Thursday, January 31, 2008

That wonderful HSDPA feeling

In Europe I have waited years for Citywide free internet to become available. It's free in Lausanne after all, so why not everywhere?

In most places (and always at airports) a plethora of seemingly free based Wi-Fi hotspots abound. However: there is a catch ... PDA locks onto a plausibly free wi-fi site, you open up your Internet browser and you are confronted with a "pay extortionate sums now please " to continue. No thanks!

Recently with the acquisition of the ETEN X800 PDA I thought I would its inbuilt HSDPA a go. Let's review the technologies your PDA might use to connect:





(General Packet Radio Service)

GSM standard


53.6 KBit/s


(Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution)

GSM standard


256 KBit/s


(Universal Mobile Telecommunications System)

UMTS standard


384 KBit/s


(Wireless Local Area Network)

IEEE 802.11b/g

up to 54 MBit/s


(High Speed Downlink Packet Access)

(Wideband Code Division Multiple Access)

up to 7.2 Mbit/s

And so to close I am thrilled to report the HSDPA works and is quite fast enough for me and so I now have PDA based mobile High Speed Internet where-ever I go. I wonder what will happen if I start roaming outside of Switzerland :-(

Monday, January 28, 2008

8 Core is GO

So, I am pretty excited to report that the master 8 core server is not only up but arguably fully licensed and thoroughly burnt in. All 8TB (or thereabouts) of disk storage is up and spinning, all 8 processor cores are up and humming.

Like any build, you race to get everything working, then when all the frustrations are overcome it is a bit of an anticlimax!

Since the last post it was really

  • An update of RocketRaid 2310 firmware. After installing the 64bit Vista driver the next step was to upgrade the firmware from 1.0 to 2.2. This was done eventually from within Vista after a reboot.

  • Fine Tuning of BIOS

    It's slightly shameful to admit that I am constantly being outwitted by even the BIOS menu of my computer, but this Supermicro gave me the run around. Here is the X7DWA-N motherboard PDF manual.

    The important changes were

    Intel Virtualization Technology
    (Available if supported by the CPU.) Select Enabled to use the feature of Virtualization Technology to allow one platform
    to run multiple operating systems and applications in independent partitions, creating multiple "virtual" systems in one physical computer. The options are Enabled and Disabled. (Note: If there is any change to this setting, you will need to power off and restart the system for the change to take effect.) Please refer to Intel’s web site for detailed information.

    Intel VT for Directed I/O
    Select Enabled to bring up the following Intel VT for Directed I/O (VT-d) Confi guration submenu. The options are Enabled and Disabled. VT-d for Direct I/O Select Enabled to enable VT-d support for the port specified through DRHD Structures in the ACPI Tables. The options are Disabled and Enabled.

    BIOS Scans (to be updated)
    Told the BIOS not to BIOS scan the Rocket Raid 2310 card installed in Slot 6. Without this "ignore setting" i.e. the default is of course to scan then (quite unbelievably) you never lead the BIOS and the OS will not start !!!

    So with this new setting the 4 SATA devices attached to the Rocket Raid are not probed by the BIOS and are handled only by the booted Vista OS

  • Loading of essential Server applications and tools:

Total Commander Old skool file copying and transfer

Microsoft VPC 2007 Free Virtualisation from Microsoft

Irfanview Image capture and cropping

Real Alternative Allows playback of Real Audio files with realplayer

Syncback Local and Remote directory synchronisation

AVG Robust Anti Virus protection

VMware Workstation level Virtualisation

rawavrecorder Records real audo streams to a .WAVe file

everest System Diagnostics

  • Extended burn in: leaving the server up for over 48 hours doing disk intensive tasks

Still outstanding

  • More tests with the beta Intel 82575EB driver to see if it can be used "reliably". Since this master server cannot afford to have any data corruption I'd have to run at least a sustained 2TB data transfer test to be confident nothing dodgy is going on
  • Probably install another licensed Microsoft Office 2007 so I can read any stored office docs that I might need here directly instead on the client PC
  • Try to find a real IBM PC/XT emulator that understands both CGA graphics and MFM disk hardware to be used to install my 1985 original copy of IBM PC/IX onto . Both Microsoft VPC 2007 and VMware Workstation 6 don't work
  • At least 2 of the internal fans are causing a very annoying sound inteference pattern. Figure out what fans are problematic and try to replace
  • The SATA disks lie in the bottom of the Lian Li case and are sealed away from the 4 internal fans, being cooled only the PSU and front fan. Might need another fan. The Lian Li case has cut-out for another 2 rear fans.
  • Try adding a CF IDE card via slot converter to motherboard just because it's there (the first attempt caused system hang)
  • Try upgrading boot disk to SAS .. longer term since the Dell PERC 5 SAS controller is missing a PCI-E card mount connector

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Day8 Mon Jan21: Coming Home

A fond farewell to the Atoll Explorer, Eurodivers and all the staff who made our stay so pleasurable

There is always time in the airport for a last minute game of UNO to raise the blood pressure

Day7 Sun Jan20: Kurumba and Male

Despite multiple alarms Petros and Thierry did not get up and missed breakfast. See video diary for the desperate review of the situation

Meanwhile up top there were 2 different approaches to the morning.

Agata, Anne Marie and Rob settle down after breakfast

Judiths experiences a last minute conversion to Islam

Thierry begins his wetsuit modelling career

Anne Marie checks her equipment for that last dive. Some hours later divers still missing .. concern develops

Last Visit to Kurumba to visit the Gym and then some snorkelling

Whilst others take it easy on top deck

Take me to Male immediately please

Race from the Lights

Looking for naughty girls with bad spelling

Tuna has been spotted

Petros needs food now!

Au revoir Glenn

Anne Marie and Thierry start a playing

All dancing

Last Dance Please

Day6 Sat Jan19: Gaathufushi

Todays grueling agenda is an all day picnic on the island of Dhiggiri and our dives will be local to this island

Dhiggiri Island

Morning Dhiggiri reef dive

Depth 18 metres, 58 minutes

Lunchtime on the island
Afternoon Dhiggiri reef dive

Depth 21.4 metres, 53 minutes

What did you think of that dive Judith?

Night dive at Dhiggiri Reef . depth 15.6metres, 45 minutes.

As I suspected the night dive was an anti-climax but Agatas first so we gave it a go. Since it was not totally dark on descent it was a gentle introduction to night diving. Clearly however when dark the only visibility was via our torches. Perhaps the best way would be to have an infinitely more powerful torch to enable us to see something ... wait, let's call it a daytime dive! So to restate for marcus, night dives == not appreciated.

Captains speech at the captains dinner

Sayeed and Jackie

Meet the crew

Captain UNO

Day5 Fri Jan18: Meerufenfushi

Today there is an all day picnic on Dhiggiri island for everyone whilst we also get the pleasure of 2 dives.

Morning Fish Head dive.

Depth 22.6metres, 35 minutes

Description: fish head fits the classic definition of a thila, being a large isolated flat top reef rising sharply from the inner atoll floor at 40 to 50 metres to around 10 metres from the surface. The squire shaped reef is about 80 metres wide and can be circled in one dive if divers wish, providing the current is not too strong, there are ledges and caves at different depths around much of the reef and for the most part, there is a big undercut from about 25 to 30 metres.

Experience level: medium to difficult

Marine life: The abundant fish life begins at the surface where the water boils with silver flashing of fusillier

An interesting dive as I was chased or even hounded by a large Napolean fish that i had to struggle hard not to collide into

Judith surfaces

Afternoon "reef clining" dive at Fish Head

A frustrating dive whereby we descended to the same place as the morning but strong currents meant we were initially split and disoriented. So when we regrouped we thought we might all move somewhere but Sayeed decided we would spend the entire dive clinging to the same coral.

Agata rests before the night time party

With best foot forward it was time for dinner on an island.

This is our dinner location tonight

Some fish for dinner

For some of us a very special day

Rob, Glenn and Petros start puffing

Petros and Agata

More dancing

Time for Bed!

Day4 Thur Jan17: Madivaru

Following a bacon inspired breakfast it was time for the morning Madivaru island dive.

Madivaru island dive. depth 23.4 metres, 32minutes

Description: The dive lies in the southern part of Rashdoo, Veligandu, Kuramathi and Madivaru. In particular the ledge at the outer edge of the channel that separates madivaru from Rashdoo. Madivaru has one of the most spectactular and confusing reef formation found in the Ari Atill. A narror spur, like a suspension bridge, extends out from the reef of madivaru part of the way accress the channel rising to a peak at 13 metres. On the seaward side of the spur, the reef descends almost vertically to around 400 metres. The deep blue waters on the outside of the spur contrast with the turquoise blue felecting from the sand floor at 30 metres on the inside of the channel. Depths in the clear waters on the outside of the atoll can be deceptive and it is easy to go too deep, so care should be taken, especially while engrossed in viewing the hammerhead sharks. Experience level: medium difficult for advanced divers only marine life: This is one of the best know place in which to see hammerhead sharks in all likelyhood, the great migration of these sharks leads them to travel frequently through the channel. in the course of this dive it is always pssible to see schools of jacks and barracudas

Time now to mosey on down to an unihabited island for some snorkelling.

Petros and I thought we needed to burn a few calories so we engaged in a couple of island laps

As usual Marcus is wrapped up to protect himself from the sun and Petros is wrapped up in suntan lotion

Baby seals spotted on the islands edge

In the afternoon we went to the Maaya Thila Dive

Depth 26.8 metres, duration 47 minutes

Description: Maaya Thila lies within the reef 4Km north west of Maayafushi. Maaya thile is about 80 metres in diameter and can easily be circum navigated in one dive so long as the current is favourable - although it is not uncommon for divers to spend the entire dive in one area to digest the incredible variety of marine life. The top reef startts at six metres and the reed edge drops 12 metres to 30 metres or more. Several coral outcrops occur on the north west and south sides. There are many caves and overhangs around the thila.

Experience level: medium

Marine life: At a big carge on the north side are feasts of fish ranging fro the white tips ( which usually frequent the side of the reef where the current is strongest ), dog toothed tuna and great barracuda to blue-face angel fish, Moorish idol. This dive is a fish watchers delight and the beautiful soft coral and gorgonians on the reef faces are the greatest attractions.

After a few more Singapore Slims (or is it Singapore Slings) and another splendid dinner it was time for some local music and dancing courtesy of the Crew. Actually the crew is mostly from Sri Lanka since the muslim locals have more difficulty with our constant which includes Alcohol and Pork.

Setting up the music

Marcus has a go at drumming

All dancing

Despite three helpers Team Marcus manages to lose at UNO even when emploing maximum cheating measures.