Hat Trick!So hockey fans know that a hat trick is when a player scores three goals in one game. I'm sure it's the same in Soccer, but I'm not a soccer fan. Well last night I scored my first hat trick ever and I wasn't playing hockey or soccer. Teri and I have started hanging out at a local establishment for some chips and salsa and some cold beverages. As pubs do, they have games. This is no exception.
Back in the early to mid 90's, I kind of got into playing darts. You know the electronic dart boards you see at bars and other places? Yeah, those darts. I even at one point went out and bought my own darts from the Dart Shop on Pacific avenue here in Tacoma. (I don't know if they even exist any more, but back in the day, they were the spot for darts!) About a year ago, I ran across my old darts in a drawer and on a whim, threw them in my car. There have been a couple occasions over the past year or so that I've pulled them out. Last night was one of those occasions.
Teri and I and a co-worker of her's were all shooting darts. My favorite game is Cricket. Cricket is where you have to hit each the 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15 and Bulls Eye three times. There are other rules beyond that, but that's the basic premise. Now I wouldn't call myself particularly good at darts, but I can hold my own with most on again off again recreational players.
So last night it came down to Darren and I having closed out 15 - 20. (I like to close the numbers out in order 20 - 15, then bulls eye . . . it's a quirk, I know) Neither of us had hit a bulls eye, but Darren had scored about 45 points more than me in closing out various numbers at different times. So really the only way I could beat him was to hit 4 bulls eyes before he hit three.
I stepped up and threw my first dart, Bulls Eye! . . . Lined up for my second shot and Bulls eye! And you can probably see where this is going, I hit the Bulls Eye again with my thrid dart! It was AWESOME! I can't EVER remember getting a hat trick before! And then something weird happened, someone didn't push player change or something and when I was up again, I hit the Bull 2 out of 3 darts again! (But it was still on Teri's turn, so I ended up closing out the bulls eye for her) On my next official turn, I hit the bull again with my first dart and won the game. It was really fun! So now I can mark that off my bucket list . . .
Scored a Hat Trick in Darts!
So yesterday I went to RoadRunner Sports
at Kent Station at the urging of my friend Carl. Last year as I was training for my triathlon, I bought some new running shoes. Some (what I thought) nice Asics. Well after about 40 or 50 miles in them, I blew out the rear air sole in one of them. I continued to use them for the rest of the summer and through the Triathalon. However, this winter, I've known I needed some new running shoes before I start training again next year. So I headed to RoadRunner Sports. They do a REALLY and I mean REALLY good job of fitting you for the proper shoe.
First thing they do is have you take off your shoes and socks and walk across a pad on the floor. This registers on a computer and shows where your foot strikes the ground the hardest. After that, they have you run on a treadmill and videotape the backs of your feet to see if you have any "pronation
" to your stride. So based on these two tests, they can determine the style of shoe you should be wearing. From there, they measure you, width and length and pull some suitable shoes. They pulled a pair of Asics, a pair of Brooks and a pair of New Balance for me.
After you walk in all three pairs, they watch you walk down and back, you determine which feel the best out of the box. The brooks and Asics were about equal for me. Then they fit each pair with different insoles to get you the exact perfect fit. I ended up with the Brooks. I will tell you it was by far the most I had ever spent on any pair of shoes (save for my plastic boots to climb Rainier) but they are by FAR the most comfortable running shoes I've ever worn. They are supposedly good for 600 - 700 miles, so I jokingly said "So what, I can wear these for the rest of my life?" HA!
If you ever need running shoes, I'd highly recommend RoadRunner Sports. They rock!
John's Geeked Out Extended WeekendIn my previous post, I aluded to the Geeked Out Weekend I had. Here are the details (for anyone who cares) of this extended weekend of geekdom:
It all started Thursday when my boxes from eCost and Newegg arrived at the office. In the box from eCost was my new Windows Home Server. (The second of the week since the one from HP had arrived DOA!). In the box from NewEgg was:
1. RAM for my laptop (4GB)
2. RAM for my desktop (2GB)
3. New Video card for my desktop (ATI Radeon 1300 PCI)
4. RAM for my new Windows Home Server (2GB)
5. New Processor for my new Windows Home Server
6. 1 TB (Yes, that's TERABYTE!) SATA Hard drive for the WHS
So as soon as I got it, I set apart tearing apart my laptop. (Did I ever mention that I have zero patience when it comes to new toys?) Now I've upgraded laptop memory a few times before, but this was the first time I had to take the freaking KEYBOARD off to get to one of the DIMM slots! Who's brainiac idea was this? there is one perfectly good DIMM slot on the bottom of the laptop, but the other is under the keyboard. Fortunately my friend the Internet had all the instructions I needed. Upgrade complete! I now have 4GB of RAM in my laptop.
When I got home, I proceeded to plug in the WHS and connect it to the network. (By the way, I love my builder. He is nearly as much a geek as I am and he ran TWO CAT5 cables to every room in the house, so I'm not without spare wired network connections) The moment of truth, would it even power on? (the last one did not) Yes! Success! It powered on with no issues! While it was booting up, I cracked the case on my home PC. I installed the new RAM and Video card. It booted just fine. Once in Windows XP, I disabled the onboard video card and connected the DVI cable to the monitor and new video card. A simple re-boot and I was now using the new video card! While the resolution was the same, everything SEEMED crisper. I know I was probably imagining it, but the DVI connection is a MUCH better connection than your standard VGA connection, so maybe it WAS crisper? Who knows?
Now that the WHS had booted, I installed the client software on my home PC. I connected to the WHS and commenced the update process. All the Microsoft and HP updates took nearly an hour to install. After that was done,, I installed the 1TB drive into the WHS. That process was a snap and WHS recognized it and balanced the storage nearly immediately. Finally, I started a backup of my home PC. That process took a few hours and basically I just let it run over night. The next morning, I started by moving all my music collection off my TerraStation onto the new WHS. Again, that took a few hours to complete. I also installed the client software on my laptop and started the backup process for that as well. NOW . . . you want some wait times? How about this!? A full 18+ hours to backup my laptop! (BTW, the WHS does "smart" backups, so subsequent backups have taken less than 30 minutes to complete).
Once I had my music collection moved over, I copied a number of important files off the home PC to the server, just to be doubly sure I could get to them. Then I decided it was time. Time to do a Windows Vista Ultimate install on my home PC. The RAM and Video card were specifically for this purpose. And you know what? Other than Vista downloading and installing updates at least once per day since it's been installed, the installation process went very smoothly. At one point it had 71 updates to install. Another update session had 40+ updates to install. But overall, the update process went very smoothly. After installing Vista Ultimate, I installed Office 2007 Professional and the next time I can get to the office I'll grab my Creative Suite (CS3) DVD's and install that too. I had to of course re-install the HP client software, but that was a cinch and that evening, my new Vista installation was completely backed up automatically. VERY cool! I told Windows Media Center and iTunes where to find my music collection and they imported it without a hitch.
I've tried getting the Windows Media Center Extender software running on my X-Box 360, but it's wonky at best. I think my wireless signal is too low for it to really run effectively, so I'm going to work on getting my 360 hardwired to the network here very soon. (I think I have an open network connection behind my TV, I'll have to double check)
ONE NOTE: If you're doing a re-install of an OS or upgrading an OS, pay particular attention to ANY software that has to be "ACTIVATED" . . . like iTunes, Adobe Creative Suite, Office Professional, etc. You'll want to make sure that before re-formatting your hard drive that you DEACTIVATE that software, or you could run into licensing issues when you go to re-install it.
Now that the WHS was set up and it was flawlessly backing up my two PC's (I'll get Teri's backed up here too) I copied over all my pictures from my laptop. Again, another 68 GB of data . . . took a good 5 hours to copy. I have pictures from my three digital cameras I've owned and there must be close to 7,000 photos in my collection. (Scott, I know I'm not even close to you) So it's nice to have them backed up a couple of times. I'd hate to lose them. But now that the WHS was running flawlessly, I had to mess with it. :-)
So today, I cracked the case and disassembled it according to Donovan West's awesome instructions at Home Server Hacks. After having my server in pieces on my office desk (Hey, it's no different than having $100,000 worh of Compaq ProLiant server parts on the data center floor on Christmas Eve a few years ago is it?) I popped in the new RAM and the new processor and put it back together. I'm happy to report that IT . . . IS . . . ALIVE! with 2GB of RAM (512Mb is standard) and a new faster processor.
My Geeked out weekend is at an end sadly . . . . but there is one more thing I've yet to accomplish . . . installing Windows Vista Ultimate on my laptop. I'll save that for another weekend.
But what fun it was playing with all this stuff . . . now it's time to get back to work!
My Home Network . . . and I don't think I'm THAT uniqueSo as I was having my geeked out weekend this weekend, (more in another post) I was looking at my home network and was amazed at what I saw. I really don't think I'm that unique in the number of devices that I have on my network, but in all honesty, I probably DO more with them than most ever would. So here's a quick rundown of my home network:
1. Comcast Cable "Modem" providing Internet, Cable and Phone (VoIP)
2. Linksys BEFSR81 Broadband/DSL Router with 8 port switch
3. Linksys WAP54G 802.11 Wireless G Access Point
4. Linksys WAP54G 802.11 Wireless G Access Point (serving as repeater)
5. Windows Vista Ultimate Home PC (Dell Optiplex 170L)
6. Brother MFC-8840D Multi Function Laser Copier/Printer/Scanner/Fax
7. Microsoft X-Box 360 with Media Center Extender installed.
OK, here's where I probably go off the grid a bit, but not far I imagine:
8. HP MediaSmart EX470 running Windows Home Server (With 1.5 TB of storage!)
9. Buffalo TerraStation Network Attached Storage (NAS) (The WHS above will eventually replace this)
10. Denon 4308ci Home Theater Receiver
11. Teri's Laptop (Dell Latitude C840)
12. My Laptop (Dell Latitude D830)
13. My iPhone or iPod Touch
So that's 13 or 14 items potentially on my network at the same time! I can honestly see "normal" people having 5 or 6 items on their network. But really, without my geeked out past life as a network and systems administrator, I'd be spending a whole lot of time on the phone with tech support managing these devices. I don't know how normal Joe Blow consumer does it?
The price of technology . . .
I'm constantly amazed at the price of technology items. Earlier this week, I ordered an HP MediaSmart EX470
Windows Home Server. This little box, recommended to me by Steve
, is pretty cool. It comes with a 500 GB hard drive, and AMD processor of some sort and 512 MB of RAM. It runs the Windows Home Server
(WHS) operating system and basically handles server functions at home. It has 3 empty hard drive bays that you can fill with your choice of SATA drives to increase your capacity. Mainly I'm getting this because I need a good backup solution for my laptop. I've got a ton of data on my laptop that I'd be hosed without. So rather than feeding my laptop endless DVDs to backup to, this is a much more elegant solution. (And another write off just before tax season can't hurt right?)
Steve turned me on to a website/blog called "Home Server Hacks
". They explain different ways to expand the capabilities of this little device in particluar. A couple of the articles dealt with adding more RAM
and installing a faster processor
. Now, the device out of the gate was $419.00. I can remember when I bought my last processor, a Pentium III 450 MHz, it cost over $400.00 on it's own. And don't even get me started on what I've paid for RAM over the past decade or more. So I thought upgrading the RAM and processor must be pretty expensive. As I was researching on Newegg
, turns out to upgrade the unit from 512MB of ram to 2GB (4X the RAM) is all of $23.00 and yes, the decimal is in the right spot. WHAT?! So I said, OK well then the processor, an AMD Athlon 64 LE-1640 MUST be at least a couple hundred bucks then right? Nope, $36.00. How is this possible? For less than $60.00 I get 4X the RAM and a processor performance increase of 45%? AWESOME.
So I started researching RAM for my laptop. When I bought my laptop about 1.5 years ago, I got 2GB of RAM (2 X 1GB). There was an option for 4GB (2 X 2GB) but it was an additional $270.00 to do the upgrade. I decided not to. Well now that I'm considering upgrading to Vista Ultimate, I decided to look on Newegg
for RAM for the laptop too. 4GB of Laptop RAM ends up costing me $38.00 ($43.00 - $5.00 coupon). HOLY CRAP. Now I'm on a roll. I should upgrade the RAM in my desktop too from 1GB to it's max of 2GB . . . $41.00 . . . How about a Terabyte drive to go in the new server too!? $99.00 with FREE shipping! WOW!
This is just amazing to me. I just can't believe it. I can't wait until they actually start PAYING ME to take the technology off their hands! :-) Now to decide if it's worth upgrading the onboard video on my home machine to an ATI Radeon X1300 256 Mb video card just to run the Windows Vista Aero interface . . . decisions, decisions.
The iPhone is Hands Down The Best Business Phone I've Ever Used!
OK, I know I've been going on and on about my iPod touch the last month and a half or so. Well I loved my iPod touch so much, that I just had to have the iPhone. I mean my iPod did such a better job of connecting to e-mail, handling contacts and calendar events than my Windows Mobile phone ever did, that the thought of combining the iPod WITH a Phone, GPS, Bluetooth and AT&T's 3G network was too much to pass up. And am I ever glad I made the switch! (I'm also glad I waited for the 3G iPhone rather than getting the 1st gen iPhone)
Why am I so enamoured with this little device? I don't honestly know where to begin. There is so much I like about this phone and very little I don't, I simply want to say "Just get one, you'll be happy, I promise!"
OK, first up, my contacts are handled way better than my Windows Mobile Phone. The iPhone out of the box syncs more fields and details about your contacts than WM ever did. I couldn't even find an add on product for my Windows mobile phone to do what I wanted to do and it had POCKET OUTLOOK for crying out loud!
Next, e-mail functionality on the iPhone is supurb. Connecting to my Gmail account and the Exchange server at work is a snap. Now when I'm out and about and I get e-mail at work, my iPhone beeps and boom, I can reply right there if I want to. (Yes, I could have set up my WM device to work like this too, but it certainly was not as elegant)
The Web browser is NEARLY as good as having a full fledged web browser on a desktop machine. The 3G network has proven to be plenty fast and most web sites load without issue. Many developers have even written iPhone specific websites so should you visit them, you'll have the option of viewing the iPhone specific version OR their regular site. Very slick!
YouTube just works. Nuff said about that. But now when I'm doing a listing presentation for someone, I can SHOW them right from my phone what their video tour will look like. AWESOME!
Viewing PDFs is a breeze. Adobe Acrobat comes pre-installed, so viewing PDFs in an e-mail or website is a snap. It just works.
The App store. I could do an entire blog post about the App store alone. But I've downloaded a number of apps that I use everyday that cost me little to no money. I have a To-Do list, so if I'm sitting somewhere and think of something I need to do, I just create a to-do item. I have a voice recorder, so if I'm DRIVING and need to remember something, I just record a reminder. I have a mortgage calculator that just today, I was able to show someone how they could BUY a condo instead of rent one. I even update my Facebook status regularly. (And the games are pretty kick-a$$ too!) Seriously, too much to list here.
Bluetooth. The phone paired with my car in no time and even supports Phonebook import, so with a push of a button, I loaded all my contacts from my phone into my car's navigation/entertainment system. Now I can look them up there OR on the iPhone whichever is more convenient.
iPod. Of course the iPhone is a full function iPod touch too. Nuff said.
GPS. Man this would have come in handy in Europe! Using Google Maps, now you have a functioning GPS right in the palm of your hands. I still use the Nav system in my car, but if I were in someone else's car, this could come in handy!
I've had Palm Treos. I've had Windows Mobile Phones. I've had normal phones. The iPhone is by far the BEST business phone I've ever used. Some drawbacks: No MMS, so no sending pictures back and forth. But I assume that when enough people complain about this, Apple will add it in. The Auto-Correct is somewhat annoying until you get used to it. No Copy/Paste. This is a huge drawback and I hope they come up with an elegant solution to it soon. Steve complains about no Stereo Bluetooth, but I don't use Bluetooth headphones, so it's a non-issue for me. Hopefully they'll correct that with a firmwear update as well.
The iPhone rocks, no doubt. And I was worried about AT&T's coverage, but so far so good. I think I've only dropped one call so far. The service coverage is very good IMHO.