Sunday, October 07, 2007

Goodbye T-Mobile, hello Sprint

As you may have guessed from my earlier post, I have been dissatisfied with T-Mobile's data offering. So I switched to Sprint and got an HTC Mogul. It's a pretty sweet phone...a little bigger than I really want (the Dash was pretty sexy), but you get a touch screen and a slider keyboard. The EV-DO is awesome, although I'm having an issue where when I connect the Internet Sharing application it drops. Oh, and Sprint's DNS was taking 30-45 seconds to resolve names. I fixed it with this OpenDNS hack. So there are a few quirks that I'm sure I'll get ironed out, but all in all, I'm confident that the move was a good one.

I got a new phone number, too. If you have my old 217 number, it won't work anymore; drop me a line for my new 773 number.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Uh oh...

/sbin/lsraid -a /dev/md0
[dev   9,   0] /dev/md0         CD3295E2.945D4D13.7961C1FF.F79E9355 online
[dev   ?,   ?] (unknown)        00000000.00000000.00000000.00000000 missing
[dev  34,   1] /dev/hdg1        CD3295E2.945D4D13.7961C1FF.F79E9355 good

One of the hard drives on my file server is "missing." Uh oh.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New York Trip Summary

Work sent me to the VS Live conference in Brooklyn. Since I had never before been to New York, I decided to take advantage of the paid-for airfare and take a week for myself. I stayed at Chelsea International Hostel (keeping it on the cheap) while I was paying my own way.

I didn't want to be a total tourist; I was more interested in experiencing life in Manhattan as a resident would experience it...find a cool coffee shop, find a good diner, explore the bar scene, don't take too many pictures.

It was also a social experiment: I don't know anyone in Manhattan, and I was traveling by myself. Would I be able to meet people? Could I have fun on my own?

  • Saturday: ORD to LGA. Checked into the hostel and wandered around Chelsea. Went to Ground Zero (not a lot to see there, it's a construction site). Met a group of Brazilians on the subway (I just uttered a "hi" as I sat down next to a girl and she warmly said "hi" back; conversation ensued). I hung out with them as they went to Times Square and Hard Rock Café (lame, I know, but I didn't want to be a stick in the mud, so I went with it). Separated from them as they continued their overly-tourist pursuits with an agreement to meet up in Greenwich Village later. They were a few hours behind me, so I went on a one-man choose-your-own-adventure bar crawl. Met a bartender that was new to New York and she offered me her phone number to hang out (but then never returned my call...lame). Met up with the Brazilians for the last few hours.
  • Sunday: Slept late. Found a coffee shop (Grounded). Went for a run in Central Park which was phenomenal. Saw Death at a Funeral and then went to bed (one of the down sides of hostel is that there's no privacy, no TV, no place to just lay low, so a movie theater was a good break).
  • Monday: Found another coffee shop (Grumpy). Went to MoMA, saw Bourne Ultimatum, went to a pub near the theater and met business traveler named Sam and a drunken Scot who was passing through and had no place to stay.
  • Tuesday: Found another café (Soy Luck Club). Went to the taping of Conan (and hugged him!). Met up with a friend from work who is staffed in Manhattan for dinner/drinks. While I was waiting for him to get off, I started searching for a bar. I asked a random stranger (Emily) for a recommendation and she walked me to a place near her apartment. I told her that her company would be welcome while I waited for my friend. She stopped home and then joined me with a few friends. We all hung out for the evening. Cool!
  • Wednesday: Went for a run along the Hudson, read, met up with a former coworker's daughter in Brooklyn for a couple of drinks.
  • Thursday: Metropolitan Museum of Art, went to a couple bars in East Village. Saw a stark naked fat white guy sitting on the steps of a building being subdued by police. Met a couple of nice girls at Leopard Lounge (Shanna and Rachel).
  • Friday: Called Shanna to join me for The Cloisters (which she and Rachel had recommended) but she had just gotten home to Jersey after crashing at a friend's in Manhattan so declined. Went to Cloisters. Found a surprisingly good sushi restaurant (surprising because of how good the fish was compared to how poor the atmosphere was), saw 3:10 to Yuma, took a walk through the Meat Packing District (too posh for me), went to Burp Castle in East Village where I met Emily and her friend Matt, and a really cool bartender Rachel. Went to an all night coffee shop that serves beer to meet up with a few of their friends. Cool.
  • Saturday: Checked out of the hostel, dropped off laundry, went to a coffee shop, picked up laundry, checked in at the Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge. Went for a run from Brooklyn to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge, and back via the Manhattan Bridge. Absolutely one of the most beautiful runs of my life. Took a shower, laid low in the hotel because for the first time in a week...I could!
  • The rest of the week was mostly conference related. I went to an Indian restaurant in Brooklyn Heights, went back to East Village a couple nights. Nothing especially eventful.

On a people-related front, I learned quite a bit. First, just reinforcing the fact that there are good, cool people everywhere—all you have to do is talk to them. Second, live your life for you and people will follow. The girl I met on Tuesday is a great example: I only asked for advice, offered to let her join me, and she ended up spending a whole evening with me. The conversation on Thursday was similar: I introduced myself as I sat down and let them know I was in from out of town and open to conversation, but didn't push. I let them talk while I read a paper, and a few minutes later they started asking me questions and invited me to join them.

I have to say: Manhattan is a really, really cool place. As a Chicagoan, I felt right at home and could happily live there. You have to have a little bit of a tough a-hole attitude; you have to walk with purpose down the street. Manhattan is a little denser than Chicago, their public transportation is a little better, but Chicago is a little cleaner and a little nicer. But they are both great places full of great people.

Streaming Media Center Content

A friend sent me this link: Microsoft adds Slingbox-like capability to its Media Center PCs. I spent the better part of this evening playing with it and I have to say: this is hot. I can log into my media center box and stream any recorded TV program or music in real time. The content is transcoded into a lower bitrate/resolution on the fly. I can almost stream recorded TV over T-Mobile's EDGE network (but not quite...too much stuttering while buffering). It's not as nice as watching the actual program on my actual TV, but if I'm, say, staffed out of town and I want to catch a show I recorded, it will get the job done.

Edit: Here's a photo of M*A*S*H streaming to my phone over Wifi. 15 frames/sec, 160x120, 100kbps.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I hugged Conan O'Brien

I went to a taping of Conan today. I know it sounds cliche, but the studio is REALLY small. Anyway, before the show, one of Conan's writers came out to warm up the crowd; after that, Conan came out to warm us up. I was in the second row, on the aisle, so a prime spot for Conan Interaction. He came out and shook hands with 6 or 8 people in the first 2 rows, and I thought to myself, Sweet, I got to shake Conan's hand! He singled another guy out, made some joke about how tall he was, and then asked the crowd if we thought the two of them should hug. After the applause, they hugged. Then Conan pointed at me and said that the tall guy and I should hug. I popped up out of my seat, excited to be picked out, and I hugged the guy, then awkwaydly half-sat down because I didn't know what to do. Then Conan joked that the other guy was lingering for more...and I sure was eager to hug him. I tried to say something to Conan about how if I hugged him, and he hugged Conan, it was like I was hugging Conan. Then Conan said that the three of us should hug...and then we did. I hugged Conan! Awesome :-)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

In Manhattan

I'm on vacation in Manhattan right now. If you want to follow my trip, you should read my reviews on Yelp (in order as they tell a story, starting with Chelsea Hostel). I'm eating and drinking my way through Manhattan. Yesterday I met a group of Brazilians on the subway and hung out with them. The highlight of the night was the couple having sex in Carne Vale in front of everyone. He was seated in a booth, she was riding him, and it was pretty obvious they were having intercourse. Eventually they ran off to the bathroom to finish up...I imagine they couldn't finish the way they were because they were constrained by having to be "discreet." was like the carnage at a car accident that you know you shouldn't look at, but you just have to.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Lock Combination

I found a lock in a drawer that I used in for a locker in junior high and high school. I had another lock with a tag on it with the combo, but the tag had gone missing on this one. I tried a few combos with no luck, but I left the lock out where I would see it every day. Every couple of days some numbers would jump into my mind and I'd try them. After about a month, I got the right combination. I think that's pretty cool :)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

In a car...

I'm on I-90/39 in Wisconsin in between corn fields, using my carpool friend Mark's Sprint phone to connect to the Internet. I'm getting over 1.1 MBit/sec down and 90 KBit/sec up. In a car. In the middle of nowhere. I can't believe how good this is, especially compared to my T-Mobile Dash with dial-up quality EDGE. And his data plan is $15/month, compared to my $30/month. Weak, T-Mobile, weak.

Speed test

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Car facts

I turned in my leased car on Monday (after a scare where I thought it was stolen but really the city towed it and lost the record of it having been towed, but the cops suggested additional places to look after filing the police report...long story). In it, I kept a log of every tank of gas. Anal retentive, I know. I got it from my Grandpa Coe; on cross country car trip vacations, he would keep a log and compute his mileage—using a slide rule, I should add. For whatever reason, I decided to keep a log with my first new car. Anyway, 4 years, 101 tanks and 27,547 miles later, I am no longer a car owner. I decided to type the odometer readings and fuel volumes into Excel and run some statistics.

  • 2003 Honda Civic LX Coupe with a 5-speed manual transmission.
  • Year 1: 11,873 miles, 38 tanks of gas, 355.62 gallons, 32.30 mpg average.
  • Year 2: 9,364 miles, 37 tanks of gas, 291.30 gallons, 31.62 mpg average.
  • Year 3: 2,766 miles, 13 tanks of gas, 95.46 gallons, 30.30 mpg average.
  • Year 4: 3,544 miles, 13 tanks of gas, 113.24 gallons, 32.82 mpg average.
  • Overall mileage: 31.90 mpg average, 41.20 max, 23.79 min, 4.02 standard deviation.
  • Total fuel consumption: 855.62 gallons (which weighs 5,016 lbs).
  • Longest distance on one tank: 387.00 miles on 10.55 gallons for 36.68 mpg.
  • Graph of miles driven year over year.
  • Graph of mileage of every tank of gas.

I wonder what my Grandpa would say. I bet he'd smile, chuckle and be pretty darn impressed with what Excel could do.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Home VoIP Phone Setup

I recently discovered how to get a "free" home phone line.

  • Sign up for GrandCentral. This will get you a free real phone number in the area code of your choice that you can forward wherever you want. Right now my GrandCentral phone number forwards to my cell phone, my office line and my Gizmo account (see the next bullet); when someone calls it, all the phones ring, and I can answer at whichever line makes the most sense. (GrandCentral has a bunch of other cool features, like per-incoming-caller routing, call screening, unified voicemail...check it out.)
  • Sign up for Gizmo, a SIP-based IP telephony service. Gizmo lets you make PC-to-PC calls for free, like so many other instant messaging clients (Messenger, Google Talk, etc). You can also make PC-to-phone calls for $0.019/minute, and you can also buy an incoming phone number from Gizmo...but GrandCentral gave us that for free!
  • Configure your GrandCentral number to forward to your Gizmo account. At this point, incoming phone calls to your GrandCentral number will ring the Gizmo softphone on your PC.
  • Since Gizmo is based on SIP, an open standard, the options for where to go next are wide open. I don't want to be tied to a computer (I want a "home phone"), so I ordered a SIP-based IP phone, the GrandStream BudgeTone 200. If you have an existing analog phone investment (I gave/threw all mine away over the past few years), you could configure an Analong Telephone Adapter (ATA) and plug in your phone or fax. Other devices: Zoom 5801, Linksys PAP2, and many, many more. You could install Asterisk, a free PBX system, or Exchange Unified Messaging. Relying on an open standard makes me feel better than being tied to a proprietary provider, like Skype.

The IP phone I ordered should arrive on Monday. I've been using this setup with a headset plugged into my PC, and I've been happy with the call quality, as have the people I've talked to (especially compared to the crappy cell phone reception I get at home). What I'm not happy about is being dependent on a PC; I'd much rather have a standalone know, a telephone!

Nothing's really "free," either. If you want to make outgoing calls, you have to pay. Well, maybe not...during the GrandCentral beta period, "click2call" is free. You initiate a call on the web site and it rings your phone; when you pick up, it rings the other party's phone. So—for now—you can even make outgoing calls for free if you're willing to jump through a few hoops!

I called AT&T recently to get a quote on a land line. The cheapest I could find was around $8 or $9/month, plus taxes and fees (like 911 service), bringing the bottom line to around $15/month. Compare that to 500 minutes of usage on Gizmo for $10 with no maintenance fees.

I'll have more to report when I get the phone up and running on Monday. For now, I'm excited about a workaround for the crappy cell phone coverage at home for a bare minimum cost (oh, right, the hardware investment...but that's a "gadget," so it's fun and justifiable).

Sunday, July 15, 2007


On July 3rd, I filled up my car's gas tank with 10-point-something gallons. That was the first time since April 28th that I filled up...66 days later. Hence the reason I am getting rid of my car next month. Also, it's the reason that I'm okay with high gas prices. High gas prices means the market will finally demand more fuel efficient automobiles, which will in turn be good for the environment and national security. My apologies to my gas guzzling suburban friends :)

T-Mobile Dash Home Screen

After upgrading to WM6 on my Dash, I noticed that every time I rebooted, the home screen reset to the T-Mobile Home screen (I prefer the Windows Mobile Default). To fix it, open File Explorer, navigate to \Windows\StartUp, cut MyMsgCenter.lnk, and paste it into \Temp. (You can't delete it directly.) Reboot. Source.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I was googling a random song lyric and came across this blog post, which led me to this.

He that knows not,
    and knows not that he knows not
        is a fool.
            Shun him

He that knows not,
    and knows  that he knows not
        is a pupil.
            Teach him.

He that knows,
    and knows not that he knows
        is asleep
            Wake him.

He that knows,
    and knows that he knows
        is a teacher.
            Follow him.

            (Arabic proverb)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Solved! Syncing OneNote Mobile

I repaired my Office 2007 installation, rebooted, deleted the partnership on the PC, plugged in my device and it was an option from the get-go. Yay! I can type a shopping list on my PC and take it to the store with me again :)

OneNote Mobile

See the original problem post.

Vista Elevated Command Prompt

Registry hack to let you right click on any directory and open an administrator command prompt. Pretty cool trick. I added /T:4f to the command line to give it a nice, clear administrator designation (red background). My reg file looks like this:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

@="Administrator Command Prompt here"

@="cmd.exe /T:4f /k \"pushd %L && title Command Prompt\""

@="Administrator Command Prompt here"

@="cmd.exe /T:4f /k \"pushd %L && title Command Prompt\""

Does anyone know a command line to elevate me? I mean...if I start a regular non-admin cmd.exe and I want to elevate at some point, is there an easy way?

Monday, June 18, 2007


Sometimes people seem to prefer feeling powerless and believing that there is nothing they can do to affect a situation. That belief helps them avoid feeling responsible or guilty about inaction. It also avoids the cost of trying to change the situation—making an effort and risking failure, which might cause the person embarrassment. But while this feeling is understandable, it does not affect the reality of what the person might accomplish by effective negotiation. It is a self-defeating and self-fulfilling attitude.

-Getting to Yes, Second Edition, pp178-179.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Help! Syncing OneNote Mobile

No OneNote Mobile

Ever since installing Vista, I haven't had any luck syncing OneNote Mobile 2007 on my WM6 Dash with my Vista x64 installation. Any ideas, anyone? I've tried the usual steps of recreating the partnership and un- and re-installing OneNote Mobile on the Dash. OneNote Mobile works on the device just fine, it just isn't an option to sync.


Monday, June 11, 2007

No hot water

Yeah, not fun. Apparently a plumber came out yesterday and wasn't going to be able to get the part he needed until today. So this morning I got up with the first alarm (normally I snooze for a while), filled up a stockpot with water and put it on the stove...and then I snoozed while it heated. It's amazing how thorough of a shower I had with maybe two gallons of water, stingily wetting myself with a washcloth and rinsing with a few cup-fulls of water. It made me wonder how much water I use during my normal routine, and how wasteful that is by comparison.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tom Hollander article

Tom Hollander has a good post on the success of software projects.

Each project is governed by the "iron triangle" of scope, schedule and resources. ... The thing I am trying to understand is why we (meaning both the development teams and the business groups) insist on playing this game by pretending it can all be done. ... The business can blame the development teams for failing to meet the agreed deadlines or requirements. The development teams can blame the business that the initial requirements were not detailed or accurate enough. Everyone walks away vindicated that it wasn't their fault that the project failed.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Upgrading the Dash to Windows Mobile 6

I upgraded my Dash to Windows Mobile 6 earlier in the week. It's prettier, sounds better, and they've fixed a lot of little things to streamline messaging and calendaring, etc, reducing some nuisance. But by far the biggest "WOW factor" is the Voice Command application. I can ask my phone, "What is my calendar today?" and it will read it back to me. It will announce the name of incoming calls (over the speakerphone or bluetooth headset, configurable), read the header of an incoming message, I can ask it to dial a phone number, call a contact, play an artist or album in Media Player, read me the list of available artists, read me my missed calls, my battery level, my signal strength, start any name a few features. All of this with no voice training; the speech to text is solid. It successfully knows that when I say (phonetically), "yahn why-check" that it should load "Jan Wasiek." Now, I admit this won't be a huge deal in my daily routine, but next time I'm driving and an email or text comes in, I won't take my eyes off the road to see what it is; my phone will whisper it into my ear.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Relay

I just got back from running The Relay out in California. It's an intense, sleepless, 199-mile, 12-person relay race over about 36 hours from Calistoga to Santa Cruz. Everybody runs three legs (well, sometimes some people run extra legs) of about 5 to 7 miles each. At the end of the race, I was talking to a couple of other runners. They had both run marathons in the past and they were talking about how this race requires a whole different kind of endurance. Funny stuff. I know that I could not go out and run a marathon tomorrow (maybe next year?), but it made me smile to hear a marathoner talk about how challenging this race is.

Overall, I had a blast. I was there with great people, and the constant activity meant we never had a chance to get bored or annoyed with each other :) I plan on doing this again next year!

Here are my pictures from the event. To give you an idea of how intense this was, here's a timeline from when I woke up on Friday morning to when I went to bed on Monday morning.

Friday 6:00am CDT, Wake.
7:00, Out the door to ORD.
12:15pm PDT, Arrive at SFO, pick up vans, head north to Napa.
3:00, Arrive in Napa, eat dinner, buy groceries.
8:00, Team meeting, plan directions for the next day.
9:30, In bed.

Saturday 5:20am, Wake.
6:00, On the road to the starting line in Calistoga.
8:00, Race starts, Zach runs leg 1.
8:20, Van gives Zach water at mile 2.
8:45, My leg (leg 2) starts.
9:05, Van gives me water at mile 2.
9:30, Jan runs an extra leg.
10:15, Ghost runner runs (in other words, we chill out and wait 45 minutes).
11:00, Sarah runs, we hand her water at 2 miles (this pattern continues).
11:45, Jan runs his second leg ("I came here to run, so I am going to run.")
12:30pm, Van exchange. Jan finishes his leg (6) and hands off to Adam to start off Van 2. We (Van 1) chill out at the exchange point, eat, lay in the sun, try to sleep.

6:00pm, Van exchange. Nellie from Van 2 hands off to Zach from Van 1, I run, Jan runs an extra leg, ghost runner, Sarah, Jan runs his assigned leg.
Sunday 12:30am, Van exchange. Jan hands to Adam on the south side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Jan just ran across the bridge at midnight under a full moon. He raved about it.
1:00, Van 1 arrives at our hotel in downtown San Francisco.
1:30, Everyone has showered and is asleep.

4:00, Everyone is awake.
4:30, Van 1 is on the road to the next van exchange.
5:30, Arrive at van exchange.
5:45, Nellie hands to Zach. Then I run (boy was I in pain; my legs felt like stilts and it took me 3 miles just to warm up). Ghost runner (Jan didn't run an extra leg...slacker), ghost runner, Sarah, Jan.
10:30, Van exchange.
11:15, Van 1 arrives in Santa Cruz, we have brunch (so good and necessary) and then go to the beach to wait for van 2. I fall asleep on a bench on the boardwalk. The water is freezing, but feels really really good on my sore feet.
3:15pm, Van 2 arrives in Santa Cruz.
3:45, Nellie and the group crosses the finish line.
4:15, Both vans are back on the road to SFO.
5:15, I'm checked into my flight at SFO, but am too early to check my bag. So I take the tram to the International terminal where there is a food court and I open a beer. I'm too tired to read, so I send some emails and texts from my phone to pass the time.
7:30, I'm through security. I chill out with another beer and some sushi. Still too tired to read. Try talking to a girl who is also alone with a drink and get shot down.
10:45, Board flight, fall asleep before we even leave the gate.

5:15am CDT, Arrive ORD. Get bags, struggle to stay awake on the L so I don't miss my stop. I definitely fell asleep on the bus that I transfered to, but wasn't worried because I was going to the second-to-last stop.
7:15, At home. Take a shower.
8:00, Asleep.
11:00, Alarm goes off, snooze until..
11:45, Hobble out of bed, run errands, sort through my pictures, go about my day.
9:30pm, Asleep.

Monday, April 30, 2007

WM6 on T-Mobile Dash - Coming soon

Rumor has it the final version of the Windows Mobile 6 upgrade for the T-Mobile Dash has been leaked, and is to be officially released this Friday, May 4th. I'm so stoked! Story.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Dark Knight, cont'd

Video I shot this morning from my phone of the Joker's henchman jumping out of a truck and storming into the bank, guns drawn. I spotted Christopher Nolan, the director.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Dark Knight

The next installment of the Batman franchise, The Dark Knight, is currently being shot across the street from my office. They've re-purposed the old Post Office building at Van Buren and Canal as Gotham National Bank. I'll try and sneak some pictures today and upload them to my Flickr account...word is their security shoos away people with cameras. Story about the filming.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Office Accounting 2007 - First Look

In October, 2005, I tried Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006 and wrote it off after two minutes because of its lack of realistic account hierarchy support.

Today I tried the new version, Office Accounting Professional 2007. My first impression: there is no longer an artificial account hierarchy depth limit! Yay! My second impression: there are a ton of new concepts that I need to learn in order to use it as a basic ledger for my personal finances. I've set up a sandbox chart of accounts to play around with for the time being. What's confusing me now is that there are multiple ways to enter transactions, and they all seem to have different meanings and show up on reports differently. I'll keep playing...maybe I'll even RTFM. The user experience seems quite nice, so I think it will be worth investing some time to learn.

In related news, Quick Books Free Edition only supports one level of account hierarchies. GnuCash has released version 2.1.0 (Unstable) for Windows, their first non-alpha Windows release. I've been using GnuCash on my Linux box for about five years now. Unfortunately, I'm stuck with version 1.8.11 because my Linux distro is so far out of date the required packages for the new version can't (easily) be obtained—and I'm not willing to invest any more time in Linux at this point in my life (it's just too undocumented and takes too much time to figure anything out). Once the .msi gets posted (currently just source is online), I plan to try it out. GnuCash is the last real vestige holding me to Linux....

Thursday, April 05, 2007

OPENXML and sp_xml_preparedocument with Namespaces

Posting this for mainly my reference, as the SQL Server documentation is a bit slim. When your XML has namespaces, sp_xml_preparedocument and OPENXML have to be used differently. The bold text below highlights the gotchas.

DECLARE @Errors nvarchar(2000)
SET @Errors = '<Errors xmlns:xsi="" xmlns:xsd="">
  <Error xmlns="">
  <Error xmlns="">

SELECT @Errors

DECLARE @x_handle int
exec sp_xml_preparedocument @x_handle OUTPUT, @Errors, '<root xmlns:x=""/>'

FROM OPENXML(@x_handle, '/Errors/x:Error', 2)
 WITH (UniqueName nvarchar(50) 'x:UniqueName', Warning nvarchar(5) 'x:Warning') XmlErrors

exec sp_xml_removedocument @x_handle

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Coding is fun

We're entering the Build phase of our project here...I just wrote out a truth table on a scrap of paper. Finally, a little break from winword and back to devenv (and the new and improved sqlwb).

Monday, March 26, 2007


On Sunday morning, I ran the Shamrock Shuffle, an 8k (5 mile) race through the streets of Chicago. It was the first "competitive" run I've done since track in high school, and I only ran freshman and sophomore years. My finishing time was 47:28, which I'm happy with, as I was targeting ten-minute miles. The girl who won, Tera Moody, I ran with in high school. Small world. I kind of wish I had stuck around for the awards so I could have said hi.

After the race, I went home and showered. It was so nice out, I decided I had to get out and about. Made a few phone calls, ended up meeting a friend at Rock Bottom for some beers and a burger. While I was waiting for him to arrive, I ran into some guys I knew from college on the rooftop beer garden.

After eating, we took a walk North on Michigan Avenue, then ended up hanging out at Oak Street Beach to read and people watch. Then I decided to walk home, another 3 miles along the lake.

Came home, got a phone call from another friend in my neighborhood and hung out on his friend's deck while the sun set with a few beers.

Came back home, finished up the Vista installation, got a text from a buddy who wanted to meet for a beer. I looked at the clock, thought it would be better to go to bed, so I went and had a pint instead. We went to Galway Arms and I had a few Guinnesses.

Man, what a great Sunday. I probably ran and walked a total of ten miles. And I got a nice afternoon beer buzz. Beautiful. I made up for going to bed so early on Friday and Saturday preparing for waking up early for the race on Sunday. Everything's coming up Millhouse :)

Vista Media Center

On Saturday, I ran the Vista Upgrade Advisor on my Media Center box/HTPC. It told me that there were drivers for my TV tuner card! Exciting, since I had been watching the manufacturer's web site, and it still says "coming soon." So I gathered any other drivers and performed a clean install of Vista x64, and, oops, no TV Tuner drivers. Looked more closely and noticed that the Upgrade Advisor was only for x86. Dang. Sunday, rinse and repeat, this time with Vista x86. It all worked. TV is working again, both standard def and HD. Oddly enough, x86 seems to run better than x64. I have a hunch that something was running in WOW and bogging down performance. Anyway, I didn't have time to really play with it, only to verify that it "works." And to schedule some of my favorite shows to record.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Electron God

I said to a friend at work today, "We've spent the last few weeks designing some really cool algorithms, and I'm excited to start breathing some life into them." And then I thought... does that make me a God? Breathe life into something. On some very basic level, a lot of what I do is just manipulating electrons (at least the programming part of my job... not so much the interacting with people part). Yes, I decided, I am an Electron God.


Voicemail is so inefficient. I hope the visual voicemail feature of the iPhone makes its way into the marketplace-at-large.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


From Wikipedia:

Some species have much longer life cycles, e.g. the Magicicada goes through a 13- or even 17-year life cycle. These long life cycles are an adaptation to predators such as the cicada killer wasp and praying mantis, as a predator could not regularly fall into synchrony with the cicadas. 13 and 17 are prime numbers, so while a cicada with a 15-year life cycle could be preyed upon by a predator with a 3- or 5-year life cycle, the 13- and 17-year cycles allow them to stop the predators falling into step.

Nature is so cool. Go evolution!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"The manatee has become the mento!"

If you're not watching 30 Rock on NBC, you're missing out. It's smart, good comedy. Alec Baldwin is a brilliant straight man. Tracy Morgan is just plain hilarious. Tracy trying to say, "The mentee has become the mentor" came out as, "the manatee has become the mento!" Hilarious stuff, folks.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Event Viewer on Vista

Looks like the Event Viewer got a major overhaul on Vista. You can create views that filter on chosen criteria. I just created an "application errors" view, which only shows Error events from the Application log. Pretty cool!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mark Suppelsa

I guess it's a celebrity week for me. I was at Elephant & Castle last night. After a few rounds, I tried talking to this random girl. She told me she worked at Fox News and then I realized that the guy she was sitting next to was Mark Suppelsa. So I got a picture. She didn't like being included in the shot, so she quickly exited the frame. Too bad.

Mark Suppelsa and Me

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Leslie Hunt on American Idol

I was in choir in high school with Leslie Hunt, who's a finalist on this season's American Idol. It's a show I don't normally watch, but this season, I think I'll have to. This is about the closest I've ever been to knowing a celebrity. That makes me famous, too, right? :)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Windows Mobile 6 Standard

A photo tour of Windows Mobile 6 Standard Edition (Standard is the new name for Smartphone). What intrigues me most is that this is installed on an HTC S620/Excalibur, the OEM version of the T-Mobile Dash (evidenced by the Windows Update screenshot and the JOGGR settings). I wonder if I can upgrade my device!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Steve Jobs on DRM

Steve Jobs on DRM.

Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven't worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. ...

So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? ...

Convincing them to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Friday afternoon I left Chicago right after work to head out to Kingston for a get together with family. I was going to spend the night, so I had dropped a bag off at my car that morning so that I could make a quick getaway right after work.

I got to my car and really wanted to brush my teeth, so I fished out my toiletries bag and dug out my toothbrush and toothpaste. The toothpaste was frozen--I couldn't squeeze any of it out. So I capped it back up and packed up the bag. It was then that I noticed a patch of blood on the side of my right index finger. I hadn't felt a thing; my fingers were numb from the minute or two with my gloves off while I wrestled the toothpaste. When I reached into my bag, my razor lopped off a large chunk of skin. The wound was shallow, but it was a wide patch. The blood was a trickle, so I put the knuckle in my mouth and sucked the blood away. Once my finger warmed up, however, the blood started to really flow. It was challenging to keep the blood under control when I had to take the finger out of my mouth to shift the manual transmission of my car. I dug around looking for napkins or something to close up the wound. All I had was a clean sock that I had packed for the next morning.

And that is how I came to show up at my Aunt & Uncle's house with a bloody sock wrapped around my finger, asking if they had any bandages I could borrow. Three days later, the wound is still oozing; I wonder if it will scab up, and if it will leave a scar.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I just did my first grocery order with Peapod, and let me tell you folks, it was amazing. I picked a two hour delivery window, and when the guy showed up, I buzzed him in and he rolled a dolly loaded with my groceries right to my door. My fridge and pantry are now stocked for the first time in months. The first order took a bit of work roaming through the various online "aisles," but next time I can pull up a list of what I've purchased in the past and just set quantities. How awesome is that? Delivery charges are reasonable (and justifiable if it saves me from eating out one or two meals). The produce is very good quality. I'm hooked!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Push GMail on T-Mobile Dash

Here's how to set up push email for GMail on the T-Mobile Dash:

  • Log into and click "Set up my email". Set up your GMail account there and enable alerts for new mail.
  • On your Dash, open Messaging and add a new account. Use "Other (pop3/imap)" for the provider.
  • Follow the wizard. Use POP3, name the account GMail.
  • The pop3 server should be; require SSL. Use the username specified on the my-tmobile email page (under settings / mailbox / pop settings) (probably [yourphonenumber]:1) and your gmail password.
  • Use for the outgoing mail server. Require authentication, require SSL; specify alternate credentials as [username] and your gmail password.
  • On the Dash, Start / Set Up My E-Mail / Configure my E-Mail Triggers / Enable Automatic E-Mail Updates should be checked for the GMail account.

That should do it. There are two tricks: first is to use T-Mobile as the intermediary for incoming messages. They send a "silent SMS" which triggers the GMail account to send and receive. The second is to use GMail's own SMTP server so that outgoing messages get saved in your GMail account (T-Mobile's SMTP server doesn't push it back to GMail). No more polling through POP3, no more crappy Java applet, no more mobile web-based interface. Enjoy the bliss!

Edit: I should mention that there's an up to fifteen minute delay on the push. It looks like T-Mobile polls GMail over POP at about that interval and pushes updates to the Dash when they occur.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Comment Spam

My blog has been getting tons of comment spam lately. I moderate comments, so they never appear online (though there's a bug where not-visible comments still increase the counter on the main page), but still...every morning I get to log into the moderation page and click "delete all." Some of the stuff is the one with links to twenty different types of rape porn--no, seriously. Mostly it's for viagra, etc. There was a funny one today that started with "sorry for this post." These guys seem to know what they're doing, since the IPs seem to be random. I also employ the rel="nofollow" trick, so even if they made it online (which they won't), they wouldn't have the desired effect of increasing their page rank. Anyway, thought I'd share.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Where did I park?

I just whipped up a little javascript/Google map today to help me remember where I parked (I drove my car yesterday for the first time in 2.5 weeks). Click on the map to create a marker. The location is stored in a cookie in your web browser. Next time you visit the page, the map will center and zoom back on that point.

Where did I park?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

CableCARD for Vista

Screenshot of a Vista MCE error message at CES indicating CableCARD support.

Please, pretty please, let me put a CableCARD tuner in my computer. I promise to not try and break any DRM. I just want to have access to HD channels other than over the air.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

SideShow Remotes

I'm really excited about the SideShow Remote Control space. There are a few debuting at CES right now. I like the idea of being able to browse my music library on a remote and not having to turn on the TV. And over Bluetooth, no less, so that there are no line of sight issues like with IR. So cool. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Power of One

From The Power of One (385):

We had all cawed and moaned at the story, but Morrie, as usual, had made his point: good conversational debate is an end in itself, and talking for the love of conversation is what makes us human.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Encrypting sensitive data on my external hard drive

Quick bulleted list post of how I encrypt data on my external hard drive and usb thumb drive. The idea is that if I ever lose the drive, no sensitive client data would fall into the wrong hands. TrueCrypt creates a file that represents a drive. Think of it like mounting an ISO in Daemon Tools, except TrueCrypt is a writable removable storage device that encrypts and decrypts on the fly. Assuming the external hard drive mounts to G::

  • Unzip TrueCrypt to G:\programs\truecrypt42a
  • If you're running Vista or as a Non-Admin, install it onto your local machine once as an Admin.
  • Start it up, create a volume called G:\ (I'll leave this as an exercise to the reader)
  • Create G:\enctypted-mount.cmd
    @echo off
    "programs\truecrypt42a\Setup Files\TrueCrypt.exe" /v /lx /e /q /m rm
  • Create G:\enctypted-dismount.cmd
    @echo off
    "programs\truecrypt42a\Setup Files\TrueCrypt.exe" /dx /q

It's just a double-click to mount or unmount the encrypted volume stored in as my X:

TrueCrypt can also mount a encrypt a whole volume, but I chose to only encrypt sensitive data in a file like this so that I don't waste time encrypting my music collection. Also, it allows me to keep the TrueCrypt installer right there alongside the encrypted volume so that I can plug in, mount, and go, even without an Internet connection.

Have fun!