Sep 29, 2009

Fantasy Football Update - Week 3

The Tribecards Trouncers managed to eke out a win this week in the Super Secret League in fantasy football. They bested the "!" with a score of 57.27 to 53.94. This moves the Trouncers to dead center in the league at 5th place so far this season. With a record of 2-1-0, they are in a three-way tie for 2nd place with "!" and "The Lucky Leprechauns."

The star this week for Tribecards by far and away was Big Ben, who netted 15.67 points. In a move that manager --David now regrets, the Trouncers had opted to put Julius Jones in the game in favor of sticking Joseph Addai on the bench for the week. It was a costly lapse in judgment. Addai put 9.55 fantasy points on the board, while Jones amassed a whopping 1.10 points. Luckily for --David, what really counts in this league are the wins and losses, though points do matter when the records are tied - like this week.

The Trouncers were also hoping Santonio Holmes was going to be a big star for them in Week 3, but that didn't happen either. His measly .90 points were overshadowed by Jerricho Cotchery's 11.40. The Trouncers are heavily weighted with Steelers, and so far that seems to be a hindrance rather than a help.

Leading the league in a two-way tie are "Cardiff Giants" and "Turkey Buzzards," each sowing incredible stamina going undefeated in the first three weeks!

Next week, the Trouncers take on the "Orlando Sharks," who are currently tied for last place with "NABALY." Neither of which has managed to win a game so far. The Trouncers are hoping to keep the Sharks on the losing side of things, while also hoping to change the "Streak: W-1" to "Streak: W-2." --David has tentatively swapped Holmes and Cotchery and also swapped Jones with Addai.

We'll see if the manager keeps those changes, and if so, how that affects the Trouncers in Week 4.

Vista "General Failure" Blues - and a fix!

WARNING: Technical content ahead!  (My apologies for not including this statement in other recent posts!)

As you have probably figured out by now, I get asked to work on people's computers pretty often. I had one yesterday that was giving me fits. It was a Vista-based machine that would not connect to the network - any network. So, I did some troubleshooting, eventually giving the machine a static IP address because it would not pick one up through DHCP.

Even an assigned address did not work. During a PING test, the machine kept reporting "General Failure." That has got to be one of the most useless messages I've seen in a while. Naturally, I fire up Google on a working machine and poke around for a bit.

One suggestion had to do with repairing Norton Internet Security on a machine. Well, this computer did not have that, but did have references to something called "Norton 360." I tired uninstalling it, repairing it, you name it. More errors. I did a System Restore to about a week ago and while that didn't fix the network problem, it did let me re-install Norton 360. Once that was done, everything ran smoothly again.

There is obviously something happening between Symantec (Norton) products and Vista's networking! I just got lucky in that the Norton 360 installation file was still available to me on the mahcine. Otherwise, I would have had to back up data and reformat the hard drive back to factory specs.

So, if you encounter a "General Failure" when you try to run a PING test, or you have trouble getting connected at all, you may want to check to see if you have a Symantec product on your machine. If you do, try re-installing it (or even better UNinstalling!).

Sep 27, 2009

Tech Support, Teaching, A Class Reunion, and Fun in the Sun

So this is what happens when I take a few days off from updating things - I suddenly find myself with four days' worth of posts all wrapped into one.  Such is the life of an inconsistent, jack-of-many-trades blogger.

Before I get into everything, I want to thank those of you that have taken the plunge and bought a copy of my book (or who have expressed interest in picking up a copy).  I really appreciate it more than I can express, but I'll try anyway because it means that much.  The stories in the book  - ("All This Digging" - see the image over there on the right?  Feel free to click on it. (Yeah, shameless plug, what I can say?) Feel free to check out  the preview.) - are much like most of my posts: not necessarily connected to each other, and not quite like reading the same thing twice.  I know it's hard to get a feel for what to expect when presented with a short excerpt of one story, and because of a suggestion from a fellow techie, I expanded the preview on to show you a taste of several different stories.  I have to admit, it is still weird when someone comes up to me and says, "Hey, I bought (or "am going to buy") your book..."  It is very humbling knowing how many friends, family, and other supporters are out there reading what *I* wrote.  Thank you all very much!  I also want you to feel free to review, critique, etc the book and let me know about it - good, bad, or ugly.  And if you review it online, send me the link and I'll post it (or if you send me the review with permission to reproduce it as a post, I can do that too!) on here.  Just another way for me to say "Thanks."

I know that not all the stories in the collection are going to appeal to everyone.  Some readers may find the story "All This Digging" a little too dark while finding "Forgiven" a little too "preachy."  Frankly, that's one of the things I liked about putting the collection together in the first place - (to borrow from the theme song) different strokes for different folks.  I also know that "short stories" and "short short stories" are not widely read these days.  So, I deeply appreciate those of you that are even THINKING of picking up the book.

I received a call the other day from someone needing help with their computer.  The computer was "extremely loud" after a few minutes of use, plus it would lock up or reboot at random times.  In techie terms, it sounded to me like this computer was overheating.  Those symptoms are textbook for a system that has too much dust, dirt, and other gunk inside the case.  So, I told the person to bring then computer to my place and I'd look at it.  I hooked it up, turned it on, and sure enough the thing started screaming within a few minutes.  I disconnected the wires and opened the case.  Inside, a coating of dust, dirt, and something I could not quite identify, covered everything.  I took the canned air and blew out what I could.  Unfortunately, the "gunk" would not come off easily.  The thick, black, fuzzy substance stuck to chips, the main CPU fan, and just about everything else inside the computer.  Using cotton swabs, paper towels, and the canner air, I was able to get things back in operation.

Afterward, the person said, "That was probably nicotine, huh?"  I said that it could have been a combination of that and dust in general.  But, that person knew the right thing - cigarettes are one of a computer's worst enemies.  Have you seen the images of what smoking does to one's lungs?  Well, it does the same thing to your electronics - computers, cell phones, TV's, stereo equipment, iPods, you name it.

So, how do you clean out your computer?  Ideally, leave it to someone that knows what they are doing.  Short of that, though, most computers have either a latch that keeps the cover on or a couple screws in the back along the edge that keeps the cover in place.  Once the screws are removed on one side of the computer, the side of the case should slide open.  Once the side is removed, you can use a can of compressed air to blow out the dust bunnies living inside.  I recommend you do this OUTSIDE of your house. :-)  Two things you NEVER want to use inside your computer: water and a vacuum cleaner. 

Seriously. Do NOT spray water into your computer trying to clean it.  Water will cause everything (or at least enough things) to short out.  We are talking electronics here!  Some of you may be laughing right now, but I have been asked PERSONALLY by someone who wanted to just "wash out" their computer.  Please, do NOT use water - no matter how gunked up things are!

Vacuum cleaners are also a no-no!  Why?  Because when you run the vacuum, it builds up a HUGE amount of static electricity.  Well, if you take that static electricity and touch sensitive electronic parts and that static discharges, it can fry those sensitive electronics inside your computer!  They do make "electronics-friendly" vacuums, though, so you could buy one of those at Best Buy or online if you want to. 

But, as I said when I started this, ideally you should leave cleaning the inside of your computer up to someone you trust to service your computer.  Just don't be fooled into playing a lot for it, though.  Seriously, no more than 20 bucks for a thorough cleaning.

On Saturday, I worked with 28 teachers.  They learned about project-based learning and how to incororpate "PBL" in their classrooms.  The teachers are part of a program in Arkansas in which people with degrees outside of education can become licensed teachers.  Honestly, I don't know why anyone would do such a thing, but then again, I do not have whatever teachers have inside them that makes them want to spend all day with a roomful of kids.  I have two kids.  I can barely handle that.  I digress.

One of the participants had been recently badly, BADLY burned in an accident.  She got one of her friends to hook up a video camera and we used Skype ( so that she could attend from her house!  It was very cool.  The people in the class got a kick out of it, and everyone had a chance to talk to the recovering teacher.  After each teacher gave an update about their classroom, the Skped-in participant was able to share her updates.  It was a hands-on demonstration of using technology in order to keep homebound individuals connected to the classroom.  Think "pandemic."

What is "project-based learning?"  Ah, that is something I'll share in another post.  Of course, a simple web search will net you a LOT of information about such things.  But, I will be sharing more about it in an upcoming post.

While I was teaching on Saturday, Shan and her classmates held their 20th anniversary class reunion picnic at White Oak Lake.  Shan said they had a lot of fun.  Emily and Tyler (along with other kids) rented pedal boats and tooled around the lake.  The picnic was a chance for classmates to catch up, hang out, and have fun.

Saturday evening, there was a supper/dance held and a lot of people showed up for that.  Shan figured up about half the class had come and many had brought someone with them.  It was a good crowd there with a DJ.  Now, I like my music loud.  I love jamming out and sharing it with the world.  BUT, this guy was playing in a gym-sized room with cinder block walls.  He was also plahinng louder than I have heard from some concerts I've been to.  It is way too loud when you can't even shout at the person next to you and have them hear you.  Keith (a friend) thought ahead and brought ear plugs.  I will be sure that ear plugs will be in my equipment list for the 25th reunion. :-)

Aside from that, though, it was fun watching everyone dance and have a good time! 

Speaking of a good time, our church held "Family Day" today (Sunday)!  The deacons and their wives (and I assume some other folks as well) got together and had a cookout with hot dogs and burgers, plus chili and "fixins" which was followed up with all kinds of desserts (pies, cakes, brownies, things I didnt know what they were but I ate them anyway!). 

In the parking lot, they had two LARGE air-filled jumpies - one was a mega slide and the other was Jurassic Adventure.  If that wasn't enough, they also brought in a rock wall for the kids to play on!  It was a lot of fun!  Emily played on the Jurassic Adventure and tried to help Kensley play, but I think Kensley was a bit too small for all the jumping around going on there. She didn't take long to decide to get off, but Emily stayed and played.  Then Emily went up on the big slide.

Sep 25, 2009

Wolves, Candy Apples, and other random bits of useless information

The Prescott Curley Wolves won 62-0 tonight!!  Wahoo!  We went to the game in part because this weekend is Shan's graduating class reunion for 20 years!  The game was fantastic and at halftime, the marching band a combination of songs.  One of the songs was Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" which was GREAT!  The band even did a modified version of the famous "lean" in the video...

Emily and Parker were goofing around, so I snapped a picture of them and their big, cheesy grins!  Emily's "sign" reads, "GO WOLVES!"  She had the spirit!

I have been craving candy/caramel apples as of late.  The last one I ate was covered in caramel AND multi-colored sprinkles!  I was on a sugar high for several hours after eating that puppy!  Man, was it good!

I received an email from my boss today, letting me know that some of our equipment was missing from the vault.  That was followed by a response from my other boss that she was very nervous about the situation.  She wasn't the only one!  I did a quick survey of things and was able to come up with half the laptops that were missing.  After John got back to the office, I told him what was going on, and he reminded me that we had stored some equipment in our tech closet because the vault had been locked that day.  DUH! That's right!  So, we had half the laptops and all the other equipment.  I took a walk up to the vault where I found the rest of the laptops.  You see, when I read the email, I saw, "none of the laptops are in the vault" but what it really said was something like "some of the laptops."  Whew!  So, that was VERY good news - especially for my job security!

I will be teaching on Saturday.  There is a group of about 30 people who are working on their non-traditional licensure. That means they have a degree but not in teaching, so they can take classes to earn a teaching certificate as long as they pass the class and pass the teaching test(s).  So, I'll be showing them collaborative projects and talking about project-based learning.  It should be fun!  And if not, well, they only have to put up with me for one day, right?

Are you a writer?  Would you like to try your hand at it without a huge committment?  Then, the 2nd annual flash fiction contest might be for you!  Check it out here:
Flash fiction is super short and I'm sure there are other factors.  The link will lead you to some samples so you can get an idea as to what they are looking for.  I'm going to  submit at least one just for fun.  why not, right?  We only live once...

Sep 23, 2009

This Is It - The Movie! October 28, 2009

Man, Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3D and then a special engagement of "This Is It!!"  I am going to see this, even if I have to go by myself to do it. :-)  I haven't checked where it will be playing near my house, so I will need to check on that pretty quick!

Sep 22, 2009

Welcome to!

I figured since my Indians-related site was self-registered as a domain, why not this one, too?  So, I bit the bullet and now you can get here by using!  I have no idea what that means for the future of things, but it's fun and easy to remember, right?

Are you a blogspot blogger?  Have you switched to the new editor yet in your settings?  I have.  I don't care for it.  Then again, I was never big on the "WYSIWYG" editors for blogging.  I don't know why, though.  I just seem to like the raw HTML editor better.  Yes, they still have that for people like me that want the code behind the scenes, but I have no choice but to switch to "compose" view to insert pictures now. BLAH!

I guess I'll just force myself to get used to the Compose WYSIWYG mode and be done with it.  Welcome to the 20th century in 2009, right?  And they took away my SPELL CHECK! AUGH!

Just know that my posts may look a little funny for a while until I get the hang of things.   Well, that's nothing new, really, now is it?

Anyone got any cheese?  I think I need some for my whine. Speaking of cheese, I ate Mickey-D's for lunch today. I love their cheese.  To me, it tastes just like commodity cheese from when I was a kid and my grandparents would get a cardboard box of the stuff.  Man, I could eat that all day.  Hmm.. I better hit the Wii Fit.

Add XP shared printer to a Vista machine - Access Denied Error

This post focuses on a scenario in which a Windows XP machine is sharing a printer over the local area network and a Vista machine is trying to add that shared printer but is receiving an "Access Denied" error message.

First, make sure the printer works for other machines on the network. If other machines cannot print to the shared printer, there is most likely a network-related issue or a sharing problem on the XP machine itself.

If there are no network issues and other XP machines can print to the shared printer, try the following:

  1. Install the Vista drivers for the printer on the Vista machine, using the "local LPT1:" port as the default. Do NOT try to detect the printer. Alternately, you can download the driver from the manufacturer web site and extract the files to your hard drive (Ex: C:\Dell\Drivers\Printers\A12345\Winxp2k)
  2. After the driver is installed, use Control Panel to ADD PRINTER.  
  3. Select "Local Printer" (Again, do NOT detect), click "NEXT"  
  4. Select "Create a new port" and then choose "Local Port" and click "NEXT"  
  5. In the box, type the UNC path to the shared printer (Ex: \\xpmachinename\printshare) and click "OK"  
  6. When prompted for the driver, look to see if your installed driver is in the list. If not, choose "HAVE DISK..." and browse to the location of your printer driver.  
  7. When installation is complete, PRINT A TEST PAGE! I know a lot of techs don't like to/want to do that, but it shows the USER that the printing is working.

Hope this helps someone else out there! I had to look far and wide to find this info. I post it here in hopes others will not have to search so hard to find the answer.

(note: this article initially appears at

Fantasy Football Update - Week 2

The Tribecards Trouncers had a rough go of it this week. The boys on the field of fantasy of football slip to sharply to seventh place.

On the week, the Trouncers beat just one team: NABALY. We scored on 46.92 points this week, partly because of Jeff Reed's missed field goals, partly because the other teams in the league kicked serious butt.

Here are the standings this week:

Rank Team W-L-T Pct Pts Streak
1. ! 2-0-0 1.000 165.38 W-2
2. Cardiff Giants 2-0-0 1.000 153.33 W-2
3. Turkey Buzzards 2-0-0 1.000 136.03 W-2
4. Seymour Bengals 1-1-0 .500 158.66 W-1
5. Lucky Leprechauns 1-1-0 .500 140.43 L-1
6. Florida Vikings 1-1-0 .500 134.25 W-1
7. Tribecards Trouncers 1-1-0 .500 121.93 L-1
8. Orlando Sharks 0-2-0 .000 130.78 L-2
9. wavier wire rejects 0-2-0 .000 122.60 L-2
10. NABALY 0-2-0 .000 122.22 L-2

Sep 21, 2009

Wii Fit does not equal "WE" Fit!

Shan borrowed a Wii Fit board from the Williams' so that we could see if we really want to buy one or not. Ironically, Shan did not get to try out the board over the weekend. Emily, Tyler and I finally hooked it up last night. It is such a wonderful piece of ... equipment.

The first thing one must do is calibrate the board/software with each person wanting to use it. So, the system weighs you, takes your height and birth date and figures up your BMI. For me, the system basically said, "Jiminy Cricket! Get the heck off me, you fat, old guy!" Well, maybe not quite in so many words.

The next phase was a test in balancing skills. The board got to the end of the test and said, "Do you find yourself tripping a lot?" That is NOT an exaggeration. It actually asked me that. How rude!

You have to pick a male or female trainer, read a bunch of hooey about diet, exercise and balance, and then you get to pick some "games" to play. The crux of the board is balance, though there are exercises you can do (some are locked until you earn the right to unlock them as you play the unlocked games) as well. I opted for the balance games: Soccer, Slalom Skiing, Ski Jump, and a couple others. I kicked butt on Ski Jump!! I've got great balance and timing. The other games? Well, I kicked butt at Ski Jump!

The soccer game features Mii's kicking balls, panda heads (presumably mascot uniform heads), cleats, etc at you. Your job? Block the balls without hitting any of the other things flying at you. All I can say is that I am VERY good at heading the cleats... Can't hit a ball to save my weight, but the cleats? Oh yeah, I'll take a spike to the head any day. Great.

Somewhere in the game, you can walk a tightrope, which basically means you walk in place as the computer guy on the screen moves forward. Sounds easy enough. Yeah, lean too far one way or the other and aaaaaaaahhhhhhh, your little character falls to his/her demise (though they don't actually show that part). I did manage to make it all the way across in easy mode! Wahoo!!

Tyler busted some moves on a stepping game and then tried his hand at Yoga. All I am going to say is that he has breathing down to an art...

What does the future hold for us Wii Fiters? Who knows. I can tell you that having a computer game tell you (and show you!) how fat and out of shape you are may just be the motivation needed to do something about it. I plan on kicking the thing's little butt.... If we get one... If we don't, well, then, I can live with that too.

Sep 20, 2009

66 Block Follow-up

For anyone surfing the net that happens across my posts, I thought it might be helpful to copy the conversation that took place on Facebook regarding the central phone connection in a home setting discussion:

David Henderson - Tim, yes the NID is the screwbox. I dont know about the ethernet upgrade, though you are right about the cost! I thought about using a patch panel, but how do I route all the phones through the panel? Would I not have one line to the telco and four lines (phones) coming to the panel? I'm sure it's simple, I'm just missing that piece in my brain. :-)

Tim Vent - Good question - how DO you get multiple phones through the panel? I've done it a couple of ways - mind you this has been done on my own, not in any business or anything as this is some serious southern-engineering here: but you could just make up a "y" adapter with enough "Y's" on it to cover all of the phones you would patch in, or if you can find... Read More a punch-down tool that won't "cut" when you punch, you could just strip enough length off of your wire coming from your NID so that it can kinda "weave" through all of the patch points that need phone service - but you will start to degrade signal probably as you add more phones (but I would think 4-5 phones wouldn't be too bad.)
I went the "Y" route with mine when I did something similar, then at the wall-panel, I broke it out to two connections, 1 was rj11 for phone and the other was rj45 for network. Got away with running 1 wire. Gigabit won't run over it though because it uses all 8 conductors, just FYI.

David Henderson - Hmm, the "Y" route ain't half bad... I thought about the "weave" but figured it wouldnt turn out as good as I would hope. :-) I'm not worried about gig to the telco anytime soon... :-) And, I'm not running gig locally - not yet anyway.. :-) Thanks for the help! I think I'll go the "Y" route through a patch panel. I'm 802.11 throughout with only three hard-wired computers (server and 2 pc's), so I'm good for LAN for now. :-)

Tim Vent - Oh, I misunderstood - this is just for phone?
In that case, get the 66 block and be done with it ;)
Or, skip the block and just strip the ends back and "Y" them all together, no need for a patch panel.

David Henderson - Well, the issue I have now is that they are all "Y" together bare wire outside and troubleshooting is a pain. I was thinking about doing the 66 block thing, but everything I've seen online about it makes it look much more complicated than I think it needs to be... I was hoping for a basic outline of what goes where. The 2nd part was about the move from dsl to ethernet, but i dont know what centurytel ether is going to look like, so I can wait for that part.

Justin Castleman - what I would do is get a standard cat 5 patch panel and install cat3 6 pair punchdown jacks in it, they make the type of panels that you can just snap different type of punchdowns in. on your phone connections terminate with 6 wire plugs and plug em in. When the switch comes just change the jacks and plugs

David Henderson - Ah, good thinking from both of you! Thanks for the help!

Ultimately, I think the punch-down block with interchangeable connectors is the route I'll take. I am going to run CAT5 to each phone jack and use the electrician's standard for color code matching. Then, if the time comes when we have to upgrade to full cat5 on our internet line, it will be an easy fix (just re-punch that line).

When the project gets underway, I'll post pics, etc.

Sep 19, 2009

66 Block in the house?

Okay, I have been troubleshooting an issue with the telephone wiring at the house. I refuse to pay a monthly fee for 'maintenance' because I ran the wires myself.

But, I would like to move from the scenario we have now to a situation where the wires are actually all inside the house. Like a business would be set up, basically.

As it sits right now, we have one (1) phone number (1 line) that comes in to the NID (network interface device). From there, we have four (4) lines that go to various phones in the house. All this takes place outside at the NID box. Here is what I would "like" to do:

In this situation, I have a single line that runs from the NID into the house to a punch-down block (I assume). Then, that punch-down block services any and all phone we have in the house, including DSL. Now, I have two questions:

1) Could someone explain in PLAIN ENGLISH how I would accomplish this? I've looked online and it's ugly what I have found - very confusing)?

2) If we move to an Ethernet connection from our telephone company, are there issues with having things set up the way I want them? By Ethernet, I'm talking a 10Mb/sec connection (believe it or not, we are slated to get that here in Prescott, Arkansas VERY soon!)?

Any help, guidance, web resources, etc, are greatly appreciated!

Sep 18, 2009

Fantasy Football Update

I was invited to join an exclusive fantasy football league (the Super Secret League), and I tried to let the commissioner know that I was none too good at these fantasy sports things (did he not see my posts about my Indians-centric fantasy team that ended up dead last??). Alas, he would have none of it, thus the Tribecards Trouncers were born.

Now, before I get too far, my football team is *not* based on any one team. I decided that since that did not work out too well in baseball, I would try the 'mix-and-match' flavor for football. Having said that, I do have some key Steelers on my team (Big Ben, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Jeff Reed).

The first week turned out to be a winning week for the Trouncers. I got 75.01 'fan points' (as Yahoo! calls them), which put me in 3rd place in the league! I won't get too excited though, even the Tribecards Trundles started out strong.

I've moved some players around and dumped others that managed to find themselves on the DL list after one week of play. Really? You can't even last one whole week in the sport you are paid millions to play? There is something wrong with this picture. and, speaking of DL, I have a problem with players who have a "sprained toe" that cannot play the game. Again, Really?? Your toe hurts and you can't play football? Look, if I hurt my toe, that's one thing - I am not an athlete. Then again, if I hurt my toe, it would not stop me from doing things like... oh, I dunno... WALKING! To me, that's a bit like a NASCAR racer hurting his pinky and then complaining that he can't race. Seriously? I don't think so.

Where was I? Oh yeah, my fantasy team. I'll be posting updates on the team throughout the season. I wouldn't count on the updates following any kind of pattern, though. I'll do it when the idea pops in my head.

This week's match-up pits the Trouncers against the Turkey Buzzards. The Buzzards are favored to win by 8 points. Let's see if the Trouncers can prove the skeptics wrong!

For the record, Blogger spell-check doesn't know the word 'pinky.' How is that even possible?

AArrrgghhh!! Talk like a pirate and all that with a bag of chips

Yeah, I said it. Talk like a pirate and save 15% on my book! Yeap, head over to and just enter AHOY as the coupon code to save 15% off!!

Sep 16, 2009

40 Favorite Athletes

These are 40 of my favorite sports figures. They are in no particular order, but will probably follow a slight pattern as I mentally run through various sports. I will include the sport to give reference, just in case some of these get obscure.

  1. Bob Feller, baseball
  2. Terry Bradshaw, football
  3. Jim Thome, baseball
  4. Jerome Bettis, football
  5. Michael Jordan, basketball
  6. Larry Bird, basketball
  7. Mario Lemieux, hockey
  8. Wayne Gretsky, hockey
  9. Tony Hawk, skateboarding
  10. Lynn Swann, football
  11. Joe Greene, football
  12. Hines Ward, football
  13. Willie Stargell, baseball
  14. Roberto Clemente, baseball
  15. Patrick Roy, hockey
  16. Pele, soccer/futbol
  17. Mia Hamm, soccer/futbol
  18. Mary Lou Retton, gymnastics
  19. Travis Hafner, baseball
  20. Len Barker, baseball
  21. Joe Charboneau, baseball
  22. Jack Nicklaus, golf
  23. Tiger Woods, golf
  24. Mario Andretti, racing
  25. AJ Foyt, racing
  26. John Elway, football
  27. Michael Irving, football
  28. Julius Ervin, basketball
  29. George Brett, baseball
  30. Hank Aaron, baseball
  31. Shawn Johnson, gymnastics
  32. Paul Child, MISL/soccer/futbol
  33. Stan Terlecki, MISL/soccer/futbol
  34. Pikabu Street (sp?) - Skiing
  35. Greg Norman, golf
  36. Cliff Lee, baseball
  37. Lou Gehrig, baseball
  38. Emmitt Smith, football
  39. Jesse Owens, track
  40. Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, wrestling

For the record, on this list, I did not hit the search engines despite wanting to in a couple of cases. So, I'd think of things like, "Oh, man that women's volleyball chick" or "that guy who did the speed skating" or "something...Day... man, the jockey..." - but since I could not easily come up with their names, they were left off the list.

The last ones kinda came to me as I ran through various sports in my head all over again. I remember going to the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh and seeing Jimmy Snuka in person. I was 10 or 11 when we were all into wrestling, and thinking back now, we watched guys like Bobby Backlund, Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, many folks who are still amazingly around and still involved with wrestling.

Some people will look at this list and ask, "where's so-and-so?" There are two answers for that: 1) I really did run out of numbers, and 2) I forgot that person. Oh, there is a 3rd option: while that person may have been famous or great or whatever, he or she was not one of MY favorites, necessarily.

I selected these because they stand for something to me, in my life, in some way. Or they have a special meaning to me because of memories, accomplishments, what they might have stood for. There are a lot of reasons we choose the famous people we enjoy watching, enjoy talking about. And why do we do such things? I think it's because those people provide a common thread among our friends and family. But, they also provide a link between strangers. I could walk up to many people and utter one of the names above, and except for a few regional/obscure names, the person I mention the name to would have recognition of that name. I may have to try that for fun sometime.

Feel free to share your list of favorite athletes. Or, for that matter, feel free to check out any of the "40 Things" lists and reply with your variation!

Sep 15, 2009

Just like taking the car to a mechanic

Our Directv has been acting up for months. When watching local channels, the system loses contact with the satellite. It only happens with local channels and it is totally random. Sometimes, we go hours with no problems. Other times, you can't watch for five minutes without it acting up 20 times. "Regular" Directv channels are always fine.

I called tech support about it and they walked me through a couple things. We thought we had it fixed, but within five minutes, it started acting up again. When I called tech support again, we decided to have a tech come out.

Fast forward to today. The tech is supposed to come today (it's 1pm and I have not heard from him yet). Of course, the system is working PERFECTLY. Yeah, that's right. I've been watching the TV for an hour and half at the time I am writing this, and not ONE glitch... Not even during the heavy rain we've been having.

I don't care. At this point, I letting the tech come out here and look everything over. Sure, there are better things to spend 50 bucks on, but just like going to the doctor, sometimes you have to pay for the office visit even if the symptoms aren't there from the day before...

Sep 11, 2009

Random Friday Thoughts

I realize this is old news for some folks out there, but I am just now catching up on several tech magazines I receive. this was a blurb in one of them (condensed and paraphrased):

Kevin Mitnick, one of the original computer/network hackers to be caught and then given a job in IT security, recently had to switch web hosting companies because *HIS* presence on that host was causing tons of people to hack the web site. Something of a "What goes around, comes around..." Nice.

On Thursday, I had something of a breakthrough with a SharePoint installation/set-up. You may know/remember from previous posts or my ramblings on FaceBook that I have been helping a school district move their IIS/Dreamweaver-based web site over to SharePoint. Much of the time spent thus far has been on the backend/behind-the-scenes stuff. But this past Thursday, we actually started moving content and laying the groundwork for the structure of the new site. It was the first time I had seen the tech's eyes light up and he actually got excited about where things were going!

That made me feel better about suggesting this route to begin with. I was beginning to think the tech was wondering why he was bothering with all this stuff in the first place. Once it is done, though, teachers will have a place to post classroom information/lessons/assignments/etc, to keep parents informed, and to keep up with what's happening at the district. Administrators will be able to communicate with teachers, staff and parents/community as well. And when the time comes to move to the next version, there will be even more very cool things to do inside the system!

Like I said, I'm just happy to see the tech is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you have purchased a book through LULU.COM lately, go back to the site and check your order status! If you see any problems with your order, use the "help" then "email support" option to let them know ASAP! Also, if it has been more than 3-4 days since you ordered and the book has not been printed, notify support (then REPLY to the email you get from them).

You MUST reply to their generic reply in order to have the situation escalated to a human actually doing anything. I have talked with a couple folks (people who have ordered and an author) and they are all having issues with LuLu right now. The more noise we make about it, the faster I think (HOPE!) we'll get some of these issues resolved.

Along the same lines, THANK YOU to everyone who has been buying copies of my book!! :-) I hope you enjoy it once you get it!!

Update to the LuLu thing... My Mom got a notification that her book has shipped. That is great news! I hope everyone that orders my book gets theirs, too! I can deal with the tech support folks about the issues I'm having with their reporting system, but what matters most to me is that you get your book when you buy one!

I had a videoconference today about tech plans and while that was informative and entertaining (mainly afterward when a bunch of got on there and started cheering the Steelers for last night's game!), I had a great time with Jeff from Hope schools. He has a new Mac and was showing off the very cool things he was doing with it. Of course, I can't remember it all now, but we looked at some great networking tools, Windows 7 running in Parallels, a whole bag of toys he got from one of his intern/helpers/students (not sure just what Greg is...). Very cool stuff!!

it's reality show clip time...

Sep 9, 2009

Hanging out with a wizard, troubleshooting flash drives, and Ellen on Idol???

Yeah, I admit it. I am a friend of Selena Gomez (from Wizards of Waverly Place - it's a TV show for kids). Why am I her friend? Because Emily doesn't have FaceBook. So, tonight (Wednesday), Selena had a live webchat via FaceBook and I stopped by to catch some of it. Why not?

First of all, there are a LOT of idiots out there. Participants could see everything everyone was typing. I can only imagine Selena had some kind of filter or delay or something - or maybe she is good at weeding out and ignoring the junk. "You're so hot," "What shoe size are you?" and other questions whizzed by. Lots of people asking for shout-outs, and she complied with lots of them. I actually thought that was kinda neat. If Emily had been here, I would have asked Selena to say "hi" to her.

I was only in long enough to catch Selena laughing hysterically while trying to say, "Sally sells seashells by the seashore" five times. She barely made it through one time. It was very funny.

It also made me wonder just what celebs thought of such venues. I guess a lot of that has to do with how old the person and how 'connected' they are. It amazes me all the things people want to know, but mainly, it seemed to be a way to send a note saying "hi" to a famous person. We all (okay, maybe not ALL) like to do that, don't we? I mean, I met and talked with Danny Glover once (he was in Lethal Weapon, for those that don't know or are too young to remember). Shan has her picture with Bill Clinton. There is just something 'cool' about getting to say you have met or know someone famous.

John and I were at a school today (yes, the same one with the network problem) swapping out fiber media converters and such, and the tech asked if I would look at a flash drive problem they were having.

The first computer I sat down to work on had all kinds of issues so I moved to another one. John opened the first one up, jiggled a few cables and it started behaving. Weird.

I went to the second computer and plugged in the flash drive. Windows prompted me for a driver disk. Okay, XP does not need a driver disk for flash drives. I poke around online and find a possible solution that involves revealing hidden devices and unplugged usb items. I went through the steps and that did not fix the problem we had. But, it did lead me in the right direction of the "fix," which I will share with you should you ever run into the same problem...

When prompted for a driver disk, select the SECOND option to install from your own location. Click NEXT. On the next screen, click the checkbox that reads something like "FROM THIS SPECIFIC LOCATION: and then fill in the location with C:\WINDOWS\INF and click NEXT. This should make the computer see the fact that a USB device is plugged in. Then, another "new hardware found" window may pop up and you have to repeat the procedure. After that, your drive should appear as a removable drive in My Computer!

How in the heck was Ellen Degeneres chosen to replace Paula Abdul on American Idol!? Let's see, this is a show about... singing. The contestants have to... sing. The judges have to judge the singers based on their..... singing. Do you see a pattern here? Ellen Degeneres does not sing. She does have an Elaine-esque dance that she does, and she can crack a good joke now and then, but singing is not on her resume'. Even she admitted it. Talk about the end of a good show.... Bye-bye Idol, it was fun while it lasted.

As a side note, today was a good day for foot-in-mouth disease for me. It started out with a rant to for not being snappy with the tech support. Problem? I had not given them the allotted 24 hours to even respond. In my defence, I hate form-letter replies. I also tasted a bit of my own foot during a conversation that took place on the statewide technology listserv... Let's just say I did not stop and think before complaining about a message that was passed along to a vendor. In my defence, messages posted on a listserv are meant for members of that list only. I don't really care if the Superintendent's wife works for said vendor! And, finally, well, let's be honest... With me, there is no 'finally' when it comes to the number of times I will speak before I think... Heck, I'm not even sure how much thinking I do in general. :-)

blue patch of nothing

Sep 8, 2009

Troubleshooting a Local Area Network Problem

Warning: Technical Info Ahead!

I visited a school district recently that experienced a complete network failure. Through some troubleshooting, the tech was able to narrow the culprit down to something happening at the high school.

This article discusses how to troubleshoot a local area network when something like this happens. The images are for reference only, but should give you an idea as how to at least START the troubleshooting process, and hopefully it will help someone out there find the demon that shut down the network.

First, let me talk about how the tech narrowed down the issue to one building. All the connections from campus come into one data closet. When his users started complaining that they could no longer get online or use their email application, the tech went to the closet and unplugged one connection at a time until the problem went away (a smaller scale will be discussed below). Once he determined the problem went away when he unplugged the high school, he knew where to to start looking for the problem. This is where I came in (with an extra set of hands/eyes to help me).

At the high school, I unplugged all the connections in the tech closet. I then only connected a nearby computer and the connection back to the central tech closet (which leads to the Internet):

The little black screen in the upper left corner is a simulated PING test. I ran a PING test on the computer out to the DNS server we use. You could also PING something like YAHOO.COM, if you so choose.

How do I run a PING test? Do this:
  1. In Windows XP, click START then RUN then type CMD and press ENTER. In Vista, Click the WINDOWS BUTTON, then in the search box, type CMD and press ENTER
  2. At the prompt now on the screen, type PING YAHOO.COM and press ENTER (or use whatever address you need/want, so long as that address LETS you ping. Some do not)
  3. You will get one of two BASIC responses: either "Reply From..." or "Request Times Out." "Reply From..." is a successful ping (you can reach the site you are trying to ping). "Request Timed Out," however, is a FAILED ping. It means your computer could not reach the computer you tried to ping. This is useful for troubleshooting!

Okay, so what if your one computer and one connection back to the Internet fails the ping test? At that point, you know you have a problem in the devices that run between the two sites (in this case, between the main closet and the high school).

Since we were able to ping the world, we are back to troubleshooting the network. Once you confirm that your network works with just one computer, you add ONE of the connections on your network back into the loop:

I prefer to always pick one port to use for ALL the remaining tests. That way, you are limiting the possible problems down to one actual "leg" of your network. As you can see above, I took the wire from "Connection 1" and plugged it into port 5. In our case, I have no idea where "Connection 1" goes on the high school network. And for now, I don't even care. My goal is to find the link that is crashing the network. Once I hooked up "Connection 1," I run the PING test again on the computer nearby. Now, what I really did was set the ping test to run indefinitely. The command for that is: PING -t YAHOO.COM

In the example above, I am able to ping the outside world. At the high school, I was able to get to the outside world.

In the next example, I UNPLUG "Connection 1" and plug "Connection 2" into the SAME PORT that I used for the first test. Again, this is because I know that port works now that it has passed the first test.

Once "Connection 2" is hooked up, I check my PING test to be sure i do not have failure messages. It's important to stop here a moment to say this: You will most likely have *SOME* failures. One or two over the course of dozens is not too bad. what we are looking for is a complete failure where you get "Timed Out" error after "Timed Out" error - many in a row.

As long as the PING test passes, you repeat the procedure for each of your connections: disconnect the wire, plug in the next wire, check the PING.

So, what happens when you get a FAIL?

Uh-oh! We failed our PING test!! Now, we know where the problem is. Or at least we know which part of the network is causing the problem.

What I did at this point at the high school was to unplug the error-causing wire, and check the PING. Everything looked good. I plugged the offending wire back in, and checked the PING - FAIL! I did this because I wanted to be sure it wasn't some fluke. It was not.

Now, I unplugged the errant wire again. Then, I plugged the other wires into the switch. I checked the PING to make sure that everything was working while all the other wires were plugged in. Everything worked.

Our next task is to find out where the errant wire goes and discover which devices on that part of the network might be causing the problem. I believe we will find a situation where someone plugged both ends of a network cable into one switch. Basically, it's taking one end and plugging it in to, say port 5, and then taking the other end of the same cable and plugging it in to port 7. The actual port numbers don't matter. what matters is that it creates a loop. Ever heard feedback when someone is speaking with a microphone because they get too close to the speaker system? Same idea, but with data spinning out of control in an infinite loop. It is not pretty, and it brings many networks to a screeching halt because nothing else can get through while all this other data is going round-and-round.*

Once we are able to hunt down the offending equipment, we take whatever steps we need to take in order to cure the problem. For example, if it is an issue where a wire is plugged back into the same switch, we unplug the wire. If it turns out to be an infected computer, we get it off the network and heal it.

One thing that should be done, though, is another PING test setup. The difference at this stage, though, is that you do not have to unplug everything else to run the test. all you have to do is plug in the wire that was causing the problem. If the problem persists, unplug it and hunt down another culprit. If everything works after you plug in the wire, then you have cured your network of the offending loop/computer!! Wahoo!

*For my truly techie friends: I am fully aware that many modern-day switches have measures that will shut down the offending ports in such a situation. But, you might be surprised at how many sites do not have such capabilities - case in point, the high school where I was troubleshooting.

Sep 7, 2009

She's Dead, Jim

Tyler told me that his laptop wouldn't come on. He had used it earlier this morning, but by this afternoon, it would not come on. I picked it up and it was pretty hot. I tried to turn it on, but when I pressed the power button, I got nothing at all. No lights at all. That is rare for a laptop. Usually, you get a flash or at least some indication of power. Nothing.

I removed the battery and tried only with the ac adapter. Nothing. I let it cool off. Nothing.

I fired up my laptop and went to the HP site to chat with tech support. I explained the problem and he had me do a 'static electricity drain' which I had not heard of. basically, I removed the battery, unplugged the ac adapter and held the power button for a little more than 60 seconds. After that, I put the battery back in and plugged it in to the adapter. I pushed the power button, and ... nothing.

The tech asked me to hook the laptop up to an external monitor. Why? I have no idea - THERE WAS NO POWER! anyway, I did it for the sake of argument. Nothing. Well, the monitor did recognize the fact that it had something plugged in, but the laptop did not come on, of course. Hooking it up to a monitor has nothing to do with power. Seriously, where do they find these people and/or who writes their tech scripts??

so, Tyler and I did the only thing we could at this point: deconstruction. Now, in the name of fairness and honesty, I took very care measures to make sure everything I did could be reassembled. I did this in case something actually triggered a fix. Naturally, nothing I did was going to fix this. The simple fact is that the boy burned up his laptop. See, when he closed the lid, he had it set to blank the screen but left the machine running. BIG MISTAKE. He then set the laptop in a comfy chair, restricting the air flow. BIG MISTAKE. Now, if he had been told a hundred times about shutting down his laptop when not in use, it would be one thing. But, I warned him about not shutting it down. Yes, he is 14, but some things have to be learned the hard way I guess.

I pulled the hard drive and the memory. i figure I can salvage the data off the drive with equipment I have at work.

so, after we got to the point we knew the laptop was beyond repair, I took it apart completely and let Tyler vent his frustrations by hammering the thing to pieces. Emily recorded it on video and I'm sure it will be edited and posted on YouTube.

So, now he is laptop-less, and will have to use the desktop we have in the home office (the kids have one in that room they can use). He'll have to save his pennies for a new one. I told Shan, "I paid for part of the first laptop. I will not pay for part of a second one."

Sep 6, 2009

40 Glove Songs

Not only is this another one of my "40 Things" lists, but this one is all about gloves. Well, really it's about changing the word 'love' for 'glove(s)' in the titles of songs. The one rule I have is that it has to actually make some kind of sense!

  1. All Out of Gloves
  2. You Give Gloves a Bad Name
  3. Looking for Gloves in all the Wrong Places
  4. Saving all my gloves for you
  5. Gloves (are) a many splendor thing
  6. Gloves on the rocks
  7. All of my Gloves
  8. Where is the glove?
  9. Glove Song
  10. Abandoned glove
  11. I just wanna use your gloves tonight
  12. An everlasting glove
  13. Because you gloved me
  14. Born to give my glove to you
  15. Can you feel the glove tonight?
  16. Chapel of gloves
  17. Endless gloves
  18. Feel like making gloves
  19. Game of glove
  20. The greatest glove of all
  21. Hurts to be in gloves
  22. I love being in gloves with you
  23. I need gloves
  24. Let's talk about gloves
  25. Lost in gloves
  26. Gloves don't cost a thing
  27. Glove by another name
  28. Glove of my life
  29. Making gloves out of nothing at all
  30. Power of gloves
  31. Sea of gloves
  32. Stop in the name of gloves
  33. We're in this glove together
  34. When we make gloves
  35. You give good gloves
  36. Your glove amazes me
  37. Girl don't take your glove from me
  38. Glove shack!
  39. We got a groovy kind of glove
  40. All you need are gloves

Sep 5, 2009

I'm Published!

Well, it's official! After working through several short (and some are short, short) stories, and walking through the publishing process at, I have published my first collection of short stories!

You can buy the book here!

"All This Digging and other stories" is my debut collection of short fiction. Each story gives the reader a glimpse in a moment of time into the lives of the characters portrayed in each tale.

Titles included in this collection are "Hero," "Water," "All This Digging," "Blinded," "The Date," "Forgiven," "Interview," "Purple Haze," "Stupid Alarm clock," "Switcheroo," and "Dishwashers." They are stories of the mundane and of the supernatural, of love and of death.

"Hero," in its original form, appeared in the Henderson State University literary magazine, "The Proscenium" in 1999.

Different stories will appeal to different tastes. I hope hope that each reader will find a little of himself or herself in here somewhere. If not, then he or she will certainly find bits of me in each one! Good luck. Thanks for reading!

And, if you order a book during the Labor day weekend, you can take 20% off!! Just use the word WHITE when you check out!! How cool is that!?

On Bandwidth and Internet Access

In a recent email conversation, a colleague sent the following link:
Most people don't understand broadband...

First of all, the author based his findings on ONE friend's comment. His friend representes MOST people!? I doubt it. That's not the issue, though.

Here was my response:

Actually, I feel the opposite of what that guy concluded. Basically, my response to him would have been, "Who cares?" if he had asked me. Does it really matter if people know what bandwidth they have? I mean, I do because I'm techy at heart, but most of my relatives couldn't care less. Does it matter if they are on cable, DSL, satellite, etc? I mean, REALLY matter? No, they turn on their computer and it works. That is how life should be for the end user. In some places, there is no choice for speed or very little choice. In my case, I know what I pay and for how much bandwidth. My Mother doesn't care. She know she can afford x dollars a month and she gets internet for that amount.

My son gets online and he doesn't care how fast it is just so it does what he needs it to do. Like your telephone - do you care what kind of telco boxes are being used in order to get dial tone to your house? most folks don't. Do I care what kind of paint they used on my truck? nope. they painted it. Ah, but how about the engine you say? Maybe, but then if I were concerned with it, I would make sure I knew what I was getting.

I will be getting a car next year. I'm looking mainly as gas mileage. Do I care what engine is in the car? nope. I want a certain level of gas mileage and a certain size, etc. For me, it's the equivalent of asking someone what their bandwidth is. Who cares? It gets me where I want to go at a speed that works for me at a price I can afford...

Sep 2, 2009

Sales that aren't

Ever stop to think about the way 'sales' are listed or described? Probably not. that's why I'm here.

Garage Sale - Has anyone ever actually sold their GARAGE at one of these? If so, why? And where did they park their car after that?

Yard Sale - If one were to purchase another person's yard, how would it be moved? Does the yard include the ground beneath the house or other structures?

Large Family Sale - Do you get the whole family, or are they only selling certain members in order to reduce the size of the family? Or, does this refer to a sale in which ONLY those with large families can participate? If so, is there a small family sale? How about a "I'm the only one in my family" sale?

Half-Off sale - I've never liked these. I would much rather pay full price and get the entire product than get half of it. usually, this is paired with the 'buy one get one' sale. Buy one dog, get the other half off. Which half, exactly?

One-Day sale - Who owns days of the week, anyway? And, if they are selling one of them, how do I know which one? Sometimes, they'll say, "The Saturday One-Day sale" - okay, so i know i can buy Saturday. But even if I show up at Kohl's, they never tell me where to go to buy Saturday. They just tell me where to go. :-)

Buy One, Get one free - This works unless you're talking shoes. Don't I already get one free when I buy one shoe?

Buy one, get one at equal or lesser value for free - has anyone ever missed out on this because they bought the more expensive item AFTER the cheaper one? I mean, I put a toaster on the conveyor for $5 and then I put the blender for $10. CRAP! I just spent $15 because I didn't stop to put the items in the correct order! I think it would be funny if a cashier actually tried that once. "Sorry, sir, but your second item was more than the first. You don't qualify for the sale."

Employee Discount Pricing - Do the employees get ticked off about these sales? I mean, they have to work their tails off so that one of the 'perks' they get is the employee discount. Now, some shmoe comes in and gets the same pricing and he doesn't even work there! I'd quit. Of course, this begs the question of an employee discount on the employee discount. Say the employee gets a 10% discount normally. During the sale, everyone gets 10% off. Now, the employee buys something. Does she get an ADDITIONAL 10% off because she is an employee? If so, then shouldn't the customer get that additional 10% because he is supposed to get employee pricing? Man, at this rate, we should all walk into our local car dealership and say, "I'll take the Corvette at no charge." In fact, due to the nested-loop effect, the dealership should actually PAY you to take a car. Of course, there is always the 'cannot be used in conjunction with other discounts' clause, so that might be what saves the dealership. Though i think that could be challenged, if one should care to try.

Sep 1, 2009

Claritin, XP Bliss, and the Teletubbies

I'm sure this comparison has been made elsewhere online, but I've never posted anything about it, so here it goes.

Have you looked at the box of Claritin? How about that background that most XP machines come with? Remember that awful show, "Teletubbies?" Yeah, I'm thinking they all actually exist in the same geographical location. Then again, I think a lot of weird things: