Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Fun

Contains Profanity, MAY NOT BE SAFE FOR WORK!

Yes, It broke my blog....I don't care.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What are your favorite QoL apps?

With the move, I've been forced to rework my way of interacting with my computers. I was hitting my limits previously with my other setup, but I finally hit the wall and needed a solution. So, here is a short list of applications I use to make my life easier. Best of all, they are FREE!

Got multiple computers? Got a Windows PC sitting next to a Mac with a Linux box near by but you don't want to deal with 3 or more keyboard mouse combos? Check this out. It lets you use your keyboard/mouse on one system and move your mouse to the computer right next to it, as if it was a single desktop spanning multiple monitors. Right now, I have it set up so that my Vaio is sitting to the left of my desktop, but I can copy paste between them and just use my main keyboard that is on my desktop.

Sun Virtual Box
I ranted about this WONDERFUL piece of software previously, but it is fast approaching the top of my indispensable apps. Today, I took its usage a step further an started working with "seamless" mode. In other words, I have my Windows 7 IE8 running on my XP Pro system and you don't have to juggle desktops.

Those who know me, know that I'm a big Unix fan. One of the things I love (that windows doesn't natively have) is Virtual Desktops. The idea is that you can have multiple workspaces on a single system. If you run a lot of apps, its nice to have. Linux and Macintosh also have them. Well, if you dig through the MS website, you can find an implementation of it for Windows. When you start working in Virtualbox it really unlocks the power of your system.

Magic ISO
A "virtual CD Rom" that allows you to just point at an ISO file and mount it like a CD. Saves lots of money on blank CDs.

Google Reader
This is the main Google App I actually use. I channel all my RSS subs through it and use that as a primary news source. It has a nice iPhone interface as well.

I can't get my friends to agree on IM software. So, I need a singular solution to keep up with all my friends. Enter Trillian. If you are familiar with Pidgin/Gaim then you get the idea. I wish they'd include GoogleTalk support.

Not something I was planning to include as it's not a "QoL" app per se. However, I use iTunes as my "Radio" when I'm working. I have a list of several Podcasts I download.

What apps do YOU use?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Run pee!

As many of my readers know, I have the bladder the size of a walnut. This presents a real problem when I go to the movies.


Excuse me, I have to go...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Primitive Internet and Big Disks

The new home does have DSL. This makes it possible to work and do light surfing...VERY light. According to Download: 2.58 Megabit, Upload: 0.39 Megabit. In my previous location, I was using Time-Warner's RoadRunner Turbo. I rather consistently got about 20 down and 2 up. This, coupled with the fact that my connection tends to drop 4 to 5 times a day for about 5 minutes, makes this really painful. Its no good to have a conference call drop part way through when you are getting critical information.

This means a slight bit of a change in my plans for Internet. Instead of having my friend run the wires for me, I'm biting the bullet and having AT&T add the drops I need so that I can have the fat data pipe. Here is hoping it goes well. I'm told that unlike Time-Warner which overloads their routers meaning that during peak times you aren't getting full advertised bandwidth, AT&T DOES give you the same pipe all the time. If that is so, then the "Max18" will be very nice watching Internet TV and not having problems downloading.

I've also made a bit of a change in my LAN setup. As previously mentioned, "Hermes" boot drive went kaput. I was able to recover my iTunes library off of it and it wasn't used for much beyond that and Instant Messaging, so I've decided to make a bit of an infrastructure change. On Monday, I went by Fry's and picked up a 1 Terabyte HDD for $92, an amazing price. I installed that on my MAIN desktop (Bender) and made that my primary drive. Because of the prevalence of Virtual Machines and the CPU I have (Opteron 185 - a little old, but still somewhat peppy) I could reduce my hardware needs to a single desktop and single laptop. It seemed to me that this would make my network easier to manage and cheaper as I wouldn't need to be keeping up with 2 systems worth of hardware needs and reduce the amount of heat produced by my "Data Center". With this, my next task will be to attempt to balance two network cards and set it so that iTunes doesn't accidentally try to download data over my work's VPN.

It seemed to me that as I did this I would be able to test the setup I'm eventually wanting in the event I can get the MacPro that I want as it wouldn't be terribly dissimilar.

Monday, May 18, 2009

So much for Hermes

I've finished moving all my stuffs over to the new home and I've set up the desktops. Sadly, the computer I use for Instant Messaging and iTunes didn't survive the move. While it's only a dead hard drive, it is where the iTunes data lived. I knew the drive was going bad as it failed when I last tried to perform a backup, but I was really hoping to not have to do the hard data recovery.

Oh Well.

Next step will be to try to get the data off of it, so I can get my data off of it. I think I may see about using Virtual box to create a "virtual Hermes" to run on. It will be a move toward my "single computer solution" that I want.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Give Thanks....

Give thanks for the life and pray for the soul of Elizabeth. She will be missed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

If you pray...

Pray for "Elizabeth and those who love her."

Monday, May 11, 2009


In my previous ramblings I've talked about wanting a Mac Pro, wanting to try Linux, and the pitfalls of Software Quality Assurance. I've recently come across an app that applies to ALL of these topics: VirtualBox.

VirtualBox is a free virtualization application. For the uninitiated, it is software that runs on your computer that pretends to be another computer to a "guest" operating system. If you are familiar with Parallels for the Mac or VMWare, you know what I'm talking about. I started toying around with this in hopes of coming up with an answer to the "I don't have the hardware to test that" problem, and I was rewarded. Using my works MSDN license (remember, I'm not using the Windows installations for anything but testing) I managed to install on my XP Pro box: Windows XP Home, XP Pro (different config from the host), Windows Vista, and Windows7. Just for fun, I also installed Ubuntu.

Here is a pic of it in action....

Top Left : Windows XP Pro - running IE 6
Bottom Center : Windows Vista
Top Right : Windows 7

As far as the computers on my network are concerned, these are just other physical systems connected. The Vista installation is running IE7 and the Windows 7 installation is running IE8. Not surprisingly, Vista seems to have some quirky behaviour when trying to operate in the Virtual Environment. It has a problem recognizing everything it needs to know about the "computer" it's running on. I guess that is to be expected.

The only real problem I've run into with this configuration is that it scoops up memory FAST. I have 3GB of RAM on my system (I run the 32-bit version of XP) and so I can't really install more memory.

Toying around with Ubuntu on a virtual machine is nice as I'm able to do this with a full safety net - something I previously could not do.

Virtualbox is available for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux, if you are interested in hardware virtualization, you won't regret it.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Star Wars: The Old Republic


Nothing to say

Sorry, I'm tapped for inspiration at the moment.

Been moving - working - and such...

If any MMO news gets posted today, I'll update this with that.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Yes, that's right. Despite the fact that the 3 people who read my blog already know this, I'm posting it! In two weeks, my house will be as vacant as my expression. I will be moving to an undisclosed location where I'll be residing!

Seriously though, as I look to moving in with my sweetie, I thought I'd take a moment to post some plans. A certain redneck I know has cut me a deal to run Cat-6 Ethernet cable through the house - prepping it for AT&T U-Verse and to be worthy of my data. I am going to have to have a basic sit down with him w/r to this to make sure that I know everything I need to know for having a house that is ready for the uber-network.

As I see it, I'm going to have "Drops" (RJ-45 connectors): Living Room, My Office, Master Bedroom, Guest Room. Living Room and Master Bedroom are generally for TV watching. Of course, for my office, I'm sticking my home router on it, and running my PC setups.

I'm sure that you are wondering why I'm going all out for Cat-6, when I just need enough for basic U-Verse and then run Wireless? While it is true, that getting a bunch of wireless network cards would probably be good enough, there are a few problems I have.

First of all, the bandwidth I can get with the Cat-6 is higher than the wireless bandwidth. Admittedly, this is the weakest reason since most CPUs can't drive the data at a speed that would make that much of a difference. However, as my systems improve, it will eventually make a difference.

Secondly, I'm worried about interference. The fact is, wireless is becoming more and more popular in the world. I am expecting to see a LOT more wireless networks in my neighborhood which will need to compete with the "airspace". I'm sorry, but my bits are too important for that.

Third, ease of configuration. Getting a system to talk to a secured wireless network is a PAIN! I don't want to mess with that. I want to have it hook up and go!

So, short and sweet, and data-riffic!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Go to your favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Thinking of a new production machine


Sorry, I had to use that joke.

As Bender gets a little longer in the tooth, and one of my backup systems is getting flaky, I've started looking at what it would take to get a new system, to be named "Turanga". After doing some thinking and research and thinking, I've decided that I'm going to bite the bullet when the time comes and get a Mac Pro (I can hear Chris 'squeeing' from here as he reads this).


First of all, the Mac OS is "an Open Brand UNIX 03 Registered Product, conforming to the SUSv3 and POSIX 1003.1 specifications for the C API, Shell Utilities, and Threads." This is a big deal for me, because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Unix. I can make it sing and dance. I also love being able to "kill -9 (bad process)". I miss being able to use Unix regularly.

Secondly, while it is a Unix variant, Mac OSX runs "MS-Office", "iTunes", and a few other snazzy pieces of software I'm interested in.

Third, not only can I dual boot Windows, I can run Windows IN Mac using "parallels". Furthermore, it appears I can run several CONCURRENT instances of Windows. This is a big dealio for me. BUT, if I want to play a PC-Only game, I can fire up Windows under bootcamp and have NO overhead (except for Windows).

Fourth, I have an iPhone and, well, I've been VERY impressed by Apple support when I've had problems. I go in and I get my probs fixed fast.

Finally, because the Mac is actually a very standard set of hardware that is rather commonly used, I shouldn't have any probs with support of non-Apple software (Like if I need a Windows driver for standard Apple hardware). I still get 2 quad-core CPUs that will keep the system running several concurrent tasks nicely.

Something like this
Two 2.93GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
6GB (6x1GB) <- Cheaper to upgrade later with non-mac RAM
1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s <- OSX
1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s <- Windows
2x NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB
One 18x SuperDrive
Apple Mighty Mouse
Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad (English) and User's Guide
Country Kit

Sadly, this is a ways off. BUT, I think this will be the best choice. It gives me the most options and the most solid choice of system.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Dresden Files

As I posted on Wednesday, I started reading on my iPhone's Kindle application. I realized that a number of my friends were reading a series of books by Jim Butcher called "The Dresden Files". As of the time of this writing, I'm on the third book, "Grave Peril".

How to describe this?

Imagine if Mike Hammer could cast spells. Imagine if Sam Spade had to thwart evil wizards, fae, and other supernatural critters. Hopefully, you get the idea.

To be sure, I would not call this great literature, but then again, I've never been a fan of high-brow fiction, preferring instead the Sherlock Holmes, John Carter series, and Harry Potter. However, these books are fun reads that present decent mysteries. There is a fair amount of action and interesting plot twists.

I recommend these books if you just want fun stories to lose yourself in.