Three events worth mentioning.

There’s three events between now and the end of the year that I think is worth blogging about. The first is the rAge expo, happening in Johannesburg from the 29th September to 1st October. It’s a massive gaming event (they’re talking about 1200 people attending this year), as well as an exhibition on the “fun” side of technology. I’ll definitely be on my way there, provided that I can get a ride up with someone else who is going.

The second is BarCamp Durban, happening in November. It’s an informal conference on all things open-source. There’s no charge for attending but there is a catch: you have to be prepared to contribute. I haven’t decided what I’ll be talking about, but I’m thinking about speaking on the IRC server< ->server protocol. Most of the attendees probably know the basics of IRC, hopefully I can give them some interesting information that they may not have known about. I know that jerith is leading up a large contingent from Cape Town, so things could get interesting.

Thirdly, I’ll be jetting off to visit some relatives in Australia come the end of the year. I’m leaving on December 16th and will be returning on December 30th. (At 22:00, ugh!) I’ll be in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. If anyone wants me to bring a kangaroo back home with me, please let me know. I’m not sure how I’ll get it through customs but I’ll make a plan.

Computer update: Graphics card down, PSU to go.

It’s almost ready…

As the post title implies, my new PC is very nearly ready. I’ve just got the PSU and graphics card to go, and then I’m finally finished building it and will be ready to enjoy it 🙂

Here’s a quick photo (it already looks like a real mess inside):

Of course, once I’ve finished assembling it, there’s the schlep of installing Windows (ugh!), installing a million and one drivers, and transferring ~100GB of stuff from the old computer…

Embarrassing benchmark results.

Windows Vista contains a handy little benchmarking utility; the idea being that games and stuff will be released with a minimum rating on them. Anyway, since I have Beta 2 of Vista in my possession, I installed it on my old rig and ran it. Here’s the rather embarrassing results (click on the image to see it in all its glory, or lack thereof):

It didn’t even pick up my TNT2 graphics card. I doubt there’s even any Vista drivers for it.

I was planning on running it on my new machine, but there aren’t any Vista RAID drivers for my motherboard (Gigabyte GA-K8N Pro SLI). I did e-mail Gigabyte asking about the availability of such drivers, and got the following reply:

Dear Sir,

Thank you for supporting GIGABYTE products and contacting GBT Tech Support. As to the problem you mentioned, since the chipset venders do not yet officially release the driver, we do not guarantee the M/B can support such OS. Therefore, we will suggest you to use the OS which is currently supported. Otherwise, you may contact the chipset vender or refer to the 3rd party web site for further assistance.

If in the future the chipset vender release driver for it, then you can use it on the M/B. If you still have any further question or suggestion about our products/service, please do not hesitate to contact with us directly. We will try our best to help you resolve the problem ASAP.

Best Regards,

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of a “vender”…

First Bootable attained!

During my week off, my processor and RAM arrived. I installed them, then plugged in the old TNT2 graphics card to see if all was well. To my surprise, everything worked first time. I’d even plugged in those LED lights in the front of the case the right way around. Of course, I can only get as far as the BIOS screen at the moment since I don’t have the hard drives yet (they’re coming on Thursday, together with my new keyboard and mouse), but at least I now know that I can put together a computer from scratch (which isn’t as easy as it sounds). And crimp network cables too.

I’ve nearly finished construction of my new PC now. After the hard drive and peripherals arrive, I just need to wait for my power supply extension cables to arrive, and then next month when I have some cash I can splash out on the graphics card. I’ve decided which card I’m going to get – it’s (surprise surprise) the GeForce 7950 GX2. To get the cash for that, I’m cutting down on the hard drives. Instead of four drives in RAID 0+1, I’m settling for just two drives in RAID 0. Besides, as was pointed out to me, four drives is overkill.

I quite enjoyed my week off, and wish that I could have had longer than a week. (Don’t we all?) We had a good time showing my aunt around the place, from the little nature reserves to the Midlands to the Hare Krishna temple in Chatsworth. (The breyani that they serve there is absolutely awesome.) Today they’re off to the Tala Game Reserve just outside Pietermaritzburg. While I’m stuck here at work.

I’ve been told about the rAGe LAN, which is a 700 man gaming event happening in Johannesburg on the last weekend of September. Two of my friends are going, and they’ve invited me to go with them. Now I need to get that PC finished and working…

Intro week.

Sorry about the lack of posts this week but things have been really hectic around here. The students have been on holiday for this week and for next, so you’d expect that I would have been taking things easy. Unfortunately, not. During this past week, we’ve been running “Intro Week”, which is (as you’d quite rightly expect) an information week for prospective students. It’s totally filled with talks, IT-related activities and other fun stuff. Now, it’s fun from their point of view. Not from ours. Some of these guys had never programmed or anything before, so Monday and Tuesday were quite interesting. On Monday we gave them some HTML to do, and on Tuesday it was writing a quick C# program. Most of them gave up after around 30 minutes. That being said, there were some really bright ones that finished in 30 minutes. I’m hoping next year that I end up dealing more with the bright ones then the not-so-bright ones. It’s a pain trying to explain things to them when they don’t understand and all you want to do is scream “RTFM” at them.

On Wednesday, I had to demonstrate to them how to crimp network cables. Now, I happen to be colourblind, so I pretty much have to guess which wire goes where. For those reading this who don’t know, there are four colour-coded twisted pairs of wires (making 8 wires if you can’t do simple maths), and they have to be wired in a certain way for your network to net work. Fortunately, I surprisingly get it right 90% of the time, and fortunately for me when I was doing the demonstration, Wednesday was no exception. Which is more than can be said when we gave each student some cable, two RJ45 plugs and the crimper and let them try for themselves…

Now, all of this activity took place in the morning. In the afternoons, they all went and had fun activities away from campus. So we went from being totally active in the mornings to totally bored in the afternoons. Darryl and I ended up playing cricket in the underground parking lot most of the time. I’m totally unfit, so I’m starting to really feel the effects of that.

Today we’ve pretty much wound down. We’ve got the banks in to give information on student loans, and they’ve taken up half of my desk space. They’re probably watching what I’m typing right now. (If you are, STOP IT!) At least I can go home at 12 today.

There’ll be a lack of posts next week as well as I’ll be taking five days compulsory leave. Convieniently (or inconvieniently, depending on how you look at it), I’ve got an aunt from Australia coming out to visit. And I only get told the dates about a week ago. We have wonderful communication in our family. I was planning to spend the time to hang out with friends, but I have to accept that that may not be possible any more. Damn.