Marcusmccurdy.com

My personal website

Migrating to Octopress

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If anyone actually reads the site you may notice that it looks very different now. I haven’t updated the site in a few years and I decided that I don’t want to use Wordpress anymore. I decided to be a real hacker and switched to a static site generated with Octopress. The main reason I decided to switch is that Wordpress is laughably slow even on a site that has no traffic. Now I write my posts in vim and rsync them to my web host. My old posts were all migrated over the only thing that I lost were the comments. Hopefully no one really cares about this, but I have them all backed up just in case.

Waterfall at Gardens of the World

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IMG_3064 I took this photo at the Gardens of the World park in Thousand Oaks. The place is a small park that has examples of different types of gardens from different places in the world. This waterfall was in the Japanese garden area of the park. They also have an Italian, Spanish, and rose garden. It is free to get in and is a nice place to visit for about an hour. _Taken with a Canon XSi using a Sigma 10-20mm lens at 11mm f/13 1/8 sec iso 100. _

Path to the Ocean in Virginia Beach

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Better without the trashcan and traffic poles This photo was captured in Virginia Beach. I liked the way the wooden path leads into the frame and it would be much better without the trashcan and orange poles. I could probably shop them out with the clone tool, but I would rather be taking more pictures.

win32k.sys Blue Screen of Death and How to Fix It

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[caption id=”” align=”alignleft” width=”240” caption=”Image by taberandrew via Flickr”]Blue Screen of Death[/caption]

This morning I woke up and was greeted by a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) on my computer. For most people, this would be terrifying, but I worked for 5 years fixing problems just like this. If you do have a BSOD there are some steps you can do to find out why you are having it. These tips work if you can still access your operation system. If you can’t you would have to plug your hard drive into another computer to try and analyze the crash dump from the working system.

In my case, the BSOD showed win32k.sys as being the culprit, but sometimes all you will have is a stop error. These stop errors may look cryptic, but a Google search can turn up a wealth of information about it. This site has a big listing of stop codes http://www.aumha.org/a/stop.php. Just write down the stop code that you see on the blue screen then look it up to see what could be causing the problem. For example, STOP: 0x0000000A: IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL is usually a bad drive so that narrows down what is causing your problem. If say you install a new video card then you start getting STOP: 0x0A then that new card is a likely cause of your stop error.

Something that is a bit more advanced that you can try is called the Windows Debugger. If you look at the bottom of the BSOD you will hopefully see a line that says “Begining dump of physical memory”. You can use the windows debugger to analyze this crash dump and find out what caused your computer to blue screen.

When using the debugger the first thing you need to do is download it. For the debugger to work you also need something called symbols. The symbols are operating system specific so you need to make sure you get the XP symbols if you are using XP or the Vista symobls if you are using Vista. However, you can also have the debugger download the needed symbols automatically from microsofts online symbol server. I usually go with this method since the symobls files are nearly 300MB. Here are the instructions from microsoft on how to use the symbol server:

To use the Microsoft Symbol Server

Make sure you have installed the latest version of Debugging Tools for Windows.

Start a debugging session.

Decide where to store the downloaded symbols (the “downstream store”). This can be a local drive or a UNC path.

Set the debugger symbol path as follows, substituting your downstream store path for DownstreamStore.

SRVDownstreamStorehttp://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols

For example, to download symbols to c:\websymbols, you would add the following to your symbol path: SRVc:\websymbolshttp://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols

To use the Microsoft Symbol Server

Make sure you have installed the latest version of Debugging Tools for Windows.

Start a debugging session.

Decide where to store the downloaded symbols (the “downstream store”). This can be a local drive or a UNC path.

Set the debugger symbol path as follows, substituting your downstream store path for DownstreamStore.

SRVDownstreamStorehttp://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols

For example, to download symbols to c:\websymbols, you would add the following to your symbol path: SRVc:\websymbolshttp://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols

Now, if you have you debugging tools installed and your symbols all setup you need to actually analyze the crash dump. The debugging tools install in the start menu under all programs >> debugging tools for windows >> windbg.  To open the crash dump you can either click file >> open crash dump, or press CTRL + D to hotkey it. By default, the crash dump file is located at C:\windows\MEMORY.DMP. Here is a sample of what I got on my crash dump.

Now !analyze -v

After you load the crash dump the debugger will take a few moments to read the file then you should see something that says type !analyze to analyze your crash dump. This is where you will hopefully find out what is causing the problem. In my case, the debugger found this

PROCESS_NAME:  LCDMedia.exe

to be the process that caused my problem. This process is for my logitech G15 keyboard software so I uninstalled it. If you don’t recognize the process you can do a google search to find what it is or search your computer for the process name and see what you find. Be careful though and don’t just delete the process because this could cause more problems.

Any questions?

That is about it if you have any questions please post a comment and I’ll try and answerr it.

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Dropbox Is Awesome

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[caption id=”” align=”alignleft” width=”196” caption=”Headshot”]Headshot[/caption]

Over the weekend I went paintballing for a friends bachelor party and we all wanted to share our pictures with each other. There is a cool service called Dropbox that let us do just that. Dropbox lets you share files between multiple computers very easily. Dropbox installs a small program that handles the syncing and adds a My Dropbox folder to your computer. Any files you put in the My Dropbox folder are synchronized between all the computers you have Dropbox installed on. Dropbox also allows for collaboration of folders and thats how we used it. Those of us who took pictures put their photos into a shared folder then added all the participants as collaborators so we could all have a central place to put our photos. It worked out really well. You also have a public folder so if you want to share a file that is too big for email with a friend just drop it in the public folder then right click on it and there is an option to get a public link to the file. Email the link to the friend and they can download it from your Dropbox.  Dropbox gives you 2GB of storage for free, but you can upgrade to 50GB of storage for $9.99 a month or $90 dollars a year. Dropbox also keeps track of revisions so if you are working on a school project and a critical portion is accidentally deleted you can revert back to a previous version and save yourself from a thermo nuclear meltdown. I highly reccomend checking out Dropbox if you user more than one computer and even if you don’t it is a good place to put critical files that you don’t want to lose.

Flower in the Parking Lot of Del Taco

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Flower I was in the drive through at Del Taco yesterday evening and they were tons of great flowers near the drive in. So, after I got my food I parked and took some shots that turned out pretty good. The sun was starting to descend so the light was pretty good for taking some photos.

The Mailbox

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The Mailbox This is an HDR photo of the mailbox outside of my house. I captured this shot at dusk and it came out pretty well. I’m not sure what that blue spot is in below the mailbox on the curb. I think I was getting some lens flare from the lights. If you haven’t heard of HDR before you can check out probably the most popular HDR creator here http://www.stuckincustoms.com/.

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Facebook Connect

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[caption id=”” align=”alignleft” width=”202” caption=”Image via Wikipedia”]Facebook, Inc.[/caption]

In order to reduce the amount of spam the site gets it is now neccessary to login to the site before you can post a comment. There are two ways you can login to the site. The first way is by creating an account on the site. The second way is by logging in with your Facebook account through a new service called Facebook connect. The Facebook connect login is easier because you don’t have to create a seperate login just for my lowly site and it also has the added benefit of attaching your Facebook profile picture to your comments, which I think is pretty cool. You can read more about Facebook connect here. I enabled this capability earlier today, but unfortunately it wasn’t working in IE until a few momements ago so sorry to Moose who had to create a seperate account.

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Red Flower

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[caption id=”” align=”alignnone” width=”500” caption=”Red flower with verdant background”]Red flower with a verdant background[/caption]

I took this picture around the block from my house when I was on a walk with my two dogs. I’m not sure what kind of red flower this is, but I liked how the red of the flower went with the green of the bushes. I decided to take my camera with me pretty much everywhere I go because everytime I don’t have it I see something I want to take a shot of then regret not having it with me. It is kind of hard to get a clean shot with my dogs sniffing around everywhere though, but hopefully they will learn to hold still.

Power Plant on the Beach

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Power Plant I took this photo of the power plant during a run at the beach. The power plant has an outlet for water that creates an artificial river that drains into the ocean that is pretty crazy to see. The river is about 20 feet wide and is moving at a pretty good rate. I got lucky and the plant started piping out some steam while I was nearby.

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