Archives » June, 2005

June 29, 2005

Don’t Celebrate Too Soon

Okay, so I’ve got a lesson to learn about posting things too soon. The fix I wrote about earlier today did indeed make my system run better…for about a half hour. Then the freezing and the hang-ups came back. So I started mucking around in the registry some more, and what do you know, I bollocksed up my system. Just like I said I would. So here I am, at the opposite end of a reinstall, a little bit wiser about writing things before I’m sure they worked. And just not “Oh, I’m so excited!” sure, but really really sure.

The good news is that the computer is running much better now. Yay!

Windows Freezing on Right-Click

For the last couple of months I’ve been having a Windows problem, where if I right-click, delete, or try to open certain files, the window would freeze up and hang for a while. Not the whole system, just the window where the file was. It seemed like a Windows Shell problem. It was getting pretty frustrating, and Google wasn’t any help, and so I was at the point where I was ready to just format and reinstall. Not something I love to do, since it takes weeks to get the system back to the way it was. But things were just unusable.

So I figured that as long as I was reinstalling anyway, I should take the opportunity to muck around in the registry. After all, I didn’t have to worry about destroying anything, right? So I was poking around, and I kind of had an idea where to go, so I deleted a few keys here and there. Then I tried to open a file, and guess what? No lag time! No freezing! By blindly taking a machete to the Windows registry, I was actually able to fix the problem. So, I figure I should pass along the bits that I chopped out, in case it might help someone else. In any case, it will make Google a little bit smarter.

Open regedit.exe, and go to the key HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shellex. Underneath the shellex key is another key named ContextMenuHandlers. And underneath that is a list of crap that you’ll probably never use, a list of programs that get to look at every file you right-click on. I had things in the list like PowerArchiver and WinZip, and bunch of others that I’ve forgotten by now. The point is that I deleted all of them. All of them, at least, except for these three:

  • {a2a9545d-a0c2-42b4-9708-a0b2badd77c8}
  • Open With
  • Open With EncryptionMenu

On the first one, I’ve learned that whenever Windows doesn’t want you to touch something it gives it an ugly name like that. So I left it alone. And the other two seem to be related to the Open With submenu, which I definitely didn’t want to go away. Everything else was crap, so I deleted it. And you know what, it solved my problem. Now right-clicking and opening files is as fast as when I first loaded Windows, even though now things like WinZip are gone from the context menu when I right click. Which, actually, is a good thing.

So, if you’re in the same boat and on the verge of formatting, give that a try first. Sure, you can really bollocks up your system by mucking around in the registry too much. But sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can really fix things too.

June 26, 2005

Friday – Concert in Minden Park

Friday night, June 24th, there was another concert in Minden Park. This show, featuring Playa Papaya, was the second in the summer series they’re putting on in the gazebo.

There was another good turnout this time, maybe even more people than last time.

Playa Papaya.

“No dogs” is the one rule that always gets broken at these things.

You can see at the bottom of the program, there are still three more concerts to go this summer.

I shot some video of the concert, and posted it at Ourmedia. You can watch it at This video uploaded just fine, but the V&T movie I talked about last night is still giving me problems. I don’t know what’s going on there.

June 25, 2005

Thursday – Carson River and Virginia City

My parents were in town visiting all week, so of course we went out on a few tourist-y type field trips with them and Sammy. Actually, they were just here to see Sam, so we probably could have stayed home while they went out with him, and they wouldn’t have noticed. But no, we all went out together. Since there were six of us, we had to rent a bigger car, because all we have are five-seaters. I guess it’s time to buy that minivan!

Our rental for the week, a Ford Explorer. We were a little weary after our past misadventures with Ford, but this one surprisingly did not burst into flames or have the transmission drop out of the chassis on us. Go figure!

On Thursday the 23rd our first stop was down at the Carson River for a little picnic lunch consisting of Weinerschnitzel hot dogs and fries.

The river is still running high after the usually wet winter we had this year.

Trust them when they say the bridge is unsafe. There are holes in the middle of it where someone set fires that burned all the way through the wood deck.

Green by the water, brown everywhere else. This is summer in Nevada.

After lunch we headed up the hill to Virginia City for a ride on the V&T railroad. I’ve been writing a lot about it lately, but this was my first ride on it in years.

Yes, they still have that ugly diesel engine. They must really be doing some work on their steam engines, because they’ve been out of service for two years. Either that or they ran out of money.

On the train, pulling out of the station.

Sammy and Grandpa are watching out for the bridge up ahead.

A long view of the work they’ve been doing on filling up the Overman Pit. This project has been in the planning stages for over ten years. Now they’re finally doing it. By August the Pit should be filled in, and the V&T tracks will travel a full mile further than they do today. By next year they’re supposed to extend over ten miles more down into Mound House, and they’ll reach all the way to Carson City by 2008. That’s the plan, at least.

Gold Hill, with the Gold Hill Depot in the center and one of the huge open-pit mines from the mid 20th century in the background. These mines were the last gasp of trying to pull money out of the Comstock Lode. Now most of Virginia City’s money comes from tourism.

The end of the line. At least for now. The right-of-way is almost graded down to where it needs to be, and soon they’ll start laying track. There is already a load of wooden ties on a flatbed car right next to where the train stops. For an idea of how much work they’ve done and how fast, look at this picture, dated April 6th 2005. Notice particularly how there is now an entire mountain missing.

Sammy and Kiki on the train, headed back to the station.

I have a six-minute video of the train ride that I want to post on Ourmedia, but the site’s down right now. I guess I’ll have to do it later. Keep checking back – I’ll put up the link here once it’s working.

Update: Okay, I finally got the video working on Ourmedia. It took long enough! The link is here: Nearly six minutes of footage from the rails. Check it out!

June 22, 2005

Busy Days

Things have been completely crazy the last couple of weeks, with finishing up a bunch of house renovations before my parents showed up to visit, helping my mother-in-law move, and now actually having my parents here. The website, and the computer in general, have just been put on the back burner. I’ve got a bunch of stuff I want to put together for the site, photo galleries mostly, but it’s all going to have to wait. But for now you can look at this panorama of the Animal Ark wild animal sanctuary, located in the desert outside Reno.

Also available in Mondo Size. This panorama, of course, is courtesy of AutoStitch. See more here.

This was our field trip for the day, a place that rescues animals like bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions that can’t be released back into the wild. It was a pretty cool place, even if all the animals were asleep.

More to come!

June 15, 2005

Looking For Layer 12

Poynter Online has an article by Steve Outing, The 11 Layers of Citizen Journalism. It’s a pretty good rundown of all the ways people out in the community can contribute to a website. But, since it’s published by Poynter, it’s aimed at newspaper staff and only talks about ways of adding your reader’s voices to what “real” journalists write. Too bad it doesn’t go beyond that, to what happens when “the citizens” build news sites without newspapers and journalists involved. That’s far more interesting to me.

Anyway, the 11 layers:

  1. Opening up to public comment
  2. The citizen add-on reporter
  3. Open-source reporting
  4. The citizen bloghouse
  5. Newsroom citizen ‘transparency’ blogs
  6. The stand-alone citizen-journalism site: Edited version
  7. The stand-alone citizen-journalism site: Unedited version
  8. Add a print edition
  9. The hybrid: Pro + citizen journalism
  10. Integrating citizen and pro journalism under one roof
  11. Wiki journalism: Where the readers are editors

Go read the article to find out more about these 11 layers.

June 14, 2005

V&T Progress: Faster Than You Think

It seems like just yesterday that I went up to Gold Hill to report on the groundbreaking ceremony for the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. It was actually back in April. They were just starting to fill in the enormous Overman Pit so they could lay tracks across it. It looked like a huge job that would take all summer. But now, according to the Nevada Appeal, they’re almost done with it. In a little over two months they’ve moved untold thousands of cubic feet of dirt and rock, filled in a hole over a huindred feet deep, and cleared out nearly a mile of right-of-way that hasn’t had rails on it for over 60 years. There’s still more work to be done, of course, like making sure the trackbed is nice and smooth, putting down gravel, and laying the tracks themselves. But I thought the earthmoving part would take the longest, and here it is done already. I guess it’s all that pent-up energy from waiting so long for the project to get off the ground. Now that they’re actually working on it, it’s going lightning fast. We need these guys to start working on the Ormsby House.

I had planned to make a couple of trips up to Gold Hill this summer to check out their progress and take some pictures. It’s been two months and I haven’t been back yet, mostly because my daily routine involves shuttling between home and work, and going up to the Comstock is a pretty big detour. I guess I better hurry up and get up there, so I can have some “during” pictures to go along with the “before” and “after” shots I’m planning on putting together.

The plan is for the whole project to be done and the train to be running on the new tracks in August. I think they’re definitely going to pull it off. I’d like to be on the first train to run on the new rails, but I’m sure it’s going to be packed pretty full!

June 11, 2005

Everybody Needs AutoStitch

I just found the most awesome tool for working with digital pictures. I was sifting through the LangaList from April (yes, I’m behind on my e-mail), and he posted a letter from a reader about this tool AutoStitch. What AutoStitch does, and I’ve been looking for this functionality for years now, is you throw a bunch of pictures at it, and it will create a panorama out of them. It’s only 700kb, but it will look at all the pictures, line them all up, rotate and distort them as needed, match the brightness and contrast, and produce for you a single .jpg that is a perfect panorama. And it does it all in about 30 seconds. And, most amazingly, it’s completely free!

Yeah, but how well does it work? Sure, there are some samples on the website that show 57 pictures being stitched together into a completely stunning panorama. And the program includes a few pictures that you can use to test it out. But the best way to test it is to throw your own stuff at it. So that’s what I did.

I remembered that a while ago I had travelled up to Virginia City and snapped a bunch of photos of the Overman Pit to put into a panorama. After about a half hour of trying I threw up my hands in frustration and called it quits. But I still had the pictures on my computer. Would AutoStitch be able to do what I failed at?

First I grabbed five of the Overman Pit pictures that looked like they were all taken from the same spot.

Then I set AutoStitch to work on them.

And the result? Totally, completely awesome.

And it only took about twenty seconds to do it! So run out right now and grab your copy of AutoStitch. The developers say they’re looking for someone interested in building commerical products with AutoStitch. To my mind, this should be included in every copy of Adobe Photoshop and Corel Photo-Paint ever sold. It’s just that essential of a tool for anyone working with pictures.

June 9, 2005

Dive Into AdSense

Everyone else has jumped off the bridge, so I have too. This week I signed up for Google AdSense, and I’m in the process of playing around with ad placement on this site. Now, you can be assured that I’m not going to have those huge squares in the middle of my paragraphs, or anything like that. But I will be trying out different things, and since you’re allowed three ad boxes on a page, I just might work up to that many.

Right now I’ve got ads in my left sidebar there, below the tip jar. And if you click through to an archive page, you’ll see ads between the post and the comments. Feel free to ignore them, just like you do on so many other sites. And feel free to laugh at how the ads are hidden behind the blogroll if the post is too short.

Too long I’ve been on the outside looking in on AdSense. Now I’ll be able to understand how it works. And, since most of my traffic comes from Google anyway, maybe I’ll even get a few stray clicks here and there!

June 4, 2005

Ormsby House in May

Once again it’s time for an update to the Ormsby House Renovation Gallery. I feel like I’ve been doing this site forever. Over two years, 66 pages of updates, and something like 450 pictures. And the place still isn’t done yet! Anyway, here’s the newest stuff for you.

The May update is now live. More paint, and less scaffolding. Just one page this time, with 11 pictures. Check it out!