Archive for October, 2006

Like Carver Like Son

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Some people seemed to think that the jack-o-lantern that we carved this year looks a little bit like Yours Truly. I’ll let you decide.

Does this pumpkin look like Shawn?

Old Meets New in a Night of Nintendo

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Every few weeks a bunch of us (mostly) married guys congregate to rot our brains and enjoy some much-needed multiplayer video game action. Usually we are content with just one television and taking turns, but someone began spreading rumours of an unused television in Dan’s apartment, but he was still at work. Spencer finally got up and walked out. Minutes later he kicked the front door open bearing a second one-eyed monster! Dan’s wife apparently let him take it! We immediately hooked it up to Mike‘s NES (that’s Nintendo Entertainment System. Aptly named when Nintendo only had one video game console on the market.) and Matt made sure the first game played was RBI Baseball. There was some difficulty getting the game to work. I pitched in and even though I hadn’t done it for over eight years, I knew just how to exhale into the cartridge and then place it almost all the way in, then push down and diagonally toward the back of the system simultaneously to achieve the perfect connection with the contacts. The title screen came up, but there were still some artifacts. Mike did it again and took care of those. Everyone laughed as they recalled the long-forgotten techniques we all employed in our youth to wrestle the NES into action.

The rest of us played Super Monkey Ball 2 and Mario Party 7 on the Gamecube. I can’t wait to get a similar picture with the Wii on one TV and the NES on the other.

I didn’t bring my camera but Michael Whiting, our gracious host (and awesome sculptor) let me use the one he took below.

Gamecube with Super Monkey Ball 2 on the left.  NES with RBI Baseball on the right.

Is it really FAFSA Time Again Already?

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Yes, it is. Well, almost. You technically can’t apply until January 1st, but now is the time to start thinking about it and planning ahead. It almost always seems to sneak up on me. I never seem to have the inside track on applying for financial aid… that is, until this year. There is a great free resource for information about applying for the FAFSA online this year. Not only does have information about maximizing your award, but they also have some helpful MP3 guides to help anyone fill out the FAFSA. After you fill out the FAFSA and get it submitted you can get info about student loans and make sure that you know about every opportunity to get money for school. This will be especially important for me this year because I’m transferring to a university, and that means that the price of schooling is really going up for me this year.

Eliminating Procrastination through GSD

Monday, October 30th, 2006

I have some homework that’s due by midnight tonight. One would think that since this homework has a deadline so near and since I know it will take me about two hours worth of work to get it done that I would have picked it up first thing, right? Well, I am really good at finding things to do when there is a task I don’t want to work on. I filled out the rebate form for a product that was recently delivered and got it ready to go. I listened to a podcast while I looked up some information for another assignment that’s due in a couple of weeks that I haven’t started yet. I had some candy and I drank some water. I looked into the newest version of WordPress and the steps needed to upgrade. I noticed that there was a new version of Freevo just released and that got me thinking about DirectFB and df_xine. I looked and saw that DirectFB just released 1.0-rc2 and I downloaded that and started it compiling. I wrote a post for PayPerPost, and I decided to blog about how I’m procrastinating too much.

It’s time to start getting stuff done. I still haven’t decided exactly how I am going to implement it, whether I go paper or digital. Expect progress reports to come.

Personal PayPerPost Status Report

Monday, October 30th, 2006

I have been doing PayPerPost for almost a month. In three days the money starts rolling in. I can’t remember where I heard about PayPerPost, to be honest. All I do remember is how excited I was when I realized that I could make enough money to do something that I would never have been able to otherwise. When the Nintendo Wii comes out on November 19th I will have enough to get the console, an extra controller, and a couple of games. Within a week after the release of the Wii I will have enough for at least two more games. After that I foresee that I will be making enough to pay the monthly rent, or at least almost all of it. That means that I start whittling away the consumer debt that we have accrued as a young married couple that likes expensive toys (and furniture). I never thought that something like this would be possible while I was still in school. But here I am in school and getting out of debt at the same time. I wish PayParPost the best of luck in their business as it has been nothing short of amazing to me and the many bloggers who have benefited from its business model.

Halloween Hoopla

Monday, October 30th, 2006

I looked for two days for a Ninja costume. That’s what I was going to be for Halloween. I was playing video games with a bunch of guys and one of them asked what we were going to be for Halloween and three people said,

And, “Ninja.”

So I said that I had been planning on being a Ninja, but that didn’t seem so appealing anymore. I’d have to say the most popular costumes this Halloween are Ninja and Pirate. So I took a sharp left turn and went with Jailbird. The stripes just look cool, and I don’t even have to put on any makeup to give me that stubbly effect!

Truth in Blogging Initiative

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Some astute readers may have noticed the new Disclosure Policy link on the sidebar. This was created using the Disclosure Policy Generator and is an attempt to make it obvious what motivates the posts on this blog. I am confident that this was created by people who are not happy with the model that has come up with to pay bloggers, drugs but I see no harm in a disclosure policy so long as it is honest. Click on the link above if you would like to generate your own disclosure policy. I did.

Arch Linux, Old Laptops, Overpriced Cords, and RAM

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

So I have been slowly learning how to do things the “Arch Linux Way” these past couple of days. I am really impressed with the way it is set up. I still haven’t run into a package that I want that isn’t already in the repositories, so I haven’t had occasion to compile my own software or make any packages yet under Arch. I hope that process is as smooth as everything else so far.

My brand new Nova Tech mini PCI card arrived today, and I was really excited to try it out. I got the kernel module installed and gave it a go. It couldn’t see anything. So I started doing some research. It turns out that the Dell Latitude c600 requires an additional tiny little hirose u.fl cable. You’d think a thin little 4-inch long cable would cost maybe between $3 and $5, but that’s not the case. Dell seems to have forgotten that people might actually need this part and have kindly removed any mention of it from their website. Reports I read stated that calling tech support results in stupefied silence. The item has become a wonderful specialty part that some companies are selling for as much as $40! I found one on eBay for $7.77 plus $3 for shipping. I was hoping to just pop into Fry’s and grab one, but now I have to wait another week for one to come in from Rhode Island.

Speaking of Fry’s, I wanted to check out their prices on 256MB sticks of PC100 SODIMM RAM. So I poured over their confusing grid of memory prices until an associate finally acknowledged me. I asked him what the cheapest price for the RAM I needed was. He punched i up into the computer and then called someone else. I couldn’t hear the conversation. Then he turned back around and said they didn’t have any! I thought he might tell me that all the good priced RAM was gone, but not that I couldn’t get it at all! I only have 64MB right now and I get programs dying for lack of RAM.

One last thing… I was all set to get this ultra-portable laptop ready to go today because all I needed was the proprietary Dell IDE connector that arrived in the mail today. I had to preload the OS onto the hard drive because the laptop I was installing it into has no drives but the single hard drive. I got everything set up to the point where I could connect it to the network and transfer the rest of the files onto it that way. I went to install it and it was too thick! I hadn’t even considered that that old laptop would use the slim form factored hard drives found in current systems. So all that work was for nothing. Now I’m looking for another hard drive.

Night Vision Goggles Save the Day (and Night)

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

I’ve talked before about the coyotes that come out at night and make all sorts of noise howling and attacking one another across the creek from us. I love using my binoculars and a maglite to try and spot them and get them to leave. What would really be great is to get out there with some night vision goggles, though. Then I could see them wherever they may be hiding. Optics Planet is a great place for all things optical. They offer the latest and greatest binoculars, scopes, lasers, telescopes, etc. They have guaranteed low prices and stuff made by practically every company imaginable. Best of all they offer free UPS shipping on all orders of $29.99 or more.

If you don’t know where to start with these kinds of optical products they have a gift guide showcasing all of the best recommended items available this holiday season. One of my favorite items is something that I had never thought about before but seems like a natural merging of technologies: the Digital Camera Binoculars! Not only do you get a great close up view of the action, but you can take a picture of it as you are watching it. Use the binoculars as a viewfinder. I’ve tried to take a picture with a camera by holding it up to the eyepiece on my binoculars. It just doesn’t work. If I had one of these I could finally get pictures of those coyotes attacking each other at 2am. There is some great stuff available for Christmas gifts this year.

“As Is” Gamble Pays Off Big

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

I bought a 20 GB laptop hard drive off of eBay a week or so ago. I was looking for the cheapest way to get a Dell Latitude C600 back on its feet. It is a pretty snappy machine considering that I got it for free. It had no hard drive or even hard drive connectors, only one stick of 64 MB RAM, a pretty nice battery, and no wifi. So I had my work cut out for me. I ended up paying a total of twenty dollars and some cents for this hard drive. It was sold “as is” which basically can mean one of two things on eBay:

  1. I am selling a lot of products and am in too much of a hurry to test them all
  2. or

  3. I am a scammer and can sell broken crap without my buyers having any recourse

Fortunately for me the laptop arrived on the same day as the proprietary dell adapter for IDE drives. When I plugged it in it was recognized by the BIOS. I booted up Slax from a CD and the NTFS filesystem still had files on it. They all looked like the usual Windows 2000 files. I repartitioned the drive and formatted it. I ran badblocks on the drive and it didn’t find anything wrong. It looks like I got lucky! Now comes the difficult decision. What distro should I put on here. It’s a 700MHz Pentium 3 CPU. I plan on buying 256MB of ram for it, but so far I don’t have more than the 64MB it came with. At the moment I am leaning toward Arch Linux because it seems customizable like Slackware, but looks like it might be updated more often. I am apprehensive to switch away from Slackware, but I figure I ought to experiment with something new. I’m afraid Ubuntu would be too slow. But that’s probably more Gnome and KDE’s fault than anything else.