Monday, December 08, 2003

A few days ago I saw a person driving a new Cadillac SRX around Culver City. He was a young guy, a few days' worth of beard growth, windows down. I couldn't help wondering if he was a viral marketing plant - he was so clearly the wrong demographic for this car. I guess they're trying to "recapture" the young professional market - good luck.

Have you seen the thing? Here's a picture:

I think they should call it the "Hearse" since that's the only Cadillac sta-wag I've ever seen before. It's hideous.

Several days later, I saw an old guy with a cigar driving one. That looked even more ridiculous.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

OK - it's up:

Interactive TiVo Upgrade Instructions

It's still in beta, so if you find issues, send an email to here.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Wow - it's been a while since I've posted an entry, but I have something pretty good coming soon. Check back in about a week!

Saturday, June 14, 2003

This week we finally joined Netflix. People have been telling us to join for quite a while, and we finally took the plunge. We joined Monday night (pretty late) and by Wednesday our first movies were arriving. The day after I sent the first one back, a new one was on its way. Pretty amazing.

There is a decent barrage of email from Netflix - no spam, but a lot of status updates and "rate this movie" emails. I set up a filter for them already.

The reason we finally did this was because of the problems with bad DVDs from Blockbuster and their late fees. So now, we can hold onto a kids' video until they are pretty sick of it - no rushing back to Blockbuster by the deadline. And no guilt. Just keep it and return it whenever you want. I like it!

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

And now, TIME Magazine.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Well, following on our appearance on The Screen Savers, Jeff and I are now "Professional Hackers."

And we're also on slashdot.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

New WebSTAR nightmare to report:

My DSL internet connection slowed to a crawl last night. After initially suspecting my PC was the culprit, I downloaded the newest Norton virus defs at a snail's pace. Norton catches viruses constantly, and I figured a new one came out and my Norton, having not done it's weekly update in a few days, didn't see it. Anyway, the PC was clean.

So I started unplugging ethernet connections and this pointed to my server. I tried quitting each application to see where the problem was, and the problem was WebSTAR.

The default installation of WebSTAR allows for it's proxy server to be active. And this means that anyone on the internet can use it to cover their tracks - generally not something you'd even care about if the activity you were undertaking wasn't nefarious.

I opened the proxy monitor and saw stuff scrolling by - so I knew what was going on. But the machine was so slow that I couldn't even change the settings, so I had to quit WebSTAR (BG, actually) and then remove the plug-in, and restart. And now everything's fine, thankfully. I looked at a few other WebSTAR installations that I know of, and I found that one had connections set to zero and was fine - unused. The other had connections on 4 and it had a pretty detailed usage log.

So set your WebSTAR proxy connections to zero, or, better yet, remove the plug-in entirely. Either way, be sure to restart to get those changes in effect.

And if you find a log file with as much junk in it as mine (mostly porn and crack stuff) save it. If someone ever tracks you down and wants to ban your IP or blame some hacking on you, it may be your only defense.

And WebSTAR, why leave that open by default? That's almost as bad as the spammer holes (which I'll detail soon).

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Spent a ton of time yesterday trying to troubleshoot my php mail function. It was swapping out quote marks (') and double quotes (") and apostrophes (') with /' and /", etc. The apostrophes made the whole email look awful. Anyway, the answer was that my php.ini file must be configured that way; rather than change it, I was able to use the function "stripcslashes" to reset it all. Hope this helps someone.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

We launched our new TiVo Upgrade website today - check it out!

Thursday, April 24, 2003

I've been using the new HMO option for series 2 standalone TiVos - and it's pretty compelling. There are four main features:
-ability to share photos from your PC or Mac to your TiVo(s)
-same for music (this one is great - all of my iTunes library is accessible on my TiVo, and, hence my stereo)
-watching shows recorded on one TiVo through another TiVo (that also has HMO)
-scheduling shows to record on the TiVo Central Online (TCO) website from any computer

One important note for Mac users: if you are using an Apple AirPort Base Station with password encryption, then you have to enter the password as "hexadecimal" - you can't enter it as text. To get the hex-encoded password, you have to go to your AirPort Admin Utility, then choose (this is Mac OS 9) Base Station -> Equivalent Network Password. Use that code on your TiVo and you should be all set.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Lot's more to tell about Puerto Vallarta that I'm sure I'll never get to, but one thing I have to mention in case someone does some crazy internet search and finds it: there was a market area that sold fish in PV. This was right at the Gutierrez Rizo - the main supermarket in the old part of town. The fish market looked fine - just a bunch of open stalls with lots of good stuff like shrimp and octopus and huachilongo (sp?). But the thing I didn't do and that someone really should do is go to the bustling little ceviche cart there. Looked great.

Yesterday, we released our PowerTrip TiVo Power Saver - it's been a whole saga of sourcing, engineering, and shipping. But we have them, and people are happy.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

We spent a week in Puerto Vallarta. We rented a house in Colonia Emiliano Zapata - just up the hill from the old part of Puerto Vallarta. This was either a 10 block, partly steep walk, or a $3 cab ride from most of the action in Puerto Vallarta, including the good beach (Los Muertos), the Malecon, and the good restaurants.

We spent two days at Los Muertos - the best beach nearby. Grandpa parasailed, and we ate and played and swam and built sandcastles.

One day we dove with Chico's Dive Shop - they seem to be the only dive shop in town, and the prices were reasonable and the service pretty good. We went to Los Arcos - just off the coast of Playa Mismaloya. The boat ride took about an hour. Then we anchored and were surrounded by jellyfish. Finally, we just bit the bullet, jumped in, and went down as fast as possible. Didn't see much, visibility wasn't great, and when we surfaced, we got stung pretty badly and got out of there as fast as possible.

For the second dive, we went to the other side of Los Arcos. This was a shallower dive, but with much better visibility and more to see (although still, not a lot). Our divemaster Nacho held a pufferfish while it put out its spikes - pretty cool.

Another day we rented a van and went to Bucerias on the recommendation of friends. Very cute town, ate at Marks. The meal was great - pretty much like being in LA. We got some brownies and things from Pie-in-the-sky also. Not quite LA, but good.

But the best part was our trip afterward to Sayulitas. The same friends recommended it, and the place is a gem. Still relatively undiscovered, its a small town beach town, full of Americans (if a town that small can be full). The beach itself was really, truly great - shallow water that is good for the kids, nice waves, good atmosphere. We actually saw a guy ride his horse into the ocean and play for about 10 minutes. And the water at the south end of the beach had a gold particle in it that was just gorgeous against the brown sand. If you only have a few days to go to PV, go to Sayulitas and relax.

Back here in town, we saw something you've probably never seen - a man singing karaoke in a tile store. This was Benny Sr. of Talavera Mundo - he's the owner, and can do what he wants. Its a great store, but this was pretty strange. And it only happened the one time (I think we were in the store on five separate occassions).

Finally, the one thing we tried that you can safely skip is Playa de Mismaloya. Full of vendors, parking issues, and a hotel that doesn't want you there if you aren't a guess, take a pass. The beach isn't really worth the trouble - lot's of boats and general nonsense. Not nearly as nice as Los Muertos even, and not close to Sayulitas.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Another little WebSTAR tip and/or bug: in the Realms section and the User section under Web Server in the Admin software, Realms with names longer than 13 characters seem to offer no security whatsoever. Once you hit that limit, it's all gone. Amazing security breach.
I needed to make a field in FileMaker Pro such that data, once entered, cannot be changed. I thought the way to do this would have been through the use of the Validation section of the field options in Define Fields, but I couldn't make that work (although I'm fairly sure I did that once before - if anyone has a clue, please email me).

Anyway, I bounced this one off my friend Rand, another FileMaker consultant, and he had the answer - going a very different way:

You take the field out of the tab order and make it a button. When the user clicks the button, the script decides whether or not to allow entry into the field, based on it being empty or not.

Works just fine, but I'd like to do it as a tab-able field. So if anyone has the answer through validation, please email me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Quick tip for anyone using WebSTAR 4.x and the Formmail plug-in: I was having a problem today with my form submission that goes to my pager. The problem? You must capitalize "Body" for the form, as in " textarea name="Body" ". Small detail, but it wont send the Body without it.

Note also for those using Blogger - I tried to type that textarea in with html brackets around it - Blogger went really strange. All I could do was go into safemode to get rolling again.

Friday, March 21, 2003

OK - war begins. We go skiing. Has ever a war not affected the homefront more than this time? People are prostesting, and filling up the cars, but really that's about it.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Quick FileMaker Pro tip: I wanted to have a large text field with essentially two columns of data on a printout. This data needed to be a concatenation of data from other sources, so just using related fields wouldn't do the trick. But the data had to line up.

So I stuffed tab characters into the data field as I was building it (Ctrl-Tab (Windows) or Option-Tab (Mac OS)) and then when I put the field on the layout, I chose Text Format -> Paragraph -> Tabs and set the tab as a 2 inch left tab - enough for my data. Works pretty well - I've never seen that used quite that way before.

Hope someone finds this helpful!

Monday, March 17, 2003

I gotta learn more about better blog templates - anyone have some good links? Email me.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

My Alias prediction: Arvin turns out to be Sydney's biological father.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

AirPort Extreme Bridging

So I had a client who wanted to use his laptop and a printer in his newly-converted garage-office. His iMac was going to remain in his house, and the cable modem connection was already in the house; we looked at moving it, but decided it wasn’t worth the trouble of re-wiring, if we could just do a wireless bridge.

First, we got a NetGear wireless bridge that NetGear told me would do the trick. Their tech support is usually good, but they failed here. This is a bridge for one device only, not a network, and it only is configurable via PC.

So then we went the route of two AirPort Extremes. We got the $200 models – didn’t need the modems or the antennas.

Setup hardware-wise was fairly straightforward. I plugged the cable modem and the iMac directly into the first base station in the house. Then I plugged the other base station into the printer in the garage-office. The laptop out there would connect via wireless.

First problem: my Titanium G4 only runs Mac OS 9. I know, I should load OS X, but my drive died recently, I started the rebuild from scratch, and I haven’t had time yet. Plus, OS 9 is just so much faster . . . Anyway, the software to configure the new AirPort Extreme Base Stations ONLY works with OS X. You can use the wireless network from an OS 9 machine (and I’m fairly sure from a PC also – just like the older AirPorts) but you can’t configure it from OS 9. I dug around online and couldn’t find anything to indicate that there was OS 9 software anywhere. This works pretty well with Apple’s idea that now only OS X exists – that as of Jan.1, everyone switched over.

So I used my client’s laptop to configure the base stations. Not too big a deal, just annoying.

Next problem: both base stations were set to use DHCP and both had similar names, so figuring out which was which for the configuration was a little annoying. I should have just powered up one at a time, but I didn’t. The good part is that the networks each call themselves something like “Apple Network1234” where 1234 is the last four digits of the wireless MAC address of the base station. That’s important to know.

The rest was pretty straightforward. I set the first one to grab an IP from the cable modem (remembering to power the cable modem down for a few minutes and then restart it – they don’t like for you to just switch client MAC addresses on them). Then I set the first one to accept the second one for WDS – and I need the wireless MAC address for that.

In the second base station, I turned off DHCP. Then I set it’s Internet connection to AirPort WDS and entered the wireless MAC address of the first base station.

I put passwords on both. I set each to bridge to Ethernet. And that was it!

AppleTalk and IP both act like one big network. Any device requesting DHCP from anywhere (wireless or wired) can get an address from the first base station. Any AppleTalk device just needs to be set appropriately for itself; both base stations then bridge the wireless to the wired (as always) and also to each other. And due to the 54 MB speed, the network is pretty snappy.
A few days ago, I set up a bridged AirPort Extreme network. I'll post all the details soon, but it works very, very well. I have one AirPort plugged into a hub to a cable modem and it acts as the router for the ethernet clients there. I have another AirPort Extreme hooked up about 150 feet away, and it serves the network to both wireless and ethernet clients there - making one seamless network for both IP and AppleTalk.

The only kicker is that, while you can use OS 9 to get online, you need OS X to setup the AirPorts.

More soon!

Friday, March 14, 2003

Just found that me and my TiVo Upgrade Business got mentioned over in ZDnet - thanks David!
OK - the first post here. Fascinating, I know. More to come once I get this all figured out.

Meantime, more info here.