The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Happy New Year!

Welcome to another year of the Blog.

Anne and I wound up at the Majestic Hotel right in the middle of our old neighborhood, and then we rang in the New Year at a (relatively) new bar on Clark Street, whose name escapes me. Lots of fun. Forgot the Champagne, though.

New Year's Resolution: 1024 x 768 (I'm using my laptop).

Complaints about the weather: None from me. It's 4°C (40°F) right now, which for a Chicago New Year's Day is delightfully warm. However, this guy that I saw on the way home from the El this morning would probably disagree:

Silliest news story of the day: Yesterday, a pack of chihuahuas attacked a cop in Fremont, Calif. The police officer received bite wounds to the ankle. No word on how far the chihuahuas got punted.

Don't forget, the holidays aren't over yet. Tonight is the last night of Chanukkah. Sunset in Chicago tonight is at 4:31pm; you can use the Weather Now calculator to find your city's sunset time. Check back later for a photo of the world's ugliest menorah in full bloom.

Another good article from the Tribune: Barbara Botman writes about New Orleans at New Year's. I recommend it.

Inner Drive Technology Comprehensive Testing Facility

For my last post of the year, I'd like to announce that the Inner Drive Technology Comprehensive Testing Facility is now complete, except for the Lab Cam, which should arrive from Logitech in about two weeks. (The dead one is visible in the upper-left corner of the photo below.)

Inner Drive's World Headquarters is now ready to face whatever challenges we may in 2006. Happy new year, everyone!

Runs in the family, apparently

I'm not the only one suffering techno-poltergeists this week. Anne just got this message from Google:

Lockdown in sector 4!
Our system indicates unusual usage of your account. In order to protect Gmail users from potentially harmful use of Gmail, this account has been disabled for up to 24 hours.

Jerome Leitner, my Wills professorGoogleing the email found that Google's own tools can trigger this lockout.

Did anyone notice the theme of all the technical issues we've had lately? An SBC router crashed, a Webcam fried, a voice-mail account deleted? They all have something in common, something my Wills professor would call "the Omnibus Explanation:" "The Omnibus Explanation, the thing that explains what logic and rational thought cannot, is stupidity."

Technological purgatory for a day

From 5pm Thursday until 9pm Friday, machines hated me. I do not know why.

Thursday afternoon, I added my dear mother to my mobile phone plan. This is her first mobile phone. I suppose she was waiting until they perfected the technology. Clearly they haven't; but my carrier, T-Mobile, uses GSM technology, which is the most advanced available commercially at this time.

Clearly, however, giving my mother a mobile phone caused the Anti-Technology Gods to frown upon me.

First, T-Mobile deleted my voicemail account. I've been so busy, and as far as I could see no one left me any messages (because, you see...well, yes, you do see...), so I just discovered this now. So if you've called recently, and weren't able to leave a message, it's T-Mobile's fault.

Then there was the fritzy Webcam.

And to cap Erev New Year's Eve for me, SBC Global (now, apparently, part of AT&T again) dropped Inner Drive's DSL for five hours (to the minute, which is suspicious). They don't know why. Nor did the first two support techs believe me when I told them exactly which router was down. (I've been here before.)

Now, everything seems to be working. And the year is almost over. So, happy new year, and I hope the Anti-Technology Gods are appeased.

Two quick hits before sleeping

First, from the Strange Editorial Priorities department: these were the headlines on MSNBC's top headlines today:

WP: CIA program withstands furor
The effort President Bush authorized shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to fight al Qaeda has grown into the largest CIA covert action program since the height of the Cold War. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10644533/
West Coast gets more rain
The West Coast was expected to end 2005 with a bang of winter weather: two storm fronts that could bring as much as 10 inches of rain in Northern California and snowfall of up to six feet in some mountain areas. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10632481/
N. Korea cuts off U.N. food aid
As Pyongyang's Stalinist government moves to reassert control over the food supply, some experts fear that it could lead the isolated country into another famine. By Kari Huus. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10631108/

Now, I like weather, but come on. Maybe these stories could have been re-ordered?

Second, for those of you who missed me, SBC, which has now apparently merged with AT&T (didn't they break up in 1984?), dropped my DSL from 4:09 CT/22:09 UTC until a few minutes ago. Gotta love 'em.

Logitech Orbit MP doesn't work at IDT (corrected)

Correction, 25 January 2006 12:00 CST/18:00 UTC: The problem described below turned out to be a bad individual camera. Logitech was great, replacing the bad camera with a new one, no questions asked. The new camera has been running without interruption for several weeks now.

The original blog entry follows:

I can't believe how much time is being sucked away from me by this broken Webcam problem. I am now on hold with Logitech, and though my call is very important to them, they are experiencing higher-than-normal call volumes, so they'll take my call in the order it was received.

I got a Logitech Orbit MP that should have been a tremendous improvement over the Intel Cam III I've been using for two years. The poor Intel camera is unstable, half-burned-out, slow, and basically showing its age. The new Logitech camera should be none of these things, and should have the added benefit of being able to tilt and pan so that it's never looking directly at the sun, as my poor Intel camera has on occasion done.

The Logitech camera worked beautifully on my laptop. Then it worked really well right away when I connected it to the old server. Then I logged into the server remotely, and the image froze. Then I couldn't get the server to recognize the camera. After six reboots, I thought the problem was the Belkin USB extension cord. So I moved the camera to another computer, closer to the window, for the time being.

Now the camera doesn't work at all. Nothing I can do will get the computer to recognize it. In fact, it's acting dead. Thus my call to Tech Support, which is a prerequisite to sending it back for replacement.

Let's count the damage so far: Three hours of time that I should have spent installing a server for a client (they're out of the office until Tuesday so there's at least no rush there), a parking ticket (my fault, I know), and probably an aneurism.

Final update before heading to client, 18:56 UTC: After 21 minutes of holding and a 6-minute conversation, Logitech is replacing the camera. So look in about two weeks for the second attempt.

The tropical cyclone season without end

A quick check of email showed me a notice from NOAA that the 27th tropical storm of the most active season in recorded history had formed:

...LATE SEASON TROPICAL STORM...THE 27TH OF THE YEAR...FORMS IN THE EASTERN ATLANTIC...
AT 1 PM AST...1700Z...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM ZETA WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 25.0 NORTH... LONGITUDE 36.9 WEST OR ABOUT 1070 MILES...1720 KM... SOUTHWEST OF THE AZORES.

And we thought the season had already ended. Wow. This is truly historic.

Webcam great; drivers totally suck

I posted too soon about the new Webcam. It worked great until I logged off and back on again. Then it stopped working. The problem appears to be with the drivers on the host computer.

I'll write more later. I've given up an hour of my life because of this stupid thing. I sincerely hope I'll have the cam working in the next few minutes.

Update, 17:26 UTC: It wasn't the camera. It was (a) a Belkin USB extension cord or (b) Windows 2000 Server. One of the two did not play well with the Webcam. I can't believe how long this simple thing has taken me.

Update, 17:44 UTC: OK. Got the camera working (temporarily) on an old Windows XP box. Also got the Lab Cam (below) running, but I haven't given it a home on the Website yet. That will have to come later. Right now, I have a server to build for a client.

And, apparently, a parking ticket. Dang.

The Lab Cam (live image, updated every 5 minutes):

New webcam up; LabCam to follow

After much searching, and more than one total Webcam collapse, I've finally found the perfect Webcam. It has numerous features, like its own stand, that will make the Inner Drive Technology Webcam even more fun and enjoyable.

The old cam will go into the Inner Drive Technology Comprehensive Testing Facility tomorrow or Monday. The image will look nothing like this one, which I include for Anne's benefit:

More when I get back from my client visit.