Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Vista ships! The world is changed!

On news of Vista (the 'revolutionary' new operating system from Microsoft) shipping, stock prices jumped up as the market realized how totally awesome this was, and how it was going to re-invigorate the stagnant computer industry!

Err, wait. No... that's not right at all.

On Jan 25th, MSFT closed at 30.53
On Jan 26th, MSFT closed at 30.60, up 7 cents (and it actually peaked over 31 during morning trading)
On Jan 29th, MSFT closed at 30.53
On Jan 30th, MSFT closed at 30.50
Jan 31st looked like things were going to get better, closing around 31
Then on the 1st things fell back to 30.57, then fell further to 30.19 on the 2nd.

Now it is true that Microsoft stock is still trading in the area of a year high (I believe 31.21 a couple weeks back is not only a 1yr high, but might actually have been a split-adjusted 5 year high). But, that's not the point. Given the hoopla around this thing, you would have expected shareholders to receive a free kitten and a coupon for a pony ride in the mail.

MSFT chart on Google finance

The marketing strategy for Vista is apparently "The WOW starts now!". Well, that isn't quite right either... If you watch the commercials it is more like "the wow starts now." No capitalization, no explanation points, just a couple normal people mixed with a bunch of what may well be zombies.

The best play on that theme, that I've seen so far, is "The 'Huh?' starts now". If you search for that on google you'll get all manner of hits. I think the ComputerWorld article with that title, by Mike Elgan, was the first use. His sentiments seem to be echoed in a ton of other articles, with much less witty titles. Not everything in the article is accurate, but that is irrelevant. The many articles that reflect those sentiments means that the article portrays what people think. Marketing teams have long had to fight to change consumer impressions when they were fueled by ambiguity, misleading information, or simply speculation. So, I guess they better get to work.

I heard someone mention the 'Vista upgrade juggernaut' the other day. Apparently he doesn't read the same articles as I do.

Washington is dog-crazy

Last week I found the most ridiculous news post I'd seen in quite some time. A loopy Senator from Seattle, Washington (Ken Jacobsen (D), http://www.sdc.wa.gov/jacobsen.htm) has decided to put forth a bill that allows people to bring their dogs in to bars.

Now that is definitely one of the most intelligent things I've heard in a long time. A loud, chaotic, crowded bar, where people are routinely get bumped and occasionally have drinks spilled on them sounds like the perfect place for a dog.

The Senator claims that he came up with the idea when he was at a bar on a cold & rainy night, and saw a bunch of dogs tied up outside while their owners were drinking. Okay, clearly the solution there is to let the dogs inside - telling the owners "WTF, why did you bring your dog at all" doesn't make sense at all.

I guess when you put it in the perspective of the rest of the Seattle-area dog-owners who think they should bring their dogs in to the grocery store, CompUSA, the mall (licking clothes, that's nice), and look directly at the "No Dogs Allowed" signs on the door and shrug it off because "my dog isn't messy or loud" it makes sense. I was in Home Depot several months back and there was a huge rottweiler (its nose was at hip level), roaming free with no leash I made a comment about a dog being lose. The owner was 'nearby' (an aisle away) and he walked over and said his dog wasn't causing any problems. Okay, that wasn't exactly the point dumbass. The sign on the door that says 'no dogs' is there for a reason. The arrogant ass claims that the rules have changed, and that the sign simply hasn't been taken down yet.(HomeDepot corporate response center disagrees BTW)

I really really don't want to see anyone get hurt by a dog that gets spooked, or even a dog that decides to be overly friendly and accidentally knocks a kid down on his head, but it is going to happen at some point. If you want to take your dog somewhere go on a walk, take it to the park, whatever. Taking it to Nordstroms is not acceptable.

Anyway, back to the Senator. Apparently I was not the only person who emailed him. I got a bulk reply today, where he attached a poem in his defense.

A poem. WTF. We're talking about using tax-payer money to work on a bill allowing animals in to establishments serving food.

Here is the reply that was sent out:

Many people have written asking why I introduced a bill to allow dogs to join their humans in bars and taverns. I hope the attached statement helps explain.
This proposal sparked strong feelings -- and more emails than on any other topic this legislative session. While different people have different feelings about our canine friends, I wish to give all people the choice of visiting bars with dogs or without.
And for those who asked, I also am working on bills regarding military veterans, state parks, guardians for disabled people, forest fires, salmon recovery, higher education tuition, and other matters that have received far less media attention. I welcome your comments on any of these.


And the Word doc that he attached (come out, couldn't you have just typed the text in the email?) with the poem (and seriously, if you're going to base your explanation on a poem couldn't you have at least tried to write it yourself?) said:

“Eulogy for a Dog”
U.S. Senator George Graham Vest,
Missouri, 1869

“The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog.

“A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground when the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only to be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince.

“When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wing, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

“If fortune drives his master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege that that of accompanying him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when that last scene comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there, by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful, and true, even in death.”


For more information see any of the hundreds of articles on the web (google for 'washington dog bar' will work).

Unfortunately the public hearing on this bill is Jan. 30th - today. I did not know about it. I bet all the extreme irresponsible dog-lovers in Seattle new about it though and have done a good job organizing. :(

(disclaimer: seeing eye dogs, and other trained 'assistant' dogs, are great. they have been given extensive training and are doing the world a service. they can go in the store)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Hey jerk, wtf?

I saw the best thing the other day, it has been maybe 3 weeks and I still think about it.

It was a greenish Land Rover with a "Baby On Board!" sign in the window. I've seen tons of cars with the BoB placard stuck to the rear window, but this one was special. This one was turning off the main road on to a side road, which involved cross 3 opposing lanes of traffic. While speeding. And running a red light.

Hey, jackass, that sign doesn't make you invincible. People are not going to slam their brakes and swerve in to the ditch to avoid hitting you. If you get hit the cop isn't going to immediately find the other person at fault just because you had a 'warning sign'.

Stop driving like an asshole, before you end up doing something that makes you not need that sign anymore.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Installing a Microsoft Razer Habu mouse

How to install your Razer Habu / Microsoft gaming mouse.

If you're reading this, you've probably already found yourself in a quagmire. Let me just say I know exactly how you feel. I actually went back to the store and exchanged a Habu that I thought was defective!
Razer says they don't support the mouse (even though the software is very clearly Razer-derived) and Microsoft's support site is less than stellar. I have installed 2 of these mice, so hopefully you find these instructions useful on your own system.

I'm going to cover 3 topics here:

  1. Installing the mouse for the first time under XP or XP x64
  2. Installing the mouse if you've already tried and failed
  3. Using the mouse under Mac OS X.


Installing the mouse for the first time

The most important thing for you to do, is to not read the 'quick start guide', the 'Important' addendum sheet, or the 'little tag taped over the USB connector'. There are directions that don't work in there, as well as directions that conflict with other parts ofthe written docs and parts of the web page!

1) Get the mouse and set it on your desk, do not plug it in

2) Get the Habu Driver Disc out of the box and place it next to the mouse, do not use it yet.

3) Go to the Razer Support site (razersuport.com) and download the latest Habu software. You can unzip it, but don't start using anything in there yet.
  • Click 'Downloads', then in the middle of the page there is a link to 'Microsoft Habu Driver/Firmware v2.01'


4) Figure out which USB port you are going to want to use the mouse on. There are a couple places with dire warnings about the mouse not working if you change USB ports, I don't know if that is true but given how frail the rest of the setup is I'm taking it for truth.

5) Plug the mouse in to that port. Notice that we haven't installed anything yet, we're throwing the included directions to the wind baby!
  • You should hear the XP 'found new hardware' sound, and see some popups near your notification area (that's the little area with the clock and all the other random little icons like Volume Control in your task bar, lots of people incorrectly call it the 'tray'). Don't worry if you see something called the 'Habu Mouse' pop up and then disappear being replaced by a 'Generic HID Device', that is expected.


6) At this point you should actually be able to move the mouse cursor around the screen with the Habu. Don't claim victory yet, in this mode the mouse is no better than the free mouse that came with your system.
  • Do not disconnect your original mouse yet, you're going to need to keep using it for the remainer of the process. I'll note when it is safe to remove it.


7) Put the CD in the drive, and run the setup program (it will launch itself if you have autoplay aka 'security hole' enabled on your system). When it tells you to reboot, let it.
  • If you are on an XP x64 machine you'll get a warning about unsigned drivers, and asking if you should continue or abort. Go ahead and click 'continue'. I can not explain why Microsoft would brand a product that didn't have signed drivers.


8) Now that your computer is back you should see a Razer logo icon in your note area. If you do, congratulations you are halfway there, continue to the next step. if you don't see it, do not dispare it isn't game over yet, jump down to the 'Oh no!' section below, and follow those steps before you jump back up here to continue.

9) Double click the icon, and the horrible Razer UI should pop up, and you should -not- see any error/warning messages displayed. If you see error messages cancel out of them all, and jump to the 'Oh no!' section before continuing. (re: bad ui. I love dark interfaces, but this one is a travesty. Try setting your desktop color to black and then using the UI with some error messages popped up, it all blends in to each other. Even a 1 pixel 25% gray border would have helped)

10) To make sure things are really working part 1: look at the top of the Habu config window and you should see a line that says Driver Ver: 1.00, Firmware Ver: 1.00. If the 'firmware' number shows 'n/a' then skip to the 'Oh no!' section before continuing.

11) To make sure things are really working part 2: Underneath the picture of the mouse you should see 'Light-options' (which apparently is a compound word nowadays?) Click on one of the 'on' icons until the illumination behind it goes off, then click the 'Apply' button. You should see the associated light turn off on the real-world mouse. If it doesn't, the 'Oh no!' section is where you need to be.
  • On my x64 system this change was really slow, be patient. Shaking the mouse actually helps, it seems to wake it up and then it realizes it needs to do something.


12) Assuming both of those steps worked, close the configuration app (don't waste time tweaking settings yet, we're not done)

13) Find the v2.01 folder you got from the website, open it, and then open up the 'Firmware' folder. Close all other open apps. Do not plan on doing anything (even typing instant messages) while the next steps are happening (normally I think that is stupid, but as I said before this is a frail setup, better safe than sorry)

14) Launch the 'Update' application. You'll probably get a warning about it being a non-verified app, go ahead and click 'Run'. (Again, don't ask me why Microsoft is letting this crap fly)

15) If all goes well you'll get a success message that tells you to unplug the mouse. Unplug it, wait for the XP 'hardware removed' sound to finish, then plug it back in -to the same USB port it was just in-. and you should hear the 'hardware inserted' sound. A few seconds later you should be able to hit the 'Exit' button on the firmware upgrade dialog.

16) Go back to the v2.01 folder you got from the website, this time go in to the 'Software' folder, and run the 'setup' application. This should 'just work' if you follow the on-screen directions and reboot when it wants you to.

17) Claim victory, but do not laugh at the other Habu forum posters who are still fruitlessly begging their mouse to work.


Oh no!

1) Make sure that the software actually got installed to the hard drive. Do a start:run:'%programfiles%\razer\habu' (without the quotes) and there should be a bunch of stuff in that folder. If you only see a 'Driver' and 'Driver64' folder that is not good enough! You'll need to re-run the setup app on the original CD, and reboot.

2) If you see the tray icon, and can launch it with no error message, return where you started.

3) If the software was there, make sure the device is actually showing up. Click the start button, point to 'My Computer', right-click, and select 'Manage'. This will launch the Computer Management console. Click on 'Device Manager' and then in the right pane expand the 'Mice...' section.

3a) You should see 1 (or more) 'HID-compliant mouse' entries. Double-click the first one, then go to the 'Details' tab in the window that opens. Set the drop-down to 'Device Instance Id' if it isn't already, and then look to see if it says HID\VID_1532... If it says 1532, than you have found the Habu, if not move on to the next one.

3b) If you don't have a '1532' HID-compliant entry, then your computer isn't seeing the mouse. Try a different USB port.

4) Once you find the right one, go to its 'Driver' tab and click the 'Uninstall' button, then click 'ok' to all the popups. Once the 'uninstall' is done, reboot the computer.

5) If you see the tray icon, and can launch it with no error message, return where you started.

6) Okay, something's messed up let's start all the way over.

7) Run the setup program on the CD and it should do an 'uninstall'. At the end it will ask you to reboot -do not do it yet-.

8) Do a start:run:'%programfiles%\razer\habu' (without the quotes) and see what is there. If there are a bunch of files, then the uninstall didn't work, you'll need to do it again. if there are only a 'Driver' and 'Driver64' folder that is good. Go up a directory level and move the 'habu' folder to the trash.

9) Find the '1532' HID-compliant entry again and 'uninstall' it (steps 3-4, and the reboot at the end of step 4 will take care of the one that the setup program in step 7 wanted)

10) Now you should have a fairly fresh slate so you can start the main directions over from the beginning.

Installing when you're already failed

1) There are any number of ways you could have gotten yourself in to this situation - you could have tried using the software from the internet to install your mouse, you could have randomly mashed keys while doing the install, or you could have followed the direction provided in the Habu box, either way these steps should get you back up and running

2) Get the mouse and plug it in to the USB port you want to use

3) Get the Habu Driver Disc out of the box and place it next to the mouse, do not use it yet.

4) Go to the Razer Support site (http://razersupport.com) and download the latest Habu software. You can unzip it, but don't start using anything in there yet.
  • Click 'Downloads', then in the middle of the page there is a link to 'Microsoft Habu Driver/Firmware v2.01'


5) If you have installed the software and haven't uninstalled it yet run the setup program on the CD and it should do an 'uninstall'. At the end it will ask you to reboot -do not do it yet-.

6) Do a start:run:'%programfiles%\razer\habu' (without the quotes) and see what is there. If there are a bunch of files, then the uninstall didn't work, you'll need to do it again. if there are only a 'Driver' and 'Driver64' folder that is good. Go up a directory level and move the 'habu' folder to the trash.

7) Click the start button, point to 'My Computer', right-click, and select 'Manage'. This will launch the Computer Management console. Click on 'Device Manager' and then in the right pane expand the 'Mice...' section.

7a) You should see 1 (or more) 'HID-compliant mouse' entries. Double-click the first one, then go to the 'Details' tab in the window that opens. Set the drop-down to 'Device Instance Id' if it isn't already, and then look to see if it says HID\VID_1532... If it says 1532, than you have found the Habu, if not move on to the next one.

7b) If you don't have a '1532' HID-compliant entry, then your computer isn't seeing the mouse. Try a different USB port.

8) Once you find the right one, go to its 'Driver' tab and click the 'Uninstall' button, then click 'ok' to all the popups. Once the 'uninstall' is done, reboot the computer.

9) Now your system should be clean, so you can follow in the 'installing the mouse for the first time' section, starting at step 2


Using the mouse under Mac OS X

1) Why is this here? Mice are plug & play on the Mac right? Yes, they are. But, someone decided to pre-program the mouse buttons, making use of the on-board memory in the Habu. By default buttons 6 & 7 are set to dynamically change mouse speed. If you use software on the Mac to configure your buttons, you'll find the buttons do what you want - plus randomly changing your mouse speed!

2) The Habu software only works on Windows, so you'll need access to it. If you have access to a Windows XP machine, then follow the 'installing the mouse for the first time' directions, then come back here to step 4

3) If you use Parallels then do the following

3a) Plug the Habu in to your Mac

3b) Launch Parallels, and when your virtual window opens click the USB icon and click the 'Habu Mouse' entry, so that a check mark appears beside it.

3c) If you got that done before Windows got to the desktop then proceed to the 'installing the mouse for the first time' directions

3d) If you didn't, reboot your Windows install and then proceed to the 'installing the mouse for the first time' directions
  • You will probably not be able to do the firmware update via Parallels, at least the version-of-the-day doesn't allow it to work. I assume it is becuase of how the USB proxy/emulation stuff works conflicting with how the firmware updated wants to access the mouse. If you can't do the firmware update part, don't do the version 2 software update part either. This doens't really matter becuase you won't be using this software anyway. The updated firmware does fix some bugs that occur when you are moving hte mouse really fast, so if you have access to an XP machine and you flail the mouse around a lot you may want to do it.


4) Double-click the icon to launch the Habu configuration window

5) Click the box next to the '6' (which will default to DPI up or down) and set it to 'Click', do the same for the box next to the '7'

6) At the bottom of the configuration window there is a 'Profile' line with the '1' illuminated. Switch to profile 2, and repeat step 5. Repeat for all 5 profiles.

7) Click 'OK' to save the changes to the mouse.

8) Return to your Mac (i.e. quit Parallels if you were using it, bring the mouse back to the Mac if you had a separate computer)

9) Configure the mouse buttons as you wish without worrying about random speed changes. I'll post a seperate blog in a few days on configuring input devices with an awesome piece of software I recently found.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Snow pics...

I posted a few pictures over on Flickr of the snow.

I've got a really cool panorama too, it is an 11 meg jpeg so I don't think I can put it on my Flickr page. It is just sitting in a temporary folder at the moment, so if you're reading this a month from now and that link is broken, sorry.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Snow redux

It has done it again... Snow has gripped the city and turned the normally poor drivers in to complete disasters. Emboldened by the 'All Wheel Drive' logo on their silly little SUVs, people are flying down the ice covered roads at 60 miles an hour, not only failing to slow down for yellow lights, but also completely ignoring red lights and stop signs.

I took a few pictures when I was home yesterday but didn't have time to upload them - I slipped on the ice and fell flat on my back, the palm of my hand was swollen twice its normal size and holy crap is my back sore today. I'll get the pics compressed and uploaded tonight hopefully.