Old News

Archived news items from August 1998
Since this is old news, some links may be broken.

Sunday, 30 Aug 1998 [20:39 CDT]

The LHS programming assignment page is back up. I had a semi-current version here at home.

Okay, it turns out it is my chip after all. Despite early appearances, running my CPU at 3x66 didn't help. I eventually clocked it down all the way to 2x66 (133 MHz) and it would still crash within one minute of booting.

At the lowest speed, I swapped out my chip with a borrowed Cyrix 6x86 (which also runs at 2x66) and changed only the voltage (to match the Vcore of the Cyrix) and all my problems magically went away. My computer's been up continuously for over twenty-four hours and shows no signs of flakiness.

So it looks like I'm going to be replacing my chip here shortly.

On a school-related note, tomorrow is Open House. Which is cool, because it means I get to meet some of the parents of my students. (And probably the parents of last year's students, also.) And I'm sure parents will stick their head in, look right at me, and ask, "Is Mr. Mitchell here?" Ah, the pleasures of being young.

Friday, 28 Aug 1998 [22:10 CDT]

Yes, I know the programming assignments page (on the LHS pages) is down right now. Had a mishap with running out of temp. space on the web server, and I went to edit a file and managed to truncate it instead.

Turns out it's probably not my CPU which is dead.

My computer seems to be at least running now, though I've had to underclock it by 50% (now running at 200 MHz instead of 300) and lower the bus speed to 50% below specification (66 MHz instead of 100). Plus, I had to open the case and put a room fan (one of the round ones that can rotate back and forth) drawing air away from the chip to get it stable.

It's acting like its having heat problems, which is weird because I was running it at spec. quite stably for nearly two months. Plus, I'm thinking maybe the RAM has gone flaky. Who knows. Anyway, it's at least limping along right now. I'm going to send the RAM back to the vendor that sold it to me. They're going to test it on their rig. If it's defective, they'll replace it for me.

So, it looks like I may be out of a computer for maybe a week if I have to wait for replacement RAM.

Sunday, 23 Aug 1998 [21:34 CDT]

The new LHS Computer Science class web page is now up, in a minimal form. I'll be adding quite a bit in the way of content and maybe even changing up the design a little bit over the next few weeks, but it's functionally complete, so I can start using it in class. (And just in time for open house, even.)

Sunday, 23 Aug 1998 [19:56 CDT]

My CPU has died. It's interesting to see how various operating systems deal with a malfunctioning microprocessor. Windows 95 totally dies, giving the Blue Screen of Death at a minimum, and doing a complete system reset most of the time. DOS simply locks up in a hard freeze. Linux, however, runs stably for half an hour, and then generates a single GPF, printing stack trace information to standard output but otherwise not missing a beat. Then about five minutes later, Linux generates hundreds of faults in rapid succession, and reboots the machine.

The CPU is still under warranty, so I'm going to contact the store that sold it to me tomorrow and see what I have to do to get it replaced. Hopefully I can get them to send me a new one first, and then I can just use their packaging the send the defective one back.

Right now my system is running fine (though quite a bit slower) on a borrowed Cyrix 6x86-PR166+. Probably won't be breaking any land speed records with this sucker, but at least I can run Win95 for longer than fifteen seconds between crashes.

Finally picked up a spare tire to replace the one destroyed in the collision. Sam's is great.

Tuesday, 18 Aug 1998 [21:17 CDT]

Well, the lab seems to be done (knock on whatever this table is made of... particle board I think). Got the main installs done last night. That turned up four machines that didn't want to work. This morning, I was able to get two fully functional machines built out of the parts of the original four, and one more machine that only needed a hard drive. I got one of the tech reps to repair one of the dead drives by the end of the day.

Once classes let out, I was able to scrounge up spare parts to rebuild the last machine and got everything reloaded on the four itinerants. So basically it seems that all the machines are set up now. I don't have to do much more work on them unless I choose to, and that's nice.

Class sizes are creeping toward where they need to be, as students are finally able to get their schedules changed, etc. Second period is still several students above where it needs to be (it's hard to whittle down to 24 from 31 without just kicking kids out). Things are still going smoothly on that front.

Hopefully I'll get some free time here soon to resume work on some of my programming projects. I'm really hurting for a Song Manager of some kind.

Friday, 14 Aug 1998 [00:55 CDT]

GuardPC disagrees with OSR2. Arrrgh.

Spent about five hours this evening setting up a test machine. Tweaking settings, arranging things just so, and then installed the security layer to find that Windows wouldn't even boot. It's possible the problem may lie with the new NetWare client I'm using, but I didn't have the energy to check it out tonight.

I was able to get all the computers physically hooked up, at least. The installs from last year are still there and working fine (as far as I can tell). Of course, I only have 23 "working" computers at this time because the test machine is dead. Hopefully I'll be able to get the test machine set up and the lab ghosted over the weekend.

Seem to be getting a lot more hits recently. It's amazing what happens when you let about two hundred people know you have a site. Some of them actually visit. ;)

I've now had a single period with all my classes. It's always good to see females interested in computer science. There's no reason they shouldn't be; females statistically perform just as well as males in the field. Girls just don't go for the stigma, I guess.

And thus begins another year of changing the world, one student at a time. :)

Tuesday, 11 Aug 1998 [22:19 CDT]

Been busy at school trying to get ready for the first day. Today was especially productive:

The crazy part is, I got home at a reasonable hour and am going to get to bed at a reasonable hour. This time last year, I was at school until around eleven most nights. Hopefully this year will be less time-intensive at the beginning.

I haven't been to the grocery store in a long time. There ain't no kinda food in my house. Lots of dirty clothes piled up, too. I'll need to clean those pretty soon.

Found out my brother and his guitarist are coming in to visit this weekend. Rock!

Enough of the short sentences. I've got to get to bed if I'm going to be able to get up in the morning.

Sunday, 9 Aug 1998 [22:17 CDT]

Well, the wedding was nice. Got some of my friends thinking about marriage, it seems. However, other cool stuff happened.

We forgot to wrap our wedding gift before we left. So we stopped at a Wal-Mart about fifteen miles out, went in, bought some wrapping paper and tape, and wrapped the gift in an unopened express lane. Not the greatest wrapping job in the world, I must confess, but not bad for two bachelors.

Once we got into Dallas, we ate at what must have been the most unsanitary McDonald's I've ever been in. Hair in the food, gunk all over the tables... it was great.

Trying to drop by Fry's before the wedding we had a little collision with some gentlemen who decided to turn right on red without looking, and turned wide enough to go into the left lane (see figure 1). Destroyed my right front tire, and dented up the corner of the car, but there was no structural damage. They didn't have insurance, and took off while we were changing the tire. No one was hurt. The car still drives the same.

figure 1

After the wedding, we drove back to Austin with no problems. I dropped off my friend, and my car ran out of gas on the way home. I locked it up and left it in a parking lot just off the highway, jogged two miles to my apartment and finally crashed into bed at 4am.

Good thing I know God is in control, or I'd be frustrated.

Friday, 7 Aug 1998 [18:57 CDT]

Spent all day in various meetings at teacher inservice. Got schedules, covered first-day procedures, met new teachers and talked about rules and such. Not a ton going on.

Basically I've got two business days in which to do the following in my lab:

Not sure how much of this will get done before school starts. It's looking like we may not be using the machines for a week or so...

Just finished uploading the most recent LHS web page info. What had been there previously was the class web page as it existed about five weeks before school was out. Now it's synced to the very last update I made all year (only about two class days aren't covered, and there was no web info for those days).

TTFN. Going to pick up Brad's wedding gift (the manager's holding it for me).

Thursday, 6 Aug 1998 [23:20 CDT]

As you can see, I've updated the ol' web page. The old design was very stale and the structure no longer fit well with the things I'm now involved in. So rather than hurt my brain trying to figure out how to fix the previous design, I just rewrote it from scratch.

I'm using style sheets because they make this page just so much easier to maintain and make the HTML so much cleaner. If you're not seeing a green background on the timestamp above, then your browser probably doesn't support style sheets, and this site probably won't look so hot. Of course, it'll still be quite functional and readable; it just won't look as nice as it could. Upgrade your browser or something (and that's the last time you'll ever hear me say that).

This is really my last day of freedom, as teacher inservice starts tomorrow, and the students return next Wednesday. Time for another whirlwind year of teaching. I'm really looking forward to it. I like my current classroom setup, and we'll actually have books this year. Plus, I'm getting to coach Academic Decathlon with Carol Reed, which should be a lot of fun.

One of my old roommates is getting married this Saturday in Dallas, so I'll be driving up there this weekend. He's the first of my roommate buddies to tie the knot. He'll probably start a chain reaction, since I have several other friends who are in positions to get married within the next couple of years. Guess I'd better start saving money for wedding gifts.

That's enough for now. Hope you like the new design. There are still a few busted links, but I wanted to go ahead and get this up before my free time goes away. Let me know if you have any feedback.