September 2003 - Posts
I'm trying to decide whether there's a case to be made for the utility of the Smart Displays being marketed by ViewSonic and Philips, among others. Smart Displays are essentially an LCD monitor that runs a customized OS that allows you to connect wirelessly to a Windows XP-based desktop (or laptop, one assumes) PC.
Now I can see a number of uses for this, from the obvious...browsing the web anywhere in the house without dragging around a bulky laptop (yes, I know they make light ones, but mine is a monster, and I'm not willing to give up the features to lose the weight)...to the geeky, like attempting to use it to write and/or test ASP.NET code or articles, etc. in bed.
But at a price anywhere from $799 for a 10” display to $1349 for a 15” display with dock, I have to wonder whether the usefulness that Smart Displays offer would be worthwhile compared to using a lightweight laptop and Terminal Services.
Given the limitations of laptops in terms of hard drive and bus speed, and the attendant lack of performance relative to desktop machines, I've been considering buying a nice workstation, and using Terminal Services to use that box remotely from an inexpensive laptop. But the Smart Displays have me intrigued, too.
Has anyone used one of these? What do you think about the price/value of these devices?
Here's a thought...wouldn't it be cool if you could connect to your desktop at home over the internet while on the road? You could use it to take notes at the PDC, and not have to lug around a full-size laptop. Of course, at that point you might as well start looking at a Tablet PC, since those are more optimized for note-taking (and don't get me started on how those are priced!).
Welcome to anyone who's visiting from the PDC Buzz page. I have to say that any day you can get listed on the same page with folks like Chris Sells and Brad Abrams is a very good day, indeed!
I hope that anyone who reads my blog and is going to the PDC will stop by the pre-con I'm giving on the Web Perspective, and say “hi”. I'm really looking forward to the PDC this year, and I fully expect it to be one of the best ever. If you're using ASP.NET, you definitely want to be there to see what's coming next. As Chris says, it's hard not to be able to talk about stuff that's so cool, but in one month, the flood gates will open.
I should've known better than to taunt Mother Nature. After we got our power back from Isabel (after 30 hours), I changed my MSN IM handle to include “(power's back...take THAT, Isabel!)”. Apparently, Mother Nature takes these things rather personally, because our power went out again Monday morning at around 5am. Unfortunately, this time around, it was us and about 5 or 6 other neighbors who were out, while the rest of the neighborhood had power.
For those who haven't lived through this, the reason this is bad is because the power companies, in general, work on outages based on the number of people affected. That is, the priority of a given problem is based on the number of households that will be restored by repairing the problem. So if your entire neigborhood or county is out, you get a higher priority than if a few homes (or a single home) is out. This makes a great deal of sense to me, but is small comfort when you have no power, and you know you're at the bottom of a list that's tens of thousands of housholds long. Dominion Virginia Power has a useful diagram that shows the order of repairs. Our repair was a #5, which is why it only got fixed this evening.
If you work for the utilities, or if you've got family away from home working on the outages from Isabel, you have my gratitude, and that of many of my neighbors. Being without power was a pain, but I'd rather be without power than without my family, so I greatly appreciate the sacrifices many utility workers have been making to get the power restored. The guys who fixed our problem were from North Carolina (I'm near Washington, DC), and they looked very tired. But they did a great job, and I hope they get to go home to their families soon!
Ole Eichhorn sings the praises of Vonage, a service that allows you to use your internet connection for telephone service, using a standard telephone. According to Ole, it's cheap ($60, one-time fee), and will be big.
There's only one catch...the little gray box that Vonage sends you to hook up to your network (not to mention most network equipment) requires AC power. As I found out recently, when you don't have power, you don't have a network. No network, no phone, if you're using Vonage.
Given that my cell phone was also out (because the towers require power, and many wireless phone companies were having trouble keeping the towers powered thanks to Isabel), if I didn't have my land line, I'd've had a lot of trouble getting a hold of anyone by phone. As much grief as I am inclined to give Verizon, they kept the phone lines going throughout the storm and after.
So, sure, Vonage may be very cheap and cool, but unless you've got a generator, it's not as reliable as POTS.
Been a while since I posted, so I'll catch up on a number of items:
- Just signed a new book project with O'Reilly...more details to follow, but it's ASP.NET-related.
- I've got an article in the pipeline for the MSDN ASP.NET Developer Center. The article covers design-time support for custom ASP.NET server controls in Visual Studio .NET. I'll let you know when it'll be up...as soon as Kent tells me. :-)
- Hurricane Isabel knocked out our power for around 30 hours. We lost most perishables in the fridge, but it certainly could've been worse. Our neighbor had a tree fall on his car, and several of us spent Friday morning sawing and dragging the limbs off (the big ones were up to 16“ in diameter).
- I'm incredibly sore from sawing and attempting to start a balky chain saw (see #3).
- Last, but not least, I'll be speaking at PDC this year. Along with Jeff Prosise, I'll be presenting The Web Perspective pre-conference session on October 26th. I'll be giving an overview of the current ASP.NET v1.1 platform, as well as a talk on performance best practices. If you can make it, be sure to stop by during a break and say “hi“.
UPDATE: As Scott notes in the comments, Kent's blog, which I'd linked to in my original post, seems to have disappeared. I'll see if I can find out what's up with that, but I've removed the link for now.
I took the test Chris has been talking about, ended up as an ENTJ as well... I didn't read the descriptions before or after... but I think I get the general idea.
Well, I took the test, too. And whaddaya know, I came out ENTJ, too. Not especially strong in any category, but there you go. Am I working in the wrong place (I work for myself)? :-)
|Strength of the preferences % |
Qualitative analysis of your type formula
- slightly expressed extrovert
- slightly expressed intuitive personality
- slightly expressed thinking personality
- moderately expressed judging personality
...to read before doing.
Having had several interchanges with Robert McLaws on the issue of wireless network security, I thought it might be a good idea to see if my wireless router manufacturer had gotten around to releasing new firmware with WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), as promised in the product sheet. Indeed, they had. So, great, I download the file, noting that it says it's for hardware revision B only. My rev. is A, so I check the support site, and the download page there doesn't have the note about B, so I figure perhaps the other page is in error...first mistake.
Second mistake is to not read the instructions in the FAQ for installing firmware, which states loud and clear that you SHOULD NOT UPDATE FIRMWARE VIA A WIRELESS CONNECTION!
So what do I do? Of course...I install the wrong firmware, via a wireless connection. D'OH! Next thing I know, my router's wireless portion is completely hosed, and the router is re-booting itself every 5-10 seconds or so, so it's nearly impossible to get into the admin interface long enough to try to fix the problem.
Well, to make a long story short (too late :-) ), after spending more than a half an hour messing with the admin interface, I managed to downgrade to the original firmware that came with the router. That still didn't solve the re-booting problem, so I unplugged the router, and held in the reset button while powering it back up. That managed to get the re-booting to stop, and the wireless portion of the router came back online.
Fortunately, I still had a copy of the last good firmware, and had saved the router settings to the filesystem of my laptop prior to trying the newest firmware, so I was able to get back to where I started. But I hope that my experience will be a lesson to you all. Read the FAQs, or suffer the consequences. Fortunately, mine only amounted to a few lost hours, but it could have been worse.
So I thought I had my network migration plan all set...just drop in a couple of new NICs, as Brian Desmond suggested in the comments for my last T1 post, and I should be good to go, right? Well, almost. The web server, which is running Windows 2000 Server, was no problem. Already had another NIC in the box, just enable it, run the cable, and it's good to go. My mail server, alas, is running Windows Server 2003, which doesn't like my Netgear FA310TX 10/100 nics very well. It's possible to make them run, but the result is lots of socket errors with my mail program.
So I'll need to run out tomorrow and pick up a couple of new NICs. I've got my eye on the D-Link DFE-530TX+ but of course, as with most widely-available NICs, it's not Windows Server 2003 certified (but at least it's not on the not supported list). So if any of you are reading this on a holiday weekend, and are running Windows Server 2003 with a 10/100 NIC from D-Link, Netgear, Belkin, etc., I'd love to hear from you.
Also, shown below is a rough sketch of the network configuration I've set up. The DSL and Wireless routers are both set up to run NAT, while the T1 router is running wide open, with only the Wireless router connected. The T1 router serves up public IPs via DHCP, and I've configured it to reserve a specific public IP for the Wireless router. I then added that public IP to the DNS records for all of the domains I'm hosting. So far as I can tell, this seems to work (apart from the flaky NICs). If you're a network guru, and you see something that doesn't make sense, please let me know. It's been a long time since I passed my networking essentials cert. ;-)
UPDATE: I did not explain the diagram below adequately. The wireless router also has a 10/100 switch built-in, which is what the servers are connected to. They are not connecting via wireless. I also have both MAC filtering and 128-bit WEP set up on the wireless router. Yes, I know that's still not 100% secure, but for the sake of simplified configuration (nice web-based setup vs. nasty unintuitive telnet-based), I'm willing to take the risk.
Note also that the DSL router will be going away as soon as the DNS for the T1 address has propagated.