Windows is Back

Now that I’ve had some time back from vacation, I decided to do a full investigation into what could be causing my primary Windows machine to fail. After a few hours of experimentation, I’m quite certain that the power supply is what was causing the issues. I currently running it from another 500 watt power supply that was being used in a different machine. The old power supply works, but doesn’t seem to be able to output the same amount of power that it used to, thus causing the problem.

Since I enjoyed using Ubuntu with my flagship hardware, I instituted a dual boot setup on my primary machine, using different hard drives for each OS.

On a different front, I’m contemplating buying a decent video card for the Myth box so that I can get that up and running again with decent hardware. Looking at current prices, one of the fanless GeForce 7600 cards looks appealing. Depending on how the cash situation turns out (aka need a car), that may not happen anytime soon.

Lunar Eclipse

On Saturday, March 3, there was a lunar eclipse that was visible from my area, however, I was on a flight to Florida at the time as discussed in my previous post.  I had assumed that I would not be able to see it due to being stuck in airports all evening and clouds along the eastern coast of the US, but, as it happens, the eclipse was fully visible from my seat on the plane being above the clouds.  This would not have been possible had my flight been on time, but a 2 hour delay for mechanical problems was perfect to give me a full view of the second half of the eclipse.  Like most airplanes, the windows do not allow for a clear view and the cheap digital camera I have for travel made imaging the eclipse useless.  At the least, I can say I saw the lunar eclipse while cruising at 30,000 feet.

Flying Without ID

In addition to technology, politics and privacy are two areas that interest me as well, and although this blog does not encompass those areas, I recently had an opportunity to fly without showing ID of any kind and wanted to share the experience. The process was quite painless, although from what I hear it varies from airport to airport.

On my first flight, the lady at the United desk was quite helpful and didn’t ask any questions about why I did not have ID. She printed me new tickets with bold “SSSS” printed several times on the ticket and told me that I would need to go through extra security. The TSA workers were also quite friendly and did not pose a problem. They bumped me to the front of the line to go through the metal dector machine, and then took me to a side area for a hand search of my carry-on bag. The first thing they did was use a hand metal detector and wand me again, and then did a quick pat down on my arms and legs. A frisk seems quite unecessary to me, and the only saving grace was the fact that the guy didn’t seem to want to do it any more than I did. The agent was very nice and told me exactly what he was going to do beforehand. After the frisk, the TSA agent swabbed all items in my carry-on and ran the swap through a explosive detection machine. Every item was swabbed individually, making this the most time consiming part of the search. The last item that the TSA agent swabbed was my TI-89 calculator, which, unfortunately, set off the explosive detection machine. A simple rerun through the x-ray machine satisified the supervising agent and they sent me on my way. Overall, the first flight security was OK, and took about 10 minutes total. My returning flight, however, proved to be a little more difficult.

Since the flight out was rather smooth through security, I didn’t expect much of a problem on my return flight. Flying Delta this time, the agent at the desk did not want to let me check my bags. She kept insisting that it was federal law for me to show ID and that she can’t let me check bags without it. After arguing with her for about 10 minutes, I demanded to see the supervisor. She left for a minute and, when she came back, printed my tickets and took my checked bags. When handing me my tickets (with SSSS boldly printed), she claimed the only reason they were letting me fly was because this was my returning flight. If that was true, getting on a plane would be as easy as claiming you were returning home. Other than that, getting through security was easy. Again, they bumped me to the front of an, admittedly short, line, and did similar procedures as my first flight. The TSA agent was very nice, did a quick frisk, and a quick look through my bag. He did not swab everything in my bag this time, doing only the zippers on the bag, my cell phone, my shoes, and my laptop.

All in all, I did not run into any major problems going through security, with only a small snafu with a Delta representative. My main issue with the entire process is why its necessery for such a search simply because the person does not have ID. Whether I have ID or not does not change what I am trying to carry onto the plane. I completely fail to understand what safety having ID brings to air travel. With the completion of this test, I think my next step is to fly with no identifying items whatsoever. By this I mainly mean buying my ticket with cash, since I did buy the ticket with a credit card, thus giving the airline a traceable address. My goal of true anonymous travel may have to wait a while, as I do not have any air travel plans in the works at this point.

Bye Bye Windows!

The motherboard in my one and only Windows machine (aka ompy) has threw in the towel after a few months of agony. The Asus A8N-SLI Premium motherboard has had problems coming online from a cold boot. When I try to turn the machine on, it only stay on for about 5 seconds and then shut off. It will keep doing that , but once in a while it will start. Once the computer boots, everything is dandy, which makes me wonder if theres a flaw in the motherboard itself causing a short early in the boot sequence. Its also possible that the system is drawing too much power too quickly, causing an in-rush current spike, and tripping the built in short circuit protection. I haven’t had the time for do a proper investigation of the problem, but from what I’ve been reading on various forums its a problem with one of the motherboards power regulation transistors.

Since that machine is down and out, I decided to give my main Ubuntud Linux machine (aka gizmonic) a little boost with the EVGA GeForce 7900GT video card that was in my Windows machine. Gizmonic was using a very old PCI video card that was laying around, but after experiencing Beryl with a good video card, I may just have to buy a new card for Linux use only.

Of course the main reasion I was anxious to get a computer up and running was the fact that I just bought Supreme Commander and was really looking forward to playing. Wine was the next best thing, but the install would error after about 95% with the cryptic “Error 25”. I’ve looked around Google, but no one else seems to have tried to get it working under Wine. The only good news is that I sucessfully got Counter Strike Source working.

Since I don’t know when I will have a Windows machine running again, I’m going to take this opportunity and work exclusively with Linux. At the very least, I’m going to turn my main desktop into a dual boot machine so that Linux too can bask in the glory of dual core FX-60 goodness. I plan on putting all my media onto a network storage machine, so that my music, movies, and other fun stuff will be available to both systems, as well as my servers. I want to implement RAID 5 for my network storage, but the good RAID adapters go for $350+. More on my homemade NAS in a later post.