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Don't mind me, I'm just going insane.

As I mentioned last time, my laptop died. However, we buy those extended warranties for a reason, so after pulling off the data, off to Best Buy it went. That was two and a half weeks ago. Yesterday they finally said they were done - new motherboard and new LCD. Great. And then I went to pick it up. The power light came on, and the hard drive would spin up, but the screen stayed blank. And there was no output via the VGA port either. to service it's going. Again. Fortunately I found this out while still at Best Buy.

The power jack has been fine on the old laptop (so far), but the wireless card randomly decides it is going to stop working. And the only way to fix the issue is to pull out the card and put it back in. Argh.

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This past weekend was computer hell. Or more specifically, laptop hell. Friday night, I had my laptop on and went downstairs for a while. When I came back up, it was off. "That's odd", I thought. I started it back up, but shortly after logging in, it froze. After a few reboots, I went into the BIOS - *that* froze. Hmm, not good.

I took the hard drive out (luckily it just slides right out) and got a laptop IDE adapter Saturday morning. I stuck it in my Windows desktop PC and booted up (not from the laptop drive). Chkdsk fixed a few things, which was fine, but then started spitting out "Replacing invalid security id with default security id" messages. And it didn't stop. My guess is it did this for every file on the disk. The good news is once things finished booting, all of my files were still there. The bad news is chkdsk apparently hosed all of the file permissions, as subsequent attempts to boot from that drive were wrought with problems (to say the least). See, I should have booted up from the laptop drive in the first place.

Whatever. That didn't make me happy, but I have all my data, and I can re-install Windows and my programs. Not a huge deal. Several hours later (after getting a live Linux CD from Mike and making a mirror of the drive) I had my data copied and I took the laptop in to Best Buy. Luckily I've got several more months left on my PSP. If I'm lucky I'll get it back sometime before Christmas.

As I was now down a laptop, I figured it would be a good time to rescue Amy's old Sony from the dead. I didn't want to bother with Linux, having been down that road, so Saturday evening I found one of our XP Pro discs and started a fresh install. When Amy moved it once during an update it turned off, which was odd, but I didn't think too much of it. I eventually got everything installed and working, but after a while I got a message saying the batteries were almost dead. Yet it was plugged in. Sure enough, more power connector issues.

I took it apart again on Sunday morning (like I said, I've gotten good at that) and did some soldering. It seemed to be ok, but of course, when I put it all back together, it still didn't work. Well, if I pressed the plug a certain way while standing on my head and singing "Just You 'N' Me" with a plate spinning on my little toe, I could get it to work. Not wanting to go through all that trouble again, though, I took it apart *again* after my parents left in the afternoon. This time I could see that both the positive and negative terminals had come loose - the problem is the only mechanical connection the power jack has to the motherboard are those solder joints, which means they get stressed a lot. If the joint isn't perfect, it breaks.

Luckily, I had a fresh power jack around (remember, I bought two last time). Cleaned everything up, laid down some new silver traces, and soldered again. Everything tested perfectly. Before putting things back together, though, I mixed some epoxy I had and placed it around the jack. I have my doubts as to how much help this is going to be (it didn't seem to be hardening properly), but whatever the case, I got everything back together and it's working once again. I also filed the profile of the plug a little which makes it easier to get in and out. Less stress is good.

On top of all that, I had another one of my crazy school dreams last night. Only this time it was the beginning of the semester. Apparently it was a week or two in and I was already worried because I had missed a few classes. The crazy part is in the dream I was thinking about having dreams about the end of the semester. Freud would be going bonkers.

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Just an FYI, everyone - I've done some tinkering to my comments engine in an effort to reduce comment spam. For the moment, comments will only be able to be left from the main page - nothing will happen if you try to leave comments from an archive page. I'll probably be doing more tweaking along the way, but hopefully this will help. Let me know if you have any issues posting comments.

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Nine years ago, first semester of freshman year of college, one rite of passage many of us went through at the UW was Math 222. For the world at large, that's second semester calculus. Many of us had AP Calc in high school, and so went right into second semester in college. And most of us didn't do very well. That was partially due to (not) adjusting to college life, but in the case of Paul and I, it was also a matter of (or so we felt at the time) having a really bad professor. Yes, the guy was annoying on a personal level, but he was also clear as mud most of the time. I seem to remember him cutting class short by 10 or 15 minutes once because he had confused himself.

And we weren't the only ones that thought he was bad. A comic strip in the Badger Herald called "People Are Morons" lampooned him for several weeks straight. I think I still have some around here somewhere.

But that was 9 years ago. He was old then, so he's surely retired, right? Wrong.

This week the Isthmus did a story about Unfortunately, they don't post their stories online so I can't link to it, but it turns out the professor with the worst rating at the UW (with more than just a couple of comments) is - yes, you guessed it - Anatole Beck. Not only is he still around, he's as bad as ever. Witness just a few of the complaints posted:
He wants you to prove theorums that are not in the syllabus, and this makes his test papers harder than papers of other profs. For the first 2 midterms, he refused to curve the grades, so less than 5% got an A. He did curve it for the finals, but overall, the experience in his class was VERY traumatizing.
Prof. Beck is a horrible professor and is a jerk nonetheless. That withstanding, but he requires you to not only do problems, but to prove every theorem given (things not in the dept syllabus). Also, if you go to him for help, he will most likely just shove you off. I went to him with help on proofs only to hear that he has better things to do!!
One day, he didn't even notice that he did the EXACT same sample problem 2 times, and another day, he spent FORTY MINUTES of class time trying to go over a homework problem that HE assigned us, and eventually said that he would have to get back to us because WE were wasting too much of class time. Wow.
Beck should have retired twenty years ago. He writes problems he cannot solve himself. It's sad to think that University tuition pays this man to inflict confusion on so many able minds ready to achieve so much. Avoid Beck at all costs--your intellect depends on it!
There isn't a single positive review there.

In the story they talk to someone else in the math department who says a lot of the blame is due to the fact that not many people like math, but it turns out he had one of the highest ratings. Same goes for the professor I had when I re-took 222.

I've got a lot of happy memories from college. Anatole Beck is not one of them.

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The Simpsons Archive

Vital stats:
DOB 2/16/79. I'm a web developer at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. I like lots of old music, including The Who. I spend a lot of time working with computers. And my favorite TV show (when I actually decide to watch TV, that is), obviously, is The Simpsons.

In May 2002 I officially graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BS in computer science. In 1997 (man that seems like a long time ago) I graduated from Washington Park HS. Yes, I know, that site isn't very impressive, and no, I haven't touched it for several years.

WFS Logo

One of the best experiences I have ever had was on a trip called Western Field Studies. This is a 33 day adventure throughout the western United States. Students travel on a school bus to national parks, monuments, forests, and places of historical interest and camp out (in tents or under the stars). I was a part of trip 25, which took place in the summer of 1996. A first for WFS was we took along a laptop computer and kept up a web site. That link will take you to the 1996 site, where there is a link to the current site.