shirenomad: (computers)
So, yeah, I was kind of off the air for a while, but I had a good excuse. My motherboard fried.

I have never been so glad to have a laptop, since it kept me linked with the world for those two weeks (although most of your email addresses weren't on it, hence the lack of contact with many of you). And thankfully, my hard drives were undamaged, so ultimately no data loss either. But the motherboard itself was five years old, and had a lot of slots that you don't find on modern boards. So replacing the board meant replacing all the parts in those slots too. Grand damage: $500 once all my rebates come back, which isn't as painful as I thought it'd be but still means "Chris's retroactive computer fund" got added to the Christmas list.

But hey, new computer. After nearly five years on this one. I went for a motherboard with a lot of potential for expansion, which I hope will be enough to ward off future unneeded replacement parts, and also will let me spend a hundred here or there down the road to improve it even further. More importantly, I replaced the housing; technically this wasn't needed since all the new stuff would have fit, but I have the sneaky suspicious that the burnout was because something overheated badly in there. My previous housing had minimal ventilation with a small fan in the corner. My new one has plenty on the front and back, and a fan on the side directly over the processor that takes up nearly half the surface. (It also isn't that ugly beige.)

Salvaged were both hard drives, the CD and DVD burners, the wireless modem, and the dialup modem (why do I still have that thing? because I have the free slot, that's why). Also, to my pleasant surprise, the old Windows install worked on the new system with minimal effort; I was expecting to have to reformat and reinstall everything, which would have been painful. (I considered doing it anyway just to iron out some old quirks of the system, but I decided it wasn't worth the effort in the end. But I did pick up some registry cleaning software, to make sure no changes came back to bite me.)

The real trick was getting all the gear. Remember, I have no car now. Thankfully, there's a MicroCenter about 15 minutes walk from the final stop on the Metro Orange Line, so out I went on Saturday to go shopping. Yes, I did the research in advance; I wasn't going to waste an hour Metro round trip for nothing. Still, hauling the new housing back to the station might have been too much for me. So God sent a parent and his two kids, coming back from grocery shopping, who offered me a lift. Since psycho kidnappers don't bring their kids with them, I wasn't going to refuse.

And oh man, I'm loving the new processor. I could have done better with the RAM and graphics card if I'd wanted (and didn't mind shelling out even more money), but instead I invested in the motherboard and a processor to match. Everything's running so much smoother now. I've even been able to max out the settings on most of my games. So pretty...

Stats, for those inclined to follow those things:
Intel Pentium 4 2.4 GHzIntel Core 2 Quad Q8200 2.33GHz
4 x 512MB PC3200 RAM2 x 2GB DDR2 800 RAM
GeForce FX 5500 AGP 16x 256 MBGeForce 9500GT PCI-E 2.0 DDR2 512MB
ADI AD1985 (internal)7.1 High Definition CODEC (internal)
3COM 3C940 Gigabit Ethernet (internal)10/100/1000 Gigabit Network (internal)

Let's see, did I forget to mention anything? Oh yeah, there's some holiday this Thursday, and some sort of exams next week... nothing important. *goes back to the games*
shirenomad: (confused)
As is often the case with computers, I have fixed mine while having no real idea what I did. My last resort apparently worked, but since that was "pull everything out and then plug the essentials back in, then work up" I'm not sure which bit fell into place in the process. My best guess is that something important was loose and got properly secured when I shoved it back into place. Either that or it really did matter which RAM set went in which slot, as they wound up in the reversed slots when all was said and done. (Except that never mattered before...)

My graphics card fan is still making funny noises for about 20 seconds after bootup, but it's been doing that for a while without causing problems, and I eliminated it as a cause by trying other cards. So who knows?
shirenomad: (computers)
My computer may be dying.

I will explain why it at least has good timing when I can keep it from freezing long enough to type more than two paragraphs.
shirenomad: (computers)
Last week my office headphones decided to lose all treble. Given I am allowed to listen to music at work if I use headphones (and usually do whenever I'm at my desk and not engaged in conversation), this proved annoyingly limiting. So I moved my home headphones to the office. Much better, except now I need headphones at home. A lower priority -- the walls aren't that thin at the house -- but still handy when I'm up late just to be courteous.

Also, I was thinking about getting a new mouse anyway; I've recently started volunteering at the church handling their projector, and the attached laptop needs a working USB mouse (I loathe those touch pads), so I thought I'd bring over my old one and get something nice and ergonomic for my home use.

First mistake: I decide to purchase both at Fry's. Yes, Fry's. It is physically impossible to leave Fry's without buying at least one more item than you planned, because it's discounted so temptingly and you would have bought it at some point anyway and... ahem. Anyway, I was aware of this and had pretty much budgeted an extra $20 for damage control on that subject...

And they had a huge stack of hard drives for sale. Brand new 400 GB hard drives... for $110. I dearly wanted more hard drive space. My three (count them!) hard drives came out to barely 100 GB total. And two of those three were under-20G bricks that predated the current administration, so their stability was suspect to boot. Sale ended the next day. CRAP.

No problem, I didn't need that kidney anyway. Second mistake, however, was thinking it would be a simple plug-and-go operation. I hadn't installed a new hard drive since I reformatted the entire mess and started over two and a half years ago, so I'd forgotten the trouble I had getting it to recognize three drives at once. The fact that I had to remove all drives (including the CD and DVD drives) and the graphics card before I got enough clearance to extract the oldest (and largest) of the bricks only added to the confusion, especially since I wound up wasting nearly an hour figuring out where the serial ATA cable disappeared to afterward.

Then I had to convince the machine that yes, the boot drive was the one attached to the serial ATA, not the ultra ATA. (Look, the Ultra doesn't have any data on it! No, I'm not going to reinstall everything on the new one! I've got everything the way I like it on the old one!) Then it didn't like the jumper settings on the new one and would recognize it during initialization but not in Windows. (What were the previous jumper settings when this all worked? Did this drive even have a jumper when I started?)

At 1 in the AM, it finally recognized the main drive, the new drive, and the brick I had plugged in for data transfer, all at the same time. I declared it "good enough" and called it a night. This evening I'll be handling the re-partitioning, data transfer, and with luck I'll even be able to swap bricks at some point and get its old data direct (though the other brick is archival stuff and is completely backed up to DVD if it comes to that). Bonus is that most of this can be done by punching a few keys and standing back for a half an hour, so I think I'll get in some Katamari or a DVD while I wait... I need the stress relief. But frankly, given how things went yesterday, I'll feel good simply if the settings still work today.

At least the new mouse is comfy.
shirenomad: (wtf)
My computer spontaneously powered down this afternoon and wouldn't start back up again. It powered up normally when I tried again an hour later.

Possible factors:
- The computer had been on for about five hours at the time, although the most intensive program it ran during that period was an anti-virus scan.
- It's a moderately warm day, though I've had warmer.
- I'd just plugged in my cell phone to recharge when the power-down occurred. The phone recharger goes into the same socket.
- The surge protector had NOT shut down, at least not for more than a second. It's possible I jostled a plug somewhere when I plugged in the cell phone, but my monitor and speakers were showing power afterward.

Anyone have an idea what hit me?
shirenomad: (computers)
I took today to, among other things, hook up the DVD-ROM I got for Christmas. (It's been sitting in the box all this time; again I curse you, long work hours!) Works fine, from the looks of things, and I got to upgrade my CD writing software as a bonus. Also hooked up a new (well, different) wireless card while I was poking around in there; we'll see if that helps with the random connection drops I keep getting.

On to gaming.
shirenomad: (mixed)
As much as I'm liking Firefox, there are two quirks that are seriously annoying me (and I'd appreciate anyone who knows of a setting/extension that will fix them).

First, when I hit Back, it goes to the top of the previous page. This is particularly annoying on sites like the RPGamer Board or my LJ Friends Page, where I like to read threads/responses starting at the bottom and work my way up. Both IE and Netscape would remember where, exactly, on the last page I was, but Firefox apparently doesn't, meaning I have to scroll down again.

Second, this is only on one site, but it will give me an alert whenever I visit particular pages. This alert lets me know that it's loading a style sheet. I have to click "okay" to make the alert disappear or view the page. This alert pops up twice for every page. Gets very annoying after a while. (Other Firefox users can see if they're getting the same result by visiting this site and clicking on any of the comics on "".)
shirenomad: (angry)
My boss gave me a cell phone for emergency contact purposes, since I didn't have one. Treo 300, Sprint PCS. He'll pay the bills so long as I don't go over my minutes. This should have been a good thing.

Problems started when I wanted to HotSync my phone directory onto my computer. Got the cradle, but when I made the attempt, I found that my current version of Palm Desktop (used for my Palm Pilot) was inadequate; I needed some sort of upgrade to handle a Treo. Roadblock #1.

We couldn't find the software that came with the phone (it was previously owned by another employee). I go to Sprint, figuring I could download it... no sign of it. It's not linked from my service page; it can't be found by searching the site. Roadblock #2.

So I email their tech support, hoping they can email me the software or point out the link I'm missing. They respond by saying the only way to get the software is to go to a Sprint Store and get it there. Roadblock #3... anger rising...

I hunt down the nearest Sprint location and swing by on the way home from work today. It's a kiosk. They can't give me the software I need there. I need a full service station; the nearest one is about 15 minutes away. Roadblock #4.

I make it to the Sprint Service location and explain my problem. They spend about ten minutes checking in back, then come out and say they don't have any CDs with the software on it right now... but did I try downloading it? I can pick it up at this URL... .........THANKS FOR TELLING ME! THAT WAS SO HELPFUL! *kills the online tech support and the bozos at the kiosk who didn't feel it necessary to tell him that, then beats down Roadblock #5 and heads home*

So I download the friggin' software already. I install the upgrade. Roadblocks #6 and 7 coming up... when I try to actually HotSync, it demands my password. I don't know my password; my boss set this up! To add insult to injury, I discover that now my Palm won't sync either. To be honest, I could have lived without my Treo being able to sync; if I lose my data, I can retrieve my phone numbers quickly enough from my Palm. But the Palm has a lot of other important data on it, and since it's non-rechargeable, it's more likely to suffer data loss. In short, I want my Palm synching ability back, dammit.

But first things first. Back to the site for password retrieval. It's supposed to text message my phone with the password. It doesn't. #8.

I call tech support this time. I'm not putting up with those bozos online. Hello? I need my password already. Here's my data. Okay, that's my password? Thanks. *scribble scribble* Also, my Palm isn't... hello? Hello? I wasn't done with you! (#9)

I make sure my Treo will actually sync now. It does, the Palm doesn't. Redial. Hello! I need to figure out why your software screwed up my ability to sync my Palm. *gets transferred to another department* Hello! I need to figure out why your software screwed up my ability to sync my Palm. *gets transferred to yet another department... which has been disconnected or is no longer in service* ... *smashes stuff*

Tomorrow morning, when I have calmed down, I will put these ten offenses aside and try to call them again. And I will remember never to actually pay for Sprint PCS ever.
shirenomad: (computers)
It actually took more effort than it should have to get to this point. You're all already probably aware that my area has been without high-speed far longer than a location in Silicon Valley has any business being. But around the beginning of the year we got news that our block was finally hooked up. So we signed up, got the equipment within a week, hooked everything up... nothing. Okay, they said it might be another week or so before our house was activated. We can wait.

Still nothing a week later. (Our neighbors, who signed up at about the same time, have been living the highspeed life for the same period.) Now we call tech support. They run us through the standard troubleshoot; no such luck. Our house should be receiving DSL signals and simply isn't. This does not bode well. I'm thinking in particular about how our dial-up is unusually slow, and how that problem seemed to be exclusive to our house... and how DSL runs over the same phone lines.

As it turns out, I was right. A couple visits by techies later, we determine that our house's phone lines are piggybacked off someone else's. This doesn't screw with regular phone conversation but interferes with a clean transmission of the level required for even 56K, much less DSL. So the techs eventually had to redirect the old wires, install new ones... basically it was one big hassle.

We'd left the DSL hub on in the meantime so the guys at SBC HQ could send test signals. Standard hub: four lights. Power, LAN, DSL, Activity. It had been running with a woeful two of those lit for a month. Yesterday I idly glance at it as I'm walking past.

"...Uh, Dad?"
"The DSL light is on."

And suddenly we dropped everything to harness that sweet, sweet high-speed. Hey, we're both geeks at heart. :D

Twas about time, though. We were seriously considering setting up a deal with our more fortunate neighbors to run a cable over the fence.
shirenomad: (computers)
Was nosing around the bargain bin at Fry's Electronics last night and located a copy of Thief 2 for $12. I picked up Thief Gold a couple years ago, played it through, and loved it, but I haven't seen either on the shelves since, so you'd better believe I snatched it up. Then I get home, install it, and decide to try out the first level before I hit the sack.

I get about two minutes into the actuall gameplay and my system freezes.

Reboot. Try again. This time I only get a minute.

I double-check to make sure the patch was firmly installed and that there are no later versions. I try different graphic settings. I reinstall the game. No luck.

Just when I'm about to despair, it hits me that I've seen behavior like this before. A known glitch in some game collections was that the software was so old it made certain assumptions about how much your machine could do at once, instead of physically preventing certain "must take place in sequence" processes from running simultaneously.

We've got an older computer in one of the back rooms, still running Win98 on a P3 500MHz. That's just barely over the recommended system reqs for Thief 2. I install it there. Smooth running through the first level. VICTOLY.

Mental note: never throw that clunker out. There are plenty of other old games I've never played out there somewhere.

And now, time for a big fat personality quiz )
shirenomad: (computers)
Partially for my own records... and partially because, yeah, I'm in a good mood and feel like generally standing around and telling everyone about it. Those who don't want to hear it, skip down to the poll.
Intel Seattle SE440BX-2ASUS P4P800
Intel Pentium III 600 MHzIntel Pentium 4 2.4 GHz
196 MB PC100 RAM1 GB PC3200 RAM
Graphics Blaster Riva TNTASUS V9520TD GeoForce 128
Yamaha YMF740 (internal)ADI AD1985 (internal)
Kingston KNE30T EtherRx3COM 3C940 Gigabit Ethernet (internal)
Windows 98 Second EditionWindows XP Professional (my contribution; MSoft donated CD keys to the entire CompSci department in May)
US Robotics 56K Voice PnPditto (modems really haven't improved recently)

And now, let's get some opinions!
[Poll #229931]
shirenomad: (God moment)
I woke up at about 5am thanks to my brother suffering an unusually loud sneezing fit. Unable to get back to sleep, I felt the impulse to pull out my Bible, as I often do when needing some comfort (and with the computer situation, I needed it). So I opened it randomly and found myself at the end of Job. For the Biblically unknowledgable, the book of Job is about a godly man who, without doing anything to deserve it, loses everything and begins to question God's justice. Nonetheless, when God confronts him over the issue, Job admits he can't hope to understand God's plan and humbles himself. And the book ends with God rewarding Job's humility, using the loss to give him even more. Those last few chapters were the part I had opened to.

After that, I was feeling ready to doze off again and, sure enough, did within about ten minutes (get your jokes about the interest level of the Bible out now). I didn't mention my choice of morning reading to anyone.

Fast-forward to evening: Dad talks to Ron (the friend I mentioned last entry) about the condition of my computer ...and begins discussing buying me a whole new set of hardware as long as I'm starting over. Something that can run Win XP and then some ("then some" being Illustrator CS, which I got for Christmas but could only run on Dad's machine).

There are times when claiming "coincidence" just fails to be convincing anymore.
shirenomad: (crisis)
I installed Norton 2003 a couple months back. Never had an anti-viral program on my system before, believe it or not. More to the point, never really needed one... the only time a virus ever infected my computer, it happened purely because I was using Outlook Express and its "run all scripts" feature. Since switching to Eudora, nothing. I'm careful about what I click on, and my current email accounts are all protected on the server side. Nonetheless, Mom and Dad (who are less cautious in other manners) were worried about vulnerabilities, and offered me a copy of Norton. Hey, it was free, so I took it.

In hindsight, I should have remembered that 'because it's free' is not sufficient justification to install anything. )

The upside of the day was another late Christmas card. Thanks, Shadey, needed that. I'll see your murr and raise you a kweh.


Sep. 12th, 2003 05:41 pm
shirenomad: (celebration) Just sent a successful email through it.
shirenomad: (frustrated)
Apparently AOL doesn't like you sending emails over their lines that aren't AOL-based. I'm currently trying to access my school account (good for another two months) using Eudora, and although I can receive email just fine, I can't get a working set of settings to send. AOL doesn't seem to have an SMTP (that I can use, anyway) and trying other standard SMTPs for the account isn't working. Any advice for a poor AOL's-all-I-got user?
shirenomad: (geeky)
Posting from my own computer, aboard a newly bought 56K. W00t.
shirenomad: (frustrated)
But a decade into the Internet Age, this house is turning out to be a frustration.

I had always thought my parents simply never bothered getting a high-speed Net hookup for the house, but it turns out that in the five years I've been gone, they've made more than a couple attempts. But for starters, DSL was finally supposed to be available at our location last month, emphasis on "supposed to." No cable company providing to this location handles Net access either. And just to add insult to injury, we've discovered that something about the phone lines here (just this house or the entire area, we don't know) doesn't allow modem access at speeds greater than 28.8. Mom and Dad were baffled as to why the 56K modems didn't seem to be helping much.

To complicate the matter further, a little quirk of this neighborhood I forgot about: the border between Campbell and San Jose runs right down the center of the street. We're technically within San Jose limits, everyone across the street is a Campbell resident. Guess what; a DSL company provides to that section of Campbell, but our section of San Jose remains unclaimed...

This might actually be good news, though. Dad and a family friend, Ron, are seriously looking into the possibility of getting our neighbor directly across the street to let us set up a wireless network. We're pretty sure that a broadcast sent from their living room will envelope most if not all of our house. The only problem is that it's going to be frightfully expensive to get the gear for that, so we're double-checking all other options before going for it.

Meanwhile, at least the house LAN is running smoothly. Dad and Ron got that put together a few years ago. My computer still has no connection, modem or otherwise, but I can make my Favorites a shared folder and have instant access to them from the main computer whenever I go online. Also I can listen to my entire music collection.
shirenomad: (Default)
The ICQ is working.
shirenomad: (thoughtful)
I'm beginning to suspect the TUNET sysadmins weren't taking me seriously until yesterday. I suppose I can't blame them; Tsuru Bunka Daigaku is a liberal arts college, so they probably aren't used to students coming in who actually know anything about computers. That combined with my poor Japanese seemed to have them suspecting that the problem was just a dead server on AOL's part. But I finally got them to investigate further, and they called another college in the area and confirmed that yes,, etc. is up and running, why do you ask? So it's officially a problem on their end now, at least. They even let me hang around for an hour or so while they poked at servers and watched traces bounce around. No luck, so I got a "come back tomorrow" again, but at least I know they're doing something this time instead of dismissing me as a computer-illiterate gaijin.

In the meantime, I've confirmed that whatever the problem is has blocked out all of AOL Time/Warner and its many, many subsidiaries (and their subsidiaries, and their subsidiaries... curse you, conglomeration!) The only ones I really care about are AOL and ICQ; between the two of them I lose pretty much all contact with most of my family, as well as all my chat capabilities save through IRC. Through watching my email traffic, I've discovered that I can receive mail from AOL users, but any attempts to send to them bounce back... I wouldn't be surprised if that extends to transmissions in general. Some sites have dropped completely off the map (,, while others toss back a "TTL expired in transit" message when pinged ( and a couple other minor ones). A tracet command to the latter category eventually arrives, but it takes so long that a web browser times out trying to make contact. (And regardless, all the servers I actually care about are in the former category.)

I have not ruled out AOL Time/Warner as being partially at fault; despite the fact that the problem seems exclusive to TUNET, it also seems exclusive to AT/W sites, which is far too coincidental. I'm wondering if the servers in question implemented some new software last Monday that looks a tad too suspicious for TUNET's firewall or something. So anyone who's reading this, I'd like you to email them and ask. (All of you, if you can; a flood of email is more likely to get noticed than just one.) Ask if they added a new protocol/software/whatever sometime between Sunday 8pm and Monday 5pm, Pacific Time, last week; that's when the glitch started. If they did, direct them to Tsuru U's website and ask them to explain the situation to the local techs (keeping in mind that Tsuru might not be able to respond via email). There are students here cut off from home; don't leave us stranded!

In the meantime, today they got a single computer in the lab to punch through, largely by disabling multiple firewall safeties for it. Naturally, they don't want to have to do this for the entire system, so right now they're letting me use this to access my account, get my AIM fix (through AOL Quick Buddy), etc. Rather inconvenient, especially since ICQ is still out of the question, but it'll do for now. They hope to have a more permanent solution up an running by the end of the week. Everyone keep your fingers crossed.
shirenomad: (thoughtful)
Well, I did decently, anyway. Better than I've ever done before, which is saying something considering how many people turned out for the final presentation. But I actually remembered every last word (though there were a couple pauses as I mentally tried to find my place), so all is good.

Of course, Nathan blew us all out of the water. While the rest of us are struggling just to remember where we are, he's doing stand-up comedy. One of the opening lines we could use for this speech translates "Today I'd like to talk to you about [FILL IN THE BLANK]." Nathan opened his speech with "Today I'd like to talk to you about government policy on global warming," and then added, "but I don't know anything about that." Then he went on to talk about the exciting parts of Tsuru (there are none; it's a country town :p).

Ironically, my speech was about how the internet is my lifeline home. After some arguments with tech support (translated by tutors, God bless 'em) and various test runs, I've determined that a glitch of some sort entered the system and is causing TUNET (and TUNET alone; a tutor who doesn't use the system isn't having this problem) from accessing anything Netscape related. Except for, which makes sense, since it's located separately. Either way, they'll see what they can do and have asked me to check back one more time next Monday. Everyone keep your fingers crossed please.
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