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!

My first speaking gig! NCDevCon

Well, I finally did it. After several rejections (and to be quite honest mediocre topics on my part), I finally landed my first speaking gig thanks to the folks at NCDevCon. I promise you, if you attend my session, you won't be disappointed. My session is directly after lunch, so if I don't make it a good one I'm sure I'll have a room full of sleepy heads.

My session is titled "Keeping in Sync - Synchronizing client / remote databases in Adobe AIR". One of the very first things I found facinating about AIR, back when it was Apollo, was the built in SQLite database and the ability to push and pull information to and from other databases using Flash Remoting. I was able to utilize this functionality in a prototype AIR application I wrote for the United States Marine Corps. I do mostly ColdFusion at my current job, but I try my best to keep up with advancements in Flex and AIR development on my own time so I can stay fresh. The point of this session is to share with my colleagues how simple it really is to keep a remote database and client database synchronized with some of the great tools built right into AIR and ColdFusion 9. Terry Ryan did a very similar presentation at last year's CFUnited during his keynote. My goal is the same as his, to show how simple it really is to utilize this functionality in your own projects.

Hopefully I'll see you there! If not, I'm sure the sessions will be recorded or the slides will be posted after the conference. Come on down to NCDevCon and join in the fun!

Great time at RIAUnleashed! A very tired Jim reviews.


RIAUnleashed was great. Awesome topics, top notch speakers and great company. I walked away from this conference feeling inspired to immediately try out the new things I had learned, maybe even branch of some topics of my own to speak on at future events. Congratulations again to Brian Rinaldi for putting on an event to remember.

The Bug is Down....Someone Call an Ambulance!

In the few blog posts I've made since I started, I haven't said much about my involvement with the air-cooled VW community. I'm Vice President of Strictly VWs Auto Club based in Salisbury, MD. I've been working on and driving old Volkswagens for over ten years. There's not much I can't do to them with the exception of welding. I don't own a welder, never learned to use one correctly. I'm sure one day I'll be on top of that, however.

Recently I built myself a brand new, bored out, ported and polished 1835cc mild racing engine for my Bug. I was in the process of seating the rings and breaking everything in when I began to notice an unusual amount of end play in the engine. For those of you who don't know what this means, I could grab the pully on the end of the crankshaft and the assembly would move in and out of the engine case more than it should have......if that makes sense. It still seemed to be running okay and I didn't see any metal flake in my oil, so I just moved along. A few weekends ago, it started leaking oil BADLY. The end play had become so bad it pushed a seal out and shortly after, the engine began to squeal where parts that shouldn't be rubbing together....well....rubbed together. I pulled the engine and removed the flywheel to find that the thrust bearing in the rear of the engine was shifting with the crankshaft. For those non-gearheads out there, that's REALLY BAD. I'm hoping that maybe the thrust surface had been shaved by a machine shop and the case wasn't stamped to show this had been done. This would mean that as long as no serious damage has been done, an oversized bearing will solve my problem. It does, however, mean that I have to tear the engine down ALL THE WAY back down to the crank. So once again I have the lifeless shell of my Bug sitting in the driveway.

My wife has a Type 3 Fastback that we got her a few years ago. It has some rust issues, but it's a driver. Recently the exhaust rusted out so bad that it backfires like mad. I've bought a new exhaust system for it, but the bolts holding the old one on are so corroded from 40 years of heat and humidity that they act like they want to snap off rather than turn off the proper way. I'd rather not deal with sheared off exhaust studs in aluminum heads. I've been putting this one off for a while. I need to take care of it.

Anyhow, wish me luck my nerdy friends. I miss both of my V-Dubs terribly and want to drive them again soon. See you next time.

CFUnited 2009 - One of the greatest yet!

CFUnited 2009 was a huge success. I enjoyed every aspect of this conference. I'm one of the lucky few that is close enough to drive to this conference, so it's already a convenience. Even with the travel aside, there were several reasons I found the conference a delight this year.

The Venue: This year, CFUnited was held at the Landsdowne Resort in Leesburg, VA. This facility was VERY nice. The staff made you feel welcome from the moment you stepped through the door (which they opened for you). Check in was a breeze and everything was nicely laid out. The walls were covered in upscale artwork and the high ceilings almost gave the feeling of being in some sort of palace. The rooms were laid out much like every other hotel room is, but were very clean with high quality furnishing, full length mirrors and plenty of lighting. The beds also came with an abundance of pillows, which I enjoyed quite a bit. During the sessions the staff at Landsdowne made sure we had an abundance of snacks, drinks, pastries, yogurt, cereal bars, ice cream, etc, etc, etc.....I was never wanting for anything.

The Sessions: This year offered more sessions than I think I've ever seen at CFUnited. There was a nice mix of ColdFusion and Flex sessions as well as some design and CSS sessions. I got more out of the sessions this year than I can ever say I have at a prior CFUnited or any other conference. I don't have a bad thing to say about any session I attended.

The People: I can't say enough about the people. Some I knew before, some I didn't, but I met some of the greatest people in the CF community at CFUnited. People like Dan Wilson, Dee Sadler, Lisa Heselton, Ben Nadel, Aaron West, Ray Camden......the list goes on and on. Having meals with these folks and just chatting in the halls made for great networking and just a lot of fun in general. These are some top notch programmers that know how to have some fun as well. Did anyone else drive an entire clover leaf system trying to make a U turn on the interstate while waving your hands around like you're on a roller coaster??? I didn't think so...

Stellr: To Liz and the team, THANK YOU. You made this year perfect. Without your hard work none of this would have been possible. It can't be anywhere near easy to put together an event of this magnitude and have everything go as smoothly as it did. I know I'm not alone when I express my gratitude for what went into CFUnited 2009. I can't wait to see what you've got in store for next year.

There are probably a ton of things I missed, but I think you get the idea. I hope CFUnited continues to use Landsdowne and the venue for next year and I can't wait to attend again. See you next year at CFUnited 2010!

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.

RIAdventure 2009 - Well Worth The Trip

Honestly, I don't know what took me so long to blog about RIAdventure. Perhaps it was the fact that I had such a good time there that I didn't want to return to the normal grind of the day to day hammering on code. Regardless of what it was, I have to share my experience with everyone. RIAdventure was an "unconference" that took place back in February aboard the beautiful Norwegian Sky cruise ship. Joshua Cyr did a great job planning this event and everyone in attendance had a good time. We spent our days touring the islands of the Bahamas and our nights in lounges and restaurants, discussing our experiences, both personal and professional, and just getting to know the members of our community better. I enjoyed meeting everyone there. Some I had met before like Yancy Wharton and Joshua, but I also got to know people I follow on Twitter and had maybe never met in person like Dan Skaggs, Aaron West and Dan Wilson. The lack of sessions made it possible to make a friends rather than just acquaintances. It didn't hurt that we were in the tropics in February either. I had never been to the Bahamas before and Josh did a great job working with a travel agent to make the trip as affordable as possible for everyone. My wife and I are looking forward to this event next year and hope to see many more of you there. Joshua Cyr is already looking for suggestions for next year's destination! Follow jcyr on Twitter and let him know where you'd like to go.

Free Money from CFUnited!

Do I have your attention now? CFUnited announced today that they will give away $200 each month to anyone who places their "Blog Bling" on their blog and fills out their survey at http://cfunited.com/go/survey/167. The survey simply asks for your name and the URL to the blog displaying the CFUnited logo. At the bottom of the form you're asked to give a short response as to your favorite thing about CFUnited and what you would say to someone when recommending they attend the conference. It's that simple! $200 a month will be given away between January and July, but you have to proudly display your Blog Bling to win. You can either steal the CFUnited Blog Bling off of my site here or go to http://www.cfunited.com and take it from the front page. Good luck everyone and see you in August!

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.

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