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.

 

aspnet, net comments edit

Ran into an issue this morning where I was working on an IIS instance that just could not for the life of it create an AppDomain to run any ASP.NET applications.

Failed to execute request because the App-Domain could not be created. Error: 0x80131522

The server was running a mixture of ASP.NET 1.1 and 2.0 applications and should have been working just fine.  I looked at the application setup, the app pool setup, the application mappings… everything was in order.

I created a second IIS server instance, new app pools, and new applications pointed at the same code as the first server instance - everything worked.  I compared app pool settings - the same.  Compared application settings - the same.  The file permissions were the same (pointed to the same physical files).  The users things were executing as were the same, but it worked.

I even went so far as to uninstall and re-install ASP.NET 1.1 and 2.0 with the server.  No change.

After investigating, you know what the difference was?

The troubled server instance had an ISAPI filter in it - specifically one to force a certain version of the .NET CLR to load up

  • and the working server instance did not.  After removing the ISAPI filter in the troubled server instance, everything suddenly started working again.  Problem solved.

There didn’t seem to be enough overt logging to determine exactly why this was causing a problem.  Since the filter was forcing .NET 1.1 to load, I hypothesize that having .NET 1.1 loaded into the server process was trashing things as soon as .NET 2.0 tried to start up.  I’m not sure why that would be exactly, but I’m guessing somewhere in the bowels of the system there was a BadImageFormatException (1.1 trying to read/instantiate 2.0 stuff) and ended up resulting in no AppDomains for anyone.  I’d have investigated cause further but for various reasons reaching a verifiable solution was very time-sensitive and once we’d resolved the issue, determining root causes beyond the presence of the ISAPI filter was not pursued.

Long story short - if you’re having trouble not being able to create an AppDomain in ASP.NET, don’t forget to check your ISAPI filters.

gaming, xbox comments edit

It happened again last night.

Jenn and I decided we’d sit down and watch some of Heroes Season 1 on HD DVD.  (We were specifically interested in some of the cool special features, like revealing the hidden helix in each episode and so forth.)  I fired up the Xbox 360 and noticed there was a dashboard update.  You can’t really decline to take the updates, so I took it.

We got about halfway into the first episode when the screen froze.  Picture still on the screen, but not moving and no sound coming out.

Well, sometimes crap happens, and I’ve accepted that.  It’s not too often, and usually a reboot will fix it.  I turned the power off, then turned it back on and it never got past the startup logo.  Halfway into the logo it froze again.

I’ve been through the troubleshooting steps before:

  1. Cycle the power.
  2. If that doesn’t fix it, make sure to remove all of the discs in the machine and cycle the power.
  3. If that doesn’t fix it, disconnect all the peripherals including the hard drive and any memory cards and cycle the power.
  4. If that doesn’t fix it, leave the peripherals disconnected, unplug the console from the wall, wait one minute, plug the console back in, and turn it on.
  5. If that doesn’t fix it, call support.

I did all that, ended up calling support, and long story short, I’m sending the console in again because the guy says it sounds like the system software is hosed.  This part of the support call was the most awesome:

Me: I can’t get past the initial startup logo. It freezes halfway in. Support Guy: [Runs me through all the steps I already did.]  Is it working now? Me: No. Support Guy: Is the console set to the correct time? Me: I’d tell you, but I can’t get past the initial startup logo. Support Guy: …oh.  Right.

This will be my third repair, yielding my fourth console (assuming they send me another refurb).  The first time, the console stopped registering discs in the drive.  That was when I first learned about the wacky DRM scheme and the problems you have after repair.  The second time, I got the Red Ring of Death and got to go through the DRM hassle again.  I don’t want to discourage anyone from an Xbox 360 because I truly love mine - I wouldn’t put up with this garbage otherwise.  But this does seem pretty ridiculous.

Here are some things Microsoft could do to make it up to me:

  • Send me a second console free.  I think there should be some sort of lemon law or something where if you get to the fourth console you get a second console free to use as a “backup” for the next time you have trouble.
  • Send me two repair boxes.  One to send my console in now, and one with a pre-authorized RMA number so I can skip the hassle of calling support and just send the next console in when it goes tits up.
  • Give me a medal.  Sort of like a Purple Heart, but for severe Xbox trauma.  Something that says, “We know you’ve put up with a lot, and we want to recognize you as one of the die-hards.”
  • Free Xbox Live Gold for life.  And maybe a couple of games, just for being a good sport.

I’m also thinking that there should be some sort of gamerscore achievement.

Three Console Repairs - Achievement
Unlocked!

There’s a forum on the Xbox site about this update.  I guess I’m not the only one who got hosed by this update, but I’m sure that happens with every update.  I’ve heard about previous updates where people got hosed but I was just fine.  YMMV, I guess.

net, vs comments edit

As new releases of .NET and Visual Studio come out, I find there’s something really missing from them.

Installer technology improvements.

Sure, there’s ClickOnce.  Sure, there are new and interesting ways to deploy web projects.  But I’m talking about better, simpler ways to create good old “setup.exe.”  Where are those improvements?  Does it bother anyone else that there’s never been a really good, supported way to build .vdproj files except through Visual Studio directly?

The community seems to have settled on one of three options:

  • Build .vdproj using devenv.exe from a command line.
  • Use WiX instead of .vdproj.
  • Skip MSI altogether and look at some other install technology like InstallShield or NSIS or something.

I sort of feel like the lack of attention to making this easy (like, officially supported by MSBuild) is one of those glaring holes in functionality the way, oh, almost everything glares at me from Sandcastle.

Here’s my proposal for the Visual Studio team:

  • Lose the .vdproj project format.
  • Use WiX in Visual Studio and have a converter from .vdproj to WiX.
  • Enable MSBuild to build WiX.

I’m positive there are glaring problems with my simple proposal, not the least of which is that WiX is a whole separate product (with its own VS add-in to enable IDE support), but the premise holds.  It doesn’t look like WiX has a lot of churn; maybe integrate it into VS/MSBuild the same way Apple uses WebKit for Safari and still releases “official updates.”  Something.  Just make it better.