Monthly Archives: November 2002

Black Friday

So I actually went shopping this morning, and it was the first time I’ve really been caught up in a holiday rush like that. Everything I could find said that Best Buy was going to open at ten, so I set my alarm for 9:30 and decided to go to the one on 59 to get a 75GB Western Digital hard drive and 256MB stick of memory for $50 (after rebate of course). On the way over on the radio I heard them say essentially that all of the sale items from Best Buy and Walmart and Circuit City were long gone. I felt my heart sink even more as I pulled into the parking lot and saw it packed, obviously it had been open for a while. Cursing my lack of experience in this matter, I decided to head in anyway. I made my way through the throngs to the back where the computer things were. A few words to a frazzled employee later and he led me to another area, where they had several of exactly what I needed. The friendly sales lady remarked they had plenty and I didn’t need to get up so early next time. I was suddenly conscious of my just-rolled-out-of-bed look, but appreciative at her ability to keep a sense of humor in such a busy situation. Then it got interesting.

Where it took mere moments to get the hard drive and memory, checking out was another manner. They had the store roped off so half of the store was actually a checkout line. It was probably only about a twenty minute wait, so I’m not one to complain judging by some of the shopping war stories I’ve heard. Still, it was not what I was accustomed to. Overall I’m very happy with the deal, even though the memory is the wrong kind for my machine, the hard drive alone is a steal for that price, and I’m going to sell the memory to a friend. Now I’m tempted to head out to Circuit City, where they’ve been advertising $10 CDs, every CD in the store! I thought Best Buy was doing that but it wasn’t till I had painstakingly picked out some jazz ones for presents when someone told me it was only the advertised ones that were cheap, all the rest were list. I think CDs are overpriced anyway.

Recovering

That was quite possibly the best Thanksgiving ever. I ate, probably enough to feed a small village, but not too much to make me uncomfortable. The day started at my Grandmother’s house with aunts and uncles. Because of several people being out of town, I got to sit at the “adult” table this year, rather than be delegated to the kitchen. The food was wonderful, thanks in part to my uncle Colin who is a wonderful cook. There was green beans with fried onions on top, corn with chile peppers and paprika, great dressing, very sweet potatoes, and of course the turkey. I must have gone back three or four times, but I forgot to plan for desert so I wasn’t able to try any of it . . . then. Rene was supposed to join us but couldn’t get a ride down, but once I got a chance to I picked him up and the plan was to head back down and we would fix him something at my grandmother’s house.

Well I ended up held up at Rene’s, because it turns out they were about start their Thanksgiving meal, which I actually thought they were doing later in the evening. So we decided to stay for the food to get started and I enjoyed my second meal of the day, barely an hour later. It was really good, and interesting because the style of food was very different. So we ate, and then vegged for a little bit. Then it was back down to my Grandma’s house, because my dad was still there and I had the car. My dad was fine watching the Washington/Dallas game and I managed to find room for some deserts, a strawberry angel food thing and chocolate rum cake, of course with cold milk. After that we played frisbee for a bit in the park across the street.

The plan was then to head back up to Rene’s to watch some movies, but first we picked up Kyle. Then we headed to Joe’s and chilled there for a bit, probably at least a half hour. He had family in from Michigan and his house was really packed. They were just about to start dinner so he didn’t come along, and then we left and picked up Josh. We decided we wanted to see Swordfish, which Rene hadn’t seen before, so we headed back to Kyle’s to pick it up. While there I had some wonderful pumpkin pie, and then we headed up to Rene’s. The movie was good, and Rachel joined us toward the end.

After that I had my final meal of the night, a very traditional mashed potatoes, turkey, roll, and rice from their leftovers. The turkey was a little dry but I found that with a little mayonnaise it was quite good. Everyone was so tired we decided to end the night with the movie Antitrust, which I like and hadn’t seen in a while, despite owning it. I ended up home around 3:45, ready for rest.

Thanksgiving Eve

My Mom sent this to me, and even though technically it is now Thanksgiving, I haven’t gone to bed yet so it’s not yet.

’Twas the night of Thanksgiving, I just couldn’t sleep
I tried counting backwards, I tried counting sheep.

The leftovers beckoned, the dark meat and white
But I fought the temptation with all of my might.

Tossing and turning with anticipation
The thought of a snack became infatuation.

So, I raced to the kitchen, flung open the door
and gazed at the fridge, full of goodies galore.

I gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes, Pickles and carrots, beans
and tomatoes.

I felt myself swelling so plump and so round, ’til all of a
sudden, I rose off the ground.

I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky
with a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie.

I managed to yell as I soared past the trees . . .
Happy eating to all; pass the cranberries, please.

May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump, May your potatoes
and gravy have nary a lump.

May your yams be delicious, may your pies take the prize,
May your thanksgiving dinner stay off your thighs!

I hope everyone has a wonderful and happy thanksgiving.

Zero Year Reunion

Last night was great fun as a lot of the seniors who are in town for the holiday, and many who are in town anyway, met up at Diedrich’s an later Katz’s. It was really enjoyable seeing so many people who I often talk to online but haven’t seen for too long. The “Winter holidays” sometimes politically uncorrectly categorized as “Christmas” coming up should be even better. If you’re interested the pictures are now up.

Speaking of pictures, have been flooded with emails, calls, and just general in-person complaining concerning the updates to the photolog, or rather the lack thereof. The team here at Photomatt.net was experiencing some technical diffulculties, but things are under control now and I’ve caught up with a couple of the days I had missed before. We apologize for the lapse in updates. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Speaking of programming, okay, not really, but if you want a taste of how fast the new server is, browse over to mullenweg.com and click around. Isn’t that snappy? Also you may not have noticed, but the front page of this site used to take as much as two seconds to process, and now it is delivered to your browser less than half a second from request time. Other less heavy pages, like any of the jazz quotes the load time is neglibible. That just goes to show that the front page stands for quite a bit of optimization though, and I’m going to work on that a bit this weekend. Okay, that’s it!

Speaking of . . .

Hard Drive Update

I mentioned the other day that I had a 120 gigabyte hard drive crash irrecoverably on my desktop, but at the time I didn’t realize everything that was on there. It was about 80 gigabytes full, and had my personal DVD rips, 25 gigabyte backup of my music collection, several years worth of documents, all of my original digital “negatives,” and my graduation pictures. This is going to be harder than I thought. Backup now!

Getting Colder

Well I think it’s appropriate that Winter has finally deemed to visit Houston, after flirting for so long. Monday was hot and I dressed in kind, apparently so much so that Alex remarked to me that “Summer is over!” However the next day when I headed out in my shorts and short sleeve shirt, I was blasted at the door by cold cold air. Even colder than was in my house, which is saying a lot. Today is similarly cold an it’s forcing me to dig out all my cold-weather clothes that haven’t seen the light of day since early January last year, when it got hot again. I absolutely love cold weather and the month we have it here is usually my favorite part of the year. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m a sucker for Christmas music too.

The other day as I topped out the first hill getting on to the freeway my car died, and I managed to roll to the shoulder to await a tow back home. My car is in the good hands of the mechanic right now, so hopefully I’ll be back in the Mattmobile any day now.

Email Client Showdown

Okay I’m going to be reviewing a number of email clients almost solely on their IMAP4 functionality. So far on the list are Pegasus, one of the first clients I used back in the early ninties, The Bat (I refuse to repeat exclamation points from the name of a product. Yahoo this.), Eudora, AllegroMail, and of course Outlook Express and Outlook XP. We’ll see what happens.

Dave Holland Concert

Last night was wonderful; I got to attend the Da Camera Dave Holland concert I had been wanting to see with Sarah thanks to some last-minute tickets from my uncle. The concert was really great, and as an added bonus I got to see Joe, who I haven’t seen in a bit. Afterward we had some great BBQ at Harlon’s, where they also had some good music. Anyway my day thus far has mostly consisted of getting everything moved over to the new server. Actually there is only one account left on the old server, and you’re looking at it. Because of its size (over two gigabytes), PhotoMatt.net is simply too big to move over the way I moved everything else over. I might just have to do it the old fashioned way. Actually, if you can read this you’re already on the new server. Howdy.

Bad Day/Good Day

Well today has certainly been mixed. To make a long story short: new server, Bauer Business college stuff, meeting with Chris, Human Situation discussion class—good; 120gb hard drive biting the dust—bad. I’ll be recovering for a few days, and I’ve resolved to double whatever I replace it with in a RAID setup to have backups of everything important all the time. If you haven’t, backup now. Don’t let this have to happen to you to realize that you can’t put a price tag on your data.

Houston, We Have a Problem

Well, who would have thought that installing a keyboard and mouse could be so difficult. After my first few words, and using the mouse just long enough to start to really like it, everything has crashed and burned. One of the questions burning in my mind was if I could use the keyboard a,nd mouse with my existing Bluetooth dongle, partly because I don’t want to have to carry anything extra around and mostly because the “laptop adapter” for the Microsoft Bluetooth receiver sticks out from the laptop at least 4 inches. I plugged my old dongle in, and nothing special happened. Not surprisingly, the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse stopped working. I went into the Bluetooth software that came with the dongle to see if I could “discover” them and pair them somehow so they would work. The good news is that it was able to detect both the keyboard and the mouse. The bad news is it had no idea what to do with them. Any attempt to discover their services turned up blank.

I should have known that the operative word when dealing with Microsoft is “proprietary.” I wasn’t entirely dismayed though, I was ready to stomach carrying around the ridiculously long MS Bluetooth dongle just to be able to use the very cool Explorer Mouse; I like buttons and this mouse had them in buckets. But being able to dial up to the internet through my cell phone (T68) using Bluetooth is even more of a must, so I decided to try that with the ugly Microsoft Bluetooth adapter. It worked, beautifully. Many times when dealing with the current Bluetooth software implementations I’ve felt like it was back to the old Windows 3 days, when the interfaces were clunky, buggy, unresponsive, and ugly. The wizard that set the phone up was elegant and felt like a real part of the operating system. In fact it was apparently, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Anyway the phone works just fine with the MS adapter, however I couldn’t get it to talk to either the mouse or keyboard now. I thought maybe this is just a software glitch, so I went through all the regular motions. Reboot, retry, un-install, reboot, reinstall, reboot, try again, uninstall other Bluetooth software, reboot, try again, reinstall, smash mouse to smithereens against head. Okay, I made that last one up, but I did all of the others, perhaps more than listed. At this point I was thinking it must be a simple hardware issue, so I changed the batteries in both devices to fresh ones that I was sure worked, and tried again. Still no go, it simply wouldn’t detect either of the devices.

Having isolated nearly every variable I could think of, I decided to try it all out on my desktop. So I went through the first step of installing the software, and it tells me that for it to work it has to have Windows XP Service Pack 1 installed. Life is too short.

As a last ditch attempt, I decided to try and pair either of the devices with my phone. I think the keyboard might have paired, even though it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway, but I’ll never know because of the proprietary and non-standard way which the keyboard and mouse pair works only with the Microsoft software. Which only works on Windows. The latest version. With the latest Service Pack. (Did I mention it un-installed the special software for my touchpad on the laptop?)

What I suspect happened is something about the way the old non-Microsoft Bluetooth adapter tried to interface with the devices messed something up, and that is what’s causing them to not work. But at this point I really don’t care.

Maybe Logitech will come out with something nice to counter this, and maybe then I’ll try it, but right now I can only think of disadvantages to using Bluetooth HIDs, such as no current BIOS supports it, it tricky, it takes up two of your seven possible Bluetooth devices, doesn’t offer anything extra, the range isn’t worth it. Also on the range note with my Logitech Cordless mouse (the original model) I was able to walk all the way across the house into the garage, and it would still move the mouse on the screen, but I think that may have been an anomaly. Still, how far do you need to go?

So I have packed everything up from the batteries to the cruddy documentation, and tomorrow I will attempt to get store credit and buy something that actually works. Oh joy.

The Eagle Has Landed

Here are the first words from the Bluetooth keyboard, with Kel:

bigkelbo: heh heh!
bigkelbo: 30 ft range?
bigkelbo: you’ll need binoculars, though….
saxmatt02: you forget i have a 16 inch LCD
bigkelbo: yeah yeah
saxmatt02: this is me from across the room
bigkelbo: HA!

Launcher X . . . Finally!

Well as of several minutes ago the official announcement has gone out for the release of Launcher X, the wildly anticipated competition for SilverScreen, the current king of launchers. I’m going to download and try this out tomorrow, because it’s to late now to give it any sort of good look. I mis-anticipated this a couple of days ago when I was sent a review copy of Launcher+, which has a similar name but is really a mediocre product. I’m not going to judge X before I try it out, but there has really been an almost Microsoft-like delay in the release of this project. When it was first screenshots were posted, it implied that the product would be released that month (it was about half a year ago if I remember correctly) and people were bouncing off the walls. Months later, there are more units with high resolution than ever before, but Pocket Sensei is going to release version 3 of Silverscreen any day now, and I’m thinking it’s going to rock the boat quite a bit. When Silverscreen was in the early 2.x releases it could have been cut off early; now it has gained quite a bit of well-deserved momentum and dislodging it will be much harder.