Older blog entries for Bryce (starting at number 913)

24 Oct 2002 (updated 24 Oct 2002 at 03:24 UTC) »


Ordered up the case for the P4 and while I was at it I ordered up these rather nifty looking drive caddies. (Heck I've splashed out on a decent machine, I might as well as make it presentable 8)

Finally, the bank has shoved all the cheques I sent over 2 weeks ago back into the account. I dread that I've an overpayment of $320 from the car repayments thats winging it's way over here that I'm going to have to send back to be cashed at the bank. US banks obviously are overly happy to electronically deduct from your account but either charge a whopping fortune or don't have the ability to reverse an incorrect transfer. Sometimes I think the whole US economy is hidden in the US post.

Got my phone bill from BT,.. 100 UKP *groan* Hopefully this isn't an omen of worse to come.

Nipped down the road to get a soundcard and modem for Rosemary's home computer at PC World. After having my second close study of the store, I did finally find a copy of RHAT 8.0 lurking on a shelf for a meer 168 UKP (profesional edition) oddly *just* cheaper than microsoft's XP home edition. Anyway the HW choice was rather limited so just picked up a 4.1 soundcard and a zoom V.92 modem and headed on home through the deluge of rain.

Popped online to discover that ZenIIIb had almost run out of disk space. Bugger. So much for sorting out the new kernel for ZenII today.

Later on poped over to Rosemary's place and retired the old ISA winmodem card and the ISA soundcard with the nice shiney 4.1 PCI soundcard which went on straightforwardly. Had a minor complication in that the Internet Explorer that was on the machine was bust and wouldn't run so left that downloading and installed IE6 to get around that problem. Anyway Rosemary is happy that the machine now 'just works'. No special fiddling, it just does what it's meant to, and you can't really ask for much more than that.

Back home checked up in the progress of various orders and sorted out the diary. I shouldn't leave it a week at a time.


Still raining,. no change there.

My motherboard, memory and CPU turned up today. The motherboard is wonderful it's got everything and a *spare* kitchen sink. Actually the board is rather colourful and a lot more featured than I'd expected with connectors for smart card readers, memory stick readers and secure data memory readers. If I could find the hardware I'd probably use them. The SPDIF/RCA/5.1 audio is a bit of a bonus. all in all a very nice board

Had fun trying to get the heatsink attached to the board. It was kinda tight but it's fixed nice and snuggly now. I was tempted to try and get some silver thermal compound but the Intel docs sugested that the thermal tape supplied was the best item to use. I'm still temped to get the silver thermal compound though.

Spent most of the morning/afternoon just tinkering with module code and iddly musing over what size case I should use with the board. I didn't order a case with the original order becaus I wanted to have a feel for what physical restrictions the CPU would make. Based on it's positioning and height, I think I can get away with a midi sized case rather than having to go all the way for a full tower.

Popped over to Rosmary's place to finish out the fixup of her machine only to discover that the soundcard was ancient and did not have Win2K drivers for it. Bugger. Also the internal modem was a win modem that appears to have fried probably through a lightning strike. Disaster. Couldn't do diddly squat. I felt a right chump as I should have spotted that right off yesterday. I probably would have had I not been yakking away trying to catch up with the local events over the last few years. Oh well 8/. Explained to John and Rosemary what was wrong and why it wouldn't work. Told them I'd nip out tomorrow and get replacement equipment to sort it all out.

Back home watched with a little pride/satisfaction as ZenII passed it's first uptime birthday
12:14am up 365 days, 0 min, 60 users, load average: 0.28, 0.28, 0.54

Now I guess we'll sort out an updated kernel for it since it's been running the 2.2 kernel I modified last year. Rmk and myself are wondering if the machine will successfully reboot after being up for so long and what mysterious anomolies will pop up after rebooting. It'll take us a couple of days to agree on a decent 2.4 kernel and options. Fun fun fun.


Had to call up and hassled the credit card company to lift the block they'd placed against my CPU/Motherboard/memory order. Took ages to get through their not so intuative automated call referal system. Anyway, got that sorted and Dabs have procesed the order. Thankfully they even had the motherboard already restocked so I shouldn't have to wait 3 days for restocking. Excellent.

At the same time also finished ordering up a nice multi region/region free/RCE/RCA/macovision free DVD player that could also do NTSC/PAL conversion internaly that was the very all important... BLACK. I cannot stress how annoyed I was that no one was selling black DVD players. Worse I had to buy it from the US in the end, not locally. So much for the local economy. Oh well, obviously I don't represent the DVD player market.

Popped into town to get some magazines and messages. I dunno why, but the town feels slightly run down, despite being one of the big commercial trade centres being on the router between Belfast and Dublin. I think Newry could do with a mini army of traffic wardens actually but thats just a personal observation.

Remembered to call up BT and ask about broadband access on the new number that I'd gotten installed last week. Bugger,.. dispite the website from claiming I should be able to get it, I can't 8/
All my personal bias aside, I have to say BT have been doing a rather poor job of rolling out broadband across the country. Thats what we get for privitizing a government asset as a state blessed monopoly. OFTEL who are suposed to oversee BT's monopolistic practives seems to be highly ineffectual (Did a good bit of digging around in the public records).

Remembered I was supposed to trip over to Rosmary's place and sort out her networking problems on her laptop and home computer. In the end I only got done with the laptop and briefly started into the desktop only to discover that I needed driver disks which naturally weren't available. Made a note of the hardware/model numbers for to look it up at home and grab the correct installation software for tomorrow. Got sidetracked into chatting about the wedding and all the catching up of what had been going on ever since I'd been in the US.


Rain,.. and lots of it.
Turned over and went back to sleep.

Made an effort to wake up by 13:00. Still raining. Some flooding on the road so we're cut off from the main road for the meantime.

Did a little aggressive cleaning out of a few drawers in an effort to increase what little space I have in the bedroom. Some success but I'm at saturation point. I just don't think I can make any more room available.

Went out to the Harvest service at the local church. Stayed behind to have a chat with Keith, and watch the presentations. Noted that the congregation was disturbingly heavily biased in the over 50's. I guess the younger generation (I include myself in that catagory, thank you) just aren't intrested in the church anymore.

Headed on over the Border into Eire with Keith to take advantage of the price differanceof the cost of petrol between the Irish and British government tax regimes. Hellishly wet (later on found out it had been the largest downpour on the last 15 years). Had a quick drive around Dundalk to see what was opened or had changed (quite a lot actually) in the last while, then Keith drove back across the border and left me back home. Gave Keith a number of magzines and tips for his computing work at school. While I was at it checked his phone number for broadband access,.. typical,.. he can get a 2Mbit link but think he dosn't need it. Oddly though the new phone number I have has popped up as being capable of recieving 256K broadband. I suspect this is some cruel ploy on the part of BT to frustrate me but we'll see. I'll ring them up tomorrow about it.


Humm rather wet and windy today. Guess I won't be walking around any parks.

I'm getting worried that the cheques I sent in over a week ago to the Wachovia still haven't been recognized in my account. I hope they didn't get lost.

Went window shopping in town but didn't see anything of particular intrest. Worse, still couldn't find a suitable DVD player. Not a single electrical/hifi shop sold them in black.

Went home and looked around on the web for ages before settling on a Sampo 612 DVD player that was capable of PAL/NTSC internal conversion and was region free/setable with the added bonus of being macrovision disabled, however, the important item was that it is BLACK. Ordered it up. It should arrive in about a weeks time.

Still rainning. read some magazines I'd bought in Newry to while away the evening.

24 Oct 2002 (updated 24 Oct 2002 at 03:18 UTC) »


Rain,... no walks around the countryside for me then.

BT engineer that does underground cabling came out and rerouted a spare set of wires to the new phoneline so I now have a working phone (hurrah). Overall I'll give the engineers 9 out of 10 and the beurocrats in the office 6 out of 10 for service as the phone was registered in my mothers name, not mine, was NOT ex-directory like I requested. Fortunately it does arrive as a seperate bill from mum's phone line so that should all work out once I flay some front line customer service oik to get it corrected.

Now begins the task of trying to find a suitable flat rate mechanism to get internet access. BT recently killed off their original flat rate access which was true 24/7 and replaced it with a stingy 150 hours a month maximum which doesn't even cover home use if you did a 40 hour week online to the office (160 hours a month, never mind the extra hours you would probably have to put in). I'm grossly unimpressed with BT. They've had several decades to modernise the draconian pay schemes they impose on the public. Very disappointed.

Time I had a decent desktop machine to work on Ordered up a P4 2.8GHz and 512Mb memory along with a suitable motherboard, although they didn't have the motherboard in stock but it had a 3 day delay in getting it restocked so that seemed reasonable. I'll wait to see the profile of the components when assembled to work out what case to get.

Later on got email to say the credit card company had stopped the purchase fo some reason. Probably because it was a UK purchase and I'd used the US credit card. Unfortunately Dabs had closed up for the weekend and wern't open again until Monday. Bugger.


BT engineer actually arrived about 10 minutes before the end of the period I was expecting him.

Sorted out the site for the presentation of the line in the house and gave him a hand with laying the cable through the roofspace to decend into my room. Much fun shifting odds and ends out of the way in the attic to lift up the floorboards. Finally after about 2 hours everything was done and he vanished to go connect up the wiring in the junction box. Unfortunately he came back to tell me that all the wires for the route up the road to the house were used and that he'd have to get another engineer out tomorrow to divert a line from another route to get it finished off. <cry>

Didn't do much else today,.. just watched some TV


Went for a walk around Lurgan park which was nice. Seems to be infested with grey squirrels everywhere. Technically they are vermin but silly soft hearted people seem to think they're cute and encourage them to run riot around the park. I'd have prefered to have seen the rather declining native red squirels but it seems the grey vermin have usurped them.

Lurgan park was a bit of a short walk so ended up detouring around to the Craigavon balance lakes for some extra walking. It's ok,.. but a bit bleak out there. Least it was sunny even if it wasn't terribly warm. Humm one thing though,.. people tend to let their dogs off the leash around there. As the dogs come bounding up to you the owner invariabley states 'oh don't worry, he'll not touch you' at which point the dog happily jumps up on you, slobbers over your trousers and seems expect a treat. There is a small personal hell for these types of people and their dogs that I'll be sending them to in the afterlife. <grumble>

*sigh* my back has gotten all sore again,.. nothing like as bad as when I was in the few days before leaving the US but damned uncomfortable. It should clear up in a few days I think.


Stayed at home and played chess against the computer rather a frivilous task and I got beat each and every time. No surprise there. I was hoping it would become a little less disheartening than checkmate in less than 5 moves.

Watched some anime videos.

Rather a quiet day.

15 Oct 2002 (updated 15 Oct 2002 at 13:43 UTC) »


It's a reasonably dry day, so set out for Castlewellen to go wandering around the castle lake. It's a nice nature trail with some rather daft sculptures strewn around the walk.

Castlewellen forest park is currently boasting about it's new hedge maze as being the largest in Europe so mum and myself went to have a look and a dander through it. Well, at the moment, the hedge is trying to grow and seems to consist of only yew trees. I'm sure when it's got maybe 5 or 6 years growth in it it'll be very nice. There is an 'incentive' to the maze which is to work your way to the centre and ring the bell. Umm yes well... solved the maze and gave the bell a ring. 2 wrong turns. Not bad.

Nipped into Newry to run a few messages and sign for a couple of items. Bought a couple of magazines covering linux, digital photograpgy, financials and home theatre equipment (specifaly DVD players). Actually come to think of it, my DVD order hasn't arrived yet 8/ I better poke the appropriate people about that.

*Sigh* Another two days to go before the BT engineer appears and installs a 2nd line. I'm betting that he'll find some excuse that he can't even do that.

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