Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sending links via Gmail using Chrome

This page has a javascript that makes it easy to send the url for the current page in Chrome as an email using Gmail.

I did have to modify it to make it work for my Google Apps for Your Domain account.  I just had to modify

with{your domain}/

[via Lifehacker]

Music format support on Nintendo DSi

Today I bought a new microSD card for my phone.  My son also wanted a SD card for his Nintendo DSi.  He wanted to use it to put music on for playback.  So I figured that I would give him the 2GB card that was I was using in my phone.

When I copied some mp3 files to an SD card, and they were not playable.  It looks like the Nintendo DSi only plays AAC files.  On their web page they link to the Nero software where they sell it for $6.  You can do the same thing for free with iTunes.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Windows Home Server recovery

For a while there has been an update to MyMovies that I have been meaning to install.  On Saturday, I decided to do the upgrade.  The first thing that I did was uninstall the old Windows Home Server add-on.  The uninstallation appeared to go OK, and I was prompted to reboot the server.  Once I did, the server would not fully boot back up.  Since this is a HP MediaSmart ex475, and there is no video out, the only option is to recover the server.  Since server recovery consists of reinstalling the server software, I decided to to take this opportunity to upgrade the system drive to a 1TB drive that I had, but hadn't used.

Reinstalling the software went fine, but I was never able to get it to automatically recover the data from the other drives.  Supposedly, when you do a server recovery, the data will be automatically reconstructed from the drives.

Instead, the server partition is created, and all of the other drives are just mounted, but not added to the storage pool.  No data is lost here, but you just need to copy the data back to the storage pool.  This page describes the steps required to recover data. I am using GoodSync to do the copy, as it pretty much functions like rsync, but doesn't require cygwin.  The copying of the data will take a few more days.

Windows Home Server user account tips

Over the Thanksgiving break, I helped my grandmother with some things with her computer.  One of the problem is that on one of her new computers, her account name was spelled differently than it was on the Windows Home Server.  This causes her to be prompted for her username and password when she tries to mount the server.

Unfortunately, in Windows, you can change the display name for an account, but you cannot change the username.  In order to fix this, you need to create a new account with the right username, and then copy all of the files to the new home directory.

Since when you create a new account on windows, the control panel doesn't offer the ability to specify the username and display name.  I would recommend that when you create a new account, you create an account and specify the username.  Then after the account is created, change the name to the name you want displayed (This only changes the display name)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Smart AC

A while ago, I received a letter from PG&E mentioning their Smart AC program.  This program lets customers voluntarily let their air conditioning get throttled when there is a significant energy demand.

The box that is installed on the compressor, has a pager network radio receiver, and when it receives a signal from PG&E, it will throttle the AC back.  It looks like it does it's throttling by cycling the compressor on in 15 minute intervals, when the thermostat tries to turn the AC on.  During this time, since the thermostat thinks that the compressor is on, the fan will still be running to help with the cooling of the house.  Users also have the ability to opt out of the throttling in 24 hour periods.

In our case, I don't think that we will be affected, as we hardly have the AC on.  But, I figure that we can do our part, and if turning off our AC in 15 minute intervals, can prevent a black out, we can join the program.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Upgrade ext3 to ext4

I was interested in upgrading my laptop's hard drive to ext4 from ext3.  Ext4 offers some features over ext3, and I figured that since I upraded to Kubuntu 9.10, I might as well upgrade the file system.

This blog post describes the steps needed to upgrade from ext3, without formatting the hard drive.

Unfortunately, I didn't unmount it before running through the steps, and I didn't pay attention to the fsck warning.  My partition did get corrupt, and I decided to reformat and do a clean install.  (At least I am able to create an ext4 partition, and it is nice to do a clean install every once in a while.)

Luckily, I was able to restore all of my data, since I have been backing up my files on Linux with JungleDisk.  Also, I am able to restore my Windows VMWare image, since it is backed up to my Windows Home Server.

Skype video with Ubuntu 9.10

I had to reinstall Kubuntu, for a reason that I will write about later, so I needed to reinstall skype.  When I downloaded and tried  the 2.1 beta, I wasn't able to get video to work.

I was able to use the instructions on this page to get video working.  You need to launch skype with the following command line:
LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv41/ skype

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Netflix and Windows Media Center

For some reason, within the past couple of days Netflix streaming in our Vista Media Center stopped working.  The interesting thing is that playback worked from the browser and from PlayOn, both from that computer.  Nothing that I did solved the problem.  I was getting so frustrated that I wanted to just get a Roku HD, so I wouldn't have to deal with software configuration anymore.

As one last ditch effort, I wanted to upgrade to Windows 7 to see if would fix Netflix streaming.  If it didn't, I would go get a cheap Comcast DVR, and a Roku HD box for each TV.

The upgrade to Windows 7 went smoothly, and I am now able to stream Netflix content.  Also Windows 7 Media Center adds other Internet TV sources.  In addition to those things, the redone UI is very nice.

Disk Space on WHS System disk

I have been having some problems with my Windows Home Server.  The 20GB system disk has been filling up.  When this happens various programs get unstable (Can't connect to the console, Squeezebox Server crashes, ...)

I RDP'd into the server and then took a look for where the disk space was going.  I found that the log files from the DynDNS client were taking 8GB of space.  Once I deleted the log files, everything started working well again.  I will try to see if I can disable the logging the client.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Multiple accounts with Live Mesh

I am the tech support person for our family.  For my wife's grandmother, I installed a Windows Home Server in her house.  One of the features of the Windows Home server is that it is a proxy to allow you to RDP into the other computers on the network.  The problem is that this only works for the computers that have the RDP server enabled.  (i.e. Windows Vista Ultimate...)

Windows Live Mesh has a similar feature, but it doesn't have the requirement that the windows installations has its RDP server enabled.  Live Mesh's implementation requires that the Live Mesh client is installed on the computers that you want to access, and the computers that you want to do use to access them.  Once you have the software installed, you need to log into Microsoft's live server on each computer.  Then from any computer signed into a Live Mesh account, you can connect to any other computer also signed into that account.

The problem is that this doesn't really work well with multiple accounts.  For example, I have a Live Mesh account, and normally am logged into it when I log into my Windows account.  When I want to help out family, I need to log out of my account and then log into their account.  Ideally, Microsoft would add the ability for a Live account holder to be able to grant access to another Live account for a particular computer.

Friday, October 30, 2009

iPhone Notification Thoughts

Apple created their Apple Push Notification system to allow applications to present information to the user, even when the applications are not running.  This helps reduces the amount of CPU usage on the phone, which will help prolong battery life

I would like to see a few things added to this:

  • Better support for multiple notifications.  Currently only the last notification is shown. There are a few things that could be done

    1. Create a view that aggregates all of the new notifications since the user last looked at the phone

    2. Create a prioritization scheme that would make sure that the most important notifications are visible first

    3. Allow developers to expire previous notifications for their applications

  • Support to send information back to developers.  Since using Apple's Push Notification requires  developers to have a server that keeps a persistent connection with Apple's servers.  This connection could be used to send information from about the iPhone back to developers

    • For example, this could be used to send location data back to developers.  This would allow Loopt or Google Latitude to update a users location without running an application in the foreground.

    • Having this implemented in  this manner, it would allow the users to have control over this data

      • Users should be able to go to settings application and disable this feature for all applications, or for particular applications

      • Apple could control the frequency that the GPS would be turned on, so they could conserve power appropriately.

Iomega MiniMax

We have been using our Mac mini a lot recently. In addition to the kids using it to play games, I am using it for iPhone development, and we use it to manage our photos and family videos. Since I keep it behind the monitor, it is a pain to get to the USB ports. I normally, just leave the cables for the USB devices connected to the USB ports on the back of the Mac mini, and just make the other ends lose and acceptible without moving items around. The problem with this is the Mac mini only has 4 USB ports. With the external hard drive, iPhone cable, standard USB cable for digital camera, there aren't enough ports for the mouse and keyboard.

So I went looking for a USB hub that would have the same footprint as the Mac mine.  I found the Iomega MiniMax Hard Drive.  This external hard drive has both USB and FireWire hubs.  It fits perfectly under my Mac mini, and has allowed me to to everything that I have wanted.

Google Voice for cell phones

I have been having a problem receiving my voicemail on my iPhone.  My wife would leave message on my cell phone, but my phone would show no indication of a waiting voice mail message.  Also when I call in to get my voicemail, nothing appears their either.  I think that this is a problem with AT&T and not my iPhone.

Google made it available to use Google Voice with existing cell phones.  With this you can now have your voicemail sent to Google voice, and you can listen to it from your phone or your computer.  Also Google Voice will create a transcript of your message, and you can received that via email or sms.

I have been using Google Voice for a little bit, but this functionality allows me to receive messages from callers that don't know my Google Voice number in my Google Voice inbox.

[via Engadget]

Sunday, October 4, 2009


On Friday, I saw that the Ping! iPhone application was available for free. Ping is an iPhone application that let's you have SMS or instant message conversations with other people with iPhones or iPod Touches. Ping! uses Apple's push notification service, so don't need to leave the application running to keep receiving messages.

The benefit if using push over tradition SMS messages is that it is cheaper, if you only want to talk to people who also have iPhones or iPods.  This is also especially true if you have a limited number of text messages per month on your plan.   Also for iPod users, since they don't have access to SMS, this may be a viable solution.

I don' think that I will be using this application that often. Since I already uses SMS with people who are not using iPhones, I don't know if it would be worth it to use a separate application for the subset of my contacts that have iPhones and also have Ping! installed.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Disabled gallery2

I have disabled our installation of gallery2, as I hinted to before.  We have changed to use flickr and facebook to share photos with our friends and family.  The main reason that I disabled it was because all of our photos, that we decided to share, were publicly available.  gallery2 does support user authentication, but it is hard to have family create accounts on the site.

Since most people that we are sharing photos with have flickr or facebook accounts, that was a hurdle that we didn't have to go over to allow us to restrict access to our photos.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I have been using Magpie Rss for a while to parse rss feeds in php.  It has worked pretty well for me.  But recently I have been working on some projects where I need to parse tags that have attributes. Some examples of tags with attributes in rss are enclosure tags for podcasts or cloud tags for rssCloud.  Magpie Rss doesn't support attributes, but only support values within begin and end tags.

I found RSS_PHP which looks to do what I want.  This library does support rss attributes and extensions.  I will pay for the commercial version if the free version continue to works as well as it is now.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Install Ubuntu Netbook Remix in VMWare

I like playing with different distributions of Linux, and am pretty curious about distributions that are geared towards netbooks.  I was curious about checking out the latest version of Ubuntu Netbook Remix, but I wanted to check it out in VMWare Workstation before actually installing it on my netbook.  Unfortunately, the installer is intended to be copied to a USB thumb drive and installed from there.  This doesn't work in VMWare.

This page has instructions on how to install UNR in a virtual machine.  These instructions create a disc image that can be mounted our burned to disc.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


RSSCloud is an interesting concept.  The idea is to define a standard way to push notification of changes in rss feeds.  I have installed the RSSCloud Wordpress plugin, just so I can write a service that listens to these notifications.

[via Mashable]

Monday, August 31, 2009

In flight Wi-Fi

I am currently on a flight from San Jose to Chicago, and the flight has in-flight Wi-Fi, provided by Gogo Inflight Internet. When I tried to connect to the wireless network with my linux laptop, I wasn't able to get it to work. I decided to connect to the network with my iPhone, so I could do a Google search to find a solution.

I created an account from the iPhone, and the paid for access. One of the terms of service is that I would be able to use this account on any mobile device, but wouldn't be able to use this on my laptop.

I found a solution and it tried it, and it appeared to work. (I will post a link to the site when I land) I did notice something interesting. I was able to use my existing login to the wireless network.

Another interesting thing is that while I am in flight, the iPhone's location is reporting that it is still at San Jose airport. I wonder if the network connection is routing through satelites back to the originating airport. It will be interesting to see if during the return flight the iPhone's location is Chicago or San Jose.

Parental Controls and SqueezeCenter

We have installed Squeezebox Booms in each of the kids' rooms.  This works great to be able to access all of our music in their rooms.  The kids like it as the presets are set to various childrens music, so they can easily listen to any of their music.

The problem is that our son is starting to explore our music. Some of the content is rated as "explicit", and we really would not want him coming across the music.  Now I am going to try and find a solution that would let me specify a list of artists that shouldn't appear on a given Squeezebox.  If this doesn't exist, I will look at writing a plugin to create this.

Monday, August 24, 2009

EveryTrail and Trails

About a year ago, when I got my iPhone, we went on a family vacation to Greenhorn Creek Guest ranch.  On one of the rides, I was thinking that it would be cool to write an iPhone application that would track my progress on the trails.  I never got around to writing one, but I found the Trails iPhone application.

Trails lets you record your progress while you are out on trails.  This application will record and show stats about your route, while recording.  In addition, you can take pictures and set waypoints along the route.

The main reason that I bought Trails was because you can export the data from the app itself.  You can either send an email with a GPX file attached, or you can export directly to EveryTrail

EveryTrail is a web site that lets you post and share routes.  I have posted three of my routes from our recent trip to Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch at the end of this post.  I do like the service, and I could see using this again.

EveryTrail now has their own iPhone application.  I haven't tried it yet, but the price(free) is a lot better than Trails' price ($3.99).

There is one thing to be aware of when using these applications.  The battery on my iPhone 3G only lasted 3 hours while recording the trail.  I started to use my mophie battery pack when recording.  Then I didn't need to worry about the battery running out.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


The iPhone supports push notification of new emails, bit only for Exchange and for Mobile Me. Apple could implement this for IMAP accounts, with the IMAP IDLE command, but this would remove one of the features that differentiates Mobile Me from the other mail services.

GPush is an iPhone application/ service that enables push notifications when receiving new emails at a gmail account. To configure the application, you enter your gmail credentials in the application, and then it validates them with google. When you then receive a new message on that account, a notification will be sent to your phone, and the GPush application icon will display the count of the number of unread messages.

One main reason I am interested in this application is to potentially save battery. I currently have my phone set to check mail every 15 minutes. Theoretically, with this application, I can turn off periodic checks, and I will be notified when a new message is receives. Then I would launch the mail application to actually download the messages.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work that well.  I have only received about 10 notifications on my iPhone, for emails that I have received, even though I have received many more email messages.   This seems to be a problem on the GPush servers, as I receive more push notifications on the iPhone from Boxcar for direct messages that I receive on Twitter.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Google Latitude on iPhone

I "installed" the Google Latitude web app on my iPhone, and it works pretty well. In fact, I don't see any major downsides to it not being a native application. Apple limits the capabilities of native applications so much, that this app can do almost everything that a native app can do.

I would love to see some features added to Google Latitude and their mobile application. I think that with these minor additions, it could compete with services like Loopt.

  • Add the ability to update "status" from the mobile application.

  • Enable export into other social networks like FriendFeed and Facebook

Google's Latitude has one things that the other location based social networks don't have. With other social networks, the user has to maintain a completely separate friends list. Since Google Latitude uses your Google Contacts you don't have to do this separate maintenance.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Evernote iPhone app when offline

I while on this flight, I wanted to review some documentation. Wanted to write some notes, so I thought that I could use the Evernote iPhone application. I figured that the next time that launched the app when my iPhone has a network connection, the note would be synchronized to the Evernote server, and the. I could access that note on any of my PCs.

Unfortunately, the Evernote application will not let you do that. Even though you can access already created notes when you are offline, you can't create or edit them.

I would like for this to be fixed. Other applications do not have this problem. For example, Remember The Milk let's you create, delete and edit tasks offline. The Wordpress application lets you write new posts and pages while offline ( I am doing that now). That seems like the right model as the apps are still functional when offline.

Boxcar & WHSTweet

I don't use Twitter as an immediate type of communication. I generally don't receive direct messages from people that I know, as I know that other people do. I still see Twitter as a passive communication medium.

Boxcar is an iPhone application that enables Apple's push notifications to be sent when your Twitter account receives a direct message or a reply. At first I didn't see that this would be useful for me. But then I remembered that I have installed WHSTweet on the two Windows Home Servers that I maintain. This add-in enables the server to send Twitter messages when the server has an error or warning.

Using Boxcar with WHSTweet is a perfect combination. Now my phone will let me know as soon as my server has a problem. There is less of a chance that I will miss the tweet from the server now.

Tripit for iPhone

I have used tripit for a while.  I don't travel that much, but when I do tripit makes it very easy to get an consistent itinerary for your trips. For example, if you make reservations for air and hotel at separate times, all you have to do is forward each individual itinerary to tripit and it will generate a "trip" with all of your information. In addition to that, tripit makes it very easy to share your itinerary.

Normally, you just use their web interface to access their site, and they even have a mobile version that looks good on the iPhone. But that web site doesn't help you if you don't have network access.

I just saw that they have an iPhone application that syncs with their site to get the list of current or upcoming trips.  I downloaded it and it works great. I can access my itinerary even with out network access (for example now I am flying somewhere above Kansas.). This is great if you need to know when your connecting flight departs.

I also like the fact that they use OAuth for authentication. I could easily revoke access to this app if I ever lost my phone.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Comcast iPhone application

Comcast just came out with an iPhone application[iTunes link].  This application lets you check your email, sync your comcast address book with your iPhone's.  The one feature that I am really interested in is to be able to listen to the voicemail from our comcast phone.

This adds one feature that I enjoyed with Vonage.  With Vonage you could configure the voicemail system to email the voicemail audio file to an email address.  This made it very easy to listen to voicemail messages, while not at home.  This iPhone application lets you listen to voicemails.

One feature that I would love to see is this application use Apple's push notification to deliver notifications of new voicemails.

[via TUAW]

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Media Center Extenders?

Now that it seems that support for Media Center Extenders is wanning, I need to figure out what I want to do about our setup.  I have been pretty happy with Media Center Extenders for thing that are recorded on the Media Center.  But, for other things the Extenders don't do that well.

I have not had good luck getting movies to play on our Extenders with MyMovies.  Also, I haven't gotten vmcPlayIt to work, in order to play Hulu and Netflix content on the extenders.

I was thinking ing that what I want is a simple DNLA audio and video player.  This would support playing content recorded via the TV tuners.  Also, since PlayOn is a DNLA server, these players could play Hulu and Netflix content. Also, with Windows 7, other content would be transcoded.

The only problems that I see with this solution are:

  • I don't think that it will be possible to play live TV, or control the tuners.

  • Hopefully it would be easy to configure the heirarchy of the content.  For example, I would want recorded content to grouped by series.  Also, I would want to see the meta data for the content.

Abandoning gallery2

I think that soon I will be abandoning our use of gallery2.  A few years ago we started using gallery2 to share our photos with friends and family.  gallery2 allowed us to upload the photos and let our friends comment on them. When I set this up, there weren't many other photo sharing sites.

Now, we upload all of our photos to flickr for backup purposes.  And we select some of those photos to share with friends and family.  In addition we have started to use facebook to share photos.  The one good thing about using flickr and Facebook is that it is easy to set up permissions to allow only the people that you want to see your photos.  The one downside is that there is another company that I would have do deal with for the photos.

I will probably not be uploading anything to our gallery2 installation, but leave what is there now there.  We will probably just be posting things to flickr or Facebook.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

iPhone 3.0 and USASpec adapter

As I have written in my previous posts, I have been pretty happy with the iPhone 3.0 update.  I have been experiencing one annoying problem.

When I connect my iPhone 3.0 to my USASpec PA15-HON2 adapter that is installed in my car, the iPhone stops playing audio and the screen flashes for about a minute, before audio starts playing.  Here are the steps that I use where the problems occurs for me

  • Play a track/playlist

  • Connect the iPhone to the dock

  • => The Radio switches to the cd changer input (correct for my setup)

  • => The screen in the iPhone continues to flash the iPod graphic for about a minute

  • => After about a minute a different track starts playing

Once music is playing, the interface works perfectly.  It will continue to work, until I disconnect and reconnect the iPhone.

I think that the iPhone 3.0 software added some addition scanning that happens when connected to this adapter.

Other iPhone 3.0 features

I just noticed some other feature that I believe were added in the iPhone 3.0 software, that I don't remember seeing posted anywhere else

  • 30 second skip back.  When playing a podcast, there is now a button to skip back 30 seconds.

  • Adjustable playback speed - When playing a podcast, you can now change the playback speed to 1/2x or 2x, in addition to 1x.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Push notifications on the iPhone

I just received notification that the Remember The Milk iPhone application has a new update.  This update adds support for push notifications, where you will be notified if you a task scheduled for the day, without actually launching the application itself.

This had me thinking about some other applications that I think would be great to have push notifications added:

  • Facebook:  to notify you when someone commented on something that you do, or sent you a message.

  • Tweetie: to notify you when someone sends you a direct message

  • Skype: to notify you of new messages.

  • Games:  to notify you if someone "challenges" you, or if someone beats your high score.

I also think that there is an opportunity for another service.  Currently, if a developer wants to present notifications on the iPhone, they need to have a native iPhone application installed.  A lot of the "applications" that I use are web based.  I would love to receive notifications from these applications.

I think that it would be great if some developer wrote an iPhone application and a web service.  This application would talk to the web service to see if there are any notifications to be displayed.  Then other web services, using OAuth or Facebook Connect, would associate with this service.  This would allow notifications to be received from any web service.

I think that Facebook would be a good developer to do this, as they have the relationships with other developers, and they already support Facebook Connect.  But, I think that Apple will end up doing this in their MobileMe service.  This would be another reason to get users to pay for this service.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Windows Home Server Backup

Now that our MediaSmart Windows Home server supports backing up our Mac OS X computers with Time Machine, I freed up the 1.5 TB USB drive that had been connected to our Mac mini.

I am pretty happy with our current backup situation.  All of our computers are backed up to the Windows Home Server.  I use HP Online Backup, to backup some of this data to Amazon S3 for offsite storage.  But there is still a chance that I can loose data.  Since, I don't have all of our data stored offsite, if the computers and the server are damaged, then I will lose data.  I could have all of the content on the server sent to Amazon  S3, but this would take too much time and cost too much money.

I figured that I could use this now-available 1.5 TB drive to backup the backups from the other computers.  Then I could take this drive to a safe deposit box for safe keeping.

Windows Home Server supports using a drive as a backup for the server, instead of increasing storage space.  When you do this, you can specify which shares you want to back up.   You can't schedule unattended backups, but you can do manual backups (I assume this is because Microsoft assumed that these drives would be stored offsite, and would need to be physically connected to perform the backup.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Two nice features of iPhone 3.0

I have been playing with the iPhone 3.0 software on my iPhone 3G for a few days now.  I have seen two features that I think are the best additions, that haven't really seen mentioned other places.

  1. Sending SMS messages now happen asynchronously.  With this change you don't have to wait for a message to be sent, before typing the next message.

  2. The ability to send a contact to someone via email.  This attaches the contact information to the email as a vcard.  This makes many of the third party contact sharing applications not necessary.

Monday, June 22, 2009

FriendFeed Comments plugin

The FriendFeed Comment plugin is a WordPress plugin that lets you display the comments that have been posted for an article on FriendFeed.  The comments that were written on FriendFeed, are shown along with the comments that were written on the blog itself.

In addition to letting you display the FriendFeed comments, you can also also have any comments written by the blog author on the blog itself, added to FriendFeed.

[via Zeigen]

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hulu on Windows Media Center

As I have mentioned before, one of the things that I have been working on is to get access to Hulu content on my Windows Media Center computer.  Now with Hulu Desktop being released, there are several potential solutions for getting this to work.

A few weeks ago, there was a special price for the PlayOn media server software.  I had tried this before and decided to jump on this special price.  I installed it and the vmcPlayIt Media Center plugin.  Once I installed the PlayOn software, I was able to play Hulu content on my Xbox perfectly.

I still haven't been able to get the vmcPlayIt plugin to work.  I am able to see the categories, but I am not able to see the thumbnails or play videos from any of the providers.

Xbox 360 video games on demand

This post talks about the Video Games downloads that Microsoft announced at this past E3.  With what they are planning, any one who has an Xbox 360 connected to the network, can download full games directly to the console's hard drive.

I think that this is great, especially if you can save money over buying a game on disc.

Clearing Amazon S3 storage

This post had a good tip about using SpaceBlock to browse your Amazon S3 account.  I have been using JungleDisk to back up several of my computers to Amazon S3 for several years now.  When I browsed my storage, I realized that I had backups in my S3 bucket for computers that I migrated all of my data off of.  Since Amazon charges a monthly charge for the amount of data that you have stored, I decided to clean up my storage.

I ended up not using SpackBlock to delete these files.  I just used JungleDisk to delete these files.  I was able to use either the web based browser that JungleDisk provides as well as actually mounting the storage, an just deleting the files.

It tool several hours to delete the files, but I hoping that I will save a few dollars a month.

Google Chrome for Mac / Linux

The Chromium project has released an official developer version of Google Chrome for Mac OS X and Linux.  I previously had the Chromium version installed, but I figure that it would be better to install a more official version.

[via @mattcutts]

Twitter vs Facebook usage

Currently I use both Facebook and Twitter.  Some of my friends, that only use Facebook, don't see the utility of Twitter. I decided to write a description of how I use Twitter and how it compares to Facebook

I see Twitter and Facebook as tools that do better job at different tasks. Facebook is great for communicating with people that you already have relationships with. While, I use Twitter is an information gathering tool.
On Twitter, a user explicitly "follows" other twitter accounts. This explicitly indicates that the user is interested in the information provided by those followed accounts.

For example, I have "followed" the Starbucks twitter account, so I have indicated that I am interested in receiving the Starbucks "marketing message". This "following" doesn't indicate any personal relationship, and following is not a two way relationship. Starbucks may never see what I say about them.

Personally, I use Twitter for "receiving information that I am interested in". There are several world wide news organizations that I "follow" that often have information about current event significantly faster than the traditional news media. Also, I "follow" several local radio stations. These stations use twitter to send information about traffic conditions for local roads.

Also, the value of any one particular "tweet" is pretty low to me. If I miss a whole day of information, I will not spend the time to catch up on them.

I don't often manually post "tweets" to twitter. I do use some tools to automatically post to twitter. For example, when I want to share an article that I am reading, I will share it in Google Reader or, and then this will automatically be posted to twitter. When I write a blog post, this link is automatically posted to twitter

If someone is interested in the things that I am sharing, then they can follow my twitter feed, if not they will not follow my feed.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Gmail search operators

I never remember all of the things that you can do with searching inside GmailThis post describes some useful filters, and mentions Search Autocomplete.

Maybe now, I will remember these.  (At least I will remember where to go to find them.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Project Natal

I think that the Project Natal demonstrations show some pretty cool technology.  I think that, if this actually ships, this will easily give the Xbox 360 an easy way into the casual gaming market, and could be a serious competitor to the Nintendo Wii.

Project Natal, use a camera/microphone device to allow you to interact with the Xbox interface.  Facial and voice recognition allows a deeper interaction than the Nintendo Wii implements.

Below, I have embedded several videos of Project Natal.  I hope that when it actually ships it does just half as much as is shown in these videos.

Monday, June 1, 2009

HP Online Backup

When HP made the Mac OS X's Time Machine support available for owners of the MediaSmart ex47x servers, they also make online backup available.  HP's Online Backup is a backup solution that is based upon Amazon's S3.

With HP Online Backup, you select which of the shares on the server should be backed up, and you can also setup a schedule for when backup occurs.  This is pretty much the same functionality that the Jungle Disk Windows Home Server add-in has.

Time Machine backup on HP MediaSmart

HP just released the support for allowing Mac OS X computers to back up to the older models of HP MediaSmart Windows Home Servers.  I installed this, so I can back up our Mac mini to our server.  I have been using an external USB drive, but this would enable me to stop using that drive as a backup for the Mac mini, but instead, I can use that drive as a removable backup drive for the server itself.

The setup on the server was very straight forward.  All I had to do was create a share named "Mac", and I didn't have to give any user write permissions to it.

Then on the Mac, I installed the HP MediaSmart software.  After a reboot, when I launched the software, it asked for the server name and adminstrator passowrd.  Once those were configured, I clicked on the Backup tab.  This is where I had some problems.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Google Wave

Google Wave looks like it could be an interesting way to communicate and collaborate.  Here is the video that runs through many of the features.

[via Webware]

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hulu Desktop

Hulu has released Hulu Desktop in beta.  This application, for Mac OS X and Windows, allows you to watch Hulu content with only using a remote for control.

I think that this is an interesting move on their part, and you can see why they wanted to stop Boxee from showing Hulu content.  If they will also create a Windows Media Center plugin, that would allow this content to be viewed within the Media Center UI, I will be that much closer to canceling Comcast cable service.

[via Mashable]

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wolfram Alpha and Firefox

I had been hearing about Wolfram Alpha for a while.  I manually went to the web site a few times, and had mixed results.  Since I use Google regularily, I figured if I could compare the results from Google and Wolfram Alpha side by side, I could see which one is better.

This Firefox add-on modifies the Google search results page to contain the results from Wolfram Alpha.  I ran this for a while to compare the results between the two search engines.

For many of the search terms that I looked for, Wolfram Alpha did not return any results.  Maybe , I wasn't formatting the query in a way that Wolfram Alpha wanted.  I have since uninstalled that add-on, and will probably not be using Wolfram Alpha.

[via ChattahBox]

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Comments after switching to WordPress

I have notices something interesting after making the switch to WordPress.  Many of my older posts are now being commented on with a higher frequency than they were with LifeType.  I think that there are some potential reasons for this

  1. LifeType had a Bayesian spam filter.  It is possible that it was trained poorly over time, so these comments were marked as spam and deleted immediately

  2. There could have been a bug in the other spam filters, which would have deleted those comments.

  3. Since I am submitting a new sitemap for the WordPress blog, the posts could see "fresher" and could appear higher in search results.

Netflix on Windows Media Center

Microsoft just released the ability to stream Netflix movies to Vista Media Center.  This is something that Microsoft had implemented in the New Xbox Experience last year.

These implementations allow you to play videos that are on your Netflix instant queue.  It looks like Microsoft did a more functional implementation for Media Center, than what exists on the Xbox .  In addition to letting you play content that is already on your queue, you can browse the whole library of videos available for streaming.  Also, you can manage both your disc and streaming queues.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cancelling Plaxo

I have finally decided to cancel my Plaxo account. I was not pushed over the edge when Plaxo was spamming people with invites.  Also, I didn't cancel my account when Plaxo was sending birthday notifications for friends of friends or for business contacts.

The problem that I have been having with Plaxo is how it deals with imported data.  For example, when you associate a flickr account to your Plaxo account, Plaxo creates an album in your Plaxo account.  This album shows your public flickr photo.  I have two problems with Plaxo's integration.

  1. Photos do not include links to flickr page for that photo.  I believe that this part of the terms of service of flickr to include that link.

  2. Plaxo implements its own comment system for photos.  Personally, I want all comments for photos entered on the flickr page itself.

I like how Facebook integrates with flickr, with the Flickr app.  On Facebook, an is added to your News Feed, but clicking on it will take you to the Facebook pages.

Plaxo does have a good solution for synchronizing contacts.  I have used it to synchronizing contacts between Thunderbird, Outlook and my iPhone.  Since I have switched to Google Mobile Sync, I don't have a need for Plaxo.


In this post, I mentioned  One problem with is that it only does a rudimentary amount of filtering.  (It only filters duplicates.)  For games that change the Xbox Live status often, this will still cause a lot of Tweets to be created.

raptr is a site that does a better job at broadcasting Xbox Live status on Twitter.  Instead of posting a status every n minutes, raptr will post a message, like "paul just started playing %s", when starting to play a game.  In addition to sending statuses when playing games, it will also send messages when you get achievements.  Raptr also supports gaming systems other than Xbox Live.

Here is my profile on Raptr:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Airport and WDS

I have been having problems with one of our Airport Express access points.  Every once in a while, we would loose access to the wireless network on our top floor.  Restarting the Airport Express would fix it.  Until, I eventually I replace it, I have turned on the wireless radio on our other Airport Express that we had been using as a print server.

One annoyance that I had to do was that I had to configure this new base station with the same wireless settings as the other base stations.  This had me thinking that WDS could make this easier to configure.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

WordPress for web site

A while ago, I wanted to set up a new web site.  I didn't want to hand edit the html, as I usually do, so I decided to use Godaddy's Website Tonight to create the web site.  Website Tonight is a web based site management system where you can use GUI tools to edit the look of a web site. The tools are done in such a way where you can easily change the theme, and have it apply to all of the pages.

I have been having some problems with Website Tonight, though.  There is a bug in the UserAgent handling in the editor.  It doesn't recoginze Firefox 3.x as a recent version of a browser.  So I am forced to use Internet Explorer in my Windows XP virtual machine to edit the site.  In addition to that, some of the widgets that they have available have some problems.  For example, Godaddy makes a rss widget available to embed an rss feed in a web page.  The widget doesn't have some of the configuration options that I want.  For example, I want to include the text from the rss items themselves, but I don't want to include the text from the channel element.

I think that WordPress will work perfectly for what I want to do.  I can create multiple pages in WordPress, and they will automatically appear in the navigation for the site.  I can also use WordPress's WYSIWYG editor to edit those pages.  In addition, I know that WordPress doesn't have the problem with UserAgent detection.

Since WordPress natively deals with blog items, I am sure that it will be very easy to create a page that has one category of posts.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Facebook Connect

I have decided to use Facebook Connect on this blog, instead of my previous usage of Google Friend Connect.  There are a few reasons that I am making this switch.

  • I was never impressed with Google Friend Connect's social features.  Google Friend Connect doesn't have a concept of a "friend activity feed".  So there is no way to see in an aggregated list of my contact's activities. With Facebook Connect, comment activities appear in the Facebook News Feed

  • Google Friend Connect's comment system requires Javascript, which is not compatible with all browsers.  Facebook Connect, with the WordPress plugin, the comments are still process in the normally, but there just is an addition step for publishing the status item.

This page has good instructions about setting up Facebook Connect for WordPress.

Google Mail Labs Suggestion

Google has been coming out with some prety cool/useful features in their Labs section of Gmail.  I have an idea of something that I, and maybe others, would find useful.

I often leave myself logged in on my home computer when I go to work.  The computer is set to go to sleep, but it does wake up for backups or if someone logs on.  The problem that I have is that, since I leave a browser open with Gmail in one of the tabs, if someone attempts to chat with me with Google Talk, I will not see that attempt on any other computers, when I next log in.

I would like to see a setting, where I can configure Google Talk to replay the last chats that were sent to an inactive browser session, on the next successful Gmail login.  With this setting, I woudln't miss chat atempts.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Switched to Wordpress

I have just switched this blog to WordPress from LifeType.  The mtexport plugin make this very easy.  The main thing that the Movable Type Import Format doesn't include is image resources.  So, instead of attempting to move the images to WordPress, I just used some mod rewrite rules to redirect those requests.

First, I created an Alias in apache to the LifeType install.  (I did this, so I could have access to the old LifeType installation)  Then I used the following rewrite rules to redirect resource requests, and requests for the rss feeds

RewriteRule ^/gallery(.*) /archive/gallery$1 [L,R=301]
RewriteRule ^/rss.php(.*) /feed/ [L,R=301]

Unfortunately, with these rules, requests for atom feeds will now return rss feeds.

Now, I just need to pick a new theme.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

mtexport plugin

I have created a new plugin, called mtexport, which will export a LifeType blog to the Movable Type Import Format file.  This format is can be imported into WordPress.

The reason that I created this plugin, is because I am moving my blogs to Wordpress.  I have been happy with LifeType, but but I am getting tired of added features myself.  Often when I see some software that is available for other blogs, I have to port it myself.  This is what I did with AddThis, Akismet, Twitter, Related articles plugin, http::BL, and reflection.

I don't want to spend the time creating plugins for the cool new features, so I am just going to switch to WordPress where there is a large library of plugins.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Twitter / Netflix integration

Netflix has added twitter integration.  So now, you can direct message netflix and have discs added to your queue.  This page will walk you through the steps.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I have been doing some php development in emacs.  I have been missing syntax coloring and indenting.  php-mode adds this functionality.

Installing third-party .el files

This blog post has a link to a program to install elisp program from within emacs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Seesmic Desktop on Ubuntu

I mentioned before that I am using Seesmic Desktop as my Twitter client.  The Seesmic Destop client web site states that it is available for Mac and Windows.  Since it is an Adobe Air application, I figured that I could get it to work on my Ubuntu Laptop.

I downloaded the air file, and then ran the  Adobe AIR Application Installer and selected the downloaded file.  The installation worked, and Seesmic Desktop runs perfectly.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Subversion in Xcode

This page has a good description of using subversion in Xcode 3.0.  The integration works pretty well.

I have found that it is easiest to add a new Xcode project to the subversion repository manually, instead of letting XCode do it.  I just create the project in Xcode, and then on the command line, I run svn add.  Then from that point on, Xcodes integration works well. 

Google Profile and social networks

Google recently added the abilty for people who have a Google Account to create a "profile".  This is a way for people to create a page that has personal information that could be shown when a search is done for their name.  This allows the user to specify which information should be shown on this page.  So for example, you can include links to your flickr page or Facebook profile.

In addition to specifying information can been seen by everyone, you can also specify "private" information like email address or phone numbers.  Then you can specify which people you know can see this informaion.  This is similar to the way that most social networks work.

The problem that I have is not with the feature, but with Google's various definitions of who friends are and what a profile.  Currently Google Profile uses the list of the contacts in your Google Talk list as "friends".  But this is a seperate list than the "friends" when using Google Friend Connect.  In addition to the different list of friends, Google Friend Connect also has it's own concept of a profile for a user.

I think it would be great if Google consolidated these into a single friends list and a single profile.  Because until then, these things will not take off.

Upgraded to Kubuntu 9.04

I have just finished upgrading my computer to the 9.04 version of Kubuntu (Ubuntu with KDE as the default window manager).  I was looking forward to trying the new notification system and the new versiion of KDE.

I decided to do the upgrade online, instead of downloading the CD, and upgrading from it.  The I started the upgrade at 10pm on Thursday, and at 8am on Friday, the download finally finished.  I assume that the slow download was caused because of the number of people doing the upgrades at the same time.

Once the upgrade pretty much everything worked.  I did have to do a few things to make things work

  • Install  plasma-widget-network-manager with apt-get.  I needed this in order to get KDE to use my wireless network

  • Followed the steps on this page to make sound work well with PulseAudio

  • Reset permissions on /usr/lib/*.  I had done this before, but setting permissions fixes audio for VMware Workstation.

  • Uses this page as an example to reconfigure my trackpad.  It looks like now, trackpads are not configured in xorg.conf but are not configured with hal.  I was able to reapply my old configuration in the new way

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Google Mail / Calendar on iPhone

I have been very happy with the integration with Google Mail and Google Calendar with the iPhone.  Gmail has a good IMAP implementation that works well in the iPhone's mail application.  Google Mobile Sync's Exchange support works well for synchronizing the iPhone's calendars.

The one problem with the integration with the native applications is that the iPhone's applications doesn't support as many features as Google's.  For example, there is no way to send an invite to a meeting to someone else from the iPhone's calendar application.

Google's mobile version of Google Calendar works well on the iPhone.  I can use this to schedule a new meeting, and invite other people, all from the iPhone.  Also, the new version of the mobile Gmail works well as well.  I will not be using these everyday, but when I need a feature that is missing from the iPhone's version of the apps, I will use the web versions.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

PlayOn and vmcPlayIt

I have been wanted to be able to cancel our cable service for a while.  The thing that I have been wating for is a good way to get the TV content available on line on our TV, without having to use the a keyboard and mouse.  (And ideally integrated into Windows Media Center)

PlayOn is sotware that implements a DNLA server.  Instead of leting you play local content, you can use PlayOn to play videos from Hulu, Amazon Video On Demand, Netflix, YouTube and CBS.  With just the PlayOn software you can either brows videos on the services, or access your queue.  Playing video worked perfectly on my Xbox 360, with PlayOn installed on my Media Center.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Undercover for iPhone

A while ago I was interested in Undercover for Mac OS X.  This application is supposed to help you recover a stolen computer.  It connects to their service periodiocally.  If your computer is stolen, you contact the service and then the next time your computer connects to the service, it takes and uploads a picture of what ever is in front of the computer and the service logs the location of the ip address.

It looks like they now have an iPhone application. It pretty much has the same functionality (I don't think it takes the photo though).  The problem that I see with this solution is that it requires that the person to launch the Undercover application in order for the information to be logged to their service.  I don't see people launching random applications if they steal an iPhone.  Most likely, they will wipe it, and get a new SIM card.  This will make Undercover pretty much useless.

Also, in my case, I lock my phone.  So there is no way that the Undercover application will be launched for the service to log the iPhone's location.

Ideally, for this functionality, iPhone would allow applications to run in the background.  Then it wouldn't require that the user launches an application.  Alternatively, this could be a service that the cellular provider would provide

Monday, April 13, 2009

VMWare Workstation Unity

I use VMware Workstation everyday.  I run Windows XP in it for running iTunes for my iPhone and for playing XM Radio online.  Today I tried out VMware's Unity.  This makes the Windows XP windows appear along side the Ubuntu windows. Also when Unity is enable, the KDE task switcher also shows the Windows programs.

I am happily surprised about how well VMware's Unity works.

Stopped using Google Friend Connect for comments

I have stopped using Google Friend Connect  for blog comments.  There are several things that Google could add to make this more usuable

  1. It should be possible to specify a home page when submitting an anonymous comment

  2. It should be possible to configure the wall to not truncate the messages

  3. It should be possible for the user to configure the what happens when a user clicks on their urls for their authenticated comment (link to Google Friend Connect profile, or blog)

  4. Google should, and maybe already do, process the javascript and index the page using the content of the comments.  There could be a unique comment that someone leaves, and if Google doesn't index it, people will not be able to find the comment.

Seesmic Desktop

Seesmic Desktop is a pretty cool twitter client.  It seems to me to be a cross between Twhirl and TweetDeck.  It has a nice UI and it doesn't use that much screen real estate.

I am running this on my Windows XP virtual machine.  I haven't tried to run it on Ubuntu.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Comments switched to Google Friend Connect

As I was thinking about before, I have disabled comments on this blog, and enabled Google Friend Connect for comments.  I am interested in finding out how well this will work.  I am still not requiring authentication for adding comments, in the hope that Google will still do spam filtering.

Playlist mode with USASpec dock

The USASpec adapter was included as part of the iPhone dock install.  The USASpec adapters have several ways of accessing the music on the iPod or iPhone.  You can access the media either by:

  • Direct - where you need to select the music to play on the iPhone/iPod

  • Folder - where you can browse the music collection by Artist or Album

  • Playlist - where you can preselect some number of playlists that will be easily playable on the headunit

I decided to use Playlist mode, as it also offers the ability to play 6 playlist, also "all songs" and a direct mode.  For the six playlist, it looks for playlist named HONDA1 - HONDA6.  If not all six are found, then it will randomly pick other playlists to fill in the missing spots.  If the adapter is connected to the radio through the XM interface, the playlists are accessed by tuning to channels 1-6.  When using CD changer interface, the playlists appear as CDs.

In addition to playing user playlist, number 7 is used to play all tracks.  And number 8 is for direct mode.  (This is the mode that is used if you want to play Pandora.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

TunerFree MCE

As I have mentioned before, one of my eventual goals of switching to Windows Media Center is to stop paying for cable TV. TunerFree MCE is a Windows Media Center plugin that lets you play video content from various web sites.  In the US this content includes Hulu content.

I installed this on my media center, and it worked fine.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to full screen video to work.  When I selected the "full screen" button, the video appear to be scaled incorrectly. 

The video is too small when it is normal size, and since I can make the video full screen, I have uninstalled it.  I will be watching this project, and hopefully use it to help cancel my cable TV service.

Fixed problem with MyMoves for WHS on Extenders

I have been using My Movies for a while now.  I am using the Windows Home Server version.  My Movies for Windows Home server allows you to keep all of your movies on the server, and play them back in Windows Media Center.  This has been working great.  I have been having problems with playing the movies on the Media Center Extenders

The first problem is that the cover art doesn't appear.  Then when attempting to play the movie, an error would appear that the file could not be found.

This thread on the My Movies forum describes the steps needed to fix the thumbnails on the extender.  I found a similar solution that fixed the video files.  I RDP'd into the Home Server and then went into the "Sharing & Security" setting of the share that has the movie files.  In that setting page I made sure that both "Anonymous Users" and "Everyone" has read access to that share.  Once I did that, everything works great.


I have been wanting to get better integration with my iPhone in my car.  Normally I would just connect my iPhone to the line-in jack of my radio.  The problem with this is that, if I want to skip songs, I need to wake the iPhone, enter the password, then select the skip track button.  This is pretty dangerous while trying to drive.  So I have been interested in getting a solution where I can use the controls on my head unit to control playback from the iPhone.  In addition to controling the iPhone, I wanted a solution that would look stock in the car.

2point5 is a company that specialized in custom installs of iPhone and iPods.  They took this experience and now sell docks that are custom made for various cars.  In addition to the docks, they also bundle the needed adapters for the various manufacturers' radios.

I bought the spec.dock package HONFGV2IPKG. This package includes the USASpec PA15-HON2.  This adapter can be connected to either radio's XM or CD changer interface.  When connected to the XM interface, song meta data is shown on the radio's display. Unfortunately, the XM interface doesn't work with the Honda headunit that has navigation, so the CD changer adapter was used.

iPhone3Ginspec.dockin2008CivicSiI like the way the dock fits into the car.  It really looks good.  Also the integration with the radio controls works very well.  I would recommend the spec.dock. Here is an album with some photos of the install.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Blog Comments using Google Friend Connect

I am thinking about disabling comments on this blog, but also adding Google Friend Connect's Wall gadget.  This would enable:

  • Offload the spam filtering from my server

  • Reduce the chance of security holes, as less user input would allowed on my server

  • Enable cross site conversations,

  • Enable the users to archive their comments

But there are some downsides to this

  • Requires a browser to have JavaScript enabled to leave a comment

  • Potentially slows the page loads, as requests have to go to additional servers.

  • For posts that already have comments, the comments that had been previously added will not appear the same as the new comments.

Has anyone else done this?  If so, how well does it work?  Or should I just stick to LifeType's internal comments?

Exporting Tags in Windows Live Gallery

Before moving to iPhoto I was using Windows Live Gallery to manage my photos.  One reason that I liked Windows Live Gallery over the older versions of iPhoto is that it had face detection.  This allowed me to identify people in my photos.

Another reason that I liked Windows Live Gallery, is that it has native flickr support.  Since I do use flickr, this reduced the number of tools that were need to handle my photos.

Unfortunately, the integration between Windows Live Gallery's people tagging an flickr support is missing something.  When I usethe flickr web interface, I tag photos with a tag for each person that is in the photo.  Since Windows Live Gallery supports taging photos with the names of the subject people, and arbirtary other tags.  When you upload photos to flickr, the string tags get added as tags on flickr, but no flickr tags get added for the people identified in the photos. It would be great if I can enable Windows Live Gallery to create a flickr tag for every person identified in a photo.

iPhoto '09 has the same features that WIndows Live Gallery had.  Now that I am using it I will tests to see if Apple has implemented the functionality that I have described.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Annoyance with Windows Media Center and WHS Power Pack 2

The recently released Power Pack 2 adds better integration with Windows Media Center to Windows Home Server.  Now you can specify shares to be "Windows Media Center shares", where you don't have to specify permissions or make sure that the Media Center is running as a user that exists on the WHS.

In addition to Music, Videos and Pictures, Power Pack 2 adds the notion of a "Recorded TV" share.  dvr-ms files that are places on this share will automatically appear in the Recorded TV secion of Widows media Center.  I was pretty exicited about this, as this would allow us to archive TV shows and watch them later, but without wasting disk space on the Media Center.  For example, we copied 25 eposides of Six Feet Under to the WHS.

But there appears to be a problem with this integration.  Some time when I look at Windows Media Center, the files that are located in the "Recorded TV"  share on the Home Serve do not appear.  Only the files that are local to the computer will appear.  If I double click on one of the files that reside on the Home Server, on the media center, the it then appears in Media Center UI.

If I reboot the Media Center PC or let it sit for a day or so, the TV shows do come back.  It seems that there is something that is causing the Media Center to loose references to the content that is not local, but something does start a scan for new content.  I need to figure out how I can force that scan.

RSS feeds for KLIV podcasts

I am a fan of KLIV, which is a local radio station in Silicon Valley.  Last year they started offering "podcasts", but didn't have any rss feeds for the shows.  The only way to listen to the shows was to either play the files in a browser or manually download them and add it to your music player. 

I decided to write a perl script that would parse the html of those pages, and generate a rss feed that includes those enclosures.  So far this script works with  most of the podcasts.  I am sure with a little bit of tweaking, the others will work as well.

Here is the script. Here is an example of using it:

./ /tmp/file.rss

I have put up a page that contains links to the rss feeds that I have generated.

 I hope that KLIV adds builtin support for rss, as the feeds will be more up to data, and there would less chance of things breaking when the html changes.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

subversion over ssh

This post has a description on how to use subversion over ssh.  This makes it easy to have a place to check in files for projects that I am working on, where the repository is hosted offsite. 

It is a lot easier to use subversion this way, instead of using a subversion server, as I don't have to run another server or open another port in my firewall.  Though this does require me to have a ssh user account for everyone who would access this repository, and permissions need to be set appropriately on the repository. 

Sunday, March 29, 2009

mophie iPhone 3G Juice Pack

mophieiPhoneJuicePackI was going on a trip a few weeks ago.  I wanted to make sure that my iPhone would not run out of power, especially since there would be longer times than usual that I would be away from a charger.

I bought the mophie iPhone 3G Juice Pack
.  This is a battery pack for the iPhone that connects to the iPhone like a case.  I chose this battery pack instead of others, as it would fit in my pocket while it is attached.

The Juice Pack is 1800 mAh battery, that doubles the battery life of the iPhone.  It connects to the iPod dock connector.  The Juice Pack has a USB port that it uses to chare the battery.  If a iPhone is also attached, the iPhone's battery will be charged before the Juice Pack's.  Also on discharge, the Juice Pack's battery is discharged before the iPhone's internal, so you can remove it from the battery pack once the battery pack loses power.

The only problem that I have with the mophie Juice Pack is that after I put on a BodyGuardz protector on my iPhone, it takes a significant amount of force to put on and take off the battery pack.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recorded TV Manager

The Windows Media Center has been working for us.  I have been interested in finding a way to copy recorded TV shows to my Windows Home Server.  This would allow me to record TV shows, and save them off the Media Center hard drive, but I can still watch them when I have time.

Recorded TV Manager has two main functions.

  1. It copies recordings from the Media Center to a Windows Home Server when they finish

  2. It copies recordings from the Home Server to a Media Center PC

  3. It fixes a problem in Windows Media Center where it will delete duplicate recordings and will enable playback by Original Airdate.

The copying/moving is controlled by rules that enable you to do things like:

  • Archive all episodes of show to a Windows Home Server

  • Automatically copy recorded shows to a Windows Media Center that doesn't have a tuner

  • Lets you play a series in order of air date

Here is a page that has come example usages of Recorded TV Manager


I have been trying to get the Google Reader items that I share and the links that I add on, and post them to my blog once a day.  I wrote a rss plugin for LifeType that would create a post with the contents of an rss feed.  The problem is that I have not been able to generate a rss feed that only contains that last 24 hours of items. The problem is that the rss feed of shared items from Google Reader doesn't include the date/time that the item was shared. 

LoudTwitter is a service that will post the last 24 hours of your Twitter entries to a blog.  A while ago, FriendFeed added the ability to post to Twitter.  I have already configured my FriendFeed account with my Google Reader Shared item, and my account.

Setting up LoudTwitter was pretty easy.  I created a new user on my blog that LoudTwitter would use (that doesn't have as much prividledges as my normal account. Also I can disable the account if needed.)  It was able to post to my blog well.

I don't think that I will use this service.  The problem is that I want to limit the types of content that gets posted. I don't want to post random twitter post, but I do want to include links that I post on twitter.  Also, I don't want to include links to articles on the blog that LoudTwiter is posting to.  LoudTwitter does have the ability to limit content to those that include a #loudtwitter hash tag.  The problem with this is that, I can't control the text that Google Reader uses for the shared items.

I think that my ideal solution is that FriendFeed adds this functionality.  I imagine that they should do something like their integration with Twitter.  I should be able to select which services I would want included in the post.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

tweets of the day

  • tweets of the day #
  • Paul is waiting.... #
  • Awesome price - Dell Outlet Studioâ„¢ Hybrid desktop PCs starting at $399 - (via @DellOutlet) #
  • Paul is at Starbucks with K before picking up M from school. #
  • Paul is feeling pretty proud watching his kids' swim lessons. #
  • Boxee Adds Pandora, PBS, and New API (via @Lifehacker) #
  • Creme That Egg! #
  • RoninRevenge - Playing Call of Duty: WaW; Playing Free-for-All on Dome #
  • RoninRevenge - Playing Call of Duty: WaW; Playing Free-for-All on Station #
  • RoninRevenge - Joinable - Playing Call of Duty: WaW; Playing Team Deathmatch on Nightfire #
  • RoninRevenge - Joinable - Playing Call of Duty: WaW; In Pre-Game Lobby #
  • RoninRevenge - Playing Call of Duty: WaW; In a party #
  • RoninRevenge - Playing Call of Duty: WaW; In Pre-Game Lobby #
  • RoninRevenge - Playing Call of Duty: WaW; Playing Search and Destroy on Knee Deep #
Automatically shipped by LoudTwitter

Monday, March 23, 2009

tweets of the day

Automatically shipped by LoudTwitter

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Media Center Health Monitor

I just installed the Media Center Health Monitor on our Media Center.  This application parses the Windows Event Log and presents the Media Center related events.  In addition to displaying this information in the application itself, it will also upload the data to the Media Center Health Monitor web site, so you can see this information remotely.  You can also configure this application to email status changes and post them to Twitter.  I created a twitter account for my media center and I followed it with my personal account.  

There is also Windows Home Server add-in, that will let you view this information for all of your media centers, without logging into the web site.

Recursive p4 add

I never remember how to recursively add files to perforceThis page describes a command to do it.

On the Linux/Mac OS X p4 command line tool this is the command:

find . -type f -print | p4 -x - add

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

There are a lot of services that integrate with posts messages to your twitter account with your status on Xbox Live.  This includes the title of the game that you are playing, and the information of where you are in that game, if it is available.

Flickr, Youtube, Picasa in Gmail

A new feature was added to Gmail Labs that will show a previews of photos or videoes in email messages in the Gmail web interface.  This will happen when only a link to is included in the email.  I tried this, and it works pretty well.

I wonder if a following version of this feature will present your email in a graphical view, based on the content either attached or linked to email messages, instead of a text based view of the email messages.  This could be someing similar to Xoopit, but wouldn't have the security issues that I mentioned before.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Incredimail and IMAP

My grandmother uses Incredimail on her computers to check her email. She uses POP3, so when one computer downloads a mail message, it is not available on other computers. This causes a problem because, if instances of Incredimail are running on multiple computers at the same time, you don't know which computer has the email messages.

While I was down there, I figured I would switch the configuration to IMAP to help alleviate these problems. This is the situation where IMAP is supposed to work. I set up Incredimail to use IMAP, but the same behavior was happening.

It looks like Incredimail doesn't implement IMAP correctly. It doesn't synchronize the IMAP folders, but instead just downloads the messages, while leaving them on the server. I don't think that Incredimail should even state that it supports IMAP.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

avast! Windows Home Server Edition review

This past week, I installed a Windows Home Server for my grandmother. One of the pieces of software that I wanted to install was an anti-virus program for the server, and all of the computers in the house. I chose the avast! Professional Family Pack, which includes the avast! Windows Home Server Edition and a 10 pack of avast! Profession Edition client versions, Avast! really seemed to work well for her install.

This post has a review of the home server version of avast!.

[via MS Windows Home Server blog]

Friday, March 13, 2009

Firefox 3.1b for Ubuntu

I have been trying to limit the software that I install on my laptop running Ubuntu to that which is available in repositories, as opposed to manual installs or building it myself.  The main reason, is it is a hassle to keep up to date as software changes.

I was holding off installing the Firefox 3.1 beta, as I thought that I would have to download and manually install it.  This page describes the repository that has the latest Firefox 3.1 beta.  Once I configured that repository, all I had to do is run

sudo apt-get install firefox-3.1

 Everything is working great with this version of the browser, except that Google Gears is not compatible.  This just means that I will not be able to use the offline mode of several sites.  If I need that, I can always revert bact to Firefox 3.0.x.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mail via Gmail with Firefox 3

I know that I have seen this before, and have run through these steps to use Gmail as my mailto application in Firefox 3.  Since then, I have switched to a different computer, and attemped to use Thunderbird as mail client, but have started use the web interface more.

This post describes how to use the Gmail web interface to handle mailto urls.  This page also describes what you need to do to get it to work with Google Apps domains. 

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sans Digital TowerRAID TR4M-B 4 Bay SATA to eSATA Enclosure

Our Windows Home Server was running out of disk space.  We had four drives in the internal bays of the HP MediaSmart Server.  I also had two external USB drives attached to the rear USB ports.  (I have a DVD drive attached to the third USB port) I wanted to add a few more drives, and also I wanted to reduce the number of enclosures next to the server.

I wanted to find a drive enclosure that had an SATA port replicator.  This would allow me to attach several SATA drives to the external eSATA port. (This solution will mean that the bandwidth will be shared among the drives.)  The Sans Digital TR4M-B is the best enclosure that I found.

I set it up several weeks ago, and it works perfectly with the  HP MediaSmart Server ex475.  The drives appear the same as they interal SATA drives do on the MediaSmart server.

The only think that I suprised me is that the power LED on the TR4M-B is orange.  When I normally see an orange LED, it makes me think that there is some error.  But it appears that this is just the normal color of it.

One issue that I had is with the design of the case.  You can hot swap SATA drives and the TR4M has a door in front, so you can access the drives.  The problem is that the drives are screwed directly into the enclosure itself, and not in drive sleds.  This is not the major problem itself, but to get access to the screws, you have to remove the top/sides of the enclosure.  What I do is only leave the thumb screws on the top back of the case.  When I want access to a drive, I remove those screws, and just slide the cover back enough for me to get access to the drive screws.  This allows me to hot swap drives when I need to.

The TR4M-B will not work with the new MediaSmart Servers (i.e ex48x).  The new servers do not suport SATA port replication.


I have been trying to figure out what to do with my Xbox 360 games after I finished them.  I have been selling games back to GameStop, but the amount of money that you get is pretty low.  My friends recommended that I try Goozex

Goozex is a site that you can trade your games for points, and you can use those points to get other used games.  Goozex sets the point value for the games.  You can list your games, and then when your offer gets to the top of the list, you print out a label and send the game directly to the person who requested it.  When they receive it, they acknowledge it, and you get credited for the trade.

The main benefit of Goozex over GameStop or Amazon Video Game Trade, is that the value of the any game that you trade, is a lot higher.  You can actually get a game by trading a single game.  With GameStop or Amazon, it is very unlikely that you can get a recent game after a single trade. 

Seamless Local Control: Integrating WeatherFlow with Home Assistant Across VLANs

I've been pleased with my Home Assistant setup for some time now. One of my main focuses has been achieving local control. This ensures...