HAL-9000: 1998 – 2017. RIP.

As you saw on my last post, our original family website server died. It served us well for many years, stretching back to just before Joyce and I were married. This was the system I started my own business on, and launched another business, before joining my current laboratory.

HAL-9000 Case
Remember CompUSA?

Hal then was repurposed as the kids’ original computer (with a new power supply and motherboard), and lived again for several years until the kids outgrew the platform. He was again repurposed, dumping windows for FreeBSD to run the website (and other functions) you are reading now.

Dead motherboard and power supply.
It’s dead, Jim.

Tests on the system showed both the motherboard and power supply had gone bad. I don’t know which one went first, and took the other with it, but all the memory, drives, fans, and USB interfaces could be salvaged. The new server is coming along well, hope to get it done and on-line soon.

Back Online…

Well, that was a bit of a scare. We’re currently running on a backup server, after the kids old ‘HAL-9000‘ we had been running on failed. So of course, the backup server overheated and went down yesterday afternoon. Just got it restored earlier this evening, and got the database and directory structure backed up to my desktop system.

Time to build a new server…

Crafty Jenn

What do you do with a rim bent from a pothole on Rt 38? Take out the spokes and give it to Jennifer!


Cotton twine, tied off each end, replaces the spokes, and the rest of the rim wrapped with the same twine, makes a picture hanger for the daughter’s room.

Storm 14 March 2017

So far, we haven’t been hit too bad. We did get one power ‘glitch’ about 3:30, just after I took this picture. Power was off for about two seconds, then came back.

We’ll probably get more than the 5″ NWS was predicting earlier this week, but I doubt it’s going to be the 18″ – 24″ the TV has been hyping. The kids schools were canceled yesterday afternoon, and my work decided to close for the day as well.

It’s starting to wind down now, we’ll probably go out a bit later and start digging out.

Update – 14 Mar 2017 7:00 PM

We were able to get out and clear the driveway after dinner. Depending on where measured, we got anywhere from 7.5″ to 10.5″. While snowfall reports around us were more, we suspect the bulk of the blowing snow was trapped in the woods around our house.


Are You Serious, Spammer? (Part III)

Found this gem in our comments from the main family webpage:

Did you know that if you stare at the sun for 15 minutes a day, that you won’t need to eat food anymore? You will literally gain superhuman abilities and feel like an enlightened person. Obviously you would need to stare at the sun during the early morning or late evening when the sun is at it’s lowest brightness. But NASA did a study and proved that people who engage in this sun-staring practice achieve a state of high spiritual and mental enlightenment. Full information here (link removed).

Not sure if they were looking for someone that gullible, or just trying to get clicks by posting outrageous nonsense. Either way, no links from us, bunko.

Well, That’s Interesting…

Over the past few weeks, our webcam has been rebooting at various odd times. I’ve checked it for loose power plugs, but it otherwise seemed fine. Then last Monday, someone tried to post the webcam’s administrator account name and password on our main page. They didn’t leave their name, but IP address goes back to an ISP in Tennessee, most likely somewhere around Kingsport. It seems that I’ve violated my own security rules, in that I left the default accounts on the webcam server. In particular I had left the account with administrator privileges named as ‘admin’. Thank you, ‘Anonymous’, for pointing this out to me.

Interestingly, site logs show visitors from the Russian Federation about the same time ‘Anonymous’ tried to post, along with the (routine) Sogou web spider from China and several odd URL scans from Google. Interesting.

Chain Recovery and Lube

I’ve tried several of the bicycle specialty chain lubes, and I haven’t been too happy with any of them. The last one I used, advertised to be ‘long-lasting’ and ‘repels water’, left my almost new chain rusted after one race in the rain at the beginning of August (Boston Tri). Here is what my chain looked like after I put the bike up on the stand and wiped everything down.

02 Bad Chain 2(Sorry about the blur. My phone is not the best camera.)

As you can see, just one sprint-distance race in the rain (and near the ocean with sea spray) turned the chain into one long line of rust. Using my Chain Breaker, I took the chain off, wiped off the last remaining lube, grit, and other road debris, then attacked the rust.

03 Clean Chain

As using a wire brush and sandpaper is out of the question, there are a variety of commercial chemical products to remove rust. The most common on the left consists of a strong phosphoric acid-based solution which converts the soft, flaky rust into a harder, impervious coating. However, this is a little too strong for this case, and would result in coating that might bind between the links. The milder ‘CLR in the center is also an acid-based solution, mostly based on various organic acids such as citric and lactic (yes, the same lactic acid which builds up in your muscles), along with surfactants, which dissolves thin layers of gunk and surface rust. After cleaning the last of the oil and grease from the chain using the IPA (isopropyl alcohol, 91%) , I let it soak a bit with occasional agitation.

04 Clean Chain 2

After a bit, the last of the rust was gone, leaving a clean chain in a dirty, rusty water bath. Removing the chain with gloves, I rinsed the chain with cold water and then immediately with the IPA to remove last traces of water. Wiping down the chain with clean paper towels, I hung it to finish drying.

05 Wax Chain 1

Meantime, I set up a double-boiler and melted one block (out of the four-block pack) of the paraffin wax I recommended previously. After the wax had melted and the water under was gently boiling (don’t let the water boil over!), I put the chain in to soak.

06 Wax Chain 2

The chain bubbled a bit as the paraffin soaked into the links, and then slowly stopped. After allowing it to soak a bit more, I fished the chain out, and hung it to cool.

07 Wax Chain 3

After the chain cooled, and the paraffin hardened, I had to flex the chain a bit to get the individual links moving. Once the chain was moving somewhat freely, I checked it against the chain wear gauge.

10 Check Chain 3(Thank you Jennifer for taking the picture while I held the chain and gauge. Now clean up your room.)

As the gauge showed only a minor amount of wear (perhaps I should have checked it before cleaning and waxing), I mounted it back on the bike, and spun the crank and shifted until the chain moved smoothly through the full range of the derailers.

11 Good Chain 1

12 Good Chain 2

Result: Almost new chain, dry lubed, for just a few pennies, which will not attract sand and grit. It worked well for Cranberry Olympic, and what do you know, the old, tried and true method appears to give the best results according to Velo News, Sheldon Brown, and even testing from a laboratory dedicated to cycling. Take that, overpriced, fancy lubes.