Don’t Steal Stuff, Especially Sidekicks

Proof positive stealing can have more consequences that a guilty feeling: when a friend of Evan‘s left her Sidekick II in a car and didn’t get a response from calling her lost phone, she was forced to buy a replacement. However, when starting her new Sidekick using her profile, she found pictures and the AIM login for the thieves who took it. For the uninitiated, the Sidekick stores all of it’s content on T-Mobile’s servers, so in the event of loss all of your pictures, data, and so forth is saved and ready to go. As a form of payback, Evan has posted pictures of the thieves and more information about them on his website.

Evan quotes:

Right now, I am more concerned about spreading this story. I want people to realize that what goes around, comes around. If you find a phone in a taxi or elsewhere.. it is NOT yours.. return it….and when u lose an item, then the same will happen for u. This is not a religious endeavor or a moral endeavor….this is a HUMANITY endeavor. I want these people SHAMED into realizing what they have done. The man below in the pic is 25 years old. He should know better.

I couldn’t agree more, Evan. Best of luck to you.

AIM Pages: Not Quite Ready Yet

I was browsing the Museum of Modern Betas and noticed AIM Pages was released in beta. I logged in with my AIM ScreenName, created a profile, and filled out the Basic Info section. I selected “Straight” as my sexual orientation from the drop down menu and “Christian other” as my religion, and this was the result after clicking save:

AIM Pages: Religion Bug
Something tells me there may be a few bugs left to iron out before the “beta” comes off. Plus, I couldn’t add any of my friends on AIM to “My Buddies” because nobody on my list has created a profile yet. I can see why…

Getting Started with Ruby on Rails

Recently, I decided to try out Ruby on Rails and see what all of the commotion around Rails is about. I’ve managed to get it setup on my OS X machine by following several conflicting and confusing instructions. Only after I went through the pain and suffering of manual setup did I discover Locomotive, a simple tool to develop Ruby on Rails apps. It’s everything you need all in one elegant package and you should check it out if you’re at all interested in RoR on OS X.

Following ONLamps’ excellent getting started article (and it’s followup), I have been able to make a simple demo app that retrieved content from a database using the generate scaffold command as a foundation, but for some reason when I try to edit, delete, or do anything else I get mysterious errors relating to ActiveRecord after trying to change a few things. I’ve familarized myself with Ruby by reading some of Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby (which I highly recommend reading), but I’m confused when it comes to the vast Rails API. I think I’ll be ordering Agile Web Development with Rails before going any further.

Nevertheless, I was impressed on how easy it was to create a custom template and how retrieving stuff from the database just worked in the template. I can only imagine what stuff you can do when you actually learn to use the framework properly. 😛

Look! New Feature!

Many times I find something I want to post that is too small for a full-blown blog post. Thus, I’ve added mini-posts, or asides, to the website. Take this very post for example. Expect more frequent updates from now on in the form on these small tidbits of whatever I fancy at the moment. (Also, I apologize for the recent decline in updates… I’ve been busy with school exams and work as of lately.)

Roland VS-840: Upgrade to EX

VS-840EX StartupI recieved my VS-840 multitrack recorder a few weeks ago and it’s a nice little machine. I am getting started with recording and this will be the heart of my setup. Despite not having anything the plug into it yet I’ve already gotten used to some of its features. However, the total time I can record on a Zip 100 disk on medium-high quality is 49 minutes between all tracks. That means for a simple stereo 2 track recording I can only record about 25 minutes at a time. That doesn’t sound too good because I plan on using this to record long concerts sometimes.

To remedy this, I’m going to add a hard drive to the VS-840. But before I can do that, I had to upgrade the firmware to that of the VS-840’s replacement: the VS-840 EX. The difference between the two is a larger Zip 250 drive and newer firmware with more features. Although Roland offered an expensive upgrade kit for upgrading VS-840 to an EX, the secret is that the EX firmware can typicially be applied to most plain 840s. Luckily, my 840 took the firmware upgrade without an issue and I now have a VS-840 EX sans the bigger Zip drive. The smaller Zip drive is okay though, because now with the new firmware I can install a hard disk. If you’re interested in how I did it, check out my success story on the VS Planet forums.

Now I have to save up for some good microphones and I’ll be set for recording!

SIU Computer Science Day

Today I attended the SIU Computer Science Day for high schoolers in the area. The Computer Science department hosts many sessions about Linux, basic programming and basic web design. They also host a web design competition, where you have the day to develop a web site design from the instructions they give you. I was the only person who knew any web development skills, so the other 3 people on my school’s team were gathering images and information while I coded everything and designed the graphics in the matter of a few hours.

SIU CS Web Design Contest Entry

The final result is pictured on the right and is available online. We had to use the standard SIU template that used tables, but everything inside of it is pure CSS. Although I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted, it still was fun to make. We got 2nd in the competition, which didn’t really make too much sense. Third place was awarded to a school who used animated GIF headers, tables, and JavaScript that generated a cursor trail (that breaks outside of IE, thankfully). First place was awarded to a school who used tables, uneven text spacing and even a blink tag. The fact that the judges graded all 15 or so entries in 5 minutes didn’t help either. Oh well, you guys can be the judge here.

Foray into Recording

VS-840
This weekend I bought a Roland VS-840 digital multitrack recorder from eBay. Ever since I’ve done audio work for Gimme 5 I’ve been wanting to do my own recording stuff and this is the first step. I plan on using it to do some simple live recording stuff at first and as I gain my own experience I can go on to other things. I still need to buy about $200 worth of microphones, stands, cables and a submixer before I can really make use of it. Obviously, for about $400 I am not going to have a studio-quality setup, but it should be good enough for a beginner who will be recording high school band demos at best.

Until then, I’ve been reading up on the mods you can do with it. A hack that interests me is replacing the Zip 100 drive with a 2 GB hard drive. It’s relatively simple: you upgrade the firmware and use a desktop to laptop IDE adapter to install the hard disk. However, the firmware upgrade is somewhat hairy: it sometimes fails and can render the recorder useless. In addition, it’s a pain to remove the internal drive to transfer songs from the recorder to my computer.

I plan on making an external enclosure for the hard disk and the Zip drive so I can switch between the two and hook it up to my Windows box easier. If I get it working I’ll post a howto sometime. In any case, I look forward to posting about my experiences with starting out in recording.

FON is Here

FON Box

Well, my FON router finally arrived today. In cause you haven’t heard, FON is a shared WiFi service. Basicially, if you share your Internet over WiFi, then you can access the thousands of other community-operated FON hotspots too. You can also pay for the service if you don’t want to share or even make money from your hotspot with their different profile choices. FON is rapidly becoming popular, particularly in big cities.

According to the USPS tracking website, the router was delivered yesterday but no one here recieved it. Today I discovered it under a pile of leaves in the street gutter 10 feet from my mailbox. This is a reason why I always prefer FedEx, but anyway…

Hooking up the FON router was painless. I easily was able to get it all setup in about 5 minutes. I think that I may have the only FON hotspot in my town at the moment. Nevertheless, I like participating in the concept and if I ever travel I just might be able to connect to a shared FON hotspot somewhere.

A feature I discovered while looking through the control panel on my FON router is the ability to setup “Local Users”, so friends and visitors could make use of my FON hotspot even if they don’t have a FON account. This is great feature. Until today, if a friend came over with their laptop, I had to type in my personal network’s security key on their machine, add their MAC address to my router’s allow list, and so on before they could surf. Now, I can just give them a simple login name and password and its totally isolated from my personal LAN. That alone makes the router worth its cheap price of $33 shipped.

If you’re interested in the idea of sharing WiFi, FON is still offering a limited time promotion selling FON-ready routers for $25 plus $8 shipping, which you can buy on FON’s website. I’d recommend checking it out.