Saturday, September 27, 2008

But wait! There's more!

Almost forgotted to mention that I got my workbench finished, too. Granted, it isn't big and pretty, but for roughly $25 in assorted parts and materials, it does the job:

The machine on the left is one that I was working on -- assembly, install the OS, configuration, and such. Underneath the bench, you can (sort-of) see another couple of computers. The one on the left needs a new AMD Athlon CPU. The one right under the scissors is a second-generation Proliant ML370 server box. When it's fired up, it sounds like a jumbo jet, which is why it's holding the floor down at present; something else I plan to do One Of These Days™ is get my utility closet set up to hold my various servers (I can remotely admin them over the network) -- right now, they all live in my bedroom :-( Kind of hiding behind the left bench leg is an old Mac G3 All-in-One that I need to get Mac OS9 installed on (the machine is old enough that it can't handle OSX). I have it just because it's one box that has everything in it: monitor, sound (including speakers), the processor, and so on, for me to 'play' with.
Most of the rest of my online hardware is on a table next to the workbench:

What you're seeing there is 3 file servers (the two towers and the bottom one of the two desktop boxes). The top desktop machine is my webserver. Don't know if you can read the labels, but silly me, I put IP addresses and machine names on all my hardware -- and give them hostnames that actually mean something. You've also got a better view of that Mac All-In-One (which will have a hostname on the network of "wormy" :-P ) That bottom machine on the left is an HP Netserver LPr; though not as bad as the ML370, it's still a little noisy, too. Again, when I get my machines moved, I'll likely move my webserver and firewalling over to it. What you can't see is that I've got a 4-port KVM switch that lets me use just one monitor, keyboard, and mouse with all the servers; each server is clearly labeled as to what KVM port it's connected to :-)
You can also see that I've been getting some shelving installed to hold some of the stuff that I want to keep handy -- spare drives, cables, and so on.
What you also can't see are that the workbench has been wired to allow me to do some different kinds of networking: RS-422, 1-Wire (actually a misnomer), RS-485/488, and some others; or the various bits of test equipment I have (digital multimeter, signal generator, and the like). One of my upcoming projects is to make it easier on myself to fabricate my own PCBs, from schematics and board layouts created with the Eagle system. I have mentioned that I'm (mostly) a hardware geek, right?
Anyway, this should give you some idea of what's been keeping me busy these last couple of weeks, and what kind of mischief I get into to keep myself amused...


Okay, of the eleventy-seven different things I've had going on, I've gotten ONE of them as complete as I can: getting my webserver back in service.

I still need to deal with my ISP to get the Networking Magic straightened out, however -- the DSL modem I have is pretty much a POS, and I have to get my DSL connection set up so that my firewall has my Internet IP address instead of the modem; once that's done, I'll be hosting my own web pages again.

Rather than go through the dance of firing up my Different Lemming blog (again), I'm just going to stay on Blogger -- though I'll be linking to the website for various and sundry things. My web server will also be handling my other Internet services, too -- things like DNS and email.

Granted, it isn't a LOT of progress, but it's something...

Friday, September 26, 2008

I call 'Bullshit!'

In the last couple of weeks, I've gotten no less than six phone calls from outfits wanting me to participate in a 'survey'.
Now, normally, I'm willing to go along with such requests if I have the time. The thing is, every single one of the survey calls has been from someone that specified they were calling for political purposes (i.e. from the McCain campaign, the Democratic party, etc).
Since none of the political parties or candidates (or politicians, for that matter) has bothered to ask what I thought about things before this (I've gotten more political opinion calls in the last two weeks than I've gotten in the last two YEARS), I've got to figure it's all about the current election cycle.
Which is what causes me to call "Bullshit!".
If these assorted shitheads really wanted to know what I think about this or that, they'd have asked before this -- but since they didn't, I've got to figure that the calls are either 'push polls', or simply a way for a particular candidate or party to 'adjust' their position to garner more votes. Either way, it's bullshit: I figure if a candidate or party has to resort to that kind of nonsense in order to get votes, then they shouldn't be running for an elected office -- when I cast a vote for someone, I want them to have enough of a spine to take an actual stance on something, and MEAN it. If they believe in something, then they should be able and willing to lay out their reasons in such a way as to convince me with the FACTS -- not by playing games with how they phrase something. If someone wants to represent me in an elected office, ask me what I think about things BEFORE you need/want my vote.
The sad part of this is that these various assclowns will get enough people to respond (I hung up on them) to convince them to keep doing this kind of crap. Too bad that more of us Ordinary Citizens aren't willing to stand up and let the 'mainstream' politicians and parties know we don't like the game they're playing by casting our votes for 'none of the above'.
Personally, at this point, I'd vote for that moonbat Ralph Nader before casting a ballot for either of McCain or Obama.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Okay, so here's the deal...

Yeah, I know... I haven't been posting anything for a while.

Any of you old enough to remember Ed Sullivan and his show, it seemed that about once a month, he'd have a guy on that would spin plates on the ends of long, thin sticks. The guy would get maybe a couple dozen of these things going, then have to start running around trying to keep them all going -- which was a losing proposition; eventually, all of the damn plates ended up on the floor.

Well, I've been kinda like that guy: every time I thought about posting something that came into my head, one of the other things that I had going on would distract me. Stuff like:
  • Installing and testing the Jeebus out of Sun's Open Solaris operating system (free for the downloading). [Informal review: not quite ready for desktop usage yet, but definitely worth considering for server usage.]
  • Taking a Tonka "RC" (remote- [not radio-] controlled) frontend loader (similar to this truck, from Radio Shack) and modifying it for use as the base for an Arduino-based robotics platform, with the plan to keep building on it until I either overload the Arduino or the toy :-)
  • Getting my webserver (the original system) repaired/replaced, the operating system installed, and back online.
  • Performing all manner of bizarre and unnatural experiments on/with my Arduino.
  • Building myself an electronics workbench (surplus countertop, outlets, on/off switch, lighting, etc).
  • Sorting through all my assorted salvaged electronic/computer parts (motors, connectors, heatsinks, cables, power supplies, gears, sensors, etc) and getting them organized so I can find shit again.
  • Writing a couple of programs to learn Java through the 'total immersion' system: read how to do something I want to do, try it, then keep hacking at it until I get it right. Lather, rinse, repeat...
  • Doing the occasional bit of computer service for friend-of-a-friend or referrals -- something that makes me realize more and more just how seriously fucked up MS Windows(tm) is, and just how incredibly naive, stupid, thoughtless, or just plain ignorant some people can be.
  • Designing, building, and debugging a couple of not-too-large electronics projects for myself. If you're interested, they are a logic analyzer, a computer-based oscilloscope interface, and a small instrumentation and control system (home automation).
  • Continuing to write monthly Science & Technology articles for a local weekly newspaper.
I'm not going to make any rash promises, but I expect I'll be back to semi-regular blogging before too much longer. As I get my various little projects completed, I'll take note of it here -- and once I get my webserver back online, link to what-I-did pages. I know... you're all all aquiver in expectation, yes?