Finn, what the cabbage?

Tuesday, November 24


Facing The Raven

Warning: This whole post is a huge spoiler for current season of Doctor Who, up to episode 10 and possibly including episodes that haven't aired yet.

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Monday, November 23


Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Gamut

So the new 27" Retina iMac isn't much of an upgrade from the previous 27" Retina iMac - very slightly faster processor, graphics, and memory, and a significantly faster SSD, though that was already quite fast.

What it does have is a wide-gamut screen calibrated for DCI-P3 - that is, it's designed to display the same colour range as digital cinema projectors, and in the same way.  And that colour range is wider than the typical monitor or television - Apple says 25% wider.

Normally you only notice colour gamut when a device is bad, rather than good.  The original 2012 Nexus 7 had a noticeably limited colour gamut - everything looked like a rainy winter's day even with the brightness at maximum.  (The 2013 model was much improved on this, as on most things.)

And I didn't notice it on my iMac at first either, until the screen saver turned up this image of the Colorado River.  It's a striking photo on my old monitor, but on a wide-gamut screen it's eye-popping.  I've never seen that shade of orange on an LCD display, and I don't think I've ever seen it on a CRT either.

It's one of those things you have to see for yourself.

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Saturday, November 21



Posting from Taiga!

It works.  Plugged in, switched on...  Where's the switch?  Where's the switch?!  Ah.  Switched on, poing sound, off we go.

Magic mouse is pretty good.  Magic keyboard is a piece of crap with no feel or key travel.  An entry-level Logitech keyboard is better than this.  So was the old Mac keyboard from the 2nd generation iMac...  Which I have sitting in closet upstairs, so I'll dig that out tomorrow.

Screen is all it should be - 14 million pixels and a wide colour gamut and great viewing angles.

Everything so far is pretty zippy.  I'd hope so, since it has the fastest of everything that I could possibly get - and since I haven't done anything remotely taxing so far.

The memory upgrade was pretty nice.  There's a couple of tricks to it, but they're well-designed tricks:
  • There's a button that releases the hatch over the RAM slots.  The button can only be reached after removing the power cord, so there's no way you can open it while it's powered on.

  • There's a latching mechanism that locks all four RAM slots at once, and when you unlatch it, they hinge outwards for easy access.  You just drop the modules in and push the latch shut again.
32GB of 1600MHz third-party RAM was $260, vs. $960 for the upgrade from 8GB to 32GB from Apple.  For $700 I'll accept that 2-3% real-world performance difference.  (Though why they didn't just use DDR4 I don't know.)

Now let's install Steam...

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Monday, November 16



Taiga arrived.  Today.  When I was at the office.

And the delivery guy got confused because when he knocked on my door, my neighbours answered their door.

So I had to leave work early to head home and sort it out, which means I'll be working late tonight to catch up.  But that's fine.  Taiga is safe in the spare room and I'll get her set up in the next day or two.

Update: 32GB extra RAM and 5TB external drive arrived today.  The Blu-Ray drive is back-ordered, but that's not urgent; I have on in my Windows PC.

Now I'm all set except for software, and that I can buy online as needed.

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Tuesday, November 10



I've been meaning to buy a new Mac for so long that they've changed the naming scheme for OS X releases and the joke no longer works.  (My old Macs are all PowerPC models.  I have a second-gen iMac with the 15" CRT, and an even older PowerMac - a 7600, I think.)

Anyway, ordered the following from the Apple Store today:

27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display
27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display
A$ 5,519.00
With the following configuration:
4.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
8GB 1867MHz DDR3 SDRAM - two 4GB
1TB Flash Storage
AMD Radeon R9 M395X with 4GB video memory
Magic Mouse 2
Magic Keyboard (International English) and User’s Guide (English)
Accessory Kit

Yeah, it's not exactly cheap.* Australian prices have jumped about 25% this year due to currency fluctuations. On the other hand, it's probably the best software developer workstation available at any cost.

That 8GB RAM isn't going to stay that way; I'm just deciding whether to go to 32GB or splash out on 48GB or 64GB. 64GB of third-party RAM costs less than Apple's 32GB upgrade.

Anyone who has current Mac experience is welcome to chime in with recommendations for additional hardware and software.  I want a USB Blu-Ray drive, some good (but not audiophile) stereo speakers (don't really need surround sound or a subwoofer), and either VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop.

I already have software subscriptions with Microsoft, Adobe, and JetBrains that will transfer straight across to Mac, so I'm covered there.

Apart from the old iMac, probably the last desktop PC I bought - rather than built - was my Sun Ultra 5 from around 1999.  And even with that I replaced the disk drives and added a video card.

Update: Added 32GB of RAM, a Samsung external Blu-Ray writer, and a 5TB LaCie external drive, and I'm still $270 under Apple's 32GB upgrade price.  That could pay for a nice set of AudioEngine speakers.

64GB might be nice, but (a) 32GB is enough, and I already have two computers with 32GB of RAM each, and (b) 64GB costs four times as much as 32GB because you need newer high-density memory.

Update: It's shipped!  ETA Monday...  When I won't be home.  Of course.

* In fact, it's crazy expensive.  You can get a decent computer including a small SSD and an IPS monitor for about A$1200.  But I spend 60+ hours a week sitting** in front of my screen, and it's how I earn a living, so I can kinda sorta justify the expense.

** Speaking of which, I also need a new chair.

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Friday, September 04


Sometime Simpler Is Better

Two virtual machines, each with 3 cores and 4GB RAM, running CentOS 7. 
[Edit: Wait, Kururu is on CentOS 6.  Well, near enough.]

Kururu is running under OpenVZ:


While Rere is running on KVM:


Also, Kururu didn't have 3 cores and 4GB of RAM.  It had 1 core, and 1GB.  I changed it to take this screenshot - but check the uptime.

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Good News, Irritating News, Great News

A few days ago I signed up with Wable, a new VPS service run by the company that hosts most of the servers.  They were having a lifetime half-price sale on their entry-level package, just $8 per month for 2GB of RAM and 50GB of disk, which you could then split across 1-3 separate VPSes as needed.

Today I saw a special offer that went a step further and gave you a bonus 4GB of RAM, 30GB of SSD, and 2 VPSes if you signed up right away.

Dammit.  Nothing spoils a good deal faster than a better deal you can't have.

I clicked on the promo code anyway...  And it added the bonus to my existing account.


Underlying hardware is the Intel E5-2643 v3, one of the fastest server CPUs available for single-threaded workloads.  As long as your hardware node doesn't get overloaded, that should really fly.  Crazy good performance for the price.

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Wednesday, September 02


It's A Machine That Goes Ding

How to build a perfect website.

  • Use PHP or Node.JS.
  • Use a heavyweight Javascript client framework unless you know precisely why you need it.
  • Use templates that mix code and layout.
  • Ignore common edge cases. If your site looks lousy on an iPad, you have a problem.
And yes, we don't currently score very well on this list. Knowing what to do doesn't automatically grant the time in which to do it. neutral

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Tuesday, August 11


How It Works

A non-technical explanation.


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Wednesday, July 29


Nexus Qi

So my Nexus 5 disintegrated.  The material around the edge of the phone got scratched, probably from being stuffed into my pocket along with my headphones,* and then cracked and flaked off in bigger and bigger pieces, until finally the back started to detach and it couldn't find its SIM card any more and little bits of electronics started to fall out.

So I kind of needed a new phone.

I have a Sony Xperia Z Ultra, but that's too big; it lives in my notebook bag to serve as a mini tablet and 4G / Wifi hotspot.  So it was back to my Nexus 4, which is made of solid glass all the way through and so is still pretty much as-new.

The only problem is that...  Well, two problems.  Three.  One, it only has 16GB of storage, which is not enough.  Two, it's a superfluid, like liquid helium, and will not just slide off a level surface to fall on the floor, but will slide uphill to do so.**

And three, the USB port is a bit fiddly, which means at some point it will suffer the fate of my original Nexus 7 and I won't be able to charge it any more.***

If only it had shipped with wireless charging, so I could just plop it down on this wireless charging pad that is no longer in use by my Nexus 5 and HEY!

The Nexus 4 supported Qi wireless charging?  Did they, like, mention that to anyone?

* Sennheiser PX 100-II.

** Nexus 4 owners will know what I mean.  The glass back makes it the slipperiest phone in existence.  The edge is textured so you don't drop it, but when you put it down on any level surface it will swiftly migrate to the nearest available edge and make good its escape.

*** Until I went out and bought a wireless charging pad to see if that helped - and it did.

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