Ooops, start again

Grubbe Street 250115aHmmm. When designing a model railway, it’s not as simple as it seems. I’ve realised that the layout I’ve been working on is aimless. Tracks lead to other tracks simply because they can. I don’t have a plan of operations, i.e. this train picks up here and delivers here etc.

So I’m having a rethink. First, I’m dividing the two legs of the baseboard so that I can start small and work up. Next, I found a plan in a magazine a few days ago:

Garston Welby smallThis is what they call a “tail chaser”, i.e. round and round it goes, but with plenty of sidings and goods yards etc. So I’m thinking I’ll adapt it to be one leg of my L shape as so:

Garston 080215This is still at a primitive stage on the up and down legs, as you can see. The branches go off to the horizontal part of the L baseboard, to be added and connected later. I’ve retained my central station as so much work went into it. I received some plastic platform kits last week and shazzam, the platform width is exactly the width I allowed in the drawing, so no track shifting needed, thank goodness.

Boy, I’m coming to realise how vital it is to spend as long as it takes on planning, because once you start laying track, cutting away the underlay, pinning it all down and ballasting (spreading finely ground granite chips on the track, glued in place), it would be very hard to change. I foresee many weeks or months of planning in front of me before I commit to permanent track laying. This is a project that will take years. These things are never finished, that’s the beauty of it. There’s always something to be done.

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Damn. I’ve just changed an ink tank in my Canon printer, only to discover that it’s a wrong type. I need type 526, but I accidentally bought a 521. I can’t take it back, I’ve opened it. So that’s $22.95 down the drain, literally into the rubbish bin. Bugger. And my printer don’t go until I buy another cartridge.

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I’m very happy that Tony Abbott is to stay on as PM. He’s such an idiot that he’ll be an easybeat at the next election. Turnbull + Bishop would have been much harder to beat. Yay, Tones! What next, an Australian Pope? A House of Lords? An Order of the Garter for Lord Downer? I can’t wait for the next bungle. Let’s make this a one-term federal government, like Victoria and Queensland.

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Twice more in the past week I’ve woken with a start after midnight to what sounds like three hard raps on my front door. I lie there, in the knowledge that if there was anyone there, they’ll knock again (or push the doorbell). This happened several times after I moved here in 2013 and I thought it was local kids up to mischief.

Do I have a poltergeist, or is this some subconscious dream that someone wants to come in?

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And the heat goes on. For my interstate and foreign readers, day after day, week after week of over 30degC maxima. It was 40degC yesterday, and a cool day is forecast today, only 32degC. With aircon it’s OK in the house, but it discourages going out.

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I’m having a lot of trouble booting my computer up. It takes ages to get past the Gigabyte motherboard logo, then it displays the RAID dialogue even though I never chose to implement RAID, then it dispays a strange enumeration of just two of the SATA disks, (sometimes in 640×480 text, sometimes in 320×240 CGA!). Then after a long (>10 secs) delay it goes back to the Gigabyte logo, then after an even longer delay (up to 60 secs), it goes on but fails to boot because it won’t remember the boot order. All this can take 2-3 mins.

So I have to try to get into the BIOS to change the boot drive order, but that takes ages of pressing the DEL key, the RAID and two more Gigabyte logo displays before I get there. I find the C crive has moved itself to about number 6 in the boot order. I change it to number 2 and then have to go through all this delay again. Finally, it will usually boot into Windows after that. This happens every time. It will not remember the SATA boot order.

I’ve reset the BIOS to default parameters many times, both in the BIOS and by shorting the motherboard pins, to no avail. I do notice that if I disconnect one or more of the SATA drives, it improves, but it’s not clear cut.

Do I have a faulty motherboard? Or an overloaded power supply? To find out, the only way is to change to a different motherboard or P/S, but that means buying a new one at around $150 and all the work of dismantling and rebuilding. At least half a day’s work, more. Or buy a new power supply on the off chance, much easier to swap, but another $150. Damn.

So I’m being careful to never power the computer down, only putting it into sleep mode overnight. Then Microsoft does its software patch downloads overnight at the beginning of each month, trying to reboot in the process while I’m asleep, and I turn the monitor on in the morning to find it hung up. Bugger!!

This highlights why I’ve never been keen to get into computer servicing, even for friends. Just imagine if I had this problem with someone I didn’t know, telling them I’d have to spend $150 and around three hours of my time at $100 an hour, with no guarantee it will fix it. A client being suspicious that you know what you’re doing, reluctant to agree to spending this big amount when they could buy a brand new computer for the same amount. No thanks. Fixing computers, especially when the client has no backup and a chaotic hard disk with documents all over the place, is hard work.

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