Sunday, December 20, 2009

Imaging / Fixing my laptop

Two and a half months plus after my hard drive on my laptop failed, the ordeal is finally (mostly) over. I've recovered nearly all of my data, except for the 2-3 weeks right before the crash. I still haven't tried restoring my XP partition; despite the data on there, it's just not a challenge I'm ready to face yet. However, after much trial, tribulation, difficulty, despair, and delay, it's finally back to working condition. Through it, I learned some valuable lessons, so I'd like to share some of my experiences in the tiny hope that it might help someone else.

First, my solution is backup using Acronis TrueImage 11 and Windows Vista (also XP, although as mentioned, I haven't gotten to that yet). It seems to be a great solution; easy to set up and, once you know all the caveats, capable of restoring very effectively, so that even software like Microsoft Office, which can be somewhat temperamental with moving/cloning, works just fine. However, these caveats combined with my busy schedule meant that I spent more than two months without real access to my old data and with a pretty much unusable laptop.

By far the biggest caveat is to know what you're doing with drive letters. Specifically, Microsoft recommends to never change the drive letter of a Windows install, and I think they're right. Long story short(ish): you will need to make every attempt to restore to the same drive letter as the original, and even then you may still have to manually change the system drive letter. There might be an easier or faster way, but what I ended up doing (which worked for me) was: make a recovery partition (accidentally named C:), make a second recovery partition at D:, remove the C: label from the other recovery partition (and format that partition), format and the partition you want to restore onto, give that partition the C drive letter, restore to that partition (TrueImage should show in the restore process that you're restoring C: to C:), then boot into the restored Windows.

Once I booted, I discovered that the drive letters were still messed in the restored Windows. This led to me using a bit of a hack to get a command shell to come up without logging into windows, so that I could edit the registry (read: use regedit) to set the system drive letter. Basically, the idea was replacing the sticky keys executable with cmd.exe so that using sticky keys popped up a command prompt. If you can't figure out how to do this by Googling, leave a comment and I can probably point you to some helpful web resources. After getting the command prompt up, I launched regedit and changed the system drive letter back to C: (again, if you're having trouble figuring out how to set the system drive letter, leave a comment and I can point you there). Now, my system drive letter and the drive letter Windows was expecting were back in alignment, and things seemed to be mostly back. I could login, my old desktop and icons popped up, etc. Phew!

Another caveat: Validating Windows. Even though this Windows install was properly validated, and I restored to the same hardware (except for a large HD), my windows unvalidated itself and refused to validate online. A quick call to the telephone support line resolved this problem, although I had to go through the phone validation process with a live person, which was slightly tedious, but I was glad because it really wasn't too much hassle.

A final caveat: Windows update. You might have to reset Windows update. Windows update and the Windows Defender update process were giving me issues. I used the fix found here: , and now the updaters seem to be working again.

Now, the full story of how I figured this all out (if you're interested): I created a small partition to run the recovery from, then restored to a partition with a different drive letter than it had before (before, it was on the C drive). It appeared to boot just fine, but logging in gave a message like "personalizing your desktop" before going to a blank screen where it would hang for quite a while and then quite back to the login screen. I decided that the proper thing to do at this point would be to try and upgrade to Windows 7, in the hopes that it would replace enough of the broken stuff that I would have a fully functional computing machine. This then led me to an error message about having to have my users, windows, and something else on the same partition...which of course they were. That then led me to an internet search that led me to investigate my environment variables, which revealed a few of them were set to different drive letters.

I googled for a while about how to fix those variables, then, after having fixed them, I tried again...but still got the same error. This led me to the registry...where I discovered that a ton of stuff was hardcoded for drive C. I then (somewhat stupidly) decided to use a registry utility to attempt to automatically change every instance of C: to the new drive letter. It was pretty ridiculous. I finally got to the point where I could log in to a very broken windows, where I was able to launch the Windows 7 installer and get past the warnings about the data on different partitions. However, I got a message about having to uninstall my older version of McAfee first. Windows installer was unfortunately one of the things that was still broken, and after multiple attempts to fix the installer and a look at the effort it would take to manually uninstall (and coming to terms with the idea that installing Windows 7 would likely not fix everything that was broken), I finally came to the idea of creating another recovery partition. Previously, I wasn't able to use C: for the restored partition, because the recovery partition used that. However, creating and installing Vista on another recovery partition would allow me to delete the old one and use the C: drive letter for the restored data. That's finally what I ended up doing, as described above, and it seems to have worked successfully.

Was that longer than needed? Probably, yeah. But, I put a lot of time into figuring out the solution, so I figured I should get something out of it, even if it's just a boring long story on a blog.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

How to make private Blogger posts

Idea: just type and save a draft, then don't ever post it. Seems to function equivalently to a private post to me.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

YouTube Errors

If you're getting mysterious errors when trying to upload HD content to YouTube, check your file size. If it's over 1GB and you're using a mac, check out this page. They say this happens with 1-3GB of RAM, but my mac currently has 7GB, and I was still getting the errors, so take that as you will. It's kind of annoying not to have a progress bar, but hey, it works.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Winsxs folder getting huge? Running out of HD space?

UPDATE (9/11/09):
Never mind. This space re-disappeared within about a week. Bummer. On the plus side, I was able to use the Scanner app ( to locate some old iTunes and Safari installers in various temp folders.

Original (8/25/09):
Recently, I've been running low on HD space. Using Scanner, my HD-as-a-pie-chart-viewing tool of choice, I've often noticed just how much space my winsxs folder takes up. I've Googled it a number of times only to find that it isn't the kind of place you can just go and delete things. However, I decided to try it again, and fortunately, I stumbled upon this helpful post.

Using the vsp1cln.exe utility saved me almost a GB of HD space - extremely valuable. Of course, my winsxs folder is still huge, and it's only a matter of time until I run out of HD space again, but this just might be enough to get me through until my next computer.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

iPhone User Guide

If you're looking for a manual for the iPhone, one of the better resources I've found is the iPhone Users Guide. It's formatted specifically for iPhone, so if you try to view it on a computer, you will not get the same result. Punch in the URL on Safari on your iPhone, though, and you'll get a very helpful resource.

For whatever reason, I wasn't able to find this guide easily via Google...I had to go back and find it on my personal iPhone (where I have it bookmarked). I'm not exactly sure how I stumbled upon it in the first place, but I'm glad I saved the URL. The URL is:

Hope you find it helpful. It's definitely a good resource to link to for anyone you know who is new to the iPhone.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

iPhone jailbreaking - 3.0

Just a quick note...

hypothetically, if you're jailbreaking an iPhone 1st gen with firmware 3.0 (or 3.0.1), and you get stuck at the waiting for reboot step, unplugging then quickly plugging back in your iPhone might just solve the issue.

Hypothetically, that tip was posted as only helping PowerPC users, but hypothetically, it might also work with Intel macs as well.

Hypothetically :D.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Brain Teaser

Want to hurt your brain a bit?

OK, so how do you know when you've made a decision? When you've weighed the evidence enough to be confident proceeding? Well, you have to decide that...but how do you decide when you're ready to make a decision? I guess you have to decide... whether you've made a decision on making a decision. Etc.

So yeah. Decisions might seem a little unexplainable then.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Crazy? Idea for Sony

However commendable Sony's PS3 efforts have been, it's clear that public opinion does not regard them fondly (frankly, with the press they've gotten, I think it's a wonder that they've sold as many units as they have). The Wii is handily winning both at mindshare and marketshare.

What would it take to put Sony back at the top? I think something pretty dramatic, and here's my suggestion.

What does the Wii have going for it? It's control system. That's pretty much it. But here's the's all standardized. So what if...Sony added the ability to use Wii controllers with the PS3?

Suspend your disbelief here for a second, because I think this kind of action would really have some powerful impact.

There's plenty of people that have a Wii, and Wiimotes / nunchucks aren't exactly hard to come by. It would save Sony plenty of development effort and licensing, and it would be a huge dramatic impact. Admitting that people like this kind of control...and then enabling them to play games that don't look like a downs sufferer made anime (feel free to replace with your own insult). What if you could play games with both beautiful graphics and the controls you want?

All Sony would have to do to enable this functionality would be to write the driver and create a USB attachment to power the sensor bar - both are trivial. The only truly hard part would be to enable developers to easily use this functionality, but that shouldn't take more than a small number months, at the very most.

It'd absolutely shock the market. It could be a big win...and Sony doesn't exactly have a lot of good press they'd risk loosing.

The only potential concern would be whether it would interfere with Sony's own motion controller. I think the augmented reality sounds really cool, and wouldn't want to see that fall by the wayside, either. There's a potential that they'd have to sacrifice it, but I really think they could just use this as a stepping stone. When it comes time to roll it out, there's even a good story to make it compelling.

"Last fall, we were proud to add the ability to use Wii controllers to our system. It really changed the gaming landscape. Today, though, we are going to go beyond that. When we started the project to enable the Wii controllers, we knew those controllers were designed for what ultimately is a simpler system. And we're seeing that today - these controllers are putting limitations on the games that use them. The capabilities of the PS3 simply go well beyond what the Wii controllers are able to support. So today, we're excited to show you a product that improves our motion controlling to a level of accuracy and granularity that can truly take advantage of the power the PS3 has to offer. Introducing the Sony *cool marketing name here* controller."

Don't forget the really cool augmented reality demos.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Just something I found amusing:
Check out the platinum pass section. You get "Unlimited admission...including Knott’s Berry Farm..." and also "Discount admission to Knott’s Berry Farm ($35.95 ages 12-61..."

Simple copy/paste error? Yeah, probably. Maybe I'm easily amused.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Delayed Commentary

Well, I'm very hesitant to post this at all, as it may be feeding the troll, or at least someone who's clearly interested in drawing traffic. So, I'll try to keep it short.

Here's the post; comments were disabled, or I'd have commented directly:

I know, nice of him to leave a comment on my original blog post first, amiright? Oh wait...well, maybe he's more interested in being right than setting people straight. Actually, that sounds more like the people that disagree with him (like Jimbo) than him.

Anyway, he totally missed the point here and on his original post. Wikia search was *never* about indexing. In fact, it was the exact opposite. Wikia search was about getting *away* from the mindset that computational indexing and ranking algorithms were the important part of search. BOSS gave them a base set of search results, but the social ranking algorithm was the important part. That was the innovation, and that's what SethF completely overlooked.

Of course, with Wikia Search gone, it's kind of a moot point, anyhow. That said, I'd love to see a similar project appear, especially once the economy gets better. It's clear that Google is doing some experimenting with user-rated search results, but it's not clear how much that impacts their rankings. I would be extremely surprised if the Google ratings have a significant effect.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Disk Utility Errors

Hi - thought I would write a quick note in case other people were having the same error. I'm not sure if this is a problem with just disk images or if it is true for normal (physical disk) partitions as well.

The error is that when you try to resize a partition to make it larger, you get the following message: "MediaKit reports partition (map) too small." Other posts online suggest that this can be due to certain types of other partitions on disks (such as NTFS) that OS X may have trouble resizing. In my case, however, the only partition on the disk image was an HFS+ (Mac OS X Extended) partition.

What ended up being the problem was that it was a GUID partition scheme. While I could increase the overall size of the disk image, I was not able to increase the size of the partition (leaving a bunch of empty, unpartitioned space at the end of the disk image). The solution I found was to reformat the disk image (WARNING: this WILL erase any data on the disk image) and partition it using an "Apple Partition Map" instead of the GUID Partition Map. Upon switching that, I was able to resize the HFS+ (Mac OS X Extended) partition.

This is kind of an odd error, because GUID is the partitioning scheme used to boot Intel Macs.

Hopefully this helps other people who may be having the same problem. To check what partitioning format your disk image uses, mount it, then open Disk Utility. Click the disk (not the partition), and look at the bottom of the window for "Partition Map Scheme." If it says GUID, and you're getting the error above when trying to resize partitions, that may just be the problem.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I put together an email of interesting observations from a 96 Taurus long-term review Motor Trend did. Fittingly for the market segment, they did a consumer-reports style poll of owners. Some interesting results; definitely not what I would have expected from my time spent win a Taurus. Anyway, figured I'd post it here since it's at least decently interesting:

"63.2 percent awarded the Taurus excellent marks for performance and 62.5 percent bestowed similarly high praise in response to our fun-to-drive question. "
"over two thirds of our respondents gave their Taurus excellent marks for handling "
"This is the most fun car I've driven in a long time. It handles extremely well, has adequate engine power and a great sound system...just wish it had less road noise."
"prime on the wish lists for future upgrades ... more interior room."
"Operating cost/mile 7.5¢"
"Braking, 60-0 mph, ft 137"
"I would buy another Ford
I would recommend the Taurus

What influenced you
To consider a Ford Taurus?
Looks/style 70.3%
Styling 44.1%
Huh? 70.3% of taurus buyers considered a taurus for the styling...but only 44.1% liked the styling?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


So, I'm at Adobe this summer after all. I'm still getting into the swing of things, figuring out my schedule, etc. It seems like I really do better on Eastern time; I'm just a lot more alert and ready for action in the morning. Anyway, this is going to be a quick post, and I'll probably be relatively busy this summer, so I probably won't be making any giant posts. However, the elevators in the Almaden building are probably the coolest ones I've seen. They light up which one you should wait next to right after you press a button, so no waiting on which one it'll be. You can press again to de-select a floor, too. Oh, and the door close button lights up when you press it. Not sure if it actually does anything; it never seems like door close buttons do, but at least this one pretends to.

Oh, and this morning, I accidentally went out an emergency exit. Apparently the stairs in the parking garage are emergency-only, and worse, they lock behind you. So the only way out is down. Once you hit the bottom, a motion detector sets off a speaker that says it's an emergency pathway, and to go back to the stairs and use the courtesy phone to call for instructions if it's not an emergency. Only problem is, there wasn't a phone. So...I exited anyway, and it set off an alarm, but fortunately, there was a nice security guard nearby. She really didn't seem as upset as I would have thought. I wonder if that's a common occurance. Definitely an exciting start to my morning. I thought about making that an FML, but the happy ending made me reconsider :D.

Monday, May 25, 2009


I probably shouldn't be sharing this...
but, today I repaired a sprinkler pipe that was broken under a root-probably one of the most difficult repairs I've made. Anyway, there were a number of mosquitos, and during the process, one actually managed to...bite me right in the testicle. Through my shorts and underwear, it bit me. It was really unpleasant; muddy hands don't do well for scratching somewhere that must remain clothed.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vegas! Railsconf 2009

I spent this past week in Las Vegas at Railsconf. It was a pretty great experience - there's so many gems (har har) and apis and potential I just have to get started using some of them. Vegas was really nice, also - it's a city that definitely grew on me. Some might say the glitz and glamor is tacky, but I really enjoyed the city. Part of it was probably that I spent most of the day in an interesting conference, bringing down expenses and keeping me from getting bored of the city. It's kind of astounding to me how much extravagance there is in the city. There's a lot to be said for Railsconf, but that's mostly intellectual, and I figured the vacation part would be the interesting part to talk about.

One of the really nice (and amusing) things about Vegas is the monorail system. For whatever reason, I just am not fond of bus systems - it may be that Toledo and Atlanta's bus systems aren't the nicest, and they're hard to work with (exact change, late arrivals, etc.) Whatever the reason, I much prefer subways, trains, and monorails. The monorail system had spiels that were full of bad jokes - we recorded many of them and hope to put them on a website soon.

We spent a lot of the first night taking the monorail around and just walking the strip, and we soon discovered that neither of us was decisive enough to make picking a restaurant easy. We ended up at Margaritaville, which became very un-Margarita-ville-like. It was basically a night club, although a cover band later changed the atmosphere away from hip-hop and more toward at least classic rock. We also discovered that in Vegas, they charge a *lot* for drinks (even soda), which would lead us to drink mostly water the rest of the week.

One weird thing at the conference is that there wasn't a vending machine, but rather a person stocking a vending area...and pop cost 1.75 more (3.75 vs $2) there.

I think the second night we spent in the middle of the strip, seeing things like the Bellagio fountains, and I think we ate at the MGM's cheaper Sushi place (Grand Wok). The second night we had to be in earlier, because the monorail closed early; we found out the hard way about the two days of early closings the first night, and we had to take a cab. The fountains are just as awesome as I remembered, and Cesar's palace and the Bellagio area are very posh.

The third night we spent on the far end (from the Hilton) of the strip. Exploring the strip was very interesting; even though we saw many of the casinos over the course of our explorations, there were still tons (and many parts of the ones we did visit) that we didn't get to see. It's just such an extensive downtown with *so many* large hotels.

The MGM in particular was one of my (and probably everyone's) favorites, because it's just so nice and extensive. That, and lions are just cool :D. We spent one night exploring mainly on that end of the strip, near many of the more famous hotels - the Excalibur, the Luxor, etc. We also rode the New York, New York roller coaster, "Roller Coaster" (better known as Manhattan Express). You can see more about that in my CF post. We also explored through the luxor, which I hadn't realized is actually internally connected to Mandalay Bay and the Excalibur. We were lucky enough to sneak on the elevator with some hotel guests - or should I say inclinator! The Luxor, being a pyramid, actually has elevators that go at an angle - it's a very strange sensation. Once you're up top, the views are really cool - you're basically looking down into the main lobby of the place. It's a very cool experience- highly recommended if you can catch people going on them, tailgate them, and act discrete (you need a room key to get on the elevator).

We headed back toward Mandalay Bay, and unfortunately missed the Burger Bar (it closed at 11), which was one my friend had highly recommended. We then had a similar problem to one we'd experienced at the hotel the first night - that Vegas's food closes way before the city does. Come 11PM, you're going to be hard pressed to find food that's open. Even the bars stop serving food early (we checked with a few that said they weren't serving food anymore). Also, the shark reef is unbelievably far back into Mandalay - we walked almost all the way there, and I jogged that last bit so Kevin wouldn't have to walk anymore. Along the way, we checked every restaurant, and found out about a weird policy - the restaurants make the hostesses wait until everyone is gone to leave. So, many restaurants appear open that aren't, because the hostess must wait around. We ended up getting food at Nathan's Famous (a fast food place that serves things like Cheesesteaks), which wasn't the most fancy food in Vegas. It was tasty, and reasonably cheap, though (and also open after midnight!).

The forth night we ended up staying in because of the keynotes, lightning sessions, and "Birds of a feather" talks. Fortunately, the hotel had a Hibachi place (Benihana's). That was definitely tasty, and we had good company, too - a couple of guys who worked with a firm that matches up companies with quality rebranders so they can put the value of their brand to use and be sure that they aren't damaging it with poor quality products. Really nice guys; they were in town for the national hardware conference (and they joked about there being hardware/software conferences in town at the same time). Apparently they travel a lot; they said they had more than 2 million frequent flier miles...but apparently when you have that many, you don't feel like using them! Also, they said that the insides of conference rooms really look the same anywhere. That night, we managed to find our way out to the pool and private balcony areas. They provided a cool view of Vegas, and were also weirdly silent at like midnight. You could see some hotels far from the strip that were still lit up; we later found out that this part of Vegas was the old downtown (we visited it the next day).

The last day of the conference (the fifth night), we went out and rode Speed and the rides at the Stratosphere tower (again, see CF post for more details) (important lesson: bring contacts or a glasses strap. I normally wear contacts, but I accidentally left them in GA). The view on the Stratosphere is truly gives a great overview of Vegas, and it also shows the old downtown. It's really very weird how much smaller things are in the old downtown. Then, we tried to get a steak dinner, where we learned another important lesson - you need to make reservations for good steak in Vegas. We tried to go to Circus Circus, but they were booked until late, and the same was true of the steak places in MGM. We ended up getting Shibuya (Sushi) at MGM.
That night, we went to see Ka (Cirque du Soleil), since they had a student discount. We had really good seats (6th row), and the performance was *awesome*. They took the spinning drummer idea of the newsboys and took it at least 5 steps farther - basically the entire stage was mobile and movable in 3 dimensions, and they could also project on to it. At one point the stage basically became a rotating climbing wall, which was really cool. It was a very cool experience. Also, they had a very extensive build-out on either side of the auditorium; the kinds of platforms you would expect to see in a video game. You can kind of tell in the pictures...when we got there, we were worried that most of the action would take place there, but it turns out that was only used a few times...but it was *still* huge and extravagant.

That night, we took a taxi down to the "Fremont Street Experience," which you can see in the photos and video. Vegas basically took their old downtown and made an LED-covered canopy over it. I'd love to know how they do their editing. Anyway, it's very fitting, as that was from the days when Vegas was know for all their flashing lights, neon, etc. It's very cool that they preserved some of the old area. Of course, one only needs to look at the Desert Inn to see that Vegas can still be as cold-hearted to their landmarks as many American cities, but at least they preserved many of them. It was very cool to me to see Binion's, as I had done a report that mentioned their million dollar display (the report was on Salmon P Chase). It's also odd to think how a sketchy, slightly criminal town could go so high-class. Also, apparently the carpet in Binion's is from the extra when they originally carpeted it, which is pretty awesome. Oh, and it's also really weird how much smaller things used to be! The old casinos are so much smaller than the new makes you wonder how they fit so many games in there (they probably didn't).
Oh, and the cab driver was very cool as well...he apparently had been in Vegas since the time when there wasn't much to do. His dad owned an RV shop and had worked on the bus for I think Mohammad Ali...who he thought was going to kill his dad when he called Ali's driver an n-word. Very cool stuff; he got to see Vegas in all its stages of growth. Oh, and apparently he said that the police and cabbies there have kind of a standing bad relationship, which I was kind of surprised about. Anyway, getting to see that old part of Vegas was definitely very cool, and I'm glad they preserved it.

I guess maybe part of good vacationing skills are that you don't get everything in, so that you don't get bored and still want to go back? Seems logical :D.

We summed up the experience as adventure and walking :D. I got a ton of walking done, and learned a new framework (that I'm starting to get excited about), and Kevin tried Sushi and Hibachi. It was a great time, and I'd definitely like to go back sometime.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Vans and Liars

Dear Honda,
your vans can never hope to live up to the greatness portrayed in your video. It says something about your product that you have to promote it by using images of success from competitors' products in a completely different market segment. It says something about you that you'd be willing to do it.

In reference to:

Monday, March 9, 2009

Twitter: the new RSS?

Is it just me, or is Twitter becoming the new RSS? I'm seeing a number of websites using it where it doesn't belong, essentially for RSS purposes - whenever there's an update on the site, they tweet. While that's kind of nice, I guess, because RSS never really caught on in the mainstream, you have to wonder if a centralized service like this is sustainable - after all, RSS is distributed. Also, I guess that points out some of the failings of RSS - namely that sites never promoted it as much as they could and it wasn't every made as easy as your general public would like.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Time Machine Miscalculation / Issues

So, although I do appreciate the many fine aspects of my Mac, there are nevertheless still some annoying things about it. Today I came across a particular problem affecting Time Machine. It seems that Time Machine, when initializing a new drive, requires at least 20% or so of additional free space. Makes sense. However, it doesn't require that later on - leading to weird behavior as described below.

So, OS X informed me that my drive was too small by like 900MB for the backup, and that I'd have to find a new drive for Time Machine. So, I deleted some files (more than 900MB), and tried to back up again. Still no dice. Figuring it was trying to do an incremental backup, I decided to wipe the drive so it would only have one snapshot on it. Doing that resulted in a serious issue - a drive that had started with more than 20% free space now only had like 5% or less (my backup and regular drive are the same size). So, long story short, I was now ever farther from ever getting Time Machine to play nice with my drive. I ended up having to move a bunch of files to an external disk, run Time Machine, then move them all back over after the new drive was initialized. That's a huge hassle, and I'm not sure what I would have done if I didn't have another drive I could put the files on in between.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Amazon stuff

So, we had Amazon come for an info session recently, and I thought I would make a note of something they said before I forgot it. It's not on Wikipedia, but an Info Session is hardly citeable, and I thought the information should be recorded.

Anyway, they said Oprah is the hardest thing to predict for them. Christmas, etc. they have a lot of past sales data that gives them good ideas of how they're going to act.

One example they specifically referenced was the Kindle. Apparently after the Kindle got a huge recommendation on her show, they saw a big spike - but were mostly ready for that. So, they were all happy that they'd survived and predicted it so they could handle it. Then, it turned out that that spike was from one small market that got the show live or early or something. Apparently when the show hit the rest of the nation, they were absolutely shocked at the increases, sold out for a long time, orders of magnitude low in their predictions, etc.
Actually, google / the internet seems to bear out that Oprah's recommendation was indeed a very important moment in the Kindle's history.

They had to keep saying they couldn't give exact numbers, which seems to be a definite trend, even where it seems meaningless. My friends who worked at Google act similarly - I wonder if that's like the new thing to do in big tech company corporate policy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

C errors

So the error
Undefined symbols:
"_main", referenced from:
start in crt1.10.5.o
ld: symbol(s) not found
collect2: ld returned 1 exit status
make: *** [additional] Error 1

is pretty hard to understand. The main takeaway: you need a main function. Basically, you either forgot to include a main function, or you forgot to compile this alongside another file that does have a main function.

Life's busy

Some metrics you can use to tell quite how busy I am:
-Number of items on my desktop (both laptop and desktop)
-Number of unread emails in my GT inbox
-How many times I've checked my gmail/hotmail/junk accounts
-Size of my physical to-do pile in my room
-Whether I have time to replenish my Krispy Kreme breakfast stash
-Number of items ordered for myself online

All of these numbers are already skewed toward the crazy busy end of the spectrum, and I have at least 3 weeks of business left.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wikia Search

Maybe Jimmy Wales just has a Reality Distortion Field as well, but I really think this Wikia search has the ability to beat Google in some key areas. I've already discovered a few searches that Wikia Search beats Google on, and I figured I'd write one down - dreamhost wiki. I needed to find their support wiki, and it wasn't even on Google's first page of results (although there were two sites with links to it), but it was Wikia Search's second result - behind Wikipedia, which I think is the "correct" way to order those results.

I encourage people to give it a shot - it's at least worth looking at and thinking about.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dreamhost Bonnano

In case anyone was wondering, Bonnano is a quad Xeon system running at 2Ghz. Pretty speedy, although I am sure there are probably many users on it. It also looks like it might have 16GB of RAM. (Bonnano is the server that I'm on).

Monday, February 16, 2009

iPhotoToGallery Unknown error: 1001

So, I recently hit the error in the title of this post, and it took me a while to figure out what was wrong. I'm using dreamhost, and apparently people have had other issues resulting in this error in the past. However, in my particular case, the problem was that the user I was trying to use to login didn't have access to the root gallery. Gallery Remote also didn't properly display an error here; I figured it out by trial and error on another gallery and with different users.

So, if you have this problem, make sure the user you're logging in as has access to the base gallery folder. To do this, login as an admin, then select edit permissions on your root folder (i.e. the one that you see when you first login). Add the ability to add sub-albums and sub-items to that user's persmissions, and you should be good to go.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

EyeTV issue + solution

If you've noticed that your live timeshifting in EyeTV is grayed out and it's saying "freeze frame" instead of pause when you pause the live TV feed, maybe this will help. I was having the same problem earlier today, and the problem was that I apparently accidentally disabled timeshifting in the device preferences. See this help article
to see a picture of where the setting is located.

Hopefully that helps if your timeshifting appears to be broken / no longer working / grayed out / otherwise disabled.

Friday, February 6, 2009

In between

Griffin support was once again amazing. Less than 3 minutes spent *total* to get another replacement shipped out. Also, no need to ship the old one back - maybe I'll use it for soldering or something. Very cool, though - I can't say I'm impressed with its reliability, but the service can't be beat.

The title refers to the fact that I have a lot of entires in the queue that may / may not be out soon.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I should be doing homework

But here I am, blogging.

If you're having trouble with the MacUpdate bundle, try putting a space in front of your name that you registered with. I know that's really unintuitive, but I spoke with Tech Support today and that's how my license was. I read of a few other people having problems with that, so hopefully this helps.

Over the weekend I got to drive a Pontiac Grand Prix. I think that my car (S2000) has probably significantly changed my perspective on cars, because now normal, reasonable cars seem like luxury automobiles to me. Their comfy seats, great visibility, and quietness are all very appreciated. One issue became apparent when driving this car that has also shown up in a number of other American cars, especially Pontiacs from the 90s and early 2000s. As such, I'm dubbing it the "Pontiac Problem," although it could definitely show up in other cars, particularly other GMs or other American cars. The problem is that you easily end up going faster than you intended.

A number of factors contribute to this.

First is the noise. GMs from this era tend to be very quiet, both in terms of road and engine noise. Especially to someone like me, used to driving a loud car, this cue that I'm going too fast is mostly gone. Comparatively, also, there isn't much more noise at say 90mph than at 60. Part of the reason for this is insulation and general attempts to make things quieter, and part of it is related to another factor, the long gearing.
Thanks to the torque present in the engine, many Pontiacs from this era have very high gears to maximize gas milage and make for a much more refined drive. Thus, the engine doesn't revolve as high at high speeds. Again, this may mean that the difference between 60 and 90, 50%, may only be, say, 800 rpm. In may cars this would be far more, but trying to detect the difference between 1600rpm and 2400rpm in a car that we already established had a rather quiet exhaust can be quite hard. As a side note, I'm really fond of the smooth and fast shifting transmission it had.
I mentioned torque, and that matters a significant amount also. Low-end torque allows you to accelerate well at low RPMs.

Technical note: Torque figures that manufacturers quote are technically one measurement, of peak torque. In general, what we (car people) mean when we say engines have a lot of torque is that they have a lot of torque across the power band, especially down low. That can make things confusing, as simply having a high peak torque number does not mean an engine has a lot of low end torque, although those numbers are *often* correlated.

This means that if you're not driving with cruise control, if your foot is just a bit too far down, you will be accelerating at a rate significantly more than in cars with less torquey engines. Note that it won't really sound different, other than the quicker increase in RPMs. As noted above, though, you're in the lower RPM range and in a quiet car.

Nice radios help too. Many Pontiac sedans from this era have nice sound systems. The upgraded version are pretty awesome, but even the base sound is a pretty good system. Turn on the radio, and already quiet cues are now overwhelmed.

The final cause I'll note here is a soft but solid suspension. This contributes to the quiet, and it also creates a general lack of bumpiness and roughness. In cars with stiffer suspensions, speed is more noticeable, as it makes bumps pronounced. For example, there is one road around Tech that makes it clear when I'm speeding as the bumps will get *very* noticeable. In a Grand Prix, however, the bumps may still get stronger, but they're still very subtle and dampened. Unless you're paying attention to it, you may miss this cue. Add to it that the suspension is still solid. Some cars with a soft suspension do not handle particularly well, which can makes excess speed noticeable in town, if not on the highway. However, Pontiacs seem to handle themselves surprisingly well given their rather soft (to me, anyway) suspensions, lessening this cue also.

You'll note that most of this "Pontiac Problem" comes from features that are beneficial. Maybe it's not a "problem" after all. I find it endearing :D. However, it is something to make note of, as I don't think police will accept this as an excuse.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Life and stuff

So after about 100 meetings (ok, 8 is probably an accurate estimate) taking place across an entire semester and the first week of this one, I think we've finally gotten a good situation with GTACM again. The college changed the rules for corporate interactions, but I think today finally got us back to a point where we can be creative and really do some of our cool ideas. It's happy and great :D.

In other news, I was reading an article and came upon this gem:
""Right now we're working on the first step of the activation of this receptor. Downstream, there are still lots of things to understand," said Li, who added that his favorite umami-containing food is lobster. "

Really? Haha I love that they included that. I wonder if I ever make news if they'll ask me what my favorite computer-containing device is.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saturday Night Improv

We went to see a show at Dad's Garage tonight - it was my first time being out there. "Bob Frapple's Psychiatry" - basically they had the audience ask questions, performed a completely unrelated skit, and had the "doctor" try to extract meaning to answer the question. I got picked to do a typical improv performers provide the dialog, audience members try to act out the scene type of sketch. It ended up with me being the boss trying to pick up a coworker during a fire drill. They supplied all of my dialog and I had to try to go along with it. The guy introduced me as "I'm Chris, I like ... science." which was pretty excellent. It was a great time all in all, and we might even go back sometime...maybe even for another one of this show. Dim Sum is coming up, too, which we tried to see in the fall but was sold out. We'll see, but either way, it was great fun.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Roomba lols

Our roomba fell down the stairs last night. It was pretty epic. The first time it fell only one stair, and I figured it was no big deal - their sensors are supposed to prevent them from falling, after all. The next time, though, apparently it got a bit too far over before the sensors realized, because I was sitting in my room and heard KATHUNKA THUNKA BAM BAM. I knew immediately what it was, and the Roomba soon chipped in with it's vaguely sad error/stuck tones. I literally laughed for about 60 seconds. Fortunately, it's still in operating order.

In other news, I flew back earlier today - I'm at Tech trying to be productive...hopefully that will go well.