Some musings on the past and future of humanity

Just as I was laying down in bed, I had an interesting thought.

Imagine a future world (centuries or millenia from now) where the majority of people are what we currently classify as having Asperger syndrome. Based on what I see, I think this is a very possible outcome.

In this hypothetical reality, a person who is considered normal today would seem like a psychic, because they would be a lot better at reading emotions than everyone else.

Now think about rewinding the clock a similar amount of time in the other direction.

Could it be possible that what we currently imagine as “normal” today was viewed as a complete abnormality in that time, and that maybe people with what we consider paranormal ability was once the baseline?

The evolution of the races in Tolkien’s literary world seems to fit this idea.

the paris tragedy and the second amendment

One of the comments I read in the wake of the tragedy in Paris can be essentially boiled down to this: “France has strict gun control, and this STILL happened.  Gun control doesn’t work.”  Another is “If regular citizens had guns, they would have stopped these attacks.”


On the gun control topic:

There is one aspect of the viewpoint expressed above that I can agree with: Criminals and determined individuals will always find a way to obtain guns.  Making them illegal will not stop this from happening.

Tragedies like what happened in Paris today are extremely common in the US.  They are NOT common in France.  I do not have access to any statistics, but I would imagine that the time between incidents for them is usually years, while in this country, the time between incidents is measured in weeks, sometimes days.

I am not proposing that we repeal the second amendment.  I do not think that would be possible at the moment, and may not EVER be possible.  Guns are a significant part of American culture, and they probably always will be.

Although we will never prevent guns from being acquired illegally, I think that more should be done to ensure that only responsible and sane people are allowed to obtain them legally, and that legal acquisition should involve just enough red tape so that it’s not possible for otherwise law-abiding people to buy a gun on a whim and go on a shooting spree.  I do not know what these laws should look like, but I think we need them.

In some American locales, the laws which govern alcohol and tobacco are far more restrictive than those which govern firearms.  This seems backwards to me.

Let me restate something I already said above:  I know without a doubt that if somebody is willing to break the law, nothing will prevent them from getting a gun … but if obtaining one legally involves more than an hour-long visit to a Walmart, some of our mass shootings might not have happened.


On the topic of armed citizens stopping an armed attacker:

This is the promise that American gun enthusiasts make:  If I’m around when the fit hits the shan, I’m going to take down that bad guy and everyone will be safe.

I don’t know how many mass shooters (or potential mass shooters) have been stopped by an armed citizen, but I doubt it’s a significant percentage.

Some of our armed citizens have military or police expericence, but I would imagine that most of them have had no real training on how to deal with an armed attacker.  Do we really want to have an already volatile situation with a lot of innocent people to be complicated by *more* bullets?

Machines just got workins’ and they talk to me

The post title is a quote from Firefly, by the young female ship’s mechanic, Kaylee. It’s exactly how I feel about computers.

A car, particularly the engine, is a complex system, just like a computer and its software. They have both evolved quite a bit from their origins, but they follow the same basic principles established when they were first invented.

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I am a computer guy. I do enjoy a bit of car repair, and I find that most of the systems in a car are not all that hard to comprehend. I wonder how many experienced car mechanics have a similar love and skill with computers (beyond playing games and surfing the internet).

An interesting realization:  In both cars and computers, sometimes the reason for a particular design choice is “Because that’s the way we’ve done it for the past 40 years.”

my lakeside trout fishing rig

This post is all about my trout rig, which allows one to fish for rainbow trout with bait that floats up from the bottom of the lake.  When my wife and I started using this rig, we went from getting skunked frequently to being part of the 10% of fisherman that catch 90% of the fish. Often, after someone fishes next to us and has no luck, they’ll come over, say that powerbait isn’t working for them, and ask “what bait are you using to catch so many fish?” If they aren’t too proud to give it a try, they’ll wander away and start catching fish.  Even people that have decades of experience are sometimes really amazed by the difference it makes.

I’ve tried to be as clear as possible in this post, but nothing can beat first-hand experience. Just about anyone that I actually know is welcome to come fishing with us and get a first-hand demonstration.

Trout love cold water, so they will most often be near the bottom of the lake. Fishing from the top of the lake requires an entirely different rig, which might be better at night or when it is twilight. The twilight hours at dawn and dusk are when you will find trout at the surface, eating insects.

To make this, you’ll need the following items:

  • A fishing pole strung with 6 or 8 pound test line.
  • A slip float, ideally the exact type shown here. I believe mine is the Thill brand.
  • A hex nut that is just a little bit larger than the shank of the slip float.
  • A roll of plumber’s tape.
  • A barrel sinker, 1/4 to 1/2 ounce. The one in the picture is 1/2 oz, 3/8 is ideal.
  • A spool of 4 pound test fluorocarbon fishing line. You can even use 2 pound test, which is VERY hard for the fish to see, but you’ll have to fight them longer and use a very low drag setting.
  • A small snelled hook. Size 12 or 14 is ideal, but never go larger than about size 8. These are US sizes, no idea what other countries use.

Here’s a photo of the whole rig. This isn’t a realistic version – the leader on the real thing will be MUCH longer, far too long to capture in a photo:

whole-trout-rig

You can see the end of the fishing pole at the far right side of the picture.  The pennies are there for scale purposes.  Apologies to any readers who are not familiar with US currency.  Wikipedia will tell you how big a penny is, which will hopefully also give you an idea of the hook size.

To put this together, start with the slip float.  Wrap plumber’s tape around the lower shank until you’ve got enough so that the hex nut threads will hold their position on the plumber’s tape.  Cover enough of the shank so that you can move the hex nut up or down about a centimeter without losing grip on the threads, then pull the plumber’s tape tight.  This hex nut does two things: 1) It keeps the float vertical in the water so you can see the color. 2) It adds some extra weight for long casts.  When you put the slip float on your fishing line, thread the line through the colored end first, not the white end.

After the slip float goes on, slide a barrel sinker onto the line.  You can use a bullet sinker too.  They don’t work quite as well, and you need to be sure that you put the pointy end on first.  After the sinker, tie the line to the ring end of a snap swivel.  You can use a standard swivel that has rings on both ends, but then you can’t swap out your leader easily.  Use a swivel with a ring that’s large enough so it cannot go through the barrel sinker.

It’s very important that both the sinker and the float can easily move on the line.  It won’t work right if they are fixed in one position. The knot that I use for both swivel and hook is something that I can’t seem to find on the Internet, but I have found a couple of good options:

Eye crosser knot
Improved Clinch knot

Once the swivel is attached to the line with one of the knots above, you’re nearly done, you just need the leader.  Use a length of 4 pound fluorocarbon fishing line for this.  The idea here is to use fishing line that is invisible to the fish, which requires that it be very very thin.  Trout see quite well and are spooked by fishing line.  Using one of the knots above, tie the leader to the hook.  Measure out between 3 and 8 feet of leader, depending on how far up from the bottom your want your bait to float. Use the following knot to create a loop on the end that will attach to the snap swivel:

Surgeon’s Loop

Attach the leader to the snap swivel, bait your hook, and you’re ready to go.  For bait, use rainbow glitter powerbait, and use just enough to cover the hook until it floats.  For a size 12 hook, this is a very small amount of bait:

trout-rig-bait

For casting, I find that a sideways cast works a lot better than an overhand cast.  The goal here is to have your tackle drop to the bottom of the lake, but have your slip float remain at the top of the water.  After you cast, it is a good idea to put a small amount of tension on the advancing line right before the tackle hits the water, so that the line straightens out and the tackle doesn’t get tangled around the float.  You should see additional line go out after the tackle hits the water, showing that it is sinking to the bottom.  After the tackle hits the bottom, reel in a little bit to tighten up your line.  The bait will float up from the bottom several feet (the length of your leader) where the fish can find it. If all goes well, you can leave your tackle out indefinitely.  Unless you are dealing with unusual circumstances, it will stay put and there is no need to continually reel in and cast out.  When a fish strikes, they will be able to easily pull the line through the sinker and the slip float, so they often get themselves hooked before they ever feel any real resistance.

The float is not truly necessary, but it does a couple of things for you aside from adding weight for casting:  You can see your position in the water easily, and when a fish strikes, you’ll very often see your float move across the water or dip below the water.  I tend to watch my fishing line more than the float, though.  If you find that you are getting a lot of tangles when casting that prevent your tackle from going to the bottom, you may need to adjust the vertical position of the nut by turning it a few times.  This affects the overall balance of the tackle and can prevent problems.  After a while, you will need to change out your rig because fishing line does eventually wear out.

This rig requires a relatively low drag setting.  You have at most a four pound pull limit because of the leader, but also remember that even the best fishing knot can only handle about 90 percent of the fishing line’s rating, so figure you only get about 3 pounds of pull before your line breaks and the fish gets away. You can catch very large trout on this rig, but they’ll be able to pull your line out easily, so you’ll have to fight them for a while.

The Walking Dead

Having never seen it, and with so many friends talking about it, we are catching up on The Walking Dead.  Last night we watched episodes 11 and 12 from season 2.  Here are some current thoughts, having not seen the last episode of season 2 or any of season 3. Please don’t give any spoilers. I’ve already had a major spoiler get dropped by Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, don’t need any more. Still wondering when that bomb will go off.

There will be at least one spoiler below, so don’t read on if you aren’t ready.
Continue reading The Walking Dead

Hostile Mode and automatic seat adjusters

First, imagine something that is already a reality … car seats (and other settings) that can automatically adjust themselves to multiple driver preferences. The driver pushes a button, and the seat adjusts itself to a position that is perfect for them. It may also adjust the radio station and presets, environmental settings, etc.

Now imagine that the car has detectors … weight, height, and maybe facial recognition that let it do this automatically, without the button push. As long as the car does not transmit that info to anywhere, I would be okay with that.

For the last part, imagine that if an unknown driver gets behind the wheel, the car enters Hostile Mode. This would not be on by default, and if the person knows a shutoff code set by the car owner, it could be turned off. Hostile Mode would randomly change the seat configuration slightly, change the environmental settings, mirror positions, change the radio station, volume, etc. If the driver does not know the shutoff code, they would not be able to stop this.

I don’t know whether all the bugs could be worked out so it would not backfire on legitimate owners, or whether people would like it, but the idea came to me while riding the train this morning.

mmo character rename

A couple of years ago, I bought Guild Wars.  It’s an MMO, but they don’t charge a monthly fee.

I’ve had an online identity of “elyograg” for about twenty years now.  Naturally I wanted to use this name when I created my first Guild Wars character.  Something I didn’t know until faced with it: GW actually requires at least two words in your character name.  I was suddenly on the spot to extend my online identity.  Chomping at bit to get started playing, I typed in the first thing that came to mind for that second word: prime.  I’ve never been happy with it.

I would now like to get that changed to something that I can really identify with and that fits in with with the Guild Wars universe.  I haven’t decided whether I’ll build a new character or pay ArenaNet a fee to change the name of my existing character.

Anyone out there on the intarwebz have any suggestions for me on a new suffix for my character name?  I’m OK with going beyond two words, but I don’t want the entire thing to be super-long.

tool wish list

I am lusting after a bunch of tools for car repair.  Below is what I want at the moment.  If you would like to donate anything on this list, feel free! Originally I was looking at Craftsman for everything, but it turns out that their “guaranteed forever” tool warranty only apply to basic hand tools.

  • A nicely outfitted set of hand tools with a lifetime warranty.  This looks like an awesome bang for the buck, and it comes with a toolbox!
  • Two torque wrenches, so that I can do torque in both inch-pounds and foot-pounds.  I’m thinking of this and this.
  • A set of socket adapters, so the torque wrenches will work with any size socket.
  • A hydraulic floor jack, two ton minimum.  This one has a nice price, hopefully “cheap” doesn’t also apply to how well it will lift and hold.  There’s this one too.
  • Ramps for oil changing.  I like these.

the inevitable slow decay

Last week, I forget which day, I woke up to a little problem.  I’d wet the bed.  The volume of liquid wasn’t huge, but that hadn’t happened since I was a kid.  Our 9 year old son currently struggles with this problem, but he’s got a VERY good reason.  He was diagnosed as a type I diabetic when he was not quite 13 months old.  It’s only when his blood sugar gets out of control that the problem surfaces.

The body treats high blood glucose like many other toxins, by trying to cleanse the blood with the kidneys.  This creates large quantities of urine, and your bladder may fill up before your brain can reach consciousness and get you out of bed to deal with it.

On that morning, I used the handy tools available in the house and immediately checked my blood glucose.  The meter read 130.  Just to be sure, I washed my hands thoroughly and did it again, in case the high reading was due to contaminants on the finger that I poked.  This time it came up at 121.  Taking the meter’s margin for error into account, it meant that the first number was not anomalous.

The night before the literal wake-up call, we’d ordered pizza at midnight and stayed up late watching TV.  A couple of days later, when I had gotten to bed at a more reasonable time but had a fairly carb-loaded dinner, the number on the meter in the morning was 105.

Due to the large amount of fat and protein it contains, pizza is a food with an unpredictable glycemic index.  The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly the carbohydrates are released into the body as glucose.  We can never seem to time our son’s insulin right when he eats pizza, so he either ends up with a glucose level that’s too high or too low.  The other evil food with a similar problem is macaroni and cheese.

In a normal person, a fasting glucose is between 80 and 100, with 90 being pretty much perfect.  For my son, who is completely dependent on external insulin, we shoot for a value between 100 and 120, with anything under 140 being acceptable.  If we tried to keep him at 90, he’d consistently drop below that, which is far more dangerous than being a little bit too high.

I have a doctor appointment this afternoon to confirm what I already know – I am a type II diabetic.  I’m not terribly surprised that this has happened.  I eat too much and I get pretty much zero exercise.  I don’t know whether the doctor will actually write me a prescription for Metformin on the spot.  He probably won’t, waiting until a bunch of labs are done.  Doctors do not like patients to self-diagnose.  It seems to offend their egos.

having my head examined

Today I went to the eye center and ordered new glasses.  Here is what my prescription was in September 2007:

OD: -4.50 x -1.00 x 174
OS: -3.50 x -1.00 x 178

Now it is somewhat worse:

OD: -5.50 x -0.75 x 176
OS: -4.25 x -1.00 x 166

I was worried that I would need bifocals, since I am over 40.  This turned out to not be the case.  There is a slight degradation in my near vision, but not bad enough to need correction yet.  I might need bifocals in the next few years, though.

what are we saving? maybe it’s the children!

In 2005, lawmakers passed a law called the Energy Policy Act.  Among its many provisions was a change to Daylight Savings Time (DST) that went into effect in 2007.  Instead of starting on the first Sunday of April and ending on the last Sunday in October, it now starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.  This is approximately 4 weeks of additional DST per year.  Unless you have been living in Arizona, Hawaii, or off the grid in some way, this is not likely to be new information to you.

DST has a long and controversial history.  As any aficionado of Jerry Bruckheimer films can tell you, the person first credited with the idea is Benjamin Franklin.  For almost everyone in the modern world, I think the energy savings and increased summer leisure time make it a good idea.  It shifts the daylight hours so that more of our waking activities happen when there is daylight.  The idea is that fewer people will need artificial light, and those that do need it will not need it as long, therefore less fuel is consumed providing that light.  In the evening, there is more time with daylight available, to the point that 4th of July fireworks typically cannot start until after 10:00 PM in Utah.  Countless studies have shown both benefits and harm from observing it.

For the past three years, I have some variant of this post going through my head twice a year, but especially in the fall.  I am less than thrilled about the changes our politicians made.  I don’t know whether they didn’t research the impact it would have on infrastructure, or if they decided that since people in professions other than theirs would have to deal with it, they didn’t care.

There are millions (perhaps billions) of devices in the US that automatically adjust themselves to deal with DST.  Only some of those devices can be reprogrammed to the new timeframe.  Sometime in the middle of the first decade of this century, I bought a nice dual alarm clock that automatically sets itself and adjusts for daylight savings.  In 2007, that clock became unreliable for 4+ weeks out of the year.  I have not been able to find a comparable replacement for a reasonable price, so now I rely on other means for waking up.  Other devices are also not field upgradable, like thermostats.  Their owners have either had to shell out a big chunk of money to replace them, or glare at them with frustration for the hassle of manually doing what the device was supposed to do automatically.  My thermostat has a button for daylight savings time, so it’s always been manual for me.

At work, I am in the IT department, where I handle desktop computers, server computers, and network hardware.  Computers rely on synchronized time.  Some things won’t work at all if there is a difference between systems that’s more than a few seconds.  A large part of my job is troubleshooting problems.  Tracking these down requires comparing log files on different systems.  If the times on all systems are not the same to within a few milliseconds, it can be impossible to figure out what happened.  The company heavily relies on the calendar feature in Outlook for recurring meetings.  This feature in Outlook was impacted in a huge way by the DST changes.  Microsoft had to write a special program just for handling daylight savings changes in existing calendars.

My cow-orkers and I had to invest huge amounts of time in making sure that every single computer and network device was either upgraded or replaced.  This is difficult to do when you have mission-critical systems.  The changes required for timezone updates are usually at a kernel level, which means that you must reboot them for it to work.

Unlike Y2K, which was pretty much a non-event despite the hype, there were real problems with the Daylight Savings fiasco of 2007.  We didn’t find all the software that needed upgrading before it became critical.  In March, and again in November, problems cropped up that were difficult to track down, and ultimately were found to be applications, or middleware like Java, that had not been updated with the new time changes.  Even now, three years later, we still find software that does not deal with DST correctly.  Some things, like the management board in our building-level UPS, could not be upgraded.  The only way to fix it would be to replace the entire UPS.  That is prohibitively expensive.  Thankfully that one has not become an issue.  It’s more important that the network management station have the right time than the device.

There has been a nontechnical casualty to these changes as well: Halloween.  This holiday was always right after the time change.  Except on those years that it fell on Sunday (prompting churchgoers to move festivities to Saturday), trick or treating would happen after the change back to normal time, so it would get dark early and kids could count on a long and fun Halloween in the dark, even with an early bedtime.

Since 2007, parents with small kids will get them out early on Halloween and have them home before dark.  In some ways, this is a huge win for safety, but I think that it is marginally less safe for older kids and adults.  The older crowd doesn’t want to be out before dark, which means that in order to blow off the same amount of steam and get that large candy haul, they’ve got to be out later.  As the night deepens, predators become more bold and the general level of craziness due to sleep deprivation goes up.

For nearly 100 years, most of the country has had to deal with the springtime shock to the body clock, waking up an hour earlier than the week before.  The shock wears off within a week or so as you adjust to the difference.  The payoff for this injustice comes in late fall, when the opposite time change means you get a little extra sleep.

What are YOUR thoughts?

insane vacation

We had a large 3-night group camp planned for Thursday July 22nd at Payson Lakes. The day before, we learned that there was an aggressive bear on the loose and they had closed the campground until it was caught.

Not wanting to lose our chance to go to Payson this summer, we looked into later dates and found an available window in the same campground in August. We called and discussed the change with people and reached the decision to postpone. There was only one family we couldn’t reach, Kathy’s brother Bill.

Early Thursday morning, we discovered that the bear had been killed and we were clear to go up. But after losing 24 hours of preparation time and since we had already told most people about August, we decided it would be better to stick with the plan to postpone.

Unfortunately we were still unable to reach Kathy’s brother. Late on Thursday morning, we went by Bill’s house. His motorhome and van were both gone. This trip was a long-planned memorial and ash-spreading for their father. Their brother also died last month and was added to the ceremony already planned. It was very important that Bill be there. Due to the time of day, our best guess was that he was already on his way to the campground.

We didn’t want him to be the only person to show up and wonder what was going on so we quickly called the other parties to figure out what we should do. We decided we would do something crazy — go to both this camp-out and the one in August. Nothing was ready, because until that moment we had assumed we weren’t going. We madly packed up and got to the campground late Thursday evening. But, to our surprise, Bill wasn’t there.

A little further craziness… the group sites at Payson Lakes were renumbered a couple of years ago. When Kathy’s mom went to reserve them, she had known the site that she wanted as Group Site A, but in the meantime, it had become Group Site C. She reserved site A, and that’s where we spent the first night. The people who did reserve site C had canceled because of the bear, so on Friday morning, the campground host let us move. The second pack/unpack was much easier, because we could make multiple trips. It was a very good move. Site A sucks for trailers, site C is wonderful and was what Kathy’s mom really wanted.

Bill finally showed up late Friday evening. He had spent a couple of nights at Bear Lake with his in-laws and got home Friday afternoon. This was all according to his plan, but the rest of us didn’t know anything about it. I imagine the sequence of voice mails they listened to were amusing.

The trip was a lot of fun, especially for the kids.  We were dead when we got back, though.  Kathy and I both got sunburned, despite spending most of our time in the shade.  Aspen trees do not cast very dense shadows.

still here

I’ve been so busy living my life that I haven’t been writing about it.  There’s never enough time in the day … after work, I just want to relax, and after I’ve done that for a while, it’s very late and I just want to crawl into bed.  Whenever I pick up a book, I find myself reading late into the night and morning, putting it down only when I reach the end of the book.

A lot has happened.  My wife Kathy and her family have had to deal with the man who runs Goff Mortuary three times in less than two years.  We hope to never see that man again, that we can deal with his son the next time such services are required.

First it was my wife’s maternal grandmother.  She was over 90 years old, and had already made it through a couple of major health scares.  My wife was there when the merciful end finally came.  I first met this amazing lady in February 2005 at her home near San Diego, when we took the family to Disneyland.  I have some blog posts about that trip, and if decide to go find them, you’ll note that I never finished documenting that trip.

Next, it was Kathy’s father.  He had been in the VA hospital for a full month prior to then, having a battle with cancer.  Eventually, its advance was unstoppable.  Once the doctors figured that out, they let him go home for hospice care.  Those last couple of weeks were ugly, marked by extreme pain, unfortunate incompetence from the visiting health care professionals, and the dementia of Alzheimers.  This too was a merciful end, when it finally came.  Kathy had just arrived at home to rest, but the rest of his immediate family was there when his suffering finally ended. They view the tragedy as something of a blessing, because if he had won against the cancer, the rapidly advancing condition in his brain would have been much worse.

Both of these earlier deaths were expected.  A couple of weeks ago, Kathy’s mother and sister visited her brother David, and found him dead.  He had apparently fallen asleep at his desk.  The medical examiner has not yet figured out why he died, and we will not know for several more weeks.  He was 40 years old, just one year older than Kathy.  Despite intense sibling rivalry in their younger years, she was very close to David.

With all these people being lost in quick succession, I think the only person who’s having a harder time than my wife is her mother.  I wish I knew what to say to make everything better.  I bring her chocolate, hold her hand, and give her frequent hugs, but it seems like I should be doing more.  I’m really at a loss for how to help Kathy’s mother.  What do you say to someone who has lost their mother, their husband, and one of their children in close succession?

I suppose we’ve reached the time in our lives when death starts to invade on a regular basis, and that we’ve been lucky so far that we haven’t had to face very much of it.  That doesn’t really make it any harder to bear, of course.

upgrade

On my work desktop machine, I recently ditched Vista and installed Windows 7.  I had heard from reliable sources (not the commercials on TV) that it was a worthwhile upgrade.  I would classify the difference as night and day, especially in the speed department.  One of the people whose opinion I respect recently stated that he had upgraded his computer from Linux to Windows 7, and his use of the term ‘upgrade’ was intentional.

I finally have a 64 bit operating system on my desk, and I am not running into the compatibility issues that I did when I was running 64-bit XP on my home machine.  If you have a 64-bit OS and 64-bit native applications, you get a nice speed boost, and you can run 32-bit applications with no noticeable penalty.  I say noticeable because there is overhead involved in emulating the 32 bit system.

My work laptop also runs Vista, the original Dell OEM install.  Laptops tend to be slow performers on their best days just because of the tradeoffs required to achieve small size and low power consumption, but I’ve been having serious speed issues with it lately.  Despite having 2GB of RAM, it seems to always run at 70-75% memory utilization, and 70% seems to be the threshold where the memory manager starts freaking out and swapping things to disk while you’re trying to use them.  I believe that Win7 would probably solve these issues, I’ll have to ask if I can have a license for it.

I’ve read in more than one place that Windows 7 is also faster than XP, even on older hardware.  This is not a theory that I’ve been able to test, because my current work machine has never run XP.  I would like to buy a copy for my home PC and take it for a spin.

but the fourth one stayed up

Thanks to some generous donations and my tax return, I have obtained parts and put together a new server.  This blog and a few other minor things are already running on the new machine, though as I write this, most of my other Internet services are still on the old server, saidar.  The new server is named frodo.  I was going to name it bilbo, but changed my mind after reflection.  Frodo is a more mature character than Bilbo, capable of carrying a heavier burden.

The specs of the server are as follows:

  • Old 2U rackmount case with 460W PSU
  • ASRock M3A785GXH/128M motherboard
  • AMD Phenom II X3 705e processor
  • 2x2GB DDR3-1600 RAM
  • two 1TB SATA2 drives, mirrored

Internally, the CPU is a full quad-core Phenom II, but sold as a triple-core. This is part of a line of CPU models that allow AMD to sell chips with bad components that would otherwise just get junked. Not all of the chips are actually bad, though – some of them are perfectly functional chips that have had components disabled to sell at a lower price point. Anecdotal evidence suggests that as many as 70% of them are fully functional. The BIOS on this motherboard has the ability to re-enable the disabled components.  In addition to enabling all the cores, I have also overclocked it from 2.5 to 3.0 Ghz.  It’s been running for over a week now (since 2009-Feb-09) without any issues.

On the software side, this will be the most feature-laden system yet.  Some of that will be just because everything is a newer version, but I have learned some things in the last few years about mailserver configuration that will bring a lot of new functionality to my users.  Some of it is available on the current server, but only to people with root access.  In other words, only me.  Here’s what’s installed or planned so far:

Mail Server:

  • postfix
  • dovecot (backports.org)
  • amavisd-new (backports.org)
  • spamassassin (backports.org)
  • clamav (debian-volatile)
  • razor
  • pyzor

Web-based software (php apps are from source):

  • apache
  • php
  • phpmyadmin
  • postfixadmin
  • mailzu
  • squirrelmail
  • roundcube

I had been planning on doing some full documentation on my wiki of how I’m configuring it, but in the interests of actually getting it done, that hasn’t happened.  I have put up some disjointed notes, which I will flesh out and clean up.  Unfortunately, using those notes won’t be possible for a novice.  If anyone is interested in setting something similar up, I may be able to help out.  Such help would be free of charge unless it’s for a business.

blog breakin?

Today as I was moving my blog to the new server, I discovered signs that the blog site had been tampered with by an outside party. I can’t be sure, but it looks like the tampering may have occurred on 2009-09-03. I think I’ve eliminated the problem.

successful printing from Linux!

I know that this is going to be no big deal for some of my readers. If you’re reading this, chances are that you have either flirted with or reveled in the Linux desktop. I have flirted with it, but never long enough to print anything. Today I told my server about the printer attached to my Windows machine, then successfully loaded my résumé from my website and printed it.

I am excited by this little victory, small as it may be.