Thursday, June 09, 2011
Im not deleting this blog and will probably go back to co-publishing in both locations, but the old way I used to co-publish doesn't work as well with the new blog structures, so for now I'm mainly posting on Carolina Region.
Come visit me at http://carolinaregion.com
Friday, May 06, 2011
Yes it’s been awhile since I’ve done serious blogging, and after the week I’ve had I’m trying to get my groove back and find a rhythm that works well for me personally and for the business. My classic mistake is over-exerting myself mentally then burning out on a concept; reason #247 while I may never be an accomplished author.
My life underwent a massive change when I moved out here to marry Amy and for a long time I looked at it, thought about it, and planned to ramp it back up, get back into selling computer services to everyone I could find, expanding my company portfolio with tons of new clientele, and making money hand over fist to support my family and all the dreams I always had.
As the lingering effect of green grass, pine trees, and warm soft clay worked its way into my psyche I found myself not really wanting to get back to that quite as much as I had thought I did. Rather than running my hands over a keyboard all day and wincing when I shoved a splinter into my finger in the woodshop like I did so many times in the beginning I now find myself running my hands over the textured surface of pine acacia, and oak, deftly feeling for the right use for that particular piece of wood more than I do at the keyboard, my hands hardened and immune to the small sneaky splinters. Callouses wrap my fingers and joints and the strength in my hands from turning over hardened clay earth to plant seeds and working even harder wood into comfortable furniture has made my grip crushing where it was once dexterous. My dexterity is visibly less, but I wouldn’t go back to the other way I don’t think. I don’t think it’s possible to have both really. You’re either one or the other and I’m finding I’m happier out here like this.
The company has slowed down measurably. With Tim on the east and me on the west we’ve both drifted off in little ways to our own things. We’re still working together on projects but not really on the day-to-day stuff we used to deal with. Computers are more a side-line to the project work we’re doing than they are a main source of income. The real work now is sweaty and exhausting and fulfilling. I’ve been wiring up Best Buy stores on contract from their corporate office and earn more in a week than I used to in a month, so it’s ok when I have a month of no work ahead. Now I have plenty of time to plant the rose garden before my next project is due to start. After that one is done I’ll use the down-time to build some more furniture to sell at the market on the weekends. Every Friday is now a reminder to cut the grass rather than to spend 4 hours doing payroll.
This isn’t to say I’m no longer doing computer work. Quite the contrary actually; having the time between jobs to do research into my markets gives me more time to learn and improve my skills, to focus on more finite aspects of IT rather than broad-spectrum wholesale coverage of the entire market. I’d rather get paid more for the things I do VERY well than I would hassle and negotiate rates for stuff that anyone can do with a little college education. Anyone can fix a PC, really, with a little intelligence. Building structured networks that exceed TIA/EIA standards is another matter altogether and doing it better than the next guy is just icing on the cake. After 5 years of sub-contracting for one of our vendors I finally landed a wiring project that includes structured cable infrastructure for the FBI. You really can’t beat that can you? I can talk about all the Blockbusters and Best Buy’s I’ve installed all day long (and those are good clients) but that’s nothing compared to saying I just wired up the new FBI field office. What’s your competition going to say to that? Nothing. They just walk away and shake their head. You don’t get those kinds of contracts without extreme attention to detail and serving out your time doing scut-work to earn it. Finally… maybe… I’m past the scut-work stage… (And if you’re in my market and thinking that maybe we bid the job, nope. I didn’t compete with anyone on the bid. They came to me and said “You come highly recommended. Can you wire our new law enforcement center?” Sure thing. Yessir. Be glad to!
Now that I spent most of a month getting that contract, I’ve been extremely bored this week, so I’m revamping the company website, my own blog, my other website.. you feel a theme developing here? I’ve completely redesigned carolinaregion.com, and I’m working on a new layout for twistednetworx.com that will focus more on three or four core areas of IT rather than trying to land every client that comes to our site. I’m back into web design again, strictly as a solo-practice and very selective about the clients I take on. I’m only taking one web site at a time now and only then if I feel I have the time to give it that it deserves. Otherwise, they can just wait for me to get some free time or they can find another developer who needs the work. I put more time into my code now, but there’s no other projects vying for my time so its easier to be more in-depth with the client that way. I should have done that years ago instead of just walking away from web design for about 5 years. The newer technologies are making it easy enough that my 63 year old mother now admins for two different web sites as an editor and author.
I’ve gotten back into WordPress authoring hard core, though still coding with Joomla when it makes more sense to do so. I’ve even had the time to work with a friend of mine on coding my own custom flavor of Sugar CRM as a product I can sell in his vertical market… all things I never would have had the time to learn or improve upon when I had six employees, 400 customers, and no free time because the phone never stopped ringing.
Between work and more work I’m playing in my shop and yard a lot lately. I’ve finally purchased my first riding mower ever in my life so I’m still in that “enjoying it” phase of cutting the grass each week, so much to the point that my mower gets washed and waxed more than my truck does! I’ve been gardening like crazy as well. A neighbor offered me part of his hay-field for a garden this year and I took him up on the idea with fervor. After two weekends and about a hundred hours I now have over 500 plants in the ground and I’m growing everything in sight. I even had the time to work on a raised herb-garden for Amy (that’s the one in the picture). I finally put in the rose garden I’ve always wanted, and probably went a little overboard, but my wife likes roses and I like giving them to her… so now she has roses growing from the moment she steps out of the truck, all the way around the back of the house, and right up to the back steps! Yeah, ok, maybe I do overdo it a little, but I enjoy it thus far so leave me be.
On the more serious side of life Amy has been working herself to the bone. There’s nothing she can do about it; its just the way the job goes, but it’s wearing on her. She needs a break, but we need the business to stay busy because we need the income, so it’s a catch-22. I look very much forward to when some of my projects close out this year so she can financially relax a little and maybe even take a day off if she feels like it!
Some of you also have heard about little Piper, our Catahoula puppy. She’s been sick for a few days now. Amy spend the night sleeping on the couch last night with Piper on the floor in front of her. I spent the night on the floor in front of the dog, completely unable to sleep because I was really afraid she was going to stop breathing and I didn’t want Amy to wake up to that alone… We carried her to the small-animal vet today (My thanks to Mt. Pleasant Animal Hospital for being kind on the bill!) and she’s doing better. She’s gonna be on an IV here at home for a few days and then on oral antibiotics until she’s completely better. We still don’t know 100% what was wrong with her. The hospital suspects Parvo even though the test came back negative. Apparently if you catch it early enough it doesn’t always show up. Personally I can’t imagine catching it any LATER than we did… in 24 hours she went from frolicking in the yard to not being able to move her muscles enough to drag herself off her pillow. I don’t think she’d have survived the day without the great folks who took care of her today. It would have broken my wife’s heart to lose that dog… this is the first pet we’ve had in the house that’s really “hers” in the truest sense of the word. I’ve got Bonnie and Jordan has Biscoe and Piper is completely in-love with momma-Amy.
And speaking of Piper and Amy, I’ve been on here way too long so I’m gonna go in the house and goof off with my family a little. Happy trails all. Comment if ya like. You know my narcissistic personality craves the attention of comments!
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
This is just a heads-up to you other Facebook users out there. I logged into my Facebook account this afternoon to find out my daughter had been the victim of yet another of the daily Facebook viruses. This one seems to be mostly inane and harmless with the exception that it seems to spam everyone you know via both wall posts and messages. If it has more damaging effects I’ve yet to uncover them.
So I thought I’d take a moment and write about how to tell if a message or wall post you receive seems to be spam.
Here’s the message I got from my daughter today on my Facebook:
On the surface it looks innocent enough. I especially like the “whoops sorry meant to send that to someone else” comment they used to make you think it was a real message intended for another person. I only picked up on it because that’s not the traditional diction my daughter uses when she chats. She’d have said something more like “Did u c this yet? It’s pretty funn. C wat u luk like 20 yrs older” Hey.. imagine that.. +1 point for spammers being too stupid to keep up on the lingo! At least I’m not the only one not in-tune with today’s kids!
Rather than click on the message I clicked on her wall instead. This is what I saw: ( It’s slightly shrunk down to make it fit on this page, but you get the point.) Even my child, as internet-addicted as she is, wouldn’t spend the hour it takes to manually post the exact same message to 90 of her friend’s walls on Facebook.
If you click on any of the links you see the person’s wall and this is the post it makes:
Ok.. this too seems innocent enough.. almost, but I was still slightly bugged by the whole repeated posting thing. As I looked on her friend’s walls I could see where she had most likely been infected from one of their messages because over half her friends were infected with the same posting and they appeared before hers did by minutes to hours, depending on the person.
Knowing I’ve got enough sense NOT to get infected I figured I was safe trying to figure out what all this link does. When you clink on the link it takes you to an official Facebook App page, located at:
(I’ve already reported the app to Facebook as a scam and hopefully it will get removed soon enough.)
This is what the app page looks like.
WARNING: Though the app page itself causes no harm, do NOT follow it’s instructions or you WILL get infected.
To save you the curiosity I took a screen capture of the app page. This is what you would see there:
Right off the bat you can tell something is wrong here. Don’t EVER EVER EVER copy and paste code from an app into your browser window. No legitimate application on facebook would use that as a way to access itself.
Basically this app tells you to copy that code and paste it into your browser window and then press enter.
If you look closely at the code, to any normal naïve user it looks harmless. The address is (DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK BELOW)
Most likely the script copies cookies from your browser’s memory to get at your facebook password (which you stored moments earlier when you were on the facebook site). Now it has your logon, your password, and 100% access to post on Facebook as you.
In less than an hour tonight, there were hundreds of my daughter’s contacts and friends infected and that was without me having to take the time to actually look in-depth to find out more about the scam.
In short, unless you KNOW it’s a trusted application, always send a message or email to the person who sent you this kind of link to verify they meant to do so. I simply called my daughter tonight and asked her “Did you intentionally waste an hour today posting links to hundreds of peope on facebook?” She said “Uhh.. no. Why?” Well there ya go.. she got hacked. Knowing my daughter uses her facebook password as her email password, now some hacker in Switzerland has access to all my daughter’s personal information. Assuming the worst case scenario I took a look at my daughter’s email account with only the information the hacker would have if they were me and found out all I could in 60 seconds or less. If this were actually used to get at my kid, I would now know the following:
- Her full name
- Email address and password
- All her facebook friends.
- Father and Mother’s names and facebook accounts and email addresses.
- The name, age, and info of every relative she has on facebook.
- Her church and what time her youth group meets, and where they meet this week. (so I’d know how to stalk her)
- That she’s in the high school band, and her band director’s name.
- What events her band is doing, when, and where. (so I’d know how to stalk her)
- How to communicate with her on Skype, google talk, facebook, and every other chat program she uses.
I found out all this in under one minute with only the knowledge gained from her Facebook login and password.
So, what’s the lesson parents and kids?
- Be careful what you click on on social networking sites.
- Don’t EVER use an app that requires you to copy and paste code at all.
- Don’t respond or click on messages or wall posts that you REALLY don’t know are safe.
- Don’t ever have your Facebook and email passwords the same. EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER! (I know I stutter, but I mean that.. EVER!)
- Don’t assume that because you got it from a trusted source that it’s OK.
I hope the rest of you out there in the web-o-sphere have a great night and that maybe this prevents you from falling victim to the same thing.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Since Livedrive.com is extremely heavy-handed with the censoring on their web forums it appears I have to resort to blogging and using Google index results to get answers to some of my problems. Overall I’m a huge fan of the software. It’s great! Their support however, is lacking. I’ve found most often in the past that a properly keyword-laden blog post on Google’s servers often gets immediate results from the Internet community since Google will index my search terms with words like “LiveDrive.com and Support and Problems.”
If you’re going to have support forums for users thats hidden from the general public then it’s general practice to have them be a place for open-ended discussion and troubleshooting of problems. What else would we be there for? Do you just sort through the “oh I love your product” posts and allow those to be posted to falsely inflate your product’s apparent quality? I’ll admit I used the forums when deciding to try the product, and after reading many rave reviews, decided to pay my substantial fee to become a member. I didn’t know you pruned all the negative publicity out of them before allowing users to see them.
Instead the staff at LD require moderator approval for every post, so it’s hours (and sometime over a day) before your post gets published, if at all. I personally have three posts to the boards, all urgent in nature, which required quick corrective action on my part before I could continue, none of which were approved by moderators, the most recent of which concerned an email archiving issue. (See Email Support issue mentioned below)
Here is their policy notice about the forums:
Bullet points 1 through 3 I can agree with.
Bullet point 4 suggests that you know better than we do whether you are able to answer our questions better than a community member. Well, if you had a phone number we could call in the US, I’d be ok with that. I even made the international call to London not once but three times yesterday, only to receive voicemail each time with no option to speak to a technician.
Bullet point 5 just seems completely rude. It’s a forum… a place for us to ask questions, primarily from each other, and to compare notes and troubleshoot problems. That is in essence why you put it in the “help” section of your website I assume?
In point of face your “Help page” says:
So now you’re even filtering what we communicate with other users about? That seems a little ridiculous don’t you think. I know you’re not a US based company so I can’t tout my “freedom of speech” card or anything, nor would I want to, however I do expect to be able to find a faster way of getting support than your standard email delays from your support department.
Email Support Issue:
I purchased the largest package you offer, and my “Service and Support” guarantee on your website offers “24 hour priority same day e-mail support” as part of my purchase.
I filed a support ticket #163907 on 1/24/11 at 1:20 PM.
I received an email 4 minutes later with the following:
This message has been automatically generated in response to the creation of a support request regarding: -
There is no need to reply to this message right now. Your support ticket has been assigned a Ticket ID of [livedrivesupport.com #163907].
If you wish to contact us again regarding "Subject Removed" please include the string: -
in the subject line of all future correspondence.”
I never received ANY response from support on the issue and this has been almost 75 days since I opened the ticket.
I filed my 4th support ticked on 3/16/2011 at 2:17PM through their “Support” button on the program interface.
Here is the screenshot of my email records to document that I’m not fabricating this: (Click the image to blow it up for further examination of the timestamps)
My FIRST response from the staff at LiveDrive.com was a full FIVE days later. To his credit, he answered my question with his email and it wasn’t a critical issue, but was causing a problem with a client computer and I was stuck on that issue until I received his response. So.. 24 hour priority same day support huh? Umm.. not so far.
Back to my current problem 4gb filesize limitations?
Now, the 4gb filesize limitation I was originally trying to politely post on the forum, which never got approved, and which I am now forced to put here on the blog.
I have an outlook PST archive file titled Exchange Archive All.pst, which as you would imagine is just that… an offline archive of some of my old emails that aren’t really needed everyday, but might need to be referenced in the future. This email archive goes back almost 10 years. I’ve been archiving this via external USB drive for years now just as a preventative backup in case my original got infected, corrupted, or otherwise became inaccessible. One of the great things about LD is the ability to backup endless amounts of data, so I was very glad to know my outlook archive would have a home in the cloud, safe from damage.
The other day I went to open the file and was greeted with an error. Hmm.. that’s not likely for me, so I try again with the same result. Curious but not supremely worried, I navigate to my email backup directory on my computer and see the following.
If you notice the highlighted file, you’ll see it’s listed as 4,194,304 kilobytes in size. That is unnatural and extremely unlikely for two reasons.
- 4,194,304 kb is EXACTLY 4.00 gigabytes.
- It is unlikely that I could create a 4.00gb outlook archive on purpose if I tried! It’s too perfectly random of a number.
My suspicion is that the storage media Livedrive.com is providing is formatted FAT32, which can’t possibly process data over 4gb, so the file on my computer got truncated during it’s upload to the backup server and reduced to 4.00 gb, the maximum allowed on their servers. I’ve been unable to determine this as fast since they won’t approve my posts on the forums and therefore I can’t ask my other peers if they have ever experienced a 4gb limitation on their file sizes.
Secondly I do this for a living, so I KNOW the only thing that’s changed on this target computer is the addition of LD in recent months. Today I went and restored the last backup I’d made off my USB media. The screenshot below shows the actual filesize, as it’s supposed to be.
You can see from the backup folder that the original filesize was supposed to be 5.685 gigabytes. I copied the old file back over to my computer and as suspected it’s working fine now.
So, my question for LiveDrive.Com support is this: Is there a 4gb filesize limitation on files uploaded through your system? Please advise…
I’ll let you know what I find out…
Sunday, April 03, 2011
Wow it’s been a busy couple of days, at least those I’ve been home. For three days before leaving for Denver and for three days since I’ve been back I’ve been constantly getting the garden ready for this year. Those of you who know me know I’ve always wanted a “real” garden and it looks like this year I’m going to have the space and time to devote to it.
The neighbor behind us has about 3 to 4 acres that abuts our property and he only uses it for hay for his horses. He offered to plow me some of his field for garden if I wanted it and I jumped on the idea. I’ve been patiently waiting for about six months for planting time to arrive and now its just about here.
One thing I’ve learned so far this season, though its only just begun, is a huge respect for gardeners of years past who did everything on their own with no machinery. Everything I’ve done thus far this year has been completely by hand and my garden is extremely small compared to others and hand-tilling this will wear you out! Stanly county soil is thick red clay, so thick it often clumps so tight you can mistake it for stone. I’ve had to hand-crush all the clumps, mix about a thousand pounds of clay with 500 pounds of potting soil, and added osmocote to the mix as a booster. Just the rose garden took me almost three days to complete and it’s only 18 feet long.
The newest addition: Herb Garden.
Little ideas here and there have led me to more and more work, two solid days of which resulted in me getting Amy’s herb garden designed and built. After building the first part of it today she’s decided she wants to double it and put one on the other side of the patio, so I’ll get to work on that in the next couple of days. First she decided she wanted it twice as tall. Now she wants two of them! lol. It’s work but I love woodworking and I love gardening, so I certainly enjoy combining the two, especially when it’s stuff she wants!
The picture here is a raised bed I built for a total of about $40.00 in materials. I’d highly suggest building your own over purchasing pre-built beds. It just makes no sense to spend that kind of money when you can do this in an afternoon. This one is 1 foot tall, 12 feet long, L shaped, and 18 inches wide.
The next project is one just like it with a bench in the middle that will go across the patio from this one.
This weekend I laid in the herbs that are already potted and ready to go. This bed you see here (above) has Lavender,rosemary, peppermint, sage, oregano, Strawberries (cause I really wanted at least ONE strawberry plant) and two kinds of peppers so Amy and Jordan can make their Salsa-Verde they like so much.
The garden thus far this year:
The next obstacle to tackle is the seed germination for the vegetable garden and for the other herb garden, all of which I seeded tonight. I sorted, catalogued, and started 144 new plants, all of which will go in the ground within the coming month. I’m cataloguing these below for my own reference so I’ll know what’s what when its time to transfer them.
- 6 Cherry Tomatoes
- 6 Beefsteak Tomatoes
- 10 Okra
- 4 Giant Watermelon
- 6 Crimson Sweet Watermelons
- 4 Jubilee Watermelons
- 12 Sugar Baby Watermelons
- 6 Jalapeno Peppers
- 6 Tendergreen Cucumbers
- 6 Boston Pickling Cucumbers
- 6 Straight 8” Cucumbers
- 6 Zucchini Squash
- 18 Giant Speckled Pole Beans
- 8 Cowpeas
- 6 Thorogreen Bush Lima Beans
- 6 California Wonder Bell Pellers
- 6 Straightneck Squash
- 6 Basil
- 6 Coreander
- 6 Parsley
- 6 Early Summer Crookneck Squash
- 6 Dill Bouquet
Tomorrow I’ve got two quotes to work on for customers, 1 project to schedule, and then I’m off to find a place to hunt down some bamboo so I can work up my idea for bean poles, then I’m off to Lowe’s for more lumber for my wife’s herb garden/bench. Oi! Ok, back to work.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
As an American who has spent significant time in Libya, made friends in Libya, and even lived there for a short time, I’ve been keeping fairly abreast of the goings-on in the recent news and I find myself having to speak out on the matter. As a citizen whose country has been at war on behalf of other nations for over a decade, yet never going to war for our own defense, and whose nation is in the worst economic situation in the last eighty years, I find myself unable to conscionably condone yet another war in a foreign country that we’re not really going to actually “fight” especially when I’d imagine we’re doing so for free. We can’t take care of our own country, yet we’re qualified to help them take care of theirs?
By now you should know Operation Odyssey dawn has gone into effect; the code name for our newest military debacle where we put our noses and our fighter jets somewhere they don’t belong and do it for nothing. Our country is broke. We owe TRILLIONS of debt and we’re spending BILLIONS on this effort for little to no recompense. Let me amend that.. absolutely no recompense, for our efforts. When will this stop? Sure, life sucks all over the world and dictators are everywhere, but I don’t see us bombing the communist dictators of China. Why the hell are we in Libya?
Already, this close to the forming of the new “joint venture” (and I use that term very loosely), all the foreign governments who are pushing us to back this no-fly-zone enforcement of UN Security Council Ruling 1973 are wondering where the money is going to come from and what we’re actually there to do, and oh yeah… whose going to do it? President Obama came out and said plainly that ousting Gadhafi is NOT the goal of the U.N operation, but other allies are stating at the same time that it’s the key objective. Left hand; meet right hand. You two should talk before you get on international television and start spouting sound-bytes.
The same day, Obama, (in one of the rare smart things I’ve ever heard him say) told the Washington Post that we (the US) are seeking to hand over the reins of leading this operation to another country over the next several days but no one seems to know who is going to take over for us. Then one of our own think-tank directors pretty much sums it up clearly and says it’s gonna stay in our lap like someone’s stinky child… no one else wants it. I mean why not? We’re already fighting two wars. What’s a third to our economic deficit? With the possible exception of the Roman Empire, I’m pretty sure no country in mankind’s civilization has ever fought three wars on three different fronts when none of them concerned their own country.
Right now NATO is a complete Cluster-*$#k, no one knows what’s going to happen, and we have no idea how to plan this? Seriously?
I’ve been to Libya.. I’ve sees Gadhafi’s compound. Every single living soul in Tripoli knows where it is… it’s the only one with sniper towers every 50 meters, surrounded by a blockade of stone, and with the pointy barrels of guns sticking out of it. If we’re going to do this to help the Libyan people, we could be in and out in less than an hour. Pick our targets of opportunity, drop in a few JDAM warheads, bug back out to the USS Enterprise or the USS Kearsarge parked off the coast and be home before dinner. Boom. The entire “war” would be over in less than a day. We could obliterate the entire country with the firepower banked on those two warships.. so why can’t we kill one old fat dictator and his two bastard sons? And all that is even IF the Libyan people want us there in the first place. If they ask, sure. We’ll come over there with a few hundred million dollars worth of jets and firepower for your defense. Then we’ll send you a HUGE bill, payable in crude oil. Hell, we’ll even help rebuild Ras Lanuf and Brega oil fields for that! Why not? That’s a sensible approach to assisting another country. Not this “let’s fly around and take potshots at tanks” crap we’re doing now.
Journalists are getting rebels and civilians stating that Gadhafi is bombing family homes with tanks,and that’s killed over 90 and wounded over 1000 in Misrata alone. And that was just on Tuesday; one day. In a city of only 300,000, injuring 1000 per day seems like good enough reason to drop bombs on everything spouting a gun-turret and let the dice fall where they may. Might we hurt some civilians? Yes, it’s war. Shit happens. But I guarantee we won’t kill a thousand TOTAL in the country if we went in there and wiped him out in one afternoon. Here’s an idea to help save the innocents. “Attention Libyan People: When you hear the roaring sound of jets overhead, run in the opposite direction of the bad guys and don’t come back for a day or so. We’ll take care of the rest!” There. I just saved thousands of innocent lives. Ya happy?
According to reports coming out of Libya, the rebels who actually ARE fighting him are trying to give us the coordinates of his tanks and military targets but we’re not bothering to answer their calls. Thanks Admiral Sam Locklear. We appreciate your coordinate effort to get intel from the locals! For God’s sake, we’ve already dumped 161 Tomohawk cruise missiles into the country at about 1.2 million each. We’re already in this for 200 million at in a couple days with nothing to show for it! According to the CSBA (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments) our no-fly zone will cost about 400-800 million to implement and over 100 million per week to maintain it. Are you telling me we can’t paint a target on this guys head for less than a billion dollars and pull the trigger? I’ll make you a deal. Give me half that and I’ll go over there and put a bullet in him myself. I think with half a billion dollars I could probably get some pretty serious firepower working over there. What the hell are we doing?
Obama, get off your sorry ass and get our country out of the wars you already promised to get us out of, you lying sack of manure. Haven’t your policies ruined this once-great country enough in the brief time you’ve been in office? We don’t belong in Libya and if we ARE going to go there, let someone who knows what the hell they’re doing lead the charge. If you’ve never been in the military you certainly don’t deserve to lead the most powerful one on earth, not to mention your lack of foreign policy is kinda scary. I hear southeast Asia loves you.. you should go back there and run for office!
Either stay out of their country, or go over there with all our might and have our jets back home by week’s end!
Saturday, January 15, 2011
How to Update your Droid X if you’ve removed bloatware and can’t get updates AND KEEP ALL YOUR DATA! (The Easy Way)
If you’re like me and removed all the extra bloatware the Droid X comes shipped with (Blockbuster, CityId, Amazon, etc) you’ve probably already found out that you can no longer get updates from Motorola. I’ll try to save you the month and a half of Googling I had to do and explain why and how to fix it, and how NOT to fix it. As a side note, this should work for changing out any ROM on your Droid. If you’re like me, you’re incorrectly assuming that this update will wipe your phone and you have to reinstall everything from scratch. Wrong! I didn’t know it would do this, but apparently upgrading the original factory ROM just replaces the missing files on the phone. It doesn’t wipe the phone like you would do if you were doing a reset. When this was all done I was very happy to see that all my apps, preferences, and everything else was just like it was before I started except I now could get the upgrade.
Why you can’t get updates:
Chances are you wanted to speed up your Droid a little and get rid of those running processes you’ll never use. You rooted your phone, deleted the apps and then your Droid ran a little faster and you were happy for awhile, right?
Here’s the rub; and I’m not a fan of Motorola doing this personally, but I guess I understand why they do it:
There are certain applications your Droid X came with that you can remove. There are others that you can NOT remove without Rooting your Droid. If you remove these apps you can’t get future updates for the Droid X.
Reinstalling the Apps Necessary to Update the Droid X
Some of you have already tried the obvious trick that came to my mind; just put the apps back on the phone and then update! Wrong. That won’t work either because Motorola installed those apps from the System level, and your user profile on the Droid doesn’t have the permission to put the applications back with the same permissions they were previously installed with. It doesn’t matter why, so don’t bother yourself with it. It’s just the root of the problem (if you’ll pardon the bad pun).
Now, there ARE tools out there if you’re a Linux geek that can help you restore the applications one by one, and then you can run command line arguments at root level to reapply system permissions to these folders. After two hours of searching out the right software do to it, then figuring out how to adjust my environment variables in Windows 7x64 I was no closed to having my problem fixed so I searched for another way to do it. That way was just WAY too complicated. Plus, if you can do that, you’re probably not reading this page anyway. Instead you’re laughing at me, feeling sorry for n00bs like me while reading LifeHacker on your Linux box in your Spiderman T-shirt.
Giving Credit Where It Is Due
Just because I wrote this how-to doesn’t mean I’m the brains here. I’d like to give credit to the person who wrote it up for me so I could understand it. Thanks go to “BBCrackman” at Droid World for his post. If you’d like, you can read his article here. After he wrote his article, there were tons and tons of comments similar to problems I was having, and a lot of modifications offered by others that led me to my solution, so I thought I’d re-post the fix with a little more information geared to the non-android-programmers out there (like me).
Fixing your Droid: Getting the Tools you need
Ok, enough talking. You’re only here to figure out how to fix your Droid X and get updates, so let’s get to the meat of it.
You’re going to need one, possibly two programs and one file to do this, and your Droid USB cable.
Note: I did this on Windows 7 64-bit. The programs should work the same for you but I can’t guarantee anything on another operating system.
- Download RSD Lite (Download here) RSD Lite is a windows-based program that will allow you to install the SBF file on your Droid. The SBF file is the original factory ROM (programming) for the Droid X, version 2.2. Once you have this installed correctly, you can update to whatever current version you choose.
- Download the official SBF file for Droid 2.2 (Download here) The mirror sites for this file gave me a really hard time. I think the one that finally worked for me was the third mirror on the page, MegaUpload. The file is 434mb and downloads very slowly. I’m putting up my own mirror for the file, so if you’d like it, leave a comment with your email address and I’ll send you the link. I’m not going to post it here publicly because my server would likely get hammered by people needing the SBF.
- Download Motorola Mobile Phone USB Drivers. (Download here) You might not need this program if RSD finds your phone the first time, but I had to install it on mine for it to work properly.
Step 1: Remove Software
Uninstall EVERY Motorola program you have on your computer. Don’t have any Motorola sync software left when you start this!! I skipped this advice on mine and it only finally worked when I listened to the others and deleted the other Motorola sync software. Apparently some of those programs change the USB driver and RSD Lite won’t be able to see your Droid X. If it can’t see your phone, then you can’t run the update.
Step 2: Install Software on your PC
Install RSD Lite. It’s easy and will only take a minute. Once it’s installed, go ahead and install the Motorola USB Drivers, mentioned above. You can wait and see if RSD Lite works without you needing to install the drivers. That’s up to you.
Step 3: Connect your phone
Connect your phone to your computer and start RSD lite.
- Be sure you’re set in to PC Mode, and Debugging Mode.
After a few seconds you should see a screen like this one below.
See the blue highlighted line? That means RSD lite detected my Droid correctly. Highlight the line on your computer and click the Show Device button at the top to see the info you see in the top of the picture. It’s just your phone’s basic information.
What to do if RSD Lite doesn’t see your phone:
I can’t really help you in specific with this part because it could be a hundred different reasons why. Do what I did; go to Google and type “RSD Lite won’t see my phone” and hunt until you find a solution for your particular computer. My solution was to do what I mentioned before: remove all the Motorola software. Then I had to install the Motorola USB drivers and it worked like a charm.
Step 4: Press Start and Wait
Click the “…” icon on RSD lite and browse to the SBF file you downloaded. Press Start. Walk away for about 15 minutes. Yes I know like you feel like an expectant parent in a delivery room during your child’s labor… “Oh god, it is gonna be ok? Is it gonna work? Is it gonna die?” Just go get a macchiato and relax. If you’ve come this far you’re OK.
What happens at this point:
I admit I was a little scared at this point. I’m picturing my phone being a brick if this goes wrong, just like you probably are and trying to figure out what I can do to it to make it look like an accident when I carry it back to the Verizon store and pretend to claim it just quit working. Your phone screen will probably go dark, reboot, and then say something like “SW Update” for a few minutes. You can watch the progress bar on the RSD Lite program to see how far along you are. After a few minutes of that I received the android update animation.. that yellow bar you’re used to seeing get to about 30% and fail. Remember that one? Well it got to about 30% again and then just appeared to hang… BUT.. after I looked closer I could see it was still going. Then it slowly made it’s way up to 100% and the phone rebooted. Once it’s done your phone will come back on and you’ll have the new version.
Step 5: Your Phone Might Not Work…
Yeah, I freaked out too. There was a blue triangle icon on my home screen notification area and I couldn’t make any calls, couldn’t send texts, etc. I freaked out at first, knowing I’d bricked it. Actually you haven’t bricked it… it’s just like it came from the factory, with the exceptions that it’s got no account information in its ROM. If you want to verify, go to the Phone Status screen under settings and look at your phone number. It’s probably not showing correctly. It’s an easy fix.
- Dial *228
- Press 2. This will deactivate roaming and put you back on the network.
- Hang up when done.
- Dial *228 again.
- Press 1. This will “activate” the phone on verizon’s network and tell the phone what number it is. Verizon already has all that information stored based on your serial number, so you just need to tell the phone to go get the information again. This might take as long as a minute, but that’s about it.
Sunday, January 02, 2011
It’s a really sad morning here at our house. Little Joshua came running into our bedroom this morning crying because he’d tried to take Jacob, our family’s ferret, out of his cage and something was wrong. Jacob had tried to get out of the cage sometime in the middle of the night and got caught in the door and suffocated. The space was too small for him to escape and I guess he was just determined not to go back in. He did that a lot. He could wiggle out of just about anything, under anything, and between anything.
Some people won’t understand this, but I just wanted to take a moment to honor him here and remember him. I don’t even like ferrets… I’ve never seen one before that I cared anything for, but this little guy was different from the very first day Hannah brought him home. He was a rescue from the Stanly County Humane Society and when Hannah saw him over the summer she had to bring him home. My first thought was “Great, another pet” but it didn’t last long.
All you had to do was see this little guy in action and you fell in love with him. He played with the humans, the cats, the dogs. Yeah, he even held his own every day playing with my 50 pound dog. Every time I let the dog inside the house, she trots to Jacob’s room to see if he’s in his cage or out and about. If he’s out, she goes looking to play with him. In all the time we had him he never bit anyone, hurt anything, damaged any furniture, or anything else. He was a perfect addition to our little family. We let him out of his cage for entire days, sometimes even all night. He just hung out with the family, laid under the coffee table. He’d even gotten in the habit of trying to follow you into the shower. If you weren’t careful he’d pull back the shower curtain and jump in to wash himself off then tear off through the house like a little madman trying to get the scent of soap off him. He was the coolest little pet I’ve ever had.
He’s gone now and our lives are the worse for it, but our lives are better for having had him as a part of the family, even for only a little while. He made all of us smile every single day we shared with him.
My Christian beliefs don’t really say much about animals, but I believe that God has plenty of room in all of Heaven’s space for special little friends, so I choose to believe he’s up there entertaining other kids and families and that I’ll see him again one day.
Goodbye little buddy. I’m really really going to miss you.
Saturday, January 01, 2011
I got up yesterday to a slow day in the shop with very little to do, and sometime mid-morning decided I wanted to get Papa’s table-saw out of storage before it got into any worse shape and see if I could restore it and build a table for it so I can use it in the shop. I currently use my Dad’s Makita 1/2 horse but that’s not strong enough for some of the needs I’ve had so I figured it was time to break out the big boy and put it to back to work.
It didn’t take me long to run into one problem after another. The saw had been sitting in storage for about 2 years and had developed a significant amount of rust. I didn’t have the motor mounts to be able to install the motor, didn’t have the manual for the saw, and don’t really even know what model or year it is, so I have no reference point to start at for any of this. All I know is I have this saw and I want it to go in just this spot in my shop… no plan on how to get from step A to Z.
I’d like to give a big thanks to the members over at “Old Woodworking Machines.” They have a members section where users across the US upload pictures of their saws, drill presses, lathes, and other tools. Through this database of member submissions, totaling 945 Craftsman uploads, I was able to determine the model, year and other info I needed to restore this old saw. They even had the original craftsman manual available for download, which I’d like to point out Sears does offer. lol
This is the saw when I first brought it out of storage. You can see the table (the cast-iron top) is extremely rust covered and in need of some real love and attention.
The base (the big box that hides the inner guts) isn’t in much prettier shape itself; showing signs of rust, dents, dings, scratches and 40 years of use.
This inner workings (also made of cast iron) that make up the working parts of the saw are mounted to what’s called the Cradle; the big piece of iron that hangs down from the middle of the table. They’re in pretty nasty shape too.
Just as a side note, my entire Makita table saw (including the table, saw motor, blades, case AND stand, only weighs about 40 pounds. This big girl here when completely assembled weighs in at about 400 pounds with all the accessories mounted. Since I’m missing a few pieces, she’ll weight about half that when I’m done.
What you’re seeing here is the table turned upside down and the base removed. You can see the Arbor where the blade attaches on the near-side of the cradle. That brown and tan stuff isn’t actually rust. Believe it or not that’s 40 years of caked sawdust… I had to literally break some of it off with a chisel to get it off!
The tilt screw and other adjustment mechanisms are caked with sawdust, but otherwise undamaged over the years, but I’m still going to have to take it completely apart to regrease them. I tried adjusting the saw before I took it apart, but the tilt screw and height screws are so caked with gunk as to make it too much work. I remember what this saw is supposed to function like from my childhood years so we’re taking this baby all the way apart to restore it back to as close to factory as I can.
The base and front panel have been separated for cleaning. The front panel can’t be replaced since Sears no longer carries that part so I’m going to have to do the best I can with restoring the one I’ve got. It’s incredibly thin sheet aluminum so it’s not really easy to work with without breaking it.
Those silver aluminum guides are called trunnions. The cradle glides inside the lip for left-to-right adjustment of the blade tilt. I took this picture just so I could remember which trunnion went on the front of the saw since they look almost identical, but one is for the front and one is for the back.
Once completely removed the cradle is ready to work on.
Amy took a picture about halfway through the process.
The finished cradle turned out beautifully. Cleaning it was easier than you’d imagine. First I sprayed it liberally with WD-40. That seemed to immediately loosen all the caked on grime and it almost all just washed off the iron frame. I took a medium grade wire wheel on my portable drill and just performed a quick scour of the remaining gunk. If you’re restoring your own I’ll share a quick tip with you. You’d think a wire-wheel spinning at 18,000 rpm’s would devestate cast iron, but it really doesn’t at all. Sand paper does more damage to metal than a wire-wheel, as long as you aren’t putting all your weight behind it. It made quick work of cleaning the cradle, totalling about 20 minutes from beginning to end.
This is the other side of the Cradle. Here you can see all the divots and recesses. I’d suggest WD-40 before you even try getting a grinder-wheel in those small spaces. This side was completely cleaned using only WD-40 and a kerosene-soaked rag. I didn’t even have to wipe it down afterwards. I just blew it dry with the air-compressor in a couple seconds.
My dad was famous for initialing everything in his shop. If you had your tools stolen off job sites enough times you would be too. Apparently there was another coat of paint put on the base in recent years because when I sanded through it I revealed this on the undercoat. It’s just a neat memory. I don’t recall ever seeing this on Papa’s saw so it might have been repainted when I was too young to remember. Regardless, there’s another coat of paint here to get through. I did all the sanding with 120 grit paper on a large pad-sander and was very happy with the results.
Sorry for the dirt on my camera lens. I shouldn’t have left it near all the WD-40 and kerosene when I was blowing the trash off the cradle earlier. Oops! Here you can see (through the dirt on my lens) the cleaned shiny steel, ready for a new coat of paint.
While waiting on the paint to dry on the base, I decided to take a look at the motor. Earlier in the day I rewired the motor and tested it. Now that I know it works, I figured I’d better see what kind of shape it’s in. As you can see here it’s pretty dirty, even after being cleaned out with the air compressor.
NOTE: If you’re reconditioning something like this for use in your shop as a hobby, be very careful with the motor you’re using. The Craftsman 113.29660 saw came from sears with a 3/4 horsepower sears motor rated for 110V. My dad replaced it sometime back (like many other’s did) with a stronger motor. If you’re cutting 4x4 pilings or hardwood all the time the original motor is too weak, so carpenters often replace the motor of some of their saws with stronger ones for larger jobs. Dad had a “big saw” (this one) and a smaller saw (my Makita). This is a 2HP WEG reversible, dual voltage, motor. Reversible means of course that it can be wired to spin in either direction. Dual voltage means it can run on 110V or 220V, depending on the need. My shop is only wired with 110V at the moment so I had to rewire the motor to work with my power requirements. On 110V this motor can draw up to 22 amps. (Considering I only have a dedicated 20-Amp breaker for it I guess I might be rewiring my house again in the coming months… sigh.)
It’s really important to be extremely careful with these big motors. My Makita saw will sometimes bog down on a 2x4 if it’s wet, so I’m not too scared of it accidentally grabbing a piece of wood and throwing it back at me. This saw however it another story. I remember as a kid that dad was running a piece of 2x4 through it. Either a nail or an extremely dense knot caught the blade. Since it’s 4 times as powerful as the other motor, rather than bogging down and stopping the motor, this motor grabbed the 2x4 and hurled it backwards so hard that the board went THROUGH the wall behind it. I don’t mean it hit it and knocked a hole in it. I mean it took a 20 pound piece of lumber and shot it like a cannon right through a wooden wall about 12 feet away. If I’d been behind the motor that day it would have shot it right through me like it was going through a stick of butter. If you don’t NEED a strong motor, don’t use one. And if you do, be cognizant of it at all times.
A closer look at the electromagnet inside the motor. Not too bad but needs cleaning. Do NOT clean something like this with a flammable solvent, or really ANY kind of solvent in my opinion. I’m not an electrician by any means but I can only imagine what would happen if you fired this thing up with solvent still inside the motor. I’d suggest a toothbrush and an air compressor or can of compressed air for cleaning it.
At this point I’ve repainted the base, the bottom of the table, and reassembled most of it back to working order.
Here she is reassembled. I cleaned the wheel assembly (the handle) carefully with a wire-wheel on low speed, repainted the base, and coated the underside of the table with engine enamel. (I figure that ought to keep it rust free for another 20 years or so. lol)
This is a front view once she’s been reassembled. Now I just need to wait for my new motor mount to come in from eBay and then I can get her working again.
If you want to see what a guy can REALLY do when he sets his mind to restoring one of these, check out this guy’s restoration. Click here.
I’m still a long way from that, but I’ll get the parts together somehow and get her completed one day. In the meantime she’s ready to work in Jordan’s Woodshop once again!