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Category: Tech
Friday, April 29th, 2005 @ 11:50 am
Posted By Brent

A number of years ago one of my company's satellite offices closed down and a deluge of its equipment was dumped at our doorstep. Included in this aggregate of crapola was a little turdy Pentium II Compaq Presario 1655 laptop with a broken floppy drive and a shot-to-shit version of Windows 98 on it. Being the bleeding heart Jane Goodall of the decrepit hardware world, I decided to take it under my wing and nurse it back to health while gaining some experience installing and maintaining Linux on a laptop.

Fastforward to present day, and I'm the Linux/Laptop guru that I am, but the other day I got a project at work that involved getting a Laptop running Linux onto our WEP protected wireless network. I sprang into action and learned how to set it all up pretty quickly and was quite satisfied with the results.

Now, armed with the knowledge before me, it was time for me to grab the old Compaq laptop and tackle an even more Herculean project: The Wireless Turd. Actually, after a much needed Linux reinstall on the laptop, getting it onto the wireless network wasn't really all that painful. The real issue was getting it on the network without audibly emitting static, pops, and buzzes out of the laptop speakers every time it would transmit or receive any wireless traffic, and after a little research I found the culprit. Apparently laptops produced before (or before the popularity of) wireless networking failed to shield their PCMCIA slots from wireless devices emitting signals into the chassis of the laptop itself, my turd being one of said laptops. Things like this usually wouldn't bother me, but this shit was loud.

So, what did I do? I shielded the motherfucker myself with aluminum foil.

Not pictured is me electrical taping all seams and the few spots where the paper ripped up and exposed the aluminum foil. I also added another little strip in the exposed gap seen in the second to last picture (the gap you can see the card through).

An unexpected but pleasant side effect was that the full width heat sink was no longer resting directly on top of the PCMCIA housing which previously was heating up my cards so much that it actually fried an ethernet card I had in there once. An unexpected but decidedly unpleasant side effect from this may be that the paper insulation catches on fire and burns down my entire house. The jury is still out on that one.

It seems to work on and off. When it does happen to make noise, it's very, very faint so I'd consider it a success. Maybe I'll go back in later and shield the actual speaker wires to squelch the remaining signal leakage from getting in.


Category: Personal
Wednesday, April 20th, 2005 @ 03:23 pm
Posted By Brent

After paying my last payment on my age old credit card debt yesterday, my work received a letter today stating that my student loan is paid and that garnishment of my paycheck is hereby cancelled. My ass is debt free for the first time in my entire adult life.

Well, actually now that I'm married I share my wife's debt, so I'm technically not debt free, but I'm not here to argue semantics. I'm here to celebrate the fact that I've take a very large step in the direction of "being able to buy things larger than a breadbox," like a car, or eventually even maybe a house. Imagine that.

Sorry if seems like I'm rubbing this into my debt-saddled friends' faces, I'm really not. Take comfort in the fact that I don't own anything in this world that any respectable bank would accept as collateral.


Category: Personal
Friday, April 15th, 2005 @ 07:50 pm
Posted By Brent

I'll be brief, but three things of importance happened today: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'll list them in reverse order so that it ends on a high note.

The Ugly: Morgus the Magnificent returns to the airwaves tonight after a lengthy recess. For those of you not from New Orleans, it's kind of like an Elvira sort of thing, but with a local flavor. A mad scientist provides humorous "bumper" spots around horrible B list horror movies. If you're wondering why this is "the ugly," please click the supplied link.

The Bad: My Grandmother passed away today after being ill for an extremely long time. It's more of a somber occasion than a sad one for me because she's had a very low quality of life for a while now and she's finally past all that.

The Good: Jason and Reba had their baby today around 4:30 or so. From what I've heard he's a healthy eight pound baby boy, so congrats go out to them. Pete and Christine shouldn't be far now. In addition, although it didn't happen today, David and Susan had their boy April 5th I believe, so the obligatory congrats go out to them as well.


Category: Games
Tuesday, April 12th, 2005 @ 10:51 pm
Posted By Brent

When I got home today, I had a nice little package greet me at the front door. Yes, the Nintendo hand I ordered for the Nintendo DS contest, Touching is Good, came in today and boy is it a looker.

I didn't know if I'd even enter the contest when I ordered it, but seeming as the friggin' hand is here now, it couldn't hurt to come up with a few ideas and send 'em on in. Me and Scott tossed around some ideas the other week, but I think I was drunk because I don't remember any of them. I think the idea we were tossing around the most ended up being too similar to the French Nintendo DS commercial, so maybe that's why I didn't commit too many brain cells to retaining it (or sacrificed them to the devil booze that night).

But I digress, the hand is here and something propa-prop must be done with it. Feel free to let the comments fill up with witty ideas and great setting in which the hand can be photographed or filmed. Please remember that any great idea you submit here may be used by me, and since I'm a big douche, I will use it and give you no credit nor split any possible earnings with you. That is the American way.

Now that we've gotten all of the small talk out of the way, onto the meat n' taters. In expected fan-boy fashion, I've taken pictures of the hand, as it arrived (minus me cutting the packing tape) so that you other fan-boys, and I know you're reading, can vicariously live the spectacular moment through me. I know people usually reserve this type of treatment for "collector-y" type things that arrive in "collector-y" type containers, but I'm easily amused and always willing to put too much effort into useless tasks.


Category: Media Reviews
Tuesday, April 5th, 2005 @ 10:16 am
Posted By Brent

I realize that for people more concerned with contemporary media reviews this is about 20 years late, but I recently read The Watchmen, a graphic novel (the name pretentious people give to "big comic books") published across 12 issues in the mid to late eighties. I've never really been big into comic books outside of the casual admiration of Wolverine and keeping up to date on general trivia such as Superman's real name, but I've consistently heard that The Watchmen is a sort of seminal publication as far as the modern comic story is concerned, and even considered ground breaking by today's standards in its use of visual imagery.

The story takes place in a fictional America in which the superhero comicbook boom of the forties and fifties inspired people to start dressing up in superhero suits and running around trying to solve crimes. It's set in present day (which would be the eighties, when it was written) and covers, through the use of extremely well executed flashbacks, the past forty or so years of superhero activity.

That, in and of itself, doesn't sound so amazing, but what's really interesting is how it shows you how egotistical, perverted, or just plain fucking nuts a person has to be to dress up in spandex and try to fight crime; all in a sort of "what if this really happened" kind of way. It covers how everything from McCarthyism to the Cold War effected this sort of activity up and till the eventual federal legislation gets passed in order to ban this type of behavior out of fear for the public's safety.

This is all told in, like I said earlier, an extremely well executed flashback style in which the artist does an amazing job of visually triggering flashbacks, and the subtle use of repeating imagery begins to make the entire back story come together for the reader. I'm really not a comic book guy, but even I have to admit this is done really well.

Of course there's an actual story unfolding during which all of this gets explained, but it's easy to just get lost in the crazy universe the author has created and not pay too much attention to what's going on until the end when the story comes to its climactic resolution.

I'd definitely give it a thumbs up, but I had one issue that was kind of hard to get past: with possible of exception of Rorschach, everyone's costume is extremely dated now. Of course, I could be wrong, the creators may have made them look this way to point out the absurdity of grown men dressing up in costumes, but seeming as this was published around the same time Marvel thought that Wolverine would look really cool in yellow and blue spandex with a mask that sat up 18 inches off his head, I seriously doubt it. Again, I'm no comic encyclopedia, this is just a layman's opinion.

Also, when I ordered it, I went looking around the web for info on it and stumbled into news stories talking about how a movie is currently being cast for it. I got really excited until, after a little more research, I read that various studios have been trying to make a movie out of this since its publication. I've also read that Alan Moore, the author, wants nothing to do with a movie adaptation after seeing what Hollywood did with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, one of his other creations. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.