Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cyclops and Pink Fuzzy Trains

If you couldn't guess by now, I generally stay up late while soaking in random tidbits of information that has next to no realistic use in my life other than to keep neurons firing rapidly rather than dying; however, last night was a completely different beast. It all began last winter (wavy screen as we travel back in time) when I made a few appointments with a psychiatrist regarding my ADD. Long story short, many dollars later I realized the expense of the visits in addition to the cost of the medication (neither of which were covered by my insurance) and the lack of interest the doctor actually had in helping me (as opposed to his interest in "testing" different doses of this medication which had multiple undesirable side effects) I decided to return to my previous mental and emotional state of depression mixed with the inability to keep my mental train from derailing. During our visits I was given a prescription for Ambien, a sleep aid which makes people do crazy things while they sleep. I never took any of the Ambien, but rather tossed the bottle into the nightstand to gather dust.

Fast forward to last week. After multiple nights staying up late I decided to test some of the effects of the sleeping pill, can't hurt to try (famous last words). I planned my evening so I would take the pill with plenty of time for it to work out of my system completely before work the next day. Nine pm I pop the little salmon colored beauty and go start to brush my teeth, then I remember a song in my itunes that isn't on my phone that I wanted to listed to so I plug in my iPhone. While the music is transferring I check the shipping status of my new iPhone 4. Badda bing badda boom, it's 2:30 am and I now now how to get my RAM to overclock past the automatic settings. Score ADD-1 Ambien-0.

Two nights later I've set my mind on sleeping under the influence of prescription drugs. I brush my teeth early, make sure my alarm is set the next morning and I crawl into bed. Previously I had filled a water bottle so I wouldn't have the opportunity to get distracted while taking the pill. This little bottle also suggests taking 1-2 pills before bed, so tonight I pop two of the little guys and within minutes my lights are out. ADD-1 Ambien-1. I had an amazing night of rest for myself, even though Anna claims I was talking in my sleep. End of taking pills. I decide to use will power to get to bed rather than the drugs, problem is that I don't have much will power, so I quickly fall back into my late night habits.

Fast forward to last night. I decide to take a pair of pink pills around 9, go to brush my teeth, check that my alarms are set for the next morning (on my new iPhone), then I quickly download the application to get a free case for my phone, then... hours later I am completely intoxicated with the dreary effects of the sleep aid. All effects of the sleep aid except for one: I wasn't tired. My brain literally had conversations with itself to which I felt like I was a spectator watching. While trying to read a review regarding a book about people with one eye, the text on my screen kept dancing around so I wasn't able to finish more than one paragraph every 5 minutes. The advertisements on the sides of the website were talking to me, and I think I talked back to them! That's when I realized, I was some kind of stoned. I turned off the computer, turned off the lights and walked into the bedroom. The approach to my bed made me think about boarding one of the public transportation trains so my mind illustrated a train pulling up in front of me. Pink gumdrops and sugar crystals were what this train was made out of, but I already came to the realization that I couldn't believe anything I was seeing, I was drugged. So I crawled in bed to sleep off the rest of my psychosis. ADD-1 Ambien-1 Hallucinations-1.

I don't think I'll be flirting with my last scenario again.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm doing really awesome at this staying up late stuff!

So, I'm dusting the cobwebs from the old noggin and warming up my processor for some digit doodling and number crunching in my DePaul transfer student orientation placement tests. I need to take a math test and an English test (I hate English, but I still remember to capitalize it) before I can move on with the student orientation, scheduling meetings with an adviser and setting my class schedule.

Part of tonight was spent gazing at the FedEx tracking screen update about where in the world my iPhone is (it's in Chicago and hasn't moved from the same location since it got there at 6 this morning, just a little too late to be tossed on a truck and delivered to me today). I understand it hasn't moved and it isn't going to move until tomorrow when our own personal FedEx friend Angie delivers the beautiful box tomorrow, but I still like checking out the screen and drooling a little bit in anticipation.

The rest of tonight has been spent looking over numbers, symbols and installing software (and getting frustrated when some software decides to be obstinate and problematic). During my days at the Y I invested $10 in a license for a product called Mathcad 11, like a graphing calculator extraordinaire for a computer. Usually selling for around $1200. I snatched that up and I've spent a little time tonight attempting to install it with little luck. I'm bailing on it tonight, but I'll be back tomorrow to tinker some more.

In addition, I've also purchased a couple little calculator apps for my phone, one has a fairly nice math review function in the free version and an even more in depth equation review utility in the paid app. By principal I'm thinking about supporting these guys with the $3 or $4 because they're making my life so much easier right now by the work they did putting this in my pocket.

I'm skipping the insertion of links to the things I've been hunting down (fedex tracking, mathcad and the iphone app) for a few reasons: I'm not a professional blogger and my posts aren't for marketing purposes, anybody that might read this (my family) isn't going to care about mathcad or calculators, and last and most importantly... nobody is actually going to read this because nobody really even knows about it.

If I get my Mathcad 11 working on my Windows 7 OS by running Windows XP mode through the Virtual PC successfully then I might write a post about how I did it, just in case theirs some other poor college student with a Win7 machine that's trying to install an ancient math program that's four versions behind and they find me through a google search.


Monday, July 26, 2010


This will be a quick post. Momma Abrams is thinking about ditching her huge Comcast bill in favor of something a little simpler to deal with when it comes to paying the bills for television. Anna and I haven't had cable since we moved out of the student housing over a year ago, but we've still been satisfied with our tv content. Getting to watch Grays Anatomy, The Office, SNL and whatever happens to be on Netflix instant play has been a sufficient amount, and they're all available over the internet. In addition, getting local channels is nice when it comes to watching some of the more random shows like True Beauty, Simpsons, America's Got Talent or any of the other array of dumb crap littering the airwaves, but in order to watch these as we would on tv (and more importantly, record them when we want to watch them but can't) is a whole different monster.

So here was the solution Anna and I have lived well with. I built myself a fun little computer and got it to plug into the cable outlet in the wall. Not only can we now watch tv on the computer but we can record it as well! In addition to watching and recording on our computer we can stream the live shows (and recorded) to the Xbox which is hooked up downstairs on our big tv. Like TiVo, DVR or so many of the other rip off products that charge monthly, we get it in multiple places for free (plus the cost of building the computer, but I wanted to have this baby anyway).

So my PC is pretty amazing. Amazing because it's mine, and I built it, and I can do pretty much anything I want with it because it's got the bawls to put pretty much everybody else's comps to shame. This is beside the original point though, this article is (once again) aboot why I'm up late in the middle of the night (I think my former Canadian room mate rubbed off on me a little, did you notice?). The reason I'm up reverts back to the first paragraph involving my good ol' MIL (that's Mother-In-Law for those of you with poor acronym translators). Her and I spoke a little this morning about her situation with the cable peeps but she still really wants to be able to watch her Grays Anatomy on the tv in her living room and how I might be able to help her do that. My first inclination was to say "just plug in the aux cable from the wall to the tv" but that's way too simple, and it isn't something I'm going to dwell on for hours at night. She also doesn't think her tv has a tuner in it (which I'm sure it does) but even if it does, she isn't going to be able to watch very much other than the few live local channels that come through. It's a horrible shame that we've become so accustomed to life's luxuries that we can't do without our DVR now. What did people do before that? I remember years ago before TiVo and all these other things that recorded tv, if we didn't watch it we'd either set our VCR to record it (as complicated a task as setting the clock on it, near impossible) or we just talked to friends the next day about what happened. That's been the solution the world has used going all the way back to Moses!

The solution I'm proposing (if she would like something a little more shnazzy than plain ol' tv plugged in to the wall) is for me to build her an HTPC (Home Theater Personal Computer). It's been a craze with all the popular kids these days, everybody is doing it. Best thing since sliced bread (which came out just after the VCR, a couple years after Moses parted the Red Sea). So I've been configuring different hardware options to build a cheap computer for her to do everything she wants to do (and more). It would be a very easy task, but I'm taking a little bit extra time in this one. Momma Abrams is an Apple girl so I can't just take apart her computer and add a few extra things, I'd need to build a new one. Also, I'm creating this HTPC in a small and economical system, low power consumption, low noise, and low cost.

One of the big parts of this build is the operating system. Windows 7 works great, but it adds an extra $100 to the cost of the system. I'm hoping to find a nice way to skip it, since she doesn't really need it. A good Linux distro and XBMC or MythTV would be free, but I still have a lot of research to do regarding the tv tuner card that would go into the box.

I think this blogging thing might work pretty well for me. It's stopped me from continuing in my reading about Linux which I would probably have done for another couple hours. Now I'm bored with writing and rather than go back to my studying about Linux, I'm just going to brush my teeth and go to bed, or skip the teeth brushing because I've already brushed them this week.


Oh, and our iPhones get here on Tuesday. I hope they aren't in this shipment.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A New Beginning

I'm once again deciding that I'm going to be more fervent in posting on blogger... we'll see how that goes. Recently I've been staying up throughout the nights and have noticed one thing, my ADHD takes me all over the interwebs, so I thought I'd have fun writing about the things I'm learning about.

My latest distraction has been refreshing the page at Gizmodo while I've been either at work (don't tell my boss) or at home all hours of the night. I'll also check out Engadget and LifeHacker but I'm mainly addicted to Giz, they're all just blogs about all the little gadgets and random bit's of data that my biological hard drive likes to sop up. There's been drama with the iPhone 4 from the day it leaked months ago and it will probably never end, unless Apple causes something as catastrophic as the Gulf oil spill and goes out of business... thus causing the end of the iPhone debacles.

Another thing my tired eye has been scanning over during these late night adventures through my portal to infinite knowledge has been about building, tweaking, updating, overclocking and anything else related to computers. Specifically my computer. Earlier this week I finally figured out how I needed to set up my BIOS to get my RAM to run at it's rated speed (DDR3 1600) rather than the default speed my motherboard sets it at (1333), but I'll leave that for another night. I'm sure I'll be writing plenty about the frustrations I go through with my computer.

So, back on the topic of my iPhone drama. I've been following the whole fiasco for a couple months and decided I wanted this device for my birthday. A few weeks ago I placed orders for two phones, one for Anna and one for me.

Time passes. More time passes. I hear about my friends getting their phones while more time passes. One friend updated his facebook status saying it only took him a couple days to get his when he put his name on the waiting list at the local Apple store, so I thought I'd try that out.

Tuesday this week I went in to the store, put my name on the list for two phones, then shortly after got quite a few emails from Apple. Emails saying they will email me when my phones come in to the Apple store, emails telling me my phones shipped from China, then the next day I got emails saying my phones were ready to be picked up at the Apple store. I was stoked! I hustle down to the store Wednesday after work but they were having "activation issues" and couldn't give anybody their phones. I went this afternoon (technically yesterday, Thursday) and wait in line and the Appleboy grabs my phone. While he's ringing it up we run into a problem, we can't cancel the order that's been shipped to get me the upgrade price at the Apple store.

Awe crap.

So three trips to this store in three days and now I have to wait until Tuesday for my phone to get here from China... I guess that isn't too bad.

On the plus side, Tuesday and Wednesday when I was wandering around downtown Chicago I got to see a quite a stir around the areas they were filming for Transformers 3. Took some pics, snatched a little video clip and laid my eyes on the beautiful car/alien/machine named Bumblebee while it did a few peelouts in the street. I'll try to post pics later (if I remember to update blogger again within the next year or two).


I forgot my random picture