21 February 2009

Do computers dream of Electric Sheep?

This is not really news to anyone that's visited our pad or anything, but I've been using an open source screensaver called Electric Sheep by Scott Draves for about four years now. It recently got a version bump to v2b11 and now works better with Vista than it did before. The thing that's special about it is that it uses spare CPU cycles to create an ever-changing semi-fractal display that's beautiful and unique. If you like the way a sheep (as the displays are called) is turning out you can hit the up arrow while the saver is running and the evolution of the display will follow the sheep. If you hit the down arrow that specific sheep will not contribute its "genes" to future sheep. This is also a collaborative effort, so others are doing the same and you can also create your own sheep manually.

Go get Electricsheep for yourself and have a look. Be warned, downloading the first sheep can take a while but after that you will have a unique combination of sheep in your screensaver...

19 February 2009

Replacing hard drives

Last time I changed over hard drives for my machine I did it badly and ended up having to reinstall Windows and all my software, which took a while :(

This time I used a piece of software called HDClone by Miray. It comes with an ISO image you can burn to a bootable CD then it does a bit by bit copy of the old drive to the new one. If the new one is bigger it automatically increases the size of the partition (the last if you have more than one on the drive). There is a completely free edition that I used and it works fine. If you want to do more complex operations like partition <> drive then you'll be wanting the Basic version for 20€ (which also copies much faster meaning that the operation I had to do should take four instead of six hours. If you have a RAID then you need to get the 40€ standard version, which seems less of a bargain.

Anyway, this free version worked perfectly...

9 February 2009

Senseo makes a good latte shocker!

The Senseo's coffee is a little weak. It just doesn't feel like a good coffee, no matter what brand of capsules you use, especially when compared to an industrial machine. However, recently Philips introduced an Espresso "saucer" for the machine, with espresso capsules. The coffee made from them is a little better since it's the same amount of coffee, but less water - an espresso measure is only about half a standard measure. If you just use the bog-standard Corsé dosettes, with this saucer and with about two-thirds of a mug of milk heated in the microwave, you can make a very acceptable latte.