Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

27 Sep 2020


When this year started I didn't think the world could get any worse. Brexit was happening and panning out to be the utter disaster that I thought it was going to be. Trump was proving to be an even bigger moron that I thought was possible and the UK had just elected a lazy clown as PM.

First up my step father died, which was a surprise and not a very nice one. He had a decent innings and had a pretty decent retirement, and his illness had no symptoms until the final few weeks, so he didn't really suffer - which is the best one can take from the situation.

While attending my step-father's funeral COVID exploded and I was nearly trapped in the UK, with no where to stay and no clothes to stay in. I managed to get home, via a long, expensive and tortuous route, and then spent several days in bed sick as a parrot. I don't know if I had COVID or stress enhanced cold/'flu, as tests weren't readily available at the time - and I still wonder...

My favourite compact camera died, and I've not yet replaced it - but given the situation it's hardly surprising...

The UK went into semi-lockdown and France went into real lockdown, so I didn't leave the house for weeks and other than my wife, I saw no one, which was all very odd. As I already work from home that wasn't an utter disaster, but I have put weight on this year as I just haven't been out as much.

We have started to work on the house, which is going well, but is absurdly expensive. The original quote was €100k, which I thought was way to low, and in my mind budgeted for €200k, but the current quote is now €240k, and we've already spent €50k on essential work... When it's all done, well probably add €1 to the value of the house for every €2 to €3 that we spend. Not a good return on financial investment, but it will be good for us.

At this very moment France and the UK are hurtling towards a very nasty second wave of COVID, and while France is dealing with it better than the UK, it's only marginally and in both countries there is a strong current of idiots opposing the scientific advice and trying to make things worse - though at least in France they aren't in the government...!

Finally the UK is heading towards some kind of absurd no-deal Brexit, or some kind of weak to useless deal Brexit, which will make things very hard in the UK for a while - which I'll at least be partially shielded from...

05 Sep 2020

Finally kicked the bucket...

My second oldest computer, and oldest PC has finally passed away. It started to suffer way back in 2004, and to be honest I've hardly used it in a decade. It's a Pentium II at 233 MHz with just 512 MiB of RAM. It only had a 3.2 GB IBM PATA HDD and it ran out of space to even upgrade it, before Linux dropped support for the CPU...

I've had a 6 GB HDD for it that I've never installed, so yesterday I put it in. It went in okay, but then the BIOS complained that there was no OS to boot from. I tried to change the boot order but no joy as I couldn't remeber the BIOS password... To be honest it's all a bit pointless really as I still haven't found the Ethernet dongle or the PCMCIA WiFi card for it, so it wouldn't be connected to anything.

I thought I'd take the battery out, and unhook the one on the motherboard, leave it without power for a few days and the BIOS may forget the password. Suffice to say the plastic hasn't improved in 16 years, and there are now more bits to the case than there was in the past... Anyhow it's all back together now, but it doesn't power-up at all... So it really is dead now.

I gave my previously oldest PC away before we moved to France, that leaves a Viglen MPC (AMD Geode based system) as the oldest and only remaining non AMD64 based system - if you exclude my Sun SPARC and Commodore-64...

My systems are starting to look rather dated...

  • DNUK desktop bought new, Intel i5 with SSD and HDD. Okay but GPU is getting old and will fall of Nvidia Linux support soon.
  • DNUK desktop (x2) rebuilt with newer motherboards, disks and most of the innards. Case and DVD drives are about the only original bits. Both fine, until something fails.
  • Novatech small form factor PC bought new, connected to the TV. Too underpowered for anything other than playing vidoes to the TV. Works fine though.
  • Dell Lattitude laptop, second hand, and upgraded HDD->SDD, max RAM, new battery. It's not superfast but it's fine while it works.
  • Mother-in-law's old Asus laptop, with new keyboard, more RAM and Debian instead of Windows. It's not as fast as the Lattitude, but it's a lot faster than any of the other laptops.
  • HP/Compaq that was due for the skip, when I was given it. Totally underpowered and slow to boot or shutdown but works fine, though underpowered.
  • Novatech laptop bought new, seemed pretty fast when it was new but the battery failed within a few days of the warranty expiring, and the scratch pad doesn't work anymore. Marginally faster than the HP/Compaq.
  • Viglen MPC, an AMD Geode based system which gets booted every now and then, but hasn't acrtually been used for anything in years. Won't run X anymore, don't know why...
  • Dell Inspiron, underpowered and now expired...

I mostly use my desktop or my laptop, depending on where I am. The home server is the home server and the TV media system get used weekly. My wife uses her laptop and almost never her desktop - even though the desktop is considerably more powerful. The older laptops and the Geode system gather dust...

04 Sep 2020

New Camera

Last year I thought about buying a new Camera. At the start of this year my S110 died and because of Canon playing secret squirrel with their file formats I decided not to buy anything at the time. Then COVID-19 happened and this year has been a right off.

At the moment I have an old Canon A480 and my mother-in-law's old Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3. Now I've turned off all the beeps and annoying defaults the Panasonic with it's longer zoom lens optical image stabilisation is a bit more useful than the Canon, but neither are a patch on my old S110 or the modern G series alternatives.

Putting aside the problems with the CR3 file format for the moment there are a number of options:

  • Buy a new lens assembly for the S110 and repair it myself. Spare parts used to be easy to obtain, but as the S110/S120 is quite old now they aren't as cheap anymore or common.
  • Buy another S110/S120, their price has gone up since they were discontinued but they are still about, or find a good condition one second hand.
  • Buy the Canon G9 X Mk II (€430), which has a larger sensor, better electronics, and is better in every respect for a similar sized package but the zoom range has been greatly reduced to get it all to fit in the same space.
  • Next in the Canon range is the G7 X Mk III, which has the same sensor, slightly better electronics, is slightly larger and has a slightly longer zoom range, but the price creeps up quite a bit more (€730).
  • Finally in the range (worth considering) is the G5 X Mk III, which has the same sensor and electronics as the G7, but a longer zoom range (the same as the S110) but is much larger and more expensive... (€855).

Price aside, the G9 is the smallest and easiest to carry around, especially while hiking or travelling. It has a large high quality sensor, but very limited zoom range. The G5 trades a better zoom range for size, so I get the same zoom as I started with in S110, much better optics and electronics, but not so small anymore...

At the moment I want a new camera, but I don't need a new camera, and with house work to be done, I can't really justify frivolous purchases like this...