Photoshop lags opening files when your default printer is a network printer

At home and at work I’ve had this problem where Photoshop freezes for about 60 seconds whenever I go to open a file (7 at home; CS2 at work–both versions do it). Even a tiny 32×32 pixel file will lag opening. After my tenth productivity hang today I finally decided to track the problem down, and it’s not at all what I would have suspected: network printers. If your default printer is a network printer Photoshop will take longer to open files. And if your PC can’t connect to the printer for whatever reason it takes even longer. I frequently turn my network printer off at home, and at work I’ve got a ton of network printer profiles I don’t even use anymore, the default one being invalid. The workaround for me is to make my default printer at home a FILE: printer. Lame.

I don’t entirely blame Photoshop on this… even the Printer Control Panel can’t figure out if a printer is connected or not until you go to access it. But couldn’t they push whatever this printer thing is doing into a thread, so at least you can keep working?

This week in petroleum

Woke up to a shock this morning–we use propane to heat the living room in our house, and the propane bill showed we were being charged a whopping $2.75/gallon… at least a $0.60/gallon increase from the last bill I remember looking at. To find out if this was a reasonable price I did some searching and came across the Energy Information Administration’s This week in Petroleum website that tracks propane prices across the country. I guess things could be worse, the website shows for the week ending 12/17/07 the average price of propane in New England was $2.93/gallon.

But propane prices aren’t that interesting to blog about. [no offense] What jumped out at me on the site was this little graph that compared petroleum exploration investment to actual increases in petroleum reserves. Basically, there appears to be no correlation:

We’ve been spending more on petroleum exploration every year since 2000 but we haven’t seen anything come of it. Granted, the website says there may be reason for this: “It sometimes takes years from the start of exploration before oil is discovered and then designated as ‘proved’ reserves. Also, higher costs for raw materials and drilling rigs mean that some of the additional spending went into just maintaining what companies were already doing.

Pay no attention to that last sentence about petroleum exploration dollars going towards maintaining existing systems… Instead, take this information with the recent energy bill that passed congress, where: “nearly half of House Republicans condemned the legislation as a ‘No Energy Bill’ because it lacked expanded access to new oil and gas exploration“.

But according to the EIA website the results of new gas exploration has gained traction “only two of the previous 17 years.” One would conclude that the money we’re putting into new gas exploration isn’t bearing fruit! So why then would House Republicans push for putting more money into exploration?

Sacramento police agree to be advertising schlocks for local businesses

According to the Associated Press, police in Sacramento rounded up gift certificates from local businesses and are pulling people over while driving to hand them out. Apparently this is to “promote the holiday spirit and enhance goodwill between the traffic unit and the motoring public,” and to, erm, avoid doing real police work perhaps?

I wonder what the hourly cost of a patrol car is, and how much it really costs to pull someone over. I doubt it’s cheap. For every silly little $5 Starbucks gift card they’re handing out they’re probably burning $50-250 taxpayer dollars. (and then there’s the lost opportunity cost of catching someone during that time who was actually breaking the law…)

Microsoft quietly changes terms of Windows Feedback Program

Yesterday, many websites reported that Microsoft was going to be offering a free copy of Windows Vista to users who signed up for the Windows Feedback Program and participated for 3 months. I went to check it out myself today but found no trace of anything “free” on their website.

A quick search for found the original wording that appearing on their site yesterday. They must have removed it after they hit their target numbers:

What about the free product?
If you are a Windows Vista or Windows XP user and decide to join and participate in both programs, we will send you a free Microsoft product when you participate in the program. Limit one gift per person. This offer is non-transferable. This offer expires on 12/31/07, while supplies last, and is not redeemable for cash. Taxes, if any, are your sole responsibility.

It would be nice to at least say, “free gift no longer available”. But this is the Internet! Who cares!?