Back in September of 2005, about one month into my then new gig blogging for the Houston Chronicle, I published my answer to what I thought was a fairly unique problem with limited relevance to the general computing community.

Someone had contacted me with a problem. It seems that their computer display had turned sideways and wanted to know how to fix it. I figured out the problem and fixed it for them and decided to use it in the Helpline Blog under the title My screen is sideways.

Back in May of 2006 I marvelled at how many comments the post had received from people seeking an answer to the very same problem and thought to myself that 28 was a fairly staggering number.

Over the last few years the comments kept coming in and looking at it now there are 393 thank you comments on that post. 393 people who have managed to shift their display 90 degrees to the vertical, some not knowing how or why it happened while others readily blame the errant child or the curious climbing feline.

This has been the most response I have seen to anything I have blogged, ever. And I would have thought that was that and chalked it up to a happy anomaly or serendipity until I posted an answer to a flash.ocx problem simply called Flash.ocx error in February 2007. In just a little over one year that post has garnered 334 responses, all thank you notes from people who were seeking a solution to the same problem.

That’s 49 shy of my personal record and it won’t be long before Flash.ocx error surpasses My screen is sideways unless there’s a disproportionate shift in the number of babies and cats using keyboards relative the those who like to install second-rate, problematic screen savers.

It’s just mind boggling to think of all those sideways screen using, flash erroring people finding their solution in my tiny little database.

Of course, as Dwight points out, there’s computer support and then there’s this:


In our downtime we’ve been checking out Spanish TV.
The only option in English is a European version of CNN which covers a LOT of information about the global market (yawn) …

There’s one station that has taken very odd American shows and dubbed them into German … ???

Cynthia’s currently hooked on a TeleMadrid show called Metro a Metro, a game show that uses the Madrid Metro as the the playing board and the contestants advance by answering questions about the City.

Cynthia shouts out answers in Spanish and has been getting some of them correct, including one about the Metro itself.

It’s rather surreal…

TV Time

Got a call from Jeff Ehling over at the local ABC affiliate (Channel 13). He was putting together a story to tie in to the recent FBI press release regarding botnet cyber crime and needed a geek talking head.

Lord knows there’s no talking head geekier than yours truly and despite my fear of being in front of the camera, I agreed to do it. I try not to pass up any opportunity to promote the radio show. Plus I think I must secretly enjoy being scared out of my wits.

Much like the previous times, it went smoothly enough and I was not horrified with the results. Jeff did a great job on the story and used sound bites from me in the piece that worked well and I was very pleased to hear him use talking points that came from our more candid off camera conversation.

You can see the news story video here.

Good Morning Houston

So the interview on ABC 13 went well, I think. 2 minutes and 27 seconds was the total time. You can view it on Jeff Ehling’s blog by clicking here.

I enjoyed the experience. The staff that makes up the Sunday morning crew made me feel welcome and at ease. Elissa Rivas conducted the actual interview and she made it very pleasant.

When the interview was over Mark Garay (who, by the way, was wearing tennis shoes behind the anchor desk) asked me to stop by and speak with Carmin the producer on my way out. I figured they must want me to sign something or I don’t know what, but I stopped by. No paperwork, oh no. Carmin was having a computer problem and they wanted my assistance.

Turns out that Carmin’s workstation was having a problem with the time change. This was the computer she was using to manage the current on air program with all the various time blocks, story segments, commercial breaks and so forth and every couple of minutes it was reverting back to pre-DST time after she would manually set it to the correct time.

My guess expert opionon was that it must be synching to an NTP server and also not have the current software update to allow it to sort out the time change.

How ironic. Here we are making light of the Y2K7 problem and how it’s no big deal and the very show hosting the interview is in danger of collapsing in a Microsoft-induced DST wormhole.

There’s no way to patch the machine what with it being used to mange a live program. It would have to wait till after the show and wait for one of the ABC IT staff as I was on my way out the door.

It was a great fun and I hope to do more work with ABC in the future.

Video called the radio star

Speaking of Y2K7, I will be in ABC Channel 13 this Sunday morning at around 9:00am. If you remember to spring forward and are awake at that hour be sure and tune in. They’re using me (again) as a “technology expert” talking head. This time for a piece they’re doing on the Y2K7 issue.

You know when I said being on camera terrifies me? Being on live television is about a million time more disconcerting. Hopefully they’ll have the AC turned up and I won’t be covered in flop sweat.

I did get a trim on the old chinfro (beard) so as to look my best.

Y2K7 (The sky is falling)*

What with the upcoming time change for those of us who server under the yoke of Daylight Savings Time, this weekend is going to be interesting. As you are probably aware, we are getting to celebrate early this year thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

We’re having bit of a mini Y2K event. This time it’s called Y2K7. Much like Y2K I expect it to be a big hullabaloo about a whole lot of nuthin’, at least for most of us. I know plenty of system administrators and application developers who have been burning the midnight oil making sure all systems are fully patched and prepared for the early time change.

There are some things you might want to look at technology-wise to be prepared as a computer/technology user.

I wrote a primer for my show web site. It’s called Daylight Savings Time (DST) – Preparing for Y2K7.

I’ve included some useful links for upgrading anything from XP to Apple OS X as well as Blackberry, Palm and Windows Mobile devices. Pass the link along to anyone you think might need it.



Reminded once again that I have a face for radio

I got an e-mail from my friend over at ABC13.COM. He wanted to know if I was available to be interviewed by Jeff Ehling who’s the consumer reporter for the local ABC affiliate here in Houston. They were doing a piece on the proper way to delete data and dispose of old computers.

Unlike certain “experts”, I don’t make a lot of television appearances. I love doing radio, but when it comes to putting my face in the spotlight I get a very nervous. Still, I am always looking to promote what I do in my capacity as producer and host of Technology Bytes so I agreed.

Jeff did a great job of putting me at ease and asked some very good questions which I was able to answer without much hesitation.

Judging by the smiles I must have been cracking some jokes to ease my tension. I’m like a deer in the headlights when there’s a video camera aimed at me.

Watching a TV reporter has always been fascinating to me. Live interactive radio is what I am good at. Producing canned pieces for later airplay is not one of my strengths. Here you see Jeff doing a teaser piece to promote the story. It’s that thing they play before the commercial break to keep you from changing the channel.

Jay Lee in HD. Looks like I made a good choice wearing the blue shirt and my new glasses look great.

The beard could sure use a trim, though.

Fair and Balanced

Got an e-mail last night from Ned Hibbard over at the local Fox affiliate. They were doing a piece on the discovery of the Quicktime vulnerability that’s getting a little “buzz” as we kick of the Month of Apple Bugs.

He wanted to know if he could send a camera guy over to the radio station during my show. The idea was to record us on air in hopes of getting a sound bite to use in a story they were putting together for the evening news about the vulnerability.

Not being one who turns down a chance for free publicity, I agreed.

They did end up using several seconds of video they shot. It wasn’t an Emmy award winning performance by any means. Still, it’s good promo for the show. Especially since they got the name of the show right, unlike the previous story I did for the NBC affiliate last August.

A three hour tour

This should be interesting.

My department, as part of our ongoing team building efforts, is going bay fishing today.
That’s right, a group of nerds consisting of hardware techs and software developers are going out on a boat for a few hours to catch some fish.

Cynthia suggests that this might be a ploy by the HR department to thin out the IT department.

If you don’t hear from me please send a search party.

I guess if something were to happen like say, getting stranded on a deserted island, I would prefer this:

rather than this:

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times

When I got the call from Phil Archer and Channel 2 I was reluctant to be interviewed on such short notice. I was not feeling my prettiest yesterday and, believe it or not, I suffer from HUGE stage fright. I hide it well but you can see it in the beads of sweat that form on my head. I tried to duck out but he was very persistent. I was explaining to him that I didn’t feel camera ready and he asked me “Do you have any open wounds?” to which I replied “Well, no, not right now.” He said “Then we’re good to go!”

I gave him directions to the office and he and his cameraman were there in 15 minutes.

These guys are pros and they do put a person at ease when they are doing the interview so I relaxed very quickly.

As it turns out, I was able to get home in time for the broadcast so I could cringe in horror as appropriate. Turns out I looked fine and the sound bite was perfect. It could not have been a better on screen appearance….well, except for one tiny detail.

The name of the radio show is Technology Bytes, not Reality Bytes.

Yes, Technology Bytes and Reality Bites both strive to be funny.
We both were created in Houston, TX.

But from there the differences become more and more glaring.

Reality Bites was created in 1994
Technology Bytes was created in 1995

Reality Bites is a comedy about love in the ’90s
Technology Bytes is a comedy about computing with equipment from the 90’s

Reality Bites features a mediocre cast of washed up near nobodies
Technology Bytes features a … wait … this is not a difference.

For sure they have more women in the movie than we do on our show, but I bet Jennifer the Intern was never arrested for shoplifting.

Ah well, you know what they say about publicity.

Who you gonna call?

In this town I am one of the “go to” geeks. On occasion, when one of the network affiliates needs an “expert”, they turn to Houston’s Best Tech Geek for a sound bite or two.

This time it’s Phil Archer from NBC’s Channel 2 doing a story about the proposed changes with Time Warner Cable. Apparently they’re moving to Dallas and Comcast is coming here.

Phil wanted to discuss what Houston’s Internet users might expect during this transition.

It airs tonight at 5:00 pm. It should be good for a laugh.

As I always say, I have a face for radio.

Deadliest catch

We all have our guilty pleasures. Mine is coming home on a Wednesday night after the radio show and watching the DVR capture of Lost. Well, it was until the season ended. I bide my time now with Commander in Chief until my precious is returned to me, after the summer comes to a close. Yessssssssssssssss….

Cynthia is not much of a TV watcher and does not share my interest in these shows. That being said, she has her own serial vice in the form of The Deadliest Catch.

The Deadliest Catch is a television series / documentary that chronicles the events on-board six fishing ships in the Bering Sea during the Alaskan king crab and Opilio crab fishing seasons.

The show’s name is not derived from some type of fierce man-eating crabs as one might imagine (or hope), rather it is in reference to the very real possibility of meeting an untimely and frozen death while crewing one of these god-forsaken vessels. Death that may come in the form of a rogue wave or an errant piece of ice-laden gear crashing down on your head.

Personally, I find the program difficult to watch. It’s quite stark and doesn’t pull any punches. You will be watching and *snap* that guy’s leg is broken or *splash* he’s overboard and has seconds to live….oh, he didn’t make it. Really rather gruesome and yet, Cynthia loves it.

She cannot seem to get enough of the show and I asked her why she liked it so much. She told me, quite plainly, that when she watches those guys go through what they do to make a living it makes her job seem a little bit easier to deal with.

Can’t argue with logic like that. It’s all about perspective.