Simon’s Backup Weblog


Duck Matrix Display

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 31, 2006

Duck Matrix Display
Originally uploaded by sbisson.

An array of ducks on the Thames. What are they spelling?

Is there some sort of Drake Vinci code at play here?

There’s certainly an “O” in the middle…

Putney
July 2006

Wow…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 31, 2006

Here are a pile of photos of Sony filming a new commercial in Glasgow. Paint bombs everywhere!

Start here and then move on through the photos….

Link found via Linkbunnies

[Update: points us all at this video of the paintbombing of the flats]

A little joke

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 31, 2006

Why are pirates called pirates?

No one knows. They just ARRRR!

spotted on a mailing list

Unbricking a Belkin KVM

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 31, 2006

A while back I mentioned my shiny new Belkin F1DH102U Dual Head KVM.

After a day or so using it, I discovered that it really couldn’t cope with UK keyboards directly – quite hard when writing about C# and the # key doesn’t work. I suspect this is down to it capturing and scanning key codes to handle the keyboard shortcuts for device switching.

I could switch to a US layout, but that’s not really much good. However, after a little experimentation I discovered that you could put a USB keyboard in one of its standard USB ports, and it would work just fine – in fact you could go back to using application launch buttons and media controls (and in the case of my keyboard of choice, the scroll wheel and copy and paste buttons). There was just one problem. The KVM complained most vociferously that it didn’t have a keyboard where it was expecting one. The incessant bleep was rather annoying, and meant I had to find another solution…

Luckily Belkin has some firmware that removes the keyboard detection functions from its KVMs, so I downloaded it from the Belkin site, and set about reflashing the KVM.

This is where this turns into a cautionary tale. I didn’t realise there was a problem with my PC’s printer port (I still struggle on with a motherboard that I really should have replaced after the PSU went “bang” last year), and a failed firmware transfer bricked the device. Ooops. It was working on one PC, but I couldn’t switch to the other. The button didn’t work. At least it wasn’t going bleep every few seconds.

More awkwardly, Belkin didn’t seem to make the default firmware available, so I wasn’t able to return it to its default state. I decided to put things aside for a couple of days, and got on with writing. After all, it was deadline crunch week.

When things quietened down, I went back to the problem. I wondered if the Belkin software contained both versions of the software. It seemed bigger than it should be – but there was no documentation one way or the other on the Belkin site.

In a spirit of scientific enquiry, I hooked the KVM up to ‘s PC, and reflashed it. After I power cycled it, it sat there going bleep. The buttons seemed to work, too! I quickly hooked it up to my rig, and yes, everything was back to normal.

I then hooked it back up to ‘s PC, and flashed it again. No bleep, and the buttons worked. I hooked things back up, and everything was working just the way I hoped. It even coped with multiplexed USB devices (so I’ve got a USB port free that I can share between my PCs. I suspect I shall hook the web cam into it).

Phew.

A lesson or two learned.

Oh, and Belkin? Please update your documentation to note that the flash software contains both the original and new software, and will happily restore the device to the default configuration if there are any problems with a firmware update. Thanks.

Sorkin’s “Network” moment.

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 31, 2006

Thanks to the joy of Bitorrents, the pilot of “Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip“.

Oh yes, it’s good. Sorkin snappiness, Felicity Huffman in Dana mode, and the best denunciation of network television yet, as Jud Hirsch’s character melts down in front of the cameras.

You should change the channel right now, or better yet turn off the TV.

No, I know it seems like this is supposed to be funny, but tomorrow you’re gonna find out it wasn’t and I’ll have been fired by then. This isn’t supposed–this isn’t a sketch.

This show used to be cutting edge political and social satire, but it’s gotten lobotomized by a candy-ass broadcast network hell-bent on doing nothing that might challenge their audience.

We were about to do a sketch you’ve already seen 500 times. Yes, no one’s gonna confuse George Bush with George Plimpton, we get it. We’re all being lobotomized by the country’s most influential industry which has thrown in the towel on any endeavor that does not include the courting of 12-year-old boys.

And not event the smart 12-year-olds, the stupid ones, the idiots, of which there are plenty thanks in no small part to this network. So change the channel, turn off the TV. Do it right now.

…and there’s always been a struggle between art and commerce, but now I’m telling you art is getting is ass kicked, and it’s making us mean, and it’s making us bitchy, and it’s making us cheap punks and that’s not who we are.

…We’re eating works for money, “Who Wants to Screw My Sister”, guys are getting killed in a war that’s got theme music and a logo. That remote in your hand is a crack pipe…

..and it’s not even good pornography. They’re just this side of snuff films, and friends, that’s what’s next ’cause that’s all that’s left.

And the two things that make them scared gutless are the FCC and every psycho-religious cult that gets positively horny at the very mention of a boycott.

These are the people they’re afraid of, this prissy, feckless, off-the-charts greed-filled whorehouse of a network you’re watching. This thoroughly unpatriotic–

You can find an early version of the script here.

(Still, mediawise I’m enjoying Sky’s new series and reruns of “Las Vegas” which is smart, sassy, and well directed, with good, fun stories.)

We don’t no steeenkin’ buttons…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 30, 2006

Or perhaps we do.

Here’s Google’s library of more than 600 new search buttons you can add to the newly customisable Google browser toolbar. There’s a nice selection of reference sources, and buttons that’ll search many other search engines.

Useful…

Robot vs. Cat

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 30, 2006

Domo Origato, Mr Roboto.

Because you are the new cat toy of choice in this household.

The cats are currently trying to hunt the Roomba as its trilobitoid form scurries under the sofa. It’s like bed mice, only less likely to get annoyed…

Neat Tool of the Day: The PC De-Crapifier

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 28, 2006

New PCs tend to be full of shovelware – applications and ISP trials you’ll never use. You could do a vape and reinstall, but if you don’t have a vanilla OS to hand you’re probably stuck with a restore image that’ll just put the shovelware right back again. That’s where today’s neat tool comes in: The PC De-Crapifier. Regularly updated, it’s a one stop shop for cleaning out a new PC.

Run the script, and it’ll remove most of the most common shovelware:

The user can select exactly what is uninstalled from the list below

* QuickBooks Trial
* NetZero Installers
* Earthlink Setup Files
* Tiscali Internet Files
* Wanadoo Europe Installer
* Corel Photo Album 6
* McAffee Personal Firewall
* McAffee SpamKiller
* McAffee VirusScan Online
* McAffee Security Center
* Google Desktop
* Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer
* America Online 9.0 US Version
* America Online 9.0 UK Version
* Musicmatch Jukebox
* Musicmatch Music Services
* Get High Speed Internet!
* Internet Service Offers Launcher
* Norton Ghost 10.0
* Search Assistant
* MS Plus! Photo Story 2 LE
* MS Plus! Digital Media Edition Installer
* Corel Word Perfect
* Roxio RecordNow
* Sonic DLA
* Sonic Update Manager
* Sonic RecordNow Audio
* Sonic RecordNow Copy
* Roxio MyDVD LE

Originally designed for Dell PCs (and originally called the Dell De-Crapifier), this is one for that USB key of useful tools you end up having to carry every time you go visit your relatives…

Pimp my words

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 26, 2006

IT Pro has my report on the reasons behind the merger of ATI and AMD.

In the wake of the announcement of the merger between AMD and chipset and graphics powerhouse ATI, IT PRO sat down with AMD’s chief administrative officer Thomas McCoy and ATI’s EMEA managing director Peter Edinger to learn more about the deal – and what it’ll mean for the industry.

It’s all about the strategy – and that strategy is all about competing with Intel on the desktop. AMD needs to increase its volume sales, and the only way to do that is to get a bigger share of the desktop and mobile computing market (as well as moving into home entertainment equipment, and providing low-cost hardware for emerging markets).

A surprisingly open conversation (within the limits of US financial regulations).

Suckling at the electronic teat

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 25, 2006

Suckling at the electronic teat
Originally uploaded by sbisson.

Suckling at the electronic teat

Our new Roomba Scheduler at its charging station.

(And I’ve finally realised that iRobot’s devices remind me of various types of trilobite. It’s that head shield and the way they scuttle around the floor…)

Putney
July 2006

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