Installed BlogEngine 1.4.5

Finally installed BlogEngine 1.4.5.  Something goofy happened with my web hosting provider permissions on the app_data folder... I kept getting exceptions, but with tech support finally got it straightened out.

Now I just need to fix my daily quotes control.  I want to turn this into a widget and contribute to the community.

Programmers should not design UI

After seeing my parents' new ATT Uverse setup, I've made the decistion that I'm going to give Cablevision the boot.  The only decent thing about Cablevision has been my experience with the technicians I've had to meet at my apartment.  The service is overpriced and corrupt IMO (they charged me a fee to cancel HBO); and the online guide/DVR is slow and poorly designed.  The big problem is that over the years I've registered with many websites using my email address.  So I am going through the tedious process of updating my accounts, since I won't be able to use that email address once I've discarded cablevision.

Which brings me to IEEE, a professional organization focused on computing which I joined while I was looking for work after the bubble burst.  It took me about ten minutes to figure out how to change my email address (and site opened two new windows and required me to log in twice during the process).  If you've never been to, it's clear that it wasn't designed by anyone possessing tremendous usability skills.  Having to log in a 2nd time isn't a huge ordeal, but it seems from the way finding the profile editor unfolded, the 2nd login wasn't intentionally designed as a security measure... it was more of an accidental security bonus.

The main problem is in making the profile editor so hard to find.  Once you've logged in, a link for "my profile" (or something along those lines) is absent from the page.  A website search revealed nothing.  Only after clicking 'membership FAQs' did I find a link to what turned out to be a different subdomain, which is where I had to log in again.

End of rant.

WCF looks cool

Last night at my .NET user group meeting the topic was WCF (Windows Communication Foundation); our speaker was a Microsoft evangelist from Hartford (his blog).  WCF is Microsoft’s next evolution beyond webservices; my take-aways from the presentation:

  • separation of concerns; focus on the business logic and not the plumbing
  • configuration magic (also seen as the rough edge of the current version of WCF; MS is working on improving that piece for admins)
  • unshackled from IIS
  • Retarget your end point to JSON, RSS, you name it, with just a few lines (one line?) of code

Of course there’s a lot more to it than that… I plan on looking into it more when I can find the time.  If you like webservices I think you're going to love WCF.  .NET 3.5 SP1 is coming out sometime this summer, they’re going to be adding further enhancements to WCF in that release.

A great day at Ellenville

Arrived at Ellenville launch yesterday about 2pm, found it blasting NW. Dave and Stan (?) were already on their XC adventure. It being too strong to launch, I decided to hike up to check out Bear Cliff and the new SW launch; in retrospect not a long walk but I wouldn't want to drag a glider up there without a lot more conditioning. Talked to some locals on the rock and had to sit down because of the strong surface wind. Saw a hawk hovering about 50 feet away.

Me at Bear Cliff

Got back to launch around 3:30, Tom Galvin and Chad were set up and getting ready to go. Chad launched about 4 and shot up like a rocket, Tom not long thereafter.

Stepped in some pilot's dog poop which I wasn't too happy about, but I kept my mouth shut and focused on setting up. (got home later with yellow socks, not sure what that's about)

I launched around 5 when it was still somewhat strong but had calmed down (direction was very consistent). Good launch; went up immediately, textured air but nothing too nasty. Hopped on a couple of express elevators to 4400 feet msl. Felt a bit of vertigo on the first turn in the core but shook it off and was fine (it's been a while since I've been in a nice strong thermal). The airport by the prison was probably doable. Whizzed by a bald eagle (I think) at my level, going the other way. Strong lift wasn't hard to find, and it wasn't crazy-crowded like it sometimes gets. Came in to land at sunset. Some bubbles around 600ft agl. Bled off altitude over the pumpkin patch, had a nice 2-step landing about 20 feet from the bullseye without doing anything stupid down low. Flight time: 2 hours 46 minutes; felt like 30 minutes. I think I've finally fixed my launch and approach problems, just need to repeat it a few times for consistency. Feeling pretty good this will be my first year for XC.

Software I wouldn't want to be without

Here's a smattering of software I wouldn't want to be without on my Windows work computer:

FastStone Capture for Windows
This is a great screen capture utility.  Unobtrusive, efficient, powerful, simple & easy to use.

Visual differencing and merging tool for Windows.

Free Microsoft tool for synchronizing folder pairs.

Secure password storage program.  Main build for Windows; builds available for Linux/Mac and handheld platforms.

Secure screen sharing. Help family and friends with their computer problems.

Mozilla Firefox
It's not my primary browser but the developer plugins can be life savers.

Powerful text editor.  I know there are others out there that developers like; this is one I've been using for years... it's quite good.  Perhaps if I have time I'll play with other text editors I've heard about.

Super Unleaded Hitting the $4 Mark in Connecticut

I went to fill up my tank on the way home from class tonight... holy crud, super unleaded is now $3.9999 (four dollars for all practical purposes).  I use regular; that was $3.80 ($3.9999).  Taking the train to work is looking more and more inviting.

Vista 64 + Palm = no joy

Well, I'm close to being fed up with trying to get my Palm TX to play nice with Vista 64.  This is the third time in six months I've had to uninstall Palm desktop, clean the registry, etc ad nauseum; and I still can't get hotsync to work.  So it seems I must ditch the Palm or ditch Vista 64.  Looks like I'll be performing an OS install this weekend.

Just for fun, here's an error I got to click through about a dozen times when I reinstalled Palm desktop:


Sounds like a conundrum to me.


Does anyone really need a dictionary in their pocket any more?

Palm has some things on sale on their website, including this dictionary - thesaurus for $9.95 after a rebate:

Ten years ago if I had seen something like this, I would have thought it was really cool (and it probably would have been a lot more money). But in this day and age, is something like this more trouble than it's worth? Even if I was a prolific writer, I'm not so sure:

  • Most writers will have a laptop or desktop computer
  • Most people with computers are connected to the Internet and can access or, two of my favorite language sites
  • Most computers have a built-in thesaurus
  • It makes more sense to use available tools on the computer (assuming one is writing on a computer) where, for instance, one can leverage the clipboard, than to switch to a handheld device

I suppose if you do your writing on the Palm (or other handheld), then yes, it is a good place to have a lookup tool. But as much as I like my TX, Graffiti is a poor substitute for a good keyboard (I still haven't gotten used to Graffiti 2).


HD-DVD is dead; long live HD-DVD

Yes, being an early adopter is overrated.  A bit over a year ago I went to a CompUSA in Orange, CT and purchased the xbox 360 HD-DVD add-on, which came with Peter Jackson's King Kong.  At that time HD-DVD movies were outselling BluRay by a ratio of two to one.  Within six weeks the tide of sales had turned completely to BluRay's favor, a fact that sat uncomfortably with me.

Generally I've been happy with the player and the few movies I've purchased in the interim (although the audio output of the xbox player is limited to Dolby 5.1... no DTS).  The image quality is fantastic; King Kong is a good demonstration of what the format is capable of.  I've been cautious about buying movies, limiting myself to the occasional bargain (under $20) due to the unclear direction the HD market was going.  So, the tally on movies:

  • King Kong
  • Serenity
  • Apollo 13
  • The Last Samurai
  • Unforgiven
  • The Thing
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Batman Begins
  • GoodFellas
  • 300

As of today, it's official: HD-DVD is dead.  After a number of major defections of content-providers and retailers, Toshiba, the only manufacturer of dedicated stand-alone HD-DVD players, has announced it is throwing in the towel.  I haven't decided yet if I will try to sell any of this gear (player and movies) or tried to find out if it even has any marginal value.  All told this represents an investment of about $360 (King Kong came with the player, 300 was a gift from my sister) before taxes.   It's difficult to find a standalone BluRay player for that much.

The good news is that the war is over... I just happened to throw my lot in with what turned out to be the wrong camp.

I've seen some recent assertions in articles about this business (interviews with those who have a stake) that even BluRay has a limited lifespan... downloadable movies are expected to increasingly compete with permanent disks in the home.  I do see the logic in this... but I hope that this doesn't mean the eventual death of BluRay.  The quality of downloadable HD movies (at least on xbox live) is limited to 720p... nice but not nearly as good as 1080p.  The extras are also missing from downloadable movies (commentary tracks, featurettes, etc.) So long as the image quality and bonus features are absent from downloadable movies, I think there will be a market for the videophile to get movies in a HD format (that now being the defacto BluRay).   Anectodatally DVDs have been a huge business for the movie studios.  I'm hoping BluRay will gain sufficient momentum that it continues to gain traction in the market.

So, what's next?  It's unlikely that I'll buy a PS3... I'm too much of a video game junkie to want to get another game system.  The standalone players are too highly priced; unfortunately now that there is no competition it will probably take longer for the prices to soften.  It's been a rather expensive year for me in car repairs, and I still have some more hang gliding investments to make this year.  But there is a BluRay standalone player in the future for me, it's just a matter of time.

For now, I'll just enjoy replays of these movies that I have, so long as my HD-DVD player keeps functioning.

Latin is forbidden on xbox?

I tried changing the motto on my xbox gamer tag to "Ad astra, per aspera." It means, 'To the stars, through hardship.' But xbox doesn't like this:


I can understand disallowing expletives, but latin? I'm guessing they must be screening with a white list, since none of the words are english. Pretty lame.