Technology & Gadgets

Stuff about technology, and gadgets.

Cancelling my PC Magazine subscription

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PC Magazine’s latest issue (January 2009) contained the following interesting tidbit:

An Open letter to PC Magazine (Print) Readers,

The January 2009 issue (Volume 28, Issue 1) of PC Magazine will mark a monumental transition for the publication. It is the last printed edition of this venerable publication. Of course, as with any technology-related enterprise, this is not the end, but the beginning of something exciting and new.

Starting in February 2009, PC Magazine will become a 100-percent digital publication.

Well, that’s all nice and fun, except I read my magazines where and when I don’t want a computer. So this new distribution DOESN’T WORK FOR ME. Also, I have print publications (magazines) and online magazines. They each serve different purposes.

So, long and short, I’ll be calling them to cancel my subscription shortly and get a refund…. My subscription would have run out in September 2009.

Best WordPress plugins, ever

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Until someone figures out that this wants to be part of the core functionality, I highly recommend the excellent plugin, InstantUpgrade, by Alex G√ľnsche. It rules. One click upgrades to your WordPress installation to the latest version. How easy is that? In case you’re wondering, yes, I did donate, as it’s an excellent, well-written, well-supported plugin that actually saves me from the laborious upgrade process for WordPress every time a new version comes out (once every two months!).

While I’m at it, I need to shout out the folks who wrote WPG2, the Gallery2 embedding plugin for WordPress. Not only has this been consistently upgraded to support both the latest WordPress and latest Gallery2, questions on the forum typically don’t go more than one day before the authors (ozgreg and capt_kirk) or some other helpful person answers them. Moreover, the answers are relevant without trying to be controlling (not the same experience as I’ve had asking questions of the Drupal G2 integration team, but that’s a story for another day). WPG2 happily and efficiently supports hybrid configurations like one G2 multisite installations, excellent rewrite support (really nice URLs!), and an awesome user interface that is integrated well with WordPress.

So with these extensions and plugins, I have InstantUpgrade for WordPress, self-upgrade for plugins to WordPress, and a fairly simple upgrade process for Gallery2. What more could I want? The same for Drupal (again, for another time, they could improve!).

Ubuntu install error

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I’ve found a number of references to the obscure error on the web:

Failure trying to run: chroot /target mount -t proc proc /proc

After careful diagnosis, I have come to the conclusion that this error has three causes (at least for me):

  1. A bad CD drive. [replace it]
  2. Bad CD-media or a badly written CD. [slow down the write, or change media]
  3. CD drive incorrectly connected (Cable Select, Master, Slave: incorrectly set) [check that cable and setting match, and that you have at least 1 Master connected, with the drive either set to CS or Master on a proper cable]

I hope posting this helps other people, as this problem took quite a while to diagnose, and much hair-pulling was involved. In my case, it was a “gradually” degrading CD drive (1), although I’ve also experienced (2).

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Review requests

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Well, I’ve purchased/borrowed a number of gadgets and toys in the last year or so that I HAVEN’T reviewed, so I thought I’d list them, and see if anyone wanted me to review any specific items (comment below with which item you want reviewed): (more…)

Forgotten passwords…

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A buddy of mine in the fire department forgot his password on Windows XP. Turns out he mistyped it twice when he changed passwords. Since I need to fix this type of problem reasonably infrequently, I thought I’d put in a blog post so that I could remember the program I used for the password recovery, ophcrack. This could even be run off a memory stick!

Setting up wview (3.9.0) on Ubuntu (8.04)

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I decided to document my setup of Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron running with a weather station, the inexpensive WS-2310. I built this computer setup for a buddy who wanted to run a weather station, but didn’t want to buy a Davis Vantage Pro2. The machine is a Pentium 4 2.8GHz, 80G HDD, 1 GB of RAM. (more…)

Booting Ubuntu installer off flash

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I was trying to setup a buddy’s old laptop to run Ubuntu and wviewweather, and having no luck because his CD-ROM drive was flaky. So i found this great utility (OK, google found it) that sets up a USB flash drive so that it will boot as if it were the CD-ROM. This is: UNetbootin. Tell it where to find the ISO, tell it where your flash is, and ta-dah! Great utility.

No, copying the files from the ISO onto blank USB memory stick doesn’t work, in case you were wondering…

To give a little more detail, wview now supports a very inexpensive weather station, the La Crosse 2310 (I bought it for $120 including shipping off eBay). This is great for those who want to participate in CWOP and can’t afford or don’t want to spend the money to get a $400+ Davis Vantage weather station, and have an old PC with a serial port lying around.

Funambol for Blackberry-Outlook OTA synchronization

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I’ve been working on getting Over-The-Air synchronization working on my BlackBerry using only SyncML, Blackberry Internet Services (BIS) and Funambol. All with no luck! If anyone reads this and knows what’s going on, please drop me an e-mail or leave a comment.

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Wiping a Blackberry

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Well, who’d have thunk it. Wiping a BlackBerry is very difficult. From my previous post, it should be apparent that I left my previous employer, and I have a Blackberry Curve 8310 (personal property). Well, the IT department at my previous employer had imposed a IT Security Policy (that required a password, etc.). It turns out that invoking the Wipe Handheld command does not remove this policy. This is a bad thing, as I do not have access to my new employers BES server to overwrite the policy. SO, here’s two ways of doing it:

  1. Upgrade your Blackberry to OS 4.5 and then run the JL_Cmder utility to perform a real factory reset. (I used the Beta OS 4.5.0.37)
  2. Follow the regedit procedure in the documentation here to install a “blank” policy into a Blackberry.

Struggling with Drupal

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Well, after a detailed analysis of the different CMS systems, I chose Drupal (somewhat reluctantly after my last experience with this CMS), and have been struggling, fairly successfully, to port the fire department website, bouldermountainfire.org. Here were my criteria for CMS selection:

  • Fantastico compatible (more about this later) for easy upgrade
  • MySQL-based
  • Good permissions-based content protection (with different users and groups have specific permissions)
  • Embedded Gallery2 plugin

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