Theme Changes

Ahead of any plans to start posting here again (and to reactivate the 1001 in 101 sub-blog), the blog’s theme will need to be changed yet again to incorporate more… *current* code to avoid issues like what has been seen in the past new months here. Expect to see multiple changes in the coming days and weeks.

My Fight with World of Warcraft

Today, I had to completely reinstall Windows 7 on my computer. Might sound like a drastic step, but the backstory will speak as to why I had to reinstall the operating system. Then, we’ll talk more about the title of the post.

I acquired DSL service from Qwest on October 18th, after being without a land-based internet service for 6 months. The entire debacle around getting this set up is bound to become a post sometime in the near future; for now, we’ll just say that it was a major pain. The main reason I had stopped paying for World of Warcraft was due to the fact that I had no internet service; therefore, I had no reason to continue paying for something I was not able to use effectively.

After getting my internet service back up and running last week, I decided to purchase a game card for WoW, because I actually did miss the game a bit and wanted to play it again. I added the card to my account early this morning and launched the game, only to find that DWM.exe, which is the Desktop Window Manager (the portion of Windows 7 that controls every window you see on the screen) was just going crazy with CPU, RAM, and disk usage. I had noticed some issues like this before, and this may have been what contributed to the hard drive failing last week in this computer. So, that’s the reason I decided to reinstall the OS this morning.

After installing the OS, and adding some protection software back on (Kaspersky Internet Security 2011) and a few other application, I started downloading the World of Warcraft client – hoping that Blizzard had finally updated the downloaded setup files, since the game is now on version 4.0.1. I was vastly disappointed that I was downloading version 3.0.1, but kept at it anyway.

After the download was done, I started the amazingly long patch cycle to get up to the current version. However, every time an updater attempted to run, I kept seeing error messages such as “Connection Timed Out” and “Launcher requires write permission to the World of Warcraft registry key”. At this point I had to go to work anyway, so I left it for the time being and went to work. After coming home, I removed the game that I had spent hours downloading, and reinstalled it from the Wrath of the Lich King disc since I knew it had the same game version as what I downloaded. After the install, I noticed I was still getting the same frustrating error messages, and was even contemplating reinstalling the OS again. Before I did that, I decided to pause the protection of Kaspersky, and suddenly everything started working!

Since turning Kaspersky completely off seemed to fix the problem, I did a bit more digging into Kaspersky’s settings. I attempted nearly everything to get the updater working, from setting all Blizzard applications to trusted to adding a few exclusions. Finally, I arrived at the following solution that did allow the updaters to work properly:

  1. Open Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 (these basic steps will work for previous versions but the screens might not look the same) and click “Settings” in the upper right corner.
  2. Click the 4th box over (make sure you are on “Threats and Exclusions”.blog102510-1
  3. Under the “Exclusions” header, click “Settings…”
  4. Add the following items to the Exclusion Rules tab (NOTE: This article assumes you are running Windows 7. The same paths will work for Vista; however, these paths probably will NOT work for XP users. You are warned!). You will need to make sure these paths are excluded from ALL components of Kaspersky Internet Security!
  1. C:\Users\Public\Games\World of Warcraft\
  2. C:\Users\<USER>\AppData\Local\Temp\Blizzard* (the asterisk is important!)
    blog102510-2

That should be all there is to making Blizzard’s update software work properly for World of Warcraft on a Windows 7 Ultimate machine protected with Kaspersky Internet Security 2011. If you needed to do any additional steps to make this work, please let me know in the comments. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the world of Azeroth (after all your patching completes)!

Ubuntu One Subscribed Folders

As followers of my blog know, the hard drive in my laptop recently failed, forcing me to reinstall both Ubuntu Lucid Lynx (10.04) and Windows 7. Fortunately on the Ubuntu side, I did have Ubuntu One set up with the free 2GB account, which is a cloud-based backup service. However, I found that once I entered my account credentials and expanded the reach of Ubuntu One’s synced folders a bit, only the new folders were syncing: my Documents, Music, and Pictures had the menu option present to sync them on Ubuntu One, but no matter what I did I could not get them to actually sync.

Then, via the Ubuntu One FAQs, I found the key is the command line tools u1sync and u1sdtool. These are both part of the ubuntuone-client-tools package, not installed by default. Continue reading ‘Ubuntu One Subscribed Folders’

Hard Drive Saga

As those following my Twitter feed (on Facebook, here or at http://www.twitter.com/mattfast1) know, the hard drive in my laptop failed a couple days ago. The warning signs when it finally failed were pretty impossible to ignore: I had two operating systems installed on the computer. One (Ubuntu LTS 10.04) would not boot at all (“Could not find /sbin/init”), and the other (Windows 7 x64 Ultimate) would boot but was running extremely slowly. It seemed the damage was much more prevalent in the areas that stored the Ubuntu “disk” (really just a file on the Windows NTFS partition), which was quite maddening because I had just downloaded a bunch of songs from Napster.

So I booted a live CD and ran a check on the Ubuntu disk first, in an attempt to salvage some data. Somehow during that process, I lost my /home directory completely, which raises a decent argument for using the Ubuntu One cloud backup service, which was thankfully set up on that PC so I had only lost the most recent downloads. However, the Windows side was a bit more irksome – corrupted files simply wouldn’t let me copy any part of them or interact with the files in any way. Most of that stuff I had backed up somewhere else though.

In the end, I wouldn’t be surprised if I did lose more than I realize. However, most of the stuff I would have lost that I don’t realize now would have been a holdover from the days of Windows Vista on that laptop, that hasn’t been touched in over a year. I do have the old hard drive, so if need be I can always pop that into a SATA drive reader and attempt to extract more of that drive’s contents. And, now that the whole saga is over, I now have a 640GB hard drive in my laptop (used to be 160GB), so I have plenty of space to ferry anything I need from my home to Liz’s, or to either workplace, or anywhere else I need to go. The new drive has 5 partitions: /dev/sda1 is a 100MB partition the Windows installer put the bootloader on, /dev/sda2 is a 200GB partition for Windows 7’s install, /dev/sda5 is a 784MB partition for Linux swap space, /dev/sda6 is a 24.5GB partition for the Ubuntu install, and /dev/sda7 is a 350GB partition for the /home directories on Ubuntu. Of course it’s all accessible from Ubuntu (read+write), and Windows is extremely happy only being able to access 200GB since it only had ~150 on the other hard drive.

Now, I just have to complete the arduous task of reinstalling all my programs on both operating systems, and getting everything set back up the way I like it.

Why I Blog

Why do I blog?

I’ve asked myself that several times over the years. Most of the time, I don’t get a good answer from my own brain, and I usually forget. However, I’ve been blogging for long enough, I think I have a better answer.

I started blogging in early 2002. At the time, I was a simple freshman at Arapahoe High School. As anyone who’s attended high school knows, this is an incredibly tumultuous time in everyone’s life, full of loathing, self-doubt, and racked with the pain of isolation, no matter how many friends you have. I had plenty of friends, but none who could help me with my issues; their brand of “help”, just like many males in their early teenage years, would have been to make fun of me. I was tired of bottling things up so I signed up for a fledgling service named LiveJournal, where my account still lives but gathers quite a bit of dust.

During my high school career that ended in May 2005, I had many different blogs besides the one on LiveJournal. Many of them were on Blogger, and served some sort of specialty purpose that was eventually abandoned. Around the time Google was making financial passes at Blogger, my mother signed up for a web hosting service for her family history website, and I self-hosted a WordPress blog there while the software was still in beta. This blog did have all my posts and many comments from the LiveJournal and Blogger days, but inevitably there were some things lost during the transition.

Right after I left high school, I got a job and found a different host for my blog – DreamHost – that offered a huge amount of disk space and bandwidth at very reasonable rates. One of the first things to be set up was the move from http://matt.vandusens.us/blog/ to http://blog.mattfast1.com/. Even today, accessing the former will take you straight to the latter – meaning anyone following the old links could be assured of getting new content.

Today, I would say the main purpose of my blogging is therapeutic. It allows me to get my thoughts out into the open on any subject I wish. Blogging also allows me to express the thoughts I can’t express in 140 characters or less, that probably need to be better explained. As I spent the day yesterday reviewing posts from over 5 years ago that are now marked private, I would say that was the point all along. I’m pretty sure I’ve grown both as a writer and as a person during the past 8 years blogging, and I intend to keep that trend going. During these 8 years, blogging has been about the only constant in my life: jobs, schools, homes, cars, relationships, and friends are all examples of what have come and gone since I started (virtually) penning my thoughts. I’ve had things to regret, and things to celebrate.

Let’s see what the next 8 years bring…

Blog Cleanup & Consolidation

Those who follow my blog may remember back in February 2009, when I cleaned up many of the posts on this blog by making many of them private. Today, I’ve laid most of the groundwork to finish bringing this blog back to the forefront of my digital life.

Yesterday, I installed Twitter Tools. This brings better Twitter integration to my blog, allowing it to publish tweets about new entries to Twitter automatically. I’ve also installed Creative Commons Configurator to give each page on my blog a proper license, and reconfigured Contextual Related Posts so it won’t try to put itself on all the asides on individual post pages. Google Sitemap Generator has been re-enabled so popular search engines can index things a bit better again, and I’ve added the PHP Code Widget plugin to make some items easier to work with. Finally, I’ve put in a Follow Me link on the right side of the page, that links to my Facebook, Last.FM, Twitter, Google Buzz, Flickr, and the central aggregator.

Users who make comments will be allowed to subscribe via email to new comments made in response to theirs now. I’ve updated a few elements of a couple REALLY old plugins that were not completely compatible with the newer versions of WordPress, but none of those have quite made it out of the lab yet.

I’ve removed the cherished Vader styling for K2. For now, it has been replaced with Jolie 3.0 by van blogzor. However, I’m still on the fence about this styling and will probably change to a different theme that allows what I need it to. With the Vader theme discontinued and not working properly on the latest version of K2, I just needed something temporarily that will work.

The future should hold a different theme, a few more links added to the Follow Me feature, and probably a few more tricks thrown in to make things a little more interesting around here. As stated before, the last time I seriously looked at new theming and plugins was 2007, and this blog was starting to show its age. It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging for a little over 8 years now… Seems like just yesterday when I started.

Landlords, Tenants, and Rentals: What Every Colorado Resident Should Know

Yesterday, I walked into my apartment to find a receipt for services performed by a pest control company. This seemed misplaced to me, since I was never given any notice that anyone would be in my apartment that day, and of course the office was closed by then so I couldn’t go over there to find out what was going on. So this morning I walked over to the leasing office, where the person I spoke to informed me that I was “put on the list” for pest control services, that I had been on the list since last Wednesday (07/07), and could not give me any more detail. I was still a little confused, so I asked her why I would have been put on any list without my knowledge, and she just kept reiterating that I was on the list but I wasn’t on the list for the next week.

While I was there, she claimed that tenants on the pest control list were given notice on their doors. When I told her I had never received any notice on my door, she seemed dumbfounded, but collected herself enough to give me a copy of the notice that she said had been pinned to my door.

So, here’s what I’ve learned about Colorado law as it applies to my situation:

  • There is no statute in Colorado law that clearly states a landlord must give advance notice to enter a rental properly.
  • The Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) has a publication that states tenants have a right to be notified before a landlord enters their properly.
  • The lease agreement of my complex is written in such a way that the landlord basically can enter the premises at any time they wish, day or night, for nearly any purpose
  • Any attempts to get a straight answer out of the landlord about any activities will be met with confusion and any lie they can think of to get off your radar.
  • There is no responsibility shouldered by the government to ensure the privacy and security of the tenant, at least none in the State of Colorado.
  • No one seems to know why that is.

I know I won’t be letting this matter drop. It is in the best interest of the State to protect the rights of the taxpaying citizen. Landlords already wield an astonishing amount of power – some of this power needs to be eviscerated at the source. I do intend to contact my representatives about this both at the state and national level, because Government should be concerned with the rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for their citizens, and allowing landlords to enter rented properties without regard for the liberty of the person renting from them is an encroachment of the Pursuit of Happiness.

(Incidently, I also reported a leak around the base of my toilet to the landlord at the same time I was complaining about people being in my apartment. I am sort of wondering how long it will be before maintenance comes up to have a look?)

New Feature: Twitter Tools!

As visitors to my blog may have noticed, my sidebar has an area that shows the last 5 tweets I’ve sent to twitter. Previously, this was handled using the RSS feed from Twitter, and was fairly ugly. For example, it kept the username, and the entire thing showed as a link rather than just the time it was posted.

I’ve just added the Twitter Tools plug-in, which has fixed that. Now, tweets show as regular text, with a link back to their original source on Twitter. Plus, I have a way to publish tweets directly from my blog’s home page, which means I may come here more and actually maintain my blog. Also, news of blog posts will be posted directly to Twitter as they happen, which of course has a ripple effect over to Facebook as well.

This is not the only improvement planned for my blog. In the upcoming weeks, I would expect to see more useful plugins and a new theme enabled, categories consolidated, and possibly more Cool Stuff added. The last time I seriously revisited the theme and plugins of this blog was in 2007, so hopefully something suitable can be found and tweaked to my liking.

Oh, and I plan to post more content as well. I’ve been using Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer for the past few months, and I must say this is actually a WordPress-posting client worth its salt. I do have the WordPress client for Android on my phone too, if I want to spend several minutes getting frustrated with the on-screen keyboard… it’s great for short messages, but longer ones just end up being frustrating.

StickyBits

Anyone coming to this blog may notice a new barcode on the left side of every page. This is a StickyBits barcode that allows you to attach audio, video, text, images, and more to ANY barcode including the custom ones that can be generated via their website.

You are requested to scan this barcode with your phone (app available for free download to those with an iPhone or Android-based phone) and let us know how you got here.

Best Buy Software Installer: Win, or Fail?

Much of the tech reporting blogs and websites have already started to spread the word about the Best Buy Software Installer (“BBSI”), just days after some websites started making the claim that the Geek Squad Optimization service is a “Big Stupid Waste of Money”. But what some of these pundits may not know is what the BBSI is, or how it is supposed to radically change the way people buy computers today. I’ll try to break it all down.

Continue reading ‘Best Buy Software Installer: Win, or Fail?’


StickyBits

About

Hello! You've stumbled across the personal blog of Matt Van Dusen. I may vent about anything and everything here, and occasionally you'll see some intelligence...

Snippets:

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I’ve changed the options for Twitter Tools. Since I don’t tweet much, I’ve set up Twitter Tools to create a weekly post instead of a daily post. Should help a bit with some of the spam on the blog.

I’ll also be hiding posts after a certain amount of time, so if you don’t see a tweet that used to be here, it’s because it’s automatically been hidden. You can always see my tweets on Twitter (@mattfast1).

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That’s odd. I just noticed, Twitter Tools is putting the wrong date on my tweets. Today already has a post created, and today’s posts will show as tomorrow. That is, unless I change something. So, I just tweaked the settings so Twitter Tools will fire off the digest of my tweets at 11:59 PM, rather than 12:00 AM. Hopefully, that will address the problem. If not, I’ll have to find a different solution.

In other news, I’ve also added a script to my hosting account that will automatically loop through the database and close comments (but leave pingbacks open) on all Twitter Tools postings. All I get on those is comment spam anyway, easily weeded out by Spam Karma & Akismet.

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A wireless headset has many advantages over a wired one. One of which is the ability to hit the head late at night with other people in the house trying to sleep, but still rock out.

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Thanks to TweetDeck Support posterous for getting my issue with a blank TweetDeck after a fresh install fixed!

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My pages have apparently all reverted to posts with the latest database upgrade… please stand by while this problem is fixed.

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