My First Coppermine CPU

Yesterday evening in the mail I received, amongst a whole package of computer junk I didn’t really want, a couple of socket 370 CPUs. Four of them, to be exact. One is a Pentium III Coppermine CPU proper (an SL52R), the others are Celerons of various speeds.

You’ll notice that the SL52R is the same sSpec I was raving on about in my last post on this subject. So why did I rush out and buy one? Because to me, it has beautiful proportions. 1GHz is a nice round number. In my opinion the amount of cache is a nicer number than any other amount (256KiB instead of the 128KiB found in the Celerons and some Pentium IIIs), and the core voltage is nicer (1.75V). I would have preferred a 100MHz bus speed (instead of 133MHz), since that’s a nice round number, but you can’t have everything. Plus, a 133MHz bus does go a lot faster.

Unfortunately the picture isn’t mine; my digital camera has decided not to work in the cold this morning.

Pentium III Coppermine SL52R
Pentium III Coppermine SL52R


For the last few years I’ve been following with interest a tiny little program called Notepad2. Essentially it’s just a text editor (very similar to Notepad included with Windows), but it does have a few tricks up its sleeve.

For starters, it has syntax highlighting. And I argue, very very nice syntax highlighting. I much prefer it to other editors I have installed on my computers (Dev-C++, Visual Studio, Emacs) as well as others I’ve used in the past (GEdit, Kate). Arguably though it’s not as complex as any of these editors. In addition, it does line wrap, line numbering, and more. Pretty much every part of the editor is configurable. It also automatically detects between Windows, UNIX and MacOS 9 line endings (very useful when you swap source code between Windows and GNU/Linux).

Notepad2 editing a Patch file
Notepad2 editing a Patch file

There’s a lot of things it doesn’t do though. It’s not a fully-fledged IDE, by any means. It has no idea about projects, function parameter hinting, Makefiles, or anything like that. If you want an IDE, look elsewhere. Which is why I have Visual Studio installed. It does everything, and then some more (in a few gigabytes of disk space).

Above all else though, there is one very handy reason why I have Notepad2 installed. It’s because it can completely replace Notepad. Because Notepad2 is only a single file, like Notepad, with no other dependencies except Windows itself, it just slots in. After removing all the security on the Notepad.exe file in the Windows folder, you can just copy and paste Notepad2 in. And then all the links and file extensions pointing to Notepad just open Notepad2 instead. If this sounds pretty cool, you can learn how to do it here (XP) or here (Vista). I wish there was an installer for Notepad2 that did all this automatically; at the moment Notepad2 is just distributed as a bare executable file. But I certainly won’t be complaining too loudly.

If you’re looking for a simple editor for when a full IDE isn’t necessary, or you’re still using the default Notepad for everything (shock horror), then I’d definitely give Notepad2 a go. Even if you don’t fully replace the original Notepad, it’s still a pretty cool upgrade from Notepad.


ExpanDrive for Windows

Recently I found a quite awesome piece of software, and I thought I’d share it with you.

ExpanDrive is basically an SFTP file system driver for Windows. What it does in plain English is turn an SFTP share on a remote computer (say, for instance, my virtual server on the other side of the world) and turn it into a drive letter on my laptop. Like so:

My Computer using ExpandDrive
My Computer using ExpandDrive

This is the first piece of software I’ve found that does this, and does it well enough that I can just click on the drive, click on any file inside the drive, and it automatically copies and opens in the appropriate application. Saving inside the application also works. For instance, I had a word document lying around on my server, so I thought I’d test it out. I opened it up just like a normal file, edited it, saved it, and so on, and it just all worked normally.

The only difference from a local drive or a Samba share is the speed at which things happen. There is a noticeable difference (to be expected, it going over several ADSL connections). Opening a text file took about half to one second, saving it about the same.

The people who make this software say that it’s “rediculously simple”. They are very right, it is. Anybody who has used WinSCP would be familiar with that software’s connection screen. ExpanDrive’s is very similar:

ExpanDrive Main Window
ExpanDrive Main Window

One bug I have noticed is that the drive usage is wrong. I know for a fact my vserver doesn’t have 12TB of storage space available (as shown in picture above). I’m actually using about 30% of 12GB, so I’m guessing they just checked total disk space wrong.

The only downside is to this software is cost. It’s $39.95USD for a single license (a license can be used for multiple SFTP shares). While it’s not a huge amount, it’s more than I’d like to pay for something like this (in my mind, this sort of thing is worth about $20USD). I haven’t bought it yet, I’m still using the trial (which lasts for 30 days). But I think I will.


Why I Blog

I’ve been ‘blogging’ now for over two years (I wrote my first post on May 13th, 2006). Not all of that time has been on this web server, but what now constitutes the majority has been. I’ve started to wonder, since I realised last week that it had been that long, about why it is exactly that I blog.

When I started this wondering, I wasn’t really sure why it was. I couldn’t put my finger on it. So I turned the question around. Why do other people blog? And why do I read their blogs? I was sure, if I could answer those two questions, the answer to my original question would become much more apparent.

A ‘blog’, the now common shortening of web log, is basically a series of web pages arranged in reverse chronological order with an RSS feed attached. They are mostly personal, that is, written by a person rather than a group or corporation. We are now seeing group blogs, that is, blogs with multiple authors from a certain group, such as Debian or WordPress. But they are still written from an individual’s perspective

So why is it that blogs appeal to the person rather than to the group? A lot of people have speculated, and I agree with them, that it is because groups have other means of being heard. A large newspaper (a group, as it were) can have an amazing impact on how we see information. A news channel on TV, or a respected journal, can also have an impact on how we see information. Anybody who disagrees probably hasn’t read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. An individual has nowhere near this much sway on how people think. Barack Obama, president of the U.S., and that dude that runs the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke are arguably the two most powerful people on the face of the planet. And yet CNN has much more sway over people than them.

It’s not because people don’t want to be heard. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. I know quite a few people with huge egos who would love to have a sway on how people act. I’m probably one of them. It’s that they can’t be heard. One person funding, writing, editing, publishing, and distributing a major newspaper, every single day of their life? Unheard of! A blog allows people to have a say, even if their say is only a little drop in the blogging ocean. And they can be heard. Some of them have quite a bit of say. The technology has emerged in the last five years for people to claim back the popular media, and they have jumped at the chance.

As an aside, a blog isn’t the only way in which people are claiming back the media. Podcasts are another big way in which information is now being transmitted, all free of charge.

People (I think) also blog for different reasons. We aren’t all egotistical maniacs, after all. Sometimes it’s to help other people out. A website is a great way of distributing information, and a blog makes it really easy to do so. So easy, in fact, I could probably teach my grandmother to do it. Take, for instance, my own blog. Thousands of two people are reading my operating system development tutorials. They’re not brilliant, but they are helping people. Some people write about how to draw, or write, or even how to blog.

There’s one more reason why I think people blog. And that is that everybody else is. Like the iPod, the blog is now a fad, a trendy thing that makes you cool (I don’t have an iPod. I’m not cool. I rest my case). Over the last few years, numbers of blogs have exploded. I don’t remember seeing many at all back in the early part of this decade, but now they are here in the hundreds of thousands.

But it makes you wonder. Who else reads all these hundreds of thousands of blogs? Well, for a start, other bloggers. It creates networks of blogs. Blogrolls link together people from across the globe, all vaguely interested in the same thing. And there’s the other thing. There’s somebody interested in even the strangest things, because otherwise those strange things wouldn’t exist.

So there we have it, I think. Other people blog because they have something to say, want to say it, and want to be cool like everybody else. That sounds fair enough to me. I’m much the same.


Writing Emails to “People”?

I was reading this post by Seth Godin today which made me think about how we communicate through letters today.

In summary, his posts teaches how to send a personal email. It’s a valuable skill, and due to the volume of automated email (and spam!) that we get daily, it’s starting to become something of a lost skill. I’m lucky to get one personal email a day. Some weeks I get none at all.

Once I read Seth’s post, I sat down and wrote an email to one of my friends. My email was a few paragraphs long, maybe 200 words or so. The response I got back was a single line, probably under 100 characters. It was as if I had just been sent an SMS via email. And then I realised; that was the usual medium of communication for my friend.

Which makes me feel a bit sad, for a couple of reasons. We read stories all the time about people in the early days, before the Internet (gasp!) who wrote letters to each other constantly. Around ANZAC day here in Australia, we get reminded a lot of the soldiers in the world wars who wrote letters to their loved ones, basically just to tell them they were still alive. Seeing as it took weeks or months for the letters to get home, it must have been a powerful experience to get a letter.

It also makes me sad because my friend didn’t take the time to write a full letter back. That’s not how text messages work. With a text message, it’s say a sentence, other person replies, say something else, reply, and so on. It can go on for days, wasting everybody’s time and money. I don’t like this, and I think it needs to change.

I’ve tried sending out personal emails to other people as well, both after reading Seth’s post and before. Half the time, I didn’t even get a reply. Now that’s just rude.