Well now, what have the kids been up to while I was gone...

The plan set is complete. It turns out that it includes not only a set of blueprints, but also a rather thick book of instructions labelled "The DNA Lounge Project." I imagine a lot of this book is boilerplate, but there really were quite a lot of DNA-specific things in it. It was kind of sobering seeing all the tasks laid out in one place like that...

The project is being shopped around to contractors right now, and several of them have been coming in to look around the place in order to get a better idea of the scope of the work.

Our roof is leaking again. Since the landlord replaced it about a year ago, this is supposedly still covered under the warranty, but this is making the contractors suggest that maybe the best way to soundproof the roof is to replace the whole damned thing again. But as far as I'm concerned, we'll only be doing that if that's what costs me less money. I'm not gonna be hearing "well you know what you really ought to do..." any more. Spraying foam on the inside still sounds cheap and effective to me.

The boys have been tearing up the raised wood section of the floor, to expose the concrete slab underneath. The drywall ceiling in the upstairs lounge is gone now too, because the contractors needed to see where the supports and power were. Apparently there's not a whole lot of price difference between patching drywall and just replacing it, if you were going to be doing more than a few patches. So it all comes down.

Barry and Alexis also sorted out the various sinks an refrigerators and things, and made sense of that giant jumble of equipment that was along the left wall. Now there's a much more orderly jumble along the front wall.

We're down two more Trackspots, because I'm a big softie and agreed to sell two more of the ones we got from DV8 to Cat's to replace the two that came tumbling down during the 30+ MPH dust storm at Thunderdome this year. Not a big deal, we still have plenty of extras. I just wish I'd seen them hit the ground!

The video switcher has arrived, and I wired it up to the RF encoders and have successfully gotten a computer to talk to it. It's pretty cool. It was all shiny and black when I took it out of the box, but by the time I had it bolted into a rack and wired up, it looked like it was ten years old, thanks to the patina of grime and plaster dust that immediately coats everything that enters this building. I tell you, I can't have nice things. Anyway, I've got a little more software to write, and we still need to get some more cameras, but once that's done we'll be able to have the webcam automatically rotate among various views.

We've been having regular power failures this weekend: apparently the temporary power distribution setup that our electrician set up while the panels are being reconstructed is overloaded or something. This is a hassle, because the machine I'm using for our firewall doesn't have a BIOS setting that tells it to please turn on and boot up when power is restored. So any time the power goes out long enough for the UPS to fail too, we're off the net until someone goes in and turns that machine back on again. Sigh.

By the way, we're still taking donations of televisions! If you've got a TV you don't want that is capable of displaying a color picture (even a crappy picture) bring it by the club and we'll give it a good home! (Only TVs, not computer monitors.) Smaller TVs would be good, too: I want a wide variety of sizes, and so far, most of the tubes have been roughly the same size.

The club's been quite the hive of activity lately: one day last week, there were twenty or twenty-five people in here looking around: these folks were contractors and their crew, and were checking the place out in preparation to make an offer on the construction job. We got a bid back today from one of the contractors today, and we're waiting for bids from a few others.

It's, uh, a lot. It's higher than we expected when we started, but it's not as high as we feared it might be.

We've rented a storage unit, and today we hauled all of the refrigerators and sinks and lights and other gear away, to make room for the construction crews to work. Yet somehow the place doesn't really look any emptier.

The webcam was a casualty of this: one of the guys loading the truck tripped over a cable, and the camcorder got intimate with the concrete. We've got a spare, but it's pretty crappy. Time to go shopping, I guess...

Earlier last week, our electrician Phil brought in a very, very fine toy of his own design: the Mark 5 Spudzooka! It's a PVC potato gun with a two stage electrical ignition, fueled by Aqua-Net. This monster can put a whole potato through drywall at 60'. The spud won't penetrate 1/2" plywood, but it does make a pretty good dent in it. Now the club has a distinctly tubery smell about it, and there are 4" holes in some of the walls...

Kids, don't try this at home.

I had this notion that I should be able to get video cameras and that they should be cheaper than camcorders since I didn't need the tape mechanism, and that's got to be the most expensive part. Well, I gave up on that notion, because it turns out to not be true (economics is weird.) So, I got a few more camcorders (Sony TR517), and now the webcam no longer looks like it's inside a fishtank (the emergency fallback camera we were using is from the early 80s... kind of amazing it still works, really.) As soon as I get around to stringing some more cable, the webcam will be able to cycle through multiple viewpoints, which will be cool.

Tuesday, the boys tore up the rest of the floor. There is a smooth concrete slab that runs from wall to wall, but on top of about 2/3rds of that was a raised wooden floor. There was a wood frame of 2x4s bolted into the concrete, and then 4'x8' pieces of plywood furiously nailed down to that. It was very hard to disassemble, until Alexis found us some 6' crowbars. The extra leverage helps a lot. After tearing up the wood, next the bolts had to come out. Since they were in concrete, you couldn't just yank them out, not without trashing the floor, anyway. So we cut them off with a grinder, which is kind of like a circular saw but lets you get right down next to the surface. Yay, sparks!

The new floor will consist of a layer of rubbery stuff of some kind, followed by two layers of plywood, staggered and bonded together; followed by a layer of thick waterproof epoxy paint. The plywood layer won't actually be attached to the concrete, except at the walls, which will give it a lot of bounce. Before laying the plywood down, however, we're going to have to make the existing concrete slab be level (it's not quite) by pouring a thin layer of self-levelling blah-blah over it (I forget what it's called.)

Wednesday, our DSL connection (and thus the webcam, and dnalounge.com email) went down at 2PM, and has been down ever since. It's now 21 hours later, and there's no sign of its return. Apparently Covad hates me. This is just ridiculous.

I've been spending my time fighting with computer bullshit as usual. I am in hell. I really need to find myself a sysadmin: some eager young college student who enjoys messing with Linux and PC hardware, because I find it... let's say, somewhat less than rewarding. I like writing software, but the install-and-configure-hardware side of things just drives me batty.

It's tough to find someone to hire to do this stuff, because I don't have a full-time job to offer them, it's more like, every couple of weeks I'll have some new problem to solve. For example, this week's hassle: "here's a CompactFlash card, here's a desktop Linux machine: make the machine able to read this card." So it's probably a few hours every week or two, for someone who knows what they're doing. I've been relying on the mercy of my friends when I get stumped (or just too frustrated) but the people I know who understand this crap have all given up their lives to startups, and don't have time.

Today and yesterday we had a bunch of guys in here digging up some parts of the concrete floor. Most of the floor doesn't need to be touched, but some trenches need to be dug in it to run water and sewage lines to the new bar, and to cap off the pipes that had been running to the old bar. They brought in a lawnmower-sized circular saw to cut through the concrete, then jackhammered it, then hauled the broken concrete away. I think it's safe to say that this process was quite a bit louder than anything that will be going on here when the club is in operation...

The front stairs are also gone. There wasn't anything particularly wrong with them, except that the concrete beneath them needed to be dug up to pour the concrete footing for the I-beam that will support one side of the new dj booth.