I'm involved, off and on, in a lengthy project to try and consolidate my nearly 20 years' worth of comics, bag, board, and sort them. (Precisely how to sort them presents a rub -- presumably first by year and then by title, but figuring out how many months' worth of comics will fit in any given box creates a huge headache. And many comics do not print the goddamn year on the cover.)

Tonight's run through about 100 different comics from ten to fifteen years ago was largely discouraging -- most of them were from my unfortunate X-Men phase. (There was even a Clone Saga ish of Spidey in there.) As I started going through issues of Generation X, I felt a burning desire to apologize to myself for all the stupid, stupid things that seemed like a good idea when I was a teenager. I'm big on taking responsibility for my mistakes, no matter how young and misguided I was when I made them.

But then I hit on my nearly-complete run of TMNT: City at War and that reminded me that, dammit, I made mistakes, but I still had pretty damn good judgement at times, too. It's a source of constant consternation to me that I am missing one issue of that arc -- #56, to be exact.

If you have a copy you want to part with, let me know. I'll trade you a #48, as I have two copies of it for some reason.

Meantime, guess I'll keep an eye on eBay -- I was briefly thrilled to see somebody selling a TMNT #56 there, but it turned out to be the Archie comic, not the Mirage one.

And I really should start checking out comic shops in my neighborhood. I've still been shopping at my old store in Tempe despite it being 30 miles away, because they've been good to me over the past ten years or more and I am a loyal customer. But they don't have a great back issue selection, and they're also 30 miles away.

Edit, 2007-05-20: I got a message today from somebody asking if I was still looking for TMNT #56. The answer is no; I found it -- and filled the rest of the gaps in my vol 1 collection, too -- on nostalgiazone.com a few months back. Thanks anyway.

I am still missing the bulk of the original Tales series, so if anyone has any hot tips on those, let me know. Thanks.

(Okay, one spoiler. But it's for Batman Begins, which everybody's probably already seen by now anyway.)

This is just completely fucking absurd.

(And yeah, my referrals from the Bioware page have pretty much dried up, so I'm going back to gratuitous use of the word "fuck". In fact more gratuitous than usual in this post.)

Look, it's nice seeing comics get mainstream press attention (even if it's for shit like the new Batwoman being a lipstick lesbian -- who also happens to be Officer Montoya's former lover, because of course all the lesbians in Gotham know each other. Apparently in the Marvel U all African superheroes are childhood friends, too.), and I'm sure this will boost sales for an industry that could really use them, but you don't goddamn post a headline spoiling the ending of a comic within hours of it hitting the stands.

This is complete horseshit, and it's symptomatic of the complete lack of respect comic books get as a medium.

I mean, seriously. Can you imagine a paper running a story with a headline spoiling the ending of a movie that came out that same day? Even a movie about superheroes? Did you see any papers running headlines like "Henri Ducard is Actually Ra's Al-Ghul"? Or how about "X, Y, and Z die in X3"? (See that last one? The movie's been out for weeks and it's still too soon for me to be comfortable writing spoilers for it.)

The press doesn't print articles that ruin, right in the headline, endings of new movies. Or new books. I suppose they do with new TV, but they at least wait until the show's aired on the west coast. Oh, but this is a comic book. It's not like anybody cares about spoilers for a comic book.

And so there I am, sitting at work on my break -- I am still at work and certainly have not had a fucking chance to go to the comic store yet -- and the Huffington Post sees fit to tell me how Civil War #2 ends.

Fuck you, Huffington Post. And fuck everybody else who blabbed about this today without so much as a spoiler warning. Fuck you from the bottom of my heart.

And another thing: if you're going to write a headline about Spider-Man, get his fucking name right. Spider-Man. With a hyphen.

And as for anyone who wants to be surprised by the ending of Civil War #2, you'd better go pick it up right now, and do your very best not to watch, read, or listen to any news before you get it, because I don't know how long you can make it without somebody jumping out and ruining it for you.

You fuckers think that just 'cause a guy reads comics he can't start some shit?

Think I'm finally done fixing Grandma's computer. Well, in point of fact, it's working just fine now, but until it's sitting on her desk and still working, I'm not going to jump the gun and call it finished. "It should be finished by the end of the day" has been my battlecry for the past three weekends, and this time I'm going to exercise caution rather than get my hopes up. Something could somehow go horribly wrong between now and my next trip to Scottsdale (which I'm figuring for Saturday).

I found that, even wiping the drive, I could not get Windows to boot. Error loading operating system, every time. And, as previously mentioned, the disk was flagged as bootable.

So yesterday, for shits and giggles, I tried installing Linux on it instead.

And it worked. It booted, no trouble.

Yet, when I reinstalled XP again, it was back to refusing to boot.

So I hatched a plan. I decided, y'know, Grandma only used about 8GB of her 80GB hard drive even when she had it packed to the gills with 8 years of files, so on a clean install, I can easily set a few gigs aside for a Linux partition. I decided to set up a Linux partition (well, two, really, one ext3 and one swap) at the front of the drive -- I could've done a Puppy-sized 256MB, but decided to stretch it out to 5GB just so I could stretch out and have a good, full Linux install for troubleshooting the next time Windows goes haywire -- and fill the other 75GB with Windows. I figured I'd set GRUB up to automatically boot Windows and leave the Linux boot invisible.

Turns out I didn't even have to reconfigure GRUB -- when I installed XP, it overwrote GRUB with its own bootloader, and this time, for reasons which I cannot fathom, it actually worked. I mean, this points to some kind of oddity with the MBR and/or boot sector, but beyond that I have no idea why adding a dual-boot fixed the problem.

And that, I think, is the most important dirty little secret among people who fix computers -- half the time we don't know why what we just did worked. Hell, I consider myself lucky that I even know what I did this time, even though I don't know why it worked. Frequently I find that something starts working again and I don't even know what I did to change it.

I'm half-convinced this is some sort of Uncertainty Principle thing and I just have the touch. Which sounds cool, but I'd rather computers -- and Windows in particular -- just behaved rationally.

The latest hilarious chapter in the Fixing Grandma's Computer saga is that the new CD-RW drive I bought her at Fry's turned out to be bad. I exchanged it for a good one, but discovered on getting home that I had left my Knoppix CD in the one I returned. Which is probably all right, since it was Knoppix 3.9 and I'm overdue for an upgrade anyway.

But the whole process is just one disaster after another, and I don't have the tools I need. This must be how Fred Flinstone felt when he tried to fix his computer. With, I can only assume, some sort of small bird with a skinny beak -- possibly a hummingbird; I imagine that a hummingbird would be a very difficult bird to use as a screwdriver, but "very difficult" is sort of what I'm going for with this analogy -- and, assuming Fred is a Mac user like everybody else on TV, a paper clip.

I am, of course, burning a new copy of Knoppix; I tried to use the ExpressCD program that came with my old copy of Ultimate Boot CD but it had approximately the worst interface I have ever seen in a CD burning program (yes, worse than xcdrecord -- much worse). It kept putting folders in places I didn't tell it to, and wouldn't let me move them.

I do believe my Windows XP disc is trashed, meaning that even once I back up Grandma's files, I can't install a new OS on her computer. (Well, I could install 98, but that would rather defeat the purpose of this whole exercise. Or I could install 2000, but the reason I'm switching her from 98 in the first place is that it's now unsupported, and 2000 is next on the chopping block.)

All in all, considering that Grandma doesn't do any kind of online banking or credit card transactions, really the worst-case scenario if her unsecure installation of Win98 had gotten a nasty malware infection would be...basically what's happened anyway. (Though I suppose her CD-ROM was going to die no matter what.) Live and learn, I guess. I'm never doing a Windows update again. I mean it this time. Fool me once, shame on, shame on you... ... ... ... ...fool me can't get fooled again.

Oh, by the way, I've disabled trackbacks, since nobody but spammers was using them anyway. If you really really want me to bring them back for some reason, let me know.

(Also, is it bad that my favorite part of work is now driving?)

Yeah, this is going to be one of those where I talk about living in the desert.

There's a lot I love about the desert. Oh, sure, it's a hostile environment, particularly to pigment-challenged individuals of Irish Honky descent such as myself, and sure, those same honkies who have the least resistance to the sun's rays have decided for some reason to fill this region with concrete and asphalt to make it that much more unbearable, but there are still some very pretty things to be seen.

I've spent a few hours over the past couple of weeks handing out flyers for our company. I hate to be one of those guys who waves his degree around, but that's really not what I got it to do. But we need business, and there are a hell of a lot of new businesses opening within a mile radius of here, and the boss thinks I should be the guy who hands flyers out, so that's part of what I've been doing.

The first day, I overdid it: I thought I had sunscreen, but it turned out I didn't. Must not have packed any when I moved in February (which, all things considered, makes sense). So I went out and handed out flyers for three hours and got good and sunburned and chafed. I spent Memorial Day Weekend unable to walk comfortably. I am amused by the mental image of the tableau of a very sunburned guy going up to the counter at Target with sunscreen, aloe gel, and talc in his basket -- no explanation necessary.

Since then, I've limited myself to 90 minutes of flyering a day, and of course it goes without saying that this 90 minutes must be complete before 10 AM because I'm not going out when there's an excessive heat warning in effect. But I haven't been out there the past few days because things have been so busy at the shop. Mixed blessing -- I'd rather not be out there handing out flyers, but at the same time if I don't find time for it soon the boss is going to yell at me again.

I don't like sunscreen. It's greasy, smelly, and invariably gets in your eyes, even if the label proclaims it's non-greasy, unscented, and sweat-proof. But it beats being baked alive.

Dad also leant me a hat which once belonged to a family friend who died of cancer. I think that's pretty cool.

And handing out flyers isn't all bad. I dig the desert landscaping surrounding most of the buildings. Often I will hear a rustling in the bushes and see a large lizard come out.

Meantime, I haven't had much time to relax when I've been home from work -- work on a computer all day, go home and work on a computer. See, my grandma's been rocking Windows 98 for the past 8 years, and since Microsoft has ended support for it, I decided I should probably upgrade her to XP.

Have you caught the mistake in my thinking?

That's right: the word upgrade.

Let me explain something. I have never had a Windows upgrade go well. 95 turned out to be incompatible with my processor, 98 hosed my filesystem (which is why there is no complete extant copy of KateStory IX), and XP hosed my partition table. ME...actually upgraded smoothly and gave me no trouble, but I think the fact that it installed Windows ME on my computer means it still did serious harm to my system.

So I should have known better. I shouldn't even have attempted the upgrade. I should have backed up her files to CD, wiped the drive, and done a clean install.

But I didn't. I attempted an upgrade. Which went fine until the reboot, at which point the installation hung. No error, just a hang at boot time.

So then I made my second mistake: I tried to use Recovery Console.

Specifically, I used fixboot. Which hosed my partition table. I wound up with what looked like a 10MB FAT12 partition with only one file on it. Knoppix showed more files, but they were all gibberish.

Daunted, I retreated to lick my wounds and study the problem before going back the next weekend to attempt a fix. I found a useful MBR tool on UBCD4Win, which got the filesystem looking good enough to run a chkdsk on. After that, the files were visible, but the damn thing still wouldn't boot no matter what I did or how many times I installed an OS on top of it. (And yes, the partition is set bootable.)

It was about this point where I hit the Eject button on the CD-ROM drive and it launched my CD across the room. It bears noting that this is not even a slot-loading drive, it's the kind with a tray. I have never seen anything like it in my entire life.

There comes a point in a project where you know you need to stop for the day. Seeing your Windows XP disc fly across the room is such a point.

So I brought the computer home to work on it here. (Grandma's is thirty miles from here, meaning I logged roughly 120 in my two round-trips this past weekend.) So far I've made little progress -- my flying WinXP disc does not look to be in very good shape; I made a copy of it last night but it took hours to do, so I'm betting there was some serious trouble reading the data on it. Hopefully it somehow made a good copy anyway. I haven't tried it today because I've been busy trying to revdep-rebuild my Gentoo install, because I can't upgrade KDE until I recompile a bunch of programs that used to have ungif support, which is now deprecated because the patent on the GIF algorithm finally expired. (You see what software patents do? Do you see?)

Also I bought Grandma a new CD burner. Now I'm trying to figure out how to get the mail-in rebate on it. It is possible that I did not pick up the appropriate form and will have to go back to Fry's to get it. The fun never ends.

All in all, it's been a stressful month. But on the plus side, I haven't been mugged by a hooker at knife-point, so I guess that means I know at least one guy who's had a worse month than I have. Hey, count your blessings.


Also, I don't intend to make a habit of mixing business with this blog, but I've been working on a website for a local musician named Devon Bridgewater at nuancemusic.org. Nuance Music (AKA Nuance Jazz Trio) is a local jazz group consisting of Devon, Dick Curtis, and Joel DiBartolo, director of jazz studies at my alma mater.

Anyway, I'm just throwing that link out because Devon's looking to drum up some publicity to his site, and unfortunately his Google page rank is pretty low right now, so he needs all the links he can get. So spread the word around, and, most importantly, link to his site. (I might add it to my links page if I ever drum up the courage to dust off the cobwebs and update the damn thing.)

Once again, that page is Nuance Music.

Hell, while I'm at it, Google hasn't even listed any of the other pages on the site, so here are links to them too: gigs, press, jazz, weddings, gallery, corporate clients, festivals, contact, Spanish.


Reading: A Scanner Darkly. Hoping the movie doesn't suck.

Playing: Suikoden 5. Basically at this point the series is openly hostile to newcomers -- this game took 7 hours to get interesting (still better than the 30 hours of 3 and the never of 4), and there's no way anybody would play that far without having a tremendous amount of goodwill left over from the first two games.

It's 100 degrees out, but I've just moved into the server room, where it's chilly enough that I'm actually considering going back to hot coffee -- I've been drinking it cold ever since it got up to about 90 degrees out.

Of course, if I'd remembered to bring my towel today, I could probably use it to keep warm. Oh well -- I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

Anyway. Come July I think I'm going to be really happy to be in here. But come next February, I think I'll have to bring a blanket.


Playing: New Super Mario Bros.

All right, you know what? I'll tone down the cursing since a lot of my referrals are still coming from my BioWare interview, but the events of the past couple days necessitate a good strong rant.

First of all, it's been the longest week at work since I started this job. Which, overall, is a good thing; I think we're going to get some good business from my efforts. But things got a bit stressful on Tuesday, repetitive yesterday, and repetitive yesterday.

And then there's coming home to find that my epic-level POS of a DVR box -- the infamous Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000 -- was dead. I've been paying Cox entirely too much money for this joke of a system because I can't afford TiVo; hopefully when I get my 90-day raise I'll be able to make the switch. I'll have to hold my nose a bit given my intense political dislike of TiVo, but it beats the hell out of this calamity of a cable box.

So of course that leaves me waiting for the cable guy for three hours on Sunday.

And this morning, my AC was leaking. Dangerously closely, I might add, to the shelves where I keep my entire 16-bit console game collection. So I moved the shelves, put down some towels and pots, kicked the AC up to 80 degrees, headed to work, and made a maintenance request. But I think I should probably run back home at lunch to empty those pots in case maintenance hasn't shown up yet.

And there's one more thing bugging me, but it's a subject I promised myself I would never, ever complain about on my blog, so, in the interest of keeping my dignity and self-respect, I will instead complain about that godawful "I am woman, hear me roar" parody in the new Burger King commercials, which keeps getting stuck in my head. Everyone involved in any aspect of creating that commercial is in serious need of a good cock-punch. I grant that this applies to damn near everybody in the advertising industry, but this commercial deserves its own special place in Hell.

Anyway. It's been a weird damn twenty-four hours.

But on the plus side, they've announced the Han shoots first editions of Star Wars on DVD.

Hi!

Noticed my interview's gone up on BioWare's site, so I figured that I should probably post something here other than my rather rude previous entry.

So, once again, welcome to my site, anyone who's here as a result of BioWare's writing contest; glad to have you and hope you enjoy it.

Incidentally, that interview appears to have reprinted my responses verbatim -- even my little tangent about that poetry professor I had -- and I also dig the new screenshot they took for it (though the PC looks a bit too much like Timothy). Kudos to BioWare.

Edit, 4:16 PM: Actually, they cut my closing comment, something to the effect of "Now if only Aurora were available for Linux." There may be more missing; I'll check later when I have my original E-Mail in front of me.

Now, just in case I've accidentally made a good first impression, read on to see yesterday's post!

I am so sick of these bastards. Nary a week goes by when I don't stumble across their shit: I have some sort of problem I need to fix, I do a Google search, and wind up clicking on a helpful-looking link -- not looking at the URL it leads to -- only to find these assholes wasting my valuable time again.

Look -- I'm not giving you fuckers money for tech support, especially when there's no guarantee that your answer will have any relevance whatsoever to my issue. All you're doing is wasting my valuable time -- frequently when I'm at work and time, as they say, is money. And how the hell do you manage to get all your crap on the first page of every Google search for every conceivable network troubleshooting problem?

Tags:

It's a gorgeous fucking day. The high is 77 and there's a pleasant breeze. And in Phoenix in April, each gorgeous day could be the last one until fall: in a month, it'll be up over 100.

I was very disappointed that I ran late leaving the house this morning and had to drive instead of biking. But on the plus side, we had an employee barbecue at lunch.

Other than that, we're moving servers around. Lot of heavy lifting and interesting maneuvering. In-between that I'm setting up a mailserver.

Life is good.


Reading: Stranger in a Strange Land. Which, other than making me use the word "grok" more often than usual (though I've used it for years anyway), has somewhat lowered my esteem of Speaker for the Dead, which seems to crib all its best ideas from Heinlein. I guess I'm now down to liking only one thing Orson Scott Card's ever written.