New Phone Time - HTC EVO 3D

Well, I finally got rid of my Palm Pre. As you can tell from reading my previous entry, I was very happy with my Pre when I first got it. However, it seems like after a few OS updates, Palm just stopped caring. I hadn't seen a system update in over a year by the time I traded in my phone. It had some design flaws too, one of which caused the screen to crack quite easily. I replaced the phone once because of it and it just ended up happening again.

As for my new HTC EVO 3D, I'm really enjoying it. The first thing that got my attention was the screen size. Compared to the Pre, it's huge. It's slightly narrower than the EVO 4G, which is what my wife chose, but it's still a great display. Android, of course, makes it a breeze to navigate and there are plenty of apps available for Twitter, Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, etc. So far no compatability issues with any of the apps I have downloaded.

The home screen was extremely thought out. This phone boasts a dual core 1.2 gHz processor, which it makes full use of. EVERYTHING this phone does in animated in some way, and it doesn't lag a bit. Everything from the weather to the time just jumps off the screen, which brings me to the 3D capabilities of the EVO 3D. The downloadable movies and games are VERY impressive. It comes pre-loaded with a demo Spiderman game that's pretty nice. After seeing the Nintendo 3DS I was a bit skeptical as to the ability of this phone, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The built in 3D camera (it uses two cameras to impose two images over one another) isn't as clear as the movies, but you have to consider the difference in the quality bewteen professional movie equipment and the cameras attached to the phone. The pictures can actually be a bit disorienting, but if you focus on them just the right way, they definitely pop. It reminds me of the way I had to relax my eyes to see the old "magic eye" images. Remember those? It's also nice that you can turn off the 3D if you just want to take regular pictures. You can't email or send 3D pictures over SMS. They get saved in their own unique file format.

Overall, I give the EVO 3D a bug thumbs up. Nice size, Android OS, beautiful display and great sound. I'd call it the full package. Great job HTC.

And We're Back!

In more ways than one. The first way is obvious, back from a hiatus writing blog posts. The second way is back from CFUnited 2010. The third and final way, being the least fun, is back from a server outage.

The gaps in blog posts are going to end. I think by this point I have enough to write about, I just have to set aside a block of time to sit down and write. I was concerned when I started this blog that I wouldn't have enough content for it to be worth it. I sat down the other night and though of several posts I can write, so it shouldn't take me long to pump out several quality posts. It'll be nice to FINALLY provide my readers with some fun and useful tips and tricks to use in their ColdFusion, Flex and AIR apps.

CFUnited 2010 is supposed to be the last one, unless it's picked up by a new owner at possibly a new location. It was great to see all of my old friends and meet all of my new ones. I attended with a three day package and brought along my lovely wife this time around. While I was attending the various sessions offered throughout the day, she was touring the Leesburg area and enjoying what the Lansdowne Resort had to offer. Everyone in attendance was certainly trying to make the last CFUnited the best they had seen. Despite the painful sunburn I had gotten swimming the weekend before, which many of you got to see first hand, I had a great time. I even got my own shout out from Charlie Arehart during his keynote on the CF Community. Thanks Charlie!

The server outage problem is actually a reoccuring problem. My blog is hosted on my own hardware and recently I've had two machines that seem to be having BIOS issues. At the moment I don't have an available backup supply for my servers and sometimes the AC unit causes the power to drain enough to restart a couple of them. Not the greatest setup, I know. As a result, my email server and database server like to throw a "malprogrammed rom error" at startup. This error goes away with a complete power down and restart, but if they're restarted without a complete power interruption, the error just repeats. It's pretty inconvenient because I actually have to physically be there to fix that problem. I'm in the process of building a new server that will allow me to virtualize a few of my machines, so I won't have this problem any more.

Great to be back and great to have something to write about. I'll see you all again soon!

The Palm Pre - My Review

Well, I took the plunge. I was one of the idiots standing out in front of the Sprint Store on Saturday morning waiting to get my hands on the "revolutionary" Palm Pre. My wife and I were quite literally the first two in our town to get our hands on them. I read all the articles, both the good and the bad, checked my local coverage and made my decision from there. My contract with Verizon had just ended and I knew I didn't want a Blackberry. On top of that I've never been a big fan of Verizon's data plans.

The staff at the Sprint Store was great. One of the employees had been trained over the last month to use the phone and was VERY EXCITED about the launch. From outside we could see her bouncing around the store, taking pictures of the staff setting up, even taking a few minutes to do a little dance. At one point, about 5 minutes before they opened the doors, she came outside, grouped us all together, and took a quick picture. She then took the last 5 minutes to show us the features on the phone in person and provide us with some instruction on how to use our phone once we have it. She also volunteered to get together with us after we purchased for a little "How to use your Pre" class if we wanted to. She even volunteered her email address if we had questions down the road. The gentleman that helped us set up our account was very friendly and helpful, despite his store opening 2 hours earlier than normal. We were happy to find out that the Pre did not require any "Pre Specific" plan and that all you had to do was select one of Sprint's standard data plans. We're paying $129.99 a month for Sprint's everything data family plan that covers both phones. A single user can get a Palm Pre for $69.99 a month. He began running down a checklist to setup the phone. I was impressed that the none of the activation had to be done on the internet like the iPhone. All of the questions, profile set up and user agreements were taken care of right on the phone. Our customer service guy couldn't keep up with me. I was finishing his checklist faster than he could check the stuff off (you know how us geeks are). I left the store very excited about my purchase.

Using the phone is actually quite simple. Once you get a few hand gestures down, everything flows quite nicely. Of course it has email, a calendar, memos, etc. The app store is small for now, but it did just hit the market less than a week ago. There are several free apps in the store like Pandora, Fandango, AccuWeather, Tweed (Twitter Client), etc. The copy and paste feature is nice, but so far I haven't found a way to copy and paste from text that isn't "editable" like websites or text messages, only an active text input box. I'm hoping this is just something I'm doing wrong, or else that's a pretty weak copy/paste feature. I LOVE the new Palm Web OS though. Having multiple active apps open at the same time is great. The card view is nice too because it makes it so simple to switch between them quickly and easily. If you want to close an app you just flick it off the screen.

I opted not to buy a Touchstone charger. $70.00 seemed pretty expensive for something that is just, well, a fancy charger. I think in a few months when they don't sell many at that price I may pick one up just for the novelty.

Overall I think I made the right decision to get a Pre. It's fast on the 3G and on WiFi, it's easy to use and the monthly plan I'm on I think is very reasonable. The app store can only get larger and I'm sure there are firmware upgrades on the horizon to make the experience even better. Check one out if you have a chance. You may just like what you see.

7 Random Things About Me

Well, looks like I've been tagged by Lisa Heselton to blog seven random things about myself and tag seven new victims to do the same. Being the strange person I am, it shouldn't be hard to find 7 facts to leave you scratching your head.

1. Before I was a programmer I cut glass and mirror professionally. I could cut plate glass into almost any shape you can think of (within reason). I decided I had better get out of that business, however. The glass dust that flies off the the sanders ruins your credit cards and I can only imagine what it does to your lungs.

2. I can do almost anything to an aircooled VW. I have stripped a VW Beetle down to the frame before and completely put it back together. I can build engines, transmissions, suspension systems...the list goes on. I'm really into high performance stuff and should have a cRaZy turbocharged engine finished for my '73 Bug very soon. Despite all of this knowledge, however, I can't weld to save my life...

3. I have two cats, Zilla and Ninja. I like cats. It seems like there's always been this stereotype going around that guys have to be dog people. I disagree. I like my cats. They don't require as much attention as a dog, don't jump on you when they get excited, don't lick your face (for the most part) and don't have to go outside in the rain to do their business. Plus, I trained Ninja to play fetch with a ball, so she's kinda part dog anyway.

4. In my lifetime, I've played several instruments including the violin,clarinet, oboe and various percussion instruments. I was a snare drummer in the Mighty Sound of Maryland Marching Band (University of Maryland College Park).

5. I have two tattoos, and I intend on getting more. My left leg is done from ankle to knee with flames and has a VW emblem on it. On my left forearm I have a paw print with the name of my last cat, who spend 14 years with me, under it. I plan to have my right arm sleeved with various VW oriented images. I also have my ears stretched to 2 gauge....so far.

6. My original major at College Park was aerospace engineering. I thought I was going to be a rocket scientist. Didn't take me many semesters of that stuff to realize I was INSANE when I chose that major.

7. When I was in second grade, the tendons and hamstrings in my legs were so tight I couldn't put my feet flat on the floor without thinking about it all the time. I ended up having some braces made that held my feet 90 degrees to my leg at all times. After several months of stretching and wearing the braces I was fine. I still can't touch my toes without bending my knees to this day, however.

I can't think of 7 people with blogs that haven't already been tagged, so I'll update the list later. For now...

I Tag:

Yancy Wharton
Dan Parker
Leslie Leether
Brandon Green

The Rules:

* Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
* Share seven facts about yourself in the post - some random, some weird.
* Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
* Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

I just wanted to take this time to wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween! Halloween is a very special time for me. It has been one of my favorite holidays since I was very small. I have a very wild imagination, so it always gave me the chance to really get creative with my
costume ideas. Once I got older, I began setting up outlandish displays to entertain the neighborhood kids on Halloween night. I became the most popular house on the street, during the month of October at least. I became one heck of a pumpkin carver too. I never caved to the "Hollywood evil" definition of Halloween. I know there are weirdos out there that think Halloween is a night for sacrifice and worship of evil, but they are wrong. The roots of Halloween are a celebration of the harvest, leaving gifts for the spirits of the Earth and giving back to Mother Earth for the bounty she provides. Yes, there were sacrifices involved with giving back to the Earth, but in the dark ages this was considered acceptable. When Christianity swept the world and overtook Paganism, people were led to believe that Pagan traditions and rituals were those of Satan, thus the belief that Halloween was a time for evil and mischief began. As time went on and the world became more and more civilized, Hollywood realized it could make a few bucks off of the idea that Halloween was an evil time. The whole Halloween horror series is proof enough of that. This just isn't an idea that I subscribe to. Halloween is a time for fun, jack-o-lanterns, great costumes and good friends. It's about letting the children believe they can be something else for just one night, just by wearing that costume. It's about imagination and make-believe. My next door neighbor tells me that Halloween just turns children into beggers....wow. I can't see how anyone could cast out this great day. I will continue with my decorations, parties and entertainment as long as I'm physically able. Once again to everyone out there, Happy Halloween!

I'm a slacker....officially

When I started this blog I thought "yes, I can think of stuff to write about regularly." I'm either terribly wrong or just terribly lazy. I think it's a combination of both to be honest. I'd rather be blogging about things relevant to ColdFusion and programming, but I can never think of anything that first of all hasn't been done before, and second would be relevant to a wide variety of uses and not just the specific task I have at hand. How do you guys do it??? Am I a good programmer? I'd like to think so. Am I an experienced programmer. Not exactly. I really wish I had something more to share with the community. Hopefully I'll figure it out eventually.

On to a more personal topic. I bought a new truck today! It's not "new" new, but it's new to me. It's a 2005 Chevy Colorado in metallic orange. Hopefully this one will stay looking nice, unlike my last car. I had it less than a year and the clear coat peeled off the top and trunk lid. It looked like garbage when I traded it in. I used to wash it every weekend, summer and winter and do all the maintenance on time. After the paint started to fall apart, I stopped caring. Hopefully this truck will be the one I can take care of and it will reward me with many years of good looks and reliability.


Catching back up

I've totally been slacking in the posts department lately. Things at work and at home have kept me so busy I haven't had time to sleep, let alone post to the blog. Here's the skinny on what I've been up to.

The new site for the Navy has been up and running since Friday. I only had one error report and it was extremely simple. Turns out the country code for Norway is NO and my code doesn't like that.....who knew? Having this site go live successfully is a HUGE weight off my shoulders. Everyone on the government side and my company's side seems very happy, which makes me very happy. Now I'm moving back to my AIR project that I haven't touched since May.

I'm also working on getting all the new servers set up in the office. Some of them are mine, most of them are Yancy's. We have about 5 more to set up. Yancy has been installing operating systems on them while I've been making Ethernet cables for the boxes and the new IP KVM. It keeps me here kinda late sometimes.

At home I'm preparing for some pretty major renovation work. My home was built in 1920 and it's beginning to show its age. The outside isn't bad, mainly due to a new roof, fresh coat of paint, and new windows. The inside, however, has old horse hair plaster on the walls and much of it is either patched up poorly by previous owners or just cracking and falling down. Luckily I was blessed with some great mechanical and construction ability, which I probably get from my Father the home builder, so I'm doing the work myself instead of paying a contractor. I also have some friends who are electricians willing to help out. With the help of my friends and family I know things will go great. I spent most of Sunday down at Home Depot pricing out drywall, joint compound, insulation, romex and all the other goodies I will need to renovate the upstairs. I'm going to complete the upstairs area first and then move downstairs probably next year. The third floor was finished by a previous owner (poorly), but I'm going to leave that alone for now. Soon enough that area will become a darkroom for my wife. My goal for now is to complete at least one room quickly so I have a place to sleep upstairs. I'll be using my dining room for a bedroom for a while, but I'll be needing that for the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners we always host for our family.

The VW is on the fritz too. My battery keeps dying. I think it's a combination of a bad cell in the battery and the alternator beginning to go. It's an original factory Motorola alternator from 1973.....it owes me nothing. On top of that I'm beginning to lose compression on the #4 cylinder due to a head stud pulling from the block AND the steering is so loose now it's terrifying to drive in the rain. When you drive on wet roads the car starts to sway back and forth until you think you're going to spin around. I think at this point I'm going to rebuild the front end and "tone down" the drag racing engine I'm building for street use. I figure I can put my racing transmission in there too and just deal with the change in gear ratios. Either way, it will still be a bit of a sleeper.

Well, that's it. I say that like that's not enough. I'll try to be on top of my blog a little more now that things have leveled off a bit. Thanks for reading!

Deadlines...

I haven't been posting to my blog as much this week. I have a deadline coming up on a project here at work and I am heads down making sure everything is jiving the way it should before it goes live. The customers I deal with aren't the type you want angry. Luckily it's only Tuesday and I've worked out all of the reported bugs my testers have kicked back to me. Right now I'm in that "click everything" phase where I'm just making sure nothing is going to break in the middle of a demonstration or worse yet, actual use. I have to say I'm glad the end of this project is approaching. For a while there I was feeling kind of burned out on this one, but with the end in sight I was able to gain a second wind. I expect everything will go well on Friday when the new system is switched on. Until then it's just hammer away at it and see if it breaks.

For those who care, I made an attempt at the green hair again. It's better, but not great. I went and talked to a friend who's a licensed hair stylist. I'm going to have to use a special kind of stripper that removes any trace of artificial hair color, then bleach it again, then dye it again. That's for another day. For now I kind of have this brownish/greenish thing going on. It's still more green than orange.

I'm off to play with my new servers that just came in. I've decided to name them all after characters on Adult Swim...

My own little piece of the web.

Well, it's official. As of today I purchased my first two servers in what is to be a flurry of future purchases. I picked up a pair of DL360 Compaq servers on eBay for a pretty decent price and have my eye on several more. I'm quite excited by the idea of being able to host my own content. It's bad enough I'm mooching of Zoobiesoft, Yancy Wharton's web company, for my connection let alone using his disc space. Hopefully by the time I get set up I'll at least have DNS, web, database, mail, and FTP servers running. I'll also be on the lookout for a decent switch and KVM. Just to get going I may run some of the machines dual purpose, but eventually everything will have its own box. Gotta start somewhere though. If anyone close to the eastern shore of Maryland is looking to unload a server rack cheap, I'm in the market and will drive a little ways to pick up. The ones on eBay are either overpriced, missing the sides, or just plain too far away. I live down in farming country, not really the technology hub of the area. I'm off to enjoy my weekend now......and maybe get my hair color fixed.

Orange with envy???

As you've probably noticed....I have green hair. Green is my favorite color, especially lime. Many of my friends on Twitter have probably also noticed I've been complaining about my hair turning orange after the last dye job. Well, this morning there is no doubt...I look like a pumpkin. I appreciate everyone who has offered possible explanations as to why this is happening. Previously I was using a hair dye that only lasted a week tops before fading to a sick looking yellow. I decided to go all out and ordered some Manic Panic Amplified Electric Lizard. The amplified versions of these dyes are supposed to be brighter and last longer, so I figured I'd give it a try. After bleaching and putting in the green, I was very disappointed. The green didn't seem to take at all as my hair looked the same sick yellow it was prior to putting in the bleach. I just shrugged it off and figured I'd try again later. A few days after this I started to notice little patches of red-orange in my hair. At first I thought maybe it was just where the bleach hadn't quite whited out my roots, but there were orange spots that were nowhere near my roots. This morning I got up, washed my hair and looked like this. Keep in mind when viewing this picture that I had my hair dyed ELECTRIC GREEN on FRIDAY NIGHT. It's now Wednesday morning and you would never know I had any green in there. I'm concluding it's a reaction between the dye and my water or shampoo since it seems to change every time I wash my hair. I'm interested to see what I look like tomorrow...

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