May 04, 2011

Full use

One of the minor frustrations of Alcyone is that I don't have anything that fully takes advantage of the hardware. It's running Win7-64 and it has 4 cores.

But now I've ordered something that really will do it. It's "Poser Pro 2010", and it's the first 64-bit version of Poser. I've been an intermittent user of Poser for several years; I think I started with Poser 3, way back when.

This wasn't very cheap. $430. But I just put in the order at newEgg, and I'll probably have it next week. Should be fun -- and, maybe, fully test out the new cooling fan. (Eeek!)

UPDATE: I had to pay full price because they didn't offer an upgrade from Poser 7. There's an upgrade to Poser 8, but it's 32-bit.

Another thing I'm hoping is that they have finally completed getting rid of all the structural cruft that was left over from when Poser was developed for MacOS Classic.

You know, the one which used cooperative multitasking and had no memory management and did a piss-poor job with threads, so that everyone did their own memory management and did their own internal cooperative multitasking instead of using threads, and... Gad, what a piece of shit.

Poser through version 6 or so was really unpleasant to use on any of the NT-derivative versions of Windows. It "knew" that it was the only app running on the computer, for instance, so when it was doing a render there wasn't any way to get it off the main screen. It refused to minimize. (If, for instance, you clicked the "Show the desktop" icon, which is supposed to force every app to minimize instantly, then when Poser noticed that it had been minimized it would put all its pieces back up again, as soon as it got around to it. Which, with its lousy internal structure, might take anything from ten seconds to a couple of minutes -- but it always happened.)

And because it was doing its own round-robin multitasking, there were times when it could take 30 seconds for it to respond to a mouse-click or an operating system signal.

But some of that got cleaned up in Poser 7. Transitioning the thing to 64-bit necessarily means it had to be seriously restructured anyway, and I'm hoping that part of that was to clean up the relationship with the operating system.

The product has gone through multiple corporate hands over the years. The original developers were all Mac freaks, and they ported it to Windows because the Windows market was 15 times the size. But deep down they believed that the Mac way was the right way, so they didn't conform to standard Windows GUI guidelines. So menus looked like Mac menus. They didn't use standard Windows mechanisms for that. And there were a lot of other things like that.

The biggest reason I hope they've finally modernized the design is because now, finally, OSX is here and so those fucking Mac-heads will finally design the product to use real threading, and stuff like that. But I have no hope that the Windows version will actually look like a Windows app. It's still going to look like a Mac app. Pearls before swine, and all that. We Windows heathen will get a taste of the good life, and we'll like it.

(Bitter? Me? what gave you that idea?)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 02:39 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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April 26, 2011

Alcyone -- fixed?

And after I'd come around to the idea that it was going to be another couple of weeks before the replacement fan came in, they called me just now and said it was here.

I took Alcyone over, and it took 5 minutes to make the replacement. So it's back again, up and running, and I'll see if that weird sound comes back.

UPDATE: And I've been using it for four hours, and no problems.

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April 25, 2011

Alcyone -- returns

Alcyone is still broken. But it's home. The guys at the computer repair place lied to me last week, saying that the fan was in the city and just needed to be delivered.

I got the real story this time, I think. The fan was shipped from Hong Kong on the 12th, with estimated delivery of 13-18 days.

That's 13-18 business days. In normal human terms, what that means is "a month". About two weeks have elapsed, so it'll be a couple more weeks before the damned thing shows up.

In the mean time, I got Alcyone back again. With the cooling fan suspect, I can't really use it heavily, so I can't yet start working on updating the top rotation. (Which, among other things, will require me to develop a flash. Flash development is CPU intensive.)

But it will mean I can catch up with three weeks of email. It will mean I can once again leave comments in places where a password is required. But the sound of the fan drives me bozo, so it'll have to stay off most of the time, and this Compaq will continue to be my main computing platform for the time being.

I'm peeved, needless to say. Not because it's taking a long time; that's beyond their control. What I'm peeved about is last week, them telling me whatever came to mind in order to make me go away.

That computer model is still being sold, and I'm beginning to consider buying a new one and swapping my drives into it. Then, when the older one gets repaired (when and if) it could become a torrent machine.

UPDATE: This update posted using Alcyone. It still works. And it's still annoyingly loud. I'm running a backup now, and then I'll check my email.

And then it's getting turned off again. I'll only be turning it on when I need to do something that I can't do with the other machine.

UPDATE: 28 emails, of which 13 were spam. And one may have been phishing to try to get my Paypal account.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 01:13 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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April 18, 2011

Alcyone -- almost done

I just visited the computer doctor. He says that the replacement fan is in Portland, and he's expecting to receive it in the next couple of days.

Once he has it in hand, it won't take long to install.

And then, I'll be able to catch up on my email, among other things. (If you've sent me any, that's why you haven't gotten any response.)

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April 13, 2011

Amiga, gone but not forgotten

Pixy has been playing with an Amiga emulator.

I had an Amiga. Originally I had an Amiga-1000, and later got a 2000. But with the brand dying, time came when I couldn't ignore it any longer, so I had a choice of other brands. And I switched to the majority (i.e. Win 3.1) because it was crap, but it wasn't going to die and leave me an orphan, like the Amiga did.

I've been using Windows ever since. And one sad day I took six big boxes of stuff, all the Amiga things I owned (HW and SW) and gave them to Goodwill.

Still, I remember playing games on the Amiga. One game I remember, all but the name: it was a first-person point-of-view adventure, where all kinds of times and places got mixed up. Some of the images I recall:

A western town, which included a jail cell in the Sheriff's office.

A diner, with an amazing juke box.

A hotel, in Art Deco fashion.

A road where there was a continuous rock-slide going on.

An outpost on the Moon.

A circus. In the circus was a fortune-telling machine.

A detective office, with a name something like "Slade and Barcher".

A mine, in which you found a sword in a stone.

A trolley car, with a door at one end that could not be opened.

It was really astounding for its time, and I can't tell you how much time I spent trying different things to get that door opened, before I finally concluded that it couldn't be done -- and that you didn't need to in order to win the game.

It was really amazing. And it ended with a hook for a sequel, which was never made.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 02:38 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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April 07, 2011

Alcyone update

I stopped at the computer doctor on the way to the grocery store.

The good news is that they found a replacement fan and ordered it. The bad news is that it'll take "six to 14 days" to arrive.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 02:07 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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April 04, 2011

Hmmmm, maybe it was an HD after all.

So I swapped the new drives back into Alcyone this morning, with the expectation that it would begin to growl almost immediately and thus I could be sure it was the fan. Only it hasn't been growling.

Only time will tell, of course.

UPDATE: Alas, it was the fan, alright. Alcyone is at the computer doctor now.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 09:59 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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March 30, 2011

Well, that's a hell of a note

The growling sound just happened again, which means it was wasn't the HD's after all. Gotta be the cooling fan.

I guess there's good news here, too: it means that once I do figure out what's wrong, I can put the old drives back in and restore my previous setup.

But I'm just a tiny bit peeved about having spent $340 on this for no reason whatever. Especially since I have no one to blame but myself.

RASSAFRATZINSHOOTALOOTIN... (ahem)

UPDATE: The old drives are back in. The fan which is probably the villain looks like it's easy to replace, but I'm not going to do it. If it keeps causing problems, I'll let the computer doctors take care of it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 07:55 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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Brain Transplant

The new HD's just arrived, so it's time for Alcyone to get a transplant. First, one last backup. Then surgery.

UPDATE: Dammit, this is the same problem I had last time! The recover disk can't find the server! (This is posted from my other computer.)

UPDATE: The problem is that the recovery wizard is trying to do too much for me. There's a manual control mode for it, but all it does is ask me for the server name. What I want is a place where I can tell it the IP of the server, but I can't find that.

UPDATE: About the point where the recovery disk started blue-screening when I tried to boot from it, I said, "OK, Microsoft. I know when I'm beaten."

I just walked over to Best Buy and bought a full-install of Win 7 Home Premium. It's installing now.

And then I get to install all my apps again. Oh, joy.

The recovery disk was burned from an ISO I downloaded from Microsoft, according to their instructions. But I did that in July of 2008. Like as not it's been changed since then, and it may not be compatible with my copy of WHS, which is up to date on patches.

I could download the latest ISO, except that Arcturus (on which I'm typing this) doesn't have CD burning software on it. Only Alcyone did, but that would mean swapping the old drives back in, and then praying that they didn't deep-six while all that was going on. It just didn't seem worth it. (If I had more energy I'd have given it a try.)

UPDATE: Alcyone is up again. No apps installed yet, but at least it's working. I'm using it to make this post.

About the only good sides to beginning with a full install disk is that it made the C partition completely fill the first HD, and it didn't load the machine down with all kinds of sampleware.

UPDATE: Good lord. 53 updates, just in preparation for the second wave. And I haven't seen SP1 yet, either.

In one sense, I'm glad they're there. Sun stopped doing patches for the Qube about 8 years ago.

UPDATE: The second wave was only two, though one of those was SP1.

UPDATE: ZoomPlayer and CCCP are installed, and they work!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 10:15 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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March 27, 2011

Top Rotation not gonna happen

I can't telnet into Regulus, the Cobalt Qube. I can't FTP into it either. I don't have the slightest idea why. But it means I cannot change the top rotation, which is stored on Regulus.

Sorry, folks.

UPDATE: Actually, there may be a way. I'm getting back to work on it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 09:23 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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