Monday, December 5, 2011

Ubuntu Unity

I've been struggling with Ubuntu's Unity desktop since I upgraded a few months ago. I'm not having the same issues as it seems some others are with the radical redesign of the desktop. Instead, what I am facing is a very nice interface that is too unstable for me to keep.

I've heard that Unity has issues with dual monitor support, so I just assumed that it was too new or unstable to fit my needs. I went to change to the old classic Gnome backend and even tried the new Gnome 3.0 settings but I received the same crashy results. What has been driving me the most crazy is that I run VirtualBox for my Windows work and currently we are now in the middle of a major migration project. I'm spending too much time rebuilding Windows after my GPU card seems to freeze.

I found out that my graphics card is not fully supported under Ubuntu or at least not with a current kernel.  I'm currently running with open source drivers but I'm going to attempt to build the fglrx modules to see if they will work on the new 3.0 kernel.

I wonder how many people are not liking Ubuntu's Unity because of it's dependence on hardware acceleration and the kernel upgrade to 3.0.

Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520030] radeon 0000:01:00.0: GPU lockup CP stall for more than 10004msec
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520035] ------------[ cut here ]------------
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520066] WARNING: at /build/buildd/linux-3.0.0/drivers/gpu/drm/radeon/radeon_fence.c:267 radeon_fence_wait+0x3fb/0x430 [radeon]()
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520070] Hardware name: OptiPlex 745              
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520072] GPU lockup (waiting for 0x000787AA last fence id 0x000787A9)
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520075] Modules linked in: hidp bnep rfcomm pci_stub vboxpci vboxnetadp vboxnetflt vboxdrv binfmt_misc snd_hda_codec_analog snd_hda_intel snd_emu10k1x snd_hda_codec snd_ac97_codec snd_hwdep snd_pcm snd_seq_midi snd_rawmidi snd_seq_midi_event snd_seq uvcvideo videodev joydev snd_timer btusb bluetooth usbhid hid snd_seq_device v4l2_compat_ioctl32 radeon snd ppdev ttm drm_kms_helper soundcore drm ac97_bus snd_page_alloc emu10k1_gp psmouse serio_raw parport_pc gameport i2c_algo_bit dcdbas dm_multipath lp parport floppy tg3
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520123] Pid: 2468, comm: compiz Not tainted 3.0.0-13-generic #22-Ubuntu
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520126] Call Trace:
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520135]  [<ffffffff8105e8af>] warn_slowpath_common+0x7f/0xc0
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520140]  [<ffffffff8105e9a6>] warn_slowpath_fmt+0x46/0x50
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520159]  [<ffffffffa015227b>] radeon_fence_wait+0x3fb/0x430 [radeon]
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520165]  [<ffffffff81153ffd>] ? kmem_cache_alloc_trace+0x11d/0x140
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520171]  [<ffffffff81081d40>] ? add_wait_queue+0x60/0x60
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520193]  [<ffffffffa016d630>] radeon_ib_get+0x110/0x1a0 [radeon]
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520216]  [<ffffffffa016efd8>] radeon_cs_ioctl+0x98/0x1e0 [radeon]
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520231]  [<ffffffffa00b4574>] drm_ioctl+0x3e4/0x4c0 [drm]
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520254]  [<ffffffffa016ef40>] ? radeon_cs_finish_pages+0xe0/0xe0 [radeon]
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520259]  [<ffffffff8104c84e>] ? perf_event_task_sched_out+0x2e/0xa0
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520265]  [<ffffffff810097ba>] ? __switch_to+0x1ea/0x310
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520269]  [<ffffffff8104e8fd>] ? set_next_entity+0x9d/0xb0
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520273]  [<ffffffff8117959a>] do_vfs_ioctl+0x8a/0x340
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520279]  [<ffffffff815e7f04>] ? __schedule+0x3d4/0x700
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520283]  [<ffffffff8117a7fa>] ? poll_select_set_timeout+0x7a/0x90
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520287]  [<ffffffff811798e1>] sys_ioctl+0x91/0xa0
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520292]  [<ffffffff815f27c2>] system_call_fastpath+0x16/0x1b
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.520295] ---[ end trace c7810cd722715065 ]---
Dec  5 12:57:24 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.668081] radeon: wait for empty RBBM fifo failed ! Bad things might happen.
Dec  5 12:57:25 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.815837] Failed to wait GUI idle while programming pipes. Bad things might happen.
Dec  5 12:57:25 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8758.816938] radeon 0000:01:00.0: (rs600_asic_reset:342) RBBM_STATUS=0x9401C100
Dec  5 12:57:25 hfa9495 kernel: [ 8759.315026] radeon 0000:01:00.0: (rs600_asic_reset:361) RBBM_STATUS=0x9401C100

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bits or pieces?: Why I believe AAPL will crumble ...

Bits or pieces?: Why I believe AAPL will crumble ...

Understanding Why Consumers Choose Operating Systems

Why Not Linux? - Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
I thought about posting a comment at the bottom of a nicely reasoned article about why someone loves using Linux. But after reading through the comments, I was more interested in other people's justification of why not Linux.
Why not Linux?  Is a fantastic question that apparently shows some interesting rationalization of consumer behavior.
First of all in the article, the writer doesn't understand why people mistakenly assume the value and the price of something is interlocked. It seems to me that in a capitalistic society that people learn that the two are equal. But this is only true in a free and open market. In order to break people's assumption of value=price you need to show how the markets are entirely different. That in an Open Source software world/ market there are different costs and benefits versus any closed source alternative from Microsoft or Apple...
Second consumer inertia seems to be a valuable lesson. Changing purchasing behaviors is difficult and if we are also talking about someone needing to use a different marketplace it would seem undaunting.
I'm going to have to continue my thoughts later.

Problems with Cyanogen or Android in general

Last night I was lucky enough to be working in something like a lead shielded basement at my in-laws house.  I had absolutely no Verizon signal, I'm sure, no GPS signal and the only wireless devices turned on were 1 wireless access point installed just feet away from the desk I was sitting at and my stereo bluetooth headset.

While I was downstairs I started getting a bunch of force close errors on all kinds of applications.  Most notably  Google App Service and Browser.  Since I run the Cyanogen Mod, I have run into a situation like this.  Usually I can fix the situation by running the ROMManager's fix permission task and reboot my phone without a hassle -- I actually only ran into one situation where this helped when I upgraded to Cyanogen 7 without wiping the data or the cache partition and the fix permission was only a temporary fix until I went to factory restore.

Android Encryption Options

Whisper Systems :: WhisperCore
My current favorite encryption tool on Android is Droidcrypt.  I just installed RR File Locker and will see what I think about that application.

Blocking Facebook and Twitter at Work

Our company just took it's first step towards evil by blocking Facebook and Twitter based on perceived lost productivity. Don't get me wrong, I am all for keeping productivity high. I have always appreciated our past stance that Internet and computer waste was a management issue not a technological issue.

I was given the task to come up with a way to block primarily Facebook. In the last year we have purchased Cisco's Ironport product for its ability to block dynamic categories that is constantly being updated by Ironport's system.

Why Your Company Should Not Block Facebook or Twitter | Social Media Today

Blocking sites like Facebook and Twitter is unecessary and couterproductive, here are some reasons why:
  1. Trust: If companies can entrust their employees with things like patient care, financial data, or customer care it follows that they should be able to trust these very same employees with something like access to social media properties. Social media policies should, of course, be put in place to provide guidelines for your employees.
  2. Creativity: There are pundits out there that calculate the billions lost with employee status updates and tweets. Ultimately though, our minds need a reprieve from our workplace tasks - that's why we have smoke breaks, coffee breaks and water cooler conversations. Stepping away from a problem via Facebook or Twitter may actually help you solve it.
  3. Empowerment: I'm of the mind that you become powerful by empowering others. If you think you are optimizing productivity or security by blocking certain sites, you are probably doing the exact oppositewhile at the same time creating an illusion of security for yourself and your company.
  4. Happiness: Your employees might work 40 hours a week but when you factor in commutes, prep time, and work that is brought home - it's a lot more than 40 hours. If you can increase your collective workplace happiness by letting your call center folks see their friend's vacation pictures or new boyfriend on Facebook, you will likely be paid forward with a more productive workplace.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chromebook Thoughts

Top 10 reasons Chromebook will forever change corporate laptop use

I am working with my children's charter school IT committee. We were given a task to purchase 75 laptops for online testing purposes which are becoming more and more required. The problem, as I see it, is that the school doesn't have the infrastructure to double the number of workstations they currently have and handle 75 more laptops that are probably going to be used infrequently at best and possibly only once a year at testing time.

That's where Chromebooks start really tickling my spider senses :) I was lucky enough to receive a CR-48 hardware beta device and so far I love it for what it can do. Unfortunately, I can't recommend it for work because of the lack of critical applications. Just a note, I would include webstore apps as replacements for our regular apps. However, at work we deal with unique software solutions for healthcare that won't likely have a webstore presence for many years, if ever.

This school problem seems like the ideal candidate for Chromebooks. I'm just waiting to see if we can use the Chrome browser to take the tests or if we need to use a Citrix published application. Apparently Citrix is close to releasing a Chromebook/ HTML5 compatible Receiver application.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dev asks: Is it worth listing your apps on the Amazon Appstore? – Android and Me

Dev asks: Is it worth listing your apps on the Amazon Appstore? – Android and Me: "What does this mean for Amazon and the Appstore? Sure, this is building buzz, but are they making any money off the daily free apps? I don’t see how. Also, I think this is solidifying customer behavior. People just download the daily free app and not much else."

This is a fantastic article that describes my concerns with Amazon Android Marketplace. I have purchased 1 App on the Amazon Store that wasn't available on the Google store and was offered at a 50% discount. Otherwise I have only "purchased" the free Apps of Day.

Although I don't think that Amazon needs to have a successful App Store in order to achieve their biggest reason to create the Amazon App Store. I believe that the reason that Amazon created the App Store was to use Android as the OS on their Kindle products without allowing someone to install the Barnes and Noble app on a device sold as a Kindle.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

USMT 4.0 Error on SCCM 2007 KB977203

After running into the problem of User Migration as described in KB977203, we ran into another problem when trying to apply the Hotfix downloaded from Microsoft.  It seems that when going to download the Hotfix Microsoft checks your computer for locale and architecture (64-bit or 32-bit) and only displays what Microsoft believes is the appropriate patch.

Apparently when I went to download the Hotfix from our 2008 64-bit Server, it found only 1 patch that matched my architecture 64-bit and language/ locale.  I downloaded what I believed was the one and only patch and attempted to apply it getting an error saying the patch was not applicable to SCCM builds above 6005 (SP1).  My SCCM 2007 build was at 6487.

We called in a free Microsoft Update service call and I only found the mistake because I attempted to download the patch from my Linux workstation which didn't match any Microsoft architecture.  Once I saw that there was more than one patch to choose from, it was pretty easy to download the correct 429644_ENU_i386_zip.exe patch although there was still no strong indication on which of the two sp2 patches to apply.

I'm including the screenshot from my Linux machine to show the patches I saw.  I should also point out that Microsoft does allow you to view all possible downloads.  I wonder if the 429644 is mislabeled for x86 instead of x64.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Helpful Incite for Business

Apocalypse Now: Why Believers Will Grow Stronger If the World Doesn’t End – TIME Healthland: "Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance, which predicts that the more we have given and invested in a particular point of view, the less likely we will be to abandon it in the face of contrary evidence"

This theory looks helpful when describing why projects don't fail in a small whiff but in an enormous explosion. People don't want to admit defeat and choose a different tack even when there is insurmountable evidence.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bitcoin Links

After listening to Security Now's episode about Bitcoin where they basically talked about the cryptography used behind the scenes.

I would love to see some more articles from Economists.

Bitcoin, Ven and the End of Currency

Friday, May 13, 2011

Arduino and Android

Make: Online | Why Google Choosing Arduino Matters and is This the End of “Made for iPod” (TM)?

I wonder what can be done with the Android Accessory Kit? I think the first thing to do is list all of the possible input devices that can be used. And then list all of the output devices.

Something that I would personally like to see is a way to send long form text from the Android screen to the Kindle e-ink display.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Virus Report Example

This is a Virus Report example that I put together for the latest outbreak at the hospital where I work.

Link: (sent via Shareaholic) 

Here is the information about the Qakbot with MD5 hash that CompanyB is dealing with.

From what I could read about on Symantec's website Qakbot takes advantage of 2 Microsoft Vulnerabilities and 2 Qucktime Vulnerabilties to elevate priviledges to administrative rights for installing of a rootkit.

This threat is known to be spread by exploiting certain vulnerabilities. Installation of patches for the following vulnerabilities will reduce the risk to your computer.

Vicki and I spent some time researching the virus to make sure that CompanyA wasn't vulnerable. After a couple of tries we found a still infected computer in CompanyB's Purchasing Department.

When Vicki and I got there we rebooted the machine into Safe Mode to see if we could run the approved removal tools that was distributed by CompanyB.  As we were running the Symantec Removal tool, I went looking through the registry and file system looking for suspicious files.  I found 4 lines under the HKLM/software/microsoft/windows/currentversion/run key.  Two entries were of applications that I was familiar with, one being Symantec's anti-virus and the other being a common driver or syncing software.  The other two items looked suspicious at first because they pointed to c:\documents and settings\all users\application data\microsft\soihag\ but since I wasn't familar with all CompanyB's software, I assumed that they must be legitimate.

While searching through the file system, I double clicked on what I thought was a randomly named folder (Because the OS was hiding the extension for know filenames) when in fact it was a randomly named .exe's on the root of the drive (C:)  At this time we were still off of the network and booted into the Safe Mode, but the next time I looked for the registry entry to look for specifics of the semi-suspicious files I was not able to find them.  I believe at that time, there was a rootkit altering the system and everything else I learned was possibly compromised.

Before restarting into Normal mode, I deleted the suspicious folder c:\documents and settings\all users\application data\microsoft\soihag

Eventually I ended up deleting the entire Microsoft folder (c:\documents and settings\all users\application data\microsoft) assuming that Office or other applications could recreate the information.  After rebooting a second time in Normal Mode. Symantec Antivirus gave us a dll warning.  This is when I felt pretty confident that the virus was removed.  Symantec then started rebuilding itself, it ran into not having the correct permissions to reinstall into c:\program files\common files\symantec shared.  This furthered my confidence that we had given the virus a huge blow because the administrator account also didn't have the permissions necessary to view the file.  After taking ownership of the directory and inheriting permissions, Symantec was able to be installed without any indication of infection.

in Conclusion:
The virus seems to difficult to uninstall consistently and effectively.  Re-Imaging the 40 odd computers is a wise choice.  Although I think you could have chosen to assign an Operating System from SCCM to automate some of the process.  This would be a little difficult because those computers would have to be on the network during the time it took for the automated assigned task sequence to start.

CompanyA will probably not be vulnerable because of our Windows Update policies (the vulnerabilities were from 2003 and 2006 respectively) and administrative right policies.  In fact I went back to CompanyA's McAfee reporting to see if we were hit by a variant of qakbot called pinkslipbot.  We had 4 detections on 2 machines and all files were deleted.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kuddos for Intel's App Store

Angry Birds - Check out this app from the Intel AppUp(SM) center

I was looking into getting Angry Birds installed on something other than my phone so that my kids wouldn't always want to take away my phone. I had heard that Intel created a new App Store (Trademarked by Apple, really?) and when I went there looking to install a Windows binary, I was pleasently surprised to find a nice little sh script to install. Unfortunately, it didn't install on the current Ubuntu without a problem. It looks like it is trying to install an rpm because I have alien installed. When I have some time maybe I can help troubleshoot the issue and submit a bug report.

Angry Birds

Upgraded Droid Incredible to Cyanogen 7.0 RC2

I was finally able to upgrade my phone to Cyanogen 7.0 RC2 after a number of failed attempts. I would keep getting an error about a bad character in the script.
I:Checking for extendedcommand...
I:Running extendedcommand...
Waiting for SD Card to mount (20s)
SD Card mounted...
I:Running script:
ui_print("ROM Manager Version");
ui_print("Preparing to install ROM...");
run_program("/sbin/touch", "/tmp/.installscript");
line 1: unexpected character at 'u'
Syntax error in update script
I first tried a couple of ways to fix this with a fix permissions, wipe cache, then wipe dalvik cache, but in the end, I ended up expanding the SD partition to the maximum size which made me lose all of my backups.  As dumb luck would have it when I forced the install of the zip from SD (both the cyanogen and google apps zips) I ended up with a non working device.  I kept seeing the skateboarding Android for about 4-5 minutes before he would skate up again and again.  I decided that I needed to perform a factory reset from within the clockworkmod recovery.  Afterwards, I had a very nicely operating Cyanogen 7.0.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SCCM 2007 Notes

SCCM 2007 was migrated to new hardware correctly. I did have a number of issues with Active Directory and Local Computer Group permissions that had to be fixed but all-in-all the migration worked.

I found out in the process of migrating and trying to troubleshoot SCCM errors related to the migration that I was able to solve a couple of problems that we apparently had on the old server. The first issue was with WSUS SP2. I have used WSUS for a long time and tried keeping the database by upgrading through the different service packs and releases. Apparently, the database became out-of-sync with the correct version and needed to be replaced.

We also started getting an error "SMS WSUS Synchronization failed. Message: The operation has timed out." and it looks like the advise listed below should work by clearing out the existing software update entries.

Software updates not working after changing the central parent (all expired)

  • [HYT00][0][Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver]Timeout expired
    This error is indicative of an issue with connectivity to the WSUS database and not any type of error downloading the update from the internet. You should check on the health of your SQL Server instance as well as the SUSDB database. Make sure permissions are also in tact and that the SPN still exists if using a remote SQL Server which is not running as local SYSTEM.
    i logged onto my WSUS db and everything seemed fine. so i completely uninstalled WSUS from the central site (deleted the SUSDB database mbd file, and all downloaded updates) and reinstalled. no luck, still getting the same error
  • Monday, December 06, 2010 11:51 PMomniwolfUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals
    It seems related to a known issue. Please backup your database and run the following SQL Command on your Site server:
    Delete from CI_ConfigurationItems Where CIType_ID in (1, 6, 8);
    Update CI_SDMPackages set IsDeleted = 1 where SourceSite = ;
    Exec sp_DeleteOldSDMPackageData 0;
    It will clear out the esisting software update entries.
    Hope it helps.

    i will give this a try, thanks!

MAPI Plugin Ubuntu Exchange 2003 2007 Evolution Ubuntu | Double Tall Iced Mocha, Lite on the Chocolate

MAPI Plugin Ubuntu Exchange 2003 2007 Evolution Ubuntu | Double Tall Iced Mocha, Lite on the Chocolate

I had the same issue trying to use evolution-mapi on Ubuntu and once I used an IP address for the Exchange 2007 server, all was good.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fukushima Nuclear Power

Fukushima Nuclear Accident – a simple and accurate explanation « BraveNewClimate
I have been reading every news release on the incident since the earthquake. There has not been one single (!) report that was accurate and free of errors (and part of that problem is also a weakness in the Japanese crisis communication). By “not free of errors” I do not refer to tendentious anti-nuclear journalism – that is quite normal these days. By “not free of errors” I mean blatant errors regarding physics and natural law, as well as gross misinterpretation of facts, due to an obvious lack of fundamental and basic understanding of the way nuclear reactors are build and operated. I have read a 3 page report on CNN where every single paragraph contained an error.
This fits with what I understand about the physics of radioactivity after taking the free course Physics for future Presidents by Richard A. Muller.

I wish that every story about radioactivity would have to contain the fact that no substance can "catch" radioactivity by being by another radioactive particle. The only way for a substance to be radioactive is if the molecule is inherently unstable by location in the periodic table. If you see concern over water used within a nuclear power plant, it is because water can dissolve parts of the radioactive materials not because the water has in any way become radioactive itself.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and other fiction are to blame for America's current misunderstanding of nuclear science. I don't understand why my high school physics class didn't cover anything about radioactive science.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Migrating SCCM 2007 from Windows 2003 to 2008 on New Hardware

We needed to move some hardware around to save money on purchasing a new riser card for an LTO tape drive upgrade.  That gave us the opportunity to migrate off of Windows 2003 32-bit and test our recovery steps on SCCM 2007.  Our current environment was using SQL 2005 and we wanted to use SQL 2008 specifically for reporting services.

Here are the steps that worked for me and my coworker Kevin:

  1. Shutdown all SMS services and set them to disabled. (Don't want to restart machine and make changes to SCCM)  
  2. Upgrade SQL 2005 to SQL 2008 R2 on old machine.
  3. Shutdown all SQL services and set them to disabled.
  4. Backup up SCCM 2007 databases *.mdf and *.ldf files for SMS_001 (Check for file locations by right-clicking on SMS_001 in SQL Management Studio and clicking on file)
  5. Change computer name of the old computer to something like SCCM2 instead of SCCM
    1. Turn off old computer.
  6. Build Windows 2008 R2 64-bit on the new machine.  Name computer name SCCM but keep in mind that all permissions that were set are now set for SCCM2 based on the SID.
  7. Install SQL 2008 R2.
  8. Install SCCM 2007 SP1.  Reuse same Site ID and Site Name (as long as services are off on the old computer this should not have problems)
  9. Upgrade to SCCM 2007 R2 (match the version level of the old machine)
  10. Verify that everything installed correctly by logging into the Config Manger console.
  11. Shutdown all SCCM services temporarily.
  12. In SQL Management Studio change the name of the SMS_SiteCode database to something like SMS_SiteCode_new.
    1. Right-Click and attach the old database files that are in the same location as on the old SCCM computer
    2. We had permission problems on our c:\SQL_logs  folder where the folder was set for read-only.
  13. If the new database looks attached correctly as SMS_SiteCode, then go ahead and start up all SCCM services
  14. You should be able to log into Config Manager now and see some errors about Active Directory permissions under SMS_Site_Component_Manager.
    1. Go to Active Directory Computers and Users
      1. Select "Advanced Features" under the View Menu
    2. Expand "System" object
    3. Right-click on "System Management" and choose Properties
      1. Note that the old SCCM computer will have full control permissions using the new computer name.
      2. Add the new SCCM computer which is called "SCCM" in my example and give it full control
    4. Right-click on "SMS-MP-SiteCode-SiteComputerName" and choose Properties
      1. Add the new SCCM computer which is called "SCCM" in my example and give it full control.
  15. Restart "SMS_SITE_COMPONENT_MANAGER" Windows Service.
I'm at a pretty good place right now.  I'm a little concerned that I may have SMS services installed that were not set up in the old database but I'll keep posting as I find issues.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Why No Cloud Printing from Picasaweb?

My wife asked me to print off a couple of pictures to our printer and I was excited to try the new cloud printing. I assumed that picasaweb would allow for easy printing through the web browser and that my cr-48 laptop would be up for the task.  The only challenge would be to see how cloud printing works.

Unfortunately, picasaweb only allows for ordering prints from a service. For normal users, I would have liked to see a print icon that would nicely format a webpage for printing at a minimum. If Google was thinking ahead, they should have added Google Cloud printing as a possible print service so that you could pick and choose your list of photos to print and then send them to the cloud.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My Review of Google's CR-48

I received the laptop about 4 weeks ago and have had it long enough to start writing my review.  Since the device is in beta and not a finished product I don't feel that my review can be finished.  In fact, just 2 days ago  I received the first, and as far as I know only update for the device.

Quick positive impressions:

  • Non-technical users seem to like the device better. Although I can appreciate it and use it happily as an additional device not my main workstations.
  • My 8-year-old daughter just loves this device. I've set her up with her own Gmail account and she likes the video chat from gtalk.
  • This device is being used way more than our Windows XP Netbook.   
  • The Verizon 100MB contract is perfect. I don't understand why Verizon or AT&T are not paying to install a cellular chip on every laptop device capable of it. I really like Google's negotiated contract for this device.  If I need data I like knowing that it is a straight fee for 1 day or 30 days, no negotiating, no sales talk, and most of all no up-sale.  100MB is just enough data to wet my appetite
  • The battery life and lid closing is fantastic. As well as the power button functions are very gratifying.
  • CR-48 Gtalk app is fantastic and I wish it could be brought over to Chrome
  • The security of someone being able to log into a device without first creating an account is brilliant. It takes no time for someone else to borrow your device.  In fact, I used the hotel's shared computer and wished for some of the same security considerations. ChromeOS would make a fantastic kiosk OS for hotels or other shared devices. I don't have to worry about what information is stored on the device if it were to be stolen or lost.

I've found that among the people I've shown proudly the Google laptop, I'm the most critical.  Maybe it has something to do with getting a nice free device that I couldn't have expected and in many ways deserved.  Everyone who I show this device that is non-technical and surprised to hear that Google even makes laptops, really seem to like/ love the simplicity and design of the device.

As for myself, I love the device but feel hampered by all of the missing features.  (Although, I also see great developer opportunities creating solutions to these issues)  I am struggling to use some form of remote desktop solution.  I have successfully used guacamole on a system at work to connect to my Ubuntu workstation, however I still need to find a secure vpn type solution.  Our Clientless SSL VPN with Cisco's ASA 5500 has not been very kind when forwarding dynamic HTML5 type scripting.

At home, I'm trying out ThinVNC with very little luck.  I seem to have problems with getting VNC to work through the Windows 7 firewall.

<sarcasm rant> By-the-by, who's brilliant idea was it to eliminate creating a firewall based on ports and protocols and give permissions based on executable.  I haven't researched this, but I am guessing that Windows 7 firewall doesn't create any sort of checksum when the permission is created for an executable. This reminds me of Linux's xinetd which is effective but never has been called a firewall. </sarcasm rant>

I brought this device with me to New York and was slightly frustrated that there was no solitaire-like game that could be played locally when I was on the airplane.  When I reached my hotel, the device worked better than I would have thought.  That is probably the place where I truly fell in love with the device. My wife brought our XP netbook which failed in comparison.  We decided to not bring any fully functioning laptop because our use would be only for entertainment and some communication. Normally, I would have just lived by my Android cell phone but the CR-48 really shined.  By the end of the trip my wife was a Google CR-48 believer.

Here are some areas that I find missing and a couple pieces of advice:

  • I tried to upload some pictures/video from a Samsung video camera that saves everything on SD card.  I was able to enable advanced file system but apparently SD cards with more than 2GB was not compatible on the first version.
  • Don't hesitate to activate options under about:flags  
    • Here are my favorites right now:
      • Advanced File System
      • GPU Accelerated Compositing
      • GPU Accelerated Canvas 2D
  • My device arrived not capable of working. I ended up finding out about holding the reset button (on the back with a paper clip) and the power button for 10 seconds.
  • The developer dip switch was covered by a piece of black sticker. I hesitated enabling the developer mode for quite some time until after I fell in love with the device and wanted to see if I could develop Android apps under Ubuntu.  So far, I've found out that I need more than 5GB partition to make that work with the default Ubuntu desktop install.  I'm planning on uninstalling a bunch of software to see if I can just work with eclipse and X windows.
  • I kinda sorta wish that there was some form of Java plugin installed. I can understand the problem and resources necessary for such a big tool. The Cicso ASA 5500 would allow me to remote RDP and a couple of other options if Java were available.
  • I don't like having HTML5 and Flash apps mixed together in the webstore

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Problems Syncing on Android

I've been having issues with Gmail sync for a while. It seems like it may have started after the Gmail app was upgraded to allow for priority inbox but I'm not sure.

I had these sync options turned on when I started noticing a problem synchronizing my Gmail.

  • Backup Assistant
    • backup
  • Exchange ActiveSync
    • mail
    • contacts
    • calendar
  • Facebook for HTC Sense
    • live feed
    • contacts 
  • Google
    • Google Reader
    • Books
    • contacts
    • Gmail
    • Calendar
  • News
    • news
  • Stocks
    • stock info
  • Twitter -- turned off
    • live feed
    • contacts
  • Weather
    • weather
I was able to follow the instructions listed below to get sync to start working again but this morning it failed.

To give some background on possible environmental issues.  I keep my Wi-Fi always turned on and at the hospital where I work I use the public Wi-Fi which redirects users to an "I Agree" terms for service page to create an authentication cookie.  I walk in and out of this Wi-Fi zone and need to re-authenticate (or rather re-agree) before Internet services start working.  So I know that I have inconsistant web access throughout the day.

I'm able to receive Exchange emails throughout the day without a hitch.  However, I had my first meeting that wasn't synchronized on the phone.  On my Droid Incredible, it showed no meeting and on Outlook 2007 my meeting was from 1-2pm.

My boss has been having meeting issues on his Motorola Droid2 Global phone which only happened with recurring appointments and the phone seems to not  display appointments that are modified from the recurring series.  We were able to trick the Droid into displaying the appointments by making a minor change to the series and re-saving the meeting.

When I went to try that same trick to the occurance, I got this weird Outlook Error:
Cannot open this item. You changed one of the recurrences of this item, and this instance no longer exists. Close any open items and try again.
Anyway, I am now trying to see what happens if I just have Google and Exchange synchronization turned on.

Here is the article that I found that started me down the path of fixing my sync issue.

xda-developers - View Single Post - Gmail Sync not working: "1) menu -> settings -> accounts & sync

- click on a sync account and disable individual syncs: contacts, gmail, calendar
- repeat for all accounts

2) Same location as step 1
-disable auto-sync
- then disalbe background data.

3) menu -> settings -> applications
- click on gmail app
- clear cache
- clear data

4) same location as step 3
- click on gmail storage
- clear data

5) Restart phone

6) re-activate sync functions in backwards order of disabling them:
- enable background data.
- enable autosync
- enable individual sync items for each account

This fixed it for me and has stayed that way for some time now."