Rants of a Digital Bard

OMG! Who gave this idiot a blog?

Profoundly sad day…

As usual for a monday, Nicole woke me up to remind me to get the trash out to the curb.  But this morning, she also told me about the passing of George Carlin.

Usually when I hear about the passing of a celebrity, I get a little sad for a few moments, and then I move on to more pressing matters.  But this morning when she told me, I cried a little (inside).  And rather than just moving on, it’s set a sad tone for me today.

George Carlin was more than just a celebrity or a funny comedian to me…  I found his work to be brilliant and I marveled at how much alike our thoughts were on various subjects.  When I watched his act, it made me actually think about what he was saying, not just blindly laughing at something obvious.  Because his comedy was never obvious, until he made you think about it.

I never wanted to be him, but in many ways I always hoped I’d be “like him”.  And now that he’s gone, I’ll have to stop being so damned lazy, and start thinking for myself. 

George, if you’re reading this from beyond, we never met but “I Love You” and I miss you already.

June 23, 2008 Posted by | Touchy feely... | Leave a comment

I would like to thank…

the Academy for this…  oops, can’t use that speech yet.

So, I would like to thank the “mostly” good folks on Craigslist for confirming that AVG AntiVirus version 8 is a total piece of crap.  And for turning me on to the free Avast AV software which does appear, as they pointed out, to run more smoothly and use WAY fewer system resources.

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Geek stuff, Tech | Leave a comment

Need to upgrade my computer, desperately…

A little over 3 years ago I upgraded my computer to the latest stuff available, Pentium 4 processor with Hyper-Thread technology, two gigabytes of dual channel RAM, dual 200 gig ATA133 hard drives, a 256MB AGP video card…  it rocked!  Today it’s trash.  I see the same parts selling on eBay for $100.

I do a LOT of work in Adobe After Effects, 3D Studio Max and other 3D applications.  And it takes my computer an average of 4 to 6 hours to render 25 seconds of video.  That’s 4 to 6 hours that I can’t use my computer (or it extends the time to render).

I can keep my hard drives, but I have to replace my motherboard, processor, memory and video card if I want to do a decent upgrade.  Roughly $200.  $200 that I don’t have….sigh.

For the geeks out there, this is what I selected for my upgrade:

  • GIGABYTE GA-M78SM-S2H motherboard
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Brisbane 2.5GHz processor
  • G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8400GS 256MB DDR2 PCI-E x16 Video Card 

The motherboard actually has a decent built in video card, so I’m gonna use that at first, then upgrade to the PCIe video card later.  Total is $245 shipped.  Now I just gotta find someone willing to give me a good price for a used kidney.

June 18, 2008 Posted by | Geek stuff, Tech | Leave a comment

Make it stop!

Nicole asked me a couple days ago which cartoon or celebrity voices would fit best with each of our animals (3 dogs, 2 cats)…  Truly a Seinfeld moment.  I didn’t feel like participating in the conversation, but now I’ve got the thought stuck in my damn head!

June 14, 2008 Posted by | Touchy feely... | Leave a comment

Lookin’ for CD/DVD burning software…

When I got my very first CD burner, it came with Adaptec’s CD burning software.  Which was “okay”, but there were features I wanted it didn’t support.  My second drive came with Nero.  AHA!  Finally some software that supported what I wanted.

For the next several years each time Nero upgraded their software I paid for the upgrade.  But starting with version 7, there wasn’t really anything NEW for actually burning.  They just kept adding more and more multi-media related crud (video editing, photo slide-shows, etc.).  Nero used to be a nice compact burning program, now it’s among the worst form of bloatware.  So I haven’t upgraded since version 6.

However, version 6 doesn’t support dual sided DVD burning, something I have been able to live without until now.  I’m totally disgusted by the bloat of Nero 8, but I figured I’d upgrade and just not install the crap I don’t want.

Now, as I mentioned before, I’ve been a loyal Nero user and have PAID for upgrades for years.  Each upgrade was $20 (when I upgraded from version 4 to 6, the price was still just $20).  However, the “special discount” they are offering me to upgrade from version 6 to 8 is $64…  A whopping $15 off the retail price for an UPGRADE.  And only because I am such a loyal customer.  I’d expect to pay $40, $20 to version 7, then $20 to version 8, but $64 when I don’t even want most of the crap that’s in the package?

Do they at least have a cheaper version with JUST the CD/DVD burning?  No.  So, to the people at Nero I say “good-bye!”  I will be moving on to something less bloated and I will no longer be a loyal customer, nor will I recommend your software any longer.

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Don't get me started..., Geek stuff, Tech | Leave a comment

I hate computers…

Sometimes, I really do.  Finally got my computer up and running and WHAM, another problem.

For the past few years I’ve been running my system on 1 GB of ram.  When I originally built it, I bought 2 GB’s, but the original version of World of Warcraft crashed constantly when I used 2 GB (or so I thought).  So I pulled half of it out, meaning to put it back after some testing, but I never got around to testing and just kept the system that way.

So, after rebuilding everything, I decided “HEY! let me put that other 1 GB that I paid for years ago into the system!”  Crash and burn.  Getting a lot of STOP errors caused by W32k.sys, so I look it up and it points to a memory issue.  So… I download the bootable ISO from memTest86+, run it and I’m getting memory errors.  Ugh.. I wish I would have investigated this 3 years ago.  Fortunately, the memory is high-end Crucial with their lifetime warranty, so I’ll be putting that to the test.  So now I gotta figure out which chip or chips are bad and return them.

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Geek stuff, Tech | Leave a comment

Readin’ is teh Sex!

Okay, I finally got Windows XP installed and updated.  Got AVG re-installed.  And got things mostly the way I want them…  So I created an image of the installed OS and AntiVirus by itself using the free version of Acronis (awesome software).

Now it’s time to re-install all of the apps, then do another image (if I can find some place to put it) and finally restore all of my files…  All-in-all close to 400 GB.  I’m gonna be babysitting the computer for awhile…  So what do I do in the meantime?

First, put some music on the new SanDisk MP3 player Nicole got me (did I mention that after two divorces, someone else actually wants to marry me?) and second, grab a book I bought 6 months ago and never bothered to start reading.

“Mission to Minerva” is the 5th book in a Sci-Fi series from my favorite (or second favorite, I haven’t decided) author.  As with all of the books in the series, it’s grabs you from the beginning… so I have to make an effort to look up at the screen every now and then to see if I need to interact with the computer.  James P. Hogan (did I mention I like his work?) is an outstanding writer and his style is such that he will have you literally crying (yes, it’s okay for men to cry from books, just not movies) in one moment and laughing your butt off the next.

I’m guessing that had I been doing something else instead of reading the book from cover to cover, I would have been done with the computer in about 9 or 10 hours instead of 14.

I backed up a bunch of old stuff I’ll never use again to a few DVD-R’s and barely had room on my 500gb USB drive to stick another backup image of just my applications plus OS.  There’s a TON more stuff I need to back up and delete.  Of course, if I were smart I’d just delete the stuff instead of wasting time backing it up, but you never know when you, your computer, and all of your backups might end up in another Multiverse where the old crap will actually be useful.

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Geek stuff, Tech | Leave a comment

BTW, WTF is up with AVG AntiVirus?

Why the heck does the software require me to reboot my computer every few updates?  Seriously… I never had to reboot this much with Norton or McAfee when I used them.  I’d upgrade to the paid version of AVG if it didn’t do the same thing.

Why can’t software developers create software that can update itself without having to reboot your computer?  I know it can be done because a lot of software already does it.  The technology is available… it’s called DLLs.  Simply unload the old DLL and load the new one.

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Don't get me started..., Tech | Leave a comment

I hate Windows…

If I didn’t have so much money and time invested in Windows software, I’d drop it like a bad habit (which it is).

Once again, a security update has caused a catastrophe…  AVG AntiVirus had been bugging me for days to reboot my computer and since Windows had just installed a new security update and was bugging me too, I decided to go ahead and reboot.  That was the end…  Windows wouldn’t let me log back in.  I had left my password blank and the new update didn’t like that, so it refused to let me log in.  I tried logging into the admin account, but same problem.  I tried booting into safe mode and logging into the admin account, but  same problem.

Finally, I tried booting with last known good configuration, same problem.  Years of training as a computer tech urged me on to try one thing after another with no luck.  Finally, I decided to boot my XP disk and do a rescue setup.  But, I didn’t realize I used the wrong XP disk (I have too many computers, did I mention that?) and now Windows is whining at me about authenticity issues.

Why?  Because I used an old copy of Corporate XP to do the rescue (yes, I should have thrown the disc away after I left my last job) and my legal version is an OEM version I got when I bought my computer.  Of course, Microsoft can’t make it simple and just allow me to enter my LEGALLY obtained XP key and be done…  Nope, I have to RE-INSTALL (or do another rescue setup) from an OEM version of XP.  I hate Microsoft.

It’s been almost 3 years since I installed XP on this machine, so it’s time for fresh re-install from scratch anyway.  So, I’m using the wife’s computer to type this and surf the net in general while installing a fresh copy of XP on my computer.

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Don't get me started..., Geek stuff, Tech | Leave a comment

WTF! is up with YouTube?

Seriously.  Why is the video so damn crappy?  I realize that the storage requirements for better video are pretty high, but at least make it a paid option or something…

I know there are some other YouTube like sites out there with better video, but so far I haven’t found one that’s as easy to use.  So, like many, I continue to host my own videos.  Which means the quality is MUCH MUCH better, but nobody ever sees them…

June 10, 2008 Posted by | Don't get me started..., Tech, Videography | Leave a comment