Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Trail of Text

A trip down memory lane is only a short google away for those of us who spent time on Usenet newsgroups while at University. I just found some schtuff I used to write, a sci-fi space opera comedic gem called "Rocket Roger", plus two postings accepted on rec.humor.funny, the History of the Jolnopski family and the Long Airplane Flight. Jeez, the stuff I thought was hilarious when I was 20 :) Bits of it hold up OK, IMHO :)

Rocket Roger was a lot of fun, actually. My friend Daniel Bowen and I decided to try writing something and getting people to subscribe to it over email. I wrote Rocket Roger, which went on to fame and glory, and he did Toxic Custard, which disappeared into obscurity. Or was the other way around ? Anyway, I posted my stories twice a week, and Daniel did his once a week. I prided myself on never editing or plotting; I just wrote whatever came to mind. This worked well (by my standards) for quite a good while. I got Rocket Roger printed in the student newspaper as a single story, which looked very odd, but it did come with a cool illustration of Roger and Chadwick with a retro-style rocket in the background. Wish I knew where that was now :(

The new computer is totally rocking - I'm using all Mozilla software, Open Office, downloading The GIMP for image editing. Oh, and Unreal Tournament 2004 Demo is insanely fun.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Hot Bodies

So I got to thinking about body temperatures this morning. Why is our body temperature 37 Celcius (or 98.6 Fahrenheit). Why not higher or lower ? Is it a sum total of all the chemical reactions going on in our bodies, such as breathing and digestion ? summarizes some info about us: our temperature depends on our activity and the time of day, and talks about evolution a bit too, and compares our temperatures with those of other animals. No mention of why it's that number though.

And here's the answer ! We've evolved to make maximum use of the enyzmes and catalysts in our bodies which handle our basic chemistry. They work most efficiently at around our body temperatures. Interesting stuff :)

The Computer Is Done - Where Will We Keep It ?
My new computer is secured in its case and ready to be placed somewhere in the house. Now comes the negotiation :) Up till now we've have just the laptop in the office upstairs, while the old Big Beige Box sat in the laundry downstairs, seldom used or needed. But I'd like to keep the new computer in the office, along with its 19" CRT (old style, not sleek thin LCD screen). I wonder how Deanne's going to like that idea :) ?

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The New Computer Works !

Phew ! After a real problem that caused a 24 hour delay, I got the last part I needed into place and the new computer started up ! I'm currently installing the software it needs, which is going to take a few hours...Windows XP, new drivers for all the parts....I hope it goes smoothly, especially the video capture card. I've had nothing but problems with every one of those I've ever bought - they'd freeze up when you tried to use them, or even change their settings. Frustrating as anything I've ever tried.

I read a bit about Mother Teresa last night - did you know she was, at best, a misguided and dangerous person ? At worst, someone who increased the suffering of thousands because she thought more about their souls than their daily life ? I hope she doesn't get made a saint, but in today's religious climate, it's probably inevitable.

All right, another nice swim to cool off, and I'll be posting more photos today on the photo blog, so click the buzznet link on the right if you'd like to see.

[Edited on April 29th 2004 after seeing that this page comes up if you google for "soyo k7 vme"- I'll also add K7VME as a single word for google to find]
Installation Notes for Soyo K7VME K7-VME K7 VME
Mobo Page

The only hassles I had with this motherboard involve its layout. You can see a picture at the above link and get a detailed image too. Just beneath the CPU socket is the 3 pin connector for the CPU heatsink/fan (HSF). I you get a big HSF (my first one was 88 mm long), it will sit over the top of this connector and you will be unable to plug it in. In my case, even when I plugged it in first, THEN installed the HSF, it actually pressed down on top of the connector and created a short. I ended up buying a smaller HSF, so if you buy this mobo, stick with a HSF that is 60 or 70 mm. 80 *might* work, but be prepared to do a return if it doesn't.

The other problem was with the CMOS battery and the tv capture card I bought. See on the left of the board how the CMOS battery sits vertically, right next to a PCI slot ? Well my PCI card had a tall capacitor sticking out right at that point, and the CMOS battery prevented me from installing it in that slot. That means, as I'm sure you gamers know, I had to PCI card right next to the video card in the AGP slot. The video card install actually asks you to leave the adjacent pci slot free, to allow the card to cool off more easily, so I hope it can cope with being crowded in.

I've only had it a few days so far and the temps on my AMD Mobile 2400 are about 42C in the case and 51C on the chip with no overclocking. I'm planning to upgrade the HSF later if I do any overclocking.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

A Day Alone (One of Six)

Deanne is in Chicago for her first business trip in a quite a while and, I believe, one of the few times I've been alone on a weekend. This leaves me to complete a long list of things to do, some fun and some not :) I spent a few hours last night trying to get the new computer to work but had no success. I think the motherboard is broken, so I'm going to return it and get a replacement. I got up a nine this morning and had a nice swim to cool off and wake up, fed the pets, contacted a couple of local furniture consignment stores about selling two armchairs, played some guitar, played around on blogshares for a while, cleaned the kitchen, put some Mike Oldfield and Hoodoo Gurus on the stereo....just generally relaxed and unwound.

This afternoon I'm going to continue writing the help file for my Mercury Mailroom program, which I've been neglecting for a while. If I finish it this week we can start selling the damned thing and see if I can make some money outside of work. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, so why am I so slack about finishing it off ?! I'll do some painting this evening and list a few odds and ends on eBay in the continuing effort to get the extra crap out of the house !

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Juggling, AQ Test, GMail and Llamasoft

OK you try and come up with one snappy title that encompasses all those topics ! It's been a rather good day so's "Bring Your Kids To Work Day" here. Apparently it was on TV last night and in the papers, but we only watch what the Tivo records and we get our news from the net, so I only found out about it when I got to work and saw large numbers of tiny people looking bored :) Can't really blame them though, can you ? An office is a pretty quiet, sterile environment filled only with the joys of the mind (for those who enjoy their work !) and clockwatchers.

So being of a juggling bent I thought I'd liven things up a bit and impress some eight year olds with some juggling skills. They enjoyed it and asked some pretty good questions too. The bottom line is that the lad Matt is outside my office door throwing balls around like there's no tomorrow and shaking the floor as he leaps for each off-target throw. It's good to pass my obsessions on to the younger generation :) Actually he's picked the basics very quickly, but his sister Amber is a little younger and hasn't got the accuracy needed to do the throws - she's having fun though, which is the important thing. If you want to give it shot, it's pretty easy to learn to juggle.

I got one of those google email accounts where you get 1GB of email and they get to show you ads based on the content of your messages. Google owns Blogger, the company that provides the storage and tools which build this blog, so they offered me an account. I'm not planning to use it yet though, because it's taken a while to get my current account working the way I want it, what with the necessity of training a spam filter, building folders, getting into people's address books etc. I might start using it for something or other though.

The AQTest is a measure of of where you lie on the Autism Spectrum. I scored 31, which apparently is borderline autistic...well, actually it means if I *did* display any sort of behaviour ("Get out !" "Gotta watch Babylon 5 !" "74 toothpicks !") that looked too Rainman, this test result would reinforce that. Luckily I seem to be pretty functional anyway, my weird behaviours being confined to watching the same tv shows over and over and over (Red Dwarf, Blackadder) and listening to the same albums for weeks at a time (XTC ! The Church ! Madness !) :) Leave your score in the comments so we can all point and laugh.

Lastly, a link to celebrate the work of Jeff Minter, who surely scores higher than I do on that test. He's the last of the one-man games programmers who gave us spotty anoraks something to do with our time and computers back in the eighties. His games usually features sheep, camels, llamas and other random ungulates and seizure inducing lighting. He's working on a game called Unity, which is the primary reason I bought a Nintendo Gamecube last November. This link goes to his potted history of Llamasoft, the company he founded. I think it's very interesting and should appeal to all of us who know what its like to get *really* into games.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Idiot of the Day

Congratulations to the woman I just saw ride her bicycle across Alt A1A at the corner of Indiantown Road against the red light. I mean, the light is just there to oppress you, right ? You don't need to worry about the trucks and SUVs that have a green arrow to turn left and had to jump on the brakes to avoid hitting you. And your baby. Did I mention your baby ? He/she was sitting behind you, safely strapped in to a plastic seat that is surely impervious to SUV impacts. But I'm sure you'd thought that through as you casually surveyed the six lane intersection and decided to give Survival of the Fittest a try. Your baby thanks you for the up-close view of the trucks too...he likes trucks and might like to drive one IF HE SURVIVES HIS CHILDHOOD !

more about diamonds

OK, that last diamond article was written in 1982 and while still correct, there's twenty more years of information out there. Here's one link to get you started, but google on "diamond cartel" and you'll find a lot more information.

music and diamonds

I stripped my old computer down to its seperate components last night, and will build the new box on Friday. I wanted to do a POST (Power On Self Test) last night, but Deanne wanted her kitchen back :) So instead I picked up my guitar, plugged her in and sang some Church and Police songs for about an hour, which was great fun. I haven't done it for quite a while, and I'm pleased to find my voice is better than it used to least I think it is :) I have an A4-sized ring binder of musical notation paper (it's got five-line staves on it) and between the staves I've written out chords for lots of songs. Here's the neat part, though. When I worked out the chords I also wrote the date including the year, so I'm looking at chords I did back in 1990 and flies, huh ?

Anyway, after listening to a guy on the radio, today's lecture is about NOT BUYING DIAMONDS !! They are *not* rare stones, the DeBeers diamond cartel has socially engineered us to believe we have to buy them if we really love someone. Read this article from The Atlantic Monthly magazine, and tell me you still think you want to buy diamonds. There are plenty of artificial, inexpensive sparkly stones in the market that didn't involve people being exploited. If you must spend a large chunk of cash, spend 10% on the cubic zirconia and send the other 90% to charity. Send your money to African orphans, not the people they work for.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The parts arrived !
Let joy be unbounded ! Let celebration reign throughout the land ! Let comical people bounce around with bells on ! The parts arrived ! I thought Fedex might have made a terrible mistake and delivered my computer components to the wrong house, but luckily they all arrived today, so tonight will be, hopefully, a tech-fest. I haven't actually built my own computer before. My current Athlon 600 is 5 years old, cost a small fortune, and was built for me by a good friend of mine back in Australia, Tim Watts (aka "Burger"). I'm going to break the old one up and sell the parts, just keeping the case, so by the time I've finished I think the new PC will only have cost maybe $300 or so.

And I found my drivers license, which had been missing for a few weeks. Those of you who already know me will not be surprised to hear it was in my wallet the whole time, a wallet I'd diligently, though incompetently, searched three times. I hadn't thought to look behind my social security card and resident alien ("Beep ! Beep !") cards, until "Kipp with two P's" suggested last night over dinner "Hey, did you look in your wallet ?". I activated my sarcasm chip.

", Kipp with Two P's, I hadn't thought of checking my wallet for the three weeks I've been without my license. I thought I'd look under the fridge first."

"Haha - dude, I'm just sayin'."

So let that be a lesson to you, grasshopper - listen to Kipp With Two P's and search the most obvious place THOROUGHLY before moving on to the sub-fridge area.

Monday, April 19, 2004

I added a counter to this site, since I'm hoping some of the fine people who see my buzznet pictures will click through and read my blog. There's something very satifsying about counting visitors, seeing where they came in from. I might be over this in a week or two, but in the meantime I want stats, I want details, I want them NOW ! :)

Had a pretty good, quiet day at work, but I was looking forward to getting home and building my new PC. Fedex claimed to have delivered both packages containing my CPU, operating system, video capture card, power supply etc at 12.19 pm today. I should have suspected there was a problem, because I got home at 1.15 pm for lunch and there was nothing there. I looked again when I got home in the evening and there's still nothing ! I called Fedex and they said they'd look into it. I hope there's just been some kind of mixup...I'm really looking forward to building this new PC, because I'll be able to burn my old home movies and video tape collection onto DVD. There's 250 tapes of programs I recorded while living in Australia. Most of it doesn't need to be saved, but plenty of it does. Those parts had better be here tomorrow....
DelRay Affair Street Festival

I woke up late today - 12.15 in the afternoon. I don't know why - I went to bed at about 1.30 am and slept like a rock...must have been the food from the German restaurant I suppose. Anyway we went to this street festival with our friends Vicky and Scott and spent a few hours walking around the festival ! I think they blocked off 4 city blocks along Atlantic avenue.I took lots of pictures of people and I'm getting very good a snapping pictures of people who don't notice that the camera, though its upside and in my hand by my side is actually pointing at them ! It's a good way to get candid pictures - nothing terribly exciting or special, but posed pictures are only good for parties and family. The first picture of the day was taken with the camera upside-down in my right hand, held down at arm's length...and the guy was smack dab in the middle of the frame, so I'm pretty pleased with my aim.

Also saw a Segway today, only my second sighting. I'd love to own one of these wonderful transporters, but its not practical for me right now. I need to have a car with me so I'll be able to go anywhere I need to at a moment's notice. If I rode a Segway to work (which I could do - the new office is only 5 miles away) it'd be hard to go anywhere but straight home after work. Plus the Florida weather in summer is either scorching hot or raining want to be in an airconditioned car in either case.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Yard Sale Today !

The community we live, Ocean Walk, had a community garage sale today, and we made about $200 selling extra stuff that we didn't want. Goodbye old clothes ! Goodbye under cabinet wine glass holder that has not fit a single cabinet in the FIVE houses we've lived in since we bought it. Why did we carry it around so long..."we might use it one day".

This phrase will cause more storage problems than you can imagine, and if you find yourself saying it, put the item down and don't buy it. Or if you already own it, taken it away from the place you keep it, and put it in a box labelled "Yard Sale". When its full, have a yard sale, and donate the unsold items to charity.

A good rule of thumb, as seen on many fine afternoon decorating programs, is to only keep those things you love, or have used in the last year. Anything else should be really considered yard-sale fodder. A clear house leads to a clear mind...erm...I think :)

Friday, April 16, 2004

A few months ago I decided to release the best bits of the music I'd recorded while twiddling about with my four-track recorder. You can read all about the intent behind it all and download them for free, of course. Hope you like bits of it :)

Thursday, April 15, 2004

I've installed Mozilla Firefox, a small fast web browser based on the Mozilla source code, which in turn descended from the old Netscape browser. It's not quite where I'd like it to be, interface-wise, but the actual web surfing experience is just fine. Give it a try :)
Can anyone tell me, for the love of Mike, why all the paragraphs after the first in all my postings, are in a smaller font than the first paragraph ? It's really annoying.

In the meantime, I've succumbed to Sweet Lady Bargain and picked up several components for a new computer. Here comes the geek...

Soyo K7-VME motherboard...FREE after rebate ! In fact, if the rebate cheque comes, I actually make two dollars on the deal.
512MB Kingston PC2700 DDR RAM - $84 shipped from eBay. It's new (though the package was opened, which was a little weird) and currently costs about $100 retail.
120GB Maxtor Diamond 9 Hard drive, $40 after rebate. The rebate cheques arrived two days ago, so it's legit.
CPU hasn't arrived yet, but I'll be getting an AMD Athlon 2400 XP Mobile, which is nicely overclockable and runs cooler than the non-Mobile version.

I opened up the current computer to see if the new RAM worked, but it didn't fit (168 pin vs 184 pin), then when I put it back together it wouldn't start up for !? I'll be parting it out anyway because I don't need another computer...two is enough :)

Monday, April 12, 2004

Since this blog doesn't allow images, I've started posting them at my buzznet account. What a great site ! Visitors see thumbnails of your images, you can group them into galleries, add new images by email (so you can use your fancy new phonecam) and it's free :)