I answered another Craigslist ad this morning, for a piece of hardware we’ve been dreaming about for years: a tabloid-sized color laser printer. Now, some of you may recall an earlier post where I’d bartered some services for just such a beast, and you’re thinking, doesn’t he have one of these already? What an idiot. Well, we do have one of these, but it’s not as good as the one I just bought.

This one is a Color LaserJet 8550DN, which is the top-of-the-line circa 2001 or so. What makes it better than the Xerox we’ve got is duplex printing, IP-based networking (as opposed to AppleTalk only), and three extra pickup trays for various sized media. It even came with its own stand. The consumables are about the same price, and this unit actually prints out an estimate of remaining consumable life. We could conceivably retire our B/W printer and use this one by itself.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to get it out of the car.

Date posted: February 27, 2010 | Filed under geek | Leave a Comment »

I started the long, laborious process of manually adding hand-coded entries from 2001-2005 into WordPress this evening. It would be great to finally have all of this stuff in one place, and I’m not as concerned with archiving the design (such as it is) for posterity anymore. It’s taking a long time—I got through March, February, and half of January 2005—because I’m adding tags, categories, and dates, as well as updating broken links. This is going to take several months of work, but it’s kind of fun to go back through this stuff and reread it. I’m glad I’ve kept this weblog up, even if it’s been sparse at times. It’s nice to have an idea of what we were doing X years ago.

Date posted: February 24, 2010 | Filed under CMS, history, housekeeping | Leave a Comment »

I can’t say that I was as enthused by the latest LOST episode as the Onion AV review; it seemed a bit aimless to me, and there was yet another “new thing on the island for Jack to smash”. The flashback was fine but didn’t really go anywhere. I’m still waiting for something to happen.

Date posted: February 24, 2010 | Filed under entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Our current fleet here at the Lockardugan Compound has gotten quite out of hand lately. With the addition of the CR-V, we’ve now got four cars clogging the driveway (three, actually, because the Scout is still in the garage) but our plan was always to ditch the least practical of the remaining three. Because the Jeep and the Scout both have two doors, an equal amount of cargo space and similar gas mileage, one of them has to go. I don’t think I have to tell you which one is nominated. (It’s the one without its own website).

I thought we might have a buyer lined up when we bumped into a friend at the coffee shop the day we bought the ‘V and happened to mention we were going to sell the Jeep; three weeks and two snowstorms later she took it in to her mechanic for a once-over, and came back with some disappointing news. He claimed it needs a new catalytic converter to pass inspection, as well as new front tires (we knew this) and pointed out an interesting bug with the reverse lights—they don’t work. She decided to pass, so we’re back to square 1 for the time being. Which suits me fine, because there’s more snow coming this week, I can’t get the Scout out of the driveway without moving the other three cars, and I’ve got at least three trips worth of garbage in the basement to be hauled to the dump.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: February 24, 2010 | Filed under general, money, Scout | 1 Comment »

I spent a little time out in the side porch this weekend for the first time since Mr. Scout and I did insulation work. It was just too disheartening to be out there, really. I’ve wanted to get out there and clean up the mess we left behind for a couple of weeks now, and I took advantage of a little time while Finn was down for a late nap to organize my thoughts.

After I’d swept up the piles of leftover insulation, stacked the blankets we swapped out, and moved tools around, things looked a little better in the light. I made the decision to push ahead with the renovation this year, and now that Finn is considering potty training, it would be great to have a bathroom on the first floor again. What’s been holding us up is the complicated jigsaw-puzzle nature of renovations in our house, where one thing is usually precluded by five other things that need to happen first. In this case, we’ve been waiting for the money to have expensive plumbing work done. It goes something like this:

  1. Buy a 4-door car.
  2. Insulate the front porch ceiling.
  3. Figure out why the porch isn’t retaining heat before closing it in.
  4. Come up with a finalized plan for the second-floor master bathroom.
  5. Gut the atrium on the second floor.
  6. Pull up the floors in the atrium to expose the joists.
  7. Route plumbing supply and drains to the atrium (second floor) in prep for a new bathroom.
  8. Realign the toilet and sink waste and supply lines on the first floor (turn the toilet 90°, possibly move the sink back).
  9. Run a new vent pipe through the wall and out the roof (remove the old cast-iron on the side of the house).
  10. Sister new joists on the second floor to level and reinforce the floor.
  11. Install new windows in the first floor bathroom and den.
  12. Install a newer, wider porch door off the den.
  13. Run electric into the den and bathroom (plugs, can lights)
  14. Level the den floor?
  15. Sheetrock the den and bathroom.
  16. Put up kneewalls and insulate under the den in the coal cellar.
  17. Insulate the atrium in preparation for winter.

Admittedly, some of this stuff can happen out of order. The windows for the bathroom and den can be installed at pretty much any time up until sheetrock. I’ve waited on some things, like gutting the atrium, because I didn’t want to get things started, stall out, and let critical things like heating pipes freeze over the winter (and after this winter, I’m glad I showed some restraint). All of this will cost money, but the big-ticket item holding us back right now is the plumbing work. The ballpark I was given was in the $3500 range, which is cash we don’t have right now. And that doesn’t include the cost of a dumpster to gut the atrium, which is what has to happen before the plumbers can come in.

Some places I can save a little money and/or time are:

  • Buy a set of windows at Second Chance, where there are overruns, returns, and other donated windows available at discount pricing
  • Buy an exterior door from the same place
  • Avoid gutting the entire atrium for now, and just doing the floor and section of the exterior wall in order to concentrate on the lower half
  • Reuse some of the blanket insulation left over from the porch
  • Obviously, do as much as I can by myself.

So I’m looking at an all-in scenario here, where a lot of things have to happen by the end of fall to avoid catastrophe (frozen pipes, higher energy bills, etc.) but I have to wait on any major demolition until after we have our taxes done to see if we’ve got to pay out or if we’re going to be keeping anything. And, of course, we have to wait for the snow to melt off before we can get a Dumpster in the driveway.

Date posted: February 22, 2010 | Filed under house, porch | Leave a Comment »

Here’s a pretty slick way of streaming video from a desktop to an iPhone: Air Video, which is actually two downloads: an iPhone app and a streaming app. I don’t have a whole lot of personal need for this, but it’s pretty cool.

Date posted: February 21, 2010 | Filed under apple, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

This is the first MMORPG that I am reasonably interested in playing:

The game will have multiple Lego-based worlds to be explored. Some worlds will have traditional Lego themes, such as pirates, ninjas and castles, while others will be novel for the Lego space. Users can assemble semi-completed components from these worlds into entirely new designs, or they can build new components from scratch, using standard bricks.

It’s aimed at the 8 to 12 year old market. What does that say about me?

Date posted: February 19, 2010 | Filed under shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Date posted: February 18, 2010 | Filed under cars | Leave a Comment »

We got a letter from the State of Maryland a few weeks ago that I’m just following up on now. According to them, our home assessment (and thus our tax rate) has been reduced by $75,000 to a figure that’s still comfortably greater than the purchase price but still dramatically lower than the Zillow estimate online. From all I can gather, this means our house is still worth more in real-market value than we’re now going to be taxed for, even though we have a long way to go before it stands up to other houses in the area.

Date posted: February 18, 2010 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

Wow. We had FIOS installed this afternoon, and at first blush, I’d say it’s faster than my connection at work 7 times faster than my work connection. Speedtest says we’re rocking 15mbps download and 5 mbps upload—roughly three times as fast as our old DSL connection. I poked around through the router settings and found that there’s a DYNDNS setup page, so I created a new account (my third in seven years) and set up the router to test at work tomorrow. Online, some people say that non-static IP FIOS accounts are blocked outbound, but I’m not sure yet.

Tomorrow, I have to lock the wireless network down tighter (WEP to WPA2, turn SSID broadcast off) and tweak out some settings, but so far I’m digging this.

Update 2.17: the IP address resolves but I can’t ping the router, most likely because all inbound connections are turned off. I’ll have to dig into the settings a bit further to investigate.

Date posted: February 16, 2010 | Filed under geek | Leave a Comment »