Monday, July 20, 1998

Well, this has been a stereotypical Monday so far. Everything I try doesn't work. Everything I touch breaks. It started when I attempted to send mail to an address I needed to look up in my Outlook 98 personal address book. The listings are no longer alphabetized, probably as a result of the experimenting I did trying to import addresses.

Nothing fixes the problem. I've tried changing and rechanging the Sort by Last Name / Sort by First Name option; deleting all the names and adding them back; deleting the .PAB file and letting OL98 recreate it; and reverting to an earlier and known-good version of the PAB. OL98 no longer alphabetizes listings in the PAB, period. There's no apparent rhyme or reason to how it lists them now. They're not alpha by first or last name, by email address, by date entered, or by date last used.

I can't find anything anywhere about how to fix this problem. That's the trouble with products like OL98 that depend on a huge monolithic data file. It's all or nothing. When something gets screwed up, there's no way to locate the problem, let alone resolve it.

I decided to bag working on the PAB problem. I can live with it for now. I need to record the audio clips for the fifth and final MCSE training course I wrote for DigitalThink. They'd FexEx'd me the DAT deck as usual. The thing is so sensitive to extraneous noises that I have to set up a pseudo recording studio / anechoic chamber in the walk-in closet in our master bedroom. This time, I could hear a low rumble that I was sure the tape would capture. I'd turned off nearly everything including the air conditioning, and still the noise persisted. I was beginning to wonder if the exhaust turbines on the roof were causing the problem.

The one thing I hadn't shut down was my main workstation, a Dell mini-tower unit. It makes almost no noise sitting there on the desk, but my office adjoins the master bedroom, so I decided to power it down, too. Sure enough, the low-frequency rumble went away. My desk is a 3-0 door mounted on 2X4's screwed to the studs. Apparently, the rumble, although not audible at all in my office, transfers through the desk surface and into the studs. With that problem solved and the ambient temperature climbing rapidly, I started to make the recordings. The one DAT tape that DigitalThink sent with the deck broke, and the deck made a nasty chewing sound. I didn't feel like spending an hour driving down to the mall to find a DAT tape, so I called DT and asked them to send me a new one.

When the TrippLite UPS blew up, they sent me an advance-ship replacement unit, and promised to also send a pickup tag so I could return the failed unit without having to pay shipping. Since then, I've gotten two invoices (at full list price yet), but no pickup tag. I finally got through to the number they showed on the invoice and told someone there what had happened. He said he'd send the call tag, which arrived Saturday, with a note dated 7/14. I packed up and sealed the unit.

Half an hour later, the mail showed up. I might have guessed. A second call tag showed up - this one with a note dated 6/29. I can't blame the Post Office for this one though. The date on the meter stamp was 7/14. The RMA numbers are different, so now I wonder if they're going to think I owe them two UPS's instead of one. I think my next UPS will be from APC.

Speaking of UPS, my case and power supply finally showed up from PC Power & Cooling. Now all I have to do is find time to build the system.

Tuesday, July 21, 1998

Much better day today. I spent the early morning working on the book proposal. FedEx showed up this morning with the replacement DAT tapes, and I spent the remainder of the morning recording the audio clips for the final DigitalThink think course. The thing's boxed up and ready to be picked up by FedEx. It's sitting alongside the dead UPS that's boxed up and ready to be picked up by RPS. This must be a good day. I opened a 3-litre Coke and found I'd won a free 20 ounce Coke. Small victory, but nice.

From lunchtime on, I continued work on the TOC/Outline for the book I'm proposing. I told my editor I'd have a polished TOC/Outline to him by Thursday, and I still have quite a bit left to do. He reminded me that the publisher prefers narrative outlines to the standard indented type, so I need to convert everything to narrative style.

Well, FedEx showed up to pick up the DAT deck, and RPS showed up to pick up the dead UPS. At one point, there were three package delivery trucks in the street in front of the house - FedEx, RPS, and UPS. It looked like a TV commercial.

Wednesday, July 22, 1998

Barbara works noon until 9:00 at her library on Wednesdays, and spends Wednesday mornings cleaning house. I've tried to convince her to hire someone to clean, but she's not happy with how anyone else cleans her house. To avoid being unintentionally sucked into the vacuum, the dogs and I hide in my office with the door closed while she cleans.

Now that the vacuuming is over and I can hear myself think again, it's back to working on the proposal and sample pages. I'll get as much done today and tomorrow morning as I can and then email it up to the editor for his criticism.

Well, my agent said he wanted to look at my stuff before I sent it to the publisher. After he looked at it, he suggested I send it to the publisher as is, which I did. Writers hate to have people see their stuff before it's polished, but I made an exception this time. I hope it doesn't come back to bite me.

Since I suddenly found myself with some free time, I decided to head over to CSO to buy the processors, memory, CD-ROM drive, and video card that I need to build my new box. Not only did they not have the PII/233's, but they were out of stock on the 266's as well. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, because outfits the size of Insight and NECX are also out of stock on the 233's and 266's, and don't have any promised delivery times.

CSO had the PII/300's, but it doesn't make sense to pay almost twice as much for a processor that's only about 25% faster. Fortunately, I was talking to a tech instead of salesman (techs always tell the truth). The tech said he'd hold out for the two 233's for about $380 rather than buy the two 300's now for $700. I really wanted to build this box, and was considering just buying two 300's when the tech mentioned that Intel had a scheduled price cut on Monday. I'd forgotten about that. Perhaps the reason the 233's and 266's are so hard to come by is that they're being discontinued. We'll see what happens Monday.

In the mean time, our friend Robin was supposed to come over Sunday to help me build the new PC. Looks like that's off. I guess we'll reschedule for the following weekend. Nothing is ever easy.

Thursday, July 23, 1998

I checked the web for news on the Intel price cuts due next Monday. They're cutting the price of the PII/300 (quantity 1,000) from $305 to $210, with similar cuts in price for the PII/333, 350, and 400. No mention I could find of new pricing on the PII/233 or 266, so it looks as though they may have been discontinued. CSO wants $365 for a PII/300 right now, but that's the boxed version with the fan. My guess is that the new price will be around $250, which is worth paying compared to $195 for the current PII/233. I'll check with CSO Monday to see what the new prices are.

Spent most of the day doing research and making notes for the book I'm proposing. I put in an awful lot of preliminary work on each of my books, in the hope that it'll save time and effort down the line. At this point, I'm starting to get a very good idea of what this book will be like.

Friday, July 24, 1998

A day of miscellany. Some work on the book outline, but mostly just work on a grabbag of things that needed to be done. My current DigitalThink editor called to say that he was leaving DT and returning to Boston. It appears that I'll be doing the finish work on the fifth course with the editor that I had for the first two courses. That's three editors for five courses - four if you count re-runs. That's okay, though. All three of them have been good to work with, and shifting editor assignments are just a part of working with a startup company.

I took down my network for the usual full weekly backup at 3:00 p.m., a bit earlier than usual. I felt like taking the afternoon off. It's been one of those weeks where I worked hard and felt like I was accomplishing something, but at the end of the week I didn't have much to show for it. Well, there are always going to be that kind of weeks.

Saturday, July 25, 1998

The usual Saturday morning routine. Play around on the web a little bit. Do the laundry, etc. We're off to my sister-in-law's house this afternoon for my father-in-law's birthday dinner. He's 76 years old, and still walks 18 holes of golf several times a week. I can't imagine doing that myself with the 100 - 105 heat indices we've been having lately. I think I'll take the rest of the weekend off.


Updated: 31 May 2002 14:21

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All Rights Reserved.