Monday, May 21, 2007

Update Done (At Last)!

Well, it's done, finally. The overdue "spring" update is up and running. I'd intended to have this done by the first of May, but as usual way too many things (like life) got in the way.

Of course, this website is a continuing work in progress, and as such will never really be "done." I have a lot more to add, and in the coming weeks, you'll see some new content. I have a number of things I want to experiment with, so there's no telling what you'll find here.

I am planning a new section with some unique lighting and gift items you'll find nowhere else.

For now, enjoy the site, and drop in often.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Another Weekend Rockets By...


I guess it's true... Time flies by when you're having fun. Or at least when you don't have to go to work.

Friday ended with going to one of those wonderful customers that is under the impression that, for some reason, they are exempt from having their copier break down more than once a year. It breaks, they call in for service, then they call the sales manager, the service manager, and everyone else they can think of. Maybe they should call their therapist as well.

Well, it's - once again - been a very busy weekend. It's almost bedtime already; time to get some sleep in preparation for another Monday. Blah. I did manage to finish the two online courses I had to do, so I actually had a little time to do some of the things I wanted to do.

One of those was getting all the loose ends tied up on this website update. I've got all the new graphics in place, and it's pretty much ready to upload. I need to check it over again, just to try and catch the 2 or 3 little gremlins that always manage to slip through. I'm hoping to get it uploaded Monday evening sometime.

For now, It's time to head for bed. As I said: Another weekend is over. What a drag.


Friday, May 18, 2007

A Quick Friday Update

Just a quick note....

The on line order form is working! Yay! Got it working last night as a PHP based function, which IS included in my hosting plan. This being the case, I'll probably wait a while on the upgrade. It's still a good deal, but I think I'll hold off until I have a really good reason to upgrade. For now, what I have meets my needs.

So log on, and order those back issues!

More cool stuff coming - but for now, I've got to go do some work...


Thursday, May 17, 2007

More Website News

I've been trying to get the online order from for the Playboy back issues working again - thus far without success. I finally figured out why: the hosting plan I purchased does not support CGI functionality. This is in addition to not supporting Java. I guess I didn't research the hosting plans as well as I thought I had. I'm a little ticked off about this, but mostly at myself. There is a comparison chart on GoDaddy's site that shows all the plans and what is - and isn't - included. The next plan up from mine includes 100 gigs of space, 1000 gigs bandwidth, and includes both CGI and Java. It would cost me an extra $86 to upgrade to this plan for 3 years. That's still a bargain compared to my old hosting plan, so I'll probably go ahead and upgrade fairly soon.

In the meantime, I'll be making some changes to the Playboy order form. If you want to order any back issues of Playboy, just drop me an e-mail with the issues you want, and your preferred method of payment and shipping preference. I'll respond with your total and payment instructions.

In other news, I've finally got this computer back to full capacity. I've added a second removable hard drive rack for the C drive. It closes the gaping hole in the front of the case, it cools the drive efficiently, it's easy to change drives without opening the case, and it looks cool. I've also added a Canon Pixma 530 printer/MFP. This printer is absolutely amazing! I've printed several 8 X 10s on it, and they are magnificent! The two old HP printers I have do a great job on printing photos, but if you look at the prints under a magnifying glass, it's easy to tell they were printed on an inkjet. You can see the inkjet dots, tiny as they are. But with this Canon, you absolutely cannot tell they were printed on an inkjet - not even with a magnifier. I could put a chemical-based print next to a print from this machine, and you couldn't tell which was which - other than the colors being spot-on accurate with the Canon. This printer is awesome! And I love the batch-scanning feature, too - very handy!

Well, I'm going to sign off for now. As if I didn't already have way too many things to do, I have to complete two on-line courses for my job before next week. They are going to have a week-long training class on some new equipment, and I have to get a couple pre-requisite courses done before then. Studying - gah! Guess what, kids.... You think you're done once you're out of school? Not a chance. It goes on forever! :-D


Friday, May 11, 2007

A Friday Rant, and Some News!

It's a beautiful day, and I feel the need for a short Friday rant.

You know, I've been working on copiers off and on since 1981 - aside from the 8-year break I took to work for the Moo-Cow computer company. In all those years, many things have changed about the industry. Copiers are now mostly multi-function machines that not only copy, but print, fax, scan to the office computers, and generally do everything but make the coffee. But there is one thing that has remained a constant to this day: The stupid comments people make when they see the technician working on the machine.

I was working on a machine today with a frustratingly stubborn error code. While sitting on the floor, surrounded by copier parts, and digging around its insides, a couple guys came in the door, which is conveniently right next to the copier. In a feeble attempt to demonstrate his vast store of wit and cleverness - not to mention originality - the most intelligent of the two stopped to entertain me with his clever commentary: "I've got a 5-pound mallet in the car!" Without looking up, or interrupting my work I replied, "I'm glad to hear that." Since I didn't immediately drop my screwdriver and roll around on the floor in hysterics, he must have figured out that I was less than amused, and went away. I was able to complete the job successfully without benefit of further comedic entertainment.

I don't mean to sound like a foul-tempered curmudgeon, but here's the deal, folks: If you've been a copier technician for more than a few months, the chances are very good that you've heard all the usual "clever" comments at least a thousand times. Your highly clever remark about sledgehammers, hand grenades, dynamite, pushing it down the elevator shaft or stairwell, letting a train/semi-truck/tank/forklift/ect/etc/ run over it, request to "bring us a new one," or shove it up my backside are not, I repeat, NOT original. Despite your superior intellect, you are NOT the first person to make this type of "humorous" comment to the copier technician.

Amazingly, we do not find it in the least bit amusing to hear the same stale "clever remarks" 350,000 times a day while trying to concentrate on getting your machine back into working order. If you do feel the overwhelming need to interrupt the technician working on your office equipment, try commentary similar to this:

"Thank you for coming out to get us back in operation again. We appreciate it."

'Nuff said.

Moving along to other things, it's been a pretty intense week. I've had a number of "headache" service calls at work, and I've been putting the finishing touches on my newly resurrected 3 ghz AMD machine. I've given it a new network identity. It's network name is now 'Fawkes' after the Phoenix from the second Harry Potter movie. Like a phoenix, it has arisen from the ashes after a couple weeks ago.

I've installed some new hardware as well. I have a neat removable hard drive caddy for the D drive, and another on order to put the C drive in. These mount in the 5-inch drive bays in the front of the computer. The caddies are well ventilated; each has two fans, and they make it real handy to swap drives when the need arises. Once the second caddy gets here, and I install the C drive in it, I'm looking into getting another new drive to mirror the C drive on in case I have another crash.

I've also purchased a second Canon Pixma 530 printer/multifunction machine. These printers are awesome! I printed a photo on glossy 8 X 11 inch paper, and it is fantastic! you can place the print next to a chemical-based photo enlargement, and you absolutely cannot tell the difference! Now, I can't wait to take some time, and just get out and do some photography. And it has an incredibly cool scanning feature that lets you load a bunch of documents in the document feeder, and batch scan them. I do a lot of scanning, so this feature is great. I can load the documents, start the scan, then work on something else while it's scanning. Very cool!

In addition, I'm still working on the update for the website. I know I've been saying that for a long time, but it is coming, I promise! Stay tuned...


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Almost Back to Normal...

....Whatever "normal" is around here.

It's been a hell-a-sious last few days around the lair! Since the computer crash last Wednesday, I've been pretty much occupied with putting the pieces back together.

Everything is for the most part back as it was before. I still have a few things to do, but the essential stuff is all back on and operating. I tried to install the version of WinDVD that came with my first DVD burner a couple years ago, but I can't find the serial number so I guess I'll have to buy the full version. It looks like it will do some cool things the bundled version wouldn't. I'll wait a little while on that, though. The next bit of hardware will be another Canon Pixma 530 MFP for downstairs. I got one for Jo's computer, and it's awesome.

Jeeze - I have so many things to spend money on; I need a new stereo, and I'd like to replace the stereo in the van. It constantly errors out, and is extremely picky about which CDs it will play. It absolutely refuses to play a Lightscribe disc, and it's a crapshoot on most other CDs. Besides, I'd like to have a unit that will play MP3s, too.

At any rate, I've taken some steps to make things a little less disastrous if I have another crash. I've put all the driver discs and manuals for all the hardware on this computer into an envelope, and stored it in a safe place. It's just a giant pain in the butt to have to search this place top to bottom for every little driver I need.

Well, now that things are back up and running, I'm hoping to get the new website update underway, and completed soon. Keep checking back.


Making Progress (I Think...)

Spent most of today fighting with this stupid computer. When I first turned it on Saturday morning, it refused to see the boot drive. I reseated all the cables, and discovered the power supply fan wasn't running. I discovered that it had become disconnected, and reseated the connector. Finally got everything to boot up normally. Now it wants to re-boot itself intermittently - usually when I'm in the middle of a download or something. More than once today I've been tempted to take this thing out back and give it an attitude adjustment with a 12-gauge shotgun.

I exchanged the swappable hard drive mount that didn't work for a good one, and installed drive D in it. It's working fine - I like it, and may well get another for the boot drive.

I've been reinstalling all my software and getting it configured to work the way it did before. What a pain. This crash has been devastating - thank God I had all my most important stuff backed up!

Now, I'm going to bed. I am just exhausted.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Back Up and Running With XP!

Well, today I bought a new WD 80-gig drive to install as my boot drive. The drive installed fine, and I've just completed installing the Win-XP Pro I bought from Tiger a couple months ago. I've already activated it with Microsoft, so I'm all legal!

I haven't installed any programs yet - that will take some time. It will most likely be into the weekend before everything is set up the way I had it before. I've just completed installing all the drivers for the motherboard, video, audio, USB 2, and so on. Now I'll have to do some geeking around to get the networking part up to snuff. It's already working through the network, or I couldn't access my DSL - or type this update!

For now, I've got a couple more things to do - like put the old D-drive back in, and then I'm going to go to bed. Jo is at her mom's tonight so she can go with her to a doctor appointment tomorrow. So for tonight I'm a bachelor, sort of!

When I bought the hard drive today, I also bought a swappable hard drive rack. I had intended to use it for the D drive so I could easily swap out drives. But the stupid thing doesn't work, so back it goes tomorrow or Saturday.

Well, I'm going to savor this little victory, and get ready for bed!


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Computer Crash Update

Well, tonight sucked.

But, it could have been a lot worse. The installation of Win2000 on the temporary drive was successful. I had to fight it a little bit, but I was able to connect the failed drive as drive D. Windows kept wanting to run diagnostics on it, but I managed to bypass it. All it would have done would have been to take several hours just to tell me it couldn't read from sector so-and-so. I was able to rescue much of my vital information. All my Outlook stuff was backed up, and I was able to locate the backup file and transfer it to the D drive on the old GW 700 via my network. I also was able to save my CarTrak info (tracks my mileage and car expenses), IE favorites, and most of the stuff in the "My Documents" folder. Everything else can be reinstalled.

Now, I'll just have to buy a new hard drive, and I'll go ahead and install XP on it. I'll be spending most of the next couple nights, and probably most of the weekend putting all the pieces back together.

In retrospect, I guess I'm pretty lucky. I haven't actually bought a new hard drive in years. The stock of drives I've been using were all either taken out of other computers, or reformatted after being pulled from copiers. They have served me pretty well for the price, but tonight the price of using "Sanfordized" drives was finally extracted.

The failed drive has been added to the stack of other failed drives in my shop awaiting disassembly. I'll make sure the platters in this one go into some neat project I can display in my computer room.

Good Night.....

Semi-Disaster Strikes...

Well, crap!

As if I didn't already have plenty of things to stress me out, tonight, the C drive in my main computer decided now would be a really good time to shoot craps. Just what I needed.
Fortunately, I keep all my vital files on the D drive, an external hard drive, and on CDs and DVDs. Still, it's going to take some time to fully recover from this crash. I'll have to use my webmail for a few days to check my e-mail until I get everything put back together. Needless to say, this will cause a bit of a delay in getting the website updated.

At present, I have an old WD 3.4gig drive mounted as drive C, and I'm going to attempt to put Win 2000 on it as a very temporary recovery tool. I was able to spin up the old C drive on another computer, so I'll try to connect it as drive D just to see how much I can salvage from it. Mostly, I'm concerned about my Outlook stuff - e-mail addresses, notes, and so on. I have (or had) a backup program for Outlook, and I have all the vital stuff backed up. It's just a matter of locating it. I'm hoping I can recover the stuff I had in My Documents as well.

I'm weighing the options for the post-recovery period. I had intended to purchase another barebone system this summer, and install the XP on it that I bought a couple months ago, while continuing to run Win2000 on this one. Now, I don't know. If my experiment with W2000 works tonight, it will pretty much reassure me that the computer itself is OK. If that's the case, I may just go ahead and get a new hard drive, install XP on it, and wait until fall to get another system. If I do that, I'll either get a manufactured system with Vista, or install Vista on one I build. I'm leaning towards this latter option right now. If it doesn't work, I don't know... I may be forced to get a whole new system. The three old Gateway systems I have (the most powerful is a 700mhz) are all about ready to expire. they won't run anything more up-to-date than Win98, which is - as we all know - unstable as hell. These old systems all have their own little idiosyncrasies, and are like a group of spoiled children. I was hoping to retire them soon, before this happened. Maybe someday.

At any rate, I'll be operating at far less than optimum capacity for a while. This won't kill me, but I'll be pretty well crippled for a while.