ESC!Webs Blogitorials

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Toon Boom Studio Reviewed

Review of Toon Boom Studio was posted at macCompanion Magazine.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

RDC Licensing and the Mac

Unlike Windows users, Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection Client for the Mac requires the purchase of a license (a TS CAL) for the Mac user to connect to a Windows Server. Without one, a temporary license (90 days) will be assigned.

Unfortunately, whether you have a proper TS CAL or not, the license information on the Mac needs to be reset from time to time. And in the first version of Microsoft's client for OS X, this could be done easily by removing the contents of the folder:

/Users/Shared/Microsoft/RDC Crucial Server Information/

This process is detailed in Microsoft's Knowledge Base article, 187614 (link)

When the old licensing information is removed, the Remote Desktop Connection client software will request a new one. Simple as that.

BUT, with the 2.0 release of the RDC Client, something broke and removing the licenses from a Mac client no longer worked. So that meant continuing to use the, older, buggier 1.0 release OR ... well, there is no "or" because the client would just stop working with the error message, "You were disconnected from the Windows-based computer because of problems during the licensing protocol."

So what to do?

Well, it turns out that - for me anyway - all I needed to do was remove the client license as before, but then first run the 1.0 client to connect to the server. After the 1.0 client established the connection and set up the new license, the 2.0 client would continue working again. If you try to run the 2.0 client first, the connection will fail and you'll need to reset the license once again.

The downfall to this solution is that I need to keep the older client installed just for the odd occasion that I need to reset the license. The good news is that this process fixes, the less buggy 2.0 client too!


Friday, December 05, 2008

Dear Six Apart...

When Six Apart announced the acquisition of the people and technology of Pownce five days ago, the biggest surprise to me was the seeming lack of interest in the thing that most makes Pownce the vibrant and living entity that it is: it's community of users.

We may be a small community compared to other social networks, but, because we're given more than 140 letters to speak our mind, we're a passionate one. We're active, intelligent, technologically minded, and, yes, outspoken users when it comes to the things we care about the most.

And its these qualities that should make us a valuable community.

Large corporations pay millions of dollars to build targeted groups of users like we are and, yet, though we've been handed over on a silver platter, it appears as if there's no interest in what we have to bring to the table. To say that this perplexes us as a whole would be an understatement.

I can't help but draw comparisons to another ardent group of users I happen to belong to, and that's the Mac-using community.

A little over 10 years ago, Apple looked as if it was on the brink of collapse. Word spread quickly that companies like IBM or Sun might purchase them, and their stock was trading at abysmally low levels. Steve Jobs returned to help turn things around, but even he had to admit privately that the brand he worked so hard to build in his youth had a slim chance of recovery.

But throughout it all, Apple had something other companies in similar situations didn't: and that's a small, but vocal, user base that stood by the company during these hard times and helped to spur on the success it's achieved in recent years. As a result, to this day Apple may still only command a comparatively small portion of the home and business computer market in the eyes of some, but I think anyone would be hard-pressed to say that Apple and the Mac are not successful. And much, if not all, of that success is achieved because Apple understands and embraces its community of devoted users.

I would find it hard to believe that there aren't folks at Six Apart using a Mac. If you are, take a moment to ask yourself "why?" when other brands and platforms exist that can do just about everything you can do on that Mac.

When you discover the answer, you'll understand how we feel about Pownce.

More than "just" a social network, Pownce has spurred on the spirit of innovation in Leah S's Bownce, fandom in Carolyn S's and Kevin B's PownceCast podcast, and has even stoked the flames of love in the lives of folks like Ben B.

Pownce is more to us than a social network, it's our community.

While we're grateful to have been given the opportunity to retrieve our past messages, we'd also like to be given another chance to show we can be a valuable asset to Six Apart. We'd like to share our ideas for integration with and up-selling of Six Apart's other services to the Pownce community. We'd like to be given the chance to grow Pownce into something Six Apart can be proud of. In other words, we'd like to share the same passion and enthusiasm for Pownce's new parent company as we have for Pownce itself.

Give us 12 months, not 12 days ... and when the world sees that Pownce and its users were handed a reprieve by Six Apart, they may just decide to give Six Apart's Pownce another look.

You can't buy that kind of goodwill these days.


Michael Potter

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Sad Thing Is...

... that the police are still searching for him. How many dudes covered in tree branches are wandering around the streets of Manchester?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Spying On Myself From Above

Well, this may seem tame in light of the recent flurry of activity surrounding Google's new Street View option in Google Maps, but I have to admit a slight thrill seeing my car immortalized in this shot from space as it sits waiting dutifully for me at the train station.

What?? You think I'm actually going to tell you which one it is? Those who know can pick it out pretty easily...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dear Santa...

As an adult, when friends and family ask what you'd like for Christmas, I'm sure you give them a list of items along the lines of a DVD, book or CD. Something not too extravagant or expensive, but something you'd like to have nonetheless.

As I helped my 7 year old daughter with her Christmas list, however, I began thinking about how my "wish list" would take shape now ... as a grown-up with different fantasies of what we'd like the big guy in red to place under our tree.

So I sat down to write it out and here is the result, in no particular order:

Canon Digital Rebel XTi - Yes, I know, I have the original Digital Rebel, but this one is faster, lighter and a higher pixel count. Never mind that I had my first FILM SLR for over 20 years and I've only had the DR for three... I want this new one. In black please.

Mac Pro - Time to shove my last Windows desktop computer out the door. Though my primary computer is a MacBook Pro, I need a system to handle the constant influx of digital photos, video and audio files filling up my hard drive. In addition, I'd slap a couple 500GB drives in the empty bays to use for backup storage of my media as well as the occasional Virtual Machine for Linux, Windows and other testing purposes. Serving as my media center, scanning and printing station, the Mac Pro would be the ultimate desktop machine. And I would no longer have to feel bad about firing up my beige Windows computer next to my sleek and sexy MacBook Pro.

iPod Video (80 GB) - I've already blogged about this. Though now I'm leaning more heavily towards waiting for the long rumored -- but as yet unannounced -- widescreen model.

Sizzlers - I played with Sizzlers endlessly as a kid and I loved them. This year Mattel re-released them IN THE SAME PACKAGING as they had back in the 70s. The Juice Machine ("gas pump") even looks the same -- I should know ... I have one in my basement. And checking them out in Target last week, I noticed the illustrations on the box had not even changed. This is an awesome marketing scheme to hook and reel in people like me. And let me tell you ... it works.

2007 Mustang GT in "Grabber Orange" - It's a hot, fast, head snapping car with strong ties back to the original Pony cars of the late 60s and early 70s. Need I say more?

1967 Mustang - as seen at the Volo Auto Museum last weekend - Well, if I can't have the '07....

That's it. Not a big list by any means. Just a little something I'm sure the Elves can whip up during a long weekend ... although now, with Christmas only a few short days away, it may be more difficult for them, seeing as they are busy loading up the sleigh for all the good boys and girls throughout the world.

But as I used to think many years ago while I wrote out my list of childhood Christmas dreams, it never hurts to ask.

Right Santa?

Time to Play Catch Up OR Where the Heck Have I Been?

Sorry for abandoning this blog for a few weeks months. In all honesty, you should expect it to happen again. I'm just that way. Though my Dad has always been big on chronicling the important events in life, I've just never been one to do so myself.

I love to take photos, though I'm not big on video. I podcast, but don't vlog. I'm earned my BA in English, but actually writing? ... not so much.

So when I started this blog, I certainly didn't have big expectations for logging in every day and writing about the ennui and dreck of day to day life. For me, it's a matter of something just clicking that light bulb on in my head and then willing myself to commit the words to screen.

In the mean time, however, I've been keeping busy nonetheless.

Since my last blog entry, I've published another issue of ESC! Magazine, produced 3 new episodes of "ESC! Magazine's Coffee House to Go", started yet another podcast on November 13th entitled, "For Mac Eyes Only" which is a new weekly show for Mac users everywhere ... And I've conducted one more interview for "Across the Mic" (which will debut soon) and lined up my next interview for January by which time at least one more "Coffee House to Go" and three more "For Mac Eyes Only" will have aired.


So I've been busy, and blogging just hasn't entered into my sub-consciousness and for that, I apologize.

But if you've been wanting for content from me, there certainly is no shortage of it, so when the next dry spell hits -- and it will -- please check out some of my other projects and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What's Missing From iTV

Am I the only one who finds Apple's upcoming "iTV" box a bit underwhelming?

I think it's a great piece of technology for streaming content from your Mac or PC to your TV, but ... that's it then, isn't it?

For $299, however, I have to ask: Where's the recording capability? I want to time-shift the programming content I'm already paying for through my DirectTV subscription and, surprisingly, there are no inputs for pumping your satellite box into the "iTV." So, though it's tentatively called "iTV," I see no evidence of there being any "TV" involved other than the TV content you purchase through the iTunes Store. It's more of an AirPort Express for video.

Ideally, and perhaps this is the end goal we have not yet been made privy to, Apple would meld the "iTV" with a Mac mini and slam a tuner in as well, so that not only do we have the Mac with a big honkin' hard drive recording shows for us (as scheduled by our iCal calendar) and automatically placing them into our iTunes library, but then we'd have the outputs to drive it to our television as well.

Yes, of course this can be done we third party solutions, but we shouldn't have to do that, should we? Apple is known for elegant solutions, so why -- when they are sooooo close -- would Apple put on the brakes and stop short like that?

I guess this shows my age. I take issue with spending 99 cents per music track, $1.99 per episode of a TV show or even $9.99 for a movie when I can get that same content at higher quality, with more features, AND be able to rip that content to my computer or iPod if I so choose, getting the best of both worlds for the same or less money.

Well ... that's it then isn't it? Nothing like spending $1.99 per show and then streaming it to your $299 "iTV" box.

After reading comments on various message boards about the "iTV," I can see that it is a generational thing. People aged 28 - 30 and younger have no issues at all with downloadable content and don't seem to realize what they're giving up in exchange. Then again, I still note the lack of liner notes and extra album cover art that was lost in the transition from LP to CD.

Now ... where did I put my "walker"...?

Monday, September 11, 2006

"A Genuine College Degree - In just fifteen day"

This subject line just cracked me up.

Of course I never open spam -- and neither should you -- so I don't know how well the words in the rest of the e-mail are composed, but I can only imagine it reads something like this:

Yes! You too can get a college degree in only 15 day! And soon you'll be able to form sentences as well as we are too! (sic)


Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin Dead at 44

I just learned that a mere few hours ago Steve Irwin -- he of Crocodile Hunter fame and proprietor of the Australia Zoo -- was killed in a freak accident while filming a new documentary about stingrays.

It's reported that a ray lashed out with it's tail and pierced Mr. Irwin's left chest, killing him instantly.

For those who understood how much Steve Irwin did for the rehabilitation of animals and their habitat, they know the animal kingdom has lost a great ally today. His life's mission was to speak out for those who couldn't speak for themselves.

Far more important, however, is the tragic loss to his family. Wife Terri Irwin, 8 year old daughter Bindi and 3 year old Bob (Bob Bob). As a father to a 7-year-old, and someone who lost a parent and a young age, I think I understand the sorrow they must feel ... my family's hearts and deepest sympathies go out to his children at this time in their young lives. No one should have to endure the loss of a parent, especially children so young.

Watching Bindi in so many of Mr. Irwin's television specials, I could see that his love for animals (inherited from his own parents) had passed down to his young daughter as well. I hope that as she ages, she'll continue to use her gift in order to preserve his great work and carry on the family tradition for generations to come.

Steve Irwin will be missed.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I Would Like A...*

I had a small blessing of time the past two nights so, instead of doing things I'm supposed to like edit down the new episode of Coffee House to Go's Across the Mic, I, naturally, used this time to catch up on some of the video podcasts I've subscribed to but don't have an easy way to watch -- except by playing them back through the computer.

With this new MacBook Pro, I've got Front Row to watch the videos in -- and that's great -- but it sure would be nice to have an easy way to watch them on the go -- like during my commute where I listen to all the audio podcasts I subscribe to -- without hauling out the laptop.

So I've decided that -- until I get one (which I'm not likely to do using my own money mind you) -- from now on, when someone asks me what I want, I'm going to reply: "A video iPod."

It won't matter what the question is.

"What would you like for Christmas?"

"A video iPod."

"What would you like for your birthday?"

"A video iPod."

"What would you like for dinner tonight?"

"A video iPod."

Well ... you get the idea.

I figure at some point people will get so sick of me responding, "A video iPod" that eventually I'll get one just to shut me the hell up.

Of course there are other ways I might get one. Did you know that Adam Christiansen of the MacCast was gifted a video iPod by one of his listeners?

Yes, that's right!

If you've been a loyal reader of the free PDF edition of ESC! Magazine or you listen to my free podcast, Coffee House to Go and have always felt like you wanted to contribute something to help out ... well, nobody's saying you have to contribute cash. Heck NO! Think of all the extra time I'll have to devote to both of my projects that you enjoy so much if I were able to watch my video podcasts on the go!

So if you are so inclined to help out, please don't be afraid to ask, "What can I contribute to the cause?"

I might just answer, "A video iPod. Uh ... in black. Please."

* If you feel this reads as a "Oh, poor pitiful me, I don't have a video iPod while millions of kids are starving and homeless around the world ..." Well, you'd be right!

In all seriousness though -- and I hope you understand today's post was made in jest ... err, mostly -- if you are inclined to do something to help our efforts here at ESC!Webs, we'd be just as grateful if you let us know how much you enjoy our projects and, instead of sending cash our way, made a donation of any amount to your favorite charity and drop us a postcard to let us know.

We all know there are folks out there who need our help much more than you ... *sigh* okay, fine! ... or I ... need a video iPod. Even if it's in black.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Is This How They Handle Things in California?

Since I'm boycotting the local Subway because ... well, because the guy who runs it is a jerk, I popped up Google Maps to search for other local fast food joints.

Imagine my surprise when THIS came up:

I realize that strays and homeless animals can be a problem, but is this really the solution?

After all, I'm hungry, but not THAT hungry!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Win for Bloggers Journalists

Finally some sanity in our courts:

"We can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish 'legitimate' from 'illegitimate' news. Any attempt by courts to draw such a distinction would imperil a fundamental purpose of the First Amendment, which is to identify the best, most important, and most valuable ideas not by any sociological or economic formula, rule of law, or process of government, but through the rough and tumble competition of the memetic marketplace."

Monday, April 10, 2006

Why They're Not Called "Catpads"

Our cat, Alexi, has always been really interested in the computer -- even as a kitten. Well, if not the computer itself, then the act of interfering with our USE of the computer.

Most of the time he'll perch up on the back of my chair as I work or keep my lap warm in winter, but once in a while he just HAS to get on the desk and wend his way around my mouse and keyboard and, ultimately, block my view of the screen.

Today I'd had enough and said, "Look cat, if you want to work on the computer, let's work on the computer" and I took his paw to my laptop's trackpad and tried to make the mouse cursor move on screen. To my amazement it didn't work.

Without getting too technical, a trackpad works -- not by pressure or heat -- but by "electrical capacitance." Essentially there's a grid of wires that pass a charge through your finger so that when your finger passes over them, it can measure where on the grid your finger is located and transfer that information to the computer. That's the gist anyway.

But Alexi's paw didn't allow for this to happen!

Now, because the trackpad relies on this current to be able to pass through your finger, it won't work if you have gloves on or try to use a pen cap on it. Since Alexi has long hair on his paws, I carefully pushed it aside and made sure his paw pads (toes) touched the pad directly. Still nothing.

By now he was getting quite annoyed with me so I let him down, but my question remains: Why can't a cat use a laptop's trackpad?!?

Of course YOUR question still remains as well: "Just how on earth did I manage to get a cat to even attempt to use a trackpad?"

Well, let's just say I'm glad no one was video taping it.

Now ... where's the Bactine?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Dumb Things Corporations Tell Us #3

Today I set out to replace a new clothes washer because our previous one gave up the ghost and, as all things are in this throwaway society, it will cost more than a brand new one to get it fixed. Silly me for not paying the "protection" money ... uh, er, buying the extended "warranty."

Anyway, I went to Sears and found a great deal on one of their many Kenmore (see Whirlpool) models. Upon check out, there was a slight glitch in the process in that the register told the clerk to call a number, verify it was me making the purchase and then get an approval code.

Okay. I've worked retail and I know the drill. This is a major purchase so the credit card company is probably just verifying it's me.

And that, indeed, appeared to be the case because the purchase went through at that point without further complication.

Until I went to PetSmart and my card was flat out denied. After paying with another card, I went out to the car and immediately called Chase to find out what the deal was.

It turns out that because I bought gas the same day I purchased the clothes washer, their "security" system was triggered and flagged the card as potentially stolen. So they froze it.

Here's where it gets dumb.

The "Chase representative" on the other end of the conversation with a customer who was obviously upset told me the following:

1) The fact that I bought gas before buying the washer is what triggered the alert.

Right. I can verify that it's entirely possible to use the card to drive all the way to Minneasota, blow a gob of cash at the Mall of America and then drive home without ONE security alerty being triggered. (Because we all know the first place a thief would NEVER go is the Mall of America!) BUT if I buy gas for MY car at the same gas station I ALWAYS go to and then buy a washing machine and have it delivered to MY home ... well, that's the FIRST thing a card thief would do. Of COURSE!

2) The purchase at Sears did not match my normal purchasing patterns.

Well DUH! It's a washing machine! WHO buys washers as part of their normal pattern?

3) I didn't TELL them I was going to make a purchase of this size.

I'm sorry, but where in my customer agreement does it say that I need to ask permission before using my credit card? Okay, I'll put it in writing here for them. Please Chase Bank? May I pleeeeeeease buy a new washing machine to replace my old one? I PROMISE I'll pay you back ... I'll use my allowance! Really!

So there you have it. I should point out that it's not just Chase who does this. I had the exact same "gas station" trigger pulled on my CitiBank card a number of years back.

Hmm. I wonder if CitiBank noticed I stopped using their card then? Probabaly not.

Well you know my ol' saying. Screw me once ... well, just screw me once and I never use your service again.