Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Acer Revo 3610

I've been thinking about getting a small low power PC to run as a home server for a while. At the weekend I decided to bite the bullet and spend £200 on an Acer Revo 3610. It has an Intel Atom 330 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 160GB hard disk. Consuming 65 watts of power, it's exactly what I've been looking for. The cost of the device seems to have been kept down by the fact it is pre-installed with Linpus linux.

So the Revo arrived on Monday. It's a small box that comes with an upright stand or it can be attached to the back of a monitor. There are six USB ports, an eSATA port, a SD card reader, on board wifi, ethernet and video out is covered by VGA and HDMI. The Linpus linux pre-installed on the box was a total waste of space, I gave it about 10 minutes before I had to remove it and install Ubuntu. It really begs the question as to why they decided on this distro over Ubuntu. Ubuntu is clearly much, much better.

Anyhow, Ubuntu is now loaded and running very nicely. I've attached the box to my TV via the HDMI socket and have sound and video working perfectly. I'm running the box as a home server, so right now it hosts an FTP server and a Ventrilo server. For the future I'm planning on setting up a ZNC IRC bouncer and perhaps a web server.

The other thing I'd been planning to use the box for, was as a media centre. After some researching on Monday I found Boxee. Boxee is a media centre that streams online content and internet radio. It is also able to view pictures and play music and videos that are already on the hard disk. The user interface is visually appealing and it's easy to navigate. There seems to be tons of TV shows and movies to watch, as well as stand alone applications such as iPlayer and YouTube.

I had Boxee fully setup Tuesday night, connected to the TV and streaming well. The next issue for me was controlling the interface. My wireless mouse cuts out from the other side of the room and I really don't want to be using a keyboard to control it. Today I did some searching and soon found that on the Android Market, there is a Boxee remote control app, sorted. The app does what it says on the tin and navigates flawlessly over wifi.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

DTM 2010 Brands Hatch

Gro & Kie reviewing photos on iPad
Made my first ever trip to Brands Hatch last weekend to watch the DTM. I'd been planning to go for weeks and I was to meet Gro there as he was going as well. On Firday we both asked Kie to join us for a day out to all meet up for once rather than just sitting in IRC. After a bit of deliberation and a few "I didn't know you were going" stories, Kie eventually caved in and decided to join us. So I managed to grab a ride down to Kent with Kie, getting up at silly'o'clock™ (5:30am) in the process. We met Gro and his mate Nick there at 8:30am. Gro and Nick had set off at 2am to get down to Brands, the silly northerners.

It was a great day out in all fairness, even better than what I had hoped for. The DTM touring cars are mean beasts to say the very least, kicking out a roaring 470bhp from their fire spitting V8's. The sound of them coming down paddock hill corner on the first lap of the race was absolutely immense. They are not too far off F1 for noise in my opinion. Nearly 100 laps of the Brands Hatch Indy circuit was quite something. It's a great track to spectate at, as you can see a lot of track from most areas. Overall it was a good race, with Paul Di Resta winning and managing to pull out 0.5 sec per lap lead from the start. Coulthard managed to jump start which put him pretty much last after he served his drive through penalty. I thought he had a really competitive pace and was much better than the 12th position he ended the race in. Got to see a bit of carnage too as Susie Stoddart went into the back of Ekström on the second lap, putting them both out of the race. I managed to get a few pictures of the crash too!


I took some good photos while I was there, over 800 snaps in total. A fair chunk were a little out of focus, but there are some gems in there. I've just started sorting all of the good ones and cropping them down, gonna take ages though. I'm uploading all of the good photos to Picasa in a public gallery. Then I want to get a couple of the photos developed as canvases or framed so that I can put them up in my study. I'll be ace at it :)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Samsung Galaxy Tab

I've been looking forward to the release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab for a while now. Today was the official announcement day and what can I say? Very nice looking hardware, a high resolution 7" screen, the Android 2.2 Froyo OS (which will be updated to Gingerbread), internet enabled with HSDPA and 16GB of flash storage which is expandable by MircoSD. All good stuff, until I discovered the price... £679.99.

I really cannot believe that they are entering the market with such a huge asking price. They may yet prove me wrong, but I can only see this product being a total flop at that price. It's more expensive than the already overpriced (and market leader) iPad. I was honestly expecting the Tab to retail at around the £200 to £300 mark, at which my pre-order would already be in.

I believe that the problem is that they've tried to make it a phone / video phone as well as an internet tablet. The idea of using it as a phone is ridiculous, who the hell is going to walk around with a slab against their faces? And lets face it, video calling has never taken off. Two things they should have given a second thought to, in order to take on the church of Apple.

I guess I will just have to wait for a reasonably priced tablet PC to arrive. Perhaps HTC have something up their sleeves?