What happened to the design?

Thanks to Clagnut, I’m observing CSS Naked Day on April 5th.

To know more about why styles are disabled on this website visit the
Annual CSS Naked Day website for more information.

For the remaining dotText-ers out there who want this to automatically kick-in every April 5th, I just added this condition to DTP.aspx:

// suspend styles on April 5 to observe CSS Naked Day - http://naked.dustindiaz.com/
DateTime dtNaked = DateTime.Today; 
if(!(dtNaked.Month==4 && dtNaked.Day==5)){
		<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/mystyles.css" />

Miscellaneous Brrreeeport

Looks like I’m:

  • Participating in Scoble’s



  • Syndicating Digg’s Programming news here now (in the sidebar).
  • Considering participating in Technet ScriptCenter’s Scripting Games event, despite my busy-ness. (Hey, I could be a contender!)
  • Baffled why UC would require its own Alumni (aka “prospective donors” to UC’s board) to jump through Stone Age hoops to get a transcript (this is 2006, and phone isn’t even an option), and they’ll still take “5-10 days” to process it.
  • Downloading various free VMwares at the moment. Oh, and eating cookie dough.
  • Wondering why the machine I’ve reinstalled at least 12 times in 12 months — due to strange disk problems, but with different disks — now appears problem free after switching its filesystem from NTFS to FAT32 (which is supposedly more fragile).
  • Also wondering why the Virtual NT4 Server I spent the last week fighting with just refuses to run IIS4.
  • Avidly tracking shipment of my new little Athlon 64-based machine, due here Tuesday.
  • Chuckling at the recent surplus of general serendipity.
  • Remembering that Tuesday is Valentine’s day….

Gopher is a funny word,

and so I was sad to see it go away again today:

Y’know, I remember seeing the early web on Lynx, and thinking “oh, like gopher, except harder to use — what’s the point?” Then I saw it on Netscape 1 and everything changed.

(Yes, I actually have a need for NT 4 Server right now. I never thought I’d be installing Option Pack this many years later. At least I’ve got Virtual PC & Server these days).

Ever celebrated one billion anything?

Hard to explain (I’m a geek, nuff said), but I just noticed my One-Billionth birthsecond is coming up soon.  Furthermore, my (almost 3yr old) son’s One-Hundred-Millionth birthsecond will be about a month earlier!

Want to know when you/a loved one reached/will celebrate a major birthsecond?  In that case, I proudly (?) introduce my Birthsecond Calculator (;>) :

  1. Date/Time of birth:
  2. + a birthsecond:
  3. ?

Note: This surely won’t work in a feed reader, so come visit for the fun.

(web geek colophon: This works thanks to jsDate, my port of VBScript Date functions to Javascript.)

Update 2007-04-15: My 7yo son wants to know when his 250 millionth birthsecond is, so here’s a customizable version.

How about a Conversion mode?

The Windows calculator has Standard and Scientific modes… 

Suddenly conspicuous today in its absence was a Conversion mode.  (Heck, I’ve got a little app on my phone which does this.)  Cmon Vista, it just makes sense! 

Especially while we dumb Americans keep resisting metric.  Liquid volume is where it’s hairiest, figuring out:

  • 3 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon
  • 2 tablespoons to 1 fl. oz
  • 4 fl. oz to 1 gill
  • 2 gills to 1 cup
  • 2 cups to 1 pt
  • 2 pts to 1 qt
  • 4 qts to 1 gal

…We should really just drop most of those units.  (What’s the point of ×2 units, anyway??)  It should be much simpler, like:

  • 16 tablespoons to 1 cup
  • 16 cups to 1 gal

If elected, I promise to simplify liquid volumes immediately.

Rant: The Rise of the Machines

I don’t remember who (for reasons explained shortly), but some blogger I read recently said “It’s sometimes difficult to remember that Technology exists to make things possible.”

This phrase is echoing through my head right now, as I watch my primary work machine slowly image a backup of its hard drive onto another machine, since the hard drive just crashed.  First strange sounds, then periodic freezes, and an hour later my screen is vivid abstract art.

Of course the drive’s S.M.A.R.T. status is still “OK”.

Better than this, it took about two hours to find the right combination of BIOS settings, network boot disk, and Ghost disk before I could even start the imaging process.

This has been a very bad technology year for me.  Ugly details below (including grammar, I’m sure), but here’s the gist: 

  • Computers do a lot less helping me these days, and I do a lot more helping them
  • They are much more prone to problems.
  • Even when they’re working “by design,” they are configured with stupid defaults and limitations which I have to fix (e.g. Windows Explorer).
  • They claim to be smart, offering to configure, automate, or fix themselves, but they create more problems, or actually worsen the problem in the process!

<DETAILS type=“ugly”>
In January, a previously stable workstation had its hard drive die, or so it seemed after 6+ reinstalls.  See, when I replaced the drive, the installation would freeze randomly.  Turns out the BIOS was misdetecting the replacement drive’s geometry, so I got to find and manually input heads, cylinders, etc — something I haven’t done in at least 10 years, and not my idea of a “trip down memory lane.” 
    That fixed the install, but the same spontaneously corrupt files issue has continued with the new drive.  ….I know drives die (moving parts & all), but drive controllers??

In May, the problems with my file server started.  It has mirrored drives.  One drive had a problem, the mirror broke, and the other kicked in (hurrah).  When I let the HighPoint RAID manager software fix the mirror, it “fixed” it alright …in the wrong direction! (since previously visible partition info disappeared afterwards). 
    Drive now non-bootable, with much research I restored the drive’s partitions with BootPart, and (hurrah) it booted, but Windows wanted to “fix” all the errors on the drive.  I let it do so.  Not until later did I realize that it was disconnecting most every file and subfolder from its parent folder, making them all Now “lost”.
    Oh, and Windows just “fixed” itself out of working.  So, time for a reinstall, happy that I keep the OS on its own partition, and careful to leave the others alone.  Ah, something worked, now about those files…
    Half a dozen file-restoration utilities found nothing more than a big jumbled mess of files without structure (and often without names).  At the end of that track, and crossing my fingers, I remembered I’d been doing nightly backups of important data…
    Whadya know, the backups are corrupt!  Again, very much effort to restore (so glad it was a zip file), and hurrah, I see files.  In fact, I think I’ve restored most of them, but we’ve discovered at least one missing, and I’m still wading through the “lost” files for possible luck. 

In the midst of the file server’s woes, my web server’s Windows Product Activation spontaneously went nuts.  At login, it would insist on activating Windows (which I’d already done), but when I said go ahead, it would say it’s already activated and boot me out.  Much research, booting to safe mode, fiddling with files, finally a Windows installation “repair” operation.  Success?  I login once, twice to check, and stuck again! 
    I gave up on it for a while.  A server mostly doesn’t need console access, so I was able to do a lot of things by other means.  The repair had made it completely unpatched though, which worried me since it’s by necessity exposed as a web server.  Eventually I did fix this, but only because of research on another machine’s WPA woes…

See, I was doing some “quick” troubleshooting of a friend’s laptop.  Windows search didn’t work, and there were a few other quirks, so I quickly ran System File Checker to fix possibly corrupted files.  No idea if this worked, because the subsequent login gave me the required WPA re-activation dialog, and again WPA was broken!  (blank this time).
    SO, I ran another Windows “repair” process, and it asks for a product key?!   (Duh, it’s a repair, not a fresh install, get it yourself!).  I got the key, tried it and it didn’t work. 
    Turns out it didn’t match the CD — there are OEM CDs, Volume License CDs, Retail CDs, and probably other flavors.  They’re all the exact same OS, but with different classes of keys.  I have no idea what this accomplishes for the licensing folks.
    So I restart the repair with a different CD & key.  It works, but then I get mysterious error dialogs with sentence fragments “could not complete the file copy operation, you may need to retry or“ — yes, or what?   I check and clean both disc and drive, but with no luck.  Fortunately it let me cancel that specific copy but continue the rest of the install.  I got the same error about 5 more times, but it worked.  Much re-patching ensued.

Aside: System File Checker is good.  Windows Product Activation is bad. 

I know drives fail.  I know software sometimes gets confused.  I could handle these much better if I still trusted the other software which is supposed to prevent, fix, or mitigate such problems. 

….And I’m seriously fantasizing about becoming a farmer. 

Have we reached the point of unsustainable complexity??



So a couple weeks ago I actually did a little wardriving for about three miles, just to see how many wifi networks I’d find.  At a stop, I connected to one, loaded Slashdot to test, and what do I see? Oh My!, Man Arrested for Using Open Wireless Network.  Hmmm, whoops?

Great quote: “worrisome as it seems, wireless mooching is easily preventable by turning on encryption or requiring passwords.”

Yeah, kinda like putting doors on a building is a good way to keep people (and raccoons) out.  Maybe I should start asking before I use water fountains and public restrooms too.