Monday, December 27, 2004

Semi-Final Guest List

Here's the guest list as of Mon, 27 Dec. 2004:

Roger Widdison (Confirmed)
Eric Widdison (Confirmed)
Gary Walker (Confirmed)
Leon Walker (Confirmed)
Andrew Walker (Confirmed)
Jake Wilcox (Confirmed)
Jeff Wilcox (Confirmed)
Krys Johnson (Confirmed)
Joe Oskiersky (Maybe)
Boyd and David Wheeler (Confirmed)
Sian Dagostino (Confirmed)
Becca Betts (Confirmed)

Once again...Bring your own PC, Monitor, Keyboard, SURGE PROTECTOR (Required), and Headphones. SPEAKERS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED. If you want to hear your game, you'll need headphones.

The directions to the party are here.

The party will begin whenever you show up after noon. You may show up before noon if you please, but you'll be helping set up if you do.

The food will arrive sometime between five and six.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Deck the Halls and Blow People Up, fa la la...

Well, it's well and truly the Christmas season, once again. This is going to be an interesting one, too. I've definitely got the "Christmas spirit" mindset, but I'm not sure I'm really feeling it. Maybe it's just cause I'm a nice guy all year, with my cliche keeping Christmas all year long.

At this point I would like to make it clear that I am not in a particularly bad mood, nor am I turning into the Grinch. Just having a little trouble getting into the holiday spirit is all. I do love Christmas and fully respect the people and religions which choose not to.

Changing gears slightly, this year, I can safely say that I'm giving better gifts than ever to date. Admittedly, I am sharing the credit for Mom and Dad's gifts, but I made sure I got everyone something they want. Giving is something I can really get behind. It makes me feel good. And when I feel good, I make those around me feel good. (Or is it the other way around? hmm....) Anyway, Karma, baby, Karma.

I recently had my foot worked on, and by order of the doctor, I have to "restrict movement" for a few days. In other words, I get to catch up on my gaming. Almost makes me wish I hadn't finished HL2. But, I have a new game to play with. Those of you who have never played Kingdom Hearts, give it a shot. It has come highly recomended, and I'm enjoying it so far. But first, play HL2.

On the subject of games in general, I have been hearing about problems with games expected to be played at the LAN party. These include HL (not source) not working while you've got HL2 installed and the Motocross codec (refer to his post earlier). Strange part is, I don't have these problems. I don't know if I should be proud or wierded out, because it seems like everyone else has them.

Well, now I'm starting to ramble, so everyone have a merry Christmas, a happy new year, and always give freely of your own heart.

One Important LAN Party Detail at the End, and Some Other Junk

I, once again, am on speed.
I have a new ADD doctor, and he wants to try yet another amphetamine. And that's why I was up reading until 3:30 this morning, and then only slept until 7:00. Fortunately, not only do you not sleep when you're on speed, you also don't feel like you need to sleep, so it all works out.
Oh yeah, and this is special extended release speed. So I feel weird all day, not just for a few hours after the initial dose. I just hope that this one doesn't depress me.
If you've tried to play Motocross Madness 2 lately, you may find that it won't run. That's because you're missing the Indeo codec, which Microsoft bombed in all versions of WinXP since SP1. Stupidly, you only need the codec to run the demo at the beginning of the game, but if you can't run the demo, you can't play either. Stupidly.
Indeo used to belong to was their in-house video format (Intel+Video=Indeo), but they figured they didn't need it anymore and sold the IP rights to a band of highwaymen known as Ligos.
Ligos wants $15 a pop from Windows XP users for the codec. For a damned codec that you probably won't use except to run the demo for MCM2, in which case you'll probably press Esc so that you don't have to watch it again, they want $15.
Fortunately, we live in the Internet Age, wherein most things, if not all, are possible. In this case, we're going to download and install a version of the Indeo Codec that predates Ligos going all corporate greedy, yet still works fine in Windows XP. See?
(Take that, Ligos. Bastards.)
You know what? Speed makes me feisty.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Directions to the LAN Party, Phone Numbers, other Info.

The time is drawing near. We now have at least ten confirmed attendees and there will probably be more. This means that Leon and I need to order more food than we originally planned, but we can afford it, because more people will be paying the cover.
Once again, we are having Garcia's brought in. Yum. The cover charge is $10. Plan on it.
Please bring a network switch if you have a spare one. Leon has an old 10 MB/sec 24 port hub, but we'd rather not drag that thing out if we don't have to, and we're not even sure that it works.
Here is Leon's address in Kaysville:
350 N. Seemore Drive
Directions: From I-15, take the Kaysville exit. Coming off of the exit, turn West onto 200 North. If you're coming from the South, that's a left turn. If you're coming from the North, it's a right turn.
You should pass a car dealership right by the freeway as you head West.
Further down on the right, you'll see a nice park. This means you're going the right way. There's another park right next to the first one that has a sign blocking the parking lot that says the park is closed for winter. Keep heading West.
You'll see an LDS church on the left. Then you'll see a Baptist church across the street from the LDS church, also on your left. Keep heading West.
Fields. There are fields on the left and right, but mostly on the right. **CORRECTION** The train tracks are no longer there. Just take the first right-hand turn AFTER the churches.
Take the next right. It's called Seemore Drive. This is Leon's street. He lives at the very end of the street, on the right-hand side. There is parking in front and at the side of the house.
Here's an aerial photo of Leon's neighborhood. Seemore Drive is the road that ends in a "T", not the one that has a cul-de-sac. His house is the one on the right-hand corner next to the cul-de-sac. Yeah, the one with the huge back yard.
If you have any problems, questions or other concerns about the party, you can email me at ohbejake (at) earthlink (dot) net, or you can call my cellular phone at nine four oh, fifteen oh six. Got that? If you don't know the area code, go away.
Agent double oh nothin', out! (This message will self destruct. Well, not so much self destruct, more self deflate, like a two-week-old balloon that your kid got at some cheesy restaurant before you could stop the zitty minimum wage employee from handing it to him. And then you drive home with the damned balloon in the rear view mirror the whole way, and when it's not blocking your view, it's hitting you in the back of the head. Two weeks later, you find it wrinkled and sickly under a bed, and so you mercifully whip your knife out of your back pocket and put it out of its misery. And that's how this message will self destruct. In about two weeks.)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Yet Another New Year's LAN Party Update

Here's what the (potential) guest list looks like:

!! UPDATED 21 Dec. 2004 !!

Roger Widdison (Confirmed)
Eric Widdison (Confirmed)
Gary Walker (Confirmed)
Leon Walker (Confirmed)
Andrew Walker (Confirmed)
Jake Wilcox (Confirmed)
Jeff Wilcox (Confirmed)
Stan Wilcox (Maybe)
Krys Johnson (Confirmed)
Joe Oskiersky (Maybe)
Boyd Wheeler (Probably)
David Wheeler (Maybe)
Sian Dagostino (Confirmed)
Becca Betts (Confirmed)

I've read through Eric's list of HL mod maps and we may use some of them. More later.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Prognosis Negative

I'm with Jake right now, and we're done troubleshooting the troublesome system. We concur that the motherboard is fried. Looking on the retailer's website, I can't find it, so I may be screwed. I did find a great deal on an ASUS board, which I will likely be much happier with. I need to talk to Zip Zoom Fly RMA tomorrow, and this whole build thing will have to start over again in a week or so.

Happy Hannukuh.

Updated LAN Party Planning

The guest list in particular needs updating.
Oh, and my apologies to Jeff. He didn't load the wrong driver on Mom's system...he didn't even touch it. I was the installer for the print server on that machine, and it turns out I did it right. I fiddled with it and it suddenly started working. Sorry again, Jeff. Thanks for all your help. haven't reminded me to tell you about keeping a MAC address database. Believe me, you want to do this, and I'll tell you why. Later.
Here's the updated guest list:
Roger Widdison (Eric's little brother)
Eric Widdison
Gary Walker
Leon Walker
Andrew Walker
Jake Wilcox
Jeff Wilcox
Stan Wilcox (Bit of a pattern developing, no?)
Krys Johnson
Dan Carver
Joe Oskiersky (The HTML barfed last time I tried to spell his name right.)
Lowell Layton (Crystal's Brother)
Sian Dagostino (A Woman! (pronounced "See-Ahn"))
Becca Betts (Sian's friend, probably won't be playing.)
Roger, Dan, Andrew, Gary, Stan, Krys, Joe, and Lowell all need contacting and RSVP'ing.
I can get Krys, Joe, and Lowell. Leon and Eric, can you guys get the rest?
So far, we've had about two votes for Subway, and three for Garcia's. One of the votes for Garcia's is cast by the host, and so it looks like Garcia's is definitely in the lead. I'll visit them today and see what they can do for us. They may not even operate on New Year's Day.
Don't forget, folks...there WILL be a cover charge. So if you're calling someone to let them know about the party, don't forget that part. We don't know how much yet, but I'd like to keep it under $10 and I definitely can't see going higher than $15. Leon and I will get solid numbers as soon as we can.
Once again, the games menu will be 1.) Microsoft Motocross Madness 2, and 2.) Half-Life 1 Multiplayer Death Match.
MCM2 is long out of production and can be had from Froogle for $10 and sometimes less. I saw some on Ebay for as little as $5. If you don't have Half-Life by now, shame on you.
I strongly advise that you come to the party with at least game control skills. If you don't know where the "jump" button is, we'll be happy to help, but you really ought to have that down before you arrive. That sort of problem makes for a frustrating experience.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Build Update

This weekend, I tackled my third attempt to build a computer from scratch, my first time working solo. Things did not go well. The following is from a pair of emails I sent to Jake to recap my struggles.

Here's the story:

I put the computer together without any problems hardware-wise, except for that time I had to reseat the processor. When I came to installing Win2K, it went through the setup normally until the first reboot, at which point it got to the flash screen and stopped. Suspecting a video problem, I tried it with three different video cards (a basic PCI card, a 64 MB PCI Radeon, and the AGP Jetway card I got from you), with the same results every time. I tried both of the 64 MB cards in my main system, and both worked normally (although the PCI card was predictably much slower).

Installing Windows XP (Home or Pro) also runs normally during the first stage of install, but after the first reboot, both go to a black screen and stop. The system can boot to Win98SE, but why bother? When booting from a Knoppix disc, it uncompresses the OS and prints a message that it is ttarting the kernel, at which point it stops.

Quicktech 2000 (from the SDB disc) runs on the system if it is cold (it freezes before offereing a burn-in when the system is warmed up), and it finds no errors in its automated tests. It does hit problems when checking video modes. With one video card (the AGP one), it failed to load two VGA modes, and with the PCI Radeon card, it failed to load the text-only VESA modes. This doesn't seem relevant to the issue, since different modes are available with different cards, but the behavior of the system has been independent of the card.

The power supply voltages are all close to +/- 3.3, 5, or 12 V except for one wire that has nearly 13 V, but that should still be in tolerance. I've reset the BIOS settings with no success (the BIOS is really complicated). I've used two hard drives, including a brand new 200 GB drive. The 40 GB drive has passed all of the Quicktech tests, even after several passes.

The board is a brand new Chaintech Summit board. It has all the usual stuff (IDE, 5 PCI, AGP, ect), plus onboard LAN, 8 USB, SATA, and onboard audio. I don't think the problem is hard drive related because nothing has identified a problem with a hard drive specifically, and because Knoppix won't boot (it runs from CD, independent of hard drives). I haven't had the 200 GB drive plugged in except for one time when I was checking to see if the 40 GB drive (which is older) was at fault. It didn't make any difference.

The processor is an AMD Athlon XP 2700+. The 200 GB drive is a WD, and the 40 GB drive is a Maxtor (it predates my realization that they suck, but you work with what you have). The power supply is a 450 W supply, but it's probably a really cheap brand.

It just occurred to me that if I billed my time at the same hourly rate I get at work, this project is nearing the point where the labor exceeds the parts.

I’m very frustrated at this whole thing. I got past the hardware build, which is where I am relatively inexperienced, and now I’m stuck at the OS installation, which I’ve done dozens of times.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Planetary "Um"

I need to write...right now, if only for a lack of anything better to do. Since I quit this semester, I don't even have homework to do, or not to do and to inspire me to find something more interesting to do.
Even if I did, this would probably end up being that more interesting thing anyway.
I think Jeff loaded the wrong driver on my Mom's computer when he installed the networked printer for her. When she tries to print, it prints several thousand copies of gibberish. Can we be more careful next time, Jeff? I'm going to have to fix this now.
I went on a tour with WEA yesterday to Petersen Manufacturing Inc. in Farr West. It was fascinating.
One thing that struck me is that Steve Petersen knows every little facet of his business. He knows how every part is manufactured, he knows where every part is going, what it will be used for, and he calls his 430 or so employees each by name.
I asked him how much of his day was spent walking the floors of his factories, and his answer explained a lot of how he knows everything about everything. He said that 30% of his day is spent walking the floors, and that's not as much as he'd like. So that's quite a bit.
I've heard the term "management by walking around" before, and I believe in it. Yesterday's tour only reinforced that belief.
I want my business. I really do. I want a job where I enjoy going in every day, and it's a sacrifice to call in sick. And I have no interest whatsoever in writing a resume ever again. It seems to a certain degree that going somewhere and asking for a job is a form of begging.
There's a weakness in not being able to find your own value to society and creating the job that you need. I'm afraid of my own employment philosophy. God, what if I'm right? Scary stuff, and a sad commentary on American society's ugly streak of unemployment.
The other night Crystal and Julianne and I took the kids to Salt Lake to see the lights and a star show. Star shows aren't what they used to be, and neither is the planetarium, so we ended up seeing an IMAX 3D show called "Snowman Vs. Santa Claus." The 3D stuff scared the kids a couple of times right at the start, and it was hard to get them to keep their 3D glasses on. And then the show was only 30 minutes long...not worth the $8 per adult and $5 per child that we paid.
We had hot chocolate after the show, and then we drove around Temple Square to get a peek at lights. Rachel fell asleep in the car on the way home. I reminisced about falling asleep in the car and waking up to my Dad picking me up and carrying me to bed. I must have been five or six years old the last time that happened. It was about that time, too, that I was getting too big for my Dad to flip me on my bed. He hurt himself doing that once, and he didn't take the chance again.
I miss the Hansen Planetarium. It was in a grand old stone three story building that had creaky stairs and wrought iron banisters in it. There was an old phone booth in the lobby that belonged in some kind of period movie where Marty McFly has to make an emergency phone call to "Doc."
They also had an ultra-cool plasma sphere on the main floor that was a good three feet or so in diameter. Big damn thing. And if you stood up on its pedestal and touched it and then touched your friend who wasn't on the pedestal, you could give him a wicked zap.
Sure, the Clark Planetarium is a cool place, and I'll take my kids there, but it's not the neat old place that I learned about stars in. Kids need to know this stuff.
Well, I don't know what I'll do for the next four hours, other than sit in front of this computer. Looks like it's going to be a long shift. But my writing is rambling.

When it rains…

It started when I went to visit Jake last month. We looked at my motherboard, and realized that it was having some problems. The chipset fan was not running, and so he (hot)swapped it with one he had on hand. He also noticed a number of capacitors that were blown. While I’ve been fond of this motherboard, I haven’t been overly impressed with it, and so I figure it’s a good time to just replace it. I would have done so already, but I am under strict instruction to not mess around with the computer until my wife is done with school for the semester, which is still a week away.

Monday morning, amid frigid temperatures, I went out to start my car and clean the windows. By the time I was able to see out, the car had stopped, and wouldn’t start again. I tried for a while, and then went in for a bit. I finally got it started half an hour after I first went out. It ran all day, and the next. Wednesday, I took my wife’s car, which starts fine, and Thursday I tried my car again. It wouldn’t start, except that this time it was much warmer. We tried several times during the day, and finally it got towed to a shop.

I just got the diagnosis. One of the cylinders is going out. Their recommendation was to take it home and try to help it be comfortable until the time came. In retrospect, it sounds like the spark plugs were bad, and so now that they’ve fixed those, the car should be fine for the foreseeable future, although it is still dying. It’s had problems ever since I got it 6 years ago, and until this week, it’s been running better than it did right after I got it.<>

<>What this visit to the shop does is it gives me some impetus to replace the car before I have to go through another summer in that unconditioned greenhouse. I guess it is time for a new car. And a new motherboard. Oh, and a new house. Except that I may put that one off for a while, unless our apartment floods.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Right Now I Feel The Best I've Felt All Day

Which is really sad. Really. Sad.

I walked out of my WEA leadership meeting this morning, because I just couldn't stand the thought of being there anymore. And the meeting wasn't bad...I was. So I left.

The week is off to an ominous start, but tomorrow I'm going to sushi with Leon, and I've found sushi with Leon to be at least as effective at helping with my attitude as therapy was all those years ago.


This weekend, Leon and I exchanged Christmas gifts...he got the Radeon 9600SE that I bought him, and I got the 250GB SATA hard drive he bought me. As I was handing him things to take home, he took the hard drives and the vid card, thinking he could pull a slick one.

Then I helped him realize that if I had to wait for Christmas, so did he. Suddenly there was a new hard drive in my hands.

We took an hour or so installing the drive in the server...the server won't boot unless you have the BIOS settings for the SATA drives just so...then Leon went home and I spent until 2:00 am moving partitions around until I had things the way I wanted them. The new Video Drive is an impressive 232GB all by its little self, after formatting. It'll take some work to fill it up.

Leon installed HL2 today, and I expect I won't hear much from him after sushi tomorrow and before he's done getting through HL2 by himself in hard mode.

I managed to get the new wireless access point that's built into my DSL modem running this weekend. I had tried to get it going a couple of times before, but this time I finally figured out that it called what I was doing on my other AP a "pre-shared key", or PSK. That could have been a little more intuitive. But it's running now, and that's good.

Here's something interesting: Leon and I both run 128-bit WEP encryption. But my key is 13 digits and his is 26 digits. I think we had a little hex vs. binary snafu. That'll have to be worked out later.

Oh, Leon? Remind me to tell you the advantages of creating and storing a database of the wireless MAC addresses that you authorize on your network. Mkay?

Finally, I tried and tried to get my WinServ2k3 machine to serve FTP this weekend. It is not intuitive, and it still doesn't work. Maybe I'll just install the FileZilla server and call it good. But I've got such a nice, shiny OS, I'd really rather use the built-in FTP server. If it continues to be a pain in the ass...well, nevermind. It already has been one, so I'm going to FileZilla. is a nice little piece of work. I had a student in the lab crying a couple of weeks ago because her PowerPoint file had been corrupted and wouldn't open anymore.

I suspected that OpenOffice would fix it, but I didn't have a copy handy, and I didn't have time to download it and try it at the time.

I did hang on to a copy of the file, though, and the other day I tried it. Sure enough, where PowerPoint barfs, OpenOffice runs like a champ. If you save the file in OpenOffice and then re-open it in PowerPoint, it works perfectly.

Scoble? Are you listening? Your PPT guys need to hear about this. $550 software suites are supposed to work better than the free ones, not worse.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

It's beginning to look a lot like a LAN party

Is this party for New Year's day? I'm in.

I can bring a switch, and I may be able to get another player into the game. My little brother proved himself to be a worthy opponent at Half-Life.

As for catering, I like Subway. I know some Subway people and can talk to them.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, December 03, 2004

LAN Party Details Briefing (Stand by for De-Briefing)

I'm working at the Davis Lab and Leon is sitting here. I think it's a good time to hash out some details for the party.
Here's the list of invitees so far:
Andrew (?)
Dan Carver (?)
Jörg (Known as "Joe" to you American types)
Lowell (Crystal's older brother)
It's at Leon's place, in the basement and library. The food will be upstairs, but you can bring it down and eat in front of your own computer if you choose. We have a reasonable player limit of twelve.
Leon and I will set up camp in Leon's room, for which I'll bring a wired router so that I'll have a place to plug in. If someone (Eric, I'm looking in your direction) could bring another switch or two, then that would be great.
Now, regarding food...
We need to arrange catering. Leon and I are planning this thing, and we're open to input. But we're not bringing in Baja Fresh again, dammit.
So, here are some local places that cater. Please give us feedback on your preference:
Tasty's (High probability)
Togos (Sandwiches)
Garcia's (Excellent Mexican)
Panda Express
Overall, Leon and I lean toward Garcia's, Tasty's, or Quizno's. Any of those would be fine, and if I talk to a manager, we can probably be assured of the food arriving on time.
We also need to get some variety. So we're going to play some Motocross Madness 2 before dinner and Half-Life. We figure it'll be a good warm-up game. This is not set in stone. Whatever the group, or even factions thereof, want to do is fine. We're all there to have fun.
Everything here is subject to change. Leon wanted me to throw that in, just in case. OK? Ok.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

WEA Blog Update

WEA Leadership Members-
As you know, WEA now has a weblog. The link to the blog is: The weblog's purpose is to enable all of us to have written communication that is widely available to the entire group and to document our progress. An added benefit is that by reading each other's posts, we'll get to know each other better.
Soon each of you will be sent an invitation email to join the weblog. All you have to do to join the weblog (or "blog") is click the link in the invitation email and then enter in a few details about yourself on the web page that will open up. That's it. You're a member. Please click the invite link and become a member as soon as you receive the invite email...the link will expire after a few days.
There are a couple of tools on the weblog that can make using it easier to use. First, you don't have to log on to Blogger ( in order to post. You can go into your account settings once you join and create an email address that you can simply send your posts to, and they'll automatically be published to the blog.
Second, you don't have to check the blog all the time for new can have them automatically emailed to you if you choose. This is also done through your Blogger account settings when you're logged on.
Finally, if you use an RSS aggregator to gather your online reading materials, you can find an RSS feed link in the Blogger settings also.
To those of you shaking your heads and still not seeing the, well, you'll just have to trust me. But the following links may or may not help, if you've got a minute to glance at a couple.
1. How To Blog, from I agree with some of this, and some of it is bunk. Your mileage will vary.
2. Defective Yeti. His kid is cute (check out this post!), and if you don't laugh, you're made of stone.
3. BoingBoing. The Grand Dame of weblogs. BoingBoing is very hard to explain. But go ahead and see how it strikes you.
4. Obscure Store and Reading Room. Sort of a clearinghouse for all those man-bites-dog type stories that are becoming so common. When you see something unusual on CNN, odds are these guys had it a few days earlier.
5. 5ives. Guy has random thoughts in groups of five. Guy posts them online. Here's an example: 
  1. Mr. Bob Dobalina
  2. Thorstenson Finlandson
  3. Rrrrrrrrrroberto!
  4. Bubb Rubb
  5. Dr. Julius Kelp
6. Scobleizer. Robert Scoble is a Microsoft employee who writes about working at Microsoft. He uses his blog to communicate with other MSFT employees, talk about projects he's working on there, and clearly states what he feels Microsoft does right and wrong. This is sort of where I envision the WEA blog going, but with more people.
So that's about it. Watch for your invites, and don't hesitate to email me with questions...or better yet, post them to the blog!