Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cover Me; I'm Going In

With the wariness of a Marine going into a building in downtown Baghdad, I'm entering into the unknown territory of Windows 7. I'll be taking the time this weekend to install the much-lauded version of Windows that I received for free.

I enter into this fight with a little bit of comfort--I have an install disc that was designed for my computer, and I have an install "helper" file from the manufacturer. It's all supposed to be a breeze..."It's just a simple update."

I have made the recovery DVDs for my laptop, and I am backing up
EVERYTHING. I hope that my backups will be unnecessary, but their existence is almost as comforting as extra ammunition.

What I really don't look forward to is the attempted migration of my software applications. There are so many things that I had to renew, update, reinstall, etc, when I got this new computer. Will I have to mess with all of that again after the update? According to my computer's manufacturer (and that evil bastard known as Microsoft), I will have a smooth migration of that stuff. I don't believe it for a second.

I'm already angry about the chaos that represents the comments on this blog; this is just another cog in that wheel. If it doesn't work, I hope that I can backtrack, and not give in to the desire to go chew out the manufacturer rep at the local PX.

UPDATE: All of this information is based on an upgrade from Vista Home Premium (64 bit OS), to Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit). My laptop has an Intel dual core processor and 4Gb of RAM.:

After utilizing my computer manufacturer's update assistant, it appears that Windows 7 has installed properly and, so far, everything looks shiny and new. In addition, the update assistant seems to have successfully salvaged all of my software, documents, settings, etc. It forewarned me that it would download the newest drivers for hardware, and uninstall various features prior to the update. It spent the night downloading updates, and then I began the actual installation of Windows this morning. It took a couple of hours today, but it didn't seem to encounter any problems.

There appears to be a few utilities on Microsoft's website that will test your computer, and give you a list of software that must be uninstalled prior to upgrading. It will also tell you which version of Windows 7 your computer will support (Basic, Home Premium, Pro, Ultimate, 32 bit or 64). Toshiba's upgrade assistant feature seems to have done that pretty seamlessly. I have not yet encountered anything that doesn't work, but I will compile a list if I do make such discoveries.

Using Toshiba's upgrade assistant provided me with the ability to automatically use the manufacturer's own updating system to install the newest, Windows 7 compatible drivers for my computer's hardware, but it also brought all of the notorious "crapware" with it. You know all of those gadgets and whistles that come with a new computer? Crapware. Windows 7 gave me the option of checking for the newest updates, but I was instructed to not select that feature.

The procedures for upgrading were pretty simple, but I did have to write down a couple of instructions before the process, since there are a couple of choices to be made during the install. Selecting the "upgrade" option, instead of the "clean install," made things a little easier. The clean installation would have wiped the HDD, and I would have been without all of my existing applications, documents, media, etc.

Hats off to Toshiba for providing me with an upgrade utility that worked (so far). I felt a little like the guys on the original Apollo Project must have felt..."I hope this sucker makes it, and doesn't blow up."

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all, and I hope you get to spend it with friends and family!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Life's Great Mysteries

As I was sitting here pulling my hair out over the failed commenting features of my blog, puzzling over the complexities of XML, and hating the person that invented Cascading Style Sheets, I asked myself one of the many questions that revolve around life's greatest mysteries: Why do I even have a blog?

There are so many unanswered questions in life--What is the meaning of life? Is the universe infinite? Is that guy down the street really as crazy as I think he is? We may never know, or agree on these things, but they bring to mind similar conundrums.

This blog is not my first one. I had a blog in the past that was actually pretty popular. It got a ton of traffic, garnered many comments, and propelled me into blogging stardom. Ok; not really stardom, but maybe mediocrity. I gave it up, deleted the entire blog, and even deleted my entire "Blogger" account. I ended up regretting that a little. While many of the posts on that blog were political in nature, and were the result of my anger and lack of satisfaction with our elected tormentors, there were some pieces on it that I would have enjoyed reading again. A couple of select readers even suggested the same thing.

This brings about an answer to the current question of why I even have a blog. While comments are a nifty feature, they're not the real reason I write this silly stuff. I enjoy going back through it and reading about what I was pondering at different times. It's sort of fun to read a post about trips to a Japanese hardware store, or the comical ineptitude of local drivers. I almost forgot about the guy in my class that wrote, "green," for the size, style and quantity of PT shirts that he wanted to order. These are the intangible, hard-to-put-a-finger-on type of answers that we usually get from the tough questions.

I might not ever know, or care, if the universe is infinite, but I know why I blog.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Intrusive Child Development

In my current line of work, it has grown quite popular to discuss, "intrusive leadership." While the concept is not new, calling it something so catchy might be. The idea is, of course, that a leader should be actively involved with his or her subordinates, and know what is going on in their lives away from work. Is that young Marine having problems at home with his wife? Money trouble? Something else that might affect his or her performance? Have you taken the time to get involved with that young Marine?

Thinking about this idea, and even talking about childhood memories with my wife, reminded me of an incident from my childhood, and makes me wonder how intrusive many parents are these days. I also wonder how intrusive, or even concerned, most adults are as a whole.

I think I was about six years old, or maybe a year or so younger, during a particular trip with my mom to the grocery store. This particular store had a couple of the large bins of Brach's candy. It was sold in bulk, or by weight, and to a young kid, it was very odd to see large quantities of candy just laying about within easy reach. Isn't candy supposed to be in packages? Instead of asking my mom about it, I did what seemed natural at the time and just grabbed a piece.

Do you remember when you were a little kid? Do you ever think about how smart you thought you were, and how stupid you thought adults were? I don't think this is a conscious thought process, but what do you suppose I was thinking when I later tried to eat the piece of candy, and my mom asked me where I got it? Can you guess what my panicked response to that question was?

"I don't know."

Think she bought it? Not for a second. A swat to the hindquarters might have been in order, but Mom didn't spank me. Instead, she drove me back to the grocery store, and made me tell the manager of the store what I had done. There was even a policeman in the store that day! Can you imagine how terrified a young kid would be when given a "stern talking to" by that store manager? I remember that the policeman's belt was the style that actually had bullets stored in the little loops of it, and that they looked like pencil erasers.

How many managers of large grocery stores would take the time to do that today? How many parents?

This is what I would call intrusive child development. It would be so much easier to simply punish a child, spank them, take away a privilege, or do something else that would cost us less time or effort. I'm willing to bet that many store managers today would simply inform the parent that they owe X dollars, or simply refer the matter to the proper authorities. Simpler and faster, right?

Are the days of commonplace intrusive child development gone, or is it simply less noticeable? If you practice, or have practiced this type of teaching, do you feel like you are the exception, or the rule? Got any similar stories from your own past?