Thursday, October 30, 2008

Video of the Day

Diet Mountain Dew
Featuring Chuck Norris

Here's the longer one minute version of one of my favorite Diet Mountain Dew Commercials!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Video of the Day

Will it Blend?
Featuring Chuck Norris

Suitable for all ages. The Will it Blend web sites uses their industrial grade blenders to blend a variety of objects, from iPhones to...well........ Chuck Norris!

Kids, Money Burning Hole in Pocket, etc.

Last Thursday it came to my attention Danielle was abusing her internet privileges. To make a long story short (she had been warned the day before about disobedience and breaking of the rules) I ended up taking away her internet access.

There was a brief cold spell so to speak, but after she began talking to me again she seemed to be in a much better frame of mind. Saturday she helped me break down my roll top desk and move it downstairs (my back loved that). Even broken into three major sections which comprise the roll top assembly itself, the slab on top of the desk, and the bottom section with drawers, it is heavy and bulky to move.

She also helped me carry the drawers and do lots of other work arranging and carting things around.

She spent more time with me over that four day period when she lost her internet access and Monday night when she went to her Mom's than she has in ages. We're evaluating ways to give her back some internet access though this will involve adding monitoring and filtering software to her PC, I'll post when applicable on this.

Scott has landed a part time Job at Meijer, a large chain out in this area, they are a combination of a department store and a food store rolled into one. He had 3.5 hours of initial training last night and has computer training today, and will probably start this weekend or sooner. He is very pleased because he has been looking for a job for quite awhile. Unlike my older son who, like his dad procrastinated, Scott made a genuine effort to get a part time job at age 16, and I am very proud of him.

I was really touched last night when he stopped in around 7:30 PM to watch a Scrubs with me since he had not seen me after school as he usually does. That really made my day!

Scott was also happy that I gave him my old TV from my bedroom, even though I also made him clean his room before he could set it up in there. While he has no TV connection, it allows him to play video games in his room.

I took the kids to Hobby Lobby over the weekend as well as Danielle,with a renewed interest in drawing and such, needed some new markers. They were also having a 50% off sale on all storage boxes, so I got us each a retro mock up storage box, and on a trip back Monday where we sadly realized that sale was over, I got them each another small sale item. A large clear fuax diamond for Scott because it looks like one of the Chaos Emeralds from Sonic, and another retro storage container for Daniele, who wants to redecorate her room.

Money Burning a Hole in my Pocket:
We have an update here; as you know I had around $350 from a payroll adjustment that I was going to spend on either a new case and video card for the HTPC or an HD TV for the bedroom. After shopping around I decided to wait until Black Friday because prices were just not god enough; for the $350 I could barley get a 19" HD TV for the bedroom.

I was on, one of those deal of the moment sits and i found a special on a 22" HD LCD PC Monitor with an HDMI port for $199. Since the TV box in the bedroom has an HDMI output I realized I really did not need an HD TV, I just needed an HD display, so, I snagged it up and it looks fantastic! It even has built in speakers.

While this was all well and good it caused quite the ripple effect, and the move of the roll top desk to the basement was part of this. My 'master bedroom' is very small. I have a king size bed on one wall and opposite that wall was the roll top desk with the dresser next to it. There was barely enough room to go into the bathroom with the dresser where it was.

Scott, as noted above, was very pleased with the ripple that caused the old TV to end up in his room!

To optimize placement of the HD Display I tried several rearrangements of the room, all were OK but none were ones I could live with, I even thought of flipping the bed around 180 degrees and mounting the HD display on the wall, the only thing that stopped me is since the head of the bed currently is wedged in a small space because the door into the bedroom protrudes into the room and than falls back about a 2 feet, if I turned the bed around it would be very difficult to tuck in the covers and such. With the head of the bed in there is is doable, just.

SO I decided to remove the roll top desk and center the dresser directly across from it with the HD display there.

Sadly, more ripple effect was about to happen! For those who remember this post from January, I had bought a nice four drawer file cabinet. I am the first to admit I procrastinate, and, while I had built the cabinet back in January as of this past weekend it had a mountain (well, almost 2 feet!) of paperwork stacked on top of it that needed to be filed away.

Since the drawers had to be removed from the roll top desk, and all paperwork and other items be removed from under the roll top itself, I easily ended up with another 2 foot tall pile of paperwork. I spent Saturday afternoon, and later Saturday night until 2 AM Sunday morning, sorting and throwing out items that could be trashed and shredding sensitive items that were no longer needed. What was left was filed away in individually labeled pendaflex file folders in the new cabinet.

Now, whenever something needs o be filed it is a joy rather than a chore, I just put it in the appropriate folder! The file drawers in the old roll top desk, now reassembled down in my basement office are delegated for historical storage. Right now they hold tax returns and other archival information.

It is way, way, cool! Yes, I should have done this ages ago, I now have an easily maintainable filing system, a bed room that seems somewhat bigger, and HD TV in the bedroom.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kid Moment of the Day!

I call today's Kid moment of the Day! "What planet is my son on???"

So, last night around 8 PM I was shopping at Forest Hills Foods. I heard a bunch of voices a couple of aisles over but though nothing of it. I turned into the main aisle that runs the whole width of the store and there at the other end approaching my with two of his friends is my 19 year old son Chris. He's looking in my direction the whole time we are approaching each other but as we got closer and finally passed he did not even notice me. I whirled around and smacked him on his back and, quite startled, he turned around to see who had hit him.

I waved, smiled, and he said "Oh Hi Dad!" and went on his way.

I just thought it was funny, I wonder of there had been fire, or broken glass, or a slavering dog in his path would he have seen them???

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Haunted Halloween

Halloween is on the horizon and a few years back I made an excellent Halloween Screen Saver for Windows PC's. This will run on Windows 2000 and up through Vista. A screen shot, without animation of course, is shown below. Note the lights flicker in a ghostly manner and there are many animations and animated characters, It is, one of my best creations. There is also spooky music.

So, look at the picture below and if it seems interesting you can snag a copy here. Of course you can click the picture below for a larger copy in a new window.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kid moment of the day!

The X is traveling this week; she has business in California. I know like myself she misses the kids when traveling, so, I sent her this kids moment and then decided it would make a good subject for a post today and possible future posts where circumstances permit it.

So, today's entry is entitled "Scott learns his car has a rear window defroster!"

I was running late this morning and looking out my bathroom window I watched Scott laboriously scraping the frost off his windows (Yes it was that cold here overnight). I was pleased to see this time he had started his car, since last time I noticed this he had it off and complained that the moisture on his windshield did not dissipate until he was nearly at school.

I was going to return to my morning routine when I saw him move to the back of the car and he then began doing this on the rear window. I ran outside and asked didn't his car have rear window defroster? He replied he did not know. I looked on his instrument panel and quickly found the button and amazed him with this discovery!

I wonder if he's found the brakes yet.......

And that concludes today's "Kid moment of the day!"

Technology Tales of Terror!
Vista SP1 Update Update!

I thought it was time to post an update to my Vista SP1 Update; hence what looks like the grammatically incorrect post title. Not that I am professing to know anything about grammar!

Anyway, to make a long story short including having to escalate my original ticket to management at Microsoft because nothing was happening for days, steps they had me try that I knew could not work, causing me to doubt the technical ability of those who were helping me, and other back and fourths, Microsoft has agreed to send me a new set of Vista media free of charge!

That saves me about $40 and is all I wanted as an outcome to this incident; now worst case I can do a clean reinstall of Vista which would be excellent! I feel vindicated because it was the incredibly poor performance of Vista that caused me not to archive my media iso files and burn them to DVD after I got fed up with the inability of Vista to boot or do any task in a timely manner.

I shall post again on this subject when the media arrived! Of course, there is always the possibility that even a clean Vista Ultimate SP1 installation will run like a slug on a cold day, but, I feel my tenacious nature has been validated and one way or another I will have taken this incident from start to completion. Even though my original estimate was for a Sunday afternoon or work and now it's dragged into two weeks.....we shall have some form of resolution!!

And, most importantly perhaps Vista will be my bey-atch after all is said and done!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Ramon Journals
Homemade Ramon Chicken Noodle Soup!

Here's a twist on the Ramon Journal entries, in spite of my back bothering me yesterday I decided to make homemade Ramon chicken noodle soup as the local store had the plain Ramon noodles in stock. I read the seasoning package from one of the packaged ones the kids like so much and bought the spices I was missing.

I contacted a large batch and was very successful on my first attempt! So much so that Scott said he liked mine better and with Danielle it was a tie. Not bad for the first attempt! I myself thought it was delicious, so much better than the packaged variety and so much healthier particularly in the sodium department!

Alas! For you, my dear readers, I am sad to say that there will be no recipe at this time! In true chef's fashion I did not measure any of the ingredients but will do so on the next batch!

Perhaps I will do that this coming weekend as I have the kids extra days this week as the X leaves for California tomorrow on business and won't be back until next week.

Money Buring a Hole in My Pocket
Part Two

Saturday while the kids and I were out and about doing some errands and getting lunch I priced some TV's locally. From my research and what I found locally, along with the fact that the video card I want right now is about $50 over budget (due to the extra chip for HD Audio Processing), I have decided to postpone this decision until black Friday. While I have no intention of getting up at 2AM to go stand in some ungodly line somewhere to snag the deal I want, many companies offer suitable discounts online during the day.

I am hopeful this would allow me to meet budget on which option I choose, or perhaps even a new one as it's over a month until Black Friday and that money, while not causing my pants to catch on fire, certainly is making known to me its burning desire to be spent!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Money Buring a Hole in My Pocket

I've often heard the phrase regarding 'money burning a hole' in someone's pocket and I am sure you have too.

Come on now! Unless someone put some coins that they heated up to the point that the metal was glowing into their pockets, or put in a wad of flaming bills, it just is not going to happen!

HOWEVER I can understand the intent of the phrase, as I have $350 unexpected dollars available to me since there was a payroll error in my favor regarding an increase I got a few months back that never made it into my paycheck. By my logic, since I was not getting any less money that was just paid to me, and I paid all bills due these past months, this is 'free' money meaning I can just blow it on something! While the money is not burning a hole in my pocket though the thought of spending it is almost overpowering!

I have three choices and I'd like everyone's opinion:

Option 1: - My Home Theater PC (HTPC) really needs another video card upgrade. Granted when I did the previous one some months back I knew it was stop gap, but it was very inexpensive. I am limited by the power supply in the HPTC case which is a custom sized job whose form factor does not come in a capacity greater than 250 watts. Most seasoned PC owners will tell you that's not a real lot of power especially if you want to run a high end graphic card. I'll spare you my weeks of lunchtime research but for about $350 I can replace the HTPC case with one that will take a standard PC ATX 500 watt power supply. In addition I can get the video card I want.

Option 2: - Small HDTV for bedroom. Until recently I would never have considered this as I have no HD content for the bedroom TV and the 27" standard definition TV is fine. U-Verse recently upgraded my service with their Whole House DVR. Before this upgrade the only TV you could record or watch recorded content on was the one in the Living room which is of course connected to my 50" HD plasma. This is where all viewing of HD content occurs. Now any of the three TVs in the house can watch recorded content. Some nights I go get into bed, particularly if my back is aching, a good hour before I am ready for sleep and I watch live TV. Now I can do that plus access recorded content which is great and helps me keep ahead of all the shows I record. The caveat here is that I have HD programs recorded (about 30-40% of what I record is in HD) and I simply will not watch that on the standard definition TV in the bedroom. Nor would I drink 50 year old brandy our of a Dixie cup! Come on! There are just some things civilized people will not do! For about $350 I can get an HDTV of similar size to replace the bedroom TV. This also has the benefit of being able to put a second TV downstairs for the kids to use. Now, there will be no contention for the TV when one wants to play video games and the other wants to watch TV. I plan to ask them their opinion of this after work today.

Option 3: The cheapest and simplest alternative to implement; DO NOTHING! However I will still have the nagging feeling about spending the money....nagging always nagging me!!

So, what do you think I should do? Crap! Is my pocket getting warm....or am I just imagining it........

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Video of the Day
The Matrix

There are literally hundred of Matrix spoofs out there, but this is one of the best I have ever seen. YouTube took it down so I don't know how long this will last so check it out NOW! Suitable for all ages.

The Matrix Spoof -

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Weekend

I did not have the kids this weekend, so, the majority of it was spent doing chores around the house, watching TV, playing on the computer.

Friday night my older boy Chris was coming over, we were going to do dinner and watch Ironman which my friend Mike had loaned me. The X called and discovered this and asked if we could all have dinner and she wanted to see the movie too. So we went to Applebee's, Scott drove back to his Mom's house, Danielle retreated to the computer, the the rest of us watched Ironman which we all enjoyed.

Saturday I really did not feel like riding the exercise bike, so since the weather was so nice I decided to take a walk to the store to pickup some items. I decided to take the long router which is about 2 miles. It was a nice day for a walk and I enjoyed it, having not been walking too much this summer .vs. using the exercise bike.

After I returned from the store and made a small pot of pasta sauce with pepperoni and meatballs. After dinner I made a sausage and pepperoni sandwich) I decided to do the walk again which turned out to be a mistake; about halfway through my right foot started hurting and by the time I returned home I had the beginnings of a blister. Sunday my legs hurt as well, a lesson that 7.5 miles on the exercise bike is not as strenuous on the legs as a four mile walk. I think the exercise bike burns up a lot more calories though based on the amount I sweat as opposed to the walk.

The X had some issues with Danielle over the weekend, to simplify she is using IM and texting way too much. We will have to deal with this going forward. I have felt that the X giving her a phone with unlimited text messaging was a major mistake.

Note: I Did NOT touch the Vista Issue this weekend!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Technology Tales of Terror!
Two Computer Stories

WARNING: While this post does utilize my unique writing style, and
therefor in my humble opinion
it is interesting, it is quite LONG and
delves into technical issues on computers. So, if you like that read on!

if you are looking for a recipe, go away!

Shoo! Scat! Scoot! I have computer issues to deal with!

Still here??? Then, by all means you must read on!

For our less technical visitors who decided to brave this out since no recipe was forthcoming, note that MB and GB used below refer to megabytes and gigabytes.

Not too much been going on worth note except in the realm of computers. Hence my lack of posts, but, since I felt I needed to post something.....on to the technical tales of terror!

Mom's Computer:
On Saturday I ended up going down to Mom;s house to help her with her computer. She was having some issues easily fixed, and one not so easy. The constant crappy performance and effects of using Netzero. Most often evidenced by Internet Explorer displaying the vague dialog that it has encountered an unexpected error and has to close.

Netzero, a company that I really, really, do not like. Not only do you have to pay these miserable people for access, but they provide NO FREE SUPPORT. So, if you are having an issue that is their fault you have to pay to have it fixed!

The best solution is to remove it, but Mom's locked into a yearly agreement. So, in the interim I set her up with a Gmail account and the went to export her Netzero address book so I could import it.

GUESS WHAT! Those nasty folks have NO WAY to export your address nook! I guess they do not want to make it easy. I ended up doing a print the address book which they do provide and copying/pasting the data out of the print preview window. I then reformatted this into a CSV file I could then import into Gmail. So, that was a fun way to spend four hours, but I got some time to chat with Mom and Dad, and I got lunch so that was OK!

Note too that this is also after having Mom's PC at my house for a week for hardware burn in testing, deep cleaning, performance tuning and optimization. We were able to verify the internet worked flawlessly by both Danielle and myself using Mom's PC for two days on my high speed connections without a single Internet Explorer crash or hang.

I spent countless hours on this, and five minutes after Netzero was connected her Internet Explorer started having those issues. I am hopeful that using Gmail will alleviate a good deal of her issues.

Oh! We won't even mention the first call I got when Mom had taken her PC home and the monitor would not come just won't!

Finally, did I mention I really, really, hate Netzero??

Now....the preamble into the next story......

Over the past five days I have been trying to embrace Windows Vista. After all, I have a free copy of the ultimate edition which I got for being a Vista Beta tester. I had loaded it on my main PC after the beta in early 2007 and found it to be totally unacceptable. It was the worst resource hog I had ever seen, and was just so slow as to be unusable.

After talking to my good friend (who I do not blame for this!) David a couple of months back who sang the praises of Vista, I decided since Vista SP1 had been recently released, and supposedly this fixed a lot of issues including performance, to update my Vista partition on the home office PC. Having done many service pack upgrades on all versions of windows in the past, major and minor, I figured this for a few hours worth of work......I could not have been more wrong. WHAT A NIGHTMARE IT TURNED OUT TO BE. The Tale is told below:

Day 1 of the Vista Upgrade Experience:
I booted up into the dusty and disused Vista partition and immediately I felt a cold chill! It started with the fact that the network card was no longer being detected by Vista. So, no big deal I booted back into the XP partition (Love XP! Love Dual Boot systems!), looked up the hardware designation of the network device which turned out to be a 3COM 3C940, and went off to the 3COM web site to get the Vista Drivers.

NO JOY here! No mention of this existed anywhere on the 3COM site! I began to google the model number and soon I was led back to the motherboard manufacturer as this was an embedded Ethernet controller. On the Asus web site I entered in my motherboard info and then went for network drivers. NO VISTA ONES!

Further googling was required, a lot of further googling as their were simply no drivers for Vista for this model! I finally found an obscure post from some intelligent person (after many dead ends and downloads of supposedly Vita compatible drivers) who mentioned that even though this is branded 3COM is is really a chip set made by another manufacturer entirely. One I had never heard of!

Armed with this info I was finally able to get a driver and get the Vista OS to see the Internet! After a quick update of the AntiVirus program and Spyware definitions, I set out to install some updates and SP1.

So, after much much chugging, and me already hating the performance of Vista, Windows Update says it has about 60 critical patches to install and about the same of optional patched, updates, etc. It says in needs about 256 megabytes of disk space. The Vista partition has about 1.5 Gigabytes free so I click on OK and go on about my business.

I came back to the office later in the evening, close to bed time, to find only 22 of the required patches had been installed and the rest had failed due to lack of space. Vista had eaten all 1.5 GB of free space!

What to do, what to do! I decided to disable hibernation mode which would delete the one gigabyte hiberfile.sys file and give me more free space. In XP this is simply done via the GUI in a couple of places. Not where to do this in vista though and the built in help was useless.

Back to Google! More frenzied searching to find out that the only way to disable hibernation in Vista is via a command line command! I did this, restarted Windows update, and went to bed.

Day 2 of the Vista Upgrade Experience:
So after work I checked the PC, only 10 more updates had been applied! 10! And the gigabyte of space was gone again! 2.5 GB gone to apply updates!! Frenzied cleaning of the file system commenced scouring for temporary files, I cleaned the internet cache, temporary directories, logs not needed. This got me another 200 MB back. Windows Update would consume this like the mint on the pillow at a fine hotel! And you what that makes you want more mints!!!!

So what to do what to do...... Part of me wants to chuck this idea and be done with it! Microsoft just extended end of life support for XP into next year! HOWEVER the tenacious part of me, the part that hates defeat, the part that will not be defeated would have none of this! I would beat this beast as I had beaten many other computer issues in the past! It make takes weeks and in rare cases months but I have always been able to fix any problem with my own systems! I am admin, hear me roar!!!! Vista would be my be-yatch!!

So, I fire up my trusty copy of EASEUS Partition Manager, an AWESOME piece of freeware and look at the partition map for the drive that contains Vista. It has three partitions, the Vista one sandwiched between an old unused partition of 500 MB, and my prized XP partition which has about 5GB free.

Thinking of the facts that many partition managers (let alone a free one) have issues with mixed XP/Vista partitions, partitions on a large volume, which this was, and the fact that resizing partitions always has inherent risks, I command EASEUS to delete the unused partition, shrink the XP one by 500 MB, and Grow the Vista one by another 500 MB. I hit the Apply Changes button, and after the expected message that I must reboot the PC, I headed off to bed. Partitioning takes time!

Day 3 of the Vista Upgrade Experience:
I was very pleased to note after arriving home and rebooting the system that all was well! Another job well done by EASEUS Partition manager, one of the more risky ones I have used it for. XP/Vista partitions were fine and had been sized as expected. I restarted Windows Update and let it churn over the last 10 updates to apply. A couple of hours later I did a remote desktop connection to the XP system from the system I was doing my office work on, and discover the following:

Good News! All the needed updates had been installed!
Bad News! Of the first 2.5 gigabytes of space that had been reallocated to Vista before the partition resizing, NONE had been recovered! I would think most should be and will have to run Vista's dreaded Disk Cleanup tool.

I decided to go for broke and went over all the option updates. Of the 50-something, the majority were language pack files. Out of the remainder I only needed four, and two of these were driver files. The system is booting up now. I will login and the kick off the disk cleaning operation!

Well the built in Disk Cleanup was next to useless, I need something more intelligent because what I envision has happened here is that with the running out of disk space Windows Update got confused and I have multiple versions of files, installation kits, etc. lying about. I will have to look into this further!

I downloaded one trial version of a duplicate file finder; it had a limit of 30 files per operation and since there were thousands of duplicates I went in search of another tool. I found a tool called Duplicate Cleaner which was free, and, after some tweaking of the settings I recovered over 2 gigabytes of file space!

SOOOOOOO.....after all this, all thee updates and patches.......Vista SP1 still has not been installed! It is downloading now........which means the Vista Update Tale of Terror is not over yet......

Looks like we will be going into day 4.....the 2.6 GB of free space is now gone and SP1 was only 94% downloaded!! I downloaded the stand alone SP1 kit which weighs in at about 450 MB. I had it on a different drive than Vista. I looked at the release notes. A minimum of 7 GB free space is needed! If you have a 64 bit installation you need 13 GB!! My current XP partition, fully up to date, with lots of installed programs, is taking up about 5 GB of storage space!

Almost tasting defeat, but refusing to, I launched EASEUS again and shrunk my C drive (used mostly by Vista's boot loader, and my XP partition, and then grew the Vista one to have 7.5 GB of free space. Knowing that was going to be it for the night, I clicked Apply Changes and headed to bed, haunted by visions of failed upgrades that screamed in my head......

Day 4 of the Vista Upgrade Experience:
Thursday - I have a personal day from work and have errands and family business to take care of. I check the PC when I get up, once again EASEUS has done it's work well, and the Vista partition has 7.3 GB of free space. I kick off the upgrade and head off to take care of business. I check in at one point and it is at a screen that says stage 3 of 3 is 100% complete, and warns not to turn off the computer. i continue with what I need to do. Three hours later the same screen is still being displayed, but by the frenzied (perhaps panicked?) flashing of the hard disk light I know Vista has opened a can of Whooop Ass on my hard drive! I wander away and will check back later.

Many hours later (almost 12 from when I started this morning, the same screen remains. The system is responsive in that I can make a remote terminal connection to it, but, like on the physical console the same 100% message is still displayed......I am afraid this must lead into

Day 5 of the Vista Upgrade Experience:
Since this occurred after midnight it is technically day 5. It's over. Upon sitting by the office computer I noticed it was not stuck at this screen, it was periodically rebooting and going from 0 to 100% within a matter of minutes, and then after a few more minutes, rebooting.

Some googling returned the fact that, for all practical purposes, my Vista installation was now boned and I in fact, was Vista's be-yatch who must hang my head in shame and defeat! This is a known issue with Vista SP1 as documented at

Because I had system restore disabled and because I had no vista media (I downloaded it ages back as a thank you from Microsoft for participating in the Vista beta. I then burned it to DVD's which were subsequently destroyed over a year ago when my disgust of Vista's gluttonous nature towards system resources had shown no satiety! So, I can use none of the methods described to fix the issue.

Heck, if I had the original DVD's I would just blow the whole partition and do a clean reinstall. While researching this issue I also discovered that Microsoft is offering free technical support for Vista and Vista SP1 installation issues, so, in an attempt to amuse myself, I opened a support call. On that note I will close this Technological Tale of Terror, which I can always revisit at a later date!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Picture is worth a thousand words

Look at the following picture....imagine the thousand words....and then check back to see a future post entitled

Technology Tails of Terror! Two Computer Stories

that provides the thousand words and then some!