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I don’t know what’s happened to Amazon since the beginning of 2013, but their normal level of service is way, WAY below par compared to the past decade+ that I’ve been a Prime subscriber.  I (easily) spend over $10k/year with Amazon Prime for the last ten years, and nothing like this has ever happened on such a consistent level.  Sure, they’ve dropped the ball a couple of times, but every order I’ve made since January (45 orders in all) has been botched in some way.  Usually it’s shipped late, sometimes very late (so-called “Prime” deliveries, which are supposed to only take 2 days max, taking over a week to arrive?).

Case in point, I made several Prime orders, 5 in all, that are supposed to be delivered tomorrow, three still show “Shipping Soon.”  The way things have been going, those items won’t really show up until Monday or Tuesday – 6-7 days AFTER they were ordered, and 3-4 days AFTER they were supposed to arrive.  I’m supposed to be going on vacation next week, and need these items before I go, too bad I can no longer rely on Amazon for timely, PRIME 2-day delivery.

When I first moved to Las Vegas a couple of years ago, I would regularly get my Prime deliveries the next day, since several of their warehouses are near here. And once in a while I even received the shipment the same day! I was loving it!  Now I’m lucky if the order even says it’s been shipped within 48 hours, let alone delivered in that time frame.

I’m not sure what they’ve changed, but I’ve already given them 45 orders this year and my Prime membership comes due in May.  If things don’t at least get back to “normal” (Prime shipments actually being *delivered* within 48 hours), I don’t think I’ll be renewing my Prime subscription.  It’s very unfortunate that their service has so suddenly gone down the hole.

Sorry for the rant, but I had to get it off my chest since it’s really been bugging me the last several weeks, with each subsequent order confirming the downward trend in their service.  Hope y’all are having better luck.

I was more than a full year overdue on my “new every two” contract with Verizon (this option is no longer available, more on this later), and hanging onto a phone that I absolutely hated (the LG Navigator) – hoping for something great to come along.  Nothing did, so instead of putting up with that awful LG phone any longer, I made the plunge.

I had sort of been waiting (and waiting, and waiting some more) for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.  But when it finally came out, it was missing a few things that I’ve dearly loved on smart phones ever since I had my Treo by Palm (my most favorite phone – EVER!).  The Nexus didn’t have a physical keyboard, nor did it have an SD  card-reader slot -ugh!  And by the time the Nexus was finally available, the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show was barely a month away – surely something amazing would be show up for CES!?  Nope.

What did show up were a couple re-works of Motorola’s Droid, that actually turned them into serious contenders against the Nexus; the Droid Razr MAXX, and the Droid 4. Neither of which have the latest Android Version, code-named “Ice Cream Sandwich” – which the Nexus does have. But it sounded like it might be “coming soon.”

However, the Droid phones have a few drawbacks themselves, mainly; no way to upgrade/change the battery without shipping the whole thing off to Motorola (same problem with the iPhones), and their own, customized version of the Android operating system that cannot be over-ridden – which in turn includes (A LOT OF) “bloat-ware” from both Motorola and Verizon that cannot be deleted from the phone. And while the droids do allow you to insert microSD cards, you have to remove the back cover from the phone in order to do so – it’s not simply a spring-loaded slot like the old Palm Treo’s and even my nemesis, the LG Navigator had.

The reason I substantially favor the Nexus over the Moto phones, is its “clean” implementation of Android.  I want to learn how to develop for the Android platform, and I think it would be nice to have a phone that has a pristine as possible implementation of the Android OS for testing purposes.

Pros & Cons:  Here are what I think are the biggest pros & cons for each phone;

Samsung Galaxy Nexus:

Pros

  1. Uses latest, “unadulterated” Android Operating System
  2. Has a great Screen/viewport
  3. You can self-update the battery in case of failure, or to upgrade to a longer-life battery

Cons

  1. No memory expansion AT ALL
  2. No physical keyboard
  3. Stock battery pretty much MUST be upgraded to a long-life battery.

Droid Razr MAXX

Pros

  1. Comes with a Large, long-life battery
  2. Memory can be augmented with microSD cards

Cons

  1. Uses a proprietary version of Android which cannot be updated until Motorola & Verizon make their “special version” available to the user.
  2. Cannot update/replace the battery without shipping the whole unit back to Motorola
  3. Even though you can technically use microSD cards in this phone, it’s kind of a pain-in-the-ass (PITA) to do so, since you have to remove the back panel of the phone – using a special tool – in order to switch out the card.

Droid 4

Pros

  1.  Physical Keyboard
  2. You can use microSD cards to augment the memory, with the caveats above.

Cons

  1. Small (short-life) battery that cannot be upgraded period, and can only be replaced by shipping the unit off to Motorola.
  2. All of the other “Cons” listed above for the Droid MAXX

It was a very hard choice, since NONE of the phones on the market meet what I use for a base criteria: easy to use SD (or microSD) slot, non-proprietary up-to-date version of Android, user replaceable/upgradable battery, physical keyboard. I also had to give up my awesome, unlimited data plan – so now I pay significantly MORE per month for very limited bandwidth and text messages. TBH, I’m not entirely pleased, but I hated my old phone and it was in extreme need of being replaced.

In the end, I opted for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.  I hope I’m not too disappointed without the keyboard and SD options.  Honestly, I really miss my Palm Treo – I wish an updated version of that phone were available with its awesome keyboard and standard (full-sized), externally available SD card slot.

But, in ordering a new phone, I had to give up my AMAZING old Verizon contract which not only had plenty of minutes, it also included UNLIMITED bandwidth usage, UNLIMITED text messaging, and the “New every two” clause that basically gave you an additional discount on a new phone every two years.  All that for less than $80/mo!

Now I have (severe) bandwidth & texting limits, no additional phone discount every two years, AND I get to pay ~$20 MORE than I used to!  Yay!  So I’m not too thrilled with Verizon’s new (draconian) contracts, YUCK – I’d be paying up to $60 more to actually get something semi-comparable to what I had before. But for now I’ll just test the waters with what’s supposed to be their “el cheapo” version (even though it’s considerably more than I used to pay, for MUCH more service).

The new phone should arrive later this week.  Hopefully I can do a bit of a “hands-on” review by this time next week.  In the mean time, I hope your work week goes well! Enjoy!

(I posted this from Word 2007, dunno that it brought the images over correctly, WP seems to have truncated them.  Here is a 3MB PDF Version.  Hope y’all find this useful!)

I decided to write this guide due to the fact that I had a large db migration project that I’ve been working on over the past few weeks and there’s a definite lack of accurate & thorough, step-by-step documentation on how to do this.

A couple of assumptions are made:

  1. Admin access to a functioning MySQL db Server (able to create db’s, db users, permissions, etc), preferable to have access via phpMyAdmin.
  2. Access to a .BAK backup file, from the MSSQL db you want to migrate

Part One: Download and install MS SQL Server 2008 Express (with Tools)

  1. You can get the download from here: http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/en/us/editions/express.aspx
  2. Pick the version that most fits your situation, I’m using 64-bit Window 7, so I chose “Download 2008 R2 64-BIT Database w/Tools”
  3. Install the MSSQL Express package (NOTE: After installation, run MS Update to make any patches):
    1. Choose “New Installation…”

      b. Accept the License Terms and click “Next:”

      c. “Select All” and set the install directories (I just left them default) and click “Next:”

      d. Instance Configuration; I left everything default and clicked Next:

      e. Server Configuration; Change “SQL Server Browser” to “Automatic” from the drop-down:

      f. Database Engine Configuration; Set to “Mixed Mode” and enter the sa (system administrator) password – remember this password, you’ll need it later!

      g. Error Reporting; just leave it un-checked and hit Next:

      h. Installation Progress; If all went well you should get a screen similar to this:

      i. Complete; at the end you should get this final window:

Part 2: Post Installation Configuration

1. Start up the SQL Server Configuration Manager:

2. Select “SQL Server Services” and verify that “SQL Server Browser” & “SQL Server” are “Running” and “SQL Server Agent” is “Stopped”

3. Now select “SQL Server Network Configuration” and click on “Protocols for SQLEXPRESS”

4. Right-click on TCP/IP and select “Properties” and set the drop-down for “Enabled” to “Yes”

5. Open the “IP Addresses” tab within the TCP/IP Properties window and set all of the IP TCP Port settings to 1433 (they’re all blank by default, I had to set ten of these on my config):

6. For the changes to take effect, you need to restart the server:

Part 3: Creating a db from a .BAK file

1. Start up the “Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio” – If this is the first time you’ve run the Management Studio, you will need to fill in the server name (as shown if you installed w/ defaults):

2. Right-click on “Databases” and select “Restore Database…”

3. Give your db a name in the “To database:” field and click the “From Device” radio-button:

4. Open the file browser using the “…” button, and “Add” your .BAK file

5. Be sure to place a check-mark next to the backup sets! Then click “OK” to start the process

6. Hopefully you will get the “…completed successfully.” window:

Part 4: Download & Install MySQL GUI Tools

  1. The installer package (.msi) is available here: http://dev.mysql.com/get/Downloads/MySQLGUITools/mysql-gui-tools-5.0-r17-win32.msi/from/pick#mirrors
  1. After starting the installer you may get a notice like this, just click “OK”

    1. On the “Setup Wizard” click the “Download Prerequisites” to be redirected to a page that allows you to download them (Microsoft .NET and Visual C++ package)
  2. Once you have the prerequisites installed. Start (restart) the MySQL Tools installer (click Next, accept the License and click Next):

  3. Destination Folder (I just used the default):

  4. Setup Type (I used “Complete”):

  5. Ready to Install (just click “Install”)

  6. You should get the “Installing…” Screen:

  7. And finally the “Wizard Completed” window (click “Finish”):

    I initially tried using the “New” MySQL Workbench, but it’s basically worthless for doing db migration. So you need to download this “End-of-Life” product, that is actually more useful than its new replacement. From what I could see, the new Workbench is just a poorly implemented replacement for phpMyAdmin – trust me, just stick with phpMyAdmin, and this GUI Tools package.

Part 5: Migrating a Local MS SQL Server 2008 Express db to a Remote MySQL db

1. Open the MySQL Migration Toolkit (You will need the latest java JRE to run this application)

2. Click Next until you get to the Source Database page.

    a) Select MS SQL Server for the Database System

    b) use “localhost” for Hostname and 1433 for the Port number

    c) Use the “sa” account and password you created when installing MS SQL Server Express

d) To ensure the db connection works, use the “…” button to connect to the server and select the db from a drop down list. (if the “Next” button isn’t showing – as above – click in the Domain field and click Next.

3. Target Database

a) Enter your MySQL db Server information. You do not have to use the root account, as long as the account you use has full admin privs.

4. Connecting to Servers. If all goes well, you should arrive at this screen: (click Next)

5. Source Schemata Selection. Highlight the source db: (click Next)

6. Reverse Engineering. You’ll get a screen like the following, when the progress bar is done, all of the boxes should be checked; click Next.

7. Object Type Selection. Just use the default and click Next.

8. Object Mapping. Just leave everything as is (MS SQL to MySQL) and click Next:

9. Migration. You should get a brief progress bar, and then this page. Click Next

10. Manual Editing. If no issues are found, you should get this page. Click Next

11. Object Creation Options. Click Next

12. Creating Objects. After a brief progress bar you’ll get this window. Click Next.

13. Creation Results. This is where you will most likely run into any issues.

a) Click the “Advanced >>” button so you can edit the offending SQL statements:

Adjust the window so you can see the entire MySQL statement. And hover your mouse over the error to read exactly what was causing the problem. In this case the MSSQL function newid() would normally be changed to uuid(), however the way MySQL is structured, you cannot use functions to set default values. So here, I’m just going to opt for setting the default as NULL (since the data is already in the table). Then “Apply Changes” and “Recreate Objects” to see if that takes care of the problem. Once I get the first problem statement figured out. I go ahead and edit the other, en masse. After making corrections, just remember to click the “Apply Changes” button, then move onto the next statement. When you’re all done, Re-Try by clicking the “Recreate Objects” button. Once all of your MySQL errors have been taken care of, you will get to the next screen

b) Creation Results: (click Next)

14. Data Mapping Options. Just leave everything as it is, and click next:

15. Bulk Data Transfer. Now the data is being migrated. For large db’s this can take quite awhile:

When it completes, you should get “Execution completed successfully” and can click “Next.”

The final screen is just a Summary report, and you can exit the toolkit. At this point, I usually login via phpMyAdmin just to make sure everything came across as expected. I hope you found this tutorial helpful. I know I spent weeks pulling my hair trying to get this to work because the data was not located all in one place like this. Good Luck! And many happy migrations to you!

A while back (2009) I wrote an entry associating Tarot Cards to pop-songs – actually I’ve done two entries on this topic.  I’ve decided to go ahead and try to actually make several YouTube “Video Collages” using the song-list I created earlier and images of various tarot decks in my collection.  Usually the images of the card are in alpha order for the decks I’m using.  Here is that list of decks:

Whew!   I think I got them all, but I may have missed a couple, there ARE a lot of different decks represented, and I’m not using my entire collection, that would just be too much! Anyways, I hope y’all enjoy the images and the music that I’m putting together.  You can check ’em out over on my YouTube page.  I’ve only got the first few done, but hopefully I’ll have the entire Major Arcana done before July.  Enjoy!

Here’s a cool article I just read this morning. I tried to post a reply there, but it wouldn’t let me, so I’ll just post my views over here.  I’m just starting a total re-do at a local college website and this article along with the comments have really provided some food for thought.

I totally disagree with the commenter that recommends taking the conversation to www.edustyle.net – they’re part of the problem promulgating boring/poor designs. What’s needed are independent views like this one.

My favorites from the article and comments are: Indiana U, Boston U, U Colorado/Boulder, and Michigan State.  Simple, functional designs on all of those sites. 

Almost all of the other sites look exactly the same; far too many links & sections coupled with poor organization. Just exchange your logo and school colors, mix up the slide show a bit, and 90% of the sites fit that description. Please, let’s do away with the “wall-o-links” look!

The sites that get my vote for worst offenders were: U Kansas and their seemingly sister-site (design wise) U Michigan, U Nevada/Reno, and Gonzaga U.  Although these guys actually seem to have tried to step away from the typical “wall-o-links” design, they failed either in their awkward menu systems, or super-annoying widgets (like the talking pop-outs at Gonzaga). 

Don’t get me wrong, 90% or more of the sites listed in the article and its comment section are also very boring or outright bad design.   Out of the 56 I visited and took the time to write some notes on, only eleven got a “good” or “above average” rating. And only the four listed above got a “Very good” or higher grade.

I’ve been using the new scanner intensively the past week or so.  For the most part it has been great, but when it fails, it fails big time on the “Digital ICE” feature that is supposed to clean up old, possibly damaged photos, slides, negatives, etc.  Besides the problems with ultra rocky settings, it also seems to do odd stuff when there are a lot of leafy trees or rippled water shots.  It just over smooths those things and turns them into blocky, artifact filled pictures, which is unfortunate.  Of course, you can turn that feature off, but then you need to re-scan the image (which can take a long time if you’re using a high dpi setting – upwards of 3-5mins per picture).

Anyways, I’m still glad I got the scanner, and it really is performing pretty well.  It just an annoyance that when it fails, it does so in such a grand failure.  I’d say it’s failure rate is well within acceptable limits though.  Across a spectrum of many types of photos, it probably only conks out apprx. 5% of the time, or less.  But on those types of photos (lots of rocks with shadows, leafy-forest shots, rippled water…etc) it fails near 100%.

I hope the coming week finds you well, and that preparations for the upcoming holidays are on track! Enjoy!

I’ve been pretty busy laying the groundwork for this project. The photo scanner is scheduled to arrive early next week, and I’d like to have a process of some kind worked out by that time to get the photos/slides scanned, tweaked if needed, and uploaded to the web-host with supporting data added to a database of some kind. So I’ve been working on the web backend that will include the photo loader and data entry forms.  I’ve also created a database with a few tables to support the data that I’d like to capture.

So, things seem to be progressing pretty well.  I’m also hopeful to use the project as an addition to my web portfolio, since I  am still looking for employment within the web programming/development/design sector.  Not much else to report.  I haven’t really been gaming much since beginning this project, and that’s likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future.  Once I get things officially started next week, I will try to post a link to the webpage so you can see it evolve over time.  In the mean time, I hope your endeavors are successful and that you’re having some fun along the way – Enjoy!

I’m gearing up to dive into a huge project at home, digitizing a sizeable photo-archive.  This week I’m planning on ordering a scanner build just for photograph scanning, an Epson Perfection 600.  I’m really hoping the “Digital ICE” is as good as reported.  Some of the slides, negatives, and photos I’ll be scanning do have some damage, so I’m very hopeful that this built in corrective software can really do what it’s claiming.

In the mean time, I’m trying to convince my mom to give me full access to all the pictures around her home, they’re scattered throughout her house in boxes, folders, memory books, framed-hanging on the wall, etc.  So it will be quite an undertaking.  I have some books or other written materials that have simple Xerox type copies of photos, so I’d really like to find the originals and get those scanned in as well.  I’d also like to convert some/most/all of that written material into a digital format as well, so it’s a nice feature that this Epson scanner also has OCR capabilities.

My goal for an end result would be to build a webified digital archive for our family history.  There are a couple of other sites out there already, but they’re not very comprehensive, nor do they have the web design background that I will be able to bring to bear on the project.  Eventually, I’d like to partner with the existing sites to make them all easier to navigate and provide a bit more cohesion to the whole family archives.  We’ll see how it goes. I know of two sites out there already:

Anyways, that’s what will be keeping my time tied up for quite awhile.  Hopefully it will go smoothly once I get into a groove with the project. I hope all your endeavors are working out well, Enjoy!

A little late for a month-end roll-up, but better late than never.  Here are the stats for May:

Top Posts

  1. Home page with 309 hits
  2. Gardening Bug with 171
  3. Enochian Tablets… Building Your Own with 117
  4. ScreenShots with 71
  5. EVE Multibox Mining with 41

Almost had a month without an EVE post in the top 5!  Early this month I crossed a pretty big milestone – breaking the 20K visitors mark.  I thought that was pretty cool, esp. for the semi-regular, somewhat eccentric blog that Lemegeton tends to be.  897 of those hits came in May, which was less than the 1,100 I had last year at this time. I’m hoping that’s just due to the lack of my posting activity – or maybe I’ve topped out and 800 or so will be my average monthly hit rate from now on. We’ll see.

Plans for June.  Mainly I’m still in Job-Hunting mode, and doing the odd contract job here and there.  I’m also working on figuring out the nursery biz, and how I can use the family resources to a benefit, instead of just letting the acreage just sit unused. In the little bit of free time I have after that, I have been playing a little Warhammer now and then, but that may stop altogether soon if a more steady income stream is not created soon.

I hope your May brought you “May Flowers” and that going into Summer, all is a little more relaxed and BBQ’s are abundant. Enjoy!

As much as I hoped to make some real headway on the packing and other moving preparations, I didn’t get hardly anything done in that arena.  I ended up reading a couple of books instead, and playing a bit of Warhammer here and there.  The books were most excellent, however.

The first was a very short, but engrossing book on web “psychology,” for want of a better explanation. Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?  relates many different psychological studies and how their conclusions relate to web design, and what drives a visitor’s actions when they’re visiting your web-site.  Very interesting stuff!

Next, I read a book about writing. Master Class in Fiction Writing is very interesting in that there’s actually a lot of “homework” involved. Each chapter requires that you read a different “great” author, and then their style is critiqued for illustrative purposes towards solving various issues that fiction writers regularly encounter. Such as, how to write dialogue, description, plot, etc. Most of the “homework” novels or short stories I’ve read before, so I haven’t been re-reading them – but I might after I finish this book.  I don’t really have time to re-read Sense and Sensibility right now, but maybe next month after I move 😀

One thing I did notice over the weekend is that some of the boxes that I’ve packed with books are starting to split down the corners.  Not good. So I’m going to have to get some good box tape and try to repair them before they get any worse.  Ugh.  I *hate* moving – I’m starting to wonder if I have enough savings to just hire someone to at least do the loading – I doubt it, but it would be nice.  Loading all this stuff by myself is NOT going to be fun…

I hope the new week (and the new month) finds you well and progressing towards all things better and more comfortable! Enjoy!

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