Saturday, December 03, 2005

Is it really...

Christmas time already?

I find it really hard to get started "getting into the season." I'm not sure why. I really enjoy fighting the swelling crowds of people in the stores. Who wouldn't like the even worse than usual traffic jams around the shopping centers. The loads of ads on tv that appear to be holiday themed but leave you wondering "what were those ad-guys thinking?" Then again, maybe it is the fact we can run around in our shorts pretty much all the month of December down here on the Gulf Coast. Oh well.....

Been a busy week in the IT trenches. We are having a lot of bad network client upgrade/installs that got pushed down to the pc's. I'm still not sure what is causing the problems. I suspect (since we don't warn users we are pushing software) some users are resetting their pc's mid-install and when they reboot the files don't match or are not all present. It took me two weeks but I have worked out a series of steps that can get the old software pulled off, the registry modified, a couple of tricky reboots and manual reinstall/configuration of the software. Takes about 30 min to do, but much easier that saving the user's data, reimaging the computer, then restoring all the applications and user's data back to the computer.

I saw some news on Window's Vista that looked promising. It appears they are working on incorporating "semi-reboot" into the build. So when you have to shut down your system due to an update or something, it tries to do that by closing only the processes it needs to. If that doesn't work, then it will reboot the entire system, but only after taking a "snapshot" of the system state (like what applications you had open first) and then will restore them when it comes back up. Interesting idea. Here are some wallpapers found in the latest Vista Beta as well for your enjoyment.

In other Microsoft news, it looks like a new patch down the road with slightly change the ways ActiveX controls plug into their Internet Explorer. They decided not to contenst a patent Eolas was claiming. So the end result is that you may have to click one more link to get a plugin feature to work in your IE browsing sessions.

Here's a tip for all you GMail fans out there. By simply starting your GMail sessions with https:// you can ensure you start and maintain a secure email transaction the entire session. Not just during your login. Neat! This is way more secure and helps keep anyone sniffing your packets from seeing what you are transmitting. I use GMail a lot and have already changed my bookmarks to encorporate this tip automatically.

Mozy offers "free" data archiving on their servers. 1GB or 2GB depending on what you sign up for. The only catch is that you have to agree to get some emails offers from them. Could be handy in a pinch.

Dan Gillmore posted an article that really gets my hackles up. He points out that many of the telco providers are begining to not feel happy just providing you with access to the "broadband pipes" that you pay for. They feel they also should be able (that it is their right) to control the information you choose to send and receive while you use those pipes. Why is this a big deal? Let me give you an example: Say you subscribe to a cable broadband provider. They offer VoIP service, but you decline and choose to use something like your hard-line phone and SKYPE instead. So basically, they block your SKPYE traffic. Don't want to use our service on our lines? Fine. But we won't help you use a competitors! What if the electric company wanted to tell people what they could and couldn't plug into their wall outlets? Is it really that much more different? I am paying for a "point-to-point" data-transfer service. You are the data-packet carrier. As long as I don't violate the conditions of my subscriber contract--you shouldn't tell me what I can and cannot send over the wire!

I wonder if the free and open net is going the way of the open ranges...I see barbed-broadband wires in the near future. Geesh. If this attitude keeps up, I am really going to start supporting the idea that public municipalities need to get into the broadband business.

I paid my phone bill today and they asked me (again) if I wanted to sign up for DSL. I told them I went with a cable broadband because I had been asking my phone company (them) for DSL for two years but they won't extend it to our area in the middle of town. The sweet phone teller assured me I was incorrectly informed, so for amusement I let her check.....She was so disappointed to find out her customer was still correct.

Growing up, mom and dad had these cool "flip-style" bedroom clocks. They had a orange backlight glow and the numbers were on this Rolodex syle flipper. Every so often they would "flip" a new number up. I could sit there and watch them for hours. Imagine my surprise when surfing over at Retro Thing and what did my eyes spy, but a new one from Casio that would look right at home over on bridge of the Silvana! Neato!

I was on my pc the other night and noticed the clock had gotten off as much as 20 minutes. That is pretty bad. I have it configured to automatically check the time and update it, but it wasn't doing it fast enough. There are some extra registry hacks you can do to tweak out the frequency check and location of the time updates on XP and 2000 systems.

The Leaky Cauldron has a good photo gallery of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie set items that were on display over in Japan. The detail on these things is incredible. I think that is what helps the movies be so fanstastically believable.

My cellphone wasn't keeping it's charge as well--and who wants to just buy a new battery? So I picked up a Nokia 6102 model. I haven't had a flip-style phone and wasn't sure at first if I would like it. The other day the battery dropped too low and it shut off (my fault for not charging it). I had a car-charger, but silly thing is, I have had it on ever since I bought it, so I didn't bother reading the manual to find out how to turn it on/off. I had to surf the web at work and download a pdf version of the manual. (Us IT geeks, who needs a manual? OK, maybe me!) So while I was figuring out how to turn the dang thing back on, I found out that the on/off button I had been pushing fruitlessly wasn't a on/off button at all, but an infrared port. Hmm. That's interesting. That calls for more research!

Turns out that this phone can data-connect via infrared to a pc/laptop. You can sync files/photos upload/download files and images to and from the phone (yeah, mine has a digital camera and an FM radio in it--Alvis is beyond herself with pleasure at this development). So I downloaded the PC Suite software from Nokia and darn it, this thing is really cool! I have created some custom wallpapers for my phone displays (main and mini)--anime and Japan themed of course! Right now I am using the infrared port via my laptop, but I thing I am going to get a USB infrared port for my desktop pc. Nokia offers a USB data cable as well but it is almost $50 so I can wait for that one....Lavie has had both Nokia and Motorola phones, I have always kept with Nokia and really love them.

I am going to be adding a new list of blogs to the right of this page. This list will specifically include links to bloggers from Japan. There are a lot of interesting bloggers out there in Japan, and many have great photography and thoughts.

IT Shortbread:
UT Longhorns win the Big-12 Championship 70-3 over Colorado. I wore burnt-orange all day today in support of my poor UT grad brother--stuck at work and not over in Reliant Park. I know it's wrong on so many levels with Bevo, but this UH Cougar grad feels like steak for dinner in celebration!

See you around the dinner table!

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