Why I Might Change My Mind and get an iPad!

Way back when on January 27th, I got out of bed got out of bed while vacationing in Kauai, poured a cup of coffee and fired up my laptop. I immediately went to Engadget’s live blog of the Apple announcement regarding the much rumoured iPad.

My first thoughts on seeing what the iPad could do was that while it was a cool device, I really didn’t think I would get one anytime soon. To me it was just an overgrown iPod Touch. With it you could read eBooks, play music and video (not high def though), show photographs and use iPhone Apps. All in a device that weighed 1.5 pounds.

I use a Sony PRS-600 Reader and really like the experience of reading on that device (although the screen is not as good as my older PRS-505). It is fairly small, easy to handle and comfortable to read for long periods of time with it’s E-Ink screen.

As time went and more specs on the iPad were released there were a few things that really started to make me think it wasn’t the device for me. Apple was saying it would get 10 hours of battery life and I have come to learn with most manufacturers, you can take that number down by 20 or 30%. I think the real turn off in regards to this device was the fact that it wouldn’t support ePub books using the Adobe Digital Editions DRM scheme which is most of the books in my library and that Apple would have it’s own fairplay DRM on eBooks. Once again Apple was putting it’s users in a closed system and forcing users to buy from them alone.

One of the things that I really like about my Sony Reader is the fact that it does support the ADE DRM scheme. Last fall Sony’s own book store went all ADE ePub from a proprietary format and they have been supporting the ADE format on all of the readers since July 2008. This is very important to me as I am not tied to the Sony Store to purchase my eBooks! In fact I have bought books from Sony, booksonboard.com, Dieselebooks.com and Kobo as well as renting them from my public library. This open system has not tied me to one book seller and I can shop around for the best prices on my eBooks.

So what has changed over the last few weeks that I have re-sparked my interest in the device. Well there are several factors. I do have a iPod 3rd gen Touch device that I carry for pocket computer use more than as an iPod (I use a Microsoft Zune 120 and a 32 GB Zune HD hooked up to a Zune pass for music and podcasts).  I have found several apps though for the Touch that I use frequently and that I feel would work very well on an iPad. These apps could also allow me to use the iPad instead of my Asus 1000H Net Book.

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Didn’t Follow My Own Rules!

Well yesterday I didn’t follow my own backup rules and got burned! On my main desktop I had a 500 GB Seagate drive connected via an eSata dock to the system. I was trying to copy files to this drive (an XP CD and SP3) to make a bootable XPSP3 CD for a client when I started to get drive errors!

Eventually I couldn’t access the drive at all. I tried several things to get access to the drive including several data recovery software packages and had no luck. While most of the data on this drive was backed up folders or data that I had backed up in another location, there was one folder containing pictures that I had shot of both my son’s and daughters soccer teams in various games and tournaments this season. In total there was about 3500 photos there. Unfortunately I didn’t back up this folder anywhere (against my own rules)!

Regular readers will know that I am an Adobe Lightroom user and luckily I didn’t store the catalogue for these photos in the same folder (they are on my main drive and yes these are backed up regularly to my various NAS devices).

I opened the Lightroom and could see that I had the previews for the images in the database, and so I searched the web to see if these could be extracted to jpg files. I ran across this post http://lightroomsecrets.com/2009/05/recover-lost-images-with-lrviewer/ which in turn led me to this software http://basepath.com/ImageIngester/LRViewer-info.php. I downloaded the software, installed it and was able to save all of the preview images as jpg files. Earlier today I found that my favorite Lightroom plugin author also has a similar plug in on his site that is available here http://regex.info/blog/lightroom-goodies/preview-extraction.

While these are lower resolution files than what I originally had at least for posting to the web and allowing the parents to print 4 x 6 images they will be fine. Another thing I noticed is that not all of the preview files were full sized. Most of the images that I had marked for export were in a larger size however there are a few images that were a little smaller.

Thanks to these two tools, I was able to get back some of the images that I wanted to share with others.

All in all I learned my lesson yet again. I will remember this problem and have already set up MS Sync Toy to run as a scheduled task on my system and backup all photo related folders to my Drobo on the DroboShare or my HP WHS.

Once again I hope that this is a lesson learned for anyone about how easily it is to lose data if you don’t back up properly!

Canon 30D, Lens, Grip For Sale

I am posting this on my Blog before I post it to some classified sites to give my Blog readers a chance at this. I have the following item for sale.

Canon 30D DSLR camera with just under 10,000 shutter actuations. Purchased in August 2007.
Canon Battery grip and AA adaptor for the camera
2 Canon Batteries
18 – 55MM Canon EF-S Kit Lens
Strap, Original Box, Cables, Charger,Manuals, Software
Hoodman Sun Shade for LCD Screen

Asking 750.00 CAN for the whole kit. Camera is in excellent condition. This camera has been my secondary/backup body for the last year. I have replaced my primary body and no longer need this backup any longer. Will ship but buyer pays shipping.

If you are interested please call 403-830-9094.

I anticipate it will be posted to Craigslist and Used Calgary sometime during the week of March 16th.

Dealing with Rogers, Argggg I Have no Hair Left!

I wish I could say that dealing with Rogers Wireless was a fairly painless process but I would be as bad as them in lying through my teeth. I just spent over an hour on the phone with them trying to give them money by upgrading my current Blackberry to a new Blackberry Bold!

Unfortunately in Canada if you want a GSM phone because there is no competition you have to deal with Rogers or Fido (who are the same company). Telus and Bell Mobility are CDMA carriers only so if you want an iPhone or the newest Blackberrys you have to deal with Rogers.

Last week I posted how Rogers lied when it came to selling their new HSDPA wireless modems and had a sudden change of heart when it came to the Data Plans they were offering on them. I almost got screwed by them but luckily by chance I was able to cancel the modem order and send it back.

Today trying to get the new Bold I just about went crazy, and I am exhausted from my ordeal. My plan was to get an upgrade price for the Bold, then go to a local store and pick it up. The Rogers web site indicated that the phone Bold was 599.00 on a month to month contract and you could get it for 399.00 with a three year contract. Their website had been notoriously slow all day today. When I called yesterday to try and get pricing they said because the phone hadn’t been released yet they had no pricing for me.

Today started and I called Rogers, after holding for about 5 minutes I spoke to a rep and was told they couldn’t help me because I had a corporate code on my account, (I have a corporate employee plan through my full time employer) so I had to speak to a corporate rep. After being transferred and waiting on hold for another ten minutes, I spoke to a corporate rep. She looked everything up (while I was put on hold again), then came back and said that my corporate code showed no discounts and that as a result the upgrade would cost 995.00! I indicated that this was ridiculous and was told that I had to call our corporate telecom people and have a different corporate code put on my account.

I checked our internal web site for Employee purchases and there was a code that I was to call in to Rogers and have added. I called the indicated number and sat on hold for another 10 minutes explained the whole situation again then was told that I needed customer service and they would transfer me. Another 5 minutes on hold and I got through to a customer service rep. After explaining everything again for a fourth time, I was told that it,( the Bold) was not available yet. I corrected him saying that the web site and the email I got earlier this week said it was available today. I was finally quoted an upgrade price of 650.00, (after he checked the web site on his side) but he could knock off 25.00 and I could have the phone for 625.00. I said why the difference since the web site said I could get a month to month for 599.00 and I was informed that that was only for new subscribers.

I indicated that I would be better off cancelling my plan then signing up again and he said no, I would have to be off the network for 6 months before I qualified for that price! I explained that I was a longtime customer (I started with Cantel, their predecessor in 1995) and that the last upgrade that I did was Dec 1, 2006, when I switched to my Blackberry Pearl. I changed to the Blackberry Curve just over a year ago, but I bought my phone on EBay and not through them. I also indicated that I understood that the upgrade pricing was based on my monthly spend and the length I had been in my contract. Currently I pay just over 140.00 per month or my Blackberry voice and data plans, (I am gouged more because I was using BES) which is more than the average subscriber. I indicated that I had been with them since 1995 and that this showed no loyalty to me as a customer and that I started to inquire about cancelling both my phone and my wife’s phone (whose contract has expired). All of a sudden, I was given the option to speak to a rep in Customer Relations (another name for their Customer Retention Department) to see if they could find some other discounts I was eligible for. I had dealt with this group in the past and was fairly happy with what happened, so I said why not. The rep was making a note on my file, probably indicating that I was becoming irate and I was transferred. After another hold of 5 minutes the phone rang and I was speaking to another rep.

I went through my story again and indicated that I was trying to give them money and lock myself in for another term and that in all my conversations today so far I didn’t feel like they cared if I had my business. The rep looked at my account and the length of time I had been with them (since 2000 as Rogers), she also indicated that I was a Tier 5 upgrade candidate (which as I learned later should give me the highest discount on an upgrade), then quickly came back and said that she could offer me the phone at the new customer price of 399.00 and would that be acceptable? I said yes and that I wanted my Voice Plan and other features (wireless hot spot access etc) left as close as possible to what it currently was and that I wanted the new 30.00 6GB HSDPA Data Plan. I also confirmed that this plan would not allow me to use my BES server any longer. I decided that I could live without BES yesterday and it would be a sacrifice I had to make in order to have the ability to tether the Blackberry as a high speed modem. I can always change to a BES plan later if required. This was confirmed (and she tried to tell me that I wouldn’t need BES with the 6GB limit of bandwidth anyway, although I indicated that there was other reasons for using BES). I was told that my data plan would change at midnight. I again confirmed that this is when my BES server would no longer work and I asked when the new Bold would arrive. She guessed either Monday or Tuesday. I also mentioned my modem issues to the rep and she acknowledged that she knew that Canada’s Data Plans are third world when it comes to data offerings.

As I started writing this blog post (just after 11:30 AM), I got three activation emails for the accounts I have set up on the Blackberry Internet Service (BIS), again Rogers did not tell me accurate facts. A quick attempt to send an email via my BES account failed and it is no longer accessible from my Curve and that my new Data Plan is already in effect. In addition I can no longer surf the web without wiping and resetting the Curve. Hopefully my new Bold will show up tomorrow.

Shortly after my experience I found another person that had a similar experience to mine and posted his experience here; http://www.touchpodium.com/2008/08/02/adventures-in-3g-my-romp-with-rogers-upgrade-policies/

If you do have to deal with Rogers and you’re not getting the satisfaction you feel you deserve, threaten to cancel your account and deal with the Customer Retention team. Be sure not to abuse the group and treat whoever you deal with with respect. My understanding is that if you do push it they will flag your account and may not be so willing to help you.

After my dealings today I am tired and worn out. My wife who heard the whole process couldn’t believe that I had to jump through as many hoops as I had to just to get a fair price on an upgrade! I really hope that in the next three years I am in my contract, that we get a least another GSM wireless provider in Canada or that somehow the industry becomes more fair to it’s consumers. Cell companies in Canada just don’t seem to get it! If their plans were more fair and affordable, more people would purchase them and they would make more money from more users. Instead they all choose to try and gouge the few users that use the data services and make it price prohibitive for standard users. I had hoped that the iPhone release in Canada would have changed that, but even Apple was disgusted with Rogers approach and pulled the iPhones from their Canadian Apple Stores and web site. Rogers bowed somewhat with the 30.00 promotional plan, but that at the time of this writing is a temporary offering.

Updated August 21st to correct punctuation and streamline the wording.

Yeah I know I am slow – Anyone got some Joost invites?

Yes I know I am a little late but I am hoping that some nice soul out there has a Joost invite that I can get. In return I will make any invitations I get available to others! I have recently tried getting one from this site and am anxiously waiting. http://www.brajeshwar.com/2007/joost/#comment-9671 If you have one you can spare you can invite me at sysguy at sysguy dot com

What is joost.com? Joost is a new way of watching TV across the internet. Joost is an IP TV service with 150 channels of programming that you can watch on your computer (or if you are geeky like me) hooking a PC up to your TV. In early May joost gave beta testers unlimited invites to invite others (like gmail did originally). I never looked for invites as I thought like many of these web based things that it was US only. I found out today that joost is available world wide (although there are some restrictions on some programming).

So please, please if you have a spare invitation can you please send it my way? Thanks


This weekend and back to blogging

Well this is my first entry in a while, and I hope everyone had happy Easter. This weekend I decided to lay low and hardly check e-mail or my computer at all. But in the week and started and there’s all kinds of things to do. First off a new product arrived this morning for us to test and review. We’re trying and axis 207 W wireless web network camera. While these cameras are little expense, so far the preliminary tests show excellent picture quality and good wireless connectivity. We’re running into a few little glitches using them with Windows Vista. Keep an eye out for our full review of these wireless cameras in the very near future.

In other use news, some of you may have started seeing a strange error message on windows XP or Windows Vista over the last few days. The error message may come up as a data execution prevention error saying that a certain file was allocated into the wrong space. This is a result of the emergency patch push down by Microsoft last week to solve the animated cursor vulnerability. As a result several systems with Realtek audio cards would run into this in error. Microsoft is releasing a correction for this that will be available in windows update on Tuesday April 10th. I have seen this error so far on my media center PC. You can download the patch at a time from the Microsoft support site at http://support.Microsoft.com.

I’m still playing around with voice recognition in Windows Vista, in fact this is the second blog entry that I am using voice recognition for. So far it has been pretty good but I am finding it depends on the quality of your microphone.

Other than having a little cabin fever from not been able to golf, and being depressed about the forecast for more snow this week, the weekend was nice and relaxing.

That’s all for now, I will soon be posted some more, so keep coming back for new content.


New Moon Photos Posted

I have just posted three shots I took of the moon. All three were taken Sept 8th between 12 and 1:30 AM through my Celestron C6SGT and with my Canon Digital Rebel XT. I am pretty proud of these as this was the first time I used the Rebel XT on that scope. Two are taken just directly through the scope, (the top half and the bottom half images) and the other was taken using an Antares 6.3 Focal Reducer (Full moon shot). Have a look. They can be seen in my gallery at the following location.


Another New Hobby

Well I’m hooked…. I figured I needed another hobby other than always working on PCs and now I have it! I have jumped fully into astronomy..

I have always thought that I wanted a telescope (especially when celestial events were occuring ie lunar eclipses) and had actually taken a small stab at looking for one in a department stores the previous christmas.

Then in June of 2005 a co worker mentioned that a local surplus store had a number of Celestron 80GTL scopes on for an incredible price… I looked around the net, saw that it was an OK scope and went out and purchased one.

Things were great we used it the first night and the kids saw the rings of Saturn and the moon looked really cool. The more I used it the more I looked up on it. Then I saw that I could merge the scope to a computer and have my laptop control it. I found a local telescope retailer and started talking to him and bought my first book on astronomy (Nightwatch by Terence Dickson). I started into reading and going over what the author said about scopes and started getting aperture fever!

I soon went out and purchased a pair of Celestron 15X70 Skymaster Binoculars to scan the skies with as well.

About a month later I purchased a Skywatcher 200mm reflector scope on a Skywatcher HEq-5 mount. What a joy this scope was to use…

Well that didn’t last long, and because I also wanted to take those stunning astrophotos we see in Magazine’s and on the Nasa sites I started looking at a 127MM Mak Cas scope as a quick grab and go scope. Well the day came to pick up the Mak Cas and instead I walked out with a Skywatcher 80MM ED Refractor.

This scope is a beauty, wide field of view, good optics and portable to boot. (I also got an Alt Az mount to leave in my car).

Well it is now January of 2006 and I still have the same driving intensity (if not more) than I started with… One day I might get out and use everything!

I have learned that this one hobby were I can easily spend more than I did on my PC hobby and not be able to write off any of it!!!

I soon hope to have some early photos that I have taken (of the moon, some clusters and auroras) posted. I am still waiting for a few components to arrive (new ccd camera, filters and focuser), and then I will start getting right into this!

Keep your eyes here for more information.