Can you hear me now? Tales from a Cisco voice instructor

February 26, 2012  9:07 AM

Favorite Remote Control App

Posted by: Dave Bateman
App, Remote Control

I have almost ten remote control apps on my iPad, but it seems I keep going back to the same one. Before I tell you which app I use the most, I think it is important that I explain how I use it. I mainly use it at home to access my Mac of Windows box when I am in the living room watching TV. I may need to email a file that is on my PC or view a flash file. There are a number of reasons I find myself remoting into one of my PCs.

The app I use the most is called Splashtop HD. It works very well on a local network and allows you to choose whether you want the screen to be updated quickly, which may cause a fuzzy effect or slower, which offers a much crisper display. The quicker refresh is great when you are want to watch a flash video remotely. The slower refresh is excellent when reading or writing on the remote computer.

Splashtop has a number of different apps, but most are based on the same remote engine. There is an app that lets you remotely access files, one that turns the iPhone into a touch pad, and one that lets you view a PC’s webcam remotely, just to name a few. All of these apps have to do with remotely accessing a PC so they can leverage the same remote control client. It really is pretty ingenuous how they are able to leverage one piece of software so well.

The apps aren’t free, but they do seem to go on sale in the iOS App Store fairly often. So, if you are looking for a nice remote control app to use when you are home, give this one a try. Before closing, I do have to say that while this app claims to be able to control PCs that are not on the same network, (over the Internet) I have not yet tried this so I cannot recommend it for that use. I will report back once I have the chance to try that.

February 25, 2012  10:32 PM

Your Internet May Stop Working March 8th

Posted by: Dave Bateman
Internet, Network

On March 8th, the FBI is going to remove a band-aid and, for some, it could prove to be more painful than  for others. Back in November they took down the DNSChanger botnet network. Before taking down the network, any computer infected with DNSChanger malware would be redirected to sites other than the ones the users requested. These site displayed various ads. While that does not sound too destructive, the real problem is that it prevented the computer from accessing the desired site.

When the feds took down the network, it left a big hole. The servers that redirected the computers were gone so the infected computer could not go anywhere. To help prevent this, they replaced these servers with their own. This allowed infected PCs to function properly. This was always intended as a temporary solution and March 8th is the target date for these replacement servers to be taken offline. Any computer that is still infected with DNSChanger will not be able to access the internet once these servers are offline.

So how much will this effect business on March 8th? Well, that all depends on how serious organizations work on ridding their environments of this malware. Earlier this year the security company, Internet Identity, reported nearly half of Fortune 500 and major government entries had at least one device on their network that was infected.

February 25, 2012  12:06 PM

Certification Study Tool

Posted by: Dave Bateman
Certification, study tools

Love them or hate them, certifications are often required if you work in the tech industry. Be it Cisco, Microsoft or one of the hundreds of other tech companies, they all seem to have their own certification track and those of us lucky enough to be in this field often find ourselves under some deadline to obtain one.

There are many study styles one can choose from. For me, I like to study using flash cards. There are a number of places online that you can find practice questions. Often the company that is offering the certification will provide a limited number of them or you can even create them yourself. While flash cards are great, I have been looking for a better way to utilize this style of studying. What I really wanted was a way to enter the practice questions on a PC and then review them on a PC, Mac, iOS and/or an android device. I finally found a cross-platform tool that allows me to do this, it’s called Anki.

Not only is it a great cross-platform tool for studying, but it is free, well for most devices. There is a free version for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. You may have noticed that I didn’t list iOS. There is an iOS version, but it is not free, as a matter of fact, it is $29.99. If that strikes you as odd, you are not alone. However, when you stop and think about it, it is a great way to reward someone for all the hard work they have put into the program. If you don’t need the iOS version but find that any of the other versions are useful to you, go ahead and make a donation to the developer. It isn’t hard, there is a link right on their web site. A tool that helps you pass a test that cost $100 or more has got to be worth something to you.

February 13, 2012  9:01 PM

Updating Unity Connection Aliases

Posted by: Dave Bateman
Cisco, Voice

Typically, changing the alias of a user in Unity Connection (UC) is very simple. You simply navigate to the basic settings for the user and change the alias. However, if you happen to have your Unity Connection users integrated with Communications Manager (CM), you will not be able to change the user Alias from within Unity Connection.

When Unity Connection is integrated with Communications Manager, the alias is derived from the User ID created in Communications Manager. So, in order to change the alias, you actually change the User ID in Communications Manager. One of the most common reasons an alias needs to be changed is because someone gets married and changes their last name. Often when changing an alias, other parameters such as the last name will need to be changed as well.

The following steps show how to change the alias and last name of a Unity Connection user when integrated with the Communications Manager Directory.

You will first need to change the User ID and Last name in CM:

1) In CM select User Management>End User.

2) Enter the appropriate search criteria and click Find.

3) Click on the user that you want to edit.

4) Change the User ID (this will be the new alias in (UC) and Last name.

5) Click Save.

Now you will have to go into UC to sync and clean up:

1) In UC go to Users>Sync Users.

2) Select your CM server from the Find Imported Users in dropdown.

3) Enter the Old Alias in the field to the left of the Find button and click Find.

4) Check the checkbox next to the user and click the Sync Selected button. This action will change the alias to match the new User ID that you just changed in CM. It will also change the last name.

5) Now go to Users>Users and search for the new alias.

6) Select the User and change the Display Name and SMTP Address.

7) Click Save.

January 31, 2012  8:17 PM

iPhone Virtual Keyboard

Posted by: Dave Bateman
IPhone, virtual keyboard

A few years back I was walking through the airport when out of the corner of my eye I saw an odd device for sale in one of those overpriced airport gadget stores. It was a little cube that projected a keyboard on to a desk. If I recall correctly, it was a Palm store and the device could be paired with a Palm phone. The idea was that you could have a full size keyboard without having to actually carry a keyboard around with you. I never saw one of these anywhere outside of the store so I don’t think they were big sellers.

Well, it’s back! It is available from a company called Celluon, and you can pick one up right now for about 170 bucks. However, if you have an iPhone and are willing to wait a few months, you will be able to get an iPhone case that has the virtual keyboard built in. It saves you from having to carry around another device, but it adds some serious size and weight to your iPhone. A battery is also built into the case, but at this time I am not sure if it is just for the keyboard or can also be used to charge the iPhone.

They hope to keep the price at around $170. I suppose the “cool” factor might make it worth that, but I will wait to see if the price comes down. Also, keep in mind it is made only for the iPhone 4/4s. This means that it may not fit the next model of the iPhone, which would severely shorten its life.

January 29, 2012  7:59 PM

Waterproof Your Phone

Posted by: Dave Bateman

The days of water damaged cell phones may be soon behind us. A few companies recently announced that  they will soon start providing a product that can help make electronic devices resistant to water damage. This is done by applying a silicon based coating to the device. The coating is so thin that you can’t tell it’s there. One demonstration shows a tissue that is covered in the solution and water is just rolling right off it.

Right now there seems to be a few companies that are selling or plan to sell this product soon. However, at this point I have found only one company that claims I can have this stuff sprayed on my iPhone tomorrow. The name of the company is Liquipel and while they offer the product, the only way I can get it on my phone is to send them the phone and let them do it at their shop. I am not really thrilled with the idea of shipping my phone out, so I may just wait until I can buy a phone with the solution already applied.

But, if you are one of those that can’t wait and have to live on the bleeding edge of technology, it will cost you around 60 bucks to get your device coated. Turn around is about two days plus shipping time. If you want it turned around in one day and shipped back to you via “next day,” you are going to have to come up with another 70 bucks. Be aware that the service currently seems to be available for  iPhones, HTC EVO, MyTouch, Thunderbolt, Motorola Droid, and the Samsung Charge.

January 25, 2012  7:00 PM

Becoming a CCNA Just Got More Expensive

Posted by: Dave Bateman
CCNA, Cisco

In today’s job market everyone is looking for an edge. For some, that edge is certifications. One popular certification is the Certified Cisco Network Administrator (CCNA). There was a time that you had to wait to get a seat in the class that prepares you for this test. That is no longer the case, but it is still a very popular certification.

Obtaining this certification is no small matter. There are two classes (ICND1 and ICND2) that you can take to help you prepare for the test, and they are each five days long. You can also choose a boot-camp style class that is five days long, 10-12 hours a day, or you can take the self study route. There are many good books available on the subject. You will also need to spend some time configuring Cisco routers and switches as the exam for the certification includes simulations.

As you can see, there is a lot involved in obtaining this certification. Once you feel you are ready to take the test you will need to take either one or two tests. The single test covers everything within the ICND1 and ICND2 class, while the two separate tests focus mostly on each course independently. As of early this month, the price of the tests have increased. The two individual tests used to cost $125.00 US each and is now $150.00 US each. The combined test used to cost $250.00 US and is now $295.00. Keep in mind that if you fail the test(s), you have to pay to take it again.

I would strongly encourage anyone that is thinking about taking any of these tests to be certain they are ready and feel certain they can pass. Especially now when failing can cost you as much or more than your electric bill.

January 24, 2012  6:40 PM

New Isn’t Always Better

Posted by: Dave Bateman
freeware, older versions

The other day I was using my FTP client and a window popped up informing me that a newer version was available. I don’t always update programs as soon as there is a new version, but I had the time so I figured I would update it. The update went fine, and I logged into one of my FTP servers without any problems. However, when I went to login to another FTP server, I received an error. It turns out that the updated version is not compatible with the encryption that is used on the FTP server. This isn’t the first time a new version of software has cause me trouble.

When the software that is updated is an open source of freeware, there is a fairly easy way to fix this – just downgrade to the previous version. Of course, that means that you need to have access to the previous version. Unfortunately, the previous version may not be available any longer. That’s when sites like and come in. These sites, and other like them, store older version of many of the popular freeware and shareware programs. These sites don’t just store the most previous version of a program either, in some cases the versions go back nearly 15 years. I am not saying there are many times you may need a 15 year old version of a program, but the next time a new version of a program causes you some pain, you know where to go to get the previous version.

January 20, 2012  6:45 PM

The Perfect Swiss Army Knife

Posted by: Dave Bateman
Swiss Army Knife, USB

I remember when I was younger and my parents came home from a trip to Switzerland. It was a once in a life time trip for them, and they were so excited to tell us all about it. I sat and patiently listened, but I really wasn’t hearing anything. All I had on my mind was one very important question, “Did you bring me a Swiss Army Knife?” After what seemed to be several hours (it was probably only about 15minutes) the time for souvenirs came. Being the youngest I was normally at the end of the line for most things. When they finally got to me I was about to burst. To my delight they did, in fact, get me a Swiss Army Knife.

I didn’t I wanted a Swiss Army Knife that bad again until today. The makers of the Swiss Army Knife (Victorinox) have created a pocket knife with a 1 TB UBS drive. What more could one ask for? Of course, assuming that one was a geek. Being able to carry a pocket knife and a 1 TB drive everywhere you go could come in very handy.

This knife is suppose to start shipping in April. However, I am not sure that you will find a lot of people carrying one of these around. While they haven’t announced a price yet, the fact they are currently charging $400 for a knife that has a 64 GB USB drive doesn’t make me feel that the 1TB version will be anywhere near my price range.

January 19, 2012  11:50 PM

Finally! No More Boring Walks

Posted by: Dave Bateman

Remember the last time you took a nice long walk and you were alone with just the beauty of nature and your thoughts? I bet more than once during that walk you said to yourself, “Self, I wish I could watch an HD movie while I was walking.” Okay, maybe that thought never crossed your mind, but thanks to new technology you may soon be able to do just that.

A company called Lumus has created glasses that allow you to view HD video while still being able to see through the lenses. This means that you are actually able to see through the video and see the environment around you.

This is pretty cool technology. I don’t know that a lot of people will want to watch a movie while they are walking around, but this could be cool while on a flight. Of course, there are other applications for this technology. For example, it could replace or augment your cell phone screen. Imagine being able to view your email on a nice large virtual screen instead of the small cell phone screen.

While all of this is cool, I have my concerns. You know that some people will think it would be a good idea to watch a movie while they are driving. I don’t care how well you can see the environment around you, your attention is going to be diverted. If you think texting while driving is bad (and it is) you can just imagine how much more dangerous this would be.

Of course, the big question is how much is it and when can I get one? I can’t tell you that. Lumus plans to OEM these to companies that have built applications around the device. They feel that the device shouldn’t be more than a few hundred bucks, but that is about all we know right now.

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