Archive for October, 2009

Vuze crashes

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

If you are a user of Vuze (formerly Azureus even though it’s been long enough to stop saying that) then you may be encountering the same problem that I’ve been encountering. Vuze (on all platforms) crashes or freezes when you add a torrent.

The fix is as follows. Go to:  Tools -> Options -> Connection

Under Connection uncheck the box that says “Prompt for selection when a tracker with an anonymous  tracker is added”.

DONE. That was easy. Vuze has already acknowledged this problem and issued a patch but this will work for now.

Turning the Samsung Rogue into an iPhone and Blackberry killer

Friday, October 9th, 2009

For the longest time I’ve been a huge proponent of getting Verizon wireless except for one major flaw. The wireless coverage is the best around however they just never seem to get any cool phones. They do have Blackberry’s, yes, but even those are just as mediocre as can be and the Blackberry Storm was supposed to bring Verizon back in the game but it crashed and burned after bad reviews (even though I do know of some people that really like theirs).

samsung-rogue.jpgEnter Verizon back into the game with the Samsung Rogue. It’s their newest phone and after seeing all the features, looking at a lot of customer reviews and editor’s choice awards after being out for only a week I had to get one. That’s where all the fun starts.

First off let me say, I love this phone. However, if I get it, you know I’ve got to figure out all that I can make it do. My goal with all phones is of course to measure them against the gold standards of phones: The Blackberry Bold and the Apple iPhone. I’m sure this is going to be an ongoing project but to date I believe I’ve come close to my goal.

Let’s start with what you’ll need: Mail client (Outlook or Thunderbird), Handbrake, a memory card (I got a 4gb for about $10). You’ll find all the steps are cross-platform like I always do (Linux, Windows, or Mac) however, this tutorial will be in Ubuntu Linux with KDE showing differences for each operating system.

So, when you think of iPhone what do you think of? Maybe: Touch screen with smooth finger scrolling, music player, playing videos, apps, and internet. Check to all of those.  When you think of Blackberry what do you think of? Maybe: Email, contacts, syncing with desktop mail, and some multimedia. Check to all of those too. How you may ask? Well it wasn’t easy for me. There was a lot of documentation and experimentation that I had to do but I am very happy with my results. So, let’s make it easy for you.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way. I don’t make any judgements on how you get your content it’s just that you get your content onto your phone. I had to look around to make sure of how to do this. I first wanted to make my computer see the phone as a USB drive.

First, lets format your new memory card. Put in your memory card. Next hit your green phone button and click the lock on the screen to get to the desktop screen (if it’s not already up). Next click “Menu” and “Settings and Tools” and go to “Tools”, “Memory”, “Card memory”, “Format Card” and “Yes.” You’re now done formatting the card and ready to go.

Plug your USB cable into your computer and connect it to the port on the side of your phone. If you get a question asking you Modem or Sync then click “Modem” if not go back to Setting Tools as in the previous steps and choice 0 “USB Mode” and select modem. Next scroll up to choice “2 Tools” and then to choice 0 USB Mass Storage. Now you have a USB hard drive on your computer connecting to the memory card you put in.

Your computer should display a USB drive connected with the folders: my_contacts, my_files, my_flix, my_music, my_pix, my_ringtones, and my_sounds. These are pretty self-explanatory but what goes in them and how is the key. The important ones for us are contacts, flix, music, and pix. Music and pics are simple. You can simply copy music and pictures to the appropriate folders as mp3’s or jpg’s.

Video’s take a little fine tuning according to what types of video files you have. The program HandBrake runs on Win, Mac, and Linux and will convert any movie or DVD to the “iPhone and iPod touch” video format that you need. Go to this site if you want to do any of this on the command line. Once done copy the file into the “my_flix” folder on your phone.

Now for the hardest part that may need some tweeking as you experiment with your setup. I will use the most vague directions here so you can fine tune it to your liking. The “my_contacts” folder has to contain .vcf files. This is a common vCard format that every email client even gmail will export contacts as .vcf. The trick here is to export your clients as .vcf files and tell your program to save them to the “.my_contacts” folder. In the future you can sync them with your desktop by whatever way you know of to sync folders. I use Thunderbird and Gmail. On Thunderbird you can get this plugin to give you .vCard capabilities. Outlook has some good ones built in and Gmail does as well. Since I use Thunderbird and Gmail, I use the Zindus plugin and Provider for Google to sync my Thunderbird contents and calendar with Gmail.

Now back to our phone. Get the screen back on and click disconnect. This will stop if from being a USB device. If you get text messages a lot, you’ll get a lot right now because your phone was not usable while it’s a mass storage device. Now go back to “Menu”, “Settings & Tools”, “Memory”, “Card Memory.” The list presented to you has all the folders on your memory card. Going into those folders will show you the folders on your memory card. Number 8 on that list will be “Move all to phone”.

There you have it. That’s enough to start playing with and hopefully by the time you read this there are apps out for the phone. At the time of the writing the phone was too new and there were none out even though it has a couple built in for Facebook, Myspace, and a couple other web related content. As of this writing I haven’t fully figured out how to sync the Calendar with the PC but I sync it with gmail and go on the web from the phone to see that. Not as good as having it integrated so it can give you an alarm but I’ll figure it out soon enough.

If you’re a Verizon customer or thinking about it the Samsung Rogue is definitely the choice to go with.

Empowered by the word “Free”

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Other than yelling out the word “fire” there are few words that envoke a response in humans in an economy driven society. The highest of these that can be said in mixed company is the word “free.” As pleasant as this word is to hear when offered a sample at your local store or as anticipated after the words “buy one, get one” this word does bare a negative burden. I must always be proven innocent or assumed to be guilty of a trick. Why else would someone give away something that they could just as easily have gotten paid for it? Where is the catch after I take this deal?  Let’s strip away the stigma attached to the word and show you how this word can help your business and personal life.

Almost everything out there has a free counterpart when computer software is concerned. That’s a pretty big claim but I intend to back it up.  Let me get this out of the way though. There is one string attached. You don’t just get anything that’s free just like you don’t get any car that has the same price that you want to spend. Have a little bit of a critical eye to key terms such as: Freeware and open source. Freeware is a product that is free but may be watered down compared to the pay version or expire after a certain date leaving you like Cinderella’s pumpkin when you need a ride home. Open source if software that is freely available and made by a collaboration of people around the world for the single purpose of freeing you of software licenses.

Ok, I know you’re already wondering where and how? Free! Free! Free! However, let me give it a little credibility first. You and the companies you use are already using open source software right now.  Google runs on Openbsd. Most of the sites on the internet run on Apache server. Firefox might be what you’re reading this with. Tivo, the Amazon Kindle, Sony Playstation 3 and most animated movies are made on Linux run hardware. All are free and open source products that the big companies have realized cut their costs by millions if they hide what’s below. Even your precious Apple computer and iPhone hide the free software below. If they know it. So should you.

As an old commercial used to say, “I’m not just the president, I’m a client.” Whereas I may not be the president I realized back in 1993 that I practice what I preach. Firefox is my web browser of choice. I dumped Microsoft Outlook in favor of Mozilla Thunderbird as my email client. I use Open Office on some of my PC’s instead of the way over priced and bloated Microsoft Office for all of my work. I use the very resourceful Video Lan Client (VLC) for all of my video and audio and I use Pidgin (or Adium on Macs) for all my instant messaging. I even use Ubuntu Linux as my primary desktop (note: It does have a little bit of a learning curve or help to setup than Mac or Windows but you have to remember they come installed when you buy the PC). These only scratch the surface. My internet hosting companies are running products like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, SugarCRM, PHP and OScommerce and I’m sure yours are or will too.

I’m not going to lead you astray or have you believe that I don’t use Microsoft, Apple, or Adobe products. Dreamweaver is unparalleled at present for designing websites. Microsoft Access is not touched by it’s freeware and open source competitors and video games on the PC just aren’t at the level of the ones you pay for if you’re a serious gamer. However, every serious business or cost conscious individual should pay a little closer attention to their pocketbooks and give serious consideration to some of the FREE software that is out there to help you.

Prices may vary but once you compare the cost of a Mac or Linux computer running the standard application alternatives: Open Office, VLC, Firefox, and Thunderbird, or a Windows computer running the same with the addition of AVG free antivirus as compared to a computer with all the things you need for your computer that have license fees you may be swayed.

Go ye and spread the word of Free to all your friends. Email them sites like Download.com and sourceforge.net to search the thousands and thousands of programs that are free. For now free doesn’t mean being handed the paper cup sample of your favorite drink. Consider yourself handed the whole bottle.