Home Audio System Update

Our speakers should be here by Friday which means that we can start installing everything. Very exciting. Unfortunately the person who was supposed to pull the wires is in Florida doing hurricane related work. Luckily, one of his colleagues is available to do the work. There is a ton to do as we have 9 pair of speakers, 8 controllers, and 3 audio sources. My dad is going to help me cut in the boxes for the controllers. Maybe next week we will be well underway with this. I didn’t realize the scope of this project until recently. I have a ton of equipment on my floor and just got a box of Cat 6 wire today. As part of this work, I’m upgrading our home network to Gigabit ethernet. I’ll try to post pictures (if I remember) as things progress.

Macs on Intel and DRM

I’ve seen rants lately that have been complaining about Apple putting DRM (digital rights management) into their Intel based Macs such as the Developer Transition Kits some developers have “rented”. The complaints are that Apple should allow people to run OS X on any old Intel based machine. I think that this idea is a complete mistake and am happy that Apple is going to lock down the OS to their hardware. There are a number of reasons for this. First off, by having Apple control the hardware and the software, things just work better. Second, from a troubleshooting point of view, there are already enough combinations of Macs and OS versions, that adding any old Intel hardware would make supporting products a nightmare (look at how much trouble Windows users have). The rants are just short sighted; who cares if Apple is moving to Intel from a consumer’s point of view? The consumer just wants a Mac and doesn’t care what processor it runs. Developers care as they have to do work to support it. All I can say, is “give me a break” and I hope that Apple doesn’t change its stance and let OS X run on generic Intel hardware.

Automated Telephone Menu Systems

I received mail from Time Warner Cable thanking me for being a business class customer for a year and offered me a free 2 Mbps upgrade. So, I called the toll free number and tried to navigate through the menus to claim my “prize”. After the system hung up on me the first time, I tried again. Next time, I got it to connect me to the Desert Cities office which isn’t where I am. So I called my local office (I memorized the phone number a long time ago) and after miss navigating the first time, I tried again and managed to get a person in sales. I asked for business class sales and he gave me the same phone number I already tried. He them transferred me to a live person who then asked for my zip code and transferred me to my “local” rep. The local rep answered (obviously on a cell phone) and asked if I was transferred to the number or I called it. He said he’d call me back when he gets in the office.

While I really like the service and have only had a few hours of downtime in the last year, talking to a human who has a clue is nearly impossible. We’ll see if I get my upgrade (I’m not sure I will as all residential and home business customers got upgraded from 3 MBps down to 5 MBps down earlier this year. Maybe I can convince them to give me a free upgrade to better upstream bandwidth.)

Company Recommendations

People keep asking me for recommendations on vendors such as general contractors, places to buy stuff, etc. So I started a web page with some of my recommendations. I’ll try to keep updating it as I encounter more companies that provide excellent service, prices, and quality.

One week of blogging

I’ve now been blogging for a week and must say that it is kind of neat to be able to write what’s on my mind and not have to bug my wife. I don’t expect my ramblings to be very interesting to anyone, but at least I can get things off my mind.

Email Spam

Email spam, as everyone knows, has gotten completely out of hand. I use a system called DSPAM which works amazingly well. However, today I decided to upgrade to the latest version. The configuration on the program is a royal nightmare. I wanted to remove the hacks I put in place for retraining false positives as they’re hard to maintain each time I upgrade. This turned out to be a loser proposition. After several hours trying to find hints on the net and reconfiguring, I finally gave up and put my hacks back in. (Basically the web CGI for re-training doesn’t seem to work right and puts the mail into a blackhole instead of delivering it.) If anyone knows an easy way to install DSPAM on Linux with sendmail, please let me know. However, I want to invoke it with procmail and not directly from sendmail as I want the ability to have certain filters act on mail before DSPAM gets it; DSPAM wants to classify certain senders as spam even though I know they’re not.)

Update on Sirius radio

After discussing my complaint about Sirius radio with someone else today, I realized that while my complaint is still valid, overcoming it is extremely hard. Sirius is a one way broadcast and there is no way for the receiver to tell the broadcast that it missed some day. However, there still must be a way to handle this without all the dropouts.

Server Downtime this morning

My server was offline for a few hours this morning due to no fault of my own. My cable provider had some network issues that finally got resolved by around 8 am. I called them (Time Warner Cable) around 6:15 am when I woke up and discovered the issue. When I spoke to the help desk, the tech (national help desk) was pretty useless. He ran the standard diagnostics, but luckily didn’t ask me to reboot my computer as I know that would have been a waste of time. I specifically asked if their were network problems and he said he didn’t know of any. I received a call around 10:15 am from a tech in the local office and he said that they resolved the problem around 9:45 am. I appreciate getting calls back from them when I have issues, however, when I call and speak to the national help desk, they’re not always helpful. Overall, I’m pleased with Time Warner as a provider…they just need to give their techs updates on network issues.

User Interface

Yesterday I had the privilege (or was it?) of having Missing Sync for Palm OS reviewed by a user interface guru at Apple. He had some good ideas on how we can improve the user interface that I think will be quite beneficial to the product. It is quite intimidating having the product I’ve been working on for more than a year and a half critiqued and ripped apart. After thinking about some of the things said, I have to respectfully disagree with some of the comments made as there isn’t one type of user interface for all applications and even Apple’s own applications seem to contradict many of the things the guru said.

I really appreciated the time that was spent reviewing the app; however, it was only slightly more enjoyable than going to the dentist.