I hereby give myself permission to blog

My Twitter friend Brett tweeted something that I’ve been feeling and struggling with for months and months now. Basically, that there are times where I want to say something “out loud” to my social network, but I know I’ll need more than the 140 characters that will fit in a tweet, but it doesn’t feel large enough to blog about. I end up just “eating” the thought and it never escapes my head, but it’ll bother me for days, because of that need to get it out.

So, I’d like to try a little experiment. I’m giving myself “permission” to write those thoughts out as quick, short little blog entries. I have no idea what’ll happen, but I’ve sat on my hands long enough and it’s time for a change.

Transitioning to a new 4096-bit RSA GPG key

@pleia2 reminded me that I ought to generate a new GPG key, given the recent advances in cryptography, etc. So, I just did. The new key’s fingerprint is:

pub   4096R/8D9740AA 2011-05-18
      Key fingerprint = C535 6302 1171 987D 738E  BFD8 2B1A B2E1 8D97 40AA

My old key’s fingerprint:

pub   1024D/EE812431 2004-08-27
      Key fingerprint = 0B12 F42F 2263 0444 B147  2C66 3587 2D37 EE81 2431

Read the full text of my GPG key transition statement (signed by my old and new keys).

White chocolate and red liquorice are just wrong

These are wrong

Did you know that there’s no such thing as “white chocolate” or “red liquorice”? No, really …

Maybe sure you’re thinking, “But I’ve had white chocolate, and I’ve had red liquorice. What do you mean there’s no such thing?” What I really mean is: these names are misnomers.

“White chocolate” isn’t really chocolate. “Red liquorice” contains no liquorice.

Of course, these foods probably got their names because it was easier to refer to them by these names than something more accurate. Or, perhaps it was a clever act of marketing. Still, I’m doing my part by spreading the word about these inaccuracies.

Know of any common misnomers, things that people call by a certain name, which is actually technically inaccurate? Let me know by leaving a comment. Thanks!

Android USB tethering on Mac OS X

If you’ve got an Android-based phone, and want to do simple USB-based tethering on your Mac, you will find this guide useful. For reference, I performed this with the following equipment:

  • Samsung Captivate on at&t running custom Cognition 4.1.1 ROM.
  • MacOS X 10.6.6

The standard disclaimers apply here: follow these instructions at your own risk. This may void your warranty. Discontinue use if a rash develops.

Getting started: Preparing Android

All we need to do on Android is turn on “USB debugging” – do NOT fiddle with any of the “USB tethering” options or anything else. So, go into Settings > Applications > Development, and check the box next to “USB debugging.”

Android screenshots

After turning on “USB debugging” connect the device to your Mac using the USB cable.

Next, configure the Mac

After connecting the USB cable, your Mac should pop up a window saying that a device “SAMSUNG_Android” needs to be configured, like this:

Mac screenshot

This is a good sign. Click the “Network Preferences…” button, and find that device in your System Preferences’s “Network” section, which should look something like this:

Mac screenshot 1

The first thing to do is enter the values for this screen. Use the following settings:

Mac screenshot 2
  • Telephone Number: *99#
  • Account Name: wap@cingulargprs.com
  • Password: cingular1

Next, click on the “Advanced…” button towards the bottom right of the window. That should bring you to a screen that looks like this:

Mac screenshot 3

First, click on “Generic” and select “Samsung” for the vendor. Next, click on “Dialup” and select “GPRS (GSM/3G)” for the model. Enter in “wap.cingular” for the APN. Leave the CID as “1″ which is the default. When everything is done, the window should now look like this:

Mac screenshot 4

Once that’s done, click “OK” which should bring you back to the previous screen. Next, click the “Apply” button to save all these settings.

Lets try connecting

At this point, you’re ready to try tethering! Go ahead and click on that “Connect” button. You should now see something like this:

Mac screenshot 5

If everything goes well, after 5-10 seconds, it should change to something that looks like this:

Mac screenshot 6

That’s it, now you’re tethered

Not terribly painful, no goofy software installation needed and hoops to jump through. And, here’s a speedtest for folks who are curious:

Speedtest

3.4 Mbit/s down, and 330 Kbit/s up on a 400ms ping isn’t fantastic, but it’s more than adequate for getting work done while out and about.

I hope you’ve found this guide useful and are happily tethered now. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to share them in the comments below!

Added on 2012-11-20: A reader named Art emailed me about HoRNDIS: a USB tethering driver for MacOS X. This may be useful for folks who are still interested in USB tethering on OSX.

The Price is Right can lead to success

As a freelancer, one of your business tasks is to determine your pricing. It’s amazing how hard this actually turns out to be for new business owners, myself included, and how often we get this totally wrong.

When business is slow, or you’re starting up and trying to grow, my first thought was, “If I lower prices, I’ll get more business, and I’ll be able to make the money I need to survive.” This seemed pretty reasonable, at first glance. Sure, you might pick up a bunch of customers, which means working more hours (for less money!) and still not making enough. How did I go wrong?

The Price Is Right

Pricing yourself right isn’t necessarily figuring out the lowest price you need to offer to get the most customers. Matter of fact, as a whole we’re pretty awful at judging the value of things: so much so, that a whole game show was created around this fact that has run successfully since the 1950s!

Sometimes, pricing yourself too low will only cause your downward spiral into failure. The challenge is to identify just the right price that will allow your business to thrive, and that can mean setting it much higher than you thought was appropriate and higher than you’re probably comfortable with.

Juli Monroe at 1to1discovery.com tells a story about how setting the right rate by raising your prices could actually lead to the path of business success. (Full disclosure: I may have been the client she spoke to a few days ago. Maybe. :-) )

Do you own your own business, or do freelancing work? How did you set your rates? Did you struggle like I am in the beginning? How did you overcome this and get to the right rate — or, are you still struggling? Share your story with me in the comments!

Can 2011 be the year for personal grid computing?

I just posted a thought as a tweet, but the more I think about it, the more I hope it actually becomes a reality. Here it is:

http://twitter.com/dossy/status/29659038908157953

Sure, I guess this is pie-in-the-sky dreaming, but it makes total sense: combine fast storage with its own dedicated processor for off-loading of data-oriented tasks. 128GB or 256GB of solid-state disk (SSD) is becoming more and more affordable and the form-factor is tiny, rugged, and is energy-efficient. It already uses an industry-standard, high speed (3.0 Gbps) SATA interface. Modern, energy-efficient mobile CPUs like the 1 GHz Snapdragon are readily available.

How much additional engineering would it require to produce a SSD coupled with such a CPU and an API for pushing executables from a host machine down to the SSD which would run them? Even a design as simple as “create a partition on the SSD with a specific partition-type in a size of your choosing, and write binaries that will execute on the local CPU.” You’d write or use a small embedded OS that would run on the CPU, consume and produce data to the SSD volume, which could then be interacted with by a host machine attached to the device.

In a sense, I guess this is what some specialized data warehouse companies have already done, but this would be an economical, off-the-shelf product that individual consumers could use to accelerate data processing for their own personal needs. It would mark the change in the pendulum swing back from “the cloud” to “the personal computer.” It would, basically, usher in another new age of computing.

I’m sure most people who are still trying to wrap their heads around “the cloud” won’t understand why this would be such a dramatic shift, but I know there’s some visionaries out there who will read this and either totally understand, or already are working towards making this idea a reality. I’d like to be part of, and even perhaps have the opportunity to pioneer it. But, it’s not something I can do alone … maybe someone can introduce me to the right people to work with? Who knows … it’s a small world.

But for now, it’s back to work for me …

This is my flavor of crazy …

So, last night I was pretty deep in the pit of despair. So stressed out, that I was nauseous. What do I do about it?

Instead of sleeping, I stayed up and reworked the design for my blog. I actually think it looks fairly decent, now.

screenshot.png

I do love WordPress and how simple it can be to just change out the look and feel of your site with a theme refresh.

Want a custom WordPress theme for your site? I offer such services for a reasonable price. Just ask!

I need more of my time to be billable

I’m feeling really beat right now, and I really want to post something to the blog, but I just don’t have it in me.

I just wish more of the time I spent “doing stuff” was billable. I’m working like crazy, but the cash-flow just isn’t enough. What the hell am I doing wrong?

I don’t want to give up on my goal of finally running Panoptic full-time, but these bills are just killing me.

I just don’t know what to do any more …

The accent meme

Here’s a meme I just couldn’t resist … thanks, Rich.

Here’s the idea: record yourself saying the following things and answering the following questions. Then compare your accent with your friends. Fun for all! :)

Questions:

  • Your name and/or username
  • Where you’re from
  • The following words: Aunt, Roof, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting Image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught, Orange, Coffee, Direction, Naturally, Aluminium, Herbs.
  • What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house? [on the night before Halloween?]
  • What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
  • What do you call gym shoes?
  • What do you say to address a group of people?
  • What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
  • What do you call your grandparents?
  • What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
  • What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
  • What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

And, here’s my video:

Time lapse of December 26-27, 2010, snow storm

Michael Black set up his camera to take a photo every 5 minutes through the snow storm we received in the northeast on December 26-27, 2010, and assembled it into a really neat time-lapse video. Enjoy!

December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse from Michael Black on Vimeo.