Category Archives: Tech General

General electronics, computers, gadgets, tech science, privacy issues, etc.

ericsbane04 Is In the Works

I definitely CANNOT afford this, but I did it anyway.

I earned a couple C-notes a week or so back when my brother and I remodeled my niece’s bathroom. I’ve had the cash stashed away for a rainy day. I know it’s not raining. However, I really would like to have my video issue resolved. I have a really nice vid card (EVGA GeForce GTS-450) that I can’t even use with my current system because of issues with the PCIe 16 socket/circuitry. You can read more about that HERE and HERE.

Well, here’s what I did…

I was just for fun snooping around on CompUSA’s website (mistake #1), when I ran across THIS mobo on sale (limited number in stock). This model mobo is a few years old. When it first came out, it was a tad over $200.00 USD. CompUSA had it on sale for $99. This is a full size ATX mobo, very similar to my current GigaByte board.

I needed a mobo with all the ATX features that my GigaByte board has. Specifically, I needed two EIDE channels, 4 DIMM sockets, at least 2 SATA channels, a floppy controller, and a parport for my old printer. This new ASUS board had all that and more. It’s an SLI board, so if I ever want to run SLI, I can. It has a somewhat better Nvidia chipset than my GigaByte board. So, this is going to be a bit of an improvement for me.

A few minutes after clicking that BUY button at CompUSA, I wondered if I had an AMD cpu out in the shop that I could pop in to the old GigaByte board to make a really nice shop system. Well, I went out there and snooped around. While I do have some nice AMD processors out there, I don’t have any socket AM2 processors. Oh well. Then I had another thought (mistake #2)…

In for a penny, etc…

I went to a fav eBay seller whom I’ve dealt with a few times before. He always has some good used stuff for sale cheap. I searched through his eBay store and found an AMD Athlon64 X2 4000+ that came out of his own personal system (so he claims) and is guaranteed to work or money back. He wanted $35 for it. Not bad… you can still get them new for about $75. This guy has 100% feedback at eBay, and I have bought other items from him, as I said, so I’m pretty confident the processor is probably fine.

Being that this X2 (dual core) is an improvement over my current Athlon64 3800+ single core, I decided to buy it with the intention of installing it in the new board above. Since I name my machines based on the microprocessor being the heart of the machine, a change in cpu means a change in name. Hence, ericsbane03 will be renamed ericsshop01 (the new workshop system) with the old GigaByte board and the single core Athlon64 3800+. The new mobo with the Athlon64 X2 4000+ will become ericsbane04 (inside main system).

I’ll put ericsbane04 into the Cooler Master Nvidia tower that I just transferred ericsbane03 into the other day, along with the current drives and other hardware. I’ll put ericsshop01 into my old ericsbane02 beige tower that’s out in the shop right now. Clear as mud, huh? Is anyone really going to read all this carp I’m typing? Probably not. It’ll be archived here for my later perusing, though. :smile:

So, for a total of $146.00 (that I CANNOT afford), I’ll get two systems out of this deal; and best of all, I’ll get to have my vid card working again on my main system. I’ll be able to play S.T.A.L.K.E.R. again! YAY! Besides that, 14K fps is so much nicer than 2900 fps.

OK, so I might not be able to eat this next couple weeks, but what the hell… I need to lost that last 10 lbs, anyway.

Fat-so Bounce

Later…

~Eric

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Five Things the Internet Brought About That I Can Live Without…

…and one that I could not.

I could easily live without:

  • SPAM email

Commercial TV was bad enough. At least the commercials there served a purpose. They paid the bills for the folks broadcasting the programs you watched. What does SPAM do other than clutter up mail servers all over the world?

  • Twitter

I mean c’mon… really. What the hell purpose does this serve? It’s bad enough that folks have the attention span of gnats nowadays. This thing just makes it worse. If we’re all limited to 140 characters in the future, what will communication be like? There won’t be any.

  • Ignorant, know-it-all trolls with their own blogs/websites

Sheesh! Aren’t the talking heads on the Sunday news shows enough? Oh, no. Now we have to deal with fat-headed writer wannabes who think their facts are the only facts. Any rope-a-dope slob can bang out lengthy pseudo-authoritative articles about any topic under the sun. There oughta’ be a law!

  • eBooks

Now this is just a crime against humanity, folks. Gutenberg set us all free when he made it relative easy to disseminated information in printed form. People like Shakespeare made it entertaining for us to actually read books and plays. Along comes the ebook, an electronic facsimile of a real hold-in-your-hands printed and bound book. Now those same folks with the 140 character limit attention spans can download all kinds of books to their i-whatchamacallit and NOT read them either.

  • Internet Service Providers

Alright… now who in the hell gave these rat-bastards the sole guardianship of the Internet? Why must I use one of their services to access the Internet? Why do I have to PAY to access the Internet? It’s just wrong. The Internet should be free. Knowledge should never be restricted and doled out to only paying customers. Knowledge, and the means to access it, rightfully belongs to everyone. It’s an open source world, folks. It was that way long before the Internet was invented.

And that one thing that I could NOT live without:

  • You, my friend.

The shrinkage of the world, the tearing down of barriers, the interaction of people from vastly different cultures and far flung domains has been the most wonderful experience in my life. It has broadened my horizons to well beyond my own little group of friends and relatives. It has brought happiness, joy, and also pain. In other words, it has helped me to live a more fuller life than what I could have achieved from my own little town. You are the one thing the Internet brought about that I could not live without.

Later…

~Eric

Doctor Slackerstein Creates a Monster!

IT LIVES AGAIN!

I’ve been having some minor-ish issues with my ericsbane03 system for a month or so. It started out with my graphics card malfunctioning. It was an older EVGA GeForce 8500 GT (1Gig) card. It had been working fine for the past year, but one morning a while back it would not initiate on system power up. Hmm…

I thought it was a faulty card, so I scrounged up some couch and truck ashtray change and bought a new EVGA GeForce GTS-450 card. I came home and installed that one and VOILA! I had fabulous video again. However, it pooped out on me in just a week or so. Strange.

Well, I tracked down the issue (I thought) to a bad PCIe 16 socket on my mobo. I resoldered it. I cleaned the contacts. I talked nicely to it. That worked for a couple days. I could wiggle the card and get it to work, so I know that it’s a bad joint, broken trace, or worn out socket.

My aluminum Antec tower was pretty flimsy, so I thought that it might be stressing the mobo on its mountings, so I put ericsbane03 into an older steel case that belonged to my previous system (ericsbane02). It was one of those old beige colored towers. Blech! So yesterday, huh? Anyway, that didn’t solve the issue either.

This past week, a buddy brought me over a bunch of computer goodies that he wanted to get rid of because he was moving into a smaller abode. One of the items he gave me was a nice Core Duo system. Sadly, it has mobo problems also. However, it was installed in this really BITCHIN’ Cooler Master Nvidia tower. It’s a good looking tower!

Yesterday, Dr. Slackerstein* decided to recreate his monster. I took the guts out of my old beige box and installed them into this nifty Nvidia rig. I added a few extra body parts from here and there to create the MONSTER. It LIVES again! However, I still have the vid card issue. Fortunately, the system defaults to the onboard Nvidia graphics when it can’t detect at card, so I can still use my baby. It’s a difference between 15K fps and 2900 fps, but oh well. Whadya’ gonna’ do?

You can read the specs and see pics at this Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux thread. Like I said in that thread… she might be old, but like me, she can still raise some H3LL.

Later…

~Eric

P.S. Does anyone have a working GigaByte GA-M55plus-S3G socket AM2 motherboard lying around that they wouldn’t mind parting with? Let me know… send an email to the Nocturnal Slacker

*I’m not a real doctor. I just play one on the Internet. :wink:

I’m Part of That 3%, I Must Confess

I ran across an entertaining little bit while surfing around the Tech News Daily site this morning. It reminded me of a humorous computer story of my own.

Most of my online tech pals know what I’m talking about when I mention the night the Slacker danced the Irish jig. I’m not much of a dancer, but this one night I danced up a storm on my kitchen floor… on top of my computer tower. Heh! Yeah… it was a sight to see; a 265 lbs, 6’2″ man stomping maniacally on his computer tower that he had just recently scooped off the desk and slammed to the ground… along with all the hardwired peripherals and knick-knacks.

So yeah… I’m in that 3% group who have totally lost their cool and let an inanimate bunch of plastic, silicon, and metal get the best of me.

About nine percent of people have taken their frustrations out on the computer by hitting it with an object, such as a baseball bat or a fist. Only three percent have actually thrown a computer to the ground or against a piece of furniture, such as a desk.*

“What ever could have brought this about?” you might ask. If you can seriously ask that question, you’ve never used a computer before in your entire life. Here’s what happened, though… I had been having some buggy issues with an installation of Linux. I kept losing my configuration preferences and such.

It was really beginning to torque me up. It had been going on for about two weeks. It came to a head one evening shortly after another crash of a fresh installation. That’s when the dance party started. WOO-HOO! Everybody dance now! THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!

After a reassembly into another tower box and some more calm-minded troubleshooting, I tracked the issue to an intermittently failing Seagate hard drive that I had just recently bought and installed on this system. That was the very first… and the VERY LAST Seagate drive I even owned/used. I’ve mellowed over the years, though. I don’t blame Seagate anymore for my near-stroke. I’d buy one nowadays… if the price was right.

But not everyone reacts this way when faced with a computer issue. On the other end of the spectrum, about 38 percent of people said they would never yell at their computer because it’s “too sensitive.” Instead, they encourage it to keep working with positive words.*

*From the above mentioned article.

If you’re one of the above mentioned 38%, you really should seek some professional help. :crazy

Later…

~Eric

Scot’s Newsletter Forums 8th Birthday!

As many of you may know, I’m an Admin at Scot’s Newsletter Forums. Scot’s was created and is maintained by Computer World Editor-In-Chief, Scot Finnie.

Today may be FAT Tuesday in New Orleans, but it’s also a very special day for the Highlanders of Scot’s Newsletter Forums. It’s the 8th Anniversary. We’re partying! Check out fellow Admin Corrine’s blog article at Security Garden for more information on the party, the prizes, and about Scot’s in general.

I know there are a bazillion support forums out there for Windows, Mac, or Linux, but stop on by Scot’s some time and see what’s it’s like to participate in a support community that values its members; a place where you’ll never see the word “newbie” or the acronym “RTFM”.

Later…

~Eric

Hosts, Toast, and Server Compost

Man! What a weekend this one turned out to be. On Friday afternoon, I nuked my Out of the Woods board by accident.

I had been having some slow, really feckin’ slow server issues for the past month. I was piggybacking on a friend’s server. The friend had been a bit scarce since Christmas and I had not been able to get in touch with him to alert him to the issues. I thought maybe I could tweak the database a bit to revive the board. Uh-huh. I tweaked it alright. I tweaked it into oblivion. More evidence that you really shouldn’t mess with stuff that you’re not familiar with. Gotta’ learn somehow, right?

Anyway, another pal o’ mine who does this do-do for a living offered to attempt to revive my board with my most recent backup. Hey! What the hell, right? Go for it. So, Jay (of http://lachsoft.jaylach.com/) took the ball and ran off. After a while, he reported back that the issue had not been my board’s software or database, but possibly a corrupted/non-maintained server. Alrighty then. I can’t get hold of the friend whose server this is, so what now?

Jay comes to the rescue by offering to serve my board on his server. YAY! The fully revived Out of the Woods board is now LIVE and functioning again. It can be found at its new home –> http://vtel.jaylach.com/index.php Please stop on by if you get a minute or two. There are a bunch of great folks there. Tell ’em Eric sent you. Oh, and if you’re planning on spamming that board, forget it. All memberships must be Admin approved. You’ll never get past the gate keeper.

Have a great week, folks! Life is GOOD!

Later…

~Eric

The Slacker Dreads MS Windows Service Packs

Back in the dark ages of my computering life. I used an operating system known as Microsoft Windows®. I still occasionally play around in Windows these days.

I have (had, the drive failed on me recently) an XP Pro installation on my desktop system for playing games only. It’s crippled… no networking installed at all. I also have an installation of Win 7 on my laptop. It’s just for fun and education. I’m the family computer nerd, so everyone comes to me for help. They don’t run Linux… yet. MUAHAHAHA! Anyway, I have to stay comfortable with how MS products work so I can still be helpful to the unfortunate souls still using that OS.

As some of you who know me may remember, the camel that broke the straw’s back for me with MS Windows was the fact that I had numerous catastrophic system failures due to corrupted installations of various Service Packs on XP back in ’06. The last one may have actually been a faulty Seagate hard drive, to be fair to MS. However, the last one was the last one for me. I went to Linux full time within a few days of that event.

Now, here comes a new Service Pack (#1) for my Win 7 installation. UH-OH! I’m very gun shy about Service Packs, folks. This time, though, the OS is not my primary computer tool, so what’s the worry. If it boogers up, I can just reinstall. No great loss… just more minutes of my life sucked out of existence by Microsoft. Anyway, I decided to go for it yesterday. The install was fast and painless. And best of all… the system rebooted into a working Win 7 OS. Cool, huh?

Kudos to MS. They may have finally gotten something right with this new Win 7. So, just what was Vista? XP’s Millennium Edition? Oh, wait… Vista was the beta, of course. I wonder how many folks actually paid $300 to beta test for MS on that one. All that testing paid off. Thanks beta folks! 🙂

OK, I’m outta’ here…

~Eric

NOTE: All derogatory comments regarding Microsoft and the Windows® operating system are absolutely true… er, I mean are absolutely in jest. jk, as Generation Text likes to say. Can you imagine what Evolution is going to make their childrens’ childrens’ childrens’ thumbs look like? Heh!

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to startx

I got up bright and early on Wednesday last in anticipation of performing some computer projects that I had set aside to do.

I sat here at the computer desk with my hot cup of coffee steaming on the desk next to me. I reached out and clicked that ON button on the face of my tower. The buzzing and whirring began just as it always does. My Slackware boots in a relatively short time, so I scratched at myself and picked my nose while waiting. When I glanced up, the monitor was black. Hmm… that’s not good.

To make a long nightmare more enjoyable to read about, it turned out that I had some sort of dirty contact issue with my PCIe graphics card socket. Ain’t that a bitch? Well, I tried a little brush with alcohol. Nope. That didn’t work. I tried some compressed air. Nope. That didn’t fix it either. OK. I disassembled the system and removed my mobo completely. I took it outside to my shop (that’s when you know something’s serious).

I re-soldered all the pins on the socket, in case there was a cold/cracked solder joint. Not to worry, folks. I’m a professional. I spent the better part of my life servicing electronic products to component level. I have the tools and the skills. I don’t recommend you try this at home, though. Those boards are machine soldered (by Chinese machines that run on rice) and can easily be boogered up, if you don’t know what you’re doing.

So, while I had the mobo on the bench, I got a piece of emery paper and folded it and inserted it into the slot on the socket. I ran it back and forth, cleaning those little metal contacts as I went. I sprayed tuner cleaner in healthy amounts and blew the socket out with compressed air again. I took it back inside the house.

I reassembled the system and booted. YAY! It worked! Let’s hope it continues to do so because I have some more good stuff to tell you about in the next few days. I had a mini-installfest again. I installed Arch Linux (again) and installed Foresight Linux (also, again). I’ll post a bit about my adventures with that project and why it happened in a couple days.

Later…

~Eric

5 Things I Love Most About MS Windows

My first experience with Microsoft Windows was version 3.1. It was installed on a PC in my brother’s construction company office back in ’93. It was COOL! I’ve loved MS Windows ever since. Here are my top 5 reasons why:

  • numero cinco – I love MS Windows because it has more users than Charlie Sheen has drunken girlfriends; which serves to paint a LARGE target on it rather than on my actual operating system (Linux). Hackers and spammers are wise. They use Linux on their own systems and target the operating system that gives them the biggest bang for the byte. Thanks to Microsoft for being my shield.
  • numero cuatro – I love MS Windows because of all the times, while trying to learn the secrets of that OS, I visited boards and forums where helpful members there would use the code word RTFM to teach me how to do something. Many times, they would suggest that you RTFM even when there wasn’t an FM to R. Thanks to those MS Windows gurus, I learned what real community is NOT supposed to be like.
  • numero tres – I love MS Windows for making me dread Tuesdays even more than Mondays. The creation of the “patch Tuesday” updating methods for MS Windows operating systems was a stroke of genius that greatly changed folks’ attitudes about that previously most hated day of the week… Monday. I’m sure Monday is appreciative of this. The only good thing about Tuesdays these days is happy hour.
  • numero dos – the penultimate reason that I love MS Windows is because it is the Terminator of operating systems. It searches out other operating systems on its own and peripheral hard drives and terminates them. It won’t even brook the presence of another MS Windows OS on same drive. It is a very anti-social operating system. It does NOT play well with other operating systems. You have to trick it for it to behave.
  • numero uno – the very tippy-top mostest for sure reason that I love MS Windows is that it replenished my faith in the fact that even chubby computer nerds like Steve Ballmer can make a bazillion bucks by doing practically nothing of note; except for being in the right place and being friends with the right guy (Bill Gates) at the right time.

=====

The Disclaimer: In the last article here (5 Things I Hate Most About Linux), and in this article, I tend to tease a bit about Microsoft and their Windows operating system. Yes, I have had my bad experiences with that OS. Yes, I like to tease about MS Windows. And yes, it’s just for laughs. I actually feel that Microsoft changed the world with its innovations and ideas regarding operating systems and software. Oh, and I really don’t know Steve Ballmer well enough to be accusing him of being a chubby computer nerd.

Bing THIS!

Later…

~Eric

Which Widgets Watch Weather and Whether Watchers Care

Have you ever noticed we’ve become a bit obsessed with the weather in the Internet age?

If I had a nickel for every weather app out there for Windows, Mac, or Linux systems, I wouldn’t have to slave away at this keyboard making the measly $4.81/word that Chris P. pays all of us. Oh, shoot! I’m not supposed to divulge that information. However, I don’t want to backspace and delete that much money; the Jag’s in the shop, after all.

Back to the topic at hand though…

I remember ages ago how neato I thought it was when I installed an app called WeatherBug on my old Windows 98 system. Man! That thing was the weather cat’s meow. It did all sorts of stuff. Another really cool thing was back in ’04 here in Tampa I was able to experience my first real time online hurricane.

As some of you may remember, that was a bad year for hurricanes in and around Florida. I had a few near misses here in Tampa that summer/fall. What was cool, though, was watching and tracking those storms on the Internet as they were happening. I no longer had to depend on that talking head weather dude on TV. I had all the same info he had at my own fingertips. How cool is that?

I guess that was the beginning of my weather addiction. I’m a regular visitor to NOAA and Weather Underground these days. Coffee and the day’s forecast are a morning staple. I don’t really care what the weather is going to be like. I’ll find out eventually. I just enjoy the information and other fun stuff on those sites.

I even have another tab open right now with Weather Underground’s radar for my area as a big, nasty winter cold front is moving down across the Tampa area right now. I can hear the wind gusts and the rain pattering against my windows as I type this. Hmm… better save a draft in case the electricity drops on me.

Weather is cool. Check it out sometime. I don’t mean looking out the window. I mean looking at some really cool websites and stuff. You could even install a couple weather apps on your system (like you don’t already have two or three installed). I don’t use WeatherBug these days, but I do have a weather applet in my Xfce panel. It gives me the basic info. For the really in-depth stuff I go to the Internet.

Wherever you are… enjoy your weather.

Later…

~Eric