Sunday, December 16, 2012

A touch of nerdery.

Mild to moderate nerdiness follows.

I decided I was going to build my own PVR using a computer and Mythbuntu, a Linux distro specifically geared towards such an endeavour. Problem is, the spare desktop I had kicking around wasn't going to be fast enough to adequately handle HD video... so I shopped around and found a refurbished HP at Factory Direct for a cool 129 bones; decent processor, 2 GB of RAM, smallish hard drive (but that's easily remedied).

I went out and got it, but when I brought it home I felt like an idiot: the expansion slots weren't tall enough to accommodate my TV tuner card or the video card I have with an HDMI output. JEEZ.

Faced with this dilemma, I had the semi-brilliant idea of making the HP my regular desktop comp and using my former desktop box as the PVR, swapping hard drives in the process. But if you yank a hard drive out of one comp and throw it into another, it's going to freak out on me because all the hardware is different, right?


With much trepidation, I pulled the hard drive out of my old desktop, put it in the new one, plugged everything in, and hit the power button. I fully expected there to be beeps and bloops and error messages and possibly smoke flying out of the thing, but here's what actually happened:
  1. "Hey, you have a different video card. Start in safe graphics mode this time?" (Clicked OK, logged in fine.)
  2. Started up the video card utility... "Hey, you don't have an Nvidia video card anymore. Type the following and restart your machine." (Typed the thing, restarted.)
  3. Absolutely everything works fine now.
There's no way this goes well with Windows... so, thank the powers above that Linux (specifically Ubuntu) is so goddamn smart: it found all my new hardware, didn't complain much, and life carried on as normal.

And that's my story.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Things teenagers say, and ask.

I have a grade 10 science class which is actually one of the most reasonable groups of people I've ever dealt with. (Mind you, there are people that show up once or twice a week, or others I haven't seen in a month despite calling their parents' house... and occasionally getting the ol' "caller ID says it's the school, so I'll pick up the phone and hang it right back up" treatment. Yes, that happens.)

The deal with a class is this: it takes a while to get to know them, and they take a while to get to know you. Depending on your comfort level with them, and with students in general, they may get to know you really well, or barely at all. As such, they'll be able to eventually gauge what sorts of questions they can ask about you... or so the theory goes.

(I kid, I kid. I'm friendly, but I'm not their friend. I'm professional, but I'm still a person. I try to be authentic, but at the same time I'm still have to keep some distance.)

At any rate, we had a little time to kill after a fun day of talking about light and then getting acquainted with some equipment we're going to be using for the next few weeks, by using prisms to make rainbows. I'm not entirely sure how the conversation turned this way, but it did:

"Hey sir, if you could take one teacher in the school out on a date, who would it be?"

And then it got weird.

First off, you'd better believe I didn't say a god damn thing in response to that question. And so then, there was a discussion, also not involving me -- kept mostly-appropriate, but with deviations into (further) ridiculousness -- about teachers sleeping with students. One of my (male) not-quite-rocket-scientists:

"Yo, if it's a guy teacher and a girl student, that ain't right. But if it's a girl teacher and a guy student... I don't know, man. I don't know."

But things swerved back to me, and the question I'd been posed. All I had for them was a piece of advice in the form of a single phrase that I would only say once, and I told them I wanted them to unpack the meaning of it:

"You don't shit where you eat."

Whadda ya know, they eventually figured it out.

We may not be doomed after all, folks.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

So, a nurse killed herself.

You've probably heard it by now:
  • Australian radio DJs make a crank call to the hospital where Sexy Duchess Kate was convalescing, impersonating the Queen.
  • Everyone had a good laugh.
  • The nurse killed herself, presumably from all the attention.
Look, it's a shame this woman is no longer. Don't get me wrong. Anytime that anyone goes too soon, well, that shouldn't be.

But now you've got people freaking out about DJs making crank calls. Should they still be made? What did we do to this poor woman? Are we a horrible species? (Actually, we are, but for totally different reasons.)

When a country makes up laws, unfortunately the way it goes sometimes is that you have to legislate down to the dumbest people in said country. That's why we have to have a law telling us to wear our seat belts; obviously they'll help to save your life in a car crash, but some idiots out there don't bother to put theirs on, so we have to provide a financial disincentive to do something which is clearly a stupid thing to do.

If this nurse couldn't take a joke, and was clearly mentally unstable enough to commit suicide in this situation -- did any media reports mention her name, when this all initially came about? I don't think they did -- does that mean we have to pass a law saying you can't make a crank call, because it might cause some harm to someone who is already very, very predisposed to harming themselves in a serious way? (Or does this fall under the recently-fashionable, and yet very-worthwhile, rubric of "bullying awareness?" Just playing devil's advocate here.)

Anyway, the moral of the story is that this woman wasn't right in the first place, someone made a joke at her (relatively anonymous) expense, and she overreacted. I just hope morning radio DJs can still be wacky after all this.