Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Eugene

Anne & I drove down to Eugene last weekend for parental orientation. Ross went with us to register for classes. We originally planned to drive down Saturday afternoon, but with one thing and another, we decided to go early Sunday morning instead. We had to get up at some unholy hour, but it was worthwhile because traffic was non-existent, which was nice. Weather was nice, sunny, even a bit warm. Got to walk around the campus, see some of the buildings and explore the student union, which was quite the conglomeration. I think it may be the biggest building on campus. There are two parts to it, and if you didn't know about it you might think they were two different buildings. There is the old, original brick building with the terrazzo floors, and new modern addition made of poured concrete, glass, and really large, laminated (rotten) wood beams for railings. The old part is composed of rectangular rooms, the new is composed of spaces, triangles, and ramps going every which way. Hmmph. Stayed at a motel across the main drag from the campus. Closer to the union than the designated parking area.

Stopped in Salem on the way back for lunch and to look at cars. Hertz has a big used car lot there and I had seen some ad's for 2005 Lincoln LS for $25,000 that I thought might be a good deal. We stopped at Shari's for lunch. As we were leaving, I asked the cashier if she new where this car lot was. Normally this would be a good example of why men don't ask for directions. I have asked for directions in the past, but the last few times this happened the person I asked had no idea what I was talking about, much less how to get there. So I had pretty much given it up. But I asked the cashier here, and, lo and behold! She not only knew what I was talking about, but was able to give me clear directions to get there. On top of that, they worked! It's a miracle!

The car lot had good variety of late model luxury cars, and most of them had correspondingly luxurious prices. We want to get a new car for Anne, but figuring what car to get is the problem. A car? A van? An SUV? My pick hit last week was a year old Lincoln LS. This week it's the new Mazda SUV (CX-7). One neighbor has a Passat, the other has a Volvo S-40. One of Johnny's friend's mom's has a Subaru Forester. One of Kathryn's friend's mom's has a Mercedes sedan of some sort. Her co-workers drive Lexus's (Lexii?). An Acura SUV might be nice, but my-o-my they want a lot of money for them.

We shall see.

Batteries

I have a video camera I bought 17 or 18 years ago. It doesn't work anymore. It broke once before and I spent a few hundred dollars getting it fixed. But it is broken again. And the battery is dead. This thing ate batteries like crazy, and they were expensive, fifty dollars each, if memory serves. I am loath to get rid of it, as I spent a small fortune to acquire it and I only made a few hours of recordings with it. No one besides me ever showed any interest in using it. Was there no interest, or was I forbidding? My preference would be to get it repaired and make some new batteries for it. The old batteries were just a fancy plastic case wrapped around some old nickel-cadmium AA cells. I would simple replace the internal batteries using newer rechargeable AA cells.

Occasionally someone in my family will voice some interest in a new, compact, video camera. Grumpy Chuck says "save your money".

I have a Makita rechargeable drill that I really like. I have two batteries for it. I keep the battery charger on my workbench in the garage.

I have an Black & Decker rechargeable drill that I really like, but it has been superseded by the Makita. The Makita is more powerful and the battery lasts longer. The B & D's battery is built in, which is a nuisance when it goes dead.

Anne, Ross and Kathryn have cell phones. They take care of their own charging problems.

I want a battery tester/dispenser/recycler. Someplace where you can dump your dead batteries, test you questionable ones, and pick up good ones. Perhaps a vending machine in your house serviced by the battery company.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

PC Design

For a long time I have thought that a computer case where everything could be accessed from the front would be ideal. I always hated having to crawl around and behind and underneath in order to hook up all the cables to a new computer.

Repeat: everything would be accessed from the front. Power cord, switches, cable connections, air flow in and out, removable media. The sides, top, bottom and back would all be solid. A bunch of machines like this could be stacked up against a wall and you could still have access to everything.

Further, for repairs, all of the guts could be mounted to some kind of chassis that would slide out of the case making it possible to add or replace components.

You would want any switches, lights and/or drives with removable media mounted up top so that hanging cables would not interfere with them.

You could add a cover for the front and the machine could be it's own shipping case. Putting some shock absorbers between the internal chassis and the box it is housed in means you could put the cover on and check it as luggage on an airliner. This would eliminate all the hassle of having to keep a shipping container and its' attendant foam packaging on hand, and having to pack and unpack the computer every time it was moved. Could be a big advantage for LAN parties.

I am thinking that a box about one foot wide by one foot deep by about a foot and a half tall would do.

I think a computer box like this would be very popular with some groups. Maybe with everyone. Space is getting more constrained all the time. Setup and hookup would be easier and the time required would be greatly reduced with this box. Some people won't like having fans blowing at them, but some kind of half cover/baffle that would cover everything up but still allow airflow and cable access could make this kind of box acceptable for desktop use.

I would like a computer box like this. I have thought about building one, but I haven't found the time.

Today: January 18, 2007

I just spent the last two days trying to set up an old PC at home so I could use it. It had some problems that necessitated opening the case, removing and reinstalling components, connecting and disconnecting cables. And then I get to work this morning and I see that "Coding Horror" is bitching about PC case design. I do not care what the case looks like, I only have a case because I need somewhere to put all the electronics. I would be just as happy if I did not need one at all. But since I like big screens and am too cheap to buy a new laptop, I put up with the case, but why can't all the connectors be on the front?

And while we are at it, surely someone can come up with a way of managing all those stinking cables? And do we really need stereo speakers? Wouldn't one decent high fidelity speaker do as well for most things? I deal with cables by putting the excess in a box. Let the cable go over the edge of the cable into a box. Leave all the excess in the box, only pull out as much as you need. You can use any kind of box you like, decorate any way you want, just no sharp edges.

So, to go along with my front-panel-only-computer-case, what I want is a long thin box that lies against the wall at the back of my desk where all the cables can hide. Maybe three inches high, three inches wide, and three feet long. The top would be a flip up lid. The top edge of the front side would have notches for cables. It should probably be a little bigger, maybe four or five inches wide to accommodate a power strip and all the little wall warts you need.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Obsession

Movies/Obsession

Anne & I watched "Matchpoint" Saturday night. Long drawn out tedious drama about obsession. Woody Allen, not his usual neurotic clumsy nebbish stuff.

Scott (owner of the company I work for) has hired a new lead engineer. I have been going over in my mind what I want to tell this guy, and it is getting old. He won't start for two weeks, and a lot can happen in two weeks. He may never start. But I keep going over this same stuff in my head and I am tired of it. Tired of obsessing.

The new guy promises to bring more than technical ability with him, so I am eager to see what he can do with the situation, if anything. I should be looking for a new job, and I do, sometimes, but I have not been putting in the effort I should. Partly because I am discouraged before I even start: any new job I get, my boss will probably be just as big a jerk as the one I have now, so why bother? Well, there might be more money.

I should have been out in the backyard digging up blackberry plants, but I managed to avoid remembering that until it was too late.

Johnnie's birthday was Friday, he turned 14. Anne and I took him and four of his friends to see the new Superman movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it struck the right tone, true to the original Superman TV shows I used to watch as a kid.

Linux

Last week I had two computers running Linux, one at work and one at home. Had the GUI interface, access to the internet. Things were good. Then I added a file sharing package to the one at work, and the GUI died. So now I am stuck with a command line interface until I figure out what went wrong.

Saturday I fired up my Linux box at home and the monitor was dead. Went to "Office Depot" to get a new one. They had only two CRT's and more than a dozen flat panel displays. The two CRT's were only 17 inches and cost $170. 17 inches is not big enough. I wanted a 19 inch CRT. It should be cheaper than a flat panel, but they can't be had. Ended up buying a 19" Viewsonic for $250. Filed for a $50 rebate. 8 ms response time, which Johnny told me was better. Necessary for any kind of video so you do not get ghosting. Some flat panel displays have 12ms or even 20ms response times, so you need to read the fine print.

TV

They also had a really wide screen with built in speakers that doubled as a TV for $600. It was tempting. I passed. It is bad enough that we have two TV's at home now. Nobody wants to watch what anybody else wants to watch. Anne & I watch some TV together, and Anne and Kathryn watch some shows together, but that is about it. The boys have their own interests.