July 04, 2006

Surprise rain

After grilling outside last night, I didn’t get around to putting the grill and charcoal up.

Then this morning, I awoke to the surprising sound of rain.


The chicken was good, though.

Posted by Mike at 08:24 AM | Comments (1)


Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

I finally finished all the main story line quests in Oblivion a couple of days ago. While the game is open ended, and I could presumably play forever, the main quests are all complete. This was one of the best games I’ve ever played on Xbox. The graphics are gorgeous. I think I spent over 100 hours playing this. (Meredith is thrilled that I’m essentially done.)

Posted by Mike at 10:17 AM | Comments (1)

July 08, 2006

Teenage drivers are the problem, eh?

Some recent headlines about teen drivers:

Limits on teen drivers may reduce deaths

Teen drivers need more restrictions

Some other recent headlines:

Elderly Driver Ploughs Into Crowd, Injuring 27

Elderly driver 'hit the wrong pedal'

Probation recommended for elderly driver in fatal crash

Elderly driver crashes into Tustin hospital, critically injuring wife

Odd that I couldn’t find any recent headlines about groups urging restrictions on old people driving…

Posted by Mike at 10:00 PM

July 10, 2006


Happy Anniversary, Meredith!

Posted by Mike at 08:43 PM

First haircut



Nathan got his first haircut on Saturday. Here are pre- and post- haircut pictures (click on the pictures to get bigger images).

He did surprisingly well, although he wanted to sit on my lap for it.

No pictures of the hair cutting itself, unfortunately.

Posted by Mike at 08:52 PM | Comments (1)

July 11, 2006

Long wait at Panera

Nathan, Meredith and I ate lunch at the Panera Bread in Redmond this weekend, and the food was really good. Then yesterday, I was in the area around lunch time, so dropped in there to eat rather than face the cafeteria.

The food was still really good, but from the time I paid to the time they had my food ready was 20 minutes. If this is normal during the week, I’m pretty sure I won’t be going there very often.

Posted by Mike at 06:56 AM

port shutdown and Flash

At work, if you don’t keep your computers up-to-date with the latest security updates, the IT department remotely shuts off your port. Since the machines all get automatically updated anyway, this doesn’t generally happen unless something goes terribly wrong. Such as has evidently happened to me.

I called the helpdesk to figure out why I had no network, and he explained that one of my PCs was missing some security update, and gave me the intranet site to go find the patch. Then he turns my port back on so I can actually get the patch, and I go to the web site.

No mention of that patch.

OK, so I go looking for it on the web. It turns out that the update, APSB06-03, is an Adobe Flash update. The web page for the security bulletin says, under the heading ‘Solution’, “Adobe recommends all Flash Player and earlier users upgrade to the new version”

But when I follow the download link, I’m taken to a page that lists the latest version as 9.something. But that page also informs me that my Flash version is So I click ‘download’ (after turning off the annoying ‘also download the Yahoo toolbar’ option), agree to install some new ActiveX control, and get to the page telling me “Congratulations, you have version now.”


After trying a few more times, I thought I’d try just uninstalling Flash completely. Only it’s not listed in Add & Remove programs.

So, before I left, I unplugged my PC from the network so that at least the IT scanners won’t shut down my port again. Hopefully tomorrow I can actually fix this.

(Edit 7/12 9 AM) This morning, I tried rebooting my PC. After reboot, I magically had version of Flash installed. So at least it’s fixed, but it would have been nice if the Flash installer had told me that I was going to have to reboot.

Posted by Mike at 08:01 PM

July 15, 2006

Dumbest lawsuit ever?

Allen Heckard of Portland, OR is suing Michael Jordan and the founder of Nike for a total of $832 million because Heckard is often mistaken for Jordan.

I’ve heard of some stupid lawsuits, but this has to rank in the top 5 ever. What a retard.

Posted by Mike at 07:56 PM

July 17, 2006

THIS is a slow news day?

With everything going on in the world, CNN leads with the news that Bush was <gasp> caught uttering an expletive.

Who cares?

Posted by Mike at 11:34 AM

Space Invaders live action

This is awesome: http://www.notsonoisy.com/spaceinvaders/video.html

(Thanks to meriko for the link.)

Posted by Mike at 10:35 PM

July 19, 2006

I do miss the Aquarium

I got our membership renewal reminder today from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

I had a little pang of regret that we can't go there anymore. Nathan loved it whenever we went. We've been to the aquarium in Seattle, which, while a fine aquarium, just can't compare to Monterey.

Posted by Mike at 08:09 PM

July 20, 2006

Quadruple Homicide

It's a little disturbing when something like this happens within half a mile so of your own house. 

Posted by Mike at 07:28 PM

July 21, 2006



Posted by Mike at 08:05 PM

July 22, 2006


Today was the Microsoft Company Picnic. We went with Patrik, Linda, and Markus. The event is HUGE. It takes place over two days (today and tomorrow), since not everyone can fit on one day.

We had a really good time, but it was HOT. I think the high was somewhere between 95 and 100°F. They had an entire area set up for toddlers, which for Nathan was like walking into heaven. He was SO excited.

We took pictures that I'll try to get uploaded in the next day or two.

Posted by Mike at 10:04 PM

July 23, 2006

Microsoft Company Picnic 2006

Picture 043

Picture 013

Pictures from our trip to the Microsoft company picnic are uploaded to flickr.

It really is amazing to be at the picnic. The organizers did a really good job setting it up. Lots of food (and food that didn't suck, too), drinks, ice water everywhere, lots of tents set up for shade. And the kids areas, both for toddlers and for bigger kids, were just incredible. Meredith's comment was that it was like going to a county fair.

Posted by Mike at 11:57 AM

July 24, 2006

Another take on the Apple ads



(from Worth1000.com)

Posted by Mike at 09:16 PM | Comments (1)

July 25, 2006

Nathan's newest word

Nathan just learned a new word last night: "no". He's been able to shake his head no for some time, but last night finally figured out how to say it. And he wanted to practice it over and over and over again. (It probably won't be nearly as cute by tonight, but it was pretty funny last night.)

3GPP version (for QuickTime) here.

Windows Media version here.

Posted by Mike at 07:26 AM | Comments (2)

July 26, 2006


Now on Xbox live arcade.

Oh yeah...

Posted by Mike at 07:52 PM

Moderating comments

Comment spam is overrunning my blog, so I've turned on moderation. If the current bout dies off, I'll turn moderation back off.

Posted by Mike at 08:03 PM

July 27, 2006

Not yet the kingdom of idiots

News reports are saying that the Bush administration is considering sending US troops to Lebanon.

So, let's see, in the war on terror, that would give us:

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Iraq
  3. The National Guard on our borders
  4. Lebanon

And, of course, saber-rattling at Iran.

"Only an idiot fights a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the kingdom of idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts." -- Londo Mollari, Ceremonies of Light and Dark (Babylon 5).

*whew* -- we're not up to twelve.

Posted by Mike at 01:58 PM | Comments (1)

July 28, 2006

"Black mark" for your PC

CNET reports a new approach to stopping fraud by blackballing PCs.

"First, when a users first registers and opens an account on a Web site that employs Iovation's service, the site inserts a bit of code on the new customer's machine.

So far this sounds like getting a virus or piece of spyware. Yay!

"If and when fraudulent activity occurs, the code loaded onto the machine during the registration process becomes a permanent black mark. Individuals can re-enter the network by getting a new PC, but being forced to buy (or steal) new hardware slows them down."

It isn't explicitly stated, but presumably this thing is supposed to work even if you reinstall the OS. Maybe it uses the MAC address of your Ethernet port to try to uniquely ID the PC? I wonder how that would work with Virtual PC, which, as I recall, allows you to create virtual NICs with any MAC address.

"Still, he speculated that the service could be marketed as a positive. When opening an account, a new user could specify the exact computers and exact credit cards he or she will use on that site. If a different PC tries to complete a transaction with one of the specified credit cards, the Web site can send questions to the prospective buyer that will help authenticate her."

"Marketed as a positive" -- dream on.

Posted by Mike at 07:53 PM

July 30, 2006

UI Validation isn't that hard

After filling out an "email" form to contact customer service at our bank, I got the error "The transaction date you have entered is invalid. Please re-enter a valid date in "MM/DD/YY" format.". Sure enough, I had entered the transaction date as "7/25/06", not "07/25/06".

This kind of thing happens all the time on web forms. Another common example is phone number entry fields, which often demand the form of aaa-bbb-cccc or (aaa)bbb-cccc, or some other variant, refusing to accept any other.

This isn't rocket science. Most systems have APIs that can take various formats for date strings and figure out what they really mean. Even if there isn't an API on your web platform of choice, it can't be that hard to parse manually. However long it takes to implement, I would bet any amount of money that it's a fraction of the time spent by users re-entering data that didn't pass the validation.

Posted by Mike at 07:41 PM | Comments (1)

Time for a new name

The blog has a new name.

Posted by Mike at 07:42 PM | Comments (3)

July 31, 2006

Sometimes spam is funny

From: Albert [mailto:deleted]
Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 11:33 AM
To: deleted
Subject: your chance


Hope I am not writing to wrong address. I abm nice, pretty looking girl. I am planning on visiting your towan this month. Can a we meet each other in person?

I cannot offhand recall ever having met a pretty looking girl with a name like Albert.

Posted by Mike at 10:55 AM