Ping for Windows Phone

UPDATE: Ping appears to have gone missing from the Windows Phone Store as we get closer to Windows 10 Mobile’s launch. I’m unsure where it has gone or why, but in the mean time, I recommend checking out another app with PING and even more features, Network Tools.


Despite the logo, it’s not a Ping-Pong game, just a straight forward ping tool to carry in your pocket. This week, it’s a very simple app, but an app I couldn’t believe I didn’t have on my phone! Suddenly, I needed a simple Ping utility, just like the old command-line tool for Windows, but I didn’t have one on my phone! I forgot all about it! But when I needed the this invaluable tool in my pocket, one app came through in a hurry. Ping on Windows Phone. Easy enough to remember, it shows up at the top of the marketplace when you search. The interface has a place for you type the server address you want to test, and another field to specify a port. 99% of the time, you just want to use port 80, since it does not specify a port for you by default. Then away you go!

Just use the Ping app to ensure you’re getting a response from a server or network device. Quick, simple, convenient. That’s my kind of app. All for the low, low price of free. Everyone’s kind of app. So go download Ping on Windows Phone, you never know when it’ll come in handy!

Chromebook: stop calling it a laptop

Google is so pleased with themselves. They’re seeing success with the recent Chromebook releases. Which made sense, in some form, when it was a few hundred dollars and had an impressive screen and physical design. But the Chromebook Pixel, which starts at $1,299 and goes upwards of $1,599, looks to many people browsing store shelves like a full blown “laptop.”

I will be the first to admit that over 80% of what I do on my computer is within my browser, these days. We live our lives on the World Wide Web, even if we don’t call it that anymore. Email is in the browser, Netflix is in the browser, Facebook, all of our news websites, even the tool I’m using to write this blog (and obviously how you’ll read it!) is all in a browser. Kudos to Google for identifying this. But for those other things? We need computers. Real ones. Not just browsers, or environments that look like Windows but are little more than a browser, like Google’s ChromeOS.

Google can pat themselves on the back all they want, but Google isn’t getting phone calls every day asking them “how do I install Quickbooks on this thing?” They would, except Google has gotten into the market of selling things without support. This was fine when everything was free. So what if GMail is down? It’s free! Or, it’s in beta! These were Google’s favorite defenses. But now they’ve achieved widespread use. They need to offer support. They need to hear the complaints their customers have, because right now, they’re marching onward so damn proud of their Chromebook sales. Meanwhile, every person I’ve met with a Chromebook so far? I’ve successfully talked them in to returning it to the store.

What do you mean I can’t install Word?. Well, Google offers Google Docs! It’s free! And it looks kind of like Word! But no, you can’t install the program you’re used to. And if your internet ever goes out, your productivity literally, not figuratively, just dropped to zero.

Google still lives in a Google world. Where everyone is a geek, who loves the idea of Google Buzz. Google forgets that there are still non-technical users out there. The people drawn to the iPhone? Are the same people who ask me why Word didn’t come with their new Windows computer. They don’t understand that Word 2007 and Windows 7 are different products. They don’t understand why they have to pay for Office 2011 on their new Mac if they want Outlook installed. They don’t understand that a Chromebook isn’t a computer, it’s a browser. And the people who pay over a thousand dollars? Are expecting a hell of a lot more than a browser.

Maybe I haven’t seen the right use case or product review, but I think the Chromebook, especially the Chromebook Pixel, is a waste of money.

2001 – Undergrads

During my freshman year of college, I stumbled on to a show that was about life… in college. Undergrads only lasted for a season, after originally airing on MTV. It was MTV’s era of trying several new animated shows, but because nobody ever knew what time something was going to be aired on MTV, every single show flopped after just a season. But many of them, like this one, gained cult followings.

Undergrads‘ protagonist is Nitz – we’re never given his real name… even Nitz forgets what his real time is from time to time, never spitting it out. Nitz is the prototypical un-cool kid. He has his clique of friends, likes things the way they are, doesn’t really want to go out and do the things that college kids do. He’s content.

The rest of the ensemble includes Cal, the lady-killer, Rocko, the jock, and Gimpy, the geek. Nitz meets a few new friends at college, and repeatedly bumps in to his high-school crush, Kimmy. As we take the Undergrads crew through their freshman year of college, you can see it laying out plans for at least a 4-year series as the youngsters grow up, learning about life in college, before life on their own.

The show actually does a decent job of portraying life on campus – you can see Nitz struggle with finding a club or organization he wants to belong to, the trouble with the dreaded “freshman 15” weight gain, student loan problems, deciding whether or not to drink alcohol, and the infamous “walk of shame.” And with a great cast of characters, you get to see nearly every side of every argument and make up your mind what works best for you!

Overall, Undergrads isn’t the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, but it has so many great moments I still love to go back and watch an episode every now and then. If you find every ounce of the show completely unrelatable, then you are probably too cool to be watching cartoons at your age!

With Xbox Live Gold, is Netflix Free?

UPDATE: As part of a recent (June 2014) delivering more choices for fans announcement, Microsoft stated that Xbox 360 and Xbox One users will no longer require Xbox Live Gold memberships to use Netflix. Originally, you were required to pay for Xbox Live Gold and have a Netflix subscription (this was not included with your Gold subscription). Now all you need is a Netflix subscription. If you already have a Gold subscription for the other benefits, you can keep it up – but if you are considering letting it expire, at least you can continue to use Netflix on your TV through your Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

The update change is likely to begin around June 9th, 2014. June is all that has been confirmed, but there is a rumored dashboard update for around June 9th that will likely “unlock” these features. From Microsoft: “Coming in June, anyone with an Xbox will be able to access popular entertainment experiences – whether or not you have an Xbox Live Gold membership. This includes great gaming apps like Machinima, Twitch and Upload, popular video services like Netflix, Univision Deportes, GoPro, Red Bull TV and HBO GO, sports experiences like the NFL app for Xbox One, MLB.TV, NBA Game Time, NHL Game Center and more.” If you recently signed up for Xbox Live, specifically to use apps like these, you can read more details about the changes and even request a refund of recently purchased Xbox Live memberships after the update is released in June.

Original article follows.

You may have recently purchased an Xbox 360 to use it as a media player, more so than for gaming. NPD numbers show that 360’s are the top selling console for nearly two straight years, now. But as you’re trying to get this all set up, you learn that Microsoft requires you to buy Xbox Live Gold membership packages, in order to use Netflix. Although I have explained that Gold Status has its benefits, I did not answer a popular question: is Netflix Free with Xbox Live? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Microsoft isn’t double dipping – Netflix is charging their fee, and Microsoft is charging theirs. As seen in the link above, there are other reasons to “Go Gold.” But people who plan to just use the Xbox as a glorified Netflix box, may want to consider the PS3, which currently has no fee. The Wii and Wii U also can access Netflix (though the Wii cannot do it in Hi-Def, and the Wii-Slim can’t access the internet at all, from what I understand). Although those platforms do not currently charge any of their own fees, I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for. I trust Microsoft the most, and since I am taking advantages of the other services Gold level membership offers, I don’t mind. But, a rude surprise for some, is that most, if not all, of the apps available on the Xbox 360 require you to maintain your Gold status membership. The good news is, you can always try to find a discounted subscription card.