January 2005


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Archive for January, 2005

Getting better

Posted in Life on January 30th, 2005

Well, I got some work done on the car today, and we have progress. My girlfriend’s sister’s fiance is a mechanic, and he did me the favor of running the Beastie through his scanners to find out that there is a problem in the timing and I had a bad fuel injector.

No, boys and girls, those are not the ignition coils like I had expected. This is good, because those things are a bitch to replace.

Anywho, he replaced the injector for me and reset all the trouble codes in the car’s memory. I’ll drive it for a few days and see where that gets me – there’s still a chance something has gone wrong with one or two of the sensors, and I need to build some more symptomatic data before a diagnosis can be accurate.

The good news is that the car starts every time I turn the key again, but on the way home there was some sputtering and missing whenever I accelerated from a low RPM range. Hopefully this will smooth out as the car gains usage data and reprograms itself for the replaced injector.

Modern diagnostic bonuses aside, I still miss the days of simple engines.

How do I get a hunting license in Redmond?

Posted in Geekery on January 28th, 2005

Things have been nuts at the shop, what with preparation for opening the new location and our rather booming business. I finally got to set some time aside over yesterday and today to build the three new machines for the new shop. (A gig of RAM per box…drool…)

Wouldn’t you know it, but the very first chassis I finished ends up with a bum power supply. (Who the fuck names their company iCute, anyway?) Grr. So, I swap in a replacement (we’ll RMA later) and go off in search of the Windows XP license keys the Boss told me about…

…And they cannot be found. I spent an hour sifting through a half-ton of useless MicroShaft paperwork to no avail. It seems quite likely the employee they fired for pilfering a couple months back nabbed them along with the other stuff he got. All he left were the server licenses.

So, the Boss spends an hour on the phone this morning with Redmond getting replacement keys, and I finally get the time again this afternoon to install XP…

Read the rest of this entry »

Content? We don’t need no steeenking content!

Posted in Life on January 24th, 2005

Wow – basically a week since I’ve posted anything. I guess I’ve been busier than I thought.

Most of this has been due to work – amazing how having a full-time job cuts into my internet time. Hell, I’ve barely had time for lunch, most days. The rest of my free time is being divided up between kids and my lady. Things are going well on both fronts.

The Ratboy surprised me the other night with his first plans for moving out of the house; he hopes to implement them by this summer, when he will only be 17. I laid some conditions down that he must accomplish before I will give this serious consideration. Worst case scenario, he gets his grades straight. I love it when he hands me the means by which to chain him to his studies :)

The Pookster’s next school has pretty much been chosen as well. The EMC is a pitbull when it comes to planning our daughter’s future, so my part of this decision was largely to say “sounds good to me,” which it did. Having gone to magnet (magnate?) type schools herself, the EMC knows all the ins-n-outs of getting the best choices, so she is emminently qualified for the task.

The Little Black Beastie has once again validated my wish to return to a good, old-fashioned musclecar. She is in need of replacement ignition coils, which are far easier to purchase than they are to install. I don’t know how things are now, but in the late `80’s, Chevy didn’t know how to put a medium-sixed engine into a small space and still make it accessible for repair. The Book says it’s a 1.5 hour job, but I beat my head against the wall for two hours before calling it quits. There’s just too much junk in the way, and it really needs to be on a lift instead of jack stands. So, until I can scrape up some extra dough, I’ll just need to be cautious in how I drive it.

Unless, of course, anyone knows a mechanic with computer problems – I’d be happy to trade labor rates :)

The Usual Suspects

Posted in Proof! on January 18th, 2005

This will be a recurring topic, so watch for it to be updated in the future. Here I will describe some of my fellow inmates at the assylum for your bemusement.

Note that aliases have been granted to protect the guilty.

At some point in our lives, usually not long after we leave home, we all end up in some sort of multiple-roomate situation. Here’s how The Townhouse went down.

Follow the bouncing toad… Read the rest of this entry »

Fandom gone awry?

Posted in Geekery on January 16th, 2005

Who Put the Donk in the JL421 Badonkadonk?

Yet more proof that Burning Man has gone completely corporate – these things are for sale. When you build it for a personal toy, that’s one thing, but these folks have crossed the line by selling them to unsuspecting hipsters who think they’re cool by trekking out to the desert to get drunk, naked and sunburned.

(Removing tongue from cheek now)

Church and State

Posted in Life on January 15th, 2005

Ok, there has been more debate over at Frizzen Sparks regarding the separation of the two, and that whole stupid sticker business. He got pissed for the opposite reason than I did, that the schools were teaching evolution as fact in the first place, and not theory. I agree that it should be taught as a theory, just less vehemently than he :)

Anywho, down in the comments for that post, a gent goes on a bit about how nearly all modern laws can find their roots in the Ten Commandments handed down to Moses by God. This is completely true.

However… Read the rest of this entry »

Score one for the courts

Posted in Life on January 13th, 2005

MSNBC reports on how a Federal judge has ruled those stupid stickers in Georgian biology textbooks stating that “evolution is just a theory” be removed.

ATLANTA – A federal judge Thursday ordered a suburban Atlanta school system to remove stickers from its high school biology textbooks that call evolution “a theory, not a fact,” saying the disclaimers are an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

“By denigrating evolution, the school board appears to be endorsing the well-known prevailing alternative theory, creationism or variations thereof, even though the sticker does not specifically reference any alternative theories,” U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper said.

C’mon, folks. The Constitution grants us freedom of religion, which also grants us freedom from religion. Public schools should be science-based in their curriculum – this is the only way to ensure a fair education to everyone, regardless of their religion (or lack thereof). If you want your children to be educated in a religious manner, put them into a religious school.

Smart guns are coming, can I get smart users?

Posted in Life on January 12th, 2005

This story reports that a New Jersey think tank has built the prototype of a smart gun, a weapon that uses biometric identifiers to decide whether or not you can use the weapon.

Since 1999, NJIT has spearheaded efforts to develop a personalized handgun that can instantly and reliably recognize one or more pre-programmed authorized users. To date, the New Jersey legislature has awarded NJIT $1.5 million for the project.

Corzine called the NJIT’s dynamic-grip technology cutting edge and said that it represented a really positive step forward in public safety. “NJIT is involved in important life-saving research,” he added. “There is no question that manufacturing handguns with advanced technology to limit operation can save lives. No child could pick up a gun and pull the trigger. The gun just won’t work, and that’s how it should be.”

This is gun-control I can stand behind 100%, since it effectively makes it impossible for someone to take your weapon and shoot you with it. Mind you, this does not eliminate the most effective means of gun safety, it merely supplements a solid education in gun use. While it’s nice that unrecognized users like your kids cannot use the gun, it is still best to educate them about gun safety and keep the weapon properly stored when not in use.

This will also put a small kink in the works for gun thieves, since they would have to take an additional step of disabling the biometric sensors before being able to use or sell the gun. If designed properly, the manufacturer could make this a time-consuming and expensive operation.

Frizzen Sparks has no sympathy, and neither do I

Posted in Geekery on January 12th, 2005

Graumagus posted about yet another new IE security hole, and some of his readers had the following to say:

yea, but I like IE. And I’m not so found of Mozilla. And since I keep my redundant firewalls, and virus support I really haven’t had any real problem. I know a bunch of puter geeks keep saying they like Mozilla, thus I should blindly like it as well.

Well Dammit, I refuse to change and you can’t make me! :)
Posted by: contagion at January 11, 2005 02:02 PM

I can agree with your not liking the Mozilla browser – it’s almost as bloated as IE. Firefox, on the other hand, is it’s faster, lighter little brother and you really should give it a try for a week before giving up on it. Of special interest may be the tabbed browsing, which allows you to open new pages in the same browser, rather than launching a complete new instance. This saves you alot of RAM overhead vs. IE. For instance, IE in two windows (MSN and Slate) takes up 28. 3 megs of RAM, down to 26.8 when I closed Slate. Firefox, with my blog entry, Grau’s blog, MSN and Slate takes up only 23.3 megs of RAM, and blocked the stupid pop-up window that Slate launched.

Okay, I admit that’s a close comparison, but I’m the kind of guy who bitches about things like that :)

My favorite feature is the ability to open all the pages in a bookmarks folder in tabs at once – mainly so I can cut-n-paste stuff from other sources here while editing my blog on an older laptop in the garage.

I’ll be the very first to admit that I have very, very little in the way of computer acumen. However, when I Googled “Mozilla” for some basic info, the first thing I see in the results is a story dated Jan. 10th “Critical flaw plagues Mozilla”. Not exactly the type of ringing endorsement I want to hear if I’m thinking about changing from what has been (so far, knock on wood), a perfectly good system. I’m always willing to hear other opinions on the subject, though.

Posted by: TDavis at January 11, 2005 05:12 PM

If you had read farther down the article, you would have seen where it said:

“All the latest Mozilla versions are immune”

The exploit is for an older version of Mozilla, and all later versions had already been fixed before the exploit even became known. When was the last time MS published a fix before it had been in circulation for two months?

“… but there also appears to be some dispute as to whether this vulnerability was ever practically exploitable in the first place.”

So they weren’t sure you could actually use this for nasty purposes, and in fact it would only affect the small percentage of people who use this kind of advanced internet lookup. Your average Joe would never have been vulnerable.

The final bit of pertinent info in your decision: at the shop where I work, we charge $70 for a data recovery and $105 to format your disc and re-install Windows, if you have the driver discs. I have done 4 of these in the past week, and all were caused by virus and spyware infections on computers where IE is the only browser. There are three more on the shelf waiting, and we have a 3-5 day backlog.

End rant.

Some days, I hate cars…

Posted in Life on January 9th, 2005

The Little Black Beastie has been not only running poorly lately, it has complained about starting at random intervals, requiring up to three attempts before it fires. The sounds it has made while running led me to believe something may be up with the ignition circuit, so I picked up a set of spark plugs for it today.

Wouldn’t you know it, but the first plug wire I removed came apart in my hand, the crimped end pulled right off. Yay.

Plug 1 came out looking used, but otherwise clean. 2 and 3 came out really dirty and/or oil-covered, and number 4 came out a bit less dirty. Obviously time to replace them eh? Me being me, I was able to repair the first plug wire, but heat damage indicators plus the repair I had to make tell me it’s time for a new set very soon. I’m thinking something in a performance product this time. I’m not looking forward to this, though, since the last time took me most of an afternoon. This model’s distributor is actually a crank sensor mounted on the bottom side of the engine at the crankshaft, which means each plug wire has to be threaded through the restraints from the top front of the engine to the bottom rear of the engine, with me on a creeper. Not my idea of fun.

I also need to look into replacing the valve cover gasket, as that’s where it looks like most of the oil found on plugs 2 & 3 came from. This is a fairly easy job, so no big deal, provided the part isn’t expensive.

After that, though, comes the transmission service the poor Beastie needs. That is definitely going to be on the expensive side of the line…