So, in an amusing twist of fate, after going to Best Buy (yes, again… piss off!) and buying myself another video card for a whopping $129, I discovered (during a household search for other components, but I’ll get into that later) that I did, in fact, have a spare video card that will suffice… an old PCI Mach64, which will certainly do the job for the short term (and will eventually find itself in my server, in a swap for the GeForce card it currently possesses). Thus, now I find myself needing to go back to Best Buy (yes, for a third time) to return the card I just purchased.
Oh well, on the bright side, I’m saving myself $129, and I found that old card I was sure I had!
Bah, so I plugged in the Mach64 card, and the board wouldn’t power up. Odd, I thought. I pulled the card, and when I hit the power switch, at least the fan started spinning. So I plugged in the GeForce and… spinny fan, but no POST (Power On Self Test, for those not in the know… the part of the boot sequence where the RAM is counted, etc). Not even a beep from the speaker. And the HD led stays on, which doesn’t seem like a good thing.
So, I think I’m gonna abort this whole process. I’ll try taking the board back to BEST, and the card back to Best Buy (I’ll keep the RAM and just load up Frodo for now). Now, on to trying to compile a new kernel for Frodo, since the current kernel apparently doesn’t recognize more than 896 megs of RAM (as oppose to the 1.5 gigs that’s in there). I hate computers.
Further Updated Update:
Got the new memory in and the new kernel compiled. After futzing with my video drivers, I even have X working again! Now comes the wait to see if anything broke… good thing I kept the old kernel around.
So some of you may remember that a while back, I had a combination hard drive and power supply failure, simultaneously. The hard drive failure was pretty easy to detect, thanks to that lovely, disturbing clicking noise that haunts the dreams of anyone who’s experienced such a failure. Fortunately, the danger here was mitigated by the fact that, for some time now, I’ve chosen to run a pair of drives in a mirrored configuration (aka, RAID-1). Thus, while it appears to the user that I have a single drive, in reality, the data is always written to both drives.
The power supply, on the other hand, was an entirely different matter. When I noticed the failed drive, I removed it from the mirror and attempted to reboot my computer. But the other drive wouldn’t spin up! Or, it would spin up, but the computer wouldn’t detect it! Scared, I moved the drive to a spare machine I had, but sure enough, that machine wouldn’t detect the drive either! As a last resort, I took the drive to work the next day, and, to my great relief, the drive was perfectly readable, with all data intact. It was at this point that Lenore reminded me that my spare machine wasn’t in use because the hard drive controller was hosed. I then made the assumption that the same was true for my main computer.
Thus, I resolved to purchase myself another motherboard. So I took a trip over to BEST Computers and picked up a new board and a pair of new drives to replace my old mirror. But, when I got home that evening, I had a little epiphany, and decided to use my spare computer’s power supply in my main machine, just to test it out. And voila! It worked perfectly! Let this be a lesson: power supply failures can create weird, mysterious problems.
Anyway, what does this have to do with building computers? Well, suddenly, I had myself a spare motherboard and nothing to do with it. The natural thing, I thought, was to build a new machine (as opposed to just returning it…). So, eventually, I picked up a new power supply ($80), and this combined with the surviving hard drive from my last mirror, and the video card and RAM from my spare machine equalled a new box. Or so I thought.
So I began assembly. All seemed to go well. I got the motherboard mounted, and proceeded to grab the RAM… which, I discovered was 133-pin SDRAM, too old for my new board which required 184-pin DDR-RAM. sigh So I took a last minute trip to Best Buy (yeah yeah, piss off) and picked up a gig of new memory ($140 - $26 rebate).
Alright, so, RAM now installed. Case back panel, mounted. Front panel connectors, connected. Hard drive and CD-ROM, installed. So far so good. Lastly, video card.
Now, you probably already know this, but the job of the tech industry is to make simple things hard and hard things impossible. In the case of video cards, they decided to invent the AGP slot, into which a video card is to be installed. Which would be simple. To make it hard, they decided to have different voltages for AGP. 3.3v, 1.5v, and if that wasn’t enough, 0.8v too! So, if you have a card in one voltage, and board which only takes another, you’re hosed.
I bet you can guess what happened. I, apparently, have a 3.3v AGP card. Conveniently, my motherboard only takes a 1.5v AGP card. grumble. So now I’m stuck buying a new video card ($80).
So, total for this adventure:
Motherboard $150 Power supply $80 RAM $140 Video card $80 Rebate -$26 Total: $424
And the sick thing is, for about $80 more, I could get a whole new computer with a bigger hard drive and a nice sized LCD flat panel monitor to replace the 15” piece of CRT crap that I have now. And that is why I hate building computers.
So my sis, wife and I went to Thank You For Smoking last night. Definitely a movie worth seeing. The movie follows the trials and tribulations of a tobacco lobbiest, and is entertaining, scathing, and more than a bit surprising.
Now, when I originally heard about this movie, I made the (natural, I think) assumption that it was going to be a scathing commentary on the tobacco industry. And it was definitely that. But it exceeded my expectations in that it also poked fun at the government, embodied by a rabid anti-tobacco senator from Wisconsin played by the always excellent William H. Macy, and the media, represented by an ambitious reporter portrayed by none other than Katie Holmes.
And the ultimate message of the movie surprised me even more. Rather than focusing on the evils of smoking, or the tobacco industry, it took the higher ground, focusing on the issue of personal choice. Through the actions of the ridiculous senator, and the words of Nick Naylor, our “morally flexible” anti-hero portrayed by a surprising Aaron Eckhart (yes, of The Core fame), the movie really speaks out against an apathetic public who is unwilling, or perhaps no longer capable of thinking for themselves. It implores people to inform themselves and to make their own decisions, and to guide their own children to do the same, rather than relying on the government or the media to do it for them. A message I think is long overdue.
But what surprised me the most is, in the end, I found myself rooting for Nick Naylor. For some reason, I just can’t help cheering for the underdog, even if he is representing the tobacco industry…
And on a totally unrelated note, I finally updated my list of Knitting Projects. I think it’s relatively complete, now…
So, I’ve been an owner of a Nintendo DS since shortly after the device launched. I picked it up originally because I planned to hack code for it… the idea of a cheap device with a touch screen and wireless really sparked my imagination. But, thanks in part to the original launch game, Super Mario 64 DS, which was just so much damned fun, I’ve found myself actually playing games on the thing.
So, why would I advise you not to buy a DS? Simple! Because, if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to resist the desire buy new games. Since I picked up my DS, I’ve bought:
- Super Mario 64 DS
- Warioware: Touched
- Advanced Wars DS
- Mariokart DS
And now, Tetris DS. And I don’t play my DS that much! Incidentally, of that list, Touched is probably the main one I regret, followed by Meteos. Touched just doesn’t have much depth (I finished it pretty fast, and there’s little replay value) and Meteos, while fun, hasn’t captured my imagination. It’s also a bit confusing. :)
Anyway on to Tetris DS. I gotta say, if you’re a casual gamer, and in particular, a casual gamer who grew up during the 8-bit console era, this game is, IMHO, a must-have. As a Tetris rendition, it’s pretty damned good, and reasonably faithful to the gameplay we all remember. About the only thing that bothers me is the inheritance of the infinite spin “feature” from Tetris Worlds, where you can continually spin a piece and move it around, even though it’s landed on the tableau.
In addition to the standard modes, the game also provides a variety of puzzle modes, versus modes, and a rather odd Catch mode. Of the new modes, I gotta say Push mode is the coolest. It’s basically a Tetris tug-of-war, and brings about some interesting new game mechanics. This mode can be played against the CPU, where the difficulty can be tuned from fairly easy to frustratingly difficult, or against people head-to-head or over the Internet.
Speaking of which, the head-to-head modes are very well executed. In a local Wi-Fi enabled game, you can have up to 10 players playing using a single cart, with various options available to adjust gameplay. Of course, you can also play online against people on Nintendo’s network. Unfortunately, the gameplay options are more limited, here: 2-player in Standard or Push mode, or 4 players in Standard mode. Still, online play is very well polished, as with Mario Kart DS.
But the best part for a retrogamer like myself has gotta be the soundtrack and visual themes for the game. For example, in Standard mode, you’ll recognize the music as remixes from Super Mario 1, 3, Link, and Metroid. Moreover, on the top screen, a demo of the game in question is played, and as you approach the next Tetris level, the character progresses through the game level (eg, world 1-1 of Super Mario Bros.). Quite clever! The other modes are themed differently. For example, Catch mode is based on Metroid and Push mode has a Donkey Kong theme.
Of course, if one isn’t a retrogamer, or (god forbid) you’re too old to remember the good ol’ 8-bit days, you might find this all quite annoying. But I love it!
So, in summary, I’d give this new Tetris rendition an 8. I just hope Nintendo could stop releasing such good games at reasonable prices, because, apparently, I’m unable to control myself…
So, I found myself watching the last half of Austin Powers on Fox tonight and, apparently, the following words are offensive (among others I’m sure I’ve forgotten):
Specifically, Alotta Fagina’s name was changed to… get this… Alotta Cleavage. Heck, they even tried to come up with some clever pronounciation (like “fagina”), in order to make it sound sorta like a joke. So sad.
The “scrotum” censorship (did I just say that?) occurred during the oh-so-brilliant Dr. Evil speech. Apparently, it was just fine for him to say “ritually shaved my testicles”, but saying “a shorn scrotum” is just too much (though, to be fair, they may have cut down the speech for the sake of time, which would be a shame… it’s one of the best parts of the movie…)
And lastly, strangely enough, the word “horny” was replaced with the word “randy”. As if that makes any difference whatsoever.
Meanwhile, the whole scene with Austin naked in the background while Vanessa is talking on the phone and making sure to “accidentally” cover Austin’s gear is presented in all it’s glory, including the moment when Vanessa bites into a conveniently placed sausage while Austin is stretching… I just don’t get it.
So we went to visit my Granda Kosinski on the Easter weekend… first time in, like, 5 months, much to my chagrin. Anyway, she lives down in Camrose, so we did the drive down there and visited for a couple hours and did the usual… talked talked talked. Well, during the course of discussions, we some how landed on the topic of books, and I discovered a rather interesting little factoid: apparently my great-grandma’s, and hence also my grandma’s, favourite book was/is “The Count of Monte Cristo”! Heck, my grandma owns two copies of the book, and while we were chatting about it, proceeded to describe some of the major plot points, something I can barely do with any book I’ve read. Now, this in and of itself is interesting, particularly since my great-grandma, when first introduced to the book, couldn’t actually read, and so only knew it because she heard other people reading it out loud. But the other thing that makes this all rather ironic, at least to me, is that TCMC is one of a small handful of books that I consciously chose not to finish (one of the others being “The Plague”, by Albert Camus, but I think I can hardly be blamed for that one).
Anyway, I think I can do nothing but make another attempt at the book, so back into the queue it goes. Which means I should get to it sometime… next year, maybe.
So I thought yesterday was pretty interesting, as far as cycling goes, but I think today’s adventure is even better. As part of my ride to work, I take a bike path that extends from 111th ave to 104th, sandwiched between a commercial and residential area. Well, as I was pedaling along, approaching 107th ave, I noticed a dark something on the path, which slowly resolved into what appeared to be an abandoned bike. But, as I got closer, I realized, this bike wasn’t abandoned after all: it’s accompanied by it’s owner, who is unconscious, laying face down on the pavement beside it.
Now, my first thought was, this dude got into an accident and was knocked unconscious. So I checked to make sure he was breathing (just observed his back rising and falling), and called at him to see if he would respond. Nothing. Nudged him a bit. Nothing. Nudged a bit more. Still nothing. At this point, I figured he was probably just passed out, but if he passed out on his bike, he might have suffered a head injury, thus it was probably best to call an ambulance, so I pedaled down to The Brick, which was just 50 meters away or so, and they called 911, who dispatched emergency services to come check him out. Meanwhile, they asked me to wait around until the EMS folks showed up.
The EMS guys arrived just a couple minutes later (they were remarkably fast, IMHO), and proceeded to attempt to wake the guy up. Last I saw, he was slowly coming to, though he was only half conscious at best.
So that’s cycling day 2. What will be in store for day 3? It’s anyone’s guess!
Well, I finally got myself some new wheels! Yup, I dropped some bucks and replaced my five-year old mountain bike with a brand new hybrid from Red Bike. A Rocky Mountain Whistler 30, to be precise! It’s a hybrid commuter bike, meaning it has a mountain bike frame, for good upfront maneuverability and a low balance point, with narrow street-bike-style tires. Perfect for a guy like me to who uses his bike primarily for commuting, but likes to hit a trail on the odd occasion.
Anyway, on my very first day riding to work, I was presented with a painful reminder of how potentially dangerous cycle commuting can be. Now, first off, I’m fine, the bike’s fine, and nothing was injured except my pride and my groin… which only makes sense, given they are indelibly connected.
So, the scenario: I’m at the intersection of 124th street and the Yellowhead (a major throughfare, one of the biggest east-west roads in the city), waiting for the light so I can head south. The light changes. I stand on my pedals and start powering through, shifting up as I go… this is how I usually handle intersections. Anyway, not even half way through, the chain stutters on the rear sprocket, probably because the derailleur needs to be adjusted. Result: my feet slip off my pedals and I land… on the crossbar. But it gets better! I managed to keep upright, somehow, but was left in a rather interesting position: coasting across Yellowhead trail, sitting on my crossbar, and with no way to get my feet back on my pedals, aside from stopping my bike. Well, being in the middle of a major throughfare, I felt that was unsafe, so… I coasted through the rest of the intersection. Supported only by my groin on the crossbar. This hurt. A lot.
Now, before anyone worries, the boys are just fine. As one of my co-workers pointed out, the nice thing about these sorts of situations is that, usually, one is leaned slightly to one side or the other, and so the crossbar simply went past my package and straight into my hip/pubic bone. Had things not “worked out” so nicely, I likely would have fallen off my bike immediately, probably vomiting on the way down.
So, there you have it, Day 1! Good times.
Wow. So Lenore returned from Regina yesterday morning at around 5:00 am and opted to go straight into work, and so I decided to go in early, so we could bail out from work around 2:00 pm. That evening we then proceeded to rent a few movies, two of which were 1-day’s, so we had to watch them right away.
Well, the first movie was “Dreamer”. Think Seabiscuit, but with a little girl instead. Or, put another way, a chick flick with a horse. But, hey, it wasn’t “She’s the Man”, so I can’t really complain. And it had Kris Kristofferson … and, really, how can you go wrong with Kris Kristofferson?
The second movie was “Domino”. Now, I don’t know if it was because it was late and I was tired (we started the movie at 10:00, and I’d been up for 16 hours by that point), but “Domino” must be one of the worst attempts at a stylized action movie I’ve seen in quite some time. Plot? Atrocious… so confusing, I don’t think the writers knew what was going on. The “style”? Horribly distracting. In retrospect, the reason I found the movie so confusing may have been from the epileptic seizures the visuals were triggering. Frankly, I think the only purpose of this movie was to show how awesomely badass Keira Knightley could be. The problem is, she was really not that awesome at all… in fact, she was pretty terrible.
But, in the end, I think the real question is this: why didn’t I just stop watching this movie?!? I just kept watching and watching, even though the movie went from scene to scene delving deeper and deeper into realms of suck rarely visited, let alone depicted in film. I could have made it all stop, but I didn’t. I let myself down. And for that, I apologize to me.