You are viewing boggyb

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Thomas

[ website | Beware the Jabberwock... ]
[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Links
[Links:| BBC news deviantArt Vulture Central Un4seen Developments Jazz 2 Online EmuTalk.net Slashdot a Half Empty Glass the Broken Cube Feng's shui Dangerous Prototypes LWN Raspberry Pi The Music Jungle ]

All right, who set fire to the sky? [Posted on Saturday, the 20th of December 2014 at 4:26 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |artisticartistic]
[Who |Enya - Last Time by Moonlight [And Winter Came...]]

All right, who set fire to the sky?

Photos!Collapse )
Link[ One penny | Penny for your thoughts? ]

Mad Christmas preparation [Posted on Saturday, the 20th of December 2014 at 12:56 pm]

boggyb
[What |accomplishedaccomplished]

Let's see... most presents have been bought, but not all (Brighton, where I do my usual shopping, was somewhat disappointing this year). I've still got a few days though, so as long as I'm sorted by Christmas Eve I'm happy (yes, I have done Christmas shopping on the 24th before!).

The cards that need posting (and that I remembered to do) have now finally been posted, just in time for the last posting date. Except for the ones for rustica, crazyscot and omgimsuchadork - I've epically failed at the last international posting date, so your cards will likely arrive next year. This just means you get an extra-long Christmas :)

Oh, and the tree went up a few days ago along with most of the decorations. Except for the chocolates which still need hanging. It's not a proper tree without chocolates to eat over the twelve days.

Still to do: get the last few presents, wrap them all, write some more cards to deliver in-person, and sort out what I'm taking to Horsham. Plus have a go at repairing the laptop if I get a chance.
Link[ 2 pennies | Penny for your thoughts? ]

(no subject) [Posted on Sunday, the 14th of December 2014 at 9:55 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |annoyedannoyed]

Of course, nothing even goes right and now I've discovered that one of the keys on Nyx's keyboard has failed.

Specifically, the letter U.

As it happens I do have a spare keyboard, however it has a European AZERTY layout and so is rather confusing to use when the computer is set to QWERTY (I can type on it as long as I don't look to see which key I'm pressing!). It's also got a horrid spongy feel to it, unlike the one I normally use which is a genuine mechanical switch-per-key model that dates back to the Windows 3.1 days.

Unfortunately there seems to be this massive gulf in the market between cheap nasty membrane/dome-switch keyboards at the low end and crazy expensive gaming keyboards with more bling than a chav's car. All I want is a decent switch-per-key model with a full-size layout, but I'm struggling to find one where I'm not having to pay an extra £50 for RGB backlighting or replaceable keycaps that I don't actually want. It's widescreen laptops all over again, where the marketroids have decided that what they think consumers want is more important than what consumers actually want and consequently ignored an entire market segment.
Link[ 2 pennies | Penny for your thoughts? ]

Nyx lives! [Posted on Sunday, the 14th of December 2014 at 8:47 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |happyamazed]



It actually worked! Cooking a graphics card actually fixed it!
Link[ One penny | Penny for your thoughts? ]

(no subject) [Posted on Sunday, the 14th of December 2014 at 8:35 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |nervousnervous]

Since the card is still cooling down, it's now time to turn my attention to the heatsink.

Onwards!Collapse )

All that remains is to tighten everything down, reinstall the card, and hope for the best!
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Please come to the castle. I baked a graphics card for you. [Posted on Sunday, the 14th of December 2014 at 6:42 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |optimisticoptimistic]

Wait, what?

So you may remember that when the graphics card in Nyx failed, I mentioned that it might be repairable? Well, the repair I alluded to is to attempt to fix any failed solder joints... by baking it in an oven at 200°C for 10 minutes. Seriously! There's no end of forum posts and Youtube videos suggesting this as a fix for failed graphics cards, particularly nVidia GeForce cards around the 8800GT mark (the Internets suggest that nVidia skimped on the solder and/or underfill quality for BGA chips, and the thermal stresses from repeated power up/down cycles eventually break one or more solder joints), and most people who claim to have tried this have reported success.

The physics for this checks out as well. Essentially what I'm trying to do is emulate the reflow soldering process used to make the card in the first place, which when you get down to it is basically "bake it in an oven", but with much better temperature control. The aim of reflow soldering is to heat the card up to the point at which the solder melts and flows - much like with a soldering iron, but heating every solder joint in one go - and the temperature needed to melt solder is around 200°C depending on the particular alloy used. Real reflow ovens are ridiculously expensive pieces of kit, but there's many alternatives - SparkFun use a skillet, while Mike's Electric Stuff suggests using a Sainsbury's Basics toaster (removing the pop-up mechanism recommended unless you want a SMT desolderer...). So it's not too far-fetched to imagine doing this with an ordinary oven.

Here goes nothing...Collapse )
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Laptop WiFi upgrade: success! [Posted on Sunday, the 14th of December 2014 at 12:15 am]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |accomplishedaccomplished]

In the meantime, I should report on the other upgrade that I've done to Aether: replacing the WiFi daughterboard, which I did after finally getting the new SSD to boot.

About the only thing I got wrong with the spec of the R50e that I had at university was not including onboard WiFi. Instead I thought that I'd be smart and, since I already had a 802.11b PCMCIA card, I'd just reuse that and so save a bit on the cost of the laptop.

Three WiFi cards and many years later... no, that wasn't that smart a decision. Having to stick a card in the side of the laptop just to use WiFi is awkward, and it leaves a lump sticking out which will eventually get broken off at which point you now have no Internet.

The Gnu, on the other hand, was smarter when he spec'd out his R50p and included onboard WiFi in the form of an Intel 2100B. It's one of the reasons why I happily switched over to it when he passed it on to me, as it's just so much more convenient. There was a slight downside though in that it's only 802.11b (top speed 5Mb/s on a good day), but that's generally fast enough for web browsing.

I'd previously tried upgrading to a spare Netgear WAG311 (officially a PCI card, but in reality a mini-PCI card in a mini-PCI-to-PCI adapter - that was quite common in the early WiFi days). This is slightly tricky as the ThinkPad BIOS has a whitelist of authorised mini-PCI and refuses to boot if it detects a different card... but there's a fix in the form of patching out the check in the BIOS. While the card worked it didn't support WPA2 and so was unusable in my network.

This time I did some more research and managed to find an Intel 2915ABG, which not only is capable of a/b/g connections but also supports WPA2 and is on the official support list. I even managed to find one with a correct FRU part number, for all of £13 (including postage!) from eBay:



Physically swapping the card is straightforward - just remove the keyboard and bezel, unplug the antennas, unclip and remove the old card, clip the new one in, reconnect the antennas, and put the laptop back together. And this being a ThinkPad there's no need to play "guess which screws to undo" - the Hardware Maintenance Manual lists all the steps.

Anyway, upgrade done, and now for the NUMBERS!

Before pulling the old card out, I did a very rough-and-ready speed test by pointing Firefox at speedtest.net and letting it rip. Running a speed test across the Internet is normally entirely the wrong way to test local network performance, but I knew for this test at least, my Internet connection would not be the weakest link:



Yep, that about the best one can expect for 802.11b WiFi. Theoretically that could do 11Mb/s, but generally you need to de-rate WiFi connections by 50% for a real-world max speed. Anyway, enough of that. Time for the new card, running in 802.11a mode:


FTP file transfer from the NAS: 27.77Mb/s

That's more like it. My Internet connection can and does run faster than that, but probably not in the evening when the universe is watching Netflix. The file transfer from the NAS is a better indication of true speed.

This has nothing on what Nyx can achieve, though it's hardly a fair comparison as Nyx has a 802.11n card with about 5 years of signal processing improvements. Still, it's a significant improvement over what Aether had before, and interestingly it also came with a decrease in power consumption - about 0.7W when idle, and a whole watt when running the actual speed test. Result!

Of course, there are some slight issues... most noticeably, the WiFi LED no longer lights. The consensus online is that this is due to a slight pinout change. The original Mini PCI spec had both sides of the LED connected to the card connector. However laptop manufacturers wanted to add a physical radio kill switch, and the way they chose to implement this was to change one pin from being the negative LED output to being the RF kill input. They then only connected one side of the LED to the Mini PCI connector and grounded the other side, so the card drove the positive output only. The upshot is if you fit a new card to a laptop that predates this change, nothing drives the negative LED output. The fix is to ground pin 13 on the Mini PCI connector, but without grounding pin 13 on the card that's plugged in (otherwise it thinks the radio kill switch is on). Simples (not)!

This will all be for naught though unless I can repair that screen...
Link[ 2 pennies | Penny for your thoughts? ]

The laptop saga continues [Posted on Saturday, the 13th of December 2014 at 11:30 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |contemplativecontemplative]

I should have known that anything involving the LCD panel would still be hard. True, there were only three screws... but there were still eleventy billion plastic clips to unhook, and the HMM didn't mention that the bezel was glued to the actual LCD panel. WTF IBM? Anyway having got that off (and discovered that the Bluetooth antenna cable had at some point broken off and needs resoldering - I'll just add it to the todo list, shall I?), I could get at the inverter.

According to the Internets the best way to tell if it's the inverter board or the CCFL that's failed is to swap one out for a known good replacement - usually the inverter board as that's easy to get at. This does assume you have a spare inverter of the right sort to hand... which as it happens, I do have as I've got the previous hardware for Aether, a ThinkPad R50e I had at university. The R50e and R50p are essentially the same hardware, just with different options fitted. The inverter boards aren't the same FRU number but both have the same connectors, and the board for the R50e even has the WiFi and Bluetooth LEDs. So, wrestle with the R50e to get the bezel off that (quite a bit easier, now that I know where the clips and glue are), swap the inverters, and power Aether back up.

And of course it didn't work.

Because being able to fix a dead LCD by transplanting an easy-to-access inverter board would be far too easy a fix. This means the CCFL tube is on its way out, and getting at that requires dismantling the LCD panel itself.

I think at this point I've got very few options for mending Aether. I could swap the hard disk back into the R50e chassis as that's still functioning, but I'd lose the onboard WiFi (which I only upgraded last week!) and would have to go back down to a 1024x768 screen. Additionally the screen in the R50e, while having a working backlight, has a column of blue pixels on the right-hand side stuck half-on. That's likely a failed connection to the panel itself and so falls squarely into the "not fixable" category.

Alternatively, since the panels are physically compatible I could swap the two LCD panels over. This would demote the R50e down to being purely a parts donor, but would get the R50p fully functional. However that still has the same screen-related downsides of the lower resolution and stuck pixels.

Or there's a third option, which is to replace the CCFL tube. It's both rather risky - you have to extract a long, thin, and above all fragile glass tube from the bowels of the LCD display without breaking it or getting dust inside the screen - and also requires a replacement tube of the right sort. The tubes themselves appear to be unobtainium these days as everyone's moved on to widescreen panels and the only eBay sellers with correct tubes are based in the US. However as it happens I do have a potential donor laptop in the form of the R50e. The LCD panels in both laptops are physically the same size and have the same wiring at least for the backlight - whether or not the tubes themselves are the same or close enough is unknown, but I reckon there's a good chance. This is easily the highest-risk option though as there's the very real possibility of breaking both LCD panels.

There's also the fourth option of a replacement LCD panel but that's more money than what I should spend on a 10-year-old laptop...

Hmm... well, the panel in the R50p is definitely unusable as is, so I don't really have anything to lose by opening up that one and seeing how practical the tube replacement is. The panel in the R50e, on the other hand, still works aside from the stuck pixel column, so I would be risking that... but to be honest, one of my primary reasons for keeping Aether going this long is the 1600x1200 screen in it. You just can't get laptop screens that large anymore - they top out at 1920x1080 and at that point you don't have a laptop, you've got a desktop with a built-in UPS. You can, on the other hand, easily get laptops with better displays than 1024x768.

I think it's worth a try...
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Now it's Aether's turn to fail [Posted on Friday, the 12th of December 2014 at 11:23 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |annoyedirked]

So at the moment, Nyx is currently of limited usability as the graphics card has failed and is awaiting repair or replacement. That pushed me to using Aether (a 10-year-old ThinkPad R50p I got from The Gnu a while ago) as a primary computer, and given that I needed to order some PC parts anyway I decided to spend a little more and get a couple of upgrades for Aether.

Which meant that it was now the turn of Aether to have a display failure, leaving me... well, far from computer-less but definitely irked. I'm typing this post on Aether, using one of the monitors that's normally hooked up to Nyx - and the hardware for Aether v1 still works so I could switch back to that (that's the R50e I had back at university) though that'd be a bit of a downgrade. Hmm, I might even be able to transplant the LCD panel as the chassis is the same, though I'd have to do something about the wifi antennas - but I digress. Anyway in this case it's either the inverter board or the CCFL tubes that have died - I suspect the inverter board, as the buzz at low backlight levels has been getting noticeably louder over the past week.

Aether being a ThinkPad, replacing the inverter tubes is actually a practical option as it's designed to be field-replaceable and Lenovo still have the complete hardware maintenance manual on their website (the tubes, less so, as they're integrated into the panel - but the Internets think the inverter is more likely). It's just tedious as strictly speaking to get at the inverter you have to remove the screen, and to do that requires dismantling most of the rest of the laptop. Plus to actually get at the thing you have to take the LCD bezel off which is held on by... apparently nothing more than three easy-to-find screws. Huh. I was expecting eleventy billion small screws and self-destructing plastic clips as being par for the course. This may be less tedious than I thought.

That said with this latest issue it's now fast approaching the point where I should just give in and either replace or retire Aether. The irony is that only the other day I'd commented on a post of talismancer's how I thought that with care I could get another year or two of use out of Aether. Sigh.
Link[ One penny | Penny for your thoughts? ]

A competent AI? [Posted on Thursday, the 11th of December 2014 at 9:04 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |amusedamused]

The AI was unusually competent in Hyrule Warriors the other day. While I (playing as Midna) was bogged down dealing with an opposing Sheik, a mere Hylian Captain handily defeated another enemy that I hadn't even realised was around:



So I left Sheik alone and went off in search of keeps to conquer. This worked out well:



It makes a very pleasant change when your AI allies can be trusted to fend for themselves.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Computer modding... with a soldering iron! [Posted on Monday, the 8th of December 2014 at 7:11 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |accomplishedaccomplished]
[Who |The Alchemist - Enigma [A Posteriori]]

I'm still waiting on some of the bits I ordered (one parcel appears to have disappeared between Overclockers despatching it and UPS receiving it - they're going to try again, hopefully with a more competent courier), but enough parts have arrived for me to start work on Nyx. So yesterday evening I stripped the system down with the aim of fitting a front panel memory card reader.

Now, the sensible way to fit it would be to plug it into a spare USB header on the motherboard. Except I don't (or rather, won't once the Overclockers order arrives) have any spare headers. The motherboard has three (each providing two ports) - two will be used by a front panel I/O module, and the third contains the built-in wifi daughterboard. Which in theory only needs one of the two USB ports, and has an unpopulated footprint for a header for the other port (it's even labelled). Can you see where this is going?

Computer modding... with a soldering iron!Collapse )

As a side note, while rebuilding Nyx I accidentally swapped the graphics and SCSI cards round. On resuming Windows from hibernation (yes, I didn't even fully shut the PC down to work on it!) the SCSI card is now marked as missing a driver which is somewhat expected - the card isn't officially supported and so the driver needed some hackery to install. However there's now a new entry in Device Manager for the PCI graphics card. Oh, and the Firewire controller has been flagged up as failed.

Here was me thinking that Nyx would be less chaotic than Khaos was...
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Firefox fail [Posted on Sunday, the 7th of December 2014 at 8:54 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, , ]
[What |annoyedannoyed]

So if you've just updated Firefox to version 34, have the Flashblock addon installed, and are wondering why videos no longer work at all... it's because the Firefox devs changed part of the plugin API such that Flashblock is now broken (they freely admit that "this has the potential to break addons"!). The only fix is to disable Flashblock, which may or may not happen automatically (on my system it was enabled, but marked to be disabled when Firefox was restarted).

Unfortunately all the workarounds range from "buggy" to "horrible". The obvious patch to Flashblock (apparently just setting a "yes, this plugin really is allowed to rewrite HTML" flag) doesn't work on some sites, Flashstopper only deals with flash videos and not flash in general, and Firefox's native click-to-play is clunky and too coarse-grained (no I don't want to enable all flash applets on a site just to watch a video).

Now in theory there would have been some warning when updating Firefox that the addon was incompatible, as each addon is supposed to declare which versions it works with. Except Firefox has followed Google Chrome's lead in continually releasing new major versions (presumably to be able to say "my version number is bigger than yours!"), with the result that the version number has no semantic meaning and version N+1 is equally likely to be fully compatible as it is to break everything. This means there's no point in specifying a maximum version that your addon is compatible with unless you want to have to release a new one every 6 weeks.


For added annoyance, the update appears to have reset the configured search engine back to Google (which is odd as Mozilla has just ended their partnership with Google). It also appears to be rather unstable - it's crashed a good half-dozen times already. I wonder if I'm better off just reverting back to version 33, or possibly going back further to version 31 (which at least will continue to get security updates, unlike version 33 which is now considered end-of-life despite having only been released for less than two months).
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Laptop upgrade: success! [Posted on Saturday, the 6th of December 2014 at 5:25 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |accomplishedaccomplished]

I've been umming and ahhing over upgrading Aether (a ThinkPad R50p laptop) probably since this time last year. On the one hand, it's over 10 years old and struggles with the JavaScript monstrosities that form the modern Internet. On the other hand, I can't quite justify the cost of a replacement given that I don't use it much these days. And on the third hand... it's actually a very nice machine to use and would be quite hard to find a decent replacement for.

So at the weekend I finally decided that if I wasn't going to buy a replacement, I'd at least buy a couple of useful upgrades. Upgrade the first was replacing the slow hard disk with a SSD, since SSDs make everything go faster (it always used to be that the most cost-effective upgrade on any computer was doubling the RAM - these days, I think the most cost-effective upgrade is adding a SSD). My choice of SSD is a 256GB Plextor PX-M5M SSD (basically, the mSATA version of what I fitted to Khaos/Nyx back in March). There's something just wrong about being able to fit 256GB of solid storage on something this small (let alone the 512GB that's now available!):



Now Aether doesn't support mSATA, let alone SATA, so I needed an adapter. Or a 2.5" IDE SSD (which do exist), but I didn't want to spend a lot of money on upgrades that'd only be useful in Aether. So I also picked up a Lycom ST-173-7 for a tenner:



And yes, I did take the mounting bracket off to see what was inside. The answer is not much, though it looks like there may be an actual DC-DC converter in there - that's good for power draw, as the alternative of a linear regulator wastes power. The result is complete overkill for Aether, but being mSATA I can trivially fit it to whatever the eventual replacement will be.



Easy part done, now to actually clone the disk!


Of course, cloning the disk was full of failCollapse )


Of course, having cloned the disk there was more failCollapse )


This only took me what, three evenings to get working? Anyway, now for the important part: NUMBERS!

Before starting all this I ran HD Tune against the old drive (a 5400rpm 160GB Hitachi HTS541616J9A - so basically your typical laptop HDD) to get a baseline figure:



I ran this a couple of times to try and get a clean graph, and both times had the sharp drop at the start. Probably there's a few reallocated sectors there. For reference, here's what the desktop drives looked like.

I did the test while on battery to get some idea of power consumption. Turns out there's no significant difference in total system power draw, which is mildly disappointing as I was hoping to get improved battery life out off the SSD (that said, the increased speed should help with this - the more time spent in an idle state the lower the average power draw). There was, however, a bit of an improvement in performance:



This merely qualifies as "fast" - as I said, the drive is epic overkill for an old laptop and is pretty much saturating the 100MB/s PATA connection. The adapter could theoretically do 133MB/s if the laptop's controller supported it, but the drive itself is rated for a crazy fast 540MB/s read and 430MB/s write.

That said, the near-zero seek time will give by far the most impact on performance. Certainly the laptop now feels a lot more responsive - where before it seemed to spend ages doing hefty random access, now there's just the odd flicker of the disk light.

The weirdest part of all this is how quiet the laptop is. It's genuinely eerie working away on a truly silent computer. The loudest part now (aside from the fan, but that only runs when needed) is a faint buzz from the backlight inverter, with an even fainter hum from the power circuitry. You can almost tell how hard it's working by the change in pitch of the hum.
Link[ One penny | Penny for your thoughts? ]

NaBloPoMo fail, and computer upgrades [Posted on Sunday, the 30th of November 2014 at 11:13 am]

boggyb
[Tags|, , , , ]

Err... oops?

My excuse is I got distracted by planning computer upgrades for Nyx and Aether, and trying to work out which bits to order from which supplier to minimise costs (no one supplier stocks all the parts). And then getting further distracted by working out if a certain upgrade is even possible.


Mainly as a reference for myself, for Nyx (the desktop) the planned upgrade is:
  • 3.5" front panel I/O module (4xUSB 2.0, audio, Firewire) to replace the existing top-mounted I/O module which I've always found to be in a somewhat awkward position (it's in the middle at the top, so I can't really put anything on top of the case). Removing the I/O module will let me put a fan there to hopefully increase the air pressure inside the case and stop the CD drives becoming dust-eating air intakes.
  • 3.5" front panel memory card reader, as it'd be more useful than the existing external USB reader. Slightly complicated as I'd like one that can handle SmartMedia, and massively complicated by the fact that there are no internal USB ports for it (the new front panel I/O module uses all of them). Or rather, no officially-available ports - the onboard wireless in Nyx occupies a dual USB header, but only uses one USB port and appears to have an unpopulated header to pass through the other one. It should be possible to solder a pin header onto that wireless card and use the other USB port for the card reader...
  • Pin header for the aforementioned onboard wireless card. Need to check the spacing carefully - not everything uses a 2.54mm pin spacing. And check which way round to fit it (top or bottom of the card?).
  • A couple of 3.5" to 5.25" front panel adapters.
  • A pair of 3TB hard disks to replace the existing ones which are a bit too old for my liking. Especially given that one of 'em sometimes struggles to spinup. Hard disks all seem to be much of a muchness these days, so I'm planning on getting whatever the current Seagate Barracuda is as previous incarnations have generally served me well.
  • A tube of Artic Silver 5 thermal compound for the graphics card repair.
  • And I've just thought that sticking an air filter in the front of the case would help against the dust bunny invasion. Need to check what size I need and work out just how I'll fit the thing. That's one of the few flaws with the Coolermaster Wavemaster case - no air filter on the intake fans. Not sure why they omitted it as the Praetorian had one.
While the processor is woefully outclassed by any half-decent one these days, the Core 2 Quad Q6600 is still fast enough that it's not worth me upgrading it. Especially as to do so would require a new motherboard, in turn requiring new memory and quite probably needing PCI-E versions of the TV and SCSI cards.

I might need a new graphics card though if the repair fails. That'd be only the second significant hardware upgrade since building Khaos 7 years ago (the first being the SSD earlier this year)


For Aether (the laptop):
  • Intel PRO/2915ABG Mini-PCI wireless card. Yes, I know, the laptop's ancient and this is certainly a non-reusable upgrade (unlike the other one I mentioned yesterday), but for £13 including postage I'm happy to take a punt on it.
Aether could really do with a new battery and an upgrade to Windows 7 but that's a significant cost and at that point I'm probably better off outright replacing it (not to mention that I'm not sure if I can even find the drivers for Windows 7). The current hardware is over 10 years old, and while the Pentium M was incredibly fast for its time (outperforming desktop Pentium 4 processors running at a much faster clock speed), it's just not fast enough for the Javascript monstrosities that are modern websites.

That said it'll be a shame to replace it, as you just can't get laptops with 1600x1200 screens anymore.
Link[ One penny | Penny for your thoughts? ]

Today's bonkers packaging award winner is... [Posted on Friday, the 28th of November 2014 at 10:38 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |amusedamused]

And the winner of today's bonkers packaging award is Scan, who appear to be trying to outdo HP with insane amounts of packaging.

I order one of two parts for a laptop upgrade (there'll be a future post when the other part arrives) from them. It's an adapter that's 10cm by 70cm and under 1cm thick, so I was expecting to receive a small jiffy bag or similar (and indeed I considered just getting it posted to my flat as it should fit through a letterbox). Instead I got a box about 22cm by 16cm and nearly 5cm thick... wrapped up in half-a-dozen or so layers of thick bubblewrap.

When I came back from lunch to find that behemoth on my desk, I was actually rather puzzled as to what on earth Scan had shipped me that came in a bundle that large!

I'm now glad I didn't order the other part from them. At 5cm by 3cm and only a few mm thick, it'd have probably come strapped to its own shipping pallet if HP is anything to go by.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

(no subject) [Posted on Thursday, the 27th of November 2014 at 11:55 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, , ]
[What |curiouscurious]

Unfortunately it looks like the graphics card has definitely failed - certainly it showed exactly the same symptoms when I powered Nyx up earlier. And I don't have any spare PCI-E cards. I've got loads of old AGP cards (Achilles/Hector started life with a nVidia Vanta, and over the years was upgraded many times until eventually ending up with an overclocked nVidia GeForce 4 Ti4600), but the motherboard in Nyx doesn't have an AGP slot. And my cunning plan of taking an old ATi Rage Pro PCI card turned out to be not-so-cunning after all - that card isn't even detected by Windows.

Of course, having taken the 8800GT out and half-dismantled it I now can't get into the BIOS on Nyx to see if there's any relevant settings there.

As to why I've dismantled it... well, the internets has suggested a potential fix involving an oven, some tinfoil, careful timing, a bit of isopropyl alcohol (I'm using a bottle of lens cleaner) and a tube of thermal compound (I'll probably get Artic Silver 5, for no reason other than a vague recollection of using some many years ago in a processor upgrade for Achilles). The physics behind the fix makes sense, and given that the card is out of warranty I may as well have a go.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Graphics card? What graphics card? [Posted on Wednesday, the 26th of November 2014 at 10:34 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, , ]
[What |disappointeddisappointed]

Today's fun discovery is the graphics card in Nyx (a rather nice nVidia GeForce 8800GT) may have just failed.

At least, Nyx spontaneously bluescreened (a rarity since the Windows 7 upgrade), and on restart refused to load the driver for the graphics card. Looking in the event log the bluescreen was due to the graphics driver repeatedly failing. Device manger shows "Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems. (Code 43)" for the graphics card, and the consensus online is that this translates as "hardware failure".

The graphical corruption on the BIOS startup screen (rows of blue dots) is something of a hint as well. Last time I saw something like that was with an ATi Rage Pro PCI which objected to being second in the startup order - Nyx only has the one graphics card, so that's unlikely to be an issue this time :)

It'll be quite hard to replace that card. I chose it specifically back when I built Khaos (the predecessor to Nyx) as it was the only decent card on the market with a single-slot cooler, which I needed to be able to use all the PCI slots on the motherboard (itself chosen as I needed 3 PCI slots). Pretty much everything these days has at least a dual-slot cooler on it. Of course, it was only later that I discovered that I'd bought the best possible graphics card (seriously - the 8800GT outperformed just about everything else available, including cards costing an awful lot more). That's true of so much of the build of Nyx - almost everything was bought to fit some odd constraint or other, and most of the parts turned out purely by chance to be very good buys.

Anyway, I'll see if it behaves any better after getting a chance to cool down overnight. There's some suggestion on the internets that this type of failure is thermal-related, and that card has always run a bit hotter than I'd have liked. Certainly whatever thermal gunk nVidia's used on the heatsink looks like it's seen better days.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

5 questions meme [Posted on Tuesday, the 25th of November 2014 at 10:23 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[Who |Lost Tribe - Gamesmaster]

5 questions meme! Comment on this post and I'll give you five questions!

Found via 13th_einherjar, who gave me a set of questions some 4 years ago. Um. I claim that I was saving them for a rainy day, and it is indeed raining outside!


Anyway, the questionsCollapse )
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Karting and Thanksgiving [Posted on Monday, the 24th of November 2014 at 10:55 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, , ]
[Who |Green Greens [Kirby: Triple Deluxe Soundtrack]]

All the other drivers were unusually well-behaved on the evening commute (apart from one person who couldn't decide whether or not to overtake me at a set of lights), so no driving rants today.

Anyway, Saturday as I mentioned was full of karting and Thanksgiving. The karting was up at the Crawley TeamSport track - this is an old favourite, as it's nice and local and a lot more comfortable to drive than the Brighton track (which always leaves me waiting for the world to stop vibrating after getting out of the kart). They've got two tracks over three floors, and this time we went on the Grand Prix track. It's a fast track that lets you carry a lot of speed round the pit straight, though with plenty of opportunities for taking a corner too fast and spinning out. For added fun they'd been having problems with condensation on the track all day making it rather slippery.

I've only got times from the first of two sessions we did, wherein I managed a reasonable 27.046 best time. I think I improved by over a second in the later session, though I also had the dubious honour of being responsible for a red flag after planting the kart in the tyre wall at the top of the ramp. I tried to go round the outside of Jonners up the ramp, carried far too much speed to make the chicane at the top, and so punted the tyre wall head-on. Then Jonners ended up ramming me, pushing the kart underneath the tyres. It took three marshals to get it out! Once they'd spotted it, that is - the marshals on the downstairs track can't actually see the top of the bridge.

After karting, it was off to Beth and Jonners' for a Thanksgiving party, wherein many friends old and new gathered in search of turkey and partridge-in-a-pear-tree-pie. No games this year, just several hours spent happily catching up with everyone and enjoying good food.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Christmas cards! [Posted on Sunday, the 23rd of November 2014 at 11:30 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |curiouscurious]
[Who |Green Greens [Kirby: Triple Deluxe Soundtrack]]

At last night's Thanksgiving several people handed round Christmas cards, which reminded me that I'd better do this soon if I'm to make the last international posting dates. So...

Who would like a Christmas/Yuletide/New Year/excuse-to-eat-chocolate card all the way from England?

If you'd like a card, then comment with your address on this post (comments are screened) or email it to gimmegimmegimme@thomasmccorkell.me.uk (cold and damp British weather hopefully not included).
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Right, now where do I go? [Posted on Sunday, the 23rd of November 2014 at 11:21 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[Who |Nightwish - Last Ride of the Day [Imaginaerum]]

Well, that was an interesting drive back from Horsham.

allegramente had mentioned that a teeny tiny trickle of a stream under the Guildford Road had become not-so-tiny and flooded the road. Okay, so I can go via Greenway and Rusham's Road instead. Next was half-way along the Bishopric where I dodged a small fountain in the middle of the road (bearing in mind pleaseremove's advice that there may no longer be a cover over whatever manhole had flooded), before heading round past Sainsbury's and out along Worthing Road (I go this way to avoid major road works on the A24 bypass which have eaten most of the sliproad there). I got most of the way out of Horsham and past the turn-off for Christ's Hospital... to discover a Road Closed sign paired with Police Accident. Hmm. So, double back and go... um... now where?

I settled for heading out via North Parade and Warnham Road - which meant I then had to go through the 40mph road works I was trying to avoid. For added fun I then ended up playing a sort of inverse chicken with someone merging off the Broadbridge Heath roundabout (I lift off to let him out as he's ahead and it's clear in front, he's not going as fast as I thought so I slow down some more, he slows right down...). That done I finally manage to escape Horsham and head off on my way home.

The rest of the drive went rather well - all the madness seemed to have been concentrated around Horsham, and while the Long Furlong is hard work on a wet night it's made up for by the A27 which is a very nice road to drive. Except for Arundel where the dual carriageway just ends at half a roundabout, and Chichester which has far too many roundabouts - that said, 8pm on a Sunday turns out to be a nice time as the usual queues have evaporated.

Of course, I then got back to my flat to discover that the tenants of the other building had plonked their wheelie bins in front of the entrance to the car park, much to the surprise of both me and the person who followed me down that side road. I resisted the temptation to play Alfa Romeo/wheelie bin bowling :)
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

(no subject) [Posted on Saturday, the 22nd of November 2014 at 12:10 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]

Today is going to be full of karting and thanksgiving party, so this is a post to say that there will probably not be a post today.

Except since this is a post today, it qualifies for NaBloPoMo.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

How's my posting? [Posted on Friday, the 21st of November 2014 at 11:59 am]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |sleepysleepy]

Because it's too late for anything sensible...

Poll #1989780 How's my posting?

I should post more...

Epic tales of computer craziness
2(18.2%)
Things that really actually happened
2(18.2%)
Slightly intelligible ramblings about popular culture
1(9.1%)
Inflammable rants about the state of modern society
1(9.1%)
Highly random memes
1(9.1%)
Highly unrandom quizzes
1(9.1%)
Musings and in-depth analysis of whatever I'm playing
1(9.1%)
Genuinely original content
1(9.1%)
I have discovered a truly remarkable topic which this poll is too small to contain
1(9.1%)

I post too many...

Epic tales of computer craziness
1(11.1%)
Things that really actually happened
1(11.1%)
Slightly intelligible ramblings about popular culture
1(11.1%)
Inflammable rants about the state of modern society
1(11.1%)
Highly random memes
1(11.1%)
Highly unrandom quizzes
1(11.1%)
Musings and in-depth analysis of whatever I'm playing
1(11.1%)
Genuinely original content
1(11.1%)
I have discovered a truly remarkable topic which this poll is too small to contain
1(11.1%)

Am I going to pay attention to the results?

Mean: 6.50 Median: 0.5 Std. Dev 3.50
0
0(0.0%)
1
0(0.0%)
2
0(0.0%)
3
1(50.0%)
4
0(0.0%)
5
0(0.0%)
6
0(0.0%)
7
0(0.0%)
8
0(0.0%)
9
0(0.0%)
10
1(50.0%)

Ticky box?

Yes
2(40.0%)
Nope
1(20.0%)
What
1(20.0%)
Lol
1(20.0%)
Link[ 2 pennies | Penny for your thoughts? ]

Slightly improved file uploader [Posted on Thursday, the 20th of November 2014 at 8:55 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |accomplishedaccomplished]
[Who |Ralph McTell - Spiral Staircase [The Best of]]

Anyway, enough ranting about nutters on the road. Remember the file uploader I hacked together earlier this year? Well, I discovered a slight flaw when using it with the Wii U - the filename provided by the console is static, and so later uploads overwrite earlier ones. That's easily fixed...

PHP!Collapse )

The change is only a few lines - the call to move_uploaded_file has been replaced with

      $pathinfo = pathinfo($_FILES['file']['name'][$i]);
      $dest = $pathinfo['filename'] . strftime('-%Y%m%d-%H%M%S.') . $pathinfo['extension'];
      move_uploaded_file($_FILES['file']['tmp_name'][$i], $dest);


The result is each uploaded file has the current date and time appended to it (for example, vorpal.jpeg becomes vorpal-20141120-205045.jpeg). Obviously this will still overwrite files if you manage to upload the same filename multiple times within the same second, to which my answer is meh! As before, feel free to use it under the 3-clause BSD license.
Link[ 2 pennies | Penny for your thoughts? ]

Today's kamikaze cyclist [Posted on Thursday, the 20th of November 2014 at 8:33 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[Who |Ralph McTell - The Mermaid and the Seagull [The Best of]]

I really shouldn't pad out NaBloPoMo with driving posts, but today's kamikaze cyclist deserves special mention...

This clown chose to hug the right-hand side of the lane down the hill by Titchfield, entering a right-turn lane without turning right, and then veering across the dividing line into the other side of the road. Possibly he thought he was being smart by leaving a car's width of space to his left, but I try not to undertake someone unless the traffic is queueing and I'm especially not going to undertake a kamikaze cyclist who shouldn't be there as I've now got no clue where he's going to go.

Then we got to the lights at the bottom which turned red with plenty of time to spare, at which point he signalled left and moved over. Initially he appeared to slow for the lights, but then he went straight through the red light, did not turn left, and cut across the traffic now entering from the left on a (for them) green light.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Ph34r my Cucco army! [Posted on Wednesday, the 19th of November 2014 at 9:01 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |sillysilly]

Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Today's drivetime fun [Posted on Wednesday, the 19th of November 2014 at 6:48 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[Who |Big Giant Circles - In Your Prime [Super Metroid: Reserve Tank: VARIAtions]]

Today's drivetime fun was a pair of unexpectedly long queues. First was on the A27 outside work which normally is shorter, though that said it was flowing quite well (apart from the mess caused when people zip past and then all try to merge in at once).

Then there was the second one also on the A27, this time on the second approach to the crazyabout. This one is always long and slow because of everyone trying to go to Gosport and getting caught in whatever it is they're doing to Newgate Lane, but today was worse because of a accident half-blocking one lane (the cars looked mostly intact so probably more of a bump than anything serious). For added fun this backed up all the way down the sliproad and onto the roundabout, and apparently a yellow box area on a roundabout means "traffic entering can block traffic on the roundabout waiting for the box to clear".

I have noticed a general trend of drivers deciding that yellow boxes apply to other people. I try not to do this and actually do you're supposed to do, which is not enter unless your exit is clear (you can enter if you're turning right and are only blocked by oncoming traffic). This isn't always easy to do - there's one junction I go through where the exit is round a corner and so you can't actually see if it's clear until you're in the yellow box.

Anyway, today I was smart and so did not do what I may have done before (which I am totally not admitting to ) and try to hold the Alfa on the hill using the clutch, and did not then spend the next ten minutes using the clutch to crawl forwards following someone going verrry slowly (apparently while riding the brakes - and no, it's not downhill enough to creep forwards on gravity alone) until suddenly realising that I had very little useful travel on the clutch pedal and so stalling trying to get over the kerb for my flat's carpark (total stall count in the MiTo: probably 9, though something like 6 of those were during the very first evening commute and so I claim they don't count). Nope, today I was good and used the handbrake and hill holder, and sat still rather than trying to match too-slow traffic in front.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

(no subject) [Posted on Tuesday, the 18th of November 2014 at 7:52 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, , ]
[What |annoyedannoyed]

You know the current state of desktop email is bad when you're seriously considering writing your own email client...

Though really, it's not the email side of things that's the problem - it's the complete worthlessness of the address book in just about every desktop email client. Back when I first upgraded to Windows 7 I tried several programs to find that they all have ridiculous limitations, broken import/export, or broken multiple account support.

All I want is an email client that can handle multiple email addresses per contacts (and I don't mean just a "work" and "home" address, I mean multiple), has an importer that actually works, and can speak to more than one IMAP account. Oh, and I want something that's current and nice-to-use - running Outlook Express in XP Mode is tempting, but a poor solution as it's woefully out of date. All of these are not only long-solved problems, but also used to work perfectly in Outlook Express. So why is it nothing today can do this?

This rant brought to you by starting to write an email and discovering that the Windows Live Mail contact importermangler had thrown away half the addresses in a group. Then having to play the "which of these identically named contacts contains this person's current email address" game to try and repair it. Sigh.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

This evening commute's scores [Posted on Monday, the 17th of November 2014 at 6:57 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |annoyedannoyed]

This evening commute's scores:

Drivers who absolutely have to be in front, speed limits be damned: 2
Drivers who objected to me not going as fast as they want: 1
Motorcyclists who objected to me not going as fast as they want: 1
Kamikaze cyclists: 3
Kamikaze drivers: 2

The drive home took twice as long as it normally does, due to someone doing something inadvisable on the Segensworth Roundabout meaning it took over quarter of an hour just to escape from the industrial estate. I'm not sure what it was they did - all I saw were flashing blue and red lights reflected in the cars on the far side of the roundabout (BBC Travel says "accident" - hopefully everyone's ok).

A side-effect of what this did to the traffic flow (everyone was blocked trying to get to the M27) meant that my exit was completely clear... right up until I discovered a set of drivers doing a u-turn across the wide hatchings in the middle of the road to escape their queue ("hmm he's turning right better lift off wait no he's stopping brake oh now he's clear").

Then there was the approach to the holiday inn roundabout with a cyclist without any lights weaving his way to somewhere through the slow traffic. Next the hill down to Titchfield with another cyclist (with a tandem bike - or was it two cyclists?), who decided to suddenly cross the road in front of me ("wtfBRAKE"). And finally the hill the other side, with another light-less cyclist heading up it - and level with a better-behaved cyclist who not only had lights, but was also on the path next to the road.

Sigh. Still, it's not all bad:

Well-behaved cyclists: 2
Drivers who kindly let me in front: 3
Today's NaBloPoMo post: achieved!
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Today's random encounter [Posted on Sunday, the 16th of November 2014 at 10:30 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[Where |The Gillies, Fareham, UK]
[What |surprisedsurprised]
[Who |The Raggle Taggle Gypsies [A Taste of Ireland - Disc 1]]

Today's random encounter while out on a late evening walk was turning a corner to see a deer lit up in the eerie grey light of my torch. There was a moment when we just paused and looked at each other, both standing in the middle of the path, before it disappeared off into the misty night.

The surprise is the location, not far from where I last saw one in the middle of Fareham. I was walking through the middle of The Gillies, a local green space surrounded on all sides by housing. One would have thought that it'd be too urban for deer...
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

The LJ Stat-o-matic returns! [Posted on Saturday, the 15th of November 2014 at 11:59 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, , ]
[Who |Deepest Blue - Deepest Blue (Jon Hopkins mix) [Chilled 1991-2008 - Disc 3]]

Because despite not taking part talismancer will still (justifiably) snark at me if I leave it at that, here's a bonus post! Admittedly it's a meme, but it's the traditional NaBloPoMo one, now back for a seventh year...

2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and now 2014:



Top commenters on boggyb's LiveJournal
1boggyb540540
2olego172172
3pleaseremove119119
4pewterfish6969
5tau_iota_mu_c6969
6ralesk6868
7omgimsuchadork6161
8talismancer5858
9Anonymous4343
10mirrordreams4242
11-80Collapse )

Total Commenters: 80
Total Comments: 1897
(not including 461 deleted and 4 screened)

Report generated Sat Nov 15 23:40:31 GMT 2014 by boggyb's LJ Stat-o-matic 1.1 (inspired by scrapdog's LJ Comment Wizard)



Compared to last year there's been very little change - two pairs in the top 10 have swapped position (ralesk and tau_iota_mu_c, Anonymous and mirrordreams), but in both cases only because one person in the pair has posted any comments.

As a minor aside, it took me only a couple of minutes to download the 150MB zip file for Eclipse, and maybe half that to extract it (then five minutes spent trying to work out why it wasn't starting - it'd help if the 64-bit package actually used the 64-bit Java runtime...). Back when I started university doing the same took much longer - Internet access wasn't anywhere near as fast, and both processors and disks were much slower. Modern computing is fast.

Interestingly my 7-year-old desktop is actually more responsive than the shiny new Lenovo T440 laptop $WORK has allocated. The laptop has a high-end Core i-something-or-other (probably an i5, probably 3GHz, definitely 8 cores), 8GB of RAM, and plenty of disk space. Nyx, the desktop, has an old Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.4GHz and only 4 cores), a mere 4GB RAM... and a crazy fast Plextor M5S SSD. It's no contest, really.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Whatever happened to all the blogging? [Posted on Saturday, the 15th of November 2014 at 11:28 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[Who |Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Tracers [Night Castle]]

Well, we're now half-way through NaBloPoMo and I appear to be the only one left still managing a dailyish blog post. talismancer isn't even trying at all this year (yes, I know he said he wasn't going to take part this year, but he's said that before...), omgimsuchadork spectacularly failed at day 2, and unless allegramente posts something in the next half hour or so that's her out as well.

Whatever happened to all the blogging?
Link[ One penny | Penny for your thoughts? ]

Driving craziness all round [Posted on Friday, the 14th of November 2014 at 11:37 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[Who |Path Of Destiny ~ Gargoyle [Path of Destiny.mo3]]

Y'know, I could probably fill the rest of NaBloPoMo just by blogging about whatever silliness I encounter on the roads each day. Today's clown was someone who sat very close on my back left quarter while I was going right at a roundabout, only appearing after I'd signalled left to take the next exit. Then at the next roundabout I followed the curve of it round to take the exit straight ahead, only to find that they'd snuck up on my right (fortunately they then continued round - I was half expecting them to charge past and take my exit)! I'm not sure where they got the impression that the roundabout was actually designed for two cars side-by-side as all entrances and exits on that one are only single lanes.

Then there's the SUV (it always seems to be a SUV) that made a last-minute decision that the lane I was in was the better lane for a set of lights and so changed lane right in front of me just as we reached the queueing traffic. I suppose it is actually the better lane if you're following the main road, as the other one just gets stuck in a queue on the roundabout itself. This is one of those things where local knowledge (or forward planning using Street View) helps as then you know well in advance where to be - for example, after a few trips to Horsham and back I now know exactly which lane to be in the M27 to sail through all the junctions around Portsmouth without getting caught up with filter lanes (inconvenient) or the M275 merger (downright evil).

Oh, and as proof that it's not just some drivers but all of 'em that're up to craziness, there's me trying to enter a roundabout from almost-stationary, in 2nd gear. While going uphill. Yeah, not quite enough torque for that to work well in this car... that said, I did make it without stalling (which would have been most unpleasant on the middle of a roundabout).
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Roundabouts and merging [Posted on Thursday, the 13th of November 2014 at 11:57 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]

No underwater roads today, just plenty of drivers who absolutely have to be first in any queue. You know the ones - they race past a queue of traffic, then force their way in when the two lanes merge. There's a pair of roundabouts where two lanes exit, but are quickly shrunk back down to one. I'm not entirely sure why as the road's wide enough for both lanes to continue - and in at least one case, they probably did originally (the space is marked off with hatchings).

I wonder if it'd make more sense to just turn the exit from the roundabout into a single lane? Certainly in both cases traffic queues almost immediately after the roundabout exit, but then starts flowing nicely once the two lanes have merged together. I suppose the downside is that the roundabouts are large enough that you'd have people racing each other to make the exit. That's something I have to watch out for on one roundabout in the morning - checking that nobody's snuck up my inside to try and take the exit I'm signalling for. Or in another case, making sure that nobody's snuck up my inside to not take the left-hand lane of the exit I'm aiming for the right-hand lane of...
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Crazyabout commuting [Posted on Wednesday, the 12th of November 2014 at 11:19 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]

Because of the crazyabout, my commute back form work requires me to approach from a specific direction in a specific lane otherwise I can't get into the car park behind my flat (well... I can, but the entrance is just the wrong side of a no-entry sign and I'd prefer not to accumulate any points on my shiny new licence). To achieve this I have to go round the crazyabout, then take the next exit off the A-road, head down and all the way round another roundabout, then back up a sliproad and merge right one lane (otherwise I'd end up going straight over the crazyabout and have to start all over again).

The sliproad is a bit steep and invariably has two lanes of stop-start traffic in what's marked as only a single lane, so it's good practice for hill starts and clutch control. So far I've only stalled a couple of times on it! I must admit, I do cheat a bit and let the Alfa's hill holder deal with it when properly on the slope (though I do have to watch out at the bottom and top of the sliproad as it doesn't activate on slight slopes - fortunately in my car I can hear a whine from presumably the brake assist pump when it's engaged).

Anyway, today's fun was at the middle of the roundabout on a rather wet and wild evening. Having dodged cyclists (including one twice - I passed him, then he passed me while queueing at a set of lights), people zipping past just before two lanes merge into one, stealth ninja motorcyclists, and a police car blocking a lane of traffic (who moved on just as the traffic approached him, causing no end of confusion to the drivers that were about to overtake him), I then navigated the crazyabout and dropped down into the second roundabout, turned a corner half-way round and discovered a good couple of inches of water stretching across the road. Fortunately I'd already slowed before reaching it as it's immediately before a set of hidden lights, but it was rather disconcerting to find the road replaced by a rather large puddle! I'll have to remember to watch out for that spot after heavy rain, especially if there's a storm surge - there's a river running through the roundabout which is just about tidal, and it's known to flood in extreme conditions.
Link[ 3 pennies | Penny for your thoughts? ]

Flying Officer James Tillet [Posted on Tuesday, the 11th of November 2014 at 9:22 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[Where |50.86777,-1.16751]
[What |thoughtfulthoughtful]

Britain is full of reminders of the two world wars, even beyond the war memorials in almost every town and village and the pillboxes that cover the landscape. Take this small, little-known monument I discovered many years ago while exploring the roads and paths north of Fareham...



F/O JAMES TILLET 33454
R.A.F 238 SQN.
K.I.A. NOV. 6TH 1940
NEAR TO THIS MEMORIAL

He died so young, so we
that are left, grow old
knowing only freedom. Let
not future generations
squander such a gift.
Link[ One penny | Penny for your thoughts? ]

Legend mode: complete! [Posted on Monday, the 10th of November 2014 at 11:47 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]

Well, I've now completed legend mode in Hyrule Warriors.

Hyrule Warriors legend mode spoilersCollapse )
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Smile! [Posted on Sunday, the 9th of November 2014 at 11:58 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[Where |Fareham]
[What |happyhappy]
[Who |Listening to the sudden rain outside]

As I've mentioned before, earlier this year I subscribed to Not Another Bill (because who doesn't like receiving random presents through the post?). This months present has just arrived... and inside were a rather nice pair of knitted fingerless gloves.

Funnily enough, only the other day I was thinking that what with the current cold weather I could do with finding some gloves - I've got a pair buried somewhere in this flat. They'd be especially nice for driving to/from work as it takes a while for the inside of the car to warm up.

That makes quite a few presents from Not Another Bill which have turned out to be genuinely useful. So far I'm using the chopping board (which arrived just as I was thinking I should buy a new one), a leather key protector, and a frameless picture frame (currently with a Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D poster) that puts me in mind of a Japanese scroll holder. Plus there's the geometric mobile hanging from the living room light, and the brass ruler and clips (which curiously came in a foil pouch). That said, not everything's being used - I never did find a use for the leather card holder, and the rock salt grater just isn't as handy as an ordinary (or not-so-ordinary - I have a one-handed magnetic one) salt mill. Perhaps I need to tidy the table so it can live there?
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Doctor Who series 8 finale [Posted on Saturday, the 8th of November 2014 at 11:59 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[Where |Horsham]
[What |sleepysleepy]

So, today was the Doctor Who series 8 finale, and it mostly turned out to be a good episode. A rather fitting one too, what with Remembrance Sunday tomorrow.

Spoilers!Collapse )
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Photos! [Posted on Friday, the 7th of November 2014 at 11:40 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, , ]
[Who |Enigma - Sitting on the Moon [A Posteriori]]

While driving back from work today I spotted a gloriously large full moon just rising over the horizon, partially obscured by scattered clouds. Since I was driving I couldn't really pause and take photos, so once I'd got back to my flat off I set off with camera in search of lunar photos...

Photos!Collapse )
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams [Posted on Thursday, the 6th of November 2014 at 11:42 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |curiouscurious]

While flicking through channels recently I happened across Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams on BBC 4 (if you're in the UK then it's still on iPlayer until next week). It's an absolutely fascinating programme about automata - these being (as the programme summary goes) machines designed to mimic and recreate life. They can be simple, like a cuckoo clock, or incredibly intricate, like this:

There should be an embedded video here. If not then try this link instead.


It's all the more impressive when you realise that the entire mechanism in the writer was designed and built by hand. None of this modern-day CAD or CNC milling - each cog would have been handcrafted. Oh, and it's even programmable (after a fashion) - different letters can be selected to be written. In some ways it's the pinnacle of clockwork automata.

The rest of the programme is equally intriguing - it shows both large automata (like the mechanical turk, known in computing circles for what it isn't) and pocket-sized clockwork with tiny mechanisms (like a small singing bird early on in the show). Interestingly it gives the turk as inspiration for something else entirely - the power loom. The programme doesn't follow that chain of events any further, which is a shame as the power loom eventually became the Jacquard loom and that with its punch-card programming was the inspiration for the early computers.
Link[ One penny | Penny for your thoughts? ]

Bonfire night filler time! [Posted on Wednesday, the 5th of November 2014 at 8:29 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[Who |Children of the Monkey Machine - Fallen Ascent (Tower of Zot) [Echoes of Betrayal, Light of Redemption: II Strife]]

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...


So this year it seems that Lewes will be burninating not one, but two effigies of Alex Salmond. No surprise there - it's become traditional for current politicians to feature in their celebrations. Except Alex Salmond has got wind of it, and is apparently blaming East Sussex County Council and/or the Tories for it.

This would be the ESCC where the Tories, while having the most councillors, don't actually have overall control (20 seats out of 49). And the independent bonfire societies that a few years ago burninated a David Cameron effigy holding a Nick Clegg puppet, to a resounding lack of complaints. So a typical research failure from the SNP, then?
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

A nifty feature and a Hyrule Warriors question [Posted on Tuesday, the 4th of November 2014 at 7:37 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, , , ]
[What |curiouscurious]

Today's nifty feature discovery is that the WiiU can take and upload screenshots. The nifty part is that you don't actually need Nintendo's tool to do so, nor is it limited to Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter.

Instead all you need to do is point the built-in web browser at the upload website of your choice, and when you browse for a file on the WiiU you get given a choice of the main screen or the gamepad screen. Pick one, and the WiiU uploads a JPEG of it. Simples!

This leads me to today's Hyrule Warriors question, which who is this and where (if anywhere) is the person in the middle from:

Slight spoilers for Hyrule WarriorsCollapse )
Link[ 2 pennies | Penny for your thoughts? ]

(no subject) [Posted on Monday, the 3rd of November 2014 at 11:18 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, , ]
[Who |Solidus Cave - Hyrule Warriors]

Oh, now that was a surprise.

Hyrule Warriors spoilersCollapse )
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Wii U! Zelda! [Posted on Sunday, the 2nd of November 2014 at 11:33 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, , , , ]

About a month ago I finally caved in and picked up a Wii U, along with Mario Kart 8 and Hyrule Warriors (as a "driving test passed" present to myself). It's not quite as wee a beastie as the original Wii - the console itself is a bit bigger, and the game pad is frankly enormous - but still just about fits in with everything else in the TV stack.

As an aside, GAME do seem to be amazingly bad at actually selling, well, games. I've tried two or three times over the past fortnight to buy the Wii U from the local store, and each time they've had no actual stock despite the shelves being full of game boxes. For added annoyance while they had a couple of nice bundles on offer, it's apparently impossible to place an order for them. Instead you have to order in the components in separately and then pay full price on the lot.

So instead I turned to game.co.uk, the online arm of the same company, wherein they not only had actual stock but had a better deal available and free courier delivery. The latter is less helpful than one might think as "courier" means "someone has to sign for it", but it's easy enough to get it delivered to work.

Anyway, the console. Setting it up was reasonably straightforward apart from the usual fun of getting it to talk to the router (the MAC address is surprisingly well-hidden), and it's quite nifty being able to wander off with the game pad and continue with the setup away from the TV. The only real downside is the ridiculously large system update needed that took a good hour or two to download (and my Internet connection's not that slow either). You'd have thought that since the console came out over a year ago it'd be loaded on at the factory, especially as I couldn't complete the Nintendo Network registration part of the setup without it. Still, eventually everything was updated and configured and I could finally play Hyrule Warriors on it, which is The Win.

Hyrule Warriors also has surprisingly competent AI-controlled allies. Normally AI-controlled players do no end of stupid things and generally fail at achieving the mission objectives, but here I was pleasantly surprised when part-way through one mission a Hyrule Captain (a very low-level allied leader) successfully captured a keep half-way across the map without any assistance. Later on in a different mission, I got given the objective "Protect Zelda from the ReDead Knights" followed almost immediately by the announcement "Zelda has defeated a ReDead Knight!". It's nice when your AI allies can be trusted to actually take care of themselves.
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

Vroom vroom [Posted on Saturday, the 1st of November 2014 at 11:39 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]

So, NaBloPoMo!

And I'll start with a real post, albeit a slightly delayed one: I have a car! As mentioned earlier it's not the normal choice for a first car... but normality is boring. So instead of getting a cheap little Peugot or VW Golf or something to run for a year or two, I got this:



Yes, it's an Alfa Romeo MiTo. Specifically the 2009 Lusso variant, with a 1.4l 95hp petrol engine. I picked it up from Paul (of P&K Autos in Newick) two weeks ago, and since then have done more than a few miles in it.

How I ended up with it was rather amusing - the Gnu and I had turned up at the garage and had spotted a Suzuki Swift in the showroom that looked like a good choice, when Paul mentioned that he had another car in his workshop that had only turned up the day before. This car, in fact, which he'd been saving to surprise me with. I was torn between the two - the Suzuki was quite a bit cheaper, and would have been much more convenient for driving around town... but quite simply the MiTo is an Alfa. Additionally while I've only done a little fast driving in my instructors Ford Fiesta (there's the short stretch of 60mph road we sometimes used), it always felt not entirely stable at that speed. allegramente's Alfa 147, on the other hand, would merrily accelerate up Bury Hill with no fuss at all and felt completely stable on the twisty turny A-roads that Sussex is full of.

So in the end despite the extra couple of grand and the more expensive insurance (though only slightly more - it's apparently considered a good first car by insurers), I plumped for the MiTo and haven't regretted it. Like the 147 it cruises along country A-roads and stays glued to the road on the bends, and is just plain fun to drive.
Link[ One penny | Penny for your thoughts? ]

Warning... incoming NaBloPoMo... warning... incoming NaBloPoMo [Posted on Sunday, the 26th of October 2014 at 7:37 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |curiouscurious]
[Who |Prophecy - Unsettling Nature (Miniboss Theme) [Relics of the Chozo]]

Slightly late this year, but at least it's before November!

Yes, November is fast approaching and with it NaBloPoMo, wherein instead of infrequent coherency you'll get frequent coherency. Or possibly frequent incoherency, depending on what time it is when I remember to post each day.

I've absolutely no idea who's taking part this year - omgimsuchadork hasn't posted for ages, talismancer's been rather quiet recently (though for all I know he might have already planned for NaBloPoMo), and my continual attempts to prod elemnar into blogging more never seem to succeed. Maybe I need to offer some sort of bribe or reward or something for successfully posting every day in November?

On the flip side though, not only did Nik of Brokencube finally rebuilt his blog several months ago (and then promptly fail at blogging - this is Nik we're talking about), but pewterfish of Glass Half Empty also ordered replacement parts for his long-dead web server box. Perhaps there'll be some new entrants this year...
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

What is a cloudberry, anyway? [Posted on Thursday, the 9th of October 2014 at 10:06 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|, ]
[What |hungryom nom nom nom]

Today's random discovery is that while a Kopparberg mixed fruits cider is a bad idea for making a gravy/sauce/whatever for the pork medallion recipe I posted last year, the Kopparberg cloudberry one that I picked up out of curiosity (what is a cloudberry, anyway?) works rather well. Especially with a decent dollop of clotted cream.

Come to think of it I've still got some cream left, along with a couple of apples and half a bag of crumble mix. Mmmm... apple crumble...
Link[ One penny | Penny for your thoughts? ]

(no subject) [Posted on Saturday, the 4th of October 2014 at 11:11 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[What |excitedexcited]

Having passed my test, today The Gnu and I headed off towards Lewes in search of a second-hand (or so) car for me. There's a garage that he's been using for ages so naturally we had a look there. What I was expecting to do was to look and see what Paul (the owner) has got in the showroom, poke around at one or two cars, and maybe not actually buy a car today but definitely have a chat with Paul about what he has got and what he can get soon (as I don't actually have a pressing need for a car, so I can wait for one I like rather than taking the first one I see).

Instead I put down the deposit today for a shiny '09-reg car, which should be ready in a couple of weeks once it's been serviced and had a MOT. It's a bit more than I was thinking of spending, and not the most practical choice for a first car... but at the same time it's not a bad choice and could work out very well. It's not even that expensive to insure - a quick check at compare the meerkat market gave similar prices to a 1.2l VW Polo or a 1.0l Nissan Pixo. Even an "is this a good first car" insurance checker says yes.

And besides, it's definitely the more fun choice of car :)

As to what car it actually is... well, I'm going to be cheeky and not say which one it is just yet. You'll just have to guess!
Link[ One penny | Penny for your thoughts? ]

Achievement unlocked [Posted on Friday, the 3rd of October 2014 at 4:51 pm]

boggyb
[Tags|]
[Where |Fareham]
[What |happyhappy]

I've got over a month's worth of posts I've been meaning to submit once I finally finish off the holiday posts and get the photos off the 3DS (my laptop memory card reader doesn't understand SDHC cards - most annoying), but I can see I'm just never going to get round to submitting them in a remotely timely fashion. So instead I'll just backdate them when I get round to it. And in the meantime...

Achievement unlocked: driving practical test PASSED!



Despite stalling the car coming out of a junction, catching the kerb with the front left when parking at the side of the road, and guessing wrong when picking a lane on approach to a roundabout (wanted straight on, guessed right-hand lane, and found it was marked right only, so had to go all the way round), I only clocked up 3 faults and no fails. Go me!
Link[ Penny for your thoughts? ]

navigation
[ viewing | most recent entries ]
[ go | earlier ]