Thursday, August 30, 2007

Powergirl, Photoshopgirl

Check out the excellent Photoshop mod that RockThumper did, using that picture of Woozy Winks, Plastic Man and Powergirl from the Wizard World convention.

I'd posted a request in the Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE) discussion group on Flickr. RockThumper saw it and really came through.

The Internet. Where you can always rely on the kindness of strangers. Now I just need to track down Powergirl and give her a copy. Where'd I put my JSA communicator?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'm Dwight

You scored as Dwight Schrute, Fact. You are Dwight Schrute. Fact. You stick to your guns. Fact. You know many facts.

Pam Beesly


Dwight Schrute


Ryan Howard


Michael Scott


Kelly Kapoor


Creed Bratton


Karen Fillipelli


Jan Levinson


Jim Halpert


Kevin Malone


Andy Bernard


Toby Flenderson


Angela Martin


Meredith Palmer


Dunder Mifflin Personality Quiz
created with
I was one tie-breaker question away from being Pam. (Hat tip to The Mighty Monarch Jim.)

Banjo blogging

A mess o' banjosWhat I learned at banjo lesson number five.
  • I'm paying too much attention to the standard musical staff and not enough to the banjo-specific notation. (Probably because I'm more comfortable with the former.)
  • The slide! With the hammer-on I learned previously, that's two of the big three slurs. Can the pull-off be far away?
  • New song: Cripple Creek. Which Mike wrote out solely in banjo notation so I won't be tempted.

Windows annual purge

It's called "Windows rot." It's the condition that starts when you first install Windows on a PC and which gets worse with the passage of time. The system slows down and gets filled with crap.

My treatment for Windows rot is the annual purge, in which I restore my computer to its factory condition and reinstall everything.

And today is annual purge day. I'll take some notes along the way. Maybe you'll find them helpful.

Prior to the purge

I'm a nut about source control. Since most of my documents are kept under source control and safely stored away on dedicated server there's not a lot of backing-up I need to do. Nonetheless there are some things that I copy from my pre-purge system to a temporary location so I can later copy them to my post-purge system. I suggest that you prepare your own list of items, drawing from my list, from a perusal of your installed programs and from a little think-time. Here's my list:
  • OpenSSH keys
  • Windows Explorer shortcuts (which I keep in C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Start Menu)
  • IBM Access Connections location profiles
  • iTunes podcast list
For me, that all fits on a thumb drive with plenty of room to spare. (See how nice things are when you keep all of those big, precious documents under source control?)

I record the machine's network name, especially if this machine is part of a Windows domain.

Next I make a list of the programs I'm going to reinstall after the purge. For each of these I make sure I've got the install media and license keys as necessary. For some programs I also make note of special post-install steps I'm going to want to follow. (Example: I follow the tips at Revving Up Photoshop Elements 3 for Windows, especially "Tip 2: Disable the Photo Downloader" and "Tip 7: Kill the Organizer".)

You, gentle reader, might consider a couple of other steps as well. If you're not as nutty about source control as I am you should back up your documents (and resolve to become as nutty about source control as I am). You might also consider making a full backup of your system, just in case.

The purge

I use the disks that came with my system to restore the machine to its factory state. 'Nuff said.

After the purge

If this machine is part of a Windows domain, rejoin the domain.

I use the PC Decrapifier to remove whatever crap the manufacturer has placed on the system. (More details at How to zap the crap on a new Windows PC.)

Then -- and here's the time-consuming part -- I reinstall the software from my list.

Finally, I copy those settings and such from my thumb drive.

Ta-da! A nice, clean, quick-booting machine.

Life between purges

The key to a good annual purge is the way you live your life between purges. Your mantra should be "Someone could take a sledge hammer to my hard drive at any time." What this means is:
  • Keep your documents under source control.
  • Configure your email system so your archives are kept on the server and not just on your machine.
  • Keep your install media in one place.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Is this your bird?

My neighbor, Scott, is trying to find the owner of this bird. I told him I'd post the pictures here so that, when Scott is trying to describe the bird to someone, he'd be able to direct them to some photos.

2007-08-21 Lost bird 004

More photos here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Banjo blogging

What I learned at banjo lesson number four.
  • More melody tips.
  • The fourth bar is where it happens.
  • The big three slurs are hammer-on, pull-off and slide. I'm hammering-on now; the other two are coming next week.
  • Plurals: hammers-on and pulls-off. ("It's like attorneys general.")
Mike, if you're reading this, here's that example of multiple banjos I was telling you about:

My Dinner with Andre the Giant

Daryl Gregory, Writer Guy

Writer guy, former college roommate and all-around good person Daryl Gregory is "trying out this blog thing." His blog, My Dinner with Andre the Giant, is at

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Wizard World 2007 in Chicago

My nephews and I Jack Skelington, Woozy Winks and Plastic Man had a great time at Wizard World 2007.

Jack Skelington, Woozy Winks and Plastic Man do lunch at Wizard World 2007

I've uploaded a mess of photos to Flickr.

Wizard World 2007 photos

Let the labeling begin!

Update: Of course, the photos I took are not the only photos of us. Scads of people stopped us and took pictures, and there were cameras galore at the costume contest. I like the title that Harvard Avenue put on this Flickr picture, "Plastic Man/Elvis and Woozy Winks":

Plastic Man/Elvis

Update #2: More of other people's pictures:

Friday, August 10, 2007

Fun with Ape Lad's HTTP errors photoset

I put together a little game you can play with Ape Lad's HTTP errors photoset. (Hat tip to BoingBoing.)

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Watch the slide show and guess what HTTP error code an image refers to. Then click. The slide show will pause and tell you the answer.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Banjo blogging

BanjoThings I learned at banjo lesson three.
  • My instructor, Mike, is supportive and understanding if I don't practice between sessions.
  • My instructor, Mike, doesn't slow down the pace of what he's teaching me if I don't practice between sessions.
  • How to plink out the melody while I'm doing the Seeger-style boom-titty-boom-titty harmony. (My practice piece: "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?")
  • My right hand timing is excellent.
  • My right hand technique is wrong, wrong, wrong. I need to be moving my whole forearm (not just the wrist) straight away from the banjo (not pivoting upward) and I need to strum with my fingers (not my wrist). (What good is that wrist, anyway?)
  • The hammer! (Called "the hammer-on" here.)
  • A two-note introduction. Woo!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Kiki the puppy

Light blogging for the next week as I'm on an in-city vacation.

Kicked off the vacation with a visit to the redhead's side of the family and their new puppy, Kiki. Here's one of several photos and a video I took of the little knuckle-biter.

A real knuckle biter.