To Find Out Version of LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) Via the Command Line

I am running a LAMP server on Slicehost. I always have to look up how to determine the version of each component of the LAMP server I am running. I am using Ubuntu Linux 8.04.4 (Hardy). In my case, here are the command-line instructions I use. I hope this helps you too. Btw, the command "whereis" is very helpful in locating programs (i.e. whereis apache2). Linux

> more /etc/issue

or

> lsb_release -a

Apache 2

> /usr/sbin/apache2 -V

Note: Apache 2 doesn't have "httpd" anymore. It was changed to "apache2" instead.

MySQL

First log into your MySQL database from the command line, using something to the effect of:

> mysql -u username -p

Then:

mysql> select version();

PHP

> php -v

or

> php5 -v

Note: This assumes you have PHP 5 installed and that you have installed the Command Line Interface (CLI) to PHP via "sudo aptitude install php5-cli". Alternatively, you can find out the version of PHP via instruction "< ? phpinfo() ?>" within a .php file.

The Authoritative Top 10 Pearl Jam Songs

OK ... authoritative as chosen by me. :-) When anyone asks me my favorite singer or band, there is no hesitation that it is Pearl Jam. Lollapalooza 1992 pretty much defined my musical interest in this band, and there has been no turning back.

I was challenged to come up with my Top 10 favorite songs by this band, led by Eddie Vedder. I would say their catalog consists on the order of 175+ songs, and I like a bunch of them. Narrowing the list down to 10 was horribly difficult. But I did it. I quickly narrowed down the list by grabbing my "5-star" rated songs off of iTunes. There were about 25 of those. Then I listened to those 25 to come up with my decision.

Without further ado, here is the list of all Pearl Jam lists, with video samples so you can get an idea of how great these songs are:

10.

Down (Lost Dogs, 2003): An uplifting song off of their Lost Dogs album, I have no real main reason for liking this song other than I just like it. It almost has an R.E.M type feel to it. Talks about being lifting yourself up from the depths of some sort of despair. I would say this is the most "poppy" song on my list. At least it is not "Last Kiss", I guess (although, I like that song better than a lot of people). By the way, for the video below, I was at that concert in San Francisco :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o1wVTP3gSI

9.

Love Boat Captain (Riot Act, 2002): This song starts builds from slow to fast and ends slow. A great blend of melody and singing. It is actually a very emotional song, especially to Pearl Jam. It is dedicated to nine people that died during a concert Pearl Jam was giving in Denmark in 2000. "Lost nine friends we'll never know, two years ago today".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhtgreZF1cQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6CvDtJmU58

8.

Rearviewmirror (Vs., 1993): A hard-hitting, fast-paced song with Vedder on the guitars. The beginning instruments just captures you. And then "I took a drive today/Time to emancipate". For some reason, I initially thought this song was about some sort of date rape, but them came to realize it was about becoming free of abuse of someone who was hated with a passion. Apparently, this is about Vedder hating is stepfather. The end of this song gets your air guitar going. :-) Oh, and for you Cold Case fans, this song was featured in a two episode series featuring Pearl Jam (right after their greatest hits album "Rearviewmirror" came out).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6lCVgE6xnM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e5N5y58k6U http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Fxk2JrZgvA

7.

State of Love and Trust (The movie "Singles" soundtrack (1992) / Rearviewmirror, 2004): This was written for the 1992 movie "Singles". A song about love and faithfulness, this is just one of those songs that jams. It is fast and the ending guitar playing is awesome.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60HrwY_CsiQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xxw6cf3jFIs

6.

Yellow Ledbetter (Lost Dogs, 2003 / Rearviewmirror, 2004): Mainly a very popular concert ending song, the lighters get thrown up when this song is played. It has been admitted that Jimi Hendrix was "ripped off" for this song. Not a fast song. Lyrically powerful. I believe Vedder has mentioned this being about someone dying in war. I love the song-ending guitar. Another Cold Case featured song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs8y3kneqrs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agF6VCzzjn0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhcnKYvzfZc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLd22ha_-VU

5.

Black (Ten, 1991): Number 1 on many Pearl Jam fans' lists, Black is probably the song I would introduce to a new listener of Pearl Jam...especially one who is more inclined to softer ballads. One of their most emotional songs, I believe it is about a couple's breakup and the pain that goes with it (others say it is about a suicide or an abortion). The sticking lyric - "I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a star in somebody else's sky, but why, why, why, can't it be, can't be mine?". And another Cold Case featured song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6X8Ic86Hx3w http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DTFwYZ6YJU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFVlJAi3Cso http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vi2x28FEwCo

4.

Porch (Ten, 1991): The best song on their debut album Ten in my opinion. Just beating out Black. There really isn't a whole lot to the song, actually. A quick intro, an awesome beginning riff, verse, awesome instrumental, verse, awesome ending. Quick and hard hitting 3 minutes. A great concert song. This song got me loving Pearl Jam. Period. In a way, this song will always be my favorite. By the way, the crowd jump in the second video below from Pink Pop 92 is freaking amazing (about 2 minutes and 50 seconds in).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7piN4dsj-Gg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckRsIy4Zqgo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXtAm7QbwMc

3.

I Got S**t (Merkin Ball, 1995 / Rearviewmirror, 2004): The made for release title is "I Got ID". I like the original title better :-) Capturing me with its initial guitar sequence by Eddie Vedder and Neil Young (yes, that Neil Young), the lyrics start off depressing and emotional. And it stays that way. Great riffs. Neil Young adds a bunch to this song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAMm5ry64MA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMyToPVWH9c

2.

Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town (Vs., 1993): I think this is the longest title of any Pearl Jam song. It is a fairly popular song. Having an acoustic feel, this song really showcases Vedder's lyrical and singing ability. About a woman working in a small town who sees a long lost love interest. I love it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1wQ8cOJbtY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5i6fCGkFYa0

1.

Immortality (Vitalogy, 1994): This song actually snuck upon me as my favorite song. While popular, it is not as well known as songs like Jeremy, Alive, EvenFlow, Last Kiss, etc. In fact, I would call it is a nice gem. I am not quite sure I understand the entire song, although rumors are it is about Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and lyrics were added after his death. For those musical instrument inclined (not me), I think it is a simple enough song. But it is the perfect blend of great vocals, melodies and instrument play that make this tops on my list. And, in case you are interested, it is featured in Cold Case :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1KlnKvtJJw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2niU_FZ_-w http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PowCFdg0rrY

[Other songs in consideration for the top 10: Life Wasted (Pearl Jam), Comatose (Pearl Jam), Corduroy (Vitalogy), Given to Fly (Yield), Faithful (Yield), Dissident (Vs.), In Hiding (Yield), Unthought Known (Backspacer), Animal (Vs.), Evenflow (Ten), Sad (Lost Dogs), Alive (Ten), Thin Air (Binaural)]

Changing Themes After Three Years

After upgrading Wordpress to the latest version, I figured now was the best time as any to change my theme. The Mac-looking theme served me well for a while. Old Theme

But it was time for something fresh. There haven't been many updates to the old theme (Librio) since I first downloaded it. And Wordpress has been steadily moving along. The funny thing, though, is that I chose the current Wordpress default theme (Twenty Ten). It looks good. It is very customizable. And will be updated, as needed, along with future Wordpress updates.

We'll see how long this theme can stick. Right now, it seems to fill the niche just fine.

Offered A Position I Didn't Even Apply For - I Must Be Good!

I open my inbox and I see this message:




Wow! Really? I am honored. While I should probably jump at the chance to take a job offer, one that I didn't apply for mind you, I should probably think about this for a minute. Let's see....

1. It is from a hotmail account. Not really all that professional, Paulette.
2. The Subject is "Application ID2C586 1". Not really an attention grabbing or relevant subject line.
3. The To: is to "trayc.foutz@gmail.com". Not my email address. That's weird that I got it. Was I BCC'd on my own job offer?
4. I am addressed as "Candidate". I would think if you were going to offer me a job paying me (hopefully) a boat load of money, you would at least know my name.
5. Keller Investment Services -- um, who are they?
6. Oh, they want me to be a "partner" to "invest" in "mutually beneficial opportunities". I see. In other words, they WANT MY MONEY! Hey, what kind of job is this?
7. My strong background and experience? So a technologist like myself is the right type of person to be an Advisor Assistant, huh?
7. Application Process? I thought I already had the job. What is this a big tease? And who is this "tim.ki.bauer@gmx.com" person anyway?
8. Sarah Walter? I thought your name was Paulette Villafane? Very confusing. Or she is having an identity crisis.

So, after much consideration and thought, I think I might have to decline this job offer (or application for job offer or whatever it is). It was a close call Paulette/Sarah, but I just don't think we are compatible.


Announcing the Launch of Programming Classroom


So, I finally did it. My company Twin Roots has launched an actual product. Well, not a product exactly; more like a service. Along with my outside partner in crime, Rex Jaeschke, we planned a website where we are providing a service geared towards programmers.

Programming Classroom is the result of this effort.

Rex is well known throughout the programming community, especially in the standards world. He is also highly regarded for his live programming seminars where he teaches classes in C, C++, C# and more.

We thought it would be a great service to offer the seminars that Rex uses in his live classroom teachings to the general public in electronic format. These are the exact same materials from documentation to example source code. It is just that it is at a much lower cost than a classroom setting because it is self-paced learning. You will find seminars on C#, C++, Java, Visual Basic, and C. You will also find some freebies like sample chapters and tips.

So check out ProgrammingClassroom.com and let us know what you think. Needless to say, I am very excited while very nervous at the same time.


10 Songs That Have Made An Impact On My Life

I have thousands of songs in my music collection. And I have heard thousands above and beyond those in that collection.

For some reason, I got to thinking about which songs actually have made an impact on me on a personal level. They are not necessarily my favorite songs nor do I necessarily listen to them much anymore. But they are songs that actually had a noticeable impact on my life or emotions.

Here are 10 songs (well, technically 11 since one set has two songs associated with it), in no particular order of favoritism, that have made some sort of impact on me:

Just the Way You Are - Billy Joel: First song at my wedding. Nuff said, really.

Black - Pearl Jam: My favorite song off the album that made me a Pearl Jam lifer. And they still remain my favorite band ever. Just listen to the lyrics of Black sometime. Love lost.

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana: As cliche as this song has turned out to be, this song literally brought me to a whole new level of musical appreciation. That's really the bottom line. Defined my generation.

Cheeseburger in Paradise - Jimmy Buffett: First concert I ever saw with my then college girlfriend (and now my spouse). Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh.

Cornflake Girl - Tori Amos: First concert I ever saw in a concert hall with the piano as the primary instrument. Tori Amos rocks the piano and it made me a Tori Amos fan forever.

Caribbean Queen - Billy Ocean: My first EVER concert. I was about 10 years old at the county fair in Ft. Lauderdale. It was at that point I new I loved music.

To The Bone - Sex Police / Fun & Games - The Connells: These two bands really help define my college experience. The Sex Police specifically helped to define one of the greatest times I have ever had in my life.

Brass Monkey - Beastie Boys: Might have been the first *cassette tape* I owned. Remember the tail of the airplane on the cover? My middle school years were heavily influenced by this song and album from many different perspectives.

Joining You - Alanis Morissette: Just listen to the lyrics and you will understand why I put it here. I really find the story in the lyrics kinda chilling (the story might actually be true if I remember correctly). And I love the riffs. I have never grown tired of this song. Alanis is one of the most underrated musicians of my time.

Ice, Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice: The first *CD* I ever owned. Got it as a joint gift with my first portable CD player. Also the song that made me realized that I might just sometimes be ridiculed for the choice of music that I may like (as I am with Kelly Clarkson now).


My Communications Infrastructure is led by Google Voice (with teammates the iPhone and Ooma)

In the last month I have completely revamped my communications infrastructure, hopefully for the better.

Here are the before and after pictures.

Before


After


Yep. I am using Google Voice as a hub for phone communications. My Google Voice number will be a primary number for people to contact me. Depending on the person calling, Google Voice will forward to my iPhone, my home phone, my spouse's mobile phone or any combination of the three. (With Google Voice, you can actually get so granular that you can forward to different numbers based on the person calling, have a different greeting for any person, and a different voicemail message for any person or group of people). And I can add or remove phones from the forwarding mechanism at my leisure because my Google Voice number will shield anyone who calls from the black box that is now my web of communication facilities.

Sure people will still call my iPhone directly. And I expect some people to do that as it is my primary line for business discussions, etc. But for a majority of people, calling the Google Voice number will be all that is needed.

And, as what I am seeing as a huge money saver, I have left Vonage (where I was paying $20-25/mo) and came to Ooma. I paid $199+tax at Costco for free U.S. calls for life. Ooma has premium services that you can pay for, but at this point, since I have Google Voice, I don't see the need just yet. (Note: I had no real negative issues with Vonage. The service was actually very good for the time I had it. But, you can't blame someone for trying to save some money).

What if Ooma goes out of business? Well, that's the beauty of Google Voice. I can remove Ooma and add something else to the infrastructure and no one would be the wiser. People know the Google Voice number and don't really care how (and with what device) I answer the phone on the other side. I am actually considering adding a Skype phone number to my account to see if I can forward numbers to the Skype number for the times I am away from my home and online.

Here are my assumptions about using Google Voice as a communications hub:

  1. Google is not going out of business anytime soon. Thus, my Google Voice number can be my number for life.
  2. Google Voice will continue to be free (or ad supported), or some reasonable charge if it comes to that.
  3. Google Voice will keep my privacy just as well as the government does with respect to my phone calls ;-)

We'll see how this all plays out; but right now I feel excited with my new setup.

Google Voice is in beta right now, but you can sign up for an invitation and these invitations are going out daily.


Save 35% on an Apple iPhone Using Microsoft Bing??

[Note: This deal could stop working at anytime. But it was working as of June 10, 2009 2:50 PM]

Well, I would say this is quasi ironic.

Check out the results of the top of this link: http://www.bing.com/search?q=att

Notice how it has a "Bing Cashback" logo at the very top result which is the AT&T Official Wireless Site.

So apparently, if you use Microsoft Bing to buy a phone at AT&T, including the Apple iPhone 3GS, you will get 35% off your purchase!

Microsoft and Apple are "partners" here. Like I said, quasi-ironic.

There is a noted stipulation that this is for new subscribers; that could be true, but I can't verify it.

Check out these links for more info on this:

FatWallet Forums
MacRumors Forums

And as always, your mileage may vary (YMMV) :-)


Please Help Me Choose a Worthy Computer Desk Chair

I am in the market for a good computer desk chair. I mean one like Chris Pirillo has in his office -- the Grahl Synchron 8, which apparently is not sold publicly anymore. I could do without that crazy price, though. ;)


I am looking for full body support to help keep my back as pain free as possible. My sciatic nerve is really irritating me. I am willing to spend a pretty fair amount for a chair that will keep me comfortable and pain free.

Some others I am considering are:

The Kneelsit



The Mirra


The Aeron



Any recommendations?

Thanks!


Installing LAMP and Wordpress on Slicehost (or elsewhere) Redux

[Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any mishaps that may occur by following these steps or advice because you follow them out of your own free will.] — I figure I better put that up-front, again.
:)

My original post on installing a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) server with Wordpress seems to have helped at least a few people.

I have since come up with a few more random, but I think helpful, tidbits since writing that post. I will list them here.

Basic Commands

'ls -alR' for a recursive look at all owners and groups, etc.

Transferring your Blog to Wordpress.org

If you are importing your blog from somewhere else and the upload doesn't seem to be working (e.g., when you click the "Import" button you see no screen changes and/or you the browser is just "spinning"):

  • create uploads directory in wp-content
  • you may have to set wp-content to chmod 777 permissions for import
    - first try 755 on uploads. If it doesn't work, then
    - then try 777 on uploads. If it doesn't work, then
    - then try 777 on wp-content
  • revert everything back to 755, or what you had it before

If you are moving from wordpress.com to wordpress.org and you need your blogroll, you need to export this separately (it is not included as part of the normal export from wordpress.com). You go to http://your-wordpressDOTcom-domain.com/wp-links-opml.php and save the XML you see and then import via the blogroll/import capability (or you can just enter the link to the opml I mentioned before right in the blogroll import). Note the export only seems to work in Firefox and IE. Safari gave me a blank page.

SSL

If you want SSL for Apache - sudo a2enmod SSL (see article)

If you want SSL for your Wordpress administration areas, enable SSL for wp-admin (See documentation)

For SSL resolution -- if you are only using SSL on one site and you have other sites, see this forum post.

Final Setup Steps for Wordpress

Make sure www-data has write access to the following --- Do a 'chmod -R g+w' on wp-content/themes,wp-content/uploads

For final permissions:

  • find public -type d | xargs chmod 0755
  • find public -type f | xargs chmod 0644 (files)
  • find public -type d | xargs chown username:www-data
  • find public -type f | xargs chown username:www-data

If testing your wordpress.org somewhere besides the live domain, make sure to remember this article before going live.

If you find images to be funky after going live -- like still pointing to your old domain or testbed site, you can manually do a search and replace in the database or use a plug in from here.

If file types should be working that aren't working (xsl, html), maybe add to the sites-available vhost the allowed file types for the certain directory in question. For example, I added xsl because of Google Sitemaps and wanting to view my sitemaps in the browser.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics code goes above the tag in the footer file of your Wordpress theme (see article)

WP Super Cache

If you are looking for a plugin that might speed up your blog by serving static, cached HTML instead of processing PHP constantly, then look to WP Super Cache. If you set up your LAMP server with Worpdress like I explained in my original post, then instead of using .htaccess, you will be putting any rules in the vhost -- especially in steps 7 and 8 in the installation instructions.

Exim

Maybe replace exim with an external smtp server.

'sudo /usr/sbin/exim4' to get access to exim commands (like seeing message queue -- exim4 -bp)

If exim4 is not working for Google Apps for some reason, check this out.


Why Backblaze Is My Choice For Online Backup Provider

I chose Backblaze as my online backup service provider for one year (possibly, longer).

It was actually a tough choice. I was weighing many options. Do I just go with the well-known leaders (by customer base), such as Mozy or Carbonite? Do I go with a provider that offers me a finite quantity of backup space per subscription, but allows me to backup unlimited computers, such as SpiderOak?

Obviously, the answers to these questions were "No"; so here is why I went with Backblaze:

  • Good communication -- Backblaze communicated with me via Twitter and answered my pre-sales questions via email. SpiderOak was also very good in its email communication with me. Carbonite, iDrive, Mozy, Safecopy also communicated with me satisfactorily as well.
  • Let me into the Mac beta trial -- While very late into the party (they publicly released for the Mac a week later), Backblaze gave me an invitation to try their Mac service before it went public.
  • Ease of Use / Function Offering Ratio Balance -- It was very easy to set up the client on my MacBook Pro and get to backing up. An icon sits in my menu bar and allows me quick access to see what and how much is being backed up. But just because it is easy to use, doesn't mean they skimped on the functionality. I can throttle my backup bandwidth; choose file types and folders to exclude; set my own encryption key; and set basic scheduling options.
  • Price -- My choice came down to BackBlaze and SpiderOak. At retail, SpiderOak would have cost me $100/yr. Backblaze $50/yr. Like many people, I am doing my best to try to conserve some money, make appropriate purchase decisions. And while I really believe SpiderOak is a player in this space, a lot of my decision, maybe sadly, was based upon cost. Backblaze is a legitimate player and the cost was right -- especially after the 10% Chris Pirillo discount, which sealed the deal for me. (To be fair, you can find 10% discounts for SpiderOak and there are even some 20% discounts out there if you are resourceful)
  • Allows me to backup external drives -- As I write this, I am backing up content on an external firewire drive connected to my MacBook Pro. This drive is partitioned 3 ways, holding my Time Machine backups, SuperDuper backups and data that I just didn't want taking up space on my primary 120GB MacBook Pro drive (e.g., videos). Backblaze does not allow you to backup your Time Machine data (seems reasonable), but I am backing up about 42 GB of data. I am 7GB into that process, which, probably expectedly, is taking just a tad longer than the primary hard drive.
  • Backup speed -- The throttling mechanism is very useful and seems to work. With various degrees of throttling used in the 8 days, average 12 hours/day time it took me to backup 42.5 GB of data on my MacBook Pro, I average about 0.45 GB (450 MB) per hour. That seems pretty good to me.
  • Restore -- I tested restore just a little bit. Seemed straightforward and easy. You log into the website. Enter your private encryption key if you decided to use it. Choose what directories/files you want. Then click Restore. An email comes to you really quickly saying a zip file with all the files you chose is ready to be downloaded. If you need a bunch of your stuff urgently, and can't wait for download, you can also order, at extra cost, an overnight shipped DVD or USB drive of your data (see below why this could be an issue, though).

All that said, I do not believe Backblaze is perfect. Here are some items I think need improvement:

  • Multiple Computer Support -- Backblaze would be near perfect if it allowed multiple computer support on one subscription a la SpiderOak and others. While 95% of my time is spent on my MacBook Pro (because I can run both OS X and Windows), I do have another HP laptop. It would be nice if I could just add that computer to current subscription. But, while I can add the HP to my current Backblaze account, I would have to pay another $50/yr. So instead, if I want to backup items from that machine, I use an intermediary like DropBox or SpiderOak (which both offers 2GB of space free) and then access those items from my MacBook Pro to be backed up on BackBlaze.
  • Unencrypted Data on Their Media Restore -- Sort of a good cop, bad cop here. It is actually very cool that Backblaze offers the option to get your data on hard media, overnight. But the problem is that your data comes to you *unencrypted*. Me, I would be a little bit apprehensive of FedEx having a drive that has all my data readily accessible. I believe BackBlaze is working on a solution to alleviate this issue, but nothing has been announced publicly. That said, most providers don't offer this capability anyway, so it is a nice-to-have feature. And most people restore their data through download anyway.

So in summary, I believe Backblaze, while imperfect and a relatively new service (especially on the Mac support front) provides a great service. It offers great functionality at a very good price. And I have seen no major issues with the service thus far. And, they seem willing to communicate with you if needed. I have signed up for a year commitment. SpiderOak was a very close second, and, in the end, primarily came down to financials as to why I chose Backblaze over them. I think they are pretty even on all other aspects as for what I require in an online backup provider.

Now I just hope that I am a paid user and they have lured me in, they still won't mind the occasional Tweet every now and then :)


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Company Spam and Scam

At 8:44 PM last night, I get this email in my Apple Mail inbox from someone named "lisa rey" with the subject "Idea for [joelmarcey.com]". Hey somebody has an idea for my blog!! Great! ;)

Ding! Obviously spam or a scam, without even opening the message. How do I know? Well, first the sender's name has no capitalization. What kind of professional uses a name without capitalizing the first letter of their first and last name? Secondly, the subject screams out programmatic email with the brackets being used as a key to insert website names.

So, what other giveaways are there? I decided to open the message:


So here is what I see

  1. Message was dated 6:46 PM and I got it 2 hours later. Not sure that means much.
  2. Email address has about 10 digits after the name ellie. So, there is obviously a program generating email addresses. I mean, come on, at least have lisarey123456789@gmail.com ;)
  3. The greeting addresses me as "Website Owner". Another indication of automation and spamming is not addressing you by your real name.
  4. An address, but no company name or link to company website. They even say "Our company is on the first page when you search on Google for our primary search term 'SEO Company'". REALLY? But you won't tell me what the name of your company is, huh? (btw, here is the search result for "SEO Company" on Google.
  5. They say "Simply reply with opt out if not interested to hear from us". Not very good English, if you ask me.
  6. I also did a search on Google and found other people seeing these types of emails.

So I wonder what would happen if I replied?? Not sure I am going to try to find out :-)


Top 25 Played Songs In My iTunes Collection As of April 2009

It has been about a year since I posted a list of my favorite music at a given point in time. I always like these sorts of lists because it gives me a chance to reflect on my personality when it comes to music. I also like when I see other lists like this because it reminds me that I am missing a bunch of great songs in my music collection, even though I have well over 3000 songs. So I go and buy some.

Anyway, I was looking at my iTunes playlists today and found one called "Top 25 Most Played". I looked in there and was surprised what I saw. Now these are the most played since I moved my music to iTunes in May 2008. Here is the list:

  1. Last Name -- Carrie Underwood (Played 33 times)
  2. Walk Away -- Kelly Clarkson (31 times)
  3. Life Wasted -- Pearl Jam (29 times)
  4. SIgned, Sealed, Delivered -- Stevie Wonder (25 times)
  5. All Mixed Up -- 311 (25 times)
  6. Killer Queen -- Queen (24 times)
  7. Hello (American Idol Performance) -- David Cook (21 times)
  8. Seasons of Love -- Rent the Musical (20 times)
  9. Comfortably Numb [Live] -- Roger Waters with Van Morrison (19 times)
  10. Gloria -- Van Morrison (18 times)
  11. Because of You -- Kelly Clarkson (18 times)
  12. Killing Me Softly With His Song - Fugees (16 times)
  13. Since U Been Gone -- Kelly Clarkson (16 times)
  14. Drops of Jupiter -- Train (16 times)
  15. No Diggity -- Blackstreet & Dr. Dre (14 times)
  16. Higher Ground -- Stevie Wonder (14 times)
  17. Don't Know Why -- Norah Jones (13 times)
  18. Wanted Dead or Alive -- Bon Jovi (12 times)
  19. Jump Around -- House of Pain (12 times)
  20. Illusion, Coma, Pimp and Circumstance -- Prince (12 times)
  21. It's So Hard To Say Goodbye -- Boyz II Men (11 times)
  22. Don't Let Love Go -- En Vogue (11 times)
  23. Upside Down -- Jack Johnson (11 times)
  24. Behind These Hazel Eyes -- Kelly Clarkson (11 times)
  25. Verse Chorus Verse -- Nirvana (11 times)

(Moving up quickly: Independence Day -- Martina McBride, Kiss from a Rose -- Seal, Alone -- Heart, On the Other Side of the Truth -- Sex Police, Animal -- Pearl Jam)

So what does this list show? Well, that I have a pretty diverse musical taste. I like American Idol (yes, I admit that with no shame). Kelly Clarkson seems to be my favorite artist (although it really is Pearl Jam). And.....that I let my kids listen to the Curious George Soundtrack a little too much (WHAT THE HECK IS JACK JOHNSON DOING IN HERE :) )


MacBook Pro Battery Health Waning Quickly - But Why?

I usually leave my MacBook Pro sitting on my desk connected to a power adapter. Since I had the battery replaced back in October 2008, my guess is that I may have cycled through a power charge at the most 10-15 times.

However, this past week I had my MacBook Pro out and about around the house way more than usual. I would use the computer on battery a bit, then recharge it when I was done. Stuff like that. But, most of the time, even this week, I would still use the MacBook Pro connected to a power adapter.

So, yesterday (4 April 2009), I used iStatPro (highly recommended widget) to check the health of my battery. It was at around 96% after about 20 cycles. I didn't think this was too bad. Before I went to bed, I noticed my batter was down to about 35% as I had been using it untethered to my power adapter. So I shutdown the computer, plug it into the power adapter and then went to bed.

This morning (5 April 2009) I woke up to the strangest thing. I noticed the light to my power adapter was *off*. No green light to mean the battery was charged. No red (or is it orange?) light to mean that the battery was charging. Nothing. So I removed the adapter from the MacBook Pro and plugged it back in; then the light went on as to indicate it was charging.

When I booted the computer up, I noticed the battery still had only 35% charge. What the heck? I had it plugged in all night. So I brought up iStatPro again, and here is what I found :-( (except replace the 100% with a 35% because I just took this snapshot right now)


69% health after only 21 cycles!!!!! No way that is normal.

Then I opened up System Profiler and found corroborating evidence.


I tried resetting the SMC, but that didn't help.

So what is going on here? I must be doing something wrong, right?

Will calibrating the battery help me or am I just screwed and going to have to bring the battery back to the Apple Store again for replacement?


OnLive - Intel, AMD, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo Had Better Be On High Alert

I was listening to Windows Weekly the other day, and the topic of OnLive came up. Maybe I live under a rock, but I had never heard of OnLive. Well, I have now. And if their vision comes to fruition, there better be some companies that better get in gear or start to s#%t in their pants.

OnLive, in a nutshell, is a "cloud" video game service. In other words, all video games live on their servers and you subscribe to the ones that you want to play. But you don't download the games to your machine and play them locally. You play them on *their* servers, and they push content back and forth to you through your web browser via your broadband connection. In other words, your computer now becomes a glorified dumb internet terminal that receives the images of the actions you perform in the video game; the OnLive servers do all of the heavy lifting of graphics processing.

So, the theory is that you can have a NetBook or an old Centrino laptop and you can play Crysis!! Crysis on a NetBook?!? I don't effing believe it. But that is their vision, and with the way the video game companies are signing up in droves to be a part of this service (can you say EA?), this vision may actually have legs.

And if it has legs, oh my, how that changes things for companies like:

Intel, AMD: Video games are the most processor intensive applications in the world. If OnLive is successful, that opens the flood gates for more processor-intensive subscription-type markets. People can buy less powerful machines, but still get top quality functionality. That could eat heavily into the Intel and AMD profit margins -- although, Intel and AMD should hope that OnLive buys their processors for the OnLive servers.

Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo: Well, this is simple. The video game console becomes obsolete. As Paul Thurrott alluded to in Windows Weekly - 'Microsoft just wasted $5 billion in their XBox investment'

Now, of course, broadband would need to be plentiful. Quality of Service would need to be guaranteed. As they alluded in the Windows Weekly show - hey, Comcast, are you listening? And, there are other hurdles to overcome. They were talking about Amazon buying this service being a good play. I am not 100% convinced right now of that being a smart move; but if this does what I think it might do, then yes, any company should buy OnLive if they had the resources.

This is definitely something I will be keeping tabs on because this could be a "game changer" (pun absolutely intended). And I don't say that often.


Conficker - Should Mac Users Be Worried?


So I was watching 60 Minutes last night (I can still hear that tick, tick, tick, tick, tick of the clock....and I am still amazed that Andy Rooney is still around!).

Their lead story was regarding internet viruses, particularly the Conficker virus that is supposedly just sitting dormant on many, many hosts waiting to be triggered.

There are rumors that this virus is going to be triggered on April 1st -- of course, April Fool's Day. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. But it got me thinking......

Should Mac users be concerned?

From what Leslie Stahl was reporting on 60 minutes last night, all internet users should be freaking out about this virus. Maybe that is the case. I don't know, really. I thought this was primarily a Windows virus. But a Symantec VP in the 60 minutes piece thinks that Norton will be able to help all users.

So, are you Mac users running out and buying Norton AntiVirus for the Mac? Do you still think that Mac users don't need to be worried about anti-virus software?

I have a feeling I know where most people fall on this debate ;-)


Choosing an Online Backup Service - Revisited

[Update 3: After tweeting Backblaze about me not being able to use their service because of no Mac support -- I get a reply inviting me to their private beta. Thanks Backblaze! But now my decision is that much harder :-)]

[Update 2: I just realized that Backblaze does not currently have a publicly available Mac version. That rules them out, for now]

[Update: I have received two more candidate possibilities from Twitter of all places. ScottBourne of Mac fame recommended BackJack which looks interesting, but maybe a bit overkill for me. SpiderOak_Inc must have seen my posts and recommended SpiderOak, and, while I was wary and had never heard of them, their service is quite compelling, especially the zero knowledge policy. And here I thought I had almost made my decision].

Back in December, I wrote about my desire to choose an online backup service. Since then, I am still without a true service (I am doing some hodgepodge things right now to give me some semblance of offsite backup; but nothing very formal).

The desire to choose one is still there; and for whatever reason, I really wanting to choose one like right now.

I have narrowed my choices down to 4:

  • Carbonite (they finally have a Mac client; plus I can support Leo Laporte and TWiT since Carbonite sponsors Leo's awesome and free podcasts)
  • Backblaze (they are less known, but get great reviews; plus their front page "ad" is kinda cool :-) ---- Mac version currently closed to public, but I have beta invite)
  • SafeCopy (I believe they are quite new, but people have given them thumbs up; but are they too new??)
  • DropBox (There free service is actually quite compelling; I use it....but I think they are the costliest of the bunch here when it comes to getting more storage)

[Mozy -- you are out because you still cannot handle encrypted files from what I understand -- prove me wrong!]

Let me give you my current thought process:

Use the free version of DropBox to share files between my Windows laptop and my MacBook Pro, and then use Carbonite to backup offsite. I would need DropBox because Carbonite and many others only allow you to register one computer for backup, so I would use DropBox to move files I want backed up from my Windows computer over to the Mac (which will be my primary, registered computer). But, something like a SafeCopy would allow me to have unlimited computers registered because their pricing is based on storage.

So help me out. I would appreciate it. I would especially appreciate any representatives from the above companies coming by and selling me on their service.

Thanks!