Wednesday, December 31, 2003
It is strange to think that it has been twenty-four days since I wrote something here. Especially when I consider how much has happened. I expect that I will need to add to these bullets, but here is the quick summation:
- Got the new PC built and running - what a pleasure to drive!
- My office is getting in really good shape - I know that there are many of us computer types that get a bit disorganized in the physical world. I'm trying to fix that to some extent and have made some real progress toward that goal.
- We had our 'annual' (second year) Christmas gathering - about 25% more people than last year and it went off without a hitch! My wife, Jesann, does a fabulous job of entertaining.
- Had a great Christmas season - I tried to get a media player (HP ew5000) for myself, but it wouldn't power up and Fry's didn't have a replacement. I will probably get a different one eventually.
- Portland finally got a good snowing on - Jesann and I even made a great snowman on the field of a nearby high school.
- Only five days 'till Winter Term begins - now to just finish organizing my office and computers; Will I have time to repave the notebook and server?
Nearly every one of these bullets deserve their own entry. I will get working on that over the next few days.
Sunday, December 7, 2003
Well, sure enough, more was wrong with my PC than just the video card. Maybe the card caused problems with the MoBo, too. In any event, I'm finally getting around to putting all the parts together that I've had and building a new PC.
In and of itself, that's some cool news... I've been looking forward to doing this. On the other hand, I wasn't thinking that FINALS week would be the best time to do it. Oh well; Always good to challenge oneself, isn't it?
When I'm done, I'll have a lot of space to breathe. I'm dropping a total of 640GB of hard drives and 1.5GB of memory into this thing. I plan to mirror 560GB of the hard drives so end up with a 'mere' 360GB of usable drive. In any event, I'll have a million times the drive space as my original Apple II had (I had two floppies) and something like thirty-four thousand times the memory.
Now it's time to get to work.
Friday, December 5, 2003
Over a month ago, I was going on about the wonder of having multiple monitors. Today before I took off to class, my computer suddenly shut down. I finally got it back up for a few moments before it stopped again and this time I could smell something emanating from the box.
Turns out that the fan had stopped spinning on my main video card. For tonight at least, I'm on a single monitor. It is very frustrating when one is used to having a lot more screen real estate. I just hope that I"ll be able to get one tomorrow and have it up and running by tomorrow night.
There is a good chance that if you read this, you've come across Scott's blog before. Last night he and Jim Blizzard (aka "Microsoft") put on a great presentation of Longhorn at the PADNUG (Portland Area Dot Net User Group).
I've had a chance to read a great deal about Avalon and WinFS, but last night's demonstration really brought it home for me. And seeing <transform> being used to easily rotate and scale a portion (or all) of a form was dazzling. What is currently a challenging task becomes one line of code.
I've also become enamored with the search folders in Outlook2003. To see similar functionality provided in WinFS for the entire hard drive's contents was impressive.
Tonight, I had my regularly scheduled Scottification in our C# class at OIT. It was a chance for some code review and it truly held my interest.
Unfortunately, I scurried out quickly to come home and tend to my sick baby. Computer that is. Turns out that I had a bad fan on my main video card. I am know using just ONE monitor and I am going slightly MAD. But that's an other blog.
Wednesday, December 3, 2003
There is recent discussion from Sean "Early" Campbell regarding the Gateway version of this product category.
This is a gadget that I'm trying to get sooner than later. When I described it to my wife, she even had an interest and gave a tentative 'go ahead' to the purchase.
In short, these things are a component for the entertainment system that will hook to your wired or wireless network. They are then able to access media collections (MP3, WMA, JPG, MPEG, etc.) from one or more PCs on the network. What formats are played depends on the particular device.
I've looked at more than half a dozen versions from Gateway, SMC, Creative Labs, HP, Prismiq, Linksys, and others. So far, I eliminated the Linksys and HP options for various reasons. The Gateway is still in the running, but the Prismiq seems to have the most going for it. I am hoping to see it in person to check out its features. Gateway is the only one that I've been able to see demoed (at the Gateway store, of course).
As easy as it is to get content onto the computer now and the likelihood that more will be there due to online music ordering, a device like this just makes sense. I'm not too concerned with the ability to play video, though; I figure that by the time I have a substantial amount of interesting video on my PC, there will be newer and better versions of these products on the market.
We'll have to see what Santa has in store this year!
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
I got one of those "Special" coupons in the mail for being a "member" at B & N recently. Now, I know that the additional 15% this provides over my regular member discount just brings the price of a book into line with what I would pay at bn.com or amazon.com, but there is the whole immediate gratification aspect of it.
Unfortunately, there wasn't anything compelling to purchase this evening. I will probably return and buy something before the coupon expires, but it's still a let down.
On the other hand, it felt like a third place this evening. First, my wife went with me this evening. Of course, she was able to find a couple of books to get, but nothing worth using my precious coupon on.
Second, Matt was working; I took a Calculus class with Matt and we ended up working on a team project together. He's always helpful and it was good to see him.
Third, I ran into my neighbor, Nathan. That was perfect since I wanted to talk to him about coming to our Christmas party and he had some questions about InFocus projectors. He is looking for some references on building database driven web applications.
Finally, I saw Austin from my C# class. We had a chance to chat over our final project and some general C# and .NET highlights. Many that are blog readers would know our instructor Scott Hanselman from his bloggings.
So, what this all ends up as is: despite not finding what I was after, I had a great evening at B&N. Once in a while, I suppose that we need to vary our 'third place' a bit. But I won't be giving up my usual anytime soon: Nonna Emilia Ristoranté
Friday, November 21, 2003
I had one of those moments of being pulled back a quarter century in life by a post form Peter Provost. Apparently, Brookstone is now selling an "EcoSphere" - Folks, it's more or less a sealed Sea Monkey tank. I can't believe that one could sell these for $65.
I suppose the nostalgia makes up some of the value, though. You can still buy the 'original' Sea Monkey gear at http://www.sea-monkeys.com/ (and I'm sure in the back of many magazines). Just in case you can't afford the Brookstone version.
Monday, November 17, 2003
Richard Tallent mentions the pleasure of using a 'PVR' for your viewing pleasure. I have to agree 100% with him.
We finally moved to satellite (Dish) this year and I popped for the PVR option. It has changed the way we watch TV. My wife, who is not the gadget-head that I am, even loves it.
I here some people say that they don't watch all that much television. I think those people will appreciate the device even more. Imagine that the occasions that you do choose to sit down and watch the telly, you get to watch your favorite programming. No more surfing all 200+ channels to find that there is nothing on.
and don't get me started on commercial skipping!
If you don't have a PVR, you won't understand the difference it makes to your viewing habits.
A couple of people have already asked for more information about the Kitty Litter Cake I made. Steve Bass, a columnist for PC World mentioned it in his weekly newsletter, "Home Office". It was just too compelling and I had to whip one up as a surprise for my wife.
She loved it.
Therefore, I shall now link to a picture of one (Bass', not ours) and to the recipe, also. I wish you well in your own endeavor !
Saturday, November 15, 2003
I read this blog from Chris Sells some time ago, but I can't get it out of my head: With digital distribution of movies to theaters, we could also make them available to home viewers, too. Probably not going to be as cheap as current PPVs, but for those of us that prefer the home theater to the public theater, it could be well worth it.
Love Movies; Hate Theaters; Windows, Take Me Away!
Have you ever wanted to find that certain special thing to say to someone? Ever here something and said to yourself "Wish I'd Said That"? Well, here is the site for you...
I first saw these slick little CSS menus back in August. Since I have started using dasBlog, I want to recapture the links here.
Easiest to reach: Mini-Tabs Shapes
Vertical version: Sun Report
Original version (?): Simplebits
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Boy did Mark get me reminiscing. As I blogged on Chis Anderson's entry:
Oh yes. I remember the Apple ][. I remember going to "The Computer Store" in Eugene, Oregon - I was probably 14 or 15 years old - to select the system.
I got the computer itself, two floppy drives (big bucks), the SilentWrite (I think) thermal printer, and a word processing program. All for around $3,200. Have we come a long way or what?
This thing had a whole 48K of memory! And you must note that there was no hard drive. Back then, those things cost more than the comptuer for just five or ten megabytes of storage. There was no way for me to get one of those.
Also, I opted to use an old color TV for my monitor. Not the greatest picture, but at least it wasn't that green letter stuff. It's probably because of that experience that I can stand to look at 1600 x 1200 on my 19" monitor.
I did learn how to program in AppleBasic, but I really started having fun in the assembly language (was that a 6502 processor?). I made a little program that allowed me to program a course for a spaceship to follow. It worked much like the old Big Trak (here, also) truck: go forward '5', turn 'left', go forward '3', etc. This provided an early exposure to algorithms (not that I knew that at the time) in the way the image was painted on screen. The 'second' row in the video memory was like the seventh row on screen. Then, once you reached the bottom, the second screen row was painted. I don't remember the details, but it took a while to figure out how to move one pixel up or down from any spot on screen.
This 'addiction' that I was fulfilling started at my junior high school, though. We had the OTIS terminals (Oregon Technology something or other) that provided a select group of nerds access to an amazing new world. These were paper feed terminals - not those cool green CRTs. There were games and the ability to program. We tore apart the code to the games and learned how to rewrite them for added features.
Of course, the school got the cool new Commodore Pets and had a computer class the year I went to high school. I doubt that I would have learned as much in a class, though.
After ninth grade, I decided to take a class at the community college titled: Structured Programming in Basic. That is where I became enamored with the TRaSh-80s and their wonderful cassette tape storage system. I knew that I wanted to be a programmer at that point.
Unfortunately, when I reached college age, I went astray and tried my hand at 'business' studies. Here I am twenty years later, back in the fold and trying to recapture my youthful knowledge.
Most of that knowledge that I gained in youth left me in the intervening years. The last three years of school (Software Engineering) have only had scattered moments of recollection to those days. It sure is fun, though!
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Bless the stars for governement holidays. Thanks to there being no school last evening, I was finally able to attend the Portland Nerd Dinner at the Lloyd Center. I knew that this would be a fun time, but boy, was I ever pleased.
For those of you that just don't understand the appeal, let me try to explain: You're twelve. You love playing in your little league baseball team. On this special day, you get to play and hang-out with your favorite Major League team. This is what it was like.
Now, I don't plan to go around all star-struck and such, but it was great to listen in to the Q&A in this group.
Thanks for the great time Jim, Chris, Rory, Kori, Richard, John, John, and Rick (including Janine (sp?) and Traci). I hope that I can make this a regular event.
And, BTW, when you visit Rory's entry on this, you will note that I was one of the Wiffle club people... I mean come on, I'm still in school for this stuff.
Monday, November 3, 2003
It finally happened. After months of keeping their distance form one and the other, our cats, Baby and Ninja finally were caught in a 'compromising' position.
It's great to see them finally getting close. Mind you, this picture didn't last too long. But it shows real progress!
Baby, our older cat, is sitting with Ninja, the younger one, lying in front of her.
Friday, October 31, 2003
I posted this link before I changed to dasBlog and wanted to repost because it is so cool.
I believe it was my sophmore year of high school that I took a typing class. I was pretty good at it and so was my friend Doug. Since we were always done early, the instructor would give us little picture drawing/typing projects (type 3 x 'i', then 5 x '-', etc.).
Well, that idea is back in a big way: Ascii Movies
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
What a pleasant surprise! I had heard that we MSDN subscribers would get a copy of the Longhorn and Whidbey distros from PDC, but the info suggested that it would be December before they were available.
I called in to place my order (per instructions at the PDC site) and they tell me it will probably arrive within two weeks! As if I need the distraction, but I am very excited.
I'm especially enthused to try out the Whidbey preview. That is where my heart truly lies.
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Thursday was the monthly meeting of the Portland Area .NET User Group (PADNUG). The speaker this month was Andrew Brust (his company site) talking about ADO.NET and XML.
Seeing as this is a subject relevant to my Señor project and I haven't fully explored the possibilities, I came right home and tried out some of the pieces that he demonstrated. Other than a small issue with Norton Internet Security telling me that I was being attacked from IP address 127.0.0.1, it all went off with out a serious hitch.
I am beginning to realize how much I would like to be using a Tablet PC at events such as this, though. There are only two months until Christmas - I wonder if Santa might win the $190 Million (Powerball) tonight?
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
All of a sudden, the blogsphere is bursting with the study showing how much more productive having multiple monitors is. I started using this over five years ago and can't imagine going back.
I have to agree with ScottH that nVidia's drivers seem to be especially good for this task.
I've had a 1600x1280 and an 1152x864 running for a long time. I just added a new LCD monitor for 1280x1024 and expect to add the smaller 1152 back into the mix after building up a new system.
In my setup, I will have the hi-res right in front of me, the LCD to the left and the lo-res above, center for 'monitoring' apps - IM, ActiveSync, Process Explorer, etc. Outlook 2003 is in front of me with browsers to the left. While developing, VS goes in front and extras on the left (Snippet Compiler, nUnit, debugging apps, etc.)
With the price of video cards as low as they are and monitors getting cheaper all the time (even the LCDs), it's time for you to give it a try.
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