Lost in Suburbia

As an attempt at redemption for my previous post...

Also at Tabblo

Proud and Ashamed

"Can we watch Simpsons? It's my favorite" - My Son. He is 3.

Excel 2007 Crashes when Scrolling

I've been using Excel 2007 for a while now, and while I generally like the 'ribbon' and new layout, I've had a chronic issue with crashes.

When I scroll using my ThinkPad TrackPoint scroll feature, Excel crashes. For quite a while I assumed this was a driver/hardware issue related to the TrackPoint driver. Today I discovered a coworker has the same issue, using the scroll wheel on his mouse.

After doing a bit of Googling, it seems others are seeing this as well. Unfortunately, I haven't found a solution yet. I can't believe a feature as basic as this is causing widespread crashes without a fix. If anyone has a solution, please let me know.

No Apple, I don't want Safari

It is old new by now, but there was a bit of hubbub recently about Apple's inclusion of Safari 3 in its update manager (for Windows).

Gruber has a good writeup, concluding that there would be no issue at all if Apple left the box unchecked by default or visually separated new installs. I pretty much agree. I don't really have a problem with Apple using the update tool as a way to advertise new applications, but don't make it a default install. However, it doesn't end there.

Apple KEEPS TRYING TO INSTALL IT! I have two browsers already (Firefox, IE), I hardly need a third.

HP LaserJet 4L Retired

After 14 long years of service, I finally retired my HP LaserJet 4L printer. As far as electronics go, a device that lasts 14 years is amazing. This printer just worked. The only time it required any effort was an occasional paper jam and of course replacement toner. Even recently it was always fairly easy to find toner to purchase, and the prices always seemed reasonable, at least relative to ink. Unfortunately the print quality finally started degrading. I suspect it may have been fixable, but the desire for a color printer forced the retirement.

The 4L was replaced by a shiny new Dell 1320c color laser printer. I also added the network adapter, allowing the printer to be shared by all computers without requiring a computer or other device to share the printer.

There is no other computer device that I've owned that has come anywhere near a 14 year useful span, and I doubt any future device will either.

* Photo inspired by this Strobist post. Unfortunately I have only one SB-800 and the printer was significantly larger than the SB-800 photographed in the post.

Python is the new Black

In a much anticipated move, Google announced yesterday the Google App Engine. This is Google's (initial) entry into the cloud computing space, competing with Amazon's EC2 and S3.

Amazon's approach with EC2 and S3 appears to be a fairly straight forward utility computing approach. You pay by the CPU minute on EC2 and by the GB on S3. Amazon uses Amazon Machine Instances (AMI) as the deployment units for EC2. In simple terms, an AMI is a virtual server image, similar to what you would use with VMWare or VirtualPC. At this point I believe it only supports Linux, but you can run just about anything that runs on Linux (which is just about anything). The difference being that it runs on Amazon's servers and you only pay when it is running.

Google's approach essentially a hosted web application. The deployment unit is your Python application, and you run in a sandbox environment. They also provide easy integration to Google services such as Google Account and Google Checkout.

One other difference, Google's App Engine is free for initial users, and appears that it may be free up to certain 'sizes'. This will make it very appealing as a beta/testbed for new apps, which then of course remain on Google as they grow.

One post I read (but forgot where) suggested that Google's approach will make it very easy for Google to acquire new startups as they are already built and running using the Google services and servers. While I doubt this is the main goal, it certainly does demonstrate some of the values Google can leverage if a large part of the 'net is building their applications with Google. One more step in Google becoming its own Internet.

Time to learn Python?

Spring at Brookfield Zoo

This weekend the weather finally broke in Chicago and we have a weekend of real Spring weather. We took advantage today with an afternoon at the zoo...

The gulls, while not actually part of the exhibit, provided some good action shots...


While the rest of the animals were pretty relaxed...


I Hate April Fools' Day

I'm over April Fools' Day. My RSS feeds are full of garbage posts that are obvious jokes, and any real interesting news can't be believed until you verify it tomorrow.


Speaking of Boring, this is also my 100th post. I guess I have some staying power as I've been at this over a year (First post was January 23rd, 2007). At a rate of less than 2 posts a week, I'm not the most prolific writer but hopefully I've written some interesting posts. So, will it take me more or less than 14 months to get to 200 posts? We'll see...