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Tuesday, November 4, 2008 #

There's been a problem plaguing our SalesLogix install since 6.2x. Our sync service would randomly hang on our Windows 2003 Server box. Eventually it became more well known as more people began upgrading to Win2003 I believe and this confirmed it.

Friday, April 6, 2007 #

I received the shipment of Guitar Hero 2 yesterday roughly at Noon. I didn't disconnect the controller until 9:00PM (give or take 30 minutes). I took maybe a 1-2 hour break if you combined the couple of minutes in between songs. In total I'd say I spent a good 6-7 hours playing and I'm greatly feeling the effects of it.

Here's a basic injury rundown:

  1. Left forearm is tight. Muscles got a workout but the tendons received a beating. This was the most agonizing injury as it made sleep impossible until the waves of pain subsided.
  2. Left hand tendon tension focused at the second knuckle from the base (forgive not giving the technical term). This is a direct result of pressing and releasing the keys. A good indicator of the problem is that it hurts to make an O.K. symbol with my hand.
  3. Right hand thumb blister. The strum key caused the worst blister so far and there's no easy way to prevent it. I tried just flicking the key, using my whole hand, or gripping it in different ways. If I could only somehow use a guitar pick, it wouldn't be so bad on my fleshy digits.
  4. Various calluses on my left hand. These are due to the keys and me holding the controller in various positions.
  5. Super callous on my left middle finger. I've had calluses from straight guitar playing and this beats all of them combined. After cutting into my thumb blister to reveal the inner damage (and to pop what was basically dead skin), I can only imagine what a beating it took.

Needless to say, I'll be taking a major breather from the game for a while. I could say it's fun and addicting but I think my injuries speak for me there. I knew I had minor pains while playing but it wasn't until I could actually quit for a while that everything caught up to me. If I could only devote a fraction of that eagerness to my guitar, I might not be so mediocre. I will say one thing though, regardless of whether or not the game improves my actual playing ability it has given me an appreciation for playing that wasn't always there.

As of now, I've started one song on the hard difficulty level and I'll probably be there for a while. The game does a good job of progressing in difficulty and speed so that once you've mastered the easy level; medium isn't that much of a stretch. I made the mistake of putting a song on medium the very first time I played on my friends PS2 and I couldn't come close to finishing it. Now? I feel like a demi-god when I can thrash "Killing in the Name" or "Dead" on medium and I've yet to even touch Expert mode.

Anyway the game is great and possibly one of my best purchases for the 360. Even though it seems short and you're essentially playing the same songs all the time, it'll be very hard for me to put it down. I'm thinking about taking a limited play session when I get home, hopefully my injuries won't mind a slight discomfort. Here's hoping I'm not going to be stupid and spend another 6+ hours on it.


Monday, April 2, 2007 #

It's been over a year since I last posted and I return with a whiney post regarding work issues. The main reason I stopped blogging regularly was I typically talk to the majority of my readers on a regular basis, and I felt like just about every other post I was complaining about something. Complaints are fine but when you're reminded of nothing but crap you're dealing with, it doesn't exactly make the experience "fun".

What exactly has happened in a year? Obviously I've been playing a lot of the Xbox 360 and I've recently 99% completed building a desktop that will be primarily used for work and XNA purposes. Work has had very little variation. I still mainly do SalesLogix customization and support, with a sprinkle of Everything Else(tm). Sadly, the recent DST update and a couple of other incidents have left me complacent. My knowledge of SalesLogix was gained primarily through trial, error, and a heaping portion of luck (i.e. no formal training). Anyone with the misfortune of using SalesLogix in a small business shares a portion of what I go through and I've got to a point where it just doesn't seem worth it any more. Am I slipping? Is my job faltering in any way? No, but it's definitely a steep uphill battle and I'm growing tired of climbing.

My extra-curricular activities involving XNA and personal projects should provide me with less whiney behavior. I intend on posting more when I have the Internet at home (long story) and my desktop is officially complete. I also intend on actually doing something with my long defunct project ideas considering they’re still in the back of my mind from time to time.

Eventually I’ll try to procure a personal site to move my blog. I have nothing but great things to say about geekswithblogs.net but having never ran a site of my own, I feel like it’s overdue. I want more than just a blog can give me anyway and my ideas really can’t be contained here too well.

[Update: Fixed font issue with last paragraph]

I'll sum up this post in the shortest amount of words possible: the DST 2007 update from Microsoft breaks Intellisync for SalesLogix.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006 #

Usually I'm not an early adopter of any platform. I have limited funds and choose to alocate them wisely. Once a year I go against this principle for Christmas/my birthday and splurge on myself. This year I had it all picked out, Xbox 360, but there was no way in hell I would wait in line. I reserved $500 and some change for the purchase, knowing tax would bite me.

Finding the right package

I used only one online tracker (http://xbox360tracker.com/ ) and waited for just the right offer to pass me by. Luckily, or unluckily if you understand credit, I found an offer from Dell for the premium system, 1 wireless controller, play and charge kit, 3 games (kameo, madden, pgr3), and 12 months of xbox live for 680. The accessories and games alone equalled $300 + the $399 base of the premium system. Not too bad for everything I would have eventually paid for.

There have been a number of reported issues such as overheating, lockups, or other quirks.

  • Configuration
    • Orientation: Vertical. It seems to "prefer" this setting as the controllers are at the bottom of the console and every picture I've seen is in this configuration. I've always hated loading DVDs this way though.
    • Power Supply: On the TV stand behind the TV. There's not much room to draw air but it's exposed enough and not on carpet.
  • Transport: I've toted it up and down stairs multiple times (can't while powered, no media was harmed) and I've yet to see a problem. It looks so fragile but you'd be surprised.
  • Locked up: 2 times
    • 1 - Call of Duty 2: Possibly software but the DVD-ROM was making a whirring-click noise. As if it was searching for a spot on the DVD but couldn't read it. This happened in a loop and I had to power down the console using the power button (control was unresponsive)
    • 2 - PGR3: Clearly a software issue. The game just locked up. I could use the controller and load again so it was a small foul.
    • I consider #1 a serious problem if the software can cause such a loop. The OS was built from the ground up for the hardware, not using XP. I can see a reasoning for doing so, but there may be unplugged holes. Luckily dashboard can be updated (and probably could track it).
  • Loudness:
    • No game/DVD: Almost silent. There's a fan inside the box but it's barely noticable with normal ambient sound. I play demos when I'm in bed and with a fan on I don't notice a difference.
    • DVD: It's a 12x DVD-ROM. Fast is an understatement and I doubt it's any quieter in a computer. I expect this to sound like a small jet/high powered vacuum/high rpm lawn mower/dragster

Despite what I've experienced, what I have is still a stable platform. The Dashboard (OS/UI) makes changing console settings easy plus the "escape to Dashboard without saving" feature lets me get out of a game if I want to be anal and load a save before I got beat down during single player matches.

Conclusion

Was this a sound investment? Personally, the game choice hasn't reached "enough" for me but I'm extremely picky. The fact that 90% of my library works on the new system (though I only spent $150 on the Xbox) means the bulk of what I'm getting is the updated software and hardware. As far as the hardware goes, it's definately worth it. I could have waited but I'm glad I don't have to focus on paying it off immediately.

If I had a chance to do it all over again my only wish would be to inspect the box before hand at a local retailer. Things came a little banged up though everything seems to work just fine. Kameo and PGR3's boxes were either cut or crushed. The console box was a little bent on a corner suggesting things took a tumble. They were packed using air bags, not anything more secure, so it's highly likely the console bounced around and took out the games. Am I crying over it? Not unless 2 years down the road I can't get anything hypothetically caused now fixed and have to repurchase the console.


These are the games I've played so far to date in order of freshness:

Fight Night Round 3

  • Single Player
    • Quite possibly the game that makes the purchase "worth it"
    • The graphics are amazing as hell and while unrealistic (linear blood spurts) screams "potential" for upcoming titles
      • Tekken 5 was the first game that made me say "Holy ... I'm playing a cutscene" in the arcade when I first saw it.
      • I don't even have HD and the graphics are definately better than Tekken 5. "Holy ... I'm playing Final Fantasy: Spirits Within"
    • As with most EA games, I make a guy that looks like me. A non-or-slightly-non-obese person who seems to be at a decent ideal weight and looks relatively like me.
      • This means perfectionist single player until I get over the OCD.
    • There were big changes from the Demo to Retail as far as gameplay goes
      • The get up "2 sticks" option is incredibly hard after 5 knockdowns. It begins to become like a magnet when you try to put like poles together.
      • A HUD is good for a beginner like me initially. No HDTV makes trying to use visible fatigue difficult.
      • Some say the game is "slow" but compared to the demo everything is noticably faster but not Ninja Gaiden quickness. Say this with me: it's okay that it "feels" slow
  • Multiplayer
    • I've yet to play it but the options seem perfect for this type of game
    • Lag would be annoying and an excuse for beat downs
    • I expect to get schooled often

Call of Duty 2

  • Single Player Veteran
    • Enemy AI has shot me through the ground or what perceived to be complete cover
    • It looks like there are spots where the enemy comes out in an unspecified number of people until you reach a certain point
    • There are ways to make it feel less "cheap" but it seems more obvious you're playing against a computer. Yeah I believe WWII was a death trap but it feels very unrealistic, like they can see something you can't see.
  • Multiplayer
    • Lag is an understatement on some levels
    • The first user has 0 ping, which leads me to suggest the first person in a Lobby "hosts" the game
    • Once a game is done, you're kicked out forced to join another lobby (to my knowledge)
    • Playing games with friends is challenging (not that I have any)
    • There's an upcoming patch hopefully covering all of this.
    • I love it online with a squad that talks and works together. I'm a gung ho, retarded, shoot people in the face kind of person and it's nice to know someone has my back if I can speak reasonable

Tony Hawk: American Wasteland

  • Single Player
    • Same old Tony Hawk: Underground with slightly spiffier graphics and a Matt Hoffman BMX kind of gameplay added
    • Luckily I rented it. Online makes keeping it nice but the achievements and rest of the gameplay make me possibly want to buy it when it becomes $30 or whatever "greatest hits" is
  • Multiplayer
    • There seems to be active games in sperts. At most I've seen 3 possible games, the least being 1
    • Seems confusing at first but cool once you understand it
    • You seem to have to unlock the levels before accessing them. I know they have to be unlocked to host the map, not sure about playing

Final Fantasy XI (Beta)

  • I understand the concept but I only know one person to play this type of game and normally I don't have x/month to spend on one service.
  • Chat without a keyboard is "interesting"
  • Xbox Live headset does work which would make chatting easier. If it only dictated or used voice commands we'd be set
  • I'd love to play the beta until it's no longer free but with no one I know, I'm lost. I can't decypher the single player type text from people peddling crap.
  • I'd love playing if I had a guide. I don't really like MMO from what I see but I like the concept of having one person and building them up (it's what I do in single and multiplayer matches for as long as I've owned a console or game)

Project Gotham Racing 3

  • Single Player
    • Usual PGR single player. PGR2 got repetitive and cone challenges were "controller thrower" moments. Good to know that has returned
    • I've intentionally raced a small amount of races because of cone challenge but I'm no longer stuck on needing the highest medal on a race before moving on
    • I hated the normal cars and are glad they're gone. I hate simulations that use them
  • Multiplayer
    • I first raced only having the initial amount of money and I bought a car that cost all of it
    • Most people finish while I'm way behind. We share a laugh as I run into walls to try and finish on time
    • Different cars are definately better. I had to come back after a good couple of single player matches to finish easier.

Madden NFL '06

  • Single Player
    • I play the Falcons because of 2 reasons: I've lived in Atlanta all my life and it's the team I've consistently used since the NY Giants had Lawrence Taylor. We're talking Madden '91-ish
    • I go for practically every 4th down. Some games I can go all 4 quarters without being stomped but the computer catches on quick
    • Michael Vick seems cheap. You can run the hell out of the ball into any pocket and get a decent first down every time
    • Running game seems like the computer "knows" every play I'm gonna make, except for the sneak
  • Multiplayer
    • Haven't played online. Because of my team choice, I feel like everyone and their mom plays Michael Vick
    • I know no other decent team that wouldn't be played out and I don't feel I should have to give up my home team
    • Football isn't my sport so I'd most likely get beat down quickly with the technicality

Kameo: Elements of Power

  • Single Player
    • Honestly my type of game even
    • I love hovering. I've had a dream where I've flown like this so it's kind of cool to be able to do it in a game
    • Definately a good double digit hour experience. It appears kidsy but would definately be over their head (as evident here )
    • I'll get back to playing this when I can't get online
    • I too would feel like a puddinghead for not owning this after playing it. It's the best game of the initial line up (with no patches)
  • Multiplayer
    • Looks interesting but I don't know anyone on Live or have anyone to play with locally

Games I'm looking forward to are Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Saint's Row, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Frame City Killer and Mass Effect when it eventually comes out. It'll be a while before I'll have all of those games but I think I can last.


Monday, February 6, 2006 #

My buddy Bill recently has been requesting ideas for his upcoming Speech Server book. He discussed tone of the material and I thought I'd elaborate a little on the difference between a conversational and a technical reference tone.

I remember certain things about my CS (Computer Science) 101 class not because of Pascal (the greatest language EVAR (only because it was the first that turned the development light on)) but because the teacher had a way of relating the material to us in a way we could easily remember it. I even remember his mannerisms and the way he spoke perfectly clear to this day and it's been almost 10 years since I've been in the class.

I think the main problem is there is no category for conversational vs. "Linux man page dry technical" tone. If you haven't had the "luxury" of trying to decipher a man page just to get a working example, consider yourself fortunate. Personally I can't stand that type of material in a couple pages of man much less an entire book of it. Conversations are much easier for me to remember especially if the topic is done correctly. I may have been told 1000 times about Debug.Assert but if done right I usually remember the one anecdotal reference.

The main reason I read blogs is because I can't remember MSDN documentation to save my life. I can however remember what person X said about technology Y and use MSDN as a fall-back mechanism. The beauty and beast of this is it is "pushed" to me but that also means I have to wait for it in most cases. I usually never know I need technology Y until someone explains it in words I can understand. I don't have all day to decipher man pages so in general I skip any technology that can't be explained in terms I understand. If I need certification to begin touching your technology guess what? I'm not interested.

Then again there is that part of me that likes what I call the "transformer effect". I never read instruction manuals even as a kid. When I got a new transformer I would always tinker with it until I figured out exactly how I could turn it from A to B. The only time I ever picked up the manual was when I had a six changer and that's because I found 5/6 and the last one was evading me. That's how I approach technology in general for the most part. I can figure out 5/6 but the last sixth usually requires a manual of some sort. Keep it dry and all I'll do is search for a topic and put it away. Make it a conversation and I'll read it from start to finish like a book. For the record, I've never read a manual from start to finish. The only time I come close is video game manuals and that's because I need reading material when I'm taking a dump and it's just the right amount of material needed to finish the deed.


Friday, December 2, 2005 #

The title and post is a somewhat inside joke between my friends and I. When we make accomplishments together like beat a level in a single player game, one of us typically says something like “I did that. I unlocked that car all by myself. See that? I just beat the game...” or something completely arrogant yet partially true. Yes we may have made a contribution but it was a team effort that we all willingly condemn.

When I saw this page on the IEBlog: Better Website Identification and Extended Validation Certificates in IE7 and Other Browsers I had an “arrogant moment.” A “I remember thinking of something quite close to that, if not that exactly” kind of thought. So I started digging for my comment and it was just outside my RSS reader's sphere of influence meaning I couldn't just browse the comments for my entry. I had to dig but I didn't have to go that far outside of the window before I found my suggestion:

If the status bar is a bad idea, how about modify the frame around a web page? Unsecure sites would be normal, but you could have say a red or gold ring around a site that is completely secure. A mixed environment could have a completely different color, like half red half gold to say that part of it is secure, but because it's mixed the red says stop.

Of course I don't know how particularly easy this is, but it should be something that is easy to notice and can't be taken away by View > Status Bar. I do think that what we have has been sufficient so far, but take it a little step further for those of us not quite as fortunate to remember the umpteen steps we need to make sure a connection is secure. (It's not umpteen, but it's definately not one and seems to be getting more complex, not less)

My suggestion isn't exactly what was implemented but to make up the difference all you would have to do is introduce a new color (green) and throw the suggestion in the address bar, which is exactly how Apple's Safari behaves for certain things (the address bar shows progress specifically. Don't bash me for not knowing my girlfriend's laptop I barely use). Actually it's a little more complicated than that. My suggestion is somewhat like the green color but the red and “gold” (amazingly not far from the yellow they chose) refer to the Phishing Filter, something which wasn't quite known around April of this year.

So in the spirit of my friends, I say “You stole my idea” in exactly the same arrogant yet partially incorrect way. Since it's not the exact idea I get no kudos, karma, or brownie points today. I'll just chalk it up as a silent “I single-handedly changed your application from teh suck to teh suck, slightly less.” I should get paid for this crap. Really. My ideas are obviously worth more than anyone is willing to pay though, hence no dough.

What's next? I think I'll single-handedly figure out how to cure cancer, AIDS, stop world hunger, and make sure there are no more homeless people. I figure if I start fresh Monday morning I could have that done for ya by mid-day Tuesday. Sound good?


Wednesday, August 10, 2005 #

I've been super busy lately, namely out of the routine of blogging which is both good and bad. Our SalesLogix upgrade to 6.2 has kept me pretty busy.

I started blogging to keep my ideas in one place but I find that I often do not go back unless there's something I need. Posting solidifies my ideas in my head and in most cases will commit those things to memory with little effort. I'm the type of person that doesn't always have to write something down but when I want to remember it, if I speak it, write it, or somehow externalize my internal thoughts they're committed to memory more freely. I would think this is a basic thing for all humans but I have no research to back up the importance.

My blog has been neglected for the most part because I give a lot to work and my social life with very little else to give. I know it's not fair and I'm starting to come back around to this routine. This blog has never strayed away from something I really want and enjoy doing, which is the way it should be. I will admit sometimes it can bring unwanted annoyance but for the most part that's rare. That's a surcharge I should expect when dealing with other people and it's becoming less of a problem as the days go by.

I have been commenting a lot on the blogs I read and the discussion groups I'm a part of so my internet presence hasn't diminished, I just haven't been making my mark here where I should. Hopefully with a little more effort that'll change.


I have a Dell Dimension 4550 desktop that died Friday. The computer shutdown fine but when I proceeded to move it from one office to another, it would no longer power on. I spent more hours than I should have trying to diagnose and narrow down the problem and I think I have a good idea where it is.

Stage 1: Power Supply

To test this as the possible cause, I have a ATX power supply tester. It tests the large connection to the motherboard to verify that the power supply is working. I've used this on a power supply that is hosed so I know when it needs to be replaced. When hooking this up to the current power supply, the fan cuts on and because I left the hard drives connected they also spin up. This is completely opposite from what would happen if the power supply were hosed.

Mitigating circumsatances: I don't know if the tester has a way of testing the 4 prong “power on“ connector that connects to the motherboard. It could be that the power supply works but this power on connector does not.

Stage 2: Motherboard

The motherboard has a “standby power“ light that comes on when the power supply is plugged into the motherboard. The network connection has a LED for when the ethernet cable is plugged in and this light also comes on. This light isn't dependent on power and functions even if the computer is turned off. Realistically the computer draws a small amount of power whenever it's connected regardless of the power switch being turned on. Everything indicates this is happening as it should but it could be a false positive. Motherboards can be finicky.

Stage 3: Power switch

This seems to be the only logical choice. This is connected to a board that is mounted against the front of the case and then a proprietary looking cable connects this to the motherboard. From this “I/O Front Panel” another cable goes through the case and connects to the power switch on the front of the computer. I cannot verify this is connected properly because I can't seem to get to the connection. I've tried pulling on the cable slightly and everything seems in place but it's possible one pin isn't seated or the entire thing isn't connected as it should be. It's possible this is not a connection->connection cable but has one end that connects and the other end is fused into the power switch somehow.

Summary

Everything indicates this is a power problem since the computer will not POST. I want to narrow this down to the power supply, motherboard, or power switch before I call Dell and speak to someone I can barely understand. This will also help me bypass their scripts and get right down to the exact issue without spending hours on the phone. If anyone can think of anything I should try, please let me know. I'm fishing for ideas because I'm all out of them and I want to exhaust every avenue before I go the warranty/replacement route.