Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Relationship Management

I'm taking some training for work right now, Delivery Management at Avanade Part 1, and we had a module this afternoon on customer relationship management. They showed some admittedly cool ways to visualize and track business relationships, but the idea of quantifying it in Visio and Excel didn't quite sit right with me. So when we were asked for "any final thoughts" on the last slide I chimed in:

"In this world of headcount and resources and FTEs, it's important to remember that people...are people first...and professionals second. I think you can do a lot to foster relationships by just being friends with people."

Throw your Excel Scorecard away, folks, and just answer this: Are you friends with your stakeholders? If your answer isn't Yes, then you have work to do.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Workout Routine

My proposed weekly workout cycle:

Day 1: Upper body.
Day 2: Legs.
Day 3: Core (or Pilates).
Day 4: Upper body.
Day 5: Cardio (swim/run/cycle).
Day 6: Yoga.
Day 7: Rest.

I'm pretty close to doing this now, but I haven't actually taken a yoga class yet. I think it would also be beneficial if I had a more strict routine. I'll revisit this cycle as The Relay (April 19) and the Chicago Triathlon (August 24) approach, shifting to more cardio and less strength training.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

TouchPal

I just discovered TouchPal, an on-screen keyboard for Windows Mobile optimized for fat-fingering. I'm pretty happy with my Mogul, but one of my biggest gripes is the delay when I slide out the hardware keyboard (and it switches from portrait to landscape mode), and the on-screen keyboard requires a stylus (or the corner of a fingernail). This little freeware utility has nice finger-sized buttons, predictive input and an easy way to be precise (tap on the big QW key and then slide right to pick W, or left to pick Q). If you share my gripes, check out this utility.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

DirecTV and Media Center

Engadget has a scoop on the DirecTV tuner for Media Center. The best news is that it doesn't appear to have the OEM certification restrictions like CableCard.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

FLAC to WMA Lossless Script

Requires Windows Media Encoders and FLAC.

foreach ( $file in dir *.flac )
{
	# Prep input and output filenames 
	$shortName = $file.Name.Substring(0, $file.Name.Length - $file.Extension.Length);
	$wav = $shortName + ".wav";
	$wma = $shortName + ".wma";
	
	# Decode FLAC to WAV
	& 'C:\Program Files (x86)\FLAC\flac.exe' -d $file.Name

	# Encode WAV to WMA Lossless
	cscript "C:\Program Files\Windows Media Components\Encoder\WMCmd.vbs" -input $wav -output $wma -a_codec WMA9LSL -a_mode 2

	# Cleanup
	del $wav;
}

Thursday, January 03, 2008

HD DVD and Blu Ray Combo Drive

Saw this at NewEgg for $299, a HD DVD and Blu Ray combo drive. I've never taken a side in the format war and I don't really want to. The correct solution is HD-video on demand over IP, but we all need more bandwidth for that.

What stinks about this drive and my media center box is that I need an HDCP-compliant video card and a processor upgrade (which would require a new motherboard and new RAM)—in other words, I would need a new system save for the case, the hard drives and the tuner cards. Maybe I should hold my breath for realistic CableCARD support, instead?

QAM, or, How I Overlooked HDTV on Basic Cable

I was looking at my cable bill today, which included a price list for all of their services. I noticed a section about HDTV and it said that HD broadcast channels were available with the bare minimum package that I had. I had been living with just basic cable (25 channels) since I cannot get over-the-air reception where I live (too dense with buildings).

So I plugged the cable into my HD tuner card in my PC, ran a channel scan on the OEM software that came with my FusionHDTV 5 tuner card, and lo and behold, I had HDTV. All the locals, coming in with perfect clarity at 720p. Unreal. How long have I been missing that?

Unfortunately, back in Vista Media Center, I cannot tune these unencrypted QAM channels, despite the fact that the card can actually tune them. Apparently another tuner does it (search his blog for QAM for more info), but it's an unreliable hack. If another card does it reliably, it is quite likely that I'll upgrade.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Yikes!

After the first drive in my old file server died, I made a backup of all of my photos...or so I had thought. But actually, I didn't get them all. For some reason NONE of my Africa pictures got backed up!! YIKES. I discovered this tonight when I wanted the original image for the header on this web site. I checked the original card in my camera, my external hard drive..., the copy I had made on the new file server...nothing. A few minutes later I remembered that I had at one time burned other copies: one I sent to my Dad so he could view a slideshow on his DVD player, and another that I kept for myself. Thankfully, I found my copy in my "box 'o pictures" and have recovered all of the photos...PHEW.

It goes to show you: even when you make a backup (or even when you have an implicit backup with a RAID), you could make a mistake and unknowingly miss something. Be proactive in making backups, ESPECIALLY with irreplaceable things like photographs.

I would have been a sad little boy if I had lost all of those pictures. Imagine how it would make you feel if you lost all of those digital photos you have of your kids/grandkids/friends/whatever. Consider even burning another copy and sending the CD/DVD to someone else.

(Now that this blog is online, I may devote some time to that Amazon S3 application I've been wanting to write for encrypted off-site backups.)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Back Online

Hi, everyone. I'm back online after a pretty catastrophic file server crash. I built a new file server (Quad Core Q6600 (2.4GHz x4), 4GB RAM, 3x500GB hard drives in RAID 5 for 1TB storage) and then wrote a new blog engine. There's more than meets the eye to this engine, as it supports an extensible typing system at its core (I'll be able to create a Restaurant Review type with extended properties for the name, the type of cuisine and a 0-5 star rating, for example) that is strongly typed, indexable and searchable, yet transparent to the data access layer. More on that later. It also supports tagging and nicely designed URLs (courtesy of Intelligentcia's URL Rewriter). I was able to recover about half of my existing blog posts from the Live Search API's cache and Google's Cache.

Some links have changed, yet I'm doing a 301 Moved Permanently for all legacy URLs, so you're probably reading this as a result of that. Regardless: RSS. Home page (unchanged). Feels good to be back! Stop by and check out the new layout, while you're at it.