01/07/2001

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HD; disk I/O tweaking

There was cause for celebration last night. And celebration means dinner at Courtesy Diner, where the specialty is the heart attack on a plate. That pretty much means anything but the pancakes, but the favored selection is usually some combination of chili, eggs and hash browns–known here in St. Louis at least as a slinger.

So Gatermann and I had our slingers as we listened to the denizens’ weird selections on the jukebox, then we headed out to a world-famous St. Louis landmark–Ted Drewes’ Frozen Custard. We were surprised to find it wasn’t busy, because it was the first warm Saturday we’ve had in weeks. It was actually over 30 degrees and the snow was melting, but the wimps stayed home. Going to Ted Drewes’ and not having to wait in line for 20 minutes is a rarity. I’ll have to remember that January is the time to go there. In August, that place is lined up well out into the street. Incidentally, there’s a Baskin-Robbins right next door that makes a killing off people who decide fast service and air conditioning sound a whole lot better than waiting forever in line in the world-infamous St. Louis heat and humidity.

As for why Ted Drewes’ is any better than any other frozen custard in the world, I haven’t figured that out. I think it’s nostalgia as much as anything. It’s just about the last remaining landmark in St. Louis on what used to be U.S. 66, a road so famous that there used to be a TV show about it. I know it’s even known in Europe, because Depeche Mode recorded a heavily synthesized version of that show’s theme song in the late 1980s.

Well, Route 66, now known as Missouri 366–you can tell the difference between a city slicker and a countian by what they call 366, because it’s Chippewa in the city, but Watson in the suburbs–pretty much looks like any other metropolitan drag these days. Its distinctive features are mostly gone.

They tore down the 66 Park-In Theatre (where many a St. Louisan was conceived) and the Coral Courts motel (where Bonnie and Clyde hid out, and also where many a St. Louisan was conceived) back in 1993, so what’s left? A bunch of strip malls, as well as real malls infested with 14-year-olds trying to look 25. Well, that and a run-down custard stand with hand-lettered plackards announcing the day’s specials. It’s easy to see what has the most charm.

So we got our custard and entertained ourselves by watching 16-year-olds driving in what’s left of the snow. One of them peeled out in the parking lot and just about nailed a dumpster with his mom’s minivan.

Yes, a good St. Louis celebration.

Oh yeah, I forgot to say what the cause was.

I made it over to Gatermann’s around 5 or so. I’d suggested over the phone that he try disabling the L2 cache on Tim Coleman’s PC and see what happens. Well, when I got there, Tim’s computer was sitting there at a command prompt–further than it had been in a long time. He popped in a Windows Me CD, and it made it through the installation. Parts of it were fast, but the final stage was painfully slow. We didn’t complain though–it was working. We got it installed and Tom did some quick-and-dirty optimization (I taught him everything I know). Then I took the helm. I re-enabled the L2 cache, and nothing. It started booting, but at the point where the floppy drive should seek, it kicked into 132-column text mode and gave me a flashing cursor in the upper left. I powered down, powered back up, entered the BIOS, turned off the L2 cache again (no original Celeron jokes please), and the old Cyrix fired right up. Ironically, the CPU is one of the few parts we haven’t blown yet on this thing.

So we ran through it, concluded that the speed is acceptable for what Tim uses it for, and called him up with the good news. I probably ought to give the board a thorough examination under magnification to make sure there’s nothing physically wrong with it and maybe try another CPU in it, but since I was lacking both a CPU and magnification at the moment and the system was working, that would wait.

So it was off to dinner, without Tim because he’s remodeling his kitchen. We would have offered to help, but Tim doesn’t trust either one of us with power tools. So we didn’t.

I’d say we thought of Tim as we watched the teenagers make fools of themselves in the parking lot, but he’d probably be offended. Besides, I’d be lying.

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HD; disk I/O tweaking

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