Windows 7 is pretty slick…

Nothing fancy to see here, but I’ve been getting a lot of questions around Windows 7. I figured I’d answer them. I recently attended a Microsoft event here in Atlanta where they handed out full copies of Windows 7 Ultimate. They handed out the 32bit version but I can verify that the same key will work on the 64bit version.

Q. Do you like Windows 7?

A. I love it.  I can honestly say that “it just works!”

Q. Why do you like it?

A. Well, at work I use a Mac, and I know it sounds cliche to say that Windows 7 is very Mac-like, but it is.

Q. Will it work with my system?

A. My PC is best a “franken-puter” that I’ve rebuilt and upgraded parts of it over the years.  Not only do I see a impressive performance improvement, I have yet to manually install any drivers.  Win7 found ’em all. So yeah, I’m willing to bet it will certainly work with your system.

Q. Can you get me a copy?

A. Alas, no.  But if I get some more Google wave invites, I might be able to hook you up with that.

Q. Are you using Antivirus? If so, what do you use?

A. Yes, I am using Anti-virus. You’d be nuts not to.  I am personally using Avast.

Q. Are you aware of anything that doesn’t work with Win7?

A. Yes, I know of a few things that don’t work.  Mainly the only thing I really want to use is VMWare’s VI client.  It will not run under Windows 7, or at least the version I’m using.  I’ll check for an update after I finish this post.

Q. I heard you have to format and reinstall if you are upgrading from WinXP? Is that true?

A. Yes, it is, and you know what? I am SO glad I decided to take the plunge.  I backed up all my users Documents and Settings using the WinXP back up utility and was able to restore them and I am so glad I did. Remember, I said my computer have been rebuilt and upgraded many times. Starting “fresh” allowed me to eliminate a bunch of crap and set some things right.  No regrets! Just plan for it and you’ll be in good shape.

Q. What else have you installed on your “new” system?

A. Since I started fresh, I have installed only stuff that I need. I’ll continue to install stuff as I need ’em, but here’s what I installed so far:

If you got other questions, please let me know! I’m sorry I didn’t have a more catchy post title.

Hello my dear friend! I’m a pure student…

This cracks me up.  I have been getting a ton of spam comments from the .ru TLD, and it always begins with either:

Hello my dear friend! I’m a pure student…

Or

Interesting CMS. What software do you use?

Or some variant of the above.  C’mon, guys, if you are going to try and trick me, you got to do better than that. At this point, I am almost insulted at this feeble attempt.  But that’s not really what I wanted to write about.

Tonight I’m sort of reflective. So much as happened since I last posted. Certainly some of it is good, some of it is exciting, and some of it has certainly been a challenge.  I spent the last 30 minutes trying to find a Youtube vid that represents my mood, but unfortunately, I think the risk of misunderstanding is too high, so therefore, I refrain.

I usually post about technology or funny things, but so much has been queuing up, it’s hard for me to decide where to begin.

  • I am still madly in love with my T-Mobile G1, the Google/Android based phone.  I saw that Google had an Éclair delivered to their office: Each release of the Android OS has been named after pastries: Cupcake, Donut… Éclair is rumored to be Android 2.0…
  • I actually had my first Corny Keg experience with my homebrew in anticipation of our neighborhood Oktoberfest.  Pics and vids to follow, (it’s this weekend).
  • I’ve been rehabbing a rental house in my spare (but limited) time.
  • I’ve been learning Python, (but had to use Perl in a recent pinch).
  • More and more people are asking me for help with Trixbox and Cisco SIP phones.
  • I’ve been to HP HQ in Houston, TX for an executive briefing; I was blown away and met some really cool people.
  • I am meeting with Cisco regarding their UCS offering.
  • I’ve been meeting with Microsoft (and attend the ‘Technical Decision Makers Launch’ of Window 7, Server 2008, and Exchange 2008.
  • I am planning on attending the VMWare Users group event in Atlanta on November 5th, 2009.  Maybe I’ll see ya, there?
  • I’ve been enjoying Google Wave! (Sorry, I haven’t been able to send out invites, yet… so don’t ask!)
  • I have a new WinCE based GPS that I am hacking, (oh yeah, I forgot about this, but it’s a big ‘un!).

So I’ve been busy, but it’s been good. Any of the above items could be a separate blog post.

I’ve been really impressed with Google Wave.  It ain’t perfect yet, but I see the potential of it.  I might even go as far to say that it could be Email 2.0 but I probably need to elaborate on that.  Along the same note, I wonder if Twitter is the new USENET.  <- If you don’t get that, don’t worry about it. But if you want my highly entertaining, hand waving monologue on this, let’s meet for a beer!

How I manage Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc

First, this is not going to be an article on how to make money with Twitter, social networking, or Facebook.  This is simply a post about how I’ve recently came to peace with managing my virtual life.

why?

Good question.  Let’s face it, in this day and age, when anyone wants to find out more information about you, they’ll hit Google and put in your name.  As a I hiring manager, I would hope any potential employee I’m interested in is involved and engaged in some online community.  As a potential hire, I am proud of the work and contributions I’ve made to the Internet at large, and I would hope to stand out against my competition.  If I ever decide to look for job in the future, look at the great network I have to work with.

It’s also fun! I don’t need to bore you with examples of friends I got back in touch with, or how my current position I got through networking.  I’d rather share examples about new friends I’ve made, many of which I’ve never physically met, but we’re connected to each other in other ways.

It’s a great resource!  I am sure many of you have had an experience where you said something on Twitter and then a company spokesperson, or someone you didn’t know offered help.  A couple of months ago, I tweeted some things about the book “Visible Ops Handbook” and I started tweeting back and forth with the authors, who were really nice and helpful.  How cool that I can connect with an author of book that really helped me!

The future knows no limits!  Let’s just say, that one day I might get tired of being in IT Operations and I want to social media or product development instead? It could happen.  And if I wanted to reach out to get inspiration and encouragement I got a place to go, and one never knows where my connections could lead me.  Who knows, maybe you really can make millions on Twitter, (although… for the record, I seriously doubt it).

what?

Okay, of course I use Twitter and I love being able to integrate with Facebook.  I also started using twitterfeed and tonight I just started using HootSuite.  Sure, I also use the other usual suspects, too. But just not as much:

  • friendfeed
  • Ping.Fm
  • Bright Kite
  • FourSquare
  • CoTweet
  • Plaxo
  • plurk
  • LinkedIn
  • Brazen Careerist

I’ll explain how these tie in later.

how?

Hang with me on this.  This all ends up everywhere, but I’m gonna break it down for you.  Consider this: Twitter essentially feeds everything!

twitter + facebook

This is the first step.  You got your Twitter account, right?  And you’re on Facebook?  Sure, there was a Twitter Facebook app, but as I have evolved with my Twitter usage, (we’ll still get to that), I didn’t want to bombard my Friends on Facebook with everything.  Especially since they can be a different audience.   I saw one of my friends was using a Facebook App called, “Selective Twitter Status.”  The way this works is you just put this hashtag in your Twitter update: #fb

Selective Twitter Status

Then it will be posted on your Facebook profile. If it doesn’t have #fb it won’t be posted on Facebook! By the way, the icon above is a link to the app.

twitterfeed + twitter + bit.ly

Remember I said Twitter is the source?  I started using Twitterfeed to post articles I normally post to Twitter.  Basically, once you create your Twitterfeed account, you subscribe to RSS feeds.  Then if you are willing to try to grok the advanced features, you can really do some cool things.

I have my favorite RSS feeds, set to check hourly, and then post one or two articles.  I don’t want my followers/readers to get burdened with too many automatic posts.  Now here’s the secret sauce! In the Advanced Options, I can prepend something.  So if I want it to go to Twitter and Facebook, I simply tell it to append #fb to the post.

Okay, so what’s the big deal about bit.ly you ask? bit.ly allows you to shorten URL’s, which is critical to keep under the 140 character limit for Twitter.  Now, if you actually take the time and go sign up for a bit.ly account, you get some cool things like a handy dashboard and your very own bit.ly API key!  You can do all sorts of cool things with this if you use TweetDeck, Seesmic, Hootsuite, Twitterfeed, etc.  You will be able to see what’s getting the most bang for your buck.  I can now see how many of my followers are clicking on my shortened URL’s and adjust accordingly.  Remember, I don’t want to flood my followers/readers so they’ll unfollow/unfriend me.

posterous.com -> twitter + facebook

This is one of the cooler sites that integrate with Twitter, I believe.  I would consider it a supplemental blogging site.  It’s not my main blog and it isn’t something I post to all the time.  Rather, it’s something I use to post cool news articles I come across in my daily Internet journeys. I have it set up that posterous.com posts both to Twitter and Facebook, so I don’t use the #fb here.  You can see my Posterous here, if you want:

http://jpabian.posterous.com/

what about ping.fm?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome! But I went to relying on my apps posting to the various sites as opposed as letting a single place do it.  I started having too many double posts on my sites, so I figured with a little trial and error, I could make it less annoying for my readers/followers.

other tools?

I use Twitterberry on my Blackberry.  I love how easy it is to fire off an update.  I also have UberTwitter on my Blackberry, but don’t use it too much.

I use Twidroid on my T-Mobile G1.  It’s much better than it was when it first came out. It’s a full functioning Twitter client.

On my Mac, I used TweetDeck and just went to Seesmic.

On my WinXP desktop, Adobe Air has an issue, and Tweetdeck and Seesmic won’t work, but Twirl does.  You just got to remember to use the #fb hashtag.

As I mentioned, I started using HootSuite.  It allows you to schedule tweets.  For example, my wife, @lilyan is going to be on the Today Show on 9/21/2009 at 8:30 so I want to be able to tweet about it to remind our friends.  I schedules several Tweets over the next few days to remind people, and I did include the #fb hashtag.

that’s it?

Yes, for now.  But I am always looking and trying new and different tools.  But the way I’m doing it now is pretty manageable and is working well for me.

You have questions or suggestions?  I would love to hear them so send them along!

Thanks!

Samsung BD-P1590 is a big stinkeroni

apologies

Look, I feel really bad about this.  I usually don’t complain about product on my blog, but this has really gotten me worked up. I’ll also provide a quick review.

the good

Our old, progressive scan DVD player gave up the ghost a couple of months ago.  I have been lobbying for a Sony PS3 but haven’t been able to get “executive approval” for the purchase, so when Costco had a deal on the Samsung BD-P1590, we got the green light to pick it up.  At first glance, it has some nice features:

  • Pandora support
  • Youtube
  • Blockbuster
  • Netflix
Don't buy it.

Don't buy it.

My Dad has the Samsung 2550 and it was pretty cool.  We liked the Pandora and Netflix integration so at this price, it looked pretty good.

the bad

We bought the unit, brought it home, and I began hooking it up.  First off, it doesn’t have COAX out.  It’s either standard RCA jacks or TOSlink out.  I had to rewire the Xbox.

But once I got it hooked up, the first thing it wanted to do was upgrade the firmware.  A guy we talked to at Costco said he upgraded the day before and he said it was good.  Once it rebooted, I popped in my Pink Floyd concert DVD and it looked great, (I don’t have any Blu-ray, yet).

pink_floyd_pulse

Then we signed up for Pandora and Netflix.  Pandora sounded great!  It was tickling my subwoofer and sounded really good.  Then we ate dinner and I heard the unit beep and it powered off.  I guess it shuts down if it is idle.

Then, when you hit the power button, the display says “LOAD” and that’s it. I can open and close the tray but nothing else.  I tried the various ways I’ve found to “reset” the unit, and none of them worked.

I found an “offical” forum over at CNET:

Samsung 2009 Blu-ray Player Firmware Update Available Now

by blu-ray chic Samsung staff – 9/3/09 10:06 AM

All, 
Firmware has been posted today for 09 models. (other models to follow, please be patient).
I’m in the process of updating my players and will share the results when I’m through. However, please feel free to use this thread to report any issues with your upgrades, findings, thoughts, etc…
When you post your info, please be sure to let us know how you upgraded (USB, CD, Network) and any pertinent details. 

IMPORTANT: Please note the launch of our new website. The download center is currently not showing f/w details such as what’s been corrected or worse, what file type is which. 
If you have a network connection, this is the easiest way to update. Simply turn the power on and wait a moment before you receive a notification for the new firmware. 
If you choose to use CD or USB updates, the first one listed is the USB update. The second which ends in ISO is the disc update. These updates need to be installed only once, not twice like the first update. However, if you’ve never updated your player, you may need to install the update twice. Again, please share your findings with us all. Thanks for your participation! 

What should these upgrades address?

A/V sync issues
Title compatibility 
NTP should be defaulted to on after reset or power failure
Error msg “your Netflix Keys have been hacked”
And finally – to provide Blockbuster and YouTube support.. (crossing fingers that I haven’t spoken too soon)

As soon as I get the final details I’ll let ya’ll know.

Best of luck to you all! ;)

And according to the thread, I am not the only one with a bricked unit.  Again, I am one not to bitch, but this was OUT OF THE box and we got to enjoy for less than 15 minutes.  Seriously, I will spend more time in the car taking it back then the amount of time we got to use it.

the rub

And here’s the rub.  If I was to exchange it at Costco, ANY replacement Samsung BD-P1590 I get is probably subject to the same fate.  I did nothing special or weird to my unit.

If you were me, what would you do?

G1 Update – training

A couple of things I love about my G1 is that I have been using it as a training aid.  It’s really great.

  • I use it as a stop watch.
  • I use it to map my runs and my rides
  • I use it to listen to streaming audio when I’m outside
  • I use it to collect stats about my routes

The two apps I use the most for training are CardioTrainer and StreamFurious.

CardioTrainer is really slick.  You can choose your various types of workouts, have it report back to you your intervals and pace.  It will overlay your route on Google Maps and when done give you stats like elevation, overall pace, etc.   Then it will upload your route to their website and if you were so inclined, it will put it on your Facebook profile.

Now, while I am running, I could be listening to my mp3’s but what I love to listen to is streaming audio from the web.   Specifically, I enjoy listening to Radio Paradise via Stream Furious.

You can listen to RP using just about any computer audio player, and on a wide variety of other devices, including iPhones, Blackberrys and Windows smartphones. You don’t need to register with us in order to listen, and we don’t charge subscription fees — even for our highest-fidelity streams.Speaking of high fidelity, we pride ourselves on providing some of the best-sounding audio you’ll hear anywhere. Try one of our high quality streams (192k MP3 or 128k AAC) on a good pair of headphones or a decent audio system. We think you’ll be impressed. Several of the world’s most respected audio engineers and producers have given RP’s audio quality an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

How do we do all of this without charging subscription fees or inflicting advertising on you? The key is in those two words underneath our name at the top of the page. We do our very best to keep you entertained, and if we succeed we ask you to send a little support our way. Click theSupport RP link for more information on how that works. You can also send support our way by shopping at our Affiliate Merchants (Amazon, iTunes, and many more) or by buying some of our Shirts & Stuff . Thanks a bunch.

Instead of using the phone’s headset, I use iPod headphones so I don’t have to have the Lose Weight Exercise of the mic bouncing around.

It’s neat to realize that I have this going on my phone while I am out running.

I also started using DailyMile.  I used to use Gyminee, but since I started doing Crossfit, I didn’t have a great way to record my workouts in Gyminee.  So now that I am running regurlary again, I plan on using DailyMile.

Fitness Training Log

So couple my phone with my HRM, (heart rate monitor), I got some really powerful training tools.

PhilTap: dan listermann, I love you!

I recently got several mini-kegs and was curious about force carbonating ’em. With my initial purchase, I got a Philtap system and after weeks of Googling, I came to the conclusion that not many people were force carbonating mini-kegs.

To make a long story short, I don’t currently have any room for a corny keg and a CO2 tank, but I can fit several mini-kegs, (5L) in the garage fridge. So after hours of research, I simply removed the valve from the schrader valve on the Philtap and hooked the CO2 tank right up to it for some force carbonation action.

It worked! And it worked extremely well. I used 12PSI and shook the heck out of it several times over a 30 minute window.

One of the reasons I wanted to post this here is so it would show up in Google.

I was very please with the results!

If you’re interested, here’s the Youtube video of the first time using it!

Comments & questions are welcomed!

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return of my G1

The big update

Last night I realized that I hadn’t posted that I had gotten my T-Mobile G1 with Android on it repaired and it’s back in business, baby!  Actually, I hadn’t posted much of anything in some time.

Anyways,  I did get it fixed.  I had the broken LCD replaced by a local shop.  Apparently, most higher end cell phones can be repair.  So I had gotten it back right after Cupcake came out.  After some prodding I decided to go ahead and “root” my G1 and install some custom ROM’s.

Am I glad I did!

rooting

First off, it was really easy.  Second, you can have your apps on your SD card and just go nuts.  I have a 2GB SD card and have made a 600MB partition (using ext3) for apps.

If you are interesting in rooting your G1, here’s where you can get started:

  • Ultimate Guide 2 Root, Recovery, Partition, Radio, SPL, JACHeroski, Tips

If you follow the first three sections, you are on your way to get your custom ROM, (be sure to install the radio, too).  I couldn’t partition my SD card as described so I took the lusers way out and used a Partitioning program to make the following partitions on my SD card:

  • FAT32
  • ext3
  • Linux swap

the roms

If you were able to get through the directions, you are probably ready to install your custom ROM.   There are several to choose from, each with their loyal of armies.  The most popular seem to be:

  • CyanogenMod
  • JACHeroski
  • JesusFreke

There are a couple of others but I don’t have any experience with them.  At first, I used JesusFreke’s ROM, but now I am using Cyanogen’s ROM.

coolness

What I think is cool, is that these ROM’s unlock the true potential of the Android OS.  No one is trying to get something for free to crack the apps.  Rather, they are all adding functionality and features that were not in the original release.  For example, these guys figured out how to get the phone to use linux swap, and then they figured out how to use Linux kernel modules for even better performance.

And yes, I do like my G1 better than the iPhone.  But that’s another post!

T-Mobile G1 vs. the iPhone

I’m sorry I didn’t come up with a more catchy title and hopefully this won’t be another plan ol’ comparison between these two phones.  What, you say?  Why would this one be different?  Well, I own both phones.  More specifically, I got my G1 on launch day and have loved it ever since.  At the beginning of April, we were on family vacation and I dropped my G1 with such force, I broke it.  I had the G1 BEFORE the iPhone…

Grief

I found myself going through the “Seven Stages of Grief” over the phone.  This was the first smartphone I had bought myself and my first phone with a real dataplan.

Typically, the seven (7) stages of grief are described as:
– Shock or Disbelief
– Denial
– Anger
– Bargaining
– Guilt
– Depression
– Acceptance and Hope

Sometimes, people speak of five (5) stages of grieving, putting together:
– Shock/Disbelief and Denial
– Bargaining and Guilt

Depression

I was using a crappy Samsung phone during my “depression” phase.  I then learned that the G2 might be coming out this summer so I didn’t want to spend over $200+ for a new G1.

Acceptance and Hope

I began my search for a 1st gen / 2g iPhone.  I wanted to jailbreak and unlock it so I can use it on T-Mobile’s network.  I was able to find via Facebook from a friend and we struck a deal and I got a new (used) iPhone.

It’s been about a week and I have been playing around with the iPhone a lot.  It is jailbroken and unlocked and I am able to use it with my T-Mobile G1 account just fine.

Now that I have both, I feel that I can give a good comparison between the two.  Furthermore, I had my G1 first, before I had any iPhone experience.

T-Mobile G1

I loved this phone.   Here’s a list in particular order of things I really liked:

  • Sliding Menus
  • Run multiple apps
  • Google Gmail/Calendar/Contacts Syncing
  • Online community
  • Google Maps, Tracks, and Latitude
  • Could use most web-based iPhone apps.
  • More utility based apps in market
  • Cool GPS apps

And here’s some things I did not like about it:

  • It would “hang” switching back from using the web browser.
  • Too many “Tip Calculators” in the market.
  • No way to see if an upgrade to an once free app now costs money
  • Battery life, battery life.
  • No Exchange support.
  • Did I mention Battery life?
  • Not able to integrate with iTunes
  • Wouldn’t work with my office’s Corporate Wifi, (could only get Edge in the building).

The G1 was otherwise a killer phone, in my opinion.  The sound quality was good.  There were plenty of apps that changed default behavior.  I liked the keyboard a lot, but I wish it did have an iPhone like keyboard; it was somewhat cumbersome to slide the keyboard open and wait for the screen to refresh with the new orientation.  There were plenty of fitness-type apps, too.  Each one improved upon the previous.

2G iPhone

To be clear, I now think the iPhone is also a killer phone. A list of my likes:

  • Seems much faster than the G1
  • The internal memory is shared between apps, iTunes, photos, etc
  • iTunes!
  • All my iPod accessories work!
  • The store is easy to navigate and sort between free and paid apps
  • Twitterfon!
  • Supports Microsoft Exchange via OWA
  • WiFi works great.

And my list of dislikes:

  • Only one Exchange account can be configured.
  • Browser doesn’t default to “mobile” site

I originally had some apps on my list of “likes” that I removed since it is only a matter of time before the Android version of the apps start showing up.

And that’s about it.  I realize it looks like I like the iPhone better than the G1, but that isn’t the case.  The way I see it, the iPhone has been out way longer and has way more exsposure than the G1 and Google Android in general.

Verdict

Both phones are killer in my opinion.  But I do like Android bettern than the iPhone OS.  And that might be since it’s linux based and just sort of feels right.  But I am enjoying my iPhone and I do plan on getting a G2 but I may not be in as big as a hurry as I was before.

vmware esxi @home

I’ve been getting a bunch of emails about the progress I’ve been making on my VMWare ESXi server.  I figured it might merit a post.

So far, I got three VM’s each running CentOS 5.2.  One is a ZenOSS installation, one is a Trixbox installation, and one is a stock linux install that I plan to use for Web and PHP developing.

What’s interesting about the 3rd on, is that I cloned it from a snapshot of the first one.  But now I’m getting ahead of myself.

First off, in answer to most of the questions, I am experience NO problems with my Trixbox install.  Keep in mind, I am using RAID 0 with three 72GB SCSI drives in a Dell 1750.  These are NOT IDE drives.   I noticed no stuttering or voice quality issues.  Second, keep in mind this is for our home and not a busy office.

Interestingly enough, my biggest problem has been power outages.  The power goes off and the box goes down but comes back up.  I don’t know of a way to automatically power on the VM’s or start them from the command line.  If you know, let ME know please!

The second question I get is, how’s my power bill.  Actually, it seems fine.  My wife hasn’t said anything about it being high or abnormal so “mums the word.”

home project update

Okay, so I haven’t been updating as much as I would like.

Regardless, I have been busy.

I am happy to report that my VM of Trixbox is working fantastically.

I am equally happy to report that my ZenOSS installation is good, too.  I had only one instance where the network just sort of disappeared but I restarted it and all has been good.

We had some neighbors over and they commented on how many computers I have.  They said, “Gee, we count four right here and we only have laptop that we’re borrowing.”  After they left, I started thinking about that and I was a little embarrassed.

I have way more computers than the average guy and while I do a lot of cool things, (at least cool to me), it means nothing.  I mean, yeah, I can say “Look at all the cool stuff I do!”  But the reality is that our phones work, our video is displayed on our TV, our iTunes are played through our stereo, our Xbox as XBMC on it, our Wii gets the weather, you can get WiFi in every inch of our house, and all of this monitored.

Yeah, it’s probably overkill, but it’s fun for me.  It’s what I do to relax and it helps me keep up on the latest tech out there.