Monday, October 27, 2008

It's the Information Superhighway version of a string and two tin cans

My new computer!Hello, my two disciples followers out of four readers, and the rest of ye mythical folks as well. Yes, I survived my 41st birthday... wasn't really that hard, the day was busy yet not what anyone would call exciting in a "it's your birthday!" way. First, before I tell you about the day, dig my birthday present on the left! It's a Dell Latitude LS400 notebook computer, courtesy of my dear friend Wayne. More on that shortly. I'll itemize now how the day went:

I got up around noon, which isn't unusual for me, and it was Paige's day off. We eventually got ourselves moving, we had a couple events down the street to attend -- a Lutheran church having a rummage sale, and the Lutheran university having a surplus sale. I spent 10¢ total. We got home and sat down to watch the Saturday morning cartoons home improvement shows on HGTV on tape, then started working on painting and putting up the trim in the utility room. Eventually my friend Wayne from the other side of the state showed up, with a box containing three notebook computers in tow. His mother had gotten them as surplus from a family services agency that was getting rid of the junk in the closet. Also in the box were three sets of external CDROMs and 3½" drives, six batteries, five docking stations, several pairs of Harmon/Kardon powered speakers, and other "wow, you got this free?!" stuff. (Summary for the geeks: 700MHz, 6gb HD, 128mb RAM, 1 USB 1.1 and 1 PCMCIA, 56k and NIC, Win98, circa 2002. See YouTube for how fast it can run XP.) So we had them on my livingroom floor... One booted just fine, and I got to keep that machine. One took 15 minutes to get to the desktop. One never got to the desktop (unless booted into Safe Mode), it was even slower. Performed some stupid Windows tricks (doo dah, doo dah...) and got those two functional. So once that was done and Wayne left, Paige and I headed to The Outback for dinner, and we were nearly the only customers so it all worked out. We got home and there were cupcakes... I blew out the candle on my carrotcake cupcake. A little checking of email and off to bed.

So I got a computer, two docking stations (one in box), two spare batteries (one in original package), CD and floppy drives, power supply (and a spare in the docking box). I'm not going to change the CDROM to a burner until I have a larger hard drive, and the stray 30gb 2½" drive I had laying around died a clicking death after finishing the Windows install so no rush. But one upgrade I did see fit to make...

After doing a little research and a system overhaul on my notebook, I ordered a WiFi card on eBay for cheap, which I had by the end of the week. (And had not noticed that I had received a 10% off coupon in eBay's messages before making the purchase, d'oh!) Today I did a little experimentation. There is no WiFi signal in my house, so I took a trip to the library to see how well it worked outside the building. Hmm, one bar in the parking lot outside the periodicals, three to four bars in the parking lot by the front door and the children's area. I had noticed yesterday when I was at a crafts bazaar at the Masonic Temple there was someone online on his notebook so I thought, "hey, signal!" So I drove over to the funeral home parking lot which is next door to the Temple. (I sense a connection between the Masons and the morticians. Both are even named after the same person.) Check for signal... woot, four connections listed, one of which is unprotected and has one bar. The connection name coincides with an office in the next building, so I drove around the building checking for better signal. Left side, same. Right side, same. im in ur wifi network, swipin ur bandwidth Front side, same -- but a new unprotected connection was listed, with three bars. I grinned as I thought, "Someone could sit in the supermarket's parking lot across the street and do some serious browsing unnoticed!" I came home and decided I'd try something I saw on teh intarweb, making a WiFi booster antenna out of aluminum foil and a CD case. I didn't follow the directions exactly because I disagree with the guy's gluing a case together backwards into a stiff angle -- I think it should be able to fold up flat, like a CD case, for portability. Here at right is a photo of the result in use from the edge of my driveway. It's ghetto but it works. You will notice it found that open connection again, maybe it is the supermarket two blocks up the street that is the source of it since it is in line-of-sight from where I was sitting, with one or two bars depending on how I aim the case. Yeah!!

Hmm, I don't have any real stupidities to report (you all know about the political races, that'll be stupid for another three weeks) and here's one thing I hope does not evolve into stupid: I've been using the same Unemployment claim since Internet Identity gave me the boot on Oct 20, 2007 (I've worked at two places since then, and just keep reopening the same claim when I need to) and since there's a year expiration that one's done and I need to open a new one, which will only take a few minutes to do and (sigh) possibly a week or two for them to approve. My wife discovered a different kind of stupid yesterday -- she had been taking these round purple pills, and when she got a refill she noticed the new ones were white and oblong. The paperwork with the bottle says they're supposed to be round and purple. A few calls and a followup from a pharmacist in a different city later, and it turns out those are the right pills, just a different maker of them with a different appearnace, but no one had updated the computer to reflect this change. Anyhow, it's 3am and I needs to go to bed. Hasta yer pasta.

Congartulations on your new computer!

I have seen an epsisode of two shows, one called The Daily News with Jon Stewart, the other called The Colbert Report. I was laughing my ass off at both. But. The Daily News was funny only until it started to act in a "the Democrats are our friends" way, while Colbert made no difference like that, he made fun of everything and everybody. You have some real great shows over there! I haven't had a laugh like that for weeks.
Culture has reached Hungary! :-D

Actually, The Daily Show has won quite a few broadcasting awards, despite being a fake news show. (Jon Stewart loves pointing that out.) There's some quantity of Americans that get their news from that show, not the real 6 o'clock news. Also, it may be relevant that Stewart is an American thus expresses his opinion about US politics, while Colbert (who can make fun of politics pretty well himself) is Canadian so doesn't rank so hard on presidential candidates. Of course, if you asked him for his thoughts on Steven Harper instead... :-D
Happy birthday! I'll claim I got you something early, or maybe late for the year before?
heh heh... You're good either way. :)
I'm glad you survived turning 41; the alternative means you'd not be here to blog any more.
Yummy, the Outback!!!!!!!!
I haven't had a Bloomin' Onion in ages.

All that free computer stuff. Wayne hit the jackpot. All that computer stuff must have put you in Geek Hog Heaven since you are mighty smart with all that gadgetry and techy stuff.

That's odd about those pills looking different without someone notifying those who've been taking them on a regular basis.
I've heard of people getting the wrong pills, then taking them to their detriment. At least THAT wasn't the case. That would have been a REAL stupidity.
Yeah, that drug mixup fatality thing what she was trying to avoid, Jamie. :) And all those toys was giving me a warm fuzzy indeed :) and I keep finding myself ordering more items for it (the WiFi, more memory, and sometime I'll get a bigger hard drive)... stop me! Meantime neither Wayne nor his mother have done anything with their new laptops except ask me questions.

And does The Outback still serve Australian food? I'm sure they still have Blooming Onions but the menu has changed so much that I didn't see anything that I really really wanted. When quesadillas show up on The Outback's menu (which has happened), we're no longer down under.
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