Coded green.

Monday 8 August 2005

Chaotic computer corner

Pic of the day: I am innocent! I have been framed!


Last night, as I was peacefully playing in my bedroom*, I heard a clunking sound from the direction of the living room or kitchen. There shouldn't be anyone there, and the sound was not one of a stack of magazines sliding out on the floor, as sometimes happens even in my absence. I rose and went to inspect.

(* The bedroom computer has the best video card in the house, and I am hesitant to try to switch it over to the older computer... after all, it is written: "No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined." And this episode did not exactly encourage it any further.)

There was a strange stink in the living room, a smell of overheated chemicals. I immediately leaped to the conclusion that my computer had finally melted down, most likely one of the external hard disks. One of them in particular is always uncomfortably warm, and furthermore its predecessor died the click death. Strangely enough the hard disk light was still pulsating. Perhaps the fan? I've had two computers now where the fans were not exactly stable, but then again fans may not be the most stable creatures... Anyway I did not take the time to figure out exactly what was melted down, for the air was quickly filling with thin but acrid smoke. I would not be able to breathe here anymore. I threw open the window, flipped off the master power switch for my computer stuff, and fled the house.

I returned to fasten the front door in wide open position, to let the air blow through the rooms. I returned once again to open the bedroom window, but make sure the door was shut. After 20-30 minutes I could stay in the bedroom, but the living room was still off limits. In fact, even the next morning there was a strong chemical smell in the living room. Needless to say perhaps, I did not leave the computer on while I went to work, as I have normally done.

It was only in the evening when the sun was setting that I discovered the truth. I tried to switch on the table lamp, which held an energy saving small fluorescent tube instead of a bulb. It did not turn on, and there was a sooty patch at the base. The smell was centered on that. It was after all not the computer, but the lamp that had "melted down". My computer was innocent all along!


Well, in my defense, the smell was very similar to that of a new computer being burned in, or even an older computer being heated more than normal. This is a smell I have recently sensed at work in small amounts, after I installed the folding@home background process at my portable computer there. Now all through the office hours, it keeps churning away on protein folding on behalf of the Standford University. It seems like a noble purpose, don't you think? Curing cancer and mad cow disease. Well, taking baby steps in the general direction of doing that. With computers doubling their power every 18 months, these things should eventually be within grasp anyway, but farming the job out to a million or two computers should bring it on a bit faster.

Anyway, I am now back to running my living room computer day and night, to the delight of people who need to download family-friendly fansubbed anime, particularly Pita Ten, Aishiteru ze Baby, Da Capo, Keroro Gunso and Mamotte Shugogetten... series that are distributed one episode at a time. A noble purpose too, don't you think? Cultural exchange is good for the soul. And not as harmful for the computer as I feared.

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: Recipe for human soup
Two years ago: What's new?
Three years ago: Boring myself
Four years ago: Liquidity
Five years ago: Thou shouldn't covet
Six years ago: "No poop in cave"

Visit the for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.

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