Category Archives: General

This Blog is Moving

Hello readers, the time has come for me to move my blog to my own server and some nice new Graffiti CMS software.  Anyone reading this feed either in the direct RSS feed or the old FeedBurner one, please change to the new one:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/AccidentalTechnologist

The old site will remain up but all the content is on the shiny new web site.  So please head on over.  See you there.

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Finally Ordered a New Office Chair

I have been using the same Staples special office task chair for the last 8 years, yes 8 years.  It has served me very well but the cloth was starting to wear out heavily on the seat and it was time to get something new.aeron

I considered many options as my analytical mind does and contemplated long and hard.  The decision was influenced from many factors including:

  • Cost – I am, let’s say..frugal and I didn’t want to spend too much.  I learned from looking at the chairs that cost was so subjective and it was not easy to make good comparisons.  There really were three general categories of chairs.
    • $50-$200 – These were mainly sold at Staples and this is the category I picked last time.  They seem mostly very consumer-oriented and sold simply based on cost.  I had one of these at one of my jobs and it did not last.
    • $200-$400 – This category was the hardest to really determine the value of the chair, most were names I had not heard of and was hard to distinguish between the low-end and these.  The only real difference I could see was the price.
    • $400-$1200 – This is the chair for someone really trying to find a long-lasting and good chair.  This is where Herman-Miller, Steelcase, Humanscale and others fall into.
  • Comfort – I tried out a lot of chairs and the low-end today felt very low-end.  The others had so many adjustments it was hard not to find a comfort zone.
  • Durability – I really wanted a chair which will last a long time and not be falling apart 6 months from now.
  • Brand – Brand is often an important factor, beyond recognition, brand is a great way to pick a chair on reputation alone.
  • Psychological Benefits – If I buy a great chair I will write better code and more interesting articles, right?
  • Adjustability – This goes in line with comfort but is important to have adjustable everything, arms, back, height, etc.

I spent about 4 weeks on and off trying to determine the best path to go down.  In the end, it came down to getting what you pay for, so I had to bump my budget up a bit.

I am not an office chair expert and frankly, I don’t want to be.  My new chair is the Herman Miller Aeron purchased from Sit4less.com, they had great customer service and great prices, free shipping and a month to use the chair and decide if it’s right for me. 

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Laptop Screaming Fan Syndrome

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My current laptop I use most of the day either in my home office or on the road is a Dell Latitude D820. I have had it about a year and half with the exception of the last month or so I have been very happy with it.

The last month the fan has been getting louder and louder to the point I almost bought a new Lenovo Thinkpad T61 but it sounded a bit irrational, clear evidence of how crazy it has been making me. The fan is running at maximum speed most of time and almost screaming.  I was at one of my clients this week and people even commented how loud it was and asking if that annoying sound was my laptop.  Embarrassingly enough, I had to admit that it certain was my laptop.

I started searching the Internet a bit and found others who had the same problem in both the same and different Latitude models.  I also decided to check out the Dell Support Site to see if any problems like this had been reported.  It turns out there is a new BIOS version, A07, which addressed the problem because the quiet mode of the laptop could not be set correctly.  Unfortunately, I already had version A07 of the BIOS installed.

D820

There were a few forum posts I came across that shed some light on the solution; cleaning the fan.  It had never dawned on me that this would be a problem.  One bit of information was on Devshed and made me think a bit about how and where I use my laptop.

My work environment is either the home office or a client and it’s never dusty.   I figured it was worth a shot to clean the fan.  I grabbed my trusty can of compressed air and, while the system was still running, blew the air into as many different angles as I could.  I was surprised to see the amount of dust coming out of the fan.

Once I was done the fan took about 2 minutes to slow down and become extremely quiet.  I would never have guessed the solution would be so simple.  One gentleman takes his D600 apart once every 6 months and cleans the fan and heat sink.

I think I will have to start making this as part of my system maintenance routine to keep my fan quiet and my clients happy.

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Reblogging – Enemy of the Blogger and Writer

I have been a .NET and Ruby editor for InfoQ since the end of the Summer of 2007, so about 7 months now and have been having a great time.  I have learned a lot about the web publishing industry and about aspects of technology I may not have otherwise been exposed to.  I am grateful to Floyd at InfoQ for the opportunity.rss_icon

Much of my writing comes from the 200 or so blogs I subscribe to and browse on a daily basis.  I say “browse” because I just don’t have time to read them all.  I look for interesting things and often create a news item for InfoQ and publish it for our readers to read, which they may or may not see if they didn’t otherwise read it on InfoQ.

Background

I wrote two news items over the past couple months which has raised a bit of controversy

The news items I wrote was just what it sounds like, a bit of news.  The posts included text from each of the original posts a some commentary explaining about bit more about the technique involved.  I gave full credit to both authors and linked backed to their respective blogs.

Controversy

A few days ago I was alerted to a post on Mike Duncan’s blog titled – How YOUR tech blog posts are RIPPED OFF while you sleep!.  Yikes!!  This post was talking about my news item on InfoQ.   I won’t go into the details of Mike’s post but it is worth reading and understanding his perspective.  The comments are also pretty good too, with two sides of the fence both downing InfoQ and others supporting them. 

I was pretty speechless at first and then couldn’t understand what the problem was, since I didn’t blindly copy Mike’s content and claim it my own.  Mike’s point of view is pretty clear..I plagiarized his hard work.  I certainly didn’t but I had to try to understand his viewpoint.

I am a frequent user of Twitter to chat with friends and associates, as well as keeping up on technology.  I was reading THE SAME NIGHT as I read Mike’s post when there was a Tweet from Scott Hanselman about a copied article on another web site.  I clicked the link and sure enough, it was my news item on InfoQ based on Scott’s post.  I was feeling pretty low at this point and wondered what the heck I had been doing so wrong.

I had been in contact with Scott in the past for various things and decided to send him an email about my InfoQ item.  It didn’t take long for a reply and sure enough, Scott was not really pleased with my work.  I am a bit slow sometimes and it took a few back and forth emails before I finally got the problems for Scott.  One issue was when searching on Google for LINQ and NOLOCK, my InfoQ item came up first, before Scott (the original work).

Needless to say, these two issues were a shock to me and I was very sad to hear it since plagiarism is not part of what I do.

Reblogging

There appears to be a term for the style of writing I did on these two posts, Reblogging.  I don’t know if I agree with the label 100%, since I didn’t copy and paste and call the work my own, but I get the idea.  It is probably a fine line for the two authors effected.

I blog as much as I can and try to get decent content.  I know based on the number of hits for various posts which content is good and which is not.  If one of my posts was reblogged like I did on InfoQ, I would be flattered.  I don’t have the same issues at these guys but maybe I will as I put more time into my posts.

I think summing up what bloggers find acceptable and what they don’t is pretty simple (hindsight):

  • Don’t – use a person’s blog post as the single source of another post or article
  • Don’t – make title so close to the original author’s.
  • Do – reference a post as part of a post which covers more information and references OTHER blog posts.keyboard_controls_writing_238875_l

Lessons Learned

It has been an interesting week and some great lessons learned.  I am thankful for Scott Hanselman who spent the time to explain his point-of-view and made me realize the importance of his writing.   Mike Duncan made some very good points that shows his passion for what he has written.

I will not be writing anymore single-source InfoQ news items without proper and up-front credit to the author.

I think I will also value my blog writing more too and will be writing more thought-out content too.

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Latest Twhirl release is a great step forward

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I have been using Twhirl as my Twitter client of choice on Windows for a few weeks now and am really happy with, especially when Twitter is actually up and running.

Twhirl is based on the Adobe AIR platform and puts a nice rich client on the Twitter experience.  The nice thing is, it also runs in Apple Macs too.

The new release also allows cross-posting updates to Pownce and Jaiku too.   I would like to be able to read updates on Pownce and Jaiku from Twhirl, but we will see if developers respond and give us a client capable of this.  Other features include:

Some of twhirl’s features:

  • runs on both Windows (XP/Vista) and Mac OSX
  • automatically fetches your friends’ status updates, as well as replies and direct messages for you, into an all-in-one timeline
  • color-coding different types of messages
  • connecting to multiple Twitter accounts
  • keyboard shortcuts
  • sys tray / dock icon support
  • visual and audible notifications on new tweets, configurable and with preview
  • view, add and remove favorites
  • shorten long URLs (using snurl.com)
  • automatically checking for twhirl updates
  • changeable color schemes
  • search public tweets (powered by terraminds)
  • NEW: timeline filtering
  • NEW: localization (English, German, Italian, Spanish)
  • NEW: network status indicator
  • NEW: cross-post to Pownce and Jaiku
  • NEW: marks new tweets as unseen

The support has also been very good.  I hope this clients goes a long way.

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Wanted: Someone to assist with WordPress Design

I have been running this blog for quite sometime now and would like to hire someone to make some design changes to it.

My blog is currently hosted by WordPress and I am not interested in changing this, I have built a good traffic base with the basic domain from WordPress and also don’t want to deal with self-hosting.

With that said, I am not impressed by the current built-in designs at the free WordPress hosted service.  I would pay to have my own theme but the best WordPress offer right now is the ability to customize a built-in theme with CSS changes.  I think this is all I need but I am not a designer and not very fluent in CSS work. 

So, I am looking for a designer who has taken the built-in WordPress theme and made changes to them for people.  I want the design taken care of as well as the CSS to go along with it.

Please reach me at rbazinet at gmail dot com.

If WordPress is listening, I would pay a reasonable annual fee to have my own theme hosted on WordPress.

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Interesting reaction to Amazon S3 failure today around the web

I blogged about my thoughts on the Amazon S3 failure today and what it meant to me and cloud computing in general. There was a fair amount of reaction and feedback out on the web and I wanted to share the comments I enjoyed most.

It is interesting how fast the blogs pick up on a failure by someone like Amazon, almost like vultures.  I guess most people look for a ding in the armor of companies with spotless records.

I like the reaction from SmugMug who was not effected by the outage.  I write for InfoQ, who recently switched over to Amazon S3 and EC2 for their video distribution and we were not effected at all.  The configuration we have was implemented in such a way that caching saved us.

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