The Dysmey Blog
The personal weblog of Andy West.

December 2008
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XMas 2008
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 11:49 pm

XMas is here and just about gone.

It was a nice, sunny but cold day for a walk to the folks house for the giving and receiving of gifts and the XMas dinner of ham and picnic sides. At home I watched part of my XMas gift of Doctor Who season four (the one with Catherine Tate as Donna Noble). Also among the gifts are clothes and gift cards to Olive Garden.

My gifts to the family were bathing salts and camping utenstil sets to my sisters, the latest Clive Cussler novel and a Levenger grocery coupon organizer for Madre, a pocket multi-tool for Padre and gift cards to Wally World for the nieces.

I will keep the XMas tree up until after New Years Day. Then it is back in the box until next year.

Oh, I forgot the new SAS shoes I bought several weeks ago. They were meant as an XMas gift, too, except that the folks were not willing to drive all the way to Lafayette to buy them, so they gave me the money to buy them. Then I wrapped the box as an XMas gift from Santa. I also got an unusual set of braces with hooks that hold up a belt, making both a redundant pants-retaining system.

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XMas Season 2008, part 4
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 11:45 pm


It was bitter cold Sunday morning. It was so cold so that I had to drive to Sunday lunch rather than walk. And today is as bitterly cold as it was yesterday. At least there has been no icy rain, but that will change tomorrow.

Andy West's XMas Tree 2008

Still, it is the XMas season, a time for gifts, for shopping (both a lot less than in past years for obvious reasons), for cards, and for decorated Yule trees — like mine on the left.

The other XMas tree I took with me when I moved to the new house burned out a single bulb, which rendered the whole tree useless. So I bought this one, and gathered the decorations piecemeal. Some I bought (silver ornaments), some I already had (pillowcase around the base of the tree), some the folks gave me (star, tinsil, cloth angel). The gifts at the base are my gifts to my family, which will have to the folks’ house after they wrap their gifts.

tech support / folks

In the meantime I have installed security (anti-virus/anti-malware/firewall) software on my folks’ computers. I also gave the wireless router a more recognizable name so that Padre would not be thrown when he sees the name of his own network. Now I need to connect the new printer to the network so that the laptop can print, too.

tech support / self

But first, there has been trouble with my Internet connection since I switched to the Linksys WRT54GL router. I use PPPoE with my user name and password under the Setup tab, and press the Connect button under the Status tab to get a connection. (I did this because DHCP does not work.) That works most of the time. Sometimes I have to turn the router and DSL modem off, then turn them back on (modem first) to get a connection. But for the past couple of days, none of this works at all, and I have therefore been without a DSL connection.

I have discussed this via chat with one of the technicians at Frontier Tech Support. It seems he has narrowed it down to either the line outside or some network component here. It was suggested that I try contacting Frontier Tech Support when I was at my computer.

Later that evening I contacted Frontier Tech Support at my home box, which (as luck would have it) was connecting to the Internet. I gave the technician the go-ahead to access my modem through my computer; but he could not reach the modem. He then suggested that I access it myself at a given local address. I could not do with through the router; and doing so directly from my home box network card lost me access to the Internet — and broken the chat session.

It was restored a short time later, but then it was broken again when I accidentally unplugged the power cord from that dumbass modem. I plugged it back in, but in the two or three seconds that past, the chat session was broken.

I gave it one more go. This session was a lot more helpful. It was decided to put in a problem ticket to have someone local check out the line from outside tomorrow afternoon; then I can check the results from here later.

medical friday

On Friday I was compelled to stay home due to a morning ice storm. In the afternoon I visited my doctor, who said I was doing fine apart from the weight gain helped along by my new prescription drug.

Then I took Isis to the vet. It was confirmed that Isis did lose a couple of pounds. That’s irony for you: The cat loses weight; I do not.

Anyway, the vet gave me another drug to feed to the cat. It diminishes her back pain and helps her move about better. The regiment is twice a day for a week, then once a day for a week, then every other day until the drug is gone, right around mid-January.

Feeding her the dope is tricky. No cat likes to have ill-tasting stuff fed to them through a syringe. Isis is a sport about it, but she does drool some of the stuff out, even when I slowly feed it to her. So I learned to bring a paper towel to catch the excess.

The drug seems to be working inasfar as Isis can move about easier, and can even make it onto the couch from the ramp I made out of an unused bulletin board. Also, the vet took a blood sample for testing; I should get the results Tuesday.

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XMas Season 2008, part 3
Filed under: General, Work
Posted by: Andy @ 10:46 pm

local network

After a couple of false starts, I finally configured a local area network of my own.

The network consists of two Silverstone Sugo boxes running Windows XP SP3; an ARTiGO (Pico-ITX based) server running Fedora 10; and a Linksys WRT54GL wireless router. Most of the network is wired together in the upper room, where the server, wireless router and the main Sugo box reside. The other Sugo box is in the living room, connected to the television set, which serves as a monitor.

I already discussed a couple of entries ago my issues with wireless networking and its crackability, as well as my problems in wiring the house for a computer downstairs. I finally swallowed my doubt and brought the said WRT54GL router recommended in Ars Technica, as well as a wireless modem for the downstairs box. The router turned out to be easy to configure; and I made sure that it accepted my boxes and only them. The wireless card in the downstairs box detected the router at once.

After the physical network was finished, I had to set up a server that would have, among other things, a common Web site and a common folder accessible to both boxes. The first one I set up with Apache, PHP and MySQL. The other one uses Samba. And while setting up the server was a cinch, setting up the Windows boxes was a pain because it had been a long time since I had to set up a Windows box (it involves NetBIOS and other ancient Windows networking horrors) because the two would be able to find the common folder and the Web site.

With all the hard work finished, I can type something, like this entry, in the downstairs box; stash it in the common folder; and then access it from the main box. And there’s more: Samba will let me set up a common printer for the two boxes. And, once I get the common Web site working, I can do some real experiments, esp. with YAZ to connect to the Ball State card catalog directly from my network.


I mentioned also about the light snow that made the roads slick. That was a minor annoyance compared to the frozen drizzle and intense cold that has plagued me this week. It takes twice as long to get to work and back because I have had to drive carefully to avoid flying into a ditch. A lot of people were not careful, and I have had to drive past emergency crews where cars had slid into ditches or into utility poles.

In fact I did drive into a ditch, because I just missed an intersection. Fortunately the ditch was very swallow, and I was able to drive out of it. But I had to dig a lot of grass and dirt out of my front bumper.


It is finals week at the University. And work seems to be slowing down. It will not stay slow for long. Once the students are gone, and no longer using the Macs and the printers, I really get to work.

I have updates for the print job release stations which, when done, will put more space between the items in the release station lists. Hopefully, there will be fewer mistaken released print jobs.

I also have a fix for the iMacs which, if it works, will keep them from unbinding with the campus network’s Active Directory server. That way, I will not have to go down and rebind everything every two weeks or so. There is also an update to the Mac OS itself, but I want to look it over first: There are reports of problems with Macs after the update.

I want these out of the way so that I can work on the big Cardinal Scholar project, which involves moving it to another server. I want to ensure that the server and its EPrints software is robust this time before everyone else starts pouring stuff into the repository.


My cat Isis is walking about when she wants to; and she walks when she wants to

  1. eat
  2. do business
  3. wander the house
  4. see what I am doing

Otherwise she sleeps under the base step of the stairs. Sometimes she hides in other obscure places, but the base step is her favorite hideout.
When she walks, she walks very slowly and carefully and a little bow-leggedly. She walks around until she realizes that I have noticed her; then it is back into the bottom stair.

It has been more than a month, and I am a little worried because there does not seem to be much progress. I am I am down to the last three cans of the dietary canned food, anyway, so I may as well schedule a visit to the vet for her to see if there is any progress.

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XMas Season 2008, part 2
Filed under: General, Politics, Work
Posted by: Andy @ 9:59 pm

slick snow

The weather has gotten nastier, not that there is more snow, but that there is lots of wind to blow it onto the roads and then freeze it solid. The roads are so slick that I have had to drive slowly to work and back. As proof of my wisdom I witnessed two hunks of metal and glass off the side of Wheeling Pike between Muncie and State Road 28 on my way home.

sky triad

Tonight, a bright Venus, a little less bright Jupiter, and a crescent moon appear close together (in conjunction) this evening. I have seen this eerie triangle through the edges of the dark clouds as I peered out my car window. It was about as much as I will see them, because the clouds obscured them again.


The University Computing Service at work turned off power to the campus servers to make upgrades. One of those servers runs the campus Active Directory, which identifies all networked computers and gives them authority to use the network. When that server came back up, it reauthorized all the Windows boxes. But not the Macs in the library. I had to do that this morning after learning that all of them were off the network.


El Dubya is already thinking about his legacy. He is trying to tout his accomplishments. And what would those be, eh? [The Bush administration] wants the country to remember more than the war in Iraq, the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe, and all the government bailouts to help a crashing economy. But of course we remember more than these: The loss of freedoms under the mislabeled PATRIOT Act, the refusal to rein in the predatory lending practices responsible for setting off the financial crisis, the abuse of science and technology policy to score political points, and the incompetence and myopia that was the hallmark of his underlings from Dick Cheney on down. And that is if you believe he was an actual president instead of a wooden dummy to Dick Cheney’s ventriloquist. Let’s just clean up the mess he made and forget he was ever there.

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