Superbowl Ads – Poor Apple

February 7th, 2011

The Motorola Xoom, in all it’s sexiness, made it’s television debut during the 2011 Superbowl and was clearly a direct attack at Apple.  Most people won’t make the connection or are too young to remember Apple’s “Big Brother” commercial which aired during the Superbowl in 1984.  Seeing how I was born in 1984, I shouldn’t remember it either.  But the nerd inside of me, and my love for Apple certainly made the connection right away.  The ad in itself was absolutely brilliant, portraying Apple as the new “Big Brother” in it’s brainwashing ways.  This was a title which Apple had dubbed for IBM almost 30 years ago.  How do we know it’s an attack at Apple?  Well, the white ear buds of course.  Very subtle, but very obvious.  What I did not catch until a second viewing of the ad was the book the man in the commercial was reading in the very first shot of the Xoom.  It was none other than George Orwell’s class novel, 1984.  Genius!  Kinda makes me want a Xoom.  Oh wait… iPad 2?  Sorry Xoom, I pass.

Watch the Xoom ad here:

Author: Curtis Categories: Apple Tags:

Superbowl Ads – Poor AT&T

February 7th, 2011

So the superbowl has once again come and gone, and I think we can agree that it wasn’t the best year for the ads that come with it.  But I’ll admit there were some that were quite enjoyable.  I can’t help but feel bad for At&t and Apple who were the implied target of some pretty bashing advertising from the competition: namely Verizon with the “Yes, I can here you now,” iPhone commercial and the Motorola Xoom attack at “Big Brother”.  (More on that in a bit).  What’s worse is this… Imagine you are At&t.  You spend millions of dollars on a superbowl ad to finally combat the Verizon iPhone.  You make a commercial highlighting the iPhone’s ability to surf the web and talk at the same time whilst on At&t’s network (something the Verizon iPhone cannot do) .   Then you wake up Monday morning and check foxsports.com/ads (the official superbowl ads site) and you find this:

That’s right, your commercial highlighting specifically what the iPhone can’t do on Verizon, is credited as a Verizon commercial.  Oh the irony.  If I were At&t, I’d be requesting some money back… or maybe a coupon for next year.

Author: Curtis Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Just 10 minutes after the Apple Keynote

June 7th, 2010

Apple does everything so well, don’t they?  Not only do they produce a hype-building keynote delivered by the man himself.  But moments after Steve walks off the stage, the iPhone 4 video was available on apple.com.

apple

Visit At&t’s site on the other hand, and you were greeted with this:

att

No where have we seen this kind of performance out of at&t?  :)

Author: Curtis Categories: Apple Tags: , ,

Microsoft Kin

May 14th, 2010

Is it just me or does anyone else think the Microsoft Kin looks like it has the worst phone UI ever created? The “loop”… the “spot”… what the heck? I just watched a hands-on video. I think it’s supposed to be easy to use, but it looks so, so complicated. I don’t have Verizon, but even if I did, I can safely say I’d never consider the Kin.  I’m not sure I’d even consider the “next of Kin”.  (I couldn’t resist.)  Anyone else have an opinion?

For reference: Here is the video I’m referring to:
Microsoft Kin Hands-on

Author: Curtis Categories: Uncategorized, Webmin Tags: , ,

Dreamweaver CS5 Supports Content Management Systems!

May 5th, 2010

For those of you ahead of the curve, I realize this post is a couple weeks late.  However, I just got my first chance to play with CS5 today.  I must say, the hype had me excited.  I’ve been using Adobe products since version 6.  And I’ve been using Macromedia products since… well… since Macromedia existed.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again.  Dreamweaver is my favorite program.  Ever!  Now with full CMS support in CS5.. it’s my favorite, favorite program!

Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress are supported out of the box… as far as code hints go that is.  But, with the new live view and site-specific code hints, Dreamweaver can pretty much let you edit any type of dynamic content.  It will even provide code hints for your own custom functions.

There’s not a lot of content out there yet explaining how these new features work.  However, I found a youtube video that does a pretty good job of highlighting these features and how to use them.  It’s an example using WordPress, but the concepts will work for any dynamic pages you throw at it.  You can watch the video here.

Astaro Security Gateway to pfSense Firewall – Site to Site VPN

March 16th, 2010

I’ve been working on getting this to work for about two days now.  Getting the IPsec VPN to connect was no problem.   That part took only about 10 minutes of trial and error.  Getting packets to route through the thing, on the other hand, that’s another story.  All the details of the connection are available on the astaro forum below.  If anyone has any insight, please visit it and leave your comments there.   I’ll be sure to post the solution here once I figure it out.

http://www.astaro.org/astaro-gateway-products/vpn-site-site-remote-access/30761-site-site-routing-issue.html#post138076

Author: Curtis Categories: Networking Tags: , , ,

Where is iPhone OS 4.0?

January 31st, 2010

I know, I know, no one wants to hear more news about Apple since the announcement last Wednesday.  In fact, Engadget just launched an “Apple free” version of their site.  I’m not anti-Apple by any means, and if you’re looking for even another take on the the iPad slash events of last week, keep reading.

iphoto

Well, January 27th has come and gone and those Apple fanatics waiting for the much rumored announcement of iPhone OS 4, including myself, were left with a feeling that can only be compared to our childhoods when daddy didn’t come home from work in time for our baseball game.  Our emotions, of course, were subdued by the other muchly rumored iTablet, which Steve informed us is actually pronounced “I-Pad”…. Our bad, Steve, but you can’t blame us.  Nexus One has shown us what it can do and well, we know it’s not ALL hardware.  We want answers, and by answers, I mean, how is OS 4 going to step up to the… dare I say it… superiority of the Nexus’ operating system.  It’s time for application folders, multitasking, and home screen customization on our I phones, pads, and pods.  We know such functionality IS possible through jailbreaking, but it’s time it came standard.  Okay, I’ll admit, the iPad was cooler than I thought it was going to be.  But we all know that it’s not ready to ship running OS 3.  Apple, your move.

Author: Curtis Categories: Apple Tags: , , ,

2009 Suzuki Boulevard M50 Limited Review

May 25th, 2009

This review is primarily the result of my attempts to find a good, professional review for the 2009 Suzuki M50.  Unfortunately, this review doesn’t add to them as I am in no way a professional motorcyclist or columnist for that matter.  However, having just purchased the M50, I hope to provide more insight than can be attained from your own couple mile test drive.  So if you are considering the purchase of a 2009 M50, read on.

boulevard

Background

I looked at several bikes prior to making my decision to pursue the M50. At first I was set on a Honda Spirit 750. I learned how to ride on a Rebel 250, and I have riden Honda four wheelers since I was but a wee chap. So, I guess you could say I had a bit of brand loyalty towards Honda.  In fact, I walked into the Suzuki dealer hoping to find a nice used Honda for my next bike.  Now I wish I could say that the M50 was love at first sight.  But at first glance, I was not so much unimpressed as I was just not interested.  It had big chrome pipes that stuck too far back and out to the side.  It looked too big for me (remember I was trading a Rebel 250).  The Honda Spirits, on the other hand, seem to be a bit smaller when you sit on them (which is good for my small frame).  I spent a few minutes looking at the ‘S’ series of the Boulevard family.  Unimpressed there, I decided to sit on the M50.  I decided I could see myself on one and took it for a test drive.  From then on, it was like my brand loyalty bounced from Honda to Suzuki.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love Honda’s, but this bike was fantasgreat!

The 2009 Models

The 2009 Boulevard M50 comes in two editions.  A standard edition in all black, and a Limited edition in a two tone: either Black and White, or Black and Orange.  Aside from paint, the only other difference you will find is the Limited has clear turn signal lenses, which I will admit, do look better.  However, 300 dollars better?  Meh.. not so much.  I called several dealers, and finally tracked myself down an Orange one.  That actually brings up a good point.  If you are trying to find an M50, they are coming up short this year.  Apparently Suzuki cut production significantly this year due to the economy.  Many dealers have already sold out of their M50s and won’t be getting anymore for the season.  However, if you look hard enough, you should be able to find one.

The Ride

The first thing I noticed when riding this motorcycle is its width.  It’s not uncomfortable by any means (except maybe for long rides, but I’ll get to that in a minute), it just has a certain girth to the engine with the air filter sticking out to the side  This makes  it difficult to see the foot pegs.  This was only a problem at first as I was used to foot pegs that were directly below me.  The M50s are pushed a little bit forward.  It took almost no time to get used to the setup, and I’ve found myself very much preferring the forward pegs.  It also allows larger riders to ride more naturally, while still keeping the seat (and consequently the center of balance) low.  The bike is a little on the heavy side at just shy of 600 pounds, but maneuverability is by no means lost.  Even low speed turns are simple with the low center of balance, and remember, I started on 325 pound Rebel!

Now the owner’s manual warns the rider to take it easy during the break in period or the first 1000 miles.  For the first 500 miles, no more than 1/2 throttle is recommended.  For the first 1000 miles, no more than 3/4 throttle should be used.  As difficult as this has been so far, I’ve done pretty well with following the directions.  However, even with keeping in line with the warnings, I can still say that the bike has power.  The M50 has more than enough power to cruise at highway speeds.  It also has enough power to pass and climb hills without downshifting.   I haven’t carried a passenger yet, so I can only guess that the extra weight would be no problem for the M50 either.

The Pros

(See section: The Ride)

It’s customizable.  One of the nicest things about the M50 is the extra components available for it.  There are tons of extras available from both Suzuki and third parties such as Cobra and K & N.  Additionally, not much has changed over the past couple of years, so most of the components from the 2006s will still fit the 2009s.

The gas mileage is better than average.  Rated at 49 miles to the gallon, the M50 is one of better bikes for miles per gallon.  This is more than likely because the bike is fuel injected.  In addition to that, I’m a fairly small rider, so I have actually been getting better than the 49 mpg rating.

It’s liquid cooled.  Everyone knows liquid cooled is better.  Don’t ask questions.

It’s gorgeous.  Apart from the tail that curves up in the back and just doesn’t look like it belongs with the rest of the bike, everything else on the M50 is B-E-A-UTIFUL.  I especially like the orange one, but what can I say, I have a thing for orange.

The price is reasonable.  I have to admit, when I first sat on the bike not knowing it’s price, I thought to myself, “there’s no way I’d ever be able to afford this.”  I was expecting 10 or 11 grand.  When it found out it was only $7995 for the Limited, I was shocked.  Additionally, if you are lucky enough to find the right dealer, you can probably shave a few hundred off of that yet too.

The Cons

The motorcycle isn’t perfect.  I’ve read other user reviews claiming that the seat makes one’s butt numb after not too long of a ride.  I don’t have that problem so much, though I could see why other people might.  The problem I have is with my back starting to hurt after about 20 miles.  I blame this on the fact that I am hunched forward just a bit too much.  However, this could be cause I am fairly small, and other people may not experience this.  As far as the comfort issues goes, gel seats are an available addon for the bike, though I’ve heard many people say it should be included with the base price.

The rear brakes are another common complaint about the motorcycle.  For everything the bike has, one would expect to press on the rear brake and feel the smooth grip of the rear disc.  However, when you look at the rear wheel, you will see something missing: the disc.  Yes, that’s right the M50 is equipped with a rear drum brake which doesn’t give the bike the stopping power you would want or expect.  It’s not a huge deal, but be prepared to press on the rear brakes a little bit harder to get the stopping power you want.

There is no reserve tank.  This isn’t a huge issue either as the bike is equip with an accurate electronic fuel gauge.  But when it runs out, it’s really out.

Summary

If you are considering a new motorcycle or even your first motorcycle, I would highly recommend the Suzuki Boulevard M50.  It’s easy to look at, not terribly priced, and a blast to ride.  I have no regrets with my purchase, and I know you won’t either.  If anyone has any specific questions they would like to ask about the bike, please feel free to comment on this article, I’ll be sure to get back to you.  Cheers!


Author: Curtis Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , ,

How to add MySQL servers to phpMyAdmin

May 10th, 2009

Question: How do I add a server to phpMyAdmin?

Answer: Browse to your root phpMyAdmin installation.  Locate and open the config.inc.php file in a text editor.  You will see your default server listed.  (You will see the following block of code as of version 3.1.4. :

*/
$i++;
/* Authentication type */
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['auth_type'] = ‘cookie’;
/* Server parameters */
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['host'] = ‘localhost’;
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['connect_type'] = ‘tcp’;
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['compress'] = false;
/* Select mysqli if your server has it */
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['extension'] = ‘mysql’;

/* rajk – for blobstreaming */
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['bs_garbage_threshold'] = 50;
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['bs_repository_threshold'] = ’32M’;
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['bs_temp_blob_timeout'] = 600;
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['bs_temp_log_threshold'] = ’32M’;

/* User for advanced features */
// $cfg['Servers'][$i]['controluser'] = ‘pma’;
// $cfg['Servers'][$i]['controlpass'] = ‘pmapass’;
/* Advanced phpMyAdmin features */
// $cfg['Servers'][$i]['pmadb'] = ‘phpmyadmin’;
// $cfg['Servers'][$i]['bookmarktable'] = ‘pma_bookmark’;
// $cfg['Servers'][$i]['relation'] = ‘pma_relation’;
// $cfg['Servers'][$i]['table_info'] = ‘pma_table_info’;
// $cfg['Servers'][$i]['table_coords'] = ‘pma_table_coords’;
// $cfg['Servers'][$i]['pdf_pages'] = ‘pma_pdf_pages’;
// $cfg['Servers'][$i]['column_info'] = ‘pma_column_info’;
// $cfg['Servers'][$i]['history'] = ‘pma_history’;
// $cfg['Servers'][$i]['designer_coords'] = ‘pma_designer_coords’;
/* Contrib / Swekey authentication */
// $cfg['Servers'][$i]['auth_swekey_config'] = ‘/etc/swekey-pma.conf’;

For each additional server that you wish to add, just copy this block of code and simply change the host line to the address of your mysql server.

Example: $cfg['Servers'][$i]['host'] = ‘192.168.1.110‘;

Most of the above block is commented out, so you really only need to copy the active lines.  But as you can see, there are additional options.  For example, you can add the user name and password so you don’t have to enter them every time. (NOTE: if you are using a public server, entering login info for your mysql server is not a good idea.)

Important:  When you copy the code to add extra servers, make sure you include the following line at the top of each server:

$i++;

This increases the servers array by 1 each time it loads a new server.  Otherwise only the last server in your configuration will show up.

Finally, the above code is for phpMyAdmin version 3.1.4.  You should make sure you copy the code from your configuration as it may change in subsequent versions of the software.    That’s it.  You should see the new servers in a drop down list when you reconnect to phpMyAdmin.  Enjoy!

Author: Curtis Categories: PHP/MYSQL, Web Tags: , , ,

AtMail, Axigen, and MagicMail Review (Phase 1)

May 6th, 2009

First you should know I’m a network administrator for a decently sized ISP.  I said decent… not Comcast, not Verizon.   On a good day we bring in 3 to 4 million email messages spread over about 11,000 email accounts.  Now I realize that some of you out there probably do that in one day with a single company but that’s not important.  What you really need to know is that our email is handled by about 9 mail servers which pass mail from server to server, I don’t know how many times until it reaches it’s final destination on a single mail NAS where it will be picked up by one of three webmail servers.  The system was designed for high availability, and has proved to be resilient to failure when just the other day the smtp-in cluster tanked.  That’s right three separate machines crashed at the same time backing up our ham queue to over 125,000 messages.  The fix?  We simply pulled them out of the loop.  Mail was flowing again; users don’t know the difference.  The problem with our setup?  We don’t really know how it works.  Think about it, 9 Qmail servers linked with a custom billing system, 2 barracudas for filtering, and 2 LDAP servers for authentication.  Someone before me created what we have come to call “Cluster F” (Yes, it’s intentional).

Enter “Cluster G”.  G is the replacement for F, rightfully so.  We are currently approaching the end of phase 1, that is, deciding which email solution will replace our current mess.  We have looked at a three linux based solutions, but only one stands out so far.

AtMail

This was the first of the emails solutions that we considered, and to be honest, we were quite impressed.  The interface was easy, the webmail was pretty, the setup…. couldn’t have been simpler.  Additionally, it ran on top of MySQL, a feature we very much liked.  Even the price was reasonable.  We almost didn’t even consider other options… until we tried to get a hold of them.  It took two contact requests from their website and three voice-mails to tech support and to sales until I finally got an email requesting to setup a conference call.  I called them five times and not once did I call and get a person.  I was routed to voicemail everytime.  When it came time for the conference call, the call got disconnected shortly into it, and I never got a call back.  Needless to say, we did not pursue atmail any further.

Axigen

This was the second solution that we considered.  Pricing was higher right off the bat.  In fact it was almost twice what AtMail was, but not all that unreasonable.  Axigen clearly offered a solid email package for ISPs.  It’s strong points included clustering, and multi domain licensing.  Their webmail interface was clean and simple, yet not cheap and tacky.  The administration panel was clean, simple, and ajaxy.  Again… the only real complaint here was customer service.  While I did call and American sales number, and I got support right away, the representative that I spoke sounded like he was on a cell phone and admitted that he wasn’t in the U.S. When requesting a follow up, he said he didn’t have a pen to take down my contact information and he requested that I go to the website and submit a request there.  Axigen fail.

MagicMail

This is the most recent solution we considered and by far the most impressive.  If you are looking for an email solution of any capacity, consider MagicMail first.  In fact, call them and set up a conference call/        demonstration.  A technical rep will give you an overview of the important aspects of the software, and I have to say that it was an impressive presentation.  Let me back track a bit…

Going into our search, we knew that most MTA’s now included some sort of spam filtering… what we weren’t going to do was give up our Barracuda Spam Firewalls as they have proved to be a significant investment to our company.  No matter what mail solution we chose, the Barracuda’s were staying.  I say all that to say this… after seeing the MagicMail demonstration, we are now looking to get rid of our beloved Barracudas.

What we liked about the software was that it was it’s own distro.  They use their own brew of linux and whatever you want to do to it is fine with them.  The whole box is supported.  Additionally, the spam filtering and blacklisting was second to none.  Finally, the webmail was Squirrel Mail.  Eeeek! Right?  Wrong.  It’s been polished and is beautiful.  We’ve always known Squirrel Mail was stable and good, we just never liked the look.  Detail was clearly an object when it came to the design of the front end , right down to the marketing of your email system to your own clients.

We haven’t purchased the software yet, nor have tested it.  But if you are in my boat, looking for a new email solution for an organization of any size, skip AtMail and Axigen and just start with MagicMail.  As we moved forward in the process, I will continue to review the process for your enlightenment.

Author: Curtis Categories: Email, Linux Tags: , , , , ,