The B-52s play the Oregon Zoo. Yes, this is a horrible picture. Trust
me, it's
them.Jenn and I went on a little adventure on Friday night and saw The B-52s live at the Oregon Zoo. The zoo has a pretty awesome concert series going this year and we figured since we’d never been to a concert at the zoo before, this would be a good one to start with.

The tickets let us into the zoo at 4:00p, the doors to the amphitheater opened at 5:00p, and the show started at 7:00p. We got there about 4:30p and the line was already super long, so I guess now we know - get there at 4:00p. We still ended up getting decent seats - not awesome, but decent - about halfway back.

The only real problem was the rain. Between, say, 5:00p and 7:15p it was raining like a torrential downpour, so Jenn and I were sitting on these little lawn chairs we brought, huddled under a blue plastic tarp, sucking down a $25 pizza and a $6 drink. Not a big deal since the opening band, The 88, was okay… but not awesome. (It reminded us a little of the Paul and Storm song “Opening Band.”)

Then The B-52s came out and the rain stopped (or, at least, kept to a very, very light drizzle), and people stood up and danced. As much as you can “dance” in the middle of a soaked-out zoo amphitheater, that is, so it was more standing and bobbing up and down. But there was definitely movement.

They totally rocked. I’m a latecomer to the whole B-52s thing, so the stuff I’m most familiar with is off the Cosmic Thing album and a few of the radio hits. They played some that I wasn’t familiar with but liked a lot so I ended up doing a little Amazon spree to get a few of the earlier albums. Kate Pierson still has it and is still one of my favorite voices, and Fred Schneider with his unmistakeable sprechgesang style is just fantastic.

Their part of the show ran, oh, maybe an hour and a half, then they were done, but it was a great 90 minutes. Hearing “Love Shack” and “Rock Lobster” live was worth the price of admission. “Knock a little louder, Portland!”

media, windows comments edit

I was noticing some of the disk access on my Windows Home Server was running a bit sluggish and I thought about how usually when this happens on other computers, I’ll run a defrag… but since Windows Home Server has a different filesystem, you can’t really just do a stanard defrag, can you?

Turns out, there are Windows Home Server defrag products.

The two that seem to be the most popular are PerfectDisk 10 and Diskeeper 2009. Both of those have WHS-specific versions that integrate nicely with the WHS console and understand that filesystem. There’s a great head-to-head review of these products over at We Got Served. The end result? It’s a tie - they are comparable products.

I ended up choosing PerfectDisk based on the price point. It costs just over half of what Diskeeper costs ($50 vs. $80) and I found this coupon code (SUMMERFUN20 - expires June 30) over at Philip Churchill’s site that got me $10 off that so I’ve got WHS defrag for $40. Can’t beat that.

UPDATE 1/26/2010: I noticed after about a couple of weeks of PerfectDisk for WHS use that I was getting health warnings every three or four days on my WHS system disk. At first I thought I was going to have to replace the disk, but on a hunch I disabled defragmentation of the system drive. While the warnings on the system drive stopped, I did get a warning on another drive, so I disabled PerfectDisk on the WHS entirely. Since then I haven’t gotten any disk health warnings. I’ve run all the disks through extensive diagnostics so I have to blame PerfectDisk for the warnings. I’m going to post to their user community and see if anyone else is having the same issue, but in the meantime, YMMV.

UPDATE 2/5/2010: I’ve started talking with PerfectDisk support about the issues I’m seeing. I’ll keep updates running on the explanatory blog entry.

OK, so I’m familiar with those blogs that basically just scrape your RSS feed and steal your content word-for-word, and I’m a victim of several of those myself. It’s always annoying when someone refers me to one of the articles on those blogs and then I’m like, “Uh… yeah… I wrote that. Months ago.”

I just got an anonymous comment, though, that pointed me to a new and interesting level of that sort of content theft. The funny thing is, they accused me of being the thief. Anonymously, but still, the accusation bugs me.

The article in question is my set of instructions for getting the most out of Twhirl. I posted that back on April 22, 2008. The anonymous comment told me I had plagiarized an article on a blog that was posted on February 18, 2009. The URL of the ripped-off article is (I’m not hyperlinking it because I’m not giving that ripoff any Google juice. Note, also, that IE8 crashes on certain pages on that site… I don’t know if it’s trying to do something malicious or if that’s just IE8, but you’ve been warned.)

This copy actually required a human being to reword the article. It’s got exactly the same points, the same steps to create a custom Twhirl theme, everything… but sentence structure was switched. For example:

My sentence: Turn off “prefix tweets with sender’s name.” Their sentence: You can turn off the prefixing of tweets with the sender’s name.

My sentence: Turn off “mark received tweets as new.” Their sentence: Turn off all new tweets as being marked.

If you open the articles side-by-side, it’s a blatant theft of my content, yet I’d classify this as far more annoying than the robotic theft of my content wholesale because this level of theft actually requires a human to tweak it. And the fact that someone accused me of stealing my own content? ARGH.

net comments edit

Typemock released a new tool you can use to identify potential deadlock conditions via unit tests called Typemock Racer. If you’ve wondered how to test thread safety and such, this is for you.

Plus, with the release, they’re giving away free licenses. Try Racer out, blog about the experience, and tell Typemock about it, and you’ll get a license for Racer. The full details are over on the Typemock blog.

media, windows comments edit

I finally got a chance to try out the Netflix integration with Windows Media Center last night, and I have to say - the playback quality is horrible. Like, really, truly bad.

The test:

  • Pick a movie from my instant queue. From that movie, pick a section as the test.
  • Watch the section of the movie from the Xbox 360.
  • Watch the section of the movie through Windows Media Center (Silverlight based player).
  • On the same PC as the Windows Media Center test, watch the section of the movie through the normal Netflix streaming player (Windows Media Player based player).

I ran the test. The results:

  • The Xbox 360 had the best picture and sound quality. Streaming was smooth with no hiccups and the video came through in HD. Initial video buffering was fast and playback started in a couple of seconds.
  • The standard Netflix player (Windows Media Player based) was the next best. The video wasn’t as high quality as the Xbox 360, but the video was smooth and watchable, and the audio was reasonable. Initial video buffering was fast and playback started in a couple of seconds.
  • The Windows Media Center integrated player (Silverlight based) was unwatchable. The video looked like it wanted to stream in HD, but something (network? processor speed? video card?) wasn’t liking it so much, so the video was very jumpy, like you’d see about half a second of video, it’d freeze, the sound would stop, then the video would resume, the sound would resume, and the whole stuttering effect would repeat. Initial video buffering literally took like ten full minutes - I left the room, got a drink, came back, and it was still going.

I ran the test on the same physical PC with the same network connection to try to rule out hardware or network issues. I didn’t go to the lengths of determining if the two players stream from different back-end servers or anything, though, so there well may be something on the network that caused the issue.

Long story short, though, I’m totally unimpressed. I had high hopes, too. Guess I’ll stick with the Xbox 360 streaming for now.