.  When I delete a message from the inbox, I expected this to behave the same as it does with IMAP, where deleting a message from the inbox just Archives the message.

But in the case of the iPhone, deleting a message actually deletes the message, (moves it to Trash on gmail).  So if you want to just archive a message you need to move it to the "All Mail" folder.

It looks like this has been documented.

iPhone Syncing

Now that we have our iPhones I wanted to find a solution for both my wife and I to sync our data from our Google Apps domain to our phones.  Ideally, I would have liked our phones to sync directly to Google, but that is not available, so I needed something to work on my wifes Macbook Pro and my linux laptop.

For my wife, we are using Spanning Sync to sync Google Calendar to iCal.  Then we sync her iCal and Address Book to Mobile Me (or actually .Mac, since we are still running 10.4.x).  Then her iPhone syncs with Mobile Me wirelessly.  This allows her to modify her calendar on her iPhone, or her Mac.  Also she can use either Google Calendar or Mobile Me to modify or view the calendars on the web.

For me, I don't have my ideal solution.  I am using Google Calendar for my calendar, but since there isn't a solution on that will run on linux that will sync to Mobile Me, and am just using the web interface to the calendar on the phone.  For contacts, I manually imported my contacts to Mobile Me, and then just sync directly to my phone.

Ideally, I will have a solution for my calendar, that would allow me to use the phone's calendar application.  Since I doubt that Apple will allow syncing directly to Google, I think that answer is either:

  • Have Spanning Sync syncronize accounts that are not currently logged in.

  • Use Mobile Me sync and OggSync on the Mac mini that will be running Windows Vista


So my wife and I joined the crowd and got iPhone 3Gs.  Now that we have them, we are enjoying them, but it was a pretty big hassle to get them.

I got to the Apple Store pretty early in the morning, and there wasn't a line for iPhones.  An Apple Store employees got the two iPhones and started activating the first.  The Symbian device lost connection to the service, but after the AT&T Wireless account was created, and after the phone number port started, but before the number was added to the account.

When he got another Symbian device, further attempts to continue the setup kept failing.  It looks like Apple's system to register iPhones will only work if the device actually does the registration, and will not work if the phone is configured via the phone with AT&T support.  We were on hold with AT&T for over 2 hours, talking to 7 different people at AT&T.

Finally we got the phones registered.  What we had to do was add the iPhones to the account with new phone numbers.  Then with the AT&T support rep on the phone, the numbers were switched to the numbers that were were attempting to port.

I do appreciate the time that the Apple Store rep spent with settiing this up.

One other problem arose.  The microphone on my wife's iPhone didn't work so I took it back to the Apple Store and they did replace it, without too much hassle.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Squeezebox Boom

Squeezebox Boom
A while ago, I wrote about how I would love a Squeezebox that is integrated with speakers.  This would make it a perfect solution for our kids rooms.

Squeezebox/Logitech just announced the Squeezbox Boom, which is exactly what I want.  With this, we don't have to deal with playing cds that skip because the kids have scratched them.  I am definitely ordering one of these.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Windows Media Center

I am thinking about installing Microsoft Windows Vista Media Center on our Mac mini, espcially since our Xbox 360 is doing everything that the Mac mini used to do.  I am planning on keeping the Mac mini in the closet, near our Windows Home Server, and then I would view this content on the Xbox 360 through Windows Media Extender.

There are several things that I would be able to do with this setup:

  • Install TVTonic to have access to "Internet TV" and video podcasts  (The 2008 Olympics is available this way)

  • Play ripped DVDs that are hosted on the Windows Home Server (1, 2)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

AAC, SqueezeCenter and Windows Home Server

On my Windows Home Server, I have installed SqueezeCenter.  This allows our SqueezeBox to play out music, and we don't need to leave a separate computer on.  I noticed that aac files were not playing, but the SqueezeBox was just skipping over them.

When I looked at the configuration of SqueezeCenter aac files are transcoded with mov123.  This program is essentially just a wrapper for QuickTime.  The problem is that Windows Home Server doesn't come with QuickTime installed.

I didint want to install QuickTime, as this install brings of other stuff that I didn't want.  (i.e. Apple's Software Update)  I found this thread that describes mplayer and faad as alternatives to mov123. 

After spending several hours to get either mplayer or faad to work, I decided to just install QuickTime.  I had to search on Apple's support site for a link to a version of QuickTime that would install on the home server.  (The latest version of QuickTime requires XP or Vista, and the home server is running a deritive of Windows Server 2003

Posting daily activity

A while ago, I configured to post the list of bookmarks from that day on my blocg.  For some reason this stopped working for me.  I like these type of automatic posts, as it makes it easy to share various pages.

I decided to write a plugin for LifeType that will import a rss feed, and then "summarize" the rss items and create a post with this text.  I probably could have gotten the blog posting to work, but If I created the plugin, this woud allow me to include Google Reader shared items, or Twitter tweets in the post.

links for August 20, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

WHS Download Manager

Our Windows Home Server is running all of the time, so I would love to use this machine as a way to download large files, especially when I am not at home.  I thought that WHS Download Manager would do exactly that I want.  This Add-In allows you to specify urls to be downloaded and where to download the files to.  Unfortunately, the only way to access this is trough the Windows Home Server Console.  So, if I wanted to start a download when I am not at home, I need to vpn into my network, and then rdp into my server.

I am thinking that uTorrent and the Windows Home Server Add-In would be a better solution, at least for torrent files. At least with this solution would allow me to use a web browser to start the downloads.

email security

I have used gpg, off an on, for several years now.  I have always liked the ability to confirm that I was the one that actually sent an email, and the ability to send an email and know that the receipient is the only one that can read the email.

Originally when I started to use gpg, the only way to sign a message was to incude the text based signature.  Then SMiME allowed the signature to be included as an attachment.  The problem that I have had is to explain to people that I am sending the email to what the attachement is or what the text at the bottom of the message is.

I think that I will have to come up with a good description that I can put in the signature comment that can help explain what the signature is.

So now, I am using FireGPG when I use the Gmail web interface, and Thunderbird with the Enigmail support  when I am using the desktop client.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

GParted Live-CD

On my laptop, I haven't booted into Windows for several months, and I am running out of free disk space, so I decided that I would delete my windows paritions and then resize my root partition.  This page mentions the GParted Live-CD as an easy way to accomplish this.

Once I booted the CD, it was very easy to delete the partitions, and specify the size of the root partition.  I was a litte worried about my situation, because my existing parition needed to be moved in addtion to being resized.

But it worked perfectly, and after a few hours, my parition is 70GB larger.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Boxee looks like a pretty interesting "10 foot" experience for watching content from your computer.  Recently they announced a linux version, and I was interested in trying it out on my XPS m1330, especially since Joost is not available for linux.

The install was very easy, but I have not been able to successfully run it.  When I try an launch it, the window appears, but it never finished drawing.  Also, I am not able to select anything.

I have installed it, and may install it again when it enters beta.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Skype for Windows Mobile

This post mentions that the Windows Mobile version of Skype has been upated.  We use Skype at work, so I was interested in trying this out.

The download and install went well.  I was able to use it to send text messages, but I wasn't able tomake a voice call.  I am not sure if it is possible for Skype to use the microphone on my phone to send audio to Skype.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Changing publish date of feed

I am trying to figure out how to process a rss feed and have the publsh dates of the items change to "now".  I know that I can use magpierss to do this, but I wanted to see if I can do this in Yahoo Pipes

I created this pipe, which should do what I want, and it looks like it is working in the debugger.  But, when you look at the resulting rss output, the publish date of the items aren't changed.


The HP Media Smart Server Update includes the optional PVConnect add-in.  PVConnect is a DNLA compliant media streaming server.

I am trying to figure out why someone would want to install this. There seem to be several problems, some with workarounds, with running this add-in:

Windows Home Server already has a DNLA server.  I haven't seen anything that explicitly calls out the features that PVConnect adds.  If I could find something that would state that this will transcode all of the vidoes that I have, that are not supported by our Xbox 360, so I could play them, I would install it.

Series3 update

After talking to some friends at TiVo, it looks like my Series3 was not getting the 9.4 update.  So I guess that the drive just failed enough to cause this problem.  I am going to get a new drive for the box, and hopefully that will solve the problem.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Series3 problem

I belive that my TiVo Series3 was upgrading to the new 9.4 version of TiVo's software.  The problem is that the upgrade was not successful.  The message on the screen states something like "The DVR has detected a serious problem....  This will take about three hours...."

Since I used to work at TiVo, I know what state the TiVo must be in for that message to appear. (And in fact, in a internal development build, I did have a bug in my code that caused this problem.)  Unfortunately, it looks like the TiVo does get past that error, and then reboots, but then gets back in that state.

Friday, July 11, 2008


This tweet mentioned AddThis, and I went to check it out.  AddThis is a serivce that will generate buttons for web pages or blogs, where readers can use them to bookmark or share links. 

I have been using my port of Sociable for LifeType, but AddThis looked interesting enough that I created a LifeType plugin for it.  I will try it out for a while.  One concern that I have about AddThis over Sociable is that the javascript needs to be loaded from their servers.  So if there servers are loaded, this could affect my page load.

I will post a link to the wiki page for the LifeType plugin, once I create it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Parrot 3200-LS

Parrot 3200-LSSince is is now a requirement to use hands-free devices for use in cars, I started to look for a solution for our van.  I wanted to find something that would connect to the main headunit, where it would automatically mute the audio, to allow the call audio to be heard.  Also, I wanted the device, when installed, to look releatively stock. The Parrot 3200-LS looked like it would work perfectly.  

I had it installed a few weeks ago, and the install looks nice.  It was easy to configure with my Samsung iSCH-760.  On the Parrot, I went into the setting menu for pairing, and selected Windows CE, and the Parrot displayed a password.  Then on my phone, I searched for Bluetooth devices, and then selected the Parrot 3200-LS.  Once paired, the phone numbers on my phone automatically appeared on the Parrot 3200-LS, so I could select phone numbers directly from the Parrot's interface.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fix for java / Firefox 3 in Ubuntu 8.04

This post had the tip that fixed the problem that I was having using java in Firefox 3.  The fix was just to uninstall the icedtea-gcjwebplugin package.


Wordle is an interesting site that will generate a stylized tagcloud for some entered text, a site or a rss feed. Here is the cloud that Wordle generated for the feed on this blog:

Wordle tag cloud

[via Sad Salvation]

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Trust, Privacy and Applications

There are some pretty cool new applications out there that I would like to try.  The only problem is that I have some problems trusting them.  Xoopit and Skyfire are two examples of this.

Xoopit is an extension to Gmail that lets you easily access and share your photos, videos and files that are in your Gmail account.  The problem with this is that you have to give them your gmail username and password, in order for them to index the data. 

Skyfire is a Windows Mobile web browser.  This browser is supposed to deliver a PC based browsing experience that is supposed to be really fase.  The problem that I have with this is in their implementation.  Essentially the Skyfire browser is a VNC or RDP client.  When you enter a web address in the "browser", it gets sent to their servers which fetch the html and renders web page, and then sends the rendered page to the "browser".  When people enter a secure https url, they have the expectation that their data will be encrypted between their browser and the server on the other end.  With Skyfire, the connection is encrypted between Skyfire's severs and the destination server.  I don't know how the connection is encrypted between the "browser" and Skyfire's severs.

I am sure that both Xoopit and Skyfire are not going to do anything malicious with my data, but what if their servers are broken in too.  For mail, I already am trusting Google with my data, adding another third party, adds another potential point of failure.


I saw this post that mentioned feedly.  This looks like a interesting Firefox chrome application.  feedly presents you a start page that summarizes your content from Google Reader.  feedly also integrates with various social network sites to allow you to share content that you read.

I don't know if I will use feedly regularly for reading content, as Google Reader already has a good summary view.  I do like, and will continue to use, the interface that feedly offers for subscribing to feeds.  On one page, you can subscribe to and tag new feeds.  Since feedly relys on Google Reader as the backend, all feeds subscribed to in feedly are actually subscribed to in Google Reader.

I am interested in what they do with the social aspect of feedly.  It seems that feedly could enable other ways of sharing content, or discovering new content.


As I metioned before, I was looking for something to transcode my videos for playback on our XBox.  It looks like TVersity is the best solution.

TVersity is an application that is an UPnP/DNLA server that will share your content with any compatible devices.  In addtion to just sharing, it can transcode the content so it is playable on most devices.


I have been looking for a solution for streaming and transcoding videos to our Xbox from the Windows Home Server.  I found WebGuide, and decided to try it out.

WebGuide is a plugin for Windows Home Server that lets you acess the content from your home server from the web.  This is different than the file based access that comes with Windows Home Server. You can view thumbnails of photos.  Also, you can stream music and video files from the server.  WebGuide relies on external transcoders to make your content playable.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Phone

My wife is getting frustrated with her Windows Mobile base Palm 700w, so we were thinking about getting her one of the new 3G iPhones when they come out.  Since she would be need to switch to AT&T, I would switch at the same time. 

Though, I do like the iPhone, I don't think that it would work for me.  There are still several features that I would still to have:

  • Qwerty keyboard (hard buttons)

  • Ability to tether to a computer to allow the computer to use that network connection

  • MMS support.

I am thinking that I would go with the AT&T Tilt, Blackberry Curve 8310 or potentially an unlocked phone that I would get somewhere else.

This Google Andriod video has me interested in this as an option, even though there isn't a query keyboard.


About a year ago, I saw this post the mentioned GreenDimes.  GreenDimes is a services that stops junk mail. We donated the $15 (which is supposed to plant 15 trees), and then filled out the postcards that were in the packet they sent.  Then when ever we received a catalog, I would enter that information on the GreenDimes web site.

Within a few months, we have seen a significant reduction in the junk mail and catalogs that we receive.  I would recommend GreenDimes, as it has been working for us.

Photos with Windows Home Server

I have pretty much transitioned everything from our old NAS and Mac mini to our HP MediaSmart home server.  Copying the content to the server was very easy.  All of this content is easily accessible on all of our computers and can be played/viewed on our Xbox.

Windows Home server also has the ability to host "public" web gallerys. The intention is that you can select some photos to share with family members.  Theoretically, I could use Windows Home Server, and get rid of my gallery2 installation.

I made the assumption that once I copied all of our photos into the "Photos" directory, that these photos would automatically be available to be added to these Web Share galleries.  I found out that things don't work exactly this way.  It looks like, even if you have all of your photos in the "Photos" directory on the server, you still have to upload the photos through the web interface.  I wouldn't think that it would be hard to present an html representation of the photos in that share, to allow one of those photos to be selected

Saturday, May 31, 2008

HTC Touch Dual

My wife and I are thinking of switching to AT&T for cell phone service, when the 3G iPhones come out.  When we switch, I was thinking about getting the HTC Touch Dual.  This looks like a pretty nice phone.

Xbox and Windows Home Server

This is a pretty good article that describes how to serve up your content from your Windows Home Server to your Xbox.  It is working perfectly for me.

The one thing that I want to figure out is to have the video transcoded to play on the Xbox.  The Xbox only supports a relatively small subset of video formats.

[via MS Windows Home Server blog]

Posting bookmarks

It looks like posting from within is not working. The last time that I saw this work was in April.

Now I need to find a way to post links to my blog. I could use the javascript to show "shared" items from Google Reader, but this will not allow me to link to things that I don't find from Google Reader.

What I would like to find is a way to post the links from an rss feed.  This would allow me to post links and shared items from Google Reader.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Problem solved with Windows Home Server

In this previous post, I mentioned that I was having probelms setting up my HP MediaSmart.  I connected the server and a laptop to a router that wasn't being used.  Once I did this, the setup worked perfectly, and I configured it.

When I connected the server back to the network, the probelms came back.  I then discovered, that if I disconnected my D-link NAS, the problem also went away.

I then tried connecting to the MediaSmart with RDP, and that works, even with the other NAS connected to the network.  I am able to do everyhing, and more, through rdp that I could do through the configuration application.

There is something wrong with the configuration client.  Maybe it has something to do with both the NAS and the MediaSmart being on different workgroups.  Maybe the clients sees one workgroup, the one from the NAS, and then it stops looking for the MediaSmart that happens to be in a different workgroup.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

HP MediaSmart ex475

HP Windows Home ServerI have been interested in getting a Windows Home Server for a while.  Last week we got a HP MediaSmart ex475.  I was looking forward to installing it, and transfering everything off our NAS and our Mac mini.

When I plugged it in, it started up fine.  I installed the software fine on my laptop, but when the setup assistant tried to find the server, it failed.  It looks like this problem is happening to many other people. Reseting the server back to factory defaults didn't solve the problem.

I am extremely frustrated with this.  I am going to try creating a network with only the server and my laptop, to see if a noisy network could have caused the communication to be interrupted.  If that doesn't work, I will call HP techinical support.  (Unfortunately, this is hard for me to do, as they are only open during business hours, and I am at work at that time.)

I am very close to sending this back.

Friday, May 9, 2008

apt-get download speed

This post has a good tip for speeding up apt-get downloads.  Ubuntu will check all of the mirrors to find the one that has the smallest latency.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sound, XPS m1330 and Ubuntu 8.04

In this previous post, I mentioned that everything was working correctly after upgrading to Ubuntu 8.04.  Unfortunately, after I wrote that post my audio stopped working. 

I went through several steps to get audio back, including building and installing the latest version of alsa.

I found that if I put the following line in my /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base file, everthing works

options snd-hda-intel model=dell-3stack

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Windows Home Server

HP Windows Home ServerI am thinking about getting the HP EX475 MediaSmart Windows Home Server.  I would replace our NAS with his server.  Also be able to install SqueezeCenter on it as well, and then I can disconnect the Mac mini.

I can use the Windows Home Server to share our photos, music and videos to our XBox for viewing on the TV.

Also, I was thinking that I could install some software that would allow my TiVo content to automatically be archived.

Upgraded to Ubuntu 8.04

This evening, I upgraded my laptop from Kubuntu 7.10 to 8.04.  I followed their recommended upgrade steps, where I used the alternate CD and then updated from that.  When I was prompted for conflicts for configuration files, I just selected "use the package mantainer's".  I was a little concerned about this, as this was necessary to get sound to work with Ubuntu 7.10, on my laptop.

After booting, everything seems to be working OK, including sound.

The only thing that I have had a problem with so far is that the upgrade upgraded my previous Firefox installation to the 3.0 beta.  Many of my plugins are not compatible with 3.0.  I know that this will be fixed soon.

Also, I haven't made the switch to KDE 4 yet.  I haven't configured it to how I like it, and until I do that, I will stick with GNOME.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

MSN Direct

I have been using the Nuvi 680 for several months.  One of the reasons that I bought it was for the traffic information provided by MSN Direct.  I have been unimpressed with the quality of the data.  There are several problems:

  1. There are many areas that don't have coverage.  For example, when driving from San Jose to Sacramento, as soon as we left the local area there was no coverage. Unfortunately, we encountered a traffic delay that we could have been routed around.

  2. Many of the roads that I travel on to and from work are not included in the MSN Direct data.  I only have seen information on interstates and state and US highways.

  3. The data seems to be stale. I have had many occasions when the Nuvi stated that there was a delay, when the delay had already cleared up.

Monday, March 31, 2008


StupidFilter looks pretty interesting.  This is an open source project to filter rampant stupidity.  When they release the core engine source code, I will write a plugin for LifeType.

Monday, March 24, 2008

links for 2008-03-25

Daily sending quota exceeded

My wife has been having a problem sending email.  We currently use Google Apps for our domain, and when she sends email, she gets the following message:

5.4.5 Daily sending quota exceeded

This message is supposed appear if an account has sent more than 500 messages, or more than 100 when using a mail client.  The problem is that she has only sent 2 messages within last 24 hours.

 I have filed a trouble ticket, and have posted a message on thir Google Group.  In the mean time, I have set up one of our Godaddy email accounts, to allow her to send outgoing mail.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

OpenDNS and Verizon Wireless MMS

As soon as I got my Samsung SCH-i760, I configured the phone to use the DNS servers from OpenDNS.  Everything seemed to be working fine, and web browsing seemed faster.  A while later, I tried sending an MMS message, and it just didn't work, but an error messages was shown.

I finally, got around to tracking this down today.  It looks like Verizon uses a MMS server that has a host name that only resolves from inside the Verizon Wireless network.  So OpenDNS is not able to resolve this hostname.

Once I switched back to the default servers I was able to send picture messages again.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Opera Mobile

The built-in web browser in Windows Mobile is pretty bad.  It doesn't support tabs, and it the rendering of html is not that good.  A while ago I tried Opera Mobile, and I really liked it.  Right about the time that I was going to register it, Skyfire was announced, and this browser looks very interesting.

But, I haven't been accepted to the public beta yet.  Since I have still been frustrated with the built in browser, I registered Opera Mobile. 

Now, maybe I will look into Opera for Linux.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Speed Racer

This looks like it will be a fun movie.
New Speed Racer Trailer
Uploaded by spykestar


[via Autoblog]

SqueezeCenter 7.0

As I mentioned earlier, I installed the new version of SqueezeCenter for our Squeezebox.  This has solved the problem that I was having.  I like the fact that it is not necessary that you don't have to manually go to SqueezeNetwork to listen to Pandora or MP3Tunes.

The new SqueezeCenter software has a setting where you can enter your SqueezeNetwork credentials.  I think that either SqueezeCenter downloads the configuration from SqueezeNetwork or it proxies the requests through SqueezeNetwork

Backing up Gmail

This post has a good description of how to backup your mail from Gmail.  I know that you can do the same thing with any POP3 client, but these steps make it easy to set this up with a cron job.

I configured getmail to download the mail messages to Mbox files, as I didn't want to eat up inodes for each message with the Maildir format. 

Friday, March 7, 2008

Problem with SqueezeBox / SqeezeNetwork

We have been having a problem with our SqueezeBox.  We normally leave it connected to SqueezeNetwork so we can listen to our Pandora station.  For the past couple of weeks whenever we attempt to play a station, we would get prompted to install a new firmware upgrade. 

Even though the install went successfully, the SqueezeBox keeps prompting to update the software again.  

I just noticed that Logitech released verion 7.0 of SqueezeCenter (which had been called SlimServer)  This version integrates the content that is available on SqueezeNetwork into the local server, so you don't have to switch servers.

Hopefully this will solve the firmware upgrade prompting. 

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Linux Amazon MP3 downloader

Steve posted the link to Amazon MP3 Downloader for Linux.  This is wonderful, as previously whenever I purchased music from Amazon, I would have to boot into Windows or use one of our Macs.

Now only if Logitech makes the Harmony remote software available for Linux, I wouldn't need a Mac or Windows PC. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Duplicate events with GooSync

Both my wife and I have Windows Mobile phones, and we use Google Calendar for our calendars.  GooSync allows us to wirelessly sync our calendars with our phones.  My wife and I both have GooSync accounts, which sync to our own Google Calendar accounts.  The permissions on some of the calendars has been setup so either one of us can add events.

There appears to be a bug where events are getting duplicated, seemingly on every sync.  From looking at the duplicated events, they are being created from my wife's phone.  Maybe it is caused because these events were created by my account, and maybe GooSync can't handle this.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

links for 2008-02-27


To upload my photos to flickr. I have been trying to use flickr's tool, Flickr Uploadr.  This tool lets you drag photos to a window, to upload them.  You can use the tool to set keywords and permission settings when uploading.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work that well.  Sometimes the transfer just stops, and the only indication is a little message in the lower left corner of the window that says "Bonk!".  Other times, there is a message that says something like "Houston we have a problem! There is a network problem....", but in this case the network connection is fine.

I stared to think that this could be caused because Comcast could be filtering some of this traffic, as I am uploading several GB of photos.  But then I decided to try a different application to do the uploading.  So I tried jUploadr.

jUploadr is a java application that has the same functionality as Flickr Uploadr.  But this applicaiton handles the transfers so much better.  In addition, it also uploads meta data for photo, so any title that you set on a photo in iPhoto, will be transferred to flickr when you drag the phots from flickr.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


My friend Steve commented on this post, where I mentioned that I am trying flickr as a photo management site, mentioning SmugMug.  SmugMug is a pretty nice site to to photo management.  They offer a 14 day free trial, and then several different subscription options.  Similar to flickr, SmugMug has several desktop uploading clients available.  In addition to that, there are some site that will let you automatically migrate from flickr, or other sites.

I really like the look of the site, as the albums look more polished than the albums do on flickr. Also, since the main focus of SmugMug is not sharing, it leave the UI to be uncluttered.

I uploaded about 300 photos and added tags for each of them.  The upload process was pretty painless, and adding tags to each photo was a lot easier than it is on flickr.  But unfortutately, the site was getting pretty unresponsive, when I was attempting to look at my uploaded photos. In fact, many of the web browser connections were timing out, so I had to manually try the connection again. 

The other problem is that it doesn't appear that you can have a single photo in two albums.  You can duplicate the photo, but that is not exactlywhat I want to do.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Disabled dynamic content plugins

I have disabled several of the plugins that I had installed on this blog.  The tagcloud and the related posts LifeType plugins creates some interesting views into this blog, but they take a long time to process when making new posts.

I will take a look at adding a background process to update this data, or changing the algorithm to be more effecient. 

Monday, February 18, 2008

Online Photos Service

We have been using iPhoto for our photo management system.  This has worked pretty well on our macs, even though I had to take some steps to have access to the photos on our multiple computers. 

Now that I am using Ubuntu, I want to find a way to share these photos on all of our computers.  I started to copy all of these photos onto our network attached storage drive, but I only can modify the photos in iPhoto, otherwise iPhoto gets out of sync.

Monday, February 11, 2008

DVR revisited

In this post, I mentioned some problems that I was having with my Comcast DVR.  Comcast has come out an replaced the DVR, and everything thing seems fine.


I wrote about phpGedView before.  I have been using it as the hosting software for our genealogy web site.  I had only been using it as a read-only view of the data, and using a desktop application to modify the data.

I just realized that there is pretty cool feature.  My sister wanted to update some information, so I created an account for her, and she was able to do her own edits.  You can also configure accounts so that an administrator has to approve of changes before they will be posted. 

This is turning out to be pretty good software for family collaboration. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Recordings on Comcast DVR

We havent looked at the recording on one of our Comcast DVRs for several months.  Last week, I decided to watch one of the shows on the dvr, but there were no recording in the recording list.  Also, the list of scheduled recordings was empty.  For some reason, the DVR decided to erase all of its settings.

I am annoyed, especially since we are paying Comcast for this box.  Since our Series3 works downstairs, maybe I will look in to replacing the Comcast DVR with a SlingBox/SlingCatcher or a Media Center/Extender combination

Saturday, February 2, 2008

PowerPC Edubuntu

Our iMac is starting to get pretty slow when running the kids flash-based games.  This seems to get worse as new flash games are created.  (I think that these flash apps are not being optimized for low powered computers.)

So I was curious to try Edubuntu to see how well the iMac performs.  The Umbuntu distributions include the ability to boot directly fom the CD to try it out, so this would be perfect way for me to try edubuntu.

 Unfortunately, I was not able to get either our iMac or iBook to boot from the CD.  It would just hang after selecting the boot options.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


WebMynd is a site that is supposed to save the content of all of the pages that you view.  Their claim is that you will not need to bookmark any site, but you will be able to search for any of the site that you have seen.

WebMynd is a Firefox add-on that stores the web pages to your local computer.

I am not going to install this.  I already have this functionality with Google Desktop.

 [via TechCrunch]

Connect 360

Connect 360 is a Mac OS X preference pane that lets your play/view content from your Mac OS X computer on your Xbox 360.  It uses iTunes to get the list of tracks and playlist, and iPhoto for photos.  You specify a directory to indicate what videos should be shared.

The demo worked for me, though I only used it to view videos.  The demo will let you view a good number of files.

I would love to use this to view all of my content on my TV.  This would allow me to remove the Mac mini from the AV rack and keep it in the closet.  Unfortunately, the Xbox doesn't support all of the video formats that the Mac mini can, so I would have to transcode many of my videos. 

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tail remote logs

In this post, I mentioned that I was looking for a way to tail log files on a remote computer. Stig commented with a suggestion.  You can specify the sudo and tail command to ssh

ssh user@hostname 'sudo tail -f /var/log/messages'

I am using this solution, but there are two problems:

  1. Your password will appear in the clear in the terminal window when entering it for the sudo command

  2. sudo has to be configured to work on a non-tty terminal, which could be a security hole.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

links for 2008-01-11

Recovering print job

Tonight, I needed to print something on our MacBook Pro.  The computer wasn't able to connect to the printer upstairs, so I decided to print it to the downstairs printer.  Unfortunately, Microsoft Word crashed when I attempted to print the file, and I had not saved the files. 

I didn't really want to retype the document so I went looking for the printer spool files from the They pdf files, so I just dragged them to the desktop and printed the files.

Jungle Disk 1.50a

Jungle Disk version 1.50a has been released.  This release includes some pretty cool features.

  1. File upload resume

  2. Block-level file updates

  3. Native linux integration using FUSE

Some of the features require a Jungle Disk Plus subscription.  They are currently giving away a free year subscription, if you sign up before the 15th.  After that, the subscription is $1 a month.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Squeezebox for kids bedrooms

Tonight, I was sitting downstairs working on the computer, listening to the baby monitor.  Then the CD in baby's room started to skip, and it woke her up.  This made me think about this post that I wrote a while ago.

The kids have a tendency to scratch CDs and break CD and tape players (cassettes can not be played in one of their radios any more).  I started to think of the ideal solution.  I like the way that the SqueezeBox is able to play my whole colection of music, and I am able to control it remotely (to turn it off after the kids go to sleep, or turn down the volume). And that is without the media being damaged.

SoundBridge Radio
The one problem with the SqueezeBox is that it doesn't have built-in speakers.  Ideally Logitech would come out with a SqueezeBox that integrates speakers and an amplifier.  Something like the Roku SoundBridge Radio would be great. Unfortunately the SoundBridge Radio doesn't support the latest version of  SlimServer.



Bill Gates' last day

This is a pretty funny video from Bill Gate's CES keynote address
Bill Gates Last Day Of Work - Watch more free videos

Nuvi 680 update

I have been using the Garmin Nuvi 680 for a while now, and I do like it.  There are some things that I don't like about it. 

  1. You can't specify a number destinations and have the Nuvi calculate the best route to all of them.  You can only specify a destination and a single "via point"

  2. You can't specify a road to avoid when routing.  For example, there is no way for you to specify that you want to avoid a particular highway on your route

  3. The traffic alerts do not indicate the time that they were last updated.  It is impossible for you to determine how likely a alert is to still be a problem.

  4. The microphone on the unit, when mounted on the dash is near the windshield.  So, when it is raining out side, it is hard for the other person on the line to hear you.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Switched back to Gnome

I have decided to switch back to Gnome from KDE.  I personally like the interface of KDE better, but there were two things that weren't working.

  1. KDE's built WebDAV client doesn't allow the clients to be mounted with write access, so I had to manually mount the server on the command line.

  2. The sound on the internal speakers on laptop was extremely quiet.

Both of these problems don't happen for me in Gnome.