All articles, tagged with “et cetera”

life lessons

Never, ever, ever order anything from a printed catalog.

That’s how they find you.

I may have to move soon, and leave no forwarding address.

two for two

And on a lighter note, yet still slightly political.

So this afternoon I was in the gym at work, doing my usual thing on the elliptical machine. The machine I was on faced one of the mirrored walls, affording me a good view of the gym’s entrance. In walks a group of people, the obvious center of which is a very tall and extremely good-looking man. I mean, male-model gorgeous — just ridiculous. Perfectly coiffed hair, tailored shirt, penetrating eyes, excellent cheekbones. Of course, I immediately start trying to make eye contact when I realize…

…it’s our goddamn mayor. And he’s done it to me again.

burying the giants whose shoulders we stood on

Requiscat in Pace, Del Martin. 87 well-lived years, and you left behind a world that in many ways was markedly better in direct consequence of your life’s work. May we all pass as well, and be as well-loved at our passing.

I crack myself up, Pt. MCMXVII

Continuing adventures in selling off my old useless crap to my coworkers:

apparently I am google

For some reason, I get a lot of wrong-number SMS messages. Sometimes they’re explicable: it made perfect, if annoying sense that I’d get text messages from teenagers in area code 817 (Dallas, TX) since my phone number is in 718. Sometimes, however, they made so little sense as to make me suspect that Verizon was just completely mis-delivering messages.

Case in point, from the day before yesterday:

425-765-6XXX: Circa 1980’s music video done in black & white, guy in coffee shop & gets pulled into newspaper comic strip then crumpled up & thrown away?

Me: “Take On Me” by A-Ha. …btw, who is this?

425-765-6XXX: So sorry! Have no idea how u got this message, was sent to 1 person on contact list of which u r not one. Must have been glitch, but thank u very much for info!

Me: happy to help!
I guess it was just lucky that this person’s message got delivered to someone with an encyclopedic memory of early-80s MTV programming.

Area code 425 is apparently northern Washington state. I have no idea.


Sadly for my ability to tell further tales of geek commerce frustration, but happily for my ability to, you know, make and receive phone calls, yesterday’s story ended rather anticlimactically: I walked into the AT&T Store at 20th & Mission, and hadn’t even gotten a quarter of the way into my tale of woe when the support rep there kindly cut me off: “oh, right, you need to do a relocation and port!” Apparently this is common enough that the people there have done it before. An awesomely competent young woman named Monica wrote a few details down on a post-it note, told me to hang loose while she went in back and made some phone calls, and about 40 minutes later it was all over: I didn’t even have to wait 6 hours for the port to complete. She even wished me a happy pre-birthday. I think I may have to take back at least half a few dozen bad things I’ve said about AT&T.

Of course, it’s still a little sad that if they’re aware enough of this scenario to be able to quickly fix it that it still happens in the first place, but considering that my first job out of college was actually at AT&T, where I was paid $10/hour to take fan-fold dot matrix printouts from one database and type portions of it into another database… well, it’s just not that surprising.

(That job is more or less responsible for the strange thing I call my ‘career’ today. After two weeks of possibly the most intense tedium that I have ever encountered as a human being, I finally found one of the floppy disks that the printouts were being made from, and taught myself enough MS Access BASIC to write an import program. Two months later, they finally noticed that despite the fact that the database kept getting populated I appeared to be spending all of my time reading, and one of the IT staff there gave me the name of a tech recruiter: a month later, I had my job at BBN. For all I know, that program may still be in production use there.)

So yeah, I can has iPhone. It’s shiny!

Also: happy birthday to , , and the eternally blogless but still awesome Hurricane Kari! Oh yeah, and to me.

and we’re back

Well, that pretty much sucked. After about two days off the air, is back. Many thanks to the lovely people at The Planet for some truly heroic efforts at getting all of their customers online after what is pretty much the nightmare/game-over scenario for any datacenter manager. No thanks to the laws of physics for making high-voltage electricity such an unforgiving bastard to work with.

Email is slowly starting to trickle back in, but will probably still be delayed for several hours as my poor little CPU chokes and sputters on processing all of the queued up spam.

Daily Show: 1, my workout: 0

On a good day, if the timing works out, I like to be in the gym and on the elliptical machine by 5pm sharp. It’s for a simple reason: the machines have TVs that carry Comedy Central, and if I’m on them at 5pm, I can watch last night’s Daily Show as I work out, which makes the whole experience move by a lot faster.

…or at least that’s how it usually works. Yesterday, however, this happened:

(warning: extremely juvenile humor)

It turns out that it’s really hard to keep a good cadence going on an elliptical machine while you are choking with laughter. It also turns out that people look at you really oddly when you have a near-epileptic crack-up in the gym.

I made it until about the 3:45 mark before I had to stop and get off the machine because I was in danger of falling off it.

Well played, Mister Oliver. You win this round.

tis the season

Happy half-price chocolate day, everyone!


Everyone else is posting their year-end wrapup lists. Here’s mine.

Starting around April of this year, I commenced Operation Decrapification, in which the metric shit-ton of random computer equipment that had piled up in my apartment(s) over the last decade was unboxed, sorted, inspected, occasionally returned to working order, and then mercilessly flogged off to my coworkers, craigslist, ebay and at a last resort the local recycling center. What follows is the complete list of “crap I should have thrown away years ago or better yet never acquired in the first place”, set forth here as a monument and reminder, largely to myself, to never ever ever let things get to this state again. The rest of you may look on in whatever combination of horror and amusement suits you.

Most every line here is the subject line of a post to either the internal “stuff for sale” mailing list at my job or craiglist, with expansions of the more cryptic ones as appropriate. (In case it isn’t obvious: this stuff not actually for sale any more. It’s all gone, thank the gods above, below and elsewhere.)

  • for sale-ishthingy: take over my colo deal (edit: a friend-of-a-friend hosting deal for that ended up being more trouble than it was worth)
  • Athlon 2800 computer in Lian Li PC-39 aluminum case w/ tons of accessories
  • 4 wifi routers for sale (two linksys, two netgear)
  • Free: Sony Multiscan SF II 15” CRT monitor
  • a small pile of Exabyte VXA-1 drives, robots and tapes
    • 1 ixternal SCSI VXA-1 drive. In good working condition.
    • 1 internal IDE/33 VXA-1 drive (compaq oem). In good working condition.
    • 1 rack-mount VXA-1 AutoPak 10-slot / 1-drive tape robot. 2U rackmountable.
    • 8 V33 (33gb uncompressed) VXA tapes + 1 VXA cleaning cartridge

  • Free: two big boxes of computer detritus:
    • Cables!
      • SCSI cables (ranging from old centronics/db25 SCSI-1 to ultra-wide LVD/SE stuff)
      • serial cables (db9, db25, most possible combinations and adaptors)
      • APCC UPS cables
      • USB cables
      • power cables
      • parallel cables (remember those?)

    • Random little things!
      • passive SCSI terminators
      • active SCSI terminators (an APC SCSI Sentry, for you old mac-heads in the audience)
      • many, many old mice (mostly ps2-style connector, but a few usb and at least one old serial mouse)
      • a pair of TV-in PCI cards (ATI TV Wonder, I think)
      • webcams! (two old parallel-port models, and I think there’s a USB one in there somewhere)

    • Bigger random things!
      • at least 3 ATX power supplies
      • a highly dodgy off-brand USB film scanner
      • a “CD Stamper” cd/dvd labeller, completely with 10 sheets of labels

  • Sony SCSI CD-ROM Discman
  • Tadpole SparcBook 3
  • Free: three ATX power supplies
  • UK GSM Cell Phone
  • 2.4ghz vtech cordless phone
  • Palm/Handspring Treo USB sync/charge cable for Treo 180/270/300/600
  • universal camera battery charger (digital concepts CH-3300)
  • FREE: yet more cables & assorted free stuff
    • 17 standard 3-prong power cables of varying lengths
    • 7 rj11 telephone cords of lengths from “kinda long” to “really damn long”
    • 1 3ft VGA to component BNC cable (your VGA card will need to be able to output a sync-on-green signal for a component TV to work with this; check your manual)
    • 1 rather long (12ft?) ethernet cable
    • 2 db9 to miniplug connector for an APC UPS (?)
    • 1 miniplug to RJ11 connector (no idea what this was for, maybe a tivo/stb thing?)
    • 1 DB9M to DB9F APC UPS cable (part 940-0024B)
    • 1 DB9M to DB9F APC UPS cable (part 940-0024C)
    • 2 DB25M to DB25F serial cable
    • 5 DB25M to DB25M serial cable
    • 1 DB9F to DB25M serial cable
    • 2 HD68 SCSI cable (ultra-wide/lvd)
    • 3 HD50 SCSI cable (fast-narrow scsi2)
    • 1 HD50 to centronics SCSI cable
    • 1 HD5 to DB25M SCSI cable
    • 1 centronics (parallel or scsi) cable
    • 2 DB25M to centronics parallel or scsi cable
    • 1 Sun A/B serial console splitter cable (DB25M to 2xDB29F)
    • 1 coax cable
    • 1 internal IDE cable
    • 1 USB charge/sync cable for a Palm/Handspring Treo 180/270/300/600 smartphone
    • assorted mice including an old Sun 3-button optical mouse and an Apple optical mouse (the ‘buttonless’ lozenge, not the hockey puck)
    • assorted SCSI terminators including an APCC SCSI Sentry (powered active terminator, includes PSU)
    • 1 nVidia GeForce 2MX AGP video card

  • free: Avery “CD Stomper” cd/dvd labeller w/ labels
  • free: bag of 10 RJ45 adhesive wall mounts
  • 1 non-functional Nikon CoolScan III slide scanner
  • yet more free stuff
    • 1 Adaptec 2100S PCI SCSI-2 (fast/narrow) controller card
    • 1 Celeron 300A CPU with heatsink
    • 1 Ricoh PCMCIA bridge PCI card
    • 2 256MB PC133-ECC DRAM dimms
    • 1 CueCat ps/2 keyboard interface barcode scanner, in original box (a piece of dot-com debacle history!)
    • 1 Logitech Wingman Extreme joystick. (note: it’s missing the gameport<->usb adaptor, although I might yet manage to dig it up)
    • 2 mousepads (one of which is the old mousepad; the other was a pack-in from the pc version of Max Payne)
    • 1 Creative CT7230 DXR3 PCI hardware DVD decoder card
    • 1 Creative 3D Blaster (GeForce 2 GTS) GB0010 AGP video card
    • 1 Keyspan FPCI-3 3-port FireWire PCI card
    • 2 2MB Apple Newton flash memory cards
    • 1 Diamond MX-300 PCI sound card (to this day, I curse Creative for burying this card after their buyout of Aureal)
    • 1 Crucial 256MB PC133 non-ECC DIMM
    • 1 Aironet 4800 802.11b PCMCIA card
    • 1 Kodak Advantix 4100ix APS point-and-shoot camera

  • Shuttle Zen ST62KS silenced SFF PC
  • Ratoc FR1SZ Firewire to SCSI-2 converter
  • Palm Treo 700p/700w Flexi Case
  • Nintendo Gamecube w/ games & accessories:
    • Nintento GameCube, black, with PSU and composite video out cables
    • 1 black wired controller
    • 1 white WaveBird wireless controller
    • 1 4MB memory card
    • Super Mario Sunshine
    • Soul Calibur II
    • Metroid Prime
    • SSX Tricky
    • Super Smash Bros Melee

  • original Xbox, games, controllers:
    • 2 controllers (one microsoft “type S” controller, one 3rd-party)
    • 1 Xbox Live headset kit
    • the usual cables (power, video, etc)
    • Fight Night 2004
    • Halo 2

  • Humax Tivo Series 2 with builtin DVD player/recorder
  • 5.8ghz vtech cordless phone
  • 50-foot 3-RCA Component Video Cable
  • 1 Lexmark-branded IBM 101-key PC “Model M” keyboard.
  • 1 Unicomp “Customizer 104” USB keyboard
  • 2 no-name white plastic ps2 104-key keyboards.
  • Sega Dreamcast w/ 7 games
  • Nintendo 64 w/ 3 games
  • 1000’ spool of CAT5 ethernet cable
  • Newton Messagepad 2100
  • 2x 3Com 3c509TP ISA ethernet adaptors (10baseT + AAUI)
  • 1x 3Com 3c509B ISA ethernet adaptor (10baseT-only)
  • 1x Adaptec AHA-2940UW ultra/wide scsi 2 PCI controller
  • 1x Asante MacCon+IIET NuBus ethernet adaptor (10baseT + AAUI)
  • 1x temperature reactive mousepad (remember when these were the bomb? uh, me neither.)

Let this be a warning to all of you: cull early and cull often, and never ever ever pick up a “free” bit of electronics kit because it’s “neat” or because “I might have a use for this one day” — it’s not and you won’t.

(The other moral? Working for a company full of equally-or-worse obsessive-compulsive geek hoarders is a great way to get rid of all of your regrettable acquisitions.)