Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Now, that, is customer service (Thanks, Motorola Mobility!)

*edited 2012.12.11 for th link*
I hesitantly dipped my toes into the icy waters of smartphone sea last year. Despite my techie inclinations and interest in bleeding edge technologies, I'm a bell-curve purchaser. My frugal nature wins out 99% of the time.

For example, I am still rocking my AMD/ATI 3850* on a AMD 6400 (x2) BE system...and I, at one point, fancied myself a gamer. It, somehow, still gets the job done on my monstrous(/s) 19", 1280x1024 Hanns-G screen*. I did upgrade to 4 GB of RAM, Windows 7, and an SSD (64 GB) last Fall, but with the expectation of at least three more years before I perform a new build. At most, I'll upgrade my video card prior to that...but probably won't convince myself.

So, smartphones...yeah, my wife's LG Ally, bought used, has been acting up and I came across a steal on craigslist (not literally) -- $110 for a Droid 3 with a clean ESN. Met the guy after work and made the trade. Performed a couple of benchmarks where it handily wiped the floor with our current phones and traded blows with our ThinkPad. Not bad for the price. We are former Verizon users currently enjoying the drastic price reduction of Page Plus Cellular bills (roughly $60/mo now vs $130-$150 on Verizon with 'dumb' phones). Obviously, we have to buy our own phones now...and our data is limited (100MB/mo**), but on Verizon, we'd have to pay another $40-$50 to share data between our our change has been a welcome one. For the record, we each have enough data to check email / browse casually when out of wifi range, and, most importantly, use GPS functionality when necessary.

Check out your new phone, Wife. Oh, it was noth-...oh, the camera doesn't work? When clicking the camera app (or, any 3rd party variant), it simply displays a black screen and half-way locks up the phone until the app is closed? Balls.

I tinkered with the device...scoured forums, and it seems that this isn't a software issue. I was going to flash a new Rom -- try ICS or Jelly Bean on it, but hardware was, apparently, the culprit. Some others had success with hard-pressing the area around the camera. I didn't. I was about to take that thing apart...maybe replace the camera module myself (buy a broken screen / dirty ESN d3 on ebay?), but thought I'd check the warranty. Verizon was out of the question, since I wasn't a legit customer...but I decided to give Motorola a try. Long story short, I filled out the Warranty Service Request and am on my way to having a repaired/replaced Droid 3.

But, there is more. I had to ship my device to Motorola (reasonable, since there is no Motorola store near-by). They spelled everything out in the email: "ship without the back cover, the battery, the SIM card, any micro SD card you've inserted, and any accessories you've added." Easy enough, except that I can't follow instructions. I put the back cover on after I removed the essentials.

No problem, though. I didn't even realize I had made the mistake until I received the back of my phone in the mail today with a polite note saying "We know you failed to follow our instructions, but here's the back of your phone that you shipped us, anyway. Your phone should be there within a week. Take care."

Obviously, it would have been ideal if the camera didn't break to begin with (although, realistically, I'd not have been able to purchase it for $110 if that were the case). Or, for that matter, if the back could just be placed on the replacement/repaired phone prior to shipping it back...but I'm pretty impressed that Motorola will service the device and doesn't totally pawn their warranty services off on the carrier (Verizon).

If I don't get my phone back or it comes back still broken, I'll be a little sad...but, for now, I'm a little more happy with Motorola Mobility than I guessed I would be and hope Google does good things with them.

* my monitor died (5 years -- not bad) so i replaced it with a 1080p Asus. the 3850 showed its age even more pushing the extra pixels, so i got a AMD HD 7790 a couple of months ago for $100 and it came with three games (which I would have never purchased otherwise). not bad. my processor is holding back my framerates, now.
** this was just bumped to 250MB, then 500MB for (seemingly) no reason, and no extra cost. I don't stream audio or video, but this allows me to very rarely use wifi (for backing up phone) anymore. thanks, pp.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Google Chrome > Huge History File

I noticed that my new(ish) SSD drive was really running low on space. I've been really careful to map all my user files to my larger HDDs so I didn't anticipate this happening. I tried running Disk Cleanup to no avail. I finally ran WinDirStat and found a huge, 21GB 'History' file in my "C:\Users\[user]\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\" folder. I was able to simply delete it (I closed Chrome first, but am not sure if it was necessary). To be fair, I tried clearing my history through Chrome luck. I've heard that a properly configured CCleaner would have done the job as well. Hope this helps someone!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Music Player / Music Management Software


This is more of a rant than a legitimate article.

Winamp is old(/paid software sucks) -- Let's get a replacement

what do you use for music management / playback? i used Winamp (winaMP3) for music playing/management until recently, and finally decided to switch (it felt really old). however, it is my reference/benchmark. i want any replacement to do what it did for me (watch multiple folders, playlists, global hotkeys) and more (not feel so dated, be less of a resource hog, natively scrobble to, allow mass tagging). those are reasonable expectations, right?


i switched to Songbird bc i prefer programs that aren't 'free' with a separate 'paid version,' when possible. it had some good reviews/recommendations and lots of neat features...the website was well done. however, it has a horrible UI when it comes to a 'now playing' section // interactive playlist. apparently, this has been a problem for 4 years or so. until it gets fixed, i decided to look elsewhere since that is such a big part of my listen-flow.


i'd downloaded foobar2000 a while ago (when i first heard of songbird) but was turned off by just how bland it looked (especially on Windows XP). after just having installed it again, i'm pretty happy. it seems to be pretty capable. i did spend 20 minutes getting it configured to my liking (added freedb tagger and audio scrobbler for posting) and making adjustments to the layout. i may look into some various themes...but am a fan, so far.


of course, there's itunes. but (like winamp), it feels bloated and i can't stand that it keeps pushing quicktime on me and running services in the background. it probably does most of the stuff i want, be fair.


anyone have any other suggestions?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bandcamp Downloader


I made a downloader for Bandcamp (/SoundCloud). Check it out: /

2013.05.17 Update:

I just took the site down. I may rename/appropriate it for SoundCloud usage only since it does that fairly well, too. The BandCamp portion has been removed. See the site for details and participate in the survey there.

2012.03.17 Update:

Just added -- basic SoundCloud support. Because SoundCloud hosts user uploads, however, naming is much less likely to be (as) accurate.


I like Bandcamp.  It is a clean site that straight-links offsite to a band's page of choice, enables streaming and purchase, makes use of HTML5, and has an impressive variety of music.

While I have a smartphone, I only have 100MB/month for my data.  I pay $30/month...give me a break.  So, I use a 16GB SD card to keep (some) music with me.  I'm also very much "try before you buy".  If I've bought the last 2 CDs by a band, I can do a blind buy...but otherwise, I want to know I'll listen regularly before I shell out my money.  I'm still hesitant of digital only purchases (i know, right?); even though the first thing I do when I get a CD is rip it (to .ogg).

So, I made a bandcamp downloader.  Because Bandcamp makes use of HTML5 (maybe flash fallback, for older browser support?) to play their audio, their source links are pretty much out and the open.  At first, I parsed through some source code to download the songs I wanted to listen to on my commute.  I rarely get the chance to listen at my house...sitting in front of my computer.  However, I was dissapointed that there was not an easier way.

I found a few pages that had bookmarlets, extensions, and js scripts to do the task...but they seemed a little more difficult then I prefer my user experiences to be, and some were browser-dependent.

After making my experiment, I ran across the following two solutions:

  1. Bandcamp Download ( is kinda similar to what I wanted to do...but excels more at entire album downloads because it compresses (to .tar.gz -- a linux format to scare off users after the server's done the downloading work, i guess) for a single download. It seems to be down alot, though.
  2. Offliberty ( seems to grab A file from the referenced page.  Due to this, it works best on individual song pages.  It works on artist or album pages, but only grabs the first track, and the forced download doesn't name the download with artist/album/track information.  
I wanted something a little more obvious...and am glad my work wasn't totally pointless.

Here's the result...the Bandcamp Downloader ( /

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fix: The dependency service or group failed to start // found new hardware

Short post.

I had a problem with a client's machine that suddenly failed to connect to his wireless network. Tried phone support/advice: I knew his machine...probably, his network adapter went down. Recommended he get USB adapter.

No help.

I went to visit. Installed USB wireless adapter. Still can't connect. On login, new hardware found (not related to new wireless device). Disabled old, presumed non-working, adapter. Still finding new hardware and failing to get drivers. Strange.

On mouseover of system tray network icon, "The dependency service or group failed to start" is displayed.

Google it.

A few forums had some fixes...none seemed to work. Even tried (from elevated command prompt) "netsh winsock reset" a couple of times. No help.

Finally found a forum comment that helped (

[from elevated command prompt -- type 'cmd' in start menu search, right-click and 'run as administrator']

1) netsh winsock reset
2) netsh int ip reset
3) net localgroup administrators localservice /add
4) net localgroup administrators networkservice /add
5) exit
Then reboot.

I'm sure you could have found this otherwise...but I hope more links to it/posts about it with the fix that worked for me can only help, right?