Monday, April 25 2005
setting: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY, USA
The weather had been great for outdoor work throughout most of April up to and including the 20th. But after that time, even down south in Silver Spring, the weather had turned cool and clammy, with occasional rain. Up until the onset of these rains, spring's usually exhuberent rebirth seemed to be held in limbo. Now, though, the grass is suddenly preternaturally green.
Today we were still in the cool phase, with temperatures never exceeding the forties. It was too unpleasant for me to continue work on the trench project, so I worked instead on mostly indoor projects.
The first of these was partly an outdoor project. I installed a tiny webcam between the parabola mesh bars of my antenna-mast WiFi antenna and then connected it to the super long USB cable that runs down to the laboratory and into Woodchuck, my main computer. Now, I can look to see wherever my antenna points. Actually, through the miracles of modern technology, so can you (at least while the webcam software isn't crashing, which it seems to do a lot).
Later I did something I haven't done for three and a third years: upgrade the motherboard on Woodchuck (that main computer of mine). Not long after I started doing it, I realized why I'd put it off for so long. Being a computer professional, I've had better motherboards lying around now for over a year, but they've never been dramatically better than my existing Athlon XP 1700+. Now, though, I was in possession of an Athlon 64 3000+. So I hopped to it and did the upgrade, which ended up in a completely different case and without any removable media drives (I have a plan to eventually locate the computer beneath the floor so I don't have to hear its fans). But the new case proved too small and underpowered for such a big, high-power processor, so I had to use a bulky case that had been occupied by Hedgehog, my Linux machine.
But even then my troubles were far from over. Because of special motherboard-specific drivers for the hard drives, I couldn't get the new motherboard to boot my old Windows 2000 setup, and something about the new motherboard was incompatible with the Windows 2000 install CD. So in addition to upgrading the motherboard, I was forced to "upgrade" to Windows XP as well. It was so humiliating, particularly when I ran my first search and was confronted with that patronizing search dog (he's been put to sleep). Happily, though, I was able to quickly transfer most of my essential work into the new OS because so much of it was in the easily-relocated Firefox and Thunderbird configurations. I was also delighted to discover that Filezilla (my FTP program) had been keeping all my server login information in an XML file, meaning I didn't have to redo any of that at all. I've found that the key to a happy and flexible Microsoft-based computational lifestyle is running as little actual Microsoft code as possible and only using programs that boycott the registry.
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