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Tuesday, June 7th, 2005

So Much to Say II

So on to my evening with Web. We were both early at the appointed meeting spot, and I unexpectedly spotted him from a distance as he walked up, and he seemed to recognize (surprise!) me. I can’t remember whether he came to Andy’s funeral, and if he didn’t, it has been probably 22 years since I last saw him. I figure I’m supposed to be the hard one to recognize – in 1983, when I graduated high school, I was 6′ 4″, weighed about 145 pounds soaking wet, and had glasses and hair down to my shoulders. Now I’m 6′ 5″, weigh 270 pounds in the morning before eating or drinking and after a trip to the bathroom, cut my hair whenever it is long enough to, wear contacts, and sport a van dyke/goatee (authorities quibble about the definition) in a vain attempt to de-emphasize my non-existent primary chin and hide my all-too-plentiful second (and possibly third) chin(s.) I was surprised at spotting him, because at 6′ 5″ you don’t get much practice spotting people in public – they have a tendency of spotting you first. I guess I was saved by the fact that Web hasn’t changed much in appearance except for losing the Prince Valiant haircut he carried all through high school.

So we’re outside this English pub, which I had given him shit for suggesting, considering his Irish Republican blog rants, and I asked him if he liked microbreweries. He denied being a pub rat and responded favorably to my suggestion of going to the Mission Brewery that I had passed coming in. I knew the Strauss brewery/restaurant was nearby, but am not called upon often to entertain out-of-town guests, so I wasn’t sure where it was. So we go to the Mission Brewery that I saw, and it turned out to be a redeveloped office complex (the real Mission Brewery is apparently across the Bay in Coronado.) Giving up on that idea, we went to Old Town, where I knew there were some decent Mexican restaurants with generous drink servings. Of course, this was before the state re-leased every restaurant concession in Old Town State Park, and the new concessionaires, Delaware North, are a bunch of stumblebums who must have slipped a huge kickback to our former governor, Gray (insert critical epithet here) Davis, in order to boot the perfectly competent people who had been there for 32 years. Do I rant? The food was terrible, only ameliorated by the dismal service.

Luckily, we had some catching up to do, and being sufficiently fortified prior to the meeting, I was able to relax and enjoy the conversion. I only had to duck out to the patio for a smoke once. Pauline – don’t worry – your Web done good. I was presented with the obligatory cassette of filial photographs in a timely manner, and based on blog readings I was able to get pretty close to Web’s sons’ names – Cathan instead of Cathal, and Micheal instead of Matthew. Considering my luck with names, two triples in a row. I still think my suggestion for his most recent born was better – some obscure Irish name that had two dozen letters but only two syllables and actually sounded like a name – and Web expressed his interest and said it was reserved for the next son.

The banter was enjoyable, and somehow I was able to get through recounting the sorrier parts of my life without shame or fear of embarrassment. Maybe it has been the practice, but more likely it was the sense of comfort that comes from talking to an old friend who has heard the most ridiculous stuff you can ever say – that of a sixteen-year old – and continued to be your friend. One of the juicier parts was when Web revealed some old gossip of my own sister’s past antics. Apparently, she and Web’s sister, Margaret, had been friends after I had finished high school and left, and he was familiar with some of their mutual activities.

A slightly distressing part was when Web mentioned that he had read my technical posts and found them to be “way over his head.” I’ve tried to be expository, if not pedantic, with my technical posts, and Web is a smart cookie. If he’s not following it, I’m making some big mistakes.

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, Posts About Me at 01:49 PST

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So Much to Say…

Guess I have to wrap up the last story first…

I came home from an evening out with Web Mayfield (more later) and the baby was asleep, so I had a little time on my hands. I decided to tackle the computer problems (especially since my wife had called me about six times at work today trying to get to her email.) The old computer, designated Chelsea’s, was not running Windows – it rebooted every time you tried to select a user, and the new one I built was not detecting my wireless access point. On Saturday it had detected all the local access points except mine – providing the temptation to hitch a ride on one of the unsecured ones. What was really infuriating was that when I elected to let Windows manage my network connections instead of the native Hawking (Ralink 2500) utility, I could see my access point in the Hawking util (which now had connect functions disabled), but couldn’t see it in the Windows wireless network scans. Then on Sunday it couldn’t detect any.

It troubled me to have to deal with two major failures at once, and distracted my thinking, but it was what it was. I had tried Windows System Restore on Chelsea’s, tried booting in safe mode, tried booting a CD-mounted Linux [SuSE 9.1 – my Knoppixes (Knoppices?) were at work] and it became clear that I had a major malfunction in one of Window’s core files. I must have run chkdsk half a dozen times, but no joy. At least I could access the hard drive for file salvage, though. What really had me consternated was the new computer. I had tried replacing the antenna and moving the extended one around a lot, but the only difference I noted was when I picked up fewer access points. Except that now I wasn’t getting any.

Which brings me to now. I pulled out the WinXP CD-ROM and tried booting to it on Chelsea’s computer, but that just gave me the same System Restore Console that had proved worthless before. I booted to various safe modes. Finally, I scheduled a chkdsk with “automatically fix file system errors” and “scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors” in Safe Mode and rebooted. This ran another chkdsk with a little more feedback than in DOS mode, and it sure was taking a long time.

So I booted up the laptop that had given Raquel so much trouble earlier today and found a lot of disconnects while trying to check all the router settings remotely. What the hell! It had worked fine this weekend!

So I went upstairs to the roommate’s room and booted his computer with the hard wire connection, only to find the laptop had the router admin screen reserved. I had considered rebooting the router, and now was the time to do it. Actually, I rebooted it a couple of times because I was trying to remember the router/VoIP boot sequence ( I had to reboot the VoIP box with the router – I use Vonage, by the way, and am very happy with it.) I considered turning off the WEP, as that has helped me reconnect to the access point in the past, but that was only when I had been cruising my neighbors’ networks and had had trouble reconnecting to my own WEP-enabled one – and I had never lost sight of my own access point. It just didn’t feel right, so I left it alone.

The upstairs phone worked, so I had somehow managed to reestablish the VoIP connection, and I went downstairs. I logged off all the users and rebooted the new computer. By now I was feeling the pressure from Raquel of having spent a lot of time on computers with no results to show for it – she seems to think I can just wave my hand and fix anything – and was getting tense. In a cascade of wonder, however, everything came together. The rebooted new computer connected to the Internet! Chelsea’s computer was done with the chkdsk, rebooted, and it seemed to be stable now – I could log on! I couldn’t detect my WAP, but who cares right now! (Actually, it’s an ominous sign.)

So now I have a connection restored and am able to recount the experience tonight, instead of wasting most of my morning at work tomorrow trying to record it. I still don’t know for sure what I did, but I have a new repertoire to try next time something like this happens. Time to wrap up this post and start a new one.

Posted by Greg as Networking, OS at 00:33 PST

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