Category Archives: GeekStuff


You didn’t Hear that? No? I did. It’s the sound of a big inhale before the chaos begins… it’s the calm before the storm.

Actually, that might not be entirely true… the first bit of the storm has already hit with the announcement of Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 this morning. Some time after that, Xbox is going to release our recent Preview this week, to people that signed up for it; that bring Facebook, Twitter,, and Zune Marketplace to 360 users. And then on the 22nd, Windows 7 hits retail shelves; that unleashes every OEM that has been sitting on new machine models, waiting for 7 to ship. That includes ION based netbooks, allowing the tiny models to play HD video without breaking a sweat. Also likely to improve on the Atom CPU as well… Add to that Apple and Google’s intention to start new ad campaigns on the 22nd, to steal 7’s thunder…

Yes, it’s going to be a very, very busy and exciting week – who says all storms are bad?

Props to the Windows Team

I’ll go on record with this comment: Wow… that actually just worked.

Retiring my last Vista box didn’t go as smoothly as I thought it did. Windows 7 installed fine: every device I had in the thing was auto-supported… the machine was built in 2007 with all brand name parts, but even so… there’s usually a rogue driver that’s required on a repave. No, the reason I was up until 2:30 this morning was caused by something completely non-OS related…

One single password.
Continue reading Props to the Windows Team

Windows 7: Allowing Access to C$

After recently installing Windows 7, I found that I was unable to access the “default admin shares” for my local drives, namely \\ME\C$. I was able to see the machine on my local network, so I know that the firewall wasn’t the problem. If I shared out something explicitly, I could see that from other machines as well: File Sharing was turned on. On other networks, I know that I’ve been able to access the C$ share from other machines, so the functionality was still there, but likely just turned off.

From, I found a registry setting that would allow this. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System, add a new DWORD called LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy and set its value to 1 and reboot. Want to revert? Delete the key or set it 0.

I must have done this for Vista as well, but I don’t remember doing it… either way, it works. And this was the “last” box. All of my machines are Windows 7 64-bit including VM’s and Bootcamp partitions. My Lenovo S10 had to settle for the 32-bit version of Windows 7 because Atom didn’t like the x64 version. The only other OS I see daily is from a couple of servers which are Windows 2008 (and awaiting an R2 installation).

And so Vista slips away …as XP, 2000, NT, 98, 95, and 3.11 did before it.

Xbox LIVE NXE Update

The update has been available to the world for the last six hours. I missed the actually releasing of the bits because I was home, dreaming in colored code.

As most people know, I have been working on Avatar Marketplace for a while.  There was some rumblings about it, when E3 was going on, and as I was testing out the feature, my Avatar picked up some never before seen swag. This morning I woke up to and popped online, to see how things were in the Store and, well, holy shit.  There’s a lot more stuff up there than I knew about!  Gears of War 2 armor.  Halo 3: ODST armor.  The helmets from Big Daddy’s in Bioshock 2.  Basketballs, pom-poms, and soccer balls.  Even a light saber from The Clone Wars.  The that made me go “oh” though was Big Daddy Doll Prop that you can carry around the blades with you.


Windows 7: How To Prepare A Thumb Drive

This is mostly for me, so that I don’t have to keep looking up the long winded discussion about why this works – I just need to remember the steps.

    Prep a USB thumb drive for booting

  1. list disk – look for the thumb drive
  2. select disk # – use the # of the thumb drive
  3. clean – wipe all disk information
  4. create partition primary – create a new partition
  5. active – set the partition active
  6. format fs=fat32 quick – quick format for FAT32
  7. assign – give it a drive letter

If you’re looking for the long winded discussions, use the search icon next to the title.

Is iPhone 3.0 Software SIM Unlocked?

Before you answer “no” have you actually tried it on either an already activated phone or a non-activated iPhone with the 3.0 software (meaning 3GS, out of the box.)

Jolene has a non-3G, non-iPhone SIM that is with AT&T that previously didn’t work in:

– 2G iPhone with 1.x or 2.x software

– 3G iPhone with 2.x software

Tonight on a whim, I popped her non-3G, non-iPhone SIM into my 3G iPhone which has the 3.0 software and it worked. Made calls, received calls, called into VM fine (since it’s not enabled for Visual Voicemail.) I then put her SIM into my 3GS and it worked there too. On a further whim, I put in an old non-connected T-Mobile SIM… the iPhone did not reject it. Obviously I couldn’t place a call but in the past I had gotten a “this is an unauthorized SIM” message. I even went ahead and wiped the 3G iPhone clean and put the SIM in: worked there as well.

And so the questions in my head are:

– Does this only work on purpose or is this a bug in the 3.0 firmware?

– Has anyone activated a 3GS with a non-AT&T SIM?

– If not, does this only work on activated phones?

Or is this breaking news and I was the first guy to stumble into it?

Atoms Aren’t All Atoms

Joey deVilla: Fast Food Apple Pies and Why Netbooks Suck

A very interesting read on netbooks and why having something in the middle of established form factors can suck. In fact, I’ve made some of these same arguments when talking against tablet PC’s that didn’t have a convertable keyboard option with them. Way too slow to write everything down if you can type 120wpm on a keyboard. Similarly I’ve argued against email on phones in the past because tapping out full paragraphs with a stylus, on-screen keyboard, or physical keyboards (a la Dash) is just far too painful to make it useful. Why shouldn’t a new device or form factor fill this void?

And so enters the netbook, which very often has a small screen with a miniscule resolution and as little as 85% of a full size keyboard… why would I like these restrictions, considering that I bought a Lenovo S10 in the past? Well, for quick meetings at work they are pretty freakin’ great. For watching movies, they are pretty good. For coding and gaming, it’s fair. For having portable “hard drive” that can have my entire PC experience and preferences in a 2.43 pound package that will drive Aero on Windows 7 [RC] and project HD resolutions to external monitors, it’s great…

Wait, movies, coding, and gaming on a notebook? Yes, I said that. You haven’t had that experience? That’s because all Atoms are not the same chip…
Continue reading Atoms Aren’t All Atoms

And Now For Something Completely Different

As most people that have an Xbox knows, Xbox LIVE is currently down.

While the scheduled maintenance is going on, my team (and group) are tasked with verifying that all things are right in the world of LIVE before LIVE is turned back on… so yes, for this brief moment in time, my job is about playing games at work for test purposes. It doesn’t happen often, but since it’s happening today, I thought I’d fulfill everyone else’s expections of what my daily job life is supposed to be like… sadly, I spent very little time testing games at work – when we do play at work, it’s only for fun.

To keep the people of the Xbox LIVE machine humming happily, I present to the world the current contents of my office refrigerator:

Yes – that is a lot of wings and we will be using them all day and night!

Xbox LIVE Update: The New Digs

I remember going to the Microsoft Millennium campus for first the first time, three years ago. At the time, I was working as an SDET for MSDN and they were just coming off a ship cycle for some online work as well as Visual Studio 2005… I was interviewing at a couple of different places at the time. One was the team that did the Sidebar and Calendar for Vista. Another was going to do some other incubation work within the company. I also interviewed with an internal shared technology for Microsoft Game Studios called Tools and Technologies. When I got to their building in Millennium, I remember walking into the “old Bungie space” – they had just moved to Kirkland that year – and stopped dead in my tracks at what I was seeing: they were in cubes.

Over the years, the TnT group re-orged within the company, taking on new roles and tasks as we went, until we eventually became part of Xbox LIVE last year. This past weekend, my team moved from the Millennium campus to the newest and most contemporary campus within the Microsoft world: Studios West.

While I’m not back in a proper office – the Xbox LIVE team has opted for Open Offices which is still a cube – the new digs are just absolutely jaw dropping… keep reading for some pics from the Commons today.
Continue reading Xbox LIVE Update: The New Digs

Wii Fit: Mini-update

It seems that putting a fourth generation Japanese woman onto a Wii fit with a kawaii dressed-as-a-penguin Mii will cause her to burst out into what could easily be any average conversation from Akihabara… I think Nintendo has tapped into something primal here.

So, yes, you can give a Wii fit without insult, even on Valentine’s Day. I’m sure the flowers helped too – always good to have a backup plan.

The best comment Jolene has made while standing on the Wii Fit? Well, in English, I mean…

“Wow, these graphics suck – why aren’t they as good as the 360?”

If Bedlam Means “Accidental” Sale, I’m All For It

c|net: Bedlam breaks out at Circuit City After Best – Buy mega-stored Circuit City to oblivion, the hapless retailer has quickly gone to pieces. On Friday, Circuit City said it was liquidating all of its stores. Then, on Saturday, there was a big liquidation sale at my local Circuit City–up to 30 percent off. The checkout line was almost as long as the lines you encounter on a typical Saturday at Fry’s–the mostly California- and Texas-based sprawling electronics warehouse. (The line actually snaked to the back of the store.)

I was witness to something similar: Jolene and I leeringly went to the Circuit City in Bellevue and poked our heads in, seeing as I’ve been lurking around for a new camera and she for a new TV. The line for the front registers went straight to the back and people were everywhere yet not a “SALE” sign in sight. I asked a guy in line: what’s the sale like? “20% off games and movies; 10% off everything else.” Based on that, the TV’s and cameras were actually more expensive than most other stores: regular price – 10% = more than an average online or sale price for electronics.

On a whim, we wandered into the computer section… number of notebooks were still in stock. Including some Lenovo S10; their in stock model sells for $399 online and they had over ten of them in stock… I’ve been thinking about getting a netbook – and Jolene has been dying for one – so I said “ah, it’s still pricy, but no sales tax… I’ll get one and see what Windows 7 does on it.” Looked in a few corners to find a guy to help out – he brings it to a register in the back, so I didn’t have to wait in line. Asked him to tell me the price before swiping the Visa – he puts in $269.

I had to go find Jolene after seeing this, but first I had to push my eyes back in. I found them rolling around near the KVM switches, popped them back in, and ended up with each of us getting our own. Seems that the kid thought the regular price was $299 – even 30% off $399 isn’t $269… 10% off $299 is. So, after getting screwed by Circuit City for so many years – including many stabs in the spleen by a 10% restocking fee on unopened box returns (damned buyer’s remorse from my late teens) – I’m feeling rather satisfied that I finally got a sale priced item from them.

Damn shame their best sale is their last – I would have started shopping there again.

Mission Accomplished


Yes, after ten years of looking at the back of coins in three different homes in two states, I have a complete of [moderately good conditioned] state-backed quarters, in a very Geeky paper coin holder thingy. I only need another five to have two more complete sets, but those are hanging out in a Ziplok bag.

Anyone else keep up with this? Most people I know dropped off by the second year…