April 9th, 2013
|08:48 pm - Ever see a gun permit?|
Well, here's a picture of a gun permit.
Current Mood: serious
March 21st, 2013
March 15th, 2013
|09:15 pm - Good Idea, Bad News|
For a couple years I had a part-time job, to help fill things in a bit, that took up every other weekend. The person who ran the place had another job as well, helping care for a few folks with some disabilities, including one fellow who had some sort of nerve disorder that kept him in a wheelchair and made it hard for him to communicate. I can only imagine how frustrating that must be, or have been, as his mind worked just fine, but it was trapped in a body that didn't operate very well.
I often wound up baking cakes or brownies, one of the nights before this job and brought them in. Sometimes coworkers would enjoy them, sometimes one would take the works home ("Oh, good, I forgot to make a birthday cake. I can use this!" happened once) and sometimes the manager would take it to the other job for "the guys." It got to where they decided to get me a covered cake pan to make it a bit easier for all of us - it would be less work for me to make a single sheet left in the pan than a layer cake, and it would be simpler to handle for them as it would take less care than worrying about a layer cake sliding around in a plastic cake container of dubious integrity. It worked out quite well.
I found out, eventually, about the wheelchair bound fellow and that any cake or brownie served to him had to be cut up into bite sized pieces (of course) and soaked in milk to make sure it was more than just normal cake soft and easily swallowed. After that I was careful about not adding chips or M&Ms or such to brownies for "the guys" as I might have done, to avoid complicating things.
It eventually occurred to me that a tres leches cake would be ideal - it's already soaking in milk. But such a thing needs refrigeration and generally the fridge didn't have room for a cake pan. That is, until recently, when I made a point of keeping one drawer empty or nearly so. A couple weeks back I made a tres leches cake (from a mix, as usual) to try it myself. I wanted to be sure of things before having anyone else try it, just to be sure of things. It worked quite well, as one would expect from a mix.
Last night I baked another, and this morning took it over with the explanation of why I choose that particular cake rather than something not needing to be kept chilled. And then I was informed, or perhaps re-informed that the fellow I had had in mind had died in November. I might well have been told that back in November and had forgotten or had not realized, by name. exactly who it was. So.. well, I felt rather awkward. However, evidently this fellow's name has been coming up a fair amount of late and the idea that someone was thinking of him will over well with "the guys." I still feel rather odd about this. I am pretty sure I was told but... somehow missed it or forgot in the few months or it didn't register that it was that person. And of course, it's too late for him, no matter how good the intent might have been. So, yeah, it's an awkward feeling.
Current Mood: awkward
February 17th, 2013
|10:14 am - Out of Time and Out of the Blue|
Back in 2009 I made a poll about Canada inspired or provoked by dumbbum_comics. A few days ago the instigator finally noticed it, voted, and commented thereon. Just a bit of lag there, but such things can and do happen.
But wait, that's not all. Rather out of the blue (or black, given my normal hours...) I got an e-mail from dumbbum_comics beyond the LJ notification of votes and comments. In his/their "Copius Free Time" some artwork had been created. While that may be nothing terribly unusual for such accomplished cartoonist(s), this one was a bit unusual as it involved me. Here, have a look behind this cut:
( Read more...Collapse )
Thank you, dumbbum_comics. And for everyone else, go have a look at the comics. Orvan is a bit fond of the Minos comic, go figure.
Current Mood: surprised
Current Music: Barty Aum - Rice and Beans
February 14th, 2013
|08:54 am - Keurig, after a few weeks.|
While the Flavia machine had the advantage of a larger water reservoir and smaller packets, I think the Keurig has won me over. The water reservoir is not that big a deal, and supply storage isn't too big an issue. The convenience of being able to purchase locally for it is certainly nice, but what really made it easy to get used to is that it removes the two complaints I had with the Flavia machine.
First, the Flavia machine only did an automatic fill (press & release the button, have it do its thing) with a packet inserted. Thus anything that merely needed hot water (instant coffee, tea, hot chocolate) required one to hold the button down until it either stopped or one decided that there was enough hot water in the cup. While doing that, not much else could be done. The Keurig machine needs more than a button press (have to lift and lower the top as if feeding it a K-Cup, then press the button) but once done, the rest is automatic. I can now start things and not have to babysit the machine as I deal with whatever else.
Second, the Flavia machine had a short space for a cup. That was enough to be a bit annoying even with a slightly taller than average cup, and a proper mug was right out. The Keurig design will take a mug. That mug can be full of ice for iced coffee, or can have two K-cups worth of whatever. Probably marketing/design genius to be able to use twice as much feedstock easily. But that also means one less trip to the kitchen or a very easy mocha: a cup of hot chocolate and then the coffee - which works out as the coffee takes care of the recommended run after the hot chocolate without the fill being a waste.
There are a few refillable K-Cup designs, and evidently Keurig's own is the one people like the least. There are a few. I've seen good reviews of the Ekobrew, and was thinking about ordering one when I saw a Java-Jig at Wal-mart. The java Jig has a couple advantages: It's cheap and readily available, and doesn't require any special orientation like the Ekobrew or partial disassembly like the My K-Cup. (And it has a better name than 'My K-Cup'). The disadvantage is that it uses tiny coffee filters that I am not sure about any second source. They do make it less likely that ground end up in the cup and probably make cleaning easier. The real downside is that using it does mean losing some of convenience of the Keurig - just pop in a K-Cup and go. It's very clearly a cost vs. convenience tradeoff. Well, there is another aspect and that is that the limited (wide, but still limited) selection of K-Cup blends can be expanded upon.
Current Mood: calm
Current Music: Cecilia Eng - Rocket Rider's Prayer
February 8th, 2013
|07:07 am - Lost Signal|
It's been nearly four years since having any TV signal at home. Sometime in 2009 we realized we were paying the cable company $50+ each month and watching precious little. We therefore did the rational thing and gave up the cable - and did not replace it with satellite as that would have had the same issue. The only 'free air' signal was one weak station from Mankato that barely came in, as analog. When the switch to digital happened, well, digital is all-or-nothing. We got nothing. For a little while I tried to see if I could get any translator re-broadcast signals (still analog, at least at the time. Not sure if that is still the case) without any real success.
And, overall, I find I really do not miss TV. Every great once in a while I go out to a place that has a TV. I find it generally annoys me more than anything. Curiously, it's not the commercials that are the most aggravating, but the (even more) vapid programming. When I travel, I find that if I'm at a hotel I don't turn the room TV on. I have a laptop, or at least the phone, and failing that, perhaps a book. I think the last time I tried to find something to watch, I tried to find news. Evidently CNN is not the place to look for that.
I am NOT claiming some superiority over those who do watch TV. I have no doubt that if I could get a decent, non-overpriced signal here I'd likely wind up watching something. There have been a couple times I've missed having a ready signal. I think one was some news event - but most of those are available over the net, sometimes even live streamed. It might be nice to see some shows that people mention. Doctor Who, and My Little Pony perhaps. Others, such as Jersey Shore and any 'talent' type show I am quite happy to not even be able see by accident.
We do have cable again, but not for TV. It's purely for network. DSL went down one time too many on a weekend when nothing would be done, even for the allegedly business class connection we were paying for. Result: No more DSL, and since DSL was the only reason we had the wired phone line, that went too. Voice-over-IP and cell is quite sufficient. The telling thing was that the cable folks did not press to get TV added to the package. That really says a lot, I think.
ADDENDUM: Since there seems to be a bit of confusion, I will clarify as I have in one reply:
Now, mind you, the post above is NOT a complaint, but an observation. If I really wanted to get TV signals, a good directional gain antenna with a pre-amp at the feedpoint would likely give me all the commercial networks & PBS with a one-time cost. But I don't miss them enough to to make that effort.
Current Mood: calm
Current Music: Spirit of the West - We Are the People of the Frozen North
January 27th, 2013
|11:46 pm - Appaloosa's Tale|
As mentioned a bit ago, I've spent the last few months slowly building up a fairly impressive machine for scarletcharnel. To satisfy any curiosity, the hardware is this:
Midtower case with three 120mm fans, one with red LED for a power light, there's audio jacks and a pair of USB 3 ports on the front panel
Rosewill HIVE 750 W power supply
A Gigabyte motherboard GA-990FXA-UD3 (AMD 990 chipset, AM3+ socket, USB3.0, 6 Gb/s SATA)
FX-8350 CPU (8-core, 4.0 GHz)
Xigmatek Gaia CPU heatsink/fan
32 GB RAM
2 TB Western Digital "Black" (5 year warranty) hard drive
DVD-R/W drive (Toshiba? not sure of make, it was simply an inexpensive SATA optical drive)
MSI GTX 660 (nVidia) Video card.
It was tempting to hang on to it longer. It
was is a really nice machine. But it did, at long last, get shipped and a few days earlier than predicted arrived safely (whew!) and was soon set up. I am not sure what exactly happened and might well never know, but what work I did to make Linux and Windows co-exist and any further setup was for nought as there was some issue and the disk was wiped for a Windows reinstall. (The only good part of that is that now nobody gets to make any silly claims that I have some stupid spyware or such on that machine. At least they can't make that claim not look both paranoid and idiotic.) Still, even with that setback, things were running with fairly minor delays.
Perhaps you wonder why this machine was built, why it's decidedly more than adequate, and why it took so darn long. I had known scarletcharnel on Second Life for some time but had noticed constant and increasing complaints of limited computing power. She was using a decidedly second-hand laptop that she was lucky to find and was unlikely to be able to replace, and it was aging, at least partly from hideously bad design: Air intake and outflow vents near each other, a 64 bit CPU in hardware that lacked 64-bit drivers, a maximum of 3 GB of RAM. And heat issues of a laptop that meant often an external office fan was needed to keep it just barely within operating specifications. I'm not sure when I started thinking about what it would take to replace that laptop, but I had been thinking of that in a theoretical way for a while. Nothing really came of it as I had been thinking of a replacement laptop and that's one big all-at-once expense.
One night I mentioned this pondering and was told that while a newer laptop would certainly be nice, a desktop machine would be better. Further consideration, over some time, lead to a long term project that was a race of acquiring parts when available at a discount if possible, against the ever-declining overheating laptop. The desktop setup meant I could get things one piece at a time and use some of the things I had around as temporary testing items. I had an idle Sempron, a spare CPU cooler for a Phenom II X6, a couple spare 1 GB DIMMs, and access to a couple older PCIE video cards. It wasn't enough to build a whole machine out of, nor anything for more than a quite basic machine, but it would let me make sure things like a DVD drive, power supply, and motherboard were working. Since this machine would also not be something likely to be replaced any time soon, building it a bit overboard for current needs was a Good Idea, though that meant an increase in cost, which translated to an increase in time.
Over the next several months parts were acquired and a system assembled in bits and pieces, fits and starts. For a while I even ran it off of a USB (2.0) flash drive just to have an operating system beyond a live-CD. The extra bits that were lying about were replaced in time, with the last replaced item being the video card. In the time of building, AMD released a new set of CPUs that was a good step up from what I had been planning and I was informed of a better choice of video card than I had been planning as well.
I had pondered a lower performance, but still quite adequate, machine with an older generation quad-core CPU, 8 GB of RAM, a 1 TB hard drive, and GTX 550ti video card. Aside from the modern hard drive, that would be the equivalent of percheron which is, while my secondary machine, no slouch. But that is today, and it is my secondary, rather than my primary. Thus the changes. The case was more gamer-oriented than I might care for, but the illuminated fan at least wasn't an overly bright annoying blue but a more understated red, the fans are a good idea (I am considering adding the equivalent to my own machines). Between the well ventilated case, the Xigmatek CPU cooler, and the dual fans on a lower temperature video card, the system ran cool. I was used to having to turn a "fan stopped" alarm off, but this had me wondering if maybe the temperature sensors weren't working right. I pushed the system as hard as I could think of, short of running a compile of something, and the highest temperature I ever saw on any of the system was 43 C. Not only does it run cool, it runs rather quiet at the same time, and it displays Second Life at a frame rate so high I tended to leave the viewer's graphics settings at "Ultra" with about everything enabled.
That aging laptop? Well, sure laptops are small and concentrated and things run hotter. But this was in the 80s (Celsius) regularly and once when the external fan had been left off, climbed into the 90s. I'm not sure if it was accumulated problems from high heat, or that there was no operating system disk with all the needed drivers and thus Windows simply had to keep on going without any wipe and reinstall, no matter what might have been done, but the thing was degrading with time, to the point that in the last couple months some things either became impossible or so slow and annoying that they simply were not done. I was even wondering if I'd need to make some quick arrangement to either send the new machine in a lesser state than planned (but at least working) or make some other arrangement. Fortunately such measures were not needed.
That's the technical bits and the reasoned justification. But I will admit to taking great pleasure in witnessing some of the reactions to the new machine. A sample of the reaction over a few days as things were experienced:
I positively adore this machine, I want to pet it.
I'm already spoiled with how fast Appaloosa moves.
0.0 Holy crap
Jesus, I'm on mid with everything but shadows at 157 fps
So bump it up to high... or ultra...
Ultra with shadows, 45 fps O.O
(For the record, Second Life servers only push out 45 frames per second, so nothing faster is really needed there.)
(On Second Life, one thing that will slow rendering is the presence of more avatars in view. The number can be limited to help increase performance.)
There's at least fifteen people here
hardly any lag, and things are loading so FAST
I was telling [REDACTED] I'd never had a lot of these things before, a lot, and was like 'wait, let's just sum this whole thing up, I have NEVER had a machine this powerful before, ever.
I went from a tiny laptop that had literally a .1-.5 FPS on ultra with shadows to a computer that tops out at 67ish with all the same settings.
Even friggin ArtRage runs better.
As if that wasn't enough, one thing accidentally got left behind on the old laptop and thus the laptop came out of retirement for a little bit so that item could be copied over. And the reaction was what one might expect, but it's always a jolt when one experiences it: The "Wow, is this ever slow. How did I get by with that for long?! I can't go back to that!" reaction.
Naturally, the initial excitement wears off and things return to normal, eventually. Except it's a new normal. Things that were barely possible have become easy. Things once assumed impossible have become possible. Things that were put aside a few months ago have returned. All the time, frustration, and at times cussing, fade away. I think I can claim that this particular collection of hardware is a success.
Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: Leslie Fish - Grandma Went Out With A Bang
January 20th, 2013
|10:39 am - A New Coffee Machine|
$WORKPLACE had a delayed Christmas party about a week ago and besides the meal there was a set of drawings. A few things attracted my attention and a few things did not. I was glad not to have wound up with a Minnesota Vikings carving and such. Not getting a 40-inch 1080p
monitor TV was slightly disappointing, but such things are expected. But I did walk out with a shiny new Keurig coffee machine. And for a week got asked if I'd set it up yet. I had not, as we had the Flavia machine and packets for it.
I hadn't been using the Flavia packets as I tend to think of them as Jay's, but he said go ahead and use up the Kona blend. There are more tea packets, but the Kona is gone now. Last night I cleaned up part of the kitchen counter (even under the microwave... that was overdue) and swapped out the Flavia and replaced it with the Keurig machine.
Jay did some checking and per cup, the cost for Flavia and Keurig is about the same. The Flavia packets take up less room than K-cups and I don't recall the Flavia machine having warnings about sharp bits to avoid. The K-cups are available locally and the Keurig's water reservoir is detachable and thus doesn't need another container to transfer water to it. I think the Keurig's water reservoir is smaller. I'm not sure which one uses more power than the other do keep the water hot, though the Keurig does have an option to let things cool after a couple hours idle and then would need a few minutes to heat up again.
I've a had few cups from the new machine now. Green Mountain's "Dark Magic" isn't excessively dark as I can drink it black, which is an unusual thing. Folgers Caramel Drizzle also works straight. And a hot chocolate gave a good accounting of itself. There's more to try, but I suspect I might go with Dark Magic might be my default "wake up" for at least a little while.
Current Mood: cheerful
January 13th, 2013
|07:59 pm - When you can't show Windows the door...|
For some time now, since at least August, I've been acquiring parts and building up a computer (for scarletcharnel). The hardware was the easy part. I had a bit of a time with a Linux (Xubuntu) install to test things out. I purposely held off on installing Windows (not my choice of OS, but this isn't my machine) until I had all the hardware that it would have to deal with. I did not want to deal with whatever nonsense Windows has about authentication and hardware changes. So, after I confirmed that everything was working, I set out to install Windows (7, 64 bit, Professional). And I cussed and grumbled more than I had in years.
It's actually fairly simple, but only to someone already familiar with Windows quirks. For a confirmed Linux user, it's an exercise in frustration as Windows consistently fails to do the right thing. So, here goes, for my own future reference, as through this I wound up with an extra copy of Windows (7, 64 bit, Home Premium) and might yet go though this again.
Zeroeth, set BIOS and such to use EFI mode, even for the DVD/CD drive. Yes, this is important. At least for the Windows install. If you do not do this, Windows will insist it cannot install to a GPT (bye bye MBR, we're using big disks now) partition. Linux will simply go where you point it. Set up the disk as GPT. I recommend PartedMagic for disk partitioning (gparted is your friend), re-sizing, and all the badgering you'll need to do make Windows co-exist with Linux.
First, be prepared to fully back up everything or lose it. Windows does not play nice with other operating systems and demands to be the first (and "only") thing installed on a fresh disk. Stupid, but it is Windows where stupid is standard. Now install Windows. It will whine that the system that booted many times just fine might not boot do to configuration issues. Windows is an idiot. Ignore the idiot and go on with the install. It will create three partitions: an EFI boot partition, a Windows recovery partition, and a Windows partition.
Next is to shrink the Windows partition to not take up the whole disk (besides the efi/boot and restore partitions). Allegedly Windows can do this itself, but I don't trust it any farther than one could comfortably spit a rat. I used gparted from PartedMagic and shrank the Windows partition. I also created another NTFS partition for the user that is at least somewhat isolated from the main Windows partition. If Windows must be reinstalled, it can do upgrades or repairs with less (though not zero) risk to the user data. Boot into Windows and let it cope with the new size of the world, which it will whine about. Too bad. In a glimmer of hope, Windows will see and mount the new user partition.
Unless you want to deal with the Linux install right away, now is probably the time to hunt down all the boxes the hardware came in and dig out the manufacturer's driver disks. You get to play disk swap for a while installing everything as Microsoft hasn't got a nice easy software repository to make life simple and easy. Also, it might need you to give drivers for drop-dead common networking hardware and stuff like USB ports. Yes, Windows really is an idiot.
Reboot with PartedMagic and use gparted to create the Linux partitions. I kept it fairly minimal with / and /home and swap. /home by itself for the same reason as the separate Windows user partition: keeping OS and user data somewhat isolated just makes sense. I made the Linux partitions (aside from swap, of course) ext4.
Another reboot with the Linux install disk and, if the hardware & software get along (I don't know why, but *buntu 12.04 tends to go black screen on new hardware for me) you simply install. As I wanted Xubuntu 12.04 and it wasn't behaving as it ought, I installed Xubuntu 11.04 and let it update itself to 12.04 when it asked. Yes, that 12.04 is goofy this way shows lack of clue somewhere, but at least I had networking and such right off. (Windows: Durrr, what's a USB port? Linux: Oh, hey, I found this camera on one of the USB ports, want me to take your picture for the login screen?). At the end, install grub2 to the / partition.
Use Parted Magic again, but don't let it boot up by itself. Stop it at the first graphic screen and choose Extras and have it boot with grub. It will find the Linux install and boot from there (just using the hard drive will boot Windows without any choice). Do NOT waste time with EasyBCD to try to cajole Windows into doing the right thing. EasyBCD doesn't (yet?) handle EFI so it will only waste time. In Linux, run the updates as needed, and be sure the correct video driver gets installed - don't want to end up with a blackscreen from Xubuntu 12.04 again.
Find and install BootRepair. Sadly, this is not in the *buntu repository so a bit of command line work and using an alternate repository will be needed. Run it. Decide which operating system should boot by default. In this case, I decided it ought to be Windows. Not what I'd do for myself, but again it's not my machine.
Enjoy dual boot. Set up Windows, set up Linux, installing whatever programs seem to be good to have around. One of them is Ext2Read which will let Windows see (read only, unless you like living dangerously) the Linux ext4 partitions. This is better than leaving Windows to claim they need to be formatted. Windows, by itself, doesn't grok much in the way of filesystems.
Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: Frank Hayes - S-100 Bus
December 15th, 2012
|10:59 am - Making An Ass of Myself - And Being Appreciated For It|
As a few may know or have inferred, I've been on Second Life for a while. I'd have started as Vakkotaur but the Second Life avatar system was designed for humanoids and thus bipeds. Quadrupedal motion leaves something to be desired, even when done right. Thus instead I started with Orvan, and later as I knew more, got an additional account as Vakkotaur. And I met some folks I knew from before. A couple from RCFM, a few from faire, and then friends of those friends and so on. One curiosity was that I spent significant time at a goth club, though I do not consider myself Goth as such. The appeal, though, wasn't the "goth" of it (I'm still not entirely sure what that is, really) but that the intelligence level was such that while things could get quite silly, outright stupidity was met with mockery if not outright hostility and a swift kicking to Somewhere Else.
One night I speculated about creating an account and using a donkey avatar just so I could use the line, "*I* am a donkey; *he* is an _ass_." and this was met with some amusement and approval. And for a while I let it go. At that time, Linden Lab (the folks who own and run Second Life) had a system where last names were available for a limited time and then retired and with care you could pair a chosen first name with them, though it could get time consuming as the offered last names were not all listed at once and every try changed the selection a bit. I watched the list of last names, looking for something that would make some sort of sense. I had also decided I wanted a first name that started with the letter U as that was seldom used. There were many Q, X, and Z names, but precious few U names. The problem was, were there any good U names?
And then I saw the last name Graycloud was in the list of possibilities. I best explain. At that time, if an avatar did not resolve appearance, it was shown as a whitish smoky cloud. Gray was close enough to be descriptive. And the name Uffda Graycloud occurred to me as being a very apt joke. It seemed to take forever to finally get 'Graycloud' to appear and pair up with Uffda, but I managed it. And not long after I'd registered the new account, Uffda had a (bipedal) donkey avatar. Yes, the various obvious 'ass' jokes followed - but since I was setting things up, it amused me rather than bothered me.
It wasn't much longer after that that someone did make a pest of themselves at the club and got ejected for it. A few nights later I got to use the "I'm a donkey, he's an ass." line which caused amusement and was considered quite apt. I haven't limited myself to one account or another and tend to somewhat rotate through them, so although Uffda started mainly for a joke or two, he's still around, still a donkey, and still providing amusement. Even if it's just me being amused at being greeted at times as "magnificent ass" or such. Uffda might be something of a smartass, it's true, but Uffda is no dumbass.
Oh, and this also explains the title line of this poll.
 "If you think Second Life is a game, you've already lost." It has some game-like system requirements and some game-like characteristics, but it can be approached as many, many things that are in no way gamelike at all.
 If you are not familiar the exclamation "Uff da!" think of it as the Norwegian equivalent of "Oy vey" and the idea will be close enough.
December 14th, 2012
|04:45 am - The Night I Destroyed the Machine That Went *PING*|
Or something close to it.
I had heard, or thought I had heard an odd *beep* or *ping* on and off for a few days but it was a thing that passed and went and I didn't much notice. Perhaps it was an odd doorbell or truck reversing in the distance or.. who knows. But it was no big deal. I didn't really notice it. It was just an odd occurrence of little note. Jay didn't really notice it. I think he tended to have music playing or was involved in conference calls and he sleeps with a CPAP machine, all things that would mask a somewhat faint *ping*.
It was of little note, as I have said. That is, it was until I had a night off and did not have music playing and was not talking to anyone by voice. Every couple minutes I would hear a faint *ping*. At first this was still not much of anything, but it grew to annoy me. I went and checked every smoke detector in the house, which took time as I'd stand near or under the one I was checking until *ping* and I knew that the one nearest me was not making the sound.
Eventually I eliminated ALL of the smoke detectors. They were not making any sound unless I tested them outright - then each was plenty loud and rather louder than the *ping* I was hearing. Now I was wondering if I was hearing things. Or if someone was playing some prank. *ping* told me it was not my imagination and it was far too regular to be a very effective prank - I've heard of nasty little gadgets meant to drive someone batty, but they are more random for that very reason. *ping*.
Eventually I realized that I had not only smoke detectors, but carbon monoxide detectors. I wondered if any of those were acting up. Rather than sit around by each in turn, I moved them - one at a time - to the office and waited for a loud noise. Nothing loud, just another "it's not in this room" *ping*. Repeatedly. ALL the carbon monoxide detectors were nicely quiet and not reading a count above zero. *ping*
Now I was puzzled. What was making that sound? No matter what room I was in, it seemed to come from another room. I considered it might be a UPS, and we have those in the office, the basement, and the attic to keep the network switch there powered. *ping* I started eliminating the various UPS's (I may have actually done that first.) and the various rooms. It wasn't the basement, though I could hear the *ping* from there. It wasn't the living room, yet *ping*. It wasn't the dining roo*ping*m. Nor the kit*ping*chen. Not the office. Not the machine ro*ping*om. Not a bedr*ping*oom. Bathr*ping*oom? Nope.
Alright, was it outside, maybe? It was morning by now and light, and just as I got between the house and garage *PING*. Aha! It is outside. Now, where is the whatever it is? I started walking around. South of the house..*ping* getting fainter, west of the house *ping* also faint. Walked down the street *ping* and it wasn't changing much. How far away was thing and where?
I noticed our next door neighbor, a rather rotund fellow with an oxygen concentrator and not much mobility was up and by his car in his now-open garage. I went to ask him if he needed any help with the stuff he looked to be about to carry inside, and to ask about the *ping* "Alright, what IS that, if you know?" "Oh, that's mine..." and an explanation followed as I helped carry his groceries into the house.
It was a smoke detector after all. One that was in the house when he bought it not much before we moved in next door. The thing was curious beast - it had three lithium cells or batteries soldered into place. That's right, it was not designed to allow simple changing of old cells or batteries. Huh?! And thus he couldn't shut the thing off. He and an assistant had searched the house and replaced the batteries in every (other) smoke detector in the house to try to be rid of the *PING*. That didn't work, of course. Finally, they found it - in the basement stairwell. And then found it couldn't be shut off. So he wrapped it in a plastic bag and hung it outside where at least it was fainter than going *PING* inside constantly.
"Do you mind if I take this thing apart?" "No. Be my guest. Would you like a hammer?" Tempting as that was, I decided even the minor amount of Am-241 was likely best not having its chamber smashed and so instead I took my Leatherman to the detector case and soon had it apart. And the first battery disconnected *ping*. What the?! Alright, soon ALL the batteries were out. Only then did I notice a small switch - it might have been possible to simply switch it off after all - but the label did say it would likely make one or two *ping*s even after that. It's been nicely silent in the neighborhood for a while now. Or at least the only sounds are traffic, kids, and the odd siren as police, fire, or ambulance go by a street over.
And that's the story of how I saved the neighborhood sanity (or at least mine & my neighbor's) by destroying the machine that went *ping*.
November 7th, 2012
|07:26 am - Yesterday|
Fat lot of good it did.
Current Mood: depressed
November 6th, 2012
|08:08 am - Today|
November 4th, 2012
November 2nd, 2012
|07:09 pm - How to suck the fun out of something.|
Turn it into a contest between people. That's it, at least for me. Even if "it's all in fun" or "it's only a game" it winds up being taken too seriously by some. It doesn't matter what it is. I've found that anything I do for fun or relaxation is suddenly no longer fun or relaxing if it becomes a competition with others. And that's true, even if I win the contest. I don't mean that there ought to be no competition at all. I'll admit it's an appealing idea, but I recognize it's an unworkable one. Even without anything formal, there will be the perception of competition by some.
The only competition I don't mind too much is with myself. How far can I go? How much can I do? What can I do? One example of this is from many years ago when the Apple //e was still new. Print Shop had just come out and I had seen the simple folding greeting cards it could generate. As I didn't have a copy of Print Shop and wanted to do the greeting card bit, I had some work to do.
( StorytimeCollapse )
Later, in ham radio I found that I liked the idea of communications but too much was contesting. That's not communications except in the most technical sense. It could be done by machine. Big deal. I didn't care about getting some bit of paper or other, and never even bothered with the Rag Chewer certificate - which is at least not a contest in any sense, and haven't actively pursued Worked All States, let alone things like DXCC. WAS might be nice, but I actually wanted to talk with people and not just enter a short strip of bare information in a logbook. My first real DX (overseas) contact was a big disappointment as it was with contester rather than a communicator. I think I don't care much for Field Day for similar reasons: it's just another lousy contest. Big deal. Oh, the setup might be interesting, but that's about it.
I also discovered that I didn't really dislike physical activity. I don't mind a walk, or a hike, or cross-country skiing, or cycling, and probably a bunch of other things. But I found that I liked or tolerated them only as long as they weren't part of a contest. Team sports are right out. I find them interminably boring and silly in an unamusing, even stupid, way. I wouldn't mind company on my presently solo activities, but it would need to be just to do these things not alone rather than have them turned into contests. I neither want nor need to be in a race.
Current Mood: contemplative
|09:12 am - Modern Dentistry|
When I was a fairly little kid, I had the typical fears of the dentist probably due to the TV portrayals of dental visits as painful things to be avoided and only barely endured to lessen pains already present. Sure, the idea of prevention was there, but there's a reason the high-pitched whine of a tiny pneumatic drill is in the special class of sounds that nobody likes. An actual dental visit did nothing to change my feelings on this. I still recall the line about how "This will only feel like a mosquito bite." The &%^$ it did, unless it was supposed to be some mutant steel hyper-mosquito. I also recall the dentist urging me to quiet down as I was "scaring his other patients" out in the lobby. From my point of view, they had darn well ought to be scared. I avoided dentists for some time.
Many years later, I went to a dentist that had a reputation for being painless. I don't know if it was an advance in anesthesia or recognition that the "mosquito" was more like an angry hornet, but this fellow used a topical anesthetic to numb the injection site before using the needle. I recall feeling some slight pain, despite the reputation, at least on a second visit (Did I acclimate to the anesthetic of a couple days earlier?) but overall, it was a significant improvement on earlier experiences.
Then I moved and had no idea who to see, and thus saw nobody for some time. Maybe you've been seeing a dentist regularly and have experienced, slowly, the changes I experienced rather suddenly. Recently I experienced that I am now living in The Future where dentistry doesn't automatically involve pain. Stuff I'd read about a while back, and wondered how long before it would see general use, is being used now. A pulsed water & laser system has replaced the contemptible high-speed pneumatic drill. What that doesn't get, gets a lower speed grinder setup - and the water pulses numb things enough that no anesthetic is generally needed (though I was told I could get such at any time if I thought it was called for). The only high speed whine was from a diamond polisher. With no injected anesthetic, there was also no time of weird numb-face. "Anything I need to do or not do?" "No. Just go on with things." Oh, and there was no waiting around for X-rays to be developed. Even those are done by digital camera now. I'd known of such things as sistaur's vet clinic had switched to digital X-ray a few years ago, but this was the first time I'd experienced it myself.
Alright, it's not quite Star Trek easy with someone waving a tiny gadget around me and it simply being done, but I'll take it. That regular visit every six months that is recommended? That's already scheduled, for once.
Current Mood: relieved
November 1st, 2012
|05:47 pm - Settings changed. Damn spammers.|
I'd long had things set up so that those without LJ accounts could comment, but I would have to review and approve such things before they became visible. That has just changed. No more anonymous comments. I don't like doing this, but so far I don't recall ANY non-spammer making an 'anonymous' comment this year. But it's been nothing but a parade of spammers. That ends now.
It finally occurred to me that the one big reason I hadn't made that change before has gone. My father, who did not create an LJ account, would occasionally comment. He certainly won't be commenting any more. And whatever real comments would show up on my rants about a couple companies with dubious advertising seem to have tapered off to nothing. And because those posts were more commonly linked to, they tended to attract spambots.
So, now one must have an LJ account to comment here. I'd still rather not do this, but until spammers are all "sponged and purged and, if need be, blasted from the surface of the earth" this is the best option to stop the bastards in my journal.
Spammers delenda est!
(or is it Spammers delendae sunt! ? )
Current Mood: pissed off
Current Music: Rosetta Stone - Subterfuge
October 10th, 2012
|10:32 pm - The Color Scarlet|
Welcome to scarletcharnel who some might know on SL as PepperAnne Mint.
Current Mood: happy
September 10th, 2012
September 6th, 2012
|08:57 am - A(nother) Lost Night: Misadventures in SSD, SATA, and Xubuntu 12.04.1, Oh My!|
Now longer back than I care to think about (which is only August) I ordered a Solid State Drive, figuring it'd be good to have in one machine and get some experience with SSD setup. I figured I'd have to do some special partitioning and filesystem tweaking, but it would mainly be a matter of "plug it in and it works." That's how it seemed to start.
The physical mounting of things went well enough. All the hardware fit. The cables reached and locked into place. The motherboard saw there was another piece of hardware. The old disk booted up and I could set up the simple partitioning. And then the "fun" began. The install CD wouldn't boot, or at least looked like it didn't. It worked fine on belgian but was useless on percheron. So A-Googling I went and found that this is Not Unusual and there is supposedly some weird interaction with IDE DVD/CD drives and *buntu in systems that also use SATA and it's as if the boot media can't be found once things get started from it. So I started looking at and for inexpensive SATA DVD drives.
Not much later a decent deal for SATA DVD drives came up on NewEgg and I went for it, and waited for the delivery. The physical install didn't go as well this time. The physical mounting went well enough, but it's still boggling me that I managed to not seat both the power and data cables and they both have a snap-fit to them. This was foreshadowing by Reality. Once that was sorted out, the Xubuntu not booting was NOT fixed. I'm glad to have replaced the IDE DVD drive all the same, so that wasn't a big deal. But that nothing else really changed annoyed me.
Checking to see if anything would boot, I found a recovery disk (both poorly and aptly named, RIP for Recovery Is Possible) came up just fine. This was as well as I'd be using it later to repartition the old spinning disk. But Xubuntu utterly refused. It didn't even give an error message. I got a black blank screen and if I was really lucky, a blinking cursor. More research. Perhaps it was time to ditch *buntu and try something else? I looked at a few things and rejected them for lack of sufficient 32 bit compatibility (Dangit, Linden Lab, go 64 bit already. It's not 2003 any more.) or rather old kernels. I figured I'd give Xubuntu one more chance and downloaded the "Alternate" install CD.
The good: It lets one set noatime during install (lowers wear on SSD) and was simple to set up. The bad: Now the system does just what the regular install CD did: hang with a blank black screen. More Googling commences. Aha! Grub can be triggered into showing itself by holding SHIFT down just as the machine beeps on boot. There is a sort of safe/rescue mode. I get there and.. don't see anything obviously helpful, but try a resume (not re) boot.. and things work. But only with that silly start up sequence. Fine, it's something. Oh, there was some talk of video driver issues - which I'd ignored before as I needed video (even text, but console wasn't there either) to do that. Time to install nVidia's own driver(s). A proper reboot is tried and it takes a bit longer than I'd hoped (not everything is on the solid state drive) but it does finally come up right. I spend the next hour or so installing the programs I expect to have and use, and recovering from the backup I'd made of the files I wanted preserved.
There was actually more to it than that. Though many, many reboots before getting anything working there were changes to BIOS settings, reversions to standard settings, adjustments after that. Matters of IDE vs. AHCI and the switching between them. And when things looked they were about to start working, more research to be sure of what partitions to put where. (SSD has / while the spinning disk has /tmp, /var, /home and swap - though swap might never get used, it is there just in case.)
Now I can relax, or try to, as I hope things don't find one more nasty surprise to throw at me. And I hope that when I eventually replace the old spinning disk (120 GB Western Digital that's about 8 years old and has been running nearly continuously all that time) that that change will go much more smoothly. Well, I can dream.
Current Mood: nerdy
August 18th, 2012
|11:54 pm - A Day at the Faire, or Festival...|
I used to go to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival (MnRF)* multiple times per season, and for a few years even sprung for the season pass. Eventually I gave up on that as having the pass made it seem an obligation to "get my money's worth" out of it every weekend that had halfway decent weather. And after seeing all the little Iowa faires that used to be, and Siouxland, and WiRF when it was (and even a few truly bad faires that were one-shots or ought to have been) MnRF paled in many ways.
But it's been several years since I went, I had the time this year, and opening day/weekend generally has the most enthusiasm with the least crowd, and my mother and a friend of hers and my sister would all likely be there. So today I went. Before I caught up with folks (admittedly more by chance than plan) it was alright, but did seem like it would be a rather "meh" day.
After that, well, it was this fellow's first RenFest and he was excited about almost everything and that certainly helped things. Having family around didn't hurt either. But I suspect that my one day at MnRF will be enough for this season. A few things struck me:
1. The prices. I know I've not been to anything besides Siouxland for some time, and I was expecting "faire prices" but not quite as bad as what I saw. I think the only thing on par with other places were the pickles.
2. The gravel for pathways is really coarse. I don't recall noticing that before, but then MnRF was my first RenFest and what I went to often so I may have been used to it then. Now I am used to other places and what MnRF has seems of really poor quality. I now wonder how they don't have more ankle injuries and the like.
3. I met Anna (of Siouxland) for a moment and the brief conversation rather confirmed the feeling I've long had, which is that everyone (patrons, vendors, entertainers) has more fun at Siouxland. Evidently at one after-faire gathering someone had tried to poach some the folks who performed at Siouxland only to get told, in essence, "You don't get it. We('d) pay to be here!" (Not that the folks at MnRF aren't having a good time. It's that at Siouxland they have an even better time.)
Was it a bad way to spend a day? No. I might do it again. But not this season. I'd much rather save up time & money for Sioux City Riverssance in October. And if I miss MnRF next year, well, I won't be upset.
I've seen some call it MRF, but I've seen MRF for Maryland too. Gee, multiple states starting with M and someone figures that MRF can only mean ONE thing?
Current Mood: good
August 10th, 2012
|07:06 am - The Monitor Shuffle [UPDATE]|
Phase One: Done and enjoyed.
Phase Two: Done.
Phase Three: Done - though I might need to re-arrange things for better (lower) height.
Phase Four: Pending.
Current Mood: pleased
August 9th, 2012
|11:07 pm - The Monitor Shuffle|
Belgian is my primary computer and is in the office. I had been using a dual-screen setup on it with a 23 inch widescreen main monitor for most stuff, and an old 15 inch off to the side for more text based things. Downstairs, I have percheron set up so I can us it while on the treadmill and that use the 19 inch monitor I repaired last year. Meanwhile down in the basement Jay has the firewall and server machines and the most often used CRT.
Today I bought a 27 inch monitor, and Phase One of "The Monitor Shuffle" has already happened.
Phase One: Replace the 23 in monitor on belgian with the 27 inch monitor.
Phase Two: Replace the 19 in "square" monitor on percheron with the 23 in monitor.
Phase Three: Replace the 15 in secondary monitor on belgian with the 19 in monitor.
Phase Four: Replace the basement CRT with the 15 in LCD.
It's gone quite well so far and looks like the actual disconnect, reconnect, make sure of settings part will be easy enough. The only real difficulty will likely be cleaning and organizing things so that the larger gear fits into the correct spaces. Simple, sure, but simple is not the same as easy.
Right now, a bit of rest as I enjoy the nice big monitor.
Current Mood: good
Current Music: Brown Wings - Stanley Kirby
August 3rd, 2012
|10:58 am - (Mis)Adventures in USB Wireless Headset Land|
I'd been looking at getting a USB and possibly wireless headset for a while, so that I could use Skype (or similar, perhaps) and also listen to stuff in the office without it bugging Jay. Last week a deal came up and a Logitech ClearChat headset (refurbished). For $40 (shipped), rather than $100 I decided to go for it. It arrived this Wednesday and I tried it. I had an issue or two. But those have been resolved now.
My first issue was not with the headset itself with PulseAudio (the audio control program that *buntu, amongst other Linux distributions, uses). I'm sure it made sense to the designers, but it's awkward to seem to have duplicates of controls in a few places. And while it is understandable that a control for a specific program will only appear when that program is needing it, the lack of persistence of a control makes things confusing and can mean lots of hunting when there isn't much time - such as the test recording time for Skype. Getting audio to the headset was not a big problem, though I think it should have been slightly easier. When I later went thorugh this on the laptop it went fast, but only because I'd had considerable practice on the desktop.
The second issue was with the headset, or so it seemed. Any attempt to record audio was met with lots of harsh static on the recording. Muting the microphone stoped that but defeated the purpose of the microphone. Rather than fight that, I simply used the headset only for listening for much of the night. It was very easy to get used to not being physically tethered - and not needing to use the phone as a streaming device.
Figuring I might need to boot into Windows (a thing I'd rather avoid, as Windows now makes my skin crawl), I moved the setup to the laptop, caspian and tried again. To my surprise, after the fiddling about with PulseAudio, everything worked. I could hear things on the headset, I could speak and not get static from the microphone. That was with the USB 'dongle' plugged directly into the computer and with it plugged into the Logitech-supplied extension cable. I had a rather long Skype conversation that more than proved that everything worked. And this without any reboot at all.
I finally took the setup back to belgian and didn't use Logitech's cable and... things worked, sort of. The dongle was plugged into the front of the machine and the recorded audio had some rushing in it. With the cable, I got the static back. But that port is connected inside the case by a fairly thin cable to the motherboard. Moving the cable to the back of the machine and plugging that into a USB port right on the motherboard, all was suddenly well. No static hash. No rushing noise. It was acting as well as the laptop had.
I now have a properly working wireless headset arrangement. I'd like to get another extension cable with the nice base for the dongle so that if/when I move things between machines I only need to move the dongle and not the cable as well.
There was no manual with the headset, and I really didn't need one. No special drivers were needed (and disks with drivers or other software seem to be only for Windows, and maybe Mac, anyway) and I didn't need to read more silly warnings of "Don't be an idiot" written by lawyers. A sheet that listed what the light on the dongle meant would have been nice, but that was worked out as well:
Off - No power to dongle; Headset won't work.
Slow blink - No wireless connection (Headset is off or out of range)
Solid - Good wireless connection
Fast blink - Headset needs to be charged soon.
Nice features of the headset:
Moving the mic. boom up mutes it.
Pressing the right earpiece mutes & unmutes the mic. when the boom is down.
An LED on the mic. indicates that it is muted.
There are volume UP/DOWN buttons on the right earpiece. Unfortunately I have yet to manage to get those to affect the headset volume. They can affect system speaker volume, but that's the wrong thing. Fortunately the setting is usually "set & forget" so this isn't a significant issue once levels are right.
One possible issue for extended use is that the speakers are a bit smaller than the ears, so these are not circumaural nor "intra-aural" like earphones, but supra-aural. The result is that there is some pressure on the outer ear that can cause some discomfort with extended wear. I can see springing for the bigger circumaural design if one expected to use the headset for several hours a day, most days.
Current Mood: pleased