January 17, 2002

Yes, twelve days since the last update. I only arrived back in Ithaca last night so be glad that I am back to the grind already today. It has been a very long week. Today’s update will be a little bit lacking but I hope to have more accomplished by tomorrow. I am feeling pretty lazy today. First a quick schedule update… I will be in Syracuse tomorrow afternoon so don’t look for me then. I will be in Rochester on Saturday. After that I will be home again.

The trip to DC (the first leg to South Carolina) was quite an adventure. I had to drive back home to my parent’s house where I picked Eric up so we could head out last Sunday afternoon. The first two hours of the trip went ok (of course, all we did is manage to get back to where I had started from so mark that, first four hours – no progress yet!) That is when the snow started. It was ok at first, until about Binghamton. Once we headed south on 81 towards Pennsylvania is when the storm let loose. The roads would have been ok if only I had tires that weren’t bald and if there were some plows out on the road. But alas, we can’t all be blessed with inspectable tires and snow plows. For some reason, it was too much effort for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to clear Rte. 81 so we drove through deeper and deeper snow. The trip from back home to Scranton, PA should take about four hours. Well, no such luck. It took us seven. Ouch. By the time we were near Scranton, we were happy that we were moving at 25Mph because it meant that we weren’t stuck in a snow bank. We almost managed to hit an SUV in front of us that lost control and spun out, blocking the road. We slid around it and the semi following us slid to a stop facing the driving of the SUV only a few feet away. That stopped everyone behind us. Needless to say, I was worn out by the time we got to Scranton so we stopped at Perkins (Yes! I hate Denny’s, Perkins rules.) We had some coffee and decided to call it a night. It was all we could do to get out of the Perkins’ parking lot. The cashier told us how to get to a hotel and we headed in that direction. By now, the unplowed roads have snow so deep that it is above the bottom of the doors. This makes driving very hard. A couple of times we almost came to a stop due to a loss of traction. Eventually we made it to the Red Roof Inn. There was no getting into the driveway, however, so we took a good run at it and left the car stuck in the entrance of the motel and checked in. This was about nine o’clock. I asked the desk clerk what to do with the car and they said to leave it where it was and when the plow came in a few minutes, they would call me to move it. Well, they finally called me at one in the morning to move the car. That made for a long night. It was so slippery that I almost couldn’t walk to the car.

The next morning, Eric and I waited for sunrise and started driving towards DC again. By this time the roads where finally getting plowed. We made it into Annapolis around one in the afternoon and met up with John and we started driving to Anderson, South Carolina. We decided to give up driving for the day around Kannapolis, North Carolina. We finally got to the hospital in Anderson around nine in the morning on Tuesday. What a long trip that ended up being.

That is my summation of my long journey south. Needless to say, I am glad to be home. It was nice, though, to have 68 degree weather while we were down there. That made life a lot nicer!

So, after another long evening of struggling with that stupid Mandrake 8.1 install, I finally got it to work. I was lucky enough to find another person online who had the same problem as me and was able to get it working. How frustrating that was. It still does not work completely but mostly it works and the Sims is up and running. In fact, Dominica is playing it right now. What a funny game that is. It plays elevator music all of the time. That is pretty hilarious. It is a weird game. I don’t think that I could get into it but Dominica is really excited about it. I am relieved that the system is FINALLY working. Stick with SuSE or maybe Red Hat. Stay away from Mandrake, it isn’t worth it, even with the Sims.

Ok, so Josh and I ordered the second parts of our new computers (Loopy is getting excited about making his own computer now too. Bob is considering it.) Josh went out and bought a case just like mine but black and with three additional drive bays. Also an Antech, though. Our next piece (ordered and not yet arrived) is our Soyo Dragon+ motherboards. These are awesome top ‘o the line boards with all the cool features and stuff. We are very excited. These are designed to support the newest, most awesome AMD AthlonXP processors. Plus they have built in smart card support, Dolby Digital surround processors, infrared port, USB, Ethernet, etc. Very nice. And pretty affordable. Soltek makes a board based on the same chipset that is cheaper but not quite as nice. John decided to run and out order his entire system already. Not all of the parts have arrived yet but I expect it to be all together sometime next week. He went with an all aluminum case with a large plexiglass window on the side with an “etched” biohazard symbol on the window and a red neon light inside the case for effect. It is going to be one sweet computer.

I have checked the logs and Sheep Guarding Llama is getting a lot of traffic! The site is getting checked every day from all over the place, even when we aren’t posting for a little while. That is very encouraging. I can always tell when Josh is looking at the site because he is the only person using Opera 6 out there. Someone is looking at us with a Macintosh too and I have a sneaking suspicion as to who it is. Oh, tech note, Mozilla 0.9.7 is out and it has fixed the mail bug that has been in the last two versions so we are able to use it to read mail again!

Flag of BelgiumI have a new Anne update from Belgium but I have been unable to post it yet. I will do my best to get it online by tomorrow.

Has anyone noticed that my updates are getting longer and longer? This didn’t seem to be very long while I was writing it but now it looks huge. I guess this is to make up for not having posted anything for so long. Hmmm…

January 5, 2002

Well, we are all back from New York City, been to our bands year end party in Caledonia and are back home in our respective countries now. I wrote the January 2nd update and didn’t get a chance to post it so here it is now. I am going to be away in South Carolina for a week at least (no definite plans yet) so don’t be looking for any updates for a little while. Sorry but it is really hard to get an update written when you are out of town.

Canadian FlagWe are happy that our Canadian contingency was able to spend the entire last week hanging with the Llamas. Miranda and Natalie have both arrived safely back in Canada today after an exciting week in New York. The Canadians, Loopy, Josh and myself went to New York City on January 3rd and 4th. Natalie has gotten impatient about me getting the Bios section up and running so she has made her own page to use until then. So now you can look her up here. I will make up a special page to tell all about our trip to NYC and show all of our pictures when I make it back home. I am in a hurry to get this done tonight since it is already 1:00 am and I have ten hours of driving tomorrow in addition to having to pack and then work all night after driving and then drive another nine hours after that. It is going to be a long week, let me tell you!

Last night, Loopy, Josh, Natalie, Dominica, Miranda and I all made it out to the Kelley’s Heroes annual end of year party. We had a good time. Josh was lucky enough to be able to crash out there back home. The rest of us had to cut the evening short and drive long distances home. Too bad we are all getting so old! I haven’t heard from Anne in Belgium recently. She has been pretty busy, I am sure, with the holidays and changing host families and all. Hopefully we will get an update from her soon.

Dominica’s back has been hurting her again so she has been working her way through my movie collection again. The highlights of the day include The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain, Charade and Chocolate. Definitely the worst thing watched was Down to You, truly a pathetic movie. The rest are great. This was my first time seeing Chocolate and it was really good. There are a lot of really good people in it.

I should warn everyone that I decided to shave my head last weekend so all of the pictures taken of me this week have me without any hair. I was staying over at Josh’s place in Rochester and we were bored so we shaved my head. Everyone seems to like the look, though, so maybe I will stick with it for a while. That wasn’t the original idea but I kind of like the look too. I wasn’t going to mention anything before the New Year’s Party so that I could surprise everyone. But I have started to forget about it and it is such a drastically different look for me that it really catches everyone by surprise. Eric was laughing hysterically at me the other day at Jay’s Dinner in Rochester so I thought that I would mention it here to warn everyone.

I did get a chance to scan in a number on pictures from the party. The NYC pics will have to follow later; I don’t have that much time. I didn’t have a chance to get all of the party pics in either but there are some here so that everyone can be sure that they really are coming. Last year we had only a hand full of pictures by the time we put stuff up on the site. This year we did much better. Tim and I got pics with our digital cameras that I have not even had a chance to check out yet. Miranda has some pics that she is going to mail to me soon. All of the pictures that we have right now are all thanks to Natalie. These are our house copies that Natalie was nice enough to get for me from the one hour photo place in Rochester before she left town. So, be sure to spend some time coming back to visit to keep looking for new pictures. I know that these are a highlight for everyone to get to see what is happening out here. Also, I managed to get a new addition into the Funny section a week ago and I forgot to mention it. So take a look there too.

Look for a big update when I return from the South. Whenever that might be. One week. Two weeks. Who knows.

January 2, 2002

Can you believe that I have been writing this site since November of 2000? Isn’t that incredible. There have been some lapses and we erased the first four months because I am stupid but we have been here for quite a while nonetheless. I still can’t believe how many people come to this site all of the time and read my ramblings. But now with the cool downloads of music and games that we have we should be getting even more traffic coming to the site just to see that stuff. Dominica even caught her brother playing “The Adventures of Cyclor” one day at her parent’s house. How funny is that. We are thinking about having an official Sheep Guarding Llama contest to see who can design the best new levels for Cyclor and then let Bob play test them and decide who made the best level. It would be a neat way to get some experience designing levels for games too since that can be a very exciting job opportunity.

I am still working on getting Mandrake 8.1 Gaming Edition loaded onto Dominica’s computer. It is a really big pain to work with and I am getting pretty pissed off. I am also working on slowly getting my roomed cleaned up since it looks like a bomb went off in here.

Dominica is trying to head back into work today for the first time in two weeks. Her back has been feeling a bit better so hopefully she will be able to handle working all day.

We would also like to say Happy Birthday to Mary Johnston!

January 1, 2002

Happy New Years Everybody! Well, we all survived a rather successful New Year’s party (pictures will be coming soon.) We had a very good turn out this year. Matt and Loopy entertained us with their musical stylings as usual. We are all pretty exhausted today so we are pretty much just spending the day recovering. Josh, Natalie, Miranda and I are heading to the Big Apple first thing in the morning so we are getting ready for the trip as well.

Dominica’s Jack Russell Terriers had seven little tiny puppies that are so cute. I had a chance to go see them today. They were just born on Friday so they don’t quite have their eyes open yet. I love puppies. We even had a nine month old Boston Terrier stop by the party last night for a while. He was a big hit. His name was Rex.

Just a short update today, I have a lot of work to do so I don’t have a lot of time to be writing here. Plus, I did quite a lot of writing the other night and I don’t think that anyone has managed to read all of that yet so I will wait before putting up another huge update. I hope that everyone has a great New Year and holds to their resolutions. I will try my best to get pictures up here right away. We have some digital ones this year so it might be a little bit easier.

December 30, 2001

I am back from three exhausting days of staying at Josh’s in Rochester. We spent a lot of time playing video games and watching movies. Josh played a bit of Final Fantasy X on the PS2 while I worked on Call to Power II that I just got. C2P2 is not nearly as good as AoE2. I wouldn’t recommend getting it unless you manage to get a really good deal on it or something. It is turn based and that just is not very exciting. I am sure that lots of people out there really enjoy turn based strategy games but I find them rather slow and uninteresting. It is also pretty confusing to play. The slow game play makes the game not nearly as exciting as some other strategy games that I have played. We also watched Mad Max I (the one that no one knows from 1978), Running Time (with Bruce Campbell, only the second movie ever shot as one continuous scene with no break in the film), Rumble in the Bronx (did you really think that we could avoid watching a Jackie Chan flick?) and the Moulin Rouge. Moulin was really good, we are thinking about adding it to the WHAT!?! movie list. It is a really strange movie. Josh and I really liked it. Especially chapter 19. Altogether, I picked up ten new DVD’s over the weekend and I think that Dominica got six. I should also point out that Running Time became the movie that had the 1000th viewing out of the Scott Miller Cinema Collection. It is hard to believe that a movie out of the collection has been pulled down and watched so many times. The last 100 views have come very quickly as there are so many people living in the house watching them all of the time. Especially with two main house entertainment systems and one in each roommates’ bedroom. Plus my parents and friends borrow movies all of the time and that adds to the views quickly as well. There are, in fact, close to 100 movies in the collection that I have never actually seen myself, which is kind of funny, I think.

Canadian FlagNatalie and Miranda, our Canadian contingency, arrived in the States today, meeting Josh, Dominica and I at Nick Tahou’s in Rochester. Josh tried to eat a plate and failed miserably while I actually managed to put one down, who knows how that happened. Min chickened out today. Natalie and Miranda got a plate but took one bite each and abandoned any hope of eating the rest of the day. I guess that they are not going to be joining us for Thanksgiving Dinner next year. They have come down to the Llama house now and are here along with Ryan and Jill from the Big Apple (yes, once again exiting the city on its biggest night of the year) and Matt who are all crashing here tonight in preparation for the big party tomorrow. Loopy has managed to do his traditional pre-big party drinking so we will see if he is going to be ready to party down tomorrow.

While I am writing today’s update, I am working on installing new hardware and software on Dominica’s computer. She got a new graphics card, the PNY nVidia GeForce III Ti 200, for Christmas and I have just gotten it into her computer. It is working under Windows 2000 but that is just the first piece of the equation. In addition to the new hardware (which is working just fine) I am also installing her new operating system, Mandrake Linux 8.1 Gaming Edition which is replacing the Red Hat 7.2 that was on there before. Let me tell you, there is a reason that Loopy and I hate Mandrake. Red Hat and SuSE do such a good job with making Linux so user friendly and easy to install but Mandrake goes through so much effort to make everything idiot proof that only an idiot could ever hope to get it to work. I would never install Mandrake if it wasn’t the only Linux version that supports (currently) The Sims (which also doesn’t work on Windows NT 4, 2000 or XP) so, since Dominica wants to be able to play the Sims, it is about the only choice. If you can live without playing the Sims, please avoid Mandrake at all cost, they give the open source software industry a bad reputation. SuSE is the only distro that I have been really happy with. I have used their Advanced Server 7.0, and their Pro Distros 7.1 and 7.2 and only had the best luck with them. I have heard very good things about the new 7.3 too.

While I am talking about computers (I have time to write since I am waiting for the install to finish) I might as well tell you that I am now working on building (from total scratch) my own computer at home. I bought the new case on sale at CompUSA yesterday. I got a nice Antech case with eight drive bays and a 350 watt power supply for $100 and I am very happy. That is all that I have purchased so far but I will keep you up to date as I build the system. This new computer is going to become my main machine, dual booting to Windows 2000 Pro and SuSE Linux Pro (version 7.4 most likely by that time or maybe 8.0 if we make it that far) with all the cool stuff for gaming. This will be my third computer with full 5.1 channel digital surround sound and the first one to get a really top notch 3d graphics accelerator. I am very excited. It is going to take me a while to get this all built though. So, keep up with me at home if you can and you will have an amazing machine by the time that we are done. I am aiming for a reasonably priced, outrageous performance machine running on a Soyo mainboard with an AMD Athlon XP 1900+ or better processor. The estimated cost to completion is around $1600. That does not include the operating system and software but if you are going to use the system mainly for Linux, like me, then let me know and you can borrow my Linux to install, I have SuSE, Red Hat, Mandrake (ugh), Storm, Slackware and Caldera distros so pick what you want. I have FreeBSD and OpenBSD as well which both really rock. So that shouldn’t cost you any extra unless you are going for a Windows system and why bother with that if you are going to make the ultimate machine? Lots of great Linux games are available at Electronics Boutique for only $10 each. Go buy some and support Linux games (especially things like Quake III and Railroad Tycoon!) I am also planning on installing three hard drives since I am going to dual boot. You can easily save $100-$200 if you were going to skimp on the drives. And I plan on spending almost $300 on the graphics card. You could get an amazing card that is almost as powerful for $100-$150 less easily. Another $50 can be saved on the sound card and still have great, well supported surround sound. And you can save $250 or more by not installing a DVD-RAM drive. So, you could build an almost as amazing system along with me for closer to $1000 if you chose to. As I build the system, I will keep notes in italics so that it is easy for those of you who are interested to follow along. I already know that John and Josh are going to be building the systems along with me so maybe there will be some others. Today will be the first installation. It would be good to keep up with me because that way you can get the benefits of my research into prices and performance of the products.

Stage One, The Case: CompUSA currently has their cases on sale (at least the CompUSA in Rochester, NY does) and some of the deals are pretty good. There are Antech cases available which, as far as I am aware, are a very good case. I picked up the Performance 635 model for myself which has a lot of inside working space, eight drive bays and a 350 watt power supply. Don’t skimp here, get at least 300 watts power and plenty of space to work inside. There was at least one nice case at CompUSA for around $70 that would work just fine and save $30 right off the bat. Make sure that whatever you get has at least three external 5 1/4″ bays because you need at least one for your CD/DVD drive and most of us are going to want one for a CD/DVD writer as well. Plus, the mainboard that we are going to look at uses one and so does a sound card that I will tell you about later. That is four bays right there. I am only planning on using three at most so I am going to make due with a lower number of open bays so that I can afford a good case. Few people ever need more than three. I think that I am most likely safe. I am looking at picking up the Soyo motherboard sometime in January. Soltek, Abit and Asus have some decent options too. But it looks like Soyo is the way to go. Figure around $150 for decent MBoard, just so you can plan ahead. The Mainboard is one of the most crucial pieces of your system, so don’t try to save money here. Get a good board. You don’t have to get the coolest features (I do, but you don’t) so you can save money there, but stick with a good quality board from a known manufacturer. You will be much happier in the end. And really, how much can you save here anyway.

Today has been quite the computer update day. You will have to forgive me, it is very late at night and I am working on fixing a computer so that is what I am talking about. Oh yes, I did well on my test on Friday and I now have Microsoft’s SQL Server 7 Administration MCP test (70-028) under my belt and that finishes me off for Microsoft’s highest certification, the MCSE+I. I have been working on that one for quite some time. I am planning on working on the CompTIA Server+ soon, maybe in a week or two. I need to keep taking tests or I get lazy. It is good for me personally and it doesn’t look too bad on the old resume either. It keeps me motivated. Real, physical proof that I am getting something done.

You will have to excuse the unbelievable length of today’s update. I have been away for a couple of days and I am stuck, alone, waiting for a computer to finish installing an operating system and it is now 3:10 in the morning. It is amazing how much one is able to write about nothing so early in the morning. I am looking forward to going to bed quite soon. I am giving up, shortly, on the operating system installation. It is driving me crazy. I almost forgot to mention that Josh and I shaved my head on Friday night. It is a different look for me but I think that it is growing on everyone (but not on me, ha, ha 🙂 so maybe I will keep it for a little while. It is sure a lot cooler. I picked the wrong weekend to try it as the weather finally turned quite cold.

Ok, I am calling it a night. The Mandrake install does not work. There is no information in their manual about any potential problems that one might have. I even went to their website and found this exact problem listed on their site and managed to follow their directions exactly to fix it. But nothing works. In fact, their on screen info, web site and manual all have incorrect information about how their installation process works. And then on top of it all, under troubleshooting in the manual, it says RTFM as the first step. Let me tell you, I don’t appreciate it now. I think they need to think better about how they WTFM! Not a happy camper, let me tell you. No more Mandrake for this kid. I will have to call them to get installation support. This is really ridiculous. Well, hope everyone is having a better night than me. Happy New Year’s Eve. See you all at the party.