Monday, January 24, 2011

Goals for the Year

Around this time each year, we have to create goals for the year at work.  I really don’t like this process.  I understand that they are trying to make a quantitative way to evaluate the performance of all of the employees, but it’s hard to make goals when I don’t have control over what I work on.

At church this week I was thinking that even though I dislike goals at work, it would probably be beneficial to have personal goals so that I can manage my free time better.  Here are my goals that I have come up with.

  1. Read More
  2. Write More – I hated writing in school, but you can’t take over the world if you can’t convey your thoughts to others. I’ve also had to write quite a bit more for work for project proposals.
  3. Build a robot for the DPRG May competition
  4. Play the piano better
  5. Home Automation – be able to control several of the lights in my house
  6. Balance work time better.  I always end up having to make up at least 2 hours on the weekends.

I’ll have to come back and put in some deadlines.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Virtual PC vs. VirtualBox

If you want to run a Linux VM on Windows 7 64bit, don’t even bother trying to get it to work under Microsoft Virtual PC.  Not only is not supported, it just doesn’t work.  I spent several hours trying to tweak parameters to no avail.  It looks like it is trying to do the virtualization at a lower level which would give better performance with the trade off being compatibility issues.  It does work great for running Windows VM’s, though.  I’ve used the Windows XP VM, and it works fine.

In order to get my Linux VM running, I ended up using VirtualBox for the virtualization software.  It was shocking how easy it was to get Ubuntu installed and running.  The wizard’s in VirtualBox step you through mounting the ISO and booting up the VM.  Eventually I want to get a website using Mono up and running to play with.  For now, I’ll just use it for some cross-platform browser testing for my client’s websites.

Conclusion:

If you want to run a Linux VM, try VirtualBox.  If you only want Windows VM’s then either Virtual PC or VirtualBox will work fine.  On the server side, I’m still biased towards Hyper-V.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

“The Colorado Kid” by Stephen King

Last night I finished reading “The Colorado Kid” by Stephen King.  This was the first Stephen King book I’ve read.  My wife and I really like the show “Haven” on the Syfy channel which is supposed to be based on this book.

I was hoping that it would give more background information or clues into the show’s mysteries, but it didn’t.  The book and show are set in a similar north eastern town, but the two main characters in the book are only side characters on the show.  About the only things in common are the setting and mysterious atmosphere.

I would read another Stephen King book in the future, though.  I know there are plenty to choose from…

Friday, January 7, 2011

Recommended Local Businesses

As a former small business owner, I like helping other small businesses.  Here are some small businesses in the Plano, Murphy, & Wylie area that I recommend:

Food

Napolis Restaurant
701 N. Hwy 78
Wylie, TX
972-442-4653
http://napolistx.com/Wylie.htm 

Mogio's Gourmet Pizza‎
158 West FM 544
Murphy, TX 75094
(972) 423-8100
http://mogiospizza.com

Car

Highway 78 Auto
3302 N Highway 78
Wylie, TX 75098
(972) 442-2269
hwy78auto.com

Dentist

Westgate Dental
520 W. Brown Street Suite A
Wylie, TX 75098
(972) 429-4311 ‎
http://www.mywyliedentist.com/

Haircut

Billy Luke
7602 W. Campbell Road
Suite #1
Dallas, TX 75248
214-532-4983
http://www.salonsbyjc.com/operators/index2.asp?r_id=53

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Audio Stuttering in Windows 2008 R2

I’ve been running Windows Server 2008 R2 64bit for my desktop OS at work for a while now.  When playing background music with Windows Media Player, I’ve always had music skipping/stuttering issues.  You can especially notice it when moving windows around or running a high CPU task (like Flash animations).

I think I’ve finally figured out how to fix it.  It looks like in Windows 2008, the audio processes are by default given a CPU priority below low.  Because of that any other program will preempt Windows Media Player which would cause the stuttering.  It turns out that there is a registry key that controls this:

Key: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\multimedia\SystemProfile
Value: SystemResponsiveness
Type: REG_DWORD

In Windows 2008 R2, the default value is 100 (decimal).  In Windows Vista this value is 20 (decimal).  The MSDN article describing this registry key says that this value controls “the percentage of CPU resources that should be guaranteed to low-priority tasks. For example, if this value is 20, then 20% of CPU resources are reserved for low-priority tasks.”  It sounds like the remaining percentage is divided up between the open multimedia applications.  I’m going to set this key to 50 (decimal) on my computer and see if that makes a difference.  Rebooting as soon as I can close all of my windows… It looks like that worked.

Other posts about this:

Monday, January 3, 2011

Quandrantid Meteor Shower

It looks like the Quandrantid meteor shower will peak tonight around 7pm CST.  The radiant will be in the north west between the big dipper and the little dipper.  It doesn’t sound like Texas will be able to see many of them, but the viewing time is so early in the evening that it might not hurt to look anyways.

More info:

Elusive Meteor Shower and Solar Eclipse to Ring in 2011
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/01/quadrantid-meteors/

Promising Quadrantid Meteor Shower to Peak Next Week
http://www.space.com/spacewatch/quarantid-meteor-shower-peaks-next-week-101231.html

Europe and Asia will also get to see a partial solar eclipse to go along with the meteor shower, but it won’t be visible in the US.

Update:  We weren’t able to see any meteors.  There was a big, thick cloud right over the northwest horizon where they should have been.  Orion looked very nice, though.