Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Upgraded MacBook hard drive

Updated drive from Hitachi 120GB to WD 500GB. SuperDuper! made the job a breeze - no hitches whatsoever.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New laptop skin

I really like my new laptop skin for my 13" white Macbook. This is what it looks like with the laptop turned on and the Apple logo shining through the skin. You can get it here [] .

Things I didn't know about the iPhone

... and you might not know either ...

the built-in Calculator app appears to be a standard calculator, but turn it on its side (landscape) and it becomes a scientific calculator - no need to click a button to change between scientific and
standard !

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

New FeedDemon 3 for Windows -- TERRIBLE !

For a long time, I have been using Firefox Live Bookmarks to keep track of my RSS feeds, but I noticed that I never seemed to go and read anything. It was always too inconvenient to click through each of the folders and subfolders, looking for a feed that had changed, read the new items, and then repeat for the next feed.

I had heard good things about NetNewsWire for the iPhone and Mac (where i would also like to read my RSS feeds) and its ability to keep all three (PC, Mac, iPhone) in sync. But, they were in transition from their old way (their own sync) to using GoogleReader as their sync platform. So I waited patiently for them to complete their betas and release the new stuff.

In the meantime, I moved all of my feeds from Firefox Live Bookmarks to Google Reader (exported the OPML file). I didn't use GoogleReader to read any of them though - I didn't want to get used to it if i was planning to use NNW/FeedDemon instead.

So, today, I just installed the new FeedDemon 3 for Windows. What a piece of junk. I heard people who complained about the ads, but that is a very small space in the lower left corner (where nothing else is) and is easy enough to ignore. What I couldn't live with is the navigation through the posts.

What I want to do is read the unread posts in oldest-to-newest order and have some way to easily mark them as read. Should be easy enough, right ? What a piece of junk.

Fortunately, they have a "watch" in the left pane for only unread items. I had thousands, so I told it to mark them all as read and came back in a few hours -- 35 items. Good. I brought up the unread items and spent some time selecting a view that looked like what I wanted -- "Surfer" (as in web surfer). I told it to show the entire post, to sort by date, and found the option to reverse the sort. So, I had the posts in the right order. So far, I was happy. Not with the amount of time it took to do this, but I was new to RSS readers and could excuse that as my "newbie"-ness. But what happened next ? What a piece of junk.

There isn't a good visible break between posts that I could use when scanning forward to the "next" post, so I started looking for something that would let me just click to the next post. Ahh, there it is at the bottom of the screen "Next Unread". I clicked it and did it take me to the next unread post ? NO. It took me to the next PAGE of unread posts (the 35 items were spread across 2 "pages" -- at the bottom, it also said "Page 1 of 2" next to forward and backward navigation buttons). I don't quite understand why they are spread across "pages" since each "page" is multiple (10?) screens long, but there it was.

Anyway, when I clicked "Next Unread", it didn't mean next unread post, it meant next unread PAGE. And when it went there, it marked everything on the previous page READ. What a piece of junk, but not the end of the world, so I went back and manually scrolled down the page and got through those posts and returned to "Page 2". For some reason I hit "Next Unread" again on this page and the results were incomprehensible. Since there was no next page, it took me to the home page and marked everything on that page READ (like before). BUT, this time, I could not back up to the previous page. Further, there is no way to create a "watch" that says "show me everything that was new in the last hour" so I could recover. No dice.

I went immediately to GoogleReader and discovered that FeedDemon had not sync-ed with it yet and the last page of posts were still marked as "unread" in GoogleReader. So I decided to see if GoogleReader would meet my needs.

I was able to set it up the same way as I had it under FeedDemon and started reading the posts. Two things that I noticed:

1. Posts were automatically marked as read as I scrolled past them. For me, that is a good thing. Under FeedDemon, you would have to either wait for it to mark the whole page as read when you finished the page, or click the envelope icon that was under the post's headline. That seems to be a good idea, but if the post is a long one, you don't want to have to scroll all the way back up to click the stupid icon. With GoogleReader, it marks it automatically, but if you don't like that, there is an box in the BOTTOM line (after the post) to keep it unread - at the BOTTOM where it belongs (top and bottom would be even better). And if you don't like the automatic marking, there is a menu option to stop it from doing that.

2. There is a "previous item" and "next item" button that takes you to the previous or next POST, just like you would expect.

3. If you are going to change to change the sort order (from newest first to oldest first), one word of advice. At the beginning of the line you will see "x new items - all items" where "all items" is highlighted. Click "x new items" first, then change the sort order. Otherwise, it will try to sort EVERYTHING when all you want to see are the new (unread) items.

Overall, FeedDemon is not even worth the price (free). Just stick with GoogleReader.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hurricane candle shell

I have been looking for a spherical hurricane candle shell but cannot find one. The last one I bought was from Illuminations, but they stopped carrying them long ago (and sadly, they are now out of business). If you know where I can find one, please leave a comment or email me. The one I have now (pictured) is 8 inches in diameter, although I will consider smaller or larger ones.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Should you worry about data rot?

If you're archiving your data to CDs and DVDs, maybe you should. For an interesting interview with the curator of the Computer History Museum, click here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin

An interesting article that came out today at -- seems that low intensity activity throughout the day may be better for you than high intensity visits to the gym. The article, complete with sidebar ads, is here and a "just the words please" print version is here.

Friday, July 24, 2009


It seems that Google is not without a sense of humor. Ever notice that Google will sometimes add a line at the top of your search results that says "Did you mean ...", particularly when it thinks that you misspelled something ? Try searching for 'recursion' and follow the link.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The new issue of Hakin9 is on the stands now

The latest issue (2009/4) of Hakin9 (an IT security magazine) is now on the stands (I've personally seen it at my local Borders and Barnes & Noble stores -- not MicroCenter though). The current issue looks at computer forensics. There are also articles about self-signed digital certificates and malware analysis. Get more information by clicking on the cover below (if you cannot see the cover, then go to

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Memory cards for DSLRs

If you use UDMA memory cards in your DSLR, consider this real world test (spoiler - Lexar Professional UDMA 300x Speed CF won):

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fun with Adobe update

If you let Acrobat or Acrobat Reader update itself, you may have to check your preferences. When I let Acrobat Reader apply the latest update, it changed my JavaScript preference from OFF back to ON. If your preference is to leave it OFF, then verify this preference every time you update Acrobat or Acrobat Reader.
Very few PDF documents require JavaScript. Leaving JavaScript OFF helps to protect you from JavaScript exploits -- when a document does need it, Acrobat will ask you whether you want to turn it back on and YOU can decide for yourself whether you want to turn it back on, rather than letting the document decide. But ... if you turn it on, remember that it is not temporary - you will have to turn it back OFF manually.

Friday, June 12, 2009

DC3 Digital Forensics Challenge

Accepted into and started downloading the files for the DC3 Digital Forensics Challenge. I have until November to submit my results.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Need to protect your PDF document ?

Click here for the post that tells you the easy two step process.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Like the new picture ?

The South Park web site has a feature that lets you create a South Park character for yourself; that's where my picture came from -- I use it everywhere. A friend from Twitter, Ryan Waughon, uses a Simpsons character as his avatar. Both web sites use Flash, so you will have to enable Javascript and Flash when you get there.

Other avatar creators are here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Steve Jobs

For all you discerning Apple fans out there, here is a picture of a plush Steve Jobs I recently picked up. He's sitting next to my wife's iMac (out of frame to the right) and holding a circa-80s(?) Macintosh pen that I got from a trade show a long time ago. You can get your own here (without the pen and chair, of course).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Twitter - getting started

I saw an interesting article by David Coursey; he writes "People Try Twitter One Month, Then Fly". That may indeed be true for many people, but they probably haven't found a way to use Twitter to their advantage.

I find that there are a lot of people on Twitter who are looking to monetize it -- primarily marketers looking for the next big thing. I try to avoid those people. You can tell who they are fairly easily -- you get an email (from Twitter [you can turn those off if you want]) that says that someone has started to follow you, but a couple of days later, if you haven't "returned the favor" by following them, they stop following you. These people aren't interested in you - they are looking to create a "following".

To me, Twitter looks like a public IM agent. But instead of directing your message to one person, you publish it to anyone who wants to listen. People who think you're interesting "follow" you (think of it as - they subscribe to your tweets) and you "follow" people you find interesting.

Of course, what constitutes "interesting" is up to you.
Personally, I tend to follow people (and organizations) that are into computer security and iPhone/Mac. Sometimes, I have something to say, but usually, I just watch the flow.

So, how do you get started? Check the blogs and web pages that you read. Many will have a twitter link where you can follow either the author or the organization. Start there - follow them. If you know someone on twitter, follow them. After a while, you may find that you're not interested in what that person has to say - easy - unfollow them and you no longer see their tweets.

Next, visit the profiles of the people you follow. Check out the list of people that they follow or the list of people that follow them (if you are interested in them, you may be interested in people that are one degree away from them). Visit their twitter page (click on their name) and see what they tweet about. If you are interested, you can follow them too.

If you have opinions about what is being discussed, join in. You don't have to express every thought that is in your head (unless that's your style, of course); you don't have to say anything at all.

Try it. You may not like it, but you just might.

Kindle = kindling ?

I'm finding more stories on the Internet where others have come to the same conclusion that I did on April 2 in Thinking about a Kindle ? Think again .... A particularly interesting one appears in Apple iPhone "Mediapad" Could Be a Kindle Killer where the author thinks that Amazon may have developed the Kindle just to kick-start the e-book industry and will eventually abandon the Kindle to re-focus on the real moneymaker (e-books).

Here's another similar article from Slashdot that talks about the Apple MediaPad and Verizon.

And one from Fortune.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Woman in the Window (1944)

Just finished watching "The Woman in the Window". I'm not ordinarily a fan of old movies, but this one is a "must see". Reviews are at IMDB (but stay away from the "more" plot keywords) and Netflix. I'd steer clear of the detailed reviews - you don't want to spoil the ending.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Photodon anti-glare screen for new 20" iMac

The first thing my wife noticed when I unpacked her new 20" iMac was the glossy screen; she was very unhappy. She had gotten used to the matte finish of her 17" iMac and did not like looking into the "mirrorMac". Knowing that Apple did not give us any choices, I looked around the web and found a product that got good reviews from Photodon that was just over $40; so I ordered it. It came quickly and i tried to install it this weekend. Since it looked a lot like the screen protector I have for my iPhone, I ignored the instructions and proceeded based on the good and bad experiences I had with the iPhone's screen.

DISCLAIMER - these are my experiences and your mileage may vary. If you have never installed one of these silicon protectors before, or, if my experiences don't sound like your own previous experiences, then you should follow Photodon's instructions (the screen is not returnable once you start to lift off the backing, so make sure that you understand 100% of his instructions before you even think of starting).

All told, after unpacking everything, it took less than 15 minutes. First, I blew any random dust off the screen with my breath and then waited about 5 minutes for any dust kicked up in the area to settle. Then, being careful not to kick up any remaining dust, I cleaned off the screen with the yellow microfiber cloth supplied; I folded it into fourths and dragged it lightly across the screen horizontally back and forth, and then top to bottom; the mirror finish helped me to see any dust, dirt and smudges still on the screen. I then held the protector (with backing intact) to the iMac screen to make sure I knew how it would fit. Then I cleaned the screen again.

Then, bring very careful, I peeled off an inch or two of the bottom of the protector's backing and centered it against the bottom of the iMac screen (there is a slight flare around the black screen that you can hold the protector against). I pulled the protector on and off the bottom several times until there were no bubbles (holding it by the still-backed top of the protector). Then I grabbed the end of the backing paper and slowly peeled it off in one smooth motion, letting the protector roll off and stick to the screen as I went along (if it doesn't look like it's rolling off, stop now and retry). I had to pause a few times when large bubbles appeared and pulled the protector up and then let it roll back onto the screen. When I was done, there were a few medium bubbles and a few small ones on the screen.

I then went after each of them. I could tell that one was a [damned] dust particle that made it's way under, so I peeled the protector up from the nearest corner, carefully pulled the dust particle off and gently "rolled" the protector back onto the screen, being careful not to introduce any new bubbles (stopping and retrying when I did). Each of the larger (air) bubbles were handled similarly -- I peeled the protector up from the closest corner, pushed the bubble out (from the non-sticky side of the protector) and then gently rolled the protector down into the screen -- as Photodon recommends, a credit card works wonders here.

Within a few minutes, the job was done and the results are phenomenal. I would highly recommend getting one of these protectors from Photodon (they don't have an affiliate network -- rest assured that I get nothing from this endorsement). If you haven't worked with silicon screen protectors before, I would recommend either getting some experience putting one on your iPhone first or asking a friend (who has done them before) to help. Although you can certainly do it yourself without experience, you are likely to become frustrated (as I was the first time I put one on my iPhone); you get much better every time you do it (this is my third experience -- two iPhones and one iMac).

Friday, April 17, 2009

A thermal lance made of bacon

Words cannot express the amazement -- you have to see this for yourself -- Technically, it's prosciutto, but still freaking amazing ...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A-1 Courier Services can't deliver

Placed an order with Amazon a few days back and they sent it via a new service - A-1 Courier Services. They claim to have delivered it the next day, but that's news to me. They said they left it at the front door, but it wasn't MY front door. The only other package delivery service I ever had serious problems with was DHL; there's no excuse for not finding the right place -- Google Maps has a big yellow arrow pointing right at my front yard. My advice to you -- never use them for anything. If you find out that Amazon is using them and you have a similar story, you can leave your message here - there are 312 messages, mostly complaints, so far.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Internet Manifesto

Got a link to this today from one of the people I follow on Twitter. It's a very worthwhile read -- well worth the 5 minutes it will take out of your life to read it --

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Migrating from Mac OS X 10.4 to 10.5

Last night, I upgraded my wife's G5 iMac (running Tiger 10.4) to a Intel iMac (running Leopard 10.5) using Migration assistant (on 10.5) to move all of the data. Some thoughts if you are doing the same:

0. Set aside a few hours. Although Firewire can theoretically transfer 180 GB per hour; for me, the migration process took 2 hours for 40 GB. This might have been because I was using a 15 foot cable [the max cable length] - the only one I could find. Get a six footer if you can.

1. Make sure you have a Firewire cable first; you need a 6-pin to 9-pin cable (warning - they are currently in short supply) - and if you can, use something shorter than 15 feet [the max length allowed]). This is because the G5 only uses Firewire 400 (6-pin) and the Intel only uses Firewire 800 (9-pin). Why Apple couldn't put a additional Firewire 400 port in the Intel escapes me.

2. During setup on the Intel iMac, it will ask you if you want to migrate data now or later (using Migration Assistant). Better to do it now. Follow the instructions, except ...

3. It will get to a screen where it is trying to move the Applications Folder - it will take MUCH longer than it thinks it will take - be patient - those last few minutes will take an hour.

4. After you are all done, you will probably have application problems:

5. If you try to fire up Mail and it does nothing, follow the instructions here: They worked great with one exception - before starting, do a force-quit on Mail to stop it (under the Apple menu).

6. To make sure that other applications will not have problems, reinstall all of them from the original disks (or download images). Take this opportunity to visit the applications' web sites to see of they have newer versions - you may be using a PPC version (for the G5) and a newer Intel version may be available (OpenOffice is one).

Monday, April 13, 2009

On memory card sizes

There is a very nice essay on the advantages of smaller memory cards in your digital camera at Maybe bigger isn't better ...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Capturing videos off the internet

I saw a question on twitter about grabbing a youtube video. The easiest way is to use the Firefox add-in called (Video) Download Helper and located here -- However, some videos (particularly on other web sites), will not download that way; I've found this to be especially true of videos over 15 minutes. In that case, there is another way that always works (well, it never failed for me):

- Fire up IE (yes, I know, it hurts - how badly do you want it ?).
- menu:Tools / submenu:Internet Options / tab:General / section:Browsing History / button:Delete / button:Delete all (this will vary depending on version - I'm using 7).
- If you regularly use IE and don't want to zap ALL of your history, you can click "Delete files" under "Temporary Internet Files" instead.
- Now, go to the web site that has the video and watch it (and ONLY that video).
- Now, navigate to C:\Documents and Settings\{your userid}\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files
- Click the "Size" heading (on the right) - you may have to hit it twice to get the largest files to sort to the top
- Your video should be the top file (or near the top) - just drag it into another window and rename it as needed.
- Most of them will be .flv files, so you may need a .flv player - I use Applian FLV Player (FREE) at

There are gotchas that might keep you from getting to the files; you may need to relax some of Windows' security settings - contact me if you have problems.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Disaster File

Interesting article here. I've given some thought to doing something like this for some time now -- for me, the problem has always been getting all of that information together in the first place. Maybe start with something - anything - and then let my obsessive nature fix it - instead of trying to get it right the first time. But maybe not ... As I'm fond of teasing my "Agile" friends - refactor is just another word for "didn't get it right the first time".

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

iPhone Tip of the Week

Hopefully, I can remember to do this every week ...

Can't get the Notes app to learn new words for its auto-correct ?
Try typing the words into Safari's Google search instead.

Source for this story is here

Click here for more iPhone tips

Hakin9's clickjacking issue is now on the stands

The latest issue (2009/2) of Hakin9 (an IT security magazine) is now on the stands (I've personally seen it at my local Borders store). The current issue's cover story is about clickjacking and how easily your clicks can be stolen from a web page. There is also an article by Jason Alexander on analyzing malware. Get more information by clicking on the cover below (if you cannot see the cover, then go to

Monday, March 30, 2009

URLs - the long and short of them ...

In your web postings (esp places where every character counts - like twitter), you may want to shorten a really long URL into something manageable.

There are many services that will do this for you (I use the first, but the others are seen extensively):
    And if you insist, there is even one that will put an ad at the top of the target page and earn you some pennies (i don't like those, so i won't encourage you by providing the link). These services have javascript bookmarklets that sit in your link bar and look like any other link, except that when you click it, the page you are on is passed to (or wherever) and you get the short URL that corresponds to the page you were on. Of course, if you are using NoScript for Firefox, this may not work -- you may have to temporarily allow scripting on the page.

    However, some people have started using these short URLs to hide their real purpose -- give you a nice come-on with a shortened URL that takes you to a web page that (if you saw the URL) you wouldn't ordinarily go to. To your rescue are two services (free) which will show you what any given short URL expands to. Depending on what you see, you can choose to follow the short URL or not. The two that I know of are:
  • -- a Firefox extension that shows you the long URL when you hover over a short URL
  • -- web-based form for those not using Firefox, but doesn't look like it's ready for prime time yet