VMWare, BSODs, and video drivers

I had a customer who upgraded to an SSD in his MacBook Pro, and had heard about VMware Fusion. Not by name, but by feature, from a friend. “He can run his Windows right along side his Mac.” He had a Boot Camp installation and VMware Fusion helpfully can import that. However, after VMware Tools were installed, the VM would BSOD on boot with a SYSTEM_SERVICE_EXCEPTION, error code 0x0000003b. Oh joy.

Much testing later revealed that it seemed to be the VMware SVGA driver that was causing these issues, which made little sense as its one of the most tested parts of the VMware tools, being so critical. It turns out the client had a specific external video device that clearly VMware never tested with. In this case it was the Tritton SEE2 Xtreme USB to DVI adapter unit. While the unit wasn’t attached and hadn’t been used in ages, the drivers were still installed, and when these two drivers were initialized, we’d see that BSOD exception.

The solution was clearly to find and remove the driver for that video unit. Once that was done everything was aces. The moral is search very closely in the driver set of your guest OS if you’re having errors like this. I let VMware support know the details of this particular driver so they can test against it, and presumably devices like it.

Comments off

My views on Firefox OS

[ music | Styx - Fooling Yourself ]

Initially I blew off the Boot 2 Gecko initiative (now Firefox OS or something close to that) as unnecessary and pointless. I freely admit I was wrong. It’s actually a good idea, I like the idea, and I hope it works well. that said, I still think some of the goals are pipe dreams and pointless. I’m specifically replying to some of the things written in this blog post by Rob Hawkes (no relation to Guy), There is something magical about Firefox OS.

Feature phones. What? This is nearly 2013. Yes, there are probably literally a billion feature phones out there. There are reasons for that. They’re cheap, much more rugged than smartphones, last a week on a charge, and fulfill a basic need for communication via text and voice. They have very small screens with low resolution monochrome LCD displays. These are cheap in financial terms, power requirements,  and processing needs. There’s nothing Firefox can bring to this market that the cheap, small embedded OS can’t do, and no new benefits. To do anything smartphone related, you’ll need at least a better screen. Instantly you double the cost and reduce the disposability. Double? When you’re looking at hardware that costs $6 to $10 to produce and can be sold for under $20, yes, double.

Cheap smartphones. There are already cheap Android phones. A Firefox OS based phone MIGHT yield better web performance than Android on an underpowered phone, but screen space and computing power is getting so cheap that a 1GHz ARM powered phone will be under a hundred dollars by the time B2G hits 1.0. Now, if you make that type of phone perform better, that’s great, but let’s not pretend that’s really the goal here.

The goal of Firefox OS isn’t to compete with high-end devices, but to offer entry- to mid-level smartphones at feature phone prices. – Bonnie Cha

No it’s not. It’s to create an even more open competitor to Android. You can’t make a cheaper OS than android, because there’s no licensing cost to undercut. You can’t make the phones cheaper with software. Maybe Firefox OS makes underpowered hardware more usable, that doesn’t make the phone cheaper, just less crappy. Hardware is getting cheaper every six months, the problem is that they’re so cheap that it’s not worth the dev time to put Android on “feature” phone segment handsets.

The truth is Firefox OS might succeed where WebOS failed, and that is the exciting part. That’s why I did a 180 and began to like what FireFox OS could be. It’s more open than Android, has more dedicated backers than WebOS in both software and hardware partners, and based on proved tech rather than new tech. But give up on the hippie mantra of cheat smartphones for the masses. The masses will use yesterday’s tech. Yesterday’s hardware starts out as tomorrow’s, which Firefox OS might just make awesome for entirely different reasons.

Comments (9)

Kill the Meebo bar

[ music | Styx - Show Me The Way ]

I heard about the Meebo bar via this Gizmodo article about it, and how Boston.com killed it within 48 hours. Well, the AJC here in Atlanta has begun using it now too. It’s crap, but I use Firefox which makes getting rid of it easy. Here are some simple steps to kill it on the AJC’s website.

  1. Find your Firefox Profile directory
  2. Open the folder labeled “Chrome”
  3. Create a new file named UserContent.css or edit the one already there if it exists. this file is just text, so use Notepad or another text editor
  4. Paste the following into the file:
    div#meebo.meebo-00 { display: none ! important; }
  5. Save the file, and restart Firefox.

That’s it. Now, other sites that use the Meebo bar can be cured just as easily, you’ll just need to know the proper identifier for the Meebo bar on that page. If you’re not technically inclined, find a technically inclined friend to do the following:

  1. Right click in a blank area of the toolbar, select “Inspect Element”
  2. Examine the DOM nodes in the breadcrumb bar at the bottom to find the parent element of the Meebo bar. Do this on AJC.com and look for the identifier I used for that as listed above for an example.
  3. Copy the above code onto a new line, and edit the line in the above directions with the identifier for the site you’re concerned with.
  4. Save and restart Firefox.

Thanks to Gavin Sharp for pointing out the incredible usefulness of the new inspection tools, and everyone who contributed to the ifantastic new devtools in Firefox.

Comments (1)

You’ve got to fight for your right to party poker!

While online poker is the scourge of America, causing gay marriages and ruining our schools, Europe seems to have no problem with online poker.

For example, take a look at the Germans. In Germany they’re living life like normal despite the fact that one of the best online poker sites has a German specific area over at de.partypoker.com. This site is the all-German language section of PartyPoker.com, which is a rather famous online poker company that you may have seen on shirts worn by players at the World Series of Poker. Millions of people play there and love it. Were I German, I’d play there too. So, if you’re German, or Swiss, Austrian, live on the eastern border of the Netherlands or Belgium, or you just speak German, go check out the best online poker site that’s all auf deutsch all the time.

Unless you live in America, then you should just hide.

Comments off

Via Dylan

I took a tour, I rode the wind,
I went to find, Went around that bend.

I saw brilliance, a thousand little lights,
they crashed to earth and lost their fights.

We looked around to see what we could see,
we saw the things we wished could be.

We dropped our guard, and let out a yell,
decided we’d all rather reign in Hell.

We were young a dumb, like lambs of the spring.
We drove off a cliff, we done a damn dumb thing.

We had it all in the palm of our hands,
we threw it away and ate the plans.

There were a million men with ideas of gold,
we’ll be lucky if fifty can grow old.

We tried drugs and sex and rock and roll,
and told ourselves we weren’t just foals.

We wandered west from the Island to the Beach,
To discover what the world had to teach.

But we couldn’t hear what the world had to say,
we yelled and screamed and got in the way.

Then we took up arms against the men of the old,
we wanted to heat up the long dark cold.

We decided to find out what if life was worth living,
to find what she had, to take what she’s giving.

We rolled up that hill, and fell off that line.
got in a fight, paid the damn fine.

After the spring, that flower done bloom.
That beautiful son, it filled up the room.

It lasted all day, and all night, and all year, and thousand more like it.

I don’t wanna look to deep or too long,
if push it too hard then the feeling is gone.

I have to collapse and roll around in the mud,
there’s no wolf at the door, this joint is a dud.

But there’s crazy shit happenin’ here in my head,
we’re all swimming in honey and lead.

There’s ten, and there’s twenty, and thirty, and more.
We’re with you in Rockland, we’re the wolf at the door.

But there’s no use in knockin’, we’re on the watch tower, watchin’.

You’re a fool, so am I! Ain’t it great? Never die!
We’re with you in Rockland, here’s a cot, have a lie.

Comments off

Meet The Girlfriend!

[ music | Journey - Open Arms ]

So, I met a particular girl in October and we did a strange dance for the next 4 months before I, in my incredibly suave and debonair manner, accidentally told her how I felt because I was not quite awake. Thankfully, it turned out very well, and as it happens, we love each other quite a lot. Which is good, because boy would that have been awkward if she thought I was a total tool. Hopefully she won’t mind me bragging that it’s Deanna Little that I’ve snagged and that I’m incredibly lucky. Love you, Red. :)

Comments off

Merry Christmas, every one!

[ music | Michael Buble - Let It Snow ]

Merry Christmas, folks. Another year is nearly gone, and 2010 is right around the corner.  This year started like crap, got worse, and the past 4 months has shown me instead that life is still awesome, and I’m happier now than I may ever have been. I hope if nothing else, the new year is something to make all your lives brighter. Merry Christmas to everyone.

Waiting for Santa

Comments (1)

I’ve been a bad blogger…

[ music | Rilo Kiley - So Long ]

I’ve been neglecting my blog all year. For this,my dear readers, I apologize. I shall endeavour to be a better blogger in the new year. Between a really busy real life, and Twitter, I’ve just neglected to sit down and write up much. Even my previous post is a half-assed attempt, and I dislike doing that. For my day to day crap, check out my twitter feed.

However, to help make up for it, I’ll soon be making a kick ass end of year wrap-up post covering the best and worst everything from my viewpoint. Unlike some year-end wrap-ups, this one will be at the end of the year, between Christmas and New Years. I like to wait till the year is over to recap the year. ;)

Comments (4)

Apple’s Rusty Cage

[ music | Soundgarden - Rusty Cage ]

I see Joe Hewitt has quit iPhone development thanks to Apple’s “chickenshit approval process“. I’m easing my way into iPhone development despite my reservations about Apple’s incredibly arbitrary and selectively enforced rules, and find it incredibly telling that as time goes on more and more people are chafing under Apple’s leash. They appear to have responded to customer demand with changes like mature app categories, but reversing course on NIN’s app and the Google Voice fiasco show how incredibly schizophrenic and unfair the system really is. I don’t blame Joe at all.

Someone mentioned to me Mozilla’s Addons site, but there’s a fundamental difference between that and Apple’s App Store. You can choose to develop for Firefox without ever looking at AMO, and you can distribute your addon independently as well. With Apple, you either go through the App Store, or you restrict yourself to EULA-violating methods like Cydia and other jailbreak-only solutions. I have nothing against those solutions, but it severely restricts discoverability and freedom of both developers and users.

What I find so unbelievable is that is that, at least from my perspective, Apple’s policies seemed doomed to failure eventually, and yet they’re still trying to stand by them. I see a redux of IBM of the 1980s. The PC took off thanks to IBM’s wide open policies on clones. IBM felt if they could maintain more control over the platform, there was a lot of profit to be made, and used the genuinely advanced MCA bus to help further those business goals. The consequence in the end was the complete eclipsing of IBM in the PC market. Android may not be on the same level as the iPhone OS yet, but the market seems to have demonstrated time after time that lower cost and greater freedom wins. If Apple keeps strangling their very promising platform, they very well may wind up the next Betamax.

Comments off

Shoney’s calls me a liar

[ music | The Clash - Should I Stay or Go ]

I just got back from my first and most likely my last visit to Shoney’s. I ate some catfish, got sick, threw up in the bathroom, and was called a liar by the manager who threatened to call the “authorities”. All in all, a fun time!

Tom and I had some coupons for some discounts on Shoney’s meals, and decided to try it out. I had the buffet, which had several nice items such as breaded catfish. Very shortly after eating the catfish I started to feel nauseous, then shaky and sweaty, and finally I ran to the bathroom to expel my dinner. I wasn’t happy at this point. I asked to speak with a manager, who came over, and I started off by telling her the waiter was excellent, and that I wasn’t unhappy with him.

I explained what happened, and that I would appreciate it if my buffet charge would be removed from the bill as it made me quite ill. The manager said she didn’t know what happened, and so the best she would do is take half of my dinner off. I said, “Well, it’s simple what happened, I just came back from the bathroom after throwing up my dinner, and I don’t really think I should have to pay for it.” At this point, I was visibly pale, shaky, and sweating, as Tom can attest. It was pretty obvious I was ill, and her response was to look me dead in the eye and say, “I don’t know that, I don’t know that you’re ill, or that you threw up, or that anything even happened.” I incredulously replied, “So you’re calling me a liar?” She shrugged, and repeated the offer for half off the one meal. I was incensed, and said, “I refuse to pay for this.” She stood up, started to walk away and said quite loudly “I’ll call the authorities!”

Given that she obviously tried to humiliate me by telling the whole restaurant she’s calling the “authorities”, I said quite loudly, “Great, I’ll tell them you called the police because your food made me sick!” I managed to get to my feet, and Tom and I walked to the counter to pay and leave. She yelled from the kitchen to the counter, “make them pay the whole thing, no discount!” Weak, shaky, sick, and sweaty, I was now also furious. I said out loud to the restaurant as a whole, “That’s right ladies and gentlemen, the manager is calling me a liar and won’t discount the meal that made me throw up. So enjoy your meal, or she’ll call you a liar too,” and stormed out to the car, threw up again in the parking lot (I should have asked her to come see it for proof!), and we drove away. Actually, we started to drive, but before we got out of the parking lot, I had to chuck again, and had Tom stop the car.

I’ve already left a message for the corporate office on their voice mail, as it’s well past business hours. I’ll be calling tomorrow if they don’t call me first. I really hope we can solve this because while I do not want to go to small claims court over an $19 dinner, I will do so only because I was treated so incredibly poorly.

Comments (5)