December 19, 2006

My Computer is in the Shop

A few days ago now I flashed my bios and was greated with beeps in 2 second intervals when it rebooted itself, so my computer is now in the shop. Hopefully I will get it back soon. If not, yes, the carol sing is still on. If you think anyone might want confirmation about anything, please let them know that it's still happening at 7.

My computer is basically my life here. It's a good thing we have a backup, but it isn't the same at all.

Posted by Andy at 11:55 PM | Comments (5)

November 27, 2006

I'm Still Alive, I Swear

Rumors of my death were greatly exaggerated. I am still not feeling particularly well, but I think I might be a bit better than at my last report. Obviously I'm still not active on the site, which is in part on account of my health, but also due to the class I'm taking and the physical therapy that I've been getting nearby for a few weeks. The center is only 3-4 miles from here, so I have been making the drive myself.

Oh, and mom and I got back into World of Warcraft a week or so ago, and joined a guild called The Holy Gnoman Empire. Good stuff.

Thanksgiving was nice as usual, in no small part because of Jim and Susanne's effort in organizing and cooking for the rest of us. I brought my friend Ann-Marie along this year since she didn't have another place to be, so it was doubly nice. Unfortunately, no snack turkeys were created this year due to lack of participants, but we will regroup next year, or possibly in a few weeks if someone can think of a snack craft project related to Christmas that we could use at the carol sing.

Posted by Andy at 04:19 PM | Comments (7)

August 29, 2006

I Finally Did It

My design website, Grays Creek Designs, is up and running at last. This has been in the pipeline for a few years now and it's finally done. Well, close enough, anyway. I don't have anything about pricing up there yet, but people can email about that until I get it up there. Hopefully I will be able to tackle the print page pricing tomorrow. Web prices are going to require some research. If you know anything about that, I'd love your input.

This site has it all. Encoded emails without resorting to javascript, an email form (which was tougher than I expected I might add) with custom error and success pages, two kinds of favicons, and all sorts of extra navigation links to navigate around the site. Woo! I feel like I turned a corner with this site in some ways. I had fewer problems with bugs than ever before, and was able to spend almost all of my time tweaking design details and learning new tricks, like installing an email form and providing for all of those favicon perks.

Now go over and buy a few thousand cards to get things going, won't you?

Posted by Andy at 11:36 PM | Comments (5)

August 02, 2006

More Spam

I just checked my email notification list to find that about 40 spam addresses had been added via my sign-up form. What the heck are these people thinking? Do they figure that their "clients" will make money off of people whose sites they try to ruin? I've sure had to do a lot of maintenance over the past year or so in order to keep this site family friendly.

Posted by Andy at 06:12 PM | Comments (2)

June 04, 2006

New Record

I removed 20 spam comments from this blog and another 7-10 on the main family blog today. That contributed to the 36 messages in my email inbox today of which 2 were real. You know, comment spammers are everywhere these days, but I find it particularly classy that they post random junk to posts that read "I Have Cancer" or whatever. Just absurd.

Hopefully this will make for a moderately funny story when I hang out with people who have websites.

Posted by Andy at 04:18 PM | Comments (1)

May 13, 2006

Advice from a Pro

This afternoon was rather eventful, starting off with a visit from my cousin Jim and his family, and winding down with a neat and friendly phone call from something of an unexpected source. After watching my younger cousins Matt and Chris receive from archery training from dad, Matt challenged me to some Mariokart action. We won some races, and he beat me up in "bomb blast" mode before I was interrupted by an instant message and a followup phone call.

The caller? Mani Sheriar from Sheriar Designs. I discovered her site and her work through a web design showcase site called CSS Zen Garden, added a few comments to her blog posts, and wound up sending an email with some questions for someone trying to get started in the business. It turns out Mani is of the incredibly friendly sort, and was happy to oblige. We talked for a good hour I figure, though I didn't keep track, and she imparted some really useful tips for advertising and the like that I probably wouldn't have been able to get any other way.

Thanks Mani!

Posted by Andy at 06:42 PM | Comments (1)

April 04, 2006

Zap x6

As promised, today was indeed "picture day", as long as by "picture" you mean "x-ray." My wait today was the shortest since my second time out, though of course the x-rays took a bit of time to complete once I was in the room. Tomorrow I go in at 1:45, which could be tricky for me given my complicated morning routine.

I had to deal with a little bit of tachycardia before heading in, which just goes to show that I'm probably as tired as I'm claiming to be. I had to do some tedious and unexpected website repair in order solve some hidden issues with a few of the category and monthly archives, so that didn't help either. The site is now completely fixed as far as I can tell, so that's good. I'm gonna add some new CSS to pretty up long quotes on the site in a minute or three, and I'll probably refrain from working too hard for the rest of the night.

On a related note, I had initially titled this post "Zap6", but the "sup" (superscript) tag is not allowed within a title. Do any of you know how to get around this restriction?

Posted by Andy at 06:31 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2006

Web Design Quirks

As I have suggested over the past month or so, I have been computing almost exclusively from my Reclining Command Center™. I must increase the font size by several increments, both in Windows apps (when possible) and on the web, in order to be able to read in any kind of reasonable way. In so doing, I have discovered that many professionally built business websites are really not equipped for a changing font size.

That's a big no-no as far as I am concerned. Heck, all of my pages allow for reasonable text enlargement. There is such a thing as a reasonable limit, of course, so don't go increasing your font and then saying how my sites break eventually. Every site breaks eventually.

Right now I am signing up for a month of Netflix to keep me busy during radiation (I'm gonna get the full 3-out plan since it's for a short time), and my options run onto the red border of the page. This company lives and dies by the internet, and their site breaks with a reasonably enlarged text size. They're not the only ones, either. My Movable Type back-end breaks earlier than I would have guessed, too. I wonder if this is an oversight or if they have done market research showing that so few people visit requiring enlarged text that it isn't worth the time.

Posted by Andy at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2006

TV Help

As you know, I am rather laid up at the moment, but using my Reclining Command Center™ to maximum advantage. I even got the picture in picture working so I can watch the NCAA tournament while writing this post! I am, however, not satisfied with the picture quality of the tv when using it as a monitor. There are faint vertical lines, issues with text readability, and darker spots where the screen would be black on both sides in normal 4:3 ratio TV mode. In addition, I need to set up the sound to come through the tv, not my speakers, which means I need audio cabling.

Is there anybody who could help me solve these problems? It takes a lot out of me to do anything like this right now, but I'm using it constantly. I would of course pay for whatever cables were required if it turned out mine were not working properly. I just don't know enough about this.

Posted by Andy at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2006

DVD Issue

Can any of you guys help me find a player or free codec to play dvds in Windows XP? I have Windows Media Player 10, and it came with very few codecs so that they could sell them online instead. I am game to download another, maybe better player, or to get an appropriate WMP player codec, whatever is best. Shoot me some help if you can.


Posted by Andy at 08:11 PM | Comments (2)

March 13, 2006

I Set It Up

I am writing this post from my Reclining Command Center™, using my new wireless combo with the hi-def tv as a monitor. The mouse and keyboard both work great. The TV is causing me headaches though, literally. There is significant ghosting that makes it hard to read text easily. If this doesn't get resolved somehow, my much-anticipated system here will be useful only for short periods of time. Let us hope there is a fix out there, and that one of you knows what it is or where to find it.

Posted by Andy at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

The Wireless Combo has Arrived

All three components needed to compute from my Reclining Command Center™ arrived today. I can't set them up on my own right now, but once it's all up and running I should have a lot more options in what I do all day. Can't wait.

Posted by Andy at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2006

Mouse Wheel

Does anyone know how to clean the mouse wheel on a modern mouse. Note - I do not mean the mouse ball underneath the mouse. I mean the scroll wheel on top that lets you avoid using the side bar to navigate through a page. My mouse works great, but now the wheel sticks and causes other pages to open without my consent. I'd blame communism, but I'm pretty sure it's the mouse wheel.

Posted by Andy at 10:41 PM | Comments (4)

December 31, 2005


Can any of you help me to add an item to outlook that will pop up every day instead of just one day? I really am unfamiliar with the non-email parts of this program, but I know a lot of you use this at work and might have the answer.


Posted by Andy at 10:55 PM | Comments (4)

October 07, 2005

Site Bugs Fixed

The last few days have been immensely frustrating due to two small but persistent bugs in my Faiths and Empires campaign website. Neither bug is the result of bad code on my part, but rather errors in specific web browsers. I was able to fix both today to my satisfaction, but now I have to try to rest my right hand and arm for a while. Sadly, clicking and typing to the degree I've needed really screws me up. I'm still happy to have fixed those problems though of course. Hopefully now I can get back to adding creative and detailed content to make the site even better.

Posted by Andy at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2005

Faiths and Empires website

I have completed the website for my Faiths and Empires Dungeons and Dragons game to the point where I feel good about putting it up on the internet. I have created my world with an eye on ancient historical cultures. Feel free to take a look, and leave any comments you might have about it on this post.

Enter the Faiths and Empires website.

Posted by Andy at 10:18 PM | Comments (1)

February 21, 2005


Web design is an interesting beast. One one hand, it is very easy to learn how to make a web page in a fairly short time, but on the other, it takes a hefty amount of skill to get pages to display properly on all computers in an attractive way.

The large majority of people using the internet view web pages through Microsoft Internet Explorer. People using aol are actually using Internet Explorer as well, though it does not look like it on the surface. The trouble is, Internet Explorer is very bad at following the rules for displaying web pages, so people who want most people to be able to view their pages properly must learn to apply weird methods to get the browser to cooperate.

I have been working on a new page for a friend of mine running for office this week. (You can view the final page here.) I came up with the design very quickly given the typical creative flow, for lack of a better term, but had a whale of a time getting it to display properly once I started putting it on the net. Thankfully, I am subscribed to a newsgroup which discusses just this kind of issue and obtained help in short order from a number of the group's members, most notably a Norwegian fellow named Gunlaug S�rtun. He was able to apply a number of tricks to my code to get the page in the form you see above. He has talked with me about a number of issues in the past as well, and always seems to have something useful to add to my web coding knowledge. Thanks Gunlaug!

Posted by Andy at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2004

Microsoft Needs to Work Harder

After installing Windows as mentioned in one of my recent posts, I used Windows Update to get Service Pack 2. Service Pack 2 is the next big thing for Windows, and is supposed to add all kinds of security features and the like. In any case, I updated, and things worked ok for a day, but when I booted up today my computer stopped responding inexplicably. I checked around and discovered the only real solution was to repair or re-install. I didn't want to have to rebuild my contacts list from scratch all over again (thank you Microsoft), so I rebuilt, which worked. When I updated with all the critical updates and Service Pack 2 again, I encountered the same problem, only this time right away after restarting. I rebuilt my Windows installation again, and now refuse to update to Service Pack 2. The problem is, before long SP 2 will be requirement, and I'll have to take a big risk once more. I'm not well enough to handle the shoddy work Microsoft puts out clearly, but I'll have to put everything on hold and troubleshoot Windows until I fix this impending problem.

Posted by Andy at 02:13 AM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2004


I turned on my computer today and was greeted with a Windows explorer error that prevents me using my system at all. I'm going to attempt a repair first, but in all likelihood I'll need to reinstall Windows AGAIN! I hate Microsoft. I already had to rebuild my address book due to Microsoft oversights in the Outlook backup system, and now I'll have to do it, (and everything else), again. If I were healthy this would be a minor inconvenience I suppose.

Fortunately I had the foresight to partition my hard drive into more than one piece. This means I can reinstall Windows and my programs without having to worry about my data, (such as pictures and card files), which is contained on a separate partition.

Posted by Andy at 04:51 PM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2004

XP Installed

My Windows installation was successful, and I'm getting close to restoring all of my old programs as well. It's nice to be able to boot up without seeing an error message every time, I must say.

Posted by Andy at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2004

The Next Step

Well, my BIOS update seems to have worked despite two rather terrifying hiccups, and it mysteriously removed my RAID array in the process without compromising my data or boot process. Now I have to reinstall Windows XP to get rid of an annoying registry bug. Once that's done I should be set for a while, though I seem to encounter problems nobody else can identify or explain regarding all things computer and non-computer related. I've decided not to reinstate the RAID array due to quirks with Windows XP and RAID 1 (thanks for the info on that Ryan) so hopefully I won't have to do any more total overhauls.

Ok, let's get to it. I'll see you on the other side.

Posted by Andy at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

Heart Attack Averted

I flashed the BIOS and was greeted with a boot error, but my system still works. I think the boot error had to do with settings being erased during the flash. Now I have to wind down and check my settings. Talk about scary.

Posted by Andy at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

Forget RAID, Let's Do BIOS

Well, my RAID recovery went nowhere last night, though I'm no worse off than before. Now I'm going to attempt to update my seriously out of date BIOS, which could help with the RAID issues as well. I was all ready to flash the BIOS a while back but couldn't find any documentation on how to get the job done. Fortunately I happened upon some great resources today while searching on RAID topics, and think I'm ready to go. Trick is, if I fail, the computer could be dead. Forever.

Here's to success.

Posted by Andy at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

I'm Going In

Well, I've backed up what I believe is everything of importance on my hard drives, and I'm going to attempt to repair my ailing RAID array overnight. Last time I did this I had to reformat and start over, but I think I know why that is and can prevent it. In any event, if you see any large explosions on the horizon, you know what happened.

Posted by Andy at 01:48 AM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2004

RAID Degradation Again!

Augh! My RAID 1 array with my two hard drives has degraded again, and I unfortunately do not know nearly enough about RAID to know what to do. I'm beginning to think nobody knows to be honest, as I have yet to receive any replies to my calls for help on the Tom's Hardware forums, perhaps the top resource on the net for computers and computer building. Do any of you have experience with RAID setups?

Posted by Andy at 12:48 AM | Comments (0)