Archive for February, 2008

Tonight I fell.

February 27, 2008

As I was unloading my three bags from the back of my van, I took a step back away from the van. I lost my footing and fell. The driveway was snow-covered and slippery; I should have been more careful. I landed on the small of my back. A few inches lower, and I would’ve landed on my ass. That would’ve been a lot less painful.

As I lay there in pain, I could feel my feet and I knew I wasn’t paralyzed. I contemplated yelling for help but I realized that that would have been ridiculous. I slowly pulled myself up and dragged my bags into the house. It wasn’t until some time later that I realized I had a casualty.

In my basement office, I opened the cases. I carry a small personal laptop that I bought last June at Best Buy. It’s a Gateway and it’s been quite good. When I opened it I discovered that the screen had shattered in my fall. I don’t know if I landed on it or if I merely slammed it against the concrete. I called the good people at Gateway. The screen is $500 to repair. Out the door, after-tax, the laptop cost $752.49 new. It doesn’t make sense to repair it.

Despite the destroyed screen, the rest of the laptop works. It has a modest dual core processor and a 160 gig hard drive. It will run an external monitor. So while I no longer have a laptop, I still have a functioning desktop computer. Still as I sit here this evening with a sore back and damaged computer, I’m not very happy. I’m tempted to spend the rest of my saved hobby funds on a new laptop. But then I wouldn’t get to build a new flagship desktop machine. This is what been saving for.

I suppose I need to think about it some more. We’ll see.

Economic activity versus creative output.

February 24, 2008

Last year I started a gaming podcast and restarted a roundtable style podcast. I wrote fairly frequently in this blog and put up some videos on YouTube. Anyone who has done things like this will tell you that it is a reward in itself. But like anything else, you can burn out on it.

This year I have not made a single show for the gaming podcast. The roundtable style podcast has a show in the can that I have not edited for posting. I have written sporadically in this blog and haven’t done much with YouTube videos lately.

Usually when this happens, it is because I’m busier at work. That’s true now, but I also have had less energy. I’ve been going to bed at 9:30 p.m. I think it is just a phase of the winter months. In any event, I’m trying to shake some things up by getting up earlier.

But the main reason that I am doing fewer creative ventures is because I’m putting all of my creative energy into work. When I say work, I mean my main job, the source of my economic activity in life.

We all have approximately 16 hours of waking time each day. In this cage of time, there are only so many clicks. The higher the percentage of time that I use those moments for economic activity benefits me (and my family). If I am lucky enough to be doing work that I enjoy, then all the better.

This is not to say that freestyle creative projects don’t have value. Clearly they do. I’ve spent hundreds of hours doing creative work online for nothing. I did it because I enjoyed it. I’ve even had some ideas for other podcasts (one on computers for example). Now is not the time to launch some sort of new creative venture. Instead it is time to work as hard as I can in real life and only blow off creative steam when I need to.

When a creative venture starts to feel like work and I’m not getting paid for it, it’s time to end the venture. That’s really the case with the gaming podcast. I have some ideas for the show but I also have work projects that I’d rather complete instead. The other podcast is more precious to me but I see that becoming more infrequent as well.

It’s just the way that it is.

FreeNAS versus the NetApp Storevault S300 and the Iomega Storcenter Pro-Nas 150d.

February 23, 2008

In the latest issue of PC Magazine, (the link is a past review on the site) they reviewed NAS storage options.  I have to say that I am surprised at the cost of these boxes.  The NetApp is $2500 and the Iomega is $1700.  Both have a storage limit of three TB.  The NetApp gets transfer rates of around 64 Mbps at best.  The Iomega is slower.

The FreeNAS box I built with 4 TB of storage cost less than both boxes.  The upper limit on storage is significantly higher.  Transfer rates can be over 100 Mbps.  In short, a FreeNAS box with old hardware is far superior to these devices and costs less.

They also review and a Windows home server appliance but that’s not even worth mentioning.  I am surprised that dedicated NAS devices aren’t all benchmarked against a FreeNAS server.  It is clearly the home and small business standard.

The bed at home beats the hotel bed any day.

February 20, 2008

So last night I stayed at a hotel on a business trip.  They had those Craftmatic Adjustable Beds.  At first, I made it as soft as I could get it.  That was ok for awhile, but then I blew it up again.  I kept waiting for Lindsay Wagner to jump out and tell me what her setting number was.  I think I slept for 10 hours, so it must have been a good bed.  Heck, it’s a robot bed, what could make me happier?

Even so, tonight, lying here in my own bed writing this on my laptop, there is no place on earth that I’d rather be.  When I travel, I get homesick.  It never fails.  When I’m in the airplane, I think about home.  When I’m in the hotel, I think about home.  When I’m home, I think about home.

The good people at iRobot have a device that you can operate away from home and interact with the people there.  I think that would make me even more homesick.

Some Weekends are More Productive than Others.

February 17, 2008

This weekend, I recorded FNPL on Friday night, went skiing yesterday and worked on work related projects all day today.  One would think I would be very satisfied with a weekend well spent.  I’m not.

I’m never satisfied.  With anything.  Ever.

For everything I did this weekend, I believe that there is something more productive that I could have been doing.  Plus, even though I recorded FNPL, I did not edit it yet.  I did not make the time.  Additionally, my other podcast, OFG has been languishing.  I have yet to record an OFG show this year.  Priorities shift, I guess.  At least I write here now and then.

If I could be doing anything I wanted right now, it would be building computers: a new flagship and a new video server.  I am determined to wait until the new Intel chips come out, though.

Now I’m going to do some ironing.  At least that’s fun.


February 9, 2008

Intel released its Skulltrail motherboard to the media for testing.  I’ve been following this on Tom’s Hardware (a most excellent British tech site).  TH found that 1) the test machine didn’t beat single core machines in performance and 2) the board Intel sent TH was rushed and shoddy.  TH didn’t understand why Intel would ship something like that when they have no competition right now.

I feel that Tom’s hardware missed something on the second point, to a degree.  Look at the new Mac Pro.  It is an 8 core machine with a dual quad core motherboard.  The quad cores are Intel, of course, but I have no idea who makes the mother board.  Skulltrail, as bad as Tom’s says it is, give PC enthusiasts something to turn to besides the Mac Pro.

We’re in a strange time in modern computing where hardware manufacturers are producing chips that are considerably ahead of anything that programmers can use.  Increasing speed by adding multiple cores doesn’t help programmers.  Increasing clock speed is great for programmers because they don’t have to do anything to take advantage of the increased speed.  Adding cores presents a real challenge. It’s too bad there isn’t a chip or a piece of software available that automatically allocates cores to processes.  Then programmers wouldn’t have to worry.  We need to make things as easy as possible for programmers.

Tom’s said Skulltrail is 2 years ahead of its time.  I disagree with that.  I think it just needs a few refinements to make it work.  The biggest bottleneck with Skulltrail as it stands is the memory.  Make the memory DDR3 and everything changes.  While that’s probably not brain dead easy, it’s certainly not impossible.  With a little refinement, I would buy a Skulltrail motherboard.

Friday Night Party Line Episode 24

February 2, 2008

Tonight’s episode features Ray, Scott, Viga and newcomers Neito and Hungryjoe.  Here are the topics:

1. Look at this article on these artificial intelligence guys who killed themselves.  Do you think that there’s something about this field that causes people to go crazy?  Do you think that there is a conspiracy here?
2.I’m very much into playing with AI even though the state of the art is, well, lacking.Do you think we’ll ever have software that allows you to interact with your computer in a way that’s more than basic voice commands or mouse clicking? How many years away is this? Is it another flying car?
3.State of podcasting today:  are video podcasters killing the internet radio stars?
4.Are we child men (or women?)  Is there any merit to this article?  Why or why not?
5.Model turned bodyguard gets killed.  Is having martial arts skills meaningful anymore?  If someone has a gun or gets the jump on you, does it matter?  Look at the mixed martial arts guys that are so popular now. Isn’t this just wrestling?  And given the fact that boxers do poorly against these guys, shouldn’t people just learn to wrestle?
6.What are you willing to do to extend your lifespan?  Eat less?  Exercise?  Take drugs?  Would you do what Stallone admits to doing?
7.Watch this TED video: What do you think?  Does he have something here that can help people be happy?  Are outcomes really irrelevant?  What about persistent misery?  Haven’t you ever known people who are never happy?  Have you ever met people who buy something and they are never happy with it?

Sites where you can find more information about Scott, Viga, and Neito:

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