Monday, January 31, 2005

Why yes, I do intend to spend the next 60 hours watching TV

I'm a happy camper - my order finally arrived today! 17 DVDs worth of Babylon 5 - the movie collection, season one, and season two - 22 episodes per season, plus 5 movies, plus bonus features - that's a whole lotta sci-fi goodness to work through.

I still haven't had a chance to watch the extended edition of Return of the King, though - somehow watching Babylon 5 one episode at a time seems a lot easier to do than finding 3 or 4 hours to watch RotK in all it's Tolkien-y goodness. Not to mention that it's been so long since I've seen Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers (both extended editions as well), I feel like I should watch those first before diving into the final one.

And let's not even mention the appendices of the extended editions that I still haven't made it through...

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Surviving the week

Not a whole lot to say, other than that I have survived the week without noticable calamity. Biggest event of the week: I moved to a new desk at the office as part of my inter-departmental move (from development to systems). Not much else to report right now, but at least I'm trying to keep this blog updated regularly.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Still more fun

Today has not been fun. I think I got whatever hit Mari on Thursday night. Spent most of the day in bed or in the bathroom, but I think I'm over it now. When I stocked up on ginger ale and arrowroot cookies on Friday, I didn't think I would be the one needing them. Everyone else seems OK, except for Kolbjorn - he's puked once tonight, but that seems to be it so far.

Hopefully tonight won't be "interesting", aside from having my sleeping patterns completely screwed up by spending the better part of today sleeping.

Being sick sucks.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Oh what fun...

The last 48 hours have been... interesting.

Thursday afternoon - I have an optometrist appointment in Saskatoon (followup for my laser surgery), so Kristen, Mari, Kolbjorn and I pile into the van and head out. The roads are awful. I mean, highway 219 isn't exactly the finest highway in the world to begin with, and when you add freezing rain the night before and a heavy snowfall that morning, things happen. About 10 minutes from Saskatoon, we're meeting oncoming traffic, have to pull over a bit because the other guy is hugging the center line, right wheel starts digging into snowdrift, and we find ourselves heading into the ditch at around 50 or 60 kph.

The ditch is full of snow - probably two to three feet. I have a very distinct memory, as a wave of snow went over the windshield, of thinking "Wow, this is very reminiscent of a scene in The Empire Strikes Back, where Luke's X-Wing crashes on Dagobah and the water goes over his cockpit." Once a geek, always a geek, I guess.

The good thing about hitting the ditch with that much snow is that it's a surprisingly gentle experience. The bad thing about hitting the ditch with that much snow is that when you finally stop, there are still at least 6 inches of snow between the tires and the ground, which is a non-optimal situation as far as traction is concerned.

Calling Kia roadside assistance is an experience to be cherished. When asking for the location, the operator asked where the nearest major exit is. I just about laughed out loud at her, but seeing as she was my only hope of getting out of the ditch, I said we were a couple miles north of Beaver Creek. I have no idea if Beaver Creek has ever been referred to as a major exit before, or if it will be ever again.

The tow truck arrived about 25 minutes after I got off the phone with roadside assistance, got us out of the ditch in about 10 minutes, and we arrived at the optometrist about 45 minutes late. Fortunately, they were very understanding about the delay (I suspect especially since I called them as soon as I was done calling roadside assistance), and my appointment went just fine (20/20, optometrist says it's "perfect").

The highways on the way home that evening were even worse (average speed for most of the trip home was around 70kph), but we made it home without major incident. We stopped and lent our cell to someone who had just bought a van with a broken gas gauge - they were stuck pretty much in the middle of nowhere (although that seems to describe most of highway 219), and they only had a Rogers cell (which has pretty much zero coverage on the 219). When I pulled over to help them, I managed to get stuck in deep snow and had to get them to help push us out. Guess that makes it a fair trade.

We finally got home to Outlook, and I declared that we would all go to bed at a decent time because we were all tired and needed sleep. Surprisingly enough, we did all get to bed at a decent time. However, at about 1:30am, Mari came into our room and announced that she had thrown up all over the bed. Mari had also consumed some brightly coloured candy popcorn that evening, so it was a very Technicolor experience. Poor kid continued to puke about every hour or two for the rest of the night and into mid-morning before she started feeling better. Nobody got any decent sleep last night.

I got into work this morning to discover a small storm had begun brewing about 15 minutes after I had left for Saskatoon yesterday, with 20 e-mails and a couple voice mail messages, so most of my day was spent dealing with that.

Mari is feeling like herself today. We've got a good supply of ginger ale, Arrowroot cookies, and Pepto-Bismol now, and our washing machine has been pretty busy since 2am. Things at work are pretty much under control again. We had a pajama party with the whole family after supper tonight - we all crawled into our bed, put "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" into the VCR, and relaxed.

Life is good, even when it gets a little too "interesting".

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Maybe she just needed a little makeup...

I'm not sure if it's intentional or not, but this is a pretty funny headline.

Monday, January 17, 2005

WARNING: Nerding out

OK, I've been dreaming for a while about building a new desktop system. My current desktop system is feeling a little bit creaky... 500 MHz ain't what it used to be. However, my budget doesn't look like it'll have room for upgrades any time soon, and I'd rather do one big project than a bunch of incremental upgrades.

It occurred to me that I should post my ideas here, see what others think about them. I'm a "do-it-yourself"-er when it comes to computers, so here's my parts shopping list:
  • CPU: Probably an AMD Athlon 64, socket 939. Performance rating will most likely depend on when I buy it - right now, the 3200+ feels like the right price/performance ratio for me.
  • Motherboard: Socket 939 (obviously), PCI Express, on-board SATA is a must, and RAID would be a big plus, USB 2.0 and Firewire. Not sure about chipsets, but the new NForce4 chipset is getting good reviews, and the SLI option for video cards is intriguing to say the least. The ASUS A8N-SLI is my current candidate, but the Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI looks promising as well.
  • Video: depends on the motherboard. I've been an Nvidia fan for a while, but the newer ATI PCI-E boards are pretty cool. Of course, if I go for an SLI capable motherboard, that pretty much puts me back in the Nvidia camp. No favorites as of yet. Dual monitor output would be nice, as would DVI. As for the monitor, not sure if I'll be able to afford to make the jump to LCD - especially since I'm a hi-res junkie, and LCDs that have a native resolution of 1600x1200 or higher are a serious jump in price from the normal 1280x1024 units.
  • Audio: No on-board audio for me, no sir. I was about to say that my candidate is the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro (who the heck comes up with these stupid long names anyhow?), but then I saw the Audigy 4 Pro on - guess it'll come down to whichever is cheapest. Really looking for good digital inputs and full-size MIDI connectors for my music-making - the fact that it'll make games sound really cool is simply a bonus. Speaker-wise, probably a simple 5.1 system without too many bells and whistles - anything less feels like a waste of the Audigy's capabilities, but not sure I can justify anything fancier.
  • Chassis: OK, here's where I have a tendency to go a little bit nuts. I'm torn between something solid with a little bit of flash, like the Coolermaster Wavemaster or a Silverstone Temjin series, and something that's just plain outrageous, like the ASUS Vento or a Aerocool JetMaster. Whatever the choice, I'm going to try to make it as quiet as possible, with a quiet CPU cooler, larger intake/exhaust fans (larger fans == slower RPM for same airflow == less noise) and a quiet power supply.
  • Memory/Storage: minimum 1 GB of RAM, and a big SATA hard drive (or multiple drives, if the motherboard supports RAID). DVD burner will most likely be there as well. The eternal question of backup rears its ugly head here - do I invest in some sort of tape system, or do I rely on backing up essential data occasionally on one or more DVDs? Probably a tape system will be too pricey for my budget, and probably a bit of overkill.
  • Operating system: Most likely at least dual-boot - XP Pro and some Linux distro at a minimum, maybe a few different distros to choose from, and if I'm feeling really crazy (and have the hard drive space to spare) a BSD or two and BeOS.
I have a feeling that I'm going to spend more on the chassis and related components than I will on any other single component... well, maybe not - that Audigy isn't exactly cheap, and the video card probably won't be an entry-level model either... who am I kidding, I've got expensive taste when it comes to computers.

This would become my primary system - the old system would be repurposed (Linux server maybe), and the laptop would be for Kristen and the kids. Although, I am seriously tempted by the new Mac Mini - but I'm not ready to make the switch yet, it would be a co-existence with my current systems.

And then reality hits me over the head - I've got three kids and one more on the way, a mortgage, minivan payments... when the heck am I going to be able to afford to do any of this, and when will I find time to actually use it? Oh well, it's nice to dream...