Sunday, January 01, 2006

Dual New Year's Goodness!

Happy New Year!

Lavie, Alvis and I want to take a moment to wish you a happy New Year!
The dual pictures are in honor of my bro. He came over this weekend and shared some belated Christmas time cheer with our family. In the back of his truck he produced two 19" LDC flatscreen monitors for our pc! Sweet! Words cannot begin to describe the awesome beauty of looking at these two pieces of technology. Awesome!
Our Shuttle pc is running a dual-head Radeon AGP card. The monitors didn't ship with digital cables, so we had to use analog ones. Unfortunately, while the analog output on the Radeon worked, we couldn't get the pc to use both the mainboard's on-board video output and the Radeon's. So I am going to drop by the big-box tech store in town tomorrow and pick up the digital output cable so we can get this puppy out and running! I think I am going to try Ultramon software to manage both monitors. I've tried the Windows XP one at work but was left feeling a little bit frustrated. Ultramon seems to have gotten some very good feedback. I'll let you know.
While not nearly as Japanese style living as we would like, we did practice a little of their New Year's customs this weekend. We did some light housecleaning. I swept up all the leaves on the porch and doorway rock garden. We put away some odds and ends and tossed some things. Blue Lotus has some beautiful pictures on her site that really inspired me to get busy. The picture to the left is a Shimekazari. These are usually hand-made wreaths that adorn the doorways in Japan to welcome in the spirits. I didn't make one, but next year...Another tradition Blue Lotus mentions is the custom of sending New Year's day cards to family and loved ones. Lavie and I plan to break out the stamps and get creative!
We planned on taking the bro out to lunch at the local Japanese restaurant, but it ended up being closed. Duh. Japanese holiday and everything. So we changed gears and ate at an American Institution known as Chili's. Afterwards, we came back checked out some new FPS's that bro. had. Alvis tried to stomp him bad in Grand Turismo 4 on her PS2. We introduced him to Katamari as well. Finally we finished off with a nice romantic movie called Appleseed, where the heroine works to discover her inner spirit and place in the world. Oh, yeah! It's got battles, combat, mecha, a Blade-Runner futurism, and did I mention, guns, more mecha and wicked bad helicopters that would make Major Motoko jealous...but it does have a romantic theme. Really. Kinda....a little bit....
I got our router up running successfully. I went with a 4-port D-Link DI-604 model. I had a few false starts, but got it up and running well. I also had picked up the same model for my father-in-law. He is on DSL and it took a little bit more fiddling to get it to work. The manual says to set it up with PPPoE settings for DSL users, but that didn't all. Finally I gave up on the manual and got it to work perfectly with plain old Dynamic IP . Now he and his son can run both their pc's on the net and don't have to keep coordinating the cable swap. Sweet. Oh yeah. We decided that his circa 1994 Gateway 333Mhz Celeron pc with massive 6GB hdd running Win98 was not going to survive much longer into the new year. So after much deliberation, we ordered him up a new Dell. Sweetness. It should arrive after next weekend. We'll drop his whomping 6GB hdd in the new Dell, do a data copy, then move this relic into the kitchen/study and load MEPIS on it for them to use as an internet browsing station.

The arrival of the "twins" as they are now known here in the Valca home along with the establishment of a network capability, meant that I could now get Alvis's pc up and running full speed. I moved our 1-year old 17" CRT monitor to her pc and found out that Overclockix didn't like the monitor's screen refresh rate. At all. Period. It refused to display. The old Dell monitor worked, but no amount of monitor setting adjustment would allow the display to kick in. I guess if I was more of a Linux head I could have worked it out, but all my Linux books are at work. So I just tried several Live Linux CD's I had until I found one that played well. Ended up installing MEPIS on her hard drive instead. It worked flawlessly. In about 30 min. I had installed a new OS, configured her desktop and profile, got the firewall working on it, and downloaded a new Firefox 1.5 version for Linux. Easy-Peasy! She loves it. It is fast and plays great.
Tech snacks for the New Year:
The news on the Microsoft WMF exploit hasn't been very good. It continues to be unpatched and more new versions of the exploit are popping up all over the place. NPR did a really good general news story about the issue. Head over there and give it a quick listen if you aren't too technically savvy. More info over at SunbeltBlog with a link to test file to see if your system is vulernable as well as an unofficial patch that has been checked and validated by Steve Gibson over at GRC. That's good enough for me right now. I've got it installed on my XP SP2 Home system.
What my Shuttle PC dreams about when it has been very good. Link
What my Shuttle PC dreams about when it has been very bad. Link
Free FOXIT READER for PDFs--also allows you to type in them so great for filling out forms that were formatted in PDF.
Wallpaper Goodness:
WallpaperStock continues to outdo themselves. They have had some really awesome wallpapers of the Vista theme. I can't get enough of these! Keep 'em coming! Their site has been running a bit slow on the page services lately. I can only hope this is due to an increase in visitors.

Also, the bro. collects coins. Here is a beauty of a desktop from WallpaperStock of German 2 Euro coins. The metallic colors against the dark reddish background field is stunning.
Time for bed. Got to go read the nightly installment of HP-POA. Harry is about to get his new Firebolt! Ohhhh.
See you in the New Year's Skies!

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