Noni Bamfa and Julia making meatballs.jpg (67261 bytes)Lee's Journal

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Aug '03 --> Sept '03
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The first sign of the Apocalypse

I got a cell phone.

Sony Ericsson T610 with a T-mobile 300 minute plan & bluetooth headset....

I ordered it on it should arrive late next week.


Devoted to Dean

Tal, a friend is going to work for the Dean campaign. He's putting his job on hold and moving to Vermont for a year. That's fine and well. But if he were REALLY comitted, he'd do this:

(Yea, I'm guessing it's real, but I don't know for sure.)

credits: 1, 2


Holding tension in my body

Everyone holds tension in their body in different and subtle ways. This often comes out during times of heightened stress. I heard about some famous Las Vegas performer... maybe Sammy Davis Jr? Sinatra? no, ... but this person is just as famous... well, he said that before -every- show he was so nervous that he threw up. That's twice a day, 5 or 6 days a week every work day for years! It was a fact of his life.

In the past, I held a lot of my tension in my throat. When I'd get more nervous, my throat would get sore and scratchy pretty quick... which was doubly bad if I was nervous because I was speaking in front of a group. For a while, I held my tension in the back of my shoulders. That was bad for managing my chronic typing Repetitive Strain Injury. I try not to hold my tension there for fear of not being able to type. I've also felt that sometimes I hold my tension in my blood pressure. It's a subtle feeling but I can sense it when I'm looking out for it. That's obviously not a healthy thing to do.

My parents left today just two hours ago and I've already defecated three times. I hadn't noticed for the past couple weeks but I apparently hold some of my tension in my bowels. There you have it; I talked about poop in my public journal.


Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

I saw it Saturday night in the city with M&M Sprague & PPG.

What an amazing movie.
- They actually built Minas Tirith! Well, of course they didn't physically build the whole thing... some parts only exist in a computer. But they still designed every inch of the place!
- I felt Tolkien's "alternate psychology" so much more intensely when seeing it than when reading. (IE: Gollum and Sam are physical representations of different aspects of Frodo. Denethor represents a Tolkienian archetype)
- I'll go so far as to say that ROTK (and the other 2 movies... especially combined) is a solid contender to replace the original Star Wars as the Zeus in the pantheon of movie greats.


XP Home and XP Pro

My folks just got a new computer running XP Home. I'm installing stuff on it and happily noticed that the Messenger Service is turned off by default. This is the service that allows Messenger Spam. :-)

I tried doing an upgrade install on a client's computer from XP Home to XP Pro. The Upgrade install failed miserably. Midway through, the upgrade got stuck, churning over one point and restarting. I had to install Pro from scratch. Hurumph! A few months ago, I tried doing an upgrade from 2000 Pro and had a similarly crappy experience :-(


Condoms Don't Work Nearly As Well As You Might Have Thought

I was at Planned Parenthood recently. I was sitting around in the waiting room reading all the literature on the walls and I came across a weirdly shaped pamphlet. Turns out, it's a pamphlet for the Mircette birth control pill. It was oddly shaped because it had a pocket inside it with a map-looking thing in it. I idly opened the map-looking thing... and kept opening it... and kept opening it... into an 11" x 25" paper with itty bitty print on both sides. Yow.

I saw a pretty picture of the Mircette molecule. Some pretty charts on "Circulatory Disease Mortality Rates per 100,000 Woman-Years by Age..." You know, the usual. I was keeping it light so I kept to the charts and graphs. I came across one that... well, it's heavy. Here it is, lifted from the Mircette page:

Do you remember your statistics? Take a look at line about male condoms. This says that if a couple uses condoms regularly as their only birth control method, they have a 14% chance of becoming parents after a year. Compare that to if they didn't use anything at all; they'd have an 85% chance of conceiving. Said another way, you are about 1/6th as likely to conceive when using condoms. If, on the other hand, you're on the pill, you're somewhere between 1/170 and 1/850 times as likely to conceive.

Of course, condoms are good at preventing the spread at disease. And they are good as a "multiplier" when you use multiple birth control methods. But if all you use are condoms for birth control, then you're playing Russian Roulette with your future.


Saddam Captured

This photo is from an CNN News report.

The caption reads: Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division found a large cache of weapons and ammunition as well as photos that showed Tikrit residents with Saddam.


Wow, he was really packin'.
My sister tells me, "...but he was all alone so that means it is not him organizing the attacks on troops..."

Hmm, maybe it's a public uprising and the people never wanted to be "liberated" after all.

Nah. That would mean that the US forces in Iraq were "invaders", not "liberators". That would make every American a murderer by proxy. And that can't be true. I mean, I didn't kill anybody, right?

Internet Connection Firewall doesn't work for FTP Servers (?)

I'm trying to run an FTP server off my home computer and I ran into a weird snag. Win XP's Internet Connection Firewall doesn't work as advertised. I'm -supposed- to be able to just check the "FTP Server" button and it's supposed to let server traffic through. But it doesn't. Hurumph. I don't want to diagnose this crap so I'm going to get a little crazy and turn it off. I'm not too too worried b/c that brings me from a quadruple firewall down to a triple firewall.

My UPS Hates XP

This story is from a while ago but I'm just getting around to putting it in my journal.

The weirdest thing happened to me when I was installing XP on my home machine. The install CD had just copied all it's files to my computer and it was getting ready to boot itself into XP for the first time. When it shuts down for the reboot, my UPS started beeping as if the power had gone out and it was running on battery! Well, I hadn't touched the computer... I wasn't even sitting at the desk when it happened. I climbed underneath and verified that all the wires were ok.... I unplugged and replugged the UPS... all the while, XP is starting up for the first time on the computer.

There was nothing I could do! The UPS believed itself to be unplugged! I've got about 20 minutes of power on the batteries so I took the very first opportunity to power off the computer and then power cycle the UPS. The UPS was fine after that. Totally weird.

Now consider what happened.... The UPS was connected to the computer only by a power cord... no serial cord... no USB. So how did the UPS know that XP was coming? Did XP do something horrible to the power supply? No, that's impossible, isn't it? Bear in mind that this has never happened in the 6 years I've owned the UPS and hasn't happened since. And that it happened at the exact moment I was switching over from 2000 to XP.



I Flooded the Boys Room

I subbed today.

I was a bad boy.

I flooded the boys room!


The real story isn't nearly so anti-establishment...  I was subbing at the Hackettstown Middle School (my first time this year). I went into the boys bathroom and saw that one of the toilets had some "material" in the bottom of the bowl. It looked like it had been flushed once but didn't go all the way down. So I flushed it again. I noticed that it wasn't going down. I saw the bowl filling up pretty quick and frowned. I think it's totally weird how when a toilet bowl is just about to overfill, it gets closer and closer to the rim and then pauses.... like it's deciding whether to ruin your day or not. Sometimes it proceeds, and sometimes it hovers there, just threatening you. Well, in this case, it proceeded like Niagara Falls. Woosh! The little flood took over half of the bathroom before finding its way to the urinal drains 15 feet away. This thing was cranking out like 10 gallons a minute. I banged on the mechanism and fiddled with it to try and make it stop but my efforts did nothing but get my shoes wet.

I ran into the hallway with my wet shoes, ran across the hall into a classroom and fessed up to a teacher. She told me to call the custodian on the phone. He was up in a minute to turn off the water.

I flooded the boys room.

How can I change the CD Key of my Office XP Installation?

lifted from

You can do it by editing the Registry. Apply this procedure:

  1. Locate your valid product CD Key, which is located on the back of the original CD case.

  2. On the Start menu, click Run.

  3. In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK.

  4. In Registry Editor, find the following subkey:


Click the plus sign (+) next to this folder. If you see only one subkey in this folder that has a 32-character {GUID} (globally unique identifier), select that subkey and go to step 5.

If you see more than one subkey that has a 32-character {GUID}, select each one until you find the one whose DisplayName value (in the right pane) matches your version of Office.

  1. For the selected {GUID} subkey, select the ProductID string value in the right pane.

  2. On the Edit menu, click Rename.

  3. Type


and then press ENTER.

  1. On the Registry menu, click Exit.

Reader note: Reader Mike Fairburn wrote:

"Great work and a great service to the Internet community. I looked at your page and tried the fix you suggest. I have, however, discovered that you need to do more than what you suggest. What you need to do is delete the digital ID above the Product ID. This forces the next Office XP app to open to request a valid key."

Thanks. You guys should check his advice and see if it's indeed required.

  1. Start any Office program.

  2. When the Microsoft Office XP User Information dialog box appears, type your valid product CD Key (located on the back of the CD case). Follow the instructions on your screen.

Reader note: Greg Guerrero from the USA wrote:

"If you open MS Word and it does not ask you for a CD Key, go to step 11."

  1. Return to step 4, select the Registration folder.

  2. Right click Registration folder and select rename.

  3. Type OldRegistration and press enter.

  4. Follow steps 8 - 10.

Reader note: Crazy Dave from the USA wrote:

"In regards to your article "How can I change the CD Key of my Office XP installation?" a final step in some cases (as it was in mine) is to go to the HELP menue in the MSoXP application that you open, and select the "about..." option."




A Customer Support Letter to Spamnet

I wrote this to Spamnet today. I still think their service is excellent. It could just be a little better.

I get about 3 false positives per week, mostly from mass mailers from companies I want to receive mail from (IE. Coldwater Creek,, Avantgo, NikonNet). I suspect that these false positives come from other Spamnet members that want to cancel their subscription to these mailers but not wanting to bother with unsubscribing.

Please make it more clear to Spamnet users that the "Block" button should only be used for spam and not to unsubscribe from legitimate mailers. Your tutorials don't express this clearly enough.

Thank you,
Lee Sonko


Versacounter for PNG

Someone asked me for my Versacounter sourcecode. (See Journal 10-23-03).  Here are my notes from

# VersaCounter (version 1.0a) 12-1-03
# Version 1.0 by Michael Chavel. Version 1.0a modifications by Lee Sonko
# 1.0a is a simple port that uses .png files instead of .gif files.
# Recent versions (after 2001?) of the Perl GD module don't support .gif files
# due to patent issues with Unisys. 1.0a gets around that issue by swapping .gifs
# for .png files.

And here is the new (version 1.0a) code.

In case you don't have it, here is the original (version 1.0) Vesacounter code from Chavel's website.

I think Versacounter is a terrific website counter program. I like it primarily because it doesn't need server side includes, it's customizable on a per-counter basis, it's a snap to make new counters, and the code on the web page is very easy to read. Here's an example from this Journal page:

<img src="" alt="[hit meter]">
hits from <a href=""></a>
<img src="" alt="[visit meter]">
visits to my journal homepage since October 23rd, 2003.
<a href=""></a>

That code makes 2 graphical counters, reading "nnn hits from nnn visits to my journal homepage..." I count 'visits' as a bunch of requests from the same IP address in 14,400 seconds.... 4 hours. Simple.


11-21-03 is a Good ISP

I've been using for my ISP for several weeks now and I'm very happy with them. Their tech support is very good, price is excellent, up-time is very good, services are just great (I got my SSH command prompt :-)  )



You know that you're never ever going to grow up when...


You know that there are unresolved issues in your life when...

You buy one of these:

Car's fixed

I was down a gallon of antifreeze. The coolant system likely had a vaporlock condition. Still... where did that gallon of antifreeze go?!? Especially since I had an oil change at the dealer just a month ago. They are supposed to check for that kind of stuff.


Cars break down right on schedule

I've had my 1998 Chrysler Sebring for 5 years, 1 1/2 months. I know this partially because I got the car on my birthday. The other reason is that I purchased a 5 year extended warrantee on the car for about $1,400. Nothing ever went bad on the car in all that time. . . . . . until tonight, 1 1/2 months after the warrantee and service plan expires.

I swear, they have a little timer in them. That's why you can't buy the extended warrantee after the car leaves the showroom; they have to set the timer before you get it.

I was driving along and noticed that all of a sudden the heat wasn't heating. I looked down and noticed that the temperature gauge was high and rising so I pulled over at a rest stop. After waiting 30 minutes and walking to the Delaware river to fill my water bottle for the radiator, I got back in the car and took off. I made it just 1 mile before it was topping the red zone again. I realized I wasn't going to limp home. I pulled off at Rt 80 Exit 4 (20 miles from home) into a truck stop, called a friend to pick me up (thanks Jack), called a nearby mechanic and waited to be picked up at McDonald's.

If I learned one thing from this whole experience it's that I don't much like McDonald's any more. Too filling, fatty and flavorless. Two hours later, I still feel bloated even though I didn't finish my fries or shake.

Let's hope I get out of this without too much expenditure...

Me On Stuff

This is part of a letter I wrote to an acquaintance a few months ago

>As for my MST3K stuff, what shows are you missing from your collection?

I never tried collecting MST3K shows. But there is always one sitting on Tivo ready for me to spend two hours on! I went kooky taping Babylon 5 and that was enough for me. So now I've got some 116 hours or so of B5 on SVHS and I don't know what to do with it. It was that experience that convinced me just a few years ago that I should watch/experience/read stuff and then let them go. I used to keep most everything I thought was important. But then I just sold or gave most of it away... and surprise, I didn't explode or wither away! Of course, I still seem to have too much "stuff", it's ongoing... but at least it's now eminently manageable.



The Screen Savers & Call For Help

For the past few months I've been tivoing The Screen Savers and Call For Help on TechTV. These shows are both excellent if you're a computer nerd or plan to be one, you'll know what we mean! I find it important to Tivo them because it's an hour long and, although I love Leo, watching him for an hour straight gives me the twitchies.. No, not really, just just that sometimes they talk about stuff I already know and I just skip past that segment. But they are real hackers with real good advice for geeks and non-geeks alike. And they have cute AND smart supporting members too. How many times have I had that dream where Cat Swartz is configuring my router.... ahhhhh.   :-)

Driving Like a Crazy Person

PPG and I were in the city this weekend. On our way out of the city at 5pm, we got stuck in really bad traffic. On our way to the Holland Tunnel, we'd often only advance a single car-length at each change of the light. It was a little aggravating. We had been sitting in traffic for 45 minutes when I started playing with the seat. I cranked my seat back into a recline to relax. PPG was driving.

Lee: Lean your seat back. It's not like we're going anywhere.
PPG: No, I can't. I'm driving.
Lee: Well put the car in Park.
PPG: No.
Lee: OK, well at least take your hands off the wheel.
[she does]
Lee: Now, wave them in the air like this. [Lee flaps his hands around furiously in front of him]
[she starts waving her hands around in front of her, smiling at the distraction]
Lee: You're driving like a crazy person! Now put the car in Park!


Another Fab Weekend!

Friday: I was trying to fix poor Vickie C's computer all day and all night. There is a lesson in my attempted fixing. She has a 333Mhz, 64meg RAM laptop. This computer should NOT have XP on it.

Her computer has been dying unexpectedly. I tried a bunch of things to fix it to no avail so I reinstalled the BIOS and did a fresh install of XP in the hopes that would do it. Well, it did but nothing ran right under XP. After hours of "push the button, wait 20 minutes. Push the other button, wait..." I dumped XP and reinstalled Win98. I was up til 4 pushing the button.

Saturday:  I brought Vickie's computer to her. It works. :-) I tutored her on all sorts of fun computer things and then rushed back home to drive my mom to the airport. We left at 2. That leaves me with the house all to myself. Woo hoo, let's par-tay!  I got back and started making an apple pie for PPG. I was a bit nervous because I had tried making one several years ago with Julie and the crust was a total disaster. Julie and I had fun playing with the dough but... total disaster. :-)

I followed the directions in Cook's Illustrated's The Best Recipe to the letter. (PPG gave me a copy as a present!!) And you know what? It came out great. I'm very happy. Just as it was finishing, PPG called from her wedding in Long Valley. Oh did she get lost! She must think that I live on the moon! Her cell phone service kept bopping out every 5 minutes, she almost hit a deer while trying to read a map on the dark road... She got lost several distinct times... oh poor PPG! The worst for me was when she was about 4 miles away: just as I was going to tell her when to make her last important turn, her phone went out AGAIN. I envisioned her driving right past the road while cursing at her phone and wondering where the hell she was! Her service returned as she got to rt. 80 and I had her write down directions to my place. But she got lost AGAIN just a mile from the house! AHH! I drove out and got her, brought her home and gave her a big warm hug & kiss!

I was thinking we'd go out to Jenny Jump Observatory to see the lunar eclipse with all the other star-nerds. And then go to The Lodge at Mountain Lake. But we decided to stay home and pop outside a few times to look at it. Brrrrr, it was cold out! We watched Spenser Tunick's show on HBO, Naked States. But we only got half way through the 1:20 presentation. It's a really good, pretty intense program. We'll finish it sometime. (image from Sky & Telescope Magazine)

We ate, we talked, we nuzzled. It was good!

Sunday: We took a fabulously long time getting up, had Apple pie and other things for breakfast and then went off to the city. When she was at that Spenser Tunick event on Oct 27th, an artist had asked her to pose. So we were off to Brooklyn for the session. I think the artist's name is Jessica. She's doing this photo with lots of people sitting on this super long (digitally created) couch. It was a fine shoot. After, we went into Manhattan to get glitter. The lady at the counter was a characteristically uncaring New Yorker. PPG asked for glitter and the lady pointed and said, "Here, this is all we have." We didn't like any of the glitter in the rack and were sad. But then while we were browsing, we found what could only be described as the glitter department. They had hundreds of kinds of glitter in the glitter department, and even more in a few other spots in the store. We played with the glitter and she picked out the exact color she wanted. It was good. We went shopping for a vase-thing in Crate and Barrel. We didn't find what she was looking for, but just as well because when she got home she decided that it would be better to unpack all her stuff and make an evaluation before buying more stuff. A quick stop in Pottery Barn discovered the world's most expensive firewood kindling. $20 for the cutest little bundle of "scented winter twigs". We started back after that. See the Holland Tunnel mention above.

We went looking for Luigi's restaurant in Dover. They said they were moving from Ledgewood to Dover in September... But we couldn't find their phone number via 411. So we went to Dover in search of the restaurant. But by the time we got there, we were both so grumpy-hungry that we stopped at the very first restaurant we found, Giovanni's in Dover. You can't miss it... get off Rt 80 toward Dover. At rt 46, look left and there's the sign. The place really didn't look open but we were so hungry. Even as we got to the inner door, I tried the door thinking that it would be locked. Low and behold, it opened! There were only 5 folks at the bar and 2 people dining in a place that could fit 150... and here it was Sunday at 7pm... We sat down anyway.

Wow. Everything was perfect. I had Strachatelli (spelling?) it's a fresh spinach and egg soup... well, this was "perfect". Really. I didn't try PPG's soup but she said it was good. Dinner was linguini marinara. I was expecting "pasta". But what I got was magic. I honestly believe that the chef crushed the tomatoes for my sauce just for my dish. And PPG's eggplant rollatini..... let me say again, "perfect". Now, I will say that they kept the temperature in the restaurant a bit chilly, which wasn't very inviting. But hey, the place was literally empty. I'm going back. You should too. I'll still go back to Luigi's if I can find the place. Luigi's food is also fantastic; they take the standard dishes and give them a little face-lift. Both of these restaurants, one strictly classic and one with a slight flair for new-school, both of these restaurants have a place in my heart.

Damn Bill Gates! or: Universal Plug and Play Obnoxiousness

I've been all nervous for the past several hours because I thought I had a Trojan horse that was busy offloading the contents of my computer to Kazaa or somesuch. It turns out that the recent firmware upgrade I did to my D-Link DI-624 wireless router gave it Plug and Play (UPnP) capability. It seems that someone thought it would be a good idea if every device on a network make a shout out to it's homies every 20 friggin seconds. I was watching my network idiot-light and got really nervous seeing this regular, low-key traffic. Here's what I found out about it:

from: (router) to:, from port 1900 to port 1900, format:UDP:

SERVER:Embedded UPnP/1.0

I found the most useful info about this at these sites:



Audiocatalyst is dead, long live Audiocatalyst

I've used Audiocatalyst to rip lots of CDs.  Unfortunately, it doesn't run under XP. :-(  Goodbye Audiocatalyst. I hardly knew ya.

I'm trying CDex from Sourceforge. It's working darn nicely. And it's free! I'm already starting to forget about that Catalitic program, what's it called?

Getting Rid of Mold Smells

Alternately titled: It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.

Living in a basement, I've had some problems with mold smells... mufa. It can be really really hard to get rid of that smell because the mold itself is really hard to get rid of. Well, I've been using an anti-fungal powder on my feet and every day I'd sprinkle it on my feet, often getting a little on the rug by accident. It was easy enough to just rub my feet on the white spot where the powder accidentally fell. So I put 2 and 2 together and decided to give the whole rug an anti-fungal treatment. It works great. In 2 days, the mufa smell faded and hasn't come back. That's pretty amazing since the smell had been there consistently for the past couple years.

So, to get rid of mold smells in your basement, try using the large container of Desenex antifungal powder.



Wireless 802.11 USB adapter

After getting ready to be very mad at D-Link for selling me hope (only to have that hope dashed against the rocks of not-working-ness) I am happy with my new sexy little D-Link DWL-122 Wireless 802.11 USB adapter. Isn't it just the cutest thing you ever did see? You see, I'm all excited because this is pretty much the first thing that I bought outright for Computer Guy. And hey, how often do you get to use so many buzzwords in the name of a thing... "D-Link DWL-122 Wireless 802.11 USB adapter". Oh yeah.

I was about to send the darn thing back when I figured out what was going on...  It's really very simple. The channel I was on had too much static. I switched the router to channel 2 and it worked just peachy. Before that, I'd get terribly sporadic service... on for 5 seconds, off for 5 minutes.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. No, that wasn't it. I moved 200 meg of data with it, now I can't get a connection again. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

GRRR2. Maybe it IS it. I changed the channel to 3 and BOOM, it works ok now... GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

OK, now I upgraded that laptop (a Gateway Solo 3100) computer to XP and when I reboot, the adapter works right away. So it LOOKS like if I have Win98 SE on the laptop and I change the channel on the router while the laptop is turned on, the laptop will get a connection. If I have XP, the connection will work right when I turn it on. Of course, I can't test the Win98 hypothesis on this computer any more because I'm not going back just for a silly test.


On Late Autumn

We are at that most peaceful moment
between sleep and waking
when even the most fearsome beast looks as a cherub.
It's skin smells like a baby's
It's eyelids are beginning to flutter
Soon it will stand up as the giant that it is.


That is a thought I had while walking outside today on this calm autumn day.


Opulent Whirlwind Weekend

Friday night: Saw my good friend Marian Heller at Don't Tell Mama. I (of course) got there a few minutes late AGAIN. I videotaped most of her show. Afterward, Marian, her friend Lisa, her new friend Don K. and myself went out to a very nice meal a few blocks north. NYC restaurants all try so hard to impress... and I'm so easily impressed. :-)  Then we went off to Deutch's Halloween party on 27th and 3rd. The party wasn't to my liking. I went back to Marian's after the party. Parking was (miraculously) not a problem near her apartment. Good sleepy-time conversation and a good night's rest later, Saturday began.

Saturday: Back home for a breather and a nap. Then off to pick up my tuxedo in Woodbridge (see below). Off to pick up PPG. We were off to her company's owner's Halloween masquerade party. Wow. The place was wow. I felt like we were in a James Bond movie or at the new Bellagio hotel. One thing I'll remember is the aquarium (10' long x 6' high x 5' deep) with all manner of fish. For the first time, it didn't look like "animals in a cage". The sheer opulence of the whole place, the small section of wall in the dining room that wasn't painted (oop! I -am- after all a QA guy at heart), The secluded walk around the back of the house. The most delicate chocolate mousse I've ever had in my life. I could go on listing...  food, band, dancing, easy laughing, enticing the waitstaff, pewter glasses, cosmopolitans...

Sunday: After coming home from the party and sleeping in Edison, we packed up her itty bitty room and moved it all to her new place in Metro 2409! The place is terrific. It doesn't have a movie theater,  pool room, and bowling alley, but it -does- have wonderful country lines and angles, entirely new everything, a white picket fence, a warm homey feeling, a lovely backyard, and a short walk to Everything! We had dinner at Down to Earth in Metro 2409. I hope I never forget the powerful warm "everything is going to be alright" feeling we shared while sitting in the corner in the candle-light, eating chocolate cake.


Men: Don't rent a tuxedo, BUY!

A few weeks ago, I rented a tux for my sister's wedding. Final cost: $150 and 3 visits to the bridal shop (fitting, pickup, drop-off). For the Saturday night event, I wanted a tux so I went to Syms, picked one out that I liked from their pretty good selection, got a pre-done bow-tie, cummerbund, a tie-yourself bowtie (I vowed to learn but ran out of time for this event), and a nice shirt for... get this  $210 total, tax included. If I wear it TWICE, it will have paid for itself. And most importantly, it's exactly what I wanted.   Oh, I suppose I should include in this cost the $20 extra I spent on the silk white handkerchief and the $50 I will likely spend on cufflinks and those shirt button-hole things. I'm very happy with the look of the hanky (my wedding rental tux didn't have a hanky). I didn't want to spend the money on the cufflinks but when I noticed that most everyone except for the caterer had them at the masquerade, I knew that I had to get them.

I want a raise. I want to go home. I want sex. I want a cookie.

 The Evolution Control Committee's Plagiarythm Nation ROCKS.


A Potential Advertisement for Computer Guy

That's like getting rid of your car because it's June and you're tired of driving around with your old Christmas tree on the roof, but you tied that thing on there so good that it's like it's never coming off. No, you just need a friend with a really good knife. That's me, The Computer Guy.

What I Did on Halloween

Went into the city to see my good friend Marian Heller perform at Don't Tell Mama. Afterward, we went out with her friends Lisa and Don to a fabulous NYC restaurant (aren't they all fabulous? dining in NYC is always such a fantastic adventure!). Then it was off to the party with Deutch. Then crash-time at Marian's. I've got a peaceful, easy feelin'. :-)

Tonight is the big black-tie costume event with PPG!  I -must- nap before it so I'm 100%!


Reinstalled XP

A month or so ago I did an upgrade installation from Windows 2000 to Windows XP. It sucked. Windows ran slow, there was this persistent hesitation problem where the machine would lock up for 5 seconds out of every 10 minutes... My computer wasn't happy. So when I got the 200 gig hard drive, I decided to do an install from scratch. You know, ever since Windows 95, it's been "a good idea" to reinstall Windows every 2 years or so. What's with that??

The only problem I've had so far is that Maxtor insisted that I use their Maxblast3 formatting software and not the XP formatting tool. That's kind of funny because I banged my head against a wall of "Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt | <windows root>\system32\hal.dll | Please reinstall a copy of the above file" BECAUSE of the Maxblast3 software" for 4 hours because of that bad suggestion. To get around this problem, I booted to my old XP and formatted the 200 gig drive with Windows and Partition Magic 7. After that, I installed WinXP on the new drive just fine. Patting myself on the back, I figured that one out all by myself.

My Windows XP install is now snazzy-fast :-)

Recovering my XP Key

I had misplaced my CD key and I wasn't about to pay Microsoft for the privilege of getting my key back so I used "XP KeY ReCoVeRER AND DiSCOVErER 5.12", XPkey.exe (findable on Kazaa). It's a 49,152 byte long executable. I had to try about 10 "valid" keys before one worked. Many of the keys generated were deemed invalid by Windows. See "Checking the Product ID" to see why.



"Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder v1.41", keyfinder.exe, weighing 262,727 bytes was also helpful. I don't think it actually changed my keys though.. I used the Microsoft method, which is next.;en-us;Q328874 was kind of helpful. was quite useful. Here's the most useful bit of that page:

Checking the Product ID
During the installation of Windows XP Professional, you are prompted to enter a 25 digit Windows XP Product Key, which Windows XP promptly converts it into the system's product ID. Because of security concerns about piracy, Microsoft does not provide a tool that allows you to view the Product Key (or CD Key) that was used to install the operating system. However, Windows XP Service Pack 1 ships with a list of the two product IDs that are created by the pirated product volume license product keys. (The Product ID can be found by right clicking My Computer and choosing Properties) To determine eligibility for the update, Service Pack 1 compares the Windows XP product ID on the system to this list. The comparison and the list reside locally on the users PC and no information is sent to Microsoft as part of this process. Service Pack 1 for Windows XP will fail to install on installations of Windows with one of the following product IDs:  XXXXX-640-0000356-23XXX and XXXXX-640-2001765-23XXX


2 weeks ago (jeez the time flies!) I went to see Siobhan in Boston. It was fun! She had to do some work for her Usability class. That entailed us going to iRobot in Burlington and planning out a usability study of their Packbot. How cool is that? I've got to make one derogatory comment... usability graduate students are, by and large, pretty dumb. Ok, I'm done being mean.

I got a little tour of the office space. One of the high-points was getting a look at the boss' office. He's got -all- the good toys and robots and models and magazines and stuff hanging from the ceiling and everything! Wee! I grinned when I realized that I was familiar with almost every item in the place except for some of the anime characters. There was one character I recognized instantly for a different reason. Koumori rocks.




The Great Whirlwind Weekend


- I helped PPG go apartment hunting near her job in Matawan. We stopped in for a visit with Ernie Melinda and Boo. They were happy to give some advice looking for an apartment. Afterward, we went for dinner in Metro 2409 at The Pastaria. It was a very good time for us to connect.


- More apartment hunting. The last one we looked at had that "yes" feeling. She'll probably be giving them a deposit today.

- More with the quality time thing. :-) :-)

- we went to a friend's home for a weekly gathering event. Twas very fun and good! They're good people. Interestingly, one of them was talking about his friends Rhea and Barry... I thought for a moment to confirm my suspicion and told them that I had lived with Rhea and Barry almost 10 years ago in Boston. Small world!   PPG had a migraine that she managed to get through well enough in order to make it to our early morning Sunday event.


- PPG participated in a terrific Spencer Tunick art event where she posed nude along with 449 other women in Grand Central Station! It started at the new 2am (this was on the night daylight savings time changed over, giving the artist an extra hour for the shoot)

- We snuck in 5 hrs sleep and then off to my cousin Christian's Christening at 1... We made it there at 1:20. "We would have been on time but the day was so beautiful that we had to drive slow." :-)

- And then off to the lunch/dinner for Christian.  2:30 til 6:30... and we didn't even stay for desert, yow! Family and PPG got along famously.

- 9pm: sleep!

A Dollar a Gig

My new 200 gig hard drive arrived! Total price from Amazon, shipping included: $199.84. It's a DiamondMax Plus 9 200 GB ATA / 133 HDD. Maxtor model 6y200P0. Wow.

Now, if I can only find the time to install it...


Matrix Revolutions trailer

All 45 megs of it! [removed]

Download it with mad abandon, I now have 10 gig of bandwidth/month.  [12-10-03 removed because I've got scads of bandwidth but limited space :-(  )

Fuckin Unisys

I just love my VersaCounter. That's the hit counter I use on my website. I've been having a bit of difficulty getting it to work on the new server. Four hours of banging on it last night didn't convince it to give up it's secrets.

But there is a good side... I asked the nice people at Spenix (my new ISP) for shell access to my account and it was granted in just a few hours. I SSHed into my account to run the VersaCounter Perl script and I had the problem resolved in 15 minutes. :-)

As I had guessed (this was just one of my many guesses last night) Spenix has the latest versions of all the Perl modules. This means that the latest GD module -doesn't- support .gif images. Remember how Unisys sat up after 10 years of giving the .gif file format away for free? Now Unisys wants money for their patented property... Jerks.... Indian Givers... whatever... Well, the free-source community responded by cutting .gif out of the loop. The .png file format works just as well as .gif and uses a different code base. So, all I had to do in my situation was to rename all .gif references to .png, convert the images from .gif to .png and I was good to go!  Unfortunately, I made a syntax error when converting but I caught that in a second by running it from the shell (fixing that error without a shell would have been nigh impossible).

Hurray! Maybe I don't hate computers after all.

PS. See my 12-6-03 entry for the sourcecode :-)

The All-consuming Journal

My friend (and apparently a master of ceremonies) MC Mitchell G. wrote to me today about my journal, almost out of the blue... He writes:

ARGH! I'm trapped inside the online version of your
brain when I should be educating people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I smile at a job well done.


On Automated Backups

I present to you the canonical backup story, in my own words (except for the part about it being canonical.. Those are TJIC's words).

I've always been shy about fully automated backup processes... At my last company, they spent 20 grand on a fancy-ass automated tape backup system. After it had been in operation for 6 months, which required a co-worker to stay late and swap tapes twice a week, I tested the system by asking for a file I had "accidentally" deleted. The response?

"Oop, the backup system doesn't work after all. Our entire company and code-base is backup-free."

Evolution Control Committee

Currently listening to: Evolution Control Committee, Plagiarythm Nation


Experimental music makes me ecstatically happy. These guys are great.


I Love SpamNet

I wrote this email and sent it to a bunch of friends today:

Subject: From Lee Sonko: a spam stopper that works

If you follow my online journal, you know that I'm nutty for killing spam. Well, over the last couple weeks, I've been using a new spam stopping software that I saw mentioned on TechTV and it really gosh-darn works. I'm amazed, astounded... Heck, I'm so happy with it that I'm foisting it on you in this email.

Is a service called SpamNet. If you have Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express and you get more spam than you can bear, you'll want to try this thing out.

The service costs about $4 per month with a free one-month trial and I am glad to pay it. I receive something like 60 spams/day. My old spam program, McAfee Spamkiller would block 40 of them, leaving me with 20 ways to get the penis patch, see horny asian lovers, and get my degree by mail. Spamnet brings that down to 1-2 per day and I don't have to continually tweak the program, it's automatic. It works seemlessly with Outlook. And it has a very low false-positive rate too!

If you use this referral link, it'll be just $1.99/month for the first year (after the free trial) instead of the retail $4/month :-)
Or use this referral code when you're paying for it: hze4hl

So, to sum up:
- Cloudmark's SpamNet really works at stopping spam and it's very easy to use.
- You must have either Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express to use it.
- It's $1.99/month (after the free trial) if you use this link

Have a great day,

Cancelled Earthlink

I cancelled my Earthlink service today.


Switching from Earthlink to Spenix

I changed my DNS so that Spenix would be my new web provider. A month ago I switched from to for my DNS b/c GoDaddy is $8/year instead of $35 and GoDaddy's website has a few more bells and whistles. Now I'm moving from Earthlink to Spenix b/c, although Earthlink has very good LiveChat support, it's for a product that doesn't have as many features and easy customizations as Spenix. And Spenix is $8/month instead of $20/month! Of course, it worries me that the main site appears to be down today. But I'm sure that's just a little glitch... Yipe!

Some site details like the comment engine and hit counter will be broken 'til I fix em. so there.


About Mailing List Etiquette


E-Z-P-ASS Debacle

I just switched my Amex card from a Gold Card to a "Green Card with Rewards". Switching saves me a few bucks and doesn't affect me at all since I've never used any of the gold card bells and whistles. I went to the E-Z-PASS website to change my account over to the new credit card number but it wouldn't take my number.. So I called them on the phone. The E-Z-PASS lady changed me over no problem. I asked for help with the website and she asked me what website I was going to. It instantly dawned on me that the stupid money-sucking, corruption ridden, problem laden, pork-barrel politicking system that was "E-Z-Pass" was to blame. You see, Google's first response for E-Z-Pass is (obviously) But my bill references E-Z-Pass NY and E-Z-Pass NJ are two completely different, non-overlapping entities. "But..." I say. And I stop, remembering all the hoopla over the system over the past 3 years. The shady dealings, money laundering, intentional cost overruns, and scandal. And then I wish that I had been an inside-investor in E-Z-P-ASS.


Mao-widge and other things

My sister got married this weekend. The wedding was great. I'll have photos up soon. And, yes, the minister said, "Mao-widge" during the service. If you are furrowing your brow at that statement, then watch The Princess Bride!

Making an announcement mailing list happen for the PVPOA is stalled. The PVPOA lawyer wants that all the world take risks while the PVPOA sits in its cocoon. "Oh! They've encased the PVPOA in Carbonite! It should be quite well protected. If it survived the freezing process, that is." This is driving me crazy. Here, I should be smiling after getting rid of my sister ( ;-)  ) and..  grrr..

I brought my dad to the airport today. He'll be in Florida for a couple weeks. By mid-November, I'll have the house to myself. At least for a while.

I'm now getting 100 spams/day. I signed up for a trial of Cloudmark's Spamnet. I threw 500 spams at it and it only missed about 10 and erroneously marked about 5 good messages as spam. The good messages -did- look a lot like spam... ie one was a sale at Dell.. that kind of stuff. Cloudmark does a much better job than my current Mcafee Spamkiller. At $4/month, it's a huge bargain. I'll start paying for it as soon as the trial expires. I don't know what I'm going to do after I stop getting spam! My spam poetry, all that free porn popping up on my screen... I'll have to start replying to -real- email instead! Yech!

I saw this teaser for an interview with Sting.. I think he was on 60 Minutes. It went something like this: "Sting is worth $300 million dollars. He lives a fabulous lifestyle, he's very happy, he's been knighted by the queen of England and done all sorts you can only dream of." Cut to Sting during the interview. He looks great. Mid-thought, he looks up, pauses and says with a slowly widening smile, "It's good to be Sting."         Damn!

TIJC wrote about computer mice in his journal recently. I responded...

>It turns out that a Microsoft Mouse really doesn't take well to having it's moving parts lightly treated with machine oil.

I've been jump-up-and-down happy with my Logitech Mouseman dual optical sensor mouse for a few years now.

It is fantastically smooth and responsive. The only surfaces it doesn't work well on are monochromatic ones. So I taped a piece of paper with a MS Streets and Trips map of my neighborhood right to my desk. Which brings me to my mouse rant: Why are mousepads smooth? That is EXACTLY the opposite of what they should be.


I've had Cloudmark for a day and I've got to say that It's really weird not getting spam anymore. I almost miss it. Almost.


Quick Update on the State of Lee

Computer guy is a real business! I made something like $400 this weekend! I'm still selling Marilyn Merlots on eBay too... I just invested another $1500 in stock and it's selling at a pace, 1-2 bottles per week. Living at home is going fine. I'd rather be completely on my own, but living here has allowed the business to happen.

I took the Technology Education test almost a month ago. Results will be in soon. Then... where do I go with jumping through hoops to get into grad school to get a job?  I was talking to a client recently (MS) about school... He's been in the Jersey City schools a lot. Those teachers make more, but I don't feel very good about getting hazard pay. We'll see.

My love life has awoken. I like it. I'm happily pursuing such affairs. PPG is great. Siobhan is terrific.

I haven't flown the plane in a while :-(. Julian has disappeared on me. I have to try and find him!

My sister is getting married on Saturday! I'll have a new brother, yow! That's weird!  but good. Weird but good. And Melissa's happy. That's even better.

My dad will be leaving for Florida right after that. That'll leave just Noni and myself in the house. Noni will be leaving for Florida next month. We're all going to the Siedlecki's for Thanksgiving... I'll be flying with Julia. She was going to fly on her own because she's a big girl now but our plans lined up well enough for us to fly together.

It's weird giving people in my journal pseudonyms. I don't know if I like it. We'll see.

Good night!



I want to increase my penis size by 2 to 5 inches in weeks

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Welcome to the New Future: Windows XP

I installed Windows XP early on Friday... and late on Friday... and early on Saturday. Here's a list of tips for installing XP and Office.



Matrix Revolutions Sucked

I caught the trailer for MR today. I am sad to realize that the Wachowski Brothers only had one Matrix movie in them.

Cyberpunk Highlander. Ugh.

Psychos in Love

A great movie. Psychos in Love is like a Keystone Cops version of The Great Train Robbery.

Matrix Redux

Ok, I saw a 45 meg Quicktime of the Matrix trailer. I'll give it that it's a pretty movie... "sumptuous visuals". But if you threw 25 million dollars at A Nightmare on Elm Street, they could make it "sumptuous"... Oh wait, they did. (Freddy Vs. Jason)

It's the plot, man! It's the plot!

This Month's Photo

Noni, Bamfa and Julia making meatballs!

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