I apologize for this in advance - it isn't like me to rant about current life events here, and in fact I've been intentionally avoiding it (as advertised [Disambiguity]); however, I seem to have become fairly popular lately, and as such feel I should present this to explain why it may be awhile if I don't respond to an email with my usual alacrity. It would seem that at present my time is spent suffering one torment after another:
My new laptop - which I've vaguely alluded to on several occasions - is apparently identifying itself as a lemon. Without even going into the idiocy of my previous issue, now my laptop has taken it unto itself to dutifully shut itself off 80% of the time during the boot process. That's right - the fucker doesn't even turn ON over half the time. When it does manage to turn on, it usually stays on, but it hiccups atrociously, and in very unusual manners: it seems to run, say, Postal2 well enough, even with all the graphical options maximized, but it completely up and chokes when presented with simple Java applets. Even the interface and mouse cursor are lagging, and the Java control panel all but locks up the machine. For the love of sanity, even the Windows start-up sound stutters... AND WORST OF ALL, SYSTEM RESTORE HAS CEASED TO FUNCTION.
None of this happened prior to Friday of last week. This is all new.
To answer your questions: it isn't Java, and it isn't anything else on the hard drive. CheckDisk cleared it completely, filewise and sectorwise; McAfee deemed it free of malicious logic. I've uninstalled and reinstalled Java: same symptoms occur. I've tried examining the heat sink: no blockage, no damage that I've found. I've tried swapping out the video card: same symptoms with either. I've tried removing the battery: same symptoms. I've tried just the battery: same symptoms. I've tried swapping around the RAM: no combination of this-card-in-this-slot I tried solved the problems. I keep thinking the problem is memory-related - the symptoms seem to point to that - but I don't believe the memory chips themselves are faulty; I think there's a subtler ghost at work in the machine, scaring the laptop into powering itself down when it tries to use it.
Now I do have a warranty for this thing, but I learned from my previous encounter with the company I purchased it from that I can expect broken promises, long turn-arounds, general incompetency, and pointless prattle from them. It would appear that the company has a firm policy stating that a three-digit IQ is a firing offense.
Do yourself a favor: don't buy any computers with spider labels on them. If it's like mine, it bites the wax tadpole. Incidentally, if anyone has a clever idea regarding how I may be able to get this thing to work or get it replaced without effectively losing hundreds or thousands of dollars in the process and without dealing with retards, I'm listening.
I was planning a trip to Funspot for next week, something that I was looking forward to for months. I was preparing to take the days off from work and establish travel plans. One of the great draws on this particular trip was that a group of us experienced gamers were going to all enter the weekly Texas Hold'Em tournament held there. It would have been glorious: we see each other no more frequently than every six months, and competing like that on something more social than classic arcade games was a terrific concept. As it turns out, Funspot no longer runs those poker tournies - they play Bingo instead. Bloody Bingo. One-hundred-percent-skill-free BINGO. What a disappointment. That was half the reason I wanted to go. I may not even find myself going at all now, seeing as I have that much less incentive to deal with getting out of work and delaying my room repair.
Which reminds me: there's a hole in the floor of my bedroom. spkskippy can vouch for that - he discovered it, with the entire corner of the bed instantaneously plunking about six inches while he was sitting on it. I've moved the bed several times to avoid the hole, but it always seems to manage to break through again, widening the hole. Right now I have the bedframe at an angle so as to keep its spelunking leg well away from the hole, but my room is really too narrow to leave it like that comfortably, and it's probably just a matter of time before it punches through again.
Repairing this essentially requires my room to be completely emptied. Those of you who have seen my room probably have a fairly good sense of how densely populated it is with my belongings - moving all that is a LOT of work, especially when there really isn't any place I can move it to that is even remotely organized. Or climate-controlled. But if the landlord is ever going to get it repaired...
As of late, I've become a rather respected Wikipedian, offering praised guidance to many articles about puzzles. In particular, the Sudoku article is one I am largely credited for, both for creation and maintenance. Maintenance often entails deletions or truncations, be they removing blatant advertising or rewording subtly-biased perspectives. During a significant and desperately needed revamping of the Variants section, I removed a paragraph that, apart from advertising a particular Sudoku-variant program, was largely redundant with info elsewhere in the section. Imagine my surprise when I got a personal email apparently from Uwe Meffert himself. Now this guy is a fairly famous puzzle constructor of the three-dimensional variety; I have one of his Pyraminx devices - a Tomy original, I might add - sitting on my headboard. So what does this legend do? He attaches three .pdf files to his email in an attempt to defend the reference to that program I deleted: apparently he wrote the program, and he wrote the original paragraph mentioning it in the article. Now already, he's admitted to a no-no: advertising yourself or your creations on Wikipedia is a MAJOR faux pas. Beyond that, he's taken a Wikipedia issue outside of Wikipedia. What should have been presented publicly on a discussion page was privately sent to me. But even worse than his etiquette transgressions are the contents of those files themselves: one is a Martin Gardner article portion apparently included to gratify Mr. Meffert, one is one of the most inane and unresearched attempts at a historical article I've ever seen (which even contradicts Mr. Meffert's argument at points!), and one is a theiving of the concept of the lo shu which even contains an error. So here I am, humble puzzle hobbyist, singled out with the task to tell this not-so-humble puzzle veteran that he's being an idiot. I don't care how good I am at that sort of thing - why do I always get stuck with having to tell people off?
Oh, and I just came down with a cold. I have lots of nose-blowing and coughing to look forward to as I'm trying to deal with all of this crap.
In the interest of mentioning something a reader may actually care about: I'm expecting to have my next puzzle posted tomorrow. It's called Archipelago, and it is my firm belief that it was created with the sole purpose of screwing with the heads of those who have solved too many other puzzles. I'll let you draw your own conclusions, though. For now, I'm going home to play Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Somehow. If I'm lucky. - ZM, who is as always willing to hear anything anyone has to say about any of this - positive, negative, or otherwise