Tuesday, October 30, 2007

carving people and pumpkins

Direct quote from my wife, DOCTOR Marki-Dunn,

"Pumpkins are harder to carve than people."

"Glad I'm not a pumpkin," was my reply... naturally.

As it turns out, harder, in this case, refers not to difficulty, but to solidity, as in, the opposite of soft.

Monday, October 29, 2007

crockett's quest for the ultimate treadmill computing platform, or, treadmill workstation, alpha

[Note, 12/8/08: due to popular demand, all internet treadmill walkstation/workstation posts have been moved the the following blog, http://internet-treadmill-workstation.blogspot.com/. ]

[unless you are some sort of treadmill historian or Crockett-stalker, skip to the latest version, here: http://crockettdunn.blogspot.com/2008/03/exercise-plan-active-lifestyle-for.html] ########################################

for crying out loud, all I want is to be able to either listen to music, watch tv/dvr, or read & respond to emails while I'm on the treadmill. HURRY UP, convergence!

I've narrowed down the problem definition as follows: for me it is important to have either a rugged- no, "indestructible," mobile/tablet/phone-type device, or a separation of the HID device from the computer "body" and display. In other words, I don't want to sweat all over a laptop/tablet or tangle myself up in cables and dump everything, including myself, onto the floor.

(1) Experience with HTC Wizard:
I have been able to do some treadmill emailing with the HTC Wizard (branded Cingular 8125), but it was tough with the tiny display. So with high hopes, I tried the super-awesome HTC Advantage x7501 for its larger display, and what I had hoped would be an improved, larger keyboard.

(2) Experience with HTC Advantage:
This was a big disappointment, because I find it actually more difficult to type on the new, re-arranged keyboard, even though it's larger. The layout is different enough to confuse me (where's the D#*$! underscore???). Unlike the solid HTC Wizard, the Advantage is too big to comfortably balance in my hands while walking. I don't want the magnetic display to drop off. I'd be happier if it were a convertible tablet with flexible tilt. The rigidness, (one angle) leaves me wanting to tilt it forward.

And it's too small to use like a real keyboard on a flat surface. The keys are way too responsive, so I'm constantly cleaning up after my typos. Conclusions about HTC Advantage: unless I purchase a blue-tooth keyboard (something I can either hold like a PSP for thumbing or type flat on with keys large enough not too miss), this device is not my ultimate treadmill computing platform.

The HTC Advantage x7501 requires stability for typing, which would require me to be hunched over with my hands on the treadmill book tray the whole time. I preferred the feel of the HTC Wizard for typing, because I could hold it in the air while thumb-typing, although the display was way too small for any real productivity.

This leads me to the components of possible solutions:
Air mouse + mini-keyboard by Gyration. This, or the longer-range "pro" version, will almost certainly be part of the solution to my PC or terminal-based treadmill computing/music platform. It would be even better if I could run TiVo on my PC rather than having to buy the separate, dedicated "television" platform.

Cool thing about this long-range, RF wireless mouse. Not only is it great for use as a presentation style "pointer," and not only does it come with really cool media control software, but also it operates on a frequency that can be repeated by my old-school Terk leapfrog A/V/IR transceivers. Correction: I'm not sure if it's repeating the radio frequency, or if the 2.4GHz are simply reaching the computer upstairs. There is a point here, though. Possible solution:
(3) super thin client, also known as the "television." Display only with all computing done remotely. A variation of this is
(4) a sort-of thin client- windows mobile device or old, "throw-away" laptop. using RPD to access the machine with the really computing power. If you demand high graphics performance, this is not the solution for you. But if you want cheap, quick access to your data, it's ok.

More later...

Friday, October 19, 2007

old powers v. new competitors

I was just speaking one of my attorney clients, Mr. Goodrich @ Goodrich Law part of Red Mountain Law), and I find myself repeatedly impressed with this business's acceptance and embracing of progress- the inevitable necessity of competing with Legal Zoom and whatever other new competition is to come.

I was so inspired by this and other new competitors, that I wrote the following:

If you're curious about why I'm so interested in your foresight, here's the deal: this falls into a larger pattern I see of "old powers" either embracing or denying change and progress. It's really about protectionism vs. progress.

Old powers include traditional cable TV providers and TV advertisers, traditional telephone carriers, record labels (controlling distribution), Microsoft, and of course the lawyers. New competitors include TiVO, downloadable video services like YouTube, VOIP (Vonage/MyPeople), downloadable mp3 music / streaming music services (Pandora), open source alternatives to Microsoft products (SongBird, FireFox), and online document services (Legal Zoom).

What I have observed is that all of the aforementioned "old powers" go through a process of denial, and then either lobbying the government for "protection" (I'd be interested to see what challenges Legal Zoom has faced) or throwing up anti-competitive barriers to competition, then finally wising up and struggling to copy/catch up with the new competitors, or perhaps perishing.

What the old powers have forgotten is that before they became so comfortable in their success, the way they got to be "old power" was by offering something innovative and great that was better than everything else out there. In the comfort of success, a strange psychological phenomenon occurs, where a sense of entitlement and self congratulation is cultivated.

A wise man summed it up like this: Convenience Wins, Hubris Loses.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's Arrived! It HAS ARRIVED!!!

The climax of the Frankenstein Monster Movie spoken with bad R/L pronunciation?

No, it's my super new toy, the HTC - Advantage X7501 - Unlocked GSM Smartphone complete with Windows Mobile 6, Mobile Office, Windows Live, WiFi/BlueTooth/EDGE/GPRS, onboard GPS, and matter transport (time travel only available in HTC x7500 model).

I must take care of my client (Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance) before I indulge and explore.

Images will be despeckled and added to, and product will be reviewed, at a later date.

HTC's kung fu is the best.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Other industries, take lesson (Ian speaks truth):

That's right-on: Convenience Wins, Hubris Loses.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

impromptu dog party

it wasn't what i had planned for the afternoon, but when i noticed a dog racing off-leash through the neighborhood, i decided to investigate. and that is how i discovered that our friendly neighborhood dogs rocky and lucky had somehow escaped from their normal fenced in hang-out. after a some chasing, coercion, and negotiation, i got rock and luck by the collars and dragged them into my backyard for temporary safekeeping until owners could be contacted.

and thus began the impromptu dog party. at its peak, rocky and lucky got inside and chased mo up the window screen which fell down as mo clung to it, both falling backwards on the floor. the dogs loved it. not sure how mo felt about it.

for the remainder of the afternoon, i worked from my laptop downstairs or outside, whilst mo and leroy taunted dogs through the window.

good times!

Monday, October 08, 2007


There are truths that transcend the reach of our current tools of language. And this is why we have music.

Friday, October 05, 2007

life quality enhancement: tnt rom for cingular 8125 a.k.a.htc wizard

i'm not saying I unlocked my cingular 8125 (a.k.a. HTC wizard) and installed the TNT pack (no one should do this seriously, unless you have a throw-away phone), because i'm not sure if that would be a breach of my carrier contract or not. i will say that if i were to install a cooked-up rom on my phone, i would only install apps that i've already licensed on this phone, and i would also add that i'm not interested in theft. sometimes the hacker/developer community gets it right sooner than microsoft, att, and htc. that's all.

so continuing this hypothetical case, i would also say that this has finally resolved the problem with the crappy, unresponsive text auto-complete and windows mobile/ms voice command crashes that have plagued my device. plus now the wi-fi works. and i can probably even make voip calls and go data-only without paying for any more "voice" minutes (gotta check the contract first, though).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

befuddled by packaging

Man oh man- I thought we'd gotten past this. Remember $16 audio CDs and those giant tall cardboard packages- I think it was for anti-theft purposes? Well I just grabbed a copy of MS Office Ultimate 2007 from Office Max, and the new packaging has me stumped. There is a sticker over something that looks like two hinges, plus a red pull-tab on the top that reminds me of an ink cartridge pack. I'm beginning to think store personnel were supposed to remove this anti-theft stuff before I left the store, and if I do it myself I fear an ink bomb exploding on me!

[several stressful minutes later]

I am happy to report that I have proclaimed victory of Microsoft's new packaging, and gained access to the fruits of my Office Max visit.

Happy will be the day when I no longer have to do my own [re]installs.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Linksys, must you insult my intelligence?

Linksys says, "yeah, OK the USB storage link doesn't work with your size hard drive, and you are correct, there is no documentation indicating this system requirement.... but it's not our fault you bought that hard drive."]

My Linksys WRT350N Wireless-N Gigabit Router with Storage Link does not recognize my large, Western Digital 1 TB MyBook Premium External Hard Drive 1394A/USB 2.0.

After some research (check out the angry review that starts, "Do not buy a Linksys WRT350N! ..." and ends, "Save yourself a lot of money and even more valuable time and don't believe what this company is telling you about this product. It is a lie.,") it became clear that there is a known issue (known by network users with common sense and troubleshooting skills) that Linksys is choosing not to acknowledge. That is what is really insulting. The lack of acknowledgment of any problem whatsoever. I have been postponing facing this issue for several weeks now, because I knew what I would be up against.

I've been around technology long enough to know that I will have to pay for a solution, whether it be payment in the form of telephone time on hold or the TECH SUPPORT GAUNTLET idiot dance (you may be familiar with the TECH SUPPORT GAUNTLET idiot dance if you have ever requested support for DSL, mobile phones, or laptops).

Here is what we accomplished in today's two 60+ minute session:

Joe Linksys: Hi, my name is Joe Linksys. How may I help you?
Crockett: Hi Munirih
Crockett: I have a wrt350N
Crockett: won't recognize 1TB USB HDD.
Joe Linksys: Hello, Crocket! Please continue.
Crockett: will recognize my little USB flash drive
Crockett: Firmware version 1.05.8beta didn't help
Crockett: Is there another firmware update?
Joe Linksys: Don't worry Crocket, I'll be assisting you with your concern.

Joe Linksys: Let me verify first this information. Your telephone number is 626-798-0323, right?

Crockett: right
Joe Linksys: I see. What's the size of your USB flash drive?
Crockett: I'm not reading it, but I believe it was something like .3GB according to the router's web interface... let me plug it back in & tell you exactly
Joe Linksys: Okay.
Crockett: "found new hardware... disk drive...."
Crockett: 30.9MB FAT
Joe Linksys: Alright. How about if you wire your 1TB hard drive to your computer, can it detect or access the HD?
Crockett: Yes.
Crockett: Would you like me to do that right now for verification?
Joe Linksys: Yes, please, but I believe it will no longer be read by the computer once it is formatted on the router.
Crockett: ok thanks for the warning. That's no problem, though. Give me 1min to run and get it and plug it in to the computer
Joe Linksys: Alright, take your time.
Crockett: OK, it's plugged in to my workstation's USB. give it a minute to recognize the hardware etc
Joe Linksys: No problem.
Crockett: OK now I have in "My Computer"...
Crockett: WD MyBook (F:)
Crockett: ah it's NTFS 465 GB- must be mirrored. I can re-format if you suggest it
Joe Linksys: If you reformat it, you will loose all your files in there.
Crockett: i understand. that is OK. I just want to be able to make the linksys function properly as a file server
Joe Linksys: Alright. You may reformat it so that we can properly isolate the problem.
Crockett: NTFS or FAT32?
Joe Linksys: You can use either one of those.
Crockett: looks like there is some kind of hardware RAID on this, because windows thinks it is a single device... let me look @ WD Raid Manager and make sure I eliminate any extra complicating

Joe Linksys: Alright. You can take your time.
Crockett: reinstalling WD MyBook Raid Manager....
Joe Linksys: Alright.
Joe Linksys: How was it, Crocket?
Crockett: looks like WD Raid Manager is not going to cooperate, so we shall ignore this for now and let windows format the drive as it sees fit
Crockett: do you know- is it normal for winXP to ONLY allow NTFS formatting?
Joe Linksys: Crocket, are you still there?
Crockett: yes
Crockett: I performed a quick format, and now I have "wd mybook (F:), 465.75 GB NTFS."
Crockett: What next?
Joe Linksys: Okay. But our objective here is to make sure that the computer can read your 1TB USB HDD.
Joe Linksys: As far as I know, it should not be like that. It should allow FAT or NTFS.
Crockett: we can change that objective to making it read my 465.75 GB HDD. I had forgotten it was mirrored, so I was off by 50% about the file size
Crockett: But the objective is to make the linksys wrt350N read the USB Western Digital MyBook HDD
Crockett: whether it's .5 or 1TB
Joe Linksys: You're right. After formatting your hard drive, try to create a folder in it to make sure that your computer can access the folder in the hard drive.
Crockett: ok, yes, that worked ("new folder" exists)
Joe Linksys: Good. Now it means that you computer can access your hard drive. This time, we'll connect it on the router.
Crockett: OK. 1 minute and I will go into the other room and plug the HDD into the router. Do you need me to be able to look at the router and tell you anything? It's in another room, so I will

plug in HDD and be right back.
Joe Linksys: After plugging the hard drive, just check the web interface of the router specifically the Storage tab and check in there if it is recognized.
Crockett: OK. Storage tab says, "Disk Detail There are currently no available disks." and, "Erase Disk No disks are currently defined"

Joe Linksys: This is weird. It should be able to read it. Can you please hold on for 3 to 4 minutes? I'll just try to verify this case to my superior and check for other possible work around.
Crockett: certainly. Thanks for helping. I will be standing by...
Joe Linksys: Thank you. I'll be back soon.
Joe Linksys: Thank you for waiting, Crockett.
Crockett: no problem take your time. i'm multi-tasking
Joe Linksys: I have verified this case and I was informed that it is normal for the router not to detect the 465.75 GB HDD. This is because the hard drive was mirrored and was in RAID. The WRT350N

can only support hard drives that are not in RAID or mirrored. We only have 1 device that supports hard drive that are in RAID or mirrored form.
Crockett: hmmmm.... can you hang on while I reformat without raid?
Joe Linksys: Sure, I can and just for an additional information, the router has not yet been fully tested to handled a hard drive that is in TB size.
Crockett: is there any "use at your own risk" firmware that I can try to better support 1TB?
Joe Linksys: As of now, the 1.05.8 beta is the latest firmware for the WRT350N.
Crockett: it sounds like the router doesn't do what the advertisement said.
Joe Linksys: I apologize if the product has fallen short on the level of your expectation, Crocket.
Crockett: i appreciate the apology but can you put me in touch with someone that can help? "Sorry the product does not function as advertised" does not solve my problem or give me my money back.
Crockett: I would like to know if there are plans for a firmware update, otherwise can I trade this for a non-storage-link router?
Joe Linksys: I understand your situation, Crockett. We at technical support are not yet informed by the proper department if there will be a firmware upgrade for the router. Our options left here

is to reformat the hard drive without RAID.
Crockett: this is what I'm doing right now.
Crockett: Now we have "New Volume (F:) 931.51 GB NTFS."
Joe Linksys: Alright. We can't really say that the product is faulty because it was able to read your USB flash drive. It's just that it's a product limitation that the router can't read or detect

HD that is in RAID or in TB size.
Crockett: Where was that information disclosed in the documentation?
Joe Linksys: There's no documentation that says that the router has that kind of product limitation.
Crockett: Can you put me in touch with someone who can help me?
Joe Linksys: Crockett, I am already a second level technician. Next to me is my team captain. I have gathered the information that I told you from her about the product limitation of the device.
Crockett: excellent, thank you.
Crockett: Do you think it is fair that I should be able to trade this router for a non-storage-link version, since it is unusable with my hard drives? Or can you tell me of plans and ETA for

upgraded firmware so I may use it with my HDD?
Joe Linksys: The only way for us to have the router read the hard drive is to reformat it without RAID. If after reformatting it, it still can't be detected on the router, then we could say that

it's because of the size of the hard drive.
Crockett: OK, then let's do that. Now we have "New Volume (F:) 931.51 GB NTFS." Shall I do a read/write test on the workstation before plugging in to the router?
Joe Linksys: Yes, please.
Crockett: OK, I created a "New Folder" as before
Crockett: What next?
Joe Linksys: Now, please connect the hard drive to the router.
Crockett: ok. standby...
Joe Linksys: Alright. Please check again if it will be detected on the router. If it's not, we can try doing a power cycle on the router and the hard drive.
Crockett: ok but didn't you already tell me it is known that this product won't work with 1TB drives?
Joe Linksys: Right, bur there is a possibility that it will read the hard drive. It is a may or may not work setup.
Crockett: OK in the web interface, I see, "Disk Detail There are currently no available disks." and, "Erase Disk
No disks are currently defined."
Crockett: How should I cycle the power? just unplug and re-insert power cables?
Joe Linksys: To do a power cycle, first, you unplug the power adapter of the router. Unplug the hard drive. After 5 minutes, plug ibn the router again and connect the hard drive.
Crockett: ok, I will be back in 5 minutes...
Joe Linksys: Wait, aren't we going to get disconnected?
Crockett: touche
Joe Linksys: What do you mean?
Crockett: a joke b/c i was embarassed that I didn't anticipate the obvious disconnection that would occur.
Crockett: OK, so what shall I do for testing and following-up with you?
Joe Linksys: Just power cycle the router and the hard drive and tell me if the hard drive was detected. When we get disconnected, you can relogin. You can ask the receiving agent if it's possible

for him to transfer you to me. If I'm not available, just check your email for a reference number. Give that reference to the next agent so they can pull out our chat session. If you don't have a

reference number, just give you email address so you don't have to start over with the receiving agent.

Crockett: OK. Thank you for your time and patience.
Joe Linksys: You're welcome, Crockett. I'm glad to be at your service. Do you have any other concerns that I can help you with?

Crockett: YES. What can I do to rapidly escalate this issue so that I may minimize the amount of time required for us to reach a resolution?
Joe Linksys: When you relogin, you will be automatically sent to a second level technician. Just ask the technician to pull out our previous chat so that you don't have to start over.
Crockett: OK thanks.
Joe Linksys: You're welcome. Be sure to visit our Knowledge Base located at http://www.linksys.com/support and click on Ask Linksys. The site contains troubleshooting tips, how-to instructions, as

well as solutions to common issues relating to all Linksys products.

Joe Linksys: Thank you for giving us an opportunity to serve you through Live Chat Support. For your records, you may copy and paste this chat session to your Word document. Feel free to contact

us if you require further assistance. Once again, my name is Munirih with badge ID 19002. Please don't forget to close the window properly so we can assist other clients. Thank you for choosing

Linksys and have a great day!

Boys and girls, can you guess what happened after I reconnected the router and plugged in the non-mirrored 1TB HDD? Yes of course it still doesn't work just like everyone knows.

To be continued....