Death in the Family

Amongst all the joy and frivolity of the past week, I have a bit of somber news.

We’ve had a death in the family.

This death hits me especially hard.  We had spent a lot of time together and I’m very sad.

Yes… my Xbox 360 is dead.  Sunday morning I received the dreaded “Red Ring of Death“.  The very night before he had been so full of life, providing entertainment for friends at our holiday party.  It happened very suddenly and I don’t think he suffered.  In his short life, he enjoyed driving and sports games as well as shoot-em ups (as Jess calls them).  He will be greatly missed by those of us closest to him.

Funeral arrangements have been made (aka. support has been contacted).

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested you send any spare Xbox 360 consoles you might have to me to try to get me through this tough time.

No more Guitar Hero for me… at least for a while…

TV – Still for Sale

Ok, so I have yet to sell my monster, awesome TV.  It is still for sale.

I’m getting desperate.  I have already decided that since there is no real way I can wedge that thing into the house, that it will be going into storage until such time as I can offload it.

Here’s the new offer, if anyone might be interested.

If someone wants to take it now (ideally, someone I know) and make payments on that bad boy, say $100 a month, I would totally be open to that.  I understand that not everyone can scratch together $500 at the drop of a hat.

I figure, if I ain’t using it, there’s no sense in not letting someone else enjoy it while making payments on it.

If this fits any of you, let me know.

Again, here is the full craigslist description.

TV For Sale – $500 obo

Please… I’m begging… if anyone out there who reads this would like to buy an AMAZING HDTV from me before Saturday (or knows anyone who would) please let me know.

I’m attempting to sell my 36″ Sony Wega KV-36XBR400 CRT TV before, or while I’m moving. I am also selling with it the matching TV stand as well as a matching A/V cabinet.

This TV has unbelievable picture quality. HD is just awesome. The reason I’m selling it is that despite its quality, it is a rather large set. And heavy. I would rather not try to fit it into Jess’ place if I could just sell it instead. Plus, since I live on the 3rd floor, the movers are coming on Saturday, and they could assist anyone wanting to pick it up.

When I bought this TV in 2001, it retailed for well over $3000. You can bet, that when I bought this thing, it was absolutely top of the line. I really did my research when I bought. (some reviews here)

I will sell the whole package now for $500 or best offer. I have it listed on Craigslist, if you want to see pictures and read more about it:

Hell, if you help me sell this TV, I’ll throw $50 your way as a finders fee.

Ask people you know. Ask people you work with. Someone out there wants this SCREAMING deal for an amazing TV.

Email or call me if you have questions.

Thanks everyone.

Crazy Busy

CSSFor the past week, I have been absolutely up to my ass in web development. Literally morning, noon and night.

See, I needed to get some pictures posted for from their recent summer fundraising events. I got a little ambitious and tried a new CSS photo gallery thing that worked pretty well, until I got around to testing IE 6 and lower. Then it crapped out. While I was trying to get that fixed, I got another little request that would take precedence.

When I interviewed with Wirestone last week, they told me that I would send me a .psd file (Photoshop) that I would need to work on. Okay… I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I would figure it out soon enough.

Continue reading “Crazy Busy”

Goodbye Mr. Wizard

wizard_2.jpgDon Herbert, aka Mr. Wizard lost his battle with cancer yesterday at 89.  View the intro to his show here.  That will really take some of you back!

I LOVED Mr. Wizard. When he came on Nickelodeon in the 80’s, I was hooked. Watched every day. To my young fertile mind, he really was a wizard. To this day, I can remember being truly amazed by what I saw him do with simple household items. He turned me on to science. Maybe that was why I scored in the 98th percentile in science on the Iowa test of basic skills. (and in the 67th for math).

I can vividly remember him teaching us about all kinds of things. Including sight: look through a paper towel tube with one eye, keep your other eye open and hold your other hand up next to the tube… it looks like there’s a hole in your hand!

Or, how to make a volcano (which I did once) with vinegar and baking soda.

Or, how centrifugal force will keep water in the bucket, even over your head, if you spin it fast enough.

Or, how to make a secret message by writing on a a spiral of paper wrapped around a certain sized tube, and in order to read it, you had to have the same sized tube.

Or, how straws actually work not by sucking the liquid out of the glass, but instead by air pressure. And he set up an experiment to see how high they could suck liquid up a straw like tube (using a vacuum pump)

I could go on and on. His show had different ‘topics’ and I loved them all, supermarket science, challenge, how it works, safari. I really think this is why I watch so much History, Discovery, National Geographic, Science Channel shows now. I love them all… all thanks to Mr. Wizard.

So, I just wanted to say Goodbye and Thank You to Don Herbert. You were a serious influence in my young life that echoes even today. Of course, did I find it a little strange, even as a kid, that you always had a gaggle of young kids in your house? Perhaps… If you were anyone else, we might be thinking a Michael Jackson thing. But, at least you never gave any of them wine and porn.

Apparently, his show is available on DVD. I’ll tell you this… if I ever have a kid, he or she WILL be watching Mr. Wizard.

Spam Battle Update

I spoke a bit too soon.  When I mentioned last week that I had made a serious dent in the spam wars, little did I know that the spammers would strike back hard.

It seems, I’ve caught a new wave of spammers.  These ones are not trying to sell anything directly (aka bootleg pharmaceuticals)  but instead are simply trying to drive clicks to bullshit pages whose only purpose is to gain ad revenue without providing any content at all.

These new spams all have links to bogus sites like “”, “”, and “”.  These spams have key words that they hope to drive traffic, thus my previous methods weren’t blocking them.

Yesterday alone, I got 68 additional spams caught by Akismet when before it was down to 4 or 5 a day.

So, I had to add another level of protection.  This new plugin, called JS Spam Block, is rather interesting.  All it does is add a bit of javascript in the comment field.  It sends a script to the browser trying to leave a comment.  If your browser is .js enabled (almost all them are) you are allowed to comment and the user doesn’t even know they were approved.  If you don’t have javascript enabled (most spam posting bots do not) it prompts you to simply enter a number to continue to prove you’re human.  If you enter the number, you can post.  Obviously, to get an automated bot to do this is significantly tougher.  Genius really.

This one appears to be working.  Since installation last night, I’ve only had 5 spams caught.  The rest were blocked by my various other methods.  I have learned to never say I have solved the problem.  With spam, there simply is no solution, although the feds are trying.

One more shot in the never ending war.

Out of My Mind

Office SpaceI’m on the verge of losing it. I’m discombobulated. I’m disgruntled. I am frustrated and saddened.


You might think it could have something to do with the fact that the first time I ran through my taxes, I ended up OWING the government $950. (I’ve got someone looking at them for me). It could be the whole recent anniversary thing. It could be that the most annoying person in the world, Joakim Noah, won another national title and we had to endure seeing him nonstop on TV. Hell, it could even be that my sandwich at lunch today had muffaleta spread on it which makes me gag. (my burps taste like olives and it’s killing me)

But no. I could handle all those things if it wasn’t for this. I STILL HAVE NO DAMN PC. You have to realize… I use my PC for everything. Work. Entertainment. Information. Relaxation. EVERYTHING!

Here’s the story. If you’re not a ‘computer’ person, you might want to skip this one.

A couple weeks ago I started getting random reboot problems. The machine would shut down, just never when I was using it. I would come back to my machine and see a “Windows has recovered from a severe error” message. I did some investigating and could never find any definitive reason as to why this would happen. I tried various fixes, but things just kept getting worse.

Soon, it was crashing as I was using it. I didn’t want to wipe the hard drive and reinstall windows, but it was readily apparent that there was no other option. As you might imagine, that is quite an undertaking, mainly in finding all of my software to reinstall. A gigantic pain in the ass. Little did I know…

I backed everything up, and started the install process. I started to reformat my hard drive which normally takes a while. But this one was taking an inordinate amount of time. I ended up going to bed, while it still tried to format. When I got up in the morning, I saw a “windows was unable to format the drive” error. Frustrated, I went to work. When I got home again, I tried the whole routine again. After several attempts, I was able to get the drive formatted, or so I thought. When Windows tried to copy files to the hard drive to install, I kept getting driver errors (such and such file was unable to be copied errors). Finally, the thing just crapped out. Great.

I figured, it must be a hard drive thing. This was an old 80 gig drive and maybe it was just done for. So, I spring the 85 bucks for a new 160 gig hard drive (I had to buy retail in a store to get it quickly). Get home and start the whole process over again. Guess what… I started getting the EXACT SAME ERRORS. Ugh.

Now, out of ideas, I called my buddy Chris to come by. He’s a regular tech head and had a bunch of old spare computer parts.

We decided to swap out the motherboard since maybe that was causing the problems. To those that don’t know, everything plugs into the motherboard. So, you gotta completely disassemble the machine to do this. After swapping out my motherboard and reseating the processor and all that jazz, we tried to fire it up. Well, for some reason, this motherboard would refuse to power up with my video card connected. Nothing we could do could get it to work. Well, shit. It was nearing the end of the night and I was leaving for Oregon the next day, we decided to go get a beer instead.

Fast forward to next week. I had an old video card in my storage unit so I stopped to get it after work. Plugged that bad boy in, and lo and behold, we could power on! That is a good sign. After checking the bios and making sure we’re good to go, I attempted to boot to the cd/dvd drive, which you have to do to install windows.

Not so fast there, hot shot. For some reason, no matter what I try, I am unable to boot to the cd. The pc starts up fine, and goes through the regular things. It gives me the message “press any key to boot to the cd”. I can mash my palm into the keyboard, press every single key on there, and it NEVER boots to the cd. It just errors out saying that NTLDR is missing (which is what would start windows). I’ve tried 2 different windows CD’s. No dice.

So, Chris thinks that maybe its my processor that is fubar. Thus, I take the processor that he brought with the motherboard, and mount that one instead. Still no go.

Now, I have basically a totally different PC (different motherboard, processor and ram with a brand new hard drive) and still can’t get up and running. Do I want to physically hurt something? Yes. Do I want to chuck that thing out the window? Yes. Do I want to take that machine out to field somewhere and go medieval on it with a bat while “Damn it feels good to be a gansta” plays in the background a la Office Space? ABSOLUTELY.

I have no money for a new machine. At least, not the machine I want to build. This PC is about 6 years old, which in computer years is ancient. I was planning on trying to build a new PC this summer perhaps. However, with Uncle Sam (potentially) taking a gigantic chunk out of my ass, who knows when I might have the funds to put something together. In the mean time, I’M STILL WITHOUT A PC WITH NO END IN SIGHT.

At the current rate, I could be without a pc for MONTHS. Which, to a guy like me, is a fate worse than death. Well, if not death, at least grievous bodily harm.

So, when you log on today and check your email, get the weather forecast, check movie times, read the news, do your shopping, listen to your mp3s, look at your pictures, watch a dvd, and read this blog, remember me.

Poor, sad, uncle-sam-owing, muffaleta-tasting, PC-less me.

Slow Updates

Hi Gang.

Just wanted to update you as to where I’ve been and why this hasn’t been updated in a while.

First, my PC has gone tits up.  It is a long tragic story that I may have to recount here, if only for the therapeutic value.  I think that has raised my blood pressure about 20 points.

Then, I just got back from the Oregon Coast.  I think that lowered my blood pressure by 15 points… so I’m not doing too badly.  I’ll tell you all about that.  I took a bunch of pictures that I will get on here as soon as I get everything back up and running.

So, keep checking back.  I’ll have more for you soon!

Flickr Theft

I’m browsing the web this morning when I come across a link to a blog about Boise State’s possible sale of the movie rights to the story of the Fiesta Bowl, when I notice the picture.

Gee… that kinda looks familiar…

Sure enough. Someone has stolen one of my images I placed on and used it without my permission or consent. They didn’t even give me a credit for having taken the picture.

That sucks hard. Here is the evidence.

First, my image posted on

And here is a screen capture of the blog in question

I’ve sent him a removal notice so we’ll see what happens… I’ll keep you posted.

Update: I got an email back from the owner of the blog who has since removed the picture. Alls well that ends well, I suppose.

Smoke detectors

Smoke DetectorEveryone has them. They are one of those things you don’t think about until you really need them. I have lived in many different places, every one of them had smoke detectors. Of course, I’ve never had a house burn down around me yet, thank God, so I’ve never actually used one.

Well, that is not entirely correct. I’ve had to interact with them multiple times. Which brings me to the reason for this post. Why in the hell is it that it is ALWAYS the middle of the friggin night that they start the slow beeping to tell you the battery is dying? WHY!? I have had this happen at least a half a dozen times, including 3:30am this very morning. It is that one-beep-a-minute deal that is just slow enough that you don’t awake fully and rocket out of bed, but just loud and annoying enough to keep you from actually sleeping. Usually, you spend a good hour or two in and out of sleep, not fully registering that something is going on, but knowing you’re not sleeping very well. Maybe that random beep is reflected in your dreams somehow very strangely.

Why does this NEVER happen say 5pm on a Tuesday, or noon on a Saturday… you know, when you could actually do something about it? Who built this hidden clock into the detector, and why did they think it would be funny? I would seriously like an answer to that.

The devious minds at have a device for sale which is designed to replicate this nightmare for your fun and amusement.  Torture your co-workers with the Mind Molester.

Another question I have is why in my tiny ass, 550 sq.ft. apartment do I have two smoke detectors that are not 10 feet apart? You have all heard those things… they could wake the dead. I truly think that one could suffice the whole apartment… but what to do I know? I don’t have the lucrative government smoke detector racket in my pocket.

I have some thoughts on smoke detector design as well. Now, I’m no electrical engineer or anything, but here are my observations. Way back when, smoke detectors ran on battery power. Ok… makes sense. However, every place that I have lived in in the past 8-10 years has the detectors wired to the house current (as well as each other to sound all alarms when one goes off), yet these devices still have battery backup. Ok, I understand that… they will function even if the power is out. Great idea. Of course, in some houses I’ve seen, like my ex-laws house in New Meadows has a smoke detector near the ceiling… all well and good… but that ceiling is some 30 feet off the ground. How in blue blazes are you going to change that battery at 4 in the morning? Better them than me, thats for sure.

So here is my question. Electronic design has come a long ways. If your smoke detector is wired to current anyway, why couldn’t you simply build in a battery charger and a rechargeable battery? Wouldn’t that make sense? So, instead of replacing a regular old 9-volt every 6 months (like anyone really does that anyway… you’re all like me and wait till it start beeping at you at 2 in the morning), you could have a sturdy lithium-ion rechargeable in there that you might have to replace every 5 or 10 years. Sure, it would cost more, but when you’re building/remodeling, you’d never even notice. Besides, isn’t one less thing to worry about remembering to do worth a few extra bucks? You could make it a ‘smart’ charger that could test the current store on the battery and only charge when it gets low (which is probably every 6 months or so). The charger would bring the battery up to full charge and then shut off for the next 6, 8, 10 months. I fail to see the downside here.

Perhaps someone out there can explain to me why this hasn’t happened yet. Maybe there is some quirk of these devices I don’t know about. I fully admit, I’m no expert. I’m just a guy who got dragged out of bed this morning to rip one of these things off my ceiling just so I could attempt to go back to sleep. And frankly, I could happily live the rest of my life not having to do it again.