Monday, March 15, 2010

Worm bin maintenance

Worm Bin, originally uploaded by jarsyl.

Finally found the time this weekend to separate the worms from their nicely composted surroundings. It was a little overdue, but that gave me a good chance to see what things they really won't eat. There were plenty of the expected pumpkin seeds, persimmon tops, and insufficiently crushed eggshells. I was surprised by the amount of daikon peels and living plants that had sprouted from discarded seeds. Pretty much everything else had been turned to dirt.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Cable failure

I enjoy riding my bicycle to work. I get to avoid the jam-packed subways, and at the same time get some exercise. I also get to experience more of the city on a direct level.

It seems my bicycle hasn't been enjoying it as much as I. Last week as I up shifted my front derailleur, instead of the familiar click I heard a quiet metallic snapping noise instead. It wasn't until a few minutes later on down the road that I figured out that my front shifter cable had failed near the shifter lever and was now dragging on the road.

My bike wasn't too crippled though so I continued on to work, still managing to arrive on time. Afterward I cinched on the wire with a cable tie and headed to the store in Shinjuku where I had purchased my bike. There they charged me for a replacement part (613 yen) but not for labor. I guess one failure during seven months of 20 km rides nearly every business day is not too bad.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Name Conflict: Print_Area

While upgrading our Windows XP PCs from Microsoft Office 2000 to Microsoft Office 2003 I encountered a strange bug in the way Excel stores the print area settings.

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A user with Office 2003 could not open an XLS file created with Office 2000. An error dialog box would appear titled "Name Conflict" and containing the message "Name cannot be the same as a built-in name. Old name: Print_Area".

After some online research using the very helpful Name Manager I realized that there seemed to be a bug in the way the newer Excel interpreted the way the older version stored the print area that a user had set via the File->Print Area->Set Print Area option.

Opening the file with another copy of Office and clearing all the set print areas (using File->Print Area->Clear Print Area) allowed the user with Office 2003 to successfully open the file. This problem is also solved in this forum post although I didn't find it until I had a good idea of what was going on.

More detail: a different install of Office 2003 had no problems opening the file from the beginning. The problem file had originally been created and last modified using Office 2000 on a Windows 2000 PC.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Japanese Keyboard Undetected

After installing a Japanese edition of Windows XP onto an HP desktop with a Japanese keyboard I was surprised to discover that it thought it was connected to a keyboard with a US "international" layout. When I installed the OS it had been attached to a US keyboard, but Windows hadn't updated when I swapped the proper keyboard in.

In the "Regional and Language Options" control panel "Text Services and Input Languages" was set to "Japanese." I couldn't find anywhere else to change the setting until I found this helpful entry. Windows needs to be forced to use the Japanese driver.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Windows Updates Fail: Register wups2.dll

Working on restoring a bunch of desktops to their pristine state I discovered that one of them could no longer install Windows updates.

It's an HP Compaq d530 SFF, although I'm not sure that the hardware had much to do with this problem. After restoring the HDD to the factory state using the original Windows XP SP2 CDs, and installing SP3, I discovered that every Windows update attempt failed.

Apparently there is a dll that needs to be registered and installing SP3 right after restoring the system can cause this.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's a Jungle in Here

Earlier this week the company that checks our school's safety equipment came in to do some more testing. The refrigerator-sized rack of equipment is two meters from my desk, so I'm able to peek over their shoulders while they work. During part of this testing they plugged in a portable CD player and broadcast that over the speakers that cover the school grounds. Presumably the constant audio from the CD let them test that announcements could be heard everywhere.

They could easily have used a CD with some elevator music or some sort of digital tone, but we were all pleasantly surprised to hear the chatter of birdsong fill our office for the afternoon. Occasionally this was interrupted by a woman announcing ongoing tests of the emergency public address system, but it was generally very peaceful. It actually made me want to pick up a set of those nature sounds CDs.

The next day I was doing some network maintenance in our ground floor main office and had to wheel some desk drawers out of the way. As I did so I exposed a tiny, light gray lizard no bigger than my pinkie finger for about half a second before it disappeared under a different desk. I succeeded in flushing it from cover a second time but really had no chance of catching it. I couldn't even locate it after that. We're not far from the garden beds and forests that surround the school, but there are no doors that communicate directly with the outside from the office where I spotted it. What's next, a raid on our snack stash by wild monkeys?

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Glowing Sky

Kasuga Dori at the End of the World
Another relaxed weekend. I logged a 9.6km jog on Friday night, my longest so far, the disembodied voice of Paula Radcliffe informed me. Saturday was spent relaxing, cleaning, and scouting for wedding supplies. Sunday was spent looking at some more invitations at Itoya's headquarters in Ginza, enjoying some choice an-pan, and then heading to Futago-shinchi for pickup. The IKU ladies' team has been practicing in a serious way already- they had been out there for three hours in the AM. Our men's squad has yet to begin drilling, which has me a little worried. The next tournament is the first weekend in September, men's nationals.

It has been hot and humid for the past couple weeks, and the cicadas are out screeching away in the cherry trees on our street. A cloudy sky and a little bit of rain helped cool things down during pickup on Sunday, and then led to a spectacular sunset. People were stopping in the street to gawk. Myself included. The sky in the east was a dark blue, changing to mauve overhead, and bright, glowing orange in the west. Some lightning was doing its thing to the north for good measure.

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