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February 28, 2005

Microsoft remote desktop software a treat

I have been tinkering with VNC, IP Dynamics, and other remote desktop/VPN types of clients for quite some time. JohnLu suggested that I look at Working Remotely with Windows XP since it was free with XP Pro. So over the weekend i did. Got the server configured correctly I thought. Then tried to get the web client to work (as the help file suggested). I never could get it to work. I talked to John this morning and found out that there is in fact a Remote Desktop client under start/communications. Not in two hours of reading the Microsoft helpfiles was this mentioned. Microsoft helpfiles still suffer from the fundamental problem that they are written to explain functions and not to solve user problems. They can explain what every menu option does, but not how or when or why you might want to use any of them.

Now that I got it working, it is a breeze. Just type in password and I have full desktop control of my RAID machine in the basement. Now I can set it off to do things from three stories up. Nice trick... And FREE as part of Windows!

Posted by Martin at 1:02 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 26, 2005

False Positives at Verizon

False positives have always been the real gotcha with most spam solutions. When valid e-mails get stopped, everyone is pissed. I would rather receive more spam than not receive an important mail. Now it looks like Verizon has the problem. They should call Cloudmark.

Posted by Martin at 5:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 25, 2005

Norton and Microsoft hate each other (still)

So I come back from two weeks on vacation and boot up one of my home desktops, a Sony Vaio. Everyone wants to update. Fer Chrissakes, it has been two weeks since we have seen our daddy! What a bunch of children these programs are. Usually thes update run smooth. But this time Norton tried to pull a fast one. I switched from the Norton personal firewall to the Microsoft XP firewall about six months ago. When Symentac went out to update it's virus files (expected) it also turned back on the Norton firewall without any warning. Well, ok, i can't say for sure there was no warning as I was just clicking through the screens as fast as possible since every program wanted to update itself. They could have stuck it in somewhere, but I didn't notice. Half an hour later my machine froze. The keyboard and mouse stopped working. The system clock in the lower right was stuck on 4:34pm. No amount of pounding on the screen changed anything. I lost a two page blog entry in the hard reboot. I figured it was a fluke so I didn't change anything. After dinner it froze again at 7:13pm. I disabled the Norton Firewall and installed WebRoot SpySweeper just for good measure. But it was Norton and Microsoft fighting it out I am sure.

Posted by Martin at 7:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

shameless self promotion

Well new approaches to being a VC (including blogging) are becoming a hot topic around the water cooler. Today's WSJ business section had an article on the subject. The subscriber only link is here. For those of you less who save your daily $$ for Starbucks, I have excerpted the relevant shameless self promotion of DGC:

"In another sign of their openness to new ways of doing things, all but one of Ignition's 10 general partners have launched Internet "blogs" for regularly posting thoughts. Among the more popular are Martin Tobias's "Deep Green Crystals" and Rich Tong's "geekfishing.net," which offers an inside look at everything from new technologies to what entrepreneurs should look out for in striking deals."

Of course lots of other nice things were said about being a start-up VC and how Ignition's approach is somewhat different. But regular readers of DGC already knew that didn't you?

Posted by Martin at 7:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cosmopolis, a BAD novel by Don DeLillo

Have been traveling allot lately (thus the light postings). I was in Portland three weeks ago and met my brother for coffee at Powells. Powells is literally a candy store for the book owner. Sprawling now over more than one square city block, you are handed a map to the sections when you walk in. Just on my way through the technical section to the coffee shop, I picked up five books. Unfortunately I should have figured out from the $5.98 sales price on Cosmopolis (regularly $13.00) that something was fishy. Even though it was in the "staff recommendations" section. I keep forgetting that many times what the staff of a bookstore like Powells likes is somewhat like what indie film fanatics like in movies. Quirky, off beat tomes that appeal to a very limited audience.

That is Cosmopolis in spades. I don't know the person who recommended it, but I bet he/she only wears black, lives in shared housing with other tortured souls and fancies themselves "alternative". I like many alternative things. Many times the best ideas come from the fringes. In Cosmopolis's case though, only dull insipid self serving slop is served up though. I made it to page 89 before giving up for a total lack of interest. Completely uninteresting characters, poor structure, and no obvious point. By half way through a "novel" (a stretch at 200 pages paperback) you should at least CARE what the hell happens to the characters. The depth of my apathy was so deep that I almost left the book in the hotel this morning. But then I thought the world deserved to know how pathetic this drivel was. If my sacrifice of a couple hours can save even one soul the torture (and lost money) of this waste of natural resources then I might get back some of the karma this thing sucked away.

The Martin Tobias rating of 1-5, this gets a ZERO. Run away.

Posted by Martin at 4:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Eric, time to upgrade AllConsuming.net

Trying to update my collection on AllConsuming.net. Eric, it is time to get off that shared hosting. The server is totally swamped tonite! I know you are otherwise engaged, but if you are not going to support the service, please let someone else do it who has the time and resources!

Posted by Martin at 3:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Declaring energy independence

I have been talking about how declaring energy independence from the rest of the world would be the best thing to happen to this country economically and politically in a century for some time. Found this guy who has taken the idea a step further and taken a stab at defining what energy independence would mean in practical terms. A good read: Lightkeeper: Declaring (Energy) Independence

Posted by Martin at 7:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 23, 2005

MIT sponsors Clean Energy Business Plan competition

The local MIT Enterprise Forum has typically presented main-stream IT related forums. It looks like the one back in Boston has more active Special Interest Groups. One is sponsoring a $125K business plan competition: Energy Special Interest Group

Here is how they define Clean Energy technologies:

* Renewable Energy: active solar, wind, fuel cell, bio-energy, and hydro-technologies;
* Energy Efficiency and Demand Response: electricity end use, buildings, and grid applications;
* Enabling Technologies: power electronics, storage, cables and wires, sensors and instrumentation, control systems, materials and manufacturing technology; and
* High-Performance Buildings and Green Systems: sustainable design and integrated clean energy applications.

I would add some other sectors, but these are ok broad stroke categories. I am going to attend and see what the kiddies are up to.

Posted by Martin at 8:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stop the Genocide in Darfur starter kit

My friend Chris sent me the below. I sent letters to both my senators and my representative. I am rooting for Don as Best Actor in Hotel Rawanda. Finally a role worthy of his powers. A very powerful story. Senator Simon said that if each member of congress had received 100 letters on the Rawanda situation, something might have been done. This is a worldwide tragedy and we should be spending some resources on it. What if we spent 5% of our Iraq budget in Darfur?


The stop-the-genocide-in-Darfur kit. (Activism made easy.)

Step one: read this article (It is one page long, you have the time.):

Step two: go to the following link to find your senator:

Step three: send a letter to your Senator. It's easy. In fact I've already written the letter for you. Just cut and paste:

Dear Senator,

I would like to direct your attention to the op ed piece in the New York Times about the Secret Genocide Archive in Darfur. Estimates say that 10,000 people are dying every day. The article quotes Sen. Paul Simon as saying if each State Representative had recieved 100 letters about the genocide in Rwanda, things might have been different.

Will Darfur be different?

Will it be different in a positive way?

I do not require a direct response. Darfur does.

Thank you.


Step four (optional): Contact your congressperson and repeat steps 1-3.


Step five (optional): Pass this on - not to your entire address book, not to the first ten people that come to mind. Send it to the most influential person you know. (Those more technically inclined can make this the default signature on your outgoing mail for even more passive resistance.)

Please remember to BLIND CC when you forward anything. It helps to reduce junk mail.

And no, your wishes will not come true if you pass this on. But someone else's might.

Posted by Martin at 3:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Doug Comer on NPUs...

Doug Comer, super champion of NPUs, on leave from Purdue to Cisco, has written a very comprehensive overview of the NPU market, how and why you need an NPU, and where we are going. Network Processors - Volume 7, Issue 4, December 2004-The Internet Protocol Journal - Cisco Systems. Doug also has some nice words for IP Fabrics.

"Another pleasant exception comes from IP Fabrics, which has focused on building tools to simplify programming. Like Agere, IP Fabrics has developed a high-level language that allows a programmer to specify packet classification and the subsequent actions to be taken. The language from IP Fabrics is even more compact than the language from Agere."

thanks doug!

Posted by Martin at 2:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 20, 2005

HDTV PVR cookbook

Thought I had posted this last week: EFF: Cooking with EFF: KnoppMyth r5a5 and pcHDTV for DTV Liberation

I know that Comcast is coming out with an HDTV PVR, but you can expect them to respect the FCC's broadcast flag restricitons, so I won't be counting on it. I bought two cards and will be building my own thank you.

Posted by Martin at 7:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 19, 2005

Installing MTBlacklist again

Installing Jay Allen's excellent plugin: MT-Blacklist - A Movable Type Anti-spam Plugin again. When I upgraded to MT 3.1, I turned on comment authentication with typekey and that pretty much stopped comment spam. But now the spammers have moved over to Trackback Spam and I am getting hit with 30-50 a day. Time for a solution. Too bad Blacklist is just a blacklist. Would be nice if there were some logic like is available in Cloudmark for e-mail. You could do the same spam DNA on trackback spam. The standard stuff in MT of IP blocking doesn't work because they change the IP address every time. But logic around the offer and the URL should catch most of them. Most of them are about poker. Die trackback spam, Die!

Posted by Martin at 8:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 10, 2005

VOIP and your own number

These guys Lingo Broadband Phone Service Powered by Primus advertise that you can keep your phone number. I wonder how they do that? Gunna review it.

Posted by Martin at 9:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Out with the Bytecc, in with internal

So after hacking together the Bytecc external IDE USB drive case last year, I decided last night to put the drive into my desktop multimedia case (since it was plugged into it most of the time anyway).

It is also interesting to note what a difference a year makes. In Feb of 2004, the leading inexpensive harddrive interface was IDE with 133 paralell ATA interface. Today it is Serial ATA running over 150 with a larger buffer and 100gig more to play with. But I digress. Do you know that IDE was originally a floppy standard? SATA is a HUGE jump forward in speed and features for harddrives.

Anyway. So my Sony case had a nifty two drive IDE enclosure with an open spot and an IDE cable and power cable just sitting there. I took it out, unscrewed the drive from the Bytecc and screwed it into the sony enclosure. Now I had to figure out jumper settings for master/slave or cable select since I was going to have two drives on one cable. The other drive there is a Segate 125gig wich is partitioned into two logical drives (one for OS and one for data). So if I screw up the cable, the computer won't boot. A quick google for Segate Jumper settings and Maxtor Jumper settings takes me directly to the PDF manuals. I reset the jumpers and make the new Maxtor the master and the Segate the slave. Power up. No boot. I guess the BIOS is having a problem, maybe it is not set to Cable select. Or it can't boot from a slave drive. I can't switch them because the cable won't reach.

Rather than trying to figure all that out, I just go downstairs and get the Promise 133 parallel ATA PCI card that came with the Maxtor and plug it in with a new cable. Make the Maxtor and Segate the master again, rest the jumpers and reboot with both drives on separate controller cards. Windows boots fine, recognizes the new Promise card, auto installs the driver and recognizes the drive. Bob's your uncle. All done.

Now you can buy the ByTecc enclosure if you want (works great). Isn't e-bay the best?

Posted by Martin at 7:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 9, 2005

Case o rama

Somebody had to do it. Here: 4U Entry-Level is where I will be buying my next case. They have many options. Not all major brands, but many more options. New Egg is great, but hard to navigate the cases section specifically. I understand that many white box channel guys use the AIC 4U 16 bay case for RAID. Nice case.

Posted by Martin at 3:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

80% of mobile users have received SPAM

Mobile Pipeline | 80% Have Received Mobile Spam, Survey Finds. The article doesn't say if it is SMS spam or e-mail Spam. I wouldn't doubt it if it was e-mail accessed on a mobile since all e-mail recieves alot of spam. But SPIM (SMS) is much smaller today. you need to pay for an SMS message and go through one of a few regulated gateways to the wireless networks, so I doubt this was SMS.

Posted by Martin at 2:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The beginning of Lent

I have posted before about what I am doing for Lent. Since Today is the start of Lent and I loaded up on 3 expressos yesterday in preparation, here is what I am doing this year:
- Giving up coffee (caffinated and de-caff).
- Giving up refined sugar in all items (except beer)
- Spending more time each week at Finn's school. Today I am going in to give a half hour presentation to the pre-school on surfing. Let them try on a wetsuit, wax a surfboard. Should be fun!

Posted by Martin at 8:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 8, 2005

My 2005 areas of investment interest

enough obsessing about RAID. How about that venture capital thing? Well the RAID project has probably cleared my head a little. Here is where I am going to be looking for new investments in 2005:

1. The next big thing in computer Security.
2. IT meets Bio/Pharma/Healthcare
3. IT meets Energy
4. Alternative Energy reduces US dependance on foreign sources of energy (maybe clean and green).

Got any plans?

Posted by Martin at 1:06 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

OK figured out the RAID driver

Well the Silicon Image RAID controller GUI software didn't have any help files, but ASUS helpfully put the PDF manual on the CD. So I actually had to RTFM. So I figure out that I don't want to format the drives just yet I just want to create the RAID group. I can do this with the GUI or with the BIOS by pressing F4 quickly. I reboot and press F4 quickly. I am not offered in the BIOS configuratin RAID 5 as an option which the manual clearly says I should have. So I go back to the manual. There is a confusing section in the beginning about what your options are if you have an different combinations of old/new BIOS and old/new RAID5 driver. I guess I have an old something, so I use the handy dandy ASUS BIOS update program to check the version. Lo and Behold I have an old BIOS. Three clicks later, I have updated the BIOS from the Internet. I reinstall the SATA RAID5 software driver for good measure and reboot. Skipping the BIOS, I go to the GUI. Select Partiy RAID as the option in a new RAID group (couldn't they just keep terms the same and call it RAID5?), select all four logical 300gig drives, choose "max" size and click create. Done in 2 seconds. ANOTHER reboot and I go int Windows Computer Management, Disk MAnagement. A new, unformatted disk 1 shows up with size 838.44GB (the difference from 1.2TB is the Parity striping). Wow, my 1.62TB RAID system is shrinking VERY fast. With RAID5 the real win is to GO BIG. Then the One Drive you dedicate to Parity will be a smaller percentage of the total. So I am down to about half my usable space. Same as Raid1 (although not an option with two different raid controllers). Somehow a 1GB and a 233 GB partition were created. I delete those two and it leaves one big 838.44 GB space that I create one primary partition on and call it Drive G. Quick format later and Bob's your uncle, Windows recognizes a BIG DISK.

So now the fun begins, moving over stuff. I unplug the two USB 2.0 (oh, gotta install a new USB 2.0 driver on Windows or it will think the ports are 1.1) 250 ATA external drives I have been using on the other PC to store stuff and plug them into the new RAID box. Plug and play plays nice and everything is roses. I do one huge Drag and drop and am off to bed. Will tell you in the morning if it worked....

Posted by Martin at 12:54 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 7, 2005

More work on the RAID system tonight

So, gave up on 64 bit for now and installing Windows XP.

worked like a charm. Took an hour to install, but Windows XP Pro picked the right drive (the 74 gig Maxtor 10,000rpm) to install the OS on. So after install Windows asks to activate the copy of Windows. I say yea, sure. It says it can't find the internet. I notice that there is red light on the LAN port out the back instead of a flashing green one. I figure there is a problem with my LAN so I fiddle with it and reboot the hub, reboot the firewall. I figure my Watchgaurd Soho only has 10 IP addresses go give out as DNS server and has maxed out so I turn off some devices and reboot it again. No luck. Only five devices connected, should have enough IP addresses. Ah, I wonder if Windows recognizes the Ethernet on the motherboard. Nope. I put in the ASUS set-up CD and install everything. Including the NVidia drivers that do little things like activate your ethernet port in the back (and the SATA controller for my other disks). Of course the ASUS installation manual says nothing about this. And the five question "troubleshooting" section says nothing about what to do if the ethernet port is not working. They do, though, helpfully suggest that if the machine won't power up, you check to see if the power cord is connected. THANKS!

So I am up and running with internet connectivity. I still only find the Boot drive in the system. I have to go into System Utilies to format the other 250Gig drive to an NTFS partition, drive E. Since it is on a different RAID controller I can't clump it with the other 300gig drives, so it lowers my effective RAID partition size to 1.2TB, but ok. If I were using a real RAID controller I could do more disks. One of the trade-offs of using motherboard RAID.

I install the Silicon Image RAID driver and of course no help files install with it. No manual at all. I guess I need to create a new RAID partition. The controller recognizes the four drives there, but they don't show up in Windows. I try to create a new RAID group (the driver installs Java JVM2 first) but keep getting an error. Probably because the drives aren't formatted yet. But They don't show up in Windows as available, so I have no idea how configure this.

Tried to install the USB 2.0 driver for the motherboard and it says I need XP SP 1. So I have to go to windowsupdate and install a BUNCH of security updates then XP SP2. 150mb and two hours and two reboots later, Windows appitite for updates is quenched. In install Firefox, Adobe Reader and Bloggar.

Some reflection:

This is not a job for the meek. You gotta be a geek. You gotta have a get around the shit attitude.

Investment thesis so far: There is still a need for quick easy off the shelf mass storage for the SOHO and mid market. This is still TOO hard. But the solution is a hardware box and I won't make that investment being a Software guy.

Posted by Martin at 11:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A new mag for geeks like me

O'Reilly has had MAKE: Blog in the works for awhile. The first issue just came out. I subscribed. Maybe they will print my home RAID project...

Posted by Martin at 3:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Spam costs $21.58B in productivity in 2004

InformationWeek > Cost Of Spam > Spam Costs Billions > February 3, 2005 A year after Can-Spam, the cost is still in the billions. Repeal Can-Spam and let the technology companies do their jobs!

Posted by Martin at 3:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More RAID musings

so I have been in Florida for the last 9 days and away from my RAID project. Haven't really had a chance to get to it yet (tomorrow), but here are some things that I learned recently:

1. Having the Athlon64 means you really should have a 64 bit operating system.
2. I had planned to install Suse 9.1 which I duly bought and paid for. But the minute you stick in the CD, on boot it has this nice message "hey really nice computer, but do you realize you are about to install 32 bit software on a 64 bit computer?". So I need a new build.
3. so I go to the Suse site and see 9.2 has a full 64 bit port. No problem. Two download options. A DVD disk image (3.4gig) or a CD disk image (400mb) that will install the parts you choose from an FTP connection. I download both. Takes me about 10 hours while playing a 128k web radio stream. I probably should have downloaded them in serial rather than parallel.
4. I am faced with a disk image file that needs to be unpacked, so out to the internet for some software. Downloaded a couple and unpacked the .ISO file.
5. Used the Drag and Drop software included in the Sony Vaio to burn the contents of the ISO to a DVD. 45 minute burn.
6. Stuck in RAID box and hit power. Media not recognized. I figured that it was because of the DVD format not supported by the Bios.
7. Opened the ISO for the CD image, burned it to a CD, plugged in the Ethernet cable to the RAID box and rebooted. Media not recognized.
8. I opened the CD image and the SUSE 9.1 factory disk and they looked the same. I can't figure why it won't boot.
9. Gave up on Suse, went to download the 64 bit Windows XP. 3 hours. unpack the ISO image, burn to a CD.
10. reboot the RAID. Media not recognized. I give up.
11. Talked this morning to our IT guy about the OS. He said the problem was that the standard CD burning software won't make the CD bootable. IT doesn't copy the right OS stuff to the header secton. So the CD will look the same in Explorer, but not be bootable. AH. So I need Nero pro which will in fact create a bootable CD. So that is my next step. I am going to try to do this with Windows XP 64.

Posted by Martin at 2:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another newbie starts making money

thanks Troy for the pointer to tomEvslin's blog: Fractals of Change: Empowering the Wannabes. It seems that Andrew has gotten the Amazon Associates integration with Typepad done. At one point I thought that there might be a middle ware play to be made linking up the non-programming masses with Amazon and Google. But the non-programming masses are on the hosted code bases of Typepad, Blogger, etc. and those guys will do their own integration. Not enough self-code hosters left like myself. The post made me check my own Adsense account and I am happy to report that I am now regularlly over $40 per month in adsense revenue and about the same in Amazon associates. Even though I don't write that much about books. I am going to start a favorite books page though.

Oh, well, I am back from a week in Florida so I will post some more. But out next two weeks. May be a bit of a lag.

Posted by Martin at 1:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack