Nice error message, Microsoft

We're sorry, but your password couldn't be changed. Code: 0x8007052d

What does this mean? It took me a bit of experimentation, but I figured it out. Windows Ten has, believe it or not, a maximum password length. (That's not a typo. I don't mean a minimum. That would actually make sense.) It has two maximum password lengths, actually.

The above error message is what you get if you exceed the longer length limit of 63, when changing the password at some point after the account is set up or, at any rate, after the computer is set up. (I haven't tested what the rules are for additional accounts you create later.)

So what's the shorter limit? 20. When you turn on your computer for the first time and create an account and enter a password, you must enter a password that is 20 characters or shorter. There's nothing on the account creation screen to indicate this, and no warning if you exceed it. Everything seems to go fine, in fact, until you later try to log in, at which point you can't. (This can, of course, be solved in the usual ways. So much fun.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I have an urgent need to go install a real operating system. Immediately.

Screenshots: NetHack Fourk

These screenshots are for NetHack Fourk version, which is being released today.

When Sheryl Ran for Granted

It started on a Tuesday,
I remember that much now,
When Sheryl ran for granted.
She never really did say,
But we heard her anyhow,
When Sheryl ran for granted.

When Sheryl ran for granted,
     before two, after three,
When Sheryl ran for granted,
     over you, and under me,
When Sheryl ran for granted,
     feeling trapped, feeling free,
When Sheryl ran for granted,
     we were there, you and me,
When Sheryl ran for granted.

We had a lot of backers,
They poured in by the dozen,
When Sheryl ran for granted.
Some of us were slackers,
But the diligent were chosen,
When Sheryl ran for granted.

When Sheryl ran for granted,
     day by day, thick and thin,
When Sheryl ran for granted,
     'twas the way, that was then,
When Sheryl ran for granted,
     child's play, kith and kin,
When Sheryl ran for granted,
     what she'd say, how we'd win,
When Sheryl ran for granted.

Surprises kept on coming,
So much was unexpected,
No one foresaw the end.
Sheryl just kept on running,
She was so underrated,
It was such a mighty trend.

When Sheryl ran for granted,
     all as one, none alone,
When Sheryl ran for granted,
     what a run, in the zone,
When Sheryl ran for granted,
     she was the one, our backbone,
When Sheryl ran for granted,
     it was fun, the world to own,
When Sheryl ran for granted.

Pear Cake

Note that, for this to be any good, you must use proper canned pears. Do not go to the grocery store and buy flavorless so-unripe-they-are-crunchy canned pears. Ever. Nothing good can come from that.

Cake Ingredients:
1 quart of home-canned pears (in light syrup, ideally).
1.5 cups of (granulated white) table sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. vanilla flavoring or extract
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
Glaze Ingredients:
all the juice/syrup from the pears
plus any excess blended pears (see instructions)
1/2 cup sugar
2 TBSP cornstarch
1/4 tsp. pear extract (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla (optional)

Open the pears and pour the juice off into a saucepan, allowing the pears to drain well. (Not only do you want the juice for the glaze, you also don't want too much liquid in the cake.) Place the pears themselves in the blender and puree them, then divide the results: use up to 2 and 7/8 cups of the pear puree for the cake and whatever remains (if any) in the glaze. (If there isn't any pear puree left for the glaze, that's ok. The juice is enough.)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Combine the larger portion of the pear puree with the sugar and eggs and beat until foamy, then beat in the oil and milk. Stir the dry ingredients together and then add them to the pear mixture. Beat until smooth. Fold in the raisins (if desired). Pour into a bundt pan. Bake at 350F for about 50 minutes (depending on your oven). When it's almost done, start the glaze (below). Let the finished cake cool in its pan for 5-10 minutes, then invert it onto a plate. Spoon glaze over the top while they are both still hot. If you get the top of the cake coated and a decent amount dripping down the sides and there is still glaze left, it can be spooned over individual slices while it lasts.

Glaze Instructions:

To make the glaze, combine the pear juice, the remaining pear puree (if any), the 1/2 cup of sugar, and the cornstarch in the saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it thickens up. When you are just about ready to spoon the glaze over the cake, stir in the extract.

Big Rocks.

This photo was taken on the Cup and Saucer hiking trail east of Kagawong.

Sault Ste Marie

This is a photo of the bridge over the St. Marys river, taken from a lookout point on the campus of Lake Superior State University in the UP.

Crystal Falls, Kinsman Park, north of Sault Ste. Marie

Bridal Veil Falls, Kagawong

Ok, now that my Big Annual Thing is safely underway, I should probably start posting some photos from my vacation in June. Here's one from the falls in Kagawong.

Vacation Observations: on Currency

I just got back last night from a nine-day vacation trip with my sister. Yes, yes, photos will be forthcoming at some point. Meanwhile, a few observations. Tonight I'm going to focus on the currency.

  • There are some things I like about Canadian currency...
    • When you're counting it, you never worry that two bills are stuck together. That's basically impossible, because of how slick they are. I am not using the word slick for its colloquial meaning here: the bills are quite physically slippery. This feels really weird to me: they don't feel like US bills, that's for sure. But it's nice not to have to triple-check that you don't have two bills stuck together.
    • I could get used to the color coding. It looks weird at first, but it's pragmatically reasonable. You don't easily mistake a red fifty for a blue five or vice versa. Most of the colors were a bit stronger than they would really need to be, so yes, it kind of does look like Monopoly money if you're not accustomed to it (more subdued colors would still be easy to tell apart at a glance), but on the whole I think I like the coloring.
    • If you'd told me that I would like not getting pennies back (they round everything to the nearest nickel if you pay in cash), I'd have said you were crazy. But with the large pocketfuls of change that I was accumulating as it was (more on this below), I really really didn't need pennies too.
    • I didn't accumulate that many nickels and dimes either. Prices seemed to often work out to multiples of $.25. Maybe this was my imagination, but I don't think so. I think places of business deliberately set their prices so that with tax, the final price you pay comes out to a decently round number. This is in stark contrast to our American system where practially every single thing is priced to require pennies, nickels, _and_ dimes to each be involved somehow. (Our prices start at figures like $24.99, so you'd think oh, you just get one penny back, no big deal; but with tax, it doesn't work out that way.)
  • There are also a couple of things I dislike about Canadian currency.
    • Canadian currency does not stack nicely. Americans can take a big stack of bills, fold the entire stack in half down the middle, and conveniently store the whole thing in a pocket or wallet. This, as near as I can tell, is fundamentally impossible to do with Canadian bills. The slickness (mentioned above) may be a contributing factor, but I think the big issue is that the bills are so stiff, you can't fold two or more of them together and get them to fold in the same place. They won't both fold down the middle. Maybe one of them will, but then the other will fold in a different place, perhaps a third or a quarter of the bill's length from the end. So even with a small stack, say, six or eight bills, you end up with a pocket full of individual bills that are each folded differently and won't stack together well, so when you pull them out you feel like you're pulling out a fistful of random scraps of differently-shaped colored plastic, each unique. It's a big fat mess.
    • Did I mention that I accumulated huge piles of coins all the time and then proceed to say that I got no pennies and few nickels or dimes? Yes, I believe I did say both of those things, and they are both true. So yeah, I tended to accumulate a lot of quarters, but also, there are all these one- and two-dollar coins. Bazillions of them. When traveling in Canada, you must discipline yourself to spend coins on practically every transaction, out of self defense, or else your pockets will be so full of heavy coins as to pull your pants down. It's crazy. If you buy something that comes to $12.50 with tax and you hand them a twenty, you may get back six coins as your change and no bills whatsoever. They don't even have one-dollar bills, and they don't always use five-dollar bills when they could, probably because their cash drawers are all brimming with huge piles of giant two-dollar coins that they need to give out in order to make space in the drawer. This happens with every transaction, so let's say you start out with a single $50 bill. When you break it, you get back maybe a twenty, a ten, and coins. When you spend the ten, you usually just get back coins. When you break the twenty, maybe you get back a bill (maybe a five, maybe a ten) and coins. And when you spend the last bill, you certainly get back nothing but coins. So from a single $50 bill you can easily end up with more than $20 in coins. About halfway through the trip I finally got myself trained to spend the coins and divested myself, one way or another, of all of my large ones. (Have you ever paid for a more-than-ten-dollar purchase entirely in coins? I have, and the cashier didn't bat an eye. I'm sure people do it all the time up there.) Then I realized I might need a couple of coins for a parking meter at some point, so for one day I stopped spending coins, not realizing how much overkill this was. One day does not sound like that long to go without spending coins, but have a look at the result:
    • Also, you need a lot more of it, because things are very much more expensive in Canada. The exchange rate may be a contributor here (At the time of this writing, one US dollar is worth somewhere between $1.20 and $1.25 Canadian), but that does not fully explain the prices we saw everywhere, at every point along the spectrum from rural (think: population 300 and at least 30 minutes' drive from the nearest gas station) to highly urban (Yonge Street, Toronto). Even taking exchange rates into account, your money does not go as far in Canada. I am not exaggerating when I say that I paid $2.50 (Canadian) for a Sprite refill. (Pop is one of the worst things. Almost nobody in Canada has fountain pop. They use bottles and cans and mark them WAY up. We did stop at a McDonald's that had fountain pop, in Orangeville. This makes McDonald's _by far_ the most affordable place we found to buy cold drinks in Canada, and it was still more than at McDonald's in the US, where they're known for charging too much. The second-cheapest, ounce for ounce, was Freshmart in Manitowaning, where I paid something like $3 for a half gallon of chocolate milk.)
  • Finally, one observation is neither a like nor a dislike, just something I noticed: it pays to shop around a bit on exchange rates. The Duty Free in Sault Ste Marie offered me $1.14 Canadian for every $1 US, and ten minutes later at the Visitor's Center just across the border I got $1.17. Three cents on the dollar may not sound like much, but if you're changing a couple of thousand, it adds up. A few days later, the Scotia Bank in Fort Erie, where I changed my leftover money back, was paying $1.19 Canadian for $1 US. (The theoretically perfect rate at the time would have been something like $1.23, but of course you can't actually get that. Note that these numbers will not be useful for comparison if you take a trip some day in the future, because the exchange rate gradually drifts up and down over time. It pays to look up the going rates when you are preparing to go change your currency.)

So there you go, Canadian currency in a nutshell.