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Weblog for September '01
Monday, September 10, 2001

New Location; Same Web Site

Those of you who are observant will note that the URL for the location of these pages has changed. The reason for that change is an instructive, cautionary tale.

Over the weekend, I've been migrating my software and files from my old computer, we'll call it "the Asus" (named after the motherboard), to my new one, "the Sony." This moving-day experience is not unlike moving one's home from one house to another, a task to be tolerated rather than to be longed for. When you've used a computer, as I have, for a seven year period, you build a comfortable working environment with little programs here and there, many of which have passwords and unique usernames, that make your computing house a home. Try as you may, keeping track of each of the usernames and its associated password is a monumental but important task. And in the case of my account with Tripod, the hosting service for these web pages, I forgot the username and password associated with the previous URL. It was stored in the program, so I didn't have to enter it regularly to facilitate my remembering it. The result was that when I sought help from Tripod about my account, I got the information on the current URL where these pages are located (which was the URL of a previous version of this web site). So from now on, the main URL will be http://members.tripod.com/PerryNelson.

Two lessons arise from my recent experience. One is that I need to keep track of which username and password I have created for each of the services I subscribe to. The second is that one needs to allot a considerable amount of time for the transition from one computer to another. My problem in making the transition is made more complex because I'm moving from older technology (in which I didn't have the ability to burn a CD) to newer technology. Therefore I must use my ZipDrive (with its limited capacity) to move things rather use a CD. It's like moving your home furnishings in a wheelbarrow rather than a moving van. Still I made good progress over the weekend and will soon be back up to full capacity again.

One final problem is worth mentioning. Almost all software requires that you enter a registration code when you install it. In some cases that code is printed on the jewel case in which the CD is distributed. However, in the case of software that you download from the Internet, the problem of keeping track of those registration codes is very similar to the problem of keeping track of usernames and passwords. In many cases, the software company sends an email that contains the registration code when you download their software. It is crucial to keep those emails so that you can reinstall the software if you ever need to do so. I maintain a folder (named "intermittent contact") in my email program where I store that kind of information.

The migration continues and it probably will for the next few weeks. The faster computer, the larger monitor, the bigger hard disk and the greater capability they all bring had better be worth it, because moving day is a pain.

Saturday, September 8, 2001
Delaying Gratification
My new computer was scheduled to be delivered on Thursday of this past week.  Because the folks who prepared the "ship to" label put my whole address on the same line, the last number in the address got lopped off.  As a result, UPS made an attempt to deliver it ... but to the wrong address.  So I didn't get the computer as I had hoped on Thursday.  I called UPS Thursday afternoon and made arrangements to pick it up on Friday morning before going to work.  I was able to get it then and to drop it off at the house before going to work.  I had time to unpack it but not enough time to set it up.  
Finally, last night I removed the monitor from my Windows 95 computer and attached it to the Sony and was able to see it operate.  I tested a DVD in the DVD drive and that seemed to work well.  I looked through the various installed programs and tried to get familiar with the system and those programs a bit.
This morning I got up and went to Best Buy where I purchased a new 19" Samsung Flat Screen monitor.  I was able to get it home, but because it was as heavy as it was, I couldn't pull it out of the box.  I had to wait until Mike came home to get it out of the shipping box for me.  (All those years of his lifting weights paid off for me!)  So this afternoon I finally got the system set up.  
I called @Home my cable ISP tech support and got them to help me configure my NIC.  Therefore I could attach my cable modem to the system and finally surf the Internet with the new computer.  I also attached a telephone cord to the computer so I could send in my registration for the computer and my copy of Windows ME.  
Now the task that faces me is to add all the software to the new computer that I have used through the years on the older computer.  And that is no small task.  Of course, for some things it is just a matter of running the CD and reinstalling the software.  But for other programs that I downloaded from the Internet, I must go through my "download" directory and find the setup files for those programs so that I can copy them to a Zip disk and then move them to the other computer.  I suspect I'll be weeks trying to get everything set up as I had it.  Nevertheless, I'm very pleased with the new system and will be even more so when I get everything moved over.
September 6, 2001
Happy Birthday, my son.
Today is my son Mike's birthday.  He is 33 years old.  As I sat with a colleague at work and mentioned that my youngest child will turn 33, he indicated that he just recently turned 27.  I observed, "You know you are getting old when your youngest child is older than your business colleagues."  Here is a recent picture of Mike and Maegan, his neice, my granddaughter and my son Jeff's daughter.
Kaitlin, Mike's daughter, got a new pet, Tigger the cat.  Here is a photo of her with Tigger.
September 4, 2001
Some Thoughts on Virus Hoaxes
This morning's mail brought me a query from a buddy, Steve Backiel, here in Knoxville.  Steve had received a warning from one of his email buddies alerting him to a virus that was  "the most destructive ever."  Fortunately, Steve decided to check it out with some trusted friends before following the instructions in the message to "forward this message to everyone in your address book."  Steve wrote to ask if this threat were for real.  
I like a couple of things about what Steve did.  First he didn't blindly participate in the hysteria and distribute this message to everyone he knew.  Instead, he asked several trusted friends whether he should be concerned and whether he should forward it.  If you can't do the research yourself to investigate the validity of the warning you receive, it is a good idea to ask someone you trust first.  The second thing he did was to copy only the text of the message he received and send that for his friends to examine.  He did NOT send along any attachments.
This incident leads me to list the following resources for checking out such scares:
Rob Rosenberger's Virus Myths Page.
The Department of Energy's Computer Incident Advisory Capability Virus Hoax Page.
Symantec's Virus Hoax Page
McAfee's Virus Hoax Page.
One particular article from the DOE's page is worth reading.  It discusses the risks and costs of virus hoaxes.  Before forwarding any dire warning you receive "to everyone in your address book,' please take the time to visit some of these sites and research the threat first.  You'll save your friends a lot of trouble and perhaps yourself some embarrassment, if you do.
September 3, 2001
Labor Day
With the day off, I thought I'd do a little pro bono instruction for anyone who might be interested.  I've created a page that explains how to create a personalized sound scheme in Windows, so that those who are interested can add a little variety to their lives.  I've also provided some links on that page to some sound files (*.WAV files) with which you can experiment.  Enjoy.
September 2, 2001
Cheap Memory
As I eagerly await the arrival of my new computer, I've already begun investigating how to improve it.  
The system can accommodate a maximum of 512 MB of RAM.  It comes with 128 MB installed, and it has only 2 SDRAM memory slots.  Therefore I'm going to have to do something wasteful and pull out the 128 MB pre-installed memory card so that I can replace it with a 256 MB card and then add another to max out the memory.  I'm willing to do this because I can get the appropriate memory for this computer for $34.19 for each 256 MB.  So for less than $75.00 I can install all the RAM my system can handle.  
The place where I purchase memory online is http://www.crucial.com.  The specific page for the memory chip for my new computer is located here.  The thing I like most about this site, aside from the prices, is that at the home page for this site, you can select first your motherboard manufacturer, then the specific model of motherboard, and then receive a display of the appropriate chips for that motherborad along with their prices.  Now that memory is as cheap as it is, there is no reason not to have my system maxed out.  
Now if the bioengineering community would just get to work and figure a way to implant these memory chips in our cranium and augment the memory in our brains!
September 1, 2001
Moving On
My house is very different without the dogs.  
Some doors that I used to keep closed to keep the dogs out, such as the door that leads downstairs to Mike's section of the house, are now open, and doors that I used to leave open, such as the door to the garage, to give the dogs access to that area as an emergency "bathroom," can now be closed.  Because the need has changed, so has the environment.  Even little things like these remind me of my now-absent friends.  A noticable measure of life has gone out of my home.
Yesterday, I was comforted by a number of expressions of extraordinary caring and concern as people read my August 30th entry.  
My friend, Don Vernine, sent a pot of deep purple chrysanthemums that is just full of buds ready to explode into blossoms.  The card said, "My heart is with you and Rocky and Bruno.  Don"
My son, Jeff, called to express his sympathy, and to let me know that as he read the web page at work he had to close the door to his office lest people see him crying at his desk.
My friend, Paul, called from Berlin, once he read the news, to express his empathy and understanding of my sorrow.  He noted, "You can imagine how devastating an effect reading that has on me: I've been through that horrid experience, in variations, with all four French bulldogs that preceded Maxe."  (Maxe is Paul's current canine companion, a mischievous dachshund.)
And through the mail, I received this note from Dr. Moser, dated August 29, 2001 (the day Rocky and Bruno died.)
Dear Mr. Nelson
I just wanted to let you know how sorry I am for your loss.  The boys were wonderful souls, and I know that you will miss their presence in your life.  Please rest assured that both Rocky and Bruno had peaceful ends.  I know that making that decision was heartbreaking and gut wrenching ...  I had to make it myself back in April for my beloved companion, Madison.  It's very difficult to come to terms with it.  I have finally come to look upon it as a peaceful end to a wonderful life.  My thoughts are with you!
With sympathy,
Cristi Moser, DVM
The card in which Dr. Moser sent her note had these words imprinted on it -- Friends enter and leave our lives, but the impressions they make on our hearts stay with us forever.
With a deep breath, a lump still in my throat and a sigh, I move on.
A byproduct of life in the trenches  
Some time ago, Client Logic, the company where I work, began a program called Red Hot Rewards in which we employees were awarded points for achieving certain goals that the company had for us at work.  The program was being run at the Oak Ridge facility as a pilot to see whether it proved worthwhile for use company wide.  That is, they wanted to know whether it actually affected behavior and therefore was a wise use of their money.  
At the conclusion of the program I had accumulated enough points to go shopping for something that I would find rewarding for my effort.  I was delighted to learn that by adding some of my own money with that which I had earned in the program I could get a new computer.  I chose a Sony Vaio PCV RX450 from Crutchfield's online store.  The full description of it can be read here.  I am eagerly awaiting its arrival some time in the next week.  This will be my first new computer since December of 1994.