Archive for the ‘technology’ category

REVIEW: StarTech DS128

December 30, 2010

I receive a LOT of product review requests and I turn down the majority of them. I just don’t have time to evaluate stuff I either won’t use or couldn’t possibly recommend based on my own lack of interest. But, once in a very long while, a PR rep will be uber persistent and slip one by. That’s what happened with the StarTech DS128.

So, let this be a warning to other PR folks out there… When I tell you I’m more interested in something specific (iPhone related kit or such) please just move on to better bloggers out there who can and will give you a fair review – the kind you’re looking for.

REVIEW

The DisplayPort to DVI Dual Link (USB powered) converter connects Displayport to DVI, HDMI and VGA at some rather impressive upper end resolution (2560 x 1600). I’d never know though: with my older MacBookPro I couldn’t muster the components necessary to put the unit through the paces. Despite asking the PR rep if I should simply send the unit back… I kept getting a persistent “Do you plan to review?” line of questioning. As if I hadn’t asked if I could send it back. So… here’s the nut of the review. It’s neither good nor bad because I couldn’t adequately test it.

On the PLUS side… the StarTech.com catalog is friggin AWESOME. You thought RadioShack had all the goodies? Oh no, my friend, StarTech carries some pretty exotic stuff that I’d wholeheartedly suggest you geek out to when you have a chance. (At least I found something positive to offer, right?)

Stupid Email Trick to ID Those Who SELL Your Address

June 22, 2010

Sometimes someone shows you something so slick you don’t really appreciate it immediately for what it is. Such is the case here. So, bookmark this post… you’ll come back to it for a double take some day. Or Digg it or Delicious it… keep it close. It’s so stupid simple it’s almost elusive. I happened to be participating in a conversation today at AVC.com (GREAT blog btw, highly recommend Fred) and realized I hadn’t shared this little trick. Let alone blogged in while. So, consider me to have fallen back on the blogging wagon with this post.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop one day grumbling to an acquaintance about my email address getting a ton more spam than usual and suspecting it was due to signing up for one of a dozen or more services recently. He said, “You should have appended your email address.”

Huh?

“Yeah, all you have to do is put a PLUS symbol after your actual email ID (but before the AT symbol) when you register for stuff and you’ll know who’s doing what with your email. If an email comes from someone unexpected with THAT appendage it was obtained… somehow… probably without your knowledge or consent.”

Bullshit! It couldn’t be THAT easy. I need a service or something to do this… I think those were my exact words to him.

“Oh, yes it is that easy and you don’t pay a penny to do it. Helps me figure out who I can trust and who I can’t. Try it.”

Hell if he wasn’t right (mostly). I’ve registered with a TON of third party services since as Gerald+SERVICEID@mydomainname.something… and it’s worked like a champ on my domain, on gmail but not on Dot Mac (or Mobile Me or whatever the hell they’re calling it this year… iMe?) Anyway, point being I’ve been able to isolate some offenders. I’ve been able to prioritize some actions based on the TO: field (AT&T, Apple, special vendors I really don’t want to miss messages from, etc).

Test it yourself. Not all email servers will behave with the + symbol in the ID area. If you send yourself a message with +TEST after your ID but before the @ symbol and it delivers… you’re in tall cotton. If it bounces your email server doesn’t play nice. Not sure why some do and some don’t. That’s just the breaks I guess. But, once you figure it out there are all sorts of things you can do from there. Have fun & spread it around.

If someone’s intent on doing you wrong they’ll be able to GREP that +TRACKING@ element out and THEN sell your information downstream. But, not all sleaze bags are that smart. Trust me, it’ll be eye opening and you won’t have to have a bunch of email addresses to keep up with.

iPhone Dev: Button for iPhone (not Touches)

January 2, 2010

The App Store rejected my first attempt at submitting an app based on “Reachability” (which I’m still trying to resolve) and showing a call button (even to devices incapable of placing a call, such as iPod Touches). Turns out what I was looking for is somewhat easy… at least the part that checks if the device is capable of calls. See code below:

- (BOOL)deviceCanMakePhoneCalls
{
    BOOL canMakePhoneCalls;
    if ([UIApplication instancesRespondToSelector:@selector(canOpenURL:)]) {
        // OS 3.0, so use canOpenURL
        UIApplication *app = [UIApplication sharedApplication];
        canMakePhoneCalls = ([app canOpenURL:[NSURL URLWithString:@"tel:+44-1234-567890"]]);
    } else {
        // OS 2.x, so check for iPhone
        UIDevice *device = [UIDevice currentDevice];
        canMakePhoneCalls = ([device.model isEqualToString:@"iPhone"]);
    }
    return canMakePhoneCalls;
}

What this doesn’t do is show the button (or hide it). Now, if you know how to solve for any this more elegantly… please, do tell. AND… if you’d like to help me via ichat or Google Chat to walk through the Reachability issue… lemme know!

REVIEW: Pelican Micro Case i1015

January 1, 2010

I’ve bought a LOT of Pelican shipping containers in the past several years and they make a MEAN box.

So, when the email came in asking me to review the i1015 Micro Case (for iPhone) I have to admit, my expectations were pretty lofty.

The GOOD
The i1015 seals TIGHT. So, if you work in a dusty environment or maybe a little bit wet/misty… this case might just do the trick for you. The lid is transparent to boot. There’s a handy jack outside that couples with the phone on the inside. While I haven’t tried this (and don’t recommend it by any stretch) I suspect the i1015 will float if dropped in a lake.

The BAD
What seems to be missing to me is a charging/peripheral slot. For instance, I might be on a boat (or sitting on the front porch when the neighbors sprinkler turns on). My phone should be able to charge while safely stowed away. There really aren’t any security features… It took my oldest (8 years old) less than a minute to open the box. All the other Pelican cases I’ve owned were lockable… I like the idea of being able to store my iPhone in a shock absorbing case, still use it AND charge it. So, that’s where my expectations were maybe too high.

The UGLY
I suspect there’s no way around the bulk. It just seems unnecessarily big in my opinion (about as big as the 3GS box my phone came in when I bought it).

I’ll probably give this unit to my neighbor across the street. He bought the iPhone on opening day just like I did and is an avid fisherman (taking his boat out regularly). Wouldn’t it be great to know his iPhone didn’t go down to Davy Jones’ locker because of the i1015. THAT would be one swell success story… Maybe he’ll toss HIS phone into the drink just cuz. If he does I’ll let you know all about it. 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: “iPhone for Programmers”

January 1, 2010

As luck would have it I received a review copy of “iPhone for Programmers: An App-Driven Approach” just as I was getting up to speed on iPhone development.

What I like about this app… it steps us through the programming and considerations behind 14 very different apps. Lots of different frameworks covered and the walk through behind the steps involved is quite good. It helped me get my app ready for App Store submission… Can’t give anything a higher recommendation than that!

I have a fairly substantial library of iPhone dev books and this one’s ing the top three I crack open on a regular basis… What’s also nice is all the source code for the apps is conveniently parked online and reasonably commented.

Definitely recommend ++

Need a Rails dev PRONTO!

October 11, 2008

If you know of a hot shot Rails developer have them give me a shout. Need them on a project yesterday or sooner.

Gerald Buckley
(918) 813-9745 or geraldb28@me.com

Pre-Registration Opens at Grocio.com

September 10, 2008

For those of you who haven’t heard, I launched a little startup today called “Grocio” (pronounced Grow-See-Oh). Registration is free!

We’re a comparison shopping engine for groceries. Starting with your zip code and shopping list, we’ll identify the least expensive local grocer. At the same time we MATCH coupons to the EXACT items you’re shopping for. So two things are happening here:

  • You’re saving a TON of money at the checkout counter by picking the right grocer.
  • You’re adding to the savings with coupons you didn’t spend an hour trying to find in the newspaper.

We’re in a local business plan competition (kind of like TechCrunch50) and could use all the registrants possible. If you like the concept, drop in and give us a vote of confidence by registering please.

Proof My iPhone Multitasks!

July 17, 2008

Alexander Wolfe at Information Week has it mostly right when he says,

“the iPhone won’t run more than one app at a time, so when users switch applications, whatever is running in the background will get killed.”

Actually, my iPhone (AND your’s) multitasks all the time. Do this, launch iTunes on your iPhone. Play a song. Now press the home button and launch any other app you like: Calendar; Mail, anything. Is your music still playing? Now, go to your desktop computer and send your iPhone an email or SMS message. You may have interuppted your song for a second but the fact is your iPhone is polling for those messages while other stuff is going on. Ergo, multitasking IS happening. Multiple threads are running simultaneously. Or so it appears. Apple has the ability to allow biasing of apps. It’s evident in our phones right now. It’s subtle and is easy to miss. But, it is happening.

So, when Scott Forstall gets up on the keynote and says something like, “No multitasking because of…” yada, yada… it’s more of their Jedi Mind Trick stuff. “These aren’t the apps your looking for.”

Make an SMS Link for iPhones

July 15, 2008

First it was creating an ichat link. Now it’s creating an SMS link for iPhone users. This from the iPhone WebDev Mail list.

PISSED OFF about Inadequate US Energy Policy?

June 5, 2008

If you’re not going to read the message below… Here’s the take away… The US oil companies aren’t the price gouging bastards they’re made out to be. They’re making less than the government on each gallon of gasoline or diesel sold. Congress ought to look in the mirror and fess up… The Government is the one taking the bigger chunk of money out of your and my pockets. Didn’t we wage a massive, years long war against The Crown for some of this same crap? [EDIT: Maybe I’m just a dumb public school educated guy who doesn’t remember the rewrite of history correctly… hmm?]

So, are you good and mad? As well you should be. Are you ready to do something about it? While our congress does next to nothing to put an effective, blended US energy policy together they manage to pass things like the “National Do Not Call” legislation at flank speed. WTF!? That’s messed up!

Folks there’s no doubt… our elected leaders do some real good. But, too often they seem to come up lacking when we’re in a Fourth and Goal situation. Why can’t we, as a nation, convert this play? It’s beyond me. It’s beyond irresponsible. It’s reckless in this case. And, it’s maddening.

The US citizenry deserve a comprehensive Energy Policy. And, I’m not talking solely about oil and gas independence. There are renewables to develop. There are greener solutions to invent and bring to market. There are all kinds of thermal solutions to explore. Not to mention nuclear and H3 alternatives. But, I will focus on O&G exploration as that’s what I know a bit about. As a nation we are actively barring exploration in regions which would yield massive amounts of highly recoverable crude and gas. We know where it is. On the map there’s the equivalent of a big “drill here” marker. Yet, legislation and special interests keep those areas off limits, out of bounds and untouchable.

This is unacceptable from national security and fiduciarily responsible points of view.

I hope you’ll take a moment to read the message my friend Roger forwarded me. I’ve wondered for months what my 1,000th post would be. I’ve tried hard to provide an educational and entertaining blog over the years on a variety of things mostly geared to Apple stuff. I do love Apple. But, given all the things I’m most passionate about… There are few things I’m more “red-assed” about than what the US government has become and what appears to be self-serving tendencies particularly when they so brazenly posture to take profits out of US corporations (the same ones they readily accept campaign contributions from I might point out) and NEVER perform the more important and telling self-examination. If they did this they’d find the REAL inconvenient truth… they’re more culpable in the price gouging than the oil companies. It’s high time we educate ourselves on these matters and take our state and nations capitals to task.

May 21, 2008

Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee summoned top executives from the petroleum industry for what Chairman Pat Leahy thought would be a politically profitable inquisition. Leahy and his comrades showed up ready to blame American oil compani es for the high price of gasoline, but the event wasn’t as satisfactory as the Democrats had hoped.

The industry lineup was formidable:
. Robert Malone, Chairman and President of BP America, Inc.;
. John Hofmeister, President, Shell Oil Company;
. Peter Robertson, Vice Chairman of the Board, Chevron Corporation;
. John Lowe, Executive Vice President, Conoco Philips Company; and
. Stephen Simon, Senior Vice President, Exxon Mobil Corporation.

Not surprisingly, the petroleum executives stole the show, as they were far smarter, infinitely better informed, and much more public-spirited than the Senate Democrats.

One theme that emerged from the hearing was the surprisingly small role played by American oil companies in the global petroleum market.

John Lowe pointed out:
I cannot overemphasize the access issue. Access to resources is severely restricted in the United States and abroad, and the American oil industry must compete with national oil companies who are often much larger and have the support of their governments.

We can only compete directly for 7 percent of the world’s available reserves while about 75 percent is completely controlled by national oil companies and is not accessible.

Stephen Simon amplified:
Exxon Mobil is the larg est U.S. oil and gas company, but we account for only 2 percent of global energy production, only 3 percent of global oil production, only 6 percent of global refining capacity, and only 1 percent of global petroleum reserves. With respect to petroleum reserves, we rank 14th. Government-owned national oil companies dominate the top spots. For an American company to succeed in this competitive landscape and go head to head with huge government-backed national oil companies, it needs financial strength and scale to execute massive complex energy projects requiring enormous long-term investments.

To simply maintain our current operations and make needed capital investments, Exxon Mobil spends nearly $1 billion each day.

Because foreign companies and governments control the overwhelming majority of the world’s oil, most of the price you pay at the pump is the cost paid by the American oil company to acquire crude oil from someone else.

Last year, the average price in the United States of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was around $2.80. On average in 2007, approximately 58 percent of the price reflected the amount paid for crude oil. Consumers pay for that crude oil, and so do we.

Of the 2 million barrels per day Exxon Mobil refined in 2007 here in the United States, 90 percent were purchased from others.

Another theme of the day’s testimony was that, if anyone is “gouging” consumers through the high price of gasoline, it is federal and state governments, not American oil companies. On the average, 15% percent of the cost of gasoline at the pump goes for taxes, while only 4% represents oil company profits. These figures were repeated several times, but, strangely, not a single Democratic Senator proposed relieving consumers’ anxieties about gas prices by reducing taxes.

The last theme that was sounded repeatedly was Congress’s responsibility for the fact that American companies have access to so little petroleum.

Shell’s John Hofmeister explained, eloquently:
While all oil-importing nations buy oil at global prices, some, notably India and China, subsidize the cost of oil products to their nation’s consumers, feeding the demand for more oil despite record prices. They do this to speed economic growth and to ensure a competitive advantage relative to other nations.

Meanwhile, in the United States, access to our own oil and gas resources has been limited for the last 30 years, prohibiting companies such as Shell from exploring and developing resources for the benefit of the American people.

Senator Sessions, I agree, it is not a free market.

According to the Department of the Interior, 62 percent of all on-shore fed eral lands are off limits to oil and gas developments, with restrictions applying to 92 percent of all federal lands. We have an outer continental shelf moratorium on the Atlantic Ocean, an outer continental shelf moratorium on the Pacific Ocean, an outer continental shelf moratorium on the eastern Gulf of Mexico, congressional bans on on-shore oil and gas activities in specific areas of the Rockies and Alaska, and even a congressional ban on doing an analysis of the resource potential for oil and gas in the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The Argonne National Laboratory did a report in 2004 that identified 40 specific federal policy areas that halt, limit, delay or restrict natural gas projects. I urge you to review it. It is a long list. If I may, I offer it today if you would like to include it in the record.

When many of these policies were implemented, oil was selling in the single digits, not the triple digits we se e now. The cumulative effect of these policies has been to discourage U.S. investment and send U.S. companies outside the United States to produce new supplies.

As a result, U.S. production has declined so much that nearly 60 percent of daily consumption comes from foreign sources.
The problem of access can be solved in this country by the same government that has prohibited it. Congress could have chosen to lift some or all of the current restrictions on exploration and production of oil and gas. Congress could provide national policy to reverse the persistent decline of domestically secure natural resource development.

Later in the hearing, Senator Orrin Hatch walked Hofmeister through the Democrats’ latest efforts to block energy independence:

HATCH: I want to get into that. In other words, we’re talking about Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. It’s fair to say that they’re not considered part of America’s $22 billion of proven reserves.

HOFMEISTER: Not at all.

HATCH: No, but experts agree that there’s between 800 billion to almost 2 trillion barrels of oil that could be recoverable there, and that’s good oil, isn’t it?

HOFMEISTER: That’s correct.

HATCH: It could be recovered at somewhere between $30 and $40 a barrel?

HOFMEISTER: I think those costs are probably a bit dated now, based upon what we’ve seen in the inflation…

HATCH: Well, somewhere in that area.

HOFMEISTER: I don’t know what the exact cost would be, but, you know, if there is more supply, I think inflation in the oil industry would be cracked. And we are facing severe inflation because of the limited amount of supply against the demand.

HATCH: I guess what I’m saying, though, is that if we started to develop the oil shale in those three states we could do it within this framework of over $100 a barrel and make a profit.

HOFMEISTER: I believe we could.

HATCH: And we could help our country alleviate its oil pressures.

HOFMEISTER: Yes.

HATCH: But they’re stopping us from doing that right here, as we sit here. We just had a hearing last week where Democrats had stopped the ability to do that, in at least Colorado.

HOFMEISTER: Well, as I said in my opening statement, I think the public policy constraints on the supply side in this country are a disservice to the American consumer.

The committee’s Democrats attempted no response. They know that they are largely responsible for the current high price of gasoline, and they want the price to rise even further. Consequently, they have no intention of permitting the development of domestic oil and gas reserves that would both increase this country’s energy independence and give consumers a break from constantly increasing energy costs.

Every once in a while, Congressional hearings turn ou t to be informative.