Happiness in a Box 
Thursday, 24 July, 2008, 02:15
Posted by Administrator
The computer I've mentioned has been delivered to its new owner: my sister.

It's actually a pretty good box. Turns out that, despite being the least expensive computer in my parents' house, it's the fastest. Its video card isn't the best, though -- my mom's is a Radeon X1600, which is faster than the GeForce 8500. That said, it doesn't matter for my sister because all she's doing is watching TV (the computer's basically a DVR with Windows).

Now that I have a BlackBerry at work (which I carry around all the time, of course), I can compare the performance of AT&T versus T-Mobile. Signal strength is exactly the same on both phones as I sit here on the sofa, but a block east of here the AT&T phone has a marginally stronger signal.

Lately virtualization has been the name of the game at work. I had messed with virtualization years ago -- I installed Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 on my home computer and loaded Red Hat Linux on it. That helped me a lot at school because all of the programming projects had to run on Red Hat, as that's what the TAs graded the projects on. This time around, though, hardware support is required; thankfully the servers in questions are dual- or quad-core Xeons with plenty of RAM. Windows Server 2008 is the operating system of choice in this case, with CargoWise edi being a Microsoft shop. It's working quite well -- our backup ADS, WSUS, and Team Foundation Server, and two SQL Server 2008 machines are all virtual. I'm going to open up the server and, if possible, pop in a second quad-core Xeon and eight more gigabytes of RAM to give it some more punch.

Our primary ADS is a physical box running Windows Server 2003 R2, and it doesn't have nearly enough hard disk space to host more than one "major" virtual machine. I'm thinking of P2V-ing the primary ADS and beefing up the hardware in that box as well, so that we can virtualize additional servers. Why have racks upon racks of servers when you can have 20U worth of blade servers, with multitudes of virtual boxes?

That's all I've got for today.
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Six-foot dryer lint ducts for the LOSE 
Saturday, 19 July, 2008, 20:22
Posted by Administrator
This morning I figured I'd pull out the dryer to clean out the lint duct before I did any laundry. I wasn't terribly shocked to see a flexible lint duct, but I was surprised by the length: it was about 6 feet long. The distance between the dryer's exhaust and the duct that leads outside is a foot and a half. A six-foot duct is overkill.

I un-hooked it and the thing was full of lint, as if these guys hasn't cleaned it out for 5 years. Furthermore the duct was so fragile it practically broke apart when I touched it. So ... off to Ace Hardware. I grabbed an indoor dryer vent, which traps lint in a small quantity of water, and installed that. The only side-effect, which admittedly does piss me off, is that it gets uncomfortably warm in the laundry room when the dryer is going -- an obvious consequence of the hot and humid exhaust now being trapped inside the house.

I've assembled the computer I mentioned in the previous post. The case it came with was bad -- the four clips that held the front face in place were broken, so there was nothing to hold the face on. I ended up using an Apevia X-QPACK Micro-ATX desktop case I had laying around instead.

Interestingly enough the CPU didn't come with a heatsink, even though it was a retail box. I procured a Zalman CNPS8000, which is quite a tight fit; it is touching the northbridge heatsink as it sits, and it's blocking the first two RAM slots, but it fits :)

Now that it's assembled I'm running Memtest86+ to determine whether or not the 3GB of RAM I have installed is good. I'll probably let that run all night ... can't be too careful with RAM :)
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Mid-Summer Naptime 
Friday, 18 July, 2008, 02:01
Posted by Administrator
I walked into the office this morning, over an hour after I woke up, and was apparently visibly tired. After a quantity of caffeine I was fully awake, though -- not sure what's going on. Looks like something is causing me to get less-than-restful sleep, so I feel like I need a nap halfway through the day.

Julie got a haircut, and had her hair done in a new style. It's shorter than I've ever seen it, but I like it. Need to get used to it, though, because she's had shoulder-length or longer hair since I met her :)

As I see the gas prices rise I realize that my decision to trade the RAV4 in for a Civic Hybrid came at exactly the right time. I have about 200 miles on the odometer since I last filled up, and the car has averaged 46.5MPG -- that is twice what I got with the RAV4. The Civic's a bit more fun to drive too, I must admit, despite being 1.1L down in the displacement department. It's more responsive than the RAV, probably due to lack of traction control (though Civics aren't exactly known for their torque to begin with).

I get to build another computer, too. It's an Athlon 64 X2 5000+ with 3GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, a 512MB GeForce 8500, and a GeForce 8200-based motherboard, among other things. The cool thing about the GeForce 8200 is that it has the GeForce Boost feature -- the way I understand this is that, under light load, the 8200's integrated graphics do the work; under heavy load the 8500 is brought into the picture. So, essentially, the 8500 is switched off unless it's necessary, at which point its performance is COMBINED with that of the 8200 (which, being an integrated GPU, isn't that high to begin with).

Fun times.
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June is over?! 
Monday, 30 June, 2008, 23:40
Posted by Administrator
This month was, for some reason, the shortest month EVER. I realize February was one day shorter but this one flew by.

I got a new workstation in the office. It's pretty quick -- for some reason it feels quicker than my home machine, even though the specs are pretty much the same. I'm glad I switched back to a desktop, though; I missed the dual 20" displays when I was using the laptop. For some reason 1680x1050 on a 15" display just isn't the same as 1680x1050 on a 20". The other cool thing is that both monitors look exactly the same -- I guess connecting them both to DVI ports helps.

Saw Wall-E over the weekend. I have recommended it to pretty much everyone I have seen today, simply because it rocked my socks.

Still lovin' the Civic Hybrid -- no buyer's remorse! The funny thing is that I've needed to explain the difference between the Honda and Toyota hybrid systems to pretty much everyone I meet.

This concludes my final June post.
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Firefox 3.0 
Friday, 20 June, 2008, 03:20
Posted by Administrator
I downloaded Firefox 3.0 yesterday, contributing my part to the 8 million+ downloads. Drop in the bucket, yes, but ZOMG IT'S NEW AND EXCITING

Not really .... oh well. I think it's more interesting that Firefox 3 was hacked shortly after its release. Well, maybe not hacked ... but a vulnerability was discovered. Oh well. It was bound to happen.

I'm taking Julie to her first baseball game on Saturday. Our local real estate agent (she lives near our house) sent a Cubs/Sox game calendar to us in January. Earlier this year I asked Julie to point to a date on the calendar and she pointed at June 21st -- Cubs/Sox at Wrigley. So I grabbed 3 tickets (Bob, Julie, and me) and we're going. It will be fun times, I don't give a damn if it's raining or anything.

So ... good times.
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