October 7th, 2011

#2985: I really want to sleep some more.

This business of being up until all hours of the morning is 100% for the birds. I had intended to go to bed before 1 AM, but then the writing bug bit and I churned out about eight pages of the latest rewrite project.

I advanced the story a little farther, parsimoniously dealt the reader a few more clues about WTF happened, and in the process blew up a recently-uncovered archaeological find in a spectacular fashion. I always love blowing shit up and as one character says, "science is more fun when there are fireworks involved."

So it wasn't like I sat here playing Freecell all night or anything.

The problem stems from the fact that I've got stuff I want to do today, and it's got to be done relatively early, so I set the alarm for 11 AM...after going to bed around 4:30. That's considerably less than 7 hours of sleep, and so I feel rancid.

Christ, have I gotten soft.

* * *

Biden says, of the economy, "We have turned it around." I have to assume he means that the Democrat party has successfully pinned the current crappy economy on George W. Bush such that Obama has yet to be held accountable for his contributions to the situation, because the economy sure as hell hasn't been "turned around" at all.

World faces an unprecedented financial crisis. Quantitative easing, which did nothing to help the US economy beyond a certain short-term boost, is now the rule of the day for other countries. It'll work there about as well as it worked here.

Karl Denninger agrees.

There were 103,000 new jobs created in September but 45,000 of them were due entirely to Verizon union babies ending their strike and returning to work. U6 went up to 16.5% and U3 remained unchanged. You do the math.

"President Obama spun a work of creative nonfiction yesterday in his latest pitch for his jobs plan...." In other words, the lying liar told another lie to advance his agenda. Big surprise, there.

* * *

Wonderduck writes a novel about "The Flight to Nowhere". He's a big WW2 history buff and his posts on it are always interesting and worthwhile reading, though.

* * *

Need an AR-15 lower? Throw an aluminum billet on the CNC and have it by dinner!

...that day is coming.

* * *

Not an hour after I placed the order for the parts for my new computer, I was already impatient: I want it now! Gadzooks, how long has it been since I looked forward to tinkering with a computer?

I mean, this isn't going to be something like taking a new laptop out of its box and finishing its initial setup; I've got to build the thing and install the OS and configure it, entirely from scratch. Ideally I'd like to work out how to administer it remotely so I don't have to get up and hike all the way down the hall to Mom's room. I mean, including the distance to and from the doors to the rooms it's almost twenty feet.

...kind of tempted to invest in a KVM switch and just put the thing on my desk, you know? That might be easier. It's not like it's going to be big or anything, after all.

The hell of it is, the new machine will be powerful enough to do everything I do except World of Warcraft. For basic computer things like word processing and such, it'd be fine; and I'd wager that I could toss the spare video card into it and use it as a video player as well!

I have no idea how the on-board video will be for things like that; but if it works, why not? Instead of just using it for torrenting stuff, why not watch anime with the thing?

The mobo has a VGA output rather than any digital video out (like HDMI) which is one reason I got it for so little. These days HDMI outputs are all the rage. Well, my monitor has both analog and digital inputs and can switch between them with the press of a button...and if I'm using the new box to play videos, it turns out I can use the wireless keyboard and mouse with it instead of having them plugged into the main PC. Take the DVI-to-VGA adaptor that came with the video card and plug that into the cheapie video card in the torrent box--which also has the S-Video output--so no KVM switch needed; and how do you like that?

...two computers and a 5-port switch on my desk. That means I'm going to have to clean it again. *whimper*

* * *

On the plus side, during WoW sessions I can have the torrent box--I need to decide what its name will be--running Firefox and displaying WoWHead, so all I have to do is switch the monitor and use the other keyboard to look up info. No more alt-tab!

...the torrent box won't be running torrents (or will be throttled) during WoW sessions; otherwise uTorrent hogs all the bandwidth and nothing else can get through. It'd be nice if there were a way to do it automatically, so that it would auto-throttle whenever WoW was running, but if such a way exists I sure don't know what it is.

* * *

Anyway, I've got chores to attend to; so I'd better get going.

#2986: Computer names (again)

I'm still thinking about what to name my impending torrent box; and I realized that the name of the P3 was--I'm pretty sure--Jurai, the homeworld of Ayeka and Youshou and Sasami. (Tenchi Muyo! for the non-otaku out there.)

So Jurai is out, anyway.

I am pretty close to going with "El Hazard" for the box, because its main task will be downloading anime and El Hazard is "the world of endless adventure". (Incidentally, that phrase has always resonated with me. It's so majestic and cool.) But that name would be better for a NAS box that stored all my anime in a RAID-6 stack; which--as I've said--this machine may become, one day. So that might be best.

If I were to abandon the "anime world" meme I could name it "Chiyosuke", because it's so small and cute, but that'll open up a whole new can of worms that I really don't want to touch. There are vastly more characters than worlds, but considering that I don't add a computer to the network all that often I don't need that many names.

Hmm--I'll have to wait for a sale and then get a dedicated UPS for the torrent box. It won't have to be a big one.

...haven't even considered mining Crest of the Stars and Banner of the Stars for world names, but that's another option.

* * *

When the hell was it that I phoned in my RX refills? Tuesday? I didn't note it here but Tuesday sounds right, and Wednesday I planned to pick them up today, and I recall at the time thinking that the refills should be ready Thursday at the latest.

Boy, was that wrong. They're still waiting to hear back from my doctor--who isn't in on Fridays!--so tomorrow morning I've got to call the doctor's office and tell them to approve the f-ing refill before I have to get medieval. Fortunately I have several days' worth of medication left, so I can pick it up Monday or even Tuesday if need be.

Seriously: if you're not going to appove the f-ing refill in a speedy fashion, either make the prescription for a longer period (90 days versus 30) or specify more refills than "none", damn it.

* * *

So I essentially wasted a trip to Wal-Mart; thank God I took the motorcycle instead of the Jeep--instead of using a gallon of gas I used probably a third that much, and had more fun to boot.

And I stopped at the parts store on the way home and bought the battery for Sailor V's ATV; it fit handily into my knapsack with the mouthwash I bought at Wal-Mart.

Before filling it, I put on the acid-ruined henley (it was, after all, one of the new ones. $5 wasted!) and filled the battery; and of course because I put on a pre-ruined shirt I didn't end up spilling so much as a single drop of acid. The battery is now on a charger and I'm contemplating what I'll fill my stomach with. I don't want to go anywhere (since I'm planning on Chinese for dinner) but there isn't really anything I want to eat right now, either. I'll probably end up swinging by McDonald's on my way to VHQ with the battery, later on.

Oh well.


Thinking about it, I realized that the new machine has a PCI expansion slot, and my spare video card is PCIe, which are not compatible. So if I want to use the machine to watch anime, I'll need to buy a video card.

This one would do. It's $28, has 64 MB of VRAM, and an S-video out port.

My other choice is $39--as much as I paid for the motherboard!--and

Or this one, for $45, and it might even enable the new box to run WoW. Holy shit.

WIth a video card, I'm into the project for perhaps as much as $160; but I'm going to wait until I have the machine assembled and running before I start worrying about this.

You still can't beat a new computer for that price. Especially if it turns out to be able to run WoW!

#2987: Still more thinking about the impending new computer

While reviewing the prior posts I realized that it's been 28 years since I got my first computer. Like a lot of folks around my age, my first computer was a Commodore 64.

With a disk drive, it was $400 in 1983 dollars. The floppy drive was priced the same as the computer in the summer of 1983: $200. In 1983, a candy bar was still about $0.25, and a typical magazine was $3. Paperback books cost a couple of bucks apiece. A decent new car was perhaps $10,000.

It was pretty much state-of-the-art in home computers, too. The Apple ][+ was more expandable, but the typical configuration for one of those was a CPU with 48k and one or two floppy drives...and it cost some $2,000 in that configuration. The IBM PC (model 5150) could address more memory, but it too was thousands of dollars. (And a hard drive was a mere $4,000 more! Get two!)

So when I think about the machine I use as my main computer--which cost $650 in 2007 dollars, when a decent new car started around $17,000--I realize that the prices of computers have not exactly kept pace with inflation.

...particularly when you start comparing processing power across the years. My old P3 can emulate a C-64 in real time--in fact the program needs to throttle itself to keep from running the C-64 programs too fast--and it was a mere 18 years newer than the C-64.

So a few years ago I saw, at Best Buy, an Acer something-or-other for $250 that would have stood Mom in good stead, and she considered buying it...and at $250 it was almost a "buy it and try it, and if it isn't good for you we can find another use for it" kind of purchase. We decided against buying the thing, which is just as well.

But the machine I'm building is approximately equivalent to that Acer, and so far I have $116 into it. Granted I'm using stuff I've got on hand to complete the build--a hard drive and an optical drive, keyboard mouse etc--but a 500 GB hard drive can be had for under $50 if you're not too picky about brand or speed.

So figure that if I had to buy the mouse, keyboard, hard drive, and optical drive, I could still have a complete CPU for around $200. (DVD-R drive, $20; hard drive, $50; keyboard and mouse, maybe another $30 at most.) Add a 19" LCD for $100 and you've got a complete system for about $300.

All these prices are shipped, too.

Understand, that's dirt cheap compared to what computers used to cost. $200 for a complete 21st century computer? Granted it's not a powerhouse, but it's more powerful than my P3 was and it will handle 90% of the things I use computers for.

* * *

Apparently, over in India they're producing a tablet computer which will sell for about $70.

...if it's any good, they could bring it to the US and sell scads of them at that price. $70 is "impulse buy" territory for most employed people in the US. Or they could ramp the price up to $100 and still sell about 80% of the number they'd sell at $70, and make obscene profit on it to boot--because it's for damn sure they're not selling that thing in India at cost, not at the $70 price point. (There's a lower price for students which I expect is probably the actual cost of the thing.)

Tablet computers are not powerhouses, either; but--again--for 90% of the things people use computers for, you don't need a crapton of power. Word processing, e-mail, spreadsheets, surfing the web--all that works fine on a lower-power computer and you don't need an i7 processor to do it. A keyboard, yes; and a mouse would help. But otherwise?

* * *

Just got an email informing me that the case has shipped. Oh, man, this is going to be a long weekend.