Thursday, June 28, 2018

Learning Golf

I remember going to the driving range in high school.

I don't remember hurting the next day, but maybe I did.

Bought a set of clubs.  Been to the driving range once.  Still sore.

Apparently, I'm 56.  My doctor says that's young.  My muscles say other things..... :)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Been a while.  Reading Disrupted.  Read several tech startup books.  Maybe I should write about my be interesting.

Would probably have to change protect both the innocent and the guilty.

Would it sell?  No F*cking idea.  Maybe.

Silicon Valley Atlantic, has a nice series ring to it.....we'll see.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Is A Hexaputer Not A Hexaputer?

When it is a Pentaputer!

The electricity here is, to be kind, capricious.  A few weeks ago, I came home to discover the power had been out.  I turned my computer on, only to be greeted by a message indicating that 5 cores had been activated.

My first response was WTF?

My second thought was "Well, this just happened out of the blue, so maybe it will magically unhappen".  

That turned out to be wishful thinking.  Subsequent reboots displayed the same message.

My next thought was that perhaps by overclocking my AMD 1100T to 3.8 GHz I'd fried one of the cores.  It has been hot here.  I tried turning the multiplier (and thus the clock speed) down.....nope....still only 5 cores active.  So I set it back to 3.8GHz and thought about what to do next.

Since I built this system myself, my next thought was "That's a cheap CPU, I'll buy a new one."  Good luck with that.  Hen's teeth seem to be more abundant.

Then I discovered that the ASUS motherboard I use can, in some circumstances, rather whimsically decide to turn a core off.  Digging deeper into the BIOS I discovered that, indeed, one of the cores (core 3 actually) was off.

So I turned it back on, and rebooted......and....The Hexaputer LIVES.....OK, it wasn't quite that dramatic, but so far it seems to be holding up.

A little more research suggested that core unlocking and auto CPU activation were a bad combination for the 1100T.  It doesn't have any cores to unlock, so I turned that feature off and switched core activation to manual, all on.  We'll see how that holds up.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not looking forward to Windows 8.  When Vista came out, and I had a chance to see it in action, I declared this a 'Vista Free Zone'.  I've grown rather fond of Windows 7, it mostly behaves and generally doesn't annoy me, and though the interface was different from XP, it wasn't that big a difference.  Microsoft seems, lately, to be really into gratuitous interface changes and determined to cutoff backward compatibility.

So far, I think I'll wait for the ganja smoke to clear, folks to sober up and return to their senses, and maybe Windows 9.

The next post will talk about those two droids I've been looking for.....I'll introduce you to G-7JB and S3A4.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Google Nexus 7

Remember the slogan "I'd walk a mile for a Camel"?

I walked about 10 miles for a pack of 20 Marlborough cigarettes once.  All downhill.  Long story.  I was 14, trapped in a remote campground with my parents (this was no KOA, there was no store nearby), and my brother kept insisting he'd seen a store, 'probably just around this next corner'.  At least we were able to hitch a ride back up the hill.  And yes, I got my smokes.

Recently, I went looking for a Google Nexus 7 tablet.  There were none to be had in Halifax, so I decided to drive to New Glasgow.  By the time I got there they were sold out.  The Staples across the street didn't have any either, but they told me the Staples in the next town up the road (Antigonish) had 6.  After confirming one had been set aside for me, I hit the road once more (in for a penny).

The net result is I got my Nexus 7.  The evidence (i.e. my odometer) suggests I'd drive 452 km for a Google Nexus 7.  Yep.  It was quite the evening.

So far, I quite like it.  I've got a few free apps, and a couple low cost paid ones.  Claiming the Google Play credit was fairly simple.  I had to enter the credit card info via the tablet.  I'd entered the same card via a browser earlier, but that was insufficient.  Re-adding the same credit card had no ill effects and shook loose the $25 credit.  No problemo.

Accessories are in short supply.  For the moment I've got the Targus 7" generic case.  This has bands for the corners (which I'm not crazy about) but they're re-enforced to make them stiff, so the elastic doesn't press the power button on the upper right side. It is much better than nothing.

The only problem I've experienced to date is a line down the middle of the camera.  It wasn't there to start with, and so far shows no signs of going away.  It doesn't interfer with the face unlock functionality, and it isn't urgent, but I'll probably send it off to get it fixed at some point.

I haven't rooted this one.  Maybe I'll buy a second one and root it.  We'll see. 

I've downloaded the Android SDK at home and started playing with that.  Not too hard to get it going and the online tutorials are pretty good.

This is my first foray into the tablet world.  I didn't have a wireless router here, so I bought one of those at the same time.  Staples had the DLink DIR-825 on for $79, so I bought one of those.  It is dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) but the Nexus 7 only recognizes the 2.4GHz band.  So far, it too is working well.

I have a lot more testing to do with it, including using Skype.  More later.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Practical Advantages of Hexaputing

Several people have asked me, after they've read or heard about the Hexaputer, what, exactly, I need 'all that power' for.

Here is a rundown of tonight's activities:

25 Firefox windows, most with multiple tabs, some with more than 10.
2 Google Chrome windows, each with a few tabs
VLC - VideoLan player playing successive one hour episodes of some of my favorite TV (on monitor 2)
1 Adobe CS4 processing, one at a time, multiple 16MP raw images from a recent photo shoot on monitor 1.
Various other programs and utilities running.

And, like my first 750cc Yamaha Virago, none of these programs realize they're carrying a passenger.......nothing waits for anything else. The video is very smooth. The pictures open just as quickly as if that was all I was doing. I am probably browsing, roughly, 300 websites (no, not all at once, but it takes me a while to read the material, and I'm always opening new links), enjoying the smooth clean video, and at least taking the first steps needed to process the 100 RAW pictures I took this weekend into something that can be posted on the web.

And no, despite all that, the Hexaputer still can't, quite, keep up with my brain....but is doesn't keep me waiting.

Recently, after analyzing several BSOD crashes, I had to downgrade it slightly. Initially, I thought the instability was in the video driver (and it may have been). I dropped it to a multiplier of 20 from 20.5. Around the same time I nudged the bus speed up to 203MHz from 200, and increased a few voltages.

Since I did that, I've noted the following:

1) Not one single crash
2) NorthBridge temps have never gone over 40C
3) CPU temps have remained under 35C

But, I have to admit, I haven't even come close to hitting the wall yet, and I am not sure that even I have the range of attention necessary to make this machine start to grind. I could try to watch a movie, play a game and process images, but I'm pretty sure if I did that, I'd become the bottleneck......

But then, I think, that is appropriate. There is always a bottleneck, in any system. In a personal computer, it really should be the user...... :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Last Thirty Years

When I first moved here, the plan was we would be here for three years, then we would go 'home'. Home at the time was Southern California.

If you've seen Braveheart, you'll understand what mean when I say 'The trouble with California is that it is full of Californians'.

Moving to Nova Scotia was a bit like stepping back in time. Halifax then, was nothing like what Halifax is now. For example, the recent outbreaks of gun play on the streets that are news here, would not, in many cases, have even made the papers there, then. That was just 'normal' isn't 'normal' here or now, which really is a good thing.

When I moved here, I'd lived in many places, including Europe, for an extended period of time. And I'd visited several other places, for shorter durations. At first, all I could think about was getting 'home'.

Somewhere, somehow, somewhen, that changed. This place became home.

I've now lived longer, here, than I have ever, anywhere, by a very large margin. The fact that I've been here for 30 years boggles my mind. This outcome wasn't in the original plan, but if I didn't like it, I would've left a long time ago.....this is a pretty neat corner of the world.

Early on, in our stay here, I drove out to Peggy's Cove to catch a metor shower. At night. I'd never been there before, and the road at night was a challenge. Thirty years later I've made that exact same trip many times, in many different conditions, and yet the destination is never the same. Oh, to be sure, it is the same place. But it feels different each time.

I've been back to the US several times over the years. Invariably I get greeted with 'Welcome Home' by US Customs and Immigration. Gradually, over the years, that has become more each time I feel more and more like I am leaving behind my home country, and entering into a foreign land.

In one sense, it is a land into which I was born and raised. In another sense, that land, the one I grew up in, is long gone. It has changed, and I have changed, and we've both changed in different directions.

As an 'immigrant' I don't trust Ignattif. Canada has changed while he has been away, and coming back here, and staying for a while is not enough to get the full measure of who we have become and, more importantly, who we can be moving forward. He can insist he gets it, and us, all he wants, I don't believe him.

I like the NDP as the official opposition. I feel, in that role, they add some much needed heart to government, while their wackier ideas remain restrained.

If I could pick, I'd vote for the Liberals under Paul Martin....but I don't get that choice, because he's out. I do not want to see Harper's conservatives with a majority, though I'm quite content with them as a minority government that is forced to work with the NDP and (to a lesser extent) the Liberals. I.e. I really don't see a good reason why we have to have an election right now.....

No, the Tories aren't perfect, never said they were. But so far, the scandals they've been involved in pale in comparision to the Liberal sponsorship scandal. Many might find my support of Paul Martin ironic in light of that comment, but I'd suggest he was likely more an observer, than a participant, in that fiasco.

So, now, there is an election coming. If, like me, you aren't particularly dissatisfied with the status quo, here are your choices, as I see them:

1) Vote the same way you did last time
If everyone does this, the result will be the same. The risk is, maybe not everyone will do this.

2) Vote for the current incumbent in your ridding
Again, if everyone does this, or most seem to, things won't change a lot. The risk, of course, is that you have one vote, and 'everyone else' may vote differently.

3) Vote for someone else.
I, personally, am toying with this idea.....I want, above all, to send a message to all four parties....the message reads 'get along, work it out'. So, do I vote for the Green party? Can I, outside Quebec, vote for the Bloc?

And that, at the end of the day, is my current electoral dilema. How do I use my one, single vote, to send a message to Ottawa, in the clearest possible terms, that says 'Stop playing games, work together, and put the interests of the country ahead of your own'......?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hexaputer Overclocking

You might be asking 'Why do you want to overclock a hexaputer?'. As I indicated in my original post, AMD processors have not kept up with Intel in recent years, but they represent a great performance per dollar proposition.

Especially, when you buy a Black Edition CPU like I did.

Way back in the dark ages of computers, people discovered you could run them faster than 'stock'. Early 8088 machines often had a 'Turbo' switch, which was usually superfluous, because (at least on my machines) it remained forever in one position......ON......

Later, computer manufactures started to get in on the game. They bought cheap low rated CPUs from Intel, overclocked them, and sold them to consumers as higher end PCs. Intel didn't like that, and savvy computer users knew they could do the same thing (for less), but then, as now, savvy users were at a premium.

Feeling left out of the party Intel (and later AMD) locked down what is referred to as the multiplier on the chip.

CPU speeds are determined by two things. The core bus speed, and the multiplier. If the multiplier is locked then you can't overclock the system that way. You can only mess with the bus speed. Note, jacking up the bus speed isn't a bad approach, but as I will detail, it can raise some issues.

Both AMD and Intel sell 'unlocked' versions of their CPUs. AMD charges a lot less for those than Intel does. AMD refers to them as 'Black Edition' CPUs, while I believe Intel usually appends an X to the CPU designation (eg. i7-980X, and yeah, go ahead, price one of those).

So my CPU is the (current) top of the line AMD 1100, in an unlocked Black Edition.

It turns out, that the initial overclocking I did via the motherboard's automated system, assumed I was using a 'locked' multiplier. So it didn't try to change it. For the 1100, the default multiplier is 16.5 and the bus speed is 200. Multiplying the two numbers yields 3300, which is the stock speed of 3.3 GHz.

When the motherboard's AI Overclock feature upped the system bus speed, it downgraded the speed of the memory to the next level to ensure the system would boot. Trying to force the system to apply the correct timings for 1333 RAM failed. So, with the 'bus overclock' approach, the system clock was around 3.8 GHz, but the RAM was running with a transfer rate around 980. Not exactly what I would call a great result.

I wanted 4+ GHz and 1333 RAM. And I got it.

The first step was to save the AI Overclock configuration. The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula motherboard lets you save (I think) 8 different BIOS profiles.

Next, I reset the BIOS to the factory defaults. This is where paying attention to which drive went into which SATA port would've paid off. When I did that, and rebooted, the system tried to boot into XP because it found the old 1TB XP System Drive. XP of course was horribly confused. It went to sleep in an NVidia world and woke up in an ATI one. I rebooted, re-configured the boot drives, then saved that configuration as well.

Once back in Windows 7 I verified that the memory was running at 1333 MHz via CPU-Z....sure enough. All good. Then, I went back into the BIOS and explicitly set the RAM settings.

DDR3 RAM usually has at least four numbers associated with it. Mine is 9-9-9-24. You can look up what that means, but once you know, it is easy enough to see where to enter it into the BIOS, and with this motherboard, when the RAM is on Auto (as it is by default) the actual value it is using is printed to the left in grey lettering. It is a fairly easy process to make sure the manually entered number matches the number displayed. Once that was done, it was back to Windows and CPU-Z to verify the configuration.


Next, I went back into the BIOS and increased the multiplier to 20.5, then explicitly set the CPU voltage to 1.4 (I have CPU Overvolt protection on). The official range is up to 1.475, but CPU-Z frequently shows it well over that without any complaints from the MB when the system is under a heavy load.

I picked those two numbers based on the results from a couple of reviews. I might be able to get away with a lower CPU voltage (that means less heat and less wear and tear on the CPU). But so far the system seems stable at those settings, and I may drive the multiplier up farther yet.

But, now, with very little work, I have a core speed of 4109 (4.1GHz), and the memory operating at its rated 1333 MHz. I haven't tinkered with the bus speed at all, and I could do that too. The trick with that is to up the bus speed a bit, then, when it becomes unstable, up the North Bridge voltage.

I should pause here and point out that upping voltages and speeds has the potential to put extra wear on your system. It might not last as long. And the secret to overclocking is not to max out everything, but to increase performance to a suitable stable point. I appear to be there, at least for now.

I ran a Passmark performance test and got 7903 for the CPU. This page give you a sense of where that fits. It is well above the Intel i7-975 which comes in at 7035 with a price of $1044 (yeah, that's just the cost of the CPU).

Not a bad showing for a CPU that cost around $200. I'll take it.

So far, the air coming out of the case is nice and cool....CPU temps with the H70 cooler are in the 30C range......nice and cool. Maybe, if I drive the multiplier up a little farther, I'll be able to roast hot dogs over the case, but do I really want to do that? No, that's what the BBQ is for...... :)

Think about it. Six cores, each running at 4.1 GHz........

I processed the pics for the last post in Photoshop from RAW images taken with my DSLR. All I can say is 'Wow'......what was once slow is now so fast, I almost don't notice something happened. I didn't have time to go get a cup of coffee before, but I certainly had time to yawn. Now, if I blink, there's a good chance I'll miss it.

Welcome to The World of Hexaputing.....