Friday, October 24, 2008

Changing Default Browser in Vista

I have been having problems setting the default browser in Vista. Originally, I had problems setting Firefox as the default browser for all functions computer wide, eventually, through some trickery and a tip found on CNET I fixed that problem. Recently I installed Google Chrome browser...which I like a lot in some ways. But again, I had problmes getting it to be the default browser. I searched for some tips on how to fix this, but the browser is so new, there is not much information. Yesterday I discovered Mozilla Minefield, which is the next version of Firefox, currently in alpha dev. It is still super buggy, but it did manage to take control of my existing Firefox install. This screwed things up really badly on my computer and I decided I had to fixe the Chrome default problme once and for all. 

A lot of my problems on this Vista install seem to be caused by user access level issues. Vista says this makes my computer more secure. I say it makes things break and not work correctly. I found a posting on which shows exactly how to overcome this default browser issue. Here are the steps to follow:

1) Make sure Chrome is closed.
2) Right click the Chrome shortcut and select Properties.
3) Go to the Compatibility tab
4) Check "Run as Administrator"
5) Run Chrome
6) Click the "Allow" selection in the UAC prompt
7) In Chrome, go to Tools / Option and select "Make Chrome my Default Browser" (this step is what most people suggest to do from the beginning, except it wont work unless you are running as administrator, and even then it might not work correctly.)
8) You may want to remove the Run as Administrator option as you will get hit with the UAC prompt every time you open Chrome or a new tab.

This process totally works, it fixes all of my default browser issues including default links from outlook and google desktop search. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Confused about Obama vs McCain/Palin

I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight.....

 * If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."

 * Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers,  a quintessential American story.

 * If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

 * Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.

 * Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

 * Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.

 * If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor,  spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of  13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

 * If your total resume is: local weather girl,  4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

 * If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.

 * If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

 * If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

 * If , while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant , you're very responsible. 

 * If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.

 * If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude",  with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

 OK, much clearer now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Google Chrome Doesn't Work with...

I have been using Chrome for a few days now, actively, at work. Here is my review:

Thinks I like about Chrome:
-Ability to pull a tab out of the window into its own window.
-Individual tab processes

Things I don't like about Chrome: 
-The way it handles multiple logins for a single page in the "remember me" functionality. It tries to suggest the login you want to use, rather than allow me to select the login I want to use as Firefox does. 
-Chrome seems to have trouble keeping Flash from crashing. This is partially improved by the ability to kill the Flash process and have it restart without restarting the browser
-Lack of extensions/add-ons that I am use to in Firefox (especially mouse gestures and session saver)

Things I have found to be broken or simply not work correctly in Chrome.

-Amazon MP3 Dowloading Service
-Some parts of facebook (friend suggesting)

Additionally, I cannot seem to figure out how to do the following:
-Make Chrome my default browser (which enables me to click on links and have them open in Chrome, also enables me to continue to use Google Desktop Search). Though I think this has mostly to do with the messed up way my vista installation works with my default browser. It took me forever to get it properly associated with Firefox in the first place, and now I forgot how I got that to work. 

Finally, major corporations that develop products and services that only work with Internet Explorer is still a huge problem, and is certainly not solved by Chrome. I am specifically referring to companies like JP Morgan Chase, ADP, American Express and of course Microsoft. I really think that designing your product to only work on one browser is massively anti-competitive and someone needs to bring suit against large companies that do this. 

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Amateur Radio License

I found my Amateur Radio License listed on the FCC website. Neat.
What is weird, though, is that I found it using a new search website called (pronounced "Cool")
See it here: KB9IVG - Matthew Arata

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Outlook Slow? Use Archiving!

I was having major problems with slowness while using Microsoft Outlook 2007 with my company exchange server. I searched for some tips on how to speed things up and found this article. The article describes several different things you can do, but the one that clearly worked was using the archiving function. This option can be found in Tools->Options->Other tab->AutoArchive. I set mine to archive anything older than 12 months. I think it takes a while to move the items, but soon enough it had duplicated all the folders and moved mail from my inbox over to a replicated inbox in the "archive" folder. It seems to be having a problem moving items from a folder I called "old work email," even though it duplicated the folder and appears to have moved "some" items.

Overall, outlook is now running MUCH faster than it was earlier this morning.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Remembering Joe Wishnoff

Joe Wishnoff, my colleague and friend, passed away on 7/14/08 from a disease called IPF. He was very passionate about things like SEO, pagerank, inbound links, etc... So in an attempt to ensure searches for his name reach pages that are related to him, I am collecting links about him in this post.

Save JoeW - The site Joe Wishnoff started to coordinate his fundraising and chronicle his experiences.

ServerCentral Remembers Joe Wishnoff

WebHostingTalk Remembers Joe Wishnoff

Joe Wishnoff on Facebook

Joe Wishnoff on Friendster

Joe Wishnoff on LinkedIn

Joe Wishnoff, legacy guestbook memorial

Joe Wishnoff, obiturary in the Tribune

Link through Dennis' blog on an article on Joe Wishnoff, written by Teresa Geiger, Dennis also wrote several other posts about Joe on his blog.

Joe Wishnoff's Holding Company, Sion Networks

Joe Wishnoff included in the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis 3rd Quarter 2008 Newsletter

Joe Wishnoff mentioned on the Host Review blog

Thread about Joe Wishnoff on WebHostingTalk Forum

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Young punk to unseat old republican stodger

Kim blogged about this guy, probably after seeing it on digg, who is going to win a Kansas congressional seat simply because of the internet. All he needs is 3000 people to donate $8.34 a piece. I think he will do it, NO PROBLEM. He summed up his initial foray into politics with a great cartoon. I gave him my $8.34, and I don't even live in Kansas!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Classified in the new Millenium

Craigslist has made it possible for anyone to place a classified ad, and have it seen by hundreds of thousands of people at a cost of $0. This has lead to a new breed of internet troll - those that both search and post on the classifieds in an attempt to wreck general havoc and amuse oneself.

A co-worker of mine has recently made it his mission to destroy this little part of the internet by posting humorous requests and offerings. His theory is that there aren't any real people on Craigslist anyway (at least not in the personals) they are all trolls. So might as well amuse the trolls and himself in the process. Here are a few of his recent gems:

Cat lover wanted - 27
Date: 2008-07-11, 1:24PM CDT
I've had some relationship problems recently and I'm looking for a woman who is comfortable having sex in front of a relatively high number of cats.
If you're not, that's cool, but it's also a deal breaker. You can bring as many of your own cats as you like, but if they fight or can't get along with my cats, we will have to segregate them and they cannot watch.
Also, if you could dress in a cat suit, that's a plus, meowing, purring, and scratching, a definite plus.
Date: 2008-07-05, 12:26AM CDT
Hi, I'm Doug, I'm a mild mannered construction worker by day, and a fireball throwing badass by night. I have red hair, and red flames. If we're going to be together, we have to get a few things straight:
1. I will fight evil by night.
2. No, you cannot come.
3. No, you cannot reveal my secret identity to anyone, Yes, you have to tell your friends you're dating a construction worker.
4. No, I'm not gay, and I won't wear tights with underwear outside my pants.
5. I may accidentally burn the house down one day, and you can't be mad about it.
6. I will not throw fireballs for your amusement.
7. If the president's life is in danger, I won't be home for dinner.
8. If, during love making, you are burned or injured, I'm absolved of all liability.
9. Just because I could end the war doesn't mean I will or should.
10. The following picture of me was taken tonight.

Attractive woman needed for sexual Monopoly. - 30
Date: 2008-07-04, 2:14PM CDT
I need an attractive woman, ages 18-30, to play Monopoly with. You will use the thimble, and I will use the car. You must let me win, and we will moan sexually throughout the entire game, which will last 4-6 hours, while I dominate you financially. If I feel you are attempting to win, you will not get to date me again.

Classics in the making. I wish him all my best.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Local Eating

Local Eating Concept = Eat only foods grown or produced within 100 miles of where you live.

My sister-in-law's family started on this adventure about 2 weeks ago.

They are chronicling their adventure on a blog called Eat Near Rockford, pretty interesting read. Some of the ways they are going about sourcing their food are much more easily done in a community situated in the midst of rural farmland. It would be near impossible for me to do this in downtown Chicago, and also because I can't make a giant garden. They have a large property to grow food, a large kitchen to can food, and plenty of storage space to store what they can. Good luck to the Holdmann Family.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The correct Matthew Arata

Once again, I am forced to guide google to the correct Matthew Arata. This profile at Facebook belongs to yours truly:

And while I am at it, this is the correct Matthew Arata on Linkedin.

And finally, this PR from one of the companies I work for about nLayer's Partnership with Juniper.

Any others out there, trying to creep up on my search engine rankings, please cease and desist!

Just kidding...

but seriously, change your name or something...

just kidding....

but really....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Movie Recommendation: SLC Punk

I highly recommend the movie SLC Punk. A simple story of 2 punks living in Salt Lake City in the 80s. Great story telling and an outstanding performance by Matthew Lillard.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dark Lord Day 2008, my experience

Dark Lord Day 2008 was yesterday April 26th, 2008 at the Three Floyds Brewery in Muster, IN. The event centers around the brewery's release of their Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout, which is generally thought to be a top rated, award winning beer. The beer is made in a small batch and only available at the brewery on the release day. They have been making it an event for several years now, and this year was expected to see a large turnout.
Steve, Lauren, Fred and I decided to take a trip down there and see what it is all about. (note: Muster is "closer" than you think, as compared to Naperville). Fred drove, as he is "in training" and was planning on not drinking very much. Thanks very much Fred. The weather was pretty cold as compared to the previous week's weather, and it was very windy, but also sunny. We were moderately prepared for the cold, but I should have worn a stocking hat and brought some gloves (and sunscreen).
I will sum up our experience in one word: Unprepared. We had no idea what to expect and dove in head first. We got there right at 11AM, which is when the beer was scheduled to go on sale. First thing we noticed was the extremely long line, which was the line to buy bottles of Dark Lord. We quickly got in the line after walking around the various industrial park parking lots through which the line was winding around and around. Check this google map I made to show approximately where the line was.
Most of the day was spent rotating the 4 of us in and out of the line, going into the brewpub or to the tents they setup outside to buy drafts of beer and food and go to the bathroom and stuff. We did get to try all three different drafts of Dark Lord (regular, vanilla, and bourbon). And we did get to eat some really good BBQ, sausage and weiners all on pretzel bread, and it was all excellent. We made friends with the people in line in front and behind us and shared our beer and food back and forth with them.
However, after 4 hours of waiting, some of the staff came out and determined that a point about 30 yards ahead of us in line would be the end of the sales of bottles of Dark Lord. Fred and I walked into and out of the warehouse a few times trying to make our own estimates of how many people were in line in front of us. We determined the same thing, no dice for us. Failure. So we decided that we had experienced what we could experience, and left the line to go home.
If we decide to come back next year, we WILL be more prepared. We will bring a bunch of stuff to setup camp outside the brewery. We will bring plenty of food and drink to complement the beer and food that is available at the brewery. We will bring chairs and perhaps a canopy tent or something to sit around so that we don't have to stand or sit on the ground. We will setup a system to rotate people in and out of the line and we WILL get there much earlier in the day to ensure that we are able to buy our cases of Dark Lord. And after we buy the beer, we will have a sweet space to hang out in and carry on and stuff with anyone who may stop by.
Thanks Three Floyds for a great event, but make more Dark Lord next year!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Another Fart Sandwich Update

The Great Fart Sandwich, documented heavily on this blog, also has a BoingBoing account.


Ordering my copy of Grand Theft Auto 4 today. But I am not as excited as some other people in my office. I don't want to have any high expectations so that when I decide the game sucks, then I can tell other people...I told you so!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I can't believe I am finding myself at this point, but I am considering grad school. I swore that I never wanted to ever never ever go back to school after I was done with college. But here I find myself considering the idea.

Time to buy the Kaplan Gmat Book.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Dirty Jobs

I have watched the show Dirty Jobs on Discovery Channel many times. The show's host, Mike Rowe, who does voice over and hosting work for several discover channel shows. Anyway, I was looking at the blog Post Secret, and came across this picture, I thought it was awesome.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

SEO worked for my friend Fart Sandwich!

My SEO quest to get searches for "Fart Sandwich" to successfully display results for my friend, the great Fart Sandwich, was a success! Google searches for "Fart Sandwich" now list content relating to my friend as the 3rd through 5th, and 7th, 11th and 12th results. This is very good news indeed.

As a recap, Fart Sandwich is probably most well known for his amazing skills at Lumines Time Attack, where he placed 3rd in the xBox Global Arcade Challenge competition back in December of 2006. There is also a semi-popular you-tube video displaying his skill. Most recently, Fart Sandwich has been working on his Digg profile :)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Chase = suck, still

Banks are greedy, that is how they make money. But JP Morgan Chase Bank is VERY greedy. I paid my United Mileage Plus Credit Card (division of Chase) last month on March 9th about 5 days before it was due. I paid it online by logging into, clicking on pay credit card link in the credit card box. (I also have Chase bank accounts). Using this feature initiates an ACH pull by the credit card from my bank account. Virtually 100% of my payments over the last few years to this card have been from the bank account side, initiating the ACH push from the bank to the credit card. This time, I noticed the easy link (been there for a while, I think I even used it once before), clicked on it and setup the payment. At the bottom of the initial screen, it gave me the option to set the date I wanted to pay, and it was defaulted to March 10th (next day). At the time, I said to myself..."Why would I want to pay this tomorrow? What is wrong with today?"I forced the date to the 9th, and neglected to notice that there would be a '$15 FEE ASSESSED FOR THIS PAYMENT'. Yes! Well. $14.95 to be exact. I didn't notice the fee, I just clicked submit, why would they ever charge me for MOVING MONEY BETWEEN DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS AT THE SAME BANK!!!!!

I got my statement last night, noticed this fee (it was obvious actually, a charge that didn't look like the other charges right in the middle of the statement, and right under the payment for the previous month's statement), and I was concerned to say the least. So this morning, when I was good and ready for a fight, I called Chase, told them that I never saw any warning(I didn't really see it at the time), and there was no way I would have agreed to a $15 fee for doing something "rush" when the payment was not late (true). There are at least 2 or 3 other ways I could pay the statement without incurring any fees. It would be rediculous to think that I agreed to this fee. Lady phone rep stood her ground. She said the warning (pop-up she called it, but I figured out today it was a 'somewhat' clear warning embded right above the payment confirmation information, and displaying the $14.95 as part of the payment) is always displayed, that the "charge" was valid, and that she could not reverse it. After 5 minutes of arguing with her, telling her it was rediculous, etc...I finally pulled the supervisor card. I was transferred to phone rep guy. He explained to me the fee again, said that it is clearly shown, and said that I probably just clicked right through and didn't notice (well...I did...but not that this guy would know). I went on to say that the guy was calling me stupid because I can't read (classic for me really, I never really read things completely). The guy gave a half apology, saying of course he wasn't calling me stupid and saying he wanted to 'work with me'. Good one phone rep guy. I offerred to meet him half way, but he was already ahead of me, saying he was going to waive the whole thing. He obviously didn't care to argue. Good for you Chase phone rep guy. You realized that I am not some dumb ass who would blindly accept being nickel and dimed to death by the giant mega-corp that you work for.

I was "" <-that close to having him transfer me to retention so I could get them to waive the fee or cancel the card I don't really need. There are a thousand credit cards out there, all of which would glady have me as a customer. I don't really need United miles, I don't fly that often, and any other card's rewards program is probably just as good for my personal financial situation.


I deal with people at Chase a lot through my own personal banking, but mostly through my job. Our company has extensive dealings with many different areas within chase. Generally I find the different departments to have varying levels of suck. I will list them in reverse order of most suck (#1=best at sucking):

#5 - Chase treasuery services. These people are in charge of wiring money. They have to deal with huge sums of money changing hands in split seconds. The average rep knows exactly what is going on and exactly what they are doing. They get annoyed with you when YOU don't know what You are doing. The people that setup these services have 95% clue and %5 suck, because they work at Chase, duh. Chase treasuary services suck the least of any people I have ever dealt with at Chase. They sent me a survey after my last interaction with them. I wanted to give a glowing review, but realized that their service wasn't really anything special, but in comparison to the bone heads I will mention below, they were OUTSTANDING! So I gave them slightly above average marks, with a extra note telling them as much.

#4 - Chase Credit Card services - Historically, I haven't had huge problems with these guys. They typically are easy to reach on the phone, speak Midwestern english fairly well, and can almost always fix your problem. They have even introduced a few GOOD services, such as improved fraud filtering, where it calls you to verify if some charges are against your normal pattern - annoying at first, but I appreciate it. However, over the last 1-2 years or so, even simple things have started to suck. My story above is the most recent example. Another great thing they have started to do is make you listen to a long advertisement for something you don't want while you are on the phone waiting for your new updated expiration date credit card to become "active." And finally, after several years now, they have still failed to intergrate at any meaningful level with the larger Chase organization, leading to the stupid problem I experienced above.

#3 - Business Financing - I appreciate these guys for the work they do with my company. Most of them are career financial guys just trying to make a decent living and support their families. However, they like to take their sweet time when processing your requests. Individually they don't have enough power to really help you with very much besides acting as a go between to their underwriting department (who, surprising I don't really have any problems with, they simply evaluate risk, not hard for people that specialize in that). They could probably do a bit better in their customer service I think.

#2 - Business banking - With the exception of a handful of people that work the business banking call center, the peope who work in the Chase Business banking divisions only care about how many new accounts/services/features they can get you to sign up for. They see businesses with nice fat wallets that they can milk because people in business say "oh I need that!" These people are former branch VPs who have successfully moved up the chain because they probably have really good sales (or some other equally revlent) skills. Of course, they are lacking a lot of clue when it comes to resolving simple issues your business faces, having to esclate to some person or department. They rely on other departments and staff below them to research your issues. I really wish I could say nice these about Chase Business bankers, but they just don't ever help me when I need them to do something.

#1 - Consumer banking - With the exception of the average teller (who couldn't give a shit about you, but is mearly concerned that their drawer blances out at the end of their shift, but they are usually very friendly and rarely make mistakes), peope who work in the Chase consumer banking division (similar to the business bankers) only care about how many new accounts/services/features they can get you to sign up for. The average "Branch VP" (age 25 and everyone is a vice president of course) only wants to get paid on new business, and could give two shits about servicing you after the account is open and they got their comission or promotion or whatever. They are also generally clueless on just about everything besides "opening a new checking account." These people are the very epotimy of everything that is wrong in corporate culture. I dispise everyone I have ever dealt with.

#0 - Higher-ups at Chase - These guys really take the cake in the suck. They get a 0. Worse than my scale even goes. In their ever present drive to inflate their own portfolios by getting that stock price up just another dollar, they force every department to nickel and dime and every angle. Bait you with enticing advertising and sell you crap you don't want. They dictate general policies on funds holds, fees, random stuff that generally makes my life more difficult and all for their own personal gain. They see their SMB and consumer customers as numbers. Numbers that they can squeeze on an anual basis for more $$. These guys are responsible for general customer disatisifaction that is RAMPANT among everyone I have ever talked to that has ever dealt with Chase.

In conclusion, I hope Chase can improve. Though I have strong doubts. Giant corporations generally grow and grow and get bought and sold and become big unwieldy giants until eventually they are split up and you are now apart of someone else, who equally sucks, but in a totally new and exciting way!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Photoshop express?

Adobe launches free version of photoshop called Photoshop Express. My first impression?

Loading, saving, startup, etc... are all really slow.
Lacking any useful that any previous user of photoshop would want to use.

However, one good thing, it appears to save your edit history...forever. Well the reason it can save your edit history for ever, is that your edits are not really edits, rather they are filters. You can do a bunch of filtering stuff, cropping, color changing etc, but you never actually change the original file.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Firefox 3

I just installed Firefox 3 Beta 4 and I am certainly impressed.

When they released Firefox 2, I thought all my memory leak problems would be solved...but sadly, they were not. After installing F3B4 I noticed an immediate difference in several areas.

Overall memory usage is probably cut by 50%
Closing a tab, reduces memory usage (shocking, I know.)
Restarting Firefox is OMG fast.
General web surfing is a lot faster
Specialty programs that I use at work are a lot faster.

So congratulations Firefox team, you did well!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

update on comment diggs

Update to my post from yesterday, my comment now has 376 diggs, vs 328 for the next most dugg comment.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Most Comment Diggs

While browsing Digg today, I noticed an upcoming story about where spam is coming from these days. The story focused on which botnets were responsible for the most spam. Interesting story, and I thought worthy of a digg, not that I really care which botnet sends the most spam. Since the story only had 40-50 digs at the time, it had only one comment, which wasn't very funny. I decided to comment with some dialogue from the Red vs. Blue video called "The Internet vs Real Life".

What do you know? The story was eventually promoted to the front page, and my comment rose to the top of the dugg comments! 162(and rising) comment diggs as of this posting. It hasn't gotten me any new digg followers or really anything at all. I guess this internet video is either through of very fondly by the digg community or nobody remembers it and thinks I am fucking hysterical! Either way, this makes my day....

Amazing how something so simple makes me happy these days...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

T-shirts, t-shirts, t-shirts...

I have blogged before about the Messerschmitt t-shirt that I created on Zazzle. Well, I just sold another one! That nets me another $2.15!

Of course I am not getting rich of these...but I still think the concept is good. A little better than Cafepress, because the site is geared toward individual artists instead of "stores." It is also better than Threadless, because the designs you create are available forever, and you always get the comission on each sale. Zazzle is not as good as Threadless in the marketing respect, as Threadless has a huge customer base and really strong brand.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Great new game

Stumbled upon this great new game called Crayon Physics. The original version is pretty simple to understand and play, however after the first few levels, it becomes really difficult (at least it was for me.) He is apparently releasing a much more developed version sometime in the future...

Friday, March 07, 2008

Need help restoring *.QIC backups?

I have been trying to restore information from a backup CD made with the Windows 9x backup utility. Unfortunately Microsoft changed their software so you cannot use anything after Windows 98 to restore that backup. Since I don't have any old Windows 9x machines, I was stuck.

I eventually found Will Kranz and his MSBackup Restoration Utilitys. The QIC utility seems to have been written well and extensively debugged and updated. Will was also kind enough to take a look at my file when I couldn't seem to get anything out of it. Unfortunately, the file was both corrupt and contained zero usable data.

So this is a lesson to anyone who relies on backups to archive data.
1) Don't use proprietary Microsoft data formats.
2) Review your archives regularly to ensure that the data is still readable
3) If you keep things on physical media, ensure that media is kept in pristine condition.

Anyway - Thanks Will for your help.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I'll have $100 in September of 2011

A few months back I added Google Adsense to this blog. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about replacing the battery in my ipod mini. Apparently this post got some good google placement or something. About a week ago I was checking my adsense reports to see if anyone at all clicks on my ads. The ipod battery post seems to have triggered at least a small handful of people to click those ads.

If you are reading this, why don't you click an add right now!?

Anyway, over the last 3 months, I have built up a balance of about $10. At this rate I should be able to get that $100 check sent to me around September of 2011.

Of course I have no way to really monitor any of this, because I can't run analytics on blogger. I am really going to have to work on my web presence. Specifically I need to put all of my various websites (this blog,, and all on the same server and link them all together in a much more elagant way then they are right now. The first goal is probably to find a really good template to use for and then completely overhaul that site. Making a new mainpage for shouldn't be all that hard. I will probably make a half assed attempt to mirror blogger Dannyman's or Leo Laporte's homepage, as I really appreciate the fashion in which they present themselves. Then I will need to dump this blog (or link it to a template or something) that I can host locally instead of on blogger.

Dreams really...all of this...I'll probably just go back to playing Call Of Duty 4.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One Million Donors for Barack Obama

As reported by many outlets today, Barack Obama's Campaign has amassed over 1 Million individual donors, many of whom have given as little as $25. Congratulations!

Hopefully, the March 4th Ohio and Texas primaries will cement Barack's nomination and finally give a crushing blow to Hillary.

Xobni making your computer run slow? Uninstall!

Xobni is a Outlook add-in that allows you to view data about your email in new ways. When you are viewing an email, the sidebar inside the outlook window shows you all kinds of useful information such as:
-all email sent to/received from that person
-all files exchanged with that person via email
-a graph of the time of day that you get email from that person
-people linked to that person (cc'd in an email)
-information about how often you email with that person

All of this is great stuff.....if you want to know the information. I personally have very little need for any of this information. The only thing that is even remotely useful is the 'files exchanged' function. However this can be displayed by sorting your email by person and then by attached files.

All of this functionality comes at a great price. My outlook was SEVERELY slow almost to the point of non-usability. Probably due to the fact that I have 4 years+ of business email that it is working with, and I wouldn't call myself a heavy emailer. If Xobni can't deal with even a modest amount of email, then it will probably fail.

I un-installed today after running the program for several weeks. Presto!, no more slowness!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

About 3.7 million people have seen the video supporting Barack Obama. I appreciate that video, I do. It's pretty good.

But a group of comedians got together to make a parody video, which in my opinion is MUCH better than the original, as parodies usually go. This video guest stars Kevin Douglas, whom I have worked with a few times on productions in Chicago. Kevin is part of the team kevINda. They do sketch comedy shows at Second City and elsewhere including steppenwolf. Kevin apparently also recently became an Artistic Associate at Lookingglass Theatre.

Here it is:

Friday, February 08, 2008

The new iPod battery

The first run on the new iPod battery from yeilded upwards of 18 hours of run time on a various mix of music and podcasts at an average volume of about 50-60%. MUCH better than the old battery. I can't believe I lasted so long on the old battery.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Replacing your ipod mini battery

I am going to 100% recommend as the best place to get a replacement battery kit for your ipod mini. Here is the story:

I got my iPod mini in October of 2005. At the time I wasn't ready to dive into a full scale iPod but I wanted to try it out and see if I could deal with iTunes and everything that goes with it. Plus this was a 6gb iPod mini, which were harder to find and more expensive. Regardless, I got a great deal on it because a friend had just purchased it, used if for a few weeks and decided to get the new hotness, the nano, which had just come out.

I have used the iPod Mini just about every single workday, 5 days a week, back and forth to work on the train/bus/bicycle for 2 years and 4 months. Plus I took it along when traveling and such, so it got extra use there. During the last 3 or 4 months I was experiencing very poor battery life. So poor that it often could not go more than 48hours without getting recharged, and I am talking 48 hours of mostly standby time, with 30 minutes to an hour of playtime in between. I was tired of this. I tried a reformat of the drive, but that didn't help of course. This was clearly a battery problem. Apparently 2 years of daily use is all these batteries are good for, which really sucks.

I decided to look online to find a possible replacement, or even how complex the task of replacing the battery would be. I found and I couldn't be more pleased with the experience. I ordered the 750 mAh battery kit and paid an extra $3 for UPS shipping. Everyone should know by now that USPS sucks the biggest fatty ever and they know it. Anyway, I ordered it on 1/30 and had it in hand on 2/4 - great turnaround.

The installation was simple enough. They include a full color instruction sheet with a very detailed description and many photos. They also have a videos on their website showing exactly how to do the installation. There were a few tricky parts, so if you don't have steady hands or tend to break things you try to fix, perhaps you should just send your ipod to them and they will replace the battery for you for an additional fee.

And now, I have the same 6gb iPod Mini, which is more than enough storage space for me. I don't need to be watching videos on the bus anyway. I honestly cannot see a time when I would want to upgrade this iPod. So a replacement battery is by far the way to go.

Thanks! I will tell everyone I know about your great product/service.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Growing Hops, my experience

A guy on the Chicago Beer Society mailing list asked:

I am considering growing a couple of hop vines this year on the back deck of
my condo using a couple of planters and some wood lattice up the brick
wall. I've got the fiancee in on it for the "look", but I want a good crop
come August/September as well.
Has anyone tried to grow their own, particularly in a more confined space
like a patio with planters?
I'm hoping to hear pros and cons of such an undertaking, and I would
appreciate any input.

So I decided to write up a quick summary of my hops growing experience to date.

Max and I each attempted to grow hops in the city during the Summer of 05. He put his in a small pot on a 2nd floor balcony facing north. He neglected to water, and he got....not much. A few sprouts and a foot or two of vine and then nada. He probably could have done a bit better if he watered some more, but even then the lack of full sun made it a non-event.

I had better success. I grew a couple of shoots out of a single rhizome in a 5 gallon sized pot on the South side of a house on the 1500 block of Walton St. The location got 6-8 hours of full sun a day, and when the plant grew above the railing it got even more. I watered almost daily for the early and mid summer and fertilized a few times as well. At the peak of growth I got 3.5' of vertical growth in a week and about 18' of total vertical growth. In the end though, I only
yielded about 1oz of final product, and the cones I did get were on the small side. Taste was difficult to discern because we had to mix them with other hops in the brew, though I could clearly smell the lupulin.

I chronicled the experience here. There are some good pictures of the final results and you can get an idea of the height.

I have done some reading on growing hops and just about everyone says you don't get much the first year because the root system needs to develop. I was surprised that I got what I did, but if you compare what I got to an established plant, you can see multiple years of root
growth is what is needed to produce decent results, like this guy's.

After the season ended, I moved my pot to a 13th floor condo balcony. I got a lot better sprouting at the start of the 2006 season and I thought I was off to a good start. It started with probably 10-12 shoots and I think i pruned back all but the best 4. However I had nothing for the plants to really grow up vertically. I used a bit of cotton line from the pot to the railing and then I decided to try to grow them back and forth across the balcony railing. This did not
work. Though I got much the same the vertical (er horizontal) growth I got the previous year, I had MAJOR trouble with the wind. And I got virtually zero hops cones. Zero. Nothing for a whole summer of daily watering and coaxing and monitoring. I was pissed. I had to move in
September of that summer, but it wouldn't have mattered because I wasn't going to get anything anyway.

So I moved the pot again. This time my balcony was on the 9th floor facing east. Well, something must have happened while the pot sat there from Sept 06 to March/April of 07 because nothing came up. Not a single shoot. The roots must have frozen too much or rotted or who knows what, but there were no hops in the summer of 07. I doubt if anything will come up this summer, but I guess I can hope.

I think I am done trying to grow hops in planters on balconys. My limited experience has shown me that hops need:

1) lots and lots of sun
2) lots and lots of water
3) lots and lots of verticle room to grow.

If you don't have these, you will probably be disappointed with the results. I don't really want to talk you out of trying something, but just be warned and don't get too frustrated if you see poor results.

Steve and my brother in law both have plants growing in yards out in the suburbs. This summer it will be the 2nd and 3rd seasons for those plants, and hopefully we will see some real results.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mitt Romney you are dumb

Mitt Romney was recently at the Detroit Auto show where he gave some comments regarding the state of the auto industry in the US. While he was more or less correct in one aspect, that the auto industry in Michigan is an economic indicator for industry in the rest of the country, he was WAY off in another of his comments.

Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, Romney also blasted a new energy bill that raised the fuel efficiency standards for cars to 35 miles per gallon, saying it was an "anvil" that will weigh down the domestic auto industry.

"All of the vehicles that you're making now are outmoded. You're going to have to build new engines, new transmissions, new axles. All of these things have to be changed at the cost of tens of billions of dollars. Good luck. Now, it's a benefit to the entire nation paid for by one industry that's already in trouble," Romney said.

A mandate on higher fuel economy does the following things:
-reduces, however little, our independence on foreign oil
-reduces our impact on the environment
-requires all automakers selling cars in America to follow these standards, thus negating any unfair cost to one country's industry
-enables the American auto industry to compete at a higher level in places where these higher standards already exist.
-forces the American auto industry to innovate, one of the main factors that has caused the industry to lose money as consumers shift toward foreign cars that are more innovative, get better mileage, are better built etc...

Lets take each line of his comment and dissect it a bit more:

"All of the vehicles that you're making now are outmoded."
:Well not exactly, some may be outmoded, but the standard applies to the entire fleet. Meaning you either have to produce one really fuel efficient car or raise the efficiency on the worst car. Either involves innovation which the industry is lacking anyway. And the auto makers should want to continually be making newer and better cars and abandoning their old ways. It is the only way to compete in any market.

"You're going to have to build new engines, new transmissions, new axles. All of these things have to be changed at the cost of tens of billions of dollars. Good luck.""
Sure, goes along with the implications of the first statement, sans the axles part....axles? really? And the industry is going to be spending that much anyway on R&D in the next several years. So are you just stating the obvious for political gain? (answer=yes).

"Now, it's a benefit to the entire nation paid for by one industry that's already in trouble..."
Sure is. In fact when any industry or market is regulated in a manner intended to improve the good of society, that industry has to pay for it. The point is to encourage innovation, lessen reliance on oil, and force the industry to complete better in the world market. Unless their are subsidies, which in this case would only harm the nation and the auto industry in the long run.

Romney seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill and to his own benefit. You may be able to persuade some blue collar workers that they will get their jobs back if they vote for you, but the only way they can get those jobs back is if they industry makes cars that consumers want to buy more than the foreign makers. And there is nothing Romney can do to make that happen. And the fuel efficiency law only helps the industry to make cars people want.

Nobody wants SUVs anymore Romney! You drive a 2005 Ford Mustang convertible, and go figure, you are against raising fuel standards, but offer nothing in return.

Vote Obama!