I just finished scribbling on my absentee ballot for the November 7th election in the US. If you are a US citizen, please be sure to vote. If you are a US citizen living abroad, please see the Overseas Vote Foundation web site for details on how to vote while abroad. You may still be able to vote using a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. And if you haven’t officially registered for an absentee ballot, the site will help you register to vote and sign up for an absentee ballot for next time.


The ice dispenser on our Coke machine has busted a couple of times recently. The ice machine was fine, it was a motor inside the coke machine that was busted and not dispensing ice. Last Tuesday it broke again and the Coke maintenance guys couldn’t commit to a repair date any sooner than ‘sometime next week’. Since it had been broken multiple times we asked if they’d replace the whole machine. That also seemed to be impossible.

After several back and forths without any resolution, I asked the local Subway office to help out. They were able to quickly get a commitment to change out the Coke machine on Monday.

Meanwhile we had also asked them about them upgrading our bottled drinks refrigerator to the one specified in our new contract (previously we used a fridge from Bessie Byer but we are transitioning towards selling more Coke branded products). We were supposed to get it in July, then August, and then it seemed to be kind of forgotten. We reminded them of this and they finally delivered it on Friday. However, after it had been powered on for several hours it still hadn’t gotten cold (the light worked fine though).

The real fun started on Monday afternoon when the Coke technicians showed up with a new Coke machine. They brought in a height-adjustable cart which they were going to move the Coke and ice machine (on top of the Coke machine) onto, then lower it to take off the ice machine. Unfortunately while moving them onto the cart the top of the cart collapsed and both the ice machine and Coke machine went flying to the floor with parts and ice flying every which way. Fortunately nobody was hurt (it was afternoon so only two customers in the shop), but both machines were pretty much totalled.

Now the Coke machine belongs to Coke and they had a new one right there to replace it, so that’s no big deal for me. The ice machine is mine though, and it cost somewhere around US$3000, so it’s not a trivial loss. The Coke guys promised that they’d take care of getting it replaced. However, this still leaves me with no ice, going on almost a week now. And even though I didn’t have ice last week the soda was still cold because the water for the fountain drinks is cooled by the ice tank. Now we don’t even have that, so only warm soda from the machine now.

The guys also were unable to find the problem with the bottled drinks fridge so we had to put back in the Bessie Byer fridge. At least we have cold bottled drinks.

Stop XP’s reboot-nag

One of the most annoying things about Windows is the way it handles reboots after updates (whether a manual update or an automatic update). The way it is designed is it’ll give you a popup window every 10 minutes asking you to reboot. The only options are to reboot or wait another 10 minutes.

It gets better. If nobody is actively using the computer, it will go ahead and reboot for you. Never mind if you had important stuff running. Never mind if you hadn’t saved your files. Just go ahead and reboot.

The one user-apparent way around this is to disable Automatic Updates, and manually update when it’s safe to reboot. However, this has the effect that you will then need to remember to manually check for updates periodically, Windows Defender will not get updated, and it’ll nag you about Automatic Updates being turned off instead.

After this month’s update rebooted in the middle of running a disk recovery on a friend’s laptop drive, I finally got fed up enough to find a solution. You can find it in this blog entry: XP Automatic Update Nagging

There’s a few different solutions. I chose to use the group policy editor to disable the auto-restart option. (Though in Microsoft’s continued effort to twist logic, you have to “enable” the “no auto-restart” option.)

Now you will have to remember to reboot your box, though my experience is that you have to reboot XP every few days anyways.

PCI (Planex Communications Inc.) FXG-08TXJ Gigabit Switch

As you may remember, I had been having all kinds of problems getting a D-Link DGS-1008D gigabit ethernet switch to work reliably. (You can read the previous episode in that saga.)

Unfortunately I had not been able to find anyone selling any other brand of switch than the D-Link ones. Through Google I was able to find some other options available in Taiwan. I finally was able to purchase a PCI FXG-08TXJ 8-port gigabit ethernet switch for TW$3100 (US$94). (You can read about my search over on

Many of my readers probably don’t recognize the PCI brand name. It’s a Japanese company who primarily sell in Japan, but many of their products are also available in Taiwan. I had previously had an 802.11b PCMCIA card from them long ago. Their full name is Planex Communications Inc. The one drawback to their products is that most of their written materials are in Japanese. That’s not too big a problem considering the main alternative here is to get something all in Chinese.

The PCI switch itself is enclosed in an all-metal silver colored case. It feels nice and solid, whereas the D-Link has a plastic case and feels cheaply made. The PCI switch has the ethernet ports and all LEDs on the front panel and the power jack on the back panel. The D-Link had LEDs in front and ethernet ports and power in back. Personally I prefer both ethernet and LEDs in front. As a nice touch, they also include a small pigtail for the power brick so that you can only use one power outlet on your power strip.

Plugging everything in, it all worked right away with all computers linking at gigabit speeds. I’ve been using it for one week and there have been zero instances of link being dropped and no other oddities noticed. It just works. The switch supports up to 9.5K sized Jumbo Frames. After installing it I reconfigured the systems with Realtek 8169 cards to use 7K Jumbo Frames (the max size they support). My laptop has a Broadcom 5788 gigabit chipset which does not appear to support Jumbo Frames, so it was left at the standard 1500 byte frame size.

Performance Testing:

minquan: Solaris 10 6/06 P4-3.0ghz 1gb Realtek 8169 MTU7000
jinzhou: Solaris 11 b41 P2-450mhz dual CPU 384mb Realtek 8169 MTU7000
songjiang: Windows XP SP2 P4-2.53ghz 2gb Realtek 8169 MTU7000
noraneko: Windows XP SP2 PM-2.0ghz 1gb Broadcom 5788 MTU1500

Testing Scheme:

server: iperf -s -m -M 100000 -w 1M -l 24k
client: iperf -c server -m -M 100000 -w 1M -l 24k -t 60

With minquan as server:
jinzhou: 268 Mbits/sec
songjiang: 578 Mbits/sec
noraneko: 493 Mbits/sec

With jinzhou as server:
minquan: 774 Mbits/sec
songjiang: 558 Mbits/sec
noraneko: 432 Mbits/sec

With songjiang as server:
minquan: 580 Mbits/sec
jinzhou: 265 Mbits/sec
noraneko: 332 Mbits/sec

With noraneko as server:
minquan: 612 Mbits/sec
jinzhou: 255 Mbits/sec
songjiang: 284 Mbits/sec

Performance testing was a bit interesting. The ancient 450mhz system did quite poorly as a client but quite well as a server. (Note: In iperf the definition of client and server are kind of backwards. The client sends data and the server receives.) I read elsewhere that the Realtek chipset is very CPU intensive compared to others, and indeed during heavy network usage I see that the CPU is pegged on jinzhou. Apparently the Intel chipsets are the most CPU efficient and also can more easily attain speeds above 800 Mbits/sec. They are a bit more expensive though. This system really needs a motherboard/cpu upgrade.

The laptop system (noraneko) does better but still nothing spectacular. The lack of Jumbo Frames support is probably what is holding it back. songjiang and minquan both turn in quite respectable benchmark results. Also of note, the Solaris scores tend to be better all other things considered. Keep in mind that these are just informal performance tests of raw network performance and don’t take into account actual performance which would be affected by disk speed and protocol efficiency.

All in all a pretty good result this time. I might replace the Realtek boards with Intel ones at some point, though they do pretty well for being 1/3 the price of an Intel board.

Lyrics: Soldier Jane (Beck)

Yet another example where looking up the lyrics on the net results in painfully incorrect lyrics. I’m not saying this is 100% right, but this is a hell of a lot better than what’s out there. I’ve also added a ‘歌詞 / Lyrics’ category now that there are a few of those on this blog. (By the way, the new Beck album is good!)

Artist: Beck
Song: Soldier Jane
Album: The Information

No one cares what dress she wears at all
Tattered rags and paper bags and all
She’s the one sleeping in the dirt
Drag her down, don’t let her drown in dirt

Lovers drag their canes across the gates
Gamblers light candles for the days
No one wake her up, she’s sleeping still
So put a candle on her window sill

Soldier Jane, don’t be afraid
Take your heart out of the shell
Take your heart out of the shell
Throw it away

Stars, they strike the darkness in the room
Knives, they take the poison from the wound
Cars, they drive us down into the ruins
We sweep our cares away with dirty brooms

Soldier Jane, don’t be afraid
Take your heart out of the shell
Take your heart out of the shell
Throw it away

Robert Anton Wilson needs your help

Noted sci-fi and philosophy author Robert Anton Wilson (The Illuminatus Trilogy, et al) is having trouble covering his medical costs and rent. As you may know from his writings he suffered from polio as a child but had mostly been cured of it. However, he is now suffering from debilitating post-polio syndrome, may not have much longer to live, and has been unable to cover both his medical bills and rent. Some of his friends have started a donation drive so that he can continue to live in his home and receive medical care for however long he can stay with us.

Here are some things you can do to help:

Send a donation to his PayPal account:

Send a check payable to Robert Anton Wilson by mail to:

Dennis Berry
c/o Futique Trust
P.O. Box 3561
Santa Cruz, CA 95063

Order books (Bob’s non-fiction works and other authors) from New Falcon Publications who will be donating 7% of all online orders to Robert Anton Wilson during October.

Order his other books and souvenirs through his official website. (He’ll get an extra cut when ordering from Amazon through his website due to being an Amazon affiliate.)

Make a prayer or offering to Goddess Eris.

(Disclaimer: I provide hosting services for Robert Anton Wilson’s official website.)