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Moo0 ConnectionWatcher

connectionwatcher.gif Most of the more advanced users know that Windows can do a netstat command just like on linux. And this provides you with all the connections currently on your system. This allows you to take a look at what applications might be accessing what ports and from what IP addresses. ConnectionWatcher does the same, except it takes that data and puts it in a nice neat little GUI so you don’t have to scroll around in a commandline window.
It’s a great little tool for those that aren’t familiar with commandline or just don’t want to deal with it. Another thing that’s beautiful about this, is that not only does it look at incoming and outgoing, but it actually marks what application is creating the network streams that are going out. That gives you a really easy way to review if you’ve been compromised and if a process shuts down cleanly or if it just waits for a timeout or what. This even works with Vista now!
A more in-depth look at ConnectionWatcher at freewarejunkie.

Netflix should setup streaming subtitled content

Netflix, Inc. So far, I’ve not only had a Netflix for over four years now but I’ve also purchased one of the Roku players and often watch the streaming movies.
While this is great and all, there is one thing that the interface doesn’t allow and that’s the selection of different languages and subtitles. And that’s a huge pain. This is because, the current version of instant view actually only streams the English content with no subs. But there are a lot of anime selections along with foreign movies that are available on the set-top box. But you can’t access the correct choices that you would be able to from a DVD and whether or not the masters of the movies there can be made with subs and different languages is definitely one of the draw-backs.
I don’t see why not, having actually been able to locally stream a DVD audio and video tracks over a network through VLC, and being as such, I don’t see why Netflix couldn’t do the same.
While this is but an infant when it comes to free services, I have to say that I’m hoping that they’ve heard my plea and have already begun work on more content for streaming and more availability to how we watch the movies. I’m happy for now, but hear my plea! Subtitles and different languages, please!

GiftGirl working on the clueless guys of the world

giftgirl.jpg I have to say that when I saw this website go up a while back, I really didn’t have any inkling of want to actually review it. It wasn’t until after yesterday, a buddy of mine asked me to take a look at it after he looked was doing a little searching himself for his 19th anniversary (happy anniversary, man!)
I have to say that from the get-go, while I understood what the site was trying to do, I didn’t like the absolute boundaries that it carried as far as understanding “women” in general. The site itself was more earmarked for a certain type of personality type and women that happened to like spa treatments, clothes, shoes, bags, and expensive jewelry. Maybe it’s just me but I can’t think of anyone that would pay $200USD for a consultation on gift giving. But maybe there’s a market out there, since the team there said that consultants charge even more than that. Just surprised after all, since middle class working people don’t tend to drop $200 for a consultation. That’s more like an expensive gift.
But again, I digress. The site itself was targeting the clueless men in the world that don’t know what to get their special someone. Knowing many of these guys, I would say that there’s something definitely here as far as a business model and even a target audience, but I think it’s missing the mark as I pointed out time and again with Mike Pratt, whom I believe is the CTO of the the corporation. Pretty interesting conversation and definitely good to see where they’re going with the product and why. I wrote a lot more in the comment thread there, so definitely read it for full value since regurgitating it here would just be wasteful. And hopefully some of the suggestions that I gave helped.
I did find him going on the defensive even though everything TD said was pretty much on the mark too. How people find sarcasm in text is beyond me, especially if they only read one single post and commentary. Text is a blunt instrument. No offense there, Mike. Just pointing out what I saw in the whole thing.
Mike was actually extremely cordial with myself though, and answered all of my questions although I’m hesitant to say that he understands why I told him to simplify the interface even further if it’s for men and why I thought the gifts needed a lot more diversification (I just found that the gifts, while nice, were kind of aimed directly at the same type of girls in “Sex in the City”). That was my entire issue with the site. It seemed to target one single personality type that fit the all of the presets and ran with a totally different crowd.
This particular niche is definitely a ginormous help with many men. Truthfully, I really think that there’s more to it and if you have troubles buying your woman a gift then you might have some deeper issues with your relationship than you realize. But even so, I believe that GiftGirl actually does fulfill a basic need. My hopes is that at some point they do figure it out for more middle-class rather than more upper crust (scarily, I’d hate to think of what guy would need help with buying gifts in the $5000+ range).
Myself? Hopefully if they actually implement some of my ideas, I’d love to hear some feedback or get some acknowledgement. For now, the site isn’t for me since I know what my darling girl likes and loves, but for those that don’t know… it’s definitely a good starting point. Heck, it couldn’t be worse off for you starting here than where you are now, right?

Blinds conspiracy

Whom do I have to speak to in getting out of this custom blinds type of scenario? I mean seriously. Is there some window blinds mafia that you have to initiate into?
Here’s the deal. We’re looking for some blinds for the house, and they measure out to be 25″ from inside edge to inside edge. We’re not talking about a custom-built house here, oh no. It’s a spec home and a dang nice one (at least we love it). So you’d think that everything is standard right?
Apparently most people that have three pane windows all have it custom done. What’s strange is that if you go to Lowe’s or Home Depot, they have every single odd numbered inch you could think of “except” 25 inches. I mean, why they skip from 23 to 27 is beyond me. And why this even occurs? What the heck.
So someone point me in the direction of whom I have to pay homage to as I’d like to get some blinds up.
Photo Credit: (unfoldedorigami)

Southern politics at Winston-Salem events

Another thing I noticed last night at Rock the Block.
The Democrats had this gigantic space that was rented out right on 4th Street. We’re talking like some serious office space. And you could look in there and see people were working. There were also people out in the crowds trying to shill for Kay Hagan and Beverly Perdue. Of which, I both dislike. The former has issues with blaming kids getting a hold of M-rated games with vendors instead of the parents, and the second has ties to current governor Easley. I had read somewhere that WS was a Triad headquarters for the Obama campaign, but maybe that’s incorrect. If that’s so, that would explain why they were right off 4th Street with a campaign office.
Of course, the Republicans were not as big of a force last night but they were there so it wasn’t a no-show. They had a booth over by the other vendors, and were a lot more mild mannered than the Dems that I could tell. Of course, they were also out-staffed almost six to one. Fortunately, if they did have someone out in the crowd handing out fliers, we didn’t encounter it. I would have had an issue with a push for Dole too.
Yeah, it’s going to be ugly this year for voting considering I dislike both candidates for representing NC in the Senate won’t it. Politics. Blech. Always seems to leave a terrible taste in my mouth whenever I think about them promising everything and accomplishing only a slim margin of what they promise their constituents.

iTunes Saturday

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Winston-Salem Rocks the Block

rocktheblock2008.jpg Well, that was definitely interesting. It does also show that some festivals and such can go very well if they’re consistent and are done right.
Rock the Block is a free event that happens every year since 2002 and was entirely hopping. I mean 4th Street was packed by the time we got there. What was interesting was that there was parking everywhere that was filling up and a lot of it was for $4 or so. But a nice police officer pointed us to a parking garage right on 4th St that was free. Nice. Probably something to note for next year.
The live bands were pretty good, but we were drawn more towards the Rock Stage that was sponsored by Foothills Brewery. Caught music from both Jews & Catholics and the Eric Dodd Band. Personally, this was my favorite live music area of all of them, but that was just personal tastes. There were five different stages, each separating out the area with two capping off 4th and the others capping the main streets in the middle (Spruce, Marshall, and Cherry).
There was a street basketball area by the Kids section (inflatable fun stuff), where they were showcasing the Winston-Salem Storm. This is the semi-pro basketball team in the resurrected ABA (American Basketball Association) league. Just reading about the league itself is pretty interesting, but it’s nice to see some push for sports around the Triad. Speaking of sports, The Rush was handing out free trial memberships or something for the downtown facility. I didn’t pick one up since I already have a gym membership elsewhere, but their staff was out there handing out cards of some sort to anyone that was willing to glance their direction.
We did roam all the way down 4th and looked at the vendors, smelled the delicious food, and watched as a whole bunch of people streamed in and out of that area. Vendors of notable mention would probably be the Holston Company. For some reason, their beadwork was very unique (croqueted), and the name of the company seemed downright familiar. Perhaps some sort of relationship with Jonna Holston from the Bead and Button magazine? I have to say that it’s one of the most festive nights that I’ve seen in WS at all where people were jam packed together and it was difficult to move from one area to another. All of the restaurants had overflow seating outside and it was still super crowded.
All in all, it was a good time. Being that it was in a conversation I had with a friend about live music performance licensing, I did notice that some of the bands were playing cover songs. Whether or not the City of Winston-Salem actually paid attention to this, it might be good to make sure that the bands have the licensing to play covers in case of legal issues. This aside, I have to admit that Eric Dodd’s version of Tom Petty’s Free Falling was outstanding. Better than Tom Petty, I’d have to say. I did find it enjoyable that Winston would actually have such an event, and that it would be a lot more fun if it was a few more blocks wide and not just 4th Street. Maybe something like Asheville’s Belechere. Of course, Belechere has had over twenty five years to perfect its image. For its sixth year, Rock the Block definitely set the bar for a one night street event.

Why financial services stink when they can’t scale

I have to say that today’s been a terrible day for trading for the average schmuck.
I say that with all the respect for all the other investors that had the same issues. Here’s the deal. It started yesterday when I was watching one financial bank as a possible buy. Now, you would imagine that transfers of money should be instant internally between an financial institution, but it isn’t. Takes a day if it’s not checking or savings. Strike 1 for the average person.
Then today, I placed an order pre-market. Due to financial stocks bringing unusual volume, three different services that I know of after conferring with a friend went down. Bank of America Investment Services, Zecco, and ING Sharebuilder.
With one of these services, I actually was on hold for over ten minutes for broker services. That’s ridiculous when I remember back in the day with Netvest, I had immediate access to my account through my broker. Eventually, I find out that my pre-market order did indeed place even though I had absolutely no access to it since the online services went down.
So the moral of this story? Load balancing and scaling design is extremely important. If you can’t handle either a surge of traffic, or even connections, then something isn’t right. Especially if you’re a large online investment brokerage and on one of the hottest days of trading, your services fail. Not exactly a pretty sign.
Will I still use them? Of course. But it also teaches me that if I want to make moves like the big boys, I need to get a direct line to a personal broker. Investment opportunities always flare up at different moments, but bad design for scaling for these types of services fairly limits the average person’s ability to invest optimally.
Photo Credit: (●๋• Cishore ♡)

Movie Review: The Art of War 2 – Betrayal

Boy, have the mighty have fallen. I enjoyed every Blade movie and pretty much everything that Snipes has done in the past, from Passenger 57 to U.S. Marshals. But he’s definitely had a few films that were sort of cheesy.
And The Art of War II: Betrayal is one of them in my opinion. It was about this entire political play where people were killed dispatched for this twisted plot of cat and mouse. Snipes, finding out that his sensei was murdered, basically sets out to find out who was behind it. Being a former spook, that explains why he could jump right back into the game and be able to kill people in all sorts of martial arts type moves (seen in many of his past movies).
While from an action perspective, it wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t the type of movie I would have seen in the theater (wow, there WAS a reason for this going straight to video!) The elite hacking group was supposedly the messiah of network intrusion, even for the spooks. But what was strange to me was that these guys were getting into things a bit too quickly, and if he was indeed the best of the best, then why was a DHS hacker able to trace him? That made absolutely no sense. Usually the best are that way because they understand how to cover their tracks.
Overall? It’s one of those movies where you might watch when there’s nothing else going on. Oh right. The reason it’s Art of War 2? They quoted one single line from the writings of Sun Tzu. Nice.

Solaris: rebuilding hot swap drives

solaris.jpg For Solaris, when you hot swap drives in a server, sometimes it doesn’t autodetect itself. Yeah, I know. Annoying right?
Well for most of newer servers that use SCSI drives, you probably just have to run devfsadm as root. That should basically tell Solaris to check and look at which drives are where.
Unfortunately, some servers aren’t so easy. Such as the Enterprise E3500. This machine has fiber-channel drives and thus are more finicky. If devfsadm doesn’t work (and it probably will not), then you’ll need to add the drives in with luxadm. Unfortunately, there’s not an entirely easy way to do this. luxadm insert_device is one way to try it since it’s an interactive probe, but you still might need to know the syntax for the devices to actually add them in one by one.