Quicken data corruption and 2011 end-of-life

March 7th, 2014

Quicken 2011 has an ongoing problem with randomly losing data from stock quotes. The symptom is that one or more of your securities suddenly has zero value. All of the price history is gone and Quicken won't download any new quotes for it and it won't let you manually update any of the price history.

It's been written about many times on the Intuit message boards, and has been since 2011. Intuit's solution to this, like most issues, is to tell you to upgrade to a new version of Quicken. This bug fix, of course, isn't free. Often the new product is more bloated with useless features that Intuit is trying to sell you. And to really make you glad you upgraded it sometimes removes features that actually were useful. Those can sometimes be restored by moving up to the next higher type of Quicken, but it will cost you a little more.

Intuit to the rescrew

Partial solutions have been offered By Intuit, but they only restore a partial price history, and the history only goes back for a maximum of 5 year. One more minor detail: if the stock is no longer listed, for instance if the company was sold, you're SOL because there is no place to download the quotes.

I may have encountered this data loss a long time ago, but not noticed. If you're not actively tracking a stock, or don't currently own any shares, it's easy to miss that the share price has dropped to 0.

I'm sure this is a coincidence, but recently it happened to a stock that I was holding. And then it happened to another and I started having to try to find out what was going on. Why is it a coincidence?

End of life

On April 30, 2014, the version called Quicken 2011 will no longer be able to download quotes or access any online data. This gives me a bit of a dilemma because I have heard a lot of horror stories about the migration of 2011 data, shall we say, not going smoothly. I don't dare update until my taxes are done. But I digress. This migration failure is often blamed (as has happened in past versions) on the Quicken database being corrupted before the upgrade was done. Sorry, there's nothing that can be done to help you, better luck next time.

To keep using Quicken as anything more than a glorified spreadsheet you'll have to upgrade. If there's a problem with you're database, you'll likely lose data. Intuit will tell you that you are very important as a customer, however you have somehow managed to corrupt the data and it's your fault and you'll never see your data again, but really you are important!

The bottom line is that even if you don't think you have a data problem you'll probably want to go through the first few steps of the repair process to look for corrupted data. I have no idea if the fix that is described here will work on Q14. Quicken has changed its database format in the past, so there's no reason to think that they won't do it again.

The data loss problem is solvable, and it turns out that the loss isn't as bad as expected. It's just very time consuming and a PITA, so I don't want to do it to only then have the data become lost again. Buying the new version fixes (supposedly) that problem, but then there's the potential data loss from doing an upgrade, and I can't risk that until my taxes are done, etc. And once again, I digress.

The fix

Okay, this is why you're really here.

The bad news is that each security needs to be fixed individually. The good news is that the data still exists and it is current. By that I mean that even though the quotes appear to be gone and you can't update them, Quicken has still been doing updates behind the scenes. It just doesn't want you to know about it.

The main tool needed is called QPH File Processor, and it is from www.reltan.com/pages_main/qph_main.html. It has been recommended on Intuit's community self-service support for many years. It seems like it has recovered a lot of data for a lot of people. Get it, and follow the website's installation instructions. Another program needed (at least for Windows users) is "7-Zip". It seems to be one of the few archive programs that can decompress Quicken's backup file.

This post is already too long, so I'm not going to cover every detail of every step. There are loads of places that will tell you how to do common things like backup up your file. So get started:

  • Do a data backup from Quicken to create a .QDF file. Know where you're backing it up to because this is the file you'll start the repair with.
  • Using 7-Zip, do 7-Zip→Open archive→* to get access to the QPH data in the .QDF (or .QDF-backup) file.
  • Right-click on the .QPH file, then use Copy To…, and save it in the same location as the .QDF file.
  • Open the .QPH file with the QPH File Processor program
  • Under Data extraction options select All price and volume data. Keep the Include Quicken-compatible CSV… checked.
  • Under Output options deselect Omit any securities containing "\"
  • Click Process source file to create the -AllData.csv and -AllData.txt files.
  • The -AllData.csv file has the data that will be imported to Quicken, but it needs to be done one security at a time. Open the file in any text editor, such as Notepad or EditPad. Bad securities will have a price of 0 and a date of "0/255/55". The txt file will show a date of "255-Jan-2155"
  • Search for "0/255/55" to find the securities with (probably) bad data. Select all of the data associated with the ticker you want to restore. Copy and paste it in a new file.
  • In the new file, delete the first line because it has the damaged date. Save the file as a .csv file. I used the ticker name, for example msft.csv, to make it easy to find.
  • If you only have one bad security you can close the text editor at this point. If there are more to do, keep it open so you can repeat the csv exporting process.
  • In the Quicken menu, go to Tools→Security List (CTRL-Y), then find the damaged security and click on it.
  • In the new window's menu click on "Edit Security Details". Change the ticker to a symbol that is not used. (I add xxx to the end so it will be easy later to revert to the original symbol.) Don't forget the original symbol because you'll be using it again. Click OK. In the popup window, select only the option to delete quotes. This does not affect the transactions, only the historical prices.
  • Click OK, wait for it to finish. Restore the original ticker by repeating the previous step but using the security's its original symbol.
  • At this point you can optionally select Update→Download Historical Prices. If you do, choose only this one stock to update. The display should update with stock's history for 5 years. This verifies that the symbol was restored and that Quicken can once again download its prices.
  • Go to main Quicen menu "File→File Import→Import security prices from CSV file…". Browse to the CSV file you created and click OK. (You're probably doing this because you have a long, detailed price history, so don't be surprised if it looks like Quicken has stopped responding.) Eventually there will be a message saying that the prices were imported. The full price history should now exist. Remember that there is no volume information available to import, so you'll only have that for the last 5 years from using Quicken's download price history.

Congratulations, you've worked around another bug that Intuit could have easily fixed, or provided a tool to fix, years ago.

Maps showing dialect differences in the U.S.

June 13th, 2013

A bubbler?

What do you call the thing from which you might drink water in a school?

  • a. bubbler (3.84%)
  • b. water bubbler (0.30%)
  • c. drinking fountain (33.16%)
  • d. water fountain (60.97%)
  • e. other (1.74%)

This map will let you see how over 10,000 people responded:
http://www4.uwm.edu/FLL/linguistics/dialect/staticmaps/q_103.html

There are 121 other questions in the survey. If you're in a fairly large city you can see how it responded, too. It's all at Dialect Survey Results.

30 years of Earth’s changing surface

May 14th, 2013

Movie of Las Vegas urban growth, 1986-2012

Google and Time magazine recently teamed up to create time-lapse videos from the images taken by the Landsat program over the last nearly 30 years at Time's website on their Timelapse page.

The Landsat program, an effort by the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA, captured high resolution pictures of the Earth's surface starting in 1984.

Local music event list

May 14th, 2013

I finished this year's local music events list and there are a lot of shows. There are already over 60 events, and The Oaks, Janss Marketplace and the Simi Town Center haven't announced anything yet. I'll update the list when they do.

/events/UpcomingEvents

The list is primarily free music events in the Conejo area, but there also a couple of major shows that charge admission. None of the Civic Arts Plaza events are included unless they're free. I also don't cover clubs (unless it's a band that I really like a lot.)

What makes this list different? You'll see the events ordered by date with the closest ones at the top. Events that have already happened aren't visible so it's easy to see what's happening in the near future.

Birds of Paradise Project

April 9th, 2013

Birds of Paradise Project

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Geographic are bringing the Birds-of-Paradise Project to the public. Witness diverse strategies of evolution at work and experience one of nature's extraordinary wonders - up close. See a five minute movie at http://youtu.be/REP4S0uqEOc

IWDRM living movie stills gallery

March 23rd, 2013

Ripley in the movie Alien

If We Don't, Remember Me. is a "gallery of living movie stills". It's a collection of animated gif images and each picture loops on a small part of a movie scene. It has some entertaining images, so plan on wasting some time there.

Fact checking websites

September 28th, 2012

PC Magazine's article Election 2012: Fact-Checking the Candidates provided a great list of places to check the veracity of what we're being fed. Most of the article is consolidated here on one page rather than being spread over 6 pages in its original form.

  • Run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center and staffed by journalists and academics, FactCheck.org calls itself a "consumer advocate" for voters. Readers can not only check up on the ads, speeches, and other comments of the candidates and their campaigns, but also post a question to Ask FactCheck, become Spin Detectors by sending in campaign materials they believe might contain false claims, find out who's funding the campaigns in the 2012 Players Guide, and make sure chain emails they receive from friends and relatives aren't part of the Viral Spiral.
  • PolitiFact.com, a Pulitzer Prize-winning offshoot of the Tampa Bay Times, susses out the truth in national and state elections and monitors how already-elected officials are living up to campaign promises, with an Obameter and GOP Pledge-O-Meter built into the site. PolitiFact's most famous meter is the Truth-O-Meter, which has settings that go from "Truth" to "Pants on Fire." Lest flip-floppers think they can walk away, candidates are tracked for when they "Half Flip" and "Full Flop" on earlier sentiments and positions. The Truth-O-Meter is available to-go as an app.
  • Super PACs (political action committees) number in the hundreds and go by generic or just flat-out odd names, making it hard to distinguish them, not to mention determine where they stand. The Super PAC App works like Shazam for super PACs; download the TuneSat-powered audio-recognition iOS app, open it during an ad, and get the name of the super PAC, how much funding it has, how much it's spent, and the facts behind the ad. Super PAC App got its start in the MIT Media Lab and is now housed under Glassy Media, a company founded by former management consultant Dan Siegel and journalist Jennifer Hollett.
  • Nobody owns the truth, especially when everybody owns it. TruthMarket aims to crowdsource what's factual and what's fictional. The site's users put their money where others' mouths are; when a user hears a questionable statement, he or she can start a campaign and stake money on disproving it. The TruthMarket's "jury of neutral, professional, scientifically trained adjudicators" then weighs in and the bounty gets divvied up depending on where the truth lies.
  • The Washington Post has a somewhat whimsical take on political truth-telling. Its blog, The Fact Checker, run by in-house fact-checker Glenn Kessler, doles out a check mark for factual accuracy or up to four Pinocchios for fallacy from candidates and Congress. Readers can submit statements for scrutiny by email, a form, or via Twitter using #FactCheckThis.

Leon Russell on SNL

April 4th, 2011

I got curious about Leon Russell's appearance with Elton John on the 4/2/11 episode of Saturday Night Live. Something seemed wrong. You could barely hear Leon, and it didn't look like he was fully there. And why was he on SNL with Elton in the first place?

It turns out that there is a reason for both his appearance and his appearance. Leon has been sick, and Elton had earlier decided to bring him back from his recent obscurity by doing a joint album and tour. Well, sick is a bit of an understatement: he had brain surgery last year.

For a refresher, I decided to look back at some of Leon's history. I knew he did a lot of session work, but no idea how much. There's more than enough to inspire awe on the Wikipedia article about him. There is also this info from AllMusic.com for a little of the variety of what he did:

As a member of Spector's renowned studio group, Russell played on many of the finest pop singles of the 1960s, also arranging classics like Ike & Tina Turner's monumental "River Deep, Mountain High"; other hits bearing his input include the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man," Gary Lewis & the Playboys' "This Diamond Ring," and Herb Alpert's "A Taste of Honey."

And finally, don't forget about Russell's "This Masquerade", which earned a Grammy Award for singer George Benson.

Goodbye Blogger…

March 4th, 2010

…and hello WordPress.

Blogger is about to quit supporting ftp and wants to have all blog sites hosted at Blogger. That doesn't work for me. So I started working on the conversion to WordPress about one month ago. None of the processes or tips I found online worked for me — it seems that my setup was different from what everybody has.

I had to write a conversion program to get the posts to look like they should because WP wanted to insert all sorts of extra line feeds. Then I found out just how complicated WP is. I sure learned a lot, and finally today took the plunge and redirected the old blog links to these new ones.

Now it's done unless I find some other gotchas that I haven't noticed. And all of this in spite of the news that blogging is dead.

83 Optical Illusions

June 16th, 2009

83 Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena can be a somewhat technical website. It explains why your eye does the things it does following many of the images. A lot of its illusions are interactive, allowing you to remove the part that makes it an illusion and see that, for example, the lines really are straight. In some of the more difficult to see images, it talks you through how to see it and tells you what to look for.

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Beverage Comparison Tools

May 27th, 2009

I created some Beverage Comparison Tools make it easy to figure out if you should buy a 12-pack or a two liter bottle. It also computes the comparative price of a bunch of other container sizes and quantities.

Beverage Comparison Tools

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Beer Launcher

May 7th, 2009

John Cornwell made it onto Letterman by making a refrigerator that will get you a beer. Two links to the Letterman appearance on YouTube (always make a backup, right?):

If you don't have 2 1/2 minutes to watch the video you can read a little more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_Launching_Fridge.

Conwell's home page, http://www.duke.edu/~jwc13/beerlauncher.html, was last updated just before he went on the show. I guess he either graduated or no longer has time for a website because he's so busy making Beer Launchers.

Beer Launcher

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Killer Sudoku Puzzle Helper

March 26th, 2009

I added YourFriendPaul's Killer Sudoku Puzzle Helper to my site. It has a printable Killer Sudoku cheat sheet and a calculator that shows the possible solutions to any "cage". It's all done in JavaScript.

When Does Spring Start?

March 21st, 2009

I was expecting the first day of Spring to be today, March 21, but it turns out it was yesterday. That got me wondering, what is the definition of the first day of Spring. This year, according to National Geographic, in the Northern Hemisphere spring officially begins at 7:44 a.m. ET on Friday, March 20, 2009—the vernal equinox, or spring equinox.

So many interesting tidbits!

The word equinox derives from the Latin words aequus (equal) and nox (night); in reality, the day is longer than the night at an equinox. Commonly, the day is defined as the period when sunlight reaches the ground in the absence of local obstacles. From the Earth, the Sun appears as a disc rather than a single point of light, so when the centre of the Sun is below the horizon, its upper edge is visible. ... The date at which the time between sunset and sunrise crosses 12 hours, is known as the equilux. Because sunset and sunrise times vary with an observer's geographic location (longitude and latitude), the equilux likewise depends on location and does not exist for locations sufficiently close to the equator.

But when is it?

Currently, the most common equinox and solstice dates are March 20, June 21, September 22 and December 21; the four-year average will slowly shift to earlier times in coming years. This shift is a full day in about 70 years (compensated mainly by the century "leap year" rules of the Gregorian calendar). This also means that in many years of the twentieth century, the dates of March 21, June 22, September 23 and December 22 were much more common, so older books teach (and older people may still remember) these dates.

And finally:

It is perhaps valuable for people in the Americas and Asia to know that the equinoxes listed as occurring on March 21, which occurred frequently in the 20th century and which will occur occasionally in the 21st century, are presented as such using UTC, which is at least four hours in advance of any clock in the Americas and as much as twelve hours behind Asian clocks. Thus, there will be no spring equinox later than March 20 in the Americas in the coming century.

Read lots more, complete with illustrations, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernal_Equinox

When Does Spring Start?

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doPDF free PDF Converter

March 12th, 2009

Free PDF Creator, doPDF

There are a lot of PDF converters out there, but most have nag screens, add information to the conversation, of just plain don't do a good job. I finally settled on doPDF because it fixes all of that stuff. It just works as expected. The description from their website:

doPDF is a free PDF converter for both personal and commercial use. Using doPDF you can create PDF files by selecting the "Print" command from virtually any application.

doPDF

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Mmm. . . Bacon!

February 22nd, 2009

Being the bacon lover I am, I have always wondered about how much bacon goes into an ounce of bacon bits but wasn't willing to buy an accurate scale to find out. The geeks at cockeyed.com did the experiment themselves.

  Price Package Size Cooked yield Price per cooked oz. Price per slice
Bacon Bits $1.89 3 oz. 3 oz. $0.63 31?
Raw Bacon $5.99 16 oz. 4.75 oz $1.30 63?

As you can see from this chart, the Oscar Mayer package of bacon bits are a good price for their weight. Bacon is priced like diamonds: The smaller the pieces, the cheaper they are per ounce.

It's good to finally know the conversion factor of 16 oz. of raw bacon cooks down to 4.75 oz. My pricing is very different because I tend to buy in bulk and when things are on sale, but the bit price per ounce still wins, just not by as much: $0.39 vs. $0.53.

Mmm… Bacon!

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Pac-Txt

September 24th, 2008

From a geek entertainment standpoint, this has to be the stupidest thing ever.

"Mixing the classic VIC-20 text-adventure games' style with the enthralling plot of Pac-Man for the ultimate in retro gaming action, we present Pac-txt."

Play Pac-Txt. You'll be bored in about 1 minute.

Pac-Txt

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Colored Tile Illusion

February 9th, 2008

Tiled Block

No wonder it's so hard to make paintings. The brown tile in the center of the top face and the yellow tile in the center of the side facing left are the same color.

This is one of many illusions from Beau Lotto's LottoLab Illusion pages. They say that their "AIM is to explain and explore HOW and WHY we see what we do."

Colored Tile Illusion

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Incendio

August 22nd, 2007

The "Latin Guitar World Fusion" band Incendio played last weekend in a great free outdoor concert at Gardens of the World. There wasn't much information available, and the local ads listed the band's style as "latin fusion", which didn't really motivate me to go. But the day of the show I was listening to Al Di Miola, and realized that the his music could be described that way, so let's give it a try.

The music was a nice blend of a bunch of styles, with no one of them overpowering the others. The sound was great (and even mixed well) and they're playing was excellent. Give them a try if you get the chance. I'll be picking up a CD soon.

For more, check out Incendio's website and MySpace page. Both have music streams.

Incendio

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China Bans Reincarnation in Tibet

August 8th, 2007

The entire story is quoted below because it's short and news links tend to go away after a couple of weeks. Google the headline to get source links — lots of them will show up (over 1000 as of this writing).

Published: Aug. 3, 2007 at 7:26 PM

BEIJING, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- China's communist leaders have forbidden reincarnation without government permission in largely Buddhist Tibet.

The reincarnation ban is part of a 14-part regulation issued by the Chinese government in an attempt to limit the influence of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan religious leader, the Times of London reported Friday.

The People's Republic of China invaded Tibet in 1950 and has attempted to consolidate its control of it since, designating it an autonomous region.

Since the 12th century, Tibetan Buddhists have believed that reincarnated important religious leaders, known as tulkus, can be identified in young boys.

Because tulkus have a large influence in the Himalayan region, the Chinese government has frequently sought to control the process of identifying the boys.

The new regulations, which go into effect September 1, 2007, will make it illegal to identify the child reincarnation of the Dalai Lama without the approval of Chinese authorities.

China bans reincarnation

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Alchohol Sites

July 30th, 2007

Yeah, I know it's not spelled right. I was searching for a nice quote to open this up, but spelled it like that. There are quite a few "drug treatment and alchohol abuse" websites. You would think they would bother to spell it right if it's their business. I'm easily sidetracked; sometimes it's best to just get it out of the way first. We'll have to settle for this old quote from Homer Simpson: "I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer."

I received a slightly used Wacky Web Sites calendar for my birthday, and that's what got me started on the quote search. Here are a couple of quote-related sites from it.

First Drink of the Day is an animated manic-monkey-musical about the hair of the dog. Their main page is rather good.

Once again we learn that websites keep moving. The calendar offers up a page that no longer exists, but at least they left a forwarding address. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a typically useless government page called Drug Calculator that will actually do multiplication and addition for you! Once you confess your sins to it, it lets you know how much you spent and what you could have bought instead. It let you know that for the $7,200 that you could spend on beer every month (100 drinks per "setting", 9 times per week) you could instead have had both a wildlife safari in Africa and a trip from NYC to London on the Concord.

Oops, there are no more Concord flights. And there was no place on the form to include champagne brunch.

alchohol

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Bits of Skits

July 19th, 2007

There are no instructions. Anywhere. Just click on one of the pictures to get a short Monty Python video at the Wall of Python.

The site has more stuff hidden away on their main page, also without instructions, including a few categorized walls of pictures and Photo Soup, where you can stir the soup by adding words.

Bits of Skits

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California Traffic Law Email

July 14th, 2007

Lots of people have received the bogus email about new traffic laws going into effect in California. The biggest concern seems to be the requirement to use a hands-free phone while driving. The law did go into effect July 1, 2007, but won't be enforced until July 1, 2008.

Urban Legends details some of what's right and what's wrong with the email. The fine for not using hands-free, when it goes into effect, is only $20. According to an article in a local paper, "The CHP said it plans to launch an educational campaign as the true deadline approaches."

Meet the New Word…

July 11th, 2007

...Same as the Old Word. Sudoku, DVR, smackdown and ginormous. These are some of the recent additions to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, according to a Fox News story. The story also says that ginormous can be traced back to 1948. DVR and smackdown have certainly been in common usage for quite a while.

Merriam-Webster's website offers a sampling of the new words that are available in the 2007 Collegiate Dictionary, adding hardscape and perfect storm to article's list.

New dictionary words

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Fourth Pictures

July 3rd, 2007

4th postcard

Time to send out those 4th invitations? Well, maybe a little too late, but there's a great collection of old postcards that could liven up what you're going to send. It's really a history site but I prefer the postcard page.

Tom Kelley Studio

July 3rd, 2007

Tom Kelley Studios

I met Tom Kelley through my girlfriend. You probably don't know, but she knows, that I'm not often impressed by photographers' materials. Because of that, she was very surprised when I said "Wow" about Tom's site.

Tom is a highly-acclaimed advertising photographer whose work has appeared in numerous books, magazines and exhibitions and, of course, advertising media. His images are available as Limited edition fine art photographs at a number of galleries.

My credentials, to help you decide if my opinion makes any difference: I've been taking pictures for 25 years and have a photo degree. I've been doing artwork since I was 10 (probably younger, but does it really count then?) and I was even displayed in the Santa Barbara Museum of Art for a couple of days (kid work, I'm not good enough to be on display there as a pro).

Check out Tom's work. He's probably pricey, but as you can see, you get what you pay for. I know where I'm going when I need to get my picture taken.

Tom Kelley Photography

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Sick Metal

July 1st, 2007

A Swedish heavy metal fan has had his musical preferences officially classified as a disability. The results of a psychological analysis enable the metal lover to supplement his income with state benefits.

Music Money

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Win XP: Places Bar

June 28th, 2007

I customized it once, then couldn't remember the name of it to figure out how to do it again. It took an hour to figure the name out. What is the Places Bar, you ask?

When you save or open a file in an application that uses Windows XP's common dialog box, chances are that you use the Places bar on the left side of the dialog box to speed up your navigation. It shows up to five places, such as "My Documents" or "My Computer", that you can to quickly go by clicking on them.

As explained in this mvps.org article, you can customize the Places bar three ways: by editing the local group policy with the Group Policy Editor, by editing the registry entry "HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ comdlg32 \ Placesbar", or by using TweakUI. The easiest and best way is to use the MS Powertoys program TweakUI. Go to its Common Dialogs, select custom places bar and change at will.

TweakUI is a must-have with so many features that I sometimes forget they exist, as in this case. If you don't have it, go to Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP and get it. The "ClearType Tuner" available on the same page is also a nice addition, especially on LCD displays.

Internet Radio Day Of Silence

June 27th, 2007

Internet Radio Stations around the country are protesting a proposed increases of over 300% to royalty rates on streaming audio broadcasts by partaking in the Internet Radio Day of Silence. Read about it more in either the LATimes article or Washington Post. (LA times articles are available at no cost for only one week.)

There is a lot more information at SaveNetRadio.org. The short story is that many of them say that the fees are higher than their revenue and they will have to shut down; they want the same fees as satellite radio.

Lake-ity Split

June 27th, 2007

A five-acre glacial lake disappeared between March and May. It is now a 100 foot deep crater in Chile's southern Andes. There have been no earthquakes in the area that could have caused cracks in lake bottom.

Missing Lake

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Update 7/28/07

The CNN link went away, so try these. (Reminder: AP news stories are no longer available 15 days after posting.)

www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19353905/
www.abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=3300709

and a slightly different one:
www.patagoniatimes.cl/content/view/117/24/

Art and Music Tidbits

June 23rd, 2007

I've got nothing, so here's some stuff that's isn't deserving of its own post.

Trivia: Named after the British "Unemployment Benefits, Form 40", pop-reggae band UB40 was formed in a welfare line in 1978.

Brian Eno has an new "DVD/Art Software Package" named "77 Million Paintings". It consists of an interview DVD, a 52 page illustrated book, and a software disk, which is really what the package is about. The software creates a constantly evolving painting on your screen, and creates music to go along with it.

Gizmodo loves Frankie Flood's pizza cutters. Me too. Their article doesn't have, but here is, the link to his exhibit at the University of Illinois School of Art and Design's MFA Thesis Exhbition 2004

Brian Eno and David Byrne are offering for download all the multitracks from two of the songs on their album "Bush of Ghosts". The 24-track session of the songs, "A Secret Life" and "Help Me Somebody", are available in MP3 and wav formats, with all tracks available individually or with all tracks from the song in a single zip file. You are free to edit, remix, sample and mutilate these tracks however you like.

Art and Music Tidbits

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xFolk Tagging App

June 22nd, 2007

SEO | XFN | SOIC | xFolk | RSS | RDF | XML | PHP | XSL | xPath | XMLT | OWL | WDSL | UDDI.
Social Engines | Joomla | semantic mark up | Web 2.0 | keyword density | Atom feed | folksonomy | Tag Cloud | Feedburner | Technorati | Pingerati | digg | de.licio.us.

And many more.

So many TLAs and ETLAs*. So many people and websites creating and propagating terminology. Far too many acronyms and concepts for me to bother worrying about knowing them all, especially since this is just one little corner of the knowledge.

I'm getting to know more of it than I planned on by helping out on a project. If you know what half of the above jargon is about, you might be interested in my xFolk Cloud and Tag Generator. The page it's on might move later, so get there by the Tech Projects page.

* TLA — Three Letter Acronym
ETLA — Extended Three Letter Acronym

Top Disposable Email Sites

June 21st, 2007

I mentioned disposable email a long time ago. I don't use the service I wrote about then very often any more; it wasn't working for a while, so I found a different one: SpamGourmet.

Sizlopedia's list of the Top 20 Temporary and Disposable Email Services doesn't include SpamGourmet. Disposable addresses really are useful to keep the spam away, and you should have one for when you need to provide an email to sign up for something, but want to avoid another mailing list.

Disposable Email

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Ladle Rat Rotten Hut

June 20th, 2007

Here's the way the story starts:

WANTS PAWN TERM DARE WORSTED LADLE GULL HOE LIFT wetter murder inner ladle cordage honor itch offer lodge, dock, florist. Disk ladle gull orphan worry Putty ladle rat cluck wetter ladle rat hut, an fur disk raisin pimple colder Ladle Rat Rotten Hut.

Wan moaning Ladle Rat Rotten Hut's murder colder inset.

"Ladle Rat Rotten Hut, heresy ladle basking winsome burden barter an shirker cockles. Tick disk ladle basking tutor cordage offer groin-murder hoe lifts honor udder site offer florist. Shaker lake! Dun stopper laundry wrote! Dun stopper peck floors! Dun daily-doily inner florist, an yonder nor sorghum-stenches, dun stopper torque wet strainersi"

There are a lot more stories written by Howard L. Chace at Kevin Rice's ANGUISH LANGUISH PAGE. If you're confused by what what's quoted above, start with THE ANGUISH LANGUISH.

I discovered Chace because of an design book that used the text from Ladle Rat Rotten Hut in its examples. It took a while to find out who actually wrote it. Rice's site is the only place I found any more writings than LRRH.

Ladle Rat Rotten Hut

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Calling All Leopards

June 18th, 2007

Forest guards in western India are using cell phones with ringtones of cows mooing, goats bleating and roosters crowing to lure curious leopards that are looking for an easy meal into a cage. I'm sure the live goats they used to use as bait heartily approve.

Calling All Leopards

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Horrible New Addiction

June 17th, 2007

I just discovered Pentago at ThinkGeek. Not wanting to just buy it without at least trying it, I looked around for one to play online. I haven't found an English version, but this Swedish version, which lets you play against a computer, will do just fine.

The rules are simple: Place a ball on the board, rotate one of the four nine-hole squares. The first one to get five in a row wins.

Pentago

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An Old Perspective

June 14th, 2007

I've been drawing for years and have a pretty good understanding of perspective. I had a hard time finding the answer questions like: when is it really a cube instead of having one side longer than the other. Sure, I could eyeball it fairly well and that's usually good enough. But sometimes I really wanted it to look right.

The answer finally came in a Project Gutenberg eBook named "The Theory and Practice of Perspective", by George Adolphus Storey, which was originally written in 1910. It's free to download and seems to have the answer to all perspective questions. Get it at www.gutenberg.org/files/20165/20165-h/20165-h.htm.

An Old Perspective

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Old Browsers

June 13th, 2007

Most of you won't need access to an old, obsolete browser. Sometimes people still want them supported on their web sites. Doing that is a pain, and hardly worth the effort since so few people still use them. For quite a while, I didn't know where to find any of the older stuff.

Evolt.org has a browser page with more browsers than I've ever heard of. I must admit, I'm scared to install them because of incompatibilities, but if you need them they're still available.

Old Browsers

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Favorite Intermissions

June 1st, 2007

Christopher DeLaurenti has been recording the intermissions at orchestral concerts for seven years. He now has a CD, titled "Favorite Intermissions: Music Before and Between Beethoven, Stravinsky, Holst".

There's an article at the NY Times. More on the CD can be found at GD Stereo, including where to buy it.

What Time Is It?

May 19th, 2007

You may not have noticed but, on and off, a lot of computers have not been getting the time from the internet ever since the change in Daylight Savings Time. There's a lot of speculation that something in Microsoft's patch did it. See FYI To Microsoft: Windows Time Synchronization Completely Broken (Vista, 2003, XP are all broken) if you want one of the discussions.

I had been having the problem and only noticed it because I occasionally look at the Event Log to see if any errors have happened. I kept trying to reconfigure my firewall, thinking that was the issue. But, at least for me, changing the time server to ntp-uw.usno.navy.mil fixed it. Both time.windows.com and time.nist.gov no longer worked after the DST change. Here is a list of some available servers:

  • ntp-uw.usno.navy.mil
  • north-america.pool.ntp.org
  • nist1.aol-va.truetime.com ... DC/Virginia
  • utcnist.colorado.edu ........ Colorado
  • nist1.aol-ca.truetime.com ... California
  • nist1.columbiacountyga.gov .. Georgia
  • nist1.symmetricom.com ....... California
  • nist1-ny.WiTime.net ......... NYC
  • nist1-sj.WiTime.net ......... California
  • nist.expertsmi.com .......... Michigan
  • nist1-dc.WiTime.net ......... DC/Virginia

Just do a copy and paste of the server you want to use into your time server selection. You can get there by double-clicking on the time display in Window's taskbar Notification Area (probably the bottom right corner of your screen). MSFT has more info if you need it.

Microsoft has a brief article about time servers that includes a list of some that are available at article kb262680.

News That Didn't Make The News

May 17th, 2007

Since 1993 Project Censored has published an annual trade paperback review of the "Top 25 Censored Stories of the Year." Their website has the top 25 for this year on their home page, and a few of the previous year in their archive.

According to Walter Cronkite, who wrote the introduction to the 1996 version of the book, "Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism."

Ephemeral Entries

May 15th, 2007

It seemed like a good idea: grab one of the old items I keep on hand for later blog fodder. It should only take a couple of minutes to add some text and post it. Instead I got a reminder of just how transitory the web really is.

Often I'll make a snip of part of an article, including key links, and save it for later when I can write something around it. The snip has just enough to show what the original article was about. It's saved, instead of only saving a link to the article, to cover those cases where the original article goes away so I might be able to find it or something like it. I can write and post the subject at my leisure without being concerned with losing the information.

The snippet in question had two links. One of them was incomplete. That was my fault for being lazy and not looking at the link when I saved it, because it was only a relative link (no www.wherever.com portion). Easy enough: Google the subject and find the new link. It almost worked because the website was still there but the page names had changed. Still, that fixed it. Upon finding and re-reading it, it was just a reference to a Rolling Stone article.

The RS article was gone, too. I knew the subject, and Googled again to find the new location for the 100 "greatest" guitarists of all time

That link was only intended as a backup from the original story, which I finally found: 50 "Worst" Guitar Solos Of All Time. What I was interested in was the article it talks about; really it was just another snip. Unfortunately, the story is all that remains because the article it talks about, originally at http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/top/solos/, has been deleted. (Remember, that's why I saved the snippet in the first place — so I could find it again.)

Task finally completed thanks to Google and the Wayback Machine, because I finally found the Worst Solo article there.

USPS Rate Increase

May 14th, 2007

USPS Rates

Rates for "First Class" postage went up again today. Didn't this just happen? I looked back a little and found that postal rates for a one ounce letter have been fairly consistent since 1970, going up about one cent per year.

What Hands Can Do

May 10th, 2007

Was there some computer help in putting this video together? There's lots of discussion about it, but it's a good one-minute watch either way. It's work-friendly, in spite of what the title might suggest to some of you, and you know who you are.

There are two links because commercial videos seem to go away after a while, probably due to copyright issues.

Piping Hot!

May 4th, 2007

vPipes. The "Last Generation Electronic Bagpipe". There's even a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcR9Kp6UEvQ

Need I say more?

Connect the Dots

May 4th, 2007

An addictive game with no instructions. How good is that? Even the music isn't obnoxious. I only wasted about 45 minutes, but I'll be back.

Play Boomshine

Aha! A separate Title

May 2nd, 2007

There was a big overhaul on the blog today. Most of it you won't see, but support was added for RSS feeds, some display issues that changed with Firefox 2.x were fixed. The RSS feed made me change the way I do the post titles, in an attempt to get the feeds to look better. We'll see.

Wag the Tail

May 1st, 2007

When dogs feel fundamentally positive about something or someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rumps. When they have negative feelings, their tail wagging is biased to the left.

A study describing the phenomenon, "Asymmetric tail-wagging responses by dogs to different emotive stimuli," appeared in the March 20 issue of Current Biology. But a N.Y. Times article gives a summary probably isn't quite as technical.

Composing Software from Pete Townshend

April 26th, 2007

Pete Townshend (of The Who) announced an Internet-based software program that will help compose personalized music at the click of a button. Users will be able to compose instrumental tracks that they can email or post on their Web sites.

There will be free access to the Web site, http://www.lifehouse-method.com (it's not alive yet), for three months starting May 1. After that it will become a subscription-based service.

The Effective Emailer

April 22nd, 2007

I recently received a "how-to" email from a friend about how to email. It gave good advise about how not to make the mistakes that lots of people make, for instance replying "okay" without including what they are replying to. I like good advise, but ignore the parts I consider bad advise.

"The Effective Emailer" also gives mostly good advise. A bit of it is business oriented ("to help you become a more effective emailer"), but that doesn't mean it doesn't also apply to personal emails.

Ignore the parts that don't work for you. Rules are made to be broken, but first you have to know the rules.