Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

August, 2011

  • Razor Blade - a new gaming laptop enters the market

    I often wonder when I see a new machine like the Razor Blade what the marketing and sales folks project it will sell over the course of the next twelve months.  I mean really, this is an interesting machine but can you imagine the looks you'd get showing up at a customer meeting with one?  That would be fun. Click the image below for the high resolution version.

    razer_blade_gaming_laptop_11

    See http://www.razerzone.com/blade for all of the specs and details.  It's an impressive list.  It has an impressive price to go with it.  If you have to ask, you can't afford it and forget about asking your manager even if it will run Hyper-V. Grin.

  • Selling on eBay Can Be Scary

    When you start looking closely at eBay, it looks like the environment is totally locked down and sellers or buyers are protected.  Think again.  I recently started selling some of my gadgets and a particular transaction on a Zune 80 player went down the toilet.  It ended up ok, but it exposed some ugly warts.

    The first thing you need to know is that selling on eBay means you, the seller, are taking a risk.  The amount of the risk is going to depend on the value of the item you are selling.  In the case of the Zune 80 we aren't talking about a lot of money, but I discovered there are some holes in the verification process for buyers and the accounts they setup.

    bad_addrFirst of all, anyone can setup an eBay ID.  For your ID, you are supposed to use your street address and considering many people won't ship to a post office box, a residential address is preferred. Here's the address of the person that bought my Zune 80.  I blurred their name but I don't think that's actually their real name anyway.

    What do you notice?  It says confirmed. This is a screen snip from the order and transaction in my PayPal account.  I made the assumption this was legit.  I mean after all the sale was via eBay and PayPal.  Bad assumption.

    The Zune 80 and everything else I am selling is marked immediate payment required. In order for that to happen the buyer needs a PayPal account and that account needs to be verified.  I assumed because I got paid immediately that the account was also valid.  Again, bad assumption.

    The PayPal account was created using a stolen name and credit card.  Nice.  I asked PayPal how this is possible.  I didn't receive a good answer.  How did I find out the credit card was stolen?  Well, I found out after the Zune was in transit to the buyer.  The real credit card holder disputed the charge to their card.  Uh oh.  Now what?  Well, the story has more twists.

    Obviously when the transaction got put on hold, I started doing my own investigation.  I looked up the address on Bing maps and noticed the building looked commercial.  It is commercial.  In fact it's a government building.  It's a post office.  Now keep in mind the listing on eBay is marked that it won't be sold to a buyer with a post office box address.  Apparently the eBay system doesn't check buyer addresses against a list of known post office addresses. Don't ask me how this happened.  Not to mention the credit card used is a different persons name and address.

    The Zune went all the way to the post office.  The buyer refused delivery so UPS shipped the box back to me.  This is on a sale marked not returnable.  Apparently that means nothing.  At this point I'm thinking they opened the box from the bottom, replaced the Zune with something of equal weight, and it will arrive back at my house with a box of dog crap or something.

    I actually got the Zune 80. I'm not particularly sure why the buyer did all of this but it's apparent they were either testing the security of the eBay or PayPal system, or screwing with the credit card holder and me.  Or all of the above.

    Here's what I learned:

    1. When you ship an item, there is no seller protection for the value of the item.  eBay and PayPal claim they'll work with law enforcement, but I don't know to what extent. 
    2. IDs and addresses don't appear to be checked effectively at eBay or PayPal.
    3. Although you are paid immediately, if a transaction is disputed, your PayPal account will get hit with the amount before the dispute is resolved. Dispute resolution is not quick.  Plan on at least 30 days.
    4. Just because you sell an item marked not returnable, apparently buyers will ignore that.  You really have no recourse.
    5. Buyer restrictions don't allow you to specify only allowing buyers with a well established track record and feedback history.  Therefore new IDs in the system that could be fraudulent could buy your stuff.
  • I used to race Yamaha

    Yamaha

    Here’s something you probably didn’t know about me.  I used to be a motocross racer in the Conroe and Houston area.  I always wanted to try flat track racing but never got the nerve.  Click the badge above for a vintage racer.  It’s a really nice machine for those of you that love bikes. 

  • Classic Porsche Carrera 6 for sale

    erez

    I wonder if Leno has any more room in garage for this beauty. See http://www.bonhams.com/usa/auction/19363/lot/24/. It sure would be fun tooling around Southlake in this to make all the Maserati's and Ferrari’s totally jealous.

  • Linux Integration Services Version 3.1 for Hyper-V - now available for download

    ws2008 r2 blog logoWhen installed in a supported Linux virtual machine running on Hyper-V, the Linux Integration Components provide:

    • Driver support: Linux Integration Services supports the network controller and the IDE and SCSI storage controllers that were developed specifically for Hyper-V.
    • Fastpath Boot Support for Hyper-V: Boot devices now take advantage of the block Virtualization Service Client (VSC) to provide enhanced performance.
    • Timesync: The clock inside the virtual machine will remain synchronized with the clock on the virtualization server with the help of the pluggable time source device.
    • Integrated Shutdown: Virtual machines running Linux can be shut down from either Hyper-V Manager or System Center Virtual Machine Manager by using the “Shut Down” command.
    • Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) Support: Supported Linux distributions can use up to 4 virtual processors (VP) per virtual machine.
    • Heartbeat: Allows the virtualization server to detect whether the virtual machine is running and responsive.
    • KVP (Key Value Pair) Exchange: Information about the running Linux virtual machine can be obtained by using the Key Value Pair exchange functionality on the Windows Server 2008 virtualization server.

    Go get em @ http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=26837

  • Happy Birthday IBM PC

    image

    See the specs at http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/pc25/pc25_fact.html.  This is hot, I want one.

  • Kingston launches HyperX SSD models

    imageKingston's HyperX® SSD combines the latest SandForce® controller technology with premium NAND Flash, reducing load times while increasing performance and endurance. It provides high-speed SATA Rev 3.0 (6 Gb/s) transfer speeds for larger bandwidth, which power users require for advanced gaming, multitasking and multimedia computing power. Kingston's HyperX SSD lets users load games and applications faster, increase frames per second (FPS) and quickly transfer and edit large media files. It's cool, silent and requires less power and no additional cooling requirements.

    See the rest of the data sheet details at http://www.kingston.com/ssd/HyperX.asp.  You'll notice they can be purchased at several online stores. Newegg.com currently has the 240GB drive listed at $499 for the bare bones kit.  The Kingston store wants $747 so you might want to shop around. Grin.

    Here's a pretty good video of what you get.

  • System Center Operations Manager - Cross Platform Management Packs - available for download

    SysCnt-OprtnsMgr_v_rgbThe System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 Cross Platform Monitoring Management Packs enable discovering, monitoring, and managing UNIX-based and Linux-based computers by using the same interface and tools that you use to manage your Windows-based computers. They provide both proactive and reactive monitoring of the UNIX and Linux operating systems.

    The management packs monitor components such as processes, resources, and server agents. The monitoring provided by the management packs includes availability and configuration monitoring, performance data collection, and default thresholds. You can integrate the monitoring of UNIX and Linux components into your service-oriented monitoring scenarios.

    In addition to health monitoring capabilities, the management packs include reports, diagnostics, tasks, and views that enable near real-time diagnosis and resolution of detected issues. The management packs also enable the installation of the Cross Platform Audit Collection Services Management Packs.

    Feature Summary

    • Provides monitoring of the AIX 5.3 and 6.1 operating systems.
    • Provides monitoring of the HP-UX 11iv2 PA-RISC, HP-UX 11iv2 IA64, HP-UX 11iv3 PA-RISC, and HP-UX 11iv3 IA64 operating systems.
    • Provides monitoring of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server 4 (x64), Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server 5 (x64) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server 6 (x64) operating systems.
    • Provides monitoring of Solaris 8, Solaris 9, and Solaris 10 operating systems.
    • Provides monitoring of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP1, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 operating systems.
    • Enables the installation of the Cross Platform Audit Collection Services Management Packs.

    See the full revision history and get the bits @ http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=18891.

  • New engineering blog for Windows 8 goes live

    Windows-brand_h_rgbIn case you haven’t noticed, Steven Sinofsky created a new blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/b8 where they are discussing and disclosing features in the coming Windows 8 operating system.  For instance, see the team introduction at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/08/17/introducing-the-team.aspx.  There are some pretty interesting feature teams listed.  I’m not going to speculate what this all means but you should pay close attention to the coming blog posts.

  • I’m a Virt Guy

    Dig the cool mini van on this video.  LOL.  Someone had fun making this.