Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Using to watch the Olympics

Shawn Johnson's gold-winning balance beam routine was too late for my daughter to watch. So I thought I could cruise to the Internet to watch it. Here's what it took:
  1. Search on-line for the video.
  2. Find lots of You-Tube videos
  3. All the You-Tube videos want you to go to some blog to watch. No thanks, probably a trick to download malware. I'll go the legit route and try to watch at
  4. Go to
  5. Click on Olympic coverage, right up front.
  6. Click on 'find by sport'
  7. Scroll way down to gymnastics.
  8. See Shawn Johnson, click 'download'
  9. Oops, no download. I got a 'DRM' check screen.
  10. I'm told it doesn't support Firefox without a Windows Media Player plug-in.
  11. Search for WMP on-line.
  12. Find the 'official' plug-in at a place that isn't Microsoft.
  13. Try to see if this is malware or not.
  14. Cross fingers and install.
  15. Repeat steps 4-9.
  16. Plug-in doesn't work at all.
  17. Bitch about having to use IE. Thankfully, I'm not on my Linux computer at work.
  18. Open IE. Repeat steps 4-9.
  19. At DRM screen, I can now click 'play test video'
  20. Now I can finally click 'Download now'! (Didn't I already do this a few times?)
  21. Oops, no download. I have to install "NBC Direct"
  22. Grumble about adding more crap to my computer just because I want to watch a video
  23. Tell IE it is ok to install a new program
  24. Click 'run'
  25. Tell Vista's User Access Control it is ok to run the program
  26. Read ra-ra intro screen from NBC.
  27. Click 'continue'
  28. Read 3,500 word license agreement.
  29. Click 'I agree'
  30. Wait while some progress bars flash
  31. Get presented with a screen to sign in, or create an account.
  32. Bitch that after all this, now I have to create an account so they can spam me with e-mail too.
  33. Click 'Create New Account'.
  34. Get scary alert box saying I have chosen to receive "HIGH QUALITY" video downloads. Oh, any I'll be joined to an NBC P2P network. Am I sure I want to proceed?
  35. I'm not, but I click 'Yes' anyway.
  36. I get a form to fill out. Some fields are yellow, some white.
  37. Figure only the yellow is required.
  38. Bitch I have to give a 'descriptive name' for this computer. WTF? I just want to watch one video?
  39. Enter required info.
  40. Oh, no the white fields are required too. I have to tell my zip code and birth date.
  41. Make up a zip code and birth date.
  42. Click continue.
  43. Get a message that the registration servers are down. No account was created.
  44. Click my only option, quit.
  45. Cuss a lot.
  46. Repeat steps 17-42.
  47. Pray servers are up.
  48. Get message that my e-mail is already registered.
  49. Hit back a lot, and log in with the account I was told in step 43 that wasn't created.
  50. Again, I have to enter a descriptive name for this computer.
  51. Scary dialog saying ATTENTION! and HIGH QUALITY pops up again.
  52. Click 'Yes'
  53. Wait while progress bars flash. Something about "OpenCASE". Hopefully other customer know more about what that is than I do.
  54. Get "Install is about to start" dialog. Crap, I'm just now starting to install? It says it should take about 10 minutes.
  55. Cuss.
  56. Click 'continue'
  57. Notice this whole NBC Direct thing is 'Beta'. Is that safe?
  58. Oh, great, the install puts another icon on my desktop. It didn't even ask. Kind of arrogant to assume it is so important that it deserves to live on my desktop, isn't it?
  59. Congratulations, I'm not ready to start using NBC direct.
  60. Oh, if you skip registration you get STANDARD QUALITY video. Not that HIGH QUALITY they talked about before. Hm, did I register or not?
  61. Click 'close'
  62. Oh, now I can register. What the hell was I doing before, if I wasn't registering?
  63. Click 'register'
  64. Says I haven't registered my e-mail, please click 'resend'
  65. Click close, because there is no 'resend'
  66. Now I can click 'resend'
  67. Ooh boy, my request is being process. And they spell "You'll" with a box in place of the apostrophe. Classy.
  68. Open my email.
  69. Find registration confirmation.
  70. Click on link
  71. Get a page saying I'm confirmed. Click to customize my profile to get started. Hey folks, this is step 71, and I haven't even started yet?
  72. Ignore that web page. Switch apps and go back to Direct Beta, click close
  73. Click 'register'
  74. A new dialog pops up. Hey! Important update. An operating system patch is required to use this beta!
  75. What? I keep my OS up with the required Microsoft patches. Why do I have to download an OS patch from NBC to watch one silly 3 minute video? Should NBC be patching my operating system?
  76. It says I just have to 'click here' to get the required patch
  77. I get a dialog warning me I'll have to restart the machine after installing the patch.
  78. Oh, and after the restart, please try running NBC direct again.
  79. Click on the link. Get option to open a file. Also get warning about running files downloaded from the Internet from untrusted sources.
  80. My wife come in, asks what I'm up to.
  81. I tell her.
  82. My wife points out I've been home an hour, and have yet to help my daughter with her homework.
  83. Finally I give up. I then try to explain to my daughter why she can't watch Shawn on the balance beam.
  84. "That's ok," my daughter says. "While I was waiting for you, they showed it again on TV."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Creating Presentations with Beamer

I like to use Beamer to create presentations with LaTeX. I love the slides it creates, and I'm not a big PowerPoint fan.

I have found this simple page of examples to be of more use than the 224 page Beamer manual. I mean, really, who has the time to read that?