Got the Stratus back!

Deborah got to pick up the Stratus yesterday from the shop after being in there almost two weeks. The work looks great, except for a few things. I need to buy a new headlight for the drivers side (the passenger side got a new one and the car looks funny). We also may have to take it back because there are about 6 somewhat noticeable spots on the hood where there are tiny pits. It looks like they possibility repainted the entire hood, but did VERY little touch up work, and basically painted into random scratch marks that were already there!

Shes calling the service center tomorrow to see what they can do. I would have rather had them touch up smaller spots on the hood than making it look like this :(.

More pictures over on flickr!

At least I wont have to worry about those pesky black rats!

I have always suffered sinus problems. Since mid December though, I have been having increased sinus pressure as well as just overall discomfort. Well, since it didn’t seem to go anywhere, I finally went to the doc to see whats going on, espc. because some friends recently got over sinus infections.

At the time he said it wasn’t that bad, but that my sinuses did look a bit messed up. We went ahead and gave me Augmentian/Amoxicillin. This seemed to help a little bit the first few days, but then made me start feeling sick and nauseous. I have never been on this medication from what I can remember, but I had a lot of friends who have taken it.
I called the doctor back yesterday to tell him the story and see if he could pass along something to help a bit more. Today I get a call that a pretty strong prescription of Doxycycline is available at CVS for me to pick up to help clear things up a bit more. After debs and I got home, we took a walk down to the CVS and picked it up.

I was doing a little research online about this medication, because I have never heard about it. Well, after checking out Wikipedia, Doxycycline has quite a few uses! Had just one to many cheap hookers? Doxycycline is used to treat chronic syphilis and the clap! To many pimples? Doxycycline can clear you right up. Bitten by the wrong black rat? Well, Doxycycline is effective against the infectious agent of the bubonic plague!

All I care about is being able to breathe again one day!

Listening To: ‘Stellar’ by the Smashing Pumpkins

NewsGator products now free, why should I stick to Google Reader?

Note – I started this post last week. Since then, due to some other circumstances, I switched back to Google Reader. This posts outlines my experience over the last week, and why I went back!

Last week, the teams at NewsGator announced that instead of charging a few bucks for their news readers, everything was now freely available. Some of these readers, including NetNewsWire for the Mac and FeedDemon for the PC are really the top readers available. Other than my desire to always find free and/or open source ways of doing things on the computer, I would have easily paid the money to use either one of these applications.

I posted over a year ago my about my move to Google Reader. It was a move I was very happy with, and used MULTIPLE times a day, every day, over the last year. One of the main reasons that I went to an online reader was because I used multiple machines. I didn’t want to have to read posts in one place, and then re-read (or mark as read) the ones I had already seen. I even wanted to work on the source code of my preferred feed reader at the time (it was an open source C# reader) to allow it to read the sync’d information from NewsGator.

Right after I heard all the products were now free, I immediately downloaded NetNewsWire on the Mac and FeedDemon on the PC. Google Reader (like most all other readers) let me export my OLPC file to import into the other reader. I set up a News Gator account, and I was in RSS-syncing heaven.

I love Google products, and really, I would have never thought about switching. The only thing that made me even want to try was because of the speed. Google cache’s feeds, depending on their popularity. So if you have custom feeds, like your Facebook friends status updates, that only gets updated every few hours. Other more popular feeds, like Digg, get updated a few times every hour. For the most part this is great, but its really annoying when I do use particular websites, like Facebook, and the status updates are even up to 5 hours behind!

Ive enjoyed using NetNewsWire. It’s one of the perfect Mac programs, everything works the way its supposed to. The interface is really clean, the UI is very easy to use, and it has a feature that I didn’t even know was important to me – something called ‘River of News’. When I read my news, I prefer just to have a long list of items, rather than reading through each feed or each category individually. I quickly browse through my 200+ feeds, and open up those that strike my interest. If im on my cellphone, I would just start particular feeds and read them at home.

On the other hand, I really didnt like FeedDemon. It was slow. First of it all, it doesnt have this River of News flow, and that really slows down my reading. It was also very sluggish on my pretty speedy laptop, and was confusing to use at times. There were plenty of times I just wanted to give up this whole trial because of this application.

I never got to try out the Windows Mobile feed reader from News Gator. This is mainly due to me being really busy over the last week, but also because Debs and I switched cell phone providers last night. Therefore I can’t really review the program, which is ashame, because I did have high hopes for it. Now that I have a blackberry (more on that later), I notice they have a blackberry client. Looking at the screenshots, I dont think Im going to be very happy to use it, it looks closer to the Windows client than the Mac. Combined with my dislike for the Windows client, I’m not going to even waste my time installing this one on my blackberry unless I hear rave reviews on it.

Overall I was happy with this switch for a while. I have always liked NetNewsWire. I used NetNewsWire Lite at my old job to track most feeds as well as custom internal feeds we used at work. If there was a program like it that would sync on the PC, I would never touch Google Reader again. But with my complete dislike for the Windows client (slowness, hard to use, and it just took me too long to read my feeds), Im going to have to leave this mix of clients.

Time to go mark my 2000+ ‘unread items’ as read, and get back to how things were! I noticed I have a few more friends in my Google Talk list now sharing items, as well as hearing that Google Reader got some updates while I was gone!

For those considering the switch – either way – Lifehacker had a great post before I started my experiment about the pro’s and con’s of both! I suggest that you check it out!

Listening To: ‘When Your Gone’ by The Cranberries

Extra tax rebates coming this year?

When reading through my feeds just now, Consumerist linked to an AP article on Yahoo about tax rebates coming this spring to 117 mullion families beginning in may. This is planned to pump $150 billion back into the economy.

If I am reading this right, individuals would get up to $600, working couples would get $1200, and any children would include an additional $300. For those with higher incomes though the rebate would phase out, but Deb’s and I dont have to worry about that just now.

This is something that would really help us out. We have been doing a lot of investing, saving, etc. We are already expecting a larger refund that we have had before due to the purchase of the new house.

While some of that money was going back into a high interest savings account, a good part of it was going to go towards some of the home improvements we are doing.

Hopefully this finishes going through the senate and all of us see a little bit more in our tax refund this year!

Listening To: ‘Open Book’ by The Rakes

Well, wasn’t planning to rebuild it this soon.

Over the summer (shortly after we moved into the house), I noticed that my PC was acting up a bit more than usual. It was slower, would lock up here and there, and just did not feel right. We were already planning on getting a Mac shortly, so I just waited it out, and things worked fine. Ive been using this machine as a spare machine since we have gotten the iMac, from a Media Center machine, a file server, and everything in between.

When I had the machine hooked up to the TV downstairs, it worked great, but if I let it run for a few days, it would lock up. If I put it to sleep, it would never wake back up from sleep. When I moved it back into the office after getting the XBox 360, I would have to manually reboot it every other week or so.

Last night I was running some needed updates as well as copying off a virtual machine when it just stopped responding. Of course since I no longer have a monitor, its a little harder to troubleshoot. I eventually found an S-Video cable and pulled our spare TV out of the spare bedroom. My graphics card (ATI 9800) has a DVI, VGA, and S-video slot. Hooked everything up (quite a site – 24″ tv sitting on the floor with the PC halfway out the desk), and got to work. The machine was hanging at its POST screen here and there, but due to the resolution (and the TV being way out of focus), I couldn’t see anything. After letting it sit for about 1 hour, came back, and it was sharp as crystal – ‘Disk Read Error occurred – press ctrl-alt-delete to reboot’. Rebooted a few more times and noticed that the primary HDD (a 120GB Western Digital Caviar) was reporting a BAD status from S.M.A.R.T. Great.

I found an older 40GB drive, installed it, and started a fresh install of XP.

So far, things are good, except I may have to restart the entire process. For some odd reason, after installing particular updates, the machine will no longer allow me to remote desktop into it, and complains to have errors with its registry. This is of course of having to do 4 sets of 50+ updates.

Many people ask why I dont just use XP on the iMac. I have a few (possibly odd) reasons:

  • I dont have enough reasons YET to pick up copy of Parallels or VMWare.  I was a beta tester over the last few years, but just dont require it yet for my personal use.
  • BootCamp would work, but Im sure its going to by like my previous multi-boot dilemmas. Ill be working in one OS, and need something in the other. I really cant stand to dual boot Linux/Windows on a PC anymore, and am sure I wont like it on my Mac.
  • I have this spare, rather powerful machine doing nothing. I need to have the storage, but possibly not the entire machine. But, why not use it for the many things I need (file server, development area, etc).

While I know I will be able to get XP back on the machine, I may still think about putting something on the iMac. It would allow me to take this PC into work to use as a spare test machine, which would help out a lot.

Sorry for the rant, just PC’s can really annoy me at times. At least this isnt my daily use machine anymore.

Listening To: ‘Don’t Drink the Water’ by Dave Matthews Band

busy, but good things coming…

I have about 5 posts in draft form right now that I have been working on. It’s some pretty good stuff, I think, that hopefully some readers will find interesting, helpful, etc. Ive been pretty busy this week trying to clear off my ever growing to-do list at work and home, so none of these have been finished just yet.

I’ve also been under the weather, and these medications are really beating me up. Im being treated for a Sinus Infection, but my allergies are still acting up, and the meds are working, but now that im clearing up, I feel worse than before.

In other news:

  • Pic’s from last weekends party are up on flickr.
  • My blog is now listed on RVABlogs.
  • Deb’s car should be getting back from the shop any day now.
  • Pole Possition Remix came out on iTunes, one of the first ‘3D’ games for the iPod.
  • Only about 2 weeks until my quarter of a century birthday.
  • Soccer moms with Macs piss me off. More on this later…
  • I may leave WordPress.com soon – more on this also later….

Listening To: ‘All the love in the world’ by Nine Inch Nails

.NET Framework Source Code Available!

Scott Guthrie, one of the interesting and bleeding edge Microsoft developer blogs announced today that the .NET Framework Library Source code was now available. This is a big deal, and something I really look forward to taking a look into.

While one of the main reasons for releasing this code was to help developers debug better, areas outside of this are already paying attention. Case in point, Mono. Mono is the software that allows developers to develop .NET apps for platforms like the Mac, Linux, Solaris, and other platforms. I have been toying around with Mono for a years now, just fooling around on the Mac and Linux to see what I could do. Over that time, the project has not only gained more and more popularity, it also has gained substantial backing, its currently sponsored by Novell.

Discussed around the internet a few months ago when Scott announced the plan to release this source code, people immediately talked the possibilities of this and Mono working together. But of course, this could never work. This new code is not actually open source, and neither is the license its released under! Right after Scott announced this, Mono posted on their site their stance on using any of this, which you can read here. Basically, none of this code could/will be used. What I am not sure about is using any Microsoft intellectual property/development methods/etc. to influence parts of the Mono Project. I would assume no, since in most cases, closed source (and even some open source) licenses protect this as well.

I personally would love to start working with this. They currently have released the code to some of the more common parts of the library, some stuff that I use every day. Its mostly for debuging code, but I also think it would be a GREAT learning tool. Pretty much all of my programing knowledge is self-taught, with some help from friends, teachers, and the internet along the way. But in all of those cases, other than from friends/other projects, you never really see ‘real code’. Everything you read in school is theory, and stuff you see online only explains a key point or two, not all 10 points you may be trying to cover together. Being able to see the actual code of the Libraries that we program against every day not only shows you methodology, but may even the way developers at Microsoft designed these tools.

Unfortunately, our team at work wont be going to VS2008 any time soon (though it would eliminate the need for me to use VS2003 and 2005 together). I have it installed on my home machine, but just have not had the chance to use it just yet! There’s a lot of things brewing around here, so time will tell!

Listening To: ‘The Sounds of Settling’ by Death Cab for Cutie