Category Archives: What I’m Up To

Information on what I’m doing.

Might revamp the site sometime!

Languishing due to more activity on Facebook with friends (so many photos there!) and less conferences and events attended, I must admit I’ve left this place a bit. Not even edited the automatic robots.txt so Google lost me.

However I feel I need a project and this one is just on the side of not-so-time-consuming that upgrading the gallery from Lazyest to Eazyest, finally removing WPG2 perhaps (so many left to remove!), and adding a better theme will help.

I can then start to do more posts and updates – I’m doing more photography, getting to grips with more cosplay work and doing more coding and AI, fun fun fun 🙂

New Year and All That Jazz

Happy 2010! Except there hasn’t been any 2010 yet…so I guess, Happy 2009! Hope it was a good year.

What will I be doing in 2010…always nice to plan a bit.

Well, first I need to fix my watch, which stopped on the 2nd of January, must be the battery dying. I did almost lose it on the last day of work before Christmas too, so I don’t want it to break properly now 🙂 had it for years.

Properly though, I have enjoyed most of my work in the University of Nottingham’s IS Customer Services (in the Computer Suite Support Group). However, I need to look around for a new job. Pending the end of January, I hope to have at least found some possibilities, that involve coding/programming or at least more highly paid IT work 🙂 I also want to work out of Nottingham – one thing I’d love to do is get a cat which I can’t do at home (Mum’s allergic). A little thing, but a pet beyond a goldfish, well, specifically a cat, is something that I’d love to have.

I’m going to try and swear less when I’m flustered. Mainly this is at work when dealing with very minor and silly things, and Windows, lots of nice pretty Microsoft Windows. I mean, it’s silly, but if you swear for little things, nothing can really nail big things.

I’ve got a whole new set of books to read (filling out my Iain M. Banks collection) and films to watch now (Studio Ghibli films mainly 😀 ), so that is covered. There are lots of games I’ve still got to even start playing (Super Mario Galaxy, Farcry 2, Grand Theft Auto 4, Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment and others…the list is growing, stupid Steam sales included…), and I’ve started actually planning some other things, like going to a few classical concerts at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Centre. Not really much to say “I’ll do things differently this year”, but having a long list is a good thing (still need to get to posting what I think are really good things to read/watch/do/verb here).

I should write up more critiques, thoughts and mini-review pieces on things worth posting about though. Need to get into a rhythm for that, and not let this site slip into “ahhh, can’t be bothered this week” territory.

I really need to do more programming. Much more. I’ve been really lax at this (I’d say avoiding it, but it’s more like I don’t have anything I need to code, so I’ve not done much!), mainly since I’ve done other things here and there that keep me from it. Now I’ve got a nice fast PC, a server, (soon to be) automated backups, none of which are needed but do help keep my mind at peace, I plan to do some code writing and some other projects when I have time. Will help my job hunting too 🙂

Lots more to do archive-wise, with a server I can now more regularly upload to the Internet Archive, and who knows what else I can get up to with the IGDA Preservation SIG (website teething problems notwithstanding).

Hmm, well, that’s pretty much it. Nothing else exciting planned. Maybe I should plan something more exciting? Wait, why do that if I’m finding all this enjoyable? Why am I even writing this paragraph in the first place? Hah! my own self indulgent new years rubbish to add to the web, and why not! 😉

New PC and Windows 7

Okay, so not many posts recently, since I’ve brought myself a new PC and am currently battling the beast that is Windows 7, the ATI drivers from Hell and EDID monitor information being lost. Many reinstalls right now (when I’m writing this Windows 7 is “Expanding Windows files” 🙂 ).

This is my site so I’m putting down what I’ve got. Why not? I spent enough on it all 🙂


So, I decided basically to plan it around the i5 CPU, that recently came out, based on its lower cost and the fact i7’s had no massive amount of speed boosts and HyperThreading isn’t necessary on a gaming box. Made some discussions (which include prices I won’t bother to list below) on my clans forum, mainly going around what to get between SSD’s and HDD’s, with some coming out just at the right time (and lower price then they are now) at Overclockers, meaning I went for 2x64GB SSDs with a complementary 1TB HDD. This was, I hoped, going to be fun (to run in RAID-0).

Graphics card was the newly released 5850 (which was a darn bit cheaper then the 5870), from ATI (who’s drivers I never liked, and we’ll see why I dislike them more soon). I reused my sound card (Creative X-Fi ExtremeMusic), got a ASRock motherboard based on price and because it both had PS/2 ports and lacked some of the rubbish other boards had (more then having a ton of features), and an Antec case with 4 fans slots I filled so they could be run at low/medium speeds for constant air.

I also went for 8GB of RAM – so it’s 64 bit all the way. Final details are:

  • i5 Processor
  • 8GB G.Skill Ripjaw DDR3 PC3-12800C8 1600MHz (This needs a bit of overclocking to get 1600Mhz. Still fast though)
  • Antec 200 Two Hundred Ultimate Gaming Case (yes, that’s its title. Main thing was 4 fan slots and a reasonable design – it also has a nice hot-swapping thing for SATA drives I might well use).
  • Corsair 620W HX Modular PSU (basically worked well on my old PC).
  • XFX ATI Radeon HD 5850 1024MB (mainly got this for 2 reasons – better then nVidia’s offerings at the price, and supports 3 displays)
  • Crucial M225 64GB (supposedly up to 200MB/s read, 150MB/s write).
  • Maxtor 1TB Hard Drive (mostly cheapest 1TB drive. Also provides a good benchmark for the SSD’s performances)
  • 2 LG DVD writers

I also ordered (and am awaiting on) the cheap HANNSG 27.5″ screen (hooking it up via. HDMI should be okay), to make up the 3 monitors along with my 2 existing ones.

My old PC will be used as a new server (redundancy with RAID-5 and RAID-1 setups, constant backups, services running on it, etc.) which is a good use of the box 🙂

Windows 7

Why get this at all? I’ve been using XP for ages. Windows 7 finally, I think, makes Vista useful enough to use. Basically tones down a lot of the unresponsiveness and useless parts of Vista and gives back a button to shut down in the start menu 🙂

In any case I mainly wanted it to, as I said above, upgrade to 64bit properly. This introduces annoying driver signing (which can at least be temporarily disabled for certain tools I might need to use), but otherwise means I can make use of lots of RAM.

Windows 7 Installs – RAID/SSD stuff

I’ve been using the Windows 7 RC this week until this evening when I got out the Windows 7 Professional that got delivered today. The first point of concern was the use of RAID-0 and the SSD’s. HDTune decided that instead of massive performance gains from RAID-0, it should be slower then my 1TB HDD!

Secondly, there are issues using any RAID with SSD’s. TRIM is useful for keeping speeds constant, and there is no wiping tools made for RAID to do garbage collection for my Crucial SSD’s (and likely won’t be for a while).

Therefore, rather then fight for RAID-0, after I updated the firmware of my Crucial SSD’s, I’ve decided to just use them separately. Windows 7 plus the XP VM is 35GB alone, making it fill most of a single drive in any case.

In the future, if software RAID correctly supports SSD’s I’ll make a change over – if I can get Windows 7 installed so many times I’ll have it down to a T.

Odd thing is I need to enable RAID or IDE in the BIOS (rather then AHCI) to get the CD ROM drives to boot to install the OS. I’m going to mess around to see which is best…(just before I sleep after this, got 200mb/s read, 150mb/s write basically on larger files as advertised, which is nice, and better then before I updated the firmware). whew…long time doing all these combinations.

ATI Drivers

Stay tuned. I’ll get Windows 7 fully installed and tested before complaining that my RC experience was bad!

(However it was terrible. Constant crashes and blue screens – with no overclocking and seemingly no overheating from any part of the system – along with random bursts of 99% usage on the desktop, for no apparent reason, with random fixes I’ve still got bookmarked just in case I need to try them on what should be working drivers although the control panel is utterly terrible regardless…I tell you they’re trying to kill me here, I swear! Never again ATI! even if the performance far outranks nVidia!).

EDID woes

EDID is the Extended Display Identification Data in the firmware of monitors, set along DVI connections to the OS to check what modes a monitor can do.

Sadly, out of my two duplicate 22″ Iiyama monitors, one of them has an obvious EDID deficiency. Luckily XP never noticed this, except saying it was Non-Plug and Play. Windows 7 (and I assume Vista) however doesn’t like this.

My experience has been of utter frustration first of all figuring out that EDID existed in the first place. Then using several tools to read what Windows thought, what the monitor actually reported (which ended up being nothing – ie; there is an issue!) and so on.

Once I figured it out, I unsuccessfully failed to update the EDID with a copy from my other monitor (the tool simply didn’t work), and using Windows 7’s promising EDID override feature failed – likely because of two issues. The first is the ATI drivers (they barely noticed it existed at all most of the time), but secondly, since it never reported any EDID information in the first place, Windows likely didn’t notice the fact I provided EDID information in the new driver file (as it should be to override it). Or maybe it was the ATI drivers there again. I had some random success adding some custom resolutions, kinda, but it was a bit of a mess and ATI didn’t allow me to actually input a custom resolution despite the fact that Windows itself detected it simply as a Generic Doesn’t Want To Tell Me What Monitor It Is item!

I’m going to contact Iiyama if it is still in warranty (and likely even if it isn’t), and hopefully get it fixed that way.

Now, to sleep for me, I’ve got a long weekend ahead of me fixing this mess, or figuring out what I’m doing wrong overall at least 🙂

What I’m Up To In June 2009

I need to get back into posting. Next week I’m going to Paris for the conference, which also means I’ll get a chance to go to some touristy places too, expect photos.

There is also news that the Preservation SIG white paper has been accepted along with other game preservation items to DiGRA 2009, should be good!

I also am playing more games, of course! I should bring back the this week series (which reminds me, I’ll adda way to get to tags somewhere at somepoint…), since this kept my mind in check and gave me something to do each week. I’ve got these to finish at some point:

  • Mount & Blade – highly enjoyable open world game, which I really need to write up about, since I’ve spent hours and hours playing this. Iterative game design obviously wins!
  • Fallout 3 – still not finished, I should push for the end – I seem to have done most of the sidequests.
  • Empire: Total War – I’ve barely scratched the surface of this. I should try doing a new campaign now it’s been heavily patched.
  • STALKER: Clear Sky – I’ve played the start but I really need to reinstall it (I started it before reinstalling my OS) patch and play again, especially since an interesting sequel has been announced.
  • Deus Ex – Vintage Game Club game I got about 1/4 to 1/2 of the way through or so and stopped playing, I need to finish off my gallery.
  • Super Mario Galaxy, No More Heroes both on my Wii 🙂

I also have a huge backlog of games to install, which I’m noting here for myself, and what should be in upcoming posts, although in no particular order:

  • Alpha Centuri – need to play this for the Vintage Game Club actually!
  • Command & Conquer The First Decade – a large mix of RTS fun, I wanted mainly to try C&C 2 (the isometric Tiberium Wars one) again, since I’ve replayed C&C Red Alert before.
  • Mass Effect – Should be fun, I like Bioware stories – although lacking modding for many of their games now is a bit sad.
  • Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor – Another campaign should be fun, and what few friends I have who still play CoH, the additional multiplayer gametypes might be well worth it. I’ll have to see.
  • World in Conflict: Complete Edition – I previously borrowed and played the singleplayer of World in Conflict before, but this gave me an opportunity to have it, play it again with the additional missions. The way they did it sadly means if I did have the original, the new missions are in the middle of the game so can’t be done separately, which is a rather odd choice.
  • Far Cry 2 – Got it with a budget graphics card which is going to stay in my current PC (rather then buy a better card now and cause problems when I want to get an entirely new PC, with SLI or Crossfire), should be interesting to look at even if I’ve not heard always the best things (although Chris Remo loves it, so it can’t be that bad).