Warrior Of Light
fighting the good fight   [and slacking off occasionally] RAMBLINGS - 2002
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  2002.12.15
Greetings! This update is more than 2 weeks overdue and I truly am sorry for being late. To my excuse, we had two birthdays in the last 3 weeks and a Thanksgiving party to host. Samuel had his 1st birthday on December 7th and Chuda had her birthday yesterday, December 14th. Chuda took the time and baked an "all natural, organic, no sugar" cake for Samuel and he was extremely happy to get it all over his face and clothes :-]

  quote
"Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people."
  job
As much as I wanted to start working on ZfD Imaging boot disk, new things just kept coming up and I had to take care of them first. Reminds me of a quote from one of Novell Netware study guides, "Netware printing works great until you add users to it." In the same way my job would be so great if there were no network users :-] But then again, if they weren't there, I wouldn't have this job, would I?

Anyway, I had to troubleshoot a fiber uplink problems with one of the switches at a school site, install a Jet Direct server, configure drivers for automatic download and install for Novell iPrint, setup a few Netware 6 curriculum servers, reposition some servers in racks to make room for a couple of new ones, install a new server for testing ZfD 4, read about ZfD 4 requirements and benefits, etc..

I also worked on converting an "application object" into an "add-on image" so we could distribute an application while PCs are being reimaged and not have to wait until imaging is done, then boot, then install app. Once that was done, Jon S. and I were ready to test if that would work. That's when we hit the next problem. For this to work, a workstation has to be imported into eDirectory/NDS and for that to happen some policies have to be in place.

So the next few hours I spent on getting those policies to work and in the end they weren't working still. This was a bit strange because I've done it at quite a few school sites and it worked just fine, but for some reason in our building it would not work. This coming week, after I finish setting up the rest of the curriculum servers I hope to get this done and I guess my ZfDI boot disk will have to wait until 2003.

  PCs
I know that this was promised some time ago, but better late than never I guess. A few months ago I found out about Regular Expressions [regex's] and practically fell in love with them. Here is an example of how useful regex's can be. This is a file I've been working on and using RE's saved me quite a bit of time! I started with a directory full of *.LAN drivers. Using "DIR /L /B /D > niclist.txt" I created the following file. (For those of you that will want to try this, I am using Win2000/XP DIR command and am not sure if earlier versions of Windows support those switches. As always, /? is your friend.)
1208odi.lan
3c3x9.lan
3c589.lan
3c59x.lan
3c5x9.lan
(about 140 more lines like this)
All those lines had to be converted into the following:
Link Driver 1208odi.lan
	FRAME Ethernet_II

Link Driver 3c3x9.lan
	FRAME Ethernet_II

Link Driver 3c589.lan
	FRAME Ethernet_II
...

If you like a little challenge, think of how you could accomplish something like this. Once you get tired of thinking, go here to see what I did.

If this got you interested in RE's, here is a helpful link that I found [site no longer exists], a gentle intro into the world of regular expressions. After this, reading EditPadPro's help file on RE's made a lot more sense. I also found a new utility, GREN.EXE, it's basically a REN [rename] command with regular expressions support. /? will give you most of the info you need, if you want in-depth explanation of every feature, read included *.html files. You can download it from my Download page, or here is a direct link to gren.zip Just extract and run. I usually put it in somewhere in my path.

  linux
These past few weeks I also had a chance to setup a Linux firewall for one of my customers. Actually I setup one server that I mentioned before as a firewall, Apache, Samba and FTP server, then I added another NIC to it and set it up to serve as a firewall between the internet and two different businesses, as well as block any data transfer between those businesses.

It was a fun project; there is nothing like working on something in real life environment. It's one thing to setup a Linux box at home and play with it and it's a lot different when you know that you can't afford to make any serious mistakes because your customer relies on you and his/her business depends on that server. Sure makes you do a lot more research and studying before making any serious changes.

I also had a chance to install Samba on ZFD-LINUX at work and figure out a way to access it from home. It would have been easy to configure a firewall on it and have both NICs running at once, but I don't think I want to take the responsibility of creating another way for someone to get into our network. I think I will leave that up to Don. What I did instead is create two scripts, one of them I run before I go home, it unloads Samba, disables LAN NIC, enables internet NIC and starts FTP server. Another one I run when I get back to the office, it unloads FTP, disables internet NIC, enables LAN NIC and starts Samba. So far it's working great and I don't have to worry about anyone breaching our network.

  games
For the past 3-4 weeks I don't think I had even one chance to play a game. Whenever I do get the time, I try to finish up Mechwarrior 4:Vengeance, Quake 2 and Fallout Tactics:Brotherhood of Steel. Warcraft 3 is still waiting for me as well as Americas Army, Battlefield 1942 and Freespace 2. This is kind of a strange period in my life; I have so many games I want to play but not enough time, I guess it's better than the other way around though.
  2002.11.24
Hail all! I trust the last two weeks went well for you and hope you enjoy upcoming Thanksgiving. I find that it is a lot of fun to get together with likeminded people and reminiscent about the wonderful things God has given us in the past year. I'm still working on a couple of articles about setting up computer workspace for maximum productivity and a couple of examples of how useful regex's can be. For those who forgot, regex is short for REGularEXpressions, a great tool for writing scripts, batch files, and speeding up tedious tasks.

  parenthood
After about 3 more days in the hospital with Samuel, we were ready to go home. After we got home, we were sorry that we left the hospital so soon :-) I should have gone home, got enough sleep and then take Chuda and Samuel. Chuda was still weak, couldn't really walk much or do anything else. I was very tired as well and on top of it all, now we had to wake up every couple of hours and feed Samuel. You can imagine our excitement when "Grand'ma" offered to come and stay with us.

During our stay in the hospital my parents have been very helpful, visited us every day and always brought homemade food for Chuda and sweets for me :-] However, they were used to raising children a certain way and whenever Chuda and I didn't do everything exactly the way they thought it should have been done, they let us know about it. To be honest, my Dad was fine but my Mom was really terrified by the way we [and the nurses for that matter] were taking care of Samuel. When she came to stay with us, there was a little issue of setting boundaries and getting her to understand that we were the parents after all and that we would have the final say on how to take care of the baby. A few arguments later this issue was settled.

After we caught up on our sleep I had enough time and energy to observe Samuel. It is truly amazing to watch a child discover the world. First they can't really move much so all they do is look. I can only imagine how amazing the transition must be when they are born. For months they see just the walls of the uterus, then suddenly the whole world is in front of them. I think that after they sleep for a couple of days and get enough rest from the big transition, they just lay there in amazement for a few more days. After that they want to be carried around, I guess they like a change of scenery just like us.

Once they are able to control their arms and legs, the exploration continues, this time by touching. It is really cute to watch when they find their feet, toes and ears. Then they start to pay attention to objects right in front of them, a button on your shirt or a lock of hair. As I watch Samuel discover all these things for himself, it gives me an opportunity to see the world through his eyes, where every little thing is amazing and a breadcrumb on the floor deserves five minutes of attention.

  quote
"Seek the wisdom of the ages, but look at the world through the eyes of a child."
  job
In the past two weeks I've been finishing up my ZENworks for Desktops projects, particularly getting everything ready for Remote Control rollout. There was a lot of policies to set up, double-checking if things are working and if workstations are being imported into NDS, etc. Finally by the end of last week I installed ConsoleOne on our programmers computers so they can support attendance clerks and secretaries at the sites better. It appears that not all the workstations that have been imported are capable of Remote Control as of yet, but that's the next steps, getting everything to work. At least now I will have some helpers that will provide me with feedback and will help me test things out.

Speaking of helpers, Jon S. has been a lot of help with ZEN lately. He shows a lot of interest in getting it to work at his sites and has helped me quite a bit. Thinking of that reminded me how often people will take the time to complain to management if someone is not meeting their expectations but if someone goes out of their way to help, most people don't even think about letting the same management know that. It is one thing to say "Thank you" to a person that did a nice thing to you but it is much more useful and appreciated if that "Thank you" is passed along to the supervisor.

Now that Remote Control is setup and is being tested, I can spend some time on creating a nice Linux boot disk. Marc asked me to create a workstation image for a new model and since that PC is using a new NIC, ZENworks Imaging bootdisk does not have the drivers for it. This gives me an opportunity to figure out the way that disk works and customize it a bit. I already have ZFD-LINUX server up and running, now I just have to mess around with the ZENworks Imaging sources and scripts to make it work with what we have. In addition, I'm helping Jon S. with "aggregative imaging." If that works, it will save a lot of time and diskspace.

  linux
I think I have finally moved from "I have to install Linux 'cause it's cool" to realizing its usefulness and the advantages it has over other operating systems. After I have used it for a while and then went back to Windows and Netware I really started to miss some of its features. These are just a few that I can remember:
  • Software installation & setup
    Debian has a great utility, dselect, that is the best way to find and install software that I've seen so far. If you have an internet connection, it can look for and update all the software that you have installed. If you have the installation CDs, it is smart enough to copy the files that are needed from CDs and then get the rest from the Internet. When you select an application to install, it checks if you have all the needed libraries (think *.DLLs) and any other software that your app depends on. In addition, it tells you which ones are required, recommended or suggested; this way it is your choice, how much additional software to install. And for those that don't really know what specific apps they need, there is tasksel with its ability to select combinations of apps that are suitable for different tasks: programming, office apps, science, games, etc..
  • Utilities
    One of the greatest strengths of this operating system is the underlying principle that it is better to have many small tools that each perform one task but perform it well, rather than having a few huge apps that try to do everything and don't excel at anything. In addition, these small tools can interoperate with each other, in turn giving you ability to create just about any tool (think LEGOs.) Together with some scripting [shell scripts, Perl, etc.] this gives you almost infinite possibilities to create just what you want. Another great thing is, most of the things you need, someone else needed before you and chances are there is a tool made for it already!
  • Support
    Linux has a lot of support options. You can buy a Linux distribution and get free phone and email support with that or you can get on the Internet and look at how other people resolved the same problem you are having. One of the nice things about this OS is it's openness. Practically all the source code is open for anyone to see and so if there is a problem, you don't have to wait for a company to admit that they have a bug in their software and then wait for them to fix it. Anyone with some programming experience can look at the code and post a fix or workaround for a bug; as a result, fixes come out much quicker. Anyone that had to wait weeks and even months for a company to admit that there is a bug in their software, will appreciate this pretty quickly.
  2002.11.09
Well, it appears that it's already November. Only a few years ago time seemed to move too slow, now it seems to fly... This update is a little short, hopefully next week I will have more things to write about, as well as more time to write it.

  job
This past week I had the best time at work. Oh, that's because I was on vacation :-] The week before that I was trying to catch up with all my projects so I wouldn't have to pass them on to someone else while I'm gone. Everything worked out OK, I got just about everything done and whatever wasn't finished can wait 'til I get back. I was able to get administrative PCs at a few sites ready for ZENworks for Desktops rollout.

  politics
I was very happy with the outcome of this election, except for a few disappointments here in California. Even though I may agree with a few points Democrats are making, I have a lot more in common with Republicans. I am eagerly awaiting what they will be able to accomplish now that they have more control of the senate. Either many good things will come out of it and everyone will see that Republicans are the best :-] or I will have to become an independent.

  quote
And since we are talking about politics, this quote seems fitting. By the way, before you get all bent out of shape and start flaming me, keep in mind that this is not my words, I merely agree with what another smart man said :-]
"Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains."
Winston Churchill
Well, either I have no heart or I smartened up quicker. Come to think of it, living in USSR can get the faith in socialistic ideas out of anyone rather quickly.

[update 2008.02.23 - This quote came up once again and I decided to make sure that it was indeed Churchill who said it. Turns out while it is often contributed to him, he didn't say it. It was a 19th century French politician that said something similar to it.]
"The man who is not a socialist at twenty has no heart, but if he is still a socialist at forty he has no head"
  PCs
I finally had a chance to finish putting together my older Athlon 700 PC and install Debian Linux on it. Now I have 2 servers running, Netware 5.1 and Linux 2.4. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with a few of my older PCs and hopefully will have time in the near future to clean up my office of all the extra junk. Oh yeah, I also have a computer I need to finish building for a friend plus one other one for a customer.

In addition, the idea of building another new PC is really getting to me. Hopefully I can find a suitable case and some removable drive trays at the computer show today or tomorrow. This way I can build a "poor man's SAN." So far [www.casedepot.com, model C415SL] or [www.casedepot.com, model C4510B] look quite appealing.

  linux
On the Linux front, I finally setup a firewall on my friends Linux server. At first I set it up so well, that it wouldn't allow even me to telnet or SSH into it :-] As you can imagine, that didn't work too well. A little more tinkering and I found Shorewall, a fairly easy to setup firewall. A couple of hours later, I had it installed and configured, this time allowing only me to establish an SSH connection. Next up is FTP and Apache. So far we had a few minor problems with Samba, but after reading up on it, I found what I did wrong.
  2002.10.25
Hail to you warriors! I guess two more weeks have passed... I'm starting to really appreciate and value the time that I have. I think I'm getting less tolerant of things that bring no good fruit but simply waste time. There seems to be too little of it to be so wasteful. This is making me rethink many things in my life.

  job
Why waste time at work doing things that bring no enjoyment or any other good fruit? I'm analyzing my situation to determine what things I could do that would be fun and bring some lasting fruit both to me and the company I work for. And if you find that no such happy medium exists, maybe it is time to find something that will bring you more joy and will not be so dreadful to go to on Monday mornings. So far I think I have been pretty blessed at work. A lot of the projects that I get to work on are fun and teach me something new which in turn brings long term fruit.

But there are times between projects that I have an opportunity to create a project of my own, to pick what should be improved next. And believe me, there are plenty of things that could be improved. Sometimes I find myself wasting this time on projects that are useful but hardly do anything in the long term, while I could have been doing something else that would be just as useful to our district and in addition would teach me something new or help me practice something that will be useful in the future.

For example, I found myself trying to perfect my network boot disk even more. It is a useful thing, it helps in PC troubleshooting. But I could have spent that time improving the default ZENworks Imaging boot disk instead. We really should be moving to ZI instead of still relying on an old version of Ghost since it doesn't meet our latest needs anymore. By working on the ZI disk I could improve user interface, make it easier to use and add additional troubleshooting utilities, freeing us from DOS disks.

ZI disk is based on Linux; Linux has a lot more utilities than DOS, people are still developing for it and I believe it will be very useful to me in the future. And yet I spent hours trying to get DOS boot disk to boot about 15 seconds quicker! Argh! It's all Shinjuru's fault really, he said that my disk sucked 'cause it was too slow to boot from :-] I get frustrated at myself for doing things like this. I found that having too many things on my mind is what makes me lose focus and start acting like a deer caught in the headlights, taking care of things that are popping up but not really solving anything in the big picture. I have to stop putting out fires and instead figure out a long term solution.

  games
Since I've been thinking about the way I use my time, it also has affected my gaming. Some time ago I got rid of the idea that playing games is a waste of time. I think games are a great means of relaxing, giving your mind a break from daily, mundane things and a great way to experience something new. However, I found myself pretty unhappy with the way I was balancing work and play. You see, I would either play a lot, right after work or after Samuel goes to bed, doing nothing else for days in a row, or I would work every night either on my customers projects or some other computer project at home until I would be exhausted and everything would start getting on my nerves.

Balancing things out seemed to help a lot. Now I have set aside time for gaming, for working and time for family. I don't get frustrated like I used to, when I worked on projects but was thinking about games, nor do I feel bad about playing games too much and neglecting family, friends and study. Now everything has its appointed time and I can focus on the task at hand, without any guilt. Balance is truly a great thing; even if it takes some time to figure out what would be the right balance for you.

------------------------------

Lately I've been playing Mechwarrior 4 [thanks Jon S.] It's a very nice game and I was reminded how much I suck at it too :-) Keep in mind that it is a "giant robot simulation game," where you get to be the pilot of a huge bipedal robot. It took me a while to figure out my ideal button layout for all the controls; and there are at least 15 essential ones to remember. After playing it for a few days with my Thrustmaster joystick and a keyboard, I'm starting to think about buying one of those joystick and a throttle simulation combos [HOTAS.] They are pretty pricey but that does take the game to a whole new level.

After some research, I think I narrowed it down to the following two: [Thrustmaster Cougar HOTAS] and [Saitek X45 combo]. Thrustmaster is very expensive, around $270 but it is almost a perfect replica of an F16 throttle and stick. Saitek is not a replica of anything but it did get good reviews and is "only" $80. Now, I don't know if I'm willing to pay extra $200 just to have a replica of something, but it is also an all metal controller that got really good reviews and has an awful lot of buttons & controls at your fingertips. For that matter, that's why it's HOTAS - Hands On Throttle And Stick. HOTAS were developed for pilots so they would have all the needed controls ready for them without having to move their hands off the throttle or the stick to reach some button on the panel. As you can imagine, flying an F16 you may not have that much time to find the right button on the panels :-)

Anyone who has played any real simulation or even an arcade style simulation game will tell you that controlling a mech in Mechwarrior or a fighter spaceship in Descent or Freespace is just as critical as flying an F16 :-P Having to hunt for some weird button on your keyboard can cost you the success of your mission! Now I just have to decide whether the success of my missions are worth that kind of money. I will have to look for a store that carries both of them and compare the look & feel. Maybe I could get away with the Saitek. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

  site
I'm thinking about implementing a forum on this site again. Last time it wasn't being used very much so after the server that it was being hosted on was rebuilt, I didn't see the need to spend all the time to get it to work. For the last few weeks I've had an email discussion with a friend of mine, about Good vs. Evil, whether God is all good or has some evil in Him and about Moral vs. Immoral, whether life would be possible if everyone was doing good/moral and no evil/immoral existed. It's very interesting to think about this, helps me understand God better and helps me sharpen my arguments for similar discussions with other people.

I thought that it was an interesting enough of a subject to let you guys see the discussion as well; and if any of you find it interesting enough to reply, hearing your opinion will make this discussion even more fun. I will have to check with my friend and if he is willing to take this from a private email discussion into a public forum, I will get to work. So far what I came to is that without God and His laws communicated through the Bible, there are no other laws that all the humanity would agree to follow. It has to come from someone greater than us, otherwise we are too diverse to agree on something.

  quote
That reminded me of a quote by my favorite US President, something that he said about the Bible.
"All the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated through this book; but for the book we could not know right from wrong. All the things desirable to man are contained in it."
Abraham Lincoln
  linux
For the last couple of weeks I've been working on that Linux server for a small recording studio. I finally figured out why it wouldn't let anyone login but "root", installed ProFTP and started configuring NAT and firewall. In addition, at work I started to work on an HP Netserver E60 that was given to me to use as a Linux workstation. So far it's been nothing but a pain. For some really strange reason it keeps freezing or causes "kernel panic" every time I run the installation program.

There was one time where I was able to finish running the installation program, but only with 2.2.20 kernel and whenever I run "make bzImage" to make the 2.4.19 kernel, it either freezes or aborts. I just can't figure it out. In it's previous life, this server had an IDE hard drive go bad and I started thinking that maybe it's the IDE controller that is causing a problem. So I switched to all SCSI, disabled IDE completely in BIOS, only to find that it was still doing the same thing. I reseated the CPU, tried running it with only one stick of RAM [first one than second one by themselves] and still no luck.

Fans are working fine, it shouldn't be the heat. I'm starting to suspect the motherboard is faulty or the CPU. I do have another PIII 600, so I will have to switch them around and see how things work out. If that doesn't help, maybe I will convert it into a regular Windows workstation and convert my older Micron into a Linux box. Who knows, HP might have used some proprietary hardware that Linux doesn't have drivers for and instead is using something generic. I will keep you posted.
  2002.10.13
Couple of weeks late but finally I have some time and energy to post an update. Greetings, patient ones! In the past two weeks my Mom and sister Tanya had to come and help us take care of Samuel since Chuda had a fever and a nasty cold. Samuel and I seemed to be affected by it not as badly, just a few minor symptoms.

  job
Last weekend and the following few weeks our "headquarters" will be moving to a new building. We were in the first phase so guys in our IT department have already situated themselves in the new place and got everybody else's computers up and running as well. It only took us one Friday night, Saturday and a part of Monday. There were a few people there on Sunday as well, getting network printers connected. To my surprise, everything went smoother than usual.

The new place has smaller cubicles and just about everyone has a split one, that they have to share with another person. That's kind of a bummer. Plus, now our whole IT dept. is in the same room and that can get pretty loud; makes it harder to concentrate. On a good note, having this many people in the same room can be more fun, kind of like living with a big family, lots of brothers and sisters.

Having to move to a new place had another positive side to it; we were forced to clean up and decide what was worth taking with us and what wasn't. Everyone seemed pretty surprised by how much junk we were holding on to :-] Starting from scratch can be fun, gives you another chance to try and come up with a better way of organizing things. Last week I had a chance to finish setting up my desk and I think I'm pretty happy with it. It would be nice if I had a little bit more room but I guess I can live with what I have.

  quote
Today I don't really have a good quote, but rather a 404 message [page not found.] This has got to be the best 404 message on the whole web, especially if you remember Hitchhikers Guide to The Universe and Marvin, the "paranoid android."
http://www.scintilla.utwente.nl/asdfhjkl
  PCs
Speaking of organizing things, I guess that's why I like rebuilding my computer, every time I get to rethink my drive partitioning and directory structure strategy. You would be amazed how much more productive you will be if your workspace is tailored to your style of work. Sometime in the near future I'm planning to post an article on organizing your workspace: directories/folders, shortcuts, etc. I have most of the ideas down, just need to take some snapshots and write the article.

For the last few weeks I had a very strong desire to rebuild my PC. I had to remind myself that this wasn't really a good time, I still had a few projects I had to finish plus my PC was working just fine! I don't know how much longer I can keep myself from doing it though :-] Listening to Jon S. [formerly known as Little Jon] telling me how he built his new PC and how well it performs didn't exactly help things either. But I think I should be able to hold off until I have a little more time and maybe money to buy a few new parts and at least have a reason to rebuild it.

  linux
To my big surprise, our IT manager gave me a pretty decent PC to install Linux on. I needed a Linux box for modifying kernel and some scripts that we use for ZENworks for Desktops Imaging. When it works, it can be even better than Ghost [or at least the old version of Ghost that we are still using.] After some struggle trying to install Debian on it I finally succeeded and now I have a pretty good PC to use it on.

After installing Debian a few times and using it for a little while, I'm starting to understand why it's not the most popular distribution out there. On the other hand, I'm also starting to understand why it is one of the more popular ones among the really geeky Linux users. It takes some time to understand it and its principals, but ones you do, you really start to "dig it." At least I did. Currently I'm trying to understand why I can't login to it remotely, using SSH2 with any account other than "root."

  games
Lately I've been playing Neverwinter Nights, Fallout Tactics, finished Return to Castle Wolfenstein and almost finished Quake II. Fallout Tactics turned out to be less boring after a while if you play as "Tough Guy" where you don't get to save in the middle of a level. Makes you really change your strategy. Same thing for Neverwinter, even though they don't have "Tough Guy" style, I just refused to reload the game in case I die. I decided to take the gold & experience loss, which forces me to be more careful, since losing precious experience points is no fun.
  2002.10.09
Greetings! I am very sorry for not posting an update on time. I am not slipping back to irregular updates, I'm just not feeling well, Chuda has a cold and we are moving to a new building at work. Way too many things to take care of. If all is well, there should be an update this Friday. Thank you for your patience and for visiting, it means a lot to me even if I may not know most of you.
  2002.09.13
Yes, today is Friday the 13th and yet I have managed to post an update! Sometimes I just amaze myself :-] Well, I know that it's almost the end of Friday, but still. I forgot to mention last time that I have updated the Tech section to make it more usable and to keep it from getting outdated too quickly. All the tech guides have been changed.

  parenthood
After about nine months of learning everything we could about pregnancy, baby's development and doing a bunch of funny exercises, we were amazed at how wonderfully God planned the whole process and were ready to meet Samuel face to face. We were ready for delivery. However, it seemed that there was at least one more thing for us to learn - patience. Samuel didn't seem too eager to see the world, he was late about 10 days.

When he finally decided to come, he was determined it seems to take his time, enjoy the view and explore the surroundings :-) From the time contractions started, to the end of it all it took over three days, in which Chuda had about nine hours of sleep total. Seven hours of that sleep was in the first day, and the following two days she had two one hour naps. It was this time that made me appreciate our doula very much. She was able to give me breaks for sleep and gave Chuda another face to look at.

Lack of sleep was the hardest part of that experience, until it was time to push. I really can't describe that period of time. Chuda was exhausted at the end and almost passed out. Samuel was doing fine, looked great and was making very cute noises. Being with Chuda during the waiting period and seeing Samuel for the first time was truly special and I consider myself very blessed to be able to be there at that time, especially considering that in Russia it was a no-no.

Even though people told me to prepare myself to be yelled at by Chuda and get ready for a crying baby, none of that happened. Chuda was happy to have me there and Samuel only cried for a little bit when they spanked his little butt to make sure he was OK. Our doctor, doula and nurses told Chuda how impressed they were with her, that she was able to go through the whole process naturally. When we first came to the hospital we gave our birthplan to the nurses and told them that we didn't want to have any medical intervention unless Chuda's or baby's lives were in danger. Later they admitted that they didn't take it very seriously since many people have a birthplan and want to do it naturally, but most end up cancelling the whole thing once contractions really start going.

I was drained from this whole thing and after everything was over, had to lay down. I was too afraid to hold Samuel, he was so little and fragile, I was afraid to break him :-] A few hours later, after a little nap I finally did pick him up and held him for a while. I never thought that a human heart is capable of containing so much love. The first expansion of my heart happened when I met Chuda and we got to know each other but I could not have imagined that it could expand even more.

This little baby went through such an amazing transformation, from having water in his lungs for months to breathing so peacefully. And now, this tiny boy, a part of Chuda and I was finally in my arms, sleeping. I don't think anyone but a parent, can understand these feelings; they are just too strong and unlike any other feelings I have experienced in the past. I never thought that I could love another human being as much as I loved Chuda, but I think this was even stronger. Big part of this was that he was a part of us and that he was so helpless. If something was to happen to me, at least Chuda could take care of herself, but this little baby completely dependent on us.

  quote
While we are on the subject of love, I found the following quote very much to the point, especially after I was forced to listen to some guy that was seating behind me in a restaurant, telling his friends and a few girls how love is just a selfish feeling and all people are trying to do is to "get some."
"The desire of love is to give. The desire of lust is to get."
  PCs
In the last 2 months I've been very busy with a lot of tech projects, most of which were projects for friends and family. After a few weeks I found myself complaining that I had no time left for studying or my business. That was a wakeup call: it was time to set my priorities and eliminate less important things in life. I have decided that I will have to start charging those friends that keep messing their computers up. When someone has to pay for something, their attitude tends to change.

Lately I've been quite fascinated with Regular Expressions, they turned out to be very useful in performing searches and I hope they will come in handy in writing scripts as well (batch files, shell scripts, etc.) It was EditPadPro that made me like RE's and I think I'm finally getting a grip on them. Now I only wish I could find a tool that would allow me to not only use them in the "search" field but in "replace with" as well. Either such feature is impossible to implement and it doesn't exist, or I am missing something.

[update] After writing that, I did some more reading & practicing and figured out the way it works! All you have to do is use () which will create a "backreference," something that you can specify in the "replace with" field later. Next time I will post some examples of how RE's [or regex's] saved me a lot of time. By the way, I also found a very nice little utility, GREN.EXE that is a replacement for REN or RENAME command, but it also supports regex's!
  2002.09.02
Please accept my apologies for not posting an update on Friday. I ran out of pain pills and noticed that my back was hurting just as much while taking them as it was when I wasn't. That was good news and bad at the same time: the good thing was that my back got much better, now I could go to work without constant pain. The bad news was that my body must have gotten used to the pills and now I had to go through a few days of terrible headaches.

I had to go through something similar a couple of years ago, I got used to 8 cups of coffee a day [I didn't think there was anything wrong with that at the time] and I had to go through a few days of really painful headaches. To make the long story short, my headache started on Thursday and got so bad that I had to take part of the day off. All I could do, is try and sleep through it whenever I had a chance. It has been about three days now and finally I'm feeling better. Oh by the way, I finally posted some pictures from Samuels room, just scroll below, to the previous update.

  PCs
If you remember, some time ago I was planning to switch a server in my friends office from Win2000 to something more stable. Novell Netware would be better, but he didn't want to spend that much money on it. In that case the OS of choice is Linux. I picked up the server and installed Debian (yes, I'm on to another distro in my quest to find the most customizable.) Now I just have to configure Samba, Apache and figure out why X is giving me errors.

While working on that server, I was reminded why open source software is so important. For some reason, Adaptec has decided not to release specs for their AAA series of RAID cards and they don't want to develop a Linux driver themselves either. Now because of that, anyone that does not need Ultra160 RAID has to look elsewhere for an Ultra2 RAID card. Oh well, MegaRAID seems to have an open source driver and that's already embedded in the Linux kernel.

By releasing a driver or at least the specs for their cards, Adaptec may not have made much money on a card that is out of production, but by not releasing it, they made me think twice about recommending their cards to people. If there is a card that is in the same price range and the company has a history of releasing their specs for open source development, they build trust with their customers that even if they will not develop a driver, at least the specs are out and someone else can write one. And that would be my recommendation.

  quote
While we are on the subject of computers, here is a quote that reminded me of Don and our struggle to get some batch files, registry changes and login scripts to work: and while it was no C code, at times it was just as painful.
C code, C code run. Run code, run! Please!!!
  parenthood
Once Samuel was here (even though he was still in the womb, his presence was very real,) we really appreciated that Chuda wasn't working. It was great even before pregnancy but with the morning sickness, feeling "queezy" and all the things to learn and get ready, we appreciated the free time that she had now at least twice as much as before.

Once, while visiting my cousins I mentioned how many things there were to learn and do before the baby comes. Both of them already had at least one child and were surprised to hear it. To them it seemed, pregnancy came and at the end there was a baby. Maybe to some people it does come naturally and they don't need much time to get ready, but we needed all the help we could get and certainly appreciated all of nine months that we had.

After some research and prayer we decided to have a natural childbirth, with as little medical interference as possible. The best way to accomplish that, was to have a midwife but for financial reasons it wasn't possible. Some more time spent gathering information revealed the next best thing, to have a doula and take some Bradley classes. Bradley method is an alternative to LaMaze method that seems to be more popular.

Bradley method focuses more on natural ways and husband's help. Or if husband is not available or isn't capable, a sister or a friend will do. A doula is a person who is experienced in pregnancy and childbirth but is not certified to be a midwife. Janet, our doula was not only helpful during delivery but was also a Bradley instructor. All the things that we learned about pregnancy, baby's development and delivery were quite helpful. We would certainly recommend her to anyone planning to have a baby, if you are interested, send us a message and we can give you her contact information.

  2002.08.16
  parenthood
Once we found out that Chuda was "with child," fun times had begun. As brand new parents-to-be, there were a ton of books to read, baby room to prepare, shopping to be done, etc. Chuda found me an excellent book, "Expecting Father". She found it at a garage sale, then we went to look for some more to a bookstore, only to find that this one was the best! Sometimes God just drops what you need right in your lap.

Jennifer, Chuda's sister helped us greatly by painting the babies room. Since we were going to have a boy, the room had to be "boyish" of course, so Chuda had a great idea of painting different bugs on the walls, lady bugs, dragon flies & praying menaces. It turned out very nice!


After I showed last "parenthood" update to Chuda, I was corrected on two things. First of all, apparently we have been married one less year than I thought, so do apply that correction to everything in the last post. Also, when Chuda asked me to consider and pray about adopting a child, she did not mean that he/she would take place of our own but would be in addition to Samuel.

  job
If you read my last update, you might remember that we were going to test ZENworks for Desktops Imaging [ZfDI] multicasting. Well, it worked fine and we were able to image most of their PCs. I just wish that for cancelling a multicast session Novell would have selected a key other than "any key!" It was bad enough that after telling a client to join a session just by pressing a key by mistake you can cancel a session, but after bringing up 29 clients in 22 rooms I cancelled the master by pressing a key! After all this I decided that it is better to bring up the clients first and then bring up the master, that way there is less of a chance that the whole session will be cancelled.

Cancelling that session by mistake after walking around bringing up clients for 40 minutes made me want to find a way to multicast from a server, using just an image file. I did find a way but there was a problem. All the PCs timed out, one by one. I was a bit afraid that we might have a problem with their 10BaseT wiring using hubs, but my concerns went away after we were able to image 3 sets of computers that were 2 times slower than these. I'm guessing that on this model the NIC is less tolerant of network delays.

  quote
Some time ago I had to work on a server at a school site and while waiting for it to reboot, out of boredom I was looking around a bulletin board. There I noticed a paper that was titled "Half proverbs" and was describing an experiment some teacher decided to do with his class. That teacher wrote down first half of a well known proverb/saying and gave it to his students to finish the sentence. Here are some of the answers they came up with:
Where there is smoke, there is ... pollution.
A penny saved is ... not much.
It's always darkest before ... daylight savings time.
No news is ... impossible.
Don't bite the hand that ... looks dirty.
A miss is as good as a ... Mr..
If you lie down with dogs, you will ... stink in the morning.
  PCs
Lately I had a chance to go through some of my computer things at home. I got rid of some of my really old PCs and parts and noticed that the more things you have, the more time they take from you. If it's an old PC, you have to find drivers for it or constantly keep upgrading it (oh look, they are throwing away a 2GB drive and mine is only 1.2GB, got to upgrade!) And if it's old parts that you collect, you have to store them, sort through them while looking for something, find drivers for them, etc.. All this wastes time, time that could be spent doing something more productive and fun.

I also noticed that I was collecting old servers, as if they were somehow better than regular PCs that are much newer - ooh look, it has a SCSI controller! Yes it does, but it's a 10MB SCSI, how is it better than an UltraDMA 33MB regular PC? Not really. I guess I will have to get rid of those Compaq Prosignias with Pentium 90 a 10MB SCSI controller, 10Mb NIC & 2GB hard drive that are sitting under my desk at work. After all, I have a 700MHz Athlon PC & almost enough parts for another 700MHz Pentium III and yet I continue to waste time on these old servers. Go figure.
  2002.08.02
In this update, there is continuation of the RAID story, some more updates from work and as promised, an introduction of a new section, Parenthood. At some point there will be one more section, but let its name be a mystery for now. There are quite a few things I have in mind that I would like to share in that section and time permitting I will get to it. Oh, something very nice happened about a week or so ago. Mark, gave me a great present, Sony Clie!

  job
The last two weeks I've been working on ZENworks for Desktops Imaging [we will call it ZfDI from here on] and other related projects. ZfDI is actually a pretty cool product once you get into it. First of all, it can be used for regular drive-to-drive imaging, just like Ghost or Drive Image. But it's real benefits start to show when you use it in a network environment, that's where it's integration with NDS/eDirectory really make life easier for a network admin and computer techs.

First of all, you do not have to login to the network; simply running ZfDI grants you appropriate rights. Second, you don't have to worry about network card drivers [for the most part,] Linux kernel takes care of autodetecting and loading appropriate drivers. There are circumstances when a card isn't supported, that's when you start your Linux box, compile the new NIC driver module, recompile the kernel if necessary and you are ready to go. Or simply wait a couple of months until Novell engineers will do the same for you and will release a patch.

You can also configure the imaging server to automatically image a new workstation that matches certain IP address and/or hardware criteria. And installing ZfDI partition permanently on a workstation [instead of just booting from a CD] allows you to schedule imaging jobs from the comfort of your desk. You can either save an image of a good workstation or load a good image on a corrupted PC. All without having to drive out to the site. Simply call the user, have them backup their data and reboot!

OK, I'm starting to sound like a Novell salesman :-] Yesterday I had a chance to use ZfDI multicasting and today we will be using that to image almost all the PCs at a school. I am somewhat curious how well it will work, considering that the school is wired with 10BaseT hubs and there are tens of computers that will have to be imaged at once, all in different rooms. Last week I've been testing the automatic imaging and that seemed to work pretty well. Next step will be to import the workstations into NDS, so we can schedule imaging jobs and other tasks by workstation.

----------------------------------------

On a bit sadder note, our NDS seems to be getting laggier and is starting to have some problems. There are a lot of changes being made to the network and our management doesn't see the need for maintenance. Well, let me correct myself. They agree that maintenance should be done, but they are not willing to allocate any time for it! We used to have one day a week where we would maintain the system, but now that's been taken away for some time. I was able to convince them that having two of us come in at 9 and work 'til 6 will give us at least an hour every day to do some maintenance, but shortly afterwards only I was left with that schedule and now I've been assigned enough projects that I don't have the time to do any of maintenance after 5. I have to meet the new project deadlines.

I can't call it anything but shortsightedness. It is a great idea to give as many tools to the teachers and students as we can, however it should not come at the expense of maintenance! If we give people a box fool of tools, but they will all fail constantly, it will only be a short time before people will give up on those tools completely! A supervisor at my previous job was a perfect example of that. Her computer was constantly crashing and after a while she started using her typewriter for practically everything. She was forced to go back to a tool that was less advanced but she knew would work and not fail.

I have written a list of things that should be done to stabilize and standardize the network, but with our current schedules I have no idea when we will be able to get to it. To top it all off, there are new things being installed almost on monthly basis and now we will be importing tens of thousands of new objects into the NDS, making it about four times bigger than it already is. I can only imagine the effect that it will have on NDS. At least management doesn't seem to mind giving me as much time as I need to work on my projects so I can make sure that what I am responsible for will work well. For that I am thankful.

  parenthood
There are so many things to write about being a parent, I don't even know where to start. I guess the very beginning would be a good place, so please bear with me as we walk down this path that the time is starting to cover with fog of forgetfulness... We've been married for about five years before Samuel showed up on the horizon. The first four years we were glad to have all to ourselves, on the fifth we were ready for a family expansion. Gods timing was truly perfect, considering that neither Chuda nor I wanted to do any sort of family planning.

At the beginning of our marriage God did tell us that we would have a boy. After five years some doubts started to pop up and we began to think that maybe we wouldn't have a child of our own and that maybe we should adopt one. There are plenty of children in the world with no parents and adopting one of them would really make their day [or life for that matter.] However, after checking with God, we were reminded of His promise and were reassured that we will have our own child.

By that time it was about a year or so that Chuda stopped working and became a housewife. It was a bit of a difficult decision, but since it was also God's idea and there were quite a few advantages, we decided to tighten our belts and do it. Not surprisingly after making such a drastic change in her life, it took some time for her to regroup. Many people think that switching from working eight hours a day to staying home is an easy change. We had to learn that it sure wasn't so. It takes time to make your own schedule and it takes will power to stick to it, when you know that no one is there to supervise you.

The reason I had to bring all that up was God's answer to our next question, "Why is it taking so long if You told us that it is about time?" His answer put us back in place, "You are not ready. You have not organized your life like I told you." It was time to turn back to Chuda, "What is that I hear? You were told to do something and you haven't done it yet?" Some memory digging did reveal a few things that have not been taken care of yet. From that point it took us about three months to get all things in order and get ready. And so at the end of March 2001, a small group of cells began to grow and multiply that was our long awaited boy, Samuel. And with that began another era, Pregnancy. [to be continued]

  PCs
[This is continuation of 07/20/2002 PC update.] Some more research revealed that most of the IDE-to-SCSI RAID solutions use two kinds of cards, an Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A or a 3Ware Escalade. 3ware seems to be a good company and their products are a bit cheaper than Adaptec so I did consider buying a 4 port Escalade, only to find out that it only supports Windows and Linux. That was not very satisfactory, since I'm still running Novell Netware and am not sure if I will completely move to Linux in the near future. Adaptec seems to be the undisputed king of the RAID hill, they provide drivers for all OS's out there [Windows, Linux, Netware, UNIX, etc.,] the 2400A controller is only a bit more expensive than the Escalade and it has cache RAM expandable up to 128MB. My search for an ATA RAID controller has come to an end.

Next step was to decide what level of RAID I want to use. RAID 5 is nice since it's the gold spot between price and performance. However, with RAID 5 there is a performance drop when compared to a single drive, especially with IDE drives. And to really start reaping the price benefit, you should have at least 4 drives or even more because in a RAID 5 setup, you lose space equal to the size of 1 drive. So a RAID 5 setup with 3 80GB drives will have 160GB available, while a RAID 5 setup with 6 drives, will have 400GB available. As you can see, the benefit of using RAID 5 is minimal if used only with 3 drives. Plus, you will be losing performance.

At this point, I'm still deciding between a RAID 5 or a RAID 0/1 [also referred to as RAID 10 sometimes.] RAID 0 is striping, RAID 1 is mirroring, so RAID 0/1 is striping with mirroring. For this type of setup you need to have a minimum of 4 drives. Basically with 4 drives of 80GB each, I could create two stripe sets of 160GB each and then mirror them, so I would end up with 160GB worth of space, fast RAID setup thanks to striping and a fail safe solution thanks to mirroring. 80GB drives seem to be the gold spot at the moment, in the $120-$140 range, so four of them will cost about $500. In comparison to a RAID 5 for the same 160GB setup, I would need one less drive, save about $140 and lose some performance. However, I will be able to expand the array on the fly simply by installing another drive, without having to recreate the array. It is a tough choice for sure...

If you are interested in this at all, here are some links and info that I found. ATA RAID controllers: Adaptec 2400A, 3ware Escalade. IDE-to-SCSI enclosures: Dynamic Network Factory, Excel/Meridian, AMS Storage. As usual, Storage Review is an excellent storage information resource. Here is a direct link to the Adaptec 2400A review and the 3ware Escalade 7450 review.
  2002.07.20
Well, it took me almost a week to write this update. I started on the 14th and only now am finishing it up. I guess I wanted to write a lot of things and didn't figure out that it was too much. So some things will appear in the next update and some we will split in half. There are a few advances in my PC projects and there are some upcoming changes for this website. But lets get to them one at a time.

  job
If you have been reading my updates, you probably remember that I've been assigned a project at work, configuring ZENworks for Desktops [ZfD] to "lock down" student workstations. There are a few ways it could be accomplished - you can use ZfD to block or hide certain OS features, use Novell Application Launcher [NAL] as operating system shell or use a combination of another shell replacement and hide/disable some OS features.

I liked the idea of being able to replace the shell, either with NAL or something else. After evaluating Object Desktop from stardock.net I presented it to the management but was told that the price was more than they were willing/able to pay. Then I started working on "NAL as shell" project. About a week into it I kept running into annoying little problems. Finally on Monday, during our morning conversation I asked God to give me a breakthrough with that project.

After checking my email and getting some coffee I went to support.novell.com to see if there were any solutions for some errors that I kept getting. That's where I ran into this little gem - "InoculateIT will not detect viruses if NAL is used as a shell replacement." InoculateIT is an antivirus program that we use at the district. This made me think of how much time I could have wasted getting NAL work as a shell only to find out in the end that it disables our real-time virus scanner. And the chance of us getting a different virus scanner are very slim, considering that we just paid a lot of money for this one and spent a lot of time installing it on every workstation.

This reminded me of how often God helps his children in their lives, from huge requests like finding the right person to get married to, to something as trivial as helping you find some really nice speakers at a garage sale. To counteract what some of you may be thinking, here is a quote for you.

  quote
"When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don't, they don't."
William Temple
  site
Lately I've been looking through the pages on this site and making small corrections here and there. Then I decided that the Tech section needed some serious changes, so it wouldn't become obsolete so quickly. I'm almost done with that, so hopefully by next update you should see some changes. Also, starting with the next update, there will be a new section added to my biweekly ramblings. Hopefully it will be fun for you to read and may even be useful to some.

  PCs
After finishing Mark's computer and helping a friend of mine troubleshoot his new one, I finally had some time to work on my own projects. First and foremost I had to have some protection for my data. Up to this point my plan for emergencies consisted of frequent backups and prayer :-]

Now that I saved up some money, it was time to improve the level of protection. Not that prayer doesn't work, as you can see in the previous section it works very well. It's just that God doesn't tolerate stupidity and if you have the money to protect your data but instead spend it on games, that's stupidity. [Let me clarify that last comment. God does not tolerate stupidity but luckily there is a solution for those of us that could use some wisdom, I know I do pretty often.]

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach,
and it will be given to him."
James 1:5
Taking that into consideration I started looking for a RAID solution. After spending some time researching, I came to conclusion that a SCSI RAID is out of my league. Drives are about twice the price of IDE drives, RAID card is a few hundred dollars and I would need either a new server case or an external drive enclosure. Even if I was to buy all this used or from ebay it would still cost me $1,000 or more and that was just more than I was willing/able to pay.

While I was considering my options, I started thinking why SCSI drives are the only ones that are used for RAID. I am not really counting $60 IDE cards as real RAID solutions. They are fine for building a gaming system or a budget audio/video workstation, but aren't really something I would depend on to keep my data safe. That's when I came across IDE-to-SCSI RAID enclosures. They were still out of my price range, but they did give me assurance that it's possible to use IDE drives for systems that don't require 100% uptime. And I would not mind bringing down my server to replace a bad drive if it will save me a few hundred dollars and will keep the data safe. [To be continued in the next update.]

  games
Lately I've been "testing" a couple of games, Warcraft III and Neverwinter Nights. Both games are truly excellent, but Warcraft III was a very nice surprise for me. I really was waiting for this game and when Blizzard started making some changes to it and releasing screenshots, they didn't impress me very much. However after playing the game for a while, I have to say that everything has exceeded my expectations. Screenshots of the game didn't do it justice, it looks much better and ability to control camera angle is great! [Yes, I think they could have given us more control over the camera but at least the up and down control is there, considering that I didn't think it would be there at all.]

Giving commands from a top-down view and then lowering the camera almost to ground level is like watching a movie! Also, they paid a lot of attention to character animation and sound is top notch as usual. Blizzard movie team should really create a full length movie, or even a couple. Heck, they already had over 25 minutes of excellent 3d animated movies in Diablo II and the movies that I've seen so far in Warcraft III are superb as well. All three storylines [Diablo, Warcraft & Starcraft] would translate great into a movie. With some work and imagination, they could make the next "Lord of the Rings"!

Neverwinter is a bit of a different story. Many publications claimed that it will change the role-playing world forever and that it's possibly the best role-playing game of all time. I think for any game it would be practically impossible to meet such high expectations. The game is very nice, however as an experienced player that started playing RPG with Diablo and finally fell in love with Baldur's Gate II I would have preferred to have a few things done differently. Like an ability to control more than one party member or at least be able to have access to the inventory of your mercenary. Oh well.

Don't get me wrong, it's still worth buying and I am really enjoying it, but I think those things could be done a bit better. I'm really looking forward to playing some custom adventures, with real DMs [Dungeon Masters] controlling the action and the monsters, I think that's where it will really shine. All in all, I think both games are worth buying and I will have to pick them up at the next computer show or a sale at EB.
  2002.06.28
Hail warriors! I must be getting really good at this, this is the second or third time I was able to keep up with my update schedule! :-P Well, instead of taking just Monday and Tuesday off, I ended up taking a whole week off. Sadly even that didn't seem to help my back all that much. However, there were a few positive things that came out of all this. First, I was able to organize some of my CDs and files and organize my Internet bookmarks. I also decided to keep my bookmark.htm file at the root of my website. That way I can have all my bookmarks handy wherever there is internet access.

  job
Today I also got a chance to really "practice what you preach." Some time ago in a conversation with Shinjuru, I said that as employees we have to respect a position that someone is holding even if the person that is holding it isn't worthy of it. I had my evaluation today which I didn't really agree with, but since I didn't feel like fighting it I just signed it. In part the evaluation itself and the way the whole thing was handled made me feel very unappreciated. Out of my six or seven evaluations, this year's left the worst aftertaste.

I remembered how dissatisfied some of the other people in our department felt about their evaluations some time ago and after talking to a few people I don't think I found one that was satisfied with their evaluation and the way it was handled. I really don't think it's the employees either, since before our current manager everyone or just about everyone seemed pretty happy. However, it was my manager and even though I thought that he was wrong and it should have been done differently I had to respect his position and not slip into complaining and let it affect my job. I have to say that it was pretty hard. But in the end, I still think that you should treat your boss as such, no matter how bad he/she might be.

  quote
I had very mixed feelings yesterday when I heard on the news that the phrase "under God" was ruled by a court to be unconstitutional. I could actually see that it was a fairly logical conclusion, that someone who doesn't believe in God may find it offensive to be forced to say it. On the other hand, it is very frustrating to see how such tiny minority can change such big part of our country. In the end I came to conclusion that we ought to give up on the idea of trying to please everyone. After all, there will always be someone offended by something. How about just finding something that works and sticking with it? On this note, here is a quote from one of our forefathers.
"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. Do not ever let anyone claim to be a true American patriot if they ever attempt to separate Religion from politics."
George Washington
  PCs
I finally finished Mark's computer. After spending what seems like many many weeks trying to get it to work, my workbench is clean and I can start working on my next projects. There were a couple of funny things in the end. At first I could not figure out why Adobe Premiere would play videos choppy at times. The worst thing was that it was intermittent! After replacing his NIC, shuffling cards around to change IRQs that are being shared and reading trough hundreds of support messages on Adobe's website, by chance I found the problem.

Turned out that if the camera is on while it's connected to the computer through Firewire, Premiere plays videos choppy because it has to output the video to the camera at the same time! Oh, I was so frustrated! After we got that to work, I ran into another one. This time, it would not export the edited video back to tape. After messing around for a while, I was back to Adobe's Support Forums. While reading through some posts and looking for something really complicated, I was ashamed to find the solution that was so simple!

This time, when I was setting up the camcorder for recording, I switched it to Camera mode, figuring that the Camera is what you use for regular recording, so exporting to tape should use the same thing. Turned out that I should have used the VTR mode, same one used for tape playback. After all R in the VTR stands for Recorder! Oh well, at least now it's all working fine and Mark can't blame his lack of advancement with movie editing on not having a good computer to work on.
  2002.06.13
Well, I'm back again and this time I even managed to keep up with my biweekly update schedule. My back has been bugging me for the last few weeks and it's gotten really bad in the last two weeks. I can sit for about 30-45 minutes and walk no more than 10 minutes, before the pain gets really bad. The only comfortable position is to be laying down...

Chuda managed to hurt her back last weekend, hers was so bad that she couldn't move at all. Luckily it didn't last long, some rest and chiropractor visits took care of it. I did have to stay home and take care of Samuel for a few days though and that didn't help my back at all. Good thing we had some people that were willing to help us [Mom, brother and sister, thanks guys!]

To make the long story short, I will be taking Monday and Tuesday off and will do nothing but rest, hopefully that will help my back somewhat. I've already repented for my lack of exercise and my bad eating habits. I can't really do much about the exercise until my back is better, but at least I started to eat better.

  quote
"Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distrubutin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony. LISTEN if I went round sayin' I was Emperor 'cause some moistened bink lobbed a scimitar at me they'd lock me up and throw away the key."
Monty Python and The Holy Grail
  PCs
As much as I don't like upgrading Windows by installing new version on top of old one, I wanted to try upgrading Win 2000 to Win XP since a lot of the code should be the same. I thought about doing it on my home PC but then I was given an opportunity to do the same thing at work. Well, the experience leads me to believe that I'm still correct insisting on installing any new version of Windows from scratch.

Upgrade process seemed to go without a hitch, in fact I was even warned that one of the older apps that I had installed wouldn't work with XP or had issues with it [it was an older Novell client, 4.80, downloading 4.83 took care of it.] After that, upgrade went about the same way as installing from scratch, but the overall responsiveness of the system after the upgrade and a few issues like getting errors when trying to install some Windows Critical updates from windowsupdate.microsoft.com made me want to install XP from scratch. After doing so, things seemed to go a lot smoother.

For the past couple of weeks I've been working on Mark's new computer. It's taking quite a bit longer than we thought. First, there were some RAM issues, then it was a bad OS disk and now I'm trying to get Adobe Premiere 5.1 to work with his digital camcorder. I'm starting to think that he may have to upgrade to 6.0, if he wants it to work with his Firewire card. Apparently Premiere can be picky about those and also about Windows codecs.

Using Windows Movie Maker or ULead Video app that came bundled with his card work fine, but when movies are saved and imported into Premiere, it just won't read them, claiming that the compression is of unknown format. The only way I was able to get it to read the file, was to save it with no compression, but then it takes 3 times as much room which on his 80GB drive would give him only 1 hour and 40 minutes instead of almost 6 hours if he was to use the standard DV compression.
  2002.05.30
Greetings once again! This time it was a really long time since the last update and if I remember correctly, it was the last time or the time before that I said I was going to work on the frequency of these updates. Sadly, I don't really have anything to say that would excuse me for this intermission so I will say the only thing that I can - thanks for putting up with me.

  job
A truly great thing happened at work a few weeks ago. Our management decided to assign specific projects to people, instead of having everyone try to learn a little of everything and having us all work on a problem. I think Ford figured that one out some time ago and implemented it at his factories, but I'm not complaining, better late than never.

My project is to help secure and standardize workstations using Novell ZENworks for Desktops [ZfD]. Out of all the projects that were assigned, this was one of the more interesting ones, so I was pretty happy. Another good news is that surprisingly I was given enough time to make it work and was sent to a class! If you work in our department, you know why I was so surprised :-] My previous experience with Windows 95/98/2000/XP and taking this class give me a pretty good foundation to do this project so it should be a lot of fun.

There are two other good things that come out of this. One, I will get to get out to the school sites and work together with Help Desk guys. I have a lot of good memories of working together with all of you guys and am looking forward to doing it again. Second, I get to try different shell enhancing/altering apps. One that I'm particularly interested in is Object Desktop, by Stardock.net. Check out some of the screenshots of desktops created with it.

Here are two screenshots that I liked. Tech is for my own PC and School is for labs/libraries and possibly even some of the school offices, considering how lost they can get at times in regular Windows GUI. Here is a second shot of Tech, this time in its full resolution, 1280x1024. One of the best things is, with ZfD we can assign a certain look to either a particular workstation, or a user. This way they will get the same look no matter where they login. Hopefully it works better than Micro$oft's roaming profiles :-]

  quote
"You must chop down the mightiest tree in the forest with --- A HERRING!"
Monty Python and The Holy Grail
  PCs
Sometime ago I met someone through email, Cybrojoker. After emailing each other back and forth we went to a computer show together and picked some parts for his new PC. The PC is going to be a gaming/entertainment center. He was able to put the PC together with a friend but there are some other modifications that he would like to do to it, so we may work on that together or at least I will get to see what the final product looks like.

Mark bought himself some parts to upgrade his aging PII 350. So far it was somewhat of a pain to install the OS'. 98 wouldn't install until we switched his RAM and now XP won't install either, reporting a corrupt file. Since I haven't used this particular XP CD before, it could be that the disk is bad. I will have to install it from a different CD and use his CD key. Hopefully that will take care of that problem. The PC looks very nice [same Antec case as mine, just white, not black] and with an Athlon XP 1800, GeForce 3 and Abit KR7A-133 motherboard performs very well too, as you can imagine.

Next in line is Yuri with his HP laptop and installing Slackware on it, then installing another hard drive in my server and mirroring them, then installing Netware 6 on my server and finally setting up a fast Linux workstation for home, on my older Athlon 700, 512MB. So far as you can see I have plenty of projects. Oh yeah, at work between working with ZfD and any other projects I'm given, I'm also trying to understand Linux boot sequence, compile a kernel with Compaq Smart RAID support and create a bootable floppy/CD with that kernel. Once that's done, I can hopefully get that Compaq Proliant 5000 Pentium Pro 200x2 up and running with Slack and install NDS on it.

  games
Currently I'm playing Return to Castle Wolfenstein [thanks Yuri,] Dungeon Siege [thanks Jon] and finishing up my old Quake II game. Yeah, it's still fun and I just want to know what awaits me in the end. In between all this, I get my behind kicked once in a while by Jon in Unreal Tournament. Maybe I will get back to Counter Strike sometime soon too. By the way, Dungeon Siege has the best 3D graphics in an RPG, but the quests are a bit rare and boring and voices could be a lot more convincing. I guess I just got spoiled with Baldurs Gate II and Blizzard's games. Blizzard may not have the best graphics at times, but they do an excellent job with sound/voice/video.

Thanks to Mark's persistence, I've actually gained another hobby, guns. After we went to a shooting range and I shot his 12 gauge shotgun, I'm really hooked! I wonder if it's just a phase or if it will be one of my non-computer hobbies. Playing Counter Strike after shooting a real shotgun is a totally different experience. Turns out that some of the guys at work have their own guns too, so maybe we can all get out to the shooting range sometime. OK, I hope you enjoy the rest of this week and the weekend and hopefully you won't have to wait long until the next update.
  2002.03.06
Hail warriors! It has been quite a long time since I posted an update and be sure that my behind has already been kicked for it. During one of my conversations with my best friend [God], He kicked my butt for being lazy and blaming it on Samuel. It did help Chuda and I quite a bit to forget about everything else for a couple of months and just focus on the baby, learning how to take care of him and taking a break in between. However Samuel will be 3 months old on the 7th and it is a lot easier to take care of him now. In part because he is older and sleeps longer at night and in part because of some experience that we gained in the last couple of months.

To make the long story short, I really should have gotten back to my duties a few weeks ago. That includes keeping updates of this website coming at least every other week. He also suggested to write a few articles on different subjects and organize this site a bit. Our "mother-church" that is based in Lithuania [former Baltic republic of USSR] will be opening an office here in Sacramento and will focus more on ministering to English speaking Russian youth here.

I'm already thinking about a design for the new website. Oh and by the way, I ordered the new Adobe LiveMotion 2, which should arrive shortly. Considering that the name is New Generation International and we will be focusing on the youth, I think the site should have a lot more animations than the old one. The problem is how to keep it interesting and not overdo it, because then it will be just cheesy. I will have to run it by some guys in church and work [William, Patty, Jon.]

  quote
I found the following quote a few days ago and wished I would have found it a few years back, that way I wouldn't have to learn it the hard way...
"Never mistake a clear view for a short distance."
  job
Well, at work there were a few fun projects that I was involved in lately. Since we will be moving to a new building sometime this year [and for those who know, I'm not holding my breath for this summer :-], we have to clean up and get rid of some older equipment. One of the things I had to do, was to combine data from a few of the old servers into one newer one. Messing around with RAID cards, drive arrays and installing NetWare was fun!

As a side effect of that, I was able to put parts from 2 old servers and make one that would be a bit faster. After I'm done with my main projects and as soon as I get a little free time, I can start working on linux.scusd.edu [dual Pentium Pro 200, 256+ RAM, RAID] which should be a little more useful than the old donated PC I was using before.

While we were cleaning up, I also found an old Toshiba laptop that had a BIOS password on it, that no one was able to get rid of and the owner decided to give it up and buy a new one. After messing around with it for some time, I'm still not able to get rid of that password! The only way to do it appears to go to authorized Toshiba service center, show proof of ownership and pay them to do it! As you can imagine, I'm not about to pay money for an old laptop, I would rather save some up for a new one...

Figuring that it would be thrown away anyway, I decided to take it apart completely and disconnect anything resembling a battery. After keeping it disconnected overnight it still didn't work! So then I really took it apart [to the point where I'm not even sure that I can put it back together] and still didn't find any other batteries or jumpers. At this point its carcass is laying on my desk, unplugged from any batteries for over 3 days. If this doesn't work by Friday, I will just keep the LCD for some cool project maybe.

  linux
My Linux projects are moving along. At work I'm getting ready to build that linux.scusd.edu to be shared and tested and I already built myself geekbox.scusd.edu to use as my own box, next to my DOS 6.22. Once linux.scusd.edu is up and running, I want to try installing eDirectory [new marketing name for NetWare Directory Services, NDS] and see how it behaves. If in fact we will be able to manage users, groups and filesystem rights using regular NDS tools, next step will be to try it on a production box.

I've also rebuilt the kernel [in fact about a dozen times by now :-] on a few different boxes, installed Slackware Linux on an HP laptop a couple of times, learned how to get 2 NICs working together, and how to build kernel with modules. I'm actually starting to like this now! I knew that fun would come after pushing through the boring stages. Hmm, that reminds me of marriage. At times there are moments that are let's say, "not extremely exciting :-]" but if you can live through those, old fun comes back and with it comes some new fun, too!

linux.rightchoicestudios.com box is coming along as well. It is that one that I got 2 NICs working on and now I'm ready to take it out to Gen's office and get sendmail, Samba and firewall to work. Once it's all working, we can upgrade his current Win2000 Advanced Server to a more reliable OS! :-P

  games
After playing Dark Age of Camelot for a while, William gave me Jumpgate, an online space simulation game. Pushing through the boredom and frustration of crashing into the station about 10 times I actually started to like it after a day or two. It's a lot smaller than Everquest or DAoC but the developers seem committed to it more too, there are actually GMs [Game Masters] in the game, that can play as the enemy if they want to and also help you along. And they are working on new features which come for free, instead of forcing you to pay another $30 on top of the $10 that you pay monthly.

Jon S. was nice enough [or evil enough, haven't decided yet] to give me Pool of Radiance. Now I see why some reviewers renamed it to Poop of Radiance! First of all, you can only install it on your C: drive. Then, when enough people complained, they released a patch which allowed you to install it somewhere else, but you still had to have enough disk space on C: to install it, even though you were installing it on a different partition! It's crazy, fire the guy that created that installer!

Hoping that the game would be worth the troubles, I decided to resize my partitions to make some room and install the game. Silly me, I should have thought that the developers would pay just as much attention to the game as they did to the installer! First of all, after backing up all 3 of my partitions and resizing them, I found out that the backup of my 3rd partition, with 14GB worth of apps was corrupted! I lost all my apps and all because of someone not thinking ahead a little, agh!

Call me silly, but even after all that I still haven't learned my lesson. I installed Poop of Radiance! Wasting over an hour to go through a tutorial, I spent another 20 minutes creating my character just to enter the game and die within the first 3 minutes! It wasn't something I did either, I started the game over about 3 times just to die within the first 5 minutes again! Whoever was responsible for balancing the difficulty of the monsters should also be fired, along with the guy responsible for the installation utility! Needless to say, that thing lasted no more than the time needed to uninstall it.

Something good did come out of all this though. Now I run a lot more apps from my server and I found a game in my pile that I haven't played yet, Deus Ex. I've been playing it for about 3 days now and it is a lot of fun! Reminds me quite a bit of System Shock 2, a first person RPG set in the future and with better graphics.

Well, you guys enjoy your week and you should hear from me in the next 2 weeks or so.
  2002.01.19
Hello world!
Greetings all! I hope the start of this new year went well for you but in case it hasn't been going well, there is time for it to get better still. I am glad to be back at work, I missed all the guys (and gals) there. Having some projects other than changing diapers is kind of nice too :-] Here is another picture of Samuel as I promised. He was just dried, given to Chuda to hold and then was put down to be measured and weighed. He was about 45 minutes old I think...
  PCs
I'm practically done reinstalling all my software that I used to have on my older PC and this far I'm very pleased with my new PC. I was able to overclock the 1.4GHz Athlon to 1.53GHz [just for the heck of it :-] I think I should be able to overclock it even more, but 1.53 is the highest speed I can set it at without overclocking my PCI and AGP busses.

After making sure that everything is working well at this speed, I can play some more with the speed settings and tweaking the BIOS. At this speed the CPU isn't even braking a sweat. I checked CPU temperature while playing Unreal Tournament at 1280x1024 and the monitor shows that there is at least 10 more degrees to go before I would start to overheat it.

I've heard that ABIT makes great motherboards for overclockers and now I can see what everyone's been raving about. They have tons of settings to adjust in the BIOS, without having to mess with jumpers or dip switches. Everything from CPU/RAM bus speed, CPU multiplier, PCI/AGP bus speeds and RAM timings to regulating the voltage supplied to the CPU! This is like overclockers heaven :-]

I also built a rack in my home office for all my PCs, so now I can have all the servers and test PCs I want, without tripping over cables all the time. I could have just taken some old ones that we were throwing away at work, but I think the one I built is better. I made it out of wood to match the walls and ceiling that are made with wood paneling. It also gave me an opportunity to connect a small shelf to it, so my receiver, CD player and scanner don't have to be stacked up on top of my PC and clutter my desk.

  linux
In my free time at work I've been building some Linux servers. I rebuilt the one I was already running for some test stuff, decided to use Slackware instead of SuSE. SuSE is nice, but it seems to be geared more towards beginners and I just couldn't let myself be considered one of them :-P Actually I do like Slackware a lot better than any other one I've used so far. More control I guess...

Some time ago, I built a Windows 2000 server for a friend and then installed Active Directory and M$ Exchange on it. Well, so far it's only been a pain in the ***. I admit that probably a big part of it is my lack of experience with those products but still, even after reading a lot of help files, knowledge base articles and other stuff, I wasn't able to get it to work consistently. After all this, I suggested that we either move to some other products or I give up.

I had no interest in learning Exchange or Active Directory [I think there are much better products out there and from what I've read, I'm not alone.] The only other two options are Novell NetWare and GroupWise or Linux and sendmail. Considering that I'm willing to learn Linux and in fact am doing that anyway and that Novell solutions would cost close to $1,000, we decided to go with Linux.

So at this point I'm setting up a test Linux server that would act as a firewall, mail server and a web server. If things go well, we will move it from an older Pentium box to his almost brand new Toshiba server (dual PIII 550, 1GHz RAM, dual channel Ultra3 SCSI RAID with Cheetah drives.) If all is well, Linux, sendmail, Apache and Samba should serve him much better than Win2000 has so far.

  games
After playing "Fallout Tactics:Brotherhood Of Steel" for a while, I decided to go back and finish Baldur's Gate II expansion. I'm almost at the very end, just finishing up a few last quests and am getting ready for my final battle. After that Jon was going to give me Pool Of Radiance. I've heard a lot of bad things about it, but many say that a lot of the problems were fixed with a patch, so I'm willing to give it a try.

If that won't hold my RPG interest for long, I think I will just have to pay $10 a month and play Dark Age Of Camelot. Oh, on the FPS front, I bought a copy of Quake 3 and Shinjuru was going to loan me Q3 expansion too, so between that and Counter-Strike, I should be set for a while, at least until Quake 4 or Doom 3 come out.

I hope you enjoy your weekend and I will try to stick to biweekly updates from now on. Weekly ones are getting to be too much for now, let's see how this works.
  2002.01.01
OK, enough slacking off, time for an update. Those of you who have kids can imagine all the reasons why I didn't update for a while. Those of you that can't imagine, let's just get to the fun stuff. You don't want to hear my excuses and I don't want to make them up :-]
First of all, (belated) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! God has been miraculously good to us (as a family) this past year and we are really looking forward to what will happen in 2002.

As a country we have a terrible act of evil to deal with and possibly reevaluate some of the things that we do and the way we do them. It is refreshing to see people care for each other and put some things in perspective. We pray that the guilty will be punished and that we will make the most out of what happened.

Samuel doing what he does best.
Selfishly getting back to ourselves, we have a wonderful news! Samuel Oleg K. was born on December 7th, 2001 at 2:30PM. By now his Mom is doing much better and is practically 100% back to normal and the boy himself is doing very well, gaining weight, learning how to get our attention and doing some lung exercises at the same time.

Being there when he made his appearance was something truly unforgettable. It really convinced me that presence of the baby's father at birth is a very important thing, both for the mother and the father himself. We have a few more pictures that I will post as soon as I get my scanner to work. I'm still overwhelmed by the whole experience and by sudden realization that I'm a father to someone so tiny and wonderful...

  quote
Instead of a quote, here is a song "Youth Of The Nation" from album Satellite, by P.O.D. You can listen to part of the song on CDnow.com. Sadly the preview is not long enough to hear the chorus...
	Last day of the rest of my life
	I wish I would've known
	'Cause I didn't kiss my mama goodbye

	I didn't tell her that I loved her and how much I care
	Or thank my pops for all the talks
	And all the wisdom he shared

	Unaware, I just did what I always do
	Everyday, the same routine
	Before I skate off to school

	But who knew that this day wasn't like the rest
	Instead of taking a test
	I took two to the chest

	Call me blind, but I didn't see it coming
	Everybody was running
	But I couldn't hear nothing

	Except gun blasts, it happened so fast
	I don't really know this kid
	Even though I sit by him in class

	Maybe this kid was reaching out for love
	Or maybe for a moment
	He forgot who he was
	Or maybe this kid just wanted to be hugged
	Whatever it was
	I know it's because

	We are, We are, the youth of the nation

	Little Suzy, she was only twelve
	She was given the world
	With every chance to excel

	Hang with the boys and hear the stories they tell
	She might act kind of proud
	But no respect for herself

	She finds love in all the wrong places
	The same situations
	Just different faces

	Changed up her pace since her daddy left her
	Too bad he never told her
	She deserved much better

	We are, We are, the youth of the nation

	Johnny boy always played the fool
	He broke all the rules
	So you would think he was cool

	He was never really one of the guys
	No matter how hard he tried
	Often thought of suicide

	It's kind of hard when you ain't got no friends
	He put his life to an end
	They might remember him then

	You cross the line and there's no turning back
	Told the world how he felt
	With the sound of a gat

	We are, We are, the youth of the nation

	Who's to blame for the lives that tragedies claim
	No matter what you say
	It don't take away the pain

	That I feel inside, I'm tired of all the lies
	Don't nobody know why
	It's the blind leading the blind

	I guess that's the way the story goes
	Will it ever make sense
	Somebody's got to know

	There's got to be more to life than this
	There's got to be more to everything
	I thought exists

	We are, We are, the youth of the nation
  PCs
After adjusting to having a baby in the house and sleeping only a couple of hours at a time, I started thinking about computers again.
Computer show was on the 16th of December, I had some money in my allowance, so after a little thinking I decided to upgrade my computer. As a result of that, at this moment I'm typing this update on a brand new PC (AMD Athlon 1.4GHz, 1GB RAM, GeForce2 GTS, Sound Blaster Audigy.)

At first I was going to get a top of the line system (DDR RAM, latest motherboard, Athlon XP processor, etc.) However comparing the prices to products that were top of the line only 6 months ago, I decided to buy that instead. DDR RAM is almost twice as much as PC133 RAM (plus I already had about 512MB of PC133 extra.) Quality DDR motherboards that would take Athlon XP CPUs are $125-150 while PC133 motherboards that max out at Athlon 1.4MHz are $100 or less.

Video card I bought a couple of months ago, so I just decided to keep it. I also bought Sound Blaster Audigy to replace my Sound Blaster Live! card, since I found it for a pretty good price. My Live! doesn't support Dolby Digital 5.1 and I wanted to connect it to my DD receiver "for the ultimate sound experience" :-] I still don't have it working though, need to get some cables at Fry's or Radio Shack.

I also got a brand new case since I was running out of room for my peripherals. To tell the truth I'm very impressed with this case. Everything is very accessible, plenty of fans, a fan that blows on the hard drives, rails for the CD-ROMs, nice heavy steel with rounded edges. The best part of all, it was only $75 without power supply! The case is pretty popular, you can get it at any decent store. Fry's might be expensive but internet retailers are pretty competitive. Try CaseDepot.com or ColorCase.com.
Ancient History

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