Tag Archives: work

Impressions After A Week in the New House

So we’ve been actually living at the new place for a week… and the fun just doesn’t end:

  • Having both sets of parents willing and able to help is huge.
  • Circa 1962 toilets don’t come out without a fight. They also don’t get picked up at the curb.
  • BOXES EVERYWHERE.
  • Whomever assigned rooms/outlets to circuit breakers in this house was either a certified genius or an authentic wacko. I’m going with the latter.
  • Two prong outlets are the devil.
  • There’s phone jacks every 5 feet in every room, yet coax in only 2 rooms. Total.
  • Buying a new/different house is just a licence to spend even more money on new/different stuff. Despite the fact you paid someone to move all your old stuff over here too.
  • MORE FURNITURE?!?!
  • MyLowes is a great name for their loyalty program, because it will indeed be Your Lowes by the time you buy 1 of everything in the store.
  • It’s fun having twice the space as the old house, yet cramming most of your stuff into one room so the downstairs floors can be replaced.
  • There’s such a thing as having too much flooring to replace.
  • I have my one-hour workout all set as far as mowing the lawn.
  • Goodbye bushes and shrubs on the side of the house!
  • The neighbors we’ve met so far have been awesome.
  • I know I made the joke too, but if I had a nickel for every time someone mentioned the Jeffersons…

Eric’s Top 10 Albums of 2010

Just quick and dirty. I found that a lot of the stuff I listened to this year wasn’t necessarily released this year. In alphabetical order, because I can’t be bothered to rank ’em. Enjoy!

10 Years – Feeding The Wolves – Quickly becoming one of my favorite rock bands, these guys made their third album a nice combo of the first two.
Alter Bridge – AB III – A great complete rock album, not necessarily as heavy as the other two, but “Isolation” rips.
Deftones – Diamond Eyes – Equal parts fury and calm, the Deftones keep putting out great albums.
The Doyle Brothers – Two Bros, One Box – Two of Buffalo’s finest put a nice spin on some classic tunes.
Filter – Trouble With Angels – Filter’s still kicking around, and this one was the best they’ve done in quite awhile.
His Name Was Yesterday – His Name Was Yesterday – A late entry, but growing on me with every listen. Will definitely get listened to a lot in 2011.
Kingdom of Sorrow – Behind The Blackest Tears – Jamey Jasta and Kirk Windstein sound like an unlikely pair, but this works, even more so than the first one.
Sevendust – Cold Day Memory – Can you tell Clint’s back (and back writing)? Easily their best since Seasons (although Alpha comes close).
Sixpin – 15/Vegas – “Make You” and “Take Me Down” oughta be on the radio already, but the “Pokerface” cover takes the cake.
Slash – Slash – Many more hits than misses, even with a different singer on each track. He even makes Fergie sound good.

Whirlwind Weekend!

And aren’t they all? This one kinda deserved more than just a 140-character twitter post, however. After bowing out early at Volleyball playoffs on Thursday night, work on Friday came and went before we hosted a shindig at our place Friday night. But not just any shindig, we had weekend guests! Carlo and his girlfriend Sumner came up from Virginia for the weekend to hang out and enjoy themselves some Upstate New York. Matt, Lisa and Ian came over for dinner as well, so we had a deckful on a beautiful night. Good times catching up with friends, who in both cases we haven’t seen often enough!

Saturday was our road trip day, and we gave Sumner the “Upstate in a nutshell” tour: Breakfast at Tim Horton’s, a stop at the RIT bookstore, then a Seneca Lake Wine Tour! We drove down to Glenora and worked our way back up the lake, and had a blast in the process. Besides the winery, we also stopped at the only Finger Lakes “Weinery”, R.E.D.’s Hots, which was damn good. Not quite a garbage plate, but we got close! After Fox Run, our last stop, we chilled at home for a bit, and then hit our next classic Rochester destination, MacGregors. Same as it ever was, good beers, good food! (Pork Triple Threat Sandwich, thank you! Pulled pork, sliced ham, bacon, and BBQ sauce on a cibatta roll. DAY-UM.) We tooled around the city for a little bit after that, winding through downtown, East End, Park Ave, etc. just to show off the sights. A full day to be sure!

Sunday was an easy morning, and for lunch the last Rochester landmark, DiBella’s. Carlo hadn’t seen the new Italian Market on Jefferson, so we blew his mind with that 🙂 We then sent Carlo and Sumner off on their way back to DC after a full enough weekend, but I wasn’t done yet… Rockstar Uproar Tour at Darien Lake with Pete and Jerry! Disturbed, A7X, Stone Sour, Halestorm, Hellyeah and a couple others. That review will be up shortly, but we did some tailgating, rocked ourselves out, and I got pretty close to the front of the side stage for Hellyeah, and caught a drumstick from the legendary Vinnie Paul! Got some big props from Hellyeah’s Tom Maxwell for sporting an old-school Nothingface shirt also, which made my day.

This morning I got to deconstruct the tournament from yesterday at work, so no workout needed today!

The Computer Upgrade

It’s gonna get geeky up in here…

It’s been quite awhile since a full-fledged computer upgrade. The last one was around 2004, when I finally moved from a PII-450 to a nifty 1.8Ghz AthlonXP2500+ that Dad got me for my birthday. I’ve put a bunch of different parts in that rig over the years, more RAM, better video cards, etc., but as a main rig, it was beyond time to get something better. That and Windows 7 just didn’t agree with this box. It would run fine for an hour or two, sometimes three, then bluescreen and reboot. Highly annoying. So over the past weekend I did the great computer case shuffle, clearing what used to be my server (the 1Ghz PIII) out of its case, and stuffing the Athlon in there for Tiff’s use in the newly-moved office/craft room. As an aside, the Athlon rig has been rock solid after putting XP Pro back on it, so it was definitely software-related bluescreens, not a hardware/Power Supply issue. The 1Ghz needs a case now, and that’ll eventually live in the garage where it will replace the Compaq Celeron 633Mhz that needs to be put down.

Once again Mom & Dad were the catalyst with a gift card from Newegg. I’ve actually had a bunch of stuff picked out for a month or so, sitting in a wishlist, hemming and hawing over pulling the trigger. So the GC put me over the hump and I revamped. Since anything I got was going to be a vast improvement, I didn’t go balls-out, just economical. The Antec SX830 case Dad got me originally is really nice, so that remained, but I completely gutted it (save for the hard drive) and started over. First up, CPU and motherboard. After poking around Newegg, checking out their deals vs. ratings, I decided on a Dual-Core Pentium chip (E5200 Wolfdale 2.5Ghz), as it was a bit cheaper than a Core 2 Duo, and the associated mobo’s weren’t as expensive either. The mobo is a Gigabyte GA-G41M-ES2L, which as a Micro-ATX board makes the case look cavernous. It got pretty solid reviews, so I trust it’ll work as well for me. Next up, RAM. The board supports 8GB, but I don’t really need that much at this point, so I bought 4GB and got a set of 2x2GB Dual Channel G.Skill sticks. All my video cards were AGP, so had to get a video card too, and found a nice, cheap 512MB Radeon 4350 that has HDMI out. Finally, I needed a power supply for all this good stuff, and this Corsair 400W supply seemed to fit the bill. The parts showed up at work on Monday afternoon, and it was a tough wait until the end of the day, just looking at the boxes and not being able to put it together!

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As I’m wont to do with new, relatively expensive electronics, I put everything in slowly and deliberately. I wasn’t prepared for the fact that the mobo had pins instead of the CPU, and that it’s not socketed per se, but the pins make contact with the pads on the CPU, which is just kinda forced down by the spreader, lever, and heatsink/fan. (I actually looked up a video Intel had online about installing the CPU, because I didn’t want to crush anything!) Everything else was far less nerve racking, and after I got everything assembled, amazingly enough, it powered on and fired up the first time out. I’m usually not that lucky, something’s inevitably plugged in wrong, not plugged in, etc.

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The OS installation proved to be a bit trickier than the hardware was, as working with Windows 7 gets a little interesting. I had initially purchased a download version of Win7 Pro through the Digital River college promotion , and that was installed and activated. I jumped through some hoops to create an ISO out of the download I got, and used that disc first. It installed just fine, save for the fact that it’s the 32-bit version, and I want the 64-bit version. Oops. Since Digital River had so many issues with the downloads, activation, different versions and the like, they made available an ISO that contains both x32 and x64 kernels. So I wiped and re-installed with that one. I go to put my (legit) key in, and it spits it back at me saying its the wrong SKU. Because this ISO loads as Home Premium, and my key is for Pro. Oops. After some reading, I discovered that the install will let you continue without putting a key in at all, it’ll just die after 30 days when you don’t activate it. So now that I was able to continue, I determined that it indeed installed the 64-bit version, it’s just that it’s Home Premium, and it’s key-less and not activated.

Now what? Well, Microsoft did something smart this time around. All Win7 media has all versions included in the same image, they’re just unlocked by whatever key you have (and all keys will work for either x32 or x64, thankfully), which allows them to offer something called Anytime Upgrade. Clicking the appropriate applet in the Control Panel prompts you to put in your “upgrade key”. I figured I’d give my Pro key a shot, and sure enough, the machine went through the motions, rebooted a couple times, and when the dust settled I had a 64-bit Win7 Pro install. Go to activate it online… “Sorry Eric, I can’t let you do that.” Since it had been activated once already, it surely wasn’t going to let me do it again. And there’s no way to deactivate Win7 off the first machine before installing it on a different one anyway. What they make you do is call an automated system, then tell the nice computer lady the seven blocks of six digits that show up in the activation app. The system then asks how many computers you have this copy of Win7 installed on. I’m guessing the only right answer here is “one”, which is what I said (is that legally binding?). It then gives you a different batch of digits to punch into the activation app, click OK, and PRESTO, my one and only, LEGAL, Win7 Pro installation is ready to rock.

I can avoid the Anytime Upgrade thing in the future by making another copy of that ISO without the ei.cfg file, which is the only thing that tells the install which version it’s supposed to be. This allows you to use any valid key, and install anything from Home Basic to Ultimate off of the same disc. Activation should be less painful if I ever have to reinstall because the hardware won’t have significantly changed.

So that’s the story so far, now it’s on to the endless configuring, tweaking, and general getting-stuff-the-way-I-want-it. Reloading the basics is made MUCH easier thanks to a website called ninite.com, which lets you select which apps you want to install, then rolls a small little installer which you download and run. This installer simutaneously downloads and installs all the apps in one shot. This is mega handy for re-installs!

Cold, But I'm Still Here

(With apologies to Evans Blue…)

So the online presence has suffered a bit while we recovered from the holidays. I worked Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, all of which were relatively slow days (I mean, see the monkey? He was chill.). 8 hours of holiday pay on New Years Eve, during the day, was nice. Not like anything goes on during the day anyway, revelry-wise. We kept the night low-key, Pat and Jodi came over for a ton of snacks, good beers, the USA-Canada World Juniors game, some Wii, board games, (oh yeah, the ball drop!), and we called it a night watching the South Park movie. After we awoke in the morning, we soldiered on with our now-annual New Years Day tradition of going to brunch at Cracker Barrel. We started this last year when Dave and Michaela stayed over and suggested it, and this year we continued with Pat, Jodi, Tiff and I meeting Dave and Michaela there for another old-fashioned American fill-your-face-fest. Dayyum!

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After we rolled out of there, Tiff and I came home and started to deconstruct the house a little bit. Putting gifts away, cleaning up, etc. In anticipation of my new computer parts arriving soon (Thanks Mom & Dad for the Newegg GC!), I swapped out the guts of my main rig into another case and re-installed Windows and some apps. (For those scoring at home, the main tower case in the basement is getting the new parts, the AthlonXP went into what used to be the server and now lives in the office, and the old server parts (a 1Ghz P3) are awaiting a case of their own, anyone got an empty ATX case they don’t care about?) All while watching the Winter Classic! Fenway was a great venue, and obviously the last five minutes were the best, but another good job by the league, and by USA Hockey to capitalize on the day by announcing the US Olympic team after the game. After dinner, we watched the Sabres come from behind on the Thrashers, and laid low.

Saturday was more decoration removal, and the start of our winter-time spring cleaning. Kinda went through a bunch of stuff and figured out what we don’t need. Ventured out in the afternoon to do a couple of returns, grab some lunch, and pick up some groceries. Tiff made Spiedies for dinner, we had some nice wine (and some not-so-nice wine!) and then watched one of Tiff’s movies that she received for Christmas. That being the horrifically-bad House IV. So bad it never made it to DVD. I fell asleep and missed all but the beginning and ending 10 minutes. Apparently I didn’t miss anything.

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Sunday I got up early to feed the cat, moved the Ethernet cable and access point from the swapped guest room to the new office, replaced an outlet, helped Tiff rearrange the kitchen, and kinda watched the Bills game. Picked up some other odds and ends, watched the Sabres game, shoveled the driveway, ate dinner, we folded a mountain of laundry, then watched most of the Jets-Bengals game. I thought I scored a sweet deal at Sears online on a snowblower, but it was too good to be true and the order got canceled before it even got out of the gate. Them’s the breaks I guess.

Back to work this morning, and my parts from Newegg arrived, so I’ll be putting most of the new rig together tonight, but I can’t finish because the power supply shipped from California instead and doesn’t get here until tomorrow. Bummer. It’ll look pretty, though! More on that when it’s together and up and running. Promise.

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The Holiday Silly Season

As I write this, the whirlwind Christmas season has come to a close (can’t really say the holidays, as New Years is still ahead of us.), and what a season we had this year. Work ended on Tuesday night, followed up by volleyball. On Wednesday, we made the colossal Wegmans run, prepped the house for the ensuing visitors, and got a good night’s sleep. Woke up Thursday morning, got some last minute wrapping done, and we welcomed Mom and Dad S. to the house. We got them settled, then made another Weggie’s run to get the catering and some last-minute stuff. Came back home, and Tiff and her mom went to work in the kitchen getting food for dinner and Christmas Day ready. We had a very nice dinner and celebrated Tiff’s father’s birthday. Opened a couple stocking stuffers at night to get in the Christmas spirit, and called it a night rather early in anticipation of Christmas Day.

We got the house ready, Tiff and Mom got the food ready, and then the Bonus/Kowalenko caravan rolled in around 12:45. We got them unloaded and in, and commenced with the food, drink, and merriment! Tons of snacks, Amanda’s buffalo wing dip, some good beers, getting full even before dinner. We packed 15 people into the house, and that’s about our limit! We opened a couple gifts, then had Grandma’s perogies and Dad’s mushroom soup as appetizers. Gotta move some of the old traditions to our place! Opened a couple more gifts, and then it was time for the big dinner. Ham, squash, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, etc. Excellent. After everyone digested and had their fill, we filled up even more with cookies and the cheesecake my aunt and uncle brought. It was awesome to have everyone up to our place, and thankfully the weather held out so driving for everyone wasn’t a factor. A wonderful Christmas, and for our first time hosting, it went really well.

What to do the day after Christmas? Why, go shopping of course! We hit a couple places in Henrietta, then after lunch at the Distillery and a quick detour to Beers of the World, we trucked out to Eastview to get our shop on. The mall was packed, even more so than any mall I saw before Christmas. A jaunt back to Barnes and Noble in Pittsford, then back home for a dinner of the best leftovers from the night before. Still tasted great. For the nightcap, Tiff and her parents watched the latest Harry Potter movie while I watched the Sabres lose.

We got up early the next morning, and grabbed a really good breakfast at Peppermints on W. Henrietta Rd. Yum. We saw Tiff’s parents off, cleaned up the house a bit, then Pat and Jodi came over. We did our little gift exchange, and went out for a big late lunch at Sticky Lips. One BBQ platter later, we rolled out of there and came back to the house and visited for a little bit. We saw Pat and Jodi off, and then I saw myself off to Buffalo to meet Adam and hit up the Every Time I Die Christmas show at Mohawk Place. Since that didn’t start ’til 9, we grabbed some dinner and pre-gamed a bit at the Thirsty Buffalo on Elmwood. Had a good time there, watched the Jets prevent the Colts from going undefeated, and watched the Sabres beat the Blues. We trekked down to Mohawk, met my buddy Art, and had a great time hanging out at the show. Thankfully, I only had to drive back to NT, not Rochester, and Dad was still up to greet me!

Slept in a bit, putzed around in the morning, and then Dad and I grabbed some lunch at Ted’s (mmm, Char-Broiled hotdogs!) before I bounced back to Rochester and Dad took off for the office. Got back home, lounged a bit, made a Weggie’s run, and after dinner I organized the basement, watched some hockey, I’m still watching some football, and barring some disaster, I’ll win my second straight fantasy football title! Not looking forward to getting ready to head back to work tomorrow, but I do have volleyball tomorrow night though, so that oughta be the usual rip-roaring good time! Working Wednesday and Thursday also, and then New Years Eve festivities…

Show Us Pictures!

As I’m wont to do, I got bored and revamped how the pictures on the site are displayed. All the photo galleries are now hosted with Google, on Picasa Web Albums. The ease of use, coupled with the auto-upload and sync when using Picasa on the desktop is what led me away from Gallery2. I’m also now using Lightbox and a WordPress-to-Picasa plugin called Shashin to make everything look pretty and work together (hopefully) seamlessly. There will most likely be some broken photo links in the archives and concert pages as I work backward to update all those pages. I just can’t leave well enough alone!

We had an early Christmas dinner in Elmira/Horseheads over the weekend, and had lunch with Rebecca and Joel as well, so we started our holiday cheer a bit early. Two days of work, and then a couple of days off to go berserk with Christmas stuff! The Bonus house is gonna be controlled chaos, as we’re hosting Christmas Day for the first time. Can’t wait to fill the house with people, food, and good cheer!

My Girl Wants To Party All The Time

We had quite the weekend…

Tiff’s work Christmas party was Friday night; we had an excellent dinner at the Rabbit Room in Honeoye Falls, and had a great time with the KJT crew. We also had an after-party of sorts at the Masonic Lodge with poker, board games and the like. A very fun night.

Saturday we swapped the guest room and the office, as the old guest room was right over the garage, and as such was easily the coldest room in the house. We had to deconstruct the desk, take everything out of the bookcases, take down and reassemble the bed, and shuffle everything around. The new guest room was pretty much completed, and we laid out the big furniture in the new office, and left the rest in shambles until we get to it. I also moved the main PC down in the basement and sorta rearranged the “man-cave” a little. After all that, a little shopping, and then preparation for our little holiday shindig that we hosted Saturday night. We had a number of friends over, watched some hockey, played some board games, indulged in a little food, beer and wine (um, yeah, a little.), and overall had a great time. Thanks to all that came, brought something, ate something, drank some more, etc. Good times!

Needless to say, we had a late night, which makes for a late morning. A lot of lounging, a little errand-running, and a lot more lounging. Lazy Sunday indeed.