Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nanu Nanoo Nanowrimo

NaNoWriMo (National Nobody Writes Month?) is on and although I'm not entered into that fine group of folks and have no intent to crank out a 50000 word novella this month, I thought I'd use their inspiration as my own (albeit 19 days late) and try and crank out a blog-a-day for 30 days.

This idea came to me yesterday so I'm counting my start date as 2009-11-19. (And unsuprisingly, I already have another thought to blog so want to get "mental" credit for two consecutive days.)

Oh and for those of you dereferencing the title, here's the obligatory Mork &Mindy links:

... and, jftr, it's National Novel Writing Month--not really Nobody Writes Month.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Laptop Display Attracts Flies

Okay, I've not heard of anyone else complaining of this--but my laptop screen REALLY attracts flies. I've never had a machine do that before. (This is probably my 15-20th different laptop.)

This particular unit is an HP Mobile Workstation, the HP EliteBook 8530w. It's a very nice machine--it just has this one peculiarity.

I'm blogging this primarily for folks to weigh in if they have seen something similar. Please email me or post against this blog entry if you are having a similar problem (with any notebook or laptop or netbook.) Thanks.

Now, where did I leave that swatter.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Middle of Nowhere

I took the MiFi to PhilBurn Pharms, northwest of Albin, WY. Yes, this is one of those middle of nowhere places.

I set up the MiFi in the detached garage and got a very nice EV-DO signal--1Mb down, 400 Kb up. More than sufficient for this type of remote access. However, I noticed the signal / connection varied a lot depending on unknown factors (though potentially my location with respect to the MiFi.)

After the successful garage test, I tried to connect to the MiFi's wifi router from the house. There are 50 yards are so from the house to the garage. No joy. My laptop couldn't make a solid connection to the Verizon SSD over that distance. I then repositioned the MiFi within the garage trying to get a connection to the house. No location provided a connection.

The next step was to try the MiFi itself in the house. The MiFi never saw an EVDO signal. I could generally get a low grade 1xRTT signal (19-90k at times), but that is no better than dial up (which is already available in the house.)

The garage is situated south of the house on slightly higher ground. Anecdotally, some folks were able to get cell phone coverage on the south end of the house or on the porch steps at the south end of the house. So I next positioned the MiFi on the Southeast corner of the roof of the house. Bingo. This provided an EV-DO connection (albeit somewhat slower than the garage's connection.) It also was a bit flakier than the garage connection. I might get an EV-DO signal long enough to run a test but then have it decay to 1xRTT immediately thereafter. (The signal type is reported by the MiFi web gui.)

I then proceeded to try the other three corners of the house and the ridgeline on the north and south sides of the house--no joy. Only the southeast corner of the roof would pickup a signal. Also, it seemed vary dependent on how the MiFi was oriented. No signal at all at times and a flakey signal at best. At this point, I tried to regain a strong signal in the garage. No luck. It appears to be very, very transient and spotty. Here is the Verizon wireless coverage map. Select Broadband and V-CAST and see what coverage is near Albin, WY. Lot's of pockets where there is no connection and nothing much north of Albin more than a mile or so.

It's also difficult to assess where there cell towers might be located as there is no clearly defined direction from the map.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

MiFi -- Wifi via EVDO

Well, nothing but kudos for the folks at Novatel and Verizon Wireless for coming out with the MIFI 3G Hotspot. Works like a champ here at my office and at my home. The real test will be the middle of nowhere. I'll give an update then.

The short story is: works as advertised. It does seem to require Windows or Mac to perform the initial activation via USB but works fine providing WiFi and DHCP afterwards. (It will connect wifi prior to being activated, but you have no uplink.) Also, you can view some statistics/configuration information via the MiFi's web interface with any device after it gets a dhcp lease.

More about this new toy later.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I don't get the webby awards. I probably never will. There were sooooo many categories I didn't even have the patience to scroll through the list.

The name of one, Wordle, did intrigue me. By referencing this blog, it generated the following image:

Wordle: dowdberry

Thursday, April 2, 2009

HP delivers!

I don't often (ever?) blog about HP, but just today they did something blog-worthy. My son has a 2510p laptop. It started making a really weird noise a week or so ago. I found out about it a week ago. It was clearly a hardware problem related to the fan. (It sounded like a cross between a dying cow mooing and a sheep bleating.)

We called HP support. We bought the laptop with a 3 year extended warranty. Their voice menu sent us to hold but after about 6 minutes a human answered. I described the problem and offered to boot up the laptop so she could hear it. Upon hearing the fan noise, she immediately said "Yep, that's a hardware problem. I'm overnighting you a shipping container. We'll have it back to you in a week."

HP had it back in less than a week. Nice. That this came on the heals of a fiasco with my neice's Acer Aspire laptop (which is essentially a brick now) made it even sweeter. Thanks HP.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mouse Traps Man

We live on the outskirts of town, not far from the mountains in Colorado. We've seen deer, fox, elk, etc in the neighborhood and in our own backyard. Once, I even saw a bear cub. Of course, we're somewhat urban as well, so we also have our share of squirrels. Moreover, there are lots and lots of bunnies in our neighborhood and as a result there are also reports occasionally of mountain lions.

However, I've never heard of any of these critters ever attacking people. Perhaps they might attack the occasional dog or cat. And, I certainly wouldn't have my toddler playing outside after dark upon reports of a cougar sighting.

Now however, there has been one report of dangerous animals: mice. Mice, a general nuisance and sometimes a public health hazard, are not known to take down humans. Sure, I've had my finger nibbled on in the middle of the night--a most disturbing phenomenon. But hardly life threatening. Today however, I went to check the traps distributed throughout our house as we've been seeing/hearing mice again for a few days. (They are driven indoors during the winter.) At last, we've killed one with the classic claptrap, spring-loaded mousetrap. I finish my cup of coffee and prepare to haul the critter to the trash. I grab an empty plastic grocery sack (classic re-use) and pick up the mouse, trap and all and head for the dumpster in the garage...

and it starts moving...

I nearly have a heart attack. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm prone to being easily startled. Seriously, I thought I was going to die from the fright. I could see it now, in the Rodent Reporter:
Mouse Traps Man

In local news, a mouse named Lazarus gave his all for the cause today. He, a longtime resident in Loveland, CO, trapped and killed a man today. He feigned his own death by deliberately catching himself in a mousetrap. However, he did so in such a way that he was not mortally wounded. Then, he waited for the unsuspecting homeowner to return home. He lay very, very still, in classic dead mouse fashion--akin to an opossum. As the homeowner proceeded to dispose of this "dead" mouse, Lazarus begin wriggling and moving... triggering a fatal heart attack in the startled homeowner.

Sadly, Lazarus did not survive the incident. The homeowner crushed Lazarus as he fell to the floor. And from this, the second "death" of Lazarus, he would not arise.

Lazarus is survived by an unknown number of kin. Funeral arrangements are being made by Waste Management of Northern Colorado. There will be no viewing. In lieu of flowers, please send cheese to your favorite charity in Lazurus' name.