Ask The Oracle

...A Tech blog for Engineers, Software Devs, and Computer Geeks

How to Port a Cell Phone from Straight Talk to Google Voice

Written by BobW on September 5th, 2016

Porting a number to Google Voice is normally an easy process. However, porting a cell phone number from Straight Talk (ST) is a little more complicated.

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How to Make OpenVPN work with the Windows 7 Firewall

Written by BobW on October 1st, 2013

OpenVPN is a robust open source VPN application that provides a secure, encrypted link between computers over a public network (i.e. the Internet). I have installed it on many different computers over the years. I have successfully run OpenVPN under Windows using third party firewalls. I was more than a little surprised when I tried to set up a VPN at the office of one of my consulting client’s and found that OpenVPN would not work with the Windows 7 built in firewall. If I turned off the firewall everything worked fine.  Of course, it does not make much sense to set up a VPN for security but have the firewall turned off.

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Selecting an Online Backup for Power Users

Written by BobW on February 3rd, 2011

I am big fan of online backup. It is an easy way to automatically protect your important files with minimum effort. To be effective, a backup strategy has to be easy to set up and maintain.

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SRecord Utility Should be in Every Toolbox

Written by BobW on October 26th, 2010

SRecord is utility that should be in the toolbox of every embedded systems engineer. It is an amazingly useful, open source, cross platform tool. It is like a Swiss Army knife for reformatting programming files.

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Rules for Well Behaved Window’s Utilities

Written by BobW on August 20th, 2010

There are many excellent software utilities available for Windows. There are also many other utilities that have great potential, but missed the mark because of poor program design. I am careful about the impact a program has on my computer. Sometimes programmers fail to realize that I use my computer for many tasks besides occasionally running their program. I may only run their program once a month and I expect their software to maintain a small footprint on my computer.

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Run Windows on Multiple Domains and IP addresses The Easy Way

Written by BobW on June 5th, 2010

If you plug your laptop into different corporate networks as I do, you might run into some common Windows network problems. I will share my solutions to these problems. Since I am an Embedded Systems consultant, I frequently take my laptop computer with me when I visit clients. I connect to my clients networks for internet access. I may also need a static IP on a different subnet to talk to the development hardware project I am working on. The first problem I face is that Windows does not have a way to set up a computer with multiple IP addresses, unless you have multiple network adapters. When I connect to the development network which is isolated from their internal network, I loose internet access. Switching back and forth between networks is not very practical. The second issue is that Windows only allows computers to be part of a single Windows Domain (different from Windows Workgroups). Each client has a different domain to connect to and switching domains is even more problematic.

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Free Utility Disables Trackpad While Typing

Written by BobW on May 19th, 2010

If you have used a laptop computer you have probably run into this problem. You are typing on your laptop and your wrist accidentally touches the trackpad. Of course, you don’t realize it until you look back at your screen and see that you have just deleted a section of your code or accidentally overwritten your last 20 minutes of work in your Word document. If this has ever happened to you, then you will love this free utility, Touchfreeze.

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Using High Energy Protons, FPGAs and Firmware, to Kill Cancer

Written by BobW on May 6th, 2010

One of the benefits of being a medical device consultant is the opportunity to work with new technologies that can make a difference in peoples lives. One of our newest projects may provide a superior treatment for many types of cancer.

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Why you should Avoid Checksums and Use CRCs Instead

Written by BobW on April 20th, 2010

Error detection is an important consideration for the designers of embedded systems. When the computer in your spacecraft sends a message to the main engine to shut off, it is important to make sure the message is received correctly. You want to make sure it can tell the difference between commands to, turn on, turn off, and self destruct. You might choose to use a “standard CRC algorithm” to guarantee the integrity of your data transmission. However, you might be surprised to find out how many “standard algorithms” there are. Here is some information to help you choose your implementation wisely.

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How to Add Graphics in Doxygen PDF files

Written by BobW on April 15th, 2010

In a previous post, “Document Your Software the Easy Way with Doxygen”, I discussed how to use Doxygen to create documentation for you software project.  This post shows you how to add graphics to the PDFs generated by Doxygen.

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