just one more geek in a sea of austin techies

December 7, 2015

It's the BIG little things #AdminGeek

Common event:
While using an online application I encountered an error due to a programming bug.

No-quite-so-common event:
The online application belongs to a major national retailer and a system mis-configuration exposes a simple administrative oversight resulting in a serious hacking attack vulnerability...

November 16, 2015

Irony: Requiring Flash for Security #SecurityGeek

Use this bit of irony to peg who is still relatively new to the IT scene ("Are you kidding me?") or who has maybe been around a bit too long ("Yep - sounds about right...")

The subject?  Adobe Flash...

November 10, 2015

Google Maps without Street Names #GoogleGeek

Use Google Maps' API to get
maps without street names.
Recently I needed a map without street names. Google Maps is my typical go-to mapping solution for work projects and at home.  A quick check of the current Google Maps web interface revealed no options for hiding street names.

The Google Maps API options contained exactly what I needed and I will now share that simple solution with you...

October 27, 2015

Nexus 5X Teardown Notes #AndroidGeek

The new Nexus 5X began shipping earlier this month! My new Nexus arrived a few days ago so it's time to make some teardown notes.

If you already have or are thinking of buying this device then you'll likely be interested in my answers to a few questions like:
  • Can I replace the (fixed) battery myself?
  • What battery does the phone use and how much does it cost?
  • Can I add wireless charging capability?
  • Where is the IMEI located? (the physical tag)
  • Can I add an internal metal plate for magnetic car mounts?
For those who still buy phone accessories at retailers such as Best Buy or even Amazon, I'll throw in a few money-saving tips:
  • Get a full-size Nexus 5X screen protector for under $1 shipped
  • Pick up a decent hybrid or hard-shell case for under $4 shipped
  • USB-C cable solution on the cheap
Read on...

September 4, 2015

Nest: 3rd Generation #GadgetGeek

Nest is at it again with another update -- this time to the hardware itself.  I bought in on this device when the then-slimmer Nest v2.0 was released and, despite its relatively high cost, I've been a very pleased customer ever since.

But what about this latest hardware update?  Is it enough to finally get *you* to buy a so-called "smart thermostat"?  As much as I love my Nest, if you weren't compelled to buy a Nest before, then I would say..... not...

May 20, 2015

Dell Inspiron 3050 Micro Teardown #HTPCGeek

This post has hundreds of comments on upgrades, Linux installation, Windows 10 and more. Thanks to all who have contributed their knowledge and experiences!  Be sure to click the "Load More" link at the very bottom of the comments to see the latest comments as only 100 comments are loaded at a time.
Looking for the 3050 SATA cable?  Click here for my post with photos and part number for that cable.

This week Dell responded to HP's recent release of the HP Mini Stream with a palm-sized Windows 8.1 PC of its own: the Dell Inspiron 3050 Micro Desktop.  Like the HP Mini Stream, the 3050 is a tiny desktop system under $200 providing a great step up for those getting their streaming media via a Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire USB stick or the like.

Although all the usual media outlets dutifully reported on the 3050 Micro's release, none that I've found have included any breakdown information on this new system or how it might be upgraded.

In this post I'll answer a number of common questions such as "Can I add more RAM?" and "Is the 3050 fanless?" and "Does the Inspiron 3050 Micro support VESA mounting?" and "Is there room for a secondary drive like in the HP Mini systems?"

Read on for the answers and even a few breakdown photos...

March 9, 2015

$35 generic or $350 Apple Watch? #GadgetGeek

UPDATE 11/1/2015: The generic U8 watch outlined in this post is now available for under $15 from some online sources. Quite a bargain!

Today Apple unveiled prices for its initial smartwatch offerings.  With the most basic model starting at $350, a common question will be, "Is it worth it for me?"  You may have interest but can't stomach the idea of spending $350 to possibly discover that you don't like using a smartwatch no matter how good it may be.

If you'd prefer to test the smartwatch waters without making a big initial investment, consider this: a touchscreen smartwatch that lets you make and receive calls, check text messages, boasts a battery life more than three times longer (estimated) than the Apple Watch but sells for only 1/10th the price.

I've recently been evaluating just such a device -- read about it below -- and the positive experience has heightened my interest in the more advanced (read: costly) smartwatch options from the likes of Samsung and Apple...

February 8, 2015

Set SSRS export options for individual reports #ReportGeek

File type export options in
Microsoft SSRS
If you work with Microsoft's SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) then you've probably run across a certain irritating limitation:  no ability to define the export file type options for individual reports.

Although the Reporting Services product is now over a decade old, Microsoft has failed to add some of the more obvious features any small startup would likely jump to support.  One of those features is granular control over export options.  You would expect that the file types provided in a report's export options could be defined specifically for that report.  Barring that, you might expect that the export options could be defined at the report folder level such as is done for security rights.

Alas, no, Microsoft has to be difficult by providing only a system-wide setting for report file type export options.  That means that, if you rely on the default Microsoft ReportViewer control, every report in the entire SSRS server is bound by the same export configuration.

Take Control
I'm going to show you how to easily control the mix of export options in the ReportViewer control using a handy bit of CSS (only one line of code!)  From there I'll point you towards a solution for controlling export options on individual reports.