General Ramblings comments edit

I don’t travel much, and I’ve really only been off the west coast of the US three times - once when I was about four on a visit to Washington DC that I don’t remember; once on a family trip to Hawaii when I was in high school; and once on my honeymoon last year to Aruba.  I’ve never been to Canada.  I’ve never been to Mexico.

When I got the opportunity to go to Asheville, North Carolina, for three days on business, I thought that was pretty cool.  A great opportunity to break out of my common “travel zone,” which is mainly either Seattle, WA, or Las Vegas, NV.

I won’t go into the business trip part of things - what really struck me here was my bad luck with the actual travel proper.  It makes me wonder if this is common or if I just got the short end of the stick, as I usually do.  I don’t really have a frame of reference, so I’ll throw it out there.

I got notified pretty late in the game (a little less than a week) that I needed to fly, so when I booked the tickets, I was basically left with two choices:  Either fly out early Sunday morning and get to North Carolina late Sunday night, or fly out Sunday evening and take the red eye to North Carolina to get there first thing Monday morning.

I should have taken the “throw away your Sunday” option, but instead I opted for the red eye.  I had things I wanted to do on Sunday and I sort of figured that the good ol’ red eye is sort of a rite of passage for travelers.  Everyone’s got a red eye story, right?  Now I’ve got one.

I’m a tall guy.  When I booked my [coach] tickets, I specifically asked for an aisle seat so I’d have a little room to stretch out.  This was particularly important to me on the cross-country flight because I get pretty cramped up in coach so it’s nice to be able to stick my leg out into the aisle rather than riding the seat in front of me like a horse.

The flight east had three legs - Portland to Seattle, Seattle to Charlotte, Charlotte to Asheville.

From Portland to Seattle we were on a little puddle-jumper prop plane.  I got stuck in the back row by the window - not an aisle seat.  The back row was a lot like sitting at the back of the bus - it was more like a long bench with arm rests than a row of seats.  No seat reclining here - you’re flush against the back of the plane.  The flight attendant couldn’t even get the snack cart back to us; we served ourselves off the opposite end of the cart.  Lame.

From Seattle to Charlotte, the red eye, it was even more special.  The plane was a fairly large Airbus model, so I had more chance of getting a decent seat.  Instead, I got a quadruple-whammy.  My seat was on the window, so again, no aisle.  It was in front of the emergency exit, so no reclining.  It was in the aisle across from the bathroom, so even when the cabin lights went down, it was never dark because (when no one was stinking up the bathroom) the door was open and the light was glaring out.  And, even had all that been okay, the lady next to me snored like a chainsaw.

I think I got two bad hours’ worth of sleep on that one.

Arriving at Charlotte airport, I noticed that there are rocking chairs everywhere.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe that’s a North Carolina thing.  I thought it was sort of interesting, though.  (They had the rocking chairs at Asheville airport, too.)

From Charlotte to Asheville it was another puddle-jumper, this time a jet.  I didn’t get the back row, but did get another window seat.  At least the flight was short.

I arrived about a half hour late for the meeting I was supposed to be in.  My friend that was traveling with me rented a car and we headed out.

The roads around Asheville are the most confusing thing I’ve ever encountered.  I’m not sure if maybe they’re doing a lot of construction, but there are lots of instances where a single highway might be referred to by two or three different numbers.  Or if you get directions from the Hertz stand, like we did, they might tell you to “stay in the center lane to get on I-240” but there are only two lanes (which one is the center?) and there’s no damn sign indicating anything about I-240.

We made a full circle around the city of Asheville, at one point even leaving the boundaries of the map we had, before finding the way to where we were going.  The return trip to the airport, two days later, was no better.  If you get directions that tell you to “take the exit to 26,” do you follow the sign that says “I-40” or “Future 26?”  (I’ll give you a hint - the “Future 26” exit doesn’t get you to 26.)

The puddle jumper back from Asheville to Charlotte was an interesting experience, more from the airport standpoint than from the flight.  It was sort of like flying out of the airport from Wings.  Everyone knows everyone.  They don’t use a PA system - they just talk really loud.  Just… very interesting.  Oh, and I got another window seat on that flight.

From Charlotte to San Francisco (yes, I returned through SFO) I got a seat in the middle of two people, which is actually worse than getting the window seat.  On one side I had a skater punk kid who was actually very quiet, which was nice.  On the other side of me I had a guy who very badly needed a shower and, when he wasn’t trying to talk to me, was talking to himself and making hand gestures like he was kung fu fighting.

San Francisco to Portland was the only leg of the trip where I got my aisle seat, and by far it was the best bit of travel I had the whole time.  I actually had a whole row to myself and the flight attendants kept throwing me extra snacks and drinks because I was in the back near their station.  They were super cool.

The rest of the week I spent catching up and not being very productive - filing expense reports, returning emails, and generally doing administrivia that didn’t get done while I was out.  But I was super tired and am just now really starting to level out sleep-wise.

Next time, I’m not taking that damn red eye.

GeekSpeak comments edit

I’ve got a lot of background processes running and killing my disk performance with all the I/O they’re doing.  One of the primary offenders is the TortoiseSVN cache that helps put the icon overlays in Explorer.  Several folks I know disabled the cache altogether, but I like the icons.

Rather than disable the cache, you can optimize the paths it looks at so it only actually looks at working copies and not your whole disk.  If you keep all of your working copies in specific known locations, this is a really simple thing to do.  For example, I keep all of my checked out code in one of three places - a “dev” folder I have, the “Visual Studio 2005” folder in “My Documents,” and the “Visual Studio Projects” folder in “My Documents.”

To optimize the disk usage…

  1. Right-click on your desktop and select “TortoiseSVN -> Settings…”
  2. In the tree view, find the “Look and Feel/Icon Overlays” branch.
  3. In the “Exclude Paths” box, put C:\* to exclude the entire C drive.  If you have more drives than that, exclude them all at the top level.  Separate the values by newlines.
  4. In the “Include Paths” box, list all of the locations you have working copies, separated by newlines.  Again, this is easier if you keep all of your working copies in a specific folder or set of folders.  Using my example, this is what I put in the “Include Paths” box: C:\dev\* C:\Documents and Settings\tillig\My Documents\Visual Studio 2005\* C:\Documents and Settings\tillig\My Documents\Visual Studio Projects\*

    And here’s a screen shot: TortoiseSVN icon overlay options - set the "Exclude paths" and
"Include paths"
values

  5. Click OK to apply the changes.
  6. Either reboot or open Task Manager and kill “TSVNCache.exe” so it restarts when needed.  You have to restart it for these options to take effect.

After I did this, the icon overlays still worked great but the disk I/O went down to nearly nothing.  YMMV.

GeekSpeak comments edit

I just did a quick peek at my feed in RSSBandit and it looks like my images aren’t showing up in my feed.  Turns out it’s because, in many cases, I specify image URLs as “/path/to/image.gif” rather than “http://www.paraesthesia.com/path/to/image.gif” - relative rather than absolute.

I’m looking into ways to fix this in an automated fashion.  I don’t want to have to manually go back and edit every post that has an image in it, and I’m sure there are links that are also specified in relative format that won’t work in feeds.  I found a WordPress plugin that does exactly what I need for exactly the same reasons.  I just need to find a .NET HttpModule that does this (that I can selectively enable just for the feed).

If I can’t find it, I guess I’ll have to write it.

General Ramblings comments edit

Saturday was my second laser hair removal treatment, and I won’t lie, I was worried.

Since my first treatment four weeks ago, I’d discovered that there’s really no such thing as permanent hair removal - it’s more permanent hair reduction. I started questioning whether it’d be worth finishing, considering the cost and pain involved. On that point, I figured less is still more; I’ve destroyed too many pillowcases with this beard and it causes me too many skin issues, so any reduction is worth it.

Also, there was the issue of pain. I’d had half of my neck done with a MeDioStar laser and it was literally the worst pain of my life. The rest of my neck and face were done with a Dermo Flash IPL, which is far less painful… but also less effective. It took about three weeks to see the difference, but it was clear - the MeDioStar definitely cleared the hair better than the Dermo Flash. The Dermo Flash areas were slightly reduced in overall hair quantity, so I can’t say it didn’t work at all, but the MeDioStar area actually had some totally hair-free spots. There’s a visible difference.  Jessica, the technician, was right when she told me that during my first treatment.

That difference caused me to panic. What if the only option I had was MeDioStar? Could I handle it? Admittedly, I was sort of locked in regardless - I’d started and need to finish.  I can’t go through life with this half-a-neck-full-of-hair thing I’ve got right now.

The thought of several more MeDioStar experiences and that panic made me lose sleep. For about a week, I stressed about it hard. I went through the various stages of grief, pulling in to Acceptance on Friday.

Saturday was the treatment so I popped a Vicodin I found in the back of a drawer and headed in.

When I got there, I went into the treatment room and steeled myself for the worst.  Jessica surprised the crap out of me when I got there, though: since I’d been there, they’d bought a new laser!  This one was an IPL (intense pulsed light, not actually a real laser) like the Dermo Flash, but they’ve had much more success with coarse hair like mine using this one and - get this - it’s less painful than Dermo Flash.  Less painful?  And effective?  Hell yeah.  I actually heard Handel’s Messiah playing and saw light streaming down from the heavens.

The name of this new device is the Aesthera Isolaz.  Their web site books it as “painless” and, while it’s not painless, it’s certainly far less painful than anything else they’ve tried.  It looks sort of like a big canister vacuum with an LCD screen poking off the top of it.  The technician dabs some water on your skin, then takes the hose on the Isolaz and puts it on the area you’re getting the hair removed from.  The hose sucks part of your skin up into it and then there are two bright light flashes - the first one is just sort of warm, the second feels like a tiny rubber band snap (about half as much snap as Dermo Flash).  The suction lets go and they move on to the next section.  So it sort of is like a canister vacuum - it has the suction and everything.  (I guess they treat acne with it, too, and the suction turns up so powerful it sucks the goop out of zits.  That’s some pretty powerful suction!)

When you’re done, it feels a bit like a sunburn for a few hours, but even toward that evening the redness was going away and the sunburn feeling was dwindling.  By the next morning, it was all better.

It’ll take a couple of weeks before I can vouch for the effectiveness of it, but Jessica told me they had pretty good luck with it, and that builds my hope.  I don’t think I’ll be totally done in just six treatments the way we originally thought, but that’s okay; if it’s working and it happens to take a couple of extra treatments, I’m cool with that.

aspnet comments edit

Ran into this today and it’d been so long since I’d fought with this issue, it took me some time to re-figure it out.  So, as a reminder to myself…

If you’re getting a 404 Not Found on an ASP.NET application running on Windows Server 2003/IIS6 that should be working just fine - the files are definitely there and the permissions are correct and everything - don’t forget to make sure ASP.NET is enabled in the IIS Administration Console under “Web Service Extensions.”

If you uninstall and re-install ASP.NET, these settings get reset to “Prohibited” so ASP.NET won’t work.  You’ll need to change them to “Allowed.”

Web Service Extensions inside IIS6 admin
console.