Hike to China Flat

Jes and I just got back from a hike to China Flat. The nice thing about this hike is that it’s right in our back yard. We should have taken advantage of it years ago.

Here are some links for the hike:

No Memory Upgrade Today

A few days ago, we bought some RAM for one of the computers at work.  We were able to add 2GB of memory for about $75.  That sounded like a really good deal to me, so I started looking into it for my computer.

I looked at an upgrade last Fall when I was working on the Netflix Prize, but it turns out that my motherboard (ABIT AV8) has a problem with more than two sticks of “double rank” (aka dual rank, aka dual sided) memory.  It won’t run at full speed unless you use at least two “single rank” DIMMs.  In most cases, you’re better off with less RAM running at full speed than more RAM running slower.  My current RAM is, of course, double rank and so is all of the other RAM that I’ve looked at.  So, if I want to upgrade to more than my 1GB, I’ll need to buy a full 2GB and replace my current memory (as opposed to just adding 1GB).

When I looked in to it last time, it was going to cost about $180 for 2GB.  Which is much more than I want to spend.  Seeing the great price for the memory at work, I started to think that prices have dropped and I can afford the upgrade.  After doing some research, I found that prices have dropped, but the memory I want is still $150 for 2GB — more than twice as much as the RAM that we bought at work!  This is like a 2007 Honda Accord selling for half as much as a 2005 Accord today — it just doesn’t happen in most markets.
You might be thinking that I’m looking at buying better RAM than what we got at work.  Nope.  The cheap RAM is actually better (PC2-5300 DDR2 vs. PC-3200 DDR) than what I need.   Unfortunately, I can’t just buy the newer, cheaper, memory and use it in my computer because it’s a different connection type (and for other reasons).  I’m not sure if it’s Moore’s Law, Economies of scale, or something else.   (Of course, it’s Supply and Demand, but that doesn’t explain how it’s different than cars.)  It looks like I won’t be upgrading today.  Oh well, maybe it’s about time to buy a whole new computer.

Error Uninstalling Oblivion

I’ve been getting the following error when I try to uninstall Oblivion:

>SetupDLL\SetupDLL.cpp (390)
PAPP:Oblivion
PVENDOR:Bethesda Softworks (http://www.bethsoft.com)
PGUID:35CB6715-41F8-4F99-8881-6FC75BF054B0
$11.0.0.28844
@Windows XP Service Pack 2 (2600) BT_OTHER 376.21

The patch notes say that there is a known bug and that all you have to do is reinstall Oblivion to clear it up.  Unfortunately, every time I tried to do that, the installer would crash at the end and I’d continue to get the above error when uninstalling.

This forum has a suggestion to remove the c:\program files\common files\installshield directory.  I’m not sure if that helps, but it may.  There might be some voodoo with leaving the “install shortcut on desktop” and “view ReadMe file” options checked that helps the install complete correctly.

Still INTJ

I just retook the Humanmetrics Jung Topology Test (a Myers-Briggs type personality test).  I’ve been taking this test or similar tests over the years and almost always turn out to be an INTJ.  According to today’s test, my numbers where: Introverted 89%, Intuitive 78%, Thinking 88%, Judging 44% (the higher the percentage, the farther along that axis).  I’m not sure how accurate these tests are, but comparing it with my results on the same test from two year ago — I’m less introverted, more intuitive, more thinking, and more judging.  My next closest personality type is INTP, which also describes me well.

Wii Sports

Wii Sports is the game that comes bundled with the Nintendo Wii. It’s a collection of 5 simplified sports games: tennis, baseball, golf, bowling, and boxing. In each game, you use the motion sensitive controllers to play as if you were really performing the activity. You can play against the computer, or with another person. Wii Sports is really popular, and not just because it came as a bundle. It’s much more fun to play than you might think by watching. The game also includes training modes and a fitness test that you run once a day.

The graphics aren’t going to knock your socks off, but they’re clean and friendly. I can’t complain about the sound effects.  There’s no trendy music playing in the background that you might find in other sports games. The use of the speaker and rumble feature on the controller really add to the immersion. The only thing that is really missing is online play.  You also have to learn which gestures the controls are really sensing.  It’s not always best to move it in a completely realistic manner.

Jesse and I have easily put in 10 hours playing it during the past week. I don’t see us getting bored with it anytime soon, and I’m sure it will provide great entertainment for our guests in the coming years.  Overall, I give it 8/10.

We got a Wii

Thanks for Gizmodo’s tip-off, we finally got a Wii.  For those not in the know, the Wii is Nintendo’s new video game system.  I’ve been trying to buy one for over a month now without any luck.  I’d call around to Target, Best Buy, EB Games, Circuit City, and anywhere else that I thought might have them.  I’d always ask the same question: “Do you have any Nintendo Wiis in stock?”, and always got the same answer: “No.”  Well, one time, a couple weeks ago, I was told that they had in the day before, but quickly sold out.  Wii’s have been sold out (or nearly so) since they launched last November, and there’s no sign of sales slowing down.

When I saw the Gizmodo rumor stating that each Best Buy would have at least 12 in stock, I wanted to try to get one.  Another friend of mine, John, (who’s also been looking) and I decided that we’d meet at Best Buy at 9:30 AM (half an hour before opening) to wait for the store to open.

This morning, I got up early to go running and checked the Best Buy website, which confirmed the rumor.  I also noticed a comment on Gizmodo by someone who works at Best Buy.  They said that they’d had a line for every delivery since the Wiis were released.  Since we were already up, Jesse and I decided to go ahead and leave right away.  I emailed John to let him know about the change, and we were on our way.

We ended up arriving at 8:45 (1 hr. 15 min before the store opened), and there was already a line.  I don’t know how early the first person arrived, but we were number 10.  We took our place and waited.  A few minutes later, a couple more people showed up, and a few minutes after that — even more.  There were some kids in line, but most people were in their 20’s or 30’s.  From the sounds of the chatter, the older adults weren’t buying Wiis for their kids; they were really buying them for themselves (good job Nintendo!).

A little after 9:00, John called to say that he was on his way.  I warned him that there were already more than 12 people in line, so there was a chance that Best Buy would be sold out.  I’d also heard that Circuit City was getting a shipment, so I suggested that he check that out.  By the time he got there, they’d already run out of tickets to buy the Wiis.  At about the same time, a Best Buy manager stepped out and started handing out tickets (one per customer) to the people in line.  Jesse and I each took one (#10 and #11) so that John would be able to buy one.  The manager explained that the Wiis were stored in a secure location, and that we had between 10:00 and 11:00 to take our ticket to the checkout stand and buy our Wii.  They had something like 30 in stock, but it didn’t take long for them to sell out.  John showed up soon after, we gave him a ticket, got breakfast, and then bought our Wiis.  Jes and I also picked up Wii Play (a game that comes with a controller), an extra Nunchuk attachment, and Super Paper Mario.

Here’s the part where I tell you what I actually think about the system.  It’s great.  The setup is pretty easy.  Just plug in the power, TV connector cables, and sensor bar, and you’re all set.  Once you get it turned on, you still have to set up things like the date, time, and wireless Internet access, but that’s all pretty straight forward.  I went ahead and ran a system update right away, and downloaded the Everybody Votes channel and the Opera web browser (while it’s still free).  The download process was a bit slow, but it gave me some time to read the manuals.  Once everything was set up, we really gave it a test drive and started having fun.

Reviews of the individual games will have to wait for another day.  I will say that Wii Sports is a lot of fun, especially tennis.  Wii Play’s collection of mini-games is, well, mixed — but there are some real gems in their.  I’ve only just started Super Paper Mario, but it looks pretty strange at this point.  More news and reviews to come; I’m sure.

Word Count

I miss my old blog‘s word count feature, so I’m working on a way to bring it back in WordPress.

It looks like the TD Word Count plugin did the trick. The one problem with it is that it’s really only designed to generate stats that are visible on the author dashboard. I added a little “stats” group to my sidebar with the following code so that I could make some of the info public.

It looks like I’m currently at 103,181 words in 547 posts (not including this one).

<?php
    $tdwordcount_data = get_option('tdwordcount_data');
?>
<table width="100%">
<tr>
    <td>Posts: </td><td align="right"><?php print(number_format($tdwordcount_data['numposts_pub'])); ?></td>
</tr>
<tr>
    <td>Words: </td><td align="right"><?php print(number_format($tdwordcount_data['numwords_pub'])); ?></td>
</tr>
</table>

More Greasemonkey

I just published two new Greasemonkey scripts.  One, Google Tab Saver, modifies the Google personalized home page so that it remembers which tab you last selected on the current computer (browser, really).  The main purpose is so you can have a tab for home, and a tab for work.  If you run Firefox + Greasemonkey + this script both at home and at work, then you can easily create different personalized home pages for each environment and not have to bother with switching back and forth twice a day.

The second script is for digg.com, a popular news site.  Hide Buried Comments will completely hide (display: none) comments that have been buried, along with any replies in the thread.  For the most part, the comments have been buried for a good reason, and I don’t want to see those parts of the discussion.

To use either of these scripts, you’ll need to be running Firefox and have the Greasemonkey extension installed.  Follow the links above to get started.

New Blog Theme

I’m working on a new blog theme. Please excuse any ugly.

Update: I’m pretty happy with the new look. What do you think?

Recipe: Dirty Rice and Pork

Here’s an easy recipe for dirty rice with pork that I made last night.

Ingredients:
1 Box Dirty Rice Mix (look for Zatarain’s low sodium)
1 1/2 lb. pork shoulder
Olive Oil

Directions:
In a frying pan, heat a couple table spoons of olive oil. Cut the pork in to 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes. Brown the pork. While the the pork is cooking, start preparing the dirty rice according to the directions on the box. Once the pork is nicely browned, add it to the partially cooked rice. Once the rice is done cooking, let it rest for a few minutes and enjoy. I suggest adding some Tabasco sauce to taste. Serves four.

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