(part of brett's logjam.)
11 April 2008
I started writing about the computers under my care really for just one reason: so that I would have some record of what I’d done, so I could stop making the same mistakes over and over again.
I don’t know if I’ve accomplished that, exactly, but at least it’s been entertaining watching me try.
Since many of you are new around here, and this is an admittedly quirky personal site, let me point you towards some other computer logs that may interest you:
The following computers are currently in service.
- Eöl, my new Black MacBook running OS X 10.5.2 (Leopard).
Eöl replaced Vinyamar.
- Tsiolkovsky, my wife’s Toughbook W2, continues to crunch numbers and hang in there, despite losing the “B” key to a toddler-related accident a few weeks ago. The lower left hand side keyboard is also starting to have some problems, but there are no new issues to report with Ubuntu Dapper Drake.
Tsiolkovsky is slated for replacement in the next few weeks.
- Hithlum, my 17” PowerBook G4, is as lovely and elegant as ever, even if her PPC chip is getting a little long in the tooth. She still does great work, however, and is running Mac OS X 10.4.11 (Tiger).
- An unnamed Thinkpad T43, my work computer, runs Windows XP and is completely uninteresting to me as a computer. My company gave it to me to work with, I work with it. End of story.
- Tigana, a Sony Vaio 505-TR running Red Hat 7.2, has a busted power supply and no battery power. I will need to wipe the hard drive before I can consider her decommissioned.
Speaking of which…
These computers have left the building:
- Vinyamar, my Macbook Air, went through two revisions before being sent back to Apple.
- Al-Rassan / Ithilien, a Thinkpad 1400 running SuSE 9.x.
- Arbonne (I) / Sarantium / Atlantis / Lórien, a beige 750MHz Pentium III tower I picked up from CompUSA which ran Windows 98, Windows 2000, and more Linux distributions than I really care to remember.
- Arbonne (II) and Gorhaut, two identical Linux towers who ran Red Hat 9.
You will no doubt notice certain themes in the names.
Each computer has its own category, some with more information than others. Hopefully you’ll find something you like.
Thanks again for visiting!
7 November 2005
I finally had had enough of trying to get Linux to work on 6-year old equipment. The problems I’d been having with Arbonne were the last straw. So, last weekend I went out (with Merrystar’s encouragement) and got a Powerbook (17-inch) and couldn’t be happier with it.
Of course, my network decided to retaliate against the interloper:
- My POS replacement wireless router (D-Link DI-524, which I do not recommend) stopped talking to the cable modem. Hours wasted with hard resets and reprogramming and more hard resets finally resulted in a working internet connection.
- I rebooted Arbonne to restore her wireless connection - yes, I know that you shouldn’t have to reboot a Linux box, but this is the only thing that worked to solve whatever Netgear MA301 - DI-524 wierdness was going on - and she lost her boot loader on the reboot. Four days later, with numerous attempts at installing from the same CDs that would work on Tsiolkovsky, I dragged her upstairs and did a network install of SuSE 10.0.
- Tsiolkovsky’s upgrade? Not so good. Installer barfed in the middle and the computer was down for a frantic 24 hours as I tried to restore the bootloader so Merrystar could use the Windows partition.
- While playing around with the bluetooth on the Powerbook, I wiped my phone’s address book clean. Oops.
That was last weekend, which I am never doing again. I MEAN IT THIS TIME.
- Tsiolkovsky has been upgraded from RHEL 3.0 to SuSE 10.0 OSS. USB now works, though the wireless and automounter are still flaky. The Windows partition is now readable in Linux, which is a huge improvement.
- Arbonne has been converted into a headless server (no monitor, no desktop manager, no graphical environment) and has been renamed Lórien accordingly. Lórien is running SuSE 10.0 OSS, and her network problems continue - I couldn’t get the D-Link G card working at all, and the MA301 continues to fight with the wireless router. Also, I misbought a second 250GB drive, so I’m still running the 40GB drive for
/.and the 250GB for
/data. Oh, and I can’t access the internet from her for more than 10 seconds after boot with the wireless card. Grumble.
- Hithlum is my new Powerbook. She’s purty. I had originally named her Hísilómë, but all the accents didn’t translate well in the scripts and shells.
- My phone address updated flawlessly once I imported my contacts from Outlook to Address Book.app.
- Tigana remains as she ever has, running Windows 2000 and Red Hat 7.3. She slept through the whole debacle.
16 October 2005
Finally getting over a bad cold I got in St. Louis last weekend. A few (geek-related) updates:
- A problem with the photo site that cropped up in the last few days has been fixed; Michal updated some of the apache security modules and a misspelling in my .htaccess file was no longer passed over with equanimity. If you’re still having problems, you may need to restart your browser session.
- Most of my recent activity has been over at Trip’s site, not here, but there’s been an intermittent problem with connections to the photo galleries on Arbonne dropping without reason. I suspect that the cause is some incompatibility with the Netgear MA301 wireless PC card and the new D-Link D524 wireless router I recently got, some wonky problem that will take weeks to find. Restarting network services doesn’t restore the connection; a full reboot is required, which is ridiculous. So I went out and got a faster D-Link card that I’ll upgrade to eventually.
- Speaking of upgrading Arbonne, I got another 250GB hard drive so that I can increase the size of my RAID 1 array from 40GB to 150 or so. (I back up other computers on my Arbonne, so this will function as further backup for them.) I’ve pretty much filled up the 40GB with my CD collection and photo galleries. However, as this upgrade involes the disk with the OS on it, I’m much more worried. Should I copy everything and restore it? Copy some and upgrade to SuSE 9.3? Fresh install time? Questions, questions. I’m sure I’ll dither about this for some time and then do a fresh install.
- The move to a G network has gone smoothly, for the most part. I installed a print server — why did I wait so long to do that? — and the new G cards work well. I still have problems with Tsiolkovsky’s built-in Centrino A/B card, but that’s Intel’s fault. No news on the RHEL 3 → FC 4 conversion; now that Merrystar’s back at work, I’m reluctant to touch any machine that actually works.
And that’s all the network news.
15 November 2004
I spent a few hours Saturday morning taking stock of my network, because it’s what I do at 5:45 on a Saturday morning when I can’t sleep. Merrystar is good about not killing me when I wake up obscenely early and march downstairs to engage in my computer drama issues.
Arbonne, my PIII-700 desktop, is now running SuSE 9.1, from the 9.1 Personal CD. I downloaded apache, rsync, and emacs before figuring out how to configure YaST to install from an FTP site. Overall I’m quite pleased with SuSE, but I’ve read some things about Novell’s changes that may not bode well for a lasting relationship with this distro. The configuration was really easy compared to Fedora and Red Hat, but I’m now wary of corporate meddling after Red Hat’s Enterprise debacle.
Anyhow, Arbonne is functioning as the primary server again after a few weeks of being hosed by my yum update from Red Hat 9 to Fedora Core 2. (Mostly due to the change between XFree86 and Xorg, I think. I’m not going to go back to try to replicate.) I was rereading my installation notes for Red Hat 9, and they begin:
“Unplug the machine and move it to wherever your cable modem and router is currently located. At this time, that means take it upstairs, Brett. You cannot activate your wireless network card with the packages installed off the CD, and you will have to update your kernel as well. While you’re lugging a desktop up the stairs, reconsider. By the time you get to the monitor, I bet you’ll have thought of a better way to spend your weekend.”
Al-Rassan, my Thinkpad i1400, made a brief reappearance this weekend. Her screen is stil dead, but I plugged her in to my work Thinkpad’s power cord (no recharge, but at least she turns on) and Arbonne’s monitor and confirmed that everything still booted and that all data was off of it. (Yes, and yes.) I have been toying with the idea of making Al-Rassan the primary public computer and isolating Arbonne more; after looking at her again, this might not be a good idea.
When I ran yum to update the Fedora Core 2 installation, I ran out of disk space. I had 3.3 GB used and only 650 MB free - without any data files. I got rid of some of the bigger packages I was pretty sure I’d never use on it again (openoffice.org, for one) and was able to update everything, but I’m still running low on space (about 900 MB free.) For a server, this is a real weakness. One way around this would be to accept the screen death and uninstall X and all the user-friendly GUI programs. This would free up about 2 gigs of space, if I remember the Fedora Core installs right.
But turning Al-Rassan into a non-graphical machine means I’m only using it as a server, and that’s already handled by Arbonne - and Arbonne has about 33 GB free, even with all my data files. So I’d either need to abstain from graphic and sound files, or get a bigger hard drive. Neither option is appealing. I already have a server set up that takes up enough of my time. If I want to use Al-Rassan on an ongoing basis, I’m already going to need to replace the external power pack. Do I really need to get a new hard drive, too?
I could install another, smaller distro on Al-Rassan to free up some more space, but that avoids the real question - what’s this computer for? I now use Tigana as my main puttering laptop. I don’t need another laptop - at least not one that’s slower and bulkier and louder and has no screen. And as a server, I’ll have to invest some money - not a lot, but some - to get it working again. Like many folks, I initially thought a laptop would make a great server because of the battery backup in case of power failure. It’s true, it will save the computer from crashing. But you’re still offline, unless your modem and router are both also on battery backup. Mine aren’t, and I don’t see putting them on it anytime soon.
But as I was working on Al-Rassan, I thought, you know, this might make a good guest computer. Just put a monitor, keyboard, and mouse on it and it’s a low-profile, small desktop. For guests it wouldn’t matter that there’s not a lot of disk space, and it can still handle things like web browsing and email. I’ll keep this in mind as I get more spare parts - I’ll want to replace Arbonne’s monitor eventually.
Tigana, Merrystar’s old Vaio 505-TR, continues to run Red Hat 7.2 just fine. I’ve patched it with the latest updates from fedoralegacy.org, and wireless with WEP works on it now, which is really all I ever needed to switch over to Linux. There’s a Windows 2000 installation on it, but I only boot into it to occasionally install some critical security updates. I manually installed Mozilla 1.7, since Firefox requires GTK and I’m not willing to install a whole bunch of things on a system that already just works. I don’t mess around with it, it doesn’t mess around with me, and that’s what I tell myself everytime I think I should upgrade it to 7.3.
The T key still falls off occasionally, the space bar doesn’t always work, and one of the mouse butons is kaput. But it’s sub-3 pounds and just works, so I won’ be replacing it anytime soon. I mean, if someone wants to get me a Panasonic R3, I’m not going to turn it down. (Far, far from it.) But I’m not really ready to go blow a couple grand on yet another computer. (If I do, the next machine name to be used is probably Sarantium, although Soryyia is a close second.)
So now you’re all caught up on my sysadmin drama.
7 November 2004
I came upstairs last night, cursing like a sailor. Merrystar raised an eyebrow.
Her eyebrow didn’t move.
“There were no problems. It detected the network card immediately. All I had to do was enter the SSID and WEP key and it was online. It installed mostly everything that I wanted, and not very much that I didn’t; and getting emacs off their site wasn’t difficult at all. Damn it!”
“That’s nice, dear,” she said. I think she’s used to this by now. I stomped back downstairs to continue cursing at something that actually worked out of the box, instead of requiring hours of configuration to get it running.
This morning I came downstairs and everything was still working on Arbonne. I installed rsync so I could reload our home directories off of Tigana. I changed a few of the window behaviors because I wanted to.
Argh! Linux is supposed to be hard, not easy! Especially to configure!
23 October 2004
I’ve finally got everything mostly on Tigana the way I want it, thogh it would be nice to have USB support so I could use a mouse instead of the gimpy trackpad. Haivng GTK so I could run Firefox would be nice, too; even though I’m using KDE on Arbonne, I’ve gotten used to the really nice fonts. So perhpas I should see how Fedora 3 works and try some of the kernel boot parameters to see if it installs correctly.
Wait a minute. Whatsa meesa thinking?
2 October 2004
I was going to shout Huzzah! again, because I’ve completed upgrading Arbonne to Fedora Core 2. The standard http downloads took too long and timed out frequently, so I ended up mounting the ISO images I got off Bittorrent (thank goodness for the torrent) and copying the RPMs into a yum repository as the base. Actually, that was pretty sweet. If nothing else, I’ve learned a lot about
yum and package management this week. Last week it was networking - always something to learn when you’re running Linux.
So, I finally updated all the packages and was pretty sure that I was ready to try rebooting and launching into Fedora Core 2 and the 2.6.x kernel, especially since my screen went blank when I logged out this morning. I sshed into Arbonne from Tigana, did a quick
shutdown -r now, and watched the screen come alive with the standard scrawling text.
Then when I got to the point where the X server starts up, I got a blank screen. Argh! C’mon, Charlie Brown, kick the football!
So there are some hopeful bug reports out there that may have some clues as how to fix this, and when I reboot into the 2.4 kernel it works fine. Also, I’ve had Fedora Core 2 working on Arbonne before, so it’s not a hardware issue. I’ve got everything kinda configured so that I can use Arbonne (webserver’s down, though, not sure why yet) but I have to ask myself, is it really worth it? I asked myself that earlier this week, but I dodged the question at the time. Now I’m writing this on a computer running Red Hat 7.2 that just works. End of story. (Okay, the T key is flaky, and I’d like to get the second mouse buton working again, but those are hardware issues.)
So then, once I finally get X running and log in, everything’s just slightly - off. The icons are all smaller. The font looks different, even though it probably isn’t. I am dismayed at all the little things I’ll need to change. And that doesn’t count all the big things! But oh look, the user icons are all cute! (Copy those to my home directory… ) Don’t I have other things to do?
Am I bored wth computers that aren’t broken? Do I somehow actually enjoy this?
What a horrifying thought.
29 September 2004
All of the twisting and turning and pulling and cursing to get the wireless interface running on Arbonne finally paid off - not on Arbonne, who has been up for a week or two, but on Tigana, Merrystar’s old Sony Vaio 505-TR that is still running Red Hat 7.2. (Newer distros don’t recongize the old Sony PCMCIA CD-ROM drive.) A few changes to the
/etc/rc.d/rc.local file and the netgear card finds the WEP key on bootup.
Of course, my yum addiction continues, thanks to this handy page at the Fedora Legacy Product. Why switch off 7.2 now? USB support? Poppycock.
28 September 2004
I think I’ve lost whatever computer sense I had. The path to the dark side is so easy!
I know I said I’d wait until November to upgrade Arbonne to Fedora Core 3. I know that there’s no absolute pressing need to upgrade. I know Fedora Core 2 let me down, and the constant upgrade path bit me in the ass before. (Actually, now that I think about it, most all the entries in this category are from disasters along the upgrade path. Damn hamster wheel!) I know all of this.
But all of that pales before the simplicity of editing /etc/yum.conf to point to the Fedora repositories, running
yum -y upgrade a few times to find all the dependencies,
rpm -e to all the dependencies, and then
yum -y upgrade one last time. Wait a few hours, or maybe a day or two to download everything, and realize that a watched upgrade doesn’t finish. The excitement! What new things will I get? Will it work? Will I need to rebuild my system? Will I leave a smoking hole in my office? I don’t know, but it’s fantastic!
Whatsa meesa doing?
25 September 2004
There’s been all sorts of computer drama around the ol’ homestead these past few weeks.
It all started the day before I left for Ryan and Sarah’s wedding. I hadn’t learned my lesson yet:
Even now, I don’t know what actually happened. The GRUB bootloader on Arbonne — then called Yorktown, and temporarily named Al-Rassan in a fit of nostalgia — couldn’t find the recently-upgraded kernel and, therefore, couldn’t boot. My efforts to get around this little problem all failed - even the boot disk I’d created could only get me to a terminal prompt to make sure the home directory was still intact. I left for vacation with a busted server, which was a worry I could have done without.
I came back and the vacation had done me good, though it had not gotten Arbonne (as I now thought of it again, having recognized my mistake of having named it after one machine that had already died) back up in service. I figured out how to get the DVD-ROM working again - did you know there’s a little bridge in the back that sets it as a master or slave? I do now. The CD-ROM is still kaput, but now that I had something that could read a CD I could at least try to reinstall GRUB, or some other bootloader.
Long story short: Fedora Core 2 disks still don’t work, but Red Hat 9 disks do, therefore, Red Hat 9 won. Despite my grumbling about it, I would have rather had Fedora Core because everything was already configured for it. And updates are easier, when they don’t shut down your whole system.
Now that things are running right again, I should remember the lesson I learned: not broken, don’t fix. It took three weeks to get back to where I was before things went wonky, and I don’t know if it was because of something actually going wrong or my tinkering. I’m inclined to think it was the latter, as I have no proof otherwise.
But somehow, despite all of this, I think I’ll still upgrade to Fedora Core 3 when it’s released in November. Some people never learn.
27 July 2004
Brief internet outage at my house, now resolved. For some reason, my cable modem and wireless router decided they were going to go on strike. After waving a dead chicken over them and powercycling them in a sequence full of numerological significance, they are back online. I honestly have no idea why they just stopped working on Sunday night. Voodoo, maybe.
I do know why I can SSH into arbonne from work, but can’t see the web server - even though I can see it on the network. Cox Cable blocks port 80, the bastards. I’ll have to reconfigure to port 8080 or somesuch nonsense to get it working.
23 July 2004
I can finally check off “set up webserver” from my network to-do list. Thanks to dyndns.org, I’m now able to not only SSH into Arbonne from work, I have Apache running and serving pages to the outside world. Finally! High resolution graphics that won’t eat up my relatively small web storage space!
Ah, the power.
(Now I just need to finish changing Arbonne from Fedora to Slackware…)
24 May 2004
Shoot. Power problems reared their ugly head with Al-Rassan yesterday.
Things were going so swimmingly, too - things were really starting to come together on that machine. Then I dropped it and caused the AC adapter to stop working. Everything else was fine, but the battery stopped charging and I couldn’t get it to come back on. I cracked open the case to make sure there wasn’t anything loose, but didn’t find any problems. So finally I sealed her up and figured I’d wait to see what I could do.
This morning, on a whim, I took the power pack from my work Thinkpad and tried it. Voila! Worked fine - thankfully. So now I’ve just got to find a replacement on eBay to get Al-Rassan back up and running.
In the meantime, I tried once again to upgrade Tigana to a more recent distro than Redhat 7.2: this time, Fedora 2. No such luck. Still can’t get the CD-ROM to be recognized (even though I boot off of it.) What the heck is up with that? My next trick will be to try to install 7.3 on it and see if that gives me network/USB support.
In the meanwhile, I’m getting reacquainted with Arbonne. She’s still a good machine, after all these years.
22 May 2004
Added Yum and Fedora Legacy support to Arbonne.
20 April 2004
Just got a Netgear MA311 working on Arbonne — huzzah! Got it on ebay for $20 — huzzah!
Next up: installing SELinux on Al-Rassan.
Fedora Core 2 test2 is the first release of Fedora Core to feature full support for SELinux. The Fedora Core team has worked hard to provide a useful implementation of SELinux. To accomplish this, we have written a tunable policy, and have set up the tunables by default into a relaxed policy. SELinux has two modes it can run under, enforcing or permissive.
15 February 2004
Ah, more network drama. So after writing the above post last night, I thought I’d update some of the most egregious patches from last year on Tigana (Lower Corte), once again demonstrating that I’m an idiot. I thought, in some sleep-deprived haze, that if I just avoided the patches from February I’d be okay.
I was wrong.
So, I left fixing Tigana (Lower Corte) for this morning, which I did with some dispatch. I turned off automatic updates, ran disk defragmenter a half-dozen times, and then turned her off.
Arbonne, on the other hand, never finished finding hardware and had remained frozen where she was all night long. I powered her down and decided to try a complete reinstall of Fedora Core. That didn’t work - still hung on the hardware search. I then tried a minimal installation with the same result. So I chucked Fedora and reinstalled Red Hat 9 on Arbonne.
At some point this becomes rewarding, right?
14 February 2004
Wow, what a waste of a day I could have spent sleeping.
So it turns out that Lower Corte’s problems weren’t due to some worm, but rather a conflict between Norton Personal Firewall and one of the recent Microsoft updates. I only have a hunch that it’s Norton Personal Firewall — I have no proof to support it, nor do I care enough to actually acquire such evidence.
Last night I went ahead and took a look at it again while Merrystar was cleaning up; it took about 30 minutes to boot into Windows from the CD and attempt the repair steps outlined in the aforementioned links. (Actually, this step took about 2 hours, because of some wonkiness with Tigana’s boot process that wouldn’t let it go from CD boot to CD boot, but instead required a boot into Linux). That didn’t work, so I tried it again (old stupid Windows habits die hard). Then, I deleted six *.dll files to force Windows 2000 to replace them all, which it did, and I could finally boot into Windows after another hour or so. An installer kept popping up asking for Norton’s Firewall disk, so I tried uninstalling it; unfortunately, something happened with the Windows Installer software and the program wouldn’t uninstall.
So, had I been really smart, I would have just reinstalled the firewall without even attempting to update anything. But no, I’m an idiot, so I decided to run Windows Update to fix the problem with Windows Installer.
So, there I am last night having spent 4 hours to get right back to square one. (Although, at least I knew how to get off square one: “Turn on the light.”) So I put away Tigana/Lower Corte and spent the rest of the evening with Merrystar.
Right. Today, Merrystar leaves on a trip, so I figure I’ll put on Stargate SG-1 Season 4 and see if I can get this piece of *($)#)*#$!!! working. (Note: I do not blame the machine; I blame the operating system. This is probably unfair. I don’t care. I want the time I spent back.) I go through the hoops and finally get Lower Corte booting again. I install NPF right on top of the old one and the error messages stop. I check connectivity and firewall and shut it down.
Now, a smart man would have cut his losses here and gone and painted a fence or clean the gutters or something.
I am not a smart man. (See idiot note, above.)
Al-Rassan was actually the easiest of the three, as she was already running Red Hat 9 and I could (and did) easily back up my home directory to Arbonne. The biggest problem was how long it took - I started it around noon and it finished around 4. The next biggest problem was that the background changed from the bluecurve to the fedora blue flower picture.
If that’s the second biggest problem in an upgrade, I’ll count it going pretty darn well. (Of course, I’m trying to run up2date and it’s taking hours to complete - that could be server problems, or something more serious.)
Once I’d established that Al-Rassan was okay, I took on Arbonne. Last weekend I yanked Windows off Arbonne, and the only real data on her was the home directory from Al-Rassan, so if everything went really wrong I could just reformat the drive and start over. The Fedora update also took some time, and everything seemed to be going well until I tried rebooting; at that point the boot seemed to hang on searching for new hardware. Arbonne is still trying to boot - I’ll give her some more time, but it’s been 42 minutes.
Tigana - ach, Tigana remains stubborn. She doesn’t have a built-in CD-ROM, so she needs a driver to boot from CD - a driver that’s mysteriously absent on the RH9 disk, but present on the RH7.2 one. Whisky Tango Foxtrot?
So. I think I’ll leave that one for another day.
Current count: Computers 3, Me 1. Ah, the drama of system administration.
Time to call it quits.
12 February 2004
So after updating Tigana with the latest round of Microsoft security updates, I rebooted last night into the following error:
The Logon User Interface DLL msgina.dll failed to load.
Contact your system administrator to replace the DLL, or restore the original DLL.
Great. Just fucking great. How long is this going to take me to fix?
Fortunately, I just turned off the computer last night and didn’t lose any sleep over it, but still - argh.
Right. So, here’s a possible explanation from Microsoft, if you ignore that the computer in question already had SP 4, not SP 3, and here’s a potential fix. If that doesn’t work, there’s an another way to do it.
It was precisely because I was tired of dealing with shit like this that I deleted Windows off Arbonne this past weekend.
29 August 2003
In honor of settling the network nomenclature question, I polished off Guy Gavriel Kay’s A Song for Arbonne last night. Note to self #20942: must stop staying up and reading.
26 August 2003
Installed Red Hat GNU/Linux 9.0 on my old IBM Thinkpad 1400i (now al-rassan). Space prevented me from installing with existing windows partitions, so I backed them up to Atlantis and wiped them clear. 9.0 is much improved from previous installs - RH detected the Winmodem, sound card and video card without a hitch. Minor problem with the display was fixed by increasing the resolution from 800x600 to 1280x1024.
After long discussion with Ryan last week about network nomenclature schemes (weapon names, Tolkienian weapon names, starships), decided to stick with the established use of Guy Gavriel Kay’s fantasy worlds. Renamed Atlantis to Sarantium. Renamed Ithilien to Al-Rassan. Two other machines waiting in the wings: Arbonne and Gorhaut. It will be some time before we run out of names.
Anyhow, back to the linux installation. Wireless card was easy to configure with the drivers already present - connected to my Windows desktop (sarantium) via Samba.
Nasty surprise - Red Hat removed MP3 support. Was aware of it in the back of my mind but still unexpected. Still, gives me a chance to reburn entire CD collection. Add to todo list - find MP3->OGG converter. WMA not an option.
2 March 2002
The past few weeks have turned into one protracted case of writer’s block. After all the effort to make this an easy-to-update process, and I’ve contributed a bunch of links. Woo hoo. Part of it has been real life: Merrystar’s hard drive crashed and I had to install a new one and rebuild her Windows partition, my Windows installation went haywire and had to be rebuilt, Linux isn’t cooperating with my internet connection, my laptop at work died, I killed two other computers at work…
Oh yeah, and there’s this rather significant life event to plan.
And the Olympics. Can’t forget those pesky Winter Olympics. Especially curling.
So part of it is quite easy to explain: writing is hard.
But part of it is because I feel that what I have to say isn’t interesting. I watch the signal-to-noise ratio drop on places like slashdot and I wonder where the hell all the content went. I read flamewars over separating design from content, wondering what the content feels about it all, where it went, and if it’s nice there.
Merrystar and I had an argument about that last one. Why should you use CSS if you design simply with the HTML 3 standards in mind, avoiding things like gratutious <FONT> tags? Assuming a small (under ten pages) site, if you kept your design simple to begin with, why spend the effort to change?
It’s like this creeping malaise has me in its grasp, saying “what you have to say is worthless, so sit down, shut up and fuck off.” The more I read, the more I watch, the less I talk.
I have become quiet and reserved. I don’t like it, not one bit.
30 November 2001
I’m currently helping Merrystar move from her apartment in Alexandria to our townhouse in Springfield. Her parents are coming up this weekend with a pickup to help us with the big things, and I was in there early today to let all the utilities guys in to turn things on.
The last time I moved it took a month to get the gas turned on, and two months for the phones to be straightened out. It’s strange to have everything taken care of before moving. It makes the lifting heavy boxes of books up and down stairs not too bad.
After about three weeks, my computer at home is finally rebuilt. I learned a few things:
- Upgrading Win98 to Win2000 will solve some of your problems. Because it feels guilty for having done so, it will introduce a host of additional problems to make up for it.
- Triple-boot systems, no matter how cool they are in concept, can be rather tricky to set up. This is especially true if 2/3rds of your system is written by Microsoft. Your hard drive may collapse under the boot weight.
- When your hard drive crashes, the period of panic is much shorter when all your data is on CDs you burned the week before.
- Lotus Notes is wonky no matter what OS you run. It is a fundamental axiom of this world.
So my apologies to all those to whom I owe email responses; they’re coming, honest. I’ve been restoring files from CD and should have my inbox back in the next day or two or three.