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April 29, 2011

Postcards from Nowhere: San Francisco Graffiti

Here are some of my photos of murals, graffiti, and wheat paste art I've discovered in the city since my arrival in February.

The images were all captured on one of these frames [Canon EOS 7D, 40D, 50D] and a Canon image-stabilized, ultra-sonic telescopic zoom lens EF-S 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM.

The images are compiled into a 9 Meg (3:30 Adobe Flash slideshow(2011_sf_graffiti.swf) that you should be able to open and view with any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.). To view the slideshow, just click on the photo above. If you want to view the slideshow as a Windows executable, you can play this version (2011_sf_graffiti.exe), and it allows you to play, pause, skip forward, backwards, etc.

Image post-processing was done in Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended. The slideshow was created using Imagematics Stillmotion Pro.

The soundtrack is 'Animal' by Neon Trees.

Click here to view the other slideshows.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 29, 2011 at 7:50 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

This guy sounds good

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 29, 2011 at 2:28 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 28, 2011

Lower Haight and Upper Haight

Above: These murals on Haight Street have been haunting me for at least 7 years. Now, I've finally learned they were painted by Jet Martinez.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 28, 2011 at 11:05 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Tracy is wrong

This is one of my tests from Tulane that I didn't pass.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 28, 2011 at 6:49 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink


Finally, I understand what they're doing to the trees in San Francisco. They are "pollarding" many of the trees out here. So, the thought is that, if you prune their upper branches, you can keep them from growing beyond a pre-determined height. Also, it apparently makes them life longer, produce more even foliage, etc.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 28, 2011 at 2:20 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The London Plane Tree

Above: The London plane tree (Platanus acerifolia) is a hybrid tree grown from a cross between the American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) with the oriental plane tree (Platanus orientalis).

This tree looks suspiciously like the trees at Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 28, 2011 at 11:28 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 27, 2011

Skyline Boulevard

"What should I do if there's another earthquake?" I ask my boss. "Should I get under my desk."

"Yeah. Absolutely. Just dive right under there."

"It feels pretty solid. This building looks like it's got a lot of support. Seems like it's designed to withstand earthquakes, based on all the concrete columns and all."

"It survived the quake of 89. Why? Are you worried about it? Has it been bothering you?"

"No. Not really. I've been through two earthquakes now. I'm not really worried about it. I was just wondering. That's all."

I'm not really afraid of an earthquake. What I'm really afraid of is that I'll go to bed tonight and that I'll not have lived enough today. Won't have crammed enough into this day. That's what worries me the most.

And I get off work and I think...I could go home and watch tv and crash. Probably a lot of people do that. Probably that's a reasonable thing to do.

But something compels me to go for something more. To reach for something greater than the simple way out. So after work, I climb onto my bike and I'm thinking...where to go? Where to go?

Skyline Boulevard. That's the ticket.

So I get on the 280 and head south, just balls out.

I get down to Crystal Lake and this is where I lost my laptop. I've had a lot of bikes. A slew of them. And this one time, I was running on a bike here heading North and my backpack failed and I lost everything...camera...passport..laptop...all went across the 280 in rush hour traffic. Me in the HOV lane running 95 mph.

I recovered most of my items, but I never did find the camera.

All of this comes back to me now. I'm heading the other way on the 280. Heading south. Past Crystal Lake and a sign says "35" and maybe "Skyline Boulevard". I can't recall for sure. But this lake. This highway. Everything comes back to me now. This looks right. And this is just peurile. Just as juvenile as it gets. I love to do this...to backtrack over a place years after I've been there. Testing the brain. To see what it remembers.

This, to me, is one of the greatest pleasures of being alive. To travel and revisit places you haven't been for 5 or 10 years or so. It's just the greatest thing on earth to discover and re-discover. And I'm rolling through these hills of Northern California, drifting down Skyline Boulevard through the Redwoods and this is good. This is as fun as it gets.

I pull over and put on my DriDucks. Just a little rainproof layer I carry in my backpack, but it makes all the difference when you're cold and this does warm me up quite a bit. I've been out since February and I swear it's getting colder instead of warmer.

I run down Skyline Boulevard for about 13 miles. A brilliant little two lane twisting blacktop road road weaving between the redwoods. The smell of wood fires in the mansions to stay the cold. All of this. All of this.

And now, Highway 84. Alice's Restaurant at Woodside. This is the end of my run. Skyline Boulevard keeps going. It runs down to Santa Cruz, and I'd keep going, but not in the dark. The motorcycle at night is death. Too dangerous. I mean, when it gets dark, you're planning an exit strategy. Time to pull over. Time to shut 'er down for the night.

I'm sitting here outside of Alice's Restaurant, burning daylight. Trying to decide which way back to the city. East on 84 through Redwood City and back up the 101. Or West on 84 to the coast and back up CA 1. Dunno. Dunno. Can't decide. Burning daylight. A California Highway patrol comes by me. Those of you that had Wednesday April 27th as the day that the police finally pulled me over and asked me why I'm driving a motorcycle with no plates can have a seat right over there. Because he went right past me.

So I turn right and I head for the coast on 84 West and the light is fading fast. But i'm reasonably sure this road leads to the coast. I don't have my GPS, of course. And I don't have any tools. And my headlight shines up in the trees like I'm coon hunting.

And I'm racing down the road, drifting through the redwood forests and just...well...if you've been here, you know. And if you haven't, then you really can't know. But just sort of imagine midlife crisis rolling through a twisting asphalt ribbon at dusk through the largest trees on earth and, well, that's Northern California. It's nice.

But I have no gps and I'm low on gas and I'm not really sure if I'm headed to the coast or not. I mean, I probably last went down this road about 7 years ago. And I come to a little town called La Honda and I'm like...hmmmm. I sure don't remember this town.

But the brain as a few faded snapshots of this trip. The brain thinks we'll pop out onto the coast here shortly but the road has other plans and it's leading us through the redwood forests, growing darker by the second and I almost run over a skunk, of all things.

My hands are freezing, even with my leather gloves on because my gloves are not really for warmth, per se. Just thin leather riding gloves that I found in the mark down bin up in Petaluma.

And I'm just winding it up as fast as I dare. Scrolling past the double line of reflectors that dot the center line. Praying for the coast to appear. And then, I see the sky getting lighter and I smell the salt air of the ocean and I pop out onto the coast, happy as a pig in slop.

I head north and a sign says San Francisco, 40 miles. So that means I'll have run 100 miles today, which is not bad considering that I work from nearly sun up to sun down, and I head back toward the city and think how happy I'll be to get a warm shower back on Russian Hill.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 27, 2011 at 10:46 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Hill Tour of San Francisco


Posted by Rob Kiser on April 27, 2011 at 3:59 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

'Microsoft Office has identified a potential security concern' Excel 2007

'Microsoft Office has identified a potential security concern'.

Oh great. Let me stop what I'm doing and make sure that Excel is happy. Every time I click in a cell in Excel with underline text I get this message. Lord God the minions at Microsoft are dumb. Because the text is underlined you think it's a hyperlink. Brilliant. Here's how to get past these dimwitted geeks.

1. Open the registry editor;
2. Browse to the following location in the registry
3. If the Security key/folder already exists under the Common key, then select it. If it doesn't exist already then create it via;
Edit-> New-> Key
4. Here create a new DWORD Value via;
Edit-> New-> DWORD Value
Value name: DisableHyperlinkWarning
Value Type: REG_DWORD
Value: 1
When this key is set to 0 or is missing, the security warning will show again.



Posted by Rob Kiser on April 27, 2011 at 10:57 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 26, 2011

Life Is A Dream

Life is a dream and we're sleepwalking through it. I get off work today and I think...where will I go? What will I do? It's so hard to to push forward in this day of days. Bernal Heights. That's where I'll go. Bernal Heights.

Now, I know....many of you would think, "Bernal Heights? Why Bernal Heights?" And some might turn their nose up at Bernal Heights, but I've done Twin Peaks and Buena Vista and Corona Heights and Potrero Hill and at some point, you think "Bernal Heights" and you should see the flowers there. And the roads are crazy. Just insanely steep one way roads with signs that say "Hill", and friend, if you see a sign in San Francisco that says "Hill", well it means something. It means Lord God You'd Better Find Your Lowest Gear and Hang On. Other signs say "Trucks Not Advised" and "One Way". These are all signs that things are about to become a lot more fun.

So, I'm driving around and sort of shooting everything that isn't nailed down. I find some new flowers. I see a lot of the plants I know now. I know now what they are. I see them now. Pride of Madeira. Bottle brush. Calla Lilly. Angel's Trumpet. Fox Gloves. Lavender. Ice plants.

And, when I see people, I stop them and ask them questions. Pointed, uncomfortable questions. They look at me like a circus freak. This stranger in leather and camouflage. This freak with the bike and the camera. They eye me nervously.

"No," they say. "I dont' know what it is." This is almost without exception. This is where we are. In a city of almost unparalleled beauty, the denizens are sleepwalking through their lives. Immune to the charms around them.

Of course, I'm driving through this surreal paradise, shooting like mad. I'm firing away at the flowers, chasing off hummingbirds. This is this.

And eventually, I leave Bernal Heights and I follow 30th Street up in the next set of hills. I couldn't say where I was perzactly. Only somewhere on 30th and there's this guy stranding out by some "Pride of Madeira" pulling weeds.

I stop and look at him. "Do you know what these flowers are?" I ask him. I know the answer. But God as my witness, not one person I've asked in San Francisco has ever gotten this right and they're everywhere.

"I do," he replies, "I even know the scientific name. They're called Pride of Madeira. The scientific name is 'Echium candicans'. They're in the Boraginaceae family:

"How do you know? I challenge.

"I'm a biologist," he replies.

"What about these?" I challenge.

"These are succulents."

"And these?"

Now I'm showing him flowers from my camera. And he's got a name for every one.

"Where have you been all my life? His name is Chip and I say 'Give me your email address'. And he gives me an email address and I think him profusely and drive away into the fading evening light.

Above: View east from Bernal Heights.

Above: View north from Bernal Heights.

Above: View south from Bernal Heights.

Above: Red Angel's Trumpet (Brugmansia sanguinea).

Above: A Purple Protea. Family: Proteaceae. Subfamily: Proteoideae. Genus: Protea.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 26, 2011 at 9:40 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 25, 2011

Between Here and Now

Above: Taking off from SFO.

Above: Somewhere over California.

Above; Landing at LAX.

Above: Taking off from LAX.

Above: Somewhere over Nevada/Utah. Possibly Lake Powell?

Above: Girls playing soccer.

Above: Girls playing soccer.

Above: Girls playing soccer.

Above: Girls playing soccer.

Above: Jennifer with the Easter Bear.

Above: It snowed every day this past weekend at my house.

Above The Cargill Salt Flats at the south end of San Francisco Bay.

Above: An estuary at the south end of San Francisco bay.

Above: Abandoned warehouses on Pier 70.

Above: Abandoned warehouses on Pier 70.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 25, 2011 at 11:04 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

And I Walk Into This Meeting

And I walk into work and I've not shaved or anything like that. So I step into the men's room and gargle. That's about the sum total of my hygiene ritual for the weekend.

And my feet reek, of course. It smells like my shoes will rot off of my feet. They're some cheap Wal-mart shoes that Jennifer talked me into buying because I make her buy all of her clothes at Target and Wal-mart because I'm cheap. So she made me buy my shoes at Wal-mart. And they really smell like they're going to rot off of my feet. No joke.

And I walk into this meeting with my hair and my feet and my bear stubble. I'm about 30 minutes late and I hardly recognize anyone in the room full of people. And they're all going back and forth trying to figure out how to indicate the "Home Department" when I walk in and as soon as I sit down I say "Well, you know, we have a Primary Job Indicator. So, most people just say the department on the Primary Job is the Home Department."

And you could have heard a pin drop. Like, they're all sitting around thinking..."who is this guy" and "where have you been?" And this is fun. It almost makes the trip worthwhile.

But eventually, everyone leaves and goes home and I'm left to wander the city alone, unsupervised. And I do, of course, I do. I just stuff the GPS in a bag and I roam the city streets looking for what I can't say.

I like to ride the bike on one wheel, of course. So the chain is stretching and the bike has all sorts of maintenance issues. The left rear turn signal is hanging on by a thread and my rear brakes squeak and the front headlight shines up at the top of the Transamerica Tower.

So, I want to address these issues, but I dunno how. I just dunno how to deal with this. Every day, I sink a little further into this mire. I don't know how to get out any more. I dunno what's real and what matters. I really don't. I don't know. Not in this city.

I try to think about what I want. About what matters most. But so little matters. I'm not much for this world and nothing seems real. Only I want to drive to Alaska. Not for any real reason except that I've never been there. So I feel compelled to go, of course.

But I'm afraid of this job. Of this project. It feels like a black hole I could throw my life into and for what? For what?

So I leave work on the magic carpet and I'm rolling across the city and I find Potrero Hill and on the East side of it, a ...ahem....a "housing development". And I flee that place. If you know what I mean. And I think...this is what I have to tell Jennifer. Dear Jennifer. Trust your instincts. 5 billion years of evolution can't be wrong. If you don't feel safe, then flee, dear. Flee like the wind. And I look around and I see the housing project on the hill and the cockroaches coming out in Uggs and cornrows and I flee that place.

See, you think I have a death wish, but I don't. I really don't. Really I just need to see what's over the horizon and then the next horizon after that. But I end up at the Bay Shore and this is just death. Just slow motion rain soaked poverty with cranes and broken windows.

A Mexican with his engine idling and a Negro living out of his car and now the carpet delivers me from evil. From this nightmare into the heart of the financial district.

I'm riding between these tall buildings and I don't know why I'm here. Why we're here. I really don't. No higher truths to impart. I have nothing to share but my own confusion.

But I drive by a shoe store and I'm like...OK. THat's it. I'm going in. And I park the bike on the sidewalk and I walk into the store.

"Is it ok if I park there?" I ask. Not like I care. I just want to get a reaction.

"Well, since you're already there, what does it matter?" he offers.

So I pick out a pair of shoes and I flee that place and I think...there...something...one chore done...a zillion to go.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 25, 2011 at 9:23 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

San Francisco's Bring Your Own Big Wheel (BYOBW) April 24, 2011

This was apparently an open event where they race down Potrero Hill on Big Wheels. They race down Vermont between 20th and 22nd (a curvy 14.3% grade). This is less than a mile from where I work.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 25, 2011 at 6:58 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The 7th Level of Hell

In the morning, I drive to the off-airport and climb onto the shuttle.

"Hey, stranger," She knows me but I don't recognize her.

She drives around the parking lot picking up random people until I finally ask the guys next to me "Do you 'reckon she'll ever take us to the airport?"

Eventually, she takes us to the airport and I'm queueing up for the Airport Monkeys and the Security Theatre. I try to judge which of the idiots is fastest at scanning the luggage of innocent citizens and get in line. When I'm unpacking my laptop and disrobing for the groping, however, I realize there's a problem. I've got some $30 tube of hair creme they tricked me into buying in San Francisco. It's a gel that, after you wash your hair, you rub in to make it look like you didn't wash your hair. For reals.

So I have this $30 tube of hair gel and I know the TSA will find it. They didn't find it last time, which explains how it got to Denver, but they'll find it this time, just because I know how my luck runs.

So sure enough, they find it and make me go back to the dunce line and I stick it in my pants when they're not looking and I just get rescreened and they're so stupid they don't realize I stuck it in my pocket. Security Theatre, 101.

So I get out to the gate and find the fight is delayed so I make myself comfortable and plug in my laptop and everyone around me is sniffing, which drives me nuts.

Like, can you not blow your fvcking nose? Your mom's not here any more. And I don't want to hear you sniffling for the next fifteen hours.

But they're sniffling and then some guy comes and wants to sit right beside me and makes me move my backpack so he can sit right beside me, when there are other seats of course. So he sits right next to me and he starts sniffling and I'm like "Christ. WTF is wrong with you people? Is the whole world sick except me?"

So, I'm sitting here, and i keep getting pages from SouthWest telling me the flight has been delayed and delayed again and the people around me a sniffling like kindergarten children and I'm about to snap. I've got my headphones on and the free wireless internet at DEN sucks so hard I won't event talk about it here. But people should be charged. Should be held accountable

Now, the entire time, Southwest Gate C46, the monitor at the gate says "Boarding". Now, they're clearly not boarding. There's no plane out there for Christ's sake. So, I'm pissed enough now that I approach the gate.

"Are we boarding?" I ask.

"We will be just as soon as we get a plane and a crew to fly it," she replies.

"So, we're not boarding then?" I challenge.

"We will be very soon."

"That says we'll depart for San Francisco in 10 minutes. Do you think that that's going to happen?"

"That what will happen?"

"That we'll be leaving for San Francisco in 10 minutes if we don't have a plane or a crew." I reply.

"We'll see." she smiles. She hates me, but not nearly as much as I hate her. I want to put a grenade behind the counter.

Some woman approaches the desk and asks the SouthWest troll the obvious question, "Are we boarding?"

"No," I reply," We're not boarding. And they won't change the sign to say we're not either. I already tried."

I'm not happy and I'm willing to lower myself to their level at this point.

"We are changing it right now," she grunts, which is a totally different answer than she'd given me for whatever reason. She certainly hadn't volunteered that she was willing or able to make the sign change from "Boarding" to "Royally Screwed".

And with that, the SW troll waves her little scepter and the sign changes from "Boarding" to "Fvcked" and the departure time goes up another hour and she smiles at me, proud of her little victory.

I get another page that it's been delayed yet again and I stomp off to get a coffee. I come back and there's an open spot at a table with electricity and a little stool, away from the sickly demons I've been sitting by.

"MInd if I join you?" I ask the guy at th table.


'You're not sick are you?" I challenge.


So I start slowly moving all of my items over to the counter. First, I set down my coffee and napkins,then I go back and fetch my laptop. When I return and set my laptop down, a woman approaches the counter from the other side and sits down.

"Oh. Are you going to take my seat?" I ask her. Like, OK. I'm the man here. I'm supposed to defer to the woman. I know the drill. But Godd@mn it makes me mad that she came and took my seat right in front of me. Like, seriously? Could you not at least ask? But I just defer and I collect my things and walk back to the sick ward with my tail between my legs to wait for an eternity with the lousy internet service and the sniffly drooling adults in Terminal C.

I want to take my laptop and my camera and smash them into the carpet because, let's be honest, this sucks. This blows. I got up at 6:00 a.m. and drove 50 miles to sit here with these mental dwarfs in the 7th level of hell.

At some point, we finally board the airplane and take off and my old laptop won't work unless it's plugged in and my new laptop won't work no matter what so I don't have a laptop I can use as we fly across the country. And my mind is racing from the coffee like a car revving the engine while it's in neutral. I can't type or write or anything. I can't shoot because it's cloudy so I just sort of drift off and finally we land in SFO.

It's not raining, in San Francisco, which is an absolute miracle. This city has the worst weather of any place I've ever been and I dash outside and get on the shuttle and this guy knows me. He won't ever take me to the Covered Parking, which is amazing, but this is where we are.

So, we get to the Fast Track parking lot and he won't take me to the covered parking and I've told him several times that's where I want to go. But he's not falling for it. So I get out of the shuttle and walk to covered parking and I see some little minion walking around and I decide that I want to explain to him that the shuttle driver needs to take me to covered parking when I tell him to take me to covered parking. Of course, he's oriental and he can't tell what I'm saying so I go to leave the parking and this girl knows me. She's the one bright spot in my little travel hell. I don't know her name, but she's always nice and helpful and I tell her..."I want that freaking driver to take me to covered parking when he drops me off. Tell Will to set him straight."

And I get out on the 101 and I'm blowing North on this highway and you can't know how windy it is. Just inane and it's blowing me from one lane to another and my helmet's too large and I'm just hunkered down..running North at 75 mph...no plates...blowing from lane to lane between trucks and cars....way late for my meeting in SF.... and I'm thinking...it's got to get better than this.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 25, 2011 at 10:10 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 24, 2011

Clarke 4.7 Gallon Desert Tank

Today, I ordered my Clarke 4.7 gallon Desert Tank for the XR650L. Plan is to run up to Alaska along the Alcan Highway in August. I want to go ahead and get the desert tank set up so that it's not as dicey as it was when I went through Mexico. I picked up my desert tank and installed it in the back yard in San Diego the night before I left for Cabo.

I figure I'll go ahead and get this one all set up now and then, whenever they let me go, I'm gone.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 24, 2011 at 6:17 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 23, 2011

Remotely Turn on Computer with 'Wake On LAN'

So, I've know for some time that the network cards have a "Wake On LAN" capability. Somehow, they can be used to turn on a computer remotely. The trick is that the computer has to support the WOL request, the LAN card has to support the WOL request, and you have to have another computer on the same network that's powered up. But, given all of these conditions, you can use one computer to turn on another computer remotely.

Now, why would you want to do this? Well, it's a fair question. But the reason I want to is because a) I live in the mountains and the power grid up here is about as stable as any other 3rd world country and b) I have several computer that I like to keep running and c) I only have a very limited UPS capability and I use that to try to keep my Peenie Wallie server up and running. So, if the power blips, all of my computers go down except for my Peenie Wallie server. So, in theory, I could buy more UPS units, but it would be cheaper if I could just use my one server that's still operating to turn on the other computers. To Wake up the other computers on the LAN (Wake on LAN).

This miracle occurs using something called Magic Packets. Essentially, you broadcast sixteen repetitions of the target computer's MAC Address. In theory, this will wake up the computer. Now, to see if I can get it to work. Hmmmm.

Continue reading "Remotely Turn on Computer with 'Wake On LAN'"

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 23, 2011 at 9:47 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Why Steve Jobs Doesn't Like Flash

I've wondered for some time why Steve Jobs hates Adobe Flash so much. Flash is not supported on iPhones, iPads, or iPods. Finally, I found a post from Steve Jobs laying out why he doesn't like Flash. Interesting.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 23, 2011 at 8:07 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

12 Reasons Women Can't Stand Nice Guys


Posted by Rob Kiser on April 23, 2011 at 7:12 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Fool-proof Boiled Eggs

It's easy to boil Easter Eggs, but hard to boil them so that you can actually peel them easily.

Fool-proof Boiled Eggs

You may double or triple this recipe as long as you use a pot large enough to hold the eggs in a single layer covered by an inch of water.

Makes six eggs

6 large eggs

1. Place eggs in medium saucepan, cover with 1 inch of water, and bring to boil over high heat.
2. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with 1 quart water and 1 tray of ice cubes (or equivalent).
4. Transfer eggs with slotted spoon to ice water bath; let sit 5 minutes.
5. Peel and use as desired.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 23, 2011 at 10:55 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 22, 2011

MS Outlook 2003 Sucks

Outlook sucks so hard it's beyond belief. But it's my cross to bear, so here we go.

I reinstalled Outlook. Copied over a slew of .pst files I'd archived. All you have to do is:
1) Put the .pst files in the right location. In this case, it's:

C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\

2) Once you copy your .pst files to this location, you won't see them of course. This is the way of Microsoft. To obfuscate whenever possible. Now, what you need to do is Open the .pst files to make them appear in Outlook. File - Open - Outlook Data File, and select the .pst files.

Now, at this point, the .pst fiels appear in Outlook. OK. So, that's something. Now, of course, I still have no contacts, no addresses, etc. So, good job Microsoft. Brilliant. Let's get this sorted out.

Continue reading "MS Outlook 2003 Sucks"

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 22, 2011 at 10:57 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Changing the Port RDP Listens To

By default, Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) listens to incoming port 3389. I've changed this on my computer, of course. But every time I reinstall the O/S, this is the step that trips me up. I have to remember to go into the registry and change the port that RDP listens to.

(I had to reinstall the O/S because I never could shake that virus I had.)

Also, I had to go into the Windows Firewall, open up the new RDP port number for TCP.

I had previously Right-clicked on My Computer on the desktop and configured the computer to allow remote access. After doing all 3 of these things and rebooting the computer, I can now connect to it remotely (again).

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 22, 2011 at 8:42 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink


Above: Twin rows of Sycamore trees at Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco.

Above: Murals on Haight Street.

Above: Murals on Haight Street.

Above: Murals on Haight Street.

Above: Heading North on US 101 across the Golden Gate Bridge. To get this shot, driving with no hands, looking through the lens, and shooting.

Above: Lucas Valley Road, Marin County, California.

Above: Lucas Valley Road, Marin County, California.

Above: Lucas Valley Road, Marin County, California.

Above: Nicasio Reservoir, Marin County, California.

Above: Nicasio Reservoir, Marin County, California.

Above: Nicasio Reservoir, Marin County, California.

Above: Point Reyes Station, Marin County, California.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 22, 2011 at 1:29 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 21, 2011

SFPD Police Pursuit Policies

SFPD Police Pursuit Policies

According to the SFPD's General Order 5.05, a vehicle pursuit is an attempt by an officer, while driving an emergency vehicle, to stop a moving motor vehicle when the officer has reasonable cause to stop the vehicle and the driver fails to do so as required by State law.

When it becomes apparent that the benefits of immediate apprehension are clearly outweighed by an unreasonable danger to the officer or others, the pursuit shall not be initiated or, if already in progress, shall be terminated.

An unreasonable danger exists when the reason for apprehending the suspect is clearly outweighed by the danger to persons or property (e.g., when the only reason for the pursuit is traffic violations or a misdemeanor, or a non-violent felony).

Yeah, so I had a cop today hit his horn/buzzer...that sound they make when they see you screwing up. I'd just run a red light and he was behind me, but in an unmarked car. Then, he turned on his lights, but he sat through the red light. It was weird. Like, maybe he was trying to pull me over. It's hard to know for sure. He was sitting at the red light with all of his lights going, like he was frozen for some reason. Very odd. I've never seen a cop do that...sit at a red light with their lights on.

I kept going of course. Like, I'm not going to turn around and go back and see what he wants. I'm not that stupid. But when I got back to the office, I looked up their pursuit policy, and I think that basically, they're not allowed to do "Dirty Harry" style chases through San Francisco just because they saw someone run a red light. They figure that the risk to public safety is too great, so they just let them go. I, for one, think the policy is prudent.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 21, 2011 at 4:27 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

3d Crime Map of San Francisco


Posted by Rob Kiser on April 21, 2011 at 12:37 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 20, 2011

Blue Lights and Adrenaline

Above: A flowering tree in the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae).

So after work, I walk outside and the wisteria are hanging straight down from the rain. I stop to take some photos of them because, if not now, when?

I climb onto my adrenal-cycle with a camera and a couple of lenses and I begin to prowl around San Francisco. I'm never sure where to go but I'm going somewhere, right? I'm not going to sit at home. Not a chance.

So I'm rolling down somewhere...17th or 18th or so....sort of rolling through the Mission toward the Castro because, let's be honest, if you're looking for flowers and flowering trees, you can't ignore the Castro district.

So I'm rolling around and I see a cop come by. One of those clearly marked black and white units and he gets a good eyeful of the back of my bike and, let's be clear here...there's nothing there. Nada. As in, no plates. I'm free-balling.

So he goes down about a block and I figure he's probably watching to see which way I go, but I go on my way. I'm not living my life for other people. That's not my ticket.

So I keep on rolling and I see this tree blooming like mad with these ridiculous red flowers all over it. Like something out of a dream. Something Dr. Seuss would make up and I stop to get some shots because I don't take much for granted these days.

I don't lump all of the Myrtacaea together like I used to in San Diego. I don't make that mistake any more. I'm out, examining the flowers, the leaves, the bark, and the seed pods.

Now, mind you, so far as I can tell, no one else is doing this, but that's none of my concern. If you're driving through the Garden of Eden, there's no pride in being perfectly ignorant of the flora around you. To my way of thinking, anyhow.

So I pull over to snap some shots of this surreal looking flowering tree and suddenly, here comes that pig. The same one, slipping down an alley and coming out right in front of me and he sees me and turns on his lights. Now, mind you, my bike is parked and I'm off of it, but here he sits, lights flashing, looking right at me.

Those of you that had April 20th as the day I'd get stopped and fined for driving without plates please take one step forward. Now, take one step back. Because he turned left and took off and I never saw him again. And I don't know where he was going but he wasn't after me. Heeeheeee.

And I'm happy to be free of the clutches of the pig and running loose in this mad and beautiful city, but that's the way it is out here. I know you don't believe me, but San Francisco is a wild-west frontier type of mentality where the cops ride two to a car, in fear for their own lives. (In Lima, they ride four to a car). And they're not about to start something over a license plate. That's just not how it is out here. It's not like that. Not that way.

So I continue to wander around the city on the bike. It's sort of misting. Trying to rain. But not bad enough that I put on my Dry Ducks. I think about it a lot though. But never I do. Never I do.

And it's nearly dark when I get off work. There can be no denial of this. It's too dark to be shooting, really, but this is what I have. I crank the ISO up to some ridiculous number to buy myself some daylight at the expense of grainy photos. A deal with the devil. But all I have is a few minutes after work to roll around in the misty Pacific coast and this is this is this. This is this.

I wind around and it's getting darker and wetter and finally I decide I'll go to The Grove and download my photos and collect my thoughts over an Anchor Porter.

And I'm winding down from the hills around Buena Vista and Corona Heights and I roll past this tree with both reddish/orange flowers and white flowers and I'm like.."OK...I'm calling bullsh1t on this one. There's no way one tree could possibly have two completely different flowers on it like that." But it was an illusion. They'd planted a tree and let this vine grow through it. Or, possibly, it was two trees woven together, but it was definitely two completely different species intermingled and I have no doubt they did it on purpose because, well, you should have seen the rest of the place.

My GPS is dead. I've not wired it into my bike yet. Only I attach it and run the batteries down which doesn't take long, apparently. And I end up on Market, but way out near the end where the trolley doesn't go along with Market Street any more. So, it seems safe enough to follow for a block or three. And I'm rolling up to a red light and a bike pulls up beside me and I hear this sickening crunch and I'm thinking. WTF? Seriously. What was that. And, I decide that the noise came from the crankcase of the bike next to me. Like his transmission is seriously screwed. And I'm looking at him with this chick on the back thinking...dude...you need to get that checked out. But now he's looking back. So I look back. And the two cars beside us have wrecked. Like...at a red light...one car ran into the back of another one going about 3 miles and hour and I look at the guy on the bike and I say "Dude...seriously...what the fck?" And we're all laughing. Me and him and the chick on the back of his bike. Like...dude...open your fvcking eyes already.

A woman at work told me about this house for sale in the city for $45M. I tell her I'm going to give them a low-ball offer of $40M and see if they'll take it. So I decide I'll try to find it, but my GPS is dead so I can't find it. I get within a block or three of it, but I dunno. I don't know where it is and it doesn't matter that much anyway. Does it?

The bike could use some work. I've stretched out the chain riding wheelies across the city. Need to tighten the chain. The headlight shines up and about a 45 degree angle like I'm hunting coons. The engine has developed a small oil leak, from where I'm not clear yet. The left rear turn signal sort of droops. The guy had taped it with black tape when I bought it and I missed this fact. Shame on me.

It is ideal transportation in the city, but it's not exactly maintenance free. It needs a little TLC before I make my next trip up to Alaska in August.

Above: Wisteria. Family: Fabaceae (or Leguminosae) is a large family of flowering plants, commonly known as the legume family, pea family, bean family or pulse family.

Update: I now suspect that this mural on Shotwell in the Mission District was painted by Reyes78, author of the "Mispelled" series of letters painted in SF.

Above: Blooms of the Ruby Red horse chestnut (Aesculus x carnea 'Briotii'). Family: Hippocastanaceae.

Above: Tthe Ruby Red horse chestnut (Aesculus x carnea 'Briotii'). Family: Hippocastanaceae.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 20, 2011 at 9:14 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The End Game

I dunno where this ends up. There is no end game. Yesterday, I walked across the street for lunch and I watched a homeless guy buying food in a grocery store. He had all of his items there and when she rang them up, he didn't have enough jack. So, he has to start taking some things off the table. He indicates which items she should remove from his selection. A bottle of Louisiana hot sauce. Some other things. Now, as she scans them, she's removing them from his total. His total comes down, but he ends up giving back about 1/3 of his items. Probably he's not too good with math. Of course, he's just dog-cussin' her the whole time like somehow it's her fault. She doesn't set the prices. But she's the one that's keeping him from leaving the store with all of his items. So this is where we are.

And I find myself wanting to laugh. Not because it's funny. Or maybe it is kinda. I mean, this is what the city does to you. It desensitizes you to this. Never in my life have I seen anyone have to put something back at the grocery store because they couldn't afford it. But now, this poor guy does and somehow I find humor in that. Why? I can't say. Probably I'm going to hell.

After work, Carol has purchased tickets to see some guy speak about Google, the trillion dollar company just down the road. So she asks if I want to go and I say sure. Like, why not? Giddy up.

So we meet downtown around Market and 2nd and we go to see this guy speak. Turns out it's a presentation by author Steven Levy about a recent book he's written titled "In the Plex", meaning "Inside the Googleplex".

Very interesting story about Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Very cool to hear him speak.

The people that put this little lecture together are apparently called the Commonwealth Club. I'm not sure who the Commonwealth club is. Probably one of those little liberal pseudo-communist can't-we-all-get-along tree-hugging liberal clubs that sort of pushes communism, but in a discreet and underhanded way. But what do I know? Maybe I'm wrong on this.

Afterwards, we go to this little Thai restaurant and I tell Carol I'm going to get the coconut milk soup and she's like "they don't have that here" and I'm like "what kind of Thai restaurant doesn't serve coconut milk soup?" Like wtf?

But they don't, of course. Sucks, but what can you do?

After dinner, Carol rides the bus home and I try to get some photos of her riding the bus because I never knew her to take anything but cabs but I swear she road the bus tonight.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 20, 2011 at 12:33 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Bottle Brush Tree

Above: The Bottlebrush Tree (Callistemon rigidus). Family = Myrtaceae.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 20, 2011 at 12:02 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 19, 2011

Lexington Street

For some reason, I couldn't find this mural. I'd seen it before, and I even recalled somehow that it was on Lexington Street. But I didn't see it when I was driving around so I finally broke out the GPS today and drove to Lexington Street and there it was. Same as it ever was.

Update: This masterpiece is the work of Andrew Schoultz. It's on Lexington Street in the Mission district in San Francisco.

Above: The Lexington Street mural by Andrew Schoultz.

Above: The Lexington Street mural by Andrew Schoultz.

Above: The Lexington Street mural by Andrew Schoultz.

Above: The Lexington Street mural by Andrew Schoultz.

Above: The Lexington Street mural by Andrew Schoultz.

Above: The Lexington Street mural by Andrew Schoultz.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 19, 2011 at 11:56 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Corymbia ficifolia

After going back and taking some more photo today, I'm reasonably sure that the trees across the street are Red Flowering Gum trees, aka Albany red flowering gum trees, or Orange Splendour. The scientific name is Corymbia ficifolia, formerly Eucalyptus ficifolia. Family = Myrtaceae.

The trees flower heavily only every second year; typically parts of a given tree will flower one year and other parts the next, but this varies greatly: in typical corymbia fashion, each individual tree seems to have its own particular habits.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 19, 2011 at 11:30 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Show Wireless Icon in Taskbar in Windows 7

Trying to get the wireless network to function properly is always challenging. Trying to do this without seeing the wireless icon in the taskbar is enough to make you want to start killing strangers. To make the wireless icon appear on the taskbar in Windows 7, as God intended, find the little triangle near the lower right corner. If you hover over it, it says "Show Hidden Icons". Click on the triangle, click on Customize. Scroll down until you find the Network icon and change the Behavior from "Hide icon and notifications" to "Show icon and notifications".

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 19, 2011 at 3:28 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

The Honky Nut Tree

I've been studying the trees across the street from us as for some time - collecting their peculiar little seed pods, studying the flowers, the leaves, and the bark, as the homeless urinate and defecate on the sidewalks around me, and I've tentatively identified them as "Honky Nut" trees (Corymbia calophylla).

Only I do this because I don't know what type of trees these are and, in San Francisco, there are so many trees that are foreign to me, I attempt to draw a line in the sand and say "at least I can identify these trees..." A similar exercise to my forays into San Diego.

So today, I was searching the web for the seed pods because they're unqiue enough that I thought I might spot them, and they striking similar to these seed pods.

I've long assumed that these flowering trees belonged to the Myrtacae family, based on their flowers.

As far as the genus, well it should come as no surprise that these trees were originally considered one genus but then the molecular biologists got their hands on the charts and decided to reclassify them from the genus of Eucalyptus to a new genus, Corymbia.

I'm not certain if the trees I'm seeing are Corymbia ficifolia or Corymbia calophylla. I'll investigate further when I get a chance.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 19, 2011 at 12:23 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Mapping a Network Drive in Windows 7

Yeah, so Windows 7 as it is shipped is somewhat different than XP Pro, the last real O/S released by Microsoft. So, the goal, per usual, is to try to make the new O/S work like the old O/S because no one really wanted it to change to begin with. Only you've got thousands of programmers all over the globe that are getting paid to write code, so you kick out a new O/S every 4 years.

Some people might ask "why would I want to map a network drive?" I like to do it because it creates a very slick shortcut down to some obscure file path on a drive and now I can get to it without clicking on 7 different folders to get to the location. So, it's a very slick little shortcut. Granted, you could place a shortcut to the folder on your desktop, or in a folder, but nothing is quite as clean as mapping it as a drive, IMHO.

OK, first of all, the 'Computer' icon does not appear on the Win7 Desktop by default, so let's get the Computer icon back on the desktop. Right-click on the desktop. Select Personalize. Select Change Desktop Icons. Check the box next to 'Computer' in 'Desktop Icons'. Click OK.

You should now have a Computer icon on your desktop. Click on the new Computer icon. It launches Windows Explorer. Alternately, hit the Windows key and the letter 'e' at the same time. Now, you've launched Windows Explorer, but the little tool bar/menu bar is gone. To make it magically reappear, hit the 'Alt' key. You can toggle the tool bar/menu bar on and off using the 'Alt' key.

If you want to bring the little tool bar/ menu bar back permanently, (and let's be honest here, who doesn't?) then click on Organize and then go to Layout and then select Menu Bar. Now, the Menu Bar will be visible permanently until you make it hidden.

Now, you can select Tools - Map Network Drive - Select a drive letter. Click Browse next to Folder. Click on Network. "Network Discovery is turned off. Network computers and devices are not visible. Please turn on network discovery in Network and Sharing Center." WTF?

Start - Control Panel - Network and Sharing Center - Changed Advance Sharing Settings - Network Discovery. Select "Turn on Network Discovery". At the bottom, select Save Changes.

Now, I can finally begin to make Windows Explorer function like it should have by default in Windows 7. Now, launch Windows Explorer (Windows - 'e').

Click in a blank place in the explorer bar at the top. I'm not sure what the name of this bar is. It shows what folder you're in. But if you click out to the right, in a blank area, it does a cool trick and displays the path as a URL and highlights it, so you can easily Copy and Paste. Very slick.

So, basically navigate to the folder where you want to map your network drive. Click in a blank place on the explorer bar so it will select the URL. Hit Control - C to copy the URL.

Now select Tools - Map Network Drive. Choose a drive letter. In the Folder section, hit Control V to paste in the URL. Choose reconnect at logon. Hit Finish.

Now, you should see a new drive letter in the Folders section on the left. If you don't like the name of it, right-click on it and select Rename. You can call it whatever you want, pretty much.

Wow. This is really slick. It's a shame that Microsoft sucks so hard that they don't ship the product configured properly. I hate those worms. Seriously I do.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 19, 2011 at 10:16 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 18, 2011

Just Another Monday

The alarm goes off at 4:00 a.m. and I'm moving. Tossing some things into a backpack and out the door. My neighbor is walking the dog. It is 4:20 a.m.

I drive to the airport and fly to San Diego. Not because I planned this. More because I missed my flight last night because, well, what is there to say? I forgot it. Didn't realize I was supposed to fly out Sunday night. So I rebooked it for a 6:20 a.m. flight through San Diego. You do what you can, right?

So I'm flying to San Diego for the same reasons I've flown through Phoenix three times this year. Just by accident, really.

So we land in San Diego and it's all May Grey and June Gloom. Beautiful, but cloudy of course. Always cloudy.

And I'm sitting waiting to board the flight to San Francisco and I realize I don't have a boarding pass. So I get them to print me another boarding pass, and we board.

The two behind me, a young woman and a young man...they board and get up in the last row of the plane. They're one row behind me. And she wants to put her laptop in the overhead bin. But he tells her that the overhead bin is for larger luggage and she should put it under the seat in front of her. The two of them must have been a couple, judging by her reaction.

She starts dog-cussing him for telling her where she can put her things. He calls her a high-maintenance bitch, saying she shouldn't be so overly concerned about her silly laptop.

She points out that he doesn't even own a laptop. He retorts that he owns one, only it's broken. And then, later, he thinks the better of it all and starts trying to smooth things over. He calls her "baby" and she's all like "I'm not your baby. Don't call me that. Who in the fvck are you to tell me where I can put my luggage anyway? How did you become the luggage police? How dare you?"

And he's trying to de-escalate the situation. So, he starts making observations. Trying to steer the conversation in a different direction. But he's speaking in a soft, almost feminine voice at this point. She's dominant at this point. It's all her. And she calls him out at every turn. At every opportunity. Establishing the pecking order over and over again and of course, I'm just in the row in front of them thinking how glad I am to be alone. Unfettered. I'll go to an early grave, clicking my heels that I'm single and don't have to tolerate a nagging bitch like the one behind me. I mean, I've got my headphones on and I'm getting her vitriol in spades. Nothing can impede this woman's tongue, apparently.

We're a little late because San Francisco is socked in with that grey-rain-drizzle that is the Pacific Northwest. Or the Pacific Coast, for that matter. And when it socks in San Francisco, the air traffic controllers want more space between the planes, so we fly these crazy circles over the Cargill Salt Flats at the south end of the bay and, well, if you've never seen the Cargill Salt Flats, they're just ponds of all crazy colors from red to green and yellow and blue. You name it. Insane.

So, where were we? Oh yes...flying to San Francisco via San Diego, looping crazy eight's across the San Francisco Bay, the San Mateo Bridge, etc. And now we touch down and it seems ok when we land. Looks dry, but I catch the shuttle to my bike, which I keep in covered parking at the FastTrack shuttle parking at SFO. Right? So I've always got one vehicle at the airport. A truck in Denver or a bike at SFO. And when we go on vacation, I have a bike at SFO and a truck at DEN and then we go somewhere else and rent a car. So this is where we are. It's an expensive game we play.

But I get on my bike and now it's raining, of course. I think I'll trade in the bike for a freaking submarine. So, I put on my "Dry Ducks", because I've figured that much out. I have raingear, anyway. So I put on my Dry Ducks and head into work. Nothing gets wet but my Walmart shoes and they're in bad shape anyway. They smell like a possum rotting in the sun. The top is worn off the left one from shifting. And they leak. Bad.

And I have an extra helmet because I borrowed Carol's helmet last week because I left my helmet in Colorado, so now I have two helmets, mine and her's. And I'm heading north on the US101 with a camera hanging around my neck but under my Dry Ducks and I just can't tell you how dangerous this road feels, but it feels bad. And it's raining. And I'm driving in the rain with a backpack and a 2nd helmet balanced precariously on the gas tank and a camera twisted around my neck and my helmet visor is all fogged up.

But somehow, I make it into work. I always do, don't I? Somehow?

So I get into work and walk across the street for lunch and there's a pair of socks hanging in a tree. A pair of socks. Folded together. In a tree. In the rain. San Francisco is a weird city, but this is weird, even for San Francisco.

So I get some food and haul it back across the street to this odd little brick building where I come and sit and wonder what it is that they want me for. This baffles me to no end. That people want me to be in the room with them. Only I sit and open my laptop and just I don't know what to do. I pretend to take notes, but of course I have no idea what's going on. So mostly I just nod a lot. I furrow my brown and make my eyes dart back and forth. That makes them think your're deep in thought, when really you're just wondering if it would be rude to leave and get another diet coke.

So, I'm sitting there at my desk, trying to imagine what it is that I'm supposed to be doing when suddenly there's a loud pop. Sounds like a fat person on the floor above us is about to fall through the ceiling and someone says "earthquake?" and there it is.

Like, great. I flew all this way. Survived the US101 in the rain, only to get killed by an earthquake. The problem with an earthquake is that now, we can look back and say "Oh, it was only a 3.8 and this is nothing to talk about." And this is true. I don't dispute that it was a small earthquake. I've been through a 5.0 and a 3.8 was trivial, by comparison. But, at the time, you don't know if this is the beginning or the end. You don't know if it's going to be a Japanese-style 9.0 or not. And, of course, that thought is out there. When someone says "Earthquake", no one knows if it's about to get better or worse.

So, I survive my 2nd earthquake and now, somehow, it's tax time. So this time, I decide that I'll do my taxes myself instead of paying some nimrod thousands of dollars to figure it out. So, I just sit down and start filling out the forms as best I can. The 1040 and the Schedule A and all of this stuff. I file tax returns in 3 different states. I'm just swinging for the fences and finally, about 8:00 p.m. I decide that I'll go drop them into the mail. They're probably not perfect, but they're close enough and I'm proud of them, the way a child is proud of their little stick-figure-drawings. And I get on my bike and drive down to the post office in the rain. The one that's open till midnight, of course.

And it's raining and I pull up to the place and they're standing out by the road, taking tax returns from people as they drive by in the street. Crazy. And only then does it dawn on me that I don't have any stamps. No stamps. And the post office closes at 8:30 p.m. They'll accept mail all night, but they quit selling stamps at 8:30 p.m. And I don't have any stamps, as I believe I've mentioned before.

So, I pull up in the rain and offer them...these people standing on the sidewalks in the rain...i offer them my mail and they're like...no...you have to have stamps. Go into the post office before they close.

So I pull my bike up on the sidewalk in the rain to buy stamps but there are 2 uniformed police turning people away. Close to a riot here. LIke...wtf? Sell my some stamps you commie?!!!

But these two jewish guys come up and their letters are stamped and I ask them...dude...do y'all have stamps? Will you sell me some?

Yeah. Sure. NO problem. So I follow them in the rain to their car. Standing in the rain. Bike back at the P.O. I don't know how much stamps are. I offer them 3 dollars for three stamps, but they just wave me off. I figure they were jewish because the stamps were menorah stamps. But these guys were as cool as anyone you'd ever meet and they wouldn't even take my money.

So now, I drive my bike back down the sidewalk in the rain, the wrong way, against traffic, if that makes any sense...I'm on the sidewalk after all. No plates, of course. And now come the news crews. Suddenly, I'm being filmed...this lunatic driving an enduro down the sidewalk in the rain at 8:40 p.m. at night on April 18th. I hand the sidewalk mail collectors several soggy envelopes with my state and federal returns in them. Addresses fading in the rain. News crew filming the whole miserable scene.

Will I be on TV? I ask.

"Channel 14 at 11" he says, and I wonder. Why is my life like this. Where did I go wrong?

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 18, 2011 at 10:31 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

The Aren't the Drones We're Looking For

Still trying to return my laptop to the minions at Sony. Woman today wants to know my Service Tag number and Serial Number and I explain to her that I don't have access to the laptop. It's not in my hands. I have no way of knowing what the Serial Number and Service Tag are. I dunno these things.

But I assure her that Sony knows them. They know what my Service Tag number is and my Serial Number is. And the fact that she doesn't know them is not my problem, as Sony knows this information for sure. That much is a fact. You don't ship products via FedEx across the continent and then not know what you sent them. That's not reality. That's not how businesses operate in 2011. Now, I don't doubt that she doesn't know these details. But that doesn't mean that someone at Sony doesn't know. Someone there does know, and she's just too stupid to realize this.

Why are you returning it sir?

Because y'all tricked my 13 year old daughter into attempting a data recovery that resulted in me losing 10,000 photos from a 10 day safari across the Hawaiian Islands.

So, finally she tells me that she'll hand me over to Sony Style Customer Care. But that I'll have to troubleshoot the PC with them before I can return it. I assure her on no uncertain terms that I'll not troubleshoot the laptop with Sony or anyone else. I'm not interested in trying to make it work. That's not in my pay grade.

I'm going to put this thing in a box and send it back to them and if they're not careful, I'm going to soak it in pig's blood before it leaves the compound.

So, we can do this hard or easy, but this thing is going back to Sony Style and I'm getting my money back. I don't give a tinker's damn whether they can get it working or not. It's none of my concern.

Reference Number: E50134209
Purchase Date: 3/21/11
Order Number: ST11032200448
Model Number: VPCYB15KX/S VAIO® Y Series Laptop

Finally, she connected me with another woman that said that, not only would they refund me the cost of the laptop, but they'd refund the cost of the expedited shipping as well. I assured them that I'd never deal with Sony again.

Reference Number: 110418-017715
Credit Amount: $631.79
Hello, Rob

We're sorry to see you return your merchandise.

Order Number: ST11032200448
RMA Number: R-ST11032200448-412

The following item(s) have been authorized to be returned:

Product: VPCYB15KX/S VAIO® Y Series Laptop
Per Unit Price: $524.99
Quantity to return: 1
Tax: $15.22
Total Estimated Price: $540.21

Return Reason: Defective Product

Dear Rob,

Thank you for choosing Sony Style. We appreciate your business.

Your credit request has been processed as follows:

Original Order Number: ST11032200448
Credit Order Number: A-ST11032200448-413
Credit Amount: $91.58
Credit Date: 04/18/2011

Please note that it may take 1 to 2 billing cycles for the credit to be visible on your credit card statement.

Thank you,

Sony Style Concierge
Dear Rob,

Thanks for shopping with Sony!

I'm sorry for the difficulties you experienced with your SonyStyle order, and I'd like to make your return as easy as possible. You will receive a separate email from Federal Express with your prepaid return label, but for your convenience I have also supplied the link for you to access this label immediately:

Online Label URL: https://www.fedex.com/OnlineLabel/login.do?labelUserCdDesc=ROBKISERRO&labelPasswordDesc=5HpB4JzpfX

Please be sure to return your items before the 14-day label expiration date.

Just put all items back in their original packaging, attach the shipping label to the box, and drop it off at your local FedEx office. Please keep the return tracking number for your records.

Once we receive your items, we will process a refund. This can take 7-10 business days from the date the warehouse receives your return and the credit will appear on your credit card statement within 1-2 billing cycles.

You can also check the status of your credit anytime by logging onto www.sonystyle.com and clicking on “My Account” then "Order Information". Simply click on your accommodation number R-ST11032200448-412 to see if it is listed as “credited.”

If there's anything else I can do to help, just let me know.

Thanks again for choosing Sony!

Mary Rose T

Sony Customer Care

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 18, 2011 at 6:16 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Magnitude 3.8 Earthquake in San Francisco

We just had a small earthquake out here in San Francisco, centered on the San Andreas Fault, between Pacifica and San Bruno. I felt the building shaking, and someone said "Earthquake?", and I was like..."oh wow." Not bad though. The building just shook a little.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 18, 2011 at 4:12 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Lions Rescued from Bolivian Circus

This weekend, Scottie and I took Jennifer, Rachel, and Dillon up to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keensburg to see the lions they recently rescued from a Bolivian circus. Apparently, these animals had never been outside of a small cage before. They seem to be doing better now. It's not exactly the African savannah, but I'm sure they like it better than they liked their little cage in Bolivia.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 18, 2011 at 9:23 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

This week in Colorado

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 18, 2011 at 1:07 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

This week in the city

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 18, 2011 at 12:49 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 17, 2011

Sony Vaio VPCYB15KX Laptop Return

Purchase Date: 3/21/11

Problem: Sony laptop crashed. Need to return for refund. End Session user Rob Kiser has entered room

analyst Regan_ has entered room

Regan_> Hi Rob. Welcome to Sony Online Support. I'm Regan. Please allow me a moment to review your concern.

Regan_> Thanks for waiting, Rob. I'm sorry that the VAIO computer is not responding as expected. I will be glad to assist you with this.

Rob Kiser> where can I ship this unit to return it? I need an RMA number or somethign like this.

Regan_> I'll assist you with the information, Rob.

Regan_> All the return/refund issues are handled by our Customer Information Service Center.

Rob Kiser> ok. how can i get in touch with them?

Regan_> Sure, I'll be glad to assist you with this regard.

Rob Kiser> some time today would be great.

Regan_> In this case, I suggest that you contact our Customer Information Service Center at:1-239-768-7545 to return the computer.

Regan_> Their hours of operation are: Mon-Fri 9:00AM-8:00PM ET

Rob Kiser> Not acceptable. I need to contact someone now.

Rob Kiser> i work during the week.

Regan_> Rob, I can understand your concern.

Rob Kiser> And?

Regan_> I'm really sorry to inform you that our Customer Information Service Center will be available on the above provided timings.

Regan_> I've discussed this with our supervisor already.

Rob Kiser> And it's not an 800 number?

Rob Kiser> Sweet.

Rob Kiser> This will be my last Sony purchase.

Rob Kiser> Trust me on this one.

Regan_> I'm sorry that you're confronting such issues with the Sony computer.

Rob Kiser> Vaio recovery process sucks. Lost all of my data.

Regan_> I'm sorry that the data from the computer is lost after performing the system recovery.

Regan_> Rob, if the computer is under warranty the support will be free of cost.

Rob Kiser> the trick is that it started the recovery process without telling my 13 year old daughter that it would delete all data in the process. No warning what-so-ever. Unacceptable.

Regan_> It is strongly recommended to bacjup the data before performing the system recovery.

Regan_> Moreover, the computer displays a warning message while performing the system recovery to backup the data.

Regan_> Performing a system recovery will erase all the data present in the computer and will reinstall the preinstalled operating system, applications and the original drivers.

Regan_> Before performing the system recovery to restore the computer to the factory settings, it is required to back up all the data from the computer.

Regan_> Rob, I'm sorry that the data from the computer is lost.

Regan_> Please let me know if you have any other questions or if you have it from here.

Regan_> I didn't receive a response. Are you still with me?

Rob Kiser> no.

Rob Kiser> no warning.

Rob Kiser> nice try.

Regan_> Rob, the computer will display the warning message to backup the data.

Rob Kiser> When you're in DOS, and you try to format the c: hard drive, it warns you "Warning...All Data Will Be Lost...Type 'YES' to continue".

Rob Kiser> Nothing like this occurred.

Rob Kiser> Just a threat that we should start the recovery process and a single mouse click.

Regan_> Warning "All Data Will Be Lost" is a message that computer displays before the process of the recovery.

Regan_> All Data Will Be Lost refers to the data that is stored in the computer.

Regan_> Rob, I can understand your concern.

Rob Kiser> But, you admit, they don't have to type "YES" to confirm. Just a mouse click from a 13-year old will suffice?

Regan_> I'm sorry that the data is lost while performing the system recovery.

Rob Kiser> Not nearly as sorry as I am.

Rob Kiser> Bye.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 17, 2011 at 12:19 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

April 15, 2011

Postcards From Nowhere: Hawaii

Jennifer and I recently returned from Spring Break in the Sandwich Islands, where we split our time between Oahu and the Big Island. The islands are beautiful, of course, and we drove all over them taking photos of birds and flowers. We swam in the ocean every day. Went boogey-boarding and swam with the sea turtles. Jennifer even managed to ride a dolphin.

The images were all captured on one of these frames [Canon EOS 7D, 40D, 50D] and a [Canon L-series image-stabilized, ultra-sonic telescopic zoom lens (EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM) with ET-83C hood] or a [Canon image-stabilized, ultra-sonic telescopic zoom lens (EF-S 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM)].

The images are compiled into a 9 Meg (3:22 Adobe Flash slideshow(hawaii.swf) that you should be able to open and view with any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.). To view the slideshow, just click on the photo above. If you want to view the slideshow as a Windows executable, you can play this version (hawaii.exe), and it allows you to play, pause, skip forward, backwards, etc.

Image post-processing was done in Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended. The slideshow was created using Imagematics Stillmotion Pro.

The soundtrack is 'Raise Your Glass' by Pink. I chose this song because Jennifer and I heard it while we were driving around in the Jeep with the top down on Oahu.

Click here to view the other slideshows.

Continue reading "Postcards From Nowhere: Hawaii"

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 15, 2011 at 9:58 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

My World

It's been cold in San Francisco this week and, like a genius, I left my helmet and gloves in Colorado. So, I borrowed a helmet, but I've been driving all week without gloves and it's pretty cold out here. So, today I was driving down the street in the Mission District and I spotted two gloves in the street, about 20 yards apart. A matching pair, no less. So, of course, I went back and picked them up and put them on. I'm like..."Score!". They're like knit-wool gloves, or whatever. Not as good as leather, but better than nothing.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 15, 2011 at 1:18 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 14, 2011

Coconut Milk Soup

There's a Thai place near my flat on Russian Hill. Christine and Carol took me there Tuesday night, and they make this "Coconut Milk Soup" with Lemon Grass and...you just can't know how good this is. There aren't words.

The soup base sort of reminded me of the sopa de mariscos served in the roadside shacks of San Quintin, Baja California del Norte. Also, at a little place in Palpa, Peru, a similar sopa fresh-water prawns. The soup base seems to be very similar; something not common in the U.S., I think.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 14, 2011 at 11:41 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Pride of Madeira

The "Pride of Madeira" (Echium candicans or Echium fastuosum), a shrub from the borage family (boraginaceae), native to the Madeira archipelago. This flower has bothered me since I arrived in San Francisco back in February. I've been pulling my hair out trying to find out what it is. I see this all over the place and no one knows what it is. I'd never even heard of the "Pride of Madeira", or even of the Madeira archipelago, for that matter. But it is a spectacular flower.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 14, 2011 at 8:59 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 11, 2011

Trojan Horse BackDoor.Generic 13

Wow. I think I finally turned the corner on a nasty computer virus. I hard a hard time getting on top of this one. Don't know where it came from. AVG saw it, but couldn't get rid of it. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware could always see it, but couldn't get rid of it.

Registry Data Items Infected:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows\Load (Trojan.Agent) -> Data: c:\docume~1\rob\locals~1\temp\csrss.exe -> Quarantined and deleted successfully.

Files Infected:
C:\Documents and Settings\Rob\Local Settings\Temp\csrss.exe (Trojan.Agent) -> Delete on reboot.

The trick was that there was a file named "C:\Documents and Settings\Rob\Local Settings\Temp\csrss.exe" that I couldn't delete. This was the Trojan Horse, and he was getting loaded into memory at startup by the Registry Key "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows\Load (Trojan.Agent) -> Data: c:\docume~1\rob\locals~1\temp\csrss.exe".

Finally, I had to reboot in Safe Mode. Once I was in Safe Mode, I could unload the process csrss.exe using Task Killer. Once the process was unloaded, I deleted the file and rebooted. It came up saying it couldn't find the file csrss.exe, so I scanned the registry and deleted the references to this file "c:\docume~1\rob\locals~1\temp\csrss.exe". This one is kinda tricky though, because there is a valid csrss.exe in the registry, but it's located in the system32 folder. So, don't delete that one, of course. Hahaha. Wow. That was a close one.

Update: I never could get on top of this one. I ended up having to reinstall the O/S.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 11, 2011 at 5:09 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 9, 2011

Recovered Photos from Hawaii - Day 10 (April 3rd)

Above: Ko'olau Mountain Range on the windward side of Oahu, looking south from Waimanalo.

Above: Kailua Bay and the Mokulua islands on the windward side of Oahu, as seen looking north from Waimanalo.

Above: Brian arrives with his massive Deardorff large format 8"x10" camera. Very cool to see how one of these things actually functions. Felt like I went back in time a hundred years, but a very cool old-school camera.

Above: Jennifer and James.

Above: Plumeria.

Above: Orchids.

Above: Red ginger (Alpinia purpurata).

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 9, 2011 at 7:47 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Recovered Photos from Hawaii - Day 9 (April 2nd)

Above: Looking north across the Waipio valley on the windward side of the big island of Hawaii.

Above: Looking north across the Waipio valley on the windward side of the big island of Hawaii.

Above: Looking north across the Waipio valley on the windward side of the big island of Hawaii.

Above: Orange Llily (possibly Lilium bulbiferum).

A simple way to tell lilies from orchids and even from irises:

* Lilies have long stamens with conspicuous pollen at the ends.
* Irises have only 3 stamens.
* Orchids have one column supporting two or more packages of pollen called pollinia.

Above: A tree warped by the constant trade winds that blow across the island from the Northeast. Jennifer and I photographed this same tree in August of 2006. She even remembered which side of the road it was on when I was having trouble locating it.

Above: Barbados Lily (Hippeastrum puniceum).

Above: Shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet).

Above: Barbados Lily (Hippeastrum puniceum).

Above: Plumeria.

Above: Waikiki at night.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 9, 2011 at 7:35 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Recovered Photos from Hawaii - Day 8 (April 1st)

Above: Jennifer poses before a massive green sea turtle ("Honu") mural designed and produced by Michelle Obregon at the Hale Halawaii Cultural Center in Kailua-Kona.

Above: Palm trees along the beach in Kailua-Kona.

Above: Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) hen with chicks in the mountains above Kailua-Kona.

Above: Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) hen in the mountains above Kailua-Kona.

Above: Banana Passion Fruit (Passiflora mollisima), a flowering vine in the mountains above Kailua-Kona.

Above: Banana Passion Fruit (Passiflora mollisima), a flowering vine in the mountains above Kailua-Kona.

Above: Banana Passion Fruit (Passiflora mollisima), a flowering vine in the mountains above Kailua-Kona.

Above: A male Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelano) attempts to attract a hen.

Above: Orange Llily (possibly Lilium bulbiferum).

Above: Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) hen in the mountains above Kailua-Kona.

Above: View from Kona Joe's at Kealakekua, HI.

Above: Jennifer petting the owner's cat at a little shave ice place we like just south of the Place of Refuge.

Above: The geckos hang out at the shave ice place because they love to drink whatever the people spill.

Above: A papaya tree with a gecko eating the ripe fruit (barely visible in this image.)

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 9, 2011 at 7:15 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Recovered Photos from Hawaii - Day 1 (March 25th)

Above: The Mokulua islands off of Lanai, on the windward side of Oahu.

All of our photos from Hawaii have been successfully recovered by one of the most talented computer technicians on the planet. I've waded through all of the photographs and will be posting more as time permits.

Above: Jennifer, with a Plumeria lei, in a 2011 Jeep with 614 miles on it with the top down. After riding in the jeep, she decided we needed one.

Above: Jennifer, in the Jeep. "Seriously, dad. We need a Jeep."

Above: Jennifer at the Pali Lookout.

Above: Daddy and Jennifer at the Pali Lookout.

Above: Jennifer at the Pali Lookout.

Above: Jennifer ponders her order at Keneke's in Waimanalo. Somehow, she actually remembered what I ordered at this place in August of 2006.

Above: Jennifer at Keneke's in Waimanalo with a Likikoi (Passion Fruit) Shave Ice.

Above: My boss Brian finally gets his hands on some decent camera equipment.

Above: Brian posing with the L-Series Canon f/4.0 IS USM 600mm lens and Canon EOS 7D.

Above: Jennifer at the beach in Waimanalo.

Above: James, the mechanical genius, is building golf carts in his back yard. He took the engine out of a Yamaha Virago motorcycle and put it in a golf cart, believe it or not.

Above: Surf hut at Waimanalo.

Above: Jennifer and James going for a quasi-legal ride down the beach in James' custom golf cart.

Above: Jennifer on the beach at Waimanalo.

Above: Jennifer with a coconut.

Above: Spider Lily.

Above: Girl blowing a conch shell.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 9, 2011 at 6:40 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 8, 2011

Recovered Hawaii Photo Exif Data Test

Update: It appears as though my EXIF data is intact.

I'm attempting to rename my photos from April 1, but my "Date Modified" and "Date Created" stamps aren't right. They show April 4. So, I tried renaming in IRFanView using some of the EXIF data, but I can't get the EXIF Date Time stamps to work when renaming the files with IRFanView. So, I'm attempting to change the file attributes with something like Attribute Magic right now.

Update 2: I tried NameExif, and it's free, but not really flexible enough for what I need. (Go figure.)

Update 3: Yeah, OK. So I finally broke down and paid the $30 for Attribute Magic Pro. This is a slick little application. Basically, it allowed me to change the Windows Explorer "Date Created" and "Date Modified" file attributes to be the same as the "Date Picture Taken" in the EXIF data. Once I had modified the attributes, then I was able to rename the images as I normally do using IRFanView. So, I've now successfully recovered all of my Hawaii photos.

I still need to copy some Hawaii photos down from one CF card in my last functioning camera, however. So I still don't have an official tally on the number of photos I shot over there. My guess is somewhere north of 10,000 images.

And I've still not even really glanced at my photos from Day 1, or Days 8-10.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 8, 2011 at 11:47 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Add salt to your coffee

Never heard of this trick before, but I'll try it.


Posted by Rob Kiser on April 8, 2011 at 6:25 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 7, 2011

Hawaii Photos 3/30/11 - 4/1/11

Hmmm. I was verifying that I'd recovered all of my files from Hawaii, but looks like the files I've recovered end on 3/29/11. It looks like I'm missing the 3/30 - 3/31 photos.

For clarification, the incident occurred about 6:00 p.m. HST on 4/1/2011. Hmmmm.
I'm not really clear at this point if I'd copied my photos off of my cameras from Friday 4/1/2011 or not. Hmmmm.

OK. Hold the line. I just found most, if not all, of the images in question from 3/30 - 3/31.

OK. That seems to have worked. This looks better.
I've recovered images 16,000 through 23,881, which should be about 7,882 images. When I select them, it says I have 7,746 objects selected, so I'd say I'm short by about 136 images, which I can live with, I think. I believe I could tease out these 136 images if I were so inclined, which I'm really not at this point. I think I'll order another beer instead.

OK. Hold the line. Hmmm. I'm trying to reconstruct our trip and photos. The last day we were on the Big Island was Saturday, April 2nd. On this day, we drove up to the Waipio Valley on the windward side of Hawaii. I believe that these images should be on my new 8 gig memory card that we purchased at Wal-mart in Kailua-Kona Saturday morning. - I have confirmed this. My images from the Waipio Valley are still on the new CF card. Also photos from Oahu on Saturday 4/2 - Sunday 4/3.

So, I am still missing my photos from Friday 4/1. These images would be of the birds and flowers Jennifer and I saw when driving in the mountains above Kona on Friday. I never posted any images from Friday, probably because I never copied these files onto my computer. Which means that, in all probability, they're on my home server in Colorado as I probably recovered them (or more accurately copied them) over on Monday during my very brief stay in Colorado.

In all probability, I should have these photos. I may possibly have copied them onto Jennifer's laptop. though I'm not sure of that.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 7, 2011 at 9:38 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Hawaii Photo Recovery Project

As of this morning, I've successfully recovered my Hawaii photos. In the end, I recovered approximately 7,000 photos. About 100 photos are missing, but this is expected because I delete photos that are radically over-exposed or underexposed. Also, because I'm shooting with Auto-exposure bracketing, it takes 3 photos for every image I capture. So it's really only 33 photos (x3).

Even these 33 (or 100) photos can be recovered, if I decide to dig further for them. I'm just not clear at this point that I'm interested in pursuing it any further. I've recovered the photos I was after.

One of the benefits of this unfortunate incident is that I now have a 1 Terabyte USB 3.0 "Rugged" external drive, designed to survive a 2 meter fall which I'll carry with me on my travels. This will be one additional measure of safety when I'm on extended travels away from home.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 7, 2011 at 3:31 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Back in the City

Back in the city.

It's really hard driving in the city. In the mountains, you learn to watch out for elk and deer. Coyotes and foxes.

But in the city, nothin's the same and everything's different. In the city, you learn to watch for pedestrians and cab drivers. They're the worst. Loose canons. They move erratically and unpredictably.

You watch for people opening car doors and emergency vehicles running lights. Every day, I try to find a better route in. Trying to balance speed and safety. Find a route that's quick, but safe.

You want to avoid Hyde and Powell, California and Market. Many of these streets have trolleys...not just the famous cable cars, but New Orleans-style trolleys powered by overhead lines. But the tracks are what kill you. Cross them wrong in the rain and you'll be sliding down the wet asphalt, pinned beneath your bike.

At night, I lie awake in bed, listening to the city's beating heart. Motorcycles racing through the broadway tunnel. Drunk people screaming and crying. Cursing and singing.

This is the city. This is what it does to you.

In the mountains, you don't really see the homeless, but in the city, they seem to be everywhere at once, rolling through the streets in wheelchairs, panhandling on crutches, and scouring the public trash bins for aluminum cans.

The last week I was in San Francisco, it rained every day. I was convinced I'd never see the sun again. I carried a cold with me like luggage through this city for 4 weeks, as it never warmed up enough for me to shake it.

Only Hawaii cured my cold. It went away as soon as we walked into the warm humid air of Honolulu. But now, back in the city, the weather is much better. Warmer and sunnier than before.

Everything seems to be exploding at once and, it's a little cold today, but the sunshine pulls the flowers from their winter homes and as I drive through the city, I'm so glad to be back.

All of these new flowers I've never seen before are just exploding all around me. I get lost on the way to my presentation but I don't care. I'm just lost in the heights above the city, near one of those countless parks that dot the city. The colors just burn my retinas. So much color splayed across the walls and gardens. I want to stop and shoot for hours but work is work and it's calling me away. I have only these precious few minutes when I drive the bike from the office to my weekly presentation.

The others all take the shuttle, but I take my bike cuz it's quicker, and that buys me these few precious minutes to cruise the parks. It's all there is. All we have is this day. These few precious moments to drink in what makes life worth living.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 7, 2011 at 3:28 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 6, 2011

1 Terabyte Portable Rugged External Hard Drive

When I attempted to restore my photos from the crashed laptop to my other laptop, the hard drive filled up. So after work today, I went by Central Computers and picked up an external hard drive. I ended up going with the LaCie 1 TB Rugged USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive (301945).

Then, when I got home to the crib on Russian Hill, I started recovering my Hawaii photos onto the new 1 Terabyte external drive. I started copying the files over at 8:00 p.m. PDT. It's been running for about 90 mins so far. Says it's 29% complete, has recovered 20,000 image files, and estimated time left is 4 hours. So, I'll let it run all night and hopefully it will finish successfully this time.


Posted by Rob Kiser on April 6, 2011 at 10:25 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

April 5, 2011

Recovering Photos from a Sony Vaio VPCYB15KX Laptop w/ Windows 7 & Hitachi 500 Gig 2.5" SATA Hard Drive

On Monday two weeks ago, I purchased a brand new Sony Vaio VPCYB15KX Laptop running Windows 7, with 4 Gigs of RAM and a Hitachi 500 Gig 2.5" SATA Hard Drive. Had them FedEx it to my house. It arrived on Thursday and, when I got in from San Francisco, I stayed up all night playing with it. Getting it all torqued up for the trip to Hawaii. Flew out to Honolulu with it early Friday morning, happy as a pig in slop.

I hauled 3 cameras, 3 lenses (including the 13 lb Canon IS USM 600mm f/4), a laptop, and an enormous Gitzo carbon fiber tripod out to Hawaii, planning on doing some fairly serious shooting.

Every day, I'd lug my gear into the rain forests, shooting the birds and flowers and whatever else I felt like shooting. Then every night, I'd diligently copy the images over to my laptop, rename them with IRFanView, pick out my favorite images, resize them, and upload the resized images to one of my servers in Colorado through an RDP tunnel.

This worked well enough up until last Friday night - our last night on the 'big island'. On that particular night, Jennifer asked to use my laptop. The reason she wanted to use my laptop instead of hers was that a) the internet cost $10 a day at our hotel and b) you could only use one laptop to access it the way they had it set up and c) I couldn't figure out how to get ICS (Internet Connection Sharing) working on Windows 7 so that I could share one internet connection between both of our computers. So, I said "sure...you can use my laptop" (because I'm too cheap to pay $10 to get a second internet connection for your laptop.

Also, I should point out that I would normally use my Motorola Razor as a tethered modem to access the internet, but the "Verizon Access Manager Software" for Windows 7 doesn't support the Razor, to the best of my knowledge.

So, I told Jennifer she could use my computer, which was turned off.

Now, I'm not clear what happened next, but this is what I think happened.

For some reason, when I had last turned on my new laptop, it asked me if I wanted to attempt some sort of "Sony Vaio Recovery" (or words to that effect). I wasn't sure what it wanted to do, or why it was asking me, so I said 'No", and the computer booted up just fine.

I suspect that, when Jennifer saw that same message, she must have said "Sure, go for it", or words to that effect. I'm not sure. The only thing I noticed was that, after she'd turned the computer on, she turned away from it and started playing with her iPhone 32Gig 3GS.

Eventually, I was like "Why aren't you using the computer?" and I turned it so I could see the screen and was horrified to realize that it was "75% complete" with some type of "recovery" process. I watched it for a second or two....it didn't seem to be progressing...then I turned it off and started seriously freaking out.

"I canceled it," she said.

And of course, I'm like freaking out. I turned it back on and it said something like "Operating System Not Found" and I'm like "nice job. you just deleted all of my photos."

Now, for the record, nothing that Jennifer did should have caused me to lose my data. This was my own fault. What I should have been doing was copying my photos over to her laptop every night so I had a backup. Another good solution would have been to create a folder on my CF cards called "best" and copied over my best photos (say 20 out of 2,000) that I shot every day, and then at least I'd have had my best photos still on my CF cards. Finally, Sony should not be asking someone to do a "Recovery" without warning them "You are about to reformat the hard drive and delete all data on this computer. Do you understand this? Type YES to confirm." I can only assume that they're not doing this, because Jennifer would not have done that, I don't think.

Be that as it may....

I called Sony and talked to them and they were very stupid and the guy was reading some little book, flipping the pages. Just as dumb as a bag of hammers. He could restore my O/S, he assured me, but not the data.

The first thing I did was buy a new CF card and start shooting with that one, so that I wouldn't write over any deleted photos from my CF cards. I had some success at restoring data from the CF cards using a free software program called Recuva. You can read more about those efforts here.

So, now that I'm back on the mainland, I decided to attempt to restore the data myself because I'm too cheap to pay someone, of course.

Now, whether or not my little data recovery effort works, remains to be seen. But I was able to make a lot of progress today, IMHO.


Continue reading "Recovering Photos from a Sony Vaio VPCYB15KX Laptop w/ Windows 7 & Hitachi 500 Gig 2.5" SATA Hard Drive"

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 5, 2011 at 12:25 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

April 4, 2011

The Magic Packet

I've finally decided that I can't live with my home network the way it is any more. The problem I have is that I can't remotely cycle my servers. I need to be able to turn them on and off from a different time zone, and I can't do this, and it's driving me nuts.

There is supposed a solution called "Wake on LAN" (WOL) that involves "magic packets". It is supposedly supported by Windows XP, but the question is whether or not my computers will support waking from an "S5" (Power Off) state.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 4, 2011 at 11:56 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

6 Hours in Colorado

I'm back in San Francisco. I was in Colorado for something like 6 hours. Hawaii was fun, but expensive. I think we probably spent close to a trillion dollars in the islands. I ran Jennifer ragged. The last night, in Honolulu, we sort of just hung out at the hotel because she was too tired to move. Some little boy was hitting on her on the flight back from Phoenix. He asked her "where are you guys coming from?" like Jennifer is a "guy" somehow.

She said, "Hawaii." and he was like "That's where we were also. What island were you on?"

"We were on Oahu and the big island."

"We were only on Oahu," he said. And then he offered her some gum. Pretty funny. I think he was probably 10 or 11.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 4, 2011 at 11:40 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Back in Colorado

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 4, 2011 at 12:19 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

In Phoenix, taking off for Denver

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 4, 2011 at 9:37 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Aloha-taking off for the mainland

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 4, 2011 at 2:20 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

April 3, 2011

Hawaii Day 10 - Data Recovery in Waikiki

Jennifer and I ran over to Waimanalo this morning to see Brian again. Jen and I boogeyboarded for a while and then Brian took some photos of us with his ginormous 8" x 10" large format Deardorff camera. It's really a piece of work. I've never actually seen one used before.

In any event, now we're back in Waikiki resting and I'm trying to recover some of the lost files (using Jennifer's PC. Mine is toast.)

First, I'm attempting to recover files from my CF memory cards. I started with a 1 Gig Compact Flash (CF) card that I don't think I even used on this trip just as a test case. I'm using this software called Recuva.

First, I verified that there were no files on the 1 gig CF card. Then, I ran Recuva in the fast mode (not using Deep Scan) and It found 203 files right away...in less than a second. Then, I reran it in the deep scan mode, and it found one more file, so I have a total of 204 files so far. I'll attempt to recover them. Note that these files appear to be from Jennifer's stop-frame animation projects, not Hawaii photos at all.

I told it to recover the files, and it recovered 204 files in 238.9 seconds. Which isn't too shabby, to my way of thinking. I verified that the files were recovered to the new directory I created on Jen's C drive. Fair enough.

So I decided to try this same process with one of my 8 gig CF cards I used on the trip. First, I verified that there were no valid photos in the DCIM folder on the 8 gig CF card.

When I told it to scan the card, the Recuva software immediately found 2,078 picture files. So I told it to go ahead and do the "Deep Scan" of the 8 gig memory card to see if it could turn up anything else. In the end, it found a total of 3,137 picture files (an additional 1,059 photos) in 1551.38 seconds (approx 25 minutes) on the 8 gig CF card.

Then, I told it to recover the files to a new folder I created on Jen's C drive. The software initially estimated the recovery time at 40 minutes.

Unfortunately, most of the files that are being "recovered", appear to be damaged or corrupted. Windows Photo Viewer (in Windows7) says "Windows Photo Viewer can't open this picture because the file appears to be damaged, corrupted, or is too large."

Hmmm. It seems like now the files that are being restored appear to be good (uncorrupted) photos. Woohoo! So, I'm able to recover some of my photos anyway. :)

OK. The program said that it recovered 3,137 .jpg files in 2,765.40 seconds (approx 46 minutes). Of these files, approximately 1,064 of the images appear to viewable and uncorrupted.

Now, I'm deep scanning my 2nd 8 gig CF card. Right away, it said it found 2,044 files. Now, it's deep scanning the CF card. Says it has 50 minutes left. I'm going out for dinner in Waikiki.

OK. Back from dinner. Jennifer's laptop hibernated because she doesn't have the power options set correctly. I fixed them. It's continuing now. Says 5 minutes left.

It completed. Says it found 2,913 files in 5,552.61 seconds (approx 92 minutes, but we were gone to dinner and the laptop hibernated while we were gone). So, it looks like it found an additional 869 picture files in the "deep scan" mode.

I told it to recover these 2,913 files and it's off to the races. Estimated time to recover is 40-50 minutes. But, oddly, it looks like the same thing is happening with this CF card. The files that are found immediately are copied over, but corrupted. The picture files that are found in the "deep scan" mode, on the other hand, are recovered successfully.

I emailed one of the corrupted files to my home computer, opened an RDP tunnel to it, and attempted to open the image in Adobe Photoshop CS5, but got this message:
"Could not complete your request because an unknown or invalid JPEG marker type is found."

I then opened the file in a Hex Editor, and it appears to be valid data. It's not just all binary zeros or anything. So, it's possible that a fix exists for this.

I tried opening the same file in IRFanView and it says "Can't read file header ! Unknown file format or file not found !" This is interesting, however. This is the first indication I've seen that the file header is problematic.

Cam2PC says "Error decoding image file _MG_0992.jpg"

I might try using this PhotoRescue software. OK. I downloaded the Trial Version of PhotoRescue 3.1. I figure that a) I have nothing to lose and b) it might be able to repair some of my corrupted .jpg files.

At the end of the 2nd 8gig CF card recovery, the software said it had recovered 2,913 files in 3,212.51 seconds (approximately 53 minutes). Of these, approximately 1,182 pictures files are viewable.

OK. Attempted to scan the 16 gig memory card on Jen's laptop with Recuva.com, using Deep Scan. Said it found 10367 files (34308 ignored) in 4,477.6 seconds (approx 74 minutes). Only then did I realize I'd scanned the c: drive instead of the j: drive. Doh!

Rescanning using my home PC. Also copying 24.2 Gigs (6,262 image files) of my recovered files off of Jen's laptop and onto the 4 Terabyte WD ShareSpace RAID Level 5 array. OK. Looks like it copied the files over to my WD ShareSpace.

recovered_photos_1_Gig = 204 files
recovered_photos_8_gig = 3,137 files
recovered_photos_8_gig_Card_2 = 2,914 files

Now, my desktop has completed the first pass at recovering the 16 Gig CF card. Says it found 4,227 files in 5,069 seconds (approx 84 minutes).

So, I switched to advanced mode, selected to restore all files, and it's restoring now to the w:\recovered_photos_16_gig folder.

I can't connect remotely to my desktop for whatever reason, now that I'm at the DEN airport. I just get a black screen. But if I connect to my home network through a different computer, it looks like I recovered approximately 2,100 viewable images from the 16 gig memory card. Not all of these photos are from Hawaii, however.

It looks like approximately 1,114 viewable photos from the 16 gig memory card were photos from Hawaii.


Posted by Rob Kiser on April 3, 2011 at 7:40 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Hawaii Day 9 - Nuff Hotels Already

Gate 9

I'm sweating profusely in an open air terminal at Kailua-Kona Airport. Somewhere, a sign says Gate 9, but it's a fair way down there and I can't be sure I'm in the right line. There are no signs that say "Hawaiian Airlines Flight So-and-so to Honolulu". Nothing like that. Just some flowered trees and sweaty tourists loafing about in the shade.

I spy a guy near me. He must work for the airlines out on the tarmac. He's dressed that way anyhow.

"It's a hot one out there today, huh bud?"

"Yeah, it is." he laments.

And then his voice trails off and I know he hates me.

I'm wearing fifteen grand of Canon and deep down, I know he wants to kill me. Wants to hack me to pieces with a machete and dump my body into the churning surf on the leeward side of the island.

I didn't mean to rub it in. I really didn't. Just making idle chit chat, in my mind anyway. But he wants to kill me. This much is clear.

Nuff Hotels Already

On the North Shore of Oahu, along King Kamehameha highway, a hand made sign reads "Nuff Hotels Already".

The truth about Hawaii is that everyone on the island hates tourists. They despise us, as surely as they rue the mongoose, boar, and gecko. Of this, there can be no dispute.

The only jobs in Hawaii are a) working for the government or b) catering to the tourist trade. So, working for the government is obviously not something most people would find rewarding. But catering to tourists, is probably even less desirable.

I once worked in Orlando and I asked my boss what it was like to live there. He said it was awful because, no matter where you went after work, everyone else seemed to be on this perpetual vacation. Spending lavishly. Drinking. Dining. Blowing through money like water. When you're an average guy, working during the week, and living for the weekends, this is almost intolerable. To see everyone around you constantly vacationing and living the high life must be somewhat disillusioning, if not depressing.

Now, that was in Orlando. Where every redneck with enough cash to buy a tank of gas can get to for the weekend. Imagine what it's like in Hawaii. In general, the people flying out here aren't exactly poor. They're probably considerably better off, as a general rule, than your average Disney miscreant.

Christine, my roomie in the flat on Russian Hill in San Francisco, she tells a story about a friend of hers...a white guy...they call the whites haoles ("pronounced "howlies") out here...well he came out here to Hawaii and he smarted off to a couple of mokes (mokes are big dumb Hawaiian dudes that you don't want to smart off to) and they beat him so badly that the doctors didn't know what to do with his face. Without photos, it was like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle without the benefit of the picture on the box. So they called his family and asked them to fax pictures of his face from the mainland so they had a target to shoot for. You think I'm making this up, but I'm not. Christine tells me that It happened to her friend. And that the guy's alive, but not quite right since the incident. Christine told me this story when we went to Mel's Diner on Van Ness several years ago on a date that I remember, but somehow she fails to recall.


Jen and I fly from Kona to Honolulu and this is where it begins. This is where everything starts to spiral back to normalcy. I'm now deep in the pocket of this airline ride that goes Kona - Honolulu - Phoenix - Denver - San Francisco. Right? I've flown more this year than most airline pilots, I'm pretty sure.

So we land in Honolulu and some poor soul is trying to rent a jeep at a rental car place and I tell him..."dude...you can't imagine how hard it is to figure out how to put that top up on the 2011 Jeep. Seriously."

I mean...you try to warn people about these things. To no avail, of course. But you have to try, right? It's the humane thing to do. The top was designed by Rube Goldberg for Christ's sake.

Of course, once I mention this, they hand him a 9 page xeroxed document with photos explaining how to take the top down and put it back up, something no one bothered to offer me when I rented the miserable Jeep last week.

So we rent our car and check into a hotel in Waikiki and always, always, always they stick me in the worst room in the hotel. Maybe it's my "Hang Loose" cowboy hat with the big gaping hole in it. Maybe it's my accent. Who knows? But something about me says "Sucker Punch Me" and they put me in Room 511 and it's literally behind the elevator and beside the wiring closet, with a view of the alley out back. Seriously. But I just don't even care anymore. It's for one night. What's the diff?

Jen and I walk down to the main drag and down the beach a bit. I show her the Outrigger hotel, the statue of Duke next to the police substation, and we watch some hula dancers on the beach. Then I drag her down Kalakaua Avenue and through the International Marketplace.

The whole time, I've got my eyes out for the whores of Waikiki. At night, they come out like Formosan termites and stalk the tourists along the Kalakaua.

I seriously want to show her how some people end up, surviving on meth and prostitution - turning tricks in front of the police substation. To warn her that life is full of dead ends and you have to walk the straight and narrow or you might end up in a very bad place.

You think I'm making this up, but I'm not. This is what goes on here in Honolulu. The Japanese mafia (Yakuza) controls the drugs and prostitution on this island and the police just look the other way. Why? I don't know. But that's how it is here.

But the whores aren't out yet so I take her for ice cream at this spot I used to hit when I lived in Waikiki, only when I get there, everything's changed. There used to be a store here, I'm pretty sure..where they served ice cream by the scoop. That's how I remember it anyway. Only now, everything's changed and, instead of my ice cream store, it's a just another generic tourist shop and I know Jen thinks I'm off my rocker.

She doesn't say anything...that's not her style. She wouldn't call me out on it. But she wonders if her old man isn't on the wrong corner. There is that doubt in the corner of her eyes. You can see that in there, certainly.

And the thing about this past is that, once it's gone, it's gone. And it lives on only in the memories of those who are still alive. So, there's no real way to prove that this place used to sell ice cream. It's not like that really. That's not how it works. Only you can try to find someone else that saw it there. That can confirm that there was once, indeed, an ice cream bar here.

So I ask one of the worker bees there..."how long has this store been here?"

Now, the problem about being on the Pacific Rim is that there are so many asians. And, although there's nothing inherently wrong with asians, I can't tell what they're saying. I'm around hispanics enough to where I can pretty much communicate adequately with them in Spanish.

But with the asians, this is not possible. They speak too many different languages. They didn't benefit from the conquistadors like the people in central and south america. So, you can't really know if they speak Korean, Japanese, Chinese, etc. It's a lost cause.

And their English is tough. I don't get their English, of course. Just not at all. And if they speak in their native language, I start having flashbacks, and I wasn't even in Vietnam, but it makes me want to start spraying a machine gun and tossing grenades. But I digress.

She goes and gets her manager.

"How long this been here?" she asks her manager.

"How long?" her manager mulls this over. She doesn't understand the question.

"What year?" I ask, thinking this might break the mental log-jam.

"Oh. Tree or foe years," she announces.

"What was here before?"


"Did they have an icecream bar?"

"Ice cream over here. Yes."

So, I'm not insane. Or, maybe that doesn't prove it either way. But it helps me. These little things do.

We come back to the hotel and, as we come into the hotel, a guy with a lot of tattoos falls in with us and walks with us and stands with us at the elevator. Jennifer pushes the button and when the elevator opens, she starts for the elevator but I call her back.

"Wait a minute. Come here. I want to show you something."

And the heavily tattooed guy gets on the elevator and disappears.

"Did you see how that guy walked up with us? He fell in with us as we entered the hotel. So that anyone that saw us would assume the 3 of us were together. But we weren't together. I don't know him from Adam. I didn't like that."

"Oh," she says. 'OK."

"We'll take the next elevator. It's not a big deal. Probably it was nothing. But you have to trust your instincts. Most people tell you that we're all the same and 'can't we all just get along', but we're not all the same. And we can't all just get along. That's not reality."

"The true reality is that there are some very bad people out there in the world. You've got to learn to trust your instincts."

"People wonder how it is that I've managed to go through Mexico, Peru, and Cuba and somehow slither back into the United State in one piece, but a big part of it is trusting your instincts."

"If something inside of you warns you about someone, for any reason, you've got to listen to your instincts. Maybe the guy is Black. Maybe he's Mexican. Maybe he's covered in tattoos. It doesn't matter. This isn't about being politically correct. It's about your safety. If you see something you don't like, you walk away. That's all. You got it?"

"Yes sir."

Update: FYI, I'm posting this using Jennifer's laptop. Mine is shut down and inoperable. Will attempt to have data retrieved on it in San Francisco on Tuesday. Am currently out 2 cameras, one laptop, one GPS. Down to my last functioning camera. Fingers crossed that it holds out for one more day. Power went out at the house in Colorado, but the neighbors were nice enough to reboot my servers when the power was restored.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 3, 2011 at 1:18 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

April 1, 2011

Technology Meltdown

2nd camera died today. brand new sony vaio laptop crashed. may have lost everything.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 1, 2011 at 9:40 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Windows 7 and ICS - A bridge too far

Wow. Tried to turn on Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) with Windows 7. I'll save you the effort. Just go hang yourself instead. You'll thank me later. In the end, I couldn't get it to work, and then I couldn't figure out how to delete my Ad Hoc Network. Finally, I figured out how to delete the Ad Hoc Network I created.

" I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."
J. Robert Oppenheimer


Posted by Rob Kiser on April 1, 2011 at 1:15 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Hawaii Day 7 - Black Sand Beach (Canon EOS 7D Takes a Pill)

Above: The fields just east of Na'alehu, Hawaii.

Today, we drove down the Kailua-Kona coast of the Big Island to Punaluʻu Beach (Black Sand Beach) to snorkel and check out the Honu (Green Sea turtles). Along the way, we stopped in Na'alehu for lunch at the Punalu'u Bake Shop, the "Southernmost Bakery in the U.S.A" .

I setup my big lens on the Gitzo tripod and turned my back. Next sound I heard was the camera falling over. I'm not clear why this happened, but it did fall over. Zero wind. Brand new Canon EOS 7D no longer functions. :(

Fortunately, if I've learned anything about Canon it's that one camera is good. Two is better. Three is better still. So, I had 3 camera frames on the trip. Now I have 2. Also, my 100-400mm lens isn't working right. Autofocus won't lock and allow the trigger to release. So, it's essentially a Manual focus only lens at this point. So, basically, 1 week in the field, and I'm down from 3 lenses and 3 frames to 2 lenses and 2 frames. Ouch.

Update: Just for clarification, this is not an April Fool's joke. Just a bad day in the field. But I've had bad days before and, if you're going to take expensive gear into the field, it's going to get broken. It's just the nature of the beast.

Above: The coast east of Na'alehu, Hawaii.

Above: Between Na'alehu and Punaluʻu Beach on the Big Island.

Above: Jennifer at Hawaii's Punalu'u Black Sand Beach. She's sitting on lava in this photo, but the black sand beach is visible in the background.

Above: I believe this is a Zebra Dove. Update: Confirmed as Zebra Dove.

Above: Yellow shrimp plant (Pachystachys lutea).

Above: One of Hawaii's lava fields near the southern end of the Big Island.

Above: One of Hawaii's lava fields near the southern end of the Big Island.

Above: Yellow Mandevilla (Mandevilla funiformis).

Above: 'Barbados Lily' or 'Fire Lily'. (Hippeastrum striatum). The genus Hippeastrum encompasses 75 species; referred to as Amaryllis. Most are bybrids from tropical South America. Family: Amaryllidaceae (Lily family).

Above: The Swiss-cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa).

Above: Cup of gold (Solandra maxima).

Above: Orange trumpet vine (Pyrostegia Ignea).

Above: Memorial to Captain James Cook, discoverer of the Sandwich Islands. Had his brains bashed out by the natives here at Kealakekua Bay on February 14, 1779.

Above: Lobster claw, False-bird-of-paradise (Heliconia rostrata).

Plants verified at Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 1, 2011 at 1:28 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Hawaii Day 6 - Kailua-Kona

On Wednesday (3/30), we flew from Honolulu to Kailua-Kona. When we checked into the hotel, somehow they recognized that I'd stayed here before, so I asked her..."When was that? When were we last here?" Because I have some vague idea, but nothing definite.

"It was in August of 2005," she replied.

This to me, is fascinating. That a hotel can tell me that I was here 5 years ago? I'd have lost money on that bet for sure.

The Kona coast was recently slammed by the Japanse tsunami, but it didn't get much coverage since there are no nuclear reactors melting down into the ground like giant glowing gophers.

The tsunami hammered the island pretty good, but fortunately our hotel is still in operation. For the Four Seasons, not so much.

Above: Honolulu International Airport(HNL).

Above: Somewhere over the Pacific ocean.

Above: The reefs off of Kailua-Kona.

Above: Landing at Kailua-Kona.

Above: (Agapanthus africanus).

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 1, 2011 at 1:17 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink