click here to access Diaryland click here to send me an email click here for bio and links click here to access the archive list click here for the latest entry

Well then. I was ambushed. Taken from one house after dropping off a car and brought to another. Made to slavishly serve the needs of the family business for days on end.

Well, close anyway. Not only did I have to solve about five hundred and one unforeseen problems with the new Athlon computer (more later), I also had to reinstall an old modem in the ailing IBM, get a new Medicaid/Medicare claims program called TDHConnect 2.0 (freeware from EDS and the old adage 'you get what you pay for' seems to hold up in this case) working, move the ole Pentium 150 to the back and install Quickbooks, move everything from the 150 to the IBM and everything from the 90 to the 150, sit on the phone with EDS's tech support for, I lie not, 12 hours (all told), enter a virtual half ton of claims, muddle through IRQ conflicts and worthless tech support and a super slow connection and the worst, most unstable software I've ever had to use, deal with an ancient and failing printer, run lunch-buying errands each day, install ANOTHER modem, deal with MORE Windows problems, research, pick out, buy, and install an LCD monitor (on a Pentium 150 with the stock vid card no less), try to get the laptop working temporarily, transfer files AGAIN to the laptop, research and recommend NEW medical billing/claims software, research dial-up ISPs in the area, deal with @Home cable, fix my OTHER brother's b0rked computer, reinstall Windows, be rudely awoken to hear of yet MORE problems with the claims software... oh it just went on and on. All I wanted to do was go home and forget about Windows and computers. Why can't these people figure things out for themselves? Why must I do EVERYTHING? Who said I was head MS guru?

On top of all that, things were anything but smooth with the Athlon. The Asus BIOS is very odd in several categories. Had RAM problems. Had fdisk/partition problems (kept returning only 2 GBs even after fdisking, reformatting, and reinstalling TWICE), had to sift through untold pages of KB minutia. The specific Detonator drivers we downloaded didn't like the Geforce3 (or vice-versa). UT wouldn't run in OpenGL. The shutdown/startup procedures on this system if *anything* is out of the ordinary are maddening. The vid card had trouble keeping the display settings, at one point it lapsed into a halfway point between the true Detonator driver settings and the default VGA settings and wouldn't go any higher. The video quality (MPEGs) seemed to be less than what I get with my Voodoo5, so I tried to upgrade to MPlayer 7.1, which was a colossal mistake, as it rearranged everything! It KO'd the Recycle Bin, it made Active Desktop permanent, it restricted access to Folder Options, it did about five other anti-social things and, greatest of all, it not only didn't improve the quality of one of our test videos, but it WOULDN'T PLAY THE OTHER FILE ANYMORE, no matter what bits it tried to download. Aaarrrggghh. And the interface sucked too. It took me several tries before it actually got uninstalled. And then a lot of work to get everything back to normal (it still isn't) and the videos working. Gah, I've learned my lesson. What else? Oh, here's something. The A7M266, which is an excellent motherboard (it's said), comes in several variants. One variant has extra USB ports, one has RAID capability, one has SDRAM as well as DDR RAM capability, one has a built-in NIC, and one has built-in sound. I wasn't fully aware of all this. Ours had only the DDR RAM ports, no NIC, etc., but it did come with the sound card. And, even after I apparently disabled the onboard sound in BIOS, Windows didn't want to believe it. So there was infighting among the soundcards. The bus kept resetting to 100 MHz after a catastrophic crash (of which there were probably 50+ all week), CAS latency wouldn't stay at the faster settings, etc. PS2Rate kept telling me there was no PS2 mouse installed, but there was. One of the funnest bits was trying to install the printer. The $600 HP PhotoPerfect 1100 or whatever. I tried a variety of installation methods. Parallel port. USB. Manual. PNP. Whatever, Windows would find the hardware and I'd tell it where the drivers were on the CD and next thing I know, Windows tells me it can't locate that printer and the whole OS crashes. This happened over and over and over again. I'm well aware of how to install a printer. It just wasn't working. Hacked me off.

After all was said and done, however, the thing is blazingly fast (especially after I got the BIOS settings stable and installed Cacheman, TweakUI, XSetup, PCAccelerator, the latest Dets, etc.). I've never seen a PC boot this fast (again, after tinkering). From the push of the button to the beautiful, blank Windows desktop, 4-5 seconds. UT loaded so fast it seemed like a joke. I mean, we're talking a program that takes a minute + on my system and over 2 minutes on the IBM, and it loaded in 6 seconds flat from a cold OS boot. Quake3 runs extraordinarily fast and fluidly in 1600X1200 resolution with full anti-aliasing, dynamic shadows, and all detail levels cranked to '11' in the .ini file. It's a sight to see, you can hardly believe your eyes. UT was gargantuan fun to play again! What a damn fantastic game!!

But now I'd like to take a little time off from computers. I kind of left before my job at the clinic was *totally* finished, but after all, I was not being paid and spending almost a full work week doing something I never planned to do pretty much against my will. I did my best but the rest is up to them, it's their business. Government software, UGGHH. I tried to urge my father et al to bring their Medicaid and Medicare policies around to the same they use for HMOs--that is, they don't deal with HMOs, they should they think about not dealing with Medicaid or Medicare either, but they weren't real receptive to the idea.

Not too much longer until school. I'm finalizing the financial aid thing, deciding where it will be spent, how much I'll get and for how long, when I'll graduate, what classes I'll take when, etc. The plan is coming to together so nicely. I'm excited about things. I got a plan.

The Cavalier has been returned, the motorcycle is being sold (or has been, it's hard to tell). I saw my RX-7 the other day with its new owner driving it. Want to tell him she likes it rough. :o) My sole transportation (other than my own two feet, and I don't consider walking to be transportation per se) is now my bicycle, which is in Denton and working nicely.

I'm kind of becoming tired of having to come to this lab to use the net, but I'm not quite yet sold on the idea of reinstating my DSL--I want to spend my loan money wisely and pay back what I don't need ahead of time. I think I can get free dial-up though, so I may go that halfway route sooner or later.

I'm still working on my 'opus' on politics, and I'm still as informed and outraged as ever, but it'll have to wait a bit longer. The past week's rude intrusion put me off course a little. I want to buy Superbike 2001 and a dual analog controller, by the way. This lab has very short hours and many closed days right now during the break, unfortunately. :o(

By the way, last I checked, the navigation picture wasn't coming up, so I suspect Verizon has finally deleted the images I stored on my site. Oh well.