April 6, 2002

The results of the web analysis are quite interesting. First of all, our email server is very popular. The web interface alone is getting hit as many as 980 times a day! Considering that most of our biggest users are connecting using the IMAP4 or POP3 interface, that is pretty astounding. Many of those hits are script kiddies (wanna be hackers who use real hackers code to attack sites) attacking our site attempting to gain access to our server. SGL is about as popular as I had expected. Its most popular day in the last two months came after eleven days of no updates ending on March 20th with a large update. On that day, 78 people looked at the site. As far as sites go, that isn’t all that big, but it is awfully encouraging to think that all those people were waiting for a llama update.

Flag of BelgiumAnne has taken over as the second most popular feature on the site. It would appear that about 1/4 of our readership goes directly to her Bio page to get the latest on her life abroad. So, kudos to Anne for being such a huge draw on our humble site.

Joe was very excited about being named our Llama of the Month. I moved all of March’s updates over to the archive page since April has already been such a busy month.

I was hunting around online this morning and discovered a web site that explained what needed to be done so that The Sims would run on Windows 2000 Professional (our loyal readers will remember all of the effort and expense that was gone through to make it work on Linux at Christmas). So, I told Dominica and she was really excited because the Linux version does not allow you to download extra skins and objects from the Maxis website (because they don’t recognize you as a Sims user) or to install the expansion packs (which is pretty silly because they are losing all kinds of money – the expansion packs are $30 each.) We went to Electronics Boutique in Pyramid Mall and picked up the Sims to give it a try first thing. It was late in the day so we only had enough time to get it installed. The Sims works beautifully on Windows 2000 (at least with the latest software updates from Microsoft,) I have no idea why Maxis does not support it on that platform. Not only does it work – but because (we assume) of support for the Creative EAX Environmental Effects, the sound and music is really phenominal – the best that I have ever heard in a video game. The surround effects are great. We immediately downloaded all of the optional skins and objects and tried them out. Already the game is a bit more interesting. We are very excited because tomorrow we are going to get the expansion packs (House Party, Living Large, Hot Date and the new Vacation.) House Party is, we think, mostly a bunch of additional music, skins and simple things designed to flush out the original game a little bit and add some basic features that weren’t finished. It mostly adds to social interactions. Living Large, we are guessing, is the most important add on adding significant functionality to the game – they claim that it doubles the game. Hot Date adds tons of social interaction capabilities as well as a way to create a “downtown” area where your Sims can go outside of the home. In the original game and the first two expansion packs, there was no way for your Sim to do anything outside or the house. They would go to work and return home but you could only interact with them while they were home. Lots of romantic situations are added. Vacation is brand new – this week I think – and seems to be the least interesting of the expansion packs (but we will see, won’t we) giving your Sims somewhere to go on vacation. Not much new functionality, though.

While we were at EB, Loopy managed to find a used copy of Empire Earth for $20. Eric will be SO jealous. I think that I won’t tell him and let him just read it here first. Eric, if you are reading this, go to the mall and look at EB for a used copy of EE. Another one is bound to show up sometime. EE is destined to become the next big multi-player game of the Llama House. Age of Empires 2 has been so good for so long, it is almost time to move on to bigger and better games. We have played a little EE and it is really incredible. We have all been kind of holding off on really getting into it while we have waited for our new computers to arrive. But I think that everyone is getting pretty anxious to play it. Eric loved it when he tried it out. Loopy has been dying to play it. Min and I have had it since Christmas (we have each other a copy for Christmas) but have had little time to play it. Min has played the Sims mostly and I have been too busy to play anything except for the occasional game of AoE2.

There was a little snow falling today. This is three days in a row that there has been a little bit of snow here in Central NY. Min is getting upset because the more that it snows, the longer it is going to take me to get my car out of storage. I need to get moving on that, we are running out of cars.

Loopy is headed north today to North Bay. He is going to visit Miranda and to take her to her prom (I guess they call it a “formal” or something. Loopy sent me to get his suit drycleaned the other day.

It is going to be a busy weekend in the Llama House. My aunt, uncle and two cousins are coming here on Saturday to see the house and to pick up that computer. Nate and Bob have some friends coming to visit us from Buffalo that, I guess, are spending the weekend. Josh mentioned something about coming down this way as well. But I don’t think that he is. Dominica took Monday and Tuesday off from work. Perfect timing since she will be able to play the Sims for four straight days now!

Loopy and I have been revisiting the computers that we are building. I know that I have been talking about this for a while, but we are really doing it. I am waiting for April 22 to roll around because SuSE is releasing version 8.0 of their operating system and that is the one that I want to use so I am waiting until then to buy the components to make sure that I am getting all of the latest technologies and prices. Loopy is sticking with the Soyo Dragon+ based system while I am going to move to the more experimental KT333 system from Soltek. The memory is a little faster but a lot more expensive. My total price from start to finish is going to be $1345 not including any CD or DVD drives. I will deal with getting those later. I have spares that I can make do with for now. You can always pick up something for $20 or so if you need to. $310 of that price is the sound system which replaces the built in sound card and adds a fully Digital 5.1 surround speaker system. So you can do without spending that money easily. I have put together a list of components that you can use to make the same system as me (as of right now) or to make a more moderate system. The moderate system came in at $550 for everything not including the CD or DVD drive. But again, take one from an old computer, bum one off a friend, etc.

Component Scott's System Price Moderate System Price
Speakers Creative Inspire 5700 $230 None $0
Sound Creative Audigy X-Gamer $80 Built In $0
Graphics PNY GeForce4 Ti4400 $250 GeForce4 MX420 $90
Case Antech $100 Antech $60
MainBoard Soltek KT333 $125 Giga-byte KT333 $90
Processor AMD Athlon XP 1900+ $160 AMD Athlon XP 1800+ $130
Memory 512MB 333MHz Corsair $220 256MB 333MHz Kingston $82
Hard Drives 2x Maxtor 40GB 133 $180 1x Maxtor 40GB 133 $90

Total $1345 $550

So, as you can see. It isn’t very expensive to put together an awfully nice system. There is even more money to be saved if you cut out some of the expandability features of the moderate system here. For example, the Athlon XP 1700+ processor on a KT266A mainboard will be almost as fast as this one and save you an additional $50 if you shop around. If you don’t need a 3D accelerator card then you can save another $60 or more on that card. Memory on a less expensive board is less as well, maybe as much as $70 less. These cost savings will slow down your machine but as long as you get a quality board of a KT266A or KT333 chipset, then you have almost unlimited possibilities for enhancements when you decide to spend the money.

While researching stuff online, I discovered that RIT in Rochester allows students to enter their grad programs without first obtaining an undergraduate degree. So, Loopy and I are looking into their Master’s programs in Information Technology. Loopy wants to get a degree in video game programming from there to jump start his career.

I almost forgot about our web site of the day. Nate is familiar with this one. Check out all the different kinds of cheeses at www.CHEESE.com. Nate and I have tried to get email address here for years and it never worked. I think that this site was abandoned three years ago and no one has bothered to take it down yet. But it is still here provided much needed information about cheese.

April 5, 2002

Another day, another update. It will be hard to keep today as interesting as yesterday was. We added a bit of content yesterday. We also submitted SGL to the Google search engine. Hopefully we will get indexed this time. We don’t come up on a search there right now. Maybe in a week or so.

I forgot to mention in all the excitement the other day that while the guys where in NYC (Nate, Zach and Bob) that they managed to go out to Coyote Ugly. And they say that it really is just like the movie. They were watching the movie again the other night as well.

In sad news that I forgot to mention… My brass monkey has finally died. He was hanging out in my bathroom by the sink when he got knocked over and crashed into the procellain sink. He was laid to rest this morning. He will be missed by all.

I guess that I should give a hydroponics updates as well. Eric will be happy about that. The basil plant, “Basil” we will call him, has been growing in my bathroom since early November, 2001 and he is still alive and doing fine. I trimmed him today, changed his water giving him a thorough cleaning, misted him and fed him. I also added some of the trellis supports that came with the kit so he is standing up a bit more now. He is looking pretty good. The whole system is pretty simple. A bucket of water that is full of a salt substance that the plant uses as food and a fish tank airation system to keep the water fresh and moving and to keep air on the roots. Not very complicated but I am surprised that I have managed to keep Basil doing as well as he has been since I am so bad at taking care of him. He also gets very little sunlight where he is and the room is often cold which makes it that much harder for him. The funniest thing is that this basil plant has grown from an already picked basil plant that I bought at Wegman’s that they were selling for food. Not to grow. So, I am going to deem the experiment a success.

With the expected arrival of my new computer (very, very soon, I hope) I have decomissioned by Linux machine that has had the prominent place on my desk for quite some time now. Parts were taken from it recently to bolster my Win2K machine and the last information is being recorded from it now so that it can be dismantled. The time comes in the life of every computer when it can no longer be used in service. But it is always a sad day. Zoe will be missed by us all. It is my hope that the processor from Zoe will have the opportunty to live on as one of two Pentium III 600s that I want to install into our database server in Washington. Zoe, in some form, may have the opportunity to see service for some time to come if she is lucky. Her hard drive will be able to continue service (as it is an IBM UltraATA100 80GB drive) in my new computer as one of three drives. My cousing Sara is going to be receiving this new machine so that she can start working on Web and 3D graphics design. I put a bit of time into rebuilding this machine today. It is nice to know that Zoe won’t fade into memory just yet.

One of the most exciting things today is a new web log analyzer that we are trying out. As soon as we have some numbers, I will let you see them. I think that it will be really interesting to see who is coming to our little web site here. Our web logs are not the most complete ones out there. They are pretty basic – but some basic data is quite interesting. We could get more complete date if we paid for more expensive web analysis software, but what is the point in that? I did find the bad link to Osama.html that apparently has been broken for a very long time and no one has mentioned to me. Maybe no one goes and reads our funny stuff section:( It would be very sad if I posted all of those funny things and nobody ever read them.

Today’s web site of the day is going to be Changing-Faces.net. This one requires a Java enabled browser to really see. If it works on your browser, you will get a cute little doodling application to play with. Again, this site is thanks to Loopy.

April 4, 2002

Ok, I found another missing Horizontal Rule. At least I am keeping the site up to date. No one can complain about that. It takes a lot of work to keep a site like this current you know! I added two new buttons over on the right. As usual, it will take a while for the new images to propogate through the system. I just wanted to make some quick and easy links to some of the places that I know our readers are going to all of the time. I also added some spacing between the buttons. See if we like that any better. I think that it looks a little bit nicer this way. I also added “alt” properties to all of the img tags on this page for compliance reasons. You might notice them here and there when picutes take a long time to load.

I realized recently that the style of my ramblings on here seems (to me at least) to be similar to Lisa Astor’s bizarre commentary on Audiophile life, Astor Place in Stereophile Magazine. If you like this site, you will love her articles. But you have to understand Audiophiles for the articles to really make sense. I think that her writing is totally hilarious. I get Stereophile just to read her articles. I cut them out of every issue and keep them in my filing cabinet.

For those of you interested in getting all of the functionality of Microsoft Office but don’t want to pay the outragous sticker fee, you should be looking into OpenOffice 1.0 which is about to release. OpenOffice is the latest incarnation of SUN’s StarOffice which has been competing with MS Office since around 1985 in Europe. OpenOffice has recently released its final release candidate for version 1.0. I have now installed this software three times and am using it myself. I think that a lot of people are going to be very happy with this software, it is a real quality product and it is completely free. The download is only about 47MB so it isn’t all that bad. It isn’t perfect and using it on Windows NT systems (NT, 2K and XP) requires a little finessing but once you have it installed, it seems to be working like a champ. And some of those bugs may be fixed by the time it goes to its official release.

Ok, so Joe reads the site so often that he emailed me within two hours of the last update to say that we should bring back the Llama of the Month award. So, here we go…


I will try to get a Llama of the Month page put together to list each of the monthly Llamas. I am going to need lots of people to start sending in stuff to help out with the site to earn their own Llama of the Month awards. Ok, I guess the page is ready before I was even planning it. It isn’t much yet but at least it is there. Today has been a busy day in the Land of the Llamas. Updates all over the place on the page. The Lifestyle Button has been added. This button links to the website of the rental company (Lifestyle Properties) that rents us the Llama House. Not only does this page have a picture of one of the houses next to us on it, but it also is a page designed by our very own Loopy.

It looks like Eric and I are going to get a chance to fly into New Orleans when we travel down to Hattiesburg, MS because that is the nearest large airport. So, we are excited about that since neither of us has ever been to Louisianna at all. That will be very interesting. We are quite excited. We will, most likely, even get a chance to spend a night there before driving up to Hattiesburg.

I have remember to have another site of the day. This one comes to us courtesy of Loopy. Check out www.sneeze.com. I will do my best to keep this feature coming in the future.

Well, I tried to space out the menu a little bit but an error displaying it in Mozilla / Netscape keeps it from working correctly. Back to the drawing board, I guess.

April 3, 2002

I am doing my best to keep these updates coming as often as possible. It takes a lot of work to write so much content for a site like this you know. Take a look at the 2001 Archive page and see how much there is in there. It is out of control. And we didn’t start until part way through the year and I missed huge amounts of time too.

Technical Note: For those of you using browsers like Mozilla, Netscape 6, Internet Explorer or Opera (which constitutes just about all of you – you can’t hide from me because I can read the logs,) you can use the F5 key to force a refresh of a web page. Which means if, for example, you go to Anne’s Bio page and don’t see her latest Bio entry listed but you know that it should be up, try pressing F5 and see if it appears. Web pages get cached on you computer or sometimes on a proxy server to speed up performance but sometimes this can cause you to be looking at old content. Just something to keep in mind.

It is so nice to have the economy picking back up. I think that those of us who work in IT may be some of the first to see things really turning around. In January, I was lucky if I got called once that entire month with someone interested in hiring me. Now, I am on the phone and email everyday with three or four different people talking about jobs here or there. It is quite a relief knowing that you are in demand again. Loopy has definitely noticed since he is now back at work again. I am expecting to be doing a contract at least once this month if not more.

Today is the first day that I have managed to be able to download a copy of the new OpenOffice final release candidate to try out. OpenOffice is replacing StarOffice as SUN’s free competition to Microsoft Office. I have now installed OO twice and so far it is pretty nice. As soon as it is available in final release, I will have a link available so that you can download it as well. OO is well worth the download… MS Office XP compatability and cross platform support for free! Works for me. The download is only 50MB so it isn’t all that bad. The new version runs faster but has a few less features than the old SO 5.2. But some of those features, like a built in web browser and an integrated desktop were more annoying than useful and just made for a larger and slower download and slower load times. This new office should be a bit more responsive.

Eric and I headed up to Newark this morning for a meeting with the VIA Health System of Wayne County. That was very exciting. We had an effective day, though, and are going to be flying down to Hattiesburg, Mississippi coming up in a few weeks. That should be fun. Neither of us have ever been to Mississippi. We will take the opportunity to come back through Washington, DC and pick up my Buick.

My main computer, the one that I am using now, runs Windows 2000 Pro and has slowly been degrading over the last year or so since it has been running. Windows 2000 eventually slows down too much and you have to reinstall it to make everything work again. So, last night I cleaned out the inside of my computer, blew out the dust that has collected, added new memory (I now have 512MB in this machine) and switched from a PCI VooDoo4 to a GeForce2 MX400 (Loopy’s old one – he upgraded to a GeForce4 Ti4400 two days ago.) Then I reinstalled Win2K. It only took three hours or so and the computer is back up and running better than ever now. I am so glad that I have the computer set up in such a way that I am able to easily reinstall because it can end up being quite an ordeal if you don’t have everything ready to do it. It only took me 30 minutes of so to get ready ahead of time. Most of that time was just double checking things to be sure that I wouldn’t lose anything that I needed.

Since I upgraded my computer, I also switched to the newest version of HTML-Kit and am now using Build 292 Beta. I also just noticed that I had left out some of the Horizontal Rules that go on the page. I wish somebody would mention these things. I know that you are all out there looking at the site. Actually, Bob and Nate actually read the site today which is pretty unusual.

Not much real news today. Nothing exciting happening here. Somebody email me or something! Speaking of emailing me, I need people to email me with ideas about what we should be adding to the site. We need more cool stuff for people to come and check out but I do not know what needs to be added. I am open to suggestions.

April 2, 2002

So Nate doesn’t have any insurance (beyond liability) on his crispy car so that totally sucks. It is kind of annoying having a house of five people and only three cars. It wouldn’t have been so bad if Loopy hadn’t just started working at Cornell so his car isn’t even here anymore.

Flag of BelgiumAnne is trying to keep up with me! Update number fourteen is now available in her Bio section.

Canadian FlagIn Canadian news, Loopy is heading to North Bay this coming Friday and spending the weekend up there in the frozen north country. Also (I mention this because I know that none of you ever reads the news) the Queen Mother has died.

For the first time, really, Loopy and I used the web site to look up events from a year ago so that we could tell how long it has been. It is really handy having your life written down on a web site so that people can look up when things happened to you.

Dominica has an interview today. She hasn’t decided yet exactly what she is going to be doing. She wants to go back to grad school (She has a BSc in Biology and so might go for a BSc in Chemistry before going on for a MS in BioChem) but she needs to work and pay for school as well so she is undecided as to how she wants to do it. She has already put in notice at her old job (one month’s notice – not two weeks) and so she is stuck with figuring out something right away. Maybe she will end up working in a hotel just like Loopy, Phil and I used to do. Actually, speaking of which, Phil is back in the hotel business again working at the Hampton Inn in Rochester – right across the street from the old Wellesley Inn where Loopy and I worked circa 1999 (May 1998 – February 2000 for me. July 1998? – February 2000 for Loopy.) What a great job that was. Low stress. Free food (donuts.) Overnight shift. That is where I had a chance to first get certified and get working in my field. I had done some low level work in IT in 1994 & 1995 but needed to do something to get to where I really wanted to be. While I was at the Wellesley, I managed to get my Microsoft Engineering Cert (MCSE, MCP+I and MCP) as well as a semi-cert from Novell and two certs from CompTIA (A+ and Network+.) In January & February 2000, after I knew I was leaving and we finally had an internet connection in the office at the hotel, I also did some Brainbench testing and got seven or eight BCP certs as well. It was while I was at the Wellesley in 1999 (the same year that I wasn’t able to drive because I had lost my drivers license) that I had the opportunity to interview at a million different places and I got a lot of the interviewing experience that I have now. It was also during this time that I met John Nicklin and that led to Loopy and I helping start the Waste Watcher project. What a lot happened that year. Loopy and I ran our own small consulting business during 1999 as well. Miller – West Consulting it was called. It is hard to believe that we have come so far.

March 30, 2002

Happy Easter! Today was an exciting day for Nate. Nate, Bob and Zach drove down to NYC over the last weekend as I had mentioned, and on their way back this afternoon, Nate’s car started smoking and then caught fire. Everyone is ok but the car is completely burned. We will bring you pictures of the wreak as soon as I am able to get the Polaroids back from Nate. He had the tow truck driver take some pictures before they took the car away. So now, with my car STILL stuck in DC and Nate’s burnt to a crisp, we are short two cars. Tim had to drive from Syracuse down to Liberty, NY to pick the guys up and bring them home.