helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
A couple of old Geocities sites that I'm linked to were timing out when I tried to access them just now (trying to update links on the website).

I looked up Geocities to see what was up, and found this. The end of the article says, "On 1st October 2008 Geocities removed old sites from their servers thereby losing countless website builders all of their sites."

I guess that might explain it, but the pages just timed out - I didn't get a "not found," so I assume the pages are still there (maybe). I do know Yahoo!Geocities severely limited the bandwidth for free sites in recent years, so that could also be it... or my ad-blocking options prevent the pages from loading... or the server itself is overloaded.

In any case, I think they outlived their usefulness as a reliable web host many years ago, so if you have old material that you care about stored on Geocities, you may want to back it up.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
The last time I attempted to use my old 200 MHz Windows box was last year - which was when I decided I would never use it again. Its processor had never handled XP too well, and finally it had deteriorated to the point that it would gridlock when presented with the slightest challenge. I'd bought the old computer around 1993, and had upgraded it until the parts were too obsolete to upgrade any more. After that, I held onto it as long as it would run. After one particularly heinous episode wherein it took 5 hours to do a 15-minute operation, I mercifully decided to spring for a new laptop for myself. Why that was such a difficult decision is anyone's guess. Yesterday the old box was taken to the thrift shop. I kept the old computer's disk and connected it to the laptop with an external USB case.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Last night I downloaded a video component to my laptop. Unfortunately, it was late (which apparently made me rather dumb), because even though my virus shield warned me, I clicked 'Yes' instead of 'Cancel' (or some hairbrained equivalent of that sequence) by mistake. Downloading the infected component caused the operating system to become uselessly unstable. I ran a virus scan and a spy sweeper scan and isolated/deleted all the resulting Trojans, but it was too late - the damage was already done. The system would run for a few seconds and then Explorer would quit and restart - the system wouldn't reboot, but Explorer would cut in and cut out over and over again.

I had to reconstruct the operating system from the recovery disk image. So much for all the wonderful (virus-free) DivX software I downloaded. DivX had to be wiped out along with everything else on the computer, including email ... so I lost all the DivX serial numbers. I set the recovery manager to wipe all my files, since even though I'd run a scan (amid all the crashing and instability), I didn't know if the machine was actually clear. It's now reset to factory specs. Luckily, all my work files were stored on a backup disk before this happened.

Work computer or not, I am leaning progressively toward wiping out Vista and putting Ubuntu on the laptop.

Meanwhile, note to self: "Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain."
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Yay! DivX worked! Still need to figure out how to recreate the menus for all the tracks, but the ripped DVD plays like the original. DivX can do the menus too, but I'm still figuring that part out.

This is the end result of a weekend of searching for DVD ripping software that would work in Vista. It's not that Vista is a bad program - it's pretty as can be, and it works just fine for office stuff once you locate where everything is being stored.

It's just that half of it is missing. (and this is coming from a person who is only semi-technical).

Once I got the other half loaded in by searching for and locating various DLLs, filters and codecs for doing media things, it worked fine...

But then, I'm used to that with Debian, so it wasn't an entirely foreign experience for me... I can't imagine what this would have been like for someone who used nothing but Windows 3.1 through XP for the last 15 years.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
At lunch today I was looking for a portable drive and happened to see this 1T external. I know it's been out for a couple of months but I hadn't actually laid eyes on one until now. It was the weirdest feeling - not even sure why. One Terabyte external.

I'll wait until it comes down in price but I want one. Why? Just 'cause. Waiting for a flat panel monitor was well worth it - I got a 22-inch for $129, whereas a few years ago the same thing would have cost $900. Same with this drive - it's now around $300 but in a few years it will be $75.

A Terabyte.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] rialian and I went to Microcenter on Sunday to pick up a new motherboard. This meant that we also had to get a new processor and memory, because the slots had changed.

While we were there, we found a 200-gig HD and an ostentatiously obnoxious, shiny black case for a reasonable price, so we decided to be reasonable and use the basic case and disk we already had go for it. To our credit, we did reuse some parts of the old system. Ok, so we only reused the DVD burner. Heh.

Anyway, we got the Stuff home and [livejournal.com profile] rialian spent the evening assembling it, only to realize that the hard disk required an IDE-to-SATA adapter in order to connect the power supply to the disk. Another trip to Microcenter became necessary, which we planned for the following day.

Also planned for that day was a trip to see [livejournal.com profile] fishy1 and [livejournal.com profile] scraun23, who live about a minute away from Microcenter, so it wasn't really an extra trip at all, but still frustrating for [livejournal.com profile] rialian, who had hoped to get the system running Sunday.

It should be known that the home of [livejournal.com profile] fishy1 and [livejournal.com profile] scraun23 is the Land Where Time Runs Backwards.

In fact, they have a clock on their wall which is a mirror image of a normal clock, and it DOES run backwards. While there, the inclination was not to leave to work on the computer, but rather to bring the computer there to work on it. Presently, we called [livejournal.com profile] lyssabard and [livejournal.com profile] tlttlotd to join us in the timewarp. While [livejournal.com profile] scraun23 and [livejournal.com profile] tlttlotd went to microcenter to get a power supply for their house server, [livejournal.com profile] rialian went back to Rockville and picked up my computer-in-progress. Eventually, they all returned, and my computer was fetched to the Land Where Time Runs Backwards. Meanwhile, we'd been joined by a few more people!

So... here we were at this impromptu event, involving [livejournal.com profile] fishy1's magic cider (this batch is even better than the last batch, and continues to get better), my computer, the resurrection of their server whose power supply had gone bad, jewelry-making by [livejournal.com profile] lyssabard, and general deep socializing about Things That Matter. The Force, the Farce, the Music, and the Geek were strong. Games of Go were played. Servers were resurrected. Computers were built. New sparkly jewelry was created.

Such was the environment where The Shiny Teh Shineh achieved Life at about 1:00 am on May 29 2007... We continue to load files and email from other disks - that should be done by tonight.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
What had been intended to be a half-hour job of changing a muffin fan became a little more than that...

[livejournal.com profile] rialian spent the better part of an afternoon and evening trying to determine which fan was bad, then hunting down a fan that didn't exist, and finally jury-rigging a not-quite-right fan to do the job. All of that was a success by about 10 pm. The system was running. Then we decided to upgrade, because Ubuntu's new release (Feisty Fawn) had improved [livejournal.com profile] rialian's system greatly.

In its previous Debian incarnation, my computer had a problem with its motherboard that caused the system bootup to fail. When we installed the last version of Ubuntu (Edgy Eft), it was able to work around that problem and bypass it (to my surprise). So we thought Ubuntu's Feisty Fawn would do the same thing.

Wrong.

The system is now back to not booting up.

This time I'm going for the hardware solution. I will first try a new video card in the event that the video card got messed up when jury rigging the fan and is causing the failure. If that doesn't work, then it will be a new motherboard-processor-memory.

I've just about had it with asking people to waste time trying to work around this worthless motherboard.

Edit -- There is a major download going on on the other computer, so I won't be able to actually check email for a while (webmail is blocked at work).
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I saw how wonderfully [livejournal.com profile] rialian's Ubuntu 6.10 install worked on his new system. We'd made a joint effort to resurrect his old system which had died over two years ago. Since that time, it had remained dead in his closet, while he used a 266 MHz Apple G3 for email and little else. Music was difficult, and video wasn't really possible at that speed - it would play but was quite choppy.

So finally it was Time to resurrect the fast one. One mainboard/memory/processor later, he rebuilt the system even faster than it was before, and loaded Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft) on it. Within a few hours, he had the peripherals working. A day later, he'd figured out how to make browser-based flash work on a 64-bit box, and had purchased a video card to alleviate a browser scrolling problem with the sucky on-board video. The rest involved copying data over from various disks rescued from dead computers which was finished by that night. It is now ... alive.

Meanwhile, there I was, peering interestedly at this new life form as I used my mucked up Debian system. My mainboard had developed a problem around October of last year. For a while it was not booting up at all, until some friends created a kernel that bypassed the problem. It worked ok for a while, but the USB never really quite worked right, and it would freeze up intermittently.

Then we tried an experiment. We activated a CD-based version of Ubuntu to see how it handled the mainboard's glitch. It saw and identified it immediately, and took care of it. All USBs worked perfectly. All peripherals worked perfectly, including the camera.

I had a 30-gig disk that had Windows 98 on it from several years ago. I had long since moved all the data from that disk to my Debian disk. We decided to experiment with loading Ubuntu on that disk and converting the Debian disk with all my data on it to an external, portable USB drive. To do make the Debian drive external, we used a drive case we had bought for that purpose at a computer show a few years ago.

That way I could have a small boot drive for Ubuntu, and use the larger drive for data (where the data already was, so this involved a minimum of effort). This would add about 25 gig to my existing space and allow us to have a sizeable portable that we can carry to other computers for backup if necessary.

Actually, the REAL reason is that I was not willing to spend a dime on this system. The faulty mainboard is only two or three years old and has no business going bad now - my 200 MHz is over 10 years old and the mainboard is still fine. There's no way I'm buying another mainboard now - once I do that, then I have to buy a new memory and processor, and probably can't use my video and sound card because they've changed the card slots (again). So the constraint was to use components we already had and to leave the debian disk as it was, so I didn't have to go through an extensive backup process.

Within a few hours, Rialian set up the whole thing (yay!) The USB works without a glitch - that seems to have fixed itself as well. I'm not sure what it did exactly, but it apparently is able to detect bad portions of the mainboard, shut them down, and bypass the need for them altogether.

Edit Jan 7, 2007: The email problem in the last post was solved - I found the right file and copied it over, and the entire directory structure appeared in my new installation. No problems since then.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
A friend brought over her spare G4 power supply, and it didn't fit. She said she'd ask a friend who repairs macs if he can get one for a reduced price (thank you very much for the effort, by the way). We already knew that Apple refuses to standardize anything, but didn't know that this applies within its own company. No wait. What am I saying. They refuse to standardize even within one particular hardware configuration. The only thing left to do now (besides check a few more places) is to begin summoning one from the Pit of Heck where they are obviously spawned to begin with. Here are the specs.

Acbel ap1-9841-291 22 connector rev b 126w. It is for a year 2000 gigabit ethernet grey PowerPC tower.

Note the 22 connector. This is why nothing we found so far has fit. Every other power supply in the world has a different number (like 24, for example).

Edit: And here is the summoning from Heck:

Oh masters of Heck where the light's insufficient
Our Power PC has been branded "deficient"
When we turn on the switch we don't get any power
So what we have here is a Paperweight Tower
We ask you to tell us (and do not be shy)
The full explanation that lets us know why
This Mac will not activate when we press "ON"
And instead sits inertly, its life clearly gone.
Then once you have told us precisely what's wrong
we've one more request that should not take you long
From the coffers of Heck, 'neath your dimly lit sky
Deliver to us the right Power Supply!

(...Or whichever Mac part is causing the problem - no that doesn't rhyme but I'd best not leave it out...)
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Last Friday we visited my mom and brother Jason, who bestowed his old defunct G4 Mac on [livejournal.com profile] rialian in hopes that he could get it running. [livejournal.com profile] rialian had been able to use some parts from his fried IBook to upgrade an IMac to do things it was never intended to do, so we had high hopes for the G4. No power was getting to the system, so we'd initially thought that it may be the CMOS battery. We bought a new battery (found the exact one at Radio Shack), but the computer still didn't work after it was installed, so it wasn't that. The other (relatively) cheap thing it could have been was the power supply, so that was the next thing we tried to find. Mac power supplies are apparently not meant to be replaced, because nobody had the one we were looking for. We even found a used G4 and looked inside - and the power supply had a different connector configuration. That G4 was selling for $350.00, so it would not have been worth it to buy that one for parts. The only other place that may have the power supply doesn't open until Tuesday. We shall see if they have one, if it works, and if it's under $50 (not worth it otherwise). We found one on eBay for $65, but that was too expensive plus there was no way of testing it.

We looked online and found out that a new one costs $200, so that was Right Out. We don't even know if the power supply is actually the problem - it could be the motherboard. But even if we were certain, $200 is still way too much for a @#$@$ power supply! Lower end PC power supplies are $30 brand new.

So far the Quest has not been successful. Tuesday maybe we can go to PC Retro Computer Warehouse and they might have one for a reasonable price.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Get your very own Plush tachikoma here

In other news, my computer is now working in a satisfactory manner! A while ago it had developed an error caused by something generating a bad interrupt request. [livejournal.com profile] rialian and I looked at it and tried a few things, but it still generated the same error. The only solution we found was to use a very old Debian kernel which didn't even have the correct drivers for my printer (that was why I thought my printer had died - it hadn't, but the old Debian kernel didn't have the right drivers for it. Eventually [livejournal.com profile] tlttlotd looked at it, and ended up building a new kernel for it which was tailored especially to my machine. It was late, though, so it hadn't been tested by the time he had to leave (thank you very much [livejournal.com profile] tlttlotd for all the time and effort.) After WtT, [livejournal.com profile] foxgrrl stayed with us for a while. While she was with us, she not only gave us a wonderful collection of photographs, but she also donated some time to install the new kernel. After the installation was complete, she realized that the interrupt error was still there - it was a hardware problem and not a kernel problem as we had expected. She went through and disabled the peripherals one by one - the error was still there. Finally she coded some kind of workaround which I know not of for it originates within the Realms of Higher Coding, accessible only by few (Thank you [livejournal.com profile] foxgrrl for all the time and effort you donated toward getting my macine running - I hope your stay was enjoyable!)

So this week came the real test of how the computer worked - there were two problems remaining - getting the printer working again and getting the DVD drives both running. I tweaked things a little and got the printer running. I still don't know how I did that. I decided to use the 950C again and give the new one to [livejournal.com profile] rialian, because I know I have the exact drivers for the 950C. When I first connected it, reloaded the driver, and sent a test page to print, it began to print a job I'd sent prior to WtT. Never mind that I'd shut down the computer, booted up with a different kernel, and used a different printer prior to WtT. Never mind that there was NOTHING in the print queue. It still wanted to print that job. Finally I guess it got tired of printing that same job multiple times, because it spontaneously fixed itself. So I take credit for fixing the printer part.

Last night the DVD drives were still acting up, so [livejournal.com profile] rialian took a look at them. After a short while of tweaking things and making sure they were initialized properly, they both worked!

So now the interrupt error is officially workarounded. Maybe it would have been easier just to get a new motherboard rather than take up a team of Linux doctors' valuable time (I have a feeling that was a one-time privilege)... But it's working well now. Thanks everyone.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Does anyone want an HP Deskjet 950C printer? It's a decent printer that is proven to run with Linux. It's still supported by HP in that they still make the ink cartridges for it. The problem with it is, it only feeds one sheet at a time - probably needs to have its rollers replaced or cleaned out - probably a trivial job for someone who knows how to do this. Used as is, it could serve well as an auxiliary printer for an older computer, for printing one or two page documents. There's nothing wrong with its photo quality. If you want this item, let me know (Recycling day is tomorrow morning)...

Edit: It turned out to be the operating system - not the printer. It works fine.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
A number of electronic and mechanical systems are failing of late. My computer printer died and had to be replaced. One of the wheels fell off of my push mower and now needs repair (the wheel wasn't a part that I assembled - it came pre-assembled and needs a special tool to repair it). Meanwhile I picked up a new one. My bike is finally repaired (it was broken to begin with, which was why it cost $18 at the thrift shop). My washer and dryer are making odd noises and don't seem to be up to speed, and will need repair. And the roof needs to be redone. Suddenly it needs to be redone now, because the tree guys dropped a branch on the gutters and made an existing situation (rotten gutter beam) a little bit worse. I'm not sure where I'm going to get this money after the Zombie Bathroom repair, but I guess I'll scrounge it up somehow.

The good news is, my new printer works with Debian - the driver was already there. Yay!
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Why don't I get rid of my old 200 MHz? Because it has never crashed throughout countless upgrades since I got it in 1993. Using it now to write this and check email. Everything else has crashed at one point or another (don't even get me started about the Possessed Motherboard of Horror that I bought a few years ago). The Debian box was probably the longest lived of all of them. Eh well, not giving up yet but it doesn't look good so far...

The 200 MHz is too painful to be a permanent solution, though. I need to get rid of it.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
This morning, the computer would not boot up. If anyone emailed I didn't get it yet. The current plan is to 1) use an external hard drive bay to conect the hard drive to a laptop and determine if the data is at all visible. Then 2) get another hard drive and slave the old one to it, and copy the data after booting from the new drive.

On the bright side, I may now be able to upgrade to a later version of Debian so I can get a better version of openoffice.org running. Then again, my computer tends to get tired of certain distros after a while, and then I can never load that distro on it again. If that happens, then I guess we'll try Ubuntu.

We tried shutting it off, resetting it, and opening it up and making sure all the cards and drives were properly seated/connected. Nope. It may be the board itself - that would make things a bit more difficult hardware-wise but I'd still rather it was that than losing a couple of years worth of environment-building by three people. Oh well. If it's gone, it's gone. I suspect that the little magnets on the fridge may have reached critical mass. One or two by themselves probably wouldn't do it, but they had accumulated up to about 20 or more, and I never noticed. Together they might have built a field that reached over to the computer, dunno. Anyway, I took them all off the fridge. Still haven't thrown them away though - some of them are cool. Maybe I'll bury them out back.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Hey, I can get 1.5 Terabytes of disk space! I could have enough room to program a small but effective godform on that. Coolicious.

Never mind that I've only used half of an 80 gig disk with several people actually helping me try to fill it...
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
My 200 MHz with Win98 on has finally reached the end. This point was probably reached years ago in actual reality, but now my mind has caught up with it. I had figured that as long as it was usable, it was a stable machine that had never crashed in its life, so I may as well keep using it. I upgraded that computer since 1993 when I bought it, until there were no more upgrades available for it, and the case would not accommodate the kind of board that would allow further upgrades. Also, new viruses exist now which eat Win98 boxes for breakfast. Not that XP has great security, but it could be said that it has better security than 98. I can't put XP on that machine, since it would be a waste of a license and would also slow it down even more (hard to imagine). Hence, the decision to get a new computer.

The choices so far are -

1. Wait until the next computer show and buy components and put it together. That way we know what's in it, how it's put together, can ensure that nothing is fused to the motherboard or "integrated", and I can get everything I want. This option is cheap and ensures I can get basically what I want within reason, but I or [livejournal.com profile] rialian will have to assemble it (and also wait for a computer show). There should be one in a week, so this won't be a long wait.

2. Get a custom Dell, Gateway, or HP online, choosing the components myself. That way I know what's in it, but don't know how they put it together or what board they use or what components they used. Some components may be integrated with the board or not be to my liking. This option is nice, but not cheap.

3. Get an off-the-shelf HP or Gateway. Those seem to be the choices at all the stores I went to. There were some CompUSA, eMachines, Acer, and Compaq boxes, but those were Right Out of the running. The ones I liked all had something called "XP Media" on them. Media has drivers for all the extras those boxes have, such as camera card plugins, a firewire port, and extra audio plugins. It also has about a ton of bundled media software. They concentrate on entertainment rather than office. Not that this is a bad thing, but I'm wondering how well it upgrades, and what an upgrade would cost (I'm not seeing any XP Media upgrades off the shelf at the moment, so it's kind of hard to tell). It's not upgradeable to XP Pro, which bothers me - in what way is it different? Can I install Office on it? I'd also wonder how well Media networks with other computers. This option is both the easiest and potentially the most problematic. Some of those Media features look pretty spiffy (and I wouldn't be able to assemble them myself, probably - they've made Things a bit more complex now.

4. Get a laptop. I don't know if I want a laptop. There's something nice about sitting at a desktop. But I'd love a nice, fast laptop that I could take, say, to the livingroom if I felt like working in there, or maybe upstairs, etc. I could take it to work if necessary. We looked at laptops last night and found a _schweet_ little Averatec. It was a wide screen - very large and comfortable, but so lightweight I could lift it with one hand. The comparably sized HP laptop required both hands to lift. This option, while extremely attractive, would mean that I wouldn't have a Windows desktop, and I kind of want one...

So far I've been to about 5 stores, all of which carry basically the same things. Stores already visited include Staples, Office Depot, CompUSA, Best Buy, and Circuit City. Those chains may as well be the same store, and they have "relationships" with certain manufacturers and not others. HP and Gateway seem to be their favorite pets. I'll go to some smaller places this weekend to see what else is out there. But that Averatec over at Staples looked Schweet... Nothing fancy, just a nice, comfy-sized, lightweight laptop...
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Mystery solved.

44,090 email messages stored on server.

[livejournal.com profile] rialian had forgotten to click the little checkbox in his email client to delete messages from server upon download... So we had 226 meg of spam stored in perpetuity upon rialian.com...

Of course, I didn't think of checking this until after my ISP/web host reminded me (in response to my frantically asking them if there was some huge, invisible file with tentacles in my documents area). So after a week of backing up and deleting all my journal pictures, (and a picture is worth 1000 words), I come to find out that the 226 offending meg were...

...
...
...
spam.

Poor [livejournal.com profile] rialian felt so bad... The scary thing is, the 44,090 email messages accumulated only since he set up the G3, which wasn't too long ago.

Now to start putting all my picture files back so my journals don't look like poor, bereft skeletons.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
It kind of crept up on me... I'd been blithely loading files, mostly for livejounal, and never even thought I was approaching the limit, but then realized I was 100 MB over. I had to go in and delete myriad picture and music files as a result. Unfortunately, this'll leave a lot of blank spaces in my LJ (but especially in [livejournal.com profile] yldann's). Wah. Pretty, pretty pictures, all gone. (cry).

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