Niall’s virtual diary archives – Friday 25th July 2008

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Friday 25th July 2008: 7.47pm. One month of summer break down, one month to go before I move back to Ireland with Megan! I was rejected from my PhD application today so it'll definitely be a Masters next year, still not sure which because most of UCC is on holiday so there is no progress. I suppose admittedly the closing date for Masters applications isn't until the 1st August.

I was ill for one week of this month so I lost valuable writing time, on the other hand it broke 50,000 words about a week ago which is over 150 (book) pages. Writing speed has sped right up now I'm no longer talking in terms of science, on good days I even generate about ten pages though usually I need to refine them for an hour or two next morning. It may actually be mostly done by September.

I got pissed off with that NAS box, those cheap boxes are too CPU underpowered so I sold it on eBay and just took the hit of £30. To replace it, I bought a dumb USB enclosure but got one with two bays (it's a Raidsonic Icy Box) with hot swap so you could theoretically just swap between lots of hard drives containing all your stuff. I got round to copying stuff onto the 1Tb hard drive - amazingly, everything I have ever burned to CD and DVD throughout my entire life of downloading amounted to just 660Gb with a further 200Gb on the Tivo and my desktop's hard drive. The Icy Box now has about 350Gb used - it'll last years before it's full, then I'll just slap in a second 2Tb or even 4Tb drive. It's a very nice enclosure actually, the hot swap really adds value, but then it should be given it cost £45.

I also upgraded the Tivo (which I originally built for Johanna about a year ago out of spare parts off eBay). It had originally been a year 2000 1Ghz Pentium III Compaq Deskpro EN Small Form Factor which to be honest did very well for such ancient technology, especially with an added PCI video card and USB2 expansion card though the IcyBox USB controller wouldn't play nice with the USB2 expansion card so we were stuck with shitty (but useable) USB1 speeds. In particular, that Compaq was very quiet and used very little juice, only 40W. However, I wanted something which could play hidef 720p h264 format video so we could watch Planet Earth in hires and surround sound, and finally the Intel Atom based D945GCLF uber-cheap motherboard became cheaply available in the UK at only £37. Coupled with a 2Gb RAM stick for £20 and a cheap slimline Foxconn desktop case + quiet PSU for £30, I had me a much improved Tivo box & central server for £100 delivered. I literally transplanted the Linux installation as-is by moving the hard drive over - Linux just booted and worked, except much faster - something which would have been impossible with the previous model, the D201GLY2 which really wasn't Intel based at all (it had a SiS chipset which doesn't play video well on Linux). I've put the old Compaq and video card on ebay, I should get £50-60 for them so it's only £40 spent for a significant upgrade.

I've also ordered a mini-laptop which is called an Advent 4211. In reality, it's actually a rebadged MSI Wind PC, also with Atom processor and with 2Gb of RAM it cost just £270 delivered. I'll probably hack a copy of Apple Mac OS X onto it. Chances are that next year I'll be spending an awful lot of time stuck in UCC in between lectures as we currently can't afford to run a car, so I might as well have something useful to keep me semi-occupied and maybe write some more stuff hopefully for money.

So that's about that roughly. One month of St. Andrews left to go. How interesting! Be happy!

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