Technology’s Infestation of my Life

Examples of how technology has permeated every single bit of my life.

WordCamp Denver

Last weekend I attended WordCamp Denver, the “conference created for enthusiasts, users, developers, designers, and fans of WordPress“. It was basically a time to geek out with fellow programmers, developers, and bloggers.

For me, the highlights were Matt Mullenweg’s State of the WordPress, Ben Huh’s I Can Has WordPress, and learning about the Carrington Theme Framework. I also got to meet (and have a quick photo op) with Matt, Ben, and Lorelle VanFossen. Matt even took a picture of me…well, my t-shirt at least.

It was also great to finally meet Alex King and most of the rest of his crew (Devin, Shawn, Sean, Gordon, and Jeremy) at Crowd Favorite. They did a great job organizing the event and without them this would have never gotten off the ground. I also think that if I ever got tired of engineering and wanted to do web development full time, Alex/Crowd Favorite would be the first person I’d talk to.

Interesting side note: Alex grew up in Seattle just around the block from me. Small world, eh?

Lorelle and Me

Lorelle and Me

Me and Ben Huh

Me and Ben Huh

© 2009 Matt Mullenweg

A picture of my WordPress/WordCamp Denver t-shirt and all of all my gear - © 2009 Matt Mullenweg

Per usual, you can see the rest of my photos on Flickr at: WordCamp Denver
You can see the rest of Matt’s photos at: http://ma.tt/2009/02/wordcamp-denver/
And you can see all photos tagged with “wordcampdenver” at: http://flickr.com/photos/tags/wordcampdenver/

By the way, I think Matt Mullenweg is infinity better/cooler/more awesome than Mark Zuckerberg. And I feel safe in saying that without actually having met Mark. Two words: Open. Source.

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The Finer Points of Configuring Your Airport Express and Error 10057

I was recently having an issue with my Airport Express. I was trying to set it up so that I could play music through it. I got it to join my network, but I couldn’t connect to it in iTunes. When I went to go reconfigure it, I found that I also couldn’t connect to it…even though I could see it. I kept getting an error message:

An error occured while trying to access the Apple wireless device. Make sure your network connection is valid and try again. Error 10057

The problem turned out to be a subtle configuration setting with my WiFi. My network is set for WPA with TKIP encryption. However, it appears that Airport Express doesn’t really like to play well with TKIP. Switching the encryption to WPA with TKIP and AES (also called TKIP+AES) fixed the issues. Presumably, setting the network encryption to WPA with AES would also work.

I tried confirming my findings, however I wasn’t able to find anything in the manual or tech specs.

Hopefully, this post helps someone else with a similar problem.

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Internet Explorer Exploit. Update Now.

There’s a very super serious absolutely critical patch for Internet Explorer that you need to download right away. I usually (never?) blog about this type of thing, but this exploit is a rather serious exploit (they disabled Internet Explorer on all of our campus computers, which they’ve never done before). Anyway, Microsoft issued a patch today and I’m pleading with you to go and download it:

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms08-078.mspx\

Alternatively, you may consider downloading and using:
Mozilla Firefox: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/
Google Chrome: http://www.google.com/chrome

If you already use Firefox or Chrome, you still should install the patch, just in case.

If you’re using a Mac, you’re okay and don’t need to do anything.

Read more at http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/17/microsoft-issues-critical-update-for-its-browser/

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My Hatred for Unbounded Volume Shadow Copies

I’ve been running a bit low on disk space the last few weeks. I thought part of might be because I was taking more photos and at 5MB a photo, those add up pretty quick. So I started moving some of my old pictures from my internal hard drive to my external hard drive. That solved the problem in the short run, but I was still running with very little space left:

So I decided to track down where all my space was going. I used the rather helpful (and free) JDiskReport and came across something interesting:

JDiskReport was only finding 74.7GB of data on my drive, even though I have 104 GB.

So I did a Google search for: windows vista drive space

I came across an article at The Problem Solver called Windows Vista and low disk space:

From msmvps.com:

Anyway back to the disk space usage. When I started I was surprised but everything went well. But the C drive kept on filling up even though I wasn’t installing new software and I kept the temp directory in check. Yesterday the bar the Explorer indicating how full the disk was even turned red so some action was needed. I fired up WinDirStat, a great utility for finding where your disk space went and reported 14Gb as . That is quite a portion of a 50 Gb disk, a whoping 28%, so I decided to focus on that first. It turns out it was in use by Windows Vista System Restore.

Could this be my saving grace? The symptoms seem to fit. I checked the Shadow Copy Storage by running “vssadmin list shadowstorage” from an elevated command line:

Shadow Copy Storage association
For volume: C
Shadow Copy Storage volume: C
Used Shadow Copy Storage space: 30.113 GB
Allocated Shadow Copy Storage space: 30.364 GB
Maximum Shadow Copy Storage space: UNBOUNDED

There, ladies and gentlemen, was the grail of my quest. The used storage space was 30GB and the maximum allowed was unbounded. Who thought that an unbounded maximum storage space was a good idea? Because I sure didn’t.

Fixing the problem is pretty trivial. Just execute

vssadmin resize shadowstorage /for=c: /on=c: /maxsize=6GB

from the elevated command prompt and all your troubles will be fixed. Of course, you might need to change c: to actual drive you want to affect and you can also tweak /maxsize= to be the actual maximum size you want.

I thought 6GB was good since I don’t rely on Volume Shadow Copies for my backups (I have a different solution).

And that’s how I made 30 GB in less than 3 seconds.

There’s also some more information on vssadmin at Microsoft TechNet.

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Daedalus: My New Tablet

As I mentioned last month, I was looking at getting a new Tablet. Well, I ordered it a couple weeks ago and it is now safely in my arms!

Daedalus is a Toshiba M700 Portege and I purchased it as originally spec’d: 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo with Intel Turbo Memory; 2GB RAM on a single DIMM; 120GB 7200RPM hard drive; Windows Vista Ultimate.

Some thoughts:

  • Even with the removable disc drive in, the machine is light and feels light.
  • The volume dial is a digital control that just freely spins. Thus, there isn’t a physical point that is the minimum or maximum volume.
  • The screen needs to be perpendicular to the keyboard in order to turn.
  • When I’m typing, I sometimes accidentally tap the touch pad which moves my cursor. There is a setting buried several layers in which allows you to disable tapping while typing.
  • The Windows key moved from the upper right-hand corner (on the M200) to the lower left-hand corner (in the M700).
  • There is not a physical latch for the screen.
  • The USB placements seem odd, but acceptable.
  • The screen resolution is crisp and I like it better then the previous resolution.
  • You can save about 10% by paying with a Visa credit card.
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Looking at Getting a New Tablet

Forward: Many people ask me for my help in purchasing a computer. Here’s a sort of a behind the scenes of what I go through when purchasing a computer for myself.

In October, it will have been four years since I got my Toshiba M200. I think for most people, four years for a laptop would be pretty good. For me, that’s an amazing amount of time to have the same laptop. In face any laptop that survives four years with me should be nominated for some sort of award.

Originally, I wanted to wait until I graduated before I got a new computer. However, there have been some tell-tale signs that my current system is on it’s way out the door. Faced with that impending doom and reality that technology has bettered itself significantly in the last few years, I’ve spent the last couple of months looking for a replacement.

I’ve had a Toshiba for the last 8 years and there is a strong incentive to stay with them. I’m pretty apt (and comfortable) with opening up their systems, I have several Toshiba accessories (including no less then four power cords), and know for a fact there is a certified Toshiba Repair center with 45 minutes of my houses (both in Seattle and Colorado). However, the game was was open to all and in addition to Toshiba, I looked at Lenovo, Dell, HP, and Gateway.

There were some basic things that were pretty non-negotiable. Fortunately, every manufacturer was able to meet them: Core 2 Duo and 2GB of RAM installed.

I was appalled by Dell’s offer: $2880 for a basic system with a 1.33GHz Core 2 Duo and 2048MB of RAM, max. HP’s bid was a much more reasonable price, $1749, but only 1.2 GHz and still 2048MB of RAM (although I think you can get up to 3GB in the HP).

Gateway offers a pretty reasonable system, however I’ve had issues with them in the past that I still haven’t gotten over yet. They were also the heaviest system and the lowest ranked tablet by Laptop Magazine. So Gateway was out too.

This basically left it between Toshiba and Lenovo. Between the two, Toshiba wins on the processor and price. Battery life is a bit tricky to gauge, however I believe that Lenovo has . Lenovo has a 3-year 9×5 next day on site warranty while Toshiba I’d have to bring to Lone Tree to get it repaired.

While not a huge downside, the Lenovo does not have an internal optical drive (which Toshiba does). The Toshiba also has a 7-in-1 media card reader, which is nice because I transfer quite a bit of photos via CompactFlash and Secure Digital.

Both PC Magazine and Laptop Magazine gave the Toshiba M700 4/5 and the Lenovo X61 4.5/5.

I’m leaning pretty heavily toward the Toshiba and I’ll probably make my final decision within a month. I gotta also figure out money.

Trade study after the jump…
Read More »Looking at Getting a New Tablet

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Fighting with OneNote

I’ve been fighting with my computer all afternoon to try and get inking to work in OneNote 2007. I kept getting an error about OneNote needing Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 with Service Pack 2 in order to work. Well, I have the RC2 of Service Pack 3, so I was thinking that may have been the issue.

So I uninstalled SP3 (build 3311). That ended up screwing even more things up since it decided to basically uninstall all my drivers. So I rolled back using system restore to Monday. That got me back to where I was this morning: working but still no love on the OneNote inking.

I tried a couple of things I found on the internet, including Daniel Escapa’s trick of of running cd %ProgramFiles%\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Ink\
regsvr32 /s inkobj.dll
and trying to the KB900722 patch.

No joy.

I trying running the OneNote diagnostics tool.

Again, no love.

I finally break down and get ready to send an email to Microsoft support. I’m entering in my details and I notice that the inking panel is active again.

Figures. As soon as I try to contact Microsoft, the program works again. No rhyme or reason.

By the way, I seriously was thinking about just getting another computer. I have less then 2GB of free space left and things are starting to fail (such as the motherboard). Lenovo has an awesome Outlet site and I priced out a MacBook that would have been nice. Problem is, I don’t have have $1500 lying around. Although I suppose I could get a pretty penny for my current Tablet…maybe $500? So I guess I would only need $1000. I still don’t have it.

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Importing Email into Gmail

First, I want to say that before I started all this, I had about 70 emails in my inbox, all of them read. I now have over a 1000 emails in my inbox and almost all of them unread.

In any event, I have this folder on my desktop called “july2006” which basically has a bunch of files in it from when I (presumably) reformatted by hard drive in July of 2006 (natch). For whatever reason, I also have this file that has over 100MB of email that, from what I can tell, spans from late 2005 to July 2006.

The trouble was, I couldn’t figure out a good way to get the emails (which are actually stored in a single file per mbox standard) to Gmail.

The issue was actually that I hadn’t looked. So I did and easily found two programs that worked (with a bit of tweaking), even though they haven’t been updated in several years.

The first one I came across was Mark Lyon’s Google GMail Loader. I download it and tried to get it to work, but it barfed with an error. So I moved on and found gExodus by Chu Yeow. It also barfed.

As it turned out, it was an easy fix. Both programs used the same Gmail SMTP server that I couldn’t access (either because it was offline or because of a firewall issue on my end). I ended up just plugin in my school’s SMTP address and using that since it allows for unauthenticated access from within our campus.

That fixed the issue for both of the programs.

I ended up using gExodus because it allows you to pause the process, which seemed like a good option to have.

It’s imported 2273 emails so far and it’s still going. Ugh. This is going to suck to clean out my inbox.

Update: It finished around 7:44pm MDT after taking about 2 hours and 15 minutes to import around 4500 emails. However, my inbox only reads around 2300 new emails. I surmise that many pieces of spam were filtered out and some messages were threaded (because Google is awesome).

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More Ways to Digest What I’m Thinking

From 143 subscriptions, over the last 30 days I have read 6,426 items, shared 52 items, and emailed 12 items.

That’s the synopsis from Google Reader. If you’d like to see what I share (i.e. what I find interesting), you can read my Link Blog:
Andrew Ferguson’s Link Blog.

It’s a good way to see what I know and find out what I’m interested. Especially since I really hate to create echo chambers. I really try not to post links to things here unless I have something substantial to add.

At some point (and depending on if I get any requests and how many), I may integrate the AFdN feed and my link blog feed together.

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1.5 TB for $76

I just bought an external 1.5TB hard drive for $81.38 from Dell.

You heard me right, for $67.99 + $7.99 shipping and $5.40 in taxes I got my hands on a SimpleTech 1.5TB SimpleDrive Pro Duo USB 2.0/eSata External Drive (FP-UFE2/1.5TB).

That’s 5.4 cents per a gigabyte, which is crazy low!

Amazon says that they should going for closer to $600.

I think that someone at Dell made a typo and instead of typing in 679.99, they punched 67.999 (and the computer just truncated the last digit).

Get’em while they hot and not sold out:

Dell/SimpleTech 1.5TB external HDD

Thanks to Matt for finding the link on Slickdeals

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