pissed off cat and possible metal whiskers
Saturday, December 6 2014
It was so rainy this morning that Eleanor didn't join Gretchen and Ramona on this morning's walk in the forest. Yet again, the Almighty Creator had decided to render one of the few days of deer season unpleasant for hunters.
This morning I returned to the task of trying to get a Pogoplug 4 to act as a NAS server and serve files from a 3 terabyte hard drive. But there were unexpected complexities related to the fact that the drive had a Windows NT partition, and in order to be 3 TB in size, the partition was of a type called "GPT," which I'd first learned about only a day or two before. This meant I couldn't use a normal ntfs driver in fstab; I had install something called ntfs-3g and use that. Once I did that, the drive mounted, and I could use the Pogoplug as a NAS server. Hooray! I went around to all the computers and changed the shortcuts and aliases from \\katydid\1 to \\trenton. (I've started naming non-router Linux devices after cities in New Jersey, which is something I picked up from Sara Poiron. All her Facebook trolls have New Jersey cities for last names. My routers and access points are all still named after kinds of insects, something I've been doing since the very beginning of my time with such devices.)
As I was working on these things, I dealt with all the little frustrations the way I always do, by muttering audibly to myself. I'd click a window shut and it would hang for a pregnant moment, and I'd mutter, "Die back, just die back! Why can't you just die back?" Or in Deluge (the Bittorrent client I've been using these days), it wouldn't show the full path of the directory I wanted to place files in, something that is idiotic and error-facilitating on a network with multiple directories having the same name. So I'd mutter, "Are you stupid? Because you seem stupid!" Those are two of the most common things I mutter at software as it fails to meet my expectations.
Often when I'm really frustrated, Ramona and Eleanor will hear me and come trotting in all full of bustle and enthusiasm, and this can be either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how things are going. I usually take a break from my frustration and greet them warmly, because it seems clear they want to cheer me up. But with cats, particularly Julius (aka "Stripey"), it's a different story. Whenever he shows up, it's always about him. Compared to dogs, all cats have Asperger syndrome; Stripey never cares if I'm frustrated or enraged. All that concerns him is that I have a warm lap. This morning as I went back and forth between the Pogoplug and Woodchuck at opposite corners of the laboratory, my lap was only available for moments at a time. Indeed, the wheelchair had been pushed out of the way and I'd just run over and kneel in front of Woodchuck when I needed to use it. Stripey got in my way at one point, and so I grabbed him and placed him a short distance away, and then sat down in the wheelchair and wheeled myself in front of the screen. I felt a bassy bump and heard a high-hat hiss; evidently I'd run over Stripey's tail. It wasn't the first time I'd done this and it won't be the last, but I always feel terrible when I do. So, once the Pogoplug was working successfully as a NAS, I went and found Stripey in the teevee room. But he'd been so traumatized that he ran away from me. He's never done that before. This made me feel even worse, so I made a real effort to sneak up on him and, when he finally acquiesced to my petting him, I did so for a long time. I also checked his tail to see if I'd injured it. I hadn't of course.
Later in the day, as I watched last night's Gold Rush, Stripey came over and lay in my lap, something he rarely does in the teevee room. I was relieved that we'd apparently reconciled.
At some point well before mid-February, I'm going to need to put together some sort of computer for use as the seed library's stop action workstation, which will ultimately be placed at the Philadelphia Flower Show. It will have to be a fairly modern machine, and should probably be faster than any of the laptops I have on hand. So I thought refurbish Woodchuck's old motherboard, a Socket 775 "DigitaLife" unit manufactured by Foxconn. I have a Core-2 Quad CPU and eight gigabytes of memory for it, which should make it more than capable enough for the requirements. I proceeded to put it all together in an old PC case, tried to boot it up, but ended up with an 85 post code on its digital readout. Google searches did no good; something was wrong with it, but nobody could tell me what. Something I found online hinted at problems with the power supply or grounding, but removing the case and trying other power supplies did no good. No matter what I removed or changed (including the three volt battery), post code 85 was the best I could coax out of it. The last time I'd powered up this motherboard, it had worked just fine, so I wondered if perhaps it was being plagued by "metal whiskers," a problem I'd once read about but never experienced. So, in desperation, I removed the CPU and memory and proceeded to vigorously scrub the motherboard in the sink using hot soapy water. Once I'd satisfied myself that it had been thoroughly cleaned, I put it to dry above the woodstove. That damn post code 85 basically devoured my entire evening; in terms of the best use of my time, it would have been so much cheaper just to buy a cheap Socket 775 motherboard on eBay. So, to hedge my bets, that's exactly what I ended up doing. The motherboard only cost $26, though it lacks a lot of the features of the DigitaLife.
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