airplay won’t play on your laptop? here’s your problem

Mac airplay is awesome and has really helped us in meetings. We connected an apple TV to all of the projectors and whoever is speaking, if they have relevant content, just grabs the screen wirelessly. No more plugging in monitor cables etc. But as luck would have it today airplay worked on everyone’s laptop EXCEPT mine. It’s not like I’m always messing with my hardware configuration or anything (cough).

Anyway, here is your problem if you are faced with the same issue. I had moved my menu bar to my larger desktop monitor at work so it was my primary when I plugged in, but reverted to my laptop when I wasn’t connected. Works great. One catch – airplay won’t work in this configuration on Mac OS X 10.8.2. In short:

This does NOT work with airplay:
display preferences dialog box

This is the part that is wrong:
this is wrong for airplay

And this is how it needs to look for Airplay to work with the Macbook Air and Apple TV in Monitor Preferences on Mountain Lion.
this is right for airplay

Your welcome. Because that was a real pain to figure out. No errors, it just wouldn’t connect and kept prompting for the password for the Apple TV then dropping back to the “Airplay Off” setting with no further error message. Hopefully this saves someone else some time.

exFAT File System for Photographers Sharing Photos Between Mac and PC

Short version: The exFAT file system works on both PCs and Macs. Don’t use the setup for your external drives. Use Windows Disk Manager or the OSx Disk Utility to format your drives exFAT to be cross compatible.

Long version: It’s true I have some of “those” friends, you know the ones, the ones that you fear if left alone might actually get stuck in a Hipster trap when travelling? And they ONLY use Macs. Well, here in the real world I use Macs, PCs, sometimes Linux and whatever WORKS.

And if you are a photographer, this is a real problem when it comes to moving large files. Yes you can do it over the network, but storage and ease of use points to the utility of external hard drives.

Personally I like the ruggedized 500 GB Lacie drives. Very specifically ONLY the 500 GB because if you go up to the 1TB Lacie drives the powered USB ports don’t have enough juice to run them. So with anything larger than the 500GB you have an extra power supply. Portability-FAIL. And as a road warrior this matters to me. So 500GB Ruggedized is the go-to solution of choice for me.

I usually get them, plug them into my Mac, and set them up Mac specific figuring I’d use the network to move the data off. This time I decided to set it up on the PC and plugged the drive into my Windows 7 Dell machine at work. I immediately see “start.exe” in the root of the drive and I immediately delete it. Why do I need it? I’ll just use the drive. Mistake. (side note: Why do I do crap like that? Arrrgh. There went the weekend use of the drive.)

You see the Lacie drives come with an 9MB partition that is FAT for portability, and that utility then formats the rest of the drive. OK, no problem, I’ll just download “start.exe” from the Lacie site. Nope, you can’t. It wan’t super urgent enough for me to go find another “start.exe” from another drive so I just submitted a trouble ticket and waited. Their solution is below.

I believe that you are facing some difficulties using your drive for initial install, as you erased the LaCie setup assistance.  If your new drive is showing as 9MB instead of the full size, its likely not a  permanent  issue. The reason this happens is because the Setup Assistant program is stored on a 9MB partition and in some instances when its run, the entire drive isn’t erased. This can be caused by security policies or manual formatting instead of the automatic.

Follow these steps to correct the issue:

    1. Click on “Start” then “run” and type in ‘cmd‘ without quotes.
    2. Once the command prompt opens (a black box) type “Diskpart” – again without quotes.
    3. Type “list disk” to show you a numerical list of the drives connected, locate your LaCie drive and take a note of the number (most of the time its Disk 1) [note on my machine it was “Disk 6”]
    4. Type “select disk #” and press enter. # should be the number from the previous step.
    5. Type “clean” and press enter. The next screen should say “Disk has been cleaned“.
    6. Close the window and then click on start then run again and type “diskmgmt.msc
    7. Once Disk Management opens, find your drive in the lower pane. A pop up window might appear, please click Cancel.
    8. Right click over your drive letter and select “initialize disk” then follow the wizard. Default settings are appropriate in most cases.
    9. The disk should change to an “unallocated” state, you can then right click over that and select “new partition” or “create partition
    10. Follow that wizard, again default settings are likely appropriate. The only change you may consider is checking the “quick format” box at the end of the wizard if its not already.

After these steps, your drive should be the normal size. Feel free to configure the partitions any way you prefer, the steps above are for a single partition.



Now the interesting part is that when I was formatting it through the Windows Disk Management utility I saw the option to format using the new exFAT file system. This gets past the 4mb FAT file size limit. And exFAT support has apparently been added to Mac OSx. Score! I am now back to the old days where I can pop the same external drive into either my Macs or my PCs and get the job done.

Moral of the story: consider not using the setup utility on the Lacie drives. Format using Windows Disk Manager or use this method to format exFAT drives on a Mac. And voila, photography and video with more portability. Whooop!

the race really is to the swift

It’s not like Microsoft didn’t foresee the changes ahead. With a staff of almost 90,000, the company has many of the tech world’s smartest minds on its payroll, and has incubated projects in a wide range of fields that later took off. Experiments like Courier (tablets), HailStorm/Passport (digital identity), and  Windows Media Center (content in the cloud) show the company was ahead of the game in many areas — but then it either failed to bring those products to market, or didn’t execute.

“In this age, the race really is to the swift. You cannot afford to be an hour late or a dollar short,” says Laura DiDio, principal analyst at ITIC.

– (source)

Houston negotiated a wifi deal that was too good to be true and….

Houston went through an elaborate process of bidding and approvals for a city-wide wifi deal that is now dead. Earthlink found it cheaper to pay The 5M contract penalty than to build the network. First the facts, and then I’ll move on to why this is the city’s fault and we got what we deserved. (thanks for the heads up Katie)

Houston’s Wi-Fi deal with EarthLink fades

With little fanfare, the City of Houston’s wireless network deal with EarthLink
has gone dead.

The Atlanta Internet service provider last week said it was not making any
future investments in its $40-million municipal wireless business.

In August, when EarthLink (NASDAQ: ELNK) announced it would cut 900 jobs,
Houston city officials said the citywide
Wi-Fi network
was still in the works despite already being behind schedule
by about three months due to infrastructure planning.

Houston city officials were unavailable for comment.

So what went wrong? Well, Earthlink, a COMPANY, couldn’t make money on the deal. The balance sheet said "the negotiators were using bad numbers and the city hood winked us." So they backed out. Which if you were an Earthlink shareholder is exactly what you would want them to do. So that part is a no brainer.

How did we get here? The bidding process was intense and lengthy.

Continue reading “Houston negotiated a wifi deal that was too good to be true and….”

Writely and Numsum, web based word processor and spreadsheet

This is Thanksgiving in the US.  I had family over.  And I have some great clients and some of my family asked if "we had an Apple Pie like the one we had last year".  The answer is no.  Technically I replied with a story, and the story goes like this. 

A client of ours used Excel to create a spreadsheet to manage their holiday gift lists.  You know the type, who gets a card, who gets a pie, who gets coal and who is on the short list to turn over to the ninja hit squad.  I am honestly not sure where we were on the list last year, but we received a wonderful applie pie. 

We did NOT receive a pie this year, and based on a conversation last spring I think I know why.  They created a spreadsheet of who gets the pies.  Hid the rows for everyone who does NOT get a pie and emailed a spreadsheet from Excel that showed 50 or so names.  The company that received it uses an old PC with Microsoft Words.  MS Works does not apparently support hidden rows so they sent pies to 300 odd people, basically EVERYONE on the list.

In the spirit of "prevent that problem from happening" I recommend two more must check out products for social collaboration.

1) Writely – web based word processing using just a browser with collaboration functionality.

2) Numsum – web based spreadsheet application.

Check them out.  Both writely and numsum are potentially significant threats to Microsoft even with the new release of Office coming out.