• My wife's birthday was yesterday. Unfortunately, she's off at violin camp with 2/3 of my children, so we could only communicate by phone. She knows what she's getting, though; I'm building her a computer to do some video editing on.

    Last night, as I tried to copy the drive data from the old, slow drives onto the new, 320GB SATA drive, one of them threw a consistent I/O error. That meant putting it back in the old computer to run chkdsk, since I'm using a Linux LiveCD for the disk copy (for the other geeks out there: eLive and dyne:bolic, both of which recognize all the new hardware and provide dd, but neither of which provide dd_rescue).

    To save time, I assembled the old computer only as far as necessary. Then came the moment of stupidity...

    Continue reading "My Wife is Psychic"

  • My co-worker, who works in the building across the street, uses AIM for communications. Since we're running Linux, I tried to get Pidgin on my box. Unfortunately, the work box is Ubuntu Dapper Drake, and it only has GAIM. (At least it's better than the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 box I had to start with.) Weirdly enough, it wouldn't connect to my Google Talk account, although my Debian Unstable box at home has no problem with Pidgin (GAIM's sucessor).

    I tried multiple solutions. I fooled around with every setting. Being the Alpha Geek, I tried downloading the Ubuntu source packages, but the support tools aren't available in Dapper. I tried comparing the configuration with my home box, thanks to SSH. I even tried logging in manually.

    What finally fixed the problem? Google Talk can use port 80. Yup, work must be filtering port 5222, and I couldn't even tell from my telnet sessions. Some alpha geek I am.

    The kicker, of course, is that I can't connect to his AIM user from my Google Talk account. I had to register an AIM user to connect to him, rendering the whole thing moot. Well, mostly moot: I can now IM with my wife, anyway.


  • What's a geek to do when his retractor fails?

    Ah, I see there are some confused readers. We geeks often require access to electronically protected facilities. This usually means a badge reader of some sort. The badges are generally supplied with a clip, suitable for attaching to your collar or shirt pocket. But then you have to bend down or unclip the badge to scan it. Retractors are small mechanical devices -- essentially a string connected to a coil spring -- that allow you to pull the badge to the scanner without bending, and retract the badge to a comfortable location when you release it.

    When mine broke, I could've just obtained a new one. But instead, I channelled my inner geek and took it apart, thus saving an artifact with priceless personal value. Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures.

    Continue reading "Alpha Geek: Retractor Failure"

  • I filled up on Wednesday. 557.9 miles on this tank, still pulsing and gliding. Worse yet, there's been a bunch of rain (which robs your momentum), two panic runs, and a dead battery.

    10.298 gallons. That's 54.2 MPG! Better than last time, although I have NO idea how that happened. I've inspired coworkers to make their own attempts at fuel efficiency. Now I really need that bumper sticker.

    Update 2007-07-09: Photographic evidence!


  • Virtually nothing got done this weekend. Starting Thursday, I had terrible... gastrointestinal problems. Yeah, let's just leave it at that. Saturday was the kids' swim meet, where I got such a sunburn that I broke out in hives. This, despite using SPF 50 sunscreen. By the end of Saturday, the digestive problems were mostly resolved (O.M.G.), but I was itchy and peeling. Sunday I still had hives on the sunburn, and I started getting little pimples. Tatiana spiked a fever and felt nauseous, which didn't help the trip to and from Daytona at all. I largely resisted the urge to scratch. Then, this morning, I woke up with eyes so puffy they were hard to open. The doctor prescribed a steroid, an antihistamine, and an antibiotic.

    And that, friends, is the definition of a rough weekend. No pictures, because, really, nobody wants to see that.