Oh, Insomnia. Where Did You Come From?

And why won’t you go away and let me sleep?

Well, at least it has been a while since I had trouble sleeping. I just hope it isn’t related to the new firmness of the bed.

Good news and potentially bad news! The good news is, I replaced the severely damaged boxspring that was under our bed and built a new one. The still good news is that it cost around $80 and took 3 days (not working 8 or 9 hours a day either, probably could have finished it in 2 had I worked my butt off). The bad news is that now our mattress has a much more solid support and in turn has become more solid. I’m not sure if that is related to my inability to sleep or if I’m just not nearly tired enough, but it’s entirely plausible.

The design of the new frame thing is simple: I bought 6 pieces of 2″x6″(x8′) and 12 pieces of 1″x4″(x8′) and cut to suit. It’s a queen-sized bed, so the dimensions were supposed to be 60″(W)x80″(L). Turns out the mattress is something like 78″ long, but I’m not going to complain endlessly about it.

With some help from Randy and the use of his circular saw, electric drill and sander, I constructed a basic design. It has a 2×6 frame with two paired 2×6’s down the middle for extra support. There are then 12 slats screwed down on top. To compare this to the old boxspring design, it looked like there were 10 1×2 pieces for slats, something smaller than a 2×6 but bigger than a 1×4 (no, it wasn’t a 2×4 or a 1×6) down the middle, and a not-very-rigid frame around the edges. I’d patched several of the slats on one occasion, and two of these had broken again.

Anyway, here are photos:

This was the break at the foot of the bed. I’d repaired it before, but it’s one of the common landing points when Crash jumps up.

This one is looking from the foot towards the head. You can see a couple of the patches I’d made, as well as the big break in the piece down the middle. Again, all the pieces broken resemble the points where Crash typically lands on the bed.

I kept thinking through the process that I should be taking step-by-step photos, but a) they aren’t really necessary for such a simple thing, and b) by the time I actually got around to doing anything about it it was too late to bother, so I waited until it was done (and then nearly forgot).

This is the frame as it was, completed, sitting in the garage waiting to be brought inside and placed on the metal frame that holds it above the floor (came with the bed, I’m not responsible for that part). You can see the 2×6 around the edges and the double 2×6 down the middle.

Carefully note that at this point the ends of both the mattress and the base are pushed against the wall of our room. This is the difference between the 80″ long base and the 80″ long mattress (ha ha..).

I’d take a wider angle view of the complete bed, but the rest of the room is….camera shy, at this point in time ;-).

In other news, I have some more train photos going up on my Flickr account, and I’ll try to get some new scenery photos up too. I’m hoping to write some kind of ‘newsletter’ or just slightly generalized (with a touch of personal) letters home to New Zealand to family and friends. I’d really like to go home to visit some time, but that (as always) depends on money and our ability to save enough of it. It’s hard to prioritize so often, when there are things we desperately need that cost money, along with things we really want, in conjunction with little things that are really nice (but mount up quickly..). IT WILL HAPPEN. I SHALL HAVE MY SUMMER CHRISTMAS ONCE MORE!

Life is Good, with Few Minor Interruptions to Goodness

As life goes, I have little, some might argue nothing, to complain about. As Christmas rolls around, Kelly and I have marked off most of our Christmas gift recipients, and the gifts themselves are arriving ready to be wrapped and placed under the tree which was chosen on Sunday and will probably come inside this weekend to be decorated.

Our money management skills aren’t doing too badly – almost all of our bill payments are scheduled and there should be little problem with our trip to Charlotte at the end of the month. So really, there is little for me to complain about that doesn’t just sound like whiny drivel.

Somehow, the bed broke again. It’s hard to justify any suggestions of abuse through the commonly considered manner, because Kelly works from 9:30 to 6, and goes to bed around 12, I start work at 5 and usually finish around 12 or 12:30, and Kelly is usually asleep when I get home around 1-ish. A while back several of the slats (is that the right word?) in the box-spring snapped. I repaired them with a glue-and-screw type brace using some spare 1x3s I had laying around from the model train layout. For a while it worked fine. A couple of weeks ago one of them broke again. Then another one. Last night I came home and sat on the bed and thought “This doesn’t feel right.” I couldn’t pin it. I looked around the outside of the bed, and there was no reason I could see for it to have been leaning the way it was. I took a look under it this morning and realized, in broken horror, why that would be the case. Down the middle, presumably a primary source of support, is what looks like either a 2×6 or a 2×8. And it’s broken in a couple of places (looks kinda like a Z) in the middle, causing the bed to lean somewhat inwards.

And I get paid tomorrow. I think today will involve a planning session, tomorrow will involve buying materials and the weekend will be putting it together. Here’s hoping the broken one lasts that long.

(It’s most likely Crash that is responsible, he enjoys jumping on the bed, and 100lbs of sudden force will do that to a structure after a while..)

The Weird Things I Found..

I came across something awesome while shopping for Kelly’s Christmas stuff a week or few ago, one I think I should share briefly. I found a puzzle which was a picture of a lighthouse:

I thought “Huh, looks cool..” and I moved on down the aisle. Then I thought “wait, haven’t I seen this before?”

Lo and behold, it is a photo of the lighthouse at Cape Reinga (Ree-ung-ah) at the northern tip of the North Island of New Zealand.

Needless to say I bought it, and she opened it at some point yesterday 😉

I also found a pack of 100 (I think?) cookie cutters, which were also opened around the same time, and a green cover for the iPod Touch her mom got for her, and so meanly told me (I had to keep it quiet!).

Anyway, that’s basically what I got my wife for Christmas 😉

Christmas Shopping

I did some Christmas shopping for Kelly today, bought a couple of things (I won’t say what they are — she reads this!) that I think she’ll like a lot. We still haven’t set a budget for each other with a few family members left to buy for, but I’m expecting it to be around $20 each and so far I’m fairly well under that. I still have a few ideas left when we actually set a specific number and I have a target, we’ll have to see how it pans out.

It’s difficult to find time to go out and buy things for Kelly though, because we live 20 minutes or so from the nearest worthwhile shopping space in Harrisonburg. With two Walmarts, Target, Ross, Big Lots, Michaels, the various Dollar stores, it’s just a great place to shop rather than the Dollar General and the few small stores in Broadway, and the Family Dollar in Timberville, everything else is more specializing than I’m looking for usually. But Kelly usually works from 9:30-6, meaning she’s gone with the car from around 9-6:30, and driving the truck is not a very appealing idea financially, so unless we have a day like today (where I dropped her off and will meet her for one of her work functions before coming home), I have to break away from our evenings together or on the weekend some time. I’m sure she feels similarly, because a one-hour lunch break isn’t very long when you have to traverse traffic on the roads and in the stores.

With this in mind it is little wonder that more and more people are migrating to online purchases, or at least online-research before going to the stores to buy (there is something about a face-to-face interaction, and having a store to take something back to rather than paying shipping for an RMA etc).

This is how I usually shop, let’s use me as an example:

  1. Think about who I’m buying for, and have a few core ideas about what they like. I like computers, I like guitar and music in general, and I like fun stuff with some kind of purpose.
  2. Think about stores that carry items that fit these categories. For example, Thinkgeek, Walmart, Music stores.
  3. Visit the online stores and get specific ideas. Specific t-shirts from Thinkgeek for example, maybe look at the electronics section on the Walmart website, or guitar or other music equipment at websites like MusiciansFriend.
  4. Research and try to find a good deal on each specific item. Google’s shopping site is a great tool for this. Often what I find can be found just as good but at a lower price if I look hard enough. Keeping in mind, however, that while many online stores are completely reputable, some aren’t. If I come across a site that is new to me I may run a few searches to see if other people have had good experiences or not.
  5. Weigh up which idea is the best for the person I’m buying for. Maybe they don’t need the guitar I found, or they wouldn’t appreciate the T-shirt I’m looking at, or maybe it is just out of the budget I had set for them.
  6. Give it a couple of days, depending on whether I am buying online or in-store (if in-store it is more likely to be an immediate decision, but still not necessarily). I’m not usually one to make a rush purchase if I think I have some time to think about what I’m about to do.
  7. Make a final decision, and buy it.

There you go. My 7-step guide to buying Christmas stuff. Unless you want to take a month to work through your family, I also recommend doing this process on several people at once 😉

It Has Been a While!

Wow, I keep realizing how long it has been since I wrote an entry here. Most things remain the same. I still don’t have a full time job, although I interviewed with a county school system earlier this week and also applied to a year-round resort, both IT positions. I also have another 3 jobs to apply for this afternoon (hopefully) that are also IT and not terribly far away.

I’ve done some work on my monitoring systems for my servers. Over the last few months I’ve developed several methods for providing close to real-time outage-notifications and misc. monitoring for the three servers I administrate. The system I currently have primarily does two things: Service unavailable notifications via Twitter, Email and Txt message (via email), and corresponding “It’s available again” messages, and system monitoring using an Eggdrop IRC bot for each server with basic commands.

I’d like to expand this system at some point in the future, by migrating the system monitoring system from Eggdrop to a Perl bot. This would allow it to be more portable, and hopefully have a smaller footprint on the server it runs on. It would be nice to have IRC-based announcements for server-up/server-down as well as more minor alerts, like high CPU usage, high RAM usage, high hard disk partition usage, etc. We’ll see how that goes at some point in the future.

In more interesting news, I believe we have pretty much finished our Christmas shopping. All of our box to New Zealand items have been bought, and we are waiting for 3 of them to ship or arrive by mail. All but one (I believe) of the remaining items have been wrapped, and they’re all sitting in a corner of our room waiting for everything else to be ready to go. We’re just waiting for 2 items to arrive (apparently they were mailed recently), and another to be mailed. I checked yesterday and it was still pending.

I recently provided a redesign for a fan-site, I’ll try and post screenshots later. I’m also working on upgrading/updating the Infinitley-aLive website, and moving away from WordPress. I’m undecided yet as to whether I’ll use SilverStripe (as on http://chris.i-al.net/) or if I’ll build my own fully customized CMS for it. Having been looking at CodeIgniter, it may be a fun first-project for a CodeIgniter site.

Lastly, if you find yourself in need of some web-design or web-programming, or a shell account for almost anything, or just basic webhosting, leave me a comment or something. I am happy to work with your budget so long as it fits mine, I’m happy to work for the testimonial and for a reference for my resume if I feel a need to use it, and you’re happy to provide the details I need. I accept paypal, and cash or check if you wish to meet locally. Also, if I can’t do something I’ll let you know quickly, and if I can I’ll point in the direction of people who are able to fulfill your requirements.

You know your needs are met if..

…all you can come up with for gift ideas are toys. I figure people would start asking me what I want for Christmas soon, and it seems a good idea to sum up for myself what I’d like to acquire in the next few months. That being the case, a few of these things are specifically for me to buy, and I lay absolutely no obligation on anyone to spend $5000 on me (I feel bad when people spend $20 on me). In fact, if you did, I’d be worried and would probably have to refuse your gift. Owing to lack of ideas, and some things I still don’t have (and/or want more of) since last year, I’ve copied some across from last years list.

  1. Remote control car. Full function! None of this “Straight forward, turn right in reverse” nonsense 😉 Fun to play with dogs and cats, I’m sure.
  2. Remote control boat. No idea where I’ll use it though..
  3. Model trains/accessories. For reference, I’m working with HO and N scales.
  4. Misc. tools. I’d like a cordless drill, but anything else that can be used for general handy-work would be useful. I have screwdrivers, and all kinds of drill/driver bits. Maybe a saw?
  5. Something from ThinkGeek (or a similar site).
  6. Something geeky.
  7. Xbox 360.
  8. Wii.
  9. Xbox imported from NZ/Australia.
  10. PAL in/NTSC out converter. I have a PAL DVD player to convert to NTSC output for US TV’s. Make sure it’s the right way round!
  11. Clothing – Pants: about a 32-34in waist, top half is L or XL. Extra points for geek-themed clothing.
  12. Something from the XKCD store.
  13. Something from http://www.cafepress.com/ial Also, consider purchasing from the Cafepress store for others also 😉
  14. Just money. I can put it towards other other things with other money received, or my savings.
  15. Gift cards. Gamestop and Walmart are ones that come to mind. Maybe Paypal? I dunno.
  16. Anything computer or guitar related if you think I’ll use it. Was going to provide an example of things I would and wouldn’t use, couldn’t think of any. Flash drives (larger than 2GB), guitar cables (longer than 10ft). Extra points if it can tie musical and computer together – I’d like to be able to record music using the computers.
  17. A cheap keyboard to play around with (recording etc, as above).
  18. Lego
  19. DVDs: NCIS, The Office, Fringe, House, etc.
  20. A UPS. I know, I already have one, but I need a second..
  21. Dog/Cat stuff.
  22. Books: Computer programming languages (Perl, C, C++) Terry Pratchett (Johnny and the Dead, Johnny and the Bomb), Face, and I am Not Esther.
  23. Book: Perl for Dummies, C++ for Dummies, C for Dummies, and any other relevant Perl/C/C++ books that could serve as a kickstart for learning the languages.
  24. Blank DV tapes.
  25. Music CDs. (Queen, Christian music)
  26. Guitar amp.
  27. Bass guitar.
  28. Acoustic guitar case/bag.

I’ll update more over the next few days. That’s probably the majority though. Hopefully this gives those of you who will be asking me what I want some ideas! Because I really don’t want to know what I’m getting until I get it.

Christmas Wishlist

People keep asking me what I want for Christmas and I keep saying I don’t know, but this is not always entirely true.

I want a lot of things. Unfortunately, the list of things is broken up into two categories: things I can afford, and things I can’t. The things I can afford are easy, I buy them for myself. No problems. The things I can’t afford are usually things that are beyond the financial budgets of most people buying for me, and especially more than I would expect people to spend on me for Christmas gifts (considering if they spent that much multiplied by the number of people they buy gifts for their bank balance wouldn’t last long).

I also like surprises. I don’t like to know what I’m getting, however awesome it may be. It totally destroys the mystery of holding a wrapped gift and having no real idea what is inside it. I have elected therefore to make a Christmas edition of my wishlist for family and friends to view and consider. Estimated prices are given where possible, and I’ll try to provide links to examples also.

  • BB gun – I had a couple in NZ, and left them there to save complications with customs etc, but I would like another. Have seen at Walmart for cheap with CO2 making them semi-automatic, rather than pump action. (Approx $30 last time I looked.) Example 1 (would prefer a semi auto) Example 2 (would prefer a pistol shape) – can’t see the exact one I wanted online, though I have seen semi-auto BB pistols at both the 42 Walmart, and the 33 Walmart.
  • Clothing – Mostly in the realm of sweatshirts and pants. I have an abundance of T-shirts, am mostly good on underwear and such. Not sure on pant size (about a 92cm waist, not sure what that translates to in inches..), top half is L or XL. Extra points for geek-themed clothing (t-shirts permitted).
  • Kinda ties in with Clothing (though not required to be), but just about anything from http://store.xkcd.com/
  • Also ties in with Clothing (though not required to be), but just about anything from http://www.thinkgeek.com/
  • Also ties in with Clothing (though not required to be), but anything from http://www.cafepress.com/ial Also, consider purchasing from the Cafepress store for others also 😉
  • Plain and boring money. I can put it towards other other things with other money received, or my own spending money.
  • Gift cards are also welcome. Gamestop, Circuit City, and Walmart are the ones that come to mind.
  • Anything computer or guitar related if you think I’ll use it. Was going to provide an example of things I would and wouldn’t use, couldn’t think of any. Flash drives (larger than 2GB), guitar cables (longer than 10ft), Capos. Extra points if it can tie musical and computer together – I’d like to be able to record music using the computers.
  • A cheap keyboard to play around with (recording etc, as above). Actually, this one looks really ideal ($35) and plugs into the PC directly.
  • A toolbox and some basic tools. Would like to be able to work on the car or the computers or house stuff as necessary without having to constantly borrow the tools to do it. This was the best example I could find, but would like one with a tray insert and maybe some small-part storage on top (screws, nails, rulers, etc)? I’ve seen them at Walmart, don’t recall prices. They’re probably at Lowes or Home Depot too.
  • A battery drill/screwdriver. Needs to be able to drill well, which should make it ideal as a screwdriver also.
  • This wireless card from Linksys (~ $50, depending where purchased)
  • A 4GB+ Compact Flash card. Example from about $11 up, depending what brand and where purchased. The Compact Flash part is important, as you’re probably aware memory cards aren’t interchangeable.
  • A 2GB+ xD memory card. Example from about $20 up, depending on brand and place of purchase. The xD part is important, as you’re probably aware memory cards aren’t interchangeable.
  • A UPS, this one at Circuit City seems to be the best deal at $30 (with free shipping!) Cancel that. The price appears to have gone back up (Checked 15 Dec)
  • NCIS Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 on DVD
  • Lego – Technics is preferred but any is fun. Example – $20