Lottery Post Journal

Upgrading to Vista

I'm upgrading one of my main PCs to Vista right now as I write this.

It appears that anyone upgrading should be prepared for a multi-hour endeavor, but naturally we will see how it goes.  Maybe I'll be surprised.

There's a compatibility checker that seems to go through all of your hardware and software as the first step in the upgrade.  The only thing it detected as "un-runnable" in Vista was Nero Burning ROM, so I had to bail out of the installation, uninstall Nero, and then start again.

The next time it got through that step, and then mentioned a few software apps that would not run well under Vista.  They are the typical types of software apps that need new device drivers, like WinDVD and some other multi-media software.

The only thing that was slightly bothersome was that Zone Alarm would not work under Vista, but I already knew that.  It is mystifying to me that Zone Labs did not hurry up and create a Vista version.  (At least they haven't since the last time I checked a couple of weeks ago.)

So once I'm finished with the upgrade I'll be installing Windows OneCare, which I have been test-driving on another PC for a couple of weeks.  I don't think it's quite as good (or mature) as Zone Alarm, but I was fairly impressed with it.  It seems that it's built for less-sophisticated users, which is perfect for most people, but probably means I'll need to spend some time learning how to tweak it.

However, Vista is a much more such operating system that Windows XP, so that is a big advantage even if Zone Alarm doesn't work (yet).

I'm looking forward to seeing and using the new Vista Aero user interface.  FINALLY I'll be able to make good use of my nVidia SLI dual-card mainboard and GeForce cards -- in the everyday operating system!

For those who don't know about Vista, there are two different user interfaces that come with Vista -- Aero (the super-duper interface) and the "regular" interface, which is still better than Windows XP, but doesn't have all the special effects.

Aero will only run on computers that are more modern and have good graphics boards with a decent amount of memory.  I don't know the exact specs.  I do know that my system is about as stacked (graphics-wise) as they come, so I'll be happily cruising around in Aero in a few hours (if all goes well!).

Aero includes some REALLY cool effects, which are actually pretty useful.  For example, you know the trick with Windows XP, where you press Ctrl+Tab to cycle through the active windows?  Well, Aero has something similar, except you see miniature versions of all the open windows on the screen, and you can cycle through them like pages being shuffled around.  Not only is it very cool, but very intuitive and useful.

Well, it's hurry up and wait while this thing installs.  I'll try to post a follow-up entry at some point in the future to give my thoughts and feelings after having used it for a while.

Beautiful music, must-see movie?

I had the pleasure of stumbling on the official web page of Pan's Labyrinth this morning.  Pan's Labyrinth is a new fantasy movie that's getting tremendous reviews all around.

On Rotten Tomatoes it is getting an astounding 96% Fresh rating.  Very few movies achieve that good of a rating.  Checking local listings reveals that the movie is in limited release however, so finding a theater playing it may be difficult for some.

Back to their web site, if you just leave the web page open it plays the entire soundtrack in very high quality stereo sound.  On my PC (which has fantastic THX speakers) it sounds at least as good as a CD.

You can check out the Pan's Labyrinth web site at:

Open it up, and then open a new browser window or tab so the Pan's Labyrinth site stays open in the background.  You can enjoy a great soundtrack while doing other stuff!

Snippet to enumerate JavaScript object properties

In writing some JavaScript code today, I had to write a function that was being called by some other JavaScript function, and I had no idea how many argument (parameters) were being sent by that other function, or what the contents of those argument would be. 

So, I figured out a nice way to determine what was being sent to my function.

First, determining the number of arguments being sent was pretty easy.  In every function, JavaScript automatically creates an array called arguments[].  So to find out how many arguments are being passed to my function, I created the following code:

function myFunction() {

Then, when I opened the web page and the JavaScript function was called, I saw a "2" displayed in an alert box, so 2 arguments were being passed.  That part was easy!

Next, I changed my function to display what type of arguments were being passed:

function myFunction() {
  alert(typeof arguments[0]);
  alert(typeof arguments[1]);

Then when the function executed I saw 2 alert boxes, each with the word "object".  So I knew I was being passed 2 objects as arguments.

The last step was to examine the 2 objects to see what was inside them.  To do that I came up with a way to enumerate the properties of each object.

In JavaScript objects are really nothing more than arrays that are stored in something called "JSON" (JavaScript Object Notation).  JSON represents objects as arrays of name/value pairs.  The name part is a string value and the value part is any valid JavaScript type, such as string, number, or function.

So enumerating the object properties was just a matter of using two for loops to read all the elements of the array.  The function became:

function myFunction(arg1, arg2) {
   var property, properties="";

   for(property in arg1){
      properties += (property + ": " + arg1[property] + "\n");


   for(property in arg2){
      properties += (property + ": " + arg2[property] + "\n");


Then when the function executed I saw two alert boxes, the first one showing full contents of the first argument, and the second alert box showing the contents of the second argument.

Now that I know the contents of the arguments, I can go on and finish my JavaScript function!

This is a nice little snippet to keep in reserve in case something like this happens again.

Stopping Identity Theft

Here's an excellent video pointing out the dangers of identity theft.  Pass this link on to family/friends.


'End of Life' for a laptop after 22 months?

I read an amusing but cautionary blog entry from someone who had purchased an Alienware laptop, and then was told it was essentially "dead" after just 22 months.

You really need to read it to understand.

Speaking of laptops, if you are looking for an inexpensive laptop that is perfect for a non-techno whiz, and has plenty of "good stuff" inside and out (so that it won't be "End of Life" in 22 months), I'd recommend checking out the HP Compaq v5000 series.  It's a sliver-colored laptop with a medium-gray colored keyboard.

The keyboard is particularly good for people who aren't used to typing on a laptop, as the keys are nice and big and spaced apart from each other.  (Although nothing can match the keyboard of a Lenovo ThinkPad, but those are much more expensive.)

It also has a great little screen - a widescreen 15.4" LCD. The touchpad is very good, and I typically hate touchpads.  Performance is excellent for an inexpensive laptop.

The software bundle is *OK* - nothing special - unless you get one with a nice bundle.  But I never buy a PC for the software that's included, because I like to install my own.  (And I usually uninstall all the junk that comes on a new PC.)

Always get at least 1GB of memory (RAM) when buying a new PC these days.

Incredible new technology

This could be one of the coolest devices ever invented!

Apple just introduced the iPhone, which finally combines a phone, iPod, and  computer into one device.  I'm actually glad they took their time, because the end result is the latest must-have piece of technology, if it works like the demo.

One of my favorite parts of it is the new interface, in which you control it by touching the screen with your fingertips.  Unlike all the normal touch-screens, this new screen can be manipulated my touching the screen in multiple places at once.  So if you want to zoom out while showing a picture, you just touch your fingers close together on the screen and then pull them apart!

Also, the new way to scroll a page is incredible.  If you've used Adobe Acrobat you get the idea -- you "grab" the page by clicking and holding the button, and drag the page up and down.  The difference with the new iPhone is that you can "spin" the page in any direction by touching it and "flicking" it in the direction you like and then letting go.  Kind of like you would spin a Roulette wheel or shove a piece of paper across the table.  Genius!

Apple has a complete demo online that shows tons of details.  Check it out!