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The Strangest Problem Ever

Yesterday, I went to Creighton’s, got my comuter working, then watched the Passion of the Chirst with Scott, who went home today. The movie was extremely well done and is the first movie of this type that I’ve seen that doens’t back away from the violence involved at all. I didn’t sense anti-semitism. I handled it alright, and thinking about it, I think I may want to see it again.

Today, it was a relatively busy Sunday – Missed some church, but made it in eventually. I dressed up a little more than usual. Next, i went to a LAN party at Tim’s to try out the new computer. It worked well. Then I helped out with the “Behold the Man” Production at my church. Then I returned home to play some CS and found the performance of my machine significantly downgraded. I thought maybe I got a virus at the lan party. So i reinstalled from scratch since I didn’t have much time invested into the computer yet. But that didn’t’ solve the problem. I checked for overheating, for loose cards, etc. But its even stranger. The problem is that whenever my mouse is plugged into my USB hub, the computer takes about 70% of its cycles when i move the mouse. If I move the mouse to any other USB port, no CPU cycles are consumed. Its extremely confusing – I’ve never heard of this happening before. If you have, let me know!

School starts again tomorrow, and I’m up way too late already, especially since I still need to by books. But first, some CS with a framerate that doesn’t drop below 99.9 even with smoke grenades…

The Grand Plan

Inspiration hit me today while doing the final “Behold the Man” Church Easter program rehearsal. It had very little to do with the program (except, perhaps, for the laptops we are using to run the multimedia presentation). But here the plan is:

1. Get the new computer up and running (It also needs a name)
2. Transfer silverfir.net from sf2 (500 MHz PIII) to oasis (600 MHz Athlon)
3. Load Windows onto sf2 for Mom
4. Reclaim Mobius (Athlon XP-M 2400+) for myself
5. Have Mobius repaired at Fry’s per the extended protection plan I got (serial port and power supply connection)
6. Transfer Kleinoscope (P4 2.8 GHz) to Dad ($1300-$1600 value)
7. Get Horatio (IBM THinkpad PII 300) from Dad once transition is complete ($100-$300 value)
8. Get Saturn from Dad once he gets a new vehicle ($1000-$1300 value)
9. Turn Horatio into a Linux machine (Rename to Blackbrick II?)

Thats the grand plan. It would leave me with:
-New computer (yet to be named, but I just thought of “Kleidoscope,” since it is colorful)
-Mobius as my laptop (comlete with serial port for programming, which Kleinoscope lacks)
-oasis as SilverFir.net
-BlackBrickII for Wardriving and Linux fun
-A car with a radio that gets 40 mpg instead of a truck that gets 10 mpg with no radio

My Dad’s computer is significantly upgraded, so he should be happy

My mom likes the laptop, but she never bought it, so I still can claim ownership. And I’ll be getting her a nice computer to use. And I’ll be paying for my own gas, which should make it worthwhile to her.

Now, the problem is the first two steps which will make all the other steps possible.

Not the Proc, the MoBo!

Well, the computer thing is certainly taking its time. I went back to Harddrives Northwest to get a new processor and ended up leaving with a new processor and a new mother board. I got things installed, took my time figuring out some things (like the fact that the radeon requires its own power connector), and made it more quickly through the things I figured out yesterday. I fianlly got the system up al the way to the point that it can boot. In fact, it has booted windows xp installer, but now I have just learned that I’ll need to install a Flppy to get my RAID disks running under Windows. Thats pretty annoying, you would think that they could actaully get some sort of abstration going on, but no, we need low level drivers for everything. So I’m going to working on this project for a few more days if I don’t just give up and return it all sometime next week. It all depends on my luk getting my two 80 gb hard drives wroking together in RAID mode 1, striving for additional disk bandwidth. It should be good. Not I’m practically falling asleeo here so its time for me to go

Maybe a bad proc

Today I bought a new computer. I got a snazzy case, an ASUS P4P800 Deluxe MoBo, and P4 2.8 GHz Extreme Edition (1 Mb Cache) and a gig of PC3200 (DDR400) RAM. But it doesn’t work. And I think its the processor. The reason I think this is that, without the processor installed, the mother bord tells me “No CPU. System Failed CPU Test. No CPU. System failed CPU test,” which is exactly what it is supposed to do. However, when the processor is properly installed with the incredibly-hard-to-maneuver heatsink/fan combo, the system start up, says nothing, and then begins the terrible two-tone warning beep, which continues indefinitely until I power off. I left everything else (except hard drives and cd drives and front-of-case USB ports plugged in, so I’m pretty sure the problem is with the processor.

ITs really late and I have one more day of 7:00am work, so I must be to sleep now.

The computer

I’ve started intensive research into the new computer – it looks like it is the first project that will get completed. I’ve tenatively decided to stay away from the 64 bit offerings until the market there stabilizes and prices come down. So I’m looking at a Barton Core Athlon XP 3200+ and a MoBo with an Nvidia Nforce2 Ultra 400 or Via KT880 chipset, dual channel PC 3200 DDR DIMMS (probally 2x512Mb), a nice looking case and a sturdy power fupply. I’m probally going to throw in an ATA controller as well so I don’t have to pick and choose among my hard drives, dvd roms, cd burners, etc.

I need to get to sleep earlier if I am to be productive at work. Its a good job. They seem to like the work I’ve been doing so far. Tomorrow I’m leaving early to do more work on Tim’s robot, then its off to a Beth’s birthday party. Thursday, Bobby, Creighton, and I are going computer buying, then, presumably, computer building. Maybe on Thursday I’ll rebuild Kleinoscope as well, get it working up to snuff again with updated drivers and all that good stuff, then see if I want to keep it or go back to Mobius. Both are fine computers, but neither will be able to compare to the new guy, which I will have to come up with a name for here. Suggestions are welcome.

Projects Galore

Good music lifts my mood. I’m glad I decided to pull out the iPod and listen to some of my good music – I’ve been missing my music since Davis still has my firewire cable. Now its back, and I’m glad. As the title of this post sugests, I have many projects going on right now. I thought I would give an update on them.

Tim’s Senior Porject Combat Robot
Today was my first real day working on the combat robot. For the first part of the session, we mostly just played with fire, because the robot’s main weapon is going to be a flamethrower. In order for it to be effective, we want to make it more like a blow torch, so after trying some venturis that Larry suggested, I drew on my paintball experience to create a positive pressure air feed system. The muffin fan we tried the first time didn’t work so well, and the compressed air was way too powerful, but the FIRST robot’s compressor with a tube into which the fuel was fed about 3/4 of the tube length away from the end seemed to work very well for a strong blow torch effect. Feeling successful but hungry, we went to eat, and then returned to think about and work on the drive train. Now much work got done, but Tim and I figured out the main chasis (just a 2″x4″ thick wall aluminum tube down the center, to which the drivetrain will be bolted). The details will come.

New Desktop Computer
I purchased from Tim an ATI Radeon 9700 Pro, and now all I need to to is buy the rest of the computer to put around it. I wanted to go to Fry’s today, but it looks like that’ll be a trip for tomorrow after work.

Work
Work is going well. I go in early all week, so I have to get to bed real soon here. Going in early, of course, means getting out early as well, so I have lots of daylight to have fun by, for example, shopping at Fry’s. All the non-disclosure agreements I signed means I can’t yet tell you much about what I’m doing, since its all propreitary information not yet released to the public. But I should be writing up some troubleshooting guide for the Flic Wireless barcode scanner that will eventually become public, so maybe I can post that info at some point. But don’t hold your breath.

SilverFir.net
Moving over to oasis-as-server running Gentoo is more or less stalled right now. Its amazing how much something working well enough is an incentive to not change things. Despite being on the backburner, however, this one is still on the list. Currently, Apache, MySQL, and PHP are all installed. I still need to get the Apache logs parsed out to the proper domain directories, and set up secure email, ftp, and web servers, get web mail working, and set up a secure VPN with a Samba server for long-distance file sharing for windows (for my mp3 collection remotely, primarily). If you would like to help with the project, let me know.

DARPA Grand Challenge 2006
This is a very long-term goal right now. The first step is the SRA’s (Seattle Robotics Association, formerly SRSoceity) Mini Grand Challenge, which will involve navigating to orange cones located around the Seattle Center sometime later this year. In order to prove my concept of machine vision’s ability to find orange objects to naysaying Bob, we took some pictures of an Orange shirt of mine in various lighting conditions from way overexposed to way dark. In all cases except one (where the shirt was mostly black it was so underexposed), my machine vision technique (really just a photoshop action script) worked. I think using a regular digital camera and algorithms like photoshop’s, it should be fairly easy to navigate towards orange objects in a variety of lighting conditions.
Also, I got the names of people from Subaru, VW, and GMC from Mr. Chaplin, so now I need to put together a two-year plan that describes how the $1,000,000 I will be asking them for will be used to win the Grand Challenge with one of their vehicles (modified for drive by wire and for travelling in desert terrain, of course).

Laptop questions
I like my old laptop better than my current laptop. The only reason I use my current laptop is that its techincally faster. But I think I will be trading back. This laptop needs a reinstall from scratch anyway, so I will trade it for the one my mom is now using, which is the one I liked better anyway. And Mobius (the old laptop) has a serial port for programming robots as well. And 2400+ Athlon’s are still really fast, just not quite a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4. But I like how Mobius is lighter weight and better balanced and goes to sleep properly and… Well, I just like it better!

Those are all I can think of right now, but I bet there are more even!

Last Days

Today was my last shift at Blockbuster. I had a pretty good time talking to the customers, coercing them to buy popcorn as the active seller, and flirting with hot girls. It was fun. The girls is what I’ll miss the most about Blockbuster, actually. Microvision is rather dominated with men. Afterwards, I went to see “Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind,” an interesting film with lots of space for interpretation. If you are well grounded and want to think, go see it.

I’m still wroking on this early schedule thing. Maybe dinner tomorrow with Scott, Dan, & Family. I don’t share quite everything here either.