on this, the last day of employment

today is the last day that i will be employed at my company. the company is shutting down its doors, liquidating its assets (i mean everything!) and disappearing for good. it is time, as they say, for the fat lady to sing.

this will be the first company that i leave where i leave not quite so much on my own terms. every company prior to this company i left because i had tendered my resignation. i left because i couldn’t stand the management, couldn’t stand the people, or couldn’t stand working there anymore. maybe it was that i didn’t believe in the product, maybe it was because i couldn’t stay working there, maybe it was just too far.

whatever the case may be, this is the first time where i haven’t quit. it’s the first time that i will be receiving a severance package (cool!) and it is the first time where a bunch of us are leaving on the same day.

i’m left with some mixed emotions. i’m sad because i really enjoyed the technology that i got to work on while here. i’m sad because i genuinely enjoyed working with the people that i worked with while here. and most of all, i just enjoyed going to work every day. towards the end, things started to feel a little tense. some people felt that we weren’t working quite as hard as we could have, but what motivation do we really have? maybe we weren’t quite as responsive as we could have, but the tone in some of the conversations that were taking place was completely unnecessary and frankly were quite upsetting. but at the end of the day, here we are, closing the doors.

but there are some things that i’m happy about. i’m glad and thankful that i have been able to secure employment elsewhere and that i don’t have to worry about money, making mortgage payments, and the like. i am happy that i am getting a severance package. fantastic. i am happy that i was given the opportunity to work here, to manage a great team, and develop some cool stuff. i’ve had some great experiences here and i will always take those with me.

it’s been a great ride. it’s time to move on to better things!

hacking the tomtom

there is not very good documentation on how to hack the tomtom. it took me a lot longer to understand what i needed to do than it really should of. i’m not sure if this is because it was late at night last night and i was tired or if it was because the documentation i was reading was bad. tomtom runs on am embedded linux platform, so there is all sorts of cool things that you can do.

the easiest thing to do is to have custom menus. the default menus for toimtom are pretty good and i’m used to them now so making a change to the menus can actually be counterproductive to my productivity.

the next obvious thing to do is install a better mp3 player on your tomtom. i’m trying out the tomplayer which seems to be the most mature product so far, but i’m going to take a look at a few others to see what i like the most.

if you are thinking about hacking your tomtom (i’m hacking the tomtom go 720), you can read on after the fold. otherwise, it’s gonna be a boring post for the rest of you.

Continue reading hacking the tomtom

making the plunge to 64-bit vista

after fooling around with vista basic and mac os x, i’ve finally settled on 64-bit vista. it might not seem like a big deal, but a 64-bit version of windows makes quite a bit of a difference for me. this, however, is not necessarily a good thing.


  • all 4GB of memory that i’ve bought for this laptop can be fully addressed
  • if running 64-bit software, there’s potentially a performance boost


  • 64-bit drivers are STILL not necessarily readily available for all of your hardware
  • there isn’t a lot of native 64-bit software yet

    what this really boils down to is whether or not you can find drivers for your hardware. for me, it’s been a mostly mixed bag. i cannot find 64-bit drivers for the touchpad made by dell. synaptics makes a driver, but there is no support for an emulated middle click. this absolutely kills me.

    vmware server does not support a 64-bit OS. their paid product vmware workstation does, but man, server doesn’t. this was almost enough for me to give up 64-bit vista. but i really wanted to make use of all of the memory that i bought. paul told me to use virtual pc which does work…for the most part. video support for X doesn’t work out of the box, but it does install an OS.

    trying to find 64-bit software is pretty difficult. firewall was one of the bigger challenges for me at first. my firewall of choice, zonealarm, does not produce a 64-bit version of their software. comodo firewall pro however does work and works fine for me. it’s better than the windows firewall, so i guess it’ll have to do.

    antivirus support is still handled by avast, thankfully. it looks like avast uses a hybrid approach to scan for viruses, so a big part of the engine is still run in 32-bit mode. how much of a performance impact this is, i’m not sure. i haven’t noticed anything.

    the bulk of the rest of my applications are still 32-bit though. everything seems to work for the most part. video drivers were manually updated from laptopvideo2go. that definitely made things more stable on the video front, but still the drivers are a little buggy from time to time. when vista first came out, i read an article that nvidia was responsible for nearly 25% of all vista crashes. crazy, huh?

  • new lamp for the DLP tv

    it’s been several years now and with all of the heavy tv watching that i’ve done, i decided to go into the service menu and see how many hours of tv i have watched. it turns out that i’ve watched over 3800 hours of tv with this bulb. they say that the average lamp life of a samsung dlp tv is between 2000-4000 hours. kind of a big range there, eh? well, the brightness of the lamp has significantly decreased and it looks like it’s time to replace the bulb. i’m going to try to do the lamp install myself, it doesn’t look like it is that complicated. pictures to follow when i do it! i found the lamp for sale on ebay for considerably cheaper than other stores online. if you need to buy a DLP lamp, try ebay!1

    this brings up the big question about whether or not i should buy a new tv or just get the lamp replaced. the problem is that i have a tv cubby the exact size of my current 46″ TV. the cubby makes it difficult to put a flat screen tv on the wall, so i think that it makes the most sense to just replace the bulb for $120 instead of buying a new $900 tv. besides, i should save my money towards the projector that i’m going to get. ah, yes, the joys of the projector will soon be realized. i can’t wait!

    i haven’t made the projector order yet, i wasn’t able to place the order before i went on the camping trip and now i just don’t know why i’m shy about pulling the trigger. i think that i’ve done all of the research that i need to do and i’m pretty confident about my decision. i’m excited.

    1. i used a seller called river valley electronics []

    we’re in the last week!

    this is the last work week of the company that i’m working it. in just a couple of days, it will be shut down, never to be seen again. needless to say that there is actually very little work that needs to be done around here because we’ve pretty much closed shop.

    i have committed to be around to help train someone who will stick around and babysit servers and shut things down gracefully. my employment ends at the end of the month as well as pretty much everyone except one busdev person and the hired gun to close up shop.

    i anticipate that my training session won’t last very long and once i’m done with that, that will be the last thing that i’m responsible to do. luckily, there are only three days left of work including today, so i suspect that there are not many people who are going to be showing up.

    in fact, we have been asked to submit our laptops already earlier this week. once i submit my laptop, i don’t know what i am going to do with myself at the office. it’s not like i can do ANYTHING without my laptop. i can’t even kill time effectively.

    i start my next job next week, so no rest inbetween. kind of a bummer, but oh well. it’s not like i’m working very hard right now… =P

    a wide angle weekend

    this weekend a bunch of us went to emerald bay state park for a camping weekend. there was good food, good times, and some good photography. on this trip, i packed with me two lenses. originally, i wanted to only shoot with the wide angle lens, but i was afraid that i wouldn’t be able to deal with the distortion on the 17-40mm, so i also brought along the trusty 24-70mm.

    i had forgotten how much i loved the 17-40mm. just how wide is 17mm? well, let’s just say that it is not so wide that i got my feet in any of my shots, but i did struggle to make sure that my shadow wasn’t in the shot…especially the shadow that my camera cast on the subject when i tried to get really close to it.

    i used to think that the canon 17-40mm f/4L was fantastically sharp. i also used to think that the 17-40mm didn’t have a lot of distortion. this is the first time that i’ve taken pictures with the 17-40mm on the 5D. on a full frame camera, this puppy is WIDE. it isn’t horribly soft, but it’s not as tack sharp as the 24-70mm. yes, there is tons of distortion and i really need to mind what i’m shooting or else it’s going to look horribly distorted.

    all that said, MAN, this lens is fantastically contrasty. great contrast, great coverage, and it’s just hard to take a picture out of focus with this thing. i found a dust spot on my camera, so i’m going to need to clean the sensor soon. i think i’ll take a before and after photo when i do it.

    it is really, REALLY hard to take macro pictures with this lens. it involves a lot of aggressive cropping. =P

    it was a lot of fun to force myself to shoot the weekend wide, though.

    netmeter stopped working

    netmeter is a fantastic windows bandwidth monitoring tool. i have been using it for years now. but just the other day it stopped working. i thought that at first it was because i installed vmware and the virtual network interfaces were giving it some problems, but it turns out that it was actually the network interface that the bluetooth drivers i installed for my USB bluetooth receiver as well as the virtual network interfaces made by vmware.

    i disabled all of the other interfaces and i’m able to see bandwidth stats again.

    a couple of toys

    after hearing about the company shutting down, it put a hold on a lot of purchases that i have been considering for a long time now. these are purchases that i probably would have made if the company wasn’t going to shut down, but now that i’ve secured a new job, have a severance package, and am set, it’s time to splurge just a little.

    the first thing that has been on my mind for a long time has been a projector. yes, a projector, a screen, and all of the joy that comes with it will be fantastic, but the big question is how big should i go? ah, that question has been tormenting for me a long time now. originally, i was thinking about going the 720p route. the projectors are all pretty inexpensively priced and it just seems like a fantastic idea. after thinking long and hard about it, i think that this is going to be one of the first times that i splurge and get something outside of the normal value purchases that i usually make. i’m gonna go big with a 1080p projector.

    originally, i wanted something like a 100″+ screen, but i have decided that for the distance that i am working with, that’s probably bigger than i can really handle. i’ve narrowed it down to an 84″ screen. still big, but not a monstrosity.

    yeah, i think i’m going to take the plunge and get the new iphone. it sounds like christi can get a pretty decent discount on it, so as soon as it is available, i’m going to take the plunge. some friends of mine just got it and they had to wait in line for 3 hours at the valley fair apple location. people are STILL waiting that long to get their iphone?? nuts. i’m going to wait a few more weeks.

    adam has told me that he’s looking into developing for the iphone. it seems like that’s a hot place to be right now for a niche market, but you need a mac to develop for the iphone and i just don’t have me one of those!

    no one in the office

    i wasn’t planning on going into the office today. i woke up this morning and felt that i had the start of a dreadful cold that may last the rest of this week and would have to use the remaining sick days i have, but there was some work that i was asked to do when i checked my blackberry so i ended up going into the office.

    there is no one else from the company in the office. this is great news because that means that i have half of the entire building all to myself. this, by itself, is no big deal. what is a big deal is that that means that i also have the office’s internet connection all to myself.

    this comes in good time because i needed to download the latest CentOS and VMWare server products and i couldn’t think of a better way to download it than at the office. it’s far faster here than at home. the office only has 2 T1’s, so i’m sure that people with fiber or cable are scoffing at the speed increase that i appreciate, but i’m on a slow DSL line at home, so anything that i can take, i will.

    so here i am purring away at close to 400kB/s. looks like it’s still going to be a couple of hours before centos is done downloading. i guess i’ll go to lunch.

    new job

    i’ve been interviewing now for the past three weeks. it’s been an interesting process. my first interview was a complete wreck. i thought for sure that i had tanked it. it turned out though that the interview process continued forward. it has been years since i last interviewed and i didn’t think that i would get nervous at an interview anymore, but it turned out that there were still some jitters.

    after the first interview, though, i got back into the swing of things. i interviewed at a couple of other companies and it was an interesting process. at some companies, i feel like i had to really convince them hard that they wanted me. at others, i felt like the interviews were interrogations. at one company, i felt like i was being wooed. ah, to be wooed.

    i ended up taking a job at a company that is farther than i really wanted to ever work. a lot farther. the commute is going to be awful, but i think that the opportunity is grand. so i’m pretty excited about the whole company and i think that it’s going to be a lot of fun. what isn’t fun is that they want me to start immediately. blah.

    blah, i say. blah.

    this job hunt wasn’t nearly as painful as i had initially feared that it would be when i first heard that the company was going under. sure there were some nervous times at interviews, but all in all, i’m pretty happy with how things turned out. i think that i will be able to find the passion in work again. it has been waning for a while and i think that i had been going to work out of obligation instead of out of desire.

    here’s to better things!