Wednesday, November 25, 2009

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LightKeeper Pro Christmas Light Tester - Easily fix miniature Christmas lights in one click

Lightkeeper pro was very easy to use to fix.
Incandescent Christmas lights
I bought this at my local Walmart for twenty dollars -figuring I'd take it back since it probably wouldn't work. Got it home and watched the videos on the manufacturers website (long and short video from the manufacturer) . LightKeeper really works and just as easily as in the video. I had 10 strands of 300 count miniature icicle Christmas lights that I could no longer buy (white wire with green bulbs).
Here was the procedure.

1. Remove 1 miniature bulb (with the lights plugged in).
2. Plug the tester in where you removed the light bulb.
3. Pull the trigger a few times (In most cases the section lit on the first pull).
4. Replace the bulb.

This will be especially helpful on prelit Christmas trees or Christmas lights that go out once there on the tree. This product really is true genius. This was the best money I've spent in a long time. It literally saved me about 3 hours of playing with bulbs.

There are other functions on the tester -tool to easily pull bulbs, non-touch tester to find a loose bulb, built in light to see what your doing, and replaceable batteries (3 button cells). I used the additional features to find light strands that were missing a bulb or other weird stuff.

If you really want to know how it works (the physics geek in me), the full explanation on How the Lightkeeper Pro works from them.

Here's a link to the LightKeeper Pro on Amazon:

Target, Wallmart, and Menards also have it, but I couldn't find it on their websites... Stop throwing out the Christmas lights strands just because you can't get them to work. For under $20 troubleshoot and fix them in a few minutes, then you can enjoy the holidays.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

1st Week With the Droid as a Windows Smartphone Replacement

Overall I'm pretty happy with the Motorola Droid hardware. It powerful, well built device. The only rip would be that the slide out physical keyboard takes some getting used to. I never had any issues hitting the keys on my Treo 700 W, but often times I find myself having to hit the "DEL" key on the droid.

I'm very satisfied with the Android 2.0 operating system. In general it works well and seems pretty mature. Many of the default applications that came with the phone are well designed and work well. The navigation in Android 2.0 is really well done.

3rd party applications I really like:

Amazon (scan it and buy it from Amazon)
Astro (file manager for basic copying and moving files around on your device)
Barcode Scanner (scan pc screens for apps to download)
KeypassDroid (Password manager application for Android, Windows, and Linux -great!)
Locale (automatically change GPS, WIFI, Bluetooth settings based on where your at to conserve battery)
PhotoBurst (Nice photo browsing application that makes use of the whole droid screen better than Gallery)
Shazam (listen for music, recognizes it, and presents you with the title, artist and potential to buy it)
SugarSync (Basic file syncronization between Windows and my Android phone -best I could find)
Where (Use GPS to give you location specific information -restaurants and entertainment)

On the software side -I'm still uncertain of the applications environment for Android.I'd suggest improvement in the area of Outlook/Exchange/Gmail integration. They all feel like different pieces of software and there has to be a better way to integrate my information. It's really simple I have contacts, appointments, tasks, and notes (okay work and personal). I'd also throw images in the mix. Why can't I get to those anytime and anywhere? Why don't all my connection points utilize the same information. Now there is a cloud service that could really simplify my life....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Motorola droid cell phone replaces my ancient Treo 700WX on Verizon

I finally found a phone that would modernize my mobile communication platform.

Things I like:
Beautiful large screen -Pictures look great on it
Internal GPS to take advantage of location aware applications
WIFI capabilities - Quick surfing on my home WI-FI and hotspots
Quick and responsive device, but pretty similar to my Treo 700WX
Lots of apps and easy to install -I can't seem to find any missing apps
Android App Market is easy to navigate
Open operating system -should be able to find something for whatever I need and don't have to wait
Runs on the Verizon network - good reliable and fast network

Things that annoy me:
3rd party app needed for:
Automatic file synchronization
Outlook/exchange task support
Outlook/exchange meeting requests
Battery life was pretty poor on the first day - (Motorola *228 option 2 technical support was GREAT)
Lot's of apps, but someone needs to sort through them - many seem to have stability issues
Car charger -from Amazon is a must have if you plan to use the turn by turn navigation

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Simple command line grep usage to understand complex regular expressions

I was looking for a simple method to understand regular expressions. In this particular case it was to analyze an ignore rule used by logcheck log monitoring tool. I knew that the Linux environment offered some powerful tools to use regular expressions, but I was looking for a simple pass in this string and show me what matches via my regular expression.

After quite a bit of time looking at man pages for grep, I initially didn't find the simple solution that I was hoping to...

AMD-ubuntu /USR/SBIN/CRON[9999]: (root) CMD ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.hourly)

And it was ignored by the entry in /etc/logcheck/ignore.d.paranoid/cron

^\w{3} [ :0-9]{11} [._[:alnum:]-]+ /USR/CRON\[[0-9]+\]: \([_[:alnum:]-]+\) CMD \(.*\)$

The log entry I wanted to ignore was:

Nov 2 19:17:01 AMD-ubuntu CRON[6877]: (root) CMD ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.hourly)

The regular expression that I ended up using to ignore my routine CRON job log entries was:

^\w{3} [ :0-9]{11} [._[:alnum:]-]+ CRON\[[0-9]+\]: \([_[:alnum:]-]+\) CMD \(.*\)$

I wanted a way to determine what part of the regular expression was matching what, in an interactive way. I ultimately ended up playing with the egrep version of the grep command. The basic syntax was:

echo 'string' | egrep --color 'regular expression'

I struggled figuring out that I needed to use the echo command to pipe the string into the egrep command. The --color output control was helpful in coloring the part of the string that matched the regular expression. This was important to me, because I wanted to understand what type of log entries would be ignored this regular expression.

If the output matched the regular expression the string was output to the screen with whatever matched being colored. This allowed me to play with the regular expression to understand the matching characteristics of the expression.

echo 'Nov 2 19:17:01 AMD-ubuntu CRON[6877]: (root) CMD ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.hourly)' | egrep --color '^\w{3} [ :0-9]{11} [._[:alnum:]-]+ CRON\[[0-9]+\]: \([_[:alnum:]-]+\) CMD \(.*\)$'

Nov 2 19:17:01 AMD-ubuntu CRON[6877]: (root) CMD ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.hourly)

Quickly adjusting parts of the regular expression an observing the color changes in the output allowed me to understand every aspect of a fairly complex regular expression.

My bug to the Ubuntu team got posted here:
Launchpad logcheck 9.10 CRON reporting bug