Monthly Archives: April 2011

Eeyore’s birthday party

Eeyore birthday #1

I went to the 48th annual Eeyore’s birthday. It was crazy crowded and trying to find parking was a definite problem.

Eeyore birthday #2
Eeyore birthday #3

There were a couple of drum pits with people dancing and playing different drums. But it was very odd. They were closely surrounded by people watching and taking pictures. I think at least half of the crowd had cameras of one type. Maybe about 10% had professional DSLRs. I definitely felt out of place. Did people want to just dance and play music without being watched or photographed? Did they mind photographers taking their pictures from a long distance? Or from a close distance? Or at an extreme close up position? I saw Kirk Tuck there taking pictures. He posted his view about this here. I wonder if he was talking about me? I was using my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens with the lens hood on. So it might look like a “big ass zoom lens”, but it is pretty equivalent to a 50mm lens. 70mm does not get you that much farther away from a person. Some more viewpoints about street photography are here.

Eeyore birthday #4
Eeyore birthday #5

There was a game of unicycle tag football going on. I don’t know what it had in common with Eeyore. But it was interesting to take pictures of.

More after the cut, including some possible NSFW pictures of painted costumes…

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Tamarind Agua Fresca

Concentrate Cooking Tamarind
Tamarind Agua Fresca

I tried recreating another of my favorite Agua Frescas from the local Mexican Ice Cream store. I bought some “Concentrate Cooking Tamarind” from the Asian section at H.E.B.. I then diluted it with water and added some raw Blue Agave nectar. But it tasted horrible! Very earthy and gritty. Hrm. Maybe next time I’ll try straining it through a lot of cheese cloth…

Synology packages

Given that the Synology NAS server runs a Linux distribution, I thought it would be cool to add some packages to it. Given what I had read, it sounded like an easy enough thing to do. I read the 3rd party developer’s guide. I’ve looked at the Source Forge site for the Synology NAS GPL Source. The DS411+ uses Intel Atom D510/Intelx86/LittleEndian/2.6.32 which needs gcc421_glibc236_x86.tgz. The DS411j uses Marvell 6281/ARM/LittleEndian/2.6.32 which needs gcc421_glibc25_88f628x.tgz. Piece of cake, right?

The first thing that I tried to do was to download the source to GNU’s screen program. I then tried compiling it on a different computer.

[root@hamzy2 tmp]# wget -O gcc420_glibc236_pineview.tgz ‘×86%20Linux%202.6.32/gcc420_glibc236_pineview.tgz?×86%2520Linux%25202.6.32%2F&ts=1303738007&use_mirror=cdnetworks-us-1’
[root@hamzy2 tmp]# tar zxpf gcc420_glibc236_pineview.tgz -C /usr/local/
[root@hamzy2 tmp]# /usr/local/i686-linux-gnu/bin/i686-linux-gnu-gcc sysinfo.c -o sysinfo
[root@hamzy2 tmp]# wget
[root@hamzy2 tmp]# tar xvf screen-4.0.3.tar.gz
[root@hamzy2 tmp]# cd screen-4.0.3
[root@hamzy2 screen-4.0.3]# env CC=/usr/local/i686-linux-gnu/bin/i686-linux-gnu-gcc LD=/usr/local/i686-linux-gnu/bin/i686-linux-gnu-ld RANLIB=/usr/local/i686-linux-gnu/bin/i686-linux-gnu-ranlib CFLAGS=”-I/usr/local/i686-linux-gnu/include” LDFLAGS=”-L/usr/local/i686-linux-gnu/lib” ./configure –host=i686-linux-gnu –target=i686-linux-gnu –build=i686-pc-linux –prefix=/usr/local
configure: error: in `/tmp/screen-4.0.3′:
configure: error: cannot run test program while cross compiling
See `config.log’ for more details.

Argh! I can’t run tests when cross compiling?! Sigh. A good product includes a suite of testcases that verifies if a program still works correctly. And I can’t run them on a different computer than what is being built. That seems flawed. You should be able to build completely and THEN run the testing testcases on the target computer to verify everything works.

My second attempt was to compile the GNU screen source code on the actual NAS machine itself. After all, it is a computer running Linux. Should be really easy with GNU’s autoconfiguration program.

Mark_Hamzy_II> cd /volume1/homes/admin
Mark_Hamzy_II> wget -O gcc420_glibc236_pineview.tgz ‘
Mark_Hamzy_II> tar zxpf gcc420_glibc236_pineview.tgz
Mark_Hamzy_II> wget
Mark_Hamzy_II> tar xvf screen-4.0.3.tar.gz
Mark_Hamzy_II> cd screen-4.0.3
Mark_Hamzy_II> env CC=../i686-linux-gnu/bin/i686-linux-gnu-gcc LD=../i686-linux-gnu/bin/i686-linux-gnu-ld RANLIB=../i686-linux-gnu/bin/i686-linux-gnu-ranlib CFLAGS=”-I../i686-linux-gnu/include” LDFLAGS=”-L../i686-linux-gnu/lib” ./configure –prefix=/usr/local
Floating point exception (core dumped)

WHAT? A floating point exception during autoconf?! I didn’t think a shell script did math…

But then I read about how Synology maintains a repository of packages here. And screen was included!

Mark_Hamzy_II> wget
Mark_Hamzy_II> sh syno-i686-bootstrap_1.2-7_i686.xsh
Mark_Hamzy_II> ipkg update
Mark_Hamzy_II> ipkg upgrade
Mark_Hamzy_II> ipkg install screen

Now that was really easy! Why didn’t I try that before?

Computer data workflow

With the new computer setup, the following is my workflow.

  • Take pictures/video.
  • Backup the data from the compact flash card to the Colorspace UDMA.
  • Copy the data from the card onto the computer via a Lexar Professional Firewire 800 CF Reader.
  • The data resides on the OCZ RevoDrive. This is known as the temporary drive (because I don’t care if I lose it at this stage). But the PCI-E interface combined with 4 SSD drives in RAID0 mode makes for blinding access rates (read up to 740 MB/s, write up to 690 MB/s).
  • Preview the pictures with Adobe Bridge.
  • Process the data with Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Premier Pro/Adobe After Effects. 16 Gb and 6 3.2Ghz cores make for fast work.
  • Save the data on the temporary drive.
  • When happy with the final product, copy the data to the local Seagate Terrabyte drive.
  • Back the data up over Gigabit Ethernet to the Synology NAS RAID6 array.
  • Occasionally sync the NAS RAID6 array to a duplicate NAD RAID6 array (which is kept offsite at my office).

As for timings, for 200 files (2758MB) on a Photofast 533X Plus Compact Flash Card, it takes:

  • 3 minutes, 35 seconds to backup to the Colorspace UDMA.
  • 1 minute, 8 seconds to copy from the Lexar Professional Firewire 800 CF Reader to the OCZ RevoDrive.
  • 1 minute, 28 seconds to copy from the Colorspace UDMA (via USB 2.0) to the OCZ RevoDrive.
  • 1 minute, 56 seconds for Adobe Bridge to cache thumbnail and preview images on the OCZ RevoDrive.

I am curious how fast the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader will be on my system.

New Computer

I like my new computer. It is pretty fast. And great for picture processing and video editing. The only drawback is that it generates a lot of heat. My house air conditioner is not well suited for keeping my office cold while keeping the rest of my house warm (79). Maybe I should buy a window AC?

It’s always a little scary putting a bunch of components together. You never know if the computer will work correctly when you turn it on for the first time.

Here is what I purchased:

Antec Nine Hundred Two Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

GIGABYTE GA-890FXA-UD5 AM3 AMD 890FX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard

AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition Thuban 3.2GHz 6 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor

SAPPHIRE 100297L Radeon HD 5830 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card w/ ATI Eyefinity Technology


Thermaltake Black Widow W0319RU 850W ATX 12V v2.3, EPS 12V v2.91 CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

Kingston 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model

Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2MH160G2R5 2.5" 160GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive

OCZ RevoDrive X2 OCZSSDPX-1RVDX0240 PCI-E 240GB PCI-Express x4 MLC Internal Solid State Drive

Seagate Barracuda XT ST32000641AS 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5"

Pioneer Black 12X BD-R 2X BD-RE 16X DVD+R 5X DVD-RAM 8X BD-ROM 4MB Cache SATA Internal Blu-ray Burner Blu-ray Disc/DVD/CD Writer

Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders – OEM

Synology DS411J 4100 4TB (4x1TB) DiskStation 4-bay NAS Server for Small Office and Home Use

Synology DS411+ Diskless System DiskStation 4-bay All-in-1 NAS Server for SMB Users

While I technically did not buy them when I bought my computer, I did buy some more toys for speed and reliability recently. They were the RevoDrive and the two Synology RAID NAS drives.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the reliability of my data storage. I used to have Buffalo Terrastation NAS drive. This used RAID5. Now RAID5 is good for reliability. But if a second drive fails during a rebuild of the first failed drive, then you can lose your data.

While doing research, I came across Synology. They supported RAID6 (among all of the others) and they supported a bunch of other features. They are actually small computers running Linux. I liked the fact that I would not need another computer to synchronize my data between the two NAS storage units. I could ssh directly into the NAS box and perform my rsync there.

So I bought a Synology DS411J with 1.78 Terrabytes of storage. I definitely made a mistake here and under-bought for my future needs. Because when I was satisfied with the Synology architecture, I bought a Synology DS411+ with 5.6 terrabytes. They are both 4 drive bay systems. But the 411+ has a faster CPU which will help in computing checksums during rsyncs.

Another thing that worried me is what would happen if my house burned down or some thief stole my computer equipment? There were no backups. So I decided to have two NAS drives. One would be in my house and the second would be at work. I could easily keep them synced up. And I would have backups in those two scenarios. Of course, if Austin got nuked and I survived, I would still lose my data. A slightly better scenario would be to keep the second NAS in some other state (like Florida).

Winter Warmer beer

My friend, Ryan Harper, made another home-brewed beer for me to try out. He called it a Winter Warmer. Unfortunately, I was not able to notice the subtle tastes that he was associating with it. But it was a good beer!

Air Conditioner woes

Air Conditioner before
Air Conditioner after

Sigh. My new air conditioner unit failed. I’ve been a customer of Autumn Heating and Cooling since April of 2008. When I bought the new Air Conditioner unit. The outside unit (condenser) is a Rudd Ultra with a product id of UANL-042JEZ. The inside unit (evaporator) has a product id of RFCL-HM4821AC. That cost me $3311.

I was talked into buying a surge protector on December of 2008 for $129. In November of 2009, I bought a new gas control valve for $375. In November of 2010, I renewed my service contract for three years for $97. In March of 2011, I had a semiyearly checkup. And then I noticed that my air conditioner was not cooling.

Unfortunately, I was told that the labor only had a two year warranty. To replace the evaporator would cost me $800. I was able to talk them down to $500. I consulted my my neighbor, who had a relative in the air conditioner business. He said that it was a good deal. The labor and freon would cost at least that much.

The only strange thing about the repair process was that they took the evaporator back with them to their store. Maybe they needed the physical part before they could get a new one to replace it. But I have no idea if the coil was actually replaced or not. The could have just patched it without me knowing any differently. Or substituted it with a refurb unit. Odd.


I woke up on a narrow ledge, bleeding profusely. Large clouds of dust are swirling around within the confines of my safe haven. But the muffled sounds of explosions are steadily growing louder. I must move on. I roll down and splash into a muddy drainage tunnel. Dim lights are receding off into the distance. It must be other survivors leaving the area. I start running in an effort to catch up with them. But I must have been mistaken. There is only one light now. I am not giving up. Even one person can make a difference now. However, my hopes dash when I see that it is not a human. But a steadily plodding machine. I’m too tired to care now what happens. I only have enough energy to tie a rope around a protruding plate and hang on for the ride. My efforts seemed to have uncovered some stenciled letters. GeekBot 000000010000000? A one in a sea of zeroes? At least the writing is in English. I pass out again…

BMW problems

I don’t know if I’m just unlucky. Or are BMW cars poorly made? I’ve had one consistent problem ever since I have owned the car. My key is a remote access fob. Just by having it in your pocket, when you place your hand on the door handle, the car will automatically unlock. You can lock the car by touching the top of the handle. And you can start the car by pushing the On button. But the locking/unlocking part is unreliable. Sometimes I have to try multiple times. Other times, I just give up and use the button on the fob. Of course, the dealership never does anything about the problem. I doubt they seriously try to see what the problem is.

But I have had other problems. I have had the check engine light come on, had rough idling, erratic idling, and no power during acceleration at various times. Each time I brought it in and it was fixed.

On July 6th, 2010, BWM replaced all of the injectors, the coil, and the spark plug of an affected cylinder (unknown which one it was).

On September 23rd, 2010, BMW replaced the intake solenoid.

On December 20th, 2010, BMW exchanged the HDP. Which I think was the N54 high-pressure fuel pump because of the warranty recall number 10E-A02.

On January 14th, 2011, BMW replaced 3 piezo injectors. They also removed my aftermarket car computer software (which is fully warrantied and sold by BMW by the way). Apparently, there was a software bug that dealt with the torque sensing.

And on February 15th, 2011, they reinstalled the Dynan car computer software with an upgraded release.

The positive thing about these problems is that I get a new loaner car. And I have tried different models of BMWs. I really liked to drive the Z4.

This may not bode well for the future. I doubt I will keep this car when the five year warranty is up. I am guessing that this is an expensive car to fix.


Using an 8 flash setup to take pictures of surfers during sunset link via

Inception in real time link via

How to make Zombie diesel link via

Making omelettes inside of eggshells link via

Lego Antikythera Mechanism link via

The Cholera Tree of Life link via

HDDSLR Custom Configurations link via

Helliemae’s Salt Caramels link via

5 SciFi children’s books link via

Dr. Seuss does Star Wars link via

The day MAME saved my ass link via

Bacon Jam link via

Doodling in Math Class link via

BMW flash projection in an ad link via

Room in a box link via

Canon 5DMkII + UV lighting music video link via

Liquid link via

Decorating Cookies with a Kopykake Projector link via

High Expectations of a Threadbare Team (types of MAME developers) link via

Physics of Superheroes link via

Hawaii marching band formation of a ball being kicked link via

Fried Gnocchi link via

Michael Jackson’s Beat It on the Isle of Tune link via

Let it Dough! link via

Liberty Exposed link via

Hacking Christmas Lights link via

iamamiwhoami link via

A very Zombie holiday link via

People Who Touch Your Junk Venn link via

Food timeline link via

Water droplet splash picture setup link via

America needs an Industrial Policy link via

Man in a Blizard link via

Solargraphy link via

The Gauss Christmath Special link via

Machine Knit Identity-Preserving Balaclava link via

Real-life superhero walks streets, fighting crime link via

Vivian Maier, street photographer and nanny link via

“Wallace” (The Weldless Brew Stand) link via

The evolution of the Batmobile link via

The Official Creebobby Comics Archtype Times Table link via

Whistler Blackcomb XXS link via

PrimoGraf Drawing Machine link via

Deep fried, sous-vide, egg yolks link via

51 Spectacular Slow Shutter Speed Digital Photography link via

How Facebook ships code link via

A Better Way to Caramelize Onions link via

Taco Bike link via

Twenty Four Hour View of the Sky link via

What would other planets look like if they orbited Earth? link via

Spartan Golfer link via

Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code link via

Skin Gun link via

Natural portrait effect discussion link via

Ham Solo in CandyBaronite link via

Phantom of the Floppera link via

Camera Blimp link via

California Gurls parody link via

The Badass Perforated (aka Egg) Spoon Recipe link via

How to Make Money in 6 Easy Steps link via

This prime is both illegal and an executable i386 Linux program that runs DECSS link via

How to make McDonald’s french fries link via

HDR tone mapping video link via

8-bit Dark Side of the Moon link via

One square mile in Austin, Texas link via

The downhill view link via

Sorting algorithms as dances link via

Angel Oak tree (approximately 1,500 years old) link via