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Dec 122010

**Updated Again…**
Here is an even better method…
Ok, so I tried to reinstall XP on my computer (see original post below) and could not do it due to my 2002 issued XP CD causing a BSOD during setup on my new machine. So, I could not reinstall XP to then install Windows 7 on top of, which was a blessing in disguise. This forced me to call back into MS support and because it was a different problem now I was elevated to the next level of tech support. Here is where it gets good.

The very friendly support tech asked me to explain the issue, afterward he said that he would make sure I had a working version of Windows 7 by the end of our call. I cannot overstate the friendly nature of this person and how he worked to understand my issue and resolve it. 5 Stars for him.

Anyway, he first says that we have to remove the registry flag that was causing the invalid product code error. This flag was set during installation when I tried to enter it during the setup process, but more about that in a minute. Once the flag was removed with the msdt application (support has to give you a code for this tool), I was asked to reboot. When the system came back up I was prompted to enter the product code I re-entered the code from the product package and it worked! After reboot to verify, everything was working without re-installing Windows XP.

Here is the important lesson I learned from the tech support guy.

Do NOT enter the product code during the initial installation process, just skip the dialog by leaving it blank and finish the installation. It is at this point where the registry flag is set if an existing windows installation is not present. If you skip it the activation system will not check for a previous install since it would have been wiped at this point. That’s how you can install an upgrade version onto a blank or recently formatted hard drive.

If I would have been told this the first time I called, the rest of what you see below would have never been written.

Advice to Microsoft, give these instructions to your first level tech support. Never tell someone to reinstall XP to install Windows 7, that is just rude and frustrating for your customers.

Now, I am off to see what I think about Windows 7. I hope the rough start is not a sign of things to come.


**Original Post Below**
So, I decided today to sell a little bit of my soul and ‘Upgrade’ to Windows 7 Professional from Windows XP.
As a happy OS X user in the office, and a satisfied Ubuntu Linux user at home, I decided that I should give Windows a try again on my home office workstation.
I went to Best Buy and sacrificed ~$200 for the Windows 7 Professional Upgrade package. This left a mark, but I am willing to take a gouge in my wallet now and again for the sake of ‘Progress’. I have had Windows XP for over 10 years and skipped the whole Vista transition (gladly), so I felt it was time to re-familiarize myself with MS technologies and see what I am missing. ( I have learned in the few short hours since purchasing that I have only missed out on some suffering and time suck so far.)

Here is where the EPIC FAIL Windows 7 Upgrade begins…

I read on the back of the box that for upgrading from XP I need to backup all of my files and settings, and then perform a ‘clean install’ and then re-install my stuff from before. Easy enough, and hey if I need to do a clean install, then a blank hard drive doesn’t get any cleaner right? Nope, here is where the word ‘clean’ gets tricky. What the brilliant graphic designers for the box didn’t mention is that Windows 7 wants to clean the disk for you, after it detects that XP is already on the system. Having a pretty hologram CD and a valid product key on the XP package won’t save you here folks if you happen to ‘clean’ the disc with a full format before installing Windows 7. Trust me, I talked to 3 people at Microsoft support about this (hello hold times). You see, without already having XP Service Pack 3 on your system, there is nothing they can do to help me. F^#K (Frak) So, what does this mean to me as a consumer.

I now, after already burning time to do my own version of a clean install and spending $200 on the ‘upgrade’, have to go back and start from scratch, by reinstalling XP and doing all of the system updates to Service Pack 3. I am not kidding… or joking… or even smiling at this point. If you have recently performed a complete re-installation of XP from disc, you already know about the massive time suck that I am about to engage in. Let’s just say… “This is gonna take a while”. And then, I will get the joy of reinstalling Windows 7 again after all that! Yea!!! (not really)

I have learned a lesson the hard way, and I want to pass along some wisdom to all of you who might be planning to follow in my path of misery and time wastage.

Advice to those considering the upgrade… please don’t be smart and use your skills to prepare your hard drive for a ‘clean install’ by formatting it first. Or, if you decide that along with your fancy new Windows 7 Professional purchase, you should pick up a shiny new HDD to go with it, because your old one had not been upgraded in about 5 years. Don’t you will be sad about things later as you reinstall XP.

Advice to Microsoft, find a way to allow honest customers who waste their time and money on your new products to upgrade from existing product codes if they have a new blank hard disk or a recently formatted one. Forcing anyone to reinstall XP from scratch sucks and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. This is not a difficult problem, just get the existing product code from XP and validate it, if it is good, then use it to activate the new Windows 7 with the product code from the new package. Then tell your customer that yes indeed there is help and of course the ranting post on is out of date and that they will not need to reinstall XP from scratch. I mean seriously, how insane would that be right?… right?!

(Note: this was written while using the initial non-activated install of Windows 7 Professional, just before I started the painstaking process of ‘upgrading’ to Windows 7 Professional.)

 Posted by at 14:39
Sep 132010

So today I needed to filter a fairly giant csv file down to only the rows that contained certain values in either one or the other column.

I wanted only the rows where “PL” was in the country column, OR the email address column had a value that ended with “.pl”.

So I made this little function in the last cell of each row :


Then I filtered the new column that contained either TRUE or FALSE, by all the rows that were TRUE.

And there you have it, a quick way to filter multiple columns by different logical operators with an OR Boolean operator.

Of course this could easily be extended to make some very complex logical comparisons, but I will leave that up to you dear reader.

 Posted by at 14:33
Sep 122010

We had a really great time last night with friends.
We tasted 7 different bottles of Riesling and the only rule was that the bottle had to cost less than $20.

We found a couple crowd favorites, and a couple that did not please the palette.

Here is A Reason for Riesling - Wine Tasting Night - 9/11/10 (1392) (PDF) that shows the results of our tastings.

I look forward to future events and more data. :)

 Posted by at 14:48
Aug 172010

Doing some work on the new Thunderhead WordPress based site today, and decided to use the ‘Events Calendar‘ plugin to manage all of the upcoming events that we are either interested in promoting or will be going to.

Anyway… I was using the sidebar widget that lists the events in a unordered list and found that the styles in the plugin and the way the list is built made the list look very different from the rest of my theme. The main culprit being the part where the list is built in the ec_calendar.class.php file of the plugin.
Continue reading »

Aug 062010

Randy McDermott created a Google Moderator series with an ‘Ideas’ topic to collect feedback of suggested areas of future development for FDS and votes on these ideas from the FDS-SMV user community.

This is a great way to collect suggestions and to get a feeling for how these suggestions rate among users.

Randy later asked me how to get data from moderator for post processing.  Unfortunately, there is not a straightforward way to do that directly through the moderator admin interface.  But fortunately, there is a Moderator API that can be used to extract information from Moderator in JSON format.  Yea! :)

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 17:51
Aug 042010

So I am kind of interested in what this new feature has to offer…

This is a short demo video of the new immersed boundary method (IBM) that is being developed in FDS_6.  The video shows a texture mapped ‘baseball’ sphere accelerating through air with a slight drop and a fixed rotation.  This new method allows non-rectilinear geometry elements (&GEOM) to move through the computational domain.  More information on IBM can be found here:

Here is the Input File to recreate this case yourself in FDS.  You will need the file linked below and place it in ‘FDS5\bin\textures’ for the texture to map onto the sphere.

Image File Link: Free Baseball Texture Map (1274)

&HEAD CHID='fastball', TITLE='simple test of immersed boundary method' /
&MESH IJK=128,32,32, XB=0,1,-.125,.125,-.125,.125/
&TIME T_END=0.04/
&DUMP DT_PL3D=1.E10/
&SURF ID='Inlet 1',VEL=-20, TAU_V=0.01, COLOR='INVISIBLE'/ 90 mph ~ 40 m/s
&VENT XB=0,0,-.125,.125,-.125,.125,  SURF_ID='Inlet 1'/
&GEOM ID='baseball'
 OMEGA=125./ rotation rate is 20 rev/sec * 2pi rad/rev



 Posted by at 15:12
Aug 042010

This is a demo using the new Immersed Boundary Method (IBM) of the upcoming version of FDS_6.  The input file can be found on the FDS-SMV Discussion Group.
Message and Input File posted by Randy McDermott.

The video shows a ‘BOX’ moving through the domain, using the &GEOM namelist group feature.
The video is in two parts, the first part is looking at only velocities between 19.9 and 20.1 m/s, showing where the Box is.  The second part of the video is showing the full velocity slice without any bounds applied.

This is a fantastic addition to the features of FDS and I am looking forward to its full implementation.

File Link: Moving Box


Aug 022010

I was looking to send out reminders to our customers about renewals and feature updates, when I realized there is not a ‘Mail Merge’ feature in Apple Mail (lame). So, after a quick Google search, I found this excellent post from Gianugo Rabellino.

Down a bit in the comments I found a slight modification to the script by Graham Kirby that added a couple of nice features.
It was not a simple copy and paste from the comment text, so I fixed it and it works well now for me too.

I am attaching a zip file to this post that contains the Apple Script and two files one for the name/email list and the other as a sample message text file.

Apple Mail Merge Script Zip (1697)

Hope this helps another Apple Mail user someday.

 Posted by at 14:20