Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How to install a stereo receiver

Welcome to another "How-to (and how not-to)" episode of TSG. In today's episode, I purchase a 100-watt stereo receiver of My Very Own, and actually get it configured just so.

What you'll need:
  • A nice, shiny new piece of audio gear (in My case, a Yamaha RX-397)
  • A 19" equipment rack (built here) with a rack shelf that I bought specifically for this purpose
  • Dustpan and whisk broom
  • Floor cleaner, because I'm not getting down on that floor to do any work before I clean up that puddle of cat pee
  • One sheet of disposable cleaning rag (see above)
  • Hand soap (ditto)
  • Two steel angle brackets to add extra support to the back of the rack shelf
  • ¾" x #10 wood screws
  • A leatherworking awl, to make starter holes for the wood screws
  • A slightly-melted fuchsia-coloured multi-bit screwdriver
  • A couple of nice, heavy bookshelf-size speakers which I bought about 10 years ago but haven't yet pressed into service
  • A quick lie-down, because with the humidity it feels like 40℃
  • A peek at the manual, just because
  • Various contortions that vaguely resemble an entire hatha yoga class trying to dance to "Rock Lobster" under someone's front porch
  • A bottle of La Fin du Monde beer and a couple of European wieners with fried onions
  • One ⅛" to ¼" adaptor
  • One set of headphones
  • Another set of headphones, because the first set is only working on one side
  • Red's help to test the wonky headphones and declare them perfectly functional
  • A good night's sleep
  • A coffee run
  • A brand new ⅛" to ¼" headphone adaptor, because the first one was shorting out
  • A spool of proper 18-gauge speaker wire, because the cheap red-and-black stuff that came with the speakers seems to have a break on the left side
  • Another lie-down
  • Scissors and an extremely sharp Swedish-made Frosts knife, to strip the insulation off the new speaker wire
  • A few more contortions to run the new wire through the equipment rack, out the back and under the desk
  • One more bottle of La Fin de Monde beer
  • A hug from My teddy bear, Mikhael Bearzhezhinski; a thumbs-up from My guardian dragon Glori; and an "Ooh! Ahh!" from Red, who has come downstairs to hear what the new system sounds like
What you will probably not need:
  • Five or six MIDI cables
  • Power adaptor for now-defunct 10/100 Ethernet switch
  • Three completely different USB cables
  • A guitar cord
  • Needle nose pliers
  • A copy of Essential System Administration by Æleen Frisch (but only because I no longer need it to hold up the paper tray on My printer)
  • A bag containing 45' of spare Cat 5e network cable
  • A video switchbox
  • A cable from a KVM switch
  • A Command and Conquer disk that has yet to run properly on the WINE emulator on My Linux system
  • A toy car (bright red BMW Z8)
  • A Clue-By-Four™ (parks Her weapon of choice back in the corner next to Her desk)
Elapsed time: About three hours of actual labour over two evenings. Special thanks to Larry, the IT instructor who taught Me that approximately 90% of all computer problems are bad connections. I took that lesson to heart many years ago (and expanded it to include electronic stuff and whatnot in general), and it continues to pay off handsomely. I mean, a broken speaker wire *and* a broken headphone adaptor? It happens.

And if you take anything home from this episode of TSG, let it be this: Life is far too short to waste on cheap speaker wire.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Think Like a God Day 2010: Core Competencies

I'd like to wish everyone a happy Think Like a God Day. As in previous years, July 13 is a day to reflect upon your inner divinity and talk about what you think a god should be.

This year's discussion topic is essential skills. What, at a bare minimum, should a god be able to do?

I have fairly liberal views on godhood. I don't think one need be omniscient, but sentience is probably a good idea.

I've never been interested in Ultimate Power, but I do think that a god should have at least one specialty. I specifically chose magisteria that don't actually require Me to do a lot of heavy lifting 24/7/365. Being the Goddess of Punctuation is probably the most onerous of My specialties, but I find Strunk & White's The Elements of Style and Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves to be inspirational and helpful. Chocolate mostly takes care of itself, as does the Northern Hemisphere vernal equinox. As for random equipment malfunctions, they appropriately just show up whenever they darn well feel like it.

Overall, I think the most important role for a god is a willingness to take full responsibility for at least one aspect of reality.

So, get cracking -- There's a lot of reality out there.