Monthly Archives: February 2004

Photo safari

Ginny and I went on a small photo safari today. We went over to the Chicago Botanic Garden to see what there was to see.

It wasn’t very colorful … but pretty, in a stark kind of way.

I took some pictures … not a lot. Need to get out of the habit of trying to conserve shots. I can always erase what I don’t like.

I haven’t played around with the pictures yet … but you an see the raw results here:

Getting a new digital camera today

I’ve finally decided to get a new digital camera today … I’ve looked at a number of them and decided that the Cannon Digital Rebel is the right camera for me.

Canon EOS 6.3MP Digital Rebel Camera with Lens 18-55MM Lens

It’s got all the features I want … good zoom, high resolution, solid feel, etc. The only draw back is that it’s pretty expensive. Well, relatively speaking. It’s $999 retail. And that’s pretty much what it will cost.

I’m going to sell my current Nikon N80 … I like the features, but the pictures always turn out flat. I think Cannon makes better lenses. I always got good pictures out of my Cannon Photura (a PHD camera).

My friend Steve recently got one and likes it a lot. I was dubious of buying such an expensive digital camera, but once I got to play around with it, I decided it was pretty good.
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html -> php

Ginny wanted some more features installed on her blog, some of which require PHP, so I switched all our HTML over to PHP. No big deal in the blogging software (MT) … but for some reason I’m having trouble getting mod_rewrite to map requests for html files to php.

Obviously there are links to the html files out in the internet (Google has a number of them, so do some of the site agregators.

Seems to work when I just have

RewriteRule (.*)\.html$ $1.php

in the .htaccess file … but when I change it to

RewriteRule (.*)\.html$ $1.php [R=permanent]

It seems to have problems finding the file. Not sure exactly why yet.

Oh well, I’ll just have to experiment.

Here little fishy …

About a year ago we got rid of the old stereo and bought a new one (along with a new TV) (of course, ‘got rid of’ is a bit of an overstatement … it’s actually piled in the dining room, need th really ‘get rid’ of it soon) … the new stereo has 6 speakers and Dolby 5.1 (which, btw, I recently found means that there are 5 regular speakers and 1 subwoofer).

The wiring for the three front speakers and subwoofer aren’t really a problem … but the two satelite ‘surround’ speakers were. The wires had to go from one side of the family room to the other. Lacking a basement under the family room (it’s on a slab), we just laid the wires on the floor. Obvious hazard, someone is bound to trip (and break the stereo and/or speakers).

I explored many different alternatives for the wires …

  • Run the wires along the baseboard … can’t do that, it would have to go in front of the fireplace
  • run the wires along the edge of the ceiling? Naw, too noticable. I could pain the wires, but they have a tendency to move.
  • What about different wire? I’ve seen various vendors for ultra-flat wire. It’s paper thin (wide though) and you are supposed to be able to paint over it. No, I’m told the sound quality is not good.
  • What about wireless speakers? No, the speaker connectors are wrong and the sound quality isn’t good either.

I bounced the idea off Brad (a co-worker, former manager) and he suggested running the speakers in the ceiling. As long as the joists run parallel to the direction I want to run the wires, I shouldn’t have a problem.

Ok, I can do this (I think). I get my stud finder and make sure that the joists are running the way I want them to. They are!

I go to Home Depot and buy a 25′ wire fish. My plan is to drill a smallish hole in the ceiling above the wet bar (where it won’t be all that noticable if the project goes bad). Run the fish across the room and have Ginny listen for the scraping of the fish on the ceiling. She hears it actually going down the oposite wall. Ok, this is a good sign.

I drill another hole in the other side of the room (measuring the approximate distance instead of eye-balling it… this is Ginny’s idea … goes to show that two minds are better than one). There’s a good bit of insulation right above the hole … so I’m not sure we’ll actually be able to find the fish.

We try anyway without luck. Hmm… I wonder if I can get the fish to run the other direction?

Try that … but it seems to get hung up on something. Not sure what though.

I’m just about to give up … ’cause I’m really not good at this kind of thing as it gets later in the evening. But I decide to give it one more shot from the other (original) side of the room. I figured that pushing the fish up through the insulation might have pushed it away enough.

So I run the fish across the room again from the wet-bar side. This time Ginny’s watching the hole in the ceiling. As I wiggle the fish back and forth she sees something moving (gets a bit of dust on her face too, I think). It’s the fish!

I stop moving the fish and she runs down to get a needle nose pliers and a screw driver.

As she’s holding the fish tape in place, I slowly pull it back so we can find the end. I hope and pray that I don’t pull it too fast and she misses it.

Finally she captures the end of the fish! She pulls it through the hole and there is much rejoicing (and smooching).

The rest is pretty easy … attach the the wires though the end of the fish (taping very securely) and pull the fish back.

And BEHOLD no wiress on the floor and the speakers work perfectly!

Now all I have to do is buy some speaker outlet plates to attach the wiress too in the ceiling and it will look like a somewhat professional job. I’m going to invest in a Rotozip also so I can cut the bigger holes in the ceiling easier. I’m pretty good at installing low-voltage utility boxes, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Ginny has an account of the project too.
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Customer Satisfaction?

Got a call from Dell today about my laptop.

Apparently they ran the my machine over the entire weekend and couldn’t get the fans to fail.

I told them that the diagnostics indicated a problem with the fans and I had included the diagnostics report.

Skip, the Dell tech, indicated that he had seen the diagnostics report, but the diagnostics tended to lie and there really was nothing wrong with the fans.

I then told him that both Ginny and I heard the fans making odd noises. They seemed to startup and shutdown irregularly.

Skip said that he would replace the fans as a customer satisfaction issue and ship the system back to me.

Now, correct me if I”m wrong … but if the customer says the fans were operating irregularly AND the diagnostics indicated a problem with the fans … wouldn’t you say that there is a problem with the fans?

I do not want the fans replaced as a one time customer satisfaction resolution … I want the fans replaced because they are broken. Labeling it a customer satisfaction resolution makes me sound like I’m a whiner. I’m not a whiner (well, not usually) … but if the fans are broken, I want them fixed.
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The local policy of this system does not permit you to logon interactively

If you get this message when trying to access a XP (or 2000 server) system via remote desktop, try the following …

On the remote system, click Start, then Run, type “secpol.msc”, and press enter.

Navigate to “Local Policies”, then select “User Rights Assignment”.

In the list find “Allow logon through Terminal Services” and make sure that “Administrators” and “Remote Desktop Users” are in the list. If they aren’t, click “Add User or Group”, and add the user. Then click “Apply”.

You should be able to access the system remotely.

But I *NEED* Windows!

I volunteered to help out our QA guy at work by running some of his regression tests on Implementer over the weekend.

I figured, even if I don’t have my own computer available, I can use Ginny’s system.

Unforunately, her monitor isn’t big enough to display the desktop at work.

So, I have to install XP on my scorched earth machine (named Mordor, btw) … but I don’t have any free space on the linux partition and I don’t want to repartition it.

Luckily I have a spare 6gb drive … that should be enough to install a very basic Windows XP. I install the extra drive in mordor and the primary slave.

XP, however, has other ideas … it turns out that Windows doesn’t like getting installed on anything other than the primary drive.

Ok, I can work around that … I temporarily unplug the linux drive, make the 6gb drive the primary, and install XP. Everything is cool, right?

No, of course not … I configure grub with (what I think are) the necessary entries to boot windows off the 2nd drive, but it won’t boot. Can’t find the OS.

I do a bit of research and find this site that describes the process. I gave it a try, and whadda ya know, it works! This blog entry was started on Linux and finished on Windows.

Now I just have to get current on all the Windows patches and install anti-virus software.

Verizon needs better proof-readers!

I took the LG 4400 phone back to Verizon because their ad slick indicates that the phone has a speaker phone … but the documentation (and phone) does not give a hint of it.

Apparently, they KNEW about the misprint!

The only thing they would / could do for me was change phones … which I don’t want to do. The only other trimode phone they have is another Audiovox … but I can’t turn off the bootup & shutdown sounds.

I was tempted to talk to the manager about the situation … but my frustration level was rising quickly and I don’t work well when frustrated…. so I decided to shelve the problem for another day. Maybe this weekend I’ll go in (with Steve, possibly) to talk about the problem.

Reviewing all my receipts, I also noticed that they didn’t give me the $20 credit that Steve wanted me to get (instead of Steve getting the credit).

Of course, since I traded in the Audiovox picture phone, I don’t need the 20 pix messages anymore … and I’m sure their system isn’t smart enough to know that the phone I have is no longer capable of sending pictures and automatically drop the feature.