Phase III: new hub, new Ultra5, new scanner, new cd burner

Rohit Khare (
Sun, 25 Apr 1999 13:08:57 -0700

Since I felt pretty satisfied with my Phase II exam performance, I
decided to splurge at Fry's yesterday.

[The exam? 1) evolution of object management in IDEs 2) software
engineering practices applied to Open Source 3) kinds of maintenance
and methodology 4) role of abstraction and separation-of-concerns in
SE and SW Architecture in particular. Bottom line: I don't see how I
could do much better, even with more studying. So if they didn't like
my answers, I have much more serious problems]

Palo Verde, in their infinite wisdom, has fixed the number of IP
addresses allocated (one per bedroom). Since I have had as many as
five IP-capable devices in here at any given moment, that means I need
a hub.

Jim bought a $25 doohickey from Fry's last year ("with SparkLights!")
and it worked like a champ for him. I went and bought the same thing
and got nowhere. Over the months, it became clear that the hub worked
internally (I could set up a bedroom-area-network), but it just
wouldn't uplink however much the blinkenlights promised, whatever
permutations of cabling I used.

In fact, I eventually brought mine into the office, where Jim & Roy
have the same unit in production use. We unplugged all the cables,
swapped hubs, and their subnet survived just fine. In fact, it wasn't
worth swapping the cables back, so I just took Jim's :-)

That focused suspicion on the residential network. After a few weeks of back-
and-forth, I found out that the *entire complex* is on a *single segment*.
No wonder performance browns out during the days...

Tim, however, was superstitiously maintaining that he'd never dealt
with these silly 'uplink port' hubs (it had two "port 5"s, one with
crossover wiring marked uplink). He said I gotta get a hub with an
"uplqink switch"...

So, I went out with Tim yesterday and bought a second $25 hub, but
with an uplink "switch" rather than a dedicated uplink port. G*ddamn
if it didn't work off the bat!

It's a specious distinction, but the electronics in the new hub are
arguably better at dealing with the elecrical BS of Palo Verde. In
fact, I was able to cascade the *old* hub off of the new one, and now
I have 7 ports.

In two trips to Fry's Fountain Valley (shit hole; every single product
we looked at was a return/restock) and Fry's Anaheim (up to the usual
par -- that is to say, still depressingly anti-service), I also picked
up a new scanner, a UMAX Astra 610, $79. It works like a champ (but
required a $25 SCSI adapter to PowerBook HDI-40 -- the price is
astonishingly cheap compared to the Olde Days (TM), but is a fricking
cable adapter even 1/3 as complex as a 1200dpi scanner?).

We looked closely at the latest generation of desktop color
inkjets. The new ALPS MD-5000 is frickin' astonishing: laser-perfect
black text, true 2400 dpi contones (at 3 picoliters per drop, a
record, it can even use *dye sub* inks...), and the real eye-popping
gimmick, gold and silver foil inks!

On the second trip, I picked up a TEAC SCSI CD-R ($319) and a case
($49). It supports digital audio extraction, so I'm happy with it, too.

Question: why can't CD-data transports and optics be used in cars? Why
are precisely none of the in-dash MP3 proponents bypassing MP3 discs
in favor of hard drives and memory sticks? I've studied the
electronics, and I appreciate that the error-insensitivity of data
formats requires entirely separate transports, but is the MTBF under
vibration *that* much worse? And I'd assume the ace-in-the-hole is
that data CD's don't have to be accessed in real-time; buffer whole
sectors instead. In an age of $30 24x IDE CDROMs -- and, more
importantly, $250 IDE CDROM burners for home users -- is there any
reason other than Massive Corporate CrossOwnership of All Media
preventing the cartel from manufacturing these things?

For those of you playing the home game, the RoZone roster has also
been boosted by the addition of a new UCI Sun Sparcstation Ultra 5,
bringing the office desk to *five* 19" color displays. This is a
little ridiculous, as you can imagine. I'm gonna have to go to Home
Depot and buy some concrete blocks and pine shelves to get some desk
space back. And not *one* of the keyboard-mouse combos are
interchangeable via A/B boxes -so that's 4 keyboards and mice, too.

@Home: Classic NeXT Slab, PowerBook G3, DEC Pentium Hinote (busted LCD)
@Home: NeXT Laser Printer, color scanner, CD burner, 19" color monitor
@Work: Turbo Color NeXT, Dual-headed HP NeXT, Sparcstation 4, Sun Ultra 5
@Work: external 8 gig hard drive

So that's 4 IP drops at home, and 6 at work (alternate laptop addrs).
And oh yeah, a null modem 10BaseT for direct connections (works great
between Macs -- who knows about PCs...) Let's not even get into the
real orphan hardware: Psion 3a, NCR pen windows tablet...

I still need to look into a TV and stereo -- but I haven't watched TV
in months, unless I'll get cable. And I can't get too nice of a stereo
in an apartment complex... maybe I should get a digital projector

And a cable dock for the Mac -- but it's $196.64 @ CDW...

But perhaps I better get around to billing some 4K Associates clients first.