January 2009 Archives

Vault of Archavon

Since tonight's Naxxramas raid was a continuation of last night's run, I didn't roll on anything and we had enough people there that there was little that ended up disenchanted. Since the run went well, and we had plenty of high levels on, we made a quick run at a 10-man instance of the Vault of Archavon. This lead to me picking up a pair of Hateful Gladiator's Dreadplate Legguards, before picking up my final item in a 25-man Heroic instance of the Vault of Archavon: the Valorous Scourgeborne Chestguard.
Hatefulgladiatorsdreadplatelegguards valorousscourgebornechestguard


The first time I went to Naxxramas for a 25-man Heroic Raid, we wiped several times on the first boss before calling it a night. For whatever reason, we simply could not get it together. A few weeks went by before I had time to raid again, and last Tuesday, I re-entered Naxxramas with my guildmates as part of a 10-man raid. As a newcomer to the dungeon, many of the loot drops defaulted to me, and before the night was through, I ended up ditching much of my old equipment.

The first drop of the night were these boots:

More in the extended...

Rabbit Hole Day

Rabbit Hole Day was started in January 27, 2005, as a celebration of Lewis Carroll's Birthday, and named after the passage in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland . While it started off as a LiveJournal meme, it quickly spread to bloggers as well. The basic idea is to post for the day in a style different from the usual.

The next time you go to the range...


FSJ appears on CBNC

'Fake Steve Jobs', Daniel Lyons blasts CNBC for questionable journalistic practices:

A few weeks ago, the gadget blog Gizmodo reported as rumor that Jobs' health was "declining rapidly", and he would not be giving the traditional Macworld Expo keynote. Goldman, a reporter for CNBC quickly shot down the rumor, citing sources.

A few days later, Jobs sent a note in which he explained his problem with a "hormone imbalance," implying that it was the reason he stepped down from the Macworld appearance. Goldman had been wrong. Then, on Wednesday, Jobs announced that he was taking the aforementioned leave of absence and that Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook would handle management in the interim.

"You can try to backpedal and say that what you reported was true," Lyons said to Goldman on CNBC, adding that the broadcast journalist had been "played" and "punked" by his sources at Apple, "but look, you should apologize to Gizmodo for having criticized them and apologize to your viewers for having gotten it so wrong."

This is actually one of my big pet peeves about traditional media reporting; there's definitely a lack of follow-up and scrutiny in reporting; when a news story gets it wrong, the corrections (especially in television) just aren't made, and the damage caused by the mishandling of a story without getting all the facts can cause some real damage.

Unboxing: Canon 5D Mark II

I will sometimes refer to Macworld Expo as second Xmas -- for many years, it has been tough not to come home from Macworld with a new tech toy. In 2005, I came home with an iPod Shuffle; in 2006, I came home and ordered a MacBook Pro. In 2007, I saw the iPhone, and held off buying a new cellphone until I bought an iPhone in September. In 2008, I resisted the temptation to buy MacBook Air (probably because I had bought a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM only a few weeks prior. Since this year Apple's announcements were relatively unexciting (come on, Apple, where's my Core i7 MacPro and LED 30" Cinema Displays?), I instead dropped $2699 on my current object of lust, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II.

When the Canon EOS 5D Mark II was announced, I wasn't sure if I wanted one, but after seeing the excellent low light performance in the prototype Vincent LaForet used , and that the latest firmware fix solved the early models' problems, I jumped headfirst into ordering one.

One of the things I've noticed lately is that shipping boxes are very random; in this case, the box they shipped the camera could probably fit two or three of the very same camera...


The actual box is about the same size as the previous generation 5D and contains 2 CDs of software and drivers, a pair of manuals, a camera strap, cables for USB and RCA, battery, charger and camera strap.


When I first pulled it out of the box, the body seemed larger, but in truth the old and new 5Ds are pretty similar in size. The Mark II can be distinguished by additional buttons and a microphone on the back of the camera, as well as a larger LCD screen. The shape of the head of the Mark II is also slightly different, and the flash mount is not as recessed as the original.


One of the buttons that I bemoaned the existence of was the DirectPrint button on the back of the 5D; there are infinitesimal chances that I would ever use the button, so it might as well not be there. On the Mark II, the button is still there, but it serves a dual-purpose: to switch the camera into Live View Mode, which is necessary for taking video. (video is not viewable from the viewfinder, which may take some getting used to).

Flickr: Canon 5D Mark II Unboxing

The Methuselah of G4 Titanium Powerbooks


I've had my Titanium G4 Powerbook since June of 2002, and despite it being a bit sluggish at times, this six and half year old computer is still very usable, though these days, it mainly acts as a portable internet terminal; it can even play World of Warcraft (at a really crappy framerate, but it works). In 2005, the left hinge began to shatter, and last month disintegrated further such that it could no longer hold up the screen.

It was at this point of breakage that I decided that something needed to be done. I called the local Mac Repair shop to see if they had the part in stock; they wanted $100 for the part, and $90 oer hour in labor to repair the laptop -- I ended up ordering the part from eBay for $10 (including shipping) and spending 3 hours of my evening taking apart and restoring the laptop.


I'd say it's good for another 6 years...

SwingSeat Back Support Ergonomic Chairs

At MacWorld, one of the more interesting products I saw was actually just an office chair; in my home office, I have a $50 executive chair from OfficeMax, which provides me something to rest my butt on while I'm using the computer, but it's far from an ideal chair in so many ways. The SwingSeat has got to be the most comfortable office chairs I've ever used in my life; much of this is due to the number of adjustments possible on this chair -- the seat and back are independent of each other, providing a full range of motion.

The Art of Coraline

The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco will be showing original works of art from the movie based off of Neil Gaiman's Coraline.

The exhibition includes over 80 pieces of drawings, storyboards, puppets, sets, and costumes from the stop-motion animated film.

January 24, 2009 - February 15, 2009

Cartoon Art Museum
655 Mission St
San Francisco CA 94105
11 am - 5 pm

Restoring Movable Type From Backup

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As you might notice, all the entries from the old blog have successfully made the transition onto this new installation of Movable Type. It was not without a lot of time and effort, mostly spent reattempting uploads as well as fixing errors; the last blog_id assigned was 57, and that was after I had deleted a Movable Type installation which had worked its way up to 15. To say that I made a lot of attempts to restore the database is quite the understatement. (my hosting provider shows that in the course of 3 days, I've transfered several hundred megabytes of data).

You'd think after 5 or 6 years of using Movable Type, I'd at least have a pretty easy time backing it up and restoring it on another server. While it's definitely gotten better from the old days, Movable Type could still use some improvement in the Backup/Restore area.

First of all, the import and export functions in Movable Type don't work. Don't even waste your time trying. The problem I kept having was that the export was only a partial export -- while my blog had nearly 2800 entries, the export was only taking in the first 1600 of those entries, leaving the rest unexported. To make things worse, the import doesn't really work. It'll read the file, tell you that it's successful, but it won't actually create the entries. I even used Movable Type's Import/Export Format along with their instructions on how to export, as well as attempting a customized export. None of these yielded any results.

Since Import/Export didn't work, I decided to try the other way of reading entries into the blog, via the Backup/Restore functions of Movable Type. The documentation for Backing Up and Restoring is woefully incomplete, as it describes how to back up, but not to restore, which is a somewhat more complicated process.

To Restore from Backup, you will need to be in the 'System' Tools Menu. (Restore is not available on the 'Blog' Tools Menu). You will see a box for the backup file. If you click on Browse, you can select your backup manifest file. If you have multiple files and try to restore from the xml files directly, you will get error messages. After it reads the manifest file, it will start to ask for the Movable_Type-Year-Month-Date-Hour-Min-Second-Backup-Number.xml. When you initially did your backup, Movable Type asked whether you wanted the files segmented. I recommend sizes of 1 megabyte or less -- while the option for 2 megabytes is certainly available, most servers/and or browsers will time out before the 2MB file is transfered, and you'll have to start all over again.

One of the early problems that I had restoring the blog from the backup was this puzzling error message:

    Uploaded file was backed up from Movable Type but the different schema version () from the one in this system (4.0067). It is not safe to restore the file to this version of Movable Type.
In the interest of saving someone else hours of time in trying to figure this error out, the answer to this is because the XML file created by Movable Type's Backup function doesn't account for the fact that the file is broken up into pieces. For instance, in my case, my blog was broken up into ten 1-megabyte XML files, and only the first file had a full XML header which contained the schema information. Simply copy the first line of the first .xml file and replace the default line with

Save the file in utf-8 format which is the default format that Movable Type generates for the backup file.

As the backup is restored on Movable Type, you should occasionally see that MT:Entry records are being transferred over.and restored. If you saved the xml files as utf-8 character set, there shouldn't be any problem here -- however, if you're using a character set like latin1-swedish_ci, you may end up with errors such as this:

    Illegal mix of collations (latin1_swedish_ci,IMPLICIT) and (utf8_general_ci,COERCIBLE) or some kind of perl error.
To resolve this error, make sure the file is saved in utf8 character set.By default notepad and wordpad save in ANSI -- ANSI is not correct and will result in errors..

Provided that you've gotten this far, the only thing left to do now is to restore the files one by one; after all the xml files are restored, then it's time to restore the assets; and you'll need to upload them when prompted one by one.

In any part of these processes if you cancel or get disconnected, you'll have to start over from the manifest, and everytime you attempt a restore, it should create a new blog -- there's no way to really add onto a previous attempt unless you're willing to do some SQL magic.

Voodoo Doughnut


photo by roboppy

At Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon you can get a Maple Bacon Doughtnut.

Starting Clean For 2009

If you've been a frequent reader of my blog, you might noticing that the site is a little more sparse than usual, and instead of having seven years worth of entries, there are little more than a handful.

So what happened? Simply put, I switched servers. Generally when one does that, all the content from one server is copied onto the new server, and no one ever notices that what was once on one is now on another. This process is typically very much invisible to the viewer on the other side. Why isn't it a simple matter of copying the files from machine to another? A large reason is Movable Type, the blogging software I use to run the backend of mikehuang.com. You see, I've been using Movable Type for nearly 6 years now, and as the years have gone by, I've continuously kept Movable Type updated with the newest releases. At some point however, my version of the Movable Type database with all the different plugins and modifications to the database diverged from the current version, making the backup/restore and import/export functions incompatible with this latest version (4.23). My last full successful backup was sometime in late 2006, so while it is entirely possible to import those entries (about 1600) to save me some work, I'd also like to go back and tag and categorize them properly. I'm not expecting to do all this in a day, or even a week -- I expect I'll be re-adding entries for a long time.

A second reason for doing this is to create a clean version of the Movable Type database, one which is more easily backed up and restored -- I suspect that the database must have been corrupted at some point, as I can only ever manage to export a little over 1600 entries before Movable Type thinks the process of export is done, and I hope that this re-creation of the database will solve that problem.

Canon 5D Mark II Now Available on Amazon

The much anticipated Canon 5D Mark II is now available at Amazon. The whole holiday season, third party sellers have had this camera in stock using the Amazon storefront at exorbitant (or perhaps that should be extortion) prices, with nearly a 50% premium markup.

While the camera originally exhibited problems with black spots and banding, those have been fixed by Canon's recent firmware release.

UPDATE: It appears that Amazon sold out of their stock of Canon 5D Mark II's within a matter of hours. The 5D Mark II appears poised to be the new Wii of digital cameras.

Macworld SF 2009

This year's MacWorld had a different feel than most other MacWorlds in recent history -- with this being the last show that Apple plans on attending, and with Adobe pulling out of the expo, the show seemed a little more empty than usual; Adobe's usual space was filled by lynda.com, which managed to bring in a good two dozen iMacs to sign people up and demonstrate their online learning materials. The emphasis on MacWorld in recent years has been heavily centered on carrying cases of late; this year's was no exception, though with some of the more familiar vendors missing (such as timbuktu and crumpler). While MacWorld used to find many different independent producers with booths, this year most booths were not by indies, but rather larger name corporations such as iSkin and Brenthaven.

Apple's announcements this year were fairly low-key; while some analysts expected items such as a new Mac mini or new LED monitors, the actual announcements were simply iWork '09 and iLife '09 and the 17 inch MacBook Pro. While I'm glad to see that they added the option of a non-glossy screen, I'm not thrilled that it comes with a $50 surcharge as it involves cutting out the bevel of the MacBook Pro.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro is a curious beast, as it also includes an integrated battery that is Apple serviceable, but not user-servicable. While this means that the 17-inch MacBook Pro probably won't be used by those who swap batteries, Apple claims the battery will last for 8 hours, and will be good for 5 years, which should make it extremely usable for all but the most power-needy of road warriors. My concern with the integrated battery is simply that a battery replacement will require the user to be without their computer for a certain length of time; this is not only inconvenient, but a complete deal breaker for some people.