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internet's down... So I blog.

Comcast, is a pain in the ass. Every couple weeks, I wake up to no internet access. The old cable modem is blinking, and the tv's got nothing but snow.

For a while there, I got lucky. I'd call Comcast support, and I'd get a tech that would listen to me, realize that well.. the tv, and the modem are separate entities, so I MUST have a service outage that's bigger than my cable modem.

This morning, and a couple weeks ago, I get stuck with the stupid techs.

20min * 365 Days = 5 days, 1 hour, 40 minutes of exercise.

It all started with my brother. He was Looking for a way to overcome his training slump so he came up with the idea that he would do at least 20 minutes of exercise every day. No breaks, no weekends, no time off.

That was on 2/26/2006. He told me about it, and I thought about it for a while.. almost a month. and started doing it (albeit a bit differently) on 3/19/2006. Yesterday was my 365th day. (I went running)

The Plan:

So, basically, the plan is simple. Work out in some fashion every day, for at least 20 minutes. See how long you can keep going at that.

Like anything else.. your mileage may vary, you get out what you put in, etc etc.. In my experience, I *rarely* exceeded the 20 minute minimum by much, as I was generally in a hurry to get back to the other things I had going on in my life, but the net total is more than I've ever regularly exercised in my entire life, so I call that a win. Just the fact that I had a goal and something to lose if I didn't keep going, kept me going.

By contrast, my brother, who started this mess has maintained an average over an hour, but he's got things to train for. I just wanted to stay in shape and get a start on beating back my 30's metabolism.

Results

I've worn out a couple pairs of running shoes. Running is the simplest activity that I found I could do absolutely anywhere I found myself. My GPS says I did 597 Miles. (95 hours running, 65,000 calories burned.)

I've done Lots of strange and generally pretty fun things in search of something to count.

I've been running in 3 or 4 different states, early in the morning and late at night, semi-drunk and sober. I went for a run on the morning of my wedding day, while traveling in New Mexico, and on the docks around Baltimore.

Arduino NG Google Sketchup Model

I created a basic model of the Arduino microcontroller board in Google Sketchup. Sketchup is a really handy tool. Once you learn to use it, you can model anything and everything with arbitrary accuracy. This model is accurate down to .01mm. (the resolution of my digital calipers)

It should be a handy thing for anyone looking to prototype something digitally before they go making parts.

Run that "Run" menu the way you wanna!

So my friend Nik asked me something about emulating launchbar and quicksilver on the mac, where you can basically type a command at the mac and it will figure out what you're looking for with pattern matching.

This won't do that. Not by a long shot. ; )

The thing he asked me was about the windows run menu, and getting things to run from there with simple commands.

If you're on a windows box, you can do the following:
hold down the windows key,
press 'R'
type 'calc'
hit enter.

Bam! you've got the calculator. Well.. that's handy and all.. but what if you want your own programs in there.

Nik pointed me to the PATH environment variable as the place to change what the run menu searches in.

If you know what your environment variables are, then you probably don't need my hand holding. I added one that points to My Documents\bin\ as I preserve my my documents folder across formats, and I like to keep everything there.

For the rest of you. There's already an environment variable in there pointing to your systemroot. that's C:\Windows\

If you go there, and drop any windows shortcut in that directory, the name of that shortcut becomes the keyword you enter in "run".

Yay! Make a shortcut that points to photoshop, name it 'ps' and put it in C:\Windows\

Then, windowskey-R, type 'ps', hit enter BAM! Photoshop! I'm never going to use my mouse again!

UPDATE

I hadn't a clue how cool this would have been!
1. It passes arguments along.. so.. i made a shortcut called 'ff' that points to firefox. if i use the command 'ff google' firefox opens up and runs google. also, because firefox is soo damned smart, if it's already running, it'll just put google in a new tab.

2. you can do shortcuts to sites. take a firefox shortcut and add a url as an argument after 'firefox.exe'. That pretty much give limitless capacity for web application shortcuts.

3. firefox will take multiple arguments. guess what
"ff aaronpropst.com google.com" does... ; )

A regex for the rest of us!

Aaron's Web tip of the day. (by way of my friend skogie)

Rex V: an AJAX Regular Expression Validator

Basically, you can throw a mess of text at this thing, then enter a regular expression to evaluate, and it will tell you what matches, and what doesn't. More than that, it'll tell you precisely where the match borders are.. so if you're grabbing extra line breaks or spaces you don't want.. it'll show you why.

good stuff.

No! You DON'T need to run at startup!

Adobe Acrobat thinks I only use my computer for viewing pdfs. Apple thinks my computer is used solely for syncing my ipod. Install Shield thinks it is necessary to run in the background so that it can check for urgent updates to god knows what. Ooohh.. and don't even get me started on quicktime, and realmedia.

All of these people think they need to leave a process running in memory on my system.. 24.. 7.. 365.

Um... guys.. if all of you do that... what is left for ME to use?

Spyware is generally the reason most people start having trouble with their computers after a couple years and either buy a new one, or tap their social network for the nearest geek at hand to help them reformat. The thing is, this kind of crap is equally responsible. After 2 years, you've done so many things with your computer, and installed so many programs, about 30% of which leave some worthless hunk of code running in memory so their program will start faster, or update on its own, or whatever.

The computer is a tool. It's probably the most extensible and versatile tool in human history. You can do any number of things with a computer, but not if it's busy downloading garbage on your behalf, or checking for updates, or scanning for aliens, or grabbing the latest maps of azeroth.

So, software people.. (adobe, i'm looking in your direction*) Quit it! You're creating software at the program level for a reason! So we can run your program, and when we want to do something else, we can close your program! Otherwise we'd call your shit 'drivers' or an "operating system"

Ways to take control:

download process explorer This app used to be offered by a site called sysinternals, which recently got acquired by microsoft. : (
process explorer gives you a list of all running processes on your system similar to the windows task manager, but wayyyy more descriptive. So, for instance, instead of just seeing the exe name, it will give you its full path and supporting files.. so you can see who's it is. (and kill it.)

click start: run: type 'msconfig' This is a kickass built in app that allows you to see and disable all the crap you don't need at startup. You should use a bit of caution of course, as you could remove something you need, or kill your system's normal startup process. Experiment though.. that's what safe mode is for. ; )

*acrotray.exe.. what it does, I don't know. I'm pretty sure I don't need it though. When i uncheck this little fucker in msconfig, and start acrobat reader... it adds another new entry to my startup profile putting it back. grrrrrr.... Them's spyware behaviors!!

Modify Dreamweaver to Open files in Vim

I use Dreamweaver to edit files on a variety of webservers. It's a pretty handy tool, that has definitely improved over time. The code editor is good, but not great.

One thing that's always bugged me, is that DW won't just open a file as text if it doesn't recognize the extension. So for instance, I wanted to look at drupal's module code today (a .module) file and DW wouldn't open it, even though it was php.

Arduino Stepper. Plus, how to run it off of a Makita Battery!

I put together another video of what i've been doing with my dorky geektoys. This is a cool steppermotor/gear assembly i got out of an old dot-matrix printer. I originally assembled it all with a mess of 4 radio shack transistors, but then i found this tutorial (and discovered that nice clean transistor array chip) which made it simpler to work with.

apple: I like itunes, but you're starting to break my mp3 player...

NPR began distributing 'This American Life' as a podcast. TAL is one of the best radio shows out there, and it kicks ass that NPR is being forward thinking enough to jump on the podcasting bandwagon.

This American Life is available for download only for the week it is aired. After that, you can buy it from Audible for a buck. As people can turn on their radios and listen to the show for free, podcasting it loses them no money, and increases their exposure/word of mouth.

Apple took this great plan and screwed it up just because they can...

For some reason Apple assumes that an iTunes library is a single, personal thing, and it would never be shared between multiple people. For that to work, everyone with an ipod MUST have a computer.. As you can't (to my knowledge) configure iTunes to support 2 libraries simultaneously on a single system.

User Verification Gone Horribly Wrong

We've got a client, named 'growingtales.com'. They do a modest amount of business on the web, and they need an SSL Certificate in order to do it. Their SSL Cert expired in October. In September I received a reminder email about renewal, and I called up their web host to renew their certificate.

I keep our client's account information in an encrypted password manager called KeePass Password Safe. So when I called up the sales people to renew the domain, I opened up the password manager and read off my 'secret word' which they use to verify me.

The nice sales person (the real humans are in sales, tech support gets their flunkies) accepted the renewal, and I told him to bill it to the card on file.

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