People who I hate #1

People like Graham_S over at rllmukforum, who have their Wii a day early. Half of continental Europe seem to have them today too, so I hate them as well.

Grr at them all.

Wii minus 3 days!

This Friday, I should have my Wii. And, I'll hopefully be posting to my blog live from the queue outside Game. Hurrah!

Gears of War (360) Р¬£23

It’s back in stock at Play Asia, at the lovely price of £23 (ish). It’s the Asian version, but it is all in English and has been confirmed working on PAL consoles.

Buy Gears of War

Resurrecting the Amiga

Having fiddled around with WinUAE (an Amiga emulator for Windows) a little this week, I realised that I probably still had a load of stuff I’d like to have another look at, and maybe archive properly, on my old Amiga 1200. It’s been stuck up in the attic, unused for the last 6 or 7 years, and I wasn’t sure it was even going to work.

The plan was to get the information off the hard drive using either a compact flash card and PCMCIA card reader, or, if that failed, by using a PCMCIA network card, Miami (an Amiga TCP/IP stack), my home network, and and FTP server on my Mac.

Sadly, the Amiga was dead. It powered up first time, but didn’t recognise the hard drive, instead booting to the “insert Workbench disk” screen. I powered it down, and then it wouldn’t even boot that far – I just got a grey screen. The power light was on, but that was it.

So, I dismantled it, cleaned out all the fluff, dust, hair, spiders and seeds (I have no idea) out of the innards, reseated my 030 expansion card, removed and re-fitted my ROM chips, and made sure the HD and FD connections were fine. After putting it back together – success! It booted into Workbench. Hurrah!

I then rummaged through my pile of old floppy disks looking for a 720K PC disk that I could use to transfer the required card reader software. I was actually transferring the files from Aminet using my MacBook, so using a PC disk when no PC was actually there seemed a bit perverse. Anyway, if you want to do the same thing, you’ll need a compact flash card, a 16-bit PCMCIA card reader, fat95 (to be able to read and write the fat16 filesystem), and cdf (to be able to mount it as a drive). I got these installed OK, switched off the Amiga, inserted my card reader (with card in), and… nothing. Grey screen, no booting. Again.

Cleaned everything out again, but nothing worked still. If I removed the card reader, all was fine. Insert it, and it wasn’t. Then I remembered something from many years ago – with some Amiga expansion cards fitted with more than 4MB of RAM, the PCMCIA port is disabled, as it’s mapped into the same address space as the RAM is. So, I took the 4/8MB jumper off the expansion, and all was well (albeit my free fast RAM dropped by half, but that didn’t really matter). I could read and write to my 64MB compact flash cards!

I then spent a merry couple of hours transferring the lot to my cards. My entire hard drive (which cost about £150 when I bought it) fitted onto two 64MB CF cards (costing £1.47 each). Amazing.

After that, I thought I’d spend a bit of time trying to get the network stuff working with my PCMCIA network card and a copy of Miami, but couldn’t get anywhere. I got the card drivers and everything, but I just couldn’t get it on the network. Ah well.

Virtually Indestructible Keyboard

Or so it says. We’ve just bought some small footprint keyboards at work for use where the current small footprint keyboards keep being broken. You know, keys snapped off, that sort of thing.

So this is one of the keyboards we’re trialling. I mean, it even says “Virtually Indestructible” on it, so it must be pretty sturdy, yes? And it bends! Sadly, it’s crap. The rubber holding the “keys” on is about half a micron thick, and you can easily pierce it with a blunt fingernail let alone the myriad of lethal weaponry children carry around with them these days. I’d give it, oooh, an hour in the classroom?

DS sales top 2m in UK

Well, those of us in the know, already knew that the DS was steaming ahead of the PSP in terms of sales, but Eurogamer provides the proof. It’s outselling 2.5 to 1, it seems. Gosh.

I could go into the reasons why, but that would just cause fights.

DS sales top 2m in UK

Surname Musings

As part of my job as a systems manager, I’m often looking at long lists of names of people who are on the network. When I originally set the network up, I decided to put half the 1300+ users on one server, and half on the other, to reduce the load and stuff. My criteria on how the split was to be done was by surname.

And so it came to pass that surnames A-M are on one server, and surnames M-Z are on the other.

When it was first set up this way, I realised that it wasn’t a true 50-50 split. In fact, it was more like 60-40 in favour of A-M. If I’d have sat down and actually counted, I’d have known that, but it didn’t really matter. Of course, you can see why this is the case, as not so many people have surnames starting with letters like U, X and Z. However, the sheer number of Smiths have some sort of balancing factor, so 60-40 isn’t all that bad, and so I kept the system with this split.

That was almost five years ago. In that time, 95% of the users have left, and so compared to then, virtually all of the users have “replaced”. And here’s the odd thing – the split is still in favour of the A-M users, but bizarrely it’s more like 80-20. Not only that, but we now have twice as many Smiths as we had five years ago, and fewer Browns. I’m at a loss as to how to explain it.

Blogger Beta: So what’s new?

Well, I finally upgraded to Blogger Beta today, which will affect parts of this site. In fact, I hope it won’t affect parts of the site, as Blogger seemed to suggest it would be OK. I’m slightly concerned about my custom template breaking things though.

My main reason for jumping to the beta was I wanted to use tags for my posts. Actually, Blogger calls them “labels”, probably due to having already defined “tags” as things you stick in your template code. Either way, I’m hoping to be able to sort out my Gaming Diary a bit with them, and it’ll also help arrange this blog too.

Aside from that addition, most of the changes seem to be mainly cosmetic alterations to the Blogger dashboard. I haven’t tried logging in with my phone yet though, so I hope that’ll still work…