Thursday, October 15, 2009

I had to come home to see this.

I can see many sights in Philly. The Liberty Bell, Boat House Row, the steps Rocky ran up at the art museum, Pat's and Geno's Steaks, and even the 2008 World Champion Phillies (NLCS Plug - Go Phils!), but I could only see this when I got back to my home in Ashland, KY.

Yes, that is an honest to goodness late 1990's Ford "Escort-achero" that I found less than a mile from my house. My girlfriend thought I was nuts when I saw the car and came unglued over the fact that I had found an "-Amino/-Chero conversion in the flesh. Maybe I have been too much of a fan of Jalopnik or perhaps I am a child of the 70's and 80's when the El Camino ruled my thoughts (especially the El Camino SS) and I always thought the concept of a car that had the utility of a truck was so neat.

I just wonder if this creation was brought to us by the fine folks that brought us the "El Camar-amino" that was featured on the web earlier this year. I did find this in the same county as the El Camar-amino and within 20 miles of where the Papa Johns Camaro was located.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Then Disaster Strikes!

The biggest fear of anyone who uses a computer is that of a hard drive failure. I have had a few in the last few years and a couple of them have been big. In 2005, I had to purchase a program that would recover the boot sector of my hard drive and then I could recover my data and rebuild the computer. In 2006, another failure was much more easy to recover and I was able to get back up and running with an afternoon of work. Last year, the hard drive crashed on my company laptop which is encrypted and it took several days of running SpinRite to correct the errors on the drive before it was able to be recovered. But because this laptop belonged to my employer, I was not worried due to the fact that I back up to the network regularly and it was up to the wonderful techs to recover the drive while I moved on to another laptop.

This summer, I knew the primary drive on Monster was not in the healthiest of states (no snide remarks about Pennsylvania meant in that statement either.) I had planned on not using it as the primary hard drive as I upgraded to Windows 7 and pushed the hard drive to back up status outside of the PC using my eSATA interface. I was relieved when I had installed Windows 7 and migrated the majority of information to the other drives inside of monster. I had about 90% of the information backed up and migrated when I turned on the PC the other day and discovered that the disaster had occurred and the drive was not going start because the data stored on the boot sector was damaged beyond repair or was missing. I downloaded some recovery software and it failed to recover anything. I downloaded another program and again, same results and no data. After trying about five try before you buy programs I had limited success with those with on 1 actually pulling file names but could not recover any data. The rest of the products did not get that far.

Hmmm..... What to do now? I was not in a total jam, but two of the files that I could not recover were the taxes from this past spring for my mother and me. I really wanted those files back. I am glad most everything else was backed up on a MyBook or another external drive. What next?

So, I decided to purchase SpinRite and go against all my training on recovering a damaged hard drive. The first rule is to never wite back to a drive that cannot be read by a PC because it can cause further loss of data, but considering everything else had been a loss, what did I have to lose. So I Googled SpinRite and was directed to Gibson Research and I bought a copy. I burned an ISO to a bootable CD and prayed it would work.

After running SpinRite, I was not able to see the hard drive as a mountable device, but I did have success with the one tool that worked a little. Instead of just seeing the file name, I was able to recover the directory tree and see the files. Whew! SpinRite did the trick.

Now, this is not a recommendation of SpinRite as a data recovery tool because it is not a tool to recover data. But if nothing else will work and you are not going to send the drive out to a pricey data recovery company, then trying SpinRite might just be the trick to make everything work. But, I guess you would be better off running SpinRite more often and preventing the crash from beginning ion the first place. So, I have my tax files back and I have learned a lesson. Take care of your hard drive because even if it is not on the verge of a physical failure, the data on it may be corrupted and may cause a failure down the road.

The moral of the story... Back up your data all the time and don't worry about hard drive failure.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Free Essential: ScreenHunter 5.1

I have to begin the Free Essential series with the one free program that has been the best staple that I have used for the last 4 years in my work as a consultant and business analyst. Wisdomsoft ScreenHunter has been a part of my PC's start menu since I began my second round of delivering setup and training documentation because of its many settings on window selection criteria.
As can be seen in my start menu, ScreenHunter 5.1 is on my Windows 7 system that I am using for this review. It is also installed on my work laptop (against the wishes of corporate IT), my spare desktop computer used as backup rig to my current system, my 4 year old and battle tested consulting laptop, and of course, the Intel Atom powered netbook aka Virtual PC. When launched, it takes a minimal amount of space in the memory so a computer with as little as a meg of ram runs fine without even knowing that it is in the background.

The interface when launched is quite intuitive. From the "From" menu, the single F6 hotkey works well for me, but at times I have needed to change it to a CRTL-ALT-F6 so ScreenHunter would not interfere with another application. Very rarely do I select the Full Screen option in the "Capture What" menu, but I often use the mouse pointer as a tool to point to a feature in the captured image.

Clicking the "To" Button displays another screen that allows the user to pick the type of screen capture image (gif, jpeg, and bmp), color and grayscale, and location to save the files. Just the stuff you need to get the job done.

Even the "Advanced" Button reveals a set of options in which the defaults work very well. Because I very, very rarely capture full screen, I do not use the Hide system tray icon feature although I do see a purpose for that. Although, hiding System Tray icon is not an issue in Windows 7 as the tray icon is not even present until the tray is expanded. As you can see by the image below, you have to click the expand arrow to see the hidden icons.

Once the menu is expanded, then the tray icon is visible.

So in short, that is a review of the most essential piece of free software that I use on a weekly basis. ScreenHunter 5.1 has not found paid option that works any better and I have yet to be convinced that SnagIt is a better option.

ScreenHunter can be downloaded from the WisdomSoft Website and be sure to select ScreenHunter 5.1 Free. If you have a convincing reason as to why to pay for one of the other options, please let me know and I will consider purchasing a better version, but after this many years of not being let down, I doubt if there is a feature that I need.

One side note does need to be made on ScreenHunter 5.1 for those that run more than on monitor and that is this program will only capture on the primary screen. I have tried to capture on the secondary screens on more than one occasions and quickly shifted my image to the proper screen and captured the image. With that being the only caveat, this program is an essential in my book.

New Series: My Free Essentials

When you purchase that brand new PC, it is hard to figure out what software to purchase. The aisle at Best Buy with all the programs can be nauseating at best with all the options available for anti-virus, utilities, productivity, creativity, and other software options that do not fall easily into categories. So, I have decided to come up with a list of free essentials for the PC. These are programs that have served me well for many years in addition to wonderful discoveries that I make all the time.

So why purchase a PDF creator package when one is free? Why purchase a Mac for iPhoto when a PC clone is available for free? Anti Virus? Norton and McAfee, we don't need to spend $50.00 a year with the free options available today. Need to burn a CD or DVD but don't have the cash for Nero or Roxio? There is even an option for that which covers those who don't have Windows 7.

So stay tuned for this new series. And don't think I forgot that Windows 7 is less than 3 weeks from launch. I am ready for this event and Microsoft is also ready by revving up IT professionals around the nation at kickoff events that began this past Monday. Official previews of Server 2008 R2 , Exchange 2010, and Windows 7 were shown to registered audiences across the nation. It was a good time, but the apple in the boxed snack (it was lunch so include a sandwich) was a bad idea.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Have Your Virtual PC Right Here.

So all of this confusion over XP mode in Windows 7 has really made my head spin. Do I purchase a business class notebook for thousands of dollars or do I purchase a less than personal use laptop that will run Windows 7 but not in XP mode for hundreds of dollars and possible still breaking a grand on the setup if I go for my dream machine????

I have my big desktop PCs that can run Windows 7 w/XP Mode and they work just fine. I also want a very small PC to be my laptop and break away from my need to keep a desktop replacement notebook of choice and leverage it for blogging, uploading photos on the run and surfing the web while I am not at home. So how do I accomplish that without breaking my back and the bank at the same time? Well that would be a netbook.

The quest actually began with the desire to get a 13" MacBook or a Lenovo Thinkpad X200, but those two PCs are quite expensive and the Lenovo does not even include a DVD/CD drive. So the home market PC became the avenue of choice, but HP and Dell just did not have the combination of size and power that I wanted. The HP DV2 was as close as they came, but I was very uncertain of the AMD Neo Duo chip that does support virtualized PCs, but does not have the power to run multiple applications at once. Dell had a couple of options, but they had Intel processors that were unknown to me and for the money, I wanted a piece of hardware that had a bit of a track record.

Now, truth to be told, I really thought that the 12" screen was a bit big for what I wanted in my new mobile workstation. For that matter, I thought that the 11" netbooks that are all the rage would also be a bit big for what I wanted. So I started looking at the different stores and was trying to see what was available for the money that would fit the bill and suit my needs. The Intel Atom processor at 1.6 GHz was going to be enough to do what I needed considering its power level to PCs that I have owned in the past. The Intel 945 chipset for graphics was also going to be more than adequate because this computer is going to be frozen at the XP level for backward compatibility down the road. And the 10" screens was more than large enough to handle the work that I want to do on this PC. If I need a big screen for a big spreadsheet, I have a pair of 24" monitors that can handle that work on my desktop. For my portable work, I need as small as I can get. And battery life is not a "must", but it would be nice to get more than two hours out of the life of the battery.

The answer came when I found the Acer Aspire One netbook with an 8.9" screen. I was lucky enough to get hold of a model that had a 160GB hard drive, a Gig of ram that is upgradeable, and a few other features (like multi touch track pad) that were rather desirable for a PC that was under $250.00. In fact, even with the carrying case, it was still under that price. Not too shabby considering that this is enough power to run Office 2003, MapPoint with a GPS dongle, and connect to any Bluetooth device that I have with my USB dongle. To say the least, I am quite pleased.

Now, I don't have to worry about having virtualization as a process that is activated on my CPU because I have a tiny little virtual PC in my hands. I have to admit that the tiny keys are a bit tough to hit. Also, I had to remove a bunch of shovel ware include MS Office 2007 to get the little booger to not be too sluggish. I don't mind the extra weight of the 6 cell battery, but it added nearly a half inch to the thickness of the PC. And speaking of batteries, this netbook easily runs for 3.5 hours with most of the power saving features (like dim backlight and low power WiFi) disabled. Not a bad little computer. Most of all, coupling it with my 3G internet service makes it one of the best, most portable computing solutions that I have used.

Kudos to Acer for making the Aspire One a brilliant little computer. The screen is bright and crisp and the PC is rather fast for a micro machine. I am going to enjoy using this netbook for many years to come.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

XP Mode: I Love You, I Love You, Not

One of the biggest advantages of Windows 7 is that the Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise versions come with the ability to run Microsoft's XP Mode virtualization software. So, we get the best of all worlds. The Windows 7 desktop, Vista Kernal, and the ability to run legacy enterprise software like TCF programs that require IE 6.0.

My first attempt at installing the software was a blazing success. I was able to create a 512 MB Windows XP machine that could use all of the internet connections within my primary test PC and run legacy enterprise software without any of the bugs that were present with Vista and hiccups using IE7 or IE8. Brilliant!

So, lets continue on this success and see where things go with a little less powerful PC and less robust version of Windows 7 (32 bit). Then the pain of of the upgrade began to hit home.


My first test was built around Monster PC which has an Intel Core2Quad Q6600 processor. Because this CPU was a "high end" processor in 2007 when I made the purchase, it supports virtualization. When I moved on to install on my backup box it would not work because I was running an E7200 Core2Quad CPU I purchased last summer for less than a hundred bucks which is considered an Intel entry level CPU which does not have the VT coding built into the CPU. So this means that my upgrade of SpareParts from a leftover E6400 processor (purchased in 2006 and supports VT) to the budget beater E7200 CPU (which is a Core2Quad CPU built with only 2 of the four cores present) I downgraded my CPU by upgrading in performance because of its placement in Intels CPU lineup at the time. I cannot say that I am mad, ticked, or any other means of angered, but I can imagine that IT pros are going to have a hard time trying to implement this technology in the enterprise where more times than we like to admit that budget constraints control the type of hardware that is purchased.

So where is this list of CPUs? Ed Bott did lots of research to put together a list of Intel CPUs and compatibility that can be found here. Page 2 has the desktop CPUs and Page 3 has Mobile processors.

Good luck with XP mode if you choose to make the adventure and may your CPU be compatible.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Windows 7 Rocks!

Windows 7 has to be the best Windows yet. It is much faster than Vista (despite what the experts say). The install has to be the easiest of any Windows to date. And the look and feel is just much better than Vista. In fact, I have moved my taskbar and start menu to the top of the screen to have more of an Ubuntu feel than that of thoe traditional Windows feel.

The 64bit version appears to be the best with the least amount of issues with drivers and hardware. The 32bit is also good, but lacks the perfection found in 64 bit.

Memory: Windows 7 64 bit comes to life past 4 Gig of ram. Memory is relatively cheap so stock up and enjoy the pain free love of Windows 7. As far as 32bit Windows7, I have had no problems with my 2 Gig laptop.

Processor: Dual Core, Quad Core, Core i7????? I have found that Windows 7 runs just fine on and older 1.86 GHz Pentium M Centrino with an Intel 945 Graphics chipset. It does not have Aero, but Windows 7 does not need Aero to feel good.

Screen Size: Bigger is always better, but I am doing just fine with Windows 7 on 1366X768. Yea, 1280X800 is the sweet spot and my dual 1980X1200 24" monitors rock. But this OS works just fine with smaller screens.

Compatibility and Drivers: I have not found a piece of hardware that would not work with Windows 7. Printers, scanners, sound cards, video cards, all appear to work just fine. If the hardware worked on Vista, it will work on Windows 7.

So more is to come with the testing. I need to look into XP Compatibility mode and running Office 2003 in a virtual environment. After mixing 2007 and 2003 on the same PC for the last 2 year, that mistake will not be repeated.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

How To Kill A Panther

Think clunking a Grand Marquis is the only way to kill the car. This poor car driven by a thirty year old Philadelphia lady was severely smashed when it was driven into the Philadelpha Iquirer building at 4:oo am this morning. From the looks of the carnage, she must have been going at a pretty good clip to sustain that much damage to a body on frame hulk like the Grand Marquis.

From CBS3 Philly

What a Wreck!

This is proof of the concept of lost in translation. Captured at the Woodward Dream Cruise this past weekend, this bike is proof that everything that can be done to a chopper is not necessarily the right thing to do. From the photo, the bike looks well made, but the question of why still persists.

From Autoblog

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Miles 2.0 a.k.a. MILO

I have owned Miles 2.0 now for 4 and a half months and have yet to post about the fine lad on my blog. Despite the problems that I had with the original Miles, my 2003 Mercury Grand Marquis, I had to put that aside and move up with the 2009 model when it was time to purchase a new car. I picked him up on the day before Easter and I have never been more thrilled with a car. Milo has a bit more "push" on the road than the other GrandMa on the highway, but that will be remedied with Ford HPP 21mm sway bar to be installed on the rear. Milo now has a bit more growl under the hood thanks to the addition of a P71 ziptube for the air intake. Plus, by the end of the year, it will have dual exhausts installed for a touch more high end ponies to compliment the 278lb. ft. of torque generated by the 4.6 liter V8. The car is truly a classy ride with its additional 1" height courtesy of the 17" wheels and the brakes are even bigger than the monsters that brought Miles to an easy stop from any speed. It is a model produced before mandatory stability program is required on cars so it is a bit fun to slide around the corners like any proper rear drive car. And as should be with every touring car, gas milage is a dream with a mixed city highway number around 22.5 MPG (if I drive with a soft foot.) But the neat feature is the trip computer that tells you when you are driving too hard so you can adjust you style to maximize efficiency.

Quite simply, this is the finest car I have ever owned. Hopefully, it will last as long and be as trouble free as my 1992 Jeep Cherokee a.k.a Murphy (March 14, 2002 - October 7, 2005 R.I.P.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Preparing for Windows 7

The preparations for Windows 7 continued tonight. I have a big project on the deck currently so I cannot tear into "Monster" until August 25th, but that does not mean that I cannot start prepping. I buzzed into MicroCenter in St. Davids, PA and picked up some essentials for the build. I grabbed an extra 4GB of ram bringing the total memory in the computer to 8GB and the primary hard is going to be increased from the 500GB unit purchased in December 2007 for a 1.5 TB, 7200 RPM drive with 32 MB of onboard cache. This should make Monster fast enough to handle everything in Windows 7 as compared to the struggles that I have had with 32bit Windows Vista Ultimate. The overall speed of the current configuration is not slow, but it definitely has moments of being sluggish when first booting the system and when launching media center. The widgets ate up much of the resources at startup and I have needed to disable them to make the computer usable in less than 4 minutes of starting the PC.

More inforamtion to come later on the overall build.

Almost time to throw out Vista

Out with the old and in with the new. I must say that Vista, you have stayed around a little too long and have worn out the welcome.

Microsoft's operating system that was designed to be the system to topple the OS X migration of PC users and revolutionize how we use our PCs did not turn out as planned. The OS was released late after many delays in development. The hardware manufacturers were slow to develop new drivers for the OS. Next, businesses were staging a boycott of the system because they feared incompatibilities with existing Windows based systems.

In order to convince everyone that Vista was good, MS took the phased roll out approach and offered licensing to MSDN subscribers and businesses two months ahead of the consumer release. This worked a little but still users were afraid of the OS. And properly so because most hardware was not compatible. Issues with transferring large files plagued the OS. Most newer PC and the majority of laptops were not even capable of running Vista with the Aero interface and snappier looking graphics even if they had a Vista capable stickers on them. The problems for Microsoft did not get much better even with the release of SP1 and even SP2 . The operating system is still relatively slow and sluggish to react. The release of Internet Explorer 8 also was a bit of trouble of Microsoft because it was much slower than Firefox and Chrome.

Now, the phased rollout of Windows 7 is taking place and MSDN Subscribers, MS Partners, and Enterprise users are testing the OS to see if it has what it takes. From what has been seen so far, the results look promising. Some Mac fans and Google clones are talking some misinformation, but for the most part, things are looking pretty good. In the next few weeks, I too will begin the build of a Windows 7 PC and let all know how it goes. The anxiety is pretty great for the build that will begin in about 2 and a half weeks.

Until then, it is clearing out projects until I can get things ready to start the project.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Massacre at Washinton's HQ Valley Forge

Washington's HQ
Originally uploaded by Garison C. Garison
The blog post sounds like a battle took place at the Washington HQ site at Valley Forge, but that is further than the truth. The Massacre the Washington's HQ was on the surroundings. The federal government decided to move the parking lot on top of the hill, re-route the foot traffic through the train station, and then take out the path and put in concrete sidewalks to Washington's HQ. The cute little fence seen in this photo is gone and the area has gone from historical site to "Tourist Trap" look/feel with areas for tour buses. It is a really sad site to see history reversed for the sake of tourism.

Although, I have to say I have always called Valley Forge National Park "made up history," but the use of concrete and asphalt to move the parking area really made this a sad day for me. I liked the old way of the Washington's HQ site without the guided ranger tours and the self paced way around the area.

More pictures of the old Washington's HQ can be found at:

and at

I hope to have photos of the disastrous landscaping in the next few weeks.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Remember this.... It is now true. Details at

In an attempt to lure more young parishioners, the catholic church has launched new social media applications for Facebook, the iPhone, a social Wiki, and of course YouTube. This is in addition to associated podcasts on iTunes.

George Carlin is laughing and Kevin Smith is doing an "I told you so!"
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Test Image From Flickr

Originally uploaded by Garison C. Garison
I am trying out the Flickr to Blogger connection to push photos to my blog. Of course, I grabbed one of my favorite photos from Las Vegas as my push test, but this might just be the tool that I need to make everything link the way I want without having to maintain stuff on Picasa as well.

Here goes!

(Clicking post entry)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Jalopnik Recommendation: GM Registers Bankruptcy Web Site Ahead Of Bankruptcy

From: Jalopnik has sent you a link to a post on Jalopnik:

Title: GM Registers Bankruptcy Web Site Ahead Of Bankruptcy

From: Jalopnik says: Looks like GMs toast is almost done and the ding on the toaster is 15 days away.

Hang on to your skives. This trip may leave a skid mark or two.

C. Garison From the Web @Jalopnik.Com

It is everywhere

I remember seeing a car that look like a rolling trash can many years ago in Ashland.  Well, I know these people are all over the nation, but to my shock, the Honda Odessey rolling trash can in Wayne, PA really took the cake. 

This appears to be the start of a recycling nightmare.  Most of the trash appears to be recyclable and the back of the van was filled with boxes.  Had the whole van been filled like the passenger sheet, the suspension would be trashed.

So now to find better sites to capture with my camera phone.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Mark Hallburn has become a topic of discussion around some blogs and message boards.

Well, I will not kick a man when he is down, but I sure will light the path. Here is a link to the best of the battle.

And now I see the Girl of Words is fanning the flames.

This is going to be good.

Fun Picture

I like taking pictures and now I am getting back into the swing of thing. This is one of my favorites. Glass is fun especially with lots of bokeh.

I need to try this photo in Lightroom 2.3 and see if I can make a better image. It should be pretty cool.
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Found this little item on the web. Some of these are more true. Some are less true.

As I've matured...

Author: unknown

As I've Matured...
I've learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is stalk them and hope they panic and give in.
I've learned that one good turn gets most of the blankets.
I've learned that no matter how much I care, some people are just jackasses.
I've learned that it takes years to build up trust, and it only takes suspicion, not proof, to destroy it.
I've learned that whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.
I've learned that you shouldn't compare yourself to others - they are more screwed up than you think.
I've learned that depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
I've learned that it is not what you wear; it is how you take it off.
I've learned that you can keep vomiting long after you think you're finished.
I've learned to not sweat the petty things, and not pet the sweaty things.
I've learned that ex's are like fungus, and keep coming back.
I've learned age is a very high price to pay for maturity.
I've learned that I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy it.
I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, unless we are celebrities.
I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
I've learned that 99% of the time when something isn't working in your house, one of your kids did it.
I've learned that there is a fine line between genius and insanity.
I've learned that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon and all the less important ones just never go away. And the real pains in the ass are permanent.

1 year later and just another post

I have to learn to blog more. This is silly for me.

I still take lots of photos, fuss with Vista, now have ADP Enterprise and ADPR as tools I like to complain about that are used in my day to day work, but rarely mention them on the web.

Oh! I now have my Six Sigma Black Belt, and trade my white car for an almost identical new model, but this one is - - - Black.

Now my annual post is out of the way, lets go back to my other work.