Monday 11 June 2012

Hardware and software

My first task today was to put a decal of Humphrey on my bike helmet. Humphrey is a camel, and is the badge that I wore with pride on my school blazer. He was carrying spices across the desert, to be sold in the grocers of England; I was at the Grocers' Company School, which, at that time, was the finest grammar school in the area. Soon after I left, it went comprehensive, and about 15 years ago was closed down because it was the worst school in the area.

Where did it all go wrong?

I don't know, I'm not an expert in such things, but I read today that the maths curriculum is to be changed (yet again), by people who prove they don't know what they're doing by increasing the "times tables" kids learn from learning up to 10x10, to learning up 12x12.


When I was in primary school, we learned up to 12x12, and it was useful because there were 12 pennies in a shilling, so you needed to multiply by twelve quite often. But today? All you need now is up to 10x10. I can only guess that this is a misguided "back to basics" effort (or "back to baseics", as a cache I did recently said).

Speaking of metrication, how come we're still in the limbo of half-imperial, half metric? Road signs are never in kilometers, speed limits never in kilometers per hour. This is daft. We went metric a long time ago, and it was great not having to need three sets of spanners.

Then I did some computer work; Foggy has been having drive problems, so I replaced drive H, and while I had it on the bench, I replaced drive B which failed ages ago.

And then I tackled a problem I've been having for a while.

If you put more than about 24,000 caches onto the Loox, then there's some sort of memory interference between that and the mapping; the effect is that large swatches of the mapping are just grey, and are no longer maps.

But to get all the caches within 150 km, that's 37,000 and likely to grow. I can do all the caches within 100km with about 19,000, but that leaves out some I'm likely to want to do.

I had a flash of inspiration. I can still use GSAK to make a single GPX file of the caches within 150km (and that's the time-consuming part), and then I can change my program that makes memory map files, so that as well as making the file for all the caches (which I can put on the big screen and use for planning), I can make it spit out two memory map files, one for the Northern half and one for the South, with a little bit of overlap. I've done that, and the bigger of the two is 20,000 caches, so I'll be golden. So, once I've done the planning for the day, I'll just load in one of those two into the Loox, which takes less than a minute, and I'm ready to go.

Speaking of big screens - I've always had a hankering for screens that are bigger and better. My current screen is 1920 by 1200. I read recently about the Yamakasi Catleap which is 2560 by 1440. And I can get it on Ebay for £209, including post. From Korea. Or the Achieva, £199.60. The only downside is that my computer would need a DVI-dual port, which it currently doesn't have. I can get a video card with DVI-dual such as the GT440 for £36 or so, but that needs a PCI-e slot, and my current motherboard doesn't have one.

The Club3D Radeon HD 3450 AGP for £42, says it goes up to 2560 by 1600, has Dual Link DVI and fits in an AGP slot, which I have, so that might work.

If I buy from Bluepoint (in the UK), I can get the Samsung  S27A850D for £561. No thanks.

On the other hand, it feels like it might be quite a lot of hassle for a 25% increase in screen size.


For £1100, the IBM T221, 3840 by 2400 (which is four times the screen area that I currently have); it "works out of the box with almost any modern graphics cards with two DL-DVI ports" (another £80), but that needs a PCI-e .... hmm, I could just buy a computer with the necessary card (ATI HD 6770) and a 4.4ghz processor, 8gb ram for £430. Add the T221, and I have a really great desktop for £1530.

Wow. Tempting.


  1. Hey, Doc.,

    Thanks for the history lesson, so really - east end boy comes good then? All the way to your modest semi, in the west?

    ps I can get you a PhD for £2,300 if you dont want to put in the studying! (used £50 notes only please in brown envelope, dont trust this inter bank transfer stuff :) )

  2. Yes, boy did good. What does a £50 note look like? I can run a few off on the printer. Although I'm not sure whether a second PhD is worth £2,300, even in home-made notes.