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.


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.

vmware home project

Okay, it really isn’t a “home project”; I just like playing around with it. We’ve been really going forward with VMWare at work and I have drank the cool aide. I see the bigger picture and how it all fits into place. But I wanted to get an understanding of how it work and how it can be broken and at what point does it fall over.

The Server
I have the fortune to check out a Dell 1750 from work and bring it home and I am running VMWare ESXi.  Yes, I have a rack in my basement and a home run box so this is easy to stick in, (but man, is this thing loud.  I can hear the fans on the first floor).  It’s got dual xeon’s and 2GB of memory.   My goals are as follows:

  • Set up a Spacewalk server (the open source version of Redhat’s Satellite)
  • Run a Trixbox Image
  • Run a media server (TBD)
  • Run a dedicated MySQL server
  • Run a local WordPress installation

So I figure five different servers running CentOS would be a good proof of concept.  At this point, I thought I’d be able to post a bunch of good things about the set up, but it’s been a learning experience.  So I was able to upgrade the drives, reconfigure the RAID setup and start over.  It is my intention to post my finding and results over time. 

Yes, and in case you are wondering, I am intentionally over subscribing my VM’s to my Dell 1750.  I wanted to learn how to make it run as effeciently as possible and see how far I can push it.

Definitely… 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 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.

i feel like a new man

Wow, it’s been a crazy couple of months.  I’ve been settling into my job, (which I am so happy at), I’ve been wrapping up some projects, and I’ve been finishing up with some clients AND trying to develope some new business leads.

My job is going great.  One of the things we were really lacking, (my department) was a robust ticketing system.   Someone suggested RT::Request Tracker.  I had never heard of it before, and I am very impressed.  The best thing, I believe, is that every browser works with it, and works well.  It’s all Perl based so one can grock it fairly quickly.  But it’s also very powerful and configureable. It was a bitch to install it since it required so many Perl modules, but I stuck with it and got it going.

I might have mentioned before that I am a big fan of Drupal.  We set up a departmental portal recently using Drupal.  I like it.  I used Drupal for our son’s school and was very impressed with it:

One of the things I would like to try to promote is the social networking tools like Drupal or Twitter at work.  I would like to have a departmental blog.  I feel it is very important to communicate the work we are doing, (which is nothing short of excellent).  I’m not sure how my reports will feel about it.  We’ll just have to see.  If you got some ideas or thoughts around bring social networking into the office, please let me know.

On the productivity side of things, I’ve been loving Remember the Milk.  They just release a Firefox add-on that integrates with Gmail.  It’s pretty slick and I use it quite a bit.  I see they also released some clients, but I haven’t had a chance to monkey around with them, yet.

I also spent some time tending to my long neglected WordPress installation.  I need to read documentation more closely.  I got my tags issues all straightened out and things are humming along nicely.

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.

you gotta have a tool box

So, I’ve been settling in at my new job.  I love it.  The company is great, the people I work with are great, and everyone wants to work hard and I feel appreciated.  It’s cool.

But in my six months off in between jobs, I’ve learned some things.   Sure, I’ve read Getting Things Done and tried to put the methodology in place, but with most things, I want to use a tool; either web based or an application.  Sure, I also have a Moleskine, but I consider that a portable utility.

While I was off, I did some contracting, or perhaps consulting is the better term.  I needed a new set of tools to help me be successful.  Now, what I learned and have used is helping me in my new job.  I wanted to write about some of them.

Here’s a quick list of my current toolbox:

Remember the Milk is a slick web app that allows you to keep track of todo items and assign them a context to them, a due date, tags, and keep up with recurrences.   I like it since since RTM has a Twitter account, so if I got to add a todo item quickly, I can send a direct message to rtm via IM and it ends up in my inbox to be processed.  I can even do it via SMS so I don’t have to be around a computer to put those distracting thoughts in their place.  The site is slick, well done, thought out, and sort of fun to use.  I am considering upgrading to a Pro account.

IWantSandy isn’t a porno site.  Rather is is a PIM that is interactive.  I don’t use it much but I do find it handy every once in a while.  For example, I used it today.  IWantSandy also has a Twitter account, so you can direct message Sandy with commands.  Today, I direct messages Sandy via IM like this:

d s remind me in seven days to email Doug about lunch

To which Sandy replied:

Merhaba, Jpabian!

I scheduled this for you:
Thu, 5/29 2:54pm Email doug

  • email and sms reminders at 2:54pm
[ Archive ]
[ Forget ]
[ Mark to-do ]
[ Download ]

Here when you need me,


FYI: If you need help, just ask: help

So now I don’t need to think about it and I get a remind to do it.  And if you follow the GTD methodology, you know this will take less than two minutes and I can fire off an email to Doug.  Pretty handy.

PBwiki is simply a personal wiki site.  I like being able to get to it from anywhere and I have a place to keep thoughts, notes, contact info, and other random tidbits of information.

Both Thinking Rock and iGTD are pretty cool apps to help manage a ToDo list within contexts and projects.  I was first using Thinking Rock, but found the integration with Mail.app with iGTD to attractive to resist (I found iGTD2 not quite ready for Prime Time).   If an email comes to me, while I am on my Mac, I can simply hit F6 and that email is put into iGTD.  Then I can process it and put in the right context.  It’s really been helpful for me.

I also like Thinking Rock.  There is a little learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really powerful.  You can also keep your .xml file on a thumb drive and use it on any system, (Thinking Rock is a java app and cross platform).

If you got others I missed, please let me know.  I know that in the past, I changed my time management / todo list proceedures around a bit, but this so far seems to be the most successful way I’ve come up with.

more on real estate martketing, 2.0-sytle

I have to thank all the people that viewed and commented on my previous post, “responsible email marketing… for real estate professionals.” I got a lot of views from that post and I got nominate for a weekly web award.  That was the first time and I was pretty honored, so thanks!

But I am still pretty frustrated at how many emails are in my “Spam” folder that are advertising properties.  I’ll never look at them and the fact that is is spam; email that I never asked to receive, is frustrating.  I imagine that 99% of the recipients of those types of emails either never see them, (since they’re in the Spam folder), or you just receive so many of them, that anything that comes into your inbox is so insignificant, you either just delete or mark it as spam.

Now, here’s the rub.  It’s a hungry market out there and there are a lot of hungry agents and brokers.  I, myself am a licensed agent, but that ain’t my bread n’ butter.  I have other things I’ve been doing to make some money so I don’t feel the pinch as bad as some might.  So no doubt, there are agents out there pulling out all the stops trying to generate some business.  It’s not your fault.  You are being preyed upon.  I get tons of emails from people offering to “blast my listings to their 500k+ database.”  I don’t bother opening these emails.

I know there are a lot of agents out there that have been in the game for many, many years.  Some of these seasoned agents out there, still have a voice mail box phone number they give out; you can’t call them directly.   Some of these agents and brokers haven’t really made themselves available on the Internet.  And that’s okay since they’ve been doing business in a traditional way in non-traditional times.  They’ll find customers who also use the traditional ways.  These folks tend to be less Internet-savvy.

But the wave of the future is being able to be contacted.  My generation is people who like to send emails and like to look at webpages and like to be able to find out some information online about the person who is going to help them buy the most expensive purchase they’ll make in their life; their house.

You got to have an online presences these days.  If you don’t the person that does will get your business.

I wanted to post a picture of all the spam in my spam box that is related to properties for sale.  I got a fair amount of Viagra spam, (some of which is actually kind of creative) so I decided to pass on that.  Rather, I’ll share my thoughts on not only your online presences, but also how to be affective with online marketing.

  • Make sure you can be contacted easily:  No matter how you are found, make sure you can get your email address or phone number.  Okay, if you have a voice mail number, you can use that.  But please please please make sure you call back ANYONE who makes the effort to leave you a voice mail.   If you get an email from someone one, at the VERY LEAST, acknowledge you got the mail, even if you can’t answer it right away: Dear So-n-So, thank you for your email.  I wanted to let you know I got it and that I can’t answer you right away, but you are important to me.  As soon as I am able to get back to you I will call/email/fax/whatever…” Touch your customers in a meaningful way.  Tell them they are important and they matter to you.  Your competition isn’t doing it.
  • You heard you need to have a blog: There are those that say you NEED to have a blog  That is easier said than done.  A  blog needs to be tended like a garden.  You don’t have to post every day, but if you decide to have one, you do need to post at least a couple of times a month.  Your topics could include anything from good deals on interest rates to a sad goodbye to an agent who’s leaving.   But don’t commit to a blog if you don’t think you have the gumption to keep up with it, otherwise it will smell like a marketing gimmick.
  • You should have a website: Yes, you SHOULD have a website.  If you work for one of the major brokers, they might help you make one, but if you are an independent broker, you should have a website.  And it should have easy ways to contact you and be SEO-friendly, (Search Engine Optimization-friendly…  If I go to Google and enter “city-I’m-in-interested-in realtor” you want to pop up in the top of the search results).
  • If you have a website, allow follks to sign up for a newsletter: Back to responsible email marketing… you want to make it into your list subscribers inbox instead of their spam box?  Let them sign up on your website and use a reputable email marketeer.  There are several out there.  Do it yourself so you can learn about the technology, marketplace, and learn how to be effective.
  • Finally, do not give any business to the fly-by-night email spammers. Over the long haul, you are most likely to hurt your online reputation more than help it.  DO NOT sign up for offers like “send your listing to 10,000 readers!”  You will end up in 99% percent of those readers’ spam box.  And with search engine technology, you could show up as a spamming agent and potentially loseWeight Exercise business.
  • Use Craigslist: It’s free, somewhat anonymous, and readers go there to look.  Make sure you take advantage of the four picture upload limit.  Again, if you use Craigslist, make sure you can be contact by either email or phone really easy and follow up with your leads.
  • If you have a website, make sure it is updated frequently: If I am thinking about moving to a  particular part of town, I might bookmark your website.  Every time I get the itch to move, I am likely to check your website to see if you have any new listings.   If a listing sold, at least “mark” it as sold.

Having a presence on the Internet might be a little daunting for some agents out there.  The reality is that many of today’s buyers are using the Internet not only as a research tool, but also as a tool to find their next buying agent.  They are using the Internet to find your expertise.   Make it easy for them to find and show them you care about them as a client.  As always, I am happy to consult on these matters so feel free to contact me.

wordpress upgrade… not so good.

So, Dreamhost offered a ‘one-click’ upgrade to WordPress 2.5. I hadn’t had problems with it before so last night I did the “one-click” upgrade. I went to bed.

This morning, I find a bunch of undeliverable emails in my inbox and notice that the from/return address is “email@gmail.com.” And the main page of my blog is a link to a comment on geni.com offering to sell viagra and it was the default WordPress theme with the “Hello, World!” post.

My questions, which I’ll ask Dreamhost about, are:

  1. Was the upgrade botched?
  2. Was my installation hacked?
  3. My “old” site (dreamhost will attempt to back up your old installation so you could revert back) didn’t work as many of the files were missing.

At this point, I had one of those “oh shit” moments were I’m thinking whatever happened, my database is gone and I don’t have a recent backup.

In my wordpress installation directory, all my files and plugins appear to be there and my wp-config file looks okay…

Then I find it. There is a different prefix on my mysql tables:

$table_prefix = ‘wp_ufgeai_’;

Sure enough, in addition to MY tables in MY database I see the “new” tables.

I had already dumped my other tables and saw they were still there, so I simply removed the ‘ufgeai_’ from the wp-config.php page and my site was back up.

However, there is still more to this story. I couldn’t log in via the wp-admin page since the admin password was in this new tables. I got really lucky since the email address set up was ’email@gmail.com’ and I was able to get the bounces, which allowed me to reset the password to get in a do some recon.

I wanted to mention the ‘ufgeai’ prefix because I didn’t find anything on Google referring to it, and something tells me that I am not the only one this has happened to.

Needless to say, I changed all my usernames and passwords to something cripplingly complex.

Then, when I was able to log in to the right instance of my wordpress, I was getting all sorts of errors from ‘wp-admin/includes/dashboard.php’ and had to comment out about 15 lines, all referring to sidebars and widgets. Later, I’ll have to fix all of this and read up, but I have to get ready for a birthday party.

Some notes or food for thought:

  • I got really lucky my database and tables weren’t blown away. I am going to make backups pronto!
    • First need to make sure there isn’t something that shouldn’t belong in the regular tables, like another admin account.
  • How did this happen? Is there something wrong with the Dreamhost installation or I was a victim of a brute force attack? I thought my passwords were good.
  • Why didn’t my previous, backed up installation not work?
  • Why did I get so many errors with the dashboard.php file? Was that file supposed to be “upgraded” or was it something I installed or was part of a plugin?

I’m going to open a ticket with Dreamhost and give them some forensic evidence since I made backups of the changed files and added tables.

Hopefully, this will help someone and prevent a long history of blogs posts from being lost. If you find yourself in this situation and think the only solution is a new, clean, install, check your tables since your old/current data might still be there.