Blog entries from May, 2008

Returning to Intel (and trying Vista)

Sunday, May 25th, 2008 at 03:13pm

Yesterday I upgraded my Windows desktop with a new processor (a shiny Core 2 Duo, motherboard, RAM, hard drive, DVD burner and power supply (actually swapping around the one I got for my linux box). What didn’t change was the case, the second hard drive and the TV tuner card.

The first significant thing about this is that I have been running the previous processor and motherboard, an AMD Athlon XP 2600+, for almost five years (23 July 2003 to be precise). I can remember a time when computers moved so fast that they were pretty much unworkable after a few years. This shows that to actually do things (except the latest games) you do not need the latest and greatest hardware.

The second significant thing is that I also made the jump up to Vista. After I turned off some of the bigger annoyances (google is your friend for this) it appears to be quite workable. On the old system this would have been a nightmare.

When I stopped to think about it I realised that while my linux boxes have all had Intel processors (Pentium 90, Pentium 233 MMX, Pentium 3 667, Celeron 1.7, and the current Pentium 4 2.4) this is the first Intel processor in my Windows desktop since the first computer I bought on my own, a Pentium 133 in 1996. After that I had a single Cyrix processor (166) followed by a series of AMD processors (K6-2 300, K6-2 250, Duron 650, Athlon XP 1800+, to the Athlon XP 2600+).

I also have to decide what to do with the old components which are enough to make a perfectly workable system. My previous method of using them to upgrade my parents computer doesn’t work since I made their computer an ex-lease small form factor desktop.

I am also now thinking about whether to upgrade Preston, my linux server, as well. In addition to the performace increase, properly supported SATA ports will be a necessity the next time I get around to upgrading the storage.

Meanwhile I will return to installing programs, but only as I need to use them.

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A faster 28mm lens

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008 at 09:21pm

I got another lens today. A secondhand Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM that I intend to use instead of the 28mm f/2.8 that has proved to be quite good for candid shots in low light.

The f/1.8 lens should perform much better, both in that it can let through more light and that the ultrasonic motor will mean it will focus faster and more accurately.

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Two different 50mm lenses

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008 at 11:33pm

Last week contained both a Perl Mongers meeting and a Web Standards Group meeting. I have just finished sorting through the photos I took and have uploaded the best (not so much for WSG) to Flickr.

Wednesday night was Perl Mongers at a new location, across the road from Federation Square. Wes brought along his 50mm f/1.4 lens which is a significant improvement over the 50mm f/1.8 lens that I had used previously.


Melbourne Perl Mongers (May 2008) – a set on Flickr

(That raspberry wheat beer was very popular…)

On the Thursday night was a WSG meeting, tied in with the Web Directions South conference, where I was back to borrowing the 50mm f/1.8 lens. There was hardly any light and the lens (and camera) really struggled.


Web Standards Group (May 2008) – a set on Flickr

While most of the photos look ok when small, some are really bad when the large versions are viewed. Adjusting the light levels just made it worse.

The upshot of all this is that I have more practical experience with different lenses and I now know that in the situation where a 50mm lens (on a crop body) is suitable, I should really get the f/1.4 over the f/1.8. A pity about the massive price difference.

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The Suns have been listed

Sunday, May 18th, 2008 at 10:09pm

As I stated last week, all of my Sun hardware is now listed on eBay. One big listing for all of the actual hardware from Sun and another listing just for the SPARCplug.

I looked back through my eBay emails and worked out a rough total for what I paid to collect all of the items and used that for the buy it now price. So if I am lucky there is someone out there who wants it all right now and I can make my money back, otherwise it would be good for it all to go to someone who can use it.

One side note is that the amount I paid for the SPARCplug is the same as I paid for all the Sun hardware combined…

As for updating the photos for my site? I didn’t get around to that as I was unusually busy this week as there was both a Perl Mongers meeting and a Web Standards Group meeting, both of which I need to sort through the photos from and post about the lenses that I used. Hopefully I get around to that tomorrow which still leaves me the remainder of the week until the listings end to update the photos.

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The Suns are going to go

Sunday, May 11th, 2008 at 07:14pm

This afternoon I decided to resume uncluttering my computer collection, starting with the systems I have from Sun. The last time I did this was for the IBM PCs and the IBM PS/2s quite some time ago.

So what Sun items do I have?

  • Two SPARCstation 5 units
  • One SPARCclassic unit
  • One SPARCstation IPC unit
  • A 17″ display
  • An external speaker for a SPARCstation 10
  • Four 411 series external cases; two CD-ROMs, one hard drive and one tape drive
  • a mix of keyboards and mice

Although it isn’t an actual Sun machine, the SPARCplug is in the same boat and will be culled as I have yet to do anything with it.

By this time next week I should be finished taking any updated photos and it will all be listed on eBay. As a single big listing or over a number of listing is yet to be determined.

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Upgrading to WordPress 2.5.1

Saturday, May 10th, 2008 at 05:41pm

For quite some time my preference has been to wait until the first maintenance release of something before using it. I have found that being an early adopter for something that I just want to use can be extra work, even if it is just having to upgrade again the to maintenance release.

Once I heard that there would be native tag support in WordPress 2.3 I wanted to upgrade to that, but the talk of what would be available in WordPress 2.5 made me want to wait for that. Two weeks ago when 2.5.1 came out I knew it was time to start looking into upgrading.

Last weekend I jumped in and upgraded, where I am using WordPress as a publishing system, to 2.5.1. This was reasonably straightforward as I, when setting it up at the start of the year, kept my customisations within the theme and plugins. As with all changes I tested it out first on my local server before performing the change on the live sites.

Based on this success I started looking into upgrading this site. Because I was using the now redundant Ultimate Tag Warrior and had made some non standard customisations I expected it to be more work.

And it was.

After some research and experimentation during the week I was ready to upgrade the live site this afternoon. Which, as you are reading this, was successful.

So what did I do?

  • Update the WordPress files (and remove ones that are no longer needed).
  • Update FeedSmith, Markdown, Subscribe to Comments and WP-Cache to the latest versions.
  • Clean up my own plugin to link to other posts (heavily based on Easy Post-to-Post Links).
  • Export live database and import into local server (changing two options to have local hostname).
  • Run the upgrade script.
  • Import the tags from UltimateTagWarrior through admin interface.
  • Replace UTW_* calls in my theme to equivalent core functions. (I did briefly try out the UTW Theme Compatibility Thing plugin but decided against it)
  • Double check all settings
  • Test.
  • Test.
  • Upload files to live server.
  • Run the upgrade script.
  • Import the tags from UltimateTagWarrior through admin interface.
  • Double check all settings
  • Test.

Which brings us to now and I am happy with the upgrade and can move onto something else in my long list. One of which is running more of this site through WordPress instead of the current mix of WordPress, static files and the custom code for my computer collection.

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