Tuesday, 26 February 2008

imageMine iPhone's jail-broken to let me use a couple truly-useful apps written by third parties, so I'll just wait a few hours before I apply this update from Apple, but early reports are that this new version of the iPhone/Touch firmware can be jail-broken using ZIPHONE (for the adventurous only of course), but note that the author (Zibri) says not to upgrade yet, and to wait for him to create a quick update. No problem. I like having my NetFlix queue available, so jail-breaking is in the cards for me.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog has all the goods and is updating with more info as they discover the details of this firmware release. So far bug fixes seems to be the official word.

Nice that Apple's supplying regular fixes. I'm not exactly counting on being pleasantly surprised and finding things like 802.1x and a whole slew of other needed enhancements, though. Hopefully some day.

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Mobile | Tech
Tuesday, 26 February 2008 11:51:36 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I'm sitting in a local Starbucks, doing the ol' WiFi and latte thing. A sign posted on the door as you enter tells customers that the store is closing today at 5:30 p.m. for sbux_cuptraining. According to CNN, the entire chain is doing this, to provide every one of its 135,000 baristas (hmm, that's a lot of workers per location eh?) with training intended to improve the customer-coffee experience.

Good move. I've been a little disappointed from time to time over the past year or so with the declining consistency and quality of my expensive habit. Here's to hoping things get a little better. The chain needs it.

Personally, I won't be heading to Dunkin' Donuts while the training is in progress because I don't need more caffeine that late in the day. But if you do, rumor has it they're running a 99-cent special starting at 1:00 p.m.

Sidebar: When did 99 cents become a "special" price for a cup of coffee? I must be getting old.

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Random Stuff
Tuesday, 26 February 2008 11:11:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 24 February 2008

It's a little strange, I suppose, even though I have this fancy home theater projector and sound set up in a room allocated just for that purpose, that my living room TV would a 12-or-so-year-old RCA rear projection set. The old RCA is a reliable, still-going strong, 53" wood cabinet model. But it has a glossy screen and reflects light like a mirror. It's hard to watch anything when it's light outside, for sure. the place where the TV lives provides the perfect angle for reflecting the view out the french doors.

New LG LCD 42" HDTV This weekend, Fry's electronics has a great sale on a 42" LG 1080P LCD HDTV (model 42LB5D) on sale for $997.00 (also available online for that price as of the time of this writing, with very reasonable shipping), which is a steal no matter how you look at it. Best Buy's price is around $1599, and you can find it online for around $1200 if you look hard enough. But the Fry's advertised price this weekend was something else entirely.

After a day of thinking about it, I decided it was a good enough deal to take advantage of, and that it would be nice to reclaim some space in my living room. At Best Buy they were willing to match the Fry's price for me last night (frankly, I'd prefer to purchase at Best Buy, but I was open to the alternative if they could not match), and so I drove into town and picked up my new living room TV for $600 less than the floor price and took it home. Score!

It was 11pm by the time we got back home and I was tired, but that's never really stopped me. We set it up and turned it on. In short, as I expected, it's an amazing difference. The LG set is very, very bright and has a great picture, and with 3 HDMI inputs and a variety of others, I'm set. We hooked up a HDMI up-converting DVD player and watched American Psycho (wow, what a film, heh). Color me impressed.

This morning I was able to watch anything I wanted with the blinds pulled open and the sun shining in the windows. I'm a happy camper.

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Geek Out | Random Stuff | Tech
Sunday, 24 February 2008 14:00:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 21 February 2008

Looks like Vista SP1 for the 64-bit version of the OS is now available publicly on Windows Update. No sign of the 32-bit version yet, but I'm glad to get it for this particular computer.



Knowledge Base article KB936330 is available, as is the release-notes publication at TechNet.

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IT Security | Tech
Thursday, 21 February 2008 14:31:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 20 February 2008

fortuneLast night I got Chinese food from the local place and took it home.

After the meal I broke open my fortune cookie. I handed the paper to a friend of mine to read since I didn't have my glasses on and for all I knew I was trying to read it upside down (turns out I was).

I thought my friend was messing with me when he read it out loud.

Anyone have any suggestions at this point? Tin foil hats or garlic or something?

I'm saving this one.

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Humor | Random Stuff
Wednesday, 20 February 2008 09:39:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Recently my Outlook 2007 connection to my Google Apps mail account became increasingly slow and sluggish, to the point of extreme frustration. Slow syncs and a general sense of bloat were ruining my experience and making it close to unusable. During email syncs my system would practically hang as Outlook churned away.

Not acceptable. I either needed a solution or I needed to replace my email, contacts and calendaring solution. It was that bad. Now, I really have no desire to leave Outlook. It works great for me. What I needed was a fix, which was preferable to a wholesale replacement. I know Thunderbird works well, but at least for now it's just not an Outlook equal replacement.

So, I searched today for a solution and - what do you know - quickly found an article on Digital Inspiration that helped me clean up my server configuration and improve performance substantially. With the huge onslaught of spam over the past couple months, my GMail spam folder had grown to be HUGE, so removing that from the sync was probably a big deal. Also, I set up the inbox to grab headers only (different than the article suggests). In addition, I disabled a couple unused but active Outlook add-in's as described in this article.

The results? A speedy Outlook and no more hung apps. The sync with the Google IMAP servers is much faster. I actually can't believe I put up with the bad performance as long as I did. All resolved now.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2008 21:27:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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favor_day Favor Day is coming on March 12th, and it's being organized on Facebook. Nothing quite like doing something simple and kind for someone else to make the world a better place. You should be a part - spread the word!

Here's how you celebrate Favorday -- on Favorday, March 12th, 2008, you do planned favors for people, just like you would plan on giving a gift to somebody for the holidays. Any kind of favor can suffice, whether its "I'm going to rub my girlfriend's feet" or "I'm going to clean my neighbor's garage" Favorday is for celebrating each other.

You can help by inviting your friends to celebrate Favorday with you!

By the way, I am on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=584484571

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Helping Others | Random Stuff
Tuesday, 19 February 2008 13:09:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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It's official: The format war is over.

I'm not one bit ashamed to say I've been a HD-DVD guy ever since I made the shift to watching movies in the amazing world of hi-def last June. I've enjoyed the red label discs, I appreciate the combo-format packages, and it was HD-DVD that pushed me into doing a lot of research into 1080p projectors and then purchasing one that I have been very happy with.

I also bought a HD-DVD player for my dad and his significant other's new home the day after thanksgiving, and another one for my mom and step dad over the Christmas holiday. If nothing else, they play regular DVDs on their hi-def (1080p) sets beautifully. Too bad the HD-DVD format looks like it's officially out. Glad I got good prices and minimized the "damage." I suppose I'll probably be buying replacement hardware soon eh?

At any rate, with Netflix, Wal Mart, an ever-expanding list of film studios, Best Buy and others making announcements about either going exclusive Blu-ray or favoring the format... Well anyhow I have a question. :)

Which Blu-ray players should I be seriously looking at? Is there a no-brainer, best-bang-for-the-buck option out there? I'm not really interested in PS3 games, so swaying me in that direction might be tough. I'm looking for full 1080p coverage via HDMI. I can (and do) hope that a Blu-ray player for the Xbox 360 is in the works, but until that happens I have to see what else is out there, and it's not something I've paid full attention to.


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Tuesday, 19 February 2008 11:23:29 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 14 February 2008

IBM Internet Security Systems' X-Force has released its annual report outlining the malicious software threat and trending landscape. In a nutshell, things are getting more complicated (landscape-wise) and the impact is becoming more technically complex. Read the report and you can directly glean as well as infer certain facts.

As malware becomes harder and harder to catch in real-time using currently-available technology (a trend that has become quite clear over the past year or more) and as the intent of the malicious software becomes more and more geared toward complete remote system control and access, the potential situation looks - I'll just say it - pretty darned bleak.

It's important to stay up-to-date if you're an IT or Security professional (or hard-core geek). Here are your links:

Quiz in the morning. :)

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IT Security | Tech
Thursday, 14 February 2008 13:43:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 13 February 2008

samurairepairman I have a set of Kenmore HE3 appliances for washing clothing, the matching washer and the dryer of course. I like them a lot and have had them for five years. They've served me well. However, ever since installing a drawer pedestal under both, the washer had taken to frequently hopping and jumping around on the floor while in the spin cycle. It's not a good thing, and I needed a fix.

Luckily after some creative Google work I found this web site: Fixitnow.com, Samurai Appliance Repair Man. It's a blog with lots and lots of entries describing how to resolve common issues with various appliances, including mine. It gave me the information I needed to fix the problem. So I'm bookmarking it here on my blog for the benefit of others and - undoubtedly - for my own future reference.

Thanks, Samurai Repair Guy!

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Random Stuff
Wednesday, 13 February 2008 12:51:29 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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It's not like we didn't already know the malware (short for "malicious software") infection rate is increasing, but Google's security folks posted a technical paper and blog entry on Monday that illustrates the prevalence of "drive-by" malware distribution and just how big the problem has become.


“During that time we have investigated billions of URLs and found more than three million unique URLs on over 180,000 web sites automatically installing malware” … “In the past few months, more than 1% of all search results contained at least one result that we believe to point to malicious content and the trend seems to be increasing.”

Add to that the fact that a significant and growing amount of newer malware recompiles itself into new forms each time it redistributes, making it virtually undetectable by current means, and the situation potentially becomes even scarier.

The technical paper is a very interesting read and explains some of the distribution techniques and designs. It also points out one piece of browser technology that has resurfaced to plague the security world many, many times: the iFrame.

The problem is most deeply rooted in China, where 67% of all malware distribution servers are located, and 64.4% of all landing sites (sites that point to a distribution site) are located. The next closest offending country is the United States, which accounts for about 15% of the distribution and landing sites. So, one can easily see where a significant portion of the problem lies. With the increases in business and trade taking place in China now, one has to worry about the future if computer systems are in such bad shape. Clearly, something needs to change.

If you're a security person, an IT server admin, work with web applications, develop web apps, or are for any reason interested in scary figures (such as the fact that "38.1% of the Apache servers and 39.9% of servers with PHP scripting support reported a version with security vulnerabilities."), read the report. It's worth the time you'll spend.

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IT Security | Tech
Wednesday, 13 February 2008 08:43:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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It looks like the Live Search team has announced they've released their MSN Bot v1.1 (and changed the user agent string to "msnbot/1.1"). They've noted two significant (and welcome) features.

  • HTTP compression
  • Conditional GETs

What does this mean for server owners and operators? Just a more-efficient way of crawling your sites for indexing, assuming your servers support the features. Most servers support HTTP compression, and links to instructions for configuring it are provided in the Live Search team's blog entry.

If you're interested in knowing whether your site/server supports these two features, the Live Search team has also put up a page where you can run a quick test.

Of course, depending on how they detect search indexing bots, some apps may need to add the new user agent string to their configurations.

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Wednesday, 13 February 2008 07:05:56 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 12 February 2008

image Firefox, that other awesome web browser, is now available in a v3 B3 release for those who are willing and wanting to test the latest and greatest before it's all fully baked.

Here is the link to get to the download page and other pertinent information. Expect performance improvements, security improvements, usability enhancement and more. But, keep in mind it's a Beta release, which means it will likely be flaky and do things you might not like. In the words of the Firefox team:

Please note: We do not recommend that anyone other than developers and testers download the Firefox 3 Beta 3 milestone release. It is intended for testing purposes only.

Firefox 3 Beta 3 is now available for download. This is the eleventh developer milestone focused on testing the core functionality provided by many new features and changes to the platform scheduled for Firefox 3. Ongoing planning for Firefox 3 can be followed at the Firefox 3 Planning Center, as well as in mozilla.dev.planning and on irc.mozilla.org in #granparadiso.

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Tuesday, 12 February 2008 21:43:31 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Richard and I had a good conversation with Scott Kveton, OpenID personality extraordinaire, on the RunAs Radio podcast this week. Scott is chairman of the OpenID Foundation.

OpenID is a cool and upcoming technology and has seen significant attention in the past few weeks especially as Yahoo! became an OpenID provider, immediately followed by an announcement that Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, IBM and Verisign had joined the board of the OpenID Foundation.

It's time to get on-board and know what OpenID is, how it might play with other technologies in the identity and access management space, and how you can learn more. That's what this show is all about.

Scott Kveton Shares His OpenID (MP3 link)
from the RunAs Radio podcast

Richard and Greg talk to Scott Kveton about OpenID. OpenID is a single sign-on solution that could very well make the classic username and password obsolete. This is a fast half hour - you'll find yourself wanting to listen again!

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IT Security | RunAs Radio | Tech
Tuesday, 12 February 2008 21:25:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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OneCare on 64-bit works! I somehow missed the release, but a little while back Microsoft released Windows Live OneCare v2.0, and in that release added support for 64-Bit Windows Vista. A few months ago (before OneCare v2) I had just bought a new laptop that came with the 64-bit Vista Ultimate edition pre-installed, and when I went to install the then-released version of OneCare, I was pretty disappointed that it would not work.

When I was in Costco the other day, I noticed a OneCare package on the shelf and picked it up to glance at the system requirements. Lo and behold, the packaging had changed and now indicated that 64-bit Vista was supported! When did they slip that in? I didn't see mention of it on the OneCare blog or anywhere else.

But hey, all I knew was it looked like I would be able to use it now, so I was looking forward to giving it a try.

Today I uninstalled my frustratingly cruddy other (to remain nameless) antivirus software and installed the OneCare suite. For about $40 a year I can protect three PCs and centrally manage two of them from the computer I designate as the "hub" machine. Nice.


OneCare v2 includes:

  • Antivirus & Antispyware protection
  • Online ID protection
  • Bi-Directional Firewall
  • Multi-PC management
  • Printer sharing
  • Data backup and restore capabilities
  • Maintenance and cleanup tasks (defrag, clean up useless stuff, etc.)

It's an easy and quick install, and a good way to make sure you're protected. You can watch a product demo and download the free 90-day trial here.

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IT Security | Safe Computing | Tech
Tuesday, 12 February 2008 18:33:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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On my Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit laptop, one of today's many Microsoft patches keeps prompting to be installed over and over, even after it indicates it is successfully installed. The patch in question is related to Microsoft Knowledge Base article KB937287, and is a prerequisite to Vista SP1, which is set to be made available next month.

Update 937287 is a prerequisite package that contains updates to the Windows Vista installation software. The installation software is the component that handles the installation and the removal of software updates, language packs, optional Windows features, and service packs. Update 937287 is necessary to successfully install and to remove Windows Vista SP1 on all versions of Windows Vista. This update will be available on the Windows Update Web site soon after the release of update 935509 and before the release of Windows Vista SP1. 

I ran the installation for all of today's patches which applied to my computer (twelve of them in total) and this one kept hanging around. Each time I restarted the computer, Windows Update again prompted me to start the installation. Confusing and frustrating after the fourth or fifth time, to be sure (reminds me of a joke about the definition of "insanity" heh).


I was able to resolve this problem by downloading the individual 64-bit patch from the Microsoft Downloads site and installing it manually. Note that the linked download location is for 64-bit Vista OS users only. Once I did that, the prompts stopped and it shows up in the installation list as successfully installed on the machine. In fact, the list now shows all of the installation attempts as successful, with a separate line for each try. Only the first try now shows "failed." Strange.


It's interesting that the KB article points out that this update will be required in order to install Vista SP1 via Windows Update when it is released, but not if you chose to download and install the service pack manually (as it will contain the fix). Extra interesting is that for this update I was unable to install it via Windows Update, but was successful with the manual install.

At any rate, there have been a flurry of posts on a variety of forums and other sites today where people were having this problem. Some people were recommending grabbing a leaked version of SP1 Refresh 2 via non-MS sites (read: not a good idea) and installing that, but for those who wish to wait and make sure they get what MS releases when they release it, this option is probably better for you.

If it works, drop a comment. Actually, be sure to comment if it doesn't work for you, too. :)

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IT Security | Tech
Tuesday, 12 February 2008 17:45:12 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Over at Wired, they've posted a set of eight early-design logos that graphic Designer Ruth Kedar came up with back when the now-established company was first finding its identity. It's a cool look at the design process and it's interesting to see how certain aspects of the design came full-circle. Click the image below to see the designs and an explanation of each over at Wired.


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Random Stuff
Tuesday, 12 February 2008 12:27:12 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Updating from IE6 to IE7 is a considerably good thing to do, but IT pros need to plan for these things in some cases for compatibility and other reasons, so awareness is important.

If you're an IT shop using Windows Software Update Services (WSUS), be aware that today marks the date that Microsoft planned to start automatically delivering Internet Explorer 7 to desktop machines as an automatic update on WSUS systems. Computers on WSUS-managed computers that have IE6 installed will be updated, either automatically or upon administrative approval, depending on your configuration.

So, if you don't want your IE software updated today, it's important to check that your WSUS system is set up to require administrative approval before updates are pushed to the machines on your network (this is the default setting, but I've seen it changed in many cases for "convenience").

From the Microsoft Knowledge Base article (KB946202):

If you have configured WSUS to "auto-approve" Update Rollup packages (this is not the default configuration), Windows Internet Explorer 7 will be automatically approved for installation after February 12, 2008 and consequently, you may want to take the actions below to manage how and when this update is installed. You will need to take action if:

  • You use WSUS to manage updates in your organization.
  • You have Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2)-based computers or Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1)-based computers that have Internet Explorer 6 installed.
  • You do not want to upgrade Internet Explorer 6 machines to Windows Internet Explorer 7 at this time.
  • You have configured WSUS to auto-approve Update Rollups for installation.

Important notes

  • This does not apply to Windows Vista because Windows Internet Explorer 7 is a component of Windows Vista.
  • The Internet Explorer Blocker Toolkit blocks only installation that occurs by using Windows Update and Automatic Update. The toolkit does not block distribution that occurs by using WSUS. This article concerns distribution that occurs by using WSUS. Internet Explorer 7 is already available in 23 languages by using Windows Update and Automatic Update. On February 12, 2008, Internet Explorer 7 will also be made available in Japanese by using Windows Update and Automatic Update

The KB article also includes instructions describing how to configure the WSUS server, if needed.

(reminded via Mary Jo Foley - All About Microsoft)

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IT Security | Tech
Tuesday, 12 February 2008 07:42:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 11 February 2008

UPDATE: Want to be able to track a BlackBerry when it gets lost or stolen with a more robust online system? Check out GadgetTrak, available for GSM-based devices.

image Got a Blackberry? Ever worried what you'd do if you lost it? Ever actually had to replace a lost one before? Lost or stolen, it's good to be able to find your handheld, especially if it has important data on it.

A couple years ago I was in Minnesota on a trip and went to play FrisbeeTM Golf with a friend. The course went through the woods and across a couple fields. When we got done, I realized my Blackberry phone was missing. Not good.

We used my friend's cell phone and started calling it. I got lucky that day. It was (thankfully) not on vibrate mode, and we eventually found it deep in the woods (where I had been forced to bushwhack in order to get to my flying disc). The battery was near dead.

Now it appears there's a better way. Berry Locator is a software program that will cause your Blackberry device to scream and flash - even when set on silent mode. When you lose your device (or if you can't find it in the house clutter) you just send it a specially-formed email and it wakes up and does its thing, letting you find it. Even better, if your BB has GPS capabilities, you send an email and it will reply via email with a map showing you the coordinate where the device is located. Plus, you can type text in the body of your email that will be displayed on the screen when it's activated, in case someone else finds (or otherwise has possession of) your Blackberry.

Combine that feature with a password, data encryption and the ability to nuke the device in a worst-case scenario (on a corporate BES system), and you're pretty good to go.

Cool capability, but it only works if you install it ahead of time. There's a free trial version, and when you decide to buy it, it's only five bucks.

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IT Security | Mobile | Tech
Monday, 11 February 2008 18:45:43 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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It was pretty clear from the initial public offer that was made by Microsoft to acquire Yahoo! that Redmond intends to make it happen even if Yahoo! management doesn't want to go along. But just in case anyone doubted, today it became quite apparent that's the case. In a statement issued today, Microsoft says:

"It is unfortunate that Yahoo! has not embraced our full and fair proposal to combine our companies. Based on conversations with stakeholders of both companies, we are confident that moving forward promptly to consummate a transaction is in the best interests of all parties.

"We are offering shareholders superior value and the opportunity to participate in the upside of the combined company. The combination also offers an increasingly exciting set of solutions for consumers, publishers and advertisers while becoming better positioned to compete in the online services market.

"A Microsoft-Yahoo! combination will create a more effective company that would provide greater value and service to our customers. Furthermore, the combination will create a more competitive marketplace by establishing a compelling number two competitor for Internet search and online advertising.

"The Yahoo! response does not change our belief in the strategic and financial merits of our proposal. As we have said previously, Microsoft reserves the right to pursue all necessary steps to ensure that Yahoo!'s shareholders are provided with the opportunity to realize the value inherent in our proposal."

Looks like a lot of people are in for a ride. It will be interesting to see how this one turns out, to be sure.

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Random Stuff | Tech
Monday, 11 February 2008 16:23:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Well, I love my Xbox360 HD-DVD drive, and watching full 1080p HD-DVD movies on the Elite model. I've bought about 10 or so HD-DVDs and have rented a few from NetFlix recently. But, in what is looking more and more like an inevitably certain format death, Netflix announced today that it will no longer be stocking new HD-DVD releases, and they'll eventually phase out the current titles from their stock.

In fact, as I was writing this post an email from Netflix just arrived that explains the change:

netflix We're Going Blu-ray

Dear Greg,

You're receiving this email because you have asked to receive high-definition movies in the HD DVD format. As you may have heard, most of the major movie studios have recently decided to release their high-definition movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format. In order to provide the best selection of high-definition titles for our members, we have decided to go exclusively with Blu-ray as well.

blu-ray While we will continue to make our current selection of HD DVD titles available to you for the next several months, we will not be adding additional HD DVD titles or reordering replacements.

Toward the end of February, HD DVDs in your Saved Queue will automatically be changed to standard definition DVDs. Then toward the end of this year, all HD DVDs in your Queue will be changed to standard definition DVDs. Don't worry, we will contact you before this happens.

You can click here to change your format preferences.

We're sorry for any inconvenience. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please call us at 1 (888) 638-3549.

-The Netflix Team

Well, sometimes you make a bet and you lose.

So, my (our) options at this point appear to be...

    1. Wait around, hope against hope, and pray that HD-DVD miraculously sees a resurgence (umm, yeah...)
    2. Hope someone builds a dual-format drive for the Xbox360 that can replace the one I have now (not likely)
    3. Buy one of the new dual-format/combo drives that you can put in a PC and go that route (possibility, depending on what they end up costing, and I have to think about how and where I want to play movies)
    4. Buy a PS3 (ouch, in so many ways)
    5. Just give in and buy a Blu-ray stand-alone player (but I wonder if I should wait til they drop in price some more, they ain't cheap)

Any other ideas? Let me know!

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Movies | Tech
Monday, 11 February 2008 12:52:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I've been a monthly customer of T-Mobile's hotspot service for a few years. I used the service almost exclusively at Starbucks stores. So, with the new announcement that AT&T and Starbucks will be offering two-hour chunks of use for free if you have a Starbucks card (the refillable type) as well as a $20 per month unlimited use option. It looks like I will no longer need the more-expensive T-Mobile account. The only time I've ever used it outside of Starbucks was at airport locations (Red Carpet Club), and I'm not flying as much as I used to (thank goodness).

You can't really beat free WiFi, and it's everywhere these days (except Starbucks), so this is a smart move in my mind.

From BetaNews:

While final pricing structures could change, some details have come out: the service will cost $3.99 for two hours of Internet access. But those customers who register and use their Starbucks card will receive two hours of free access per day. An unlimited plan is available for $19.99, which includes access to over 70,000 AT&T hotspots worldwide.

Existing T-Mobile HotSpot customers aren't being left out in the cold; thanks to an agreement with AT&T, they can continue to access the Wi-Fi at Starbucks without paying extra.

(full story)

Also, see the ars techncia coverage at this link.

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Mobile | Tech
Monday, 11 February 2008 12:10:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 09 February 2008

I don't think I have actually mentioned it here before (oops), but I use Twitter on a semi-regular basis to jot down PocketTweets Screenshot (click for the site)thoughts, post my "status" and keep an eye on what some other people are doing. My Twitter name is greghughes (go figure), so feel free to add me to your follow list, or whatever. :)

Twitter has a mobile client (at m.twitter.com, but note that it only works on a mobile device) that works, but it's pretty basic and feature-incomplete. So, since I had some time this evening I decided to look around for software (to run on the PC) and web-based (for the iPhone) clients.

I found a few options, including a really nice web-based client specifically made for the iPhone (or the iPod Touch) called PocketTweets, which is clean in appearance and includes pretty much all the Twitter functionality. I can post my own Twitter updates (called "Tweets"), send replies to others, or anything else on Twitter I might want. It's certainly better than any of the other clients I found. Very cool.

Next I need to find a good Windows client that won't crash when run on a 64-bit OS. I've been using Snitter, which is pretty okay but doesn't quite work (update) reliably enough in my experience and I'm not much of a fan of bright and contrasty color schemes. Any ideas?

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Blogging | Mobile | Tech
Saturday, 09 February 2008 20:12:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 06 February 2008

WTFs/m - that's perfect! I think my good QA friend Brent would probably agree (and laugh out loud)... Mild cartoon language follows, but the humor is worth it.


(discovered via Robert Hensing's blog)

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Humor | Tech
Wednesday, 06 February 2008 19:05:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Richard and I spent about 30 minutes the other day chatting with Bil Simser, all-around good guy and MS SharePoint MVP since 2004. SharePoint is a set of technologies I have been involved with since before day one, if that's even possible. I remember vividly deploying SharePoint Portal Server 2001 as a secure extranet site (something it really wasn't intended to do) before it was even released. SharePoint's come a long, long way since then for sure!

It's common for IT professionals to have SharePoint shoved into their laps unsuspectingly by users or prospective users as a platform for business intelligence or document management or collaboration, so it's a good idea to be aware, try it out, see what you can do with it (and what you can't), and what it takes to properly design, build, deploy and manage in the environment.

Listen to the show for analogies, buzz words, licensing, planning, components and other important things to think about when you find yourself in the world of SharePoint.

Bil Simser On Managing Sharepoint (MP3 link)
from RunAs Radio podcast

Richard and Greg talk to Bil Simser about the challenges of managing Sharepoint 2007. Bil points us to the SharePoint Capacity Tool (www.shrinkster.com/uhw) and comparisons between Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (www.shrinkster.com/ui1). Check out Bil's blog at www.shrinkster.com/uhv.

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RunAs Radio | SharePoint | Tech
Wednesday, 06 February 2008 16:33:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Awesome. Another Improv Everywhere "mission," everyone frozen in place in Grand Central Station at precisely the same time. No need to say more, really - just watch, it's great.


Story and some cool pictures here, and other missions are listed here. Thanks to Jake (once again) for pointing to something cool.

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Humor | Random Stuff
Wednesday, 06 February 2008 14:05:53 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 05 February 2008

iphone_16GB Well, we knew it was coming. Apple's 16GB iPhone is here and it's $100 more than the one we already have. I wonder how many they'll build and sell. It looks like the only change is the storage capacity. For some I guess another 8GB is nice to have, but for me I don't need it. I'll make a move (quickly) when a 3G iPhone ships. Hopefully soon, and hopefully with features like MMS and video recording. iPhone is available in an 8GB model for $399 and the new 16GB model for $499.

There's also a 32GB iPod Touch. Now that's kinda cool. But I already have an iPhone, and if I buy another media player it will probably be a Zune.

So... Anyone buying?

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Mobile | Tech
Tuesday, 05 February 2008 08:26:01 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 04 February 2008

If you had five minutes on stage what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically after 15 seconds?

That's the basic premise behind Ignite Portland, which is happening this week on Tuesday night at the Bagdad Theater in Portland, Oregon.

I'm going to be there - along with what looks like a few hundred others - checking out what people have to say. If you happen to be in the Portland area, why not come down and check it out? It's free. If you'll be there, sign up ahead of time so they can plan (not required, but nice to do) and let me know so we can say hi!

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Random Stuff | Tech
Monday, 04 February 2008 18:17:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 02 February 2008

I've uploaded a few photos from our quick jaunt through Arches National Park, near Moab Utah, at the end of December. My friend Cory and I were driving back to Oregon after a couple days of skiing at Keystone, Colorado and decided to detour briefly to check out the place. It was about four in the afternoon and the light was right. Glad we stopped. The complete flickr photoset is here, and here is a link to my flickr photostream.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park

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Photography | Random Stuff
Saturday, 02 February 2008 20:40:46 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Some people I know who live in the city (Portland, Oregon that is) don't always "get it" when I tell them we sometimes get lots of snow out where I live. If it snows down in Portland even just a little bit, the place just shuts down. It's fairly ridiculous, heh. I suppose since I live relatively close, people just have a hard time imagining any significant snow in the vicinity. But it's all about the elevation.

Out my way you have to drive in the ice and snow, that's just the way it is. I grew up in northern New Mexico doing just that. Now, we do get snowed in up here sometimes, between the amount of snow and the wetness of it all on the steep hills. While we're nowhere near snowed in this weekend, it has dumped a fair bit since the sun came up this morning. Well, more like since it got light outside this morning... We're certainly not seeing any direct sunlight today. We've had similar (or deeper) snowfalls several times here in the past month.



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Random Stuff
Saturday, 02 February 2008 14:53:08 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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From the LiteOn people comes a great design for a mouse that I will gladly plunk down a few  bucks for if it ever makes it to the market. It received a RedDot Design Award, in fact. Here's hoping it finds a place in the real world.

mice2The Moldable mouse can be shaped into pretty much whatever form you like. Goodbye RSI and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Just change the shape now and then. We can hope!

Moldable Mouse is made of non-toxic lightweight modeling clay, covered with nylon and polyurethane blend fabric. It can be kneaded into any shape the user prefers, and the shape is self-retaining. By allowing a wide variety of hand positions when holding the mouse, it reduces repeated motions of the same posture, thereby minimizing the chance of common mouse-related injuries such as the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The click buttons and touch-sensitive scroll pad of the mouse are stick-on parts with built-in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device), which can be repositioned for maximum comfort.

The nylon and polyurethane blend fabric covering comes in a variety of colors. The texture of the material feels similar to silk, but is much more flexible. Its softness significantly increases the comfort level of the mouse over that of the traditional plastic versions. Patterns and graphics can be printed on the fabric to make the Moldable Mouse more visually appealing. The base of the mouse, made of 100% recyclable PC/ABS plastic blend, houses the PCB (Printed Circuit Board), laser optics and batteries. Reducing plastic usage to a minimum by using mostly non-toxic clay and fabric, the Moldable Mouse is also an ecologically responsible product.

(via Engadget, via Wired)

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Saturday, 02 February 2008 11:07:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 01 February 2008

microsoft_yahoo The move Microsoft made this morning in publicly offering Yahoo! shareholders a pretty darned decent price per share to acquire the company was a fairly aggressive one, and honestly I've wondered for some time - along with everyone else - when someone would finally make the move. It just makes sense. With the announcement earlier this week by Yahoo! of it's financials and planned layoffs, the timing was about as perfect as it could get.

Everyone and their brother has blogged and commented on this, and I won't waste your time or mine telling you what I think (although I am interested in and have been thinking about the whole "how do you combine CardSpace and OpenID?" question, and there are some obvious and potentially very good answers to that one). Instead, I just wanted to point you to a well-written and (I think) good analysis by a few industry experts that was published today on betanews.com. I suggest you read it if - like me - you are at all interested in the deal and what it means.

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Friday, 01 February 2008 20:10:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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