A long week, a late night, and so much to write...

Jul 23, 2007

Well, let me see... it's been interesting times the past couple of days, which has left me precious little time to write about what's actually been going on with my day to day life lately.

First off, early last week Alphonse Elric, Lyssa's primary machine and workstation at home packed it in. One moment he was cunching merrily away, the next utterly locked up. No amount of rebooting or jiggling was able to bring him back online, though we did notice that the components inside of his silver chassis (as well as the exhaust fans and chassis itself) were horribly dirty, and caked with dirt the likes of which I don't think anyone has seen outside of a flood cleanup. Working on the theory that the graphics card had died a horrible heat-related death, I swapped in a spare the next day, and managed to boot Alphonse for a couple of seconds. Just a couple of seconds - we got to drive detection, and then nothing.

In the end, Lyssa and I determined that Alphonse's mainboard had died, which is a simple enough fix given enough time. We headed down to the local Micro Center outlet to buy a new three-pack of canned air, a new mainboard, and while I was at it a 1 GB memory upgrade for Windbringer. It took us the better part of three hours to dismantle Alphonse, clean absolutely everything we could with isopropyl alcohol and non-static wipes, and replace the mainboard. Before setting out to tackle this task, I hooked the primary drive up to Leandra with a nifty USB-to-IDE converter and began copying everything that I possibly could off to her storage array for safe keeping.

That night I got to watch something first-hand that I'd only heard about because of the circles I tend to run in: Tech sexism. The phenomenon in which females in a computer store are all but ignored if there is a male with them, on the incorrect assumption that they're the clueless girlfriend along for the ride when in fact they're the ones that're doing the purchasing. They kept deferring to me when I was present, and ignoring Lyssa when I wasn't, but more's the point they kept trying to force upon her gear that she didn't much need, and probably was more expensive than she really needed. Case in point: While looking for an LCD flatpanel to replace the 22" CRT on her desk, they gave her the wrong display without even asking her. The display which, we came to find later, was the cause of her eyestrain and headaches.

Let this be a lesson to everyone out there: Back up your data fully and often. Lyssa was lucky; she didn't lose anything. You might lose all of the data you have.

Alphonse Elric came back up without any trouble. He's still short a drive that I'm duplicating at this time, but that will be fixed soon once it's finished. Lyssa's planning a full reformat and reinstallation of everything in the near future to blow out some of the cruft, and I've suggested using the Unison file synchronizer to maintain backups of everything on Leandra. Now I just need to get two more drives to add to the drive array...

The next day I installed the memory upgrade in Windbringer, who is extremely happy with the new arrangement. Now I can get some use out of machine virtualization software without using up all of the swap space in one go. On Friday evening Lyssa, Laurelinde, and I were supposed to go to the Harry Potter book release party at the Borders' in Tyson's Corner, Virginia. The theme at Borders' was a masquerade ball of some kind - I've not read the Harry Potter books, so I don't know a whole lot about the world of the books aside from the first two movies, but when I hear the word 'masquerade' the first thing I think is cosplay, something that I do know something about.. Lyssa got dressed up in her best unseelie fae gear, with black tie-up bondage jeans, stripey socks, and a gauzy blouse. She also carried with her the magic wand-cane with the silver viper's head handle that Fuscia gave to her for Yule a few years ago, while Laurelinde wore the famed tuxedo coat to the ball.

I decided to go as the other wizard named Harry... Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, from the novels by Jim Butcher. I broke out the Kakadu duster that I've had since high school and scrounged up a pair of jeans, my boots, and a t-shirt that simply read "INNOCENT BYSTANDER".. something that Harry Dresden most definitely isn't, if you've ever read the books. I've always been a fan of Christian McGrath's book covers, so I decided to give him a tip of the pin and wear my leather fedora. I no longer own a wooden staff (which I had to get rid of when I moved to DC), so on my way home that afternoon, I stopped off at a couple of places to see if I could find a hockey stick (a nod to the television series) to stand in its place. No dice. I did, however, pick up a four pack of hickory wood drumsticks (another nod to the series) to carry tucked into my waistband in the same manner that someone might carry a gun without a holster. A single black leather motorcycle glove, a copper chain bracelet, and a borrowed pentacle medallion completed my costume.

Most of the night and all through dinner, no one really looked my way - I was probably just another weirdo running around killing time waiting for the book release party to start... my ego was assuaged later that night when I chanced to hear a couple of high school kids at Borders' say, "Hey.. isn't that Harry Dresden?"

I posed for a couple of action pictures for them for fun. I couldn't resist.

Laurelinde was kind enough to take a few other photographs with my PDA while we were waiting for midnight to strike and the book to be released.

Saturday wound up being a very lazy day - Lyssa and Laurelinde stayed up until 0500 reading while I crashed around 0200. Laurelinde, however, had to get home early because her family was gearing up to go to New York state for a festival, and Cate had made breakfast for everyone, which she said that she'd be there for. Lyssa and I got some long-overdue errands out of the way that afternoon and then spent the rest of the day sitting around relaxing and generally not doing much of anything. I spent a goodly amount of the night working on a new obsession using one of the many USB keys that I have laying around my lab: Live USB keys, or USB pendrives that have entire operating systems installed on them. I'll write more about that later, because I'm rather proud of what I've manged to put together in the past few days.

Sunday was a day where Lyssa stayed at home reading while I finished running errands - stuff like dropping clothes off at Goodwill, checking on Hasufin and Mika's rats while they were out of town, and going grocery shopping. I hacked around some more that night, also, something that I haven't had the energy to do for a while, not since I started my new job.

My new job has kept me busy - much moreso than the contracting gig I had for most of last year and into this year. I don't have much time to write during the day due to my queue of assignments and projects that I have to research or figure out. I've been writing when time permitted, like right now. I've also been lax in keeping up with the usual infosec and political articles that I usually write about in here... for the forseeable future, they have to take backseat to everything else unless something Earth-shattering happens. I've been busy enough outside of work getting ready to be shipped out on assignment for a week that the evenings have been pretty full, also.

Maybe I'll set aside an hour every night to write in here to keep my brain going and my muscles working. I've got a lot of writing projects that I really should be working on, come to think of it.