Old News: February 1st, 2003 to February 11, 2003

11:08 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
11 Feb. 2003 (Tue); Post #257
I downloaded this movie, [sic] S1m0ne, that was in two parts (about 700 MB each). Each one was an AVI, but I couldn't get video. So, I decided I needed to figure out what codec the files used. I downloaded a fantastic program a couple months ago that does just that, but I couldn't find it. I thought I had put a link to it on my web site, but apparently not. Well, here it is now: AVIcodec — a great program for finding out what codecs (both video and audio) an AVI file uses. Turns out S1m0ne uses Xvid MPEG-4 for video and regular old AC3 DVM for audio. If you need an Xvid decoder for Windows, try this site (Doom9.net; get FFDshow under "Filters"). Don't go to xvid.org; they only cater to Linux users.

I watched Ghost World last night. It's an odd movie. For some reason, I liked it. I can't really say why... it doesn't have any action, the ending is pretty unsatisfying, and the meaning is muddy at best. I need to think about it more.

I was talking to someone in a chat room the other night about books we'd read, and I started making a list of books I wanted to read. A couple are his suggestions, a few are just ones I've read reviews of or heard about in other ways. Here they are (this is more for my notes than for anyone else's information... I'm afraid I might lose the TXT with this info):
Rucker, Rudy: The Master of Space and Time
Gould, Steve: Jumper
Grimwood, Ken: Replay
Turtledove, Harry: The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century
Hawking, Stephen: A Brief History of Time
Heinlein, Robert A.: Time Enough for Love: The Lives of Lazarus Long
I'd alphabetize those by author's last name, but it seems like a lot of work for nothing. Meh. I finished Maximum Light last night. Overall, it was a decent book. Not Kress's best work, but still a good read. I got a little tired of the Cameron Atuli character; all he ever thinks about is dancing. At least Shana Walders was a little more three-dimensional. Of course, Nick Clementi (who's really the main character, I suppose) was the most interesting, and the closest to Kress's usual portrayl of important people (like Leisha Camden, Billy Washington, et al from the Sleepless trilogy).

Now I'm reading Heinlein's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. I'm only a dozen pages in or so, but it's already interesting. Apparently we disturbed the CAT5 running between my parents' house and mine when we cleaned up a wire mess and took out some fencing on Sunday. So, I had to go out there tonight and fix it. There was something wrong with the female-female adapter I made. So, after a failed attempt at cutting the electrical tape and garbage bags surrounding the section, I went to Home Depot and got some modular jacks, a punchdown tool (they really are much better than doing it with screwdrivers), and a flashlight (it has a neat magnetic attachment on the underside so you can stick it to a metal surface). I used the CAT6 Drew gave me last summer to make the new 3' female-female adapter. And once again, my parents have internet access. Oooh.

Um. Can't think of anymore stuff to write. Today's MP3: Asereje - Las Ketchup (english).mp3 (3:33).

3:16 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
11 Feb. 2003 (Tue); Post #256
Hey, post #two-to-the-eighth-power. #100 in hexidecimal. #100,000,000 in binary. Ooooh.

Saw Phill put up a donate button on his website. Well, through the magic of copy & paste (Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, just like the pros), so have I! Heh. I actually donated money to Phill. A whopping $0.02. Why, at current interest rates, if he invested that in a 1-year CD with automatic roll-over, in 20 years he could have... A = 0.02 * (1 + [0.019 / 1]) ^ (20 * 1)... a dollar forty-five! To make $100,000, he'd only have to wait (log (100,000 / 1.45) / (1 * log [1 + (0.019 / 1)]))... another 592 years! See, in that light, it's a pretty substantial gift I've donated to him, isn't it? Boy, when Phill's 632, he'll be thanking me alright.

I can't imagine why you'd want to give me money, but now you can! Over the internet, no less. Aha. Oh, but some ppl do owe me money... let's see... this donate button could come in handy for Beefy ($18.25), Phillip ($10), Shea ($14), Ryan ($3.25), and/or Hanwool ($7).

Today's MP3: Bloodhound Gang - Why's Everybody Always Pickin' On Me.mp3 (3:21).

10:14 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
10 Feb. 2003 (Mon); Post #255
[Note: The following post is pretty much just a lot of ranting and complaining. Feel free to skip it if that kinda stuff doesn't appeal to you.]
Most computer hardware review or "modding" sites seem to be run by 15-year-old idiots with horrible grammar that are capable of little more than retyping the information they find in the user's manual. And there're dozens of them. If you want a fairly detailed roster, just take a look at the "affiliates" list that every one of them proudly displays on the left hand side of their home page. This waste of space actually exemplifies one of the main problems with these kinds of sites: a definite lack of content. These places are desperate for material. Do you know how many Mouse Bungee reviews I've seen? Fan grill reviews? Mouse pad reviews?

There are very few respectable review/modding sites. Tom's Hardware Guide is one. So are 3dGameMan.com, AnandTech, and Overclockers.com. The rest are pretty much unreadable crap crafted with minimal effort. Some tips on how to spot a crap-review site:
  1. The word "pimp" appears somewhere in the title.
  2. They review any of the following accessories: rheobuses, mouse pads, fan grills, acrylic PSU covers, keyboard-lights with USB connectors. How can your write more than three sentences about any of these products?
  3. The owners use GIF smileys in their "news" posts.
  4. More than half their posts are about other people's reviews.
  5. They con readers into designing their logos or page templates for them.
  6. The "staff" section of their case gallery is filled with shoddy systems they didn't build themselves. Maybe running Windows ME.
Anyway. I get pretty fed up with these places. The only semi-useful thing they do is take pictures of things, and sometimes not even that. But, whatever. Later.

12:30 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
10 Feb. 2003 (Mon); Post #254
I went to that new Mongolian Grill restaurant on Court St. in Pasco today. The food was amazing! I will definitely eat there again. It's pretty inexpensive, too. Of course, they make it right there in front of everyone and you get to pick what meats, veggies, sauces, etc. go into your meal. The portions are surprisingly large.

Ripped some more posts out of the ground with the tractor out front. Also, cleaned up this big mess of tangled wire (some of it barbed) that had been in the corner of the pasture. Had a GURPS game for Hanwool, Drew, Beefy, and Ryan around three. Ryan is playing a new character who apotheosized into the god of machines (Michanimatos). This is a new god, one not mentioned in RL Greek mythology. Apparently, new gods occasionally come into existence through some unknown effect. The only example cited so far has been Ilektrismos, the god of electricity, who was first sighted sometime in the 19th century.

I downloaded a bunch of high-quality DVD rips (of course, I own the original DVD, wink wink). I've got 20.2 gigabytes of them now. I just finished watching the worst one a few minutes ago. Actually, it's the worst movie I've ever seen. Ever. Freddy Got Fingered is absolute drek. Look up the cast list on the movie's IMDb entry. I have newfound disgust for every actor who starred in this film. The notion that they could have read the script and still decided to take the role shows that they are all depraved, desperate, money-grubbing fleskepannes. I am astounded that this movie is only number 73 on IMDb's bottom 100 list. Prior to Freddy, the worst movie I'd ever seen was probably The Pest, starring John Leguizamo. I don't count Kazaam and Spice World 'cause I never watched them the whole way through.

I'd describe a scene from the movie to illustrate its sheer stupidity, but most of it was too ...sick. OTOH, having watched it, Van Wilder looks like a true masterpiece. Today's MP3: Weezer - Buddy Holly.mp3 (2:39).

1:06 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
9 Feb. 2003 (Sun); Post #253
I had a triple cheeseburger from Dairy Queen earlier that was nothing short of excellent. My only complaint is that they don't put lettuce in it. Anyway. I'm sick. Something's going around... had some dry heaves this morning, coughing, congestion. Well, you don't want to hear the symptoms. But my geology prof. has it, Phill's got it, etc.

My dad and I tore down the fence around one of the pastures out front. It actually looks quite a bit nicer now (the old fence was pretty shoddy). I'd post pictures, but it's dark. And cold. (29° Fahrenheit locally ATM.)

3:45 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
8 Feb. 2003 (Sat); Post #252
GMed that one group's session. Some headway was made, but Ryan's character, Ephialtes, died. It's too bad; with the exception of Hanwool's character (Pheme), he was probably the most developed. Anyway, I'm going to try to figure out some kind of rule or adjustment to help bring his new character up to speed. (e.g. starting him off as a 2nd-stage god, awarding him a bonus percentage of his old character's point value each session, etc.)

Watched a good DVD-rip of Changing Lanes. It was pretty good, but I'm still a little puzzled by the film's message... it seems a little conflicted. Well, I have Psych 306 tomorrow, so g'night. Today's MP3: Barry Manilow - They Dance!.mp3 (2:59).

5:20 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
7 Feb. 2003 (Fri); Post #251
I just realized I finished post #250 on Tuesday... that's quite a few. I've been working on the new rackmount system, which I named Olivia (Chesty's the 1700+, Tabatha's the 1.7 GHz P4, DeadLois's the 1400, and Olivia's a 2000+). I ran PCMark2002 on most of the systems... here's the stats breakdown:

CPU score
Memory score
HDD score

Kinda surprising results. Tabatha beating Chesty on memory is odd since Chesty has a gig of PC2100 DDR RAM while Tabatha just has 512 MB of SD. Of course, Olivia's only got 256 MB of PC2100 (JD's got my other 256 MB stick). The CPU scores are even more perplexing. Olivia should be the highest. Need to test DeadLois.

I started Nancy Kress's Maximum Light a couple days ago. I'm halfway through it, but it's pretty short (only like 250 pages). The setting is kind of dull, but the story is interesting. The characters are pretty interesting, but I think that's one of Kress's specialties. I really like the way she goes into detail about various technologies and effects (e.g. Endocrine blockers/disrupters and vivifacture in Maximum Light).

Earlier, I went to Phillip's house and watched Swordfish on his media system (very spiff 4.1 surround-sound, plus a flat-screen SONY TV). Good movie. I was surprised, given the bad reviews I had heard and the fact that Travolta's in it. Of course, they really fudged the computer jargon, but that's to be expected. Turns out the "DS3" lines they talk about actually exist... it's just another term for T-3 lines. 45 Mbps... mmm.

Then we watched an episode of Deep Space 9 (season 5, ep. 27, IIRC). It was good. That's when the Cardassians took back DS9/Terok Nor. You know DS9 Season 1 comes out on DVD on Feb. 25? I'd like to get it, but it's a hundred bucks... and I'm already buying up the Stargate SG-1 DVD sets (Season 3 comes out in June, according to Stargate SG-1 Information Archive). Plus, I kinda want to get Black Adder: The Complete Collector's Set first.

Anyway, Phill and I then went to Shari's. I had the French Dip & Fries with a dinner salad (they actually had good Rogueford dressing). Later today, I get to GM Aaron, Phillip, Kevina (Beefy's little brother), Ryan, and Drew. They're trying to get Ryan's brain fixed, which I explained in more detail a while ago. Maybe a LAN party Saturday. Beefy and Ryan might go to Seattle for a comic convention on Sunday (I'm gonna get them to take my Penny Arcade book if they do). Today's MP3: Madonna - Die Another Day.mp3 (3:45).

9:54 p.m. [GMT-8:00]
4 Feb. 2003 (Tue); Post #250
Oh, yeah, the space shuttle blew up. Or disintegrated. Oh well, I'm sure you all knew already anyway. Really, the point of making such a statement is so I can remember what was happening at the time of a given post. Isn't that really the point of having a blog? So you can read it ten years later, swaddled in nostalgia? Well, I dunno. Anyway, the spaceship burnt up coming through the atmosphere. Debris's been found in east Texas... a patch, the nose cone, a seat, two tanks, a syringe, an arm, etc.

Yesterday, I took a shower and my face dried out really badly. I went to the bank, realized I locked my keys in my car by accident, went to Rite Aid to buy some Gold Bond Medicated Lotion, and called Mount's Lock & Key (actually, I called my parent's home and my mom's cell first, to see if they'd bring me my spare set, but no one picked up). Anyway, $35 later, my car's unlocked. So I went to Fred Meyer to buy some clothing. Got a couple pairs of pants, a shirt, socks and unmentionables. Turns out they took out the apparel-only registers, so I had to use the general ones... took forever. I ended up missing Geology because of it.

Last night, I built my rackmount system... turns out the motherboard I bought off eBay, a Gigabyte GA-7DX, is a Revision 2.2. An OEM board built for some computer company that no longer exists. Built for special, custom hardware. With the J14 jumper block removed. The jumper block that the power switch, reset button, HD LED, et al connect to. In the Rev 2.2 board, those functions (well, some of them) are rerouted to the J29 block. Good luck finding the key for those pins... if anyone has a Revision 2.2 GA-7DX, here's a powerpoint slide explaining the front panel configuration. I gave the seller a neutral rating for poor packing and failure to mention the revision number (Rev 2.2 is an engineer sample; it does not have an FSB switch or an AMR slot, and it looks like the onboard audio may not be functional — all things that would normally make a board unsuitable for distribution).

Anyway, I got the system made. Current specs are: Athlon XP 2000+ (currently detected as a 1250 MHz Duron for some reason), 256 MB PC2100 DDR RAM, 64 MB ATI Radeon 7500 AIW, Linksys LNE100TX NIC, 60 GB Maxtor HD, 16x DVD-ROM. There's a picture below.

Went to The Bookworm today. It's a used book store in Richland. Got The Exotic Enchanter by L. Sprague deCamp, Stinger and Maximum Light, both by Nancy Kress, and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein. All for $13.81.

Um... did you know that, as of today, Yugoslavia is no longer a nation? Today's MP3: Cowboy Mouth - Jenny Says.mp3 (3:17).

6:34 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
1 Feb. 2003 (Sat); Post #249
The space shuttle Columbia may have just exploded over Dallas, TX. NASA lost contact with them, declared an official emergency. They were wrapping up a 16-day research mission. See CNN's page for more information. In other news, why am I up so freaking early?

1:00 a.m. [GMT-8:00]
1 Feb. 2003 (Sat); Post #248
Just saw the movie About Schmidt. Dear Lord, if you have not seen this film yet, don't. Let me save you two hours and four minutes that you will never get back: there's an old guy, his wife dies, he doesn't like his son-in-law, lots of awkward moments, no real resolution. Drew, Hanwool, Beefy, Ryan, and I went and saw it. Ebert & Roeper said it was great. Agh. Actually, it was pretty much agreed that if the movie was condensed into about 20 minutes, it would have been okay.

Anyway. I finished Lullaby yesterday. It was really fantastic, but a bit graphic at times. I'd like to see a sequel (and the ending nearly sets one up), but I'm sure Palahniuk won't write one. I like stories that involve magic in a modern-day setting, but of course this book isn't really about the magic. Palahniuk's style is kinda hard to get into (e.g. he uses a lot of fragmented or run-on sentences, dialogue isn't presented in the usual manner, etc.), but once you get through a few chapters, it becomes easy to read. Good book.

But now I'm stuck without anything to read except my Network+ guide. I should get started on that. I read some yesterday (mostly about frames and network functions/NIC-NOS interaction). Now I'm about to start the whole OSI-layer thing. I need to get going on that... I'll prolly try to arrange to take the test when Phill does (I think he's going to take it when he finishes the networking class he's taking at CBC).

I downloaded Maya and have been trying to learn it. The first image below is my first render; the second is some kind of attempt at a spaceship or something... it's a great program. Much better than LightWave, IMHO. I'd still like to try out 3D Studio Max 4 though. Today's MP3: Bach - Brandenberg Concerto No. 3, Mvt. 1.mp3 (6:36).

1st Maya Render 2nd Maya Render

""There's one born every minute." — P.T. Barnum