Sunday, December 27, 2009

Archiving Gmail

I've had enough problems with losing data "in the cloud" that I know not to think my data is safe anywhere but mirrored to multiple hard drives in my home or business... and even there you have to remember nothing is really ever totally safe (man, I sound paranoid).

My first experience with losing important communique material was back in 1999 when Microsoft decided to completely delete my Hotmail account for no apparent reason.  It was a personal account that I used on a weekly basis, and NEVER sent out any mass e-mails.  Yet one day I went to log in, and the account was simply gone.  Any time I tried to contact Microsoft about the issue, they told me they wouldn't even talk to me if I didn't have access to the address in question.  Since they had terminated or lost the account, I obviously couldn't use it to communicate with them.  But since it HAD been a legitimate account at one time, I couldn't created another account with that name.  In other words, Hotmail just completely fucked me and then walked away.  Nice.

So I learned the hard way to never trust that your data is safe with a third party.  I've never lost any data with Google, but I know people have, and there have been times when Gmail has been down long enough to make me start worrying.

Thus, the need to download (backup/archive) all my e-mail messages from Google.

There are two Firefox plug-ins that look good at first: Gmail Backup and Gmail Keeper.  However, both are written by individuals, one in the Czech Republic and one in China.  Call me paranoid again, but since downloading and archiving your files requires entering your Gmail user/pass, I'm going to pass on this option.

Recently, there came a new player to the realm of Gmail backup.  A company called Backupify has introduced a service that will download all of your precious data from online services like Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs, Blogger, Wordpress, Hotmail, etc...  They seem to be on the up and up, they have a service hotline listed on their front page, and from all evidence they seem to be a legitimate and secure option (albeit still a third party).  However, within the first two weeks of launching the service, Gmail started viewing the onslaught of downloading as an attack, and blocked the service from accessing material on their servers (and forced many Gmail account holders to reset their passwords).  Backupify has since been in dialogue with Google, and it looks like Google is being extremely cooperative with helping them get their service back on line (the simple fix is apparently setting a "slower drain" on the data), but as of this writing, the Gmail section of Backupify still states: "temporarily disabled," and I need something that will work NOW.

So the simplest method for backing up e-mail is obviously just setting up an e-mail program to download my mail, so that it is stored locally, and then backing up those files.  This requires an e-mail program and making sure everything is set up just right.

I used to use Eudora, because that's what the University I attended had on all their computers.  My oldest e-mails exist on a hard drive somewhere in Eudora format.  Later I switched to Thunderbird, but didn't really like the interface, and thus became satisfied with just using Gmail (it's all I've been using for the past five years).  Obviously, this has it's own problems (data is all stored in the cloud, and if you can't get on line or if Google's servers are down --it happens more often than you'd think, you're screwed).

Outlook has always seemed like the WORST option, as MS had a policiy of keeping such an insane choke-hold on their programs.  However, with Google getting so much good press (and money) for appearing "benevolent," MS has glommed onto the idea of actually making things easier for everyone (whodathunk?!) for "free."  They've gone through a couple incarnations of a free mail program over the past five years (some of them were awful), but I think they've finally got it.  Windows Live Mail integrates nicely into Windows 7, and also cooperates well with Windows Live (an online service like Gmail that I use to store all my contacts, as it syncs superbly with my WinMo phone).

So I created POP accounts for any e-mail address that I've ever used with Gmail.  I prefer POP to IMAP because I want to make sure that my messages stay "as is" in my Gmail account.  IMAP can be extremely useful, but it can also cause problems, in that it makes changes to your server when you alter things from your E-mail Program.  Since I'm only doing this to back up my online messages, POP is the better choice.

Windows Live Mail will only download the e-mail of a single address.  Since I have multiple e-mail personalities that all forward to my Gmail account (daniel@, info@, web@, not to mention multiple domains), I first saw this as a problem.  I wanted to simply download ALL the e-mails stored in my Gmail account.  But I'm going to go ahead and view this "problem" as a bonus, in that all my e-mails are grouped according to the e-mail address to which they were addressed (or by which they were authored).  It's kind of a pain in the ass setting up twenty separate accounts, but in the end, I supposed it's nice having everything compartmentalized.

The final step in downloading everything from Gmail in order to create a back up all of your online messages is to go into your Gmail settings and make sure you select "Enable POP for all mail (even mail that's already been downloaded)" from the "Forwarding and POP/IMAP" tab.


[UPDATE]  It would seem that though you have to enter every e-mail address you've ever associated with your Gmail account to make sure you download all your e-mails, Windows Live Mail doesn't necessarily download messages to the correct corresponding account.  For instance, e-mail for my "daniel" account was often downloaded to the "music" account, etc.  I have no idea why this is happening (I carefully studied the message headers, and they don't seem to have ANY correlation), but since my ultimate goal is just making sure ALL my e-mail is backed up to a local hard drive, I'm not going to worry about it too much right now.  And I can still search "all e-mail" to find things, so I suppose it's not incredibly critical where each message is being stored.


Using Windows Live Writer

Oh, wow this makes things easier!

If there's one gripe I have about Blogger, it's how difficult it is to see what your post is going to look like when you hit publish (their web preview does not show your backgrounds, columns, etc.).

The only thing I wish Live Writer had was a function to download your formatting options from your template's css styles, so you could just use your css options from the drop down menu that allows you to choose heading 1, 2, 3, etc. and paragraph.

With Windows Live Writer, you can compose blog entries that look like they'll end up looking as you type them.

Very nice.

I'm looking forward to posting this and seeing how the post looks online.

[EDIT] Perfect!  I'm loving Windows Live Writer!  It's also great to be able to compose a blog post while offline (say, while on a transatlantic flight), and then post it when you have connectivity again.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Solution to Problem Pairing Bluetooth Device to Windows 7 (or Vista)

I am in the process of setting up my Omnia to act as a remote control (via Bluetooth) with Windows Media Center (more importantly, Hulu desktop plugged into Media Center).

I was having a HECK of a time pairing my device to my computer (Windows 7). Always there was a "bang" and when I would have Windows 7 troubleshoot the device, it couldn't come up with an answer.

I finally found the solution in a post by Rajiv Singh Suwal (Computer Engineer / Senior Software Architect). Thank you, Mr. Suwal.

  1. Make sure Windows Mobile Device Center is installed on your computer. If it's not, you can download it from here.
  2. Right click on "computer" in your start menu to access the Device Manager.
  3. There will be an "Unknown Device" named "Bluetooth Peripheral Device" with a "bang" on it (exclamation point).
  4. Right-Click "Bluetooth Peripheral Device" and click on "Update Driver Software."
  5. Click "Browse My Computer for Driver Software" button.
  6. Click "Let Me Pick from a List of Device Drivers on my computer".
  7. Select "Bluetooth Radio" from the list. In the Company List choose "Microsoft Corporation" (not just Microsoft).
  8. From the drivers list there may be one or more drivers with the name "Windows Mobile-Based Device Support" with different driver versions. Select the most recent.
  9. Ignore the warnings about the driver not being trusted (hilarious, or perhaps telling, that Windows 7 doesn't trust drivers from MICROSOFT) and jump through the hoops.
  10. Now "Device Manager'" should display "Windows Mobile-based device support"when you click on "Bluetooth Radios."
  11. You may need to remove the device in your Bluetooth panel and then reinstall it. You may also need to restart your computer.

Worked like a charm for me! This should work for iPhones, WinMo devices and Android phones, 'cause it's all about the Bluetooth.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

DO NOT install Broadcom's bluetooth driver software update to Windows 7

I was messing with syncing my Omnia to my laptop via Bluetooth, and my MSI Bluetooth dongle didn't seem to be working properly. I decided to download and install the update from Broadcom's site.

Everything seemed to be going well, until...

Suddenly my machine seemed to be possessed. I watched in horror as the icons from my desktop started disappearing. An error popped up saying the install couldn't find the cab file it needed. The popup dialog said I needed to verify that the file existed. I looked, and the file DIDN'T exist. I was offered no help and no alternatives. The only two choices were find the file (that didn't exist) or cancel. So I canceled, and then the computer completely crapped out. When I went to reboot, the machine told me I was fucked.

I am currently trying to repair via a restore point with my Windows 7 disk, but I'm pretty freaking unhappy about this.

On top of this mess, the whole "deleting icons from the desktop" thing REALLY FUCKED ME, because it deleted files from my Microsoft Mesh environment. How in the world does a driver update ERASE YOUR DATA?! I am worried that I am not going to be able to recover some EXTREMELY important files that this "update" deleted from my Live Mesh folders (stupid me for thinking something "in the cloud" was safe --I thought because it was synced to three computers I was OK, but since those computers were all on when this happened, Mesh "synced" them by deleting all the files that were erased from my laptop).

So... DO NOT install the Bluetooth driver/software update from Broadcom's website. It will KILL your computer. Thanks, Broadcom. You suck. Bad.

[UPDATE] This is much worse than I'd thought. Not only is my machine completely out of commission, but when I plugged the system hard drive into another machine to simply retrieve my data before having to do a complete new OS (and all programs) install, I found that the VAST MAJORITY of my data has been wiped clean. Music folder, Pictures folder, Videos folder, Documents folder... all GONE.

I would say that the file SetupBtwDownloadSE.exe hosted on the Broadcom site is a virus, not a Bluetooth driver update.

I'm not sure how Broadcom can defend hosting a file that will completely destroy your computer and all your data, especially when they are purporting that it is a Bluetooth driver update. I am astounded (and at a total loss).


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Temper Trap "Conditions"

Every so often, I hear a song and like it enough to check out the album. Even less often, I check out the album and like it enough to make the purchase.

I just downloaded Conditions by The Temper Trap after hearing "Sweet Disposition" on the Glass Note label web page while looking for contact information for getting a sync/master license for a Phoenix song for our movie.

Being label mates with Phoenix is definitely a good first sign. They've got a similar "driving pop" vibe that I really dig. They've also got a little Snow Patrol (listen to "Fader") and Arcade Fire (listen to "Down River") action going on. They've definitely got a good deal of 80's influence ("Sweet Disposition" could have easily been on a When In Rome album --there's even a little Big Country, early U2 and Dream Academy spilling from various rifts in the album's space/time continuum).

The latter half of the album ("Soldier On," "Fools," etc.) leaves me with a kind of Coldplay meets the Bee Gees feeling that prevents me from giving the album a full "run out and buy it NOW" recommendation, which is not to say that I don't like what I'm hearing. I just don't feel as strongly about recommending it (though I do love hearing what it would sound like if Jose Gonzalez got together with The Killers to make a pop album, especially on "Resurrection").

After several listens, I still feel comfortable with a strong: if you haven't heard these guys, I definitely recommend you check them out.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Logitech TrackMan Wheel Review

In my constant quest for the perfect combination of equipment to alleviate the pain, and to set me further on the path of actually becoming a robot (able to sit in front of a computer for 16+ hours a day), I've tried all kinds of different input devices.

I've been using the ZeroTension Mouse for quite some time, and while it has all but eliminated my ulnar nerve strain and the pain in my wrist and elbow (by allowing me to rotate my hand to a vertical position where it should be, vs. flat like most mice require), the sheer size of the device forces me to hold my arm too far out to the side of my keyboard, and thus the pain in my shoulder has increased.

I've finally decided to give a trackball a shot.

So far, I love it. I went with the Logitech TrackMan Wheel (corded... the cordless version seemed a waste, and the wireless dongle that plugs into your computer is huge). You have to clean the ball bearings that "float" the track ball every week or so (extremely easy), but the precision is great (though I still use a tablet for drawing and extreme precision), and I love not having to move the device around (it's stationary and the ball moves).

It took about an hour to get used to (I kept trying to move the whole thing [blush]), but now it's fantastic. I love how little desk real estate is quires.

I was also a little worried about pain in my thumb joints from the constant, repetitive motion, but I've been using it for a little over three weeks, and I haven't noticed any pain there at all.

It took me a while to decide between the devices that utilize the thumb and the devices that utilize finger movement. From back in my "regular mouse" days, I remember the excruciating pain in my hand from constantly turning a scroll wheel with my middle finger. I assume the trackballs that utilize finger movement would produce a similar effect, so I went with the thumb ball. Even now, I feel the growing pain from using a scroll wheel with my middle finger again, and I have to be diligent about actually clicking the scroll wheel down like a button to activate using the ball to scroll (I wish I could disable the wheel's ability to scroll, and use it ONLY as a button, but that doesn't seem to be an option).

My one gripe is that the device still positions my hand too flat (thus creating that ulnar nerve strain again). There is some slope to the device, that places your hand a little less flat, but it's still too much. Thus, I've been working on a solution to tip the device up to get it more vertical (so that the ball is almost directly on top, with the buttons on the side and the side of your hand resting on the table, like the crappy picture to the left).

I tried a couple of different wedges fashioned out of Sculpy, but they were pretty garish. I also tried a giant wad of Silly Putty, and while it's the best thing so far, it tends to flatten out over time. I even thought about cutting off the right edge of the TrackMan Wheel to create a new planar surface (though not enough surface), but I think the best solution is probably going to be creating a wedge out of a block of wood and then maybe trying to integrate it into the side of my keyboard somehow (after I cut the number pad off so my arm isn't stretched out so far).

All of this nonsense could be easily eliminated if Logitech simply built the thing correctly in the first place, with the ball on top and the buttons on the side. Your hand would be in a zero tension position, and all would be right with the world.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Streamlining "Back to Normal" from a Hard Reset

So I'm really getting the "back to normal" from a hard reset down to a science.

A couple of days ago I spent three hours on the phone with Verizon trying to figure out why my phone hadn't been able to receive data for three days. I finally gave up on them and did a hard reset. This always means starting from ground zero and having to reinstall everything, so I decided to make some changes to streamline the process. ***As an aside, I'm wondering if the reason I lost data transmission/receive capability was a conflict between the WiFi tethering software and the new Omnia ROM.

I now have a folder on my "My Storage" that contains the cabs of everything I reinstall when I do a hard reset (SPB Mobile Shell, Total Commander, Torch Button, Google Maps and Audio Notes Touch). Since a hard reset doesn't wipe the My Storage (or SD Card), those files are always there and ready when I need to start over. I also realized that the new Omnia i910 ROM already contains Windows Live, so there's no need to install that in order to sync my contacts (very nice).

I don't have this perfected yet, but there are some good programs like CERegEditor that will not only allow you to edit your registry via your computer, but they will also allow you to save your changes in configuration files and thus simply click a button to make all the saved changes (disable Keyboard auto deploy, make the vertical scroll bar wider).

If only there was some way to have the phone automatically:
  1. re-associate all the photos and ringtones for my contacts
  2. change the thread_sms.htm file so that the Text Composition area has a reasonable amount of space
  3. set up my exchange server to sync Google Calendars (7 of them) using
  4. Reload all my RSS feeds and Podcasts
  5. Change setting for phone dial lock to off

Increase SMS Text Composition Area

For some reason, WinMo's default SMS composition area is only two lines high. That means you can't see what you're typing, and it's incredibly frustrating.

Luckily there's an easy fix. Using your Reg. Editor (I use Total Commander), navigate to the Windows directory on your mobile device and find the file called thread_sms.htm. You will need to edit this file (clicking on it will only cause your device to try and open it in your browser; make sure to select the edit icon in your Reg. Editor to alter the file).

Scroll down and find the line that looks like this:
< Inbox:content id="COMPOSESUBJECT" width="98%" height=35 spell focus count links noclearonbackpresshold limit=0 autocap inserttab scroll / >

Change that "height=35" to something larger. I've got mine at "60" and that seems to work pretty well.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Adobe Help and Support

I have honestly never encountered a "support" site as worthless as Adobe's. I have always thought this. It's unbelievable that a company who makes such fantastic products could make such a mind-bogglingly awful website.

It's INCREDIBLY slow, it takes like 20 or 30 seconds before the "comments" portion of the page in the help/manual section even shows up (you have to just sit on the page and wait), often when you post something it's dubbed a "question" and removed (hilarious), and the site or various elements thereof is often down for maintenance (right now the site has a notice saying customer help won't be available from Friday, Oct. 9th to Wed., Oct. 14th --that's a LONG freaking time).

My problem today is that I have a sequence in Premiere Pro CS4 who's clips are not associated with any files in the Project Window (bins). This is problematic (not to mention it shouldn't even be possible), as I do not know where the files being referenced by the sequence are located (so I can edit RED file color, temperature, tint, etc. using "Source Settings"). I know where they are on my hard drive, but I have no way of clicking on them from within Premiere to make adjustments to the files.

There is no information regarding this issue on the website or in the forums. I posted the problem as a comment in the "help/manual" portion of the site, and I received an e-mail stating the comment had been removed because it's a question. Well... I'm betting this happens to other people, and I'm betting it would be extremely helpful to have the issue documented on the page that they will go to to try and find a solution to their problem (especially since there is no other page referencing the problem).

So WTF, Adobe?


Thursday, October 8, 2009

SPB Mobile Shell for Windows Mobile

The one thing that prevents the Omnia i910 from completely obliterating the iPhone is the user interface. I'm not sure why you'd make such a fantastic phone that's so difficult to use (read: navigation is atrocious). You can spend all kinds of time editing the registry, installing cab files, and basically hacking the hell out of the phone, or...

You can simply install SPB Mobile Shell. As mentioned before, I've always balked at the price of this download, but after having used it for a couple of weeks, I'm sold.

My initial download was version 3.0 just a couple weeks ago, but yesterday as I was getting ready to purchase a registration number, I saw they had upgraded to 3.5, so I went ahead and upgraded to the latest and greatest.

There are some great updates in 3.5 (3D e-mail and text views, the 3D carousel, additional widget pages, integrated Facebook and Twitter functionality, etc.), but with these updates come a few bugs.

3D Text and E-mail views don't work with the icon that brings in all three communication options (phone log, texts, e-mails). In order to get 3D text and e-mail to open when you tap the icon, you'll need to use the individual widgets (you can't use the combined 3 icon widget). You will also need to set the default view by holding down each icon, selecting "default action," and selecting "open 3D viewer."

Another significant bug (SPB is promising to fix soon) is that the "reply" and "reply to all" buttons don't populate the "to" field in your texting program unless "threaded/conversation" view is switched off. Again, "reply" and "reply to all" WILL WORK from the 3D view, but you must disable threaded SMS for now ("conversation view" on the Omnia).

The super cool (but otherwise useless) 3D Carousel (see photo above) doesn't work on the Omnia, because Omnia doesn't have a Graphics Accelerator --Omnia II has a processor fast enough to use software acceleration that will work well. You can see it working here.

Rather than completely reinvent the wheel, here is a great review on ZDnet (with video presentation) of SPB Mobile Shell. The review shows what's new in 3.5, and then takes a little time to go over the features of the whole program. It's a great way to familiarize yourself with what SPB Mobile Shell is all about.

Just FYI, a couple of my favorite things about SPB Mobile Shell are being able to install shortcuts to any app on pretty much any screen (it's so much easier to access your phone's programs), the superior contacts management, the superior calendar functionality, and being able to add photos for contacts from Facebook (seems trite, but I love this feature).

SPB Mobile Shell is a vast improvement over any interface I've seen for Windows Mobile touch phones, and is the last piece of the puzzle to make the Omnia i910 the ultimate iPhone killer.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Find Your MAC Address On Your Windows Mobile Device

Evidently your MAC address is a big, giant secret, because it's nearly impossible to find on your WinMo phone (it's not under any of the device settings).

However, here's the trick:

On Windows Mobile 6.1 and higher, dial #43574357* (I know a lot of these "dial codes" don't work on the Omnia i910, but I can verify that this one does). This code will launch a screen that shows all your device information, including PDA Version, Phone Version, Browser Info, Language, Battery, Bluetooth Version, Bluetooth MAC, Wi-Fi Version, Wi-Fi MAC, Phone Number, MEID, System ID, Channel, ESN, PRL/ERI, Technology, Network, and Capabilities.

On Windows Mobile 6.0, it's just #4357* (I don't know why they decided to duplicate the number with higher versions).


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sync iTunes to Windows Mobile Device (Omnia i910)

Let's face it, Windows Media sucks. Really bad. It's an awful program to use.

And while iTunes has it's fair share of problems, it's still infinitely better than Windows Media.

The biggest problems iTunes faces are the same problems all Mac devices face: Mac keeps an iron grip on EVERYTHING. But as usually, people have figured out ways to pry open Apple's greedy little fingers.

I had been manually moving tunes back and forth from my computer to my Omnia. Playlists are simply XML files, and all the songs are just MP3's. It seemed like it would be easy enough to write a program to automate generating/converting/moving files... and sure enough, somebody's done it (sort of)!

There are a couple of pay programs, but me, being the cheap bastard that I am, found a great free one called iTunes Sync (creative, no?) from Binary Fortress (these guys also make a really great multi-monitor display program called Display Fusion).

I installed and set up iTuneSync according to the very simple instructions on the BinaryFortress website. I created a folder in iTunes called "Omnia Storage Card" and filled it with other play lists. I changed my USB connection for my Omnia from ActiveSync to Mass Storage Device. I clicked "Synchronize MP3 Player" in iTunes Sync, and voila! Everything in the "Omnia Storage Card" folder was synced to my Omnia.

Oh, glorious day!

One caveat I've realized after actually spending some time with this... the program only syncs the files... no playlists are transferred to your device, so you still have to manually sync (see problems below) or create playlists from within Windows Media Player Mobile. The developer of iTunes Sync is promising multiple playlist syncing in the next version, but he is not promising any specific release date for the new version.

So for now, this solution is only good for syncing the songs that you have in playlists. You will still have to manually create the play lists themselves. A workaround would be a program that could convert iTunes XML play lists to .ASX, which is the format Media Player Mobile uses.

Eric Daugherty created a program that will convert iTunes XML playlists to m3u, ext, wpl, or zpl (it will also transfer the actual MP3 files used by the playlist, which is GREAT), but apparently Windows Media Mobile will not play any of these formats (go figure). So what I need is a program that will convert the iTunes XML files to .ASX (which is used by the Windows Media Mobile player).

There are plenty of players for Windows Mobile that will play M3u, so I guess I'll just be using a different media player for now (pay attention Microsoft).

[Oct. 4, 2009 - UPDATE] While Windows Media Player mobile can't use .WPL files, Window Media Player 11 does... so the solution is to use Eric Daugherty's export program to create a playlist from iTunes for Windows Media, and then simply use Windows Media (via Active Sync) to place the iTunes playlist (and files) on your Windows Mobile device. If you have Eric's program set to generate the WPL file and place it in your Windows Media Music directory, it will simply appear under playlists in Windows Media, and you can sync with your device from there.

Woo-hoo! Not as elegant as I'd like (you have to use three programs), but it works perfectly!

[ANOTHER SOLUTION] Music Bridge will sync iTunes and Windows Media libraries. It's a pretty robust program with many options as to what you can sync (see the download page for a description). After running music bridge, you can then sync your device using Windows Media/ActiveSync as above. When I tried this method, it didn't seem like the sync was working (the iTunes lists didn't show up under playlists in WinMedia). However, under the sync settings in Windows Media, all the iTunes playlists were available for syncing with my device. Weird, but it works!

So hopefully one of the above solutions will work for you!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

The New Omnia Build (with CF03 ROM and GPS)

So I installed the newest official ROM from Verizon today (CF03), and am happily using GPS with third party applications. I used UMDL_OMNIA to do this, and the process was extremely straight forward and easy. That said, don't get careless and brick your phone, which is something that quite a few careless people have managed to do during their upgrade.

A new ROM means a clean slate, so here's what I did after my shiny new install.
  • Downloaded Google Maps
    I still like Google Maps over Microsoft's Live Search. The traffic seems truer to what is actually on the road, and it's just easier to use over all.

  • Downloaded Windows Live and synced contacts
    I sync my contacts from Live. I use this service to organize and store all my e-mail and phone contacts. It's easy to update and always available on line. One click on your phone syncs to the online server and it acts as a second exchange server (so you still have your main Exchange Server free to set up with whomever you want). If you use or, it will also sync that e-mail, and leave the phone's "regular" exchange server to be used elsewhere. Again, this means you can use multiple exchange servers.

  • Set up Exchange Server with NuevaSync
    After spending a lot of wasted time giving Google Sync a shot... I set my Exchange Server back to NuevaSync. Google is ridiculously NOT supporting multiple calendar sync, so NuevaSync is the obvious choice to keep my four calendars synced with my phone. I set NuevaSync to sync my calendar, I keep my contacts synced with Windows Live, and I set up a separate POP3 account for my Gmail. I prefer POP3 over IMAP, because I want to be able to just "delete all" e-mail, but not have to worry about accidentally erasing something I'll need later.

  • Downloaded the SPB Mobile Shell 3.0 3.5 Trial
    I'm a cheap bastard, so I always look longingly at the web page for this app, but then balk at the price. After spending a good deal of time sifting through cooked ROMS on various boards, I realized that the majority of what I'm looking for has to do with the interface, so I'm giving it a try. So far, I really like what I see and how easy it is to navigate. We'll see if in 30 days I like it enough to pony up $30.

  • Installed Vito Audio Notes Touch
    This is a fantastic and simple program that allows you to record your voice easily. I use it mostly to capture ideas for songs when they strike. It's also a great way to record your phone calls. This has become an invaluable tool for me, as it allows me to review phone conversations I've had.

  • Found and loaded up some Podcast and RSS URL's
    A while back I was driving somewhere and my car stereo went out. I didn't have any music loaded up on my Omnia, so I thought maybe I'd check out a podcast or two. Trying to find a podcast address, load it up, play it, etc... is extremely dangerous at 70mph, so I thought next time I'll be prepared.

    Some of my RSS choices: Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Engadget.

    Some of my Podcast choices: NPR Fresh Air, Contrast Podcast, NPR Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!, NPR All Songs Considered

    (I'm very open to more suggestions for either category.)

  • Installed Total Commander
    This is my favorite explorer/registry editor.

  • Turned off motion rotate (moved rotate to camera button)
  • Switched dpad to optical mouse (I wish there was an easier, quicker way to switch back and forth)
  • Assigned buttons: camera hold is camera, camera short is screen rotate, main menu hold is voice commands, main menu short is Google Maps for now, but that will likely change.
  • Edited registry to make scroll bar thick enough to use with a finger (why WinMo is sooo un-finger-friendly I'll never know)

  • Installed TorchButton
    The Omnia has a fantastic little flashlight (it's an LED that functions as the flash for the camera, so it makes a superb tiny flashlight --waaaaay better than the iPhone's "white screen" sorry excuse for a flashlight). The problem is, it's really hard to get to the switch once you've installed SPB (the flashlight button is either a softkey on a Today 2 screen, or the bottom volume rocker button... but the catch is you can only make that work from the Today screen. So some kind soul came up with a button that will make the flashlight work even from SPB Mobile Shell. You actually have to install an older version (1.1) that somebody else has paired up with a basic emulation of HTCCamera1.dll. Without this emulator, the button doesn't work correctly. But with it... works like a charm!

  • Downloaded and installed Adrenylyne's "remove call lock" CAB
    [UPDATE] It seems this CAB is obsolete with the new ROM. Go to Settings>Phone>Services>Dialer Touch Lock and click "Change Setting." You have choices of off, 2 seconds, 5 seconds, and 10 seconds. (Thanks, Anonymous!)

    Previously I had been using the registry hack to switch to the original Samsung dialer (HKLM/Security/Phone/Skin Enabled: 1 : change 1 to 0 --not only does this remove the pop-up lock, but the older skin saves about 10MB of memory), but this time I decided to try out Adrenylyne's CAB to simply remove the pop-up lock instead. Anybody that has tried to spend time in a call que or navigating an online phone system knows that the pop-up lock is simply unacceptable.

  • Installed HTC Accelerometer emulator
That's it for now. SPB Mobile Shell has eliminated the need for a lot of my "usuals" (iDialer, Green Button, PocketCM, remapping soft keys, messing with themes, rerouting shortcuts and icons, etc.) so that's nice. I'll update the post if I make more changes. I'll likely delete Shozu (to free up device memory) as usual, and I need to update Opera's cache and download locations. I may reinstall Skyfire, but to be honest, I wasn't that impressed with it. Sure, the Flash functionality is nice, but it would hang and crash a lot, so what's the use?

I'd love to cook up a ROM, but I'm not sure that I'm willing to devote the time to such an endeavor. We'll see.


Omnia Firmware update (ROM version CF03)

Verizon released the new firmware update for the i910 back in July, but I haven't had time to upgrade until now. I had a little trouble actually finding the update, so I'm posting a link to the Samsung page here:

Officially, the executable works only on Vista 32-bit or WinXP, but there are some workarounds, the easiest one being simply using UMDL_OMNIA v2.3 to install an img file (you'll need to have a Modaco account (free) to download the file).

I actually had so much trouble finding the CF03 download, that I installed the CC20 "leaked" version from iDoctor first (you can also find the UMDL_OMNIA program at this location, and you don't need a Modaco account to download it). There are a few people saying that CC20 has better battery life, but the claims seem dubious. I'd go with the newest version, CF03 (which I did).

The biggest reason I was after a new ROM, is of course GPS functionality from 3rd party apps, so as soon as I upgraded the ROM, I immediately downloaded Google Maps for my Omnia, and guess what... WOO-HOO, my location was pinpointed within seconds! (well, sort of, maybe 1000 yards off-- but I was very happy with the speed at which I was located)

So now I'm rocking GPS, and my life has changed.

The ROM update means starting over with the phone setup (upgrading the ROM wipes the phone clean), so I'll try and document that adventure (what I do and don't install) in a later post.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Synergy: one mouse/keyboard to rule them all!

For some reason I have five computers (one's a laptop). I suppose I should consolidate, but right now, it's easier just to keep them all. However, this means I need to access all of them at any given moment.

This means FIVE keyboards and FIVE mice (do you say mice when you're talking input device?) laying about my desk, which leaves little room for anything else.

I had been looking at KVM switches for a while, but was really nervous about adding an extra hub to any DVI cables that might degrade video quality. I was also worried about the fact that most KVM's are only for two computers; they start getting really expensive when you're talking about three or four.

A long time ago I had heard about Synergy, but at the time, I just started using Remote Desktop. I thought that was going to work for me, but I've since found that Remote Desktop kind of sucks, because of it's video limitations (you can't use full 32bit color, and streaming video is a stuttery mess --in this day and age of Gigabit, I shouldn't have to deal with this).

So yesterday when I set up my newest machine, I revisited Synergy, and it's freaking great!

Five computers, and one mouse to rule them all!

Synergy is an open source program that you install on all your computers. One computer acts as the "server" and your other computers feed off that server. When you mouse to the edge of your screen, you just keep going over to the next computer, exactly like a multiple monitor set up. You can also set up areas above and below the monitor (thus, more computers can be accessed).

The down side is the developer stopped working on the project back in 2006.

The upside is that a community of geeks has taken over with a fork called Synergy+, though the only release marked "stable" so far is 32-bit. There are 64-bit versions, but they are marked unstable.

Still, regular old Synergy seems to be working well for me. I've got it running on Vista Business Ultimate, and plan on adding my XP machines to the mix soon.



Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Build: what do you download and install first?

I just set up the new machine (more on that later).

This is what I immediately downloaded and installed (in order):
  1. Updates for OS (Windows Vista Business Ultimate)
  2. AVG (I got burned pretty bad last year)
  3. Malwarebytes (the virus I picked up wouldn't allow me to install this, and it was killing me)
  4. Firefox (IE sucks)
  5. Mozilla Weave (syncing your bookmarks across machines is glorious)
  6. CPU-Z (gotta make sure everything's running alright)
  7. Launchy (why doesn't Windows have this feature automatically?)
  8. Synergy (using one mouse and one keyboard for all my machines is awesome)
  9. Flash plug-in for browsers
  10. Updates for Adobe CS4 (back to work!)
There will be more of course, but those were the things I found I couldn't live without, and had to download immediately upon firing up the new machine.

I'm curious as to what other users' immediate downloads are after building a new machine.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

30" LCD Monitor for Video Editing

It kills me that I can't find any decent reviews of 30" monitors from this year (2009). A lot of the reviews I'm reading are from 2006. WTF? Has nothing changed in the world of 30" monitors since Dell upgraded the 3007WFP to the 3008WFP?

I'm looking to purchase a larger monitor. I love my Dell 2407WFP, but at a maximum resolution of 1920x1200, it's just not up to the task at hand. I need to be able to view RED files at 2k resolution (2048x1024).

Here are the top models to choose from at the consumer level (under $2,000): Dell 3008WFP (some still swear by the 3007WFP), the Apple Cinema Display, HP LP3065, Samsung 305T, and I suppose the Gateway XHD3000 and LG W300H.

There are also 30" models from NEC and Eizo, but they definitely bump you up over the $2000 mark into the "pro-sumer" level of things.

There are many things that factor into what would be the best monitor (contrast ratio, response time, gamma display, etc.), and the biggest factor in these is how the screen is constructed.

Here is an explanation from jaguarskx on Tom's Hardware (in 2007, I might add), and yes, I consider "jaguarskx" to be the preeminent expert on LCD panel types:

TN = Twisted Nematic - These are 6-bit screens that cannot really reproduce 16.7 million colors. They can only reproduce 262,144 colors; 64 shades of Red, Green & Blue. Thats (2^6)^3 or 64^3. All the other colors are created through a process called dithering. These typically have fast response times (for gaming) at the expense of color accuracy. These are inexpensive monitors.

MVA = Multidomain Vertical Alignment
PVA = Patterned-ITO Vertical Alignment

MVA and PVA panel are the most common 8-bit LCD screen around. They are relatively slow compared to TN, but offers better color accuracy. Good viewing angles and contrast ratio. However not all MVA and PVA panels are 8-bit screens. S-MVA and S-PVA are typically the ones that are 8-bit panel from my research. S = Super.

8-bit LCDs can truly reproduce 16.7 million colors. That's because there will be 256 shades of each color (2^8 ); Red, Green & Blue. Therefore 256^3 = 16.7 million (actually, a little more).

S-IPS = Super In-Plane Switching. These are high end and really expensive LCD panels. All these panels are 8-bit panels and comes the closest to CRT image quality. From what I've read they also have very good response times as well. LCD monitors geared towards graphic artists who demands the most color accuracy are designed with these type of panels. That means the shades of color you see on the screen are the exact shades that will be printed out on a good color printer.

That's at least a beginning. I need an IPS panel. But this seems pretty standard these days. Some gamers prefer the TN panels because they're a little faster and much cheaper, but I definitely need color consistency, so IPS it is.

Now I have to decide between the monitors on my list above. The big three seem to be the Apple, the Dell, and the HP (the Samsung gets pretty good reviews, but nothing's changed since 2005... that makes me nervous --should it?).

There are no definitive winners regarding any of these. Depending upon the review you read, any one of these is the superior monitor. Can this really be the case?

The Dell 3008WFP often wins the debate because of the sheer numbers of inputs on the device. I could care less. Give me my DVI port and I'm happy. I guess I'll enjoy the upgrade to 10-bit color (via the DisplayPort) over 8-bit (via DVI), but it's not really a battle-winning factor. That said, I am starting to doubt all choices but the Dell because of the DisplayPort... so I guess I lied. It does matter.

Dell seems to be the brand that gets commented on for color inconsistency the most often. But none of the others really "shine" in this area, anyway, so it doesn't really help with my decision. Most of the comlaints also seem to be from back in the year 2007, so I wonder if they've fixed the problem. I don't know, because I can't find a damn review from this year.

If I go simply by price, Apple loses the battle hands down. You can't really find it for less than $1,699 (and there are lots of people bitching about the ACD problems to boot, so it's not a matter of "the higher the price, the better the monitor"). The "regular" price for the Dell isn't much better, but it goes on sale all the time, and can usually be purchased for around $1299, depending on the day (it's really annoying how Dell fluctuates their prices all the time --the 3008WFP was actually $1039 in March of 2009). The HP is usually $1,199. The Samsung can often be found for less than $1,000.

Awwww who am I kidding? I'm buying the Dell. Having the Display Port for 10-bit color is the clincher. Now I just have to figure out how to get them to sell it to me for the price I've seen a million times ($1,299 instead of $1,699... or better yet, $1,039), but isn't available "right now."


Thursday, August 6, 2009

New Topic: Editing RED Footage in Adobe Premiere CS4

Alright... I've been gone for a long, long time. Before my blogging hiatus, the major topic of discussion was hacking up the Samsung Omnia i910, and while I will continue to tinker with that toy (nay, superior smart phone) my new topic of choice is video editing and post production for "film!"

I am getting ready to edit a feature film in Adobe Premiere Pro CS4.

"Really? Shouldn't you be editing in Final Cut Pro, like everyone else?" you might ask.

Well, we shot our film in full resolution (4K) RED. Final Cut hasn't addressed the format as well as Adobe, so I'm going with Premiere. Premiere is simply at the forefront of editing native RED footage.

The new version of Final Cut Pro released last week touts the ability to edit RED better than it's previous version, but FCP still forces you to wrap the .r3d file in a Quicktime wrapper, thus you aren't really accessing the RED files natively (you have to go through that workaround).

The RED plug-in for Adobe Premiere is just the best way to go in my book.

So much of post is done in After Affects (no matter what platform you're on and what software you're using), and the integration and flow of Premiere and After Affects is superior (vs. FCP or AVID) to say the least.

Yes, there are issues with editing in Premiere (not the least of which is Adobe's apparent REFUSAL to address syncing and linking audio and video files --more on that later). But each leading platform (FCP and AVID being the two others), have their issues as well.

Other than sound, the biggest problem with Premiere (and it's admittedly a big one), as that it's a youngster in the field. Pretty much anybody who's been doing anything with film on a serious, professional level, has been using either AVID or Final Cut Pro. Thus, the knowledge base for Avid and FCP is much more vast. Finding answers for your problems with Premiere takes a lot of work. Hopefully my posts on the topic can help people find the same answers I was looking for a little quicker (a couple issues we had took weeks to find an answer to --some of the problems we still haven't found answers to, which leads me to believe that there might not be answers yet).

Bottom line, you're going to have problems (big or small) with any program you go with, so you just need to make sure you're doing what's best for you and your particular project.

Next up, the build (what I learned from researching for weeks before putting together a computer for the specific purpose of video editing).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Omnia vs. iPhone :: OMNIA WINS!!!

I haven't blogged for quite some time, because I am currently Producing and Directing a film ( It's a lot of work, and takes a lot of time. However, this news is so note worthy, that I thought I would take a moment.

When we move into our production offices, there was no live internet. This is when I found out that the Omnia is superior to the iPhone.

I lived without computer access to the web for about 4 hours, then remembered I had the wifi tether .cab on my computer. I uploaded it to my Omnia, installed, and within a couple of minutes my Omnia was transformed into the most glorious WiFi router! Not only did I have access to the web, but I had the entire office hooked up with high speed internet!

The clincher came when Erika was video Gchatting Mikey, Brett was downloading files, and I was checking Gmail. You heard that right, multiple users and one of them was using VIDEO CHAT (on her Mac).

Are you freaking kidding me? Omnia wins.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Google Docs Are Complete Garbage (and making me very angry)

Answer me this: what good are documents that you can never access? I have been trying to get my 20+ person film production staff to use Google Docs over the past two weeks. No fewer than three times a day am I unable to access Google Docs. Not only that, but none of the people in our domain can see the documents until they are actually "shared" with each specific individual ("share with everyone" has never, ever, ever worked). What a pain in the ass to have to make sure I select each and every person I want to be able to access each document with (since "share with everyone" doesn't work).

I am soooooo sick of this screen:

Google, you are slipping. Big time. I'm actually thinking about using MS Live Mesh for document sharing. Pay attention, Google. Fix yer shit.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Verizon Omnia i910 GPS Finally Hacked!

I'm elbow deep in budgets, schedules and SAG paper work, so I haven't had time to try this yet, but people are reporting it working! If I get a free moment between now and Sept. 25 [ugh!], I'll be sure to try this out and post my results.

Until then, please let us know if this works for you.

Viva la Hackers!

ps Be careful not to brick your phone!


Friday, April 17, 2009

Warning: Zip Domains is a Scam

At some point I plan on developing a nice little widget for musicians that allows you to post and advertise your gigs via a widget that can be posted on blogs and web pages. A couple years ago I acquired the names and When I did, I received a couple e-mails regarding organizations asking if I want to purchase the domain, since I had the .net and .org versions. They were asking for more money than I wanted to pay, so I declined.

Recently I started getting e-mails again, telling me had recently become available and asking me if I wanted to purchase it through their company. The first e-mail (from ) said I could buy for $99.95. The second e-mail (from at "Zip Domains") said I could obtain it for $49. I then got another e-mail from the same address and "company" stating the same price. Then came two more e-mails from showing a price of $99.97 and giving these links:

Then I got an e-mail stating:
Our company specializes in acquiring expired domain names to help individuals and businesses protect their brand online.

The domain name GIGWIDGET.COM expired recently and we were able to secure it.

We noticed that you own GIGWIDGET.NET and felt that you may be interested in acquiring the .COM version of your existing domain name.

It is now available for a one-time fee of only $30.00 USD.

To purchase or learn more, please visit

Thirty bucks. Not bad for a domain that I actually did want, but I wanted to check out the legitimacy of Zip Domains first. The very first Google search popped up somebody saying that they had had a similar experience, but that the domain was just freely available. So I went to my registrar, typed in the name, and sure enough, it was available to the world. So I purchased it for my regular price, and now I own the domain without having gone through the channels of Zip Domains, which I consider a scam company at this point.

They were suggesting that they had exclusive rights to the domain, and that I could obtain it only through them, which is false. The domain was freely available, and at a MUCH lower price than any of the prices they offered.

Just wanted to let people know that if you get an offer from Zip Domains, just go to your registrar and buy the domain on your own. Zip Domains is just trying to scam you for extra cash.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Favorite New Band: Phoenix

what I'm listening to: United by Phoenix

I have drunk the Kool-Aid, and I have fallen in love. Sign me up for the field trip to South America, as long as Phoenix is flying the plane.

With just the right amount of reverence to Bowie and Byrne, Phoenix crafts pop-deliciousness with a fervor for life. I'm not quite sure how they've been flying under my radar up until now (especial considering my penchant for Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, Sondre Lerche and the aforementioned David Bowie and David Byrne). Perhaps it's because these guys are Frogs, and live far, far away.

I feel a little (just a little!) like I'm getting old, like my finger slipped for a moment from the pulse, like LCD SS, losing my edge. I hate it when I discover a band on SNL. It means I haven't been paying attention. But last night these guys definitely whipped me out of a trance when they injected 30 Rockefeller Plaza with their bouncy, dulcet tones.

The drummer simply exudes joy as he bangs out happiness with precision and abandon. The lead singer is cool, without poking you in the eye with it (I'm so sick of hipster-indifference posing as cool, so thank the MCP for somebody who just is cool). Wifey says the guitar player looks a little like Johnny Depp (I guess in dirty, Edward Scissors Hands kind of way), and even I can see that the keyboard player is wicked hot. So hey, not only are they sonically pleasing, but visually as well!

I'm listening to United while I type this. "If I Ever Feel Better" just started playing. Oh, oh, oh, me likey!

Phoenix. New album drops May 25. Check 'em out.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Omnia Ground Zero reboot

I'm not quite finished with this list yet, but I'm going to post it anyway.

As previously posted, my Omnia was hosed last night, so Verizon gave me a new one. This is the process I followed today when reinstalling, hacking and re-configuring the phone.

Can I just say that Microsoft does a damn fine job of making it REALLY fucking hard to get things done? There's no way it should take a person five hours to simply get his phone functioning as it should in the first place. Bastards.

These are the steps I've taken so far:
  • installed MyMobiler (control phone from PC)
  • switched to Today screen (deselected crappy Samsung Widget)
  • installed Paul from Modaco's .NET configuration CAB and .NET 3.5 update*
  • installed CeRegEditor CeRegEditor is nice, because it automatically uses an interface from your PC (not the phone itself), but it is only for RegEdits, as opposed to Total Commander which is a RegEditor, file explorer, and editor for any type of file
  • installed Total Commander
  • turned of motion rotate
  • assigned camera button to rotate
  • RegEdit - disabled keyboard auto deploy for SMS and MMS
  • RegEdit - enabled Today 2
  • updated Opera cache and download folder to utilize My Storage
  • switched dpad to optical mouse
  • set upper side "menu" button to Task Manager
  • updated and merged all my contacts on the Windows Live website then downloaded Windows Live to sync contacts (this step took an eternity)
  • setup exchange server to sync Google Calendars
  • installed VITO Audio Notes Touch
  • installed iDialer
  • installed GreenButton
  • installed PocketCM contact manager (took a good, long look at iContact, but it didn't offer all the goodies of PocketCM)
  • installed PocketCM themes
  • installed SoftKey Manager
  • mapped left key to PocketCM
  • created program screen .lnk file and mapped right soft key to it
I've said it before and I'll say it again: the fact that Microsoft names all their services ALMOST the exact same thing is fucking infuriating. Live Search? Windows Live? Windows Mail? Windows Live Mail? Yes, none of those things are the same (seriously... none of them... they're all something different). What... the... FUCK?! Not only that, but to make your phone work to its full potential, you have to install them all (well, not Windows Mail, because Windows Live Mail replaced it). WHY NOT JUST INCLUDE THEM IN THE FUCKING FIRST PLACE?!

(why is it that my blood pressure shoots through the roof whenever I have to make major changes/upgrades to anything PC/Microsoft related?)

In the end, I still think the offerings of WinMo and the Omnia are superior to the Mac alternatives (iPhone), but it sure is a freaking mess trying to get to the point where you can actually function.

*In case the .NET updater thread ever disappears, here are the steps:
  • Download and install both CABs (to internal memory!)
  • Run .Net Configuration from your Program Menu
  • Navigate to the 'Device Policy' tab and select version 3.5
  • Selecting 'Apply' then 'OK'

Omnia i910 Frozen Like a RocketPop (or, When is a Mobile Phone a Hose?)

what's playing: "The Wrong Band" by Tori Amos

Last week, the night before I got on a plane to LA, I powered down my Omnia after recharging was complete (wanted to retain full juice for the flight). When I woke up in the morning and powered on the phone... it was frozen. Once the phone was powered up (after going through the boot up animation and the WinMo green screen), it would freeze with either a blank screen (just tiny icons up top) or the screen as it should appear (but not functioning) or somewhere in between (sometimes almost there but missing, say, the calendar).

I tried the soft reset and I tried holding the soft reset, but the phone would always freeze after reaching the Today screen. The power button didn't work at all (wouldn't power down the phone). The only way to power down was to remove the battery. So once the phone was frozen, I had two options: soft reset button or remove the battery.

After trying various combinations of things for about an hour (holding soft reset while removing battery, removing battery, soft reset held for different amounts of time, etc.), I finally got the phone back to functional condition by removing the battery, plugging the phone into my laptop, reinsterting the battery, and powering the device up.

For those of you looking for a solution to your frozen Omnia problem, don't get too excited by my find.

Last night my phone froze up again, and this time, nothing I did would fix it. I finally took it into the Verizon store this morning, and they simply replaced the phone. They were going to just swap it, but I was all like "Um... that phone has my bank passwords, website passwords, and a bunch of other stuff on it." They didn't seem to think that was an issue, but I made them look up the Hard Reset key combo so I could wipe the phone before handing it over. I assume somebody who REALLY wanted to could probably still find some stuff on there, but I'm hoping Verizon does at least a DECENT job of wiping the phone before it reaches it's next phase of life. Plus, I didn't really have all my bank and web passwords on there, just my Gmail and Ebay... so not too terribly critical.

Now I have to load the new Omnia with all my hacks and mods again, so that will be kind of a pain. It does give me the opportunity to install only the things I want though, so I'll be putting together a "this is what I loaded onto my phone now that I know what I'm doing" post. Keep an eye out for that one in the next couple of days.

Also, the previous Omnia had a Zagg Shield on it. I've heard good things about Zagg's policy for replacing the shield, so I guess I'm about to find out first hand how that goes. It's also kind of a pain to have to spend another hour installing the shield.

I'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Goodbye DSL, Hello Cable

I know there are all kinds of horrible things to be said about Comcast as a company. However, my DSL seems painfully slow, and is INCREDIBLY expensive (sixty freakin' bucks a month). The only way Qwest will let me have their "good" prices is to sign a two year contract (screw you, Verizon).

I got a card in the mail saying I could get high speed internet through Comcast for $20 a month for six months. I know it goes up to $43 after that, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it (it's still almost $20 chaper than Qwest).

If that weren't enough, check out the number I got running speed tests over both services today (I've currently got two high speed connections running into my house).

Are you freaking kidding me?!

$60 a month (Qwest)

$20 a month (Comcast)


Monday, March 16, 2009

UPS Can't Find my Fifty Year Old House

what I'm listening to: "Waiting for the Winter to End" by Jeff Caylor

This happens so often that I'm going to start documenting it.

My house was built in 1955. That's more than 50 years ago. It's always been in the same place. Nobody has ever moved my house.

So why is it that UPS can't seem to find my house? My blood pressure goes up when I know I'm supposed to receive something from them. About 80% of the time I'm supposed to receive something from UPS, this is the scenario:
  1. The sender e-mails be the tracking number.
  2. I watch the package move through UPS tracking system.
  3. The day arrives when it goes through Commerce City and is reported "out for delivery."
Next, one of two things happens. The package is either marked delivered, when it clearly hasn't been, or the website reports "no such address" or some such nonsense.

I then call the national UPS line (800.742.5877 --it's actually on my speed dial) and talk to someone far, far away about the situation that happens all the damn time. They verify my address ("...yes, that's correct... house has been here since 1955...") and then they say they'll have someone call me back. Sometime they do, most times they don't, and I have to call them.

Today I called four times over the course of five hours. The first time I verified the address, and gave them ultra-specific directions to my house. A supervisor finally called me and told me they had delivered the package.

"No you didn't."

"Yes we did. The driver said the gate was locked, so he tossed it over the gate."

First of all, why are they throwing my packages? Second of all, there is no lock on my gate. I do have a neighbor almost half a mile away with a lock on his gate. There is NO number on his gate posts. My gate posts are CLEARLY marked with my house number.

Why would a UPS driver toss a package over a LOCKED gate with NO ADDRESS marked anywhere? Especially after I've left really, really specific directions as to where my house it.

And it's not like I live out in the boondocks. My house is quite easy to find.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

So today is probably around the twentieth time this has happened in the two years I've lived here. From now on, I'll be sure to post an update each time it happens, if for nothing else than to have a good idea of the actual number of times it's happened.

The local supervisor, Ron, whom I'm on a first name basis with at this point, says he's finally going to PERMANENTLY put the information in their computer... but I don't believe him AT ALL. They've told me that before. I even drove all the way down to Denver once to get my package and try and convince them to put the information into their computer.

Even though they said they were, they obviously didn't.

keywords: UPS sucks, multiple complaints against UPS, why I hate UPS, what the hell is wrong with UPS, why can't UPS tell north from south, is UPS allergic to GPS?


Retractable Headphone Cord Winder

what I'm listening to: "Close to Me" by The Cure

It kills me that there are thousands of products available with retractable cord winders (see photo to right), but NOBODY sells just the winder itself. There's a company somewhere in Asia (the address is Shanghai, China, but the site is in Russian) that sells what I'm talking about, but I'm not about to give my credit card number to them.

I've purchased several mobile headsets from Jabra with retractable cord winders... why not sell just the cord winder? I would just take one of the Jabra units apart, but they're all put together with "welded" plastic, so they disintegrate if you try to disassemble them to put in your own headset. I'm to the point where I'm about to go to T.J. Maxx and purchase one of those iPod accessory kits that include the "bud" earphones with the retractable cord, snip off the buds, and solder my own (superior) headphone earpieces to the cord.

If anybody knows of a place you can actually purchase JUST the retractor so that you can use your own headphones, please post a link in the comments!

And please don't post a link to any of those crappy winders that you have to manually wrap around a stick, disc or "core." They suck.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Move Opera Mobile cache to "My Storage"

This tip has of course been added to the main Omnia how to post.

Here's a great little trick to free up some device storage from xsrx over on the Modaco forums:

Something not mentioned, but that I assume is a good idea: clear your old cache first. Open Opera, click the little arrow in the bottom right, go to History, click the trash can and affirm that you want to delete all. If you don't do this first, you'll need to delete stuff from your old cache folder at Application Data\Opera9\cache. Now...
  • Close Opera.
  • Create a folder on your storage card where the cache files will go. I chose \Storage Card\Program Files\Opera\cache4, but I don't think the folder structure or folder name matter.
  • Open \Application Data\Opera\opera.ini in a text editor. [note: this directory was "opera9" not "opera" on my phone; "opera" is just help and skins]
  • In the [User Prefs] section, add the following line: Cache Directory4=[full path to folder on storage card].
  • Save and close opera.ini.
  • Restart Opera. Your cache is now being written to your storage card.
Here is an incredibly helpful post from Downloadsquad on some other really useful Opera Mobile tweaks. For instance, it shows you how to change your default Download directory, which I did. You can also move help files, etc... to My Storage to free up even more space.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Portable Minority Report Device is REAL!

The future is now... well, maybe for mass-consumption in a couple of years. But the future is at least being demoed now!

Check out this video of a presentation by Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry demoing a device she calls "The Sixth Sense" at TED.

It's basically a portable version of the ultra-cool device that Tom Cruise used in Minority Report... except it's actually waaay cooler, and... REAL!

The video was sent to me by my buddy, Mike D. He found it on the TED website in an article touting the device as "game-changing wearable tech."

"Game" changing?! How about life changing? How about society changing.

This thing has all kinds of crazy potential. And while pico projectors are already astounding me, as they get smaller and smaller, this device will be incredibly convenient when it can simply be embedded into a pair of glasses.


Yea, science!


Monday, March 9, 2009

24 Samsung SSD's in RAID: Yes, please.

As we get ready to edit 90+ hours of Leading Ladies' film footage shot on a RED One, I must say:
"Yes, please. Yes, please. Yes, please."

Thanks to Michael for sending this video over from Engadget.

Some highlights that make me all tingly:
  1. Ripping an entire DVD faster than you can throw it out the window.
  2. Holding the entire array like a dead cat and jumping on a trampoline with apparently no issues whatsoever.
  3. Opening everything in the start menu (53 programs on the video's particular computer) in 18 seconds.
Ohhhhh... I can't wait for this to become actually affordable!


Friday, March 6, 2009

Google Reader for Mobile Devices SUCKS

The default RSS Reader on my Omnia (default WinMo RSS Reader) is fine, but I'd like to have something a little more robust. I'd at least like to be able to "star" certain things to come back to them later... better yet, I'd like to be able to mark them and have that mark integrate with my main computer RSS Reader so I could later take a look from my computer.

You can e-mail a link from the default RSS Reader, but it's a many-step pain in the butt, so not the best solution (takes over a minute just to send yourself a reminder about whatever you want to remember to revisit).

It would be excellent if the reader functioned with my Google Reader. I'd be able to star the item, and then when I returned to my computer I could simply check my starred items via Google Reader on my Google Homepage.

So I decided to see if there was a mobile version of Google Reader. I went to and was pleased to find a link called "Get Google Reader for your phone" with a form field to fill in your mobile number. I typed in my mobile number and expected to receive a cab file from Google.

Instead, they send a freaking link to a web page. I don't want to visit a web page; I want an app so I don't have to open my browser and get on the web. It pretty much defeats the purpose of having a mobile RSS Reader in the first place.


Not only that, but in order to "star" something, you have to scroll to the very, very bottom of the page and click a link.


Furthermore, there is no option to add Google Reader to your mobile iGoogle page. What in the...? When you select "Add stuff" from your mobile iGoogle page you find a list called "popular" where you can add the "Betty Crocker Recipe of the Day," but not your Google Reader. There don't seem to be any other options from that location to find (actually useful) things to add to your iGoogle mobile page.

Again: stupid.

Bad job, Google.

[update] If you're using Opera Mobile 9.5, you can "trick" Google into thinking you're not actually on a mobile device. This will allow you to see Google Reader on your iGoogle page (you can look at your real iGoogle page, not just the extremely scaled down piece of shite that Google redirects you to when your on a mobile device).

Just following these steps:
To change the user agent in Opera Mobile 9.5 type the following into your address bar:

Scroll down the page to the item "User Agent" and click on it.
It will say "Spoof user agent ID"

1 is Opera Mobile 9.5
2 is firefox
3 is IE 6


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ginipic kind of rules. (image searching)

I heard about Ginipic the other day from Lifehacker. After reading some of the reader comments, I decided to try the Firefox CoolIris add-on first (rather than install a dedicated program on my machine, just for searching pictures).

It's OK, I suppose. The interface is fun (tilt and scroll), but not very useful... in fact, it just got annoying after a while. It's not very intuitive. I'm still not sure how to effectively interact with the interface. Clicking on an image enlarges it. Or maybe it takes you to the image location? Or maybe it doesn't. And how do you get back to your original search? Yada, yada, yada. Needless to say, I got fed up with it very quickly.

So I decided to try Ginipic. It was a super quick and easy install and then... can you say "awesome" boys and girls?

If you spend any time at all searching Flickr, Google, etc... for images, I highly recommend trying this program out. I am definitely a fan.


My Favorite Comment Regarding Louisiana Gov.'s Response...

...following Obama's address was from the reporter on MSNBC who stated:

"This was like following Led Zepplin with nothing but a harmonica."


Monday, February 23, 2009

Wolverine Declares: THE MUSICAL IS BACK

Before I get to the Oscars, I want to point out how primed the world is for MUSICALS. And hey, if it's an indie film to boot... well all the better! That's awesome news for somebody who just happens to be in pre-production on what stands to be the coolest indie-dance-musical of 2010. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, check out: I am currently producing (I'll also be editing and scoring) a film co-written by my main squeeze, Erika Randall Beahm. She'll also be co-choreographing with So You Think You Dance's Melanie LaPatin (also starring in the film's Sheri role) and co-directing with the film's co-writer, Jen Bechtel.

So the ball keeps rolling faster and faster like a beautiful, 1930's, deco, streamlined, steam-train, picking up more and more momentum to make Leading Ladies poised to be the best thing to hit the silver screen since Flying Down to Rio, Dirty Dancing and My Big Fat Greek Wedding all rolled into one!

Keep an eye out for developments on the film. The buzz is growing!

So, onto last night's festivities...

I feel like it's safe to say, last night was probably the best Oscar Ceremony of my lifetime. It wasn't the craziest, it didn't have the best speeches, it didn't have a super-whacky, expensive opening... it was just the overall best I've seen. It was a return to the "Grand Hollywood" of yesteryear. Performers were actual performers and producers and set designers actually went for it. It was classy.

First of all, Hugh Jackman is a bad ass. When the guy who plays the most ferocious of all the X-men can perform song and dance after song and dance and nail it... that's just awesome.

And can I take a moment to appreciate graciousness? First of all, Hugh Jackman thanked everybody, all the time. From the people who played bit parts in his skits and songs, to the [gasp] show's producer and designers! That's a true performer: somebody who knows who makes the magic happen... and is APPRECIATIVE of those "semi-invisible" roles.

Then, on top of Hugh Jackman's graciousness, there was the presentation method for the main acting awards. Fantastic actors appreciating the craft and being gracious to all the nominees. Awesome. Really nice.

And the set... the set was just beautiful. And they put the band ON STAGE! Not only that, but they were playing what I consider to be real Hollywood music. Stuff that makes you think of Duke Ellington, Les Baxter and Dizzy Gillespie. Fantastic.

As an aside, I was sooooo happy to see Sean Penn win best actor. Yeah, it would have been cool for Mickey Rourke to make that kind of a come back, but just the fact that he was there was saying something (and I think enough). There's no denying Penn's performance as Harvey Milk. He was unbelievable... and then his speech. Speaking out in a poignant, articulate way (which is great, considering Penn's penchant for going overboard at times) to say (in regard to Prop. 8), " is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes... we've got to have equal rights for everyone."

What's up, bigots? Mr. Penn is calling you out. You're embarrassing your grandchildren. What a great way to put it. It's time for equality; how can you deny it?

And last but not least... Slumdog Millionaire. Bollywood finally breaks down the doors of Hollywood like gangbusters! The movie was fantastic, and it was rewarded appropriately. And the energy and love among the cast, the feelings that kind of swept over the whole audience and made everybody smile, nay, beam... just glorious. And props to A. R. Rahman. Not one but TWO Oscars for music. That dude is a bad-ass.

So last night was just a truly enjoyable Oscar ceremony.

And don't forget, the indie dance musical is poised to take over Hollywood. Tell your rich uncle to invest in our movie!!!!