Sunday, April 08, 2007

Tomatoes, Conquering and Computers

Haven't posted for 3 weeks.

Would have a good excuse if I said I hadn't been on a computer at home during those 3 weeks. Yep, I'd have a good excuse if that was the case.

Was sick for a week - spent a lot of time on the computer, but playing Civ IV. Nice thing about Civ IV is it's like TV - you dont' need a brain to do it, and you can set it on an easy setting and conquer the world with a little bit of competition, but nothing to serious.

And then there was getting everything transferred over to the new computer, backed up off the old computer, backed up again, and then "wiping" the old computer. Last thing you want to do is give away all your financial info and passwords.

You could just delete everything, and use a program like Eraser to overwrite it, or your could reformat your hard disk and start from scratch. Or you could be extra cautious - and run a program to like DBAN (Darik's Boot and Nuke). You boot to a floppy / CD, and then shred the data on your hard drive, by writing over it in multiple different ways to not only destroy the data, but all evidence of the data. There's the simple write 0's, write 1's. There's the Canadian Royal Mounted Police of writing "I like horsies" followed by "I'm a Lumberjack, but I'm OK". Guess they tried just having the horses gallop all over the hard drives, but that did a better job of rendering them useless than erasing the data.

Of course, the US Millitary / FBI / CIA and NSA (No Such Agency) have their own standards. All of those are variations of recording "24" onto the hard disk, followed by CSPAN. Why does it need to record CSPAN as well as 24? Turns out that dialogue of Jack Bauer is not truly random, with certain phrases, such as "WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR" and "Make no mistake, if you do not tell me , I will kill you." Good thing is that while the political BS on CSPAN is even more repetitive, politicians try hard to put their 100 phrase vocabulary together in different ways, so the combination of 24 and CSPAN are particularly effective in erasing all useful electronic data.

But back to my story. What I did - delete all the files, and ran Eraser to remove all evidence of them. Run DBAN to shread everything on the hard disk. Re-format the hard disk. And only then re-install Windows XP and the software the came with the computer / is free.

Just re-install Windows XP. My computer came with the original Windows XP - not even SP1, let alone SP2. So, re-installing goes something like this:

  1. Install Windows XP from original CD
  2. Reboot, activiate, run Updater.
  3. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.
  4. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.
  5. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.
  6. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.
  7. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.
  8. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.
  9. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.

Yep - 9 rounds to get all patches / updates / stuff re-installed. 9 clicks to tell .NET to go f-off. Actually only took a couple of hours. Then it was tracking down good free anti-virus (PCMag recommended AVG, so I went with that), Spyware (Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy also recommended by PCMag, and I've used them off / on for years), and other freeware (OpenOffice looks pretty cool - free software to replace Word / Excel / PowerPoint).

Get the old computer setup and ready to give away, at which point I realize that it's now about 2-3 times faster than it was "pre-cleanup", since it is no longer gunked up by lots of little software programs running in the background, doesn't have 5 years of accumulated electronic dust causing it be slow. If the house was bigger, I might have kept it as a file / print server someplace. Good thing about having a smaller house is the forced minimization.

Which brings us to spring cleaning - started that yesterday. Me in the garage, Nava in her studio. I filled up half a large garbage bags with junk / old stuff don't really need anymore, and Nava discovered the carpetting she's always detested in her studio. Need to go out and do the other half of the garage in a few minutes.

Got the garden in last weekend, after prepping it the weekend before. Good thing about Sunnybail (it's supposed to be Sunnyvale, but with a bit more global warming, we'll be underwater, so I'm betting on Sunnybail) is the free compost at the recycling center. As much as you want, if you're a resident. Now, the Crudolla, which is over 10 years old now, and not as good looking as it is in the "Cast of Characters" over at CherkyB, can hold 8 five-gallon buckets of compost in the trunk. A couple of hours and 3 trips later, I had 120 gallons of compost on the garden, plus some basic fertilizer and green sand mixed in. There's something about me and 3 - maybe it's a mild case of OCD or something:
  • Number of trips to Sunnybail recycling for compost?
  • Number of times I turn the soil over each spring to mix in the compost / amendments
  • Number of unique ways I erased the data off the old computer
  • Number of tires with hubcaps on the Crudolla
  • Number of jokes CherkyB will add relating 3...

Bad thing about going to the nursery on a Saturday afternoon, on the way back from the recyling center with a load of compost, is Saturday afternoon is when the amateur gardeners go there. You get looked at funny for showing up with gardening cloths, let alone dirty gardening clothes caused you've been gardening. And their mozing around like cows grazing in the pasture - no real purpose or process, and they just stand where they want. And leave their carts blocking the isles. And their idiot kids just stand around and you have to ask them to let you by. Saturday mornings 9am is much better. 7am would be better, but then I'd have to leave a note for Nava to find when she wakes up...

Got some tomatos, and peppers and spices. Planted a couple of handfulls of old sugar pea seeds - figured they were old, so I'd overplant by a bunch and see if anything sprouted. With all the freezes we had over the winter, had to replace the pressure reducer that hooked the dripper system up to the sprinkler controller - it froze and cracked a couple of months back, which explained the mad dash outside @ 5:30am to turn off that sprinkler branch when it came on and was shooting water all over the side of the house and the master bedroom window.

And the soil still has a good whiff of funkiness to it, so my jokes about dead bodies with the neighbors are keeping up my "nice but a little off" rep in the neighborhood.


Nava said...

..."and Nava discovered the carpeting she's always detested in her studio".

Nice way to describe the results of my studio cleaning and tidying.
Maybe that's the underlying reason for why I keep the floor messy, to avoid having this carpet stare me in the face. And yet, when I am painting, I protect it with a plastic sheet. go figure!

Rhonda said...

I'm jealous you've been planting...
it's still like winter here. COLD.
It's gotta warm up soon right?

So, do you feed your garden (plant food)throughout the summer or no?

JohnnyB said...

Feeding - yes, the garden sometimes gets fed another time mid-summer. Sometimes a 1/2" dressing of compost, sometimes some sea-weed extract. Last year was a special "compost tea" (if you thought compost could be a bit ripe, try compost tea that's been fermenting in the sun for a week...).

Sometimes - other times, about 50% probably, it get's nothing.

Tomatoes do good - some years better, but no correlation to mid-summer feeding. Other vegies have never done great, except for beens and cukes, and they tend to do great no matter what I do.

Rhonda said...

ok I'm not a learned gardener...
I'm a "miracle grow" gardener.
Just add water and funky smell.
I should look into these other feeding types though.

I won't be planting tomatoes it seems in like forever!
We have a snow storm today
(April 11), 6-10 inches!!!
This is when I wonder why I live here!
Thanks for the info.

Nava said...

"I'm a "miracle grow" gardener. "
You and I, Rhonda... When I just came here, The /JohnnyB used to call me "Black Thumb", as I managed to bring death upon the most sturdy plants. Y'see, I had this theory that if there's a hose nearby, the plants can go and drink on their own, Eh? Apparently, they were too dumb to do that. And so, I might be the first person in history who killed geranium!!

But I have improved since then, and even The Johnny is astounded.

Still, I only use Miracle Grow.
This and dead bodies...

Rhonda said...

sometimes I give too much water.
it's finding that happy medium with the plants.
you make me laugh Nava.

Rhonda said...

ahhh and remember you old post Nava (I had to look it up) Dec. 27th The Usual Suspect.
There was a plant death there too!

Nava said...

But it wasn't me!!!...
I had a solid alibi (though I can't remember it now).

Seriously, in the past two years, dying plants are courtesy of The JohnnyB. Including the time I was in Israel, and he spread plant killer all over the garden, mistaking it for insect killer...

Rhonda said...

oh my! that's kinda funny in a real sad plant killer sort of way!!!

Nava said...

It was devastating!!!
We had a stunning blooming garden, and when I got back, it was all brown and dead...

The JohnnyB, serial killer!