Archive for the ‘ Hate ’ Category

Slanted monitors

At my desk I have two 20″ 1600×1200 (4:3) monitors which I got rather used to. Unfortunately the hard-drive in my machine failed and I have been waiting over two weeks for a replacement (not sure if it is the university or MicroDirect being useless). Normally I would buy one and claim it back and the problem would be solved within an hour, but the new university austerity measures forbid this. Instead, I have moved onto Christian’s desk and am experiencing his two wide-screen monitor setup. It feels a bit weird having pages which are very wide, but not very tall. Having one of the monitors vertical is equally creepy. So I came up with a compromise. Have the monitors slanted by ten degrees. This makes them both taller and wider.

If you wish to try this yourself, just browse through this slanted frame page and turn your monitors ten degrees to the right. Press F11 for full screen mode to make it look believable. This should work in Firefox and Webkit based browsers.

Very cold indeed and some bits and bobs

The cold

It has been somewhat cold recently here in the UK. Woke up today to find that I couldn’t see outside.

That is frost, but on the inside of the window. I am currently sleeping under two duvets and getting up is not pleasant experience.

Even what looks like condensation at the top of the window was completely frozen. Would be nice to have double glazing.

More fedora icing

I forgot to post the sprinkled sugar cupcakes I made a few months ago for the release. These were made using a paper cut-out template and then dusted. I should have made more blue icing sugar. I found the best way to make it was using a small resealable plastic bag. Add the icing sugar and a little blue dye. Then squish the lumps with your fingers until it is dry and fine.

Take that GDM!

It is a shame, but at the university there is somewhat strong resistance to the concept of a graphical login. Here is what the students see when they come to log into a machine. It will look even more silly on high resolution monitors with KMS graphics where the ASCII art occupies a small section in the upper left.

Christmas meal preparation

Sainsbury’s and Ice

I felt a little bit cheated by Sainsbury’s yesterday. On one of my visits, I received a voucher which doubles the nectar points on one visit before Christmas day. So I got a lift from Sooty in her car to the place, spent £112.49 on food shopping, handed over the point doubler voucher, left grinning at having pulled one over Mr Sainsbury by using it on a massive shopping spree. Then sat down and realised that that saved me barely over a pound. That was dumb, should have gone to Aldi like I normally do, I thought. Normally I wait for Sooty to go home for Christmas, then I do about four trips to Aldi/Lidl with a massive backpack and bags. But then today I went back to the shops to pick up some things I forgot. The walk was the most stressful thing for years. The paths were so icy that I was completely exhausted by the time I got there, having nearly died several times, never-mind walking back with full bags.


I have now finished the desserts. This year’s plan is to have all the desserts pre-made as by that point in the evening I have alcohol induced clumsiness.  This year’s desserts are (sorry about the quality of the pictures, I left my camera at work, so these are from a phone):

Trifle, standard affair, with fruit in the jelly but no sherry.

Tiramisù, made with camp coffee and dark rum. Very easy to make especially in the Tupperware box which makes storage simple (so little space in the fridge).

And finally a “chocolate cola cake”. This is your standard four layer chocolate cake affair, but it contains cola (sugar based one to be safe) . I tried some crumbs earlier and it does have some interesting unexplainable taste. Will have to wait till tomorrow for a proper try.

More pictures of other noms tomorrow.

Apple can’t measure stuff properly

 I noticed the other day that every single image of products in the apple store is actually computer generated. There isn’t a single photo in there. The great thing about making up how the product looks is that you can blatantly lie about the size of the thing. For example the iPod touch:

iPod Touch

Guide to buying a Mac Pro

So you want to buy a new Mac Pro, here is a simple guide to help you get the best system for your money.


At default the system comes with two dual core 2.66GHz processors. Select the 2.0GHz processors and quickly save yourself £190. Don’t worry; in the next section I will describe how you get your four cores of 2.66GHz goodness back. In the meantime you can throw the 2.0GHz Xeons away.


1GB is no where near reasonable amount of RAM for a power computer. You need about 4GB which would set you back an extra £449.00. Don’t buy this from Apple, instead throw the ram that comes with it and can get 4 x 1GB FB-DIMMs for less than that from crucial (Get two 2GB kits for at £152.74 each). FB-DIIMMs are rather expensive but by using a different motherboard you could use standard DDR2 ram (Currently selling at £34 a Gig).


Four core computing is no longer the reserve of the expensive Xeon/Opteron systems. You can now get a four core CPU to fit in a standard board and use standard RAM. Take the board out of your Mac Pro and throw it away. Replace it with a standard Socket 775 board and plug into it a Quad Core QX6700 and 4 GB of DDR2 5400.


The range of available graphics options seems to be “how many GeForce 7300 GT 256MB would you like”. Additionally to these there seems to be an X1900 (I didn’t know they still made these, they were replaces with 1950s ages ago) and a rather extreme NVidia Quadro (at £1,049.99). Lets be sensible and say we want to do crossfire with two 7300 GTs. Instead of paying £100 for each additional card just get one yourself for £50. In fact get two nice fan-less ones and throw away the one that came with the box.

Hard Drive

250Gb is quite low for a system like this. Instead of paying £288 for two 500Gb drives, get them directly yourself for £148. Throw away the one that came with the Mac.

Optical Drive

Instead of paying £70 for an extra optical drive, throw it away and buy two matching DVD/RW drives for half the price (£35 for the pair).

Keyboard and mouse

Get a wireless keyboard/mouse set for £7 (splash out get a £10 set) and throw the wired versions away. Seems more sensible than paying £40 for the Apple set.


The overall picture is the following:

Instead of spending £2,645.99 on a reasonable Mac Pro,

1: Buy the absolute basic Apple Mac Pro for £1,509.01

2: Throw it away

3: Replace it with something better

Total: £2,627.74


-                                                                          Price  #          Total
Basic Mac Pro	                                                        £1509.01  1       £1509.01
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 Quad Core (2.67GHz) Socket 775 8MB Cache     £607.56  1        £607.56
Ebuyer 1GB DDR2 667MHz PC2-5400 240pin Extra Value Ram                    £34.02  4        £136.07
PNY Verto GeForce 7300GT 256MB DDR2 DVI HDTV out PCI-E                    £51.71  2        £103.42
DFI Infinity 975X/G SKT SKT775 conroe Core2Duo ready DDR2 Crossfire ATX   £81.94  1         £81.94
Seagate ST3500641AS 500GB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm 16MB Cache - OEM      £73.99  2        £147.98
LITEON DVD8900/DW1670 16x DVD±RW/RAM Bare Black - OEM                     £17.39  2         £34.78
X-Tensions Silver RF Wireless Keyboard & Mouse - PS2                       £6.98  1          £6.98
Total:                                                                                    £2627.74


  • Two 2.66GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon
  • 4GB (4 x 1GB)
  • 2 x NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB
  • 500GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
  • 500GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
  • Two 16x SuperDrives
  • Apple Keyboard & Mighty Mouse – British (wireless)


Credit cards for girls

I decided to cave in and get a credit card. Since I now own a mobile phone I thought I might as well carry on my silliness and decide which card to get not on silly things like interest rate or service but rather on which one looks nicest. Took me a while to decide but along the way I made a nice page of most credit card designs available in the UK. To be honest this isn’t as silly as it sounds as at the end of the day I will never use the interest rate but I will have to flash the card wherever I go.