I can’t even think of the last time I was this busy…

So while I have put up a few posts, that pretty much clears my queue of posts I had to cover stuff for a while.

Following my recent promotion, I have been in 5x the meetings I ever have been to before.  Ive also been busting my butt trying to get some new people in here. Started my first round of phone interviews today, which went really well. I think I may be able to fill the positions in the next week though…which will be very nice.

We deployed two new websites this week, which is great. They have been two projects that have been kinda hanging on for a while, and finally were approved and put live. One went live yesterday, and the other goes live first thing next week.

Talking about websites going live…this past weekend was fun.  Debs and I worked here from 9am till 730pm Saturday, and then I worked from 930 till 2pm Sunday at the office, and then from 245 till 4 at home. We tried to put RDC07 up this past weekend, but a bunch of bugs made us revert to the old site. Luckily I knocked out a billion bugs in those two days. In the last few days I have had to work on it since, I was able to also fix some database errors, update RSS feeds, and kill a few more bugs. Were looking for a release date now of Oct. 12th or so. This time we have things planned a little bit better, a little less rushed.

Im actually waiting now to put a new deployment up to our production servers to test a few of the bugs I fixed. Ill write about this more soon – because i need help testing the site before we go live! Thats right – Beta testing!

In other news – we are having our first yard sale this weekend. We moved a bunch of crap with us into the house and Im ready to get rid of it all. Please come if you can.

Well, my copy is done and its time to flip the switch…lets see if this thing will work!

Listening To: ‘Brooklyn’ by Mon Def


David Maynor finally backs up his ‘Apple Wireless Hack’

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post talking about these guys that ‘found a hack that compromises any Mac using a wireless connection’. Of course this was with a lot of skepticism, since they had no way to actually prove it, except for a video of them using a MacBook and some 3rd party wireless card. He touted that he was able to get ‘kernel access’ with this hack, and exploit any Mac around.

Well, after being under an NDA for a year (which, of course, we dont know who with), he has published a paper on how he did this hack. It actually goes into a bit of detail, so I have not really read all that deep into it yet. Basically what they did is send the wireless card randomly generated metadata. If that metadata was to large, the Mac would Kernel panic (makes total sense). What they found out though, is that if they sent the right packet to the wireless card, the machine would not crash right away. It looks that then after debuging how and what packets were sent, one of these could be overflowed, and the remaining other packets could contain code. This could could even contain binary data to create a new root account, etc.

This is a really in depth and technical read, but some people may really like it. Supposedly this bug was fixed in 10.4.7, since it was found by Apple Engineers as well. Hopefully someone finds it useful!

Listening To: ‘Girls’ by The Beastie Boys

Moving on up…

So, yesterday, I got a promotion at my company to now become Vice President of Technology. With Chris moving on to bigger and better things, I was chosen to fill his position at our current job.

While I didn’t see anything like this happening so soon, Im really excited. I work with a great team of people, and lots of things are changing around the company. Its a shame to see Chris leave, I have really enjoyed working with him, but what hes moving on to is awesome!

Ill still be doing a whole lot of development, but now will also have to manage my team as well as provide a general focus of what we are working on. We have a few cool ideas coming down the line in the next year or so, and im really excited to start working on them.

By the way, one of my first jobs is looking for a new Project Manager and a Developer! Send me and email if your interested!

Listening To: ‘Lady’ by Regina Spektor

New iPod Classic!

I have been spending WAY to much money at the Apple store in the last few months!

After selling my black 5th Gen iPod, Debs and I ran up to the Apple Store to pick up the new iPod. After 2 hours of syncing my music, I am very happy with my newest geek gadget!

As I wrote not to long ago, I was having a hard time trying to decide which iPod to get. Ever since the iPhone came out, I really, really, REALLY wanted an iPod that was the iPhone, minus the phone. But when Apple announced the iPod Touch AND the iPod Classic, I have been tossing the idea around since then for which one to really go with. After playing with the iPod Touch for 10 minutes, I made my decision, and went with the Classic. I don’t want to go into it now – but I will have my somewhat negative review of the iPod Touch coming out later this week.

I love the Classic. Not only can I now carry around all my music, I still have plenty of room for data, photos, and movies. While the design did not change all that much, the new case is amazing. With having a black iPod, its more black now (including the dock connector, the hold button, etc). The new iPod even feels lighter than my 30GB 5th Gen.

The new iPod UI was a great upgrade as well. While I dont use CoverFlow that much, I really like playing with it now, and I actually like the special effects when you select songs this way. The ‘Now Playing’ screen also has a nice update, and really looks great. There have been reports around the internet that the audio quality went down on this iPod as well – and I have not experienced that yet – it actually sounds a bit better to me (crisper, cleaner, and better range of high and low).

I have put some unboxing pictures up on Flickr as well. Of course the new iPod looks great sitting beside the iMac!

Listening To: Al Gore talking about talking about a series of tubes and TV on the Emmys.

Copying iTunes Library from Windows to Mac (or vice versa)

From our recent computer purchase – I was faced with the dilemma of migrating my rather large iTunes library from my PC to my new Mac. Of course this would be easy if you were moving from PC to PC or Mac to Mac. In both of those cases, you can just copy your music folders over and place them in the new locations (this is what I did when I moved between Macs at my old job – just copied the Music folder over a Firewire connection to the new Music folder on the new machine).

If you dont necessarily need your playlists, then you can just copy all of your music from one machine to another and import them into a new library. In my case though, I have a few ratings as well as Smart Playlists that I wanted to keep and other playlists (a party mix, our wedding mix, mixes I made Debs, etc). In the end this was actually a little easier than I thought…

  1. First of all, on the source machine, the ‘Keep your iTunes Music folder organized’ and ‘Copy files to iTunes Music Folder when adding to Library’ must be checked. You can find these under Preferences -> Advanced.
  2. If you had to make changes in Step 1, you must now Consolidate your library. This is done by selecting “Consolidate Library” from the Advanced Menu.
  3. After #2 is done, export your library from selecting “Export Library” from the File menu.
  4. On the destination machine (in my case, our new iMac), you need to create a new library. iTunes does this on its first start (or when it cant find its library). If you need to create a new library, you can easily do so by holding down the Option key when clicking on the iTunes icon.
  5. Check the preferences on the source machine – make sure you have marked ‘Keep your iTunes Music folder organized’ and ‘Copy files to iTunes Music Folder when adding to Library’.
  6. Copy all of your music from the source machine to the destination machine. In my case, I just connected to my music share, and copied them right to my Music folder.
  7. Open the source machines exported Library in some text editor. Mine was actually about 15MB…for a 40GB or so collection. I opened this exported library in Visual Studio, but you could do it in just about anything on any machine (other options of course are TextEdit, BBEdit, Notepad, etc).
  8. Open the ‘Find and Replace’ dialog of that program. In the ‘Find’ field, enter the source machines path to music. In my case it was just ‘file://localhost/D:/Music’.
  9. In the Replace field, enter the location where your new music is going (again, in my case this was ‘file://localhost/Volumes/Macintosh HD/Users/jlumpkin/Music/iTunes’).
  10. Replace all instances, and then save out this modified library.
  11. Once your music has been copied to the new machine, open iTunes on the destination machine
  12. From the File menu, select “Import…” and select the modified library file you made in Step 9.
  13. You may have duplicate smart playlists, like the ‘Recently Added’, ‘Top 25 Most Played’, etc. You can just delete the duplicates.
  14. iTunes may still need to do a few more updates, for example checking for album artwork and determine gapless playback.

This method isn’t that hard, and once you have figured it out, the process moves pretty fast. Unfourtantly, this method does NOT copy over play count, last played, skip count, etc. The only way to get this is to use the built in ‘Backup’ feature of iTunes….which will take forever if you have a large library. Of course for someone with a library my size, it would also take up close to 80CDs!

Listening To: ‘Walk This Way’ by Aerosmith

Clean your music metadata with Last.fm – soon…

Late last week, Last.fm announced a new ‘Fingerprinting’ project. This project would take the massive amount of songs people ‘Scroble’ to Last.fm to help users with identifying music. For those who dont know what scrobling is, its where your media player (like iTunes, WinAmp, Windows Media Player, etc) sends each song you play to last.fm’s web service to record it in your profile.

One of the features of this new fingerprinting technique would be the ability to find errors in the metadata of your music files. All MP3 files have an ‘ID3’ tag that has song information, including the artist, name, album, etc. If you have a song that doesnt have all this data (for any reason), this new fingerprinting system could tell you which song it was, and what metadata it has for it. This would come in really handy for me since I have quite a bit of music that I still haven’t properly tagged yet.

Last.fm is currently in the data mining stages of this process, and only wants to collect ‘fingerprints’ of the files in your library. So after reading through the blog post, I downloaded the fingerprinting app and set it up. All you have to do is tell it where the media for it to index is, and log into your last.fm account.

For my roughly 40GB music library, it took the fingerprinting app a little over 8 hours to complete. For a rough estimate, the my old PC was a AMD 3000+ with 1GB of RAM and my music library on a 7200 SATA drive.

You dont have to do all of this in one sitting either – it will know where it left of and will pick back up at that place when you resume the application. I just fired it off one morning when leaving for work and it was done that afternoon when I got home.

Check this program out, and hopefully in not to long we will start seeing the benefits!

Listening To: ‘February Stars’ by Foo Fighters

Sprint outright called me a liar and my wife stupid!

Sorry for the long post, but im hoping this may get SOME traffic and do something about getting this issue resolved.

What a great birthday present for my wife.

Starting at 8:30 Saturday morning, people started calling her to wish her a happy birthday. Her mom called around 8:45. She had some business calls come through up until noon, and then around noon our good friend Nate calls. He asks here why in the hell is her phone playing Gwen Stefani. My mom calls her a little later and asks the same thing.

What the hell? Her phone has downloaded ringtones, started charging her account, in the middle of the night?

Just to make this clear – WE DID NOT DOWNLOAD OR PURCHASE ANYTHING. The times that Sprint says action was taken, was either when the phone was being used to make a PHONE CALL, or sitting on a table, not being used. Also, no one other than her or I have touched her phone in at least over a week. And those who have EVER looked at her phone did it while we were sitting there with them.

We decide to go to the Short Pump Sprint store to find out what is going on. After 1 hour, we are assured by a rep that the phone is fixed, but may take an hour or two to have the ringer removed. We get home, and sure enough, two calls come in with a normal ringer. Then, nate calls me at 4 on her phone, and again asks ‘why in the hell is her phone still doing that – I thought they fixed it’.

From then on, I decided to work on this issue from the comfort of my own home.

Customer Support Call #1 – Obviously I get a support rep supposedly named ‘Sarah’ that can BARELY speak English. Gets very rude with me. Basically says that her phone accessed the website at 8:46 AM (look above, she was talking to her mom) and purchased ‘Sweet Escape’ from Gwen Stefani. She doesn’t seem to get the idea that my wife didn’t do this, and something is up. So I ask her ‘I guess robbers came into our house last night and instead of stealing my TV or computer, they decided to download pop ringtones to my wifes phone – thats cool’. She also agreed to me asking her about ‘Sprint Gremlins’, some mystical creature that comes in and raids your phone while you sleep. She offers me $25 for my time. I promptly asked to speak to her supervisor.

Customer Support Call #1.5 – Very sweet lady and made a lot of sense. Assured me that the problem was resolved. She also TOLD me that she had just approved the $25 credit to the account and again she was very sorry. I was so happy…this was taken care of finally.

Customer Support Call #2 – I call Debs phone an hour later, and alas, no ringtones. Try again an hour after that, and all I hear is ‘Sweet Escape’. Awesome! I really love this song. I call customer service and ask again – TAKE the ringtones off. The customer support rep again assures me that its done, but to be safe I may want to turn her phone off, remove the battery, and replace after 30 seconds. Done and done. And for the next few minutes, things are fine.

Customer Support Call #3 – While walking around Wal*Mart prepping for our party, I call Sprint back JUST to make sure that this is the ONLY ESN on the account. You see, her red Motorola RAZR she signed up with wasnt acting correctly. And of course, unlike EVER OTHER cell phone provider, Sprint wont touch them. They tell you to send it back to the manufacturer. Oh, and forget about getting any phone to hold you over ‘To many people abused this in the past’. After this call, I have no problems until today.

Customer Support Call #4 – I call my wife to see what she is doing for lunch. We had been so busy throughout the day I had not talked to her yet. You can imagine my surprise when I hear the ringtones again. Pretty much tell debs that ill talk to her later, I have to call the almighty Sprint. I get another lady with a strong hispanic accent who obviously doenst understand the situation. So I ask for her supervisor. She comes back to the phone assuring me she filled in her supervisor with the problem.

Customer Support Call #4.5 – Her boss. Paul. ‘Im the floor manager, nothing gets past me’. Paul told me that there was no way to talk to anyone else involved in customer support, he was the #1 guy. So after talking to him about the situation, he comes to a conclusion. ‘Sir, your wife most likely was playing around on her phone and accidently did this’. WHAT? He pretty much continues to go on about how ‘she may not be smart enough (EXACT WORDS) to use these features’. He then tells me that he opened a case to research this. When I ask him ‘Why wouldn’t I just tell my wife not to use this feature if SHE ACTUALLY HAD’…He said ‘I dont know’. I then asked him ‘Dont you think if thats the case, I wouldn’t have already wasted 5 hours of my time on this?’. His reaction to this is ‘I have opened a case. Im not letting you talk to anyone above me. If you want more, you have to contact customer service through email’. When I told him ‘And you and I both know, thats not going anywhere’…he then replied ‘Of course, but I do not feel like putting you through’. He also tells me that there was never a $25 credit on the account, and he doesn’t care about my wasted time.

Customer Support Call #5 – Debs calls to ask to have ring tones removed (this is time number 2). She is told that ‘they are now removed, and your good to go’. When asking about talking to a supervisor, she is immediately told that ‘her supervisor is currently working on the case that we just opened’.

Customer Support Call #6 – I call on my ride home from work, because guess what? More ringtones! Now a guy with a thick french accent actually tells me whats up (but still doesnt believe whats going on, and figures its our problem and not theirs). Doesnt really help much other than explaining their structure and what I should do next. He said that there are two supervisors at their call center. There is his direct boss, and then a ‘Floor Manager’ that DOESNT ACTUALLY TALK ON THE PHONE. The manager just monitors call volumes, calls, etc. He said that the floor manager is in charge of the area, but yes, there is customer support above him. Luckily this guy seemed more about fixing the problem, than just putting more traffic in my request. So he takes 15 minutes to look it up in the manual. After waiting, we both decide to just transfer me to Technical Support, and then come back to customer service.

Customer Support Call #6.5 – Transfer to Technical Support. I now get a really sweet lady that in NO TIME helps me at least turn off the custom ringer. She seems surprised (and so do I) that at least 3 customer support reps couldn’t do this. Says I will have to wait to actually get any refund, but for the time being, things should be taken care of and ‘at least seem back to normal’. I then ask her to transfer me to Customer Support. After staying 30 minutes on hold, I give up and decided to call back later.

This is where we stand now. Ill update this post below as time goes on until something happens. I just want people to really see whats going on, and see what we can do about this! Maybe someone with knowledge gets word of this post and can help us out!

Update 1: So after searching the web, I found phone numbers to about 25 reps at sprint…including the office of the CEO. I left about 5 VM’s last night at different offices.

UPDATE 2: Around 9AM this morning, I receive a call from a ‘Sprint Executive Office’ in Texas. The very nice lady on the phone lets me know the account has been credited already $20 for the problems. She then asks about other problems we have had, and I mention how debs was lied to. She credits us the extra $150 that was charged.

UPDATE 3: While on the phone with this lady, Jerry Adriano calls debs and then calls me. I have not been able to talk to him yet, but he left me a voicemail stating that he had some people working on our case, but that he would like to talk to me about my issues with their customer service. Ill update again when I talk to him.