Category Archives: Tech

I’ve Been Messing With the Blog

I’ve Been Messing With the Blog

Okay. Y’all may have seen a lot of short, random, posts to the blog over the past week. They seemed like a good idea at the time… Let me explain.

Last week on the way to an appointment I thought to myself, “Man, I want to put this thought on the blog and on twitter. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could have the blog grab my twitter posts and turn them into feeds?” At this point, I diverged into an internal monologue about the technical feasability of this process which I will not bore you with here. It turns out someone already did the dirty work for me and all I had to do was install a plug in.

Excellent, I thought, now I can post to twitter and have a reminder of things I want to “flesh out” on the site later. It was a couple days later that I realized I didn’t like the way the post titles were coming out. The plugin was using the first 30 characters of the post for the title. Yesterday I figured I would rework it so the time was included in the title instead. Well, for some reason I could only get the date and time or the whole thing looked like I wrote it in 1999.

So for now I think I’ll just leave the twitter updates in the sidebar and try, I know so far unsuccessfully, to actually post things of value here.

Also, for some odd reason I wasn’t getting e-mails when comments were being posted. Hopefully that’s fixed now.

Google Web History

Google Web History

reports that Google has once again launched a new “feature.”

Google released a new feature called Google Web History. Once you’ve enabled it, Google will start recording your entire browsing history. It does this by grabbing information from the Google toolbar that is sent for every page you access when you have Pagerank enabled.[…]

Um… HAHAHAHA! NO! THANKS!

While there may be a legitimate, and useful purpose, for a service like this I believe privacy concerns may trump all. In an era where the DHS can sapena records from search engine providers about what someone is looking at, why would a user want to take that a step further and hand them the whole shebang? Don’t give me that “if you’re not doing anything wrong…” angle excuse either. The whole thing is just too uncomfortable for me. Little big brother ish.

Twitter

Twitter

I added a new “What I’m Doing” item to the sidebar. It gets it’s info from a service called Twitter.

Twitter is an interesting concept. It takes after the status features of many popular IM clients and also Facebook‘s feature of similar ilk. Where Twitter differs is it’s ability to send SMS messages, IMs, and update the web feed when you change your status.

As useless as this seems at first, I can see a couple of actual benefits to the idea.


  1. Keep track of your family members. If you’ve got teenagers running around with cell phones, they can text 40404 with where they are. Mom and Dad “follow” their children’s usernames and receive updates when their kids send them. No need to call both parents or have one calling the other to see where the kids are.

  2. Find your friends at conferences or other gatherings. I’ve attended week long conventions where people want to hook up and it’s a massive game of phone tag to see where everyone is going to be. With Twitter, send an SMS or IM to one address, “Whoever is up for italian meet at Vinny and Guidos at 19:00.” and the word is out.

  3. Use it to set one Away Message. I use several IM clients and it would be really nice to set a message in one spot and have it update all things. So, in theory, you could set a status on Twitter, and have an away message with code to automatically check that status and use that as your away message. Actually there are several applications for this, including using it to do things with voicemail on the Asterisk opensource PBX, such as prefacing messages with “OUT:” which would automatically forward incoming calls to your cell, or “DND:” which would send everything to voicemail without ringing the phone, but I will spare you anymore of my technobableistic musings on that for now.

So, how does it work anyway?

You sign up for a Twitter account, and then give it a status. Your friends “follow” you and when you change your status they can see what you said. You have the option to let anyone follow you, or approve everyone who wants to do so (a nice option if you prefer privacy).

You have 3 options for changing your status. You can either use the website, send an IM (through many of the popular services), or SMS 40404. You can receive messages in all of these same ways. For example, since I don’t currently use SMS (Text Messaging) I can get updates on what my friends are doing on the site, or on IM. You can also add your status, as I did, to your website with their “badges.”

I thought it was pretty cool. We’ll see if it actually has any practical applications (I suppose it will only if anyone else I know uses it). 🙂

New Laptop Keyboard

New Laptop Keyboard

I briefly ran home yesterday during a 10 hour server repair for a customer I was pleasently surprised to find a new laptop keyboard waiting on my doorstep.

I had called Dell on Tuesday to ask about getting a replacement for the doodad that previously held one of the keys on the board. I had to remove the key to clean something (lemonade… shhh) from the board and lost the piece. Dell said they couldn’t replace the piece, but they would, under warrenty, send me a new keyboard. Sweet.

Figuring on a 3-5 business day turn-around time I was amensely surprised to find it had arrived less than 24 hours later.

The installation process was fairly simple. Pop the hinge cover, remove 3 screws, pull the board, unplug the connector, unlock the clamp holding the ribbon cable in place, take the keyboard off and do it all in reverse. Dell also shipped a replacement palm rest, basically the entire top of the laptop around the keyboard, but that’s going back because i don’t need it and the process to replace it pretty much involves pulling everything apart and there was no way I was going to do that.

I only had to call tech support once because I was not quite sure how to get the clip unlocked and I wanted a tech on the line incase I irreparably damaged it :-).

It is so nice having a keyboard that is not sticky, loud, and most importantly not missing the ‘h’ key.

All this to say it was probably worth not being able to understand the techs I spoke with in order to resolve this issue. I tell people a lot that Dell has had some fairly iffy support issues lately, but I was impressed this time.

Making a pot of tea, by text messaging

Making a pot of tea, by text messaging

I don’t know whether to think this is cool, or just plain lazy. Making a pot of tea, by text messaging | News.blog | CNET News.com.
I can see potential if they leverage this for things like changing your thermostat when coming back from vacation (which you can do, but it requires either a thermostat that connects to your phone, or some funky set-up) and/or mixing it wiht X-10 technology so you can control lights while away.

Fare Use No More

Fare Use No More

Wow, if this legislation passes it would dramatically change how you can use the music you purchase. It looks like you could, in theory, be charged for buying the song, for ripping it to your hard drive, and for putting it on your MP3 player. I don’t know about you, but I think being told what I can’t do with something I paid money for is a little ridiculous.

I’m all for companies turning a profit, but when most of that money doesn’t even go to the artist, it seems a little idiotic.