Tupperware Computing!

A few days ago my roommate got a box of random electronic parts donated to him. Most of the stuff was junk, only good to salvage parts off of. But there were two items that we did find of interest. Two motherboards that seemed like they were still in pretty good condition.

What if we could get them up and running again?

And so our weekend project was started!

IMAG0080 First we got an old power supply and some old RAM we had laying around and plugged everything up to see if it would even turn on. That turned out to be a bit more trouble than we initially thought we’d have. Sean searched the internet for the manual to the motherboard and we found the pins that the power button was to plug up to. One small problem, we didn’t have a power button. So while Sean got something together, we used a set of hemostats to bridge the pins and power on the pile of parts. Something was wrong though, the monitor we had hooked up to it didn’t show anything. and since we didn’t have a PC speaker, we couldn’t hear beep codes. We almost resorted to the ancient art of poke-at-it-with-a-screwdriver when i noticed a jumper in between the two RAM banks. I pulled it out and tried the power and BAM! POST!IMAG0081 By this time Sean had gotten a power button and a light soldered together for us to use. Now we needed some sort of boot up medium, and we decided that a USB drive would be optimal. We got a 2GB drive from Walmart and loaded it up with Lubuntu.

After tweaking the BIOS settings a bit we finally were able to boot off the USB drive and get to the boot menu for the drive. On our first attempt to boot from the drive we got a kernel panic so we decided to test the RAM. That ended up being a good idea, since we discovered all of our extra DDR RAM was bad. Into the trash with that stuff! Luckily there was a second bank of RAM slots on the motherboard which supported SDRAM, an older format of RAM.

Sean pulled out the motherboard for one of his first computers, Jenny, and luckily it still had RAM in it’s banks! Thank god for hording computer parts 🙂 We pulled out two of the ram sticks and tested them. They were good to go!IMAG0095 We booted up and tada! We got a loading screen. It seemed to take forever to load, then we noticed we’d forgotten to put in the second chip of RAM, whoops :3

Now we’re in the process of updating the Ubuntu core and then we’re going to see if we can get some sort of clustering up and running. It would be neat to get a farm up and running.

There are more pictures on my flickr account

outrageous to some; rational to others

Obama invokes ‘state secrets’ claim to dismiss suit against targeting of U.S. citizen al-Aulaqi

When i first read about this, i was outraged! I thought that we had taken one of our own citizens and just decided to execute them without reason, without a trial, without a chance of self-defense. But when i read the original article (linked above), there were some things that caught my eye. First was the link to a previous story, giving a bit more history about al-Aulaqi and why he was put on the — second thing that caught my eye — capture-or-kill list. The operative words are CAPTURE or KILL. This means that he’s not being executed or assassinated, he’s a wanted man. I make the connection between this and the posters from the Old West, “WANTED: Dead or Alive”.

I can see how people might be upset that we’re going after one of our own citizens, but if that citizen has blatantly turned his back on our country and everything it stands for (good and bad), and is openly trying to harm it. I don’t see why we have to extend a hand and say, “Come back, we’ll give you a trial in our extremely flawed and overly complicated legal system”. We will either capture you and treat you as an enemy of the state, or if it comes down to it, we won’t hesitate to kill you. This doesn’t mean though that we’re just going to shoot you when we see you.

If this guy is actually a cleric, and not really a terrorist like the mounds of evidence seem to show, then he should turn himself over.

Things and stuff and happenings

Last night I went to see The National play in Louisville. The show was great! What really impressed me the most was their special guest, Owen Pallett. What he can do with a violin, and a mixer is pretty awesome. After his show, I went and got two of his albums. I’ve been listening to them since then! I should be uploading pictures soon.

Things I’ve been collecting over the last week. Posts that I thought were pretty interesting — to me anyway.

Building the Wall
I remember going to the Vietnam Memorial while we lived in Maryland — about 15 years ago. I don’t think it really meant anything to me, I just thought it was cool to see so many names on a shiny black wall. I think if I were to go now it would mean a whole lot more — after having served in the military.

4chan takes on the MPAA
So after hiring a company to DDoS bittorrent trackers who wouldn’t comply with their requests to take down certain material, 4chan had planned to DDoS the hired company. Well it seems that someone beat them to the punch. So what do the hordes of Anon at do? Go after the MPAA itself! It only took 8 minutes for them to take the site down. It made me lul.

From single-core to quad-core in less than a year
Multi-core phones would be amazing! That, coupled with the concept phone by Mozilla (linked below), would probably be enough for most people — who just surf the web, check email, and play Farmville.

Nifty Artwork
I think the fact that I’ve been watching Mad Men like a.. well.. mad man lately attracted me to this page. I want a suit like Don Draper.

Obama talks about taxes and strengthening the economy
While i don’t agree with everything this administration is doing / has done, I do think that taxing people more evenly would make things simpler and help bridge gaps between social groups. I’d like to see a day when we all pay the same amount in taxes, instead of this confusing system of earned and unearned income, capital earnings, donations to charities, etc. How about we all just pay 15 or 20 percent of our income? I think that would make things much easier, not just in terms of administrating and collecting, but also planning for what you’ve got to pay. But of course, a simple idea like this would probably just get screwed up by the government. It’s sad we can’t trust them to do something simple.

Paul Lekakis – Boom Boom
I lol’d at this, thanks Katie.

Wind Power!
Let’s see who else will pony up the big bucks and commit to something of this size? Or would there be more protests that a wind farm 20 miles off shore would disrupt the scenery?

Old People know stuff, kinda
I watched this video of Walter Breuning talking about his life, and what advice he has for the current generation. You’ll have to watch what he says though, some things are exaggerated a little. It’s still really neat to hear first hand accounts of times so long ago from someone who actually lived them!

Community Wi-Fi?
While the speeds are slow compared to N, the range is so much better. I could see community Wi-Fi or Municipal WiFi using this technology.

Phone of the future!?
How great would it be if your phone became the end-all-be-all tool you’d use? Instead of having to have a laptop, a phone, a projector, a watch, and a list of other gadgets, you could have one piece of technology to take many of those items and consolidate them into one. The big thing that really appeals to me is being able to carry your information in “physical” form around with you, instead of having to rely on some sort of “cloud” storage. With newer phones now also being multi-core, a phone like the Seabird would have more than enough power to handle web browsing, email, watching online videos, along with most office type applications.

Full Moon Beer
This sounds interesting. Being a lover of beer, I would definitely try it at least once.

I love fall weather
I think it’s the colors and lower temperatures. I can’t wait to get a motorcycle (something like this or this) and be able to ride around in this weather.

oh.. and this:

and this:

Things of the day

Happy Birfday Supah Mario Brudders! — is it weird that this makes me feel kinda old? I used to love playing Mario Bros on the NES, i never beat it or really got that far in it, but i just like the music and jumping on koopa troopahs. (I know this is from yesterday, I started this blog then, and it’s stretched over a day or so :P)

Indestructible 3-ring Binder — this looks like something a post-apocalyptic bean counter would carry around with him.

Don’t want to shed out 500 bucks for MS Project? Try Gantt Project. — something an old coworker and i were talking about brought me across this. He was saying that often times he was working from home after work to get things done. Besides adding extra stress to your life, after you’re off shift, you shouldn’t have to put in extra hours (especially if you’re not being paid for them). Being able to give management a project plan, detailing what tasks need to be done, how long they’ll take, and when the estimated completion date is, should allow him to have more time at home NOT being a slave to the man 😉

About time the US started really upgrading it’s network infrastructure. — I was astounded when i read the number ‘1Gbps’! That’s how fast my local network at home is. I could only imagine having that kind of speed for the internet! Not only would that let me do more things with my server(s), but download speeds and gaming would be so faaaaaaaaaast!

Pandas love to party! — it’s true. they love teh cakes. but they don’t quite move-it-move-it

I love this house! — I love it when people incorporate their environment into their home-building.

The database nerd in me likes reading about stuff like this 🙂 — I always find it amazing when you can aggregate and search data efficiently. Especially when you’re talking about the amount and size that Google has to deal with.

This is old, but I still find it funny 😛 — I think it’s a combination of people not knowing how to use computers, and then believing everything they read on the internets.

New MC Frontalot.

As I’ve said before, I love technology. This of course means that I spend a lot of time in front of my computer. Sometimes I have doubts about whether I could be doing something to take better care of my health, since I know sitting for extended periods of time is not advised. I found a website, kratommasters.com, which talks about eating healthy, staying healthy, and the health supplement they sell for that purpose. After researching a bit I was willing to try it, so I ordered it. It really has helped me a lot with my day to day energy levels and I’m really glad I discovered it.

Last but not least, Happy Birthday to my dad! If you’re friends with him on Facebook, go wish him a happy B-Day 🙂

A run around the Internet

I’ve been perusing the internet today, while waiting on RM stuff to get done and I’ve found some pretty neat things. In no particular order:

Woven Steel Wallet!
I think the idea is neat and it supposedly blocks RFID from being read. But at 75 bucks, I think it’s a bit pricey.

The United States of Inequality
To be honest, I didn’t read the entire article, mainly because it’s quite long, but from what I read I thought it was an interesting take on the traditional thoughts on what economists call, “The Great Divergence”. Even though everyone seems to be blaming the government for something (legitimate complaints or not) this seems to take data gathered over multiple administrations and comes up with a rather interesting hypothesis.

Tractor Beams are becoming REAL!
It’s the nerd in me that finds this awesome. How awesome would it be to fire a beam at something and it moves toward you!? Granted the technology is nowhere near fruition, but the idea that there’s a possibility of it being a reality is awesome.

Pictures I think are neato. Nuff said.

Detroit is not dead.
I found this rather refreshing. A look at what people are doing in Detroit to rebuild and reclaim, even though the rest of the world seems to think the city is dead.

TFS Builds and Build Servers for TFS 2008

It seems that a lot of companies have become a fan of virtualization. I can understand why. Instead of having 5 single machines — and as such 5 sets of hardware — all doing one task, you can have one machine run 5 virtual servers running their one task. It saves space, power consumption, and in the end money.

There’s a problem though. If those servers are chugging along doing their thing and needing to utilize CPU cycles or I/O to hardware, things slow down. A lot. We’ve run into this issue lately since we’ve started doing a lot of parallel development — developing on multiple projects that are releasing at different times on the same product. We have code check-ins happening at all times of the day — we also have an offshore team hard at work — and as such we have continuous replication builds firing off all the time as well. If multiple products or projects are being worked on, then all those builds queue up, which normally isn’t a problem. It’s once we need to move a product to another environment (ie: Integration Testing) that things become evident that there is a problem. Once we start a build which also stages files on a different server (but happens to just be another virtual on the same physical machine) everything creeps to a halt. Coupled with other builds trying to run while large amounts of files are being transfered from one virtual to another things get even slower.

Solution time. To help take the load off the Dev environment server, we thought of getting setting up a new build server on its own physical machine. Makes total sense. But we’d have to go through all the bureaucracy of getting approved hardware, putting in requests, blah blah blah. Developers don’t have time for that kind of thing! So we thought about what we could do, and it struck us! Why not use our own machines? Release management has three members in it, that could be three extra build machines!

So I used myself as a Guinea pig and installed the build service on my machine. I configured it and with a few minor tweaks was able to get builds running on my machine without too much impact on performance. Since then, we’ve planned to take our workstations and dedicate them to one product each. This way we can have 3 CI (Continuous Integration) builds running at a time. We’re still planning on keeping the staging builds local until we get all issues ironed out — because I’m sure there will be issues that will come up.

So far, so good though. Everything seems to be running well, and our Integration Testing push times have been cut in half.

Links to pages i used:
How to: Set up and Install Team Foundation Build (for TFS 2008)
How to: Add the Build Service Account to the Build Services Security Group
How to: Create and Manage Build Agents

Some notes:

  • If you have existing builds that use special build properties (ie: use VB6 to compile an executable) make sure that VB6 is in the same location on all build machines that will be used for such builds.
  • If your initial build server has special properties for MSBuild, make sure you copy the MSBuild directory to your build machines. This will help with issues due to certain Imports not being available.


I’m not sure what’s happened to me in the last few months. Actually, that’s a lie. I do know. But I’m not really comfortable talking about it in the open. Short version is, I was kind of depressed. But I think I’m getting better, I’m starting to be interested in things again. I have desires to go out and do stuff, instead of just moping around the house and going to go get shit faced on the weekends.

Yay me!

Ok, so, now for some updates as to what I’ve been doing. About a month ago I started P90X, which is a pretty intense workout program. Since then I’ve slacked off, since I’ve also picked up Judo on Monday’s and Friday’s. I’ve been going with some friends, and it’s quite enjoyable (besides the conditioning portion of the lessons, that’s always quite.. exhausting). So, right now I’m only exercising twice a week. I’d like to get that back to at least 3 times a week. I think we’re (the friends I’m doing Judo with) going to try and do something on Wednesdays. Maybe Yoga, or some sort of stretch routine.

I’ve been pretty busy with work too. This weekend will be the second weekend in a row where i have to work on saturday, and the third weekend this month. It’s not too bad because i get days comped, but it does suck that i can’t sleep in on Saturday 😛 This Saturday will be extra strenuous. We’re doing our scheduled monthly release, which means i get to be at work at 3am and work until everything (our software) is out in production. I should be home sometime between 9am and 10am. So that means i’ll have a few hours to sleep before Brew at the Zoo! I’m sure we’ll all have a blast 😀

After a 3-ish month hiatus I’m playing Eve again. I always come crawling back 😛 I’m taking it slow this time, only playing for an hour or so a few days a week. But it’s fun to talk to all my old friends, even that crazy nut borked 😉

I also have plans to work on my car again. I think next up will be the valve cover gasket and VANOS. That’s going to be a weekend project I think, and the next few weekends don’t look like i’ll have enough time to do it. I also have to find a fairly inexpensive VANOS (maybe from DrVANOS?).

Either way, I think I’ll be busy-busy for the next few weeks. And it feels pretty good.

funny fings i’f found on dah intarwebs

Entertaining and funny stuff

break dancin’ kitteh

my car is a canoe!

attack of the ROFLCopters!

popup kitteh

lol priest

lookin’ for wild womens

step away from windows XP


Less funny, more interesting or cool

Ok, something i found that’s not really funny. Just really awing. I mean, i don’t consider myself rich. But in the big picture, maybe i am?
How rich are you?

Also.. We have tons of nukes out there. Kinda scary. What’s scarier, is thinking about how many are unaccounted for?
Just how many nukes does the US have?

I wish i could do cool shit like this.

your lack of faith disturbs me

i’m not really sure what happened. I used to post all the time. now it’s very intermittent. maybe it’s because i feel that i don’t have anything to write about. but now i do 🙂

I bought my ticket for Virginia today. I’ll be visiting Virginia over Memorial Day weekend, and it will be an awesome weekend.

Other than that, really nothing has been going on. I go to work, i come home, i do random things on the computer or in front of the TV, or in the yard, and then i go to sleep.

Right now i don’t think i’m in the right state of mind to keep going, as there’s some Kraken in me.

Employer-Employee relations

While I might still be a youngster when it comes to working in the corporate world or knowing how management and employees are supposed to interact, I still think common sense should apply. An employee is expected to perform certain tasks for pay. When asked to take on extra responsibilities the employee is within his or her rights to ask for more pay. If more pay is agreed upon, the employer is then ethically obligated to fulfill their end of the bargain. Not doing so does more than just upset the employee, it sows the seeds of mistrust and resentment.

When you need services that can provide the best cost for Botox injections and treatments online, check out cosmetic surgery specialist offering Botox in Houston.

Having an employer that follows through with what they promise typically has happier employees who would do more for the company than one where the employer constantly breaks promises.

Employees who work for a company who doesn’t value them, or treat them with respect and dignity also won’t recommend the company to others. If everyone knows that a certain business has shady practices and often abuses it’s privileges, soon that company won’t have any customers or referrals from employees.

It just makes sense to me if management makes promises to an employee, such as a raise. They should keep that promise, especially if that employee has taken on the extra responsibilities for which the raise was promised.

Lying to employees only breeds disgruntled employees. And we all know that’s not a healthy work environment.

As a note for anyone concerned, this has nothing to do with my current employer. Where I work people are treated with respect and decency. I wish every place could be this awesome.