Monthly Archive for October, 2005

ID Cards Pledge

“I will actively support those people who, on behalf of all of us*, refuse to register for an ID card, and I pledge to pay at least £20 into a fighting fund for them but only if 50,000 other people will too.”

Sign the pledge to support resistance to UK national identity cards.

Yes, I’m back… with a shiny new Mini

Apologies to everyone who has emailed me about the staleness of this blog. Yes, I need to update it. Yes, I need to acknowledge the fact that I have left Imperial and to reflect what I am currently up to.

I’ve been held up by two things. Firstly, I had already announced my intention to migrate from Drupal to WordPress. I have a working WordPress installation but it isn’t yet configured to an extent that I’m happy to switch over. In the meantime I carried on blogging with Drupal (as I didn’t want to pause) but I didn’t want to change any of the static content as I wanted to leave that for the WordPress migration.

Part of the reason the migration didn’t happen was that my computer half-died. When I say half-died I mean it stopped booting Mac OS X. For those who don’t know my desktop was an aging PowerTower Pro. It was beefed up with a G3 processor upgrade as well as copious amounts of memory and some UltraSCSI storage. Of late it had become increasingly unreliable. The latest crash resulted in it unable to boot OS X – again. This time I couldn’t do a re-install because the CD-ROM drive had stopped working. I didn’t have a spare SCSI CD-ROM drive to hand (after a recent clear-out of old ‘junk), a netboot was out of the question on an unsupported Mac and I knew the hard disk would corrupt itself again anyway. So I decided to order a new computer. (I’d come to the conlusion I needed to do this anyway and the hardware failures simply forced my hand.)

I ordered a shiny new Mac Mini, from Apple. Whilst I could have picked it up from a retail store I wanted the maximum educational discount and that meant getting it built-to-order from the Apple Store online. It took about two weeks’ to arrive (because I went for a custom-configuration, of course). During that time I didn’t want to risk doing much as my system (now restricted to an old, corrupted install of Mac OS 9) was averaging a crash every 20 mins – so I was forced down to the bare minimum of web and email. Once the computer arrived I was slow to get started as the time co-incided with all the novelty of starting the academic term at a new university (more on that in a future blog).

So anyway, I am now mostly up-and-running on my new Mac Mini system. I was worried it might be a little on the slow side but the performance is surprisingly good for a low-end machine. It is certainly good enough for home DV work and more than good enough for most other desktop applications.

Here’s a picture. Doesn’t it look so cute? Apologies for the poor image quality I only had the basic VGA-resolution camera on smartphone to hand.

The device underneath is a Lacie mini Firewire drive. IMHO it’s the best designed of the many Mac Mini companion drives available. The airflow allows it to operate without a fan which means it isn’t too noisy. That’s quite important to me as part of the reason I opted to get a Mini (other than price) over a PowerMac was to get to minimise noise. My ears do not take kindly to listening to a computer fan for several hours at night when I’m trying to get some work done. Now that computers are generally fast enough I think it’s important that manufacturers start focussing on improving the ‘human’ aspects of computing technology rather than out-and-out performance.

As you might be able to tell, I’m still a geek, so I’m quite excited by my new shiny toy. Hopefully, the WordPress migration will happen real soon – depending on what new exciting things I find on my new computer.