As many of my readers know, I have a lot going on right now. We’re expecting our first child, Catherine, in May!

Face 2 Color - fixed

Profile - fixed

Meanwhile, my wife and I are selling our current house in Houston later this week and moving to a Houston suburb (more house, less money, good times). Things are a little busy.

That said, I am going to try to post here a lot more frequently. After all, I started this blog almost 14 years ago, back when “blog” was barely a word, and not one I’d ever heard before. Feel free to hold my feet to the fire! I really want to make more use of this space.

Want to follow what’s going on here? Subscribe by filling in the box on the left, and I’ll keep you posted!

TAMES Search Bookmarklet for Searching Texas Cases

I have created a little bookmarklet for searching for Texas cases in the Courts of Appeals and Supreme Court. A bookmarklet, if you’re not familiar with that term, is a “smart bookmark” that does some action when you use it. It’s actually a little program, so you can do pretty handy things with bookmarklets.

How this Bookmarklet Works

When you select a case number (e.g., “01-02-00345-CV”) and click on the bookmarklet, a new window will open with the TAMES case page for the case number in question. In my example, that would be this page.  So, for example, you can highlight the case number in Westlaw, then click this bookmarklet, and it will open a new window with the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court page (as appropriate) for the case. This makes it easy to check petition/writ history, motions for rehearing, and the like.


  • Works with all Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Texas cases. It doesn’t work with the Court of Criminal Appeals, which uses a different website structure than the other courts.
  • Understands sloppy highlighting. For example, it’s okay if you highlight “No. 01-02-00345-CV.”  The “No. ” and trailing “.” will be ignored.
  • Understands en-dashes. For example, it automatically converts “01–02–00345–CV” to “01-02-00345-CV”.
  • Automatically fixes “incomplete” numbers.  For example, it automatically converts “1-2-345-CV” into “01-02-00345-CV”.
  • If you haven’t selected anything or if what you have selected isn’t a valid case number, it takes you to the main TAMES search page.

How to Use It

Here is the link to the bookmarklet: TAMES Case Search

For instructions on how to add it to your browser (at least for Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Opera), please see the instructions on this page. In general, you should just be able to drag the link above to your bookmarks toolbar.

Source Code

For those who are interested, here is a formatted version of the bookmarklet’s code.

Terrible Experience with Auslogics

I just had a terrible experience with Auslogics. If you are not familiar with them, they make an excellent tool for defragmenting hard drives (faster and better than the Windows native tools) (edit:) a popular but possibly malware-ridden disk defragmenter.1 They also make a product called BoostSpeed, which cleans up various things on computers that slow them down, such as excessive temporary files, broken registry entries left by programs that installed or uninstalled themselves incorrectly, broken shortcuts, and so on.

In January 2013, my (now dead) laptop was having some serious performance problems, so I decided to try out BoostSpeed. I downloaded the then-current version (5) and tried the free tools. They worked well, so I decided to pay $49.95 for the full version. It worked fairly well over the last year, although I am not entirely convinced how much better it was than the free version. It was hard to tell, because my computer was clearly having some hardware issues at the same time.

Last month, I got an email stating that my annual subscription was about to renew for $49.95. Because my experience so far had been good enough, I decided to let it renew. On January 16, it did. On January 28, my laptop finally bit the dust, or at least I called the time of death after a long struggle against the inevitable. I began installing my daily-use software on a different computer. Naturally, I figured I would download BoostSpeed again, enter my subscription key, and be on my way.

Come to find out, there is now a new version out, BoostSpeed 6. It also sells for $49.95 for a one-year subscription, but my BoostSpeed 5 key, renewed less than 2 weeks earlier, doesn’t work in BoostSpeed 6. In fact, there’s not even a link to download BoostSpeed 5 from the Auslogics website anymore. They did, however, offer to let me upgrade my 12-day old subscription for an additional $9.95.

So, time to contact the company. The Auslogics “Contact Us” page, however, is absurd:

Auslogics Contact Screen
Auslogics Contact Screen — apparently, customers have never needed to contact the company.

The “technical support” link is no help; it’s just a canned set of questions and answers, and clicking any link that implies an opportunity to contact the company just takes you back to the absurd contact form above.

Auslogics Technical Support Page
Auslogics Technical Support Page — do they even know that customers might have real questions?

At this point, I got fairly fed up and filled out the contact form with the following message late on Saturday night:

Less than 2 weeks ago, you charged me full price ($49.95 + tax) for a one-year renewal of my subscription to BoostSpeed 5. A couple of days ago, my computer died, so I am setting up a new computer. I downloaded BoostSpeed 6, only to realize that my license key doesn’t work with BoostSpeed 6.

Now, you want me to pay you $9.95 to upgrade to version 6, when the non-upgrade price for the new version is exactly the same as what you just charged me for an outdated version. That’s absurd and, frankly, offensive. Why did you charge me for an outdated version if there is a new version available for the same price?

On top of that, I cannot find a link anywhere on your site that lets me contact you with either sales or technical questions; I just get a database of canned questions and answers.

I am currently extremely frustrated with your company and your product. My hope is that you will make this right by upgrading my subscription to version 6 without charge. If not, I will be cancelling my subscription and warning others to avoid doing business with your company, as I consider my experience thus far to be unacceptably bad.

I received this response this morning (February 4):

Dear Ed,
Thank you for your email.

On Jan 18, 2013 16:54 you purchased Auslogics BoostSpeed and during the purchase you subscribed for an automatic annual subscription renewal. That’s why now, one year after your purchase, you were charged automatically for a license for one more year.

If you don’t want to renew the license, we can provide you an immediate refund of the automatic renewal.

Thank you!

Obviously, no one read my message; this was either a canned, automatic response by a computer (likely) or a canned, automatic response by an incompetent individual who couldn’t be bothered to read even a couple of sentences (also, sadly, pretty likely).

I loathe doing business with companies that are incompetent and treat customers as an inconvenience, when they bother to acknowledge customers at all. I absolutely refuse to do business with companies that charge customers for obsolete products, refuse to make even the obsolete product available to their paying customers, and demand a ransom payment if the customer wants to avoid being ripped off.

I have cancelled my subscription and demanded a refund.  We’ll see how long the “immediate refund” takes. They have a little bit of a grace period simply because they are based in Australia; after that I’m challenging the charge with my credit card company.

Update: This morning (February 5), I received this message:

Dear Ed,

I am really sorry for the confusion. This message is to confirm that we have received your refund request and the refund process has been initiated. Please allow some time for the money to reach your account, which usually happens within 1 to 5 business days. You will be receiving a separate confirmation message from our authorized vendor Avangate, who actually processes the transaction.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I could be of more assistance.

Thank you!

Get our brand new PC speed up eBook «Turbo Windows – The Ultimate PC Speed Up Guide» for free now!

This offer is a “thank you” for being an Auslogics customer. “Turbo Windows” is also available as a paperback on

Best regards,
Alexandra Pokhylko

So, that’s promising.

1 Edit 4/15/2015: I used to recommend this tool, but I cannot anymore. Chrome and a number of antivirus and firewall programs seem to detect a Trojan in it. I personally cannot say whether it does or does not contain malware, but I no longer feel comfortable recommending it and have uninstalled it from my machines.

Ebooks Community on Stack Exchange

Stack Exchange has launched (in beta) a wonderful new community at It’s a fantastic and free resource for all questions related to ebooks – reading, writing, publishing, buying, selling, and lending. Anyone can ask a question, anyone can answer, and the best questions and answers get voted to the top. I encourage you to come check it out and get involved!

Site Move

This site has found a new home, on a VPS (Virtual Private Server). My prior host had let me down far too often by failing to install current technology and by repeatedly installing spam filters that silently blocked (and in some cases, permanently deleted) only about half of my spam, along with hundreds of good emails over the last few months. This, even though I asked them repeatedly to disable all spam filters on my site permanently, which they swore they had done. Very disappointing.

Fortunately, the move went smoothly. The result: the site is about 2000% faster than it was 24 hours ago. If you run into any problems, let me know!

Fix Quicken 2014 Copy and Paste with AutoHotKey

For no apparent reason, Intuit broke the copy and paste functions in Quicken 2014, such that you can no longer copy text from a transaction or paste into a transaction field. If you use AutoHotKey, there’s an easy fix. Just add the following to a .ahk script:

#IfWinActive Quicken

; Quicken 2014 no longer allows pasting of
; text in most contexts, so fix that
SendInput {Raw}%clipboard%

ControlGetFocus, ctrl
if (RegExMatch(ctrl, "QREdit\d+")) {
ControlGet, clipboard, Selected,, %ctrl%

; This must be at the end of this section

Toggle the Find Results Window in Notepad++ with a Hotkey

I write software and play with websites in my spare time, mostly using Notepad++.  One of the banes of my existence is that there is no keyboard shortcut for closing the Find Results pane / window that appears when I do one of the following:

  • Find All in All Opened Documents
  • Find All in Current Document
  • Find All (in multiple files)

There isn’t one built in, as discussed in this question on, as well as this one and this one. F7 opens the pane or window, but doesn’t close it. The second question link above suggests that Esc will close the pane or window, but this doesn’t work for me, at least in Notepad++ >= 6.

I got fed up with this and created a script for my own use, using AutoHotKey. The following script will convert F7 from an open-only shortcut to a toggle; it opens it if it isn’t already open, and closes it if it is.

Here is the script:

I hope this helps everyone else out there who loves Notepad++!

Note: I posted this originally on

Edited 1/14/2014 to fix a bug in detecting the undocked window

Jumper Cables for the Mind

Here’s one way to get those juices flowing: Jumper Cables for the Mind –  We’re already concerned about people enhancing their ability to access and process information using tools like Google Glass, and it’s already well-known that everyday activities like drinking a cup of coffee can enhance mental performance.  Now, we’re going to have to watch out for people with electrodes stuck to their heads.,,

On a related note, you might head over to if you’re interested in some (non-electrifying) mental stimulation.

Ridiculous Mountaintop Plane Landing

I’m posting this just because it’s amazing.  Land it like a boss.

h/t That Reminds Me: Didja Hear About The Mountain-Climbing Economists? | The Borderline Sociopathic Blog For Boys.

Loneliest Human

The xkcd “What if?” blog has a great analysis of the people most eligible for the title of Loneliest Human.  Not that I ever thought I had even come close, but it makes my whole “6 miles from the nearest light bulb” (at Philmont Scout Ranch) thing seem way less impressive.