And, a corollary to my last post

Inside every silver cloud is a nasty lining.  The VMWare did, in fact, work well.  After I had tested a few things I decided to remove it from my laptop and save the virtual hard drive for use on my desktop after I get home.  This was a good decision, but it’s execution was horrible.  The VMWare uninstall stalled about halfway through and locked up the computer.  Vista was a slightly better error recovery but even it couldn’t kick start the uninstall procedure.  Calling up Program manager and trying to kill the process didn’t work. After messing about for almost half an hour, I decided to try killing explorer.exe.  This did work, sort of.  I regained control of the computer, but now had several uninstall windows on the desktop that wouldn’t go away.  Apparently, they were still in the video RAM, but not connected to Windows at all so I couldn’t do a thing to them.

I looked into the Event Viewer and saw quite a few errors where a VMWare driver or two failed to exit properly.  Most notably were the DHCP and NAT drivers.  I had to go to the Services applet and stop them both, then mark them as ‘disabled’.  Finally my computer would reboot.  When it came back up, I once again tried to uninstall VMWare.  This time it wasn’t listed as an installed program. I checked on the hard drive and everything was still there so I just grabbed it all and deleted it.  Then I went into the Registry and deleted all mention of VMWare.  A tedious task at best.  A final reboot and all was good again.

A word to the wise: if you want to put VMWare on a Vista machine, do NOT start it up using a wireless adapter – do it with a wired connection.  The VMWare network drivers interfere heavily with your wireless connection.  So bad that ONLY the virtual machine has Internet connectivity.  Your local host machine loses its connection to the Internet. And, if you use wireless, you stand a good chance of blowing up like mine did if you try and uninstall while your wireless network is in operation as the VMWare drivers will NOT back out gracefully.

I am sure that there are posts in their help forums concerning this, but as a simple casual user of VMWare I had no intention of searching through posts looking for answers to my current problem. Anyway, VMWare is gone from the machine.

Today is Thanksgiving and the daily newspaper arrives at over four pounds – not cost, but weight, with all the advertisements for stores that open at very early morning hours to trap consumers with tens of dollars to spend.  “Black Friday”, as it is known, is predicted to ‘not be as good as previous years’.  Gosh, I wonder why? Could it be that we have taken a horrible financial beating the entire year?  Could it be that everyone is simply waiting to see what President-elect Obama is going to do his first 90 days in office?  Could it be that everyone who has any money at all is saving it to spend on really important things – like food, heating, and household expenses?

State governments are missing a really good opportunity to garner some extra cash by raising the gasoline taxes slightly as prices drop the same amount.  We’d never miss it, or, perhaps, even see it; but they would grab some extra cash.  One never knows.

How to check out Linux (and not how to)

I’ve always wanted to check out a good version of Linux and ended up visiting the Ubuntu web site.  They have a version (8.10) out now that appears to be very nice indeed.  A long-ish download of 699Mb – 35 minutes for me – and I had the ISO file for it.  I burned it to a CD and started up Microsoft’s Virtual PC.  This was a mistake, but I didn’t know that until after it took me over four hours to just install the version of Linux.

Creating the virtual hard drive and the associated RAM and whatnot needed for the operating system took mere minutes but actually installing the OS took the time.  I knew I was in trouble when the DOS-like screen suddenly divided into a green half and a black half.  Then, all the pixels defining individual characters appeared to ‘split’ into vertical rows of proper pixels and no pixels.  This made reading text really hard.  After a minute of this, the screen then flashed black and vertical green bars appeared. And, no text anymore.

I already knew that the emulated video card for MS’s VPC was just a Trio S3 with 8Mb of RAM.  A very weak card that stopped being sold about 8 or 10 years ago.  The Ubuntu installation also installs with a 24-bit color density – which MS VPC does not support.  This was apparent when the desktop finally appeared.

I clicked a couple of things, opened a few windows, kicked the tires, slammed the doors, and gunned the engine a bit.  What happened was that the wheels fell off.  The screen cleared, then replaced itself with a horizontally-torn replacement that made the mouse pointer appear at six separate horizontal bars approximately 30 pixels apart arranged in a vertical row.  Very much like an old TV set when you played with the horizontal hold and managed to throw it out of kilter. Somehow, the refresh rate had been changed to something the emulated Trio card couldn’t handle.  No amount of messing with it could fix the problem.

I finally just gave up after chatting on the MS VPC newsgroup to some friends who advised that I try VMWare Reader – and a pre-initialized version of Ubuntu Linux.  Once I downloaded the reader, and the compressed OS file I installed them both.  Ubuntu Linux came up flawlessly and allowed me to immediately “see” all the attached computers here and the Internet.  Total time involved: 1.5 hours.

Conclusion: the VMWare Reader and the Ubuntu 8.10 Operating system is the way to go.  Now, I can test some of my web programming on a Linux machine.  If you are curious about Linux and how it operates, and have just a little ‘geek’ in you to give it a go, grab those two (free) items and have at it.

Wellllll shoot. Now what?

On the trip down here we kept hearing ‘rumbles’ whenever certain speeds in certain gears where reached.  Now, after taking it to Midas, I find out that the whole exhaust system from the header down to the tailpipe tip has ‘wormholes’ in it.  The catalytic converter has warm air coming from a seam, and a weld has pulled out of a corner of the muffler.

Topping it all off is that the shop down here in Dallas says they can’t find the parts to repair it and can ‘cobble it together’ for a mere $850.  Not satisfied with this solution, I called my normal Midas shop up in Ohio and asked them – they looked and have all parts available for the job – at about $150 less.

I knew it was going to be expensive, but the first quote was a bit steep – especially since they can only guarantee it for 90 days since it is a ‘cobbled’ job.  The other shop guarantees their work for a year.  Such a difference between supposedly the same company.  Maybe the one down here is not a ‘company’ shop but a franchise.

I walked under the truck while it was on the lift and noted that none of the actual problems are life-threatening (like carbon monoxide in the cab, etc) so I will just wait until I get back to Ohio to get it fixed.  It does sound like a tank at times when I am decelerating.  I don’t like driving any of my vehicles when they are not at 100%, but in this case I’ll make an exception.

Things are quiet today. I’m just sitting here surfing and goofing off.  Nothing else to do.

We got here.

We arrived at about 1730 in Waxahachie.  The absolute worst traffic I ever saw was going around Dallas to the south.  When I think of all the money they spent on speed limit signs that could be spent elsewhere it is just staggering.  I’m trying to maintain my speed at 60, which is on every speed limit sign I saw,  and I have bozos whipping past me on both sides at over 80.  You’d think it was the Indy 500.  Not a care in the world that they are trying to crush themselves into the same lane, from two different sides; or, dashing across three lanes of traffic to make an exit that has been advertised for the last four miles as coming up.

Nice seeing the family though.  Also nice to just relax.

We are now in West Memphis, Arkansas

Completed 467 miles today; and dropped back one time zone.  We are now in Memphis.  Well, West Memphis actually. Both of us are pretty tired.  I drove all the way as traffic was really bad in spots.  Surprisingly enough, Cincinnati was not the bottleneck I thought is would be.  Zipped right through it and onto I71 from I75.

We transitioned from I71 to I64 and then to I40 – where we are now.  The hard part came at the end of the day when I was driving right directly into the setting winter sun.  It was cold out, no snow or anything; in fact, no clouds at all to block the sun.  Had a real hard time reading signs as they came up on me and missed an exit in Nashville that I should have taken.  Had to get off the interstate, reverse course, and catch the proper route.  Only lost about five minutes thankfully.

Traffic into and out of Memphis was really terrible.  The speed limit is 55 miles per hour, but everyone zips past you like you’re dragging an anchor or something.  They come right up on your rear bumper and then whip over into the next lane, blast past you, and whip back right in front of you.  Very inconsiderate.

Once we got our motel room (fine room, by the way) we went to get some food and now are relaxing in the room before we hit the sack.  We should get to Waxahachie tomorrow about 1700 or so.

Off to Texas

Tomorrow morning we will head for Texas.  It’s been a bit cold (around 32-38) today, but the wind chill makes it seem much colder.  No snow, thank goodness, but we may see a bit further South and West.  We hope to make Memphis tomorrow night, so we have to get up early and out the door no later than 0800.  This will put us just after the rush hour here in Dayton and long after the rush hour down in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati is a huge bottleneck most any time of the year.  They have a beltway completely around it, but it runs so far out into the country that you travel into Indiana at one point, and Kentucky at another.  The fastest way to traverse Cincinnati is to just forge straight ahead and go through the center of town.

An interesting tidbit:  The Greater Cincinnati Airport is actually in Kentucky.  South of the Ohio River.

It’s now almost midnight so better wait and add more tomorrow night.

Just a little different

Well, WordPress is just a little bit different than Platform27 for posting.  I have several friends who have come over here from there and I thought I’d follow.

Today, it snowed for the second day in a row.  Not much, but enough to coat the truck windows enough so that the brush had to be used.  I guess that pretty soon we will be getting some more.  I hope it holds off until I get back from Texas.  My granddaughter and I are hading that way on Thursday.  It’s just over 1000 miles (1027 to be exact) and we hope to make it in just two days – with a stop in Memphis, TN.  I’ve driven it before and that is usually where we stop.

Good thing that gas prices have dropped.  My truck has pretty short legs and only gets about 22 or 24 mpg.  This isn’t bad considering that it’s a 1998 Nissan 4WD Frontier with only 73000 miles on it.  Driven at a steady 65 mph I get my best mileage, but if we hit any bad weather, the mileage will probably drop.  I always have the option of 4WD if needed, but I don’t see anything coming out of the West at us right now all the way to the left coast.

More later.