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I was able to convince my wife to allow me to purchase a Mac Mini yesterday. Her argument was that we have too many computers at home already and don’t need another one. That’s very true, we have way too many laptops and old PCs. Plus 2 IBM servers (or jet engines if they are on.) That is too much for a household of 4. My argument that we needed an always on machine able to handle backups for our numerous machines and serve up family photos won out in the end. We headed to the Apple store in Valley Fair and was able to go home with one immediately.

At home, I had a little bit of a hard time setting it up. The main problem was I had an old bluetooth keyboard (thanks Albert) and a bluetooth magic mouse. The Mini booted up fine but would not detect either device. I ended up having to pair and unpair the devices with one of my laptops, then leave the devices directly on top of the Mac Mini before they were able to be detected.

The mouse was detected first and I had a bit of trouble with the keyboard too, but ultimately it paired successfully and I was able to boot.

As far as getting it setup for remote access and Time machine backups, I will update detailed info when I finish that tonight.

I saw a great deal recently on a 64GB Kingston SSD drive and I purchased one to install as a second HDD on my older (Early 2008) Macbook Pro.

The installation was fine, I removed the optical drive and got a tray which allowed me to install the SSD as a second HDD drive.

OS X installation went fine, but after booting, I had problems when closing the lid. After closing the lid, the computer would not go to sleep. Opening the lid again would not wake the display.

After taking it to the Genius Bar in Palo Alto, he (Chris?) took one look and checked the system profiler’s Serial-ATA bus. The SSD apparently was not on the SATA bus. It was under the ATA bus. This makes sense because the Optical drive was still ATA back then.

I’m going to go home tonight and swap the SSD to the main bay. This may not solve my issue though, because the main HDD is SATA as well. If that’s the case, I may end up having to use a remotely mounted NAS drive. I got the SSD mainly for the quicker boot up, but I may either have to give up the higher local storage capacity, or get a hybrid drive.

*sigh* Upgrades are never simple.

Update: Looks like having the boot drive in the main bay allows the Macbook Pro to sleep properly. I think it has to do with the way the ATA bus shuts down. When I switched the HDD positions, on sleep, the spindle shut off rather abruptly. I couldn’t notice it before on the SSD because there are no moving parts. After I moved the boot drive to the main bay using StartupDisk, the machines goes to sleep and wakes up just fine. Finally.

I don’t know why, but I get conscripted every now and then to put up random easter eggs in our internal website. Recently our execs served the rank and file breakfast and someone took a picture and asked me to put it up. I decided to put in some rotating quotes that change at random.

Since I could not (did not want) to figure out how the bugzilla template system worked, I did the rotator in JS/HTML. I wanted it to allow easy updates of any extra quotes and for it to rotate from the selection randomly. The code is below:

<script type="text/javascript">
var quotes = [ 'What would you like on your sandwich?', 'Regular eggs or extra cheesy eggs?', 'How about some honey lawyer juice?' ];
var i = 0;
i = ((i + Math.ceil(Math.random() * (quotes.length - 1))) % quotes.length);
setInterval(function() { i = ((i + Math.ceil(Math.random() * (quotes.length - 1))) % quotes.length); document.getElementById('sandwich_quote').innerHTML = quotes[i]; }, 4500 );
document.getElementById('sandwich_quote').innerHTML = quotes[i];

A simple Math.random would not guarantee that each quote would be different during rotation, so by adding a number equal to the length of the quotes array (less 1 for zero indexing), and then modulo the quotes.length, gives us a guaranteed different quote each time the interval fires.

The weather this entire summar and fall has been rather odd. We had really cold temperatures during June and July and caught a big stretch of warm weather in late August. Mother Nature even psyched out a pear tree I had planted this spring into thinking that it had already wintered. I got white pear blossoms on my grafted asian pear tree.

After waiting most of October and the first week of November thinking, “There’s no way Heavenly will open the slopes by Nov. 19th.” The first cold front of the 2010 winter has arrived. Clear blue skies have been replaced with a serious winter storm as shown by the picture below: .

That’s fine by me though. I have spent the last 5 years getting out of shape, and it’s high time for me to hit the slopes with a vengeance this season.

For anyone who still doesn’t have a season pass yet, Heavenly bought Northstar-at-tahoe and the $379 Heavenly pass is good for all three resorts (Sierra-at-tahoe is included too). If you want to save $20 on your Heavenly Season Pass, use the link above and submit your first name and email for a referral.

Update: Here’s a quick look at the aftermath after the weekend’s storm. .

Affiliate marketing is a great way for enterprising entrepreneurs to start earning money on a very small start up budget. The easiest program I am familiar with is the eBay Partner Network program. It was originally administered by Commission Junction but has since Apr/May of 2009 moved in house. They have also taken a lead in the industry by moving to Click Quality pricing. This means they factor in a bunch of variables and pay out based on the quality of the traffic received. Originally, (and still predominant in the industry, payments were made to the last affiliate click before the buyer converted. This means any prior affiliates that “touched” the buyer only served to prime them for the sale.

“Thin affiliate” sites are so called because they exist only to send traffic to the destination program and have little or no added value to the user. Most thin affiliates are adept at throwing up quickly built (or robotized) sites, posting links in related forums and then simply waiting while they get picked up by a search engine for some free traffic. This is highly frowned upon by both affiliate programs and search engines as it is hard to argue that value is created for anyone in the chain.

This following site for used and jailbroken cellphones has an interesting value-add for visitors. By graphing the closed sales count and providing histograms of individual product sales, users can easily see what product is popular and the range of previous sale prices. This makes it easier for visitors to decide what to pay for a product, and even to choose which product is better for them. Of course, this site could do one better and provide some more detailed analysis and show how some keywords in the title affect the ending price. For example, adding “broken” or “parts only” to a listing title probably drives a marked decrease in the sales price. On the other hand, “factory unlocked” or “AT&T” will probably have a different effect on the sales price.

What other ways can you think of to add value for the buyer?

I had an interesting experience this weekend when a Kenmore 106.5 fridge my uncle owned stopped cooling. The funny thing was, the freezer was working fine. After doing some quick google searches, it seemed that some other people were having the same problem around the same 4 year mark. After messing around with the damper and finding that it works fine, I pulled off the plastic backing in the freezer and noticed that the air flow was extremely low. That made me suspect that flow of air is blocked. Taking off the light bulb and removing 6 1/4″ hex screws let me remove the metal sheeting which covers the heat exchanger. As soon as I lifted the bottom of the sheeting, the fan noise significantly lowered and I knew that I had found the source of the problem. The bottom of the coils were frosted over completely and thus was blocking the air flow. We turned off the fridge and went to work with a hair dryer. Making sure to cover the bottom with some towels because I didn’t want the pan to overflow and ruin the flooring, we quickly defrosted the coils and the unit is now working fine.

For a while now, when I opened up my Zend Studio editor, my PHP Explorer window started up in a sub-directory of one of my projects. I had since removed that project so it kept coming up with an empty (and un-navigable) PHP Explorer window. After doing some searching and head scratching, I figured out how to change this.

Open up the Navigator (since you can’t go anywhere) and find a folder that you want the PHP Explorer to start in. Right click on the folder and select “Open in a New Window”. Now, close the old window with the broken or incorrect start up folder. That’s it. When you close the remaining window, the next time you start up Zend Studio, the PHP Explorer will start in the folder you selected.

Having played with my new iPad for over a week, I have come to the conclusion that while it may not yet replace the laptop, it creates a new category of tech devices.

The large format screen and familiar iPhone OS were easy to get acquainted with. The touch interface and keyboard is much easier to thumb type with. The A4 CPU feels much faster and scrolling is quite smooth. I am still trying out different apps to find what works well for my needs but so far the redesigned mail application is truly an experience.

Netflix has a free application for the iPad and iPhone that allows subscribers to watch their instant watch library via the app. It is a great way to watch movies on the go or without turning on a computer. The built in Youtube app is also great for those who like independent content.

Drawing programs are another breed of fun applications. There are many to choose from, but a good price to feature app is ArtStudio. The $0.99 price belies the advanced features found on this app. With layer support (up to 3 layers), brushes and image import/export, you can save to your photos or email them to others.

News readers are another really excellent group of apps. Many newspapers have free apps allowing easy access to their content. I haven’t gotten a chance to check out most of them, but the WSJ app is pretty nice. The interface takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it is far superior to searching thru the printed version. SkyGrid is another news aggregator and allows searching multiple sources for recent news.

Back to the post topic. WordPress is a popular blogging software (which powers this blog), and this post is being written on their iPad app. The app is open source as well, so if you are interested in developing iPhone/iPad apps, you can start by checking out the code. My complaint about this app is the save feature is a little broken. This is my third attempt at writing this post. When you click the home button, it seems to recover your changes, but when you hit save, it reverts to the older version. So hit Save before you go play a tune.


Our marketing department at will be posing a
challenge question at an event later this month. Since I know
pretty much none of my readers (all 2 of them) will be there to
participate, I wanted to put this question to the general public.
How many Campbell Biology textbooks (11.2″ x 9.3″ x 2″) can you fit
in a cardboard box (46′ x 22′ x 9′) ? Note: There is 1 answer, but
many approximations. I’m looking for your answer and the way you
solved for the answer. -Huey
$ n

I was recently looking at different opportunities and saw a quite a few great companies doing wonderful things. Among them is Cooliris, previously known as PicLens. Their flagship product is a browser plugin which allows a very enticing scrolling view of media files. Images, videos, and music scroll by on the screen in an endless wall. Clicking on an image will zoom in to a higher resolution photo and a video file will zoom in and start playing. Needless to say this is a pretty cool little tool, but it’s a plugin which means the download stops a lot of potential users. But wait, they have a flash embed file which allows any website to embed the same experience on any web page! Let’s see how we can use this to show off our photos. continue reading…