I have a dream

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Android browsing Windows 7 network shares

I’ve been trying unsuccessfully for a couple of days to get my Android tablet to browse network shares from my Windows 7 PCs.  No matter what I did or how many different clients I tried none of them would connect.  After messing with settings on both the tablet and my PCs even my iPad would not connect to any shares even though it was previously working.  The rest of my PCs would open the shares just fine.  Through troubleshooting the iPad I came across an article on Stratospherix‘s website based on a Microsoft knowledge base post that mentioned a registry setting sometimes needed changed to allow additional network clients to connect to Windows shares.  I’m not even entirely sure this is what fixed my issues but after changing this on one of my machines I was able to connect from both the iPad and my Android tablet.

Here’s the registry key to add:

  • Click Start, click Run, type regedit and then click OK.
  • Locate and then click the following registry subkey:
  • Click Edit, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
  • Type IRPStackSize, and then press ENTER to name the value.
    (The name is case-sensitive)
  • Click Edit, and then click Modify.
  • Click Decimal and in the Data Value box, type 30, and then click OK.
  • Restart your PC and then re-try to connect with the app.

Update: 1/16/2012 – I tested this on another PC and can confirm that this fixed my connection issues.  I was not able to connect to another PC on my network on either my iPad or Android tablet.  I added the registry key, rebooted and was immediately able to connect both devices.  I still had issues using ES File Explorer and credentials that included special characters.  If I changed the password to one without special characters I was able to connect but with special characters it would give a login failure.  Other Samba clients like AndSMB or Astro worked with the special characters in the password.

Astaro security gateway and Netflix


I recently installed the Astaro security gateway firewall in my home. They offer it free to home users. It does an excellent job of protecting your home network. One of the downsides to firewalls is there’s always something that gets blocked that shouldn’t.  The issue I was having was with Netflix.  On tablets and home streaming devices I could not get Netflix to work even though I had told it to bypass scanning for streaming content. To fix it I added the following URls to the exceptions list and skipped all checks.


Western Digital WD TV Live review


I’ve been curious about the Western Digital media players for some time.  Since I’ve had a Roku and a Roku 2 media player for a year or so I haven’t felt the need to investigate them further.  At the time I went with the Roku boxes the reviews of the WD players weren’t the greatest and they frankly didn’t look to great either. The reason I took another look at these was because I needed an inexpensive box to hook up to a couple of large TVs and be able to put some marketing videos onto and have them loop. The Roku supports playing videos from a USB thumb drive but I couldn’t get them to loop continuously. Also the Roku only supports a few video types (.mkv and .mp4). Local network streaming is non-existent on the Roku unless you use something like Play-On, which I didn’t want to mess with. After some research it looked like the WD player would do what I wanted through playlists and it’s support of more media types. It also had network streaming through standard Windows shares or through a media server like TVersity. The price of this model is the same as the upper model of the Roku boxes at $99. I ended up getting one from Amazon for $89 with free shipping.
The reviews on the current WD Live TV were mixed and ranged from disappointing to merely OK. Some said the interface was dated and slow. Not one to be deterred from most reviews I ordered one. Right away I noticed the claims of a dated interface to be inaccurate. I was impressed with the interface actually and found it laid out nicely and appealing. I started messing with getting videos to play through playlists and quickly determined it wasn’t going to be user friendly enough to work that way. I messed with it for a bit and then went back to work on other things. A co-worker decided to play with it and found our solution. In the settings menu there’s a choice for looping none, one or all videos. Once that was set to all you can just open up the files menu, browse to the USB thumb drive where we had 4 or 5 videos, hit play and off it went. We left work that evening and let the videos play. When we came in the following morning they were still playing and the box hadn’t overheated or exploded, which was a plus.

Playing videos from a network share worked very easily. I haven’t had a chance to play from a media server like TVersity since we don’t have one setup at work. I’ll give it a try at home later. The music and photos section worked similarly from a network share and also have options for opening from a network share or media server.

The WD Live TV also has a services section where you can run things like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, YouTube, Vudu and many more. The Roku is a bit better in this aspect because there are more services/channels availble on that platform and the Roku lets you pick and choose which channels show up on the unit. The WD has what it has and currently doesn’t have a way of getting more or removing those you don’t want. The YouTube services worked well but didn’t give you a way of viewing YouTube channels you are subscribed to. You can view favorites or playlists but that requires you to pick individual videos. You can search for a YouTube user and see their videos but they aren’t necessarily in order. Hopefully this is an area that will get some attention in a future update. The only service that I noticed was missing was services from Amazon such as their rentals or access to Amazon Prime streaming.

As far as the hardware is concerned the box itself is nice and small and solid. Not as small as the Roku 2 but easily something I would put next to my TV. The remote is a bit dated looking and cheapish feeling. There is an Android and iOS app that you can use on your respective device to control the media player and both seemed to work pretty well. The USB port supports plugging in a keyboard which is handy when doing searches. I’m going to try a wireless keyboard later and see if that works. The unit has built in wireless b, g and n support though I mainly used it with ethernet. There is another model of the Live TV called the WD Live TV Hub which is currently $90 more on Amazon and has a built in 1 TB hard drive and a media server as well as component video ports.

Overall the WD Live TV is a solid choice for a media player for your TV. It’s support for many different file formats and network streaming give it a hand up on the Roku in my book even if it doesn’t support as many other services as the Roku. Time will tell if WD continues to get updates and added features. Since Western Digital’s primary business is hard drives it’s easy to see that they could decide it’s not worth the effort especially since every TV sold in the coming year will likely have some sort of internet based services built in it might not be a lucrative enough business for them to continue.

Update: 1/12/2012 I didn’t have very good luck streaming .mp4 and .m4v videos through network shares. They experienced severe pauses and stuttering. I did not have any issues with several .avi files I tried also through network shares. Netflix and Hulu worked flawlessly as expected as did the YouTube service.

Transformer Prime tablet review

I’ve been an iPad user from the beginning. I had used an iPhone for awhile before the iPad came out and quickly realized that iOS would be great on a tablet. I pre-ordered the iPad and have been using one ever since. It’s the form factor that I’ve wanted for years. I had tried multiple Windows based tablets but they never performed very well. They had either bad battery life or bad hardware design coupled with the fact that full blown Windows (current versions and back) is not a viable tablet OS. Windows 8 looks to change that trend but that’s still to be seen.

I’ve tried Android a few times. I wanted to like it but never did. Especially not on a phone. The tablets up to this point were disappointments when compared to the iPad. The first Asus Transformer was a great piece of hardware but I still did not feel Android was well suited for a tablet. Don’t get me wrong, it worked as a tablet. I could read books, listen to music and surf the web. The experience paled in comparison to the iPad though.

I got my hands on the new Asus Transformer Prime and after a rocky start I am beginning to see a competitor to the iPad experience. My problems started right from the start. When you turn on the tablet for the first time you get the welcome and initial setup screens. On the third or so screen I began experiencing crashes of DMClient (still not sure what it is). I did a few factory resets with no luck in getting it to run stable. I also was having Wifi issues. Some sites wouldn’t let me login, some apps wouldn’t work at all and overall just weirdness.

I tried to get it to update but that caused more crashes. After downloading the latest firmware (prior to 4.0’s release) and several reboots it was updated but still crashed and had spotty Wifi. That same night Asus released 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) 2 or 3 days early. I couldn’t get it to update and went to bed frustrated and decided to return it the next day. The next morning I figured I’d give it one more try. I found some instructions that had me go to the applications app, delete data from the DMClient service, force it to stop and then rebooted. On reboot I was able to check for an update and got it installed. Right from the first boot of 4.0 I could tell it was doing better and the device has run perfect ever since.
The hardware of the Transformer Prime is nice. Just like it’s previous version it’s well made and solid. Every time I pick it up I’m reminded of how cool it is. The dimensions of this version are better in my opinion. I found the original Transformer to be awkward to hold. I also purchased the keyboard dock and have to say that it is awesome. I’ve used a keyboard a few times with the iPad and it was never really of much use to me. This keyboard dock is very well integrated with the tablet and it adds to the tablet in many ways (typing, battery life, touch pad, SD card slot and USB port). I can’t speak to the cameras (front and rear) because I haven’t used them nor will I most likely. I never used it on the iPad (not just because they weren’t very good). I can see using them for something like Skype but I just don’t currently have the need. This tablet is almost identical in thickness between it and the iPad 2, but it seems to weigh less. I tend to be sensitive to heat. I can’t take laptops where the wrist rest area gets hot on one side or the other. I’m happy to say the Transformer Prime hasn’t had any heat issues. I haven’t had time to watch a movie on it or play an intense game on it for a period of time to see if it warms up any.

Android 4.0:
Apples’s iPad and iOS has been the king of the tablet market for two years now. I’ve tried to like Android for awhile but never felt it met the experience of the iPad. I still prefer Windows Phone on my smartphone but Android 4.0 has reached a level that I can feel confident in using on a regular basis. The updates to 4.0 are mostly small things but they add up to a much more pleasurable user experience. The first thing I noticed was the font used through out the system it’s a fantastic standardization that Microsoft learned to do with it’s Metro UI. The other updates are welcome polishes as well such as the updated settings area. I’m still confused by the quality of the built in web browser though. Web browsing is one of the key uses for a tablet and the stock browser is not very good. Luckily there are many other browsers to choose from in the marketplace and I particularly like the Dolphin browser. The gesture functionality of Dolphin is really cool. One aspect to Android still puzzles me and that’s the multi-tasking. I’m still not sure what exactly is left running in the background and what isn’t. It seems like there is a performance hit after using Android for several hours and I feel the need to go use a task killer application to make sure other apps are shut down. I need to spend some more time in understanding and controlling the background services and apps. The lack of polish and maturity of the apps for Android was another reason I avoided it. They always seemed like they didn’t get nearly as much attention as their iOS counterparts. Apps like Dropbox, Facebook, WordPress, Kindle, Amazon and others are at a much higher quality and offer the same or better experience than on iOS.
Keyboard dock:
I’ve used a keyboard dock with the iPad and it seemed like all it did was give me a physical keyboard. It was and afterthought. This keyboard dock adds much to the functionality of the device. It give extra battery life, a USB port (so far all I’ve connected is a mouse, both wired and wireless), an SD Card slot and a touchpad. The mouse/touchpad was a surprising touch that works much better than I expected. When you use the touchpad or a mouse you get an actual mouse cursor which makes certain functions much easier. When the tablet is docked into the keyboard and it’s shut it looks and feels like a very thin high quality netbook but functions much better than any netbook I’ve ever used. The other thing the keyboard dock has done is made me realize that I need touchscreen capabilities on my Windows laptop..now. I never thought I’d want to reach up and touch the screen on my laptop but I do it a lot on this and love the added input capability. I’m sure it will be commonplace in a few years after Windows 8 comes out and I can’t wait.

Like I said I had a bit of a rocky start to the Transformer Prime. It was a frustrating experience and I can see several people returning the device before getting to a stable point of usability. I’ve been an avid iPad user since the first one launched. This version of Android brings me to a place where I am comfortable suggesting it as a viable tablet OS. The Kindle Fire is a great Android device meant for a different crowd then the Transformer Prime. The hardware has been good on the Android tablets for awhile. The first Transformer was a solid device. The Samsung Galaxy tabs are nice machines as well. The combination of the the Tegra 3 processor and Android 4.0 make this a very nice experience. In the past I’ve made an attempt to honestly use the other tablets and became frustrated very fast. The Transformer Prime is a fantastic tablet especially when you combine the keyboard dock. Although the price of the two together might turn away many people. Besides, I’m seriously attracted to the device because of the name. Even if they are getting sued for using it. The only other negative thing I’d mention is even between the time that I placed the order to when I received the Transformer Prime, Asus announced the next generation of Transformer Prime. So, of course, I already have a tablet that will be obsolete in a short period. The next generation is said to have a full 1080p resolution screen, a better Wifi antenna and a few other features. That’s the nature of technology these days though.

1/12/2012 – I picked up the Transformer Prime today and felt something drop from my hand. Turns out it was my microSD card that I had in the slot on the side of the Transformer. The card sticks out just enough that it’s fairly easy to accidentally make it pop out of the slot. Luckily I felt it hit my had before it dropped to the floor. Since it’s a 64gb microSD card I’d have been quite disappointed to lose it.

1/20/2012 – I’ve used the Transformer Prime for the past week and a half and have to say I’m loving it. Like I said in the post, I’ve been a die hard iPad user since they came out and I haven’t missed the iPad the whole time. I’ve read books (or more accurately one long book), surfed much of the internets, watched movies, written blog posts and more. The HDMI out works really well. It requires a micro HDMI to standard HDMI cable which I found cheap on Amazon.com. I’ve since found out there is HDMI (like on your TV), micro HDMI and mini HDMI. Loading up books, videos and music using the microSD card is awesome. That’s definitely one feature that the iPad cannot do. My gripes so far? The USB charging is annoying. You have to use the USB wall charger that came with the tablet and not just any USB wall charger. I’ve plugged in the USB cable to multiple (I have many of the things from various devices) USB wall chargers and none work to charge the device. That’s just silly. The GPS is flakey. This is acknowledged by Asus and is one of the primary reasons (from what I’ve read) that they are releasing a new version of the Transformer Prime in June or July. The aluminum body is causing it to not work very well (again from what I’ve read, I’m no GPS expert). Currently my device says I’m in Branson, MO which is a town about 45 minutes from where I’m sitting right now. Asus released a new firmware update yesterday that was supposed to help the GPS but it seems no different to me so far. I just turn off the GPS and location services, I’m not going to use it in my car for navigating. I have a dedicated GPS device for that anyways as well as my phone. Overall I’m liking the device a lot.

  • Camera: SGH-i937
  • Taken: 10 January, 2012
  • Aperture: ƒ/2.65
  • Focal length: 4.03mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/15s

Open .mobi files on Android 4.0

The Kindle app for Android will open the .mobi files. I used Dropbox to get to the file and thought I’d just be able to open it from Dropbox into the Kindle app like I can on the iPad. That didn’t work and it told me to download an app that could open the file type. I copied it from Dropbox to my downloads folder then used a file manager to try and open it without luck. Then I noticed a Kindle folder. I copied the .mobi file into the Kindle folder then opened the Kindle app and it worked!

Two ways to live

There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.

~ Einstein

Waterproof headphones for swimming

Last year I turned 41 and decided to get some exercise.  Those who know me know I’m not particularly active.  I’m an IT guy who’s hardest physical labor at work is to lift a server into a rack, and that doesn’t happen very often.

The year before that I realized that my weight was climbing with my age and put a stop to it by cutting out regular soda, watching calories and not eating boxes of Mike & Ike’s along with 2 liters of Mountain Dew.  So, I got my weight 20 pounds lower and have kept it there for a year and a half.  While I’m at an ideal weight I wasn’t in ideal shape.  I tried the P90x thing and made it through 6 weeks of that before I gave up, I hated it.  I tried working out in front of the Xbox with the Kinect and a workout game.  Hated it.  I tried a basic routine of pushups and situps, squats and such.  I hated it.  I figured if I don’t find an activity that I at least moderately enjoy then I wouldn’t keep doing it.  Running?  Sounds hideous.  Working out with machines at the gym, I have no idea what I’m doing and it doesn’t look fun.  Swimming?  Hmmm, that sounds kinda cool.  So, I began swimming about 6 months ago and I love it.  The other day while swimming I was kinda bored and thought, “it would be cool to listen to music while swimming.”

I jumped on the internet and did a bit of searching.  Most leads took me to H20 Audio’s website.  They have a waterproof case with headphones for the iPod shuffle.  There are a couple of places who have taken the iPod shuffle and made it waterproof on it’s own but they are more expensive than I wanted.

I bought the iPod shuffle and waterproof case from Amazon.  It didn’t come with the goggles.  I haven’t used it swimming just yet, but will be later today and will update with my experience.  It’s more comfortable than I was expecting and it’s smaller than the pictures make it seem as well.  I’m really hoping it works well and isn’t too uncomfortable.  I’d like to swim longer but get bored after awhile.  With this I’ll be able to listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks.

Update:  Ok, I got a chance this afternoon to use the headphones and waterproof case.  Wow!  It worked perfectly and it made my swim time much more enjoyable.  I played some great BT (it’s dance/techno and really good).  The case worked perfectly and I barely knew it was strapped to the back of my head.  The headphones were great too, way better sound than I expected.  I’m going to try a podcast the next time I swim.  The next test will be how well they hold up to 3 or 4 swim sessions a week.  I did forget to mention earlier that the waterproof case is really well made, it’s not cheap feeling at all.  I’m really happy so far with this purchase and I think it’s going to go a long way to helping me continue my swimming and finally keeping off the couch so much!  :)

  • Camera: E-20,E-20N,E-20P
  • Taken: 8 February, 2004
  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Focal length: 9mm
  • ISO: 80
  • Shutter speed: 1/1.6s