40GB takes some time to fill

One of the many things I got for Christmas was a re-conditioned fourth generation 40GB iPod. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! to my wise and perceptive friends who gave me this device! It replaces a 10GB third generation iPod that Mrs. Geek gave me my birthday three years ago. I love my first iPod, but it was not able to hold all the contents of my CD collection by a long stretch. This new iPod will be able to hold the whole collection with room to spare.

The problem now is ripping all that additional music and storing it somewhere on a computer (I prefer to just automatically sync my iPod, rather than manually control the copy process). I solved the latter problem by buying a 160GB SATA drive for a mere $80 this past weekend (I remember when I got a hard drive for something like 20 cents a MB, not 50 cents a GB!). No I just need to use iTunes to convert all of my remaining CDs into files that my iPod can understand. That process will take a while — weeks probably, a month maybe, possibly more.

I think it will be worth the effort though. There are a lot of CDs in my collection that I don’t want to listen to all the time, but I get a hankering to listen to occasionally. Now I will have them all at my finger tips.

throttling principals

I sometimes want to choke the principal at Mrs. Geek’s school. It is very likely a bad thing to want to wish violence on the principal of a Catholic school, what with Catholic guilt and all. Instead, I should just write about it here. That will help.

As a bit of background, let me first say that Mrs. Geek’s school has an office automation problem. Namely, they have nearly none. Oh, there’s a little use of spreadsheets here and there. People sometimes write a document on a word processor. E-mail is not a completely foreign concept (though some people prefer to respond to e-mails by printing them out, making annotations, and then physically placing said responses on paper in teacher mail boxes). Most teachers do record grades using Easy Grade Pro. On the whole however, there is very little computer use going on with respect to streamlining day to day school administration.

The principal at this school knows this and has some good intentions about changing it — though she sometimes seems to take an attitude toward technology that verges on “I don’t know nothin’ about that boneheaded computer crap”. Her first stab at it was to purchase a school automation package specifically aimed at Catholic schools that used the letter C in the name (maybe Catholic?). We were never sure what the C stood for, but to us it stands for CRAP. Both Mrs. Geek and I warned her off buying this software; Mrs. Geek had misgivings about how well it would work in the classroom, and I said “please consider how well it will fit into your day to day business before buying” which is a professional warning to think really, really, REALLY hard before buying it.

She got it anyway. When teachers discovered that marking a child absent took several seconds for the check box to fill in (because that tiny bit of information had to travel all the way from Mrs. Geek’s school to a server in the software company’s machine room and back), all hope was abandoned and the search for an alternative began. I have told her that I would help evaluate that alternative just avoid another fiasco.

That brings us to yesterday. Mrs. Geek was asked to fill in for the Math Teacher for the afternoon. Part way through her time teaching math, the principal comes to Mrs. Geek and says “I’m going to a meeting you should probably be attending”. Where is the principal going? To another Catholic school to see a presentation on the package of software used to run that school. The company who makes this particular package of software seems thoroughly competent and respectable. They also cost about four times as much as the C software people, but hey, this really is one of those cases where you get what you pay for. I know this because she gave Mrs. Geek and I some materials handed out at that meeting and asked “what do you think?”

I want to throttle her. If she really wanted a well thought out opinion, Mrs. Geek and I should both have been at that meeting yesterday. But no, we are only given a few scraps of paper instead of a working demo. I also fear that any comments we have will also be placed in the “boneheaded computer crap” file. As a software professional, I don’t like being treated this way and I really don’t like how Mrs. Geek is being treated in all this.

*sigh* The school will probably get the package. That will largely be a good thing. Of course, it probably won’t fit all of their needs. Mrs. Geek and I will then get the call to “fix it”. Fixing it will likely involve customizing the package — something Mrs. Geek and I could definitely advise the school about if we were really involved in the evaluation and purchase process to begin with.

I want to throttle her, and that’s not good.

stupid whirring noises

Alas, I spoke too soon. My computer at home is still not completely well. I turned it on this morning and it made loud whirring noises again for a few seconds. Argh!

Well, ok, maybe the noises weren’t quite as loud as before. It is possible that yesterday’s efforts weren’t completely for naught. At any rate, I’ve replaced the two most expensive and important fans in the computer (for the CPU and the power supply). I can replace the others at my leisure.

an end to the holidays

My parents went back to the Land Of My Birth today and made it home safe and sound. In all, it was a very good visit. We struck a nice balance between tourist activities and basic relaxation while they were here. I liked it. After all the drama they’ve endured during the last couple of years, it felt good to be able to show them a good time and in the process say “look… we’re doing ok… we’re relatively drama free and happy… you don’t need to worry about us too much.” I think that message was sent and received. I was just getting used to having them around… so I will miss them.

Today also is my last day off before returning to the work in the salt mines. I’m starting to see things a bit clearer after some time off. Perhaps I should have taken a full two weeks off. I certainly have the vacation time saved up… but there is work to be done. I think I just need to make sure that I take better care of myself this year. I don’t want to get into a list of New Year’s resolutions; my last such few lists have failed miserably.

My last day of freedom was spent doing two things. The first was watching a DVD set of the TV movie version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I got it last week, but had no time to just sit down and watch it until today.

The second was some computer repairs. My computer at home was making some interesting whirring noises when I first started the computer in the morning. I narrowed that to the CPU cooling fan. Since the last thing I want is for that fan to fail, I went out and got a new one. It’s a funky looking thing, almost the size of a softball, with a fan and lots of copper fins. I also got a bigger power supply — my old one was a little under powered for the CPU/motherboard combo.

It all went together in reasonably good order, which is about all you can ask. My computer doesn’t make those noises anymore. That’s about all I can ask.

As a fitting cap to the holiday season, I listened to Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” one more time before it goes back into the vaults until next November. It was a nice way to end the winter break. Tomorrow, my nose goes back to the grindstone!