Evolution

Oct. 17th, 2012 09:27 am
candidgamera: (Default)
I've decided to start using my Twitter and Tumblr accounts more. Honestly, if Tumblr had a real comments system, I'd probably just move there.

But I expect I'll keep posting once a day to LiveJournal, just the same.
candidgamera: (Default)
On Friday, I was installing some games from Impulse, GameStop's version of Steam, that I'd purchased a while back. One of the installations hung because it required a product key, which I could not get once I started installing, and did not know I needed. So I had to cancel and reinstall.

During that bit of fun, my computer crashed - straight to powered off. I started it up again, selected 'Start Normally' - and it went off again. I began to grow concerned. I started again, told Windows to skip the Startup Recovery - and it shut off again. The next time, I let it go into Startup recovery, and it died once more. Worried, I began checking for obvious things - the power cable was not as firmly seated as it could have been, so I guessed there was intermittent contact. I reseated it and turned the PC on - it went into Startup Recovery, and processed just fine, finding no errors.

So I thought the problem was resolved. Ha ha, no. Saturday evening, enjoying the new (HIGHLY improved) version of Elemental, in Beta flavor, I got another instant power-off. That evening settled into a pattern of crash, try to restart, crash during restart, try again, come up and work for a while, then crash again. Finally, I threw my hands up and started Hardware Monitor, which I'd used to help diagnose problems a couple of years ago. It monitors voltages, temperatures, fan speeds, etc. I let it run overnight so I would have an idea of what the minimums and maximums were.

Sunday, I got up and checked it - nothing really stuck out as problematic, but on an impulse, I compared the data to the sample I'd taken two years before. Some of the temperatures were higher, and the CPU fan speed was lower. Innnnteresting. Up until that point, my hypothesis was that my power supply was dying, but this suggested a heating issue.

So I conducted an experiment. I played Elemental until the PC crashed. About 25 minutes worth, or thereabouts. I then endured the boot-fail-boot-fail-boot-fail cycle until it finally came up - and then immediately started Hardware Monitor to check the current temperatures.

My CPU was at 100 degrees Celsius. The crashes were intentionally caused by the hardware to protect itself from overheating, and the boot failures were because it hadn't cooled down enough yet. Problem identified, I set about solving it. I opened the case, discovering the CPU fan and the heat sink caked with dust. I applied a vacuum cleaner liberally, closed it back up, and started the PC back up - has run like a champ ever since, peaking at about 58 degrees Celsius when running Elemental.

So glad it was not something more serious.
candidgamera: (Default)
I'm exhausted and irritable. Not getting enough sleep. The transition back to a normal sleep schedule is always a rough one. Fortunately, I have mostly caught up on the backlog of work stuff, and can start moving forward with projects again. And even take a few minutes out for reading the internet - I am particularly enjoying the Daily WTF site, specifically their feature articles about IT nightmares.

I've been reading Shadows Over Baker Street, an anthology of Sherlock Holmes / Lovecraft mash-up stories. I really like it so far. I think I bought it four or five years ago.

Cancel

Aug. 5th, 2011 09:25 am
candidgamera: (Default)
Sci-fi game cancelled due to player illness. Only one more potential session before the D&D game it was subbing for picks back up. And I'm okay with that. I had been struggling to muster the time to properly prep for it and still maintain my own Saturday sessions.

So I spent the evening with Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, and did a little data recovery work on a friend's old hard drive. And watched some Rifftrax shorts.

I am still working on a list of MST3K episodes for mini-marathons, which I plan to start sometime soonish.

Missing Day

Jun. 1st, 2011 12:03 pm
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My work computer had a software meltdown yesterday, collapsing the 'WinSOCK stack' - basically, the fundamental foundation of Windows networking. The ultimate cause was unknown, but a reset of the WinSOCK drivers took care of the problem almost instantly - once we figured out that was what was wrong.

Really obnoxious.

But I'm back up and running now, at least.
candidgamera: (Default)
And I got my new Richard Cheese CD a day earlier than expected, so I was able to add it right in. Now comes the process of whittling down the things I've picked up over the years that I just don't care for.

Surprise bonus - Windows Media Player's CD identification system was able to correctly identify the 'You Don't Hear Jack' Audio CD that came with You Don't Know Jack : The Ride. (It's a trivia game, for the unfamiliar) I didn't expect that, since the first 'track' on the audio CD is actually the game installer, and whenever I've played the CD on a normal CD Player, I had to skip the first track.

Technologic

Oct. 6th, 2010 12:28 pm
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I've been digitizing my music collection. It's not a very big collection, so I've only been working on it since Monday, and will probably finish this evening. Good thing, too - I have at least two CDs that have nontrivial physical defects that are interfering with playback. By going digital, I can reduce wear and tear.

I'm also working to organize and condense the mp3 collection while I'm at it. I have duplicates of several songs - the current record holders are Sephiroth's theme from Final Fantasy 7 (AKA One-Winged Angel) at four copies (now reduced to one) and Particle Man by They Might Be Giants, also at four copies (reduced to three, because it's on three different albums I own).

I have been uniformly impressed by Windows Media Player's ability to identify a CD as it is being ripped. Only one or two had to be manually identified, and the automatic identification took anywhere from as long as two minutes to as little as fifteen seconds. Considering the size of the database it has to be hitting to do that - that's pretty damn good.

I assume some of my LJ-homies use iTunes - do they sell mp3's, or are they using Apple's proprietary sound file format, still? I may want to legitimize some of the older tunes I acquired during my college years, but only if I can get them DRM free.
candidgamera: (Default)
One of my co-workers brought in a power supply that he's going to loan to me, so I can test out the hypothesis that my computer problems were brought on by a bad power supply. I shall keep my fingers crossed.. if it's the power supply, I might be able to get the company I bought it from to replace it without me having to ship them the whole damn thing.
candidgamera: (Default)
I am working on my work-issued Netbook as time permits. A neat little Windows 7 (32Bit) Basic installation. I have a mini optical mouse and an external USB DVD Drive. I've been loading it with useful software, but we've been told we can use these as we see fit, even for non work stuff, so I've added a MUD client and the incomparable HeroLab software for use with Mutants and Masterminds.

My tabletop game is going hi-tech! I love it.

HeroLab, for the uninformed, not only does an awesome job with character creation, it also allows you to run combat rounds and track damage conditions. I'd honestly been considering buying a laptop to run it at the table, but work took care of it for me.

Plus the netbook has a touch screen. I can play MahJongg without a mouse!
candidgamera: (Default)
Got to run my game, which is always a plus. Helped Eric out with some computer stuff - getting files off of his archaic, crumbling Win98 Box that can't recognize USB thumbdrives. His new PC (a gift from a friend of his) is decent - WinXP, 2 GHz Processor - but oddly low in memory. (128 MB) Still, it's a damn sight better.

Got my parents' presents wrapped, too. All set for Christmas now. And I just found out we're getting an extra half-day off - bonus.

Work Woes

Nov. 18th, 2009 12:15 pm
candidgamera: (Default)
How to discuss this without being inappropriately specific .. hmm.

There's a department here at the school that does some financial reconciliation with a state agency. The amount of money our system says we spend needs to match the amount of money their system says we spent. The old method of doing this reconciliation was to download the state agency info in a spreadsheet, dump our info in a spreadsheet, and (I'm not kidding) load up the spreadsheets side by side on your screen and scroll down slowly, noting where they differed.

This was a process ripe for improvement.

For a while now, I have been doing the comparison for them - I load the state data in our database, run some scripts I concocted, and email them the differential output. Instant comparison. No fuss, no muss. So, this past week, I turned that process into an automated job. They download the file from the state, rename it and convert it to CSV by opening it in Excel and using 'Save As', and then run this process in our system. The output files I had been emailing them are now instantly at their fingertips.

So what feedback do I get for reducing their effort by 95 percent?

"Too many steps," writes one stakeholder. Apparently, I was supposed to build a robot to do the process for them while giving them a back massage.

Another asks me a series of questions about the process - all of which are clearly answered in the detailed instructions I sent to them. Not that the instructions were lengthy, mind you - it is an absurdly simple process. She just.. didn't read them.

Users suck.

I Return

Jun. 8th, 2009 10:38 am
candidgamera: (Default)
Friday was annoying. I was up till 3AM (Thursday night?) taking care of backups and running the initial database setup scripts, then puttered off to bed for five hours and went into work at 9AM to do the software upgrades. Everything went smoothly. Some co-workers and I came in Saturday at 9AM to test. Couple of hiccups, but nothing we couldn't handle. All is well.

Other DBA kicks off an Oracle job to gather statistics on the database, which will basically make it run faster. (Since we did a full export/import, we lost our statistics.) Weird things begin to happen. The database becomes unstable, and crashes. The reporting database CLONED from the upgraded database, meanwhile, is rock-solid. Even when we gather stats on it.

Nothing like this error has occurred in my six months of testing with our upgrade database.

After a few attempts to remedy the instability, we are forced to declare the upgrade a failure. Sunday, working from home, we revert the various software code trees to their previous incarnations and restore the cold backup of the pre-upgrade database. We have to hand the error to Oracle tech support to resolve - it's beyond us.

In other news, my rabbit trap caught a cat. Not just any cat, but Cat. Cat is a regular visitor - or, at least, she uses my yard regularly as a part of her patrolling path. I think Cat is an owned cat, though she has no collar, she is in excellent health and seems well-fed. She's roamed the neighborhood since the first year I've lived there. Cat has always been skittish, though, so I'd never gotten close to her.

Friday, I came home and noticed the door to the trap was closed. A-ha! My heart sailed at the prospect the rabbit may have been caught, then fell as I saw a black and white thing in the cage. Muttering silent prayers that I hadn't caught a skunk, I edged closer for investigation. Laying on its side, with its back to me, was Cat. I worried that Cat may have been dead or injured, because Cat seemed very still, so I spoke up - and Cat awakened from its peaceful nap instantly, and meowed at me.

While apparently displeased with its captivity, Cat was not so displeased as to miss afternoon naptime. Assuring Cat I would return quickly, I stepped inside to grab some gloves - I had assumed that the release of Cat from the cage might involve hissing and scratching, especially with Cat's aloof nature.

Heh. Cat was apparently grateful for its release, and wound around my legs and submitted to head-petting for the better part of half an hour. No scratching ensued. I even stepped inside again, briefly, and fetched Cat a snack - some sliced turkey from the fridge. Cat didn't seem terribly hungry at first, but enjoyed the taste. She licked the turkey over and over again until she'd worn a hole in it. Finally some bits actually made it to her mouth, and she ate about half of it before decided it was time to groom. Then she resumed her patrol.

And now, a LOLCat.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
candidgamera: (tardy)
I'm using Windows Vista at work these days, and it's not too horrible. The installation image we use here apparently has some of the nagging security features turned off, which is a blessing. It boots very slowly, so there's that. It's also got that quirky widgets bar down the right hand side of the screen that takes up valuable icon space. You can close it, of course, but I find it interesting that they didn't just program the widgets to sit on your desktop without a special sidebar.

The most annoying thing so far - and I have no idea if this is a universal Vista thing or just my PC - is that I can't increase the desktop screen resolution back to what I had it using under XP. Which means, again, less usable desktop space for icons.

I don't like some of the changes under the hood, either - the only way to register a new file type extension is by having a file of that type and right-clicking it, and going through some steps. It used to be I could get to a file type management screen (which is still there) and add them there (but that feature was removed).

I do like the way the 'lock computer' functionality has been changed though - not a lot of technical difference is visible, but the presentation is good, and you can switch users while the PC is locked now.

My favorite feature has to be the 'window thumbnail' thing - when you hover your mouse cursor over a minimized item in the taskbar, you get a tiny visual representation of the window's contents. Handy for differentiating a bunch of browser sessions quickly.

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