HP Touchpad App Catalog issue

Just an update to the app catalog issue. To recap, I was getting an error message in the App Catalog that said “The action could not be completed. Try again later” when I tried to get in to the app catalog. This persested for a few days (longer than conventional wisdom stated which had it pegged at 24 hours.). But now after about five days into it, the App catalog seems stable and relaible. The issue persisted for me for about four days.

I have three possible theories on what could have resolved this issue:

1) It took a while to get registed with HP (which is what the other folks mentioned saying there was a 24 hour waiting period.) The delay may be attributed to the hugely increased volume of Touchpads sold.
2) The app catalog itself was just overwhelmed with new users.
3) One other thing that happened (although I don’t think this was the resolution, but I’m throwing this out there in the name of computer science) is that I ran the battery down completely and then recharged. It was after this recharge that I noticed the App Catalog working correctly.

Hopefully this will be useful to someone.

Good luck! Feel free to discuss anything you may have experienced here. I’d love to hear if anyone has a similar experience.

My $100 HP Touchpad experience

I was fortunate enough to get in on the $100 HP Touchpad experience.  I got it yesterday an played around with it most of last night.

My experienced is mixed.  While I like the look and feel of the device (despite it’s plactic back), the hardware seems woefully under powered.  Even out of the box, launching things  like the configuration control panel and the wi-fi settings manager seem pokey.  But I am jumping way ahead of the experience at this point…

When I received it I was impressed by the packaging.  It looked like HP had, by all accounts, taken a cue from Apple’s legendary packaging team.  It was slick and well thought out and the touchpad was well presented.

Once the box was opened, the instructions in the box said to fully charge the Touchpad before use.  Really?  It couldn’t come mostly charged like the iPad so I can use this puppy right way?  So I charged it for a couple of hours and fired it up.

First it asked me for language and country and then wanted to connect to my wi-fi.  Normally this would not be an issue, but as I MAC address filter my wifi network, I had to disable the MAC address filtering and then  get it on my WPA2 secured network.  The, after agreeing to the terms of service, it asked me for my webOS account credentials or to create a webOS account.  The final step was to agree to the Google terms of service.  One that was done it was up and running.

The first thing I tried was a simple web search.  It worked well, but seemed a little pokey.  Then I went to the “apps” section and went to the “apps catalog>”  This is where the trouble began.  Almost immediately I was greeted with a message “The action could not be completed. Try again later.”  Great.  So I try again.  And again.  And again.  Like Pavlov’s dog I keep hiting it for a while.  So I turn to the internet to see if anyone else had this issue.  Yes…yes, they do.  Conventional wisdom (and the forums) say a 24 hour wait is customary for this issue to resolve itself, so I decided to wait.  The suddenly it worked!

I downloaded half a dozen apps to get started and to see what it could do.  I downloaded Angry Birds, iheartradio.com, Pandora, USA Today and a few others.  Then I exited out of the App Catalog to try these new found treasures.  Suddenly I realize a couple of apps I forgot.  So I went to go back into the App Catalog and was again greeted by the “The action could not be completed. Try again later” message.

Again I tried and try again and eventually I did get in.  So something is very flakey with the app catalog that I will need to look into if it doesn’t resolve itself by tomorrow.

The Touchpad hardware seems  slow.  One I dig into it more, there are some tweaks I am going to try to getting it running a little better.  IBut out of the box and with no other apps running it takes 15-20 seconds to even open the settings “app.”  I do like the “cards” that it opens each browser/app in.  I am also trying to figure out how to customize it a bit more.

One annoyance with the App Catalog is that there seems not to be a way to apply a filter so only the touchpad apps show.  I mistakenly downloaded a few non-Touchpad apps and quickly deleted them.  Unlike the iPad, which allows a user it increase the size of iPhone apps, the Touchpad does not have a method of taking advantage of the larger screen size for webOS phone apps.  This is a  big oversite in my opinion.

The selection of apps seems satisfactory, but I am hopefull that the rumors of a android emulator come try and this is developed sooner rather than later.  If so, this will be a huge boon to the HP Touchpad crowd.

Finally, I hope HP learns something from this debacle.  I hope they learn that they cannot compete with Apple with a new device at the same (or close) price point.  Had HP introduced the Touchpad at $199 and made the difference up in the App Catalog, they might have had a chance against the iPad.  It’s not that other companies cannot compete with Apple, it’s just that they cannot compete at that price point with Apple.  Any competition will need to come in sub-$200 and make up any losses in the App marketplace.

Like Marlon Brando, the HP Touchpad could have been a contender.  But it wasn’t really given a chance, and at $599 market entry point, it was fighting with one arm behind it’s back.  May HP will revisit the Touchpad and rethink their market strategy and their decision to kill off the Touchpad.  I hope so.  Because at first blush, it looks pretty decent.

The Exorcist. A cautionary tale in high expectations and disappointment.

The Exorcist.

Just the name alone is enough to make some shutter. I head read the reviews and hear the stories. “The scariest movie of all time!” IMDB’s top review starts out “The Exorcist is the best horror film ever made”. RottenTomatos composite critic reviews and user reviews are 84% and 83% like it respectively. IGN, best-horror-movies.com, and about.com (as well as a slew of others) rank this as the top horror movie of all time.

So, as a horror film fan, I have desperately wanted to see this film for quite a while and must say I was a little embarrassed that my horror film resume did not include this classic. I had been waiting to watch it with someone mostly. I asked friends and family. All refused. I knew this film was going to be great! Nobody will even watch this thing with me. It must be bad!

And so “The Exorcist” remained unwatched in my instant streaming Netflix queue. Where it waited and waited and waited.

Until Saturday night. I could wait no longer. I queued it up and started watching. I was surprised about how much of the story I had already knew. But that was really the only suprise I would turn out to have this film. It was kind of slow and dull. I was getting more frustrated as the film went on. I was increasingly disappointed. Surely this wasn’t all there was, right? Am I missing something? I turned out the lights to perhaps increase the tension. Nothing.

In the end, I finished watching the movie a very disappointed little camper. This was not the terrifying movie I had hoped for. On the contrary, the whole experience was quite a let down. The charcters were wooden, the writer never seemed to be sure where he was going with the plot, there were way to many loose ends, and overall the movie was sloppy. But in the end, the worst sin this movie committed was that it just plain wasn’t scary. And I don’t require much from horror movies.  I’ve seen some real stinker.  (Nay!  I have sought the stinkers out.  I can enjoy a bad horror movie as much as a good one.  I’m looking at you, Troll 2.)  But I had built this movie so much in my mind that I don’t think this movie would ever have lived up to my expectations. But frankly this didn’t even come close.

But I will say that, although I never really eat pea soup befoire, I certainly won’t now.

Kids, save your money. Go see The Ring, or Halloween, or Alien. Or any slew of much better movied. The Exorcist makes for better ledgend than it does actual horror.

Batch file magic. Part 1.

One piece of software we use is called PowerTools for Windows (PTW.)  Honestly, I have no idea what this software does.  Something about electrical engineering.  But it doesn’t really matter.  What is important for my purposes here is that it uses a licensing program called NetHASP.  NetHASP monitors a USB key and hands out the licenses for clients as necessary and keeps track of them as they are used and returned.

It also doesn’t work very well.

On occasion, it fails to release a license.  In order for it to start working again the NetHASP service needs to be stop and restarted.  This puts a burden on me and makes it inconvenient for the end user as they must stop or postpone working until I can find time to log in to the server and restart the server.  And if I happen to be on the road or in a place I can’t get to a PC to remote into the server, then that inconvenience turns into a real loss in dollars, this is not a good situation.

Another solution needed to be put in place.

So I developed a plan to use batch files and the task schedule built into Windows server to allow the end user to restart the service themself.

In general, it works like this:

  1. The end user has a batch file that creates a simple text file withing a network share.
  2. Task manager runs a batch file every five minutes that looks to the file created on that network share
  3. If the file is found, it restarts the service and deletes the text file.

The first part is to put a batch file on the end user’s pc that creates a text file on a server share.  For this, I do make a batch file something like this:

 echo Hello world! >> \\server\networkshare\nethasp.txt”

The on the server I create a batch file that looks for the output text file from the previous batch file.

if exist \\server\networkshare\nethasp.txt goto process_it
    echo The file nethasp.txt does not exist
    exit /b
:process_it
net stop “HASP Loader”
echo “HASP Loader Stopped”
net start “HASP Loader”
echo “Hasp Loader Started”
del \\server\networkshare\nethasp.txt

 

Then on the server, I set up a scheduled task to run the task once every five minutes:

task1

 

task2

 

task3

Once set up, the schedules looks for the file every five minutes and if it finds the trigger file, it restarts the service on the server for the end user.

Pretty sneaky, eh?

 

 

AmbiScience Zen Master Bundle App

One of my favorite Zen apps is AmbiScience’s Zen Master Bundle (now called Pure Meditation Premium, but I’m apparently “old school.”)  The purpose of this app is provide sound for meditation.  It is an aid to help focus the mind and block out external sound.

IMG_0038The version I have has twenty-four different sound patterns including such sounds as “Fire Opal”, “Moonstone”, and my personal favorite “The Android’s Dream.”  (This one always reminds me of Blade Runner, which I then have to put that out of my mind, but I don’t mind being reminded about that movie. 😉 )

Additionally there is a built-in alarm and a built-in shut off timer.

The other “half” of the app I have is an “entrainment” portion.  I am new to this, but my understanding is the this “brain entrainment” essentially causes the brain waves to essentially all in to lock-step with an audio or visual pattern (in the case of this app, audio.)  This can reportedly aid with sleeping problems and meditation.

The app can be used with either headphones or the built-in iPhone speakers.  However, in the case of the entrainment feature, some of the sound patternes are specifically designed to be used with either the headphones or speakers only the speakers.

Now there are those that have mentioned to me that this type of aid can be detrimental to the practice of mediation.  I disagree.  I see it as just another focus point, not unlike a candle or incense.

Overall, the app is quite functional and worth the small price for the mediation aid.

Netflix and the price increase.

Recently Netflix dropped a bomb an notified it’s users that it would be increasing their prices quite dramatically for the same service the customers were already getting.  As a “long-time” Netflix customer, I was initially taken back by this.  I am a cheap skate so I get the streaming Netflix and one DVD out at a time for $9.99 per month.  Netflix broke the plan down as $7.99 per month for streaming and $2.00 extra for the one DVD out at a time.

Under the new plan, I will pay $7.99 per month for streaming and $7.99 for one DVD out at a time.  So my price will go from $9.99 per month to $15.98 per month.  That a 62% increase in price.  At first I was livid and angry.  I’m not one to begrudge someone making a profit, but a 62% inrease?!?  I was going to cancel my account.  I was going to show them!!!

But as I got to thinking about it, $2.00 per month is extremely cheap for sending DVDs through the mail.  Almost too cheap.  Even with bulk rates, the postage back and forth between the distribution centers and the end user can easily exceed $2.00 per month for even a moderate user.  So I think a price increase from $2.00 is justified.  While going from $2.00 to $7.99 may be a bitter pill to swallow, it makes sense that Netflix would raise their prices.  And really, for the content and flexibility they provide to watch movies, I still think it is a great value.  But time will tell.  I think I will keep closer track of how many DVDs I watch a month.  I think it falls below five a month, Nextflix DVDs and I will be parting ways.

Galaxy Tab (android) VPN for Cisco

It’s been a while since I wrote on this, but it seems like there has been quite a bit of progress on this front.  I no longer have a Galaxy Tab, so I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this information, but it sounds like promising news.  Anyway, check this out: https://supportforums.cisco.com/thread/2012285 

Sounds like there is a new Cisco AnyConnect client for Samsung devices in the android marketpace.

Can any verify this?  How does it work?

NetApp and VMWare

I am currently changing my network over to a virtualized enviroment running on a NetApp storage system.  Being fairly inexperienced to virtulization, I have have to admit I am a little nervous about the whole project.  I am going to be running VMWare vSphere 4 and then have about six virtualized Windows Server 2008 R2 running on them.  I’m actiually having two physical server and using vmotion for high availability andto allow me to work on on server and still keep my users up and running.

I had a tough time deciding between NetApp’s storage solution and the HP Lefthand storage solution.  The deciding factor was mostly financial as we got the biggest bang for the buck with NetApp.  It seemed like every little feature we wanted came with an additional price tag.  The NetApp solution seemed all inclusive and my past experience with HP has been that there is always price-creep.  (Meaning that the price always starts out at one level and then as the project progresses, additional features (and additional cost) are always added on.)

So we are setting up three VMWare/NetApp solutions.  One in the Financial HQ, one in the Operational HQ, and one in a secure off-site lovcation for DR purposes.  The data from both HQ’s will be pushed to the DR site using the NetApp snapmirror software.

To get beefed up on VMWare VSphere, I am reading three books right now: VMWare VSphere for Dummies, Mastering VMWare VSphere, and VMWare cSphere 4 Administation.  I’m also doing the course work on NetApp’s website to learn that part of this project.  Bleh!  Feels like I’m back in college.

The systems weren’t cheap, but with the feature set, the processing and storage capability, and the flexibility that each system has should allow us to stay with this set up for quite some time to come.

Microsoft Windows 7 Security

Recently I have been fighting with Windows 7 and trying to find a way to somehow hide the “Show Characters” on wireless connections. 

Due to some software restrictions, we need to allow many of our users to have local administrator access to their machines.  This presents an issue (well, many of them actually, but I’m just going to focus on the one here) because the end user can easily discover the wireless PSK password (as local adminstrator)on wireless machines simply by checking the “Show Characters” box.  Not only can they, they did.  It was only a short time before non-authorized devices started showing up on the network.

Now I understand that WPA/PSK is not the most secure, and the move to WPA2 was overdue and a good security move.  But it seems to me that since I am the network admin, I should make the decisions as to the network security, not Redmond.  Intentionally making something less secure to force a change to something more secure seems myoptic at best.

Microsoft should give administrators the tools necesary to prevent end users that have local administrator rights from revealing the wireless PSK.

That said, I now have installed a new IAS instance and have end-users authenticating against that to get on the Wi-Fi via WPA2.  It is much more secure, but I would have liked the option of changing over when I decided it was time and in a more controlled manner than what I was required to do because of this (IMHO) security flaw in Windows 7.

Sqarespace is a heartless bitch….

Well, I was thinking about switching over to another blogger that didn’t cost $12/month (since nobody really reads this anyways) but Lo and Behold, you can’t easily export from Squarespace to something like, oh I don’t know, Blogger….

Now there is a way to export a “snapshot” of the blog into a compressed gz archive that contains a single XML like, but it is about as useful as screendoors on a submarine.

Even the help section on Squarespace in this regard amounts to a basic “Screw you!”

The best I could come up with is some ancient looking XLM conversion page (http://wordpress2blogger.appspot.com/) that doesn’t seem to work for anyone.

So apparantly Squarespace is like the Hotel California of blogging services.  Well, at least it game me something to write about.  🙂

Okay Squarespace…you win this one…but I’ll show you!!