It Happened Faster Than I Imagined…

810 pound leg press 01

Back at the end of April, I wrote about leg pressing 590 pounds. At the time, it seemed like I had achieved something impossible. At the beginning of this month, I completely crushed my previous personal best of 650 pounds.

900 pounds! I managed two sets of 12 reps at that weight.

An astute observer will notice that this picture is only 810 pounds. That is true, this photo is from an earlier set. We added one more plate on either side after this was taken.

My sights are now firmly set on getting at least 1000 pounds pressed before the end of October.

Adobe Support: Closing The Loop

I have been contacted directly by Adobe’s senior support team. Apparently, this blog played a factor in that. I do wish that a public rant here was not necessary.

The good news is that a local reproduction has been confirmed. A tight repro of the problem is crucial to assisting developers with a fix. Now that a bug has been filed, I’ll be continuing to provide Adobe with information if necessary.

We may use the XPerf tools to profile the Dreamweaver process. I am thrilled that progress is being made now and it is great knowing that a great product will be made even better.

A Workaround For Dreamweaver CS5 Performance

I have been quite vocal at work about my problem with Dreamweaver CS5.

I haven’t used Microsoft’s own Expression Studio product – it would be interesting to do a comparison though. As I told my colleagues, I have been using Dreamweaver since it was owned by Macromedia. Back then, Microsoft’s web site editor was Frontpage and that was a piece of garbage that should never have seen the light of day.

My friend Bill has some experience with Adobe products too since his wife is a desktop publisher. It was his suggestion that I try using a 10×10 pixel PNG rather than a 1×1. Interesting idea…

perfmon_DWCS5_workaround Lo and behold, it worked quite nicely! Although the kernel mode time still spiked, it returned back to user mode much more quickly and let me type directly into the Design Mode window – which is the expected behaviour. I started experimenting with different dimensions for the PNG file (always using Fireworks CS5 to resize as desired).

As you can see in the Performance Monitor trace, the kernel mode time for the Dreamweaver process still spikes while I am typing in the Design Mode window. However, it quickly drops back and the typing remains responsive. This was captured while using a PNG image 890 pixels wide (the full width of my page content <div> tag) and 10 pixels high.

The trade-off is that the PNG file is a larger file size; but with today’s internet access rates, this should be hardly noticeable.

Filename Image Format File Size
bgt_1x1 PNG 1 kb
bgt_5x5 PNG 46 kb
bgt_10x10 PNG 46 kb
bgt_890x1 PNG 48 kb
bgt_890x10 PNG 48 kb
new2 JPG 13 kb
If any reader uses Dreamweaver and experiences this issue, I hope this post helps you out. I am also curious to hear from people who have used Adobe’s free technical support; how were you treated?

Dealing With Adobe Technical Support

I suspect that most users would prefer to avoid calling technical support. Regardless of the company in question; this is simply not a fun way to spend your time. Adobe support is certainly no different.

The case was free; the aged adage "you get what you pay for"  couldn’t be more glaringly obvious here.

The first gentleman that I spoke with clairvoyantly diagnosed my problem as corrupt files and insisted that there was no bug in Dreamweaver.  As if intentionally trying to piss me off further, the support case was closed and marked "resolved." Bullshit.

But I decided to tighten up my own troubleshooting. I created a brand-new web site in Dreamweaver CS5 and used Fireworks CS5 to create a new single-pixel PNG with transparency enabled. Of course, as with the files from this blog site, Dreamweaver’s Design Mode rendering chewed up kernel mode time. The moment that the PNG background was removed, kernel mode time barely showed up in my Performance Monitor traces.

Adobe_ticket I called back and created a new free support ticket. This time, the support engineer spent a couple of hours on the phone with me. I let him record my desktop so that everything we did would be documented. We reproduced the kernel mode time spikes at least a dozen times. We created a new background graphic in JPG format – this does not support transparency and thus does not give me the visual effect I wanted – it also did not spike kernel mode time. The engineer then asked for research time; which I gladly granted.

Progress! An illusion that I was quickly disabused of when he called me back. "I cannot reproduce the problem here. Please upload your files so I can escalate this issue."

After the upload, the case went dead for nearly two weeks. Then I was called back by a new engineer. Clearly, the case had not yet been escalated because this time I was told that JPG and GIF are the standard image types that all web developers use.

This really angered me. Adobe Fireworks uses the PNG format natively! After arguing this point, she agreed to keep working on this issue. We recorded another movie of my desktop reproducing the problem repeatedly. We even downloaded the trial software for Dreamweaver CS5 just to test a different set of program files. What a waste of my time!

I generated a user mode dump of the Dreamweaver process from the Task Manager (a nice feature in Windows 7) and uploaded that to Adobe.

It has been 7 days since I last asked for an update (the Adobe support page promises follow-up in 24 hours).

Adobe technical support sucks!

What Is Wrong With Dreamweaver CS5?

In my previous post, I mentioned the disappointing performance of Dreamweaver CS5 while editing a site very similar in appearance to this blog page.

I like the aurora borealis look to the background and that you can still see that borealis behind the grey framing that holds the content of my blog. This effect is achieved by a single-pixel PNG graphic. As most web developers can tell you, it is possible to "stretch" a graphic to any given size. So this single-pixel grey image takes advantage of the transparency features of PNG and is stretched to make up the grey framing.

The framing itself is three <div> tags and the same PNG image is used as a background for each of them. When it is "layered" over itself twice, as in the postings content and right-side menus, it becomes a darker grey. But it still lets that borealis image appear through without obscuring the text.

I could not type text into the web site due to the performance issues with Dreamweaver. It took several dozen seconds for my words to render in the Design View. Interestingly, the Code View did not have any issues at all. That was an important clue.

perfmon_DWCS5_spikeI collected a Performance Monitor trace and capturing the Process and Processor objects while Dreamweaver was running. I noticed that as soon as I switched to the Design View of Dreamweaver after editing my Cascading Style Sheet to use the PNG image that the "% Privileged Time" for the Dreamweaver process spiked up to about 90% and held steady there for quite some time. You can see that spike in the picture to the left.

The "% Privileged Time" is also known as kernel mode time. Without getting too sidetracked, a Windows process has "user mode time" and "kernel mode time." User mode is the code written by the developers and kernel mode is calls made into Windows. So, to render my web site in Design Mode, Dreamweaver was making extensive calls into the Windows API.

This was not a problem with Dreamweaver CS3. So somewhere in the two versions since then, Adobe changed what they were doing within the Design Mode code. It was time to open a support case with Adobe…

My New Toy, My New Frustration…

CS5 One reason for my drop in posting this month is that I bought a new toy. I upgraded from my Adobe Web Standard CS3 to Web Premium CS5. I love the toolset around Dreamweaver for web work. Web Premium also gives me Photoshop and I was excited to have something new to learn.

I installed everything on my laptop at work and had a colleague walk me through some Photoshop settings and experiments. Amazing! I was blown away.

Then I installed CS5 at home and launched Dreamweaver on a local site I had begun in CS3. All my thrill and excitement evaporated. The performance sucked.

It sucked intolerably. An absolutely unusable product! What was wrong?

Of course, my career at Microsoft orbits the world of troubleshooting, so I began to dig in. You are – at this moment – looking at what caused the performance problem. My website was based off the same Cascading Style Sheet and graphics as this blog theme.

Little did I know, that I would end up facing the stress of calling Adobe Technical Support…

Always Missing Code

Code_The_Cat_09

Today is the fourth anniversary of losing Code. I’ll never forget that day and I miss her still. I wish that I could have had Code and Debug together. That would have been a blast.

I guess tonight, I’ll give Debug some extra cuddling and be grateful that I no longer live in an apartment building on the 18 floor…

Bicycling Around The World – Part 4

I am now at about four months of regular cycling – well three months technically since I spent nearly a month in Australia recently. Late last week, the distance radii that I was tracking in Streets & Trips 2010 intersected. Later this week, I expect to ride past the 1000 kilometres mark.

bikeDistance_All_Week_20From my old apartment in Etobicoke, I have ridden past Thunder Bay and up north past James Bay. To the south, I have passed Charlotte, North Carolina.

From my house in Irving, I am nearly all the way through the state of New Mexico and I have passed Omaha, Nebraska to the north.

I guess the next visual goals for this map is when each circle reaches the other’s center point.

Back To Blogging

While using the WordPress Admin page last week, it requested that I upgrade automatically to the newest version. That seemed like a reasonable ask; so I clicked the button that would perform the upgrade for me.

The operation timed-out. Afterward, both the blog and the Admin page began reporting script errors in the same PHP file on the server.

Two different online chat sessions with my hosting provider support did not help. Eventually, a support ticket was created and the necessary repair work completed.

I’m back!

Australia Vacation: A Winter Cold In Summer & Coming Home

I spent two days in Belmont (not far from Newcastle, New South Wales) visiting with my aunt and uncle. Vince drove me around part of the wine district. I would have bought a bottle or four but I wasn’t sure that they would survive the trip home.

I still have to post the last set of pictures to Flickr. My apologies for delaying but I have a good excuse. I managed to acquire my aunt’s winter cold. Although it didn’t manifest until I was back home in Dallas; it did take the wind out of my sails. The worst of it is over now – but I am still fighting off part of it.

I’ll update Flickr this weekend – I promise!

Props must go out to my uncle Mark in Vancouver. I’m sure the trip home would have killed me otherwise. My layover in YVR was about 15 hours long. Brutal! Fortunately, Mark and Maddona-Megera were able to take me back to their place (with a little sight-seeing through Stanley Park on the way). Being able to sleep in a bed for a few hours and have a shower before continuing to Toronto doubtlessly saved me. Thanks!

All in all, a great trip. I’m very glad that I got to meet up with friends and family again. I can hardly wait for my next jaunt Down Under.

Australia Vacation: Last Day In Yangebup

It was great to see dad and Delys again. Alas, all good things must come to an end. Late tonight, I am flying over Newcastle, New South Wales. I will be visiting my aunt’s family for two days before beginning the long trek back to Dallas.

I have a few more photos to upload to my Flickr set. I will wait until I get home though as the “broadband” here isn’t broad enough for me.

I cannot recommend an Australian visit to people highly enough. The weather is almost always beautiful; even the winter cold at the moment is tolerable to me. Whether you visit Sydney, Brisbane or Perth, there is plenty to see and do. My next trip will have to include Melbourne and Adelaide.

This has been a wonderful trip and I’m really glad to have come back for a little while. I will miss it here.

Australia Vacation: Margaret River, caves & Cape Leeuwin

Yesterday, I got back from a trip to the Margaret River region. What a place! No wonder it is such an expensive place to live… Wine, coffee, cattle, sheep, surfing and caves.

In the morning, my dad and I climbed through Mammoth Cave. In spite of the name, it is not the largest cave in area. This was a self-guided tour and we were given a device that could describe certain areas of the cave and provided some background geological information. The cave exit is through a doline – a sinkhole. I took a longer walk back to our car on the Marri Trail so I could appreciate more of the Australian flora in the region.

I followed Mammoth Cave with a climb into Lake Cave. Dad did not come along on this on account of all the stairs down into another doline; his legs were not up to it. This was a guided tour and a much smaller cave. The “lake” inside it is actually the stream that carved the cave out of the limestone, it is probably about 3 feet at its deepest. The suspended table formation was quite interesting.

It consists of two columns of calcite that are now supporting a flat “tabletop” above the surface of the water. Of course, this tabletop used to be on the floor of the cave, but the water has eroded that away over time. It is estimated to weigh about 6 tons.

4750722135_52a35f0451_b[1] Lake Cave also reveals the damage that humans can do to a cave system. Policy now commands no touching of any kind. In the picture to the left, you can see stalagmites that have become a dirty brown colour. New calcite deposits from dripping water have formed a clean white “frosting” over the top.

The brown discolouration comes from the oils and acids present in human skin. The part of Lake Cave where this was taken used to be beyond the tour catwalk; so people had to grab on to the rock to get further inside. Today, the catwalk has been extended all the way in to the deepest end – about sixty feet further than the suspended table.

The biggest cave in the Margaret River region is Jewel Cave. However, we did not explore this. Instead, we drove down to Augusta and Cape Leeuwin to tour the lighthouse there. I’m very glad to have seen this lighthouse! The calcified waterwheel is close to the lighthouse (it pumped water to the construction site for mixing with mortar) and is quite an interesting thing to see.

Cape Leeuwin - Where Two Oceans Meet

One aspect of this vacation that I never suspected would be seeing the Southern Ocean and the most southwestern portion of Australia. That is exactly what Cape Leeuwin is.

The international community commonly states that the Southern Ocean begins at 60 degrees latitude. This has yet to be ratified, so Australia puts forward the claim that the ocean is immediately south of the continent. As such, Cape Leeuwin is where the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean meet.

And the wind here! Unbelievable! Gale forces are common. Despite the stones of the lighthouse being 2 meters thick at the base and 1 meter thick at the top, the structure can still sway 1 centimeter.

After spending the night in Margaret River, we stopped in Bunbury. We visited Bunbury five years ago when I was last in West Australia. I took more photos this time, including some excellent shots of waves crashing on some basalt rocks. I also have pictures that will form a panorama from the top of Bunbury Tower; however, it will need to wait until I get home to process and upload it.

Australia Vacation: Week Two

I arrived in Perth, West Australia in the early afternoon of June 22nd. While here, I am staying at my father’s place in Yangebup (yan-je-bup) which is a short distance south of Perth itself.

For the first few days we puttered around town and got caught up on some errands that needed running. This downtime was helpful as the five hour flight from Brisbane was decidedly cramped and uncomfortable – though, once again, my Zune helped preserve my sanity.

We had a wonderful afternoon and evening with Mark and Narelle. I suppose you could say that Mark is my step-brother; using Aussie ocker, I prefer to call him “me mate.” Narelle and their two daughters participate in horse riding and they have dedicated a large part of their beautiful house to pastures and training areas.

The internet access speeds in Australia continue to be a major disappointment. The government recently inked a multi-billion dollar deal with the national monopoly Telstra. I hope this improves access for everyone across the country. This is one factor that would seriously give me pause about ever moving here permanently – I am used to throughput speeds probably 10 to 15 times faster.

Kalgoorlie And The Superpit

In the early morning of June 25th, Dad and I caught the Transwa Prospector train out to gold-mining town of Kalgoorlie. I have high praise for the train and the trip. You could hardly tell that you were on a train, the rails were really that smooth. It was only the last quarter or so as we approached Kalgoorlie that the familiar clickity-clack sound and motion of a train ride was noticable.

4740896951_4c3aaba723_b[1]The key draw here is the KCGM Superpit Tour. Gold was discovered here in 18xx and the region is still one of the biggest gold producing mines today.

The superpit simply must be seen in order to fully appreciate its immensity; even then, it takes several seconds for the size to sink in. It is 3 kilometers long, 1.5 kilometers wide and about 500 meters deep. That means it is deeper than the Empire State Building is tall and if the price of gold remains high there are plans to go at least another 100 meters deeper still.

4740929483_2ce38f75b4_b[1] Of course, the big trucks used to haul ore out of the pit are every bit as impressive as the hole itself. Interestingly, upwards of 41% of the truck drivers are women. In typical Aussie style, the sexist joke is that the women keep the trucks cleaner than the men and get hear when something is going wrong sooner.

Generally, only one truck out of seven loads is taking gold-bearing ore out for processing. The rest is waste. That one truck will carry about 260 tons of rock and will produce enough gold to create a nugget about the size of a golf ball.

The big trucks only move about 10 KPH coming out of the pit. In one 10-hour shift a driver will make about 30 trips.

West Australia Museum

4741047483_bb9bf6fc8f_b[1] For history buffs, the West Australia Museum is worth seeing too. You gain a deeper appreciation for the various forces that shaped this region. The entrance is dominated by an old mineshaft head that used to stand where the superpit is now being dug.

It was interesting to learn here that Australia helped shape Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Though not as significantly as the Galapagos Islands, the Beagle did sail to various Aussie ports as it made its way back to England. Darwin collected several plant and animal samples for the Royal Society from Australia.

Kalgoorlie wasn’t as lawless and the famed American West, but the huge influx of miners and incredible flow of riches did bring vice. Kalgoorlie still has three active brothels and these offer tours as part of their other services. Time constraints prevented me from taking the brothel tour (I swear, just the tour!) though.

Tomorrow we head south toward Bunbury. Much of the south-west coast of Australia is made up of coastal limestone; which has allowed some spectacular caves to form here. I am looking forward to this new adventure!

Australia Vacation: Week One

The first several days of my vacation in Australia were spent in my “home town” of Brisbane. Although I was born here, I honestly consider myself to be Canadian and Hamilton, Ontario to be my home town. That said, I did have a wonderful time with my younger sister and good friend Sebastian.

I stayed at the Ibis Hotel in the central business district. This was within walking distance to the Brisbane Botanical Gardens and the Queen Street Mall. My only complaint was the difficult and unbelievably expensive internet access at the hotel – I ended up using an internet cafe in the Mall to stay in touch with people. That stopped me from blog and Flickr updates until I reached my dad’s place in Perth.

4726819699_88f709c279_b[1] I have a Flickr set for this vacation. This set includes many pictures from my wandering around the Botanical Gardens, pictures from the Boeing 777 window as dawn broke and even a video of the banking over the Tasman Sea to line up with Sydney’s Kingsford Smith airport. I! would like to add the video of the Sydney airport landing, but its current form is too large for Flickr; I’ll try to find an editor that I can use once I get back to Texas.

Although I was too young to remember it – only a year and a half – the Gardens include a flood marker to commemorate the 1974 deluge.4726856263_db18532621_b[1] Three cyclones had dumped a huge amount of rain, leaving the ground thoroughly soaked and unable to absorb water. As the third downpour began, the tide came in…

Our family had just moved to the district of Enoggera. This was elevated, so we were unaffected.

Sebastian also works for Microsoft and he has planted the seed in my mind about moving here permanently. I have much to consider before committing to such a life-changing step. We’ll see!

Tomorrow morning, my dad and I are taking the train into the West Australia interior to visit the town of Kalgoorlie. There is a gold mine “super-pit” there that should be an incredible site. I’m really looking forward to this.

Airport Hopping

Day 1 of my vacation and I am still on the North American continent.

I woke up at 3am Central time to fly from Dallas to Toronto. From there, I flew to Edmonton and from Edmonton to Vancouver. It is now 10pm Central time and the biggest hop of my trip is still ahead of me.

It will be about 2am Central time when I board the Air Canada Boeing 777 for Sydney, Australia.

With luck, I can get some interesting photos from the plane windows over the Pacific ocean. I recall the incredibly display of stars at 33,000 feets in the middle of nowhere. I would love to have a permanent memory of that this time.

Vacation!

Woot! It is finally here!

Tomorrow morning, I begin a moderately epic journey for a month-long vacation in Australia. I am not looking forward to the 40-odd hours of travel time; but it will be worth it. If all goes to plan, I will be in Brisbane on June 17.

This means that I can take my sister out for her birthday. Meet-up with my chummer Sebastian (who now lives in Brisbane and works with Microsoft as a System Center Premier Field Engineer). Time should allow for visiting the Castlemaine Perkins brewery – the source of the wonderful XXXX beer – and taking the alehouse tour.

Most of the vacation will be spent in West Australia with my dad and his wife.SW_Australia We have plans to visit the gold mine at Kalgoorlie and hopefully head down to Albany to check out the tree top walk. I’m going to hang with my step-brother Mark and go fishing with him out in the Indian Ocean.

This little excursion comes at a price. I only get three-weeks of vacation at Microsoft. So I was working on Sundays and coming in on other days off to make up the difference. Totally worth it!

Naturally, I will keep my Flickr account and this blog up-to-date as often as possible.

Best of all, this will be a rather inexpensive trip. I cashed in on my Aeroplan points with Air Canada. So I am making skips from Dallas, to Toronto, to Edmonton, to Vancouver and finally to Sydney. From Sydney, I’m grabbing a Virgin Blue flight up to Brisbane.

I am so glad that I am loading up my Zune with ripped movies and great songs!