Archive for August, 2009

Another tech fix: Dealing with AOL

I was lucky enough to have to deal with a somewhat vexing problem this week that once again, in lieu of a computer utility, here’s a story about battling the ISP that every loves to hate, AOL…

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Computer stupidity: NVidia drivers and the BSOD

Instead of finding a utility today, this is about a recent computer stupidity I had to deal with. Warning: this gets into computer geekery, so if you aren’t interested then you should pass on this one.

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Snail mail tracert update

A while back I talked about the troubles I was having with my mail being forwarded to my new place, and my attempt at using a certified letter sent to myself to find out why. I’m not sure if sending that letter helped a whole lot, but when I went to the post office and asked where it was, it seems that everything finally got kicked into gear, and this week I finally started getting forwarded mail. If only it had worked instantly like the real tracert instead of almost a month!

Health care: are people just too far apart?

The health care debate is generating a lot more heat than light these days, and I’m somewhat puzzled as to why. Only somewhat puzzled, though, because much of what is going on was accurately predicted long before this issue even came up, and in fact has been the norm for years. What we are seeing is the consequence of events that happened thirty or forty years ago, still having a huge impact today. The sad result is that people are so far apart, it’s hard to know if that gap can even be bridged.

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Computer Utility: WinRAR and 7-Zip

It’s harder and harder to come up with these good computer utilities, but here’s one I use just about every day: WinRAR. It’s a file compression/decompression utility that supports many file formats, with a nice GUI. However, it’s main use for me is its command-line options: it has a very powerful set of options, and it is what I used to back up my data files on a nightly basis. WinRAR isn’t free; it is shareware, and although it has a nag screen it doesn’t keep you from using it. It’s so vital for me, though, that I gladly paid for it.

If you want a totally free version, 7-Zip fits the bill. It’s almost as full-featured as WinRAR, and for a while I tried it out. The command-line options are not as good, however, which is why I stopped using it. If you are just looking for a Windows graphical file compressor/decompressor, however, 7-Zip is perfect.

Irish Fest 2009 Photos

I took a few photos at Irish fest a couple of days ago at Harriet Island in Saint Paul. Not nearly as many as last year, as we were only there for a little bit. Plus, I just wasn’t feeling very inspired by what I saw. A couple photos after the jump.

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A few thoughts on “A People’s History of the United States”

I recently finished reading A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn. You may remember this as the book that Matt Damon tells Robin Williams will “blow his mind” in Good Will Hunting. It’s a pretty different take on the history of the United States, from a point of view that typically is not seen in more traditional histories, especially those taught in school. The book is clearly, but honestly biased: Zinn believes that “objectivity” is a myth, which is something that I wholeheartedly agree with.

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Computer Utility: Knoppix

It’s hard to call an entire OS a “utility”, but Knoppix, a distro of Linux on a live CD, has come to my rescue many, many times. By far, the most common situation I find myself in where I am using Knoppix is when I’m faced with a Windows box that gives me a bluescreen on boot due to missing or corrupted boot files or virus problems. I simply boot from the Knoppix CD, plug in a flash drive, and copy all of the data I can from that NTFS partition. Once I’ve saved the data, I can reinstall Windows to fix the problem. And of course, being a distro of Linux, Knoppix allows you to do far more than just copy data. It’s definitely a CD or DVD everybody should have.

Shaving old school

I started wet shaving several months ago. Not to save money, as the Consumerist article talks about, although you certainly do. Truth be told, I don’t even remember why I decided to switch or how I stumbled upon it. It does take longer to shave, but I notice less neck irritation than when I used to use shaving-gel-in-a-can and a Mach Infinity Ultra Turbo Megablast cartridge razor. It’s a lot more relaxing too.