Clear WiMax: Bandwidth Throttling Now In-Place?

A few months ago, I decided to try out Clear Wireless WiMax as they offer ‘unlimited’ 6Mbs down over WiMax (refer to Clear WiMax in Atlanta, Clear WiMax Intial Review, and Clear WiMax Follow-up). However, after a few weeks, I started receiving notices that I was using too much bandwidth (see Clear ‘Unlimited’ Plans and Clear Usage Addendum).

More recently these warning letters have ceased with no explanation.

A few notes about WiMax; it is a very moody connection: often I can get speeds of up to 8Mbps, but other times I am stuck at around 2Mbps (rotating the router an inch or so left/right usually resolves this). During a rainstorm, my speed tops out at about 3Mbps, but with a wide range of variance (4Mbs down to 500kbps). The result of this bandwidth ‘feature’ it is very often hard to figure out what the heck is going on.

Today I tweaked with my bandwidth monitor (NetLimiter) to try to see if there are any traffic shaping/throttling patterns.

  • One obvious pattern is that if I use my full bandwidth for 10 minutes, by speed drops to 1Mbps (about 125kB/sec). If I disconnect for about 15 minutes and reconnect, the bandwidth returns to full speed.
  • If I run full speed for 9 minutes, cap my downloads to 1Mbps for 9 minutes and then go back to full speed, I will top out at about 1.9Mbps and 10 minutes later it drops to 1Mbps.
  • When I set my download limit to about 3.6Mbps (450kB/sec), I do not see any throttling after 25 minutes at this speed.
  • After about 9pm at night, there does not appear to be any bandwidth throttling

It could be my imagination or it could be an incredible coincidence, but I believe that Clear Wireless is doing bandwidth throttling in the Atlanta, GA area. While I am not overly concerned as I am using WiMax as a secondary connection, it would be very nice to know the stipulations of this traffic shaping if this actually being enforced!

Update: It also appears that this is only being used during peak hours- and the 'peak hours' are not always the same. Yesterday (Sunday), there did not appear to be a cap in place until around 5pm. This limited me to 1Mbps if I used any amount of bandwidth for over 10 minutes. It ended around 11:00pm. Perhaps this is an automated system that starts limiting connections when a WiMax tower is being saturated?

Update 2: Pretty much the same as before; bandwidth caps occur between 5pm to 11pm and not on Sunday- but I noticed that the caps are at different levels on different occasions; sometimes 1Mbps, others 2Mbps, etc. This does appear to be some sort of 'auto throtting' that kicks in- perhaps when the WiMax tower is saturated?

Another interesting note is that rebooting the modem usually clears the limit (until the 10 minute timeout expires); so I would guess the cap is per session and not per device (and rebooting establishes a new session)?


Firefox Fixes

I started using OpenDNS again -after not being overly excited with the Google public DNS results- and I am back to the annoying OpenDNS ‘guide’ results when I enter keywords into the address bar of Firefox (instead of the keywords being submitted as a Google search). I did a little searching and found that there is a setting to fix this:

  • In the Firefox address bar, type 'about:config’ and press enter.
  • Accept the ‘I’ll Be Careful: I Promise’ prompt
  • Search for ‘keyword.URL’.
  • Modify the entry for ‘keyword.URL’ to be:

After this is done, multi-word searches in the address bar will now be sent to Google. (Single word searches will still default to the OpenDNS guide.)

Firefox also slows down over time (much like Windows). I found a freeware program SpeedyFox from Crystalidea that will optimize the Firefox sql database and allow it to run a little better.


Using DSL + WiMax Together

A few months ago, I signed up for Clear WiMax. I decided to keep my Bellsouth ADSL connection as I have received notices from Clear that my ‘unlimited’ connection was being over-utilized.

I tried to combine both ADSL and WiMax connections by putting a switch on the WAN port of my router and assigning static IPs to the two connections. By using route tables inside the router I was able to direct high-usage traffic over one connection and route all other traffic over the other. This works good- except that when I put both connections to static IPs, I create double-NATs and I run into issues when trying to open ports to internal systems:


Furthermore, after trying a few different Open-WRT firmware versions (Tomato, Gargoyle, DD-WRT) I found that routing inside my WRT54GL to not always work as I wanted it to.

After several failed attempts, I came up with another idea: I disabled DHCP on the WiMax modem, gave it a static IP on my local network and plugged it into the LAN side of my router:


I then added outbound static routes on my PC to all direct traffic for GigaNews and BackBlaze to the WiMax modem:

route add –p mask
route add –p mask
route add –p mask
route add –p mask

These routes direct all outbound traffic for my blackblaze client (, and and GigaNews ( over the WiMax connection. All other traffic is passed to the default gateway and out to BellSouth.

I am using NetLimiter to monitor my bandwidth usage and restricting GigaNews downloads to about 6Mbps in NewsLeecher (I can still remove the cap and jump up to about 9Mbps if I an in a hurry for a specific article)- which appears to have stopped the ‘excessive usage’ emails/calls from Clear support.

On other hosts on my network I can leave Bellsouth as default or add the above routes if I want to connect in a similar manner.

I was also having some strange issues with the Gargoyle firmware was not automatically connecting via PPPoE, but the latest firmware and setting my MTU to 1500 appears to have resolved this.

On another note: the WiMax connection does not appear to be an asymmetrical connection; on my Bellsouth ADSL line, my download bandwidth decreases as my upload bandwidth is utilized- this is not the case with WiMax.

Now I am able to access a cumulative 12Mbps down/1Mbps up on my PC. In theory, I could break out the WiMax mobile and connect it to a 3G router and have a 3rd route- but I am not going to push my luck too much with Clear… :)


Windows 2008 and Hyper-V

I decided to play around with Microsoft’s version of virtualization on my old AMD Phenom II x4 940 (3.0Ghz x 4) system. It parried it with a Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD4P and 8GB of generic DDR2 RAM. For the boot drive I used a 300GB WD Velociraptor and for the data drive I purchased a Seagate 1.5TB drive.

Windows 2008 installed with no problems on the system- but when I went to add the Hyper-V services, the system would no longer boot into windows. I would see the ‘starting windows’ logo and then a black screen and no disk activity.

The latest beta BIOS for my motherboard resolved this issue. I flashed the BIOS and Windows was able to finish configuration of Hyper-V on the next boot.

The Hyper-V manager that is included with Windows 2008 is fairly feature lacking:


To get the advanced features for Hyper-V management, you will need to download and install System Center Virtual Machine Manager:


Either interface will allow creation of virtual machines, taking snapshots and basic configuration. With the SCVMM you can clone VMs, convert VMs, and use ‘libraries’ which can be used to store disk images, ISOs and templates. SCVMM also allows management of multiple Hyper-V servers and the ability to move VMs between different hosts and storage locations.

One very interesting feature of SCVMM is the ability to create a virtual machine from a physical machine- while the target machine is still powered on; I have tried against a few different Windows XP and Windows 7 clients and verified this can be done without powering off the machine that is being cloned.

Creating a Windows 2008 VM is easy. Older OSes (Win2003) need to have the ‘virtual guest (integration) services’ installed to enable mouse usage inside the VM (as well as other features). This does not appear to work with non-Windows operating systems (such as Linux) as when I attempted to install it to a powered off Ubuntu host as i received an ‘unable to determine boot device’ error in SCVMM- so no Linux VMs for Windows Hyper-V!

I also had issues with a NIC driver a new Windows 2003 x64; it appeared as an unknown ‘network adaptor’ in device manager. A search on the internet indicated that a ‘synthetic NIC’ driver was installed with with virtual integration components (virtual guest integration services) and there were no drivers for a ‘physical virtual NIC’. I shut down the VM, removed the associated NIC and added a new NIC. It was detected as a ‘Microsoft Virtual Machine Bus Network Adaptor’ and was now usable as a NIC.

Hyper-V performance on a quad core 3.0GHz Phenom II with 8GB of RAM is fairly good. I think ACHI along with a 32MB cache on the 1.5TB hard drive helps with disk performance.

So now I am building a Win2008, Win2003, XP and Windows 7 systems to use as clients in a domain to test out Exchange 2010 along with SCCM and SCOM…

Looks like it will be a fun Thanksgiving Holiday! :)


Samsung CL65

Today I returned a very disappointing Casio EX-FS10 to Fry’s. To wave the 15% restocking fee, I had to use the return credit to towards the purchase of another digital camera. I was looking at a Canon SD940IS, but I found that they just started stocking the Samsung CL65 (also known as the ST1000 in Europe). This camera is the peak of camera all nerdy desires: Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS and 3.5” touch screen all integrated into one slim 12.2MP package with 5x optical zoom! Oh- and it has an accelerometer as well…


I opened the camera in the parking lot at Fry’s and ran into one stumbling block; the camera uses MicroSD instead of normal SD. This limits me to the speed of memory as the fastest microSDHC I have seen is class 6 (vs class 10 for SDHC)- and larger capacity MicroSHDC cards are much slower (class 2 for 16GB). Not a major issue, but it made the accompanying 8GB SHDC card I purchased fairly useless…

The camera is very solid feeling; all metal faceplate and a large glass LCD back panel. It also has a minimal amount of buttons: power, shutter, zoom and play are the only physical buttons- all other settings are done via the touch screen- or by tilting the camera to use the accelerometer.

The touch screen is a 1,154k pixel screen and uses audible feedback for screen presses.

One only other item I was not very pleased with is the proprietary USB cable: it looks like something I would expect with a Sony or Archos device. A second issue with the USB cable is that it is only 2’ long- which means it is difficult to charge from a wall outlet.

The camera packaging contains:

  • Samsung CL65 Camera
  • Samsung SLB-11A Battery
  • Wrist lanyard
  • USB Cable
  • Wall-to-USB charger adaptor
  • CD with PDF manuals
  • Quick start and warrant guides

I have taken a few dozen test shots, and all of them have turned out incredibly nice- even while taking pictures in full zoom mode while travelling at 60mph on the Interstate:


Indoor shots are very sharp and show a lot of detail that is normally lost with point-and-shoot cameras.


Overall I am very impressed with the photo quality and photo features.

The startup time to shot ready is less than 2 seconds. shot-to-shot with no flash is about 4 seconds (fairly fast). Flash recharge time is about 8 seconds. The battery is a Samsung SLB-11A battery (3.8v, 1130mAh).

The integrated GPS can GeoTag photos by inserting the longitude/latitude coordinates in the EXIF info of the JPEG. Files can be transferred from the camera via USB cable, WiFi or Bluetooth.

Plugging the camera into a PC initiates a virtual CD-ROM via camera firmware which autoruns (if enabled) the Samsung Intelli-Studio software. This software is a basic file transfer software/photo editor/sharing software that does a decent job. The Inteli-Studio software can upload pictures to Flickr, videos to YouTube or just share via email.

The wireless menu is accessible via the touch screen and pulls up the ‘wireless networking’ transfer menu. Transfer options are via the internet, email, camera-to-camera, home share, DLNA or Bluetooth transfer:


Internet transfers can be sent to Picasa, FaceBook, YouTube or Samsung imaging web sites. Strangely, Flickr (the one I primarily use) is not an option directly from the camera- it is only available via the desktop software:


Often used email addresses can be added in the camera memory for email transfers, or addresses can be typed as needed for email sending.

Camera to camera appears to be a Bluetooth file transfer but does not require a permanent pairing.

I was unable to find any information on the home share transfer; I assume this will transfer files to a SMB file share or a DLNA share.

The DLNA transfer will let the user push an image (no video) from the camera to a DNLA device. In my scenario, I was able to push images to my TV or to my DirecTV receiver.

Bluetooth requires a PIN code each time a transfer session is established, and I believe that only one image can be transferred at a time. I was able to pair and transfer images to my Motorola Droid with no problem.

The wireless response is fairly slow; it takes about 9 seconds to bring up the wireless networking menu, and then another 50 seconds to initially connect to your wireless access point (after entering WEP/WPA key). Leaving the ‘Web’ menu and opening the ‘email’ menu takes another 10-15 seconds as the camera must re-establish a connection to the wireless access point. Hopefully these times will be addressed with a future firmware update.

There are six shooting modes:

  1. Auto
    Partial auto mode; still have options for focus area, face detection and image quality & size.
  2. Smart Auto
    Auto everything; only options are image size (12MP, 10MP, etc)
  3. Movie
    720p HQ, 720p std, 640x480, 320x240 and 320x340 Web (30 second clip) mode
  4. Dual IS
    Uses both optical and digital image stabilization
  5. Scene
    Beauty Shot, Frame Guide, Night, Portrait, Children, Landscape, Close Up, Text, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight, Fireworks, Beach & Snow
  6. Programmed Mode
    Allows exposure, white balance, ISO, metering mode, and sharpness/contrast/saturation settings.

On the autofocus settings, there are options for multi AF or one touch shooting. The later mode allows focus to a point specified by touching the screen; holding your finger for about 2 seconds takes a picture. In autofocus mode there are several face detection modes: normal, self-portrait, and smile shot (automatically takes a picture when a smile is detected). there are also options for blink detection and smart face recognition. there is a ‘five star’ setting that will allow you to take 5 shots at different angles for face recognition (I actually haven’t figured this option out yet).

Overall, I am very happy with this camera. It is very quick to shoot and to take a second shot. The battery life is decent (more than enough for a night out). The picture quality is very good and the LCD is a beautiful display to show them to friends. The proprietary cable is a downer, but I ordered a spare battery and external charger from eBay to eliminate the need to carry this cable around for recharging (an 8MB microSD will hold about 1100 12MP images, so I probably won’t worry about needing to pull off images to free up space).

I would recommend this camera to anyone that wants a small point-and-shoot camera that is fairly easy to use and yet features some advanced settings. The connectivity and GPS are added features that will appeal to the more tech savvy crowd- and so far no other camera I have found offers all of these features in one package.

Here are a few of the other menu settings:


Warner DVD2Blu

Remember the old Red2Blu offer from Warner Brothers allowing HD DVD users to trade in their defunct media for the surviving format? Now they are offering DVD owners a similar deal- albeit at a slightly higher price ($8 - $10 per disc):


Surprisingly, most of the Blu-Ray’s offered are from the catalog of movies that sell for $10 - $15 at BestBuy/Fry’s/Amazon. (i.e. You won’t be getting the Harry Potter discs for less than $25/each).

I did a few choice comparisons to see the price savings:

Title DVD2Blu Amazon
Dark City $7.95 $9.99
Final Destination $7.95 $9.99
Oceans Thirteen $9.95 $14.49
Pan’s Labyrinth $9.95 $17.99
Wedding Crashers $7.95 $9.99

The Warner DVD2Blu upgrade can save $2-$8 per disc. On the $2/disc side, I would probably rather keep the old DVD copy (for this trade-in offer you must mail in the DVD disc) and buy a Blu-Ray copy from Amazon (although I have given up collecting physical discs).

I think this is just another sign of the end of physical media; it will soon be on the endangered list with newspapers.

Ironic that Sony finally ‘wins’ a media format war and everyone is rapidly moving to digital distribution (even Sony with their new PSP games).


Casio EX-FS10 Review

The Casio Exilim EX-FS10 is a very compact 9.1MP point-and-shoot camera that promises high-speed video capture up to 1000fps. It can also capture up to 30fps burst of pictures at 6MP that will allow you to review and select the image(s) that look the best. It has a 2.5” LCD, a 3x optical zoom and retails for about $200 at most stores.

With all the above features, the camera sounds like a really good deal. After using the camera, it is useless as the video/photo quality in any setting other than direct sunlight is a good deal worse than the photo quality of a $30 child’s toy camera imported from China.

It does offer some interesting features:

  • EyeFi Support: keeps power to the SD card to allow EyeFi WiFi uploads
  • Slow-Motion mode: Buffers pictures and plays them back in ‘slow motion’ once the button is pressed so can get the right shot.
  • Face Detection
  • Continuous Auto Focus
  • 3x optical zoom

Photos Quality:

One issue with indoor burst mode photographs is that the flash is not usable- which can be expected as I have never seen a flash on a point-and-shoot camera that could handle a 30fps strobe. That said, the 30fps burst mode is fairly unstable indoors. It is also important to note that you are limited to a maximum of 6MP resolution in burst mode.

Indoor test lighting: four (4) 60W incandescent bulbs (in my ceiling fan) supplemented by a 75W halogen desk lamp.

The Casio EX-FS10 is set by default to ‘auto 3-30fps’- with it being closer to 3fps with indoor lighting. This is a sample of photos taken on full auto high-speed settings:

CIMG0019 CIMG0017 CIMG0018

I tried lowering the photo settings to 640x480 and the auto mode increased the fps- but the blurring is still very apparent.

I had to go into the menu and manually set the camera for and indoor 30fps test:

Most of the blurring is resolved at 30fps, but the image is very under-exposed.

The flash is only usable for single-shot 9MP indoor shots. The quality of which is still fairly questionable as there is still quite of bit of grain/noise in darker areas of the photos.

Video Quality:

The EX-FS10 has six video recording modes; two normal modes (30fps) and four high-speed modes:

HD 1280x720 30fps
STD 640x470 30fps
High Speed Mode 1 480x360 210fps
High Speed Mode 2 224x168 420fps
High Speed Mode 3 224x64 1000fps
High Speed Mode 4 480x360 20-210fps

The last mode allows toggling between 30fps and 210fps by clicking left/right on the control pad.

Audio recording is disabled in all of the high speed recording modes.

The high speed video options was one of the primary reasons I purchased the camera; and it was the most disappointing aspects as well. The lighting conditions are the same as for the photos (specified above)

The ‘HD’ video recording mode when used indoors shows much more grain and noise than I would expect:

EX-FS10 HD Indoor Test Sample

The camera does auto-focus during video (so long as ‘Continuous Focus’ was enabled in the settings), but zoom is disabled (this is typical for most digital cameras).

I tried a video on the ‘best’ high speed setting under the same lighting conditions:

EX-FS10 High Speed Indoor Test Sample

YouTube did a little ‘noise reduction’, so there was a little more video quality available on-screen:


I went into this expecting sub-standard video quality due to indoor lighting- and I was surprisingly even more disappointed at the resulting video. The video quality of the high-speed setting is so dark that the first sample video I uploaded to youtube came out a a completely black screen.

The high speed video mode is complexly useless indoors- unless you are carrying around a few 500 Watt halogen flood lights to direct at the subject you are trying to video.

All said, the EX-FS10 is fairly unusable indoors save as a standard 9.1MP single shot camera. I would assume it is very good at high speed photography/video outdoors in a scenario with direct sunlight. If the indoor conditions are any indicator, I would wager that this will be a very poor performer on overcast days or in shaded areas (or morning/evening settings).

If you are looking for a decent point-and-shoot camera for indoor photography/videos, this is not the one you are looking for. There are a plethora of other cameras in this price range that offer much better single-shot quality than this device. This camera was designed for the avid outdoors man that doesn’t go into wooded areas and doesn't go around water (the camera is definitely not waterproof).

I almost forgot to comment on the battery life: abysmal! I took about 20 9MP photos with flash, about 15 minutes with of video, and about five 30fps photo sets and the camera shut down down due to a dead battery. Not very good performance from an cameras that is already very disappointing.

This device is going back to Fry's tomorrow- and I will be raising all kinds of Hell if they try to charge me a restocking fee on this piece of crap!


Verizon xMas Commercials

It looks like Verizon has found a pretty good marketing play:


Windows 7 & P55 USB Issues

I have seen a few articles (Apple Forums, Engadget Mobile) about sync problems with iTunes and iPhones/iPods on Windows 7 with P55 chipset motherboards

I was also getting the ‘unknown error occurred (0xE8000065)’ when trying to sync my iPhone, but enabling C1E support (Enhanced halt state) in the BIOS seems to have resolved my problems with with synching. (BIOS release 0711 for the Asus P7P55E-Deluxe has this option enabled in default settings- release 0606 did not).

However- I am also having issues with other USB devices that I did not have prior to upgrading to a P55 chipset. My Logitech Harmony remote will not sync and my USB headset will not work as long as I have then plugged into a USB port on the motherboard- but plugging them into a PCI USB card works correctly.

Hopefully the latest chipset driver from Intel will resolve these issues (but P55 is not listed as supported under this driver?)…


Enabling AHCI in Windows 7

Most modern motherboard with integrated SATA controllers offer a few options for accessing connected drives- usually these choices are ATA, RAID or AHCI.

ATA is a basic interface and it works well with older operating systems (such Windows XP). This emulation is good as you generally don’t need to load additional controller drivers while installing windows (F6 during bootup)

RAID offers different disc configurations for redundancy and/or performance- and generally requires a driver to setup Windows.

Advanced Host Controller Interface (ACHI) is a newer implantation that allows for SATA drive hot plug and supports native command queuing (NCQ). This can have some performance benefits to Widows Vista/7. Most board that support SATA II drives will have this option- it should definitely be an option on the Intel x58 and P55 motherboards…

I found some info about converting an ATA install to AHCI on I Think Different and the PC Perspective forums.

If you installed Windows 7 on an ATA configured drive (like I did), you don’t need to re-install the OS again; a small registry tweak will enable the AHCI driver and Windows will re-detect the drive on next boot up.

The registry key is located in:


The Key is a reg_dword named ‘start’. In non-AHCI system, this is set to ‘3’. To enable the AHCI driver, this needs to be changed to ‘0’.


After the above change is made, make sure all of your data is backed up, reboot into BIOS and change the SATA controller from IDE to ACHI. Reboot back into Windows 7, let windows re-detect the drive, reboot again and you should be using AHCI! :)


PSP Go Price Drop

I guess I should have waited (about two weeks after launch) for the 20% price drop at Fry's...

PSP Go downfall

God of War: Chains of Olympus
At Target: $13.99
From the PSP Store: $19.99

Target version is unusable with PSP Go (UMD format).

If there are hopes for the PSP Go to ever be a (limited) success, Sony is going to need to include a UMD and a digital download for EVERY retail game they sell...


BlackRa1n Jailbreak for iPhone 3.1.2!

imageFinally- a Jailbreak for the iPhone 3GS: BlackRa1n Tutorial

This does not allow for unlocking the carrier on the phone- this allows the iPhone to install applications from other sources (such as Cydia, Rock or Icy).

Very easy to do:

This version is Windows only. Your iPhone should be updated to 3.1.2 and connected to the latest iTunes.

Download the BlackRa1n.com app (click on the Windows logo). Run the app and click the ‘Make it Rain’ button.

Blackra1n does its work and reboots. After the reboot there is a new ‘blackra1n’ app on your phone. Click it to install Cydia/Rock/Ice.

Cydia and WinterBoard- Here I come!


PSP Go Gutty-Works

Rumor is that the new PSP Go is ‘hack proof’.

I was looking over my PSP Go and noticed that the screws to open the back of the unit are easily accessible #0 Phillips head bits. Removing them allows removal of the back panel, revealing the new LIP1412 battery:IMG_0227

I found it a bit odd that the ‘warranty void’ sticker covers the battery solder points. Not wanting to immediately void my warranty, I flipped the battery over for a better look:


The PSP Go has the same three connector configuration (+/T/-) as the earlier models- the ones that can be put into service mode via a Pandora’s Battery. In the earlier PSP versions I believe the third wire is what transfers the information to the unit to put it into service mode?

I highly doubt that Sony would have its support centers de-solder a battery and attach another battery to put the PGP Go into service mode- so there must be some other method that they will use to de-brick PSP GOs that are victim of bad firmware updates.

On the M3 end of the PSP Go motherboard (model TA-091) there are two copper contacts that seem out of place- but then I also noticed that there are matching contacts on the inside of the PSP Go case:


Is this a ‘case opened’ switch? or are these contacts used for testing/charging the unit at the factory? I booted the PGP Go with the back cover off (and the two contacts open) and everything appears to play normally.

There also appears to be a red & white checkerboard sticker on the back of the board that may be a water damage indicator:


One other thing that seemed odd was a clear ‘window’ beneath the battery. This window is located where it will always be covered by the PSP screen:


Sliding the screen open reveals its apparent use: the ribbon cable behind the screen uses this cavity when the screen is opened and the clear plastic is just a divider between the cable and the battery compartment:


Opening the PSP Go raised a few questions for me:

  • How would Sony’s official support centers enable service mode for a PGP Go that had a bad firmware flash?
  • Why is the ‘warranty void’ sticker over the battery terminals- which connects to a battery that will need eventually be replaced as it has a finite number of charge cycles?
  • Why are there contacts on the board that link to connectors on the back of the case?

Photoshop Mobile and Photoshop.com

Today Adobe announced Photoshop Mobile (PS Mobile) for the iPhone.  This is a free app that allows for editing of new camera images or images from the camera roll in the iPhone:

IMG_0220 PS Mobile has four options groups of editing options:

  • Crop/Rotate/Flip
  • Exposure/Saturation/Tint/Black & White
  • Sketch/Soft Focus
  • Effects: Vibrant, Pop, Border, Vignette Blur, Warm Vintage, Rainbow, White Glow, Soft Black & White

Pulling up an options allows for further detail of the change.  For example, if I select ‘exposure’, it switches to a screen where I can swipe my finger across the screen to change the levels between –64 and +64- accompanied with a live change view.

Other options across the bottom of the screen allow for cancel, undo, redo and save.  The save options allows to save on the iPhone (as a new file- not replacing the original) or upload photoshop.com (more on this later).

Overall, the software is very responsive (at least on an iPhone 3GS) and actually a little fun to use.  It is a great app to take a picture, convert it to B&W and save it for email/MMS to a friend.

One issue I immediately discovered is when I save a modified image, it creates as new copy- and it is missing almost all of the original EXIF data:

Original EXIF Data
EXIF Data After PS Mobile

Hopefully this is an oversight in the initial build and will be corrected in future releases.

Abobe seems to be taking a foothold in the online photo sharing game; PS Mobile allows for uploading to the ‘photoshop.com photo sharing site’.  The site is a flash based web site that can accept uploads and perform basic editing of the photos- as well as allow for emailing, linking and downloading the photos.  The editing features on the site are more diverse than the PS Mobile app- adding red-eye removal, distort and sharpen options- to name but a few.

Photoshop.com allows for customized site names (I am using http://broo2.photoshop.com) and provides 2GB of free storage.  If you need more, it will cost a bit:

2GB Free
20GB $20/Yr
40GB $50/Yr
100GB $100/Yr
250GB $250/Yr
500GB $500/Yr

The site also allows linking to Facebook, Flickr, PhotoBucket and Picassa for editing of photos contained in each.  The editing saves the changed photo back to the originating site- also as a copy, leaving the original intact. 

The website does not seem to retain the login information for the sites mentioned above; if I close my browser, I must re-authenticate for Flickr/Facebook/etc.

I have not verified if the website strips the EXIF data.

Google Chrome & Extensions

Google Chrome has come a long way since it’s initial release on September 2nd, 2008.  From v1.0 about a year ago, the current the public ‘beta’ release is v3.0.195.24 (with the latest developer release up to v4.0.221.6)

Recent Developer builds have the ability to utilize browser extensions (after modifying the Chrome shortcut to enable these).  Users of FireFox will be familiar with extensions; add-ins that allow added functionality/options/flashy lights to the browser experience.

There is already at least one list of popular extensions for Google Chrome- even thought these extensions will only work with the developer release.  Two of my currnet favorite extension for Google Chrome are XMarks (a bookmark sync program) and AdSweep (an advertisement blocker).

Google Chrome is rapidly becoming my browser of choice…



Popcorn Hour C200

I purchased a Popcorn Hour A100 earlier this year and I cannot say enough good things about this device; when I found this item I stopped trying to build Media Center PCs as I finally found a device that could play every file codec I could thrown at it (save for the xBox Media Center on a classic xBox- which did not have the CPU to handle HD media).

Recently Popcorn Hour announced the new C200.  This is the third generation ‘Network Media Tank’ device from them and it sports a new Sigma Designs SMP8643 chipset (vs. the SMP8635 in the A100), more Memory (512MB RAM/256MB Flash vs. 256MB RAM/32MB Flash), a GB Network Interface, and support for DVD/Blu-Ray decoding (and Dolby True HD, DTS HD audio formats).


C200 Front; LCD panel on left, 3.5” HD bay on right (HD bay removed for BD-ROM installation).


C200 Back; RF remote antenna on left; 60mm fan vent, three antenna holes (for 802.11n MiMo antennas) and a barrage of I/O interfaces: HDMI, IR, SPDIF, TosLink, USBx2, RJ45, S-Video, Component, Composite, L/R Audio

There are already a few reviews up along with specifications for the C200 and a a detailed Wiki FAQ.  The unit is now rack sized (most likely to accommodate an optional BD-ROM drive) and uses a RF remote (optional IR dongle is available to allow use of other all-in-one remotes). 

To use the Blu-Ray functionality, some form of persistent storage must be installed to accommodate the BD Live storage- either HD or USB drive (2GB or larger)

Popcorn Hour thoughtfully put up a few videos detailing the inner workings of the C200:



The videos can be slow and a bit boring at times- but if you let them buffer up you can skip around to find interesting things- such as the 2.5” HD mount and the BD-ROM mounting. There are several other videos that detail use of the C200.

A little research finds more info for the system board; there is an internal USB port (for use with a USB memory stick), a mini-PCI slot (for adding an 802.11n wireless card), and two 3-pin fan headers:


The system is fanless and dead silent- until you add a HD or DVD-ROM.  Since I am adding a 2.5” HD, I will probably go ahead and install a 60x60mm fan to keep the drive cool (along with a fan speed control).

Unfortunately, the ordering/shipping scenario is the bad part of the deal- no chance for near-instant gratification here.  If I order a unit today (Oct 4), the next scheduled ship date is October 28th.  The units will ship from China to the Popcorn Hour in California, and then they will be shipped out state-side from there.  (The normal wait time is usually 2 weeks, but there is a notice of the ‘Golden Week’ holiday in China that will be affecting this batch of shipments); I will probably wait until closer to the end of October to order…

While wandering around Fry’s earlier this afternoon, I cam upon a Lite-On BD-ROM that was marked down to $62- which is five bucks cheaper than even NewEgg’s pricing:


I really have no use for this drive at the moment, but it was a deal I couldn’t pass up (knowing that I will be purchasing one in about a month anyway).  Perhaps I will download Slysoft’s AnyDVD HD and try my hand at archiving a few of my Blu-Ray discs for fun…


Fuel Cell Phone Charger?

Haven't seen this one before...

Good idea, but a little expensive.


PSP Go! Fun! (sic)

I picked up a PSP Go this morning.  It is smaller and has Bluetooth so I think it may be a good replacement for my PSP 2000 (albeit Sony wants me to repurchase any games I currently have on UMD- at list price!).  Very soon after opening the box I began to have some doubts on the usefulness of the device…

1st problem:

  • The battery is non-removable and had about a 20% charge when I turned it on.
  • To install games, they need to be downloaded from the PSP Store. 
  • To access the PSP Store (from the PSP Go! device), the system needs to be on firmware 6.1. 
  • The system shipped with firmware v5.x 
  • To update the firmware, the system battery needs to be at least 70%
  • I had to plug the device in for a few hours before I can use it…

The ‘battery status’ option also appears to be absent from the system menu…

2nd problem:

The PSP ships with a code for Rock Band Unplugged.   This can be entered directly into the PSP Go! (after updating the firmware so I can login to the PSP Store) or via PC.  The ‘keyboard’ of the PSP Go! (and the PSP) is a nightmare to attempt to use, so I opted for the PC install.

  • When I open the Playstation Store, I am directed to install the PSP Media Go software
  • Once this is downloaded (80MB) I click the ‘Account Management’ icon in the upper to the game store- and I am directed back to a Playstation Store login page- in my web browser. 
  • Logging in puts me at the Account/Transaction Management page where I can also ‘Redeem PlayStation Network Card’.
  • I enter the code and I am prompted me to download an ‘xpd’ file with the PlayStation Network Downloader. 
  • When I attempt to comply, I am informed that the PlayStation Network Downloader needs to be updated and it directs me to download an updated PlayStation Network Downloader. 
  • I download the updated downloader and restart the process
  • I am now told that the PSP needs to be connected to the PC…
  • I went back to the PSP Go and logged into the store; under the Downloads I see that I now have Rock Band Unplugged as a download. 
  • I start the download direct to the PSP Go- the download will take 45min on a 3mbps DSL connection. 
  • During this download, the PSP is unusable for anything else as the only option to leave the download screen is ‘Cancel’.


Back to the PSP Media Go software, it appears the the other work inside of the software (i.e. not redirecting me out to a web page)- but account management cannot be handled the same way?

The alternative to downloading the games via the PSP Go! appears to be downloading them via the Media Go software (or web page)- but this requires the PSP to be connected to the PC.  This still takes 45 minutes to download.

image3rd Problem:

Not only did Sony slap me with the proprietary M2 Memory Stick format, they made a proprietary cable to replace the mini-USB that was on the old PSP. 

These cables cost $15 and are required for both USB connectivity and for PSP Go! (non-removable) battery charging. 

A ‘dock’ for the PSP Go is $30- and it requires the USB cable and a charging cable to be purchased separately (oddly, the PSP1000/2000/3000 adaptor can be used for this)- or to use the included USB cable/charging adaptor solution. 

If I wanted to purchase an additional charging adaptor, it is sold separate from the USB cable- so for a PSP Go! dock set for the office, I am looking at $60: $30 for the dock, $15 for a USB cable and $15 for a power adaptor.  (It would be generous of Sony to include a small bottle of lubricant with these purchases)


  • The PSP/PSP Go! is completely useless while downloading software
  • The purchasing process is the least ‘friendly’ experience I have ever had purchasing anything online
  • Accessories are very overpriced and incompatible with everything else in the world.
  • The game downloads take an amazingly long time- so if you wanted to quickly purchase a game for a trip, it will take at least an hour to purchase & download
  • The ‘7 Wonders’ game on sale for $5.99 at Fry’s is going for $9.99 in the PlayStation Store (and there are dozens of similar examples).
  • No resell/trade-in value for digital downloaded games

My thoughts:

Sony really didn’t care about what the consumer wanted with this version of the PSP; this is all about making the PSP ‘hack proof’ and recovering money that was ‘lost’ to piracy.  Hence the inhospitable purchase/download system and the proprietary hardware/cables/storage.  The only addition to this unit is a Bluetooth module- which should have been in the original PSP.

This PSP Go! is a bastardized hybrid between a portable gaming console and the Mylo2- and the price is about $100 too much.  Paying $20 for a game with no media that can be traded with friends/resold to GameStop and then waiting an hour to play will not be acceptable for most people.  (now for $5, this may be bearable).

Here’s a word to Sony: you aren’t losing most of your sales to piracy- but to overpriced crappy games that people cannot justify the price to purchase (and hence, they will pirate them to see if they are playable).

The PSP Go! is un-hackable (just like the PSP 3000 and Blu-Ray)- but it will eventually be hacked.   Once it is hacked and ISO images of my current UMDs can be played on the PSP Go!, it will then be a usable device- but in its current iteration it is and overpriced rebuild of a 5 year old device that Sony is using as a beta test console for their equally overpriced ‘online store’.


PSP Go! at Target in Buckhead...

About to see if they will sell me one a day early... :)

Update: No love; the register rings up 'No Sale until 10/1/09' at Target.

Maybe I will five BestBuy a try...

New Things For Me

  • Replaced LiveMesh folder sync with Live Sync
  • Fieldrunners for the iPhone may be able to replace RoboDefense for the G1
  • Considering a Popcorn C200 as an upgrade for my A100
  • Testing PlayOn and TVersity Pro for streaming NetFlix, Hulu and YouTube to DLNA devices (such as Popcorn Hour or xBox 360)
    • Found some ‘classic’ episodes on Hulu: ExoSquad, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, He Man, etc.
  • Seriously considering a FitBit when they come out in late October
  • Picked up a Nike+ Sensor for use with my iPhone- and cut a hole out in the bottom of one of my New Balance shoes to make it fit!


PSP Go at SonyStyle

Demo units are out; analog stck feels pretty tight.



Antec Cases

I didn't know Antec made a pATX case (with power supply)...


Contract Free iPhone 3GS

A week or so back, I purchased a shiny, new iPod Touch 64GB.  I was deciding between the iPod Touch and the Zune HD and the Touch won out for A2DP support (but no AVRCP?!?).  The App store is addictive, and I came across several apps that would be awesome when used with the iPhone GPS and camera.  Long story short, I returned the iPod Touch (to the Apple store) and picked up a contract free iPhone 32GB from BestBuy.  I had looked at the $299 + cancel contract in 31 days, but AT&T wanted a $500 deposit for me to open an account with them; c’mon AT&T- my credit history isn’t THAT bad…

After getting the iPhone home, I popped in an AT&T SIM from another phone and I was able to activate the phone.  The phone and SMS messaging worked properly- but not the data plan.  If I tried to check e-mail or browse the web via 3G I received a message “Could not activate cellular data network: You are not subscribed to a cellular data service”

I could use WiFi for most of the services (and use my G1 with WiFi Tethering for a mobile WiFi solution) so I decided to wait until a jailbreak for the iPhone 3GS with 3.1 firmware is released.

Another co-worker had a similar issue with a jailbroken 3.0 phone, so I decided to do some research and stumbled on a blog that offered a solution by changing the APN.

Two solutions are offered: download the iPhone Configuration Utility or open a website on your iPhone to create a custom APN.  If you use the former option, you will need to email the resulting  ‘.mobileconfig file’ message to your iphone and click the attachment to install.  Visiting the UnlockIt website on the iPhone prompts with a Custom APN screen.


If you are using AT&T, just pull down AT&T in the list and it will populate the other items.  Click ‘Create Profile’ and a ‘.mobileconfig’ file will be created and downloaded to the iPhone.  The ‘Install Profile’ screen will appear after the file is downloaded; clicking ‘install’ updates the carrier APN and a normal AT&T data plan is usable again!


A new ‘Profile’ option appears under General settings- allowing you to remove the custom APN configuration if desired at a later time.


Tomorrow is supposed to be AT&T’s rollout of MMS for the iPhone in the US- and most likely firmware 3.1.1. I will wait to see if the updates break the APN fix!


Apple App Store

I picked up an iPod touch as I have been wanting to play with the App Store for a while now.  The last time I played with the App store was at least a year ago on a 1st Gen iPhone and it was not a pleasant experience.

imageThe experience has improved- somewhat…  It is still impossible to find anything useful in the barrage of crap and duplicates that are hosted by the App store.

What amazes me on both the Apple and the Google App stores is the complete inability to search for something I want- unless I know the EXACT name of the application.  For example:

In iTunes, I would like to find a free application for synchronizing Google contacts/calendar.   I do a search for ‘Google’ and I get a response of 200+ apps.  First issue is there is no way to sort them as free/paid.  After that, I would like to sort by ‘rating’, but that is also not an option… 

The Google App store has the same issue; searching for an App returns a blind list of applications that contain a keyword- no way to filter or sort the results.

To be fair, the iTunes store does offer a ‘browse’ option that provides a grid view of the Apps with pricing & ratings- but still no keyword filter (unless I am missing something?):



Windows 7 Connectivity Issue

I formatted my system and installed the RTM (build 7600) of Windows 7; all worked great.  I went about installing my necessary applications (Firefox, NewsLeecher, etc) and all seemed to be good.

A few days ago I rebooted- and I was unable to connect to the internet.  My tray icon indicated there was a network issue and a quick IPCONFIG revealed that I had two gateway addresses:

Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection:

   Connection-specific DNS Suffix  . : OuterNET
   IPv4 Address. . . . . . . . . . . :
   Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . :
   Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . :
   Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . :

I thought that was a bit strange…

I disabled and re-enabled my network connection and the problem ceased.  However, when i rebooted again, I had the same issue. 

I did a little research and found that some users having similar issues that were caused by the Bonjour service that is installed with Adobe CS3.  I did not see such a service installed, but there is one labeled ‘##Id_String2.6844F930_1628_4223_B5CC_5BB94B879762##’.

When I opened the properties for this service, it reveals that it is the Bonjour service that others have had issue with:


I set the service to ‘disabled’ and rebooted; the issue has not returned.

Formal instructions for removing the service can be found in the Adobe forums.