Thursday, December 29, 2011

About the Author

Hi my name is Chris Kenst; I'm a software tester, scuba diver and blogger. Cool, huh?

I started blogging for fun years ago and its since turned into a way to express myself and coalesce my thoughts. Only recently have I felt the confidence to step up and blog about testing. A majority of my blogging occurs at My Technology Fetish and at Search N Recovery. My hope is to write thoughtful enough that in the future I have the privilege to do some guest posts / blogging elsewhere. I understand that blogging <> journalism. =) Occasionally I do reviews of books including those provided to me for free by O'Reilly's Blogging Program. Of those books I review that I get for free I make note of it so readers can tell if I have reason to be biased.

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

I'm a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer (scuba instructor) and have been teaching for over 4 years. A big believer in teaching from experience, from things you know and learn, I try to dive on a weekly basis - outside of classes. I'm always looking for a good diving adventure and hope sometime soon to dive outside the U.S. and Mexico.

I'm a technophile which means I love (new) technology, always have. I started as a Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst outside of college but only in the last few years have I begun to challenge the conventional wisdom on testing - testers don't belong doing QA. It just doesn't work. A follower of the context-driven school of software testing, I enjoy learning rapidly and applying that knowledge to investigate new systems and technologies. I'm interested in becoming an "expert" software tester and contributing what I can to the community. Someday soon I hope to start a local weekend testers / test dojo to meet other like-minded individuals.

I've posted My Tester's Commitments for anyone who is curious what it's like to work with me.

So that's me, your author. I hope you take something of value from this blog. If you do, please share your story here in a comment.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Watch Videos (YouTube, Hulu, Amazon) on your Xbox 360

For years Xbox 360 users with a Gold Xbox Live membership and a subscription to Netflix could stream movies to their TV. But what about streaming from Amazon, Hulu and YouTube? If you just want Amazon they have a work around that will allow you to stream from your PC to your Xbox here.

What if you want to watch YouTube videos and free movies? How about Hulu, not Hulu Plus, which has many of your favorite shows?

Becoming a Software Testing Expert

From a software tester's point of view a lecture entitled Becoming a Software Testing Expert is a bit enticing. A lecture by James Bach is even more so. Bach, widely considered an expert in Software Testing, is a passionate advocate of software testing. As an expert he's in a good position to help others.

He makes the case that testers need to be professional skeptics. If testers are constantly skeptical about what they are supposed to test, ask lots of questions and can backup their reasoning for the tests being performed then they should do very well. A software tester's best assets are their ability to rapidly learn about new systems and apply that learning to find gaps in the system. Some gaps will be based on written requirements and some on unwritten requirements.

The lecture presented at Google is worth a watch:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Read mTF using Google Currents

Reading My Technology Fetish or any blog just got a little more fun with Google Currents, the new "reader" appl from Google that works on any iPhone, iPad or Android device. Simply
subscribe to My Technology Fetish through Google Reader, then click the Add More button on your Current Library and within a few minutes you've got us or any blog displayed in a nice newspaper-like format.

I've already Search N Recovery as well as a few other news sources into my library:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Install and Configure Debug Diagnostic Tool

Microsoft's Debug Diagnostic Tool can be run to collect memory dumps of a process when it is crashing. Recently I used it to identify a crash in IIS, w3wp.exe, caused by an unhandled exception in ASP.NET serialization. Using the debug tool I was able to get more debugging information on the specific reason for the failure.

Starting with Windows Vista (including Windows 7, 2008, etc.) a feature called Windows Error reporting is enabled by default and takes dumps of all application crashes. You can use this feature first and if it doesn't report any crashes you can use Debug Diagnostic Tool. In my case Windows Error reporting wasn't catching anything.

To download the Debug Diagnostic 1.2 tool go to Before you install the .msi make sure you remove all previous versions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Simple and Free Windows Network Monitoring Tools

Simple and free (or cheap) Network Monitoring Tools for Microsoft Windows - sounds simple enough, right?

Why would someone want simple and free (or cheap) monitoring tools for Windows? Remotely monitoring CPU, Memory and Hard Drive usage for a test lab of 6+ servers (or for any size network) is important for detecting resource constraints, either before the happen or as an explanation for why something fails.

Some may want flexibility in the resources they monitor. Personally I wanted a tool that is web based, has low (or real-time) refresh, could send alerts, relatively easy to install, is free and works for Windows Server. Nagios, which is one of the most popular (supposedly) network monitoring tools, is overly complex and takes far too much time to setup, however it also provides great flexibility.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Updated pages and using Disqus

Changes are coming to mTF.

The first is an updated About This Blog page, which previously was just a trivial About page. The second change is a link at the top for Software Testing (looks like a page). This link will become more relevant over time as the number of articles I write focusing on Software Testing increases. In the meantime you can see the few things I've written about.

Lastly we are now using Disqus for our commenting system which is a huge addition. Be sure to leave comments! On everything!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Free eBook from Scott Berkun: Mindfire

Scott Berkun's (writer of Myths of Innovation, etc.) new book Mindfire is free to download on his blog for the next 1 day and 22 hours in PDF, ePub and Mobi formats. All you have to do is sign up for his email list and you can download it immediately.

I already pre-ordered his book through Kickstarter and while I wait for my Kindle version to arrive I'll sign up and a copy in ePub format to read on my iPad. I will be mentioned in the book in the Acknowledgments section so take a look!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Steve Jobs and the 60 minutes interview

In preparation for his new biography entitled Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Isaacson went on 60 minutes to discuss Steve Jobs and his life leading up to his death.

The interview is broken into 2 parts and I highly recommend watching (may take some time to load):

Part 1:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

StarWest 2011 Keynote Presentations

I've uploaded two Keynote Presentation's from this years (2011) StarWest conference.

The first is James Whittaker's Keynote entitled All That Testing is Getting in the Way of Quality:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Expandable Post Summaries for Blogger

Expandable post summaries are the method by which each blog post consists of a short intro paragraph followed by a "Read More" link. They make for faster viewing and loading of web pages while still giving readers access to the information they want. Turns out blogger makes it very easy to do this.

Using a feature called jump breaks or "after the jump" summaries, edit a post and in the "Compose" mode there is a icon that looks like this:

Insert the jump break after the paragraph or line where you want the introduction to end and everything below that line will appear once the user clicks the "Read More" link. That's all there is to it!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

James Bach's Open Lecture on Software Testing

I got to talk to James Bach last week at StarWest 2011 in Anaheim. I joined his Critical Thinking class for its final 2 hours on Tuesday after walking out on my boring afternoon half-day tutorial on Open Source tools.

I was surprised when I was able to catch up to and chat with him after the class. I asked about the books he recommended that were on sale at the convention at which point he gave me his copy of Captivating Lateral Thinking Puzzles he'd shown in class. (Thank you, although my girlfriend finds it amusing to open the book and quiz me randomly.) In our chat I told him I enjoyed this Open Lecture:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Learning about customers

Working for a startup company you go through a lot of problems, potential solutions and more problems. I was reminded of my company in the article by Startup Lessons Learned entitled Validated learning about customers. Eric Ries, who writes the Startup Lessons Learned blog, describes two scenarios with two fictional companies.

My company is like the first company in his post: the metrics of success change constantly and our product definition fluctuates regularly. Our development team is always busy but those efforts don't exactly lead to added value to the product. We are pretty good at selling the one-time product but we have to put a lot of effort into each sale and so the sales process isn't scalable. Worse it's frustrating that management doesn't see this.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Windows 8 Developer Preview Screen Shots

Here are a couple of screen shots of my Windows 8 Developer Preview running on VirtualBox. For information on how to install Windows 8 Dev on a virtual machine go here.

When I first logged into Windows 8:

The new version of the OS (at least the preview) uses a lot of solid color backgrounds which looks pretty good.

Installing Windows 8 Developer Preview on a VM

Microsoft released Windows 8 Developer Preview a few days ago to give developers and whoever else a sneak peak into the new Windows version. They released it in ISO format which can be burnt to a DVD and installed on a computer. How old school. The best way for most people to experiment with it is installing and running it on a virtual machine. The problem is both VMware and Microsoft Windows Virtual PC can't run it.

It's a little odd that Microsoft would release Windows 8 Developer and not give people the ability to download the Virtual PC based version in addition to the ISO files. Note to Microsoft, if you want to push Windows Virtual PC market share up, release your downloads in the format for quick running.

To install Windows 8 Developer Preview you need to use VirtualBox.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blogger App for iOS

I just saw this but frankly it's about time Google put out an iOS app for Blogger:

To download the iOS Blogger app directly go here:

It's funny and sad that Google and Microsoft don't have more full blown mobile application's (think iOS, Android) for some of their biggest products. Not being there doesn't invalidate the market, so why not make some money and maintain some market share?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Access to the registry key 'Global' is denied

Recently I was getting the error "Access to the registry key 'Global' is denied" in a software program running on server with Windows 2008 R2 SP1.

A quick Google search revealed this article on Stack Overflow describing a problem in IIS with users not having the correct user permissions in the associated application pools of the running application which lead to a similar error. Further searching turned up this article on describing Microsoft's changes to IIS 7.5 (running on Windows 2008) where they created a new, less powerful user to run application pools called "ApplicationPoolIdentity".

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Align Your SSD Partitions for Improved Speed

This is an good post from Lifehacker for those of us with Solid State Drives (SSD).

Turns out if your SSD's partition isn't aligned correctly it will under-perform. Luckily there is a very easy way to check if it's aligned properly for Windows:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Google Correlate's throat job

This is completely random and funny but I guess that's the point. I found myself on Google Correlate's Draw page where you can draw a search curve and Google will match whatever keywords followed that search pattern.

Here's what I drew and what Google correlated with it on my first try (not joking, click the image for a larger view):

For those who can't see it Google correlated "throat jobs" to line I drew. Pretty funny. Apparently it was big from 2004 to mid 2006 before it starting tailing off fast. 

What interesting things has Google correlated for you?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Testing Applications on the Web

This is my new testing book to devour: Testing Applications on the Web: Test Planning for Mobile and Internet-Based Systems.

It's a big book but I'm hoping there is a ton of useful information. I just finished James Bach's Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar, check out the review here. Before that I was reading James Whittaker's How to Break Software Security, which I also need to write up.

Soon I'll get all the review posted here!

Friday, September 2, 2011

uTest's Business Model

Note: I am an active uTester.

The last few months I've completed a number of rounds of testing for uTest's clients, mostly in dealing with web applications for my iPhone. In fact a majority of work I've done since joining has been for functional testing of mobile applications. It's been fun because mobile testing isn't in my area of expertise but is a nice break from my normal routine and I like learning new things.

uTest's Business Model:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Needle Free Injections

Needle Free Injections are the type of medical technology that the U.S. should be developing. It may sound a little reminiscent of Star Trek and their hypospray but it's real:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Just pledged / preordered Mindfire

I just pre-ordered Scott Berkun's newest book Mindfire using Kickstarter:

I've seen a number of good ideas coming out of Kickstarter lately including the Desktop Jellyfish Tank which I really want!

After I get it I'll be sure to include a book review.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reading Startups Open Sourced

A few months ago I purchased Startups Open Sourced for my Kindle because I like reading about startups and technology.

I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet but when I do I'll write a review. I originally saw this book on The Startup Foundry where Paul Hontz interviews the author Jared Tame about the reason behind the book and what it covers. Jared talks about the revenue generated from the book sales and how he wants to use the profits from the book sale to invest in a new startup.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Web Designers vs. Web Developers

I found this infographic a while back but just recently looked at it again. The stereotypes are funny but amazingly accurate...

Whoever created this should come up with a few more VS infographics - preferably one with a tester in it!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Testing at the Speed and Scale of Google

This is an interesting blog post from Google Engineering about how 50% of their code changes every month and how important their continuous integration system is. It's worth a read to know a little bit more about How Google Tests Software.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

5 Ways to Revolutionize your QA

I can't remember where I originally found this post and the corresponding eBook but the eBook is definitely worth taking a look at. Here is the uTest blog post:

In this eBook, James Whittaker talks about a planning tool he used at Microsoft called a CFC or Component - Feature - Capability diagram.

While this tool was designed for testing desktop software I'm inclined to think it would work well for testing web applications. Essentially with the CFC you are mapping out the individual components / features in the web application in a branching form that closely resembles a mind map. Matter of fact a mind map might be better! =)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Review: Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar by James Bach

I recently finished reading James Bach's book Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar to fit into the software testing realm. I purchased the book mistakenly thinking it was a book on software testing (I didn't really read the synopsis before buying it) but was pleasantly surprised after having read it.

I'd heard Bach was an expert in software testing, checked out his blog and then found this book online:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Topics

In the future I'm hoping to cover a few new topics including life working for a software startup and my trials and tribulations working with selenium and web driver. Here's to the future!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Prototype called Google

The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine is a paper by Sergey Brin and Larry Page on their prototype search engine called Google. This link is to the short version of their paper (written while they were PhD students at Stanford) describing how they can use their prototype search engine to dramatically improve search engine results. 

It's a little long but worth the read. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Google Maps Street Car

Ever seen a Google Maps Street View car driving around your neighborhood? We'll I noticed this weird looking car behind me one day, it was green and yellow and had a lady bug on a long pole sticking off the roof. When it parked at a nearby Jack in the Box I snapped this photo:

At least Google is being obvious about taking those street view photos.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Randy Rice's Free and Cheap Test Tools

Randy Rice is one of the people giving a tutorial for STAR West 2011 on Monday October 3rd. His tutorial is called Free and Cheap Test Tools. Since I'm enrolled in a different tutorial and not going to make it, I was curious to see if some of the tools he would be talking about were already posted online. Sure enough they are.

Unfortunately his site hasn't been updated in years: (February of 2009 was the latest). Some of the software programs and/or websites have been shutdown like

I'd say at least 85% of the list is still worth looking at if you want to broaden your "testing tool horizons".

Friday, July 15, 2011

Unrecoverable build error in Visual Studio 2008

A few months ago I was having problems with Visual Studio 2008 when I was trying to compile:

I was getting "unrecoverable build error" and a .tmp file was giving me 'Access is Denied'. At first I thought it was because Microsoft Office was Breaking Visual Studio as I posted here. Then I did some research and according to Microsoft VS 2008 displays the "unrecoverable build error" when it can't determine the exact reason for failure. This meant it was probably related to the previous error.

When I would browse to C:\Users\name\AppData\Local\Temp and delete all the files, that still didn't help. Another coworker said they turned off our backup software (CrashPlan) and it worked! Somehow CrashPlan was constantly checking the same files that Visual Studio was trying to access and created a ownership conflict.

Now before I doing any compiling in VS 2008 I set my backup software to sleep. Problem fixed!

2012 International CES free registration

For those of you wanting to check out the International Consumer Electronics Show in January of 2012 now is your chance to sign up for free. Just go here to register. If you register before August 31st you can avoid paying money to get in.

I went to CES 2011 (last year) which occurs yearly at the Las Vegas Convention Center and I had a last walking around checking out the latest gear / advancements the world had to offer. CES offers a wide range of technologies from computers, monitors, to tablets, to 3D TVs, cars, connected homes, charging stations and pretty much every else in between.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Future of Web Based and Mobile Dive Planners

Originally posted to on July 1st, 2011:

When I got certified as a scuba diver I thought it was a little weird we recorded our dives in paper logs (circa 2006) so I went searching for web-based dive logs/planners to replace it. I was disappointed in the few I saw. Then I got a smart phone (an iPhone) and assumed it was only a matter of time before I’d be using it to fill out my logs. A few apps were available for dive planning but none were (are) amazing. Then came the release of mainstream tablet computers and still no great options.

At the Long Beach Scuba Show this year (2011) there were no companies or divers using the web or mobile devices for dive planning. Weird. What year is this again?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Designing a Web App

This is a really cool video from Ryan Singer who demonstrates how he and his company (37 signals) design web applications.

Ryan Singer at Future of Web Apps, London 2010 from Ryan Singer on Vimeo.

They follow a few simple steps to make it all happen: model, screens, designs, html/css and live code. In his demonstration, Ryan makes it look incredibly easy to get something up and running. It's worth a watch if you want to learn to how rapidly design and prototype a web application.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Exploratory Software Testing for Cheap [Kindle]

Exploratory Software Testing: Tips, Tricks, Tours, and Techniques to Guide Test Design by James A. Whittaker is now available on the Kindle for cheap - $14.15 as of today. For $14 this book is worth it.

As is typical James Whittaker style this book offers numerous test methods you can apply immediately to your test design. In fact I should leave my feedback / review on Amazon now that I've read it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

STAR West 2011

It's official I've registered for STAR West 2011 (also know as Software Testing Analysis and Review for the west coast) in Anaheim, CA. I'm only going for Monday and Tuesday, the tutorial days, but I'm excited for the ones I've chosen:

A Rapid Introduction to Rapid Software Testing with Michael Bolton. It's a full day course. Hopefully it's interesting so I can stay awake the entire time!

The quality of the courses on available on Tuesday is far below Monday's so I went with two half day classes. In the morning I'm taking Using Visual Models for Test Case Design with Rob Sabourin. In the afternoon I'm taking Testing Web-based Applications: An Open Source Solution with Mukesh Mulchandani. I'm hoping it will broaden my understanding of automation since the full day automation tutorial from Monday isn't available.

James Whittaker from Google will be there Monday morning as he mentions on Google's Testing Blog here. Google has two people presenting on Monday: James Whittaker in the morning talking about How Google Tests Software and Ankit Mehta on Testing Rich Internet AJAX-Based Applications.

If I had more time I'd check those two tutorials out but I don't. Bummer. Hopefully Google's Testing Blog will recap some of the things they covered.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Jimmy Fallon Interviewing Sean Parker

This interview appeared on TechCrunch courtesy of the NExTWORK Conference in New York. I usually find Sean Parker's interviews pretty intriguing because of his background and his inside work with a number of technology companies.

With Jimmy Fallon interviewing Sean Parker, there's a lot of pointless jokes and most of it's not funny. A few are good. The rest is interesting. Sean talks about MySpace's collapse, the monetization of Spotify and a few other random tidbits about his personality.

It's worth a watch:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Google+ Hype

Yesterday Google unveiled their new social networking "extension" that's still in alpha (or as they say "field testing") called Google+. I took the chance to sign up for it here.

As my coworker pointed out to me earlier there has been a lot of hype over this new social network in the media but very little skepticism. Do people hate facebook that much or do they just enjoy someone taking stabs at them? News Corp. just sold Myspace for $30 million as MSNBC reports which spells the end for the closest social competitor. I guess people are applauding the entry of a new competitor?

xkcd sums it up nicely:

Then again maybe media firms don't want to piss off Google? Can you say a drop in PageRank? - Oops I guess I'm screwed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Unstable-ness of Chrome OS

The more I use Google's Chromebook the more I realize how unstable Chrome OS is.

I’m one of the recipients of Google’s CR48 Pilot program which was their Beta program, so the hardware I’m using isn’t the same as what's for sale today. Before I bash the OS I’d like to say the unstable-ness of the Chrome OS could be the result of the low hardware capabilities aka not enough processing power and/or memory.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Review: The Comeback (Kindle) by Gary Shapiro

This is my review of The Comeback (Kindle version) by Gary Shapiro with a foreword by Mark Cuban:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mobile version of My Technology Fetish

I'm happy to announce the release of a new mobile version of My Technology Fetish. The new format is part of a blogger update that offers simplified browsing for mobile browsers. Looks pretty good on the iPhone and there's even an option to switch back to the full version of the site.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Apple Updates and Star Wars Kinect

Today at the WWDC, Apple unveiled iOS 5 with two hundred or so improvements to it's mobile operating system: an improved Camera, better notifications and my favorite: the ability to go PC-Free. I haven't sync'd my iPhone 4 to a computer in 6+months; the only reason to do so is to sync music and backup the device. Now all that has changed.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Windows 8 Demo at D9

I've seen a few videos now crop up on Windows 8. There is no beta or release candidate available so if you want to learn more about Windows 8 you've got to rely on the few videos floating around. This video is from the D9 conference in Ranchos Palos Verde.

You can see from the video it looks like Windows 8 is really Windows Phone 7 + Windows 7. You get the tile overlay of Windows Phone 7 in place of the Windows 7's sidebar and start screen and you can also switch to the Windows 7 interface for regular use. The touch gestures look pretty nice and resemble the PlayBook.

It seems weird Microsoft would combine all these features instead of separating the desktop and tablet OS's but I guess this will make sure Windows stays relevant in an increasingly touch / mobile world.

Marc Andreessen Highlights from D9

This is a very good video from the D9 conference, being held in Rancho Palos Verdes, with Marc Andreessen talking about a range of things including the new browser wars, funding startup companies and where he sees the future of the web.

Walt Mossberg also hammers Marc Andreessen who runs the VC firm Andreesseen Horowitz with his partner Ben Horowitz over whether the market for technology companies is in a bubble and/or on it's way towards a bust. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: Myths of Innovation (Kindle) by Scott Berkun

This is my review of the Myths of Innovation (Kindle version) by Scott Berkun.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Top Software Testing Books

Is there such a thing as "the" top 10 or 20 Software Testing Books? The type of books that if you were to major in Computer Science or Computer Information Systems with a minor or emphasis in software testing (or software quality assurance) you would be required or recommended to read? These could be anything from practical how-to's to the understanding of software testing's evolution into a modern day field.

A quick search of Amazon Books > Computers & Internet > Software for the term "testing" turns up some 450 results. If you organize those results by bestselling Lessons Learned in Software Testing and Testing Computer Software both by Cem Kaner, et. al. appear on the first page towards the bottom. But why are they the best selling? If you search by relevance you get many more books and those two I mentioned previously come up towards the top. Again why? Perhaps Amazon needs to add a separate category for software testing?

The reason for asking is simple: If you want to get better at something you try and learn as much about the topic as you can. Maybe I should do like other people online and just publish my own?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Action Alerts PLUS subscription

I just signed up for Jim Cramer's Action Alert's Plus service which is his personal charitable portfolio (organized as a trust) that he and his team make investments through and (supposedly) donate the profits. The service comes with a 30 day trial and after that costs roughly $400/year however I was able to find a special offer for only $200/year.

Over the next 30 days to year, depending on how I like it, I will try to review the service so that others may gain a better understanding of how it works.

As of today it looks like Action Alert's Plus portfolio has 33 positions (stocks), it's 2011 YTD performance is at 4.18%, a lifetime return of 34.99% and a value of $3,117,825.00.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Failed Bloggers Guide to Blogging

I came across this interesting guide / post on blogging. The author makes the point that bloggers have become so obsessed with statistics, improving our rankings and publishing often that we forget that blogging can be a personal thing, a reflection.

He then lays out his "guide" for blogging: Ignore the stats, publish whenever you want, make it personal, keep the default template, etc.

Check out the post:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cheap Apple iPad's

I was looking around for gifts for Mother's Day when I decided to check out Apple's refurbished products section. It seems a little un-Apple-like to offer older products at a discount for a very long time so they must have over produced the original by a large number. You can still buy refurbished iPad's now 3 months after the launch of version 2. And you can do it for $349 + tax for a 16GB WIFI version with a 1 year warranty from Apple.

So if you want to get into a tablet like the iPad and do it for cheaply a refurbished version is the best way to go. Sure they aren't the latest version but they still work very well. The first version is a little slower, doesn't come with cameras, isn't quite as thin and doesn't have quite the same battery life. It's also $150 cheaper. Any other variation including larger storage and 3G are also discounted quite a bit.

Do yourself a favor and get a Cheap Apple iPad

Introducing the Google ChromeBooks

Today at their I/O conference Google announced two new ChromeOS powered devices called ChromeBooks, one built by Samsung and the other by Acer. Like the CR-48 pilot program Google launched six months ago (which I'm using to write this post) these new ChromeBooks will feature the full size Chrome Keyboard, fast boots and of course the ChromeOS.

The Samsung and Acer ChromeBooks will be available June 15th from Amazon and Best Buy and they will feature many hardware improvements over the pilot program devices including dual-core Atom processors, a better track pad and longer battery life - for all day computing. The dual-core processors should allow for better streaming of movies, something that is incredibly painful today on the pilot devices.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Changing the default search in the location bar for Firefox 4

By default Firefox 4 uses a Google search to help you find any mistyped URL locations or addresses placed into the location bar. Somehow I ended up with Yahoo as the search in my location bar and Firefox doesn't give you an easy option to change it back.

I assume some program that I installed hijacked my location bar search based on this Mozilla support article: Fear not, it's easy to change.

To fix the problem you need to edit the Keyword.URL field in the about:config section of Firefox and this article here has the steps on how to do that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hulu Plus, Office 365 beta and Google Music Beta

I signed up for Hulu Plus last week when they announced Hulu was available on the Xbox 360. No credit card was required so I signed up. On my computer I use Hulu's desktop application all the time and although I don't currently have my Xbox 360 hooked up I thought it might be worth exploring the new content. Turns out if you have a Netflix subscription Hulu Plus doesn't really offer much in terms of content: X-Files, Serenity, etc. are all available for Netflix streaming. Most other stuff is already free on Hulu. It really seems the only benefit is mobile support but I don't know if that is worth almost $100 / year.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sugar: The Bitter Truth or Why Sugar is Poison

In 2009 Dr. Lustig, a Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF, taped and published a video title Sugar: The Bitter Truth to YouTube. I recently saw it and it's made me think. The point Dr. Lustig tries to get across is that Sugar, specifically Sucrose and Fructose (including High Fructose Corn Syrup), is poisonous.

The video is worth watching, perhaps several times considering the dense amount of information and the depth at which Dr. Lustig goes to prove his point. The downside is the video is about an hour and a half long.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

GTAC 2011 and STARWEST 2011

The two big Software Testing events of the year, GTAC or the Google Test Automation Conference, and STARWEST are both being held in October of this year. Big month for software testers!

According to the Google Testing Blog GTAC 2011 will be held in Mountain View, CA during the week of October 25th. STARWEST 2011 will be held in Anaheim, CA during the week of October 2nd.

The real question is how do I get my company to pay for both? Hopefully GTAC is reasonable inexpensive.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Summary: How Google Tests Software

As a software tester I try to learn as much as I can about how other companies test software. It just so happens that through Google's testing blog James Whittaker has taken steps to outline just how Google does it.

If you're interested in learning more I'd recommend reading through the five part series by going to the Google Testing Blog directly but feel free to check out my summary and the things I found interesting:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stop Database Transaction Log files from growing too large

This method applies to any database that uses SQL Server Management Studio (including SQL Server and Windows Internal databases).

Transaction log files are by default allowed to grow automatically and if left unchecked these files can grow to be tens of gigabytes in size. If you don't have a lot of allocated space it can be quite nerve racking to learn a single transaction log has eaten up all your available space.

To stop database log files from growing too large and later having to truncate them you can set a Maximum File Size or even turn of Autogrowth per database. To set these attributes:

  1. Open SQL Server Management Studio and connect to your database server
  2. Right click on the database you want to adjust and click Properties
  3. Click the Files page and in the table there should be a column called Autogrowth. 
  4. Select the row for the file you want to stop growing (like the log file) and click the ellipsis (the ...) 
  5. The Change Autogrowth window will appear
  6. From here you can Turn off Autogrowth, adjust how quickly file growth is allowed or set a restricted file growth in MB (which is what I recommend)
This post is a follow up to my prior post on How to Compact or Shrink a Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Databas. It also applies to shrinking transaction log files in SQL Server or Windows Internal Database. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

How to Compact or Shrink a Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Database

After a lot of searching on this particular topic there are a couple of things to note first:
  • Windows SharePoint Services (WSS)) 3.0 uses the Windows Internal Database. It installs on a Windows machine as SQL Server (folder name) but doesn't appear in Add/ Remove programs. 
  • The Windows Internal Database can be accessed using Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio Express 2005. Download it here.
  • It's usually not the database that grows too large (WSS_Content.mdf or any .mdf) it's usually one of the log files (like SharePoint_AdminContent_xxxxxx_log.ldf). Mine grew to 7GB.
  • In order to fix this problem we want to shrink or truncate the SQL Server Transaction Log and we can do it without using any separate queries or commands like DBCC SHRINKFILE.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Men's Health Meat Matrix

This has really nothing to do with technology but I was surprised when I couldn't find this helpful chart on The Meat Matrix is a comparison of various types meats based on the following metrics: 0 to 4 points for protein-to-fat ratio, 0 to 3 points for the density of 10 essential nutrients, 0 to 2 points for percentage of saturated fats, 0 to 1 point for total cholesterol.

Personally I like the idea of having a cheat sheet for eating healthier despite not knowing the exact details for the grades.

The scorecard is broken down like this:
6+ points Eat regularly
4.0 to 5.9 points Eat occasionally
0 to 3.9 points Eat rarely

Thursday, April 21, 2011

uTest + Mozilla = New Test Case Management System

Looks like uTest will be partnering up with Mozilla to build a new test case management system. uTest will host a version for their use which will support distribution of test cases, something most Test Case Management Systems lack. Mozilla will release the software as open source, which means testers should be able to get it installed and running - assuming it's not a pain to install. It is unclear from the article if anyone will be providing a SaaS option for those small to mid-sized companies that don't want to deal with it themselves.

My hope is that someone, Mozilla or otherwise (me?), sets up a test case exchange of some sort so it's easier to build and exchange test cases or smaller test case pieces. The problem with most existing test case management systems is once you spend all this time building out your test cases, you execute them once or twice and that's it. Most of the effort is then lost because re-usability is limited.

An open source system does present a lot of possibilities including new and exciting tool development. Hopefully it also doesn't mean no support for Windows. =)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Nagios Nagwin StartService FAILED 1069

I was trying to start Nagwin_Nagios and I was getting the error "[SC] StartService FAILED 1069: The service did not start due to a logon failure."

I had recently removed Nagwin (the Windows distribution of Nagios) and when you uninstall Nagwin it doesn't remove the users nagiosadmin and svcNagwin from the computer. To fix the problem just delete these two users from Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer > Management > Local Users > Users and you'll be good. I'd also recommend deleting the rest of the directory, not all of it is removed during uninstallation.

Friday, April 15, 2011 Chatter

A month ago I was sent a invitation to sign up for Salesforce's new real time "collaboration" platform at called Chatter. Not knowing what it was and always willing to try out something new I signed up. Turns out most people have probably seen a Chatter commercial, one featuring played during the Super Bowl XLV, however most of the ads I've seen are irrelevant so you probably had no clue what it was about (I know I did). Plus the best super bowl ad was clearly the little kid dressed as Darth Vader starting the Volkswagen. It was just priceless!

So what exactly is Chatter? It's a Facebook rip off that you use for work instead of for personal use (aka no pictures of you at parties, hitting on "friends", posting NSFW stuff). The main "Chatter" page looks just like the Facebook wall with threads, in thread comments, a like and a delete button. You can update your status, view your "People" (aka friends), share links, etc. Take a look at a picture of my "Chatter" page: 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Revenue and New Site Design

I subscribe to a blog called The Startup Foundry which talks about everything startup-wise. In one of their posts they mention the site 99designs and how they are an easy way for startups to get nice website / blog designs on the cheap.

After looking around on their site I think I could get a custom Blogger template (they list Wordpress templates for about $495 and I figure Blogger would be similar). Through 99designs I’d get several dozen offers or mockups and from those multiple offers I could choose the best. Plus I could probably get a pretty cool My Technology Fetish logo designed – something I’ve always wanted as well.

Now I just need to generate some more revenue from this site – Google Ads to pay for it. Last year I got my first AdSense check from Google for $102.27 so hopefully this year I make enough to reinvest in the site design.

What do people think? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

VMware ESXi Conversion Steps

If you have existing VMs (virtual machines) on your computer, made through VMware’s Workstation or downloaded appliances, you can import / convert them so they work with VMware’s ESXi server. If you are unsure of the difference between ESXi and VMware Server go to our previous post.

To get virtual machines onto an ESXi server you need to import them via VMware Workstation and export them to the exact server. To do that:

Monday, April 4, 2011

VMware Server vs. ESXi Server

These days I run both VMware Server and VMware’s ESXi server but when I was first looking into using virtual machines I didn’t quite understand the differences between them. Here are some of the good and bad with both VMware Server and VMware’s ESXi server as I see them:

Friday, April 1, 2011

ACPI\ MAT0021 Driver

I was installing Windows 7 on a Panasonic CF-F8 laptop computer when I had a missing driver with a hardware id of "ACPI\MAT0021". Turns out it's the Panasonic Misc Driver.
  1. To install go to: 
  2. Scroll down to Operating Systems and Others
  3. Download the Pansonic Misc Driver (at this time it is ver. 1.2.1100.0)
  4. Once it's downloaded, run the file and the drivers will be placed in C:\util2\drivers\newmisc
  5. Go to Hardware Manager, choose to manually update the drivers and give it the path listed in the previous step
  6. Driver installs correctly!
This should work with Vista as well. If this helped you out please let me know!

Friday, March 25, 2011

PunkBuster Handshake failures

I started getting "PunkBuster kicked player ... Restriction: Service Communication Failure: PnkBstrB.exe handshaking failed" errors after a minute or two of Battlefield 1942 online game play which resulted in me getting kicked from the server. (I was kicked before that with an error message about loosing key packets.) This started occurring about a week ago and after some research it looks to be caused by Microsoft Security Essentials.

If you are getting this error and are running Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) you just need to exclude the entire battlefield directory from MSE to get PunkBuster running again. To do that:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Limit or Delete Windows Shadow Copy Service - Free up HD space

I got a notification that one my Windows Servers was running low on hard drive (HD) space which was concerning since it had a HD of about 70GB. After a quick search of the drive with WinDirStat I couldn't figure out why despite having about 21GB of used space the drive was registering less than 4GB free. Where was that extra 45GB of space and how was it missing?

Enter Volume Shadow Copy Service. I opened a command prompt and typed: vssadmin list shadowstorage and my Allocated Shadow Copy Storage space was about 45GB.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Intel 120GB X25-M SATA Solid State Drive Benchmarks

A few weeks ago I beefed up my desktop computer by adding an Intel 120GB X25-M Solid State Drive (SSD) model number: SSDSA2MH120G2K5. I found the Intel drive on Amazon for about $200 and since the reviews were amazing I purchased it. Previously my desktop had a platter based Western Digital 1TB hard drive which I've now made my backup drive.

As I've done previously with my MacBook Air's SSD and a coworker's MacBook Pro SSD I've done some benchmarking on the 120GB X25-M SSD drive. To give you some background on the drive here's what SSD Life had to say about my new drive:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What I Use: Chris Kenst's Gear @ Home

I really liked the Lifehacker series What We Use where Lifehacker's editors write about the hardware and software they use on a regular basis, so I thought I'd do it myself. Only I’ve split it up into two sections. What I Use: My Gear @ Home and What I Use: My Gear @ Work. They really are two separate and interesting places. At work I’m a software tester. At home, I’m a technology enthusiast, blogger, scuba diver and still a software tester!

Desktops & Laptops:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

HL-DT-ST DVD+-RW GH50N DVD Drive not working on Windows 7 Code 19

Sometime very recently my Dell T3500 desktop lost the ability to access it's CD/ DVD Burner drive. I don't know exactly how it occurred but I noticed it today and managed to find a workaround to fix it. (The only things I've installed today were a Windows Update for Security Essentials and two Apple Updates for Safari and iTunes / Quicktime.)

My T3500 has a DVD Burner with the model number: HL-DT-ST DVD+-RW GH50N. I located this information in Device Manager. When I tried letting Windows 7 update the driver it gave me a Code 19 error message which means the driver information in the registry is missing or damaged. To fix this problem you need to delete the registry key and uninstall the driver.

Here's what I did to fix it:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

TEDTalks: Salman Khan on reinventing Education

This is an awesome video by Salman Khan of the Khan Academy on reinventing education using the same techniques he's pioneered online. In essence flipping he traditional school model on its head by having kids learn at their own pace in the classroom, with the students helping each other and the teachers tracking progress and showing them how to apply the fundamentals. Kids use the videos to master basic subjects and teachers see instant tracking via dashboards on each students progress.

Check out the video:

Friday, March 4, 2011

A disappointing 2011 MacBook Pro refresh

This past week Apple released their new MacBook Pro (MBP) lineup after a little less than a year since the previous refresh. The new MacBook Pro's include an Intel Core i7 processor, a new more powerful graphics processor and a "thunderbolt" port.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

TedTalks: Bill Gates on Energy

I just watched this TedTalks video via Hulu on "Bill Gates on Energy: Innovating to Zero!" It's a pretty interesting lecture and shows another area where Bill Gates is putting his money. Check it out:

I've read a few articles in the Wall Street Journal about modular nuclear energy and there seems to be quite a bit of potential. Innovation in the nuclear arena has been missing for decades but this is simple: build smaller nuclear reactors (they produce about 1/10th the power of regular reactors) and install them in existing nuclear sites or coal sites when they extinguish their life (or become obsolete due to emission control). The benefit of smaller reactors is less danger of explosions (no big reactors wiping out cities), lower manufacturing costs, faster construction times and less emissions.

Here are some of the articles I've read:
Small Reactors Generate Big Hopes
America's New Nuclear Option

Just food for thought.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Chrome Notebook vs. iPad 2

I was thinking about this earlier, which would I rather have: a Chrome Notebook, which I'm currently evaluating or the upcoming iPad (let's call it version 2)?

Let's forget that I received the Chrome Notebook for free and that it contains 2 years of free but limited wireless data access through Verizon Wireless. Let's also forget the iPad v.2 isn't available yet and the specifications are pure speculation. Having said that which would I rather have?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How to reset your iPhone 4 using DFU Mode

A while back my iPhone 4 got a bad software update and began continually restarting. I took it into the Apple Store and they showed me how to reset the iPhone by putting in DFU mode. Once you place the phone in DFU mode you can restore to previous firmware versions, wipe the iPhone and/or fix most other problems you have. Here is a quick and informative video on how to switch modes:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Windows Time Sync error: 0x800705B4

When trying to display the time difference between a local computer and another time source using the Windows Time Sync command: w32tm /stripchart /computer:targetcomputer /samples:number /dataonly you may see the response as "timestamp, error: 0x800705B4". This just means the local machine's time source isn't available.

To fix this error you need to set the client machine to use an external time source like another server. In order to do that the other server must be setup as a Authoritative Time Server. Then configure a manual time source using w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:targetcomputer /syncfromflags:manual /update.

When running the manual time source command on a Windows 2008 R2 SP1 machine I got a different error "The service has not been started. 0x80070426". To fix this problem go to services.msc, find Windows Time and start it. When you rerun the command all will be well.

I'm not sure why Windows Time Syncing has to be such an issue without a domain controller setup but it is!

Find the fastest Broadband Providers

This was in Lifehacker but really is a great reference tool if you are getting ready to move or just want to compare services in your area. Just go to the National Broadband Map and enter your address or zip code to see the providers in your area. It breaks the providers down by Wired and Wireless access.

When I landed on the website using chrome (via my Chrome Notebook) the site asked if it could track my located and with the click of a button found my nearest providers. It's amazing how Slow Verizon and AT&T are compared to Time Warner - at least for my area.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Windows 7 SP1 causes Outlook 2010 problems

Beware: If you are thinking about upgrading to Windows 7 SP1 and your company uses Outlook 2010 to connect to Apptix Hosted Exchange, don't. As of this date it does not work.

I've been "testing" Windows 7 SP1 since it was released last week via MSDN and ever since then Outlook 2010 has been unable to make a connection to Apptix's Exchange Server. I've sent an email to Apptix so hopefully they will find a fix. It wasn't until I removed Windows 7 SP1 that Outlook was able to reconnect and grab the last 6 days of email.

To remove Windows 7 SP1 go to Programs and Features > Click View installed updates on the left hand side > scroll down to the Microsoft Windows section and remove the update called "Service Pack". (I forget the KB#).

Friday, February 18, 2011

SSD Life on Macbook Air 128GB SSD Part 2

I recently posted about running SSD Life 1.2.17 on my Macbook Air (the first model) and how it was unable to calculate the health of my SSD:

No that it matters but I didn't realize I downloaded the Pro version instead of the free version. The website doesn't do a very good job of pointing out the differences, after all if you click the download tab / link at the top of the site you automatically get the Pro version.

Anyways I sent in my data log and today SSD Life responded to my problem by sending me a beta version of SSD Life Free (version 1.3.19) and asked me to run it.

Here's the result:

My Macbook Air which has a 128GB SSD (firmware: VAM0BA1Q) was recognized and now I can see the health of my SSD drive is at 97% - considered Excellent by the product. Only time will tell whether this beta version will be able to calculate how long my drive will last.

Monday, February 14, 2011

SSD Life on Macbook Air 128GB SSD

Update 2/18/2011:
SSD Life responded to my email and I've posted an update here.

Original Post:

SSD life is a Windows based tool that helps users monitor the health of their Solid State drives. Most Solid State drives have a certain number of writes they can perform before the drive itself is finished. This is pretty typical for flash drives and depending on the drive and manufacturer is around 10,000 writes. Therefore statistics about the drive's health is more important for solid state drive owners.

Knowing this I decided to run the lastest version (1.2.17) on my Macbook Air which has a 128GB SSD (VAM0BA1Q). Note: this is the first generation Macbook Air. Here's what I found:

Looks like the drive used by Apple doesn't supply health information, at least not the type that SSD life can read. Damn! Looks like I'm back to guessing or wait until they can provide an update to the program that can read whatever usage information the drive is sending.

As you can see from the warning I'm being asked to submit the log file to SSD life. I did and who knows maybe down the road they will support this drive.

In the meantime all I can see is that I've got about 1900 hours on the drive and my machine has been powered on about 2100 times. Not exactly the information I was looking for. I also knew that TRIM was unsupported.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Google Chrome Pilot Users Google Group

About 30 minutes ago I was berated (as were a number of people) with about 50 + emails from a new Google Group created for Chrome Notebook Pilot users. Apparently someone got the idea that it would be great if Pilot users could share their experiences with each other. While there is some truth to this and I do look forward to seeing how others are using the Chrome Notebook, the fact that everyone was opted in to receive emails every time a user posted something was not a great way to start.

Thanks to the person who spammed everyone.

Updated 2/14/2011:

About a day after this happened Google sent an apology email out. They also created a new Chrome Notebook Pilot Google Group that is opt in. Good idea.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What I Use: Chris Kenst's Gear @ Work

I really liked the Lifehacker series What We Use where Lifehacker's editors write about the hardware and software they use on a regular basis, so I thought I'd do it myself. Only I’ve split it up into two sections. What I Use: My Gear @ Home and What I Use: My Gear @ Work. They really are two separate and interesting places. At work I’m a software tester. At home, I’m a technology enthusiast, blogger, scuba diver and well still a software tester!



At work I've got one regular desktop computer and a number of servers and virtual machines to do my testing.
  • dell_precision_t3500Dell Precision T3500: with 2.4GHz Xeon, 4GB of RAM, 256MB Graphics, Dual 20" Widescreen monitors and 500GB HD. It’s due for a few upgrades including an SSD. I’m running Windows 7 Professional x64.
  • msnaturallaser6000graspMicrosoft Natural Wireless Mouse 6000: I use a conventional keyboard at work but when it comes to my mouse I love having the flexibility of wireless. The design of the Natural Wireless mouse keeps my hand and wrist from hurting after long days. I love it!
  • Linksys 5 Port Switch: I never know when I’m going to need to figure out a problem with a wired device. Most of the time it sits at my desk doing another but every once in a while it becomes a useful tool. 

I test our company’s software in many different environments, emulating a number of possible network designs. Having a lot of hardware that can quickly be configured for various purposes is a must have!
  • My Quality Assurance Lab contains:
    • A varying Dell rack mount servers running Windows 2003/2008, SQL Server 2005/2008 with varying configurations.
    • 2 KEMP Load Balancers
    • 2 Dell PowerConnect switches
    • 2 APC UPS units: You never know when the power will go out.
  • 2 VMware ESXi servers: For quickly cloning and building test machines or consolidating Production servers.
  • 1 VMware Server server: For older, less power intensive virtual machines. Mainly for browser compatibility testing.

Main Browser: Don't have one. I use IE 8, FF 3.6 and Chrome almost evenly. I also have Safari installed and have a bevy of virtual machines capable of running IE6, IE7, FF2.0, FF3.0, FF3.5 on a variety of platforms. I'm a software tester so all the bugs are in IE, Firefox has lot of good extensions and Chrome is super fast and has application shortcuts.

Extensions: For Firefox: Selenium IDE, Web Developer, Hack bar, Firebug, Greasemonkey and User Agent Switcher. For IE: ieHTTPheaders and IE8 Developer Tools.

Windows Apps:
  • VMware Workstation: Pretty much a requirement for creating and managing VMware based virtual machines and servers. You can’t run a ESXi or VMware Server without it.
  • RoboHelp: The standard for creating and maintaining our help system. Used in coordination with our Technical Writers.
  • Utilities: Notepad ++, Paint.NET, KeePass, Snag It, Zune Music Software, OneNote, CrashPlan, Outlook, Dropbox, WinMerge and WireShark to name a few.
  • Other VM stuff: VMware vSphere, Windows Virtual PC, Oracle VirtualBox.
Mac OS X:
  • Safari on Leopard and Snow Leopard for compatibility reasons.
Mobile Apps

  • We don’t do any mobile application testing right now.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

BMC Remedy 7.5 Server System Requirements

BMC Remedy recommends you separate the Action Request System (or AR System) version 7.50 servers and BMC Remedy Mid Tier servers. If you insist on using a combined server they have another set of server requirements.

The system requirements can be a little confusing because they drastically increase as soon as you add one complex application (like BMC Remedy ITSM app) on Windows. Note: This list excludes database requirements.

For AR System 7.50 server and the separate Mid Tier server:

  • 512 MB of available RAM
  • 800 MB of available hard disk space
  • 2.8 GHz processor
  • 1 GB of available RAM
  • 2 GB of available hard disk space
  • 2.8 GHz processor
For a combined AR System and Mid Tier server:

  • 1 GB of available RAM
  • 1.5 GB of available hard disk space
  • 2.8 GHz processor
  • 2 GB of available RAM
  • 4 GB of available hard disk space
  • 2.8 GHz processor
For an AR System 7.5 server with one complex application:

  • 2 GB of available RAM
  • 4 GB of available hard disk space*
  • Dual 3 GHz processor
  • 4 GB of available RAM
  • 8 GB of available hard disk space*
  • Dual 3 GHz processor
* = Each complex application you add requires as additional 2GB of storage.

These are the system / hardware / installation requirements for BMC Remedy AR System 7.5 running on a Windows server and might differ from older versions.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Apartment Organization Tips

As someone who lives in an apartment I enjoy getting smart organization tips. Here are a few courtesy of Lifehacker:

    Friday, January 28, 2011

    Resetting ethernet connection on Brother Printers

    At work we have an older Brother HL 5170DN that stopped communicating with the network, showed up as Offline and stopped being detected by the BR Admin software. It seemed like the Ethernet (wired) network connection just gave up. I found directions online to reboot the printer (holding the Go button and then releasing when all the LCD flash - or something like that) and I still couldn't get it to work.

    Then we purchased a brand new Brother HL 2270DW. I proceeded to unpack it, reset the toner cartridge, plug it into the network and then power it on. When the 2270DW came online again the network connection (Ethernet) wouldn't work - no activity lights. I found the directions for this Brother Printer and to reset it you:

    1. Turn the Machine Off
    2. Hold down Go as you power the Machine On
    3. Keep Go pressed down until all the LEDs light up and the Ready light turns off
    4. Release Go and all the LEDs should turn off
    5. Press Go 6 times!
    6. The 2270DW is now reset!
    Once I reset the 2270DW the network card showed activity and it appeared in the BR Admin software. I took a chance and used the same method on the older Brother HL5170 and it reset that machine as well. Awesome.

    O'Reilly Blogger Review Program Approved

    My application was approved to become an O'Reilly Blogger Book Reviewer. Check out the cool badge:

    I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

    I've requested to review The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun via eBook (think Kindle) so sooner or later I will be posting a review. There are also several other books I want / need to post reviews on including James Whittaker's How to Break Software series - related to Testing.

    When I signed up on O' (I guess I'm considered a member) I now get huge discounts on their books. You should sign up as well. I found one eBook that I really want to read called An Introduction to Testing Web Applications with twill and Selenium by C. Titus Brown, Gheorghe Gheorghiu and Jason Huggins. I've used Selenium but never heard of twill so I'm excited to check them out.

    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

    Finally a payoff to becoming a blogger. sort of.

    O'Reilly Media will send bloggers eBooks, videos, etc. in exchange for reviews. I follow Scott Berkun who wrote Myths of Innovation and he mentioned it's one of the books available to read and review. Here's hoping I get the chance!

    If you'd like to join the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program sign up here.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    PMBOK Guide 4th Edition Free Download

    I'd been browsing the web looking for digital books to replace the physical ones I own when I came across the Project Management Institute's (or PMI for short) Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (or PMBOK) 4th edition as a PDF.

    If you are already a PMI member you can download a free version of the PMBOK Guide 4th by logging into PMI's website, go to the members area, select the resources tab and click on the global library.

    If you're not a PMI member you can probably find the PMBOK guide on Rapidshare or the Just search for PMBOK.

    This is an excellent project management book to have as a reference. So if you like it, purchase it.

    If you like this post please leave a comment! Also check out these other posts while you're here:

    Handbrake 0.9.5 just released

    Handbrake, everyone's favorite open-source video transcoder that can be used to rip / convert just about any movie type now has a new version out. Handbrake 0.9.5 was just released for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. This is the first new version in at least a year and a half.

    Release Highlights (selectively copied from their forum):

    • BluRay disc structure support. (No decryption support) 
    • Updated Libraries (x264, ffmpeg) 
    • MP3 audio now supported in MP4 files (Note: Limited Player compatibility) 
    • VOBSUB subtitle now supported in MP4 files (Note: Limited Player compatibility) 
    • Updated Presets for newer devices and better quality 
    • AC3 encoding support. 
    • Many Bug Fixes and other small improvements
    • Improved DVD Main Feature detection (when using dvdnav) 
    • Universal audio downmix support (all audio types can be downmixed) 
    • Point*to*Point encoding (second or frame start and end times)
    • Peak framerate option (Capped VFR) 
    • Updated x264 Advanced Panel
    • Video Quality Slider drops % value and only shows RF for x264
    • Batch Scan (Scan Multiple files at once. N.B: Does not include multiple VIDEO_TS folders / Image files) 
    • Many Tweaks to improve usability.
    • Ability to edit queue jobs

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    The Case of the rebooting Kindle

    A few days ago my new Kindle 3G (version 3) started rebooting all on it's own. Out of the blue it would restart on its own, be fine for several hours and then it would do the same thing again. It was completely random. I decided to contact Amazon support.

    The nice customer support agent had me remove the Kindle from it's Leather Case and then showed me how to give it a hard reboot. (To reboot / reset the Kindle, slide the power switch to the right and hold it there for 20 seconds. The screen should go blank within a few moments, flicker or flash a few times, and then you'll see the main loading screen.)
    As it turns out this leather case for the Kindle is defective and causes the devices to randomly reboot. The nice customer service rep couldn't explain why the case was defective nor why it was causing reboots but he did say that Amazon was taking care of customers.

    For my troubles Amazon credited back the cost of the original case and then gave me a $25 promotional credit that I could apply towards the use of the Kindle Lighted Leather Cover which apparently doesn't have the problem. Essentially Amazon is giving customers of the original Leather Cover a free upgrade to the Lighted Cover.

    It sucks the Leather Cover has this problem to begin with but it's good to see Amazon doing the right thing.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Kindle Hacking - Backing up eBooks

    I just bought my first "real ebook" (aka not free) from Amazon and it so I wanted to back it up. I previously posted about having watched this video on removing the Kindle Book DRM using a few Python scripts on Windows when I came across the full blog post on Too Smart Guys.

    In reality you don't need to watch the video from Too Smart Guys to backup your eBooks. First you need to remove the DRM from the .AZW book you downloaded then, if you want, convert it to a more open format. You can do this using the work around by Unskindle and Calibre which I will spell out for you below:

    1. Purchase a Kindle book from Amazon. I decided to buy The Comback by Gary Shapiro - it ties in well since I just went to CES a few weeks ago! DRM is bad, paying the author for their work is not.
    2. Go to the Unskindle Guide and download their software here
    3. Extract the software to C:\skindle
    4. Open your Kindle for PC software and make sure the book gets downloaded to your computer. 
    5. Browse to your My Kindle Content folder (probably Documents\My Kindle Content) and locate the book in the .azw format. If you have multiple books in the .azw format you can just double click on each until you find the correct one. Mine was called B004GNFONK_EBOK.azw.
    6. Copy your .azw format book and paste it in the C:\skindle folder
    7. Open the book you just copied over, make sure the Kindle PC software reads it.
    8. Open a command prompt and browse to C:\skindle
    9. Now type in the following command
    10. skindle -v -i name_of_the_book.azw -o new_name.azw
    11. To make sure you put the correct name_of_the_book.azw, just copy it from the actual file.
    12. In a few seconds your new_name.azw output file will be DRM free
    You can stop here and you are all done. You've now removed the DRM off your Amazon eBook and can use it on another Kindle or device that reads .azw formats. If you want to make it truly compatible continue on and convert it into a .MOBI format. 

    1. Download and install calibre
    2. Drag and drop your newly created (DRM free) .azw file into the library
    3. Click the convert button at the top
    4. When it's done, right click on the file in the library and say Open Location and there you will have a DRM free .mobi eBook.
    I believe you should have some way to use your eBook purchases on any device that you choose, no matter what the DRM is. This is the same problem music publishers have - if you have an iPod you're stuck with iTunes and if you have a Zune with the Zune Marketplace.

    You should also have a way to back up your eBooks, regardless if they are stored within Amazon. We've seen Amazon pull books from people's Kindles when they've gotten into a fight with the publisher. Amazon will also remove old periodicals (you can keep up to 7, unless you specify to keep them individually) to make sure you have space on your device.

    This post was rewritten on 1/22/2011 because I thought the previous posting missed the point. Enjoy!

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Worth Monkey; a Gadget Price Estimator

    Worth Monkey

    I used this website a while back to value my Macbook Air and Dell Studio XPS 8000 but then couldn't remember what it was called. Basically you enter the name, part number, or description of an item you want to sell (gadgets) and it searches it's index and provides you with several price points for the item in the form of a bell curve.

    At the very least it's a good reference.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Tesla Model S

    Tesla was all over the Consumer Electronics Show this last weekend. The Tesla Roadster was positioned outside the Las Vegas Convention Center and at least 2 or 3 others were placed at specific booths inside the show. I captured one in front of the Panasonic booth.

    Outside of the convention center Tesla was showing off the new Model S sedan. I would have loved to get a video or a few photos unfortunately I had killed my iPhone's battery by that point. As we approached the area where the car was it took me a few minutes before I recognized it. As you can see below (this was the actual car on display) it looks closer to a Jaguar than to the Tesla (or the Roadsters body twin the Lotus Elise). I was able to briefly talk to the Tesla rep and then picked up the following booklet:

    According to this booklet, Tesla will have 3 models with different ranges: 160 miles, 230 miles and 300 miles and the starting price will be around $50,000 (before any federal tax breaks). I'm assuming that means $50,000 for the 160 mile range version, not the 300 mile range. The rep mentioned the vehicle is aimed at the BMW 5 series and Porsche Cayman which puts it in a completely different category than the Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf.

    It's a great looking car but I think I'll wait for the prices to come down in a few years besides it won't be out until Q1 or Q2 of 2012. Over the years the Roadster has come down in price thanks to manufacturing advancements and economies of scale so its only a matter of time before the Model S does as well.