October 2004 Archives
October 27, 2004

Earthquake in Romania


A 5.8 quake hit Romania few hours ago. Apparently no damages or injuries happened. According to news on the Web, the quake was felt as far as Istanbul, where people rushed out of their homes. Thanks Goodness nothing bad happened!

Posted by ovidiu at 05:09 PM | Comments (1) |
October 22, 2004

Canon 20D

Highway 101, Mountain View, California

I finally made the leap in the digital photo world by acquiring a Canon 20D. Although I do own a Canon Powershot S30 for few years now, I didn't use it as much as my film camera.

The 20D is a fairly impressive camera, especially compared to the top-of-the-line Canon film camera, the EOS 1V. The camera is a bit smaller and lighter than the 1V, but feels like a solid camera. The picture quality looks impressive, although I still have to test it on a tripod and compare it to the same shot taken on film.

I've taken some shots inside using my 550EX flash, and the benefit of the instant feedback helps a lot. With the film camera I would rely on experience to orient the flash head to get different effects. On the 20D I can see immediately what I need to improve so I can get a better light.

Deciding when to use film and when digital is going to be an ongoing dilemma. For nature, I think I'll still use slide film, as projecting slides is so much nicer than viewing images on a computer screen (even on an Apple 23" Cinema Display ;). But for everyday shots the 20D will probably be the preferred camera.

Posted by ovidiu at 12:27 AM | Comments (2) |
October 05, 2004

Evhead is moving on


Evan Williams, the founder of Pyra, creators of Blogger, is moving on. It's quite sad to see him leave Google, I'll miss his colorful shoes ;)

Posted by ovidiu at 08:17 AM | Comments (0) |
October 02, 2004

Small computers: mini-ITX

Cool gadgets | Linux

After I got the Squeezebox, I realized I need a machine to serve the music. Unfortunately a regular computer makes a lot of noise, and having it running all the time eats a lot of power. So I started looking around for a smaller system.

A colleague from work suggested going with a low-power alternative, running on a VIA Eden processor. The 533MHz and 600MHz of these processors run without the need for a cooling fan. The 800MHz and 1GHz processors, although still low-power do need a cooling fan on them. But the 533MHz processor has enough CPU capabilities for serving files to the squeezebox, so there's no need to go with a more powerful processor.

I ended up getting this system with the M6000 motherboard and processor. I wanted the ability to add external hard-disks over USB 2.0 or Firewire, otherwise I would have gotten the lower-cost EPIA 533MHz.

The Travla C158 case is very small, nowhere close to the ugly tower cases of today's PC computers. The power supply is external and supports up to 60W. The case does have a small fan at the bottom, which makes a lot of noise. Because the motherboard runs pretty cool, I decided to take out the fan. The only other source of heat is the hard-disk, but it's not too bad.

One thing about the case is that is so small, it needs a memory less than 28mm height to fit inside. Since a regular DDR memory is too big, I had to get a low-profile memory sold by CaseOutlet. I also got a 200Gb Seagate hard-disk from Fry's for $70 after a mail-in rebate, which should be able to lots of music.

At first I tried installing Fedora Core 2, but it failed right after starting the installation. I decided to try Knoppix, a distribution that can run entirely from a CDROM. The system booted just fine, and recognized all the devices inside. After I logged in, I installed the system on hard-disk and rebooted from it. The setup was incredibly smooth, with no major problems or incompatibilities. A really good distribution, highly recommended!

The Knoppix distribution is based on Debian, and this is the first time I have to administer a system based on Debian. The package management is quite different from RPM based system, even though it has similar features.

I copied the music from my powerbook, setup slimserver on it and reconfigured the squeezebox to get the music from the new server.

All of the operations took about 5 hours, including setting up the hardware appropriately, downloading and installing Knoppix, copying the music and setting up the slimserver software. I was quite impressed how smooth everything was.

Posted by ovidiu at 05:46 PM | Comments (0) |
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