Addicted to Tweaking

I’m posting this one from my linux box, and I should be asleep now….

I should say that I’m posting this from my shiny new (sorta) linux box. It now has a new (sorta) motherboard with a speedy little 400 mhz AMD K-6 III chip as opposed to the old 266 mhz Pentium II it was laboring under, and which is now headed toward replacing my router at some point when I run out of tweaks.

The 400 mhz AMD used to be my main computer until it was replaced by the Dell 2.4 ghz P-IV. Then it became an office “work” station, but unfortunately, it was running Win98, so not a whole lot of work ever got accomplished between crashes and LAN disconnects.

At least that’s my excuse. The Dell is full of important business files and I can’t really tweak the sonofabitch. So….I got this $350 tax refund….no, not George Bush’s, but the kind of refund you get when your business has a losing year, and 2002 was pretty much a bummer. I won’t get into 2003 at this point, but let’s just say there’s a certain drift you can catch….

Back to the $350 tax refund. It was sitting there with nothing to do, and the Win 98 “work” station was constantly crashing, so we had all the excuses we needed to do some serious tweaking. Pretty serious motherboards and processers are fairly cheap these days. To make a long story a little shorter, I was looking at parts from Newegg, and Mwave and eventually settled for a barebones deal from Mwave. Almost the same price, but they mount the motherboard in a cheap case and test it. I might be a tweaking fool, but I also have enough sense to know what the fool part of the equation means when it comes to spending one’s precious tax refund. So anyway, the barebones case/motherboard/processer/RAM got shipped in no time and I was in business. I chose a $69 Asus mb with the cheaper VIA chipset and an AMD Barton core 2500+ cpu ($90). The case was about $40 and $80 for 500 megs of DDR 2700 RAM. To round it off, they also sent me an $80 OEM version of Windows XP Home. Anyway, after ripping the hard drives, video card, etc. out of the forlorn old AMD 400 and slapping it all into the new machine, I installed XP Home from a clean install and prepared to boot up my new hotrod.

But noooooo. All we seem to be getting is freeze ups after the cute little XP logo comes up. We can get into Safe Mode, but that’s about it. (One should realize that about this time our basic tweak addict is in seventh heaven). Or was. Three days later and massive BIOS configuring with countless sleepless nights, newsgroup posts, and enough coffee and beer to kill a horse, we rebooted to find ourselves, once again, in Safe Mode.

For a Tweak-addict, defeat is extremely hard to admit. Although, a 12-step program for tweakers, assuming one exists, would probably say that indeed, defeat is what we had been attempting to accomplish all along.

AAArrrrgggghhhh!!!!!!!!!! I dragged the disaster to a local shop and paid $85 for them to tell me the RAM that Mwave “tested” and sold me was crappy. A new stick of RAM and the bastard booted right up. Of course, they refunded the defective RAM, but I was still left around $80 over the tax refund. A damned killjoy couldn’t have done a better job.

But tweak addicts always have something positive to look forward to, even if it’s basically no different from the sizzling sound the dope makes heating up in a junkie’s spoon. Amazingly, this 1.8 ghz AMD 2500 is running faster than the 2.4 ghz Dell. And I’ll bet I can get it going even faster…..

DSL Upgrades?

Comcast has been rolling out 3 mbps cable internet, first with their “Pro” plan, ~$99/mo, and then in beta testing with regular users in many cities. They’ve now announced that it’s coming to Atlanta in December or so as a free upgrade to their regular $42/mo. service. While people I know are very satisfied with their Comcast service, I’m hesitant for a few reasons. First, I’m real happy with my local DSL ISP. I have a non-PPPoE connection, I’ve never been disconnected, I have a static IP address and they let me run servers. I’m running a mail server for one of my domains, basically because I wanted to learn how to configure Sendmail. The other thing, my cable tv is usually out for a few hours every couple of weeks.

Although my DSL ISP sells their own configuration, they resell Bellsouth DSL because Bellsouth owns the phone lines. Now, it looks like Bellsouth may be doing a little upgrading of their own.
It looks like Bellsouth will soon be raising the caps on their DSL service to 3 mpbs. This is, of course, just another rumor. But I’m inclined to take this one with more than a grain of salt. For one, the story is also appearing in the AJC , although their timetable has it happening within the next twelve months. For another, the rumor at Broadbandreports.com was placed by an anonymous poster. “Heh heh, yeah, right” you say. But if one follows the Bellsouth telco forum at BBR for any length of time, one would know that Bellsouth employees in general, love the company and try to promote it whenever they can. They were barred from posting there many months ago by management, so now they drop in from time to time with anonymous reports, usually favorable to Bellsouth. And usually right on target, once you filter out the propaganda. This particular “leak” falls right on the heels of a discussion about 3 mbps service from Comcast now coming to Atlanta. I’m tending to think it’s true, and that it will be offered at no increase in price. The no price increase is definately not something one would ever expect from Bellsouth, the “monopoly of the South”. The only thing is, when it comes to broadband, they’re not a monopoly any more. Cable internet has been stealing Bellsouth customers left and right.

So, given that I believe this rumor, I’m going to take a further leap and guess that people like me who use ISPs who resell Bellsouth DSL will also get the increased speed, and that we’ll get it at no price increase.

Wolf

There are other universes out there. Some of them are even “here”. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we catch a glimpse of one of them and we’re impacted. Way below the surface. Most of the time we don’t even notice what we’ve seen.

As I was driving home this evening, I’d just picked up Grandma’s hamburger and coffee at McDonald’s, a couple Roly-Poly sandwiches at, uh, Roly Poly(?) and picked up some stuff at Krogers. Dodged a maniac who didn’t know which way he was turning on Jiles Rd. and followed the line of cars heading home after work. It had to be around 8:00, but it was completely dark on this Oct. 9 day. After stopping for gas, I finally pulled off to our “main division” and went driving up the hills to our “sub”-division. I guess this used to be country here, a few miles from Kennesaw Mountain, but when I drive home, it’s house after house after house. Some wooded gullys and forest areas are about all that’s left of anything resembling primal in this neighborhood.

Our house is at the far end of the subdivision, up on a ridge overlooking one of the remaining gullys with a forest to the side. There’s a herd of deer that live down there and sometimes they get up among the houses looking for food or trying to get away from barking dogs. Other times I watch them grazing from the back deck. We have rabbits and chipmunks too, and it’s pretty nice for suburbia.

As I drove slowly down into our cul-de-sac at the end, I was going especially slow because you never know when you’ll see a kid or a pet running across the road, and it was real dark. As I turned into the cul-de-sac, and my headlights swung past the neighbor’s house I saw something big moving fast.

It was running out of the neighbor’s yard into my headlights and for a brief instant it stared me down. At first I thought deer, but it wasn’t a deer. It looked a little like a huge german shepard, but it was “rough” and the ears were too big. Then it was gone. Stunned, I pulled into my driveway and got out of the car.

I walked back about twenty yards and looked up the hill that separates our property from the woods. At the top of the hill was the wolf, staring down at me. I don’t know how long we stared at each other. It seemed like a long time. Actually, it seemed like there was no time. I stared into its eyes, and it stared back. During that eternity, thousands of years of fairy tales and mythology ran through my soul. There’s something about a wolf.

Later, I looked over at the neighbor’s house and saw why the animal had been in their yard. They have a nice solid glass outer door, and often they have the thick wooden front door inside it, open to let the outdoors “in” through the glass door. And usually there’s a small little terrier or “fifi” dog staring out the glass door. Sure enough, the little terrier was again at the door, probably looking fairly tasty to the wolf, or coyote, or whatever I’d seen.

There’s something about a wolf.