Hardware


VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Immortal (Ad Vitam) (2004)

Claire: 2.4/5 stars, 5.4/10.
Carolyn: 2.6/5 stars, 5.6/10.
Evan: 2.7/5 stars, 5.5/10.
Native ratings: 3.0/5 stars Netflix, 5.9/10 IMDB.

I GOT A NEW TV! And this was the first thing watched on it– A weird animation/live-action mix sci-fi flick taking place in 2095 and dealing with gods, aliens, possession, being raped by a person possessed by a god….. All based on a trilogy of French comic books.

Carolyn: This didn’t live up to our expectations. It was nice to see as the first 3-D movie on our new TV, but it was hard to follow the story. It had a lot going on: Egyptian gods, aliens, genetically altered humans and mutants, escaped prisoners who are being tracked down… It was a lot to keep track of, especially while visually enjoying the 3-D. There was potential, but it didn’t quite get there.

Claire: I didn’t like the movie that much. Visually, it was very awesome, but I still didn’t really like it — Which made it a good choice for my first non-anaglyph 3-D home movie viewing. When you get a new tech setup, you don’t want to dive right in and watch/do your favorite/most-important thing first, because you still want to do system tuning. I’m very glad that the first 3-D movie I watched was NOT one that I enjoyed, because it turns out my TV wasn’t 100% setup correctly (had to turn sharpness down) anyway. I’d much rather have a setup error affect a 2-star movie than a 5-star movie :)

But yea. It was confusing. I wasn’t really sure what the fuck was going on a lot of the time. I didn’t really understand how the side-plots really fit together with the main plot. It was great eye candy, and I sort of digested it that way. The eyes of some of the CGI characters were so 3-dimensionally sunken into their head that it was creepy as fuck! Definitely interesting, and I’m glad I finally watched it, but yeah… Missed potential is the name of the game here.

Evan: I’d agree that it had potential, but their effects needed a lot more polish before I would really consider it any good. If they had made the whole movie animation [instead of a mix of animation and live-action], it might have gotten a better score.

Directed by Enki Bilal. Written by Enki Bilal (comic books “La Foire Aux Immortels” and “La Femme Pie`ge”), Serge Lehman.

Starring Linda Hardy as Jill Bioskop.
Thomas Kretschmann (Hostel 3, 2 eps of 24) as Alcide Nikopol.
Charlotte Rampling (12 eps of Dexter) as Dr. Elma Turner.
Yann Collette as Froebe.
Fre’de’ric Pierrot as John.
Thomas M. Pollard as Horus.
Joe Sheridan as Allgood.
Corinne Jaber as Lily Liang.
Olivier Achard as Checker.
Jerry Di Giacomo as Jack Turner.
Paul Bandey as Dayaks (voice).
Coralie Seyrig as Bastet (voice).
Goran Vejvoda as Anubis (voice).
Barbara Scaff (Heavy Rain) as Jill (voice).
Dominic Gould as John (voice).

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0314063/combined

This is a sequel to a post I made 7.5 years ago, the last time I built a computer (“Hades”) from scratch. The only parts that failed from my last build are all built by companies that are now out of business (Abit, OCZ), so that’s good. (I don’t count harddrives, those must eventually fail.) My new computer will be named Thailog, and will be composed of:

REVISED CASE ORDER:
NZXT Phantom 820 Series Full Tower Chassis
$199.99 @ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146097
A light on the back! Color-configurable internal lights!

ORIGINAL CASE ORDER (cancelled due to lack of stock): 
Thermaltake Chaser A71 Full Tower Chassis
$129.99 @ http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1019135-REG/thermaltake_vp400m1w2n_chaser_a71_full_tower.html, but their “2-4 week shipping” actually meant “in 27 days we will start shipping” in my case, so I canceled my order and bought it again for $ @ .

POWER SUPPLY:

Enermax ERV1000EWT-G 1000W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V v2.92, v2.8 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply New 4th Gen CPU Certified Haswell Ready
$140.98 (after $45 rebate) @ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817194101&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-na-_-na-_-na&cm_sp=&AID=10446076&PID=3938566&SID=

thailog-psu.jpg

MOTHERBOARD:
ASRock X99 WS EATX (Extended-length ATX) LGA2011-3 Motherboard
$280.48 (after $40 rebate) @ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157536

thailog-mobo.jpg

CPU:
Intel Core i7-5820K Haswell-E 6-Core 3.3GHz LGA2011-v3 140W Desktop Processor BX80648I75820K
$381.54 @ http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=I7-5820KBX&c=CJ

thailog-cpu.jpg

CPU COOLER:
Arctic Freezer I30 CPU Cooler for Intel LGA2011/1155/1156/1150
$34.98 @ http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=FAN-I30&c=FR&pid=c7cf495fc557aaf929647e403f25fad93878e4ffcfa04ae6768e1191e26a634b&gclid=CjwKEAiAveWnBRCzjqf4zpuUkGYSJABcoZbHsKP_4jaK9fqAOu6rdnCcQ81sunkPkhdwyYktyfVdORoC3Enw_wcB

thailog-fan.jpg

RAM: 24G:
1) Crucial 16GB Kit Ballistix Sport (4x4GB) 288-Pin DDR4 2400mHz (PC4-19200) CL16 (16-16-16) 1.2V non-ECC unbuffered Memory Kit (Model BLS4K4G4D240FSA)
$174.17 @ http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=9162554&CatId=11628
2) Crucial 8GB Kit Ballistix Sport (2x4GB)
$71.99 @ http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MTSWEQE/ref=pe_385040_128020140_TE_3p_dp_1
ORIGINAL RAM (PURCHASE #1) THAT WOULDN’T WORK:

G.Skill Ripjaws 4 series 16GB (2x8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM 2400mHz (PC4-19200) Memory Kit (Model F4-2400C15D-16GRR) DID NOT WORK AND WAS RETURNED
NO: $200.98 @ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231826

SECONDARY RAM (PURCHASE #3) THAT WOULDN’T WORK ($10.30 to return):
Crucial 16GB Kit Ballistix Sport (2x8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 2400mHz (PC4-19200) CL16 (16-16-16) 1.2V non-ECC unbuffered Memory Kit (Model BLS2K8G4D240FSA)
$149.

TERTIARY RAM (PURCHASE #5) THAT WOULDN’T WORK: Crucial Ballistix Sport (1x4GB). Computer could run 1 of these, 2 of these, 3 of these, 4 of these, and 6 of these, but NOT 5 or 7 of these, goddamnit. And my CPU cooler blocks one of the 8 slots.

VIDEO CARD:
HIS iPower IceQ X² Boost H270QM2G2M Radeon R9 270 2GB 256-Bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
$151.98 @ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161449&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-na-_-na-_-na&cm_sp=&AID=10446076&PID=3938566&SID=

thailog-gpu.jpg

SSD HARDDRIVE:
Crucial M500 240GB M.2 SATA3 Internal Solid State Drive (MLC) (CT240M500SSD4)
$123.99 @ http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=240GM5SSD4&c=CJ

thailog-ssd.jpg
SUMMARY:
$1,514.92 ($1559.92 initially with $45 back in rebates).
CPU, CPU cooler & SSD from SuperBiiz.
Case, Power Supply, Motherboard, RAM, & Videocard from NewEgg (2 items only cheaper due to rebates).

TEXT-ONLY, BRIEF DESCRIPTION:

CPU: Intel Core i7-5820K Haswell-E 6-Core 3.3GHz (BX80648I75820K) with Arctic Freezer I30 cooler
MOBO: ASRock X99 WS EATX LGA2011-3 Motherboard ( Intel X99 chipset)
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 4 (2x8GB) DDR4 2400 (F4-2400C15D-16GRR)
VID:  HIS iPower IceQ X² Boost H270QM2G2M Radeon R9 270 (2GB 256-Bit GDDR5)
SSD: Crucial M500 240GB M.2 SATA3 Internal Solid State Drive CT240M500SSD4)
PSU: Enermax ERV1000EWT-G 1000W

Had a dream that re-visited a real-life problem I’d been trying to crack for a couple decades: Converting my Apple2 software/disks to PC format.

This was always impossible in real-life because PC drives were not capable of reading Apple2-format disks. But around 2004 or so, someone finally figured it out: You need a DOS box with *two* 5.25″ floppy drives (and a harddrive). The software splits the various signals between the two floppy drives, tricking the PC drive into using [incomplete?] signals to actually be able to read an Apple2 disc.

Again, this is all a real-life issue. I’d been grabbing dead computers from parents’ and such, but none tended to have 5.25″ drives anymore–everyone switched to 3.5″ drives in the early 1990s, and it’s 20 frickin’ years later.

So anyway, in the dream, I was trying to crack this problem again. I was home at my parents’ house… It felt like a college summer-vacation or something, and perhaps it was. Perhaps the dream-within-the-dream was in the mid-1990s. I’m unsure of the barrier between the two, other than that I knew it was a dream within a dream. Our Apple2 had a modem, and I decided to call some BBSes like I used to on college summer breaks in real-life.

This is the point that I should have realized this was a dream: Had I had a modem on my Apple2, I would have been able to, in theory, use 2 disk drives, imaging the 1st disk onto the 2nd drive, then uploading the image to a PC of mine, using 2 phone lines (which we had). This is actually something I asked my dad for in real-life many many times, and he always refused, thus me still having dreams about the prospect 20 years later.

So anyway, in dreamland, I get on the Apple2 and call some BBSes and such. At some point, I wake up from the dream-within-a-dream, and am just in the dream, which is in the present (2012), and not in the mid-1990s. In the dream, I have woken up from the dream-within-the-dream, and realize I need to get cracking on making this conversion project finally happen.

So in this outer-layer dream, I realize that I need to research the software required to do that. On the software’s web-page, there are a few sample diskette images… Including one uploaded by my friend Angel, which had something to do with bypassing an interrupt on the Apple2. Despite the fact that I am using http:// to contact a webpage (still on an Apple, for some reason), a sysop breaks into sysop chat with me, just like in the BBS days. We talk about the problem, and I probably talk about the fact that I can only find one 5.25″ floppy drive, and haven’t been able to find another.

I wake up — this time, in real life. (The rest of this post is all in real life.)

I am quite agitated that this problem still has not been solved. I realize I can’t get back to sleep while thinking about this, and leave Carolyn in bed to go tinker with our old 486 DOS box that I have. It has a 5.25″ floppy drive and a 3.5″ floppy drive and a 1G harddrive. It has 8M (megs, not gigs) of RAM: 1/1000th of the ram of computers these days typically have. It has a turbo button. The harddrive has jumpers in THREE different places. I try to boot up, but it fails. We still have one “real” computer with a floppy drive: Carolyn’s 2004ish computer, which is still her primary computer. I download a bootable floppy image from http://bootdisk.com, and “burn” it to the disk. The 3.5″ drive still doesn’t boot. I go to our spare-hardware bookshelf, looking through my stack of 8 or so discarded 3.5″ floppy drives. Since computer fashion was white in the 1990s, and black in the late 2000s, I pick the only black drive, assuming that it’s newer. This one correctly boots up the floppy.

I still can’t access the harddrive. I take it out, and painstakingly write down the number of heads, cylinders, sector size, jumper configurations: Taking up a whole sheet of paper. I mess with a few configurations and can’t get the drive to be recognized. Finally, *while the computer is on*, I plug in the power to the harddrive, because I’ve passed the point of caring anymore. A big blue spark makes me jump, and shuts the power of the computer off: I overloaded the power supply, shutting everything down. This can be doom for a computer, but instead, I try booting up again, and for the first time, it works! IT’S ALIVE!

And it’s even been Clintified: It has a bootup 1-key menu to run cool programs like AcidWarp, Plaswave, and LSDino. I will use this to run a screen during parties!

So now all I need is a 2nd 5.25″ floppy drive. So I was going to a party the day I woke up with this dream… And decided to write on the wall of the party event, “If anyone has a 5.25″ floppy drive that they could give me… It would really make my day.”

And then…. a cool dude named Tom actually brought a drive, and gave it to Paul, who gave it to me!

So I got to go home with the drive I needed THAT DAY… Because of a fucking dream!

This is like the most productive dream I’ve ever had in my life!

''Dreams... They're the hurricanes that wash the soulfilth from the superdome of our nightminds.'' --Xavier:Renegade Angel

“Dreams… They’re the hurricanes that wash the soulfilth from the superdome of our nightminds.”
Xavier:Renegade Angel (more…)

When I complain about my iPhone 2G suckiness — and people tell me the new iPhone 3G/4G/whatever fixed whatever particular problem it is at the time (and there are many)…

It just kind of reminds me of when you point out some bullshit in the old testament to a christian, and they say, “Oh, the new testament fixes that!”

That is to say: It doesn’t pass muster with me.

“The 1978 Pinto doesn’t blow up like the 1977 one does!” doesn’t make me think Pinto is an innovative company, it makes me think they’re a company who put a faulty product out. (more…)

Moving files-that-I-wouldn’t-mind-losing to new drive as we speak. New total stats (less 80G from 1999 computer in bedroom that is only turned on a couple days a year):

    Total Usable Space:  12,177,246,543,872  11340.9G   11.08T
    Total  Used  Space:   9,678,221,062,144   9013.5G    8.80T
    Total  Free  Space:   2,499,025,481,728   2327.4G    2.27T
Percentage Free (Full):                        20.52%  (79.48% full)

^ Generated using the “free” command (“free c: d: e: f: g: h: etc”), piped through “frpost.pl”, a perl script that I use to postprocess the free command, giving gigabyte/terabyte conversions, and a multi-drive total at the bottom. Go past the jump for the code to that perl script, it’s quite useful for prettying up the output of the “free” command. (more…)

Moving files-that-I-wouldn’t-mind-losing to new drive as we speak. New total stats (less 80G from 1999 computer in bedroom that is usually turned off):

    Total Usable Space: 10,655,142,125,568   9923.4G    9.69T
    Total  Used  Space:   7,471,858,606,080  6958.7G    6.80T
    Total  Free  Space:   3,183,283,519,488  2964.7G    2.90T
Percentage Free (Full):                        29.88%  (70.12% full)

^ Generated using the “Free” command (“free c: d: e: f: g: h: etc”, I have a “fr.bat’ that is basically free followed by every valid drive letter), and then passed through to “frpost.pl”, a perl script that I use to postprocess the free command, giving gigabyte/terabyte conversions, and a multi-drive total at the bottom. Go past the jump for the code to that perl script, it’s quite useful for prettying up windows output to get a nice total like this.

(more…)

What is your favorite key on the keyboard? Much could be said on the topic.

TEMPTING ANSWER: THE SPACE BAR?

At first, one is tempted to say the SPACE BAR. After all, it’s the largest key, and the only one we typically hit with our thumb. It’s very unique, frequently used, and is the AMUSEMENT PARK of the keyboard world. A huge key that can be pressed down on the left side OR the right side. It can slant. It has a nice shape – a sexy curve on ergonomic keyboards. It’s size would allow it to beat any other key in a fight. It’s arguably used more frequently than almost any other key on the keyboard.

20020727 - Hot Carolyn 105-0530_IMG

note the sexy curves of an ergonomic space bar

BUT WAIT! The space bar is a whiny little bitch! It’s the only key on the keyboard that doesn’t just POP back into the keyboard when you take it out. If you take the space bar out, it can take MANY tries to get it properly seated again. They always have those 2 stupid metal ‘levers’ that must be simultaneously perfectly inserted for your key to function. Otherwise you get one of those DOWN SYNDROME like situations where one lever is seated, the other isn’t, and your space bar is sloped like a slide. (Again, it is the AMUSEMENT PARK of keys, so a slide would be applicable. But if the slide is going down from left to right, then you’re not going to be able to successfully hit the key with your right thumb – it’s only going to work on the left half of the key.))

So in the end, the SPACE BAR is a WHINY LITTLE BITCH-ASS PIECE OF SHIT. It is the key most likely to cause you to have to go out and buy a new keyboard. Hundreds of tons of old keyboards go to landfills, and seep toxic chemicals into our water supply. ALL BECAUSE THE SPACEBAR IS A WHINY LITTLE HIGH-MAINTENANCE BITCH. In the end, while it may be fun to bash that key over and over again — there are even games that only require the space bar — one must conclude that, in practical terms, the SPACE BAR is quite likely the WORST key on the keyboard

THE RIGHT ENTER?

One of my personal favorites is the right Enter key — the huge vertical one on the edge of the number pad. There are many non-typing situations where you need to hit enter to continue. After 30 years of computing, I recently discovered yet another use for ENTER that I didn’t know about: Advancing to the right in menus. My right arrow key recently broke, so I’ve been forced to find alternative ways to navigate around. Most people just use a mouse, but in the end, a mouse is more work and is slower. You lose time reaching. You have to make a bunch of precise movements; it’s easy to mis-mouse. It’s impossible to mis-keyboard. When you want to go to the right, you hit a key and it goes to the right. No skill required.

20070910 - Beavis, day 2 - IMG_3581 - Beavis, in the cubby hole

Right Enter: Even more slappable than kittens!

SO ANYWAY, the right enter key is actually better than the normal enter key, because it’s on the VERY CORNER of the keyboard. You can slap dat azz — your keyboard’s ass — with your eyes closed, and still hit the corner enter. WITH YOUR PALM. The corner-enter and the escape key are the only keys you can really operate via a bitch-slap. And believe me — computers need to be bitch slapped. Hell, they want it. Bitches.

THE ESCAPE KEY?

I’m tempted to make the right-Enter my favorite key, but, honestly, the ESCAPE key comes in handy even more often than the enter key. Countless situations are easily exited from via the ESCape key. Hell, escaping as an abstract concept is way cooler than entering. Escape implies chase. A break to freedom. Getting out of the prison. Getting out of the window you are in. If you want to extend the window metaphor a bit further: ESCape is like smashing a glass window so you can get out of it. And, in the immortal words of Homer Simpson, “Smashing stuff is fun.” Or in the immortal words of Beavis, “Heh heh M heh heh. Let’s go break something.”

20100115 - Carolyn's computer problems - GEDC1333 - 'ESC'aping cat figurine

30 cat statues agree: I want to escape over and over and over again!

And ESCape is the only other key besides the right-enter that you can typically bitch slap with your palm. It’s a bit harder because it’s on the top, so I end up hitting it with the underside of my index finger. But a big part of my point is: Keys that you don’t have to hit with your actual fingertip are easier than keys you have to hit with your fingertip. And in the immortal words of Dildo Valerie, “Easy is better than hard.”

So there’s a big case to be made that the ESCape key is the best key ever.

THE ARROWS?

Here’s yet another one the non-power-user mouse people might not understand the value of: The arrow keys. More so with the left-right ones than the up-down ones. And more so the left arrow than the right arrow. The ranking is probably: left, right, up, down. I suppose your average lame user will simply use the mouse to go back and correct a typo. Me? I use control-left-arrow to go back one word per keypress. You can reach for your mouse; I’m not moving my arms. My mouse is at least 1 foot away from my keyboard. FUCK moving 1 foot every time I make a typo!

2007ish - painted keyboard at Home Depot (diptych)

One merely need look at a Home Depot paint section keyboard to see how much more often the arrow keys are used compared to other keys.

And no, backspace doesn’t win for typos. Backspace erases your work and causes you to have to re-do it. Arrow keys let you navigate directly to the typo and fix it, without having to retype. This is why backspace is not anywhere near the top of the list.

I recently spilled on my keyboard, and lost my right arrow. So now I have to use the right arrow on the number pad as well (which opens the whole “is numlock on or not?” can of worms — VERY UGLY WORMS). At first I was pretty positive I’d have to buy another keyboard. If I was a heavy gamer, I certainly would. In fact, just a year ago I would have had to buy a new keyboard over this. But I recently changed the way I play first person shooters for the first time in 20 years, now mousing with my right hand instead of my left hand, and a real mouse instead of a trackball. (I’ve reversed my long-held position and changed my conclusion: Trackballs are inferior to mice for games). This means that the keyboard keys I use are on the left side of the keyboard instead of the right. I never knew that changing my Quake3 keys would cause me to not have to buy a keyboard. Hidden payoff that saves me money!

ANYWAY, this spill has taught me a great lesson about the value of the arrow keys. I was floundering and frustrated all the time with a missing right arrow key. Non-power-users might not even notice it being missing, but for me, it was something that created stress every couple minutes of computer use. I have since trained my self to slam my hand way over to the right number-pad arrow key, and to also hit control-right-arrow (using the numpad-arrow) without looking as well. It took a few weeks, but now I feel stronger. Redundancy prevents catastrophes, and having 2 sets of arrowkeys only underscores just how great the arrow keys are.

OTHER TEMPTING CASES: BACKSPACE, CAPS LOCK

BACKSPACE a lot of people would be tempted to choose as their favorite, simply because it’s a big key, and it’s used more often, and it helps fix your mistakes. But I think, in the arrows section above, that I’ve outlined why I personally wouldn’t choose it as my favorite key.

20061225 - Christmas - Sawyers - Clint - reading Slashdot (by Vicky)

Look at this foo’ playin’ around with a mouse! Use THE KEYS, man! THE KEYS!

So what about CAPS LOCK?
A lot of people don’t use caps lock, but I recently trained myself to use it efficiently. Holding down shift with 1 hand and typing an entire word with just one hand represents a slowdown. Using either CAPS LOCK *or* SHIFT exclusively is going to waste time. The best thing to do is use the right tool for the job. If you just want to capitalize one letter, or you are typing a word that is typed exclusively with one hand (like “case”–typed exclusively with left hand, or “mop”–typed exclusively with right hand), then SHIFT is the best key to use. But if you are trying to type a word that requires both sides of the keyboard in ALL CAPS (for example, the phrase “ALL CAPS”), then your best bet is to hit caps lock, type the word as you normally do, and then hit it again. (Hell, if you’re using a mechanical typewriter, this method is less likely to jam your typewriter. But nobody does that these days.) Either way, it’s simply quicker and less work to do this. Holding shift down while you type 5 or 6 letters is NOT one keypress of work; it is the equivalent work of pressing several keys. I’d say about 0.15keystrokes per key typed. It’s simply less work to use the caps lock when applicable.

And in that sense, caps lock allows you to NOT have to hold down the shift key for a long time. It is a big effort-saver, you don’t have to strain your muscles as much, it’s big and unique — and that makes it a cool key.

SO WHICH IS IT?

I don’t know! There’s reasons to like a lot of keys on the keyboard ! I might go with ESCAPE, actually. Yes. It’s escape. Definitely.

 

LEAST FAVORITE KEY? WHAT ARE THE KEYS THAT SUCK?

WINDOWS KEY? It’s tempting to say the WINDOWS key, but frankly this key is a time saver. Windows-M to minimize all windows, Windows-L to lock your workstation (if you do this right, you can press the key while getting up, and use your keyboard as leverage so you don’t have to use your leg muscles as much). Windows-anything is a good hotkey combination that doesn’t interfere with already-taken-up alt- and control- key combinations. For instance, Winamp controls music with ZXCVB while you are in the program. I set up Win-Z, Win-X, Win-C, Win-V, Win-B as my hotkeys for those same operations when Winamp is not at the forefront. (Though, the best key to pause your music is actually the PAUSE key — However, mine stopped working in the same spill that cost me my right arrow key.)
So the WINDOWS key is actually a great key.

2ND WINDOWS KEY? The one with the menu on it? Seems pointless, but it’s a great way to right-click something without reaching for the mouse. So it’s a good key, not a bad key.

BACKSLASH! Not because it sucks in and of itself, but because every fucking keyboard manufacturer seems to want to put this in a different place. STANDARDIZE, PLEASE!

HOME/END/INSERT/DELETE/PGUP/PGDOWN – These are actually some of my favorite keys ever, but the fact that they re-arrange them on so many other keyboards reduces their value. I still can’t get over how people will reach for the mouse and pull the scrollbar down for 10 seconds to get to the end of a document, when they could have just hit Control-End. Morons.

“MOON KEY” – some keyboard shave a key to put you into sleep mode. I’ve actually had to use nail clippers to clip the plastic off of these in some cases. Sleep mode blows, and there should NEVER be a key that stops everything you’re doing to such a level. It’s as if 1000 ESCAPE keys suddenly cried out in the silence. Baby Jesus weeps at the moon key.

20080809 - Oranjello - I'm in UR computr - 164-6449

KITTEH SAYS: Stai awai from moon key!

“PAUSE KEY” – It’s kind of pointless unless you set it up to pause your music, then it kicks major ass.

“SCROLL LOCK” – Another pointless key, but it actually has interesting and useful effects in Microsoft Excel. And if you use Winamp‘s Milkdrop plugin, it keeps you from going to the next visualizer preset. I use scrolllock! And it’s another key I lost in my spill recently :/

F9 – F12 is cool for being on the edge; F11 is cool for toggling fullscreen (and is another key I lost to my water spill, now I have to use Alt-Enter and Alt-V,F to toggle fullscreen in various situations). F1 is help. Other functions often start at F2 and continue. F5 is refresh. But it’s very rare that programs define so many F-keys as to get up to F9. I declare F9 the most useless F-key.

~` – The tilda/backtick key. Non-unix people probably never use tilda. The backtick is just a gross quote; you should use apostrophe. These unpopular characters end up being a corner key on the main keyboard swath. And you accidentally hit them sometimes when you hit ESCape. A strong argument could be made that this is the most boring and lame key on the keyboard.

OTHER RANDOM MUSINGS

WHICH CONTROL KEY IS BETTER? The left control is way better than the right control. It’s bigger, and I usually hit it with the top of my palm, directly under my pinky finger. Another key you don’t need to hit with your fingertip.

20080203 - preparing for the floor tiling - 151-5161 - Carolyn mousing on the spiral stairs

Keys that are hard to get to SUCK!

SWAPPING CONTROL AND CAPS LOCK: I’ve also used programs to swap left-control and caps lock. It takes some getting used to, but for me, I use control way more than caps lock (even though I use caps lock way more than most people). This is the setup of Sun SparcStation keyboards, and there are Windows programs that allow these to be swapped. It actually allows your hands to move much less. If you don’t use the palm-trick to hit left control (outlined in previous paragraph), it’s actually quite a strain to reach all the way to the bottom left corner to hit control 1000 times a day.

FUNKY ENTER KEYS: The main enter key is often in various shapes and sizes. This makes it an individual in a world of conformist keys, and thus a bit cooler. Though I still prefer the right-enter to the main enter.

Thoughts? Comments? Leave ’em here. I think I’ve fleshed this rant out about as much as possible. (more…)

Really? I’ve never heard of that. A relative just posted this:

Twenty years after I bought my first Mac IIx, f-ing MacPros still don’t have an *eject* button, and still won’t let go of their f-ing discs. In 1990 it was floppies–today DVD. Two cold boots and 10 minutes later, the disc finally ejects. Aaaaarrrggghh.

Apple users care so much about form over function, that they actually found a way to screw themselves over on basic CD/DVD drives. Wow.

They don’t have a hole to put a paper-clip into, to force an eject! How stupid! I asked, and the answer I received was, “[no hole…] nothing but perfect sleek aluminum.”

Furthermore, to add insult to injury — they don’t actually have a traditional eject button either! So PC users get 2 methods of ejection (3 if you count software ejection), while Mac users get 0 methods of ejection (1 if you count software ejection — Mac users can type “drutil eject” at the command-line, but do you think they actually know that?).

I don’t know about you, but I like having redundant systems. 2-3 methods > 0-1 methods!

My DVD burner stopped ejecting all the time about 4 yrs ago. A paper clip has to be inserted to force the eject. Software eject wouldn’t work either. I’ve paid $0 more since it happened. But if I was an Apple user, I’d have had to pay to replace it, because there’d be no way to eject the disk, because Apple users would rather have sleek aluminum than something functional.

Ahh, the cult of apple. Computers as fashion. Form over function. They claim they don’t pay more, but every time I hear of an Apple breaking in any way, Apple users have to buy a completley new computer, or send it in for service. I’ve still never heard of anybody I know persoinally ever fixing their Apple themselves.

Of course, they still claim it’s so much better. It’s like a person taking their car to a shop telling a person who knows how to fix his own car that he’s wrong.

BTW, Google Shopping says the cheapest 6X DVD drive for a MacPro is $26. If you remove “MacPro” from the same search, the cheapest drive is $10. More evidence to counter people who say “Macs don’t cost more.”

Apple was the shit… in the 1980s. (more…)

things that have died in the past 4 months:

  • my car [deer = fender, headlight, blinker, +$3000, -$200]
    20091206 - hit a deer - front left - big hole - GEDC0915
  • my car [tie rod, -$700]
    20100227 - Clint's car - tie rod broke - Clint's tires point in different directions - 0 - success edit
  • my car [tire, -$100]
    postcard - woman fixing car in garters - b39c3 (b&w)
  • my RAM [they’re not honoring the warranty replacement because they claim it came from a 4G set, even though I never got 4G at once ever, -$80]
    20091212 - 1 - RAM failure - GEDC1106
  • my 1.5TB harddrive [only 6 months old, Western Digital Green drives suck]
  • carolyn’s car [headlights, -$10 so far, much more to come]
    20090620 - Artomatic - GEDC0129 - Carolyn's car's coolant casualty
  • carolyn’s mp3 player [-$47]
    20080113 - Chicago - 150-5010 - clock radio
  • carolyn’s motherboard [-$70]
    20071006-08 - building Hades - 139-3902 - motherboard (Abit IP35 Pro)
  • carolyn’s power supply [-$45]
    20071006-08 - building Hades - 138-3818 - power supply with MANY connectors
  • carolyn’s 120G harddrive
    20090118 - cleaning house - 175-7503 - harddrives
  • our house’s dryer [$-82 so far]
    20071030 - Beavis in the laundry room - 141-4155
  • our smallest TV, which I had since 1990ish
    20100214 - party aftermath - GEDC1538 - broken TV

(more…)

Cars sure are annoying! First, Carolyn gets pulled over after the last Voltaire concert, because she didn’t have her headlights on. The officer assumed she was drunk, made up that he smelled alcohol [she drank 1 beer during the whole concert!], and made her take a sobriety test. I of course used the Android Cop Recorder application to record audio, in case the officer tried to pull somebullshit:

So it turns out her headlights are broken somehow… We drove home from D.C. on her fog lights.

Well, last night, we went to Brad & Mandy’s 4th Annual Chili Cookoff… We had the heated chili in hand, and bam, I notice my car has a flat tire.

So we have a choice: Go with a car that has a flat tire, or go with Carolyn’s car. Which, as it turns out, only has ONE working fog light remaining.

Driving home at 2:30AM with one fog light is strange. You can see, but not nearly so much.

And since Farmers Declared my car a total loss, I can’t take advantage of their free towing anymore. Carolyn & I have both utterly failed at changing tires, multiple times in our past. I usually just get it towed to the tire store for free and let them do it; I never even see it happen. But not today. Today I have to try to change my spare tire onto the car. Having never successfully done this in the past — I have little faith in myself here. I even jumped on the wrench as hard as I could, and still, with my full body weight kicking, could not turn the wrench. But that was in 1994. Now we have wikihow.com and ehow.com, and they say to use penetrating oil if you can’t turn ’em. Maybe that tip will help.

Meanwhlie, Carolyn changed her headlight bulbs, but they still don’t work! Grr. Our next party next weekend is a significantly farther ride. I am either going to need my tire fixed, or she is going to need her headlights fixed. It’s probably gonna be my car….

Meanwhile, I’m debating buying some freon. I haven’t had air conditioning in 3 or 4 years, and the older I get, the worse I am at dealing with extreme heat (AND cold).

FML? (more…)

Tablet PCs have been around. People have been able to do the things an iPad does forever. But they weren’t buying them until Apple told them they “needed” it.

Someone told me, “If you don’t want a closed device, don’t buy one from Apple.” I believe this person was one of the ones that has already bought an iPad.

The real crux is: Did this person “need” a tablet PC before the iPad come out, or did they only “need” it once the iPad came out? If their need only existed once Apple released a product, then it’s not a real need.

And if their need existed before the iPad came out, were they sitting there going, “You know.. I want a tablet pc. But the ones out there are way too open. Hopefully they’ll come out with a closed one. I’ll wait around until there’s one with less freedom.”

I find that a bit hard to swallow. (more…)

Several people have asked me about my e-cigarettes. Indeed, they were a very popular topic of conversation at Vicky & Ryan’s wedding. There’s a few reasons why they kick ass:
  1. They’re very popular wherever anyone takes them, as they represent a new way to do an old drug. The meeting of technology and consciousness altering. Total conversation piece. Even children will ask to see your e-cigarette.
  2. The “smoke” doesn’t stink up a place; it doesn’t even hurt your eyeballs if a thick cloud goes into them.
  3. It’s not even smoke. It’s vapor. Like what comes off your soup when you cook it on your stove.
  4. None of the added chemicals. People on nicotine gum and the patch will insist it’s 100% safe because all of the dangers are in the smoking process. Regardless of whether this is actually true or not, the same thing applies to e-cigarettes.
  5. Renowned director John Waters says it’s ridiculous to not smoke in a movie, and that you should do it anyway to keep ushers employed
  6. https://i0.wp.com/clint.sheer.us/pics/animated_money.gifPrice.
  7. Location, location, location: Do what you want, where you want.
  8. Push social boundaries: E-cigarettes are a way to flick off the current cultural trend of persecuting smokers, by finding a way to smoke that doesn’t make people whine about the perceived harm of secondhand smoke [which is less than the harm of living in a populated area, and is not harmful enough to trigger OSHA protections].

I enjoyed smoking my e-cigarette in museums and restaurants during the wedding weekend. Of course, you shouldn’t call it smoking. It’s vaping, as in vaporizing. No smoke is produced — only vapor (which can look like smoke, especially in high-glycerine mixes). No tobacco is ignited. In fact, nothing is ignited. No oxygen is burned. This evades almost all smoking bans in the country. This also reduces the risk of accidentally burning your house down. You could safely do this in your bed, if you were so strangely inclined.

If you're lucky, and carefully follow my advice, you can be almost as cool as me.

https://i0.wp.com/clint.sheer.us/pics/animated_money.gifIt’s way more expensive up front. But like most investments, it takes money to save money. In the end, you can get your nicotine for much cheaper than the cost of cigarettes. Smoking destroys 90% of nicotine; it never reaches your bloodstream. Vaping does not. Even if the nicotine were the same price, you’d still possibly be spending 10 times less, simply because you’re not destroying 90% of your nicotine.

I first went to E-Cigarette-Forum and read the forums for many hours. In the end, I learned a lot, but I also suffered from the “500 people screaming 500 different things”. I finally opted for the DSE901 mini e-cig. We now have 2 in use, and enjoy them both. It’s small, and is a bit more work to get vapor from than some larger models. But its parts are cheap. The “Ferrari” of the e-smoking world is The Screwdriver. If you want that, you’re going to have to skip all my DSE901-specific advice below. But my liquid nicotine and flavoring advice still applies. The DSE901 is very small; about the size of a pen. That’s what *I* like about it:

This is what you want. This is what you get.

The Clint Way

I also opted for the method which maximizes drug per dollar, maximizes creativity and freedom, and minimizes environmental impact. In other words, I’m doing my own refills, and mixing my own flavors. This makes things harder, but way more fun and individualistic. It’s the Clint way.

There are a few things that you need to truly be set up for all situations. Basically, you need

  • the vaporizer (atomizer)
  • power
  • the drug.
  • Optional: your own flavors.

First things first: The atomizer:

  • The e-cigarette itself: The atomizer. A good price is $7. You want to have 2 on hand at all times, as heavy vapers will apparently go through these in a few weeks. I got a black one and a white one. I hear they last longer if you store them vertically, but I’m too lazy. Either way, when one breaks, you want a backup. Getting 2 of these and 2 batteries will actually mean you have 2 working e-cigarettes. Great for couples.

    The "meat" of your e-cigarette sandwich. This is where the magic happens, and it's only $7.

Next up: Power:

  • Power: A battery. A good price is $10. You want to have 2 on hand at all times, so you can use one while charging the other. Most batteries automatically activate when you suck on the e-cig. Some batteries require you push a button. I’d avoid these; they sound like way more work. Also, you get to choose the color of the light on the end. I recommend a blue — it makes it obvious that you’re not smoking. The orange/fire colored ones don’t make it as obvious, and could confuse people.

    Try to only use these when you're "out"; use a USB passthrough when you're at home. $10.

  • Power: A battery charger. Obvious. A good price is $8 for a wall charger, and $3 for a USB charger. I prefer the ones that plug into your wall, not your computer. You want them to work anywhere. $5 extra is worth that versatility.

    This particular one isn't the cheapest price, but it's the best picture. $8.

  • Power: A USB passthrough. A good price is $10. Hook this up to your computer or other USB power source. Great hits; no “dying battery weak hits”. Batteries supposedly only last for 2 or 3 months of use, so this decreases your battery use and saves you a lot of money. Plus, your computer is helping deliver a drug to your bloodstream!!! That’s a technological milestone. The current best deal I’ve found is at Rocky Mountain Vapor. They have free shipping on orders over $14, but I have gotten free shipping on their $10 USB passthroughs twice now. The chrome one definitely looks cooler, but the black one is more conforming to the DSE901 look.Note that if you don’t sit close to your USB port, you may want to order a 5′ USB extension cable. We ordered 5 recently, and ended up using them all for various purposes [webcams, wireless keyboard receivers, etc]. We just ordered another 4. NewEgg has some sweet deals if you get 5 or so. Otherwise, shipping is half your cost.

    This is what you want. A battery *substitute*, not charger. $10.

    This is NOT what you want. This is a *charger*. You're still using a battery this way. They are $5 cheaper than wall chargers, but you're still shit outta luck if your battery dies, and you will lose the $5 you saved by burning through your batteries faster.

  • Power: I don’t have one, but some people opt for a personal charger. Carolyn’s brother has one. It is, basically, a charger that you charge to charge your batteries. It often is made to look like a pack of cigarettes, and has several slots for batteries. It holds more power than a single battery can possibly hold — it holds enough to recharge batteries several times, without having to find an electrical outlet. Of course you still have to charge this charger, but it increases the total amount of power you can carry. Videogame players think of it as a power-up. D&D players think of it as a bag of holding.

Next: The Drug:

  • The drug: Nicotine cartridges. A good price is 25 to 60 cents. They come with nicotine usually, but sometimes they are also “blank”. It is basically a mouthpiece with a bit of Zippo-lighter-like wick in it. I am interested in finding a wholesale source for these wicks, as they get destroyed faster than the mouthpiece. I’d rather put a new wick in than pay another 30 cents for another mouthpiece that will fill up a landfill. I’m cheap, environmentally conscious (to some extent) and a do-it-yourselfer. I’ve actually used 2 cartridges for 2 e-cigarettes for well over 2 weeks without issue. There are some teeth marks in them. Eventually, I’ll throw them away. I’d like to find 100 blank cartridges for less than 25 cents apiece. If anyone finds that deal, let me know.

    This is what goes in your mouth, and is where you drip your liquid nicotine into once they are empty.

True connoisseurs will want to make their own mixes, and drip them into cartridges rather than buying new ones:

  • The drug: Liquid nicotine. Rather than buying a new 30-to-60 cent cartridge for every few hours of use, get liquid nicotine to drip onto the wick. MUCH cheaper. Generally speaking, you want to find the highest concentration of nicotine as is possible, in order to minimize the amount of money you spend. The current best deal I could find is $30 for 30mL of 39mg/mL nicotine from Totally Wicked E-Liquid That’s 1,170 milligrams of nicotine! American cigarettes contain 9mg of nicotine, but you burn off so much that you only get 1mg per cigarette. By those numbers, this is 1,170 cigarettes for $30. That’s 2.5 cents a cigarette. There’s simply no way to beat that. And the deal gets sweeter if you order 5 bottles at time.

    Do not inhale fumes. Do not touch to skin. If it gets on your hand, wipe it on your jeans right away. You DON'T want to absorb this through your skin!

  • Custom Mixes: LorAnn flavorings. Create your own flavors and blends. Have fun. These are $1 at Wal-Mart, though please don’t shop at Wal-Mart. The selection is actually greater than most peoples’ imaginations. And of course you can mix: I’ve already mixed my chocolate mint with marshmallow to get Mint S’mores.

    I've tried 6 flavors so far, and like them in this order: Strawberry-Kiwi, Caramel, Marshmallow, Cinnamon Roll, Cotton Candy, Chocolate Mint. This order is totally different for eating than for vaping. Chocolate Mint and Cotton Candy weren't as good as I had hoped.

  • Custom Mixes: Glycerine. Use it to cut your liquid nicotine so it lasts longer, plus it makes more vapor / more “throat hits” / more cool-looking “smoke”. A good price is $5. It’s a cooking agent, so you can find it at craft stores, Wal-Mart, and such. Some people prefer propelyne glycol. I know nothing about that.

    "Restores consistency of icing colors." Or liquid nicotine vapor!

  • Custom Mixes: 50mL dripper bottles. About 50 cents each. We have 6 for our 6 blends. Honestly, I wish I’d gotten about 10. Even if you stop using an e-cig, these can come in handy later for cooking and such. (But dear god, clean them out THOROUGHLY if you are going them for cooking — nicotine is very toxic!)

    I recommend pretending you're a mad scientist.

If you travel, you’ll need a case:

  • Carrying case: Some people opt to spend $20 or $30 on a carrying case. Just use a Crown Royal bag, dummy! For your health. Also, it’s helpful to carry a set of tweezers in your case. If you re-use cartridges, eventually that cotton’s gonna fall out. And you really want to avoid touching liquid nicotine as much as possible.

    20070705-07 - 4th of July at Eric Axilbund's - IMG_2786 - Clint - wearing Crown Royal bag

    No, NOT LIKE THAT, idiot!

QUICK! TELL ME WHAT TO DO SO I CAN BE JUST LIKE YOU!! WHAT ARE THE CURRENT BEST DEALS??

1) Get a couple batteries (and a charger),  a couple atomizers, and some cartridges from ArloECig. The guy kicks ass and is very fast. I mis-ordered and informed him of my mistake 5 minutes later. He had already packaged it up, but removed the item and gave me store credit. Swell guy from Texas.

2) Get e-juice and dropper bottles from Totally Wicked E-Liquid. 39mg/mL concentration e-liquid is hard to come by, but they consistently have it.

3) Get a USB passthrough from Rocky Mountain Vapor. Even though they say free shipping on orders over $14, I’ve ordered a $10 passthrough twice and been charged no shipping. You. can’t beat that price.

You’re good to go for a bit. In fact, you can assemble two e-cigs with these parts. But you still need to achieve flavor mastery:

4) Shop local for your glycerine and LorAnn flavorings – Try Wal-Mart, or craft stores that sell cake supplies. Flavorings are pretty cheap online, but it’s the shipping that kills. Wal-Mart’s price is, of course, the best price I’ve seen. But your selection will be greater online, so make your own choice. If you stop using e-cigarettes, you can still use these to cook with!

5) Celebrate with a bottle of Crown Royal from your local liquor store – then save the bag it comes in.

**** One final tip: WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH e-cigarette-mart.com … In fact, you are best to steer clear of anything outside of America or the UK. Especially anything from China, Hong Kong, or Asia in general. You also don’t have to deal with the possibility FDA seizures, though there were only a few weeks that they did that. (And that’s likely how I lost my stuff from Hong Kong. The idiots made me pay shipping both ways to replace a warranted item too. I had to file a paypal complaint. I recovered about $10 of $30+ wasted dollars. It took 4+ months to resolve.) (more…)

It seems my blog isn’t very *personal* lately … so here’s some life-life-life stuff:

So lately.. Lots of things broke (totaled car, RAM fried, 1500G harddrive crashed, wireless keyboard broke)… Slowly it is time to rebuild them. I’m a bit slow, because I’m still doing picture photoshopping, movie reviews, dealing with files, dealing with music, and all the other crap I’ve been doing for the past 2 years while not working. And holidays got in the way too….

I finally got my car back today. Carolyn took me yesterday, but it wouldn’t start. On the way, we also returned my keyboard (props to Logitech for giving me FREE RETURN SHIPPING for the whole 5 year warranty period–they gave me a label, I printed it out, bam, free UPS!), and my RAM (which cost $9 to return).

RAMNT

In hindsight, I never should have gotten my ram. I never noticed my computer actually get noticeably faster — RAM doesn’t give you more CPU, it just reduces swap time. Most things that you wait for are either CPU intensive — can’t be sped up by RAM — or I/O intensive (and it’s usually the harddrive, which also isn’t sped up by ram). I definitely noticed 768M vs 256M on my old computer, but 4G vs 2G just isn’t noticable. There’s no way that having 4G of ram ever cumulatively saved me even the time it took to deal with the complications of returning the defective RAM. I’m not sure if it’s the new RAM that went bad, or if it’s the old RAM. If it was the old RAM, I at least have the cold comfort that the new stick saved me downtime. 2G is certainly infinitely faster than a computer with 0G of ram :)

CAR

So day 2, we came back to the body shop and successfully retrieved my car. The thing drives fine. I get $2940 for it. $2191 is for the value of the car, $750 is for rental [which I get to legally keep regardless of whether I get a rental]. They pay me $140 less if I keep it instead of salvage it. The repairs were estimated at about $100 more than my car. But the repairs included door: My door needs no fix! It opens and closes with only minor difficulty. The repairs included hood: I don’t care if my hood has dents! I can hammer them out myself. The repairs include paint: FUCK PAINT, that’s for superficial people who waste their money on bullshit.

All I really need repaired are my bumper. I don’t even want a new one, I just want the old one affixed back on my car. One headlight is hanging out and doesn’t work — and it’s on the FAR side from the impact. It’s likely just disconnected. I doubt I need a replacement headlight.

I’m thinking that getting this car legally driveable is going to be significantly cheaper than a full repair, or even than buying a $3000 used car that may be of questionable quality.

Sure, I don’t have air conditioning. Sure, I have moisture leakage that sucks in the winter [but great heat!]. Sure, my alternator may just be going for the 5th time — but that may have simply been the cold. But in the end, this car goes.

I think I’m going to drive it around and get some estimates on “crap repair jobs”. If I can get it legal for $1000, I’m keeping the thing. If the insurance wont cover it because its worthless, then my insurance will just be that much cheaper. I’ll have to call the insurance company and ask about such legal issues. I will of course record my call for legal purposes! have a device that runs my phone through a micro-cassette recorder. [Can cellphone people do that?] Even if my alternator goes bad and I pay $400 for freon, in this scenario that would only be $1900, meaning I end up with an extra $1000 profit AND cheaper car insurance.

I’m thinking this is the way to go. I really don’t want to have to look at other peoples’ shitty cars. My car is only shitty due to my own neglect; the engine is fucking awesome, the remote start still works even if the alarm has died since the accident, and having 2 12-inch subwoofers is really nice, even if one is burnt out. The thing is fast and handles well; I once outran a … well, nevermind. Better not admit such things publicly. Suffice to say it goes over 100mph with no problem and accelerates really well.

HARDDRIVE

Meanwhile we’re trying to get my harddrive out of the enclosure (which was utterly useless for harddrive-recovery-using-1999-computer purposes) and into Carolyn’s computer. This is proving to be challenging for Carolyn. Her computer now has SEVEN harddrives and THREE SATA controllers. Ridiculous. Her computer is basically where we shove all harddrives from crashed computers. It reminds me of Invader Zim from the Dark Harvest episode, where Zim says, “More organs means more human!” In this case, “more harddrives means more computer!”. My RMA period is going to expire, but I figure I might be able to restore some files from Carolyn’s computer during the day when she’s at work. If it was any other situation, I’d have sent it back yesterday with the keyboard and RAM. She is currently playing the “try different controller cards and find one that recognizes” it game. If I can get an other 10G off of it, it will all be worth it. It’s not like the data is really *lost*. Everything is burned twice. It’s just that backups are a LAST LAST resort.

STEREO

The freecycle stereo I got for $0, to replace my $1000-in-1997 120W-per-channel * 5 channels stereo — is working quite well. I got to ditch the pre-amp I was using (as the 1997 stereo died, things got quieter and quieter). No more amping the signal to 10 through TWO amps just to have it be moderatley loud. Surpringly, this 40W stereo is way louder than my 120W was. (And yes, I checked the speaker impedance.) So that was one thing that I got to restore to BETTER than status quo for free. I lose a fancy $100 clunky remote control, but I gain a quaint 3-disc CD player — CDs haven’t been played in Casa Clarolyntopiastan in like ~7 years.

JOB

Yea. I need to get a car first. Update my resume. Refresh it out there. Get some leads. Talk to recruiters. Talk to my ex-co-workers. Get my references in order. It’s really the last priority. I’ve been putting it off because it’s kind of inevitable. And I’m not looking forward to it. And I’d really like to get this computer crap in order first.

COMPRESSED AIR

Also… running low on compressed air. Quite honestly, I’d be willing to hand-pump a re-usable compressed air container. Having to pay $3-$8 for a can of air is ridiculous, especially when you wonder what kind of chemicals they use, and what kind of environmental damage there is in compressing, packaging, and transporting air. I only use 2-10 cubic liters of air at a time. If I had to hand pump first, whoop-de-do. Does anyone know of such a thing? It seems like it would be a hot product for the environmentally conscious computer geek.

SUMMARY

So yeah…. Stuff is pretty lame right now, but it can only go up from here… I suppose. We still got more savings than most single people I know — probably back into the 5-digit levels after I cash my insurance check. We have no kids dragging us down. We have a mere $1400 mortgage that is voluntarily $100 more than necessary that we will reduce it back to $1300 this week to stretch things out a bit. Our combined health insurance only takes $75 out of a month’s worth of pay, and has low deductibles (but $25 copays, grrr). And if all else fails, we have a year of [Carolyn’s] salary in 401(k) savings (now almost back to pre-economic crash levels), and an $80,000 credit line tied to the house. We could theoretically both quit our jobs, slack off, and live on the credit for 10+ yrs. Or It would probably get revoked at some point… But at the moment it seems like we’re “too big to fail”.

Overconfidence?

Hubris?

Or am I just less stressed out than a lot of people? Even if our house collapsed and the insurance company paid us $0, our land is still worth more than the money remaining on the mortgage! It seems impossible to lose. Or at least, improbable enough to not worry.

So no, I still don’t feel super rushed about this job thing. And in case anyone asks if Carolyn is pisseds that I’m a bum — I’ve still made more money than her since we moved in, and have still footed more than half of all expenses up to the point that I stopped working. And where I lack now will be retroactively paid off, as it has been in the past. So no, I don’t really feel any guilt, other than the fact that it’s a cryin’ shame that Carolyn can’t take a long break. Her work is pays less, but is more constant… While mine pays more, but is less constant. It’s a really good combination, actually.

So yea… if this is life sucking… I don’t have many complaints, really. I look forward to emerging from my coccoon sometime in 2010, and returning to corporate hell for another spell of 4-6 years. And then taking another year off :D (more…)

I gave up on chkdsk every finishing… I have to reboot every 3-7 days, and chkdsk is never going to finish in that timespan. And all 3 of our computers can’t be tied up with anything that requires a you to boot to a repair disc.

I got my new 1.5TB drive installed. Mad that it’s a Western Digital Caviar Green, and thus only has a 3yr warranty. But the Caviar Black apparently only comes in 1.0TB. And the 2TB Black is 3X more expensive than the 1.5TB Green. Sigh.

So now I’m just moving the files off at the command-line with a BAT file I run. A lot of smaller files are 100% intact. Take an anime series with 26 episodes — I’m getting maybe 23 of them. That still means having to get those 3 off disc, so I see a lot of disc-fetching in our future. (1.5TB = 333 DVD-Rs.)

Once moving things normally runs its course, I’ll try recovernig the files that wouldn’t move with R-Studio.

This whole process is probably going to take weeks. I just hope R-Studio doesn’t make my computer unusable. If it does… I’m not really sure where to go. The downstairs computer is in charge of downloading/burning; stopping that stops everything. Carolyn’s computer is used by Carolyn — would kind of suck for her to give that up for a week+. And my computer runs our music/TV. Nor would I want to give it up.

What I need is a 4th, spare computer… That has a SATA drive. Or maybe a USB enclosure that lets a SATA drive be used by a non-SATA computer? Is there such a thing? We do have a spare computer. A Pentium III built in 1999 (“Mist”) that’s still alive and kicking in our bedroom. I guess I need to investigate. If anybody knows, lemme know :) (more…)

https://i0.wp.com/clint.sheer.us/pics/animwoof.gifI think it’s particularly awesome (and annoying) when you’re watching some action movie that has lots of explosions… And then right after the explosions stop, something near the speaker falls down on the ground (sometimes/preferably  smashing into bits). It’s amazing that an explosion can be so faithfully reproduced that it actually hurts real objects in your house, even though the movie isn’t real.

…AWESOME!!!

(I used to knock pictures off the walls of adjacent dorm rooms in Pritchard Hall at Virginia Tech by playing Ministry‘s “So What?” as loud as I could… haha) (more…)

Since my new Onkyo stereo has on-screen menus, I thought it would be handy to hook it up to my TV. So I took the s-video out and attached it to my Sharp Aquos 52-inch TV’s s-video in, which I only used as a redundant connection from my computer that I could switch back and forth on to laugh at the difference between s-video and DVI/HDMI.

So guess what? The menus don’t output on s-video; only on HDMI. Nice of them not to include that!

So I order an HDMI cable and hook it up to my TV. Yay, I can see the menus now. They don’t really allow any changes that you can’t make without the screen, but it’s MUCH easier to navigate that way. Though — you can set the menu to be in 1080i, but no matter what, it’s always in 480i. Annoying, because that means waiting for everything to switch. I was hoping it would just appear on the screen instantly.

So I tried running my computer’s HDMI to the stereo, just for the hell of it. Perhaps when watching a movie, it could more correctly carry the audio to my receiver? Granted, the receiver has correctly been receiving 5.1 discrete sound; but maybe with DTS and other “weird” modes, they would work better through HDMI. Maybe, maybe not.

So I plug it in, and my computer warns me: The ATI x1950 graphics card I have only outputs video onto its HDMI. I would have had to go to the next-up graphic card at the time, which was $400 when I built my computer (I paid $215). Of course, the next-up graphic card is only $30 nowadays, and even their highest up is still only $200. So I *could* upgrade, but is there really a point? Most likely not, for 99% of the time.

Optical digital audio’s been good to me. I knew HDMI switching was not really important to me. My TV has 2 HDMI ports. One gets it directly from my computer Hades, and the other gets the output from the stereo. Carolyn’s computer also runs to the stereo — so technically I am using HDMI switching to switch between Carolyn’s computer and the stereo’s output. Of course, her computer can only output 640×480 to the HDTV, not 1920×1080 like mine. She has an even older ATI card, before they went to their “x-series” (which I got the last of, before they went to their “HD” series).

So … At least my initial suspicions about HDMI switching not being super-important to me are confirmed, even if it meant tinkering around for 30 minutes.

Now the OTHER feature not mentioned: This stereo has multi-room out. But I don’t want to send powered speaker wire to the other room; I want to send unpowered RCA cables to the other room, and amp it there. If you send powered out, you can only do 5.1 sound, not 7.1 sound. And I prefer to have an amp in each location, so I can control the volume from wherever I am. So I hook up the RCA-out, run it to the room… Nothing. Open up the manual for my stereo… OHHH, digital inputs wont be converted to analog output. Real frickin’ nice.

So Onkyo has burned me on two different outputs: Their s-video output that doesn’t output their menu, and their “zone 2” RCA outputs, that don’t output my (digital) audio. So I did what I previously did: Ran the audio from my computer. It’s what I always use anyway. But it would have been nice to have used the output to the Onkyo — because then its switching would have allowed me to switch to the other room.

I could have, for example, run *Carolyn’s computer’s* audio to the bedroom, in the event that my computer died. (Her computer also has a complete copy of our music collection, so the music can never die!) But now, I’m stuck just sending my computer there.

Time to update my internal document of what to look for in a receiver. But if they don’t advertise things they don’t do very well, I wonder how I can avoid something like this happening with my next purchase? (more…)

    Total Usable Space:   7,227,297,775,616   6730.9G    6.57T
    Total  Used  Space:   5,315,116,535,808   4950.1G    4.83T
    Total  Free  Space:   1,912,181,239,808   1780.9G    1.74T
Percentage Free (Full):                        26.46%  (73.54% full)

This is not counting Carolyn’s old computer “Mist”, which has 3 drives totalling 120G. They’re all empty… we don’t turn that computer on anymore. It’s just about the only computer to outlive its usefulness without physically dying. (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link — bit they don’t actually have it! Yet…] [Wikipedia link] [Fansite link – includes soundtrack]

A cult classic from 1990 — I managed to pick up some German DVD of this, which is quite the rare item. It may or may not be a legit release. It’s long been out of print. It has an interview not included with the VHS, but the menus look like something some script kiddie made. This release unfortunately seems to have been cropped to 4:3 (1.333:1 fullscreen), even though Netflix lists it as 1.85:1 (i.e. properly widescreen). But maybe Netflix is wrong. I’ll have to check my VHS recording someday. Apparently it IS coming out on BluRay and on dvd (R2) in June of 2009.

LIMERICK REVIEW: There once was a stoner artist named Jill.
Whose boyfriend brought home a robot made to kill.
The sculpting montage was fun;
But soon she was on the run.
It turned out to be part of the population control bill.

HAIKU REVIEW: Never drop acid
when trying to save your friend
from killer robots.

PEOPLE: The first of two major feature films directed by South African filmmaker Richard Stanley… Though he has done other lower budget films, documentary films, and full-length music films for the band Marillion. He was interviewed in 2007: http://notcoming.com/features/richard-stanley-interview/ and in 1997: http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/offscreen/Stanley.html.

Starring hottie Stacey Travis (Ghost World, Traffic, Earth Girls Are Easy, “The Wink” Seinfeld episode, Intolerable Cruelty), her boyfriend Dylan McDermott (The Practice, Party Monster, Jersey Girl, and Hamburger Hill [my first date movie!]), Irish actor John Lynch as his friend Shades. And William Hootkins (The Island Of Dr. Moreau, Superman 4, Radiers Of The Lost Ark, and “Red Six” in Star Wars [!]) as the ultra-creepy voyeur “Link”.

With small cameos by Lenny, leader of Motorhead, Iggy Pop as a voice-only radio announcer (“And the good news is… There is nooo fucking good news!”), and Carl McCoy, singer of Fields Of The Nephilim, as The Nomad.

VISUALS: Flipping through TV channels in post-apocalyptic movies is always strange. Remember the “future TV” in THX-1138 that became the opening sample for Nine Inch Nail’s Mr. Self Destruct? TV in this movie is equally disturbing, containing clips from GWAR, Einsturzende Neubauten’s 1/2 Mensch, and clips reminiscent of (but NOT from) Testuo The Iron Man.

An incredible triumph of style over substance! Not that there is no substance — there is. But style seems to take a definite forefront to substance in this movie. The music, the lightning, the computers (which are reminiscent of the computers in Max Headroom:20 Minutes Into The Future, or the movie Brazil), the camera angles, the flickring lights, the fractal hallucinogen shots — are all great triumphs of style in this movie.

Movies this cyberpunk fit pretty squarely in with today’s goth culture. I could see this being played on a screen at a goth club, and people standing around it in complete motionlessness.

QUIRKS: A society with legal drugs. Jill smokes “Happy” cigarettes — legal marijuana. Shades drops acid before the conflit starts, and is tripping during the entire movie. (“That’s some serious.. fuck ’ems!”) You don’t see alcohol anywhere. Just the pot and LSD.

Originally given an X rating, though this is totally undeserved.

Based on a 2000 AD comic short story called SHOK! Walter’s Robo-Tale — which was apparently only 7 pages long.

Quite politically relevant, even in today’s standards. Nuclear war. Population control. Global poverty. Your typical cyberpunk elements.

Won the 1991 Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival award for best special effects, the Brussels International Festival Of Fantasy 1991 Silver Raven award, and the Fantasporto 1991 International Fantasy Film Award for Best Director (and nomination for Best Film).

SOUNDTRACK: Soundtrack includes “Stigmata” by Ministry. This is possibly the best use of a heavy industrial song in any movie ever, and it’s pretty much one of my favorite Ministry songs ever. They play GWAR on a TV while the song is playing, too! This is more or less my favorite music montage of any movie ever. A frickin’ inredible song played while using a blowtorch to create an amazing piece of art situated around a robotic head. You can actually download the entire soundtrack at the fansite HERE.

The closing credits is “The Order Of Death” by P.I.L. (with Johnny Rotton of the Sex Pistols) — “This is what you want; This is what you get.” repeated over and over.

It also includes “The Ace Of Spades” by Motorhead (played in the movie by Lemmy, using a cassette player in the taxi he is driving), and 2 Iggy Pop songs.

It’s also interestingly scored by Simon Boswell, with strange synth music that gives it a very unique feel.

POLITICS: The government is not always acting in your best interest. Population control has been on their agenda for some time — since before the inception of this movie. As we move closer to running out of resources due to over-population, the population control agenda will inevitably grow. We may someday be considered collateral damage in a war on ourselves — a war to make sure our resources don’t run out.

BAD STUFF: Not a high-budget movie. The effects look pretty 1990. Not many characters, either. And it’s hard to find. Many people who saw this in the theatres in 1990 walked out. Many hated this. But I’ve never found a soul who’s ever watched it and not loved it. 50% of people rate it 7 or higher on IMDB. Nonetheless, there are those who hate this film. Whether you are one of them is a matter of taste.

CONCLUSION: Rated only 5.4 on IMDB (though 50% of people rate it 7 or higher).

I give it a 9/10 on IMDB and 5/5 stars on Netflix. This should be part of the cyberpunk film bible, of such a thing existed.

RECOMMENDATION: I think anyone given opportunity to see this should take said opportunity, and am willing to loan out my VHS or DVD to friends.

SIMILAR MOVIES/SHOWS: Blade Runner. Max Headroom:20 Minutes Into The Future. The Terminator. Even Robocop and the movie Brazil have similar aspects.

Here’s hoping Hardware 2 gets produced someday! Maybe the blu-ray release will stir up some interest? Unfortunately, the fact that the intellectual property rights are split between multiple entities is yet another way in which intellectual “property” laws have deprived us of the very art they were meant to protect.

MOVIE QUOTE: “Oh we all walk the Wibberly-Wobberly walk.
And we all talk the Wibberly-Wobberly talk.
And all we all wear Wibberly-Wobberly ties.
And we look at all the pretty girls with Wibberly-Wobberly eyes.”
(The situation that this quote comes from is WAY creepier than it sounds. WAY creepier. Imagine someone watching you for months, then they come into your house while you’re being attacked and start singing this.)

“No flesh shall be spared.”
-Mark 13, The Holy Bible

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: I assume Dan loved this movie because I think it was him that introduced me to it. Samantha J also loves it. And Dave O and Dirk must too, because when I tweeted about it, they posted quotes from the movie. :) Apparently more people were into this than I remember! (more…)

Pointlessness warning! I found an old file stating in way too much detail what my computer configuration was in 1998. Figured I’d post it here as a backup/old-school-computing memory, so that I could delete the file without a feeling of loss.  I’m gonna add some comments in red (11 yrs later!) to make fun of the past. (more…)

Sometimes I hate the domino effect of computer problems.

Our downstairs machine (“Hell”, Gateway XpHome 2004 computer) had been rebooting INSANELY lately. After weeks of this bullshit, I was just planning to downgrade it from XP to Windows 2000 Advanced Server, in hopes that that would stabilize it. Finally we got an error message stating that the CPU had overheated, and that was why it shut down. The previous weeks, it was probably just getting hot enough to crash windows. Today, it finally got hot enough that the Gateway BIOS shut it down without even consulting windows. This was good — I finally knew the problem.

Opened up Hell and cleaned it out. Indeed, a dust/cathair combo had completely clogged up the CPU cooling part. We finished our last 2 cans of almost-empty compressed air (can someone steal me a can from work or something?!?!), and that was that.

But I had to go and make things worse — I decided that since Carolyn’s CD drive on her computer stopped being able to rip CDs this week, that we should take the DVDRom from Hell and put it into Carolyn’s computer (“Magic”). Then she wont have to rip CDs downstairs, AND the missing drive would allow Hell to stay cooler.

Well, Carolyn puts it in, but her machine is the machine that absorbed all the harddrives from TWO dead file-servers. She has *eight* harddrives and 2 optical drives in this machine. *THREE* external SATA controllers, because her motherboard came out just before SATA harddrive support started being included on all motherboards.

Well damn. One of the drives was not recognizing; and all the standard tricks were NOT bringing it back up. Of *course* it’s the drive holding the 18,000 mp3s that need to be tagged. Fortunately, I *JUST* started backing those up 3 weeks ago, and we had a backup from 5 days ago. But I don’t want to lose 5 days work! Or the drive.

Finally, I move it to my computer. So ALL THREE computers had to have their cases open! At least I got my L: back! All the files are there! Nothing is lost! Yay!

I imagine most people as:
1) Not having backups.
2) Not having spare computers, or cases large enough, to simply move a drive to another computer.
3) Losing their files and just going out and buying another computer. (more…)

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