Archive for the ‘Internet & Networking’ Category

Any Friend of Apache, is a Friend of Mine!

Posted on January 30th, 2008 in Apple, Internet & Networking, Linux/Unix, Windows | No Comments »

I’ll gladly concede that backend web server technology is about as sexy as a 1980s’ Volvo 240GL. But having said that, the good folks at Apache friends are making a hot rod out of these mundane, but critical applications.

The XAMPP project is an easy to install and configure bundle containing the Apache web server, MySQL, PHP and Perl. The emphasis here is on EASY! If that does not sound appealing, then you have not experienced the full pain of trying to deploy these services individually. XAMPP eliminates these wows with an all inclusive package for Linux, Mac, Windows and Solaris. Oh, and did I forget to mention you get all this for free.

Recently I deployed the Linux package onto a Ubuntu 7.10 server in my office. The process was painless, and I was able to deliver web services to my designer in less then 30 minutes.

So next time you are setting up a web server do yourself a favor – install XAMPP!

Long live Old people and their Email

Posted on November 19th, 2007 in Internet & Networking, Tech & Science | No Comments »

Recently it has been reported that Email is just a relic soon to be replaced by Facebook and other social networks. Proponents of this viewpoint go on to argue that only older people – like over 20 – use email.


Good Lord, I can’t believe I’m about to defend email but here goes… As broken, SPAM infested, and exploitable email is, it’s still the foundation of communications on the internet. Maybe I’m just one of these “old People” who just doesn’t get the social networking obsession, but as a 20 year IT vet who uses IM communications on a daily basis for work, I just don’t see it supplanting email; and don’t even get me starting about how ridiculous it is to think of MySpace as a professional communications platform.

It’s all about the iGoopple baby!

Posted on November 15th, 2007 in Apple, Business & Industry, Internet & Networking | No Comments »

Psst! hey buddy I have a hot stock pick for yea… Warning: All of my investing advice should be consumed with a grain of salt. In the spirit of full disclosure; I discovered just how bad a day trader I am during the last tech bubble of 2000! But, seeing we are now peaking in the Bubble 2.0 era, it seams an appropriate time for me to dust off my stock prognostication skills and post about two of the most influential tech issues out there.

Apple and Google – In a Class of their own

Some tech companies are all about the hype, while others actually deliver on the goods, but rarely do you find established players that are both profitable while simultaneously maintaining that meteoric level of excitement present in a pre-IPO startup; and then there’s Google and Apple. Titans of tech both command legions of devoted customers, soaring share prices and massive media attention. But is their stock worth it today? Is there still room for growth?

Fundamentals Don’t Matter

While many business analysts and fund managers are quick to cite trends and backup their stock ratings with statistics like earnings per share, Cash reserves, or the state of a company’s management team, in the case of both Apple and Google these hard facts don’t seam to matter.

The usual barometers for company health and stock value can not measure these firms. While some might argue this is just a symptom of the new tech bubble, Apple and Google are so compelling, their momentum is virtually unstoppable. Let’s look a little deeper at each company and try to uncover why this is.

Google – It’s about the Ads stupid!

The key thing to understand about Google is that they’re an advertisement firm. Nope, not a search engine or social network or widget provider or even soon to be a mobile phone OS, Google is the new ad medium of our time – and it’s only going to grow.

Google Ad sense is already the most profitable aspect of the company, and while search made them famous, ads are paying the bills. Look for this to continue especially as Google branches into new ventures and platforms like the Open Social and Gphone OS spec. With a billion plus potential people to target – and I do mean target – the sky, and share price, are the limit.

Potential pitfalls do exist though. Foreign government’s demands to block access or hand over results as a provision of doing business in their country (think China) have created industry watcher and human rights concerns, even some loyal fan base outrage. Privacy, however, is an even greater source of discord. As users freely disclose marketing and demographic data that Google and its partners are using to targeting products and services at users with precision accuracy, privacy advocates warn that too much personal information is being amassed.

While these concerns are only likely to grow given Google’s pervasive plans, end-users simply enjoy Google’s offerings too much to give them up. Combine end users insatiable appetite for convenience with the virtual ubiquity of Google’s services – and therefore ad placement opportunities – and you have a formula for continued success. Looks like the stock is still a bargain at $1000 per share!

Apple Uber Allies

If there is one lesson that can be learned from both the Jonestown massacre and Apple’s stock performance as of late; the cult of personality is alive and well. Now I’m not saying that Steve Jobs is a charismatic, magnetic, tyrannical cult leader… then again, let me get back to you on that. Regardless of whether you want to attribute Apple’s success to its vivacious leader, there’s no question that Job’s return to Apple has ushered in a new era of profitability and market share expansion.

Apple is unquestionably the most over hyped and over covered tech company out there. Despite all the ink that has been spilled chronicling Apple’s greatness and the zealous fan base, even this non-Apple user has to admit; Apple is really firing on all cylinders and its stock is only going to climb. This growth is going to be driven by continued dominance of the iPod/iTunes ecosystem, strong computer sales (as Microsoft Vista falters), and the long term impact of Apple’s entry into the wireless space, ala the iPhone.

So when analyzing Apple the bottom line is: despite the excessive hype surrounding their products, software and dynamic CEO, Apple is still an issue to buy and hold.

Mobiles are the Future

Both Google and Apple are focused on the future, and the future is phones. Apple has already made a tidy chunk of change this year with the iPhone, and relatively speaking this is just the tip of the iceberg. While Google’s Android platform will not be ramping up till mid 2008, the search and ad giant is not about to surrender the mobile market to Apple, Microsoft or Palm.

Not only do mobiles represent new revenue streams for Apple and Google, but they usher in the next battlefield for consumer minds and pocketbooks. The companies that dominate the coming generation of highly integrated mobile voice/messaging/computing devices will undoubtedly see dramatic profits and stock appreciation. Google and Apple both know this and have set in motion strategies to capture this market, this anticipated growth and Apple/Google’s positioning for it is one of the most compelling reasons to own both companies.

Forget the Hype, Buy Apple and Google

It’s hard to find two companies that have greater visibility that Google and Apple. They are part of our daily lives, covered exhaustively and considered over valued by many. Despite what the detractors have to say, these issues are must haves for any tech portfolio. Heck the only thing that would make them more attractive is a merger. What would we call them? iGoopple?

Free Internet WiFi – Coming to an airport near you?

Posted on October 10th, 2007 in Business & Industry, Internet & Networking | No Comments »

So I admit it, I’m embracing a socialistic entitlement attitude, at least about my expectation for free WiFi in Airport terminals!


The Internet, specifically delivered wirelessly, has transcended from a luxury – “Nice to Have” – amenity in our nations airports, its a must have business commodity. And the time has come for it to be available in a uniform manor: free of charge, everywhere!


Portland, Oregon – PDX, for those of you fluent in “Airportiees” (language of the frequent fliers) – has done it right; great access, easy to use and best of all free. I find myself writing this entry from the Alaska Airlines terminal at PDX today, after checking email, Skyping co-workers, downloading the latest podcasts, etc. I think I make my point; computing is a connected experience these days, and with the magnitude of people killing time on their mobile devices while waiting for flights, the need for Internet access has never been greater.


But why does it have to be free? It actually has less to do with the cost and more to do with ease of use. As one who might find himself in three or more different airports each week, I have no idea what provider will be servicing the next hub at which I land. And I’m just not going to manage multiple accounts from the likes of Verizon/T-Mobile/Waypoint and the many others that you might encounter at airports. The other option is to sign up for an hour or day of access, but then I’m forced to fill out a bunch of customer information, not to mention enter my credit card over a wireless, unencrypted connection… not good!


Just Tax me already!


Yes you heard me right, if the argument against airports deploying free public WiFi networks is cost, go ahead and charge for it – but in the form of a small per ticket tax. No one is going to get worked up about buck or two per ticket fee to cover this. Many airports already pass on terminal expansion costs in in this manor. Airlines would collect the surcharge and administer it’s payment to the individual airports. Modest fee, uniform access – ah, life is good.



Don’t know if my idea has a snowballs chance in hell, but there are several airports already taking the lead in this matter. Here is a list I was able to find with airports around the world offering free WiFi.


So if you are lucky enough to have free WiFi at your airport, I suggest you enjoy Degen.Net from it, and tell a friend about the hotspot. In the meantime the rest of us will continue to suffer and look forward to finding a free access point.

You don’t have Skype yet?

Posted on September 14th, 2007 in Apple, Internet & Networking, Linux/Unix, Windows | No Comments »

I’ve had an epiphany; not everyone on the internet uses Skype yet, and some of these people are even in my family! If you are now shaking your head in disgust; you feel me, there is no need for you to keep reading. If on the other hand you don’t know of this “Skype” I speak of? Read on – your diligence will be rewarded.

Every now and then a program comes along the so redefines or expands how we use computers that it is termed a Killer App. WordStar and VisiCalc where some of the first such, defining and practically inventing the word processing and spreadsheet markets. In the 80s’ PageMaker, Photoshop and Illustrator did it for desktop publishing. More recently, Mosaic (and its predecessors Netscape, Internet Explorer and Firefox) redefined the way we think of the Internet.

Simply put, Skype is the “Killer App” of today’s internet. For its millions of current users, Skype is an indispensable part of daily life. What does it do? In addition to being a really good text IM client, Skype delivers excellent quality voice/video chat, and it does it for free. Computer to computer calls feature gorgeous clarity with support for up to 10 callers. Solid multi platform support, in addition to the Windows version, the Mac and Linux versions interoperate seamlessly – so no one is left out based on their OS. And for mere pennies a minute you can dial out from your computer to international phones. In fact you can buy a year of unlimited computer to domestic telephone service for a flat $30 – And you thought services like Vonage were a deal!

In addition to superb call quality and free or very discounted phone service, its one of the best VoIP (Voice over IP – or the whole idea of talking over the internet) clients I’ve ever used, due to tight integration with Programs like Outlook, IE and Firefox.

So what are you waiting for, go download it free now – I’m waiting to hear from you.

Dr. Strangenet or: “How I learned to stop fearing life without Persistent Ubiquitous IP Connections?”

Posted on August 16th, 2007 in Internet & Networking | No Comments »

Come young ones, gather around the tribal elder and he will tell us of a dark, unenlightened age. I time when futility ruled the earth, and vast expanses separated people who could not instantaneously share thoughts, ideas or youtube videos to complete strangers – dark days indeed! Now before you conclude that I speak of some distant era like the 1980’s (insert extra sarcasm here), I’m actually talking about yesterday. No really – Yesterday!

For those readers who might not know, I travel pretty much weekly out to many different client locations. When I walk in the door each customer is like a new come out roll of the dice at the craps table, you never know if you’re going to “win” with good unfettered internet access or crap-out before the roll even starts.

Last week, a typical scenario played out in my line of work: a new customer installation of our corporate product. Very standard, should have been a very simple couple of days work. Ah but the dice don’t always fall in your favor, for the site I was to configure was completely offline. No internal network, no network infrastructure (DHCP, DNS, etc.), and worst of all no Internet.

My trembling hands recoiled in horror as the “Server not found” message in my browser hit me like an ice cold roll of snake eyes on far end of the green felt table. But collecting myself I knew not all was lost, I’m an IT professional, surely I can conduct my businesses without the internet. After all, everyone knows the internet is just for Bittorrenting music and viewing porn right?

So first I needed to apply patches to both the OS and Applications… oh, well guess not. Next I discovered I could not register/license the commercial software just installed, as there was no internet – now this was starting to get ridiculous! Also on the no can do list, Corporate Email, IMs to co-workers, my hosted CRM system – Holy crap, you can’t do anything without the net!

What was truly disturbing about this experience is the way it demonstrates how very dependent modern OSes and Applications have become on an ever present internet connection. Not only does it become inconvenient/impossible to complete an install, but you have to wonder just how much background conversation is going on between your system and software manufactures’. If you are not worried about the privacy issues, consider the possibility of maliware or viral infection!

So what was life like back before we had all these IM client’s, myspace pages, blogs and RSS feeds filling our screens and minds with information? No, no, don’t worry, I’m not going to make some argument for technological regression, some new Luddite movement, but I can remember sitting at a computer working free from these online distractions and one word comes to mind; Focused.

See “back in the day”, our computers could not manage multiple simultaneous programs. Forget about multi-core, multi-threaded environments, you did things linearly – word-processing or connecting to a BBS on your modem or playing a game, you did not do all these things at once. Both your PC and your mind where “focused” on a single task at any given time, when you completed that task, project or diversion you moved on to the next thing.

Alas, times change. And with our new faster computers and increasingly sophisticated software came the connection that would enable ADHD to spread like wildfire throughout society – The Internet. Which brings me back to the original question – how did we live before having an always on Net connect?

If you have pre-internet memories I’d love to here them – post away!


Posted on August 11th, 2007 in Internet & Networking | No Comments »



Every once in a while Companies insist on reinventing ideas that – where bad back then, and are still bad today. An example of this might seen in current fashion trends, take bell bottoms, bad in the 70’s, still bad today. But fashion designers just cant resist the easy draw of “re-inventing” the same tired old packaging and re-branding it as new, innovative and trendy. And there is always another generation of mindless lemmings who are too narcissistic to acknowledge that they might not actually be the first ones on the planet to every have tried this before, who eat it all up.

Now as if this phenomenon is not dreadful enough with regard to the fashion industry, it is now invading mainstream internet content providers – Today’s case in point Yahoo. The other day I was browsing the web and saw this new section of yahoo “OMG.” Thinking that this could not possibly be as tacky as it turned out to be, I followed the link. OMG is right, why don’t we just call it what it is: Yahoo:OMG – The Trash Tabloid Online.

If you have missed this spectacle of wrongness, you have not missed much – its just pitiful to see this kind of format, copied from print, being adapted to a mainline web site like yahoo!

Google: The Borg of our Time

Posted on July 16th, 2007 in Business & Industry, Internet & Networking | No Comments »


Google 9000

From the “Resistance is Futile” department comes today post:

Not only has Google assimilated every web technology in the world, but they are now colluding with Dr. Evil to incite digital mayhem and take over the world! *Cue sinister music*

Ok maybe that’s a bit extreme, but the company’s motto of “Do no evil” seams to be harder to justify these days as they run around gobbling up web firms left and right. Splashing around money like crazy, it is obvious that they have well over “One Millllioon Dollars!” But it’s not just the act of acquisition that is raising eyebrows, but rather concerns about what the sum of the parts will enable Google to become and do!

How can this be “Evil?”

Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome synergies among the new Google acquired applications that enhance existing functionality, or are logical new extensions for the search company. But at what point does all this ease of use and integration cross the line from handy tools, to just plain scary?

For starters, consider the issue of Google’s eternal cache of searches; every search, you’ve ever made, chronicled for all time! (And remember, when you are logged in it’s tied back to your Google account.) All searches, from queries for illegal movie downloads to online lingerie outlets, to Craig’s list searches, to blogs about nymphomaniac kitten lovers… oh well I think your starting to get the picture, all archived and organized for future reference, embarrassment or potential litigation. What? Your still reading? I figured you would have shut your Gmail account by now and have switched to a real dog of a search site like Lycos or something.

The World is not Enough

A few years ago, a friend of mine got all hooked on the Google Earth. From the comfort of his office he would spend hours jaunting wildly around the world zooming down with voyeuristic interest on the houses, buildings and parks below. Little did any of us realize just how intimate Google cartography was yet to become.

Consider the Google Mapping product “Street View”. If you are unfamiliar with Street View, it’s an enhancement to the base Google Maps offering that allows you to see actual photographic detail of cities that have been “recorded.” While certainly a technological accomplishment, what are the social and personal implications of this technology? If you were walking out to the mail box when the Google imaging mobile happened by – Congratulations, you are now part of the permanent record of Google. Oh don’t feel bad, many are being assimilated like this daily!

All your Data is Ours

My boss came up to me the other day and asked “What do you think of all these online Google productivity apps?” Wow, now my boss is no technological neophyte, but I was impressed at the pervasiveness of Google’s relatively new Spreadsheet and Docs online apps, so much so, that a longtime Microsoft shop like ours would consider switching away from the venerable MS Office Suite.

And we are not alone! Many others are evaluating and some are even in the process of converting to Google Online apps. I’m not knocking the functionality of Google Docs and Spreadsheet, they work fine; heck, well enough that we are considering migrating to them. Rather, I question the wisdom of turning your content/files over to an orginazation whose stated goal it the indexing of all content on the Web, perhaps on Earth!

I know this has been a rather weighty post, and I’m sure there are some great arguments for and against the juggernaut that is Google. But if history has shown us anything, it’s that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and if that axiom holds true what terrors will the keeper of “Absolute Data” be able to unleash upon us?

VMware Converter – How sweet it is!

Posted on June 12th, 2007 in Internet & Networking, Linux/Unix, Windows | No Comments »

As most of you have heard me pontificate about to no end; Virtualization is here and is changing the IT landscape. And if the reasons for migrating to a virtualized environment were not compelling enough on there own merits, the good people at VMware have made the move even easer with the windows based Converter product.

Converter, yet another free offering from VMware, is simply put – amazing software. After you load the small (about 20M) app on your windows system you answer a few wizard like questions, specify a disk target and let’er rip. Converter then turns your live physical system into a ready to go VM package. Did I mention it does this LIVE, to any Win XP, 2000 or 2003 system!

In fact the blog your reading right now is hosted on a “converted” VM. In my case the Windows web server the blog was hosted on, a Pentium III 733, was getting a bit long in the tooth, I loaded the converter and after about an hour of processing the system was moved over to a Linux VMware host.

If you are an existing VMware user checkout, and if this whole VMware thing is a mystery to you – go download your free copy of VM today (Http://, it will change the way you think about computing.

“I’m givin’er all she’s got Captain”

Posted on May 30th, 2007 in Internet & Networking, Windows | No Comments »

It seams no matter how fast things get in this zany PC computing world, they just aren’t fast enough! As soon as you get one bottleneck eliminated another one pops up.  Such has been my life the last few days.

Some back story – if you are a regular reader, you know I have been working with Vista Media Center as a potential solution for my trusty Direct TV Tivo.  Ironically while working to replace my old Hughes DVR2, I picked up a second one and quickly hacked it up to 100+ hours of recording; I know, I must really have some issues, but I digress. At any rate, my efforts thus far to supplant the Tivo with a new HiDef capable device have lead me down a very rocky path.

As I blaze a trail to this promise land of HD goodness, I’m reminded yet again of the woeful inadequacies of PC architectures.  See to enjoy that glorious 1080p image I need to move lots of data to the flat screen; and standing in the way between those digital bits and a CSI autopsy so clear that you have to wince, is a cadre of cruel components.

While most of these are pretty easy to remedy – More RAM, Faster CPU, etc – one remains for me to beat my head against: I/O. See for successful 1080 playback you are looking at some serious data transfer, and whether it’s streaming form the local Hard Drive or across the net, it’s proving to be a serious challenge. Alas, I/O performance has set itself up like a massively walled city, constricting the poor plebs passage to and fro through a small constricted city gate.

But since I’m not content to take the simple route, slap a blistering RAID 0 in the local Media Center – heck, where’s the fun in that – I’m presently scratching my noggin whilst endeavoring to move this HD content over the network from my home server. Attempting to move this data via WiFi, would be ridiculous!  This makes me wonder what so many device manufactures are thinking about, integrating wireless into solutions like the Apple TV or the SMC SMCWMR-AG, to cite a couple.

Presently I’ve hardwired the Media Center box on a 100Mbit switched port to my Gigabit connected file server, and am still experiencing stuttering with 1080 content.  Seams I can play 720 with reasonable success, but the added burden of 1080 is just too much. And considering the MC platform is running on a Pentium D 2.8 with an Nvidia PCIe 7300 card, it’s hard to imagine that it does not have the processor power to decode and play the images.

Further testing in this matter is required. But while I do that, check out a great source of Vista MCE info I have found  The Green Button. Nice forums with a strong hacking community, if you are working on a Media Center implementation I highly recommend them.