April 8, 2002

Another faithful update. You guys are going to become spoiled with me doing these huge updates everyday. No one is going to know what to do once I head off to DC and don’t do any updates for a couple of days. I actually find it much easier to do the updates now that I am using WinSCP and Chami’s HTML-Kit because I just work on a copy of the site that is on my computer that is in my closet and I don’t have to use that super slow Frontpage and connect to the web server and work on it there. Of course, I have to daily sync the two so that you guys actually get the update but that isn’t much hassle. This system allows me to easily add stuff to the site all throughout the day whenever I am thinking of it instead of taking the time to open the copy on the web server each time that I want to do anything. This is definitly the better solution.

Ok, today’s website of the day is pretty cool. I think that you are all going to really like this one. It is here. But it is too funny so I am not going to tell you what it is and will just let you go there. You can find out on your own.

The new version (Build 292 Alpha 3) of HTML-Kit came out today so for all of you web developers out there…it is time to go and get it.

Dominica made me go shopping with her all day yesterday in Syracuse because she has her third interview tomorrow and she needed a new outfit. So, she bought me the video game Tropico as a treat for having to have shopped all day. It is a pretty cool game. You play a dictator on a small tropical island. It is single player only though. There is a new expansion pack out now but I haven’t tried that yet. We also picked up the Microsoft Sidewinder Game Voice that allows you to talk to other people through the computer while you are playing a video game (it only works on Microsoft systems) but it is pretty cool and it is now buy one get one free. So it is a good deal now. It is $50 but if you get two then it is cool. It comes with a nice set of head phones with a microphone and a base unit that allows you to just press a button to talk to different people. It is pretty neat. I think that Loopy and Josh will probably split on a pair of them so that we can all talk while we are playing AoE2 or Quake.

Eric is planning on being up here tomorrow. He has been working out this way quite a bit recently. Loopy is driving back from North Bay today. Miranda’s computer is now dead (in Intel Heaven – or something like that is how Loopy put it.) Always something. Computers suck don’t they?

Well, pretty short update today since I was pretty busy yesterday. Hopefully tomorrow’s update will be up to par:)

April 7, 2002

I am going to start right off today with the web site of the day. This one isn’t so much weird as just a nice funny site. Tedd Goff is a cartoonist who makes cartoons that kinds of cross the gap between Dilbert and the Far Side. His stuff isn’t as funny as either of those but it is pretty good. You can find his work at www.TedGoff.com. You can also buy his work there to add to your company newsletter or whatever. I found him because he is associated with the Opera Web browser.

Speaking of the Opera web browser. You will most likely notice that we have added some advertising for Opera to our web page. We aren’t getting paid for it, we are just trying to increase our readers awareness to alternative browsers. Opera is free and now with version 6.01 (yes, Josh, you need to go and get the most recent one now) it is even better than before. This latest version includes some updates to the overall look and feel. Opera is very functional and extrememly fast. For those of you working over a phone connection, you really need to switch to a fast browser like Opera or Mozilla as thier performance blows Internet Explorer away. Over cable or DSL it isn’t as noticeble. But it is still faster. I have been using Opera since verion 4 and have always been happy with it. I use Mozilla mostly now but I use everything from time to time. I also use Konqueror a lot but that is only available on UNIX platforms that use the K Desktop Environment (KDE). Which, by the way, just went to version 3.0 this week.

Dominica is addicted to the Sims again. She has added the first three expansion packs and will probably install Vacation today. We have noticed, however, that as you add expansion packs the game really begins to slow down. It is unfortunate that they designed the game to not use the graphics card in the computer to help in rendering the environment so the main processor is stuck doing everything. It really takes a toll on the system – even though it is nice that you can play this game on every machine everywhere because of it – it also means that you have to have a totally amazing machine to get it to run well. Dominica is currently running a PIII 866/133 with 256MB of memory and the game is still having a hard time keeping up. With Vacation added, it will most likely be even slower. With the new expansion packs added, especially Hot Date, The Sims is a little less for children – if you catch my drift. The game is completely a computerized soap opera.

Nate and Bob were expecting to have company this weekend but noboday came up so it is a quiet weekend here. Josh is thinking of coming down to visit and my Aunt and Uncle’s family is expected to be here this afternoon. Loopy is in North Bay today. We won’t see him again until Monday night. He has been working at Cornell and they let him work for only an hour yesterday so that he could drive up to Canada earlier in the day.

I want to get this site to having at least 100 people looking at it on a single day. And I don’t want that to just be a couple of us going to it a million times each (ok, I guess that that would just be ten of us at ten times each…) I need you guys to help me come up with some ideas to get people to come to our site here. Somebody email me with something – ok?

Dominica’s computer has started acting up and it appears to be a dying DVD-ROM drive so she is now in the process of installing a new 16x DVD-ROM drive and a new TDK CD-RW drive that she bought today. This is her first venture into the world of tearing apart a computer.

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…

THE OFFICIAL LLAMA OF THE MONTH AWARD GOES TO JOE HOWLETT!!!

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.