No, it is NOT a “Murse”

Shortly after buying my HP Mini, I purchased a bag to carry it around in, as well as its charger, a mouse, a short USB cable, my spiral notebook, DSi and any other stuff I could cram into it.  The case looks good (I think, anyway) and it does the job well.  In addition to the traditional “suitcase” handle, it also has a permanently attached strap for carrying it over one’s shoulder.

Now I’m as secure in my masculinity as the next Manly Man (some would argue a little too secure, but that’s a discussion for another time) but for the life of me, I cannot bear to use that damn carry strap.  Because of the Mini’s (and thus, the bag’s) smaller size, I feel as if I am carrying a purse.   It is just a little too small.  Every time I have slung it over my shoulder, I start to become very self-conscious…I might as well be wearing a dress.

The feeling lasts for about five minutes, and then I will stop whatever it is that I am doing, take it off my shoulder immediately stuff the strap back in, and carry it by the handle, my Manly Manhood restored by carrying my Manly Netbook in its Manly Man-Bag as I Manly Manhandle it by its Man-Handle.

*insert Tim Allen-esque grunting here*

My neurosis over the netbook strap might be explained by the fact that I have a penchant for picking out things that are described as “cute” by women.  The first thing my aunt and female cousins said upon seeing my new 2005 Dodge Neon was “its cute!”  The HP Mini itself often elicits the same response from women, much to my aggravation.  Sadly, I have been unable to use that tendency to any sort of advantage, but maybe its A Good Thing.  After all, if the trend continues, maybe the next cute thing that comes my way will be a woman!



The Reliant has quite literally been a little shaky as of late, having developed a habit of rough idling when I am waiting at red lights or stop signs.  Eventually, the "Check Engine" light came on, which got me just a little nervous.  Luckily, my Google-fu was good enough for me to save a trip to the dealer by getting the error code from the car’s computer.  This also has me wondering what I could do to it with my Netbook and a USB cable.  In any event, a few clicks of the key, and I then had the Answer To My Car Problems:

"P 303 – 3rd cylinder misfire"

Well, that was about as pointless as farting in a windstorm.  Actually, it did give me something else I could Google, and Google away I did.  Instead of relying on a single solution, I looked for commonalities between the different fixes I found.  This was made slightly more difficult in that there are actually two major revisions of the Dodge Neon, so I had to disregard anything in relation to the first-generation model.

I figured I would go from least-expensive to most-expensive fixes, hoping to not have to resort to going to the dealer.  I started out by replacing the air filter and PCV valve.  I almost took the opportunity to upgrade to a K&M filter, but the auto parts store I visited did not have them in stock.  I reset the car’s computer to make the "Check Engine" light go away and hoped for the best.  The Reliant felt like it was running better, but soon enough the rattling returned, not quite as serious as before, but there nonetheless.  I figured the next thing to try was to replace the spark plugs, wires and ignition coil, though the coil was going to cost a few bucks.  I went to do some more research (all the while the rattling was becoming worse, and the "Check Engine" light reared its ugly head again) and as I did not see the coil mentioned very often, I figured I’d install new plugs and wires, and see if that would be enough.

Luckily, I had a day off to perform the operation, and so I voyaged to Auto Zone to get parts.  I acquired a set of wires and some slightly-nicer plugs and drove home to begin…and discovered I would need a extender for my ratchet.

Of course, it couldn’t ever be just that easy, so I had to make a quick trip to Wal-Mart.

Soon thereafter, I was busy swapping cables and plugs, and all was well…until I went to attach the third wire to the ignition coil.  I pushed it in, expecting to hear the ‘click’ of the connection being made, but, nothing.  I looked inside the cable expecting to see the silver connector inside, but instead there was…nothing!  Well, fark.  I used the old cables, and took a trip back to Autozone to get a replacement set.  To make sure all was well, I connected the new cables in the parking lot. 

Curiously enough, there were a few signs saying "Do Not Maintain or Repair Vehicles In Parking Lot" in front of the Autozone, but after seeing three vehicles in the parking lot with hoods popped and their owners hunched over their innards, so I figured one more wouldn’t hurt.

The operation was soon over, and so far it appears to have been a success.  I keep waiting to feel That Shaking Feeling again, but it hasn’t happened yet.  If it does, come back, then I suppose I will break down and buy the ignition coil, but so far, so good!


Staring into the Cupertino Kool-Aid

My PC went kablooey on Monday (see last post below) and since then, I’ve been getting by with my HP Mini 1000. It feels odd using it as my primary PC, as it is easily less than half the size of my monitor. It is doing an admirable job though.

Its not good enough to replace the old EDPUTER *sniff* mind you, but it is enough to keep the withdrawal at bay. Its doing such a good job that I have yet to rush to Ye Olde Best Buy to drop a few hundred bucks on a new PC…YET.

Thus, I’ve been debating the merits of Mac vs. PC, and two things give me pause when I consider making a Mac my next computer:

The first, of course, is cost. Like many other PC diehards, I have done more than my share of moaning about the “Apple tax” (apparently so has Microsoft recently). But you know what? I make good money, and I can certainly afford a Mac without causing too much distress to my pocketbook.

If just the hardware lasts, it would be great, especially considering the Gateway didn’t even make it three years. It could also be argued that time is money, and the thought of not having to spend time running virus scans, anti-spyware scans, and updating Windows every week is a pleasant one.

The second item of contention is something less tangible…I’m not sure I want to become a Mac USER.

To me, Mac zealots are the obsessive Texas A&M fans of the computer world. Most fans of teams tell you how much their team rocks and can beat the tar out of anyone else, even if said team stinks. In contrast, all obsessive Texas A&M fans (at least the ones I’ve known) say is “UT SUCKS!” In a similar manner, all Mac fanboys can say is “PCs SUCK!” For people who support things that are supposedly “better” both groups seem to have a nasty inferiority complex.

Some time ago I tried playing World of Warcraft. I uninstalled it before the 14-day trial period was up. What happened? I saw the South Park World of Warcraft episode, and told myself: “there is no way in hell I am turning into one of those FREAKS.”

I would have, too! *shudder*

I get the same “AW, HELL NO” feeling inside whenever I see my Mac-using friends’ creepy zombie-like obsessiveness. Lately they’ve been foaming at the mouth extra-hard at the prospect of adding another PC-user to the collective. Frankly, I figure I’m annoying enough without adding a generous dollop of Mac-fanboy-sauce to the Eduardo geekburger.

I think I can handle being a Mac-user, though. I just have to be careful to avoid all the bad behavior I’ve seen from the members of the Cult of Jobs over the years. I’ve got some numbers to crunch before I make a decision, though, but with the Mini (HP, not Mac) holding it together I can hold off for a bit. I just don’t want to become an “Obsessive Mac Guy.”

Now if I get a Mac, then an iPhone, all bets are off!



I think I have officially HAD IT with PCs.

My formerly-trusty Edputer seems to have bit the dust this evening. I was putting in a drive so that I could use it to load a clean XP install and then use it to scan my main drive for viruses. It all started when I got that damnable virus that been all over the news lately, and various attempts to get rid of it (even using tools from several of the big anti-virus guys) failed. I figured if that didn’t work, I would go “nuclear option” and wipe it clean.

Something went wrong while putting in the drive; either I accidentally zapped the PC with static electricity, or the drive finally went kaput and took the PC with it (how my second PC went to binary heaven), or the power supply went bye-bye. In any event, I now have a useless box full of PC parts, because I can’t even get a POST beep out of it now. Of course, if it wasn’t for the virus, I wouldn’t even have had to open the thing up.

So now what?

That’s the question I am asking myself right now. Do I get another Windows machine and take a chance on Vista? That could work, given that I would have enough horsepower to make Vista happy. Then again, perhaps I should turn to The Dark Side and buy a Mac.

I’m actually seriously considering it…I could even install XP (or Vista) for when I need it. Sure the hardware would be more expensive, but the pluses of not having to deal with all the fun facts of Windows life might make it worth it.

Who knows, I just might be cool enough to get a Mac…


Why no one reads the newspaper anymore…

As one of the few people under 40 who still reads the newspaper I found this news to be very discouraging.

I discovered “MyCage” in the Express-News, and it quickly became one of my favorite newspaper comics. I suppose it is a sign of the times that I have to distinguish it as a “newspaper” comic to not only differentiate it from comic books, but also from webcomics.

What bothers me is the loss of a new and interesting strip when they could have easily dropped one of the older ones that is way past its prime. I will email the editor in a feeble attempt to convince him otherwise, but I think the decision has been made. I guess I’ll read it online now at another newspaper’s website.

Its another $1.60 a week back in my wallet, too.


Online Killed The Split-Screen Star

So I have a guest over Saturday night, and we’re getting our Rock Band on and having a good time. My friend is asthmatic and I’m getting over the flu, so we got tired after a bit and decide to play something else.

I get a game from my collection and pop it in, expecting to find a 2-player split-screen mode…no dice. There is online play, but no split-screen. Okay, game number two…same result…a third game, and its STILL online only…we then punt and play Gears of War 2 instead.

I don’t know if this is a Xbox 360 thing, but what happened to local multiplayer? It seems silly that I can connect 4 controllers to my 360, but there aren’t very many GAMES that support 4 people playing on the same machine.

Online gaming is fun, but there are few things are more enjoyable in gaming than hearing the wailing and gnashing of teeth of your opponent as you pop them with a blue shell in Mario Kart…and few things more agonizing than hearing your opponent gloat after nailing you just before the finish line.


I never thought I’d say this…

but Thank God for Vista…

I was surfing away last Friday evening, and then BAM, just out of the blue, Ye Olde Blue Screen Of Death. XP has never blue-screened on me before (instead finding other various ways to give me grief) so that was something of an eye-opener. I then restarted the PC and got a “NO OPERATING SYSTEM FOUND” message.

As I like to say: the feces have struck the oscillating air-movement device.

Luckily for me, I had been running Vista for a few weeks and had transferred my files over some time ago, so all was well…otherwise I would have been one very unhappy geek!



I went shopping for a pair of headphones today. Now that I have a job where I can listen to music while I work, my MP3 player will be getting a lot more use. I am also exercising again, and music makes the time on the treadmill go quicker.

With this in mind, I head to the Big Electronics Store nearby. I ponder my choices…ear buds, ear buds with squishy things on the ends, around-the-ear clip things with ear buds, earbuds that go around the back of your head, and a headphone-looking thing with earbuds on the ends.

I sigh and walk out of the store, because for the life of me, I CANNOT FARKING WEAR EARBUDS! Something about my ears is not right, because after about 5 minutes in there, they hurt like hell. Thus, I have to wear the old-school headphones that go over the top of your head with the speakers on the ends that go on the outside of the ear.

I begrudgingly go to the discount retailer nearby and find a set of “classic” headphones, cursing the “cool kids” under my breath with their iPods and white earbuds every step of the way.


Forty Off The Grid

The new job is starting great so far, albeit with the usual bombardment of new acronyms, procedures and list of Things That You Can’t Do Here.

Sadly, near the top of that list is the Internet. Up until this point, I have been fortunate enough to be at places where the tubes aren’t being monitored. This employer has it locked down, though, and unlike other companies I have worked at, they actually monitor and enforce the rules. I was told early on about a guy that got the boot for installing a torrent client on his work PC…but honestly, anyone dumb enough to do that deserves to be Insta-Fired.

So, its no more IM-ing my buds over at other offices, no more checking e-mail or the news throughout the day, instead its just work, work, and whatever music I can squeeze into my 2GB MP3 player. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though…I think it will keep me focused more on the task at hand, and I’m looking forward to learning some cool stuff at this new gig.

I cheated the first week by using my phone to check my email and even IM, but I’m now paranoid enough to have stopped doing that, as well. I’m not sure I want to see the reaction of the gal that the unemployment office upon hearing “I got fired for browsing the Net.”


Next-Door Nuisance

Recently, some new people moved into the apartment next door, I don’t know who, but I do know that they like to play music…a lot…quite loudly, actually, to the point where I can hear it in my apartment. Usually I can tune it out, but Thursday night I could not stand it any longer and went knocking on their door to ask them to turn it down.

Strangely enough, they did not open the door, instead a man asked me who I was through the closed door. I told him I was his neighbor and that I would appreciate it if he could turn down his music. He did so, I went to bed, and life went on.

Fast-forward to Friday and he is at it again…this was during the day, mind you, but even then. I’d like to think that as a general rule, I should not hear anything coming from my neighbor’s apartment, and they should not hear anything from mine. As previously, I knocked on the door, and knocked, and knocked, but nobody answered.

I didn’t want to call the police, but I had to do something, so I called the apartment office and they said they would call my neighbor and ask him to turn it down. The music continued and a half-hour later I had to call the office again. Eventually (later that evening, actually) the racket stopped and I haven’t heard anything of consequence since.

I obviously don’t know what the apartment people told them, but I’m glad they finally got the message. I suspect that the source of the noise is a subwoofer, they have a nasty tendency to reverberate through walls. Regular speakers, not so much, but the bass coming out of a subwoofer will be felt in surrounding rooms pretty easily. Turn down the subwoofer, problem solved.

I think its a pity that I had to resort to calling the apartment office, I think we could have easily worked it out if they had just answered the door, but what can you do?