Saturday, August 27, 2011

Is this an Autumn I see before me?

I dunno, let me check.
No it's not. But I suspect that as summer occasionally appears early for 24 hours at a time in April, Autumn probably does much the same thing. Last night for example. Very cloudy and quite rainy, for most of the night actually.
And today, weirdly seems to be one of those Autumnal bright-sunshine/cold-breeze days, where the shadows are 10 degrees cooler than the light. I like days like this. They bring back happy memories, though I'm not sure what of. More a memory of a general sensation of happiness perhaps. Not sure why. Oh well.

So yes, computing.Well, my new case arrived a short time ago and I wasted no time in putting my system into it. It feels like a different computer, which is bizarre because the only thing that's changed is the case. But that's not going to be the case for long :-).

I've been on the receiving end of remarkable amounts of generosity from various people actually, where computer hardware is concerned. I guess college was coming up to the end of its budgetary year or something, and wanted to spend what little money they had left so they weren't under-budget, as at one point in the lab they had piles of stuff in what has since become known as "freebie corner".

Among the items which I claimed (I was given first dibs) were a trio of Cisco wireless access points, which I figured would come in useful for my CCNA (though I suspect they might need power over Ethernet which may be a small issue because I might not be able to power them!), an old (it had gone beige!) but fully functioning monochrome laser printer, and a shiny, mint-condition (but apparently obsolete and incompatible with windows 7) 600dpi flatbed CIS Scanner.
Having told my colleages of the bounty available in the lab, they came along and took the two remaining scanners, and I traded one of my wireless access points with a friend in return for a load of goodwill and a clear conscience (I don't need three of them anyway)*.

The laser printer worked flawlessly, and even works over USB so I don't need to sod about with serial cables and whatnot. The scanner on the other hand came with zero windows 7 support, with the manufacturers and Microsoft insisting that the scanner was incompatible with windows 7. It looks like the manufacturers just gave up on the scanner and its owners altogether.
Fortunately, other owners of the scanners weren't so willing to be left high and dry, and eventually with their help I was actually able to get the scanner working properly. Here is an incredible picture to prove it, courtesy of my ickle nephew:

I think he's coming on as an artist - he's certainly good when it comes to attention to detail. So yeah, the scanner now works, which I'm pleased about. I'm pretty happy with the laser printer as well, as it prints pretty fast, and 1200dpi printouts look pretty cool.
The only downside is that it's gone slightly beige, which is a bit annoying, but hey, it didn't cost me anything so I have no moral authority to complain whatsoever hehe. I'm still wondering how I might get it slightly less beige though. Maybe some oven cleanery stuff would work, I don't know. I'm not sure I want to risk destroying the printer to find out, heh.

Finally, the rebuilding of my computer received a huge boost earlier this week when my bro brought over most of an entire system that he had been using before he went over to the dark side. I'm ordering some new shiny bits from ebay, and in the next week or two I hope to rebuild my machine completely. The only thing left in it that's in it now will be the optical drive (one on the "new" machine doesn't work) and the secondary storage drive (which has all my documents on).

Once my bro brings over the sata drive he's combing through for any useful left-over bits, I am going to use it as my primary drive, and I can crack on with reinstalling everything to the new machine, which should be quite a lot of fun. So yeah.

Oh, and as for the spider, I ended up running out of the local shop carrying one of our old friends in my hands, to stop the spider from freaking out/being squished by the hordes of local kids that hang around outside the local shop for no good reason.
Said spider was then dumped around the corner out of sight and last seen wandering indignantly (but 3-dimensionally) off. I then wandered back in and paid for my shopping, as if nothing had happened hehe.
So yeah, revising for exams, rescuing spiders and planning new computers. It's been a fun week :-).

Some pickatures.












*Said friend is apparently keeping the still-unused wireless access point in a box in his cellar, having found out to his disappointment that while on a very superficial level, his wireless internet dongle and a wireless access point could be said to work along the same incredibly broad lines, he would not be able to substitute one for the other, and in fact the wireless access point would be of no use to him whatsoever.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Frantic Disposition...

23:03 Monday 22nd August - 34 and a half hours before turning up for the exam...

This is just a little placekeeper that another - two or three day older - version of me is going to write an addition to in two or three days time.

Hi older me, I hope you passed the super mega important exam on wednesday.

Yes folks, I'm frantically revising for a very important exam, and to say I'm nervous is an understatement.
Actually it's not.

I am nervous, but I am also quietly confident. It is very very very important that I pass this exam, but I've done the practice test (which is apparently harder) and scored 15% higher than the pass mark, so hopefully I'll have something to celebrate on wednesday. If I do celebrate on wednesday, I may not write an addition to this after all. I might be too busy consuming alcoholic beverages and listening to music. Who can say?

If all goes well I'll get back to you on the thursday, with a hangover, some computer related stuff, and a story about a spider :-).

Wish me luck!

UPDATE: 19:01, the following day. 14 and a half hours before turning up for the exam...

I just finished my second attempt of the practice exam after two nights and a day of revision.
It's not very often I throw my hands in the air and scream "YES, HAHAHAHA!!" at the top of my voice, but after a mock exam score of 98.1%, I have probably crossed the line to "loudly confident", heh.
Still nervous though. But hey, let's see how it goes.


PART TWO - 15:08, 26th August...

Well, the day eventually crept up on me, and off I went. We spent most of the morning going over the questions in the practice test that a lot of people found difficult. After a quick break, we started all working together on one particularly problematic problem that - although I got right in the test exam - was a source of concern for me.

A short time later, we went through who wanted to do the exam that day, and who wanted to leave it until the day after.
Surprisingly only one of us decided to leave it until the day after, and the rest of us cracked on with it.

A cursory initial look over the questions revealed that despite assurances to the contrary, the real exam would be much harder than the practice test. But now I'd said I'd do t, it was a timed exam and I couldn't sit feeling sorry for myself. I ended up really struggling with a couple. You know how it is, the revision materials prepare you to answer any one of a thousand questions, and you just have to hope that the 50 they ask are among the ones you've prepared for.

Fortunately, quite a lot of the ones I got right are indeed ones that I'd studied in the days leading up to the exam, and although I was stumped by a couple of questions for a while and even had a couple of "What is this I don't even?" questions that continued to infuriate me all the way to the end of the exam.

A minute before the timed end of the exam I figured that the two remaining questions that I had guessed answers for had got me for the past hour and a half and wouldn't be solved with a last minute flash of inspiration, so I submitted the exam and resigned myself to the inevitable score that didn't reflect how hard I'd studied over the past couple of days.

Except I guess it did, because I got 90%. A healthy pass :-). So that's okay then. The stuff about the spider will have to wait :P.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Beer Madness

PART 1 - THE START (WHAT ELSE?)

So, Jack's birthday went pretty well. The day before the "do", our tutor says "oh by the way, tomorrow is a catching-up day where you all get together, sit around, read dilbert comics and complain at how unreasonable customers can be".
Actually he didn't, but now he's getting to know us as a class, I have a feeling that's what he will say in future.

PART 1A - BACKGROUNDY BIT OF KNOWLEDGE

You see, as part of our course, alongside our CCNA, we have another couple of, well, sub courses if you like, that we have to do as well.
The problem is, to actually do the coursework for these sub-courses, we need to demonstrate things like; "Using screenshots where appropriate, demonstrate the ability to search for, find, download and rename a software patch". Yes, really. On wednesday we were learning the intricacies of Manchester/Phase Encoding, and on the thursday we progressed to the lofty heights of "and then I clicked on 'rename' on the menu and here is a screenshot to prove it".
I would actually say that correctly creating, editing, saving and inserting a screenshot into a word document requires more skill than renaming a downloaded file, but hey.

Further to this, we don't actually have download privileges at college, so we can't demonstrate anything except our failure to l334 h4x a firewall. So instead of getting on with our sub-course courseworkyness, when the CCNA tutor isn't CCNA tutoring us, we sit around, read dilbert, and moan about bad experiences with customers.

Except this time we didn't. Being thursday, we set off to one of the local pubs.
And there we stayed, having a wide variety of interesting drinks including (for me) beer, cider, corvoisier (brandy), and a rather stunning cocktail called a fireball.

50ml of finest cinnamon whisky in a pint glass, topped up with apple juice. The result is an alcoholic drink that tastes (and smells) like raw liquid Christmas :-).

So the night turned out quite well. Lots of alcohol was consumed, lots of pizza was eaten (mine was liberally covered in the hottest chilli sauce I have ever tasted - alcohol seemed to take the edge off the discomfort, and while I don't like hot food, you'll do anything to impress your mates after 4 hours of drinking - so while I was sat there with my hot pizza grinning like a cheshire cat, the other guys were backing away from the table to stop the chilli fumes corroding their drinks glasses), and no one got into trouble despite the fact that one of the elders of our party made the mistake of turning up with an empty stomach after very little sleep, and quickly became the most intoxicated person I've seen outside of a cop show as a result.
To stop him from drunkenly losing them, other members of the party went home with his watch/mobile phone/sunglasses/backpack/expensive multitool/mountain bike, and apparently the poor dude woke up in absolute panic the day after wondering where all his stuff was.
He has it all back now and has promised not to drink on an empty stomach again :-).

PART TWO, OTHER STUFF...

So the course is coming on quite well, though I'd be lying if I said that anyone was finding it easy. I do however, seem to be coping quite well and have already got the practical part of the end of semester exam down to a fine art.

I had wanted this entry to be longer, but I've left it hanging in mid air for so long that I've forgotten most of what I wanted to write about, so busy have I been with college work (no really).

Hopefully, the next entry will include more computery type stuff :-). Let's see how things go hey.