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Computer Naming Conundrums

Ever since I had my own computers, they have had names. The original, a Pentium Pro 180 in a full tower, was named oasis, after one of my favorite bands at the time, and also I liked the idea of a desert oasis. My next computer was an Athlon 600; it became the new oasis and the old oasis became wadi, an Arabic word for a normally dry stream (ie, the opposite of an oasis). I owe that name to my brother. Wadi became the first server behind; it was the computer that was hacked due to a vulnerability in the Linux kernel and another vulnerability in some photo album software I was using at the time. was then replaced by sf2 (“silverfir #2), a 500-MHz Pentium III.

About that same time, I inherited my Dad’s very old IBM Thinkpad, equipped with a Pentium 90 and 16 megabytes of RAM. The computer had only a small screen (12”), but it was heavy and black, so it became named blackbrick. With Bobby’s help, that computer became my introduction to Linux, wireless networking, war driving, and mobile computing in general. It was no surprise then that the next computer to come my way was a laptop that I purchased in 2003 during Fry’s grand opening sale. It was an HP with a AMD Athlon 2400+. I planned on having that computer last a long time, and it was my first modern mobile computer, so I named it mobius, after the Mobius strip — I thought that the name evoked the mobile nature of the computer as well as the eternal nature of the Mobius strip.

Then came an unexpected bump — in early January, 2004, I won another laptop, a Compaq desktop replacement with a Pentium 4 2.8 GHz processor. It was heavy, but I couldn’t justify passing up the faster processor speed, so it became my new primary computer and I ended up giving mobius to my mom. The new laptop earned itself the name of kleinoscope, evoking the idea of the Klein bottle, a three-dimmensional analogue of the mobius strip.

Oasis, in the mean time, lasted me through my first stint at college and a good ways in to 2004. However, in anticipation of the imminent release of Half Life 2, I purchased a new desktop machine. Its colorful case, along with the name of my most recent laptop, led to the obvious naming choice of kaleidoscope. Oasis was then recommissioned in place of sf2 as the primary server. Today, oasis remains’s mail server. Dan’s monstrosity Frankenputen, meanwhile, has taken over web and file serving duties.

Kleinoscope and I had been through a lot in three-and-a-half years, and the laptop finally died somewhat spectacularly not too long ago. It was time for me to get a new laptop. Enter the brand-spanking-new Dell D630. However, no name that seems appropriate has come to mind for this computer yet. Right now, it is named a rather terrible TBD and I don’t intend to let it stay that way for much longer. But I need help. Please leave your suggestions!

750 gigabytes

Yesterday after dropping Alice off at the airport, I cam back via 405 and stopped at Fry’s, where I picked up a couple of 750gb Seagate SATA hard drives for $230 each plus tax. Last night, I stayed up late installing the drives and a controller I also purchased into my former roommate Dan’s computer. Everything went smoothly, until I tried installing FreeNAS and the computer wouldn’t boot. So instead, I installed Ubuntu and followed this guide to setting up software RAID 1 on the two drives. This will provide me with about 750,000,000,000 bytes of redundant storage in an always-on configuration. Unfortunately, Dan’s computer is not very quiet, so probably the next step in this process is going to be getting a nice, quiet computer case and a motherboard with a built in SATA controller (or PCI express) so that the full speed of these drives can be unleashed. The step after that involves probably another couple of 750gb disks and perhaps an Infrant ReadyNAS or a Buffalo TeraStation. Fortunately, 750gb will give me plenty of time to figure out what I’m going to do next.

What I’m really excited for, however, is the possibility of using ZFS on a NAS at some point in the future.

Mild Resuscitation

A few weeks ago, while de-dusting my desktop computer case, I managed to snap off a plastic clip on my processor heat sink. I was a bit bummed at the time, but the computer seemed to work afterwards, so I didn’t feel too bad. But the computer also started acting flakier than normal. I began getting suspicious and doing some investigating by downloading tools from the ASUS website (my desktop features an ASUS P4P800 Motherboard). The tools let me monitor the temperature of the processor, which I found to be hovering around the scorching 87 degree Celsius mark, occasionally spiking higher during intensive CPU usage. Well, this sounded ridiculously warm to me, and although further investigation taught me that the normal temperature range during load went as high as 75 degrees for my P4 2.8 GHz processor, 87 still seemed excessive. So, corrective action was required.

I talked to Dan and today he was kind enough to give me some thermal grease and some fans and heatsinsk to try. Right now, my box sits open with a new grease job and its original fan and heatsink (still the best fit despite the many possibilities in the box from Dan), and the termperature is holding steady at 46-47 degrees Celcius with mild load.

Unfortunately, the clip is still broken and I don’t know if I can trust the machine to the borken clip’s hands once again. Of course, even the broken clip might provide more force than gavity, which is all that is holding the heat sink on now. At any rate, it will be an adventure.

In the meantime, I am copying the contents of my late laptop Kleinoscope’s hard drive using a slick laptop enclosure lent to me by, once again, Dan. Ten gigs and 34,722 files in and still going strong.

Cycling with Dennis

After work and a CREE lecture today, I was lounging around home, fixing my computer and hoping for something to do when Dennis called up with the idea of going on a bike ride. I was definitely game so at about 6:45 we headed out to the arboretum. We only had until 8:00, so the ride was short and sweet, but there are definitely some roads worth exploring in that direction. I will be going back.

We went about 12 or 13 miles in about an hour of riding.

Syriana Stairs

Wednesday, I woke up late, so I went to class and then work instead of the normal order. I left work around 8:30, watched some Law and Order with dinner while lifting weights, and then I went for a run — about 3.8 miles according to The “run “involved a little too much walking for my taste, but it also involved two sets of Montlake Stairs.

When I got back, Mario had just returned with some stuff from the lab, so I offered to take him down there to clear the rest of the stuff out of what has essentially been his primary living space, with the house here used only intermittently for showers, cooking, and laundry. He had the movie Syriana with him, so we ended up watching that starting about 1:00am. No wonder why I have trouble waking up. Anyway, the movie was pretty good at weaving together a lot of interesting threads into some powerful and dark messages. Too bad they didn’t show the explosion, though. 4/5.

Shopping list:
Sweat bands
Leatherman Micra

TIFF via Cleveland

Today I purchased my tickets to fly to Cleveland, Ohio, from whence Dan, Scott, and I will depart for the Toronto International Film Festival.

Scott already laid out the big bucks to purchase 40 tickets that the three of us will somehow split among ourselves. It has been a long time since I have been to Canada — a long time since I have even been out of the country (the last time was in the summer of 2003) — and I am looking forward to the excursion.


Today, I said goodbye to my sister, brother-in-law, and my two nieces. They are headed off to Israel on a grand work-adventure involving Boeing. May they fare well.