December 31, 2008

I Hate Computers - Log entry #762

Here are some helpful tips, if you ever find yourself using 'computers', especially the Windows species.

  • Never ever disable the "VgaSave" video adapter. Ever. This is the fallback software used by Windows to display things on the screen if no other video driver works. If this is disabled, Windows will start but your screen will show nothing but the finest shade of black. If you fail to follow this advice, be prepared to follow these instruction to re-enable vgasave service from the Windows recovery console. Not that it worked for me, but hey, good luck with that.

  • If you perform a 'repair' installation while your screen shows nothing but the black darkness which has enveloped the heart of every poor Windows operating system developer, hoping for your video adapter driver to be repaired, do not (no not ever) turn the power off. Not even once, just for fun.

  • If you happen to boot up your Windows computer and it fails to start due to 'Registry is corrupted' or some such, and you choose to re-install Windows rather than becoming a Tibetan monk (who would likely have fewer problems than a Windows user with a failing disk drive, even considering the Chinese government's approach to freedom), be prepared for a long stretch of file recovery and application re-installation. I recommend Fat Tire Amber Ale from the New Belgium Brewing Company.

  • If you happen to have not followed these tips and you have re-installed Windows and you now have a default user account with a default green and deceptively bucolic grassy field, where before you had many files and folders and possibly (if you are reading this) insipid desktop wallpaper, here is an actual, useful tip : you can change the settings for this newly created user account to use the folders and settings of your previous user account. This won't solve all your problems, but really, do you think that's even possible? Even with advice from me (and I'm composed of nearly 100% pure awesome). Here is what you do :

    • use the regedit program (and if you don't know what that is, give up now) to view HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

    • Look for a sub-entry that has a really long value with an entry of ProfileImagePath that points to the fairly empty and useless 'new user account' (e.g. "%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\Mike.NAUTILUS". Change the value to point to the location of the old and wondrous user account (e.g. "%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\Mike").

    • Go back to the ProfileList registry key, and update the "AllUsersProfile" and "DefaultUserProfile" settings - you'll probably want to continue to use the old folder that had settings for all the old applications you had previously installed and which are most likely useless, since you've re-installed Windows.

    • Log out, then log back in. Hopefully you now see your old desktop. In either case, remember - Fat Tire Amber Ale from the New Belgium Brewing Company.

    • To be honest, you could just copy the files from the old user account folder into the folder for the new user account. But I'm lazy. Just be aware that by pointing the new user account to the old user folder, there may be permission issues with accessing some of the folders or files. I haven't seen that happen but it seems a likely next failure.

December 09, 2008

Catalina - point-of-sale ad network

I wonder if they support cookies...

Armed with two years of purchase data for 80 million individual consumers, Catalina Marketing is this week launching a new in-store ad network called the Pointer Media Network.

The information comes from frequent shopper cards covering most of the nation's supermarket chains, thousands of drugstores and other retailers.


Pointer Media works like this: Catalina has installed color printers at the checkout counters of close to 50,000 stores around the country that are linked to the company's massive database of consumer purchases. When a shopper's order is rung up, the printer instantly creates a print ad on a receipt-size piece of paper based on the unique purchasing history of that shopper. The ad is handed to the shopper along with the receipt for the current purchase.