Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MP3 Renamer

I found this great program for renaming mp3's without having to do much at all. It's called "MP3 Rename" by No Design Software and is great for automatically renaming mp3 files based on a few rules that you specify. If you're like me and have a ton of mp3's that are improperly named, then this program is perfect for you.

The program itself is easy to use, especially if the music files have an ID3 tag. The UI is relatively simple and best of all it's free. MP3 Renamer can read and write ID3 v2 tags, preview files before renaming, move files into folders, etc. This renamer program is super small (300KB) and doesn't need to be installed making it excellent for use on an Ultra Mobile PC. Check it out!

Skype iPhone Application

I was reading the following article in the Wall Street Journal about Skype launching an iPhone app when I decided to go to the App store and check it out. Turns out they already had the program available. I downloaded it, signed in (after remembering my info) and told one of my coworkers to do the same.

After he installed Skype we called each other and I have to admit the quality was pretty damn good. I signed up for Skype a while ago, but I never used it because I don't see the point in making phone calls over the computer. I don't have a headset with a microphone, nor do I want one. But now that it is available on the iPhone.. This is something that I can get on board with. Now I just need to find out who else has Skype and get my contact list growing!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Funny acronym

The acronym is Pbkac (pronounced pebkak) meaning Problem exists between keyboard and chair. Gotta love the simplicity and accurateness of it.

Google Analytics and AdSense

Note: This is an old post from Blog Kenst from Thursday, June 19, 2008:

I've recently been playing around with Google Analytics for some of my websites. I've heard rave reviews about it from a few friends who either used it for work or their own websites. Since I've been working on a few sites myself, I signed up for the service and installed it on three sites:

1. My Ultimate Ultra-Mobile PC Blog
2. The blog you are on now
3. My Scuba Site - SearchNrecovery.com

The jury is still out on my decision if I find it useful, mainly because I haven't had a whole lot of time to mess around with it's reporting features. At this point it seems pretty basic, but its always good to have a snapshot of the people who visit your sites.

I've also been playing around with Google AdSense, the advertising service Google offers for website owners. As you can see on my Ultra-Mobile PC Blog and on this site, advertising is displayed. Now I'm delusional enough to think my sites are popular enough to make money on advertising, its more of an experiment in getting familiar with advertising on the web. I hope to find a way to place ads on SearchNrecovery.com as well - only time will tell for that one!

Anyways that's all..

Quote of the Day

This quote is simple and yet remarkable accurate, especially when referring to computers:
"The nice thing about standards is that you have so many to choose from." by Andrew S. Tanenbaum.
This is why best practices don't work, you need to choose the standard that fits the context.

(Updated 6/28/12)

Windows Home Server

Note: This is an old post from Blog Kenst from Monday, December 10, 2007:

Windows Home Server, WHS for short, is Microsoft's newest operating system for the home consumer (hence the name.) (Yes Microsoft is probably the worst company when it comes to "creative" advertising, but hey it works.) WHS is a streamlined version of Microsoft Windows 2003 server and by that I mean it a few very specific purposes:

1. Automatic backup of all computers on the network
a. Simple recovery of lost files or entire PCs
2. Scalable storage with Mirroring (avoids losing data)
3. File Sharing & Streaming - easily share files between computers, xbox 360s or anything else that uses Windows Media Extender
4. Personalized web address for sharing photos and home videos

WHS is essentially a hub for all digital media. I hear the new term being used is "Stay-at-home Servers". I've been running Windows Home Server for a month or so now and I have to say I'm very impressed. I built my own system, instead of ordering one online (MS is pushing an HP brand) and I loaded it up with about 1.5TB of storage and have now installed its management console on every computer in the house. The new Management console allows you to easily control storage by adding and removing drives; you can create and allocate ritghts to users; you can setup websites and file sharing with mirroring; and even monitor the computers you are backing up.

For someone like me who has a ton of music and digital movies this move is a no-brainer. I now don't have to worry about backing up my computer because it's already being done and better than that those files are mirrored, making it less likely I will have everything wiped out! Now I just need to figure out how to do some of the more "advanced" things like setting up the server so I can remote in and start running websites off of it!

iPhone & iPhoneRingToneMaker

Note: This is an old post from Blog Kenst from Tuesday, November 13, 2007:

I've been using the iPhone for a few months and I'm beginning to like it. The first week I had it I was very disappointed. Although it is sleek, the lack of 3rd party applications like a password safe or microsoft office software make it hard to do business. Add on top of that my Business and Personal email are hosted by Google, who until recently had problems using POP accounts on the iPhone (I could receive emails, just not send them) and you've got one unhappy customer. Luckily Google setup personal Gmail and Google Apps accounts with IMAP and now I can send and receive emails!

I feel the problem, besides the hype, is I'm used to having a PDA / SmartPhone. When compared to most PDA / SmartPhones the iPhone is a competitor, but doesn't blow the competition away - at least not yet. My Blackberry 8800 was extremely easy to setup for email, had a few 3rd party applications (missing office as well), browsed the internet fast, and even allowed me to set the music on my phone as my ringtones. It also had a expandable memory slot - microSD, sync'd effortlessly with Outlook (didn't require the horrible software program known as iTunes). I also had several versions of the Palm Treo which was very easy to use, sync'd extremely well, expandable memory, had an mp3 player (3rd party application) and could open and write to Microsoft Office documents, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint! It also had a huge following in terms of available programs that I could use to fill whatever whim / need that surfaced.

Here are a list of the problems I've found:

Problems: Songs in the iPod can't be used as Ring Tones You must buy from a limited amount of songs on iTunes ($.99) and then convert them to Ringtones ($.99) The iPod through iTunes only has automatic sync. I can't manually choose / drag and drop songs, videos, pictures, etc. Can't create new photo albums on iPhone No copy / paste feature - Important when texting a friend a phone number No 3rd party applications (I know this is a cliche now, but its still very important) Calendar doesn't automatically set appoints to remind you (you can manually choose it, but what happens when you forget?) The Notes program doesn't communicate with notes in Outlook (what happens when I need that information elsewhere?) There is no To Do List (i think the very first phones had this)
The iPhone could be the best in the market, once it is open to 3rd party applications and/or Apple get's time to elaborate on the features. The SDK (Software Development Kit) will be available in February and it shouldn't take developers long to release software that will fill in gaps in Apple's phone. It will also give bigger companies time to add powerful features / programs like GPS, Voice Commands, Office Documents, etc. Even if they aren't available for free it can only help the users.

As I said in the beginning I'm starting to like my iPhone. (Either I've been impressed or I set my expectations lower. ) I've learned to deal with its shortcomings and just recently found a program called iPhoneRingToneMaker that can take any of my mp3's and turn them into ring tones. (It only cost me about $15) Now that's what I'm talking about! Why bow to Apple who wants you to rebuy your music and then pay them to make a ringtone (only to be shorted on the selection)? This just proves the benefits of having 3rd party developers - creativity!

I was impressed by how quickly the iPhone browses the internet (Edge & WiFi) and how it can read Word and Excel documents sent to me. (You can't edit them, only view them.) I also really like the idea of Visual Voicemail - When people leave you voicemails it shows you their name along with a few buttons so you can play or delete the message. It makes it much easier than having to press and hold 1 to dial ATT's voicemail system. You also setup your voicemail greeting right there on the phone.

The iPhone is a very slick phone and by mid next year it will definitely be a competitor to current PDA / SmartPhones. In the meantime I would only recommend it to people who have "dumb" phones - which, after a quick glance at a bar a few nights ago, is an ever declining group.

Update: The 3G iPhone has improved on a number of these issues while the iPhoneRingToneMaker has gotten better because it now sends all ring tones into iTunes so they can be easily sync'd with the iPhone.

Microsoft Health Vault

Note: This is an old post from Blog Kenst from Thursday, November 8th, 2007:

A few weeks ago I signed up for Microsoft's Health Vault site after seeing a review in the Wall Street Journal. I was intrigued by the idea of controlling my health information and sharing it with whom I choose instead of the opposite. I have a Microsoft Live account, so I used that to sign in and then began to fill out my "profile" - essentially your basic information like Name, Address, Phone number, etc. I even uploaded a picture, just in case I forget who Chris Kenst is.

The problem is I have almost no use for it right now. The site has a repository for health documents, so I uploaded a health survey I took at work, but other than that the site doesn't bring me any significant value. There are only about 20 or so partners on the site, none of which I use. Until Aetna (my health insurance) or some other health company of mine decides to join the site has no meaning other than a health search engine. (I found the search engine to be fairly useful for finding health related questions).

The bottom line: how long will it take before I get some real use of the this service? In the meantime my health survey is up for anyone who finds a way to hack in.

Update: I haven't used this or my Google Health account in a long time. I should probably check back and see if they've made any drastic or useful changes!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Brief summary of Scuba Technology

This video is actually from 2004, from a TED conference where an ichthyologist (a person who studies fish) named Richard Pyle is showing the audience all of the groundbreaking discoveries he and his team are making in finding and documenting new fish life. Most recreational divers only go about 130ft and people that do want to dive lower than that usually operate subs that tend to hit the 500ft and lower depths. As Richard points out that leaves a huge gap in the ocean to search for new fish life.

As a scuba diver this video was really interesting, albeit for a new comer it's going to have a lot of information. It does however contain a lot of basic information about Scuba diving technology and how it has advanced over the years. Check it out:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Push Ups and Sit Ups

I know this really doesn't belong on a technology website, but my coworker pointed out these interesting websites called one hundred push ups and two hundred sit-ups. Both sites are made by the same person and layout easy 7 week plans to be able to do one hundred push ups and two hundred sit-ups.

Check 'em out!

Corrupt Performance counters on Windows 2003 Virtual Machine

I got the error "Input string was not in a correct format" in a log file in one of our programs while testing it on a Windows Server 2003 virtual machine. One of my coworkers pointed out the error "Input string was not in a correct format" was coming from the performance counters, which weren't trying to pass an input string in an incorrect format.

A search on the net showed a page where this error comes up when the performance counters are corrupt. I opened the Performance Monitors (perfmon from run) and it didn't start up with the 3 basic counters: pages/sec, % processor time, Avg. disc Queue length. When I tried to add new counters they all came up as a bunch of numbers. See below.

After verifying this was the problem I fixed the problem using the command: c:\windows\system32\lodctr /R

When I reloaded the performance counters, everything worked fine. Here is the article from Microsoft.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

An amazing interview with Marc Andreessen

Charlie Rose of PBS interviews Marc Andreessen, co-founder and chairman of Ning and investor in just a few tech companies like Digg and Twitter. He also founded Netscape and sits on the board of directors of Facebook and eBay.

While the interview by Charlie isn't much (he's no Howard Stern) just letting Marc talk about the market and his view on the Valley (Silicon Valley that is) is just inspiring and at the same time depressing as hell. He makes everything sound so simple that a 5th grader could understand it.

Here is the interview: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/10093

Monday, March 2, 2009

Free NAS: The Free NAS Server

I saw this on lifehacker and then downloaded the virtual machine to check it out. The Free NAS (Network Attached Storage) Server has a nice looking GUI and it supposed to be very easy to setup and use.

It's open source storage. Check it out here.

Programmable Matter

I saw this video on CNN and I thought it was really cool:


The video is on Programmable Matter; researchers are working on matter that will morph into difference shapes depending on your need. It is being developed by Intel and is a very cool (but short) story of science fiction coming closer to reality!

Here's the wikipedia article.