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DMI News

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Part 2.... the quest to satisfy the impatient ones

August 12, 2004 10:03

Continuing the story of the roomie debacle...

Back in the day, Gertie lived in Greenville with her two daughters, however, after being laid off from her job and after several months of unemployment and fruitless job searching, she finally got a job down in Jacksonville and moved down there, temporarily staying with her parents. At least, temporary was the plan.

However, as could sometimes be expected, the anticipation of saving while having reduced expenses was not realized. Her parents put some financial demands upon her, a long drive to work required extensive gas money, and she was therefore not able to move out on her own as quickly as she had planned.

However, as we slowly made up from a previous incident, the possibility of us eventually moving in together became more evident, and we eventually made plans to get her moved up where I live. Now, we wouldn't be able to immediately move in together, since I promised wes & cari I'd stay there for a year, and of course, she'd need to get a job, and the kids would need to transfer schools again, so as time went on, it was decided that the kids would finish out school where they were, and Gertie would move up here, stay with me for a couple weeks while she found a job, and then she'd get her own apartment and move the kids up here after the school year ended. Then after her 6 month lease ended, my year stay would have been up and we'd pursue a place to live together. This would also allow us to get used to being closer to each other without actually living under the same roof. I'm certain living together wouldn't be a problem, but it's always nice to take things slow and easy.

She had originally planned to move up around March, and was in fact invited to do so by both Wes & Cari numerous times. However a medical problem in her family delayed her move up here, so we finally decided to move her up around May 1st. This was planned at least several weeks in advance, and everyone, including my roommates, were excited about the move. Or at least, so I thought.

The day before she moves up, she worked her last day at her job and quit that day, although she'd been giving notice for a couple months now. Wes asks me early that afternoon when Gertie was coming down and I told him tomorrow. He seemed relieved by that revelation and told me he'd talk about it later. After he got home that night, he sat down and typed up a letter and gave it to me. It was May 1st.

To be continued...


Stuff that's new, stuff that's fixed...

August 09, 2004 21:39

Yes, part 2 is coming soon. But not yet :)

The new server is off and running nicely, although there have been some glitches along the way. The most recent glitch is still an issue, but I've discovered the cause at least. Just need to get it fixed and the server will stop locking up for hours at a time.

Gertie now has a cam of her own. Please go harrass her frequently.

I've added cam schedules to the webcam management page so those of you who have cams can perform certain activities on the cam at scheduled times. Useful if you want to make sure it turns off at night or something.

The primary cam harvester has been updated. It will no longer pause if someone leaves their cam activated, and if they don't deactivate it or return within several minutes, it will deactivate automatically. Now that it hits individual cams at the specified rate, the cache is much more effective.

I'm going to implement a number of database upgrades in the near future. This will give me a number of new variables I can work with, and make both yours and my life easier. Some of the new features I'll be able to implement:

- directable webpage messages that can go somewhere other than the chatroom.
- Forced cache and auto cache will let people control when the cam image comes from the website and when it comes directly from the host. Cache is slower, but requires a lot less bandwidth for the cam host.
- Music control. Currently, those who have this capability are beneifiaries of hardcoding.
- Automated Phone taps. Right now it's always on. I'm working on the circuitry to detect the phone online and bring the link up only then. This will be available to anyone with the proper hardware.
- Visitors will be able to specify their own webpage types in the visitors fields.
- Cams will have a different ranking scheme. Currently it's in the order they were added to the database.

and plenty of other features, mostly which will not have any noticable effect from the site itself but will make other features possible in the future.

When I get things ironed out on the server, I'm going to consider working on a windows program based on webcam2000 that will provide a single program that will serve both the webcam and also have built in support for x10 and parallel port controlled appliances, so the windows users will be able to interface these devices to the site if they wish. I will probably then sell simple kits to get people online with this stuff if they dont' want to scour the internet and electronics stores looking for it themselves.

And I'll get going on part 2, I promise. :)


Why Roommates are a bad idea. Part 1

August 03, 2004 13:59

For those that aren't aware of my recent past, I'll give a quickie summary. I've lived alone since 1995 in a 4 bedroom house that I rented. My financial situation has been flaky at best, but I've managed to keep at least a good report with my landlord and all in all, I managed to stay even and I got by. Last august, she found a more desireable tenant and decided to let me go. I immediately had another place to move to which was equally desireable, so the moving wasn't THAT bad of an experience, but due to a last minute incident that nobody foresaw, that opportunity disappeared, in probably the worst possible way. So I ended up at my parents.

I had no desire to stay there any longer than possible, so I started hoarding cash so I could buy a place of my own. No more landlords, no more surprises. However, this was likely going to take several months. And since the ONLY internet connection I had avaialble was a 64kbps isdn line, that got intolerable very quickly. However, the day I moved in, I was offered a room in a friend's place as soon as he bought it. Since he was in the process of buying one and had one selected, this was likely to happen within a month. Yes, I'd be renting again, but it would be a lot cheaper than I was used to in the past and would still give me a chance to save up for a place of my own after a year or so. And more importantly, I'd get decent bandwidth again. So I graciously accepted his offer.

Keep in mind, he, and everyone he lived with, and both familes were well aware of the website, and in fact were encouraged by that fact. They thought it would be fun having it in their house. We discussed this fact in great detail, including where we would put cams, who would have control over them, etc. This was never an issue that was in dispute.

However, the first few houses they looked at fell through on offers, so it took until the end of november to actually get moved out of my parents place. By that time, I had saved up enough cash that I could have waited another couple months and just gotten my own place, but I was at the end of my rope and didn't want to wait it out any longer. And besides, I had promised that I was going to move in and stay there for a year, because they needed the rent income.

From the beginning there were a few problems. Despite the fact that THEY chose where the lamps were going to be, and I could have put them anywhere, lamps were frequently turned off without telling me, forcing me to go find out what was wrong with them, only to repeat the process. Cameras were covered or turned away from the lamps they were viewing. Certainly, there might have been privacy or annoyance issues to contend with, but I continue to ask if there was a problem and got not indication of one. I spent a great deal of time rearranging things so they were comfortable. Finally things seemed to settle down. And live continued normally, until May 1st.

.... To be Continued....


Done Moving

August 01, 2004 20:38

I'm all done moving. Currently I'm living in my parents' house, but hopefully within 2 weeks to a month I'll have a place of my own. Gertie and her daughters will be moving in with me at that time, or so says the master plan.

Conditions at my old place over the last few months will be explained for those who weren't fully aware of them. I will write this up over the next few days and tell you all about it.

The new server seems to be functioning well. However, there are a number of minor glitches, mostly with comments, but also with a few other things. I will repair these over the next few days. I will also set up a couple cams and most of the toys here so you can play with them again, hopefully by tomorrow.


The Last Mile

July 26, 2004 02:19

This is my last week for living in this house. Saturday will be my last day, although I suspect I'll be mostly moved out before that. My plans are to find a local storage facility, get a 10x15 unit and just stuff everything I don't need immedately in there, and other than the computers, that accounts for just about, well, everything.

Paul pondered some promising potential prospect properties in Princeton. It's this rural area that's still close enough to Dallas, but far enough away that all the negatives, and a great many of the benefits that living in a large city would provide, are simply not there. But who needs broadband and sewer service anyway? There is a wireless ISP in the area that covers most of the properties we're looking at, and they'll be able to provide me everything I need as far as bandwidth goes, so no crisis there. Civilization can be damned, so long as I have my internet. I temporarily got all excited about these wonderful mobile homes on acre plots. Then I remembered that I don't like mobile homes, even though I couldn't remember exactly why when I glanced in at the huge home that's extremely cheap and available right now... and all I'd have to do is go buy it... and I wouldn't have to live with my parents...

Then Gertie gave me the 3rd degree... or is it the 5th degree... who cares, someone was heated about it. Mobile homes are cheap for a reason. They're cheap. Price is only one factor. Certainly, it would probably be more cost effective than paying rent. And in the right circumstances, it would probably work out fine. But despite the available land, the chances of building a conventional home on that property and getting a worthwhile value out of it would be insubstantial.

There's also this small 2 bedroom house, which just so happens to be 2 stories and larger than most of the 3 bedroom homes we've been looking at recently. It also has a view of the lake. And I mean a VIEW of the lake, not "See that there crik down there? Well, that there crik will done trickle down to tha river...", no, you see the lake. it's lake front... well, unless you count the road and the land between the road and the lake, but it's there. Nevermind. we'll get pictures as soon as we get out there. It claims to be a handyman special. Some work is required. That means it's probably missing all appliances, most of the walls, and mold that has mutated into a new lifeform, subject under provisions of the endangered species act, meaning we wouldn't be able to remove it, only live in harmony with it, as it slowly munched away. Or maybe it just needs some paint. Pictures will be forthcoming.

To tide you over until then, here's a picture of Gertie. I considered posting a picture from the other side, but I actually want to survive the night.

Early this week I'll start moving the site off this network to a hosted server... somewhere else. Despite what happens with me in the near future, the site will not be out of operation during the process.


More House Hunting

July 25, 2004 03:50

While the other house we looked at is currently in negotiations with the winning bidder, and may yet become available again, although likely for far more than I'm willing to pay for it, we decided to pursue other wonderful opportunities. Here I shall extol the glory of the fine upstanding homes we looked at today. Proceed at your own risk.

Our first stop was this wonderful house. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a few other features I'm sure you'll agree will result in a quick sale of this impressive achievement of repossession.

As you might suspect, that is in fact a plywood patch decor on the front porch. We suspect the previous owner was an artist and this is some new eclectic design, but there's always the rare possibility that they were hoping to subtly cover up gaping holes in the wall. The world may never know.

You will notice here the lovely carpet pattern, which incidently is repeated throughout the entire house. The odor upon entering is a musky scent.

A hallway view of the master bedroom shows an even more interesting carpet design. As far as we can determine, it consists of carpet, dog urine, muddy footprints, and a black fluid substance presently unknown to science. Further research and lab cultures will be required to determine if any new forms of life have evolved in this pristine environment. Although the dog urine MIGHT have contributed to the almost overpowering stench of the home, there certainly must be more to it than that. Certainly....

The next home we looked at is the same floorplan as the first, but with extra foliage in the front yard.

The floor in the living area at first appears to be tile. On further research, you will instead discover that they simply painted the foundation. Clearly a slight patchup job is required.

Something in this picture is missing.

Here too.

At first glance, you might think that this house was infested with canines with bladder problems as well. At second and third glance, along with sensory input from the olfactory glands, you will indeed determine that those are in fact urine stains, and they are in fact contributing to the atmospheric ambiance.

A non transparent, non translucent window. We used to call them doors or walls, but certainly somewhere, somehow, there is a market for this hotly desired product.

This one looks nice.

Still looks nice.

Still looks nice.

STILL looks nice.

AND it has a hot tub!

This one looked very nice, both from the outside and inside, although we weren't able to enter the house, so we can't give you a firsthand impression of the likely pet contingent of the previous owners. From a "peering in a window suspiciously" observational position, we determined that it's probably in great condition, and therefore certainly out of our pricerange.

This house is blue. As Gertie said the other day, it's her favorite of all the blue houses. It still will get a paintjob, should we someday call it ours.

A rental/FSBO house we looked at. Very good shape, both inside and outside, and vacant. Nothing shocking to show you, so here's a picture of Gertie from the back.

And from the side.

A matchbox of a house. This was in relatively good shape, compared to some of the others we looked at, yet still in need of work.

This one looks somewhat decent from the outside.

The previous occupants, which may or may not have been there with permission of the owner, have added their own intellegent artistic flavor to the decor. At this point, you're left to wonder. Should we paint the walls 5 times, or just rip them out completely.

And to finish things off, another picture of half of Gertie. And the storage shed. Which apparently has no floor. Walls and a rainproof roof also seem to be precious commodities too.



July 24, 2004 02:42

Well, the house we looked at is currently in negotiations. The bank wants more than the winning bidder put up, so they're hashing it out. If they can't come to an agreement, it'll go back on the market and I'll find out how much the winning bid was. I won't go over $25K for it, but that's neither here nor there right now.

We've scouted out a dozen other houses, none quiet that cheap, but still affordable. Mostly 3 bedroom houses on a lot large enough to allow for additions. Some are BINOP's, some are manufactured. One happens to be literally right down the street from where I am now. We'll be taking pictures of some of the more likely prospects tomorrow and keep ya'll posted.

One way or another, I'm moving out of here by the 1st of August. I'll be moving the primary system to a hosted server at that point and I'll probably be temporarily living with my parents again, unless by some miracle we find a house and are able to move in by then. However, the horrid bandwidth crisis I had the last time I was there will be alleviated. With the site itself, along with the IRC server on a decent network, I won't have to contend with trying to squeeze all that traffic through a miniscule pipe. They finally brought cable to my parents neighborhood, and while it's still rather weak as broadband goes, it's much better than ISDN was. I'll put a few cams up there, but I've got the site decentralized enough that my cams aren't absolutely vital to the operation anymore.


Strike 1

July 21, 2004 02:05

Well, I didn't win the bid on the house. However, at this time, that's all I know. At this point, there are still two possibilities of getting it. Either the bank is the one that won the bid, which means it'll go to a daily bidding process where they'll try again each day until someone beats the bank, or if the winner doesn't post their earnest money and do their paperwork within 48 hours, the house will go back on the market again and I'll get another shot at it. Tomorrow I'll check and find out how much the bid was so I'll know if I was even close or not. At the very least, next time I'll know better how much to guess.

In any event, the house search resumes.


The Lowball

July 19, 2004 18:50

As a few of you know, I'll be moving out of my current residence shortly, and therefore have been pursuing new accomodations. Whilst hunting we were, Gertie stumbled upon a property listed for $15000. After assuring myself that undeveloped land didn't usually include 3 bedrooms and vaulted ceilings, we decided to check it out. While driving out toward it, the houses got bigger and bigger. And bigger. We figured it had to be a typo. They must have left off a digit or three. However, when finally we reached the cross street, indeed, the average home price dropped to 10% of what it was a mere 1/2 mile up the road. A fly in a developers ointment, the house would turn out not to be.

After some confusion involving no small amount of dyslexia, we finally located the house:

It doesn't look too bad from the outside. The original section of the house is on the right. The two story part apparently was added on later. However, it definitely comes with some assembly required.

The kitchen has no appliances, except of course the kitchen sink. They actually left SOMETHING behind. Otherwise, it's quite the spacious kitchen. And that leads out into a living area, with a bathroom over in the back corner.

There is one obvious bedroom on the ground floor, and the possibility of easily making a second one downstairs, although you would have to walk through a bedroom to get to the laundry room the way they have it laid out. Not sure what they were smoking when they planned that out, but it must be the good stuff.

The entire upstairs is one huge mastersuite. A bedroom area then leads into a hallway with the bathroom on the left and a large closet on the right. At the end of the hallway is a large sitting room with windows looking out on the lake. Well, it will look out on the lake once the trees are significantly cut back.

Outside in front are, count them, THREE storage sheds, all of which have electricity. We figured we can convert one of them into a clubhouse for Marjorie, another can be a mini workshop, and the last one we can use as a guest room for visitors we don't like.

Anyway, the bid has been submitted, and the auction is tomorrow, so I'll know in the morning if I have it or not. It's possible if nobody else bids on it, I might get to play a bidding war with the bank for a while. I might go as high as 20K on it. No idea how much the bank has in it. The $15k price quoted is the appraised value of the land. The structures are just thrown in for shits and giggles.

We shall see.


What was once lost, has been regained

June 24, 2004 13:53

Some of you were there, and others have heard about the great HD crash of Feb 2003. It was a sorrowful time. We paniced, we cried. To put not too fine a point on it, it sucked ass. Of insignificant consequence, I lost 50 gigs of various media. Of more significant consequence, I lost the home directories of many people who used my server. However, the real tragedy was the loss of my home directory and the site itself. I was able to recover the site partially through a very old backup and google's cache, but all the dynamic code controlling it was gone, and therefore had to be rewritten from scratch. At this point, it's not terribly important to recover the code, as most of it has been rewritten, but there was content on the site itself that was gone forever.

Until now.

Back when it happened, I tried various schemes to see if I could recover anything from the disk. When most of my halfbaked ideas had failed, I decided to just run e2fsck on it just to see if it could make any sense of the mindless jumble. On the server at the time, it ran for 6 days, and then finally the computer crashed. I decided at that point to just give up and move on with my life. I saved the drive, figuring someday in the future I'd try again. I finally got around to it last night. Since I now have computers that are an order of magnitude faster, I plugged the drive in and ran e2fsck again. It ran all night. This morning, I noticed it had finished, seemingly successful. I mounted the partition. The directory was intact. I checked the lost+found directory.


Of course, now it's just a matter of getting it off the drive and saved safely somewhere so I can sift through the rubble and see what I've got. I had long ago decided that i was gone forever, but now I've got a second chance to see what was really lost.

I've already restored all the news that was missing from that period. I've got several other things in mind that need to be recovered and will do so over the next few days. If you lost a directory on here when it crashed, lemme know, it's likely that it has returned from the dead.