Geek Alert

by Nick Monday, January 29, 2007 2:40 PM

An amazingly accurate technical deconstruction of a "</hate>" t-shirt by a lawyer.  It's nice to know that non-technical people can have such a good grasp on XML compliant syntax.  Of course, he has totally declared himself a geek in the process, but there's nothing wrong with that.

You Know You're a Geek When...

by Nick Monday, January 22, 2007 2:09 PM

... you're talking to a woman who mentions PDA's and the first thing that comes to mind are "Personal Digital Assistants".

Should I Upgrade to Vista?

by Nick Friday, January 19, 2007 2:49 PM

As I mentioned in my last post, I just bought a new laptop.  I'm currently in the middle of the long process of installing everything on there that I use on a regular basis, and also getting it set up just how I want it... or as I call it... Nickafication.  Along with that, I'm also copying over all the data from one machine to the other so I can wipe the old machine clean for it's next life.  One of the reasons that I was frustrated that my old laptop started to break on me when it did was that I wanted to wait until Vista was out in the wild longer before getting a new machine.

This laptop came with Windows XP on it, but I have the option to go to a Dell site and get a free upgrade until the March 1st I think.  So... what are your opinions?  Is it worth it?  I ask this question from a couple perspectives.  First of all, does Vista provide enough features to counter any performance losses?  Can those features be gained through other means?  For instance, I can get most of the WinFX feature set on Windows XP, so I'm not sure that is a good argument for an upgrade.  Also, is it worth the potential pain of a problem during the upgrade?  Has anyone had a bad upgrade experience?

Let The Fun Begin

by Nick Wednesday, January 17, 2007 11:09 AM

Last week Thursday my laptop decided to break on me.  I've had it for about 4 years, and it has worked amazingly well all this time.  I bought a fairly high end machine at the time, and what's amazing is that I've never felt a strong urge to replace it in all this time.  I figured I'd need to probably buy a new Vista machine in the next 6 months, but really... laptop specs haven't improved terribly since I bought the last one.  Memory is a bit cheaper, and video card options have improved.  You can get a dual core machine which is nice, but really, clock speeds aren't being pushed up because the clock is one of the main power draws on a laptop processor.  The faster you push the clock, the more power you burn.  And when it comes to a mobile computer, battery is life.

For whatever reason, the hinge on my Dell decided to lock up on me.  When I opened it up, I heard this cracking, creaking noise, and the top facing above the keyboard started to pull away from the case.  I've messed around with it quite a bit, but can't seem to get it to work properly again.  It is still usable.  It boots, and I can open and close the case, but the facing is cracking and the screen is unstable staying up.  So I went back to Dell and bought a new laptop.  This one had been very, very good to me, so I decided to go back to it.  Once again, I paid for a very nice machine, and full expect it to last at least another 4 years.

It's actually quite strange that I'm not the type to constantly turn over computer hardware.  Hell, my Uncle (who really only uses his computer for buying and selling stuff on eBay) goes through computers faster than I do.  My problem is that I'm very picky about my computer setup.  And once I have my machine setup just the way I want, with everything installed on it that I want, I just can't imagine going through all that again on a new machine.  I figure it will take me at least a week before I'm able to stop using my old laptop at least partially, and probably at least another full week before I feel really comfortable on my new machine.

I will definitely give it up for Dell though.  When I ordered my new machine last Friday, they said the ship date would be the 22nd.  I figured I could make my old machine last for that long.  Then Sunday I got notification that it shipped.  That's right... more than a full week ahead of schedule.  They said it would be at my door step between Wednesday and Friday.  I got it Tuesday.  However, I do have a few complaints which I will air here.

First, like any boxed computer, they put tons of useless crap on it that I don't want.  There were so many trials from so many different companies, it took me a full hour to remove them all.  Secondly, they set up the screen resolution terribly.  It's a wide screen laptop, and they had it setup as 120 dpi, so all the fonts were horribly distorted.  Had I not been an expert in my field and immediately recognized what was causing it, I would have probably had to call their technical support line for help.  Not smart on their part.

Now I have to decide what I want to do with the old machine.  Normally with my old computers, I reformat them, refurbish them, and give them away to a needy friend who has a really old machine (or in one case none at all) and could use an upgrade.  Several of my old computers have had long, healthy, second (and in one case, third) lives... and it just feels good to do.  But with this one physically failing this way, I don't feel good about giving it away.  So now I have a dilema.  One possibility is that I tear out the guts, and see if I can turn it into a cool digital picture frame, ala Picture Picture.  The other is that I take it out to a field somewhere and recreate a classic scene from Office Space:

Any thoughts?

A Cheap Morning Laugh

by Nick Wednesday, January 17, 2007 9:33 AM

Just now I took a big drink of my non-fat vanilla latte, looked at this morning's Dilbert cartoon, and almost spit all over my computer.  You've been warned.

Gimme!

by Nick Thursday, January 04, 2007 10:04 AM

I'm a pretty typical computer geek in that I have my fair share of geeky toys.  I have a rather nice collection of geeky odds and ends that I like to keep in my cube at work.  Jeff Atwood offhandedly pointed out a new toy... which I feel I now must have.  It's a clock made out of Nixie Tubes!  One of my first "tech jobs" was working for the Technical Support Center at MSOE (where I got my degree in Computer Engineering).  My primary job was computer repair and network administration, but occasionally I'd get dragged into the "the dome" (where we stored all sorts of ancient computer equipment which we didn't need any more) to tear stuff apart for recycling.  One of the items that we tore apart had all sorts of displays made out of Nixie Tubes, and so I kept one cause I thought it was cool... which I still have to this day, and sits on a shelf in my cube with my other toys.  So when I saw a picture of the Nixie Tube Clock... I immediately started to drool:

In my eyes, this is the perfect combination of form and function.  A gorgeous stainless steal modern look to the base, yet it's operation depends on 30 year old technology.  I love this kind of elegant combination of old and new.  So why don't I just go out and order one right now?  It's $300!  That's just a little too much for a clock that would sit in my cube... even for me.

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Nick Schweitzer Nick Schweitzer
Wauwatosa, WI

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I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit. ... Full Bio

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