Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

I’m back…and here’s a new iPhone post

August 23, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve been super busy at work/with family/attending family reunions/ blah blah blah so I haven’t posted in a awhile. Actually the main reason is that I was lazy as shit and was off the interwebz for a awhile and social media specifically. But I’m back now.

I wanted to let those JailBreakers know about a new app available in Cydia called MissionBoard which replaces the native iOS switch. I actually like the idea of being able to see all the apps on one screen and this allows you to see thumbnails of what is currently running. Here’s an image courtesy of (excellent resource for JailBreak aficionados).

As you can see, the running apps are visually displayed on the screen so you can quickly see what is running. Scrolling up and down will show all open apps on a page by page basis. One advantage is that it allows me to see immediately which browser was open to which site. If you’re like me, I find myself using multiple browsers because Apple allows no way to default to a third party browser. So when I click on a link, it opens up Safari by default. I use Opera and A Perfect Browser for the most part so often times I have to remember which browser has which page. Not a big deal, but I like this look better than the native Apple iOS.

I lost my iPhone 4 so I had to get a new 4S which annoys me because I wanted to wait for the 5. Once my wife gets the 5 though (she’s having issues with her 4) I will have her iPhone 4 to play with and I will Jailbreak that device. My iPad 1 & 2 are also jailbroken but I decided not to jb my son’s iPad 3 (given he needs it for school). That’s it for now. New post next week about my health a potential surgery.



War & MP3s: Rare Earth Elements

April 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Today’s post comes from Imogen Reed, freelance writer and wannabe rockstar.

China is at risk of sparking a trade war over unsanctioned restrictions of exports of a number of rare metals. These materials, commonly known as rare earth elements, are used in the manufacture of myriad different products including iPods, iPhones, plasma TVs, night vision goggles, Blackberries and hybrid car batteries. In addition, they are also required for the production of military equipment such as laser-guided smart bombs and heat shielding.

Back Story

The first indication of China starting to hold back on its obligations was in September 2010 when the uneasy sense of antagonism existing between China and Japan was flared up once again by a boat collision around the disputed territories of the Senkaku Islands and the subsequent detention of a Chinese fishing trawler captain by the Japanese coast guard.

China’s ban on the export of rare earth metals to Japan may or may not have been a direct reaction to this incident, but the timing was too coincidental to not look suspicious. Of course, China denied that such a restriction had been implemented, but then the Chinese government does expect its citizens to accept official statements as indisputable facts and presumes the rest of the world will follow that same logic.

Mining Monopoly

It’s now apparent that China’s export quotas and the duties that must be paid on them are designed to give an advantage to its domestic industry over international competition, which is a violation of international trade rules. Countries in the West are forced to pay excessive amounts for a supply of the minerals that barely meets demand.

Although deposits of the metals also exist elsewhere in the world, the deposits are often tainted by radioactive metals formed under similar conditions. China, never being a nation to let danger to human life stand in the way of industrial progress, began large scale mining in earth mineral-rich areas in the early 2000s, thus cornering the market on their refinement.

The Obama administration has now lodged a joint formal complaint with the World Trade Organization along with Japan and the European Union.  The responding statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce declared it has “no intention of protecting domestic industries by distorting its foreign trade.” But of course, nobody was really holding out for an admission of guilt.

Periodical Importance

The more technical name for rare earth elements are lanthanide metals. This series of elements are one of the two rows on the periodic table that break out of the transitional metal block. They’re the ones you always ignored in chemistry class because they were never mentioned and didn’t seem to fit in with anything. The two elements above in the block, scandium and yttrium, are also classed as rare earth metals due to the close similarities in properties.

Compounds of the elements are phosphorescent, meaning they give off colored luminescence, making them perfect for compiling the pictures in TV screens. Their magnetic properties, combined with relatively light weight, also make them ideal for computer disc drives and electronic devices like iPods and mobile phones.


If the restrictions of rare earth metal exports remain unchecked. It will doubtlessly have knock-on effects for the cost of any shipments that make it through. Certainly, nobody is going to cry a river for Apple executives forced to shell out over the odds for the raw materials required for their designer products, as they have enough money for all the big houses, expensive cars and Mediterranean cruise deals their steam-pressed hearts desire. However, it’s more than likely that the increased expenditure will be passed on to the people wanting to adorn their lives with sleek shininess, meaning the retail prices of the goods could skyrocket without warning, possibly pricing the items out of the reach of ordinary consumers.

A further issue is that due to the use of the metals in military hardware, they can be classified as a strategic resource, like oil was in the 1910s and ‘20s, and uranium in the ‘40s and ‘50s. In doing so, the government can invoke the Defense Production Act, meaning that all imported quotas of rare earth metals can be prioritized for the requirements of national defense. Subsequently, any leftovers will end up scarce and pricey, so it follows that any items made using them will end up even more prohibitively expensive.

If for some reason you don’t already own an iPod, you might want to look into getting one fairly quick. Who knows how much longer you’ll be able to afford it?

Interested in more? Here’s an article from on the subject.


March 22, 2012 2 comments

So, being sick and tired of all the downtime I was experiencing with AT&T’s Uverse, I decide to switch to Time Warner. I opted for the faster download speed well, just because I could. Naturally, the first step is to check out the speed. In case you’re interested in YOUR downstream speed, check out I did and here’s my result.

Needless to say, I’m pretty happy.

Categories: Other, Tech Tags: , , , ,

Rumor roundup: ‘iPad 3’ release date, specs – The Washington Post

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Social Media & other Subjects for the N00b

August 15, 2011 Leave a comment

It seems to me, being in the tech industry, that there are a lot of words, phrases or acronyms (there are as many acronyms in tech as there are in the Military. OK, maybe not as many since there is a division in the military devoted simply to the creation of acronyms. It’s called the Fabrication and Utilization of shortcuts for Kombat Events) that the common user may have heard of but not fully comprehend. I would like to try to cover some of these buzz words and phrases that are being tossed around like a football in a Mouse Davis offense (obscure football reference). So without further ado, here are some current terms and their definitions:

Social Media
It’s what you do if you’re on Facebook. It means interacting with people via the internet, whether passively (Facebook/LinkedIn/YouTube, etc.) where you post or comment then may receive a reply or comment sometime later, or actively (Twitter or Google+) where you have interactions with almost instantaneous feedback. They make money by providing you with a medium to interact with others, then providing you with specific ads based on your “likes” or comments.

Cloud Computing logical diagramThe Cloud
From Wikipedia:
Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

The concept of cloud computing fills a perpetual need of IT: a way to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software. Cloud computing encompasses any subscription-based or pay-per-use service that, in real time over the Internet, extends IT’s existing capabilities.

In layman’s terms, it means that the cloud (which is usually “owned” by a provider) uses multiple redundant parallel systems to provide customers with various offerings, such as databases, collaboration, communication, finance, etc. in such a way that there is access everywhere (since it’s on the internet), protection (since data can be spread across multiple locations), and dynamic allocation of resources should the need arise (e.g., additional capacity/resources).

The ability to run multiple virtual machines, whether they’re servers or PC’s from a single system. While the initial cost of the machine (it needs to be robust) is high, as the number of virtual machines on that system increases, the ROI increases. Since it consolidates multiple servers/devices into just a few, you reduce cooling requirements, management costs and electrical costs. You can create both desktop and server environments which allows you to reduce hardware costs as well. The other advantage is the since the virtual machines are simply files, you can back them up and restore them very quickly to it’s previous state. This minimizes downtime and again, cuts costs.

Most common software to achieve this is Microsoft’s Hyper-V/Virtual Server or VMWare’s ESX/ESXi

Mobile Computing
As computers and mobile devices converge, futurists have posited that the desktop/laptop computer as we know it will be replaced with a device that will act as desktop/smartphone/entertainment system in one.

Since we are headed towards a state where all the software and data will reside in the cloud (private or public), it becomes immaterial what device or OS you use, since all you need is a browser. The future office will simply have a dock connected to a keyboard, mouse and monitor. Upon arrival, you dock your mobile device (tablet or smartphone) which then allows you to work as you do today. Your data is backed up in the cloud and at the end of the day, you undock your phone, place it in your dorky belt holster or purse, then head home. Upon arriving at home, you have a dock connected to your TV set. You place your phone in the dock and you can watch either downloaded movies or other type of content; or, using the WiFi built into the smartphone, you can stream content wirelessly. This is the future, and, with the 1st device that can do this in the market (the Morotola Atrix), it will be the predominant paradigm of the next generation of devices.

refers only to Apple iPhones and orthe iDevices, it simply means the ability to use a distribution channel OTHER than Apples App Store. You are breaking out of the virtual “jail” that Apple has created which mandates that you can only get content from them. It requires an elevated level of technical know-how to jailbreak idevices as well as what to do to add software to the device using Cydia (the non-Apple “App Store”).

Same as Jailbreaking, but with the Android system. It is more complex than Jailbreaking since it is phone and OS version specific. Also less of a need as there are multiple places you can purchase apps for Android devices (Amazon has an app store for Android as well as T-Mobile and Google).

So there you have just some of the popular IT terms you might have heard of but were too embarrased to ask about. Any other term, feel free to comment and I will be more than happy to explain.

Categories: Other, Tech

Riverwest Food Pantry

July 11, 2011 2 comments

The family worked this past Saturday morning at the Riverwest Food Pantry. We wanted the kids to get into the habit of giving time, not just money, to help those people and families down on their luck. The kids had never done it before and they were a tad apprehensive at the start. Thankfully, there were a number of other kids they knew volunteering as well.

It had been a while since I had last been at a food pantry and while the last one was SOME (So Others Might Eat) in DC in the 90’s during the height of the boom times, this was in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. I was unprepared for the people coming through. While my experience in DC prepared me for those living on the fringes of society, due to the economic downturn, we saw people who weren’t previously marginalized coming through the doors.

Your heart breaks as you see people who WANT to work but unable to find a job. The experience was an eye opener for the kids. Elena was very apprehensive and stuck to Suzanne’s side the whole time. Zachary was only slightly less wary. As the day progressed, they saw how thankful people were and how, despite the rumpled appearance, by and large they were very nice people whose attitude and spirit belied the difficult situation they were in.

It reminded me of the saying about those who have been given much, much will be expected. In these days of stark greed and avarice, it does a person (and community) good to take time out to help others.

If you are interested in volunteering or donating food, you can contact Donna Fletcher at 704-6046, at her office at Gaenslen School at 267-5700, or at these locations:

Gaenslen Food Pantry
1250 East Burleigh St. (enter from parking lot in back of building, Door #14)
Tuesdays: 4:30-6:30

Riverwest Food Pantry
924 East Clarke St. (first door inside parking lot on Weil St.)
Saturdays: June-August 8:30-10:30, September-May 9:00-11:00

Now is the time to Jailbreak your iDevice

July 11, 2011 Leave a comment

So, you want to jailbreak your device but you’re worried you can’t find the correct IPSW file, or can’t get the device in DFU mode, or are worried that the revised IPSW that you created from your Pwnage tool may be corrupted. Well, have no fear, now comes the easiest jailbreak ever. Just follow these steps:

  1. Back up your iDevice
  2. Launch the mobile Safari browser
  3. Point the browser to
  4. Click on install
  5. Wait for Cydia to be installed to the iDevice
  6. Go to my post on what to do after you jailbreak your device.

The first day it was available, over one million people freed themselves from the tyranny of a single distribution channel. It’s easy and REVERSIBLE. If you don’t like it, restore the device to your pre-jailbreak settings. Simple! Enjoy.

BTW, this is good for all versions of iOS up to 4.3.3 and it’s untethered. The next release will close the PDF vulnerability that this site exploits.