Friday, December 10, 2004

Welcome to My World

So I'm thinking of Jerry Pournelle and his long-running column Chaos Manor in BYTE magazine here. I always envied the guy, getting to play with all that hardware and software (didn't you?). But when did he ever find the time to get any real work done? Science fiction, in his case. Me too, sometimes.

So here's my "chaos manor" these days: three workstations wired to my broadband wireless router (a Linksys WRT54G), a couple satellite laptops (Compaqs, running XP and/or Linux). The router's fourth jack goes to a Siemens SpeedStream 2502 that sends ethernet through the manor's AC circuits, with a paired unit serving as a "plug me in anywhere" access point. Thanks to thick walls around our 4D Solutions office, the satellite laptops actually prefer chatting with the Siemens thingy upstairs. It's 801.11b, not g that way, but I haven't upgraded the PC Cards yet anyway.

I'm using DHCP on a 198.162.254.x subnet -- I changed the linksys default subnet settings, to not conflict with another subnet I sometimes try to access in Salem by VPN (once in a blue moon, this actually works). I've played with hosting through dyndns on port 80, but for now, all ports are sealed up tight. My websites remain up 24/7 courtesy of some competent ISPs (Qwest and Digital Space).

Speaking of PC Cards, one thing that keeps me from upgrading my Mandrake 9.2 to 10.1 on this old Compaq 700-series laptop, is I'm proud of all the customizing I did on it (with plenty of guidance from pioneers who went before me): I rebuilt the kernel to turn on power management features, and I managed to enslave an unwilling PC Card; this Siemens SS1021 uses the TI acx100 chipset, which Linux users have had to hack.

My main box (KTU2) is a Pentium-4 2.8 Ghz, 800 Mhz FSB, with a gig of DDR RAM. I assembled it from scratch from parts bought new at Fry's (I-5 Wilsonville exit), and older parts from previous systems (I'm not new at this, obviously).

Part of why I upgraded was to speed video editing, using raw input from my Sony DV cam (a TRV240 NTSC, which I love). I've enjoyed video editing, although I'm slow at it. Like I took this talk on Bucky I gave at the Wanderers, which Terry taped, and spliced in pictures of domes and stuff, plus some analog Hi-8 tape of Jay Baldwin in San Jose that time (we met for a few hours, talked about pillowdomes, and a lot about the hypercars he designs and anticipates). I remembered about this fun Wanderers video last night and tried to find it -- no dice.

Anyway, I think my firewire has gone out on this motherboard, as the camera is no longer recognized (plus it fails some other tests). And the Maxtor 5000DV I bought for storing video clips (120GB's worth): it died the other night (loud clacking whenever I plug it in -- fortunately, I didn't have much on it -- thanks to an earlier disaster).

So I was having trouble sleeping last night, and so decided to get some work done (not always the best solution): tried to partition my 2nd drive on KTU2, preformatting as ext3, using Partition Magic 8.0. The aim was to get this recently-downloaded Mandrake 10.1 dual-booting on my main machine, instead of just on TMU. Got a bad sector warning -- no dice.

As for my cell phone, we're doing this comedy routine which is somewhat annoying. I hold down the star key and it says "Please enter a voice command" and I say "name dial" and it asks for a name. I say "Jimmy" (that's Jimmy Lott, a great musician -- Moon Over Brooklyn and like that). The phone says "no match." OK, so maybe I used his wife's name to save this number (their daughter and mine are good friends). So I try again. "Kim" I say. And the phone says: "Did you say Jimmy?"