Computer Alive

Careful work (and many $$) pay off. I replaced the system board AND power supply following the instructions on the Dell website. They are actually pretty good. But not nearly detailed enough. Plus there are many wrinkles that you can run into. Replacing the Dell system board is not for the faint of heart.

Given an hour for a Dell web wizard diagnosis (that may or may not be correct, it was not specific as to which FRU needed replaced), 2 hours for an erroneous chat diagnosis, and 2 hours for a final diagnosis, 48 hours for next day air, 3 hours for replacing the system board and power supply, an hour for Ubuntu memory testing (probably not required but the memory (not all Dell) was suspect before) and filesystem checking, and another half-hour for getting Windows 2000 to plug-and-play, it might be a good reason to buy the extended support.

Dead Computer

My Dell Dimension 8100 is dead or perhaps only mostly dead. I will see later this week if $400 of parts will revive it. After two wizard sessions that were inconclusive, two chat conversations with two technicians , the diagnosis is now the power supply AND the motherboard are both bad. The initial diagnosis was the disk drive was bad. I had one in another Dell System so I tried that one and the symptoms were the same. I am glad that I did not go out and buy one. The parts are ordered and should be arriving by Thursday.

The dead computer is especially annoying because I was planning on using some of my vacation time to try out the latest version of X3NavalD, a drawing program for small boats that you can get a copy of from Sourceforge. It is simple and perhaps a little bit hard to use. I need to try to use it to see if I can improve its usability. Presently you need a large screen and a slow mouse as the slightest false move can change a buildable boat into one that is impossible. The other slight problem is that the labels are presently in French but the author is working on that.

A Typical Work Day

Starts with lots of e-mail. Much of it SPAM, even with the filters. Makes you want to have the option to “Nuke Originator” which we all know may have nothing to do with the sender.

Next is the Problem Meeting. I attend this meeting mostly in self-defense. Occasionally, someone will try to blame the mainframe for something delayed. Even more rarely, the mainframe has a problem that we tech people have not heard about. So we can at least get a start on fixing it. If business folks would just appreciate that very often they get what the pay for (and pay for what they don’t), life for everyone would be smoother.
My former employer sold an acquisition. I will need to separate the common performance and service level reporting. This needs to be completed by July first. I think I know what needs to be done. I started on it yesterday for the things that were end-of-period. The spin-off company will return to monthly reporting so that should muck up the simplicity of every week has 7 days and every period (mostly) has 4 weeks. Keep those mental gears turning.
One of the guys is teaching a course in REXX. This probably means nothing to the kids in school today. It is actually an ok language with a lot of the features that you find in Ruby and such but a bit cruder. It is not nearly as terse as C or Perl and hence easier to work with. Lots of built-in functions. The problem with built-in functions is that you need to know about them. Otherwise, you end up reinventing the UPPER option when you just needed to know the correct option of the DATE() function. A learning experience.