Thursday, February 28, 2008

Free....freaking free!

So another perk of Norton Anti-Virus! I hate keeping up with the Norton Anti-Virus subscriptions on all the computers. Pain in the ass. Well with AT&T Uverse with Yahoo we get full versions of Norton Anti-Virus with subscriptions for as long as we care customers. Not just one computer but up to 7!!! I wonder how they came up with 7....I mean I am sure MOST households have 2.3 kids and 3 computers. Odd. I will take and use all 7 though. Sweet!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Decommissioning a computer....saying goodbye to a good worker

So the Media center computer has been used very little since we got Uverse. Without a clean TV signal...not much need for it. I would turn it on every now and then....get it all warmed up...even connect via remote desktop and play around. was time for it to go. The Media center computer has been around for almost 4 years. It is the oldest computer in the house and most reliable. Day in and day out it would record TV shows for us, allow the XBOX 360 to connect to the internet (through internet connection sharing) and allow the XBOX 360 to pull TV shows so we could watch them in the living room. Throughout the years I upgraded the hard drive space to over 700 GB. I gave it a Christmas gift of 512 MB of DDR RAM for a total of 1.5 GB. It was happy. Yesterday I turned it off for one last time.

I started by slowly unscrewing the screws that hold on the case. They seemed to really hold on tighter than normal. Sliding back the case the insides were quite clean (I would dust it out every other month). I reached in and unplugged the two DVD-burners first...and then the hard drives. One of the DVD-Burners was installed in the Home Server. I need an optical drive that's a DVD drive. One of the hard drives was also installed in the Home Server...I am going to have 700 GB of space in it when I am done.  It looks so exposed...front open to the world. I am going to do something with it. Not sure what.

With my two days off this week I plan on cleaning up the office and network. Right now I have three computers under my desk. I have my main computer, security camera computer and the home server. I am going to move the security camera computer and home server elsewhere in the house. I ran 4 more cables today to two locations. I now have a total of 20 network jacks in the house. I have 4 to spare. I also mounted the patch panel on the wall today. Much cleaner in the hall closet now.

The home server is what used to be Kelli's desktop computer. She hasn't used her desktop in months since she got her laptop. All we used the computer for since then is to print stuff out. I bought a USB printer server adapter to allow printing without a computer. I am pretty sure I will install the printer in my office although I might put it next to the fish tank in the hall, so Kelli doesn't have to come in my office to print.

I am really liking having a 99% wired network. File transfer is faster and the wireless network performance is much faster. Prior to being wired, I had 2 laptops, 3 desktops and 5 cameras all sharing the wireless bandwidth. I now have just two laptops on the wireless network. Things are more secure as well.

Gonna go install one more wall plate in Kelli's office...which I am sure will become the baby room and then take a break.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Success....mostly....well stuff is working

So this morning I drove over to Altex ( to pickup some short network cables and a bracket to mount the patch panel to the wall. I thought I wanted 12 inch cables. Nope. Way too short. A 12 inch cable is from end to end. The ends are about an inch and a half each. I had to get 3 foot cables at twice the price. I bought 6 red, 7 yellow and 4 green 3 foot cables. I then bought 4 grey 1 foot cables for the cameras and to connect the switches. Total? $50. I am using the money from the sale of my headset on eBay to pay for all this stuff. They had no brackets for the patch panel. I found this odd.

Back at home I took the network down. I quickly ran into a snag. Previously I had my own router running the show with the required Uverse router just taking processing request. Well with the new setup I have all the Uverse boxes sharing my network, no longer going over the coaxial cable.  I can't figure out a way to put my router in the mix. I scratched my head....thought...then yanked it out. I reset the Uverse router to take command of the network. Back to wiring.

The red cables are all used for computers on the network. The yellow cables are for the cameras. The green cables are for the Uverse boxes. Everything is hunky dory except I am short one red cable. Overall I am happy. Two of the six jacks in the office only operate at 100 megabits per second and not 1000 megabits per second. No biggie as I only needed 4 gigabit ports anyway. I have 4 of the 6 cameras up and mounted. Two more to go. I am going to zip tie and organize tomorrow...then relax for a bit. Only two wireless devices in the house...our laptops.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The hard part is done...or is it?

So Eric came over Saturday and helped me wire up the house. It took a few hours but we had 13 drops done. I wanted to get the most difficult one's out of the way while he was here. There was no way I could have done it solo. The drops we did were 6 in the office, 2 in the living room, 3 in the bedroom, 1 in the kitchen and 1 more in the the office one a different wall for the TV. Today I dropped 2 more in the spare bedroom along with 2 in the main hallway for cameras. That's a total of 17.

I spent the morning terminating each end with a wall jack and plate. After lunch my patch panel arrived. I had no idea what to do with it. So on line I went. I quickly realized I needed a punch down tool. Off to Radio Shack I went...they don't carry them anymore! WOW! The place where you used to be able to find all kind of basic electronic tools has shifted more toward consumer electronics. Home Depot had one...for $50! Fry's I went. They had a brand name basic tool for $11.

Back at home I punched down the office and then went back and forth figuring out which port was which and labeling them. I did the same for the bedroom. So far they all work...or at least make the hub light up when I plug something into it. I wired up the rest of the cables and figured the hard part was done.

I just gave up making basic network patch cables.  I spent 30 minutes trying to make 1 foot cables....none of them work! I thought this would be the easy part. When I look at the order of the cables...they make sense. When I test them....nothing. I would spend more than $50 if I bought 18 one foot cables. I will try again in the morning.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Back from Chicago. We had a fun, cold time. The plans were to leave on the 6:40 AM flight on Tuesday. Well around 3:45 AM I woke up and decided to check in (Employees using travel benefits can only check in 4 hours prior). The flight had canceled. Suddenly all of the morning flights with plenty of seats were full. I rebooked us on the 6 AM flight. I woke Kelli up as we had to leave at 4:30 AM in order to have time to park, shuttle, security and get in line by the 5:30 AM boarding time. All worked well. We didn't score first class though. We were in the very last row. Kelli had a window seat with no window.

On the ground in Chicago I guided us to the subway and off we went. Now before we left I used the Chicago Transit Authority website to plan the trip. We got off at the stop it stated and then walked the wrong direction for almost 3/4 of a mile. Once we figured out where we were, we turned around and got on the correct bus. This whole time there is blowing snow. We arrive at the hotel and drop our bag off as it's only 10AM. We walk through a few stores to keep warm, stop by a Starbucks and then trek over to the Jerry Springer Show studio. I say trek because the snow was 3-4 inches high on some of the walkways. Waiting in line Kelli and I felt like we were the smartest and hottest people in the world. The extreme majority of Jerry Springer show audience is just as trashy as the guest.




One odd thing about the Jerry Springer can't bring in lighters or cigarettes! Most of the audience smoked and had to "check" their smokes. They got a claim check to get them afterwards.

The show was wild. I thought it was fake. Nope. Lots of really good fights, a little nudity and good ole "wow". Toward the end during the audience question session women have the chance to "earn" beads while asking a question. Lots of women flashed their breast. Many were really gross looking. Kelli and I had fun and had our already positive self esteem boosted even higher.

After the show it was 5:30PM....rush hour. The buses were packed. We climbed on the #3 bus to get to the auto show. The bus was so full and the windows so dirty from snow we could barely see outside. Every bus up to now had a sign and a recording stating the next stop. We had no idea where we were to get off. Thankfully a man saw our confusion and told me when to get off.

The auto show was amazing and huge. Kelli was worn out 1/2 way through and relaxed while I finished up. The bus ride back was easy.

The hotel we stayed at was a trendy Holiday Inn Express which happened to be a block away from where our friends Jason and Jackie live. I trekked down to a really good hot dog place and had a Chicago style hot dog. Funny thing though, people who live in Chicago don't eat Chicago style dogs just like people from Texas don't drink Lone Star beer. Anyways we met Jason for lunch on Wednesday at a very good Indian buffet, Jackie was sick.

Getting back to the airport was much easier. We rode the red line to Jackson station and transferred to the blue line to the airport. The flight I wanted to get on suddenly had 80 standbys. Something canceled. I quickly went over to an open gate and went to work on the computer. I booked us on a flight leaving in 20 minutes to Northwest Arkansas (near Wal-Mart HQ) and then a flight to Dallas. I wasn't going to wait around to see how many of the 80 standbys would get on the later flights to Dallas as they were already full. Being able to see exactly how many seats are open on each flight is sooo nice. We made it home uneventfully. I picked up overtime today. I wanted something like 4-5 hours. I got 3.3. I have two 1/2 hour flights...then sit for 3 hours and have two 1 hour flights. Oh well. It's extra money. I am pretty sure I will be sitting at home the next 3 days. No open flights.

Time to get ready to go to work.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Wiring up the house

So I got a hair up my rear to wire the house for Ethernet. Part of the hair came from my security cameras. For whatever reason the performance has gone down on the wireless ones while the wired ones are fine. I have them on a dedicated wireless network that is 100% separate from my other network. Still has issues. Also the new Uverse cable boxes can run on Ethernet. So I did some online research on cabling and prices. I decided to buy a network kit from for $71. This includes 1000 feet of Cat 5e cable, a crimper (to cut and mold the cable ends), a 100 RJ45 heads (the end of the network cable) and a network cable tester. Not bad at all considering the cable alone is over $100 at Frys. I then bought a 24 port patch panel off of eBay for $15. The patch panel is where all the network cables will come together. From there I will plug the cables into switches. I also bought 25 Cat5e keystone jacks from Deepsurplus along with various wall plates. The keystone jacks at most places are crazy expensive to the tune of $4 a piece! I bought them for $1.45 a piece. I saw 25 for $20 on eBay....but they smelled fishy. I bought various wall plates. Some with 6 ports, some with 4 , a few with just two and enough for each camera that only have 1 port. Everything should be in this week. I will use my downtime to install everything. I still have to buy a drywall saw. I figure do it now in the winter while the attic is still cool and not burning up. This will make the network at home much easier and faster. Can't wait. Right now I have an 8 port gigabit switch. Should be enough.  I have gigabit cards in 3 computers right now.  I will likely up it to 6. Here's to being geeky.

I have had a lot of free time. I went back to work on  Thursday. I flew one trip. Friday and Saturday I was paid a full days pay to just be available on a 2 hour notice. Never got called. Today I thought I would fly. Well I bid wrong and got airport standby. This is my own personal hell. I have to hang around the airport for 8 hours in case they need a pilot in a pinch. This sucks. Sure I have internet and all....but not much to do. I got bored and walked thru 4 of the 5 terminals. Then took the skylink train system the long way around back to the crew lounge. Still have almost 2 hours left. THIS SUCKS!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


So our weight loss trek is going well. We are both dedicated. Kelli had some speed bumps in January, but has been hard core for the last week or so. She has her eye on the prize. I am progressing fine. I am going to go as long as possible in my current pilot uniform before buying new stuff...namely pants.

Blacklights. Good for Halloween and finding dog pee. There is dog pee on just about every corner and the associated carpet in the house. Nice. Not really. Can't see it with our eyes, but flick on the black light and wa la. Really really irks me.

I am going to get paid to sit at home again tomorrow. I was assigned a "Reserve Availability Period" from 4AM till 7PM. I have to be "available" to fly with a 2 hour notice. Pretty easy. I will go to the airport in the morning to get my all access security badge. I need to get out of the house. For the last three days I really haven't gone anywhere. Biggest reason is to save gas burned.

So my next car. Still 7 months away. I am leaning more towards keeping my current car and getting a Prius. WHAT?!?!! Yeah well I am poor. If we have a kid I will be more poor. Why not save as much money as possible? Which way I go depends a lot on interest rates. If new car rates are really low and lease buyout rates are high....Prius. Right now new car rates are in the 5% range while lease buyout rates are 9%! Crazy. I am at 35K miles. I have 10K miles to drive in 7 months.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Windows Home Server

So I installed Windows Home Server 120 day trial. So far...I am wow'd. Prior to today I had to open up various ports on the router to remote desktop in to each computer. At this point I could only control the computers I couldn't actually transfer files. With Windows Home Server now I can transfer files as well. I am already sold. There is so much that can be done with Windows Home Server. I already see the need for more storage. So far I can only figure out how to back up entire drives. I would like to back up just the Files and Settings for each computer. I have 500 Gigabytes of storage....will likely need twice that.