Saturday, 28 July 2007

I recently (meaning a couple months ago) dumped my increasingly unreliable and time-consuming self-hosted POP and SMTP email server in favor of one of the big hosted service options available for free from a variety of sources. In my case I looked at several of the more ubiquitous options, and chose to go with Google Apps for my domain. A close second was Windows Live Custom Domains from Microsoft, but a couple missing critical features prevented me from going that route (namely access to my email via POP3). Since I am not worried about either company going away or anything, I went with the one that seems to best fit my needs as far as features and functionality are concerned. Getting the Blackberry client app for Google mail was another bonus.

However, I ran into two frustrating problems when I set up the Google Mail for greghughes.net and started accessing the email server via POP access from Thunderbird and my Blackberry Internet service.

First, I found that in some cases, once an email had been downloaded by any POP client, no others had access to download it. This is a problem if you're relying on having your email available in more than one place as I have taken for granted before.

Second, any emails sent to my own email address - the same one associated with the account - simply would not download via POP3 access, ever. Since my weblog sends email to me from my own email address (as do a couple other apps), this was a real problem. I could not really change the behavior of my applications, since doing so would break other aspects of the systems. Besides, every other mail server with POP3 support had always worked the same way (and worked just fine), so why was Google Mail's so different?

Well, it turns out there is a not-so-obvious option (not used by default) that allows you to resolve both of these issues. It's called "recent mode." Google explains it in their help in the context of the "how do I use multiple clients" issue, but the problem related to POP-ing messages sent to 'Me' is resolved as well. The solution relates to putting an overload modifier on the front end of the email account name when you log in (a little weird and probably sloppy, but perfectly functional). It's explained below. Too bad one can't just toggle the functionality as a permanent setting in the Google Mail web interface (you can set it for a one-time download option, but it always reverts to the default after that, so it appears the below option is the only way to permanently resolve this).

To solve the problem, you have to modify your login in your POP settings with the overloading prefix:

"yourname@yourdomain.com"

 needs to change to:

 "recent:yourname@yourdomain.com"

The following information is snipped from the Google GMail help center (since this applies to both the general GMail and Google Apps mail services):

If you're accessing your Gmail using POP from multiple clients, Gmail's recent mode makes sure that all messages are made available to each client, rather than only to the first client to access new mail.

Recent mode fetches the last 30 days of mail, regardless of whether it's been sent to another POP client already.

If you sign in to Gmail using your Blackberry, you're signed in to recent mode automatically. For all other POP clients, replace 'username@gmail.com' in your POP client settings with 'recent:username@gmail.com'.

Source: Gmail - Help Center - How should I use POP on mobile or multiple devices?



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Tech
Saturday, 28 July 2007 14:09:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 26 July 2007

I have used an Infocus X1 projector as my relatively inexpensive but good enough home theater equipment for a few years now. It's served me pretty incredibly well. We put a lot of hours on it, between the zillion movies, satellite TV, and extensive Xbox/Xbox360 use. It's not HD resolution and I will soon upgrade (as I have mentioned before), but for not it does the trick.

Anyhow, the other day we turned the projector on and it displayed a warning that there were only like 8 hours remaining on the bulb timer. When they released the projector, as I recall they rated the lamp (and timer) at 3,000 hours. Since then they re-rated it at 4,000 hours. Some people get that much out of a bulb, others don't.

Today my friend Cory and I went to start a movie (Wesley Snipes is The Contractor) and the projector would not fire up the lamp. Enough use had taken place in the past few days since we first saw the timer warnings to ensure the timer had run out. Even though the bulb was not burned out, the projector would not turn it on. I started searching for replacement lamps online and found I was going to have to spend between $260 and $300 in order to replace it (ouch - like I said, time for a new projector at this rate).

While searching for lamps, I decided before I spent that kind of money on a projector I intend to replace that maybe I should ask the Google gods a question in the form of keywords: x1 projector bulb timer wont start. I was lucky, even if I was not necessarily feeling it. The first search result was an Infocus support page that told me exactly what to do at the very end of the long list of equipment (it covers every other projector they have made in detail).

If your X1, X1a, X2, X3 projector's bulb timer has run down to nada and the bulb won't light anymore, do this: Power on the projector and you will probably see a flashing red light on the control panel. Press and hold the Volume + and the Volume – buttons simultaneously for 10 seconds. The projector will reset the lamp counter to zero hours and the lamp will start. Note that what I probably should have done when I started seeing the warning was to reset the timer to zero using the on-screen menu system, but once it goes dead the volume button reset is your only choice.

Turns out the same or a similar tactic applies to a number of their other projectors, too. Check here to find out what to do for your model.



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Tech
Thursday, 26 July 2007 22:01:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Well here's news via Digital Media Thoughts that the cost of the HD-DVD player for the Xbox 360 is suddenly cheaper. I bought mine about a month ago. I don't suppose they'll grandfather me in? Probably not...

"Today at Comic-Con International 2007, Microsoft Corp. announced it will lower the price of the popular Xbox 360(TM) HD DVD Player from $199 to $179 ERP (United States only) starting Aug. 1, 2007, and will add five free HD DVD movies for anyone purchasing an Xbox 360 HD DVD Player between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30. In addition, Microsoft further solidified the Xbox 360 as the ultimate high-definition (HD) entertainment platform, with key announcements around the HD DVD launches of "300" from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and "Heroes: Season 1" from Universal Studios."

This is a great deal, but let me give you even more incentive: most of the Xbox 360 HD DVD drives on store shelves also include the media remote, and King Kong on HD DVD. On top of that, through the Xbox Live Rewards program (which is free), you can get an additional 10% off at Circuit City. So to sum up: the drive, the remote, and six movies, for just $162. Hell of a deal!

Source: Digital Media Thoughts



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Tech
Thursday, 26 July 2007 12:30:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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CIO Magazine online has a great new article detailing the top ten thing you should never write in an email, as well as some other communication tips for business-types. It's decent advice and worth a read, for sure.

Here are the top-ten items (be sure to read the original story as well for the full meal deal):

Don’t Do That! 10 E-Mail No-Nos

1. Negative comments regarding your firm's executives. Too easy for someone else to forward accidentally.

2. Performance criticism. Seems more "official" than when spoken, causing people to worry too much.

3. Bonus or salary matters. Company plans may change.

4. Racial or gender slurs. Enough said.

5. Details relating to product liabilities. Court trail, anyone?

6. Lies about your company's rivals. Another ticket to legal trouble.

7. Office dish. If people want to spread their own news, let them.

8. Sloppy writing. Your image is at stake, even if you're hacking away on a BlackBerry.

9. Sarcastic humor. Without inflection or visual cues, it's risky.

10. Private matters. Don't e-mail details on any part of your life that you wouldn’t want to see in the newspaper.

Source: Dianna Booh

Been bit before? What else do you think should you never, ever put into an email?



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Management | Random Stuff | Things that Suck
Thursday, 26 July 2007 12:25:54 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Analogies and parables abound on the topics of life and business. One I have told a number of times over the years is the story about the two fire chiefs. Having worked in public safety it's one I can relate to. It's a paraphrase on other tales, and I have no real idea where it came from. Someone probably told it to me at some point long ago, probably to teach me a well-deserved lesson or two.

There are two kinds of fire chiefs.

The first stands on a hill surrounded by his lieutenants, captains, firefighters and others, overlooking the town his department is responsible for. Fires are popping up everywhere, and the chief orchestrates call after call to put out each fire, emphatically choreographing each move and lecturing to everyone about exactly what's going on and why. He is in control. What the townspeople don't notice or see are the captain, lieutenants and in some cases the chief himself running down the back side of the hill and into the town, occasionally tossing their lit cigarette butts into windows of cars and homes.

The second fire chief stands on the hill, watching for fires. They rarely pop up, but when they do his captains, lieutenants and firefighters follow their safe, practiced, professional training. They quickly and efficiently move to the fire scene, take care of business and then get back to the station to continue to stand watch. No one gets hurt, and the people who work at the department are happy in their profession.

Which chief do you think gets the public's attention, the recognition and the accolades? Which one would you trust with your life on the line? Which one would you trust with your job? How do you think each of these people got to be chief?

Talk is cheap, talk can be dangerous, and talk is not always about communicating. Agendas and drama often overshadow the real heroes in our world - those that lead from behind and instill a sense of worth, value and respect in the people they represent.

And therein lies the difference: As a manager, do your workers represent you, or do you represent them? Your answer carries important philosophical meaning, and coming to an honest conclusion might be difficult. Take time for introspection and you'll be a better person for it. But most importantly be honest with yourself, regardless of the answer. Without that, there is no way you can truly be honest with others. And without honesty there is nothing - Just a bunch of burned, smelly, water soaked buildings. But hey, at least the fire's out, right?



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Management | Random Stuff
Thursday, 26 July 2007 12:12:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Hanselborg Every now and then, despite the loss you feel and experience when someone leaves your place of work for something new, you get that true sense of "Wow!"

That's definitely the case this time around.

Scott Hanselman, with whom I have had the privilege to work for many years, has accepted a job at Microsoft where he will be diving into technology like never before - and that's really saying something. You may know his weblog and his podcast. Now he'll be inside Microsoft and as such delivering even more useful and thoughtful information and detail.

Congratulations, Scott. It's a big loss for the company to be sure, but a terrific gain for the broader community and a great opportunity for you. You're going to be awesome.



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Random Stuff | Tech
Tuesday, 24 July 2007 07:53:56 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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