the neverending to-do list

The Parsons table to my left is covered in clutter, and I’ve been planning on organizing it for weeks. I hope this week is the week when it finally happens.

As you can probably tell, I haven’t been updating you via this channel at all this month. Let’s just say my schedule hasn’t allowed me to spend as much time with this as usual, but I hope to change that in June.

I’ve been keeping busy lately. I got some dough from my insurance company intended to fix the hail damage in my old ’97 Accord. I decided to put that money toward replacing the tint and shocks instead. I also got my cracked windshield fixed after three years or so. Apart from the sun damage on the exterior paint, the car is looking and feeling good for a 13-year-old vehicle.

The job is going well. I still manage to get up way too early in the morning and make it to the office by 5. After I leave a little after 1, I run my errands set for the day which I’m sure I’ve outlined on a previous post or two but I might as run through it all real quick since I haven’t updated you in a while.

With the exception of the past couple weeks when a decent amount of work was being done to my car, I hit the gym after work on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. I usually go after Rachael Ray is halfway done, the fishies have been fed, the ISOs have been made if necessary, and the [email protected] systems have been checked to be up and running smoothly.

Somewhat sad news: The golden dojo loach passed away recently. Time has been flying by quickly this month, but I’d say it died a week and a half ago. The Hex-5 is kind of boring right now, but I gave it a deep cleaning this past Sunday. Mare and I will be searching for a pair of loaches soon, but we’ve both been relatively busy. Now back to our scheduled programming:

On Tuesdays, I stop by the library to check out DVDs and the occasional book. They have a great system online where you can place holds on whatever media they have from any branch, and they’ll bring it to the branch of your choice. This is convenient for me, since the library is right down the street. Public libraries are one of the best incentives that an American taxpayer has in my opinion.

Wednesdays are new comic days. I like going right after work since the selection is at its best it’s going to be for the most part. Popular titles get snatched up pretty quick, but I haven’t had any issues getting my issues. Last week, a new issue of Hulk, Wolverine: Weapon X, and Young Liars was released. Due to Memorial Day, new comics come out tomorrow instead of today. The only issue coming out tomorrow that I read religiously is the new issue of X-Force. I think the Messiah War concludes in this issue. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Also on Wednesdays, Mare and I have been dining out around 2 or 3. Since the semester is over, it’ll probably change up a bit. She doesn’t have to work today, so we’ll be going to Casino El Camino after Wheel this evening to stuff ourselves with their famous ginormous burgers. I haven’t had it yet, but I know it’s gonna rock my gut in a good way. On a related note, we’ll be compiling info on a piece that I’ll be publishing here about our favorite  burger joints in Austin once we’ve completed our follow-up rounds. Stay tuned for that.

Also in future news, a design update for this Soapbox has been planned for this summer. This update should be deployed around late July so also look forward to that. Let’s wrap up the week’s routine and Wheel should be on in a bit.

That’s right. 6:30pm CST on NBC DTV is one of my all-time favorite shows Wheel of Fortune. I don’t like missing it. In related television news, how about Danny on Hell’s Kitchen schooling Paula?! I was rooting for him since the beginning, and I’m glad he won. He did the best out and had the right attitude to win it.

Also, I’m glad Adam didn’t win American Idol. I was rooting for Danny, but he got third place unfortunately. Well, it can be seen as a good thing since Danny’s votes probably shifted to Kris which then outnumbered Adam’s. I don’t care much at all about the future of the Idols, but I started watching the show between day jobs so I was into it ’til the end this season.

Since most of the fall seasons have ended, I’m watching the first season of Mad Men which I’m really enjoying and recently finished watch the first season of Eastbound and Down which was well done as well. I look forward to the next seasons of those two shows.

On Fridays, I like to go out to the Hideout and chat with my posse. GMN and DDF are in Cali right now. I’m envious that they got to have Double Doubles from In-N-Out! I’ll visit Cali again some day, and I will sink my teeth into a Double Double before I die.

Five minutes ’til Wheel. I’m gonna end this here so I can proofread it real quick then publish. This was fun. I’m glad you missed me. Maybe I’ll write some more tomorrow. We’ll see. Peace out.

the keyboard replacement success

The last place we left off on replacing the keyboard on my ECS 536 notebook was waiting on the delivery of the replacement almost two weeks ago.

On the 12th, the keyboard arrived. The time arrived to do the necessary to my three-year-old notebook that has sentimental value to me hence why I’m keeping it around.

Let’s start off with the “before” pictures and some captions:

Notice the missing Ctrl keys on the left and right. It was a bad idea to want to switch them, since it wouldn’t have done next to nothing and resulted in needing replacement.

On the lower left corner of this picture, you can see that the location of the left Ctrl key was rendered completely useless since both the key and the rubber piece that closes the circuit are completely missing. You can also see that many of the labels have deteriorated over time with extended use.

Here’s a picture of the other side of the keyboard to highlight more faded labels. The right Ctrl key still has the rubber piece intact, but the key is also missing. These keys must have been pressed thousands of time if not more causing the labels to eventually wear.

Now for some moving pictures for your viewing pleasure. This footage was shot on Thursday night and highlights the simple procedure in replacing a notebook keyboard.

Basically, some screws were removed, a couple plates were removed, the keyboard was detached from the motherboard, the new keyboard was attached, and the screws and plates were put back into their proper places.

Here’s a picture of the new keyboard looking fresh. No greasy-looking wear from extended use and the Ctrl keys have returned.

As long as the rest of the hardware keeps truckin’, this notebook will probably have at least a few more years of constant use. By that time, I will invest in a new notebook to catch up to current technology or the worn-out hardware will be replaced. The decision depends on if this upgraded ECS 536 will still be able to run the applications I use on a regular basis at that time and if I can still find parts for it. The current configuration will run Windows 7, so I’ll be looking forward to upgrading the operating system in early 2010.

the keyboard in transit

The notebook computer that I enter almost all of these fun posts you love to read is an ECS 536 that I have proudly owned since October 2005. I have done so many upgrades to this machine that I’m sure I could have bought another notebook that was faster with much better features for the same price if I waited to purchase six months later.

Here is a quick run-down off the top of my head of what I have upgraded on this notebook:

  1. Added a Kingston 512MB DDR SDRAM SO-DIMM to the existing 256MB for a total of 768MB – A holiday gift from Neil the first winter I had it. Thanks, bro!
  2. Replaced the stock internal WLAN card with an Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG – An irresistible eBay purchase for the price they were asking at the time. This was much-needed because I wouldn’t have survived my night supervisor job without it and the stock card was terrible.
  3. Upgraded the AMD Sempron 2600+ processor to a Turion 64 ML-37 – Another temptation courtesy of an eBay seller.
  4. Replaced the generic 256MB SO-DIMM with a Corsair 1GB DDR SDRAM SO-DIMM for a total of 1.5GB – a Fry’s clearance + rebate.
  5. Multiple accessories have also been purchased for the notebook, but I will not go into detail because my bedtime is nearing.

With that said, I am doing what I hope to be the last replacement to this notebook that I’ve owned for 3+ years: the keyboard. Last week before Wheel of Fortune on Friday, I decided to swap the Ctrl keys. I’m accustomed to using the left Ctrl key and used it so much over time that the lettering has completed faded away. The other Ctrl key is in the bottom 5% of keys used on this keyboard, so it was in much better condition.

Lo and behold, the tiny pieces beneath the keys that gave them the spring action did not want to agree with me. Since the components have been used so much over time and had tiny pieces of plastic keeping them together, they decided to fall apart with the dozens of attempts to put them back together making the switcheroo impossible and the pieces useless. The only solution from here was to replace the keyboard.

Fortunately, I’ve thought about replacing the keyboard in the past since most of the keys have that greasy, worn appearance and the labels have faded for a half dozen of them. I’m probably one of the last owners who use this model on a regular basis, and it’s rare to find now. Fry’s Electronics had a GQ version of this notebook that was a rebrand of this model, and this series of notebooks are essentially a fully-built Uniwill. ECS bought Uniwill in 2006, and Uniwill was known for manufacturing barebone laptop computers for computer hobbyists.

I’ve become a sentimentally attached to this notebook, and it hasn’t given me any problems. The price was enticing when I purchased it, and I loved the fact that it has a shiny black finish on the back cover of the LCD (which is now coated in an array of assorted stickers). It was also one of the few notebooks on the market at the time that used an AMD Socket 754 mobile processor. Until the Q6600 ever drops to where it’s in my price range, I am an AMD loyalist.

I purchased the replacement keyboard from the ECS & Uniwill Parts Store. They didn’t have the exact model listed, but the ECS 532 uses the same keyboard (or at least I can hope). The package is in transit and should be arriving on time this Thursday, and I’m eagerly waiting. The little soft plastic piece that’s supposed to be under the key that closes the circuit for the left Ctrl key has resigned and is amongst the tiny pile of my failed attempt at switching the Ctrl keys.

I’ve become accustomed to flat keyboards, and the “wrist support” that a notebook chassis provides. By harvesting the energy of this machine with the new keyboard installed, I can hack the Gibson in no time.

Look forward to a follow-up post in the near future that will have some sort of before and after images of the keyboard swap. Peace out.

the terabyte external hard drive deal (1TB !)

Are you searching for a huge amount of external disk storage for around a hundred bucks? Call on the Cavalry! Buy.com currently has a sale on a USB 2.0 external hard drive for a penny less than a Benjamin. To make the deal even sweeter, the shipping is free.

Some of you might be asking yourself why you would need a thousand gigabytes of storage. Music producers who run digital studios could use this due to the size of high-quality audio files. Graphic designers, film editors, and anyone else who needs a large amount of backup space could also all use one of these. Why worry about clearing disk space when you can have as much of it as you need at your discretion? This much storage will last you a while regardless of how you use it.

Disk storage has become even more affordable since I last wrote about one of these necessary devices. An external hard drive is useful in case of hardware failure. If everything is backed up on an external hard drive and the system goes out, then all of the data is safe on the backup and can be easily restored.

With this deal, anyone smart enough to take up this awesome offer will only be paying a dime a gig. This is the price that the average internal hard drive is going for right now. If you coupled an internal hard drive with an external enclosure, then you’re spending too much plus wasting your time assembling the pieces.

Save money. Save time. Keep your data safe and backed up. Invest in a Calvary 1TB USB 2.0 external hard drive and go to Buy.com for the best price online. These will eventually go out of stock, so act fast so you don’t miss out on this opportunity.

the exit strategy

Today marks the third week since my last day at the chaotic office I worked in for the past two and a half years. The job hunt still continues, but I’m not too worried yet. I have a decent amount saved up that will float me for at least the next couple months if needed.

I’ve been enjoying this vacation. Apart from the spontaneous Texas winter weather, it has been very relaxing. I’ve been doing next to nothing, but I kind of like it. I can’t say I’ve been bored. I can always find something to occupy my time, and the days have been flying by so quickly. I meant to write something up like this last Tuesday, but the time just got spent too fast. I enjoy being able to stay up during the wee hours of the night and wake up around noon again.

My PS3 and I have been bonding. I’ve downloaded a bunch of media, themes, and demos through the Playstation Network. I’ve been playing a decent amount of Half-Life 2 and discovered an enjoyable game that uses the Sixaxis technology called Super Rub a Dub. You basically control a tub with a rubber duck in it that has to gather the baby rubber ducks and bring them to the drain. It gets more fun and interesting as the levels get more difficult with obstacle-shaped tubs and wind-up sharks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6qXaNkeKyw

I’ve reduced my comic purchasing, since my steady income is on pause. Another reason is that I’ve let go of a bunch of titles for the lack of interest or the mini-series have completed. I do still get my share of comic reading done. Next month, the Watchmen movie comes out and I’m looking forward to it. If you haven’t read the graphic novel yet, then I suggest you do.

I’ve immersed myself in DTV and have become somewhat of a couch potato. I try to catch the back-to-back episodes of Jeopardy! HD at 4PM CST on NBC. I usually watch Wheel of Fortune at 6:30PM. Heroes is back on Monday nights. NBC Comedy on Thursdays is one of my favorite sitcom chains on network television right now, but FOX has Thursdays right now with Bones and Hell’s Kitchen.

Fortunately, Mininova is an excellent network that usually has access to HD downloads to network television shows. I could just stream them on the network sites, but I’m a cheapskate with the slowest broadband connection on the block plus my entire folding farm currently resides here and units are completed often enough to suck up all the bandwidth when I need it most. I also like to collect them and watch them over again.

I’ve done a decent amount of job hunting, but with the economic recession scare and lack of job availability, I haven’t found anything yet. I’m going to keep looking at the pace I’m going now, and I’ll continue to pick and choose what who receives my résumé and applications. I’m sure I’ll find something. Like I said earlier, I’m not too worried yet. That’s the advantage of being financially responsible when I knew I was going to make a move to start a new chapter in my life. I didn’t want to continue being a manager at a horribly disorganized company where I’m putting out fire after fire. The pay was decent, but the stress was not worth it.

My rambling ends here for tonight. The post explosion will continue tomorrow from my fingertips to the keyboard. I will be wearing my pajamas again. Peace out.

the texas snow

Only in Texas will the weather be a comfortable ~70°F during the day, large gusts of wind come through in the late afternoon, and snow falls from the sky a half hour ’til midnight.

Mare took a picture of her Vespa as the snow started falling.

The bandwidth in the apartment is currently being eaten up with a 50MB upload to Stanford of a completed [email protected] work unit by c0rey and another one completed by Diode. The PS3 should be completing another one around 1:30AM.

To post this without having to put up with the lag from the large data transfers going on right now, I am mooching off a neighbor who is unaware of the importance of securing a wireless network.

To successfully rip The Dark Knight on DVD, make sure you’re using DVDFab Platinum 5.1.2.2. They thought they could stop us.

the candy bars and soda for brunch

After a splendid four-day vacation for the Thanksgiving holiday, Monday returned which meant that the 40-hour work week was back in session. The painful monotony goes a little something like this:

  • Sleep.
  • Wake up.
  • Shower.
  • Dress.
  • Grab a candy bar and a soda.
  • Hop in my car.
  • Drive to work.
  • Work.
  • Drink a soda and eat a candy bar for brunch.
  • Work more than eight hours at the office *or* go home and work a little more after a few hours of unwinding and eating dinner (The second option is much preferred).
  • Repeat until EOD Friday.

The cycle may start on Sunday nights with work before the normal cycle commences on Monday.

If they knew what I was thinking, then they would stop believing I was a robot.