While I was never a Boy Scout, I was a cub scout. I guess I learned to be prepared while in the Cub Scouts.

Recently, our church had a revival. It started with two sermons on Saturday night, three on Sunday, and one each on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights.

As the “official” sound ( pa system ) person for the church, I was asked to record each sermon for distribution on CD.

Our Sound room is equipped with a tower computer and a firewire connection to a multi-channel mixer. Getting a digitized recording was not a problem. My main concern is some sort of failure whether mechanical, electrical or human might prevent me getting a recording of all the sermons.

I devised a plan.

My main recording would be on the computer. My secondary recording would be on a cassette deck with audio fed from the mixer to the deck and a third recording would be on my Sony digital 8 camcorder with audio fed from the mixer through a special interface that I designed that reduced the mixer level down to microphone level. All equipment, except the camcorder which had it’s own battery, was attached to a small UPS.

The results were:

  • Main recording was not hampered. Complete recording of all the sermons
  • Tape deck recording was only hampered by the speaker going past the length of the tape, twice.
  • Video recording was very good except one where human failure entered and I lost the first couple of minutes of the sermon.

Now to burn about 200 cds of the sermons.

Recently on the family email thread, the discussion of book reading was started. A variety of books were thrown into the emails, ranging from Stephen King to H.G Wells and in between.

My own list was varied. I read my bible each day. Occasionally, I will start on a book. If I get engrossed in it. I may complete the book within a week.

There is one book that I am working on. Can’t get really into, but don’t want to quit reading it. It’s a pulitzer prize winning book, “The making of the Atomic Bomb” by Richard Rhodes. It’s rather long and detailed.

I am good for about 10 pages of reading before I put it down. Once I complete it I want to read several books by H.G. Wells, one that is slightly connected with the history of the making of the atomic bomb — “The world set free”.

More on reading books later.

I am in the process of setting up a computer system in our church library. One of the first things I thought about in this process is “Locking down the computers”. I decided to observe a local county library’s way of doing the same.

The library is just down the street from my home. This is a small library — Only 10 computers linked to their wired network. They have just installed wifi, but I am not going to check it for now. Just want to see how the “protected ” computers are setup.

Observations:
1. All are running windows XP professional.
2. all have sound enabled
3. all have usb ports to allow you to save your work ( assuming you have a memory stick of some sort )
4. Limited programs are loaded.
5. start/run is disabled. no external bat, com or exe files are allowed.

There are some deficiencies noted (so far ):
1. java applications are allowed if accessed through a web page
a. This means that if you create a web page on a memory stick that has java application within it, you can use your browser to access this application. Voila! An application that you can control.

I have tried the following java application types with good success.
1. ssh client
2. ftp client
3. file browser

None of these cause any harm to their system. I am trying to think of other applications that would be useful if my system at home died.

More on this is a future post.

Over fifty years ago, in my high school years, we had a unique english teacher. No one seemed to like her. When you had papers to do, she would praise you verbally and ripped the paper apart when grading it.

You were never sure of what your grade would be. I had two or three years with this same teacher. Each year, I would shake my head with some degree of exasperation when I found out who my english teacher would be.

“I will be glad when I am out of High School and away from Mrs. …. “. I know that I said that more than once while still in high school.

After high school, I went off to technical school in western North Carolina. It was really surprising to me that I felt that I knew more than our English teacher at that school. Yes, once I was away from high school, I realized how well my high school english teacher had prepared me ( and most of the rest of the class as well ).

I need to look her up and tell her “Thank you”.

You have heard it said that you should back up your data on you pc. I am here to affirm that. My webserver that brings you this weblog is a prime example of non-backup of the data.

A few days ago, I noticed that none of my websites coming from my webserver were on line. I suspect that the computer had failed to restart after a power failure. I found out differently. I could not start the computer with my present hard drive. It made weird noises and failed to boot.

The first thing I did was reroute my webpages to an external site just to have the front page of each website available on the internet as an emergency display. Next I started to troubleshoot.

Through the use of SPINRITE, I was able to repair the hard drive. I still could not get the hard drive to work in the webserver pc. Final result is that the hard drive controller has gone amuck.

I put the hard drive in another pc and did a direct copy of the hard drive with all applications, configurations, and web data. I also copied all of my webserver data to another pc hard drive and will continue to do so.

One of the major problems with pc’s and hard drives is that unless you save your data in multiple drives, save it on hard copy, you are open to disaster.

Formulate a back up plan and stick with it. One day you will thank me for it.

Recently, my brother-in-law visited relatives in Washington, DC. When he was about to leave for home, they presented him with a computer that didn’t work. He brought it to me with the instructions to “fix it if it is practical, otherwise, pull any parts out that you may want and throw away the rest”.

When I first looked at it, I noticed that the cdrom and floppy drive were missing. It also had the sound of loose parts inside. When I opened it, I found both the cdrom and floppy drive inside, unsecured. Wires were ripped from the front panel, possibly from the loose drives tugging on them.

I cleaned the outside of the case and blew out the dust from inside using compressed air and began my visual inspection.

I have already decide that this is not a practical fixer up, Repair costs (parts and labor) are already over $200. This is mainly a challenge to me. I want to see how far I can get with this pc.

Here is a list of “obstacles” within this computer.

1. ripped wiring between the front case and the motherboard

2. password protected bios (unknown to me or my brother in law)

3. password protected login on win-xp/home (unknown to me or my brother in law)

4. unknown motherboard ( I looked everywhere — both sides of motherboard, still no manufacturer identity)

5. Loud noises from Hard drive

6. Need to re-install cd rom and floppy drive

7. one defective usb port out of two available

Using some of my software tools, I was able to determine that the processor was 1.6ghz pentium 4 with 256mb of ram. Hard drive is a 17gb hard drive.

I now have it working. So far, I have substituted a new power supply and because of the ripped wires it will need a new case, and the hard drive is making noises like it may go at anytime.

I rejuvenated the hard drive with spinrite, but would not recommend continuing it’s use. I called my brother in law with the news. He has decide to pay for the repairs, so my challenge has become profit ( a little — anyway ). If I had billed my brother-in-law as a regular customer instead of giving him the “relative discount”, it would not have been practical to fix.

I have learned techniques that will be useful in other repairs and in troubleshooting. I have made a little money, plus my brother-in-law is happy! The challenge was worth it.

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