current treadmill total: 179,259,72 meters! (18:55 CET)
Geekin' Weekend project
The 10 year old ( Pentium I ) HamsterTracker™-Data-Collector-PC,
was showing signs of aging; the internal clock was lagging a stunning 2 hours every day.
That's not really what you need, when timing the treadmill activity.
So this Gem of a project started 9 weeks ago;
the first five weeks has been spent on comparing various computer components,
after consulting friends and collegues, HamsterTracker™ came up with a new 'Dream Machine'!
After the OK from the HamsterTracker™-Financial Department,
the HamsterTracker™-Order department, got the order to order!
After a week it all came in (this was two weeks ago, last friday) ;
" Now that's a huge puzzle ahead ! " - Mathijs
" Here's the heart of the system installed;
an 'AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4400+ Processor',
running at only 65 Watts (that's less than half of regular processors!) " - Mathijs
" The now end result
(probably there are going to be some additions in the future)
of the new HamsterTracker™-'Dream Machine'-Server.
It's emphasis is on (besides value for money),
SILENCE & SPEED
while being very energy efficient ! " - Mathijs
" Pretty nice designed case, isn't it ? " - Mathijs
" Then I was a disc-jockey for like 10 days,
intalling, updating, rebooting, testing, upgrading and re-rebooting for almost every little software tool I use. " - Mathijs
" Semi-Final installation,
retire-ing the ol' Pentium I
and Pentium III along the way ! " - Mathijs
I've opted to only use one computer, simply for energy efficiency.
AND this new 'Dream Machine' is sooo fast, it can handle all jobs even with out a sweat.
There are still some problems though; the webcams: I can't seem to get them all up running at this time.
Right now only three webcams are online...
As well as some other little details, which you'll not be bothered with right now.
Meanwhile, when busy Assembling and installing,
Lucy was in her meditations room:
" Must ask pine-seed for testing new system...
Must ask pine-seed for testing new system...
Must ask pine-seed for testing new system...
... ZZZZ zzzz ZZZZ ... " - Lucy
Monday, October 29, 2007
current treadmill total: 181,145.38 meters! (19:05 CET)
Geekin' Weekend Project
I've been working on assembling, installing and tuning my new 'Dream Machine'
for over three (very enjoyable) weeks now.
The dowside of this new system is, that it has only one
serial communications (RS-232) port on the motherboard.
And this port is used by the HamsterTracker™-Data-Collector hardware.
Remember my Point of Sale- or (more simply stated) POS-display?
That one too, uses a serial communications port.
So I bought a USB to RS-232 converter. And I moved a USB card from the ol' PC to the Dream Machine
Which does the job fine (I must add).
Because the USB card has a port INSIDE the casing, I thought I would jam the USB-RS-232-thing,
also inside the computer case.
That required some soldering and stuff:
This will, after soldering, hookup to the USB-thingy.
The new soldered cable hooks up to a RS-232 jack that I can fit in the back.
Here's how it all looks hooked up,
before installing in PC.
Note the connector on the right (a printer connector),
remains unused ...
I just didn't want to leave an empty hole in there.
On the back of the computer,
it's now installed in the dead middle of this photograph.
(To the left of the VGA connectors (one is a DV-I or something,
which is fitted with a VGA converter-connector.
(That was supplied with the Graphics card btw.)
Note the three 'new' USB (2.0) connectors,
that have also been installed
The USB plug plugged in into the back of the newly installed USB card.
(I should have dusted that card before installing, I know)
It's still messy,
but it did clear ONE wire from the USB thingy!
I'll work on the wire-ing as soon as all is installed and functioning
the way we envisioned here at HamsterTracker™
current treadmill total: 183,034.94 meters! (18:30 CET)
Geekin' Weekend Project
I've been having a lot of fun last weekend,
tuning the " Dream Machine ",
The machine is awesomely quiet, (one of the major design issues),
as well as being Blisteringly fast ;-)
But I did notice that the Webcam-Server software was keeping the harddisk very busy.
Every twenty seconds a new webcam-snapshot is written to disk,
manipulating (adding time and camera identification information),
and finally converting to jpg-format before uploading.
When you've got a quiet machine like the " Dream Machine ",
those little harddisk-sounds where getting annoying.
[ I know there's always that next loudest sound...
but this one needed some immediate attention ]
So I decided to do an experiment by running the webcam server software,
from a flash-ram disk:
" The blue bubble on the left, second down, from the top,
is a 1 Gigabyte flash-disk " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
The second (and last) 4 port USB (2.0) PCI card was removed from the ol' HamsterTracker™-server.
One of those two is already installed in the Dream Machine.
This one is going to be installed soon,
taking advantage of the internal port; that's for the flash-drive.
" Partly dusted 4 port USB PCI with 2 Gb FLASH! " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
" Here the other side of it ! " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
By this the harddisk has stopped making noise, when updating webcam pictures!
This is giving the harddisk a time to rest,
after a few minutes it will shut down,
prolonging it's life,
while saving energy,
AND (ofcourse, therefore) being more quiet!
" We didn't call it 'Dream-Machine' for nothin' ! " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
[ it is difficult to photograph silence ... ]
Monday, November 12, 2007
current treadmill total: 184,851.34 meters! (19:15 CET)
Geekin' Weekend Project
This weekend was all about disecting the Ol' HamsterTracker™-Server
and transplanting it to the new Dream Machine.
The last of the USB-PCI hubs was installed (together with the 1 Gb flashdisk,
see also last weeks Geekin' Weekend Project, day 131, below )
" The card on the left (with the blue-bubbled-flashdisk) is the newly installed,
the one on the right, was quickly whiped with a finger to carefully remove the dust.
(The one on the left was carefully cleaned BEFORE installing). " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
" When opened up like that,
we couldn't resist a 'Birds Eye View'-like photograph ! " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
" Do you REALLY want me to get up and see that ? " - Lucy
Yes, she did get her pineseed!
(Not really sure if she understood this all though ;-)
Monday, November 19, 2007
current treadmill total: 187,643.22 meters! (18:20 CET)
Geekin' Weekend project(s)
The HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept. has been very busy this weekend.
" A month ago, when installing Windows (XP),
we had to use a 'donor'-3.5" Floppy diskdrive,
[ Appearantly when using the latest state of the art SATA II type hard-disks,
you'll need to install a driver first, using a floppy disk. ]
the little thing did it's job without any problems,
but it's horrendous thing to look at: " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
" The horrendous floppy disk-drive
partly covered with a floppy disk to mask... " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
" The new Floppy Drive taken from the ol' HamsterTracker™-server.
Please note the 'donor-PC of the horrendous floppy drive' in the background. " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
" Sweet !
(The Floppy-Disk-Door, that came with the case, is opened here!) " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
" All is up and runnin' again,
but doesn't this look a tiny bit messy ? " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
Then the large part of this project started
" The start of the challenge " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
Four (tedious and) enjoyable hours later;
here's the result:
" TA DA !
We even vacuumed ! " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
" What's all the commotion, Dude ? " - Lucy
It took Lucy 2.48 seconds to appear
asking a Pine-Seed after shooting the above photograph !
... And it took me 3.59 seconds to serve Lucy one !
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
current treadmill total: 206,253.26 meters! (21:15 CET)
Server update day... :-(
Yesterday, suddenly the sound driver got somehow corrupted,
making a mock of sound on the Dream Machine (HamsterTracker™-Server)
So today I started updating the ASUS-device drivers...
While doin' so, you hope/expect to gain some new cool functionality.
In a way I did,
the screen turned in a wonderfull color of blue together with some crisp clear white characters:
" Note the 'Contact your system administrator or technical support group for further assistance'... " - Mathijs
I tried... Sadly, the HamsterTracker™-Administrators-phone didn't answer... :-(
Windows DID some error-reporting on this error,
but the feedback wasn't too helpfull:
" This must be motherboard-driver related " - Mathijs
Downloading new drivers, as you read this.
Might this also resolve the webcam problems we've been experiencing ?
(We can currently hook up 3 webcams, instead of our usual 7 !)
Fortunately it hasn't kept Lucy awake:
" Dude, the sound is still awefull,
needs more work,
call me when you've fixed it ... " - Lucy
That does motivate!
We're workin' on it !
Monday, February 11, 2008
current treadmill total: 211,950.66 meters! (19:05 CET)
Although I installed it 12 days ago,
just this weekend I did the final thing.
HamsterTracker™-Presentation Dept. Presents:
Installing THE soundcard:
" Before we started,
we made a diagram on how all (labled-) cables are hooked up ..." - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
" On the inside,
there are two PCI-Express slots;
they are the little white ones,
just below the (passively cooled) VIDEO-card.
We picked the one furthest away from it (for better cooling-flow or whatever :-)"
" We hope it SOUNDS as good as it LOOKS !" - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
This is where I,
the HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
We forgot to hook up the in front of the computer audio connectors !
That's pretty stupid,
that was one of the reasons to buy this card !
So this weekend we opened up the Dream-Machine again:
The cable that came with the computer casing has two connectors,
one marked AC 97 (the WRONG one),
and the other HD Audio.
It didn't break anything while hooking up the 'wrong' one.
While using this connector, the soundcard 'thought' I was only using headphones (=front connector).
Using the other connector,
this signal is processed by actually plugging in a headphone !
COOL (!!!) because this behaviour can be altered by the software !
(you can (optionally) automatically shut down the external speakers,
when plugging in your head-set)
" The right connector,
together with the WRONG connector, tied up !" - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
Then the patching of all the cables re-started,
" It improved a bit,
depending on your view !" - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
So I played some nice relaxing loungy sounds
and then I then offered Lucy my head-set:
" I hear it just fine, Dude,
that's relaxin' .....
Makes me Dreamy .... ! ... " - Lucy
It al now functions as it should !
together with Lucy's approval
equals : Awesome !
Sunday, May 25, 2008
current treadmill total: 231,291.91 meters! (21:10 CET)
Geekin' Weekend Project
I am always looking out on upgrading the HamsterTracker™-Dream Machine.
When I bought it (as a kit) I had expansion on my mind.
So when I found a second graphics card for 59% of the original price of the first card,
I just had to order it.
My motherboard is SLI capable as well as this graphic card.
SLI stands for Scalable Link Interface; this does a lot when processing video data.
Depending on the application (playing a DVD or playing a game for instance),
these graphic cards work together to produce the graphics.
This technology can work in several ways;
either a graphic card does the processing of a part of the screen
(the first graphic card processes the top of the screen,
while the second card does it's thing for the bottom),
OR these cards can render different frames (individual screens) at the same time.
The first card renders the first frame, while the second is rendering the second frame,
after which the first card will render the third frame etc. etc.
This generally results in higher frame rates; hence BETTER GRAPHICS.
Finally this Second Graphic Card arrived:
" This beauty is fan-less therefore Noise-less ! " - Mathijs
" Here it is unpacked; The cable (bridge) on the right was supplied with the ASUS M2N-E SLI motherboard ! " - Mathijs
" The card on the bottom is the new one;
the top one needed the SLI-cover to be removed. " - Mathijs
" The bridge neatly installed ! " - Mathijs
" Note the two identical graphic cards,
only the LEFT card's extention plugs are used in this configuration. " - Mathijs
" Only one more PCI-Express (the small version) slot free ! " - Mathijs
Experimenting with this technology is quite fun.
I do notice a major improvement when playing games,
much more detailed graphics and faster rendering !
I couldn't wait to show Lucy:
" Smooth graphics Dude ! " - Lucy
Friday, May 30, 2008
current treadmill total: 231,658.91 meters! (20:50 CET)
Lucy's Awesome Birthday Gift !
I don't know HOW Lucy did this;
I do know that I am going to change my computer password.
Lucy somehow ordered the most AWESOME Birthdaygift ever!
" It has 750 GB of (unformatted) data capability,
32 Megabyte Memory buffer (the existing one only has 16 Megabyte)
SATA II 3.0 Gb/s interface
(that's an approx. 300 Mega byte per second data transfer rate !!!) " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
" Here it's fitted with the (red SATA cables all hooked up... " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
" After hooking up the Floppy-drive IDE cable,
we took some time to clean the Dream Machines internals,
by using a (new paint-) brush...
You can't imagine how much dust accumulates in a mere 6 months! " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
" Here's everything all hooked up;
the SATA harddrives now have power.
[ The new 750 GB drive is the one on top ] " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
" The Dream Machine BIOS recognized the harddrive immediately !!! " - HamsterTracker™-Geek Dept.
It then took a solid TWO and a HALF HOURS to format this beauty.
After which it's now running smoothly (and silently),
consuming only an additional 5 watts while operating !!!
Now we have a generous (160 GB + 250 GB + 750 GB + 1 GB = ) 1161 Gigabyte of harddisk space !!!
(The 1 GB drive is a flashdisk, permanently installed in the Dream Machine),
Therefore the Dream Machine fully qualifies the 1.16+ Terabyte (1 Terabyte = 1000 Gigabyte) norm!
We can (finally) keep those Lucy pictures comming and comming ;-)
Lucy didn't notice a thing !
" Lucy is relaxing it to the MAX !!! " - HamsterTracker™-Observation Dept.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
current treadmill total: 269,574.25 meters! (22:25 CET)
Freakin' Geekin' it at HamsterTracker™
You can also check Lucy's today's statistics,
on the re-Boots we have been experiencing ...
Beside the reboot(s) here's the insanely Geekin' report:
" We're going Blu-Ray ... We've even got a blue cable to match ! " - Mathijs
" Just unhook this ... " - Mathijs
" Remove some metal ... " - Mathijs
" Which took a bit of an effort ... " - Mathijs
" Here it's all fitted ! " - Mathijs
" The Blue-SATA cable marks the Blu-Ray Drive ! " - Mathijs
" My First Blu-Ray ! (on the right)
It's the sequal (no. 4) of my previous DVD collection ! " - Mathijs
" Simply hook it all up ... then Lucy and I can start watching ... " - Mathijs
I've got pine-seeds and pop-corn ready ...
To Be Freakin'-Geekin' Continued ...
Sunday, January 4, 2009
current treadmill total: 269,709.31 meters! (18:30 CET)
Ultra-Freakin' & -Geekin' it at HamsterTracker™ (part 2)
If you thought that yesterdays Blu-Ray Drive installation was exciting,
then be prepared of the following High Tech:
Two of the main HamsterTracker™-Dream-Machine design issues are;
Low Power Consumption; the less the better,
as well as Quietness... We don't want to disturb Lucy ...