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Tuesday 31 December 2002

Tuesday - New Years Eve. It's been an interesting year - these web pages have told some of my story. I start and end it having family, friends, my health, and a career still intact - fortune that many don't have.

I have tried to keep these pages upbeat - and in fact, that's pretty much my resolution for the coming year, to be a little kinder, maybe a little less sarcastic.

Given any kind of pulpit it's human nature to preach. I'm prone to that anyway it seems. I still see myself as an easy going kid sometimes, but it's apparent that I am occasionally seen by others as a bit critical and a tad opinionated. A touch irritable on occasion, perhaps.

So, I will not beat up on myself, but maybe the attitude will be a bit more positive. I tell others: You are what you practice to be. Good advice to myself as well...

Happy New Year to us all!

Monday 30 December 2002

Monday - a fairly nice day. The weather forecasters have been predicting repeats of the big storms earlier in the month, but they have failed to materialize. Well, they haven't materialized in Martinez, but Eureka is a different story. Twenty inches plus of rain so far this season. Yuck. But then, it's always miserable there!

The 49ers' lost to the Rams. Of course both teams were just playing for pride - the Rams are not in the playoffs, and the 49ers' play next Sunday, no matter what. So - is that a good or bad sign for the 49ers' playoff chances?

We have continued configuring my Dad's laptop. We put a product called 'GameDrive' on it, that allows the creation of 'virtual cd drives' and 'virtual CDs' to go with them. It allows the storage (for personal licensed use) of games such that would otherwise be perpetually running the CD drive and depleting the battery (SCRABBLE and CHESSMASTER, for example). Works amazingly well - kudo's to those guys!

If Windows XP asks if you want to reseal - make sure you aren't in a hurry and that the system is plugged into the wall power. I don't know what it does, but it takes a while...

It was windy for a while, and the dog tried to crawl into my lap. Doesn't like wind. Doesn't like the dark, or the cold, or loud noises...tomorrow night will be brutal for her...

Just generally blog-surfing this week. An unofficial statistic: about one site in ten or so will crash NS4.7.
I really shouldn't read the blogs, they are addictive, like the evening news. You get sucked in and become concerned and worried over things that you have zero control over.
On the other hand, you may just come across a wonderful argument between Smeagol & Gollum about Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings adaptation. If you haven't seen The Two Towers, it worth it just for them - I mean him. precious.

Sunday 29 December 2002

Sunday - a fairly slow day. I removed Mozilla 1.2.1 - it is so unstable as to be useless. Too bad. I don't want to use the NS4.7 composer as it mangles and changes pages to suit itself, so I'll just have to use WordPad for a couple of days until I find something better.

My father bought himself a present, a new 2.0Ghz Pentium 4 laptop. It's really sweet - a big screen, a big hard drive, a dvd/cd-rw. He says it's the first big thing he's bought for himself in many years, so it's about time!

While buying it I heard the clerks discussing their commissions for the day. The supervisor had done about $500, his friend about $250. Not too shabby. I imagine that mid-January through, say, May will be fairly slim pickings for them.

The 49ers' play tomorrow night - they are in the playoff's already, but I'm not sure if there is a 'by week' or 'homefield advantage' to be earned in that game...

Saturday 28 December 2002

Saturday - I visited the boat and it wasn't full of water - there was perhaps a quarter inch in the bilges, not enough to worry about. It's been raining fairly often, so this is a good sign. I had stopped on the way down and picked up some caulking, so I applied some around the chain plates. It can't hurt...

They were predicting massive rains to the north of us today - so naturally the rain came in south of us. It rained a bit in the afternoon, and it's now hailing and gusting. Fun stuff.

On the way home I picked up an ATI RADEON 7000 for my dad's PC. The price was right, about $50, and it's a nice 64MB card. There are cards with more power and ram, but his case already has overheating problems! It worked well, but SCRABBLE still didn't play. Turns out that there is some sort of software conflict going on as well. We've narrowed it down to one of three programs, tomorrow we'll find out which it is.

And sure enuff, the case overheated, and the system shut down...

For future reference, if you start up the windows task monitor ( cntrl-alt-del ), the only programs required are systray and explorer. The rest you can do an 'End Task' on.

The Oakland Raider's won, in a convincing 'Mud Bowl' performance. As Cosell might say: "They - could - go - all - the - way." The 49er's will play on Monday night - they've a lot of injuries, it's doubtful they are a real contender.

Oh yes, the Tracfone is working again.

Friday 27 December 2002

Friday - a quiet day. We didn't do a lot, watched some movies, went out to lunch and the video store. It's rather gray and overcast here - not so much rain as a mist. Tomorrow is projected to have heavy rain.

We did try to update the Tracfone. Sigh. These companies make it hard for themselves - their web page is loaded with Java and Flash, and you have to go through multiple pages - only to be told that because you are four days late renewing you must get a new phone number, then pages more of information and numbers that they already have, for the activation, which then fails.  Then you sit through four or five levels of phone mail, only to get the terse message that "The system is currently very busy due to the holiday" Yup, it hangs up on you. So I sent off an email, only to get back an automated reply that it'll be fixed in 24 or 48 hours. Warm fuzzies all around.

Oddly I didn't get mad. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I'm mellowing...

Thursday 26 December 2002

Thursday - and a nice Christmas was had by all. We all gathered at my father's for a nice dinner, ham and more, that he had prepared, and everyone had a good time.

It's an older crowd now, only my niece was under thirty, so perhaps the tension and anticipation once so prevalent for us all at this time of year was not there.

snow capped mountains
You can see the recent snowfalls on the mountains to the north (the Tehachapi's), and there is also a similiar snowcap on the San Angeles range to the south.

One of the gifts for my father was SCRABBLE(tm), on a CD. When he went to install it the PC locked up, repeatedly. Checking things out I see that it requires an 8Mb graphics card! Ludicrous. My personal copy runs fine on an ancient 4Mb Matrox Millenium II. Apparently they have improved the SCRABBLE product (somehow), and it now uses/requires DirectX8.

Up to this point he has used, quite happily, the built in 4Mb AGP video of the Intel 815E motherboard - we can get another card that will work, cheaply and easily, but it really shouldn't be necessary...unless this is some sort of First-Person-Shooter Scrabble. Hmmmmm - now there's an idea.

It's not a big deal, but it bothers me in much the same way as the Kodak digital camera software fiasco did. It's sloppy. It's lazy on the part of the programmers, and sloppy decision making on the part of the management.

Speaking of which, I upgraded Mozilla to 1.2.1 - and it still locks up at random, failing to load pages that NS4.7 will easily load. I am prepared to like it, I want to like it, but...still not ready for prime time. On the other hand it's free ( as in Open Source, and as in Beer), created by volunteers, and only 11Mb.

Wednesday 25 December 2002

Wednesday - Merry Christmas!

Tuesday 24 December 2002

Tuesday - Christmas eve. A lot to do today, but I've gotten some of it done.  Sporadic posts until it gets a little less frenetic. I didn't get into work like I'd planned, or to the hand therapy place.

I have a ridiculous number of presents from friends. Not that I'm complaining! But I have trouble shopping, so most people get one present, or perhaps a stocking-stuffer - and this unwarranted generosity simply shows my grinchness for what it is. Next year I have to do better, start earlier, spend more thought and care on my friends and relatives - you are what you practice to be, after all. I did try to pick things that I thought people would find useful and/or entertaining.

Monday 23 December 2002

Monday - work. I handed out a lot of Christmas cards, as it's rather late to be mailing them. A few out-of-state unfortunates will be thinking that I've forgotten them - not so. Just wait. That darn slow U.S. Mail - it's their fault - that's what I'll say.

It was rather quiet at work today. Tomorrow I believe that the president is giving us a half day off.  It'll be even quieter.

The Dog and Cat seem well.

Is it me? When someone drives up to a fast foot place, and orders a #1, is it to be expected that they want to play 20 questions? If I wanted 'a la carte' wouldn't I go somewhere else? No, I don't want to super-size, just the regular meal. No, I want a normal number one, even if it is large-not-regular . No I don't want curly fries. Just a Coke....  Grrrrrr.

Downloaded Zone Alarm for the laptop. I was hoping that one copy could (legally) serve on both. Not so. Oh well, it's clearly worth the money.

Downloaded the new Mozilla for the laptop. My experiences haven't been particularly happy - Netscape 6.2 is the best browser I've used so far. NS4.7x is fine, but getting a big long in the tooth. Some pages don't show up at all with it...

Sunday 22 December 2002

Sunday - busy, busy, busy. I watched a bit of football, did some shopping, did some cleaning, wrote out some cards, and set up the wireless access point.

It's a Netgear 4-port ethernet + wireless, and the install was trivially easy. Plug it in, between the DSL and the wired PC, and the PC could access the net still. Configured the WAP via the web browser. Stuck the wireless card in the laptop, ran the CD that came with it, and I was on in ten minutes. Amazing. I expected to be hours, cursing and swearing. The WEP and the MAC security features were equally easy to set up.

Since my brother is out of town, skiing, I am looking after the Dog, and Cat. The cat ate a pigeon the other day, and I was supposedly on the death-watch, as 'Storm' seemed listless and ill. As it turns out, I think he was just full! Perhaps it was a big bird - he's certainly a small cat. The last couple of days he is up and about, drinking and watching me suspiciously.

Picture of the Week
snow and smashed mailbox
Photo Notes: It looks as though this year we'll have a snowless Christmas. It's not always that way in the California High Desert. Here is last year as seen through the car window - several inches of snow. Note the downed mailbox - I'm afraid we Californians are not in general the best drivers when it comes to snow!

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