Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Laundry Monitoring

HFS just upgraded all of the residence halls' laundry facilities. We can now remotely monitor the status of our laundry online. This is useful if you want to do laundry, but don't want to wait 5 minutes for the elevator only to find all the machines in use when you finally get down to the laundry room. Now you can just check online, and go when there are machines available.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Beer Sampler

It's my friend, Kevin Chiu's 21st birthday today, and he's getting as many freebies as he can. So I went with him to the Ram to get a free mud pie. Since we were there, we each ordered a beer sampler, which I was denied on my own 21st birthday.

I have to say though, all six of the beers tasted more or less the same. Maybe it's because I have no experience with alcohol yet...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

First Impressions

After enjoying life without a roommate for one whole day, I met my new roommate when he moved in on Monday. Since HFS didn't notify me at all that I would even be getting a new roommate, I was dripping wet and shirtless when I saw him.

Thanks HFS, thanks a lot.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Here's what my dorm room in Haggett Hall looks like after my roommate moved out today.

Friday, March 16, 2007

mailto Bug in Vista

Something really weird happens in Vista when I click on mailto links in Firefox (Here's an example of the links that I'm talking about: email someone). When I try to open any mailto links in Firefox, Internet Explorer opens and tries to handle the link. A few seconds later 35 additional IE windows open in rapid succession for a total of 36 IE windows open! While the windows are fairly easy to close since they are grouped together, it's still extremely annoying that 36 windows pop up whenever I click on a mailto link.

How to Fix
I think the problem may have something to do with not setting up Microsoft Outlook even though it's the default email client in Vista. Since I detest Outlook, I'm not going to set it up.

Instead, I installed this Firefox Greasemonkey script to rewrite all mailto links in a webpage to open with Gmail in a new compose window.

In addition, I went into about:config and set the key network.protocol-handler.external.mailto to be false instead of true. This now has Firefox do nothing when you right click on a page and select "Send Link...".

How to do Backups with xcopy

The DOS xcopy command is like the copy command, on crack. Here's how you can use it to do incremental backups (only copies new or changed files).

xcopy "D:\Andy's Files\*" "I:\BACKUP\Data\" /h /r /s /e /i /c /y /d

Where "D:\Andy's Files\*" is the directory to back up and "I:\BACKUP\Data\" is the directory to back up to. /h copies hidden files, /r overrides read-only files, /s /e copies subdirectories including empty ones, /i assumes the destination to be a directory, /c continues even if errors occur, /y doesn't warn on overiding files, and /d copies only files that are newer than the destination file.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spicy Food

Thanks Michelle, for the really spicy lunch today.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Blue Screening Vista

I thought Windows Vista was supposed to be more stable than XP. Last night I experienced not only my first bluescreen in Vista, but also my first reboot-bluescreen-reboot-bluescreen... cycle in Vista.

Don't Try This at Home
I was installing Alcohol 120% because I needed a program to burn my Ubuntu iso. Near the end of the installation, a red UAC dialog pops up asking if I wanted to install an unsigned driver. After I click yes, Vista bluescreens. "No big deal", I think, "I'll just reboot Vista and everything will be fine".

Just Try Rebooting

Well, I reboot Vista and immediately after I log in, I see a little icon appear in the system tray, and it's installing drivers. Frantically, I look for a way to stop it to no avail. About 10 seconds later, Vista bluescreens again. At this point I'm still not too worried because I think to myself, "I'll just start in safe mode; then I can run system restore." So I choose safe mode from the boot menu. Even before I can log in, while it's loading drivers, Vista bluescreens. "Okay", I think, "Now I'm really screwed."

Stuck Between a Sniper and a Hard Place
What I do next has almost no chance of success, but I do it anyway because I can't think of anything else. I boot Vista normally, and then I have about 10 seconds to fix the problem before Vista bluescreens again. The situation is similar to when I'm playing Day of Defeat: Source, and I know there's an enemy sniper looking for me outside, but I go up to the window anyway to try and snipe him first.

A Shot in the Dark
Recovery options exhausted, I try booting from my Vista installation DVD, not knowing anything about the recovery tools available. I'm pleasantly surprised to discover that there's an option to run system restore. I choose a restore point just before I installed Alcohol 120%. Vista reboots, I hold my breath, 10 seconds pass uneventfully, and then I exhale. I'm saved.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Irfanview Sticker

I saw this sticker on a lightpost near Hansee Hall today. It reminded me of the Irfanview icon.

Friday, March 9, 2007

HCI - Final Presentations

Winter quarter classes ended today. For our final Human Computer Interaction (HCI) class, we had our three design teams present our quarter-long projects for a group of industry people (T-Mobile, Google, and Microsoft were all present).

The three projects were:
Panlingual Mobile Camera - Translator for your cell phone.
Don't Forget - Never forget stuff again.
Cluster - Social networking on crack.

My group's poster.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Microsoft Event

Steven Sinofsky, Senior Vice President of Windows and Windows Live, came to UW today to give a talk about Microsoft Office 2007. Unlike most other industry presentations at UW, this one was actually interesting. He talked about the progression of Microsoft Word from version 1 in 1989 to Word 2007 now. He also talked about stuff like the huge amount of statistical data they get from users about which toolbar buttons in Word they click, and how they used the data in designing Word 2007's new ribbon interface to put the top 80% clicked buttons on the Home tab. Not only did Steven's presentation captivate the audience, he also managed to spin some loaded questions (i.e. Open Office, format compatibility, Word annoyances) to put Microsoft in a positive light.

And what's an industry event without prizes? 7 copies each of Vista Ultimate and Office 2007 Ultimate were given away, as well as a laser mouse and a Zune. Although I didn't win any of these big prizes, I did manage to snag a T-shirt.

Which turned out to be very wrinkly.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

21st Birthday

For my 21st bithday, I decided to go to the Ram with some friends. The plan was to drink some beer, get a free dinner since it was my birthday, and have a good time. Little did I know, there would be a series of setbacks to thwart my plan.

Good So Far
I went to the Ram with my friend Kevin Chiu and my roommate Torri. I hear you need at least three people to have a proper party so we were all set. The parking lot was crowded, but we managed to get a good spot by waiting for a woman to leave. We arrived at around 4:30, before it got terribly busy, so we waited less than 5 minutes to get seated.

The First Setback
It was time to order drinks. Torri ordered coffee and Kevin ordered Sprite. I ordered the beer sampler (6 different 3oz beers for $3). I showed my driver's license to the waiter. He looked at it awhile, wished me a happy birthday, and then said he couldn't accept it since it expired today. I thought he was joking. I asked the waiter how my license expiring today could possibly affect the date of my birth. He replied it was their policy not to accept expired identification and said I would have to talk to their manager. I decided not to pursue the matter further. After all, I had already waited 21 years, another few days isn't going to hurt.

So I ordered coke instead. Kevin asked them to serve it to me in a beer glass, but it just wasn't the same.
The Second Setback
I had a hankering for some shrimp, so I ordered cod and shrimp. When the food arrived however, my shrimp were nowhere to be found. I turns out the waiter thought I had ordered fish and chips. After I informed him about the mistake, he brought my shrimp on the side.

The Third Setback
When the bill arrived, I was expecting my dinner to be free. When it wasn't, I asked the waiter about the free dinner on your birthday promotion. The waiter said they had free mud pie on your birthday, not free dinner. I asked to talk to the manager, but he told me the same story. This couldn't be right I thought. The first time I had eaten at the Ram, my friend got free dinner since it was his birthday.

I remembered the email I got when I signed up for the Ram's MVP Club said something about free dinner on your birthday. Unfortunately, I hadn't printed it. Luckily, there was an Apple store right next door. So I grabbed my camera, and literally tripped over myself while running over there. I went online, brought up the email, and took a picture of it with my camera. I came back and showed the email to the manager, but he still refused to give me a free meal.

All's Well that Ends Well
In the end we did get a mud pie that was absolutely enormous.
The manager also gave me a coupon good for $15 off my next visit.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


I recently discovered this awesome podcast for learning Chinese called ChinesePod. This podcast actually makes learning Chinese fun, or at least, as fun as learning Chinese can be. The hosts are great, and the lessons are on interesting topics like pirated DVDs, love triangles, and infinitely recursive stories. There are lessons for each level of Chinese, from novice to advanced (I'm at the intermediate level).

Best of all it's free and there's no advertising in the podcasts. You can subscribe in iTunes for the latest episodes. You can also get the first 500 episodes via bittorrent.