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 -- http://www.popsci.com/bacon. 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 -- http://smartoons.net/comic.php?c=26260.

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: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1849306&tstart=30. 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 http://mydl.me/2009/04/smaller-cards-smaller-stress/. 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 -- http://www.downloadhelper.net/. 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 http://applian.com/flvplayer/.

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 http://www.hakin9.org/en.