October 29, 2004
What the hell is eu.com?...

Whatever it is, I got a record number of spams in the past two days - 62, all from two domains regged under eu.com. The lack of central blacklist updates is really starting to make life difficult for me.

I haven't figured out how to do this, but I may have to resort to a policy similar to what Jeff Lawson did on his anime blog. There aren't really that many people reading this journal anyways, so I don't think that removing the ability to comment on anything older than 2 weeks old is really a problem.

In any case, tomorrow morning I'm headed up to Ohio with Josh to attend TeleKawaru's wedding! Yay for six hour drives...

Posted at 11:45 PM | Comments (2)

October 27, 2004
Death to Princesses...

First off, wish me luck as I start applying for jobs again. I'm hoping for a peak-time position at Chevy Chase Bank - pay is lucrative and I'm pretty sure I can handle money with little difficulty. I'll probably see about bugging Best Buy too.

Several unique events on the axon hunt today. I'm going to go ahead and write a detailed narrative, to be pasted to the unfiction forum.

Because the ranks were spread much thinner than last week, I decided to once again go to Union Station, and at the last minute, added Georgetown Cinema to my list of spots to hit. In order to hit both, it required me to drive to DC rather than to park at the Metro and take the rail in. So, leaving work early (after starting not as early as I would have liked), I barely made it to Union Station, hitting about the amount of traffic I anticipated. Getting there was pretty straightforward though, despite the fact that I very seldom drive within DC.

Parked, ran in, and waited by the phones next to the car rental place. A while later, Chappy arrived, and told me that INCyr had also made it. This is a step up from the morning discussion where it was just me covering Union Station alone. I was also poorly equipped to handle the live call exercise, so it was a good thing they were there. INCyr started off with the phones on the other end, near Au Bon Pain, while we waited by the car rentals. Some recorded calls came trickling in, and I manage to activate all but one of the three or so that I picked up. In the middle of this, Chappy got a live call. Unfortunately, we didn't make the exercise in time - we got the correct answer, but not within the time limit. We did chat with Melissa for a while, though, and the phone was passed off to me to make an introduction.

Melissa started by asking my name and rank, then asked how to spell my name (I told her "StarCreator" of course). She immediately asked if there was a private communication channel she could call, and I gave her my cell phone number. She also spit out the usual deal where she says the call would not be made by her personally, etc. She then asked if I had been monitoring the transmissions. I said I had been, which prompted her to ask me if I thought Durga was rampant. This took me by surprise, and I said that she might be. When asked what made me think this, I eventually managed to spit out that her voice had been "sounding weird" at various times. She asked again if I thought she was rampant, to which I replied that it was too early to tell. This prompted Mel to ask if that meant we should monitor her, to which I quickly answered yes.

She then went on to something a bit different - she said that the subjects may be preparing to do something that will interfere with her ability to transmit data, so she will be broadcasting what she receives live on Sunday, rather than transmitting recordings on Tuesday. She told me to relay this information to the others. (A few people were told the same thing and beat me to it.) She seems to think something big will happen on Sunday, and the field exercise was a test to make sure the crew could operate tightly and efficiently, even if something should happen to her broadcast systems.

She finished off by basically apologizing that we couldn't complete the task on that particular call, and commented that the DC Axon Hunter Signal Corps are one of her favorite teams before hanging up.

Quickly relaying what she told me to Chappy (and I hope I haven't forgotten any important details as I write this now), we head out. Chappy heads out to get some more axons while INCyr presumably went home. I stayed for a bit to eat dinner at Au Bon Pain, unfortunately not finding the food at this one to be as good as the one I frequented during Anime Boston this past year. Rock-hard sandwiches and undercooked meat aside, I wandered the station for a little bit before setting out back onto the DC roadways to try and make it to Georgetown Cinema.

This proved to be an interesting journey, since I quickly learned that the directions I had printed from Mapquest were completely useless. Left only with the knowledge that the parking garage entrance was at the intersection of K St. and Wisconsin Ave., I explored the DC roadways for just under 50 minutes before I finally took K St. in the right direction, taking me out of the urban city area into Georgetown. After I triumphantly parked my car for the second time, I walked to the theater, where Chappy and aliendial had been sitting outside of for quite some time. We went inside and they ordered some fast dinner-type stuff at the concession stand. Of course, I already had my fill of dinner from beforehand.

It isn't too long before the phone calls start, and the first or second one up is a live call. Unfortunately, we again failed to offer the correct passphrase, sending aliendial to her cell phone to re-verify. A few recorded axons start going off, and the one I pick up doesn't go hot. The voice recog software really just doesn't like me. I refrain from picking up any more after that. The last call of the night is yet another live call, and we give another shot at the passphrase - we give one incorrect guess, and finally we manage to present the correct passphrase - but Chappy pauses after relaying the passphrase, and not the rest of the information. I was only further confused when he asked "Princess?" then gave a bit of a chuckle before he hung up the phone. Naturally, this was the call that doomed the Sleeping Princess. Oops.

Interesting things to note about the Georgetown Cinema calls - neither live call asked for the identity of the person on the line. Only the standard question/answer challenge was given before launching right into the passphrases, and no idle chatter. Of course, this final axon spike was credited to entire Washington DC Axon Hunter Signal Corps when it went on the site.

That was certainly a fun way to end the day's axon hunt. Now that the deed had been done, we parted company and I headed home.

... or so I thought. I must have somehow missed the exit for the GW Parkway, and I ended up in Crystal City instead. This led to an amusing phone exchange between Kevin and myself...

Me: Hey, are you working right now?
Kevin: Uhh, no...
Me: Okay. I'm in Crystal City, how do I get home?
Kevin: (paraphrased) Huh?

(Honestly, I was perfectly capable of getting myself home, but I just wanted to hear how he would react to that statement. =p)

So, instead of going home, I end up going to Kevin's house. I explained why I was driving around DC, as he hadn't heard of the ILB thing. Played some controller DDR since he still hadn't unlocked everything in Extreme US (and I'm not sure if he ever really will), and he watched the last episode of Initial D 2nd Stage after we got sick of that. (I still fail to understand how or why the series is so popular.)

Finally headed home after that, and started typing this up. And now, I get a ridiculously inadequate amount of sleep for the third night in a row. And the Ohio trip is coming up this weekend...

Posted at 03:18 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2004

What, you expected something new?

There really hasn't been much happening. This past weekend, I went down to eat at IHOP with Chris, Alison, Pakman, Kevin, and Billy, then went to sleep at Chris's house, just to play Secret of Mana with him after he got back from work on Sunday afternoon. And made him listen to Neko Mimi Mode on autoloop.

Weekend before that, I was stuck at home doing stuff, while my car was out getting some much-needed maintenance.

Before that, there was the visit to Chris's that got him addicted to Secret of Mana in the first place.

And trust me, everything in between has been boring. Except that Axon hunting run last week.

If something interesting happens, I'll write about it. =p

Posted at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2004
Axon hunting...

So, for the 3rd week in a row, I decided to take part in Axon hunting. (For those not familiar with this, it's part of the I Love Bees ARG. This Quick Start guide can bring you up to speed, while the Netninja Bee Log can keep you updated on current events.) Here's a list of today's events, compiled after the fact, with some times filled in with receipts that were in my pocket. Some other times are approximate.

11:30 AM - Bolted out the door running. In my haste, I completely forgot to take people's cell phone numbers with me, and in fact didn't even look up -where- in Union Station I was supposed to go. Oops.
11:55 - As I pulled into Glenmont's Park and Ride garage, I found a sign stating that the parking payment could only be made via a SmarTrip card. This gave me pause, but I had already skipped class to do this, so I pressed on.
12:01 PM - Once again, being in a big hurry, I buy a farecard using the machine that accepted credit cards. I forget to multiply the value read off the chart by two, so I end up with exact fare for one-way only.
12:12 - En route, the train stops for a few minutes. I took this moment to try to call INCyr (the only number I had, only because it was still in my outgoing log from last week's axon attempt), but didn't get an answer. I seriously doubted I would make it to the station in time for the axons at this point.
12:16 - Apparently, there is a speed limit imposed when a train passes through a construction area. I'm not opposed to that, unless I'm in a hurry.
12:29 - One whole minute before the meeting time. I bolted like a madman up the escalator and into the station.
12:31 - Not knowing where I had to go, a look at the directory map was in order. Since I recall the meeting place was near a car rental place, I looked for that, and found two listings which were conveniently next to each other. So, off I went running in that direction.
12:33 - Just in time, I meet up with most of the Signal Corps. Some quick introductions are made while we wait for phones to go off. A few people using the phones are also redirected to other phones.
12:40 - The large bank of phones we were watching start going off, one by one. Every phone answered was a recording, and everyone except me made their call go hot. Mine refused to acknowledge that I was responding to the question correctly, and dumped me out >.>
12:52 - The phones seem to have all rung, so a large group of us went off to eat. Naturally, I went with the food-bound people. =p
12:58 - In need of cash, I find it convenient there's a Chevy Chase ATM nearby. I walk over there with a couple other people...
1:00 - Okay, not so convenient. Turns out the buttons alongside the screen were broken, making the machine completely unusable. We had to walk over to another (not Chevy Chase) ATM.
1:05 - I finally decide on something to eat. I order a hot dog with bacon and fries combo at Frank 'n Stein.
1:06 - They call THAT bacon?
1:35 - Wrapping up a lively conversation on why not to use Windows, we went on our separate ways here. It was fun! Though I had managed to lose track of time, and was running behind schedule...
1:40 - I have to go WHERE to get a SmarTrip card?!
1:43 - Reluctantly, I hop on the Red line in the opposite direction, to go to Metro Center. I wanted to phone in to work, but my cell phone didn't have any signal. I only had signal when we were on the second floor of Union Station answering phones.
1:50 - Arrived at Metro Center. Naturally, I walked to one end of the station to ask where to get a SmarTrip card, to be told that I needed to go to the sales office on the opposite end.
1:56 - Lines suck.
1:58 - Yay, a new piece of plastic to add to the collection. Being done, I ran back to the other end of Metro Center to catch an eastbound Red line train.
2:02 - Oops, I got on a train that was going to stop at Silver Spring rather than go all the way back to Glenmont. Not much harm done since I was going in that direction anyways, but annoying...
2:11 - After the train passes Union Station, I finally regain cell phone signal for the first time since leaving the payphones. The now long overdue call to work is placed while I have the chance.
2:20 - Once again, I find the construction speed limit annoying.
2:26 - Is it RAINING now?
2:45 - After some Exitfare and SmarTrip recharge fun, I finally escape the Metro system. Walked off to my car and headed to work. I was only an hour late too >.>

That was pretty much it. I made it to work at 3pm, when I should have been there at 2. So, I stayed longer to make up for that -and- the hour I needed to make up from yesterday. So, now I'm pretty tired.

I took a photo and a video at the payphone site, but I'll deal with that a bit later.

Posted at 10:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2004
Spoke too soon...

No sooner did I proclaim I was done that I started to have stability issues >.>

The system is currently freezing at random intervals, but usually only when I'm present. When I say freezing, I mean completely frozen - display is frozen, sound goes into a high-pitched whine, keyboard states are locked, mouse optic state is locked, and you can't get out of it without a hardware reset.

After the first three times, I was hoping it was due to a display driver incompatibility, so I downgraded from the recent drivers Sapphire provides to ATI's reference drivers. Naturally, that didn't solve the problem (though it did fix the really messed up font smoothing). I have yet to run a comprehensive test on the RAM, which would be damn annoying to have to replace, as I do not have any replacements for it. So, if I had to send it in for a return, I'd be without a computer for a while yet again >.>

I just can't win this one, can I? I'm starting to wonder if I should have just lived with the flaky PS/2 and USB controller on the old mobo...

EDIT: Memtest-86 reports no problems with the RAM, so that's not the issue... temperatures at freeze-time are 43C CPU, 35C mobo...

As for happier things? I'll be heading down to SF today. I haven't gone in a while, so it'll be nice to see people again...

Posted at 12:59 PM | Comments (1)

October 07, 2004
Another year...

It figures that I spend the first 4 hours of it sleeping -above- the sheets in my bed, rolled up like sushi. (It -is- freezing in here today for some reason, and even my PC isn't putting enough heat out to bring the room to a comfortable temperature.)

Of course, the biggest question on my mind is... do I want steak or shrimp for dinner? ^^;

Looking back at one of my older entries...

(Voice in head says: "With YOUR spending habits? HAH! That money won't last a month!")

That's definitely self-fulfilling prophecy there. =p

(Yeah, I wanted to write a longer entry, but that's all I got. I'll do more journal-type stuff later. =p)

Posted at 05:05 AM | Comments (1)

October 05, 2004
Done for now...

After a little more mucking around inside the case, I got the power LED working - another inspection of the mobo layout revealed there was a second power LED header that had the required 3-pin layout. Why they didn't just leave 3 slots on the system header, I don't know... So, now the power LED is back on and ready to once again blind me at night. =p

Killed the onboard audio and installed the SB Live! Value, which really did improve sound quality... a lot. It really says something about the quality of the AC97 when an older SB Live! Value blows it out the water in... well, everything. I lost the ability to use the case's front audio ports in making this switch, but no big loss. It's not really that much effort to just lean over and reach for the back of the case, especially since I'm not using that full-size tower anymore. =p

So, until I can afford some more hardware, I'm done for now. The only things left to do, money permitting, is to get a new video card (which, since I'll need to capture, will almost certainly be an ATI All-In-Wonder 9600) and possibly deal with the noise. Yes, the computer still sounds like a jet engine. I've managed to narrow down the major noisemaker to the Thermaltake CPU fan. I have the option of either getting a larger fan and adapting the current heatsink to fit, or just getting a new HSF altogether...

I'm also, once again, blanking out on apps I could need. (I still don't have Photoshop or Office, but I didn't have those things before either.)

I also wish Windows file/printer sharing wasn't a piece of crap.

Oh yeah, and I pretty much bombed the Art History quiz I had today, because I didn't get a chance to study for it the whole weekend. Argh.

Posted at 04:22 AM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2004

(Yes, this is another dupe from LJ. I'll get back into regular journal writing soon-ish, but I'm dealing with back-to-back exams at the moment.)

With much help from Josh yesterday, the PC seems to be up and running. The replacement mobo didn't display the random flakiness of the one I got in the first place.

Of course, I haven't updated to WinXP SP2 because there's apparently a problem with USB2 controllers using VIA chipsets that causes them to vanish from the system with no way of reenabling them once you update to SP2. Looks like I'll have to wait until a fix for that problem is done before I upgrade...

Aside from a new mobo and a different CPU (now using an Athlon XP 1700+ rather than an Athlon Thunderbird 1.4ghz), I also ended up putting in a Plextor PX-712A to supplement the Pioneer DVR-106D. I haven't tried burning anything yet, but the Plextor really does dwarf the Pioneer in many ways (not surprising since the Pioneer drive is much older). I'm also no longer using the PCI IDE controller, which did cause a bit of a problem with the 250gb HDD - which I'm still not quite sure is working properly. (I didn't think I'd run into LBA48 problems with a brand new mobo...) A few files got corrupted before I tried installing an updated IDE driver (which doesn't show up in Device Manager for some reason), but I haven't run into problems with it since.

I also need to do some more tests on the mobo's onboard sound (a C-Media AC97 chipset, apparently) before I decide to keep using that, or to go ahead and put the SB Live! back in.

The only other minor issue is that the power LED connector didn't fit the mobo - the mobo only has 2 pins for that for some reason, when the connector is 3 pins. Other than that, I'm just dealing with having to reinstall and re-register all my software again. I'm also going to need to pick up a new video card in the near future, as this is (probably) a loaner. (Thankfully, I'll just be going from one ATI card to another, and ATI's drivers have been unified for quite some time...)

Posted at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)