Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Monday, May 30, 2005

“Happiness is running through a field of boobies.... and tripping”

Cheers to JR.

Monday, May 30, 2005 6:13:51 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Misc#
Sunday, May 29, 2005

Have you ever left a load of laundry in the washer for a couple days? Have you ever done it where the ambient temperature is over 80f? ugh. stink. I went down to the laundry cupboard in Seb's bathroom and put the same load back on, put in a little more soap and a scoop of Oxi Clean just in case there were some greeblies starting to grow in there.

I came back up here and got my ironing board out, got my shirts & pants that needed to be pressed and was waiting for this load of laundry to do it all at once. I sat down and checked my email and stuff, and then grabbed a water bottle to go fill up for the iron and put my laundry into the dryer. As soon as I started down the stairs I knew something was wrong.

The little blankie that I keep on the floor under Tweeter's cage was wet. I thought “How the hell did he spill his water dish? and that's a lot of water... then a couple more steps down I saw that it wasnt just the blankie that was wet, the whole floor was wet... I got down to the bottom of the stairs and splashed into a half-inch of water. My next thought was the sink, but no it was empty. The hot water tank? Could be. I walked back through the kitchen and I heard the washing machine filling... I sloshed through Seb's bedroom into the bathroom and saw the washing machine spitting forth a waterfall of water down it's front. The dial was stuck on rinse.

I shut it off, had a 30 second panic attack, and then thought about a course of action. All I had was a swiffer (useless) and a little sponge-headed mop. Wonderful. I made a couple phone calls looking for a squeegee, but no one seemed to have one. HazMat Jenny said she had one at work, and John was on his way to the airport to drop some peeps off so I called him and asked him to drop by her office and pick it up. Meanwhile I put some towels down in strategic locations to act as dams, and they more or less worked and let me mop in one area without all the water running back into where I just mopped, sort of. John showed up with the squeegee and I got to work in the living room.

I got the bulk of the water out by about 2:00 and took a break to eat some cold, leftover pizza and have a cold drink. It's now 3:45, Seb should be home soon, and we can tackle his bedroom together. I didn't wanna go tearing through there picking shit up and moving it around and mopping, just in case he has anything in there he doesnt want anyone to see. We're gonna have to move the entertainment unit out and mop behind it, and same with the couch, but the bulk of the work is done already.

Around 11:00 I decided I was going to go to Canton for dinner. Their Honey Garlic Chicken is top of my “comfort food” list now. THEN I'm going to get my ironing started so I have something presentable to work tomorrow and probably fall asleep soon after that.

My big plan for today, other than to get the wireless network sorted out finally, was to give my bicycle a once-over and go for a ride to prepare myself for trying to ride it in to work tomorrow. (I've had it with West Bay Road traffic) I guess I'll have to put that off til Tuesday or Wednesday.

Sunday, May 29, 2005 12:48:51 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Rants#
Friday, May 27, 2005
Hello? who? Cable & Wireless? Sure, hang on... "HEY C&W, it's for you, it's the 21st century calling, they wanna know why you're still in the last century"
Friday, May 27, 2005 6:52:34 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [2] | Cayman | Links | Rants | Tech | Gadgets#
Thursday, May 26, 2005

Although this isn't much of a rant, it's more of an observation. I've been leaving later and later these days. 7:30 one morning, and between 7:15 and 7:30 on average. I still get to Cafe Del Sol by about 7:45 and have some time to kill, but less and less the later it gets (Thank you, Captain Obvious).

Yesterday I left at 7:20 and there was actually traffic on the dyke road. Not so much ON the dyke road itself, but there was a good ten cars waiting to merge back into traffic on West Bay Road. Merging is a pretty foreign concept, it seems. Some people will stop and let four or five cars in ahead of them, causing traffic to back up behind them, and then the next ten or so cars behind will follow through bumper to bumper and not let anyone in, which causes backups for people trying TO merge in. It's a never-ending battle that's been going on as long as I've had a car down here, and I'm somewhat resigned to the fact that it's just never going to change, education of drivers notwithstanding. Younger drivers seem to have even LESS patience than anyone over, say, 30 years old so it's just going to get worse.

This morning the line of cars waiting to merge from the dirt road through the West Bay backcountry was about 35 cars long and stretched all the way to the bend where the dyke road comes out. I was shocked, but not THAT shocked. My first reaction was “better start leaving earlier again” but what really made my blood boil was the asshole who at the beginning was behind me.

When I turned off of Batabano near Morgan's Harbor onto the little road that's still paved, he beeped at me. My back window is pretty dirty so I looked to see if it was someone I knew... 50 yards down the road, he beeped at me more insistently, so I thought maybe I had a flat tire or something, so I checked my mirrors, loosened my grip on the steering wheel to see if it pulled, etc. Finally, I went straight near the turnoff to the dirt road so that he could pull alongside me, and the little cocksucker used that opportunity to PASS ME on the inside and cut in front of me onto the dirt road. He then got stuck behind another car and was in front of me all the way through.

When we made the last turn and saw the line of cars, rather than stop he just pulled into the oncoming traffic lane, drove right up to the road and then forced his way in cutting off the person that was (trying to) merge onto the main road. Three or four other cars followed him with the “Well if someone else is going to get away with it, so am I!” kind of stupid mob mentality.

People like that really piss me off. Unfortunately there's no shortage of them.

Thursday, May 26, 2005 5:45:14 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Cayman | Rants#
Monday, May 23, 2005
The continuing stoooooooooory of a quack, who's gone to the dogs...
Monday, May 23, 2005 7:50:17 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | Gadgets | Travel#
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Tropical Storm Adrian
Wednesday, May 18, 2005 5:31:52 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane | Links#
Friday, May 13, 2005

How exactly does one erase their debt the Christian way? is it any different from, say the Confucianist way or the Buddhist way? Is getting out of debt any different for Jewish people or agnostics?

How about the church of DontBeSoSpendyAndGetYourselfInDebtForStupidShitInTheFirstPlace?


Friday, May 13, 2005 12:35:37 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Misc#
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
...or how I learned a lot more about Linksys internal workings than I ever thought I'd want to.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005 4:57:33 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | Linux | Wireless | Gadgets#
Monday, May 9, 2005

Well, I'm still not entirely sure WHAT happened to my hard drive. The drive was still there, but Windows wouldnt recognize it and said “Drive F: is not formatted, would you like to format it now?” uhhhh NO! I figured I'd give Knoppix a whirl, as I had read about it last week. I downloaded the torrent of it (686mb in about 60 mins) and burned the image to a CD, popped it in and booted up.

Knoppix came up and found all my hardware, even my USB drives that were plugged in. The only gripe I had with it at that point was that the resolution was low, 640x480 I think. I probably could have entered one of the “cheat codes” that comes with it to up the resolution on startup, but whatever, it worked.

The odd thing was that it found my hard drive at /dev/hdb1 and it showed the entire file structure and all the files... my biggest gripe of the day came when I found out that I couldn't write to an NTFS disk with it. Apparently there is a way to do it, and I googled around for a bit. You're supposed to click on the K, go to Knoppix, Utilities and there's a program called CaptiveNTFS that lets you read and write to an NTFS partition, but it wasnt there. I read something about Windows XP SP2 “breaking” captive NTFS with a new version of the NTOS kernel file, so I was pretty much dead in the water. I thought about doing it 1gb at a time with my USB drive but gave up on that after one revolution through that process. I thought maybe I could do it 4 times, burn a DVD, do it 4 more times, burn a DVD but if that was the case, I'd still be sitting there now with cobwebs in my ears trying to copy off all the data.

In the end I used the network to do it. Knoppix had enough Samba stuff built into it that I could connect to a share on my network and copy-and-paste the files over the network. I got a full 11mbps when I was copying from my Knoppix desktop to my XP laptop and then via USB2 to another hard drive (even though I have an entirely 802.11g network capable of 'theoretical' 54mbps throughput) and was getting 1MB/sec throughput. I turned off my wireless radio on my laptop and plugged it in via cat5 ethernet to theoretically get a max of 100mbps speed. I DID get 20mbps and 2MB/sec transfer rate, so I was content with that.

I managed to save all the TV shows I haven't watched yet, and all the data files I had stored on the drive as well. I sacrificed a few movies I had stored on the drive, my backup of my Mp3 library, my backup of my photo library and a bunch of other “assorted” video clips that I was storing there for network sharing purposes.

Once all that was done, I rebooted back into Windows and used disk manager to delete the partition and create and format a new partition on that HD. It seemed to work, and the disk is now a pristine, empty 155gb again, but I'm not sure that I trust it with 'critical' data. I don't know why it failed. The weird thing is that my previous Maxtor 160gb drive that was in this enclosure failed the same way, about a year ago. I'm wondering if maybe it's because we're approaching summer, and the tempurature in the apt is too high during the day when there's no A/C on and the computer is still running. I'll have to look around for some temperature monitoring software and run some tests on it to see if I can get a baseline on the temperature in my case during the day compared to at night.

Monday, May 9, 2005 5:51:36 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Tech | Linux | Microsoft#
Saturday, May 7, 2005

My laptop is in dire need of an OS refresh. It takes forever to do just about anything. It's a real pain in the ass. I keep putting it off because backing everything up, making a list of things to re-install, then actually doing it and then re-installing all the apps takes a long time.

My external hard drive was getting full, too. 155gb and I had something like 13mb free. Now that a lot of tv seasons are over, (which I was waiting for) I made preparations to start backing things up to DVD. I did that this morning and had a few folders with 4.3gb in each that would fit on a DVD. I fired up Nero and it crashed. I fired it up again, and it crashed. I tried to uninstall Nero and the control panel applet crashed. Things were a bit flakey, so I shut down and restarted the computer. This is a fairly fresh install, by the way. just a few weeks old. so when I restarted, it crashed out again. I started to do a little further investigation, and realized that my F: Drive (BigDog) was saying it was Local Disk (F:) Odd.... I tried to open it and windows crashed. uh-oh.

A few little tests and it was confirmed: Bigdog was toast. With 150gb of data on it. I went looking in my downloads folder for a recovery utility, and of course they all boot from DOS... which means I need a diskette. Who the hell has diskettes anymore? Computers arent even coming with them anymore, you have to buy it and pay extra.

SO, I'm trying something new, while I wait for some floppy diskettes (Johnny Rotten is in town and picking me up some so I should get em in a couple hours). Im downloading a disk image of Knoppix. Knoppix is a flavor of Linux that's designed to boot and run entirely from your CD drive. It comes with the Linux kernel, KDE and then a buttload of applications on it, including data recovery tools for other OSes. There was an article I read online last week (I cant remember where or I'd post a link) about using it for windows system recovery, so Im going to give it a shot. It can't hurt, the data is already lost, right?

I unthrottled my BitTorrent client so Im downloading it at 150KB/sec, to the detriment of everyone else trying to use my network. :)

I'll post up how it worked and any snags I run into here later... what a great way to spend a weekend! (not)

Saturday, May 7, 2005 2:07:09 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | Linux#
Friday, May 6, 2005

If you know me very well at all, you'll know that Octopi are my favoritest sea creatures. I just dig 'em. I came across an article in the Anchorage Press about octopi and it was a really good article, about how they had two giant pacific octopi and got them to mate in captivity, which hadn't produced any viable offspring before. It had some cool pictures, and the article was actually quite long. I read the whole thing on my lunch break and I just felt the need to share it with you.

Looking at Layla's tank, it seems impossible. The screen is so fine you couldn't slip a pinky through it. The last time Layla was weighed she was about 16 pounds, and she's considerably bigger now. A mature female giant Pacific octopus can weigh as much as 50 pounds; a male, 100 pounds or more. Yet they can pass through any opening as wide as their beak, which is centered above their legs, at the base of their heads, and is about the size of a parrot's beak. An octopus beak is the hardest part of its body. It's the only thing that keeps Layla from squeezing through an opening as small as a napkin ring.”

Friday, May 6, 2005 11:20:57 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | Underwater#
Monday, May 2, 2005

So the IIHF World Championships of Hockey are on for the next two weeks. Having been going through hockey withdrawal lately, I was excited at the prospect of seeing some good hockey on TV. I checked around, and heard that Hammerheads and Coconut Joe's and some other bar had gone in together and 'sponsored' the tournament, so that CITN, the local channel, would broadcast the games on Channel 27 (or channel 11 if you don't have cable)

The only problem is that due to existing committments, the only time they could show the Canada Latvia game was Saturday night at 2am. Uhh, the bars (who paid for them to broadcast it) arent open them, dumbasses. On top of that, they werent showing any of the games live, and something else happened last night so that they werent going to show the US-Slovenia game, either.

In a panic, Wammer from Hammerheads called up Little Bucket and said “This is bad. We need to get these games on the screens down here. Do you know anyone who can help out?” Guess who she called...

Since cable and satelite were out, we were left with trying to come up with more creative ways to get the games on. I stumbled across Mediazone who offered an all-access pass to all the games, streamed live or time-shifted over the internet. Johnny Rotten and I went to Hammerheads yesterday after brunch to talk to Wammer about it and saw that we had all the neccesary requirements to pull it off (John did a lot of wiring and stuff for them, so he already knew their A/V system.

We returned at 6:30 and proceeded to set up the stream from their Wireless Access Point in the office to a laptop out at the bar. We used the S-Video output on the laptop to output the video to a DVD recorder, and from the DVD recorder to an RF Modulator. From the RF Modulator, we split the outut and sent one signal to their DLP Projector for the 20' screen and also into their coaxial A/V system and “broadcast” the game to EVERY TV in the joint, on channel 4.

We got everything set up and working at 7:27pm. Three minutes from the time Wammer put on the handbills & notices he had printed up to let everyone know that they would have the game on.

7:30pm: GAME ON.

Now Hammerheads has the upper hand on the other bars on the island, where they aren't tied to CITN's schedule of the games. If they want to show a game early (like for instance next Sunday when it “airs” at 10:30pm and means that they have to close before the game is over) then they can.

If you're lookin for the hockey games on Cayman, Hammerheads is THE PLACE TO BE. w00t!

Monday, May 2, 2005 11:07:56 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Hockey#

I decided to get a new video card for my computer at home. I thought I could get away with the 'built-in' video, with it's whopping 8mb of (shared) memory, but it's just not cutting it. I decided to go for an ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon 9600 with 128mb of RAM on (coincidentally, the same amount of system ram my first “killer gaming rig” had on it back in the day) I looked around online and decided to go with because I had purchased from them in the past and they had good prices.

I also didn't want to pay 20% customs duty on the purchase, and it wasn't a desperate need to have it within a few days, so I decided I would buy it and ship it to our Miami office and next time one of us was up there, they could pick it up and bring it back in under their customs allowance. I could also have shipped it to my US Link mailbox in Miami and they would have shipped it here in 48 hours from receiving it for the wee fee of $3/lb. The only problem with that is that I would pay 20% duty on the (pre-rebate) $249 for the card, the $5 super saver fedex shipping, and then the airfreight charge as well. 20% of $300 is $60, but the duty would be in Cayman Dollars, so it would be USD$72.50 on top of the $249. A bit too much.

My credit card billing address is my US Link mailbox: it's where my magazine subscriptions (”What am I going to do with 48 subscriptions to Vibe?”) credit card statements and credit card junkmail are delivered to. I even had my local debit card's address changed to that Miami address to facilitate online purchasing.

I went through the checkout routine at newegg, and they didn't have my name in their system anymore, so first I had to go through the “sign up for a new account” process, and validate that, and then go back, find my shopping cart again, and start the 'checkout' process again. I used my local debit card, who's billing address is in Miami, and specified “different shipping address” because I wanted shipped to my office rather than my mailbox. I clickety-clicked through it and thought it was done.

Fifteen minutes later I got an email response from newegg that my card was issued by a non-US bank, and my order was cancelled. OK, well I gave it a shot anyway, but in the back of my mind, I was thinking “There are 300 million potential customers in the US, but there are 6 BILLION potential customers outside the US and FedEx will deliver to every single one of them. What's the holdup?” so I went back, and found the video card again, put it in my shopping cart, went to checkout, logged in, changed my debit card to my US credit card which has the same Miami billing address and went through the whole thing again. I even used their newegg/fedex shipping address validator and made sure everything was filled out properly.

THIRTY minutes later this time, I get another email: unable to verify shipping address! Didn't I just click the validate address thing? The problem this time was that my shipping address and billing address didn't match up. DUH, I know that! I was the one who clicked “ship to another address”! so I contacted NewEgg's Customer Service number and they told me to have the shipping address assigned as a secondary address to my credit card. I called the credit card company, but due to high volume, their current estimated wait time on hold was 17 minutes. Have I mentioned that calling 800 numbers from the Cayman Islands results in regular overseas long-distance charges? plus the regular airtime charges for your mobile account? Thankfully I have ways around that. I didn't want to wait on hold for that long, so I put it off til the morning.

The next morning I called the credit card company and got through right away. I said I wanted to add a second address to my card because these jackasses wouldnt ship to anything other than the billing address. The nice lady told me that that wasn't possible. I could change my address, but I didn't want to do THAT. Then she told me I could make a temporary change of address which would “time out” and revert back to my normal address after X days. I decided to do that, gave her my “shipping” address and then that was done. I called Newegg back, but their call center is on the west coast (yet their order fulfillment warehouse is in New Jersey) so they were closed and please call back later. I was kinda pissed off at this point, it was a lot of running around just to order one simple little thing online. I waited until just after 9am local when the call center was to open and called them back. I gave them my order number, and said I had the address added to my credit card, so please go ahead and re-submit the order. At this time, I checked and there was a roughly $200 authorization on my card from newegg, so I thought everything was in order. Yeah, right.

Ten minutes later I get a NEW MAIL popup and I get the same goddamn form letter from Newegg telling me my shipping address could not be verified and to please have the address added to my credit card and call them to try again.

Nope. Fuck that noise. I DID log on to Newegg's site, but that was to cancel the order. I haven't gotten around to it yet, but they will be getting a nastier version of this website post in their customer service mailbox shortly. I clicked over to CompUSA's site, and five minutes later had an order confirmation in my mailbox, and then a quick check to FedEx this morning showed it was delivered on Friday. Then I got an email from someone I work with who was in the office in Miami this weekend and said she was bringing it back for me.

SO, Newegg, who suck donkey balls, can bite me. I won't be buying from them again.

Monday, May 2, 2005 5:42:37 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | Rants | Tech#
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