Thursday, March 31, 2005

Happy Anniversary, Phischkneght!

One year ago, in an attempt to introduce a friend of his to the blogging world, a novice blogger started a second web log and invited his friend to join. One year, 6 (or has it been more) members, and 122 posts later, it has become more than he ever hoped for. Thank you everybody for participating, either by contributing or by reading.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

No Page File For You

I've been working my Tablet PC progressively harder lately.
 
I run several applications at once, usually on the order of 5-10 windows, and it's been getting new tasks, such as running mapping software that talks to my GPS, and MS Streets & Trips, which the GPS talks to. Both of those programs involve loading huge, detailed map files to RAM.
 
The real resource hog, though, is Virtual PC. It's another of MS's offerings that the academic licensing program has given to me for free. I've had it sitting around for a while, but then I realized that it would be a good way to learn Linux without sacrificing a computer or fiddling with a multi-boot environment. I've done both, and when it comes to Getting Real Tasks Done vs. Learning A New OS, the tasks win every time.
 
With Linux on a virtual install, though, I have immediate access to Windows and I don't have to feel bad about the computer I've installed Linux on that I never use anymore. Almost the opposite, in fact. I'm working my ultra portable as if it were a desktop replacement.
 
So I decided it was time for a RAM boost from 512 MB to a full Gig. I thought that I had a single 512 chip in this machine, but when I opened it up, I found a disappointing dual 256 configuration. So I made a call to Josh at Prime Systems and asked if he could turn my two 256's into a single 512. He did, free of charge. I wanted to pay, but Josh wouldn't let me.
 
By the way, I highly recommend buying from Prime Systems in Kaysville. They treat me well and they'll do the same for you. And I do not recommend buying from Totally Awesome Computers. Trust me. I've never heard one of Totally Awesome's customers rave about their excellent service. More on this later, probably at Confessions.
 
Unfortunately, I wasn't in a position to buy the other necessary 512 from Prime because I had already found a killer deal on one online and placed the order.
 
The system ran a little slower with just the single RAM chip installed, but the second 512 came the very next day. When I opened the package, I discovered that the 512 that I ordered and the 512 Josh had given me were identical. Sweeeeet. The upgrade took about 45 seconds, and that was taking it slow.
 
The system's performance since the upgrade has been noticeably snappier. I've been running on the Gig for about ten days now without any problems, so last night I killed my page file. And guess what? I think the Tablet is even a little quicker now. But of course, I'll backtrack if anything goes wrong.
 
Last night I spent a couple of hours working on my server. I fiddled with it back in January, and something I did made it stop responding to file requests about once per week. It would then hang while rebooting, forcing me to hard reboot it by disconnecting power and then reconnecting.
 
I suspect that a misconfigured application server was causing the problems. A while back I was all obsessed about having FTP access on the server, so I enabled IIS and Application Services on it to use the built-in FTP capabilities. That didn't work, so I simply switched to Filezilla Server, but forgot to turn off all of the other junk that I had turned on and never got to work.
 
If that was indeed the problem, then I think I've got it fixed. I also installed System Restore to the server back in January (it isn't part of the OS out of the box like in XP), so that enabled me to restore the machine to a point around Jan. 15. If there was a crooked registry setting crashing the server, that should be fixed now too.
 
Now that my Tablet has a Gig of RAM, I've strongly considered upgrading my desktop and the server. But the thing is, they don't seem to need upgrades...they both run just fine on the 512 I've given each of them. My desktop only runs slowly when I'm ripping some kind of media on it, which is going to happen no matter how much RAM is in there. And the server only runs slowly when it's about to crash. And if I fixed everything like I think I did last night, that shouldn't be a problem anymore.
 
And so my weakest system, horsepower-wise, has the most RAM. Ooh! I bet I'll get a performance boost on the Tablet in Half-Life now!

My Opening Comments

I'd like to thank Jake for his generous introduction. He's a good guy and a good friend. I've lurked around here since immediately before the infamous Halloween LAN party.

This is my first venture in to blogging and as such, I most likely will make mistakes. Nothing new really, I make mistakes all of the time. I've become quite good at making them, and one day I hope to also become adept at ammending them.

I'll admit I have a problem with entrepeneurship, and maybe I should go into counselling for it. Then again, maybe I should dress up like the Queen Mother and tell everyone that "We are NOT amused." I'm not really sure where to go with this, but I'll figure something out, I always do.

Wrapping up, Jeff you're totally right, that librarian is a bitch. You will survive to be much more satisfied with life than that dried up old hag, so enjoy the best revenge of a life well lived.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Spring Broke

I've been feeling increasingly weary of my school schedule and lab aide duties, so I arranged not to work during spring break.
I also vowed to do as much fishing as possible, and not to do anything that looked or smelt of school work.
Here's some of what I did do for the past week:
  • Ignored new email.
  • Listened to three audio books, started a fourth.
  • Fished in a reservoir that, looking back, probably had no fish in it.
  • Found about 40 golf balls at the reservoir, as it neighbors a golf course.
  • Cleaned about 40 muddy golf balls in my bathroom.
  • Threw my denim jacket, muddy from collecting golf balls, in the laundry.
  • Took Julianne to lunch at Garcia's.
  • Ignored a phone call from my aunt, who always has computer problems.
  • Went to sushi twice; once with Leon for his birthday (again), and once with Dave (who posted here exactly once).
  • Went to a star show at the new Clark Planetarium.
  • Visited several video rental stores, looking for four DVDs in particular.
  • Researched joining a DVD rental by mail service, as none of the brick-and-mortar places had what I want.
  • Broke my black leather executive chair by removing the arms (I guess it needed them) and then attempting to lean back.
  • Ignored my blog reading, resulting in something like 1,500 posts waiting to be read this morning.
  • Got my hair cut.
  • Bought a beard trimmer and trimmed furiously.
  • Got sick, just in time for school to start again.
  • Took lots of drugs last night to guarantee I'd sleep, wandered around in a drugged-up haze until about 3:00 pm today.
But it wasn't all fun and games.

Anyway, I'm sick and tired now, and this is after a week of rest. Maybe getting back to my schedule will distract me from the sickness until it wears off and the tiredness until I die.

The audio books I listened to were:
and

And last night, in the last few remaining minutes of my wheezing spring break, I started another B&N Portable Professor selection called "Vault Of The Heavens: Exploring the Solar System's Place in the Universe." Last night I listened to the introductory lecture, and it was excellent.

"Me Talk Pretty One Day" was good once you stick it out until about halfway through, where the author really finds his groove and tells some genuinely funny stories. The ones about the interplay between his sister and his dad are very funny.

"Patriots..." was very good if you're an American Revolution buff or would like to be one. It does a particularly good job of highlighting just how unlikely the Revolution was on the whole, and how very, very unlikely it was that it would turn out the way it did. It also did a good job of humanizing the founding fathers, i.e.: Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Franklin. These guys were moral heroes of their time and contradictory to the cause of morality at once. It's a fascinating audio course.

Fresh Air Laughs was good, but not as good as I'd hoped. It is really just collected interviews with Terry and various comedians, talking about serious subjects with funny bits dribbled here and there. That's not what I paid $20 for. Disappointing overall.

Once I'm done with "Vault Of The Heavens", I'll listen to Joe Mantegna's narration of Sun Tzu's "Art Of War." Joe's in a lot of gangster shows, but I know him as Fat Tony on the Simpsons. This should be interesting. An Italian American reads a 2,500 year-old Chinese classic on warfare philosophy. (On the next Oprah.)

Oh, and during the break, Krys asked for membership to Phischkneght. I granted it in the hope that he'll become a regular poster. As far as I know, everyone here knows or at least has met Krys and feels positively toward him, so this shouldn't be a problem.

He also requested membership to Confessions, which mystifies me. I'm all for my friends joining Confessions and giving their input on entrepreneurship, but as I understand it, Krys equates entrepreneurship with selling one's soul to Elizabeth Hurley (not such a bad idea, actually). This is not an attitude that would be conducive to my intent with that blog, so once he clarifies his intentions I'll make a decision there.

One last thing...I've put Confessions on the Phischkneght mailing list, so new posts there should show up in your email if you're subscribed to the Phischkneght list. If there's an uproar, I'll change it, but I think it will be a good thing on the whole.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

It’s getting a bit Linky

This weekend, I finally tried out (or rather, I finally got to work, although I think I was installing it wrong before) a new Mozilla extension called Linky. I’ve got to tell you, it’s fantastic. It allows you to select multiple links on a page and open them all at once in separate tabs or in separate windows. It works in both Firefox (the standalone browser) or in the bulkier Mozilla package (which differs only slightly from the latest versions of Netscape, mostly in terms of association with AOL).

The verdict: I love it. Now, instead of slowly wading through links that I want to browse, I can just select a whole page of them and open them all in one fell swoop. How did I ever live without them.

I also discovered why downloading things took so long. It turned out that I had 4 MB of completed downloads still loaded into my download manager. After a quick purge (after several times locking up the program trying to purge through proper channels), things are running smoothly again, and my love of all things Mozilla is renewed.

(Note: for the latest version of Linky, go to the developer's site. If you download from the Mozilla site, you'll have to update again soon after.)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Man, that Librarian's a Bitch

Hopefully you'll excuse my language throughout this post, but I'm a little pissed today. Besides, not only have I been saying that the librarian is a bitch for 2 years, but I think Jake can back me up on it. The librarian at DHS is a bitch. Want to know why I'm choosing to slanderize a faculty member today? Okay, I'll tell you.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been working on an entrepreneurial project for some months now. Tying it in with my entrepreneurship class was a no-brainer. Now, the server I operate off of does not allow for the design or content freedom I want. So I started a blog. After reminding my associates (for lack of that better term which currently escapes me) to join at least once a week for about a month, I was annoyed that only I and one other had actually joined. So today I took it upon myself during our meeting to make sure that everyone would be a member by the end of the day. Heading down to the local school library, I, Andy (Leon's brother) and one other associate headed down to the school library. Now, I had reminded everyone yesterday to bring their ID cards so that they could use the computers, So naturally, I expected everyone to have ID cards. Andy came through for me, but Andrew (my other associate) did not. OK, well, we wouldn't be long, and, I reasoned, if it causes a problem, I'll explain that it's for a class (which it is). If that doesn't work, I can take over for him.

So, we quietly sit down, and while I work out some some previously unassesed email problems, the librarian comes over and starts quizing us on what the hell we think we're doing in her library using her computers.

"Is this school work?"
"Yes."
"Really?"
"Yes it's for entrepreneurship. These guys are with me."
"Do you have ID cards?"
"All except my pal here."
"Well, he can't use the computer if he doesn't have a card. Whose is that?"
"Mine."
"Is this school work?"
"Yes. It's for entrepreneurship. Mr. McCauley, period 8."

So after that scintilating conversation, she leaves and we continue, Andrew giving me instructions, only touching the keyboard to fill out his own personal information which, out of coustesy and habit, I don't ask him for, instead letting him enter it himself, as I said. As we get Andrew into the "Create you Account" area of blogger.com, and Andrew is filling out his username and password, the librarian comes over and tells us to log out. Asking her why, I get the generic "he can't use the computer without an ID" Explaining that he was merely filling out his personal info, we get told to log out, and calmly do so.

It isn't until later that I find out that Andy and I are both kicked off the server and no longer have use of school computers. Okay, I can handle a little bureaucracy. I just need to talk to a counselor and explain the situation, tell them it was a misunderstanding and maybe fill out a form saying it won't happen again. BUT THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE! Not only were given no notification that we were booted, but Andy was also booted. I'm all for doing a job and doing it well, but that's a little overzealous, don't you think? Sure, she took advantage of what little opportunity she had to boot me (and I've done much worse things than helping a friend sign up to be a blogger). Fine. But there was absolutely no reason to boot Andy too. The only thing he was guilty of was being complacent and following rules.

Sorry I've been long winded but it feels good to vent that anger. Hopefully I can put the bitch in her place by bringing to light what she did to an innocent student. I hate to see such injustice go unavenged.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Knifiquette

So. I got this idea last night that I wanted to write a post about carrying a knife, and maintenance and usage and blah this and blah that and so on about having a knife on you at all times. And so forth.

But probably far more entertaining is what inspired my sudden renewed appreciation for a handy knife at all times.

You see, a couple of days ago, I discovered a zit in a Very Personal Place. On a very special episode of The Jake Show.

And lately I haven't been sleeping (which probably explains why this post is being written at all) because I have sick children. Rachel coughs all night and Harrison opens his bedroom door several times per night just to hear me say "Harrison, get back in bed Right Now!" All in a booming daddy voice.

So knowing that I'd have to open the Davis Lab this morning and wake up at 5:30 am to do so, I went to bed at a pretty reasonable hour for me, 11:00 pm. What...Is that bad? Why are you laughing?

And as I was saying, I didn't sleep. And I was lying in bed trying to think peaceful thoughts and not be angry at the boy because, you know, he's just three and sometimes when you're three you just need comforting. But I'll be damned if I'm going to let him make a habit out of getting comforted every morning at 2 am. But I'm not angry. No. Don't confuse my firmness with the boy for anger. Daddies need to be strong. Little boys need daddy to be strong. I am strong for the boy. Outside of that, I'm more or less marshmallowy. Ahem!

Yeah. Well I'm relaxing in bed and the zit hurts. I know I'm not going to be asleep any time soon, and it hurts. So I went to the bathroom to kill it.

My family has a secret hiding place for a sharp pin so that when you need it--for just this sort of occasion--you don't have to search frantically. You just reach to the top of the bathroom door jamb, and there's the pin. Handy, right?

But it wasn't there. PANIC! Where's a Hitchhiker's Guide when I need one?

So I went to Crystal, who of course, was also not sleeping, but making a valiant effort at pretending-to-be-asleep-to-fool-her-body-into-making-it-so and interrogated her on the whereabouts of the desperately needed pin. She knew nothing, and nothing short of torture would get her to even lie about it.

So naturally, I went to my desk. For a knife.

You see, in the early morning hours, I am fearless. So make that a big damned knife. My Leatherman Wave. Heh. If this thing can't pop a zit, then a jackhammer can't.

So I'm once again in front of the bathroom mirror, this time with a zit-killing implement, and not even once flinching at the idea of bringing a very large, sharp metal object near my Very Personal Area with the express intent of taking advantage of the superb cutting qualities of said very large, sharp metal object.

Perhaps at noon something could have gone wrong. But at 2 am? Not on your life. The cutting took about half a second and went exactly as planned, no skin was lost (oh thankyouthankyouthankyou, Heavenly Entity for my steady hands), and what needed draining drained as planned.

And my appreciation for a good knife was reaffirmed. A scant 18 hours ago in my bathroom, lacking the proper implement but having skill enough to make it ok. And I slept really well from about 3:45 to 5:30.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Woah, That Jeff Guy is Posting?!

Unbelievable, I know, but hey, it's about time, wouldn't you say? At least I have tech related stuff to talk about today.

Like, for instance, my KVM, which I mentioned in a post a month or two ago. It was working great until about day before yesterday, when, all of a sudden, my mouse no longer responded. At first I wasn't concerned, because I had encountered similar problems when I first started using it. This time, however, was different. Unplugging and plugging back in didn't work. Logging out and back in didn't work. So, in a classic attempt to find the true source of the problem, I plugged in the mouse directly to my box. Suddenly I had a mouse again. Hmmm. That meant that something about the KVM didn't like my mouse or vice versa. So, I did what any rational, cash conscious techie would have done (or at least I hope they would have). I plugged in my nice M700 to my Windows box and hooked my old wireless ball mouse into the Linux box so that the KVM never has to worry about any nasty old mice again. Still, I do wish I didn't have to switch mice when I switch computers.

On an unrelated and possibly irrelevant note, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie is coming out 8 days after my birthday. Lately I've been reveling in the trailers (Jake introduced me to a third one today.) For more info on that, check it out here.

One final thing before signing off, I, like Jake, have created a blog for my business. At this writing, most of the intended members have not yet accepted my invites and the whole thing is rather underdeveloped, but it's there. Check it out.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Correction and Observation

For the record, I missed the WEA blog, which I have only visited once. I faithfully try to read everything else by Phischkneght contributors (Phischkneght, The Garden (yeah, I know that I’m the only one who writes in it, but theoretically people might leave me comments), PhischX, and now Confessions). Anyway, if I've inspired Jake to write something, then we're all better for it.

I’m running on 1-2 hours of sleep, due to my typical read myself to sleep method backfiring terribly on me. Dan Brown’s books are fairly ridiculous and choppy, but they can be engaging none the less. I really should turn off my brain when reading them though. For example: an antimatter containment canister uses some very powerful electromagnets, and while its location is unknown (within a few square miles), it is visible through a wireless camera that is part of the area’s formal surveillance equipment. Do you try to find it by: A) triangulating on wireless camera signals, B) searching for powerful magnetic fields, or C) looking for the faint energy signals from the batteries in the cannister. If you answered A or B, then you are thinking along the right track. If you answered C, you must be writing an overly abrupt book full of artificially exaggerated peril.

If your blog entries are pointless and rambling, you might be sleep deprived, although other entries demonstrate that I’m capable of incoherence without fatigue.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I Love Eric's Posts...

Because they give me something to talk about.
 
Eric, I've been in the three blog club for quite a while now. CoaBE is my fourth blog, after Phischkneght, PhischkneghtX, and WEA Blog. But maybe you weren't counting X.
 
Eric and Leon...what was it, about two years ago? I invited you both to my house, saying I wanted to start a business that offered WiFi in public areas for a fee, beginning with Layton Hills Mall. Now it has come to pass, and someone else is collecting the cash. Ah, well. I'm going to save the rest of my thoughts on this for Confessions.
 
And that reminds me...should I add Confessions to the Phischkneght Google Group, so that everyone gets a copy of each new post? Your choice. I get a copy whatever happens.
 
Leon and I are members of Happy Sumo's VIP club, but it's a pain in the butt to go into our email every time we want to link over to the specials pages. So here's the VIP menu, and here's the voucher and calendar page for March 2005. I don't know how Happy Sumo feels about these links being made public, but I do know that I didn't sign anything saying that I wouldn't share them. And if they're smart, they'll be delighted anyway. Free publicity rarely comes at such reasonable rates. (I kill me!)
 
I have a new monster to feed, and now I must go and feed it.

Goals (mostly for other people)

First off, congratulations to Jake on his new blog. He joins me in the Three Blog Club. More than that, I am glad that he’s refocusing on his goals. Entrepreneurial (it’s going to take me a while to get comfortable spelling this one) goals are hard to accomplish, but if anyone I know has the determination to see them through, it’s Jake. I plan to help him out where I can.

It’s ironic that today, the day that he posted his first entry to the new blog, I saw a place where one entrepreneurial idea he had was being implemented by someone else. If we had done better with that idea (like done anything with it), maybe we could be making a modest income from one of the more successful malls in northern Utah.

I think that I have a little too much risk aversion to throw my lot into a new enterprise. I’ve landed myself in one of the most stable jobs in the country, and I don’t have any immediate plans to add risk there.

On a related note, I’ve started practicing cryptography. I’m trying to hone my code breaking skills so that I can work on even harder codes. Interested parties can help my by giving me text files that contain messages that are 300 or more letters long. I’m especially looking for text that contains unusual frequency patterns (few occurrences of the word “the”, higher frequency of uncommon letters like b, c, f, g, j, k, m, p, (not so much) q, v, w, x, y, and z, and fewer occurrences of letters like e, t, and n). The best success I’ve had at finding text that’s hard to decode came from a blog of a person who learned to type in chat rooms. His review of Hitch took me quite a while to crack. Interested parties can send me texts at (first initial)(last name) at my addresses at hotmail.com or (preferably) comcast.net.

I’ll take any submitted texts and run them through a program that removes spaces, punctuation, and capitalization (already putting most texts on par with Rayjay’s work, except in terms of spelling), and then replacing the letters with a random substitution key. Analysis and decryption is done using some programs I’ve written in C++, and Excel. Code and executables are available on request.