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August 28, 2009

How To: Fix Zune "Device Cannot Start" Error | Posted at 3:10 PM

This problem, for me, was caused by using a USB hub connected to my computer. This did not provide enough power for the Zune so Windows notified me that the device could not start.

To fix it, simply plug the USB cable from the Zune directly into the back of your computer's USB ports as those should have enough power.

That worked for me.

(I am running Windows 7 64-bit (x64))

August 25, 2009

This Summer: Not So Awesome Weather-wise [Historical Data] | Posted at 11:30 AM

I don't know about you but I was not a big fan of this summer's weather patterns. Lots of rain, storms, not as much sun, etc. I was interested to know how this summer compared to past summer's, so I naturally hopped onto Weather.gov to find some historical maps (numbers are cool and all but they are harder to interpret).


The first piece of data that interested me was how precipitation has changed over the years. Once you look at the maps below, it actually appears that this summer has had less rain than last summer. In fact, it seems like every other year there seems to be crazy amounts of precipitation.

June 2005

Picture 1

June 2006

Picture 2

June 2007

Picture 3

June 2008

Picture 4

June 2009

Picture 5    

So, what it appears (at least for June) is that this year is less than last year in terms of rain but 2006 was by far the least amount of rain.

The rain, however, isn't what gets at me so much as the lack of sun. What kind of maps can we find relating to cloud cover?


Unfortunately I could not find any historical radar data or maps relating to cloud cover. However, using the daily weather observations for the Twin Cities, I was able to get monthly weather reports and in them there is a section that specifies how many days were clear, partly cloudy, and cloudy.

I put the 3-month data for years 2006-2009 into Excel and generated some simple line charts.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4 

Picture 5


What kind of things can we see here? Well, there seems to be a common trend of usually more clear skies in July, however we can see that this summer is an exception with a particular low number of clear skies (the purple bar in the last chart). An interesting observation is also that this July has had the most partly cloudy skies compared to previous summers.

Last July saw zero cloudy skies which was the lowest compared to July 2007 which had the most.

The last chart makes it very apparent that this summer is a bit lacking in sunshiny days (during July and August). What a bummer! Hopefully next summer will be a bit more friendly.

August 24, 2009

+5 Bones to ZipCar [Customer Service] | Posted at 9:33 AM

Bones refers to an inside joke some friends and I have, it is a currency of "awesome" doled out to people we know. You don't want negative bones.

When I signed up for ZipCar, they automatically decided to send my ZipCard to my credit card billing address. This is understandable but not ideal since that's my permanent address and not my current address.

An email to ZipCar plus a phone call (they let you leave inquiries relating to your application) and a rep just emailed me saying its on its way to my apartment. Well played, chaps!

Once I get it, expect more updates on my ZipCar experience.

August 19, 2009

Windows 7 RTM Available to MSDN-AA Students | Posted at 2:02 PM

Just so you know, if you are apart of the U's MSDN-AA (MSDN Academic Alliance) program, the RTM was approved by my friend just last week. It's Windows 7 Professional (32 & 64-bit editions).

I have installed Windows 7 RC on my desktop, laptop, brother's desktop, and my dad installed the RTM on his laptop. I plan on installing it on my other laptop as well. I love Windows 7.

Zippity Doo Da [ZipCar] | Posted at 1:56 PM

Join Zipcar and get $50 in free driving!

So, I am going to try this new ZipCar thing. I have a car at home but since parking fees are atrocious here at the U, it does not make a lot of sense to keep it around here. Worst case scenario has me taking the bus home and then I can get the car. With ZipCar, I hopefully will not have to do that… I think it will be useful for going to Target/Uptown/etc. for trips and then I can take my own car for longer trips.

I will record my experience with the cars here once I get approved. Since I turned 21 this last year, they needed information on my previous license. If you didn't write down your DL# previously, you'll need to either send in a Driver Record Request form or visit a DVS location. I had mine written down so I was in luck (though before I found it, I had already sent the $9 to DVS with the form by snail mail… oh well), otherwise it may have taken another week in addition to the time they usually take.

My logic in joining ZipCar was that: a) $30/year, how can you go wrong? and b) easy access to big stores for groceries, etc. I am in Yudof this year so food is my responsibility, that is one of the big reasons I chose to try this out. Plus, I can use it to go out on the town every once in a blue moon, maybe try some new restaurants around here (it takes like 1.5 hours to get to Jax Cafe by bus).

I am only worried about making the reservations and how many other people are using it around here. I can see myself reserving a week in advance. I'll let you know how it goes.