Getting older again

Aging is, apparently, a big deal.  Not that it isn’t. It was my birthday this week, which got me thinking about aging, and the stereotype that it stinks.

Perhaps I’m still too young to appreciate aging.  I’m working through a Couch to 5K, my only child is two, I haven’t hit thirty yet, and I still get excited for my birthday because it means I get gifts.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so excited about gifts, but why not?

Is there something extremely magical about your birthday?  I mean, it’s a great day to celebrate being alive, but without the gifts and the cake and the smiles and the fun, what’s the point?  That’s just another day.  News Flash: I am older today than I was yesterday, and so are you.  The world has not ended in that time.  Though it might tomorrow; you never know.

People who hate birthdays often complain about getting older, and how much of a drag that is.  There’s odd pains, and gray hairs, and you can’t move as fast as you used to.  That’s forgetting the fact that age has allowed numerous experiences, some of which I’m sure that person quite enjoyed.  Or the fact that, at the end of the day, they’re still alive.

So don’t be that guy.  Seriously, it’s not that big of a deal.  We’d all rather celebrate your life with you, give you a slap on the back, maybe a quick jab in the ribs about how old you are, and have a good time.

Now, where’s the cake?


A Strange Windows 7 Saga

A couple of weeks ago, a friend called and asked me to help him upgrade his install of Windows Vista to Windows 7.  He’d been having trouble with the PC for a while, really didn’t like Vista, and was looking forward to an upgrade.  I agreed, thinking an OS upgrade would be one of the easier things I could do for him upgrade wise.  Boy was I wrong.

After a couple of failed installs and a successful full wipe of the hard-drive via Ubuntu, I had Windows 7 at least installed.  Then, since I’d needed to do a clean install, my product key didn’t work.  After acquiring the collective wisdom of Twitter, and a subsequent reinstall, the product key was accepted and my friend had a Windows 7 laptop.

From the little I got to play around with it, it seems like a great improvement.  It was responsive, the new features seemed a good combination of useful and aesthetically pleasing, and overall, I was actually left thinking it was worth moving there from my trusty XP.  As a thank you for working on his PC, my friend gave me that opportunity by grabbing me my own copy.

And that’s where it dives downhill again, as my own install was filled with errors and (eventually) failure.  It seems that despite my computer meeting the minimum requirements and the compatibility manager saying that I looked good, install won’t complete.  Whether I try to run the install from inside XP or do a clean install from boot-up, I’m inevitably faced with one of two endings: a blue screen of death or a complete system lockup.

Lonely Windows 7

My poor copy of Windows 7 sits in my closet

So now my copy of Windows 7 sits in my closet, waiting for me to get out of more debt and get a new PC.  Here’s hoping I get there before Windows 8.

No love for another OS?

The words “open source” are a key part of a geek’s life.  The idea that software can be freely created and distributed to the masses is one that strangely is not only altruistic, it also works.   I use a variety of open source programs on my computer at home: I’m typing this post in Mozilla’s Firefox browser; I use Foxit Reader as a PDF viewer (because I can’t stand Adobe Acrobat); I watch videos on VLC Media Player; I use a keyboard-based program launcher called Launchy, and more.

At this point, you can probably imagine my excitement at the thought of an open source operation system.  I’ve been on XP for a while now, and it’s Old Faithful for me.  But I’m not going to be picking up a copy of Windows 7 anytime soon, and 8 years later, XP is feeling stale.  So when I first heard about Ubuntu last year, I had to give it a shot.

Ubuntu 10.04 Loading Screen

Courtesy of and Canonical Ltd.

At the time, I downloaded Ubuntu 9.04 and performed a Wubi install.  (Laymans terms, I could install the OS from inside Windows using an open part of my hard drive rather than going the more confusing process of partitioning and hard drive formatting.)  9.04 was fun.  It wasn’t the best looking thing ever until I did some research, added some themes and effects, and changed the background, but it was free.  The only issue I had with it were occasional lockups.  I could use it for a little while, but eventually if I left it sit long enough, the system would hard lock up: no mouse, no keyboard, just frozen screen.

Then 9.10 came out last October, and it looked to have some nice improvements.  I never got to use them.  After struggling with install problems from a fresh install.  I reinstalled 9.04 and tried to run the upgrade to 9.10.  I was able to complete the installation, but every time I booted the system, it was a hard lockup within seconds.  There was a possibility that I could navigate half a menu.  When I tried to wipe that entire thing and go back down to 9.04, I encountered the same problem.  Lockups continued to hinder me.  I hoped that 10.04 would save me

I also in the last year attempted to install a Release Candidate for Windows 7 as first a primary and later a second OS.  Again I was thwarted.  Every time I ran the install, partway through the install would freeze, and I would receive a dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death).  My limited research suggested it might be a RAM issue.

Which brings me to this week: Ubuntu 10.04.  It’s a Long Term Support version, which means if you don’t want to upgrade every 6 months, this is the version you’ll still get support in for a long time.  This had to be it, right?  It should be super stable, have the kinks worked out, etc.  I decided to do a Wubi install and give it a shot.  After a reboot, installation resumed, and eventually I found myself starting a screen with a frozen mouse and a progress bar stuck at 23%.  Attempt 2 later in the day: same result.

I could blame it on Ubuntu I suppose,  but at this point, I’m wondering if I have some hardware problems.  I could swap out some RAM and see if that fixes it, but RAM, just like Windows 7, costs money.  So, I guess I’ll keep hanging out with Old Faithful and hope the wind doesn’t blow the stink from the nearby hot springs my way anytime soon.

Movement and Change

So I’m working on some changes here at the blog.  A little while back, I decided to revamp the concept for my blog.  At the time I just wanted to be more clear on what I do here, which meant that I needed to decide what I was going to do here.  I decided that media is a major part  of my life, and sharing my experience with all the different media I stumble upon might be a good direction to go (and give me plenty of material).

The more I thought and developed that idea, the more I decided I should start a new blog for that purpose.  This blog has changed it’s concept so many times, I figured it was time to change it one last time.  So I am, to a more personal blog.  While I don’t tend to write too much in the personal arena right now, that’s my plan.  Which means if you’re a good friend of mine, you may see a burst of new content, or you may see a blog in dire need of cobweb removal.

I’m moving my media concept to a new blog called “Mike on Media” no less.  I’m in the process of getting it up and running and then forcing myself to consistently post.  If you want to check it out in it’s current state as I toy around with it and perhaps add some new content, you can find it here.

This is where you come in.  I stink at consistency, and I want your help.  One of my greatest aids I have in getting stuff done is accountability.  I want to start posting something to each of the blogs I work with at least once a week.   So feel free to hold me accountable.  If you don’t see content, go to the comments, drop me an email, call me if you’re a good enough friend to have me number.  Any way goes, as I try to push myself to become a better blogger, feel free to push me to be a guy who means what he says.

In the words of John Hodgman, “That is all.”

Social Networks

A weird thought struck me today:  lately when it comes to my entertainment choices of video games and TV, watching TV tends to be the more social of the two.  I have to admit this strikes me as odd.  One of the reasons I enjoy video games is due to the social nature of many of them.

Part of the reason for this may be that the current game I’m invested in is single player only: there is no other interaction with a human being.  Another big part of the reason is a new baby in the house.  At the end of the day, watching TV is the easiest thing to do to relax.

But I think it’s more than both of those things.  Instead, due in part to the internet and in part to quality programs, TV has become something we can commonly connect about.  You don’t need to cable (though soon you’ll need a converter box) to watch Lost, Heroes, 24, Chuck, and a number of other shows.  And if you don’t have cable, you can catch shows like Burn Notice and Battlestar Galactica online through the network’s websites of Hulu.

That’s one way in which the internet has been responsible for the connection through TV: television is moving off of our televisions.  I don’t even need a DVR to catch up on shows I missed for the week. (Though in the case of House it would be nice since episodes don’t go online until the next episode airs.  Fox, this is very annoying in the case of two part season finales!)  Plus in comment sections beneath those shows, blogs like this one, and message boards, we can share our thoughts.

Pair that up with quality programming.  It seems to me there are a lot of shows on TV that require you to talk about them if you watch them.  If you can watch Lost without feeling the need to find someone else who watches and ask them what in the world they thought happened last week, I shed a tear for you.

All this to say I missed (but taped) House and Fringe last night.  My wife went out to hang out with a friend, and it’s our Tuesday night tradition to watch those shows together.  I suppose I could’ve watched them myself while taping them for her and just let her catch up later, but it’s just not the same.  It’s the same way that if I miss Monday night with the guys, I have a hard time watching Chuck and Heroes online.  It’s partially because I have other stuff I need to get done, but it’s also because it’s just not the same watching with the gang.

So what do you think?  Do you find TV to be a social experience or am I just crazy and we all just stare at the tube and go on with our lives?  And if you do find it to be a social experience, which show do you have the most discussion about?

The top of my discussion list is Lost.  If you haven’t seen this trailer/Fray music video, please enjoy.  And thanks to Kristin Dos Santos over at “Watch with Kristin” for posting it.