Server Upgraded 
Monday, 29 June, 2009, 14:34
Posted by Administrator
Many thanks to Mike Lee for letting me know the server hosting my site (among others) has been upgraded :)
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Michael Jackson's dead 
Friday, 26 June, 2009, 01:47
Posted by Administrator
You've all read, heard, and seen the news: Michael Jackson is dead. I just watched the coroner's van containing his body pull into the coroner's office.

It's all kind of surreal. When my age was a single-digit number I remember listening to all sorts of Michael Jackson songs -- Thriller, Bad, Beat It, Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough, Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', Billie Jean, P.Y.T. ... the list goes on and on.

Needless to say I stopped listening to that particular style of music altogether, but I didn't change the station when a Michael Jackson song came on the radio. I guess it just stuck with me regardless of what I happened to be doing or where I was. Over time, though, the songs weren't played as frequently and I didn't exactly go out of my way to listen. Despite this, Michael Jackson's music and influence was ever-present.

The media attention, the trials, the baby dangling, all that stuff made him the butt of many jokes, but behind all of the social awkwardness was an icon, an influential figure, and an incredibly talented performer. I know you have a white glove somewhere, so put it on, grab your crotch, and yell "OW!" in tribute. Long live the King!
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wifi cell phones are cool 
Friday, 19 June, 2009, 02:58
Posted by Administrator
I've never done this one before. I've posted on my website from any number of devices, but never my own cell phone. So, here it is - post! Now, if only the wifi antenna were just a little stronger...but I guess you can only do so much with the space a Nokia E51 gives you.
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The Toasty Apple 
Wednesday, 17 June, 2009, 12:30
Posted by Administrator
During the day I like to watch Daisy via my MacBook Pro's webcam. It's really a simple setup -- I set up a Skype account specifically for "Puppy Cam" use and added my MacBook Pro to my LogMeIn Free account. Then, from work, I connect to the MacBook Pro via LogMeIn, dial my Skype account from the laptop, and enable video sharing.

The problem is that the laptop appears to get quite hot if I'm connected to it all day. It's no wonder -- Skype uses a ridiculous amount of CPU time when I'm sharing audio and video. As I type this, it's using between 64.5 and 80% of the system's dual-core CPU. I stream classical music for her using iTunes, and this uses about 4% of the CPU, which isn't much but you're still looking at 84% of CPU usage. This drove the temperature quite high -- north of 80 degrees C, I found out -- which is quite unhealthy for a laptop CPU.

I did a quick Google search and found that the acceptable operating temperature range for a MacBook Pro under load is 120 to 190 degrees F, but I'm pretty sure letting the laptop run for extended periods of time at the top end of that range is frowned upon. At the very least, I don't like doing that.

In response to this unhealthy behavior, I downloaded and installed the latest version of smcFanControl (free download at http://www.eidac.de/). This application allows a user to manually set their Mac's fan speeds. I noticed that the temperature jumped quite quickly when I started the video stream and, in response, I started increasing the fan speed. Bumping it up from 1800 to 2500RPM made an immediate difference, dropping the temperature from a toasty 78C to 72C which, while still quite hot, is much nicer. I turned the RPMs up to 4500 and this is keeping the processor at an acceptable 60C (140F) while introducing minimal fan noise into the audio stream.

Cranking the fan up to maximum speed, 6000RPM, results in marginally cooler temperatures, but not cool enough to justify running the fan at full speed all day. After 10 minutes of running the fan at max speed, the processor cools down to 56.1C -- definitely better than 60C, but much louder than 4500RPM.

You all knew I was a nerd, but you didn't know how far it went :)
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Defenestration Part Two 
Tuesday, 16 June, 2009, 21:17
Posted by Administrator
Back on 1st December I commented that Dell Latitude D830s should be thrown out the window. Today, my thoughts are the same. The fact that we have very little trouble with their replacements, all Latitude E5500s, reinforces this sentiment. It's scary that these came from the same company and are so different.

The quest to load these things with a stable operating system continues. Interestingly enough, we're using the same system on the E-series machines as we did on the D-series ones, along with the same updates and software packages. Softwarewise the laptops are identical (apart from hardware drivers), yet the E-series ones are so much nicer.

That said, I'd still take a horrifically beastly desktop over a fast laptop any day of the week. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned (look at me, talking about computers and calling myself old-fashioned) but I like raw power and upgradeability in my computer.
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