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!

"On" Switch

Its funny what can pick you up at times. I was having a crappy morning at work, stuff just wasn't happening. E-mail, code changes, IT guys in the basement...nothing seemed to be working today.

Actually, the guys in the basement never work, so that really shouldn't bother me.

I left for lunch a few minutes early, sat down, ordered my meal, and waited. I was just full of piss and vinegar and wondering what else was going to go wrong.

My meal came (steak and eggs, I wanted to "split the difference between breakfast and lunch), and then "Drive My Car" by the Beatles came on. As I dove into the food and started tapping my feet to the music, I started to feel better. Suddenly, work stuff didn't seem like a big deal anymore...the rest of the day lay ahead, but I was ready for it.


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!

Here In My Car...I Feel Nothing At All

I am not a "car guy," and for the life of me, I just don't get the "car thing." I could not tell you the difference between year X and year Y of a particular vehicle, and I cannot recognize vehicles on sight.  If you are ever in an accident, you better hope I'm not one of the witnesses, because the conversation with the police would go something like this:

OFFICER: "Can you describe the vechicle, sir?"
RANDOMIZER9: "Yeah, it was, uh...silver! I think it had four wheels, too!"

I have friends that are "car guys" and I can hang with them for awhile, but once they get beyond a certain point, I quit hearing their words and the only thing I hear is the "Wah wah waah" of Charlie Brown's teacher as they blather on about fuel-air mixes and trans-a-missions and all that.

I currently own a 2005 Dodge Neon. It is a conveyance, a box on wheels that gets me from Point A to Point B, and when I'm on vacation, to Point C. I keep it maintained, and I might even treat it to a wash every so often, but that's it. "Car guys" on the other hand, have an attachment to their vehicles that borders on creepy. On Randomizer9's Freak-O-Meter, they sit a few notches above pet owners who dress up their pets or name them "Baby," but I digress.

I'm not entirely in the clear on this one, though, because I did give my car a name: the "Reliant." I also did go "oooh!" when that yellow Lamborghini passed me up on I-10 awhile back, and I like Corvettes. I also considered an intake kit for the Reliant recently, and if AutoZone would have had one in stock, there might be a K&N air filter in the Reliant right now instead of a Fram. All things considered, I could be on the brink of becoming a car geek.

I think that my lack of car-guy-ness is due to the fact that I've never owned a vehicle that I ever really wanted. I have always gone with the practical choice out of economic necessity. The vehicle of my dreams is about a year's worth of payments away, though, and that fact that I have already decided on a name for it ("Excelsior") might be a precursor of things to come.

Once people start tuning me out, I think the line will have been crossed!

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...

LIBRIVOX.ORG is an online repository where public-domain audiobooks can be downloaded free of charge. I have decided to volunteer as a reader for them, starting out by doing some short poems. Its pretty neat, I just wish I could remember to pronounce "Librivox" properly, I say it like "library" but it should be more like "liberate." Oh well.
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There's Something About Dairy

Perhaps it is a consequence of growing up in a small town, but every so often I just HAVE to go to Dairy Queen. I don't go for the Hunger-Buster or even the Dude, though, I'm there for the ice cream.

Dairy Queen's soft serve is awesome; I always get a dipped cone or sundae after the meal. Its a simple pleasure that brings back memories of going to the Dairy Queen with the family as a child. Even now, I'll join my folks at the Dairy Queen for lunch when I'm in town, and its still a good time. Sure they aren't as fast as "the other guys" but that's more time to spend talking amongst family as well as any friends that happen to drop by.

Times and people change, but a dipped cone always hits the spot.
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Hand-Held Hassle

Once upon a time, before cell phones did everything under the sun, I had a Palm TX. I also had a basic cell phone (you know, for actually TALKING to people) and I used my trusty Palm to keep a calendar, as a address/phone book and to jot down ideas whenever they happened to pop in my head.

Time went on, and I decided it was time to upgrade my cell phone. I had been using T-Mobile's pay-as-you-go service for quite some time (best pre-paid plan, IMO) and as time passed on and I gained new friends, the number of minutes and text messages were getting to the point where getting a month-to-month plan was starting to make more sense.

Having been satisfied with my T-Mobile experience thus far, I decided to go to one of their stores and check out the shiny new phones (this was in late 2007). My hope was to get a phone that could do the PDA stuff that my Palm was currently doing, thus having everything in one handy device.

I went with a T-Mobile Dash running Windows Mobile 6.0. It appeared to have most of the stuff my TX did, and a full keyboard. I had to give up the touch screen, but for the most part it seemed like a good device.

Well, so much for that, Windows 6.0 sucks. I traded the simplicity of Palm's PDA applications and functions for a hand-held version of Microsoft Outlook. That would be great if this was a work phone, but on a personal device it is annoying as all hell. The Calendar sucks and the Contacts list has too many damn fields.

There is also no program for typing in NOTES. I have to open Microsoft Word just to type in my farking grocery list. Some Brainiac at Microsoft also decided it would be a good idea to remove the ability to create new Office docs. "New Word Document?" Ain't happening!

Instead, I keep a blank Word document on the phone, open it, and do a "Save As" whenever I wanted to create a new one. Farking brilliant.

Finally, Windows Mobile is just slow; I'm going to see which boots faster, my phone or my PC running Windows XP. Frankly, my money's on the PC, and its so old it only has ONE core!

Not all is lost, though...