Tab Dump

TAB DUMP! Hello random reader! As you can likely tell from a quick look, I am far less active on this blog than I likely should be to justify its continued maintenance… This said, I’ve had it up for many years and so I don’t see it going away anytime soon…

In this spirit of stubborn indifference to reason and logic that I present you another ‘tab dump’ post – where I share what tabs are open in my browser currently (before I close them as I paste them in this post)… Oh, for joy! I know that you can hardly wait!

This seemed interesting – turing a RPi into a wireless router… Like many Raspberry Pis, mine is currently sitting in a drawer doing little more than collecting dust… I was previously using it as a local git repo, but it made little sense with the many other running PCs in my household with far more sufficient resources (namely storage space) than the Pi has… In an effort to find a use for it and having previously been in need of a new router (wound up replacing with a Buffalo with DD-WRT instead), I stumbled across this project in some reading and thought it neat – http://jacobsalmela.com/raspberry-pi-and-routing-turning-a-pi-into-a-router/

Leviathan Wakes – or does it? As a daily IO9 reader, I am frequently exposed to books that I think I’d like to read (but that I rarely do) – this was one such book.. http://www.amazon.com/Leviathan-Wakes-James-S-A-Corey/dp/0316129089?tag=io9amzn-20&ascsubtag=[type|link[postId|1588137170[asin|0316129089[authorId|5717795175536518860

Always looking for something new and fun to get into around the area, I found this post via Reddit and thought it had many interesting activities I could give a go before eventually departing the area – http://www.graspingforobjectivity.com/2014/06/35-things-to-do-in-birmingham.html

Back to the router bit – I needed a non-official/mainstream release for my new router(s) – http://www.dd-wrt.com/site/support/other-downloads

Additional router noise (one of 2 routers that I picked up) – http://www.dd-wrt.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=881386

Bootstrap 386 – I found this to be a pretty interesting Bootstrap theme and just have not been able to accept the fact that I will never actually use it for anything personally and so I keep it open in hopes that I will find a purpose 🙂 http://www.uicorner.com/bootstrap-386-theme/

Breaking Spotify DRM with PANDA – interesting read on getting around Spotify DRM (not that I do, just thought it an interesting concept when I saw the post on Hacker News) – http://moyix.blogspot.com/2014/07/breaking-spotify-drm-with-panda.html?

Beautiful Web Type – because who doesn’t like pretty things?! http://hellohappy.org/beautiful-web-type/?1

Web Design TutsPlus – Don’t quite remember why I Had this open, but hey! http://webdesign.tutsplus.com/

As someone who hates running out of juice (never know when the next prettiest food picture I’ve ever taken could be missed due to a dead battery on my phone)… After having recently picked up a bum RAVPower cheap-o external pack, I saw this highly recommended and about the same price, so I’ve kept it open in case I decide to actually pull the trigger – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IP1MQNK/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00IP1MQNK&linkCode=as2&tag=happyexposure-20&linkId=MQFKNSFDS7J4NA2Q

As an avid listener to modern folk, I thought this was a pretty funny headline (though I don’t think I’ve made it much farther into the actual article)… Related: Spotify’s ‘Freak Folk’ station is pretty nice 🙂 http://www.avclub.com/article/folk-2014s-heaviest-music-206414

Because who doesn’t like feeling comparitively inadequate – http://www.laurencegellert.com/2012/08/what-is-a-full-stack-developer/

More fun local activities!!! http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2014/07/6_great_swimming_holes_to_visi.html

Mo.router.stuffs – http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Repeater_Bridge

Mo.mo.networks.stuffs – http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2237536&page=2

A new Rasp Pi that I can do nothing with?! Take another $35!!! http://www.raspberrypi.org/introducing-raspberry-pi-model-b-plus/

Because I generally spend my days toiling away trying to identify why some .Net lib isn’t working as expected or why a would-be-simple WCF service grows to 1GB memory utilization in 24hrs of uptime, I find that I often don’t scratch my curious itch when it comes to newer non-MS development type stuff… In that spirit, I’ve recently been reading up on Koa JS – http://koajs.com/#introduction

More Koa – https://github.com/koajs/examples/blob/master/404/app.js

… and finally… more Koa – http://dailyjs.com/2014/01/09/koa/

Whelp.. That’s about it.. I hope it was as good for you as it was for me…

Until next time – “CLOSE SOME OF THOSE TABS!”

Who’s Myspace?: Dear, Future. By the time you are reading this, this will be your present (but it will read ‘facebook’) and you will know that this was now your future. in the past…

Today I found myself up to my eyeballs in long forgotten backups – bad, I know… I should really do some spring cleaning – but odds are that won’t be happening… Sites and projects from nearly a decade ago in some cases – nothing more than 404s or the sort today for the most part…

In an exercise to prove my wife’s accusations that I “never throw anything away” and to help out an old friend, I sought out a long forgotten backup to help my friend get some of her old content back (hard drive failures play hell on our media retention – long gone are the days of misplacement or house fire to be the cause of losing our stuff (note to self: buy long life external  HD (better make it 2) and backup pictures regularly (better make it 3!!!))).

After tossing up the site on my server, I was surprised to see how many links took me to here:

Dear, 201?.
Welcome to 201?(?) – just insert ‘Facebok’ where it says ‘Myspace’.

Sincerely,
-The Past

NTFS File System Tunneling (…is stupid …and wrong)

I will keep this short… I’ve already spent far too much time on this easy to work around peculiarity of NTFS and how it associates file meta information under the hood…

Consider this console app: http://pastebin.com/66QABWS3

If you were to actually read this (don’t feel too bad if you didn’t – the last link will explain it all) and didn’t have knowledge of the magic going on behind the scenes, you may be fooled into thinking that this application would write out “42” at some point in it’s lifetime…

Unfortunately, reasoning such as that would be based in reality – where up is up, down is down and true doesn’t equal false.  I say ‘unfortunately, due to the fact that this is not the reality that your NTFS file system (if you have one) is operating in…

It is actually operating in a place where when one thing dies, another assumes its identity and carries on its life as if it is the original thing – clearly it isn’t, but your NTFS file system assures you that it is…

NTFS is telling you: “This file that you create and then delete every 10 seconds, as you have for the last month and a half… Well, it wasn’t just created 9.9 seconds ago.. No.. It was created a month and half ago… Really it was… I don’t care that you just deleted it and then recreated a COMPLETELY NEW file in it’s place – THIS IS THE FILE CREATED ONE AND A HALF MONTHS AGO. FER-REAL-ZIES!”

Welcome to the nonsensical world of NT File System Tunneling …

-Matt

The Lenovo Nightmare – An adventure with customer service of the worse kind

tl;dr – Lenovo has decided that customer support and functional support systems are not important.  If you are a masochist, by all means, go buy from lenovo.com.  If you don’t like abuse and wasting time, go find another vendor as Lenovo has a long way to come before I or anyone should do business with them.  Thankfully to a few forum mods with connections, I was able to get out of my nightmare – but it was not without cost in time, energy and emotion.

So, after my failed attempt at getting an HP laptop, I decided to go ahead and go with one of my original two desired brands and ordered a Lenovo directly from lenovo.com (ASUS was my other (first) choice – price was the deciding factor).

Initially, things were smooth.. I setup an account with Lenovo. Being the bargain hunter that I am, I initiated a chat session (after all, this is how I got my Maxx for $69.99) to see if there were any additional discounts available.  After selecting sales, the chat session quickly connected me with a sales rep who checked on the available offers and wound up saving me about $200 in addition to the already on sale price… This was the last smooth part regarding my interactions with Lenovo.

Within 24 hours, my order shipping date was bumped back a month.  Of course, I was not happy about this..  No biggie, but I would like an explanation, so I decided to bounce back to chat… This time, selecting a support option, I notice a much slower connection – waiting some 40 minutes before being connected to a rep.  Chat session going smoothly until I ask about the delay – then no further responses from the rep.  I decide that perhaps calling is the way to go.. I select a post-sales support option and am told for nearly an hour that ‘a rep will be with you in a few moments’ – I start to get this sinking feeling…. ‘Is this the level of support I can expect?’…  Finally connected with a rep – a indiscernible comments made in a language that isn’t English and then I am disconnected… AWESOME!

So, I decide to bounce to forums.lenovo.com and see if others are experiencing issues – ZOMG:!!!!1 THE MOTHERLOAD.  No, I was not alone… Actually, quite the opposite… People writing experiences that mimic mine so closely that I may as well have wrote their post… What caused further sinking was the fact that some of these posts were 2 and 3 months old… I continue to read and see something bad – some of these 2 month old posts have updates as recently as a week ago and they are not good…  I read customer service horror story after horror story – countless customers frustrated to tears with overcharges, non-delivered hardware, non-honored warranties, shady practices forcing people to keep poorly made devices, people being cussed at by support, you name it… If it is “customer service worst-practices”, you can read an account of it on the forums.

After a handful of less than helpful interactions with post-sales support, I decide that I am best of just cancelling my order so that I don’t wind up in the same crappy boat as these forum members – but from the forum, I knew this process was going to be an uphill battle…  After again sitting on hold for nearly an hour and again being hung up on (read it in the forums – this is common) I decide to be ‘smart’ and call back but to ask for “Sales”… Surprise, surprise – in less than 5 minutes I am connected to what sounds to be a very happy and helpful guy… Happy and helpful up until the point that the words “I would like to cancel my order” hit his ear – at which time he became abrasive in tone and aggressive in that cancellation was likely not going to be a possibility for me…  Prepared for pushback, I pushed back harder – insisting that cancellation was the only reasonable outcome.  Tired of arguing with me, the rep declares my order as cancelled and proceeds to get off the phone with me quickly.. The rep dodges my requests for his representative information nor would he provide me with any sort of confirmation of cancellation… Not being born yesterday (and having read the forums), I realize that I likely still have an active order.  Head over to the forums and you will find multiple accounts of verbally or chat confirmed cancellations that wound up being delivered and then refused by Lenovo for return/refund.

I decide to try my hand at chat again.  I am able to identify two patterns while going through chat.  1) Post-sales support chat requires 30-50m waiting to be connected to a rep 2) mention the word cancellation and all of the sudden ‘technical difficulties’ run rampant…  The first one wasn’t a huge surprise considering the phones.. The second one on the other hand caused my curiosity to be peaked – why are they going non-responsive?  As a web developer by trade, I had already poked around the DOM of their chat window and watched some of the polling taking place while waiting for connection…  I noticed something curious while chatting – something red in the requests window – a 500….  I started testing – I could exchange between 2 and 15 messages with a rep, but within 2-3 seconds of mentioning a cancellation, the chat ceased to function – the result of a server error that didn’t notify in the chat window (only observable when using firebugs or Chromes web tools)… Now, I am not saying that the chat reps have a kill switch for when a cancellation pops up – not explicitly anyways… But I am going to say that this happened some 12+ times and so seems an odd coincidence and that it is yet another prime example of the suckiness of Lenovo.

Exhausted and frustrated, I resorted to venting in the forums.   I didn’t figure much would come of it – as mentioned, you can see peoples frustrations continue in the ‘General Interest’ wasteland for months without a happy resolve.  Admittedly, the forums were exhausting – complaint after complaint mirroring your own experience.  Me taking the time to voice my concerns as a cautionary tale to any who are lucky enough to come here before purchasing – knowing that in the end I am probably going to wind up bitter and with a device I resent just like these other sad and angry customers.

Long story longer, I posted my frustrations for a week – multiple times a day… I would start in the morning, follow up at lunch and continue at night.  Posting my chat logs, posting my frustrations in phone support, talking with the other abused Lenovo customers… After a couple of days, a couple of forum mods took interest in my complaints.  Starting with forum responses to my posts and eventually turning into PMs with promises of help.  This back and forth continued for 1 week… I am now happy to say that thanks to 3 mods (Ron, Mark and Ty) took on the challenge of working with Sales on my behalf to get my order cancelled and as of this morning, I now have a cancellation confirmation!!!  Admittedly, this was FAR MORE DIFFICULT than it should have ever been.  No customer support should be as poor as that provided by Lenovo.  Never should people have to resort to brand-bashing in the company forum in order to get real assistance.  I cannot thank these reps enough for taking time to get involved – just as I cannot stress to Lenovo enough to “get your act straight”.

This interaction with Lenovo has been an emotional, stressful and rage inducing experience.  I own multiple Lenovo devices and have always regarded the company highly – something that Lenovo was able to destroy in 1 week.  Literally, years of accumulated brand loyalty were completely obliterated in a single businessweek.  As anyone in the industry knows, this is not only bad for Lenovo because they won’t get just my money, but they likely will not get the money of the many, many people who turn to me for tech advice.  Previously firmly on my ‘safe brand list’, Lenovo is now on my “DO NOT BUY AT ANY COST” list.

Having liked the brand in the past, it saddens me to lose Lenovo as one of my go-to brands, but I just cannot imagine doing business with them again at this time.  I feel abused and beaten by them as a company and will not be recommending their hardware anytime soon.  I will keep an eye on Lenovo and do hope that they are able to get their internal company issues resolved to a level where I once again feel comfortable doing business with them.  I am not saying that you should or should not buy a Lenovo device, but I am going to go ahead and give you a tip: if you are considering doing business with Lenovo, please head over to the General Interests Forum (http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/General-Discussion/bd-p/Special_Interest_General) and just read…  You can thank me later…

To CM9 a0.5 or not to CM9 a0.5 – that is the question…

Of course, I have been anxiously watching the development of custom roms for the HP Touchpad… I am really happy to see not one, but TWO releases (Alpha 0 and Alpha 0.5) of CM9 for the Touchpad so far!  Great work from the Cyanogenmod team!

So far, I have been too gun shy to pull the trigger up fumble through the Acme2 process… With the outstanding issues list still holding the video hardware playback problems for Alpha 0.5, I think I may still hold off for a bit…

What about you? Any casual browsers of the site rocking CM9 on their HP Touchpad?  Worth it?

Perhaps I will have a hands-on for you this week… perhaps…

Links:

http://rootzwiki.com/topic/15509-releasealpha05-cyanogenmod-9-touchpad/

http://liliputing.com/2012/01/cyanogenmod-9-alpha-0-5-bug-fix-for-the-hp-touchpad.html

 

Edit: hands on review soon 😉

 

Touchpad Mod Upgrades – Bump to Cyanogenmod Alpha 2 and WebOS 3.0.4 while maintaining dual boot heaven (easy)

Note: I performed the below from Ubuntu 11.04 x64

After this process, you will be on CM7 a2 (newest Cyanogenmod – steps 1-2) and WebOS 3.0.4 (newest – steps 3).  Once you pull the WebOs update, moboot (what let you pick which OS to boot to) will no longer be the active bootloader.  But we have you covered (steps 4 – 7) – you will be booting via moboot in no time flat!  WOOT!

 

1) Download CM7 a2 update from here (http://rootzwiki.com/showthread.php?4011)
2) Upgrade to CM7 alpha 2 via clockworkmod Clockworkmod using the file obtained from step 1
3) After CM7 upgrade, reboot into web os and pull 3.0.4 OTA WebOs update
4) Connect Touchpad to PC and put in USB mode.
5) Create ‘cminstall’ folder on touchpad and then copy ‘update-moboot_0.3.3.zip’ to the folder (should have this file from when you installed CM7 a1).
6) Eject Touchpad and restart into USB Mode (Large White USB Icon) by  holding “Power + Volume Up”
7) Locate the ACMEInstaller that you originally loaded CM7a1 on your touchpad with and execute “novacom boot mem:// < ACMEInstaller” from terminal and let it do its magic…

You are up to date to date and dual booting again with the latest and greatest.

 

Disclaimer: Do this at your own peril.  I accept no responsibility for your clearly questionable judgement – an observation supported by your doing of random things that strangers on the Interwebs tell you to do to your expensive electronic devices for hopes of some supposed small technical gain… You have been warned of your insanity. This said, everything here worked perfectly for me 😀

ASP DropDownList DataBind Woes – Invalid SelectedValue Error

Yesterday, as I was plugging away on an ASP WebForms application to add some new features, I encountered an error I had not yet seen.

“SelectedValue which is invalid because it does not exist in the list of items”

Although Googling turned up a lot of results, I could not really find anything that fit the bill as a solution.  I did find a few threads on StackOverflow, though usually these discussions were followed up with additional people asking how the original asker resolved the issue.

For me, it turns out that I was calling the block of code that performed the list population and databind multiple times.  Populating and calling DataBind on this DropDownList multiple times, resulted in the above error.  In the end (after much forehead beating), the solution was an easy one – checking items before attempting to populate and bind to ensure the list was not already initialized.

if (yourDropDownList.Items.Count() == 0) //only populate and bind if not already done…
{
//populate and bind
}

That is it – just checking to ensure the items for the drop down list have not already been populated.  Of course, you really should have your application structured so that this logic is only hit once…. This said, if a complete refactor/rewrite is not in the cards for your application at this time, you can just perform this simple check to work around the exception.

Hope this helps someone!

-Matt

Restarting Vino-Server from CLI

As is often the case, I am posting this here just as much for myself as I am for others Googling this problem…

Sometimes Vino-Server on Ubuntu can be flaky, preventing me from logging in, even though it is showing as running. I recently stumbled onto a helpful thread at UbuntuForums that assisted me…

Using the following, you should be able to get Vino back to behaving…

you@machine-name:~$ export DISPLAY=:0.0
you@machine-name:~$ /usr/lib/vino/vino-server &

I find this particularly useful when I am able to SSH in, but can’t VNC…

Hope this helps someone!

-Matt

Stop your laptop from whining at you in Ubuntu…

If you are reading this, chances are you know exactly what I mean when I say “whining laptop”.  If you happened here by chance and are still curious, in short, certain Linux kernels will cause certain notebook hardware to emit a high-pitch whining noise – generally it is low in volume, but at times the frequency can be a tad irritating.

Although there are apparently multiple potential causes for this problem, both times I noticed the squeal, it turned out that the processor C-State was at the root of the problem – this is how I resolve this particular problem.  I re-installed and found myself scouring my notes to find the fix and figured I would be best served to document it here.

Open up your modprobe options file for editing:

ALT+F2, “gksudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/options”

Add the following to the end of your “Options” file opened in the previous step:

“options processor max_cstate=2”

Save changes and exit.

Open up a terminal (Applications->Accessories->Terminal) and enter:

“sudo update-initramfs -u”

Reboot the PC and verify changes by entering the following into a terminal:

“cat /proc/acpi/processor/CPU0/power |grep max_cstate”

If your C-State was indeed the problem, as it has been with me, then you should notice a much quieter PC.

Microsoft no longer forcing Firefox users into “Classic” mode – “Full” version now available to Firefox users!

So, I logged into my Hotmail account (aka the Spam Dump) and was surprised to find that Microsoft has stopped their blocking of Firefox for the “new” mailbox features…  A long time user of Firefox, I have simply accepted the petty tactics of MS against Firefox users (it’s not just them, my bank does it too), but it seems that I no longer have to live my life as a second class Hotmail citizen.

For those with no knowledge of the issue, Microsoft has seemingly singled out Firefox users and prevented them from accessing the “Full” interface to Hotmail’s email service.  Seemingly limited to Firefox, other browsers (IE & Opera – not sure about Safari) have been able to access the full functionality of Hotmail since its initial roll-out.  Hotly debated in various circles, it is widely believed that the limiting of access to the “Full” functionality of Hotmail’s services were based not on browser computability, but instead merely on browser client branding alone (which is why some browser other than MSIE worked, while others did not).

I do not know what brought about the change of heart over at Microsoft – perhaps they are finally finding honey works better than vinegar? – none the less, I am ‘pleased’ (read as indifferent) to see Microsoft has decided that childishly blocking their service’s users from utilizing its full functionality is not a good business move.

Well, off to my sparkling new spam box’s interface!