My Screen Is Sideways

sidewaysscreen

This month marks 4 years since I posted the above Q&A for my Helpline Blog at The Houston Chonicle. Since that time, “My screen is sideways” has generated over 700 comments from all over the world from people who have encountered this problem.

I really thought the problem was too esoteric and almost didn’t publish it.

In reading the comments it would appear that the primary cause of this problem is cat ownership.

I wonder what other computer problems may be cat related?

New Toy

The old PC has become a little cumbersome for my image editing needs and I had pretty much come to the conclusion that a new computer was in order.

My current Windows box is a AMD Athlon 64 I purchased in February of 2006. Even when it was new it as not all that great a computer. It was on the low end both in price and performance. I had bought it to replace a AMD K6 400Mhz computer with a 40 gig hard drive I had bought in 1999 so it was an improvement and so far has served me pretty well.

I began shopping for a replacement and found myself looking to Apple as a possible option for my impending upgrade. I weighed the pros and cons and determined that it could only benefit me in both my IT career and my digital photography. Sure there would be a bit of a learning curve, but I know a lot of Mac users who are more than willing to assist me in my transition.

After some hemming and hawing I settled on a refurbished 2.8 GHz 24″ iMac from apple.com. The savings were pretty significant when compared to a brand new unit and the specs were more than suitable for my needs. I ordered it online on Friday and it was delivered to my office on Tuesday the following week.

I gotta say, this thing is pretty slick. Out of the box and on to the network in just about 5 minutes. I set it up at the office and poked around a little before I took it home. I then spent most of the evening working out the kinks of getting a program called Synergy loaded on the Mac and the PC so that I could control both computers with a single mouse and keyboard WITHOUTH the need for a KVM switch. It’s a nifty and elegant little program that, when installed, lets you move the mouse seamlessly from one desktop to another and back again. The keyboard works on whichever computer the mouse cursor is on. It’s like a dual display but with two computer instead of one.

Of course this sent me all over the place as I first tried to install the command line server utility on the Mac before I discovered SynergyKM which is a GUI wrapper around the synergy command line tool and makes the setup and configuration much, much easier.

My efforts led me to explore the network preferences and other “control panel” like items of the Mac as well as got me to a command line pretty quick as I struggled to get it installed and working properly.

In the end, I was triumphant and now I have the PC and the MAC working side by side on my desk.

Next step will be to get the 24″ PC monitor connected as a secondary monitor on the Mac. My 24″ Westinghouse has HDMI and VGA connectors. It is connected to the PC using the VGA so I plan to connect to the Mac using the HDMI and then be able to switch the monitor easily from PC primary to Mac secondary.

I have the mini-DVI to DVI to HDMI connectors and just need a HDMI cable which I am expecting to have in hand today.

Please feel free to comment with any suggestions as to applications or Web sites you think I might benefit from as I explore this new system! Keep in mind that anti-spam features in place on this blog may make posting a web link difficult. Just suggest the name of the site and I will find it.

Technology Expert?

I was asked if I was available for an interview for ABC 13 for a segment on social networking. In the piece that aired on the 4:00 pm news I briefly explained the basics of Facebook and Twitter.

This aired on ABC
http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/video?id=6814053

These are the extended interviews that did not make the air but are on the ABC 13 Web site:

http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/video?id=6814048
http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/video?id=6814050

Implementing Video

I just got a Flip Mino HD to play with and am thinking of doing some video on the upcoming trip to Spain like I did in Belgium over Christmas. My first thought was to simply host the videos on my web site and embed them. I had this working more or less with the Podpress plugin but for some reason it’s gone all wonky on me.

In my search for options I found a variety of plug-ins for self hosting video, but they are convoluted and not one offers what I really need.

The other option was to upload to one of the video sharing sights and snag the embed code for publication here at baldheretic.com. Youtube doesn’t allow you to embed the HD version of your video into your own blog so that’s a waste. I was turned on to Vimeo by John Winters (aka @obscura) and it is impressive. The problem is that you are only allowed to upload 500mb a week, which is fine but they only allow ONE HD upload a week which is not so great. You can upgrade to Vimeo Plus for a fee of $59.95 a year. This account allows for 5 gigs of uploads in a week and unlimited HD uploads are included in that.

Kind of overkill for my purposes and too pricey.

I also checked out Flickr Video which is available to Pro account holders like myself, but they limit your videos to 90 seconds with no option to go longer. The call it “a long photograph.”

In my quest I stumble upon a post by WordPress founder Matthew Mullenweg where he was showing off a movie made from tilt-shift photos he had taken.

Doing a little digging I found out that if you have a pemium account at wordpress.com you can upload videos of many different formats and the site will crunch and convert and allow you to embed them rather seamlessly. The premium account is only $20 a year for 5 gig of storage. The cool thing is that once you upload the video you can then grab the embed code and place it in the blog of your choice making this a reasonable alternative to Vimeo for me personally.

It irks me that this functionality is not available for those of us who self host our own WordPress blogs. I suspect it has do with whatever is needed on the back end to process the videos, but still. I bet it could be implemented without much fuss. We’ll see what comes down the pike in the future.

In the mean time I have paid Mr. Mullenweg his thirty pieces of silver and acquired the upgrade. I do like the quality of the video.

If Matt reads this I would like him to know that donated wordpress.com account to Technology Bytes would be a tax write-off. Just wanted to put that out there.

Final Preparations

Passport

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Passport

Man, I am going to miss this passport when it’s time to renew it in a few years. It has all my stamps in it!

Time is growing short and we’re making the final preparations to leave the country.

  • Dooley has been dropped off at Adventures In Birds. They’ll board him till we get back and we know they’ll take good care of him. Still, it breaks my heart to have to do this to poor Dooley. He’s like me, a creature of habit and prone to homesickness.
  • Called the bank to let them know I would be using my debit card overseas. In these days of aggressive fraud protection, you don’t want your money stream frozen because the bank thinks there’s something amiss.
  • Made Xerox copies of important documents. Hopefully, they’re not needed. But it’s good to have a record of your account and passport information just in case.
  • Cleared the fridge of spoilables. Don’t want to come home to post-hurricane like horror.
  • Packed and re-packed. Everything except the camera in a single backpack. Camera is in a small camera bag with a few lenses. The backpack is loaded with sundry electronic doo-hickies including chargers, socket converters, CPAP, netbook and tripod with a little room left over for a change of clothes or two.
  • In an unexpected turn of good fortune, I found my Flip Mino. It had been lost for several months. I thought it must have fallen out of my pocket while out and about and lost forever. As it happened, I was looking for something else the other day and my search lead me to look under the couch, and there was the Mino. A good omen!

    We’ll be doing a final check of all system before departure and then I am off to do my final Technology Bytes show of the year tonight. Geekradio on Xmas eve promises to be a lot of fun so tune in if you are near a radio or stream it live from kpft.org.

    I’ll be updating here during the trip as often as I can with photos, videos and commentary. If you are on twitter go ahead and follow @baldheretic as I hope to “tweet” with some frequency.

    Wish us luck!

    Travelling Digitalia

    Digitalia

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    Digitalia

    I think I have the tech for the upcoming trip to Brussels sorted out. The G1 Android has been unlocked and I have been in communication with Belgacom and they indicate I should be able to pick up a “pay as you go” SIM card for my phone that will allow me to make voice calls and data connections over their 3G network. This will be much less expensive than paying T-Mobile roaming charges and will allow me to utilize the features of my phone like the GPS and Google Maps. Not that I have a real need, but the geek in me wants to play….

    I’ve also acquired a MSI Wind U100-420US 10-Inch Netbook. 1.6 GHz Intel Atom Processor, 1 GB RAM (upgraded to two), 120 GB Hard Drive, XP Home and a 3 Cell Battery. Built in WI-FI as well as an Ethernet port this computer should be all I need to keep up to date with my online obligations as well as allowing me to offload and process my pictures. Web cam, nice large keyboard and display and it weighs under 2.5 lbs making it something I can tuck into the pocket of my backpack for easy toting!

    For the price, this thing rocks! There are some newer models coming out at the beginning of 2009 which have more features (and cost alot more) but this is all I need. It’s snappy and easy to use and being relatively inexpensive it would hurt my feelings to lose it while abroad, but it would not be devastating.

    Shiny Euros

    Shiny Euros

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    Shiny Euros

    We have received our travelin’ Euros for the upcoming trip. I love the colour of European money. The holograms are so pretty. It’s like play money in that it doesn’t look real, but it also evokes the passion I associate with travel. Having Euros in hand makes the whole thing more “real”, if that makes any sense.

    Of course, being the shutterbug I am, I wanted to photograph the bills as a matter of course so I played with different configurations and ended up with the above shot.

    When I had finished procressing the RAW file and went to open it in Photoshop CS3, the strangest thing happened. This message popped up saying “”This Application Does Not Support the Printing of Banknote Images”:

    In doing some research, this seems to be the same for the new American bills that were recently issued.

    What stikes me is that this is not a scan of the Euro notes. It’s a photograph and it doesn’t even include a complete, unobscured bill in the photo. Yet Photoshop recognized the content of the image and produced that warning and, presumably, will not print it in the unaltered form.

    It only let me save the oringinal file as PNG and I have not tried to print it.

    Technology is cool!

    Touch The Android

    When it comes to mobile computing I’m not a Mac or a PC. I’m an Android! That’s right, I am now the proud owner of what has come to be called the Google Phone.

    Officially, it’s the G1 from T-Mobile. The phone itself is made by HTC and runs the an open source operating system created by Google called Android.

    Much like the infamous iPhone, the G1 utilized the G3 network for fast Internet access, has a nifty touch screen and accesses an online application database to add programs and functionality to the phone.

    Unlike the iPhone, it’s not slaved to the problematic AT&T network which seems to plagued with dropped calls and continues to make the iPhone less of a phone and more a clearing house for a pocket full of silliness.

    It’s not an iPhone killer, but it comes pretty close. I got one because the monthly service is cheaper and more reliable than the iPhone, it’s open source so there’s a lot more potential for applications and it has a full QWERTY keyboard that’s accessible with a simple flick of your thumb…

    The G1 has GPS and it’s fully integrated into Google Maps and it’s all tied to your Gmail account. When you first turn on the phone, you are presented with the Android logo and instructed to “Touch The Android” to get started and it configures your e-mail and downloads your contacts.

    I really like the device and find it a joy to use!

    Large Hadron

    From a variety of sources.

    Geneva, 10 September 2008. The first beam in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN was successfully steered around the full 27 kilometres of the world’s most powerful particle accelerator at 10h28 this morning. This historic event marks a key moment in the transition from over two decades of preparation to a new era of scientific discovery.

    www.hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com

    Dwight Can Has iPhone

    Dwight Can Has

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    Dwight Can Has

    Looks very cool larger and on black

    Dwight Silverman of The Houston Chronicle’s Tech Blog and co-host of Technology Bytes proudly shows us his iPhone. I chose to let the iPhone remain in color while desaturating the rest. I find the contrast between the shiny new technology and the not so shiny new tech geek rather compelling.

    Nothing personal, Dwight!