Genuine Windows Validation

I came across what seems like a really interesting screensaver alternative from Microsoft – The Microsoft Video Screensaver.

Unfortunately it’s part of their Genuine Microsoft Software program. Which means your computer must be validated in order to install, and presumably to use the software.

“No problem”, thought I “I’ve got a legitimate copy of Windows XP Home edition on my box.”

But I also use FireFox as my browser which doesn’t run Active X controls. So I ended up using the alternate validation methods, one to validate my box (GenuineCheck.exe) so that I could actually download the software. This worked fine. And another that I downloaded (legitcheck.hta) that was supposed to prime my box to actually allow the software to install.

Try as I might, every time I attempt to install the Video Screensaver, it fails with a dialog box that gives this URL
and a message saying “Application Not Found”.

Has anybody out there seen this? This is relatively new, the video was only released on July 20, 2005 and I’ve only heard about this “Genuine Microsoft Software” program once before. So I’m pretty sure that this is a teething issue caused by MS being a little too eager to get this program out there…

Oh, and I’ve already tried resetting my default browser to Internet Explorer (I keep it up to date so that I can retrieve updates and visit the sites that have coded specifically for IE). Rebooted and the same error still haunts me.

Nothing so far in Google or on MS’ Knowledge base – but I can’t believe I’m the first to stumble across this problem.

Good car repair experience

I took my venerable Honda Odyssey EX (1997) in for a combo 95K and 105K servicing – this was a biggie – timing belt, radiator flushing and pretty much everything else that you do to your car. I’ve got only 104,000 miles on her and those were the original brakes that were finally replaced. They weren’t even squeaking yet!

The last time I had my car serviced, primarily to reduce the “ticking” that comes from too much space between the camshaft and the valves, I didn’t notice any real change at all and was quite disappointed.

This time, however the engine purrs and a weird noise I used to get when the engine was shifting are now a thing of the past (turns out it was a broken engine mount rather than a transaxle issue I’d been fearing).

The only issue remaining is that now my front brake *does* squeal. I’ve got to bring the car back in for that 🙁 . But beside that I was very happy with Ed Voyles Honda here in Marietta.

No Comcast Internet connection

On Tuesday (July 19) I got home from work and found that my garage door wouldn’t open for me. There have been a lot of storms around here lately – fallout from the recent hurricane and just some really odd, pedantic weather systems. So I wasn’t too surprised when I found that the circuit breaker for my garage door opener had tripped.
However a little later I found that my Comcast internet connection also wasn’t working and my satellite receiver was complaining that it couldn’t receive signals on the second tuner.
To make a long story short, it turns out that we must have had quite a power spike if not a minor lightning strike against our place that not only tripped the fuse but also fried the single satellite tuner.
I have surge protection and UPSs on nearly everything of value in the house, but I only had the surge protection for one of my two Satellite tuner’s incoming coax cables. I guess this proves that the surge protection works as it is supposed to. Believe me, I’ll be getting a second protector when I decide to replace the tuner unit!

My gripe right now is with Comcast. The cable has been out for portions of several cities ever since Tuesday, meaning that I’m well into day two of no internet access. Since I’m also depending on my cable connection for my phone connection, well… Let’s just say I’m glad we have cell phones.

I’m really shocked and dismayed that Comcast doesn’t seem to regard themselves as anything more than a recreation company rather than a utility. I was on the phone with them yesterday and the only solution they could offer me was to contact the billing department so I could be reimbursed for the days of loss of service (probably amounts to about $4). I told them that that wasn’t the point, folks who use their internet service often depend upon it for business purposes as I do when I’m working from home or responding to work emergencies.

They had no answer for that. It seems Comcast simply isn’t ready to play with the big boys yet. I’m just happy that I use satellite for my TV viewing – I would otherwise be missing Lance’s road to victory in the Tour de France!

In the (how many now?) years that I’ve used DSL I’ve never had an outage of this magnitude. Especially since they corrected the intermittent line drop problem – an admirable effort on their part. I moved away from BellSouth because I did not like having my phone services bundled with my internet services and they would not separate the two. I may have to go back to them, warts and all, and just subscribe to a basic phone service in order to ensure a slightly slower, but more dependable service.

Anybody else have any experiences with BellSouth DSL or Comcast High Speed Internet service?

One of the weblogs that I keep an eye on is’s.

He has a wide range of interests, many of which I share. The site should be of particular interest to anybody interested in tweaking WordPress. He recently posted some tips to make XP run a little faster that may prove useful to some folks out there.

I especially liked this one (a link from Webgear Resources – Check out item number 6 about making previously hidden items show up in your add/remove programs dialog.

Weather Resources

With Hurricane Dennis about to make landfall I thought it would be appropriate to post a number of weather links that I like to use when planning my flights. Some of them have excellent facilities for tracking and projecting tropical storms and hurricanes.


More Advanced
If you like weather charts and want to see satellite imagery and projection charts, the National Weather Service (NWS) is brilliant.

  • This link to the NWS’ Aviation Weather center has much of the basic information you need for flight planning. Take a look at the satellite links to see big weather systems such as hurricanes, etc.
  • There is really no rhyme or reason to the site and associated URLs, if you poke around long enough you can eventually find what you’re looking for. But for hurricanes and the like, go here (I clicked on “News” from the link above and then “National Weather Service” from the “Top Story” on that page). Anyway along the top you’ll find links to current major storms. Clicking on “Hurricane Dennis Graphics” (as of today) will give you some very useful images showing actual and projected paths for the hurricane.
  • Finally here is a legend to help decipher all those symbols you see on the charts above.

Aviation Specific
All the links below have a bent toward aviation in particular:

  • The AirNav site (here is KLZU – My Home Airport) is specific to each airport and you can get relatively recent ATIS (Automated Tower Information Service) or AWOS (Automated Weather Observation System) which is basically just airport local weather. The ATIS will offer some extra info such as runway in use, etc. but for this post, the weather’s the thing.

These links require either that you have a pilot’s license or that you are a member of AOPA.

  • AOPA’s weather information is provided by Meteorlogix – so this is a nice perk of being a member
  • I make use of DUATS for my overall flight planning

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

2/5 stars

Can anybody tell me why I like Cate Blanchett? I mean she’s not typically attractive, the first time I saw her was in the movie “The Aviator” and I was very taken by her portrayal there of Katharine Hepburn. In this quirky movie again I found her character to be odd but very likeable.

The movie itself seemed completely undirected. I haven’t done any research into any grand purpose or message that it was trying to portray, but it drifted around a lot. Mich liked this movie a lot more than I did, she enjoyed its lack of predictability. I would suggest that if a logical flow of events (even if only in retrospect) is your thing, then this movie may not be for you.

Odd and I had no idea really of what the point of the story was supposed to be…


5/5 stars (I’d rate it even higher but that 110% stuff is overused..)

Excalibur is, quite simply, the best movie in cinematic history.

When I first saw this move way back in the early 1980’s I was stunned. Most of the actors were unknowns or at least unknowns to *me*. This extraordinary movie weaves together all of the major pieces of the Arthurian legend from the sword Excalibur and Merlin through the creation of Camelot to the quest for the Holy Grail to the devastating final battle with Mordred.

One may quibble about the historical accuracy of the costumes (most notably the armour in which respect, I must admit Monty Python’s Holy Grail movie was probably much closer to the period). But the sheer wonder of that epic story being presented as a coherent whole combined with a spectacular musical score and the innocence and growth of the players make this the best film that I have seen to date.

The Aviator

4/5 stars

Who knew Leonardo DiCaprio could act? Like most folks I am intrigued by Howard Hughes. To be that wealthy and powerful and to ultimately be such a victim to your own fears and insecurities. The story is a fanciful portrayal of Hughes’ from his first appearance on the Hollywood scene up until the quasi-victorious flight of “The Spruce Goose”.

Also featured in the film was Cate Blanchett who made quite an impression as Katharine Hepburn. Especially enjoyable was Hughes’ meeting the Hepburn clan. Also taking down Alan Alda’s Senator Ralph Owen Brewster character in Senate hearings was dramatic but exultant.

Be Cool

3/5 stars

A fun romp. Uma Thurman looks very appealing even as she is terribly under utilized in this movie. I’m still swooning over her from her explosive performance in Kill Bill Volume One (not to be confused with the not so good Kill Bill Volume Two).

I think the primary appeal of this movie is that the character played by John Travolta – Chili Palmer – is just (cliche/pun warning) so cool. Nothing fazes him, he has a goal and whatever obstacles get in his way he resolutely engineers his way around or, if necessary, through them.

The movie is far more comedy than action. Best served as a rental with a cold beer.