Archive for August, 2010

labyrinthine circuit board lines

Sometimes the most useful tools are not the most elaborate tools.  So it is with one of my favorite little software programs ever.

I do a lot of remote work on our computers…our file server, HTPC, and kitchen pc all do not have a normal keyboard and mouse, and the file server doesn’t even have a monitor.  This means I spend a lot of time remotely controlling these computers when it’s time for updates or whatnot.

One of my biggest frustrations is not being able to see what the hard drive light is doing.  Did the button I just clicked do anything?  Why’s the computer so slow?  Is something running in the background?  Enter one of my favorite tools, DiskLED.

DiskLED is a simple little program that puts a flashing icon down in the system tray.  You can set it to use any number of system variables, but I just like the basic on/off of the hard drive light:

Incredibly useful and I have it on all of my pcs I use remotely.  I even put it on PC’s I’m troubleshooting so I don’t have to strain to see the case.  Highly recommended.  Best part?  It’s FREE!

http://www.sepago.de/e/research-development/downloads/diskled

Yes, I have a new favorite Star Trek: TNG Episode.  And would you believe that it involves “The Q”?  Formerly one of my least favorite characters and the one person who would ruin an episode for me flew to the other end of the spectrum and became my favorite.  Basically, Q becomes human as a punishment and is forced to experience being human for the first time.  However, the acting is so fantastic that I found myself laughing the whole episode.  So ironic that a dislike from season 1 and 2 is now one of my top episodes.  Well done, TNG.  Well done.

I haven’t written much throughout watching Season 2 of Star Trek: TNG but that’s mainly because there were no specific earth shattering ideas to discuss.  However, Season 2 stood head and shoulders above Season 1…plots started to thicken, character dynamics improved, and the stories got better and better.  They also touched on some deep philosophies, like determining whether Data had a soul (“Measure of a Man”) and emphasizing the value of life, no matter how different.  Here’s some summary points.

Likes:

  • Geordi is still my favorite, and it’s nice to see him have a defined role, a niche.  He’s perfect for the part of engineer.
  • Worf is the perfect security officer.  Nuff said.
  • Ensign Crusher is much less annoying.
  • I was a huge fan of Dr. Pulaski (and I discovered the actress who played her, Diana Muldaur, also played key roles in a couple episodes of the original series…too cool).  Though with her only playing one season, let me tell you how hard it was to find a picture of the season 2 cast…
  • New set…10 Forward bar with Whoopi added a very valuable dynamic

Dislikes:

  • The Q still creeps me out
  • The Borg REALLY creeps me out
  • The last episode of the season was an epic fail.  The entire thing was made up from scenes of previous episodes, which just looks lazy.

To be fair, I did some research on the wiki to determine why the last episode was such a cop out and turns out it was due to a writers strike.  Ah, well.  Would have been nice to see them finish strong.

As a side note, I’ve watched one episode of Season 3 and it’s definitely very good and another step up…but Dr. Crusher is back and acting as a mom to Wesley.  It’s annoying.  I sure hope she gets better…

Let me start out by saying this post is in no way influenced by Carbonite itself.  I’m not getting anything for writing this, and chances are they’ll never see it.  Nevertheless, I feel the need to write it.

My mother needed a new laptop and who else would she enlist to help but her geek son.  Like most tech savy sons, I’ve been acting as her IT guy since about the 6th grade and continue to provide her support as needed (though the calls have dropped as she admittadly is getting a little techy herself…I’m so proud!).  She’s coming to visit this weekend and decided it’d be a great time for me to be able to set up a new laptop for her and transfer her files.

We landed a deal at Costco on Tuesday night on a Dell laptop with a Core-i3…better price than I’d seen and she approved the purchase.  I wanted to have it all set up for her when she got here but there was one problem: she’s in Indiana, I’m in Arizona.  That’s where Carbonite steps in.

She purchased a subscription to Carbonite a while back all on her own…she heard the commercials and decided she needed all her pictures (among other things) backed up.  She even set it up on her own and it’s been backing up ever since.  So when it came time to set up her laptop I decided to check it out and see if it could shorten the distance between machines.

With her permission, I logged into her online account, told it I was switching computers, picked the files I wanted to restore (some of them were specific to her old laptop) and clicked “Restore”.  Software installed, account switched over, and the files started downloading to the new locations I’d set up.  It was that easy!  Better yet, Carbonite freezes the backup when you start restoring, which means I didn’t have to worry about my mom’s old laptop starting to backup files while I was in the middle of it.

In summary, I was blown away at how easy it was to use while still providing access to advanced features like file versioning and individual file selection.  At $54.95 a year for unlimited space, it really is a bargain…after all, isn’t your data worth $5 a month? 🙂

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