Random Rumblings

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:55 pm

I’ve got a few things bouncing around in the old coconut that I probably ought to get out before they bust a hole….

First, I thought I’d provide a little feedback about my new Shuttle SG31G2 Barebones I put together to house the remains of my server environment. After I moved my blog over to the Cube I had lying around, I still had some server functions that I needed to run on a separate computer, preferably a PC so I wouldn’t have to find and configure new software to fulfill existing functions. Of course, I still had my old blog server sitting here, but it was a little ridiculous to run a spam filter, a camera server and an Unreal Tournament server off of such a ridiculously overpowered rig. In addition to being a waste of a killer motherboard (ASUS P5N32-E SLI), the thing took a lot of power and threw off a lot of BTUs, not to mention being a bit on the noisy side given the five fans needed to keep it cool. So I decided to move the CPU, RAM and drives over to a Small Form Factor PC case, and after a little research chose the Shuttle.

Comparison of Shuttle and Power Mac G4 Cube

Comparison of Shuttle and Power Mac G4 Cube

The SG31G2 is a perfectly serviceable unit for low-to-medium-demand tasks. it takes LGA775 CPUs like the Core2 Duo and Core2 Quad, can handle up to 4 GB (2 x 2GB sticks) of RAM, includes an Intel GMA 3100 graphics chip and two independent video outs (one VGA and one DVI), gigabit NIC, one PCIE x16 and one regular PCI slot, 6 USB 2 ports, 2 FireWire 400 ports, 7.1 audio, PS/2 ports, ATA, SATA2, room for up to 2 hard drives and one optical drive….cripes, what doesn’t it have? You will never find a more complete meal deal in such a small package. But there are caveats. While the processor cooling system (they call it Integrated Cooling Engine 2, or ICE 2; kewwwwwl) is quite reasonable at maintaining the internal temperature with a minimum of noise, the power supply is another story. It’s a teeny-weeny special-purpose PSU with a 40mm fan built in for cooling, half the diameter of a standard ATX power supply’s fan. As a result, it is a bit loud. Loud isn’t even the word, really; it’s not noticeably louder than a standard PSU’s exhaust fan. What it is is whinier; a sort of sibilant “fffffhhhhhhhhhuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh” noise—complete with a complimentary harmonic—that will drive some people insane. I would never want to use this thing as, say, a Home Theater PC, or anywhere else that doesn’t already have a decent noise floor. On the other hand, there is an aftermarket PSU called the “Silent-X” that is supposed to do a whole helluva lot to quiet the thing down. I may or may not elect to install one at some point, but in this office of mine the extra noise is hardly a serious bother. (All in all, the Shuttle’s still quieter than the old server. Keeps the office a lot cooler as well.) I don’t think I’d ever want to dump in a high-octane graphics card and use it for gaming or anything—the extra heat from a hardcore video card would probably kick the fans into high gear, which I imagine would make the thing sound like an HO-scale leaf blower. But for anyone needing a super-compact PC, the SG31G2 offers a lot of bang for the buck.

On to other stuff.

If you happen to be in Renton (practically in Maple Valley, really) and are dying for some ass-kicking barbecue, might I recommend Bill’s Bodacious Barbecue, an absolutely fabulous Mom-N-Pop joint built into what appears to be a defunct Seven Eleven. It’s out of the way—not out in the sticks, but set like a jewel in a vast and soul-sucking expanse of tract houses and strip malls—but more than worth the trip if you are in downtown Renton with 90 minutes to kill, a good sense of direction and a mad case of the pig-munchies. We stopped in there for some take-out on Saturday because we were jonesing for barbecue. Margaret suggested the Cave Man Kitchen, but, while Cave Man is good, it is not in my opinion an actual barbecue joint. Any place that pretty much only offers sandwiches is not barbecue: no ribs, no thanks. I’m perfectly happy to stop in at the Cave Man for lunch after business in the Kent industrial corridor or browsing through Jerry’s Rock and Gem, but if my mind’s set on by-god barbie, it needs to be reeking of smoke and falling off the bone.

‘Round these parts the gold standard to which all other barbecue is to be compared is Dixie’s in the Bellvue area, and I’d have to say that this place compares favorably. Their selection is probably not as vast, but they have a good variety of meats, sides, and specials, and everything we had was marvelous. We just happened to seek them out on Smoked Prime Rib night, so we picked up a couple of slabs of that, a slab of pork ribs, slaw, baked beans and potato salad—a haul we are still finishing off. The smell was driving me batshit all the way home; next time we eat in.

Lemmetellyou, if you’ve never eaten prime rib slow-smoked over an alder wood fire (alder’s a lot like mesquite only with a sweeter, slightly less acerbic undertone to it), you have not repeat not eaten prime rib. I know, I know. I thought I had eaten it too. I had not. This was incredibly juicy, with a delightful smokiness that did not overwhelm the signature prime-rib flavor. The pork ribs were also just stupendous: ranging from tender-juicy to charred and chewy, served with sauce on the side rather than slathered all over everything. The sauce is a zingy sweet/sour affair, with a base that includes lots of finely diced onions, (cider?) vinegar, and enough cayenne to make the tip of your tongue twitch but not fall off and scurry around the dining room. Some folks are not going to like the sauce. I’ve read a few complaints that it is too Asian in affect, too “sweet and sour pork”-y. I don’t agree; I think it’s dandy, and I really like being able to add or omit it as I please.

The sides were all homemade and high quality and we hardly touched the full repertoire. In addition to beans, slaw and potad salad they offered red beans and rice, collard greens, cornbread and a selection of homemade desserts such as sweet potato and pecan pies. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of stuff—didn’t even get to the baby back ribs or the chicken—but we’ll be going back, don’t you worry. Bill’s Bodacious Barbecue gets four enthusiastic thumbs up from the South End Detachment. Go there, eat lots, go home sticky. 😉

What else, what else….

I’m not really paying a lot of attention to the current political scab everyone just can’t seem to keep from picking, namely the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain’s veep. It’s such a non-starter for me. The poor lady is so obviously meant to be McCain’s political arm candy it’s ridiculous. She’s supposed to revitalize the ticket and draw in the fence-sitters with her gung-ho attitude, her hardcore right-wing beliefs….and her genitalia. Great; if those are the main qualifications, why not pick Phyllis Schlafly? She, at least, doesn’t have a new baby at home to distract her.

Honestly now: with dozens of other, more experienced, more qualified, more tested potential female running mates at his disposal, the people running the machinery behind the man decide on the VPilf instead? I can’t really fathom the logic behind it, but then again I can’t really fathom Pro Life death penalty advocates either, so it’s obviously a problem with me.

Just about the only possibly noteworthy thing that has come to my mind about the Palin nomination is the question of whether or not anyone has managed to uncover her blood and tissue type and cross-match it to McCain’s. It is entirely within the realm of conceivability that Palin is on the ticket for the sole purpose of acting as a live organ bank for ol’ President Methuselah. Talk about being one heartbeat away from the Presidency….

And lastly, I’d like to let folks know that the list of cheering stations for the Seattle Breast Cancer 3-Day is now available online. I’m not 100% sure which station I will be manning, but it will definitely be on Saturday the 13th. Friday I have to work, and Sunday I’ll be at the closing ceremonies to pitch my wife into a wheelbarrow and truck her on home to the hot tub.

Whatever day or time might work for you, if you can manage it, please feel free to come out and show your support for all the walkers, and Margaret in particular. She’ll be the one wearing this shirt:

Many thanks to Bill Saltzstein for permission to use his Blue Footed Booby picture, and to jaunthie for both the initial idea and for making the photo request on our behalf.

2 Responses to “Random Rumblings”

  1. Dalek Says:

    Bill laughed heartily at the prototype and said it definitely got his Monday off to a great start. He is curious to know about how you’re getting it printed: “Do you know if she used an inkjet transfer or had someone screen print this (I’d guess the former). I’m looking for a good shirt printing company to do a run of about 20 for one I’m doing.” Inquiring minds want to know!

    Oh, and Margaret still has to provide at least one picture of her actually wearing the shirt. 😀

  2. Uncle Andrew Says:

    I just had it done on a transfer down at Shirtz to Go at Southcenter. They do pretty good quality work, despite having to go to the mall (shudder), but they’re pricey. Just about the only place to get a single shirt printed. For bulk orders, there are a bunch of 6-color screen printers in the greater Puget Sound that will get damn-near-CMYK quality. I especially like JJ Graphics in Kirkland. I’ve also worked with a digital-to-fabric place in Vermont called Amalgamated Culture Works.

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