16January2014

What are M-shaped people?

Posted by pathfinder under: Programming.

This week our team spent some time reviewing all of the points on Arlo Belshee’s Adaptive Engineering Proficiencies.  It was a fantastic discussion and a sobering experience learning that many of my traditional beliefs and practices when developing software lead to dead ends instead of leading to awesome software.  It became very clear  what proficiencies I will work on to get back on the right path.  One first step was to stopped code reviews on our team.   This was very hard to swallow at first because code review is actually a favorite practice of mine.  My former belief was that code reviews made developers awesome.

To begin the journey to get back on track to awesomeness, one proficiency I needed to understand is what a T-shaped and M-shaped people are.  The T and the M letters illustrate the breadth and depth of a person’s skillset.

From our team discussion and my short research on the internet, the horizontal bar in the letter T represent the ability to be collaborate in the many different disciplines of software development.  Some examples of the disciplines might be a person who is

  • knowledgeable in process management (ITIL, COBIT)
  • agile methodologies (scrum, kanban, xp)
  • quality assurance skills
  • writing code (C#, java, javascript, ruby)
  • design/layout skills and css
  • data skills (sql, cassandra, mongo, etc)

T shaped person
These are skills in a traditional development team are considered “roles” might be performed by a different person on the team. On a cross functional team everyone is expected to perform any role.

The vertical bar of letter T represents the depth of the skills, so in my case my C# development skills is where my vertical bar is the longest.

For a more descriptive explanation of T shaped person read this article with IDEO CEO Tim Brown and T-Shaped Stars: http://chiefexecutive.net/ideo-ceo-tim-brown-t-shaped-stars-the-backbone-of-ideoae%E2%84%A2s-collaborative-culture

So what is an M-shaped person?

The vertical bars represent the same concept as T, so this person would have deep knowledge in many different skillsets.  They are equal or more knowledgeable in the skills expected of a T-shaped person.  These people thrive as a member in a high performance cross functional team.

Other terms that have been used to describe abilities and skills are I shaped and E shaped people.   I-shaped people are very narrow skilled with no breadth.  This most often happens for people in the roles of dba or project management.  No matter what the skill is, I shaped members on a team should not be acceptable.  E-shaped people is a concept similar to T shaped where people have depth and breadth, but also represents a persons “experience, execution, exploration, and expertise” traits.   Source : http://culturecartography.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/business-trend-e-shaped-people-not-t-shaped/

How can I transform from an I-or T- shaped person to an M-shaped person?

If you follow the path on the Adaptive Engineering subway map, the route to awesomeness is full time pairing.  If you are you in a quality assurance role and want to learn Test Driven Development,  start full time pairing with a developer.  Insist that you won’t write another test case unless you are sharing a computer monitor with the developer.  It’s a win all around, you are creating two m-shaped team members while writing code and test cases in pure awesomeness.

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18July2013

Top 8 settings to make Windows 8.1 Preview more usable

Posted by pathfinder under: General.

I have been running on the Windows 8.1 preview for a few weeks now and I have to say that it is an improvement over their first release. The first release I don’t think I could get past 1 day before going back to Windows 7. I have not powered up my Windows 7 desktop in over a week and do not think I will ever need to use Windows 7 again.

Out of the box, though, Windows 8.1 preview wasn’t perfect. Here are the 8 changes I made to make windows 8.1 more usable. Most of the changes I made favored convenience over security, however I think they are worth the compromise.

1. Disable lock Screen

If you are on a desktop the lock screen is pretty annoying.

  1. Click on the Start Screen button Type gpedit.msc
  2. administrative templates – control panel – personalization
  3. Double click on Do not display lock screen
  4. Set to Enabled

Disable lock screen with gpedit.msc

2. Install .NET 3.5

There are still a lot of applications that are dependent on the older dot net frameworks. Install them to save your self some time later. You will need the original install media to perform this tip.

  1. Click on start and click the down arrow
  2. Find and run Command Prompt (cmd.exe) as administrator
  3. In the command box type: (bes sure to update the path to the install media)
    DISM /Online /Enable-Feature /FeatureName:NetFx3 /All /LimitAccess /Source:d:\sources\sxs

ref: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh506443.aspx

install .net 3.5 via cmd.exe

3. Boot to desktop

This is a new feature for Windows 8.1 but by default it is not enabled. Change this setting so you login straight to the desktop.

  1. Right click on taskbar, choose properties
  2. Click on Navigation tab
  3. Place a check mark on “Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in”

Boot to desktop settings

4. Enable Remote Access

Enable Remote desktop so you can log in from a remote computer when you need to. Note: You may still need to configure your router/firewall to allow remote access.
This is necessary step if you are running windows 8.1 preview as a VM because using RDP to access your VM is very convenient.

  1. Right click on the start button
  2. Choose System from the menu
  3. Click on Remote Settings
  4. Change the radio button to Allow remote connections to this computer.

I personally uncheck the “allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network level Authentication (recommended)”. This will allow insecure connections to your computer from older operating systems (pre-windows 7) and Linux machines. I often connect from my android tablet so I have to uncheck it to support access.

Emab;e Remote Access in System Options

5. Disable desktop Dim for admin prompt

  1. Go to Control Panel – System and Security – Change User Account Control Settings (at the top under the blue flag)
  2. Change slider to 3rd option
  3. Click OK

User Account Control to disable desktop dim

6. Disable system maintenance from waking up from S3 sleep

I have had trouble getting windows 8.1 to sleep for me. I think this is due to it being beta software and not all of the drivers updated yet. However when I do get it to go sleep, the last thing I was is Windows 8.1 waking itself back up.

  1. Go to the Control Panel – System and Security – Action Center
  2. Click on Maintenance
  3. Change Maintenance Setting
  4. Uncheck “allow schedule maintenance to wake up my computer at the scheduled time”
  5. Click OK
To completely disable system maintenance:
  1. Right click on Start Menu and choose “Computer Management”
  2. Go to Task Scheduler – Task Scheduler Library – Microsoft – Windows – TaskScheduler
  3. Right click and Disable Regular Maintenance.

Note: If you install other software such as Office 2013, it may create new tasks that will wake up your computer such as “Microsoft Office 15 Sync Maintenance” which may need to be disable to keep your computer sleeping soundly.

Disable Automatic Maintenance from Waking up computer from s3 sleep

7. Disable AutoPlay for all media and devices

This will actual make your computer more secure.

  1. Move your mouse to the bottom right corner
  2. Click on the Settings (gear icon)
  3. At the bottom right corner click Change PC Settings
  4. click on AutoPlay
  5. Slide to Off

Disable Autoplay or Autrun

8. Install Hyper-V virtual machine support

Not all computers support this feature, but if you have hardware that supports SLAT and like to play around with different operating systems this is a must have feature in Windows 8.1 Preview.

  1. Go to Control Panel – Programs
  2. Click on “Turn Windows features on or off
  3. Place a checkmark in Hyper-V
  4. Click OK to install.

Install Hyper-V Windows Features

Like I said, I found Windows 8.1 to be a usable operating system. If there was one more additional feature that the Microsoft guys could add, it would be to include a “Recently Used Applications” section on the Start Screen. Windows XP and Windows 7 had a recently used menu, why can’t Windows 8.1 do this?

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2June2013

How to use format your videos to play on DirecTV Media Share with XBMC

Posted by pathfinder under: Android.

I recently upgraded to DirecTV with the whole house dvr and noticed they have a media share feature.   I have XBMC running on my Android STB which works well but I can only watch my movies on the TV it is plugged into or on Smart TVs with DNLA support.    With the DirecTV receivers I can now have the ability to stream movies to all my tvs.

After testing it out, I found that the media share has very limited support for what types of files are supported.  I found I got the best results with the following format

Video: MPEG-2 TS

Audio: MP3 Stereo

PART I: Encode to MPEG-2

Now that I figured out the supported format, I set out to find the easiest way to convert my DVD and existing files to the compatible format.   I have been using HandBrake (http://www.handbrake.fr) for quite a while and really like  the simplicity of it.  I am using version 0.9.9   The previous versions have an error when performing 2 pass encoding, so you will want to make sure you are using this version or later.

The first thing is to select your video source by either adding a DVD folder or Video File.   After adding the file, choose the destination and  for Container choose MKV file.

For picture, I just leave the default settings.

HandBrake Video Settings

Filters leave everything set to off unless you have a reason to apply a filter such as Deinterlace

HandBrake Picture settings

On the Video tab, these settings are very important.

  • Set the Codec to MPEG-2(FFmpeg)
  • Quality choose Avg Bitrate and set to 2500
  • Check 2-Pass Encoding

HandBrake Video Settings

On the Audio tab choose MP3 for the codec and change Mixdown to Stereo HandBrake Filters Settings

Skip the subtitles tab.   Uncheck Create chapter markers on the Chapters tab.  Don’t change anything on the Advanced Tab.

Once you have these settings click Encode to start the encoding.

PART II: Change container from mkv to mpg

Once Handbrake is finished, you will have an mkv file.  You can test the file with VLC Media Player if you want, but MEDIA SHARE won’t recognize the file because it needs to be a MPEG-2 TS file.     For this you will need to download FFmpeg.     You can find download links here http://www.ffmpeg.org/download.html

After downloading the file you will want to change the container with the following command parameters
-y -i inputmovie.mkv -f mpegts -vcodec copy -acodec copy outputmovie.mpg

On windows you can create a bat file with the following

SET FFMPEG="D:\Downloads\ffmpeg-20130602-git-5711e4f-win64-static\bin\ffmpeg.exe"

SET OUTPUT_PATH=D:\Stuff\MediaShare\NEW

SET FILENAME=%~n1 SET OUTPUT_FILE=%OUTPUT_PATH%\%FILENAME%.mpg

%FFMPEG% -y -i %1 -f mpegts -vcodec copy -acodec copy "%OUTPUT_FILE%"

You can then set handbrake to run the bat file when finished processing by going to Tools->Options->General and browsing to the batch file that you just created for “Send file to:”

 

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3September2012

Install cygwin sshd on Windows

Posted by pathfinder under: General.

Here is a quick tutorial to install cygwin on your windows computer to make your windows computer an SSH and SFTP SERVER.   A couple of house cleaning things before we get started.

  • Note:  If you are looking for a SSH client then download putty.exe as it make s a great SSH client.
  • This tutorial only applies to Cygwin 1.7, installer version 2.774
  • I have only installed this twice so I am by far no expert.  If I missed a step you will have to figure it out yourself.

Now lets get started.

  1. First thing you need to do is download the cygwin setup.exe  from here Cygwin.com.
  2. After downloading, run the setup.exe.  Click Next and choose Install from Internet.
  3. Leave the install directly as c:\cygwin  (unless you have some specific reason to change it.   if you do decide to change, you will be on your own).
  4. Click next and chose a Local Package directly.  In my case I made it my downloads folder “C:\Users\xxxxx\Downloads”
  5. Click next and leave the default option: Direct Connection.
  6. Now you will need to choose a download mirror.    Go to http://cygwin.com/mirrors.html and find the download location closest to where you live.  Find it in the list and select next.
  7. After a moment you will get a list of packages to install.
    1. In the Search box type “ssh”
    2. Expand NET
    3. Click on the “skip”  for the openssh:”The OpenSSH server and client programs”

  8. Click Next
  9. You will get a screen to automatically Resolve dependencies.  Make sure the RECOMMENED option is selected and Click Next.
  10.   The install may take a few minutes to download the necessary packates.   (they will be save to the location you selected in step 4)
  11. After the packages are downloaded and installed,  you will get an option if you want to create shortcuts.   I chose to let the install create the shortcuts and clicked finish.
  12. After installation is finished, open the cygwin terminal as Administrator by righ clicking on the shortcut   and choose Run as Administrator.
  13. In the cygwin terminal type in ssh-host-config
  14. At the first option “Should privelage separation be used? (yes/no)”  type “yes”  (this is the default option)
  15. “new local account ‘sshd’? (yes/no)  type “yes”
  16. “Do you want to install sshd as a service?”  Type “yes”
  17. Next you’ll be asked to “Enter the value of CYGWIN for the daemon: []”  Type “ntsec”
  18. Cygwin will now need to create a user for the service.  The default is ‘cyg_server’.  To use the default Type “no”.
  19. You will be prompted for a password (twice) to assign to this account.  Enter a password.
  20. You have completed the install.   Type “net start sshd” to start the server.
  21. Now you will need to create the user keys.
  22. Exit cygwin by typing in “exit”
  23. Re-open cygwin-terminal as a normal user by clicking on the cygwin-terminal shortcut.  (This will be the user that you will log into ssh terminal with)
  24. In the Terminal type “ssh-user-config”
  25. At the prompt “Shall I create a SSH2 RSA identity file for you? (yes/no)”  Type “yes”
  26. enter a passphrase.  it can be anything you want.
  27. At the prompt “Do you want to use this identity to login to this machine (yes/no) Type “yes”
  28. Next, you’ll be asked to create an SSH2 DSA identiy file, if you want to use password-less access. I declined at this step so I typed “no”
  29. Next you’ll be asked to create an SSH2 ECDSA identity file.  Again I declined and so I typed “no”
  30. Last you’ll be asked to create a (depricated) SSH1 RSA identity file.  I declined this step so I typed “no”
  31. You have now completed setting up your user.
  32. The final step is to add the program C:\cygwin\usr\sbin\sshd.exe to your firewall rules.
    1. Windows Control Panel -> System and Security -> Windows Firewall -> Allow a program through Windows Firewall
    2. Click Change settings
    3. Towards the bottom of the screen click “allow another program…”
    4. Browse to C:\cygwin\usr\sbin\sshd.exe
  33. Also, I needed to set my password before I could log in with putty from a remote computer, so at the cygwin prompt I typed in “passwd” to set my password.  (Note: this will change your windows login password also).

You will now have putty and sftp access to your computer.

3 

25July2012

Joomla 1.5 and link rel canonical seo

Posted by pathfinder under: General.

I have several sites running on Joomla! but I have been suffering with the my search engine optimization ever since google released Panda.  I think the primary reason was due to duplicate content.    After researching on the issue I really could not find a  good solution that met my specific need.

What I wanted, was if I had several menus that pointed to the same article generate a <link rel=”canonical” href=””> meta tag. 

Below is the code that I came up with to generate a meta tag on every page.   I will attached a text file with the code to the post also and you can download the joomla_code here.   Simply copy this code and put it in between the <HEAD></HEAD> tags if your /template/[TEMPLATE_NAME]/index.php file.

To see this code in action visit my Pest Control Site at www.callprobest.com and view the source and you will see that every page has the new meta tag.

<?php
$db =& JFactory::getDBO();
$menu = &JSite::getMenu();
$active = $menu->getActive()->id;
$query = "
SELECT m2.".$db->nameQuote('alias')."
FROM ".$db->nameQuote('#__menu')." m1
JOIN ".$db->nameQuote('#__menu')." m2
ON m1.".$db->nameQuote('link')." = m2.".$db->nameQuote('link')."
WHERE m1.".$db->nameQuote('id')." = ".$db->quote($active)."
AND m2.".$db->nameQuote('published')." = ".$db->quote('1')."
ORDER BY m2.".$db->nameQuote('ordering')."
LIMIT 1;
";
$db->setQuery($query);
$relLink = $db->loadResult();
printf("<link rel=\"canonical\" href=\"%s/%s\" />\n",JURI::base(),$relLink);
?>

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23July2012

Android 4.04 (ICS) version is now available for the AirPad 7P

Posted by pathfinder under: Android.

The Android 4.04 version is now available for the AirPad.  Here is a page with a list of links

http://www.virtual-productions.nl/default.asp?page=21

The direct link to the firmware is http://www.virtual-productions.nl/default.asp?page=21

Also you will need to download LiveSuite 1.07 http://www.mediafire.com/?7yh4iaorj01n3d7

Before you start, I will warn you that the default language is in Chinese after installing the firmware.  So you will need to navigate blindly (unless you know chinese) through the menus to the language to select English.  Fortunately the English Option is in English.

The version

1. The tablet should be off and not connected to the computer, however it should be plugged into power

2.Extract the firmware so you can see the image named “97F3-H1-H1-H01-2355.20120711.img”

3.Run LiveSuitPack 1.07

4. After running the exe go to the folder and run the application (LiveSuit.exe approx. 2mb)

5.Click Yes to the message

6.Click “General” for the format mode, and then click Yes.

7.Browse to the folder where the image 97F3-H1-H1-H01-2355.20120711.img  Prepare the Momo9

8 Power the Airpad 7p completely off.

9. Hold down the back button pressed and plug it in via USB, and wait about 3 seconds.

10. Keep pressing the back button and also press the power button time for 10 times (this is an art and a science and will take several tries don’t expect to get it the first time)

11.After several presses on the power button there will be a sound as Windows recognises new USB hardware

12.Windows 7 will install drivers automatically, in Windows XP you need to point windows to the directory where you extracted software (also make sure you do not have usb check marked in setup).

13.When all the drivers are installed, the firmware will start to install automatically.  If it doesn’t start automatically, unplug and try again.

14.Finishing the Installation

15. There will be no sign of loading on the Momo9, don’t worry.

16.On the PC, LiveSuit shows a bar graph showing the status. It takes about 2 mins to load the firmware

17. After the yellow bar on Livesuite is completed action (about 2 mins) nothing happens, as the Airpad will power itself off.

18. You will see an exclamation mark with no text. Click OK.

19. Then wait a few seconds. Unplug the momo9 from the USB. You will see a green battery symbol.

20. Restart the tablet manually (as normal using the on/off button).  It will take several minutes to boot up for the first time

21.  After this, you will be given two options, click start using android wizard (or something similar).

After loading you will need to change the language to English as it will be in Chinese (yikes).  Don’t freak out yet, however to do this

1. Go the the programs menu by clicking on te 6 small squares n the top right corner.

2. Go to settings app. (it is the last icon on of the second row on the second screen.

3. Scroll down till you see the icon with the “A” on it (which is Language and Input).

4. Click on the very top option and you will see a list of languages.  Scroll down to English (United States).

5. Everything should be included (Market, Navigation, Maps etc) Enjoy it!

TOTAL TIME  25 minutes.

0 

15July2012

Disable windows 7 dnla streaming

Posted by pathfinder under: General.

I have started using the Samsung AllShare windows application on my Windows 7 computer to share/stream my digital content to to my dnla capabable Samsung TV.

So far it seems to work really well and I am having much better luck with streaming different formats to the tv.  However now my desktop computer shows up twice on my TV and it is confusing not only to me but to my family.  I disabled the sharing in windows but that only added to the confusion because the computer name is still displayed but when selected an error displays.

After digging around through windows media player and the services menu, I found a better solution.

  1. Open the services menu (Start Menu, in the service box type in services and hit enter.)
  2. Scroll down to Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service and double click.
  3. Change the Startup Type to Disabled
  4. Click the Stop button
  5. Click OK to apply your changes

 

Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service

Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service Properties Window

 

0 

26June2012

Changing your phone number on your Eaton Home Heartbeat console

Posted by pathfinder under: General.

I was playing around with my base station and came across the serial command ‘n’.

If you log into your base station via console mode and type in ‘n’ followed by the new number you want the device to dial and then hit enter folowed by ‘a’ debug mode you will see your device has updated the outbound phone number

 

0 

25June2012

Home Media Server Part 1 (the requirements)

Posted by pathfinder under: General.

Its time to update the living room and bring it into the digital age.   This really is a big under taking because over the past 25 years I have amassed a large collection of VHS, DVD, and Blu-Ray movies that I just am not ready to part with.  One could argue that “owning” media is a concept of the past, but I still like the idea of having physical control of my content and not rely on a content subscription with my satellite/cable company or some other online streaming service.

The first step to upgrading my living room experience was to come up with a list of requirements

  • Use inexpensive hardware (less than a few hundred bucks)
  • Media accessable in all rooms that have a tv
  • Compatible with Samsung devices (all of tvs, dvd player, home theatre system, blu-ray are made by Samsung)
  • Backup/Play my content I already own (VHS tapes, DVD, blu-ray)
  • low power consumption and/or only consumes power only when in use
  • remote power on/reboot
  • Intuitive and easy to use for family members

There are the requirements.  In the next post I will discuss what hardware/software combination I chose to meet my requirements.

0 

21May2012

Microsoft HomeOS

Posted by pathfinder under: General.

The lightswitch hMicrosoft HomeOS Logoas been around for 100 years and it still is basically the same technology then as it is now.  Over the last century and more so in the last few decades we have seen companies and technologies come and go.  Many companies like Radio Shack and IBM dabbled with X10 switches in the 90′s.    Today we are starting to see a re-emergence and reinvestment in home automation by some big name companies.

Microsoft introduced the Xbox 10 years ago and the Windows Home Server about 5 years ago.  With their latest announcment it looks they will continue to play in the consumer electronics market with HomeOS.  It looks like they already support a wide range of electronics such as cameras, televisions, and z-wave devices.

I will post more details as I dig into the product myself, but they do offer an SDK for developers to start writing apps and adding functionality.

More information from microsoft and home automation can be found on their research site

http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/homeos/

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