Phillip H. Blanton invites you and a guest to talk about him.

Hand Made Cribbage Boards

Hand-made cribbage boards.

This guy in Montana has super-nice hand-made cribbage boards. The big plus is that they have a slide out pocket for the pegs and a deck of cards. I saw them at the art fair in Manitou Springs, Colorado this last Monday and was super impressed. I want to buy the maple one (the one pictured above) but couldn't justify the $95 expense.

I have been playing cribbage since my stint in Navy back in the mid eighties. Mary Ann and I play it regularly on a cheapie wal-mart board. I seriously want that maple board and will eventually buy it.

If any of you like to play cribbage, then this is the ONLY guy to buy a custom cribbage board from. I have handled them and can say without a doubt that his are the best.

Here is his cribbage board link...

Deleting locked files from the trash in Mac OSX

If you use Mac OSX and use Time Machine to keep your system backed up, eventually you will run out of space on your backup volume. The answer is to go into the backup volume and delete the oldest backups. Why the OS doesn't do this for you automatically, is a mystery to me.

Once you delete the older backups, then you will want to empty your trash. Sometimes this is a problem.

Occasionally the trash will end up with a "Locked" file in it. This prevents the trash from emptying and sometime hangs the trash emptying process. Here's the solution...

1. Restart your Mac. This releases files that are in use.

2. Try to empty the trash again. If it fails, telling you that some items in the trash are locked, it will offer the seemingly helpful option of deleting ALL files or only deleting the LOCKED ones. Neither will work.

3. Right click (or left click and hold) on your trashcan icon and you will get the context menu with "Empty Trash" in it. Let go of the mouse button and hold down the [option] key while clicking "Empty Trash".

That should do it. The trick to emptying the trash can of LOCKED files is to hold down [option] while clicking "Empty Trash". Seems to me that Apple would do that in the background when you select either "Delete ALL Files" or "Delete LOCKED Files"... but they don't. So much for "Just Works" eh?

Snagit won't do scrolling captures on a mac.

I have used Snagit for years on my PC and loved it. One of the best features is the ability to perform scrolling captures. Unfortunately Snagit won't do scrolling captures on a Mac.

I recently switched to a mac for most of my work. I use a 27" iMac and a 17" Macbook pro. My wife uses a 13" macbook pro. Today she came down to my office and asked me to help her capture an order form from a website. The form was longer than the page could display without scrolling, and I thought, "Snagit!"

Unfortunately it was not the solution. We eventually used snagit and captured three individual images in order to send the order form to the seller. The scrolling capture won't work on a Mac.

I did navigate to Snagit's capture preferences and saw that scrolling was disabled. I clicked the "Help me fix it" button and followed the instructions, but still wasn't able to capture scrolling pages. In fact, the "Scrolling is disabled" message never goes away, so I suppose that it is impossible to actually fix the problem. Apparrently the issue is systemic and can't be fixed. I'd appreciate it if Snagit would just tell me that scrolling capture is not supported, rather than leading me to belive that it can be fixed.


My iPhone 4s won't sleep

Recently my iPhone 4s stopped sleeping. I'd receive a phone call or a text, then after I was done, I'd lay my phone down and it'd NEVER sleep.

I looked at all the settings and then gave up and called my daughter who works for Apple. I explained the situation and she told me to look into the "Settings|General|Auto Lock" settings page and make sure it wasn't set to "Never".

It was.

The issue was that, for the past ten months I had been working on a contract for a company that used Microsoft Exchange. Having their email on my phone forced me to use the passcode feature (which I HATE) on my iphone. Once I no longer needed access to their stupid exchange email (I hate Exchange as an email server. It seriously sucks. It's a classic example of Microsoft's "Embrace and extend" model gone awry. But let's not get into it), I deleted it from my phone and disabled the stupid passcode. While doing that I was also prompted to change a value called "AutoLock". Since I didn't want to automatically lock my phone anymore, I set it to "NEVER". That was a mistake. AutoLock is the feature that makes your iphone sleep when you are done with it. You WANT that feature set to at least one minute. Never is bad. Never choose Never.

So... after setting my "Settings|General|Auto Lock" to "One Minute", my phone now sleeps properly.

I feel sorry for those of you who don't have a kid who is a "genius" at Apple, while I simultaneously envy you. You have no idea the eye-rolls I get from my own kid when I ask her for help with Apple technology. HEY! Didn't I once feed you applesauce shortly before you puked it back all over me?! And let's not even go into the "pokies" incident.

Maybe this is what my dad meant when he said, "I hope you have ten kids just like YOU!"

I always thought it was a native American blessing of some sort. Maybe not :-/

Windows 8 sucks. Time for Linux?

I created a new virtual machine and installed Windows 8 on it. The trouble is, I keep getting stuck in apps and have to reboot in order to quit them. For instance, I clicked on the calendar and am stuck there. Right clicking gives me a "Day Week Month Feedback Today and New" option... none of which brings me back to the os. I have tried everything I know (and I am NOT a newbie) but can't get back to the OS. Rebooting again...

Damn Windows 8 sucks. Don't get it.

Ok. I figured that part out, but am overall pretty displeased with the lack of intiutiveness of this new "Metro" interface. I'd say that if you are a Windows user from way back and have considered trying Linux, but thought it's be too hard to switch, Now's your day. Switching from Windows XP, Vista or 7, to Windows 8 is like starting all over again. Maybe it's time to give Linux a try?

If you want to, you can try Linux with no risk, by downloading the Ubuntu Live Disk iso image from here...

Or you can buy a bootable flash drive from them for about $5 here.

Once you have a Linux or flash drive, insert it appropriately and reboot. Once the boot screen comes up, you'll need to hit the key that allows you to boot from the CD-ROM drive or USB flash drive. It's different on many PCs, but it usually something like [F10], [F11], [F12] or [Spacebar]. Once you have the OS booting from the CD/Flash Drive, it will load up Linux and run it in a virtual environment, right off of the CD or flash drive. It runs a bit slower that way, but is a risk-free way to see what you think of Linux.

After you are done playing with Linux, pull out the CD/flash drive, and reboot your computer. It will come up with your old operating system, just like before, and you can throw away the Linux disk if you want.

If you do decide to move to Linux, you can install it right off of the same CD/flash drive. You can choose to completely replace your old operating system and make the leap to Linux or, if you have enough room on your hard drive, you can install Linux and windows side-by-side and choose whichever one you want to run from a boot menu. Linux will handle all of the heavy lifting of installing the boot menu for you but if you are tech-averse, you may want to have a geek handy. Any run-of-the mill neighborhood geek would be pleased to help you set up Linux.

Who doesn't want a car elevator?

Mitt Romney may not be the most conservative candidate in the republican race, but he will likely win the nomination.

I have recently heard derogatory rumblings in the republican realm, that his new home in La Jolla, has car elevators.

HECK YEAH! Who among you doesn't want car elevators in your own home? I dang sure do!

A car elevator in every garage and a wagyu T-Bone in every frying pan. That's a vision of America I can get behind.

My new DasKeyboard.

I recently ordered the DasKeyboard for Mac, as featured here...

Unfortunately the one they sent me was crap. I crafted this email to them, asking for an RMA and replacement...

Dear DasKeybord, 

I rcently ordered a DasKeyboard fo my Mac. I was excitd when yo guys annonced a keyboard mde secificaly fo macs. I ordered o immeditly.

Yor websit sid that the keyboard woldnt ship until April 16; but I was excited o learn that my keyboard had shipped o April 4.

I receivd it o April 5th and connectd it to my 27" iMac today (April 6, 212). Unfortunatly I am unabl o effectivly use th keyboard s it drops way too many chracters as I type.

I hav crafted thi email usig yor keyboard. I am extremely dissatisfied with hi keyboard. Thogh I lov th clickiness, the fact hat it drops so many characters make it unusable.

Please sen m an RMA for thi keyboard and I wold ike to exchang it fo a keybord that has been tstd and actually works.


PS. I'm not as stupd s thi emil makes me look. Yor keybord i dong that. DAMN I lov thi clicky keyboard. I am sad tht thi keyboard doesn't work.

My order ID is... <deliberately typed> 103-8022566-3773805 </deliberately typed>

April 9 Update...

YAY! DasKeyboard sent me an RMA number to use to send this keyboard back. I plugged the keyboard into my Core i7 15" macbook pro, in order to request my RMA, and lo and behold, the keybord worked flawlessly. Then I shut down my 27" imac and connected the new DasKeyboard. Damned if it didn't perform flawlessly there too!

So, I connected the USB hub and connected my Logitech dongle and the keyboard still worked fine.

So I notified DasKeyboard to cancel my RMA number until further notice. I don't know what made my new keyboard to act all crazy, but I can suggest that you shut down your computer before connecting your new DasKeyboard to it.

Get a DasKeyboard!!! By the way, this message was clicky-created on the DasKeyboard for mac. 

My new Chile Roaster

I just bought a chile roaster from

They made me a left-handed chile roaster and I am a right handed individual. Ken Kaufman @ PuebloChileRoasters has graciously decided to allow me to return my chile roaster and exchange it for  a right-handed model.

The left-handed model has the handle and gas control on the right side. The right-handed model has the handle and gas control on the left side. For an illustration, see this video od Ken using his right-handed model.

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Downsides to SQL Server Mirroring

I have been designing and developing applications targeting Microsoft SQL Server for about 14 years. I moved from Clipper and BTrieve to SQLServer '97 at Hewlett-Packard back in about 1998.

Today I am a senior solution architect with a large consulting firm, and am on a team that is migrating a large organization from physical hardware to VMWare. My job is to evaluate each of their more than fifty applications, determine if they can be be made SQL Server mirroring aware with no (or minor) code changes, and craft a migration plan for these applications.

As part of my investigation, I have learned a lot about SQL Server Mirroring. One of the big differences between Mirroring and Clustering, is that mirroring is done on a database by database basis, while clustering is handled at the SQL Server instance level. I'm sure you have all heard or read that and think you understand it, but you may not competely appreciate the gravity of that statement. Let's analyze the situation using a real world scenario.

Suppose you have an application that uses a single, read-write database for application data, and a separate read-write database for SQL Server session state management. This is not an uncommon situation. Though it is easy enough to install the SQL Server Session State management to your application database, many architects separate the app db from the session db. That's perfectly acceptable, as long as you realize what kind of challenges mirroring brings to the table.

In the event that you are using mirroring, and the application or session database fails, SQL Server will fail-over to the mirror for ONLY THAT SINGLE DATABASE. If your assumption is that the app db and session db are existing on the same server, then your application will find itself in an unstable state.

The solution is to provide a separate connection string in the config file FOR EACH DATABASE that it uses. This will allow applications that use ADO.NET or the Native .NET client, to provide a connection string for each database, that will provide for robust failover.       

Installing Ubuntu 11.10 on a Dell Optiplex 755

I have an old Dell Optiplex 755 SFF (Small Form Factor) that is one of my favorite PCs. 

You can get one like it here, for about $180... Mine has a 300GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM (All easily and cheaply upgradable).

On Saturday (Dec 31, 2011) I was attempting to install Ubuntu 11.10 on it, but I couldn't boot to the install DVD. I had downloaded the correct Ubuntu image, and burned it to DVD on my Intel iMac (OSX Lion). After the burn process, it verified the disk and everything appeared ok. The problem was, it wasn't bootable. After wasting a few hours trying to make the machine boot from a "bootable" DVD, I gave up, threw the DVD away and re-downloaded the iso (just in case the old one was corrupted). After I re-burned the disk, it installed flawlessly. Now I have a super little *nix box for all sorts of cross-platform testing.

If you are looking for a super-cheap, yet super-capable home computer, I highly recommend surfing EBay for a Dell Optiplex 755 SFF or USFF (Small form factor or Ultra small form factor) PC with an Intel Core2 Duo or Core2 Quad. Ubuntu is a free and open-source operating system that is supremely powerful and very well supported. I have been using Linux (and other unix/POSIX Compiant operating systems) since the mid ninteties, and this is the first time I am prepared to recommend them to the masses for normal every-day use.

Ubuntu 11.04 and above, introduced the Unity UI. While those of us well-versed in Linux/Unix operating system operation may cringe at such a simplistic user interface, regular people (ie my mother and my wife) were completely perplexed at the complexities of Linux. Unity brings the simplicity of the Apple Mac OS to the free Linux operating system and inexpensive commodity PC hardware. Linux experts may still opt for a more powerful UI engine like Gnome or KDE. The powerful Linux operating system underlies all of these UI implementations, and the choice of which UI to use is completely at the user's discretion; so I am perplexed at the backlash Unity has received from the Linux community.

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to use something other than Windows, I highly recommend that you download the most current version of Ubuntu Linux and give it a try. If you are download-and-burn averse, then you can order five Ubuntu DVD's from Canonical for about $8 here

Booting your PC to the UBuntu DVD allows you two options.

1. Blow everything on your PC away and install Ubuntu in its place (like I did).

2. Boot to the Ubuntu OS on the DVD and run Ubuntu as an experiment. You can use your computer normally, running Ubuntu; and when you reboot. you'll be back to Windows with nothing damaged or changed.

I'd suggest running it in the experimental mode for a while until you are used to the way it works, then ... after backing up your important data (using an offsite service like Mozy Pro or Carbonite) Take the plunge and wipe your hard drive in favor of Ubuntu Linux.