Sunday, October 08, 2006

This is an attempt to publish a blog from Writely ...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Moved ...

This site has moved to

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Paralles on Mac Pro ...

Paralles continues to struggle getting their product to work on the Mac Pro.

I first purchase Parallels for my Mac Book Pro, and on that system it works great. When Apple announced the Mac Pro workstation I ran right out and purchase one. My rational was that the added power of the dual Xenon chipped workstation would significantly improve my productivity, including the .NET C# coding. Thats the beauty of Parallels. It lets you run Windows XP in a window on a Mac running OS X. Its so cool. I can code C# .NET on a Mac.

Parallels runs perfectly on my Mac Book Pro. But either causes a kernel panic, or delivers a meaningless error message of "Unable to communicate with hypervisor!" on the Mac Pro. From a users perspective, what is the value of this message? How does this help get Parallels to work? In disgust I fired off a complaint to Parallels which will most likely do as much good as their error message. Maybe they will surprise me and email back a fix. I won't hold my breath.

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon though. VMWare announced that they will release a version of their workstation product for the Mac. I have used their PC workstation product and it is excellent. When they enter the Mac market, Parallels is gone.

Monday, September 04, 2006

WriteRoom ...

I stumbled upon an very interesting writing tool called WriteRoom. What's interesting is that it isolates you from the multitude of distractions of working in our digital environment. It does this by controlling your entire screen. In the default mode you are presented with a black screen. Typed words are green. For those old enough to remember, its reminiscent of the mainframe terminal days. Very retrograde. WriteRoom uses the escape key to toggle between its default display and your cluttered desktop. Its a free download ... give it a try, it may surprise you, as it did me with how well it improved my focus.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

One job ...

I am back to working only one job. The timing could not be better. Next weekend is a three day weekend and I have no work commitments. It all belongs to me... YES!

Status of the ASP.NET, C# reading/study spree (pages read/total pages):

  • Pro C# 2005 and the .NET 2.0 Platform, Third Edition by Andrew Troelsen (616/954)
  • Programming C# : Building .NET Applications with C# by Jesse Liberty (320/612)
  • Pro ASP.NET 2.0 in C# 2005 by Matthew MacDonald and Mario Szpuszta (605/1210
  • Programming Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0 Core Reference by Dino Esposito (100/703)
  • Programming Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0 Applications: Advanced Topics by Dino Esposito (0/629)
  • Head First Design Patterns by Elisabeth Freeman, Eric Freeman, Bert Bates, and Kathy Sierra (206/629)
  • CLR via C#, Second Edition by Jeffrey Richter (648/648)
  • Design Patterns in C# by Steven John Metsker (12/430)

Status: (2507/5815) 43% complete.. Not to shabby. I did add Design Patterns in C# to my reading list. It was referenced to often to ignore. Jeffrey Richter’s book, CLR via C# was so good that I had a hard time putting it down. This is a must read for all C# coders.

MacBook Pro CD problem is back...

Problem not solved. While attempting to install DSL service using a provided CD I got the three whirrs eject response. Doing the “option”, “apple”, “p”, “r” keys on a restart had no effect this time. I called Apple technical support, who concluded that the CD drive is defective. They sent out a prepaid shipping container which arrived the following day. The system is now with Apple for repair. Fortunately, I purchased one of the new Mac Pro systems so am not experiencing the dreaded Apple withdrawal pains.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

MacBook Pro CD Problem ... Resolved

Problem solved. The solutions was simple, and I should probably have known what to do. To put it simply, on restart, after the initial audio announcement, hold the “option”, “apple”,”p”, and “r” keys until the startup audio announcement sounds a second time. Did this, and now when I insert a CD the MacBook Pro no longer gives me the three whirrs eject response.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

MacBook Pro CD Problem …

I am having problems with my MacBook Pro CD drive. It can’t read some CD’s. Specifically, the Apple CD that came with the new wireless Mighty Mouse just gets ejected. I experienced this same problem while attempting to install Windows XP Pro in both Bootcamp and Parallels. I also experienced problems ripping CD’s with iTunes. In every case, the system attempts to read the CD three times … I can hear the whirr of the drive spinning up at each attempt. Then the CD is ejected.

When the system can’t read a CD in iTunes, iTunes freezes up and the disk just spins… Force Quite iTunes is required to eject the offending CD.

There is no mention of this problem on Apples web site. However, a little searching on the Internet yields a few others with similar experiences. I did discover a work-around. Its not a good one but it works. What I do is make a copy of the CD on my Dell work computer. For some reason the MacBook Pro will accept the copied CD. Now that’s a good advertisement for the Dell and not so good for Apple.

My intention is to contact Apple for resolution. I hate the thought of having to ship the system off for repair or … replacement.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Two jobs ...

This has been a very busy month. Started a new 12 month contract while continuing 1/2 time putting the final touches on the last one. As the saying goes, “It never rains, but it ...” I do love it though. Both of these opportunities allow me to write lots of C# code. It just doesn’t get any better then this.

On top of all this great work, my Mom is visiting. She lives in Florida, not far from Disney World. She is used to the heat so our Phoenix temperatures really don’t bother her. Actually she enjoys our heat since our humidity is so low. It’s really great that she could come. We have lots of Mom’s cookies, and her world famous beet soup and home made noodles. We will be traveling to Florida for her next birthday, which is this coming February. Mom will be 90 years young. It will be a big bash with lots of family and friends.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Cool Vacation ...

The last few days were spent in a little cabin north of Payson, AZ, elevation about 9000 feet. So while the temperatures soared to 107F in Phoenix we enjoyed a nice 76F. The nearest civilization was some 17 miles away. We really roughed it in this 2000 sq/ft, three bedroom, two bath home, with all the amenities, i.e., electricity, hot water, AC, phone, etc.. The only thing we lacked was high speed internet. This was that longest I have been without an internet connection in years.

It was really good to get away and just relax. At this altitude and with all the fresh air I slept like a baby. Even took afternoon naps. The only computer time was spent on my daily journal entries. I did have some quality reading time. Made excellent progress on Pro C# 2005 and CLR via C#. Expect to complete each this month.

To top off this vacation, I purchased Sid Meier’s Civilization IV. I really wanted this game, however, should not have made the purchase. It’s a superior game, but a huge time sink. My first game took almost 3 hours. I love the game but it should come with warning label on the package; DANGER: TIME BLACK HOLE.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Parallels ...

Its been a very busy two weeks since my last post. We are in the final weeks of of completing a major development project at work. Its been a fun project, with lots of challenges, however its time to make an end. I only have two more features to code, then some cleanup. There will be some bug fixes and the typical last minute changes once the complete product is viewed by management. Overall its been a really fun project which has sharpened my ASP.NET C# skills.

I have added two more books to my reading collection. They are “A Developers Guide to SQL Server 2005”, Bob Beauchemin and Dan Sullivan, and “Design Patterns in C#”, Steven John Metsker. Both are excellent in my view. Of the 9 books now on my reading list, I have read a 1601/7004 pages or about 23%. I need to pick up the pace some to meet my end of the year goal.

My MacBook Pro seems to get better every day. I purchase and installed Paralles which gives me the capability to run virtual operating systems. I tried Apples Bootcamp, but did not like having to reboot the machine to run Windows XP. With Parallels I can run Windows XP in a OS X window. The product is reasonably priced and runs fast. Currently I have installed the Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Express and find it runs faster then my PC system at work. Now I have one computer that really meets all of my computing needs.

Speaking of computing needs... my 3+ year old Compaq Presario desktop HDD died. The machine suddenly got very slow ... checked it for spy ware, root kits, and viruses and found it clean. Purchased SpinWrite, but all it reported was “immanent disk failure ... backup now”. As I attempted to move files it died. No! I did not have a backup. So all is lost. Fortunately it was not my main computer so the loss was not catastrophic. The MacBook is on a backup schedule that I check in light of this incident.

Monday, May 29, 2006

To long ...

Noted today that Technorati reports its been 91 days since my last post to this blog. While a little out of date, the number 91 really hit hard. Its is a not very remarkable number as blogs go. Many blogs start with a flurry of entries that slowly fade to none. Like so many projects, we start with such grand intentions. But over time life's events lead us in other directions. The number 91 hit hard because I saw myself as being different. I would post often with interesting, meaningful, witty, bla-bla-bla,.... articles. But alas, I failed... However, I am committed to push on.

For the past couple of months I have been of a ASP.NET, C# reading/study spree. Currently I am reading and working through the following:

  • Pro C# 2005 and the .NET 2.0 Platform, Third Edition by Andrew Troelsen

  • Programming C# : Building .NET Applications with C# by Jesse Liberty

  • Pro ASP.NET 2.0 in C# 2005 by Matthew MacDonald and Mario Szpuszta

  • Programming Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0 Core Reference by Dino Esposito

  • Programming Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0 Applications: Advanced Topics by Dino Esposito

  • Head First Design Patterns by Elisabeth Freeman, Eric Freeman, Bert Bates, and Kathy Sierra

  • CLR via C#, Second Edition by Jeffrey Richter

The overall page count of these books is staggering... to get done I just make sure I read at least a few pages every day. So far it looks like I am something like 20% done. At this rate, I won't get done until the end of the year. I am approaching these readings a little differently then my 7 book CSS reading spree last September. This time I am reading a little from most books every day. I find each book to be excellent. Really note worthy is "CLR via C#". The author Jeffrey Richter, has a writing style that makes the most complex concepts simple to understand.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Back to Mac ...

Last December I made the transition from Mac to PC. It was painful, but I did it. As it turned out it was just to painful and now I am back to Mac.

MacBookProMy new Mac is a Mac Book Pro, Dual 2G with a 7200rpm 100G Hard Drive and 1G RAM. This is one fantastic machine. What is spactacular is that I can dual boot into Windows XP for those times I need to code .NET stuff. This system runs cool and quite and ith the dual core processor and 7200rpm drive it handles .NET, no problem.

HP_ZD8000The HP Pavilion ZD8000 was my first step away from Mac. Of all the PC's I evaluated, this was the best. Howeve, having said that I found several annoyances that made me change. This system is heavy 9+ pounds, and runs very noisey (three fans) and hot. Its great if you live in a cold climate because it can also function as a space heater. Here in Arizona it quickly heated my office to uncomfortable temperatures.

CompaqV2000I next moved to a Compaq V2000. This is a really nice little system. Runs cool and quite. Its light weight and easy to transport form place to place. However its a little underpowered. Bumping memory to 1.5G helped, but when using the .NET development environment it made you wait while it did stuff. With a dual processor, this would be an excellent system.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Login frustration ...

I am rewriting in ASP.NET 2.0, C#. The original version was a Perl CGI web application, principally because at the time I was working for a company whose development environment was Perl. I have since changed employers where ASP.NET development rules. So ... that prompted me to do a rewrite. Overall the ASP.NET development environment is orders of magnitude easier and faster then Perl. This of course assumes one knows both.

Now to my frustration. The LoginStatus control does not work in my instance. Specifically, I added this control to my splash page with a text value of "Member Login". Clicking on the link redirects users to the login page. The login page uses the Login control with it's DestinationPageUrl set to the proper page. The problem is that a successful login redirects the user back to the site splash page and not the DestinationPageUrl. When I remove the LoginStatus control form the splash page a successful login gets redirected properly. I am not sure why my original configuration will not work ... a search of the internet did not help. If you have any ideas your comments would be appreciated.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Journal ...

I found a really nice journal application for the HP laptop. It is called "The Journal". It is simple to use and from my perspective feature rich. The Journal contains two main section. First is the daily journal and the second is a notebook. Text entry has a look and feel similar to Microsoft Word. The realtime spelling checker is really nice. I really depend on the spell checker to help me not look stupid. Navigation among entries is a simple matter of moving through a tree view of entries presented in the left margin of The Journal's window. The addition of tables and images is a snap. There are many other features, and if you are into journaling you should really check this one out. One feature was the ease of importing journal entries form other tools. In my case I imported entries from MacJournal. In my case I just exported the MacJournal entries into a rich text file format, change the file name with some Perl script to a date format of mm-dd-yyyy, emailed them to myself, and within seconds imported each to The Journal. Another feature I really like is that I can post notebook entries to my blog. The notebook is a great editor, and the page provides a nice history of what I have blogged.

Here is the Perl script ...

#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use strict;
use vars qw($dirtoget @thefiles $file $newname @filenameparts $filenameparts);
$dirtoget="C:/Documents and Settings/Michael/My Documents/My Journal";
opendir(IMD, $dirtoget) || die("Cannot open directory");

@thefiles= readdir(IMD);

chdir("C:/Documents and Settings/Michael/My Documents/My Journal");
foreach $file (@thefiles)
unless ( ($file eq ".") || ($file eq "..") )
@filenameparts = split / /,$file;
#$newname = $file;
#$newname =~ s/([a-zA-Z ]*[0-9]*)[a-z]{2}(, 2005\.rtf)/$1$2/;
$filenameparts[0] =~ s/January/01/;
$filenameparts[0] =~ s/February/02/;
$filenameparts[0] =~ s/Februry/02/;
$filenameparts[0] =~ s/March/03/;
$filenameparts[0] =~ s/April/04/;
$filenameparts[0] =~ s/May/05/;
$filenameparts[0] =~ s/June/06/;
$filenameparts[0] =~ s/July/07/;
$filenameparts[0] =~ s/August/08/;
$filenameparts[0] =~ s/September/09/;
$filenameparts[1] =~ s/,//;
$filenameparts[1] =~ s/th//;
$filenameparts[1] =~ s/nd//;
$filenameparts[1] =~ s/rd//;
$filenameparts[1] =~ s/st//;
$filenameparts[1] =~ s/ //;
if(length($filenameparts[1] < 10)){$filenameparts[1] = "0$filenameparts[1]";}
$newname = "$filenameparts[0]-$filenameparts[1]-2005.rtf";
print "$newname\n";
rename($file, $newname) or warn "Couldn't rename $file to $newname: $!\n";

Monday, January 09, 2006

Transition ...

My transition from Apple Mac OSX to PC Windows is almost complete. Today my iBook G4 sold on eBay and I have 8 bids on my Mac-Mini. By the end of this week I will be Mac less. It's a scary feeling. I have not been in this position for many years. If the withdrawals get to bad perhaps Sandy will let me use her iMac G5. From now on I will only have this HP Pavilion zd8000 ...

I expect this transition to be short lived. Once Apple completes its move to the Intel architecture I plan to transition back to a new Powerbook. One that will, hopefully run windows natively. As a .NET developer I really need the native windows feature. Virtual PC was just to s l o w.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Vacation - Travel Day Three

We are back in the Holiday Inn in Las Cruses, NM; only 5 hours from home. It will be so good to get home ... 20 days away is a long time.

For this trip I took along a new HP Pavilion zd8000 laptop instead of a Mac PowerBook G4. I love my Mac, but must admit that the HP performed admirably. I burned the book "Linked" to CDs using iTunes, three times faster then on my Mac. Windows Movie Maker was disappointing when compared to Apples iMovie and iDVD. However, I purchased Adobe PhotoShop Elements 4.0 and Premier Elements 2.0 and found they provide all the features of iPhoto, iMovie, and iDVD, and more. They were easy to use and fast. The HP has the serious advantage of duel Pentium 4, 3 Mhz processors while the PowerBooks is only a 1.2 MHz G4. The operating system, Windows XP Professional is OK, OS X is much better. The constant threat of worms, viruses, Spyware, Rootkits is really a pain. As a Mac user I am just not used to all these threats. The HP is running Symantec AntiVirus, Internet Security, and AntiSpam, along with Microsoft AntiSpyware. Am I protected? Doubt it ...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Vacation - New Years Day ...

Spent New Year’s Day at Moms. She fixed one of her great dinners, after which we played cards for several hours. I managed to win the first game while Sandy eked past Mom to win the second. Mom is really getting good … if we could spend a few more days with her she would start winning on regular bases.

Tomorrow we begin the drive home. Our visit with Mom has been wonderful, Christmas and New Year’s was great. We really hate to leave, as it seems like we just arrived. But every visit is to short. For our trip home, I have scheduled stops in Mobile, AL, Kerrville, TX, and Los Cruces, NM. We have only one long driving day of 713 miles.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Vacation – Days Nine & Ten …

Spent these last two days at Mom’s just relaxing, playing cards, and cruising the internet. I did acquaint myself with Python. Downloaded, installed and tested PyXML.

I finished listing to an audio book about Google. This was really an enjoyable book … once started it is very hard to stop. It’s totally amazing what Google has achieved in just a few short years. I have since gone totally Google, moving to gmail adding Google toolbars to my browsers, and installed the Google desktop. The local search feature is fantastic … seems like everything is now at my fingertips without having to really organize my stuff.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Vacation - Day Eight ...

Today we went to Cypress Gardens. While there we toured the remnants of the original gardens, watched a water ski show, toured its minimalist animal exposition, watched some wild alligator’s sun bathing in the rose garden, and toured their new amusement park. We saw a few brave soles free fall for three seconds on a platform caught at the last moment before crashing onto a concrete apron. There are seven other rides, all designed to spin and flip one over until sick. The Ferris wheel was our ride of choice. At it’s panicle it towered over everything in the park.

Entering the park was an experience. We had to pass through metal detectors and have our bags inspected. Only problem … when the metal detector alarm went off you were allowed to pass without further examination. Not sure what they are really checking.

Overall I was disappointed it what the new owners have done with Cypress Gardens. My previous visit was so very different. Then the original owners were in charge; then the entire park was dominated by manicured gardens. It was such a please to meander through its many paths and enjoy the beauty. The original park entrance included some really excellent gift shops and a large fudge factory. The fudge factory had glass walls so you could watch as the fudge was folded and cooled on huge marble tables. There is one thing at the gardens that has not changed and that is the huge Banyan tree. It is over seventy years old. Walking through its many trunks is a most peaceful experience.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Spam Blog ...

Today I discovered that this blog has been identified via fuzzy logic as a potential Spam Blog. It is this designation that prevents "Performancing for Firefox" from working and why I have to type in the contents of a graphic password for every post. I never really questioned why the password was required. Just assumed it was a security thing ... that was dumb.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

More great info from ...

Downloaded and installed Performancing for Firefox after reading mamamusings praises. I am a regular reader of Elizabeth's blog ... and find her a great source for some very neat tools. Thanks Elizabeth ... tomorrow morning Mom will be treating us to her version of latkeys.

Vacaition - Day Five & Six ...

Two lazy days ... just visited and played cards with mom, cruised the internet, and read. I am sad to report that Sandy won all games.

The new HP pavilion zd8000 combined with a Verizon broad band access card is working well. This ais more like a desktop, and the internet access is really good. The download rates have been averaging around 140 kbps. which sure beats the previous dialup used during previous visits.

We did go out long enough to pick up a cable, (IEEE 1394/DV cable), to transfer our Christmas video to  the laptop. To my surprise, when I plugged the camera into the laptop, Windows Movie Maker poped up. I found it really easy to upload 120 minutes of video. My only question is about the upload quality. The resulting video file size seems small. Also I noticed some distortion as I played back parts of the video

The creation of this years Christmas DVD will be a good comparative test of the movie making process between Mac and PC. For the last 4 years we used a Macintosh and found the process feature rich and simple.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Vacation – Christmas Day …

Christmas was wonderful. Mom fixed a really great breakfast. We then opened our presents. I recorded the entire event on video. Later in the evening I recorded our Christmas dinner an our evening card game. We had a couple of retakes of Mom opening her last present … the tape ended just as the cover came off from this last gift. It was fun restaging the event and getting a surprised reaction. I typically record our family Christmas, and create a DVD production for play as we eat or Christmas dinner the next year. Since we are with Mom this year, I plan on sending copies to Mary (sister) and Tom (brother).

This year I will be creating the DVD on a new HP Pavilion zd8000. My previous DVD productions were done on a Macintosh, so this will really be a new experience with me. My first concern is what software to use. From what I know today, it looks like I will have to purchase something. First though I will Google for details.

Sandy won at cards again tonight. So sad …

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Vacation – Day Four …

Christmas Eve … Sandy and I went to church with Mom. There were some 1100 people in attendance. This was an opportunity for Mom to introduce me to all of her friends and her new pastor, Father Charles. I like him. He gave a very meaningful sermon and seems friendly. Early today Mom received a yellow rose floral arrangement from Father Charles. It was his way of thanking her for her help at the church. She was really surprised and pleased.

Mom opened a few gifts this evening. She wanted to be ready for her early call with Tom (my brother).

Played cards in the evening … Sandy won.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Vacation – Day Three …

Today is my birthday. Received two very nice gifts. First was a set of glasses with a card design. These will be great for our Friday night card games with Bill & Bev. The second was a Logitech camera for my new laptop. It’s a great little camera … easy to install, works well, and is small for easy transport with the laptop.

Spent most of that day visiting with Mom and cruising the web. Later we played cards, and to my surprise I won. This means I am one game ahead of Sandy in our all time stats. I will enjoy this lead cause it won’t last long … she has a habit of winning this game. It’s only in Florida do I seem to hold my own. Mom made an angle food cake with a special pineapple frosting for my birthday cake. It was wonderful. All in all it was a really nice birthday.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Vacation – Day Two …

Today we are off to Disney World. We started with Epcot then transferred to the Magic Kingdom then back to Epcot. Access to the parks has changed. They now check all backpacks, camera bags, and other carried items before you even get to the ticket counter. Then, as you go through the entry turnstile, they now have a finger print reader. This new system ties individuals to tickets to prevent lost tickets from being used by their finder. We found that it works when we changed parks. Sandy attempted to enter with my ticket and it refused her entry. Wonder if they do anything else with the data they collect.

We visited all our usual places … plus found a new ride, Soarin. No fast-pass tickets were available, so we waited in line for almost one hour. As we left we noticed the line was even longer. To me it looked like at least 1.5 hours long…

Next we strolled through the world pavilions stopping for perfume and wine in France, Tea in England, and Bratwurst, sauerkraut and beer in Germany. From there we took a boat ride and mono rail trip to the Magic Kingdom. Where we enjoyed the sights and a barbequed turkey leg. The Magic Kingdom was a madhouse … loads of kids. After a short stay we returned to Epcot. Sandy was a little under the weather about 6PM so we called it an early evening and returned home to Mom’s. After a little rest she felt much better. Overall we had a very good time. I think we might plan another trip for next week. While there we did check into the Disney Vacation Plan. I found it very appealing … if time permits we will attend their one hour tour and discussion of the plan.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Vacation – Day One …

Today was a lazy day. Spent the day visiting with Mom and enjoyed sampling all her Christmas treats. Of course we played cards till 2 AM. Some how, I managed to squeak out a victory in both games. This allowed me to tie Sandy with 13 wins each.

We did get out of the house for a few minutes to do some chores. The roads here in little Winter Haven, FL were grid locked with holiday shoppers. Seems like many people have moved into the area since we were last here, or maybe it’s just the season and everyone is out shopping. There is a lot of construction her so I suspect its just more people. You have got to wonder why people would move to a hurricane prone area of the country. It must be the beautiful weather.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Vacation – Arrival Day …

Today we arrived at Mom’s. Our stop, last night was only 336 miles from her home. I am so very happy to see Mom. It’s been 18 months since our last visit and this will be the first time we visiting over the Christmas holidays. Mom’s house looks great … she painted it this summer. It smells wonderful, as she has prepared for Christmas with lots of cooking and baking. One of my favorite is beet soup and home made noodles, which she served this evening. As usual it was wonderful. After catching up on the latest news we played our first card game of Hand & Foot. Sandy won. She pulled ahead as our all time winner with a win total of 13 games to my 11 and Mom’s 4.

In June of 2003, I purchased a little notebook to record our score as we play each game and record win stats. It’s fun to look back at our previous games. Mom only plays during our visits. We play a little more often with family back in Phoenix.

The Verizon card works well. I have noticed that it has a tendency to stall during downloads that take more then a couple of minutes. It doesn’t happen every time … it’s a little annoying as I can’t download some of my favorite podcasts. However, email works great. Overall the product works for me.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Vacation – Travel Day Three …

Once again, we got back on the road at 7:00 AM, after a nice breakfast at the Holiday Inn. The weather was great, clear skies all day. Traffic overall was light. However, there is a real bottleneck in Beaumont, TX. The geniuses who plan road maintenance have shutdown all but one lane of I-10 east bound. This resulted in a 5 mile backup, and one hour delay. Because of this bottleneck we were only able to average 78 mph today. We are only 340 miles from Mom’s, so tomorrow will be a short driving day.

We stopped for the night in Marianna, FL at a Best Western Motel. Once again we are on the first floor. However, there is no noise from the unit above us. Have good internet tonight; two bars on the Verizon card. I did not try the card while we were on the road as I did all the driving today.

We finished the audio book The Children of Men by P.D. James. It turned out to be another very good book.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Vacation – Travel Day Two …

We got back on the road this morning about 7:00 AM, after a nice breakfast at the Holiday Inn. The weather was a little overcast but no rain. There was not much traffic, so were able to average 78 mph. For lunch we stopped at Cooper’s Barbeque. What a wonderful place. The first things you see upon entering are huge piles of pork ribs and thick chops, sausage and beef briskets. Sandy had the beef brisket sandwich; I had a pork chop and a small piece of sausage. The food was fantastic … only wish I had room for more. This is one place we must stop on the way home.

We arrived at our second stop about 5:30 PM Phoenix time. This time we are on the second floor and it’s much quieter. No internet tonight. The Verizon card can’t find a signal. Last night the signal was great. Tonight nothing; the phone service is also minimal. The service should be good tomorrow as we will be in Florida where Verizon coverage blankets the state. If possible I will try using the card while Sandy is driving.

We finished Alen Aldan’s audio book today. A great book once stated you don’t want to stop. Our second audio book is the Children of Men by P.D. James. So far it’s a little difficult to follow as the reader speaks with a heavy British accent.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Vacation – Travel Day One …

We are off to Florida for Christmas with Mom. This year we decided to drive. In preparation, I downloaded 40 + hours of audio books from Audible. In addition to seeing some of the country we will catch up on our reading … well listening. We started late this morning 11:00 AM to our first planned stop in Las Cruces, NM. It took almost 6 hours to get here; a Holiday Inn Express. Wonder what the Express stands for? We have a very comfortable room. Only issue is that we are on the first floor and can hear the people above as they walk about. Sounds like a herd of elephants. They did have fresh warm cookies and coffee ready when we arrived. From Phoenix, we started listening to Alan Aldas new book, Never Stuff Your Dog. It’s the story of his life. So far it’s very good. His life as a young boy was wild as his parents were in show business. Sandy kept busy knitting a baby blanket for her sister’s new, very cute grandson. Her goal is to have it complete by the time we get to Mom’s. From there she will mail it off …

Today we ran into more traffic then I expected. The trip from Phoenix to Tucson was really slow. So much traffic and too many trucks. At one point we came to a complete stop in the middle of nowhere. As we screech to a stop the fourth car behind us rear ended the vehicle ahead of it. Because of the high speed it was bad. We could not see if anyone was hurt but the front end the car was badly smashed. For the next 40 miles we moved at no more then 20-30 miles an hour. South of Tucson things opened up and we were off. Set the cruise control to 80 mph and down to road we went. We only had to slow when encountering truckers pass other trucks. We did see a few that rode the left lane, making traffic pass on their right. These folks need to find another line of work …

Our next scheduled stop is Columbus, TX … some 750 miles away. It’s going to be a long day on the road with plenty of book listening time.

Decision ...

After much thought and evaluation I purchased an HP Pavilion zd8000 laptop. I really like this system. It has a very bright 17” screen and a great keyboard. It’s big enough to have a full keyboard with a number pad. It’s also a rotund 9+ lb. I purchased the system at Sam’s Club, my preferred provider … because of their 6 month return policy. I really wanted a new 17” Apple powerbook. The problem is, as a .NET developer its tough to work on a powerbook … Virtual PC is so … V E R Y S L O W. I have big hopes for the upcoming Intel machines. In the interim I’ll just use the HP.

The first thing I did with the new laptop was upgrade the operating system to XP Professional. In spite of this change SQL 2005 Express would not install. It continues to hang at the point of “Searching for IIS ...” My search of the internet and Microsoft’s site revealed no information, workaround, or fix. Am I the only one having this problem? My work around was to install Personnel SQL Server 2000. Installing Visual Studio 2005 was a breeze. Just don’t let the installer attempt to install SQL 2005 Express. If you do, it will just hang the system.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Laptop Woos ...

This weekend I purchased a new HP Pavilion zv6203cl PC laptop. It uses an AMD 64 Athlon 2Ghz CPU, with 80G HD, 1G RAM, running Microsoft XP Home. Great little machine. Beautiful screen. Problem is that it would not connect to a Linksys wireless router. It would connect a Apple Express wireless router. Go figure. The second problem was that Microsoft SQL Express would not install either as a stand-alone or with Visual Studio 2005. The was the straw that broke the proverbial camels back. So I returned the computer and purchased an HP Pavilion zd8000 with a Pentium4 3Ghz CPU, 100G HD, and 2G RAM, running Microsoft XP Home. Experienced the same problems. So back it went. I am really disappointed cause the zd8000 is a beautiful machine.

Saturday, I stopped by CompUSA, to look at a laptops. Found a nice Compaq running Microsoft XP Home. It has a AMD 64 Athlon 1.6 Ghz CPU, with 60G HD, 512M RAM. It was connected to the internet so I downloaded SQL Express and .NET 2.0 redistribution kit, installed both, and found everything work. Now why did it work on the Compaq and not the HP. Now that HP owns Compaq you would not expect much difference. Verified that CompUSA had six in stock ... just wanted to think about it first. Not sure but may go back and purchase it tomorrow. My only reservation is their return policy. They will not return your money only in store credit. Not a good policy. The first two I purchase from Sam’s Club which has a 6 month return policy. My plan is to contact HP and see what they have to say about my problems.