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Forged notes, just not funny.Wednesday 23rd July 2003
I work in a shop, in this shop I take money. I am not a fan of losing money, so I check notes to see if they are fake. Especially old 5 notes. They don't have a hologram on them, so there are a few ways to test them.

Thickness of paper, water mark of the Queen, and the hardest to reproduce: a weaved metal thread. Sometimes, it's hard to tell by the quality of the paper, because they have been through the wash one too many times. So what do I do? I occasionally put the note up to the light to check for the thread and the watermark.

Nothing wrong with that? It's understandable to want to check. But you can be sure, ever other person will say "heh, yeah, I printed that one off this morning".

It's just NOT FUNNY! You have to smile, it would be impolite not to. Although I am tempted to one day stop in my tracks; look shocked, and return the note saying "well then, I don't think I can accept this".

Whistling...Friday 18th July 2003
After my Maxtor drives driving me mad (excuse the pun), I sent them back. Instead I bought a couple of 80GB Seagate Barracuda drives, for a little more out of the old wallet.

They run considerably better than the Maxtor drives I had, much faster and less of a 'chugg' while accessing. I can now hibernate my computer in a few seconds instead of a about a minute. Happily burning CD's, while listening to MP3's and playing Counter-Strike.

But... yes, there is always a but. I plugged in the hard drives, powered them up and... BEEEEE.... yes the whistling came back with these drives too. How annoying eh? The problem with the whistle it is so high pitch I am unable to pin point it. I can only identify it's coming from the general area of my computer. The whistling only happens when the SATA drives are connected. So this is, logically, the problem. Although as it remains it can't be.

Perhaps it was the SATA/RAID controller on the Intel south bridge, but I can't see why it would make such a noise. Could it be the power supply? It turns out yes, I have no idea why it whistles only with SATA connected, as the load isn't especially high as I have had more plugged in before.

Very strange. I am currently using a measily 300Watt power supply to power my machine. Which means I am getting random reboots when I overload it. So a new item to my black list:

FSP Group Inc. The makers of my PSU (I spent quite a bit of money of this one too, when my one overheated). So I need a new 400/500W.

Radio 1 streaming.Sunday 13th July 2003
Radio 1's web site allows people to listen to clips of music. This is streamed using RealAudio formats. Which requires RealPlayer installed.

I have a full version of RealPlayer 8 (i.e. not the free version). Works fine, but no. The BBC have decided that they want to be on the cutting edge of technology so they stream in _only_ RealOne format, which requires money to Real for their new bloated 'content' system.

Yes, these lovely content systems that provide you with all those adverts and useless monopoly building features which everybody wants clogging up resources on their PC's.

This, the BBC believe, is the best method of delivery. They don't think about backwards compatibility, nor do they think about maybe using a different sysytem. Say, QuickTime, or MP3. The latter being cheaper and easier, plus a bigger standard than QuickTime or Real.

Whatever happened to making software which helped you do things. Which did the job and that was it. Why are people bent on giving us all this junk surrounding it. It's annoying, it's useless and it's resource hungry.

At least when the Internet was run by nerds it was easier. Now it's run by marketing departments and corporations it's a hell of junk.

Akasa sound absorbant pads.Saturday 12th July 2003
I spend 10 (exc. VAT) for a set of Akasa sound absorbing pads to install on my computer, to try and block out this infernal whistling from my hard drives.

Results? Zarrooo. Is that Zarroo noise? No, Zarrooo effect. Whistling is still ear piecingly high. So for those of you who think that a bit of foam would be a bit of a con at 10, then you are absolutely right.

We can thank for that lovely piece of technology.

Maxtor Hard Drives.Friday 11th July 2003
I have just installed two Maxtor DiamonMax 80GB SATA (150MBps) hard drives onto my computer. I have set them up in RAID-0 (striping) on my Intel 875P south bridge's onboard RAID controller.

This was because my Abit IC7 doesn't support RAID on IDE drives, and I had Western Digital Caviar drives.

I've had them in for a day now, reinstalled my system, and so on and so forth. The result, well less than pleasing. Sure they are a lot faster than before, but only places. When doing a direct memory to drive transfer like hibernation it takes longer than a single UDMA100 drive, a lot longer.

Then there is the fact that it chuggs on accessing. You know the 'kergerk' noise hard drives make all the time when they are busy. Something which I haven't had on my PC for about 4 years. I thought that was something of the past, but apparently not. I can live with that though. The most annoying thing is the whistling.

Yes, the whistling. The drive emits an insanely high-pitch whistle when it's not working. So as long as it's accessing I'm fine, but unfortuently it's not happening all the time. Even with my case bolted on I can still hear it, even when playing games or listening to music I can hear it, because it's so high-pitch. It's driving me nuts! I've had to shell out on sound absorbant material to put inside my computer, which will only increase the temperature inside it.

It won't matter in a decade or so, my hearing will have degraded to the level of the old men who made this drive. Argh! Bunch of deaf 35+'s. It is a problem I had with our last family TV set. It whistled really loudly, but because my parents couldn't hear it and the engineer who installed it (ha, engineer to install a TV) couldn't hear it, nothing was ever done about it.

So, if you are thinking of buying SATA drives DO NOT BUY MAXTOR.

CricketTuesday 8th July 2003
Cricket, a very English thing. Saturday afternoon on the village green, sipping tea while the local cricket team has a short match.

Of course, on the International level it's a gripping fight between the English and the rest of the world, or morely, a wonder if the English can actually win anything this year.

I am no great fan of Cricket, I played it when I had to at school, that was about it. TV on the other hand is obsessed with it, being a sport and all. So I have seen a few matches over the years. Although I was almost caught out this year, I turned on to what seemed a football match, but it turned out to be Cricket. No longer is it people enjoying a civilised match, but loud people yelling, with horns, chanting, the lot.

Although they usually keep quiet during bowling, which is nice. It won't last. How long is it until we hear of Cricket hooligans being banned from International matches due to previous bad behaviour, or riots starting on the streets after?

Stable KiSS?Thursday 3rd July 2003
A few months ago I bought a KiSS DP-450 DVD Player. Although an excellent machine, the firmware was full of bugs.

Factory build was sluggish and unresponsive half the time. None of the front buttons except power and eject worked. The remote was just as tempromental.

I upgraded again, and lost complete support for DivX play back, it worked, just not very well. The next upgrade introduced a lack of synchronisation. When playing a non 5.1 audio track down an AC-3 SPDIF connection it wouldn't be in sync, so I had to down mix it. But then when I played a 5.1 down mix, it wouldn't sync.

The next upgrade resolved the DivX problems, and fixed all the problems, except for the synching sound.

Finally, they have released what appears to be a flawless firmware. Version 2.6.7. So for all of those who have one, they best upgrade. I am now quite happy to recommend the KiSS DP-450 as an excellent player.

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