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Spied in a corner of the back porch…

Fatass_spider

Where’s Frodo?

Wheres_frodo

Cat-in-a-bag. By the way, I meant to elaborate on that cryptic post that simply said "Home" a while back; Frodo is no longer our foster kitten and is now one of the family. His upper respiratory infection is minor but chronic (like Simon, he probably has feline herpes) and every time it came time to bring him back in he seemed to have a flare-up. Simon loves him, and Wednesday even plays with him, and he sort of fit right in so we adopted him.

New design site

I built a new site for the web design stuff I’ve been doing and have it up and running — still planning on adding some rollover effects to the links but it’s otherwise done, just something simple. The graphic we used, and the name, are a tribute to Nipsy, who we still miss terribly. I had to come up with a new domain name because I had let the domain registration lapse on the old design site and someone else scooped it up… which reminds me, how many of you had gone back to the old Dancing Cricket link and noticed that not only had the layout radically changed, but it now features some, uh, ‘adult’ content links? If anyone did, I sure hope they realized it was someone else’s site rather than thinking it was us, and being too polite to mention it…

Anyway, here’s the new link: Silver Cat Studio

Simon’s paradise

Simon_sun

Sheesh…

OK, I haven’t had a good rant here in a while… we’ve been having thunderstorms all day so this one might be cut short but let me try and get this out of my system. Recently I decided to finally update our PC, Firefly, a bit. I replaced the CD burner that died a year ago with a brand new DVD burner — I managed to be practical rather than vain so it now looks a little odd with one beige faceplate on an otherwise black system, but hey, it was on sale, it’s a good brand, and I can actually back things up again now. I upgraded my mixed Office 2000/Office 2002 apps to Office 2003, which fixed a few gnarly little errors I was getting when trying to get Word 2002 to cooperate with the older O2K apps, and I was forced into upgrading Norton Internet Security as well. That one has been a bit of a thorn in my side, as it kept crashing with a C++ runtime error but a reinstall seems to have fixed it.

Those things I updated to fix various errors but I also took advantage of a really good special that Macromedia was running to upgrade from Dreamweaver/Fireworks 4 to Macromedia Studio MX 2004 which added Flash, Illustrator, Coldfusion and some other stuff I didn’t have before. I’ve been pretty excited about that, it’s been a long time since I had any new ‘toys’ and the new versions are much better integrated with each other. So now I have all these shiny new things running, and I noticed something unpleasant. Firefly, who’s been dragging a bit for a while, has slowed to a crawl. Trying to do just about anything (OK, with me its always more like several anythings at once) results in a lot of thrashing from the hard disk and some downright bizarre behavior. And I realized that the minimal RAM that came on this machine when we got it just wasn’t cutting it for all this new stuff.

When we bought this machine I wanted to bump it up to 512 MB RAM at least, but the price was ridiculous. I figured that I could always wait until prices came down a bit and then throw in a couple more sticks. The P4 machine motherboards Gateway was using at the time used Rambus RAM, which was supposed to be the latest and greatest. A year later I priced an upgrade and found that a GB would cost me over $800 and half that was still out of this world. I gave up on it and forgot about it until this past week… prices didn’t come down a whole heck of a lot since then.

My first stop was the PC manufacturer’s web site, so I could look up the specs on the existing RAM I had and determine what I needed. It comes in two versions, I was pretty sure which one I had but not positive. They have a little wizard that runs through and tells you what upgrades are available after you plug in your serial number. It told me there were no available memory upgrades for my machine… um… OK. So I tried their little sales ‘chat’ thingy.

I explained I wanted to upgrade and wasn’t sure if my existing memory was ECC or non-ECC, could they check? Mr. Helpful Sales Guy says he would recommend I upgrade immediately because I only have 128 MB of RAM. I reply no, actually I have 256 and ask again. He replied that they could sell me an upgrade for X number of dollars that will work for my machine. Great, but is it ECC or not?  He asked if I wanted to order the upgrade or not. Either he wasn’t answering it because he figured I just wanted to get the info so I could order from somewhere cheaper (guilty on that count), or he just didn’t know the answer, either way he p*ssed me off so I closed the chat window.

Next, I decided to take a look at our local electronics superstore, who I am about to go off on a little so I will just refer to them as ‘that wild-west themed store in northeast Dallas’. I stood beside the board of little price stickers for a good 15 minutes while sales clerks pushed past me to ask all of the people around me if they needed help. I don’t often feel discriminated against, but I *was* the only woman there. Finally a sales clerk who looked about 15 came over and asked the man beside me, who’d been there about half the time I had, if he needed help, and the man said "I think this lady was here first." The clerk said "oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were here with someone." (um.. what’s that  supposed to mean? I was waiting patiently while the man of the house handled the ‘technical’ stuff?) OK… biting my tongue, giving the benefit of the doubt… I explained I had some questions about Rambus RAM.

Helpful teenager asks what my question is, and when I tell him, he at least admits he can’t answer it. He refers me to gregarious sales manager type standing over by the order desk. He explains I have questions about RAM and flees. Gregarious salesman is all smiles and asks what type I am looking for, and says "we can sell you 128 MB for X dollars." I explain that I am looking to upgrade by at least half a GB or more and explain that I don’t know if my existing RAM is ECC or non-ECC; say that I am assuming the latter but can I return the memory if I buy some and it’s not compatible? He explains that ECC means error correcting. I said I know that, and he explains that means it has an extra parity chip  and I answered that I knew that too, what I didn’t know was the parity of my existing memory, and if all the memory modules had to match or only if each pair had to be the same. He admitted he didn’t know either and wandered off.

I contemplated leaving… I wasn’t even sure I was going to buy anything when I got there… stubbornness won out — damnit after all this SOMEONE was going to deal with me. Helpful teenager wouldn’t make eye contact at this point and gregarious salesman had disappeared. I finally got the attention of a third clerk, another teenager, and when I said which RAM I wanted he said "oh, for one of those older P4 motherboards, right?" and explained that he’d need to check to see if they even had any in stock, as they were discontinuing it. As it turned out, they were out of all the 256 MB sticks except for one pair of one of the cheaper brands. I didn’t bother to check on the 512 MB sticks — he’d uttered the dreaded words "older" and "discontinued" so there was no sense spending more than twice as much to upgrade… I might as well put in enough to make things livable for a while and then just plan on a new motherboard somewhere down the road. And since they were the last two modules, I went ahead and got them.

Seeing that a sale had been clinched, gregarious saleman type suddenly reappears and asks if I would like to have an A+ Certified technician install the RAM for me? I answered "I am an A+ certified technician" and he stood there uncomfortably trying to decide if I was serious or being a bitch (it was both) then wandered off again. The entire experience was capped off by the fact that the sales clerk and I had to go find another order terminal on the other side of the store because "their printer was jammed." The irony of a computer store being unable to clear a printer jam struck me funny but I kept it to myself, the sales clerk checking me out had actually been the only helpful one in the bunch and I didn’t want to give him a hard time.

Installing the RAM was a lot easier than buying it, I must say. Firefly now has 768 MB — triple what was in there before — and is running much faster. A defrag and maybe a couple of other tweaks and we should be in good shape for a while, at least.

Discontinued?

Older?

<sniff> Gonna pretend I didn’t hear those words.