Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Frustration and the Gym

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?

Leaving the gym tonight I was reminded of the above two quotes, and I’ll explain here how they tie together.

Three or four years ago I decided to begin going to the gym, to try and improve both my health and my physique. I went somewhat regularly – usually 2 or 3 days/week – until last August. Last August I became very busy and stopped finding time for the gym.

Last week I resumed my workouts, and since Wednesday I’ve gone to the gym 5 out of 7 days. According to my log at the Nike.com website (iPod tracks my workouts and uploads them automatically), I’ve run about 13.8 miles since Wednesday. Untracked by the iPod are the weight machines, that I also use each visit.

Even after I’d been going to the gym pretty regularly for two years I didn’t *look* any more fit or trim than I did before I’d started. And after hitting the weight machines and then running 3 miles tonight, I looked down at my pathetically sweaty and panting self, and I saw the same Homer Simpson physique that I’ve had for my entire adult life.

Working out doesn’t make me trimmer; it simply increases my appetite, cancelling out any slimming effects the additional exercise might have bestowed upon me.

But, thanks probably to cultural conditioning I still believe there must be some health benefits to the exercise regimen, despite my visibly unchanging fat torso. (“Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”)

And I keep returning to the gym, plugging away, and don’t intend to stop. (“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”)

I believe the only way I’ll ever slim down would be to eat more foods I don’t really like, and less foods I do like. Fifteen years ago I dramatically reduced my fast food and soft drink intake – that resulted in a one-time weight loss. I still prefer carbohydrates over other foods, and have no desire or intention of diving into veggies or salads. Thinking I’ll do that is unrealistic. When I’ve tried to eat healthier the effort usually fails within 3 meals. It’s simply not sustainable.

So it looks like the exercise alone is never going to make me slim, and yet I’ll keep doing it. I guess that makes me insane, at least on some level.


Monday, June 11, 2012

A very funny snippet from one of my current favorite TV shows

Sheldon: All right, I’ve taken the liberty of drafting these workflow charts which outline our various duties and the path we will follow as we develop our ground-breaking new app.

Raj: Hey, why am I in charge of phone support? Seems a bit racist.

Sheldon: A customer service representative with an Indian accent will create the impression we’re a vast enterprise that uses overseas call centres.

Raj: Oh. Very clever. But still racist.

Sheldon: Duly noted, Steve from Wichita.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

I am victorious, again

Lately our house has bred friction due to Nate, Maren, and Jess all wanting to use the computer at the same time. Yeah, I know, we should all suffer such tragedies... Nate decided he wanted to use his accumulated allowance money to buy himself a laptop.

Instead, on May 5th I went to Microcenter and bought components to build a modern desktop PC to keep in the den for Nate & Maren to share, and something to keep them off of Jess' laptop.

Parts list:
  • Gigabyte Z77M-D3H motherboard
  • Seagate ST310005N1A1AS HDD - 1Tb, 7200rp
  • Corsair 8Gb DDR3 RAM
  • Intel Core i5-3570k CPU, retail box
  • Sony bulk DVD-RW
  • CoolerMaster 500w PSU

I assembled the components, re-using an old case and power supply (PSU), but otherwise using all new parts. (Planned to return the PSU if I could use the old.) The system frequently locked up, with no rhyme or reason.

Over the last month I didn't have time to focus on the problem, but occasionally tried to figure it out.

I tested the RAM for 7 hours, no errors. I ran a disk utility from the hdd manufacturer, found no errors there. I booted off of Live CDs, the system still locked up sometimes.

Over the weekend I returned to Microcenter and discussed the problem with one of their system builders. After describing everything I'd done so far, he concluded that given everything I'd tried so far, maybe the motherboard itself was bad, and suggested I bring it back for an exchange.

I returned the next day and exchanged the motherboard. Microcenter was great about the whole process.

After swapping the motherboard the system still locked up inexplicably. I then swapped the PSU with a brand-new PSU. That didn't help either.

I flashed the BIOS to the latest BIOS revision. Still no help.

I finally found the solution on Sunday night, buried deep in a British forum focused on Gigabyte motherboards.
- http://forums.overclockers.co.uk/showthread.php?t=18396884&page=11

Sunday night I raised the BCLK setting in the BIOS from the default 100.00 to 100.10, and the machine has been on since then, and hasn't locked up yet.


Friday, June 01, 2012


Two or three years ago I became the thrilled owner of a brand-new Hewlett-Packard (HP) Photosmart Premium Wireless All-in-One printer. I loved this printer - inexpensive ink, wireless-N, built-in quick-forms, touch-screen, scan-to-web-page interface, and on and on.

My only criticism was that the platen was not legal-size, but that only matters very infrequently.

Then last fall the computer wouldn't connect to the printer. So, as I've done many times before I uninstalled the printer software, planning to reinstall and proceed as normal.

The reinstallation error'ed out.

I battle with mal-adjusted, malcontent, socially deviant computers and assorted technologies for a living, and I certainly wasn't going to just sit there and take any disrespect from that piece of plastic and silicon.

Unfortunately, the printer was winning for several months. Every so often I'd take another crack at installing the printer software, and I never succeeded. Each attempt would last several hours - the best I ever managed was to get basic printing working, but no scanning functionality was present.

Finally, today, after another prolonged battle lasting most of the day, I've defeated the programmers at HP, Intel, & Microsoft. They put up a good effort, but in the end I was able to get the printer software installed on my computer once again, with full functionality. The guys and gals that worked on the installation software will now just have to go find somebody else to push around!

And now, in case another soul comes across this post, the gory details:
Printer: HP c309g-m
OS: Windows 7 64-bit
Computer: Lenovo T420 laptop

HP AIO installer would not run successfully. Depending on what I tried, sometimes the installer would simply begin running and then simply abort. The install program would just disappear. Other times, I'd see error messages like

"X:\hpzprl40.exe not found"



"Fatal Error"


Searching Bing or Google with combinations of terms such as HP Printer can't install fatal error c309 temp not found will result in numerous results. I spent many hours, on many days, over many months poring through the results with no success.

I tried uninstalling and re-installing various bits & pieces (anything HP-related, Adobe Flash, .NET). I tried running the installer as Administrator. I tried running the installer on 2 different graphics cards (my laptop has an NVIDIA Optimus hybrid graphics system). I tried disabling the HP Updates. I tried disabling my firewall.I tried capturing the extracted install files before the installer failed, and then running setup directly from those files instead of letting the installer extract them and then run the temp files.

Nothing helped.

Finally, today I found a post on the Microsoft Answers message board with the answer. ( http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_vista-hardware/hp-photosmart-printer-software-installation/8681fee2-296b-4927-bc88-eeb15ade0416 )

I updated the Intel wireless driver for my laptop, and afterward was able to install the HP printer software successfully. Hallelujah!

(I still haven't re-installed Flash, but I don't think that has anything to do with the problem.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


My latest fantasy:
1) Win a life-changing lottery pool.
2) Hire gardener/landscaper/yardguy.
3) Quit job.
4) Start a Computer Geek/Fix-it service providing services to the public, according to the following:
---- Unprofitably low rates - maybe $25 flat-rate or something like that.
---- Rather than accepting payments, have a computer set-up on the desk that 'customers' use to make online donations to a charity they choose from a list of charities I've selected.
--- Once the person needing assistance makes the donation, I fix their computer.

Keeps me feeling productive, improves the world, and hopefully is more relaxing for me than actually working for a business that must turn a profit.

And of course there's always my fallback-fantasy - retire, move to the Caribbean, and take a job as a taxicab driver for cruise-ship passengers, ferrying the tourists between the dock and the various on-shore attractions.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Back from the grave.

Keeping this short and sweet:

- a coworker needed my help to access Google Analytics. That reminded me of this blog's existence, and I realized I've neglected the page for almost a year. So I'm back.

- recently decided to learn guitar. Bought a used Yamaha. Have spent some time over the last two nights beginning to teach myself how to play. After about an hour last night, I noticed the tips of some of the fingers on my left hand were sore and beginning to be calloused. I felt pride in that! :-)

- I saw an old post on this blog about an Asus laptop I bought from Woot, that was being sent back for repair. I never updated that post. End result - Asus hardware is awesome. Asus service and support is every bit as BAD as their products are good. We ended up returning the laptop to Woot for a full refund, less my shipping costs to Asus for unsuccessful repairs.

I still love Woot, but have less respect for Asus than I had previously.

- There was also an old post about Bioshock on the PS3. I still haven't made time to continue playing much, but before I stopped playing I found an effective solution for the motion-sickness problem: Sea-Bands. I can't explain why they work, and if the relief is psycho-somatic I don't care. They DO relieve the problem, at least for me. While I don't understand accupressure I'm happy to benefit from it.

-- Lastly - today is Maren's Birthday! Happy Birthday Maren!!!!!