"Awesome!" A Blog.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Maybe I'll get back into web design.

I'm thinking of getting back into web design. It's been a few years, and the kids probably know a few more tricks than I do, but I have one thing they don't: I could not possibly care less about web design.

That's right. You want your logo to spin in a circle and twist itself inside-out for twenty seconds before people can get to your splash page? How about this instead: bgcolor=#CCCCCC. That is "portable across platforms."

You think it would be great to have a Flash movie play in the center of your splash page, and "maybe have a guy do kind of a 'Matrix'-thing?" This is the sound of me stapling a picture of Keanu Reeves to my invoice. I made you a table where border=5.

Actually, I copied the code from somebody else.

You want the navigation buttons to change color when the mouse rolls over them? And maybe make a little "plink" sound? That's called Javascript. I have no idea how it works. I made your buttons out of blue underlined text. The "Contact" one is actually a "mailto" command. On the house, compadre.

Look, I didn't go to college for this. You couldn't, when I was in college. We would spend hours, hunched over our NeXT boxes, trying to figure out why BRs would behave as Ps in certain TDs. We learned nothing and were paid nothing. Excite was still called Architext. I know this because I used to get stoned with one of the founders. I said hi to him at the mall last week and he looked at me like I was crazy.

Hm, a "chat room." Yes, I think that everybody who comes to your model railroad website will want to sit around alone in your chat room. One thing I could also do, though, is design a link to "Yahoo Chat: Small Trains." For the link, I can create little right-arrows using two "greater-than" signs. Or maybe I will use the guillemot right ASCII character. That's a premium character, and rather volatile cross-platform, but breathtaking when executed correctly.

What? You want your website to automatically play a 2kb MIDI of "Oh My Darling Clementine" when it loads, and for the background to be a tiled animated GIF of an American flag? And for the header to be H1 size? Okay, I think I have that template. I may have to "back it up" off of an old hard drive. I charge $150/hr, and I don't have a phone number.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Computer crisis SOLVED!

For the last little while, my computer has been shutting itself down for no reason, often in the middle of booting up. This had me a bit concerned, but I could usually manage to get the machine up and running after a few restarts, so I figured that was an acceptable level of service. I'd built the thing myself, after all. Then finally today the machine wouldn't beep and whir for more than a few seconds after I hit the "on" button. It'd just go "HRRRrrrrrr" and die. It's hard to pop a CD into the drive and back everything up when the computer is acting this way.

Thoroughly agitated, I sat and considered the thing from the business end of a Campari and soda. It seemed to me that the variable nature of the timing of the crashes meant it wasn't one of those nasty spy-ware programs that you get when you go to the bikini websites. No, this was further down in the guts of the thing. I unplugged 568 USB devices from the CPU, plopped it on the desk, and took a good, long look inside. Easy to do, since I never bother putting the sidewalls on my machines.

No microchips were dangling loose, so I wiggled the "RAM" card. Hard to wiggle. Definitely "seated" correctly. Hm. Maybe step back and try to get a vibe from the whole.

The insides were coated in a fine dust, sort of like a small computery moon, so I went to get one of those cans of compressed air that people are always using to blow hand-dander out of their keyboards. I gave the motherboard what-for and it spruced up nicely.

Then, between the blades of the fan that sits over the processor, I saw something amiss. It looked as though James Bond Rat had been tricked by his nemesis into falling on the thing, and the subsequent carnage had covered the processor's heat sink with a thick, felty layer of gray must. About enough to make a new Homburg, if I remember correctly.

"That's not right," I reasoned. "That thing should be a gleaming set of aluminum spikes."

"Also," I continued, "if it is covered in a thick, insulating layer of gray botrytis, the thermal dissipation task of the heat sink may be significantly hampered."

I thought back to a time in my life—a simpler time—when, in a hot room, a computer had repeatedly shut itself down. I knew what I had to do.

I steadied my grip on the compressed air and took aim at the heat sink. The next five seconds seemed to last an eternity.

Later that afternoon, after we had opened all the windows and doors, wiped our faces of dust, and sedated the dog, I plugged the computer back in and booted it up. It zipped through its little startup routine in record time. Adobe Illustrator, which had been taking upwards of six and a half hours to launch, popped open in seconds. I even ventured to burn a CD. Flawless.

I sit here now with that incredible feeling of having overcome a computer problem. It's invigorating, and empowering. Maybe I'll hook the digital video camera up and try to see if Microsoft has any native video editing software. Maybe I'll type up some of my favorite recipes. Maybe I'll use a WYSIWYG editor to make a web page, only to delete it because I don't need it.

Computers, you once had me scared. You had me angry. You knew you could hurt me. But now, I have a new thing. A message I can relate to the world. A message of cleaning you off. A message that there probably isn't spy-ware on your funny-acting machine. Spy-ware is probably just a fake idea created by software companies, to keep the canned air companies down. I can live in that world, now that I know the truth. I can find my way in this war zone that man has created.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

My Cell Phone Died!

Can you believe it. Can you JUST believe it. I pay like a hundred bucks for the thing not three years ago, and last Friday it just craps up and dies! Sure, I may have been the last guy on earth using a phone with a monochromatic screen and the inability to play "Perphect House Daddy — Tha Killa Protein Moleculezz" MP3 clips when my "badass Mom" is calling, but it worked fine and it had all my numbers stored in it. I had even used the little melody composer to compose a custom ring that sounded, to me, like a crazy bumblebee who thought he was an electron-hummingbird (a hummingbird that disappears from one spot and reappears in another without any perceptible passage of time). Now that is all lost!

I had left the unit in the car overnight, and when I went to fetch it the next morning I noticed the battery had died. A few seconds after plugging it into its charger, it blipped into life and the screen said, "SYSTEM FAILURE - CONTACT SERVICE PROVIDER." It also said "SOS" above one of the multipurpose menu keys, so I pressed "SOS," figuring it would send a distress-type call to my service provider, who would then happily explain that I needed to stick a paperclip into a particular nook or cranny in order to rejuvenate the thing.

ME: Oh, I guess I should press on the "SOS" button. That's what the phone seems to want.

ME: [presses on "SOS" button, waits, thinks, "Oh, I should do this later. I'm about to go on vacation." Hangs up on "SOS."]

ME: Honey, did we get the dog medicine? Are we ready to go?

WIFE: I need to write back to a couple people. Can you hang on a minute?

ME: [sensing chance to call "SOS" and straighten everything out] Oh, no problem! Great.

ME: [Calls "SOS" again]

SOS: This is 9-1-1. What is your emergency?

ME: Oh, my cell phone must be broken. It said to call "SOS" and had this button, but it connected me to you.

WIFE: You idiot! When cell phones crash, they're required to still be able to call 911. That's what SOS is.

ME: No, "SOS" is an international distress signal made famous by ships.

SOS: Thank you. [hangs up]

WIFE: Nice going.

ME: I did what the phone said. You want to yell at somebody, yell at my phone.

WIFE: I'm not going to yell at your phone.


WIFE: [leaves]

ME: Oh well, I'll call my brother who used to sell cell phones. He'll tell me what to do.

ME: Oh wait, I can't. [Looks out window] Hey, there's a police car blocking our driveway! Those guys think they can park anywhere. What if he's still there when we try to go on vacation? I'll need to—

DOG: chris i am dying

Long story short, I swapped my phone's "SIM" card (?) into an even older, crappier unit that we had found in a vodka screwdriver the day after my 30th birthday party, so if you call me and all you can hear are gummy staticky sounds, that is what it's like to talk to a dead cocktail.