saying goodbye to an old friend…

right side viewBack in my college days (seems like ages ago now), I assembled my first PC. Ah, the memories. I hand-picked my components, trying to achieve the perfect balance of cheap, good, and fast. I had selected a motherboard and CPU combo with a 486 DX2-66MHZ processor, and 2 VLB slots and 6 ISA slots. I put in my 4 MB RAM from my first computer and lived with that for a while until I bit the bullet and added 4 MB and then another 4MB, eventually having 12MB RAM. I got a SoundBlaster AWE-32 which, at the time, was *the* top-of-the-line sound card. I also got a 2X Sony CDROM drive so I could play Myst. For the graphics card, I selected a 1MB VRAM STB Powergraph 24. 640×480@24-bit color, baby (my 14″ IBM monitor couldn’t handle resolutions above 640×480). For the communications (had to get on the ‘net!) I chose a Zoltrix 14400 model. This was a *huge* step up from my measly 2400baud modem that came with my PS/1.

I also purchased a 1GB Seagate ST31220A Enhanced IDE hard drive. A mere 3 months before, it debuted at $1000. I picked up that bad-boy for a mere $500 and change. What a deal! With it, I had to get a VLB disk controller, since the mobo didn’t have a built-in HDD controller. The last piece I needed was a case to stuff all these totally ‘leet components into.

On the way home from a somewhat long night of revelling, I stumbled past the local computer shop and beheld the most interesting case I’d seen to date. The design was interesting, but not overdone, and it seemed large enough to house the many upgrades I envisioned for my perfect machine.

3/4 front view

This case lasted me several years and many fun upgrades. And, many sleepless nights fearing that I’d completely screwed something up. I remember playing Doom with an audio CD playing in the background (Usually Smashing Pumpkins). This required a TSR (terminate and stay resident) driver for the CDROM drive. Oh yes, did I mention the not-so-leet Labtec speakers? “Tiny and Tinny” was their claim to fame but for the college dorm, they were enough.

Its first rejuvenation was the move to a Pentium 100 on an Asus P/I-P55TP4XE with upgradeable pipeline burst cache (which I bumped from 256KB to 512KB). This beast had 24MB of RAM, an MPEG-1 Decoder card (the docs were all in Korean, but hey, it was free). I also splurged on a 17″ Sony CPD-17SF-II Trinitron monitor which was driven by the amazing, all-powerful Number9 Imagine 128 4MB VRAM PCI graphics engine. 24-bit color at 1152×864. I also decided to get into digital artwork and purchased a Wacom 4″x5″ tablet. Sweet. I decided to upgrade the mouse to a Logitech Mouseman Serial 3-button mouse. Count ’em and weep! I also bumped up my keyboard to a Microsoft Natural (the big honkin’ original, not the Elite). It was on this machine that I first installed Solaris x86 and Linux (Redhat, then Slackware).

left side viewEventually, I upgraded, as the case had the worst arrangement for the drive cage. Any maintenance required disassembling the entire drive subsystem, which was a lot of work back in those days. I kept the old case lying around, and eventually revived it with old parts salvaged from discarded PCs (I believe it was a Pentium in the 150MHz range), and finally, I purchased overstock components and it lived out its last days as a 1GHz Celeron with 256MB RAM on an Epox baby AT motherboard (they actually made baby AT motherboards after the turn of the century!) The mobo/CPU/RAM live on in my current linux box, but that’s another story. As you can see, it also acquired a mass of stickers. The kana on the left side is the hiragana for my english name. I lovingly glued, X-acto knife’d out the excess, and taped over it with clear packing tape to preserve it for all time.

So, It is with misty eyes and a heart swelling with emotion that I bid a fond farewell to a trusty but finicky old friend. You will be missed.

the “wow” starts now ™

The other night, I was chatting with Ken, and he mentioned that he was considering a purchase of Vista to run under Parallels on his new MacBook Pro. Being the loving friend, I naturally went into intervention mode. A few days later, I checked in with him. This is what Vista will do to a man…

KEN: still didn’t buy the license for Vista
it turns out that parallels has this setting to disable the pc clock
so XP never thinks it has to activate itself

MF54: nice!

KEN: still might buy it anyways
just to get some experience with vista

MF54: haha
you’re a glutton for punishment
tell you what
you give me $20
I’ll kick you in the nuts a few times
should be about the same experience

KEN: if I give you more money, will you give me the “ultimate edition”?

MF54: totally

maybe i’m not crazy… maybe

so over the last few weeks, I noticed that every once in a while, I hear a high-pitched ringing. I would ask a2c if she heard it, and of course she didn’t. I thought maybe I was losing my hearing or something. One night, I happened to notice it while we were watching TV. Again, I asked a2c if she heard it, but again, she gave me the “crazy” look.

So, then another time, I noticed it happened during a KFC commercial. I wasn’t sure, so I just made a mental note. This evening, I saw the same KFC commercial, and sure enough, I heard the tone again. Again, a2c shoots me the crazy.

Convinced I must be losing my mind, I google “kfc high-pitched tone”. And of course, like the reliable old friend it is, it returned many results, including this article

Apparently, KFC is trying a new advertising technique based on some study that found that there are certain frequencies that only teens can hear.

I’m no spring chicken, so why can I hear this?

programming ruby

I’ve been hearing about Ruby for some time now (at least 4 years). It wasn’t until Ken got into it that I started thinking about it more seriously. It’s an object-oriented language and appeals to my academic side. It’s also pretty well thought out, and has some really great features (blocks!). Anyway, I’m working on building up my coding chops. It’s been a while, and right now ANSI C is my strongest language (C is a nice language, though).

Anyway, I purchased the PDF version of “Programming Ruby” and am reading through it. Good book. Well laid out and is getting me to the code ASAP. Anyway, I’ll post my progress!

My first real project is going to be a web-based prayer request app. I know, a CMS would probably give me what I need, but I want to design something I can use.

why do robots hate me?

I was pretty bored this morning, so I thought I’d IM with my old friend Moviefone. He’s been on my buddy list for so long, but we don’t talk that much. I guess we have that kind of low-maintenance relationship. However, today he must not have been in much of a mood to talk. Here’s a transcript of our convo. I dunno, you tell me:

AIM IM with Moviefone.
8:40 AM

hi moviefone!

Hey there. What or who do you wanna see on the big screen today?

how are you feeling today?

- Movies for Today
1 -F- You are Alone
2 -F- Night and Day You Are the One
3 -F- That Loving Feeling
4 -F- Memories are Made of This
5 -F- All We Are Saying

P=Past, N=New, S=Soon, F=Future

Type # next to movie to see showtimes, M to go back to the Main Menu or anything else to search again.

what do you think of the weather we're having?

- Movies for Today
1 -P- Shall We Dance (1937)
2 -P- Shall We Dance? (2004)
3 -P- We Are Marshall
4 -F- Lucky You
5 -P- Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
6 -P- Ring Of Fire
7 -P- The Last King of Scotland
8 -P- The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
9 -P- The Pursuit of Happyness
10 -P- Curse of the Golden Flower
11 -F- Master of the Crimson Armor
12 -P- Rules Of The Game (1939)
13 -P- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
14 -P- Army Of Darkness
15 -P- Children of Men

P=Past, N=New, S=Soon, F=Future

Type # next to movie to see showtimes, M to go back to the Main Menu or anything else to search again.

you seem to always be on IM. Don't you have work to do?

- Movies for Today
1 -F- You Want Me to Kill Him?
2 -S- Race you to the Bottom
3 -F- You Kill Me
4 -F- Talk to Me (2007)
5 -P- Michael Jordan to the Max
6 -P- T- Rex: Back to the Cretaceous in IMAX 3D
7 -F- You are Alone
8 -F- I Love You Again (2007)
9 -F- Bryan Loves You
10 -F- As You Like It (2007)
11 -F- Sunny & Share Love You

P=Past, N=New, S=Soon, F=Future

Type # next to movie to see showtimes, M to go back to the Main Menu or anything else to search again.

Look, I know you're trying to avoid the question, but isn't there something else you should be doing?

Ah -- you've got me again. Why don't you type menu.

======= Movie of the Week =======
Reign Over Me - Movie Site

hey, man, I'm not trying to confuse you, I just wanted to talk

Hey there. What film are you looking for?
Dude, you are so 1-dimensional
- Movies for Today
1 -F- You are Alone
2 -F- Night and Day You Are the One
3 -F- Suffer, Dude

P=Past, N=New, S=Soon, F=Future

Type # next to movie to see showtimes, M to go back to the Main Menu or anything else to search again.

I thought you were my buddy!

- Movies for Today
1 -N- I Think I Love My Wife
2 -F- I Love You Again (2007)
3 -F- P.S. I Love You
4 -F- How I Met My Boyfriend's Dead Fiance
5 -F- I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
6 -P- Breakfast At Tiffany's

P=Past, N=New, S=Soon, F=Future

Type # next to movie to see showtimes, M to go back to the Main Menu or anything else to search again.

why can't you just have a normal conversation like everyone else here on the intarwebs?

Sorry, I didn't get that.

======= Movie of the Week =======
Reign Over Me - Movie Site
fine, I don't want to talk to you anymore
- Movies for Today
1 -F- You Want Me to Kill Him?
2 -F- Talk to Me (2007)
3 -F- I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
4 -P- Michael Jordan to the Max
5 -P- T- Rex: Back to the Cretaceous in IMAX 3D
6 -P- Before Flying Back to Earth (Pries parskrendant i zeme)
7 -S- Race you to the Bottom
8 -S- The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair
9 -F- Talk Talk
10 -F- You Kill Me
11 -F- I Love You Again (2007)

P=Past, N=New, S=Soon, F=Future

Type # next to movie to see showtimes, M to go back to the Main Menu or anything else to search again.

just leave me alone

- Movies for Today
1 -F- You are Alone
2 -F- Me, Me, Me
3 -P- Alone with Her
4 -P- Just Married
5 -F- What Just Happened
6 -F- Just Like the Son
7 -F- Marley & Me
8 -F- Me and Wife
9 -F- You Want Me to Kill Him?
10 -F- The Ugly Duckling and Me
11 -F- He Loves Me

P=Past, N=New, S=Soon, F=Future

Type # next to movie to see showtimes, M to go back to the Main Menu or anything else to search again.

stop mocking me!

No movies matched your query. Try again or type main to return to main menu.

======= Movie of the Week =======
Reign Over Me - Movie Site

Pardon me? If you don't understand why I am not understanding you, just type, help.

======= Movie of the Week =======
Reign Over Me - Movie Site

help this, you insensitive clod!

K, I found a match. You used zip XXXXX last. To use it type Y. OR type in a new zipcode now and I'll see if this is playing near you.

there comes a time in everyone’s life…

when they realize they’re really getting old. The other day, I saw a Wendy’s commercial. The song being used was “Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes. Back in my day, that song was an anthem for the misfits, freaks and nerds. VF was the band that embodied the struggle of the outcast in a society of jocks and cheerleaders.

And now, it’s the background track for a Wendy’s commercial. Lovely. Although I’m sure that’s how the previous generation felt when their music was used for the shameless foisting of schlocky upon the unwashed masses.

city strangeness

I went to lunch with an old friend of mine, Artie Hasegawa.  We went to this really cool ramen shop at 56th and 6th Ave.  Delicious, inexpensive.  But, that’s not what this post is about.

On my way to the restaurant, an old woman standing on her front stoop called to me for help.  She was dressed in her nightie and seemed troubled.  It was really cold, too, so it seemed she was in trouble.  She explained that her lights went out, and would I help her get them going.  I really hesitated as my spidey-senses went to tingling.  However, for whatever reason, I was compelled to help her.

I entered the small apartment.  Catholic iconery was strewn everywhere.  She explained that she was trying to plug in her space heater when the lights went out.  She couldn’t reach the circuit breaker box, and therefore couldn’t reset the circuits.  She gave me a flashlight and pointed me to the circuit breaker box.  I flipped all the circuits back and forth, since none of them had tripped.  No dice.

I informed her that something else was wrong and she should call someone for help (trying to exit as soon as possible).  However, I noticed that she had only a cordless phone and wouldn’t be able to make a call.  I offered to let her use my cell phone and explained why she’d need to.  Instead, she asked if I would go to the restaurant next door and apprise them of her situation.  “Let them know Mrs. King needs some help”.  I quickly availed myself of the opportunity to leave the apartment and informed the bartender at said establishment of Mrs. King’s predicament.  He phoned the maintenance man.

I felt I should let her know that someone was on the way, and so I knocked on her door, poked my head in and told her.  She replied that she had found “another button” and would I try the switches one more time.  I hesitatingly agreed, and voila!  The lights came back on.  She thanked me and blessed me.  I told her to go ahead and talk with the maintenance person to see why the power went out in the first place.  As quickly as I could, I left to eat some hot ramen.

So weird.

apple, schmapple…

Well, I’ve been working in an all-Apple shop for 5 months now. Overall, things are great. The problems that arise are either really simple, or involve replacing hardware. Haven’t hit too many mysteries yet.

I’d have to say that my main source of frustration is “the Apple Way®”. For instance: We received a new Macbook 2 days ago. As part of our standard operating procedure, we netinstalled an image containing all the most common apps that we use with the latest (or so we thought) version of MacOS X (10.4.8). After a quick install, we were ready to set up the new user on the machine. For some reason, the Airport card wasn’t functioning properly. Odd. A call to AppleCare, and they recommended taking the machine to a service location. In our case, the 5th Ave. Apple Store 🙂

So, later that afternoon, I trot down to the Apple Store. Wow. At 3pm, it was crowded. Anyway, after a 30 minute wait at the “Genius Bar”, I get my turn. I tell the genius that the machine isn’t recognizing the Airport card and about our imaging procedure. He says it’s probably our image. “But I just imaged 3 other Macbooks with it and it was fine.”

“Well,” he says, “You really can only install these things from the discs that came with them.”

What?! Sure enough, when he booted the machine from his clean 10.4.8 installed on a Firewire drive, the Airport card worked like a charm.

This may sound all well and good. I mean, the genius solved the problem, right? No. This sucks. What this implies is that every time there’s even a slight change in the OS, every update, every driver, etc. , we’ll need to create a new install image. Ugh. The whole point of the install images was that we’d save a lot of time when there are weird things going on with a machine, and we just want to get it back to a sane state. We’ve just lost that ability. Thanks, Apple! We really appreciate your looking out for the admins out there.

This is merely the latest in a trend of design decisions seemingly targeted at making an admin’s life a living heck. For starters, the server admin tools are a hodge-podge of GUI and non-GUI activities. While I don’t mind this so much, most Mac admins these days aren’t UNIX folk.

It’s official. As of yesterday, I have begun the disenchantment phase of my relationship with the Mac. Or, maybe the infamous “Reality Distortion Field” is just wearing off. At any rate, my feelings boil down to this: Macs are great at home. In a networked environment, they’re not so hot.


so, tonight, as A2C and I are walking to our car, we notice 2 men in a van trying to park in front of us. As we drew closer, we noticed that they were bumping up against our car. I told the man in the street that we were about to leave, and could they pull out for a second to allow us to leave. This would allow them to park their vehicle much more comfortably, rather than playing bumper cars to get in.

Of course, they didn’t speak english. Nor did they seem to understand the rudiments of logic and the laws of the physical world. They refused to move their car, and insisted we back up to let them in. No amount of explanation would get this simple concept through to them.

I told them they were damaging our car, and to please stop. So, the guy on the sidewalk begins grabbing the fender of our car and trying to put it back in place (he didn’t actually damage that part. It was damaged before, but he thought they did it)
Then, it happened. Something in me snapped, and I completely lost my patience with these two. So did A2C. Their continuous chatter was really irritating me, and the fact that they would not see the simple solution to the situation was making me furious. It was not a pretty sight. In hindsight, I’m not proud of the way I acted towards those two men. I took down their license plate number and asked the driver for his license. He said he had one, but of course, didn’t produce it. I wasn’t getting anywhere here, and I was getting more and more upset. I finally convinced A2C that we should just squeeze our way out, and just get out of the situation. She was also very upset at these two and was not in a mood to be trifled with.

Now, hours after the incident, I find it hard to sleep. I want to let it go, because there was no real damage done, and I feel bad for my behavior. On the other hand, I can’t get over how stupid these guys were. Firstly, their car was clearly NOT going to fit in the spot they chose. Secondly, could they not understand that parking would be easier with our car out of the equation?

Thinking back, we both prayed for forgiveness for losing our tempers and for the very un-christlike display of anger. I think the reason I got so upset was because I couldn’t get them to understand something I thought was so simple, and I couldn’t communicate with them. This is one test of patience I’ve failed, but I see that I’ve failed, and I pray I’ll do better in the next situation like this 🙁


I was getting insane amounts of comment and trackback spam. So much so, that it was taking almost an hour a day deleting comments. I didn’t have the time to upgrade my installation of WordPress, so I just took the blog down for the time being.

I finally got around to the upgrade and installed a few anti-spam measures. Hopefully, it’ll take those lousy spammers a lot longer to get through the defenses this time. As you can see, the theme has changed. When I get a chance, I’ll update that, too.