Category Archives: GeekStuff


Praised be the Washington State Convention Center (Sakura-con)

Over the years I’ve seen and experienced random things at Sakura-con.

For those of you that have never heard of this con, it’s a conference that has been run in Seattle, WA – always on Easter weekend – for anyone that appreciates anime, manga, cosplay, video games, and Japanese culture. For example, they have a manga library, where anyone can stop in and read up for free. They have whole rooms dedicated to Go or trying on kimono and taiko drum demonstrations right next to the latest video games from Japan and other rooms filled classic consoles and CRTs. Anyone interested in attending the con just needs to buy a ticket: it’s not for professionals or industry folks and a ton of people come from out of state to spend three days geeking out over almost everything.

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Edge with no tabs

I’ve hated tabs before tabs were a thing. Back in “the day” most applications followed a design called the Multi-Document Interface ideal: you had one app window with a lot of document windows within it. If you’ve been around long enough, you will remember the day when apps like Word started opening individual documents with their own Word environment, ushering in the SDI (Single Document Interface) era which was sparked by Mosaic, Netscape, and Internet Explorer.

Then something went wrong. I know OS/2 had tabs. So did Lotus Notes. So does OneNote, which I love, but in all of these cases, they used tabs to logically split functional groups of controls. It wasn’t about keeping documents together. But now it’s 2018 and we have Edge, Chrome, and Firefox all offering tab bars that are auto-populating themselves with content that you can’t [ironically] ALT+Tab or Command+Tab to.

Recently, Edge has changed to that if I forget to hold down the Shift key when I click on a link, it opens in the same window or in a new tab. Rather than trying to remember holding down the key, I thought it would be best to have an Edge extension take care of this for me.

Edge with no tabs is pretty simple: any time Edge opens a new tab, it grabs the URL, opens a new window, and passes the URL to it. Then it cleans up the now abandoned tab. I also put this in the Microsoft Store so installing it is the same as any other extension, but I’ve included a direct link to it to save you time. Also, as with most of my projects these days, it’s an open source thing so you can check out the source as well!

Edge with no tabs 1.0: install | source code

Windows 10: Turn on SMB v1 for clean installs (starting with 1709)

Over the weekend, we got a new desktop in the house and as per usual, I blew away the bloated pre-installed image in favor for a clean install of Windows 10 Pro. Post install, I found 4 drivers that defaulted to the built-in Windows versions; clicking “Update driver” immediately reached out to Windows Update and I had a completed and successful install. Some time after that, Jolene mentioned that “Scan to network folder” from our HP printer wasn’t working and if I could take a look at it.

Six hours later I was ready to smash the desktop and the printer in short order. I considered peeing on the monitor for good measure. This note is to prevent the same problem from happening in the future.

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Thanks, CodePlex – Hello, GitHub

Looks like CodePlex is beginning it’s long ride off into the sunset! As part of that, people that have their source code in the TFS instance we being encouraged to migrate their projects to GitHub. It’s a pretty straightforward process and so I’ve been spending some time getting my existing source up there:

SharpKeys, for keyboard remapping: https://github.com/randyrants/sharpkeys

SharpMT, for blog writing: https://github.com/randyrants/sharpmt

Compile and enjoy!

RDC, DPI, and You

I recently became the proud owner of a Lenovo Yoga X1. This replaced my generation Lenovo X1 Carbon, which is only being retired because of some wonky video connections on the mini-DP port. Fine box otherwise even after three years.

One of the new features of the Yoga X1 – and there have been a bunch I didn’t even know about, like the Wacom-based pen! – is the extremely high resolution display at 2560×1440. While I love the concept of having so many lines of resolution, the laptop still have a 14″-or so screen, which means you almost have to start messing around with the font size, aka DPI. Being able to change the DPI value has been in Windows for a while, like I think Windows 95 or maybe even Windows 3.1. For decades I’ve left it alone. You see, for DPI to be useful, applications have to support it. In more modern applications – think .NET 2.0 and newer – this Just Works but for older apps it’s one of those things developers were supposed to do but almost never bothered with. Like bidi text or help systems.

With modern boxes with uber-big resolutions, keeping the DPI at 100% is nearly impossible. I’ve run 1920×1080 on a 15″ display with DPI set to 100% but trying to do 2560×1440 on a 14″ display isn’t going to work. The worst part of this is how the DPI changes have been impacting my Remote Desktop Connections.

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Rush’s 40th Anniversary Tour at KeyArena

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It’s not often that I put this much media in a blog post, so call this a special occasion. You see, it’s not every day you get to see Rush live. In fact, it’s been almost 20 years since I last saw them in concert. I always knew they couldn’t tour forever. I always said that I had to somehow get into the front row for one of their concerts. When I heard that this might be The Last Tour of this size for the Canadian Trio, I grabbed a fist full of cash and ran to Ticketmaster.

I stood in front of Geddy from the second row for the entire show. And it was worth every. Single. Fuckin’. Penny.

My only regret has been not going to see them in Portland two nights later but I have no way to get these kinds of tickets again.

Videos – and there are 33 of them! – are on YouTube and unlisted, so you’ll only find them from here.

You still here? Thanks! It gives me a chance to put a bow on this geekout I’m having, a full 24 hours after the show.

You see, the very first time I heard about Rush, it was from my mother. She was teaching at a middle school in 1980 and a group of “burn outs” walked by. My mother took me aside and said, “Don’t you be like those boys!” and pointed to a couple of the long haired boys that were wearing a jean jacket that had a red star in a circle and a naked man, painted on the back of it.

Moth, meet flame.

During high school a couple of friends and I started listening to the 70’s incarnation of Rush, with our interest stopping with Signals. In fact, I recall lamenting that “Spew Your Fire” was a waste of their talents. Of course, it was a poster from the Grace Under Pressure tour that educated me on the fact that there are just three guys in the band. And have only been three guys in the band. Oh and that guitar riff I love so much in YYZ? That’s from the bass player.

I don’t think I’ve ever recovered.

Sometime during high school, I moved up on from the heavier and artsy rock and moved into the 80’s version of the band, realizing that every four albums there’s a live one which somehow magically reboots the band. And now – as poor Geddy can likely attest to after standing in front of him for 3 hours – the entire catalog is forever percolating in my brain with pretty accurate recall of every fill, lyric, and standing out riff or bass slap. After college, I stuck with them through the re-mastering of the catalog and new discs as they came out.

I saw them for Presto, twice for Roll the Bones, twice for Counterparts, once for Test For Echo; two of those tours were kicked off in Connecticut so I saw them in the raw and again when they had tightened the show up. As I got older old I found that optical discs and streaming HD got me closer to the band compared to when I actually went to a show…

Until this show.

Boys, if you never tour again, enjoy the retirement and thanks for the memories.

GoPro: A Mini Review

I make no claims to understand a lot about photography. One the only things I’m certain of is that a good photographer can capture an awesome picture regardless of what technology they use and you can spend thousands of dollars on camera equipment and still take shitty pictures.

I had heard of GoPro before and said “Wow, that’s a pricy camera I don’t need.” I’m as removed from an athlete as I can be; the most extreme sport I participate in involves bacon and lunch. Neat device, but I said eh and moved on. Then one day I was at the park with Jolene and Kyle and I saw a 7 year old run by with a GoPro attached to his chest, with a harness. My head exploded. I thought this was the most amazing thing evar. Think about it: you put one of these things on your kid and you can show your kid what the world looked like when he was young. Three days later I had the required hardware in hand; almost three weeks later before I finally tried to set it up and was some time after that before we used it on Kyle…

Basically, about a week before the kid turned two, we put a GoPro on his chest and send him down Main Street at Disneyland.
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Console > PC

Fans of PC gaming chide me from time to time about why I game on a console (or hand held) rather than a PC…

Recently I saw that Rocksmith 2014 was on sale at newegg.com as a download. Since Jolene gave me the 360 version which came with a cable (and a new guitar!) I thought it would be neat to have the ability to move around the house with a laptop and play.

Some sales are more trouble than they’re worth but it’s good to have a modern reminder why consoles are simply better at all the things.
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