just one more geek in a sea of austin techies

October 26, 2014

Know Your City #AustinGeek

This past weekend Saturday Night Live featured a series of parodies based on the recent Matthew McConaughey Lincoln MKZ ads.  The SNL spots were only the latest in a variety of paradies from the likes of Conan O'Brien, Ellen DeGeneres and others.  Unexpectedly, the first SNL spot hit very close to home...

October 15, 2014

Google Fiber in Austin #NetworkGeek

Following up on my "What are my chances?" Google Fiber post from April, 2013, we now have a map and a date for the Austin launch.  As expected, the initial rollout has taken longer than indicated with the initial round of signups now slated to begin in December, 2014.  Also as expected, initial coverage will be in an area boasting a higher-than-average population density with a likely demand for fiber service... plus it happens to be conviently close to Austin's main corridor of internet connection and hosting facilities. Unexpectedly, though, the initial covered area does *not* include the various downtown apartments, condos and businesses immediately north of Ladybird Lake...

August 21, 2014

Simple bypass for simple "adwalls" #WebGeek

A typical content-hiding "adwall" prompting
users to register before accessing content.
It's quite common these days to arrive at a web page only to be greeted by a content-hiding layer with ads or messages prompting you to perform some action before you can access the web page.  

I employ a handy trick that bypasses many of these popover "adwalls" using nothing but my web browser and a few well-informed mouse clicks...

July 19, 2014

Update: Nest Protect Improved Value #GadgetGeek

Nest Protect is now only
$99 for 7 Years of Use

Last December I questioned the overall value of the $129 Nest Protect.  I wasn't questioning the device's utility or features (it's quite cool) but rather the price versus the fact that it is programmed to stop working after 7 years.  In that posting I chided Nest for not being more forthcoming about the purposefully-limited lifespan in the product's marketing materials and retail packaging.

Some notable events have happened since that post. The upshot of those events is that the Protect's standard price has dropped from $129 to $99.  Considering the average home would require multiple units for adequate coverage (as with any smoke alarm), the device is a decidedly better deal today than when first released.

TIP: Get Nest Protect for less than $99
If you are in the market for the Nest thermostat or one of the two Nest Protect models then your least expensive option is to watch for a general discount coupon from your local home center store such as Lowes or Home Depot.  Lowes routinely offers general discounts of 10% or more -- I saved $25 when buying my Nest thermostat.  Check the Lowes page on RetailMeNot for current coupon codes you may be able to use when purchasing online (select the "in-store pickup" option to avoid shipping costs).

June 26, 2014

Windows Clipboard: Remove Trailing Space #WindowsGeek

It seems I can barely go more than a week or two without encountering a certain windows-related copy-and-paste issue.  The issue? Unwanted trailing spaces.  The culprit?  Windows' rendering for text highlighting.

Figure 1 -- It's hard to tell if your highlighted text
includes an unwanted training space.
When highlighting text to copy, Windows will sometimes include a trailing blank space character as part of your selection if one happens to follow the last word selected.  When this does happen it is often impossible to spot (see Figure 1).

This issue is especially nefarious when it comes to troubleshooting:  a typical visual check won't catch text that includes a trailing space versus the expected value (no trailing space).

What to do?  Windows' clipboard is simply performing the one simple task it was created to do.  We can't make the Windows clipboard smarter but we can substitute in a smarter option...

June 8, 2014

TIP: Clear DNN Cache #DotNetNukeGeek

Have you found yourself needing to programatically clear DotNetNuke (DNN) cache but were dismayed to discover newer DNN versions no longer rely on an easily-cleared cookie?

Here's a simple option to force the cache to clear...

April 12, 2014

What a penny buys #StorageGeek

My most recent tech panel (CTRL-ALT-TECH on the first day of SXSWi ) was on the topic "All Things Storage".  As part of that panel I brought along a little slice of storage history: an Apple ProFile from one of my two Apple III systems -- the computer that launched me into programming all those years ago.

Near the end of the live interactive session I brought out the ProFile and declared it a "box of storage firsts"...

April 5, 2014

TIP: VirtualBox Unresponsive Windows #VirtualGeek

After many years of using VirtualBox as my preferred virtual desktop hosting software for development VMs I ran into a new-for-me issue:  Internet Explorer's page display would become exceedingly slow to respond to changes within a few seconds of loading.  Refreshing the page did not help.  Opening a new tab repeated the process:  slow page response a few seconds after the completion of page load.

A bit of virtual poking and prodding eventually revealed a solution, though not an explanation...

March 20, 2014

TIP: Beware nefarious spaces #DotNetNukeGeek

I'm never ceased to be amazed at "holes" in software that's been around for ages -- that is, simple bugs that have had plenty of time to be detected and quashed but somehow aren't.  This week I ran into an oversight in the venerable DotNetNuke (aka "DNN") web platform which is a nicely-featured framework for quickly building .NET-based websites.

DNN has been around for over a decade yet the bug that tried to bite me is a simple oversight in how account usernames are handled...

March 3, 2014

Speaking during SXSWi 2014! #PublicSpeakingGeek

South-by-Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) kicks off here in Austin on March 7 and I'll be speaking that day as part of a live web broadcast!  Well, to be accurate, the broacast *is* tech related and is happening *in* Austin and is sponsored by a tech company with worldwide presence on the *same day* that SXSWi begins so technically that's a SXSWi-related event...right?  Or at least an "unsanctioned" SXSWi event?  Maybe just a little...?

Part of the live broadcast will feature my own sweet 1981 Apple Profile hard drive.  Not only was the Profile Apple's very first hard drive product but, inside, it included Seagate's very first hard drive product which also happened to be the world's very first 5.25-inch format hard drive -- the drive that set the sizing standard for PC hard drives these past 35 years.

Check back for my follow-up post where I'll share details and a photo or two from the webcast's Profile-related segment.

January 13, 2014

Google + Nest: My wish list come true? #GadgetGeek

Google Nest:
Chrome encased in chrome?
It seems hardly possible that Google could extend its reach into people's personal space even more than it already has.  Every web search, every email and nearly every step (via Android device location tracking) is already in Google's grasp.   Yet, impossibly, Google has managed to extend that reach by buying the right to know when people are home and, in some cases, even where people are in the home regardless of whether one happens to carry an Android device.

The purchase of Nest means Google has added in-home motion sensors (and light sensors and smoke sensors and CO2 sensors) to its growing belt of people-monitoring tools.  Privacy advocates are -- and rightly should be -- concerned over such a wide-ranging and intimate ability to snoop and monitor.  At the same time, however, such an integration of tools makes for some geekily exciting possibilities.  Oh, to heck with privacy -- let's talk about my "Nest Wish List"...