General Ramblings comments edit

I play the IT guy in my family just like the rest of you geeks out there, but some of the folks in my family have been making strides in learning about tech stuff lately and I’ve been pretty impressed. My mom has figured out how to get on Xbox Live all by herself and play Beatles Rock Band with me online. That’s huge. But bigger still - my Grandpa just recently got his very first email account and has sent his first email. Huge, I’m telling you. I can’t tell you how proud I am of both of them. Great stuff that just makes me smile.

web comments edit

I’ve had to delete a few large directory trees in the last week or so and every time I do there’s trouble. Let me walk you through it.

I navigate to the folder I want to delete, click it, and hit Shift+Delete. I don’t want it to go to the Recycle Bin. Next thing I see is this awesome dialog for the next five full minutes, possibly longer:

"Preparing to Delete"

This lasts an interminable time and usually around the time I begin wondering what’s up, I realize: the confirmation dialog has popped under something else I’m working on. It won’t even be in a consistent spot. Sometimes it’s on a wholly different monitor than the “Preparing to Delete” dialog.

"Confirm Folder Delete"

OK, so I click “Yes” because I do want to delete the folder. I go about my merry way. At some point in the next, oh, ten or fifteen minutes, I notice that the progress dialog doesn’t seem to have… progressed. Time to start searching again. And what do I find if I minimize literally everything I’ve got open? Another confirmation pop-under:

"Confirm File Delete"

Honestly, I thought I’d already confirmed that I want the folder gone. But here we are, and we don’t want to see this again, so I click “Yes to All” and hope for the best. Another five minutes or so later, things are looking hung again… what gives? Minimize everything again. Oh, there it is.

"Confirm File Delete" dialog

Seriously? I could have sworn I clicked “Yes to All” on a nearly identical dialog not… oh, right, five minutes ago. You must have forgotten.

Now, I also hate when dialogs pop up and steal focus. BlackBerry Desktop Manager does that while you’re synchronizing and makes your computer unusable because every focus-stealing dialog has so many hot keys on it that if you’re typing an email, you’re bound to hit some hot key combination that formats your BlackBerry if the dialog pops up and steals focus.

What about having the confirmation dialog show up in the task bar and flash?

That way I would be able to see something is demanding my attention without needing to minimize everything, and if it pops up in a place I’m not expecting, I can easily switch to it by selecting it in the task bar.

I’m on WinXP right now at work (don’t ask, I don’t like it, either). Did this get fixed in Vista or Win7? Doubting it.

General Ramblings comments edit

It’s been a bit over a year since I posted about my hair removal progress and as I just finished up treatment #26 a week or so ago, I thought I’d recap a bit… if anything, as a note to self.

I started the process of getting my facial hair removed a little over two years ago. My facial hair is, to put it mildly, very coarse and causes all nature of dermatological issues if I let it grow even a little bit, not to mention it destroys sheets, pillowcases, necks on shirts, etc.

Hair removal is painful. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The more coarse your hair, the worse it is.

To that end, I started the first few treatments using a Dermo Flash, which is a less painful, more broad-spectrum sort of hair removal system. That helped to thin things down, but after the first few treatments we saw diminishing returns because it wasn’t powerful enough. I then switched to a MeDioStar laser-based treatment which was much more effective but also much more painful.

Since then, I’ve been alternating between the MeDioStar and a Syneron eLaser that combines laser and radio frequency. I’ve been having good results with this, with some spots on my chin and upper lip being the only stubborn areas we’re still working on.

Something to think about if you’re considering getting this done: You’re in for the long haul. That’s not just if you’re getting your face done, but anywhere. They can do a lot in a few treatments, but you’re not going in for five or six treatments and calling it good if you want to actually clear an area out. And once you’ve started, you can’t really turn back because you start getting patchy and it doesn’t look all that great.

Also, even today, it still hurts. Not nearly as bad as it did in my first treatment, but it hurts. On the upper lip it’s enough to bring tears to your eyes.

Had I known all that… I probably still would have done it. I don’t get the nasty ingrowns like I used to, I don’t tear up my pillowcases anymore, and I can kiss my wife without removing the top layer of her skin with my sandpaper beard.

I have a few more treatments (a total of 30) and we’ll see where I’m at then.

gaming, xbox comments edit

I ended up getting a copy of Zuma’s Revenge, the sequel to the original game that sucked both Jenn and I in so bad on PC and, later, on Xbox Live Arcade.

The premise of the original game is that you’re a little frog who sits in the middle of the screen. A line of colored balls scrolls in from off-screen along a path. As they scroll in, you can spit additional balls into the line to form chains of three or more, making them disappear. If the line gets too long, you lose. Here’s a screen from the original Zuma:

The original

It’s surprisingly addictive and fun. Fortunately, you get that and more with the sequel.

This time, they add new features like boss battles (at the end of several levels, you “fight” against a computerized opponent), movement (in some levels your frog scrolls left and right or can hop from one location to another), and power-ups (shoot cannonballs that destroy balls on-screen or lasers to precisely remove individual balls). Here’s a screen from the new game.


Seriously fun. Jenn and I have been playing quite a bit since we got it and have had a blast.

Now, admittedly, the main game seems to be slightly easier than the original Zuma. I’m not sure if that’s intentional or if maybe my hand-eye coordination has increased since playing the original, but we were able to get through the story mode of Zuma’s Revenge fairly quickly. Thankfully, there are a bunch of other game modes in Zuma’s Revenge that let you keep coming back for more, and those are more challenging (if that’s what you’re looking for).

Only real downside I can see is that they don’t have it on Xbox Live Arcade, just PC. I’m not a PC gamer, really, and our computer’s not geared for PC games, so I had to switch from full-screen to windowed mode and turn off the HD graphics. It still looks great, it was just slow with all the bells and whistles on.

If you’re into puzzle games, Zuma’s Revenge is worth checking out.

(Full disclosure: I got a free license for the game from Popcap.)

media, windows comments edit

I went ahead and pre-ordered my upgrades for Windows 7 today. I opted to get the “family pack” upgrade - three licenses to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium for $150. At $50/license, I couldn’t say no. I’ll start the upgrade with my Media Center front ends and do our primary laptop last, just so if anything happens to go south I’ll always have a working computer to go searching for help/fixes. Not that I anticipate anything going wrong, just… well, things that should be easy never are for me. I always seem to find that one edge case.

Anyway, if you’re looking to upgrade more than one computer, that three-pack might be the way to go. Considering a single upgrade license for Windows 7 Home Premium is $120, three licenses for $150 is a steal.