Microsoft’s not dead, just selling Kinects

Last week, John Dvorak had a column entitled Microsoft is dead money for investors
Commentary: Software giant is too conservative and late to the game

Dvorak’s opinion is based on comments that Microsoft won’t have a tablet product out until next year…

The company looks like it has an ingrained fear of failure, resulting in an incredibly cautious approach to everything. You’d think this would result in a mistake-free corporate environment, but the opposite seems true.

Generally speaking, the high-tech sector is a lot like football. Playing not to lose results in a preoccupation with losing, and eventually losing.

Microsoft is in perpetual defense: When it has the ball, the company does not want to take any risks, so runs up the middle for no yardage.

Apparently Dvorak is just looking at the wrong products. To extend his football analogy, Microsoft just ran a gadget play for a score. The Microsoft Kinects just set a Guiness World Record for the fastest selling consumer electronic device of ALL TIME.

The news comes from Xbox LIVE’s Major Nelson who made the announcement via Twitter by saying, “News: 10 Million Kinect Sensors and more than 10 Million Kinect Games Sold to Date.”

This makes the Kinect the fastest selling consumer electronics device according to Guiness.

So while everyone else is fiddling with smartphones and pads, which I’m sure have zip for margins because of the competition, Microsoft has made the hottest gaming console add on ever. Not sure that makes them dead money

Looks like tablets are a bubble and might not be the best product to be producing right now…

Why I hate Joomla!

Attempted to update a Joomla! install on a client’s site this morning. The install apparently failed, immediately ing:

Fatal error: Cannot make non static method JApplication::getRouter() static in class JSite in /home/frppro5/public_html/includes/application.php on line 616

Nothing on the Joomla! forums or any answers as near as I can tell. Wish they wouldn’t put in an automatic update feature if it’s not going to at least fail more gracefully than this did. Guess I’m just spoiled with WordPress…

Removing Timestamp from Photos

Timestamps on photos are great when you want to know when a picture was taken, but when adding the image to your website the numbers don’t look so great. All too often clients send me pictures that have an orange or yellow timestamp in the bottom left corner.

Fortunately, there is a great plugin for gimp that helps remove the timestamp from photos. Just download and install this plugin and you will be able to remove the timestamp from individual photos, or use the batch mode to clean up a whole directory of images. It works great and has saved me a ton of time.

Extend your desktop and share your mouse with Synergy

How many of you work on multiple machines? Personally, I have a desktop and two laptops. The downside of multiple machines is the need for multiple mouses (mice?) and keyboards. In fact it’s not so much the space that’s required for the input devices as it is the constant need to switch between them. I have known software developers that find even having to reach for a mouse has a negative impact on their productivity, how much worse is it to have to reach for two different mice?

So, I was explaining this to a friend and he suggested I google it (what a novel idea). So I did, and I found an excellent solution to my problem. The Synergy Project is open source software that allows you to move your mouse between screens and use your keyboard to input to multiple machines.

I downloaded and set it up on my two Windows 7 laptops, and I’m glad to report that after a few small network and firewall issues, mostly stemming from my wireless router’s AP setting, it seems to work extremely well. The setup, configuration and troubleshooting/error reporting is not as slick and as I’ve come to expect from the current crop of commercial apps, but it wasn’t bad either and I’m certainly not complaining.

If you want to extend your Windows, Mac and Linux desktops across multiple machines I would recommend giving Synergy a try.

Enable Telnet in Windows 7

From time to time I still like to use telnet. It can be nice for troubleshooting and if you want to see if an service is running on a specific port. So, recently, I was annoyed to find out that Windows 7 (and Windows Vista) doesn’t include telnet by default.

So, here’s how to enable it.

1. Start
2. Control Panel
3. Programs And Features
4. Turn Windows features on or off
5. Check Telnet Client
6. Hit OK

I hate digital cameras!!!

You ever have one of those days? One where everything seems to be going wrong and nothing is going right? I had one of those today and on top of it all I think I have ANOTHER broken digital camera.

The first digital camera I had was a Kodak Easy Share. An old one, like 1.5MP. That thing was indestructable. It went everywhere, on the four wheeler, in the truck, everywhere. Then one day I decided to upgrade. Bought a newer Kodak, 2.5MP or so. Worked great until I tried to stick it under the seat on my ATV. The screen cracked. I used it for a while longer, but it was a pain.

So a couple years ago for Christmas I received a Canon Coolpix. Nice camera, shutter lag wasn’t bad, nice pictures. That was great until we went snow bashing earlier this year and I neglected to put it in it’s case. It fell from the seat to the floor of the truck and cracked another LCD screen. Tried to order a replacement off ebay and fix it, but after that it didn’t work at all.

Fortunately my Brother In Law bought my sister a new camera for Christmas and she didn’t need her old one. It’s a Kodak C763, and never was a very good camera. Pictures are good, but it is horribly slow and has the worst control panel on the back. There is this dial to select the mode, and it’s always in the wrong place. Anyway, she generously gave me this camera since I had broken mine and I’ve been using it. Last night I noticed that the flash wasn’t working. I charged the battery, checked the settings and looked for information on the Internet. It appears that I’m once again screwed. I couldn’t find any fixes for a bad flash, and I’m not going to take it apart to see if I can fix it. Of course, I’m in the middle of several projects and want to take pics for my offroad blog ( and now have no camera.

What’s needed is a ‘rugged’ camera like a Canon D10 or Olympus W90. These are a relatively new phenomenon, probably because it’s only been in the last few years that digital cameras have become so pathetic that they won’t stand up to the rigors of the real world. It’s a conspiracy, they all made flimsy cameras so they can come out with ‘rugged’ models and charge and extra $100.

Lightbulb test results (CFL vs Incandescent)

For those of you paying attention, back in January of 07 I started a test to compare the longevity of Compact Flourescents with Incandescent light bulbs.

So far the results have been heavily in favor of the CFLs. In the test I have replaced two diffe.

Now there still may not be a cost advantage to the CFLs due to the large difference in price between the two, but the convenience factor is huge, and the power savings may have made up for the price by now ( I haven’t really noticed a big difference in my electric billrent bulbs at the same time, one with a CFL and one with an Incandescent. I just replaced the Incandescent for the third time in almost 3 years. I have not replaced the CFL).

The test will continue, at least until I run out of spare Incandescent bulbs in my closet.

Is Apple right? Is Windows 7 a dissappointment?

We have all seen Apple’s Mac/PC commercial’s slamming Windows 7 as being a disappointment. Is that true? Are we being given the same promises as always without delivery by Microsoft? Let me relate my experiences.

A friend came to me with a Vista laptop that was having problems. My suggestion was to upgrade to Windows 7, the friend agreed, so I got a Windows 7 upgrade license and attempted to install it.

The first problem I encountered was the upgrade. Vista was really strange, and wouldn’t run Windows Explorer among other things. There wasn’t much installed, but I wanted to retain the accounts and some other configuration information, so I thought I would try to upgrade the system. The admin account seemed to be particularly broken and the installer wouldn’t run off the dvd at all. The next logical step was to boot from the installation media and upgrade from there. After taking 5 minutes to get to the setup screen, the installer informed me that the upgrade could only be run from withing Windows. Fine, so the machine was rebooted, and the guest account was used to start the installer. The Admin password was supplied, finally Windows 7 informed me that the machine couldn’t be upgraded because Vista Service Pack 1 wasn’t installed. Since I suspect that Service Pack 1 was what broke the Vista install initially, and because the machine wouldn’t connect tot he Internet I decided to skip that whole thing.

The next step was to reboot from the DVD and do a fresh install. There wasn’t anything valuable on the machine, so I just reformatted the primary partition and did a clean install. This actually went very smoothly with minimal human interaction required.

Windows 7 was then installed, and seems to work very well. The bootup is fast, networking seems to work correctly but it did drop off the wireless network and had to be reconnected twice. It only took a few minutes to find the final problem of the day. An attempt to visit the Adobe website and install Acrobat caused IE8 to lock up. At first I thought this was a fluke, so I tried again. I manually killed IE8, went to the Acrobat Reader home page, and again, IE8 became completely unresponsive. After some research, found that Windows 7 and IE8 have problems with Flash. Interestingly, my IE8 install on my XP laptop seems to be just fine.

So, final conclusion, Windows 7 seems to be a definite upgrade from the previous Microsoft OS. The upgrade process is a little clunky, especially compared to what Apple managed to do with Snow Leopard, of course they weren’t trying to upgrade from Vista. I am a little disappointed that it only took me about 10 minutes to find a bug, and it is with a major browser plugin. Otherwise it seems solid, but only time will tell.

Removing smartquotes from text in Linux

When converting documents from customer word format to html it seems inevitable that there will be extra characters provided by Microsoft Word. Unfortunately this expanded character set, which includes Smart Quotes, is not supported by many web browsers and email clients, so we have to go through and clean all of this out of our html files.

I normally use vim to edit all html files, and I have finally found a reliable method of locating these ‘bad characters’ in vim.

The process consists of two steps:

1) Make sure the ‘file encoding’ is 8-bit

:setlocal fenc=latin1

2) Use the 8g8 command in Normal mode (see “help 8g8”)

This process allows the bad characters to be identified and converted to utf-8 characters that can be ed in all web browsers and email clients. If anyone out there has a better/easier way of doing this, please let me know.