Friday, December 31, 2010

Free Telecom Reviewed

I guess that by now you've all heard about Free Telecom.

I've been using their SIP services for a while, and thought it would be nice to share my experience with it before things would change in 2011.

So first, I'm an Orange customer, so in order to get the Free Telecom client to work, I need to choose the "IL Orange Internet" access point, as the "3G Portal" access point uses a proxy which blocks non-HTTP traffic.

The client is a bit buggy, but works most of the time, and doesn't seem to drain the battery (compared to other VoIP clients which supports SIP, such as Fring). The SMS UI is nice, and even a bit more useful than the built-in client in my Nokia N95 8GB.

As for call quality: most of the time, when calls are done over WiFi or in places with good 3G reception, the quality is just fine. I'd say it's better than VoIP quality provided by other clients. But, when the 3G signal slightly drop, the call quality drops considerably.
I can't wait to discover whether the quality and service that could be achieved by Nokia's built-in client, outperforms FT's client quality.

The prices are great, and are far cheaper than my plan in Orange. But, keep in mind, it requires a data plan to work out of the range of a WiFi router. So when trying to calculate the total price of a call, one should also consider the price of the data plan.

I guess that things would indeed change in 2011, as Free Telecom got the license to provide MVNO, and this marks the beginning of a new era in mobile communication in Israel.

EDIT: While writing this post, it appears there's an outage with the FT service. I wasn't able to connect to it for a few hours. This isn't not the first time I see this happens, yet it is not very common.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A burnt fuse

Last week's storm has caused more than a few damages around the country. I saw in the news that some people's cars got smashed by trees, and other people's houses got flooded.

For me, the damage was smaller: My subwoofer died. Or so I thought.
Even though my important power outlets are protected with lightning (electricity peaks) protectors, my subwoofer got damaged after a few hours in which the electricity in my home was unstable.

So I thought "here goes an expensive subwoofer". But I was wrong. A few friends brought to my attention that it is most likely that the subwoofer has a burnt fuse, and insisted that I can replace it by myself. So I tried.

Want to know how? Simple. Have a look at this picture. You can see that straight under the power socket, there's a small plastic box which contains a fuse. It comes out easily, with the assistance of a screwdriver, and apparently contains a spare fuse. Would you believe it? A spare fuse?

Amazing. It was up and running in a minute.
For the next time there's gonna be a stormy weather in our little country, I'm going to disconnect that subwoofer.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Firefox Memory Consumption

Lately I read that people complain about Firefox consuming huge amounts of memory, a thing that supposedly happens due to memory leaks. Many such posts claims Chrome behaves much better with memory.

Well, my experience is a bit different. First, I'm a huge Chrome (and Chromium) fan. I like Chrome's interface, speed, ease of extensions development and its security features (soon, a sandbox for Adobe Flash). But, if there's one thing I don't like about it is memory consumption. Using the latest stable version, opening few tabs with Google's own applications (GMail, Reader, Docs) can easily get the browser to consume 500MB on my PC. Firefox, with only two add-ons installed: Firebug and AdBlock, uses less than 200MB for the same set of sites.

It is true that if one leaves Firefox opens for a few consecutive days, it'll eventually consume all of the RAM installed, but this is not the case for me, as I close the browser at least once a day.

Perhaps the fact that I use the 64bit version of the browsers makes the difference. Perhaps its the fact I have only two add-ons installed on Firefox. I don't know. But I don't complain about Firefox's memory consumption, as it is better for me.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Web Development Frameworks - The Survey

Usually, When I want to publish a survey, I do so on my Buzz stream. But this time it's different, as I want the broader exposure this blog has to offer.

In the past few years I got to develop web applications using various frameworks:
  • JSP using both IBM WebSphere and Oracle JDeveloper, utilizing things such as EJB and struts.
  • Oracle ApEx.
  • ASP (yes, the original one).
  • ASP.NET using both Web Forms (yuk) and ASP.NET MVC (yay).
  • Django.
I know my list misses two big ones: PHP and Ruby on Rails. But that's not the issue.
It seems to me, just by reading web development blogs, that PHP, Django (or other Python based frameworks) and Rails has most of the web developers' minds. BUT, when I ask people "what framework are you using", I usually get either "ASP.NET" or "JSP". So perhaps I don't know enough people, or perhaps the web development community in Israel isn't connected to the trends. Or perhaps the "trends" aren't trends at all, rather just buzzwords being used.

I can't tell.

So this post is a survey. Please comment which web development framework are you using or used for the last project you had to develop.
Should the number of responses grow large, I'll publish a post summarizing the findings.

Leaving the Cable Company

For some time now I think: why am I paying for the cable company?

Most of the stuff I watch comes from the web, or comes for free. I'm willing to pay reasonable prices for the rest (VOD), but I find the cable company prices exaggerated.

Yet, I couldn't find a good alternative, until I saw Anona TV yesterday. A single product that doesn't cost a fortune, provides DTT, a streamer (I already own a Popcorn Hour device), and has the ability to order VOD shows. Should they over come geographical restrictions (the ability to watch Hulu only in the US), it's going to be a real blast.

Unfortunately, I'm not part of the beta, so I cannot provide a real review of this, and whether it provides the goods, but it does look promising. If anyone knows a way to get into this beta, or knows a different company offering a similar solution, I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Switching ISP

So finally, after I complained about this topic over and over again, I finally switched from 012 to 018 as my ISP.

Few hours now, and I'm happy. I tried various protocols over various ports, and all seems to work perfectly well. And the price is better, too.

Just a minor thing that I also mentioned to their tech support: their site doesn't provide the configuration details needed in order to set-up the connection alone. Thanks to this guy I found this missing piece of information, which was the L2TP gateway:

Hope this would help to all of you who wish to make the switch.

Nice Exploitation Technique In PDF Files

Warning - security related post. Stay clear if you feel disgusted from Windows Internals and Security.

A friend of mine just posted a great piece about a clever shellcode technique called egghunting. If you're into this kind of stuff, I recommend reading it.

Also, if anyone is interested in some more details about the Adobe Acrobat Reader vulnerability described in the above post, please leave a comment, and I'll dedicate a separate post for that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

No Signal

So the Linkin Park concert was excellent. But I wanted to tell you about this two days ago, when I was there. Not now.

It appears that if 14,000 people gather around in the same park, none of them gets a cellular signal. Probably because the cellular towers around suffers from congestion. Not being able to handle the load, the cellular operators actually lose money. I bet that many fans like myself wanted to Tweet/Buzz/LiveBlog/SMS/Video-chat/whatever during the concert, but couldn't.

I wonder whether mobile cell-towers exists, and if they do - why don't cellular operators station those near crowded places when needed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Build Errors With SubSonic

When programming in C# (MS or Mono, it doesn't matter), and the need for an ORM framework arise, I turn to SubSonic. I enjoy using this framework very much, as it is fast and intuitive, and free (as in speech).

So if you're like me, and you use SubSonic for your model layer, here's an advice: don't name any of your database columns/tables with C# keywords. For example: if you have a DB column named "private", you're gonna have problems.

When building a SubSonic project that doesn't follow the above advice, one would probably get tons of "Expected class, delegate, enum, interface, or struct" in Structs.cs. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wireless, Is It Dangerous?

Just a while ago I posted about the fun of going cordless, and the benefits it bring to my work environment: much less clutter.

Today I finally got my BH-503 bluetooth headset from DealExtreme, and boy do I enjoy it. I use GTalk and Skype A LOT, and not being tied to a microphone makes life better. Sound quality is also very good, and it gets along just fine with my eye-glasses (not a trivial thing with other headsets).

So what's the problem?
The 2.4GHz spectrum near my desk is awfully crowded: wireless mouse, keyboard, WiFi router and two bluetooth devices (smartphone and headset). This gets me thinking: could this be dangerous?
All of the above products came with a disclaimer saying it is perfectly safe to use them, and none of them generates a bad kind of radiation or something. And still, just because I cannot see all those "waves" in the air, I'm a little bit disturbed.

What do you think?

See you all on the Linkin Park concert soon :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Delete Old Log Files On Windows

When administrating Windows hosts I always stumble upon stuff which I imagined should be simple, yet proves complex.
I recall I used to write a Perl script in order to delete log files which are older than X days. Today I found out that Windows servers (XP is not a server, so this doesn't work on XP) has this nice "forfiles" command that assists in doing that in a one-liner, as one could've expect.
Have a look here. This works like a charm

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Going Cordless

My home PC/workstation has almost become my primary PC. I get to use it for pure work for about 30-40 hours a week. This is why the design of my home workspace has become more important for me than before.
I think that people who work with me knows I usually work in a well designed workspace, in which everything is nice and comfortable. The monitor is in the right size, the keyboard is placed in the right place, headphones are available at hand, the desktop (of the real desk) is clean, etc.

Ever since I work more at home, I noticed stuff is not as comfortable as I'm used to from my workplace. After some time I finally realized what bothers me, and made the adjustments:
  1. The correct distance from the monitor. I noticed that I'm actually sitting too far from my monitor, and from the desk as well. Sitting correctly forces me to sit with a "straight" back, not using the arm support of the chair, and strain my eyes less. The monitor should be about arm-reach away.
  2. My desk is now way cleaner.
  3. Cords. For a good reason this is the title of this post. I had tons of cords everywhere. I have so many devices on my desk and around it, that I got out of free USB connections (I have 8 slots). So I decided to go cordless. A bluetooth dongle and a USB hub did the trick. Now, I have a USB hub sitting on my desk, already with different types of cables connected (mini-USB, micro-USB, etc.), ready for devices to be inserted at need. No more USB extension cords. No more bending over to the PC in order to connect something. The next two bullets are about getting rid of non-USB cords.
  4. I love my laptop keyboard very much, and hate standard PC keyboards. I even posted a survey about it a while ago. After a search for a keyboard I'd like, and something cordless, I eventually settled on MS Wireless Desktop 3000. The mouse is big and solid, and not some toy-ish mouse, and the keyboard is soft and ergonomic and also reminds me of my laptop keyboard. I don't care about the rest of the functionality provided. The USB dongle required is tiny, and doesn't need an "eye" within the range of the keyboard, like other wireless keyboards. This is a big plus, since it doesn't require any cord to be stretched from the PC to the desk.
  5. Bluetooth headset. I hate my current headset. It has a cable that splits to the green and pink input jacks on the soundcard (speakers and microphone), and I can't stand up during work, to stretch myself, without accidentally pulling the cable. Now I await a DealExtreme delivery of Nokia BH-503, so I could go cordless in this field as well.
  6. Finally, a good, fast, WiFi router (supports N spec) is installed, so whenever I want to get away from the wires and the noise, and sit in my porch - I can.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Get Things Done

Recently I felt a huge decrease in my productivity. I noticed I'm trying to work on too many things at once, and not achieving anything. Moreover, I had to deal with a lot of pressure at work, while filling in the job of 2-3 people at once, while trying to cope with helping younger teammates to solve their own problems.

Actually, being distracted by teammates' questions can be a huge set back for productivity, as it breaks concentration when they approach you, and after 15 minutes, when I'm finally back in the zone, they break it again.

So I published this short survey on Buzz (which is a great tool for surveys) asking what other people do in order to stay concentrated and get things done.

The obvious answers were already known and implemented by me: put the headphones on, get away from everybody, etc.

Other answers were to manage a TODO list, and close any application that might distract you (GMail, RSS reader, IM, etc.). Even though I had those things in my mind for a while, I decided it's time to give it a go.
Boy was I surprised. My productivity peaked back to the top.

Now I allow myself to chat with people and "clear" my RSS list only after completing tasks. Every new task I get, and not only work related, is written down instead of being "managed" in my head. The reduction of tasks "managed" in my head really helps, and whenever I finish doing something, I revert to the list and mark something as DONE. The feeling is great, and there's a bonus: chatting or reading interesting blogs.

The TODO list is managed in a very simple manner: a Google Doc. And when I'm not near a computer: via my Nokia's task list, which is later sync'd to the Google Doc.
Another bonus: having everything managed, helps dealing with unpredictable tasks (aka BALTAM in Hebrew), since being distracted wastes less time when trying to get back on track. The proof for the system being successful is that ever since I started using is, I have more time to blog :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Keyboard is Faster

Do you know this guy that uses only VIM? Did he already told you he uses VIM because you can achieve everything using just the keyboard? No?

At the times I'm not at home/office, or at the times I want to watch the beautiful sunsets from my porch, I work using my laptop, instead of a regular PC. While I like the laptop keyboard far better than a regular keyboard, I hate the touch-pad. It's just not usable.

So whenever I work with my laptop, I get to learn some new keyboard shortcuts, since it is the only thing that keeps me sane.
Recently things got a lot better, since I started using the keyboard shortcuts provided by Google's products, especially GMail and Reader.

While GMail keyboard shortcuts requires you to turn them on via the settings, you get those for free in Reader. If you can't remember a shortcut, simply press "?", and you'll get a nice popup reminding you whatever there is you need to know.
What I like best in the combinations they chose, is that they remind me the shortcuts of UNIX utilities (yes, VIM included). I guess this was intended, and I'm thankful for that.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

So What's On Your Reading List

I had this post in my mind of quite some time, but couldn't find the time to write it. Good thing there are holidays.

Finding great people for hire is difficult. More than once an employer would be looking for people which are interested in what they do, and not just good at it. Such people would usually be more passionate at work, and work harder and better that others.

One technique not many employers are utilizing, is asking what's on the RSS reading list of the potential employee. Come to think about it, it's a great way to see what the person is passionate about.
It doesn't mean that if one goes to an interview at some company that does media streaming, should read media-streaming blogs. But if the person is going to be a programmer, and happens to be reading Coding Horror, that's a great plus.

A thing I like very much in my current workplace (M86 Security) is that we have a must-read reading list. That means that every team member receives an OPML file on the first day on the job that contains stuff that he must read on a daily basis.
This helps turning the team members into pro's, and will certainly help the company and our future careers.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Working With ToR In Python

I bet I'm not the first one who ever needed to write a script that downloads something via ToR.
Apparently, there isn't much information regarding how to request a new identity or how to use the ToR proxy in Python. So here's a gift from me to the world.

First, while not necessary, I always use a new ToR identity prior to download something through the ToR network. The code looks like:

import socket
def renewTorIdentity():
success = False
s = socket.socket()
s.connect(('localhost', 9051))
resp = s.recv(1024)
if resp.startswith('250'):
s.send("signal NEWNYM\r\n")
resp2 = s.recv(1024)
if resp.startswith('250'):
success = True
return success

That would work assuming "authentication" is set to none in the Vidalia control panel.
After having a new identity, downloading a file is really simple, as Vidalia comes bundled with privoxy configured on port 8118. Here's a sample code for downloading something:

import urllib2
url = "http://something-to-download"
proxy_support = urllib2.ProxyHandler({"http" : ""})
opener = urllib2.build_opener(proxy_support)
opener.addheaders = [('User-agent', 'Mozilla/5.0')]
response =
That's it. Simple.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Blog Day 2010

After missing it last year, and in one day delay this year, I'm celebrating today the blog day.

So here is my list of recommended blogs, not ordered by any specific order:
  • Miguel De Icaza - While it is popular to hate MS technologies, I do think mono is a great thing and its founder a very smart person.
  • Paul Graham - The father of Y-Combinator. While not exactly a blog, this one is really interesting and insightful, especially to would-be entrepreneurs.
  • Doc's blog - Did it ever happen to you that you met someone with much to contribute to the world (in terms of blogging, but not only), that just didn't reach their potential (yet)? Well, I hope that this post will make Doc to publish more of his clever insights and musings.
  • Lessons Learned - Yet another must read for would-be entrepreneurs. Nothing I can add here.
  • ZuLL - Well, I can't deny the fact I'm part of the security industry in Israel, and Guy writes about interesting stuff.
Still, looking a bit back, it seems I removed more blogs from my reading list, than I added. I really hope I'll come across new and better ones this year, so I'll have novel things to recommend on next year.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My 5 Cents On Oracle vs Google

This seems to be the hottest topic in the past two days: Oracle sues Google over some JVM patents.
Long story short: When Sun GPL'd Java, it did so only for the standard JVM. The mobile version requires every mobile device vendor to license (=pay Sun) its usage.
So Nokia paid, and so did others, but Google wanted more. Google wanted the standard JVM. And here starts the problems: the standard JVM license doesn't allow a company to create a superset (nor a sunset) of the JVM. What does that mean? That each JVM must pass Sun's testing kit that verifies the newly created JVM behaves just like Sun's.

So instead of settling for the standard JVM, or license the ME, Google decided to create their own JVM. Only it is not a JVM, rather a superset of it. But that's forbidden, so Google solved it quite cleverly - they created a totally different VM. The Dalvik VM isn't bytecode compatible with Sun's, and implements parts of the JVM that would have never pass Sun's tests. In order for developers to migrate from one VM to another, the code must be either recompiled or use a special tool that converts the bytecode.

Now that Oracle owns Sun, Oracle does what's good for Oracle, which means pursue their patents. I bet they're expecting Google to pay some ransom in order to keep this story from exploding, and scare developers back to iPhone development. But if Google would do so, it'll give Oracle a case to actually pursue every mobile phone vendor that uses Android, and it'll be very bad for Google.

Some suggest Google would opt to use a different VM, such as Mono, but I seriously doubt it. Not only because C# sounds like "Microsoft .NET" (a thing which I completely disagree with), but because developers are expecting them to keep the same language they use today, so they won't need to learn a new language and slow down their development cycle, even for a little while.

This does raise another issue: the Maemo, Meego and other Linux-based mobile OSes can theoretically run the standard JVM, but Oracle won't allow it, since it wants mobile devices to use the ME (this is where the money is). Does this mean we can expect to see Java on those devices? Or could Mono be the answer here?

As for those people asking "why would Sun/Oracle charge only for the JVM ME usage, and not for the other versions", here's what I think: A good software company would like to make the developer's life as easy and cheap as possible. So the JVM on the desktop (the development machine) is free, and so does for the server (for web applications). The price of the ME rolls over to the end-user, which is best for developers. For comparison, both Apple and MS charge high prices on both ends.

Monday, July 26, 2010

M86 Security Is Hiring

Just in case you missed my Buzz feed and the official job offering in LinkedIn, here it is: M86 Security (formerly Finjan) is hiring in Israel. The company is looking for Security Researchers, Software Engineer and Testing Engineers.

You can go over the job description in the official web site.

In case you are interested in more details or just want to apply for one of the jobs, you can contact me.

Good luck.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Browsers in my toolbox

Like with other products, the web browsers market is full with flame wars. Many people claim they use browser X, and that this is the best browser ever, and everyone should use it.

For me this is not the case. As a developer and a heavy user i use at least two different browsers every day. I cannot choose a winner when comparing them, and cannot give up on any. Both are a MUST for me.

Google Chrome/Chromium
I like Chrome because it is lightning fast, lightweight (loads in a sec), works perfectly smooth on a weak laptop (and its battery) and it is also safer (process isolation, less bugs) and more stable than any other browser. Most of my web surfing is done on Chrome.

For me, Firefox isn't a fox, but rather a horse. It carries the real heavy load of my web development. Tons of mature web extensions makes my life much easier when developing stuff. Examples for useful extensions would be FireBug and SwitchProxy. Also, I love the directions this browser is headed to.

For me, this richness of those two browsers is great, and I'd love to keep using them both, without having to choose a winner.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A small issue with Google Docs

Here's something interesting that happened to me last week. A friend of mine has shared with me a folder from his Google Docs. Like with other shared folder, I was supposed to see it under "folders shared with me", but I didn't. Instead, it showed me a "No folders shared with you" message and when we both edited a doc, we saw one another as "anonymousXXXX".

So from where does the problem coming from, and how to solve it? Simple. Apparently, he shared the folder with a Google Group which I'm a member in, and not directly with me, and Google Docs doesn't make the connection. The solution is simple - have people shared folders directly with you.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


After a very busy period, me and my wife had been in a honeymoon in Italy.
What can I say, Italy is beautiful. We've seen many the kinds of scenery that Italy has to offer: Dangerous roads that leads to mountain passes, amazing lakes (such that make great desktop backgrounds), castles and churches, the endless fields of Tuscany, Venice and much more.
The only caveat with such a trip is that one must get back to work now... :(

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ask Me, But cc:everybody

Every now and then one of my friends asks me a question which I'd prefer to respond to publicly. What does that mean? It means I think that others could benefit from the answer to the question as well.

Up until now there were several ways to do so:
  1. Answer the question in private, and answer it again every time someone else would ask it.
  2. Write the entire question and answer story in this blog.
  3. Use some service such as Google Buzz for the entire conversation.
None of these solutions really fits the need. Now, a friend of mine created this simple, yet brilliant, application, called CC:Everybody.

The idea is simple: you can send me an email to Mosh at, and if I choose to reply to it, the answer appears publicly in the site. Also, I can publish mails I already have in my mailbox to CC:Everybody without that first step.

There's a short video on the site which explains exactly how this service works.
So now, if any of you guys want to ask me again why do I think Mercurial is better than SVN, you're welcome, just remember to address my CCEverybody account.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Getting PS3 games without bankrupting

It is a well known fact that PlayStation 3 games in Israel costs a fortune. This is probably the reason why there are so many few PS3 consoles in Israel compared to other consoles which can be cracked and run copied games. Of course the last claim is only an estimate of mine, but take a look around you and tell me if you feel otherwise.

Take for example one of the more popular games for all of the consoles and the PC: Assassin's Creed 2 (and try to forget the long DRM debate around it). Most stores sell it at a crazy price of over 400 NIS. That's over 110$ for a game which costs about 50-60$ in the rest of the world. About 100% more.

Finally, I was able to find a decent store in Israel that sells games at sane prices: PCGames. They sell AC2 at 250 NIS, which is roughly 65$. What a difference! AC2 is not an exception. You can go through their inventory and see. Almost half the price on all games.

So I ordered myself AC2 and God of War 3 at a price that in other stores would get me only one game, PLUS, there was a free delivery straight to my home/office via a courier. How awesome is that?

Obviously, I recommend everyone to buy games only at stores that gives fair prices, and don't take 100% "interest" just because they can.
Oh, and I also recommend AC2. Don't buy it for PC because of the awful DRM engine, instead get it for your console. It is a great game.

Bezeq Customer? Check Your Internet Speed

In our little country, people are already used to get bad service from the big media providers (TV, ISP, cellphone, etc.). Here's a story.

My wife's parents live in a moshav in the Galilee area. For a few years now they have been paying for a 2.5Mbps Internet connection both to Bezeq and to the ISP. A few weeks ago I noticed that Israeli sites loads pretty slow, so I did a speed test. Unsurprisingly, I found out the the connection was 750kbps.

Upset, we've called Bezeq. After doing some tests they declared that the line in the moshav doesn't support the 2.5Mbps connection speed, and this is the reason the result returns 750kbps.
So we asked the representative (actually, more than one) over the phone "why would they sell a 2.5Mbps service in places where it's not even supported". Bezeq's answer was evasive, to say the least. Moreover, they asked why do we complain only now when the situation is like that for years (?!). For years. So Bezeq knows the 2.5Mbps isn't supported, and was never supported, and yet keeps selling the service.

A money refund was given for the past few months (since February), and that's it.

Actually, this is the second time I encounter a similar issue. About a year ago I noticed at my brother's apartment that the phone line is a bit noisy (the apartment is in a city near Tel Aviv). So I did a speed test and found out that while he's paying for 4Mbps, he receives 1.5Mbps. The technician over the phone said that we're right and that someone will come and replace the phone wiring in the building. Yet again, Bezeq knew (from remote) that the speed being paid for isn't available, and yet kept charging for the higher speed.

My advice to you: If you're a Bezeq ADSL customer - Check your Internet connection speed.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sparsing my reading list

Here's a phenomena you all know: you search the web for some info or answers regarding some issues you have. While doing so, you come across a blog that looks interesting and that provides the answer you seek. After wondering around in that blog you decide to add it to your RSS aggregator.

Few months later, you try to read the stuff queued in your reading list, and don't understand why is it that you have a "1000+" label saying you're gonna spend your entire day sorting it out.

Some of the blogs you're subscribed to are no longer relevant to you anymore. Others has changed direction and now you don't find them interesting. There are other cases as well.
This is a good time to use the unsubscribe feature of the RSS aggregator.

This is exactly what I do today. I no longer need to follow all of those KDE related blogs. I don't develop anything for KDE anymore, and I barely use it.

The "holes in the net blog" ceased from being interesting. Now it's just full of marketing stuff and social media topics.
Other subscriptions will be removed as well. Finally, I can focus on what's important.

But hey, don't unsubscribe from this blog, OK?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stuff that annoyed me this week

I know it's not nice to write a blog post which is full of complaints, but every once in a while we all need to take out some steam. So no long prolog needed:
  1. I simply hate the Windows Vista/Seven shutdown menu. At least once a week I put my computer into sleep instead of rebooting, or vice versa. Other variations occur as well. What were they thinking?
  2. In the previous post I mentioned the fact that upgrading isn't always good, and some trouble might occur, even if the newer version is considered "stable". In my life and work I get to use every OS out there, and that includes Windows XP and Windows 7. A few weeks ago both of them got an upgraded NVidia driver. Grrr. After days of irregular blue screens I was able to trace the issue to the drivers, and revert them to a previous version (thanks, Driver Sweeper). BTW, instead of trying to figure out Windows' minidump (those files created after a BSOD), I found a great tool called WhoCrashed. I get to use WinDBG too much in my work, so not having to use it at home in order to parse those minidumps was really nice.
  3. What's with the electric power stability in my living area? I think that about once or twice a week there's a power outage. Some parts of my house are already protected by power stabilizers, I guess now is the time to protect the rest.
Epilog: I just ordered a kick ass 50" FullHD screen. It should arrive sometime next week. It should fit well with some of the equipment I already have in my living room. So the finale of this post is happy. :)

Issues with Transmission and PopcornHour

Not a long time ago I've upgraded my PCH A110 firmware to the latest version. Also, I've upgraded the Transmission (bittorrent) client to version 1.91 (and later on to 1.92). Ever since those upgrades, I had issues with torrents: every few hours or so the Transmission client decided it should "verify" the torrent and the downloaded data. This process consumes a considerable amount of time, which slows down torrents download time to crawl.

The best solution I found so far was to downgrade the Transmission client back to version 1.76 using the NMT CSI. Now everything works perfectly, thought the new feature of 1.9X are missing.

Just like every other piece of software: upgrade doesn't mean you're getting a better product. Sometime it means you're part of the testing of the newer version. Nonetheless, I'd be happy to install the next version when it comes out.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Stay sharp, get offline

Often I find myself being too lazy when trying to solve an issue, so I copy-paste the error message or type the error description into Google, and press "Search". For over 90% of the problems, that's enough.

Sometimes I think that in order to improve my skills, I'm better off taking the old-school way, and dig for the solution all by myself. This means finding the source of the problem and the solution without any Internet access. This would usually require a bigger understanding of the system and problem in question.

After doing so, there's a great feeling of accomplishment, and it's fun to publish the solution on the blog, StackOverflow or other sites.

The always-on Internet has changed our lives, as it made us both smarter and dumber at the same time. What do you say? Would you try and get back, even only once in a while, to solve problems without the Internet?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cannot debug ASP.NET in Visual Studio

Today I stumbled upon a curious bug while developing some ASP.NET code using Visual Studio 2005: the debugger didn't work. What "didn't work" means? It completely ignored the breakpoints within the code.

After messing around with this issue for a while, I discovered that the issue is actually with IE8 (?!). If there was an instance of IE8 running prior to the debugging process, the breakpoints will be ignored.

Solution: close the IE8 window, and press F5 again in Visual Studio. Viola, now the breakpoints break.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Remote Assistant

I mentioned in the previous post that my parent's PC was broken, and that I had to put quite a few hours to get it back to normal working state.
This isn't the first time that I've provided support for their PC or the PC of some other family member of mine, and probably not the last. I guess every geek finds himself as the "family tech support".

When my brother's computer breaks down, I usually start a remote desktop session using the IM client, and solve the issue. Now, I want to have the same ability with my parents, only this time it must be done with zero interaction on their side. I want to be able to call my mom, and tell her to turn on the PC. That's it. No confirmation dialogs, no chat and no nothing.

This is why I installed on their PC the free version of LogMeIn. It starts as a service, supports wake-up-on-LAN and doesn't require any router configuration. Problem is that the user experience on my end isn't very good. Performance lag even on a 2.5Mbps line. Maybe it's a price I have to pay, or maybe there are better services which does the same and I'm not aware of.

A final tip for this post: most non-techie-parents will do just fine with a limited computer account (when using Windows/Linux). There really isn't a good reason for them to use a privileged account just for browsing the web and using Skype.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Issues wasting my time

First and foremost, since I set the integration feature between Google Buzz and my Blogger account, I wonder whether this post will also appear in my Buzz stream (for those who follow me). If so, readers have the ability to choose whether they want to use simple RSS/Atom following using a feed aggregator, or following via Buzz using whatever UI Google/3rd-parties are going to come up with.

Enough said about that, I'm wasting my evening trying to fix my parents' PC. It's 3.5 yrs old, but already behaves as if it's six. By now, it appears the DVD-RW drive is broken, one memory stick is corrupted, there are bad sectors on the HDD, and the NVidia graphics card is also misbehaving. Thankfully, I set-up on this computer a partition with Ubuntu a long time ago (now it's 8.10), and it became very valuable, as it provides memtest86+ and other tools which were used to diagnose all of those issues. Too bad most are hardware issues that cannot be easily fixed like software issues.

Other than that, I spent a few hours tagging all of the faces in my Picasa, so I can easily find pictures of people. The "People" feature in Picasa is very neat and works impressively well.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Places to get infected

When it comes to humans, people might get infected in a virus while it is carried over the air. This means that there are places which are more susceptible for infections then the others, due to being crowded or contain many ill people.

With computer viruses, the situation is a little different. Put an infected computer near a "healthy" computer, and nothing will happen.

Today I was at the photo-printing shop with my disk-on-key. Nothing special, as we all print photos this way nowadays. When I got back home my DoK contained 7 new unrecognized .exe files, and an "autorun.inf" file. Hmmm... I don't remember putting those there. A quick virus scan, and viola, 7 torjans/droppers/viruses found their way to the DoK in the few minutes it was mounted at the computer at the photo-printing shop. Good thing I'm safe, but I guess many other get infected after printing their photos in this store. Ouch.