Archive for September, 2007

Calling all hackers… Please hack the iPod Touch!

Friday, September 14th, 2007

ipod touch

I’m definitely not an iPod fanboy. As you have probably read in a previous blog I wasn’t a big fan of the iPhone just before it came out but this is different. It’s beautiful like Apple’s other products but at a size of 4.5″ x 2.4″ x .46″ and 4.6 ounces, this one actually fits my need… Almost.

I say almost because right now I’m using an HP Ipaq as my PDA. I’ve loved it for about 5 years now. Now it’s time to move onward and upward. I’d love one that Linux ran on so I could use the small size of Linux apps on it for everything I need. Also, I’d love GPS. Seems like I’m talking about the Nokia N800 but Apple I’m giving you a chance here.

Nokia N800 The N800 is really nice too. The form factor is 5.7″ x 3.0″ x 0.5″ and weighs 7.3 ounces. However, at 5.7″ long it’s quite a bit longer than the standard 4″ wallet but justifiable in the standard inside coat pocket. Although the 4.1″ touch display that has a 800×480 resolution is really nice.

Let’s talk about GPS people? In this day and age where GPS is in so many things why isn’t it in either of these devices? You can get the GPS for the Nokia for about $250 more. Why? You could just get a Tomtom device or something for about that price?

Ok, my needs are simple hackers. Hack the iPod touch so I can install linux on it and have it function like an N800. That way I can use all that storage on it plus have the cooler look and smaller form factor. Plus, I want to run Thunderbird for email, VLC for video, rdesktop and VNC to manage other computers, and a couple other apps. Thunderbird does not run on the N800 I’ve heard. Email, contacts, syncing, and calendaring is the most important to me.

All right.  There’s your marching orders.  Help make me and everybody else happy.  Combine all these things into the iPod touch and I’ll be one extremely happy camper even though the iPod screen is 3.5″ and the N800 is 4.1″.  Some sacrifices can be made.

New technology and football cheating

Friday, September 14th, 2007

I’m sure many sports lovers have heard by now the controversy about the New England Patriots and video taping their opponents play calling. The only thing I’ve been wondering for a very long time why it hadn’t happened before? I hate cheating in any game but the fact that there are audio telescopes that let the media hear every word said on the field and more than a dozen video cameras why haven’t they done it years ago. In order of fact many players say that they’d been doing it for years. This really sucks for the league and the championships they won.

So, in a huge leap of insane inappropriateness I’m going to help out Major League Baseball teams that want to cheat. I’ll explain why later. First, have cameras in the audience aimed at the catcher’s hands from the back of the stadium. Catalog on a database the video of the catchers hand signals and the pitches thrown. You’ll know what pitch is coming up by having one person in relay the pitch to the batter vocally.

Why would give them this? Stop being so stupid major league sports teams! I’ve been looking at it for years as I’m sure the coach of the Patriots has. I’m hoping this will actually make you stop doing this silly practice.

If you do lose in the future you can only blame yourself. You should have been reading my blog.

Stallman: The Mad scientist of free software

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Allow me to rant a bit and give my take on what is a big issue in the free and open source community. I’m not one that is big on licensing issues and the like. So the Gnu Public License (GPL) that is the foundation of Linux and many other open source software is the last good thing the Free Software Foundation (FSF) has really contributed. I could definitely be wrong on this and am open to be corrected however, at every convention I stop at their table and try to figure out what their significant purpose is to no avail.

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What I have figured out is the core of the problem. At the beginning of this year I went to a lecture that Richard Stallman (the head of the FSF and core original contributor to Linux) gave. First let me declare that this guy is the modern day mad scientist. Extremely smart and extremely nuts. It was no secret to the audience of mostly college students, due to the venue being USC, that this man lacked etiquette and hygiene awareness. However, a brief exclamation of why he believed Linux should be called GNU Linux cleared so much up for me. I’ll explain.

In the beginning, Stallman had the idea of free software and started programming all the parts of a clone of Unix. It was sheer brilliance and a lot of time spent coming up with all the programs that surrounded the brain of the operating system. The kernel. Meanwhile, over in Stockholm Sweden Linus Torvalds was creating the kernel based off the Unix variant Minix. Just like a Reese’s pieces commercial Linus’ chocolate ended up in Stallman’s peanut butter.

Which is more important to a Reese’s? The chocolate or the Peanut butter? It’s a trick question because they both are equally important. However, now imagine if chocolate and peanut butter had to name the product of their union. This is where Stallman’s issue resides. Linus TorvaldsLinux was named by Linus Torvalds’ friends and followers. It’s the engine of the car they felt. Also, I regrettably must say, with the exception of Emacs (which I don’t even use because of VI) all the software would have logically been created to mimic Unix’s version like they are now.

It’s a regrettable situation because I must say that I’ve personally me Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman briefly. I liken the too to Dr. Frankenstein and Alexander Graham Bell. They were both brilliant minds (even though one’s mainly fictitious) but Torvalds was hard working reluctantly social Bell while Stallman was the massively confident mad scientist with little social empathy. In the end Stallman does have an understandable right to believe that GNU should be said before Linux but after a certain point does it really matter? To build a company of followers that faithfully extol your greatness but lack a good reason behind their efforts is now pure vanity that impedes progress.  Now to make himself relevant again he’s forcing GPL 3 on the masses.

Poor Stallman.  Doesn’t he realize that Dr. Frankenstien’s ego is what was his ultimate demise?  Go all ye Linux fans and shout Richard Stallman’s accomplishments from the rooftops.  You made this all possible in it’s current state. Now, let’s just get our heads back into the code and not the semantics of licenses or exercises in vanity.

Family VPN

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

If you’ve been reading about my “Linux for your Grandmother” post and “Macbook in my house…” you’ll know that my family is getting more and more wireless. Well, my brother just called me and told me he got two new laptops. He wants me to set up his wifi router for him and his family to be secure. This came right on time because of the new project I’ve given myself. A family wide VPN.

Just think about it. Within 10 minutes of my house in multiple directions are both of my brothers’ houses, my sister, and my mom’s house. Each house with different resources like printers, faxes, photo directories, etc. Imagine if you created a VPN between all these houses. You could share your resources plus have secure wifi in different areas in case you had to stop and get something that you know you scanned or typed on your server at home.

I’m sure this will make for more laptops at the table at Thanksgiving but I’m sure it’ll make it easier to email “Pass the turkey” instead of yelling it across the table.

Convenient security

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Ok, ok I’ll admit it. I preached the words I didn’t heed. My name is Phillip and I used to be insecure.

These would be the words I’d utter if there was an insecurity annonymous meeting. Without that facility to purge my transgresssions I will say them here. At work and for clients security was job one but at home… I was that guy with all the open routers. I was that guy with easy passwords. I’m not proud of my past I can only move on to help others.

In all seriousness, though, I was like many people. Insecure because we were too lazy to take the extra steps. Security always adds extra things to think about and that’s extra work. There are many good reasons for it though. First, I’ll give you the top 5 reasons people are insecure and then easy steps that remedy these problems.

1) “I don’t have anything anybody really wants.”

Know it or not there is so much information about you that can be known from a simple scan of your computer that can be used to get access to using your identity.

2) “I don’t leave my laptop laying around so anyone can touch it.”

Most security breaches aren’t from the intruder physically touching your machine. It’s from internet access to it. Especially when they know it’s idle.

3) “I use WEP encryption on my wireless. That’s good enough.”

(more…)

Look mom. No applications.

Friday, September 7th, 2007

This is a subject that’s boggled my mind for quite some time now. I was reading about someone using Google Calendar and it brought me back to an old belief that I just can’t shake.

Why do we trust Internet applications so much?

The old train of thought was security, security, security. You can’t trust people on the Internet. Why do so many people trust keeping their information somewhere in the world on a server. Do you know who’s watching that server? Do you trust them that much? I’m not saying Google doesn’t have tons of security in place and policies about what people see of your data but I’m nervous using the same password on multiple websites because I’m trusting that it’s being encrypted on their end.

There are so many products now that are online. You don’t even have to have any programs on your PC at all. I LOVE this concept in theory. Zoho offers a full office suite online. It’s a nice solution. Then you have Google’s online applications and Zimbra for email. It’s great but at what cost to you or your company? As rare as it is the Internet has gone down for some crazy reason your Internet provider gives. Your whole company is totally offline now and can’t work because all their applications are on line.

Here’s your handy computer guys’ prescription but please tell me your thoughts on this issue. I say if you want the mobility to go to any computer and do work anywhere, fine. Get a USB memory stick and go to www.portableapps.com and get the products you want and put them on the stick and save to the stick. If you just want to have applications like the big boys but don’t want to spend the big boys money there are open source applications like OpenOffice and Thunderbird that do more than some of the expensive Microsoft applications… or just check www.sourceforge.net for more programs. I love the OpenOffice route because it works on Windows, Linux, and Mac.

In short, I love these online programs but I’m just too paranoid about using them. It’s like living in room with mirrors and you don’t know what’s on the other side of the walls. All the mirrors could be double sided and you’re just being watched like a police station interrogation room. If you’re the person who believes he has nothing to hide or steal I can find some identity fraud criminal that would love to talk to you.

An macbook in the house and an iCar in the driveway

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

You might know by now that I just love technology and it doesn’t scare me. So I’m not a Mac, Windows, or Linux basher. Choice is good and I love them all in their own special way. Granted, I mainly use Linux and Windows multibooting on all my machines but there is a great amount of mac love. Ok, you got me, I did once say that mac owners usually do have a certain “I’m so deep, artistic, and not really a manly man” look but I’m cool with that. I’m a live and let live kind of guy.

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Well, a week ago a new member joined my family. A beautiful little white macbook. My wife (check out her blog) went back to school for her masters and the program that she’s in gave them macbooks. Before you ask, YES, the tuition is that much where she really paid for it but that’s another story. Anyway, it’s like a new baby in our house that we’re adopting. I already have a G3 in the house but I see a lot of projects that I want to try with it. I’ll definitely keep you posted.

The one thing that I just heard in the rumor mill though is that Apple is working with Volkswagon to make a imac version of the new VW Bug. I can’t tell you how great that idea actually is. Volkswagon owners are usually the type I’d guess would have a mac. All the same stereotypes apply. My nephew is the only college football playing VW Bug owner I know of ( and that’s because his mother bought it) but I’m in California and the rules may be different elsewhere. VW owners rejoice. You iMac and your car will now be in sync.

Sex and tech: Nerds aren’t so nerdy anymore.

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

It’s a typical day in California. A little hotter than usual for a summer day but nothing else is different. I’m driving home from a client and I’m just taking in the views of life while I listen to podcasts on my radio. I love to people watch as I’m driving but today I’ve just got one pervading thought. Why do women and men moving mountains for a complete stranger with big boobs, cute face, or a great body? Sex doesn’t just sell products. It sells careers… or does it?

I see more business women showing cleavage than ever. It seemed that only ten years ago you could be shunned for being too sexy at work. Now you’re seeing half the HR department in tight pants and short skirts. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against it. The way I figure it, “Use whatever ammo you’ve got.” It seems that in at least one task a season on the American and the British versions of the Apprentice (I’m a big fan because of the business+reality show idea) a mostly female team will always think they’re sexy enough to use their sex appeal to sell. The funny part is… time and time again it hasn’t won them the task even though you’d think it would.

Video podcasts for tech have also taken this route by focusing on hiring women with nice boobs to tell you the technology news. For example: Natali del Conti of Textra, Amanda Congdon, Laura Petrelli a.k.a. Cali Lewis, Amber Macarthur, and Morgan Webb (pictures in order).

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Bad policy? Not in my book. Well, except for one thing. Other than Amber Macarthur I have taken a male pole and nobody takes the other women seriously. Yes, we do like to look at their faces and bodies because like it or not men’s eyes are drawn to it. However, how far does this actually get you in business before you have to be able to seriously back up the looks with the skills. Morgan Webb is finding this out and reinventing herself now.

My take, you may ask? Appearance should mean a lot for women as well as men. It shouldn’t be your total focus but your first 8 seconds make up an impression that it takes hours, weeks, or months to overcome. Strength of character, know how, and a can do spirit should soon follow your initial impression or be a part of it. Believe that’s impossible? In the midst of writing this I realized I had a great example in one of my favorite video podcasts. I’ve also met this lady and she is truly a great spirit. Her show is “Beach Walks with Rox” with Roxanne Darling (winner of 3 Vlogger awards). She talks about business, life, and all things in between while walking the beach and usually in a bikini or sarong because she lives in Hawaii. Listen to me talk to her about it here on her video podcast.

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Like I’ve said before in an earlier post about my daughter (Role models needed), we’ll definitely make sure she’s well kept but my 5 year old is already a computer junkie. However, with my wife being a teacher and being a knowledge junkie myself, she’s getting lots of learning early. However, I have to admit that I still watch most of the women above for my tech content because they’re all that’s there for video content. I play all my video podcasts on my TV and my oldest son actually stopped to watch with me because Natali del Conti was “the Jessica Alba of tech stuff.” Which you should infer is a very good thing. Maybe all of them or the companies behind the sponsored ones know more than I do though because the fact that all the women mentioned in this article are very easy on the eyes can’t hurt viewership. Maybe my children’s generation will start saying, “She’s got a face for audio podcasting” to reference the unattractive women.

Emotionally drained tech guy

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

It’s good to be me but sometimes it’s just really really hard. I love what I do. I do consulting work for companies. I usually go in, make everything work well, and leave. The problem with this is going through recruiters. Don’t get me wrong, I like the recruiters I work with or I just don’t work with them anymore. However, they get you interviews and you have to end up selling yourself to people over and over again. That really sucks.

I’ve never been one to really focus on myself so it’s hard to make people believe they should go with you on this project. I do understand their side though. If you just went by resumes, some people would be ruler of the world for a day. However, I’m the kind of guy that just likes to get things done. That I do well no matter what you put in front of me.

With a son in college, a wife getting her masters, and three other kids that need food in their mouths it’s easy. You do what you have to do.