Happy New Year!

Hey Folks! I hope you all had as nice as a New Years Eve as our family did.  It was really nice and we spent some good times with our neighbors and met a lot of nice people.  The kids had fun and even though I slept in, I feel pretty good.

Chinese TV

Today, I am going to finish helping my Chinese mother-in-law set up a Medialounge device on her TV.  You see, she bought this rather cool set top box that was a wireless media extender but was pre-programmed to go out and get Chinese content on her TV.  She would like to watch this on her TV while she did her treadmill, Lose Weight Exercise bike, etc.  She doesn’t want to watch it on her computer monitor.

We got it set up and I was pretty impressed.  I can’t read Chinese but it did look like it was going to be great.  What she found out was, they get you hooked and then literally nickel and dime you to death.  The first shows are free, then $.10, then $.50, and so on.  She sent it back, but wished we could do something else.

D-link DPG-1200

We had a family trip to our local Fry’s and we were trying to figure out how to get the Chinese content off her PC onto her TV.   Sure, Fry’s had a ton of the wireless media players, but they were expensive.  They had two open boxes for the D-Link DPG-1200.  I scanned the barcode with my Google G1 and found that the price was right but had a really hard time finding any reviews.

I brought it home to set it up and was impressed.   Now this is no original XBOX with XBMC on it, but it would do fine for our needs.

Wireless Woes

What I didn’t plan on was that her PC is hooked up wireless as well as the DPG-1200.  The DPG-1200 could get content from the Internet just fine, but watching content off of her PC sucked bad.  I’m guessing it had to do with both devices being connected to the LAN wirelessly.

So the plan is when we go over there, will run Cat5 cable through the walls.  This is always a slippery slope.

My thoughts on the Dlink DPG-1200

Honestly, I like DPG-1200, but I will admit the set up was very complex.  I don’t think the less tech savvy crowd would have hung with it as much as I did.   Additionally, there is almost zero documentation on what to expect with the device.  Someone who never had a device like this would be like, “Okay, now what?”

I can’t even tell if it supports uPNP, but that’s just me.  For my mother-in-law, I think she’ll be happy but if she didn’t have me around to help, I think she would have disappointed and frustrated.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes today.

VMware, Trixbox 2.4, and Viatalk

As I promised, I’d update more often about some of the things I’ve been working on.  In my other posts, I’ve been playing around with VMWare ESXi in my basement on an older Dell 1750.

I had a couple of goals.

  • Update my Trixbox (Asterisk) installation
  • Run SpaceWalk
  • Run ZenOSS
  • Have a linux utility box
  • Screw around and push VMWare’s ESXi until it cried for mercy

Update my Trixbox (Asterisk) installation

I still get a lot of traffic to my site since I have some detailed instructions for setting up ViaTalk with Trixbox.  Some time recently, my current server, version 2.2 stopped working reliably.  The Tin Foil hat crowd pointed their fingers at Comcast but I couldn’t buy that in my hearts of hearts.  Sure enough, ViaTalk updated some of there settings and I could get my Trixbox installation working about 50% of the time.

So, version 2.4 has come out.  So I started fresh.  All my VM’s are 2 CPU’s with 4GB RAM.  ESX|ESXi does a great job of abstracting the amount of memory so even thought the OS sees all 4GB’s, the VM is really only taking up about 150MB’s on the hypervisor; YMMV.

After screwing around (the back up and restore method DID NOT work), I finally got a “golden image.”  I got in the habit of snapshotting my VM image so I could always roll back if need be instead of suffering another complete install.

I have my VM’s to have their filesystem on the drives in the 1750, but the swap is actually served off NFS on my Freebsd box, (you might ask yourself why I did this.  Remember, I wanted to see the breaking points of the VM’s so I did some things intentionally that would create some overhead).

I got everything set up and it worked great… except on tiny thing.  Now, I have to have:

Allow Anonymous Inbound SIP Calls?
** WARNING **

Setting this to ‘yes’ will potentially allow ANYBODY to call into your Asterisk server using the SIP protocol

It should only be used if you fully understand the impact of allowing anonymous calls into your server

set to “Yes” in order to receive calls.  Otherwise, callers get “This number is not in service” when they ring our number.    It took me awhile to find this.  It’s in the General Settings.

I have to say that it is working MUCH better.   I tried to run Trixbox under Microsoft’s Virtual PC about a year ago and it sucked.   Granted, the Dell 1750 is much different than my powerful, homebuilt WinXP desktop, but I must admit that I was a little skeptical.

Even setting up my Cisco 7960 was easy.  I did have to refer to my older posts trying to remember how to unlock my phone.

The Rest… more to come…


The rest of the items I mentioned will come in other posts, otherwise I might be here all night.

T-mobile G1 / Google Android… Goodbye T-mobile Wing

A moment of thanks…

First off, I’d to thank a lot of you… most of the traffic I get to my site comes from people looking for information on the T-Mobile Wing.  I had the phone for about 1.5 years and posted all sorts of information.  Most importantly, many of you posted comments and offered help and tips to myself and others, and for that I am very thankful.

One door closes, another opens…

However, earlier in the month, my Tmobile Wing suffered a tramatic episode when all three of the children ran over it, (they were chasing eash other) and it got smooshed… really smooshed with a cracked LCD and everything.   At that point, I got “executive approval” to get a new phone.  My wife suggested an iPhone and I was about to pull the trigger until I heard that the T-mobile G1 was coming out on October 22.  I decided to wait.

The countdown…

I was all nervous on launch day, the 22nd.  I was worried I couldn’t find one and then I read that Costco and Best Buy would also be carrying them, but it was unclear when.  So after my big presentation on Wednesday moring, I drove to Costco and they had ’em.  Plus, you got a free “accessory kit” which was a Jabra bluetooth headset and a car charger.  Hey, it’s better than nothing.

Final Verdict…

I LOVE this phone.  I’m not going to rehash all the reason why I like it, there are a ton of other people who give it a thumbs up, but I am really impressed with it.  And there’s been no shortage of coverage and it looks like everyone is on the same page.

Coverage…

Over at the Download Sqaud, they have some great pieces about the first hands on with the G1 and a good post about Twitteroid, (which I haven’t installed yet since the offical release comes out Monday).

Lifehacker has a hands on post.  Gizmodo has a Android App Marathon and a category to get you going.

Walt Mossberg also seems to think the T-Mobile G1 is worthy.  Btw, Walt is awesome.

There are plenty of forums dedicated to Android/G1 coverage, and they include:

G1 for three days…

I will say that I enjoy this phone way more than my T-mobile Wing.  To be fair, I did not have a data plan with my Wing since I used Wifi with it so maybe that’s not a fair comparison.  But I do like the seemless Gmail integration.

The IM’ing on the G1 is also okay, not great.  Like all other phones I’ve owned, the default IM uses SMS for IM’ing.  I’m not big on that but I don’t it will be long before someone writes a cross IM-platform client for the G1.  Here’s a list of apps I think would be killer:

  • IM: Jabber/XMPP, AIM, Yahoo!, and MSN
  • Facebook App (using mobile web interface)
  • Brightkite App (using mobile web interface)

Apps I love:

  • Google Maps:  This is totally awesome.  You can do “street view” with the GPS and enable “compass mode.”  This is too hard to explain in text but if you see it, it will blow you away.
  • Barcode reader: Yeah, yeah… I know the iPhone has this too, but I think it is really neat.
  • Various weather apps:  All very useful
  • Gmail
  • Web browser: The web browser is better than ANY WM-base browser I’ve seen, including Opera-mini.

I’m still playing with it and rumor has it a slew of new app will hit the market place on Monday.

Expect way more to come.

wherever I go, there I am…

I never really stopped to ponder how far I have come.  A lot has happened, and it happened pretty quick but it was a natural progression.  Last week, my Mac Book Pro started acting funny.  I was experiencing lock ups and it got so bad, I couldn’t get anything done.   I saw some error messages in my log files that would suggest that the drive was beginning to fail.  Fast forward to last Wednesday and I am again using my MBP with a new hard drive.

But while it was in the shop, I was still productive and busy…  and here’s how I did it.

Portable Apps

For some reason, I got a bug up my butt.  I needed a usb jump drive.  I needed one bad.  Okay, I didn’t have a really good reason when I actually bought it, but I knew in my bones I needed one.  Microcenter has a house brand of memory sticks.  I got a 4GB on for something like $12.  I installed three things on it right away.

Web Browsing

So I got portable versions of Firefox for both Mac and Windows.  I have been using My FoxMarks to sync my bookmarks between multiple browsers amongst the multiple computers I have.  It’s a great Firefox plugin so I know my latest bookmarks are with me whichever computer I am on.

Email

Email is also available for me anywhere I go.  I’ve been using IMAP forever so all I need is a configured client or even a web browser to access my email from anywhere.  So, on my portable apps, I have a configured portable version of Thunderbird.

I also use Gmail for most of my emailing so between IMAP and Gmail, I’m covered.

If you have a webhosting account, most WebHosts offer IMAP as one of the services they offer, along with a webmail version to access your email.

Chatting / IM’s / Instant Messaging

Naturally, I installed the portable version of Pidgin on my thumbdrive, but lately I’ve been using Digsby on my Windows machines.   By using one Digsby login, it has ALL my IM and social networking stuff:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

That works for me and a Mac version is rumored to come out soon.  But regardless, I am able to access all my IM contacts with ease, no matter where I’m at.

My Documents

All of these portable apps are handy, sure.  But you are probably wondering what I did to keep my most needed documents and files handy in the event I need them.

I started using Mozy to back up only my documents.  Buried on their site, you can find the free plan that allows you to back up 2GB of files.  It’s pretty handy to access my stuff online when it’s needed immediately.

Of course you can use Google Docs, but Mozy is also pretty slick.

In the end, everything worked out.  My MBP was covered by my warranty and I got a new 200GB drive out of the deal, (my original drive was 160GB).  And I was able to do a complete, 100% restore via Timemachine on my Mac.  But having that USB drive with all those portable apps helped me make it while otherwise avoiding Mac-withdrawl.

wii controller and Mac Book

First, let me apologize for not coming up with a more catchy title for this post. I’ve been overwhelmed by the information I’ve found over this weekend.  That’s no exaggeration.  Furthermore, this is all new to me so I am not up on the digitial music vernacular so it’s like learning a new language.

First, if you saw my Tweets, you would have seen how excited I was that caught wind that the Wii controllers have Bluetooth in them.  I honestly had no idea.  Additionally, there’s been a ton of super smart, talented people out there writing crazy apps (for Win, Linux, and Mac) to do all sorts of crazy things.

How this started was that I got some great comments from Andy on Bob on my Theremin post a couple of days ago.  Somehow, I got down the rabbit hole looking for ways to make a Theremin-sort-of-thing on my Mac using the Wii controllers.

I found a great amount of great resources and I got pretty darn close.  But I had to learn how to use GarageBand, play around with the Mac MIDI drivers, and put them all together and make ’em play nice.  If I understood all the terminology, this would be easier, I think.

I was playing “drums” and guitar with my Wii controller, Nunchuck, and Garageband.  That was pretty cool, I must say.  I read about WiiJ’s and other looping sort of things.  I was so excited that I jumped head first into it, trying to get it all to work.  And that’s my problem.  I got to the point where it just wasn’t making sense any more, (seriously, I’ve felt like this trying to learn a new language).

The good news, I think I got all the pieces I need and I learned a ton about the potential for the Wii remote and digital music making, not just a Theremin.   I need to digest it and put together in a way that makes sense.  This is some pretty slick stuff.

Oh, did I mention that a lot of this isn’t just for the Mac?

Definitely more to come!

Wii Loop Machine Demo from The Amazing Rolo on Vimeo.

Theremin

Holy geez, I wan to build a theremin something fierce.   I have ALWAYS been fascinated by this.  I also want to build my own RDS-TMC traffic receiver.  It can’t be that hard.  Probably the hardest part is finding the right parts.

Leon Theremin playing one.

Leon Theremin playing one.

cms for the masses

I love Drupal. What? You haven’t heard of Drupal? Well then, you just don’t know what you’re missing. Drupal is a robust, open source CMS application written in PHP and using MySQL. I’ve played around with Joomla, and it’s pretty cool. But when I had a big project for a real “content management system” I went with Drupal and never looked back.

The original goal of my original project was to come up with some way for multiple users to submit and publish content on a community website. I was in the position to upload and edit multiple PHP pages to make any updates or changes to the website. I figured there should be a better way. That’s where Drupal came in.

I set it up for my son’s school. It was very successful. I handled the administration and the care and feeding of the webserver, and a real marketing pro handled the content part of it. As of tonight we have over 200 registered users and a ton of anonymous users. I’m proud of it.

At work, we have a fine “oral tradition” that our newer employees, (myself included) are having a hard time getting our heads around. I installed Drupal as a way to address this. So far, so good. Many see the value of what I’m trying to do.

Now, add a dash of “social marketing” into the mix. I am a big fan of transparency. I want to lay my cards on the table and let you see what I’m working on, what my team is working on, and help you understand the challenges we face. It would be really great if I could get my team blogging on our departmental Drupal site. I’m not yet convinced they are comfortable with this. As I said in previous posts, opening up the Kimono a little bit can be a little uncomfortable.

What are your thoughts on getting your team to participate in this sort of communication? How would you sell your team on doing this? I realize that this might add some additional overhead to the workday, but I wonder what the ROI is on this sort of PR. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.  How can social martketing help an department within a company?

Another b0rked WordPress upgrade

You might have seen that I had some problems with my upgrade to WP 2.6 last night.  Dreamhost, my webhosting provider, has a “one-click install/upgrade” and for whatever reason the process treated my WordPress installation as a “new” installation and changed my configs to point to an old database with a different table prefix.  It’s easy to fix but takes some time and some paying close attention.

In the process, I also found out that I needed to drop Ultimate Tag Warrior for tagging so I disabled the plugin.  I was able to import the UTW tags right into WordPress and the tags and tagging is working SO much better.

I’m going to be trying to update more often.  I’ve been really busy so I got to say about a lot of things.

R.I.P Mio, Hello TomTom

First off, let me first apologize for not posting more frequently.  I’m sorry.  I’ve been really busy with my not-so-new job, (which I love and am thankful for), but the our son is already back in school and I’ve been wrapping up some consulting gigs that I had lingering.

Having said that, you might remember that I posted that my Mio c310x died.  The touch screen stopped working.  Mio said it would cost $100 for repairs.  Honestly, that’s a tough pill to swallow so I decided that I will sell my old Mio on Ebay for parts.  I got a bunch of Mio-specific accessories.

So I was in the market for a new GPS.  My Dad had a Garmin, which was okay.  I still like the MioMap software better, so I was still looking at my options.  I didn’t really care for Bluetooth, or even Text To Speech (TTS), so I settled on the TomTom XL 330 that was on sale at Fry’s.

I’ll do a full blown review later, but the one thing that I think is really neat, is that there is both Mac and Windows TomTom software.  I have died and gone to heaven!  The first night I got my TomTom, I really messed it up.  I had to go in and delete files and restore the core OS on it, (it runs linux) and other than that, I am really happy with it.  My only beef with it, is that there is no SD slot and I am wondering what will happen when I want to install European maps on it.

I would also like to try to make my own RDS-TMC receiver for it.  I don’t think it would be too hard to make since it sounds like a slightly more complex crystal radio.

I’ll post here when I list my Mio on Ebay.  I also want to thank all of you who come here looking for Mio hacking tips and other GPS related info.  I am glad you have all found it useful.

Don’t get me wrong, if Mio had fixed my c310 I’d still be using it, but $100 is alot when I can get newer technology for just a little more and there seems to be some thing afoot that may prevent any updates to MioMap.

Thanks everyone for being patient with me.

biking to work

Okay, I couldn’t really come up with a fancy or catchy title for this post. But this is great.  It’s actually a dream come true.  It turns out it is really easy for me to bike into my office.  This is an added bonus and I’m so happy about this.

Where we live, we live very near the Silver Comet Trail.  In fact, from my garage to the local access point to the trail is 2.5 miles.  Now, the Silver Comet Trail is cool in its own right, but what’s really cool is that the city of Smyrna, GA has build the “Cumberland Connector.”  Sadly, or suprisingly, there is hardly any info available online about the Cumberland Connector and where it goes.

So, door to door from home to office is going to be just around 10 +/- miles.  That’s totally doable.  So far, I’ve been parking at a grocery store / shopping center which makes my commute about 6.5 miles and I have the option of finishing my morning ride on part of a trail that goes into the Chattahoochie National Forest.  It’s really great.

I have a good friend who has a bike shop right near the trail head of the Silver Comet Trail.

I bought a new set of cycling bibs, (which I highly recommend) and a new bike computer.  So right now, my ride is around 6 miles (as I said) and it takes about 30 minutes to ride in.  And I typically burn 480 – 640 calories, (remember, I’m a big fan of hear rate moniters, HRM’s).

As I mentioned, it’s been hard to find any good resources online, but I did find a nice PDF that explains the new and proposed trails in the area.  I’ll include it here in case it helps you.

trails-in-cobb-cumberland-galleria-area-2007