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  • Wifi I recently changed the wireless configuration around the house. One of the primary tasks that I wanted to accomplish was changing the security to WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2). For those of you wondering how you might go about doing this, here is a slide show that provides a nice screenshot overview.

    Windows Vista machines support WPA2 out of the box, but I was confused and concerned when two XP machines in the house could not connect to the network. One machine was able to see the network, but unable to connect, while the other could not even see the network.

    As it turns out, XP machines need to have the following patch applied:

    The Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2)/Wireless Provisioning Services Information Element (WPS IE) update for Windows XP with Service Pack 2

    Once your machine is updated with that patch, you should be able to enable WPA2 along with AES. Most people are often unaware that WEP (the default security many people use) can be crack in minutes. With WPA2 and AES, you are afforded a much more secure network experience.

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    Jul 6, 2007 at 09:00 AM in Security
  • Goodbye my Apple MacBook Pro, I hardly knew you.

    I previously posted the question An Apple MacBook Pro... Why not?, and I have an answer for the time being. The short of it is this - the new MacBook Pro's use an Nvidia graphics card (the 8600M GT) and Nvidia cards do not work well with Windows Vista. I am not certain about Windows XP, but with Windows Vista via Boot Camp 1.3 I continuously encountered the dreaded nvlddmkm errors . In Nvidia's own forums you will find over 72 pages of discussion about this error, dating back to January. It has not been solved, nor does Nvidia have any answer posted anywhere, nor via phone support.

    In my own experience, I received both BSOD as well as the the annoying screen flash followed by the nvlddmkm error message as shown here and discussed in the above forum (the registry changes  did not resolve it for me btw). The clue about what is going on lies in the fact that the error only occurs when using Aero. When running Vista, if you turn off Aero and simply run Basic mode, the errors stop. Moreover, you can cause it to happen at will simply minimizing/maximizing windows such as Internet Explorer. Clearly something is going on with the DirectX rendering for which the Nvidia driver is choking on, but sadly, not a single support rep would listen or had a way to contact anyone that would help fix the problem.

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    Jul 6, 2007 at 12:23 AM in Computer Hardware
  • Code_sm Here , here and here, you will read about the new Google AJAX Feed API. It looks like a great thing for people to use for creating new web applications - all without having to buy server farms in order to proxy data. Yes, great I say! Kind of like Yahoo! Pipes...

    Yes, great indeed, just don't attempt to make money off of the new creation you make. Note the following from the terms of service:

    5.6  You agree that if you use the Feed API to develop a service for other users, it must be made accessible to your end users without charge.

    There you have it... I wonder how far this extends? Certainly it makes sense that you could not create a service that wraps up the same functionality and brand it your own - then sell it.  However, that seems to be covered here:

    5.7  Unless you have been specifically permitted to do so in a separate agreement with Google, you agree that you will not reproduce, duplicate, copy, sell, trade or resell the Services for any purpose.

    I would hope 5.6 is simply poorly written, but I am guessing it is intended to be as far reaching and ambiguous as it appears. Does that cover usage where you might have a subscription site where users are charged and some feed reading is added on later? Point being, what if the "feed" usage is a minimal part of the site, as far as payment goes?

    At any rate - it would be much more useful if these services would simply charge like the Amazon services do, i.e. S3 etc.

    Benjamin Bach
    techThoughts ::
    Thoughts, ideas, code, speculation and news
    about all things technology.

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    Apr 18, 2007 at 06:38 PM in Software & Internet Development
  • Have you experienced terribly slow speed when attempting to debug/view ASP .NET sites locally on Windows Vista with Mozilla Firefox? The terrible performance will occur when using the built in "Cassini" web server to dish up your development pages.

    Even after installing the Visual Studio SP1 along with the Vista update, Firefox will load pages 1, item, at, a, time, so, slow, that, it, is, as, if, you, are, loading, the, page, with, a, 1200, baud, modem, rather than from your local hard drive. It ends up being pretty easy to fix this problem: disable IPv6 within Firefox.

    Fire up Firefox and type about:config in the address bar. Now type ipv6 into the filter text box. Either right-click and select toggle (or double-click) on the network.dns.disableIPv6 to set the value to true.

    Once the network.dns.disableIPv6 value is set to true, Firefox will be back to its normal self and as speedy as before.


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    Mar 30, 2007 at 11:35 PM in Software & Internet Development
  • Passwordsafe As I posted here and here, security is more than using a simple password. More than anything though, having a simple short password is like going out of town for a week with your front door unlocked. You may end up not being robbed but it is simply luck and sheer statistical odds your house was not broken into. Of course the opposite is also true, even if you have the best lock in the world, someone could decide to drive a bulldozer through your wall. In other words, while any account you have is likely to be cracked by a determined hacker, why make it a 5 second job?

    To that end, check out this article I found via the splendid Lifehacker: How I'd Crack Your Weak Passwords. Within it, you will find a great explanation regarding the cracking process and tips about password security. Among the gems you will see the following stats:

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    Mar 27, 2007 at 11:29 PM in Security
  • Verizonvsvonage It is one thing when someone like Jim Cramer jabs Vonage constantly for business reasons, that can actually be pretty humorous. What is not funny is the possibility of once again paying inflated prices to telephone companies due to Verizon’s attack on Vonage and subsequent winning of round one. Make no mistake, Vonage has had a key hand in changing 135 years of traditional ideas and usage patterns relating to what we call the telephone. These changes have had a dramatic impact on pricing and moving VoIP from techie to mainstream.

    What I do not understand is the relative apathy and lack of true outrage among consumers in general with regards to the Verizon ruling. Sites like TechDirt (for which I have previously disagreed) have covered it well and point to the ludicrous nature of granting a permanent injunction when Verizon seems to have no other interest than stopping innovation and keeping inflated prices. The judge states the following (as noted at TechDirt):

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    Mar 27, 2007 at 08:47 AM in Companies, Legal, Patents, Take Notice
  • Adobeversusmicrosoft For those of you that questioned my assertion that many Adobe products will not work or be supported on Windows Vista, CNET and Information Week reported this today:

    Adobe to CS2 users: Want Vista? Upgrade
    Adobe Has No Plans To Make Current Products Windows Vista Compatible

    While some people might find the following statement amusing:

    "Another reason is, how many customers are really on Vista in the installed base, and is it worth the work, especially in the creative customers? And we have no desire to really showcase Microsoft's technology," Chizen said.

    I personally find that sort of statement to be offensive and anti-customer. Why? Adobe Creative Suite cost customers a thousand-plus dollars per copy, while Acrobat, Photoshop (fill in the product blank) customers paid hundreds per copy. Now, if customers want to to use Windows Vista - whether via upgrade or new machine - along with current Adobe software (not just older versions) they must upgrade (translation: spend thousands more). Products  like Creative Suite, Photoshop, InDesign, and Dreamweaver must all be upgraded to the new - yet unreleased - version.

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    Mar 22, 2007 at 01:00 AM in Business, Companies, Software
  • I had intended to post that I would be off the wire from March 13th until March 20th. Much to my chagrin, I posted it as a draft rather than a final post... So take this as a belated notice; in the future I will have to make certain to check the post status.

    Now that I am back, I also want to announce that I am finally completing the initial site re-design. For those not simply pulling the RSS feeds, there have been some obvious changes during the past month-plus. I have been trickling out the re-design in pieces (which also explains why a couple of things are not hooked up yet).

    I intend, and am looking forward, to posting about the new design along with some of the technical pieces relating to it. Some of the changes and challenges are very obvious, while others are not. Since this site is not run from a server that I have control over, nor have much programmatic access to, I have had some unique challenges that may be of interest to others. More than that, I am just excited to talk about it.


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    Mar 21, 2007 at 11:09 PM in Blogging
  • MacBook ProI am not an Apple Fanboy – but I am a fan of innovation, choice and knowledge. When thinking about my next laptop, more and more I am strongly considering something that was not a possibility a couple of years ago. I am seriously considering an Intel based Apple MacBook Pro. As someone using Windows, .NET, ASP .NET and having decades of intellectual and financial investment in the PC platform, a move like this is not to be taken lightly. I will not and cannot throw that all away, but not only do I not have to but I am excited to expand my knowedge by the potential move to an Apple laptop.

    In some ways it will be going full circle because I first started using and developing software with the Apple II. Once high school courses started, PCs were the primary machine, but I remember thinking what trash they were compared to the Apple II GS OS. The DOS and Novell driven PCs looked and felt terrible compared to my Apple II GS. I debated with classmates about why the Apple was superior (yes, I know, I know) but alas a prettier UI, better user experience and technical superiority does not necessarily matter. The law of numbers and practicality do.

    Accordingly, Apple became less and less viable as a platform and a lot of us moved to the PC where the majority of jobs and high growth areas were. Whether you wanted to start a new software company or work in an office, many times that dictated that you use a PC. Today is different and it is time to reevaluate and (dare I say) “think different”. Why?

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    Mar 11, 2007 at 10:54 PM in Computer Hardware, Mobile, Software
  • Intuos3

    In my PDF Power Pack post, I mentioned PDF Annotator as being a great tool for marking-up and dealing with PDFs via a Tablet PC. In fact, one of the reasons I ended up buying a Toshiba Portege M400 Tablet PC was to mark-up and sign documents. Even more so, I find drawing things out to be much more natural than typing and attempting to sketch via mouse.

    One problem is the relative lack of Tablet PC choices in relation to traditional laptops (not to mention desktops). Another problem is the additional cost involved to receive said functionality. Moreover, what about the days you do not want to drag a laptop around but want Tablet PC functionality? Well, with Windows Vista you can now turn ANY desktop or laptop into a Tablet PC. The answer? Wacom.

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    Mar 9, 2007 at 04:49 PM
  • Pdfpowerpack I have slogged along using either Acrobat Reader (now just Adobe Reader) or Acrobat Professional for years. For years, I have endured ever increasing bloat, performance-degrading, teeth-grinding frustration, all for the ability to either read or print-to a PDF. Having moved my system to Windows Vista and Office 2007 means I cannot even use all of the features because Adobe has dropped the ball and will not provide support until sometime in the first half of 2007. Furthermore, if you are an Acrobat 7 user and are considering Office 2007 – forget about it; you will never be supported and are expected to fork over your upgrade tax.

    For me, the days of using Adobe Reader and/ or shelling out hundreds of dollars to create a simple PDF are over. I now want to pass along the options I have chosen that enable me to read, write and annotate for free, free and nearly free.

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    Mar 8, 2007 at 11:55 PM in Software
  • Gmail LogoNow that Google Apps is available for all to try out, I thought I would share a small tip regarding sending emails to yourself via nicknames, email lists, or alias account that point to you. Specifically, if you are accustomed to sending yourself to-do lists, links, reminders etc. you might set up an email list or account alias so that you can easily set a rule that files (label, in Google terms) such items based on the address. One example might be setting up as an address that points to your primary account mailbox so you can easily send yourself links that are then labeled as links and more easily retrievable. Another example might be to set up an email list such as that points to both your account and another account (such as a spouse) that applies a reminder label to said items. In Gmail based services, these items will not show up in your inbox.

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    Mar 7, 2007 at 11:02 PM in Tips & How-To