Saturday, March 5, 2022

The least popular Dell PC ever

 My latest retro computer acquisition is a Dell Web-PC. This models sales were abysmal, Dell only sold a few thousand for the 9 months it was available. Really, this was too bad because it was ahead of its time for 1999. It was the first legacy free PC on the market. By legacy free, I mean it has no floppy drive, no serial port, no printer port, no PS2 mouse and keyboard ports. The system sported three USB ports for peripherals, integrated modem, audio and video. The CPU is a Celeron running a 466Mhz, 64 MB of RAM and a whooping 5GB hard drive. The most interesting thing about this machine was the coffee maker design of the case.

When I received this one, I had three major issues. First I noticed the power supply was not screwed down and was loose in the case. Some one had opened it for one reason or another and when they put it back together, they did not screw in the power supply properly. This was an easy 10 minute fix for me to open it and screw everything in proper. When I booted it up, the first thing it told me was the memory size had changed, now I knew why they opened it up.

The second issue was it would not boot into Windows 98, it would get to a screen where it was identifying my monitor and it would freeze. I had no problem getting into Safe Mode, so I cleaned things up as best I could, cleared out the Startup folder, uninstalled the old ass version of McAfee and cleaned up the registry. It still would not boot into Windows 98. So I booted to command prompt only, went into C:\Windows\Options\Cabs  and ran setup.exe. I know some of you are cringing right now, a dirty reinstall of Windows 98 was very much a no-no back in the day. In my defense, this was a last ditch effort to save this install, if it did not work I was going to have to do a clean install anyway, so I went for it. Fortunately it worked for me and I was able to get into Windows 98. I then went ahead and did some maintenance on it, I ran disk cleanup, made a complete run of chkdsk and defraged the drive. There is nothing more fascinating than watching Windows 98 defrag 1.5 GB of data on a 23 year hard drive.

The final problem was once inside Windows I found the CDROM did not work. I tried re-seating the cables to no avail. This does not really bother me much, I suspect I can probably get a replacement easily enough, but at the moment I have no particular need for it.

While this is not the fault of the machine itself, but rather the time frame in which it was designed, it does not have any network ports, nor does it have any PCI ports to add one. I can't say I really need to get this machine on the internet and in fact it would probably be a bad idea. However if I ever beed to, I expect I can find an USB Ethernet dongle that will do the job, but for now, I will leave it be.


I realized I had an old TrendNet wireless USB dongle that had Windows 98 support. I used my USB floppy to install the Windows 98 Mass Storage drivers, which allows me to plug in USB drives. I then used a 32 MB USB drive to install the TrendNet drivers. Worked perfectly, the system is now online, although I still don't think having a Windows 98 machine on the internet is a good idea.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Review: Arthur Rex by Thomas Berger

Arthur Rex: A Legendary NovelArthur Rex: A Legendary Novel by Thomas Berger
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this book in High School, I had a fond memory of it being a new and interesting take on Arthurian legend. Well, this book did not age well at all. While the story loosely followed the well known adventures of the Knights of the Round Table, the characterizations were terrible. Virtually every major character was made out to be not just flawed but so terribly flawed that their flaws out shined their good attributes, the things that made them heroes. The character who took the worst hit was Guinevere.

The representation of Guinevere was terrible. She was represented as a complete bitch, she was shallow and cared for no one except for herself. She did not love either Arthur or Lancelot and made both of their lives miserable. I much prefer the older versions of her, where she loved both men and was eternally torn between them. Lancelot did not fair much better, being characterized as a bitter, miserable man being held hostage by Guinevere. This was not a beautiful if doomed romance, but rather an abusive relationship between two broken people. Arthur himself was nothing more than a buffoon where most all of the events of the books happen in spite of him, rather than because of anything he did or said. The author probably could have made him a minor side character and it would have made no difference to the story.

If you are looking for a good modern retelling of this tale, Arthur Rex is not it. I wish I had left this on the shelf as a memory from my teenage years.

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Saturday, February 19, 2022

RE: My conversation with a Presuppositionist Part 1

 I was going to post the 2nd part of this discussion because I thought the first part went pretty well. Unfortunately the second session did not happen, his account was banned, so I can only assume his conversations with other people were not as polite as the one he had with me.

Friday, February 18, 2022

My conversation with a Presuppositionist Part 1

 The following is a conversation I recently had with an internet acquaintance. As a side note, this is how I remember the conversation and it may not be 100% accurate.

Presup: You are an atheist? You don't believe in God?

Me: Nope, I do not believe believe in God.

Presup: You don't believe in god or you deny the existence of god?

Me: Ah, you are trying to shift the burden of proof to me, I am cool with that. I'll make this easy for you, I deny the existence of god.

Presup: How did you come to that conclusion?

Me: I read the Bible, the Quran and various other religious texts and I have found none of them convincing. I have also had many many many conversations with theists over the years and none of them has ever produced a shred of evidence that any sort of god exists.

Presup: Yes but how have you proven that god does not exist?

Me: The same way you have proven fairies don't exist.

Presup: That does not answer the question, if you are going to make the claim that God does not exist you have to prove it.

Me: So you have to prove fairies don't exit before you can make the claim that fairies don't exist?

Presup: We are not talking about fairies, we are talking about God.

Me: Now who is not answering questions. Do you believe in fairies?

Presup: No of course not, but there have been no divine revelations about fairies, God has been revealed through divine revelation.

Me: Okay, provide me with evidence of this divine revelation.

Presup: I don't think you understand the position you are in, you have made a claim that you need to provide evidence for.

Me: This is what I call the "Nigerian Prince Fallacy", see I don't have to automatically believe everything anyone tells me, just because I have no evidence to the contrary, my default position is to not accept anything without evidence. If I receive an email from someone claiming to be a Nigerian Prince, who says if I send them $10,000, he will give me $10,000,000, should I believe him and send him $10,000 or should my default position be disbelief?

Presup: Your analogy does not hold up, there is evidence for God, because he has revealed himself through divine revelation.

Me: You keep saying that, but so far I have seen no evidence of god or divine revelation.

Presup: But you have not provided any evidence that God does not exist.

Me: So what?

Presup: Your position is unreasonable, you can't deny the existence of god if you have no evidence that he does not exist.

Me: Sure I can watch "I deny the existence of god because I have seen no evidence to prove his existence.", there I just did it. If you think that requiring evidence before belief is unreasonable, then I have a Nigerian Prince I'd like to introduce you to.

Presup: I don't think you understand burden of proof, you are making a claim that God does not exist, now you have to prove your claim. Lack of evidence is not in and of itself evidence. Give me an example other than God where lack of evidence is evidence for something?

Me: Sure, fairies, unicorns, leprechauns, dragons, do you want me to go on? I have the D&D Monster Manual on my bookshelf, so I can go on. 

Presup: You don't understand what I am saying. You can't be 100% sure there is no God if you don't have any evidence that God doesn't exist, it is unreasonable to think otherwise.

Me: I understand you perfectly and I disagree, I think accepting any premise on face value without evidence is the unreasonable stance, not vice versa.

Presup: I don't think you are as smart as you think you are. You are not getting it, you have the burden of proof here, you have to provide evidence.

Me: My wife would certainly agree that I am not as smart as I think I am, but I do know one thing, I have never fallen for the Nigerian Prince scam, I have also never tithed 10% of my income to a church so they could build yet another church nor have I been required to sacrifice any animals.

Presup: I think your worldview leaves a lot to be desired and you still haven't proved God does not exist.

Me: I would also point out that you have done nothing to convince me that God or any god exists. I think this is where the problem is. See, I have no desire to prove anything to you, I am not trying to convert you to my viewpoint,  if you want to continue believing in your god, go for it, The only reason we are having this conversation is because you challenged my belief that no god exists, had you not brought it up, I would have never challenged your belief in god, because I simply don't care if you believe in god or not. I am not and I never have been an activist atheist.

Presup: When you told me you were an atheist, wasn't that a challenge to my belief?

Me: Only if you took it that way, you told me you were a Christian weeks ago, did I ever say a word about it? In fact you did not even know I was an atheist until you asked me if I went to church. I am happy to continue this conversation, but I really think if we do you should take a different approach with me, you will never convince me like this.

Presup: Well what I am trying to do is show you that your worldview is flawed and you should at least consider the possibility that God exists and you keep refusing to provide evidence for your claim that God does not exist and you keep saying lack of evidence is evidence and that is not true.

Me: Except you are trying to overcome my very reasonable default position of not accepting things at face value. I would suggest trying a different line of questioning, because you are getting nowhere with this one.

Presup: Only because you are not thinking this through logically. 

Me: Maybe that is because you have not given me anything to work with, you say god exists, but you have not defined god, the word god means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To me, the Christian God is no different that Zeus or Allah or Yahweh. Maybe next time we can pick up with you being more specific about god and what your worldview actually is and then I can be more specific about why that god does not exist.

Presup: Okay


Presup: Later!

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Review: The Round House by Louise Erdrich

The Round HouseThe Round House by Louise Erdrich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a dark book, unfortunately being from Montana means I am aware of just how tragically accurate this book is. Native American women are horribly vulnerable to being raped and murdered, in my home town, growing up hardly a week went by where the police blotter report did not include an attack on a woman from the nearby reservation, mostly by white men, rarely were these men ever tried, let alone convicted, even if the evidence against them was rock solid.

This story is about one such incident and the dark affect it had on the family in the aftermath, no one, not even close friends get out of these events unscathed emotionally. The main character, Joe is just 13 when his mother is raped and nearly murdered, and he has to witness her dark spiral into depression and the struggle of his father to get justice for her. The story fluctuates between the antics of Joe and and his friends in the summer of 1988 and the truly terrible traumas suffered by his mother and by extension his family. The juxtaposition of these events between what his young life should have been and the stark reality of what is was, makes for an engaging and very sad story.

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Sunday, January 23, 2022

I think time reset today?

 The strangest thing happened today. I was doing my laundry and I remember looking at the clock, it was 2:38 PM, thinking, the dryer should be done at 3:20 PM. I continued to read my book, Round House by Louise Erdrich if you must know, and a few minutes later I felt a bit dizzy. I took a breath and closed my eyes for a moment, just resting, it was nothing bad, just a bit of light headedness. I then opened my eyes and started reading again, I then got a sense of deja vu, like I had read this chapter before. I looked at the clock, and it was 2:15 PM.

Don't get me wrong, I do not believe I actually traveled back in time. I am pretty sure I just misremembered the time when I looked at it the first time and we have feelings of deja vu all the time, it is not really that big of a deal. However for a few minutes, it did throw me off, the experience made me doubt reality, or at least my perception of reality for just just a few minutes. It was just weird, that's all.

Friday, December 31, 2021

My last word of 2021


The Ends Times are here!

The death of Betty White could possibly be heralding the end of the world, because if 2021 got Betty White, then what hope do the rest of us stand!

Happy New Year! I guess

 Well this is it, the closing day of 2021. Really it has not been a terrible year. Sure we are still in the middle of COVID, but lets be honest, we were always going to be dealing with this for 3-5 years, we just did not want to admit it to ourselves. But really, 2021 did not turn out too bad, we got vaccines, so we could start going out again, businesses opened up and we got a little normal back. Things got reorganized at work and I have found myself doing more interesting work with actual challenges instead of just bullshit busy work. I spent more time with Shannon, we actually got out of town a couple of times to have some fun. My visit to Billings was far less stressful than it was in 2020. Over all, 2021 was a good year and I am fairly optimistic about 2022.

Happy New year everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Crypto Currency

 Over the last couple of days I have entered into Crypto mining. No I have not bought a $12,000 Bitcoin miner, I am not that crazy. No, I joined a Monero mining pool, which allows me to put low powered machines to work mining the Monero crypto coin and still some small amount based on how much work these otherwise idle machines do, everyone who contributes CPU cycles gets a cut. I put 2 Raspberry Pi 4's to work along with 2 Optiplex 3050 mini's to work on this project. The 2 Pi's are averaging about 90 hash's per second, the two Optiplex's are averaging around 600 hash's per second. Over the last couple of days as I put my mini farm to work I have acquired 0.0003 Monero or about $0.05. Yeah, I know, its not much, but hey, if I eventually get 1 complete Monero, at its current price of $190, That will pay for every penny of what I have sunk into this equipment over the last 2 or 3 years, then of course I can start paying off the power this sucks down.

I am not a big believer in the whole crypto currency thing. Frankly to me it is like gold in World of Warcraft or maybe even Monopoly Money. It have no real value except what people attribute to it and eventually all those big mining operations and hedge fund managers who are hoarding all this crap are going to cash out and it is all going to come crashing down. There is no way I would ever spend $190 of actual cash on buying a Monero or god forbid $47,000 for a Bitcoin.

So why then am I putting effort into mining it? Well for one thing it is an interesting technical challenge setting up the hardware, compiling the code, getting everything working. Second, though eventually this is all going to come crashing down, until then there are some uses for crypto currency, especially Monero, which has some extra security features on it that make tracking it much more difficult. While I have no intention of doing anything illegal, you just never know when you will need a stash of untraceable money at your disposal.

Anyone interested in getting started should watch this video, it is a great starting place.