Category: Random

A Week with Windows 7 RC

Last Tuesday, I created a Windows 7 RC virtual machine for VMWare Fusion. As a fairly technical user of operating systems and the like, our internal IT department figured that I would be the right person to put this new OS through its paces.

Unlike a lot of people who are using Windows 7 and commenting on the new features and functionality, I am here to comment on how well it works with someone who is ingrained in a Windows XP workflow to get his job done.

As a virtual machine (2 processors, 1GB RAM, 40GB disk), Windows 7 is not as resource intensive as Vista threatened to be, and is just as responsive as my XP virtual machine is with the same machine configuration.

Subtle changes to the Start Menu and the Task Bar are easy to adapt to, and so far all of my applications run smoothly (I am using mainly Microsoft applications, so this should not be surprising).

My virtual machine doesn’t have an Aero compatible video card, so I don’t get all of the cool transparencies and visual effects, but frankly those are eye-candy. I need an OS that just works, and so far, Windows 7 lives up to expectations.

The most surprising thing is that there are no surprises. Building on 2-3 years of Vista development and improving the performance means that most applications already run efficiently. The only complaint I suppose is that the OS takes up a very substantial amount of the 40GB disk. However, as this is not the OS where I store media, pictures, etc., I am not as concerned as I would be if this was my primary computer.

That said, on an old Dell Latitude D610 (60 GB disk, 2 GB RAM, single core processor carved by cavemen) that I installed this the same OS on, it is running fine, except for a large amount of fan action that I didn’t hear when the same machine was running Ubuntu 9.04. As well, this older machine has no apps on it, other than Skype, and it has a large amount of the 60BG of disk still left.

Overall, as a day-to-day user of Windows, I am satisfied that Windows 7 is a giant leap over Vista, and I am looking forward to migrating my work permanently to this OS.

I-94s – Wii haz um

After 12 hours on the road, 20 minutes in Canada (well, Quebec), and a night in a really crappy hotel room, we are back home, with freshly minted I-94s.

In the immigration office, they were hesitant to hand us the I-94s because we still have valid H1-Bs. I had to insist that they give us them to support our Advanced Parole renewal. This is way too complicated (and expensive) and I just want my Green Cards…now.

So, a tip for all you travellers out there: Regardless of your status, and the insistence that you don’t need I-94s, never let them take them away, and try to get the border agents to issue them for EVERY crossing. I know it’s a pain in the ass, but it’s more of a pain in the ass to have to go back and get them.

Google Searches Always Bring Surprises

Since November 5 2004 (Geez! Have I been blogging that long?), I have written 1,744 posts (this is 1,745). So, as you can well imagine, I can’t remember whats in most of them. I know which ones are the most popular and what’s in those, but on the whole, I couldn’t tell you what’s in most of the posts I have put up in nearly four years.

So it always astounds me when someone goes to one the more obscure posts. Astounds me to the point that I have to go to the site and find out what I said.

The long tail meets the absent-minded.

The fading of blogging

Through 2007, the number of posts I made per day/week/month decreased steadily. I know post new items 2-3 items a month, or less. After 2 years of steady entries, I just didn’t have anything to add to the conversation.

Having been an A-list groupie for this entire period, I lost touch with the self-perpetuating scene. A comment that I saw on Top Gear summed it up: Jeremy Clarkson had another chat show host on, and they both commented on how all British chat show hosts end up appearing on each others shows.

That’s how blogging began to feel to me. I began to step back.

I stepped back from true, active day-to-day management of GrabPERF.

I drifted, intellectually and emotionally.

I found the sharp edge of my humor, which had wandered off and gone hitchhiking through the British Isles disguised as Roger Daltrey for six months.

The last few weeks I have been asking myself if I want to go back to blogging, if I want to continue to produce the random ideas for the world to see.

The death of my grandmother a few weeks ago brought my world back into sharp focus. Who is going to see these stories, these tales? Who will be the keeper of my intellectual flame? What will people know of me when I fade away.

I will be trying to storm back. My brain is here.


Ok…maybe that was delusional. But hang on for another wild ride.

The best times on a business trip…

Part of the problem with making a lot of East to West trips across the US is that the flights back are a nightmare for timing. You either lose most of a day or have to take a red-eye.

Well, taking the red-eye has only one advantage: you get to camp in the airline lounge and get some work done that you have been too tired/jetlagged to deal with.

I am in the United Red Carpet Lounge. It is 18:33 PDT, and my flight boards at 22:00 PDT. I have been here since 15:00 PDT. I have caught up with a client project, completed my (dreaded) weekly timesheet, booked accommodation for my Columbus, OH trip, and tidied up an analysis script that I use to process client measurement data.

Seems odd that this is the most productive time of the week.

This trip is a 48-hour turnaround from Boston to LA to finish up the project for a large client. The first half was handled by some colleagues, and was detailed here.

Then, when I get home, I have to go to NYC (Long Island City actually) for the day on Monday. And, as I mentioned above, Columbus which is set for the middle of the month.

Compared to some jet-setters out there, this is nothing. But I travelled so much between August 15 and November 15 that I went from 2,000 miles on United to well into Premier (24,000+ miles). This trip makes the fourth cross-country trip in 2.5 months. Not bad for a homebody.

I have three more hours. Think I will sit back and watch Trois Couleurs: Blanc.

Cursing the Days Lost

My wife doesn’t understand my fascination with Hunter Thompson. There are only a select few who do.

What most people don’t understand is that living with manic bipolar is living with Hunter inside your head every day. Raging. Screaming. Shooting at the peacocks while the sun rises. Spraying my optic nerve with a rogue fire extinguisher. Delivering calla lilies to soothe me when he has stepped over the line, laughing at me, with me, simultaneously.

That screaming vitality that HST lived every single day is bottled inside me, caged, rattling the bars, threatening to call a 450-pound Maori solicitor to beat some logic into my skull, from the inside out. The highly-attuned vision. Echoing sounds of madness. Inability to pay attention to the droning emptiness of my work life.

Some would call this a nightmare. Some days I do. Most days, I rock back on my heels, scratch my chin, grin, and smile. I know that the world around me is always in his sights, ranting, providing a constant commentary, arms waving manically, Chivas spilling on my synapses, another typewriter brutally blasted in the snow.

Hunter is the model of what rages inside me. The echo of a life restrained, held in check. Cursing the days lost.

Is Latin finally a dead language?

Just read a story on the BBC site where the chief Latinist (new word to me) bemoans the death of Latin. [here]

Although I would be the first to admit that the teaching of Latin has little relevance in today’s world, I found my lack of Latin a serious hindrance when I was considering the study of Medieval English History in graduate school.

It was offered as a course in high-school, by correspondence only. I often dreamed that I attended one of those brutal old English boarding schools, if only to receive some semblance of a highly impractical liberal and classical education.

I share Father Reginald Foster’s despair over the loss of Latin to our culture. The foundations of who we are, our political and legal structures, are found in Latin (Roman and Medieval; and yes there is a difference), and in Classical Greek. And those items that the Catholic Church tried to hide or destroy, the cultures of the East, and Islam held on to.

Losing the base languages of our global cultures leaves us with poor translations, interpretations of what was said, filtered through the passage of time.

Flickr: When the cable breaks…

When I lived in Victoria, BC, there was always a ship idling in the harbour, engine turning over, a low steady hum that was always there when you went to the water.

Well, they have built an on-shore power plant for that ship, and it looks like they may have brought in a new one, but the vessel is always there…waiting.

When a cable breaks out in the North Pacific, this ship is gone in an hour. Apparently there are cable repair ships stationed all over the world…waiting.

Here’s Neal Stephenson’s article on the first segment of FLAG, and the whole submarine cable business.

Crowsnest Pass: Memories in my blood

It’s the places that you go when you’re a child that stay with you for your whole life.
My grandparents lived their entire lives in the Crowsnest Pass. This narrow, sometimes forgotten section of the Rockies emptied itself of its coal to feed the engines of Canada and the world for more than a hundred years.

My grandfathers, and my great-grandfathers, all gave their lives to the dirty work of ripping this black gold from the bowels of the earth. Their bodies showed the scars of a life lived in darkness, straining to pull themselves through another day.

When it got to much, they drank. They fought. They dreamed. Some escaped, some took their own lives, many just survived.

The Alberta side of the Pass — no one who has spent any time in the area ever uses “Crowsnest Pass” — is slowly dying. The generation who mined underground is dying away. The next generation, and the one after them, has taken to tearing the tops off mountains in BC.

Or they just left, like my parents did. They empty carcasses of a life abandoned for economics are still there.

I was back there this summer for the first time since 1999. It has come a long way, but their is an aura, a feeling that the end is near. All the money from Calgary can’t save them. The old, independent life, the hardened bitterness, the brutal economics of coal that bred a people that accepted all into the brotherhood of the black gold, is gone.

There was a bluff outside the Pass community of Coleman, full of what the locals called “black diamonds”. I’m not sure if it was jet (made from extra compression on some of the coal deposits), or obsidian (from the volcanic activity that dominated the area in previous epochs). Sometimes, if the light was right, you could see the light reflecting off the pieces showing through the bluff.

Then, about 15 years ago, in order to straighten the highway and let more huge trailer trucks roar through Coleman on their way to the rest of the world, the bluff was blown away.

Sometimes, in the rush of time, the memories in our blood get blown away, each individual event glistening in the sun one last time, before being scooped up and swept away.

The Size of Storage

Today, I took an inventory of the portable storage solutions I have with me at all times.

The Size of Storage

On the bottom, a Maxtor OneTouch III Mini Edition at 100GB. In the middle, an 8GB Zen Microphoto. On to, a mostly useless iPod Shuffle that I use as a thumbdrive.

The top two are provided for context. I also purchased a 300GB Maxtor OneTouch III that I use for my media files.

Based on it’s size, the Maxtor Mini must use a standard 100GB laptop drive in a sleek aluminum housing. So far, It’s a dream. Slides into my bag, acts as a backup, and stores larger media files for when I’m on the road.

But the whole idea that I can slip nearly 110GB of storage into my pack is insane. And next year, this will be old school.

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