Thursday, August 31, 2006

Just Staying Afloat (or: Where Are The Lifejackets?)

It's barely been two weeks since classes started and already I'm feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps some summary is in order...

No single one of my classes are particularly bad (although one comes close), but this is definitely my hardest semester to date. Most of my classes are moderately difficult, moreso than in the past because there's a lot more information to memorize verbatim and a lot more work to do outside of the class than the "here's what you need to regurgitate on the next test" that we've grown accustomed to over the last three years. I have two bad points in my schedule, but otherwise it's ok for the most part. The first is that I have the 727 Sim (moved up to the much-nicer -200 this year, so that's a plus) at 7:30 on Monday mornings, which history tells us is not a time where one is likely to find me with the alertness needed when something goes wrong. The second is that on Wednesday mornings, I have to get from the airport to the Electrical Engineering building in 10 minutes (a little over 2 miles by my estimates), so I've had to explain to my Accounting professor that I'm going to be a few minutes late that day because there's simply no way to make it on time.

That said, I do have one class that seems like it might be somewhat fun. The first clue of that was when the professor announced a specific half of the class had been flagged for extra security at the airport and asked us to figure out why (myself included). Turned out that she'd Googled all of us and decided who to flag based on the results (in my case, it was because she found my blog and from reading it discovered that I liked computers and when to the Middle East). Because the field of Aviation Security (the name of the class) is changing so rapidly, our 2004 textbook is pretty much outdated and we spend a lot of time in class discussing the issues involved, related current events (like the 10-year-old who announced he had a bomb on a United flight a couple days ago, I'd give you a link, but I can't find a good one), or watching the
Mythbusters clip on what would happen if someone fired a gun inside a pressurized airliner. So yeah, it seems like this is going to be my easiest class of the semester.

In other news, the Lappy's still in Kentucky waiting for parts (they replaced the motherboard and then discovered there was something wrong with the new one, so now they're waiting for yet another one to come). We discovered it wasn't the processor that was defective on the Compy after all, Newegg actually sent me two defective motherboards in a row. I just got the third one a couple of days ago and it seems to be working ok so far. By tomorrow morning I should be able to say with confidence that it isn't defective in the same way as the other two (although it does have one little oddity of its own, but not something of any significance). Because of how long the overclocking process will take once I determine I have a good motherboard (and installing/configuring my software), I think it's going to still be a couple of weeks before the Compy is fully operational. Thankfully, Adam and Eddie have been very generous in letting me use their computers when they're not on them, so I'm not completely cut off.

Drama seems to be in ample supply around here, and we all know how I feel about drama (I loathe it). My memory could be bad, but it does seem like there's more of it this early on in the semester than there has been in previous years. Ugh...'nuff said.

On a better note, two old friends of mine are now Freshmen here! When I lived in Minnesota and went to Grace Church Roseville, my family was in the same cell group as Ben's family and we'd sometimes go biking together, so it's really cool to see him. The other one, Ruthie, is the younger sister of my friend Abe from my church in Wheaton and I frequently call her by the nickname "Pineapple" she earned in Junior High (she was obsessed with them for a while). So yeah, that's been fun to have them around, especially because Abe is the only other person here that I knew before Purdue.

On Saturday we kidnapped Amy Chen and took her to Steak 'N Shake for her birthday. Overall it wasn't an overly traumatic experience for her and we didn't even need to use the saran wrap we brought in case she put up a fight (although it would be kind of silly for her to resist when I storm into the room with 10 people behind me and announce "you're coming with us."). Apparently Dustin, Edgar, and Greg pulled a copycat kidnapping later that evening, but they didn't think to turn on the child locks (naturally, I did) and their quarry almost escaped because of it (I am the Master for a reason :) ).

I've recently started Kay Arthur's LORD, Teach Me to Pray in 28 Days (Precept Ministries, w00t!) as part of my quiet time and it has been my daily dose of sanity in all this business. It is basically a month-long study of the Lord's Prayer and it's really sweet. The last few days have been spent looking at how the Lord's Prayer (and others in scripture, featuring examples from Isaiah, Daniel, etc) start with worship and today's partially focused on just how much of a privilege it is for a believer to address God as "Father" when praying (which I knew before, but it helped me understand on a much deeper level). I'm probably going to suggest that the Cary Action Group do this book as our study for the semester (Adam and I have a very strong desire to make prayer a huge focus of the Quad this year, so it seems appropriate).

Anyways, it's time for class...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Not good, not good at all...

Last I posted, I was in the midst of installing the new parts for my computer. When I turned it on for the first time, it seemed ok, but the next day it wouldn't start. I finally got it to start and it worked for a while, then stopped again. I figured that my motherboard was defective, so I started the RMA process and sent it away just before leaving for Minnesota. Well, I finally got my replacement motherboard today and BAM, nothing happened. Yep, it wasn't the motherboard that was defective, it was the processor. Now I need to send the processor in for an RMA replacement, and the soonest I'll get it back is probably the end of next week(but I have something I really needed the compy to do this Friday night, so I'm in big trouble).

Yeah, and the Lappy's still in the shop (somewhere in Kentucky), so I'll be lucky if I can get it back before classes start (when I really need it for classes). Even when I get it back it'll probably be a while before it's ready to go online. Basically this all means I will probabaly not have a working computer to my name for the next two weeks (I should be able to borrow my roommate's computers for email, but if you need to get a hold of me the only reliable way is going to be my cell). grrr...

To top it all off I'm frantically packing to move back to Purdue on Wednesday and, although I'm making progress, I'm not making enough of it to feel like I'm getting anywhere. I still have a mile-long to-do list (seems like the more I get done the more gets added to the list) and some things on it would get done a lot faster if only I had my compy working.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Virtually Missing

As some of you may have noticed, my usually ubiquitous online presence has been strangely absent lately. I haven’t been on Trillian (AIM), updating my blog, updating my Facebook, etc. Yeah, things have been insanely busy around here lately (even more so than I usually am at school) and my to-do list is depressingly long and getting longer. To top it off, both of my computers are INOP (inoperative) at the moment, but more on that later.

I still miss the MidEast like crazy, especially in this “limbo” state of suspended animation within my basement between Project and Purdue. I ended up taking over 1300 pictures while I was there and I haven’t even had the time to look through them more than twice or burn a DVD of them to send to my teammates. Hopefully I’ll get through enough of my “urgent” to-do stuff to be able to do that before I move back to school two weeks from yesterday. Yeah, Project was nothing short of amazing and I really wish we could have stayed longer.

My birthday went well on Saturday; I pretty much just took it easy most of the day (meaning I felt relaxed while trying to fix the lappy) and then had a few close friends over for pizza and videogames. In a decidedly unexpected twist, a full two-thirds of the “happy birthday” calls I got on that day came from the Upper West rather than the Midwest, where the majority of the people I know live (“upper west” might not be a real term, so just think of it as everything north and/or west of Wyoming). Now some of you are probably muttering under your breath about just how bizarre or idiotic a person has to be to actually post a fact like that online, but I figured it was just weird enough to be interesting (hey, it’s 12:15am, a lot of weird stuff is interesting at this time of night).

Quick preview of the next two weeks before I leave for school:
-We’re headed up to Minnesota from Friday to Monday to visit family and celebrate birthdays (we now have 5 of them within about a month of each other). I’m psyched because I haven’t seen my baby cousins since Christmas and I’ve heard they’ve changed quite a bit (one just turned 2 and is talking and the other just turned 1 and is reportedly highly mobile).
-Uhh…I really don’t know what we’re doing the rest of next week. Probably just going crazy with work and pulling our hair out.
-Next Sunday I’m probably going to be giving a 10-15 minute presentation on my Project to my parent’s Sunday School class at our church, so I’ll pick out a few pictures and a story or two and hopefully have enough time to prepare it rather than winging something like I did for them a couple of weeks ago.
-Then I just have a few days to pack and prepare to move back to Purdue.

Finally, the issue of both computers being INOP… The Lappy (“Shawn-M4,” my TabletPC) broke at the end of last school year and I had it repaired just before I left for Project. When I got back I wiped the hard drive and have been working in reinstalling everything and getting it set up just how I want it. So far I have most of my software installed, but I still have it isolated from the internet to protect it until I figure out a few problems I’ve been having (it hasn’t gone online at all since I wiped it). As for the Compy (“Shawn64”, aka “Mr. Collins” to some of you), the motherboard died a few weeks ago, so when I finally identified the problem I decided it’d be better to go ahead and upgrade now rather than just replacing the motherboard and then having to replace it again when I upgrade in a couple of years. The last part arrived on Tuesday and I started surgery that night. As it stands right now, the majority of the new parts are in the machine and I’m going to install Windows tomorrow (the remaining parts are add-on cards and I’ll install them once I have a stable build of Windows going). Then I’ll overclock, install my software, backup, and finally go online to update Windows and begin to use the machine again. Until then, I’m using my Mom’s Tablet for work stuff, email, and the occasional visit to Facebook or the news.

By the way, I think completely replacing the vast majority of parts in the compy and reinstalling Windows means that I should probably consider it a different machine. In its former life, it was named Shawn64 on my network because it was my first machine with a 64-bit processor. The “new” one is still 64-bit, but is also a dual-core processor (and the machine should be overall quite a bit more powerful than the last), so I don’t really want to keep the same name. Due to my sleep-deprived state and having put a serious lack of thought into the matter, I haven’t come up with anything yet. You can tell from “Shawn64”, “Shawn-M4,” and “Fujitsu” (the picture frame) that previous names have been primarily functional about describing each machine; I am open to suggestions that divest from that norm.

Ok, that’s it for now. No pics, no links, just a very-tired me sitting amongst the scattered parts of my beloved Compy at 1am pondering if this floor would be comfortable enough to save me a trip upstairs to my room for the night…