davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
So I get back from a lovely holiday to Istanbul and Cappadoccia, with only a minor delay at the airport because my indefinite leave to remain is on a passport I've not seen in 10 years (although my parents do still have it), so of course I'm not on their computer system, and didn't think to take it with me. Fortunately the nice lady allowed me back in the country, but they're very good at making it sound like they're doing you a favour, and its all your fault for not leaving the country often enough, and its your fault for wanting to leave the country. I mean, how dare you have dual nationality, and not go abroad very often...

And I get home and the computer decides it can't find the network its plugged into, even if it will read emails. So a virus search and destroy later I decide to repair windows. Which of course leads to the next clusterfuck. Windows won't accept my activation code. The automated telephone  system doesn't work, none of the supposed work-arounds that relate to IE6 being a pile of crap don't work, nothing. I manage to get through to a technical support bod, who basically says your code has been used on too many computers so its probably counterfeit, report it. Which I'm pretty sure is bollocks because I'm looking at the disc and all the holograms seem absolutely fine. If its a copy, its a really effing good one, and besides I got it from one of the reputable shops in TCR. So I fill out the form anyway, but there's no way they'll send me a replacement disk, because I don't have a receipt for four year-old software.

I have often found that it pays to ask more than once, as the first person you talk to will often be completely wrong. Such as for instance the bizarreness with Natwest and Virgin Media a few years back. The second guy gets me to restart windows, makes no mention of the block on my code, and sees that it doesn't work, so he forwards it to a technical bod. Said technical bod does the logging into your computer thing that they do and finds that its the "System Builder OEM" version, for which he will charge £60 to do anything to. Stuff that I thinks, I can get a copy of Windows 7 for about that (oh, how wrong I was).

So a trip to Tottenham Court Road, where I discover that Micro Anvika have gone down the swanny, and no-one sells Windows 7 other than as the OEM system builder version- which, surprisingly enough I don't want to buy, in case I have the same problems X years down the line. PC World, despite listing it on their website don't sell it anymore. So I'll be picking up a copy in-store having bought it online. And its costs about twice what MS wanted to charge to fix bloody XP. Still, at least I've got something they'll still be supporting this time next year.

However, Nikon stopped supporting their film scanners back when Vista came out, and don't have a driver for 64-bit OS's, or indeed any version of Windows after Vista. Their proposed solution is to fork out another £80-£100 for third party software. Which is pretty bloody stupid really. Especially when it turns out that there's at least two free work-arounds that exist, one of which certainly means you can use their own software, and Epson are still supporting my flatbed that's about the same age.

Its almost enough to make me give up and run Linux. Except I'd almost always be getting it to pretend to be windows. Which rather defeats the object...
davegodfrey: Marvin: ...and me with a terrible pain in all the diodes down my left hand side... (Marvin)
Heartily sick of that sidebar with all those sponsored ads that even AdBlock won't get rid of? I think I've found a solution.

A Greasemonkey script called "Remove Facebook Right Column". Which does exactly what it says on the tin. Gets rid of the "people you might know" section, which, frankly I never used as it cluttered up the screen with people I didn't actually know at all.

And at the same time I found "Facebook Fixed Header" and "Older posts bar always on bottom" which together do something you'd have though FB would have put in from the start wouldn't you? After all if you're at the bottom of the timeline chances are you might want to extend it, rather than hovering about trying to get the thing to pop up. And why have a header with a search bar, and all the other tools disappear off the top that can be so far up?

LJ does this too. Why? Surely we've moved past the days when frames in websites were loathed so universally?
davegodfrey: Cyberman: The Future is Shiny (Shiny)
Oh dear, I've just noticed that Loudtwitter is dead and buried. I thought it stopped working, but I've now discovered that its been shut down (the guy apparently got bored of it and put it up for adoption for about a day, surprisingly enough no-one picked it up).

Of course I've only just noticed this, being so used to Twitter feeding into Facebook. Of course I rarely post anything these days anyway. Which I really ought to rectify- I've been commenting all over Twitter and Facebook about my MTS (Multiple Tank Syndrome, don't ask its potentially contagious. There's at least one other person here who has it. Maybe more), I'd completely forgotten that no-one here was getting running updates.

I'll tell you all about it some other time however.

So I've signed up for Twittinesis so hopefully you'll get all my very short inane blatherings in one easy to ignore post. Oh, and it also works on Dreamwidth. Which is nice.
davegodfrey: Cyberman: The Future is Shiny (Shiny)
I am perhaps something of a luddite when it comes to technology. I still shoot film. With cameras 20 years old. My phone is a Nokia 3310. I listen to a Discman on the way in to work. (It plays MP3 CDs I'm not that far behind the times).

So I am, as you might expect, not excited by the iPad. And the first things I read confirmed my suspicions. It probably isn't for me. And I couldn't really see why anyone else would want one. You can't make calls, so its not as useful as a phone. No videoconferencing, no quick snapshots. So you won't leave the iPhone at home anyway. And virtually everything a laptop does, it does worse. You need an adapter to give you a USB port. And then it describes itself as being a "camera connector kit" Does that mean I can print from it? Or connect a scanner? I doubt it. Nothing other than proprietory software sounds bad to me. I've never used iPhoto. How does it compare with Photoshop CS2? Even if iits good, for anything other than basic tweaking I'd want to be able to use an external mouse or graphics tablet- its got bluetooth, so hopefully that's doable- but by the time you start adding these peripherals you're getting back into laptop territory.

There's certainly no support for Flash, so the only way to view embedded content would be with a trillion and one applicatons. Which seems crazy. I care nothing for a camera in something like that, but clearly several people do. It does however have support for all the iPhone/iPod apps. Which is very nice and gives you a massive ready-made suite of programs, like light-sabres, virtual beer glasses, and things that are actually useful like a word-processor. Tablets as a whole might have a wonderful variety of industrial applications, but I don't think the iPad will be exploiting them just yet. (Its only 2010 after all).

But then I read a bit more. And I can see how even I might get a use out of it. I do not own a laptop. I honestly haven't seen the point. Most of my computer use is either surfing the net, listening to music, watching videos (I recently sent the TV back home as I haven't turned it on in months), and playing music. All of this the iPad will do perfectly well. With one small exception. It does not multitask, other than, presumably allowing you to play music and do one other thing. I think I might be spoiled by Firefox here, as I've lost count of the add-ons I could install to control other software, check websites and suchlike without even switching tabs.

However the other thing I use my computer for that the iPad is photo manipulation. There is no way an iPad will replace my set up (extra monitor, scanners, graphics tablet, printer, card readers, etc). Once I've plugged all that in there is absolutely no value in me having a laptop, either, as I'm tied to the desk anyway. Better to have something with a big screen and a keyboard I can actually write on than something small and cramped. But as I say. This isn't what I do most of the time. I can see it being extremely useful to be able to throw something nice and light in the suitcase, and keep myself entertained in the evenings. No more working out which books to take with me- its an ebook reader, I'll have a small library thank-you. I can have a variety of films, and most of my music collection. That should keep me occupied through a wet weekend in Wales when the rain's horizontal, and you really don't want to leave the caravan (Yes I've been on holidays like that).

Except the memory is tiny. The cheap one is 16GB. The expensive ones are 64GB Most people with digital SLRs have 4-8GB sitting in their cameras, and another two or three to spare. This is not the relatively portable storage for anyone moderately snap-happy that even a cheap laptop would be. Anyone serious would use a notebook- Still a market for the Airbook then.

However, as I've said most of what I do most of the time could very easily be done on the iPad. The portability would be quite nice- though I'm not sure how ubiquitous free wifi is in the UK compared with the states. My inbuilt pessimism tells me I'd need the 3G version if I took it out of the house. And the keyboard looks horrible to use. I have tried using the one on an iPhone briefly. I didn't like it much. Then again, I like the tactile feel I get from typing.

So for me it would be a toy. For the people who find computers strange and bewildering beasts it will be very nice. Until they want to do two things at once, or print a document, or... And then there's all the fans who'd buy a turd if you polished it and stuck the Apple logo on it. So I'm sure it will sell well enough, and then maybe when you get to the 3rd or 4th generation we'll have a product I'd actually be interested in.

But frankly the real kicker for me is this quote: "Closed devices are the future of computing." It is probably true. And that is something I am truly afraid of.
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davegodfrey: Flying Spaghetti Monster : Touched by his noodly appendage (FSM)
Recently I broke the circuit board on the keyboard trying to thread the flex through a bootlace, and as Maplin don't make it any more I had to buy a new one. (I'll probably go looking for a replacement on the Bay of E sometime soon, because for some reason this new one just isn't as nice to type on...) As I already had the keys all made up it was a fairly quick job to cut down the key-caps, cover the board in sticky-backed plastic, and a bit of leatherette, and this time rather than cutting the cable and risk damaging the keyboard I've done the sensible thing and wrapped string round the outside.

Last week I pottered around Oxford Street poking about MacCulloch & Wallis, and John Lewis' haberdashery departments. I picked up a cheap black shirt from the nice people at BHS and have comprehensively voided the warranty by sticking bits all over it. Its not quite complete yet, I think I'll get some of the organza style stuff and add another layer or two of ruffley bits to the cuffs, and maybe hide the seams behind more silk ribbon.

At the same time I picked up this nice dark brown strip of fake fur that's 15cm x 150cm, and have absolutely no idea what to do with it.

I'm thinking of sewing the edges together and just making a scarf, but that just seems rather boring. I've got about a square metre of black velvet, and quite a bit of the brown leatherette from the keyboard left over. Arm warmers maybe? Though I'd not wear them would anyone else want a pair? Or do you have better ideas? Preferably that don't involve drawing patterns or anything sensible like that...
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Oh cock.

Nov. 29th, 2009 06:15 pm
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
I've broken my nice Steampunk keyboard. :( Yesterday I finally got sick of the brown tape I'd wrapped around the cable and decided to replace it by threading it through a bootlace with the middle bit removed. This is a trick I've seen on several builds, and I rather like it. Unfortunately cutting it is easy. Reconnecting is not. I cut far too close to the board, and through various errors ended up removing part of the PCB with the soldering iron. Now I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that's fatal.

Ho-hum I think, off to Maplin for a new £5 keyboard, swap the cables around, and this time I'll use glue and string, and not be so ambitious. Turns out they don't sell the keyboard any more. Cheapest one they have is £10, never mind, I'll get it and it'll be fine. It is of course too much to expect that I'll be able to reuse the original frame, but I have found a replacement. Unfortunately its actually worse to type on. The keys are really nasty and squishy, and even more inconveniently the squishy membrane bit is made of individual bits. I've already lost one opening up the back to take a look! And the long keys have these metal bits which probably help pring them back up, but after being cut down actually stop the key springing back!

Has someone seen the Steampunk genre and decided to make their products as awkward to mod as possible? Still the board itself is black, which at least cuts down on painting all the key-stems, and the plastic is a little flimsier, which means I can pull things apart with pliers, rather than dremelling everything.

Frankly the most annoying part of the whole thing is having to get a replacement lining for the key-trays. I'm out of the leatherette I got for next to nowt, and can't reuse it as the holes I've cut are the wrong shape and in the wrong place.
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
Happy Birthday Elite. 25 years old, and still arguably one of the best games I ever played. 22k of immersive space-based roleplay. I used to love puttering about on the "Leesti-Diso" run until I'd saved up enough credits for the military lasers, and then go off looking for a Fer-De-Lance to waste, hoping I'd pick up a few extra credits here, or some illicit cargo there. Happy days.

OK so the sound and graphics have got better since then, and the rise of MMORPGs has changed the scene somewhat, but it is still true that games that allow this much free rein, where your success is defined by what you want it to be, where your "character"'s story is created by your actions, rather than the developer's idea for a plot, are few and far between. In fact the modern MMORPG, with its free-form personal storytelling ideas would be nothing without Braben and Bell's little wire frame models.

So I shall raise a toast to the two of them, and hope that Braben gets Elite 4 out in time for the 50th anniversary. See you in Witchspace.

davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
Well for now. I'm pretty much out of things to modify.

I wasn't entirely happy with the buttons on the 15" monitor, so I bought some nice buttons, filed off the loops at the back and glued them on.

Monitor 1 )

Since the last update I've also completed the 19" monitor.

Monitor 2- Screen )

And now for the base...

Monitor 2 - Base )
And Lo. It was Done.


Yes. that is a periodic table mug you can see in the corner. And the china Parasaurolophus is a cream jug. Don't ask.
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)

Today I went to see the Orchids over at Kew Gardens, and discovered another reason why 2009 is the year of real science. Its Kew Garden's 250th birthday, so raise glass of something nice and botanical to them sometime.

I also picked up the bits of copper pipe and angles that Dad had, so after getting hope I cut some pipes up and finished off this.

Three quick cuts and tighten up the compression joints et voila!

Piccies? )
davegodfrey: Cyberman: The Future is Shiny (Shiny)
Last time I painted the plastic parts, and covered it in wood-effect sticky-backed-plastic. At the time I didn't really know what I was going to do for the support. Building a new base, while still using parts of the existing stand turned out to be impractical- I don't have access to a drillbit the right size. Having seen these lamps from Professor Fzz made me think of alternative designs using plumbing parts. And when I realised what the four holes on the back were for- they're to attach the monitor to a wall like a flat panel TV- everything fell into place.

Brilliant, drill holes, attach the copper pipe (leftover from the computer) that'll work! I won't have to chop up small bits of wood to fit in the slots where the previous stand went. And I can rotate the thing by 90 degrees and mount it vertically if I really wanted to. I can't adjust the angle that the monitor is at, but that's a sacrifice I'm happy to make.

One problem, it falls flat on its face.I'll need to get a couple of 90 degree compression joints and another 8" or so of pipe and build a "U" shape, attach it to the front, and then I'll have a completed desktop set! Watch this space!
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
I've done a computer, a trackball, a keyboard and a card reader.

Now for the biggie. The monitor. Currently I have two, a Samsung which might not be too difficult- build a frame attach a stand, like the [livejournal.com profile] vonslatt version, and all will be well, and a smaller 15" I bought at the same time as the original HP that until recently provided the guts of the Xion Aetheric Computational Engine.

Dismantling it, the plastic bits look like this. Note the "T" shaped part. This is the part that allows the monitor to pivot. The fact that it has a sort of plug shape is going to be important for phase 2:

Unfortunately it has built-in speakers, there are two separate circuit boards, and the stand is a horrible curvy monstrosity I'm not sure I can do anything with. Fortunately I do still have the rest of that Fablon sticky backed plastic, for the nice easy flat bits. (I swear I'll be making clothes out of it next.)

From behind. I think it'll need several coats of paint. And I'll have to do the ink-wash thing at some point. But its a start, and they're just minor points Liquid leaf is soluble in white spirit, which makes cleaning up any messy bits nice and easy.

Some spraypaint, liquid leaf and careful sticking later and the front looks like this (that pink thing is a Kaiyodo model of a Diplocaulus. Why can't Kinder Egg be as good as this?):

I haven't done anything to the unpainted base, and I'm not going to. It will be replaced by a block of wood drilled to accommodate the "plug" on the pivot piece, and then I'll build a base that allows me to attach it using the screw that holds it to the current base. So the base will be a squarish block, with a short square column that the largely completed bit is fixed to.

Quite what I'll do to the base, I'm not entirely certain. Maybe follow others in making the base look like marble/granite? Lion's feet? Some sort of brocade fabric? We shall see.

It lives!

Nov. 8th, 2008 12:10 am
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
I was hoping to liveblog the US election (or at least a couple of hours of the coverage- Simon Schama being erudite, Christopher Hitchens being belligerant about Elizabeth Dole, that sort of thing). As it is the only comment I shall make on the election is this:

YES!!!! It feels like 1997 all over again. I just hope the optimism is justified this time round...

Unfortunately last Tuesday the 'puter died on me in a fairly dramatic way that I couldn't fix by reinstalling windows. The chap down the road told me it was probably the hard drive and hed sort everything out. Lovely I think, no worries.

Except the motherboard is dead. And the power supply is on its last legs.

So I've basically had to buy a new 'puter. £250 on hardware gets me an Intel Dual Core thing, 2GB of ram, a graphics card (ATI HD3450 512MB for those that must know), another hard drive, a board to put it all on, and a PSU to run it. And on top of that I had to give Bill Bloody Gates some cash to get an operating system to run everything, as I'm assured the old HP bundled stuff won't work. Still the optical drives, the big HDD and the case are still compatible.

Anyway I think this bugger deserves a name. I called the last one Deep Thought, for obvious reasons, but I can't think of a name for this one. Bear in mind its basically had its heart ripped out and replaced, and now has two brains I'm sure you can think of something suitable. Over to you O f'list of mine...
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
One of the things I like most about Steampunk is the clothes. But I haven't got much to wear, and what I do have doesn't have a very high mad science quotient. Well now I've done something about that.

The Godfrey & Partners Air Cooled Glove. Pat. Pending. )
Using it is actually surprisingly comfortable, though typing is a little awkward. I'm not sure one could touch-type in it. I've also modified the trackball to go with it, though I haven't done too much to it.

The Logical Technologies Tracking Ball Pointing Device )

 I'd like to do something with the ball (maybe some sort of black crystal?) But I don't know what it can be replaced with- being an optical unit I don't think any old ball will do. Those dots are probably there for a reason.  The dull grey scroll wheel looks a little out of place, but anything I do to that will have to be really hard wearing- paint would look good, but rub off in no time.
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
More computer case modding. I'm sure one of the flaws in my art is that I don't know when to leave a picture. If I was painting the Mona Lisa, Brian Sewell would be saying:

Had David been a genius he would have stopped with a single Pteranodon, however the flock he chose to include overwhelms the viewer, and one is left ultimately unsatisfied.

See what I mean... )
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
OK, so you've seen the Von Slatt masterpiece and Datamancer's beautiful variants on the theme of keyboards. There are other other versions too, [livejournal.com profile] mbarrick has made a version out of a considerably cheaper keyboard. Given I too am on a budget this is the plan I've followed.
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I have however made a truckload of mistakes, so you don't have to. I've got through three keyboards making this mod. breaking off the sockets for the keys seemed like a good idea, but as I ended up disliking the paintjob on the first one (and the PS/2 cable broke) I got a new board and started that bit again. As its a cheap £5 job from Maplin its not going to break the bank any time so no worries there.

The keys are already done so all I have to do is decorate the fascia. I picked up a smaller version of the flower button for the second enter key. The typeface is Baskerville Oldface. I thought about using roman numerals for the function keys like many before me, but its nice to be different sometimes. Plus I like the look of the cursive f's.

The album that provided the green leather for the bays on the PC had a large area of dark tan leather, which shops up nicely into sections to line the tray. As you can see the cutting out is not perfect, but nothing is stuck down and I'll go round the bits that show with some gouache so they aren't visible. Electrical tape is wrapped around the flex (If I ever get hold of mylar braided sleeving this will go over the top.) In the best tradition of Blue Peter I've still got masses of sticky-backed plastic, so that goes on the back and top. Some very small brass angle goes around the space bar.

More Fablon on the back, and metallic enamel paint...

The keys go in and some more brass angle goes on at the top. Black buttons with crystals in are the power/sleep/wake keys in the right-hand corner, and those plastic domes you stick on things are used to cover the LEDs. (I filed off the mirrored backs so the light shines through.)

I put the flower buttons into larger buttons to give them the same look as the other keys, and  replaced the totally unsuitable windows logo with some nice flowery arrows. (I think they're from winddings or something).

A shot with all the LEDs lit. I'm contemplating replacing the black crystal buttons with ones with brass, but for now I think its job well done. I still have plenty of brass angle left, so I might put some around the top of the function key trays, and take the edging down to meet the painted brass bit. I know the paint looks a bit scuffed, but I like the fact that it looks a bit used, as if this is a real antique and has seen some use. Maybe the owner took it home from the office after they brought in these nasty new white boxes?
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davegodfrey: Hello Cthulhu! (Cthulhu!)
A minor tweak to largely finish off the computer, and some serious progress on the keyboard. I'm not sure I want to start on a monitor yet, they just look to much like hard work.

One mod down, one progressing nicely. ) 

Unless I add some handles to the top (which won't happen for a while) I think its complete. (I wouldn't mind modifying the big silver panel, but it just isn't something I think I can do without running the risk of breaking it totally, nor do I know what to replace or cover it with.)

The keyboard however does need some work, but is getting on very nicely.

The surround is sprayed black, a few strokes of black enamel paint lend an industrial "used" look. The surrounds for the power keys, leds and the space bar are then touched up in copper enamel. I've done the same with the key-posts. A few coats of sealant, and it should be done.

A couple of hours in photoshop and the labels are written and printed off. All done, cut down, stuck on the buttons and placed on the spare keyboard to check how it all looks. I'll be covering the labels with Humbrol Glosscote varnish, which should be fine. Yep I'm happy with that. I need to pop down to John Lewis and get a smaller version of the flowery return button for the keypad enter key. I've followed [livejournal.com profile] mbarrick's lead and used a compass rose design on the cursor keys. Baskerville Old Face is quite a nice font for this I think, though I've used something more flowing for the f's on the function keys. I was tempted to use "Lucida Blackletter". Maybe for the [info]innerbrat's clockpunk mod?
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Dave Godfrey)
A quick mod report-

davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Dave Godfrey)
(Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4)

My computer still doesn't have enough brass on the front for my liking. After the last bout of modding the front didn't look that good. I'd managed to scratch the front by the new power button, and the vandal switch itself didn't completely cover the hole where the old button used to be.

Parts for the keyboard are gradually coming along. If I can get the leather and something to put over the buttons I could make a start...
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Cthulhu)
I think this is issue 3. I might well be wrong. (Previously on steampunk)

Planning is also in progress for the keyboard too.

As an aside, does anyone know how many LEDs can be attached to a single HDD LED header? Either in series or parallel? I like the idea of having twin HDD LEDs either side of the reset/power buttons, rather than everything in a row.
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Cthulhu)
I haven't posted on this in a while, which is a pity cos I've done some more work on the 'puter mod.

First I managed to get some brass sheeting from 4D-Models down in Aldgate. (A lovely little shop with masses of nifty stuff. 2mm thick lead sheet anyone?)

Further work-
  • Replace the feet with something similar to the top but flat. Brass and glass maybe?
  • Alternatively claw feet would be awesome- If I can find them.
  • A friend at work says he may have some spare copper pipe, so there may be tubing on the other side.
  • Frosting on the window.


davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
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