Friday, July 06, 2007

the stupidities of Electricity and Electronics (giving me static, a negative charge, and other anion-ances)

Stupidity of Tuesday: I'm a fan of your work!
The project of the 'weekend' was to replace the light in my office with a lighted fan. Putting together the fan is easy, replacing the ceiling utility box is simple (I was wrong, it was held in place by two twopenny nails, not threepenny), and essentially this would be an hour or two job plus a trip to the attic. the fan/light switch I also needed to drop a wire inside the wall parallel to the light switch line for the fan switch. But nothing ever goes as planned, it's a hell of a notion, and it was one of the rare sunny days in the Puget Sound. As a result, the temperature in my attic was 150°F. Not kidding. Being a masochist on a mission, and trying to abide by my bride (who demanded I do this while she was at work because she didn't want to see the carnage), I tried. It took five hours to get that utility box in because it was so sweltering hot I could only spend five minutes at a time up there working, followed by about half an hour of drinking liquids and resting in the shade. Anyhow, once I had that installed securely, I had the fan mounted on it in short order. The wiring took a little doing (from the ground level, thanks) because of some color mixups and bad connections, but this switch you see here is fully functional, as is the lighted fan it controls.

I could rattle on for awhile about the real stupidity, being that the outlet the computer uses was wired in parallel through the light's utility box: when the fan and light were working, the outlet no longer did, and no way was I going to take that fan off to get to the utility box again. I wound up going to the attic -- after dark, so the temperature had dropped sixty degrees -- and cutting the wiring going to the jack off at the box, then splicing it to a length of fresh wire that I spliced inline to the master bedroom's light & outlets. Took a couple trips up and down before things worked the way they're supposed to, but everything is functional. This aids one of the electrical stupidities of this house, that two computers and the TV/VCR/DVD in the livingroom (why?!) and now a fan were all drawing on the same breaker. That's the short version.

The stupidity of Wednesday is that so many people in this neighborhood buy Indian fireworks and blow shit up at all hours. (Cheddar is a nervous wreck. Not that you can notice that through the neurosis.) I spent the day recuperating from the dehydration with a quart of Gatorade, plus endured the awe-inspiring itchy quantity of fiberglass irritation to my arms and rafter-crawling bruising to my knees. The fun place we went was Lowes, not to the waterfront park to watch a professional fireworks show with music.

Stupidity of Thursday: What's the frequency, Mushroom?
My wife has been asking me for awhile to get her computer, an AMD 5x86 [read: the missing link between 486 and Pentium, which thinks it's a P-75], onto teh Intarweb with my broadband connection. Everything was great when we had dialup, even though she'd only get on it about once or twice a year and hasn't read email since May 2003 (so if you're her friend or family, she may have told you that fact and that's why she hasn't replied), but now we don't. I stewed on this for awhile, considering the pro's and con's of going with a wired connection using an Ethernet card and a length of CAT5 (holes in walls optional) or going with a wireless connection using a WiFi card and router. So on this fine day I went to a couple places and spent a hundred bucks on the WiFi solution. Major stupidity happened: The computer which has had the same configuration for years on end suddenly forgot how to use its monitor. Didn't forget what video card it was, but did forget that it was capable of doing things greater than 640x480 and 16 colors. Also forgot that it had a CD-ROM, but I discovered eventually this was caused by the computer arbitrarily deciding it could only handle two cards in it... so taking out the dialup modem was the only way to get it to install WiFi drivers. And the computer will lock up if you fart wrong. Anyhow, so finally I got all the planets aligned, and... uh, the computer is detecting there IS a network being broadcast from my room, but is making NO effort to connect to it. Tried a flock of stuff, no change. the fan Deactivated everything for the night, slept for awhile, and then this (Friday) morning I went back to BestTry to get a different WiFi card for the computer. Or that's the suggestion people online gave others having similar issues, though plenty of them would ask "Did you try this?" after reading a full description of the asker doing exactly that... twice. New card doesn't fare any better; completely different interface but doing the same thing, it finds MushW1r3l3ss but doesn't attempt to connect to it. Back to the blue price tag place. BestTry person with a face like Ganesh and a belt that was not holding her pants up whatsoever tried her best to hype GeekSquad, and it took all my strength (the Gatorade helped, thanks) to not say "Sorry, but I'll ask a real technician". I did have a chuckle over her saying that I could have them come out and set up my network... I hate seeing heads explode when they discover it won't work after promising it will. So I got my refund, went next door, and bought a $3 network card and $13.50 in Ethernet cable.

I haven't had the time to properly investigate, but I have downloaded the drivers and installed the card (and only two lockups on the computer!)... and the light on the card showing it's connected didn't come on. Possibly because I hooked something up wrong when I removed the WiFi router so the place I was plugging the cord in wasn't getting signal, possibly because while I was trying to work my wife decided to change phones in the bedroom and removed the DSL filter so the modem fell offline (and this particular model wants an Internet connection before checking to see if there's a physical connection). And that's the less-than-geeky version of the story. [three hours later: Yeah, the Ethernet situation was caused by crossed wires... her computer is on and browsing at 100kbps. And the first order of business was to upgrade her from Netscape 4.78 to Firefox! Next will be coming up with a nonmessy way to run a cable from here to there... out one bedroom door and into the other one past the rolling desk chair is a bit 'underfoot'.]

A shout out to my old TSC buddy Jeff in Portland, who came to visit me on Tuesday! Great seeing you and will do so again in a couple weeks. What a giant ferry!

A shout out to my old THS buddy Jeff in Portland, who came to visit his family on Thursday... Okay, let me get this right: The chick tossed you out three years ago because she wanted to see other guys after a seven year togetherness, you didn't pull your act together because you kept pining for her (and she didn't really try turning you away, she just didn't take you in either), you became homeless because you couldn't let go, you got booted out of a couple of other women's homes because you couldn't let go, she's still seeing other people and recently lied to you about it, and your story now is that she's about to be kicked out of her parents house because she's seeing you again? Duuuuude. Clue-train over at the station, hop aboard.

THS? tahoma high school?
Toppenish High School. I didn't graduate from this side of the mountains.
Great title. May the anionances be fewer and further between. Nice junction box, by the way.
Hooray for the working fan/light!
It's good you didn't die from heatstroke or dehydration AND you didn't get electricuted either.
Your July 4th sounds as if it was exciting.... not.
Too bad you didn't go see the fireworks show.
Your Thursday was frustrating, but in the end, you prevailed. I'm sure Paige is pleased. Maybe she will check her email more often now.
Jeff in Portland needs to cut ties with that woman completely and forever. Too bad he invested seven years of his life with her. It's not good to be attached to a liar.
Jamie: I'm only going to say (and I realize this is more true of soap than magnetism or electricity): Like attracts like.

Jeff (from THS) was the guy who would stop by the computer store on the way home from work for a few minutes, then when he walked in tell his wife [this was years ago, he was married for 3 years until she found someone who looked just like him but with worse teeth] that there was bad traffic -- she didn't ask, she didn't notice the 10 minute difference, he'd just outright pre-emptively LIE.
You know, i think you missed out on an opportunity. Who knows what would happen if you put your computer on a dimmer switch? Youtube ahoy!
I've known a couple people who had computers on circuits (meant for lights) where the switch on the wall controls the outlet. A BBS was offline for days because the guy's wife flipped the switch on her way out of the room when he was Somewhere Else.
Not to be too specific, but I happen to know of a company that had their corporate HQ in England, and they had a chat server that was actually housed there.

No-one could figure out why the server would stop working on weekends, until it was discovered that it was on a light switch in an office that got turned off usually on the weekends (and sometimes at odd hours of the day).
I just realized I didn't make something clear there. The company (or at least the arm of it with which I'm familiar) had offices in the US that experienced the naughtiness. Although mush would have probably understood, not sure who else would have.
Illiterate: I am familiar with that company and its jibber-jabber, in fact I was looking at the company-logo screensaver I found on the network server last year just the other night.
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