Days 145 – 149: Finishing Some Things

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a bit of a nerd. This weekend was spent 1 part hanging out to about 7 parts hacking, modifying and reassembling computers… and an Apron. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

Friday. What turned out to be my last day as a contractor at MS was just brilliant. At about 4 PMI was pulled into my Director’s office and told, “You have NEO (New Employee Orientation) on Monday at 8 AM!”  Nothing like a cold bucket of water to wake you up and get you psyched for Monday. But enough of that- After work I zipped home, through together a lamb roast, popped it in the oven. Ran out and picked up Joel from the usual spot, got back home, prepped some Brussels sprouts, threw them in with the lamb.  Cooked up some quinoa and we did feast! Shortly thereafter I zipped (in horrible traffic) to Seattle and got my haircut.  all beautiful and military-ish.  Why? Because its easy to maintain, that’s why. See? Even my stylist likes thought it was worthy enough to photo-bomb.

Oh the hair is cutted.

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Saturday started with a workout per usual. Felt great to stretch!  After that we showered and prepped to hang out with a couple we haven’t seen in forevers.  One of their parent’s owns a McMansion on Lake Sammamish so we bbq some veggie-burgers and just kinda hung out and caught up. Such time included sitting in a hot tub (my skin has still yet to forgive me) and culminated in a dare to jump into the lake.  I’m not one to back down, so I accepted and forced the darer to come in with me.  Well, not so much forced as cajoled. But we did and obviously I froze to death.  Soon after it was time to leave.  To prep for the work we had to do that night, we napped. Or rather Joel napped. I never seem to be able to nap.  Its really the darndest thing. With an art opening happening in Seattle, there was a thought to head over and attend, but alas traffic was shit thanks to the 520 bridge being closed again.  So instead? We watched movies and worked on projects.

Sunday Morning started with pancakes, sausage and watching the Great Gatsby. Now…  (As I try to decide on what level I want to get into this…okay) So, I frankensteined my machines on the floor of my living room with the Great Gatsby beautifully playing in front of my.  The reason for attacking my laptop and my iMac is that both of my computers are past the warranties and I’m doing everything I can to modify/extend their lives.  Though the sad reality is that my poor laptop will probably give up the ghost here in a few months. But here’s what I did.

Quick nerd aside

  • Bought a cheap, refurbished version of my laptop off of ebay for about $140 a few months ago.  It came with a 128gb SSD (or Solid State Drive… basically a hard drive that is made up of similar memory to your thumb drive- this is important)
  • After my regular hdd (hard drive) started failing 2 weeks ago in my laptop, I replaced it with the 128gb ssd and did a fresh install of Windows 8.
  • I effectively merged the best parts of the two laptops together.
  • Last week I bought a 256gb SSD (yay more room!)
  • I bought a first rate iMac SSD Kit (first party cables and everything) off of Amazon (went for quality)
  • This past weekend, I cloned my 128gb SSD to the 256gb SSD and installed the latter into my laptop.
  • This left the 128gb SSD available to be added to my iMac and create a “hybrid drive” (basically, it merges a regular HDD with a SSD and stores your most commonly used files including the Operating System on the SSD thus allow you to access them faster)
  • So, on Sunday Morning I sat in the living room with a 27″ iMac on my lap, lifted the screen out, pulled apart all the cables and boards and… yeah. It was ridiculous (but fun).
    • 75% of the way in, I discovered a much easier way to do the task, but I already was down this path and purchasing the alternative equipment would have been even lengthier than just finishing what I started.
    • So I finished what I started
    • Including upgrading my iMac HDD to 2TB

Important iMac HDD upgrade information I mostly discovered on my own. The internet helped a little, but everyone’s first answer was “use this $35 dollar piece of software!” Which is stupid great if you want to spend an additional $35 bucks on top of the $200+ you already threw into a new hard drive. Me? I’m stubborn, so here’s what I found:

  1. If you are upgrading your hard drive in your iMac, late 2009 or later… You need to use the same brand HDD. Otherwise the temperature sensor will not work properly and the fan will run constantly. Yes there are software options to control the fan, but honestly? The best solution is to purchase the same brand and “class” of hard drive.  For example: I had a 1 TB Cavalier Black Western Digital HDD. It turns out Joel had a 2TB we could swap out in our home’s server.  Its the same brand, same class and had all the same ports.  Originally, I was going to use a Seagate HDD, but the thermal sensor ports are completely different. So this would not have worked at all.
  2. The class of your hard drive determines the firmware used to control how the hard drive itself works.  So another class of Western Digital hard drive, wouldn’t necessarily work. For example, as of Today WD makes three (that I know about) classes of 3.5″ hard drive Green (eco friendly or something), Blue (high end user), and Black (server grade, for people who need the extra speed).  Neither the blue nor the green are guaranteed to work.  And in fact, would probably require some additional software to maintain.
  3. When you plug the thermal sensor for your hard drive in, make sure you:
    1. Mark the top of it (optional, but helpful if you move rather quickly like I tend to)
    2. Put it in right-side up
    3. Place it in the exact same position it was in before

Important Hybrid Drive Information

  1. When you format your hybrid drive, you absolutely canrestore from Time Machine to the new hybrid drive (without undoing all the command line work you did in terminal). No one said this explicit phrase ANYWHERE on the net.  I know a clean install is mostly desired by nerds, but I don’t have 3 days to reset all my permissions and reinstall all that crap. So shoo. Go away hard-core nerds.
  2. The guide I used to get through the terminal required stuff to create the hybrid drive can be found here.

I highly recommend using the guides from ifixit.com.  They are thorough and they even sell the tools (giant suction cups anyone?) you need to get the job done. Also if you want the software, here’s the $35 one… and here’s a free alternative to that.  The first works in the preferences pane, the second just runs (even if you close the window/quite the program), but they both work regardless of the type of hard drive you install.

I love my spudger.

/End Nerd Aside

After I reassembled everything I setup the hard drives to format together and then installed the new OS on top of ’em. While that was going on I cleaned up my techie-mess and went for the gold.  I spied my apron I’d started almost three weeks ago and decided to finish that sucker.  Low and Behold, I don’t suck at sewing!

I sewed a monster sized apron! Yay! An apron that fits me. 🙂

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Certainly was a pleasant surprise to me.  We rounded out the night with a visit from another friend, some fixings for Nachos (no cheese for me… yay allergies) and a bit of Avatar Korra. That’s right, the new season has started and I’m a little bit excited.

Sunday night, because it wasn’t really Monday Morning… till I fell asleep.  I was all kinds of excited for my first day. Also? I had a butt-load of work dumped on my lap last minute on Friday.  So my head finally hit the pillow around 2:06 AM.

Monday was both fun and boring at almost the same time. I mean, what do you expect from a day called “New Employee Orientation”? I started out well, a Meal replacement shake first thing… but then two hours later I had a cliff bar and pear for “breakfast.” 2-3 hours after that was phadthai for lunch, with another pear in the afternoon to keep me going.  To polish off this day of “off-diet” debauchery, I ate trashy american Chinese with the sexiest guy I know and man… it was delicious.  No workout on Monday though. Lacking sleep and then spending the whole day meeting new people (and somehow getting in front of 100+ folks and giving not one, but two presentations) left me thoroughly exhausted.

Tuesday was spent in a quasi-transitional state. My new credentials weren’t quite setup yet, but I was considered full time so… I followed up on what I could, delivered on a few projects.  And actually stuck to my diet pretty well. 3 shakes, a piece of fruit and a recovery decaf soy latte, with two shots of pumpkin flavoring.  The evening was spent creating interesting foods.  Mainly baked salmon, with an odd veggie melange, and indian chickpeas I found at Costco that are just delicious. And then? I played a video game. I was tired and you know what? It felt good.

All in all the weekend turned out to be a pretty productive one and I can’t explain how happy and wonderful I feel at my job at the moment.

Things are looking up and I am done for today.

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