Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's not Christmas without tentacle..

I drove up to NJ today to spend Christmas with the family. It was an interesting drive. One of the traditions in an Italian Catholic family like ours is fish on Christmas Eve. Traditionally, it's 7 fishes, but given my parents age and health problems, not to mention the fact that most of us don't like most of the fish anyway, we are down to 3. My brother and I helped out with the cooking - I cut a ton of garlic, while my brother made the traditional Calamari (squid) in tomato sauce - featured above, served over spaghetti. It's actually pretty tasty, but it's not the most ascetically pleasing dish around.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I thought I parked here...

My truck, before I cleaned it off.

Just a little bit of snow.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Scenes from the snowpocalypse...

So the Baltimore Metro area is currently in the middle of one of the biggest snowstorms ever. I have yet to venture outside, figuring that there is nowhere that I absolutely need to be for at least the next 36 hours - I plan on spending much of tomorrow shoveling and extracting the Danger Ranger from it's snowy cocoon. I spent most of today sitting around in sweatpants, although I also cranked out 3 batches of Christmas cookies.

Anyway, this pic is outside my window, taken around noon or so. Since then, it's continued to snow - the yellow Ranger is mine, and the snow on the back (I have an ARE hard tounneau cover) is now pretty much up to the top of the cab.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fun with Windows 7...

So everyone I've talked to has said that Windows 7 is really easy to install. And in my previous experiences with it, it was - I've installed the beta and the RTM on several real and virtual machines without a problem.

Until now.

Last year, I decided to build a Hackintosh - a PC hacked to run MacOS -as my main machine. I bought the recommended motherboard - an Asus P5W DH Deluxe - off of eBay, and assembled the rest of the parts from stuff I had lying around that I got free or cheap after rebate, plus a couple new parts from Newegg (processor, hard drive, ect). The first motherboard I bought didn't work, and by the time I found a replacement, I'd kind of lost interest - Apple came out with a Mac Mini that had dual monitor support, which was my main reason for building the hackintosh in the first place, and i began to question the wisdom of running a pirated, hacked OS on my main production machine.

So the Hackintosh sat at a friend's house for a while. A few weeks ago, I got a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate from a Microsoft event. I figured I'd grab the Hackintosh, throw 7 on it, and hook it up to my 42" LCD TV to stream music and movies to from my NAS. So yesterday I grabbed the machine, hooked it up, and threw in the Win7 DVD.

It booted up, started loading Windows, and then went to a blue screen with a stop screen and hex. Googled it, and found out it was an ACPI BIOS error. Went into BIOS, turned on ACPI 2.0 support, and it went past the error... only to stall on a "starting windows" screen.

Did a little googling, and found that this error was pretty common on Asus mobos. Tried a bunch of the suggestions - disabling the second NIC in BIOS, disabling USB ports, ect. Finally tonight I took out two of the 4 sticks of RAM and unplugged the USB card reader. It loaded fine, and after it was loaded I powered down and put the RAM and card reader back in and it still boots.

I've still got to finish loading some more software before it's ready for the TV. But the next time somone tells me how easy 7 is to install, I have a story for them....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas cookies...

For years, my mom has baked a bunch of Christmas cookies, including M&M cookies with red and green M&M's. Since she has some health issues, and my dad has even more, it seemed unlikely that she would be baking cookies. So I decided to take a stab at it, and got the recipe from her. My work decided to drop our normal lavishly catered Christmas party in favor of a potluck (boo) so I figured I'd bake them for that as well.

So this morning I started baking. I've never done any baking before, and it took a little while to get the hang of it - the first batch came out crispy on the edges and soft in the middle, the second batch came out burned. But the rest came OK, and I have about 30 decent cookies to take into work, which I figure should be enough - and about 12 damaged cookies left for me.

The other challenge was that I'm not exactly equipped for baking. I burned out the motor on my cheap $10 hand mixer, and only had two decent cookie sheets, so it took a long time to make two batches.

Next weekend I'll be at this again, to make cookies to take to NJ with me. I'll do a triple batch - I just need to buy more butter, I've got enough of everthing else. And I've already ordered 2 more cookie sheets and a better hand mixer from Amazon with my free Prime trial.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cuts like a knife...

So I picked up a package from JCPenney's yesterday - an item I bought online at a significant discount thanks to it being on sale and having a coupon. When I went to open the package, I found this notice to not open it with a sharp instrument. I thought that was odd, since the item WAS a sharp instrument - a set of 3 paring knives. I thought these would be decent knives, better than the cheap get-paid-after-rebate ones I have now, but if they need to be protected from other sharp instruments.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And then we'll eat pancakes to celebrate, and I'll be like gromgromgrom...

So I had to take the truck in to get two new tires - one to replace the one that went flat on Tuesday, and one other that was overdue for replacement. The tire place is a circa-1970 shopping center that also has an IHOP, so I figured I'd treat myself to the kind of big breakfast that I really shouldn't eat. One of the IHOP holiday specials is the Eggnog pancake - two pancakes with an eggnog-vanilla creme in the middle, topped with whipped cream. It was pretty good, and hopefully worth the damage it will do to my arteries.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm tire-ed of stuff like this. It's a wheel pain...

I was walking out of work tonight a little late - I stayed to finish up some stuff and make a personal call or two - and was rather disappointed to find that the right-rear tire on my truck was no longer, well, holding air.

I have no idea how or why it went flat. But I do know that it looks like I'll be visiting Mr. Tire tomorrow morning.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Your conference room has encountered an error and needs to catastrophically fail...

So today, madanthony went to a workshop sponsored by a small specialty application company, held at the DC offices of a very large and well-known software company. The floor contained a few large presentation rooms, a number of smaller conference rooms, training labs, and some hoteling office spaces - pretty much all vacant. All of the rooms had touchscreen lcd's outside, running scheduling software to let you know if the room was in use or not. During breaks, I wandered around the floor and found that one of the touchscreens was having some problems - a BSOD (blue screen of death) with a driver IRQ error. Ooops.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Santa's Army...

I take the back way into work, to avoid the mess that is the Baltimore Beltway at 8am. I'm not sure I actually save any time, but I figure it's a more pleasant drive. It takes me through residential neighborhoods, including down Putty Hill Avenue through Parkville. There is one stretch that has two houses, about two blocks away from each other, that "decorate" for Christmas by cramming as many light-up plastic decorations as possible onto their lawns. This is one of them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Moon over Evergreen...

Saw the full moon over campus as I was leaving work tonight and thought it would be a good picture. Would probably be an even better picture if I could hold the phone still.