Monday, June 30
My Vista box bluescreens repeatably when I try to play a DVD Shrink-shrunk, Daemon Tools-mounted ISO using Windows Media Player.
Here are the builds for the workstations I mentioned below. Prices are US, from Newegg. I did the Australian pricing at Techbuy - a lot more expensive for the memory, but quite good otherwise.
The Opteron config is more expensive - and slower - but includes 16GB of memory instead of the 12GB on the Xeon.
Xeon Build $2304
Asus 7ZS motherboard $499
2 x Xeon E5410 (quad-core 2.33GHz) $550
3 x A-Data 4GB FB-DIMM kit $420
Lian-Li V1010A case $270
Corsair 750W power supply $130
2 x Seagate 750GB SATA drive $240
Sapphire 4850 512MB video card $195
Xeon Build w/24GB $3264
Substitute 6 x Kingston 4GB FB-DIMM $1380
Xeon Build w/32GB $3085
Substitute Tyan S5397AG2NRF motherboard $440
Substitute 8 x A-Data 4GB FB-DIMM kit $1120
Substitute Corsair 1000W power supply $270
Opteron Build $2322
Asus KFN5-D SLI motherboard $299
2 x Opteron 2352 (quad-core 2.1GHz) $628
4 x Kingston 4GB ECC Registered DDR2 kits $560
Lian-Li V1010A case $270
Corsair 750W power supply $130
2 x Seagate 750GB SATA drive $240
Sapphire 4850 512MB video card $195
On a whim, I just priced a dual-quad-Opteron workstation with 16GB of memory.
Scary thing is, I can afford it.
Whether it's a remotely sane thing to buy is another matter entirely.
Hmm. Same store has the Asus Z7S and 4GB FB-DIMMs at a (relatively) reasonable price, which would give me 24GB of memory. But I don't know if that board would fit in my case.
Sunday, June 29
Okay, so they screwed up the new Sim City.
And now Diablo III
All we need is another outing for Railroad Tycoon and a new X-Com, and you won't hear from me until 2010...
Oh, almost forgot! While I'm reliving the 90's, there's a new Slayers series coming next week. With the original writer, director, designer, and cast all on board too. That should help me deal with the gap between the end of season 4 of Doctor Who and the start of season 5 of House...
Saturday, June 28
PHP. Script kiddies. Any combination thereof.
Perl. Perl DBI. Perl DBI apps that merrily eat 2.8GB of memory per frigging instance.
Friday, June 27
I got some good news today - I finally found a source of stock photos that I can use to create a standard theme library for mee.nu. The existing 20 themes (and the 20 new ones coming in 1.2) used the excellent and very generous PD Photo, but that's just one photographer (albeit a good one) and a couple of thousand photos; this is a couple of thousand photographers and a couple of million photos.
That doesn't mean a couple of million themes, though, since the photos cost a couple of bucks apiece. But a couple of hundred, yes, I can do that.
Oh yes, since they were so nice to us, I'll give them a free plug: BigStockPhoto.
Monday, June 23
Today I implemented 1120 API calls.
Well, okay, I have a bit of mucking about to do with the template generator, but still, not bad for a day's work, eh?
Sunday, June 22
I got an error notification from Minx (Minx emails me whenever there's an error) saying that the maximum number of open files had been exceeded. I logged in and poked around a bit and bumped up the allowed number of open files.
Then I did a bit of testing, and Minx wasn't its usual sprightly self, even though the system was mostly idle, so I decided to restart it.
It had been running continuously since February 24.
And yes, there have been code updates since February 24. Minx allows for code updates while it's running live.
What that means is not only can the system run, non-stop, for four months, even through code updates, but that none of my updates broke anything.
Also, because there are multiple background processes (each multi-threaded) and a front-end load balancer, I can do a staged restart such that the system is up even when it's being restarted.
Now back to hacking on 1.2...
This is the Samsung T240, a 24" 1920x1200 LCD monitor.
Or it could be the T260, a 25.5" model, or the T220, a 22" 1680x1050 model, or the T190, a 19" 1440x900 model, or the T200HD or T220HD, 20" and 22" 1680x1050 models with dual HDMI, built-in speakers, and digital and analog tuners. Samsung uses the same identical picture for all of them.
And this is the LN32A650, a 32" 1920x1080 television with four HDMI inputs* (plus VGA, 2 component inputs, S-Video and composite).
Or, likewise, the 22" or 40" models. They use a different photo for the 46" and 52", and yet another photo for the 19".
I'll take one of each, thanks.**
The TV's are already in stores in Australia, and the 32" model is about the same price as my 27" 720p from two years ago, and much much nicer.
The monitors haven't shown up here yet, unfortunately, and it's more the monitor than the TV that I'm after. Newegg are showing the T220 at $319, the T220HD at $399, and the T260 at $549. That's a bit pricey for the 22" models, but much inline with previous models for the 26".
There's currently a $100 rebate offer on the larger Samsung monitors here, and it looks like they're clearing stock to make way for these new models. As soon as they arrive, I'm going to pounce.
Oh, and here's a shiny brochure for the monitors, and one for the TV's.
(One little thing I noticed is that the specs say that if you want to connect a computer to one of these TV's via HDMI, you have to use HDMI input #2. This seemed unusually restrictive, so I poked around to see if I could find out why. There's a real reason: Only HDMI input #2 provides separate analog audio inputs. If your computer supports proper HDMI with sound, or you don't care about sound, you can use any of the inputs. The TV also has digital audio out, so it can be used to switch the four different digital sources to your speaker system. It also has ethernet and USB...)
Update: And this is the HT-X715 Home Theatre system:
I have to laugh, because it's so designer-run-amok, but it does look good, and it does go together perfectly with the new TV's and monitors. So I'll have one of those too, please.
Update: The one disappointing thing was that there while there is a T200HD and a T220HD, there's no T240HD. So I can either have 1680x1050, speakers, and dual HDMI, or 1920x1200 with no extras.
I wondered why there was no T240HD; it seemed a natural product, since it can do native 1080P with no scaling. Then I decided to Google it.
Yes Virginia, there is a T240HD. On Samsung's Austrian website - but also in dozens of American online stores. Samsung, you goofs. There's also a T260HD, which would probably suffice as a TV as well as a monitor. (UK site this time, not nearly as widely available online.)
* My current TV isn't bad, but has a grand total of zero HDMI inputs. And it's "only" 720p, or more precisely, that weird resolution of 1366x768 which is popular with manufacturers for no apparent reason.
My current monitor isn't bad either, but it does have a 25ms refresh time (compared with as little as 2ms for these models) and I blew up the DVI input last Christmas. Mainly it's only 19", and I'd really like something a little larger. Like two 24" monitors side by side.
** Well, while I'd like one of each and every model, my wallet will settle for the 24" monitor and the 32" TV.
Last week's Doctor Who episode, Midnight, was an okay science fiction yarn. But if you've read A Fall of Moondust you've already seen it. And it had a hard act to follow in the previous story, Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead. Not bad, on the whole, but not insipired.
This week's episode, though, Turn Left, was awesome.
And if they did crib from Arthur C Clarke again, well, there are worse places to borrow ideas.
It's the first part in what promises to be a kick-ass season finale.
Friday, June 20
What with all the people actually selling the new Radeon 4850, AMD decided that there was little point in maintaining the review embargo. And so, disembargoed, reviews are popping up across the web.
It is 800 shaders. That's 1 teraflop, single precision, for $199.*
* And about 200 gigaflops double precision.
Thursday, June 19
Headless Chickens were a 90's New Zealand grunge band that somehow broke the mold and released something brilliant in their second album, Body Blow.
And then retired back into obscurity with the release of their third album, Greedy, which simply sucked.
Actually, listening to Body Blow yet again today, I realised that of the thirteen tracks, two are indifferent remixes, three are outright bad - including the title track - and one has a strong rhythm and an intriguing sound mix but lame* vocals.
With nearly half of the tracks positively missable, how does this album manage to shine?
Well, it starts out with these:
Donde esta la Pollo
The sound quality of those clips isn't great, but it gives you an idea of what they achieved.
The common theme that distinguishes all (but one) of the songs I like and the songs I don't turns out to be Fiona McDonald, who joined the Headless Chickens for that one album. The exception is Gaskrankinstation, which is perfectly suited to the grunge style, and perfectly executed as such.**
* The word has become trite, but it's entirely appropriate here. I refer to Railway Surfing. If you've heard it, you'll agree.
** Even if the music video is a bit naff. And it really does benefit from a good quality recording and a good set of speakers.
Wednesday, June 18
The only thing worse than any given blogging API is any of the other blogging APIs. Somehow, they all manage to be worse than all of the others. You'd think that would be impossible, but not so.
For a start, the Blogger and MetaWeblog APIs are based on XML-RPC, which sucks. The Atom API doesn't use XML-RPC, because it sucks, but does use XML, which sucks, and Atom itself, which sucks.
Why isn't there a JSON blogging API? Whatever the reason, there soon will be.
But I'll support MetaWeblog anyway. Even though it sucks, it sucks in a way that is easy to implement in Python. As long as nothing goes wrong, anyway.
Innova Studio just announced - and I just bought - a copy of InnovaEditor.NET, which also supports Safari (and still supports non-.NET applications like Minx).
So that's you Mac guys sorted out!
$130 for a royalty-free license, and just $50 to upgrade, which is a real bargain given the wealth of features it provides.
Monday, June 16
Looks like modding Xboxes pays pretty well, too.
Or the next best thing.
Item one: The Fusion io ioDrive.
80GB. $2400. 9 watts. 120,000 IOPS. 600MB/second random writes.
If this thing really delivers, it's a silver bullet for mid-scale databases. I want a silver bullet for mid-scale databases.
Item two: The AMD Radeon 4850.
Somewhere between 600 and 1000 GFLOPS. $200.
I say "somewhere between 600 and 1000 GFLOPS", because this card has either 480 or 800 stream processors... And a week from release, no-one is sure which. At least, no-one who's talking. Wikipedia says 800; I'm betting on the lower figure, based on die size and the too-good-to-be-true rule. Even with 480 processors, though, it's one serious kick-ass video card at an amazing price.
* Only topless, because this is a class blog here.
Saturday, June 14
Innova Editor (the editor used by Minx) works in Opera 9.5. It kind of worked in earlier versions, but there were significant glitches. Now it just works.
It does work more the way it works in IE than the way it works in Mozilla, but that may be due to the options I'm setting; I don't know which set of options Opera will pick up.
So my habit of hitting enter twice between paragraphs has to stop, and I have to learn instead to hit Shift-Enter when I want to break a line without a full paragraph break. Hardly the end of the world!
I need to tweak just one thing to enable Innova for comments for Opera users; I'll do that now.
The one minor annoyance (apart from my double-enter habit) is that by default, if you double-click on text in Opera, it brings up a little context menu. That doesn't prevent you using Innova, but it's irritating. You can disable the menu in the Opera preferences: Ctrl-F12; Advanced tab; Toolbars; down the bottom there is an option Double-click text to display context menu; untick that.
On the plus side, Ctrl-i, Ctrl-b, and Ctrl-u work for italics/bold/underline; in Mozilla they bring up bookmarks, bookmarks (yes, both Ctrl-i and Ctrl-b are shortcuts for bookmarks) and the page source repsectively. They can be overridden, but Innova doesn't.
That just leaves Safari as the holdout. I have a proof-of-concept of another editor (SPAW) working with Minx. It has some nice features (tabs, multiple edit boxes with one toolbar) but is designed to work with PHP, which Minx doesn't have. That will come later; for now, we support three out of four of the major browsers, and Mac users can download Firefox.
Friday, June 13
Via Cute Overload: A mama lion with four little cubbages. With sound. And full screen mode.
Live. From Kenya.*
* Not actually Kenya.
Wednesday, June 11
For the much delayed Minx 1.2:
CherryPy 3.1 is in RC1. This tidies up a few issues I've had to work around with 3.0 and adds some nice new features for me.
Innova Editor 3.1 is out. We're currently on 2.9; 3.0 adds a ribbon like the latest Microsoft Word. Not sure what 3.1 brings; I'll have to check. (Update: Mostly bugfixes, but it looks like you can also resize the editor on the fly, which will be neat.)
So now I just need to shove 1.2 out the door. Working on that; I have a 4-day weekend coming up to devote to it.
Tuesday, June 10
We're living in a science fiction novel.
Give it about 30 seconds.
Read the post below first. Well, I say read, but what I really mean is absorb by osmosis, like a sponge. The ones that live in the ocean, not the cheap supermarket ones.
Via Steven and a quick Google, a post entirely stolen from Accidental Anime.
I only discovered Vocaloid myself today. Pure coincidence. The advances in music composition software since I put together my stuff back in '02 have been amazing.
And the mandatory Don't Mix The Memes item from the title:
Yup, that's a computer singing a Finnish folk song in a Japanese accent.
Monday, June 09
Just watched the second part of Silence in the Library, Forest of the Dead.
Very nice. Very nice indeed.
One of the things I particularly like about the Steven Moffat episodes is that they use time travel as a theme, not just as a premise. The Girl in the Fireplace and Blink, of course, and even (to a degree) The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.
And two of the four are love stories as well.
Silence in the Library does particularly well in setting up a classic Dr Who And Then There Were None story (a la Horror of Fang Rock) while at the same time laying out the pieces of a puzzle in such a way that even when you have all the pieces you aren't aware that some of them are pieces at all. And then Forest of the Dead puts all the pieces together for you, click click click.
I loved Dr Who in my teens, but now that I go back and watch the old episodes, many of them are, frankly, pretty awful. Thanks to Steven Moffat and Russell Davies (and Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennant!) for bringing me a Dr Who I can love in my very-late-thirties.*
* 41, since you asked.
In Physics, the Elitzur-Vaidman bomb-testing problem is a thought experiment in quantum mechanics, first proposed by Avshalom Elitzur and Lev Vaidman in 1993. An actual bomb-tester was constructed and successfully tested by Anton Zeilinger, Paul Kwiat, Harald Weinfurter, and Thomas Herzog in 1994. It employs a Mach-Zehnder interferometer for ascertaining whether a measurement has taken place.The proof? This thing really works.
Start with a Mach-Zehnder interferometer and a light source which emits single photons. When a photon emitted by the light source reaches a half-silvered plane mirror, it has equal chances of passing through or reflecting. On one path, place a bomb (B) for the photon to encounter. If the bomb is working, then the photon is absorbed and triggers the bomb. If the bomb is non-functional, the photon will pass through the dud bomb unaffected.
When a photon's state is non-deterministically altered, such as interacting with a half-silvered mirror where it non-deterministically passes through or is reflected, the photon undergoes quantum superposition, whereby it takes on all possible states and can interact with itself. This phenomenon continues until an observer interacts with it, causing the wave function to collapse and returning the photon to a deterministic state.
[There] are only three observable results:
- The bomb explodes.
- The bomb does not explode and only detector (C) detects the photon. The bomb must be usable.
- The bomb does not explode and only detector (D) detects the photon. It is possible that the bomb is usable or that it is a dud.
In the case of the third observation, the experiment may be repeated to see if the bomb will explode or if detector (C) will detect a photon. On average, this will identify all of the dud bombs, explode two thirds of the usable bombs, and identify one third of the usable bombs without detonating them.
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