2012 Welcome To The New forta.com
With any luck (and with the cooperation of the DNS gods) you should be reading this on my new and improved personal web site. This is the first complete redesign of this site in over a decade, and I'm really pleased with how it has turned out.
2012 Yes, It Is A Big Deal
An acquaintance apparently saw my exuberantly gushing Curiosity posts and tweets, and IMd me with "that big a deal, huh?".
It took me a few minutes to figure out how to respond, how to capture the pride and emotion and admiration. But, I tried to do just that, and this is what I sent back:
2011 Tarmac Delay Rule Shocker - NOT!
Back when the tarmac delay rule went into effect I predicted that this rule would fall victim to the Law of Unintended Consequences and that airlines will do the only thing they can do, they'll cancel flights earlier or more often (that copied and pasted from an April 2010 blog post).
And so I was not in the least bit surprised to see the report from the US Government Accountability Office proclaim that our analysis has shown that the rule appears to be associated with an increased number of cancellations for thousands of additional passengers - far more than DOT initially predicted - including some who might not have experienced a tarmac delay.
I know I shouldn't say "I told you so", but ...
2011 When Lightning Strikes The Network
My home network had a bad week last week. One of my 24 port hubs is dead (well, it powers up and passes POST, but not a single data LED lights up). The WAN port on my SonicWALL firewall is fried (fortunately I had an unused port and was able to change the configuration to get back online). My Roku box no longer works on wired Ethernet (although it does work on Wi-Fi). I lost one port on my PBX. A VGA over Cat5 extender lost all 4 of its ports. The integrated Ethernet port on one of my computers is dead. It could have been much worse. I have lots of connected equipment and the vast majority of it is fine (the pattern around what was fried and what not is intriguing to say the least). Still, as I said, a bad week.
The culprit? A massive lightning storm in the area. We never lost power, but apparently the lightning must have caused a significant surge and fried lots of equipment connected to the phone lines (several POTS voice lines and a U-verse data line). Interestingly, all of the damaged equipment still works, I just lost lots and lots of ports, almost all on my LAN, and one on a PBX daughterboard.
I have significant power surge protection. But, obviously, none for the phone and data lines that come into my house. And while I know that this was a freak occurrence, it's still been frustrating and expensive enough that I've been looking into the options for protecting phone and data. And the information out there is rather ambiguous, ranging from inline solutions with mixed reviews, to comments about the impact on performance, and more.
So, I'd like your input. If you have any experience with this type of surge protection, please share - the good, the bad, and the ugly is all appreciated. Thanks!
2011 Vote For Matt Gifford
.net Magazine is running their annual .net Awards, and our own Matt Gifford is the only ColdFusion developer up for a .net Awards 2011. Feel free to help him out, go vote (category 16, at the bottom).
2011 BrowserLab Updated
2011 Expanding A Virtual PC Hard Drive
I use Virtual PC extensively, and have lots of virtual machines that I fire up as needed to run specific software. (Charlie Arehart gets the credit for getting me hooked on virtual computers many years ago). Virtual computers use virtual hard drives, essentially a complete hard drive in a single file, a .vhd file. When a virtual hard drive is created you specify a maximum size, and the drive can either grow to that size as needed (dynamic drive) or start off as the specified size (fixed drive).
But what if you need to expand a drive beyond that initially designated size? There is a great little free utility named VHD Resizer, which, as its name suggests, resizes VHD (virtual hard drive) files. It can convert between dynamic and fixed sized virtual drives, and can change the drive size, too. Simple, right? Well, not quite.
Here's the problem. Expanding the size of virtual drive is simple enough, but expanding the size will not automatically resize partitions on the drive. So, if for example you expanded a 4GB virtual drive to 8GB, your C: drive on the virtual drive will still be 4GB in size, and the extra space will be unassigned waiting for you to create a new drive (perhaps drive D:). Which is great, unless you really do need to expand drive C:, as I just did.
Windows includes a command line utility named diskpart which can extend partitions, but diskpart cannot be used for system or boot volumes, and so if you boot from drive C: (usually the case) you'll not be able to extend it. There are 3rd party tools which can indeed manipulate partitions, including extending system partitions. But (at 36,000 feet somewhere over CO) I found a workaround.
WARNING: What follows is NOT recommended by Microsoft. It worked for me, but no promises. In other words, if you're going to attempt this, make sure you've backed up your .vhd file. And if it doesn't work, well, I don't want to know! ;-)
Ok, so here's what I did:
- You'll need two virtual computers, let's call the one whose drive you want expanded A, and the second B
- Make sure virtual computers A and B are not running
- Open the settings for virtual computer B, you'll likely see a virtual hard drive listed as Hard Disk 1, and Hard Disk 2 through 4 will be empty
- Set Hard Disk 2 to point to the .vhd file used by virtual computer A
- Save settings and fire up virtual computer B
- Once virtual computer B is running you'll see its own virtual hard drive as drive C:, and virtual computer A's hard drive as another letter (next available letter)
- On virtual computer B, open a command prompt and run diskpart, selecting the volume that is computer A's virtual hard drive, and extend it (this will be allowed as diskpart won't recognize it as a system partition as you didn't actually boot virtual computer B from it)
- Shut down virtual computer B, and remove the added hard drive from its settings
- Now fire up virtual computer A
- With any luck you'll now have an expanded system volume
This is NOT supposed to work safely. But, I just did it, and it worked perfectly. Great little workaround, but, caveat emptor.
2011 BrowserLab For Firebug Updated
BrowserLab is our online service for performing cross browser testing, and BrowserLab for Firebug is a Firefox add-on that lets you preview temporary changes you've made using. Today the BrowserLab team announced that BrowserLab for Firebug has been updated to support Firefox 4 and Firebug 1.7.
2011 Serge Jespers Interviews Paul Gubbay Re HTML5
Paul Gubbay is Adobe's VP of Design and Web Engineering. You may recall that I interviewed him (and John Resig) during the MAX 2010 Day 2 keynote, and we chatted about HTML5, jQuery, and more. Well, Paul has been interviewed again, this time at FITC by fellow Adobe evangelist Serge Jespers:
2011 Thank You, Discovery
I am on a Delta flight from SFO to DTW. Fortunately, the plane is equipped with Wi-Fi, so I was able to watch Space Shuttle Discovery's final landing on NASA TV. And honestly, this picture perfect farewell is stirring up a mix of emotions and reactions.
I remember as a teen back in the 80's reading up on everything I could find about the Shuttle fleet as they were being built. I still remember the reaction at seeing a picture of a Shuttle piggy-backed on a Boeing 747 for the first time. I remember exactly where I was (in a taxi in Manchester, England) back in 1986 when we heard about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, and the exhilaration listening live to Discovery triumphantly reinvigorate the program two years later with mission STS-26. And I recall the horrible sense of déjà vu when Columbia disintegrated upon reentry in 2003, and the similar nervous tension three years later when again Discovery led the way back to space with mission STS-116. And I know I am not alone, millions have the same emotional attachment to an amazing and awe-inspiring machine.
And the emotions? Pride, exhilaration, awe ... and at the same time some real anger and disappointment. Honestly, it feels like we've lost the desire to do big bold things, we take Shuttle missions and Space Stations and frequent satellite launches for granted, we've grown jaded and uninspired. And worst of all, we've lost the healthy curiosity needed to be able to literally aim for the stars. How many kids nowadays want to grow up to be an astronaut?
Realistically, these days we'd never be able to pull off anything as grand and as ambitious as the Space Shuttle program. The public has lost interest and so there is no political will to think big. Considering the huge advances in technology since the Shuttles were conceived and built, we should be planning huge leaps forward in space exploration and associated sciences. But, no, instead we're having to fight for attention and relevance. I'm sad, disappointed, and yes, angry.
So, welcome home Discovery, farewell, and thank you for 27 inspiring years. And here's hoping that at some point in the future we'll once again find the passion, the curiosity, and the willpower to do the impossible and inspire a generation.