Website Moved…

28 03 2008

Got off of the WP.com hosting and went off on my own. Yep, I left the nest. No more pigybacking on the WP.com network (tags, WP frontpage) Looks like it’s up to me to promote the site even more than before *sigh* … here we go!

Same old URL, new backend. —–>  http://techronemia.com/

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Best Time To Live? Well…how ’bout now!

21 03 2008

I’m sure we’ve all been asked this at some point or another. Lot’s of people say the 80’s for the music..the 60s for sex and drugs…the 20s because well, everyone just looked so damn classy. I’ve never really made up my mind but I’m finding it harder and harder to not say that best time to live is NOW.

I know I’m a geek and all, but seriously, even lamers that don’t know how to find the Windows start button (there’s more than you think) can appreciate this 😛





New MBP Experience

4 03 2008

Alright, so it’s been a week now so I feel qualified enough to write about what’s gone on so far. When I heard the new MBP was finally available, I went in to work and immediately called in to see if the local Apple store had received them yet. I was sad to find that they had not. But I kept trying throughout the day and upon days end (workday) they had come in. I sped over to the store and immediately began playing with it. A service rep came up and asked if I had any questions.

…. My response: How fast can you ring me up?

He didn’t know what to say. I was probably his easiest sale of the day. I was able to socially engineer my way in to student discount *feels guilty* but the $200 off came back in the form of sales tax anyway.

So the verdict after 1 week of use? Well worth it. I still stand by thoughts that applications are what make a computing experience great. I am a visual person so this is definitely my OS. It’s this or some flavor of Linux with Compiz Fusion. It’s been a week and my high points are as follows:

I love the dashboard. Specifically, a widget called iStat Pro. Web Clips are ingenious.
The speed. There’s no equal. And everything is so simple. I find myself often over thinking simple task that in Windows require a myriad of clicks and keystrokes. Want to import contacts? Click and drag. While I love the simplicity, it’s hard to tear me away from my keyboard. I’m a shortcut kinda guy. Hence Quicksilver. I know it’s not part of OS X, nor do I think it should be. But seriously, to fire off an email with an attachment in less that 5 seconds with a few keyboard commands just adds to the illusion of speed.

Sometimes I find my self wondering where the machine pulls all these resources from. I was able transcode a .avi into an .mp4 in VisualHub while recording video through the iSight in Quicktime, rip a DVD in Handbrake and surf YouTube all without a hint of slowdown. I was impressed

Now .. what’s not impressive? Lack of flexibility. There’s not too much room to customize but people are good at finding hacks around this. The notion that Macs don’t crash is completely false. I had one after 4 days but comparatively speaking to maybe 3 crashes a week on my PC, it’s not bad. Oh, and just because I close the lid on my MacBook Pro does NOT mean I want it to sleep. What blows me away is that there isn’t an option to select what action to take when I do close the lid. And what the heck is with not being able to minimize windows and CMD+Tab back to it?! Needless to say, I’m not a fan of that but a program called Witch takes care of that. Here’s another. The menu bar. I’m always clicking around (or Option+Tabbing with “Witch”) and having to select the app before going to its menu bar irks me. I suppose it’s part of the aesthetics.

I can already tell this baby is gonna be a hell of a workhorse.





TiVo? or … TiFaux

25 02 2008

Who has time to watch TV anymore? I mean, with so many wrong people on the Internet, correcting them takes up half of a person’s day, right? Actually. I don’t know how many times I’ve been teased for my Internet usage only to hear the accusers themselves make plans around Grey’s Anatomy, Lost and Heroes. Whatever your vices may be, we can all agree that TiVo was one of the greatest things invented. Some try to bypass subscription/hardware fees by creating awesome home theater PVR PCs and media servers. Even still, you do need cable. So here’s two apps that would definitely make my “first to install” list.

By the way, not to fuel the war but…if you pay for cable, is it illegal to download TV shows? What’s the difference between TiVo and this? Oh well…

TED

Ted
Ted stands for Torrent Episode Downloader. It checks multiple torrent sites, via predefined RSS feeds for TV shows. You can, of course, create your own feeds. I found shows like Reaper and The Sarah Connor Chronicles aren’t included in the stock feed list. However updates are always coming out with new show definitions. Creating your own feeds is extremely intuitive. The filters help you seed out the bunk seeders, allowing you to determine a minimum number of seeders, exclude certain phrases and even check for new shows only on the day of/after the show airs. Now of course availability depends on the torrent community, but depending on where you live, sometimes you can get the show before it’s done airing in your timezone. I was able to download and start watching an episode of Heroes last season before the 9PM cutoff in the Pacific region. Ted can also automatically set itself to begin searching for the next episode once it finds the most recent one. All in all, it’s a great app when paired with something like uTorrent. I’ve been using it for about a year now and absolutely love it. Ted runs on the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) which means it’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux. But you know those Mac users, it’s all about looks. Good thing there’s TV Shows.

TV Shows
I haven’t had much experience with TV Shows, but it works similarly to the way that Ted does, using RSS feeds in it’s fetching of new shows. An advantage of TV Shows is that is runs as a daemon; it’s always on in the background but consumes no resources until it “wakes”, checks episodes and goes back to standby. It also allows you to set the quality of video desired from a torrent. If it doesn’t find one of the specified quality, it downloads the closest thing to it. There hasn’t been an update in quite a while but the site assures us that’s it’s not a dead project and huge update is eminent. (v 0.3.4 to v 1.0)

Tv Shows

That’s the short of it. Some torrent clients actually incorporate RSS readers so you can essentially do the same thing, but this is more of a “set it and forget it” method. Knowing that, you can set it up and go back to pwning n0Obz or whatever it is you happen to do during those ungodly hours when no one else is awake. Enjoy!

L8z,
AleX





It’s Not a Conversion, but…

2 02 2008

mbp

Apple’s been putting out nice stuff lately. I’m personally a *nix fan. But I will give credit where it’s due. A couple of week ago, MacWorld didn’t really shock anyone, especially if you follow rumor blogs on Apple. Macworld for me was like a kid on Christmas that already knew what he was getting. Everything there was predicted. There were even some pretty accurate mockups of the Macbook Air. I think the only thing that no one really expected was the Timecapsule, which coincidentally is what excited me the most. An airport extreme with a 500GB server grade drive. I know I could probably just buy a draft N Linksys or D-link with USB connectivity and an external drive for like 240. Maybe I’m just getting sucked in to the whole Mac thing.

Anyway, I’m getting a Mac this month. Macbook Pro specifically. Going back those rumor blogs I was talking about, there’s word going around on a new MBP. It’s supposed to have the new Penryn Intels and the multitouch pad that’s on the MB Air. The new “low-end” 15″ MBP is estimated to ship with 2.5GHz. Supposedly will also allow a BluRay option. A battery-life tracking website has also been getting test results from the Apple IP range with system identifiers of “MacBookPro4,1” The current ones are 3,1. Since the new Penryn chips have SSE4 instructions and SSE4 support is a new feature on 10.5.2, I’ll be looking for the new MBPs when 10.5.2 ships. While it’s not concrete evidence, it’s enough to make me wait.

So as a nerd, I feel it pretty necessary to experiment with a Mac. That’s how I’m rationalizing this. I keep telling myself this isn’t a switch. But seeing how easily I got sucked in at Macworld, I think I may be headed that way. I mean, Jobs almost had me convinced that the lack of an optical drive on the Air was a ‘feature’. And I thought that being able to access the optical drive from a networked computer was revolutionary. I went home and realized I could do that between a Vista and XP, Fedora 8 and XP , etc.

I’ll be back with more news on the Mac Hunt ’08 as it develops. In the mean time, any current Mac users with tips, trick, news, hacks, essential programs etc for a new user…input is very much welcome.

L8z,
AleX

Update: The battery tracking site is down! Server overload? Or an outside influence cracking the whip? *Alex forms conspiracy theory*





Following MacWorld 08 From Work? Do It Effectively.

11 01 2008

It’s coming. I don’t even own a Mac. Well…kind of. Not the hardware anyway. I’m excited nonetheless. While there’s no live video coverage, you can still follow the dozens of live blogs from everywhere. Here’s a list of like 10. Thing is, I remember following along during the big iPod announcements in September and it was pretty disastrous. Having to manually refresh every few seconds and having to scroll to the bottom only to find you refreshed to soon and there were no updates. And the fact that I was at work, not working, made things worse. I don’t know if the live blogs are going to be any different this year. I was considering signing up through Twitter and getting my MacWorld updates that way. but then I found this.

RSS Popper is a toolbar for Outlook. While Outlook 2007 has an RSS reader, most companies are still using 2003 so this is good news for them (yes, I plan on following along at work again.) It takes a feed and checks it every x amount of seconds. Whatever you configure it to. It then displays them as email messages. While some may think that’s useless, (like I did at first) RSS Popper does a good job of keeping feeds out of your inbox and in their own folders.

Follow me so far? Why do this? Why not Google Reader? Well, like I said before, I didn’t much like being glued to the screen, waiting for updates. At this point we need to make a rule in Outlook. A rule that will notify you when there is an update with an alert window. THIS way, I can actually keep working but still follow along. It’s all about productivity, see?

untitledIn Outlook: Tools | Rules and Alerts | New Rule | Start from a Blank Rule | Check Messages When They Arrive | Next | check “with macworld in the subject or body” | Next | check “Display a Desktop Alert” | Next x 2 | Make sure the rule is on and click Finish

Good to go!

.

Well, hope this helps and enjoy the reveal of the 42″ TV with the iPhone OS (my outrageous prediction)

L8z
AleX





Beating the IT Crippler

4 01 2008

I know I’ll regret this one. I work in IT and I’ve seen people try some of this. Perpetuating the info probably isn’t too smart. Karma’s a bitch but…I just don’t like being told I can’t do something. I can’t stand being outsmarted. And even any limits imposed on me that aren’t specifically against me, I still have this need to know I could overcome if I needed to. This goes for anything, but for this blog, I’ll be talking about the lockdown your school/work puts on you. First, the easy, basic stuff.

What to do when Internet Explorer is disabled on a public computer.

Chances are there may be some form of internet connection, otherwise, why disable IE, right? Well, here’s something to try but it may not work if the computer uses a proxy server. Use the help menu. Yup. Fire up whatever you can. It can be something like Paint or the Calculator … anything with a Help menu. Once you’ve opened something up, press F1 | Right Click | Jump to URL | type in an address. There ya go. Just make sure to enter “http://” first, no quotes.

Need access to the file structure?

I once had a job where some computers didn’t have access to My Computer and auto play was turned off. So what? No access to flash drives. Not sure what the intention from IT was here but this group didn’t disable Winkey shortcuts (or they could have just disabled external media). That little flag looking key to left of your spacebar can be good for something sometimes. Yah, it does more than pop open your start menu. Win+E = Opens Explorer and the folder view. Browse to your hearts content.

Installing Programs and Instant Messaging.

This one’s tough. If you can’t install anything it means you don’t have admin privileges. Unless you luck out and the IT guy/girl leaves your computer logged in to an admin profile or the local computer, you can’t install anything. BUT … I’m gonna burn for this one…you can change the local admin password thus allowing you install anything you want. I’ll cover this next. But for now, the easiest (and less likely to get you fired) way is to run apps from a USB stick. Portableapps.com is all I have to say. Ceedo.com for running any app, not just the ones on the Portableapps site

As for IM, even if you manage to get a chat client installed, theres a good chance the ports are blocked so you’ll never connect. For this, use sites like Meebo.com, koolim.com, ebuddy.com. These sites use the http protocol (Port 8080) to communicate with the messaging servers which means if you have internet, you have a way in.

Changing the local admin password.

For this to work, you need to be logged into a network account with admin privilages or the local computer.
– Click Start | Run | CMD press enter | type “net user” enter. This shows you the local accounts. See “Administrator?”
– Now type ” net user Administrator * ” It will ask for a new password. The cursor will not move, don’t worry, it’s working. enter. Retype. enter. Good to go.

If you want something stealthier, so local IT doesn’t realize their PW has been changed, you can add a new account that only you know about. Start with the same as above. In the command prompt window:
– net user add Username Password /add
– net user localgroup Administrators Username /add

Accessing Blocked Websites

Web filters are getting better … and this one is hard. If your company uses Websense, you’re pretty much hosed. (maybe) You used to be able to do simple things like going to Google translate, type in a website and translate from English to English and viola. Some filters don’t monitor the websites IP address, only the URL. To find a site’s IP go here and type it in. You could also find “cached” or older versions of the site. This one doesn’t work for too well for sites that change regularly, (ie. MySpace, Facebook etc) Do this by going here and read up.

These aren’t very effective ways around these blocks. But as I said earlier, you keep looking until you FIND a way, depending on much you already know or are willing to learn, there’s a way around (even Websense) The following may be beyond the scope of this article so feel free to shoot me line with any questions. Just remember though, Google knows everything.

Remote Control a computer with no restrictions (a home computer)

– Setup a VNC server on your home computer and remote in to your own computer from school/work with a VNC viewer.
or
– Use something easier to setup, but require someone from home to help you out. Read here — Crossloop

And for the extreme nerds (I don’t get any of the following, so don’t ask me, I found it on some forum)

1) set up an ssh server at home (this can also be done using cygwin on Windows)
2) unblock port 22 from any firewalls and forward it on any routers
3) get an account on dyndns.org, no-ip.com, or another Dynamic DNS service, and get an updater client (this way you can remember your hostname instead of your public IP, which might change from time to time)
4) To surf the web, you just need to use your own computer as a proxy. Use ssh -D 1080 [user]@[hostname], or on Windows, use putty and set up dynamic forwarding in the GUI
5) Open your webbrowser with a socksifier. On Windows, use FreeCap, and on Linux, use ProxyChains.

So, I dont really advise anyone to do any of this. It could get you in trouble or fired. And it definitely gives your employer a reason to fire you, just in case they’re already looking. I can only hope that by the time I manage a network, stuff like this won’t be a problem *wishful thinking*

_____
L8z,
AleX