Friday, November 26, 2004

McMinnville Air Museum

Today we visited the McMinnville air museum and, although I visited only 3 months ago, there was still more than enough material and interesting things to see that I could happily spend another 5 hours there and still not see everything that they have.

Tiffany and I currently have visitors with us for the Thanksgiving holidays, and so there were seven of us that travelled to see the Spruce Goose ( today. There was a little confusion with waiting for the second vehicle to arrive, my wife claiming that it was because I was "speeding away" from them, the truth being more that they were all talking and not paying attention to directions! We simply got a few coffees and sodas and waited for them to arrive.

Several cell-phone calls later, and a few laughs, we were on our way into the museum. The focal point of the area is the "spruce goose" itself, spanning almost the entire museum in both directions. However, the WWII planes are the area that I spend the most time wandering around.

The photos below are pretty dark, because there was not enough light in the museum and the flash was ineffective at those ranges. I have tried to correct the brightness and contrast levels to make them more visible. Click for larger pictures.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Thanksgiving traffic....

Thanks a lot! People on their way to their Thanksgiving get togethers were making my life hell on the way home tonight. Something about a long road-trip and being on the same road that I use to commute meant that several idiots were forced to pay no attention while driving over 2 tons of metal at high speeds. Fortunately there were other large pieces of metal there to stop them, that and some concrete barriers and ditches. I crawled past 4 minor accidents on 26, 217, and I5 on my way home. All of the accidents were low speed shunts by the looks of things, presumably caused by changing a CD, turning around to talk to the kids, or general stupidity.

I fail to see how the word 'accident' can be applied to something that I call 'predictable'. An ACCIDENT implies something unavoidable that was beyond the scope of reasonable mitigation. Whereas when you place continuous lines of cars bumper to bumper on wet, dark roads and have people paying absolutely no attention while they are driving, they should be refered to as 'results' or 'outcomes'.

However, what really burns me on a night where I have already been sitting in traffic for over an hour due to needless 'outcomes' is when I see a brainless waste of skin reading a book to his kids who are in the back seat while driving down the road. Additionally, this isn't just reading while stopped in a line of traffic, but resting a large picture book on the steering wheel while regularly turning round to show the kids the pictures at approximately 45 mph in heavy traffic. Needless to say that tonight saw multiple additions to my 'List of people I HATE'.

OK, rant over...but seriously people, can we try really hard to reduce the number of 'outcomes' on the road...PLEASE!!! Accidents I can handle, but a constant stream of wrecks that could be avoided by just maybe looking FORWARD while driving!!!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

First there was light...

and on the eighth day he created Halo...and their was much rejoicing. After being surgically removed from my XBox only long enough to eat dinner, I now face a long inner struggle to do anything other than play Halo 2 for the rest of my natural existence. From the suped-up intro music (now with extra guitar) to the ability to dual-wield awesome alien weapons, Halo 2 is faaaannntastic. Before I was pried away from my utopia, I managed to "own" a few games online and blast my way through the opening two scenarios in the single-player campaign. Already I can tell that this is something very special. Apart from the fact that XBox Live has never been this busy...EVER...and the fact that people in Wilsonville were queuing at the Game Crazy at midnight to get their copies, the game itself is simply outstanding.

I have heard rumors that the single-player campaign is uninteresting and short. I can't yet speak as to the latter, but I can guarantee that the action so far is absolutely top notch. Anyone thinking that this game is either too easy or straightforward is obviously playing it on pansy difficulty rather than Heroic or Legendary. Try cranking the difficulty up to Legendary and the game becomes a whole different beast. Even the hardiest Haloite will find a challenge when four or five red elites are bearing down on them in a closed corridor.

Then you fire up XBox Live and really prove who you are by duking it out online. After completely owning the whole arena for the first couple of matches, I was introduced to the 'matchmaking' system in Halo 2. Nothing to do with romance, the matching system endeavors to always pit you against players of a similar skill level. It evidently didn't take me long to raise my head just high enough on the rankings for the matching system to put me in with people who would happily take it off at the neck. I proceeded to come in last for the next three matches. I did manage to get a couple of shots off in one match, but unfortunately it was not enough to deter the more elite combatants from slaughtering me. Fortunately I should now be matched up with the 'how do I control this thing again' crowd for a while, at least until I win a few.

In short, Halo 2 not only rocks, it re-defines what it is to be a passive aggresive pass-time where pixel pushing is king. Wish me luck...the master chief IS BACK!!!!

Jump, jump, jump

Every show has to eventually run its course, but watching NYPD Blue tonight and seeing Andy Sipowizc talk to the ghost of Bobby (Jimmy Smits) in one of the most vomit-inducing sappy-ass scenes ever was like watching it jump the shark in slow motion with instant super-slow-mo replay. I am simply thankful that this is the final season of what is probably one of my favorite TV shows, I only hope that the final death throes do not soil my fond memories of some great characters.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Creating distributable .pdb files

I found a useful .NET compile switch last night while studying through my latest in-depth .NET debugging tome that allows you to create safe debug information (.pdb) files ready for distribution with your .NET assemblies.

This is the switch used to create the .NET assemblies supplied by Microsoft. If you ever noticed that the stack trace is correct while using these assemblies but that the error 'No source code is available for the current location' is displayed when pausing, and if you want to replicate this behavior then read on.

The /PDBSTRIPPED compile switch generates a stripped pdb file that contains only the public functions and all-important FPO data (required for correct call stack information) without including the private information, such as variables, source code and line information.

A file named $(ProjectName)_STRIPPED.PDB is generated alongside the regular pdb file that, once renamed to (ProjectName).pdb, can safely be distributed to clients as part of your product.