Starry Wisdom

Entropic Words from Neilathotep

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Good news and Bad news

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so first the good news – which is the update on my previous post. Yeah, it was the wireless router, and the new one works perfectly. Yay!

Bad news – I’m falling apart. My ankle had been bothering me since mid December, and I finally managed to get in to see the specialist this Thursday. He said it’s tendinopathy, probably aggravated by some extra bone – remnants of me breaking my ankle nearly twenty years ago. I’m on Aleve for 10 days and I have a pretty fancy ankle brace that I’m to wear for 6 weeks. Hopefully I’ll be better by the time of the followup.

Of course, it doesn’t end there. Yesterday morning, as I got up from lacing and buckling up the brace my back decided to spasm. So I’ve been laid up, unable to stand straight and barely able to walk since then. My weekend plans are pretty much ruined. I tried to go to the urgent care place near my apartment today (to maybe get muscle relaxer or the such), but alas, they are closed on weekends.

Oh well, at least my ankle is feeling pretty well.

posted by neil at 5:33 pm
under Uncategorized  

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I Hate Computers

I’m not sure if I posted about this, in fact I’m quite positive I didn’t, but back in September my Windows computer died. It was nearly five years old so this wasn’t completely unexpected. It wasn’t the end of the world either, as I mostly use my laptop. But still, it served a function as my media server, so it needed to be replaced.

Out of laziness, instead of building my own, I ordered a mid tier Dell system, which came with WIndows Vista, but also a free upgrade to Windows 7, which was due to be released within a couple of months. I was loathe to run Vista, but the free upgrade cheered me up somewhat.

I finally got my upgrade DVD in December, but I dragged my feet in installing it. In hindsight, I really should have done it last week while I was off of work, but alas. Instead I just killed two weeknights dealing with the ‘upgrade’ and its fallout.

First of all, because I’m crazy, I decided I might as well see if the actual upgrade functionality would work, as opposed to doing a fresh install of Windows 7. I didn’t really have anything of value on the OS drive, so I could deal with a clean wipe, but I guess I wanted to see how elegant Microsoft could be. The answer is not at all, and I was forced to do a fresh install after wasting 2 hours doing the upgrade process. Pretty sad, since the install only took about 45 minutes. And now things were OK. Except they weren’t.

I alluded above to the fact that I had more than one drive in the computer. The second drive was the hard drive from my old, dead machine, which was filled with various media files (video and audio). Was is the key term here, since that drive perished in the upgrade. Actually, I’m pretty sure I know what happened to it, and it seems it’s half my fault for not keeping my drive’s firmware up to date (hah, clearly everyone needs to do that!). There is a bug on particular Seagate Barracudas, of which my drive is one, where upon bootup the drive can basically become a spinning brick. All your data is there, but since you cannot talk to the disk, you cannot retrieve it. The only solace to me in this is that I am 99% sure I have all the music on my old Ipod, which I can pull back off it. Oh, and that I can get a warranty replacement.

And now we come to the third woe: my wireless router is a piece of crap. I always knew that the Linksys WRT54G that I had was a less desirable version (v6 if you must know) but because it worked pretty well, I didn’t care. But now my new printer (bought to replace my more than nine year old deskjet that barely worked with Vista, and based on an experience at Erin’s with Windows 7, I figured I was best served with spending $100 to enter the modern age. Oh and I would be getting a scanner and a copier at the same time), which is fully wireless, taught me why that router might not be so great.

You see, I configured the printer to use my wireless network, and it seemed to be happy. But when I tried to find it on my laptop, no luck. And please remember, on this first night, I wasn’t done futzing around with the desktop, so I had no other way to test the printer. It just seemed like it wasn’t working. But on the second night, I found I was able to connect to the printer if I plugged it onto the router via wired ethernet. And on the third night, I learned that my wired windows computer could connect to the printer when it was connected wirelessly to the router. A bit more fooling around with devices and I determined:

Connection Type Wired Device Wireless Device
Wired Device Can Communicate Can Communicate
Wireless Device Can Communicate Can’t Communicate

So everything works except two wireless devices which try to talk to each other. I am mostly certain, but cannot be positive that this used to work. I decided to see what I could do to debug this, but the router’s web interface doesn’t really give you much to see. Then I looked up custom firmware to see if that would help me debug, and it turns out it probably would, but the dd-wrt website told me I should just sell the old router and get a better one. I don’t think I’ll be selling my neutered router, although I might see if someone at work wants it for free, but I did order a WRT54GL. The L stands for linux, and it’s basically Linksys admitting it was evil with the later revisions of the router. The first thing I’ll do is get the custom firmware on the new router, and after I get that working, I’ll unleash the old one on someone at work.

Anyway, there was a lot of rambling here, but I think you can see how this defends my thesis, I HATE COMPUTERS. At least some of the time, when I don’t really like them.

posted by neil at 12:38 pm
under daily tribulations,rambling,technology  

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Books read in 2009

2009 was a pretty poor year for me and reading. Only 23 books finished (one additional book is still being read, and as such will get counted as 2010, or perhaps not at all).

Here they are in all their glory:

Pirate Sun

Karl Schroeder

“Jan 12, 2009”

“Jan 18, 2009”

One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko

Mike Royko

“Jan 19, 2009”

“Jan 28, 2009”

Encore Provence

Peter Mayle

“Jan 30, 2009”

“Feb 05, 2009”


Neil Gaiman

“Feb 04, 2009”

“Feb 15, 2009”

The Inferno

Dante (Translated by Robert Pinsky)

“Feb 05, 2009”

“Feb 21, 2009”

The Throwback

Tom Sharpe

“Feb 10, 2009”

“Mar 09, 2009”

Mortal Engines

Philip Reeve

“Feb 22, 2009”

“Feb 28, 2009”

Boss – Richard J. Daley of Chicago

Mike Royko

“Mar 01, 2009”

“Mar 26, 2009”

His Majesty’s Dragon

Naomi Novik

“Mar 25, 2009”

“May 10, 2009”

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Audrey Niffenegger

“Mar 27, 2009”

“Apr 04, 2009”

Cheeseburgers – the Best of Bob Greene

Bob Greene

“Apr 05, 2009”

“Apr 17, 2009”

Full Circle

Michael Palin

“Apr 18, 2009”

“May 15, 2009”

The Algebraist

Iain M. Banks

“Apr 28, 2009”

“May 09, 2009”

Settling Accounts: Return Engagement

Harry Turtledove

“May 11, 2009”

“Aug 17, 2009”

Focault’s Pendulum

Umberto Eco

“May 16, 2009”

“Jun 14, 2009”

Food Politics

Marion Nestle

“Jun 15, 2009”

“Oct 26, 2009”

Infinite Jest

David Foster Wallace

“Jun 28, 2009”

“Sep 20, 2009”


Neal Stephenson

“Jul 02, 2009”

“Jul 12, 2009”

Dead Witch Walking

Kim Harrison

“Aug 07, 2009”

“Aug 09, 2009”

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights

John Steinbeck

“Aug 25, 2009”

“Oct 01, 2009”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel

Susanna Clark

“Oct 26, 2009”

“Dec 01, 2009”

Spook Country

William Gibson

“Dec 05, 2009”

“Dec 14, 2009”


David Change and Peter Meehan

“Dec 11, 2009”

“Dec 25, 2009”

I’m not going to make excuses, I just didn’t read a lot. I will point out a couple of personal highlights in the list, and we’ll just leave it at that:

  • Boss – Richard J. Daley of Chicago: this was a fantastic book, but I really wanted to punch the guy (Daley, not Royko!)
  • Infinite Jest: This was my second read, which I did for “Infinite Summer” and probably helps account to my less than one book per two weeks total. Upon a second reading I noticed a lot of things I missed the first time, although I still ended up with a lot of questions
posted by neil at 5:30 pm
under books  

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