All Systems Nomin...

Saturday, February 26, 2005

To be fair, I knew it was coming. Starting as early as last weekend, my computer started acting funny. I was playing Pirates, as I am known to do lately, and my computer crashed completely. I installed a new video driver and solved some of the lock ups, but the crashes continued. And not just the game, the whole system. A blue screen would flash and then before I could read anything on it, the computer reset. It started to happen more and more frequently, sometimes just in Windows. Once I rebooted and it scanned my harddrive. I decided that my hard drive was probably about to go, so I went out to Future Shop on Friday night and bought a new one (160 GB) plus a DVD burner, 100 blank DVDs (cheaper than 50), and 10 blank CDs for under $300. Before that, I had copied all important can't-lose data so that it was on both hard drives that were already in my system (since I didn't know which drive was about to crash).

Then I was out at Athena with John 'til oneish, then we watched a Futurama and I showed him Pirates, but we couldn't get anywhere without the computer crashing. Saturday morning I woke up at 9 and started working on my computer. I wanted to get XP installed on my new hard drive and then attach the other drives one by one and get the data off them. Nope. Turns out Windows XP (without SP 2) can't deal with a drive bigger than 137 GB. NOW they tell me. Western Digital has a utility that claims to do the job, but on the contrary, it didn't at all. I spent the better part of the day struggling to partition a 40 GB system disk and then after some registry tweaks, the other 120 GB. Nope. Worse yet, I try booting my system as it was before just to partition my drive (since I've got SP2 downloaded from Microsoft). It's no longer booting. Agh! Finally, Dan called me to come out, so I went by Beiley's and sat with him, Amanda, Trinity, Alex, and a girl that I always think is Erin (which is weird 'cause they're nothing alike and moreover, Erin was sitting in a table beside us). Seems like Beiley's is doing pretty well, which is cool, it's a decent place to hang out for someone as old as I am. :)

I got home Sat night and remembered that Mariah's new computer probably had XP with SP2 on the original CD since it was so new, so I used that disc and got XP running finally. My computer's finally operational again, though programs still need to be reinstalled. I'm kinda' waiting out a full reinstall until I have a stable and working system, as I've seen some crashes with the new hard drive as well, though not as frequent. This led me to believe that it probably wasn't the hard drive that caused the problem last time - instead, it was something else crashing while writing the drive that caused the drive problems. The next and more obvious step, then, was to look at RAM. Towards the end of last year (i.e. a few months ago) I picked up another 512 MB stick of RAM. I downloaded a utility called memtest86 to check out my RAM on Wednesday, and sure enough there were errors. Quite a few of them.

Thursday, John was over, but seeing as I knew my RAM had errors (just not which stick) I took out my new stick and we used the computer all day without a crash of any sort. I scanned the old stick alone over night and didn't turn up a single error.Then, before leaving for work Friday morning, I put the old disc in to scan. Within 10 seconds of starting it had found errors again. Now I have to attempt to return/exchange my RAM at FutureShop. Gah! Not to mention my DVD Burner, though I'm going to try that a little more with the good RAM to make sure that it wasn't somehow the culprit as well. I have a friend that works there, hopefully he can help me though I shouldn't need it since I bought both of them within the year (and the DVD last weekend). But I've heard plenty of horror stories. I'll let you know.

DISCLAIMER: The preceeding blog contained moments of extreme tedium and should not have been read by young children.
[Listening to: The Neins - Sunday Anthems]

Ban FF!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Downtown Banff
No, no, I'm not raging against quasi-recent indie-rock media darlings Franz Ferdinand (whose debut record is well worth the heaped praise). Nor, surprisigly (and thankfully), am I making some sort of obscure geek related hex-based joke. Instead, I'm here to tell you about my recent trip to Canada's playground - Banff.

We left for the mountains around 9 or 10AM. Of course, before this, I had to sort out what was making the trip with me. So, without further ado...

Vital materials:

Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - I'd been meaning to read this for almost a decade now, and I finally did. If only Douglas Adams were still alive so I could aspire to meet him. I'm now about halfway through The Restaurant at the End of the Galaxy which is equally fun. I'm going to try to track down the original BBC radio shows someday. Maybe 10 years from now. Incidentally, they're making a movie about this starring Tim from The Office as Arthur Dent!

Captain Beefheart - A friend of mine (thanks, Andy!) from the UK sent me two Beefheart albums to - Clear Spot and The Spotlight Kid. Blues with a twist. Not sure I can get into it, but I'm gonna spin it a few more times.

Beulah - I brought along my recent Beulah acquisitions (thanks, Dutch!) to listen to in earphones. Yoko is a fantastic album, as is The Coast is Never Clear. The rest sound much better in headphones, too.

Futurama - After years of denouncing the show as unfunny, I now own all four seasons on DVD. Thanks to a DVD player in the car (how much would I have loved this as a kid?!) the drive flew by.

Raising Helen - Well, I didn't pack it, and I didn't choose to watch it, but it wasn't a bad movie, I suppose. Though the 15 year old girl needs to be strangled with a lead pipe. Somehow.

Mariah's Gameboy - The only thing better than watching TV on the road is helping her finish the dreaded world seven in Super Mario 3.

Other stuff - You know, the clothes, ski stuff, toothbrush/paste, and all the other stuff not meant for the actual trip but for the destination. Oh, and swim trunks for sitting in the hot tub/pool and/or visiting with various attractive female cohorts.

Bored Games
As you may have guessed, the trip up was relatively quick although it's still surprising how a person can get bored even with all the gadgets to play with. I don't think science will ever cure the "are we there yets". Although now that Mariah's older, she just asks "how many hours". We got into Banff around 5, checked in, shopped a bit on Banff Ave, and went for dinner at the Balkan. I don't know why we go there, the food has never been very good, though it's better than Mykonos I suppose. I forgot my wallet in the hotel and got ID'd. Yeah. In Alberta, where 18 is the legal age. In other words, I looked 17 or less to this guy. I understand where he's coming from, but come on! I guess I shouldn't have shaved. He felt bad afterwards and brought me a caraffe of Coke and then noticed my iron ring. I'd be one hell of a 17 year old to have an engineering degree. Turns out I'm just a rather ordinary 24-year old, though.

Sunny Sunshine
We skiied the first day in Sunshine, which really did live up to its name. The sky was an unspoiled blue, the temperature was a balmy -6, and the snow was actually decent as well considering the warm weathe. All said, some of the best ski conditions I've ever had. On the gondola ride up to base, a really cute girl from Sweden sat with us. She had about the coolest eyes I'd ever seen; a deep blue surrounding a brown starburst. Seemed like a very nice girl, too, I think her name was Olsa or Osla or something to that effect, probably with those little dots on the O. And spelled completely differently. I don't remember the name of her town (it started with an H, I think, and had about 500,000 people) but she told me to visit. And being the clever person I am, as well as being surrounded by family, I did not get or give any other information that would allow further contact other than that she works at the Aurora. Which I couldn't really visit on my own and certainly not with my parents. I'd hoped to run into her later on my own, but naturally everyone in my family saw her again except for me. I did, however, run into Lindsay and Jordan.

Anyway, it was Mariah's second or third time skiing, so she was in lessons and I stuck to skis in case I needed to help her. We skiied mostly green runs because that's what my family's comfortable on. I brought my camera so I'd ski ahead or them and take pictures of the beautiful scenery and so I really that bored. Dad's knee was hurting so he took the camera from me midday and I did a black run or two with Larissa, though our last black run was pretty wild. Glare ice and straight down. We came around the corner and about 10 quite advanced skiiers were stopped and looking down. Turned out to not be too bad once you got past the wall of ice, it was aptly named Waterfall. Additionally, they removed the Wawa t-bar and put in a chairlift which was nice. That used to be a long t-bar run. The end of the day came and we took the skiout, which is more or less a blue run now, except with extreme bouts of cross country. Not the end of the world except Mariah had no poles, unwaxed skis, and obviously wasn't developing the kind of speed needed to clear some of these parts. I put her between my legs and used my poles to propel us, and then on the downhill parts I'd hold her arms and we'd ski down together. That was hard on the legs as I had to keep us both slow and couldn't turn too fast or I'd run over her skis (so I had to do a really wide snowplow). It was fun though.

The hotel that we stayed at (Banff Park Lodge) was pretty nice except for the pool/hottub, which were small and rather disgusting. We met some people from Winnipeg who knew the Redls and Dave Gillespie. Such a small world. Anyway the suite was huge and really nice with granite all over and a shower with four nozzels and a really leaky door. The only complaint was that for such a large room, the TV could've been a little bigger. Or a lot bigger. We went out to Melissa's Mis-Steak where, again, the food was really so-so. But I did get a couple pints of beer without having to have my ID, so that's something.

Mom on the slopes
Lake Louise the next day, but by the time we got there, it was 11:00. I ended up skiing again, which was okay because Louise has lots of little tree paths adjacent to the green runs, and I also did quite a few blue and blacks with Larissa. The weather was again perfect, though it was pretty icy at Louise. Larissa got a little more daring today and was doing pretty well, and I also showed Mariah some turning on the mountains. She did alright, then she had a lesson and did great coming down. She really improved over those two days. We skiied the backside, which was probably my favourite trail, and stopped at the chalet for hot chocolate and a cookie. Dad didn't ski today because of his knee, but we took the Bow Valley Parkway home for him instead. It was a long drive (1 hr+) with not really great scenery in my opinion, but now I know, I guess. We ate at the hotel, which had a seafood buffet with a chocolate fountain and lots of nice fruit. I thought it'd be sketchy, but it was pretty good. Note to self: Go to gym.

We drove home on Saturday after a few hours in Calgary's Chinook Centre. I finally picked up Wilco's Summer Teeth, the Futureheads' album (I heard they're coming to Saskatoon this spring), Futurama season 2 (now my collection is complete!), Sid Meier's Pirates! (so far, hopelessly addicting), SimCity Rush Hour, and a pair of dark stretchy jeans I quite liked. Larissa looked for (and found) a grad dress, and Mariah got a build-a-bear. The ride home was rather fast, though that's largely thanks to the vital materials. Anyway, it was lots of fun and I hope to get my snowboarding down a bit more so I can do that next time.