The Edge Effect

Friday, August 25, 2006

Computer Woes


Now it's my laptop.

The power cord has been touchy for the past week or so. I was hoping that it was just the cord itself so I could replace it easily. Today the problem got too bad to ignore so I went to CompUSA where I originally bought the machine.

Unfortunately it is the connector on the computer itself that has come loose. They replace the whole motherboard rather than risking damage by soldering it back into place. Not only that, but since it's still under the first year warranty, they have to send it back to the manufacturer for service. That'll take about 2.5 weeks which is about 1.5 less than I expected so that's a plus.

So I'm spending today backing up my hard drive to be sure I have a few things to work on for the next couple of weeks and also in case something terrible happens in this process and the drive gets wiped or damaged. I wanted to just pull the drive and use it in an external enclosure for the coming weeks, but the tech guy says that would void the warranty even if he pulled it. I guess they aren't allowed to do anything to the machines that are on the first year and they have to send the entire package back to the company.

Quelle bummer! I guess it could be worse, but this stinks.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Success At Last!


With a LOT of tech support and a house call from Dr. Bob the new computer is finally up and running. I had to buy a new power supply for quite a bit more than I expected, the TV adaptor isn't initializing properly, and the CPU fan has a noisy bearing, but other than that it's all good.

Yay Bob, many thanks! Yay!

I hereby crown Bob King of all computer stuff.


Ok, I've come up with a new idea to make my gazillions. This one is really good and I think it's going to revolutionize an entire industry.

DVD cases.

Think of it. You check out a couple of DVDs, lose the receipt, watch one, then a few days pass. You want to watch the next one, but can't remember when it's due. D'oh! Should you renew it or can you just hang on to it for a couple of more days?

Wouldn't it be nice if your DVD had a sticker or some sort of stamp stating which day it was due? Sort of like the stamp in the front of books from the library. But if you were to stamp every DVD every time, you'd end up with an ugly stack of stickers. And the little library slip would rip off easily.

The answer seems to be some sort of resettable indicator on the DVD case itself. The DVD cases are already fairly complicated since they have those plastic locks that have to be released by the special machine before you can open them. So my plan is to create a new unlocking machine that includes an extra key that reaches into a slot on the case and sets a tab or dial or something into one of seven positions marked to represent the days of the week.

The unlocking/date-marking machine could either be set manually each morning by the video store staff or it could be on a timer to click over automatically each day.

Surely there are better, slicker, more hi-tech solutions, but this one seems quite simple and inexpensive. Not to mention effective. I'd certainly get use out of it.

I'm willing to sell the rights to this idea and even to collaborate in the design and marketing. Just make me an offer. I should be raking in the dough within the next couple of months I expect.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Point of View

You may have already seen this, but it deserves a link anyhow. A view of the New York Times through your right eye only.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I've finally made an album of photos taken while working on the new house. My plan had been to document the entire project in photos so there would be a satisfying 'before and after' album. Of course once I got into the frustrating, nasty parts I mostly quit taking pictures. That and my battery charger was packed.

So you'll see that there are photos of the house from before we bought it (those are the ones where there is snow on the ground and the house is clean), then there are pictures of the first few major jobs I undertook. These include fixing the gas line to the dryer and building the fence. Then there is a great leap from the fence to the nearly finished master bedroom.

I wish I had taken better before pictures of the bedroom. If you look closely, you may be able to figure which before pictures match the yellow after pictures. It was two bedrooms with closets in between. I hired a well-recommended contractor to remove the wall and rough in a new closet at the back. After that though, my good friend Eric and I did all the drywall, electrical, etc. Once C got back we put in the parquet floor and painted. Since then we have put up closet doors, track lighting, and a few other finishing touches. Not finished yet, but getting there.

There are also some pictures showing just how much of a sty I am capable of living in. When I was moving/working and there wasn't much call to be tidy I wasn't. So please excuse the extreme mess in some of these and absolve C of responsibility for said messes.

Hopefully I can update this with more final photos soon, then we can have a bbq so those of you in the listening area can come and see for yourselves. Or you could just drop by any time you feel like it.

Anyway, here's the link. Enjoy!


I imagine most affected parties already realize this, but you should if you don't. All UofM students are eligible to buy a copy of Windows XP Pro from the Computer Showcase in the basement of the Union for around $14.

Unfortunately you can only get one, even if you have been a student for multiple degrees or in multiple programs. But this is such a deep discount that everybody should take advantage and give it to a family member, keep it for later, or sell it for a tidy profit.

Most of the deals at the Computer Showcase aren't that great, but this one seems worth advertising.

That is all.

Monday, August 14, 2006

New Computer and Credit Card Strangeness

Excitement first. I ordered components for a new Home Theater PC today. We've been using an ancient HP as our media system for a while now and this last move was just a bit too much for it.

I'm pretty excited about the new one. Partially because it'll be good to have a new HTPC, but also because it'll be the first time I've tried to build one ground-up. Should be pretty sweet.

So here's the case.

It's a nice little cube that should be way less obtrusive than our current tower. There were a couple of others that looked slicker, but for the price, this one came with the best power supply and organization.

We'll set it up with a cheap-o Celeron processor and various parts of our old computer and should have a nice HTPC for a very reasonable price. Hopefully I can post a report on the building process at the end of the week. But given the way some of the house remodeling projects have gone,it may not be web-worthy.

On a related topic... I ordered all these components on line from a website that I've used in the past with a credit card that I've used in the past. When I tried to confirm my order though, I kept getting a 'declined' message. Having recently moved I thought maybe my address hadn't caught up yet. So I tried to change it back to the old one. No luck.

As I was changing it back I got a call. It was the credit card company checking in because they had seen an unusual charge attempt on my card. It was the transaction that I was in the middle of right then. Kind of freaky. She 'reset' my account and I was able to check out before hanging up the phone.

It's nice to know they're looking out for fraud. On the other hand it strikes me as a little odd that you have to sit on hold for three hours to discuss a billing error, but there is a live human watching my credit card activities in real time who can get through to my cell phone quickly enough to help me complete the transaction.

And for such an on-the-ball outfit, it strikes me as odd that I didn't have to verify my identity to the credit card company. She just called, said "we see something strange," I said "Yep, I'm doing that," and all was well. If someone had stolen my wallet and phone, they could easily have gotten by.

Anyway, I guess if someone steals my wallet and phone, I'm screwed.

And that, kids, is today's lesson.

Uh... Hi

Ok, so I haven't posted much (anything) lately. I know, I'm a great slacker. I could give all the normal excuses about being consumed by remodeling a house, having my wife return to town, trying to catch up to a reasonable place on my dissertation, etc. But you probably know that and you don't really care.

I've got a few things to post about this week, but I don't feel like putting any energy into it this AM. Also, the Haloscan problem is still not completely fixed (sorry Bob), but I think it's partially fixed. Now instead of seeing a Haloscan link on direct link pages you should just see no comment link. Maybe?

So I'll try to get things rolling again with a cop-out post. Pharyngula today links to a paper refuting the "Evidence-Based Movement" in medicine.

This seems like a useful little tool for finishing a dissertation early. It's really the data and evidence part that's slowing me down. I mean I already know the basic argument that I want to make. Plus if I were freed from the constraints of evidence I could probably come up with some pretty cool nuances to add.

I think I'll take this to my advisor this week and ask if I can just replace all my data analyses with this reference. Some of you know him, what do you think his reaction will be?