Sunday, 20 May 2007

RunAs Radio Show Number Six is now online. I'm a few days late in posting this, but Wes Miller (who worked in the past at Winternals and Microsoft) sat down with Richard and me to talk about the future, benefits and issues around 64-bit Windows in the Server and Vista flavors.

RunAs Radio Show #6 | 5/16/2007 (34 minutes)
Wes Miller on our 64-bit Future

In late 2004, Wes left Microsoft to work for Winternals Software (which was then acquired by Microsoft in 2006), in Austin, Texas, where he currently resides. Wes currently works at Pluck ( in Austin as a Development Manager. His area of Windows focus is generally enterprise deployment, lifecycle management and security.

Links: RunAs Radio web site and RSS feed

We welcome your input and ideas - Just email and let us know what's on your mind! We might even read your email on the air, and we are always interested to know what you would like to hear about as we book our guests.

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Sunday, 20 May 2007 09:27:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I was having dinner the other night with a bunch of people from work, including Scott Hanselman. As is overly-typical during an American dinner "out" in the early 2000's, the subject of TiVo and other PVRs came up. As time has gone on over the past few years, it's become more and more difficult (especially as other PVRs have also become commonplace) to be on the side of the conversation where you're in the small group of people who don't have a PVR already. I got my first TiVo when they first came out. I hacked it and turned it into a 240GB powerhouse. I was an early adopter, but apparently I am not exactly a power user.

Scott (this story is really about him) did the thing Alpha Geeks do at dinner when someone mentioned they don't have TiVo. He said:

 "WHAT?!?! Are you kidding??"

Seems life cannot be lived with out it, hehe...

Then he showed his true Alphaness when he said:

"Sometimes I put on closed captioning and I watch it double speed."

Doing this, he explained, allows him to get a lot more TV watching done than simply watching it in real-time-shifted-time (or is it real-shifted-time?). And he continued the thought:

"If you put in a DVD you can watch it 4x. I watched Oldboy like that," he said. "And if someone got their head cut off you could just go back and watch It in real time." Yeah, or slow motion I guess.

"Huh?" I asked him. "Old wha?"

"Oldboy," he repeated. "It's like the Korean Pulp Fiction."

Leave it up to Scott to come up with this. Personally, I tend to like the music and the dialog and taking the time to enjoy the whole movie package. Dunno about Oldboy since I have not seen it, but now I will have to - I guess I'll find out if it's better in 4x...

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Sunday, 20 May 2007 08:08:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Snoring and sleeping are two things that fall on a very short list of items that one cannot observe about oneself. Because of that, there's a strong tendency toward denial. It's a natural human tendency.

As I mentioned the other day, on Thursday night I went to a local sleep lab and spent the night there hooked up to a bunch of wires and stuff to find out what might be going on with me. I've been waking up tired for some time, feeling like I am getting little rest, etc. You can read more about that in the original post.

Anyhow, as you can sort of see in the bad-angle and bad-hair picture there on the right, I got a zillion wires, sensors and bands stuck to me (which it turns out was not as bad as people thought it would be) and fell asleep after spending the evening watching some TV and taking a Lunesta provided by the physician.

I remember waking up a few times throughout the night, which is pretty typical of me. Once the technician (who was very cool, by the way) had to come in and re-attach an airflow sensor that worked its way loose from my face, but overall I figured I slept as well as I do normally, or maybe even a little better than normal. I'll chalk that up to the pill.

The way the study worked was if you exhibit severe apnea within the first few hours they hook you up to a CPAP machine for the rest of the night. That didn't quite happen with me, so I was not woken up for that change of equipment. So in the morning I did the typical rationalization things and figured I was in the clear, no problems, must just be my head or something.

But when the doc came in the next morning (It's a great arrangement by the way - You fall asleep and the doctor shows up first thing so you don't have to come back for another office appointment), he showed me the data printouts and graphs from the night. Turns out I am waking up about 60 times an hour due to breathing problems - Apnea to be specific. People tend to be surprised by the facts since they can't observe it themselves, so when you can see your own stats and see that, hey look - I stopped breathing completely there for like 5 or 10 seconds and then make a loud snore and took a huge gasping set of breaths... My blood oxygen level dropped to like 80% in many cases. Well, let's just say the evidence speaks for itself.

I actually remembered waking up maybe 4 times or so because that's how many times I was awake long enough to form a memory and to become fully lucid, the doc explained. The other several hundred times were enough to be awake but not long enough to remember.

According to the doc I have at least moderate sleep apnea. Because I shifted off my back to sleep my side for most of the night, the apnea signs were probably not as bad as they would have been otherwise (it tends to be worse if you are positioned on your back, and during the time I was on my back the data shows it was in fact worse).

Apnea is simply the closing of your airway while you breathe during sleep. When you sleep your body relaxes, and that includes the muscles that shape the upper part of your airway (the part above the Adams apple is flexible, the rest is rigid). If the airway closes you get no air. If you get no air the brain is not happy. If the brain is not happy it wakes you up to move the muscles needed in order to open the airway. If this happens often enough, you never get long enough sleep to enter that REM phase, or deep sleep, which is needed to get "real" rest, or restorative sleep. And if that happens you have to deal with the problems of sleep deprivation. As mentioned earlier, you don't wake up long enough to remember anything, so it's hard to know when this is happening unless someone else sees it and knows what to look (and listen) for.

My doc said to think of the collapsing airway as being similar to the effect of trying to suck a milkshake through a straw: The straw collapses from the negative pressure and nothing can get through. The same is true for the throat for many people. That's really what snoring is - a collapsing or blocked airway.

So, long story short (too late), I will be going back to the sleep study place in a couple weeks for one more night, during which they'll hook me up to a CPAP machine. That stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It's a thing you wear on your face to blow some air into your airway to maintain enough positive pressure there to keep the airway open. I have spoken over the past few days will a surprisingly large number of people (some of whom commented here) who tell me they use a CPAP machine when they sleep and it's changed their lives. Well, worth a try then I guess. I have to admit I am not thrilled about the idea of wearing a mask when I sleep (it seems to me to be such a tied-down option) but I will try it if it might help. You never know.

More in a couple weeks, after the next phase of this whole deal is complete. Meanwhile if you ever need to do the sleep study thing, Oregon Sleep Associates is a good group of professional people and the sleep center is nice - not at all hospital like and easy to relax in. My doc's name is Scott Fromherz, MD and he's great at explaining things and answering questions. Definitely recommended if you find yourself needing a place to fulfill the need.

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Sunday, 20 May 2007 07:44:12 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 17 May 2007

I snore. A lot. Or so I'm told, quite frequently. Years ago I used to go to the movies with my son and drift off to sleep in the theater, just to wake up to him laughing, usually along with the neighboring moviegoers, because I had started snoring and snorting myself awake.

Fast forward about eight years and I'm still snoring, still tired most of the time, and still being told by anyone who observes me sleeping that I snore. I have to believe them, I guess - I can't imagine there's some vast snoring accusation conspiracy that everyone I know has waged against me for that many years.

Recently I have even woke up suddenly catching my breath at the end of a loud snore. Ahh, proof. I often wake up tired and feeling heavy. I get morning headaches. Something's crappy feeling about all that. So I went to see a sleep specialist doctor after a couple people (my mom and someone I work with) both told me they found out they had a sleep apnea problem and got help via a sleep doc and study.

So here I am, sitting on a bed in the Oregon Sleep Associates sleep center in downtown Portland. They have five private rooms here and it's not like a hospital though. It's more like a hotel room. There's a TV and DVD player and the main unusual stuff is the video camera on the wall and all the boxes and wires and stuff over on one of the nightstands. In a few minutes someone will come in to "hook me up," meaning they'll be sticking EEG and EKG stuff to me, a microphone to record sleeping and breathing sounds, strap around my chest to measure breathing, and other stuff. Then they'll give me one of those Lunestas or something similar, and off to sleep I will go.

Tomorrow morning I will know more. If there's something related to my snoring or other sleep problems that are related to the physical symptoms I have, at least there will be options to maybe do something about it. If not, well then I will know it's time to find more ways to reduce stress I guess. Heh.

Have you ever done the sleep study thing? How did it go for you? I'll write more about my experiences once it's all said and done.

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Thursday, 17 May 2007 20:32:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 15 May 2007

The State of Washington just passed a law last week that makes it illegal to text while driving. Ummm, duh? Too bad we need a law for this, but I guess we do...

From the Seattle PI:

"Under the new laws, drivers who read and compose text messages or talk on a cell phone without a hands-free device could face a $101 ticket. The text-messaging ban takes effect Jan. 1; the cell-phone law will be enforced starting in July 2008.

"Drivers are exempt in some situations, including emergencies, and neither offense will be enough to get a driver pulled over by the police."

Where do they come up with fine amounts like $101, I wonder?

I have to admit, I have been guilty in the past of texting while driving and it's a BAD thing to do. Especially since I have a Blackberry. What the heck was I thinking? I know lots of people who text behind the wheel, really - and it's just not a good idea. I guess we could call it driving under the influence of Crackberry.

At any rate, some things just make sense and I guess I agree with this one. I'm not big on generating lots of laws, but where the end result is that innocent people are protected from ignorant dolts, it's probably worthwhile.

But - it's too bad police cannot pull you over just for texting. You have to be in an accident or exhibit some other violation it seems. Isn't that like waiting to chase the Lion through the zoo as he eats bystanders, when you saw the cage door was open half an hour ago?

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Tuesday, 15 May 2007 07:18:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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A friend of mine just yesterday told me a little story about his experience last week getting a product repaired. It was an interesting conversation, and it made me think a bit about why businesses make the decisions they do and what the impact really is.

Before I tell you his story, let me first share my analogy. Say you run a software company, and that you ship software to your customers on a CD or DVD. One of your customers calls up and says that their CD worked great until last week, and that all of a sudden it stopped working. Okay, you tell your customer - Please take your CD to an IT pro and have them look at it and call me. Maybe we can see if it's defective.

Your customer dutifully does so, and lo and behold, you find out the disc has scratches in it that make it unusable. Now, the software on the CD cost your customer a pretty penny, say $40,000 or something, so it's  a big deal to them.

You think about it for a while and then you send instructions back to the IT professional: Please ship us the CD so we can perform a repair on the disc here at our location using a CD/DVD repair system with some fancy goop and special polish. Please courier it to arrive overnight, before 10:30 am, so we can get it in our process tomorrow and ensure we can courier it back out sometime the following day. We will not charge you for the time required to fill the scratches and replace the label (since it will also be damaged by the repair process). We will then ship the rebuilt CD to you overnight, and we will insure it for $60,000, which we figure is the approximate value of the software plus the value of completing the repair.

Ridiculous (and that was probably a loose-fitting analogy, I know). My friend's ordeal wasn't software - it was a transmission. His wife's car had a transmission go out on it, just out of warranty. Saturn, to their well-deserved credit, fixed the problem anyhow without charging since they determined something was wrong that simply should not happen. But rather than replace the tranny, they rebuilt the entire thing, with a stipulation that they use all brand new parts.

Now, I know as well as anyone that buying a transmission one part at a time, plus the hourly labor to break down and assemble it, is freakin' expensive. My friend and I both sat there and wondered why they didn't just put a whole new transmission on the car.

So, the customer is happy. But the automaker - it seems to me - is assuming a greater expense than necessary. In a world where automakers can't seem to stay afloat (well, or at least they can't seem to turn a profit), wouldn't it make sense to do right by the customer, but in a way that maximizes the cost of doing so?

Anyhow - maybe I am missing something. If I am, let me know.

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Tuesday, 15 May 2007 06:53:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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