Old News

Archived news items from August 1999
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Tuesday, 31 Aug 1999 [22:05 CDT]

After putting in about eighteen hours of overtime since Friday afternoon (including leaving school at 11:15 last night), my lab is set up. All the whiz-bang software (except linux) is installed. The machines are locked down. I can sleep. Which I'm about to.

The parents of one of my students came to Open House Monday and gave me a book by John Whitehead, The Freedom of Religious Expression in Public Universities and High Schools. It's a legal treatment of my rights and such written by an attorney who specializes in constitutional law. I'm excited to read it once I finish Screwtape.

I must confess, the previous two paragraphs are excerpts from personal email I've sent two people over the past couple of days. But they cover things well, so I apologize to the persons concerned for publishing what was a private communication to them. I'm just too sleepy to rewrite a fresh account of the same events knowing it's already been written.

Saturday, 28 Aug 1999 [23:53 CDT]

I'm a junkie. I didn't buy any ice cream at the grocery store last weekend, so I've been without all week. Sunday is typically when I visit the store, so I would have bought some more tomorrow. However, I couldn't wait that long. I went to the store about an hour ago just to pick up some ice cream. I just ate about half the pint.

I've been spending a lot of time installing the software on the new machines. I did have them marginally up and running on Friday, but they aren't locked down yet. So I've been working on that, as well as installing Linux too. Been a long couple of days.

Am still enjoying Screwtape Letters. Not much time to read, but I'm maybe a third of the way done.

Wednesday, 25 Aug 1999 [23:34 CDT]

Okay, I can talk about the "something good that happened at school" which I mentioned a few weeks ago, because it's definite now. I got new computers for my lab. This marks an upgrade after two years of using my current machines, which is actually not turnaround. Of course, this means I won't be getting new machines for another three or four years now, but, well, beggars can't be choosers.

The new machines are Microns, with 400 MHz Pentium II processors, supposedly 128MB of RAM, 4GB hard drives and 17" monitors. I say "supposedly" on the RAM because the one machine I've tested only had 64MB. I'm not sure if this was a mixup on our part or theirs; I'm trying to find that out now. These machines replace the 75 MHz Pentiums with 32MB of RAM I've been using. And the software remains identical (still Win95, DJGPP, and Borland C++ 5.02), compile times should be vastly improved.

I'm still using the Palm Pilot quite a bit. The battery meter finally shows some use, so it looks like I may have to replace the two AAA batteries every four to six weeks under normal use. That's not bad.

Okay, a brief rundown of events for the last week: helped a friend move from a large house to a small apartment all day Saturday. They're really struggling to fit all their stuff into the new place. Monday night I got called by a friend who just got a new job, making considerably more than he has been (and a lot closer to what he should have been making; he was fairly underpaid for his skill level before). We went out to eat at a pretty good Tex-Mex restaurant in Round Rock. Then I had stomach problems the next day, from about mid-morning until mid-afternoon.

I didn't get to go see the Quake 3 Arena tour bus at UT today, since I figured I'd be responsible and work on getting the new lab up and running first. It's probably just as well; I hear it was a madhouse. Of course, tomorrow night I'm having dinner with some more college friends (now married), so I won't have a long stretch to work on the machines then, either. It seems unlikely at this rate that the machines will be functional by Friday, but one never knows.

Oh, and my mother sent me C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, which I hear is a lot of fun. I've managed to eke out enough time to read a letter or two so far, and I like what I've read. I've give a better review when I finish.

Random economics fact (blame AcaDec): GDP includes production of foreign countries on American soil, GNP does not.

Thursday, 19 Aug 1999 [21:22 CDT]

Classes are going well. I'm trying something new this year and am teaching flowcharting for a while before we actually get into coding. And not having a conference period is really putting a drain on my free time. But I actually know most of the kids' names! And this only four days into it. I'm not sure if I'm getting better or what, but I'm pleased.

The Palm Pilot is pretty cool. I'm pretty good at Graffiti now, the handwriting recognition language built in to the Pilot. I'm currently using the datebook, which is not something I've ever had before. I think not having a planning period to do things at school is going to force me to either crack or just get more organized. Let's hope it's the latter; crack isn't good for you. :)

In other news, the Quake 3 Arena tour bus is coming to the University of Texas campus next week. I'm going to try to get there to see it, but with school all day and church that night, I'm not sure what I'll manage. Anyway, just wanted to throw a little support at the id crew.

I actually looked at the code for voteamp today, but didn't do anything to it. Maybe this weekend. (And if you buy that....)

Sunday, 15 Aug 1999 [18:02 CDT]

Will wonders never cease. Today was my two-year anniversary at Lakeline, which I had forgotten. Apparently others had not, because they called me up on stage at the end and publicly recognized me. In addition, they gave me a Palm Pilot organizer! I was completely surprised.

So I've been spending all afternoon entering in phone numbers and calendar information. Yes, I'm wasting several hours this afternoon so I can be more productive. :) It looks pretty cool. Hopefully I'll actually use it and can keep it for a while before I break or lose it.

Thursday, 12 Aug 1999 [19:05 CDT]

Well, school has definitely started. I've had a single class day with each of my classes, except for first period, which got short-changed by the first-day home room festivities. So they're a little bit behind. It's always good to already be behind on the first day.... Things have gone well so far, and it looks like another good group of kids. (Well, most of them, anyway. You troublemakers know who you are.) I'm also going to be teaching Computer Science III for the first time. I'm still not sure what they're going to do all year. I guess we'll look at linux, networking, open-source, Java, and whatever other Cool Things(TM) I can think of.

Got quoted on Blue's News again today. This time a letter made it into the mailbag; it's the third from the bottom. The last time was also recently, where my fond memories of Coconut Monkey's Quake II levels are quoted near the bottom.

I'm really going to finish that linux client so I can get the new version of voteamp out there soon. I hope to get it done in the next week, though I can't promise anything.

Monday, 9 Aug 1999 [19:41 CDT]

School is gearing up again. I spent most of last week at school taking care of little things here and there. It seems like I don't have much to do; this is in marked contrast to former years where I nearly rebuilt my entire classroom from scratch. All I really have to do is change a few lines in some scripts somewhere to reflect new drive mappings, and I could reload the software on the machines if I really wanted. Other than that, there's not much going on.

Yesterday I took advantage of the "tax holiday" here in Texas to finally stock up on some school clothes. I took a friend with some fashion sense, so I think I got a pretty good bunch of stuff. Got more slacks, some ties, some nice shirts, etc. So I'm hip for school again, clothes-wise. Of course, I've updated the always-brash wish list to reflect these purchases, so all you rich philanthropists who feel like sending some goods my way won't accidentally send me something I already own.

My quest to go all-Linux is coming along nicely. I've gotten it installed on my desk at school along with StarOffice, which is certainly full-featured. I haven't used it to create any documents yet, so I'm not sure about the cross-file compatibility I've heard so much about.

On the home front, my all-Linux plan is going a little slower, mostly because I haven't been home long enough to hammer things out. Maybe when I get a little more experience with things at work I'll set this machine to boot into linux by default. (At the moment, it goes in Win95.)

Also, something good happened at school. I can't say much until something more definite happens, because I don't want to get the students' hope up if things don't pan out. But I'm a happy camper at the moment.

Oh, all the CDs were scratch-free, by the way.

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