August 14th, 2008

#1223: It's due to global warming.

Cool August, cool decade, and the guy writing the article takes meteorology seriously enough not to say it's because of global warming.

The relatively cool temperatures here in the Chicago area since 2000 reflect the temperature trend for the planet since 2000--no warming has been recorded since 1999--and may point up the 0.75° reduction in the global temperature anomaly since January 2008.

* * *

I have until September 10 to complete my on-line driving safety school course. *sigh*

* * *

I'm a bit disappointed--but not surprised--that although I ordered a bunch of manga from Robert's Anime Corner Store early (like 1 AM) on Monday, I haven't gotten them yet. When I ordered a bunch of manga on a Wednesday I got them the following Saturday, and the USPS showed them as received and in transit less than 36 hours after I placed the order.

But the thing is, I expect that every Monday morning Robert et al come in to find a bunch of fresh orders awaiting their attention--and if that's so, then it makes sense that it would take longer to get them into the mail. As long as I have the books before I leave here at about 2 AM Monday morning, it's all good.

* * *

...yeah: leave here at 2:20 AM in order to get to the bus station around 3:20 AM, so I can catch the bus at 3:50 AM for O'Hare in order to arrive there no later than about 4:45 AM. Check in, get my tickets, etc, etc, and be waiting at the gate until the flight boards.

When I get to Portland, Maine, at 11:20 AM, I expect to be ready for a nap....

* * *

I'm also watching--with keen interest--the progress of my laptop parts. According to the UPS web site they are "scheduled" to be delivered today, but the tracking page shows that the box is "in transit to" Harvey, IL--from Hodgkins, where there's a huge-ass UPS hub. I used to drive past that place every day on I-294. It's got a huge phallic sign out front, and it's right next to a big intermodal facility. (That makes sense when you consider that UPS likes to ship its cross-continental trailers by train.)

I want to make sure my laptop will read DVDs before I go to all the trouble of burning a bunch of data DVDs of anime episodes. I need the DVD drive in hand to make sure it will fit and operate correctly--oh, the web site said it would fit my LT, and I believe it, but I'm paranoid.

* * *

Right now Target has got an Epson "all-in-one" inkjet scanner/printer/copier for $40. I'm seriously considering buying one. Even if it ends up sucking, it's freaking $40--I probably wouldn't even use it as a printer. I'd just use it to scan stuff. I want to scan and copy a bunch of my manga pages so I don't have to take the originals with me to Maine.

But we'll be going out to Sears today in order to look at dishwashers and over-the-stove microwaves, so it wouldn't take much for me to make a quick side-jaunt to the Target store and gank me a printer/scanner/copier/WTF.

Of course, the copy machine at the library would cost me $0.10 per page.

* * *

As a lark, I looked through the "software" category on Mininova, and one thing I saw amused the heck out of me: someone posted a "war3z" (cracked) version of Avast! Home Edition.

Avast! is what I use on this machine, and there's a funny thing about it:

The "Home Edition" is freeware. All you have to do is register it, but the registration is free.

Nah, there's no malware in a cracked version of anti-virus freeware! No security holes there at all! It's just so you don't have to register it, right? Of course it is!


#1224: Okay, that sucked

I just had a post-installation shower. I needed it.

In the previous edition of AF I mentioned that I was thinking of buying a new Epson all-in-one printer/scanner/copier thing, because it was $40.

That really was my reasoning, too: "Hey, I need a scanner, and this thing costs $40." So this evening after Mom and I had ordered a new dishwasher and over-the-stove microwave oven--the last two missing components of the kitchen rebuild--I bopped over to the Matteson Target and ganked me a printer/scanner/copier thingy.

In order to make it work, however, I needed to move the computer to the other side of the desk, because for some stupid reason every goddamned USB cable in the world is one meter (39 inches) long. (Yes, there are longer ones. I have one. One.)

Besides that, Windows fucking Vista insisted on installing updates. So I had to shut the machine down and rearrange half the freaking continental United States in order to plug the Epson into the computer without having to go buy another USB extension cable.

In fact I have contemplated, many times, moving the computer to the other side of the desk. It makes more sense to have it where it is now; and so there it sits. But it was a fricking 1.5 hour job to make it happen.

First I had to unplug everything and figure out what the hell it all went to. I had to move a whole load of shit out of the way. I had to clean the lint out of the computer, something I have to do at least every 3 months because the bunker is an egregiously dusty shack--a smoker has lived in this house as long as it's been habitable, and smokers generate ash, which readily converts into dust.

And, of course, two cats, which shed like crazy.

There was a phone cord which hasn't been used since 2005; it went. There was an extension cord with a power brick for the HP scanner plugged into it, but the cord was unplugged. That got moved. And approximately 40,000 other wires and cables which were wadded into something approximating the Snarl. How the hell can one computer need so many freaking cables? Jesus.

Anyway, to make a long, tedious, and horrifically annoying story short, the computer has been moved, both printers are plugged in, all the USB ports on the back of the computer are filled with devices I will use a lot, and I have only one remaining connection to make, but first I've got to dig out an audio extension cable with which to make it. (I know I have it. I am even reasonably certain of where it is. I just needed a break.)

And after all this--with my bedroom about 10 degrees warmer than the rest of the house, as usual--I needed a shower. *sigh*

But it's done. I scanned an image; I printed a test page.

For the test scan, I grabbed the first thing I saw--the Diablo II Lord of Destruction CD--and was a bit dismayed at the apparent solarization of the image...until I actually looked at the disk itself and saw that the scanner had faithfully scanned the pattern of dust on the disk. Dayyum.

* * *

I also have a fondness for Epson printers. I used to be a die-hard Epson guy, before I got involved in repairing printers, particularly laser printers.

When I was a computer technician I did a lot of printer repair. And most of the printers I worked on were HP, because most of the business world used HP printers. They were the best. And when it came time for me to work on any other brand of laser printer, if it was not based on a Canon laser engine, invariably the printer was an execrable piece of junk and parts were hideously expensive. Epson laser printers were (in the 1990s) no exception to this.

There were some real stinkers out there, too, let me tell you. There were some brands I'd never heard of which were just awful, and even IBM's laser printers were junk.

I remember one weird dot matrix printer, a production printer with three print heads. It had a problem with jamming, and while we were trying to fix it, a TRIAC that controlled the print head motor caught fire. The thing was printing right along, and we adjusted the paper thickness lever; the print heads slowed down, slowed more, and then ka-fshhhh! one of the TRIACs burst into flame. WTF.

But in 1984, for Christmas, I got an Epson RX-80 F/T. It was a really nice printer at the time, even though it wasn't capable of "near letter-quality" printing; it had a list price somewhere around $400 as I recall, but it could do all kinds of neat stuff.

And a couple days later I spilled an entire can of Pepsi into it.

I took the cover off, cleaned it thoroughly, reassembled it, and nervously switched it on while holding down the "line feed" button, to activate the self-test...and it worked perfectly.

That printer lasted me for at least nine years. The tractor feeds broke sometime in about 1990, but I jury-rigged some rubber bands to take the place of the springs that had broken off, and kept on using it until I got my Brother HL-8e in 1993 or 1994. (I could not for the life of me locate the replacement parts.)

And so it sits in the basement...and if I wanted to, I could dig it out, put some paper in it, spray the ribbon with WD-40 to reactivate it, and print away at a glorious 100 characters per second, as if the intervening time hadn't happened.

I don't know how many times I recycled ribbons by hosing them down with WD-40, but it was plenty. Those ribbons were almost as indestructable as the printers themselves, and you could get a lot more than the rated life from them by using the WD-40 trick. And it didn't hurt the printer itself at all, either; the WD-40 wouldn't do squat to the print head except maybe lubricate it a bit.

Obviously, you can't do that with an inkjet printer. Oh well.