Phase II Begins!

You may remember discussion of Phase I from before (and if not you can click that link to see it).  Well, the time has come, 90% of the needed equipment is here (waiting on the bracket to mount a patch panel to the plywood), but there’s no reason I can’t start by making some holes in the walls.  So this evening that’s just what I did.  As of right now, the first wallbox is half done.  Still one more in the office to do after that, then there’s the living room and shack.  And that’ll be about 90% of the house wired for Ethernet :>  I’ll also want to replace the one phone line in the kitchen, and may want to eventually run one or two wallboxes to the kitchen/dining room, and I’ll definitely want one in each bedroom.  But the upstairs ones can wait longer, since they’ll be more difficult and there’s no real need for them yet, as can the kitchen/dining room.  So that initial 90% figure will be about 100% of the ones that I really want to have done anyway.

Pictures will follow when the job is complete (in fact, I haven’t taken any yet, but not much has happened so far except a hole in the wall and 3 CAT5e cables coming out of it).

Oh Well

Then I go and post nothing in May either.  Oh well, been busy lately.  Still haven’t had time to get the APRS antenna mounted, but now I’ve got a ladder sitting in the garage (on loan from my father) which I can use to get high enough on the house to mount it.  Think I’m just a 3/8″ hole saw away from finishing that project up, and having full use of the charcoal grill again without first having to turn off the APRS radio and move the magmount.  Speaking of the garage, I picked up some shelves on Friday evening and put them together in there, and got all the stuff that was littering the floor onto them.  Between that and some organization kits from there, all the yard tools are hung up nicely on the walls now, and I even made a spot for the lawn chairs so I’m not tripping over them either (nor are they falling over if I bump into them slightly).  Finally, for the first time in.. 5 years?.. I got all my tools organized and put away into the toolbox.  When we moved from Mays Landing to West Deptford, I never bothered to do it since they hadn’t moved around too much.  But when we moved to Ewing, they definitely got jostled and I just didn’t bother at all since I rarely used any of them.  Kinda hard to work on a car in a parking lot when your tools are on the second floor, and I didn’t have stuff around the house to fix either.  Now there’s a place for just about everything, and the shelves that were already in the garage are almost cleaned off.  Maybe tonight or one other night this week I’ll vacuum the junk off of them, and then I can start pulling them out to put down the second shelving unit we purchased as a workbench (instead of stacking the two halves on top of each other, they also suggest putting the units side by side as a workbench).  I’ll have to measure things out, the wood currently used as a top for the old shelves might make a good workbench top for the new ones so it’s sturdy and consistent across the two units.  After that, the pegboard on the back wall will probably come down, and either go back up with spacers or get replaced, as well as expanded.  Then a lot of the hand-type tools that are in the toolbox currently will go on there, and I’ll have more room without needing another toolbox yet.

The basement hasn’t had much done lately, though the oil tank is on end and ready to be cut up into pieces – both to get it up out of the basement and for easy disposal.  Quite a bit of stuff has collected down near the work bench though, and I really need to get down there soon and clean things up so there’s room to work again.  Stephanie wants me to make some benches to go in the dormers upstairs – one cedar lined, and one regular – and I’ve also got to fix up a couple of the dining room chairs.  Need to grab a couple large clamps for those, and though people have offered to loan them to me, I’ll want them around anyway, so I might as well buy them :>

Finally, in one of our last trips to Lowes, I realized that copper has come down in price considerably.  I think I paid around $79 for 250′ of 14/2 wire, and $119 for 12/2.  Now 14/2 was around $49, and 12/2 was $79.  A 10′ length of 1/2″ pipe was $10 and change, and the best part was a 1000′ spool of CAT5 cable for $80.  The last of that list came home with me, so once the NJ tax return comes through I’m going to pick up the patch panel, switch and the last of the stuff needed to do the home network and new phone wiring so I can get started on that.  Since the office (2 drops) and shack are the most “important” ones, followed by the living room, I can probably do all of that in one weekend, maybe even one day.  The two upstairs drops will likely be the hardest, but they’re also the least important, so whenever they eventually happen is good enough.  Probably not until we rip the rooms apart to insulate them.

Damn You, Keith

My friend Keith has this bad habit.  He finds these interesting “browser distractions” (or maybe he doesn’t find them himself, but gets them sent to him too).  Then the bad part – he shares them with me.  I have no idea how many hours of lost productivity I can blame on these things, but I do know it’s greater than zero.  So now it’s my turn.

If you remember the game Lemmings, you’ll like this one I’m sure.  DHTML Lemmings plays right in your browser.  If you don’t remember the original, there’s some documentation on the page too, which should get you started.

As I played this game last night, I remembered thinking, “This is kinda like that one hidden level in Warcraft III.”  In the level, there’s a large “maze” leading up to your position, and some tower defense structures built along the path.  You have to build more towers, and upgrade them, to keep the bad guys who are coming out of a portal from making it all the way to the bottom of the level.  It doesn’t really count for anything, and has nothing to do with the storyline, but it’s a lot of fun to play.  That’s one of the levels I’d reload and play quite often.  Now, I can have similar fun right in Firefox with Desktop Tower Defense (which interestingly, the author mentions the level in Warcraft III which inspired him).  Place your tower defenses to kill the bad guys before they make it to the other side of the maze (which you get to create).  Soaked up an hour or so last night when I was thinking I’d be going to bed.

Shiny & New

Now that I’ve tested WordPress 2.1 and found that the themes and plugins I use work fine (there was a slight problem with PHPEnkoder, but it turns out that problem existed before and I just hadn’t noticed it; the author has since squashed the bug), I upgraded all the sites to run the new version.

Of course, they also released another new version in the last couple days, which Dreamhost will soon have available for updating.  Oh well, at least that one will be slightly less worrysome since it’s a minor upgrade.

Joshua Lives Again

Still need to do the wanted update to Fedora 6, but Joshua is once again living with mostly new hardware (carried over one of the NICs, the SCSI card and the hard drive as a primary slave now).  As soon as I can upgrade the OS, I’ll copy off the files from the old drive and probably trash it – it’s been making unhealthy noises for years now.  Then again, I’ll have to weigh the unhealthy noises against the pain in the neck (literally) of reaching into that cabinet to pull out and reattach all the cables…

Joshua Is Dead

After I can’t remember how many years of service, my desktop computer – which originally was purchased in the early 1990s and was upgraded in some way a few times over the last decade – has quit altogether.  It might just be a power supply, but since the machine is so old I’m not sure I want to try to find a replacement power supply or just take this opportunity to replace the machine.

In the mean time, there’s limited Internet access at home, since Joshua was not only my desktop computer but acted as the gateway and router for the house as well.

This Is Only A Test

Well, Dreamhost is upgrading PHP on all their machines over the next few days/weeks, and one of the issues with the upgrade is that versions of WordPress less than 2.1 will be broken. So, they suggest two possible fixes; either upgrade your WordPress installation to 2.1 or higher, or downgrade from PHP5 to PHP4. Turns out that all the sites I have WordPress running on are using PHP4 already, so I didn’t have to do anything. But looking through, there’s some new features and functions of WordPress 2.1 that would (or could) be nice. Only problem is, there’s a lack of information about what plugins or themes will be broken after the upgrade. So instead of upgrading a site to find out things don’t work, I’m going to setup a test site running WordPress 2.1, and install all the plugins and themes that I use elsewhere to see that it’s running properly. Since Dreamhost makes it simple to setup subdomains, and it doesn’t cost anything, this seems like a simpler solution than upgrading one of the sites I maintain and finding out things are broken – and I might be able to find fixes for the problems and get things running anyway, and either submit patches upstream or at least know what needs to be changed on the sites so that they’ll work after the upgrade.

Of course, the data center that houses a good chunk of their servers is going down this evening for about 5 hours, so who knows how much of this work I’ll get done before the connection to the machine goes bye bye. 😛

Not It!

A long time ago, I wrote an open source plugin for Eggdrop IRC bots. It was a hack, wrapping the functions for talking in channel around an “artificial intelligence” program. I named it after the original program, MegaHAL, and released it with no warranty, no support.. just a “hey, works for me, enjoy.” Until my email account at my former university was finally closed, I still would get emails from people, now 7 or so years later, asking for help getting it to compile. Others have taken up the torch in keeping it current (and I run one on too).

Seems I’m not the only one that deals with this kind of support nightmare – though in Steve Brown‘s case, he’s even a few more steps removed from the “problem”. Either way, this makes for good reading. And a note to all the users of programs and services out there: Read the documentation (henceforth known as “RTFM”) before emailing people for support. The documentation is there for a reason. You might even learn something – like how to go about finding a solution to your problem, or that a web based IMAP client has nothing to do with your ISP’s quotas.

Another Hooray For Akismet

I’ve mentioned Akismet a few times before – it’s the plugin I installed here which looks at comments for spam, and automatically flags them as such (and deletes them after 15 days) for me.  I mentioned a couple times how it’s doing, and today is another landmark.  As of right now it’s caught 1001 spams for me.  Yay, no more going through comments one by one to get rid of the junk!

I’ll probably not mention this again (at least until I hit 10,000).  Just figured the first 100 and first 1000 were pretty good milestones.