So perhaps starting a sentence with “so” isn’t a bad thing?

Up until today, I was all for the casual throttling of anyone that started the response to a question withso“. I was going to implement a “so jar” at my desk. All profits to the grammar police, natch.

Q: What’s new in Windows Server 2003?

A: So we took a focused look at compelling scenarios and found blah…

Or even just coming out of the blue with a “so”.

Colleague: So I was working on that case…

But perhaps there’s actually a method to the madness.

Consider the use of “so” in a sentence where it’s actually required:

Q: Hey Barry, how did you fix that problem?

A: Well, I was looking at the network, but the network didn’t seem to be a problem, and I looked at the application, but the application was fine, and then I found a KB article describing the problem, and there was a registry key that would fix it, so I applied the change from that article, and it all worked.

It’s my theory that “so” typically precedes the nugget of useful information in a sentence. Sure, the first part of the answer above was probably relevant, but it’s not actually what I really listen for. I mentally tune back in at the “so”. So based on my experience, people are more likely to focus on the part after the “so”.

“So” people tend to use “so” multiple times during a sentence, as if trying to drag my attention back to what they’re saying. Which is a technique that actually seems to work on me, because it pushes all the “so”s onto a “so” stack. And for whatever reason, I can back-trace a “so” stack better than discrete but thematically connected sentences. Am I just weirdly conditioned?

So (ie, in conclusion), “So” types: do you find that people are typically more attentive when you start a sentence with “so”? Or is this just crazy talk?

Today, I met Daniel Pearson…

…but I couldn’t quite place the name.

Had he introduced himself as “dan at” I’d have known who he was instantly… guess I’m just thinking in email addresses or URLs these days! He’s even on the Aussie IT Pro blogger OPML, but nope, I had nothing!

Dan wrote an excellent post on detecting memory leaks a while back, going from Perfmon through to UMDH in one easy step.

RFC Deskbar Shortcut

Funny how you just assume you added a deskbar shortcut, but you didn’t. For pasting into the MSN Desktop Search Toolbar:


Then, “rfc 2616” takes you straight there…

My Tablet PC: A Precision 650

I’m typing this entry on the same PC I use for my day-to-day work. It’s a Dell Precision 650 workstation, a full-tower system.

Ever since I was small*, I’ve wanted a graphics tablet for a PC. Finally, the other day, I bought one: a Wacom Intuos3, small size.

Now, I should add, I don’t actually have any particular reason for getting or using a graphics tablet: my drawing and design skills roughly resemble those of a crazed, wood-alcohol-blinded impressionist whose arms are missing and draws with his teeth, while tripping on some particularly nasty mushrooms. To put it another way: I cannae draw, Captain. There’s nooo more talent.

So what inspired me to try it out? Well, my childhood dream.

So, I hooked up the tablet, installed the drivers, and I’m done. Everything works nicely. But there’s something missing – it’s as if Windows didn’t really expect me to use a non-mouse for input. It seemed consistently surprised and upset. Mopey.

My girlfriend loves her Tablet PC. I don’t love “real” Tablet PCs (sorry Scoble), as it always seems like exactly the wrong combination. When it’s in tablet mode, I want a keyboard because I can type faster than I write. When it’s in laptop mode, I want to draw network diagrams or other squiggles flat on the screen.

I just don’t know what I really want. So I thought I’d give the Desktop Tablet a try.


  • One graphics tablet with Tablet PC compatible drivers.

  • One copy of Windows XP, Tablet PC Edition.

And that’s pretty much it. I installed a copy of Tablet PC over my existing Windows XP installation (which was pretty new, and pretty fresh, and pretty well untouched), WindowsUpdated everything just to be sure, and I’m now scrawling and scribbing in OneNote with something approaching precision.

Once TabletPC was installed, I found that the Wacom’s out-of-box drivers didn’t actually do the full Tablet Stylus thing, but there are updates on the Wacom site that add that capability.

As soon as the new driver was installed, I was able to do that “squiggle the pen left to right above the panel” thing that pops up the handwriting input box, and I get the little input icon whenever I “pen over” a text box.

Acrylic worked really well before the upgrade, but afterwards I was having pressure sensitivity issues with short strokes – turning off the “hold to right click” option in the Tablet control panel sorted that out nicely. Now I just get general pressure sensitivity issues because I don’t know how it’s meant to work, which is much better by comparison.

So, all fun!

Nvidia: You’re Really Annoying Me

The Nvidia DVD Decoder (now called Purevideo) store is back, and better than ever*.

It only took three months more than originally promised, but that’s OK. I’d signed up for the “when we’re ready, we’ll email you” email from them. I got it last night.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for your previous interest in NVIDIA’s DVD Decoder (now called the PureVideo Decoder). We are excited to announce that the NVIDIA PureVideo Decoder is once again available online, and it’s better than ever!

New Features Include:

  • Full support for Microsoft’s new Media Center Edition Update, RollUp 2
  • Complete support for the latest NVIDIAĀ® GeForceā„¢ 7800 GTX graphics processing unit (GPU), including spatial-temporal de-interlacing of HD content
  • Seamless playback of ATSC and DVB transport streams in both HD and SD formats
  • Inverse Telecine (2:2 Pulldown Correction) support for PAL DVDs and videos to provide more accurate video playback and superior picture quality.

Please visit the NVIDIA Store to purchase your NVIDIA PureVideo Decoder Now!


Finally! I can give them money! The store is better than ever! Only… No, no I can’t. US and Canada orders only. From distant, distant memory, the old store (the one that allowed you to buy things) worked.

I’m really trying to be nice here, but some might consider it impolite to supply trialware, and when it expires, offer no method of getting it. No third party resellers, no way of acquiring it outside the US and Canada, no store shelf option, nothing. As Jar Jar might say, Meesa very frustraaaateeed.

So last night, my PC decided the (new) trial period was up, and that’s it. I’m done. Can’t buy Nvidia’s decoder. Going to buy one of the alternatives, which seem to generally cost twice as much for the entry-level set.

Today, there’s a short apologetic note on the website indicating that we “check back” for international orders.

Attn: Nvidia Executive In Charge Of Online Stuff: In what approximate timeframe can we expect store support for Australian and other overseas credit cards?

Annoyed. As are others:

Still: at least there’s hope in sight for Purevideo… the ATI decoder seems to be totally unobtainable without random hardware purchase.

Microsoft: None of this would be an issue if we included a decoder with Media Center and/or Windows. Food for thought.

What’s He Up To?

It’s once again quite busy here.

The Support biz locally tends to be cyclic – in the same sort of way as a wheel on a bicycle that’s repeatedly hit the kerb. And the wheels actively change shape while you ride on them. (And you’re on fire, and riding quickly through a hospital zone, being chased by helicopters and ninjas, and the ninjas are on fire too).

The service is also evolving – more focus on proactive incident prevention work, more focus on site visits, more focus on workshops, training, knowledge transfer. That sort of stuff. Should be fun. Interesting times, and all that.

Right now (in between crises) I’m trying to build a better hammer, by getting to grips with the Best Practices Analyzer tools, and the Server Performance Advisor, and I’m trying to work out what aspects of each can be automated into a low-touch log collection utility suite, like an expanded MPSReports utility.

Aside: MPSReports are da bomb if you’re troubleshooting a problem (with apologies to echelon, nothing to see here, please disperse). Run the most appropriate MPSReports package first, get the CAB file it produces, and you’re ready to do some serious log reading and troubleshooting. If you work out that there’s a particular log or file or setting you’re interested in, chances are you’ve got it already.

Back to the grindstone, many more fnjorkels before the day is out…

(Fnjorkel: Fictional “work minute”. May or may not bear a resemblance to an actual unit of time.)

Engadget XBOX 360 Hands-On

Peter Rojas’ article here:

My favourite part was the comments, though. And of them, this one made me laugh:

36. Posted Oct 11, 2005, 3:01 PM ET by Mu Catty

My friend works for MS and he saw what Sony can do with the Cell processor. He almost died on the spot when he saw what was possible.

Because the PS3 is so amazing, my MS friend realized that it was futile to work for MS anymore and has since left and is now growing hydroponic peanuts.

ps, never believe posts like these