Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

2/18/2014

PogoPlug Multimedia Sharing Device

Filed under: Apple,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:56 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I love this device!

Almost a year ago, I took a photography class from Syl Arena and he mentioned, in an off-hand comment, that he used a PogoPlug to access his files from home while on the road.  Now, I’d heard a little about the PogoPlug before that, but not much and with all the cloud storage services, like Dropbox, around, I didn’t really pay too much attention to it.  After hearing Syl go on at length about how easy it was to use, I read a little bit more about it.  I was suitably impressed, but just didn’t have the time or cash to really go ahead and follow through on a purchase.  Then, thanks to Gizmodo, I saw that Adorama had the entry-level PogoPlug on sale for $17.99, including free shipping.  The price has since gone up a dollar or two, but it’s still cheaper than full price and, let me tell you, completely worth it!

In brief, the PogoPlug is a network device that allows you to hook up USB-based drives to share on a network and the internet.  The device has six connections; one for power, one for the network cable, and four USB connections for storage.  I got mine hooked up in about five minutes.  Really, all you need to do is connect it to your network, attach storage to it and sign into your free my.pogoplug.com account to configure the device.  There’s an option once you sign in to check for new PogoPlug devices and, once yours is found, to configure the sharing services, if you want, or to upload files.  And, that’s pretty much all there is to the setup.  It really took me all of five minutes, and that was because I had forgotten to turn on the external USB hard drive enclosure I had attached to the PogoPlug.  Then, I just started uploading files.  And, the next day, to verify that I had done everything correctly, I signed in to the iPhone app while I was at the office and checked to make sure I could see my data remotely.  And, I could!  It really was just that easy!

I was even more excited when I discovered the slightly hidden ability to upload files directly to the PogoPlug without having to go through their webpage!  All I had to do was download and install the companion software which they offer for free.  They have both Android and iPhone clients as well as clients for Windows, Mac and Linux.  That downloadable software also let’s you do regular backups from any device you load it on to your PogoPlug, even over the internet!  Once installed, it makes your entire PogoPlug available to you as if it were a mapped drive with a drive letter and everything, just like any other network attached storage, except, of course, it will let you attach to that PogoPlug over the internet.  I’ve tried other things that claim they’ll let you have your own “personal cloud”, but they’ve all had problems when they bump up against the security I run on my network at home.  The PogoPlug, however, was even easier than advertised.  It was amazing!

There’s only one, small problem I’ve encountered with the PogoPlug and, really, it was only with the Android app.  I run a rooted Nook which I often use to read PDF files.  When I open PDF files through the Dropbox Android app, they launch right into Adobe’s PDF Reader without any issue.  But, when I try to do the same from the PogoPlug app on that rooted Nook, it gives me a message about downloading the file, but it never opens.  I hope that bug will be corrected in future versions of the app, but it’s a relatively minor issue, all things considered.

I really cannot say enough about how fantastic this device really is.  I haven’t tried just plugging in a regular USB thumb drive yet, or the outer limits on size, though I do have another USB drive enclosure and a 2 Terabyte drive that I’m itching to get hooked up.  Not to mention how deeply I want to dig into the software capabilities.  Also, I’m hoping I can get another cheap 2 Terabyte drive and figure out how to clone from one to the other to create a backup.
But, again, even if I can’t and I’ve seen all the possibilities of this device, it’s still awesome!
(And, yes, that link to Adorama which has sales information about the PogoPlug is an affiliate link, so I’ll make a little money of it if you buy it that way.)

9/10/2013

Against Digital Sharecropping

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Ooo, shiny...,Pressgram,Rotten Apples — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:16 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I like being free and independent.

I like the idea behind Instagram, but not the proprietary nature of it.
I don’t like giving up my rights to work I create.   Even when it’s just a little photo of a little moment captured with my iPhone.  I dislike, as Nicholas Carr called it on his blog, “digital sharecropping”. And, of course, now the ads have finally started on Instagram, solidifying my discomfort with it.  Why should I let them profit from even the smallest amount of my work without compensation?

Well, now, there’s a new program called Pressgram, that’s a free iPhone app, which allows an Instagram-like experience, but uploads the photos to my WordPress blog. You can upload them to your WordPress.com blog, or, as I do, to my self-hosted WordPress blog.  Word has it that there is an Android version in the works, too.  It’s a new app, so there are some on-going refinements, but it really is a great start, I think.

Obviously, I’ve been using it here and at my other site, JKHoffman.com, so I believe in it.  Yes, it took me a little fiddling to get the setting just the way I want and to sort out a couple other things, but, now that I have, I think this is going to work just fine.  I can already see the difference in my site stats!
Anyway, worth checking out if you’re leary of another ad-supported system that lets you share, but not much else.

8/9/2013

Simulated Camera

Filed under: Fun,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

What good is a virtual camera?

Funny you should ask.

So, my regular readers, both of you, know that I love photography.  But, at the same time, you’ll also notice that I haven’t been posting as many photos as I used to post.  There are a lot of reasons for that, but one, and the one I’m going to focus on today, is that I’m rusty.  Rusty in the sense that it’s been so long since I was shooting regularly that I’ve…
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2/22/2013

Two Random Blog Design Tools

Filed under: Fun Work,Ooo, shiny...,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:11 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Are there really any websites that aren’t essentially blogs?

Okay, I know there are, but, considering that some people estimate about 1 out of every 5 sites runs WordPress, it amounts to the same thing.
In any case, these two tools I’m about to share can actually be useful to any website design.

First, there’s the graphic “place-holder” generator, lorempixel.
Using their tool, you can find and download “place holder” images that are generic, in either color or b&w, and the size you need…
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2/15/2013

Color Scheme Designer

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,GUI Center,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:52 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I am not a designer.

This may be painfully evident from the look and feel of this website, which, I did not code myself.  It is a WordPress-based website which, at best, I have “themed” myself, but with lots of help from code “borrowed” via Google and other sources.  In fact, there are so many code sources it would be hard to link to them all or list them all or thank them all.  It’s the way of the web, I’m…
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6/15/2012

Mother of Invention

Filed under: Fiction,Fun,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:42 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

No, not a real mother.

Maybe, not even a real invention, either!
I think science-fiction has changed a lot.  I don’t mean that it’s different today than it was when I was a kid, though, I think that’s true, too.  No, what I mean is that the intrepid science-fiction authors who have entertained us for so many years have actually changed things with their stories.  One way I think they’ve changed things is via invention.  They’re constantly coming up with crazy, new, almost magical inventions for their stories.  Devices that do things we’d like to be able to do or at least do faster or easier.  Some of these are pretty Earth-shattering, like a personal communication device you can fit in your pocket, and are so incredible that they actually inspire someone to invent them, like the cell phone.  (Okay, yeah, there may not be a direct link between science-fiction and cell phones, but, you have to admit, it existed in sci-fi before we had it in our hand!)
Well, a little site called Technovelgy has put together a timeline of science-fiction inventions.

It’s fun and I think if you look at some of these things, you’ll recognize their modern equivalent.  But, maybe most interesting of all is the stuff that’s been talked about in science-fiction that doesn’t exist… Yet.  So, here’s your chance, you freshly graduated engineers and hopeful inventors, pick something from the list and make it come true!
But, for the rest of us, check out the list and day dream your Friday away.

2/10/2012

The Best 404 Pages

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun Work,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:02 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Not all 404 pages are created equal.

Most of us will never see a 404 page.  In fact, if things are going well on your website, 404 pages shouldn’t normally come up.  (For those of you not familiar a 404 page is the error page you get on a website when the page you’re looking for is missing or can’t be found.)  In the old days, 404 pages were pretty much blank, outside of the error message itself.  They were meant for developers to troubleshoot and debug their websites, really.  They were a kind of place-holder page and, at best, an irritant to the average internet browser.
But, as the web grew up and became more sophisticated, so have 404 pages.  On many sites, they’ve become a kind of “Easter egg“, offering a look at the wit and sense of humor of the site designers and programmers.  What was an annoyance has become a fun bit of art!

Clearly, not even all “fun” 404 pages are created equal, so here are the best 404 Pages according to Gizmodo, one of the premiere gadget and technology blogs.  My favorite is the one they feature first, which strikes me as especially funny, considering my frustrations with Match.com lately.  There are some really good ones there, some more fun and some more useful than others, but all worth another look.  And, even though I know these are Gizmodo’s favorites, there are plenty of good ones that haven’t been listed here.  If you have any, please, leave a link in the comments!

And, hey, why not go check out that gallery today?  It is, after all, Friday, and surely you’ve earned some slack time by now!

10/31/2011

The Worst Kind of Cross-Platform Porting

Filed under: Apple,Linux,News and Current Events,Rotten Apples,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:58 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Hackers are porting Linux viruses (virii ?) to OS X.

Last week Monday, ZDNet reported that hackers have ported code for a trojan from Linux to Apple’s OS X.  For those of my readers who don’t know what a trojan is I’m referring to a malicious program that opens the door for other, usually even worse, programs to come into the infected operating system, like the Greeks did in the classic stratagem known as the Trojan Horse.  It hasn’t been seen in the wild yet, but apparently the C source code for this has been available for quite some time.

Frankly, I’m surprised that this doesn’t happen more often than it does.  In the old days, virus writers had to really know something because they used assembly to create them.  Now, with Windows and all the other object-oriented programming languages filled with bloated libraries of programming calls, along with the availability of existing code on the internet, they hardly have to know anything to write fairly nasty malware.  And, as I’ve mentioned before, as Apple laptops become more popular, more malware will start to show up there.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they figure out how to infect iPads and iPhones, too, if they haven’t already.

I hate people like this.
I spent most of my day today cleaning a malware infection off a machine.  This little bugger had not only disabled the Windows Task Manager, which is pretty common these days, but it also cleaned out the Start Menu, including all the built-in things like the link to Control Panel and My Documents and all those things on the right side of the Windows XP default Start Menu.  But, it also flagged most of the drive as Hidden and System, making it even more difficult to load the software I used to clean it.  I had to go into Safe Mode just to get the system clean enough to restart into Safe Mode with Networking so I could update Malwarebytes, which is what I eventually used to get rid of the beastie.   (I used Spybot Search and Destroy to keep the malware from loading to make the machine useable with networking support so I could update Malwarebytes, incidentally.)
So, yeah, these slimeballs keep me in a job, but, really, I’d appreciate it if they stopped helping me stay employed.  I promise I can find plenty of other things to do!

So, look lively out there people!  Be suspicious of what you download and click on!

UPDATE:  Apparently, this has been found out in the wild now.  And, according to TechWorld, it has a purpose; to use your system to generate BitCoins for it’s evil masters.  Very clever.  Nasty, but, still, very clever.

10/24/2011

Light Field Camera

Filed under: Art,Fun Work,News and Current Events,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:31 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Well, this is interesting…

Some time ago, I read about a revolutionary new idea in cameras; focusing after taking the photograph.
Having had autofocus occasionally grab the wrong thing in a photo, this idea intrigued me.  The idea that a camera could simply capture all the available light, store it in a photographic format, and let you choose later where you wanted to focus seemed, frankly, like an impossibility.  It seemed like science-fiction.  Well, apparently, the future is now, because this camera…
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8/26/2011

Muse – Free Web Publishing Software

Filed under: Art,Fun,GUI Center,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I love free!

So, most everyone in my business has heard of Adobe.  Mainly because they’re the top design and graphics software publisher in business right now.  Well, they’ve released a FREE program called Muse that lets you layout and publish webpages without having to write code.  Now, myself, personally, I’m okay writing the HTML code behind simple webpages, but, frankly, it’s a lot faster to do it in a nice graphical user interface that’s filled with point-and-click tools.  Also, since this comes from Adobe, you know that they’re going to have a great interface and make it easy to use for the novice.  Not sure how the output is, but, frankly, for most users, as long as the page looks nice when they’re done, the code behind it doesn’t really matter.

The program itself runs on their Adobe AIR platform, which means it’s pretty lightweight and fast.  You can read about all the features on the Muse website.
Oh, and while this is free right now, it will, eventually, be for sale in 2012, when they’ll be charging by the month for it.  So, you’d better get this while you can!

Hey, free, creative software just in time for the weekend, how can you beat that?
Well, enjoy your Friday, in any case.

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