Friday, May 28, 2010

In Memorial

In honor of the reason for the upcomming weekend I'm posting this wonderful video by Richard Sullivan.  His father caught these images on VJ Day in Honolulu.   The full posting on Vimeo can be reached by clicking here.

My personal thanks go out to everyone serving our country and to the families that support, wait and sacrifice.


<p>VJ Day, Honolulu Hawaii, August 14, 1945 from Richard Sullivan on Vimeo.</p>

Posted via web from ninjahippie's (pre) posterous

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

GTOW (Geek tip of the week)

This week - an easy one...  Make sure you don't get stuck without your stick.

That sinking moment.  You've just finished your presentation and on the ride to the airport you realize you left your thumb drive with your entire collection of Firefly (that you were going to watch on the plane) is still in your client's pc.  Or maybe you just finished cleaning the viruses and other crap off of your in-laws pc for the fifth time since xmas and your thumb drive, the one with your carefully constructed toolkit, is probably being gnawed on by their rottweiler of a two year old...

Well no more.  Simple geek tip.  Place an autorun.inf file in the root of your thumbdrive.  The file contents should look something like this:


label=Your Name (your@email.adr)

That's it.  Now whenever your stick is stuck into a PC it will be mounted with your name and email address.  As far as I know this only works on Windows but as most of the world inexplicably uses this OS - well it's a good bet your bases are covered.

On windows it will show up in explorer as: Your Name (your@email.adr) E: Or whatever drive it gets mounted as. 

Now assuming your client or in-law isn't thick as a brick you should be getting your collection of Mexican donkey porn back in two shakes...

Posted via email from ninjahippie's (pre) posterous

Doin' the Elevator Slam

Monday, May 17, 2010

GTOW (Geek tip of the week)

Ok,  Last weeks tip was a little larger than normal so this week I will return to the simpler stuff.  But first - in case you think last week's tip was BS - Just to prove my point I installed Ubuntu 10.04 on several older devices.  Including a very used 4 or 5 year old Dell Inspiron 1300 laptop.  1g Ram - 1.6g Celeron M processor.  40g hard disk.  It now boots (cold) in 38 seconds and feels as snappy as a brand new Alienware or Mac Pro.  And I'm writing this post on it.

Now on to this week's tip:

This was how I received my luggage from a flight a few years ago...   Unfortunately this was after 9/11 and the craziness that insued with airline travel afterward.  I packed most of my stuff - including quite a bit of electronics in that bag to avoid problems at airport security.  Needless to say - I now have new versions of all of it.  NONE of which was paid for by the airline.

After that I started doing mostly carry-on.  Then the airlines started charging for checked bags so now everyone does carry on and there is never room in the overhead bins.  So for trips where I am going to be there longer than a small bag can hold or I need to take more gadgets than I can carry I've settled on this little trick.
Get a small - hard side equipment case to pack inside your checked luggage.  This is the one that I use:  If you watch they occasionally go on sale for as little as $10.  This last trip it protected the car cradle for my Droid, my travel router, several power and network adapters and even a souvenier coffee cup I brought back as a gift for a friend.

Posted via email from ninjahippie's (pre) posterous

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

GTOW (Geek tip of the week)

This week - Be a cloud master (or cheap bastard). 

How many people do you know that spend many thousands on new computers every year or two because the old one starts to, well, suck.  Then there are the geeks that always seem to have whatever they need but never seem to spend much on anything but the coolest new cell phone and faster broadband.

Here's how to work the system like a true geek.  Shh this is top secret. 

First of all - it's not the hardware that's the problem. Start fresh with a new install of Windows and it will run just like it did when you brought it home last xmas.  The bad news - that new computer with windows 7 on it - will suck in a year too. 

The problem with Windows based computers is the design of the operating system.  Windows is modular.  This means that every time you add a program to do something it's sticking stuff into your operating system. Like when the kid next door stuck stuff on your oh-so-cool Lego space ship. Most of the time even if you "uninstall" programs they leave the modifications and settings in place - in case you change your mind and re-install in the future.  This is why windows always wants you to re-boot for every little change. 

This has worked out pretty well for Microsoft, Intel, AMD, Nvida and the host of other manufacturers that talk you into buying new every year or two.

So how do I "fix" my slow ol clunker?  You do one of two things.  You either start over by re-installing windows every year or so - or you switch to an operating system with a different design. That's it. 

Macs and Linux based systems run on what is called a monolithic kernel.  The OS loads as one big chunk - unmodified, the same every time.  Kinda like a big Tonka truck instead of a Lego creation.  Software loaded on the system must be self contained.  Mostly (it is possible to hose up things like graphics libraries etc).  However the system itself will generally be much more resistant to that overall slow-down-suck prevalent in windows based systems.

So do I re-load or switch?  Up to you.  If you have programs that you rely on, that are only available on windows.  Well, you are stuck.  I don't mean generic stuff like word processors or web browsers.  Things like software to program your GPS, remote control, or run specific hardware necessary to your business.  In this case pony up for a copy of windows 7. That's still pretty cheap compared to a whole new computer.  Of course you will need to re-install the programs that you need.  But STOP THERE!  Don't waste money on new versions of Office or any of that.  See the section below about the cloud...

If you are like 2/3 of computer users and only use your computer for the occasional letter.  To browse the web.  Do some email. Maybe listen to some music - my advise is to switch to Linux.  You will have everything you need in a simple to use system that won't suck for many years.  Plus it won't cost you anything more than the time it takes to load the new OS and learn a few new tricks.  In spite of what the folks that make their money from hacking or directly selling windows will tell you - Windows, Linux, and Mac all accomplish the same thing.  They are different in about as much as a yellow legal pad is different from a Big Chief notebook is different than a Moleskin.

Before the Mac crowd attacks - I like them too, but the objective here is to avoid buying new hardware.

Now to the cloud part:  On your system, don't worry if your hard drive seems small compared to the shiny new systems at Best Buy.  These days all you need is a good, fast broadband connection.  A Dropbox account and a Google login so that you can use Google Docs.  Truthfully a $200 netbook with a couple gigs of SSD and a broadband connection gets you all the computing power and apps that 95% of users will ever want.

In summary:  Take that "old" box - install something like Ubuntu 10.04 (that comes with the Dropbox like Ubuntu One service) sign up for Gmail (gives you access to Google docs) and never look back at those expensive systems again.

Posted via email from ninjahippie's (pre) posterous

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

GTOW (Geek tip of the week)

Consolidate your inboxen with gmail.

A lot of folk have several email accounts or have found themselves with more than they want - especially those with brand new Android phones.  If you have a Gmail account it can do things that you may not know about - like make managing your multiple accounts simpler. 

First of all - Gmail can act like a POP or IMAP client and poll your other accounts. This works just like using Thunderbird or Outlook to get your mail.  See settings Accounts to set this up.

Of course just grabbing the messages from your other accounts doesn't solve the problem.  The really cool thing is that Gmail can also SEND mail from other addresses.  Again hit the settings - accounts tab to do this.  Gmail can actually be configured to even use your SMTP server if you run into spam trap issues doing this.

But wait we aren't finished - if you want to keep your other address but not have to constantly prune the other mailbox - just setup your other account to forward everything to your gmail account and then delete.  I've been doing this for my personal domain(s) for years.  It all goes into my gmail account. 

Handy!  VERY, VERY handy for us Android folk. 

Posted via email from ninjahippie's (pre) posterous

Monday, May 03, 2010

Geek / Gadget Madness

An odd thing happened to this old geek over the weekend.  I upgraded the stereo in my Xterra because of my phone.

That's correct.  Well to be honest it has been a long time coming.  When I got the'06  X in '07 the only thing I was disappointed about was that the stereo had no aux input jack.  No problem.  $70 later I'd installed one.

Then a little more than a year later I rudely interrupted a girl texting by slamming into the side of her car (after she failed to stop or even slow down for a stop sign from a side street - at rush hour).  During the $12k worth of work to restore my beloved SUV - problems with the sound were discovered and the genius car stereo company hired by my insurance company decided it was the aftermarket aux jack.

I was never able to find the correct product to restore this function and so relied on the (horrible) FM transmitter in my GPS to deliver XM radio and directions.  After two trips across the country I wanted to throw the whole thing out the window.

Motorola DROID Multimedia Docking Station

Enter "THE DROID".  The biggest life changing / disruptive tech gadget in recent memory.  It does everything but make pancakes and rake the yard.  (I'm betting there will be apps for that soon too.)  Anyway it has slowly been taking over where other gadgets had once ruled.  My much admired Nokia N810 tablet hasn't been turned on since I got the droid.  My bedside table - once ruled by a clock radio is now just home to a dock for the droid.  I've purchased a bluetooth pendant that will let me use my custom ear molds on the motorcycle without wires.  And the final straw - at least as far as the car stereo is concerned.  The car dock.

Last week a package from my old friend Crutchfield arrived thanks to the wonders of the yearly tax return.  This weekend I dedicated Saturday to soldering together a wiring harness, pulling apart the dashboard and a good part of the trim inside the truck, and hauling out the old GPS and stereo.

Clarion CX609 2-DIN CD/MP3/WMA/AAC Receiver with USB Port

In it's place is a shiny new Clarion CX609 head unit.  It can control/be controlled by iPods , read USB storage for audio, run XM radios, and it even has a plain old aux jack.  The coolest thing however is that it's fully Bluetooth capable.  Now I just pop the droid in the car dock and enjoy my streaming Slacker or Pandora (bye bye XM) , hear directions as they were meant to be heard and take any phone calls via the microphone now built into the head liner above my noggin.

Almost makes me want to drive the X instead of riding the bike to work.  Almost.

My ever loving thanks to the engineers at Nissan for the wonder that is the Xterra.  Your vehicle saved my life and probably the idiot I ran into as well!
I still don't take calls on the motorcycle. The connection is only for music and nav prompts.
Music outside of 3g service is thanks to Slacker's channel cache feature.  Check it out!  Thanks to this I dropped my XM subscription and now pay less for a year than I did for a quarter with XM.
For droid cases and docs I actually use the Innocase and corresponding docs from Sedio