Multi-protocol IM web client with Facebook support

I had been using Trillian to IM all my friends from ICQ, AIM, MSN, Yahoo, and gTalk; however, I switched to the web-based awhile back. Anyways, after being a little frustrated with the feature-lacking Facebook chat feature I just discovered that they added Facebook support to Meebo!

It’s very basic as well, but you can see a list of FB online friends and determine at a glance when they come off from being idle. The input area is nicer as well and each post shows a time which is nice. Check it out. Meebo is a free service.

Obama accepts blame for AIG bonuses, but not really

From the WSJ:

“Washington is all in a tizzy and everybody is pointing fingers at each other and saying it’s their fault, the Democrats’ fault, the Republicans’ fault,” he said at a town hall meeting Wednesday. “Listen, I’ll take responsibility. I’m the President.

He also make clear that it isn’t really his fault. “We didn’t grant these contracts,” he said.

HAHAHA You gotta love politicians…at least for their entertainment value.

Bluetooth built into the iPod Touch 2nd gen

I’ve been reading a lot of the coverage of the new iPhone 3.0 update and only one site has mentioned the fact that during the Q&A, Apple said that Bluetooth can be “unlocked” on the iPod Touch 2g.

Here’s the exact quote from the GDGT live blog coverage:

11:43AM Q: Bluetooth on the iPod touch?
A: Bluetooth is a capability we can “unlock” on the latest-gen iPod touch.

I remember reading some blurbs on speculation that a Bluetooth chip was already in the Touch 2nd gen. However, I guess this pretty much confirms it and indicates Apple will be turning it on. Pretty big deal IMHO for the many Touch owners. Be awesome if it was part of 3.0 upgrade.

Speed up FTP transfer by disabling SPI on your router

My VOIP phone service ViaTalk recommended I disable SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection) on my router for better performance.

I did a little research and it appears that the primary purpose for this is to prevent DoS attacks which seems like overkill on a home router. Anyways, disabling didn’t seem to improve my VOIP service, but I was uploading a file today and was getting a significant upload speed improvement, maybe 20+%. Downloads seem faster as well. Nice!

Of course, if that is all this option is designed to do, it seems kind of stupid to have it on by default in a home-level router.

Note: On my DLink DIR-655 the option is under Firewall Settings on the Advanced tab.

I should mention it speeds up downloads as well. A friend of mine who lives in Chicago was already getting an astounding 29,877 kbps down and 4655 kbps up. He switched SPI off and it increased to 32, 185 kbps down and 8,328 kbps up!

ViaTalk update

Well, the ViaTalk service got put through it’s paces the last couple days…by my wife ;-) I wanted to see if she would notice the difference and did she.

The problem we are seeing is that it sometimes takes 30-45 seconds to connect on outgoing calls. Much longer than our analog phone line. I think it’s something we’ll just get used to. On the oncoming side, we haven’t noticed any difference.

Based on my research, this seems to be fairly common with no magic fix. I contacted techsupport and they promptly replied asking me to put the VOIP box in DMZ and to turn off SPI on my router. That didn’t seem to make much difference.

In the end, my wife and I felt that the connection delay is a small price to pay considering how inexpensive the service is.

On the positive side, I’m really liking all the bells and whistles. One thing I found is that you can bring up a call log and easily create custom routings to, for example, block calls, which is handy if you get a lot of solicitation calls like we do.

I still highly recommend the service assuming one understands the issues that go with it. I just sent in my phone number transfer request so I am now officially jumping in with both feet.

After disabling SPI and putting the device in DMZ, all of a sudden my PC modem is recognizing caller ID info. Coincidence? I hope not.

I had the been routing the phone cable into my PC’s modem and using the pass-thru to connect the phone. It occurred to me that maybe somehow that was interfering with the phone-to-VOIP unit connection and thus contributing to the connection delays. Well, I connected it directly and it appears to be working better. Got my fingers crossed.

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Ordered my first Kindle book for my iPod Touch

I don’t own a Kindle, nor do I intend on buying one; however, I just ordered my first Kindle book, “Daemon” by Daniel Suarez. I’ll be reading it on my iPod Touch.

I scoff at anyone that thinks the Touch (or iPhone) can’t be someone’s main Kindle eBook reader. These people are either A) old; B) trying to justify the $359 you already wasted on a Kindle; or C) don’t read ebooks. I also predict that non-Kindle people will soon be the main consumers of Kindle books.

My 15yo daughter actually LOL’d when I told her that some people think you can’t read an entire eBook on a Touch. That somehow there is some kind of severe handicap doing it.

I also think that the WhisperSync feature, while cool, is too cumbersome to depend on. Syncing, in general, sucks, albeit often necessary.

ViaTalk pretty cool so far

Got my Linksys PAP2T VOIP box from ViaTalk a couple days ago and AT&T *finally* turned on the call forwarding feature I ordered–2 DAYS?! C’MON! LAME! Anyways, I forwarded my landline number to the ViaTalk number and unplugged my landline…hopefully for good. All my home calls should now route through ViaTalk. If there are no showstoppers, I’ll transfer my landline number and close my AT&T account.

Although I’ve clued my wife into the fact that I’m trying something new with the phone, she rarely pays much attention to me, so I’ll only hear about it if there are problems. The only real difference she should notice is that voicemails won’t be on the physical answering machine–not that she checks them regularly anyways. I think that if a week goes by and she doesn’t even realize the difference, I’m good to “go”…and so is AT&T HAHA.

ViaTalk has some very cool features and it only cost me $199 for two years for an unlimited plan. After that, I’ll probably go for a fixed minute plan since we don’t really use the landline that much. The $199 deal just ended up being cheaper initially.

So what’s cool about ViaTalk? Well the voicemail is neat. I’ve got it set up so that all messages are emailed to me. They also include anonymous caller handling which I had to pay extra for with AT&T. It’s more powerful too. You can have them authenticate where the caller will be prompted to enter a series of numbers to confirm that it is a real caller and not an automated dialing system; send them directly to voicemail; give ’em a busy signal; or, just block their asses with a recording informing them they are blocked. HAHA. Love it. You can whitelist numbers too.

The Custom Call Routing feature allows you to route callers using patterns and not just a full phone number. So if you want to block all area code 877 callers you just enter 1877. Similar to anonymous calls you can set what happens. Send them to vmail; give them a busy signal; tell them they have been blocked or “BLACKLISTED” (not sure what the implications are); or, my fav, tell the caller to stop calling.

These are some of my fav features, but there are a ton more and you can check them all out here.

Why keep my landline? Well I thought about ditching it, but I find it’s often nice to give out a central number and it helps keep people from calling my cell phone unless I really want them to be able to reach me. For less then ten bucks I month, it’s not too much of a luxury. AT&T was costing me $70/mo! (My cable company also offers a VOIP service, but that was $22 extra a month.)

What do I miss? Well, we won’t be able to monitor messages on the phone’s built-in answering machine anymore. I guess I still could use the physical answering machine with ViaTalk, but then I’m gaining the ability to get messages via email. I also have my landline running through the Misterhouse home automation app on my server and the PC’s modem doesn’t recognize incoming calls now. However, ViaTalk can handle blocking and logging, so it’s not a big deal. I may try a different modem card, but I suppose it’s time to give up an arguably arcane set up.

So far, I’d highly recommend ViaTalk to replace your landline. Get in on their unlimited 2-year $199 special while it lasts.

Awesome Japanese T-Shirts with profanity

You gotta love the Japanese (yeah I’m one!). Check out the SEXPOT ReVeNGe line of T-Shirts touted as the “Japanese New Punk Style”. Not sure why they are being sold by a Japanese CD site, but hey, I guess clothes and music are closely connected. They are about $30US which seems a bit high, but I suppose profanity done right has it’s cost.

Some of my favorite are:

Rude Spit
Screw You
F*ck You Baby
Screw You
Mother F*cker

*edited to keep the site PG-13 ;-)

Mousing Lefty Style: Week 4

It’s still unnatural, but still no compelling reason to go back to mousing righty style. Not dealing with the pain in my right index finger is nice.

There have been unexpected consequences, however. I’m having to learn to do things that I normally don’t do with my right hand like drinking coffee. In fact, a lot of things on my desk are geared toward having my mouse on the right side and other things on the left. It can be awkward at times, but it’s easier to learn to do stuff with my dominant hand.

Previous entries: Start, Week 1, Week 2