Site Updates

After what has been far too long, I finally took the time to convert my site to using WordPress for all content. Previously I had wanted to have custom PHP run the main site and use WordPress only for the blogging, however, time never seemed to allow me to finish the normal site.

Things still on my list of todo items:

  • Add some content to the About, Projects, and Contact pages
  • Fix the header to match for the fileserver
  • Clean up some of the CSS and other layout stuff

Do It Yourself Projector Mount

I just moved back in at Purdue and as I was unpacking I realized I no longer had a TV since my previous roomate (who had the TV) graduated. Thus I decided to use a projector that I had available. The problem here was there is no good place to put said projector so it will be out of the way and project a nice image on the wall. So last night we took a trip to the hardware store to cook up a mount to attach the projector to the loft. This is our story:


Nike+ Running Gadgets

Since I have been out in San Jose, I have taken up running several days per week. As such, my current shoes were not quite cutting it in terms of comfort, etc… So I ventured to the mall and ended up selecting these “Nike Air Max Rev +” shoes (I know, long name). Now the one thing I did not realize at the store, and that the sales rep failed to mention, was that these shoes support the Nike+ running system. What is that? Its this little accelerometer that you place in the bottom of the shoe and it sends data to your iPod nano. It is therefore aptly named “Nike+ Apple”

Now seeing as I did not have a nano (and have no intention of purchasing one). I kept searching on their site and found they offer this nifty SportBand that does essentially the same thing (collect speed, time, distance, etc…) without the need for forking over cash to Apple. (Its the “Nike+ Apple – Apple” system now)

After you run, you plug the SportBand to the computer and upload the data to where you can set goals, track your progress, and make and accept challenges from other users. But why stop there. The Nike web site is not well suited for sharing your information with others, so I found a plugin for my Wordpress blog and have placed my most recent statistics on the right hand side of the pages. My first 3 runs were shorter, to be used for basic calibration (although I found that it was almost spot on whithout any need for calibration)

Hopefully having some fun gadgets involved in excercising will encourage me to keep it up the rest of the summer and into the fall as I return to school.

VMware + Ubuntu

I installed VMware Workstation on my new laptop so that I can test applications i develop on various platforms. The first one I decided to try on it was Ubuntu 8.04 which was just released a few days ago. The results were amazing. Not only did VMware perform exceedingly well on my system, the entire installation of Ubuntu took under 10 minutes to complete.

Once i rebooted the virtual OS, performance was on par with my native windows OS. There was no lagging or other issues I used to find in virtualization. And while I have always been a RHEL / CentOS guy, this latest release of Ubuntu is proving to be quite functional out of the box. Package management is a breeze with built-in tools for adding and removing applications from the online repositories. The other element that I appreciated is Ubuntu’s small disk footprint. It starts out with the essentials and allows you to add on as necessary and thus a standard desktop install only uses 2.4GB.

Will i be using VMware more now? Absolutely! Will Ubuntu replace my beloved RHEL and CentOS on my servers? Doubt it. While it proves to be a nice desktop environment, there is still more support for RPM based packages on the Red Hat architecture. But who knows, as Ubuntu becomes more and more popular on desktops it may one day overtake Red Hat as the dominant distribution for servers.

Vista and BitLocker

So now that my new laptop is up and running, I decided to try Vista’s BitLocker drive encryption feature. This allows you to take your entire Windows partition and encrypt the contents so that should your laptop ever be stolen, your data is completely mostly secure. I say mostly because recently there have been cases where people have exploited the decryption key being resident in memory and have successfully moved RAM from one system to another and decoded the secured drives. However, BitLocker will surely thwart the casual thief and make accessing my files more difficult.

The setup for BitLocker is a little messy as you have to have a separate boot partition to store the unencrypted loader which handles decrypting the OS when you boot. Luckily Microsoft recently released the “BitLocker Drive Preparation Tool” which allows you to create this second drive without reinstalling Vista.

With the proper tools in hand my setup was reduced to these few steps:

  1. Run the Disk Preparation Tool to Shrink C: and create the S: Partition
  2. Reboot
  3. Activate BitLocker and save the decryption key in a “safe place”
  4. Reboot (at this point Vista will verify that the decryption key does work)
  5. BitLocker will begin encrypting the drive.

The encryption process takes some time, depending on the quantity of data already on your hard drive. Luckily it is all in the background. Now you can go about your work knowing that should your laptop ever be stolen, it will take more than a casual hacker to get your files of the drive.

Wordpress 2.5

Wordpress Logo

Wordpress has been gearing up for their much anticipated 2.5 release. As such I though it only fitting that I upgrade to one of the latest test releases. I installed 2.5 RC 2 and have been nothing but impressed so far. The admin interface is the largest visual overhaul. It is much more streamlined and now offers many new features.

My favorite new addition is the new media management interface. This makes it almost trivial to upload and manage images and other content. This will certainly be useful in the future. Another great aspect to the media manager is the gallery feature, which allows the rapid creation of photo galleries on a given article.

Looking foward to the final release, but at this point the RC 2 seems very stable.

Cisco 7970G + Asterisk

The Cisco 7970G IP Phone is by far one of the nicest VoIP Phones i have ever used. However, getting it to work outside the standard Cisco Call Manager environment with Asterisk can be a challenge. After weeks of testing various configurations and tweaking settings on both the phone and Asterisk, i was able to finally get a working configuration that works for both local network connections and NAT as well.


Zenoss Update

Zenoss Logo

Zenoss recently released the latest update to its popular monitoring and management platform. Version 2.1.3 is mainly a maintenance release but fixes numerous bugs that affected the UI and underlying modeling. The upgrade on Dark Horse Networks’ Zenoss install worked flawlessly thanks to their simple RPM distribution.

Complete release notes for 2.1.3 can be found here: Release Notes

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