Circuit Board Geeking Back in Vogue?

I remember my first year of college when I took AC/DC Fundamentals, and Circuitboard Design. Capacitors, resistors, switches of various functions… ah, the good old geeky days. Even before then I (and a number of geeky people I knew) would take apart clocks, radios, telephones (black box anyone?), and anything else I could get my hands on. Little motors were tons of fun. Of course Radio Shack had, and still has, starter kits you could buy and then tons of little electronic accessories.

Then those days went away. Few people seemed to care about that type of technology geeking anymore. It was also PC-on-a-chip or software. Well, now I’m seeing more and more articles that seem to point to a growing movement again in circuitboard geeking.

Raspberry Pi

Check out the Intel Minnowboard Max. A $99 open-source board for DIYers. It can run Linux and Android. Or how about the BeagleBone Black? Isn’t that a cool looking little board? (Or is it just me? :>) Of course if you’ve been paying attention you already know about the Raspberry Pi (shown here), a “low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse

Pretty exciting stuff if you ask me. This certainly plays into the big picture “Internet of Things” (IoT) that has also been growing in talk and starting to bleed into the mainstream (Nest anyone?). Maybe we can get some of our young people excited about this and create a generation (or two) of technology creators rather than just technology consumers.

Laptop Charger Size and Weight

I don’t know about you, but my laptop charger is huge – and heavy. My laptop isn’t super-light, but it isn’t heavy either. But when you carry both the laptop and the charger, the weight adds up. The charger is also bulky and a bit odd to store and carry in a laptop bag.

Well now a company named Finsix is working to shrink both the size and weight of laptop chargers. This is very cool and long overdue. I can’t wait to see the released product and how this might change the “market” for chargers. Perhaps PC makers will jump on board with similar technology. Or maybe they’ll license the Finsix technology. I don’t care who or how but I love the idea of improvements (finally) in this area.

I’ll be keeping an eye on these developments and you might want to also (unless you like heavy and bulky chargers :>).

Akamai NetSession Required to Try Out SQL 2014?

I went to download the 180 day trial of SQL Server 2014 today, and after being forced to log on to Live and verify a couple screens of data (annoying), I then got prompted that to complete the download I would have to install the Akamia NetSession Interface.

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Just how annoying can this be? Is it Microsoft’s goal to purposely make it difficult for people to try out SQL Server 2014? It seems that they should want the lowest possible barrier to entry for people to get this. If it’s a great product, which I suspect it will be, then make it super simple for people to use so that you can get them hooked on it and they’ll make a purchase.

I’m annoyed enough with this process so far that I cancelled the download above and I’ll look for another way to get the software. The last thing I want is to install some unknown piece of software on my test machine – just to get a download.

Convert a Folder to an Application on a Remote IIS Host

The topic recently came up of the best way to convert a folder to an application on remote shared hosting server. Some hosts may have this built-in to their control panel. I know many (like Cytanium) have options in the control panel to create Virtual Directories, but sometimes an application specifically needs its folder to be marked as a literal “application” within IIS.

Since I’m most familiar with Cytanium’s shared hosting I’ll use their service as a base in this example.

Within the Cytanium control panel first make sure that you have enabled Remote Management. This feature will allow you to directly connect from IIS Manager running on a remote server to the IIS service running on the hosting server.

Enable Remote Management of your shared hosting site

From your Website Properties page in the control panel, click on the Management tab (red box above), fill in the information for the new account you want to create for managing the site (blue boxes above), then click Enable (green box above). After a moment or two you will have Remote Management enabled for your shared site.

Next you set up the connection from your local IIS Manager service. If you don’t already have this installed, grab a copy here.

Open your IIS Manager and choose the option to Connect to Site. Do *not* choose Connect to Server (it won’t work) unless you have full administrative access to the server, which won’t be the case with shared web site hosting.

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Specify the connection information. This should be the name of the server in which to connect (your host can clarify this for you) and the *exact* name of the site within IIS – the host can also clarify this for you if you don’t already know. The name should not have http:// and it may or may not match the domain name of the site, so if you can’t connect, the first thing I’d do it confirm these two settings.

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Assuming the IIS Remote Management service is running and enabled for the site, the next dialog box you see will be asking you for your username and password information (which, in this example, we set in the Cytanium control panel above).

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You might get a certificate warning (you will at Cytanium). As long as you trust the source (and I sure hope you trust your host if they’re supporting your site for you :>) you can click Connect and move to the next screen.

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On this last screen it is going to ask you to name the connection. You can leave it as the name of the site or give it a name that has more meaning to you – it doesn’t matter technically and is only a reference that will be displayed in your IIS Manager.

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Viola! Your connected now!

Here is what it will now look like in the IIS Manager GUI. Note also that I’ve drawn a red box around the folder that we’re going to convert to an application.

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Right click on the folder and choose Deploy -> Convert to Application.

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You’ll now see that the icon next to the folder has changed to denote that it is an active “application” within IIS.

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That’s it – your done! That folder is now an application and should work exactly as-if you had made the changes locally on the server.

By the way, you might want to poke around with the other features you can manage from the Remote IIS Manager tool. Depending on what your web host has enabled, this is a nice way to make configuration changes to your IIS hosted site.

Happy hosting!

Royal Caribbean–Freedom of the Seas

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We’ve been back now for a week and I’m finally getting around to writing a post about our Eastern Caribbean cruise via Royal Caribbean on their Freedom of the Seas ship.

Overall – it was a good trip and excellent value for the cost. I’ve been on better Caribbean trips, but certainly none this affordable. Enjoyment per dollar was pretty good. :)

 

The ship

The ship was in good shape. There were only the smallest hints of age and wear. I’ve owned boats before so I know how hard it is to maintain them – I can only imagine the work to keep one this large in good shape.

The Promenade was pretty cool. A couple of pictures from different angles and times of day (which had different lighting and decorations) are shown.

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We had an “issue” on a couple of windy days (more on this later) where the wind caused a horribly loud whistling noise through our balcony sliding door. A short call to maintenance and someone showed up, banged on things for a bit, and fixed the issue – whisper quiet after that.

The dining

The buffet (Windjammer) was good considering what it was – bulk food sitting under warming lights. The My Time dining was excellent. The service was *fantastic* and the food was fresh and tasty. The variety was appreciated also. We did one breakfast, and couple of lunches, and a couple of dinners here.

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The first night we did the Mystery Dinner meal – that was a lot of fun! And the food was from Portifinos (their paid-extra Italian restaurant – dessert pictured to the left here) and was very good. The cost included wine, so that was a nice surprise.

We also did one night in Chops – their pay-extra steak restaurant. It was excellent! Again, great food and great service.

There was also a Johnny Rocket (“free” but a $4.95/person cover charge – doesn’t sound free to me; we skipped this), a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop (not free – wish it was), a Cupcakes (not free – also wish it was), and a Starbucks (again, not free, but there was free coffee – just not the Starbucks brand). There were just enough non-free places to be annoying in my opinion.

The stops

The first stop was Coco Cay in the Bahamas. This was a great little spot to sit on the beach. We wish it didn’t have the non-stop band playing. It would have been perfect if it were a bit more peaceful and quiet. The beach was great, plenty of seating was available, and the water was crystal clear. The water was cold, but it was cold at each stop this trip.

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The next stop was St. Thomas.

We didn’t actually get onto St. Thomas. We stepped onto the pier then onto another boat to do a snorkeling excursion on St. John. The snorkeling was great (Cruz Bay) but about half of the excursion time is spent just getting to and from the location, so for the cost, it was a very small amount of snorkeling / beach time. Probably wouldn’t recommend this.

This first picture is Cruz Bay. The second is the view from our balcony just before leaving.

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The third stop was St. Marteen.

We went ashore here just to check out the downtown area, but found out that just off the ship is a tourist trap of little shops and actually getting downtown to check out the town is either a hike or ride. We decided to head back to the ship and enjoy the peace and quiet.

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It was very pretty thought for sure!

The journey (travel between stops).

This trip was the last week of February and I’m not sure if this is normal or not, but it was WINDY! The winds were blowing about 20mph and when the ship was traveling against them, it meant gusts to around 40mph. Serious if you were on the top deck you needed to hold on to the railings near the steps because it would blow you over. That was a bummer.

The wind also caused a bit more ship rolling than we would have preferred. Thankfully someone working on the ship recommend Motion Ease, which is a all-natural oil that you put on your finger then dab behind your ear. Surprisingly (yes, I am a skeptic) it worked quite well.

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Our cabin dude was very professional, called us by name when he saw us in the halls, and set up these neat little towel animals.

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Overall, again, it was a good trip for the money. We’d do it again if we were trying to fit vacation under a certain budget that fit this cruise. Depending on the time of year, it looks like you can get some really great rates (like $800/pp for a balcony room) – making it all the more of a great deal.

I’d recommend Royal Caribbean as a cruise line, and even this specific trip and ship. Happy cruising!