Thursday, December 09, 2010


Over the Thanksgiving weekend I bought a NOOKcolor by Barnes & Noble. I had tried to get my wife interested in an iPad by showing it to her at the Apple store. Here response was "Is that all it does?" I didn't want to make that mistake again.

With the Nook I bought it and loaded a trial copy of a book by her favorite author before I showed it to her. That made the difference.

There's her Mary Higgins Clark book at the bottom left.

The Nook is actually an Android tablet. It has a gorgeous 1024x600 7" capacitive touch screen. It is running Android 2.1 (for now).

Look carefully and you'll see that this is an Android homescreen with three panels.

Click on the book and this is how it looks in reading mode.

You can change the font, the point size and the margins.

But this isn't just an e-reader. Barnes & Noble has added several nice apps. You access these by pressing the soft button at the bottom. Touch "Library" and then "My Files" and you can see part of the file system.

Navigate down to "Videos."

These are videos that I've transcoded using Handbrake. Detailed instructions are here.

Back to the soft button and choose "Extras." There are a couple of games and a "Gallery" and "Music."

These are simple apps but my wife liked the straightforward music player.

Press and hold on a song and you'll get a context menu.

But wait, there's more!

Back to the soft button and choose "Web." Yes, the Nook has a browser. Like the apps, it's pretty simple. I've been able to get many services working by using their mobile URLs.

YouTube even works but the playback is pretty choppy.

Content sites like work better.

Back to the soft button and choose "Settings."

That gets you information on wireless and the device.

There's lots more to the Nook.

By the way, I captured these screenshots by pressing the Nook button and the volume down button at the same time.

My next challenge is to decide whether to root the Nook or not.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Bluetooth Tethering with Windows 7

Last spring I got my Asus Eee PC 1000H running Windows XP tethered via Bluetooth to my BlackBerry Bold.

Then this summer I got the ThinkPad X100e and installed Windows 7 Pro 64-bit.

Windows 7's networking is pretty different than Windows XP networking so I had to work some to get the tethering working.

First you have to pair the X100e and the BlackBerry. Remember that you have to make the X100e discoverable first.

Then click on the Start button and type "dial-up." Select "Set up a dial-up connection." Choose the Bluetooth link.

Here's what it looks like when its done.

This string is:
The password is CINGULAR1.

Then go into the "Network and Sharing Center" and choose "Internet Options."

Go to the Connections tab and check "Never dial a connection."

Finally go to "Network Connections" and uncheck "Cancel as default connection."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Adobe Reader X

Like you've seen everywhere else on the web, Adobe has released Adobe Reader X (10.0) with sandboxing. If you want to read the gory details, start here. Here's a direct download link.

What I'm here to tell you is how to make sure you don't lose any security when you install it.

If you're following all the best practices, you've turned off JavaScript and cranked down the Trust Manager in Reader.

You've got to do that again in Reader X.

Click on "Edit" and then "Preferences." Select "Trust Manager." Uncheck "Allow opening of non-PDF attachments with external applications."

Now select "JavaScript." Uncheck "Enable Acrobat JavaScript."

Click on "Ok" and you're ready.

It sure is frustrating that Adobe didn't keep security preferences from the previous version but did keep some non-security preferences, e.g. disabling of the splash screen.

When you open your first document, you'll see this little tool tip in the upper right corner. If you hover your mouse over the top right corner of it, an "X" will appear. Click that and the tool tip seems to be gone forever. Irritating!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Google Voice and Mobile-to-Mobile

Maybe nobody cares about this but me but I got to wondering. Since I have my Google Voice set to pass through to me the Caller ID of the caller, does AT&T Wireless think that the incoming call is really mobile-to-mobile?


Here's my Google Voice setting relative to incoming Caller ID.

Here's the entry in the Google Voice History for an incoming call from an AT&T mobile.

Then here's the entry in the AT&T call log showing a matching number, time, and duration and indicating it was "M2MCNG."

Just to close the loop, here is AT&T's definition of "M2MCNG."

What this means is that you can share your Google Voice number with everyone. If someone then calls your Google Voice number with an AT&T mobile phone and you answer it on your AT&T mobile phone that call will be counted as mobile-to-mobile, i.e. free.

If you're not an AT&T Wireless customer, your mileage may vary. Try it and post your results in the comments.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Election Day 2010

No, this is not a rant on the elections. Rather this is a compliment to one of my area's local papers, the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

As I surfed around last night looking for early returns, I went to the Memphis paper and the Jackson, MS paper but there wasn't anything there. As a last resort, I went to the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

On the front page was a link to live results. I apologize that I didn't screen capture that page but what was there was a list of local races and links to Google Docs spreadsheets!

What the DeSoto Times-Tribune had done was created Google Docs spreadsheets for each race with rows for each ballot box and columns for each candidate.

With Google Docs real-time collaboration, you could actually watch them post the results ballot box by candidate live! Incredible.

Here's what one looked like.

But wait, there's more.

Google Docs lets you download these spreadsheets so you can keep your own copy of these detailed results.

Good job DeSoto Times-Tribune.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Windows 7 and ThinkPad T43

I was all ready to install Windows 7 on my ThinkPad T42.

Before I could get around to it, the image on the T42 screen made a little swirling motion and froze. That pretty much wound up the T42. There was clearly something cracked inside. If you turned it off and let it cool, it would work for a couple of minutes then freeze again.

The T42 had served me well. I got in in July 2007 so it lasted me 3 years. It was probably 4 years old when I got it.

I managed to get all the data off it and ordered a T43 from Intechra. It came with 2GB RAM and a 802.11g WiFi card so I was in business.

I used the technique I had learned on the X40. Do a clean install of Windows 7. Then plug it into an Ethernet port and run Windows Update. Then for what's left, go to Lenovo/IBM. Everything works.

I was hoping for Aero capabilities but wasn't sure. After hours of Google searching, it won't do Aero. My first impression of Aero on Vista was that it was eye candy. Now after using it on a couple of systems, I really miss it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another Short Term Victory Over Spam

Late in 2008 I wrote a post about a huge drop in spam.

In that post I was amazed by a period where there was almost a 50% drop in spam. Recently I have measured a drop of more than 80%.

Again I turned to Brian Krebs for an explanation.

Given that my spam dropped in late August/early September I think the key point is in Brian's update near the bottom. In summary, two major spam botnets have been slowed down.

Thank goodness.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Windows 7 and WAV Files

Years ago (exactly how long ago in a minute) I recorded a short WAV file that I used as an announcement that my daughter had gotten on AIM.

When I upgraded to Windows 7 I set this as a pidgin Buddy Pounce. But it didn't work!

Oddly Windows Media Player would play it but Media Player Classic wouldn't nor would Windows 7 play it as a system sound. Hmmm.

Off to Google.

It wasn't on the first page but on the second page was this link.

That held the key and the solution to the problem.

I had recorded that WAV file using Windows 98's Sound Recorder application.

I fired up AudacityPortable and opened the old WAV file. Then I exported it as a WAV but obviously Audacity used a different codec.

That fixed it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Windows 7 and ThinkPad X100e

I've made good use of my Asus Eee PC 1000H. Recently upgraded to Windows 7, it has been my "in the car" laptop for months.

But it's still not a ThinkPad. Lenovo recently came out with several new models that piqued my interest, the Edge and the X100e. I started lurking around Lenovo's outlet site and finally found a deal on an X100e.

The specifications for the refurbished X100e that I got are:

ProcessorAMD® Athlon™ Neo MV-40 (1.60GHz, 512KB L2)
Operating SystemGenuine Windows 7 Professional 32 - English
Keyboard/Pointing DeviceUltraNav (TrackPoint and TouchPad)
Total Memory2GB PC2-5300 DDR2 667MHz SDRAM SODIMM Memory
Hard Drive250GB, 5400RPM Serial ATA 2.5" Hard Drive
Display11.6” WXGA HD (1366 X 768) LED, W/ 0.3 MP Camera
GraphicsATI™ Radeon™ HD 3200
Ethernet/Wireless11b/g/n Wi-Fi wireless
Integrated CameraYes

The outlet price was 50% of list and since it was very slow to ship, Lenovo gave me an 10% "sales concession" (credit) so the price was very good.

Although Lenovo doesn't put a lot of crapware on their PCs, I wanted it running Windows 7 64-bit so I reformated and loaded Windows 7 Pro 64-bit. I had let Windows Update install all the drivers it had and then went to Lenovo to get all the rest of the drivers.

The only issue I had after the reload was that when running Google Documents using the new document format, highlighted text was barely discernible when on battery power. As you can imagine, that took a while to figure out what all the conditions were.

I turned to my favorite problem solver Google and came up with a solution. What had happened was that Windows Update installed a standard ATI driver but the Lenovo driver had the Catalyst Control Center included. This solution uses the Catalyst Control Center to turn off the Vari-Bright feature. With this off, the contrast is back to normal.

Just for fun, I installed Office 2010 64-bit as well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Windows 7 and Asus Eee PC

My Asus Eee PC came with Windows XP Home. I've used it as my travel laptop. I got a cigarette lighter adapter and keep the Eee PC in the car.

When I got the Eee PC in the fall of 2008 there was lots of chatter on the forums of installing Vista on it. There were some bootleg drivers out there but no formal support from Asus.

After I got the TechNet Standard subscription, the Eee PC was high on my list for Windows 7. As it turns out, Asus not only supports Windows 7 on the Eee PC with drivers but actually provides a self-upgrade guide to install Windows 7.

It all worked great. I had already installed 2GB of RAM so that wasn't a problem. There are a few subtleties of the Eee PC that don't work. For example, the XP load has the ability to configure the display to 1024x768 and either make it scroll or compress. The vanilla Windows 7 video drivers don't support that. I never used that capability but there are some hacks out there if you must.

Even the Eee PC "bells and whistles" work. For example, the multi-touch track pad (actually from ELAN) is fully functioning along with Asus' Eee Super Hybrid Engine.

Flashing the BIOS was the toughest part. I haven't figured out how to get rid of the grey POST screen but I haven't tried very hard.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bugzilla Entertainment

Here's another of those threads where the open source contributors take a "holier than thou" approach to users of their software.

Firefox 4 is now in public beta. With Beta 2, a new "bug" was fixed.

This change nullified some simple about:config parameters that were widely used to basically turn off tab scrolling. The submitter of this "bug" said "Users can override this using userChrome.css if they absolutely want it. I don't think the prefs are worth it." userChrome.css doesn't ship with Firefox. You have to create it yourself then insert CSS code into it to reinstate this capability. Skip on down in the thread and see the uproar.

The author of this change submitted some sample CSS code that hadn't been tested and didn't work so even the author was having trouble implementing it! "Sorry, I didn't actually try it myself and got confused. This should work (although it's again untested):"

The good news is this is in a beta, albeit public.

This certainly gives some credence to concern over open source software in a corporate environment although similar points could be made over some of Microsoft's choices.

Hopefully this will all be cleared up by the time Firefox 4 goes gold.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Windows 7 and ThinkPad X40

With my shiny new TechNet Standard subscription in hand, my first target was my beloved ThinkPad X40. You'll remember I replaced the 1.8" hard drive with a KingSpec solid state drive.

I maxed out the memory at 1.5GB with a $19 DIMM from 5R Processors.

I built a USB drive with Windows 7 Pro and Office 2003 and Office 2010.

I booted the USB drive and Windows 7 was installed in about 30 minutes.


Device Manager didn't look so good. Lots of yellow exclamation marks! I started Googling them one by one but came across one suggestion that was just too simple: Run Windows Update. Duh!

Since one of the exclamation marks was the wireless adapter, I plugged in an Ethernet cable and fired up Windows Update.

Fixed it.


The video card wasn't recognized. Back to Google. It wasn't so simple this time. The Intel chipset the X40 uses simply doesn't have Windows 7 drivers.

There were a couple of people who claimed they had overcome this but there were almost always comments that that solution hadn't worked.

I finally took the simplest solution with no dissenters and tried it.


Now I have a 2.7lb. sub-notebook running Windows 7 with all the features working fine.

Next? A ThinkPad T42.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I have a lot of PCs around my house, 3 desktops and mumble, mumble laptops! I'm slowly becoming a big Windows 7 fan after my experience with Vista here, here, and here. The Big Honker is just humming along with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.

On one of the podcasts I listen to Paul Thurrott mentioned Microsoft's TechNet subscription and even pointed to a coupon to lower the cost to less than $300. In a recent podcast, Paul mentioned Microsoft has announced a new TechNet Standard subscription for $200. Rather than me rehashing all the work Paul has done, here's his post on this.

I bought a TechNet Standard subscription and have started using it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Comcast and Cisco RNG200

I have Comcast cable service in the Memphis market. For a set top box I have an Cisco RNG200 HD DVR.

This morning when I came into the den, the face of the DVR didn't show the clock. Odd. I powered it up and it took a little longer than normal and then gave an error screen saying something like that the network wasn't available.

I had been watching QAM on my KWORLD SA290-Q LE so I knew that the cable-ready was working. I turned it off and went on about my business.

This afternoon when I returned home the clock was back so I figured everything was Ok. Wrong.

Later in the evening when I went to look at some recorded programs I discovered that all my programs and programming were gone!

I called 1-800-COMCAST and went through the obligatory 20 questions only to be told that they were too busy to talk to me. I immediately started pressing 0 over and over and ended up listening to Muzak (or some cheap equivalent).

When the representative came on she told me that Comcast had pushed an update to the Cisco RNG200s overnight and it had been unsuccessful. The result was that all of them were WIPED! I whined some and she agreed to give me a credit for a month of the DVR service of $15.95.

I can't believe that no one has commented on this! If this happened to you be sure to call Comcast for your credit.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Flash 10.1 and My Screen

Surely you've read the hoopla over the recent Flash vulnerability. The official download link is here. But if you're like me, you don't want to install an application just to get a patch so the direct download links are here.

Now that that's out of the way, there's something new in Flash 10.1. Hardware acceleration has been turned on by default. If you know what that means I'm sure you're excited. If you don't (like me) you'll also be excited when your power settings are ignored and leave your screen on all the time.

Not to worry. It's easy to fix. Bring up a page with Flash on it. Right click on the Flash object. Select "Settings." Click the leftmost tab at the bottom. Uncheck "Use hardware acceleration." Click on "Close."

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Samsung CL65

Remember last summer when I blogged about geotagging? I'd had to work some to capture my lat/lon information and associate it with each photo. That worked pretty good but I wanted something simpler.

My Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 was only a 10 megapixel and only 3x optical zoom.

So I went Google shopping last Christmas and came up with the Samsung CL65 (ST1000 in Europe).

The CL65 has 3.5" touch screen LCD. It has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi along with built-in GPS. It has software on the camera to directly upload images online or e-mail them via the Wi-Fi. It's 12.1 megapixels with a 5x zoom lens. Oh, and the video recording is HD.

When I started looking it seemed to also be made of "unobtainium." I got on a waiting list at Rocket Camera. Their BBB rating doesn't look so good but I didn't have any problems with them. They had a good price and gave me good service. Caveat emptor.

The camera is awesome. The touch screen took me a little getting used to as I seemed to touch the screen accidentally while I was holding it. Other than turning it off, there is no screen lock. The GPS isn't AGPS like your phone so it takes a little while to find the satellites when you first turn it on. When I was in a situation where I was likely to be taking frequent photos, I just kept turning it on and off to keep the GPS sync relatively fresh.

I don't like digital zoom so I played with the settings until the digital zoom was disabled. Unlike the Casio, there isn't an obvious setting for this and I don't know which setting I changed to disable it but I think it was the image stabilization that did it.

Speaking of settings, the Casio has a lot more of pre-programmed scenarios. The Samsung has only 13. I don't use these much and all the ones I looked for were there, e.g. sunrise.

The Samsung charges with a proprietary (and short) USB cable. This cable also presents the MicroSD card as a USB drive to the PC. Just don't lose this cable. I haven't had any problems with the battery life even while running the GPS all the time.

The Samsung's 5x optical zoom is all internal. What this means is that the lens never protrudes from the camera's body. Nice.

I can't get the Wi-Fi to connect to my WPA/WPA2 network on my D-Link WBR-2310 router. I called Samsung and they weren't much help. It connected when I turned off security but that wasn't acceptable. I did get it to connect at my daughter's house and at her mother-in-law's house.

I've taken hundreds of snapshots with the Samsung but hadn't traveled with it to exercise the GPS until our recent trip to Bainbridge Island. Picasaweb does a great job of presenting the lat/lon for each photo. All went well until just before this photo.

That's when I dropped the Samsung into my soup! Luckily I had the camera all set before I handed it to the waiter so the picture turned out fine. The camera wasn't so lucky. It had landed screen down. Initially the touch screen wouldn't respond at all. Slowly it began working better and better and eventually seemed fine.

It worked great all the rest of the day but the next morning I got up early to take photos of the sunrise and it was cold outside. After about 30 minutes out in the cold the touch screen quit again.

Luckily Father's Day was coming up and the CL65 was much more available. My wife got me a new one and I've applied all my settings to it and am ready to go.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

BlackBerry OS 5

I saw a friend's Bold 2 recently and it was running BlackBerry OS 5. Of course I was jealous so I went to get it from AT&T.

Surprise! AT&T doesn't support it on the Bold. I wouldn't let that stop me. After reading about good experiences, I followed the instructions here. It worked like a charm for me and I haven't had any of the problems the subsequent posters had. It took about 40 minutes end-to-end. I'm running v5.0.0.681. Realize that there are a couple of ".0"s in there so it's real early for v5.

The best recap of the new features I could find was here and that was when v5 was still in beta.

Here're the handful of things I found different.

There's something different on the home screen. Maybe it is the highlighting of icons.

The compose screen for SMS is different.

In the Messages application, there is a capability I hadn't noticed before of flagging messages.

In the Contacts application, the search is more obvious.

The Media application has several changes. It includes icons for the Video Camera and the Voice Notes Recorder but not the Camera.

It also has a search field like Contacts.

When you're playing a song, the presentation is different and nicer. Ignore the boxes instead of proper text. That is because of podshifter.

One thing that took me a while to get resolved was that by default Media times out and closes after it is idle for 45 minutes. Here's where to set that.

In the Browser, you can choose your default search provider from a nice drop-down menu.

There are slick drop-down menus everywhere.

Even Applications has a search field.

RIM also includes icons to install Facebook and Twitter applications. While we're looking at this screen, all of my old applications came across and worked fine on v5. I did lose the internal settings of them and had to reestablish those, e.g. GPSLogger.

There's a nice new application called Files.

Files is like Windows Explorer. You can navigate the file system either on the media card or the device memory.

It even has viewers.

Probably the nicest new feature is threaded SMSs.

Reminds me of the Treo 650! I blanked out the name in this screen capture.