Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (Android Tablet as a Drawing Pad)

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Samsung-Note-8Last week I purchased a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 from Best Buy. This was a device I researched quite a bit before I decided to purchase it. Originally it wasn’t my intention to purchase an Android tablet. For a while I’ve been in search of a good drawing tablet but I didn’t just want a drawing pad without a screen. Though I understand how many have never had a problem with looking down at a drawing tablet, and then back up at a screen to view what is actually drawn (or becoming accustomed to simply keeping an eye on the screen), I’ve never cared for the process.

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Smart PDA Phone Toy at the Dollar Tree

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While visiting a local Dollar Tree store I came upon an item that I found very interesting. It’s a plastic smartphone PDA toy for kids. What interested me was the icons on the fake screen:

Dollar-Tree-Smartphone-Toy

Apple iOS device owners should find them very familiar. Several appear to be direct rip-offs of iOS icons. Others were slightly modified (or older versions that have since been changed).

Wow.

iMessage and Network Authentication (iOS)

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The Short Version: Depending on the network environment, network authentication may block iMessage text messages. In addition to blocking messages to and from iPad and iPod touch devices, it will also result in blocking iPhone text messages. The simplest work-around is to disable iMessage in Settings -> Messages or just disable WiFi.

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Monoprice Flexible Keyboard

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My friends are well aware that I like to purchase computer and A/V cables from Monoprice, along with the occasional device or odd item. Well, this purchase was certainly an impulse buy. Part of the reason I tossed it into the cart was so I wouldn’t end up with the shipping cost being more than the cost of the items I was ordering. In addition, it may actually be useful at some point.

This week I bought a Monoprice Deluxe Ultra-Slim Flexible Keyboard (a hell of a title considering it’s just a flexible USB keyboard). I thought it might be practical at some point, if a friend asks me to work on a computer. I wouldn’t need their keyboard as well (and I already have a couple of monitors and mice). Perhaps it would be handy in some kind of emergency (“Quick! Does anyone have a keyboard in their car!?!”).

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My Airport Extreme Base Station Cost Me Another $45 (Because It Couldn’t Do One Thing)

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<rant>

Before I go into the rant I need to state that overall, the Apple Airport Extreme Base Station is a very good residential router, in most cases. In my experience, it’s very stable and most of the features work very well.

But not all of the features… and this one’s a real pain to work with and could be a deal-breaker for many considering purchasing this device. If you plan to use Microsoft VPN PPTP to connect to a system within your network then I suggest that you do not purchase an AEBS.

The description states that it supports VPN PPTP pass-through. Well, I guess that’s only guaranteed for outgoing connections (not specified) or it’s an incompatibility with Microsoft PPTP connections. It would take too long to describe the various forum posts, support documents, and other resources I’ve combed through trying to figure out how to make this work. I’ve spent countless hours trying to find a work-around but I just can’t make it work.

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“Installation Alert” for iTunes While Installing iOS SDK

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I ran into a problem while installing the iPhone SDK. A few minutes from the end the install paused and I was prompted with an “Installation Alert” informing me that iTunes needed to be closed before the install could proceed.

I closed iTunes but the prompt remained. Well, the install process had taken a long time so I didn’t want to quit and start over. The solution was simple.

I opened “Activity Monitor” and noticed that while iTunes wasn’t open the “iTunes Helper” process was still active. I shut down the process and a few seconds later the install of the SDK proceeded.

AirPort Extreme Base Station and VPN over PPTP

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Updated 06/17/2011: Before you get too far into this post I wanted to point out that I didn’t find a solution to getting a PPTP VPN connection to work with my AirPort Extreme Base Station. I switched over to using L2TP instead.

Updated: 08/03/2011: I’m moving to a different solution to bring PPTP back to my network setup, but you won’t like it. The step I’ve taken illustrates how inconvenient this problem can be.

Overall, I really like the new Airport Extreme Base Station that I purchased recently. The only problem I’ve had, and unfortunately it’s a major problem, is a loss of the ability to connect back into my network remotely over PPTP  via Windows 7 (I prefer to connect to my VPN when staying in a hotel).  I forwarded the appropriate ports but I was only able to use my network for about 20 seconds at a time. After that time was up I could no longer do anything on the network and the connection would usually close within a minute or two.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a true solution to this problem but I did find an acceptable work-around. I suspect this is a problem with the Extreme not properly passing the PPTP connection, though I don’t know for certain.

I started looking at using other VPN servers. Previously, I just had Windows 7 configured to accept VPN connections. I tried OpenVPN via a VMWare appliance in Fusion, but aside from configuration issues the larger problem was that I could not connect to the VPN using my iPhone or iPad.

My solution, which seems to have worked, was to purchase a copy of MacServe’s iVPN and move the VPN handling directly into OS X. Cost in USD was around $25. It hooks into existing OS X software but provides a simple GUI for management. This option turned out to be very easy to manage and works with all of my devices. Rather than using PPTP I moved over to L2TP.

On the Airport Extreme I setup three UDP ports to forward to a specific system within my network: 500, 1701, 4500

Currently, it sounds like OS X Lion may include similar capabilities, but I simply could not wait until the release of Lion.