Category Archives: Tech

Fixing Hibernate/Suspend in XP

My (boo urns) work Dell D630 was recently upgraded to a whopping 2GB RAM, which is paltry by today’s standards, but what are you going to do?

Anyway, ever since then, XP has refused to hibernate or suspend, which is painfully annoying when all you want to do is head out the door.  After a couple of weeks just dealing with it, I finally did what I was supposed to do and found this site which let me know that MSFT, in their infinite wisdom, didn’t account for >2GB of RAM.  Here’s the link to the hotfix.

Finally, I can tell my laptop to hibernate, and not find out 4 hours later that the strange whirring sound coming from my car is in fact the Dell, all tightly wrapped up in my work bag.

Stormy Consolidation

I’ve largely abandoned my blog over the past six months, but I haven’t neglected twitter, so I don’t feel too terrible.

With that said, I found something cool I wanted to share.

The new Palm pre has a cool feature that aggregates all of your online profiles into one mobile view, agnostic of where it really came from.  I found a way to create a similar experience on my Blackberry Storm that worked out quite well.

The glue to all of this is Google Sync.  My Storm is connected to our work Exchange server, so I get all of my email, contacts, and calendar entries from work instantly on my phone.

However, I also have all my non-work contacts in Gmail, and I use Google Calendar a ton to keep track of non-work events.  Using Google Sync, I now have all of my work and personal contacts merged on my phone.  I also get a combined view of my calendar.

The icing on the cake comes from the new Facebook app for Blackberry.  Although, I really don’t like the new 1.6 version.  The 1.5 version syncs my FB contacts with contacts I already have.  It also syncs their profile photo over for instant picture caller ID, and creates a new Birthday calendar.

Other than fiddling with my phone, I’ve been working on our intranet and document management project to migrate to SharePoint.  I’ll post some more on this as we get a bit closer to release.

git and Corporate Proxies

Recently, the eXPlainPMT project migrated from svn to git, hosted over at github.com.  This gave me a great opportunity to quickly learn git, especially considering that I had commits I wanted to apply.  GitHub is a great service – free OSS hosting, hosted forks, and a really useful visualization that shows the full history of forks with status messages.  The only piece I miss from Google Code (besides a painfully easy SVN setup) is the issue log.  However, they do expose commit hooks which Google didn’t, so there’s some integration with other online issue tracking tools.

First, about git.  There are infinitely better resources to look to on what git is and why it exists.  With that said, I’ll just quicky say that git rocks for OSS development.  When I was flying back from DC, I giggled like a Miley Cyrus fan when I did my first disconnected commit.  My mind is still trapped in centralized repository thinking, but this has always been my greatest complaint against them: offline commits.  Now it’s so trivially easy I can’t go back.  The other wonderful thing is that a checkout of the repository is the whole repo.  That means I can view the full history locally without hitting the server.  It also means that commits back to the parent repository (or a remote push in git-speak) are really quick.  Also, branching is really really cheap.

Now for the ugly: git is horrible in Windows.  I mean, god-awful.  “But Andy, why would you use Windows? OMG M$ 5uxorz!!!!11111elevendyone”  Because we have Windows laptops at work, and I need to be able to commit to the project while at work.  Git has a ways to go here to be as simple as SVN to install, and it would be cool to see some IDE integration, although it’s certainly not a requirement.

When I say it’s bad, the main reason is that there isn’t, at this point, a truely native build.  I’m using msysGit and PuTTY.  Throw into the mix our corporate proxy at work, and the pain goes up exponentially.  However, it’s not a lost cause.  Using instructions gathered from a ton of places, I have it up and running.  Finally.

  1. Get git!
    1. Follow the steps from github to get the binaries and generate your key
  2. Get PuTTY
    1. Go ahead and get the Windows installer version from here.
  3. Configure PuTTY
    1. First, we need to take the private key from step 1 and make it available to PuTTY
      1. Open PuTTYgen
      2. Click on Load
      3. Change the “Files of Type” dropdown to “All Files”
      4. Choose your private key file you created in step 1
      5. Enter your passphrase
      6. Go to File>Save Private Key and put it somewhere safe
    2. Next, we need to set up PuTTY to connect to github (or where ever)
      1. Create a new session called “github.com” with the host name set to “github.com”
      2. Set Connection>Proxy to whatever your corporate proxy settings should be
      3. Ensure that Connection>SSH>Auth has the “Attempt Authentication using Pageant” checked
      4. Go back to Session and save the session
      5. Click Open and make sure you get a login prompt.  If you do, close out.  If not, check your proxy settings.
    3. Now we need to give Pageant our key
      1. Open Pageant
      2. Click “Add Key”, navigate to your new PuTTY private key, and click OK.
      3. Enter your passphrase
  4. Perform a clone
    1. Using either Git Bash or Git GUI, clone a public repository from github.com (eXPlainPMT is a great place to start!)
    2. If you get errors about an invalid host or invalid passphrase, Pageant can’t find the session we created in step 3.2

Most of these directions are modified from what I found at CodeSlower and github guides.

Time to Breathe

The past month has been so hectic that I’ve neglected this blog.  Angela has been keeping things documented so well over on her site that I haven’t been pressured into posting.

Last month we took a short but exciting trip to LA to see friends and family.  Angela’s relatives recently moved there and it was really great to see them.  We hadn’t really had time to see them since our trip to Taiwan in 2004.

Since then I have been busy at work, and so has Angela.  Jabber is as goofy as ever.

I picked up work on a new project in my free time, eXPlainPMT.  We use the tool internally at work, and it’s giving me a good codebase to play with Rails again.  In fact, I just put up a demo environment for people to explore on.

After getting frustrated with not having proper inputs in my car for my iPod, I finally replaced my stock deck with a new Pioneer.  It sounds good and has a dedicated USB input that actually handles my 13000+ song library on my iPod very well.  It does, however, rely too much on the remote for navigation, so I’m not looking forward to the inevitable day that I lose it.

In the garage, we finally cleaned out our old crap left over from the move in 2006 and I put some shelving up.  I think we gained a good 2′ of extra garage space on each side.

Inside the house, I got around to painting the kitchen nook.  It looks much nicer now, and since the paint has set in it no longer looks like the old Kraft Mac and Cheese nuclear waste orange.  I quite enjoy it.

I’m rambling, I know, but it’s been so long.  Last weekend we had everyone over for the KU-UNC game, and it was a great win for the Jayhawks.  On Monday I met up with Ethan, Donald, and Jeromy to watch the championship.  Amazing game, and I’m still in shock over Mario’s last second 3.

Alright, it’s time to actually get some work done.

Evolution of note taking

I have horrible handwriting as anyone who has worked with or received a note from me can attest. When we are young we are taught how to write uniform characters at about 1″ heights. To this day, this is the only legible writing you’ll find from me. Cursive was worse because my mangled script could be slurred together into unintelligible scribbles with errant dots and crosses thrown in for good measure.

My dad worked for IBM, so all throughout my childhood we had access to a computer and a fancy typewriter. As much as I could, I typed everything.

Fast forward to high school. In-class essays quickly ensured lots of face-time with the teacher as I would be asked to read large portions of my writing. Teachers weren’t amused.

This little bit of background was hopefully a nice segue into what has become an odd circle of note taking.

Spiral NotebookK-11th grade: Ahh yes, the spiral notebook. These were always impossibly unreadable – including by me

Handspring Visor12th grade: My Handspring Visor! I had to really convince my parents that I could spend my money on this at the time. I scratched down notes, made TODO lists, even set due dates for my assignments in the calendar. In the end, all I really did is play Infrared chess and Pong with Kent Thompson.

Crosspad12th grade – Freshman: The IBM Crosspad was, I believe, meant for fancy pants businessmen and lawyers. Leave it to me to ask for it for Christmas. Handwriting? Really? But it gets better! This device captures the pages and will do magic writing-to-text conversion. The downside, of course, is that it failed on every conversion with my handwriting, even with the laborious 100 page training guide. I made pretty graphs and emailed physics notes to Brandon once. Not too useful. I took this with me to KU and attempted to use it freshman year during the rare moment that I was awake. I ended up setting the alarm off in the libraries more often than actually using it.

Visor with Stowaway keyboardCollege – Freshman and Sophomore years: And I wonder why I wasn’t big with the ladies freshman year! I grabbed my Visor and added the Stowaway keyboard (full size, take that, laptops!) and actually took really good, outline-format notes. This was very handy, required 2 AA batteries, lasted for months, and was 100% reliable. Why change it up, right?

Microsoft WordJunior Year: During the summer between sophomore and junior year, I picked up a Toshiba laptop. At the time it was awesome. I ended up using MS Word to do my note taking in class. This worked out fine as all I was doing is taking down outline format notes with the occasional figure that could be recreated on the fly using wonderful Word Art. I also had a few professors that had Powerpoint lectures, so I could save myself the trouble of printing crappy PPTs and use their outlines. This laptop died a horrible death (I hate you, Toshiba, your laptops to this day have the same crappy, heat-damaging designs), which leads to…

OmniOutlinerSenior Year: I had my internship summer of 2004 and stashed away enough cash to get myself a 12″ Powerbook. I was the only guy with a Mac in any of my CIS courses and was chided daily by several professors, but I didn’t care. I used OmniOutliner to take my notes. It was really intuitive, which is saying something since it is replacing functionality that I had done before in notebooks, PDAs, and the ubiquitous MS Word. It had custom flags you could put on items, categories, fast searching, and a pretty UI.

OnenoteToday: I eventually entered the working world and migrated my way to a decent job. The fun years of OS X were replaced by the same horrible Windows XP that I left behind in 2002, on an updated but equally troublesome business-grade Toshiba laptop. I had to adapt. That’s when I started using OneNote. I really like it and still use it today. It has it’s quirks and usability issues, but it’s stable enough to document out just about everything. I also put most of my sharable notes back into our team Wiki. Unfortunately, even in a company that is predominantly IT, there is a stigma against laptops in some meetings. I also find myself watching Explorer lock up through good portions of my day, so I need a backup datasource.

MoleskinEnter my Moleskin. I have the smallish gridpaper one. It has a band to keep it closed, quality paper, a bookmark, and a pocket in the back. I still can’t read my handwriting consistently, but I have an intricate system of checkboxes and symbols to at least have a gist of what I was talking about. I can also scan these notes directly into Onenote for consolidation.

So, I still can’t write, but I’ve gone full circle in my note taking habits.

What does this really mean? Why haven’t we got to the paperless world we have been promised? Even today pulling out a notebook is more reliable and faster than grabbing a laptop. With the new laptops having more instant-on functionality with more impressive battery life, we’re getting closer. The big device that I’m looking for is an ultraportable with a tablet’s screen. 5+ hours of battery and a full-size keyboard would be even better. I guess I can hope that the Air will get an upgrade to make the screen have pen-recognition, right?