CoreyH Founder and CTO: RecordSetter. Dad to 6yr old boy, 3yr girl. Husband to @ewphoto

14Feb/080

must-have-latest

I got impatient. Microsoft announced SP1 of Vista and I couldn't wait for it to trickle out onto MSDN. I installed SP1 on my three main machines.

  • It seemed to dramatically reduce HDD chugging on my laptops, especially on startup. This was a big deal for me.
  • My Toshiba M200 power management problem is still there, but thanks to bullet #1 it is easier to recovery from. (Every other time the computer sleeps, the LCD won't come back on)
  • My custom desktop was rock solid before and it is rock solid now. No change noticed.
  • When using remote desktop to get to the "console" session you can't use /console anymore. You have to use /admin. There's a post here that explains why.

I don't really recommend anyone else go out and install it until the general release exactly, but I'm 3-for-3, all I'm sayin'.

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29Jan/081

km switches

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If you have two or more computers in the same physical space that you want to control with a single mouse/keyboard you need "KM switch software".

I've tried three products

  1. Kavoom KM -- Very Solid product. Windows only. Unfortunately it is $39.95
  2. Synergy -- Cross platform (Windows/Linux/Mac), free and open source, but unfortunately the least capable of the three (as tends to happen with things cross platform).
  3. Input Director -- My current choice. Nearly as good as Kavoom. Windows only. Free.
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12Sep/070

Chromatic Aberration

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Have you noticed your digital pictures sometimes have an unwanted red or cyan outline?

DP review has a nice detailed description of the problem here: Chromatic Aberration by Vincent Bockaert. It has to do with the way digital sensors work and the angles of light involved.

Since I'm a semi-semi-professional digital retoucher, I can tell you how to fix it.

In Photoshop, you could select the area in question, go to Hue/Saturation, select "reds" and reduce the saturation. But in an image like this one* you can't just select a big chunk because the flesh tones have red in them, you'd have to do a surgical select of just the problem section.

(CS3's new selection tool rocks btw)

image

Fortunately there's a program that has a built-in feature for just this problem; it is called Picture Window Pro. It costs $90 and there's a 30 day trial. I don't use it for anything other than this one feature and it looks like it was written in 1987... 

Bonus link: Film is digital and digital is analog with unnecessary swearing including.

*Bet you can't guess who's eye that is ūüôā

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25Jul/070

we have the technology

‚ÄúSteve Austin: astronaut. A man barely alive.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúGentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world‚Äôs first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better‚Ķstronger‚Ķfaster."

image Tim, Rajiv and I took a road trip to Boston last Friday on official Notches business.

Tim was using his tablet with EVDO on the way up in the rental car when about 1/3 of the way there, he says "uh, that doesn't sound good" and held up the computer when the obvious click of death sounds became clear.

These things do happen of course, but here's where the story takes a turn. I pull my laptop out of the bag on Sunday to find a non-booting, hard drive dying Dell M65. Tim's Toshiba was at least old enough to not be surprised, but my Dell is only seven months old.

What are the odds? Of these plausible causes which seems likeliest:

  1. Some kind of physical motion/shock incurred by the evil Mercury Grand Marquis. (note, people readily get out of your way in the fast lane when driving one of these)
  2. We all use the same notebook bag (the power of recommendations!) which has magnetic clasps on the outside pocket, which normally aren't a problem, but maybe when lined up in a row in the trunk of an enormous car.
  3. Having a good meeting sucked all the karma out of our computers in order to right the galactic balance.
  4. Statistical probability only

Fortunately Dell got me a new drive with next day shipping, so I'm back and running, but I easily lost 12 hours of productivity. If I was buying this machine today, I would not hesitate to get an SSD drive instead. [SSD roundup from CustomPC via Engadget]

Also: Thanks to Exchange Server + FolderShare + Google browser sync I have all my data and many of my important settings again. Except I realized I was only syncing my home machine and laptop, and if something had happened to a drive (in a RAID 1 no less) at home in the last 48 hours, I would have really really been hurting. I realize I need a separate third backup location and ideally using another type of mechanism. I'm going to look at Mozy(Pro) for this.

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20Jun/071

magnetic backup tapes

imageI'm going to go ahead and declare these things dead.

While I haven't signed the contract yet, and I can't vouch first hand for the service, the online backup service Mozy wins over tape in every dimension imaginable.

Helping out my dad's company take over some IT related tasks today and this seems like such a no-brainer in 2007. MozyPro supports encryption, Exchange Server, SQL Server, open and locked files, automatic/continuous block level incremental backups!

MozyPro (the business version), as of this post, costs $3.95 per server and $.50 per GB/month. Doing the math on what it costs someone to physically get to the computer room, rotate the tapes, take them to a safe location and deal with this and it becomes instantly clear which solution is cheaper.  

If I didn't already have a FolderShare based setup at home, I'd be using the personal version there. And Scott Hanselman uses it, so you know it has to be good.

In other storage news, I'd already own one of these "storage robots" called Drobo if I had the extra cash. I've been dealing and struggling with internal, external, hardware RAID, software RAID, systems for so long that having a box that was so automatic would be like waking from a 15 year-long nightmare. Check out the demo video they have on the site, if you've ever dealt with this stuff before -- it will rock your world.

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26Mar/072

force windows visible

One of my rules for blogging is that I spend more than 15 minutes searching for something I should do a post that will help someone else in the future.

I am using a second monitor attached to my laptop when I'm at the office. I'm able to put everything (mail, IM, firefox, etc) on the second monitor and just keep Visual Studio and IE open for development on my main screen. Fantastic productivity enhancer. Except this is a laptop so when I'm connecting from somewhere else, and I'm don't carry a second monitor with me, windows will sometimes open in the phantom window, rendering them useless. Side note: I bet most people with laptops don't realize that they can probably do this with their relatively new machines. I think the assumption is that the monitor input is just for projectors and won't function as a second display. You should check. Monitors are cheap and you might even have an extra one around.

Lifehacker has a trick that works maybe 70% of the time here, but many windows don't have the "move" handler that this trick relies on.

I had discovered this one other time in my life, but it must have been pre-blog. It took me forever to find, but here is a very simple (crude) tool that will bring back any window. Also works in Vista, unlike a shareware tool I tried for this problem (Shove-It).

Force Window Visible 

Future Google searchers, maybe this will help:

Restore off screen windows
Force windows on screen
relocate windows multi monitor tool
relocate lost windows
windows off screen
Help, I used to have a second monitor, now I can't find my windows

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20Feb/073

I’m (not) linux

First of all, this picture cracks me up. For those that missed it the first time, the tron guy page is here: TRONcostume

And I would love to dedicate three pages worth of text regarding my complex relationship to Linux, but I'm in the middle of focusing here, and will offer just a couple of generalizations for now.

I would really like to be into an open source operating system. I would use it, I would donate, I would evangelize, I would blog tips, hang out in forums, the whole nine yards. Except I don't really like *this* open source operating system. I'm not a fan of unix styles including commands, syntax and configuration; I have a philosophical problem with a macrokernel architecture; I think splitting the UI camps into Gnome vs KDE is idiotic. It just isn't me -- I doesn't fit right.

I always hoped another competitor would emerge that I could get behind like Haiku, which is modeled on BeOS or ReactOS which is a Windows clone.

The counter argument is that someone like Ubuntu will come along and make it irrelevant, hide the terminal, support drivers, etc. Except that is just not plausible in the next five years. Being a power user, I'll always need to get under that hood, no matter how glossy it may be. The beauty of the computer industry is though is that I'd be a fool to predict more than five years out. Anything can happen and I hope that the universe shifts around me to reveal my preferences in all things OS related.

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16Oct/065

boost ready Vista

This is one of those store it on the intarweb so someone else can benefit deals. Nothing but tech follows.

I upgraded my primary work PC to Vista (RC2).

Notes:

  • My upgrade from XP failed twice before I uninstalled enough stuff to get it working. I believe the culprit was Virtual PC, but I can't confirm this.
  • I really really didn't want to have to reformat, but I was going down that road, fortunately I didn't have to (this time). Here's where syncronization tools can really help. 1) Foldershare 2) Google Browser Sync 3) Exchange/Outlook
  • SocksCap is an effective workaround on Vista for Winsock Proxy Client or Windows Firewall Client.
  • My attempt to keep the upgrade on the DL are being thwarted by the giant non-customizable (that I know of) Vista welcome screen.
  • The nVidia "pro-workstation" Quadra 550 video card actually sucks. I get a 2.6 rating and Aero performance is not very good. I'm leaving it on though because I'm stubborn like that.
  • Ad Muncher is having problems with the proxy client, so I switched to FireFox specific AdBlock Plus + Adblock Filterset.G Updater
  • I bought a SanDisk Cruzer Titanium 2.0¬†GB flash drive to be able to run ReadyBoost. I've struggled with this all day today. Everything works when I enable it, but about 45 seconds after the cache file is created it disappears. I've messed and tinkerered, formatted and reset fifty times, and now it seems to be working -- touch wood as they say. Since not all USB memory is created equally, be sure to check the compatiblility chart here first: http://www.grantgibson.co.uk/misc/readyboost/¬†Also, if you are so inclined, there's a great ReadyBoost FAQ here: http://blogs.msdn.com/tomarcher/archive/2006/06/02/615199.aspx¬†
  • Oh, and I am loving ReadyBoost now that I have it working. I can absolutely tell the difference, especially since my HDD is quite loud on access and I can hear the huge reduction in drive reads/writes when programs load.

 

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8Oct/062

antivirus software as a virus

 I was not-at-all surprised by this report by The PC Spy called "What Really Slows Windows Down" that chronicles common applications and the performance impact they have in Windows. The top offender is Norton Internet Security 2006, with a whopping 46% boot delay and 20% cpu delay and 2369% File IO delay. The top thirteen (worst) are all antivirus packages. A developer I used to work with always said that the McAfee enterprise AntiVirus software was in itself a virus.

I'm turning off my realtime virus scanner. Permanently.

I haven't had a legitimate virus blocked or alerted in this century. My email client, Outlook 2007, blocks executables. I can configure Winzip to scan archives before I extract them. I have a hardware router with NAT and stateful packet inspection. I use the OS firewall. I am clinically obsessive when it comes to patches and updates. I've got phishing blockers in FireFox (Google's) and IE. I have backups of my important data. I'll keep virus scan installed and run it Sunday nights, using the scheduler, but I am done letting software scan every single read and write on my system tying up resources. I'm tired of hearing from OSX people about how they don't need antivirus installed.

Now, let me be clear, I do not recommend that anyone else do this unless you understand exactly what you are doing and where your vulnerabilities are.

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30Aug/061

ReverseDOS – muhahaha



 One of the main reasons I had to upgrade the blog software was blog spam. You might have noticed I shut down comments entirely about a week ago. Well, I was getting up to 100 blog spam posts per hour. I had implemented database triggers that I found via NetNerds.Net, thanks Chrissy. But they were no match for the relentless assault I was enduring.

As I just mentioned, I'm now on Subtext and they have implmented ReverseDOS from AngryPets. The way it works is you have a file full of regular expression keywords and their DLL gets hooked up as an HTTP modules in ASP.NET, so whenever any incoming requests come in, the filtered list gets queried, and if there are any matches, the component actually hangs the connection on purpose, tying up the spammers resources and eventually returning a 403 error.

Now, instead of just deleting the spam when it reaches the database, I'm killing it before it even reaches the server and on top of that we are fighting back. The DOS part of ReverseDOS is for Denial Of Service.

I do have a suggestion for the team though. It comes with your standard keywords for blog spam, which involve pharmacetuical drugs, casino games, etc. But I have had to add maybe 30 keywords/sites in the last 24 hours and I suspect I've got to continue this for a few weeks until the spam subsides enough to really declare victory. Well, I know I've mentioned Cloudmark before, my choice for email spam removal. It works by building a network of people, so that if a certain number of trusted users blocks a piece of spam, it is blocked for everyone else. This has worked incredibly well for me, and I'd love to see something similar for ReverseDOS.

So in that spirit, I created a wiki to share config files. Check it out at reversedos.pbwiki.com. The password is "poker".

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