Sunday, February 23, 2014

Replacing the Desktop Compter

Thursday was an expensive day for me.  Was happy to beat the storm, home from coffee.  But, late in the morning, the problems started.  Power outage from ice/snow/wind.

Power was out for just over 2 hours.  When I had restored, I went to restart the main (desktop) computer.  It was dead.  Appeared the power supply was toast.

Took the computer off the desk and moved it to the bench.  Found my computer power supply tester.  It showed that the -5v supply was bad.  Alas, I had a spare power supply in the box.  Installed it one the computer.

Not so fast - the power supply did not have enough SATA drive connectors.  Time to drive into town to Best Buy to pick up adapters for the supply or a new supply with the right number of connectors.  Store does not have the adapters, so bough a new power supply.

Installed the new power supply but that did not correct the problem.  Looking like the Mobo was also toast.  When a new Mobo & processor are required, might as well buy a new computer.  Best Buy in Council Bluffs had a comp ter close to what I needed.  Picked up the new Lenovo IdeaCentre K450 Desktop with 8GB RAM and 1TB Hard Drive.

Thursday night was spent downloading and installing software (including lots of updates).  Thankfully, my satellite internet provider gives me free bandwidth between midnight and 5am local time. 

Friday, I ordered some more hardware for the new computer.  Adding a 3TB data drive and a Blue-Ray burner.  The rest of the weekend has been occupied by installing and configuring software, with a few breaks for sleep, breakfast, and coffee.

Still have some pieces of software to find and install.  Others are on hold as I get activation keys for updated, outdated software. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Keurig K-Cup Coffee Brewer

During my visit to Las Cruces, New Mexico I stayed with an Army friend and his wife.  They had a Keurig coffee maker.  Talked with them about the maker and the advantages and the shortfalls of the system.

On the negative side, the maker is a bit pricey.  I bought the K-Cup 665 at Sam's Club for $130.  A lot of money to brew a cup or two of coffee.  Also, I was concerned about the cost of the coffee packets.  Does not seem to be economical way to buy coffee.

At this time, I may brew a pot of coffee up to 3 dyas a week.  The other days, I am out for breakfast or the local coffee shop to use wi-fi and conversation.  When I brew a pot of coffee, about half of it sits in the pot until I dump it out and make a fresh pot 2 days later.

The K-Cup system was looking interesting.  Just needed to look at the cost of the coffee supplies. A normal sized can of coffee lasts me a long time. So much that I wonder if its losing its flavor in the fridge.  Depending on where you purchase you K-Cup coffee inserts, they run between $0.50 and $0.75 each.  The maker also has an insert there you can use your own bulk (canned) coffee.

Looking at the cost, it compares favorably versus the cost of my coffee at Panera Bread.  Those 3 days when I do not go out for coffee, I also save the cost of gas to run into town.  The Jimmy Dean's breakfast sandwich at home is a wash compared to a bagel at the bakery.

The brewer comes with a selection of different coffee.  Most my brewer came with boxes of 12 Green Mountain Nantucket Blend, Newman's Own Original. and a variety pack.  This morning I frost tried the Nantucket Blend (not impressed - pretty bland) and Newman's Own (more traditional flavor).  Neither beats the Panera Hazelnut coffee that I prefer.

With registration of the brewer, I can get 2  boxes of 22-24 packs free with the purchase of another 2 boxes including free shipping.  The boxes list at about $15.  Seems to be a good way to sample more of the many coffees packaged for the K-Cup brewing system.  Thee are a couple of hazelnut blends and a Kahlua blend I am interested in trying.

Murder on the White Sands

The weather has been the pits for the 2 weeks since I got home from New Mexico.  Ended up spending lots of time reading.  While on the trip I picked up this book at the White Sands National Monument Visitor Center.  Their copies are even autographed by the author (Corey Recko) - a bonus.

The book is a historical look at the disappearance of prominent New Mexican citizen Albert Fountain and his youngest son Henry.  The disappearance happened in the Winter of 1896.

My interest in the book stemmed from a visit at White Sands and friends that now live in the area.

The book goes into great detail into the disappearance, investigation, and trial of those believed responsible.  Albert and Henry Fountain were never found. 

This is not an easy read.  The first thing I was looking was a good map of the area and the locations mentioned in the book.  There is a rudimentary map in the book, but many of the key locations in the book are not noted on the map.  It may make more sense for someone familiar with the area, but I had problems.

The author is writing a factual (as he and his sources know them) accounting.  The book reads as a technical book, rather a murder mystery.  As such, I found it tedious.  Also, I had problems with all of the names of those mentioned in the book. 

One thing I got from the book was a flavor of the times.  At that time, New Mexico was still a territory.  The area was certainly the "Wild West".  Patronage abounded - seems like everyone that was anyone owed their position to a political figure. 

The investigation into the disappearance was hampered by political cronyism.

If you are looking for a typical murder mystery, Murder on the White Sands in not for you.  On the other side - if you are interested in history of New Mexico around the turn of the century, you will find it a good read.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Back Home Again

Friday was spent reorganizing my luggage for the trip home.  Loaded the car and did final errands in Albuquerque Saturday.  Forgot all about the ham radio breakfast.  Ended up the stay with brew and food with my cousin, and some other friends.  Good times at Billy's Long Bar.

Watching the weather, it was obvious that the I would be taking the North route home.  lots of snow & ice storms on the South route - one-after-another.  Even the North route had some possible problems.  the problem area is northern New Mexico between Las Vagag and Raton.  If I went North on Sunday morning, there was a window between the storms.

Temperature was in the mid 20s when i loaded the bikes and last items into the car.  Had my waffle at the motel and headed North.  Clear skies until I neared Las Vegas.  Mostly cloudy (with periods of broken skies) until I was over Raton Pass.  At time it was trying to snow, but not getting its act together.  Pavement was clear, steaming from the sun and warmth the day before.

The photo here was taken at the scenic view area just over the top of Raton Pass on the Colorado side. 

Roads and skies were clear the rest of the trip. Temperature was below freezing all the way.  About Ft. Morgan, CO, I got my second wind.  Original plans were to spend the night between Denver and Nebraska.  Feeling good, I kept driving.  Soon, it was obvious that I cold finish the drive without stopping for the night. 

Turned into the driveway at home just before 1am CST.  It was was cold (about 4 deg) and i was tired.  I only made a couple trips into the house for necessities (a bag of clothes, cameras, laptop, and pills).  The rest was left until the morning and a little more warmer.