Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Vonage + Mac SoftPhone client = fail

I have been having a heck of a time getting Vonage's SoftPhone client to run on my MacBook Pro. The service itself appears to work however the person at the other end can not hear anything I say nor can I hear anything they say. So, while I work with Vonage to troubleshoot the issue I decided it was time to find a work-around. Enter CounterPath X-Lite.

ConterPath is the vendor who develops the softphone client for Vonage however while parusing their website I found X-Lite 4 Beta and thought it would be worth a try. A quick download later and a perusal of Google for the settings I was up and running in about 15 seconds.

The very first thing I noticed was that the user interface is far more intuitive than the Vonage download not to mention much cleaner and more pleasing to the eye.

Here are the settings I used to get the service to work:

I've made several test calls with this tool so far and they have all be crystal clear. I think we have found a winner / replacement!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Google Public DNS announced today

Today, Google announced that in part of their efforts to make the web faster, the search engine giant has released an experimental public DNS resolver, Google Public DNS.

DNS (domain name system) is one of the most critical parts of the Internet's infrastructure as it serves as a "phone-book" for web users. In short, every time you visit a website, your computer performs a DNS lookup to figure out where to go.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participants. Most importantly, it translates domain names meaningful to humans into the numerical (binary) identifiers associated with networking equipment for the purpose of locating and addressing these devices worldwide. An often used analogy to explain the Domain Name System is that it serves as the "phone book" for the Internet by translating human-friendly computer hostnames into IP addresses. For example, www.example.com translates to {Wikipedia}
Further, complex pages often require multiple DNS lookups before they load completely as they could have content, images, media, etc. coming in from several different location entirely. So, as a result, the average Internet user performs hundreds of DNS lookups every day, that collectively can slow down their browsing experience. 

Google believes that a faster DNS infrastructure could significantly improve the browsing experience for all web users.  Google's service will not only enhance the speed of DNS lookups but it will also improve the security and the validity of results. To do this Google Public DNS is trying a handful of different approaches - all of this is shared within their documentation:

Speed: Resolver-side cache misses are one of the primary contributors to sluggish DNS responses. Clever caching techniques can help increase the speed of these responses. Google Public DNS implements prefetching: before the TTL on a record expires, we refresh the record continuously, asychronously and independently of user requests for a large number of popular domains. This allows Google Public DNS to serve many DNS requests in the round trip time it takes a packet to travel to our servers and back.

Security: DNS is vulnerable to spoofing attacks that can poison the cache of a nameserver and can route all its users to a malicious website. Until new protocols like DNSSEC get widely adopted, resolvers need to take additional measures to keep their caches secure. Google Public DNS makes it more difficult for attackers to spoof valid responses by randomizing the case of query names and including additional data in its DNS messages.
Validity: Google Public DNS complies with the DNS standards and gives the user the exact response his or her computer expects without performing any blocking, filtering, or redirection that may hamper a user's browsing experience. {Google Code Blog}
Google is looking for people to start helping them test the system, today. If you are interested, check out their documentation on how to configure your system(s) to leverage Google Public DNS. In that doc there are great examples for updating Mac OSX, Windows and Linux computers as well as routers and other mobile devices.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Salesforce.com's Social Side - Coming 2010

2010 will be a great year for social media; especially its adoption in the enterprise. Salesforce.com's Chatter will more than likely not only help act as a catalyst but further drive home the importance of leveraging social media within your firm's technology plans. Chatter gives firms virtually instant access to their own private social networking site that is powered by the remarkably stable and incredibly fast infrastructure that delivers Salesforce.com now.

Salesforce Chatter will completely transform the way you collaborate with people in your company.* As both a collaboration application and a platform for building social cloud-computing apps, Chatter helps you connect and share information securely like never before—all in real time. Welcome to the new world of collaboration for the enterprise.
The new Chatter social platform offers social features and capabilities that are readily available for any application built and run on the Salesforce.com platform. Custom apps will generate real-time feed updates, incorporate user profiles, and encourage dynamic interactions between people and groups.

I can not wait to give it a try; read more about Chatter here.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Download Google Chrome OS now!

Yesterday, Google finally showed off their new Chrome OS however there was a great deal of uncertainty about working in the cloud with offline applications. On a lighter note, if you don't really care about the negatives and want to jump right into Chrome OS now, you can go download and install it yourself.

A few words of warning:
  1. The download will only work in a VM environment
  2. This is pre-beta release; expect some trouble.
You can follow the directions here, if you think you're ready. If you don't want to read directions, jump straight to the download here (after signing up).

Thursday, 19 November 2009

MacBook Pro screen won't light up

Aaahk! After a great (long) weekend away, without my laptop, I fired up my MacBook Pro ready to do some work BUT the screen would not light up. The battery was fully charged and the power adapter was working. After a quick look around via Google, I came across this site on Apple's support website.
"Reset the PRAM. After pressing the power button, hold down these keys simultaneously: Command-Option-P-R, until you hear the startup chime at least one additional time after the initial startup chime"
Immediately after holding the keys down, the screen lit up and I am back in business.

Side note:
Some additional reading noted that resetting the SMC would also resolve this issue however I did not have to test that so I can not confirm.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

IBM Smart Business Development and Test on IBM Cloud

Today, IBM has announced a cloud services offering that will allow developers to build and test cloud based applications. Furthermore, IBM is offering *free* compute and storage for developers using this new cloud based platform from IBM.

IBM Smart Business Development and Test on IBM Cloud is designed to remove the burdens from developers who spend a great deal of time configuring their own test environments for their applications. By using a cloud service, developers can build and test in a fraction of the time, compared to more traditional methods.

IBM is targeting IT managers who often are managing hundred of projects on an annual basis. As such, this service certainly has the potential to translate into a competitive advantage. By decreasing development times, companies can move their products and services to market much faster.

The service already supports third-party and open-source tools. To read more about the offering, check out the official site from IBM.

What's Google Got On You?

As you rightly know, Google has loads of information about *everything* under the sun, and more. Especially the personal information they are storing in their apps like GMail, Google Apps, Google Talk, Google Voice,  etc., etc. That obviously raises some concerns about privacy, in particular personal privacy. Enter the Google Dashboard - a new service that shows a summary of the data stored with a Google account.

"The dashboard lists some of the information associated with the Google services you use: your name, your email address, the number of contacts, the number of conversations in your Gmail inbox, your Google profile, the most recent entries from the web history etc. It's a long answer to the question: "What does Google know about me?"

It is nice to see a little transparency into their systems, and this is a big refreshing step in the right direction for the search giant.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The City of LA Goes Google!

Talk about a major win for Google, Los Angeles is replacing GroupWise with Google Apps. Could this be signaling a shift in thought and in practice? Moving away from the hoards of servers that local, provincial/state and federal governments have utilized to power their existing messaging infrastructures and into the cloud.
"The LA City Council Tuesday approved a multi-million dollar deal that will see the City of Los Angeles' 30,000 employees rely on Google Apps for e-mail and other Internet services.

However, while most are labeling the $7.2 million deal as a big win for Google, a significant amount of people are talking about what the unanimous vote means for Microsoft. The AP reports that the Council chose Google's offer over competing bids from Microsoft and more than a dozen other technology firms." [Yahoo Finance]

You can read more about this story here.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Get secure. Enable SSH!

This post is GoDaddy specific, however considering the number of GoDaddy users out there, it is relevant. Feel free to comment with links to other hosting providers, big or small, with instructions or guides on how to setup SSH (and STOP! USING! FTP!)

To Enable SSH on Your Linux Shared Hosting Account

  1. Log in to your Account Manager.
  2. In the My Products section, select Hosting.
  3. Next to the hosting account you want to modify, click Manage Account.
  4. In the Settings section of the Hosting Control Center, click the SSH icon.
  5. Type your Country Code, Phone Number, and Extension (if applicable) in the corresponding fields and click Enable.
    NOTE: SSH requires a strong password. If prompted to change your password, click Change Password, type a new password, and click OK.
  6. GoDaddy will call the phone number provided within 10 minutes. Once the connection is established, an automated message plays a message containing a PIN. Type the PIN number into the You will be called with your PIN field and click Verify.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Windows 7 RC1 - Coming soon ... to a computer near you?

One more day to wait until everyone can get their hands on a copy of the latest operating system from Microsoft, Windows 7.  Microsoft has posted on the Windows 7 website that the download will be publicly available until July. That should allow all an ample amount of time to get their hands on RC1 and run it through their loops.

Advertised heavily as being "faster [and], more reliable", there is a significant amount of interest in this major upgrade to the Windows platform. As many blogs and news sites continue to publish very impressive stats, the anxious early adopters leverage the Torrent sites that are already thrashing with various releases.

This has to be a big WIN for Microsoft, especially in the desktop OS arena since Vista was/is so unpopular in the enterprise IT market as well as the home user groups.  Vista has left a bitter taste in the mouths of IT Managers, and professionals alike. While this is looking like a very promising platform, I doubt you will see it showing up on your corporate PC any time soon, once released.

As a recent Mac convert, I do not see myself changing stripes again but I will certainly be downloading a copy of Windows 7 tomorrow, firing up VMWare Fusion, and taking it for a spin. Let's hope Microsoft learned from the Beta release of Windows 7 that brought the farm to a stand still and scaled up/out their infrastructure in anticipation of another massive surge in traffic.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Sync your LDAP with Google Enterprise Apps

Yes, it has been a *long* time since my last post. What can I say? I have been busy.

Anyhow, as I was plowing through slews of blog posts through Google Reader, I came across an exciting (for some) post on the Official Google Enterprise Blog. Today, Google announced that wrapped into their   Google Apps Premier, Education and Partner Edition solutions lives Google Apps Directory Sync.

What does this mean? You will be able to automatically provision users and groups based on the user data in your LDAP server, such as Microsoft Active Directory or Lotus Domino. Google Apps Directory Sync connects to your Google Apps account and adds/deletes user accounts to match your existing organizational schema.

I'm pretty excited to try that out! Check out the full blog post here.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Holy sh!t. I didn't mean to send that! Undo!

I'm sure just about everyone out in Ether has done this at one time or another... typed up an email and slammed the send button... then realizing a mistake or typo or had some additional time to reflect on their misjudgment. How in the world can I get that back? Some corporate messaging infrastructures allow you to recall you message, and if you want replace it with something else. Now, it looks like GMail is stepping up to the plate and doing something similar by holding the message for 5 seconds giving you the final opportunity to slam the car in park. And the reverse. More on the Official Gmail blog here.

Friday, 13 March 2009

BabyFleming.com goes live!

We I thought it would be a great idea to use a blog to share pictures & musings of our baby, thus the launch of babyfleming.com. Clearly, I took some flack from the Mommy-to-be, as well as many friends. Meh! Who cares! :)

Friday, 20 February 2009

Bye bye Facebook... how to permenantly delete your Facebook account

How to permenantly delete your Facebook account....

After this last episode with Facebook's TOS entitling them to essentially do whatever they want with pictures of you, your family, etc, etc, I have nuked my account from completely.   From theconsumerist.com:

"You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof. "
Even though they back-peddled two days after the uproar, I've had enough. Obviously a lot of other people did too as there are many posts out there just like this one.

Hidden somewhere in the application is a method to delete your account, not just deactivate it.  Please note that this will remove everything for good.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Hulu in Canada and more!

I came across a slick little GNU licensed tool that runs on your Mac called Understudy. It allows access to streaming video through the Front Row interface of Mac OS X and currently supports Hulu and NetFlix.

The trick is to get it to work in Canada; enter Hotspot Shield. I posted about this little tool in the past and am doing so again. After a quick download and install, I was popped behind a US IP address quickly. Fired up Front Row and was watching The Office on Hulu in no time.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Ouch, where's /windows/ ?

That's a stinger... it looks like the demand for Windows 7 has potentially overwhelmed Microsoft's web servers? As of 11:38AM EST I have not been able to get anything but an HTTP 503 - Service Unavailable error on the Windows website.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Windows 7 beta 1comes to TechNet and MSDN

In a post over a CNet news, Ballmer talks about Windows 7 at CES in Vegas. It looks like it will be headed out to TechNet and MSDN users TOMORROW.

"As for the beta of Windows 7, Microsoft said it will be immediately available for technical beta testers and those in Microsoft's TechNet and MSDN developer programs and will be made publicly available on Friday. The company still isn't officially committing to a final release in time for this year's holiday season, although the company is clearly still aiming for that."

** Update **
I just logged into my MSDN account, Windows 7 is listed already!