Chinh Do

How to get free 2 GB of data on each line for Life on Verizon Wireless for about $40

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14th December 2015

How to get free 2 GB of data on each line for Life on Verizon Wireless for about $40

Verizon Wireless is running a promo until 1/6/2016, that will give you 2 GB of free data for life if you are on an XL plan or larger, and you upgrade an existing device or add a new device.

Here’s how to you can take advantage of this promo and add the 2 GB of bonus data per line for life by spending about $50, even if you don’t have an upgrade available. To me, $40 for 2 GB of data per month for life is more than worth it.

Here’s how:

  • “Upgrade” your device to the cheapest smartphone available. Right now for me it would be the Droid Mini. The full price is $108.
  • If you are ordering online, make sure the confirmation page says you are getting 2 GB data bonus. If via a Verizon rep, confirm with her/him.
  • Activate the new Droid Mini.
  • Wait a day or two, and reactive your original phone, and sell the Droid Mini on eBay or the marketplace of your choice. You should get about $90 for it.
  • Total cost to you, excluding shipping, etc is about $40.

Disclaimer: while I believe this to work based on my own experience and available information. I cannot warranty that this will work for you.

posted in Gadgets, Technology, Tips | 1 Comment

31st January 2015

Make all of your home servers reachable by Remote Desktop

If you have more than one servers/PCs running at home behind the internet router, you can normally set up the router port forwarding to forward Remote Desktop traffic to just one server. However, by assigning different incoming ports for different servers, you can connect to each server individually.

Basically, use a different port for each server. Then configure the port forwarding on the router to router each port to the appropriate server on 3389. This assumes that your router supports different ranges for external and internal ports.

For example, for my home setup, I use three different port numbers for the 3 servers I have at home:

RemoteDesktopPortForwarding

By using non-standard ports, there’s also a side benefit of a little extra security.

In Remote Desktop Client, you would add the port number to the Computer name like this:

RemoteDesktopClient

 

Happy Remote Desktoping!

posted in Technology, Tips | 0 Comments

11th June 2010

World Cup 2010 In Glorious 3D

3DTV is here! This message shows up on my DirecTV receiver/DVR yesterday:

Your receiver is now 3D ready! With a 3D television and 3D glasses, you can view up to 25 matches of the 2010 FIFA World Coup tournament in spectacular 3D on ESPN 3D Channel 106.

Wow! 25 World cup soccer games in 3D! Wait a minute, I think I see some dead pixels on my current HDTV.

posted in Gadgets, HDTV, Technology | 0 Comments

13th February 2010

Instant Messaging Etiquette for the Workplace

The use of instant messaging at the workplace is very prevalent these days. While instant messaging is very convenient for everyday communication, don’t treat it the same as email, face-to-face meetings, or phone calls. There are several significant differences between instant messaging and traditional forms of communications:

  • Instant messaging is not necessarily one-one-one. At any given moment, one person may be engaged in several simultaneous instant messaging conversations.
  • Even though your messages will be displayed on the recipient’s screen immediately, the recipient may not be able to read the messages and respond immediately.
  • With most instant messaging applications, the recipient cannot read your messages until you press the Enter key to send it. This limitation inherently makes instant messaging significantly slower than voice conversations.
  • Most people can speak faster than they can type.

Here are some guidelines on basic/everyday instant messaging etiquette that will help you and your co-workers make the most out of this communication medium.

Instant Messaging apps - AIM, MSN Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, ICQ 

Include Relevant Info/Questions in The First Message

Avoid typing greetings or non-essential messages separately first. Include the question or relevant information in your first message.

Not-so-good examples (avoid this)

Conversation 1

  • Jane (10:54:50 AM): Hi
  • Mike (10:55:01 AM): Hello
  • Jane (10:55:06 AM): The test server will be restarted in 1 minute.
  • Mike (10:56:11 AM): Thanks for the info

Conversation 2

  • Jane (2:15:08 PM): Good afternoon
  • Mike (2:15:13 PM): Good afternoon
  • Jane (2:15:13 PM): Do you have a few minutes to talk on the phone re project A?
  • Mike (2:15:18 PM): Sure, let me call you.

Conversation 3

  • Jane (4:03:30 PM): You there?
  • Mike (4:03:35 PM): Yes
  • Jane (4:03:42 PM): Can we have a short team meeting in conf room A
  • Mike (4:03:50 PM): Sure. Be there in 5.

Good examples

Conversation 1

  • Jane (10:54:50 AM): Hi, the test server will be restarted in 1 minute.
  • Mike (10:54:55 AM): Thanks for the info

Conversation 2

  • Jane (2:15:08 PM): Good afternoon, do you have a few minutes to talk on the phone re project A?
  • Mike (2:15:13 PM): Sure I will call you.

Conversation 3

  • Jane (4:03:30 PM): Can we have a short team meeting in conf room A?
  • Mike (4:03:35 PM): Sure, be right there.

Every time you send a message, the recipient is disrupted from whatever he/she is doing. The more you can delay this disruption the better, even if it’s only seconds. It’s also not necessary to ask the recipient if he/she is there. That’s what the online status (away/available) is for. You can just type your message or ask your question. One exception to this would be if your message contains sensitive information.

Send Complete Messages

Good:

  • Jane (9:15:23 AM): Hi, all integration tests are failing in the integration environment for the admin user group. Can you take a look?”

No so good:

  • Jane (9:15:23 AM): Hi, all integration tests are failing…
  • Jane (9:15:27 AM): the integration environment…
  • Jane (9:15:32 AM): for the admin user group…”
  • Jane (9:15:38 AM): Can you take a look?

If you have to send several sentences in sequence, compose them in a separate editor first (notepad would do), then type them out quickly in succession. That way the recipient does not have to wait for you while you type your next message, make editing corrections, etc.

Do Not Expect Responses Immediately

Unless the recipient reports to you, do not expect a response immediately after you type a message. The recipient may be in the middle of five other instant message conversations, on the phone, or working on something else more important. If the recipient’s status is not set to “Away”, and you have not received a response after a few minutes, it’s ok to ping him/her again. Maybe they forgot about your message.

Update Your Status and Respect Others’ Status

If you need to step out, change your status to “Away”, or “In a Meeting”, or “Back in an Hour”, or whatever is appropriate for the situation. This tells everyone else that you are not available to respond to messages immediately and save them from having to wait for your responses.

Pick Up the Phone

If the instant messaging conversation starts to go into lots of details and may make take longer than a few minutes, consider picking up the phone and continue the conversation there.

posted in Technology, Tips | 0 Comments

30th January 2010

Show Your Papers!

They say a man’s home is his castle, and since my computer is my virtual home, I must have complete control over what goes on in it.  When I see a stranger person walking around in my yard, he’s better be ready to tell me who he is, what company he works for, why he’s in there. Likewise, when I see a strange window running in my computer, I must have the ability to easily tell what it is, who makes it, when it was installed, etc.

Yes, one would think that being able to quickly identify any running window would be a basic feature of any modern so called window operation system. It’s 25 years after the first release of Microsoft Windows, and the sad truth is that you still often cannot easily identify running windows.

Look at the example below. If you are not familiar with this utility, and you came back to your laptop seeing this, would you know what it’s about? Should you click Yes or No? Is this a legitimate application, or something more sinister?

image 

The first obvious problem is the missing message. That’s forgivable however. Bugs happen, files get corrupted, language resource files go missing, etc. What’s not acceptable is for the Windows OS not to provide any method to identify misbehaving windows.

So how about it Microsoft? Let us easily find out identifying information about any running Windows. Perhaps with with a click of a button, we can see:

  • Name of owning application/process
  • Name of vendor (if available)
  • Folder where executable resides
  • Date the application was installed
  • User who installed the application
  • If the user didn’t run the application himself, identify the parent process or service that launches the application (shortcut in Startup folder, registry, etc.)
  • Available code signatures

For now, if you want to identify any visible window, use Sysinternals’ Process Explorer. Drag the “Find Window’s Process” icon and drop it on top of the target window and Process Explorer will highlight the owner process in its window. From there, you can get the executable name, company name, folder location, etc.

Process Explorer Find Window's Process

posted in Technology | 1 Comment

14th January 2010

Taking Control of Your Thermostat

Once in a while I come across a new product that solves a problem so elegantly that I just have to ask myself, why didn’t think of this before? It’s been very cold recently in the East Coast and when it gets very cold, my house’s gas heating system goes completely nuts. If I set the thermostat desired temperature to 70 degrees, the temperature in the bedroom will be in the roasting 80’s. The temperature differential depends how how cold it is outside, so I can’t just simply set the thermostat to a specific offset and forget either. I constantly need to get up in the middle of the night to adjust the thermostat downstairs when it gets cold outside. Why do I have to do this? I guess nobody told my house that we are in the 21st century.

image

So, the first thing I thought of is a remote control for the thermostat. Well, no surprise, they do make them. Apparently, my problem is fairly common for two-story homes with a single HVAC system. This Lux TX9000RF Programmable Thermostat with Remote looked very promising to me. A product like this would allow adjusting the thermostat temperature from anywhere in the house.

That still requires some work however. Hmm… what if there is a thermostat that can read the current temperature from a remote sensor? Bingo: they make those too. There are not many to be found, and after searching around, I decided to go for the  Honeywell YTHX9321R5003 Prestige HD Thermostat Kit and I’ve been very happy with the result so far. This kit is expensive, but very well made and it works as advertised. It also looks very nice. The kit includes the thermostat, a remote control/sensor, and an outdoor sensor. This kit is in Honeywell Pro Install line, which means it’s sold mainly through HVAC contractors and installers. I found the installation process only slightly more complicated than a regular programmable thermostat. The only thing you need to watch out for is that this thermostat requires a 24vac Common wire (commonly black in color), which may not be available in your setup. If that is the case, then you will need to run/fish a new wire from your furnace – a pretty big job.

Now with this cool new gadget hooked up and everything humming, all I have to do is bring the remote with me to the bedroom and push the button on it named “Read temp from this device” and I am set for the night. If I ever want to tweak the temperature for some reason, I can do it right there with the remote. If only everything else was this easy!

clip_image001

posted in Gadgets, Technology | 3 Comments

12th November 2009

7-Zip Can Be Used to Open ISO Archives

Did you know that 7-Zip can open and extract ISO archives? I had to install OneNote today from the MSDN ISO and I didn’t have an virtual drive/ISO mounting tool installed on my work PC. So I tried to open the ISO in 7-Zip and it opened it just fine. All I then had to do was to extract the files to a temp folder and did the install from there.

image

posted in Software/tools, Technology, Tips | 0 Comments

23rd February 2009

My Multiple-Monitor Programming Setup

In my opinion, the top three hardware items that help maximize programmer productivity are sufficient RAM, multiple monitors, and a fast multi-core CPU. For RAM, try to have at least 2GB for Visual Studio development, especially if you have additional applications such as Resharper, a local SQL Server instance, IIS, etc. Remember that on Windows XP or Vista 32-bit, the maximum usable RAM is limited to about 3.2 GB or so.

My current company-provided laptop, which I must perform most programming activities on, is a Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz. It is satisfactory for what I am doing. Given the choice however, I would go for a quad-core CPU desktop. Desktop usually has faster drives, better video cards, etc. And the additional cores allow for smooth multitasking and better performance when using virtual machines.

image

Plenty of RAM and multiple fast CPU cores will keep the waiting down to a minimum. Now you need to give yourself the ability to see all of those things that you have going on. Research has demonstrated that multiple monitors increase productivity. For most programmers, I would recommend two monitors. Adding that second monitor is a relatively inexpensive affair. Most laptops or desktop video cards has built-in support for a second monitor so all you have to do is getting that second LCD, which cost very little these days compared to three years ago. The third monitor and beyond is where things start to get complicated. You either have to install a second video card, or use a second PC/laptop in conjunction with a software application named MaxiVista. Unless you have spare monitors sitting around, I think the return on investment starts to diminish greatly beyond two monitors.

Another way to use that third or fourth monitor is to simply attach them to additional computers. Sure, you won’t be able to control all those monitors with the same mouse and keyboard but this setup is not without advantages:

  • When the first computer is rebooting or not responding, you still have a fully functioning computer.
  • The screens on the second computer are not using CPU/memory resources on the first computer.

My 5-Monitor Setup

I work from home most of the time and on my desk, there are five monitors, hooked up to three laptops. I know… it’s over the top but it’s not like I bought all of these laptops/monitors specifically for this setup. The second laptop is my personal laptop. The third one is another old personal laptop that would otherwise would be sitting around gathering dust. I might as well put them all to use. Here’s how the monitors are arranged:

image

The main laptop is hooked up to monitor #1, an ASUS 24″ running at 1920×1080 resolution and monitor #2, the main laptop’s built-in 15.4-inch LCD running at 1680×1050. I spend most of my time on these two monitors. The ASUS 24″ is great for programming/debugging and is where I normally park Visual Studio 2008 or Rational Software Architect. If you can get one with more vertical resolution (such as 1920×1200), that’s even better.

Visual Studio

The extra width on the main monitor allows me to permanently open supporting panes like Solution Explorer that I otherwise would configure to “auto hide”. Note where I have my Start menu: on the right edge of the main monitor. This gives me more vertical space so I can see more code without scrolling. The additional benefits are that more opened windows can fit on the task bar, and that I don’t have to move the mouse as much to access the start menu.

The built-in laptop monitor (#2) is where I have miscellaneous supporting windows such as rolling logs, instant messaging client, email client, documents, etc.

For taking notes, I use Microsoft OneNote and since it’s not installed on my company PC, I use my own laptop for it. This laptop is monitor #3, sitting to the left of the main monitor. Monitors #4 and #5 are used once in a while to display server logs, various server telnet and remote desktop connections, and anything I don’t need to control often.

Update 2/25/2008 – Synergy

Rohan kindly pointed out to me a free keyboard/mouse sharing utility called Synergy. You should give this a try if you have multiple computers on your desk. Synergy lets you use a single keyboard/mouse to control multiple computers, running multiple operating systems. Additional features include clipboard sharing, screen saver, and single password login. The configuration is not the most intuitive but once you have everything set up correctly, it works like a charm.

I now can control all three laptops and 5 monitors with one mouse/keyboard combo! Very nice.

Synergy animation

posted in Dotnet/.NET - C#, Java, Programming, Software/tools, Technology, Tips | 8 Comments

12th February 2009

Bag of Links #2

.NET/C# Programming

PowerShell

Apps and Tools

Other Stuff

posted in Dotnet/.NET - C#, Links, PowerShell, Programming, Silverlight, Software/tools, Technology | 0 Comments

23rd January 2009

Bag of Links #1

A while ago I had been posting my Finds of the Weeks series and this is the continuation of that. Instead of weekly though, this series will be more of a “whenever possible” kind of thing.

General Programming

.NET/C# Stuff

Database

Windows

Software, Tools, etc.

  • If you have a Linksys WRT54* router, I highly recommend loading Tomato firmware. I have been using it for about 6 months now and it’s so much better than the built-in Linksys firmware. Tomato’s QOS works great to make sure my Vonage phone line remains usable at all times.Tomato firmware

PowerShell

  • Ben Pierce posted a series of very useful PowerShell command-line demos: Demo1 (Administering Windows), Demo 2 (Administering Servers in bulk), Demo 3 (How do I Know Which Class to Use), Demo 4 (Administering Hyper-V).

Something Different

posted in Dotnet/.NET - C#, PowerShell, Programming, Software/tools, Technology, Windows Mobile / Pocket PC | 2 Comments

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