Code an XP utility to use trial versions longer

Here in Guatemala, we don't always have the budget to buy all software we need. It's been very useful to use trial versions of software, but sometimes you need to use it for just a little bit longer. Maybe you've already found the trick that you can change your system date in the taskbar tray back to the time when your trial version was working, and whalla, the program will work again. I am guilty. The problem comes when you forget the change it back and you start sending emails to people. Outlook tags them with the current system date so they show up incorrectly in your recipient's date-sorted inboxes. The solution is a batch file I just coded, and thought I'd share. It was pretty easy, just reading the /? page for the WinXP command lines SET and DATE. Start->Run... "cmd"
C:\>cd "Paint Shop Pro" C:\Paint Shop Pro>copy con psp.bat set PSPDATE=%DATE:~4% date 05/01/2004 "Paint Shop Pro.exe" date %PSPDATE% ^Z       1 file(s) copied.
Notes: 'copy con' is using the COPY command to create a file from the 'console'. You enter your batch file line-by-line. When you are done, you press Ctrl-Z (the end-of-file character), shown as ^Z above. Using double quotes is how you can change directories and run programs that have spaces in them in the XP command line environment. %DATE:~4% takes the current system date and strips the first 4 characters, which are always the day of week, like "Thu " 'date 05/01/2004' is the command that sets the system date to the date when the trial version of the software was valid. For ease of use, create a shortcut to your new batch file on your quicklaunch bar

More Diamond Opinion

The diamond guide blog post has been a huge success, and so far I've heard of five guys who have used it. Mike M. wrote some more stuff about it. My Thoughts: Set the goals of what you want to achieve...big ass rock, shinny little perfect bling, bigass perfect rock, a rock that does the job. Set a target price early(before you look at anything) and build the diamond to that number. Do not buy "rocks" retail. You have no advantage there. The store "managers" (you will notice, every sales person in a diamond joint is a manager of some type) are all going to tell you what you want to here and still stick it to you in the end. From my point of view with the amount of science dedicated to these "rocks" there is no reason to by one retail. If you are on a crazy small budget and need to find just something to work: Go to the smaller family jeweler so you can put the diamond in your hand and try the "rock" out under all lighting. Have a sheet of white paper with you to see if it is horribly yellow or included with the naked eye. Smaller jeweler's pay all the same wholesaler fees that the big guys do but do not have to pay for a big retail space & expensive "manager" staff. Try to work them on the price a little, then just buy the damn thing, don't worry about it. You can get her a better one when your married with a dual income as an anniversary gift. If budget is less of a concern: Analyze the diamond as a whole and realize that you will have to sacrifice something to get a quality rock but do not go crazy with any one statistic. The colorless, flawless, 2ct "rock" is completely worthless unless the cut is up to par. After all remember this is a "rock", it is cut by a human, certified/analyzed by computers, and scientifically priced by computers. There is no hocus pocus at the wholesale level. All the real smoke and mirrors happens at the retailer. Retailers stating that they have a signature series that only they have is completely bogus. Yes they have a trademark category for their "special" diamonds. But they still got the diamonds from the same supply as all the rest of their "junk" diamonds, cut by the same people, processed by the same magical computers. It seems rather crazy that with the amount of money involved the only person in the chain that does not know what's going on is the buyer. The industry goes to great lengths to keep the common person out of the loop. Remember when you are looking at "rocks" online you have access to all the same information as the jewelers when they place in order. Jewelers for the most part, do not inspect anything. They go off the numbers solely. (It's a scientific business remember.) The first time they see the rock up close is usually when you are looking at it with them in a scope. (I have a great story about a trashed diamond that I pointed out the tune of "Wow, I do not think I could even sell you this diamond." Then why the hell am I looking at it you jackass!!) In the end remember these keys: 1. You do not know what you are looking at. 2. Computers do not lie, people do. (Base your decisions on certifications not some "manager's word".) 3. This is a "rock". That's right the same crap that your driveway has in it. It is not magical, mystical, special, infused with good times juice, or pretty. It is a chunk of rock that reflects light excellently if it is cut/polished properly and does not have other rock chunks stuck within it. 4. Unless she works in the diamond industry and walks around with an ocular, she knows less then you do about her diamond. That comes of a little harsh but I think it needs to be. Diamonds need to be demystified. I got my .91ct juggernaught pre-mounted at and would happily do it again. The staff was excellent. The price was excellent. Packaging and backup documentation was fabulous. The full certification kit from the lab with cool holograph action, wholesaler sleeve (the tissue paper you see all the diamonds come out of like crack rocks), appraisal, gift box, invoice, and the original photocopy of the certification that you were emailed comes with the diamond in a nifty box with bow to keep everything together. Once I got out the retail world I had a great time looking for a diamond. It was nice to see how horrible retail was so that I have more reason never to go back again. I started this journey reasonably educated about diamonds and ended up an expert in BS marketing techniques.

Long Time No Blog

Problem is, I've been working too much. I've been working on the school's new web page and firewall. You can see the web page at and I would love your feedback! And on the firewall front, the non-IT world can stop reading here -----> . Why can't I publish a static ARP entry (not bound) for another IP on the same subnet? I'm migrating users to a new gateway with DHCP. Gateway used to be .211 now it will be .1 - so I wanted to publish a static ARP entry that mapped .211 to the same MAC as the physical interface .1. The manual says this should work for *different* subnets on the same interface (so each subnet can point to the same MAC as a gateway). Is there some rule about ARP? Should I do this with a 1-2-1 NAT (is that even possible?) I'm frustrated with Microsoft Server 2000 DHCP implementation, why can't you import a list of IP reservations? And because I don't have VLAN capable switches and I don't want to rewire the entire school, I have to use one DHCP server for the entire network. I was hoping to do so much more with different zones/interfaces on the device. And if the firewall supports authentication against RADIUS servers and Active Driectory, why is it impossible to just detect the currently logged-in wondows user as a basis for my authentication instead of requireing another sign-on? Mad props to Blake. While he respects my pivot tables, I will always idolize him for his Cisco CCIE and Apple ][e S/<i11Z.

Wedding Planning? Use our spreadsheet as a starter.

WeddingPlannerExample.xls The info in the Locations and Visits tabs alone will save you days of phone calls if you are planning a Chicago downtown wedding. Contacts, contact info, capacity, price, etc. Visits tab will guide you through the standard set of questions and compute the low and high spread out-the-door total price for a given number of guests. I generated the Guests tab by exporting my Outlook contact book, which is sync'd with my cell. If your MS Outlook installation doesn't have the Export feature installed (Rebecca's didn't), just display your contacts folder with the "Phone List" grid-like view and right click the column labels to use the Field Chooser to get what fields you need. Shift-select all contacts, Ctrl-C, and you can paste that into Excel. I already had a lot of people's home addresses and recent contact info because Plaxo rocks and it is not spam. And it's not annoying, Alex. :) The Guests tab: - Displays guest count for each side by priority groupings - Categorize friends for later table assignment - Displays running guestcount so you can sort them by group, then priority, and see who you can afford to invite - Can adjust for people who you will invite but have varying chances of attending for accurate estimating Also has a checklist tab with information from a very popular wedding site. I'm sure as we get further along in this process more tabs will get added. I know it's geek, but I think it's kind of practical-overpowers-geeknees.

Various Tech Tricks and Tips

I received a lot of positive feedback about my info-packed bullshit-busting piece on diamonds, and I thought I'd share some of my recent tech discoveries. DONT BE INTIMIDATED AND STOP READING RIGHT THERE, KELLY/MALENA etc. This first one especially is practical tech that really has improved my life! Give it a try... develop a self-cultivated thirst for knowledge. Rebecca calls me a "binge researcher". Old roommate Brett mercilessly gives me crap for spending a beautiful Sunday afternoon on google learning about feral children. It's best to share this. - By far the most beneficial thing I've done lately is gotten into the habit of daily reading aggregating RSS feeds. It feels like I'm always up on the lastest of whatever I'm interested in. I don't want to take the time to fully explain it, but trust me, it will change your life (for the better). I got a 1GB USB Jumpdrive for $40 shipped from aggregating I have feeds for Kelly, Dave, Alex - if you have a blog I don't know about, let me know, thanks! So far I like Sharpreader the best, but RSS bookmarks in Firefox seem to be popular too. The last version of Aggie I was using sucked. I know I'm an early adopter, and not all of you guys that read this are - but Blogging and aggregating is simply such a great thing for keeping in touch with friends and still being effecient with your time. I was a naysayer at first (eating my words, Fashionfly). If you don't want to set up you own blog, use livejournal or xanga or something else free. And update it with snippets of useful stuff you find!! - I installed my own blogging software, Moveable Type (thanks Alex). Coincidentally, Ventureblog just invested in the company that makes it, Six Apart. - Google Desktop Search, Google Toolbar. I think google is incredible. They have so many other cool tools that so many people don't know about. I'd love to work at their labs. - I've had problems with DNS behind my dad's Microtik router. If you need servers outside your ISPs, try these public dns servers. Don't forget about the "ipconfig /flushdns" command in XP. - Cool, free utilities for system and network troubleshooting: FileMon, RegMon, TDIMon. Logs background changes to the filesys, registry, and tcp/udp packets, respectively. See what process is responsible. Lightweight. From, and they have a ton of other tools too. Future Projects - I want to set up a wiki to coordinate the activities of my web developers for the school, but there are too many options. I might try twiki. - I am going to try to learn about podcasting. Does anyone know any good electronica/house/techno blogs? Any that are MP3 blogs?

Been Up To Lately...

It's been a long time since we posted, and I'm bored because Rebecca is with her family vacationing in Atlantis, Paradise Islands, "A Tropical resort and hotel featuring a large marine habitat, marina, water attractions, spa, a casino..." Blah. It's cold here in Johnsburg. So what's new? Pues, we get a month vacation for the holiday season, so we spent the first weekend whitewater rafting. Although English is worse, I had my first real problem with the Spanish language while rafting. These were class 4 rapids, and I couldn't always distinguish the screaming guide's completely different yet urgent commands for "¡ALTO!" (stop paddling) and "¡ALTO LADO!" (high side - jump to the side NOT being flooded right now.) So I was a total sheep, just following others. We also went to Semuc Champey semuc.jpg where I learned the walk-under-water-holding-a-big-rock-trick rockwalk.jpg The following week we went flew to the Bay Islands of Honduras. It's generally considered to be some of the best snorkeling in the world, second to the great barrier reef off Australia. Suffice it to say that it was like Finding Nemo. Along Came Polly, French accent: "ehhh, you want to scuba?" No, actually I can't because of my asthma. It was a relaxing week away from wedding planning stresses and full of newly-engaged afterglow. Guide to Roatan: If you go to Roatan, snorkel at West Bay, westbay.jpg ,stay in West End, paradise.jpg and rent a vespa-like scooter from Captain Van's, scooter.jpg ...right, so - have lunch at The View roatanview.jpg , get a room at the hotel (Arco Iris) where they have the spider monkeys with - no joke - an attachment disorder. She loved me, but did this freaky Outbreak jealous hissing thing if Rebecca then touched me... ArcoIrisMonkey.jpg ... go see the Iguana farm, iguanabanana.jpgjeffiniguanas.jpgiguanas.jpgbegging.jpg , and get banana pancakes and smoothies from Rudy's. If you can, get scuba certified in Utilla, it's cheaper but kinda sketchy. We flew back to Chicago, had a good time with both families, and did a flurry of wedding planning which I will blog about separately.

It's for the Children

Even in Guatemala, Santa is a fat, pink-cheeked white man. santa.jpg Although Santa is a gringo-gordito, even the North Pole knows that using local labor markets is cheaper. Here we have a Guatemalan elf that drank a little too much Electric Koolaid before choosing her outfit today. That's a red hat, orange coat, yellow tights, blue socks, and white high-heels. elf.jpg

Tetrahedral Covalent Carbon Network

That was the subject line I used in emails to friends about diamonds and rings so that Rebecca wouldn’t know what the email was about. The next best experience to the proposal itself was being accused by two jewelers in the Washington DC area of being an industry insider who was out collecting competitive intelligence. If you read and absorb the information below, it will not be hard to find a jeweler who is less knowledgeable on the science of diamond beauty than you are. Jewelers are a certain breed of people-persons who will feel you out, compliment you, use cheeky clichés when talking to you, personify little pieces of clear carbon (“…this one’s a hottie!”), and try to establish that rapport that sends shivers up your spine. Don’t be seduced. For any guy who will need to pick a diamond some day, here are hours of research in one article… It became an obsession. I spent over 40 hours across 4 months looking at diamonds in stores, reading online, asking questions in online forums. Why? Because diamonds have almost no personal worth to be - there are much better status symbols to be had, if that's your thing - but it's still an essential evil of loving a woman. The most common thing I hear form guys who are searching is "My friend knows a guy...", and let me tell you, everybody knows a guy, and that guy is still taking a lot of your money for being a middleman in a information-starved market. Here’s a summary of what I learned.


Quite obviously, really. It was an absolute and complete shock. Even when a little box popped out of the sand that had my initials on it, I still had no idea. Though it sounds cliche, I pretty much don´t remember a word I said from the moment I saw that box. I was so surprised, in fact, that the last words I remember uttering were "Are you serious?" and "YES!" After that, as Jeff graciously unfolded the entire story before me, I believe I yelled "What?!?" at least 10 times as I digested the amount of deception that was involved in the proposal. I am still rewinding the last six months and thinking about all the times I was so gullible. When I´m not doing that, I´m staring at the shiny new thing on my finger (which it kills me to think of leaving in Chicago). All in all, I´m not being a very productive human being this week and I haven´t stopped smiling. I had jokingly teased Jeff many times that I wanted to marry him, but he had successfully convinced me that the timing wouldn´t be right until about a year from now. I know that he wasn´t the only one convincing me of little things here and there along the way, and for that I really am thankful. Thank you so much to everyone who made the secret and helped keep it, especially our parents and our friends who were there to celebrate and pull it all off (I know that was a lot of pressure). I am floating on a cloud, happy as a clam, head over heels in love.