Wednesday, January 30, 2008

[log] Finally made Internet Explorer not start slow

IE on my new laptop has bugged the crap out of me. When I started it, it would spend a good 5 seconds mysteriously "Connecting..." to nothing, since I set my homepage to blank.

5 seconds isn't a lot of time to wait for, say, a cocktail. But it sure irritated me when I stared at my computer. One-one-thousand. Two-one-thousand. Three-one-thousand. Four-one-thousand. Five-one-thousand. Argh.

Today I finally found the fix -- From "Tools".. "Manage Add-Ons", I started looking for things I didn't think I needed. I knew that every one of these add-ons was a potential "start slow" switch.

After a few tries, jackpot. Disabling this add-on made IE started in a tolerable time of slightly over one second.

- Name: "CPwmIEBrowserHelp Object"
- Publihser: "Lenovo (United States) Inc.
- File: tvtpwm_ie_com.dll

Now let's see what other Lenovo crap I can dump!

Monday, January 21, 2008

[code] Parse XML in Ruby

Needed to call an xml feed bunch of times for work to prototype some algo. I just love how easy this is in Ruby.
require 'rexml/document'
require 'open-uri'
require 'cgi'
include REXML

def searchOne(searchTerm)
searchURL = ''+CGI.escape(searchTerm)
searchResult =

searchResult.root.each_element do |level0|
level0.each_element do |level1|
if == 'IWantThisNodeType'
print level1.text + "\n"
level1.each_element do |level2|
# Do something interesting


[recipe] Pumpkin Puree Plus

There are some really wonderful ingredients, like avocado and cheese, that if I never left Asia, I probably never would have learned to appreciate. And this year something new -- Pumpkin Puree.

I bought it originally to make pumpkin bread, which turned out killer good, but left me with quite a bit of pumpkin puree. Since then I have experimented and discovered that pumpkin puree, like tofu:
- sautees and modifies very well with savory sauces
- serves as a nice "base", giving substance to a dish
- keeps in the fridge for a long time

Some combinations I have tried, in each case I added some vegetables like mushrooms or peas.
- Pumpkin puree plus texas BBQ sauce
- Pumpkin puree plus Tikka Masala sauce
- Pumpkin puree plus hoisin sauce

And accoridng to the manufacturer, it is a ridiculously rich source of beta carotene.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

[outing] Santa Barbara with Jose

- When: 2008 Jan 20-21
- Who: Pierre, Jose, me

- Surprise!
- Perfect outdoor brunch weather and artichoke and bacon omelette at Summerland Beach Cafe
- "No pets allowed on furniture" at Marina Beach Motel. Right.
- The couple next door who are the parents from everybody loves raymond
- The great sales person at Game Seek. A lesson about Mancala, and the perfect gift of super jumbo playing cards.
- Jose and Vodka tonic make for great funny pics
- Evil Knievel Jose tried to jump up to the bridge railing
- Evil warm roasted almonds and parmesan chips at Ty Lounge at Biltmore
- Killer Lobster bisque at Enterprise Fish Co.
- Oyster po boy at Santa Barabara Shellfish Co.
- The amazingly nice people at San Yisidro Ranch
- Where the heck is the "Wieman" trail?
- Highly suspect map from the hotel, link to real hiking map for next time
- They must be counting columbian drug money inside the gigantic mansion
- We really tired Jose out!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

[tool] How to Send SMS with Email

Here's how to SMS someone via email:

Virgin Mobile:

phonenumber is the 10-digit cell phone number

Monday, January 07, 2008

[log] Win32:TratBHO [Trj], Win32:Agent-PCJ [Adw], Win32:Bojo-G [Trj]

Marc must have downloaded the Xmas specials malware pack. When we got the laptop, we could not even use internet explorer to download the anti-virus software. The browser was so jacked that the clicks would be intercepted to go else where and every few minutes a random browser window would open to "Secret Lovers".

- Changed the desktop background from a lovely picture of his daughters to straight black, windows explorer and start menu to "classic" mode. Yes, this had to be done before I could proceed.
- Downloaded FireFox by manually typing in the download path, all the while fighting off randomly opening windows
- Installed FireFox, and from there downloaded and installed Avast!, Ad Aware, and CCleaner.
- Ran CCleaner, which deleted 3.6 GB of crap
- Ran AdAware, noticed that there were still a huge number of cached files in Local Settings\Temp. No doubt downloaded by all the malware. Manually unhid the folders and files to delete them.
- Downloaded and ran Norton Removal Tool to uninstall Norton 2005, so that Avast! could function fully
- Ran Avast! which found the first two malware in the boot-time scan:

"Win32:Trojan-gen {Other}" found in "C:\WINDOWS\system32\tuvtqpq.dll"
"Win32:Bojo-G [Trj]" found in "C:\WINDOWS\system32\moywh.dll"

- Avast! easily removed these two. Though the power adaptor on the laptop had not been working right, and the computer decided to hibernate in the middle of the scan.
- Woke it up from hibernate, fudged with the power cord until it seems to be charging, and continued scan with blank screen with no sense of progress. Entertained myself by chatting with Jessica and watching Jose and Scruffy run around.

- Avast! scan finally finished. The computer is behaving much better now. But, malware still left clearly, since "Secret Lovers" were still popping up every so often, especially when I try to use IE.
- Ran Windows Updates to upgrade IE and Hotfixes to latest version. This took a while as it had to upgrade to IE7. Entertained myself by doing work on my work laptop.
- Finally it was done, and with Avast! now running resident, it started to alert on a new malware:

"Win32:Agent-PCJ [Adw]" found in "C:\DOCUME~1\Marc\LOCALS~1\Temp\wjsfldwg.exe"

- I had Avast! delete it. Only to find that after I reboot, Avast! would then complain about the same malware but in a different file name:

"Win32:Agent-PCJ [Adw]" found in "C:\DOCUME~1\Marc\LOCALS~1\Temp\cymqdwmk.exe"

- Checked the startup list in CCleaner. Noticed a suspicious entry that loaded a dll with the same random 8 letter file name from the system32 folder. I delete the entry.
- After a reboot, it got worse. Now the login just hung. I brought up task manager and killed explorer and restarted it, in order to be able to do anything again. I checked startup list in CCleaner again, and, voila, that entry is back, with a different dll!
- From command prompt, went to c:\windows\system32, and ran dir /O:D *.dll to see the DLL files order by create date -- Saw dozen of dlls with the similar random 8 letter names, but cleverly, all with slightly different file sizes.
- I deleted them all but could not delete the latest two -- "File in use. Access denied". Meanwhile, Avast! keep alerting me of the same Win32:Agent-PCJ with the exe file in the Temp folder.
- After repeating this a couple of more times, I came up with the idea of killing the explorer process from Task Manager, which finally allowed me to clear out the last of the random 8 letter dlls. Hurray!

- I reboot the computer, and what do I see? Another trojan horse alert from Avast!

"Win32:TratBHO [Trj]" found in "C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\TUSQO.DLL"

- I asked Avast! to delete it. I reboot. Same problem.
- Did it again, and manually checked it in cmd prompt. I noticed that Avast! did not actually delete the file. I tried to delete it myself, and of course, the good old "File in use. Access denied" message showed up.
- I immediately tried the same "kill explorer then kill dll" trick. This time, no luck. I proceeded to try to kill a bunch more processes, still no luck. I tried regsrv32 /u tusqo.dll. Nope.
- Tried Avast! a few more times with Delete and Chest on the file, with "delete file on next boot as necessary". Reboot. Still nope.
- Finally, I got Avast! to Rename/Move, with "move file on next boot as necessary". Reboot.
- Voila -- Victory!
- (Who knows why the same did not work for delete, but I guess that's part of the challenge)

After ridding not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 different malware, all freshies (TratBHO only made it into the virus definition file on 2008 Jan 4), this poor little Pentium III with 256MB RAM is one clean mean machine. IE actually loads faster on it than on my duo core laptop.

Now if only all that work had earned me some achievement points ...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

[buy] Zoom H2 Handy Recorder

What: Zoom H2 Handy Recoder
Cost: $175
Vendor: New Vista Sales via

- Amazingly lightweight
- You can sit it on a little desktop stand, or attach it to a handle or floor stand
- Play back the recording immediately through line out
- Save as WAV or directly as MP3 files
- Can be AC powered or runs on 2 AA batteries
- Multiple modes customized for recording single direction sound or surround

Saturday, January 05, 2008

[outing] Alibi Room

Where: Alibi Room
Who: Jess, Ray, Zee, John, Jamie, Tonia, Chris, Mike, Shelbey, Alan, CC, and quite a few more

- Zee: "Pierre, I will drink you under the table"
- Patron, more Patron, some other tequila, Mezcal, Hanger One, Bourbon, the bar tender bought a round of Jack, and then more Patron ...
- Last round of chicken tenders!
- Beautiful, laid back bar. Cool decor with a great atmosphere. So glad that we finally made it there.

Friday, January 04, 2008

[recipe] Assorted Vegetable with Quail Eggs

Made this up tonight. Not the healthiest, sure, but it's low carb and tasty.

- Four links of chinese sausage. Quarter and then quarter length-wise again into little sticks.
- Dice up a green pepper into the same shape as the sausage
- Clean a big handful of beansprout

- Start with pan roasting some garlic. Garlic is always good.
- Pan roast the chinese sausage. No oil needed since the sausage has tons.
- Then throw in a can of "assorted vegetables with quail eggs", and don't question what's in there
- Then throw in the green peppers. Season with Sriracha hot sauce to taste. Stir Fry.
- When done. Turn off heat and then mix in the bean sprout.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

[outing] New Years Eve 2007

Where: Avalon Hotel
Who: Marc, Nikki, Brent, Marissa, Daryl, Nat, Raheem, Eliza, Jess, Ray, Mike, Zee, Carol

- "Would you prefer the cocktail cabana or the dining cabana?"
- First course: "Baked German butter potato, crème fraiche, domestic caviar" (A single Ruffle chip with some stuff on it)
- Second course: "Butternut Squash soup, butter poached lobster, shaved black truffles" (Now this is some good soup)
- Third course: "Organic greens, frisee, Belgian endive, shaved parmesan, citrus vinaigrette" (The other choice was Beet Carpaccio, which some had misread for Beef Carpaccio)
- Fourth course: "Petite Filet Mignon, crushed fingerling potatoes, sauce bordelaise Slow~Braised Short Rib, truffled brussels sprouts" (Filet Mignon is fabulous ... but where was the short rib?)
- Fifth course: " Chocolate champagne cake, hazelnut dacquaise, raspberries" (An absolute winning choice over the Strawberry gateau)
- Zee: "I am immune to alcohol"
- Matt pulling a Pierre
- Brent's new year resolutions
- Mike: "I am from a country in Asia". Zee: "Ireland?"
- Getting kicked out by Hotel Management
- Damn heels