25 Apr 2000 jmm   » (Journeyer)

Been a few days...

Easter weekend was pretty fun, actually. Saturday spent mostly with a concrete mixer filling in a growing sinkhole forming under the driveway of my in-laws' neighbor's house. Learned very quickly that concrete dust that spews up while dumping an 80 lb bag into the mixer not only makes breathing difficult, but it tastes crappy too! Yum!

Since we had a few bags of concrete left over (total for the day was 21 bags, 80lb of concrete each - before water :), we made the remaining concrete and filled in a huge pothole in the street. The people around Fayetteville can be bad drivers, though, so we put up a couple of sawhorses around it to protect things. Amazingly enough, the sawhorses (and filled-in pothole) remained intact through to the next morning (long enough to get it 90% set, which is all I really cared about)

My reward for all this manual labor (a nice reminder for why I keep going to school... more degrees == less chance of physical work, right? Right? Hellllllo??? Bueller?) was helping cook vat-o-s'ghetti, grilling hot dogs, and torching dozens of innocent marshmallows in an attempt to make the World's Most Perfect Smore (tm). Weather was cooperating, at least, which was good (wet marshmallows can make for really crappy Smores.

Sunday spent hitting the parents' place. Swapped their USR 28.8 for a Viking v90 WinModem (shudder) and noticed that everything seemed happy with the swap except their FreeInternet.com setup that seemed to still be looking for the old modem. I'll reinstall next time I'm down... they've still got working Juno and NetZero, which is all that matters much since they both have barely-firewalled connections at work.

Monday (yesterday) was all about trying to resurrect the trace tool (I'll insert a link as soon as I get things documented enough to put up a decent page... I swear! :) and get some tracing done at work for the SpecWeb set-up. It looks like we might skip the back-end database stuff (which we'll get a better picture of from TPC-W anyway) and simply trace the IBM HTTP Server ("Very Slightly Hacked Apache") load. I haven't gotten to play with the server much since my 2.3.x attempts of getting good performance out of the dual-PIII Netfinity 4000R (two processors, 1U of space, before Penguin or anyone else :)

I'm considering redoing large chunks of the trace tool software set using python. I've been going through the python tutorial and it would certainly make an easier language for maintaining these things. I'm still a little upset at Texas Memory Systems at the moment. We get our new 200MB/sec setup (64-bit PCI card combined with the TXL200 card to go into the SAM unit... the two cards are connected by 4 strands (2 pair) of multi-mode fiber), and they still don't support sending basic commands over the interface (what a waste).

FWIW, not being able to send those basic commands is a pain mainly because it forces me to do the port initializations, transfer commands, and data transfer wait's (need to block on the trace finishing before reading the data out) over a crappier interface. Currently, it's a serial line that runs to the SAM (ugh!). It used to be an ethernet run from the crappiest RS/6000 we could get our hands on, but whatever methods of flow control that was getting used (very strange UDP hack... why TCP wasn't used is beyond me) failed miserably. I might get stuck revisiting the issue and trying ethernet again, but RARP (only unpainful method to deal with the SAM) is still a little bit of a pain under Linux, it appears... ugh

On the bright side, the Charlotte Hornets won yesterday to even their first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers. This is a good thing, especially as it'd be nice to see the Hornets (hottest team at the end of the regular season, at least in the Eastern Conference) go deep into the playoffs for a change.

This morning was spent getting woken up by a call from the wife. She thought the car was on fire. Turns out it was a busted hose and the fluid (probably antifreeze, based on her description of the smoke) was just getting steamed on the engine. I'm sure the nice guys from the fire department (nope, I'm not kidding) must have liked that run. With the weather as crappy as it is (just enough drizzle to make you feel bad, not enough to warrant an actual umbrella), I'm sure they wanted to be somewhere else.

Now if this were Jessica's actual car, it wouldn't be a huge problem. Reality is, though, that this is Julie's car, her younger sister up in Asheville, who needed an automatic to drive since she lost the use of one knee while recovering from a skiing accident that tore up her MCL. It's a '91 Beretta that I've personally replaced 2 starters on just in the few weeks we've had it. To say it has issues is an understatement :) On the bright side, this will hopefully be a good opportunity to get Jessica test-driving a car. Her 92 Tempo is ok, but it's getting old and selling it before it hits 100k miles would be better than trying to get some cash for it afterwards. Anyone know of a place that rents the Nissan Maxima SE? That's the car I'd like to get. Decent price (despite the Edmund's review), nice acceleration, decent MPG, nice stereo, etc.

Anyway, enough useless chatter for now. Back to tracing and trying to track down a rental place that has a Maxima.

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