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30th of September 2003

Well my cursed life continues, when my computer systems have been playing up and worse quite a lot recently.

That I guess explains why I am currently writing this latest news in a text editor instead of my usual HTML editor. Lets just say that bad things happened to that computer containing my HTML editor.

First up though is that my main server suffered an annoying fault in one of it's memory modules, where as this server was crashing without warning and frequently a couple of weeks ago, then it took many days to figure out what was going on.

It is possible that one or two e-mail could have been lost during this, but that remains to be seen.

Then this past week begin to get worse, when only a few days ago I noticed that my workstation1 computer was suffering an odd problem. This was that whenever I played any video file, then the link between this computer and the server went down.

Stop the video file and a minute or two later the network link is working again.

Sounds like a issue with WinXP to me, which a reset should soon cure. Upon a reboot though it was still doing it, where before trying again I decided to install some new system files from the Windows automatic update.

This was chugging away as slow as usual, when suddenly something even more strange happened, when with a click the computer turned itself off. And I had to turn the power switch off and on again, when the soft power on/off button was not working as it should.

Since things in my life only get worse, then this was not about to be any exception, where while booting back to windows it reached about the logon section, when 'click' it turned itself off again.

If you thought that it was overheating then you would be wrong, even if it was running quite hot the previous week.

So I tried rebooting it a few times with exactly the same result, which made me decide to try the last good known configuration option. This proved no help at all, which made me think that it was time to get out the repair CD, except that things took a turn for the worst.

As at this point it then started to die much earlier in the booting process, which made me decide to take this computer out and pull it apart. That I did checking all the connections, the fans and just about anything else.

Since it was now dying within seconds of power-on, then I decided to take out the motherboard and disconnect everything unimportant from it. That was the time that I decided to reset the BIOS and check the memory and CPU.

No luck, when now we reach the stage that I am at now, where the computer will only power on for a fraction of a second before turning itself off. And I have seen that nothing can be done to fix it, which makes this fault one of either a dead motherboard, dead CPU, or maybe dead BIOS.

In any case, as I never liked the computer system that could only run an Athlon 1700+ CPU at the 1200+ speed maximum, then so did I decide to buy a new motherboard. Not to forget a new AGP graphics card, when my last one had been damaged by lightning.

The only other issue was that I had to get some new memory as well to go on this new board, where some DDR400/PC3200 type was the ideal. The problem here is that after checking the manual, then only an 800 Mhz FSB CPU can work with it.

So I added an 2.4Ghz 800MHz FSB CPU on to my shopping list, even though I had hoped to use my 2.4Ghz 400MHz FSB CPU in it. Well I could have done had I wished to use DDR266 memory, which kind of defeats the purpose of buying this great motherboard (Gigabyte GA-8KNXP).

The final item of purchase after the motherboard, memory, graphics card and CPU was a 120Gb HDD exactly the same as the one I already had. The reason was that as this motherboard supports RAID, then it would help system reliability to actually use it.

That first 120Gb HDD had been sitting spare for months, when it was a replacement for the one that had failed in the server. As I had lot of non-vital media files lost that time, then I decided to run a RAID system on my server at that point.

And as I had to buy another three HDDs at that point anyway, then so did I decide to move to buying four and get the better value (and much more reliable) 180Gb models. That as a result left this 120Gb HDD unused, where I had no spare connector to attach it to.

However, I did decide to one day use it to do RAID10 in my workstation1, but in the end it was unplanned to get a new RAID supporting motherboard instead of a simple PCI add on card.

So considering that I had wanted to do RAID anyway, where this new board supported RAID, then that was why I purchased this matching HDD, which I noticed had fallen £60 in price between when I got these two.

RAID is of course good, even if I lose 120Gb capacity, when the data is backed up, where also the striping means that reads and writes will be nearly twice as fast.

I should also point out that this new motherboard has built in LAN, including GigaBit Ethernet. Although I will only be running the next speed down for now, but RAID systems in both computers can now actually make use of that network bandwidth.

And as the new Charmed season has just started in the US, then I would be able to transfer those 430Mb files very much faster. Just need to get a new NIC for the server, then a Gigabit switch. Although it could be less costly to run both NICs in the server (making three in total), when the new NIC can go direct to workstation1, while the old NIC can still go to the old switch.

Anyway, after spending a couple of days researching available hardware and checking prices, with the aim of making a *reliable* system, then all this hardware is due to be dispatched to me today.

Unfortunately, since one company offered no faster option than with 2 to 3 day delivery, then that creates a few problems. One is of course that I am writing this in a text editor, where second and more importantly is that workstation1 handled all the on-line orders.

I did consider swapping that over to another computer, but as processing all these order forms and payments is very complex for all these payment systems, then I decided it is better to suffer a few days delay and get the old system working again. When swapping it over would only create more problems, when the other HDD currently contains half the information.

Still, if problems crop up I will have no choice, when although this upgrade should be simple enough, then you can never tell. Getting Windows to adjust to running on a new brain should be the hard part, but to reinstall WinXP over this old drive should do it.

Anyway, since I am now down to using laptop2, then hopefully nothing else will go bang. So in the end the on-line order processing will be down until Thursday or Friday, when workstation1 starts operating twice as fast.

Also the standard e-mail system while functional is running slow at this time due to all these problems, where although I should be able to get most e-mail cleared over the next couple of days, but any that are not would be answered the start of next week.

Now I just hope to be able to upload this latest news, when workstation1 used to do that as well. I should be able to though, when access details are stored on the server's RAID system (one of my good ideas) and I should have an FTP program somewhere.

5th of September 2003

I am sure that some people reading this won't believe that I am truly cursed.

Anyway, here is the conclusive proof to prove that I am, where even diehard fans of coincidence must find it highly unusual.

What I mean is that shortly after midnight last night my cable modem crashed, which makes the first time it has done that in months. After resetting it all was well until an hour later when the third link on my ISPs network went down, which took down my Net access for about 20 minutes.

Then to top it off an hour after that my local area suffered a power cut, where two of my three working computers were at least battery and UPS backed up. Well my UPS kept my LAN system (the server and laptop were still talking) and Net connection working. My fax machine should have been kept powered as well, although I am not sure why (like one fax a week), but I had connected the inkjet printer to the UPS instead of the fax by mistake.

This power cut lasted about 50 minutes, which knocked my UPS power down by about 40%. I did however have fun trying to find my super bright glo-sticks, which I use on such occasions.

Well I knew where they were stored, but I could not quite find them in the darkness. My first idea was to use a mirror to reflect the light from my still running server in this area to try and spot them, but this did not work out, but at least I did find my torch.

Unfortunately, the batteries were extremely flat, but I did recall that my lighter was in the cupboard. And after pulling out one thing at a time and in the dim light of the server going "no that is not the box containing my lighter", then I eventually found that very box.

Since the first time I tried my lighter it failed to light, then I was worried that it was out of gas. However, on the second attempt it lit, where I soon found the packet containing my glo-sticks, where after unwrapping one I soon had bright light for over 5 minutes and dim light for over the next 20 minutes.

Then I just had to pack everything back in the cupboard, but the next time we have a power cut I at least know exactly where my glo-sticks are.

And so you could say that I used the mirror to find the torch, the torch to find the lighter and then the lighter to find the glo-sticks. However, later on when I was in bed thinking about this event it was then that I remembered that my watch light could have lighted up the room well enough anyway.

Well I was tired staying up so late getting things done, but I will have to remember that next time.

That it not the end of the matter though, when after setting one of my clock's times back to the correct value there was a second power cut for about 30 seconds. And I did hear the next morning that there was a third power cut, which makes a total of 5 unlikely events within the period of a few hours.

I guess that third power cut was a long one, when it caused my laptop to power down. As that laptop can last for about 2 hours on battery power in such a state, then unless this battery was unusually low on power, then this third power cut must have lasted over an hour.

Well it could not have lasted much longer than an hour either, when after two power cuts my UPS was already down to 60%, where the next morning I discovered that my server had kept operational during all this time.

Anyway, you can work out the odds yourself for all these things happening at once, but I believe that I am cursed.

4th of September 2003

Well I have some bad news concerning my WHITE card supplier. As I have now been informed that about two months ago they went bankrupt, which explains my problem in contacting them over the past month or so.

Still it is odd how their web site does not mention this event and makes it look like business as usual, but this event does mean that one day in the future my WHITE card supply will have to end. At least cheap card supply, where even if I do find another supplier, then I doubt that they would get this cheap again.

No doubt that is one of the reasons why they went bankrupt, with a "hey these cards are such good quality and are so cheap that they have now bankrupted the company supplying them".

The reason how I found this out is that my other Swedish supplier, who I contacted about this contact problem, also knows them very well. After all this now bankrupt company owes them 92000 SEK (about ), which I guess they are now unlikely to see again.

Anyway, although this is not good news for long term cheap WHITE card supply, then there is at least some good news out of this. As my other Swedish supplier some how managed to have a couple of thousand of these very WHITE cards in stock, which he is now offering to sell.

This would at minimum allow me to complete outstanding orders, no matter my costs involved, but if the price is good, then I would certainly buy all that is being offered.

I cannot help to wonder though where this bankrupt supplier's 14,000 card stock ended up, where I could possibly still get most of these on the cheap. Then again maybe that could explain why my other supplier got these cards in a "take them as there all your going to get" kind of way.

Anyway, the good news is that my few outstanding orders will be completed next week, where of course I will now go and see how many of these last cards I can get.

Also today I will look into restocking my NTSC2PAL model, when a scan of where they should be has been unable to locate more. That should be a lot less hassle at least, but I still have to find out where that magazine and purchase details got to.

Whoops, cancel that restocking idea, when I found them. Seems that I forget that one of these models was different from the other three, where only when I looked up what exact model I supply did it click where they were. Oh well that would not have been the first time I have restocked on something already in stock, but this finding at least saves me spending thousands more at this time.

And at least I found out that trade magazine for when I have to restock on these video converters for real.

Earlier News...

My quest in trying to contact the supplier of my WHITE cards goes on, when I have been trying for weeks to contact them by e-mail without getting a single reply.

I have been trying recently to contact them by other methods, where my preferred choice was just to simply fax them an order. Making sure of course that they acknowledged the receipt of this fax order simply by faxing it back to me.

Since my middle name is "cursed", then yesterday before doing this I discovered that my fax machine had just run out of ink. This delayed sending this fax off until the evening, when I then had the time to get ink all over the place including in this ink cartridge.

So all ready I entered this fax number in Sweden and sent it off, where then I later found out that my fax machine gave it several tries and then gave it up marking it as a failure.

At that point I thought maybe they have one of those fax machines only available during normal hours, when at that point it was getting late in the day. However, this morning things are getting even worse (did I mention my middle name?), when after trying manual dialing I discovered that the reason why my faxes were not getting through was because the Swedish telephone service was coughing up a nice error message.

And as my spoken Swedish is not too good, then I have just asked another one of my Swedish suppliers to look into it. After all this other supplier owes me a favour and I expect is friendly enough to quickly look into it.

Sounds to me like it could be a number change from my crude understanding, but then again it could be anything.

So the "mystery of the missing supplier" goes on, where hopefully soon I will be able to find out where they have got to. Their two webs sites are still up and revealing nothing of interest, but the last time I heard from them was back in June. That last contact was their monthly news letter that kind of goes January, March, May and June, with no July, August or September additions.

Well it seems to me that either they have taken a really long holiday, or they have encountered some mishap like that STOP got them. Anyway, soon enough I should discover if contacting them through the telephone system is technically possible, where if not, then my last option seems to be to write them a letter.

Technically I could go and pay them a personal visit in Sweden, but since the cost of this trip could buy many thousands of these cards, then I think not. After all I doubt that I would find much there anyway if I cannot see much from here.

Anyway, the last I heard they had 14,000 of these cards in stock, where if at all possible I will be sure to pick up more than a few of them.

1st of September 2003

I have finally completed this site's update for a new month, which in general means updating the two main currency rates. And of course changing last month's special offer into this month's special offer, which you can see on the Special Offers page.

That was only completed this afternoon, when I wished to get my new LNB type on-line first, where that only arrived this morning. And a very useful LNB it is as well, which you can see from my long description. These C120 LNBs normally do not sell as well as the normal type, but I am sure that half of that problem is due to other suppliers simply not saying what you would use such an LNB for.

Many of them would not know I guess, but you can see from my LNBs page and elsewhere that I know my equipment. And I have a feeling that I will soon be stocking magnetic polarizers and of course feedhorns to go with them.

Also arriving today was more FUN4 and FUN6 card stock, when I ran out of these last week and had to wait for my funds at NoChex to transfer to my bank account. This to me seems to now take one day longer despite NoChex's claim of a faster withdrawal system.

One thing that I have noticed with the latest few batches of these FunCards is that this manufacturer is changing the colours. For example the old FUN6 colour, as displayed on this site, is a dark pink colour, but this latest batch is now a very light grey.

Very nice they look as well now, but even more strange is that these FUN6 cards make the first type that I have ever seen that comes with a hologram attached. I suspect that this is all being done to help combat counterfeiting, which is not uncommon with all kinds of equipment.

Well I will soon see about getting these new photos on-line, even if one colour or another hardly matters much.

I had to mark WHITE cards out of stock recently due to restocking on this item starting to pose a problem, when I have been trying to contact this supplier for weeks without receiving a single reply. So tomorrow I will see about trying other methods to contact them, where maybe they have just been away on holiday. And I guess I will look around to see if anyone else has these WHITE cards at such a low price, but I doubt it.

Anyway, take a look at my new LNB type if you have not done so yet, where over the next couple of days I will add the photo as well.