Category Archives: Technology

Release: Printable Graphpads for Livescribe!

Several months ago, I received Livescribe’s Pulse Smartpen as a birthday present. At the time, I was amazed by the features and the concept of such a device. It soon began to play an integral role in my technological life and now I really would be lost without it. You can see my full review (after months of using it) here. As I have mentioned on the official Livescribe Forums several times, the only thing that the Pulse Smartpen lacks is graph paper. Now I’m not the only one that has noticed this and Livescribe has been promising to release dot paper with grid lines on it at some point. Unfortunately, they’ve been saying that for a little over a year now. As I’m sure most of you know already, when Livescribe says something, it usually takes them some time to actually do it. Personally, I’m not a big fan of waiting for someone else to do something when it’s relatively easy (though inconvenient) to do it on my own. Of course, Livescribe has an SDK. However, the SDK is only downloadable to developers. No problem, to become an “official developer,” you just need to fill out a registration form and then download the SDK. Using the SDK, I eventually managed to create my first paper project for the smartpen. I of course dubbed it: Quarter Inch Printable Graphpad 1. However, the only problem with the current SDK is that it’s not currently possible to script page number generation. This is supposedly a feature that will be released in the long awaited Desktop SDK. Coincidently, Livescribe plans to release this by the end of quarter 2, 2010. To the end user this simply means that it will take a slightly longer time to input the pages to Livescribe Desktop. I should add that uploading custom pages currently only works with Livescribe Desktop for Windows. It is currently incompatible with Livescribe Desktop for Macintosh.

I’ve successfully created four of these graphpads (all with quarter inch graph paper as a template) and all of them have basic paper replay controls. Each of these graphpads is 25 pages long, leaving you with 100 unique pages total. However, I haven’t licensed the fourth graphpad as I haven’t had a need for it (yet) myself. I would be willing to license and release it if people request it because they need it. Chances are, at some point I will end up needing it myself and will release it at that time.

If you are interested in downloading and deploying these graphpads, I recommend that you head over to the download page, where you can find all of the necessary links and instructions.

Why Intense Debate Still Isn’t Ready For WordPress Use!

Intense Debate is definitely one of the best debate/comment systems out there. There’s no question of that here! Automattic has done a brilliant job with Intense Debate but it still needs a lot of work. I love the fact that one Intense Debate account allows you to login to many different sites to post comments because of their diverse and widespread plugins for many different platforms. It certainly is easier to users and to webmasters because they don’t have to worry about pruning for spam and checking on their spam plugins. Sure, a webmaster still needs to look into those but with Intense Debate, the pruning is all handled by them and not by you. The time needed to clean up the spam is greatly reduced.

I for one was very excited when Intense Debate announced Sign In. I don’t know if you have noticed but Automattic has slowly been implementing that across all of their platforms. However, across their other platforms, they have also included account mergers, merging accounts between services with the account with identical email addresses. That is where they really shine. I’ve had a account for a while, because I needed the API Key for Akismet. I’ve also had a Gravatar because I love not having to set my avatar up on every site I start up. Late last year, they merged the databases of Gravatar with and my two accounts became connected. There was no longer a disconnect.

However, the Intense Debate implementation failed in this context. Account Mergers are not possible at this time. The Intense Debate Team said:

If you already have both IntenseDebate and accounts, don’t worry – we will be merging your accounts in the next phase of our integration, so keep commenting!

That’s good, it means that integration is coming but it’s still not quite ready for mainstream use. Let me give you my own story.

I decided to try out Intense Debate myself to see if it would fit the needs of this site. I ended up creating a new Intense Debate account, not realizing that I could just sign on with my login and password. I linked this site to and my comments synced perfectly with Intense Debate. Then of course, I read this post and decided that I wanted my Intense Debate profile to be the same as my one. Of course, I deleted my Intense Debate account and then reset the plugin. I tried to connect it to my “new” account but of course, it wouldn’t let me do that. It seems that you need to disconnect your WordPress blog from Intense Debate before deleting or switching accounts. Now I’m stuck, without Intense Debate. My hope is, that when the merger goes through properly, they will realize that my orphaned blog belongs to my account and attach the two together. That would save a lot of hassle for all of us who don’t read directions properly before beginning.

Therefore Intense Debate isn’t quite ready for WordPress use. It’s very close and it’s getting closer, but there is still a short ways to go. Once they manage to complete the merger, I for one will be quite pleased with them. I’m just hoping the “next phase of [their] integration” happens soon!

Switching from WordPress MU to WordPress

For almost a year now, I ran a WordPress MU site with BuddyPress, and bbPress, all running the latest bleeding-edge SVN releases. Unfortunately, I soon learned that this is not an easy task at all. Bleeding-edge releases, while fun and full of new features are very disaster prone. In the process of fixing things,  other things break and then, it’s just not a happy application. The amount of time I spent fixing things, searching how to fix things, and scratching my head because I just couldn’t fix things was just too much. Obviously, running bleeding-edge software on a production site isn’t the best of ideas.

I was unable to keep up with the updates and eventually the sites just died. Some programs on the Virtual Private Server insisted on filling up the virtual hard drive with lots and lots of statistical data. Unfortunately, statistical data on several dead websites is hardly useful at all. Once the virtual drive was full the server basically destroyed itself. Isn’t that just lots of fun?

After several months and several domain expiries, I decided it would make sense to get rid of a testing ground and only keep production sites. I reasoned that if a testing ground was needed, it would be easy enough to build on my local virtualbox setup of Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Server Edition. I reloaded the VPS with CentOS 5 and happily was greeted with an empty hard drive again. Last time, my VPS was running Kloxo from LXLabs. Unfortunately, after the great HyperVM and Kloxo vulnerabilities of 2009, I was very wary with installing Kloxo again. It also had the “great” statistical tendencies.

I decided to install Webmin and it’s module virtualmin for administration because I have used it before and it is a truly much better alternative to Kloxo. Virtualmin, though has a paid version, however, in my experience, the GPL one works just fine. Admittedly, I do know my way around Linux and could easily run all of these commands through an SSH terminal but it’s much easier to just use a web-based control panel.

The install was quick and painless, just a simple bash script that needed execution and everything was working fine. I logged in to Virtualmin, created a new account for this domain, after modifying features per domain and set up was complete. I simply had to install WordPress and then upload modified sections of my database from the WordPress MU install. From there, it was simply configuring permissions, installing plugins, setting themes, and embedding functions.

In an afternoon’s work, I managed to backup all of my data from WordPress MU, BuddyPress, and bbPress, reload my Virtual Private Server, install a new control panel, set up new DNS with XNAME, and restore my backups to WordPress (Single User). Hopefully here, problems will be virtually non-existent and with some luck, everything should work for good this time.

Review: Refurbished Logitech MX Revolution!

The Logitech MX Revolution (left) has been called, “The World’s Most Advanced Mouse!” by Logitech as well as many other third party reviewers such as myself. I’m inclined to agree to with them even after just a couple of weeks with the mouse.

I bought the MX Revolution refurbished off of eBay because I really don’t feel like spending $80 on a new mouse. EvenLogitech MX Revolution if it was going to Revolutionize my mousing. I ended up getting a fairly decent deal on it and purchased it (refurbished) for $40.

Honestly, would I say the functionality of the MX Revolution justifies it’s steep price. Yes! I would. It’s many buttons, dual wheels, and fancy look, as well as ergonomic design definitely justifies it. There are so many buttons on the thing that I still haven’t found a use for around 3 of them yet! The mouse if obviously built for right-handed people and as such it works perfectly for me.

I’m primarily an Ubuntu user and as such was expecting to be given a hard time by Logitech. However, I was pleasantly surprised when everything just worked. I love the charger and the lithium-ion battery is amazing. I only have to charge it once a week.

Needless to say, I’m very, very impressed with what Logitech has come up with and will continue to be a user.

Is Google Trying to Replace My Phone Company?

At first it sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? Google trying to replace phone companies? The concept sounds kind of crazy. That’s what I thought too… until I did a little bit more research. And honestly speaking, I too have gotten a Google Voice number!

Google Voice is one of Google’s latest endeavors. Their philosophy is not one phone number per device, but rather one phone number per person. It’s an amazing philosophy and the results are pretty damn impressive! Google Voice is currently a private beta and is invitation only. An invitation is also rather hard to obtain for those of us without friends already using Google Voice. I emailed a few of mine and a couple hours later, I was the proud recipient of a Google Voice invitation! I signed up and decided to give it a whirl.

Currently, in terms of phone services, I have a home phone number (powered by Vonage) as well as a cellular device, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 with AT&T as the service provider. I love the fact that Vonage emails me transcriptions of my voice messages and allows me to listen to them from the web-based interface. Unfortunately, AT&T does not. This means that my voice messages are in two different places and makes things much harder to look for. My main reason for looking into Google Voice was so that I could get all of my messages transcribed and emailed to me. It makes life much easier when all of your messages come to one inbox!

As part of the Google Voice signup process, I had to choose my new “Google Number”, effectively this is just a standard phone number powered by Google Voice! Here’s the cool part, it allows me to have free national calling as well as extremely low rates to most countries. Not quite as low as Vonage but still much lower than AT&T! The beauty of it is that whenever anyone calls my new Google Number, it will automatically ring both my Vonage phone and my Xperia X1 and whichever one I answer with will take the call. Of course, there is a boatload of other features that Google Voice offers as well and all of them are truly amazing solutions! Best of all Google Voice is free! You can view the full feature list here.

After looking through Google Voice and all of it’s features it seems that Google has the infrastructure set up to successfully replace my phone company. Unfortunately for them, they were unable to buy the airwave space that they required in order to become a cellular phone company. For now however, I don’t see Google Voice replacing my phone companies but rather working along with them to add features and functionality at low cost. In the future, however, I could definitely see Google replacing my phone company with Google Voice and I would guess that they would do a brilliant job at it. I for one would be willing to pay Google for the service, though I do prefer free over fee any day.

For a beta product, Google Voice certainly is a very impressive service. It’s something you notice with Google a lot. All of their products that are considered beta or even pre-alpha are very good quality. Honestly speaking their beta products are a lot of time better than paid products from other companies! In fact, I’m writing this from Google Chrome for Linux unstable on Ubuntu 9.04. That means pre-alpha stage. Guess what? In the two months that I’ve been using it, the only thing it can’t do is print successfully — something that Google warned me about before I installed Chrome for Linux. It’s something I do rarely as it is and if I ever do need to print, it doesn’t take too much effort to fire up Mozilla Firefox and print from there.

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Officially Released!

While I haven’t had time to test it out for myself yet, I am aware that the all new Ubuntu 9.10 was officially released today! As many of you should know, if your reading this, that Ubuntu is literally the best open-source operating system available today. The best part of it is that Ubuntu has and always will be free!

Ubuntu is an African word meaning ‘Humanity to others’, or ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Ubuntu distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world.

The Ubuntu team has really done a great job here. From every release of Ubuntu, they have been true to the official Ubuntu philosophy. The free price tag doesn’t hurt either!

Anyways, I’m downloading 9.10 Desktop from the torrent and right now, it’s taken about 10 minutes and is already 75% done. Here’s the link to the torrent!

I’ll probably end up running an install or an upgrade by this weekend, and then I’ll be sure to let all of you guys know, how it is!!

Stay tuned for more about Ubuntu 9.10 | Karmic Koala!

Tales Of A Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1

Part 1: Tales of a Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 (this post)

Part 2:  Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1… The Plot Thickens

Part 3: Conclusion to My Sony Ericsson XPERIA Repair Woes

As some of you may (or may not) know, I recently purchased a Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1, their top-of-the-line phone running Windows Mobile version 6.1 Professional. This phone is sold with two versions the X1a for sale within North America and the X1i for sale within the rest of the world. As it is much cheaper to purchase an X1i within the United States if bought through a third party on eBay (for example), there is nearly a $500 price difference. I decided to buy the X1i for that reason as I wan’t ready to spend $1000 on a cellphone (I spent less on my laptop) and therefore bought the X1i from eBay for $600 (about) United States Dollars. This purchase was completed nearly two months ago.

For unimportant reasons, the X1 spent most of those two months in it’s box unopened. I only got around to opening the box of the X1 three weeks ago. In the beginning it seemed like a flawless handset but within the first 24 hours problems began to appear. First the volume down button stopped working. Then multiple buttons on the slide-out keyboard began to malfunction until finally at least 8 of them stopped responding at all. After a call with a Sony Ericsson XPERIA Support Technician, I was told that I should hard-reset the phone. An action that totally wipes all data from the device and see if that would bring the keys functionality back. However it didn’t. All it did was manage to irritate me more because now I had no data on the device (I had backups that were recent but would have to be restored) and the keys still didn’t work. The Sony Ericsson representative was shocked that this hadn’t fixed my problem.

The standard protocol for the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 (being Sony Ericsson’s Top of The Line Business Phone) is that any problems with the device, a new one will be shipped out and should be received within 48 hours. As the Sony Ericsson representative was quick to inform me, that only applies if you have a support card. And the sad part is, the seller on eBay informs me that he wasn’t sent any support cards from Sony Ericsson. After refusing to send me out a temporary replacement, another hour is spent on the phone while the representative sets up an RMA. To add insult to this injury, he then informs me that the repair/replace process can take anywhere from 7-14 days after the device is received. Additionally, he tells me that I will need to pay to ship the item to their repair center.

All this because I don’t have a support card?

Doesn’t sound very fair, does it? Had I had a support card, the representative was quick to inform me, they would have immediately sent out a new phone and covered shipping both ways. I don’t see why I should be treated any differently than a customer with a support card. I paid the same ammount of money as anyone who bought the phone with a support card. I have a full warranty as well! Why should I be treated any differently because I don’t have a slip of paper that states SUPPORT CARD on it?

So I paid my shipping charges, and sent my XPERIA X1 on it’s way to Sony Ericsson’s Product Repair Center. About 5 days after I shipped it to them, I got a phone call from another one of their representatives who wished to give me a status update. First, he tells me that my XPERIA X1 is not repairable. He then offers me a choice to accept a brand new XPERIA X1a or get my broken XPERIA X1i back. After comparing the two, I decided I would accept the XPERIA X1a. The representative then informed me that I should receive my new XPERIA X1a by next Wednesday (today). He also informed me that he would be

unable to give [me] a support card, as we [Sony Ericsson Support] don’t carry them in stock.

Effectively, that means that if there are any more problems with the new device, I will have to pay shipping and then wait a long time again. For someone who has spent almost $600 buying one of these new, that doesn’t seem fair at all. It’s also not something I expect from Sony Ericsson, a company whose support department has been exceptional in all my dealings with them before. Seems that they too, are no longer able to provide the exceptional support that they have provided in the past.

Yesterday, I decided to check with Sony Ericsson, to see if they could provide me with a tracking number so that I could verify when my new X1a would be arriving. The representative I spoke with said that,

There is no change in the account status. As far as I can tell, your X1a hasn’t even been shipped yet.

Obviously this sounds a little fishy, as I had been told it would be shipped last friday, four business days ago. The representative then told me, it would be best if I waited till tomorrow (today) and then called back for a status update. As it’s allready 5:30 PM on Wednesday (past UPS delivary time), I think I will go ahead and call them now and see what they have to say.

Overall, I am quite disappointed with the XPERIA X1 so far and even more disappointed with the level of support I have received from Sony Ericsson. They used to be one of the best companies in the industry, however at this point, I’m not sure if I will be buying another device from them. I’m that badly shaken up and dissapointed.

I’ll try to update this with more information as soon as I have it.

You can view part two of this post here