Friday, August 26, 2011

Mint is now just a marketing gimmick.

When first launched it was a breath of fresh air. It allowed you to easily track your spending by correctly aggregating all your financial data into a central repository. Lets fast forward to now that Intuit bought the company. The data from ING Direct has become nearly worthless because all Paper bill payments get changed to a description of 'Payer' and a category of 'Printing Services'. All Electronic bill payments get changed to 'Electronic Payment Systems' with a category of 'Business Services'. I have to go in manually and fix these for every transaction that is imported. There is no way to fix this problem via the Mint "rules" interface.

Who cares about your product actually working when it's free to use and you make tons of money off referrals getting people to switch to a new credit card with lower interest rates, right?

Way to blow it Intuit. You took something that was special and turned it into something sub-par.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Running Virtualbox as a Windows Service

I recently found a great tool which handles running Oracle's Virtual Box VM software as a Windows service. It is called VBoxVmService and only requires a couple simple changes to an .ini file and running a single command as administrator. Check it out.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Clear mobile broadband glaring omission

I recently bought an ASUS Eee Pad Transformer 32GB and was looking to add a mobile hot-spot as a back-up Internet connection at my house and for access during road trips. The plan was to ditch my back-up DSL connection and just go with an inexpensive unlimited 4G/3G mobile broadband plan like Clear provides. Clear seems to have the best prices hands down for mobile broadband but they really dropped the ball by only offering a dongle solution for their 4G/3G service. If you want to use a hot-spot device your only option is their 4G service. That is going to leave you high and dry unless you are in a major city. I'll have to wait until Clear sees the light or a competitor fills the void they have left open.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thunderbird 3 Compact/Expunge Current Folder Shortcut

Using Keyconfig for creating shortcuts in Mozilla products has been around for a long time. With Thunderbird 3 I struggled with figuring out how to create a shortcut to compact/expunge the current folder. The examples that show up in a Google search tend to be the solution for compacting all the folders. This tends to be time consuming if you have even a moderate amount of email. The solution was provided here:

Adding a Compact Folder Button to Thunderbird 3.0

If you are familiar with Keyconfig the short answer, without visiting the site, is the following key command:


This will compact and expunge the current folder.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dell Does Not Care

Someone recently pointed out a twitter account that Dell is using to address customer service issues for their customers; it's called @DellCares. Oh the irony.

On March 17th 2011 I ordered a new laptop from Dell called the XPS 17 +3D. I've ordered dozens of systems (home and enterprise) from Dell over the years and after completing the order I noticed that the lead time to build and deliver the laptop was nearly a MONTH (4/12/2011)! This felt excessive to me so I checked out the Dell XPS forums at Notebook Review. I found a couple of threads that really opened my eyes as to how incompetent Dell has become.

One of the first things I saw that infuriated me was that people who ordered identical spec systems (except for the drive size) in the U.S., days after me, had already received their orders. @DellCares and Dell Customer Service had no answer as to why this could/would occur. Every email or voice mail I received from Dell was always the same answer; "Your order is In Production with an estimated delivery date of April 12th." It didn't matter what question I asked it was always the same robotic sounding script being read to me over and over.

My order delay is minor compared to some who have had their orders delayed over a month. Every call to Dell Customer Service people hear a different excuse about delayed parts. The website requires that you order $150 nVidia 3D glasses which can be had on Amazon for $100. Some, who have been lucky enough to receive the system, have been waiting over a month for their 3D glasses to arrive. One of the newest and most disturbing exuses from Dell Customer Service is that there is a bug in the motherboard that prevents the use of 16GB of memory in the system. Many people, including myself, specifically bought this system with the intention of upgrading to 16GB of memory upon receipt of the system. Dell's own 16GB upgrade option being $100 more than buying/installing the memory ones self. More disturbing is that Dell has removed the 16GB option from the order pages for the XPS 17 3D. Here I sit waiting for a system that may have to be returned anyway because of false advertising.

My advice to you if you ever plan on buying any Dell equipment? Read the horror stories people have had ordering with Dell since the first of the year (2011). More and more threads are started every day on the forums and if you read them, like me, you'll get the immediate impression that Dell Does Not Care.

EDIT 1: I contacted Dell about the fact that the exact same spec systems were now $100 less after coupon promotions. They would not budge on reducing the price even though my system is no were near being completed. The best I could do was get an upgrade to Next Business Day shipping which advanced my EDD to 4/8/2011. This was a ~$40 option since I had upgraded to 3-5 Business Day shipping when first purchasing the system. This original upgrade wasn't removed when adding the NBD. My other option was cancelling and reordering (can you imagine?).

EDIT 2: I got a response back from @DellCares on 4/4/2011. Apparently my 500GB Hard Drive is on back order. That is apparently a perfectly acceptable reason for delaying a delivery indefinitely. Here is an idea Dell; call the customer and ask if they want to upgrade to a 640GB drive. Hell, offer to throw it in for free. It probably costs you like $5 more for that drive and you know it.

EDIT 3: I received my 3D glasses today (4/7/2011). Useless.

EDIT 4: Received a message from Dell today (4/8/2011) claiming that my laptop delivery has been delayed and now has an Estimated Delivery Date of 4/15/2011. So right up until the day it was supposed to be in my hands they had no idea it wasn't going to make it on time? You've got to be kidding me.

EDIT 5: I got a call from Dell Corporate (4/8/2011) after emailing [email protected] and [email protected] and sending them a link to my blog post. It's going to take them until Tuesday to figure out why my order isn't on time.

EDIT 6: Dell followed up again on the order (4/12/2011). They still don't have any 500GB drives and that is why my order is delayed. If you read my original post you'll see that I mentioned there were people who ordered 3-6 days after me with the exact same specs EXCEPT opting for the 640GB drive. So what this tells me is that my laptop has been delayed weeks just because of the drive.

EDIT 7: I got another call today (4/13/2011) with a follow up about the unavailable drive. Dell has recommended that I cancel and reorder with the 640GB drive. Well they got it half right. Dell is contacting me tomorrow but I'm just going to cancel all together and get a return shipping label for the glasses. The funny thing is that if you order the 640GB drive on the website as of right now it states that it may delay your order. It's the ONLY standard single drive available for order now. Ultimately the reason I'm not going to order is because they have removed the 16GB option. There were people on forums who said that CSRs had been telling them that Dell had discovered a bug that was causing BSODs when the system had 16GB installed. If the system doesn't support 16GB of memory I don't want it.

More and more people on the forums have been cancelling their orders. Time for me to do the same. I don't see how I could possibly purchase or recommend a Dell product ever again.

EDIT 8: I received the credit for the 3D glasses today (4/27/2011). Dell customer service still continues to call me (because the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing) but I just let it go to voice mail. I have no desire to speak with these incompetents any longer. I'm going to wait until next month and go with an ASUS G74 once they are released. My initial reasoning for not going with an ASUS was because they do not offer on-site support. Issues require mailing the laptop to a service center. This hasn't changed but anything has to be better than dealing with Dell ever again. Also, don't be fooled by the comment from Dell on this blog post. That person did nothing to help resolve this issue other than repeat a bunch of information I'd already been given by all the other CSRs who contacted me. Dell Does Not Care.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Checking URL HTTP response codes from the command line.

I was recently looking for a good way to check a specific url for response codes using curl. I came across the following blog post. Kudos to the author for posting the solution.

Monday, February 7, 2011

FOLLOW UP AGAIN: Kenmore / Whirlpool dryer won’t stay running or heat?

It's been over a year and a half since the last issue we've had with this hunk of junk dryer. This time it popped a circuit and fried the main board. I ended up having to get the extended warranty (you can get a $200 1 year extended warranty for any sears appliance that is less than 10 years old) to have it be replaced (I didn't know what the exact issue was and I wasn't going to pay to replace part after part until it was fixed). AVOID THESE PRODUCTS.

Converting from mbox to Maildir with Postfix and Dovecot on Debian

This is the procedure I used for converting from mbox to Maildir with Postfix and Dovecot running Debain 5.x. This assumes that you have individual system accounts for each mail user and that the mbox files are currently in /var/spool/mail/USER and /home/USER/mail/FOLDERS.

All the following commands/edits will need to be done as root:

Install mb2md:

aptitude install mb2md

Stop the mail servers:

/etc/init.d/postfix stop
/etc/init.d/dovecot stop

Edt the /etc/posfix/

home_mailbox = Maildir/

Edit the /etc/procmailrc (if you are using procmail for local delivery/filtering):


Edit the /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf:

mail_location = maildir:~/Maildir

At this point I'd backup the user accounts just in case there is an issue.

Create a bash script with the following and execute it:

for i in $( ls -1 /home ); do
su -l -c 'mb2md -m' $i; ## convert /var/spool/mail/USER
su -l -c 'mb2md -s mail -R' $i;

At this point you will need to restart the mail servers:

/etc/init.d/dovecot start
/etc/init.d/postfix start