PhillipBlanton.com

"Save me, oh God, from people who have no sense of humor."
— Ludlow Porch

Windows 8 sucks. Time for Linux?

I created a new virtual machine and installed Windows 8 on it. The trouble is, I keep getting stuck in apps and have to reboot in order to quit them. For instance, I clicked on the calendar and am stuck there. Right clicking gives me a "Day Week Month Feedback Today and New" option... none of which brings me back to the os. I have tried everything I know (and I am NOT a newbie) but can't get back to the OS. Rebooting again...

Damn Windows 8 sucks. Don't get it.

Ok. I figured that part out, but am overall pretty displeased with the lack of intiutiveness of this new "Metro" interface. I'd say that if you are a Windows user from way back and have considered trying Linux, but thought it's be too hard to switch, Now's your day. Switching from Windows XP, Vista or 7, to Windows 8 is like starting all over again. Maybe it's time to give Linux a try?

If you want to, you can try Linux with no risk, by downloading the Ubuntu Live Disk iso image from here...

http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop

Or you can buy a bootable flash drive from them for about $5 here.

Once you have a Linux or flash drive, insert it appropriately and reboot. Once the boot screen comes up, you'll need to hit the key that allows you to boot from the CD-ROM drive or USB flash drive. It's different on many PCs, but it usually something like [F10], [F11], [F12] or [Spacebar]. Once you have the OS booting from the CD/Flash Drive, it will load up Linux and run it in a virtual environment, right off of the CD or flash drive. It runs a bit slower that way, but is a risk-free way to see what you think of Linux.

After you are done playing with Linux, pull out the CD/flash drive, and reboot your computer. It will come up with your old operating system, just like before, and you can throw away the Linux disk if you want.

If you do decide to move to Linux, you can install it right off of the same CD/flash drive. You can choose to completely replace your old operating system and make the leap to Linux or, if you have enough room on your hard drive, you can install Linux and windows side-by-side and choose whichever one you want to run from a boot menu. Linux will handle all of the heavy lifting of installing the boot menu for you but if you are tech-averse, you may want to have a geek handy. Any run-of-the mill neighborhood geek would be pleased to help you set up Linux.

Umbraco Development

I was recently tasked with evaluating Umbraco CMS. When I opened it in Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate, I got the following error...

   The project type is not supported by this installation  

To fix this, open the CMS UI project file with a text editor (I use Notepad++) and delete whatever you find between <ProjectTypeGuids></ProjectTypeGuids>

Next time you open the solution, all projects will load. 

The project file can be found at "Source\Web Apps\Umbraco.CMS.Web.UI\Umbraco.Cms.Web.UI.csproj"

--
Phillip

Who doesn't want a car elevator?

Mitt Romney may not be the most conservative candidate in the republican race, but he will likely win the nomination.

I have recently heard derogatory rumblings in the republican realm, that his new home in La Jolla, has car elevators.

HECK YEAH! Who among you doesn't want car elevators in your own home? I dang sure do!

A car elevator in every garage and a wagyu T-Bone in every frying pan. That's a vision of America I can get behind.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/mitt-romney-cars-own-elevator-california-home-154337289.html

My new DasKeyboard.

I recently ordered the DasKeyboard for Mac, as featured here...

http://www.daskeyboard.com/model-s-professional-for-mac/

Unfortunately the one they sent me was crap. I crafted this email to them, asking for an RMA and replacement...

Dear DasKeybord, 

I rcently ordered a DasKeyboard fo my Mac. I was excitd when yo guys annonced a keyboard mde secificaly fo macs. I ordered o immeditly.

Yor websit sid that the keyboard woldnt ship until April 16; but I was excited o learn that my keyboard had shipped o April 4.

I receivd it o April 5th and connectd it to my 27" iMac today (April 6, 212). Unfortunatly I am unabl o effectivly use th keyboard s it drops way too many chracters as I type.

I hav crafted thi email usig yor keyboard. I am extremely dissatisfied with hi keyboard. Thogh I lov th clickiness, the fact hat it drops so many characters make it unusable.

Please sen m an RMA for thi keyboard and I wold ike to exchang it fo a keybord that has been tstd and actually works.

Thanks!

PS. I'm not as stupd s thi emil makes me look. Yor keybord i dong that. DAMN I lov thi clicky keyboard. I am sad tht thi keyboard doesn't work.

My order ID is... <deliberately typed> 103-8022566-3773805 </deliberately typed>

April 9 Update...

YAY! DasKeyboard sent me an RMA number to use to send this keyboard back. I plugged the keyboard into my Core i7 15" macbook pro, in order to request my RMA, and lo and behold, the keybord worked flawlessly. Then I shut down my 27" imac and connected the new DasKeyboard. Damned if it didn't perform flawlessly there too!

So, I connected the USB hub and connected my Logitech dongle and the keyboard still worked fine.

So I notified DasKeyboard to cancel my RMA number until further notice. I don't know what made my new keyboard to act all crazy, but I can suggest that you shut down your computer before connecting your new DasKeyboard to it.

Get a DasKeyboard!!! By the way, this message was clicky-created on the DasKeyboard for mac. 

My new Chile Roaster

I just bought a chile roaster from PuebloChileRoasters.com.

They made me a left-handed chile roaster and I am a right handed individual. Ken Kaufman @ PuebloChileRoasters has graciously decided to allow me to return my chile roaster and exchange it for  a right-handed model.

The left-handed model has the handle and gas control on the right side. The right-handed model has the handle and gas control on the left side. For an illustration, see this video od Ken using his right-handed model.

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/XfcsrQo8VwI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> 

Do Not Buy A Colibri Lighter!

They are crap.

I smoke about three cigars a month, and probably the same number of pipe bowls. About two years ago I bought a Colibri pipe lighter at the local tobacconist shop. I want to say I spent about $60 for it. Here's a picture...

The lighter NEVER held gas for more than ten minutes. I'd fill it up and then smoke a cigar or pipe. Then a week or so later, I'd try to light another cigar or pipe, and it'd be out of gas. I'd fill it up and light my smoke.

Then about a week or so later, I'd try to light up a cigar or pipe, and find the lighter empty again.

A few weeks ago I filled up the lighter and listened to it. It made a hissing sound for abut ten minutes and then was out of gas. Apparently the Colibri quality control allowed leaky lighter out of the factory.

I took it back to the tobacconist that I bought it from and they said, "Oh We haven't sold Colibri lighters now for over a year. They are crap and we had way too many customers bring them back, so we decided not to sell them anymore. You need to contact Colibri customer support."

I decided to buy a new ighter from them (a Xikar that rocks) and just take it in the shorts on the Colibri. Here's my new Xikar

I have contacted Colibri and hope that they will eventually replace my crappy lighter with a good one, but I have slim hopes.

So, My advice to you is, if you want to spend the money on a good lighter, expect to spend between $50 and $75 but demand quality for that money. Don't wait a year to report trouble, and don't buy a Colibri. Colibri sucks and they don't warranty their products for very long.Xikar makes great products and they warranty them for life.

Downsides to SQL Server Mirroring

I have been designing and developing applications targeting Microsoft SQL Server for about 14 years. I moved from Clipper and BTrieve to SQLServer '97 at Hewlett-Packard back in about 1998.

Today I am a senior solution architect with a large consulting firm, and am on a team that is migrating a large organization from physical hardware to VMWare. My job is to evaluate each of their more than fifty ASP.net applications, determine if they can be be made SQL Server mirroring aware with no (or minor) code changes, and craft a migration plan for these applications.

As part of my investigation, I have learned a lot about SQL Server Mirroring. One of the big differences between Mirroring and Clustering, is that mirroring is done on a database by database basis, while clustering is handled at the SQL Server instance level. I'm sure you have all heard or read that and think you understand it, but you may not competely appreciate the gravity of that statement. Let's analyze the situation using a real world scenario.

Suppose you have an ASP.net application that uses a single, read-write database for application data, and a separate read-write database for SQL Server session state management. This is not an uncommon situation. Though it is easy enough to install the SQL Server Session State management to your application database, many architects separate the app db from the session db. That's perfectly acceptable, as long as you realize what kind of challenges mirroring brings to the table.

In the event that you are using mirroring, and the application or session database fails, SQL Server will fail-over to the mirror for ONLY THAT SINGLE DATABASE. If your assumption is that the app db and session db are existing on the same server, then your application will find itself in an unstable state.

The solution is to provide a separate connection string in the config file FOR EACH DATABASE that it uses. This will allow applications that use ADO.NET or the Native .NET client, to provide a connection string for each database, that will provide for robust failover.       

I love the Logitech M705 mouse.

i recently bought a Logitech M705 mouse from Sam's Club and I am in love with it. So much so that I bought four more for my other computers.

I am using Logitech K750 keyboards for my Apple computers, and the M705 mouse shares the same USB dongle. One dongle for two devices.

I have used bluetooth for keyboards and mice before, but I much prefer USB.

If you are in the market for a new mouse, then I highly recommend the Logitech M705. It works great on both Windows and Mac OSX.

UPDATE: 03/12/2012
I spilled Coke on one of my K750 keyboards and tried disassembling it so I can clean it. DON'T DO THAT! The K750 is NOT dissamble-able. You will DESTROY it trying.

I did.

On the positive side, it appears that if you run the keyboard under a stream of warm water in an attempt to de-sticky them, then it may work. all of the electronics are underneath the "Logitech" logo at the top of the keyboard. as long as you just use clean water and leave it in a warm dry place for a few days, then you may be able to clean a K750 that you have spilled on. If I spill on another one, then I will run it under warm water, and place it on a towel in the oven, set at the lowest setting, until it is warm in there. Then turn off the oven and allow it to sit there and dry. My oven's lowest setting is 170 degrees, which is too hot in my opinion. I would set it to low (170) and then wait until it reached about 130 (using my laser thermometer) then turn it off and close the door. After about an hour, I'd do it again. Be sure not to forget and allow the oven to reach 170 or I think it may warp your keyboard.

That's my sugestion and I take no responsibility for it. In may case, the sticky-keyed keyboard was ruined, so I am not too broken up over having destroyed it. If you also have a sticky-keyed K750, then you may as well consider it completely ruined. If my tips help you to salvage it, rather than throwing it away, then I am happy... but you'll probably have to throw it away.

Installing Ubuntu 11.10 on a Dell Optiplex 755

I have an old Dell Optiplex 755 SFF (Small Form Factor) that is one of my favorite PCs. 

You can get one like it here, for about $180... http://cgi.ebay.com?ViewItem&item=300644713361. Mine has a 300GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM (All easily and cheaply upgradable).

On Saturday (Dec 31, 2011) I was attempting to install Ubuntu 11.10 on it, but I couldn't boot to the install DVD. I had downloaded the correct Ubuntu image, and burned it to DVD on my Intel iMac (OSX Lion). After the burn process, it verified the disk and everything appeared ok. The problem was, it wasn't bootable. After wasting a few hours trying to make the machine boot from a "bootable" DVD, I gave up, threw the DVD away and re-downloaded the iso (just in case the old one was corrupted). After I re-burned the disk, it installed flawlessly. Now I have a super little *nix box for all sorts of cross-platform testing.

If you are looking for a super-cheap, yet super-capable home computer, I highly recommend surfing EBay for a Dell Optiplex 755 SFF or USFF (Small form factor or Ultra small form factor) PC with an Intel Core2 Duo or Core2 Quad. Ubuntu is a free and open-source operating system that is supremely powerful and very well supported. I have been using Linux (and other unix/POSIX Compiant operating systems) since the mid ninteties, and this is the first time I am prepared to recommend them to the masses for normal every-day use.

Ubuntu 11.04 and above, introduced the Unity UI. While those of us well-versed in Linux/Unix operating system operation may cringe at such a simplistic user interface, regular people (ie my mother and my wife) were completely perplexed at the complexities of Linux. Unity brings the simplicity of the Apple Mac OS to the free Linux operating system and inexpensive commodity PC hardware. Linux experts may still opt for a more powerful UI engine like Gnome or KDE. The powerful Linux operating system underlies all of these UI implementations, and the choice of which UI to use is completely at the user's discretion; so I am perplexed at the backlash Unity has received from the Linux community.

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to use something other than Windows, I highly recommend that you download the most current version of Ubuntu Linux and give it a try. If you are download-and-burn averse, then you can order five Ubuntu DVD's from Canonical for about $8 here http://shop.canonical.com/product_info.php?products_id=915

Booting your PC to the UBuntu DVD allows you two options.

1. Blow everything on your PC away and install Ubuntu in its place (like I did).

2. Boot to the Ubuntu OS on the DVD and run Ubuntu as an experiment. You can use your computer normally, running Ubuntu; and when you reboot. you'll be back to Windows with nothing damaged or changed.

I'd suggest running it in the experimental mode for a while until you are used to the way it works, then ... after backing up your important data (using an offsite service like Mozy Pro or Carbonite) Take the plunge and wipe your hard drive in favor of Ubuntu Linux.