psst.. this blog is on hiatus.

I don’t feel like blogging anymore

I hope you figured this out, since I haven’t updated for close to a year, but I thought I’d make it official.

It’s not that anything’s “wrong”–I just don’t feel like I have anything I need to broadcast to the internets.  (Well, except for Twitter, but I’m kinda flaky on that score, too.) I don’t feel like writing rants and I have no desire to share intimate details of my life.  And frankly, in the last year or so, I’ve started to dig this IRL thing more.

That said, I do miss the connections and conversations I used to maintain via blogging.  I’m still online (way too much, of course), and you can easily reach me via email at tom at underscorebleach dot net. Please do drop me a line.

But now… it’s back to the real world for me!

How to play AAC and M4P files without iTunes

iTunes is a piece of shit. I hate it. It’s slow, it’s a RAM hog, and its constant self-updating is both annoying and destructive (as noted by Dennis Kennedy). Of course, this is to say nothing of my disdain for the iPod.

But I do own an iPod, and I did use iTunes to rip my CD collection, so I’d been using iTunes to play the AAC and M4P files–until now.

My favorite little Winamp replacement, Quintessential Player, has a plugin for playing AAC/M4P files. Get it from RareWares. Then you needn’t use Microsoft’s abominable resource hog (Windows Media Player) or Apple’s abominable resource hog (iTunes). You get to use a fast, skinnable little player, and you feel extra special nerdy cool while you do it.

Mounting an ISO as a drive: no need to burn a CD/DVD

I picked up a useful bit of information this morning. Did you know that you don’t have to burn an ISO image to CD/DVD to access its files? Instead, you can mount the image as a local drive. This is handy because (a) you don’t have to wait to burn the image, (b) you don’t have to waste a DVD/CD, and (c) it’s faster because the files are accessed off the hard drive, not the CD/DVD drive.

Since more and more apps are downloadable as ISOs, I think this will be useful.

TiVo should store settings online

My TiVo’s hard drive died last weekend. I’d owned it less than a year. This is quite common, of course, as a TiVo is just a computer, and computers’ hard drives fail. I bought a cheap, bare drive from Newegg, burned an image with InstantCake, and spent too much money at the hardware store on a Torx set to install the new drive. (Why do computer components use Torx screws?!) However, the biggest pain in the entire process was going through the guided setup again: setting my lineup, setting up the control of the cable box, etc. And I lost all my Season Pass settings.

But it got me to wondering: Why doesn’t TiVo store the box’s settings online? My TiVo is networked and “calls home” every 15 minutes or so. TiVo.com stores the device ID of my box. Why couldn’t the TiVo pass back my season passes and lineup info? I’m not even asking for web management of Season Passes and the To Do List; I’d just like to have the main box info backed up remotely. Seems easy enough.

A brief message to the person who jacked up my car at 3 o’clock in the morning, removed the lug nuts from the passenger-side wheel, took the wheel (presumably to replace a damaged wheel on his own Scion TC), and left my 3-wheeled car for me to discover at 8:20 a.m. this morning

Thank you for leaving the lug nuts from the stolen wheel in a neat pile next to the wheel drum.

It was quaint and really quite thoughtful, and I must say that having those lug nuts simplified matters for me today.

no wheel!

WindyBits: Covering Chicago technology

WindyBitsI haven’t posted much recently, but I’ve got a good excuse: WindyBits.

In the past few months, I’ve become more interested in the Chicago technology “scene.” (“Scene” is a funny word when you’re talking about techies and startups, but I don’t have a better word.) Chicago is home to plenty of cool startups and interesting tech types, but the coverage sucks. I’m aiming to change that.

WindyBits is a site dedicated to covering the ideas, events, and people in Chicago technology. We feature:

This is a fun project for me, and just a side project, but it’s a lot of work! Anyway, you, the loyal jotsheet reader, are invited to slide on over to WindyBits and offer encouragement and suggestions. Oh, and an incoming link from you important bloggers wouldn’t hurt.

WordPress file permissions

After disabling php-cgiwrap, I got in the bad habit of chmod’ing files and directories to 777. Bad idea. A helpful reminder about WordPress file permissions and security got me back in line with 755 for directories, 644 for plugins and core WP PHP files, and 666 for my active theme files.

In so doing, I’ve had to disable WP-Cache, but since the site seems to be peachy since I switched back to using the PHP Apache module (default), I think the performance/availability will be fine.

Related security tidbit: Using require() with an external file to increase security on wp-config.php’s database password storage.
Continue Reading »