Happy Birthday, Doug-Doug

Too bad you couldn't be here... Kim baked a cake and everything.


Woohoo for HomeDepot.ca!

Well I have to admit that I was a little skeptical at first...  I went looking for a new lawn mower last week, so for price comparison and to read up on features I started with the web.  (Go figure, me surfing the web...)  Anyway, I found a mower I liked for a price I liked, so I printed out the page and headed downtown to see whether I could find something comparable.  Unfortunately, all I could find at our local Rona outlet were either high-end models with the self-propelled option (which I wasn't prepared to pay for with our puny yard), or really low-end models that I didn't want to touch.

So back to HomeDepot.ca I went...  Just to see how bad the damage would be, I added the mower to the cart, expecting a $75-$100 shipping charge.  When it came up as $12.67 for shipping, I closed the browser and tried again, assuming that there was some kind of error.  But no... $12.67 for shipping.  I paid $18 for a dinky USB keychain last week, how could it possibly be less than $13 for a gas powered lawn mower??  So I decided to buy it, expecting that they'd call me and report that there was an error...  But nope!  The mower showed up this afternoon.  Even got carted up into the garage for me.  So way to go Home Depot!  I'll definitely be back when I need my next tool!

The World's Largest Coke Dealer... er, Coker Is Now Online!

Well, a few years late and a few bucks over budget, the world's largest Fluid Coker is now officially in production!  After 4 or 5 weeks of "startup" activities and some long days, we introduced feed on May 6, 2006 @ 17:55 Mountain Daylight Time.  Considering how large this project was and how many people it took to design, build and commission this thing, I have to say that on whole, I'm highly impressed.  With a project this size, there's bound to be a few @#$!-ups, and we've got a few of those, but we're online and producing oil so what else can you really expect?  Hopefully we can learn from this and do it better on SERP.

Now my fun begins.  I've got the task of maintaining this behemoth of a coker (with the help of some skilled folks along the way).  Judging from the laundry list of things to fix already (on Day 2 of production), I think my work days are going to be interesting for the foreseeable future.  Of course, now that UE-1 is pretty much online and out of his hair, I'm sure Dad will be looking for some new challenges to fill his day...

Get $50 off on web hosting!

I know at least one person out there may be interested in this, so just in case anyone else is interested, you can get $50 off your hosting package with DreamHost.com, courtesy of theSmarts.ca just by entering code: 50SMART.

Add a little spice...

I haven't always been a sucker for hot-n-spicy...  There was a time when mexican cheese-whiz was enough to make me break out in a cold sweat.  After living in Lister Hall at UofA, though I acquired a taste for Tobasco; or any other spice that was strong enough to mask the blandness of the dorm cafeteria.  Lately my personal favorite has been the Garlic Pepper Tobasco, but when I couldn't find it at the grocery store yesterday, I opted for some Frank's Red Hot Chile-n-Lime...  Sadly I only got a fleeting taste of that particular bottle, as I dropped it on the driveway before I could even get it in the house.

That little bit I did manage to lick off my fingers though was enough to make me go back and get another bottle today...  Unfortunately, I already had some steaks set aside for dinner and I've never been a fan of spicy steaks so no main dish with the Frank's tonight, but I did slather it all over my baked potato.  Given that I'm not particularly fond of potatos (unless they're deep-fried and covered in salt), I've gotta say that Frank did a hell of a job on his latest addition to the Red Hot lineup.  Hot enough to make your tongue tingle, but you can still taste the lime...  5/5 peppers in my book!  Good stuff!!!

...Hello DreamHost

If you're reading this post, then the migration and DNS propagation are complete. theSmarts.ca is now hosted by DreamHost.com.

Everything seems to be working now, including the Gallery that got FUBAR'd by ShieldHost.com.  After some further troubleshooting it looks like when I put my original ticket in to ShieldHost, they installed a new version of Gallery, but left either the database or the gallery data (or both) in the old format.  Rest assured that I will be making a complete backup shortly now that things are work properly again!

For those few of you who have an email address @theSmarts.ca, note that there have been some changes to the way that the email server is configured.  I haven't yet had a chance to delve into the details, so you may experience some difficulty retrieving email over the next few days.  My apologies in advance, as I know this will be inconvenient.  I will work to rectify the email server ASAP!!!

I've confirmed that the email system is now functional.  However, due to the server configuration at DreamHost.com, unless you use webmail, you will need to update your email client with a new log in name.  Please contact me directly for instructions on how to set up your email client.

Podcasting for Canadians

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few years, you have most definitely noticed the prevalence of the iPod (and other MP3 players) in the world of today.  So what do you get when you combine RSS feedstreams, MP3 files and an iPod?  PODCASTING, of course!  For the uninitiated, this means that you can subscribe to a Podcast feed and your iPod will automatically download an MP3 file when there is new content available.  Kind of like the internet's version of radio, but you don't have to be there at a particular time to hear the show.  Actually, this isn't limited to MP3 files or iPods, it's just the most common method people are using.

There are all kinds of nifty little uses for this technology... Realtors are using podcasts to update prospective clients on hot properties.  University professors use it to publish class notes, homework assignments and even video feeds of the entire semester.  Probably the most obvious use and the one that most people are likely to relate to is, not surprisingly, audio podcasts.  Got a favorite radio station back home that you just can't get where you live now?  Odds are they've either got a podcast already, or they're going to have one soon.  Even the CBC has jumped on the bandwagon, with podcast streams available for Quirks and Quarks, CBC Radio 3, and the Toronto Metro Morning Report.  If you're looking for more Canadian content in your listening diet, check out Canadapodcasts.ca.  Now, if only CBC would add Vinyl Cafe and Madly Off In All Directions to their podcast menu, I'd be set!

Looking for a program to help you download those podcasts?  Plenty of options there too...  iTunes has Podcasting support built in.  The (free) Thunderbird email program from Mozilla also has support for podcasting - which shows up just like an email, by the way!  Otherwise, you can even add an RSS stream to this site and download the attached files at your leisure!

ASUS A8N-E Stability Problems

I was about ready to pitch my brand new PC in the trash today...  The @#$!@ thing would run for about 10 - 20 minutes before I got a blue-screen-of-death.  If it wasn't my video drivers, it was the network drivers causing the thing to crash.  And if it DID manage to run, I kept getting corrupted downloads.  After much pain and (pain-staking) research, I discovered that the nVidia Active Armor semi-harware firewall that's built into the nVidia chipset is notoriously buggy.  Even un-installing the drivers doesn't help, because the uninstall doesn't get rid of the problem application.

Blue Screen Of Death - nVidia Network Access Manager

I did finally manage to get this fixed.  (It's been a whole 30 minutes and NO CRASH - not much a benchmark, but it's a massive improvement.)  If you're in the same boat as me, here's the steps I took to solve the problem:


Okay, you're gonna have to bear with me tonight... I've gotta vent.

Got my brand new PC this afternoon.  The one I've been anticipating all week, and was thinking about all the way home from work and planning on how best to configure the new OS I was going to stick on there.  Got home, had dinner, and then checked out the shipment.  Everything accounted for.  Good.  Nothing apparently damaged during shipping.  Good.  Time to get to work.

Got the case opened up, put in the motherboard, the RAM and the new CPU I'm just dying to try out.  Then I went to put in the new kick-arse video card I bought for it.  But wait!  Where's the external power connection for the video card?  The new PCI-Express video cards need a power connection directly to the power supply.  Even says so on the box.  (Of course they don't bother including manuals any longer, since no one actually reads them.)  But all I can find is an ity-bity little 4-pin jumper connection, not the big honkin 6-pin PCIE power connector that it's supposed to connect to.  AH!  So much for getting this thing built and tested tonight!!!  Probably not even this week.  I'm going to have to exchange the card for a new one.  Cry

Only good thing about this is that I bought the ExpressRMA insurance when I got the computer, so theoretically they should ship out my new card right away and I won't have to wait for the old card to get to them and then for an inspection to determine that, oh-yeah - it is missing a power connector.  Man!  I was really looking forward to having this new machine up and running this weekend. !@#$#@$~!@#!@#

What to look for when upgrading your PC (-Part 3-)

...the conclusion...

So by now we've covered CPU's, RAM and hard drives.  There are lots of other things that have changed about computers, but their overall impact for the average user is probably not all that significant.  What is significant, though is the advances in Operating Systems.  Most folks will be familiar with Windows XP, and some of you might have even heard of OSX from Mac.  So what's changed?  Read on...

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