CategoryTechnology

Chromebooks, Linux, and Lenovo

Have you ever made a technology purchase without fully researching the device to make sure you can use it the way you want to?  I have, and many times I’ve come to regret it.  My recent purchase of a Lenovo Thinkpad 11e Chromebook is trying to turn into one of those times.

 

I have a collection of sad old obsolete laptops that are essentially tethered permanently to an electrical outlet to function.  They’re also mostly large and bulky, so not ideal for on-the-go use.  I also have an old Asus eee Netbook that was the main computer I used when out and about, but it was slow and not able to do too much at once without being bogged down.

 

About a month ago, I decided it was finally time to put some of my junkers out to pasture, and to replace them with a relatively small laptop with modern power and capabilities.  I primarily use Linux, and had no interest in purchasing any devices with Windows 8, but was intrigued by the many nice Chromebooks coming onto the market.

 

I had been skeptical of Chromebooks initially.  What’s the value in a device you can mostly only use when online?  Well, almost anywhere I go, an internet connection is available, so that’s really less and less a concern for me.  I also saw many articles on the subject of running Linux from a Chromebook.  It seemed like the perfect solution.  Relatively affordable hardware, in sizes I was looking for, and the possibility of using Linux as desired.

 

Most of the articles and posts I saw were about Acer Chromebooks.  I had basically narrowed down my search to a couple Acer models and a couple Asus models.  But then I found that my company had deals for purchasing laptops through Dell and Lenovo.  I looked at the Dell and Lenovo offerings, and found the Lenovo device very appealing.  I had a Lenovo laptop that I really liked using, which eventually found its way into my wife’s hands.  I had recommended the same model to my mom when she needed a new laptop, and she has had good luck with it as well.  Additionally, I had used Lenovo laptops at work previously and they were always solid.

 

The decision was made.  I ordered a Lenovo Thinkpad 11e Chromebook.  If only I had bothered to do some more research ahead of time, I might have realized that apparently no one else has attempted to run Linux on this model, or if they have, they haven’t bothered to write about it anywhere I’ve found online.

 

Troubleshooting Efforts

I wrote up my entire process and posted it to LinuxQuestions.org.  I got some helpful replies from other forum users, but I’m still looking for a solution.  Here’s the rundown of my processes, maybe someone reading this post will have some insights.

 

I made a backup of ChromeOS, switched the device to developer mode, and I’ve tried a couple things to get “legacy boot” to work, but no joy so far. Upon booting, I’ve tried hitting CTRL+L to get legacy boot and then hitting ESC to see a list of options as several articles suggested, but that didn’t work.

 

I did find an article that showed me how to set the dev_boot_usb=1 and dev_boot_legacy=1 as shown in the screenshot below. I set these parameters by hitting CTRL+ALT+=> (with => being the forward arrow, or what would be the F2 key on a normal keyboard) and running the following commands after logging in as the user “chronos”

 

sudo crossystem dev_boot_usb=1

 

sudo crossystem dev_boot_legacy=1

CTRL+I

CTRL+I

Later, I found another piece of the puzzle.  Upon booting, before logging in, I hit the CTRL + ALT + => and actually read all the stuff that shows up in the terminal.

 

I logged in as chronos, became root, then input the following command:

 

enable_dev_usb_boot

 

Supposedly this command would let me boot from USB, or so said all the terminal info at the login prompt. From here, the instructions said to hit CTRL + U at the developer mode screen, and I should be able to boot from USB. I did so, and the device appeared to restart rather than giving me the option to boot from USB.  I say “appeared” because the screen goes black and I hear system beeps, but I never see a list of boot options.

 

Interactions with Lenovo

Out of desperation, I decided to give Lenovo support a call.  None of the manuals or documentation I was able to find on my device through their website cover any of these topics.  The first time I called, after explaining the situation, which is admittedly a lot to get through in a brief introduction on the phone, the support representative flatly told me that they didn’t support whatever I was trying to do, and she was being a bit curt with me, possibly due to some miscommunication, so I didn’t press the matter.  Didn’t have a lot of time to get into an argument just then.

 

I tried last night to call support a second time.  Everyone I spoke with was friendly and professional, however, the process on their end could use some improvement.  The first person I spoke with said I had an Ideapad based on the serial number I read off to her.  The device is definitely a Thinkpad, it says so right on the front of it, but I let her transfer me to the Ideapad people.  When I got on with the Ideapad guy, I had to give him all the same information I gave the first lady.  Name, address, phone number, issue, etc etc.  After giving him the serial number, he realized the device was in fact a Thinkpad, as I knew all along, and transferred me back to the Thinkpad people.

 

The next lady I spoke with also needed the same information from me.  Name, address, phone number, issue, etc etc.  She then spoke with a technical resource and they came to the conclusion I needed to talk to someone in software support, and not hardware support, so I was transferred again.

 

The software support lady needed all the same information.  Name, address, phone number, issue, etc etc.  After I relayed all the information to her, she spoke with a technical advisor, and then assured me that they could resolve my issue, but my warranty only covered hardware issues, and I’d need to purchase some support for software issues like the one I was having.  Well, there were a couple different options presented, but they all cost more than I wanted to spend to figure this out, in some cases, almost 2/3 of the price of just buying another Chromebook.  In one case, I had to commit to purchasing 10 months of support at a minimum.  I thanked her for her time and said I’d continue pursuing resolution on my own.

 

What I left wondering was what happened to all that information I supplied with each new person I spoke with.  Presumably each of the 4 people I spoke with was entering all my information into a system somewhere.  How come none of that data transferred from one person to the next?  I realize I wasn’t paying for Cadillac service or anything, just the standard hardware warranty coming with my device, but it seems like that information should’ve been able to be shared between operators I spoke with.  Instead, it seemed like they were just hitting the transfer button.  I’m not trying to be super critical of Lenovo, just an observation on how the support process might be improved.

 

A Request for Assistance

If you or someone you know has experience running Linux on a Lenovo Thinkpad 11e Chromebook, I’d sure appreciate some assistance figuring out what I’m missing or what I’m doing wrong.  I just want to boot the device from a Fedora live USB, then install Linux onto an SD Card.  I have no reason to believe this isn’t possible, but so far, I don’t have a track record of success.  Please see my post on LinuxQuestions.org for further context.

 

My next step is going to be taking the device to the next meeting of the Kansas City Linux Users Group in the hopes that someone there will have some experience, or that putting together the minds of many Linux users will be the X-factor I need to get this thing working the way I want.  I would’ve gone last week, but had to make an unexpected trip to San Francisco to attend Dreamforce 2015.  So it will be another couple weeks before I can seek help from the KC LUG in person.

 

I’ll post updates if I find a solution.  If you have any advice or experience running Linux on a Chromebook, particularly on a Lenovo Thinkpad 11e Chromebook, please comment below.

Own Your Name

This concept didn’t originate with me, and I can’t find the site(s) where I originally read about the importance of owning your own name online.  I’m not trying to take someone else’s idea here, just emphasize the truth behind the idea.  You need to own your own name online.

I realized a long time ago that you need to own your name in the form of a website.  I own basically every variation of russellhollander I can get my hands on, .net, .biz, .us, .org, .whatever.  I bought these domains so I don’t have anybody else out there operating under my name.  Not that anybody would do so maliciously, but if they are also named Russell Hollander.  Well, I was here first, and that’s going to be me.  You can find a different name to operate under online.  Someone else before me got rhollander and hollander, so I took russellhollander.

I hadn’t considered how this same logic applies to social media though.  Honestly I find social media kind of tiring.  I maintain a Facebook and a Twitter, but I don’t particularly care for them.  I keep FB going because I’ve got a ton of friends on there from college, and don’t have another way of being in touch with them.  I guess I could get their phones and email addresses, but it’s easier to just let FB handle all that for me.  I keep it pretty locked down though.  I kind of view Twitter as my public face on social media, but I barely send out any tweets.  I mostly use it to just keep track of news.  I guess I have a Google+ as well, don’t do anything with that.  Oh yeah, and Linked in.  Guess I should make better use out of these things.

But the Instagram Imposter episode has taught me that you need to own your name on social media too, even when it is annoying.  I don’t know anything about Instagram other than Facebook owns it.  Yet some miscreant got on there, set up an account with basically my name, stole my photo from Twitter, and at least had the decency to also post this web address.  I can’t really see that the person did anything with the account.  No activity.  I would’ve never even known about it unless a couple friends of mine told me they were following me on there.  Well, you can’t follow me on Instagram as of this writing, because I don’t use an Instagram.  But maybe I should.  Someone else is out there pretending to be me.  I can’t have that.

In the end, Instagram removed that account, so for now the issue is resolved.  I’d still like to know if it was a person creating that, or if Instagram somehow scrubbed publicly available data and made that account to inflate their numbers, as was suggested by a friend of mine in the web design, SEO, and marketing business.

The whole point I’m rambling towards is that you probably should have an account for yourself with these services, if nothing else so your presence on the web is actually coming from you.  Most of us are insignificant enough no one would bother to take our names or try to pretend to be us, but I don’t know why you’d even give out the opportunity.  Maybe that’s a paranoid way of looking at things, but I’d look at is as proactive.

Flashdrive Linux Saves the Day

As I have mentioned previously on this blog, I never go anywhere without a bootable Linux flashdrive. The fact that Linux is so portable is one of my favorite things about it. I have at various times kept Fedora, Linux Mint, and Puppy on my flashdrive, but for the last couple months, my mobile distro of choice has been Knoppix.

 

Before I switched to Knoppix, I had been using Puppy. I liked it, but I wanted to try something different. I started doing a little research, and decided to try either Puredyne or Knoppix. Puredyne has a focus on creative media, and looks very interesting, but I ultimately decided to go with Knoppix. Knoppix, like Puppy, Fedora, and some other distros, has encryption as part of the setup process, which is a big plus for a computer I’m carrying around in my pocket in case I lose it. It is also Debian-based, so it benefits from Debian’s vast software library and stability. I downloaded the ISO, and wrote it to my 8 gig flashdrive.

 

I’m not going to go into great details about how to set up and use Knoppix. I found it to be pretty intuitive, and I’m not a super-guru or anything. I just want to talk about some of the things I’ve done with it. These same things could be accomplished with other Linux distros, too.

 

One of my co-workers was having a virus problem on his personal laptop, so I booted his computer from my Knoppix flashdrive, ran a Clam antivirus scan, removed 3 viruses and he was then able to load and use Windows as normal. I’ve since used Clam on Knoppix to remove viruses from several other computers with the same level of success. Clam is available on many distros, so if you’re looking for a Linux antivirus that you can also use to rescue other systems, Clam is worth checking out.

 

The most recent example I have had of Linux on a flashdrive completely saving the day happened last weekend. My family are corvette enthusiasts, and every year they host the 4th Annual Corvette Meet and Greet at Ron Hulett Chevrolet at Lake of the Ozarks (Click here for pictures). I went down to my parents house that weekend to help out with the show and run the sound. We were expecting 90 cars to participate in the show, but over 100 ultimately showed up.

 

4th Annual Corvette Meet and Greet

My dad had a spreadsheets set up for participant registration and vote tabulation. My parents’ plan was to run the sound, registration, and voting off of their 4-5 year old Dell laptop running Windows XP, as they had done for the previous three years.

 

A couple hours into the show, the computer blue-screened and we couldn’t get Windows to boot. I wish I had taken time to pay attention to the blue screen messages, but time was of the essence, so I’m not sure exactly what went wrong. I booted the laptop off of my Knoppix drive, connected to the dealership’s wireless network, got a music playlist going on Grooveshark, and mounted the hard drive to get a copy of the registration and vote tabulation spreadsheets. Fortunately the drive mounted and I was able to save a copy of each to the flash drive and continue inputting data with LibreOffice Calc.

 

If I had not been carrying Linux on a flash drive, the corvette show would have been much more difficult to complete successfully. We would have had no music, and vote tabulation would have been a nightmare, with over 90 ballots, each with 16 classes to vote on. After the show was over, I ran a Clam scan and removed several viruses from the XP hard drive, and it was able to boot as normal after that, though I’m not sure if the viruses were the problem (though they couldn’t have been helping anything).

 

Next year, we’re running everything off of one of my Linux laptops. I think I’m going to make a database for registration and vote tabulation too, because I think it will be a better way to keep everything organized, even though the spreadsheet got the job done.

 

Do you carry around a Linux flashdrive everywhere you go? What distro do you use? Have you been able to save the day with Linux? Any cool stories? Share your story in the comments.

 

Update:  Thanks, LXer.com, TuxMachines.org, LinuxHomePage.com, and News.Ycombinator.com for linking to my blog post, I really appreciate it!

Upcoming Projects

I’m Back

Hello friends. It’s been quite a long time since my last post. I’ve had a lot going on with my new job and moving to a new apartment, but I’m going to be getting back into regular posting. I wanted to write about my short- and long-term upcoming projects, just to give a preview of things to come.

 

Upcoming Projects

  • Short Term: Within the span of a week I will be running Slackware on my original laptop, which I brought back to KC from my parents house over Easter Weekend. This is part of an ongoing effort I am launching to free myself of the shackles of the graphical user interface.
  • Medium Term: Within a month, I will have an iPod running with Rockbox in place of the normal iPod firmware.
  • Medium Term: Between one and three months from now, I will build a home theatre PC. Does anybody have a suggestion for what Linux distro to run on it? I’m looking into XBMC, but I’m open to alternatives.
  • Long Term: Between six months and a year from now, I will build a new desktop PC. My current desktop was pretty close to top of the line 3 years ago. Now it’s just average. I don’t really need to build a new top of the line PC, but I do want to put something newer and better together. I want to run a quad core processor, 8 gigs of RAM, and a 64-big OS, despite the fact that I have no real need for that sort of power. Maybe over the next year I’ll come up with some excuse to use that sort of horsepower.
  • Other: at some point I’d like to build my own radio. I don’t really have any other details on this project idea right now, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while.
  • Other: at some point I’d like to build a wort chiller.

 

I mentioned above that I want to learn Slackware. It’s the oldest Linux distribution out there.  I want to learn Slackware because it’s going to present challenges and opportunities for growth.  My plan is to run Slackware without a GUI, and still be able to do most (if not all) of the things I do now on a computer.  One important part of that GUI-free adventure is going to be browsing the internet.  I’ve already experimented with this on a limited basis using Lynx browser, which is 100% text-based.

 

Viewing Facebook Using Lynx Browser

So there you go.  These are a couple of the things I’m going to be working on over the next year.  If anybody has any suggestions for any other cool projects, let me know.  I’ll keep you all up to date on the progress.  Got any advice on how I should take on any of these projects?  Particularly Slackware?  I’ve been reading the Slackbook.  Have a good one.

Can You Trust Google? Why Take a Chance?

Google is the dominant search engine in the world right now, as everyone on the Internet surely knows. Their offerings go well beyond search engines though. You could live your entire digital life using only google products, and basically suffer no loss of productivity. They have Gmail, Google Docs, Google Reader, Google Goggles on Android (great app), and many more wonderful services/applications that I love to use. And their search engine results are typically very good. So good in fact that Bing copies Google’s search results.

I was not an early adopter of Google. In my early Internet days, I used Infoseek, because that’s the only search engine I was aware of, thanks to my dad telling me about it. Then during middle school I became aware of Yahoo, which most of my friends were using. I liked it, and stuck with Yahoo through my first year in college, even to the point of getting a Yahoo email address. I heard of Google in high school, but I didn’t start using it until later because if it ain’t broke, you don’t have to go fix it.

But Yahoo was sort of bloated. I liked Google’s clean interface. You go to Google.com, and you get an all-business search engine. Gradually over the years I’ve become Google-dependent. I used Gmail for all of my email correspondence until very recently. I’ve used Google Docs at school to work collaboratively with others. I use an Android phone, the great HTC Evo 4G. I love a lot of what Google does.

However, there are things I don’t love about Google. They’re very good at profiling you and targeting ads to you. Based on the contents of your Google searches and the contents of your emails, you receive targeted advertisements. I don’t like anyone knowing my habits and interests that well. I’m not saying someone is sitting around at Google reading through my Gmail, but it is obvious that they are matching key words or something.

Another thing to be aware of about Google: They have political opinions and objectives. This isn’t wrong, almost all corporations are influenced by or are influencers of government policies. I’m not going to get into what Google is all about politically, but they do have positions and take actions based on those positions.

Do you want a better, more secure, more private search engine? Give Duckduckgo a try. I’ve been using it almost exclusively for several months now. It’s great.  Also, their !Bang feature is awesome and extremely useful.

Click this link for a detailed explanation of why Duckduckgo is more private than Google.

Duckduckgo also has an official iPhone and iPad application and an official Android app is in the works. Until the official Android application arrives, there is an unofficial one that is pretty good.

I don’t think Google is evil or conspiratorial. I just don’t feel like being tracked that closely. I’m moving away from Gmail, and I use the superior (for my needs) Duckduckgo for my search engine. You should too.

Are you concerned about what Google knows about you? Well, they only know the information you give them. Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Let me know below.

Saline Linux Review

This is my first attempt at reviewing a Linux distribution. I’m excited, and I hope you’ll find it useful. I would definitely appreciate any feedback! I’m a user, not a developer, so I’ll be approaching this from a not-too-technical angle, focusing on asthetics and usability. Here goes.

I first became aware of Saline Linux when Anthony Nordquist posted a comment on one of my previous blog posts, Why I Use Linux. Toward the end of his comment he mentioned that he was working on a distribution of his own, and I said I would give it a try. I was excited to learn via Twitter that as of 1/16/2011, version 1.0 of Saline Linux is now available.

Saline Linux is built on Debian and features Xfce for its desktop environment. According to the About page on Saline’s website, “Saline OS includes many things that most people using a Debian GNU/Linux based system would most likely want or need, but are not included or not setup on a default Debian install for various reasons. This includes sgfxi for installing proprietary graphics drivers, Debian repositories that include software that does not conform to Debian’s strict free software guidelines, WINE repositories, Remastersys backup utility, binary firmware for common wireless network cards, the Debian backports repository and a script to install potentially patent encumbered multimedia codecs with one command.”

I torrented the iso file of the live dvd and set about to install it under Virtual Box. It booted up quickly, and I began the installation process. The installer was pretty straight forward and not atypical of many other Linux distributions. I did have an opportunity to stretch myself during the installaAtion though. Never before have I allocated any space to swap, but Saline required me to for installation. It wasn’t tough, but I’d never done it before, even though Fedora, or Ubuntu, or whatever always asks me to. That extremely minor challenge surmounted, the installation proceeded quickly.

Live DVD Desktop

Nautical Themed Login Screen

Neat Launcher Bar at the Bottom that Auto Hides Itself

Auto Update Command

Clean - Remove Browser History

User Manual

Automatic Update

The user manual, which is available on the desktop of both the live dvd and the installed system contains a lot of good information such as included software and an installation walkthrough.

Included in the manual is a script to add restricted multimedia codecs. This is extremely useful for someone who wants to use Linux as a Windows or Mac replacement. The codecs installed for me without any difficulties, allowing me to fully enjoy a wide variety of media formats.

Finally, the manual contains several pages of useful POSIX commands

I was pleased to see that Chromium is included as the default browser. I find that when I want a fast light system, especially for a netbook with limited screen space, that Chromium is the right browser for the job.

Another software choice was Gedit, rather than Mousepad which is what I’m used to seeing with Xfce installations. I like Gedit, so I was happy to see it among the software.

I find Saline Linux to be a very pleasant distribution to use, and I could definitely see it as my primary OS of choice. It is built on the rock solid Debian foundation, but includes some nice theme-ing that you won’t get with Debian Xfce. I think as its usership and community grow, Saline Linux has the potential to be every bit as wonderful and vibrant as Linux Mint, which is currently my distro of choice. For now I’m going to continue running it as a virtual machine and see how it continues to progress.

One thing I really enjoyed just on a personal level is that the desktop background by default seems to be some sort of large aquarium. This is a nice change of pace from the abstract shapes, random colors, and logos included as the default background in many other distributions.

Congratulations on a great release, Anthony. To my readers, I hope you found this review useful on some level, and I definitely encourage you to give Saline Linux a try if you’re in the mood for something new.

Quit Ruining the Internet

I do a lot of website administration activities using my phone, the lovely Evo 4G from Sprint. A while back I took the advice of my friend Nick Altrup from 417 Marketing and stopped moderating my comments. This has opened my site up to potential spammers, but I’ve taken steps to prevent bots from spamming me. However, if a person chooses to spam me, they are now able to do so, and their worthless waste of Internet will now appear on my site for a few seconds until I get the email from WordPress, realize the comment is spam, and then list it as such from my phone. I’m not going to put up with spam on my site if I can avoid it, and I’ll go round and round with a spammer all day if I have to. Today I had to.

I was at Gladstone Dodge getting my car serviced this morning, and starting around 7:50 this morning, this punk started spamming my site. First he (could be a she, but I’m going to blame a man) posted about 4 links to something called soma. I didn’t know what that was, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t have anything to do with Why I Use Linux, which is the page this guy is assaulting. Over the next hour, this clown posted 25 spam comments that I have had to moderate from my phone because I couldn’t find a more permanent solution to keeping this trash off my site.  I don’t care about your soma, casinos, versace hand bags, cartier sunglasses, or herpes simplex 1 medications.  Keep that trash off of my site!

Once I got home, I started looking for a way to block this guy’s IP address, which is 89.248.168.40. If you’re someone that knows how to punish someone electronically based on their IP address, have at this guy, because he deserves it. I know that if I could, I would.

First I tried to look up on Google how to block an IP address from accessing my site. I saw a lot of stuff about editing the .htaccess file, but I couldn’t find a way to do that which I could understand. It looked as though there was no way to do this from within the confines of WordPress, and I couldn’t get anywhere on my Dreamhost administration page either. So I abandoned this track for now.

I decided to gather some intel on my foe. I looked up his IP address, and it says he’s from the Netherlands. Since my last name is Hollander, I get a lot of traffic from the Netherlands, at least I assume that’s the correlation. See below for a little geographical information. If you recognize those street names, and you happen to be in the Netherlands and might know this guy, feel free to drop in on him and ask him to stop his spamming ways. If his computer has become a spam bot and is somehow getting past my web countermeasures, erase his hard drive.

Maybe this guy is using XP Professional, Vista Business/Ultimate, or 7 Professional/Ultimate, I thought to myself. I decided to try to remote desktop into his computer and delete some files from the system folder or something. No luck using rdesktop, but I’ve had luck randomly attempting to rdesktop people before.

So I went back to WordPress, and the obvious solution presented itself. I just went to settings → Discussion → Comment Black List, and I added his IP address. This isn’t the perfect solution I would have hoped for, because this guy’s waste is still spilling into my spam comments section, but at least I don’t have to personally deal with it each time. He’s up to 29 comments now. In fact, he accounts for more than 25% of all the spam coming to my site since I created it, and I’m sure the percentage will rise. A new one shows up every 3-4 minutes. I guess this guy must be a bot, which is frustrating because I thought I had plugged the hole on spam bots, so I’ll have to revisit that issue.

Now to Jump on a Soapbox

The Internet is probably the greatest human achievement. Everything that ever has been is accessible from the Internet. What an amazing repository of knowledge. And some of you out there insist on filling it up with stupid crap. Something like 90% of emails are spam. There are hundreds of thousands of essentially fake websites posing as real websites to trick people into clicking on affiliate marketing and advertisement links. I have in the past considered setting up such websites, a la programs such as Niche Blitzkrieg. But I decided not to, because I love what the Internet stands for, and I don’t want to make my living by preying on the stupid, even if it is easy to do. Some senior citizen surfing the web using Internet Explorer 5.0 lands on a fake website, clicks up a bunch of advertisement links, and makes a purchase off of an affiliate link, and we all die a little more inside. Please leave the Internet pure.

I Would Rather Win the Nigerian Lottery…

…Than deal with all your spam comments on my site. Spam ruins a good website. I used to go to Maximum PC all the time, but then I realized that literally all of the comments were spam, and it turned me off. Spammers ruined my experience of that website, and poor site administration didn’t help.

Spammers are pathetic in their attempt to entice people, and yet it works or they wouldn’t keep doing it. Here is a sampling of some of the spam I’ve received in the last month and a half (by the way that dude from the Netherlands is up to 33 spam comments now).

"Rattling Fresh"?

You've been looking for KC/Springfield comparisons for hours? Really?

Icons? What are you talking about?

You "determined" my site? Don't try to sound like you know English.

You feel strongly about android tethering? Headway noesis?

What indeed

Flattery will get you everywhere...except my comments page

An exact copy? Say it ain't so!

Nice Excerpt

Try checking that oh-so-surreptitious link in your comment.

Yeah, I'm a real web Michelangelo when it comes to android tethering

Help Me Out

If you can explain to me how to access the .htaccess file, please let me know in the comments below. I’m not my own web server, I’m using Dreamhost to host my site. Do you have any other strategies for dealing with spammers? How can I let this guy know his computer has been taken over?  (The spammer is now up to 42 comments).

CES Day 2

So, I’m a little late in posting this, but here’s a quick summary of what I saw on the second day I went to the CES.

We stopped back by the Panasonic display area. They had a huge wall of 3D TVs. As I said previously, 3D isn’t going away. What we can look forward to is the price of 3D televisions declining, especially once the 3D TV Sans Glasses comes into the market.

Panasonic Wall of TVs

I also saw the world’s largest 3D HDTV, which has an 84 inch screen.

World's Largest 3D HDTV

We saw a lot of car displays on Day 2 as well, mostly related to car audio. There were a lot uf muscle cars and exotics as well.

Audi

Porsche

Back in June when I went to China with the Drury MBA Program, we saw a lot of knock offs. Anything that could be knocked off was, and there is a long history of Chinese businesses ignoring US copyrights and patents. Here’s an example of a Chinese company ripping off an iconic symbol for their logo. Note that Mojan Batteries is using the bull from the New York Stock Exchange as their emblem. They had it pasted all over their packaging and promotional materials. I guess they figured no one would realize that the bull was from something else. We also saw tons of Spongebob Squarepants stuff that probably hadn’t been licensed and was being used without permission.

The NYSE Bull Says "Buy Mojan Batteries"

Another quick observation:  How not to advertise your electronic cigarette:

Come on, kid, take a hit of this e-cigarette

I think this dude has Soul Glow in his hair (Coming to America reference!).

After a couple hours at the show, we went back to our respective hotels for a little rest, and then headed downtown to Fremont Street that evening for some fun. Quick Vegas tip: take the Deuce Bus. I rented a car, and I could have totally gotten around more easily without it for less money. A 24 hour Deuce Bus pass is only $7 as of the time of this writing, and it is totally worth it. You can ride it up and down the Strip and to downtown.

Lots of fun older more seedy casinos and entertainment venues are available on Fremont Street, and they purport to pay out 11.6% more winnings than the casinos on the Strip. The coolest thing about Fremont Street is the world’s largest big screen, which arches over the entire street for several blocks. Each hour they do a musical tribute with a really cool video. The first day we went to Fremont Street we got to hear American Pie by Don McLean and The Doors. It was great. If you’re ever in Vegas, don’t fear going downtown, you really need to see the Fremont Street Experience. There were also numerous colorful characters wandering around the street to pose with for pictures.

Jen Executing Dark Helmet

At Binions with a Million Bucks

CES Day 1

I woke up at 4:30 AM Vegas time, and couldn’t go back to sleep. Dang time zone change. I turned on Fox and Friends and they were talking about some medical devices linked up to iPhones/iPads. Neat stuff.

I got ready to go meet Glenn, who hooked me up with tickets, and headed out at 8:30. I was supposed to meet Glenn at 10 at the Riviera, so I figured I would be there with plenty of time to spare. Wrong. It took me 2 hours to drive the 3 miles to the Riviera, and since all the Convention parking was taken by then I had to park at the Riviera for $20 instead of the Convention Parking for $10. Finally I linked up with Glenn, and we headed in.

Media Presence

There was a lot of media coverage. As I mentioned, Fox News had a guy up there that I saw on TV. I also saw NBC and CNBC with big operations. Lots of reporting from their end. Syfy Channel also had a big booth, but it looked like they were promoting a game more than providing media coverage.

3D Isn’t Going Away

I had previously thought all the 3D stuff was just a revived fad, but they’re not kidding around with it, and it isn’t going away. Sony’s 3D offerings were extremely impressive, as were Panasonic’s. They have 3D camcorders now too, and some of them were pretty impressive. I also saw the world’s largest 3D HDTV from Panasonic, 84 inches.

Wall of Panasonic TVs

Also on the TV front, I saw this really cool I3 Wall, which was essentially an entire room that was a TV, walls, floor, and ceiling. When the picture moved it was like you were actually moving, a sensation very similar to an IMAX.

I3 Wall TV Room

Cell Phones

The coolest thing I saw today in the cell phone arena was the Motorola Atrix, which they claimed to be the fastest and most advanced cell phone in the world. And it was running Android. This phone can essentially function as a laptop. It’s got a gig processor and a gig of ram, which is pretty high spec. The only thing that wasn’t wholly impressive was the 5.0 megapixel camera. They couldn’t put in an 8.0 megapixel camera? Another problem is that it’s only going to be available on AT&T, which is lousy compared to Verizon and Sprint in my experience.

Motorola Atrix

A quick word on AT&T’s advertising: since I’ve been out here I keep seeing “AT&T is getting faster.” This makes it sound like up to now they’ve sucked, and that they still suck, just not as badly. I’m sure that’s not the message they’re trying to send.

Every other exciting new phone was available at the CES as well, minus the Apple stuff. There were numerous vendors with phone accessories too, including some interesting bedazzled phone cases and battery life extenders. All of this stuff was of interest to Glenn with his Midwest GSM company. Check them out if you’re in the cell phone reselling business.

Samsung Galaxy Family

Tablet PCs

Previously I haven’t cared much about tablet PCs. I just like having a keyboard, and my netbook (from which I’m posting this blog entry), has always served my basic mobile needs. The tablet market is really poised to explode. There’s a bunch of new stuff coming out, it’s all going to be getting cheaper and better, and people that don’t want to shell out $800 for the good version of the iPad are going to definitely going to seriously consider Android tablets. Glenn has found the 10 inch tablet size to be the one that people are after, but I think I’d rather get the 5 or 7 inch variety since they’re a little more pocket friendly. Glenn made a lot of good supplier contacts from over in Asia.

Tablets

Conclusion

So the CES has been awesome so far. I can’t wait to see more, and I’ll be posting more about it tomorrow.

Las Vegas Day 1

Here’s a little update for you from Las Vegas. I’ll be posting about what I see and learn at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) the next couple days, so be sure to check back.

All Times Local

3:00 AM – Kansas City – Wake up, brew/consume coffee, charge phone

3:30 AM – Kansas City – Drive to Airport

3:45 AM – Kansas City – Park Car in Economy Lot and Call for Shuttle Service

4:00 AM – Kansas City – Get Boarding Pass

4:30 AM – Kansas City – Pass Through Security (no pat down or naked scan required, just good ol’ metal detector)

5:30 AM – Kansas City – Board US Airways Airbus 319 (Seat 2A)

6:00 AM – Kansas City – Plane Departs

7:40 AM – Phoenix Skyharbor – De-plane for an hour, charge phone

8:50 AM – Phoneix Skyharbor – Re-plane, depart for Las Vegas

8:40 AM – McCarran Airport – Arrive in Las Vegas (before I left! Time Zones!)

I’ll suspend the time breakdown here. In the KC airport, which I could have arrived at an hour later than I did, there was a couple flying with a Scotty dog. It looked like a nice dog, and seemed well-behaved. Some Steve Jobs look alike came over and spilled his entire dog ownership history upon seeing the Scotty dog. This dude evidently has 4 Scotty dogs of his own back home. Thanks for sharing, Steve Jobs look alike!

Once I got off the plane in Las Vegas, I had to walk to the opposite end of the airport to claim my baggage, then I got on the shuttle to the rent-a-car complex and claimed my faithful conveyance for the week: the noble Chevy Cobalt.

Drove over to the Travelodge. They don’t just give out a 1.5 star rating to any ol’ hotel either. I’m sure this place has been around since Sinatra was in town. It’s good enough for who it’s for.

I drove up the Strip a ways. Really neat stuff. I can’t wait to do some exploring. I drove up to the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop of Pawn Stars fame, but there was no sign of the Old Man or any of the other TV show cast. Maybe I’ll try back later. They’re open 24 hours a day.

Driving Down the Strip

On This Episode of Pawn Stars

Continuing to play tourist, I took a little drive out to the Hoover Dam. What an impressive structure. On the flight in we passed right over Lake Meade and I was able to see the dam from the air. Even from an altitude it looked impressive. I was glad that you can drive over again. I heard that after 9/11 for a while it was restricted. Now they’ve got it set up where you can drive across the dam one way, and then you have to drive right back across it. There’s no through traffic. I didn’t take the Dam tour because I didn’t have any Dam questions and I couldn’t find any Dam bait (Cousin Eddie!)

Lake Mead

Lake Mead Side of the Dam

Looks Like You Brought Your Scotty Dog All This Way for Nothing

After the jaunt out to the Hoover Dam, I headed back to town, stopped by the Riviera briefly to get my CES badge holder, and came back to the Travelodge. Where I wrote up this blog post. Keep an eye out in the coming days for my posts about the CES.

A final observation. I flew out here 1st class, but I’m heading back coach. That’s going to be a mistake. I didn’t realize this, having never before tasted the sweet nectar of 1st class, but when you’re up there in the big comfy seat, you actually get customer service. Flight attendants were falling over themselves trying to get me coffee refills. In coach, the flight attendants are basically zoo keepers. The passengers back there are more of a burden in their eyes than a customer. Maybe I can upgrade before my return flight…

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