The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Recent happenings

Posted By on January 24, 2008

This kind of gives you a clue as to how much of a jumble my life is right now.. just lots if things going in different directions. Not bad, just.. interesting.

(1) I’ve started hacking together a record sheet generator for Dirtside 2. I’m doing it in C#, using the Mono framework. For starters, it is going to be just a command-line app. Eventually, it will have a GUI on it and do proper creation and saving, plus will allow you to keep a “rolodex” of units, print multiple ones (the 3×5 cards fit 4 on a page, so only printing one per page is a waste). This is kind of like the BattleCAD project, except that was a very complex project where I feel that I overreached my time and ability. I should have done a sheet generator and worked backwards to a full-fledged design app. The concepts I am using in the Dirtside 2 app can be reused in the BattleCAD app.. But… There is a bug in Mono’s System.Drawing implementation, so I’m hacking on their libgdiplus library. Specifically, the SetResolution function is supposed to set the DPI of a bitmap on which you are working – which it does. Problem is, when you save it out, the save function ignores the resolution, using the screen resolution (in the case of bitmap) or not even bothering at all (in the case of JPEG). So, I’m going to write a patch and commit it back. I also notice an issue with the MeasureString function (measures the length of a rendered string) not working the same as it does on Windows. I’d post a sample, except I want to secure permission from Ground Zero Games to use their copyrighted record sheet design first. In theory, it could be called fair use, but I like to ask. Most game companies are not mean about it, and grant you permission (especially since it affirms their copyright and makes them look good) (2) My desktop (okay, it’s in a rack, but still) had been making a “bearing grinding noise of DOOM!”. I couldn’t tell if it was a fan or a hard disk. I periodically would check the status of the hard disks using smartctl, but they all reported being fine.. However, opening up the case and trying to find the noise didn’t help. After a couple of months of the noise, it changed – it started to sound like the fan was sticking. Since this is a nice, fancy motherboard, the onboard sensors (temperature, fan rotation frequency, etc) are all there, so I was watching them – and I see CPU1 fan drop to 0 RPM, then start up again. Bingo! It’s the 5 year old CPU fans. Oh.. Wait… it’s the CPU fan… Crap. I jump on Tigerdirect and order a pair of massive ThermalTake TR2 M3 heat sinks and fans (80mm fans, of which I have many spares, not these random goofy size fans which I don’t have any more of) for $10 per, plus some thermal paste (you can never have too much on hand!). Of course, overnight shipping is going to be like $50, and I hate $50 shipping on $20 of parts, so I threw a 1GB stick of RAM for my laptop on the order too. (My laptop is now zippy.. yayyy!) By way of test, I unplugged the CPU fans from the desktop, just to see what would happen. It took about 15 minutes of regular usage to hit 87C (max external CPU temp is listed at 90C for this CPU). Normally, it runs at about 79C. So, I shut it back off, plugged the stuff back in, and worked with it for the rest of the day. Turned it off at the end of the day, started it up the next morning, and then at about 11AM, the fan stuck and seized. I transitioned to my laptop (not set up to use the big monitor, so it gets a little goofy and annoys me). Then the brown truck of happiness showed up, so I pulled the machine from the rack, changed out the heatsinks, and was back up again. The new fans took a little bit of jiggling to get in the case (I had to unmount the case fans to have enough room to work, and had to remove the fan from one of the heatsinks, put the case fan back, then put the heatink fan back on. The new fans are quieter (about 1500 RPM slower), and keep the CPU’s about 3C cooler. Stuff I learned or need to do: – I need to get my laptop to work with an external monitor. I think I need another line for that monitor’s resolution in my Xorg.conf. – sensors.conf has a minimum value for fans, which seems to default to 3000 RPM (it was never explicitly set). Since these fans spin more slowly than that, it would display 0. There is also a dividing factor applied to the rotary encoder in order to determine the correct speed. For large fans like the 80mm fans, that factor is 4. – onboard sensors are cool. – lm-sensors can do so much more than I have it set up to do. (3) I learned about Fire Police (directing traffic, road flares, etc.) at our fire dept drill yesterday. It was interesting. I’m taking a basic fire class at the end of Feb. This does not make me a firefighter (that’s about 100 hours of classes), but it is a basic grounding type thing. Remember – learning things isn’t bad. One of the firemen wants to hack his Linksys router, so we’ll have some fun with that. (4) Tonight, I went to the library, because the League of Women Voters was hosting a talk given by Robyn Ringler on gun control issues. This deserves its own entry, but I’m not going to do that one tonight. In short, I figured I’d be the only pro-freedom guy there, but as it turns out, there were about half a dozen of us. I tried to wrangle up some folks, but there were no takers. I’m glad I went, to waive the flag, so to speak. It was good that I went. (5) The paperwork for my new 1911 came through, but I can’t pick it up on Saturday, because the gun store is closed because they’re at the Albany gun show. I can’t grab it on Wednesday, because it’s fire department night, so it will be next Saturday before I get to grab it. (The gun shop is only open Saturdays and Wednesdays). (6) But, as I mentioned above, there is a gun show this weekend! (7) After the gun show is the firemen’s banquet. I kind of felt odd about it, being a new applicant and not actually even a firefighter already, but two weeks ago, the Chief pulled me aside and said “hey, you know you can come to the banquet, right”, and when I said that I wasn’t sure, he basically said “just come, and bring your wife”. So, last week, I sign up. Then, this week, at least three people asked me “you’re coming to the banquet, right?” I guess that pretty much settles it. Folks want us to come, we’ll put in an appearance. (8) On this past Saturday, my father in law and I checked out Hart’s Trading Post, which is a local store which deals in a lot of Cowboy Action Shooting stuff. If you’re ever in the market for a Single Action Army, check out the ones made by EMF. They’re about $200 more than Uberti guns, but the lockwork is much nicer. I also grabbed some 230GR Lead Round Nose bullets in .452 diameter, so they’re suitable for my .45 Colt and .45 ACP loads, plus some IMR Trail Boss and Federal Primers. This place is probably the best local reloading source. They don’t have a huge variety, but they at least have some, which is better than most gun shops here. I also got a line on a decent range where they shoot SASS. I was going to attend their meeting this past Monday. Problem is, it’s outdoor only, and it’s friggin COLD out there.. I think it was about 10F, and I decided to not go. So, I figure I’ll hit it up next month or so. (9) I’m headed to Cold Wars at the beginning of March. (10) Seed order came in. We ordered corn, peas, popcorn, radishes, and some other stuff. We’ll be buying started plants from a local greenhouse (they’re cheap – like $3 for half a dozen already started plants, and they’re good quality). Next year, we’re going to set up racks and lights and start the plants ourselves.. but not this year. (11) I’ve been doing a bit of drywall work – patching holes where the old light fixture was bigger than the new light fixture, etc. (12) I got a crapload of shelving for my office that I need to put up. (13) I got some 2 part epoxy floor paint stuff for my gun room (so any oil I spill doesn’t soak in, etc.), so I get to do that… (14) This past weekend, Liz and I made 10lbs of Sweet Italian Sausage (doe, cut with pork fat). (15) This coming weekend, we’re probably going to be making some more breakfast sausage (likely a mix of antelope, elk and pork) I think that’s about it for now. There’s probably more which I haven’t remembered, but it’s late and I need to get some sleep.

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