Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I recently took advantage of an in-store offer to replace my water-damaged 16GB iPhone 3G with a 8GB version for $199 with no contract extensions, just paid the money and walked out with it. And in my case I got to keep the old one, which makes a great WiFi-enabled MP3 player.

Apparently (according to reports) it's now official policy/program now for Apple stores to allow problematic iPhones where the water damage sensors (there are four of them) have been "tripped" (discolored do to extended water exposure) to be replaced with the same size and model for $199. That's a great move for people like me who do things like ski, boat and oh, I dunno... Live in the freakin' rain.

So, if you have a problematic iPhone that you have been told is not covered under warranty, you might be able to take advantage of this policy.

More info here.



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Apple | Mobile | Tech
Tuesday, May 05, 2009 9:21:33 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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When the now-long-forgotten HD disc format wars were just barely getting started, I jumped on the bandwagon early and bought the HD-DVD add-on drive for the Xbox 360 (at the original higher price, even). I also purchased a number of HD movies in the "Red" (HD-DVD) format and soon discovered the wonders of 1080p movies at home on the Xbox 360.

Ultimately, Blu-ray won the battle to determine which of the two competing formats would survive to become the industry standard. Today I rent Netflix movies in Blu-ray format whenever they are available, and there's nothing like the experience of great movies in high-definition in the home theater room with a 120-inch 1080p projected image and the sound cranked up.

I'm one of those people that buys movies I especially like or one that I'll want to watch again in the future. Unless it's really a favorite I'm more likely to rent from Netflix. Ever since the death of the red disc and the day I bought a PS3 (essentially to use as a Blu-ray player), I've wished I could play all my HD movies on the one device, just for simplicity's sake. But it doesn't work that way. I still hope for the day when a Blu-ray drive comes available for the Xbox 360, but I'm not holding my breath or anything.


Today I was reading blog posts from the past couple weeks and I saw that my friend Travis Illig recently mentioned a service from Warner Brothers called Red2Blu that allows you to take your HD-DVD's from that label and trade them in for the Blu-Ray version for a small fee per disc ($4.95). After creating a list of the Warner Brothers HD-DVDs you have at home on their web site and paying the upgrade fee with a credit card, you'll print out the PDF shipping label they provide, and then mail WB the cover art sleeves from the HD-DVDs you're converting to Blu-Ray. A FAQ covering common topics can be found here.

I just printed my shipping label and pulled all my cover art out of the HD-DVD cases. I'll ship it all off to WB tomorrow. It'll be nice to make the movie library a bit more consistent. I'll need to look to see if any of the other publishing companies have a similar program, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that all but three of my HD-DVDs were from the WB label, so I'm pretty well covered. Here are the discs I'm able to convert:



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Movies | Tech
Monday, May 04, 2009 11:25:31 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tech Crunch posted a list of Easter eggs - little hidden software treasures you have to search for inside a program to find. It's a good list, and has a few that I had forgotten about. Among those is what some say is the original software Easter egg (I beg to differ, it might be the first video game Easter egg - but we can save that for another day), from way back in 1979 in the Atari Adventure game (wow, I remember playing that one when it was new!).

Of course, Easter eggs aren't limited to software. DVDs have become a popular place to hide fun little things, too. The Lost DVDs are a good example of discs that have extra stuff you have to poke around to find. Web sites are also often sources of Easter egg fun, and http://www.eeggs.com/ is a good site to find out how to find the in a wide variety of places.

There are nine others in the TechCrunch list, plus a couple more scattered around in the (off-topic) comments. Check it out over at TechCrunch.com.



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Geek Out | Random Stuff | Tech
Sunday, April 12, 2009 5:22:51 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I had breakfast with a friend the other day. He's been writing some really cool iPhone apps and mentioned that he's wanting to focus for the future on apps that can be written and maintained cross-platform. He'll prefer to leave out the platform-specific "extra" functionality, he said, in order to be able to do the bulk of the work once and maximize the deployable surface area.

I got to thinking about this the rest of the day and came up with a whole list of questions for my friend. It's an interesting and logical approach, and certainly not wrong by any stretch of the means. Contrasted against the common move by devs to focus only on the iPhone platform for example, my friend's approach really makes me think. Now, to be clear, I have no idea what it takes to actually deploy an app to the iPhone and also have a version to deploy on Android or RIM devices, or on the upcoming Palm Pre (which looks really cool, by the way), or whatever. At least not without writing each one from scratch. My friend does, though. What I took from our conversation (as a business guy) was that it can be done at least to some extent, but that doing it in a cost-effective way means limiting functionality on any given platform. I may be oversimplifying, and in fact I probably am.

Then today I noticed that Mike Rowehl, who writes "This is Mobility," just posted an interesting article entitled "Please don't mistake my apathy for a lack of understanding," in which he takes on the recent meme suggesting that mobile developers are blindly leaving platforms other than Apple's behind, suck os Nokia's Ovi Store.

Which leads me to ask the obvious question: "What the heck is Nokia's Ovi Store?"

Granted, I'm not buying tons of mobile devices and deploying them like I used to, and certainly I'm not a mobile developer, but I'm still pretty well plugged-in (irony intended).

My past involvement in cross-platform development and porting of apps taught me that it's almost always a complicated and expensive endeavor. But it's not just building the app for the first time that one has to consider. Maintaining multiple platforms of the same app is can also be prohibitively expensive, unless there's a relatively simple and effective way to build once and deploy in many places/platforms. In the mobile world, it just isn't simple, cost effective and reliable enough (from what I can see).

And honestly, I want to choose the best devices and buy apps that take advantage of all the cool features those devices offer. I don't often want apps that leave out the latest hardware features and software enhancements.

Who's doing cross-platform mobile development and truly making it work? How are you doing it? If you've found the way, drop me a line - I'd like to hear about it.



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Mobile | Tech
Sunday, April 12, 2009 5:03:07 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, April 11, 2009

For anyone who follows the "I always wait for the first service pack" method of deploying products, your excuse for waiting on SQL Server 2008 disappeared this past week, because SP1 for Microsoft SQL Server 2008 is now available.

Among the features, I like the slipstream install capability (install SQL server and the service pack in the same installation process), and the ability to uninstall the service pack separately.

Service Pack 1 for SQL Server 2008 is now available to customers. The Service pack is available via download at Download Center and is primarily a roll-up of Cumulative Updates 1 to 3 and minor fixes made in response to requests reported through the SQL Server community. While there are no new features in this service pack, customers running SQL Server 2008 should download and install SP1 to take advantage of the fixes which increase supportability and stability of SQL Server 2008.

The complete announcement is here.



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Tech
Saturday, April 11, 2009 3:41:43 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, March 23, 2009

UPDATE: We've had a great response and have assigned all of our beta invitations for the first round of testing, but please check the details below and let me know if you think you'd be able to help in a future phase!

I'm working with a software company to test some cool software that's currently in the early beta stage of development. The software is of a security nature and will be of interest to IT and security folks as well as individual computer users. We're looking for people with netbooks and notebook computers, especially ones with webcams built in, to test the software and provide feedback.

You'll be provided a test key and the beta software, and will need to honor the confidentiality provisions of the test program. It's nothing too complicated and the test risks are very small. You'll install the software, run through a few operational tests and let us know the results. We will ask first for technical results ("Did this work?") as well as your opinions and thoughts, should you wish to provide them.

What you'll need to provide and have available for the test:

  • One or more notebook or netbook computers
  • Computer(s) must be running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7
  • If it has a webcam built in, all the better (but not required)
  • A Flickr account (basic account is fine)
  • An email account and server information (for application configuration to allow sending of email alerts)

What you'll get as a result of testing and providing feedback:

  • A free copy of the release version of the software when it's released (and you'll be glad you have it installed if your computer is ever lost or stolen, hint hint)
  • Satisfaction and a sincere thank-you from me and the developers of the software

This software is quite interesting and has a lot of promise to provide real security value when it hits the streets, so we want to find as many complete test cases as we can. If you're interested, please email me at greg@greghughes.net and provide the details about your system, OS, etc - or call me at 503-766-2258. We are testing now, so let me know!

And thanks!



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Geek Out | IT Security | Safe Computing | Tech | Windows
Monday, March 23, 2009 5:26:09 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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