Archives » January, 2008

January 31, 2008

Folsom Valley Railway

A little over a year ago we took a ride on the Folsom Valley Railway, a little miniature steam engine in Folsom, CA. I also posted video of the ride, which has gotten up to 4,000 views on YouTube. Not shabby, I think.

Today I found an article about the railway, and the history of how this little engine found itself in Folsom.

January 28, 2008

Remote Command Line On Windows

For a while now I’ve been curious if there was a way on Windows to get a remote command line from another computer. You know, just a plain old command prompt, that when you entered commands they ran on a remote computer instead of your own. This is a staple on Linux systems, since they are all based on the command line, but with GUI-based Windows it was proving trickier to do.

I had found some halfway solutions that never seemed to work right, and I wasn’t too happy with any of them. But today I think I finally found the answer I was looking for. It does depend on a free little software download, but aside from that there’s no installation or setup required on either computer.

I first read about it on this site. What you do is go to a certain MS TechNet page and download the PSTools package (linked in the right sidebar). This software is from Sysinternals, a development group that was acquired by Microsoft a couple of years ago. So it’s “official” MS software, much like the PowerToys.

Anyway, here are the instructions for use:

  1. Download from this site.
  2. Extract to a folder on your hard drive. If you can put them in the path, like in C:\Windows\System32, even better.
  3. Open a Command Prompt: Start > Run > cmd.exe
  4. Change to the directory you extracted the files to: cd c:\pstools, for example.
  5. Enter the command psexec \\RemoteComputer cmd.exe. Replace RemoteComputer with the name of the computer you want to take control of. You have to have admin rights on the remote computer.
  6. A Sysinternals EULA might pop up. Accept it.
  7. Watch as a new command prompt appears in your console window. You’re now controlling the remote computer!

I really think this is something that should be folded into Windows itself. And maybe it will be, since Sysinternals is under Microsoft control now. I know that when I’m working from home, or working on my Tahoe office computers from Carson City, sometimes I just want a command line on the remote computer, especially if I’m doing a little housekeeping behind the scenes while a user is on the computer. Now I can do it with no problem, now that I’ve found this neat little tool.

And PsExec is just one of 12 tools in the PsTools package. The rest of them are probably just as useful.

Super Screenshot

Looking for an easy way to make a screenshot of a webpage? Of course there are plenty of ways to do it, involving the Print Screen button or programs that you load on your computer. But I found a way to do it online, This site very simply lets you get a screenshot, and a full-length one at that, of any website you enter. Just look at this screenshot of Around Carson that I made today.

Crazy Paper Toy

This step-by-step video shows you how to make a “Crazy Paper Toy”, a little block of origami cubes that folds in and around on itself. I’m sure I’ve seen this made out of wood and plastic, but never paper.

January 27, 2008

Monte Carlo Fire

I think the best picture I saw of the fire at the Monte Carlo casino was not one that had flames, but this closeup showing the aftermath and the damage. You need to see the big size to catch all the melted details on the facade.

But I think the real story here – did we know that they are using highly flammable foam to shape out the details on these hotels? Highly-flammable foam that apparently burns like straw and drops embers onto the street below? Is that something we were supposed to know?


So I just now got around to putting my Halloween home movies up on YouTube. It starts off with some footage of Sam fooling around in his costume, and then goes into views of all the decorated houses around the west side of Carson City. It’s great how the whole neighborhood around the Governor’s Mansion gets into the Halloween spirit and decorates like this.

January 23, 2008

Knott’s Berry Farm Ride Videos

In 2001 I went to Knott’s Berry Farm with my video camera, and filmed a few of the rides there. My intention was to put the videos on the internet, because back then there were plenty of ride-throughs of Disneyland rides available, but nothing from Knott’s Berry Farm.

So, here I am, seven years later, finally putting them online. Better late than never, eh? You can’t blame me, though. Back in 2001 there wasn’t even YouTube. Of course, the thing about waiting so long is that now most of these videos are available on YouTube, from dozens of other people. I think the first one is an exclusive, though. I couldn’t find any other video of the Kingdom of the Dinosaurs ride, which closed in 2004.

Kingdom of the Dinosaurs

Calico Mine Ride

Timber Mountain Log Ride



And here are a couple more Knott’s Berry Farm links:

The Knott’s Berry Farm Museum

January 22, 2008

Video Rewind: I Do’ Wanna Know

The thing that really sets the 1980s apart from every other decade is the sheer amount of fun that was infused into the pop culture. Take a song like this one, which was the opening track off of REO Speedwagon’s 1984 album Wheels Are Turnin’. Not only is the song itself bouncy and catchy as hell (you’ll be humming it in your head all week), but the video features a mohawked punk terrorizing his family before being killed in a freak toaster accident, going to Heaven where the angels play baseball with his soul, then being crated off to Hell in a magic phone booth. Name any other decade, in the history of ever, when this video could have been made.

By the way, the creators of Bill and Ted totally ripped off that phone booth idea.

January 20, 2008

Western Nevada Historic Photo Collection Blog

So I started another blog. At least this one is kind of an offshoot of an existing site, not another entirely new website. It’s the blog of the Western Nevada Historic Photo Collection, the WNHPC Blog. I hope to use it to write about building the collections of the WNHPC, and to highlight interesting photos out of the collection. And of course I’ll be putting really interesting photos here too, but I’m hoping to make that a place where I can do all photos all the time without it getting overwhelming. You can follow the blog, or subscribe to its feed.

I have one big post up already, about a major addition I just made to the site. Today I added the Lawrence & Houseworth collection, or at least a part of it. The L&H is a collection of views of California and Nevada during the mid 1860s, about 1,500 in all. I was sifting through the collection and found a sequence of 118 shots that chronicle an expedition from Placerville to Lake Tahoe and Virginia City. The photographer made several stops along the way (what is a three-hour drive for us probably took them a week or two by wagon) and took tourist photos of the interesting sights from the trip. Then they reached Virginia City and got to business photographing main street and the mines. It’s a fantastic sequence, and I just had to put up the whole thing. To see it, start here and click on the Next button at the bottom.

There was one set of photos that was so funny I had to give them their own post.

January 17, 2008

Library of Congress on Flickr

The Library of Congress has long been one of the best online sources for historic photos. Their collection of the Historic American Buildings Survey, in particular, has always been a favorite of mine because it holds so many historic photos of the Carson City and Virginia City areas. But their excellent collections have always been hidden behind a clunky web interface that made searching, finding, and sharing the photos very difficult. And with permalinks that expire after a certain amount of time (permalinks like, browsing their site can be a real pain, even if the content makes it worth it.

But now someone at the Library of Congress is actually doing a fair job of keeping up with the times on the web. Not only do they have a blog, just yesterday they had this post outlining a new partnership they’ve entered into with Flickr. The Library has put up over 3,000 of their pictures on Flickr, photos from two of their collections: the George Grantham Bain Collection, and the FSA/OWI Color Photographs. They’ve put each of the collections into a set on Flickr (here and here). But the real power of the web that they’re trying to harness is the community features of Flickr. They’re asking the public to add tags and comments to each of the pictures, to collect the wisdom of the crowds surrounding these photographs. The idea is that the public knows more about these pictures, the subjects, the places they were taken, than the curators of the collection could ever hope to know. So if we set the public loose, tagging and commenting, it adds to the store of knowledge more than the Library could ever do on its own. Great idea, and kudos to the Library of Congress for going along with it.

And it seems to be working. A commenter matched up this photo of a train wreck, with this article from April 30, 1911 about a train full of teachers that derailed in Pennsylvania. Will this work for every photo? No. Could a researcher at a library or museum have made that connection? Probably. But it’s a sign that the experiment is working already.

It’s all part of a new project from Flickr called The Commons. The hope is that this trial period with these 3,000 pictures will be a success, and they’ll move forward to add more pictures, and from more sources than just the Library of Congress, in the future.

You can read all about on the Flickr blog, read the FAQ, or just jump in and look at the LOC’s pictures.