Archive for September, 2007

Quick Question…

I recognize this sounds like a Steven Wright bit or something, but… uh… how do you throw out a garbage can?

Skunks and Cats Living Together! Mass Hysteria!

One of the things I enjoyed most back when I lived in Foster City was that I was like a block away from the Foster City Bay Trail and could bike along the Bay up to the airport and back. These days, I tend to (when I get the chance) drive down to Oracle and pick up the trail there (just south of Foster City). Over the years, if you bike that portion of the Bay Trail, one thing you learn about is the feral cat population. Foster City has a feral cat problem with probably hundreds of wild cats living along approximately a two mile portion of the Bay Trail surrounding the San Mateo Bridge. If you’re out around twilight, you can’t miss the cats. They’re everywhere. About six months ago, as I was biking that section in the evening, marveling at the number of cats, I noticed that one of the cats wasn’t a cat at all, but was clearly a skunk, hanging out with the cats. I thought that was odd, but pretty much forgot about it…. until Friday night.

We went out to dinner in Foster City Friday night, and at the last minute, figured we’d bring Sugar along, so we could take her for a walk along the Bay Trail afterwards. She likes walking there, and if there are a few cats around she can chase, all the better. Dinner was slower than expected, and we didn’t get out to the trail until well past 10pm. Immediately, we noticed two cats on the rocks watching us carefully, but Sugar (surprisingly) wasn’t paying any attention to them, preferring to sniff the grass along the opposite edge. We walked along and saw a few more cats along the way. As we got to about 100 yards of the bridge, I noticed a “cat” off in the distance, and realized it didn’t move like a cat, but looked like a skunk. I point this out, but we continued onwards. Sugar finally spotted some of the cats, but didn’t seem all that interested. Then, all of a sudden, she took off to chase a “cat” and it took us all of about two seconds to realize it wasn’t a cat… but yet another skunk, and it had already turned to raise its tail. We screamed, and amazingly, Sugar stopped and the skunk left us alone (phew).

We kept walking, getting closer to the bridge, when I saw two more skunks wander by. Then, I saw yet another skunk walking along the pier towards us, rather than away from us. Sugar blissfully was sniffing away, in the shrubs, and eventually scared out a couple more cats… but it began to occur to us that she could just as easily have been going after skunks in the underbrush as well. So, despite being told I was overreacting, we put Sugar back on leash and decided to walk the back and away from the bridge, where we hoped there were fewer skunks. Of course, as we walked along, we ended up seeing a few more skunks — and we began to realize that there are an awful lot of them living amongst the cats — and they seem a lot braver than the cats, who scamper off pretty quickly. It didn’t take us long to ditch the Bay Trail altogether and head in-land to walk around some of the nearby residential streets before heading back home.

So… amazingly, despite seeing at least a dozen skunks in about a half-mile trek (and probably an equal number of cats), and having a dog interested in chasing a few of the skunks… we didn’t get sprayed. Yeah, the story would have been better if we had… but I’m rather pleased it ended in the boring way.

In the meantime, though, man, who knew that skunks and cats liked living together so much?

The Secret Thinkpad Powerbutton Code To Bring Dead Laptops Back To Life

Two months ago, I got a new laptop. It’s a Lenovo Thinkpad z61t. I actually ordered a t61, but I accidentally got the z61 instead — and, I actually really like it. It’s quite similar to the t61, but a little smaller and lighter. I was worried that the smaller part would be a problem, but I’ve gotten used to it. I really like the fact that it’s much lighter than my old t42. It just makes it seem so much more usable on the go. Lugging out the t42 was always a chore.

Anyway, I was at the Office 2.0 conference today, where I was giving a little presentation on the Techdirt Insight Community, and about an hour before the presentation, I went to find a quiet place to practice the presentation… and discovered that my brand new laptop wouldn’t work. I knew something was wrong when the “sleep” light wasn’t lit. I started to get worried when I plugged in the laptop and the battery light didn’t light up. Then I noticed that even though the machine had been asleep, it was really really hot. Pushing the power button did nothing. No lights were on and nothing seemed to get them to turn on. I pulled out the battery and put it back in and that did nothing as well.

So I called up IBM support and explained the situation. The guy on the other end then let me in on the secret power button code to revive your dead Thinkpad. After assessing the situation (totally dead laptop) he warned me: “Okay, this is going to sound totally bizarre, but I want you to give this a try…” He then had me unplug the AC adapter and take out the battery. Then, you push the power button 10 times in a row at one second intervals. Next, you push and hold the power button for 30 seconds. Then you put the battery back in and push the power button… and she lives. The computer came back, good as ever.

I asked the guy what the power button pushing incantation did and he said “static discharge” so apparently there was some sort of static that caused a short or something. I tried to get the guy to explain in more detail what happened, but he said “dude, you know as much as I do… but your machine is working.”

And so it is.

So, if you happen to have a Thinkpad that suddenly drops completely dead for no reason, try the power button trick.

Forget up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A. This little code is now the coolest “cheat” code I know…

Other People’s Weddings…

So I really do plan to write more about our wedding, but time is seriously lacking. Maybe I’ll get to it by our first anniversary. In the meantime, we went to two great weddings this past weekend, so I wanted to share my photos.

Lots of photos at those links, but in the meantime:

Mike Ho and Thu

Tom and Joann

Two very different weddings, but both were a lot of fun.