The odd bit

Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is an enemy action.

The odd bit - Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is an enemy action.

Recommend me a 24 inch monitor

I’m looking for a 24″ monitor, but I just can’t find the one. I’ve been reading tons of reviews during the past few days and that has made things even more complicated.

On one side there are the TN panels. While I’ve been very happy with my current monitor (Iiyama AS4314UT) I can’t get rid of the impression that recent TN panels have a lower quality. The monitors at work seem to confirm that suspicion. The 24″ TN panels currently do not have response time correction (RTC) as can be seen from the specified 5ms response time. The result is that the 5ms as specified by the manufacturer is the most optimistic scenario (black-white-black). Gray-to-gray response times are pathetic.

On the other hand there are the *VA panels. While they should be superior to TNs in terms of image quality, they also have disadvantages. They do have hardware RTC but that hardware can also produce errors (read: it guessed wrong and a pixel gets the wrong colour). Depending on how severe the miss is, you will either see it or not. I haven’t found any monitor yet where you won’t see some errors. The biggest downside of these monitors is the price: they are effing expensive.

There are also S-IPS panels, but their price jumps off the scale.

I’m starting to think it’s still too early for a 24″ screen and that the market is still in the starting blocks. On the other hand I’d like to be proven wrong because I love the space on 1920×1200 screens. So if you have any idea, please leave it in the comments.

PS: Keep in mind that I’m in Belgium so we don’t have the abundance that e.g. Germany has. Example: I’ve heard of Iolair monitors, but I still have to come across a shop that actually sells them.

Vanden Borre: 10 weeks to deliver a battery and counting

The story starts on December 26, 2007. That’s the day I ordered my new digital camera at Vanden Borre. I got a deal on the camera that included a mini-tripod, a carrying case, a 2 GB memory card and an extra battery. I was quite surprised to get a phone call the next day. My camera had arrived in the shop and I went to pick it up. All the extras were in stock too, except the battery, type Nikon EN-EL5, which was ordered immediately. Mark the date: December 27, 2007.

After two weeks, I went to the shop to inform about the battery. There was no news and I would have to wait. When I asked how long, they couldn’t tell me. In fact, it could still be the same 10 weeks later as far as the staff was concerned.

I contacted their customer support department after five weeks. There was no news coming from the store and the online tracking wasn’t really useful either. They replied they couldn’t do much about it, but they’d query the manufacturer. I received a follow-up message from customer support basically telling me the same thing: no news, keep waiting.

Today is March 11, 2008 and we’re well past the 10 week mark. Guess what? Still no battery! I have bugged customer support once again asking how long this is going to continue. I do know that I’m running out of patience.

10 bloody weeks… I think someone can walk from China to Belgium in that time frame. I’ll definitely think twice before purchasing something else there…

And just in case someone from Nikon reads this, they’re blaming you as manufacturer claiming there are no deliveries. For 10 f***ing weeks?

Choices: the lottery of life

Choices are a common thing in the life cycle of a human being. They’re some kind of puzzle, often with many solutions and not always resulting in a predictable outcome. Sometimes, those “puzzles of life” are easy to solve but they can also be quite hard to solve.

An easy choice was the direction of my IT education. We were the first “generation” to actually have a choice. The education used to be a mix between development and networking/system administration but the main focus was on development. We were offered a choice for the third (and thus last) year of the education: software development or networking/system administration. With two years of software development being part of history, I figured I would have enough background to do fine in software development (and web development in particular) and decided to explore new horizons. Looking back at that decision, I still think it was the right one.

Time warp to the present which is a gap of 6 years and I can see the choice reappearing on the horizon. I’ve spent 5 years doing web development mixed with very brief moments of maintaining two Linux servers. While short in time, those moments have provided a welcome distraction from the development job. In fact, taking them away from me would really piss me off. So I feel I’m rapidly approaching a crossroad and I have no idea what direction to take. I would like to remain active as a web developer but I also feel an increasing desire to do system administration.

Web development is an exciting area when you can live on the proverbial edge: trying new and emerging trends/technologies. But the fun is completely gone when you’re not allowed to create new challenges or to be innovative. If the only goal is to get the job done (that means without any interest in the user experience, the quality of the product, the architecture of the backend, …), web development becomes just as boring as looking at an old sock. The real thrill comes from e.g. playing with new technologies and then incorporating them into your projects ending in a better user experience ultimately making users happier. We are not drones, we’re creative minds!

It’s probably that frustration that drives the system administrator in me. It’s like going from the front lines to the supply lines. You’re not taking commands all the time and you’re fine as long as the supply line doesn’t collapse. Managing servers, a domain, network infrastructure, user policies, security, … are things I really enjoy doing.

Eventually, it all comes down to who I am as an IT guy. I’m not an analyst, I’m a technical guy. I love to get a deep knowledge of the product I’m working with, I love diving in APIs to find hidden features or nifty things, I love pushing things to the limit just to see how far the tech can go, I love trying new stuff and I love looking for other ways to accomplish the same thing. But I can only reach my full potential when I’m given some room to be creative and innovative. And I do have a real-life example to back that up.

And after all that text, I still don’t know what to do…

1440×900 or 1920×1200?

That’s the question I’m asking myself. Here are the facts:

  • 17″ laptop screen
  • Gaming is not the primary nor the secondary purpose of the laptop, but I’m not saying I won’t game on it.
  • I’m a software developer and it will likely be used for some remote dev’ing.
  • I’m used to 1280×1024 as my standard resolution.
  • I’ve looked at 1280×800 widescreen resolution and the height is not big enough for me.

The screen should either be a 1440×900 (WXGA) or a 1920×1200 (WUXGA). If price is not an issue, what would you pick given the above constraints?

And a subquestion: Is 1920×1200 too small for 17″?

Zune Not Compatible With Vista

This is a rather funny fact unless you’re the owner of a Zune, Microsoft‘s new digital media player. Somewhere between all support pages for the Zune and its software is a document that lists the compatible operating systems.

The page mentions that the Zune software suite, released after Windows Vista went RTM, is not compatible with Microsoft’s upcoming operating system. The unlucky are told to “check back soon for updates”.

Nice one, Microsoft! 😉

Upgrade time

My current PC will be three years old in two weeks time. That’s one year older than my previous personal best. I still have my previous PC and it’s still in use, but I only used it for two years as primary system.

My current system still has quite decent specs, apart from the graphics card: P4 3.06 GHz (Northwood core), ATI Radeon 9700 Pro, 1GB DDR RAM, 120GB HD, DVD+/-RW, … But everything is slower than today’s equipment. The CPU’s FSB is running at 533 MHz, the memory is PC2100, etc etc.

I’m currently aiming at these specs for the new system:

  • Intel P4 940 (dual core 3.2 GHz 64-bit with 2x 2MB L2 cache)
  • ATI Radeon X1900XT(X) with 512MB video memory
  • 2 GB DDR2 system memory
  • 200 GB or larger SATA2 hard disk
  • Dual layer DVD writer

If everything goes fine, I’ll buy all components within two weeks and experience a power boost :)