Goodbye, Mr. Clarke

by fwhagen Wed, 19 March 2008

He was one of the greatest people of our time.  More than just an author.  More than a great scientist.  More than an engineer, physicist, humanitarian, advisor, prophet, philosopher, and more.  He helped define the world we live in from the positive side.  He helped define who I am today through his stories.  He had his hands in most of the great information technologies we enjoy today.  We all owe him more than we can know.  And now he is gone.  Goodbye, we will miss you.

From the BBC:  Writer Arthur C Clarke dies at 90


Filed Under: Life

Book Review: Battle Born - Dale Brown (1999)

by fwhagen Fri, 14 March 2008 Battle Born: Books: Dale BrownContinuing with one of my favorite authors, I recently finished Battle Born by Dale Brown.  Brown writes stories of near-future geopolitical conflicts with an emphasis on air-power.  What's not to love?  Battle Born continues the McLanahan storyline again as second in command of the secret research facility Dreamland.

The conflict this time is Korea.  North Korea has finally exhausted most of its resources, the economy is in a death-spiral and the people are starving and threatening revolt.  Much like modern NK, if sources are to be believed.  As NK threatens to invade South Korea, an all out assault is swiftly conducted by the south, toppling the government and unifying Korea for the first time in modern history.  Of course, life isn't that simple as rogue elements of the communist military try to exact revenge, China plays dirty again, and American politics is, well, American politics as usual.

In order for this book to work, Brown has to through nukes around.  A lot.  The technology fronted in this book deals with anti-ballistic systems.  As such, the plot is a bit unrealistic.  Not terribly, but it made me scratch my head a bit.  Unfortunately, I did not feel that this was one of Browns better books.  In fact, if I had read it before the others, it's unlikely that I would read any more of him.  I don't think Brown has lost it yet, but I am concerned.  This is one for the fans, and little else.


Filed Under: Books

Post-Build Pictures

by fwhagen Thu, 06 March 2008

Here are some pictures of the completed system:

Interior shots with the gigantic Ninja-Mini installed:

Here is the external view all ready to go:


Filed Under: System

Confirmation of Godliness

by fwhagen Thu, 28 February 2008

Not that there was any doubt, and of course, answered honestly: says I'm an Uber Cool Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!

Respect the score.

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Filed Under: Blog | Life

Are You an OS Fanboy?

by fwhagen Wed, 27 February 2008

The "Operating System Wars" are ridiculous, in my opinion.  There is NOT one better than all the others.  There IS a better fit for me than for you, or the latte-drinking poser using wi-fi (and nothing else) at the bookstore.  So if you have really strong opinions on the matter consider the following question:

Do you have any swag or merchandise that wasn't explicitly given to you?  In other words, did you PAY for a bumper-sticker, T-Shirt, laptop bag, etc. that is branded with your object of affection?

If the answer is "yes", then you are a fanboy and as such your opinion is worthless.  Because if you love a flavor of Linux, but would loathe it if Microsoft sold it, then you really don't have anything useful to add.  Or if your a Mac-fanatic mainly cause it ain't Micro$oft, dude, then you actually don't have an opinion, do you.  Even the Vista lovers who just think it's pretty, can't begin to evaluate the merits of the kernels.  You are only allowed an informed opinion if you actually have information.  Ok?

Also, if the answer is "yes", then shut up!  I'm sick of hearing it.

Thank you.

And before I get whiny comments, yes, there are other indicators that you might be a fanboy.  Consider them too.


Filed Under: Rant

Cooking for Nerds: Super-Quick Ballpark-Style Hot Dogs

by fwhagen Tue, 26 February 2008

Ok, no amazing technology or code hints here.  But when I get a good idea, I want to share.  Take Quick and Good, add some Lazy, and I have a post.

I love hot dogs.  I hate cleaning up or firing up the grill for just myself.  And have you ever tried microwaving a hot dog?  ugh.  But in a eureka moment, I found the answer:  Take a dog, or two, and drop into a glass.  Fill the glass with water, preferably higher than the dogs (yes, they will float a bit).  Pop it all in the microwave, and if you have it, hit the button for 1 cup of hot water (otherwise, 90 seconds?).  Let sit another minute or so, then pour out the water, some, all, doesn't matter.  Throw in buns, add mustard, and Viola, you have hot hot dogs ready to eat!  Don't you dare put ketchup on them puppies.  That's just wrong.

The water protects the dogs from the microwaves so they don't burst during the heating.  Also the water gets hot which helps warm them too.  You can actually see the difference where the dogs float out of the water.  In three minutes, you have a good ballpark style dog from fridge to bun.  Not perfect, but easy, quick and lazy.


Filed Under: Life

SQL Bulk Inserts

by fwhagen Mon, 18 February 2008

It is fair to say that I don't do a huge amount of real-time SQL.  As an application developer, the vast majority of SQL I write is in Stored Procedures and packages.  Very infrequently, I need to do a manual insert statement.  So why do I always forget to drop the VALUES keyword in a T-SQL statement when using a sub-query?  I mean every time!

So here it is.  A representative INSERT statement with sub-query:

insert into UserRoleMembership
(userIdx, roleName)
  select 488, roleName from Roles
  where appidx = 18
  and roleName not in ( select roleName from UserRoleMembership where userIdx = 488 )

Now I won't forget.


Filed Under: SQL


by fwhagen Tue, 12 February 2008

My home server finally died this week.  Even my daughter was inconvenienced.  The old PII on a SE440BX-2 has been a faithful, long lived servant these many years, but finally passed on.  I bought this board a long long time ago and have been running it 24x7 as my home server for over 5 years now.  I don't remember exactly how long, as it was 3 major upgrades ago.  BTW, you can still run a nice server on 256MB RAM for file, print, Web, and FTP with Win2003.  I believe the failure was with some component of the BX2 finally wearing out.

On to newer hardware!  I purchased a 35W Celeron to run the server on now.  Going to put it in a quiet Antec case with a Hi-Eff PSU.  Should be a simple and low-cost build.  Only spent $200 so far including the case (most expensive part), PSU, CPU, motherboard and optical (SATA).  I happen to have 1GB of DDR2 from a mistake purchase last year that I will use.

Yes, the comic feeds are down and will be for a few days.  Sorry.  I will get them up first thing.  *Heavy Sigh*

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Filed Under: Life | System

What Is Wrong With Apple?

by fwhagen Tue, 05 February 2008

No, really, what is wrong with that company?  During the Super Bowl (oops, now I owe the NFL money for using their trademark), they ran ads for their new laptop/notebook/purse.  The advert focused on one crucial feature:  it's size. 

It fits in an interoffice envelope. 

That's it.  It fits in an envelope.  Ok.  So?  Who buys a computer because it fits in an envelope?  Who cares!?  Does it run the latest software, games, 3D-rendering suites?  We don't know.  Wireless?  Firewire/USB/Bluetooth?  No idea.  Two buttons on a mouse?  Does it even have one?  But I can sent it to you via Interoffice mail!

This is but the latest example of what's wrong with Apple.  If it doesn't matter what your computer is capable of, do you even need to have one?  Especially one that is that overpriced?  I am tired of this company diluting the computing gene pool.  Call me old; call me a tech-weenie; call me whatever you want.  Form is important; but for a tool, NEVER over function.  Never.  Get out of the business and go sell purses.  Of course, then they'll claim they invented them....


Filed Under: Rant

Final Build Notes: Mars Lives

by fwhagen Thu, 24 January 2008

Well, the system upgrade is complete, finally.  q6600_1 Almost everything went very well.  There were a few moments of panic, but the end state is very satisfactory.  The best part is the Q6600 is running very happily at 3.005GHz with nearly no effort on my part.  I am going to leave it there for awhile, until I get the urge to tweak some more.  I will eventually replace the fan on the cooler with a better one and will tweak the timings a bit more aggressively then.  For now, everything is very stable and Mars hums along pleasingly.  The final configuration is below:

Case   Antec P182 Advanced Super Mid Tower Case
PSU   Corsair VX450W Quiet High Efficiency PSU
Optical   LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA
Motherboard   Asus Maximus Formula - LGA 775 Intel X38
Memory   Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500)
CPU   Intel Q6600 Core 2 Quad 2.4GHz
Cooler   Scythe Ninja Mini
Video Card   Sapphire Radeon HD3870 512MB GDDR4

What can I say about the case beyond that it exceeded all my expectations.  From everything being well placed, to thumbscrews on all the right places, great sound baffling and excellent airflow.  This case was worth more than the $100 I spent on it.  I even love the "Gun Metal Black" finish it has on it.  The only changes I plan to make to it are the addition of a fan grill on the lower 120mm fan to prevent the HDD cables from potentially rubbing on it, replacing the 2 upper fans with something slightly quieter but with Motherboard connectors for variable speeds and the addition of a forced intake fan on the front.  None of these are necessary, however.

The Maximus Formula is an exceptional piece of hardware also.  Its difficult to choose a single feature that stands out above all else on this board, but it may be the "Q-Connectors" as illustrated to the right.  This particular one is a detachable standoff that allows all of the case leads to be attached before attaching it directly to the motherboard.  That has always been a difficulty to me, solved here with a simple piece of hardware.  Of course the huge cost difference would be ridiculous if not for the excellent over-clocking tools (see 1st paragraph of this post), excellent cooling features, onboard power and reset switches, 6 USB ports on the I/O shield alone, excellent built in sounds, and many more that come with this board.  Wow.  My only concern was the PC speaker.  It doesn't have one built in.  The case doesn't either; most modern ones don't anymore because the motherboard generally has them.  This generated the first panic state when the temporary PCI video card that I was going to use failed and there were no diagnostic beeps.  I had to go find an old case that I had that I could steal the speaker from.  Then it was off to Newegg to buy a $32 PCIe video card for the interim.

Not much that I can add about the Q6600 processor that hasn't been said by far more capable people than I.  It has a stock clock of 2.4GHz, and mine is running happily at 3.005GHZ at 45C idle and 68C at full heat load.  Stable, solid and 4 cores.  You got to love it.  The stock cooler kind of sucks, but that has always been the case with Intel CPUs.

Update: I have since updated the ASUS bios on the mobo which fixes incorrect temperature reading of the CPU. It actually runs between 32C idle and 55C under load.

The cooler I chose, and it was last minute, was the enormous Ninja Mini.  This thing was a pain to install, and I ended up installing it twice.  Well, the 2nd install was my fault.  I bumped the monitor extension cable and didn't notice it was loose.  I ended up reseating everything, including the CPU before noticing.  The fan it comes with is not great, but gets the job done.  "Mini" is a ridiculous name for this thing.  It is enormous.  Maybe calling it "Not so huge as it's namesake" is more appropriate.  It drops the temperature of the CPU by 20C in about 10 seconds when load is removed which is pretty stunning.  I will be replacing the stock 80mm fan with a quieter 92mm fan later on.  At $35, though, this was a great value.

Ah, the Radeon HD3870.  First time I have ever bought ATI's flagship product when released.  But for $250, it was a good buy, and only $50 over budget.  Too bad MSRP is only $220.  Very good performance and I haven't even considered over-clocking yet at all.  There were a few odd things about this card:  First off, it is a single slot cooler.  All the other 3870s, including Sapphire's are dual slot.  Nice, but odd.  Secondly, you can't even find this card on Sapphire's website; they only list the dual-slot version.  Finally, mine came without the hot-chick sticker.  I don't really care, just thought it was odd.  Anyway, I really like this card.  Very fast, great digital video performance and not a bad price.  All the games I have run (except Crysis, of course) are super smooth at the max settings so far.  I am very impressed.

In conclusion, I am very happy with the new setup.  This has been the most extreme "upgrade" I have ever performed for myself.  I was boxed into it with the AGP/Prescott setup I had before.  In order to upgrade the CPU, I needed to get a new motherboard, memory and a PCIe The video card.  It only made sense to go ahead and get the improved case and DVD-RW drive too.  It was also a very enjoyable build and blissfully successful.  It passed all my burn-in tests with flying colors.  Vista's performance score is maxed out at 5.9; I kind of hope that they raise the maximum value with SP1 so I can see the relative score increase over my last one.  Pure vanity, of course.  Overall, the system is very quiet.  I cannot hear it under my desk at all as long as the wife's machine or the server is running.  (They will be upgraded next.)  And so far, all I have lost is my CoD4 profile; no great loss. 

Final pictures are still on the camera, so I will post them at a later time.  For now, time to play more MOHA!


Filed Under: System