video card fan update

It turns out you can replace your video card fan. The downside is that it's fiddly, nervous-making work. I saved about a hundred dollars over replacing it. Not sure what it would have cost to get it repaired at Fry's or Best Buy, but I'm glad I didn't find out.

And what's up with RAM heat sinks on video cards? Do they actually do something, or is it just feature-itis? Well I installed them anyway, sigh.

The silence that came out of my PC case last night was music to my ears. I feel better already.

a couple of cheap single player pc games maybe

I haven't played either of these but that might change.

Time Gentlemen, Please! is apparently a time travelling adventure game. Maybe in the vein of Maniac Mansion Day of the Tentacle? Idunno.

Torchlight is a single player low profile streamlined Diablo clone.

more pc blues - graphics card fan

I've never had a graphics card fan break on me before, but I'm finding it really distressing. The fan makes this horrible clicking, buzzing sound that's impossible to ignore, especially when gaming. Apparently you can replace the entire cooling unit on video cards? That sounds better than replacing the video card, since it's not more than a few months old.

...Stepping back, for me it's another reminder that our sense of self extends well beyond our physical bodies. My mood and sense of well-being can be heavily influenced by the status of my car, my computer, and my bank account. I suspect that the house will join that list in short order.

I heard that cats get more attached to places than they do to people. It makes you wonder if a cat's territory is an extension of itself in the same way.

audio research

I'm trying to put together another media temple in the living room, for consoles and movie watching and whatnot. Eventually we'll have to buy a TV I think, but until then my widescreen monitor will serve. But the audio solution really had me stumped. I have a pretty great setup for my PC, a pair of klipsch bookshelf speakers that I got from Ralph seven years ago, and they've spoiled me for PC speakers. (Basically, every PC speaker I've ever heard sucks in comparison to even a modest home theater setup.)

So, I'm unwilling to permanently downgrade my PC, and I'm going to have similar standards for the eventual setup in the living room. Long story short I need another set of speakers, either temporarily or permanently. I don't really want to go with a temporary solution (cheap PC speakers,) because I already have enough junk around the house. But I also don't want to break the bank. But I ALSO don't want to chase down a good home theater system on craigslist--my time is more valuable than it used to be, especially this month.

Anyway, after some research rejected logitech and I ended up ordering these M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 Powered Speakers speakers from amazon. I have high hopes that they will be a solid addition to my noisemaking capacity for years to come. Even if they don't have a place in whatever system I eventually set up in the living room, they should make great auxiliary speakers for either the garage or the bedroom.

the internet is a public good

Internet access will be regulated the same way that gas, electric, water, and phone service are regulated: as a public good. Next up: cell phones, and the wireless carriers.

The FCC approved new openness rules for the broadband and mobile wireless connections to the internet, gratifying President Obama;s grassroots supporters and internet services like Google, while drawing the wrath of large telecoms such as AT&T and the wireless industry.
Back in the 1990s, I was afraid that government regulation of the internet would squash innovation and end the "wild west" era. But the down side of frontier life is that because it's lawless, you're prone to exploitation by bandits and robber barons and such. So then you have to choose whether to put up with it, petition the governor to send the sheriff around, move back east, or move even further west.

(In this extended metatphor bloggers are farmers, ecommerce merchants are general store owners, web programmers are cowboys, prospectors are .com startups. The bandits are spammers, the Indians are the old media companies (music, journalism, print)*, and the oil and railroad barons are the tech companies that move in, take over, and sell access.)

The fat cats won, the infrastructure has been build and it's very profitable. The Indians have been marginalized and their attacks have subsided, they're heading for the reservations. A flood of homesteaders and regular folk is on its way. Now, for the sake of all the families that are trying to settle in, it's time for the fed to move in and civilize the place. That means busting the trusts and taking down the big monopolies.

Civilization means equality of opportunity. That's what these rules are about. The frontiersmen are just going to have to find a new frontier.

*So yeah I feel guilty about what the US did to the Native Americans and I apologize if the metaphor is offensive, but I don't think it's inaccurate. In the story of the wild west this is how it went. The natives were outcompeted, fairly and unfairly. I think it's tragic when progress steamrolls human beings.

the kitchen is packed

Last night we put all (most) of the kitchen stuff in boxes. I think most of the rest of the stuff that has to get packed is going in bags. (Also we're almost out of the 25 boxes we bought.)

But I think there's something about the kitchen gear in particular that gets you excited... This is the practical stuff, the stuff you use every day, and the next time you use it will be in your own kitchen, on your own stove.

I guess we'll be eating out until then ;-)

tired is relative, also unemployment economics

It's a funny feeling, this feeling I have now. When I'm at my desk, or at home at my computer, I'm utterly exhausted. When I'm at the new house working on stuff, I can stay on my feet for hours at a time. Well also there aren't many chairs over there right now so it's hard to sit down. But really I do feel very energized about it all.

I think the word 'tired' is a lot less informative than it should be... It doesn't communicate the subtleties of emotion that govern how we manage our time, or how we would prefer to manage it. Maybe it's an artifact of the English language. Or perhaps what I'm getting at is the same thing I've been chasing mentally for a long time, which is simply that I want to own my time, myself.

On the subject of time management. The idea of unemployment checks is interesting. What would look like if instead of paying people a percentage of their former income for a fixed amount of time, you just put them to work on some public good. Probably it would look like a human resources debacle of epic proportions, trying to find useful public sector work for a shifting population of millions... People who now complain about welfare would instead complain about the centrally planned economy taking over the private sector.

But on the other hand I always loved the idea of the CCC, the civilian conservation corps... The idea is you take a bunch of unemployed dudes and you give them something useful to do. Most of their pay is in free food, housing, and medical care, and they get a small stipend on top. It helps the unemployment problem, stimulates the economy, provides job training, and keeps said dudes off the street, all while providing some public good (infrastructure, conservation) on top.

Maybe as network technologies improve, the thousands and millions of local projects that need doing can be hooked up more efficiently to the people who are suddenly out of work but who have the skills to complete those projects. If the HR problem could be eased, then this sort of work might be a good replacement for unemployment for a lot of people. It might be especially good for young folk right out of college or whatnot. A good way to build connections in a community, to learn practical skills, all that good stuff.

oh yeah also we bought a house

So we got the keys on Monday. We'll be painting this weekend and moving next weekend (If you want to help out with either let me know.)

And I started a new blog just for house stuff, where Annie and I will (maybe) be recording our adventures in experimental homeownership.

That will be the spot to watch for house pictures too.

another busted water main

Our showers have been weak (too cold) for a few days now. (still at the old place, 11th St.) It's been getting so bad that I've been dreading every shower, because I have to get in and out in 5 minutes or it'll lose all warmth. This morning Annie found a new naturally occurring* hot spring in our backyard, near one of our garden planters.


*Warm water just coming right up out of the ground in Manhattan Beach! I didn't know we were a geothermal hot spot! I should probably call the USGS or something.**

**Or you know, a plumber.

the future soon

I heard a story on NPR a few days ago (it turns out I actually read it on boing boing but for some reason I remember it as NPR audio...weird) about a boy from Malawi who read in a book about using windmills to provide energy, and who set out to build one for his family/village farm.

So, awesome, great job*. And it makes you wonder what might be in a book from the future, if you could find one, that would represent a similarly daunting, yet achievable leap. Imagine finding instructions for making petroleum out of algae, or for spinning carbon nanotubes. Or imagine reading about the network protocols and wireless power strategies that will be the foundation of the pervasive wireless internet: the outernet. If you were a determined dude or lady, you could change the world with that kind of technosauce.

But we don't have those books, so we go on scratching around, trying to figure it out on our own, without the benefit of the knowledge that "this idea changed the world." I find it staggering how much easier it is to learn something that it is to discover or invent that same thing. But when you think about humans as clever monkeys instead of rational beings, it makes more sense... Our imaginations, as amazing as they are, are only just barely good enough to lift us out of the dirt, because that's exactly how good they had to be to get us this far. (Or, if they were better, we'd surely have flying cars by now)

AND it raises the question, is there a complexity frontier beyond which we can make no progress? Where it takes so long to get up to speed that no forward progress can be made? Or will we simply continue to build more sophisticated tools and sweep the details under the rug?

...In conclusion, humans are so great.

*This sounds like both an incredibly sad and an incredibly hopeful story, doesn't it?