May 2009 - Posts

Intel Pro Wireless 2200BG Drivers for Windows 7

[Edit: Dec 2009: The download link below doesn't work any more.... Dell pulled it. However the issues I had were with W7 RC and by RTM it seems the in the box drivers work with the wireless card just fine. Sorry I can't help anyone who is having problem - based on the number of hits I see there are still plenty of you]


I have a 4 year old Dell laptop - top of the line at the time and still runs Shader Model 3 DX9 apps just great. I don't need another laptop but I still want to install Windows 7.

But Dell don't support Windows 7 on it - heck I'm not sure they support Vista on it and there's no drivers in the box for the Intel Pro Wireless 2200BG

So I tried the Vista drivers and they didn't work at all. A bit of googling found a post on a ThinkPad forum with a solution that worked but that post seems to have disappeared. Thankfully google has a cache copy for now so here's how to do it:

The solution is to get the XP drivers from here:*%20XP%20Professional&lang=eng

Then unpack the download and then just choose update drivers from device manager and point to the unpacked XP drivers. All worked great.



Farewell Squirrel Killer ;-)

Sad news from ZMan land this weekend. At the ripe old age of somewhere between 13 and 15 Sandy went off to chase squirrels in the sky on Sunday. I thought the old guy deserved to have all the good memories recorded on the internet so random people can read about this in a hundred years ;-) If its the year 2109 and you read this then please send an ether-mail message to my brain which I expect is in a jar somewhere playing games on the Xbox 216,000.

Nobody knows how old he really was - Sandy and his sister Susie were the product of a divorce according to the shelter and the people who gave them up never told anyone their age. I never really did understand how 2 people splitting up meant that there was no longer home for the dogs since there is now 2 homes... but hey their loss was my gain. The vet looked at the teeth and said they were between 4 and 5. Later vets were equally as vague. It didn't matter because, as those of you with dogs know, every day is like their birthday - just get out the treat jar and its party time.

All my friends were getting puppies and spending their days complaining about chewed things, poop and pee on the floor and having to crate them for hours as they couldn't be trusted. My dogs knew what the garden was for, knew sit and down and could be left in the house for hours without chewing anything. In fact their hobby, especially Sandy, was sleeping on the couch. Many's the day I got home from work and sat on the couch to find it very, very warm. They were not allowed on the couch when I was there so this was their little rebellion. If I sneaked in very quietly I would occasionally catch him still asleep and then I would get the panicked look because he hadn't done his duty and met me at the door.

Sandy, affectionately known as Chunkers due to his odd girth, got far more Corgi in the Lab/Corgi mix (imagine that union!) than his sister. So while she looked like a little lab and was more athletic, Chunkers tended to plod around. I had a dog door in the garage so I would let them out and within seconds Susie would be round the house and on the grass. Sandy would eventually appear by which time Susie was often done and on her way back in. One week he stopped appearing and concerned about his toilet habits I peered round the side of the house. He had decided that there really was no point in going all that way down to the grass unless he had serious business to do. So he peed by the dog door and came right back inside.

While I'm on the toilet habits he always had to stare at you while he pooped... I never worked out why. He would do the round and round thing like dogs do and then when he found the right place he would turn his head and stare at you in the house. Was he ashamed or proud... who knows!

One day he started sneezing. He had short little corgi legs and every time he sneezed his nose hit the deck and he looked totally shocked. I think he must have sneezed 5 times before I got over to hold his head up. Sorry but I couldn't help laughing it was so funny to watch.

On a walk it was always Sandy who would stop to pick up the dead flat road kill and carry it back before you noticed. Susie would sniff and find it - Sandy would grab it. What a team.

When it was bath time he knew there was a biscuit coming and never complained while Susie sat quaking in the shower.

When it was tooth cleaning time he would sit there licking the meat flavour toothpaste off your fingers while Susie hid under the chair.

When you lit the fire or a candle he would look in terror and mostly hide upstairs. At best he would sit as far away as possible staring at the flame like it was going to get him. Susie lay in front of the fire like a cat until you were worried she was so hot she might burn.

Oh and he was deathly afraid of retractable tape measures especially the noise they make when you press the retract button.

Dogs are so strange.

Sandy had some skin conditions on and off, at its worst the top of his tail and ears would crack and scab over. One morning I awoke to find the white paintwork in the bathroom looking like a CSI episode. As I went downstairs to get cleanup gear I found more on the walls and all over the kitchen cabinets. When it came to tails Sandy had a fantastic heavy lab tail. The sort of tail you can feel across the room when it bangs on the floor or wall. Well somehow the scabs had broken and Sandy had done a tour of the house obviously in a very happy mood wagging his tail. 6 years later there are still the occasional small blood spots I see on the walls.

Sandy's philosophy in life was "There ain't nothin' worth runnin' for". His speedy 'trot' had all the grace and cuteness of a baby Hippo.

Besides the obvious food there were really only 2 things he moved even slightly fast for. The door bell - yes I admit to tormenting them when there was a doorbell on TV by skipping back to replay it over and over and seeing how many times he would go to the front door to check (there is no limit - they would have done it all night I am sure) - and squirrels in HIS garden. God forbid one ever dared to run along the fence. They would both go ballistic both inside or outside the house which means the windows were never clean between dog footprints from outside and dog slobber on the inside. The squirrels soon learned though that little Corgi legs are never going to make it up a 6 foot fence so they would sit them looking down eating nuts. It didn't take long to train the dogs that "Go see" or "Who's there" meant a sprint to the back door to see if there were any squirrels and it was an easy way of giving them some extra exercise. The title of the post is misleading - he never killed anything other than the occasional milk bone. I still expect to hear barking when I see a squirrel on the fence - the cat doesn't seem to care!

For some personal reasons, the dogs haven't lived with me for a couple of years now but I'm assured Sandy was still happy and 'running' around right up to Saturday morning before he got suddenly ill and he didn't suffer very long at all. He had slowed down a bit in his old age but the beauty of starting out slow is that nobody will ever notice - I like that idea.

Here's a bunch of my favourite pictures... Farewell Chunkers. Its always sad when a pet dies but so many fun memories - well maybe not that time your diarrhea was so bad you woke me up with the smell but everything else ;-)


* Note that Susie is still going strong despite having 2 ACL surgeries and a growth removed from her liver over the years.

Posted 11 May 2009 09:02 AM by zman | 4 comment(s)
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Goodbye Yahoo Messenger...

Today I got notified about an important update. Though it never really explained what had changed other than their terms and conditions but I started the install anyway and over on the right hand side I noticed a non standard button that said 'customise my install' hidden amongst some other crap.

No surprised for guessing what the defaults were

  • Install the F******** yahoo toolbar - yeah like everyone needs another toolbar
  • Make Yahoo my home page - because that's what I meant when I said install an instant messenger app
  • Make Yahoo my default search engine - because I like to pretend its 1998 again. Maybe I should install NetScape 1 as well

So that's it... Yahoo Messenger is on my shit list along with Adobe Acrobat and iTunes/Quicktime...

Posted 06 May 2009 08:20 AM by zman | 3 comment(s)
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From Couch Potato to Ultramarathoner/Triathlete

Every so often someone from my past discovers my blog or asks me what I'm up to these days. When they discover the running history of the last 4 years most of them don't believe me. I don't blame them.

Up until the age of 16 I occasionally did some cross country running and swam a little. The running was mainly because it enabled me to avoid the misery of playing rugby with a group of guys who didn't like me much to start with and didn't really want a wimpy nerd on their team. The swimming was because our local pool had a cheap/free night for youth groups and lots of my friends went. Most of the time we played around but we did used to get badges for distance swimming and I still remember swimming the 48 lengths of the pool to complete 1 mile. I clearly remember it taking me an hour mostly breaststroke and I probably touched the side when I wasn't supposed to. I was amazed that my friends sister could swim the same in under half that time and did it on a regular basis training for a team.

Once there was no requirement for organised sports after 16 I chose not to partake in any. I was no good at any of them, didn't know any of the people who did them and really saw no point in it. Then I discovered beer.... then I discovered that while at university you were allowed to eat whatever you want whenever you want without your mum buying and putting it in front of you and slowly my girth began to rise. No cars when I was at Uni so there was plenty of walking and biking which kept me reasonably nimble even if I had no stamina.

During my first years of work I continued the trend of doing nothing. I still didn't have a car (or a driving license - I was a late developer) so thankfully I was kept from being a total couch potato. But on the whole it was drinking, eating, coding and watching TV.

There were a few notable attempts to be more athletic during this time:

  1. I remember a group of us at University tried to go running once - I don't remember why - and I remember being utterly rubbish and utterly exhausted and never doing it again.
  2. Drunk one night I told my buddy I could go to the gym with him and keep up. I was happy to lift more than him on the leg machine but he killed me on everything else and after overdoing it on the bike I ended up sitting in the toilet waiting to throw up... (thankfully I didn't)
  3. A group from my office in London did a mini triathlon - bikes in the gym, 1 mile run and then so many lengths in the pool. Again the 1 mile run killed me and I wondered why I was doing it.
  4. I did get a membership to a gym a couple of times and I did pick up my swimming and surprised everyone by knocking out several lunchtime swims over a mile. It still took me an hour of breast stroke but I convinced myself I wasn't really that unfit.
  5. I even bought a bike and did some rides with friends training for the London to Brighton ride (but I was too freaked out to try it - 54 miles seemed so far... now I'm planning to run almost that far!)

I can remember seeing the first London marathon - I would have been 14 - and thinking how cool it would be to run all that way and I was sure my grandfather and uncle had both run that great distance (though I've since found out that my grandfather never ran more than 10 mile races and my uncle stopped at the half marathon.... both seem a long way when you are a kid). Yes I am the first marathon runner in my family - most of them think I am crazy.

And then before you know it you are approaching 40, you are 20-30lbs overweight and you know exactly what that means.....

What does a fat old bloke with a bike that's not been ridden for 5 years do? He joins a gym again... he takes advantage of the free week of personal training... and then he stops going because its too expensive to pay a trainer... he tries a different gym and even manages I think 6 weeks in a row at one point because he has someone to go with... he tries going to spinning classes but somehow is never motivated enough to spend the money or the time. He pays to get his bike tuned up and then hangs it back on the wall in the garage waiting for the tyres to go flat. So for a few years nothing really changes and I knew something eventually had to.

So one day in early 2005 I was reading about the keep fit classes that my local city put on. They have belly dancing classes, aerobics and even such wonderful things as 'bums and tums'. Many of them are in the daytime so its pretty obvious that the target audience is not me. But there in between all these classes was "Learn to run". 10 weeks and you run a 5k at the end of it. I was a bit skeptical but I figured it was no more a waste of money than flushing it down the gym toilet every month so I signed up.

The first week we walked a minute, ran a minute 10 times. Yes that was it. Twice a week we slowly built up until we were running over a mile. 5 weeks later I signed up for a 5k so that there was no way to back out (remember I am king of the tightwads) and a week after that I decided to run 3.1 miles on the treadmill just to make sure I could do it and amazingly I could. My first 5k was 32:23 and I was 50% amazed and 50% dead. I do not remember being that out of breath or that tired in my life but i ran the whole way. That year was awesome, every time I ran a 5k I knocked several minutes off my time until I was down to 25:13. Sadly I learned that when you are unfit to start with its easy to improve fast... these days I train for longer races but I still find it hard to get under 25:00. Each time you run a distance you think - the next one up can't be that much harder can it? You see people running and think - they don't look any fitter than me. The 5k turned into a 10k, then a half marathon and then there was no stopping me and I ran my first full 1 year after my 1st 5k.

Then you discover that the longer races give you medals and best of all people look at you like you actually did something cool even though you were a long way behind the winners. There is no better feeling than the look on someones face when you tell them you did Disney 2008 and they ask if you did the half or the full and you tell them you did both.

How did I keep this up for 4 years when I've never managed more than 6 weeks?

  • Stinginess - I pay for group coaching and I am a tightwad
  • Structure - I have a coach who tells me what to do and I do it. I dont have to plan my own workouts and I know 2 times per week that I am supposed to show up. It means I dont under or over train too which helps with preventing injury.
  • Peer pressure and friendship - I run with a great group of people who expect me to show up for the 3rd long run and support me through races, injury and chafing in places you wouldn't talk to your doctor about

I've come to the conclusion that for me I need all off those things or I will find an excuse not to do it

So that's the story... 13 5ks, 3 8ks, 5 10ks, a 10 mile, 2 sprint triathlons, 7 half marathons, 8 full marathons and a 50k later I'm still going strong with many more stupid races still to go. One other thing - I'm very sure that if I can do it then anyone can.

Posted 01 May 2009 03:35 PM by zman
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