Monthly Archives: August 2008

Facebook explosion

I have accounts with a lot of social sites, such as facebook, myspace, etc, and have had them for quite some time.  I have never really used them much for various reasons, but recently I realized that a bunch of people I know use it and so I decided to update my page on facebook and add a few new friends.  As soon as I did that, BANG – a bunch of people started adding me.  Before I knew it, I was adding new applications and getting caught up in it.  Then after some of Liz’s friends started adding me, we had to setup her an account on Facebook.  So last night we were up until after midnight working on her profile and adding pictures and applications…yawn…

 

 

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The Exercise bed

From the title of this post you are probably thinking something “naughty”…sorry to disappoint, but this is actually about a really cool new invention.  An bed designed for exercise.  This bed has a treadmill built in, so you can work out lying down…literally!  Check it out!

Bad genetics

Anyone who knows my family (parents and grand-parents) know that I am unavoidably cursed with the “balding gene”.  Both sets of parents and grand-parents have hair loss problems in both the men and women.  Sadly for me, this means that I am starting to look more like a middle-aged man – especially when I had my Miata and was driving around with my top down and had the sun glaring off the top of my head :-).  I’m not sensitive about it, I don’t mind it all that much, but it sure would be nice to look closer to my real age.  I’ve been tinkering with the thought of shaving my head…just to get it over with it.  I am not liking the “picard” look too much right now and I know a few people that have gone with a complete shave of the head and it looks good on them.  They say that “bald is beautiful” right?  On the other-hand I am also inclined to just start wearing a hat more often and avoid the whole thing!  Oh well. 

Axigen Mail server for Windows – New release 6.1

Today I received an e-mail from Axigen about the new official release of their mail server for the Windows platform.  Curious about it, I installed the demo on another server I have at home.  Much to my delight its amazing.  Packed full of features and it has a super slick interface.  One of my favorite features are the ability to generate temporary email addresses right from a webmail account.  This is very useful when signing up for services or downloads.  This is by far one of the best mail platforms I’ve seen that has a free version.  You can run this server for free on a variety of platforms for free, with up to 5 mailboxes (you can use aliases so you can accept more than 5 SMTP addresses) and 1 main domain (you can also have domain aliases, so no worries here either).  I highly recommend this mail server package to anyone considering running a mail server at home but don’t want to get involved in Microsoft Exchange.  Check out the Axigen website for the download and more information.  Oh…one more thing, you have to register on the free office version page and they will send you a license key in .bin format, which you then apply to your copy of the software.  They don’t make it that easy to figure out how to get the key, but thats how.  Enjoy!

The Don't song

I found this youtube video rather funny and enjoyed watching it.  Thought I’d pass it along to anyone reading my blog.  Its a silly song about the don’t of marriage.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-lv8745InI

OTA DTS HDTV

Don’t you just love article titles loaded with acronyms and abbreviations…  Anyway, I am writing this post to talk about my upcomign experimentation with “Over the Air” “Digital Terrestrial Television” in “High Definition Television”.  When I bought my new Samsung 50A450 plasma TV with an integrated HD tuner, I was amazed to find out that I got great reception to a bunch of local network broadcast channels.  Then recently when the Beijing Olympics started and my wifes wanted to watch some of the events that were on very late at night, I realized how nice it would be to have a PVR (personal video recorder), so that we could record live TV and watch it later.

So the fun begins and I started researching options and trying to find a good HD TV Tuner card for my PC.  I ended up going with a DVICO FusionHDTV7 RT Gold PCI card.  I went with this card based on some hard to find reviews I stumbled across.  This kit comes with an antenna, but I doubt it will be good enough, so I also purchased a Phillips MANT510 amplified indoor antenna to provide better reception and quality.  I actually got two, one to replace the older Phillips antenna I already had which is connected to my plasma TV and another to connect to the HD Tuner card in my PC. 

I plan to evaluate this setup for a while and see how it goes.  If I find that reception is not good or have any problems with either the TV or PC setup, I will probably order the new ClearStream 2 DB8 outdoor antenna or one of the new model Channel Master antennas.  

Ultimately, we want to be able to watch live TV in HD, use the PC to record shows OTA live in HD and then play them back later.  This will be super easy once the new Popcorn Hour A-110 arrives in a few weeks.  I can have the PVR software record all shows and store them in shared folder which I can then stream anytime I want from the popcorn hour A-110.  Overall I have been pretty happy with the setup we had already, but adding the TV capture card and new antennas will definately boost my satisfaction, especially since the only cost involved is the initial hardware.  I have no monthly entertainment services that I subscribe to, no cable, satellite, fios TV, nothing.  I watch all my shows in HD, will soon be able to record live HD broadcasts and save them for later viewing, and you just can’t beat the price. 

Once all the new hardware arrives, I’ll post an updated with reviews.

 

Saw "The Dark Knight" last night

Last night after work, I met a friend at the food court in the mall.  After grabbing a quick bite to eat, we headed over to the AMC Veterans 24 theatre to watch the 6:50 showing of “The Dark Knight”.  We made it to the theatre just in time and it was nice that it wasn’t really packed. 

The movie itself was pretty good for a batman movie, it had good characters; the story was interesting, etc.  It was (as most reviewers have said) very dark, with a lot of things that would have been quite gory and something you might expect to see in a gory horror movie, except to get the PG-13 rating, they don’t actually show you whats being done, they either change camera angles or don’t directly show the gory details.  It wasn’t that there was a lot of gory stuff going on, but they implied what they were doing and left the rest to your immagination. 

As a batman fan, I enjoyed the movie.  There were lots of cool scenes in it and some good action and effects.  Overall it was good, but one thing really gets to me.  I don’t know what people are thinking, or what kind of parent would do this, but parents are taking their young kids to see this movie!  I don’t understand why anyone would do that, as this is a dark movie, and there are bad thing being done to people by the joker and other “bad guys” in the film.  At one point a little boy has a gun pointed at his head and both him and his family believe he is about to be shot.  Its just not a good movie for younger kids.  When I was in the theatre last night, there was a man there with his two younger boys.  One looked like he could have been 10–12, but the other one coudln’t have been more than 7 or 8.  The younger boy was scared several times during the movie, and I could see him curling up in his chair turning around and crying. 

I realize that not everyone thinks the same way, and often times common sense is often now the “uncommon sense”, but really, there is no excuse for this, movie reviews and ratings and the internet resources are all there for parents to check out before letting their kids see movies like this.  I rank this up there as a form of child neglect, honestly…  Parental neglegance or the just plan old “I don’t care” mentality about stuff like this is not good for any kid.  And you better believe that during that movie, I felt like coming up behind that guy and in true batman style pulling him up out of his seat and then making him take a good hard look at his crying son sitting a few chairs over. 

Oh and one more thing, I thought it was kind of interesting that they protrayed some batman immitators in the movie.  I wonder if this idea came from reality in that with most of the last few batman movies there have been fans who have dressed up like batman and prowled the streets of some city pretending to be batman.  I like what they did with that in the movie, even though the joker killed several of the immitators…  I think they were trying to send a message to batman immitators out there.

Batch and Automate Distribution List membership

***Please read update in Red at the bottom of this post***

Immagine you are in the I.T. Department at a larger company.  Now immagine that your users get a lot of e-mail, seriously, thousands a day – mostly because they are on distribution lists for the company which receive a lot of mail.  Now picture these users traveling internationally and wanting to save on roaming data charges by cutting down on the volume of e-mail they receive on their mobile phones, or simply want to go on vacation and not have to deal with the burden of managing their e-mail while they are out of the office.  On top of all this (by this time you may really working your immagination) the users want you to take them off of a huge number of lists at weird times of the day such as 10pm.  In addition they want to be re-added at 5am the following week.

How do you handle the above scenario?  What would you do?  Normally the users I deal with may just accept that they have to stick with normal business hours for list changes such as I described above.  Or perhaps they will rely on international I.T. Support to do it for them due to the convenience of time zone differences.

What if there were a better way to deal with this situation?  Would you be interested?  What if there was a way to batch and automate the addition or removal of Distribution Lists on a user’s account?

I found myself in exactly the same situation I described above.  I spent some time researching my options and trying to find a good solution; something that would let me create batch files which could be setup as a scheduled task in widnows.  Something that could add and remove DLs from a user’s profile at any time of the day or night without me having to pyhsically make the change myself.  To my surprise, I couldn’t find anything out there that would do the job.  Thats when I decided to head over to vbforums.com and ask for some help creating an application or script that would do what I needed.

With gracious work by member chris128, a new application was created that completely takes care of the above scenarios.  Chris created an application called DLManager in VB.NET, and I performed real world testing and evaluation of the program.  This is a very useful application that goes even beyond Distribution List management into the realm of security groups as well.  Which means you could batch, automate and schedule Active Directory security group membership changes as well.

Application Information:

* Compiled VB.NET executable meant to be called from the command line
* Requires the .NET framework 2.0 or higher in order to function
* Can be run in a DOS batch file
* Can be scheduled via batch script or other automation tool (see http://www.networkautomation.com)
* Very small footprint at less than 30kb in size
* .ini config file to hangle AD domain configuration information

Command line syntax: dlmanage.exe [add/remove] [target AD username]  [DLNAME] (OPTIONAL): adminusername adminpassword

Example for admin user: dlmanage remove jdoe “Information Technology”

Example for non-admin user: dlmanage remove jdoe “Information Technology Administrator AdminPasswordHere

NOTE: Quotes are only needed for DL or security groups that have spaces in the name.

(this download is free software, and full credit goes to the author, see author’s site for more details)

************* IMPORTANT***************
Chris has released an updated version that is easier to use, has new featuers like better error handling, primary group awareness and no more config.ini file.  I’ve updated the download link to give you the newer version of the program.  For complete details, please see Chris’s Site at
http://www.cjwdev.co.uk/Software/DLManage/Info.html

Updated program syntax example: DLMAnage Add username group1,group2,group3

Moved to new domain

For those of you who read my blog or subscribe to my RSS feed, you should know that I have moved to a new domain. All my old links/posts/pages, etc should all still work, but you may see some strange issues now and then until you update your bookmarks and or RSS feed link. My new domain name is joechurch.com and my blog link is now located at http://www.joechurch.com/blog

I will be putting up a new site at the root of joechurch.com sometime soon, but for now the only thing that works is my blog link.

It was quite a challenge to move domains with my blog, as I had lots of plugin issues and link problems. I ended up starting from scratch and re-installing wordpress and all my plugins manually. I used a wordpress export to move everything over which worked great except that I lost of blogroll links. I was able to use the wayback machine at http://www.archive.org to get the links I used to have and the names I gave them. So for now, the blog is fully moved over and working great.

Registry battle with itunes

Recently I had a small battle with itunes on my laptop.  I have a fairly large music and podcast library and anytime I have trouble with itunes it makes me nervous.  Fortunately the issue wasn’t as bad as I thought.  It all started when I tried to install itunes 7.7.1.1 through the apple updater software.  Half way through the install of the new update, I receive a registry error saying I didn’t have access to the “pcast” key.  This key is under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.  The problem was that I didn’t have permissions to access they key, and wasn’t the owner.  I am ad administrator on my laptop so this was strange and it had always worked ok before.  After I received this error itunes rolled back to a semi-working state but none of my podcasts would download updates anymore.  This pcast key seems to be the key that controls the podcast client in itunes. 

I tried to gain ownership of the key and all subfolders but constantly received errors and was unable to do so using the check box to reset permissions and ownership on all child objects in the registry editor.  So I began to poke around in the subfolders, which I didn’t even see at first.  I tried to delete the key, got an error and then saw sub folders. 

To make this long story short, to fix this I had to do the following.  First, I had to try to delete every key and subkey I could find under the pcast folder.  Then I went into the permissions for each key and add my own user account not as an owner, but under general permissions.  I gave myself full control and did this for every subkey under the pcast folder.  After I did that, I was able to drill down to the bottom most key, and start deleting my way up.  Once you give yourself permissions on all subkeys you can delete the root pcast key.  I re-installed Itunes and its back to working like normal.  I guess I will be more cautious with auto udpates from now on.  And oh yeah, I made a full backup of my itunes configuration and preferences, as well as my library.  Thats important!