December 20, 2008: Laptop Memory Fun

This is the very first Saturday morning since Liesl was born that I did not have to work.  In fact, I ended up making it the entire day without being paged out as well.  It’s amazing.

We all slept in incredibly late this morning.  It was a good chance to really catch up on some sleep.  We need it around here, especially Dominica and Oreo who are the most sensitive to losing sleep.

Early this afternoon my large shipment of electronics arrived that I had ordered on Thursday night.  Fed Ex had said that it was going to arrive on Monday but I am expecting that they were rushing to get things delivered to allow more flexibility for the Christmas load.  It worked out great for us as I really wanted a chance to get taht equipment installed before we left for Frankfort which is expected to be on Tuesday afternoon and having everything arrive on Monday would have been tight.

So today I redesigned out house network.  I pulled out the existing Netgear firewall, an FVG318, and installed the new one, an FVS336G.  The new unit upgrades the ethernet ports from FastEthernet (100Mb/s) to Gigabit Ethernet (1000Mb/s), provides the ability to handle dual Internet connections (for example, to use Cablevision Optimum online and Verizon FIOS at the same time providing load balancing for faster connections and reliability keeping us online in case either one goes down) and provides a built-in SSL VPN which I am looking forward to working with.  The FVS336G is a generation or two newer than the previous unit and has Netgear’s new interface as well so it will give me a chance to get used to that.

I also installed a Netgear GS724T Gigabit Ethernet switch.  This unit provides us with twenty-four ports of GigE connection for the house.  That will really be a nice upgrade.  We are constantly pushing our FastEthernet network to its limits with our large files and media transfers and our Internet connection alone can take a significant portion of the line at times hitting almost 15% of the total line capacity and that is before we upgrade to the faster server and before we add a FIOS line.  Together they could put us to around 60% line capacity of FastEthernet but will be just 6% of GigE.  This also gives us enough ports so that we can start wiring up the house.  We want as few things connected via wireless as possible as that always adds complexity and problems and the more things that share the wireless the slower things go.

Previously we were also running the Apple Airport Extreme as a router sitting in front of the other Netgear which proved to be problematic.  When I first hooked it up I was not aware that it had the option of bridging and acting like a true access point rather than as a router and access point together (which sounds nice but it not a good way to go for very many networks.)  So while I was setting up everything else I also set up the Airport (802.11n) to act as a bridge and to be a transparent part of the network.  In theory this will reduce latency across the network and get everything working better.  We have had a lot of unnecessarily complicated networking problems in the past because of that unit being set up in that manner.

Dominica went out to do some shopping early this evening.  We needed some groceries and the snow had stopped falling so the roads seemed to be pretty good.  Originally Katie was planning on coming over this afternoon to see Liesl and to do some cookie baking but after she tried driving a little bit this morning (it took her two hours to unbury her care – the KTMobile) and it taking her about an hour to go a mile and the cold bringing back her cold she decided to stay home.  So I went out around three-ish and spent half an hour getting the Mazda cleaned off and warmed up and moved up to the sidewalk for Dominica, walked Oreo on a nice long walk and took out all of the backed up trash.  Altogether it took over an hour of being out in the cold.

Dominica went to Stop and Shop leaving Liesl and Oreo home with me.  I tried to play some Fable 2 while she was gone but Oreo had another “has to go out” emergency and Liesl needed a bit of attention so I only got to play maybe twenty minutes at most before she returned.  I did manage to complete the “Treasure Island of Doom!” quest during that time, however.  So I did make some progress even if it was short.

Min picked up frozen pizzas for dinner and I baked those while she fed Liesl.  We spent the evening relaxing and watching Reba.  Then Dominica went to bed early and I stayed up for a few hours taking care of Oreo and Liesl.  I fed Liesl her late night dinner (she always gets one 4oz. bottle of formula around midnight which allows her to sleep through the night – the doctor said that one bottle of formula per day was good but that two would start to cause problems so we only do it once) and then took her up to tuck her in.

I ended up staying up for several hours working on a few different things including the IPSec and SSL VPN connections.  I decided to just do some of the hardware work that needed to be done as well so I installed the new Jaton NVidia 8400GS graphics card into my Windows XP desktop.  That went very well.  I really like this card.  It is practically silent, does not require any additional power connections (which is a major problem with most graphics cards these days) and uses a nice DVI cable adapter (octopus) to get duel DVI-I output from a single DVI connector on the card and it is low profile so that it fits into my HP dx5150 SFF desktop unit.  It is great.  The install was a breeze and nothing went wrong.  If only I could say the same for Dominica’s laptop.

We ordered 4GB of memory for Dominica’s Vista Business laptop – an HP 6515b which we really like.  The first problem that I ran into is that it is practically impossible to find any information on how to install memory into this unit.  Installing the secondary memory module is simple and obvious but replacing the existing one is nearly impossible and involves removing the keyboard and going into the laptop.  I finally, after many, many searches including several of which HP’s website said that there were no document for this hardware at all came across the HP 6515b Memory Install Manual.  So that cost me several hours just trying to find what I was doing wrong.

After all of that work I discovered that there was a problem with the memory so I had to take the laptop apart several time and move the three memory modules around (any two were in the laptop at any given moment) to determine what was wrong.  After several hours I finally determined that one of the two new memory modules was bad and is going to need to be replaced.  But I did get the laptop running with 3GB of memory for the time being which will make a huge difference.  It just didn’t have enough memory to really function before.  But once I get the other, matching 2GB stick installed then it will be able to use its dual-channel memory feature and actually speed up the memory rather than simply having more of it.  So I definitely need to get it replaced quickly.

It ended up being five in the morning by the time that I finally wrapped up and headed off to bed.

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