MS Bluetooth keyboard and Toshiba m200 tablet

If you have a Toshiba m200 (or m205) with Bluetooth built in, there is one thing you should know of when you try to get it all to work together.  By default, the Toshiba comes with the Toshiba Bluetooth stack installed.  I successfully got the MS keyboard and mouse to work on that stack, but I had severe problems getting the devices to work after about 10 minutes of inactivity.
So, if I walked away from my computer for a few minutes (yeah, it does happen), I would find the neither the keyboard or mouse would work.  If I poked and prodded at keys and buttons for a while, it might come back, but most of the time I had to reconnect them through the Bluetooth manager app.
Finally, I decided to uninstall Toshiba’s Bluetooth stack and install Microsoft’s (which, at least for me, was provided in the c:\toshiba\btmonitor directory.  After doing that, it has worked perfectly.  Keep in mind though that if the notebook goes to sleep in the port replicator, it appears that you have to wake it up by hitting the power button on the replicator – just hitting a key on the Bluetooth keyboard won’t work.
I’ll post more on my thoughts about the Toshiba m200 at a later time…

Lies, Damn Lies, and Microsoft Marketing

Microsoft has been in the habit over the past several years of taking features or goodies away from their users and calling it a benefit.  For example, a while ago they changed what an MCSE received – they went from getting 10 support calls to 2 support calls.  And a new logo or some such.  Microsoft heralded it as a great improvement in what was being offered.
Well, they’re at it again.  Guess what the following list is from:
* Greater reliability
* Faster access to support
* A richer Windows experience
Yup, you got it.  Windows Validation.  So by making you jump through hoops to prove that your copy of Windows isn’t stolen, you get these great features. 
Well, let’s see, greater reliability?  Uh, no, not really.  You see, everyone was getting fixes before, now only those who’ve validated get them.  So the reliability of Windows is no better than it would have been if they had never started with validation.
How about Faster access to support?  What, exactly about validation makes access to support faster?
Finally, a richer Windows experience?  Sure, if you begin by saying that you don’t don’t these upgrades that we used to offer to you for free.
I don’t really mind that MS has started with the validation stuff.  All my copies of Windows are legit, although it is a PITA to have to go through it with a MCE system, my home PC, my notebook and my girlfriends notebook all in a short period of time.  What I do mind is the attempt at newspeak.  Stop it Microsoft.  How about you admit that the sole goal of validation is to try to catch small VAR’s that are stealing Windows and misleading consumers into thinking that they’re getting a legit copy of it?  There, now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Computers in movies

Through I found a link to The use of Computers in Movies list.  This thing is dead on!
A couple of my favorite items (not in the list):
In the movie Hackers (so bad I watch it every now and then just to laugh at it), when the main guy asks the love interest / hot goth hacker chick (or whatever she is) if she’s woman enough for her computer – a bitching IBM laptop with something like a 386sx in it.  Oh yeah, take that!  Also gotta love the "Gibson" (mainframe).  I’ve seen many mainframes in my life, and not one looked as cool as that thing!  Look at the blinking lights!  Ooooh, shiny!
In the movie Antitrust – one program uploaded to a bunch of satellites manages to override the contents being displayed on every single computer, television, pda and cell phone on the planet.
Finally, I leave you with this, perhaps the worst line ever uttered in a movie relating to computers:
"This is Unix… I know this!"

When a Rolodex is a gag gift…

Sunday the 16th was Bosses Day.  Who even knew there was such a thing?  Well, at least one of the guys on my team did, and they surprised me by storming my office singing some sort of Star Wars March of the Emperor thing while I was one a phone call with a vendor.
With trepidation I got off the phone and was presented a bag of gifts.  These included an 8 pack of Reeses Peanut Butter cups (love those things!), a package of cable clips, and a physical Rolodex.  I didn’t even know they made those things anymore!
In any case, in the Rolodex were entries for things like the local dive bar by my house (Gators!  Woohoo!), a troublesome user, restaurants that I like, and, uh Weight Watchers.  Hmmmm.
I’m not exactly sure why they felt it necessary to give me the cable clips…
Anyway, thanks guys! 

Solid|Drive desktop – a neat idea!

I saw the Solid|Drive Desktop device on a Microsoft Channel 9 video on the "house of the future" in London.
The Solid|Drive device is just a hockey puck looking thing that you place on your desk (or in the video, your kitchen counter) and the surface that it’s resting on becomes a speaker.
It’s pretty cool!  Watch the video for a demo. 

A DotNetRocks you should listen to…

My good friend Miguel A. Castro was on DotNetRocks for show 136 (released this week).  I’ve listened to a lot of DNR’s and I have to say that in my opinion this is one of the best ones, and I’m not saying that because Miguel has been a friend for over 18 years (yes, it has been that long).
Miguel covers a lot of stuff regarding web controls and imparts a lot of useful knowledge in an hour and fifteen minutes.
If you’re at all into ASP.NET based programming and want to learn some stuff about building custom web controls, including managing state, give it a listen.

Kelly Clarkson & Bo Bice – real talent?!

I have a little secret – I like American Idol.  Many of my friends are shocked at this, and some are disappointed (a couple of musicians in that group!). 
Those of you who believe that American Idol’s winners are crap should listen to Kelly Clarkson’s live version of Beautiful Disaster – sung with just a piano for accompaniment.  That, along with Bo Bice’s (2nd place finisher last year) acapella rendition of "Within a dream" will give you goosebumps. 
Damn good talent.  The second Bo gets an album out, I’m buying it, RIAA antics be damned.  Heck, I might even go to a concert featuring him.

Customer service is not completely dead

Frequenly I find myself lamenting the death of customer service.  There are too many places and people who act as if a customer is a hassle, not an asset.
So, I’ve decided to call out those companies that do a good job.
First up on my list is  Many moons ago I ordered some home theater parts from them, and due to the their handling of my first order, I’ve placed several others with them.
What did they do so right?  Well, after placing the order online, with overnight shipping, one of the guys from there called me and said that since they were actually pretty close to my location (within a hundred miles or so), they wanted to suggest that I change the shipping from overnight to ground – I’d get it in the same amount of time, and save some money.
That, my friends, is customer service.
The bad news is that when I went to their site today, it appears to be being reconstructed.  My guess is that due to some problems they had with what appeared to be a home grown application, they have decided to move to Yahoo stores…  I hope they come out the other side of the conversion better than ever!