Showing posts from October, 2008

Dead Motherboard

My machine has been acting a little funny the last few days and not like the smooth gaming rig it has been since I built it. Last night I set my machine to go to Sleep mode and, when I decided to check email just prior to going to bed, it wouldn't come on. I managed to get it to run the BIOS, but then it died on POST.

Something was wrong with the BIOS.

This morning I read up on how to re-flash my BIOS for this motherboard, downloaded a known good as well as the current BIOS, put them on a USB, and managed to boot the system into the BIOS. I followed the directions, but the flash utility would not downgrade the BIOS to the known good. Since I was slightly afraid the current BIOS might be causing the problem, I wasn't really wanting to try that one, but I did anyway. Sure enough, it failed the flash and now my machine is dead to the world.

Didn't really want to buy a new MB right now, but if I want to get up and running, I must. Without a BIOS, a machine goes nowhere really, re…

Brief Tax Note

I finally got my tax refund (in the full amount, but without the $600 incentive I really should be entitled to) deposited in my account on Friday of last week. So, many months late and without much fanfare, I finally have my taxes done (regardless of the fact I intially sent them to the IRS at the beginning of March!).


Addendum 10/31/08
Checked my account this morning and I had the $600 incentive check deposited in the account. Yay!

Selfless Acts

One of my good friends, Matt, has kidney disease and has been on a personal dialysis machine for a while now. Another of my friends, Annemarie, took it upon herself to be checked for compatibility with the first friend and found they are a good match for kidney donation.

Today, they are both in surgery as she gives one of her healthy kidneys to him.

As I type this, they should both be in the middle of surgery.

My thoughts and prayers are with them both for their safety during the procedure and a quick and healthy recovery afterward.

1. 10/24/08 I got an email that both patients are "doing as well as the surgeons could have hoped for" after the surgery. The next few days are important for both as one is recovering and the other is in ICU recovering. Keep sending any spare thoughts and well-wishes to SoCal to aid in their recovery!

2. 10/27/08 Got another note that Annemarie has been released and is doing okay. As of today, Matt should be released as well, and continuing hi…

Heroics, Super or Otherwise

Articles are suggesting that the NBC hit show Heroes may be in trouble. It is losing audience and the blog-sphere and comments boards are fairly negative. Warner Brothers recently announced, to almost universally negative reactions from fans, that they plan on taking their comic book movies (and they specifically mentioned Superman) in a darker direction after the success of The Dark Knight.

Here's what the suits at NBC and Warner Bros either don't know or have forgotten: people who like comic books like heroes. While it is true that anti-heroes and bad-assery will show momentary favor, those of us who like super heroes want our heroes to be, ultimately, heroic. We all go through our Punisher and our Wolverine phase. But the way in which those characters have stayed viable throughout the years is by having authors that show the inherent goodness inside the rage and the revenge. I mean, you don't hear much from Lobo these days, because he was too much of a one-note characte…

Calvin and Hobbes

I find myself missing Calvin and Hobbes. I have not found a comic that spoke so directly to me and my friends like that comic did on such a consistent basis.

While ostensibly about a child and his imaginary friend, Bill Watterson managed to actually speak to all levels on a variety of subjects. Calvin was smart, sassy, crude at times, sly, creative, and surprisingly emotional. Hobbes was just as intelligent, but also more conscientious and equally as emotional. The parents were always smart and seemed warm and caring, even when Calvin was at his worst.

The comic strip managed to hit the right balance between funny for funny's sake and having a message that only the best comics (of any type) can do. The strip touched on religion, war, economics, bigotry and a host of other adult topics as seen through the innocence of this one child's eyes. Many strips since (as well as before) have tried to hit the right balance between message and humor, but few really get it right.

I understand…

They Don't Build 'Em Like THAT Any More

M was home today, so we ran some errands. One of those errands was finding and purchasing some book shelves at Home Depot. These shelves had the color that M likes, were five shelves high (6'), and they had a few of them on hand, so we could get two that matched. And the price was fairly right at $65; we wanted them for the basement and didn't mind having lower-quality particle board and veneer down there, or that they wouldn't match with the other book shelf we already owned. Win-win, or so we thought.

We finished our errands, carried the shelves inside, and I set to work building the first one fairly soon after. These shelves were of the IKEA style, put-it-together-yourself variety. As it was using the same style of attachments as my computer desk, I didn't worry about it-- I knew how strongly those fasteners could hold.

Nearly immediately I recognized I was going to need assistance, so I called M down to the basement and we set to work. She kept me honest with the dir…

The Rise and Fall

Every fall I like to tell my TiVo to catch quite a few of the new shows. I watch a few episodes of each and then decide if I'm going to make it a regular program or delete the season pass. While I do this with the new shows, I also evaluate my enjoyment level of existing season passes and eliminate any that have tanked.

So far this early fall TV season, I have removed Two and a Half Men and CSI:Miami from my existing season passes. 2.5 Men seems to have seriously gone off the end and is completely one-note now (which is saying something, because it was only a 2 note show to begin with).You know it is time to stop watching when you find you are looking forward to reading the cue cards at the end credits than the show itself. CSI:Miami has been getting more ridiculous every season but, like a train wreck, I kept watching. The first two shows of this season were so predictable, poorly acted, and over the top that I just tuned out. And, dammit, why can't David Caruso frame himself…

And Happiness Ensued

The final piece of our Tivo-DirecTV puzzle was the fact we had to use an IR blaster in order for the Tivos to change the channels on the DirecTV receivers. IR blasters are notoriously unreliable and we found this truism to be doubly true. Occasionally we would record an hour of black screen, sometimes we would record the wrong channel-- it all depended on how the IR blaster was working, if there was interference, and/or if there were two copies of the channel.

M and I looked high and low for a solution, but were unable to come up with anything. However, about two weeks ago, I was on the boards for one or the other of these systems and, about 20 posts down, saw a link someone had posted to an article about channel changing and Tivo/DirecTV. I read the article, which was about 2 years old and about a company on that was creating a device that would allow users to take advantage of the USB port on the back of the DirecTV tuner and the serial port connection on the Tivo and have it change …


I was very disappointed a week or so ago when I went to turn on and use my TomTom and nothing happened. And I mean nothing. The only thing that happened was the little green "charging" light came on when I plugged it in. Other than that, nada. I tried the reset on it (which, for my device, involves simply holding the On/Off switch down for around 20-25 seconds), but still no go.

I called the TomTom support number and he had me walk through some very limited testing (which mostly involved me holding down the on switch while he was on the phone). He agreed it was not working and that I would have to send it in. Luckily, it is still under warranty (only got it a couple months ago), and I sent it into a Canadian depot that would "fix it or send you a new/refurbished one that is known to work." He said the RMA I got was only good for a month and that, once they received it, it could be upwards of three weeks to get it back.

Well, yesterday it returned; much faster than an…