Archive for the 'life' Category

Future proof: The future

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Hello anyone,

I haven’t actually dropped off the face of the earth… just practically. The last 6 months have been insane – I got my drivers licence, crashed another car, bought one for myself, and got a new job in and am shortly moving to Sydney. I’ve been kind of focused more on staying alive than updating this blog, which hopefully nobody will mind terribly much.

Speaking of the blog: New content from here on in is going to be a little different. My new job is an internal helpdesk role, not so much raw computer servicing, so there’ll be fewer random hacks and tweaks and funny screenshots. I still have a couple of how-to ideas kicking around in my phone’s todo list, and I’m working on a pretty in-depth review of my new GPS, but I’m not working so much with consumer gear anymore, so that’s probably going to be it for that stuff for a while.

In future I’d like to concentrate a bit on hardware reviews, overclocking, things like that. I’ll still be poking the driver guide and laptop page from time to time – those two projects are still getting a ton of traffic, so I’m not just going to close them down and walk away – but any updates will have to come from you, my readers.

I owe a massive apology to everybody who’s emailed me in the last few months, and not had a reply. I do read everything sent to me, but have been a bit too overwhelmed by life to give every message the attention it really deserves. I plan to reply to each and every email from now on.

Another apology and huge, huge thanks to everybody who’s kindly donated some of their own hard-earned money towards the cause of my laptop manual page. It’s really made all the difference in helping me keep up with that, and I am a terrible person for not thanking each of you individually, but again I’ll try to do better in future.

Some news for once

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Haven’t had a chance to update much lately – work’s been flat out, I’ve just had all four wisdom teeth out (with almost no pain, fortunately), and every other second of my spare time has been spent racking up hours on my Ls (nearly done!).

My laptop service manual page has nearly quadrupled the number of visits to my site – I’m getting close to 15,000 page views every month now, and that number is steadily increasing. To celebrate I thought I’d share a few oddities I’ve found while searching for various manuals.

This is the service manual for Radio Shack’s TRS-80 Model 100 computer. This was way before my time, and I don’t think I’ve actually seen one in the flesh.

This (click for full size) was the full list of screws used to hold one of these together. While modern, intelligently designed laptops are built with maybe four or five different sizes maximum, back in the day Apple liked to make things as hard as possible (I suppose they still do) with this mix of nine Torx screws. I’m glad I never had to disassemble a 550c.

These images are from the service manual to the original Mac Mini. Where some companies recommend a flat-head screwdriver, and Apple themselves have previously included handles, the official tool for separating the two halves of a Mini is a sharpened putty knife. They include instructions to make your own, or you can order the official part – number 922-6761.

Icecream pudding

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

1. Melt a 4 litre tub of vanilla icecream in a large saucepan.

2. Dice two large Mars Bars, Cherry Ripes, Crunchies and Turkish Delight bars. You can chop them as finely as you like, but it’s best when they’re nice and chunky.

3. Heap the chocolate bits into the saucepan with the icecream and stir until consistent.

4. Carefully pour the whole mixture into a large bowl lined with Gladwrap (to make getting it out easier later on) and smooth flat on top. Put the bowl in the freezer and let it sit. Upend onto a very large plate, and serve in slices. Voila – icecream pudding, an awesome Christmas treat for climates where Christmas day often approaches 40 degrees celcius.

Boot space in an early Smart ForTwo.

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

This isn’t really relevant to anything else on my blog, but in the interests of freeing information I thought I’d share this for Google to find later.

I was trying to find the exact dimensions of the boot space in an early model Smart ForTwo coupe – the 0.7L engine model made between 1998 and 2006 (I think it’s the 450, the new one built starting in 2008 is the 451), but could only find it quoted as “170 litres”.

I couldn’t find the actual numbers anywhere on the internet. One helpful forum thread suggested about five inches cubed, likely from someone who’s only seen pictures of the thing and immediately dismissed it as rubbish. I wound up emailing someone at the Mercedes Benz dealer in Sydney, who replied (on a Saturday!) with the information I was after.

So: The boot space in an old ForTwo is 95cm wide, 70cm tall and 50cm deep. So nearly a metre wide, and a bit taller than it is deep.

Just for fun, I have compared that to a 32″ widescreen TV on sizeasy.

Primitive technology

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

“Okay,” he said, “try it.”

So I tried it. I pushed the clutch pedal to the floor, started his car, pushed the gearstick left and upwards, and let out the clutch to see what’d happen.

And of course, the engine went into first gear with no power behind it whatsoever, and immediately stalled. A little orange light appeared among the instruments, asking me very politely not to do that again.

“Cool,” I remarked, grinning like an idiot with a new toy. Then settled down and mentally prepared myself for the first proper test run.

Clutch in, turn the key, clutch out and accelerate. The engine raced with the merest suggestion of movement from my right foot, causing me to panic, over-correct and pretty much completely lift off the pedal. The car stalled again, bucking sickeningly to and fro this time, before settling gently back into the dip in the ground of the empty car park we’d found for this experiment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rant: USB hard drives and warranty

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Thinking of buying a USB hard drive?

External USB hard drives at Officeworks.

Obviously you’re gonna go for the one with the longest warranty – three years will surely see you through your CompSci degree, yeah?

Hold on for a minute. There’s a point I’d like to make.

Hard drives are reasonably equal beings, nowadays; some tend to fail more than others, but it’s impossible to tell for years after they’ve hit the market, and nobody’s going to wait that long. They’re also a very competitive market, where prices fluctuate by mere dollars and cents every week, and when the pressure gets as high as it is now, they’re going to cut costs everywhere they can to stay in the game.

They can’t cut many corners with the drives themselves. I’m talking about the cheap crappy boxes they put them in.

Read the rest of this entry »

Out and about

Friday, October 30th, 2009

On the side of a machine that rents trailers at a servo:


Airport Krispy Kreme:

Krispy Fail

Guess the restaurant:

"Dude, what the hell did you have for dinner?"

What a dead pixel (and a very small portion of the fileserver at work) looks like:

When you make millions of something, one or two are bound to come out with toethumbs.

Found: source of fear of robots

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

I was drafting a bit of a rant when I got distracted by Once Upon A Win and relived numerous parts of my childhood instead. I also found the following video, which I’ve been looking for on and off for the better part of ten years.

It’s the bit at 58 seconds that always creeped me out the most. In contrast, I loved the utterly un-human robot that plays the piano.

captain’s log

Sunday, July 26th, 2009
  • I had two weeks off work. It was good.
  • I’ve majorly reorganised the laptop manuals. Whole sections were disappearing and reappearing as I sorted/renamed/uploaded them again, but it’s all done and should be a whole lot more readable now.
  • An independant game studio is remaking Mechwarrior. Check out the interview with the two guys behind it, and the teaser gameplay video they made. Looks perfect so far.
  • I bought a Bluray reader. Review coming soon. It’s weird.
  • I painted my room. It’s nice in here now.
  • Llama llama duck.

They shouldn’t fence at night

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

99% of the time, I hate living in a world where society is basically one giant ongoing parody of itself, but this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life.