August 2006


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Archive for August, 2006

The eyes have it

Posted in Life on August 29th, 2006

Finally got around to seeing the eye doctor today about the problem in my right eye. For those that don’t remember, I woke up one morning to discover what can only be described as having a raindrop inside my eye. If you wear glasses, you know what I’m talking about – a drop gets on the inside, and everything looks wonky through it.

Only this “raindrop” doesn’t move, and is made of tinted water. So now I have this spot just slightly the the left and up from dead center.

There are several possible explanations, ranging from a slightly detached retina to a “floater”. The optometrists’ prognosis: Macular Degeneration. One of the layers of my retina (there are ten) appears to have a bump in it. possibly caused by a leak from a blood vessel. Treatment options are basically nil, but he wants me to see a specialist anyway.

The good news is that my brain has trained itself to just ignore conflicting visual data from that eye. During the exam, he dilated my pupils and shone a light in that eye, and I was still able to see past him and mostly ignore what he was doing. When he did that to the left eye, it blinded me.

Wonderfully adaptive creatures, we are.

Another one goes bad

Posted in Life on August 25th, 2006

First it was Zoe – evil demon seed. (Angel Season 4)
Then it was Mal – Preacher gone to the Dark Side. (BTVS last season)
And now? Everyone’s favorite whore is the leader of a religious invasion force.

That’s right, Morena Baccarin, formerly Inara Sera of Firefly is now playing the part of Adrea, Orisii and Leader of the Fleet of Origin on Stargate: SG1.

Since the Orisii is the daughter of one of the Good Guys, but corrupted by the Origin, I guess she gets to be both Demon Seed and Preacher gone to the Dark Side.

How is Wash supposed to top that?

{end tv geekery}

The Clock is ticking

Posted in Life on August 24th, 2006

As of 12:15 this afternoon, the two-week clock is ticking. That’s right, I have turned in my notice at my current employer – finally, another company has seen the light and offered me a new job, at a much improved pay rate. And benefits. And vacation time. And retirement package.

Okay, there is a small downside – I’ll be carpooling with Da Roomie ;) Least I can do for the guy who evangelized me to his boss is drive him to work, no?

Anywho, Bossman took the whole thing a lot better than I thought he would – of course, I asked him out to lunch at around ten, so he had a couple of hours to figure it out for himself and kinda knew it was coming. Or maybe he was just stunned that I gave notice instead of just walking out the way everyone else has. Whatever the reason, he behaved himself.

So here’s looking forward to things looking up!

The perils of the TLA

Posted in Life on August 23rd, 2006

TLAs can sometimes be dangerous. There are, after all, a finite number of them, so there is bound to be some overlap, as evidenced by this blurb title from Slashdot:

“IBM to buy ISS for $1.3 Billion”

I read that and thought to myself “just what the hell does IBM want with a space station? Are they hatching a plan to become our Evil Overlords?”

Oh. Wait. Wrong TLA.

Wow – long time no postee

Posted in Life on August 20th, 2006

Sorry about the hiatus folks, it’s been busy. I’ll break things down for you.

At home:
Everybody is doing pretty good. N:tNG left Thursday to catch up with B, so they are both now out of Oregon. We’re taking care of the last few things for them, and taking some of their unwanted furniture off their hands as well.

I will be handling the sale of the Toyota that B left behind. At this point, it looks like the Ratboy is wanting to buy it. Of course, that means the boy wants to get his driver’s license right now and it’s hard to slow him down and take one step at a time. The $200-a-month insurance quote he got may help.

For me, having B’s car available suddenly came in handy. I managed to hit a curb at just the right angle in the Beastie to blow the right-front tire, and the spare developed a leak by the end of the day. Of course, this all happened 4 days shy of payday, so I wasn’t able to replace the tire right away. Grrr.

At work:
I have lost a few hours of work due to lack of incoming appointments – not enough work in the shop to justify payroll, so we get sent home. What do I do on those days? Submit resumes. Things have been going pretty well – there are three actual jobs out there that I am qualified for. I have had three interviews split among two of the companies, and have two more interviews scheduled for next Tuesday. (2nd interview with company 1, first interview with company 3). Pretty cool!

Company 1: Smaller, but experiencing rapid growth. Position is mostly in-shop, and I can probably write my own ticket as the Lead for their Managed Services. Shop is in Hillsboro, and will be moving even farther West soon. (Yuck!)

Company 2: Older and larger than Co #1, the position is mostly on-site. Not really sure where they are going with things – they are being a little cagey until they unleash their new marketing campaign. Office is located at 217 / I-5 junction and not going anywhere.

Company 3: Young, but growing good, and I have an insider in my corner. Mostly on-site as far as I know. Again, located in Hillsboro, but probably not moving for a while yet. Biggest downside to this company is their once-a-month payroll cycle will mean some serious changes to my budget system.

All-in-all, things are looking up. Here’s hoping!

Thank DOC! Phase I complete for Chinese AIDS vaccine

Posted in Life on August 20th, 2006

Check the full story here.

The first phase of clinical trials indicates China’s first AIDS vaccine is safe and possibly effective, government officials announced at the press conference after a two-month-odd assessment.

“Forty-nine healthy people who received the injection showed no severe adverse reactions after 180 days, proving the vaccine was safe,” said Zhang Wei, head of the pharmaceutical registration department of the SFDA.

“The recipients appeared immune to the HIV-1 virus 15 days after the injection, indicating the vaccine worked well in stimulating the body’s immunity,” he told the press conference.

The results mark the end of the first phase of the clinical trials of the AIDS vaccine, which focused on the vaccine’s safety.

Now that is science worth funding.

Ye Gods, but this must end soon

Posted in Life, Work on August 11th, 2006

Those of you who check timestamps will note that this entry was posted during working hours. I am, yet again, home from work early because there was no work.

This month is looking particularly bad for us. In part, I think the problem stems from Back-to-School shopping – people are already in the stores, and I think they are more willing to simply replace a problem PC than fix a problem unit that is probably a couple years old. (Last year wasn’t a good year for sales, so there are aging PC’s out there.)

This may translate into a handful of on-site configuration calls, but it will mostly be bad for biz. This leaves me facing a potential loss of income as my boss cuts hours due to revenue loss.

Fucking yay.

The rest of the problem is directly related to my boss’ inability to either implement a sales plan of his own or find someone to do it for us. Our Managed Services package is a solid product, but that doesn’t help much if no one can sell the damn thing.

At least the day wasn’t a total waste, as I did find a handful of jobs to apply for.

SuSE-y goodness

Posted in Life on August 7th, 2006

There is a little-known benefit to reading UK-based geek magazines while in the USA – since they get here about a month late, anything they report as cutting-edge has been hammered out by helpful folks and posted on their blogs for me to search out.

Case in point: I recently picked up the latest-I-can-get issue of Linux Format, and rebuilt my Linux box (which has been dead for a while now) with the included SuSE 10.1 DVD.

Being SuSE, the install went very smoothly. I chose a 32-bit install this time, since there are a couple of apps I like that have yet to build AMD64 versions. (Yeah, Macromedia, I’m talking about YOU!) While I would like to have that extra little bit of efficiency, it isn’t really critical with my current build.

The bonus part I mentioned before is that there were already a couple of step-by-step HOWTOs for installing the mutlimedia functions SuSE always leaves out due to copyright nastiness. It took me about 20 minutes to get MP3, DVD and other video formats working. Nice. Another 15 minutes to install the nVidia drivers, and then I dug into the serious geekery: Xgl and Compiz. (Go here for cool videos. I have no effing clue why they are in a MS format when MS can’t use this. The webmaster needs smackage.)

Linux has had the concept of ‘multiple desktops’ for some time now. Sure, windows are nice, but if you’re like me, when I’m working on a big project I often have at least 4 windows open at once, and I can get lost trying to find certain windows. Multiple desktops allows me to have a number of things open still, but now they are scattered over 4 or 5 desktops so I don’t have to keep minimizing / maximizing things. Xgl and compiz allow you to go one better, by turning those extra desktops into the face of a cube, and then when you shift desktops you get this really cool effect of a rotating cube.

On top of that is a sheer geeky “wow-factor” effect: windows stretch out of shape when you move them, and get all wobbly. (The effect is in fact called “wobbly windows”). New windows launched will kind of spring out of the background, and menu pop-ups bounce around a little too. This serves no purpose other than eye-candy, but it is damn cool!

So, why would you put all this together? Imagine the following conversation:

MSFAN: Man, Vista is going to be so cool. MS has really got the security down tight for this one.
TUXGEEK: Huh. ‘Bout time. Linux has been a lot more secure for some time now. All Windows had to do was use a REAL admin / user seperation.
MSFAN: Well, the new sidebar and widgets will keep your most-used information right there on the desktop!
TUXGEEK: Check it – SuperKaramba widgets and Beagle search, right there. The SuperK widgets can monitor my system health like fan speeds and temps – Windows widgets can’t do that. Beagle indexes everything from notepad notes to emails, like that new xml-based filesystem will…oh wait, they nixed that last month, didn’t they?
MSFAN: Well, Vista is going to look better! Aero glass roxxors!
TUXGEEK: Dude, check this shit out *wiggle wiggle streeeetch flippity-flippity*
MSFAN: Dude, you suck.
TUXGEEK: Did I mention how this all takes a lot less resources than Vista will? Like 512MB of RAM, where Vista will barely boot on that?
MSFAN: Just STFU already.

Intel kills an industry and a standard

Posted in Life on August 2nd, 2006

Okay, maybe not completely kills, but definitely puts a kink in the works for water cooling.

I was reading the latest issue of MaximumPC magazine yesterday, and they have the new Dream Machine out. Under the hood: Intel’s latest Extreme Edition proc, a Conroe Core 2. The thing kicks some serious ass, and now holds 5 of 6 possible benchmark records – the one it didn’t get is held by an outrageously overclocked quad-video-card monstrosity.

Most interesting though, is what they did to test the new thermal dissipation ratings. In an effort to see just how well the fact meets the hype about the power usage, they tried to overheat the processor. They went so far as to unplug the CPU fan and transcode a full DVD!

The proc temp went up about 3 degrees C.

That’s it.

As for the standard, they pretty much pounded the nails into the coffin for the BTX formfactor. Conceived during the Mad MegaHertz Race when both AMD and Intel procs could heat your entire home, the BTX standard re-arranges the case and plants a massive cooler on the proc, and moves all other heat-generating components as far away as possible.

About the time it launched, however, AMD released a new slew of Cool ‘n Quiet chips that worked just fine with air cooling in the ATX formfactor. Manufacturers of AMD-spec motherboards saw no need to switch, so they stuck with ATX. This left the Intel-only houses dealing with a huge thermal payload, so they grudgingly re-tooled to the new formfactor.

Now, just when Dell, Gateway and others are rolling out BTX, Intel goes and builds a thermally efficient chip. The Intel reps are still touting BTX as the wave of the future, but I’m guessing there will be some pretty pissed-off folks in the case houses.

Scenes From Real Life pt VI

Posted in Proof! on August 2nd, 2006

Don’t know why this memory resurfaced today, but it’s a fun story.

Way back when I was living in ‘Vegas, former roomies and still good friends of ours the Barbarian and the Fraggle decided to get hitched. In grand ‘Vegas tradition, we pistol-whipped the groom-to-be, threw him in the trunk of the car and dragged him kicking and screaming to one of the better strip clubs as soon as the Fraggle wasn’t looking, lest she bollux the whole plan.

Okay, that’s bullshit – the man was in the front seat trying to get the car to drive faster, and Fraggle was more like “here honey, make sure you take some fives with those singles. Don’t be stingy! You sure I can’t come with?”

Anyway, among the celebrants of the evening were myself, B:tNG, Jason, Jordie and a few others who have slipped my mind. We’re at the club having a good time and B decides it’s his turn to buy the groom a lap dance. Barbarian picks out a likely candidate, and there is some discussion as to her suitability among the rest of us lads. It makes perfect sense now, but a couple of us thought she was a bit on the trashy side and were suggesting another lass instead. The Barbarian had made his choice, however, so she was waved over to the table.

In a flash of insight, B pops up with “you’ll have to excuse me, but I’m buying the lad here his dance, and I need to know the quality. The lads here can’t decide on a candidate, and I want to make sure he’s getting the best.” The insight comes from the fact that B was still blind at the time, and wearing his darkest shades and prominently holding his cane. So what does the dancer do? She says “Here – check for yourself!” grabs both his hands and plants them on her tits.

B, without missing a beat, gives ’em a quick squeeze and says “Nice parity!”

We all bust up laughing, and the Barbarian gets his dance. The whole time, though, Jason and Jordie were wondering how quickly they could lay hands on shades and a cane.