Monday, June 13, 2011

Finished Just In Time For Classes Today

I set myself up a nice little project late last week through the weekend, though I just finished up this morning. I decided to repartition my hard drives, reorganize my Users and Program Files and do a Windows reinstall. I can’t figure out for the life of me why Microsoft makes it so damn difficult to move the User directories, Program Files, and ProgramData to different partitions/hard drives.

Anyways, pretty much most of Thursday was spent planning and partitioning my drive. I actually used Ubuntu flavored Linux and Gparted for the partitioning. While it may be a bit on the slow side, it does an excellent job for partitioning and resizing.

Friday was a day for the Windows 7 reinstall, getting all of the updates, and trying to get everything moved to their new home. To get everything moved, I used the command line robocopy to get a copy of everything in its new home. Actually, the first time I tried to copy the User directory I had forgotten to use the /R: and the /W: to limit the number of Retries and to reset the Wait time between retries for files that were in-use at the time. I set the number of retries to five and reduced the wait to 10 seconds. Those setting worked out pretty well.

After that it was into the registry to change the “Default” locations. I put default in quotes because any program that gets installed, or keeps files/data in either the ProgramData or User folders should look to the registry for the default locations. Sadly, most of them are hard coded to go to C:\Folder. What this means is that if you install a program and you have moved your Program Files to D:\, about half of your programs (if you are lucky) will install to D:\Program Files automatically, the rest will try to install to C:\Program Files and you will have to make the change manually.

I know from previous experience what this results in. Months later you go to install a new program, it defaults to C:\Folder, you forget to make the change, and now you have Program Files, ProgramData, and possibly even new User folders on your C:\ drive. Now try getting that mess together the next time you want to reinstall or Windows 8 comes out.

Enter symbolic links to save the day. Using the command line to set up a junction to the directory, you can fool programs into using the proper folders. The command looks like this:

mklink /J “C:\Folder” “D:\Folder”

What this does is put what is essentially a shortcut on C:\ to your D:\Folder. So on your C:\ drive you have C:\Folder which is nothing more than a shortcut to D:\Folder. This makes life much easier as now everything can look to the C:\ drive (if it wishes) and will be redirected automatically to the correct location.

Of course, if it were only actually that easy, right? In order to set up the symbolic links, the folders can only exist in one place. So after you copy your User, Program Files, and ProgramData directories to their new home, you have to delete the original folders before the links can be made. Let me tell you that ProgramData folder was a pain. There were two offending programs that did not look to the registry, but went automatically to C:\ProgramData. Those two programs were my VLC player and Microsoft Security Essentials. I would call MSE the worst offender, as it was not obvious what the offending program actually was (it took me awhile to track down that it was actually MSE that was writing to these folders).

However, once I tracked down which programs were causing my headaches, all I had to do was uninstall them, delete the C:\ProgramData folder, create the symbolic links, then reinstall the programs. All in all, it was not that bad a way to spend the weekend.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

So Very Sad

Well it seems that today Elizabeth Sladen passed away. She played the role of Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who in the mid 1970’s , made a reprise of the role in (I think) 2006 in the new Doctor Who along side David Tennant. Not long after that, CBBC started a new series called the Sarah Jane Adventures, and if I understand everything correctly, the most current season is airing now.

I can remember when I was a kid sneaking up late at night (past 11pm) to watch Star Trek, and the occasional Doctor Who (by the time it came on I was pretty much ready to sleep). Where we were living at the time, let’s just say Sci-Fi was not something you would ever see during the regular hours. So all I got to see where the Doctor Whos that were in syndication, and broadcast late at night.

At the time, the episodes were shown in a fairly randomized way. As such I saw many Doctors, but without the background, made it hard to follow. But I did see Sarah James with at least two of them, so she grounded my Doctor Who experience. So while most people remember their first Doctor (mine was either Tertwee or Baker, not sure) I do remember my first companion, Elizabeth Sladen, Sarah Jane.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Better than expected

Things went much better than I ever expected at the anti-bullying session I taught this morning at the Stephen Bull Fine Arts Elementary School today. A huge thank you to Ms. Orlando who both invited me there for their program, and for also keeping a pulse on the group and raising her hand to ask pointed questions to help keep me on track with the time. She really helped me to change the aspects of my talk regularly as I was addressing the questions of the students.

As I may have mentioned previously, the little ones cause me terror. Ask me not why, they just do. During the first session with the K-2nd graders, I was sweating bullets. I got the talk going, engaged them, and there were so many hands going up asking questions or telling what bullying is and even offering suggestions what someone could do if someone was being bullied. I was amazed by how attentive they were and by how much they wanted to contribute to the session.

During the ten minutes or so between sessions, Ms. Orlando gave me a couple of suggestions for the older group, and changed her prompts accordingly, an off we went. With this group, I wish I had an hour longer. When I was their age is really when I got picked on (3-5) and it only got worse from there. It was in this group that I got a most unexpected surprise.

After I gave my talk on how to ‘diffuse’ a bullying situation one girl raised her hand and said, “ When someone is being picked on I can say ‘That’s not funny’, grab their arm and walk away.” I can tell you I almost shed a tear at that moment, because a young girl in the fourth or fifth grade taught me a most profound lesson. I had never even considered that simple yet profound act.

To have been schooled by such a young one teaches that our adult minds can get lost in the complexity of a simple situation. At times it takes a young, somewhat uncluttered mind, to remind the adults to see through all the b.s. and get to what is important, just help someone in need. Thank you young lady in the ‘Hello Kitty’ tee.

To all of the teachers out there, all I can say is wow, I don’t know how you do it every day. This was my first time with the young ones, but wow, that was a lot of energy to even attempt to keep on any type of focus. To all teachers out there, I bow to you, your task is both a difficult and under appreciated one.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What a day!!

At the start of my day, I fear I did not have my eye on the clock. I was supposed to meet Lynn to fill out some paperwork before I headed on up to school to get my books. Oh yeah, I am back in school for the first time in twenty something years. So I rescheduled that until I got back from school.

While at school, I got a phone call. For an interview. With an actual person. From a phone interview I had done. Four months ago. In four hours. When I am at school 30 minutes from home. And need to drop off paperwork that still need to be picked up and returned the same day. And remember what the job actually is. And print up copies of the resume.

If I do not get this job, I really do not know what I will do. Well, that is not true. I could shoot a pen of insulin and pass unaware, or I could grab my gun and do it quick (if messy). Sadly, such things are not my way. I can only fantasize about them

With luck, when classes start on Monday, I will be focused enough that the job will drift to the back of the mind. Who knows, if I keep telling myself that I may well work for an hour or two!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Oh the Terror

It is really starting to sink in. Awhile ago I agreed to teach a couple of seminars on Bullying at one of our local schools. I am finding myself getting more nervous and apprehensive as the date slowly approaches.

Now I have done my share of teaching in the past. I’ve taught martial arts to people from sixteen to sixty. I went cross country in 1999 for software replacement and was one of the instructors for all of the sales reps with the new software. So while I may get a bit nervous just before, once I get going I am just fine.

But this one is different. This time it is a Bullying seminar, for children. Grades K-5. Since I am not a kid person, it is starting to sink in. It’s been a long time since I have had stage-fright, so this will be interesting.

I’ve already gone over my presentation with one of the teachers from the school, and as far as she is concerned, it is splendid. She gave me a few notes and some suggestions of things I can throw in at the end, personal recollections from when I was bullied when I was their age, how years later, in-part due to the bullying, how I got into martial arts, and that I have never hit a person (well never hit someone outside of the dojo, lol) despite all of my training.

So while this event has me as nervous as the first time I was four on one in the dojo, I am looking forward to it as well so I can get past this fear in my head. It’s kind of funny that it’s a bunch of knee high kids that is one of my greatest fears.

So as of now, there is only one thing that can make me feel better…Soft Kitty.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Nothing like…

The smell of the house after you roast some coffee. For those of you who do not roast your own coffee, it is an interesting process. Coffee starts out as green beans, kind of a dark olive green. During the early part of the roasting cycle, the scent is similar to fresh cut grass. As the roasting continues, the beans turn yellowish, not bright, but pale and muted, with not much of a change in scent. As it continues, the beans begin to brown, at which point the beans develop a chocolaty and nutty scent. As they continue to roast and become more/darker brown, they take on the scent of brownies cooking in the oven. Then, as they hit the coffee stage as we know it, you get an actual coffee scent.

The aroma is wonderful, the mix of nutty/chocolaty/coffee goodness that lasts for days. And fortunately for me, I do very small batches so every three days or I get to roast more. I feel sorry for the rest of you!

My current batch is some Costa Rican San Marcos that I have from Burman Coffee Traders, where I get all of my coffee. If you roast your own you should check them out. They give a review for their coffees, they have excellent prices, and if you live somewhat close by the shipping can’t be beat!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Getting back to, well, everything…

I have been a bit down as of late, as well may be obvious from my lack of posts over the past year or so. I have also noticed a pattern to my behavior that has been repeating once again. As I get down, I tend to withdraw and stop doing things I enjoy. Such things, of course, only feed the cycle.

So as of now, I am trying to break that cycle. I have gone so far as to pin my blog writer to my Start Menu, so at least it has presence, and with luck, I will begin to hit it more often.

There are many things that I have enjoyed that I have let slip. Heck, just about everything. My Aikido is almost nonexistent at this time. My Zen time is once a week and that is not even on a cushion. My poker has been far reduced, much too reduced for a game I enjoy so much. Lastly, I was one of the top 10 posters to the How To Geek forums once upon a time.

I recently started to play more of the Poker Stars 50/50 games. They are nice Sit-an-Go’s if you do not want to spend too much time (or have other things to do but still want to play) on a game. I like them better than the Double or Nothing games (that are now being eliminated), because it adds a bit of depth to the game. Now players are not just trying to make it to the top 50%, they also want to have the highest chip percentage to increase their win amount. It does change the play dynamics of the game (relative to the Double or Nothing format).

I have also begun to post to the forums again at How to Geek. I must admit that I have not been keeping myself as up-to-date on current technology as I used to, but damn, it feels good to be helping people in the forums again, so there is some incentive to start keeping up on technology again.

The ‘difficult’ ones are getting back into both Aikido and Zen. In Aikido, all I need to do is get suited up and be prepared to have my ass slammed six inches into the mat. It’s easy. In Zen, all I need to do is get suited up and sit on a cushion until it sinks six inches into it. It’s easy. But as ‘they’ say, Mind Makes; and mine just will not shut up long enough for me to do the simple things, such as to step on the mat or enter the dharma room. So sad for something so simple.

But now some of ‘they’ have seen it, so now I have to act…To be continued….