Blog entries from April, 2007

update: SGI O2 and the 1600SW display

Sunday, April 29th, 2007 at 11:42 am

SGI O2Today I added photos of the SGI 1600SW display to the SGI O2 page.

I am now eagerly waiting for the flat panel adapter to arrive so the O2 can drive the display at the correct resolution and without using the multilink adapter.

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A block o’ wood is the solution

Saturday, April 28th, 2007 at 6:15 pm

In order to solve my urgent need for a working bicycle light I used a block o’ wood:

The block o' wood solution

If it goes well and it is part of my long term lighting solution I’ll replace the wood with plastic.

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Using the box and running out of power

Friday, April 27th, 2007 at 8:47 pm

Today was the first time that I used one of the new bicycle lockers to store my bicycle at work instead of keeping it at one of the empty desks inside.

My first issue was that, technically, my bicycle does not fit. When my handlebars come in contact with the sides of the locker my front wheel protrudes about ten centimetres which gets in the way of the door. Fortunately the walls are only thin sheet steel and flex enough for me to push it back enough to close the door. This is an interesting aspect of the design as my handlebars are the same width as the bars on most mountain bikes that are sold these days.

My other issue is a logistical one. Originally I toyed with getting the locker near the powerpoint so I could just continue to charge the batteries for my lights while still on the bike. I decided against that for two reasons; first because the access to that locker isn’t the best due to a pillar and second because that is where the smokers congregate.

Based on one days experience I’m thinking that the hassle of taking the batteries off in the morning and putting them back on at the end of the day is greater than the hassle of working around the support pillar. But then there is also the risk that my lights would not get charged if the single powerpoint was needed for something else, for example the builders that were using it for their saw the other day.

None of this matters in light of what I discovered fifteen minutes into my ride home. Even with a full charge the batteries for my lights now only last fifteen minutes, down from the fifty minutes when they were brand new three and a half years ago. I estimate that these batteries have gone through around 700 charge/discharge cycles plus four periods of stitting idle (and self-discharged) for a few months.

This means that I will need to do something with the batteries and I am leaning towards making a new battery pack instead of replacing the current cells. This is because I could make a new battery pack that is quick and easy to remove. It was a real fiddle getting my current batteries back on the bike as, along with a rubber strap, there is a loop of velcro that runs through a slot in one battery, between the frame and the drink bottle holder, through a slot in the second battery, under the frame back to the first battery. This is a pain to reattach as it must be thread under the drink bottle holder every time.

However my immediate concern is to, over the coming weekend, mount the addtional LED based front light that I have. Mounting the new rear light is less critical as I do have a working rear light.

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Boxes for bicycles

Friday, April 20th, 2007 at 7:21 pm

After well over a year of talk it looks like one of the final aspects of the renovation is nearing completion as I spotted the following from my window at work:

A truck with metal boxes

That is a truck reversing into the carpark under the building with what looked like six storage lockers, each holding two bicycles.

Later, when I was down in the carpark it looked like:

Bicycle storage in place

Which is storage for eight bicycles. One of which looks like:

The bicycle goes here

Sometime soon allocations should be made and keys distributed.

What about charging my lights? There is a power point located on the ceiling near the lockers so I may just get a locker near it and run a lead down. Another option is to get new batteries that are more convenient to remove from my bicycle and charge them at my desk.

Also, it is interesting to see that they chose this type of storage, not a shared cage as recommended by Bicycle Victoria in their Bicycle Parking Handbook.

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When ‘off’ isn’t off

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007 at 8:40 pm

As part of the push to reduce energy usage at work we were able to borrow an energy meter so we could see first hand the usage of various appliances.

The most common LCD display we have is the HP 1702. At full brightness it uses 30.2W while at half brightness it uses 21.4W. These numbers are not that surprising, neither is the standby usage of 1.7W. What did surprise us is that when the screen is ‘off’ it still consumes 1.6W. The power needed to monitor the soft power switch is only slightly less than the power needed to watch for a video signal and to light the orange LED.

The other displays we have (HP 1740 and HP L1706) were similar with off/standby values of 1.0W/1.1W and 0.8W/0.9W.

So should we bother turning these displays off? The only way to have significantly less power consumption than putting them in standby is to switch them off (or unplug them since the points in the partitions do not have switches) at the power point.

Next week we should be able to borrow the meter for longer which means that some of us will be able to take it home for personal tests.

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The unfinished posts

Sunday, April 15th, 2007 at 10:03 pm

One thing I forgot to mention when wondering about the purpose of this site was that there are a few posts that I started writing but have yet to finish.

Stay tuned for:

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Seventeen inches of legacy widescreen display

Sunday, April 15th, 2007 at 3:06 pm

On Friday the latest acquisition for my collection arrived, a SGI 1600SW display with a MultiLink Adapter that converts an analog or digital signal into the LVDS signal for the display.

Eventually this will become part of my SGI O2 once I get a flat panel adapter. This enables the display to run natively from the O2 without the MultiLink Adapter.

Anyway, this morning I picked up a DVD-D to DVD-D cable and a DVD-A to VGA cable at the swap meet which allowed me to test the multilink adapter and display with both digital and analog video signals. Apart from some small scratches and stickers on the bezel and a small dull spot on the screen itself it works nicely. It was the first time that I have been able to have a 16:9 DVD fill the screen…

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What am I trying to say?

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007 at 8:17 pm

A few months ago I asked the question: Why do I collect computers?

Recently I have been contemplating what the theme is for this blog. So far this month five of the six posts have been about cycling. Going back to March this was four of the eight posts.

Three and a half years ago when I started blogging I predicted that I would post about my computer collection (the posts), my current computers and software development processes.

The first two of those have been covered the most (this can bee seen in the tag cloud) but irregularly when I get a new item, rearrange things or simply get around to taking (and uploading) photos. Although I haven’t been posting about processes they haven’t been far from my mind as the processes we use at work are slowly evolving (mostly for the better).

So what am I trying to say?

To be honest I am still not sure. One direction I can take (resume is possibly the better view) is to it as a way of documenting things that I learn. By putting my conclusions out there there is a possibility that others will see them and respond which could, in turn, further the learning experience.

My post on Thomsett project management is an example this type of post. Even after more than three years this post appears in the first few results in a search for “thomsett sliders” and people are at least following the link. I wonder if I have helped anyone with their understanding because of this, even though the meat of that post is actually how Extreme programming conflicts with established project management techniques.

Where to from here?

Since I don’t know exactly what I am trying to say there is no clear next step. But talking about a next step does imply some sort of plan so that may be what I should do, make a plan. Unfortunately I still have issues with time management.

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The third ride of the long weekend

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007 at 3:13 pm

I went for another ride today. All the way down the Dandenong Creek Trail to Patterson Lakes and then up the southern end of the Bayside Trail to Mordialloc:

Jells Park to Mordialloc (via Patterson Lakes) @ Bikely.com

I then caught the train back to Glen Waverley, first going in to Richmond. After I got on the train I realised that I could have ridden from Ormond to Darling or East Malvern and only needed a Zone 2 ticket, not a Zone 1+2.

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Glass instead of a nail

Sunday, April 8th, 2007 at 11:09 pm

As I said yesterday I headed out to cover the path along the Eastern Freeway:

  • along the line from Glen Waverley railway station to Holmesglen railway station
  • around to Alamein railway station
  • up the Anniversary Trail through Camberwell to Kew
  • just after Burke Road leave the trail and head up through Stradbroke Park and Hays Paddock
  • all the way along the south side of the Eastern Freeway (technically the Koonung Creek Trail) to Springvale Road
  • along the north side of the Eastlink construction to the western tunnel portal

Glen Waverley to Donvale (the long way) @ Bikely.com

Originally my plan was to head back in towards the city along the north side of the Eastern Freeway but it was getting late and I didn’t feel like riding into the afternoon sun. Instead I simply headed down Springvale Road to get back to Glen Waverley.

But what went wrong? When I stopped at the drinking tap in Markham Reserve between Holmesglen and Alamein railway stations I picked up a small piece of glass in my rear wheel. I was on my way again fifteen minutes later after making use of my new tyre levers and my new pump. I now need to apply a third patch to what is now my spare tube.

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Fixing the chain and finishing that ride

Saturday, April 7th, 2007 at 4:58 pm

I took my chain up to the bike shop today and they confirmed what I had read online; that you cannot properly join a modern chain. Instead you need to use a replaceable connector so I got one of those.

I also picked up a new tool (the Topeak Hexus 16) as it has a chain tool. Also, the sides are removable to be used as tyre levers. This is important as with these ones I am less likely to repeat my previous mistake.

Once I refitted the chain I updated the route I entered into Bikely to represent where I actually rode:

Plenty River Trail and Mullum Mullum Creek (from Watsonia) @ Bikely.com

For now my plan is to finish off that ride tomorrow by covering the path along the Eastern Freeway, among other things.

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An intact chain is also essential

Friday, April 6th, 2007 at 8:36 pm

This afternoon I broke the chain on my bicycle.

Until that point it had been a pretty typical ride based upon my plan:

  • Train from Glen Waverley to Watsonia (via Flinders Street)
  • North along the (technically not yet open) bike path that was added as part of the upgrade to the Greensborough Bypass
  • All of the way down the Plenty River to what used to be the end of the path
  • Along the new section which runs around a golf course, over a new bridge and then through horse paddocks until it joins the Main Yarra Trail
  • North along the Main Yarra Trail to Westerfolds Park where I stopped to have some lunch (that I brought with me)
  • After Westerfolds Park there is a choice, cross over the Yarra River and head up the Diamond Creek or continue up towards Mullum Mullum Creek
  • Up Mullum Mullum Creek until the path ends at Old Warrandyte Road

At this point my plan was to ride along Old Warrandyte Road, Springvale Road and then Mitcham Road to have a look at the construction of Eastlink between the end of the Eastern Freeway and the western portal of the tunnels. And that is what I did. At least until I got onto Springvale Road.

Old Warrandyte Road from the Mullum Mullum Creek to Springvale Road is a long climb so I stuck to the footpath (the Melways says it is a bike path and in sections near roundabouts it actually is) in a low gear. It was here that I started to notice an irregularity while I was pedaling. I realise now that this must have been one side of the chain link working loose until it finally worked all the way out and separated.

Fortunately a friend was able to drive out to pick me up but while I was waiting I continued walking along Springvale Road which allowed me to take some photos of the Eastlink construction from the end of the Eastern Freeway.

I ended up riding 36 kilometres at a fairly leisurely pace which took me just under two hours. I could have doubled that as I was considering riding along the path beside the Eastern Freeway to Burke Road and back.

An ironic aspect to this is that back when I got my current bicycle (almost exactly two years ago!) I also picked up a multi-tool so I could make adjustments or repairs while on a ride. I chose not to get the next model up as I didn’t see the need for the chain tool…

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Missed It By… THAT Much!

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007 at 8:26 pm

Last night I spotted a NeXTstation on eBay. It had a starting bid of AU$150 and a buy it now price of AU$250. As it was only the unit, keyboard and mouse (no display) all I did was add it to my watch list.

Tonight when I got home I was prepared to opt for the buy it now option with the intention of getting it operational at a later point. Unfortunately I was too late as this is what someone else did.

This would have been a nice addition to my collection, especially considering how rare they are in Australia.

I did have a quick look for NeXTstations from international sellers. There are a couple of complete systems but they are way out of my price range, and that is before considering the shipping costs…

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Ride idea: Plenty River Trail and Mullum Mullum Creek Path

Monday, April 2nd, 2007 at 11:30 pm

Quite some time ago Damien and I caught the train out to Watsonia so we could ride down to the bottom of the Plenty River Trail, up the trail past Greensborough, west along the ring road and then up and down the Darebin Creek Trail. Recently I found out that the link between the Plenty River Trail and the Main Yarra Trail was nearing completion.

One the link is complete the following ride would be possible:

  • Train to Greensborough
  • down the Plenty River Trail, including the new section
  • up the Main Yarra Trail to Westerfolds Park
  • instead of tracing a previous trip up to Eltham and Diamond Creek continue along the Yarra to the Mullum Mullum Creek
  • head up the Lower Mullum Mullum Creek Trail
  • at the end of the trail head south down Springvale Road to the Eastern Freeway and towards the city
  • or continue down Springvale Road all the way home or catch a train at Nunawading.

I mapped it out on Bikely which tells me it would be at least 24 kilometres. Based on previous experience a realistic distance would be 30 kilometres which doesn’t take into account any detours I make.

Now I need to give the Banyule City Council a call to find out if the link is complete as is indicated by the wikipedia article on the path, and if so it is an option for the upcoming long weekend.

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