Game Addiction

So people have been talking a lot about “game addiction recently.  This Blogma post (from C|Net):  Subliminal rescue for game addicts? kind of scared me.  Two things about this scare me:

  1. Subliminal shit that makes you not want to play games… Seems like it could make you not want to do anything.  Mind control stuff is just creepy.  I mean who verifies that all it is doing is making you not want to play games?  Soon we’ll need a “subliminal verification agency” that makes sure all this crap is only doing what it says it’s doing.  And can we really trust the agency?
  2. Games addiction…. uhm yeah.  I wish people would get their heads around “personal responsibility.”  Sigh.  I’m not going to get started on this.


Verizon Update

So daylight savings happened.  My Q (with Windows Mobile) didn’t handle it… even though I had done the update (see previous post).  I did the update again after verifying I was running Windows Mobile 5.  It seems to have worked this time around, which is weird.  Anyway, I think someone needs to test this stuff a little more. 

Dumb Moments: Brought to You by Verizon Wireless

So I have Verizon Wireless (probably not for long since I’m a phone junky and I’ll get the Apple iPhone), which I switched to so that I could get a Motorola Q.   So today, I get a text message from Verizon.  It tells me that because daylight savings time is on March 11th this year that I may need a software message.  The text message (remember this is a text message sent to my phone) had a URL in it.  So I followed the URL.  I scroll around the page, lots of cell phones for sale.  Lots of navigation.  Nothing I can find about daylight savings time.  I scroll back up, AH HA!  There is a link that says “skip to main content”.   Then:

  1. This takes me to something about daylight savings time, let’s me select Microsoft, Palm, RIM, and go.  
  2. I pick Microsoft.
  3. I browse around some Microsoft page, finally find some link that says “steps for updating your device.”
  4. Then I have to choose if I synch with my PC or wirelessly.
  5. This takes me to another page – I guess it’s the Windows Mobile mobile main page.  There is something to click there for an update.
  6. Now I’m at another page telling me to get the update or click here if I can’t.  It warns me I have to accept a license agreement.  I click “start the process”.
  7. Sweet, another page with a accept / decline licensing agreement.  (Who declines this?  Especially since I have to have it or my phone won’t know what time it is.)
  8. Now I have to choose whether I want to download the upgrade for Windows Mobile 5.0 or Windows Mobile 2003 second edition devices.  WHAT THE HELL!  Can’t these clowns auto-detect this crap?  I mean give me a break.  I’m not about to go away from this stupid web page I’m on to look it up because it’s taken me forever to click this far.  Just give me the update for crying out loud.
  9. Well, well.  When I click Widnows Mobile 2003 second edition devices (I hope that’s me, otherwise my phone will probably die some horrible death) it asks if I am sure I want to download (insert stupid filename here).  I, of course, say yes.
  10. SWEET!  Installation of (insert stupid filename here) was UNSUCCESSFUL.   Wow, thanks for the useful info.
  11. So I went back and got the Windows Mobile 5.0.  I mean, I have no other useful guidance so it seems like the logical step.
  13. Hmm, well it downloaded it and rebooted my phone.
  14. I guess it worked since it didn’t tell me it failed.

Now.  Let’s look it took OVER FIFTEEN STEPS for me to update my phone.  (Well, to hope that my phone was magically updated.)  Did anyone test this process before sending out this text message?  I’m sure this message had to have gone to millions of people, so I mean it’s not like they shouldn’t have tested the process.

So let’s review:

  • I have a signed contract with Verizon.  They probably own my future children and I’m sure they have the right to monkey with my phone at their leisure and that I have no recourse.
  • I am sure I “signed” (ie: clicked) some agreement when I activated Windows Mobile on my Q.  So I have some contract of some type with Microsoft on this issue (and many others I’m sure).
  • Verizon sent me the text message – they know what kind of phone I’m using.
  • I clicked a link.  I’m sure the mobile phone browser (like all others) transmits its browser ID and OS ID to the web server.  WHY THE HELL COULDN’T THEY JUST USE THAT AND SEND ME RIGHT TO THE FILE I NEED!

Wow this was such a bad experience. 


I bet the iPhone isn’t this stupid.


Apple TV Delayed

i got an e-mail from Apple today telling me my Apple TV was delayed. 

Wrapping up Apple TV is taking a few weeks longer than we projected, and we now expect to begin shipments in mid-March, not in February as originally anticipated.

Oh well.  You can read more here:  Apple TV Slips to March.   (C|Net’s Crave Blog is pretty cool.)

My bet is the delay is caused by compatibility issues with Vista.  If that’s true I’m sure it’s gotta piss them off.  But you can’t really release a broad consumer media product that doesn’t work with Windows.  And given all the marketing Vista compatibility is probably a requirement.  (Although I’m not sure what the actual Vista installed base is.) 

Anyway, I know I’ll be really angry if my fancy Apple TV doesn’t work with Vista… when it finally shows up.

How will we know?  My prediction is we also get an iTunes / Quicktime update in mid-March that fixes all these Vista issues.  (Fingers crossed.)

Things I Like in Vista

Here are the things I like about Vista:

  1. I like the new UI.  It’s nice looking and comfortable.  Not too far from XP to be annoying (which is sometimes the case in the switch to Office 2007), but cleaned up enough to be a reasonable step forward.  I’m pretty sure my system isn’t running all the cool stuff (because my PC for some reason has a 5.0 Windows Experience Index), but it is still pretty nice. 
  2. I like the way sharing works now.  I think it’s better – Sync / Make Available Offline is definitely way better.  Microsoft, if you are watching, a suggestion:  there appears to be some issues with out connecting – I am mounting shared folders from another system (XP) and they show up with the X (as in not connected) pretty frequently.  Clicking them sometimes requires a password (another suggestion – let me have it remember my password or put it in that Card Folder thing) and then things work again.  This stuff should auto-connect.
  3. The Sidebar is a cool idea… I like have time and date up there.  I haven’t gotten Outlook 2007 to work with RPC yet so I’m not sure if the calendar thing or Outlook in general integrates with the Sidebar, but if it does that would be really cool.  (Free new feature idea!)

Uhm.  Well.  Cough.   Anyway, I do like using it.  Once all the drivers are stable I’m hopeful all the issues that have been haunting me will fade away.

Top 5 Vista Gripes

Here are my biggest problems with Vista right now:

  1. Sound periodically stops working.  This is kind of annoying.  At first I thought maybe it was an iTunes / Vista compatibility problem, but now I’m pretty sure it’s not.  I’ve had sound cut out in World of Warcraft, Ventrilo, and iTunes.  Rebooting fixes it, but strangely there are sounds from the OS as it shuts down.  I’m sure this is probably some driver problem, but I’m a little paranoid about updating drivers.
  2. Hold ‘Em, a Vista Ultimate add-on, looks pretty cool.  Except that all the text flickers like crazy.  So I looking around on the Microsoft site – nothing in the knowledge base.  I did find a discussions (that I would link, but I closed the browser already) in their community area.  It seems it is a problem with the nVidia drivers.  Seems strange that a bug would show up in text rendering in a simple game and no where else, but alas that appears to be the case.  And I’m running the “non-beta”, “certified” driver too.
  3. I think there must be a major memory like somewhere – either in Office 2007, the Sidebar, or IE 7 (possibly related to Flash).  My computer has 2 GB of RAM, 2×3.6ghz HT Xeons, and an nVidia 8800 GTX and things get really slow sometimes.  I’ve even had them come to a screeching halt – this never happened on XP.  I also only get a 5 on the Windows Experience Index, which seems kind of low give that much horsepower.
  4. Alt-Tabbing between a full screen game and Windows is pretty chunky.
  5. Lack of drivers – I want to use the cool features of gaming keyboards (I have a Logitech G15 and am also testing out the new Razer Tarantula).   I’m afraid to install the XP ones.
  6. (Yeah I know I said 5.)  The freaking security alerts get really annoying.  Those Mac ads are right on (and especially hilarious if you have used Vista).  Another annoying thing is that I have to run World of Warcraft in Administrator mode to get updates to install – what a hassle.

To be fair, there are a lot of things I actually like about Vista (one of the two reasons I haven’t rolled back to XP – the other is I like testing out the cutting edge stuff).  So I will write a Top 5 things I like about Vista.

Let’s Chat about Frivolous Lawsuits

I hate stupid lawsuits.  What a waste of society’s time and energy.  But to the point:

Man sues IBM over adult chat room firing

I’ve been pretty involved in the evolution of chat on the Internet (I founded ichat back in 1995) and I find this particularly amusing.  The article opens with this:

A man who was fired by IBM for visiting an adult chat room at work is suing the company for $5 million, claiming he is an Internet addict who deserves treatment and sympathy rather than dismissal.

So let’s dismantle this real quick:

  1. The guy makes $65,000 a year – what possible basis does he have for a $5 million claim?  Ludicrous.
  2. And then there is:

“Plaintiff was discharged by IBM because he visited an Internet chat room for a sexual experience during work after he had been previously warned,” the company said.

Ridiculous claim.  Previously warned.  STFU.

Anyway, moving on.  This scares me:

If it goes to trial, the case could affect how employers regulate Internet use that is not work-related, or how Internet overuse is categorized medically. Stanford University issued a nationwide study last year that found that up to 14 percent of computer users reported neglecting work, school, families, food and sleep to use the Internet.

So I have some other behavior disorders we should tolerate in the workplace:

  • Laziness.   I know a lot of people that have this affliction.  Especially with periodic, but extreme bouts.
  • Apathy.  (Also malaise, ennui.)   Similar to laziness, this can have a visible impact on workplace productivity.

You know, I thought about making a long list, but you probably get the picture.  Business exist to do business, not to entertain their employees.  Certainly companies that keep their employees happy, motivated, and energized, are going to be more successful in most cases.  But employees that don’t do their job or take advantage of the trust their employers deserver to be fired.

One more thing.  Imagine if TVs were required for work in a modern office environment (as, I’m sure you’ve noticed, are computers).  This article would read:

John Doe sued IBM today for $5 million dollars because he was terminated for watching 3 hours a day of the Yound and the Restless at work.  He claimed a television addiction and that he should be given treatment options rather than fired.

People would laugh at that.  It’s not like people have the right to smoke in the office any more and that’s an actual addiction.  No one is suing about that…. because they would get laughed out of court.



More Vista Issues

Vista had another major failure today, but it seemed to automatically recover from this one.  After it rebooted it blamed it on video hardware.  So I downloaded the latest nVidia 8800 GTX Vista 32-bit drivers (which came out today – 100.65).  They didn’t install so well (ie: there were errors and stuff seems to be missing) and I don’t currently have an nVidia control panel.  This may be because I have to run everything in “Run as Administrator” mode to get crap to install.  Anyway, the video seems to be working and I’m kind of afraid to reinstall the drivers because more stuff might break.

FYI:  This “Run as Administrator” stuff is really annoying.  If you play World of Warcraft make sure you select “Run as Administrator” when you run World of Warcraft for the first time on Tuesdays because if there is a patch you can’t install it without doing this.  So if you forget the patch will fail and you’ll have to do it again as administrator.

One last thing…  maybe this should be its own entry, but Vista and iTunes are not working so hot after this weekend’s fiasco.   I can run it, play my purchased songs, etc… most of the time.  Sometimes iTunes just sits there while I press play over and over, laughing at me but playing no music.  I’m not sure what is causing this closing and relaunching seems to fix it sometimes and when that fails a reboot has, so far, always done the trick.  I hope Apple delivers a Vista version of iTunes soon.

Vista Recovery

I now recovered enough from this weekend’s catasrophe to share the solution I found and to offer some advice.

Advice:  Make sure you have a bootable DVD drive before you upgrade to Vista.  I had a USB DVD drive on this machine (it’s a Dell Precision Workstation 470 and I’m not sure really why I only got an internal CD-R) and it will not boot.  I’m not sure if this is a BIOS problem or what, but not being able to boot off the Vista DVD made this more difficult than maybe it should have been.

So basically either my Master Boot Record (MBR) or the partition table was corrupted was the starting point for all this.  The machine would not boot.  FDISK could not find partitions.

Here is what I did:

1.  I removed a DVD player from another PC and put it in this one.  Vista actually booted off the DVD, but wouldn’t do anything except tell me there were problems with a device (which I think was the DVD player actually).  It certainly couldn’t find the hard drive.

2.  I bought Partition Commander 10 from V-com Software at CompUSA.  (I also bought another, similar product but never tried it because Partition Commander worked.)

3.  I ran Partition Commander – the CD was bootable.  It found the drive and recognized it had issues.  So I had it repair the MBR, which in hindsight was probably a bad idea, but I did it anyway.  It didn’t solve any problems.

4.  I bought a $64 internal DVD player at CompUSA (at the same time I bought the partion management software, since I figured this was going to be necessary.)

5.  Installed the DVD player.  I needed to to do this to enable the Windows Vista DVD to boot.  It actually didn’t work at first, but I finally got to the point where Vista would boot off the DVD.  However, it didn’t see the hard drive.

6.  So I ran Partition Commander again and had it look for partitions.  It found one.  After messing around a bit I found an option to Undelete the partion.  So I did.  it wouldn’t boot off the hard drive.

7.  I rebooted with the Vista DVD.  It still didn’t see the hard drive.

8.  I downloaded the RAID drivers for my CERC / Adaptec SATA RAID from  This was more difficult than I expected since it was really unclear what was what, but I finally got them on a floppy disk.

9.  I rebooted again and Vista came up from the DVD.  I then had it look at the floppy disk which had the RAID driver.  It loaded them (although I had to choose one of 4 identically named drivers for it to load).  It found the hard drive!

10.  I clicked the Repair option on the Vista DVD‘s main screen.  It worked!

11.  Next reboot loaded off the hard drive and all my stuff was intact.  Wow!

As you may have noticed this involved 11 steps.  I’ve excluded the steps that were either:

a. Unproductive / dead-ends / useless.

b. Involved me screaming profanities at my computer or smashing things.

So all in this was not a pleasant experience.  On the bright side things are working ok now.

Vista and iTunes (redux)

Well I most have gotten lucky before, because after I repaired my partition (more on that in the next post) iTunes basically refused to play the songs I had purchased.  If you are having a problem, this: 

iTunes Repair Tool for Vista 1.0

Seemed to fix my issues.  It was not obvious on the Apple site and some of their other suggestions didn’t seem to work (or were difficult to follow – like Deauthorize all your machines, which it turns out is impossible unless you have authorized 5 machines, which is rather difficult to do without 5 machines.).

Anyway, I hope this helps anyone out there having iTunes issues under Windows Vista.