Sunday, December 9, 2012

A retraction ... of sorts ...

    Yes, it's true. Back in August of this year I posted my disdain for the Linux Desktop environment. In my post titled "Did Linux miss the boat? or did it take the train instead?"I hammered the Linux community for not living up to its potential, for being the ugly kid at the back of the classroom. You know the type, the loner, the kid who plays games in his mom's basement until he's in his mid-thirties. "Those guys".

XFDL on iOS Updated

    O.K., this will be a short post to let you guys know that an update is out that fixes many of the issues I had in my last post. So far all seems to be going well. There are still a few minor issues, but nothing that wont be fixed shortly.

Until next time ... 

Thursday, November 29, 2012


    XFDL on iOS!

    Yup, someone has beaten me to punch. Sometimes having a job and a bills can be such a drag. However, in this case, its good thing.

    This is what a form DA 4856 (detailed info redacted for privacy) looks like on an iPhone 4S. For the most part not to bad, however, there are some hick-ups.

    The first issue I ran into was that I couldn't figure how to open a file from DropBox. It took a minute, but I finally did. Basically, open the file in DropBox like you normally would any other file, then when it likes like a large jumble of text, select the "Arrow going into the box" icon, and you will get an option to open the file in the XFDL app.

    My next gripe is something very minor. The forms are not "print quality". They are close, as you can see here:
    The corners don't quite line up properly. Not that I am looking to print from this app, still it would be nice.

    Last thing. It doesn't handle text boxes well. See:
    Since I was the one who filled out this form for my soldier to sign, I know there is lot more text were that came from. Basically, all multi line text areas are treated as a single line and just run off the right side of the page. This is perhaps my biggest complaint.

    Wait, I do have one more. When trying to edit text on my iPhone 4S, the form auto sets the zoom level and position of the form. This has the result of making viewing what you are typing move completely off of the screen. All you can see is a super zoomed version of the top left corner of the page.

    So basically this app is useless right? Wrong!

    This is a version one (1) application and I think we should support this developer so it can get better. I am sure with time and support it will get much better. After all, isn't having this work perfectly a few months from now worth $1.99 today?

    I don't normally advocate for small application that have so many issues. In this case, since users of XFDL files really do not have many other options, I say do it. Support this independent author. Show him some love, and buy his app.

    The author runs a support forum at:

    Until next time ... 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The future of the PC

    This post is all about the current state of personal computer. Recently windows domination slipped a few factions of a percentage point, but does it really mean anything to the average user? Does anyone other than the geeks really care? The answer to both of these is probably a big fat "not really". But it is the geeks, nerds and tech-heads that shape and define the digital world for the average user, so perhaps its only fitting that the architects of the future care more than its tenets.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Did Linux miss the boat? or did it take the train instead?

    This post is all about Linux. This post is not about Mac vs. PC vs. Linux, or any combination therein. No, this is just about Linux and where I feel it is doing great, still failing, and where I think its headed. At least, where I think it should be headed.

Monday, August 20, 2012

DropBox revisited ...

    A while ago I was having an issue with DropBox trying to copy my entire HardDrive to the cloud, thus filling my 2GB cloud storage rather easily. I had received no word from DropBox support at the time of the post. The problem is now resolved.

Fixing "Wide Tabs" in Safari 6

    Ever since I upgraded to Safari 6 for OsX, I have been frustrated by the extra large Tabs. They stretch across the entire window and are generally a waist of space. It has the added benefit of making Safari feel even more bloated and cumbersome that it really is. I have recently found a solution that, so far, is working far better than I expected.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Safari ... has gotten fat ...

    Safari 6 from apple is faster than 5, mostly. It still hangs on some Google pages for some reason with a rainbow beach ball for a few seconds. Overall I can't really see any major improvements. Don't get me wrong, I am sure they are there. There is just this massive glaring issue that is keeping me from seeing anything else. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

DropBox ... FAIL!

    For the last few weeks I have been in a battle, with The problem started after the latest upgrade, and I have yet to be able to find a way to correct it. After three e-mails to their customer support, I have yet to hear from them. The thing is, it seems to be a more complex problem than it should, or needs to be.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

XFDL on a Mac ... has finally arrived!

    Yes, its finally here! PureEdge 6.5 is the older MicroSoft Windows software that was used to read and write XFDL files. The updated version is the IBM Lotus Forms Viewer.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rethinking XFDL

    As many of you know, I not only have a MacBook Pro, I also work with XFDL files. As so many people do, I usually work on these files at work on a MicroSoft Windows based PC. I also have a venerable version of the IBM Forms Viewer for osX, but the last time that was updated was in 2006. Many of the newer forms, and incompatibility issues with newer versions of Apple's operating system, crash the aged program. So, I started working on this problem myself.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Decoding XFDL

    When I first started to work on my own XFDL Viewer for Apple's osX, I knew that it wasn't going to easy. What I didn't know was just how hard it was going to be.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

iOS 5.1.1 JailBreak for A5 devices ... almost here

    Its not often I wait for software to be released with any real amount of anticipation. And then there's the forthcoming Absinthe 2.0 that is scheduled to be released in just over ten hours from the time this post was made.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

AirPrint from any printer

    A few days ago I started to look for ways to print from iPhone 4S. I am not really sure why, it just seemed like something I should be able to do. As it turns out Apple want's you to use only those printers that support "AirPrint". As with everything Apple related, there is always another way. I found two.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

XFDL Viewer for Mac

    If you have read my previous posts on XFDL, then you know that I have been working on an XFDL viewer for the Apple Mac. I have hit, yet again, some snags. Reverse engineering software is not only wrong, but it also illegal. However, reverse engineering a file type isn't, but that doesn't make it easy.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cutting the cable ... revisited

    Yes, I know. It's been a long time since I have made a blog post, and for that I apologize. No, I have not given up on this blog, and yes I still plan to update regularly. If I could make a living running a blog, I would. Still bills need to paid, and with a son in collage those bills add up fast. Work comes first, and unfortunately for the blog, it has paid a heavy price for my absence. After more than a month, i'm back!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

XBMC and Plex Media Server revisited ...

    A little over a week ago I wrote about using Plex and XBMC on the same machine. After having a few days to play around with it I have decided that its time for a revisit to this subject.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bloatware inside of documents ...

    In my last post, I had the idea of revisiting an old project. I had forgotten just how bloated an XFDL file really is. I have spent most of the day working on refining my progress so far and making sure the stage is set for parts of the software that are not yet written. Basically, I spent the day planning and digging through the XML file contained within. I had forgotten just how bad it was in there.

XFDL Viewer for Mac

    Today I decided to revisited a project that I had dropped almost a year ago; to write an XFDL viewer for Mac osX. The last time I tried this, it was a disaster. The forms sort of exploded all over the window and being unfamiliar with RealStudio, I was unable to figure out control arrays. Basically, when ever I opened  a second form, it would also write all of that data onto the first one. It as a less than stellar first attempt.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Commodore Amiga is back ... well, not really

    Today I read an interesting article that peaked my interest. It seems that Commodore USA, LLC is producing a new line of Commodore and Amiga branded computers. As a former Amiga user, I was initially wary of the news. You see, the death throws that costumed the original Commodore company took a very long time. For years no one was certain if there would be support or not. That is until the company was liquidated and sold for spare parts. Until now ... sort of ...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

XBMC, Plex Media Server, Airplay and Ubuntu 11.10 ...

     After spending a few days looking for a solution that would fit into my existing setup, I have almost found a solution that works. What I am looking for sounds really simple, the ability to watch any and all of media when and where I want and on the device that I want to watch it on. Due to conflicting standards, closed source software and the restriction of the MPAA this is much harder than needs to be. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

How to add files plex media server on ubuntu 11.10

    It occurred to me, while reviewing some of my previous posts, that I haven't yet covered some very basic "to-do's" about the Plex Media Server. So this post will cover, among other things, how to add files to the Plex Library on Linux.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ubuntu Media Server ... whats next?

    If you have been following my blog, then you already know that I use Ubuntu 11.10 and the Plex media server software as a "Media Center PC". The Ubuntu PC also functions as file server and has two 500GB partitions for Time Machine Backup from my two Mac's. I have also managed to get Netatalk 2.2.2 and Avahi to play nice with the default Samba file sharing software. I wanted to keep Samba available for when friends with Microsoft Windows laptop's came to visit.

    So far, this setup has been working out much better than expected. The server (which is really just plain Jane Ubuntu 11.10 for desktops) is more stable than I could have hoped for and everything integrates well enough into my network that even my "non-techie" wife can use it regularly from her Mac or from the Roku without any trouble. The real question is, where do I go from here?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Practical Linux ... just my thoughts

    Ever since the early 90's, when I built my first Salckware Linux distribution from source code I have been fascinated with the idea of a free, open-source operating system. When you consider the very idea of an entire planet of free thinking people all coming together, without pay, to make something truly great it staggers the mind. That is, until you really get to the nuts and bolts of it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Time Machine

    Working with Mac osX's Time Machine is suppose to be painless and easy. I suppose that would be true "if" you only used external hard drive's connected to a USB port. But what if your part of an organization? What if you just don't have the desktop real-estate to place a large, bulky, black brick of a drive? What if you just (here is the keyword) "want" your backups stored somewhere else?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Netatalk on Ubuntu 11.10, one last thing to do ...

    In my last post, I gave a nice (at least I thought so) tutorial on Netatalk 2.2.2 on Ubuntu 11.10 so you can share files and even use Apples' very own Time machine for back up.  Since that writing I have found a couple of things. Really, just one, so this post should be a great deal shorter than the last one, but no less important.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Setting up Time Machine and Netatalk 2.2.2 on Ubuntu 11.10

    This was the biggest pain to setup and get working that I have yet encountered with Ubuntu 11.10. There is a small mountain information available on the internet on how to do this, yet none if it worked. I followed all of the guides and searched "man pages" for almost two weeks before I found the the proverbial keys to the kingdom. What follows is everything I learned from weeks of trial and error.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Your smart phone may be your new PC

This is not going to be your typical rundown of who has what, or who does this or that better. No, this is something a bit less ... tangible. It is time for some speculation. Specifically, is Android poised to wipe the virtual walls of the internet with iOS?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lilyhammer ... Sopranos in winter

    Lilyhammer is a new series created by Netflix. I was less than three minutes into the first episode when my wife asked me if I was watching The Sopranos, and she wasn't far off. 

The official descriptions is:
    "After he testifies against a Mafia boss, ex-gangster Frank Tagliano enters the witness protection program and asks to be sent to Norway. Despite the peaceful surroundings, it's not long before Frank strays from the straight and narrow."

 The role of "Frank Tagliano" is played by veteran actor Steven Van Zandt. This show is very well produced and has a solid cast of characters. All I really say is wow! I am defiantly hooked.

    Netflix decided to release the show without any fanfare what-so-ever. It didn't even show up in the list as a new TV show; I had to search for it after hearing about it at work. It makes me wonder if this was an intentional marketing move, or simply a test of "word-of-mouth" advertising? Whatever the case, I am now a bigger fan of Netflix than ever was. If they can keep producing top quality original programming on this level, I will be customer for life.

    The entire first season now available on Netflix for streaming, and if you ever watched any "mobster" types shows or movies, you have to see Lilyhammer.

Upgrade MacBook Pro Hard Drive

    Yesterday I finished upgrading the Hard Drive in my mid-2010 MacBook Pro. The hard drive I chose was the Western Digital 1TB Scorpio Blue. Trust me when I say that a full Terabyte huge, and coming from a mere 320 gigs, its like moving from an apartment into a new house.

    As with all things digital, especially computers, there is always those few pieces of information that never seem to make it in to the "how-to"'s of the internet. This certainly was no different. I did however get it done, after a few failed attempts that is.

    Before we go any further, I should mention that there are two ways to accomplish a Hard Drive upgrade. The first is easy, but takes forever. Its just a matter of swapping the drives and re-installing everything from scratch. Put any backed-up documents or photo's back in and your done. But what about your setting? All of the pages that your browser auto logs you into? Your desktop background? Screen Saver and music? Yes, you can backup and restore all of those things, but it takes a lot of time. There is, however, a better way.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ubuntu, an affordable media server

    Ubuntu is a Linux operating system that is both free and open source. It is also a great way to serve media to your home network and even your television for next to no money. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

On Star Trek ...


    One of my favorite things to do lately is to sit on the couch and watch re-runs of Star Trek on Netflix. Specifically, I am currently going through the entire series of Star Trek: Deep Space 9, and that got me to thinking about a few things.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Physical Fitness

    Its that time of year again, to begin my train up for the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). Most people who see an active duty army unit awake at 6 A.M. will see them conducting PT (Physical Training). However, what most people don't know is PT is designed only to maintain physical fitness, not enhance it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Watching Cable Online

    Around August of 2011 I dropped cable T.V. and switched to Internet streaming services exclusively, and I couldn't be happier.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Apple ... I want to like them ...

     Apple released iBooks 2 and iBooks Author the other day, and after my initial "wow" effect wore off, I am left feeling rather disappointed. Not in the capabilities of the software, or even the idea. Far from it. In fact I applaud Apple for trying to skull drag our broken public education system out of a nearly centuries old system that is not only broken but continues to fail most American children every day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Let there be pictures ...

    It has recently come to my attention that my blog lacks, well, a certain appeal. After re-reading all of my previous posts, I discovered that blog had become somewhat dry and rather boring. Little or no humor, and no pictures at all. Well, I have decided that this blog is not just a sounding board, or a place for "factual" information (it still is that as well). Instead, I have decided to be a bit more light hearted about my writing. I am not saying I won't be factual, but there is definitely room for improvement. Who wants to read one long win on paragraph? I don't. It gets a bit tedious and well ...

Monday, January 16, 2012


    Camera+ is a $0.99 app in the Apple App-Store, and so far, its great. Combined with the free app, instagram, and you have can convert your iPhone into a powerful way to share quality photo's. Using them both feels kind of like twitter for pictures, and for me at least, it works.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

iPhone 4S, it really is about user experience

    Yesterday, I was finally able to upgrade my phone. My old phone was a Motorola Droid 2 Global. I have made several post's about my Droid and it really was a great phone. It did everything it was suppose to do and looked good doing it. The google market place is full of free apps for both work and play. I will miss that phone, sort of ...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

10 Reasons Why Custom ROMs suck

     Yes, you can install a custom rom, and many are very close to being a great alternative, but none are their yet. You can even add new features. But the pain and stress just isn't worth it. These are my top 10 reasons for my frustrations at the entire "Custom ROM" community for the Google Android operating system.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A time for review ...

    In [this previous post] I had started working my way through the book, Mastering Xcode 4: Develop and Design. I had decided to start with this book rather than Programming in Objective-C, third edition. The only real reason for this decision was time; I was looking for a shortcut to Mac and iOS programming. As you will soon see, it didn't quite turn out the way I expected.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ice Cream Sandwich on Droid 2 Global

    Today, I took the plunge and tried a custom ROM for my Motorola Droid 2 Global. Yes, it is an older phone and yes I am eligible for an upgrade in 10 days. With this being the new year, I figured, what the heck, lets go for it.