Archive for June, 2007

List of Filenames from a Directory in Text Format

There have been occassions where I want a list of filenames in a directory, sometimes to use as a checklist as I worked with the files.  I remember a few times I actually took screenshots of a Windows Explorer window in various stages of scrolling and printed those out.  I also remember a few times where I handwrote the names on a sheet of paper.

That was well before I was taught much better ways by kind Craig Highsmith of Pennsylvania.  One method he demonstrated was through SnagIt.  But his DOS prompt method is more readily accessible:

1) Drop to DOS prompt (Start->Run; cmd)
2) Change to the directory you wish to get a text-based file listing (via cd commands)
3) Run “dir *.* /b >>fileListing.txt

/b puts the directory listing into “Bare Mode”– it will only show the filenames and you won’t see dates modified and file sizes and all that jazz.  The >>fileListing.txt tells it to place the results in a text file named, you’ve guessed it, “fileListing.txt”  That file will be in the same directory you are querying.  You open it up and howdy ho, there are the file names in text format.  You can paste them in Excel, print them out, email them or whatever suits you.

It’s a much more flexible technique than my home-grown screenshot approach!  😉

June 20, 2007 at 2:22 pm 24 comments

MAILTO: Link from a VB6 App

Well, hopefully I won’t be working in Visual Basic 6 enough to need to use this again.  But– just in case. 

I was working in an executable application written in Visual Basic 6.  I wanted a particular click to work just like a “MAILTO:” link does in a web browser.  Since I primarily work in web applications I knew exactly how to do it with the simpliest of HTML syntax, but wasn’t sure how to do it through an application. 

Turned out to be super easy– make a ShellExecute call with MAILTO:emailaddress as the filename.  In fact if you go to the Start->Run and type in MAILTO: and the email address, it will do the same thing– start an email to that individual.

Declaring ShellExecute Function

Private Declare Function ShellExecute Lib “shell32.dll” _
    Alias “ShellExecuteA” (ByVal hWnd As Long, _
    ByVal lpOperation As String, ByVal lpFile As String, _
    ByVal lpParameters As String, ByVal lpDirectory As String, _
    ByVal nShowCmd As Long) As Long

Using ShellExecute Function

stat = ShellExecute(0, “Open”, filename, vbNullString, vbNullString, 1)

P.S. Just like the MAILTO: link through HTML, you can define other parameters like subject lines and such.  I just needed email yesterday.

June 20, 2007 at 1:30 pm 6 comments

Relay for Life 2007

The Relay went well this year.  With $241, I earned pretty much the same amount as last year.  But, I did dust my walking distance!  This year I did 20.5 miles.  I started walking a little after 8 PM and hit twenty miles at 4:29 AM.  There were eating breaks in there and I took an extended break to watch the Mr. Relay pageant at midnight.  I’m still as amused as ever at men dressing up as women and dancing around to Sir Mix A Lot and Right Said Fred.

Our team’s overnight presence was pretty lack luster.  We had a few no-shows and a lot of people who had to go out of town.  It was just me and another girl, Jenny, holding down the fort in the wee hours of the morning.  Usually we have a whole group and around 5 or 6 when fatique really sets in, suddenly my stories seem like the funniest things in the world to at least one of those tired teammates.  I missed out on that perk, but Jenny and I still had a good time quoting lines from The Office and comforting each other when the DJ played a country western version of the Macarana (immediately after playing the original version of the song– it was a painful double dose).

This year marks the first time I’ve gotten yelled at the Relay for Life.   Jonathan C and I were doing laps when it was luminary time (circa 9:30 PM).  They made an announcement that it was time for silence and reflection and they asked kids to not play games on the track.  They turned off the stadium lights and Jonathan and I walked briskly around the track, our passage lit by an uninterrupted line of luminaries.  The only sounds were our own footsteps and a lone bagpipe player in the distance.  It was indeed a great time for reflection. 

And suddenly the moment came to a screeching halt.

“HEY!” A woman yelled, “You’re not supposed to be walking right now!!!!”

At first I was miffed.  The restriction was playing on the track.  Then I looked ahead of us and I looked behind us.  There was a distinct lack of silhouettes in either direction.  Jonathan and I were the *only* people on the track.  We slowed our stride and snuck on to the grass.  Then it was Jonathan’s turn to be miffed.  He pointed out that the woman didn’t have to shout– she could have tapped our shoulders or something.  I think he’s on to something.  Yelling during a moment of silence is probably more offensive than quietly walking.

Despite the yelling and the lack of dreadfully tired people to laugh at my stories, I still have a wonderful time.  Thanks to all who helped support the event!

June 19, 2007 at 10:38 pm 4 comments

The Beauty of Imperfection

Here are two pictures of a sunset two weeks ago from my deck.


I think it is funny that when people describe a perfect day they say, “Great!  Not a cloud in the sky!”  It’s the imperfections that really add beauty to the sky, particularly with the sunset.  You need dust particles in the air and clouds to amplify the colors and make the sunset truely spectacular.  You need the “flaws” for it to be stunning. 

The same things go for musicians.  My favorite part of the Nirvana Unplugged album is the third verse of Pennyroyal Tea when Kurt Cobain starts a bit off pitch and corrects it.  It adds character to that version of the song.  Singers like Louis Armstrong, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen (when he was old) have far from “perfect” voices, but belt out beautiful performances nonetheless.

Sometimes, I guess, it is the flaws that really make something beautiful.

June 19, 2007 at 10:13 pm 3 comments

A Couple of Couples Who Are Engaged

This week two couples I know got engaged!  June is a big month for weddings… apparently proposals too!  Congratulations to the following couples:

Emily and Cory
Cory is Sean’s brother, humorous and compassionate, and Emily is a purely beautiful person inside and out.  They are both very active and enjoy the outdoors.  Already they have an admirable repertoire of adventures– and their lives together are just beginning!  It is reported that Sean’s mother was so excited at the news that she hurt herself while celebrating!

Emily and Cory at Tinker Cliffs Last Fall

Louise and Stacy
Stacy has been a friend of mine since high school and Louise has been a steadfast friend of his for years.  And then they fell in love!  You only have to look at the captions on their respective Flickr sites to see the strong affection they have for each other.  It so apparent, in fact, that even a stranger (my friend Ann) marveled at how touching it is!  Stacy and Louise’s wedding website is at

Louise and Stacy Somewhere I Haven’t Been

I’m going to have to start thinking of some good wedding gifts.  I wonder if I can get away with four more pairs of SmartWool socks!  😉

June 14, 2007 at 8:44 pm 1 comment

Mount Rogers Trip – Route, Equipment, Meals…Face Scrubs

Here are some details about our hike last weekend, particularly our route and some of the items we had along.

We took the same route as our day hike last year:

  • From Massie Gap Parking Lot in Grayson Highlands State Park, we took the AT Spur Trail up to the Appalachian Trail (0.8 miles)
  • We went Southbound on the AT, past Rhododendron Gap, through Fatman Squeeze Tunnel and to Pine Mountain Trail (2.7 miles)
  • We walked down Pine Mountain Trail to Lewis Fork Trail (~1 mile)
  • We turned right on Lewis Fork Trail and camped on Lewis Fork between Pine Mountain Trail and Crest Trail (neglible). 
  • It was a great campsite– there was a spring right across from us.

    The next day we returned the same route because someone thought he dropped his cell phone on the way up.  Hint– my LG EnV was with me and Jimmie, being a dog, doesn’t own a phone.  🙂  It turns out the cell phone was not along the AT (aka The White Trail).  It was safe and sound in the car at the parking lot.

    I got to try out a bunch of new goodies and some old standbys this trip!  Here are some items worth highlighting:

    Extreme 55 From The North Face
    My friend Jennie lent me this pack for the trip.  It was quite sufficient for my needs– I had plenty of room.  Inside I was able to fit my stove, my tent, clothing layers, food, nearly 6 liters of liquids (I’m cautious about water– I have to worry about me and Jimmie) and still had ample room.  I originally wished I could have sinched the pack slightly tighter on the waist, but that turned out not to be a hinderance at all.

    Hubba Tent From MSR
    Jimmie and I finally got to use the new one-person tent outside of our yard.  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.  We loved it.  It weighs roughly 3 pounds, so it is quite good for a wussy ascender like me.  Easy to put up, even easier to take down.  And we had plenty of room.  I had my area, Jimmie had his and we still had extra room (I’m 5″ 5′ and Jimmie sleeps in a little ball, so we may not be the normal occupants).  I found the mesh pockets on the sides super convenient for small item storage and most importantly– keeping my glasses out of harm’s way.

    Pocket Rocket from MSR
    This little thing RULED.  It weighs about 3 ounces (plus 4 ounces for the ISO Pro fuel canister) and it seemed like it boiled water almost instantaneously!  I ended up using it to boil water for three meals and still have quite a bit of fuel left.

    Beef Stroganoff ProPak from Mountain House
    This was my first dinner Saturday night.  I thought it was delicious.  It’s vacuumed packed, so it didn’t up much room in my pack and it was very easy to make (just add boiling water).  Now, that particular night, I also happened to eat chicken, corn on the cob, a baked potato, zucchini and squash, two toasted marshmellows and two smores.  But…I think I would have been pretty content with just the stroganoff if the other stuff wasn’t so readily available.  🙂

    PolarPure Water Purification Tablets
    Courtesy of Tony Airaghi– this is what we used to treat our spring water.  It was very easy to measure and very convenient to carry and use.  And I thought the water tasted great.  I didn’t notice any kind of bad taste from the iodine components.

    Flavor Fresh Albacore Tuna Packets from StarKist
    This isn’t a new item for me.  It’s been a staple of my day hikes for a couple of years now.  Bill and I took advantage of their 7 ounce packets for lunch both Saturday and Sunday.  They travel well, are easy to open and full of protein.  Can’t beat their convenience.

    SmartWool Hiking Socks (Medium Weight)
    I finally did it!  After purchasing 3 pairs for SmartWool socks for other people as gifts (even once off someone’s wedding registry!), I finally splurged on myself.  I can see why there is so much hype about them.  I found them to be extremely comfortable…and comforting.

    Exfoliating Clean Sweep Cucumber Cleansing Towelettes from Pond’s
    A few years ago, I bought this “instant shower” stuff designed for camping.  It was pretty much moist sponges in a resealable packet you use to wipe your body.  I didn’t like them.  They left a sticky residue and they dried up after the first usage (the resealable package’s seal wasn’t quite airtight). 

    This time on a whim, I packed this Pond’s item from our medicine cabinent.  It has proven resealable capabilities– I’ve had it for some time and the little towelettes are as moist as ever.  They also have proven cleaning capabilities– When Sean first broke his foot this winter, this *was* his shower until he got his real cast (oh and his cast condom).

    I used two on this backpacking trip and found them to be quite refreshing.  I used them mostly as designed on my face, but then used the leftover moisture to wipe down the rest of my body.

    June 13, 2007 at 11:02 pm 2 comments

    Not Looking Good For the Dads

    As a quick followup to my unscientific Father’s Day experiment, it is not looking good for you fathers out there.  I hadn’t seen a single hit from people searching for “Father’s Day” or “Father’s Day cards”.  On the other hand, I have seen quite a few for “fat naked man.”  So I guess if you are a father and you happen to be naked and you are also overweight, then the Internet is still showing you some love.  🙂

    June 13, 2007 at 3:37 pm 5 comments

    Pep-see ya! vs. Thagomizer

    In college, I tried to coin a new farewell phrase.  Being a big Pepsi fan, I thought one should say, “Pep-see ya!” when parting ways.  It was an endorsement for a delicious soda and a goodbye all wrapped into one.  What could be better? 

    Brace yourself for this shocker– “Pep-see ya!” did not, I repeat did not, catch on.  It turns out the phrase is a bit on the dorky side.  I didn’t even say it very long myself.  In fact, I think the only person who still uses the phrase is Aaron Evans and he only uses it for mockery purposes.  As far as introducing a new vocabulary word, I have failed miserably.

    The cartoonist, Gary Larson, on the other hand, has had much greater success!  This month’s Discover magazine revealed the origins of the noun “thagomizer“.  The word actually originates from a The Far Side cartoon that was published in 1982:

    “Now, this end is called the thagomizer … after the late Thag Simmons”


    Now the word is the official term for the spikes at the end of a stegosaurus’ tail!  It’s been used in speeches, reference books and even in Smithsonian Musuem exhibits.

    Not bad.  Well…for a word that lacks the irresistable ring of “Pep-see ya!”  🙂

    June 12, 2007 at 1:11 pm 2 comments

    The White Trail

    A few years ago I went hiking with my younger brother.  I’ve always found Jay to be wise beyond his years and he has taught me a number of things through the years.  We were probably about 4-5 miles in our journey when Jay decided to share another lesson.

    “Hey Vicky,” he said, “Did you know there is a hiking trail that goes all the way from Maine to Georgia?”

    “Yeah,” I said, “You’re on it!”  🙂

    Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area have so many different trails of varying colored blazes, it seems many of the hikers fall in the same category as my brother.  They may have heard of the AT, but they are oblivious they are actually on it and are unaware of its enormity.  They simply refer to it as “The White Trail.”

    I’ve had professional encounters where my vocabulary is slightly different from the customer.  For example, with document control– I may use the phrase “approve the document” where the customer uses the phrase, “authorizes the document.”  On those occassions, I try to adopt their terms for the rest of the meeting.  With a common language between us, they can focus on real issues and questions instead of trying to decipher my word choices.  It’s a technique that I found myself using at Mount Rogers as well.

    Bill and I were resting on some rocks when a group of men came up the hill.  We asked where they were going and it turned out Mount Rogers Summit (the tallest point in Virginia) was their destination.  After a brief discussion the group decided to continue on their way.  Only the lead guy started to tromp past me and Bill, completely missing his switchback. 

    “How are you getting to summit?  The Appalachian Trail?” I asked.

    “What?” the misguided man replied.  He looked at me as if I was delirious with dehydration.

    “Oh, uh…” I said, “The White Trail goes that way.”

    And suddenly recognition registered in his eyes.  I was speaking his language.

    Jimmie waits where the hikers should have turned

    Sure, I guess in the long run the semantics don’t matter much.  Afterall, the scenery is just as beautiful whether you call it the “Appalachian Trail” or “The White Trail.”  A trail by any other name is just as stunning?  Well, I’m not quite sure.  I think the latter name lacks a little in spirit.  There is something inspiring and maybe even a tad romantic knowing that the trail you are on extends for thousands of miles and has a history just as long. 

    There is just something special about being on the Appalachian Trail.

    June 12, 2007 at 12:26 am 3 comments

    Mount Rogers Pictures Up

    Bill C, Jimmie and I had a great time with our backpacking trip.  The rhododendrons were in full bloom and we had perfect weather!  I hope to write more later, but for now Mount Rogers Hiking pictures can be found on my Flickr site.  Some of my favorites:

    Off of Crest Trail

    A pony greets salty Bill

    Rhodo buds off of AT at Wilburn Ridge

    Rhodo bush with rhodo-covered hillside in the background

    Herd of ponies at Massie Gap

    View from a rock at Rhododendron Gap.  It looks like trees standing in a pink stream.

    Looking northbound on the AT at Massie Gap

    Jimmie on a rock.  A rhododendron covered hillside in the background

    June 11, 2007 at 1:09 pm 5 comments

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