Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My Dog

He's the one who bit my toenail off (read below)

His name is Toad. Doesn't look so vicious when he's all sleepy like that does he?

Comment On Another Blog

Read the original post from the original blogger here:

Shannon's Blog

But if you don't want to do that, here is my response. I thought it was Blog-Worthy

Lonely is as Lonely does. . .

Now I am gonna come in here and kick all you losers while you're down.

Don't you know that lonliness is just about attitude? You just have to believe that people are interested in you and will fullfull all of your interpersonal needs - it will happen for you.


Sometimes I think I was more lonely before I got married (5 yrs ago) and sometimes I think I am more lonely now.

Before marriage, I had a lot of time to seek out different relationships. I had the energy to work on those relationships and experience the different kinds of interaction that went along with them, but there was never anyone there to really share in my experiences and care about my life the way I do. There was never anyone who was always "on my side" (for lack of a better cliche).

Now that I am married, my wife provides a constant support. She is "on my side," gives me a lot of strength, and helps me to never feel completely alone.

But I don't have the time and energy I had when I was single to develop relationships with people who are different than my wife. I also don't really think it is appropriate for me to develop any relationships with other women, so "the field" of friends is cut in half, and the time (and don't forget energy cause marriage is hard) I have to spend out there is reduced by even more.

I think we've all got to cope with some level of lonliness in life. The French are experts in this. If you want to see a bunch of lonely people, go live in France for a few years. They all seem to embrace the fact that they are all alone in eternity and nothing can change that.

In fact, I realized reading your post that since I got back from France I don't really think about being lonely as much. I've seen another level of despair, and I realized that I am just not playing with the same deck of sadness as some others.

There are a lot of things that contribute to that. Family, environment, Christianity. . .

I think this is one of the obvious areas of my life where It is a big advantage to be a Christian. Ultimately we are never alone as Christians.

I never really understood the opposite of that proposition before I was a missionary in France. No one is fooling themselves over there. They almost all think (when they die) they are going straight into the ground and never coming out.

And they've made peace with it.

Kinda makes you want to only work 35 hours a week and take 5 weeks of vacation doesn't it.

Micronics M54hi Plus Motherboard Assembly

I had this old board and didn't even know if it would work. A friend of mine asked me if I had an old computer he could use to play Privateer II, and I went into action.

Link to original Privateer from

I've never played Privateer or Privateer II, but they are cousins to my beloved Wing Commander series of games, and I deemed it worthy of a construction project.

If you are searcing for info on this motherboard, you will find these links very useful:

Micronics Manuals
M54Hi Plus .pdf Manual
M54Hi Plus Diagram and Specs

They are links to manuals and diagrams that detail the various options and operating procedures for the M54hi Plus Motherboard.

This weekend I assembled this motherboard with the following specs (pretty much maxed out).

166 Mhz CPU
512 KB Cache Ram (external in this era)

I find the instructions that usually come with motherboards to be excellent. The steps are simple:

1. Correctly insert the CPU (processor) and set any appropriate jumpers
2. Insert Memory
3. Attach to Case

1. You have to be careful that you put the processor in at the right orientation. Some sockets will only take the CPU one way while on others you need to watch out for a small arrow or dot on one of the corners. That marks PIN 1, and there will be a corresponding mark on the MoBo socket. Put those two marks together or the CPU won't work.

2. Insert Memory - probably the easiest upgrade or computer building step there is. Pretty much the only thing to mention here is don't force it. Be sure the memory you are using fits the slot available. I get the DIMM, SIMM, DRAM, SDRAM designations mixed up. Just be sure that the memory you are using will fit. You can just eyeball it most of the time.

3. There are a couple of tricky things about attaching the MoBo to the case.

a. Be sure that the metal that sticks out of the back of the board doesn't touch the case metal. This will cause the board to ground out (or something) and it just won't work. Don't worry though, if you did this than the board probably isn't broken. Most boards have a "spacer" of some type that prevents this from happening - use it.

b. The screws you use to attach the board to the case can't extend beyond the metal area around the screw hole. This will be obvious if you're looking at a board, and it would be hard to find a screw that big, but this will also cause the board to ground out.

c. You must attach the power supply correctly. Power supplies can only attach to the board in one way. In other words, you can't really screw it up unless you try really hard. Older AT boards can be a bit trickier. When attaching an AT power supply, make sure the black wires are next to each other and you will be fine.

After successfully attaching the M54hi+ to its case, I:

I. Inserted a PCI video card
II. Plugged in a PS/2 keyboard using a small AT to PS/2 adapter (the only connector on the board was a single AT style port)
III. Hooked up all my various storage devices (Drives)
IV. Installed Windows 98

The only problem is that there is no way to attach a mouse (or anything) to this machine right now. This is a major setback to playing Privateer.

I've purchased these items to help with this problem, and they should clear it up.

Then I can move on to another nerd project. I'll keep you updated.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Ever Googled Yourself?

Of course you have . . .

I thought this was particularly interesting

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Search for a Replacement CMOS Battery

This is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night. Seriously!

I can't get stupid things like repairing my old worthless computer out of my head and yet I can't remember to call my neice on her birthday. Ugh


Call it an RTC battery, Call it a CMOS battery, If you found this post and don't know me then you are probably pulling your hair our trying to find ways to get an old machine stop giving you a "real-time clock" error. I will use the terms RTC and CMOS battery interchangeably. If you know the difference, please post a comment explaining as much.

The "real-time clock" is a clock kept in your computer's BIOS. It doesn't really have much to do with your operating system, but is kept in memory on your motherboard. The mother (aka "main") board also stores some basic input/output system (BIOS) info that is critical to the operation of your computer.

The issue that arises is that the board needs power independent of the ac power source to store this information. So your computer has a small lithium battery that provides enough juice to the motherboard to retain that info in memory when you turn off or un-plug your computer.

So what happens to a lithium battery after about 10 to 12 years? It dies.

A CMOS bat on an old machine I keep around died, and I had to go about the process of learning how to replace it.

Now, I knew what an RTC battery was, so I knew what to look for and how to start the process of replacing it.

First it is important to note that your operating system will probably never report a CMOS problem. You will see error messages before you get into Windos, Mac OS, or whatever. These pop up on the bios boot screen. You will have seen one if you've every tried to start your PC without a keyboard attached, or started your pc with a "non-system disk" in the floppy drive.

If you get an error message like "RTC is out of sync, CMOS checksum error, or (duh) replace CMOS battery" you might have a need to replace your CMOS battery.

On most recent computers, this is a super easy fix, but it does require you to open the case and not break anything on the inside of your PC. If you aren't comfortable with that, just take you computer to a repair shop. Its pretty much always a good idea to take your laptop to an experienced repairperson, unless you don't care if you break it. Laptops are more difficult to disassemble and repair, but it can be done sucessfully.

So for not-a-laptop, you will want to figure out what kind of motherboard you've got. The link below is a sort of gateway to a gallery of older MoBo's. If you can't ID your MoBo just from looking at it, take a peek at this site and try and find yours by simple recognition.

You will also sometimes be able to ID the Motherboard from the information that is displayed on screen when your computer first boots up.

The RTC battery usually looks like a coin and lays horozontally on the MoBo. Sometimes they are suspended on legs but usually they sit in a holder soldered to positive and negative poles on the board. If you see a coin thingy about quarter-sized in a holder, you are in good shape. There should be a way to pop it out and put a new one in. If that is the case, you're set. You'll find a replacement by checking the numbers on the old battery. Find your replacement on-line. Its out there somewhere and that is probably what a repair shop would do anyway.

Occasionally the battery is solderd to the board. This presents a bit more of a problem. If your battery is soldered down and you can't use your computer anymore because of it, consider throwing it in a nearby dumpster. Its probably 10 years old anyway. If you're like me and you just can't part with it yet, you'll have to do a bit more work.

I was personally dealing with an old Packard Bell Legend 10CD. Its a 486 with the PB450 MoBo. My RTC battery was the Rayovac 3V BR1225. It was suspended horozontally above the board and the legs were soldered onto the board.

I found the part (with legs) on-line fairly easily, but I don't have any soldering equipment, so I searched for another solution. After some reading, it became obvious that it didn't matter what battery I used as long as I hooked it up correctly and it produced 3V of output.

Now the makers of this and other old boards were wise enough to give me a way out without any soldering. They left me a 4-pin jumper that works as an input to the CMOS memory. It is there specifically as a way to replace the RTC battery without soldering.

Instead of ordering an expensive (and potentially non-existant) external lithium CMOS battery, and instead of ruining my computer by f'ing up the solder-job. I chose to buy a AAA battery holder from Radio Shack for $1.69. I then took the 4 pin connector of an internal CD audio cable and fastened it onto the positive an negative wires (red = +) coming out of the battery holder.

I checked my MoBo specs and pluged the 3v battery pack (1 AAA battery = 1.5v) up to the board (connecting red to pin 1 is almost always the rule) and to my relief it worked. Now that old 486 turned 586 is working again and it only cost me $1.69 and 2 AAA batteries.

And that is pretty much what I did yesterday.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Too Long for "About Me"

More and more I find myself retreating to science as a captivating effort into which I can pour myself.

My interest in Politics and Religion has been waning for quite some time, basically because I never meet anyone who actually agrees with me when dealing with such subjective topics.

Instead, I've buried myself in computers. Science and Math are objective and there is less disagreement when discussing such matters. Plus I never really lose myself in anything quite like I do trying to rebuild an old PC or write a simple program that draws a bunch of asterix in the shape of a diamond.

I'm captivated.

That said, I like to talk about just about everything. I'm smart and I know it (minus spelling errors) so I can pretty much carry any conversation.

I lived in France for 3 years and speak French.

Friday, October 14, 2005

High School Reunion

A popular topic of conversation in my tribe these days is the 10 year high school reunion. I had mine last year and we went to my wife's just this past summer.

I actually wrote this post like 3 months ago but never came back to it and now it is lost, so this one is like an homage to the one that got away.

Basically my wife and I were confronted with the old High School stereotypes, and it makes me realize just how much better we know ourselves now.

In High School, I managed to stand out and not feel inferior to the "Cool" kids. Somehow I figured out that I really didn't want to be like them anyway. At first I was outcast and perhaps mocked, but by my Senior year, I was respected as an individual. I never really did "buy-in" the way some kids do to HS which I think kept me living in the future (instead of the present) somehow. I think I missed out on some good times that way.

Most of you reading this are probably thinking that I was the dork who was just really into his own little world and had no clue what people were thinking about him.


My wife went to a much more traditional HS than me, and dealt with much more traditional feelings of inadequacy as a result. She dipped back into those feelings at the reunion and frankly how could you not. People not talking to you when you know exactly who they are . . . Does that happen to you anymore?

I tried to cheer my wife up by convincing her that we reject people all the time. As adults when we see someone we know that we don't want to talk to, we just have the shortest conversation possible and move on. We are just as snobby and selective (as the "Cool") about who we talk to, and she just needs to convince herself that those "Cool" people from HS are in the group of people we don't want to talk to. Turn the tables on those jokers.

That is what I did back then and it is what I do now - which makes me sound cruel.

I guess I am a little cruel, but come on. Everyone on this planet knows someone that has rejected them and everyone has also rejected someone. I guess the problem comes in when you are convinced that you belong in a group that has rejected you.

I've always combatted that by evaluating what it was I REALLY wanted. When I thought about it in HS, I didn't REALLY want to be accepted by "Cool" people, I wanted to be unique, intelligent, righteous, and well, me.

I wanted to be me! I REALLY didn't/don't wish I was someone else, and I think that is the heart of the issue. People don't want to be themselves.

I guess one makes peace with that with age and you just get to know yourself better. But there isn't anything like the HS reunion to bring those old feelings out again.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My Head Posted by Picasa

Blog Blog Blog


I do this against my will . . .

I don't really like blogging. I think it is boring. Most of my friend's blogs are really uninteresting and I think these entries I write are as well.

I love how people get offended when you haven't read their blog. Like you should be soooo interested in them that you rush to the computer to find out what they were thinking 36 hours ago.

I think blogging is one of those things that most people seem to find really interesting, but for whatever reason, I'm not wired for it. I don't journal, I don't read (retired), I pretty much think while talking all of the time, so why would I waste my time talking to no one and everyone at the same time. I can't get any thinking done that way.

I am also a hypocrite.

Something else

There are sports that I pretend not to like but really do. Hockey would be first on that list. I like hockey. I can't skate and have never even once in my life been invited to play hockey. It just doesn't come up when it is 80 degrees in February 1/3 of the time.

But lets face it. Hockey is fun. Well I guess I need to face it not you. I'll face it - Hockey is fun!

After living in Europe for 3 years, I appreciate hockey as "Soccer with Goals." When was the last time there was a 0-0 tie in hockey? It just doesn't happen.

I am an all around sports fan. Recently it seems like I am encountering people who like sports OR live music. Personally I've given up liking live music. I get invited all of the time, but am never really excited about it.

Invite me to a meaningless SMU v Tulsa football game and I will be excited, but I don't really even want to go to a concert when I know the guys in the band. I even had a chance to go back stage and meet Dwight Yokum last weekend and I passed.

I feel liberated in this realization - as if a weight has been lifted. I don't have to pretend to like something just cause I think I am expected to.

Plenty will think I am stupid for this and some may decide not to like me anymore. I guess I'll have to overcome that and go on with my no-live-music life.

Weekend News

September 12

This weekend I drank too much while playing Canasta with some couple friends of ours. Not REALLY too much, but just enough that I had a headache when I woke up on Saturday. It was fun though. Its really the third time in 2 weeks that we've gotten together with them.

Canasta is a fun card game that your grandmother might know how to play if you ask her. Or you can call me up and schedule a time to play.

The Saturday morning headache set the tone for the whole day - we sat around watching TV, playing computer games, and doing various clean-up chores. The good part of that is we didn't spend a penny all weekend, but we barely left the apartment.

Sunday night L and I went to Reunion area here in our fair city of Dallas, TX where we helped with child care for some of the families displaced from Katrina. It was humbling as we saw almost the entire floor of Reunion packed with Nat'l Guard cots. NO PRIVACY.

Playing with the kids was fun and pretty easy. I'll probably end up going next Sunday night as well.

One thing that occured to me while we were there was that if you had some kind of addiction to alcohol or drugs or whatever before the hurricane, you'd be going cold turkey right now. I am sure that the full time relief personnel are having to deal with a lot of that. Also, if your marraige was not in good shape, I'm sure spending a few weeks with 1500 of your not so closest friends would not do anything to make it better.

Dog Bite

August 24

The dog bit me on Saturday night. It was bad!

I was resting my foot on him kind of petting him with my heal when I decided to leave my foot on him.

I don't know really what happened next, but he must of moved so that I pressed on his sensitive, hip-displaced, hind area. He wheeled around and bit my big toe with all the ferocity that he could muster.

For those of you who are worried about the dog taking off my entire foot, know that my dog is a 17 pound Shih-Tzu named "Toad." I think that his mouth is probably just big enough to grab my whole big toe - and that is what he did.

The most disgusting part of the story is coming next - are you ready?

He popped off the toenail!

We went to the emergency room after much freaking out where they just yanked and pulled of the very delicately still-attached nail. That actually didn't hurt - it was already way too far gone.

They cleaned me up, gave me some antibiotic shots, x-rayed me, and when we knew there was no break (or embedded teeth which the x-ray tech told me she always checks for) we headed to the pharmacy to pick up some amox. and begin grieving for my poor lost toenail.

Here is where I need to hear from you. Have you ever lost a nail? People tell me that they often grow back differently and sometimes don't grow back at all. What has been your experience? Leave me a message here at Hi5 or write to me at

Pay the Bills

August 11

Things have gotten very money conscious lately as Laura is starting grad school next week. I'm eating a lot of freezer trash for lunch (instead of going out), and trying not to go to places that have things I want to buy.

Family issues have been more than ordinary lately. A few weeks ago my nephew had heart surgery. He's 3 and this surgery has been scheduled basically from birth. I've never really dealt with anything like this first hand, but I'll just say that it was difficult for his parents to listen to him scream and complain about pain as the doctor pulled a drainage tube from the fluid area around his heart. To be powerless as a parent is beyond difficult.

My sister's adopted drug baby will have similar issues as she grows. She's only 1 now, but to give you an idea of her progress, they just removed her feeding tube during the day. She still wears it at night, and just doesn't like to eat very much. She gives the "All Done" sign in baby sign language after one bite of regular food.

My neice and nephew are of different parents so these health issues are happening at opposite ends of the family. Somewhere in between are Laura and I who can't really picture kids in our future no matter how hard we try.

Work has been pretty good this week. Its nice to feel like you're in the middle of something important. I've been a key player in a few new business opportunities which I think have taught me a lot and have been really engaging. I hope there is more on the way.


July 15

I got my DVR working great! I switched to using an application called SageTV. I highly recommend it as it has cleared up all the problems I was experiencing before.

I've got it so I can access my DVR remotely from work in case I want to update the recording schedule etc.

Also, I can run the captured programs on any of the computers in my workgroup from their location. Laura and I watched an episode of resucue me on a laptop in bed Wed night, and I didn't have to move it to the local machine.

All very cool!

I'm wrapping up an IT class on Windows Infrastructure. Interesting stuff - not sure how I'll use it.

I finally got a digital camera, so I'll be able to update the zero people who look at this page with more pics of me.

Technical Developments

June 28

I put the finishing touches on my own DVR or TiVo style box this weekend. I'm using:

Intel 1Ghz CPU
768 MB RAM
160 GB HD

And the WinTV-PVR350 tuner card

Been having some serious issues with the 350. Lots of freeze ups during playback - kinda blows since I paid $170 for the thing (just the card).

I'm using the GB-PVR software for windows which is good - aside from the freeze-ups. Its free anyway.

In other news, I got a new message from a Hi5 member in Quebec. Looking forward to e-mailing in French.

I used to live near Paris

Whats With all the Rebates?

June 20

I've sent in a ton of rebates recently. I am a pretty organized guy, but the elaborate lengths that you have to go through to fulfill some of these rebates seems pretty outrageous.

The worst so far is for L and my mobile phones: $25 cash back for each phone, but I have to send in the 5th month's bill from the start of service, including all the original documentation that came with the phones. I've kept up with it and am ready to send my info in next month, but jeez!

Another favorite is when you get $20 in rebates but they are divided between 2 seperate $10 rebates (Thank you Linksys).

I wonder how companies make money on rebates. I've heard that the non-fulfillment rate is close to 70%! If anyone has data on this, I'd be interested to know.

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