Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Very cool - Make your own iPhone Dock

I just saw this on Lifehacker. This very cool posting is about making your own 3G iPhone Dock out of cardboard.

Go here to find out more about it. You can download the instructions via a PDF file.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Synergy

If you haven't heard of Synergy it is a free (open source) software program that replaces a KVM switch for your mouse and keyboard - not for your monitor. Download it here. You install Synergy on at least two computers - one client and one server (the server being the machine you have your keyboard and mouse attached to).

Synergy transmits the coordinates of your mouse and your keyboard commands over the internet to the other device seamlessly, allowing you to cross your mouse over multiple monitors of multiple computers. I can vouch that it even works well with Wireless mice and keyboards!

If you are doing a Windows installation it is plain and simple. The Mac OS X installation isn't as simple because it requires command line inputs and configuration (I don't know why Mac has to be so difficult!). I also found the auto start portion of the software doesn't work well with Vista - but then again I don't think it was built with Vista in mind.

Here is the description from the website:
"Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It's intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s).

Redirecting the mouse and keyboard is as simple as moving the mouse off the edge of your screen. Synergy also merges the clipboards of all the systems into one, allowing cut-and-paste between systems. Furthermore, it synchronizes screen savers so they all start and stop together and, if screen locking is enabled, only one screen requires a password to unlock them all."

The specs are:
" * Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me (the Windows 95 family)
* Microsoft Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP (the Windows NT family)
* Mac OS X 10.2 or higher
* Unix
o X Windows version 11 revision 4 or up
o XTEST extension
(use "xdpyinfo | grep XTEST" to check for XTEST)

All systems must support TCP/IP networking. "

Windows Update Installation Failure for XP

I'm running Windows XP SP3 on a number of work machines, when I noticed I didn't have .NET 2.0 SP1 installed and I needed it for a program I was about to run. When I checked Windows Update there were 30 or so updates available for download, including the Framework Service Pack, so I hit update and let Update do it's thing.

Once all the updates downloaded and began installing, the updates failed one after another. With no explanation I went back to Windows Update, ran it again and tried to re-download / install them. The same installation failures came up.

I figured I could download and install the updates one by one, but that seemed like a pain. I had 4 other machines with the same configurations - 3 could receive updates and install them but 1 other couldn't. The other option would be to wipe and reload those two machines but I didn't have that much time either.

All 5 of the machines were running Windows XP SP3 with IE 6.0. On the two machines that would fail on Windows Update, I installed IE 7.0 and reran the Windows Update. Apparently that worked because all of the old / new updates are installing fine now. If anyone else has this problem, try this and let me know what happens!

NOTE:
After the installation of IE 7.0, restart your computer. When you go back to Windows Update, you should receive a notice that Windows Update has an update - once you install that you should no longer receive the failed installation problem. If you install / reinstall IE 7.0 and don't receive the Windows Update update, then restart your computer again and/or uninstall and reinstall IE 7.0 again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

iPhone Applications

I posted before about a very cool iPhone Application called Snapper that lets you browse online stores by barcodes so you can compare online prices to store prices. I loaded up my iPhone with a few more applicatons some that I do like and some that I do not:

Don't Like:
1. Backgrounds - as easy as it sounds it really does nothing for the phone. I prefer to download photos of my choice and then sync them with my iPhone. The pictures were pretty lame and can be found just about anywhere online.

2. Google Mobile App - there is really no purpose to this app. All it does is provide a little quicker access to Google's applications online. The same thing can be done with Safari. I'm waiting for a Google Talk or Blogger App, afterall the iPhone comes with a Google Maps application and you can download Google Earth!

3. iThread - It's not a bad application if you are looking for a directory of web companies; on the same hand unless you need it, it's a waste of space.

Do Like:
1. Pandora - It's nice to have a streaming online radio and Pandora is the best out there. I've got a ton of music on my iPod but it's a nice refresher when you can find something you don't already have.

2. LinkedIn - A quick and easy way to navigate the professional social networking site.

3. VoiceNotes - Just as it sounds, this voice recorder is quick and easy to use. Plus it's handy when you need to catch a coworker saying something they shouldn't! I was able to record someone over the speaker phone in a meeting very clearly!

4. Urbanspoon - This app has some quirks but the hardest decision for me to make is where to eat lunch / dinner and so this app helps fill that void. You have to shake it a bit hard and sometimes it will end up on the same restaurant three times in a row, but hey it still works!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vista Configurations

I came across these two Vista Configurations / tweaks a few months ago and thought I would share them:

http://lifehacker.com/5044883/vista-transblack-head-up-display

http://lifehacker.com/5041776/a-transparent-vista

I like the idea of a heads up display - text information on my desktop and so I now use BgInfo by Sysinternals.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Favorite Background Image

My latest favorite background image for my test lab computers:



Yes it's Kourtney Kardashian and well.. it's just nice!

Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 1 (KB110806) (x86) installation failure

I was updating some Windows XP SP3 machines and when I tried to do a windows update it kept giving me an installation failure. I really needed the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 1 (KB110806) (x86) update, so I downloaded it from microsoft's site and installed it manually with no problems... What the hell is up with Windows Update?

Anyways the manual process is an easy, albeit long, work around.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

MyFamily.com

One of my distant relatives is putting together a family website where we can share pictures, stories, and other family history. I volunteered, thinking the project would require some development but not really knowing what was required. As it turns out there are a lot of ready made web solutions for tracking family history.

As I reviewed the top sites here's a few notes I made:

MyGreatBigFamily.com
- Don't like the layout on the website
- Only one password for the site - doesn't ask for email, so probably has limited customization.
- No price listed...?

Famster.com
- Has a nice layout
- They don't have a very good description of the security / authentication features
- Hard to tell what the actual sites look like.

MyFamily.com
- Has a nice layout
- Free basic service - great for trying out
- Different levels of authentication
- Backup Service

EasySite.com
- Nice Layout
- Simple browsing
- One of the few sites you can browse
- Downside is it looks expensive
- Not necessarily geared towards family sites

FamilyDetails.com
- Tons of Detail (good and bad)
- Great authentication
- OK Layout

We decided to go with MyFamily.com and as I continue to use it, I will blog about the pros and cons - just in case anyone cares!