Thursday, 18 December 2008

Motorola Q & Microsoft Exchange

I have recently started a new career path, of sorts, and am enjoying it thoroughly. However, this is the first time in nearly 7 years that I have not had a company provided mobile device. I have had just about every type of Blackberry since their incarnation from the little pager style 850 to the Curve.

While the devices are excellent business tools, I had a hard time coughing up $400+ for a new unit or slightly less with a 3 year plan. So, I decided I will use a cell phone only... and made it almost 2 months! I really missed the email, but it was not really a necessity. The calendar was though!

An old friend recently upgraded to a Blackberry from a Motorola Q. He is happier than a pig in shit. When I was "complaining" about my cell only status he graciously offered me the Q. "Sure!" I said, "Why not?". I thought it couldn't be that bad.

The unit functions well, for the most part. The tricky part was getting the Exchange's push email (and cal) setup. The server admin at my current employer sent me their certs, and I installed them. Went through the config with out any issue. But no go.. And this seems to be a very common problem with the Q after searching through Google for help.

I was ready to pitch it out the window as I could not get it to work no matter what I tried. Until I came across this fantastic little tool from the Windows Mobile Team, SSLChainSaver.

It could not be easier to use. "From a command prompt, run the tool.

> sslchainsaver

This will create a directory called which contains all the certificates from the SSL chain. It will also create files called and which can be installed over USB using rapiconfig or put in a CAB file for installation on device"

After renaming the wm5.xml file to _setup.xml, I used makecab to convert the XML file into a CAB file then copied the file over to the Q. Launched it, and setup the Exchange connection (again!)... and crossed my fingers. SUCCESS!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Rack-a-node howto

I have to say I am a little addicted to Purdue U's Rack-A-Node, but I can not seem to get too far past level 10. A quick Google search did not help when looking for a few tips. So, if you stumble across this post and have accumulated 200,000+ pts please leave a comment. Share your thoughts.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


Try your hand out at Rack-A-Node. It is a Flash based game that requires you to process computing jobs on time by buying, selling or upgrading nodes in 3 racks.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

VirtualBox, another virtualization app

I am a big fan of VMware, and have used it a fair bit however I was recently looking for a virtualization app with a small footprint that would run on my laptop. VMware Server would work just fine but I was very curious to see what else is out here. I came accross a free tool called VirtualBox and have been very pleased (so far).

"VirtualBox is a family of powerful x86 virtualization products for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers, it is also the only professional solution that is freely available as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Presently, VirtualBox runs on Windows, Linux, Macintosh and OpenSolaris hosts and supports a large number of guest operating systems including but not limited to Windows (NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista), DOS/Windows 3.x, Linux (2.4 and 2.6), Solaris and OpenSolaris, and OpenBSD."

It is a relatively small download (33MB) and a very clean install. I downloaded an ISO image of Ubuntu 8.10 (desktop) and was up and running in no time.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Microsoft's could is black at the moment

I think just about everyone knew that Microsoft was going to have some type of major launch into the cloud computing (CC) space and that officially happened today... but you can't sign up yet even though all the buttons are there. 

I'm sure this will upset some other eager beta testers looking to take Azure out for a spin.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Just send it! EOM

Here's a handy little tip for Google Mail users. I frequently fire off emails to people with notes in the subject only. Google Mail always prompts,  "Are you sure..." and of course I always hit yes. However, if you enter EOM at the end of the note in the subject Google Mail will send on the email immediately.

Official post on the Google Mail blog here .

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The National Do Not Call List is getting slammed

Canada's Do No Call List is getting slammed with angry Canadian's urgently trying to register their numbers to prevent the much hated telemarketers from pestering them.

I have tried several times throughout the afternoon today and constantly get "The service is not available. Please try again later". So I did, and now it looks like they've got up a place holder page until can scale up to accommodate.

Dr. Michael Geist, has a detailed post on how the list is supposed to work vs how it will really work.

Having your number on there can't hurt, however check out Geist's list too,

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Amazon to launch CDN

It looks like Amazon is expanding their hosted services offering by entering into the content delivery network arena. I am actually a little surprised they have not done something like this sooner considering their existing (massive) infrastructure.

This new service will provide you a high performance method of distributing content to end users, giving your customers low latency and high data transfer rates when they access your objects. The initial release will help developers and businesses who need to deliver popular, publicly readable content over HTTP connections. Our goal is to create a content delivery service that:

Lets developers and businesses get started easily - there are no minimum fees and no commitments. You will only pay for what you actually use.
Is simple and easy to use - a single, simple API call is all that is needed to get started delivering your content.
Works seamlessly with Amazon S3 - this gives you durable storage for the original, definitive versions of your files while making the content delivery service easier to use.
Has a global presence - we use a global network of edge locations on three continents to deliver your content from the most appropriate location.

If the end users can leverage this system and keeps costs down that will be great for everyone involved from the average web surfer hitting a site with content delivered from a close location geographically to the firm serving the content quickly and cost effectively. Watch out Akamai.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Forgotten attachment detector

I came across a very slick new feature out of Google Labs, the Forgotten attachment detector. Created by summer GMail engineering intern Jon Kotker, this handy little beauty will toss an alert if you have mentioned an attachment in your email but attached nothing. Nicely done.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Great spin on file sharing by

I came across this afternoon which is a very simple tool for sharing files online. In 3-4 steps you can share up to a 100MB file - or if you pay a little more you can share up to 25GB! You can also set the files to expire after certain dates, or events which is pretty slick too.

The  back-end of this system is housed with Amazon's S3, EC2, and FPS. Nice.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Google Chrome (beta) - Big fan!

I was on vacation for a few weeks in God's Country - Thunder Bay - and was offline most of the time. After our return, and to my surprise; this morning I 102.1 the edge on my commute that there is a new web browser. I was thinking it was something odd, and a little boring...AT&T web browser? But, I didn't get to hear the news to find out who.

Then, after wading through 1000s of emails I come across the Google Blog - Fresh take on browser and read about Chrome. Too slick. I've only had it installed for a while but am VERY impressed with performance, UI, options and overall usage. Grab it here, if you're a WinXP/Vista user. Or, check out the feature set Google Chrome INTL EN features.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Convert DVD video to MP4 format

I picked up an iPod Touch a few days ago and have been looking for something to convert DVD video to a format used on the iPod (.MP4). There are lots of good tools out there, but I really didn't want to drop any funds. And if I couldn't find a free one, I'd give up... but then I came accross HandBrake. I have seen it before but was not aware there was a Windows version.

HandBrake is: "HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded DVD to MPEG-4 converter, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows."

SUPER easy to use, check it out here:

Monday, 28 July 2008

Google Calendar flips the switch on CalDAV

I was pretty sure this was coming but had no idea when... and really didn't care THAT much. Nevertheless it is a pretty slick addition to Google's already powerful calendaring system.

At a high level, CalDAV is just an extension to WebDAV which is "is a set of extensions to the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) which allows users to collaboratively edit and manage files on remote World Wide Web servers."

CalDAV allows clients to access scheduling information on remote servers by extending WebDAV and using the iCalendar format for data.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Bluetooth headsets - there's a time and a place...

I admit it - I've had a Bluetooth headset for sometime now. But I *only* wear it while talking on the phone in the car.

There are some people - you have seen them - who insist on not only wearing the ear bud every where but talking too. And most seem to think that the person on the other end can't hear them so it's best to speak abnormally loud.

Here is my short list of where it is and is not acceptable to wear your Bluetooth headset and talk on the phone.

While you are in any airport - anywhere - not acceptable.
While you are in the grocery store - not acceptable.
While you are driving in the car - acceptable.
Watching a movie in the theatre - not acceptable.
Waiting room at the dentist - not acceptable.
Fixing teeth as the dentist - not acceptable.

I'm sure there are way more - I'll update later.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Firefox 3.0 is out but impossible to download

I've been impressed with the RC releases of Firefox, and was looking forward (a little) to grabbing the final release. However, as soon as Moz posted the links their download locations were immediately overwhelmed. Now, how could they not have predicted this? Surely there are CDNs (Akamai, Limelight, Level3) out there that could have helped circumvent this. Amazon S3? Marketing did a great job of promoting the release but the dead download links must have nuked their credibility a little.

SQL Profiler & Duration - 2000 VS 2005

I'm not a DBA by any stretch, but like to think I know a thing or two when it comes to Microsoft SQL Server as I have used it extensively in just about all of my work experiences.

With that in mind, I wrote a basic insert statement wrapped in a stored procedure. Ran a load against it and watched SQL Profiler. To my surprise, the duration on the query was 64000+.

However, after a little research I found the reason. It was not query design, database schema, RAM, storage, etc. etc. but rather a change to the metric used in SQL Profiler for duration.

In the SQL Profiler that shipped SQL Server 2000, duration was recorded in milliseconds. BUT, in the SQL Profiler that shipps with SQL Server 2005 duration is recorded in microseconds. 64k microsecods worked out to about .06 seconds. I can live with that.

Here is the MSDN article that set me straight.

Friday, 6 June 2008 is down!

Holy crap, this can't be good! With all the redundancies must have in place to get a "Http/1.1 Service Unavailable" error message from their website is scary. Not to mention the oodles (yes, oodles) of apps hosted with their web services.

AWS website is down too.

Thursday, 29 May 2008


Sze-jun Tsai a Google Help Center guru has a good post on the Gmail blog about some of the differences between the supported email protocols offered with your GMail account, IMAP (Internet Mail Access Protocol) and POP (Post Office Protocol).

Clearly in the post IMAP is the preferred protocol, and I couldn't agree more. However, there are also a few other reasons not mentioned (source):

IMAP protocol advantages:
-Can manipulate persistent message status flags.
-Can access and manage multiple mailboxes.
-Can support concurrent updates and access to shared mailboxes.
-Suitable for accessing non-email data; e.g., NetNews, documents.
-Can also use offline paradigm, for minimum connect time and disk use.
-Companion protocol defined for user configuration management (IMSP).
-Constructs to permit online performance optimization, especially over low-speed links.

A few years ago POP was more common however with several great (free) email clients out there that offer both, IMAP is likely your best bet.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

BBC & Their HTTP 404 error

A few days ago I was checking out a page on one of the BBC website properties re: South Africa's 2010 Cup Challenge. There is a poll on the site, "Will South Africa be ready to stage the 2010 World Cup?" - top right. Can't miss it. So, I filled the vote out - and BANG. 404. Page Not Found. Well, that is pretty bad. So I figured I would take 3 seconds to leave the BBC a little note - let them know that the form was toast....

This was their response:
" This is an old story, so the vote no longer works.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: 21 May 2008 19:25
To: NewsOnline SiteProblems
Subject: Feedback [NewsWatch]

From: aaron fleming
Email address:
Country: canada

COMMENTS: I tried to fill out the poll on the site but when I hit submit
it returned a 404 message.
aaron fleming, canada



Wow, are you serious? Why not post the results? Or pull the poll? Or post to a "sorry we shut the vote down."? But the sorry "it is an old post/story, we don't care" was the impression I got.

Anyone else?

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Data centers revealed

Yesterday, Pingdom had a great visual post covering several major data centers scattered throughout the world. Some clearly more impressive than others. I have seen some pretty slick setups in my day, Q9 in Toronto was by far one of the best NOCs.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Google Mail & The Need for Speed

Google's official Gmail Blog had an excellent post last week about the steps they took in finding ways to decrease load times of Gmail it self. Using several public tools, plus a plethora of their own, they began scanning the HTTP transactions from the moment a user logs in.

After the analysis was complete they found where the program could be enhanced further and did so quickly.

If you are looking for a starting point to tuning up your Web 2.0 application, this is an excellent read.

In a previous life I clearly recall using all of the tools mentioned in the blog post as well as few other not mentioned to do exactly this. It's pretty amazing what you can trim/cut/slash/rebuild in order to squeeze every last drop of performance out.

A couple of tools I have used that are not mentioned include:

Firebug is an excellent tool on its own, but when you couple Yahoo's tool to it - all the better.

livehttpheaders is another great, Firefox based tool.

There is another excellent, Java based tool but for the life of me right now I can't recall the name.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Setting up Gmail on your N800/N810

Well, there isn't really any magic here but since it took me a few cracks to get it right I thought I'd throw it on the web in case someone else needed a hand.

First, if you're on the N800 head over to Nokia and grab the latest firmware updates.

Then fire up the email client, and add a new account. Call it whatever you like - does not matter.

Your username is your full Gmail email address, and enter your password.

The incoming email server (POP3) is and the outgoing is
Now, click Advanced Settings & set "Security" to SSL - port 995 on the incoming tab. Then set "Security" to Normal (TLS) - port 587.

If you have not done so already, log into your Gmail account and enable POP access.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

In The Name Of The King

Wow, without a doubt that is one of THE worst movies I have ever watched.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Palm Treo 700wx VS HTC 6800 VS MC70

Here is a quick little comparison between two Windows Mobile phones on Bell Canada's cellular network. I have used both, albeit the Palm more than the HTC to date. But if you are limited to 1XEV then definitely take a second look an the HTC device as the Palm is getting a little long in the tooth.

*I added a column for the Motorola MC70 too. Why not?

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

More on Hulu in Canada

I still have not found a good proxy server in the US that will "hide" my IP address for use with Hulu. Anyone else looking, let me know if you find something. Otherwise this is still working wonderfully:

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Internet Explorer 8 beta 1 released ... now what?

Likely because it is still in Beta, I can't say I am too impressed with the first release of Internet Explorer 8. The first thing I tried with it was Hotmail. Really, you would almost have to assume that would work. It didn't. I had to change back to IE7 mode, then check my email. Oh well. Since I rarely use IE anyhow anymore - not a big deal I guess. But it was refreshing to see the giant list of updates mostly the standards support included. I'll keep my eye out for Beta 2.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Internet Explorer 8 beta 1 - coming soon!

According to a post over at Channel 10 by Larry Larsen the wait for Internet Explorer 8 (beta 1) is nearly over.

"Surprise! IE8 beta is going to be available for download starting today at 12:00 PST. "

There have been download links up on the Microsoft site for some time today however they are all dead.

While I have been a big fan of Firefox and lately a bigger fan of Opera 9.5 - I am anxious to check out the latest browser from Microsoft. Some of the new features include Activities, Webslices, JavaScript debugging and tools, DOM storage, AJAX enhancemnets, cross-Domain AJAX, and more.

* Update * IE 8 download links are working as of 2:52 PM EST

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Best picture ever

I have hundreds of pictures of me, Christine and the dogs and numerous combinations of that but this is by far my favorite... for now.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Hulu in Canada!

After a little more Googling I found out how to use Hulu north of the US border. Grab a program called "Hotspot Shield Launch" from AnchorFree. It will (among other things) drop you behind a US IP address.  The install took about 5 seconds, and I was on Hulu shortly thereafter. You can with a click enable/disable it which is nice as it did degrade my connection a bit. Also, I did notice some ads popping up in the browser now so make sure you take a good long read of their agreements.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Hulu update

Still have not been able to get Hulu working in Canada even routing through US proxy servers. Would love to know if anyone else has had any success.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Nominated for the TechNet Canada Innovation Award

I'm not sure I have quite the following on this blog that I had on my prior but any online exposure to win this award could not hurt.

Several months ago someone submitted my name & info to TechNet Canada as a potential candidate for the TechNet Canada Innovation Award.

"The TechNet Canada Innovation Award is awarded to a Canadian IT Professional who has used Microsoft-based technology to make a positive contribution to their organization or community."

Pretty sure I know who did it - thank you. And for the other 8 people that hit this site feel free to cast your vote.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Pingdom - web based early warning system

Over the years I have tested out many different types of (web) application monitoring tools. There are loads of them out there all with various degrees of strengths and weaknesses.

Recently I ran across an excellent tool, Pingdom. Their basic package I would think would be just fine for most businesses looking for a reporting package. For about $10/month you get 5 monitors that perform a HTTP/S, TCP, UDP or Ping test every minute. Alerts are sent out on a customizable schedule via email & SMS (handy for watching your email servers). Their full package comparison is here.

Many large firms are using Pingdom already including:
As far as the reporting goes, it too is very well done. Everything you could want in a reporting analytics package is there from high level monthly reports to granular logs as well as reports to view when & who was notified.

Finally, there is a powerful API & tool kit freely available from Pingdom here:

The 30-day trial is worth checking out if you're in the market for a good web based monitoring solution.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Coghead harnessing AWS

This morning as I was plowing through the RSS feeds I came across a pair blog posts about Coghead utilising AWS:

I signed up for Coghead a while ago and was impressed with it's ease of use, but when coupled with Amazons web services the potential is unlimited.

Unfotunately, it seems that all of the great press it has received has also crippled the site..


About an hour after posting this I am once again able to get in... now, what to build??

Xobni update

Some time ago I subscribed to Xobni after reading a raving review about it. After getting my invite last week I have to agree 100%.

The basic tools in the latest version of Outlook for PC from Microsoft are quite powerful, however the goodies packaged with Xobni are fantastic!

One of the most notable features is the blazing fast search. This clobbers all other search tools I've tried. Other features include:

The full feature set is here, and the invite only signup list is here.

At the time of writing, I have an invite left. Leave a note if you want it.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Ass Clown...

I fear I have become the ass clown (for the day at least) that doesn't wipe the snow off his/her car before they hit the roads in the morning. I did the entire vehicle, but the roof. It was rock solid, figured it was there for good. Not so much. Bombing down the 407 I heard a worry some tearing noise from the roof. Looked back and a sheet of snow flew off the car. Luckily, nobody was around. Won't happen again Bortz.