Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2011 Rock Hall Inductees

The 2011 inductees were announced yesterday and ich habe eine kliene problemo avec deisem choices (paraphrasing Eddie Izzard). My problem isn't that they deserve to be inducted, I am fine with their induction. My problem is that they are too American. Where is the diversity? It's turning into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. We can't have that. I'll have to have a word with them.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew, American Music Masters

On the evening of November 13, 2010 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Fats Domino / Dave Bartholomew American Music Masters tribute concert took place at the Palace Theater. The music planted a big chunk of New Orleans smack in the middle of downtown Cleveland, if only for a day. The more enthusiastic than usual (for an AMM show) crowd was treated to a really nice blend of music.

The Rock Hall recorded the event (video and audio) and Schoolboy also did an audience recording with a Zoom H2 (it sounds pretty good). The slide show is of photos taken with my Samsung Galaxy S.

Set List:

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

What a Wonderful World

Swanee River Hop

I'm Walkin' (with Herb Hardesty)
Chapel of Love
Iko Iko

It Keeps Rainin'
I Want to Walk You Home

I Hear You Knocking

Blueberry Hill
Time Is on My Side

Ain't That a Shame
Lawdy Miss Clawdy

Shrimp and Gumbo

Be My Guest
Let the Four Winds Blow
54-46 That's My Number

Blues in B Flat (with Amadee Castenell)
The Monkey (Speaks His Mind) (with Amadee Castenell)
Tenderly (with Amadee Castenell and Herb Hardesty)

Who Drank My Beer While I Was in the Rear
The Fat Man (with Ernest McLean)
Blue Monday (with Ernest McLean)
One Night (with Ernest McLean)
I Can't Go On (Rosalie) (with Ernest McLean)
Walking to New Orleans (with Ernest McLean, Irma Thomas and Lloyd Price)

Everybody -
When the Saints Go Marching In

Monday, November 08, 2010

How to Get Full (not AT&T Sanitized) Android Market on Samsung Captivate

It's time I started posting some of these tidbits. This one is real simple and it works like a charm.

I am pretty sure this works the same in 2.1 as it does in 2.2 (I've had the leaked Froyo on mine for a while now).  All you need to do is turn on Flight Mode, then turn on Wifi, then go to market. You will see AT&T is missing. Download whatever it is you thought you could get from the full market and then turn off flight mode.

There seem to be a small number of apps AT&T is excluding. More nuggets to come!

BobKlass.Info is BobKlassInfo.Info

Just a quick note, BobKlass.Info is now BobKlassInfo.Info. No big deal, I just like to have some kind of domain name out there (and I am going to extreme economy). I expect it may go back to BobKlass.Info in a year. Sorry if this causes confusion or broken links.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Setting Custom Ringtones on a Samsung Captivate

If all you ever did was create contacts stored on your phone, you wouldn't be reading this, because you would just edit your contact, scroll down and set the ringtone. However if you are like me, you might not have entered ANY contacts on your phone. All mine came from Gmail, automagically. In those, you don't see a place to set the ringtone.

After a bit of trial and error (no, I did not RTFM), I found that if I create a new new contact on the phone with the same name as the Gmail contact it will be automatically associated and won't show as duplicates. At the top of the contact there are tabs for the associated contacts. For some reason some of mine have a number of associated Gmail contacts, but if you pick the Phone tab, you can edit the ringtone. Hit the easy button.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Samsung Captivate - My iPhone Replacement

My AT+T family plan phone upgrade eligibility seems to waffle (even on the one iphone). One day they are all eligible, the next none are. This waffling even happens within the same day - stupid. It's a full five months before our "2 years" is up but some consistency would be nice. I won't even bother to tell you what the ATT person said, it just doesn't make any sense. What has happened, though, is I have been able to order my iphone replacement and my daughter ordered a new iphone (3GS, not 4, she needs to actually use the phone, not just look at it).

Over that past week I learned that ATT now has one of (if not the) best Android phones available - the Samsung Captivate (generically aka Galaxy S). It has a great screen, FAST processor, and lots of cool stuff you can do with it/add to it. Like Apple phones, these phones have some features (like FM radio) defeated on ATT. 

An iPhone 4 will beat a Captivate in certain specs and performance - especially (for now) web page loading. That will change when the next Android OS (2.2) comes out for this phone, which will be very soon.The iPhone 4 takes better pictures. There also is no  front facing camera (will we actually use these eventually? - it may just be disabled) or (almost useless) led "flash." The stuff it does do though is impressive, like great Office integration, easily replaceable $5 battery, cheap add-ons, Adobe Flash, etc. It is the best phone for gaming. Period. Too bad I don't do much of that.
It's $149 at Amazon for a family plan upgrade, $199 at ATT store.
Windows phones will be out soon. They will have better cameras and eventually a better OS (really, I am confident that WP7 is going to be a much more complete and robust OS than any previous mobile OS). But I had to jump on this - I am impatient and sick of my iPhone.
I find it exciting to see a robust community of Android users. I don't think there is anything I will miss from the iphone world, application-wise. Some of my most favorite apps on the iPhone include Radar Scope (I found something just like it for Android), Stanza (ditto), Uverse (I don't think so, but it has to be coming) and Nano Studio (will be hard to beat except for the pathetic CPU of my 3G). Everything else is there (all those crappy apps, Android has them too). 
ATT has their Android phones somewhat locked down (I just can't have that) but this is easily circumvented with Android Sideload Wonder Machine or very straightforward rooting. Tethering is easily available once rooted. All interesting and useful stuff. I plays flacs but I haven't figured out if I will be able to play flacs 24 bit flacs (I have my doubts). UPDATE: The samsung/att media player plays 24 bit 48 kHz flacs, but not higher. The stock android player does 16 bit flacs only, from what I can tell. Sounds great.

I was sick of Apple, iTunes, and the shape of the iPhone 4, and I don't want a Edsel-phone. Now I can leave that all behind me!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is That All You Got?

As a hi-fi enthusiast I am a magnet for good gear - it somehow finds me. My latest acquisition is an interesting little amplifier, a Carver M-1.5t, picked up for so little money it was a crime. This amp was an existing Carver design, tweaked to emulate a Mark Levinson ML-2. Knowing that Carver was very concerned about making practical amps that could be used where you would use tube amps like the ML-2, I figured I had a great test bed for it. This turned out to be very true.

My best speakers (and I don't even know how many great sets of speakers I have, but these are my best) are Acoustat Model 3 electrostatic panels. I've had these for a number of years. When I first got them, I tried every amp I had, starting with the biggest. All failed miserably, with solid state amps going into clipping without producing much volume (most popping like mad). I finally settled on a set of two Peavey Classic 120/120 rack mount amps (making 240/240!). These babies have 8 6L6 tubes in each amp. The 8 big tubes could not make an Acoustat get really loud, but they were loud enough to sound sweet and I have lots of other stuff to reinforce the sound.

Carver says the M-1.5t produces 600 watts in each channel when the max headroom light comes on (up to 750  watts into one channel). This max indicator was lit within the first 30 seconds of my test. My tests are incomplete, and all were done completely by ear, but this is what I heard:

  • More volume than the two Peavey 120/120's - not a lot, but more
  • Slightly less distortion than the Peavey's (that's not good - the Peaveys distort a lot when driven hard - the Carver seems to distort quite audibly as well)
  • The Carver definitely sounded like a transistor amp compared to the Peavey (duh - 20 output transistors vs. 16 output tubes) 

This last point will take some better testing to see if it is really true. It seemed like a very simple bright versus warm, classic tube argument, but I need to level the field and use more similar sources. I definitely like the idea of getting more volume out of my flagship speakers and I am so proud of how they took 1200 watts from the Carver and seemed to say, "Is that all you got?" This testing is tough work but somebody's got to do it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Dodged the iPhone 4 Bullet ...

... and now I think I am cured of iPhone desire for good. To think I nearly bought one on blind faith, but I was saved when I decided to wait for a white one.

After actually handling one, I decided there isn't anything compelling about it. Besides the much publicized issues of non-functional antenna design, weak blue tooth support and a flaky proximity sensor, I have these issues:

  • Boxy, uncomfortable shape - despite being smaller, it doesn't feel smaller (inversely, though, despite being heavier than my 3G, it feels lighter)
  • The display is good, but not so good I have to have it. Over-hyped.
  • Bogus multitasking - this is no way to operate a computer. How stupid. 
  • Still not the strongest camera.
There are lots of things that are still issues like the lack of removable media, lousy bluetooth functionality, and being tied to the Apple ecosystem. Were it not for jailbreaking, the whole iPhone experience would be more like an iPod toy than a hand held pocket computer (which is what I really wanted in the first place). The jailbreaking community is the best thing about iPhones, and from what I've seen, there isn't much of a parallel in the Android world. When the Windows 7 phone OS comes out, I think it should quickly eclipse the Android user community (wishful thinking). 

All this has led me to be happy with what I have for the next few months and see if something better comes along. The iPhone 4 now looks like it would have been a mistake. In the mean time, I bought a little 2.2 pound net book to play with. I know a lot of techies have tried and abandoned the net book genre, but I'll give it a try anyway. My consolation toy. Thanks to jailbreaking I will be able to tether it to my iPhone with MyWi (not that I ever really need to).

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Think I'll Settle for an iPhone 4 and a Cheaper Data Plan ...

... in fact, I am thinking about getting THREE iPhone 4's next week (don't tell my kids). I'm thinking in public here.

The new AT&T data plans
When I decided I wanted a phone that could do more than a feature phone (mostly I wanted to access Internet resources), the cheapskate in me (with two kids in college at the time) REALLY didn't want a $30/month data plan. I love the freedom the unlimited data plan provided - do whatever you want. Stream audio, video (the biggest two consumers). Upload, download (what?). Tether the connection to your PC via wi-fi or bluetooth. No wait, AT&T and Apple won't let you do that. But I didn't like the high cost.

So here you had an unlimited connection, but in reality, the vast majority of users never used even 200 MB per month (the new limit for the half price, $15 plan). Streamed audio works pretty good - I sometime listen to Internet radio or Wolfgang's Vault while driving - but it sounds like satellite radio - compressed and crappy. Streamed video is barely practical over 3G - even AT&T's faster variety. You generally aren't going to be moving very large files around with an iPhone, so in order to get your data use up you will have to move lots of them.

And tethering, well, the jailbreak app MyWi works exceptionally well, giving you wi-fi or bluetooth (or USB) tethering, but how much do most people need to use something like this? It's sort of a last resort, when you are in a cheap hotel with no wi-fi, for instance. The phone gets really hot with all the radios going full blast and you better have a power source.

I have never used 200 MB of  AT&T cell phone data in a month. I've come close but never gone over. I will take the rate reduction and lose my unlimited data plan forever (forever is a long time).

iPhone 4

Then along come AT&T and Apple allowing us to upgrade now instead of the previously posted October date for all the phones in my family plan (5). I always want to upgrade phones ASAP. The subsidies make them relatively cheap. You can resell phones on eBay. So an early upgrade is almost a no brainer.

Now lets see, though. I have to choose an Apple smartphone for this early upgrade - no Android, Blackberry, Windows, Palm, etc. Realistically, there isn't another phone that can do what this phone does any better or with more style. The UI is outstanding and the devices are extremely well made.

The other thing that has made me happy in the Apple camp are the many "others" (in Lost-speak) - a huge community of techies and hackers to keep Apple's "Dharma Initiative" (more Lost-speak) in check. iOS4 jailbreaks will be available.

I guess I can settle for a half price data plan and a new, much improved (over my 3G) iPhone. I'll be ordering phones next week!

Post Script: the manager I spoke with at the AT&T store (who was assuring me that, yes, once you lose your unlimited plan, it is gone, but you can switch any time between the remaining plans) told me the AT&T Uverse iPhone app will eventually have video streaming from your DVR. That would be nice - like a Slingbox without the box.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The iPhone and the Large Law Firm

Warning - this post contains some of my thoughts about iPhone use at a large law firm from my perspective of an iPhone user who works in a law firm IT department. I have no practical experience with any level of iPhone integration in a large law firm.

Unfortunately, when one talks about things that law firms are commonly doing, it frequently doesn't include the largest firms. What works for most law firms may not work for one of the biggest. Yet there are some things that are common to most decent-sized firms. In large law firm IT departments, iPhones are very common, though probably not as prevalent as the officially supported (and subsidized) Blackberry. I know there has been some work by vendors to provide the necessary hooks to do some cool things with iPhones in large enterprises. It was encouraging to see this, especially since it included SharePoint integration.

To me it seems like Apple's misses the mark. I'm not sure how all large enterprises work, but I think most of them have no interest in providing the kind of support this manual suggests. I think they would prefer to carefully allow access to things like email, SharePoint or a Citrix Desktop from employee owned phones rather than owning and babysitting the entire operation. Coordinating phones from different carriers all over the world is much better pushed back to the individual (at least organizationally).

Various strata of integration could strengthen iPhone support in larger, more secure enterprises. Of course it starts with email, Lotus Notes integration being of interest to me. Sybase iAnywhere, IBM's iNotes, Notes Pro and maybe a couple other apps provide Notes email to iPhones. Mail should always work fine in this form factor, you just need to make the necessary security hops. There are a few others vendors that do some Notes database replication as well, but I don't see that as a strong draw since Notes has been dying as an application platform. Secure access to SharePoint servers providing mobile-optimized web pages could be useful, and fairly easy to establish. Attending meetings through a mobile device is a natural. A Citrix desktop might also be OK, but have you ever tried operating a desktop on a little touch screen? It's not a very useful capability.

Having a resourceful, always connected computer in my pocket has been great, and I don't expect to ever again be without such service. Integrating this level of mobile functionality into large enterprise will take some time and effort and I look forward to it.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Customizing SharePoint RSS Web Part

I will be brief, because this is pretty simple and obvious. I have my favorite reader (Google on my iPhone) and the RSS web part sometimes seems crude, but it is sometimes very useful when a site really is crying for relevant news.

Don't be afraid to mess with the XSL Editor. Just copy the contents into Notepad - that's your backup. Now start hacking away. If something goes bad, paste back in your backup.

You want to remove the titles? Just snip out the whole node: div class="groupheader item medium."

So have at it!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stanza Ebook Reader for iPhone With Calibre

In my post about Kindle and the Kindle iPhone app I was a little off due to my new found enthusiasm for ebook reading. I've been having a good time reading several books on my tiny screen - it really works - using Kindle for the iPhone. My only apprehension is that the iPhone screen will not be good enough to use while basking in the tropical sun when I go to Cancun in May. But I picked the wrong application. The Kindle solution I proposed requires a jailbroken phone, which not everyone has, and there is a much better alternative: Stanza for the iPhone and Calibre on your computer.

At first blush, Stanza has many features Kindle does not, and I'm not sure if anything from Kindle is missing on Stanza. But Kindle does have a nice feel and good speed. Some operations on Stanza can be slower (especially on my 3G, the most brain dead iThing still sold) and the feel is different. But after a little digging, and working with the very good Calibre application and Stanza on the phone, I have concluded that this is a far better solution. There is nothing to prevent you from using both, but Stanza is the way to go.

Using them is simple - no instructions necessary - just get Stanza from the app store and Calibre here: Both are free.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Using the Kindle iPhone App for Reading Non-Kindle Ebooks

Please see my update - I found something that works much better and does not require a jailbroken phone, which using a back door to the iPhone file system does. Read

I've tried reading PDF's off the iphone, but I really wanted to read big ebooks. It was very much hit or miss, mostly miss. The PDF could be too big or too small and would not reformat appropriately. Not useable.

The answer - Amazon Kindle. The Kindle itself is a great device, but one whose days are numbered (unfortunately - I think they are a great idea). The Kindle iPhone app is free. Kindle books are expensive, but there is usually a free download of the first few chapters which gives you a good idea of both the books' contents and the reading experience on the hand held. The XML-ish text reformats based on the size font you want. The PRC file format seems to mostly be XML and some binary compression standards. Bookmarks are kept. It all works nicely. And Kindle isn't a horrible deal right now - $259 for the device and free global wireless data access (for now). 

PDF's, TXT or DOC files can all be turned into Kindle PRC files with a free app called MobiPocket Creator. Home made PRC's can be a little idiocyncratic, but they aren't bad. You sftp into your device (OpenSSH from Cydia and Winscp) and drop these files into your hand held (find the folder by searching for *.prc with Winscp). I am reading multiple books this way right now, and the Kindle app keeps my place nicely. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


FlashForward: Season One Pt.1Flashforward
When ABC's FlashForward started last fall I was immediately thrilled with the premise - a mysterious temporal event takes place causing all human consciousness to see a glimpse of the future. The show's first 10 episodes were great, leaving me wanting more! My wife Gayle (who reads constantly) passed the Robert J. Sawyer book on to me when she finished it, thinking I would like it. She was right. It is a great complement to the TV series. The premise is similar, and the characters and feel of the story has some similarity, but they are different stories.

The book definitely is more satisfying. An easy, quick read, I recommend zipping through it before the second half of the first season is over. My only disappointment was the ending. After blazing to a blistering climax, things go a little too far, and it lost me (I guess I wouldn't be getting a second Flash Forward).

What are you going to see in your FlashForward?

FlashForward [Blu-ray]

Thursday, February 25, 2010

SharePoint Fast Search Conceptual Speculation

Excuse me while I think out loud here (what else is new). As someone who truly likes the SharePoint platform, and as an IT professional who had an opinion about Fast (that it was aptly named, a pretty good product and expensive) BEFORE Microsoft had anything to do with them, I have been trying to come to grips with what the Fast SharePoint marriage means to us all.

I think that to the portion of Fast's clientele that had no interest in SharePoint it may be an annoyance (that may be an understatement). Doubly so for any of them running it on something other than Windows. For the rest of us, though, it is supposed to be an easy path to a high quality enterprise search engine. It's funny, though, because I have been a proponent of SharePoint as a very good poor man's enterprise search engine. SharePoint 2007 search works well. Yes, it is a bit quirky, but it is pretty powerful. It has served us well (though not as an enterprise search engine, just for SharePoint search).

Microsoft isn't content to stand still, though, so they have added this great option. I have not worked with even a beta or demo of the product, and as far as I know, pricing has yet to be released, so my impressions are based on fairly thin marketing vapor, but it's still OK to start thinking about what it all means.

One would expect this product to scale better than OOTB SharePoint 2007 search, but I wonder if the this is really the case. After all, if you implement this product you probably will be taking it more seriously and devote more resources to it, so THAT will make it scale better too. Old SharePoint search can be scaled quite large without having to resort to anything magical. A million or two documents is a piece of cake.

But I would expect the product to deliver better relevance, with or without active intervention. I am anxious to seek how well search librarian tasks can be delegated - this is important functionality.

Unified installation doesn't look like it is really coming in 2010. From what I've heard, it may be in the same box (or on the same box) but the code base isn't really all that close to SharePoint. Unified administration, on the other hand looks like it IS in the box. But like I said earlier, administration needs to be distributable (think "librarians").

Soon it will be time to stop thinking about possibilities and testing the release product to see how it meets these expectations. Fast in SharePoint may democratizes enterprise search, but a lot will depend on pricing. Soon we will see!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vambo Rools in Hot City

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band is alive and well and living in Parma and Brooklyn and Cleveland Ohio. Playing under the pseudonym of Vambo Rools, SAHB can still rock the house!

Last night the Winchester Music Hall in Cleveland played host to a special tribute to the Sensation Alex Harvey Band, one the greatest things to come out of Scotland since Glenlivet. "Alex Harvey" doesn't seem to have aged much (unlike the hundreds of avid fans that turned out and overwhelmed the tavern's bartenders), but like his audience, Alex seems to have put on a few pounds.

Two fantastic 80 minute sets were unleashed on a big crowd that pretty much all knew where every chord, fill and cymbal crash were supposed to be. The band had the chops to pull it off. Playing much better than their MySpace videos, all aspects of the band were on. The latter part of the second set got a bit sloppier, but I am not complaining. It was a real rock show and a comprehensive tribute. The band consisted of two guitars, keyboard, bass and drums, with "Alex" playing nothing except an (awful) harmonica on one number. Alex and Zal Clemenson were in character ("Zal" with face paint and miming). "Zal" taunted Alex and chided the band in mime throughout the show.

Schoolboy's 96 kHz 24 bit Zoom H2 recording filled 5.85 GB! It sounds very good, and shows how nice the sonic balance was (there were only a few times where leads were a bit buried). I didn't remember the Winchester having the main PA speakers that were hanging from the ceiling. They looked like the same ones the Beachland used to have in the tavern, doubled, and they sound better in the Winchester's bigger room. Those same speakers used to be very harsh at the Beachland.

From what was said on mic, it seems like this is the second time they have played this tribute but that the shows may be at one year intervals. For Sensational Alex Harvey Band fans who missed it, it's a SAHB story - you missed the "Last of the Teenage Idols" but hopefully you will get another chance.

Vambo lives!