running with a time limit sux

I don’t mean a time limit, like in a competitive environment. I mean like “Okay, I got 30 minutes before my son’s tutor is done and I have to get back!”

I’ve been a serious, steady runner since 1994 when I was working in a family owned running shoe shop during my college years. It was great. Then when I got my first job in an office, I ran on my lunch break (yes, our office did have a shower). So I got used to running, or at least being out of the office for one hour every day. I ate at my desk or in my office. I did this for years and have seen the Atlanta area change over time with some really big changes!

Since I’ve been out of the office, I haven’t run as much as I would have liked. I am trying to change that and I am trying to get out whenever the opportunity presents itself. Today was one of those days. I got done with an interview at a local recruiter and was able to get back home in time to get my son off to see his tutor at the library. I donned my running attire and we took off. I planned on doing 3o minutes, and as you might know from my previous posts, I am big on running with a HRM (heart rate monitor).

So, I am out beating the street and feel the overwhelming pressure of the 30 minute ceiling. I worry about being late and my son getting done with the tutor and him worried that I am not there. I actually planned it so if I did run 30 minutes, I’d be back 15 minutes before he would have been done as a buffer.

I started to think at how this sort of limit is much more stressful than say, trying to run three miles in 30 minutes, or even running a competitive race. I began to think back at how I used to feel when I had to get back to get ready for a meeting or a phone call. I felt the same way. When I am running in a race or trying to beat a specific pace, I am really trying to beat myself or improve my time. I have no illusions that I am going to win a price in my age class so I am out there for myself. But today, I was running to beat the clock because others are counting on me.

When I run, it’s my form of mediation. It’s my therapy. It heals my soul. I think about my muscles and how they’ve been conditioned for running for over 10 years. I think of them as a worn in, efficient system. If you have ever seen a steam boat engine, you might know what I am talking about. When I run, it’s when I have my “A-ha!!!!!!” or my “Eureka!!!” moments.

But not today, since I was so consumed with getting back within 30 minutes. Don’t get me wrong… I did have a great run as the weather, although chilly, was beautiful, and I did have a couple of minutes of deep thought, but it was missing the calming, introspective spice I was so looking forward to.

My therapist says, “Awareness is more than half the battle” and she’s right, of course. Having this awareness, I guess, is sort of an “A-ha!!” moment, just maybe not the one I was hoping for.

be a savvy shopper

I like to think I am a “savvy shopper.” What I mean is, I like to find a deal… but nothing cheeses me off more than being taken advantage of… or the thought of being taken advantage of.

When I was in college, I worked for a large “big box” retailer when they first came to Atlanta. I had felt like I had sold my soul to the devil. It was awful. What I really hated, was being instructed to push “extended warranties” to anyone. “Keep a stack of the extended warranties in your back pocket… If you see someone looking at a VCR try to get them to sign up…” or “I’ll give everyone a $50 gift card if you sell five extended warranties today!” Like I said, it was awful. Now everyone knows a couple of people who have really benefited or were thankful they got the extended warranty… I’m not posting about extended warranties, folks, if you love ’em or hate ’em, I could care less.

But I think I realized one of my character faults. I think I am pretty savvy, certainly not naive when it comes to all sorts of things, but…

While I’ve been on the job hunt, I posted a portion of my resume on various job boards. In my online job profiles, I use a Grandcentral number to I can screen my calls. From my profiles on these boards, I get probably about five or six “offers” about being an insurance salesman… oh wait, a FULL COMMISSIONED insurance salesman. I mark those as spam. And then, probably about three times a day, I get emails that start as:

Dear Jeffrey ,

Recently I viewed your resume online, and I felt you would be an excellent candidate for an opening we are trying to fill based on your technology background. A brief job description about the [ENTER GENERIC IT JOB TITLE HERE] job is included.

Or this:

Dear Jeffrey ,

After reading your online resume, I feel your technical/science background may make you a solid candidate for an opening we’re trying to fill. I’ve provided some basic information about the [ENTER GENERIC IT JOB TITLE HERE].

The email goes on and offers some enticing facts about salary and benefits. And there is a link to an “online profile” to fill out that has some crazy URL that has my email in the URL. So by simply clicking on the URL I have verified my email address… and a quick Google search would indicate by filling out the “online profile” I would just open myself up to more harassment.

Before you say, “Hey Pabian, this is more of your solarflare, conspiracy mumbo-jumbo, isn’t it?” or before you ask me if I am wearing a tin-foil hat, let me show you the most recent domains sent to me, using either one of the above emails:


Update 03.01.2008:  I updated the list from 10 listings to 17.  I’ll continue to update as the emails come in.

And that’s what’s left in my trash box which goes back a week. And I don’t want to mark these as SPAM as legitimate offers might get filters.

So tonight… I get a call from a potential employer about a job I am actually really excited about. But there was this gnawing feeling in the back of my head. Something about it raised a red flag and I feel I am about to be sold an “extended warranty.” I got so paranoid, I started to regret my acceptance of an interview. Sweat started to bead on my forehead, the muscle in my right shoulder started to twitch…

Utimately, after checking around, I decided that I don’t need to worry. Lately, I’ve been more surprised by keeping an open mind, so now I am looking forward to my “interview” late next week. But in the meantime, if you need some life insurance… give me a call.

mspscan.exe crashes… or ScanSrv crashes

This is totally nuts.  As you might have read, I reinstalled WinXP on a newly formated hard drive and had to reinstall Office 2003 naturally.  When I tried to scan in a doc with Microsoft Document Scanning, as soon as I hit the “scan” button, the application crashed and wanted to phone home to Microsoft and report the error. Here’s what showed up in my Event Viewer -> Application:

Faulting application mspscan.exe, version 11.0.8166.2, stamp 4616c200, faulting module mspscan.exe, version 11.0.8166.2, stamp 4616c200, debug? 0, fault address 0x00008b66.

I couldn’t find anything on Google or Google groups… nothing even close.  I did find two articles in Spanish that didn’t seem to help.   I was starting to sweat since I really needed to send a particular fax, (I use a web-based faxing service so I scan in my docs and then email them to the fax provider who sends them as a fax to my recipient).

I then searched for “microsoft document scanning crashes” and I found something that looked like a clue from somewhere:

To get this to work on our machines using ‘Microsoft Office Document
Scanning‘, we went into ‘My Computer’ from the desktop and under
‘Scanners and Cameras’ shortened the scanner’s filename to 26
characters.  Also put the recent file history settings that were
deleted previously from the registry back in place (couple of them had
really long filenames). It still works.  For us it appears the
presence of recent file history with long filenames had nothing to do
with the ‘…Document Scanning‘ not working.

You know what? It worked.  Instead of going to “My Computer” I went into “Control Panel” and changed:

  • Hewlitt-Packard OfficeJet K80 Scanner


  • HP OfficeJet K80 Scanner

And it worked.  So, here I post this for you in case you need it.    This is apparently something that came up after Office SP3.  Good luck!

a kiss of death for Mio?

Notice, I said “a kiss of death,” not “the kiss of death.”

Mio really screwed up. They made enemies for life.

If you’ve been coming here to learn about my Mio c310x and hacking it, you’ve probably either seen here or on some of the forums that Mio has been promising a map update for some time. First Mio said it would be Q1, then spring, then June, then July.

People were speculating the updates should be free or minimal in cost. Other’s said, “Hey, you got a great GPS unit for ~$150 – $200; why would you expect an update for free?” Either way, they release the map update on July 16th, I think. You had two options to get the update:

  • Find a copy at your local Circuit City for $14.95 + tax
  • Buy directly from Mio for $14.95 + $9.95 shipping and handling.

Both options are reasonable. But I’m a cheap sonuvabitch and would have gladly waited until I could find a copy locally. Many people, however, gladly ordered directly from Mio and paid the $9.95 shipping and handling fee.

Then, everything starts going downhill.

If you view the last 20 pages or so from this thread you can see what happened and continues to happen:

This reads a lesson in “How to turn off customers for life.” I’ll save you from reading the entire thread and give you the highlights:

  • Order page had many problems:
    • couldn’t handle the initial load
    • one of the domain names referred to in the “order confirmation” letter hadn’t even been registered yet; people were worried they were being phished.
    • emails to Mio bounced, again inflaming security concerns
  • Customer service is giving conflicting answers (if you can get through). Many reported getting busy signals when trying to call in, (seriously what company gives busies in this day and age?).
  • Of those folks that ordered early most got their order after four weeks, many still haven’t gotten it despite paying almost $10 for shipping.
  • Email inquiries go unanswered.

There were some people who had reported problems with the actual upgrade, but you are always going to have some hardware issues. And thankfully these people that have had problems are getting more help from the forums than the actual company.

Most people are pissed off since they feel like they paid a premium for shipping at a steep $10 when USPS Priority mail is around $4 and would have been delivered in three days. However, Mio in its wisdom shipping these DVD’s via Media Mail (from USPS):

Media Mail® service is a cost efficient way to mail books, sound recordings, recorded video tapes, printed music, and recorded computer-readable media (such as CDs, DVDs, and diskettes). Media Mail can not contain advertising except for incidental announcements of books. The maximum Lose Weight Exercise for Media Mail is 70 lbs.

The USPS website doesn’t say how long shipping something Media Mail will take. But I will say I have had books shipped this method. It’s really, really, cheap and the book took about three weeks coming from California. So the perception from the customer is “Hey, I spent $10 extra to receive my update, yet Mio sent it the cheapest, longest way possible.”

In my line of work, I’ve learned long ago that honesty is the best policy when dealing with customers. So when people call into Mio to get an update, cancel their order (since they can get it at Circuit City now), they get the run around, different answers depending on whom they talk to. They feel like they are being lied to.

The problem with the website flaking out lends the impression that Mio just doesn’t have their act together.

Now, I think the old saying, “You can have it cheap, good, or fast but not all three” is applicable here. At least the update is cheap, but it certainly wasn’t fast and seeing how Mio is treating the customers over this, I wouldn’t say it was good, either.

I can see how something like this happened. Someone there thought all of this sounded good to ship the DVD’s via Media Mail, saying the company money but not realizing how long it would take to get them in peoples hands. The customer service reps are more or less left holding the bag and are having to deal with angry customers and they might be trying to do their best in trying to appease them, but it isn’t a coordinated effort and not all the reps are telling the same story. So you got angry customers, public forums on the Internet, folks screaming to the BBB and it begins to all slide downhill.

One time, something similar happened at work. There was a major mailing that was going out to a specific group of customers. It was some software and manuals. The list of contcts was in an Excel spreadsheet and was >5,000. The spreadsheet had columns for name, house number, street, city, state, zip, etc., Someone tried to sort the column for house number, but DID NOT expand the sort to include the street name. So the house numbers got sorts but not the street name so ALL the addresses got horribly borked. The mailing went out USPS Priority and ALL came back. There were mail bins upon mail bins of return packages. And these were printed materials with a custom letter for each recipient. It all had to be redone. What a mess. That’s the sort of mistake you never make twice, (unless you are truly a dumbass), and since I just heard about it, I am always careful when I sort my spreadsheets.

So, what does this mean for Mio? Because they haven’t come out and addressed or even acknowledged the customers’ frustration, they’ve made enemies for life. Or at least people who will never ever buy another Mio product again. I can’t say I blame them. Mio has some really slick GPS products but people would rather buy from a company that they feel like supports them. They had a golden opportunity to turn these customers into die-hard fans. The promise was good; a reasonably priced upgrade and everyone was willing to pay for it. They were even excited about it and were willing to forget about the long delays. Now they feel like they’ve been kicked in the teeth and some of those folks that were willing to pay for a legitimate upgrade will upgrade their units by “other means” without paying for it. They’ll be force underground.

What Mio should have done? They should have came out and said they made a mistake. They should have refunded everyone who paid the extra money for shipping or at least offered to credit anyone who called in. The call center reps should have been prepared with an official statement from the management saying yeah, they made a mistake and for your trouble we’ll refund your shipping costs. They should stop sending upgrade DVD’s via bulk Media Mail and either send it via normal or Priority USPS.

Something similar happened with TigerDirect a while ago. Tiger Direct did some sneaking things with customers long ago; if you ordered from them they also signed you for some long distance promotion, people have had problems with their rebates, etc. Personally, I have never ordered from them. But if you visit any of the “hot deal” forums, people are quick to turn away whenever a deal comes up from TigerDirect. They still have a damaged image from something that happened years ago. Based on their history and their perception, some people choose to stay away, even if it is a legitimate hot deal. I’m included in that boat. I simply choose not to do business with them.   I don’t have a particular axe to grind with TD, by the way.

  • Tiger Direct
  • RipOff Alert I
  • RipOff Alert II

Is this the fate of Mio? Potentially. I think they have a chance to pull it out, but that window of opportunity is getting smaller as time goes on. Will I still do business with Mio? Yeah, I probably would. I believe in their technology and being in an industry that deals with customers myself, I can sort of understand what happened. I hope they do what is right.

This really won’t kill the company as I said they have great products.  But they blew a chance to develop die hard fanatics who would always talk up their products and claim to be loyal customers.

Repair install XP without deinstalling IE7… wtf?

Okay, I am going to toot my own horn here, I think I figured out something NO ONE else has. I’ll explain that later, but suffice to say, I’m pretty jazzed right now.

Unbeknowst to me, and apparently MANY people who installed IE7 out there, aren’t aware that you MUST uninstall IE7 prior to doing a repair install on WinXP. This is truly a F*$&#d up thing. I didn’t know about it, did you? Now, don’t get me wrong. I consider myself to be a UNIX and OSX guy, but we do use WinXP at home since it is really fine for the family. I’ve never been one to jump on the “I hate Windows” bandwagon, since it works fine to me. In fact, when conducting interviews at work, one of the questions we ask is, “How do you feel about Windows and why?” I’ve made hiring decisions based on the applicants response. …  Okay, so I digress.

It’s true. If you need to do a repair installation of WinXP and you installed IE7, you must or should uninstall IE7 before you begin. I think it is a load of crap this isn’t made more public or in fact is an issue, but it is true:

Here’s my deal. Memorial Weekend, I bought a package deal from Fry’s for a CPU + Motherboard. What was attractive to me was that I can get a dual core Pentium and a Motherboard with and AGP slot for $80. Yes, I know everything is going to PCI-E, but last year I bought a killer AGP card that I’m not quite ready to give up. And I have a bunch of DDR memory (not DDR2). So, I went from an AMD XP2600+ (that was overclocked to a 3200+), to a Pentium D dual-core 2.8Ghz CPU. I get to use my old stuff and get the best of both worlds until I make the jump to a totally new system.

Surprisingly, after installing the new motherboard in my case, WinXP booted up and ran just fine. Usually, you have to do a repair install on a new motherboard, but for some reason, it didn’t which I found surprising since I went from a nforce chipset to a VIA chipset and to a AMD CPU to a Intel CPU.  However, we were getting random BSOD’s over some IRQ issue. I figured I should to my repair install of WinXP anyaway.

I got boned.

Check out Article 917964 from Microsoft:

Before you perform a repair installation of Microsoft Windows XP, you must uninstall Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 from the Windows XP-based computer. If you perform a repair installation of Windows XP when Internet Explorer 7 is still installed, Internet Explorer will not work after the repair is completed.

To resolve this issue, uninstall Internet Explorer 7 from the computer, and then install Internet Explorer 6. After Windows XP is repaired, you can reinstall Internet Explorer 7.

Thanks, Microsoft. I am usually okay with trying to figure this stuff out, but how the hell would I have known this? This is so utterly frustrating, I was losing sleep over this. I followed everything in this KB article to the letter and none of it worked.

Here’s what happened to me. I did my repair installation NOT KNOWING THIS and when it completed, I got the message that said something like;

This copy of windows is insecure. Click here to upgrade to Service Pack 2…

However, IE wasn’t working AT ALL. So when I tried to do Windows Update or Microsoft Update, nothing happened. If I clicked on the IE icon, I got some obscure error message about some dll not installed.

Thankfully, everything else seemed to work. I could use Firefox and Thunderbird. But Windows Update was borked. I wanted to upgrade to SP2, but couldn’t. I read via Google Groups/Dejanews that someone in my same boat tried to install SP2 manually and ended up with a super foo-barred WinXP that wouldn’t boot at all. Then my wife called to give me an earful that Office 2003 wasn’t working. Now, the stakes have been raised.

So, I thought I should go ahead and restore from backup. I use Acronis to back up my main drive to a 300GB drive. Thankfully, I did it a couple of days ago. However, in this state, my other drives couldn’t be reactivated. And I had other issues.

  • If I tried to install IE7 I got errors saying it was for the SP2 version of WinXP
  • If I tried to install IE6 it said a newer version was installed.
  • If I wend to “Add/Remove Programs” it was blank.
  • Office didn’t work

So I couldn’t restore from the back up if I wanted to. However, I knew I had the images so if the worst case scenario happened, I could restore.

So, the only solution I could find was to format and reinstall. I’d hate to do that since it will be a lot of work and my wife is already frustrated. I sure wish I could get to work.

The big issue was that IE7 was for systems already with SP2, (now bear in mind that I already tried to uninstall IE7 via the mentioned ways in the above referenced article). I was stuck between IE6 and IE7.

Then I found a article about slipstreaming the install with SP2.

  • Slipstreaming Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Create Bootable CD

Maybe this would work. I followed the instructions and guess what? It worked! I got back into WinXP and everything looked great. Now, I was encouraged!

So now I reinstalled/repaired installed WinXP WITH SP2! But it wasn’t perfect. Windows Update and Microsoft Update were still spewing errors so I couldn’t update. If I tried Windows Update, I was met with this error message:

You receive a 0x80245003 error when you attempt to install updates from the Windows Update Web site?

    It would say files weren’t registered and you can select either to try to register them or get more info. I tried many of the fixes that were found on Google and none of them worked. Here’s Microsoft’s Article 919749 that explains more info:


    loadTOCNode(1, \’symptoms\’);You cannot install updates by using the Microsoft Windows Update Web site, and you may receive an error message that resembles the following:

    Error number:0x80245003. Windows Update has encountered an error and cannot display the requested page.

    The fix in that article did not work. This, however worked wonderfully. Here’s the link to this forum post:

    • Fix The 0x80245003 Error!!!!!

    Suggestion #2 got me going. I’ve just completed the rest of the updates since SP2’s release, so I think I am good to . After the first reboot, I had to repeat the above steps, but now everything looks okay after two additional IE7 updates.

    So, here’s a quick list of lessons learned:

    • Uninstall IE7 if you are going to do a repair install of WinXP
    • If you forget to uninstall IE7, your best best is to restore from back up and uninstall IE7.
    • Or make yourself a slipstreamed WinXP + SP2 installation disk.
    • Don’t forget searching DejaNews/Google Groups for useful info from the microsoft.* USENET newsgroups.

    I hope this helps.  Let me know how and if it worked for you and if you have any ideas or updates, let me know and I’ll try to keep this post updated.

    innovation, what a show…

    The other night, I was watching TV in the bed with the kids and Mel Brooke’s History of the World Part I came on. This is a classic movie, if for no other reason it shows Mel’s genius. The part we watched was the Spanish Inquisition with Mel as Torquemada.

    But the Inquisition’s here and it’s here to-
    “Hey Torquemada, walk this way.”
    “I just got back from the Auto-de-fe.”
    “Auto-de-fe? What’s an Auto-de-fe?”
    “It’s what you oughtn’t to do but you do anyway.”

    The remainder of the movie isn’t for kids, so we changed the station. But I can’t help but watch something like that and think about how great that movie was and the care and the thought that went into that. The next day, I was listening to the radio and Lola from the Kinks came on. It is a cold day when you hear a modern song like Lola. What makes it so great? If we were going to talk for an hour or so with a couple of beers, I could probably make my point and convince you that it’s one of the greatest songs, but if I have to explain it here, then you probably wouldn’t get it. Anyways, that’s just an aside.

    So, at work, I’ve been thinking about Innovation. If you have seen my blog before, you might be aware that I like technology. There are so many things I think are cool to play with and have integrated them into mine and my family’s life. Sometimes, my wife gets frustrated when things don’t work 100% but I wonder what my kids will be like when they are my age. Will they be rushing out to get the latest tech toys or will they try to build their own? Who knows, but I do like to encourage their innovator spirit.

    At work, I was writing a document on innovation and some of the challenges our company faces. I referred to an article that Guy Kawasaki wrote for one of recent issues of Entrepreneur magazine. His article really gave me food for thought. One of the most important points that I’ve been wrestling with is that you should make products that make your customers happy.

    The best example I can come up with and it really drives it home for me is my wife. We have a Trixbox PBX at home. I love it. But, it doesn’t work 100% of the time; it works 99.9% of the time. And we have to dial “9” to call outside. Me, I’m willing to put up with it. Or rather, it just doesn’t seem like an issue at all for me, but for my wife… it’s a pain in the ass. “Why doesn’t our phone work like everyone else’s?” Heaven forbid if my Mother-in-law tries to use our phone. They ain’t happy!

    Until I read Guy’s article, I thought that they were missing the point of having the “wonderful technology” in their lives making things better for them. Nope, I missed it. If the technology makes them happy, then we have a winner. I have a Roku Soundbridge; hands down one of the best and coolest things I ever bought myself. However, my wife is just as happy plugging her iPod Shuffle into the stereo. Her Shuffle, makes her happy.

    I get it, now I understand. But there has to be some sort of middle ground, don’t you think? A product can’t be 100% fool-proof and work 100% of the time, can it? Does that mean it has to be simple or just work good? I don’t have the answers yet, but this has been what’s been inside my thoughts as of late. Somewhere in this conundrum, lies the secret sauce.

    i want my two hours back.

    Last night, after everyone went to bed, I began to watch a movie, called Firewall with Harrison Ford. The movie kept me interested but when it was done, I was disappointed. And the more I thought about it, the more frustrated I got. Here’s my big secret.

    I haven’t told ANYONE I watched this movie; it’s been a secret.

    I didn’t mean to keep it a secret. I wanted to tell people that I thought it was a bad movie. I wanted to make fun of it with my friends. But for some reason, it is almost like I am ashamed to tell people I watched it. Actually, not this movie specifically, but I guess I am more burned up about the fact that I stayed up extra late to watch it. I guess the ROI is in the negative.

    So, why didn’t I like this movie? Well, it was full of fluff. It had real potential. The story was interesting and there were plenty of places for the story to take a unique twist, but I guess it was like it was “phoning it in…”

    I’ve always like Harrison Ford so don’t get me wrong. I just think the story got really weak at about the 1/2 point and the ending was a huge let down. I haven’t read any of the real reviews but I probably will as soon as I post this.