Friday, April 30, 2004


Well, it's the night before. Leon was over tonight, and he provided me my first real Dr. Pepper in a couple of months. I've really missed it. I had three in an hour or two. Now I'll be pissing all night.

Like an idiot, I forgot to invite Stan to the LAN party. I got an email to him tonight, and he may or may not show. We'll just have to wait and see.

So here's my day. At two this morning, my wife and I paused our latest spat long enough to go to bed. Grrrrr... Of course, I didn't sleep until more like 3:30, so when the alarm went off at six, I was delighted.

I took a nap in the shower, and then had my daily meds with a cup of grapefruit juice. The meds were especially important today, because I had finals today for all but one of my classes.

Oh, and let me just say this before I go on: Stupid, stupid, bureaucratic stupid moronic stupid testing center people! Bad! Bad testing center people! Could you try being a little less competent? Do you even know what it means to try? It's my policy not to use the name of deity in frustration, so OH MY KOFFI ANNAN, you STUPID people!

There's no way that incompetence that consummate, that pervasive, could be real. I think I'm a victim of some sort of retarded, cruel performance art. They're in a basement right now somewhere practicing for act two.

Whew. That felt good. So buffoonery abounded in the testing center today, where I had to take four of today's five finals. Today, right at the end of the semester, when they should be on top of things and anticipating, you know, people arriving to take tests.

Tonight has been fun, too. My little boy, who is not yet subject to reason, was supposed to be in bed and managed to hurt himself instead. Pretty badly. He hit his face on something. There's a dresser next to his bed, and the theory is that he was standing or jumping on the bed, slipped off, looked down, and hammered the top of the dresser with the front of his poor little face.

I've only been a daddy for a little under three years now, and tonight is the first time I've seen my child bleed from an accident. It stopped my heart at first, but I think I handled it well overall.

I used a flashlight to check him for a concussion and his pupils dilated fine. His nose bled quite a bit, and there was a lot of cleaning up to do. The bleeding stopped easily, and then it was down to business. His eyebrows, nose, upper lip and upper gums were all swollen, so I got Children's Advil into him as quickly as I could.

Thank goodness he didn't hit a corner and split himself open.

Hold on, he's bled before. He cut his finger on a screw he found a few months ago. That was only a tiny bit of blood though, very unlike the abundance of it tonight.

But the Advil worked wonders, and how he's clean, with a new diaper, asleep. The swelling seems to be almost gone, too. I'm sure there will be bruising, but the worst seems to be over.

Leon was over at the time and...what do you say about such friends? Whenever I think about the friendship I've had from Leon and Eric over the years I get a little choked up and feel like a total cheese ball.

Leon was great, of course. He grabbed a towel and a flashlight and went into the kids' room and started cleaning. My daughter was in there, also supposed to be sleeping, so we didn't want to turn the light on.

And now the house is quiet. It's just another calm period before another storm.

Tomorrow is the LAN party, and the house will be a flurry of goings-on all day and into the night. Then, right about when night and morning meet, I'll drive to the airport and pick up my parents, home from Bermuda.

And on the cusp of tomorrow, an episode of the Simpsons today had a line in it that I think is appropriate. It was the episode where Moe remodels the bar and kicks out the regular guys. Homer makes a bar/hunting club in his garage, and the climax of the show is Moe getting shot in the leg by Homer, who thinks he's shooting at a cougar. Or some other big cat.

Anyway, Moe's great line is this: "Like my father always said, 'Eventually, everyone gets shot.'" And tomorrow, some more than others. There’s nothing you can’t kill with a gluon gun and a crossbow. Well, nothing I can’t kill. You guys suck.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

The hammer falls

Oh the joys of having something new to do! Thanks to Jake and Eric for the invitation to assist in keeping this place interesting.
First to my only technical problem in a while, at least on my computer. I had just finished bragging to my brother about how cool the clips to half-life 2 were and convinced him to join me at my computer to watch them. So I strut into my room like a cat with the fish for dinner and turn on my computer. When I get to the logon screen suddenly my fish is forcibly taken from me. I can’t type my password in! Oh the embarrassment! Here I am trying my hardest to show off and I can’t even type. Well the solution was fairly simple if a little time consuming. I own a wireless gyration keyboard and mouse set that a good friend (Jake) hooked me up with. Quickly I noticed that the receiver was not picking up a signal so I tried my mouse sill nothing. To make a long story short (I know to late) the batteries in my keyboard were dieing and I just had not used the mouse for so long that it just needed to be reset. Well one emergence avoided.
Next to the more important subject Jakes LAN-party. First I have notified Gary and have a “commitment” from him. As to the Dr.Peper you will never guess what I walked into my room with before even reading the blog........ two cases of DP. I think this makes two times I have anticipated the need before even being asked. It’s great having friends this good. And finally I am looking forward to doing some painting of my own. Though I prefer black and blue to red.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Now up to five times faster!

I’ve been having trouble getting some pages to load, most notably my personal web log. This is a fairly new problem, and the fact that it popped up during my sabbatical makes it difficult to diagnose. I do have my suspicions though. The ISP used here in my childhood home just changed its logon system (which was probably why I couldn’t get online the day before I got married). I’m guessing that they’ve changed their entire service, perhaps gearing toward the kind of “optimized” nonsense that has been all the rage lately. (The commercials and the rage are the nonsense, by the way, although I wouldn’t rule out calling the service garbage too. If you need a faster connection, just fork out for DSL, cheapskates!) Actually, the connection feels quite a bit slower than before, so I kind of doubt that kind of optimization. In any case, I suspect that the ISP has changed something and it’s keeping my page from loading properly. Clearing the browser’s cache helps, but it still stinks to have problems like this.

Just another month, and then I can have cable internet in my own apartment. I can hardly wait.

One more note: Jake’s LAN parties are good fun. I usually go expecting them to use me to paint the walls an uneven red color, so whenever anything goes well, I’m pleasantly surprised.

This Is Your Last Warning

About...oh, I don't know, cats? Yeah, you know anything that soft with so many sharp edges is just eager to draw you in and then put holes in you. I'm not a cat person. But I loved my dog, and my brother's dog is a pretty good one.

While I'm on it, I guess there are two cats I know who have justifiable existences. The first is named Scooter. He belongs to my friend Leon (or I guess Leon belongs to him?), and he's a huge silver cat who generally stays out of the way. He's never bitten me, never clawed me, never scratched me, and when I've had a mind to, he's let me scratch his ears. Not a bad cat. An exemplar to his breed, but unfortunately not a representative example.

The other that comes to mind lived at my wife's vet clinic. His name was Bubby, and he was diabetic, which is why he lived at the clinic. His people couldn't afford him anymore and didn't have time to take care of him, so they donated him to the clinic. He died a month or two ago, and it's genuinely sad. He was a nice kitty.

But I didn't intend to come here and write about cats, so on to business.

This Saturday we're having a LAN party at my house. If you've been to one of my LAN parties before, you're invited again. If you haven't, you'll have to contribute something, like, And not that frozen crap, either. Whip out your plastic and have The Hut or Domino's bring some in. Or Papa John's. Mmmmm.

We'll be starting around five-ish, or whenever we feel like starting to play. Bring your PC and a monitor, and an ethernet switch if you have one. Half-Life has been the game of choice lately, but we may get into some Motocross Madness 2.

Donations of Dr. Pepper will be warmly smiled upon.

Leon...a couple of things. As soon as I've got your email nearby, I'll send you an invite to contribute to this blog. Accept it, start writing a little bit regularly, and it will be fun.

Second, next week is finals week for me. I've only got two finals to worry about that week, and they're both early in the week, so you should see about some time off so we can fish. Fish! Because only crazy freaks don't like to fish...Eric, I'm looking in your direction. And my new rod and reel need breaking in.

Oh yeah, I've got an Admissions Application to Weber for you, too, so don't be a stranger.

So today is the first day I've really been able to enjoy my new-ish mp3 player. I had to send it back for replacement twice after I ordered it, and then I sent it somewhere else for upgrading. I started the process about two months ago, and now I'm finally enjoying listening to it at school and recording my class lectures with it. Finally. Now that the semester is over.

Monday, April 26, 2004


For several reasons.

First, Eric is back. He's officially back. He wrote a post today, (probably very early this morning) and one can hope that he'll start writing them regularly again. No email yet, though.

Additionally, we're throwing a little LAN party this weekend. I'm so excited I may wet my pants, even though I haven't done that since one notable day when I was eight years old. Accidentally. Come on, you guys, don't make fun of me!

Ok, second, my Archos came back today, one day short of three weeks gone. Mike over at is a great guy. He wasn't able to do quite everything I wanted, but we worked it out and I'm a very happy customer. If you have an Archos MP3 player, I highly recommend that you GIVE HIM BUSINESS. Seriously, I don't say that about just anyone. Didn't you see my rant about Cybertron earlier in this blog? Yeah. Mike's different. Thanks Mike!

Third, today I bought a new fishing rod and reel. Yeah, that's right, I'm a geek who fishes. Nearly a year ago when we moved to this house, my rod and reel disappeared, and I've been sad about it ever since. Fixed!

Fourth, today my sister, Julianne, came to the University with me instead of going to high school. We had a busy, fun day. She's a nice person to be around. I bought her lunch, and then we did a little shopping and went to my doctor's appointment and...

(Fifth) I got new drugs. I don't know if they'll be better than the last ones yet, but if y'all are good, I'll let you know. Woo-hoo, amphetamines. Too bad my body chemistry isn't such that I can enjoy them. My body chemistry shrugs them off like sugar-free smarties. *sigh*

And that's made doubly sad by the fact that I'm a Mormon boy and I'm not allowed other fun recreational substances like doobage and booze. I drank a little when I was a teen, but I never had the good sense to get drunk. You see, I thought I liked beer for a little while. I'm glad I grew out of that.

Well my mom's Palm m100 required extensive work before it was functional again. It works now, to a degree. What I mean by that is that it seems to work fine at the moment, but there's no telling when it will heave its last dying breath.

Shall I enumerate its deficiencies? Is this blog not dedicated to things technical and otherwise? Aye, it is.

Two of the screw posts (torx 6) had popped loose of the chassis, so the unit was barely staying together.

When the HotSync cable was plugged in, the unit would turn off and then soft reset when you unplugged it. This was because the chassis was spreading apart from the outward pressure of the cable connector, causing the battery contacts to no longer touch the power points on the motherboard.

The thing needed a thorough dusting on the inside, and then I spread out the internal battery contact springs to lessen the chance of them separating any more.

I then re-screwed the two good posts together and super glued one corner of the unit shut. I know, not the most graceful of solutions, but this Palm will get played with by my kids and otherwise sit on my desk.

Don't tell my mom that it's working again, though. She won't understand that even though it's working now, another week in her purse would mean certain and permanent death to the unit. Her new Clie is much better suited to that sort of abuse.

Oh, Eric, before I forget again...I think I'll make Leon a contributor to this blog. Let me know what you think.

Mein Kampf (with Qwest, that is)

It’s been just over a week since we moved into this apartment, and we’ve already had two problems with the utilities. The second one was a minor issue with the power company. They sent us a bill for March, even though we requested that our service start on April 1st. The bill is only for five dollars (plus our setup fees, which are even more), but we don’t want to pay it on principle.

The first and biggest problem was with the phone company. They started our service on Thursday, the 15th just as they said they would, but we didn’t have any dial tone and no one could call in. We called to complain, and they blew us off (saying that they had until 5 pm to get it right). The next day, we got married, and for fairly obvious reasons, we were busy until Tuesday, at which point we still didn’t have an operable phone service. So, we called again and this time, they agreed to sent out a repairman. He could come between 9 am and 7 pm the next day, and if the problem was found to be with the building’s phone system, we would be charged $85 for the repair.

That next day, the repairman showed up shortly after noon, which was long before we expected to see anyone. He was a young guy who patiently explained the concept of demarcation and why the phone company wasn’t responsible for our non-working phone. And then, since he was there anyway, he came in and plugged a little device into our phone line, and then went to the switch box and found that the wires weren’t even connected. He fixed it, and then came back to explain just what he had done. In all, we found him to be very nice and helpful, and he almost made us forget the awful treatment we had received up to that point from the phone company. We almost didn’t mind getting charged $85 (added to the normal setup fees, it cost us $110 to get a phone line here).

So, I’m done with them. I will avoid anything that will put money in their coffers. The local cable company will be offering internet service in about a month, and so we will have no DSL. I will avoid getting any extra services like call waiting, caller ID, or anything like that. When we move, we’ll find another company to do business with. I doubt that our boycott will hurt this monopolistic company in any way, but we’ll make our point anyway, and if they survive, we will only take comfort in knowing that the kind repairman may still have a job.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

This Coke is putting me to sleep...

Man, I'm tired.

My mom's Palm m100 that she's had for over three years is finally going in the toilet. It could just be that she keeps it in her purse where it bumps into everything in existence all day, and that when the digitizer alignment screen comes up she sloppily sets it with her finger nail. Then she told me that her clicks are registering in the wrong places. Hm. That's curious.

Well, I have a Sony Clie that I bought a while back. It's the best Palm I've ever had (out of about 20), and ironically, shortly after I bought it, I also bought a Tablet PC and stopped using it.

So it sits in its cradle all day, every day on my desk, and I use it to control WinAmp while I'm playing Half-Life. Well the poor little guy wasn't being challenged at all, was he?

So my mom has the Clie now, and I'm certain it'll get much more use with her. I don't know what I'll do about music during Half-Life now, but my desk is cleaner. I'll miss it, but not terribly much. And it's roughly analogous to her trading in a 1983 Chevette for a 2002 Jeep Cherokee. Sony makes a good handheld.

I watched Brini again this afternoon. It just didn't have the same magic the second time around, so I turned it off. Then again, I'm grumpy lately. Grumpy!

Eric called today to let me know he's alive. He and the missus survived their honeymoon and it's all downhill from here, as they say. I guess there are a few different things that could mean. Heh.

I've got to tell Jeff happy birthday. There's just over an hour of the day left, and I haven't even seen him yet.

Plus, I'm tired.

Nice Shot, Guvnah

Several of them, in fact.

Every Tuesday night I go to Brent's house and play pool with him. Tonight I did particularly well.

It all started at a combined young men's/young women's activity, which Brent was kind enough to host at his house. When I noticed there was a pool table to play on, I went to my car for my cue and then began playing with anyone who dared take the challenge.

Brent noticed some fancy things going on at his pool table, and invited me to come back and play with him regularly on the condition that I teach him as we play. Deal!

So tonight I called four separate shots that seemed impossible and sunk them all. It feels so good to do that. Oh, and I nearly ran a rack on him. I ran my seven balls and the botched an easy shot on the eight because of all the adrenaline.

While playing, we listened to Bob Seger, Paul Simon, and America. All good. I think that the music we listen to while we play really effects my game. We used to play more or less in silence. We'd just chat or his kids would watch a movie in the background. But lately, the classic rock's been going on, and that's when I feel good.

Eric posted a comment on the last post, and it's good to see he's still alive. I suspect he's still at least semi-honeymooning, so I won't ask anything of him just yet. Take it easy, man.

Crystal and I honeymooned on a cruise to Mexico. What a wonderful, funny, awkward time that was. It's been a good five years, and the awkwardness, at least, is all gone. We have our little conflicts now and then. I have a theory that couples need to fight a little every now and then. There's no way you always agree on everything, so if there are no fights, you're not really being open and honest with each other.

But maybe that's a crock of bull, designed to make me feel better about fuming over something stupid I say to Crystal and then get in trouble for. Whoops, was that too frank?

Anyway. Yes, I know that the "official" term for Brini would be a transgendered person, or transsexual, or transvestite. Any of the three can be abbreviated tranny.

The thing is, if you have a penis, I don't care enough about the subculture to call you anything other than a man. Sorry. Call me insensitive if you like. The terminology doesn't bear enough relevance in my life to make getting it right important.

J. Edgar Hoover, for example. Tranny? Quite possibly. But I just don't care. Eh.

So to me, Brini's a man, and there's my point. Whatever else you're going to call him/her/the-entity-known-to-you-puny-mortals-as-Brini, she's got a penis, man. Tranny terminology be damned.

On Friday, I'll be giving my final speech in my Public Speaking class. It's a ceremonial speech about my dog, who died two years ago. I miss her.

I've done fairly well in that class. My biggest problem has been that I talk about geeky things, and my classmates don't quite keep up. One of my speeches was on how hard drives, CDs and RAM work, but I lost a lot of people when didn't have time enough in the speech to further illuminate concepts like lasers shining light on an aluminum surface.

Then I spoke about the RIAA and the EFF, and the ongoing battle between music fans and thick-skulled music industry executives. I did better that time, but I still lost some people on the concept of voluntary collective licensing.

Good heck, it's 1 AM. I'm gonna regret this when I wake up in five hours for school.

Monday, April 19, 2004

I'm Not Clever Enough Today... think of a witty and short and zinger-ish title. So that one will have to do.

First off, Zannah, thanks very much for your comment. I'm sorry to say that the 'matrimony pony' line is not mine, and even more embarrassingly, it came from a Simpsons episode. Otto said it to Bart on the day he was supposed to marry Whatserface in the Simpsons' back yard. Ah, good old Whatserface.

Yesterday my wife pointed out that the piece of apple pie in our fridge...the one I was given at Eric and Becky's luncheon...should be put out of its misery. I snidely remarked that I was thinking of freezing it and giving it to the happy couple in a year or so. You know, in memory of the day.

Now I'm almost afraid to eat it because it's been in the fridge for three days, and who knows how old it was before I got it? Perhaps not even Marie Callendar herself. So I'll eat it in a bit, even with the knowledge that I'm taking my life into my hands. If I'm found dead later today with pie crumbs on the edges of my mouth, my blog-reading public (which amounts to Eric, Leon and Zannah, one of whom is on a honeymoon) will know what happened.

In case you're wondering, Marie Callendar was a real person and restaurateur, unlike that crock, Betty Crocker. So she could know and tell me how old that pie is, if only she could find a way to communicate with me from beyond the grave. Or, maybe she's too busy with the pie business on the other side to pay attention to the temporal enterprise that bears her name. You know what? I'm giving this far too much thought.

Last week I was eating lunch after I got home from school and idly flipping channels. I happened upon the Style Network, which I never watch, and saw the funniest show I’ve seen since I was twelve and discovered late night standup on Comedy Central.

The Brini Maxwell show sucked me in and for the first thirty seconds or so, I wondered if it could possibly be the real deal.

Here's how it works. The host, named Brini (rhymes with genie), is a Martha Stewart type, but a little younger, and completely and firmly stuck in 1956. Remember the orange and olive-green style of that period? Well Brini's all over that. In each segment, she's wearing a different (and fabulous) 1950's outfit, and she gives homemaking tips that I swear I've seen in use in my grandmother's home.

My mom's mother was a Home Economics teacher in the local public school system for thirty years. She didn't retire until a few years ago, and a childhood around her house involved bowls of fake fruit and dinners made from recipes so devilishly complex that only a Home Economics teacher would dare attempt them.

Please don't think that I'm disparaging my grandma. She's a great lady and she's done some amazing things...raising my five aunts and uncles plus my mother, nearly alone while my grandpa was in the Air Force ranking high among them. I'm just saying--at Christmas, she made chocolates and caramel corn snowmen. There is always, ALWAYS, a centerpiece on every table in the house. She had the first bread maker I'd ever seen, used her own home-ground flour in it, and her kitchen is a temple to all things culinary.

The woman is the patron saint of homemaking, and maybe even a demigoddess.

So anyway, this show started setting off all kinds of grandma alarms in my head. And for that first half-minute, the utter retro-ness of it captivated me.

But then I suspected. First off, Brini's patter was far too perfect. Have you ever seen Martha Stewart say something that would make her blush if she weren't on camera? No big deal, right? She may crack a little smile and move on, but that's it.

Brini, on the other hand, plays it completely straight. Completely. Straight. Of course she smiles on cue, and of course her dialog is well thought out. But too much so to be real.

And so I quickly caught on that Brini is having fun with me. As soon as I was in on the joke, I enjoyed the show immensely.

There's one more surprise on the Brini Maxwell show. You see, her mannerisms aren't quite perfect. At first you don't notice, but the more you watch, the more....hmm, well it's hard to say. Enough with the suspense. Brini's a man.

No one thing gives her away: She doesn't have a huge Adam’s apple, her boobs seem perfectly normal, her hands aren't all wrong for a woman, and she certainly sounds like a woman. But, you know? My third minute into the show, I was eighty percent sure she wasn't...uh...pure woman, so I went online to check. Sure enough. She’s mostly man.

My grandmother would vigorously frown on the concept of a man, playing a woman, doing a homemaking show. But I'm not sure that she'd pick up on Brini's manliness, and if she didn't, I think she'd really enjoy it. I'm torn as to whether to record an episode and screen it for her.

Of course, if she stumbles onto (or is directed to) this blog, then the surprise is ruined. That isn't terribly likely, but it's certainly possible.

Her piousness would ruin the content of the show for her. Grandma isn't all that tolerant of those in "alternative" lifestyles. So maybe it's best that I not introduce it to her. If she liked it a lot, she might watch it regularly, and then it's just a matter of time before someone announces the obvious to her. So maybe not. It would be funny, though.

Leon doesn't know yet; I asked out a girl in Institute for him. He's going to call me in an hour or so when he gets off work and then I'll tell him.

Oh, I tried the pie a minute ago. My microwave melted the crap out of the little clamshell box it was in. It wasn't very good, so I let it go. Not to fear, though. I had Tasty's for lunch, and donuts are forthcoming.

Friday, April 16, 2004


All apologies for my pessimism. Of course Eric still writes here. Today he got married, and quite naturally, he's been out of the loop. And regarding said marriage...

Picture the following: A beautiful room in a beautiful religious building. A small group of friends and family (about 40) are gathered and seated in the beautiful room to watch, support, and congratulate the bride and groom as they get married and begin a new life together.

Okay, see that back wall? There's a largish guy with a goatee, has his arm around a lovely woman in a gorgeous dress at his side. A bit of a man's man. Striking features. Power tie. Gold wedding band, nice watch.

The ceremony has started, and...what's this? Oh, yes, I'm afraid so. He's bawling his eyes out. The bride and groom's mothers? Not a sniff.

Allergies? A mild case of the sniffles? Clearly not. There are no sneezes, no coughs, no runny nose. No, the poor fool is just an emotionally over-wrought boob.

Lacking the forethought to catch a Kleenex on the way in, the blubbering brute wipes his tears onto his long white shirt sleeve.

And once again, our oaf is me. Oh, good Lord, what IS the matter with me?

So, Eric and Becky, many years beyond happy years to you. I think I was nearly anonymous, but may the record show that I truly am that happy for you. I cried like the big fat baby that I am.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Eric, We Hardly Knew Ye

It appears that Eric no longer writes here. Or maybe not. Who knows?

His last post over at The Garden, regarding a mini-golf score card was quite touching.

Oh, I've got to try his new phone number. He said it might be connected today. Hang on a sec...

It just rang and rang. Eric, you're going to have to get a machine. Or a cell phone. Either would do.

I'll freely admit that for a long time...too long, I didn't really understand your relationship with your intended. Over the last year or so, though, you've let me see enough that I've come around.

Really, our courtships are quite similar. John and John had to go on wild asking-people-to-marry-them rampages after returning from their missions, but when I came home, the wedding was practically already planned.

Crystal and I wrote letters once a week, faithfully, and sometimes more often. We even briefly broke up while I was in a city called Manitowoc. I'm sure glad we got through that.

You and I need to play Half-Life soon, but more importantly, we need to do some things that will involve our wives. Would yours be willing to play laser tag? I found a great place to play a while back, and it was loads of fun.

We should get Leon a date and bring them along, too.

I don't say this much, me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Back to Geekery

So the motherboard arrived yesterday, a day early. I'm just glad it's over.

And it's a pretty nice Intel board. Not the fanciest out there, but quite nice. I'm just not sure what to do with it.

Apparently, Eric's bachelor party was last night. I guess he forgot to tell me, or I forgot the date, because I missed it. Ah well. He'll pay for that next time we play Half-Life.

But who am I kidding? I've been sucking it up at HL for the last couple of weeks, as Leon will attest.

I've been watching videos of HL2. It looks cool, but really hard. And I'm worried that the multiplayer stuff won't be up to the standard of the original. The videos are here:

There's one sequence where the player launches an RPG and does some pretty fancy stuff with the RPG laser. Neato. He's also got a weapon that picks things up and throws them. It's a little abstract, so it's best if you watch the videos. Oh yeah, he drives around for a bit in a buggy, too.

The physics engine does seem to have had some work done on it. For instance, when automobile carcasses are fired on with heavy artillery, they move around.

I took this quiz this morning:

Apparently, I'm a Grammar God. You know, it's one thing when you know you're an almighty being of some sort, but it's just plain flattering when someone else recognizes it. One caveat, though: I'm a God of the Python variety, meaning the one exhibited in the Holy Grail. Well, don't look a gift deification in the mouth, I guess.

Hm. I'm out of things to write. Not so often this happens. Ok, then, that's it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Choosing and Finding Your New Rugrat

Today I'm writing a special tutorial, especially for Eric, in response to his recent post over at The Garden. There's a link to The Garden on the right if you want to see the post, but again, as Eric and I are the only people likely to be reading this, I'm not really going to repeat the post or even reference it with much depth.

The specific point I'll be dealing with here is the following: "My friends will stop bugging me about when I'm going to get married (although there are 8 kids between the three of them...)", something, something, something.

If you do the math, the most reasonable conclusion is that two of Eric's friends have three children each, and one has only two. That one would be me.

I like to think (and Eric has told me) that I've been the most understanding of his friends regarding his long wait to ride on the matrimony pony. In fact, my standard line has been "You're still doing the right things, Eric, you're just doing them in a different order than the rest of us. There's nothing wrong with that, you're just waiting for the right time." I stand by that. Apparently, the right time approximately equals the point where lines finishing-school and Becks-coming-home cross.

Notwithstanding that, I like to be a trend setter. This is one of the rightful duties of an Alpha Geek, such as myself. Generally I'm a bit of a maverick and make my own trends, but I've got a reputation to keep up, so if I've got an inside track on the next big hit I'll take it.

So with that preface, here goes: Hey, Eric, is the wife-to-be pregnant yet?

Because, you know, my kids need playmates, and John and John won't risk letting their kids play with mine. You've made that same claim, but I know it's just an appeal to my pride of wilder, younger days.

Of course she isn't, and probably won't be for a good little while, unless you get surprised. And take it from me, surprises ARE possible. Oh yes they are. (Eric's retort of denial.) OH YES THEY ARE!

That said, somewhere down the road, you'll decide it's time for kids or have them foisted upon you. I can say with confidence that it's best to willingly decide it's time than have fate come in, sighing and shaking its head disappointedly, and make what you've turned into a fear come true.

And babies are a little like cars. You want to be sure to pick the right one for you. Now, that just about finishes the car analogy, because unlike cars, American-made babies are not worse than almost every other nationality. In fact, they're quite good, but with current quality controls, it's pretty safe to assume that a baby of any nationality is going to be of reasonably good quality.

Me, I drive a Japanese car, but both of my babies are American-made. All three are of wondrous craftsmanship.

Knowing you, you'll probably decide to self-build rather than trust someone else to manufacture your babies. That's what I did, and I think it's a wise approach overall.

For one thing, the manufacturing process can be quite fun, especially in the early stages. It’s important to get it right, though, so practice, practice, practice!

The incubation period involves much of good and bad, and your mileage certainly will vary. Some incubating units are VERY demanding, while others practically run themselves. Most are somewhere in the middle. All units do require constant monitoring though, because breakdowns, especially ones caused by emotion, are extremely common.

I've heard stories of errant incubation units demanding massive amounts of ice cream to continue functioning. Mine, however, simply slept all the time, waking periodically to say not-very-nice things to me. You mustn’t take that sort of thing personally; it's just part of the process.

Of course, this tutorial is not comprehensive. As stated above, don’t forget to practice, and your mileage WILL vary. It will.

I probably won’t get to see you before Friday. I want you to know before then, though, that I’m really happy for you. If you think about it, you and I met somewhere around 1994, which means we’ve been friends for about ten years. You’re a good influence on me and a great friend. Thank you for both.

Have fun with your new wife. You two are great. Let me know when your schedule clears up a little.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Back Me Up

I did the obligatory backups today.

They've gotten easier over the years, as I've figured out what the hell I'm doing.

The first is the desktop...piece of cake, because most anything important is kept on my server. There were a couple of files on the desktop that needed moving to the server before the backup, and then I went ahead and ghosted the drive anyway.

I don't think I'll be doing that anymore. I've got a standard image that I like on my desktop. It's got all my registry fixes and such that I like, and my base installation of necessary programs that I can't live without.

As long as I keep important files on the server, I think I can forgo backing up my desktop from here on out. If Windows gets fouled up, I'll just restore my favorite image.

The Tablet, on the other hand, is quite another story. It goes to school and everywhere else with me, and so I can't just pull files from, or move them to the server any time. So, all of my Microsoft Journal files get stacked up on it. My Zinio copies of magazines live there too.

And then, the Tablet doesn't have an optical drive, so I keep Virtual Drive Pro and some disc images on it, but the images live on their own partition. So I'm good there. Plus, the server has backups of all images, and I don't have to worry about un-backed-up images, because I can't create new ones with the Tablet anyway. Remember? No optical drive.

Well, today's backup kind of sucked, because for the first time, the Tablet's OS drive wouldn't ghost to just one DVD. I had to put 90MB on a CD-ROM, which is a sonofabitch. If I'd known that, I would have been more aggressive in my pre-backup cleaning!

But at least now I know. 7.2GB on the Tablet won't compress to fit on one DVD. But I know from a previous backup that 7.1GB will. I guess it's better than the time Ghost made me put 4MB on one CD-ROM. Yeah, CDs are cheap, but damn, 4MB?

I took today's disappointment far more gracefully than I took the 4MB incident. Chalk it up to my developing Buddha nature. The day after Easter.

You know what makes me feel like a boob? Here I am, this total Nazi about backing things up. Now I've got a file server...running WINDOWS, for gosh sake. It's been running for four months, has all of my important stuff on it. And do you think I've made even one backup of it? What a moron. I've got to get on that.

I hate to screw with it though, it's been working so well. And I don't think I've got enough DVDs to do the whole thing. But I really need to do it. Really. Need to. Really.

Simpsons is on in ten, so I'll pose this question to the non-blog-reading ether:

Anybody know good CD/DVD burning software that will let me burn files that are on a network and not local? I'm running Nero 6'd think it could handle it, but no.

Software that would do this would make my life so much easier where backing up that server is concerned. I'm not gonna pull everything down from the server temporarily just so that Nero can pull its head out of its butt. I'm not. Like I don't have enough problems already.

So I'll be paying attention to the comments on this blog.

And one more thing before I go. You know what cracks me up? The utter anonymity of this blog. I mean, I'll bet there isn't a single person in the world that has read this that Eric and I don't know personally. And here I am asking my vast readership a software question. Because, you know, I couldn't find a bigger forum. Like ArsTechnica.

I'll bet we haven't even been spidered by Google yet. We're pathetic, but at least we're having fun.


I recently (after several failed attempts, which was ultimately due to failure to follow instructions on my part) installed SNMP on the local residential gateway. It’s a PC with a PII 350 MHz running Windows Millennium (see Jake’s last entry for comments on that OS), and it’s the primary machine for four of the five people who live here, as well as two people who don’t live here (only I don’t use it, except to connect to the web). It uses Internet Connection Sharing to give the other machines in the house access to its 56k (usually closer to 28k) dial-up connection.

I digress.

I got SNMP installed and running normally, at which point I added that machine, or rather its IP address, to the list of machines for MRTG to monitor. I ran the config file maker, which politely informed me that the machine in question had responded with the error, “noSuchName”. I haven’t had much time (or access to the machine in question, what with the other people who depend on it) to try to fix this. So far, my meager attempts have been met with failure.

I should add that I didn’t run into any such errors when setting up MRTG to monitor machines running Windows 98, 2000, or XP. I’m really tempted to blame the OS for this one, but I’m either going to a) work something out, in spite of whatever odds I may face or b) get married and leave that old beast to its fate. If the truth must be known, I’m leaning towards the latter option.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Built Under A Bad Sign

Eric's too kind to implicate me in his current sorrows, but I'm afraid I'm duty-bound, at least for the sake of comedy, to implicate myself.

The cheap computer company which he dare not name is Compaq. And the horrible machine whose origins he dare not speak of came from me. Well, it came from Staples first, but then he got it from me.

It's a sad story of woe and pain, but it bears retelling for the sake of the kids.

The wife and I (marking five years last night), having been married for six months or so, decided it was time for our own computer. We had moved out of my parents' house, but to get online, I'd have to drive back to Kaysville, where they used to live, from Clinton, where we used to live.

At the time I worked for Staples. I was new to buying computers, so I thought that a Compaq on sale at Staples was a good deal. What it turned out being is a good deal of trouble.

The OEM copy of Win98 that came with the machine crashed repeatedly and spectacularly, and with the slightest provocation. I became a member of Microsoft's Resellers program while at Staples, and while at a training meeting, received a pre-release copy of Windows ME.

As horrible as Windows ME turned out to be, it was better than Compaq's copy of Win98, and the world hadn't yet figured out that WinME was a scourge upon the earth, so I was grateful to have an operating system that I could depend on. Sort of.

This is where Eric comes in.

Crystal and I were tired of the stupid computer's shennanigans, and decided it was time for an upgrade. I had been upgrading the Compaq and began to know my way around the inside of that computer. It was all pretty basic, so I declared that our next computer would be built by me.

That was my first PC build. After that, my build history gets complicated, because I've built lovely, custom systems for myself, friends and family, but I also spent some time building cookie-cutter machines for two local OEMs. So there have been, literally, thousands since.

By some miracle, I built the new machine well enough that it ran, and Eric, also due for an upgrade, bought our Compaq.

I honestly didn't realize that I was subjecting him to treachery. Through the years since, as various components have crapped out in that machine, he's made me aware of the betrayal and even forgiven me openly. That's what good friends are made of.

Later, when I knew what I was doing, I help him build a really nice machine for himself, and now it's his main system. But I know it's a meager penance for selling him the infamous Compaq.

Sorry again, Eric. Perhaps one of these days, when you feel you can part with it, we'll have a proper pagan burning for that calcubine of yours. She's going to silicon hell anyway, so we may as well get her nice and warm for the journey.

It's true that Compaq's machines may be much better now than they once were. Even so, I haven't bought another off-the-shelf desktop since. I think Eric will be self-building from here on out, too. I just hope he always lets me help. I'm always learning useful new tricks.

I do have a Dell laptop and a Toshiba tablet, and they're both great. But the idea of building laptops just doesn't turn me on, so when I need those, I'll keep buying them from trusted dealers.

And now you know my life's story! Fascinating, wasn't it?

Saturday, April 10, 2004

The Lord hath heard thy affliction

I am writing this on a machine that I call Hagar (from the old days, when I named computers after biblical harlots and concubines, which in turn lead to the term "calcubine"). A few months ago, this machine decided to stop booting. It's been having trouble for a while, and so I figured that it was suffering a progressive sort of failure, and was about ready to write it off. The problem is that she's a good machine, second only to my main system (and a far second at that), and I didn't want to let her go.

So, today I decided to fix her. The immediate culprit was the power supply. She came with a 90 W ATX power supply, and yet at her peak, she was running two 7200 RPM hard drives (80 GB and 20GB), a 32X10x40 CD burner, a DVD ROM drive, an ATI Radeon 7000 PCI video card, a Sound Blaster Live! card, a PCI NIC, a PCI IDE controller, and 192 MB RAM. All told, that probably pushed it far beyond the meager capabilities of the power supply, and so while it had been sans 20 GB hard drive and IDE controller for some time, and without the DVD ROM for a few months, the poor thing was probably cooked.

First, I pulled out or otherwise removed power from everything I could. The thing still wouldn't POST. I then turned to a spare PC that I had lying around, and was delighted to find that it had an ATX power supply (the system in question is a Pentium 200 MHz machine). So, I had my first experience installing a power supply. The new 250 W supply soon had the machine POSTing, but it wouldn't boot.

At this point, the only error I was seeing was a memory size error. The machine was finding 184 MB of RAM, instead of the 192 that should have been there. The missing 8 MB were being used by the machine's onboard video card (death to onboard video), and the machine wasn't even making POST with the ATI card in, so I stole the modest card from the machine that was already short its power supply, and was trying to get it to boot with that. No luck.

Company came over, and so I was away from the machine for about 6 or 7 hours, at which time it still hadn't booted (no surprise). However, after a few resets, I was amazed to see the POST finish up and Windows start up. Unfortunately, the video card didn't install right and was having resource conflicts with a phantom device. It refused to work and disabled itself, citing conflicts that it staunchly denied on its resources tab. The troubleshooter was quite confident that a reboot would fix the problem, but two reboots failed to. I suspect that it was conflicting with the Radeon card that it was hoping would still be there.

So, in a spirit of exploration, I popped the ATI card back in, and was soon greeted with a beautiful screen at a numbing 1280x1024 resolution (and on a 15" monitor, no less!). The machine is running again, and will hopefully be ready to serve as my main server box once I have my own personal network again.

Side note: This machine was originally manufactured by a well-known company that makes "affordable" computers (although the only remaining original parts are the case, motherboard, processor, and a third of the RAM), and like every PC that they sell, it came with a small sticker that served to discourage people from opening it up and playing around with the parts inside. Now, after some tribulation, I have come to realize that this was a wise warning, for while I may have been competent to install more components inside this machine, it was certainly not equipped to handle those components. The moral: Don't buy computers with cheap power supplies.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Carry On, My Wayward Friend

Yeah, it was nice when I'd shoot an email out to Eric and...oh, ninety seconds or so later had a reply. Even...ok, especially, at two in the morning.

So I ranted the other day about Cybertron. Felt good. I think I'll have to be a little more moderate in future rants, though.

And Cybertron called me yesterday. They wanted my cc number to charge the difference for the new board. And you couldn't have asked for this information the first time? But at least they called, instead of making me wait a week to realize that they never shipped it and call them. It's not great, but it's an improvement, and I'm all for that.

Speaking of which, I think maybe I should have ordered this board instead of the Intel:
It's got a Radeon 9200 integrated! ATI says all you need is a nice AGP card and you've got triple monitors.

I run a Radeon 9000 Pro and dual 19" CRTs. I love it, but I'd like a TV out also. Yes, the Radeon 9000 does have TV out, but you can use dual monitors OR TV out, and that just won't work. I use both of my monitors all the time. So maybe in a year or so.

I talked the wife into letting me upgrade just a few months ago, and it'll take a while for her to forgive me.

Anyway, Eric, you know my situation. Seven computers on one DSL. You know what? It's not bad. Sometimes it gets a little droopy, like when I pull down an American Express commercial with Jerry Seinfeld and Patrick Warburton as Superman (~50MB), but overall, it's pretty fast.

And I think Qwest bumped up our bandwidth without telling us. I suspected, so I did a speed test at DSLReports, and sure enough, we're notably faster than before. You won't hear me complain.

Our mutual friend Leon is thinking of upgrading his system, so it looks like that Intel motherboard on its way to me may go to him. Of course, we'll have to get him a new chip and RAM also, at a minimum. Maybe I can talk him into a better vid card, too.

The dedicated file server I built for my home in January has been running for four months now, without any major problems at all. I'm pleasantly surprised. It's a Windows box, but it runs all the time, perfectly, without anyone ever even looking at it. Frankly, I didn't expect that kind of dependability from it. At first, I rebooted it every week or so, just because I was nervous for Windows. It's been running for about a month now without a reboot, though. I have it on a UPS, so when our power drops, it still runs. It's great.

My wife, parents, sister and brother all stream music and video from the server, and have personal folders on it. I set permissions to help prevent people from accidentally doing damage. This is me, happy as a clam. Really, I had no idea it could work so well. I built it from spare PC parts I had laying around.

I'm going to fiddle with the links on the right-hand side of the page now. Sorry if I ruin it, Eric, but I do have a backup.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Broadband Buffet

I’m about to be internet decapitated. Right now, I’m connected through traditional dial-up, which is quite unpleasant from the standpoint of someone who used to be on a campus T1 line. Soon, I'll be moving out, and will have no connection at all. So, I’ve started doing some research for when I’m ready to fork out for my own (practically) personal broadband connection.

I have a friend who’s used DSL and cable internet, and he speaks quite highly of the latter, and has little but complaints about the former. Another friend is using DSL, which is good for him but he has found himself running into some equipment related problems that I’d rather not face. Basically, I’m looking for good bandwidth on a reliable connection that I can configure to allow outside machines to connect to my machine at a consistent IP address (or URL, if that’s what it takes).

My first choice is cable internet. There is a company in the area who is the sole provider of this type of service, and they are marketing it aggressively. A few months ago, as I was leaving school, I called them up to find out if their service was available at home. It wasn’t, but they had a projected date, which they not only met, but they had service up a few months early. If only I had the means to pay for internet here. At my new apartment, I was given the number of this company on a list of local utilities. I called them, and was told that, while they do have cable television in my area, cable internet is not available, nor do they have any plans to change that. Then, they had the gall to ask me if I wanted to sign up for the cable. I have no interest in paying them any money if they can’t get me a good broadband connection.

I can’t believe that they’ve twice failed to cover me as I move. It’s not like I’m moving to the sticks. I’m in the middle of the largest city of the most densely populated county in the state. I’m especially galled because I know that their service would meet all of my qualifications, probably better than anyone else’s would.

Next up is DSL. I am not as big a fan of this one, since it tends to shut itself off after a period of time, and it’s not as fast as cable. The prices are only slightly less, so the financial savings aren’t that attractive. I’d like to add that it’s not available at my current address (and it wouldn’t be a very viable method, since we have about ten phone jacks that have phones plugged in to them right now, and that means a lot of filters). It is the front runner right now. I’ll have to accept less bandwidth, but then I would be the only power user, and so it’s probably quite reasonable. The nearest DSL station is about 2 miles away, which should be close enough to get service, but I can’t get any confirmation of that from the DSL provider because I don’t have a phone number connected yet. (I’m also not going to ask anybody at the phone company for an autograph. They’re a bunch of pricks on a good day, and I haven’t had many good days with them yet.)

There’s a new third contender. It’s a wireless internet service based about thirty miles south. They claim to offer 1.5 Mbps up and down, which is far more than cable or DSL can offer (at least at rates that I can justify paying for it). I’m concerned about whether or not they offer mailboxes, the nature of the IP address they’d give me, and whether or not I’d need to mount any extra equipment. I’ll be in an apartment complex, and I doubt that they’d approve of me putting an antenna on the roof. They are less than a lot of DSL services, so it may not be so bad.

Whatever I get, It will be a while before it’s up and running. So, until then, I’ll be quieter than usual. Hopefully, I’ll one day be back to the point where Jake and I are shooting a dozen emails a day.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Board Silly

So here's the deal.

If you know how to build a PC and do it well, do so.

And here's how I've learned that painful lesson! Stick around, you might learn something.

My wife's twin sister's husband (ie: my brother-in-law) knows somewhere between very little and nothing about computers. Fortunately, most of the family aren't exasperatingly tech-stupid, including him, and their questions are usually in the realm of "Is is possible to make my computer (do x task) with (x program)?

"Yeah," I generally get to say, "but you're not willing to spend enough to make that happen. Here's a better solution." And that's kind of fun to say.

But back to our brother-in-law, we'll call him...uhhhhh... Dennis, after the constitutional peasant of Python fame. I had to think about that for far too long.

So Dennis tells me that it's time for a new computer. I already knew of his laptop, in all its 266Mhz glory, and confirmed that fact. "And", he says, "I'm gonna have you build it for me!"


So where we go wrong is where A....uh, Dennis sets a target price for the new PC at $1200, gets a quote and system spec sheet from me and then changes his figure to $1000.

Now, maybe the folks at ExtremeTech can build a system they'll feel good about for under $800, but maybe that's just why I haven't moved to California yet to write for ExtremeTech.

In short, I take pride in my work. All of my hardware purchases are well-researched, purchased from reputable wholesalers, and strictly high quality. I'm not saying I throw the newest vid card into every system I build, but I am saying that if I buy an ATI card, it sure as hell is a real ATI card, and not an ATI chip on someone else's board.

So I'm picky about what goes into my systems. Even so, I generally beat Dell by around $250 on similarly specced boxen. And I make a little money. And the extra, extra, extra attention I put into every system really shows through and my customers love it. Good for everyone.

Except our dear Dennis. No, he thinks he knows better than I what the appropriate chip would be for his system. I said P4, he said Athlon. I said "yes, but you want it quiet, and an Athlon runs 60 degrees hotter than a P4, and more fans will make the system louder."

But no. Dennis wants an Athlon. Fine. I've built hundreds of Athlon boxes before, and they're not worse than P4s, they're just different. And a little cheaper.

Oh, and he wants all parts; monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, case, optical drives...everything black, and cheaper than in the first parts list.

Well, I did exactly the right thing, and then exactly the wrong thing. I FREAKED! And then I caved in. Oh, good Lord, how I caved in.

I caved in and gave up and ordered a white box from CybertronPC. For the two other people reading this, a white box is an unbranded PC that you order pre-made from a factory and then sell to someone with your own brand on it.

See that previous paragraph up there? Get out your brand-new red sharpie and circle it on your monitor. THAT'S where I screwed up, my friends. That is exactly where my problems begin. Your problem is the red indelible marker on your screen.

The system came. On the outside, it looked pretty ok. Not terriffic, but good enough. Then I opened it up. The inside was a complete nightmare.

Cables were absolutely everywhere, and some genius had zip-tied them in place to make the disorder permanent. The audio cable from the motherboard to the DVD drive was OVER all the other cables, and resting right on top of the CPU fan. Nice. What really worried me was that the system had a Biostar motherboard in it. BIOSTAR? Oh, come on, Cybertron, could you have thrown a cheaper board in there?

I went to work cleaning up the cable mess, and discovered the dumbest thing I've ever seen a PC builder do: All of the components were hot glued into place. Hard drive, RAM, modem, and even the damned CPU were smeared with hot glue where they met the board or cables. I gazed in shock for a good long while. "Huh", I thought. "Hot glue. Wow."

I was discouraged. But in for a penny, in for a pound, and whatever happened now, I had to make work. I finished cleaning up the cables so that, you know, air could flow?, and then I got to work on loading the OS and (my) OEM software.

The thing is, just after I got everything loaded, the power supply fried and took the motherboard with it. I'm all for colorful language, but these days I'm making an honest effort to make it less blue, and this didn't help a bit.

Remember the hot glue? I sure as hell do. First I opened the power supply to make sure it wasn't just a stupid fuse. Nope, it was really dead, and I had voided the warranty by opening it up. Great. Please, I thought, let the motherboard still be ok.

As I said above, the board fried also. So I had to buy a nice, new Asus board and a better power supply.

What we haven't discussed yet is the hell that is trying to remove a CPU that has been hot glued to the heat sink, the CPU socket, and the CPU retainer clip. Oh yeah, and don't break it while you're at it.

This took some time, a good knife, a seriously mangled retainer clip, and lots of close calls.

So Dennis got his computer. He loves it. He has no appreciation for the hell he put me through because I did it his way.

And I had a brand-spanking new ruined power supply and motherboard. Now, I opened the power supply, and I know the rules. It's not fair, but dealing in computers can be crappy that way. No warranty for the power supply.

But the cheap-ass motherboard? Oh, you can bet that went back to Cybertron. They promised a replacement in a few days. I wasn't too excited to be getting a brand-new Biostar board, but I was pretty confdent I could find a use for it.

Two weeks go by. No motherboard. I called Cybertron.

Me: "Yeah, did you ship that board?"
Them: "Uh, nope, but we should have."
Me: "Why didn't you ship it?"
Them: "We don't know."
Me: "Fine, then, can you ship a P4 Intel board instead?"
Them: "Yeah, but we'll have to charge you $75 extra for it."
Me: (Long silence)..."Will that board cook meals and wash my dishes?"
Them: "No, but it's the very greatest MSI board ever!"
Me. "I asked for an Intel board."
Them: "Yeah, but we thought you'd like this better."

I'm far too nice to these people. Much haggling ensues. We manage to settle on the model number of an Intel board I want.

So the guy says he can sell me the board and that the price difference is $35...finally, a logical number...but he can't finalize it, a sales manager with a Middle-Eastern name has to, and he's not in today. Would I like him to call me tomorrow? YES.

Tomorrow comes. No call. I call them. "Oh, yeah!", says the first guy. "I was just about to call you!" Sure you were, bub. "Middle-Eastern guy is here today, but he has to do some research on the board, and he'll call you tomorrow." Grrrrr...

Tomorrow comes again. Once again, no call. Determined to get the deal done this time, I spend thirty minutes on the phone with Middle-Eastern guy. Finally, he says the magic words: "That'll be delivered to you on Wednesday, one week from today."

We'll see.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Some goals

As it has been so ably pointed out, I am lagging behind as a geek. It’s getting time to remedy that. To this end, I finished reading an A+ prep book today. I don’t know if I will ever take the test (I’ll be employed in a field where my knowledge of IRQ conflicts is irrelevant), but at least I know more than I used to. Playing with computers is a hobby of mine. It’s like working on beat up cars is for some men, but I tend to get less greasy (unless I forget to shower for a few days).

My point is that I’m like a caterpillar who is still in a chrysalis when it comes to a lot of the tech stuff. But I have big plans. I’m just not sure how many of them I’ll be able to realize and still have a happy marriage. My immediate goals (over the next few months, anyway) are:

1) Get a high speed internet connection. (The foul demons at Comcast don’t offer cable internet in our neighborhood, even though they do offer digital cable. What’s up with that?)

2) Establish a web server, with HTTP, FTP capabilities at least, accessible from the web.

3) Get MRTG running with the RDDTools package.

4) Register a domain.

5) Get a laptop.

I’ll consider a key drive, but I’d like to point out that they’re only that prevalent among the people Jake hangs out with (excluding me). I get the same functionality out of a shared folder that is also available via FTP. It’s done well for me, at least since I changed from the Cerberus FTP server software. There’s nothing so frustrating as trying to download a folder with hundreds of small files when your FTP server is taking several minutes to start each one.

Celebrating Five Years of Being Shot Down...

A brand new blog. *Sniff*

So I fired up WinAmp. You know, like I'm prone to do.

I figure I'd better start this thing off with a bang, and some tunes would be just the thing to get the thinker thinking, in theory. Wow, I've never alliterated with "th" before.

Anyway, I got WinAmp playing, and the wife fired warning shots over the poop deck, so to speak. (Eric is thinking..."Is the poop deck really what I think it is?", because he's a Simpsons-obsessed fanboy.)

She wants to prepare a lesson, for goodness sake. I almost said for gosh sake, but I don't want to go to heck.

So the lovely lady I'll have been married to for five years in five days (for today is the fifth!) wants no part of my inspiration-seeking merriment. I shan't tell her that she became the merriment instead. 'Twould be bad luck.

The Eric I badmouthed above set up this blog so that we'll have a place to share geeky things. Good idea, Eric. It shall be so. So...

Tomorrow I'm shipping off my Archos mp3 player to Mr. Mike at He's going to put in an 8MB chip and a 2800mAh battery for me. And this is the mp3 player I already put a 60GB hard drive in, so when it gets back, it will be killing iPods left and right with a simple nasty glare.

I do readily admit that iPods are prettier, but so are Macs, at least in theory, and I'm not at all attracted to buying a computer with less power, fewer software options, and an image that would hurt my hacker chic irreparably.

And again, iPods are smaller, but 1). show me one with a 60GB hard drive and 2). so is a Hyundai, but I'll keep my Accord, thank you.

MMMM...I need an Accord with a V6. faster, Faster, FASTER! I wannit.

Well, clearly, I'm tired and silly.

So just one more thing before I post this and imagine Eric doing something akin to a potty dance.

NEWS FLASH: Every credential-packing geek in the world EXCEPT YOU has a little USB flash drive these days, Eric. That's right, all of 'em.

You know why? Because soon your mother will have one, and you will have missed the opportunity to say, "Oh, yeah, I know all about those, and boy, any and every aspiring geek is already on his fifth one."

But no. Mommy will beat you, I'm afraid.

You know what's cool that I can do and you can't? Write an autorun file that gives my key drive a custom icon and pops up it's own Explorer window when I plug it into a PC. Cool, but not for you.

And WE ARE SHOT DOWN ONCE AGAIN! I thought a flash drive was a brilliant idea for a wedding gift. Cute little matching flash drives. The wife says it's a horrible idea. Worst ever. Five years of bad ideas and they all pale in comparison.

Eric, you're gonna love marriage. Maybe someday I will too.

Just kidding, honey! don't hurt me!