I've been listening to a lot of indie music lately, as part of my secret project 'Become a super-famous awesome rock star'. I've also been watching My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic for a couple of years, with great enjoyment. I'm completely in love with the music of a British artist called 'Glaze', also known as 'WoodenToaster' and also that of an Israeli artist who often does collaborations with the former, who goes by 'The Living Tombstone'.
One of The Living Tombstone's more recent collaborations is with a singer and band by the name of Dasha. It's a sad song about a person who suffers from a severe mental disorder who perceives that they have been systematically abused by the society and state where they live. I cried the first time I heard the lyrics. Check it out.
I'll admit, I've been failing quite hard to be fashionably geeky over the last couple of years, so I decided in June to try and undo that shift a bit. I'm not sure whether I should be recording progress as a project 'Makeover' but we'll see. I will admit though that I'm still not following my original GeekChique philosophy of style through gadgets so much. To be more accurate, I've been wearing mainly geeky accessories and clothing - very consumerist of me! Time to get back on track. In other words, it's flip phone time!
I've published my half-completed teardown of the FIPS-Certified Vocera B2000 communications badge, over on the projects page. I'll keep working on it, but it seemed rather silly to leave what I had done hidden indefinitely. Now, back to working on it!
Basically, there's a hole where my data used to be. I'm sorry, I didn't take photographs of my neighbour and I smashing it with a hammer, but as you can see, a recent backup of the database existed and nothing was actually lost. For anyone who is daft enough to try this, running without a swap partition and with only very light logging; the drive lasted 2 months from new before it could no longer be read from or written to. I will note of course, that I'm talking about an actual USB flash drive originally designed for sharing photos of the dog. My xubuntu laptop has been booting from a Sandisk SSD since the beginning of August with no problems. Crazy fast, too! I'm using zram to minimise the amount of actual disk-swapping, both for speed and drive-life reasons. Seems to work, and Minecraft is acceptably fast.
I'm unsure how to react to this video. For anyone who can't watch it, it's a 'trailer' for Microsoft Internet Explorer, set in an anime style and using iconography from Microsoft Internet Explorer, including security function logos. The protagonist gets beaten up by a group of robots, then goes 'Magical Girl' on them. Naturally, she is instantaneously healed, poorly dressed, and easily defeats them.
I have to give credit where it is due, the video is very well animated and scored. However, it falls into the common sexist cliché that a female protagonist in an anime must show as much skin as possible and preferrably wear a variant of her school uniform. Would it have really been that much of a detriment to give her some body armour? Or at least trousers?
I'm crazy busy doing other stuff, but that big teardown post haasn't been forgotten. The badge is shredded, the photos are visible on Flickr and I've been doing more research elsewhere about the parts - I just haven't had time to sit in front of a computer and write it up. Getting to that.
There's something else I've been working on lately, don't know how it'll turn out yet, but it should be interesting.
Well, it's literally been years since I ripped apart that broken B1000A, and well... I promised a guy that I would do this - right before the downtime. I've got the badge he gave me to rip apart, and it's high time I got down to it. Don't you think?
Here's what really surprises me. Since my last update, the number on the yearometer has changed twice. It amazes me how fast time can go past when you're not paying it any attention. Still, it's at least not quite been two years. I guess it's appropriate to give a quick summary. I am still alive, and doing well. I'm still a geek, obsessed with chic. My server has shrunk from a rack of enterprise grade machines to an Atom machine booting off a flash drive. The guitar count is up to twelve, the sofa count is up to one and the monitor that got soaked in homebrew still refuses to spontaneously combust. Which brings me on to the main purpose of this article: my shiny new workstation.
So that image shows two machines, conveniently the two that we care about. The machine at the front is my performance workstation. It has Intel's best-ever chip, the Celeron G1610. This is the slowest desktop class chip they sell, it has a TDP of 55W instead of the 35W I'd prefer and it only supports DDR3 1333 and not DDR3 1600. But at £35 for a intel CPU that gives 66% of the single threaded performance of the cheapest current generation i3, for only 40% of the price - it's a fantastic chip for people like me running tasks with little parallelisation. The machine behind is the web server, running an Atom 330. It's an almost silent machine which draws between 30 and 40 watts. Perfect for the use I put it to; this machine is my web server, my gateway, my terminal server from work and my Minecraft server when I get bored at home.
Let's take a look inside the workstation, which may be the most sparsely populated workstation anyone's built in a decade. That pair of hard drives are 80GiB 7200rm drives. They're not big, they're not fast and at £9, they weren't very cheap per gigabyte. No doubt, you'll be asking why I thought they would be the best purchase for my machine. The answer is pretty simple; while not good value - they were low cost. They also only need to serve as boot drives; most of my data is stored on servers and a motley collection of flash drives and external hard disks. The power supply is a Corsair CX430. I wanted the modular version, but Amazon went out of stock right before I ordered and I was feeling impatient. It's an efficient and quiet supply, which should last a long time. Given that I try and build my machines to be efficient in terms of power draw, the computer should never draw anywhere near that much; by contrast the current power is hovering around the 100W mark. The RAM is 8GiB of DDR3 1600. It's faster than my CPU can support, but I plan to incrementally upgrade this machine as time goes on and this ram will also be the fastest that the next generation intel processors can support too. Three slots are spare for expansion, which will also let me enable dual-channel mode.
The board is micro-ATX with a reasonable amount of expansion for my needs. It's much smaller than the full tower case supports, but buying a new system two months before the launch of Haswell I'd have been mad to buy high-spec components for the parts soonest to be replaced. The B75M motherboard will be swapped out in the summer of this year for a more modern part which can take a low-power Haswell i5. Finally, the expansion card is an 802.11G PCI wifi card I found in a box. This system usually runs cabled, for the sake of gaming latency; however it's handy to have a wifi card in there for when it's been disconnected to avoid tripping up visitors. The graphics are currently being provided by the on board GPU of the Celeron. I planned to get an uprated Nvidia card when the machine was purchased, but after discovering that my most recent licence of Windows will not run in EFI mode; I've decided to wait until the software I'm using requires it. Portal, Minecraft and Second Life run beautifully under linux with the Intel HD Graphics.
So, a while ago now I acquired a SecurID appliance. It was a cast off from Square Enix (with all their data still on it) after they made the slightly unfortunate decision to replace, not repair. This is slightly unfortunate for them because of how easy the appliance was to fix; and because as you know - they really didn't delete a thing off the server! This project goes over what I did to repair and configure the device!
This isn't the newest photo I have on my flickr feed, so you've probably seen it before. Still, I thought it was appropriate: This sort-of-project goes over everything I've learned on setting up a test environment for Vocera Communications Badges!