Friday, June 13, 2008

13/06/08 DARPA death-bot droid denies relationship with R2D2, slags Paris Hilton ...

Well, lets see if that one gets past the spam filters.

We headed off to Pesselière for the weekend on the 30th to meet up with the cousins - not just the Parisians but also Heather & Mike (who've kindly let Malyon squat their place whilst they're away) from Wellington. As it was just for two nights we left the dog, cat and guinea pigs to the tender ministrations of the neighbours (think 3year-old James stuffing straw up guinea pigs' orifices - to encourage them to eat) and took the Alfa up, then spent Saturday and half of Sunday lazing around /cooking for the masses (pizzas, quiches, BBQ pork). We ate and drank far too much, which is more or less par for the course. Against all reason we had good weather, which was rather nice. I even managed to straddle a bike again.

Of course a problem with all this is that no-one's going to mow the bloody lawn, are they? And as it is warm and humid, the damn thing is growing as though it were trying to make up for Amazonian deforestation. Which it might well do, given the diverse life-forms I find down there sometimes. Whatever, it meant that last weekend I spent quite some time turning soggy grass into green soup, and I really did appreciate my shower afterwards. It is a good thing that most of our neighbours do not understand English.

Got back from Pesselière and Jeremy went to turn on a computer: as usual, he blew the power supply. Damned if I know how he does it, but it's the third in a row. Whatever, I was in the market for a computer case. Headed off to the little place not too far from the office to pick one up ("cheap" and "quiet" are, apparently, incompatible which is a bit of a bugger but never mind) and brought it back home.

Now things are never simple around here, and when I opened up the dead machine (which we use as a media server for watching pirated videos and all) I discovered that it was in fact an old Intel server motherboard in some weird ATX "plus" format, ie it would almost, but not quite, fit into the new box. Quel bummer, Bruce, as we say around here. But never say die - I had another new box: the one that is my machine. Into which the old board should fit. As indeed it did. But ...

... first of all, my motherboard has to go into the new box. Physically, no problems. Press power button - no power. Oh. Dear. Bad box? Back to the suppliers, who discover that the power supply - cunningly mounted at the front of the box - has been installed with the (inaccessible) power switch in the "OFF" position. Stands to reason. Right, back home. Remember, we are not at home to Mr. Cock-up.

Put the motherboard back in the new box. Connect all connectors. Push power button. There is power, the fan spins - for 1 second - then nowt. Bummer again. Back to the supplier. Again. Where I discover that

  • 6-month old motherboards have a standard ATX power connector and a 4-pin 12V connector (which I knew about)
  • more modern motherboards have a standard ATX power connector (thank god) and an 8-pin 12V connector
  • new boxes have standard ATX connectors, a 4-pin 5V connector and an 8-pin 12V connector which you can split in two should you wish to do so
I had plugged the 4-pin 5V power supply into the 4-pin 12V on the motherboard, which didn't work that well. Had to laugh, really.

Anyway, I must admit that once I'd got past that the brain transplants went swimmingly, although I may have to consider banning Jeremy from actually touching computers until he's gone through some sort of static discharge routine.

On an unrelated topic, at some point in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future Malyon should let us know about when she's coming back here and when she needs to get to Glasgow. At that point we will have to see if we can fit her travel requirements into our busy holiday schedule (which, as usual, involves doing vast quantities of nothing).

Next Wednesday night I'm off to Albertville (named after a Belgian king, not Victoria's Prince Regent, should anyone be worried) with Jeremy for his first live concert. (Should I get him to ground himself before we go in? Wouldn't want speakers to explode ...) It's a "Tribute to AC/DC", which should be fun. And don't look at me like that, he was the one that wanted to go. Kept finding the fliers on the table - and on my chair - and on my desk - finally got the hint.

And just in case it interests anyone, I did get to the bottom of the problem for Alstom. The solution wasn't particularly pretty, I still don't know exactly why it wasn't working before, but what the hell, it works now. I'll settle for empirical. So will they.


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