Should I upgrade to OSX Mountain Lion?

Yep. It’s only $20. What’s so hard about that?



As a country, we need to think about what made us great a generation or two ago. What is it about America that caused a politician running on “hope” to gain so much ground when he really didn’t offer up much substance?

The problem is our particular set of cultural priorities. We have gone from a country that worked hard, understood devotion and sacrifice and was willing to earn our way, to a country of victims, whining about what we don’t have while not even realizing what gluttons we really are.

I know this post doesn’t seem very positive yet, but it’s because there are some really negative things taking place in our society. Our schools are becoming training grounds for entitled, self-indulgent losers that live only to mooch off the system. Universities and churches are overlooking the abuse of children to avoid a scandal and protect ball teams. Politicians pander to the lazy and to special interest groups for votes, then ignore what is right, or what their constituents want, in favor of some huge corporation that lined their pockets on the campaign trail. Some religious groups rally against freedom fighters and soldiers while others try to brow-beat people with the bible when they’d be better off appealing to their humanity.

All these negative things, one way or the other, will eventually work together to change our society: either through collapse from within or by people becoming so disgusted that they activate change.

Positivity and hope can come when we change our focus from entertainment and entitlement back to work and innovation. There’s nothing innovative about a university football team. A professor of mine said that “a university is a forum for the exchange of ideas.” I agree and I think football is not an idea, nor is it a worthy educational pursuit. This applies to all the meaningless fluff that has invaded our educational system. We would be much better-served to place those pursuits in the private sector and left to the scrutiny of the free enterprise system, while our educational efforts focus on the arts and sciences.

“Arts?”, you ask. Yes. Every tool you use to do your job, every recipe you cook, everything you use to perform the thousands of tasks you do each day was designed. It may have components that were engineered for their function, but nothing is functional without form.

If you need an explanation for Sciences, I’m afraid there may not be much hope for you.

My point is that with concentration on the right things, our society can begin to innovate again. Work has become something we do until we can be entertained again. Few people care about what they do because they’ve been raised to think that playing games is more important than bringing real value to the lives of others.

In order to make these changes we need to make changes in our systems, our politics and our way of thinking. The government leaders in charge today have a remarkable opportunity to change the way of life for every American. They can come together and change their priorities so that Science, innovation, creativity are the hot topics. NASA, a government agency, can be a key component in the change. It’s up to politicians to make the right decisions and set this country back on the course to greatness.

Each time they want to address our economy, our workforce or our place in the global economy, they need to remind Americans that NASA is a true change agent, perfectly positioned to generate jobs, new technology and subsequent markets. Americans also need to show interest in this positive change as well. That’s going to be the hardest part.



Upgrading the Hard Drive in my Macbook Pro…

…has turned out to be more difficult than I would have imagined. I had a 500GB drive with Mac OS and Win7 partitions. I got a good deal on a 1TB drive and getting the disk images moved over has been a bear. The Mac side is working so far. The Win7 image is on the partition, but the dang thing won’t boot. I’ve tried a few things I found online to no avail… Guess I’m hitting the sack tonight and will try again tomorrow.

Or maybe not. Camping weekend. 🙂

Picasaweb Mobile for iPhone

I have been looking high and low for either an app (preferably free) or a workaround that allows me to view my entire Picasa web album set on my iPhone. The standard site automatically redirects to the mobile version and I can’t find a way to turn that off. The problem with that is the limitations built into the Picasa site. You can’t see the complete list of albums and if you have more than 100 pictures in an album, you can’t see all of them.
I have found a 99 cent alternative, even though I think what I spent for the extra storage space with Picasa should entitle me to be able to see my whole account on my mobile device. (c’mon Google, all you need to do is put a link at the bottom for “desktop mode” just like many of your other iPhone web apps.)

The alternative, Web Albums is available for just $.99 at the App Store and does its job pretty simply and plainly; it displays all of your Picasa albums and all your photos.

The only thing lacking in the app is Favorites or the ability to add multiple albums, such as those you have been invited to by friends. I’d also like to see some Facebook and Flikr integration as well as the ability to save images to my iPhone without having to email it to myself. Otherwise it’s pretty solid.

Leave comments or links if you know of better options.

Win7 Parental controls

In a previous post I mentioned that AT&T made some fair software for Parental Controls.

After installing Windows 7 on the computers in our home, I found a nice Parental Control Panel. It has you setup a Microsoft Passport account for each user you intend to add to the Parental Controls panel. Windows 7 then tracks the user through their control panel.

I have it running on my daughter’s machine and it’s very nice. Whenever she runs across a site that is blocked automatically by the software, she can simply click a button to request access to the site. I then get an email telling me to administer her account. I can go to our family’s site and administer which users can go to which sites. My daughter’s account will show all her requested sites and allow me to approve or deny them after a review.

It’s very easy to use and works in the background. It doesn’t seem to use many resources and controlling it from either my computer or one of the others is pretty simple. Check it out and feel free to leave a comment if you know of other solutions.

Internet Meme reference guide

Ever wonder what the heck is up with rickrolling? Look it up.


Rickrolling is a bait and switch: a person provides a web link that he or she claims is relevant to the topic at hand (like this one), but the link actually takes the user to the 1987 Rick Astley video Never Gonna Give You Up. The URL can be masked or obfuscated so a future victim cannot determine the true source of the link without clicking (like this). If a dumb cluck does click and is led to a web page with the song, he or she is said to have been Rickrolled (also spelled Rickroll’d).

Look up the meanings and origins of many of the internet’s more popular memes. By the way, “NSFW” means “Not Safe For Work”, which means it is probably PG-13 or worse…

They have tons of information to get you caught up with all the goofy trends on the “internets” or the “tubes” or whatever…

AT&T Uverse

No, AT&T is not paying me.

I’ve been using AT&T Uverse for about 8 months now. I’m very happy with the service and the features. I was actually a very loyal Cox subscriber for several years leading up to just a few months before canceling my service with them. We had internet and television service with them through 5 homes and 5 cities. Service was always great. Mind you, Service is not the same as Customer Service; I’ve never gotten great Customer Service with any cable or internet provider, until AT&T.

I was paying for Cox’s highest level of service, which evolved and occasionally had services added or improved. I was very happy with the features and especially the speed of the internet connection. Several months before I dropped them, I read articles about how they were going to be testing new “features” in certain test markets. A few weeks into it, I read that my town was one of the test markets. The last time I lived in a test market, it was very good for me. I was a beta tester for cable broadband; the only Mac beta tester in town. They had the throttle wide open for testing and gaming online was amazing, especially in the days when 56k had previously been the best option.

So, given this past experience, I wasn’t so worried about being a tester for Cox. I thought the worst case would be that I am without service on the rare occasion and I could call or submit a report and actually be of help to the improvements. I was wrong. Service was intermittent with television and the internet that I was paying so handsomely for was really slow. I was paying for the 12Mb connection. I know that 12Mb was the “best case scenario”, but over and over in my testing the best I could get was 1.2-1.5Mb down and a paltry 312k-1Mb up. There were no new features with the television, no new widgets or toys with the internet service, no letters explaining what was going on and no explanation or attempts to rectify the situation when I contacted them on several occasions.

Then along comes Uverse. I knew I wanted to leave Cox, just out of spite. I had relatives that had Dish/satellite and I didn’t care for that implementation. I haven’t had a home phone service in several years and I don’t intend to get it just for shooting a signal back to the ‘net for satellite internet service or for uploads with some of the other services that are available in our area. it took a few weeks to decide and a lot of research, but I was glad I took the plunge.

AT&T came and ran a fiber line from the street to my house, gave me all new equipment without rental fees and even wired it to a couple of locations without charging me for the work. Not a bad start.

Then I saw the interface on the DVR, the ability to record four channels at the same time (vs Cox’s max of 2), the quality of the HD channels and the integration of my Flikr, internet and cable TV accounts as well as its own iPhone app and portal website. I think there was only one drawback, and it might not even be a real drawback.

Parental Controls. I have always wanted a good way to protect the whole family from the internet-at-large but not eat up all my computer’s resources. AT&T has some decent software, but don’t install it on a machine that has to have any horse power left for photo manipulation or video compression. Install it on the kids’ machines and administer it from there; at least the kids will be the only ones having to deal with an app that asks for a password to do stuff and slows other apps down. Granted, the protection is there and Cox’s solution is down-right crude in comparison, but it could be better.

All in all, Uverse is wonderful. The few times I have had issues, they have been responsive and nice. One Sunday we woke to the kids complaining that the TV and internet was out. I ran a few simple tests of my own, cycled the power on the gateway and DVRs and nothing helped. I gave AT&T a call and got a real person. They sent TWO techs out to fix the problem; one guy for the stuff in the house and another for everything from the house to their box down the street. Turns out I live too close to the local AM radio station and that we had been having problems on our equipment since installation, but no serious outages. The guys installed filters on the equipment in the house and re-ran the wires in their own boxes to reduce the interference and we’ve had no issues since. They had everything fixed within a couple hours of our first call… on a Sunday morning.

What else is there to say?