Quote of the Day

“He judged the car to be about a 1928 or ’29 Ford. ‘Lady,’ he said, and turned and gave her his full attention, ‘lemme tell you something. There’s one of these doctors in Atlanta that’s taken a knife and cut the human heart – the human heart,’ he repeated, leaning forward, ‘out of a man’s chest and held it in his hand……he don’t know more about it than you or me.'”

– Flannery O’ Connor
“The Life You Save May Be Your Own”

80s Tech Memories

Ahhhhh… memories of the 80s, and the technology thereof:

Toothpicking the cable box – The first cable boxes had a row of 12-15 buttons on them, and a slider switch to choose the channel row, like this:


If you put the slider on the right channel and carefully inserted a toothpick into the top of the button, you could (sort of) get the scrambled channels, which, for teenage boys, usually meant The Playboy Channel. Cable companies were always warning against “toothpick damage” in their monthly bills, on the informational channels, and on stickers put on the boxes themselves… thus basically telling you how to do it. My family moved in 1984, and our new cable company’s boxes just had a giant dial on them that went from 2-99. You could fold an index card in half and stick it under the dial and accomplish the same thing as the toothpick trick.

Cable Guides – Speaking of cable, you used to get these little TV Guide-like magazines with each cable bill that gave you the listings of every movie in the upcoming month. You still see these in hotels sometimes, especially in Myrtle Beach for some reason, but they stopped sending them out to consumers years ago.

Programming a VCR suckedWhy did this always suck? I mean, from a UI perspective? It seems like VCR manufacturers went out of their way to make it as difficult as possible to set a VCR. Our first VCR (a 150lb. model with a wired remote) was actually as easy as setting a digital alarm clock: there were two toggle switches (OFF\ON and START\END) and two buttons to select the hour and minute. So you’d flip the START toggle to START and select the start time, flip it to END and choose the end time, then flick the OFF\ON toggle to ON. Easy peasy. But so many people whined about it being “difficult” that VCR makers tried hundreds of tricks to make it easier (anyone remember VCR Plus+?). Unfortunately, this made each model different, thus paradoxically making it more difficult, and in the end it was worse than using Lotus Notes.

Continue reading “80s Tech Memories”

Quote of the Day

“To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.”

– Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Although I don’t agree with much else that Proudhon says, I sure agree with this!

NTBACKUP in Vista or 7

NTBACKUP was the backup application included in Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. For a backup application, it was reliable, simple and did its job well. But Microsoft ditched it for the all-new Windows Backup and Restore Center in Windows Vista. It’s a welcome change, as NTBACKUP was looking quite dated, especially compared to image-based products like TrueImage and Ghost.

NTBACKUP isn’t included in Vista or 7, but there may come a time when you might need to restore a file from a BKF backup. After all, there are tons of Windows Server 2003 boxes still chugging along out there, even though IT staff might have updated their desktops to Vista or 7 ages ago. So what do you do when you need NTBACKUP in Vista or 7?

You just go to any physical or virtual XP install and copy the following files from the SYSTEM32 folder to a USB drive or network share:


Keeping the files in the same folder, you can now run NTBACKUP on your Vista or 7 machine. When you start the app, you will probably get the following error message:

ntbackup error

This error is expected. Removable Storage Manager is disabled in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, and doesn’t exist at all in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. So just click OK and continue. You can then locate the BKF file using the browse feature and restore the file(s) as necessary.

You probably won’t want to use this to actually back up a Server 2008 or Windows 7 installation, but it’s nice to know that you can still restore files from backups if needed.

The “London, England” Phenomenon

Many Europeans seem amused (at best) or downright angry (at worst) by something Anglo-American author Bill Bryson termed the “London, England Phenomenon”. It’s the tendency of the American media to mention a city’s full name in newspaper articles or news broadcasts. “Why”, these Europeans must wonder, “do American broadcasters say ‘London, England’ or ‘Paris, France’ when everyone else in the world seems to know where London and Paris are?”

Well, part of it is because there are thousands of American cities named after more familiar cities. Just in my home state of Georgia, for instance, there’s Rome, Athens, Dublin, Vienna, Geneva, Berlin, Dover, Hull, Bethlehem, Damascus, Oxford, Bristol, Cairo, Kingston, Manchester, Bremen and – just to be complete – Smyrna, hometown of actress Julia Roberts, although that’s cheating, since the city in Turkey has been known as Izmir since 1922 (according to the Greeks) or the mid 1400s (according to the Turks).

There are at least five American cities named Venice, seven called Belfast, nine called Glasgow, sixteen named Paris, twenty each named Athens or Manchester, twenty-one named Berlin, twenty-three named Bristol and twenty-four each named either Florence or Oxford. Many Europeans have heard of Cambridge, Massachusetts because of Harvard University, but not many know about the fifteen other cities of the same name in the US. During the Cold War, it might have seemed like one Moscow was enough… but there are sixteen US towns with the same name. There are even fourteen Birminghams in the US… and two of them are in Ohio and three of them are in Pennsylvania!

Continue reading “The “London, England” Phenomenon”


I’ve always said that God won’t let the Baltimore Ravens win a playoff game at Heinz Field. And although He seemed to be toying with me Saturday night, He came through in the end with a miraculous victory!


I had hoped to write a well thought-out piece, something worthy of posting on ESPN.com. But that’s just not going to happen. Instead, this post will just say things like “HELL YEAH!” and “Wooo-hoooo!!”.

Yes, the Ravens jumped out a big lead thanks to two Steeler turnovers (and, by the way, WHY did 11 Steelers and 10 Ravens just stand around after Suggs knocked the ball out of Ben’s hand? Whatever happened to playing to the whistle?) But, in true Baltimore fashion, the Ravens self-destructed in the second half, having only 94 yards of total offense through three quarters. Most painful for them was the (lack of) performance from the big-time receivers the Ravens (apparently) paid far too much for. Anquan Boldin dropped a sure touchdown pass from Flacco on the Ravens’ next to last possession, and ended up with 1 catch for -2 yards. TJ Houshmandzadeh fared better coming up with 3 catches for 38 yards, but dropped an easy one on 4th and 18 to end the game for Baltimore. See what happens when you disrespect the Terrible Towel, Housh?

Houshmandzadeh in 2005
Houshmandzadeh in 2005
Houshmandzadeh in 2011
Houshmandzadeh in 2011

The Terrible Curse lives! The game marked Roethlisberger’s seventh consecutive win against Baltimore, and (as I mentioned on Twitter earlier in the week) the Ravens have never beaten the Steelers when both Big Ben and Troy play. And so it was on Saturday. I just can’t say enough about the Steeler defense… it was truly an amazing performance, and one for the ages.

*     *     *

The Steelers also caught a huge break on Sunday, as the Jets defeated the hated New England Patriots by a score of 28-21. But the game was never as close as the score would suggest, and nearly everyone in Steeler Nation gave a big sigh of relief as the game ended. The Steelers never play well against the Patriots (as this year’s 39-26 loss would indicate). The Steelers lost to the Jets, too, but in a much closer game (22-17). And, more importantly, the Steelers get to play the Jets at home. I’m excited about the game, and can’t wait until next Sunday!

Here we go Steelers, here we go!

Changing MSE’s Update Interval

Microsoft’s Security Essentials product is an excellent antivirus tool. But it does have its quirks. For instance, you can only set it to scan your system daily or weekly, with no other choice in-between. But one of the biggest problems with the client is that it only updates its virus signatures every 24 hours. While that’s not a problem for most, it can be annoying for laptop users who aren’t connected to the Internet full-time, or to people that regularly visit “less than secure” types of websites (wink-wink!).

You can easily change the frequency at which MSE checks for updates. Just cut and paste the following into your favorite text editor:

"c:\Program Files\Microsoft Security Client\Antimalware\MpCmdRun.exe" -SignatureUpdate

Save the file as something like MSEUPDATE.CMD, then add it to your system as a Scheduled Task that runs minimized every x hours. MSE will then update according to your schedule.

There is a Registry hack that will allow you to do this too, but the problem with it is that any time MS updates the client, there’s a chance this setting could be overridden by the update. “My” hack is external, and therefore won’t be affected by any client updates.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-01-16

  • Cleaned my bookshelves, and found a boarding pass for a flight to Cincinnati that I don't remember taking AT ALL. Even a connection. #
  • Dammit! The Sims Country Cloggers are closed due to the weather today. NOW what am I gonna do with my Monday? Rage. #
  • For the record, I didn't hide Lisa's mp3 player! #
  • "No honey… don't watch the BCS Championship! Drink and sing Wham! songs with me!" Borderline rage. #
  • There's nothing on "Hoarders" that can't be fixed with five gallons of gasoline and a match. #
  • Just voted for VIZIO's 2010 Top Value Performer Award – http://tinyurl.com/ycqcfu6 #VIZIOTVP #
  • I can't believe the President of the United States is using a tragedy to politic. This is, literally, repulsive. #
  • Ever notice that Rumer Willis looks like Glenn Quagmire? #
  • Today's fun fact: The Ravens have never beaten the Steelers when both Roethlisberger and Polamalu play. #
  • Today's Fun Fact: Since 2003, the combined score of all Steelers vs Ravens games is 302-302. #
  • Drinking Guinness at Smokey Joe's… #
  • Hell yes! GO STEELERS!!!!! #
  • Dear Falcons: Please play defense. Thanks! #
  • "I believe the game is designed to reward the ones who hit the hardest. If you can't take it, you shouldn't play." – Jack Lambert #
  • "I look for the Steelers to be the team of the future. Just remember I said that."- Vince Lombardi in 1970 #
  • "Hey Look! It's Enrico Pallazzo!" #

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Fix Multiple “Java Consoles” in Firefox

If you have Java and Firefox on your computer, you’ve probably seen this in your list of add-ons:


While having 19 different Java Consoles installed isn’t a security or stability issue, seeing all those entries in the add-ons list can make your eyes bleed and make you want to slap Java developers for writing such sloppy code. To make things worse in Vista or Windows 7, there either won’t be an “uninstall” button on the extra consoles, or the box will be greyed out… in either case, you can’t uninstall them.

The problem exists because the Java extensions are installed in the Program Files folder, not the user’s profile folder (which makes sense in a way, as any Firefox user on a computer would want Java, right?). But the older extensions aren’t deleted when Java is updated, so you eventually end up with a list of them… like the screen cap above.

The fix is simple, if annoying.

Continue reading “Fix Multiple “Java Consoles” in Firefox”