The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Crash kits

| December 23, 2009

So, about a year ago fearsclave posted about crash kits. Being that it’s getting to the snowy time of year, I figured it was time that I review mine.

Now, I should probably mention that I don’t tend to go off main roads when going to work. State highways, populated, with traffic. So, it’s unlikely that I’d really get into serious trouble for a period of time. Even in worst weather, I don’t think it would take more than an hour for someone to help or to get somewhere.

Thus, my loadout consists of:

  1. First aid kit
  2. Collapsible shovel
  3. Fire Extinguisher
  4. Small set of hand tools (screwdriver, socket set, etc.)
  5. DC powered compressor
  6. 50lb bag of sand
  7. A thick blanket
  8. A flashlight
  9. All the other associated stuff (spare tire, tire iron, jack, etc.)

So, think about what you need, where you go, and be prepared.

Gaming table badassery.

| December 18, 2009

So, we’re planning out the basement theater/den/rumpus room/cozy area, and we’ve got a lot of it figured out.

  • TV goes on this wall
  • That determines speaker and seating placement
  • We’d like to have the kegerator over there
  • Popcorn machine goes there.
  • That leaves this big empty space… what goes there?

Enter, GeekChic, and their Spartan gaming table. Bar height, perfect for the spot, just needs some stools with backs and we’re good.

Now, I should mention that they don’t yet have it on the website, but I heard about it in an interview on All Games Considered, so I emailed them. A very nice woman named Brenda sent me information on it (and her email is enabler@ – how cool is that?) including some pictures, which are included below. I am reposting with their permission.

The real nice thing about it, in addition to the under-table storage (I’ll likely go with proper doors. While I like Shoji screens, I don’t think they’re survive kitties), the recessed play surface can have terrain and bits on it, and then I can put in the leaves to cover it up and present a smooth surface. Kitty proof and out of sight. The main compelling feature for me is having a safe place to leave terrain set up.

Hard disks… of DOOM

| December 18, 2009

Well, I won’t be buying any Western Digital drives again anytime soon.

After many years of exclusively buying Seagate drives, I convinced myself that all current hard disk manufacturers are basically of the same quality. Therefore, I should be shopping on specs and price, not brand.

As such, I bought a 1TB Western Digital drive.

It didn’t last a week. It didn’t even get into service. I ran badblocks on it, and it didn’t even make it through that before the servo blew and it couldn’t move the heads anymore.

I looked up their RMA support, found that they had a “ship me a replacement and we’ll hold your credit card until we get yours back”.

Fine and dandy.

Fill out the forms, get the drive, package mine up… no shipping label. WTF?

Contact their RMA service – apparently I’m on the hook for the shipping back to them.

So, Western Digital’s customer service sucks, and I won’t be buying from them anymore.

(Note that I can’t comment on Seagate’s customer service, because all of the drives of theirs which I’ve had have at least lasted until the warranty period expired).