31 December, 2011

What New Years Means to Me - Pt. III

My New Year's Resolution is to not assume people who disagree with me are ignorant. Sometimes they DO have a lot of good data, upon which to make their decisions and judgments, but they simply don't have the tool-set to properly analyze the information.


- From "What The New Years Means to Me", by Dan Reams (shopping a publisher)

What New Years Means to Me - Pt. II

When I was three, I threw a baseball off the Earth, and the next year, I was hoping we would hit it and it would cause a big crater. I was so young and naive, then, in the ways of orbital mechanics.

Silly me. Little did I know that it had never achieved escape velocity, and it ended up killing a donkey in Tijuana about a week after I'd thrown it up. I guess the performer was po'd at the loss of her income.

- From "What The New Years Means to Me", by Dan Reams (shopping a publisher)

What New Years Means to Me

Blah blah Happy New Years blah blah.

What do I like about New Years? Back when I physically wrote checks, I really liked being able to write a different digit, in the one's place. Every decade I was like, "All right! I get to write TWO DIFFERENT DIGITS!". For now though, it's "Welcome, Two, and One, well, eff you."

Of course, now it's TYPING, not writing. So, like, I'll be doing a lot more 2012-MM-DD this year, and I'm looking forward to it.

- From "What The New Years Means to Me", by Dan Reams (shopping a publisher)

10 December, 2011

Nook Tablet Update - My Wife is Returning Hers - Readability Not as Good as an e-ink System

My wife very much enjoyed her Nook Tablet as a tablet.  However, as a book reader it gave her a headache when using it for an hour or more at a stretch.  She much more enjoys our kids e-ink based Nooks.

So off it goes, back to Barnes & Noble.

ref my posting: http://waukeshawestside.blogspot.com/2011/11/more-fodder-for-fire-nook-lightweight.html

08 December, 2011

UWM pantherLINK email - Thunderbird - Extracting AND Deleting Attachments - Review of "Attachment Extractor"

    While I utilized this tool on my UWM email account, one could likely use it on any Thunderbird email account.  Note that some of the deletion options may or may not work, depending on, for example, how your service provider implements IMAP, etc.  The choice to run the tool -- and possibly lose your email messages and/or file attachments -- is yours.

     I ran the Thunderbird add-on, "Attachment Extractor" (http://www.eviljeff.com/?page=moz-extensions) and (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/attachmentextractor/) against 5,174 messages in my IMAP inbox.

My Goals
  • Extract the file attachments from my messages to a local folder.
    • Utilize the option to keep a text (HTML) copy of the message itself, as a file, in addition to the extracted file attachment.
  • Delete the file attachments, after downloading them from the email messages, while retaining the email messages themselves.


  • Thunderbird 8.0
  • Windows 7
  • Extraction folder set to a local drive
    The entire process took about 20 minutes to extract the files and to create the text file copies of any messages that also had attachments.  Surprisingly, I could continue to use Thunderbird and other applications while the process ran.

    I found the tool to be useful.  I particularly liked the ability to include variable keys to include in the resulting file names.

    The first time I ran the utility I opted to use the 'Save message txt to file' option.  Doing so created a separate HTML file for every message in my inbox.  While an interesting backup, I found no real use for the HTML files, so I aborted the process, disabled that option, and simply downloaded the attachments themselves.
    For my UWM account I chose 'Delete the attachment from the message' and its 'Delete with AE's internal (experimental) routine.  This method allowed me to bypass having to okay the deletion of each message's attachments.  Again, just like using the tool itself, the risk of utilizing that option is your choice.
What Next?
    Once you download your file attachments, make sure to back them up to an external drive, a cloud drive, etc., using the desired encryption technique of your choice.  I suggest TrueCrypt, to encrypt containers, or Crypt4Free to encrypt individual files.  Both are free and easily locatable via your favorite search engine.

25 November, 2011

"Titanium Backup" is a HUGE Time-Saver for Restoring Android Apps to a new OS

I currently have the second incarnation of the HTC Incredible phone (meaning the updated screen, not the 'Incredible 2').  Verizon released the v2.3.4 Gingerbread update, in August, 2011, and then pulled it, citing difficulties.

As of November, 2011, Verizon has a known issue where the Gingerbread v2.3.4 update will offer to install, on some phones, but will fail to install, even after offering to update the phone.  This happened to me four times.  Even though the update claimed to have downloaded, I could never find it on my SD card.  Even though I answered, in the affirmative, to the prompt, "Install Update Now?", the update would not install.

Navigating through the phone's menu, to the software information, and asking for an update would always inform me my phone was on the current version and no updates would be needed.  Then, a few days later, I would again be prompted to run the update, and the cycle would repeat.

Googling this phenomenon, I found that many others were also experiencing this, and that upon calling Verizon, Verizon stated that they had pulled that update back in August.

Tired of all this, I performed the following steps:  [Note you will need to root your phone in order to run Titanium Backup.]

  1. Ran 'Titanium Backup' and backed up all my apps and their related data, as well as my system settings.
  2. Copied my TitaniumBackup folder, on my SD card, to my DropBox account, just in case something were to happen to the SD card folder during the OS update process.  [Note: Nothing bad happened to the SD card's folder.]
  3. Located the Gingerbread 2.3.4 update on the web.  Because I like installing updates via the phone itself (versus via executable via my PC), I opted to place the update to the root of my SD card, then install it via HBOOT.  The update ran with no problems.
  4. All my apps were gone, as expected, so I downloaded 'Titanium Backup' and reinstalled it, then ran through the process of restoring my apps.  'TB' found the backup folder without prompting, and I was off and running. Since the free version requires answering the install dialog separately, for each application -- and I had nearly 300 apps -- I aborted the restoration process and paid the $6+ for the full version.
  5. I restarted the phone, ran Titantium Backup's restoration process, and all my previous apps installed.  I ran a sampling of 10 of the apps and found all my previous data had been successfully restored.  Note that I chose not to restore my system data, because I did not want to risk the chance that some setting, that changed between Android 2.2 (Froyo) and 2.3.4 (Gingerbread), would screw something up.  It' much easier to just tweak a few things, interface wise, and have the benefit of restored apps and their data.
Having the full version of 'TB' meant I was able to enable its "Use Dropbox" mode so that my phone's backups would be uploaded to my Dropbox account.  For good measure I also utilized an encryption key to protect my data in the cloud.

12 November, 2011

Some Other Tablets - Vizio & Pandigital

    Just because there isn't a lot of buzz about these tablets, right NOW, doesn't mean you shouldn't give them a look.

Vizio 8" (VTAB1008): Under $200 for an Android tablet with an HDMI hook-up and a microSD slot.  Yep.  http://www.samsclub.com/sams/shop/product.jsp?productId=prod4130586 and http://www.vizio.com/vtab1008.html for the official site.  Don't believe the price, at Vizio's site, as it's a lot cheaper elsewhere.  For folks with Vizio TV's or phones it offers feature integration, and it's IR Blaster remote control might be fun to use to screw with fellow bar patrons.

Pandigital 7": Under $100 (not a typo) for an Android-based device with a microSD slot, WiFi, and access to the Android market.  Downsides include the 800x600 resolution and the older Android version.  Still, at this price, it is pretty much a disposable thing.  It would make a great first tablet for a pre-schooler or grade-schooler who just wants to play with apps and read books and do some Internet activities.

More Fodder for the Fire-Nook Lightweight Bout

I've come across some interesting comparison information and opinions.  After viewing all this information I am giving the Nook a slight edge, but just as with their old readers, I think both devices are attractive.

  • Yes, content is king these days, but the Nook's dual-processor and SD slot support will make it able to run more intense apps as they are released.  Out of the gate the available array is impressive enough to hold me.
  • Barnes & Noble (Nook) has a "free repair in-store service".
  • The Nook is better for folks longer in between WiFi  hot-spots.  This means people on the go, or in office spaces without WiFi, will be able to access more stored on-board materials than Kindle users, because the device can hold "more stuff" in times that it has no Internet connection.
  • The Nook has a superior battery life (per specs).
  • The Nook supports the library ePub format; the Kindle still doesn't.

Programmer Info: Good stuff and it includes an embedded Nook promo video, so don't be surprised when you hear a woman talking about the Nook.  Scroll down the page there to see her: http://www.i-programmer.info/news/152-epub/3325-nook-prepares-to-take-on-fire.html


Specifications comparison of Amazon Kindle Fire, B&N Nook Color, and B&N Nook Tablet: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2395979,00.asp#fbid=jc71b59DClJ

BizJournals  Slide-shows of Kindle File, Nook Tablet, and iPad: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/blog/2011/11/slideshow-kindle-fire-nook-tablet.html

26 September, 2011

Chromium OS - Creation and use of a USB Flash Drive Boot


    Having played a bit with Joli OS, and generally liking it (see 2011-September-17 'Joli OS - A Primer' post), I wanted to play with Chromium OS.

    Chromium OS is the open source version of Google's 'Chrome OS'.  You'll notice it's icon is identical, to Chrome's, except it is four shades of blue, versus Chrome's blue, red, green, and yellow icon.  It is available for devices running Windows, Linux, and MAC OS.


    My intention was to find a compiled Chromium USB flash boot image that would allow me to play with the OS without performing a full installation.  After some Googling, and a bit of reading on the boards, I opted for 'Flow', built by Hexxeh, found here: http://chromeos.hexxeh.net/ , and versions for Windows, Linux, and Mac devices are provided.

    Hexxeh does a great job of documenting the steps involved.


    To duplicate my experience you will need:

  • 2GB USB flash drive (or larger) that you are willing to reformat
  • A current Chromium OS image file (available via the Hexxeh links above)
  • A USB image-file writer.  Since my primary OS is Windows XP, I chose to use the writer that Hexxah recommended, 'Image Writer for Windows', available at https://launchpad.net/win32-image-writer/ .
Creating and Using the USB Boot Drive

    Creating the USB flash disk was simple.  I downloaded the image (IMG) file, downloaded the disk imager software, then installed the image file to my USB drive.  The formatting of the drive took proximately ten minutes.  Note I used an 8GB drive, as I didn't have a spare 2GB drive available.

    Upon completion of the drive's image installation, I inserted it in my Acer One D255 netbook and turned on the device.  Within moments the Chromium logo and name appeared and my USB drive's light flickered, indicating to me that the drive was in use.  After four minutes I thought perhaps it had frozen, but a few more minutes indicated there was still activity.  After a total of ten minutes (apx.), I was presented with a simple configuration screen.  The time lag was obviously spent with Chromium interrogating the netbook to find the appropriate drivers to use.

    At the configuration screen I was able to select my WiFi network and enter its authentication credentials.  The connection to the network went well and I was soon presented with a Google login screen.  I opted for 'Guest Login', the Chromium browser launched, and I was looking at tabs displaying the contents of the USB drive.  On another tab I navigated to www.google.com and was able to quickly access the Internet.

Trying the Already Configured USB Drive in Another Device

    I then wanted to see how the USB drive worked in my notebook (versus my netbook).  Upon booting the notebook, the configuration seemed to take even longer than it had in the netbook.  Perhaps this is due to the USB drive already having been configured, for the netbook, and the reconfiguration was involving internal "Are you sure this really isn't the netbook?" kind of interrogation.  The system announced "Your system is repairing itself. Please wait." and was nice enough to provide a time estimate, in the upper right corner, of how long the process would take: 12 minutes.  Indeed, the countdown changed periodically, leaping from 12, to 8, to 7, to 5, holding there for a while, etc., but the total time of repair did take around the 12 minutes that had been estimated.  Once the repair was completed, my experience with the netbook was duplicated, in that I chose the network, entered the credentials, and was able to browse successfully.

    Shutting down, via the power button, was extremely slow, with several minutes of staring at a 'Disabling IRQ 7' message in the upper left corner of the screen.  Growing restless, after apx. four minutes, I held the power button in, powering down the notebook by force.  I restarted it, and the USB flash went back through the repair process, estimating another 12 minutes.  I assume this is because I had rudely shut the notebook off without allowing the shutdown process to complete, so perhaps my device settings had not been properly saved.  I bailed out of this process as well, forcing a shutdown.  I removed the USB drive and powered-on the notebook to ensure it's regular OS (Windows7) was intact, and all was well, with one exception:  The system time had lept five hours into the future.  I assume the Chromium OS had been set for some European country, in the image, and that had lived through into my running of the image, and it reached in and grabbed my notebook's clock and adjusted it for the Eurozone.  Pure speculation.  My notebook's clock had not been set to use an Internet time server, so in Windows7, I enabled that, and it set my clock to U.S. Central time, which is what I wanted.

Trying the Boot Drive in the Original Device in Which it Had Been Created

    I then wanted to see what would happen if I returned the drive to the netbook.  As anticipated, I was presented with a time estimate (6 mins) on the 'Your system is repairing itself. Please wait.' screen.  The anticipated time passed and the Chromium OS launched, I selected my WiFi network, and proceeded.  This time, I opted to sign in to my Google account.  I was prompted to choose a picture, to represent my account, and I was taken directly to a browser screen.  Because I choose to sync my bookmarks and history, to my Google account, all my browser history was ready and waiting for me, a nice touch.

    I noticed my system clock was two hours in the past.  I shut the OS down, via the power button -- I was gracefully taken back to a login screen and then chose the 'Shutdown' icon -- and the device turned off within 30 seconds.

    I restarted the netbook, with the USB drive still installed, and the OS booted quickly.  No repair was necessary.  I was presented with a login screen containing the picture I had chosen, along with my previously used login name, as well as the choice of the guest login.  I opted for my login name, and the Chromium splash screen displayed.  After forty minutes minutes, of the splash screen continually displayed, and the flash drive's light fluttering, I turned off the netbook.  After restarting, Chromium OS launched, in just a few seconds, and I was able to again choose my login.  Upon logging in I was quickly taken to the browser and Internet.

Installation of the OS as a Multi-Boot Option on a Device with an Existing OS

    I did not test this option, due to time constraints.  The directions that Hexxeh recommended, though mentioning Windows, were more geared toward devices containing existing LINUX OS's, versus Windows.  Although familiar with various boot loaders, I was not willing to dive into this on a Sunday afternoon minutes away from the start of the Packers game (American football team).  I will return to this, however, as I am a big fan of multi-booting my devices, and I will update this entry accordingly.


It was a fun experiment, but I did not find the OS to be usable, launching and running it from an external USB flash drive.  It certainly is less than ideal to reconfigure the USB drive from one device to another.  Were I to use the OS, via a USB flash, I would dedicate the stick to one device.  My ideal situation would be a multi-boot, as I mentioned above.

The OS itself is fine.  It's a browser and it will run apps.  I expect its load time would meet its advertized lightning fast times were I to have installed the OS as a multi-boot option.  The option to have a guest login, as well as a dedicated login, is what I wanted; Joli OS does not make it easy to lend one's device to another person, since the OS login is basically an admin-level root-access login to the device itself.  [On that note, I think I have a solution, so look to my previously mentioned Joli OS posting for an update on that soon.].

23 September, 2011

Using Personal Devices to Access Work Resources - Virtual Desktops Are a Great Answer

For the almost OCD security-conscious tech-savvy (a.k.a. yours truly), using one's own devices makes sense, from a personal perspective. They incur no support onus, by the organization, if the individual agrees they are on their own with respect to such matters.

The downside, for the organizations, is their data is no longer within the domain of their control. This implies a level of trust, between the organization and the user. I've always felt that the users need to prove that trust, demonstrating their capabilities of securing and/or preserving their data, prior to being released into the wild. Unfortunately, such an establishment of trust requires resources, from the organization, related to training and perhaps occasional auditing. Many organizations simply choose to look the other way, and then disavow responsibility in the event of a breach.

The iPad is a prime example of a consumer device that fits poorly into the workplace security. If one configures their work email, the only security is the front-end slider lock, on the device itself. Few use that, and if used, it is easily beaten. Many users also use cute little notepad apps, storing their passwords, ripe for the picking if they run to the restroom, at Starbucks, and return to find their iPad gone.

While the consumerization of IT has a lot of great benefits, to both employee and organization, the security concerns cannot be understated. I am a proponent of virtual desktops, where one can login to a work desktop, where the the resources themselves -- files, secure sites, etc. -- exist only on the virtual dt, and the user simply has to securely log in to a window to access them. Those of us who have been around, for decades, have been using this philosophy since pcANYWHERE made this popular back in the early 1990's. It's nothing new...it's just a whole lot better now, with hosted Citrix servers and other various virtual machines.

It's been fun to watch the swing from old Burroughs terminals, to totally stand-alone PC's, to p-to-p networks, to Novell and Microsoft servers, to cloud storage...and back to the "slightly-more-than-dumb" terminal approach.

Control the data centrally. Allow access from everywhere.

And by trust, I am not talking about trust from a personal integrity perspective, but rather, from a competency perspective. Very few data breaches are due to intentional employee malice. Most are due to incompetence, of which inattention is a member of the subset. Brilliance and conscious awareness, in one arena, can often be "deer in the headlights" in other disciplines, and I was speaking solely of data security awareness. But, I acknowledge a colleague's point about hiring practices. Either it is time to introduce a filtering process, related to data security and archive management, at that point, or send them off to something like Records Management training., immediately after they are hired, and prior to them having any real access.

As for email, it is one thing to intercept email, in flight, an exercise that requires specific timing and know-how. It is another to simply walk off with essentially a pile of open documents, which someone's non-secure mailbox is.

As an Enigmail (GnuPG/PGP) user, I am aware of the non-secure nature of email. I do know that, no matter how conscientious one is at not SENDING sensitive information, those same people might not be so good at deleting INBOUND sensitive messages, thinking that perhaps they are not responsible if someone else gets access. They may be right, from a legal perspective, but from an ethical one {eek! He mentioned "ethics" in an IT conversation!}, we all take care, in our personal conversations, not to repeat personal items that friends tell us, at Starbucks, even though we know someone might have overheard said conversation. We usually do not cite that at "was spoken in the public domain, and thus I can tell whomever I like" as an excuse to gossip. I see no reason why this should be different in the text world.

20 September, 2011


By definition, we cannot know everything there is to know, about anything. We can know something's velocity, but not it's location. We can know it's location, but not its velocity.

Eventually, we have to take what we know and assume we know enough about it to make an "educated" decision, and move forward.

Granted, one person's "educated enough" is another's "barely above ignorant", and yet another's "over-thought it to death".

This is the beauty, and the terror, known as "giving it one's best shot".

It comes down to a balance over over-coming laziness, and not missing the boat.

A thought about Facebook's implementation of "Subscribe" & "Acquaintances"

Facebook's recent implementation of "Subscribe" functionality -- mimicking Twitter's (which mimicked SMS blog feeds), and "Close Friends" and "Acquaintances" -- attempting to get users to more easily use their grouping features that Google+ did, brilliantly, with the latter's "Circles" concept -- is a bid for FB to become more relevant in the timeliness arena, a means for them to compete with Twitter and Google+ in the right-now world.  Fair enough.

Of course, with social networks now almost as prevalent as chat clients became ten years ago, the same issues exist that have been there since the beginning.  One must either be a member, of all of them, or have a client application that spans them all, or fear being left behind, or worse, MISSING SOMETHING.  {gasp}

This gives "we move in different circles" an entirely new, modern, and somewhat depressing slant.  Often, it is not through intentional exclusion that people find themselves out of the loop.  More often it is a result of them either not having taken the time, to set themselves up in yet another venue, or it is the posters, who wishing their company, failed to advertise where in the heck their space is.

And now, many of us have numerous email addresses, and few of us aggregate them into one email client, and thus need to remember to check multiple locations to get all of one's email.  Many of us also have multiple phone numbers, and our contacts often do not know which one of these is our preferred conduit, between us and them.  In our contact lists we may have three or four, for any given contact, not knowing which accept text messages and which are land lines.

And texting is really the universal "chat", but it's about as limited, as a tweet, for conveying useful information.

So, enjoy your new found freedom to blast your thoughts into the cloud, people.  Hopefully at least a few of your intended targets will see them.

17 September, 2011

Joli OS - A Primer - Installation Steps Included


For fun, I set out to accomplish the following within a two-hour window.  I achieved all my goals.  Joli OS really is simple.  For full disclosure, note that, a few days earlier, I did create my Jolicloud Desktop online account, a step that would have added five minutes to today's adventure, had I waited.

  • Learn enough about Joli OS to install it as a multi-boot option to my Acer One D255 netbook.
  • Learn enough about Joli OS to install it to a USB key that I could use on any PC.
  • Learn enough about Jolicloud to configure my online account.
  • Write this primer
The primer was written in a text editor, with Dokuwiki syntax.  It is thus not the prettiest, but it should be short enough to live through to get you where you need to go to accomplish the first two objectives, listed above, in a 15 minute window.


====== Joli OS - A Primer ======

Quick Notes by Dan Reams (@ebsewi)

===== Summary =====

Joli OS is an OS, optimized for netbooks and old PC's, based on the Ubuntu GNU/Linux OS, with a modified Ubuntu kernel.

It currently has two download options - an ISO image, from which you can format a hard drive and install the OS, and a Windows installer, with which you can install a multi-boot system and thus run, for example, Windows XP OR Joli OS, chosen at boot time.

It provides integration with your cloud-based files, allowing you to easily access them all from any Joli OS implementation you have.  E.g., I can access my files from my netbook's installation, from my dedicated Joli OS ancient house PC -- given new life, by Joli OS -- and even from the Jolicloud desktop, available via any supported browser from any OS, thus allowing me access to my files from my primary home Windows XP machine, my work Windows7 PC, a Mac, my wife's iPad...etc.

===== Clarification between Joli OS and Jolicloud =====

Joli OS used to be called Jolicloud, but branched off as an OS when the Jolicloud name was repurposed to refer to the online desktop product.  One can use Jolicloud from any compatible browser.  For more information on Jolicloud, visit http://www.jolicloud.com and follow the links.

If someone tells you they are running Jolicloud, on their netbook, they are more likely running Joli OS, versus an older version still called Jolicloud.  This can be confusing if you go looking to install the OS...and find yourself staring at the online desktop product.

The sheet you are reading now is dedicated to Joli OS.

===== Installation Methodologies =====
Depending on your needs, you can choose any of the methods listed below.

I recommend dedicating a USB flash drive for the purpose.  I dug around in my junk drawer and found a teeny 1GB drive, copied the EXE to it, and ran it from my netbook.  I then deleted the EXE, from the USB drive, and ****

==== Preface ====

I recommend you read http://help.jolicloud.com/entries/191624-what-are-the-differences-between-the-jolicloud-windows-installer-and-an-iso-install , as it explains the difference between running Joli OS, from a file-based partition, existing within your Windows NTFS partition, and the use of an actual separate system partition, on your hard drive.  For my initial installation I chose the former (see 'My Netbook Experience', below).  Even though my gut told me to use the separate partition approach (due to my general geekiness and adoration of keeping OS's separate), I opted for the "from Windows" approach to see how it works, figuring most of my readers might also prefer this simpler solution.  From the docs, the performance differences are stated to be negligible, if at all noticeable.

==== Running from a USB Flash Drive or Other Removable Media {E.g., Flash Disk} ====

This allows one to boot the OS from a flash drive, assuming one has configured one's netbook (or other PC) to boot from the flash drive.  As always, choose a fast USB port if your device has a choice between the ancient USB 1.0 ports and the newer USB 2.0 (or even newer) ports.  See http://help.jolicloud.com/entries/248282-how-do-i-try-jolicloud-and-joli-os-without-installing-it , which outlines this method.

To create the USB Key itself -- which is just a USB flash drive with a boot partition and software on it -- go to http://help.jolicloud.com/entries/231051-creating-a-jolicloud-usb-key-guide and follow the directions.

In summary, download the jolicloud-usb-creator-installer-{version number}.exe and the Joli-OS-{version number}.iso file, run the creator EXE, and follow the screens.  Don't fall asleep yet!  Your 'create' button will be grayed out until you browse, in the application, and locate your ISO file that you downloaded above.  See the link above for screen shots and instructions.

Note that, once the USB Key installer is installed, you can create as many keys as you want, whenever you want.  Very, very cool.

You will find the Jolicloud USB Creator in your Windows' Programs.

==== Installing and Running the Windows Multi-Boot ====

I choose to run the multi-boot, on my Windows XP netbook.  This is great for general web browsing or note-taking circumstances when I need to get information, or write notes, extremely quickly.  It also allows me to boot into Windows XP when I need to do so.  Note this does not COME WITH Windows XP; it merely allows one's Windows XP to survive, on the machine, untouched.

As mentioned in the 'Preface' above, I chose to install Joli OS to my netbook using the Windows Installer, versus installing it to my netbook via the USB ISO file.  For the required steps, see http://help.jolicloud.com/entries/230291-how-do-i-install-joli-os-while-keeping-windows .

The above link refers to 'Joli OS Express', which is the Windows installer (Joli-OS-Installer.exe) found at the downloads link.  The quick steps for doing that can be found at http://help.jolicloud.com/entries/230291#download-jolicloud-express .

=== My Netbook Experience ===

As previously stated, I chose to run Joli OS from a file-based partition -- a virtual partition, if you will -- housed within my existing NTFS file system.  To accomplish this I simply ran the Joli-OS-Installer.exe file, allowed it to create a 50GB partition file, determined a PC login name and password,* and allowed the device to restart.

*I chose a generic login name and password that my whole family, or even a guest, can use.  Reason: After restart, one will be prompted to login to their ONLINE Jolicloud Desktop account, and each person can have their own.  Thus, my method allows for multiple users to utilize the Joli OS installation, versus just dedicating it to myself.

I found the above struck-through methodology to be an incorrect approach.  The result of that procedure was the creation of an administrator-level user that had NTFS-level administrator access to the entire PC.  I.e., that user could browse to any folder, on the system, including all the Windows users' documents folders, etc.  Thus, an alternate, safe approach is to have the users utilize the Joli OS's "Guest" account, which will offer the user the ability to login to their Jolicloud address.  Using the guest login, the user can still modify their data, online (in the cloud), but no files will be saved to the local device.

I had hoped that the Joli OS' "Guest" login would take the guest to a generic app page, where the user could utilize each app, as needed (such as Gmail), logging in as necessary.  Unfortunately, Joli OS is married to Jolicloud (online Desktop), making the utility, of Joli OS, as a general kiosk solution, for my old dumpy family PC, far less useful.  It will require each family member to have her own Jolicloud account/profile.  While this is fine, and something I can set up for them, it is not likely any house guests will have such an account.  I will check the forums, for possible solutions, and update this blog entry with my thoughts as I learn more.

Summary: I erred in having defined my goal.  My goal was to create a general kiosk, usable by anyone, allowing them to connect to any web app they chose -- even just a web browser if they so chose -- and relying on them to authenticate to their own web resources via any given app.  This was achieved, but only if the guest user has an existing Jolicloud account or is willing to create one on the fly. Thus, Joli OS is not a tenable solution for a public-access kiosk, at least based on what I have learned so far (three hours into my Joli life).

My post, to the Joli OS 1.2 Feature list Facebook page, in response to my above experience:

Dan Reams: I installed the latest Joli OS, and it's neat. However, the Guest mode requires the guest to have a Jolicloud account. If they do not have one, they cannot be passed through to a generic guest Jolicloud dashboard. Instead, their only two options are to sign in or sign up. Such users cannot even use a web browser without signing in. This makes the concept of "loan the PC to a friend" only useful if one's friend has a Jolicloud account or is willing to create one on the fly.

Don't get me wrong; I'm still a fan. I understand Joli wanting to direct people to create accounts, to be exposed to Joli content. I also realize that doing so is especially simple if the guest allows Jolicloud to link to their Facebook accounts. My point is simply that the use of a guest account should be understood to be defined as "allowing a Jolicloud user to use this device without user data being permanently stored on the device," versus "allow a friend to easily access the Internet."

My full experience can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/437wjn3


After the restart the installer continued its work, installing Joli OS, providing a progress bar and various tips and tricks screens to keep me occupied.  I ignored these screens, preferring to write this document.  After a ten minute installation process, the netbook rebooted and notified me that I would need to connect to a network to continue, advising me to click the network connectivity icon.  I did so, saw my home network, logged into it*, and was ready to go.  In the Joli OS login screen, I was prompted to log in to my online Jolicloud account.  I did so, and was then staring at my online account.  I quickly configured my Google Mail and Google Docs, and was then ready to explore.

*I opted NOT to save my Joli OS Desktop login information, so that only I would have access to my data.  Any other users of the OS can then proceed to access their data via their own online credentials.

I then logged out (via the Power Button icon), held my breath, and was greeted with the standard Windows boot options menu (Yay!), offering me both Joli OS and Windows XP.  I was able to launch XP just fine.

Synopsis:  A pleasurable experience, both in installation and usage.  Since the online desktop interface applies to anywhere I log in to Joli Desktop, I can add and configure my apps, from the comfort of my home PC, and use them on my netbook later, without having to configure them VIA the netbook.  My total time spent, from getting up and making coffee, downloading and installing the OS, and writing this entire document, was exactly two hours.  Granted, I was using two PC's, but still...not too shabby.  If you follow the instructions you can be up and running in about 15 minutes, I'd guess.

==== OS Installation to a Hard Drive ====

This is a fantastic refit for your old, retired and under-the-stairs box that you've always been meaning to strip for parts, or wipe its HD of sensitive data, but just haven't gotten around to doing yet.  Quickly make a Internet kiosk that your guests can access...without screwing up your main PC or otherwise allowing them access to your personal data devices.

Follow the steps at http://help.jolicloud.com/entries/230978-how-do-i-make-joli-os-my-only-operating-system to make this happen.

NOTE: This method also allows one to install the OS, to a separate PARITION, on the hard drive, keeping your other OS intact.

In summary, you will need to download the ISO file, the USB Creator application (for Windows, Mac, or Linux), create a USB key, and set up the device.

HINT: If you want to see what this will eventually look like, use the USB method with 'Try Joli OS without installing', which will let you run Joli OS from the USB drive, without installing anything to your device.

===== Downloads =====

Official http://www.jolicloud.com/download
Both the "Keep Windows" (multi-OS) and ISO (disc image) packages

===== Support =====

Official Support http://www.jolicloud.com/support
Includes various installation options

===== Information =====

Official http://www.jolicloud.com/product

Official Blog http://www.jolicloud.com/blog/

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joli_OS

20 August, 2011

Dell Latitude E6520 Notebook - Unable to Disable Tap-to-Click on Touchpad - Solved

My Dell Latitude E6520 (Windows7) did not have an option for me to disable 'Tap-to-click' on the Touchpad. The available options under the general mouse keypad had no such option included. I had seen similar issues, with other Dell laptop models, and in those cases a BIOS update had sometimes been called for, but in most cases that was like hitting a nail with a sledgehammer, so I figured there was probably an easier way to proceed, and there was.

1) I went to http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/driverslist.aspx?c=us&cs=28&l=en&s=dfb&ServiceTag=&SystemID=LAT_E6520&os=W764&osl=en&catid=&impid= and downloaded and installed the DELL_MULTI-TOUCH-TOUCHPAD driver for Windows7 64-bit.

2) After restarting, the Dell Touchpad icon showed up, in my system tray, but it would not work without the .NET framework installed.

3) I went to Microsoft, got the latest v4 of .NET (client side), and installed it.

3) The Dell Touchpad control now functions and I was able to disable tap-to-click easily.

The addition of the 'Dell Touchpad' tab after installing the Dell update and .NET:

04 August, 2011

Thunderbird Tip - F and B Keys for True Forward and Backward

    Thunderbird, for some reason I don't understand, has no implementation of true Forward and Backward buttons.  The buttons they have only go to the next or previous UNREAD messages.  There are few to no add-on buttons for that either, for the current v5.0 version of Thunderbird.

    Instead of dealing with shoe-horning a v3 version of buttons into v5, I simply use the F (for forward) and B (for backward) buttons, while reading messages.  This works great and keeps the desktop clutter, and multiple clickings, to a minimum.

13 July, 2011

Amazon - 5 GB of free Cloud Space to Registered Users

    Browsing on Amazon this morning I noticed they now offer 5 GB of free cloud storage space to their registered users.  Kind of neat.  Although its scarcely larger than my smallest USB flash drive, it's...free.  It's probably not a bad option for storing important files, in an encrypted container (see my 'TrueCrypt' posts elsewhere on this blog), just as a backup.

12 July, 2011

LogMeIn - Free VPN for Non-Commercial Use

https://secure.logmein.com/ offers a free VPN solution where one can set up one’s own virtual networks.  This means one can link devices, on the Internet, as if they are on the same LAN.

LogMeIn allows one to invite others, to the VPN, and have those connections expire after a certain amount of time, or remain permanent (until kicked off or the VPN is taken down).

For gaming, this means games like ‘Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2’ should be able to see LAN servers, on the same VPN, as if they were on the same network.  This should allow players to bypass GameSpy and connect via the old fashioned LAN server option, in -game, just like was possible in older games (where one could type-in the IP address of the game server).

It is worth checking this out.

[Thanks to Marc C. for pointing this out!]

06 July, 2011

MozBackup - A Free tool to backup and restore your Firefox and Thunderbird settings

    I recently decided to use Thunderbird, on multiple PC's, in IMAP mode (versus POP).  To facilitate the ease of duplicating my Thunderbird and Firefox set up's, on multiple PC's, I backed up the settings, using MozBackup (http://mozbackup.jasnapaka.com/), and then restored the settings to the other PC's.

    Note you can simply use this tool to back up your settings, in case of an emergency.  I back mine up to an external drive, for the day when (not "if") my hard drive crashes.

    Make sure you are running the same versions of Thunderbird and Firefox on each PC to ensure compatibility among your instances.

UPDATE (2011/08/05): I have successfully used MozBackup across Thunderbird and Firefox versions, and it works great. At least as of Thunderbird 5 and Firefox 5, MozBackup works fine going back to at least version 3 of each of the two applications.

04 May, 2011

Premature Epiphany

I'm coining a new term: Premature Epiphany

Example #1: When you realize where to find a data element, in a database table, to use in a query, only to realize, after testing, that the information is not what you seek, and that you had thought it would be useful due to the lack of a related data dictionary entry for the field.

Example #2: The moment it occurs to you that you can limit the number of TMZ episodes to keep, on the DVR, due to someone in your house having added it with the 'Unlimited' option, only to later realize you could simply have deleted the show's entry instead, because no one really ever wanted it anyway.

30 April, 2011

Automobile Upholstery Decorator

When I was a kid, before anyone had ever heard of a "DC Power Outlet", we still had great gadgets with which to occupy our time, while waiting for Mom to emerge from the liquor store with a carton of Salem Lights.

Cleaning the garage today, I found such a toy. I remember my Mom's excitement when I fashioned a Micky Mouse head and an Olympic symbol on the back seat of her '65 Mustang. She taught me some new adjectives that day, and if you'd known my mom, you would know how impressive that really was.

14 April, 2011

Now Retired Blog Header

Often waxing techno-sophical, he dreams someone might stumble across his words, engendering a one-way feed from his mind to theirs, a mild viral form of e-progeny. In reality, few will visit, and those who do will not do so again. At least he can imagine he'll leave a legacy. The aliens that some day discover Google's ancient, crystal storage units will, upon rubbing their eyes in exhaustion, skip it.

02 April, 2011

Running Multiple Versions of Firefox on one PC

I decided that I wanted to update to Firefox 4 and yet also not yet have to upgrade my RoboForm (see prior posting) password/identity manager. Thus, I needed a means by which to run multiple versions of Firefox on the same PC.

I accomplished this by creating a new Firefox profile (called Dan_v3.6x), and then re-installing Firefox 3.6, in a separate folder, creating a shortcut, to the 3.6 executable, and adding an argument, after the shortcut's target location, to use the 3.6 profile when running the 3.6 executable.

I can now run both Firefox 4 and Firefox 3.6 on the same PC. The catch is that only one version can be running simultaneously, but it works great. [Note that if one tries to launch the other version, while one version is still running, the system will simply launch another window of the same version.]

So now, when I absolutely need my RoboForm information, it's there, but when I want the Firefox 4 experience, I can have that too.


  • Create a new Firefox profile
  • Run the Firefox Profiler Manager via the command prompt (or via creating a shortcut) as follows:
"C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" -Profilemanager
  • Install Firefox 3.6 into a custom folder via the 'Custom' installation option. I suggest the following:
C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox _3.6x
  • Create a shortcut to Firefox 3.6. exactly as follows, including quotes:
"C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox _3.6x\firefox.exe" -P "Dan_v3.6x"
The key to the above steps to work is that one needs to create a new profile, in Firefox 4, prior to installing the older version.

Downloading Older Firefox Versions:

To download Firefox 3.6 or other older Firefox versions, go here:

http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/nightly/ .

Jump to


for the Win32 version if you're a Windows 32-bit user.

28 March, 2011

RoboForm v7 Supports Firefox 4 - Upgrade Options for v6 Users

    Long time readers of this blog know of my affinity for RoboForm, the password and identify tool.  [Yes, I still have no official or monetary connection to RoboForm, so this posting is NOT an ad].

    I recently upgraded to Firefox 4, and to my dismay, realized that my RoboForm toolbar no longer functions within Firefox.  Per RoboForm's site, version 6.x will not support Firefox 4, and one must upgrade to RoboForm v7 in order to get Firefox 4 to work with RoboForm.

    And thus the age-old dilemma.  Should I revert to Firefox 3.6x?  Should I revert to using Internet Explorer as my default browser (in which RoboForm v6 still works fine)?  Should I buy the updated RoboForm?  [And no, Neither Safari nor Chrome offer enough RoboForm compatibility to be viable options; the RoboForm bookmark applet is not robust enough for my needs.]

    Being a supporter of RoboForm, I think I will choose the upgrade route.  Look for updates to this posting as I pursue this.

    To help get you started, I provide the 'Upgrade from v6 to v7' link, as follows:  https://secure.roboform.com/php/pums/pums_usrlogfrm_upgrade.php

24 March, 2011

HTC Incredible Gets "Application data space is low. To free space 1. go to Mail..." Error in GMail App

Apparently I had been lucky in not getting this error prior to tonight.  Other HTC Incredible users tend to get it more often.

Google seems aware of the issue but no direct fix appears to be forthcoming, so here is a work-around that should get you through for some time:


On the phone, navigate to Settings > Applications > Running Applications and look for "com.htc.socialnetwork.provider".  Clear the data.  Your Gmail should start syncing immediately.  If not, perform a manual sync.

Your messages should start flowing again.

My Favorite Android Apps - March, 2011

    As promised, here are some of my favorite Android apps.  Anywhere you see a semi-colon, below, is where I typed comments after the app.

    I generated the app list with aTrackDog (listed below) and emailed it to myself from my phone.

    Download FULL VERSIONS of most Android apps from http://download.pandaapp.com/?app=soft&controller=android , and then simply install them using ASTRO.  Pandaapp is a great resource for finding applications not available in the Android Market.  As always, support the software developers by buying what you find useful.  Apps are not really expensive, and if they are worth something to you, support the team that created them.

    For your first app, download LookOut, the best anti-virus app for the droid!

- Dan Reams, March 2011


aTrackDog,3.17,com.a0soft.gphone.aTrackDog; Use this to keep all apps updated.  Note it also generated this list (which I then edited).  Now being on my second Android phone, I cannot emphasize how handy having an app list available to reference, to more quickly get my new phone full of my favorite apps.

AIM,,com.aol.mobile.aim; AOL Instant Messenger

ASTRO,2.5.2,com.metago.astro; The best file manager, in my opinion.

Adobe Flash Player 10.1,,com.adobe.flashplayer

Advanced SD Card Manager,1.0,com.arron.sdCardManager

Advanced Task Killer Froyo,1.0.6 beta,com.rechild.advancedtaskkillerfroyo; Gotta get this one.  Kill those pesky apps that won't seem to shut down.

Air Control Lite,2.03,dk.logisoft.aircontrol; My favorite Droid game of all time.

Air Horn,1.55,com.foncannoninc.airhorn

Angry Birds,,com.rovio.angrybirds; Of COURSE.

AppWall,1.1,com.appdream.appwallfree; A cool way to see and get to all your apps with just one click.

Apps Organizer,1.5.15,com.google.code.appsorganizer; I keep loving this.  Lets one create icon groups and saves tons of desktop space.


Best Buy,2.9.1,com.bestbuy.android; Sure, it's commercial, but its QR code reader directly ties into Best Buy's product information database.  It hooked me enough that I actually use it, in Best Buy, to pull up additional product information.  Sure, I still use a standard barcode reader to find the best PRICE, but for product information this is handy.

Better Cut,2.0,com.betterandroid.bettercut; Easier shortcut creation


Bump,1.3.2,com.bumptech.bumpga; bump your contacts with others.

Cartman,1.0.1,com.mandroid.cartman; The legendary Mr. Eric Cartman.



Data counter widget,1.1.10,com.roysolberg.android.datacounter; Counts data throughput on your phone.  Even though I have an unlimited data plan, this is interesting.  For those
charged by the byte, this is a great tool.
DoggCatcher,1.1.1034,com.snoggdoggler.android.applications.doggcatcher.v1_0; I subscribe to podcasts and listen to them via this tool.  It remembers one's position in an audio
file between sessions.  I suggest downloading audio files only via WiFi, at home, and then taking them on the road.  Downloads go much faster that way.
EasySleep Sound Machine,1.3.1,com.siano.SoundMachine; We use this whenever we sleep over somewhere.

FaceIT,1.9,com.icubicles.cekup.FaceIt/ Funny novelty.  Hold it up to your mouth and speak like a vampire, etc.

Foursquare,2011-02-14,com.joelapenna.foursquared; My #1 check-in app.

Glympse,1.26,com.glympse.android.glympse; One of my favorite apps of all time.  It lets you send a tracker, to friends, with an optional time expirations, so they can track you in
real time on a Google Map.  C'mon...totally cool.

Google Reader,0.8.0,com.google.android.apps.reader

Maverick,1.1.1,com.codesector.maverick.pro; GPS fun.  I admit I have only recently started playing with this one, but it states it supports offline maps.  I have had issues, with Google Navigation, where I lose network connectivity...and then am flying blind.  Offline maps would solve that and truly let me retire my stand-alone GPS.  I will update this list after I test further (2011-03-24).

MySpeed,1.1.0 beta,org.l6n.myspeed; GPS Fun

NFL Mobile,3.5,com.mobitv.client.nfl2010

Pandora,1.5.4,com.pandora.android; I have numerous music stations set up.  Like one ad an hour or something.  Wonderful.

Paper Toss,1.0.9,com.bfs.papertoss; 2nd favorite droid game


PinPoint,2.1.4,com.pinpoint; GPS Fun

RedEye Scanner,1.3,com.funpack.wallpaper


Restaurant Story,1.0.3,com.teamlava.restaurantstory

Roboform Bookmarklet Installer,1.1,roboformBookmarkletInstaller.android.com

SMS Backup,1.1.1,tv.studer.smssync; Automatically backs up all one's text messages to one's Google account and optionally in a 'Read' status (which I utilize).  Brilliant.

SMS Replier,SMSReplier 1.61a,com.jeff.wayne.dev; Auto-reply to text messages.

Scanner Radio,2.3,com.scannerradio; Scanner channels from all over the country.

Scroll Text,1.7,co.uk.almien.scrolltext; Scroll a message in various sizes.  I've used it to keep people away from my desk while on phone conferences.

Shazam,2.5.1-BB70131,com.shazam.android; A classic.  Hold it up to a playing song and it'll tell you the name and artist.



TalkaDroid,2.1,com.dominickjohn.talkadroid; Simple text-to-speech app.

Tank Hero,1.11,com.clapfootgames.tankhero

The Weather Channel,2.3.23,com.weather.Weather

The Sims 3,1.0.9,com.ea.sdk; Get this via Panda.

The Eye,1.17.11,com.venturecase.theeye


Timed Profiles,1.0.0,ayman.utils.timedprofiles; This is cool.  Set up schedules for your profiles to change.  For example, time it so your phone automatically switches to vibrate-
only when you walk into work, and for sounds to come back on when you leave for the day.
Titanium Backup,3.5.0 :: Added Dropbox support (donate), Added Japanese/Spanish/Greek/Norwegian/Polish, Fixed sync of custom labels to SD, Fixed live wallpaper reset on backup,
Minor GUI fixes ::,com.keramidas.TitaniumBackup; Back up all your apps.
Toss It,1.8.2 Tabs Support,com.boolbalabs.tossit.preview



Ultra Keyboard,5.4.1,com.binarybulge.android.apps.keyboard.full; My personal favorite keyboard replacement.  My fingers are more accurate with this one.


Ustream Broadcaster,1.0.2,tv.ustream.usclient


Where Am I?,1.0.3,com.whereami

White Noise Lite,3.5.3,com.tmsoft.whitenoise.lite

Wifi Analyzer,2.5.5,com.farproc.wifi.analyzer

Wireless Tether,2.0.6,android.tether; Gotta be routed for this.  Don't download it unless you are.

Yelp,2.6.2,com.yelp.android; A decent locator of things to do based on GPS location.


Zedge,2.1,net.zedge.android; My favorite app for getting free ringtones and themes.

02 March, 2011

The Legacy of Posting

As I consider each posting, each quip, on any site, I think to myself, that when
I am gone, my kids will have an unprecedented chance to peruse my words, as they
move through their adulthood. In the old days kids would only get such chances
if their parents were prolific writers in the physical realm. I then think to
myself, will they get a kick out of it? Will my words describe who I am? Will I
seem whiny? What I type will certainly illuminate.

Every posting might as well be a tattoo, and I must think as such, before
committing the needle.

I am who I am, but I hope I do not disappoint or embarrass.

Something to think about for anyone wishing to define their own legacy.

11 February, 2011

Enable Secure Facebook Browsing

Facebook recently enabled secure browsing, via https, but the feature has gone relatively unpublicized in this country.  Note that, if you do not turn this on, your account can be hacked relatively easily, via packet sniffers, especially when using non-secure connections (such as public libraries, coffee shops, restaurants).

Switching to secure browsing is easy and is a one-time thing.

1) Hunt down all your bookmarks, in your browser, and change Facebook to be https://www.facebook.com/ .

;; To change a bookmark, in most browsers, simply hover over it, right-click, and go to 'Properties'.

2) When logged into Facebook, go to Account|Account Settings|Account Aecurity.  Enable 'Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) whenever possible' and 'When a new computer or mobile device logs into this account' (Send me an email).

3) To be safe, change your Facebook password after performing the above steps.  Sure, you might have to change your phone's entry, your various PC's entries, your applicable home media servers' entries...but it's worth it.

- Dan Reams, February, 2011

Update: Check out http://www.simplehelp.net/2011/02/12/how-to-fix-the-secure-https-connection-flaw-in-facebook-after-visiting-an-unsecure-http-page/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+simplehelp+%28Simplehelp%29 for a note about how this setting can be reversed, if one visits a non-secure site, and how one then later has to re-enable this option. -d.r., 2011-02-13