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Review: FreedomPop’s free 4G Hotspot

I heard about FreedomPop’s new service offering on the radio the other day. Basically, you pay a deposit for a USB or HotSpot device, and they will give you 500mb of free data on that device each month. More data is reasonably priced, and if you ever want to get rid of it, you can send it back and they will refund your deposit. I decided to try it out. If you’re interested in hearing how it went, read on!


So I was practicing on one of my guitars (a Schecter C-1), and all the sudden the amp started buzzing like crazy, and I couldn’t hear any output from the pickups. I realized that I had just shifted, and that the cable had shifted on the guitar’s jack.. so I unplugged it, and saw that the jack was loose. Being the geek that I am, I figured I’d set the guitar on my desk, grab the soldering iron (which was about a foot away), and figure out what was going on.

Interested? Click here..

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What not to do when having a baby…

(Note: Not geek-related in any way, shape, or form. Enjoy! Alternate title — “How chicken became my mortal enemy”)

On Sunday, March 6, our second boy was born! His name is Joshua Xavier Carlson, and I may be a bit biased, but I think he’s a cutie. ;)

We’re all doing great.. but that’s not really what this post is about. Instead, it’s about how Daddy was stupid and did something that you should never do if you’re helping take care of a momma and baby! Let me tell ya, I really earned my self-given moniker of ‘village idiot’…

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How CVS lost my business

CVS Pharmacy just managed to lose any chance of my future business without me ever actually walking through their doors.

If you’re curious on how that happened, read on!


I recently ran into an issue with newer versions of XenServer that had me really really confused. I recently moved a VM that is acting as a router from a XenServer 5.0 machine to a XenServer 5.6 machine. This machine runs both OSPF and a DHCP server on top of VLAN interfaces in XenServer, and oddly, both of these services stopped working after I moved the VM. If you’re interested in the root cause, read on!


If you’ve been a fan of Skillet within the last few years, you’ve probably heard their song Lucy from their album Awake. The song is extremely emotional, and it seems that it immediately resonates with many, many people (I know that it sure did for me.) At previous concerts, and interviews, John Cooper (who is the lead singer and bassist of Skillet, and the author of this song) declined to detail what the song was about.

Read more to learn what this song is really about


For Kinley, from TobyMac

Yup, this post has nothing to do with geekery, and is not humorous or anything like my usual posts. It’s a serious post, and involves religion. If this bothers you, please move on.

My wife and I went to a Skillet/TobyMac double-headliner concert at the Target Center on November 13 with some friends. The show was awesome (as those bands always are), but that’s not what this post is about. Before the Diverse City crew started in on a song (I believe it was “City on our Knees”), Toby shouted out “this is for someone” — I couldn’t catch it. After the song finished, they splashed up the Minneapolis skyline on the screen, and started into the chorus of “God of this City” by Chris Tomlin, which I thought was awesome — my church has kind of adopted that song as an unofficial theme song. When the song was done, the room went dark, with the words “for Kinley” on the screen.

I had no clue what it was about, but hey, I was shooting pictures, and got a few shots of the screen. A few days later, I’m finally processing my concert photos, and figured I’d look it up. It was actually hard to find anything that I could associate with this, until I ran across this article at MinnPost. It turns out that Kinley Ogendi was a 12-year old boy who was murdered by his father, along with one of his sisters and his mom. I couldn’t believe this happened — I had heard about this on the radio, but it was a quick report, and didn’t really stick with me. This is such a sick thing, especially since it could have been prevented.

So how does this relate to the concert? From the MinnPost article linked above, apparently TobyMac was Kinley’s favorite musician, and his classmates knew that, and contacted Toby to see if it was possible to have him play at their school. That wasn’t doable; instead, 60 kids from Kinley’s school were brought to the concert on Toby’s dime.

In any case, I can’t say it better than the song that was played just before “for Kinley” splashed up on the screen..

“For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City”

We all need to band together and do everything we can to prevent something like this from happening again.


One purchase I regret making is a cruddy little ‘brulee torch’ – underpowered, expensive, and just not worth it. It made its way to the trash can a long time ago.

I took Alton Brown’s advice and picked up a real torch. At the hardware store.

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To my Grandpa Norm..

A letter to my Grandpa Norm, who passed away on October 16, 2009.

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Configuring IPMP on NexentaStor 3

At my day job, we have recently started rolling out NexentaStor 3 for our VM image storage as a trial. If all goes well, our long-term plans are to eventually migrate all storage from Netapp to NexentaStor. As we started rolling out our NexentaStor trial, one missing feature we quickly ran across is the lack of IPMP (IP Multipathing) support. The network configuration interface that they provide can currently configure aggregated interfaces with the LACP protocol, but they do not have any mechanism to configure IPMP to aggregate interfaces from multiple switches. We were able to work out an approach to configure IPMP manually, and received Nexenta’s blessing to use it in our environment. (Important note: if you are going to try this on a licensed copy of NexentaStor, please check with your support team to ensure that they are ok with you making these changes.)

Read on for details on how to configure IPMP on your systems!


I think I found a fellow geek..

I was walking the dogs this morning, and ran across this car up the street.. Minnesota license plate ‘1RQ’.. I don’t know anything that this could mean besides ‘IRQ’.. a rather geeky concept.. what d’ya think? Is there another meaning? Inquiring minds and all!


I’ve finally made the switch from Windows Mobile to Android by way of an AT&T Captivate (which is one of the many Samsung Galaxy S phones.) So far, I’ve been fairly happy – app selection is good, it’s great to have the ability to tinker on it (no, have not rooted it or flashed a custom rom yet), and the screen is great. The only major downfalls I’ve run into so far are the lack of a hardware keyboard (I am so used to being able to type on my phone without looking — I know that there are Android options that have a full keyboard, but I wanted the combination of a full keyboard with a large high-res screen and a fast processor.. the only options available right now are on carriers that I don’t want to go with. However, the T-Mobile G2 looks like it would have fit the bill — too bad I already bought!) and the weak integrated mail client — fortunately K-9 Mail took care of that one.

I’ve only run into one thing which really causes problems that I haven’t been able to fix yet — Samsung’s Android build seems to use old-fashioned classful addressing instead of honoring modern CIDR, and then hides the fact that it is doing that from the user. This means that if you are on a Wifi network that assigns an IP in, it will assign your netmask as at the OS level, and you will not be able to reach any other subnets in This won’t be a problem for the majority of users out there, but for people who have advanced home networks (me!), or connect to a corporate/campus network with their phone, it is likely to completely break the ability to use the network.

If you’d like to read more geeky details, read on!


If you are using a LSI Logic 92xx (ie, 9211-8i, 9211-4i, 9200-16e, etc) SAS2 controller for your OpenSolaris or NexentaStor storage machine (Solaris-based distributions use the mpt_sas driver for these), you may have had trouble finding the utilities to manage it from a command line (this is useful to force a rescan, bus reset, blink a drive, etc.) I also had these issues awhile ago, and ran across the utility at SuperMicro’s FAQ site (of all places!) I still haven’t found an official download link (at LSI, or in the ‘downloads’ section at SuperMicro), but if you are looking for them, you can find them at:


The zip file includes the utility for DOS, Linux PPC, Linux x86 (which will also work on x64), Solaris Sparc and X86, and Windows 32-bit and 64-bit.

Here’s hoping these appear somewhere a bit more official sooner than later, and in the meantime, I hope this helps someone find them!

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I recently posted the results of my first attempts at HDR photography. Since then, I’ve been craving more – what can I say, it’s fun! I had some time to myself at home tonight, so I found some random items and, well, took pictures of them. For better or worse, most of this collection should probably be called the ‘vice collection’ — cigars and booze.. I was looking for something with interesting color, and well, that’s what I found!

I’m not planning on posting any of the original images, before and after shots, etc here.. if you are interested in that geek-info, comment, and I’ll get it up!

Also, if you have any suggestions of ‘good things’ to take photos of using HDR, I would love to hear about it!

Want to see the pictures?


Playing around with HDR Photography

My wife and I recently took a quick overnight trip to Stillwater, MN for our anniversary. We came out of the Dock Cafe right around dusk, and I saw some opportunities for some pictures that I thought could be cool, but knew that a single standard exposure would not capture the reality of what is there. I hadn’t ever tried HDR photography before, but knew enough about it to know that it’d take the results of several bracketed images and let me build an image that captured what I actually saw. So I went ahead and took four sets of bracketed images – the first set I did 7 images, and the rest I did 9 images. Once I got back home, I figured I’d do some searching to see how to assemble them, and came across a HDR tutorial at Stuck in Customs. I used that tutorial as a baseline, but edited the workflow a bit as I went.

Read more to see what I ended up with!


I was driving to work the other day, and spotted this garbage truck with the best company slogan I’ve ever seen..

The slogan on the garbage truck is “Satisfaction Guaranteed or Double Your Trash Back”.

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A friend of ours was having a engagement party up in New Hope, MN tonight (June 25 2010).. we knew the weather was going to be kind of nasty, but we figured that Tiff’s parents live about four miles from our friend’s house, so Kai could be with a babysitter nearby, and decided that we’d go ahead and partay. ;) However, between the time that we dropped Kai off at Tiff’s parents and left for our friend’s house, the rain had picked way up and made roads that we had been on 15 minutes before impassable. I (as usual) had my camera along, and snapped some photos while we tried to find a route to our friends house that wasn’t covered in a few feet of water.. it took us about 30 minutes to travel those few miles. In any case, the good news is there didn’t seem to be anyone hurt!

Read on for pictures!


Woofdah has a new location!

Our pups (Chimo and Oakley) have been going to Woofdah for a couple years now.. we tried a few different doggy daycares in the Minneapolis area, and this is by far the best one we have found (which is also conveniently located near us in Burnsville.) The staff actually gets to know our dogs, and is able to tell us if they are ever acting abnormal at daycare, and genuinely cares about us and the pups.

They have been renting space in a warehouse up until now, and needed a larger location, so they just finished up their new building. It’s located right across the street from Burnsville High School, so it’s a few blocks closer to us – although my choice of routes to get there will be limited a bit. ;) They had an open house at it today (May 15 2010) for the two-legged customers to explore the new place.. normally customers are unable to go into the dog areas because of insurance reasons, but today there were no puppies present, so we got to check it out. (By the time this goes up, though, the pups will probably be there!) I decided to bring my camera along and snap a few photos.. hope you enjoy a peek into the new building! Make our dogs jealous and tell them how great it is – they won’t get to see it until Wednesday..

Click to see a… few… pictures!


Fun with cameras and Photoshop..

Technology never ceases to amaze me. It’s been a long time since I attempted to stitch images together; last time was probably five years ago and the results were.. mediocre. While I was in the process of writing the post about eliminating the smoke odor in our new 2009 Mercury Sable, I wanted to toss a picture of the car up.. but I was being lazy and just had my 50mm lens mounted on the camera, and didn’t feel like changing it. This resulted in a suboptimal picture (the one at the top of that post), but I also did something that I forgot about until later..

Read more if you’re interested in the details..


[Or “my quest for the ultimate home-brew storage array.”] At my day job, we use a variety of storage solutions based on the type of data we’re hosting. Over the last year, we have started to deploy SuperMicro-based hardware with OpenSolaris and ZFS for storage of some classes of data. The systems we have built previously have not had any strict performance requirements, and were built with SuperMicro’s SC846E2 chassis, which supports 24 total SAS/SATA drives, with an integrated SAS expander in the backplane to support multipath to SAS drives. We’re building out a new system that we hope to be able to promote to tier-1 for some “less critical data”, so we wanted better drive density and more performance. We landed on the relatively new SuperMicro SC847 chassis, which supports 36 total 3.5″ drives (24 front and 12 rear) in a 4U enclosure. While researching this product, I didn’t find many reviews and detailed pictures of the chassis, so figured I’d take some pictures while building the system and post them for the benefit of anyone else interested in such a solution.

Read on for build details, pictures, and a quick review..


Kind of stating the obvious..

..but I can dig it. (License plate: ‘A RED CAR’. On a red car. A red Honda Civic to be specific.)

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