Recently in Tech Category
February 22, 2005
...it smells like... victory. ;)
So Saturday we ripped all the carpet out of the office and bought enough new laminate flooring to replace all the carpet left in the house. Unfortunately the laminate needs to acclimatize to its new environment (you know, sniff around, set up its den, mark the perimeter... oh wait) for 48 hours before installation, which meant that the office was empty all weekend but for stacks of laminate--which meant that the front hall was full of office furniture, and the living room was full of stacks of books. (We have a lot of books. It doesn't seem like nearly so many when they're on the shelves, but we could build fairly substantial forts out of these stacks of books, and still have paperbacks left over for ammunition...)
So last night while Jen was at a New Works (er, sorry, The University Co-op Presents the Cohen New Works Festival) meeting, I spent 3 hours putting the new floor down in the office. I think I've gotten the hang of this flooring, since that was all it took. Tonight I'll do the closet and the bedroom hall, put in the mouldings, and then we can reassemble the office.
I'm really digging my Creative Zen Touch. My first impressions were that it is a bit more substantial than Jenny's iPod, specifically slightly heavier and slightly wider. I'm okay with that; it's still pretty small, and the extra size is due to a larger battery. So far it seems as if the claims of ~24 hours continuous play life are more or less true (it's hard to say because I'm not using 96Kbps WMA or whatever the claim is based on; I have both high bitrate MP3s and some WMAs that were automatically converted). I am a little disappointed with the software integration. The Touch isn't yet 100% compatible with Windows Media Player; you can copy over all the songs on a playlist (or all songs in your library), but you can't copy over the playlist(s) themselves. Supposedly a firmware update due in March will bring it up to full MTP compatibility, after which AutoSync should make life wonderful, but until then I have to use Windows Explorer to create playlists. I didn't bother to install any of the Creative software (except the required drivers), since I've never had a good experience with Creative software. :)
As far as sound quality, I'm very happy. I'm not sure I can hear any difference over Jen's iPod, but it might be the default earbuds; the sound is very clear, though. The player's interface is interesting; it does a very good job of not ripping off the iPod without sucking. It has a touch-sensitive strip used for scrolling; I've read a lot of complaints that scrolling through long lists is painful since you have to repeatedly stroke the strip. Apparently none of these people discovered that if you stop at the end of the strip and hold your finger there, the player will keep scrolling. :-P Anyway, so far I'm really happy with the player itself. The carrying case is annoying, though. It's very protective, but once the player is inside the case the only control you can actually access is the power button; you can kind of get at the volume buttons through the elastic sides, but the play controls are all covered by a stiff protective guard. It's really a shoddy design. The worst part is that nobody makes MP3 accessories for anything but the damned iPod; there's no such thing as a third-party Zen Touch case. Sigh. I'll probably post an update to this once the new firmware comes out.
December 7, 2004
October 14, 2004
Things for which I am grateful today:
- Windows XP's System Restore: Instead of spending 3 hours reinstalling Windows and a bunch of applications on Jen's laptop, I spent 15 minutes booting into Safe Mode and rolling back to a restore point. What a great idea.
- 802.11b: Better yet, I was able to do the above while sitting on the couch watching The Apprentice, rather than sitting in the office staring at a progress bar, thanks to our lovely wireless network.
- There was a third thing which I have quite forgotten. Sadly, technology has not yet figured out a way to make my memory foolproof.
- Edit: I have remembered what the third thing was: Microsoft's Automatic Crash Analysis, you know, that window that pops up when Windows or an application crashes and asks if you want to Send/Don't Send the crash to Microsoft. Jen's laptop bluescreened while I was trying to restore it, I hit Send when it came back up, and MS came back with a web page saying that it was a bad version of the Synaptics touch pad driver -- and best of all it gave me a link to download the fixed one. Much nicer than trying to troubleshoot a bluescreen and locate updated drivers myself.
September 20, 2004
Today I passed the second of my exams for MCSD certification: XML Web Services and Server Components. Considering that this was the material I use least in my day-to-day job, it actually was much easier than I expected it to be. Not that I'm complaining. :)
June 25, 2004
So tonight I spent about 2 hours doing a focus group for a product under development. I can't say what product it was, or even who's developing it, because they made me sign an NDA. Still, it was fun, we got to see something new and non-public, got to give actual feedback that I know will at least be heard, and I got paid $75 for chatting about music and the Internet for two hours. (Yes, I can say that much--the product has to do with music and the internet. :-P)
I found the focus group by checking Craig's List for the local area, under "et cetera jobs". It seemed like an easy and reasonably fun way to make a little extra pocket change.
A couple of incidentals about the group: There were eight of us, and I was the only one who didn't have an iPod. Of course, as far as I could tell there was only one (maybe two) other person(s) who even downloaded music before buying said iPod; when I mentioned having downloaded the first version of Napster people seemed oddly impressed. Sometimes I forget I'm such an early adopter. :)
As for the product, it seems like a decent idea, something I would actually use, if the company pulls it off well--which I am not completely confident of, but then that's why the focus groups. :)
June 22, 2004
5 more days, plus a bit, until Jenny is back in town and life is back to normal. Been working so hard that I don't have the energy to do much by the time I get home (my current mantra is "just survive until July 17th"), but the imp of the perverse has seated himself firmly on my shoulders -- I can't sleep. I'm just all kinds of out of sorts right now. I guess having work scheduled out until October 11 for a hard July 12th deadline will do that to you, though.
I am at least proud of the work I'm doing. I was running our major application on my laptop today (just a Pentium M with 512 MB of RAM), and it handles at least 500 simultanous clients, each sending commands at random intervals between 0 and 1000 ms. Considering it's all code I wrote myself (in about 3 weeks), I don't know if that's more a tribute to my mad skillz or the ease of developing in C# -- the truth probably being, as it so often is, somewhere in the middle. (I'm so humble it hurts to be me sometimes... ;) ) The only reason the app starts to have issues at 500 clients is that it appears that the Winsock buffers start to fill up (probably due to the fact that 512MB - VS.Net - SQL Server - Outlook 2003 - misc other stuff does not leave massive amounts of memory lying around free) and the socket starts throwing WSAEWOULDBLOCK exceptions.
Anyway, I'll be interested to get the app onto our real server and see if/how far that extends the client limit.
And now back to your regularly scheduled non-programming post. ;)
Actually, I am toying with the idea of starting up another blog just for programming etc, to kind of segregate the content. Of course, it would mean that if I start posting to that more often than this blog Jen would beat me up, but maybe we can reach some kind of compromise. ;)
Okay, brain too fuzzy to write more. Going to try to sleep now.
May 12, 2004
Some exciting news out of E3 (the big video game conference)... I haven't been watching the XBox or PS2 information, but I noticed some very cool news re: the Gamecube.
April 12, 2004
Today's ADNUG meeting is on the use of Virtual PC (VPC) as a development tool, and the speaker is Michael Kennedy, a consultant with the Microsoft Technology Center here.
March 9, 2004
So I'm here at DevDays 2004 in Austin. I probably would be enjoying myself more if I weren't sick, but oh well.
The rest of this post is in the Extended portion, so those of you who don't care can skip it. :)
January 18, 2004
Jenny showed me this nifty site called Fontifier, which takes your handwriting and turns it into a TrueType font for use on your computer. It's not perfect (it's missing a lot of glyphs), but it's pretty cool. I've actually set up an alternate skin for the website so you can read it in my own handwriting, if you like. You'll need to download and install this file (on Windows, drag it into the Fonts folder in your Control Panel), then click here.
Just got back from another trip to Phoenix. This one went really well, we got everything done early for a change, and the owners were apparently very happy with us. Our last few clients have been really happy, which is great news; we're really starting to get this thing down. It's going to be a good year for us, I think.
Riley got his staples out Friday, and Cara's ears have cleared up, so hopefully we can avoid the vet for a few months. It would be nice to be able to pay to replace the garage doors and redo the yard and garden.
This site is turning into just a personal journal; I haven't seen anything worth writing about in a while, I guess. Sigh.
Edit: I forgot to upload the font file to the webserver. I'll do that tonight. Meanwhile, laugh at me for making such a rookie mistake. :-P
Edit 2: Okay, the file is uploaded now.