Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Tue, 26 Jul 2005

Testing

Just testing a post via the web. Please ignore
[08:40] | [/Site News] | Comments | G

Mon, 25 Jul 2005

Ghosts in the Guestbook

In an effort to provide some method for people to give feedback on my site I added a guestbook using Ultraguest. There hasn't been much there so far until the last week or so when I've acquired several entries. I suspect that they may be a form of spam, but the service seems to block any links to whatever Viaga/gambling/porn sites they are trying to publicise. I did see one URL there, but it was not functioning as a link and I deleted it.

I ought to have another go at installing the Pyblosxom comments system as well as upgrading to a more recent version. I think I failed last time due to complications with Apache.

At home I am making an effort to exorcise the last Windows PC. There's an old machine running Windows 98 that the kids use for various web games and to play a couple of old educational games we bought. I was curious to see if Wine could emulate enough of Windows to get them working. I've tried one of them and it comes up with lots of errors about not having something to do with music and Google has not found me an answer yet. I was quite impressed that I can now run Internet Explorer, Outlook Express and Windows Media Player on Linux now. I don't really need them, although the company website has a webmail system that doesn't work as nicely on Firefox.

I had a small victory when I tried my Canon i455 inkjet with Ubuntu. There is no specific driver for it, but the BJC7000 one works quite well. Better than I had it working on Knoppix anyway.

We saw Madagascar at the weekend with the kids. It's a fairly typical Dreamworks animation in the style of Shrek. Technically it's excellent, but I prefer the sublety of Pixar films. I put a brief 'review' on Multiply.

[08:59] | [/Site News] | Comments | G

Wed, 20 Jul 2005

Another freebie from Skype

Get your free minutes whilst you can.
[11:57] | [/Internet] | Comments | G

Mon, 18 Jul 2005

Save the Planet with AMD

My first PC was a 350MHz Pentium II. When I felt the need for more speed I went for the AMD Duron 650 as it seemed to offer the best price/performance on my budget. That was later upgraded to a Duron 1200 that remains my fastest home CPU. Some people still prefer Intel over AMD due to AMDs issues in the past with compatability and lack of performance, but they have come a long way and now seem to be neck and neck with Intel. I aspire to one of their 64 bit chips. Dual-core would be even nicer and would handle my prospective video processing with ease. It will have to wait until I get budget approval.

Modern high-end PCs use a lot of power, so the energy efficiency may be important to those who leave their PC on all day. Tom's Hardware have done some testing on this and it seems that the AMD PCs are much more efficient that the Intel ones. Under full load this can be around 150W as opposed to 250W. Over a year that amounts to a lot of money.

Of course, if you really want to save energy then go for something like the Mini-ITX that will draw a fraction of that power, but is probably not aimed at the power user. I would go for one of these as a 24/7 media PC or file server.

[08:56] | [/Computer] | Comments | G

Sat, 16 Jul 2005

End of an era

I've just finished watching the extended version of Return of the King. Due to not making the time to watch my DVDs it's taken me a while to getting around to watching it and, even then, I've watched it in three sessions. The Lord of the Rings films have made a big impression on me. I've read the book a couple of times, but don't remember all the details. I have noticed some of the deviation in the films, but it's mostly not suffered too much for it. I think they are some of the best crafted films ever made. The attention to detail is obsessive. I've watched about half of the extras and these show how much effort went into it all.

Maybe one day I will watch them with the various commentaries. That would absorb several days of my life. That may have to wait until I retire. Meanwhile I expect I will watch them again with the kids when I feel they are old enough, but may do the books first.

[22:32] | [/Entertainment] | Comments | G

Thu, 14 Jul 2005

Watching the news as it happens

From the high vantage point of our office in Wembley we can see a large section of London including the new stadium. Today someone noticed that a building over that way was on fire. Apparently it's a CD/DVD plant. Large clouds of probably toxic smoke blowing away from us. More details at BBC News.
[15:12] | [/News] | Comments | G

Mon, 11 Jul 2005

Free Skype minutes today

Skype are offering free credit on their SkypeOut service today. It's only a few minutes worth, but as I didn't have any before it's useful for me to test it. There are supposed to be some other offer days this month, but I don't know when. I don't have that much personal need for international calls generally, but I use Skype to talk to some family and at work.
[13:35] | [/Internet] | Comments | G

Sat, 09 Jul 2005

Whoosh!

Many months after I first heard that ntl would be revising their broardband tiers to give 2Mb for the price I was paying for 700kb, it looks looks like I have been upgraded. I had considered calling them to get it done sooner, but I didn't have that desperate a need for the extra speed. I just download 100MB of updates for Ubuntu and noticed that it was doing over 240KB/s.

My first experience of being on-line was with a Teletype (an ancient device that was more mechanical than electronic and just printed everything on a roll of paper) and an acoustic coupler (a bit like a modem except that you put the telephone handset into a pair of rubber cups and the data was sent as audible noise). That probably managed a few bytes per second at best. Later I owned various modems starting at 14.4kb and working up to the heady heights of 56kb. So now I'm getting over 30 times that speed. The upload speed is a fraction of the download. So it's still going to take a while to send large emails. I wonder if this is just a tactic to stop people sharing large files.

[21:07] | [/Internet] | Comments | G

Thu, 07 Jul 2005

A Terrible Day

I was working at home today when I heard that there had been explosions on the London Underground. Initial reports said this was due to a power surge, but then I heard that a bus had blown up and it became obvious that something sinister was going on.

I'm fortunate in that I'm fairly sure that nobody I know was hurt today, but my sympathy goes out to those who have lost someone and to those who will bear the mental and physical effects for the rest of their lives. It often seems with a disaster that you hear plenty about the dead, but less about the survivors.

I hope this doesn't result in knee-jerk reactions like the USA did back in 2001. If we all have to change how we live then the terrorists have won. See Bruce Schneier's comments for a reasoned look at how terrorism should be handled. London is riddled with CCTV cameras, but that didn't stop this happening. Would ID cards have made any difference?

[21:06] | [/News] | Comments | G

Tue, 05 Jul 2005

Imported Video into Linux

One of my projects I have to do some time is to get all the video we have on tapes from the camera onto DVD. I aim to do some basic editing so make it watchable.

Kino is a simple DV capture and editing suite. All I had to do was make the Firewire devices accessable and it worked. Now I have to work out how to get it into a suitable form for writing to DVD. There seem to be tools around that let you do menus and other fancy things.

[21:44] | [/Computer] | Comments | G

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