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Big Snow 2009


I knew in my head that it would snow very heavily. I just did not conceive that it was snow so much. It has been a long time since we had so much snow. When I woke up this morning, I looked out the back door and realized that I was not going anywhere. There was a foot (⅓ meter) of snow all over the yard, all over the streets, and no doubt all the way to Muncie.

First, I called work to let them know that I was not coming in. Then I waited for the snowfall to subside, doing some work remotely from my main box. Then I dug myself out: Front sidewalk, deck, path to the basketball court where I park my car, around the car, and down the alley (about seven meters) to the street. I dug out the shed because I needed the cat carrier inside (I have that vet appointment on Friday). I also dug a path to my neighbor's front porch to let the mail carrier get to it.

Over the next day I have widened the path from the court to the alley to give my car more manuvering room. But it has not been enough: I got stuck in the snow this evening trying to drive into the alley. I left my shovel next to the deck, so I dug myself out and made it to the court.

The snow will be with us for the next few days. The winds have picked up, so drifts appear on roads in the treeless areas. It makes the state roads and the main county roads slick and dangerous, and makes the others impassable. Wheeling Pike is out of the question, so I am compelled to travel by interstate to Muncie and back.


Last Saturday I was called by my boss (well, one of them) to investigate a problem at the main library where I work. All the public printers were not printing, and all the print-job release stations had error messages. I found that I could not access the print server remotely. So I drove down to the library, went to the server room, and walked right in. Whoomp! After driving and walking in the cold, the blast of hot air — and we are talking over 95°F (35°C) — smacked me in the face. The air-conditioning unit had shut down, and the equipment was roasting in its own heat. The print server itself, an HP server, was shut down by a temperature sensor that comes with those HP servers.

I called my boss (the other one), who in turn called the sysadmin, and between the three of us got the room cooled down enough to turn the print server back on. The A/C unit itself, we learned later, had shut down due to low water pressure from a water main break elsewhere on campus. It was already fixed, so all we had to do was turn the A/C back on.

I will be doing another Saturday trip. This time I have to install some software on the iMacs, as well as to carry out the new guest policy on computer use, under which the iMacs are now banned to guests. I cannot do this while getting under the students' feet, so I will have to do this on Saturday morning.

home boxes

I found an old hard drive that used to be part of my last Gateway computer before I sold it to my sister the teacher. I wanted the hard drive (or at least its box) out of the way. So, I installed the hard drive on my main box, Madoka. I have just doubled the capacity of Madoka. But what I am going to do with all that space, except use it as virtual memory?

It would probably be more useful to just pull the hard disk out and install it inside Nabiki, the other computer downstairs. But, again, what would I do with all that space?

cheap lcd bulbs may be coming

The Brits have found a way to make cheap quality light-emitting diodes, paving the way for el-cheapo LED lightbulbs for much, much less than the thirty dollars I paid for my rather dim 36-LED light bulb.

compulsory national service — no, already!

The old man whose columns appear in the local paper is pushing for compulsory national service again, this time with a full article. I have already stated my reasons for rejecting compulsory national service. I do, however, want to touch on the guy's claim that service would do wonders for the unemployment rate. Since when does slavery count as employment? Besides, this would not be an issue if American companies did not export all kinds of jobs overseas. Americans should be working on jobs making goods and services for Americans. Let companies create jobs for the young to work for good wages instead of having to forcibly conscript them for crap pay.

outsourcers getting what they deserve

Micron/Gateway, whose carcass the credit vultures are now picking apart, is one of those companies that put their faith in outsourcing manufacturing to China. Now it and other such companies, who made outsourcing a profit-saver, are caught between the high price of transport, the eventual lack of quality and (in the end) the lack of available credit. I am not at all sorry for what happened to them. I am sorry for those who lost their jobs.

whither olpc?

The founder of the project One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) laid off half his staff early this month and ditched its Sugar interface. Now he wants to begin again with what amounts to OLPC 2.0. The two articles (one and two) about this are overly long, so I present the Slashdot summary:

In early January, the One Laptop Per Child Foundation laid off half its staff and shed work on the Sugar graphical interface. Now, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte and president Chuck Kane for the first time detail the foundation's new plans, describe how the XO laptop will do what netbooks can't do, and share their hope to keep working with Sugar developer Walter Bender, who left OLPC last year.

The responses are underwhelming, mostly along the lines of at this point, there will be no OLPC 2.0 because OLPC 1.0 is dead monkey meat. One figured that Walter Bender would tell Negroponte, à la his Futurama namesake, to bite his shiny metal ass. Others compare the XO-1 unfavorably to the Asus EEE netbook — never mind that if it were not the XO-1, the EEE and other netbooks would likely not have seen the light of day.

I myself applauded the concept of the XO-1 and its Sugar interface. It would have worked well in environments that would kill a laptop: Too hot, too wet or dry, little or no electrical grid, little or no telephony grid. And it was meant to be cheap to build and easy to use.

However, the idea of all those poor kiddies with cheap and easy laptops caused a lot of soiled pants at Microsoft, Intel, AMD and the other big computer/software giants. That was expected. What was unexpected was Negroponte caving in like a shack built on beach sand in a storm. The programming folks watched in horror as the project was subverted from within. In the face of what they saw as the treachery of its leader, those programmers turned its back on the project.

Negroponte expressed hope for the future of his project. The people he would need to rely on to make that hope real see it otherwise, as express by this Slashdotter:

For me the complete 180[°] they've done has made me write them off completely as a useless relic of what happens when you completely lose sight of your goal to the point you start to believe the ends justify the means. RIP OLPC.

Posted on the Dysmey Blog on 30 January 2009.