Thu, 05 Apr 2007
The internals of my main PC are getting on a bit. My Duron 1200 is way
behind today's dual core chips. It can run most things I throw at it, but is very slow when it comes to things like
converting video files. I've been thinking of building a new PC, but there are savings to be made by upgrading this box
as the drives are more up to date. I've just seen a couple of bundles that seem possible candidates. Both use mATX boards
that would fit my Antec Aria and have on-board graphics that may be adequate for my non-gaming needs:
Both are around UKP200, which seems reasonable for an upgrade. Both chips use about the same power (65W), but
these benchmarks show the Intel chip
being considerably quicker in all fields. The Intel set has half the memory. It looks like another UKP45 to bring it level.
There are question marks over the supplied heatsinks. Would they fit in my case and are they quiet? I'd pay a little
extra for near silence. Intel have some new chips
coming this month, which implies either that I could get that set for less or get something quicker for the same.
I've never been on the cutting edge of PC hardware. I've always bought chips near the low end of the range
for a better price/performance ratio. I've also not bothered overclocking as reliability is more important than
getting a little more speed. If I can find the spare money then I think I will be making the change soon. I'll
probably take the opportunity to do a fresh install of Kubuntu after the next version
If anyone wants to make any recommendations I am open to suggestions.
Wed, 04 Apr 2007
Two Achievements by Others
Jono Bacon, of LugRadio fame, did his bit for
Comic Relief by promising to record an album within
a 24 hour timespan if at least £1000 was pledged. Well that amount was exceeded and he
has done the deed. The results are available for free download from
his music site. It's a mix of acoustic
pop and some thrash metal with a little cello accompaniment. I think he's done a nice
job and raised some money to boot. Download and donate.
A totally different achievement was a new
rail speed record by
our friends the French. Whilst we have been complaining about our trains they have gone and
built something that can travel at nearly half the
speed of sound. I know that real
passenger trains will not be going that fast for a while, but their's still manage
300km/h. If they can get more people to travel around Europe by train rather than plane
then it's a very good thing. I know which I'd prefer, as long as the price premium was not too
Another amazing bit of engineering that is still underway is the
57km rail tunnel under
the Alps. That may also encourage people onto the rails for that route as it cuts the
journey from Zurich to Milan by 90 minutes. The Swiss have been trying for years to cut the number
of trucks travelling through the country.
Sat, 31 Mar 2007
A Good Evening at the Keyboard
I had a productive evening yesterday. I had a reply from the author of the
ZapDVB digital TV recording software. He welcomed my
offer of help in improving the English language text displayed by the software, so I did some
editing of the language file and sent it back to him. He says that a new version is being worked on.
I've made a few recordings with ZapDVB, but they take up a lot of space at around 2GB/hour.
I had thought about converting to DVDs, but as my new DVD player can do DIVX I thought I
could use that instead. As mentioned earlier I
was playing with mencoder to do this. My first attempt produced a file that played on the PC, but
was rejected by the DVD player. I managed to find some
options that worked. Playback on the
TV is a bit blocky, but may be acceptable. It's mostly going to be stuff for the kids and they are
not as picky as me about picture quality.
I've been having some thoughts about using some sort of Jabber bot to do some remote administration
tasks, e.g. notifying me of comments on this site. I've had a look before to find an example that I
could use as a basis. My latest find was gozerbot. It's
written in Python and already has a comprehensive set of plug-ins. With a little help from their IRC channel
I got it working on my PC. I need to investigate further into how to write my own plug-ins.
It's amazing what you can achieve if you don't spend all evening reading
Fri, 30 Mar 2007
Mmm, Chocolate Jesus
American Catholics are up in arms
about a NYC gallery proposing to display a chocolate model of Jesus on the cross over Easter.
The Catholic League has a
about it. I wonder if they get as angry about all the tacky Jesus and Mary plastic sculptures and
pictures you see so much of in Catholic countries.
We will be celebrating Easter with some tasty pagan rebirth symbols.
Comments seem to be working and some are getting blocked by the filter. With help from my
friendly server admin I now have the ability to remove unwanted comments.
Wed, 28 Mar 2007
My comments are not working at the moment. I am trying to get the comment spam plug-ins working, but something
is wrong. It's making use of the Akismet service, but gets a time-out when it tries to
verify my key.
For reference, here are the steps I have taken so far to make comments work:
- Registered at Wordpress to get an API key and included that in my config.py
- Copied comments.js to my web directory. Although the comments said it could be in with the plugins that didn't work
- Updated my story template to include the comment count
- Set permissions to allow apache to write to the comments directory
I'm making enquiries on the mailing list and may also try the IRC channel.
Firefox History Tip
These days I keep very few bookmarks in Firefox. There are a few there for
sites I visit every day. The rest are in del.icio.us so I can access them
wherever I am. Even for sites I do have in bookmarks I quite often access them by just pressing F6 and start
typing the URL. One problem with this is that my history has quite a few URLs that I have mistyped. I used to
think you could only get rid of them by clearing the whole history, but I recently read that pressing
Shift-Del would clear one. Not only that, but it works on web forms too for text that Firefox remembers for
I've had some issues with my right hand due to using the mouse so much, so I prefer to use the keyboard
when I can. Lots more shortcuts for Firefox here.
I should try and learn a few more, taking account of the differences on Windows and Linux.
If I am using the mouse I like to use
mouse gestures as this reduces the number
of clicks required. There's a few gestures I use, but again I ought to learn some more.
The general problem with all these shortcuts is that you don't always realise that they are there unless you
read the documentation, and who does that? Another recent revelation was KDE's
Katapult. I now use that a lot for launching
Mon, 26 Mar 2007
The new comments system has already attracted a few
posts from friends. Some have even been kind enough to test my anti-spam measures with some witty
texts. Unfortunately they do not seem to be blocked, so maybe I need more set-up. This has also
revealed a small problem. I don't have rights to delete comments as they are written to files
whose owner is apache. It would seem that what I need is a password-protected web page that allows
me to select comments for deletion as that should have the same rights. I shall look into how
that could work. Pyblosxom doesn't really have any
web interface for controlling it. You have to make use of SSH and FTP to update files. I could also
do with something to allow me to monitor comments as they come in. There is email notification that
I ought to try.
I gained a new toy today. It's an ancient (1999?) Toshiba T8100 laptop with a screaming PIII/600
CPU and a massive 128MB of memory. Hey, it was free. I have plans to use it as a media player on my
network for streaming radio and possibly video. It's got Windows 2000 on it that I may keep for now
as it would do for my Windows-only jobs of programming the home automation and the multi-remote.
I'll still be trying out an Ubuntu live CD on it to see how it
handles it. I suspect that something lighter, like Xubuntu
may be more suited.
Super Service, with Reservations
My Logitech Harmony 655
multi-remote is a great gadget. It allows us to get away with using a single remote most of the time. To set it up
you have to log into their web site and configure everything, then the site downloads a file which is transferred
via USB to the device using an application installed on the PC. Unfortunately this application is not available
for Linux so I have to make use of a Windows machine.
I was trying to set it up for my new DVD player yesterday when I found that I couldn't get into the screen
that lets me re-program the buttons. I sent them a bug report. Later that afternoon I had a reply to say it
was fixed. This was on a Sunday! They had fixed it, but something else had gone awry and I had lost some
other settings somehow. I've reported that too. I also inquired about whether there will ever be a Linux
version of the software.
The most serious problem I have had with this device is that the up/down buttons for changing volume and channel
have become very intermittent. This would seem to be a hardware issue that I may be able to resolve by opening it
up, but for now I have just added those functions to the programmable buttons alongside the screen.
Sat, 24 Mar 2007
As of now this site can accept comments. I needed a little help from Ryan
on the Pyblosxom mailing list, then I sorted the rest by checking the log files. I've installed some
anti-comment spam measures. We will see how effective those are.
Fri, 23 Mar 2007
PS3 Out-Folds the Rest
<< 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
I should have checked the stats before
how the PS3 would do on F@H. 15,000 PS3s are managing more
TeraFLOPS than around 200,000 PCs of various types. Impressive. We shall see if the enthusiasm lasts.
There's discussion in various places about how energy efficient the PS3 is compared to some PC
platforms and it seems it's not as good as far as gaining F@H points. There are people out there
who have large numbers of dedicates machines running this sort of project. I just saw an example of
one whose electricity bill is nearly triple mine. I can't afford that and would find it hard to
justify unless I knew the electricity was from a renewable source. Maybe when I build my own
wind farm I'll set up some PCs to use the excess power. Meanwhile, my puny box will be turned off
 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 >>