August 2006 Archives

Where the heck is this?


While browsing through google, I found this: View from a motorcycle as it flies through city traffic..

It seems as though the bike is a Honda Fireblade, with the front wheel being allergic to staying on the ground and all, but what I really want to know is where is it? It looks really familiar: either the middle east, or Asia. The traffic is a little too sensible for the Middle East, though, and there aren't enough smaller bikes for Asia. Is it Eastern Europe?



Memory usage graphs


the memory usage graphs are working now, and you can easily see the impact of going from 512Mb to 2G on the monthly graph. Notice all the activity in the swap!

Gel-Filled Bras


According to the latest travel guidelines, we are all now encouraged to pack a gel filled bra before we get on an airplane.

I'm wondering precisely where I'm supposed to find a gel-filled bra the next time I fly to Australia. There ain't no Victoria's Secret shop in Hong Kong International Airport.

Perhaps this is a plot by the Bush administration to increase the turnover of the Victorias Secret chain. Are we about to start seeing them near the check-in desks of all major airports?

It'll also enhance the revenues of divorce lawyers world wide as husbands try and explain precisely why they were travelling with a bra not in their wife's size.

Tonight's theory


The theory that is mine: Both George W. Bush and Tony Blair lost their luggage when flying on a commercial airline at one point and are now determined to crush commercial air travel.

Either that, or they both have shares in executive time share private jets and want to destroy the competition.

History Lessons

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Strange choice?

Is it just me, or does anyone else find legislator "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung's attire somewhat ironic?

A T-shirt featuring revolutionary Che Guevara, whose main achievement in life (apart from being photogenic) was assisting the overthrow of a democratic government in Cuba to see it replaced by a single-party state.

SIMON LUDLOW, Discovery Bay

Perhaps you should learn some history, Mr. Ludlow:

(OK, you have to take Wikipedia with a grain of salt these days, thanks to the constant vandalism from partisan interests.)

As I said here, I've upgraded the webserver. Along the way, there's lots of things which need fixing.

Today's project as go get the onboard graphics on the new motherboard (a ConRoe945G-DVI) working in dualhead mode with one desktop spanning two 17" monitors.

The onboard graphics is an Intel GMA950 chipset, capable of powering two outputs (one DVI, one VGA) and should, in theory, be easily capable of dualhead.

Without too much ado, here's the xorg.conf file for i810 powering two Eizo L685 LCDs. It's pretty straightforward, the only critical part is the "Device" section:

Section "Device"

Identifier "Device0"

Driver "i810"

BusID "PCI:0:2:0"

Screen 0

Option "MonitorLayout" "DFP,CRT"

Option "DisplayInfo" "False"

Option "VideoRAM" "32768"

Option "DRI" "True"

Option "XvMCSurfaces" "6"


Section "Device"

Identifier "Device1"

Driver "i810"

BusID "PCI:0:2:0"

Screen 1

Option "MonitorLayout" "DFP,CRT"

Option "DisplayInfo" "False"

Option "VideoRAM" "32768"

Option "DRI" "True"

Option "XvMCSurfaces" "6"


That MonitorLayout option is the critical element. Don't put "CRT,LFP" as most of the advice says, because LFP is only for directly attached flat panels (i.e., laptop displays). Also, one of the options is CRT because of the output from the graphics card, not the input to the monitor.

UPDATE: And you know something? the 2D quality on the CRT head is *far* superior to the image quality on the CRT output from any nvidia card. It's basically indistinguishable from the DVI head, and both are right up there with the old Matrox card for quality. If you want a decent dual-head motherboard, this one really does have it right out of the box.

Yet another brain transplant


...but at least this one wasn't from the jar labled "Abbie, uh, something".

As you can see from the PHPSysinfo page, the web server (which is also my primary workstation) is now powered by the latest processor from Intel, the Core 2 Duo. This makes it far more powerful than the dual PIII processors which were powering it, and it's now possible to put much more memory inside. Currently there's 1 Gigabyte, with space for 3 more.

The changeover wasn't entirely painless - there's always some fiddly thing which can hold things up, but once I sorted out the disks (two still need to be connected), it was OK.

From a Linux point of view, there are some interesting points:

  • A standard SMP i686 kernel will recognise both cores and Just Work.
  • An IDE RAID card overrides the motherboards IDE0 and IDE1 ports.

Fear Mongering


As this thread on the recent terror alert at Heathrow on Making Light ably points out:

This threat is bullshit. You are being lied to. This alert happened on the day that it did for simple political reasons. Jack Ried wants his liberty stripping bills to pass in the UK. Dick Cheney desperatly need to keep Congress from seriously investigating him. That's why Bush and Blair talked about this Sunday, and Dick Cheney called the UK on Monday.

UPDATE: from Kung-Fu Monkey:

To be honest, it's not like I'm a brave man. I'm not. At all. It just, well, it doesn't take that much strength of will not to be scared. Who the hell am I supposed to be scared of? Joseph Padilla, dirty bomber who didn't actually know how to build a bomb, had no allies or supplies, and against whom the government case is so weak they're now shuffling him from court to court to avoid the public embarassment of a trial? The fuckwits who were going to take down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches? Richard Reid, the Zeppo of suicide bombers? The great Canadian plot that had organized over the internet, was penetrated by the Mounties on day one, and we were told had a TRUCK FULL OF EXPLOSIVES ... which they had bought from the Mounties in a sting operation but hey let's skip right over that. Or how about the "compound" of Christian cultists in Florida who were planning on blowing up the Sears Tower with ... kung fu?

This Is London


Listen to BBC Radio on yer Mac.

Time to catch up on The Archers....

If this isn't a T8...


After last week's fiasco, when we basically had an almost direct hit by a Typhoon, the observatory didn't hoist the T8 because it only hit the The Mother Chucking Airport, there's another one on the way:

(What was happening out on the western islands was closer to a Typhoon 10 - Direct hit, with 200kph+ sustained winds.)

typhoon track from (click on the image for live updates, which probably won't work after the typhoon has passed.)

If this doesn't result in a T8 on Friday, what will?

UPDATE: Bugger, it's turned south and faded away.

watchin' the keynote..

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(OK, I'm a bit late - I do have to work for a living.)


Why are there two iSights on that display?

wwdc image

(Probably because there's two macs under the desk, just in case one fails, which did seem to happen.)

Mac Pro with Xeon (Woodcrest). It takes FB-DIMM RAM, so it'll be expensive, even by Apple's standards. Quad cores in all of them, not just the top model. That's good. Four drives, dual optical.

Nice to see Desktop Mac at 3Ghz after all this time.

The connection is very uneven. At least the Apple store is working. Quad 7300GT? That's a very strange configuration. Why not dual/Quad SLI 7600GT or SLI 7900GTX? I think the motherboard may be capable of it, as it has four full length PCI-Express slots, one of which is double wide for a graphics card. If you don't mind losing a slot for the cooler, it looks like you could fit two top end Nvidia cards in there.

Of course, they may all be treated as separate cards rather than as SLI units, i.e. you wouldn't be able to get all the cards to render one scene in parallel like you can on some Nforce chipsets for PCs. Still, multiple graphics cards with one being used as a physics engine sounds doable: Hyper realistic flight sims?

...Connecting...(how's about upgrading that pipe to Cupertino?)

Is there some rule at apple, that anyone who shares a stage with Steve must be a less accomplished public speaker?

The new Xserves look pretty cool too: basically the same spec as the Mac Pro.

wwdc image

Did they just find the least stylish Frenchman on the planet?

Aside: Personally, I think Vista is going to be a complete disaster along the lines of WinME. There's going to be this awful MS product directly competing with OS X 10.5 (or 10.6) and Ubuntu Linux, both of which will just work on your hardware (both being X86_64, although for OSX, you'll need to buy your well-specified machines from Dell, while for Ubuntu, Dell and Compaq will be falling over themselves to sell machines which aren't full ninja gaming rigs (which is what you'll need for Vista) with Ubuntu (or other Linuxes) installed. If we see recent versions of Office for OSX and Linux, it will be a sign that the OS team in Redmond have completely lost the confidence of the rest of the company.

Time Machine looks awesome, although its only file versioning with a stupendous user interface. Talk about presentation skills! Vaxes used to have this sort of thing in the 80's, but far less spectacularly.

Oh yeah, and two Macs under the curtain, so that failures don't show up. An app failed, the demo-er tried to kill it, then switched to another mac.

Spaces: that's just virtual desktops. My kids know how to use virtual desktops with Linux, and Linux has had that feature for years. Since at least 1999.

[Next Day] - much better bandwidth, and it's a much better experience.

Isn't stationery with email something that Outlook was doing years ago? (And increasing the bandwidth required for email in the process.)

The integrated To Do service looks really interesting. That's definitely aimed at corporate users, as is the multi-user calendaring.

The New iChat is amazing! Live video backdrops on video conferencing! live video effects!

wwdc image

Official policy of HKU?

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From todays SCMP:

What global warming?

Can I take it from yesterday's Monitor column that arch sceptic, myth debunker, fat-cat exposer, government shamer and all-round good chap Jake van der Kamp has tossed his lot in with the scientists who believe humans are causing global warming ("Stop throwing yuan into a leaky bucket and use proper water pricing", August 3).

Hold steady, Jake. The power of your incisive arguments is that you almost always draw upon hard data. Aside from the end-of-the-world-is-nigh gang, a huge number of good scientists out there, myself and many colleagues included, aren't joining in with the hullabaloo. When the data is in on global warming (and I don't deny that a major effort should be made to collect it), we'll let you know.

In the meantime, you might want to check the internet for an article by Professor Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia. It's entitled "The problem with global warming is that it stopped in 1998".

Otherwise, keep up the good work.

JASON ALI, Sheung Wan

I wonder is the letter writer above Dr Jason R. Ali, the Assistant Professor of the Department of Earth Sciences of Hong Kong University?

Bob Carter is a thoroughly discredited source. He cherry picks his data and is sponsored by various vested interests in the energy producing sector. See:

If the letter writer does indeed work for HKU, which is a publically funded institution, surely us taxpayers have a right to academic staff who are more than paid right-wing shills, or who parrot the views of such?

I'd really like to know if Dr Ali (if indeed it was he) was demonstrating the official University stance on Global Warming.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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