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Flashlight comparison [Jun. 23rd, 2013|03:23 pm]
Given two dollar tree flashlights, one that uses 3 LEDs and 3 AAA batteries, and another that uses a single incandescent bulb with 2 AA batteries, which is better?  Which will last longer, which is brighter, which has a better distance, how do they die (ie, do they dim slowly, or suddenly?  If I drop them both from a distance of 5 feet, do both fail, neither, or just the incandescent?)?
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Which of my slots have memory? [Jun. 19th, 2012|10:10 pm]
I realized the other day that this computer only has 2GB of RAM, so I decided to look into upgrading it. I found out what type of memory the machine needs and the maximum, but before buying it, I wanted to see what how many slots I had available. Did they send it to me with 4 sticks of 512 MB? 2 sticks of 1 GB? 1 stick of 2 GB?
I didn't really want to shut down and open the case, so I looked around online. First, I found this site: http://www.watchingthenet.com/how-many-open-memory-slots-are-in-my-computer.html
It says I can use the online scanner tool from crucial.com to see the total number of slots (which I could also get from the manufacturer web page) and how many slots are in use. It also mentioned another product called SIW (System Information for Windows), which also doesn't require installation and will provide even more information about the installed memory.
As I read through the SIW EULA, I saw that they use OpenCandy, so before I continued in that direction, I decided to check out the next good looking link on the search results page.
I found this page: http://www.walkernews.net/2009/11/21/use-wmi-to-find-out-ram-slot-in-used-and-memory-size-of-each-slot/
It said I could use WMIC to query WMI for the memory information, which appealed to me as a method that didn't require any installations or EULAs or funny extra software, and was I method that, if it worked, would also work on other machines running Vista or Win 7. I opened a command prompt, typed WMIC, and found myself at a WMIC prompt. I entered memorychip, and it gave me more information that I needed, including which slots were in use. I probably could have typed something like
wmic MEMORYCHIP get banklabel, devicelocator, caption, capacity
as per the page author's suggestion, but I'm never going to remember all of that later, whereas I might remember that I can type WMIC to get to a place where I can query WMI.

One more suggestion if you find yourself querying WMI using this method: WMIC /? has helpful information.
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Washer problems continue [Mar. 13th, 2012|07:32 am]
(To the tune of "A little Help from my Friends")
What do you do when your washer explodes?
You get out a mop and get to work!

or maybe
You get out a bucket and start to bail!

The washer saga continues -- twice before, the washer had failed to stop filling, leading to puddles of various size on the kitchen floor.  The first time, it was completely unexpected, so the puddle was large and spanned multiple rooms.  After that, I was wary, so I noticed quickly when sometime later the sounds from the washer seemed wrong, and I was able to stop it before much water had spilled onto the floor.  This time, I wasn't the one doing the washing, and while I thought things sounded a bit odd, I didn't pay enough attention to it.  When I did finally get up, I saw Pearl staring at the kitchen with her tail at an odd angle.  My first thought -- is she urinating on the floor?  Staring at another cat?  I approached the door and saw the answer -- nope, she is staring at a huge puddle of water forming on the kitchen floor.

So I stopped the washer, enlisted help, and we spent the rest of evening sopping up water.

Fixing the problem: The last two times, the problem has been that an air tube from the basin to the water level sensor has been disconnected.  I've been able to reconnect it and get on with things.  This time, reconnecting it didn't help.  After I reconnect it and re-start the washer, it continues to fill, instead of the other times when it would notice "Ah, the washer is full!  I'll move on to the next step in this state machine."  So now we have clothes and rags hanging all over the house.

And I'm rediscovering the fact that I don't know of anywhere to wash clothes around here -- I can no longer just go to the laundry on the corner.
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This weekend [Jun. 1st, 2010|09:52 pm]
I'm trying to decide if I want to go to the BareNaked Ladies concert on Friday, or maybe join a friend at the ArtWalk. What are -you- doing?
And, of course, when are you going to the Greek Fest?
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TMBG and Jonathan Coulton [Mar. 10th, 2010|07:05 am]
Apparently, TMBG and Jonathan Coulton are performing in town tomorrow night.  I'm not sure if I'm exicted enough to go.  Are you going?
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Snow! Lizard arrived safely. [Dec. 19th, 2009|09:29 am]
Lizard called us yesterday afternoon to ask if she could stay here if she couldn't make it to North Carolina (she was travelling from Pennsylvania, and was in Maryland at the time).  At 9:30pm, she was an estimated 30 miles north of Richmond, and therefore an hour away from us in good weather.

At 6am, we work up and noticed that she hadn't arrived.  As we headed for the phone to give her a call, we noticed her trying to make her way up the driveway.  An hour later, the three of us had successfully moved her car out of the way of the road.

I expect things to get better throughout the day and tomorrow, but until then: be careful!  Avoid driving if you can.  And expect things to take longer.  I'm considering walking a few miles down the road to the grocery store, sometime early this afternoon.  We'll see how things are.

I'm glad this hit today, instead of yesterday during the traditional work week.
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Thought of the day: Reconsidering my hobbyist roots [Jan. 31st, 2009|12:53 pm]
When I was younger, I used to enjoy hobby electronics.  I had my copies of Getting Started in Electronics by Forrest M Mims the 3rd, and I taught myself (and learned at school) a few things about ..  telephone lines, miscellaneous chips, and small circuits in general.  I've had some training and academic experience, but nothing real in several years.

I recently had a fresh desire to try a small circuit -- an ethernet cable tester, specifically.  As part of this, I have been looking into the possibility of purchasing a CMOS chips -- probably a 4017, maybe a 4011, probably not a 4026.  I realized I have no idea who to buy this stuff from anymore!  Back in the day, I could go to Radio Shack and be pretty sure they would have it.  A common chip like a quad nand or a BCD decoder would probably be available in the store, even if I had to pay a bit for it.

I went back to Radio Shack yesterday and found that they seem to have removed themselves form the IC business.  I found various components and connectors, switches and LEDs, but not a single chip.  I returned home and looked online, and I can find references to chips -- old manuals and spec sheets and the like, but their main search doesn't return anything.  It looks like they are making a bigger effort to be a consumer electronics store, and putting less into supporting hobbyists.  If that's their plan, I wish them luck -- it means they have to compete against the Best Buy/Circuit City/Walmart crowd.  It'll be unfortunate when we lose the ability to go out and pick up anything for the hobbyist.

My next step was to find somewhere online to purchase things, and (ideally) some company with whom I already have a relationship and with whom I've already shared my personal data.  Unfortunately, (but not surprisingly,) neither Amazon.com nor Buy.com seem to have anything to offer in terms of hobby electronics.

Do you know anyone who works with hobby electronics?  If so, where do they shop?  Online is what I'm looking for, but if you know someone in Richmond/Chesterfield, that would be nice too.
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Which car? [Sep. 14th, 2008|07:34 pm]
Given these choices, which would you purchase/recommend, and why?
Other thoughts are appreciated as well.

Honda Civic
Honda Fit
Nissan Sentra
Nissan Versa
Toyota Corolla
Toyota Yaris Sedan

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Java vulnerability; how to quickly remove old versions? [Jul. 15th, 2007|09:47 pm]
Late last week, I was made aware of a Privilege Escalation vulnerability in Java: http://sunsolve.sun.com/search/document.do?assetkey=1-26-102934-1.
It sounds like the typical "Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less affected than users who operate with administrative user rights."  Unfortunately, many users are administrators.

The solution is to have (only) the latest version(s) of the JRE/JDK/SDK installed:
    * JDK and JRE 6 Update 1 or later
    * JDK and JRE 5.0 Update 11 or later
    * SDK and JRE 1.4.2_15 and later

Now, I have a good number of machines that may have JRE 6 update 1 installed, but probably also have several JRE 5s installed and a few JRE 1.4.2s. 
I am somewhat encouraged by the statement that PCs with JRE 6 (that is, Java 5 update 6 and later) can no longer specify which version of the plug-in to use.  That should mean that as long as a machine has 6 on it, we should be fine.  Still, I'll feel better if we can get rid of the old versions. 

If I remember correctly, when you install JRE 1.4.2_15 on top of JRE 1.4.2_14, both versions continue to exist.
Does anyone know of a way to remove all of the older duplicate JREs -- perhaps even all of the JREs -- short of going through Add/Remove programs and removing each instance manually?
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ScreenCap in progress! [Aug. 20th, 2006|09:05 pm]
Several months ago, I became interested in making a program that would take periodic screenshots of my computer screen, so at the end of the day I could look back over them and be reminded of how all of my hours disappeared.
I've now finally gotten around to it, in VB.Net, and I think I'm making good progress. All of my proof-of-concept code worked, so I made a front end for it (which hasn't yet gone through QA, but I think it looks okay) and now I'm alpha testing. Features of the moment: It can capture immediately, or every 'n' seconds. After a capture, it can sound a standard Windows beep or play any other wave, or remain silent (most useful for short period timed captures). It can capture into a GIF, JPG, or PNG (Thanks, .NET!). It allows the user to specify the folder into which images are placed. Main bug of the moment: On the timed captures, the window doesn't hide fast enough, so it is still there when the snapshot is taken. Still, not bad for a day (ie, a several hours on a Sunday afternoon) of work.
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