Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Want to know how many minutes you have used this month? Turns out the mobile phone companies have some not-so-well-advertised numbers you can dial to find out exactly how many minutes you've used. They are:

  • #646# for Verizon and T-Mobile
  • *646# for at&t/Cingular
  • #4 for Sprint

Another tidbit of info to help watch the bottom line... Using directory assistance (411) service through the carrier can be quite expensive. So, consider using the Free411 service at 1-800-FREE411 (or 1-800-373-3411 for us numerically-challenged Blackberry types). The cost of using it is actually free, unless you consider the time it takes to listen to a short advertisement on each call. Heck, to save a buck a call, it's worth it I think.

Google Mobile allows you to send a text message to 46645 (google on the keypad) and get back all sorts of information. Check the Google Mobile page to learn about all the cool things you can do there. 

For business directory information, you can also call Google up at 800-GOOG-411 (800-466-4411)

Source: discovery.com/geek



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Mobile | Tech
Wednesday, July 11, 2007 8:52:08 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Yesterday my cyber-savvy, recently-retired and way-cool mom chatted me up on IM and asked me what she should do, because she was considering ditching the home phone, getting another cell phone so they can both have one, and using text messaging for spouse communication. Heh. Makes me wonder what kind of technology - you know, in "all the kids these days are using it" fashion - I'll be picking up on in 20 or so years. :)

Her goal was to save a few bucks, plus to get the advantages of text messaging to overcome some of the limitations with hearing impairments and cell phones. I suggested she look at her overall bundles plan with Quest, because right now they get mobile phone, Internet and home phone services all together.  She might also want to look at VoIP as an option, I suggested, but mostly she should call the phone company and talk to them about what unbundling would mean in terms of price. Also, telcos changes their offerings over time, and a bundle deal you got a year or two or three ago might not be the best deal available today.

As is often turns out, it was worth the call:

mom says:
I checked in with Quest (they are partnered with Sprint as it turns out) and the nice young fellow brought my various plans and bundling things and services more into line with current offerings and our usage....so, I saved about $45 a month with that little chat--good advice on your part.  I am going to get Jack a phone he can use so we can text message as a way to communicate.

Greg Hughes says:
cool

Greg Hughes says:
its always good to check in with them once a year to see if they can rebundle

mom says:
right, I just had not given it much thought until lately

Greg Hughes says:
they count on that heh

Just more proof that it's always pays to check in with your telco company and see what they have going. You could save some pretty serious bucks by doing so.



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Random Stuff | Tech
Wednesday, July 11, 2007 5:27:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, July 09, 2007

One of the cool new features in Windows Server 2008 (which is currently available in beta) is Network Access Protection. This feature allows network admins to set up comprehensive network controls to allow access only to the proper computers and users, and based on a set of "health" criteria determined by the admin. For example, let's say you want to require antivirus software to be up to date and patches installed before allowing a VPN connection to the LAN. NAP lets you do that. Wireless and wired networks can be significantly enhanced for local and remote access. It's the next wave of access management and control, and any IT network admin needs to get familiar. This is leaps and bounds above the "NAP-lite" capabilities from Server 2003.

This podcast interview with Jeff Sigman covers the subject well, and give you a quick preview into what the capabilities are. Listen, download the beta and give it a try.

RunAs Radio Show #13 | 7/4/2007 (34 minutes)
Jeff Sigman Gives Us Network Access Protection

The final installment of interviews from Microsoft Tech Ed US 2007 in Orlando, Richard and Greg talk to Jeff Sigman, the Release Manager for Network Access Protection (NAP). Jeff digs into exactly what NAP is all about, how it interact with Windows Server 2008, Vista and Windows XP.

Links: RunAs Radio web site and RSS feed

As always, we welcome your input and ideas for the show - Just email info@runasradio.com and let us know what's on your mind! We might even read your email on the air, and we are always interested to know what you would like to hear more about as we book our guests.



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IT Security | Safe Computing | Tech
Monday, July 09, 2007 2:17:23 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, July 08, 2007

IMG_0307Went out this evening for a hour or so ride with a friend on the dirt bike and ATV. Had a great time, but I need to remember when I come to a sudden end of a road, the front brake is not the first one to grab. I can't believe I did that.

Ouch. Thank God for helmets and gloves. Sorry for the detailed picture. A reminder's a reminder. And it's a knee, if you're trying to figure that out.

I've had one past motorcycle mishap that resulted in injury, which involved a deer in the roadway. This one was just me being stupid. I also had a ATV screw up once that I got a bit of a bruise on, and that's about it. This time, a couple bruised and beat up knees, some scrapes on my chest and a sore, sprained wrist are pretty much all the injuries I walked away with (plus a bit of a sprained ego, I suppose), which is excellent considering I went over the bars and straight into the packed gravel road. I did what I learned in sports as a kid - walked it off and got back on. And took it really easy the rest of the ride, heh.

Anyhow, I am posting this embarrassing moment to serve as a reminder to me and to others not to be a sloppy idiot on a motorcycle. The rear brake is down there by your right foot. Right foot good. Right hand bad.

Right foot, right foot, right, foot right foot, right f...

Doh!



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Personal Stories | Random Stuff | Things that Suck
Saturday, July 07, 2007 11:29:55 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, July 06, 2007

Another Fourth of July has come and gone. This year - as I have for several years past - I operated a public fireworks display, this time for the community of Walla Walla, Washington. It was my first time there, and I enjoyed the place and people. It was also my first time running a show in the state of Washington - the past seven or eight years of this have all been shows in Oregon. We shot the show in a sports park and school area on the VA grounds, and the audience was able to sit and watch from all angles around. There's a great hillside under a water tower nearby that makes for an optimum viewing spot.

My crew was terrific, and despite the fact that it was extremely hot (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny all day as we set up the show as well as the next morning while we finished cleaning up), we all had a good time and the show went off well - safe and to the cheers of the crowd. That's what we want. Even the playground sprinklers that came on automatically at around midnight while we were still cleaning up were no big deal, heheh. We just went back to the hotel for the night and returned in the morning.

Update: Travis wrote a bit about the crew experience at the show and Jenn posted some pretty terrific pics she shot.

Below is a video with some excerpts from the show. The video is five minutes long, which is a little more than one fifth of the actual length of the show (which came in at just under 25 minutes, right on target). So, you get a good flavor of the opener, mid-show shots and volleys, the build up to larger shells, some layered height effects, and of course the finale - which was pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself. Several thousand shells and pyrotechnic components from one inch to four inches in diameter made up the show.

I'll add a couple show setup pictures later today or this weekend. Enjoy.   : )



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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Friday, July 06, 2007 11:56:21 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, July 02, 2007

I dropped by an at&t wireless phone store yesterday while out cruising around, and checked out the iPhone, which they have a large stock of apparently. I walked in and asked, "Do you have one I can look at?" The answer was "we have lots you can buy if you want to." I got the impression there are a lot of lookers but not a lot of buyers. They certainly are not having stocking problems.

iphone1 Anyhow, I spent about 10 minutes checking out the phone, and overall I was pretty darned impressed. Certainly the overall user interface is great, and the screen is pretty amazing. I like the clean, simple, intuitive UI for sure. The Apple architecture and usability people did some pretty amazing work, and this is their first phone.

So again - I'm quite impressed. I considered buying one on the spot and my impulse-purchaser controls kicked in and I left. Important to take the time to do things like breathe. And think. Stuff like that.

So, it's great. There were a few things, though, that I had a hard time getting past during my quick run with this device phone piece of electronic art.

One of those things is the on-screen keyboard. Unless you use a finger and type one letter at a time (no thumb-typing here for sure), it's just not workable. So, if you're sending quick messages a short line at a time you're okay. But typing longer emails or notes won't work from a practical standpoint. For most users that's probably okay. For me that's a big deal.

Next, there's no 3G support - just EDGE. Which is cool in terms of keeping battery consumption minimal but not so fun in terms of data speed. However, the iPhone has WiFi capability, so in some cases there's a fast option.

One more thing I noticed - or at least could not intuitively find - is a lacking ability to copy and paste text. If someone knows how and it's possible, please let me know and I will go back and check that out.

Finally, the lack of some things that might be software-fixable (or I missed the options, so again, correct me if I am wrong): The camera appears to only do still pics, not video. I didn't see MMS capabilities but you can email images. I could not find a way to record audio. Again, all of these are software things so they can change (and this is, after all, the first release).

So - people have asked me the $600 question (I can't see buying the 4GB model, after all):

Will I buy one?

Not yet probably, but it's very very tempting.

I can actually see it happening soon though - and that's actually a surprise to me. I didn't expect to quite so won-over. It's that usable and that nice. Despite my nit-pick list above, overall I think it's great. The phone is sleek, fast, even artistic in it's UI experience. And the things it does, it does quite well. Everything else is left out (at least for now). That's refreshing compared to other models of "smart" phones that try to be everything to everyone and in the process get bogged down in their own usability, stability and performance weaknesses. Apple seems to know where to go as well as when to stop. Others could definitely learn a lesson from that.

Who else has tried one? What did you think?



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Mobile | Tech
Monday, July 02, 2007 10:35:52 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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