You’ve Got (Michael) Bay-ed!

“Before time began, there was The Cube”…

Wow, what can I say! I mean, I am almost speechless, but I will try to continue. Tonight was a very special night in the Mickelson household. Netflix, my DVD purveyor of choice, sent me the Transformers movie, which I had near the top of my queue. I won’t say that I had high hopes for the film, but I figured that it would be at least entertaining. I could not have been more wrong. For only the second time that I can remember, I had to press Eject on my DVD player before the credits were rolling on screen. Michael Bay, you really have outdone yourself this time! Maybe you really did deserve the Oscar your CGI team concocted for you.

Let’s take a look at the characters. You have the annoyingly awkward teenage boy, who uses the eBay account name, “LadiesMan217”. You have the hot chick who is mad at her boyfriend. She gradually warms to annoyingly awkward teenage boy even though they do not seem to share any chemistry. The only thing that seems to keep her with the annoyingly awkward teenage boy is the fact that they happen to have the same scenes together. And then there are the transformers themselves. I don’t ever remember the transformers in the original cartoons having so many spikes and shit hanging off of them. And lets not forget the obvious product placement: All of the Autobots are American cars. I don’t remember Bumble Bee being a Camaro. When asked where they learned to speak English, Optimus Prime responded with “The World Wide Web”, and when asked how they found annoyingly awkward teenage boy, he responded “I found you on eBay”. ARGH!!!!

The clincher for me was the scene where the 40 ft tall Autobots were trying to hide from annoyingly awkward teenage boy’s parents, all the while destroying the yard that the parents spent a few seconds in an earlier scene perfecting. That was some nice foreshadowing Mike. The awkwardness of the scene combined with the inane dialog between the Autobots was excruciatingly painful. All I was hoping for at that moment was a bunch of Japanese and European cars and trucks to swoop in and send the Autobots to the scrap heap. I knew that was never going to happen, so I fumbled for the remote and pressed the Eject button, loaded the DVD back into the envelope, and placed it in the mailbox without thinking.

To put things into perspective, using IMDB’s Bottom 100 films as a comparison, the only other movie that I can remember turning off for no other reason that I could not take it anymore was Glitter, the 28th worst movie on the board. I have sat through Troll 2 (36th worst according to IMDB), and I really enjoyed Chairman of the Board, 32nd worst, yea call me weird. There is just something about that weird orange haired man.

How NOT to Write Read-Only Properties

The other day I spent a good 45 minutes fixing a defect at work. A major portion of the time was spent trying to figure out why an object I was modifying wasn’t keeping a value for one of it’s properties. I threw the debugger into motion, stepping through the code multiple times only to find out that the object, which was declared in another assembly, had a set method that wasn’t implemented. I went into the source for the assembly in question and saw this ghastly bit of code:

public string Caption
    get {return mCaption;}
    set {  }

This “pattern” was repeated on multiple properties in the class and on multiple classes in the assembly, so I knew that it wasn’t a mistake. So examining my simple code:

item.Caption = "Account Name";

item.Caption was never getting set and the code did not generate a compiler error. Had the Caption property not had the set { } line, my code would have thrown a compile error and I would have saved a good chunk of time debugging such a simple task.

In addition the the example above, there were a few other variations of a mis-implemented read only property, most curious was the following one, which does not make the ModifiedDate property read only, despite the presence of the [ReadOnly(true)] attribute, even though in this case, the property should probably should be a read only.

public DateTime CreatedDate
    get { return mCreatedDate; }
    set { mCreatedDate = value; }

Now, if you really wanted to make the Caption property read only, please, PLEASE, don’t write a setter, and don’t use attributes.

public string Caption
    get { return mCaption; }

Broken .lnk files in Windows XP

Because one year running Windows without a reformat is probably way too long, I decided to clean up my Windows box at work a week ago. I ran a few registry cleaners, I recreated my user profile, uninstalled programs that I do not use, and ran defrag on the filesystem and the pagefile. This actually seemed to speed it up a bit, but it had a negative side effect of breaking shortcuts (.lnk files).

When I would install a program, I would get an error like Error 1909: Unable to create shortcut . Even more annoying: when I left-clicked on a shortcut, be it on my desktop or on the start menu, Windows would completely freeze and become unresponsive for 20-30 seconds. The most dreadful side-effect was that the Quick Launch toolbar would not stay on my menubar when I restarted my computer.

Today I found this post on Google Groups that pointed me to ShellExView, a nice freeware utility for editing the context menus of all file types. The culprit in my case was the Offline File Menu option. I used disabled the item and shortcuts immediately started to become more responsive. Left-clicking would no longer freeze Windows and the context menu would appear almost instantaneously. I quickly restarted my computer and to my surprise, the Quick Launch toolbar was back.

I am glad that I never have to worry about this stuff on my linux box or my Powerbook.

Edit: Funny quote

Get Rid Of All That Junk (Snail) Mail

Ever get fed up with the amount of junk mail that you are receiving? I was. At one point I was receiving at least 2 letter a week from Chase Visa requesting that I sign up for their credit card. What I don’t understand is why, after hundreds of pieces of mail soliciting my business, Chase thought that I would eventually succomb to their mail barrage and apply for their card.

I did a bit of research a year or two ago and found the DMA. They have 3 different options for removing your name and address from mass marketing mailing lists. Of course, the easiest way, electronically removing yourself over the internet, costs $5. I think that I was so fed up with all the junk I was receiving, that I forked out the fiver and hoped for the best.

So, does removing yourself work? I am happy to report that it does. I have not received any junk mailings from Chase or any other credit card company since around the time I put my address on the mailing list. So, if you are fed up with the junk, consider doing something about it.

Powerbook Powerfucked

Well…. I am temporarilly without my Powerbook. You see, I was opening up Automator to try to create a New File action, similar to any other respectable operating system, so that I could ctrl-click on a Finder window and create a New File. As soon as I clicked on the New Automator Action from the menu, the hard drive started thrashing. I figured it was loading up Automator, but after about a minute of waiting, I tried to click onto the Dock to kill it. It was then that I discovered that the Dock wasnt responding, and neither was anything else but the mouse. The hard drive had stopped, so I figured I would just power it off and reboot…

Rebooting, turns out, would not be such a simple process. After letting it try to boot for about 10 minutes, I hit the power button again to restart the damn thing. I did this 5 or 6 times and nothing past the gray boot screen would display. So I found the keystroke for booting into verbose mode (hold command + V before you press power) and found out my disk was fucked. The boot process was spewing a bunch of “file system is readonly” messages. I tried booting into the Tiger DVD a few times and attempting to use Disk Utility to repair the drive. It would repair it, but then attempt a second Verification pass and would hang. Again, my impatientness got the best of me and I quit it a few times without determining if it would actually finish.

All I wanted to do was copy my Digital Pictures so that they did not get lost, really, there isnt too much on my laptop that I would miss besides those pictures. Finally, after almost throwing down $80 on DiskWarrior, and attempting a Gentoo LiveCD to repair the drive, I went back to this page to see if there were any boot options that I may have missed. I found Single User Mode, and said, WTF, what could I lose at this point. Single User Mode boots up to a bash prompt and lets me at least see my files on the file system. I was then able to mount my external Firewire drive and copy my files onto it so that I can wipe the drive clean and start from scratch. Happy Day! (Actually, this is still going on right now)

What is most ironic about this whole situation is that I wanted to backup my files and reinstall the OS from scratch anyways. Last night I had an inkling to backup my home directory, but chose to ignore the voices in my head to do so. Out of sheer luck, this came back to bite me in the ass.

So what did we learn today??? Always keep backups. And never use Automator.

Update: Well, the drive is, at least, partially dead. It will not repair itself, it will not allow me to modify the partition table, nothin’. I am heading out to Best Buy after work today to pick up a new hard drive and attempt some surgery on the Powerbook later tonight

More Microsoft Annoyances

You have to love the Microsoft Office developers who decided that when you copy and paste information into an Office 2003 document, you don’t just copy the text that you wanted into your document, you paste the formatting too. Typeface, size, underline, bold, whatever the text looked like from the source of the copy and paste, it now looks the same in your Office document.

Maybe everyone else in the world wanted Word to behave in this way, but I for one do not. I do not want a copy and paste command to mess around with the way that I want my document to look. If I am frequently Alt-Tabbing between a reference and a Word document copying text from one to the other using Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V, I am now faced with the stupid Autocorrect floating toolbar thingy which I now have to move my busy hands from my keyboard to my mouse to click on to select “Leave my formatting alone, dammit, and just paste the text”.

Of course this annoyance wouldn’t be so bad if the developers had simply provided a way to TURN IT OFF. Search in the Word options you will discover the option “Smart Cut and Paste”. Unchecking the option does absolutely NOTHING. Searching around on Google, I came across this “solution” from the Microsoft Office Assistance website. Create a fucking MACRO?!? So the solution from Microsoft is “We were too lazy to program in an option for you, so why don’t you do it for us.” Thanks a lot.

Oh, and the other way that you can paste unformatted text is by using the Edit menu and selecting Paste Special. You then have to navigate a pop-up form asking you how you want to paste your text. What is the nice keyboard shortcut for this command? NOTHING! Once again, you must sacrifice productivity by moving your hands to a mouse to navigate a menu and a dialog form just to paste your text.

I am glad that I usually never have to use Word anymore, and if I did, I’d probably go crazy like that airplane and start killing people.

Who Remembers Freedom?

I have never been a supporter of the Partiot Act, and I was very proud that one of my senators, Russ Feingold, was the only one with the balls to stand up for the basic freedoms granted to us in our constitution. Two days ago the Senate Intelligence Committee proposed amemdments which would allow the FBI to obtain subpeonas without going through the actual judicial process of obtaining one! It would also allow the FBI to mandate that these “ill gotten” subpoenas be kept “secret”, and that disclosure of one could result in up to 5 years in prison.

So much for Separation of Powers.

  • donnie
    13 years ago

    This is scary stuff. Just imagine if this was on the books during Watergate? Instead of hired goons, Nixon could have just had the FBI search the hotel and it would have been completely legal. Why should we expect that our government which treats “enemy comabants” in a way that betrays our constitution is going to use their newly formed powers for good?