Category Archives: hardware

It’s time for the annual changing of the internet provider

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Well, it’s that time of year again.

Last year at this time, our then-internet-provider,,
dumped all of its DSL customers into the lap of another provider, known variously as,, and other names.
I just call them 3Web.
It seemed okay for a while, but then we started getting outages, and then they became more frequent.

I checked my logs for last night and we had a one-minute outage about once every 45 minutes.
Needless to say, when Michael and Ronnie are plying WoW, a one minute outage is a major pain.
Especially when they have to spend 45 minutes waiting to do something in the game.

Michael did some research à la Google and found a place called
They offer 5 Mbps DSL, have a no-throttling policy, and also offer static IPs.
Sounds good to me!

So today I ordered our DSL from them to be activated on Mon Jul 16, 2007.
Which DSL provider you use is selected solely by the login id you use,
so for a couple of weeks I can go back and forth between them.

Hope it works out!

Sick again, sick again, jigeddy-jig

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What a great Fathers Day present, eh? Bleaugh

To offset this, my new 17″ Hi-res MacBook Pro arrived today (Monday).
Love the bright, bright screen.
Much brighter than my old 17″ 1.6GHz PowerBook, which will now be taken to Europe by Michael for four weeks.

The built-in iSight camera is surprisingly good!
It seems to handle the low light conditions of m basement much, much better than either of my standalone iSight cameras do.

is in Toronto this week and I’m hoping to get together.
Until recently, she was my fellow Toronto-ite at OSAF.

Iain’s photos
continue to amaze me.
He has an excellent eye for angles and lighting that capture the imagination.

Ok, time to have some chicken noodle soup.
Too bad all I have is Campbell’s, and not Lipton.

Video endurance test

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Did a test a couple of weeks ago to see how long our two cameras could record any sort of video.
I think the limiting factor ended up being the battery, not the capacity, since both cameras had 2 GB of room.

Lumix 320x240px 10fps lasted 1h51m @ 1.1 GB
Sony 160x120px 30fps lasted 3h35m @ 280 MB

Continuing internet problems

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Although our connection came back up on Sunday, it was only a 500 kbps connection, and it remains so today.
It *should* be a 5,000 kbps connection.
So for some reason, we’ve been throttled to 1/10th of our paid-for speed.

When I tried to access today, I encountered a new page that redirected me to, which is some sort of parent company of IGS and other DSL providers.
So it looks like they were doing some sort of big switcheroo and it screwed up, big time.

We’ve been looking around for another DSL provider, and are looking closely at TekSavvy.
If anyone has any opinions on other providers, feel free to comment!

Internet down

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Late on Friday afternoon our internet service went down.
It’s still down now, but I can access our ISP’s site at least, from which I got a phone number.
I called and an automated (but constantly-cutting-out) voice semi-squaked that service was out for many customers in southern Ontario, and that the office is open on Saturdays at 10am.
I stopped listening at that point since I now knew when to call back.

Our ISP is (mostly)
It’s kind of weird.
We’re also under and
When gave up on its residential DSL service in August of 2006, the company in control of our destiny was never quite clear.
CyberSurf was mentioned prominently in related email, but the company itself is very minimalistic online.
At some point I was redirected to 3Web, which seems to be some sort of joint Rogers/Bell thing, offering both DSL and Cable high-speed access.

Ah well, hopefully it will be all sorted by tomorrow.
We’ll see.

tnir again, tnir again, jiggety-jig

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it’s that time again, when old hardware starts to fade.
The below is copied from some mail I sent out to people who use tnir.

Poor old tnir is having hardware problems.
The technical description is that it goes beep a lot instead of booting.
Sometimes it takes me three tries to get it running.
Even now, when it seems to be handling internet traffic properly and allows me to log in via ssh, the top â…“ of the Fedora login screen is inexplicably black.
I fear tnir is not long for this world.

I am setting up Michael’s old PC to be a stopgap tnir.
I will use it while I shop for a permanent replacement.
It’s only a stopgap because of the reason it’s Michael’s *old* PC – i.e.,
it turned itself off and for a long time we couldn’t get it to turn on again.
And I have no idea why it was off nor why it is now turning on again.
Thus stopgap.

Tnir is a venerable old 700 MHz Pentium II machine, so it’s about time it got replaced.
Also, I’ve been meaning to replace Fedora Core 3 with a more modern Ubuntu Server.
I hope the new hardware will have dual ethernet on the motherboard
(it was always a pain in previous tnir incarnations to have two ethernet cards),
a relatively fast CPU (say a 1.8 GHz Core Duo),
and lots of disk space – I have a 160 GB drive available that will be replacing the current 80 GB drive,
which is roughly 70% full.

It’s here

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Mac Pro

The sameday right-away guys came by in an unmarked white truck and dropped it off this morning about 10:15am.
I happened to be in the kitchen when the truck drove by and stopped in front of our driveway.

Here’s a shot of the box. Can’t wait to set it up!

Mac Pro box
(click for bigger image)

Wither my Mac Pro?

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As you may recall, I ordered a Mac Pro on Aug 8 right after they were announced.

It’s still not here.

Apple finally shipped it on Sat Sep 16, last weekend.
It was supposed to be sent via SAMEDAY RIGHT-O-WAY, with the shipping email stating:

For orders shipped Monday through Thursday tracking information will
be available on the carrier sites 12 to 24 hours after shipping.

For orders shipped Friday through Sunday tracking information will be
available on the carrier sites by the following Monday evening.

So since mine was shipped Sat Sep 16, my tracking info should have been available Mon Sep 18.

By Tuesday night I was getting impatient, so I phoned Apple.
I was assured that the Mac just needed to be sent the the Canadian border, where SameDay would start tracking it.
This process would take a day or two.

Well, it’s been three days, and still no sign of it via SameDay’s site.
They just say “Your shipment has not arrived at a Sameday facility. Please refer to your shipper.”

Maybe I’ll wait until Monday before another phone call. *sigh.

Mac Pro update

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Mac Pro

Dear Apple Customer / Cher client, Chère cliente Apple,

The following products shipped on 09/16/2006. Transit time will
depend upon whether you have chosen standard or premium freight
options. If your order is shipping standard freight, it should arrive
within 12 days of shipment.


Carrier Name/Transporteur: SAMEDAY RIGHT-O-WAY

Hm, someone named “Sameday Right-O-Way” will deliver sometime in the next 12 days?? Hah!

I hope it doesn’t show up until after Tuesday.
The Chandler 0.7α4 deadline is Tuesday, so I can’t touch it until after then!

I’ve had a 750 GB hard disk sitting on my desk for the last few days, waiting for the Mac Pro.
I ordered the smallest hard disk I could — the 160 GB — because Apple’s price for hard disks is too high.
I also only ordered 2 GB of RAM because the prices for these bloody FB-DIMM’s that Apple decided to use are sky-high.
i really expect a future rev of the Mac Pro to switch over to more standard DDR2 or DDR3 or whatever generation of DDR there is at that time.

I’ll be yanking one of my 250 GB drives from the G5, so it will have over a TB of storage.

The usual Intel Mac questions arise – do I create partitions for other OS’s?
Before Parallels, the answer was obvious.
But now.. not so much.
I think I will just use Parallels and its filesystems-inside-a-file approach.

The disadvantage of this is that I won’t be able to play PC games at full speed inside the current version of Parallels.
To date, people have been using BootCamp to reboot into Windows in order to play games, which requires a separate partition.
And Parallels cannot use these separate partitions.

However, Parallels has promised a future version will support full speed video hardware accelleration for Windows, allowing games to be played at full speed.
So, since I haven’t played a Windows game ofr a month or more, I will just use Parallels.

I will also be installing Ubuntu under Parallels, since (a) I like Ubuntu, and (b) I actually work in Ubuntu.