Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
9:00 pm - Projects  
It's been a busy couple three weekends project-wise. Having finally managed to get the mouldings stained and the face frame pieces cut for the nerd hole bench, I haven't done much else on it. I got sidetracked by another nerd hole project, a flight simulator friendly desk for the super-duper gaming computer that I bought six months ago but have barely used since. That's really turned into a saga worthy of its own post once it's finished, so more at a later date. But there have also been some smaller things, especially this last weekend.

For one thing, I started and completed a sewing project. Yup, I sewed the two parts of a piece of velcro to a length of black elastic to be used as a strap to keep the right leg of my athletic pants from getting caught in the chain ring of my bike now that it's long pants riding season again. It's a much more elegant and comfortable solution that the rubber bands that I had bee using. I first tried this last spring using adhesive-backed velcro, but the glue started letting go after a few rides. Then I tried sewing on the adhesive velcro, but the glue stuck the the needle really well, which killed that pretty quick. So I picked up a pack of non-sticky velcro and got out my shoe box of sewing supplies. An hour later I was done. I tried it out tonight, and it worked great.

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The main reason I haven't used my new computer (Flash II) is that I didn't have a good place to set it up. I had it up on my desk next to my main machine (Swifty), but the monitor (a 19" CRT) was blocking my view of the TV*. So I wound up putting both the machine and the monitor on the floor in a corner of the office, where they sat for awhile. As mentioned above, I finally decided to do something about this sad state of affairs, and by this weekend I had enough of the required components available to MacGyver a desk of sorts for it, and set Flash back up. There were some nervous moments early on, because it had apparently forgotten some settings in the interim, and was balking at starting XP, but some quality time in setup got it booting properly**.

* Talk about your first world problems...

** For some reason it was trying to boot from the USB external hard drive that I had attached to it. Silly machine.

Flash came with a 500 GB drive, but I'd recently picked up another 500 GB drive for it (from Newegg for $44 after rebate), so I installed that. Once I got everything partitioned, I installed a copy of the Windows 7 Release Candidate in a new partition, and set the machine up to dual boot XP and Win7. I never have switched to Vista, either at home or at work, but I'd heard good things about Win7, and it didn't cost anything, so why not? The install routine is very smooth compared to XP, which stops every 5 minutes or so to ask another question about your preferred time zone and suchlike. Win7 gets most of the questions out of the way first, then asks the rest at the very end. Of course, once it was finished it took less than five minutes for me to be annoyed by something in the new OS. There'll be a fuller report once I've finished cataloging annoyances. There are a lot. There are a couple of things I like, too, but really, if I'd wanted a Mac user interface, I would've bought a Mac.

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Some projects are designed from scratch, and some are thrust upon you. Sunday, while sitting at my computer, I heard the smoke detector chirp. A few minutes later it chirped again, and then again, and again... Now if you have battery-powered smoke detectors, chirps like that usually mean the battery is dying. Except my smoke detectors are wired to house current. WTF? So I took a look at one of them, the basement detector, because it's the easiest to get at, since it's located at the top of the basement stairs, about five feet from the first floor detector in the hall. I disconnected it from its mounting plate, and detached the power wire. I tried to open it, like the battery one I had back in my old apartment, but no dice. That turned out to be just as well.

Meanwhile the chirps kept coming faster. I went and got the step ladder, and disconnected the other two detectors (one on each floor). Time for some research. A little googling told me that these models weren't meant to be opened. Suggested maintenance was vacuuming around any openings, and cleaning with a damp cloth, which I did. I put the basement unit back in place, hit the test button, and it seemed to be working fine. Reinstalled and tested the first floor unit, same thing. But up in the attic the test button did nothing, and the chirps started up again. Disconnected the attic unit, and the chirping stopped. Tried connecting the unit to the basement mount, same thing. The test button didn't work, and the chirping came back. Back to the computer...

Most of the stuff I saw put the useful life of a smoke detector at about 10 - 15 years. Mine are 20 years old. Time to replace, I guess. The manufacturer was bought by another company, and the model isn't made any more, but there's a direct replacement, and Amazon carries them for $10 apiece, with free super-saver shipping if your order is more than $25. So I bought replacement units for all three detectors, and Amazon tells me they shipped today.

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I planted a tree last night, a little 7' tall crabapple I picked up at Lowe's. It's in the front yard in a such position to eventually block the direct rays of the setting summer sun from blinding me whilst I sit at this here computer. I may name it Edna, after Edna Krabappel. My grandmother was also named Edna, so there's that, too.
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fatoudustfatoudust on September 16th, 2009 - 04:39 pm
Awesome! I love love hearing about your projects.

I will be anxious to hear what you think of 7. I'm on Vista by way of having bought new computers in the past year, but I have a couple of desktop builds I need to do and I'm dithering on what to put on them.

Edna is a faboo name for your crabapple. I have trees to plant too, but suspect they will fail as they are well past when I was supposed to have them in the ground. And I have some fall weeding to do as well, because I want to do some grass seeding this season. Gotta get out there and get that done.
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