Tagged: Computers

Get 3G internet access in Paris, France on your iPad

If you are a true geek and you are visiting Paris and you have an iPad (if you are a true geek then you do) then your first stop has to be the Louvre. Mary Magdelene may not be buried under the upside down pyramid but there is a shrine just as holy right there - an Apple store!
[![Apple Store at the Louvre][2]][2]

[]: /2010/06/27/get-3g-internet-access-in-france-on-your-ipad/apple-louvre/

Drop in there and chat with any of the guys in blue shirts. Tell them you want an SFR 3G microsim card. Most of the guys speak English and are really nice. The card will get you three days of unlimited data access and costs 9 euros. After that you can recharge the card at any kiosk around town - one day costs 6 euros. Do the math. Buying more sim cards is cheaper than trying to find a so I just bought two.

Don't buy the ATT international plan before you come over and do take your microsim card out on the plane. If you don't have a plan data costs about $24 a meg. If you do have a plan it costs...

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Mac OSX and the Samsung ML1740 on a network

I'm mostly posting this so I don't forget since it seems like I have to reinstall my printer driver often enough to be annoying but not often enough to remember. I run my Samsung 1740 on my wife's computer and share it to the other computers on my network. The driver isn't built in so you have to go hunt it down on the net.

UPDATE: The old driver is no longer available but Splix is working fine. Download and install Splix: http://guigo.us/mac/splix/.

I have my Samsung plugged into my Airport so the computer finds it just fine but couldn't find drivers. After install Splix on Mavericks all I had to do was add a printer and tell it to use the 'Generic drivers' and everything worked.

You'll only need the following if you have the printer connected to a Windows machine and are sharing that printer: UPDATE: In order to add the printer you will need to do the following:

  1. Access the 'Advanced' dialog. On Snow Leopard do this by right clicking on the tit...

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My Macbook Pro, the Single Link DVI cable and the Not so Genius Apple Bar

I and Callie took the kids to Salt Lake a while back so they could go to the Children's Museum at the Gateway. They had a great time. At the end of the day we wandered around the area a bit and since there is an Apple store I dropped in to see if they could solve my problem.

I told my wife it would only be a few minutes. Several hours later a finally got to talk to some high school kid that knew how to turn on the Mac and crop a photo in Photoshop but other than that they were pretty worthless. At least the store looks cool.

My journey to the Apple store started when I switched my monitory input. I have a 24" Dell monitor and I plug my Macbook Pro into that. As long as I used my DVI to VGA adapter the Macbook Pro would automatically detect when the monitor was plugged in. I figured that since I used my Mac almost exclusively these days I would use the DVI input for the better picture. However, when I started plugging directly into the DVI cable the Macbook Pro no longer recogn...

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Maybe I Should be a Computer Tech

My wife's computer finally died. I mean really died. For about ten minutes I could push the power button and it would just barely turn on and then it would immediately shut down. Then it stopped turning on all together. It is an old Dell Dimension 8400. There are two things that can go wrong with these things. (OK, there are like a million things that can go wrong, but these computers have two that go wrong a lot). The first one is that the power supply goes bad. The second is that the capacitors on the mother board self destruct. If problem number two happens then unless you are really good with a soldering iron you need to recycle your computer and look for some killer deals. If problem number one happens then got to Newegg and find a cheap 350 Watt power supply. Mine cost $13.

We lucked out that the power supply was the problem. I don't really feel like adding more computers at the moment. I have more computers than children. That isn't right.

The joy of my tech support ...

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So I am a Big Geek

I had to reboot the server in my office closet this evening. That's when I realized that I am a really big nerd. I have a server in my closet with RAID 5 to backup the other computers in the house. I have so many now that I actually have to count them to remember the exact number. Sitting on top of my server I have a rack mount server that is just sitting there. I keep thinking I'll do something with that someday.

The computers are only a small part of the equation. As I rebooted the server I looked around at the stacks of Star Wars Legos. I've collected them for years. I love Star Wars Legos. (I am even geeky enough to know that 'Legos' isn't the actual term and that Lego zealots will throw a fit, but I like the term Legos and this is my blog.

Completing out my geek license is the fact that I have an enormous tub full of cables, circuit boards and electrical components that would put Radio Shack to shame. I pay the outrageous cable prices simply so I can get th...

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New Apple Laptops – I’m so Excited

I've been wanting to buy a Macbook pro for a while now. I hate to be yet another one of those Apple nuts but I have been waiting for Oct 14 ever since the rumor came out that Apple would be announcing new laptops on that date. Since they hadn't said anything I was getting nervous, but it is official:

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/08/10/09/apple_to_hold_special_macbook_event_october_14th_after_all.html

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Amazon S3, Jungle Disk and the new way to backup

Not long ago I wrote a rather unflattering review of Mozy. I feel bad in a way because I still believe that the concept is good. I haven't played with the software recently but I am guessing that my voice was loud enough to influence significant change.

I am fine with that.

There are a number of other companies that offer similar services. However, at the end of the day I think the simple solution is the one I will go with. In fact I went with it. It took me 15 minutes to setup one night and it now costs me literally pennies to backup my data.

Step One: Download Jungle Disk. This nice little app makes it simple to send files to S3 and it is cheap - $20.

Step Two: Get a key from Amazon. They'll want your credit card.

Step Three: Tell jungle disk to automatically backup specific files to amazon.

The cool thing is that Jungle Disk is easy to use and will walk you through getting a key and setting up your backups. It also won't fill your temp drive with random crap.

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Mozy.com’s Backup Software is Shit

Yes you read that right. I used to love this company. The concept is great - backup your data online for dirt cheap. Install the software and away you go. They backup everything and even encrypt your data for security. You get cheap backups and they get a little bit of money. I thought this was the total bomb so I installed in on my server. My live server. My live Windows server. I am such a moron.

The first problem I ran into was a full temp directory on my main drive. Windows servers don't like that at all so I get in touch with their tech support and they tell me to change my environment variables and point the temp drive somewhere else. I figure that is an OK solution so I point the temp folder to a dedicated drive with 20 Gigs of free space. A few days later I start getting warnings that the disk is low on space. "That is odd," I think, but I am busy and kind of lazy and I will get to it later. Why worry? My data is backed up.

I deploy a new copy of my website (ThePl...

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Email Sucks

In a job interview a long time ago I was asked what I hate to do the most. At the time my response was, "write USB device drivers." I had to do that at Sorenson Vision and I hated it. When you write device drivers you can really mess up a system. You screw up a pointer (C code) and the computer will reboot over and over ad infinitum. Then you get to rebuild the machine. Oops. The other problem was that you always got blamed when the system didn't work whether it was your fault or not.

Random employee: "Hey look, the computer's on fire." QA: "We think it was caused by a bad device driver."

I hated those QA guys.

Today I hate email servers and Microsoft Exchange more than I hate USB drivers. I have been trying to migrate emails from an exchange server at Intermedia.net to gmail. I hate Intermedia's exchange servers. The past two days have been filled with click, wait 30 seconds, click wait, copy paste.

I hope their servers burn in hell.

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No I Won’t Fix Your @!#$!@#$ Computer

I am a software engineer. That means a lot of things. It means I can write code. It means I can talk about servers and argue about what programming languages are best (Check out PPH for the standard measure for programming languages.) It means I can build a cool website or write scripts that help my wife manage photos. Do something annoying and I can hack your computer and make it belch every time you open the CDROM Drive. (Don't piss me off or it can get uglier).

One thing I will not do is fix your computer.

I know there are a lot of you out there that fall into the same 'known geek' category. You are the guy that gets introduced as 'knowing about computers'. The typical response from the party hearing this is, "great, now I know who to call when I have problems."

No you don't.

Asking a software engineer to fix your computer is like asking a GM automobile engineer to come over and look at your 1983 Volvo because it is leaking oil. Sure he understands ...

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No I Won’t Fix Your @!#$!@#$ Computer

I am a software engineer. That means a lot of things. It means I can write code. It means I can talk about servers and argue about what programming languages are best (Check out PPH for the standard measure for programming languages.) It means I can build a cool website or write scripts that help my wife manage photos. Do something annoying and I can hack your computer and make it belch every time you open the CDROM Drive. (Don't piss me off or it can get uglier).

One thing I will not do is fix your computer.

I know there are a lot of you out there that fall into the same 'known geek' category. You are the guy that gets introduced as 'knowing about computers'. The typical response from the party hearing this is, "great, now I know who to call when I have problems."

No you don't.

Asking a software engineer to fix your computer is like asking a GM automobile engineer to come over and look at your 1983 Volvo because it is leaking oil. Sure he understands ...

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How to manage 60,000 digital photos

QUICK UPDATE: If you want reliable backups for you photos check out my post on using S3.

A friend of mine was surprised that I don't have a Flickr account. I am try to keep up with the cool kids and keep accounts on many of the so called web 2.0 services. So why don't I have a Flickr account?

We use Picasa. How very uncool of us. The reason why however has to do with how we manage our photos - all 60,000 at last count and growing. For years we tried to manage our collection using Adobe Photoshop Elements. However, the application strained under the weight of so many pictures and soon became completely unusable. Before Photoshop Elements there wasn't really a mainstream application and I considered writing my own, but I already have enough code to write and so I gave that up. There were many applications from small independent developers and many were even recommended by users on various forums. However, none was simple enough for my wife to use.

Then Google bought Picasa an...

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xbox 360 woes

My xbox 360 died over the Christmas break. It had worked flawlessly for about 6 months. I turned it off before we went to visit my parents for a few days. When we came back I got the three flashing red lights of death. I did the reset and tried all the suggestions on the support website. It kind of hobbled along for a few days and then it failed to even boot. So I call support. Some guy in India tells me that they will fix it. Good deal. They have to send me a box that takes a week. I have to send it back. That takes two weeks. I am without the xbox for almost a month.

I am not a big xbox gamer. We use the xbox mainly as an extender for media center. It has done a great job at that. I can deal with the xbox being gone for a while.

So finally I get a new one. That is good. They replace it. I look at the date. The 'new' xbox is actually older than the one I sent in. I decide that is not a big deal. How different can they be?

A lot.

The first thing I notice is that the power butto...

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Computer Theories

I have a degree in electrical engineering so I know a lot about computers so there. Over the past five years I have been formulating my primary theory regarding the fundamental nature of computers.

I post it to the world now because my Mac crashed yesterday.

Here it is: There are millions of very intelligent educated people in this world who know how to do very complicated things like design bridges and fix cars and build big buildings and so on. You and I know these people. Some of them are old - old used to be 30 but I am 30 now so from now on I define old as older than me. Some of them are young. They all have one thing in common. They own a computer and shouldn't. These are the guys that annoy you when they get a new printer and ask you to come install it. However, those of us who know how to use computers should be very glad that they have computers and try to use them. This is why....

As per my education, my theory of computers is thus: If the person is not smarter than the c...

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Setting up new Macbook pro

I am trying to set a new Macbook pro to boot Mac OSX and Windows with a third partition for data. It is a pain, but here is a good resource to help you get started. I managed to mess up the partitions. If you do that you will need to boot off the install disk then use gpt to delete any extra partitions that you have created. The man page for gpt is here. I also found this post about setting up and deleting partitions helpful.

As far as steps to make it work. Follow the first link. If you mess up like I did you will need to use gpt to delete the volumes. The command looks like this: sudo gpt remove -i 3

Then you will need to use gpt to recreate the volumes: sudo gpt add (Look at the man page. The options will depend on how large you want the partition to be and at which sector you want the partition to start. It is a little low level but follow the instructions on the gpt man page and you will be just fine.)

Next you need to boot into OSX and format the partitions. Use diskutil eraseVa...

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