Archives » September, 2004

September 30, 2004

The Air Up Here

It seems I’ll have one more home turf advantage at Gnomedex: I’m used to the altitude. I’ve been seeing posts by lots of people, like Darren here, who are having trouble coping with the thin air. Well, I’ve been breathing this stuff for twenty years, so, I’ll race you up the stairs!

I’ve also seen the first anti-gambling post of the conference, from Dave Taylor. He makes good points about casinos being dens of despair, and not the most cheery places around, but overall I’m on Christopher Baus’ side: because of the gaming taxes, there is no personal income tax in Nevada. So drop a few nickels in the slots while you’e walking by. Or a few dollars. Or a few hundred. Whatever.

The Road to Gnomedex

Gnomedex 4 starts tomorrow (tonight, actually, if you’re going to the welcome dinner), and I’ve got my ticket ready. I see that people are starting to trickle into town and get settled in already, but there will be no trickling for me. For once, something big is actually happening right here, right in my backyard. Looking at the Feedster list for Gnomedex shows plenty of people either getting ready for the trip, or already in the hotel. And it feels nice not to have to get ready, not to have to travel, since Lake Tahoe is my home turf.

Okay, I know I shouldn’t be gloating. But when you live in a techie wasteland like the Eastern Sierra Front, you’re used to things not happening nearby. Everything is always going on somewhere else, never here. And you always just take Lake Tahoe for granted. It’s nice for a drive now and then, and to snap a few pictures, but there’s not much going on there, and it’s way too cold to swim in. So now, to think of Lake Tahoe as an actual destination, and worthy of attracting so many people from all over the county, it just doesn’t compute. I forget that Lake Tahoe is this wonderful jewel that people actually enjoy coming to, because I live down the hill, here in the desert, and nobody would ever want to come here.

Anybody who’s in Tahoe for Gnomedex seriously needs to get their hands on a car and drive all the way around the Lake. This is some of the most gorgeous scenery you’re going to find anywhere in the Southwest, and if you come all this way just to spend the whole time in a casino, you’re nuts. Head south on Hwy 50 (the main road by the casinos) then hang a right on Hwy 89. You’ll pass by Cascade Lake and Emerald Bay. You’ll pass by the Tallac Estate, where the filthy rich used to come stay for the summer at the turn of the 20th century. You’ll pass by the Fanny Bridge, so named because everyone leans waaaay over the railing to watch the fish swimming by. You’ll pass by multi-million-dollar mansions in Incline Village, where the filthy rich currently live year-round. And then if you have some more time to kill, head to the east, down the hill. You can actually see the exact line where the forest ends and the desert begins. That’s where I live, on the wrong side of the line. So close to Tahoe, yet so far.

And even if you don’t do any of that, I’ll still see you at Gnomedex. And at the end of the day, when you’re sitting in your hotel room, packing your bags and getting ready for that long flight home, I’ll be enjoying a home-cooked meal and settling into my own bed.

Okay, so maybe I can gloat just a little.

September 27, 2004

XP SP2 Slipstreaming

I’ve been a little light on the tech stuff here lately, instead focusing more on personal/local/photo topics. Shifting interests, I guess. I write about whatever’s on my mind; if I’m finding tech stuff boring this month, then you won’t be seeing any of it.

But I do want to point out this article I found. With the release of Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, the job of system administrator just got a little harder. This thing’s supposed to load automatically via Windows Update or Automatic Updates, but I found there were only three or four computers in my office that had loaded it so far. And if it updates automatically, I don’t have any control over it, and can’t make any changes. Like turning off or modifying the Windows Firewall, which blocks the VNC program I use to work on people’s computer from my desk.

So, I took control of the situation myself, found the 270MB “Full Download” of SP2, and spent the weekend updating 45 computers around my office. One of the biggest pains in this job is repetitive tasks like this, where you have to do the exact same sequence of events on every computer. And a service pack like this is especially bad, because you have to start it, walk away for half an hour, then come back and finish it. So I actually had to visit each computer twice.

Anyway, that’s done, and the 45 computers have SP2 installed and humming. But what happens when computer #46 comes along? Or one of them has a major crash and becomes unusable? Am I supposed to reinstall from the CD, which only has SP1, and then reapply SP2, adding half a hour to the installation time? Isn’t there some way to integrate SP2 into my Windows setup disc?

Actually, it turns out there is. It’s called “slipstreaming”, and Fred Langa wrote this in-depth article with step-by-step instructions and screenshots, describing how to do just that. He outlines the process of updating the files on your Windows installation disc to include SP2. It’s helpful stuff, especially since Microsoft hasn’t gotten around to releasing SP2-infused setup discs, and when they do they’ll cost extra money.

One bit of warning about the article: at one point Fred tells you to download the SP2 Network Installation Package. He neglects to mention that the thing is a monster 272MB download, which will take hours on even the fastest connection. So if you want to try this for yourself, make sure to budget the time for that. Go get that download first, in fact, and have it waiting and ready when you start stepping through the article.

September 26, 2004

El Tango Renovation-o

I know there are three or four people out there who remember all the renovation we were doing to our house last year, and are wondering how it was all coming along. Well, the short answer is: slowly. The long answer is held in this weekend’s photo essay.

As you may remember, for over twenty years our house was dominated by the Fugly Red Shag Carpet of Dismay™. In the latter years it had become the Fugly Red Shag Carpet of Dismay™, Now With Cat Pee Frosting®!

Fugly Red Shag Carpet of Dismay™, dining room division.

Last year, with a new baby on the way, we got fed up with that noise and decided on a change. So we ripped out all the carpet, throughout the whole house, and coated the subfloor with Kilz sealant. (Kilz! Now with 75% more toxic fumes!!) At this point our house became the Great White Expanse, a marked improvement over the Fugly Red Shag Carpet of Dismay™. And yet…living on plywood? Not as great as it sounds.

Great White Expanse, dining room portion. Yes, those are purple walls.

The Great White Expanse was to be a temporary solution. We settled on installing laminate flooring, also known as “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Hardwood!” We had the landlord (my parents) buy the wood, but that’s where things fell apart. One room was finished in October, and another in March. Having a baby takes up a lot of your time, don’t you know? So, anyway, sticking to our six-month timetable, earlier this month we did the third room in hardwood, the dining room.

The obligatory cluttered before shot.

But first, of course, we had to paint. Some years ago we had painted the room purple (Don’t ask; we were young). And years of sun damage had faded the purple to a sickly lavendar. So being older, and with slightly better taste, we went with a light cream.

Room for the vines to breathe.

Next it was time to put the hardwood down. First you lay a roll of blue foam padding; this helps to cushion the floor, dampen the sound of walking, and protect the underside of the wood. Then you snap the planks together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. This isn’t actually the time consuming part; it’s all the prep work and moving the furniture that slows you down.

An unexpected helper.

I also had some old ceramic tile to contend with. By the sliding glass door the carpet had rotted away long ago. So I replaced it, first with linoleum and then with ceramic tile. But the tile was old and cracked, the grout was coming out, and the colors just didn’t go with anything we had planned. So this, my very first ceramic tile job, had to be sacrificed so that hardwood might live.

Smash! Smash good!

After the tile was gone, the last few courses of wood fell right into place.

You’re doing it all wrong! Let me show you…

And then, at last, we had a dining room to be proud of. Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re going to stop eating dinner in front of the TV—that’s just family tradition. But now we have a nice place for when guests come over.

A hundred times better.

And sometime in the next six months, we just might get around to putting hardwood floors in the master bedroom!!

September 23, 2004

More In-N-Out Goodness

It’s a double dose of In-N-Out Burger! Yesterday I posted a few new pictures of our restaurant in Carson City, and then today I get word that the one in Reno has already opened. Just this morning, in fact. Well, knock me silly!

Of course, I’m not going anywhere near the place for weeks. I’ve heard about In-N-Outs opening in Phoenix and other places, and visitors being met with a four-hour wait. Lines in Reno sound like they’re similarly long, according to the quote in the news report: “Some say the long lines made the fast in fast food not apply today.”

So count me among the patient ones who can wait for the furor to die down a little. We’re going to Reno tomorrow, and I’ll sneak a peek at the line, but I’m not expecting good things. And ours here in Carson City will be open in just a couple more months, so pretty soon I’ll be sick of the place. All in good time.

I’ll be collecting more local news reports over on my In-N-Out page as they come in. Both of you who are interested can keep checking back.

Update: Photos! Yay!

September 22, 2004

In-N-Out update

Today there is a new update to my In-N-Out page. I’m finally getting around to posting pictures from a week ago! No time like now to procrastinate.

September 16, 2004

Rubber Duck Army!

September 11, 2004


Another Ormsby House update.

The August update is now here. Just a quickie this time, one page and six pictures.

September 4, 2004


We have a houseguest this weekend, a little Pekingese that we’re dogsitting. His name is Squishy.

Warning: dog pictures to follow.

But not everybody is glad to see the new arrival. Here are the eyes of hatred beating down from above.