Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year New Design

I thought I'd change the look of My Technology Fetish for 2011.

This change was made possible by Bloggers template designer. Compared to WordPress, Blogger has definitely dropped the ball on customizations / features but that's what happens when you get lazy!

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Google Test Analytics

I just watched this video from Google Test Automation Conference (GTAC) where Dr. James Whittaker (a Engineering Directory from Google) talks about / shows screen shots of a new tool called Google Test Analytics. In the actual screen shots the program is called Testify but it looks almost like a test coverage tool but in describing it he calls it a testing planning tool. A tool that contains and maintains all the important information that should be included in a test plan without being a test plan.

Dr. Whittaker talks about investing in early cycle testing and how this new program can help identify all the capabilities, components and attributes of a specific target. The goal (as he alludes to) is to create something that is entirely reusable and isn't, like most test plans today, throw away.

Check out the video here:

To see the screen shots of (I'm assuming it's a prototype) of Google Test Analytics or Testify check out the slides here. The screen shots start on slide 27. Slide 32 and beyond show some of the views a user can take to identify the different elements defined.

All I can say is hopefully this becomes a free (or cheap) application available soon!

It's also worth noting and/or viewing that Dr. Whittaker and his team at Google appear to have created a "heads-up display". He demos/ shows screen shots from GTAC 2010 and it looks pretty cool. The HUD pulls all existing bugs from the related app you are testing so its easy to find if a bug has already been issued, etc. Very cool tool as well.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gadget Prices from 2010

Stat Attack: What your favorite Gadgets Really Cost from Men's health Techlust.

This was a pretty interesting article because they list the the cost of materials and production for each gadget and then provide an estimated profit margin. Of course the problem is they don't account for R&D, marketing, distribution, retail, etc. so the costs are a little far off. Also they got the profit margin completely wrong for the iPhone 4 (16GB). They assume that since the phone sells for $200 with a 2 year contract that Apple is only getting $200 per phone. That of course is untrue. Apple is getting around $650 per iPhone, the rest is paid by AT&T which is why the require 2 year contracts to begin.

Check out the costs for your favorite gadgets: (I left out the profit margins)
  • Apple iPod Nano (8GB)
    • Materials and Production: $45.10
  • HTC Droid Incredible
    • Materials and Production: $163.35
  • Nokia N8
    • Materials and Production: $187
  • Blackberry Torch
    • Materials and Production: $183.05
  • Apple iPad (16GB, Wi-Fi)
    • Materials and Production: $257.65
  • Slingbox Solo
    • Materials and Production: $83.60
  • Amazon Kindle (2nd gen.) (older model)
    • Materials and Production: $185.49
  • Apple Mac Mini
    • Materials and Production: $387.14
  • Apple TV
    • Materials and Production: $63.95
  •  Apple iPhone 4 (16GB)
    • Materials and Production: $187.51
  • PlayStation 3
    • Materials and Production: $33

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Helping Small Businesses

It's a fact: small businesses power our economy. They create the majority of jobs, spend more money as an aggregate than larger companies and yet when it comes to software quality they are probably the least adept. I can't say I blame them. I'd imagine that most software companies fit into the small businesses category (the definition of which varies so lets say under 20 employees) and as an employee of one I can say that most of the quality processes and tools are out of reach.

Why is that? Quality initiatives started in the defense industry and eventually filtered down into smaller (but still massive) businesses. The truth is most of the companies that can afford to invest in improving quality via tools, people and/or processes are businesses with lots of resources. That puts small businesses like mine in a bind. We can't afford to purchase large (co$tly) tools when we only have one person in the whole department. Why hasn't anyone exploited this market? (My excuse is that I'm not a coder.)

Small business quality tools for:
  • Automation - regression testing, web application testing (selenium is very limited)
  • Bug Tracking (actually there are a few)
  • Manual testing - all kinds of options here
Microsoft came out with Visual Studio Test Edition but you have to have Team Systems which is very expensive. Bug tracking software is pretty cheap these days but automation software and most other testing tools are either expensive or non existent.

Just imagine how much quality would improve if we could design tools and processes for people who work in small businesses. Think of how much we'd be helping small businesses!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Associate SQL Server user with login after db restore for SQL Server

This post was borrowed from Computer Cabal and expanded upon:

After you've restored a backed up SQL Server database instance you may find the user logins are no longer associated with the users. You can't make this fix via SQL Server Management Studio but you can run the commands below to fix it. Note: It only works for SQL Server 2005 SP2 and later, so the first thing to do is check what version of SQL Server you have.
  1. Log into the Management Studio for SQL Server 2005 run:
  2. SELECT SERVERPROPERTY('productversion'), SERVERPROPERTY ('productlevel'), SERVERPROPERTY ('edition')
  3. Or if you are using SQL Server 2008 run:
  4. SELECT SERVERPROPERTY('productversion'), SERVERPROPERTY ('productlevel'), SERVERPROPERTY ('edition')
  5. In the second column you should see a table with a row name you should see "SP2" or "SP3", if you see something like "SP1" or "RTM" or don't see a second column then you need to upgrade. Here's the link to download SQL Server 2005 SP3
  6. Once you've got at least SQL Server 2005 SP2 run:
  7. alter user [user_name] with login=[login_name]  
  8. Now you should be all set.
For more information on How to Identify SQL Server versions and editions go here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

WikiRebels - The documentary of WikiLeaks

One of my coworkers forwarded this to me. It's an hour long documentary on the history of WikiLeaks and it's founder and is interesting if you want to know more about the site website. It's interesting to note in the documentary they mention the new competitor OpenLeaks who hope to provide the same transparency as WikiLeaks but without the political agenda of Julian Assange and today there was an article in the Wall Street Journal featuring that new site and it's founder who was Mr. Assange's right hand man.

If you'd like to read the WSJ article on OpenLeaks go here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chrome OS Pilot Program

Today I signed up for Google's Chrome OS Pilot Program hoping to be one of the few testers that gets a "Cr-48" Chrome Notebook. After filling out the form online (took about 15 minutes) and skipping the option to create a video pleading my case, I can say I probably won't get one.

I signed up under business use because technically, as a software tester, I'm not a developer. (Maybe I should have chosen individual?) However I pleaded the case that as a tester for a small software company I'd be using the laptop everyday for a number of web applications that we use internally and externally and that as a software tester I have a unique ability to make things go boom! By that I mean crash. Plus I basically live on the web. (I'm at home right now, done with work and I'm writing a blog post. Ha!).

Now is it just me or is it a little discriminatory to Software Testers (like me) that we weren't included on the list of users? I mean you've got Business, Education, Non-Profit, Individuals and Developers but no Testers!

To sign up for yourself go here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Suunto Vyper Air Dive Computer w/Transmitter Review

This was originally posted on Search N Recovery in November of 2010. 

The Suunto Vyper Air is a wrist top dive computer that gives the diver depth, dive time, regular time, temperature, computes decompression limits, advises safety stops and with the wireless transmitter provides tank pressure information. I’ve been using the Vyper Air for almost a year after upgrading from an older Suunto Vytec DS with a wireless transmitter and I have to say I love the Air.

If you compare pictures of previous models to pictures of the Vyper Air you can see an immediate advantage in the larger screen and text display area. Moreover, the navigation buttons are larger and covered in full plastic which means easier navigation as you don’t have to use your fingernail to change settings or view past dive logs.

One of the newest features introduced in the Vyper Air is the digital compass. When you first get the Air you’ll need to walk around above water to configure the compass. Once you’ve configured it the compass works in a three dimensional manner below water - almost as easily as a regular compass. Personally the only problem I’ve had with using the Air as a compass was it took the focus away from being a dive computer. I like having a separate wrist top compass and wrist top computer but the compass display is large enough to cause me to loose focus of other important information the computer is trying to tell me.  Then again having a backup compass is quite nice.

As soon as you enter the water the Vyper Air switches over from a watch to a dive computer / pressure gauge mode without any input from the user. Any computer error codes from being unable to sync or out of range don’t last for long. There are only a few features I haven’t tried, one of those being the multi-gas mixtures.

The computer comes with an extra gauge protector which really is quite nice. After all you don't want to scratch up the face of the computer or you'll never be able to read from it. This isn't a problem with the computer as much as it may be a problem with the gauge protector but I've already scratched up both the original and extra gauge protector in less than 100 dives. Scratched to the point where I have trouble viewing the screen. Now I’m forced to order another replacement or two from Amazon.

The only other thing I don’t like about the dive computer is the same thing I didn’t like about the Suunto Vytec DS and that is the standard Suunto dive manager software. The software isn't aging very well. The graphical interface is poorly laid out which makes it hard to locate the appropriate information, the “database” is stored locally which is nice but it can’t be used with any other software and of course there is no web accessible version. This means that any information you attach to your dive "logs" in the software only stays in the software. It can't be shared with friends nor accessed outside of a desktop computer with the Suunto software.

The bottom line is the Vyper Air with the transmitter is an excellent dive computer with a great graphical interface that is easy to navigate even for the beginner. That is, of course, assuming you are comfortable with a wireless wrist top computer.

For more information check out Suunto’s website.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How to Verify an Email Address

How to Verify an Email Address? by Digital Inspiration is a good article and great reference to have for those occasions when you can't tell if an email is fake or not. Using telnet or putty the article shows users how to ping MX servers, then connect to the mail server(s) to verify the recipient's email address.

This article (and it's subsequent articles) had a few interesting references:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Add extra USB ports to your Laptop

Tip: If you have a laptop with few available USB ports consider adding an external monitor that has USB ports built in (USB hub). Take for example my Macbook Air. It has only 1 USB port (bummer) but when I hook it up to my Dell Ultra Sharp 19" monitor I now have 4.
2 USB ports on the Side and 2 on the bottom. Everything runs perfectly and I get an extra monitor out of it. If you need more than 4 just add another hub to the USB upstream port.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Windows turns 25 years old

There's a good article on Windows turning 25 years old tomorrow (it was published yesterday). It takes a look back in time and all the consumer versions of Microsoft Windows from Windows 1 to Windows 7.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A cool electric car

In a perfect world (or at least later in my life) I’d like to think I’ll own a few vehicles: a sports car, an SUV, a motorcycle and an electric car. (Maybe I should shoot for an electric sports car!?!) I just don’t think I’d want to own an electric car of today.

When I think of an electric car I think of a vehicle that is the very definition of high tech. It has full navigation / entertainment system that blends perfectly with the computer dashboard which provides countless performance statistics and diagnostic information about my vehicle. The vehicle syncs with all my mobile devices, takes voice commands, gets great gas mileage, hopefully it can drive itself (ok, maybe not), comes in countless variations and is stylish. Not $100k Tesla sports car stylish. But not Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt or Toyota Prius boring. Also nothing against the Prius, its just a boring car.

As an end consumer I wouldn’t really care if the electric car is a plug in, a full electric or a regular hybrid as long as it offers the things above. I probably wouldn’t be buying it because it gets 100 MPH since I don’t drive for work although it would be nice not to have to fill up twice on a round trip from LA to Vegas.
The only affordable and cool electric car I’ve seen (in print or real life) is one that doesn’t exist and probably won’t. The Cadillac Converj offered, in my opinion, something all other electrics have yet to offer (again except for maybe the Tesla) and that is an appealing shell.

True it didn’t have any / all of the requirements I listed above and would most likely have come out a lot different looking as it was put into production but it would have been a step in the right direction.

Just imagine a stylish, affordable, cool electric car - in the future. Perhaps by the time a cool, stylish, affordable electric car comes around it will be able to drive itself and our highways will look something like a blend of Minority Report and iRobot.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Set VLAN ID on a Network Adapter in Windows 7

Here are the steps to set a VLAN (Virtual LAN) ID on a network adapter in Windows 7:
  1. Right click on Computer > Click Properties
  2. Click Device Manager
  3. Expand Network Adapters
  4. Right click on the adapter you want to set the VLAN for > Click Properties
  5. Click on the Advanced Tab
  6. Under the Property window select VLAN ID
  7. In the Value window set your VLAN ID
  8. Click OK.

Your VLAN ID is now set. This same procedure should work in other versions of Windows with a sleight variation.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Hacking your car

    I randomly came across the Max Energy Power Programmer Chip by Hypertech months ago. It’s a programmable chip that's used to “hack” your car / truck's on board computer for improved MPG, improved horsepower, to adjust your speedometer due to modifications, etc. I’ve been considering one for my 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe for the those same reasons. From what I can tell you just hook it up to your computer via a USB cable, select what options or "hacks" you want and then attach it to your vehicle using the ODB-II connection and that's it. The chips also allow simple rollback options for returning the settings back to the default manufacturer guidelines.

    Every time I’ve needed to have an engine code read it has cost at least $100. So if you have one engine code a year (as you might expect with an older vehicle) the device could pay for itself within a few years. The problem of course is the manufacturer knows this and so the device retails for (my specific model) about $350. I found it here on Amazon.

    It’s a shame it’s so expensive. $350 is just too much to take a risk on, especially with only a 30 day money back guarantee.

    Review: Fitbit (Classic)


    I first noticed the fitbit when randomly browsing the Microsoft Store. (I'm not sure why I was browsing it, let's just assume this is normal. ) I found the idea intriguing so I went to their website to follow up on the details. It appears the fitbit was created by a small startup in San Francisco with the idea of making a small (perhaps unobtrusive) way for people to measure personal health data such as number of steps walked, calories burned and quality of sleep (aka a pedometer on steroids). The fitbit tracker device itself is about the size of a thumb drive.

    I've wandered to myself what my sleeping patterns look like (especially those days I wake up tired) and how many calories I burn in a day. Yet I’ve never been a fan of attaching giant devices (the Bodybugg) to my arm nor am I a fan of the pedometer watches – most of which are expensive and/or very bad looking. The fitbit solves both of these problems.

    Sleeping Patterns: 

    The fitbit gives users information on their sleeping patterns based on the motion of their arms during the night. You attach the fitbit to your arm using the supplied strap and it monitors at what times you move and for how long. If you know when you fell asleep you can log that information online and then see how many times you tossed and turned during the restful night. Unfortunately if you don't remember when you fell asleep or forget to record it daily the sleeping pattern data probably won't do you much good. I stopped using the arm strap after a few weeks because the strap is small and started to cut off my circulation in my hand. (I wonder if that creates a conflict? I wake up because the fitbit is cutting off my circulation.)


    The fitbit can be attached to your body in an unobtrusive way by clipping onto your belt or being put into your pocket. When positioned on or near your hip (central body location) it tracks your movements throughout the day in the form of steps. Users are unaware of the formula being used although one can assume by using your height and your body movement it "estimates" how many steps you take. Perhaps then by estimating how many steps you've made it can then calculate how many calories you've burned.

    The most important tracking device isn't the fitbit device itself it's through their free online system where you can update / add additional exercises for a more realistic picture of your day. Probably the best thing about this device is the fact it wireless transmits the data to a base station that attaches to your computer and then uploads the data to the fitbit website - so you don't have to. If you look at the screen shots in the Product Manual of the website and it looks simple yet effective. (And a little web 2.0-y.) It’s also a website with a free subscription unlike some other tracking devices I’ve seen.


    Another impressive techy thing is that your Google Health will sync with your website data. I don’t know about you but I signed up for both Google Health and Microsoft Health Vault years ago but have never really used them. Those services don't really offer me much utility since I don’t have prescription drugs.

    A month back log is kind of crazy, luckily 24 Hour Fitness sells them. I just wish they’d offer a return policy!

    Updated on 10/26/2011:

    I've updated the title of this post to reflect this review was based on the 1st generation model (I jokingly refer to as the classic model). The newest generation appears to be called the Fitbit Ultra.

    Anyone else use a fitibt? If so let us know what you think in the comments section!

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Review: Men's Health Personal Trainer

    As you’ve probably guessed from the title Men’s Health (or Personal Trainer is an online “personal training” program that helps you to set and track your workout goals. You select the type of workout routine you want to do from a list of 20 options, each with a different focus and the “personal trainer” creates the reps and sets for you to follow. You can also input specifics about yourself (weight, size of muscles, body fat %, etc.) and set additional goals which the system helps you track.

    You can print (or download) the workouts with the goals to fill in as you workout or with the goals and descriptions of how to properly complete the workouts. The “personal trainer” varies the workouts every few weeks so you don’t end up doing the same things over and over again. Each exercise has a full description of how to properly perform the exercise along with some animation for easy viewing. The system also offers articles from Men’s Health Magazine, a Nutrition Plan with daily recipes and a ton of other features.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    The Point of a Desktop?

    What is the point of a desktop computer? For most people a desktop offers power, expandability and easy maintenance at the expense of portability. This is why desktops work well in the office but what about at home? What if you like like to be on the computer in the living room while watching TV as well as in the bedroom or office for "real work"? Is this the true place of the iPad?

    The last time I made this decision I went for a desktop with lots of power so I could power 2 monitors plus a TV and a laptop that was super light and portable. I assumed I'd be using the desktop when I was at home and that I'd need a Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM, 1 TB HD, etc. But what for? I almost never use my desktop except for watching movies and occasionally running a virtual machine.

    On the other hand I use my laptop every day all the time. Sometimes I take it to work for an additional screen. I use it while watching TV - especially football (the 49ers are horrible this year and I'm forced to watch their pathetic attempts online) and while in my personal office for work and fun. Gaming? That's what the XBOX 360 is for of course.

    At this point I feel like my desktop is wasted and devaluing. I have a few servers that are handled remotely and my laptop can extend to at least one 19" LCD offering a much more "stationary" experience. So that's what I've done. I've removed my desktop and one of my two monitors and am now using my laptop as my only computer. If this works I'll have to decide what to do with my TV (maybe get an Apple TV) but I'll deal with that issue when it comes.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    New MacBook Air vs. Old MacBook Air

    The new MacBook Airs (MBA) arrived yesterday as Apple showed off two new models with 11" and 13"screens. Both models come with SSDs (the 11" only has a 64GB drive), larger, longer batteries and a much needed case redesign that adds one more USB port and removes the annoying flip down port cover that the original came with.

    As you can imagine I felt the need to compare my 13" MBA to the new model. Besides the obvious case and battery changes what does the new version have that mine doesn't? Two things: the ability to expand the memory to 4 GB and an updated graphics card. Not bad for a year old model! That spells good news for current MBA users; you have little reason to upgrade to a new machine, unless you didn't get an SSD, want an smaller screen and/or want to upgrade to 4GB on memory (which again is only available on the 13" model).

    The 4GB of memory is the main thing that entices me... and maybe the upgraded processor. But is upgrading from a Core 2 Duo 1.86GHz processor to a 2.0GHz processor worth $100? One of the case design flaws that I've learned to deal with is having the mini Display port, USB and headphone jack right next to each other. With a USB cable plugged into the slot there is no way to get a headphone jack plugged in. That means living with just adequate sound.

    Is it just me or does an 11" screen on the new MBAs make it seem like Apple is targeting would be netbook users? Maybe higher-end netbook users? Maybe that's just a coincidence.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    MacBook Air Year One

    I took my MacBook Air (MBA) into the Apple store yesterday because the screws in the casing appear to be stripped. I was a little surprised when they told me the warranty would expire in one day. It took a minute but it's still a little hard to believe I've already had it for a year.

    While I reflect on that year of use I can't help but think of the problems I've encountered with it:
    1. Initially I had a problem with bootcamp that the "Geniuses" at Apple couldn't solve
    2. Then I had a malfunctioning fan that made a strange noise
    3. Now the screws are stripping out of the case.
    These issues really haven't been that bad, more of a hassle than anything else. Yet I can't help but wonder what will the next year bring? Do I want to drop an extra $200 to extend the warranty for the next two years? Or just suck it up?

    Regardless of how long it takes to repair I'm going to have to survive the next few weeks without a laptop. Maybe if I can't make it that long I really don't need a laptop anymore..? In fact maybe I can replace it with an iPad like I discussed a few days ago. After all I can just write my blog posts on my iPhone like I'm doing right now!

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    New site using

    I just paid for the premium service at and moved my domain to it. I like the design of the site and how it essentially points to all my other sites Flickr, My Technology Fetish, SearchNrecovery, LinkedIn and Facebook status (if it ever updates - at this point its out of date by 10 months).

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    iPad replacing a laptop

    Have you ever given much thought as to whether an iPad could replace your laptop? Lately I have been. Maybe it's been the rumors of new MacBook Air's (MBA's) coming out which will really antiquate mine. Or maybe it's the promise of a brilliant looking touch screen (when will laptops also have touch screens?). The problem with an iPad and probably any mobile device (read Playbook, Kindle, etc.) is that most of them will be designed for consuming media and not creating media.

    I guess it really all depends on the user but as it turns out I do quite a lot of consuming media (reading blog posts, news sources like the Wall Street Journal, Wired and, etc.) and creating media (writing blog posts, writing a report for the occasional class, taking notes in OneNote, creating virtual environments, etc).

    Most of the creating I do could easily be done via the web - except the major word processor companies don't allow editing through mobile browsers. Have you ever tried to log onto Google Docs or Windows Live Apps from an iPad or mobile phone? You can read but you can't write! Sure I could still blog through but I wouldn't be able to upload new flickr pictures or test / create new virtual machines. It's not like I do that often but when I want to I want to now not later!

    Maybe future tablets will fix this functionality gap or maybe Google and Microsoft will fix the problems themselves. I mean who wants to have to buy additional Apple word processing and spreadsheet apps when there are perfectly good versions online? In the meantime computer manufacturers have no reason to fear iPad's cannibalizing laptop sales - at least not from me!

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Air 128 SSD Benchmarks

    I recently purchased a new MacBook Pro (MBP) with a 128 GB SSD drive and given my desire to benchmark SSD performance in my MacBook Air (found here, here and here) I've decided to do the same with the MacBook Pro. 

    I ran AD SSD Benchmark on the brand new MBP and here are the results:

    As you can see the sequential read speed was 196.19 MB/s and the sequential writes were 159.83 MB/s. (I wish I knew the manufacturer specified read and write speeds as a comparison.) I won't know the performance decreases until the machine has been in use for a number of months so I'll have to re run the tests in six months or so and post those results.

    Until then here are the specs for the MacBook Pro:
    • 15 inch MacBook Pro
    • 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 Processor
    • 4GB Memory
    • 128 GB SSD model number AGAA0206 (manufacturer is probably Samsung)
    • NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M Graphics card with 256MB memory
    You can compare* the above benchmarks to my MBA's drives sequential read speed of 90.98 MB/s and read speed of 29.00 MB/s.

    *These numbers are actually not quite comparable because:  
    1. The MBA is a used drive, which means most of the performance degradation has already occurred while the MBP is still brand new and as fast as it will ever be.
    2. The MBA is tiny and so the drive inside is only a 1.4" form factor compared to the 2.0" form factor for the MBP. I'm not sure how this affects the drive but again not directly comparable.
    Also here are some numbers from running the new SSD drive in Windows 7:
    1. Cold Boot Time was about 58.9 seconds
    2. Shutdown Time was about 10.2 seconds
    3. Time Launching Apps:
      1. Firefox was about 1.5 seconds
      2. IE was about 1.2 seconds
      3. Visual Studio 2008 (no solution opened) was about 0.9 seconds 
     Related Articles:

      Wednesday, October 6, 2010

      Memory for a Dell PowerEdge 860 Server and Precision T3400 Workstation

      I've been shopping for memory for a Dell PowerEdge 860 rackmount server and for a Dell Precision T3400 workstation. The specs aren't 100% clear on what type of memory it uses so here it is:

      • For the PowerEdge 860 it can take either PC2-5300 or PC2-6400 ECC (error code correcting) unbuffered, unregistered 667MHz 240-pin modules. The maximum these machines can handle is 8GB or 2GB for each of the 4 slots. The memory must be installed in pairs of modules. 
      • For the Precision T3400 workstation it can take the same as the PowerEdge 860 or even PC2-8500 modules. I believe the maximum memory allowed is 16GB on these machines.
      The good news is if you have PC2-5300 they should be compatible across both machines. Unless you've turned off ECC for the T3400.

      Monday, October 4, 2010

      Pictures of my old Samsung Q1 with Windows 7

      This was originally posted to on April 23, 2009:

      I promised these photos of Windows 7 running on my UMPC a while ago:

      This is a picture of my Samsung Q1 with Windows 7 running. You can see the desktop with the Beta Fish (one of my favorite backgrounds) and the new taskbar. If you look closely you can also see the Windows 7 build information in the lower right hand corner!

      With Windows Vista installed my Ultra Mobile has a Windows Experience Index of 2.0. As you can see with Windows 7 it only has a 1.5 rating, which means either Windows 7 didn't like the drivers or that Windows 7 is a little more intense in terms of it's requirements. Microsoft has stated the minimum requirements are the same, so I would venture to say the drivers may not be perfect. Does anyone know if Samsung plans to support drivers later than Windows Vista on their Q1s?

      I wonder if other manufacturers of UMPCs will support Windows 7...? With Windows 7 going to be out near the holiday season and Windows 8 on a time line for 2011, I think were up for an exciting time in the Ultra Mobile world! The last picture I took shows My Computer with how much hard drive space the basic Windows 7 install took up.

      Saturday, September 25, 2010

      Free Classes from the Khan Academy

      For years America's largest academic institutions have been contributing to a social project called Open Courseware. The idea is simple: provide anyone who wants to learn with free classes including lectures, materials, etc. from hundreds if not thousands of higher learning institutions. The idea is that by lowering the barrier to high quality education more people would want to learn.

      I've browsed the course selection over the years and currently I find myself watching a lecture series from Yale on an Introduction to the New Testament History. I found it through Open Yale courses here and then downloaded the video files through iTunes University for free.

      Despite Open Courseware's growth of content over the years I don't think it has caught on nearly as well as many would have liked. Now comes a new entrant into free, high quality education online called Khan Academy.

      The founder, Salman Khan, has been creating videos on a wide range of subjects including algebra, history, investing, banking, etc. in simple and easy to understand format that can break down even the most complex topics into several 10 minute YouTube videos. He's also been doing this full time as a not-for-profit institution to help people learn more. (You can find a number of video's about him and his background online).

      The Khan Academy has been generating a lot of buzz including getting funding from a number of silicon valley big wigs. It appears his types of classes has taken off far more than those offered by Open Courseware and with good reason - they deal with far simpler subjects.

      I just finished a video lecture on the Paulson Bailout. Check out the Khan Academy at

      For More Information on Open Courseware:
      MIT's Open Courseware
      The Open Courseware Consortium

      Friday, September 24, 2010

      1st Google AdSense Check

      It's official. About three weeks ago I got my first check from Google AdSense for $102.27 for ads here on My Technology Fetish and my old site Ultimate Ultra Mobile PC blog.

      Honestly there is no reason for this posting other than to say 1. Thank you - if not for all the visitors clicking on the ads, I wouldn't be able to almost afford a new Wifi only Kindle. 2. Damn that long time! I've had one blog or another up since 2008 on various topics and it took at least two years before I reached the threshold for Google to send me a check. (AdSense limits check payments to $100).

      I really see this as an experiment. Does advertising make a difference to you as a reader? One of my blogs (the young and growing Search N Recovery scuba site) doesn't have ads yet and I'm not sure if it will. Introducing ads down the line may happen for experimental purposes to see if bounce rates or average time on site drops. For a site owner its quite easy place advertisements thanks to Google. If it doesn't affect traffic, what do you have to loose?

      As a web surfer, I believe as long as the ads aren't obtrusive to the site visitor and they don't ruin the site (in terms of layout, functionality, etc.) then they don't bother me. I guess only time will tell.

      Thursday, September 23, 2010

      James Whittaker MSDN Blogs

      After reading James Whittaker's book Exploratory Software Testing, the last 40 or so pages are dedicated to his Microsoft blog "JW on Test". The good news is the blog is still up and running for anyone that want's to view his posts.

      If you want to catch James Whittaker's latest blog from his work at Google check out the Google Testing Blog.

      Wednesday, September 22, 2010

      MacBook Air Part 3 - 128GB AD SSD Benchmarks

      This is the third article in a three part series on MacBook Air Solid State Drive Benchmarks.

      In the previous two articles I gave some specific application launch times in order to give you an idea of how the MacBook Air's SSD performance is affected long term. At the time I wrote the original article (back in 2009) I couldn't find (didn't try hard enough?) a SSD benchmarking tool; at least not one that would work for both Mac OS X and Windows.

      I found a benchmarking tool for Windows called AD SSD Benchmark tool and I ran it on my "formatted" MacBook Air SSD Drive.

      Here are the results:

      As you can see the Sequential Read time is 90.98 MB/s and the Sequential Write time is 29.00 MB/s. This MacBook Air's SSD model is Apple SSD SM128 with revision VAM0BA1Q. A quick Google Search didn't turn up any of the original Samsung SSD HD specifications. It would be great to see the original SSD specifications for read and write times to see how they've decreased over time but that doesn't seem likely.

      Related Articles:

      Tuesday, September 21, 2010

      Make a book of your blog

      This was kind of random but I just came across a Google Ad for a company called Blog2Print. The idea is really simple, you can get a nice printed copy of your blog posts for sharing with friends / family / whoever. I guess that makes a lot of sense if you have a great photo journalism blog or for an field export or maybe even a blog following your baby's first few years. For most of us it's just a little self indulgent. (No wonder why I like it!).

      It kind of remind's me of a book my coworker recently read called Rework in which he said was mostly just blog posts (some unpublished) tied into a book. Imagine that? You could use Blog2Print to combine a bunch of your most popular / interesting posts into a digital book (they offer PDF formats) and then use Amazon's Vanity Press label to publish your book to the growing e-Book market.

      I can see it now, an entire book shelf covered in books "authored" by me!

      Monday, September 20, 2010

      MacBook Air Part 2 - 128GB Used SSD Benchmarks

      This is the second article in a three part series on MacBook Air Solid State Drive Benchmarks.

      At this point I've been using my MacBook Air (MBA) for many months and I can accurately attest that my MBA's Samsung SSD drive has seen a performance decrease from "actual use". I've formatted the drive, reinstalled Snow Leopard and used boot camp to install Windows 7 (which I use as my primary operating system). Each of these tests have been performed a few times so the numbers are averages. Also, I use the term "formatted" drive instead of "used" drive to differentiate between my prior tests.

      To recap here was the outline for benchmarking:

      1. New Drive – running OS X 10.5.6
        1. Cold Boot Times, Shutdown Times, and Time Launching Apps including iTunes, Safari and Firefox.
      2. New Drive – running OS X 10.6
        1. Cold Boot Times, Shutdown Times, Time Launching Apps including iTunes, Safari and Firefox.
      3. Used Drive – running OS X 10.6 (elapsed time: 1 week)
        1. Same as above
      4. Formatted Drive – Dual boot with OS X 10.6 and Windows 7 (elapsed time: > 4 months)
        1. Same as above minus the Benchmark Apps, Windows 7 Performance Index
      Here are the initial results:

      1. Brand New Drive - running OS X 10.5.6
        1. Cold Boot Time was about 27.3 seconds
        2. Shutdown Time was about 4.1 seconds
        3. Time Launching Apps
          1. iTunes was about 4 seconds
          2. Safari was about 1 second
          3. Firefox was about 1 second
      2. Brand New Drive - running Snow Leopard - OS X 10.6
        1. Boot Time was about 29.3 seconds
        2. Shutdown Time was about 2.3 seconds
        3. Time Launching Apps
          1. iTunes was about 1.5 seconds
          2. Safari was about 1.4 seconds (40% increase)
          3. Firefox was about 2 seconds (100% increase)
      3. Used Drive - running Snow Leopard (elapsed time: 1 week)
        1. Boot Time was about 31 seconds
        2. Shutdown Time was about 1.9 seconds
        3. Time Launching Apps
          1. iTunes was about 2.1 seconds
          2. Safari was about 1.75 seconds
          3. Firefox was about 2.3 seconds

      When comparing the previous data sets with the new data sets you should know that Snow Leopard boot and shutdown times should be directly comparable across the "New", "Used" and "Formatted" test categories. However the Windows 7 tests should not be directly compared to the Mac OS X results because not everything is equal. Since Windows 7 has to go through Apple boot camp the whole machine operates a little bit slower. For reference my MBA has a Windows Experience Index of 3.6. It gets a 5.9 for the SSD Hard Drive but only gets a 3.6 for the CPU.

      Here are the subsequent results:

      1. Formatted Drive – running Snow Leopard (elapsed time: >4 months)
        1. Boot Time was about 43.6 seconds (40% increase over "used" boot time)
        2. Shutdown Time was about 2.2 seconds (15% increase over "used")
        3. Time Launching Apps
          1. iTunes was about 1.6 seconds
          2. Safari was about 1.6 seconds
          3. Firefox was about 3.2 seconds (60% increase)
      2. Formatted Drive – running Windows 7 on boot camp (elapsed time: >4 months)
        1. Boot Time was about 54.9 seconds
        2. Shutdown Time was about 14.3 seconds
        3. Time Launching Apps
          1. iTunes was about 5.5 seconds
          2. Safari was about 2.0 seconds
          3. Firefox was about 2.3 seconds
      Windows 7 has the fastest boot and shutdown times for any Windows version but you can clearly see that Mac OS X smokes it. Also, if you know anything about SSDs you might expect the Windows 7 machine to be faster for read-modify-writes speeds since it supports TRIM the problem is the drive contained in my MBA doesn't support it. Of course neither does Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

      As I stated in the previous article I should have tried to encode a video file or mp3 because the write speeds show the largest performance decreases over time. (I'll have to remember that when I test the new MacBook Pro I just picked up). These numbers are rudimentary at best but the idea is to show you how fast a MacBook Air could be with a Solid State Drive. Is it worth the extra +/- $300? Well that's for you to deicide. Despite the drop in long term performance a SSD still feels much faster than a regular spinning hard drive and the extra battery life attained is impressive.

      Continue to the MacBook Air’s AD SSD Benchmark statistics here.

      Related Articles:

      Wednesday, September 15, 2010

      IE9 Public Beta out today

      I just finished downloading and installing the Internet Explorer 9 Beta on my Macbook Air (I run Windows 7 of course) and will probably be playing with it for the next year before the full release (or next beta comes out).

      Ars Techncia reviewed the latest IE Beta and includes a bit of a background on Microsoft and IE's development efforts from the early days to now. The article is pretty kind to Microsoft and the IE 9 beta but it's worth a read.

      Some of the things I've noticed (both good and bad):
      1. Page and History loading can be slow and sometimes shows blank pages.
      2. I like the simplfied UI. The less "chrome" the better.
      3. The combined URL / Tabs location sucks. You are forced to do with less of both. It would be great if they could put the tabs at the Top of the Window like Chrome does.
      4. Still no saving tabs when the browser is closed!
      5. Much much faster than IE8.
      6. Hopefully the next beta release and/or final release will be out in less than a year. Unlike IE8 which took more than a year to be released after the first beta.

      As a software tester and technophile I find it fun to play with new software and so I want the newest version of IE soon. At the same time it's good when companies take some time develop new products because it gives companies like mine time to prepare.

      Friday, September 10, 2010


      I've been using Posterous for a about a month now as a micro-blog for work. I find it incredibly handy to email small blurbs about what I'm working on or planning to work on. In the past when it came time to write down what I've done, I used Graffiti to blog on my Windows Home Server. Graffiti isn't the easiest format to use, especially when having to remember what I did at work.

      I'm not going to give away the domain I chose nor the password I protected it with. (Feel free to hack it if you can find it! - j.k) Hopefully this will help when review time comes around.

      Thursday, September 9, 2010

      The Xbox 360 S(lim)

      Since I saw the pre-release photos of the Xbox 360 Slim (or S) a few months ago I've considered upgrading from my old, original release 360. I wasn't one of those crazy people to stand in line for days to get the original on the release date, but I picked one up a few months afterwards.

      The new 360 Slim has a nice new look, touch sensitive buttons, quieter operation, less power consumption and an 802.11n wireless port. The problem with upgrading is that those few things I just listed are the only reasons to upgrade. As far as I can tell it isn't any faster, doesn't contain a Blue Ray player and the original can sync with the Kinect without any problems. So why spend the money to upgrade?

      Selling your old Xbox 360 on eBay seems to be a loosing proposition considering entire setups with HD DVD players, multiple controllers and games go for less than half of the new premium version.

      Luckily if you plan to get a Kinect when it comes out Microsoft has offered an Xbox 360 S bundled with the Kinect for about $50 less than you'd get for buying them separate. In the end that may be what I do. I may opt for the less expensive 4GB version (plenty of space for me) and the Kinect all in one for about $300. Hopefully I can get a little bit of money for my old Xbox 360 Pro but I think I'll keep my old, white, gear to use with the new machine. No reason to run out and buy all new equipment!

      Check out the review.

      Wednesday, September 1, 2010

      Tools for a Readable Web

      I just read Scott Hanselman's Two Must-Have Tools for a More Readable Web and I have to say both of these tools recommendations are great.

      Readability is a cool tool that will convert most websites into a more readable format. This way you get all of the information without the distraction of ads, random and poor web designs, etc. Hopefully no one does this here! =)

      The second tool Instapaper is a simple way to store websites for reading later. They offer a great JavaScript bookmark that allows users to quickly mark a site or article for reading later (as long as you are signed in). Plus they offer a few mobile apps, which I've installed on my iPhone for easy reading.

      Friday, August 27, 2010

      Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything

      I thought Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything was a good article from

      Here's a summary:

      1. Pursue what you love.
      2. Do the hardest work first.
      3. Practice intensely, without interruption for no longer than 90 minutes.
      4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses.
      5. Take regular renewal breaks.
      6. Ritualize practice.

      I think I need to work on quite a few of these. #3 requires the most work while #4 means you need someone else to help. If I want to become an expert at testing or create a successful company all are going to be important.

      Wednesday, August 18, 2010

      Map network drives to Widows 7 automatically

      Whenever a user is created on Windows Home Server a user directory is simultaneously created for storing that persons data. I felt like I had been under utilizing my directory and the global "Photos" directory so I decided to setup a few network maps on my laptop and desktop.

      This is how I setup my network maps automatically when I log into Windows. It was taken from my previous post on Online Backups for Windows Home Server.

      1. Open your C: drive (or where ever else you'd like to create the batch file).
      2. Create a new batch file and call it whatever you like. I went with "mount.bat". You can do this quickly by creating a text file and then changing the extension from .txt to .bat, assuming you have the option switched to see extensions.
      3. Edit the batch file and add the following code:

      echo %date% %time% : "%cd%\mount.bat" >> c:\mount.log

      timeout /t 10

      echo "Mounting K with \\servername\directoryname" >> c:\mount\mount.log

      net use K: \\servername\directoryname /USER:servername\username password /persistent:no >> c:\mount.log 2>&1 2>&1

      1. You'll want to edit the "echo" and "net use" lines so that they match your server name, directory name and administrator's user name. This is where you specify the exact location of the drives you want to mount.
      2. Then you'll want to change "password" to the actual password for you administrator user.
      3. Copy and paste the "echo" line as many times as you'd like to mount as many drives as you'd like. Just remember to repeat the previous steps for each of the lines otherwise you'll be mounting the same drive over and over again!
      4. Save and close your mount.bat file.
      5. Create a task in Windows Scheduler (found in C:\Windows\Tasks) to run your new mount.bat file when the computer starts.
      6. Double click on Add Scheduled Task
      7. Click next and browse to your mount.bat file and open it
      8. You can keep the default name of the schedule but set it to run "When my computer starts" and click next.
      9. Click OK or Apply and when you restart your computer all your drives will be mounted.

      That's all there is to it. Now when you log on to your computer you will have a small DOS window pop up and mount your drives. Feel free to change the /t 10 to any amount of time you would like. The lower the value the quicker the DOS window will disappear.

      Tuesday, August 10, 2010

      Old Firefox releases

      A coworker of mine pointed this out and as a software tester it's good to have access to older Firefox releases:
      1. Old Firefox Release README file
      2. Old Firefox Releases - FTP directory
      Note: Mozilla makes a point to mention previous releases contain known vulnerabilities. Also this links directly to the Mozilla Firefox release FTP directory where you can find old and new releases that have been uploaded.

      Wednesday, August 4, 2010

      Text Editor: Bend

      There is a new text editor for Windows called Bend that uses the MetroUI interface(think Zune Marketplace).

      Check out the Lifehacker article on it

      Updated: 8/18/2010:

      Looks like the Bend Beta which was available a few days ago, no longer is. Hopefully they will have a new beta soon!

      Website dedicated to Life size Star Wars Characters

      I have to admit I've always wanted a life size Boba Fett or Strom Trooper; I'm just not sure I'm willing to put down the money required. Anyways it looks like there is a website dedicated to collecting life size Star Wars characters (of course) and so I thought I'd share it:

      You can look at this persons entire collection of characters or you can view them one by one with pictures and videos. Pretty cool. Note: this is an old website.

      Tuesday, August 3, 2010

      Jailbreakme unlocks your iPhone and iPad

      JailbreakMe 2.0 when run from your iPhone or iPad allows quick and easy jailbreaking. Jailbreakme uses an exploit in Safari to run the jail break code (which means it's unlikely to work forever - at least until the next update). Lately there have been quite a few articles floating around about how easy this specific jailbreak works and some of the downsides like in Cydia there are no applications that take advantage of the Retina display on the iPhone 4.

      In my post The Case for an iPad I toyed with the notion of jailbreaking an iPad to release more functionality like installing other browsers (Firefox and Chrome), using flash, etc. and although I don't have one to try it on, I think this is a step in the right direction.

      Monday, July 26, 2010

      Creating your own Kindle Book

      I recently read the Dr. Dobbs Journal article "Technical Writing for the Kindle" by Al Stevens and I thought it was quite informative.

      Part of the article discusses how traditional publishing works and the advantages of using Amazon to self-publish a book. Al discusses the pros and cons of publishing your own book which consists of doing all the writing, editing, formatting, proofing, etc. yourself versus having professional help from a traditional publisher. Self-publishers also loose the might of a traditional publishers marketing knowledge and budget.

      In essence publishing your own Amazon eBook for the Kindle is like working with a "vanity press" - publishing for the reason of saying you have a published book. (Sounds good to me!)

      The most helpful / informative part of the article is from the 2nd page on where Al gives you advice on how to create your own book including the correct types of fonts and layouts to use for technical books. It's at least worth a read, if not a reference point for your own future "vanity" book!

      Tuesday, July 13, 2010

      Downgrading iPhone to iOS 3.1.3 from iOS 4.0

      I should have known it was a bad omen when I upgraded to iOS 4 from 3.1.3 and during the upgrade process an error occurred sending my iPhone 3G into a continuous restart loop. I had to take it into the Apple store the next day so they could show me how to put it into a "restore mode".

      Ever since I got the iOS 4.0 working on my 3G it slowed my phone to a crawl. Text messages took about 20 seconds to come up if they came up at all. The Maps program took just as long. The iPod crashed more than ever. Then I saw the Lifehacker article on how to How to Downgrade Your iPhone 3G[S] from iOS 4 to iOS 3.1.3 and I figured it was worth a try.

      The instructions on Lifehacker are kind of long and not exactly straight to the point. The instructions I am posting below are summarized from the Lifehacker article and they include using both Windows 7 and Mac OSX. I used Mac OSX for the RecBoot software because I had easy access to it and the Windows version isn't as easy to setup (since I didn't try it I shouldn't say if it really is or isn't).

      Basic iPhone 3G Downgrade Instructions:

      1. Download iOS 3.13 for the 3G phone here.
      2. Plug your iPhone into your computer.
      3. Power it down by holding the sleep/lock button and sliding to power off.
      4. Once it's powered down, press and hold both the sleep/lock button and the home button for ten seconds.
      5. After ten seconds, release the power button but continue holding down the home button.
      6. If you did it right, iTunes will pop up a window telling you that it's detected an iPhone in recovery mode and your iPhone's screen will be black. If it didn't work, start from the beginning and try again. (For me it just appeared in iTunes without showing the window!)
      7. Click on the iPhone in iTunes (select it).
      8. Hold down the shift key and click Restore which should open up an explorer window. The shift key is for Windows only. I'm not sure what key it is for Mac OSX.
      9. Select the downloaded iOS 3.1.3 file and let the restore complete.
      10. Download RecBoot for OSX here. Note: This is where I switched to the Mac. If you use a Windows machine you can download RecBoot for Windows; it requires .NET 4.0 and some other software program. Good luck.
      11. In the downloaded RecBoot software there will be two programs. Click and run the RecBoot program called RecBoot Exit Only which will cause the iPhone “exit recovery mode” and to restart.
      12. Sync your newly downgraded iPhone

      Good luck. Needless to say I'm on the waiting list for the iPhone 4. However this whole experience plus the iPhone 4 issues have me considering leaving the iPhone family (not seriously, at least not at this point). Maybe once my contract is up on my iPhone 4 I will.

      Monday, July 5, 2010

      The History of Browser User-Agent String

      I thought this was a good, albeit old, article about the history of web browsers in a funny / sarcastic way. Check it out:

      Sunday, July 4, 2010 and

      I guess it's just my nature that I'm constantly unhappy with the way my websites look. I'm often most satisfied with them when they're just a basic white site with a few links. My current design of features a nice HTML page with a few links, a bio and my most recent blog entries for this site but isn't much beyond that. I don't know any of the APIs for sharing content to the majority of sites I belong to (Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, etc) so the site has to be pretty static. Although I did manage to use Google's AJAX and Feed Wizard for the RSS feeds.

      In order to get around the site being static and without turning it into another blog, I started playing with a few months ago. I think I've finally got it into a basic design that I like and it shares my Facebook Statuses, two blog posts, LinkedIn profile, Flickr photos and YouTube posts. It doesn't have my bio but I'm okay with that. It also doesn't have a way to link with Google Buzz which would be cool but it's not a deal breaker. I think I like it enough to pay for the "premium" $20 a year features which will allow me to use the domain name.

      Check it out:

      Thursday, July 1, 2010

      Change the registered owner of Windows

      This is an older hack works on most version of Windows including 7, Vista and XP. You can change the registered owner (name) and organization of Windows after you've already installed it.

      Follow these steps to alter the owner and organization information:

      1. Launch the Registry Editor (regedit.exe from the search field)
      2. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current Version
      3. Locate and double-click the RegisteredOrganization value
      4. Change / Add the registered organization's name
      5. Locate and double-click the RegisteredOwner value
      6. Change / Add the registered owner's name
      7. Close the Registry Editor and restart your machine for the changes to take effect.

      Some of the names / values may change with different versions of Windows but their location in the Registry will be the same.

      Tuesday, June 29, 2010

      The Thrilling potential of SixthSense technology

      This is a great video from a year ago from TEDIndia, on helping users in the physical world interact with the digital world.

      I thought the coolest part of the video was when Pranav was reading a newspaper and he had full video projected on it. Anyways check it out:

      Friday, June 25, 2010

      Upgrading Office Live Workspace to SkyDrive

      I recently posted about Microsoft's new Office Web Apps being built into SkyDrive and how the Office Live plug-in for Word had a notice that it would soon be discontinued.

      Well today I needed to get to my documents stored on Office Live Workspace (the place where the Office Live plug-in stored the documents) and low and behold I find an option to "Upgrade" my account to Windows Live SkyDrive. The upgrade, I assume, is basically a merge of all your documents form Office Live Workspaces to SkyDrive.

      I had both fingers crossed hoping all my documents would make the journey and they did! The "upgrade" took about 5 minutes and merged over all of the separate categories as similarly named folders.

      Note: It looks like documents need to be in the latest "x" format to be opened in Office Web Apps. The Web Apps will do this for you automatically but it could take a long time!

      Thursday, June 24, 2010

      Testing the Limits with James Whittaker

      Testing the Limits with James Whittaker part 1 and part 2 is a good / informative interview from uTest with Google's Test Director, James Whittaker.

      The concept of a tester's Heads Up Display (HUD) is very exciting, albeit a little hard to grasp and testing using the cloud seems like a natural progression. I also can't wait to see the Web Testers Framework (WTF!) built into Chrome. That should make things a whole lot easier!

      Reading James' interview and his first few question responses makes me a little curious about how vastly different Google's testing processes are from Microsoft's. Good times.

      Wednesday, June 23, 2010

      Microsoft Office 2010 breaking Visual Studio 2008

      Last week I started having problems with building projects in Visual Studio 2008 because of the error: "Unrecoverable build error". Here's the screen shot.

      My coworker, Aaron, said he was having problems with VS freezing / hanging since he installed Microsoft Office 2010 x64. After reading through a number of articles it looks the uninstallation of Office 2007 and/or the installation of Office 2010 x64 causes problems when you switch to design view in VS.

      Clearly that's wasn't my problem but I thought it might be related so I followed the same repair process for the "Unrecoverable build error".

      Here's how:
      1. Go to the Control panel
      2. Go to Add/Remove Programs
      3. Select Microsoft Visual Studio Web Authoring Component
      4. Click the Change button
      5. Select Repair
      6. Once it is done repairing the installation, Restart your computer
      That's all it took and now Visual Studio is back up and building.

      Updated on 7/15/2011:

      I eventually figured out the problem with the "Unrecoverable Build Error" problem. Check out this post for more information.

      Friday, June 18, 2010

      Website Copier and Offline Browser

      I just came across this very cool and useful tool called HTTrack. As a website copier / offline browser utility HTTrack allows the user to download a specified site to a local directory. HTTrack builds out all of the directories recursively grabbing HTML, images and other files from the server and placing them onto your computer.

      After the website is copied, HTTrack creates a log file identifying crawl errors (like 403, 404, robot.txt files, etc.) and the problem directories. As you can imagine this is quite handy for testing websites. Besides finding broken links, testers can take the downloaded sites and modify the code to find server side problems.

      Download HTTrack in 32 or 64 bit here:

      Thursday, June 17, 2010

      Graffiti CMS 1.3 is added to Codeplex

      Graffiti CMS has been open sourced and added to Codeplex. They have two development branches, Graffiti CMS 1.3 which is probably a bunch of small fixes and improvements from 1.2 and Graffiti CMS 2.0. Check it out here:

      At the time of this writing, looks like the site was taken down for maintenance. Hopefully it will be back up with new and exciting changes. At last look the latest binary release was 1.3. I think the latest stable release is 1.2, which is the version I have running on my Home Server.

      If you want to know how to setup Graffiti CMS 1.2 on your Windows Home Server just follow the instructions from I'm not sure how accurate they will be anymore given the move to Codeplex but there might be a few.

      Wednesday, June 16, 2010

      The case for an iPad

      Ever since Apple released the iPad I’ve had to restrain myself from running out and buying one. Months ago when I was shopping for a laptop, I needed something that was powerful and portable (light-weight) so I could travel with it. Previously I had a Dell D820 laptop which wasn’t exactly portable, at least not in today’s terms where iPad’s and netbooks are the norm. The field of candidates wasn’t very large. It was either a light (read expensive) laptop or a netbook, the latter which I despise just about everything about. Less than six months after my Macbook Air purchase Apple debut the iPad.

      Am I happy with my Macbook Air? Yes. I have one of the slimmest, lightest laptops on the market with a brilliant screen and Windows 7 – which kicks the crap out of OS X. (What can I say, I’m a Windows fan boy!) The only drawback to all the laptops I was shopping for was the fact none of them offered touch screens or tablet features. I’ve had a tablet (a Gateway m275) in the past and I loved it. I’ve also had a touch screen device (Samsung Q1 Ultra Mobile PC) which I loved. Now comes the iPad which has a better design and screen than any other device like it on the market, the only drawback is it’s for consuming content, not really creating.

      Aside from that drawback I’m convinced I could get a lot of use out of it –without throwing out my laptop. First I need to wait until iOS 4.0 software debuts later this summer which will officially bring multitasking to the table. I can stream Pandora while checking stocks or reading a book or newspaper (one big reason I want one). I want a better way (digital way) to read my magazines, books and newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Moreover with Dropbox I can share documents between devices and as soon as Google Docs or Office Web Apps support Safari Mobile, I’ll be able to do basic word processing.

      Those uses aren’t are appealing but the possibilities become greater when you consider Jailbreaking the iPad. Jailbreaking for the iPhone has been around for a while but I’ve never had much desire to Jailbreak my phone since I’m already on AT&T, I don’t care about a multitasking phone (for the most part), having access to the file system or being able to get some of the more advanced apps (like Firefox, etc.). It’s a “phone” after all. Phones are used for games, listening to music, browsing the web and the occasional phone call. Not for hacking. =)

      A Jailbroken iPad could offer a way to install a fuller operating system (like Windows 7 or XP) and give access to the handful of applications I use on a regular basis – Scottrade streaming quotes, Microsoft Office (Word and OneNote), Zune Marketplace, Keepass, etc. without relying solely on Web Apps or iOS Apps. It would also give me the option to install a different browser and browse sites that use flash. With Windows I could use the built-in handwriting recognition features with a stylus for a notebook in meetings. Jailbreaking has existed for years for iPhones and will hopefully extend to the iOS 4.0 software contained in iPad’s being released later this month. Once that happens I will stop restraining myself and get one too.

      Tuesday, June 15, 2010

      Microsoft Office and Office Web Apps 2010 released

      Today Microsoft released Office 2010 and as we speak I'm in the process of downloading it. I'll install Office, Visio and Project 2010 later this week as I upgrade from 2007. I don't expect there will be much of a difference from 2007 except for a few design changes.

      The real exciting change to Office 2010 is the release of Office Web Apps 2010 which is Microsoft's answer to Google Docs. To launch Office Web Apps, log into SkyDrive or Window's Live, click the Office link at the top and from there you can launch Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in a "lite" version.

      Now I can't say that I'm a big fan of SkyDrive's or Window's Live's layout but the Web Apps work pretty well and they allow you to launch the standalone versions by clicking a single button. For those of us that started using Office Live Workspaces Add-In, it seems as though Microsoft will be shutting down the Office Live Workspaces system and moving over the documents to SkyDrive, automatically. Here's the announcement screen:

      It's good to see Microsoft is getting rid of the Office Live Workspaces Add-In in favor of SkyDrive and the Web Apps. The Add-In caused a lot of problems with Office 2007 and was pretty slow. Whether or not the new Office Web Apps catches on will remain to be seen. I've been using Dropbox to store and share most of my documents these days because it's so quick. It may take some time to get comfortable with SkyDrive and Office Web Apps and if it doesn't offer the collaboration options that Google Docs does, why bother?.

      Looks like businesses that have SharePoint Server 2010 deployed can have a private deployment of Microsoft Office Web Apps 2010 by downloading a 200MB add-in. Sounds pretty cool to me. For more information go here.

      FCC's Title 2 regulation for the Broadband Industry

      This is an interesting article on how the FCC is trying to tighten it's grip on the Broadband Industry by going back and redefining what the Internet and Broadband connections mean. The article starts out as reporting more on the discussions and trends of the FCC in regard to Title 2 and then goes into more of an op-ed piece.

      Apparently AT&T's U-Verse program is going to be halted or significantly slowed if this change occurs. The article mentions how VOIP is dead from a competition (and maybe innovation) perspective because of the FCCs moves. I'm not sure how true this is and/or if this was bound to happen anyways due to competition from the larger telecom companies or not.

      Monday, June 14, 2010

      iPhone 4

      I've been stuck using an iPhone 3G for the last 18 months because of Apple's upgrade policy. As you can imagine it pissed me off a bit when I learned I couldn't upgrade to the 3GS, however I knew it was just a matter of time before a newer version would be out and to my joy the iPhone 4 will be available June 24th.

      After 18+ months the iPhone 3G is super slow and crashes a lot when I'm running the iPod and trying to use the maps navigation app. I can't wait for the added 8GB of space since my current 8GB iPhone is packed full of music, apps and movies.

      Since I'm going to get an iPhone 4 soon after it releases, the only real question is do I extend my AT&T contract another 2 years to get the discounted price? If I do take the $199 price I'll be a slave for the next few years and I'll be forced to stay on the 2 year upgrade cycle that has already made me upset. If I don't take the upgrade price the phone is around $599 but I can upgrade at any time and I can always sell my old one. Tough decisions!

      Monday, June 7, 2010

      Using iTunes to create custom Ringtones

      People love to personalize and customize their phones so why should the iPhone be any different? One of the easiest ways to do this is by adding different ringtones. It's unfortunate that Apple charges iTunes' users money on top of the song to create a ringtone.

      Luckily for us Apple buried a way to create Ringtones in iTunes itself but only with songs that you've purchased through their store in the .m4a extension. Here's how to do it using the latest version of iTunes 9.

      1. Open iTunes
      2. Go to the Edit menu > Click Preferences > Click the Import Settings on the first "General" page
      3. Make sure the Import Using field is set to AAC encoder
      4. Click OK to save your settings; then close both Windows
      5. Go to your Music Library and find the song that you want to convert into a ringtone
      6. Right click on the song > Click Get Info > Click the Options tab
      7. Check the Start and Stop Times checkboxes and then change the times so you have a ringtone no longer than 30 seconds (the max allowed for iPhone Ringtones). You may want to play the song several times to figure out the exact spot of the song you want to hear.
      8. Click OK to save your settings
      9. With the song still selected go to the Advanced menu > Click Create AAC Version. A shorter version of your song has now been created and placed in your Music Library.
      10. Right click on the new song > Click Show in Explorer > Find the new song version and change the .m4a extension to .m4r
      11. Double click the renamed song and iTunes should automatically place it in the Ringtones library. When you re-sync your iPhone the ringtone will be there.

      Note: I originally saw this hack in the iPhone Hacks book; however the steps detailed in the book are a bit outdated since it was published in 2009.

      Wednesday, June 2, 2010

      Steve Jobs on the iPad and Content

      Yesterday (June 1st) at the D8 conference Steve Jobs talked about the creation of the iPad and it's importance in helping news gathering and editorial organizations get back on their feet. See the video here:

      Many believe that the iPad is the savior for the journalism community because it will bring a whole new group of users online, ready to consume journalistic media. Which, if it even comes close to the success of the iPod, is completely possible.

      The sad part of the iPad being a "savior" for the journalism community (excluding bloggers) or any other online media consumption is, like the music companies, they clearly don't understand who their customers are. On more than one occasion Mr. Jobs mentioned before the release of the first iPods they asked the "big four" music companies who their customers were. The answer shocked Apple: Best Buy, Tower Records, etc. The "big four" had no clue who the true customers were or what they wanted. The same goes with the journalism community.

      Why would anyone pay more for a Magazine or Newspaper on the iPad than they currently pay for the paper subscription? Like Jobs I don't want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers (I don't want that much influence) but I personally don't think editorials will save us nor ever have. The market will decide who in the journalism community survives. In the meantime, I'm waiting for the day when I can consume online media in a friendly and cost effective way.

      I wonder how long I'll have to wait...