Technology

Things that require electricity.

It is computer chaos!

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It has been a crazy 2 weeks.  This weekend being MUCH better than last weekend.

Last weekend, between Friday night and Saturday, my main PC (the one I use for development, photo editing, game playing, etc) locked up.  I haven’t seen a computer freeze and lock up like it did for quite some time.  Reboot and no luck.  It was having problems getting past POST and if it did get past POST, it locked up on the screen where the XP logo fades in on boot up.  Lots of potty language later, I realized this was a heck of a hardware problem.

I ended up at the local computer store and snagged a new motherboard and processor.  Of course, gotta snag some RAM since my former rig was as ancient and the old RAM was either bad or incompatible (maybe it would have been compatible, it definitely would have been a performance bottle-neck).  Dual monitors?  Need another video card for that since the old one doesn’t fit any of the fancy-pants new AGP slots.  Also had to get a new hard drive, just in case one of mine died and a new DVD drive since all my gear is IDE and I was out of IDE connections for my existing DVD drive.

I replace it all and thought I did a great job.  The problem was still there!  WTF?!

After more trouble shooting, I determine it to be a 2 part issue.  The mouse really wants to be plugged directly into the box versus the USB hub.  Also, it would appear my USB LCD display (a little 4 line, 20 character display) is toast and appears to be the source of all my hardware problems.

Oh well.

That machine was at least 4 years old and an upgrade was about due.  It runs Word really nicely (think how fast WordPerfect would be!).

I picked up an Asus Netbook for Masha (Olessia’s sister).  It is a spiffy little gadget!  She will be able to use it to connect to Skype and call in whenever she likes (it comes pre-loaded and we tested it out and works nicely).  It was so spiffy, I got one for myself.  I’ve been able to toss all sorts of stuff on it without any problems.  I’m looking forward to taking it to Russia and using it on the plane.  I’m also looking forward to toting it around to class and using it for note taking.

Autocross Results

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Development on axtime.com has been an all summer activity.  I'm getting close to wrapping up an update to the existing site.  Basically, it is a complete rewrite.  The things I know now compared to 5 years ago is evident when I look at my code (what a mess!).  A preview of what I'm doing can be found at http://v3.axtime.com.
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Dual Booting With XP and Ubuntu

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Booting Knoppix from a USB memory stick was all fun and games, until the cheap USB stick broke.  I could get another USB stick and copy the contents over.  "Or why not dual boot?" I thought.  My notebook has a 60gb drive and after doing house cleaning, I'm only using 15gb of it.  I don't want to reformat and have to reinstall Windows.  Gparted to the rescue!  I used it to shrink down the Windows partition and add some new partitions for Linux (if people would like more details on this process, let me know, there's some tricks to do this).  Now I have space for Linux which flavor will I go with?
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Wardriving Setup

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Notebook Power Adapter RepairSo I'm not out to hack anything, just sniff the air and see who and what is out there.  I had a stable rig setup with Windows + Netstumbler + Orinoco wireless card + home built cantenna.  Life was good.  But I was curious about the other side (the dark side?).  How would a Linux + Kismet setup do?  Linux, with the right drivers, allows the wireless card to go into a monitor mode where the card just listens to what ever is in the air.  Unlike Netstumbler, which constantly has to keep sending requests out, like "any access points out there?"  So it was a quest of mine to persuade my HP Pavilion (the ze5185 flavor for those wondering)
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Access to the internet minus T-Mobile’s ‘net plan

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I’ve got a Nokia 6600 phone. Nice phone. T-Mobile has a bare-bones internet plan which gets you out and on the ‘net. Its nice, but there’s a lot of ports being blocked and any app that requires an internet connection fails. T-Mobile has an internet plan, but its Crazy Expensive™ per month. I haven’t been able to find a work around either.

Then the other day it hit me: Persuade the phone to use a dialup connection. Here’s how to do it.

1. You’ll need a phone which can do this. A Nokia 6600 works. I would think other phones can do this too, but maybe not.

2. You’ll need a dialup internet plan. There’s some pretty cheap ones out there. I get mine from the university I go to.

3. Go to Settings -> Connections -> Access Points. We want to add a new access point.

4. Give it a name and specify the data bearer as “data call.” Then enter the dialup number and user name and password. For authentication, I left it as “normal.”

5. When you use your favorite app, tell it to use your new access point you setup.

There are some drawbacks to doing this like it uses your phone connection and ties up your line. But the advantage is you have full ‘net access and all the ports are open.

By using this technique, I was able to use Putty, AgileMessenger, and several J2ME apps which hadn’t worked with the simple t-zones plan.

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KSU/UA Student takes on Microsoft!

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Student resells MS acedemic software and got sued by Microsoft. Impressive, he fought back and won!

I’ve picked up some Microsoft acedemic software. Its dirt cheap. But yeah, if you can’t use it or install it, its useless and very tough to get rid of.
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new phone

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New phone! A nokia 6600!

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Firefox in NYT

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Wow: PNG Ad, PDF Ad. Mozilla had so many donations, they’re running a two page ad in the New York Times.

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Computer Outage and Quiz

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Thursday started off interesting. Pathfinder, the name of the computer
I have video monitoring the cat stand, died. Time of death appears to
have been around about 11:02pm Wednesday evening, Pathfinder time (which
had fallen behind by as much as 10-30 minutes). I discovered it powered
off on Thursday morning because the whirling of PC fans hadn’t sounded
the same that morning.

What to do? It was almost 8am on Thursday morning and I decided I was
going to replace the power supply before I head off to work. How did I
know it was the power supply? Well, 2 weeks before hand there was the
stench of burnt electronics coming from the general area where
Pathfinder sits at. I had first suspected it was Endeavour, my Pentium
100Mhz Linux box, but oddly enough it was running fine. After about 5
minutes, I rounded up a flakey (due to motherboard/cache) AMD K6-2
300Mhz machine. I pulled its power supply out and 10 minutes later had
it installed in Pathfinder. Flipped the switch and Pathfinder resumed
where it left off at.

An interesting note about Pathfinder: It is an Intel 233Mhz machine
which isn’t anything special. But its running in the same chassis as my
first computer – an AMD 386DX 40Mhz machine (back then, 486SX 25Mhz
machines were “da bomb”). And from this first chassis I had upgraded to
a 486DX 40Mhz machine and then later to the Intel 233Mhz. The 3.5″
floppy drive is the original floppy drive that came with the 386 machine
and I think it still works (haven’t really had a need to use floppies
lately). This 233Mhz machine has a video tuner card installed and makes
one of the web cams possible.

In other news, I had my last calculus 1 quiz last night. I’m pretty
sure I passed it. I would LOVE to have gotten a perfect score on it.
But I had gotten stuck on a step in one of the problems. I think I
worked around it successfully, but I’m not sure.

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SpaceShipOne completes 2nd flight

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align=”left” width=”315″ height=”237″ /> Wow! Burt Rutan and his team
at Scaled Composites complete their
2nd flight to space and win the X
Prize
this morning!

They completed their first flight on Thursday, September
30th. And today they completed the required second flight within the
required two weeks.

Also note, today is the 47th anniversary of the
Soviet Union’s launching of Sputnik.


align=”left” width=”240″ height=”179″ />Burt Rutan is one
of the people I consider a hero and would really like to meet. He has
designed and built some amazing aircraft. What’s really amazing is all
his aircraft have been sub-sonic. SpaceShipOne is his first creation
which goes faster than Mach 1. In fact, it reaches Mach 3+ going
straight up! SpaceShipOne also is designed as simple as possible. It’s
flight controls are not the fancy fly-by-wire but the simple cable and
pulley type. The last aircraft to fly faster than the speed of sound
with a cable and pulley setup is said to be the Bell X-1 piloted by
Chuck Yeager. This, to me, means there’s some serious engineering going
on to allow SpaceShipOne to fly with this configuration. Also pretty
neat is the feather system Rutan designed into SpaceShipOne. It allows
the aircraft (or is it a space craft?) to tumble back into the
atmosphere without much stress on the airframe or pilot input (its been
said the pilot can sit back and not touch a thing and it’ll re-enter the
atmosphere on its own). To me, that’s engineering and creativity at work.

Wow!

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