Who ordered the scrambled brains?

"Creamy. Indulgent. Chewy."

Problem solving in true form

OK, long story short since I have a Spanish midterm in about an hour. Set my alarm for 9:30am last night. This morning I snoozed it till 9:55am, then I reset it for 10:30am. At 10:30am, I just turned it off entirely. I was so drowsy I could not wake up. I’d gone to sleep at 2:30am after watching a couple episodes of Scrubs and enjoying a delicious Rialto Special Lager from Trader Joe’s. Could one beer have really put me out that much? Goodness.

Anyway, so when I finally got up I decided I’d get my act together and figure out a better way to wake myself up. First I contemplated using my mp3 player’s alarm function, which allows me to set a time for it to automatically wake up and start playing. If I connect the audio output to my computer speakers, I’ll be set, right? Wrong, because the stupid feature doesn’t work when the device’s battery is being charged by a wall power source. And since of course I charge it at night, I can’t use that feature.

Second thought was to use my desktop computer to play mp3’s at a specified time. It runs Windows XP, so I’d use the Task Scheduler to do it. But my desktop is loud and it disrupts my sleep (absolute silence is a must), so I’d have to figure out how to get it to automatically turn itself on in time for the task to run. First I thought I’d use the Wake-On-LAN feature, which allows the computer to wake itself up if it receives a special signal from the network. Perfect, since my Linux server is always on, I’ll just add a cron job (scheduled task) to send the signal every morning. But no dice, since at long last I determined my cheap-o motherboard doesn’t have the Wake-On-LAN header to make the auxiliary connection with network interface card. Poo! I could just use the BIOS wake-up feature, but that is a huge pain to change, which would be a hinderance since I usually want to wake up at different times every day.

So I sought a better alternative. And then I realized I could just use the Linux server itself as the alarm clock computer. But, it didn’t have an audio card. So I decided I’d have to take it down and install the card, recompile the kernel and configure it blah blah blah and then reboot and take with it my 120 day record of uninterrupted uptime. Then I remembered I had an old USB audio device (output only). I crossed my fingers and built the kernel modules for it (ALSA style), and then plugged it in. With fingers still crossed, I attempted to load the modules… Success! To my surprise (and suspicion) I was able to use newly built modules for USB hardware without having to reboot! (Note 1: The success is slightly tainted since I unnecessarily took the website offline for a couple hours. Note 2: During this charade I had to decide if I wanted to upgrade to the latest kernel sources. I was up for the challenge until Gentoo’s portage warned me that I’d have to configure and use udev since /dev support is gone in new sources. As I researched udev I came across this post about Gentoo’s hackish security, which strongly convinced me that in the near future I should rebuild my server in a less bleeding-edge distribution. Front runners are Fedora and SUSE/Novell at the moment.)

So it took about five hours of leisurely research and experimentation while I could have been working, but now I’m well on my way to waking up to beautiful music everyday (see below) at a respectable time, Rialto Special Lager or not. That’s problem solving, in true Mike McGranahan form.

Just like a prayer, your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery
Just like a dream, you are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice your voice can take me there

Not “like a dream” anymore, no, not “like a dream” at all in fact. For I will not be dreaming when I hear your voice henceforth. From now on, you are indeed “what you seem”. Yes, “what you seem,” whatever that may be, indeed.

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Commenting options at bottom.
Natalie said:

Are you joking????

What a total copycat this guy is everyone! He only did this because I bought a fancy one of these:


Yep, I have a “Dream Machine” and from what is sounds like, Mike has a “Dream Monster”. I get to pop in any cd at night and choose which track number I want to wake up to. No kernel modules required.

The hilarious part is the fact that I was peacefully waking up to Garbage’s “Queer” a few mornings ago and Mike crawled out from beneath the covers like a troll coming out from under his bridge for the first time and said, “ARE YOU GOING TO DO THIS EVERY MORNING?”.

Yeah, I only have one word for this: wow. Wait, make that four words: wow, what a copycat.

Mike McG said:

History lesson for ya’ll. This one takes us back to 1992, Christmas. It was a particularly dark and stormy one, the kind that you never forget no matter how much booze or therapy you go through. It was terrible, but there was one glimmer of light, one pinpoint, of the faintest, twinkling of a mere possibility of hope. The parents of Mike McGranahan bought him a Sony ICF-CS650. Better known as, a Dream Machine! WHO’S THE COPYCAT NOW?! AND A MERE 13 YEARS LATE.

See it here! Now! http://search.ebay.com/icf-cs650_W0QQfrppZ50QQfsopZ1QQmaxrecordsreturnedZ300

Sure, I could only find one reference to it on the Internet. Sure that one reference was from Canada. Sure that one reference was to an auction of someone (Canadian, no less) that was trying to get rid of it. Laugh all you want. But that thing still works, with it’s clunky-by-today’s-standards cassette-playing ability. So why do I go through the trouble of kernel modules et al? BECAUSE I NEED MORE POWER! While the rest of the world may be satisfied waking up the music that can be described as queer or garbage, I prefer to wake up to mp3’s! Madonna mp3’s!

Natalie said:

OK folks…let us review these two comments:

My post: The link works and it brings us to the wonderous image of my “Dream Machine”. Oh, and I failed to mention, my “Dream Machine” is the loveliest of pinks. Just an added bonus.

Mike’s post: The link takes us to an ebay auction for ” “. Yeah. The link takes you to an ebay auction for NOTHING. Absolutely NOTHING. Nothin. Nuttin. Nothing’s there.

OK, now let us summarize:

My link shows an actual piece of technology and Mike’s link show’s a big black void of nothingness and never has been. Hmmmmm, very interesting. Interesting indeed. It’s starting to make me think…if he lied about the 80’s time telling robot…….does this supposed “POWER”-filled, mp3 playing USB hardware even exist!?! Quite the imagination Dragonmaster. Now go finish your Filet-o Fish.

Mike McG said:

First, I’m allergic to fish!! Who’s stupid now?!

Second, wrong link. Sorry! I’m only human, your highness. http://cgi.ebay.ca/SONY-DREAM-MACHINE-CASSETTE-PLAYER-ICF-CS650-NIB_W0QQitemZ5847045449QQcategoryZ50595QQcmdZViewItem

(Comments won't nest below this level)
Mike McG said:


My Dream Machine is seeing extended use in the bathroom, where it plays mp3’s through the tape adapter and 25′ unsightly extension cord snaking through my apartment. Boom!

Also, while you peons are fumbling around with your compact disc “technology” (if you can still call it that), I have unbridled access to my entire library of mp3s. That’s some 29GB of music. Some 350 albums. Some 300 hours straight of continus audio. That’s right. Have fun waking up to that one track, if that’s even enough to wake up an infidel such as yourself. I on the other hand can sleep with security, comfort and peace of mind knowing that my alarm clock will attempt to wake me up with 14 days of new and unrepeated audio. It feels good to be powerful.

Natalie said:


I think this guy beat both of us in the “cool alarm clock” competition:


Mike McG said:


That’s one sweet beauty of a thang. Reckon’ it would be perfect with one of these gizmos:


(see number 3)

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Tom said:

Nice solution to the long standing problems of the alarm clock. Have you considered submitting some of your creations to the Rube Goldberg web site?

Mike McG said:

Man I love those drawings. I remember looking at them in the cartoon book you had when Shaun and I were growing up. Ever since then, I’ve clung tenaciously to the single, irrepressible goal of building my own Rube-Goldberg device! Mwahahaha! I’m almost there! All I need is a boot, a chicken, an elbow joint pipe, 25 one-pound iron balls, 6 feet of rope, 10 cubic feet of helium, and a dragon’s toenail.

marcus said:

all of this to wake up? waking up is so overrated!

Mike McG said:

I know. What am I thinking?


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