Monthly Archives: October 2001

The computer's fast; getting set up is slow

More XP follies today; as planned, I reformatted the disk and did an install from scratch. Then I installed antivirus and firewall software, and only then did I hook up to the Net. That pretty much sums up the progress I’ve made. But the machine sure boots quickly.

Battlebots tickets still available

I was afraid the Battlebots tickets might sell out, but they haven’t yet; we’re going to see late elimination rounds, which will be taped for the show on Comedy Central. Should be fun!

Shabbat Shalom!

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The XPerience begins

I brought the computer home and fired it up; the first boot started up by showing me the license agreement (“we own Windows, you just own a piece of plastic”) for my approval, then required the 25-digit serial number (printed on a sticker which says that you must affix this sticker to your computer) before I could continue. Microsoft is certainly subtle in letting you know who’s boss.

Once I got past that point, the system booted quickly and invited me to activate it (i.e., sending my configuration data to Microsoft). I’ve declined that invitation so far, though it’s mandatory if I actually want to keep using the system after 30 days.

Some of my hardware doesn’t have full-function drivers yet, especially the video card; ATI says that their full driver will be available next Monday. The driver on the XP CD works fine, though it doesn’t have the ATI value-added adjustments (apparently Microsoft doesn’t want to have anything hardware-specific complicating the user experience). I tried installing the drivers which came with the video card and XP complained, saying they would destablize the system — they did, too. So I went on the web and got a beta of the real ATI drivers and that seems to be stable.

I plan to wipe the disk and start again anyway, though. I want to get rid of a lot of the junk applications which came with the Audigy Platinum sound card (and it would be nice to have final drivers, too). And the DirectCD drivers which came with the
Plextor CD-RW drive don’t work under XP; I may abandon the Roxio software in favor of Nero anyway, though.

And I’d like to install as little of the Microsoft salesware as I can get away with. I don’t need MSN Explorer, whatever that is.

I did successfully get Norton Anti-Virus installed (we have a enterprise license for it which specifically includes employee-owned machines which connect up to work), even though the version I brought home doesn’t explicitly support XP yet. And I have a copy of Zone Alarm ready to install, too — I haven’t put the machine on the network yet, so that hasn’t been a priority.

More to come, probably over the weekend.

Windows of Hope

We had dinner out tonight to support Windows of Hope. The food was pretty good, but I probably could have skipped the dessert. Oh, well, 5% of the calories went to a good cause.

Battlebots is coming!

At dinner, I found out that the next Battlebots tournament is on Treasure Island (between San Francisco and Oakland) next month. We may well go.

Movin’ on up

I thought last night’s Enterprise was quite a bit better than the second episode. There’s hope.

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Toy Time!

Pixel USA just called; my new computer is ready. I expect most of my playtime over the next few days to go into learning about Windows XP (yes, I drank the Kool-Aid) and moving files and programs from the old machine to the new, so postings may be rather infrequent, and may be more likely to be concerned with logging my eXPeriences than with deep philosophical topics or even good jokes.

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We do our part

We spent the weekend trying to keep the economy going, though we don’t have very much tangible to show for it yet.

Diane’s car is beginning to show some early signs of age (10 years, 120,000 miles), so we thought it would be a good time to start looking at replacing it before running into serious maintenance expenses. I was looking forward to trying out some nice new cars like the redesigned Camry and the Prius (we’ve always owned at least one Toyota and have been very happy with them) and the Volvo S60.

We decided to start at the Toyota dealer — it took a few minutes to find a salesman (somewhat to my surprise). But eventually, we connected, and we asked if we could drive a Prius. He said they didn’t have any to test, but we could rent one — we started to leave, and he suddenly said, “let me check around” and a minute later, came back with a car. He handed us the keys and off we went (without asking for ID or going with us) for a test drive; when we returned a few minutes later, we couldn’t find him to give back the keys. So we had him paged, sat down, and ordered a Prius — delivery should be in 4-1/2 months or so. The whole process took less than an hour, start to finish — it would have been faster if the salesman hadn’t been so hard to locate.

So much for enjoying test drives. *sigh*

My computer is also showing its age (4 years old tomorrow, with a noisy fan in the power supply), so I decided it was time to get a new one. I’d done some configuration and pricing work already, and it looked like I could find what I wanted at a reasonable price at Pixel USA, a store recommended by the Moose. I took a friend with me to give me moral support and a sanity check, and less than 90 minutes later, had ordered a shiny new computer. I decided to let them build it since they have more time than I do, and it should be ready Wednesday or Thursday. My goal for the machine is editing video and making DVDs and Video CDs — I have hours of camcorder tape of Jeffrey, and I’m sure there’s a good 15 minutes of interesting video hiding in it. I also want to convert some of the VHS tapes we’ve dubbed from TV to something more permanent and convenient. But even though I want to make DVDs, I decided against buying a DVD writer quite yet — I’m very confused about the differences between the various formats. I left one IDE port free in the machine, so I should be able to add a DVD writer easily enough.

We also ate out several times, but nowhere particularly interesting.

Diane, I’m glad Philip came through OK!

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No hassle refund

Shake it up!

A few minutes ago, Diane noticed a small quake — neither Jeffrey nor I felt it. A quick check on the USGS’s Recent Quakes map showed a small quake, magnitude 3.1, about five miles from here, so she reported how it felt for the Community Internet Intensity Map. Small quakes are OK. Big ones are a different story.

Shabbat Shalom!

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On the lighter side

And people just love offering us credit:

wrong name: It’s a pity Diane’s last name isn’t “Goldberg” and her middle initial isn’t “L”.

I may have found a way to get a better price on my TiVo without having to go through the hassle of returning it — Good Guys claims to match local dealer prices, and the current issue of Consumer’s Checkbook BARGAINS, which arrived today, shows the TiVo available from a nearby store for only a few bucks more than the price. So I should be able to walk in with the magazine and get a price match — at least that’s the theory. We’ll see.

I’m looking forward to the Bay Area Weblogger User Group meeting in a couple of weeks; it should be interesting, and possibly even fun. Join us if you can.

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Downhill trajectory

We just finished watching the second episode of Enterprise; it was still pretty good, but I didn’t think it was up to the level of the first episode. I hope next week’s episode is at least as good as this week’s; I’d hate to see the slide in quality continue for very long.

I’ve never watched an entire episode of The West Wing — only the end of one show, while in a hotel gym — but I decided I’d like to see tonight’s. So I’ve got the TiVo capturing it now and I’ll watch it some other time; setting that up caused some confusion at the end of Enterprise, since the TiVo popped up a screen telling us it wanted to switch channels. If I’d started watching Enterprise from the “Now Playing” screen instead of from “Live TV”, I don’t think TiVo would have hassled me about the change. Probably.

The TiVo has been busy for the last couple of days, with TNN’s Star Trek: Next Generation marathon; I didn’t even know there was one, but TiVo noticed that we watched other Star Trek shows and took the initiative to record some episodes. I don’t know what basis it uses to pick particular episodes, but it found at least two that Jeffrey wants to see. Not a bad gadget!

I do wish I’d spent more time researching the box, though; I bought it at a local Good Guys for what I thought was a pretty good price (well, the standard price). But yesterday, I discovered that (same people, different corporate structure) sells the box for quite a bit less. I’m trying to decide if the hassle of ordering a TiVo online, setting it up, then cancelling the subscription for this one and taking it back to the store is worthwhile or not — I almost wish I hadn’t found out in time to contemplate the exchange. Sadly, Good Guys doesn’t match their own online prices, or I’d have an easy way out of the dilemma.

But if that’s my biggest problem of the night, I can’t really complain.

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Y2K bugs live on

I took our car in for regular service today, and was amused to note the date on the repair order: “Tuesday, October 1, 1901”. Hey, if it doesn’t bother the repair shop, it doesn’t bother me!

Now that I have a TiVo, I’m amazed how much good stuff there is on TV — it’s just that most of it is on at 3am or similar hours. I’m confident I’ll never be able to keep up with what it captures for me, but at least I have a chance to see some good programs.

Enterprise definitely qualified as a good program — we all watched it raptly, and I’m looking forward to the next episode. I love the way the characters portray a sense of wonder about what’s happening — it’s not just another day at the office for them. This is a far cry from my reaction to Voyager — I watched the first episode, then taped the second one but never actually got around to watching it because the first one had left me so flat. Voyager eventually improved, of course, but I don’t feel compelled to track down the episodes I missed.

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