Subaru dream

After hearing me mention that we considered a Subaru Outback as plan B if we couldn’t get a Prius, a Subaru dealer tries to sell me a new car. I don’t seem to be buying it, so he takes me to a special Subaru dealership hidden away in the countryside. The area is surrounded by trees and grass. The buildings are large and low, like aircraft hangars. We walk past lots filled with SUVs.

Apparently it’s WTF week

Yesterday, a server died. Turned out it had bad RAM too. Today, someone deleted 100MB of files from an important database, and I had to do another restore on the System i. This afternoon, it was noticed that some config documents were mysteriously not restored by my previous efforts. After investigation, I discovered that someone had helpfully copy-protected a random assortment of configuration documents. I have no idea why.

Whatever it takes

Friday was definitely the worst Friday ever. I wandered in to the office with my coffee, and discovered that my main work laptop—an IBM ThinkPad, obviously—had mysteriously powered itself off overnight, instead of merely going to sleep. I booted it, only to get the dreaded Fan error message. (If you’re falling asleep already, skip down to the moral of the story.) A fan error is pretty much the kiss of death for a recent laptop.

Tech Support Tales: Dead laptop

User: I can’t do anything right now, my laptop’s broken. Me: Don’t you still have that spare I set up for you? User: That one’s broken as well. Me: Maybe I can get it running again. I know it’s old and the IT people won’t fix it, but it’s better than nothing. User: Well, it’s not really a problem with the software. Me: I’ve got spare RAM and hard drives.

Debian wears out my patience

I’ve been happily running Debian on my ThinkPad for over a year, probably the longest time I’ve ever kept a single OS on the thing. Or rather, I had been until Saturday. Saturday is when I decided to update my I’d had some problems with before. Debian Testing upgraded to 7.0, and it turned out the ATI FireGL T2 drivers in that were broken. So, no fancy new X.


Recently when I’ve searched on Google, I’ve noticed increasing numbers of ads that end with “aff.” For example: RAM Memory Upgrades 100% Compatible Memory for Desktops Laptops & Printers. Free Ship! Aff Gerbil for sale. aff. Check out the deals now! Disturbing Ghost Footage warning: very freaky -aff. All real examples, and the last was the result of searching for “Korean”, believe it or not. Anyway, at first I thought “aff.

Do PowerMacs dream of electric bills?

People often wonder if they should turn their computer off, or leave it on but put it into “sleep mode”. I decided to do some analysis a while back, here are the results. If you look up the specs, a Sawtooth Power Mac G4 in deep sleep uses about 4 watts of electricity. In MA you pay $0.04823 per kWh, so it costs 4 / 1000 kW * 24 hours * 365 days * $0.

Security woes at work

I got flagged for having failed an automated security scan at work. I explained that the scanner program was wrong, and that I was running anti-virus software. The next month I got flagged again, explained again. This time they said the problem was that I wasn’t running the exact version on the internal download site. I said yes, of course I wasn’t. The version on the download site was over three years old, and caused Windows 2000 instability resulting in BSODs.

PC building update

Yes! The Shuttle system is working. Mark gets a new computer. The secret turned out to be holding down the Insert key on power up, which is a secret handshake that makes Shuttle systems auto-reconfigure themselves to the installed hardware. So, a nice little Athlon XP 1700+ with 512MB of high-speed DDR Corsair RAM. Should be quite an upgrade from a 600MHz Compaq.

PC building

“Ah, cruel fate that hath boned me so. Ask not for whom the bone bones, it bones for thee.” —Bender, “Futurama” So I have a non-working Shuttle PC. No video output at all, but it flashes the lights in the usual way as if testing the IDE devices in turn. I’m guessing bad motherboard or bad RAM. Bleagh.