So much for the streak!

Ok I managed to break my 1-day posting streak because I was just too tired when we landed in Narita. I was tired when I woke up in Guangzhou, though I’d slept a solid 7 hours before the trip.

The trip was relatively uneventful, though the captain continues randomly flying the airplane for me for no reason. I get it, I’m new, but rather than proceeding from a presumption of competence and correcting mistakes, he just does things for me and says he wasn’t sure if I was going to do it. I was, but somebody else’s hand was in my way!

I was whipped when we got to Narita, but like always the act of checking in and getting to the room woke me up a bit. After chatting with e, I went to the convenience store in the hotel and bought a bit of food. After eating I messed around on my phone a bit, then climbed into bed to take a nap before meeting up for dinner. Well, by the time I finished reading Facebook and a good bit of Jack Reacher, I didn’t go back to sleep until 3pm. I woke up at 11pm, then again 1 am, and finally 4 am! I don’t know why I’ve been so knocked out because I slept pretty well in Guangzhou.

Today I’ve been trying to get Max hooked up with Planetside 2, but as soon as we started trying to work on it the internet went crazy. When I left it last night, it had about 1GB to download and install. I assumed it would be ready today. When I finally connected, there was no shortcut to the game, so I ran the install repair again. The stupid computer kept saying there was no internet even though I was connected to it through–you know–the internet! I tried multiple times before giving up. We spent at least an hour resetting the jetpack, turning the router off and on, and restarting the computer. No luck. I could connect via TeamViewer, but the computer said it couldn’t connect with the Planetside server to complete the install. It’s frustrating because there are so many possibilities for error as I connect from Japan to a computer running OpenDNS servers through a router, through a Verizon Jetpack. Any one of those could have an error, but everything looked fine by my end. There’ve been Verizon outages reported in the news the last few days, but I can’t find out if there’s an error in Kissimmee, FL.

I finally gave up and told Max to turn everything off and go play. I asked him to turn it on again when he gets home. Maybe the reset will fix everything and we can finally install this game. I really hoped to play it with him today! After giving up, I went to breakfast for the first time in this hotel. It’s a pretty standard western/Asian mix, and there was plenty of good food to eat. I’m back in the room now at 8:40 am Monday morning, and my wakeup call comes at 7:30pm. Tonight is a short trip back to Guangzhou, so I’ll be ok even if I don’t get a ton of sleep before the flight.


This is the face of a guy who doesn’t like getting beaten by computers. After reading a lot of Digital River complaints, I found that Nova Development has a site separate from the main parallels site. Not only does it have direct download (aka no Digital River) it offered me the Parallels upgrade for $10 less than the other store. Woo-hoo!

An open letter to Parallels regarding Digital River

I am unable to order Parallels 5.0 upgrade because the only payment option you offer, Digital River, refuses to allow me to place an order. I have attempted credit card and PayPal transactions, both of which failed due to Digital River’s policies. A quick web search reveals that Digital River penalizes customers who don’t always order from home. I’m in the military and travel all over the world. In fact, I’m currently deployed right now. I’d love to upgrade to 5.0, but Digital River refused my properly entered and Securecode verified Mastercard and my Paypal account. Your computer response system will no doubt place the blame on Digital River, but if a human is reading this please realize that YOUR company is the one losing my business. Please consider an alternate purchase method that doesn’t go so far in the way of fraud protection that it blocks legitimate sales. Thank you.

Once again, back in business

Well, about a month ago I had another good idea for a post (you can see from the archives that once a month is the best I can do), and once again MT gave me that dreaded error they’ve been reporting on their site unsolved for over 4 years. I was getting ready to finally jump over to WordPress when my hosting provider made a major server change unannounced. They sent my wife an email but not me, the owner of all 5 domains and the one who pays the bill every year!

Anyway, after a little initial trouble where my old MT blog output 13 of 195 posts in the export, I’m finally back up. Mostly. All of the posts are uncategorized for some reason, all of the pics are lost (I have backups but need to recreate the links I guess) and the template isn’t to my liking, but I’m getting there!

Apparently I’m one of those ‘here as an example of what not to do’ types

In yet another case of blogging in case it helps someone else, I thought I’d use my semiannual post to comfort others who might be having a heart attack about their new plasma TV. Today while watching CSI we discovered a white pixel at the top that did not go away. To skip the suspense, it turns out our Roomba ran under the TV stand and hit MythTV’s mouse, causing one pixel of the mouse to show on screen. I moved the mouse cursor off screen and everything went back to normal. Yay!

Fixing Sound in Intrepid Ibex

Another one of those ‘just-in-case-it-helps-someone-else’ posts:
Overnight I upgraded to the newest version of Ubuntu, and this morning I found that I have no sound. I toyed around with many of the proposed fixes (many of which I realize are out-of-date) before realizing that for some reason my system defaulted to the 2.6.25-386 kernel instead of the 2.6.27-generic. I manually edited grub’s menu.lst to default to the newer kernel and rebooted. My sound came back right away! I then did something I always mean to do but never do: I went back and uninstalled all of the old kernels left over from previous updates. I got rid of ~500MB of space and am using the latest stable kernel. Yay!

Stuck in upgrade hell!

I’ve always thought myself fairly knowledgeable on computers, but I’m starting to feel a little behind the times. It all started when I finally got around to unpacking my Windows box from Turkey and trying to set it up. What I initially thought was a little ding to the case turned out to be that the whole front of the case was smashed in.
I decided to buy a replacement case since it seemed the case was not salvageable. The first case I ordered from Newegg arrived with the front panel completely sheared off. There were six little cylinders on the front panel that were supposed to snap in the metal part of the case, and they were all rolling around the inside of the case, having been neatly sheared off in transit. I asked Newegg if they’d just ship me a new front panel like they did the last time this happened, and after a few days they agreed. Much to my chagrin, the new panel arrived without any of the 6 posts that were supposed to connect it to the case. In other words, it was broken exactly like the one I already had. I got frustrated and completely returned the broken item to Newegg–on their dime much to Newegg’s credit.
After a 2-week pause where I was alternately too sick or working too much to work on the computer, I ordered another, sturdier-looking case from Newegg. The case arrived, but again due to work it was over a week before I had a chance to work on it. Now, to back up a second, when I discovered the damaged case I powered up the computer long enough to see that it did in fact work properly and the hard drives seemed ok.
Jump back to the present, or at least a few days ago. I had some time to work on the box, so I carefully disassembled the old case, unplugging and unscrewing everything as I went along. I then carefully installed everything into the new case. I was impressed by some of its features but won’t get into a review here. About 6 hours after I started, I fired up the computer for the first time and got…nothing. Turns out I forgot the video card had a power plugin. I fixed that and started again. The CD/DVD lights came on like a normal boot and then the computer just started clicking. The LED on the network card was blinking in time to the clicking and the power seemed to be dimming slightly with each click. No POST, nothing on the video…
After much searching on the net, I decided my motherboard must be fried. I need a new one anyway because after I installed everything the CPU heatsink fell off because the plastic holding it on had also been damaged and gave way after I closed the case up. Not my day, you know?
So, I started looking for a new motherboard. After a fair amount of searching I’ve determined that Socket 478 mobo’s are all but gone. In addition, AGP video cards are likewise toast. Finding a board with both is near impossible. Fine, I said, I’ll upgrade the mobo, processor and video card; been wanting to upgrade that old P4 3.0GHZ anyway. Guess what? The first 10 or so boards I checked out have only one IDE connector for my 4 drives!!! Now I’m willing to upgrade my mobo because it’s broken anyway, the cpu because I must and the video card likewise, but I am not upgrading to SATA hard drives when my IDE ones are working just fine for me!
So now I’m stuck looking through each type of board because for some reason IDE (PATA) isn’t a search option on every motherboard page. I need to find a reasonably priced board that will work with everything I own except the processor and video card, and then I need to find those two items that will work with my board. I don’t want to spend too much but don’t want to fall too behind either. I don’t really feel like going through every spec of the board and learning what the new terms mean, but I’m going to have to if I don’t want to “upgrade” to a completely new system. Yikes!

Back online!

Not that I expect too many people read this blog, but I finally fixed the error that has been keeping me from posting to my blog for over 2 months. In case this winds up on someone’s Google query and can be of help, I was getting the dreaded ‘Statement has no result columns to bind’ error that was preventing me from using my site. After much trial and error I came across a site recommending that I clean up the MySQL tables. I went to for tips on how to fix my tables using phpmyadmin. In my case repairing the tables with overhead didn’t help but I noticed my mt.log and tbping tables reported “in use” and the associated MYI files were dated Oct 18th where everything else was Dec 19th. I repaired those two tables and so far everything seems to be working again. Yee-haw!

New Laptop (!)

I’ve been given the go-ahead to get a new laptop, partially because the house is under contract and hopefully will belong to someone else by the end of the month (yay!) and partially because my new job will likely keep me away from home a lot.
I’ve always said that if I get a job with a lot of deploying then I needed to get a new laptop with all the built-in goodness my 7-year-old model does not possess. After over a year of e’s iMac, I was set on a MacBook Pro and nearly bought one when we saw it on the shelf in Germany. Just when I was working up the nerve to spend that much $, I realized that if it were to be my travel computer I’d need to be able to do work on it and that means I’d need to use my CAC to check email and PureEdge viewer to fill out the various gov’t forms we use.
I was bummed for a while. I know there are solutions to run Windows on Mac, but the whole point is that I didn’t want to run Windows. Still, I was resigned to getting a Windows laptop–got pretty close to laying out the cash for a Sony VAIO VGN-FZ180E/B–when I decided to do some more searching.
It turns out I’m not the only federal employee who’d like to use another operating system. It didn’t take too much looking around to find “CAC on a Mac,” a technical paper written for the Naval Postgraduate School which describes how to get the Common Access Card certificate working on a Mac. I’d previously used the article to flash the gov’t card reader, allowing it to work under Mac and Linux.
I still needed an IMT solution, and the fact that e really wanted Windows for her two favorite traveling programs, AutoCAD and PhotoShop, wasn’t making life easier. Then last night when I was ready to give in I found out that the gov’t saved the day again. It seems there are a lot of government researchers who use other operating systems. When the grant application program went to the same PureEdge system used by the AF there was a mutiny because the researchers didn’t want to buy new computers just to be able to fill out some forms. The government used its no doubt considerable leverage over IBM and convinced them to do what PureEdge had always refused to consider: develop an IMT viewer for the Mac. You can download it, appropriately enough, from here. I’m hoping it’s only a matter of time before someone ports the viewer to Linux. I’d really love a completely open-source laptop but I think that’s not in the cards for me this time. Now, off to the Apple Store! Too bad they don’t ship to APO addresses 🙁 Guess I’ll have to wait until I’m up in Germany again or until we get back to the US.