Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to blogging

Holy cow. It has been years since I have updated this blog. Well, a lot has certainly changed since I last posted. I bought a house, became a father, and became a triathlete. I think it is high time I start to blog again. Right now I am 8 weeks out from my first half iron man, so I think that triathlon is most apropos.

I started running just about one year ago to try to live a healthier lifestyle. I am no stranger to running, I was on the track & field team in high school, and then I had several failed attempts to start running throughout my twenties. For whatever reason, perhaps being a father, or perhaps having technology (Runkeeper and Strava!) to motivate me, I stuck to it. I signed up and trained for the Santa Monica Christmas Run last December and I finished in just under 28 minutes. I was hooked.

At work I planted the idea that a bunch of us should train for a race and we actually followed through on it! We decided to go for the 5k at the Pasadena Triathlon. This had me thinking, I have already done a 5k, what if I did the triathlon? I decided to go for it and bought a bike. My first venture on the bike was miserable, I went 7 miles and came back so sore I could barely walk. I was very discouraged and I didn't touch the bike again for a few weeks. Thankfully my coworker was up to the challenge of showing me the ropes and after a few lunctime rides I was off to a much better start. Through that coworker I also discovered PTC, the Pasadena Triathlon Cub, which coincidentally was just starting a series of beginner rides. With their help I got up to speed pretty quickly on the bike.

Swimming is a whole different story. I procrastinated much longer than I should have to start swimming. I finally broke down and went to the pool and I couldn't even make it to the other end without stopping. This was even more discouraging than my first bike ride. I ended up taking a bunch of lessons to get me going and then I followed a 0 to 1650 swim plan I found online. Swimming is still a personal struggle for me but at least I got to the point where I could swim laps without drowning.

Well, finally the big day came and I did pretty well. I really wanted to finish under an hour, but I am happy with my time of 1:02:44. Since then I have done several more running races and an olympic distance triathlon. Oh, I forgot to mention that another coworker of mine is on this crazy journey with me. We are both doing the half iron man and we signed up for a full next year!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon!

A few weeks ago my Wife and I stopped by the Camarillo Outlets on the way home from Santa Barbara. We found that they had a Le Creuset Outlet! We had been wanting to purchase some enamelwear for a while, so this was the perfect opportunity! Today was our first usage of the new items, and what better way to break them in then with Julia Child's famous recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon.

We tried to stay as true to the original recipe as possible. However, I have no idea where to possibly find Chunk Bacon in this country. The closest thing I could find was the in-house smoked bacon at Whole Foods. It is thickly cut and less salty than commercially packaged bacon. I blanched the bacon to try and eliminate the smokey flavor as much as possible.

All in all, it turned out well. I think my only mistake was that I did not monitor the oven temperature well enough to just simmer the beef. The beef was not as tender as it should have been. However, the flavor of the sauce and vegetables more than made up for it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Annoying Windows 7 Printer Bug

I have an HP Deskjet 6980 Wireless printer. My new computer has Windows 7 x64. After a while the printer would no longer work. In Control Panel it said the printer was offline. Finally I went poking around in Control Panel and found that the Port was configured for a particular IP address. I already knew that my Printer had a built in web server for configuration, so I pointed by browser to that IP address and guess what popped up! My TiVo's configuration Website! My Printer had been assigned a new IP address from DHCP and windows was stuck pointing to the old IP Address. I fixed the problem by randomly typing in IP addresses until I found the printer one, and then changed the port to the correct address. However, this won't stop it from happening again :(

Sunday, November 22, 2009


On the way home from the grocery store we were startled by a loud thud against the side of our car. At first it seemed like a minor car accident, or something fell off a truck, or someone threw something at our car. When I looked in the rear view mirror I saw what looked like several birds flapping around. When we got home and surveyed the carnage, we found confirmation that it was in fact a bird. I am pretty sure that the particular bird that hit our car did not survive.

I washed the bird remains from the car as best I could, but there were guts and feathers still stuck between the window and the car. When I lowered the window I realized to my horror that the groove that the window fits into was full of bird guts. The bird hit with such force that guts were pushed in and spread throughout the groove even though the window was closed. I had to use many q-tips to remove what was left of the bird. My wife almost threw up watching me do this.

iPod Touch on a Core i5 Computer

Holy Jeesum!

Yesterday I restored my iTunes library on my new computer, which went well. Today I thought it would be easy to sync my iPod, boy was I wrong.

When I attempted to sync my iPod, I was confronted with the following message:

iTunes could not connect to this iphone because an unknown error occurred. 0xE8000065

After a quick internet search I realized I was not alone. Apparently there are all kinds of compatibility issues with iTunes and computers with the new P55 chipset for the Core i5/i7. Thankfully Gigabyte was able to resolve the problem with a BIOS update (v. F3 for my GA-P55-UD3R). However, it was a bit of a task to finally get the BIOS updated.

I am used to updating the BIOS for Dell computers which is pretty painless, the updater is run right from within Windows. For Gigabyte there are 3 separate ways to update the BIOS! Q-Flash seemed like the recommended way, but the documentation all referred to a Floppy Drive being needed. I have not owned a computer with a Floppy drive in the last decade. I therefore tried the @Bios Application, a second method that they provide. @Bios is a Windows application to flash the BIOS, much in the way Dell works. However, this method doesn't work at all!! I tried several times. The application reports success, but each time after rebooting the BIOS version was still F2, not the newer F3. Finally I found on the internet that you can use a USB Thumb Drive with Q-Flash. Using the Thumb Drive I was finally able to flash the BIOS, and now iTunes is working with my iPod!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Computer: Part 2!

I have now had the new computer running for a few days, and everything is going well. With the latest technology, they now have something called XMP (Extreme Memory Profile), where if both the RAM and the Motherboard support the feature, the Motherboard can query the RAM for its potential performance and automatically adjust the frequencies. I turned this functionality on in the BIOS and it correctly updated the memory frequency to 1600 MHz, up from the default ~1300 MHz. However, after it made this adjustment, the CPU was underclocked to ~2.5 GHz. I then bumped up the multiplier a bit to x18 and it is now happily running at 2.88 GHz at about 32 degrees Celsius.

I am sure I could overclock it way more, some people are reporting upwards of 4GHz with air cooling, however I want this computer to last a long time, and I am happy with its current performance.

So far I have played Batman Arkham Asylum, and I have ripped a movie using Handbrake. Batman is friggin awesome! I am used to playing Wii games and much older computer games. I have all of the graphics settings set to the highest and it looks unbelievable compared to what I am used to. Additionally, the game story is very captivating! I also couldn't be happier with the performance of converting a DVD using Handbrake. With my old computer it would convert at around 10fps, which could take hours to convert. With this new computer it converted at over 80fps (almost an order of magnitude faster!). I can now convert a typical movie in around 30 minutes! Look at the screenshot, it shows all 4 Cores active!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Computer!

It has been many months since I last posted. We have had a busy summer, hopefully I will get around to posting pictures. We went to the Wild Animal Park and Legoland in San Diego, and we went to New York twice for a cousins' bridal shower and wedding! I also build two enormous Lego Star Wars sets. Unfortunately I have been stuck using my Dell Mini 9 hackintosh for the past month or so because my main computer had become pretty much unusable, which is partly responsible for my lack of posting.

However, I am happy to report that I have a new computer and my first order of business on it is this blog post! I bought my last computer at pretty much the worst time. It was the very first generation of dual core (Pentium D), which was pretty terrible. I wish I had waited for the Core line of processors.

For this new computer, I bought the parts and built it myself. Here are the specs:

Core i5-750 2.66 GHz (Quad Core)
Gigabyte GA-P55-UD3R Motherboard
4GB Corsair XMS3
Sapphire ATI Radeon 5770
Western Digital 640GB Caviar Black
Antec III Sonata Case
Cooler Master 212 Plus CPU Cooler
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

I spent quite a bit of time researching all of these parts. I am hoping that this computer will be a little more "future proof" than the last one. The graphics card is DirectX 11 compatible, and I went with a 64-bit Windows 7 so that I will be able to add more RAM once 4GB chips come down in price (for a total of 12GB!). It is also nice to have Windows 7, the last computer was XP Media Center Edition, I completely skipped Vista!

The build went pretty well, thankfully even though the CPU cooler is huge, it doesn't interfere with any of the other components. The only hiccup is that one of the drive covers for the case came scratched, I will e-mail Antec and hopefully they will send a replacement part. My windows experience score is mostly in the 7's, but the Hard Drive is only 5.9, which seems low because this is supposed to be a performance drive. Oh well, I will have to research it. Right now everything is at default speeds, but I may try to overclock a little bit.