Print Story Captain Caveman
By TheophileEscargot (Fri Feb 17, 2006 at 11:48:31 PM EST) Reading, Watching, Computer, MLP, OBLF (all tags)
Reading, Watching, Computer, Web, OBLF.


What I'm Reading
Finished The Athenian Murders by José Carlos Somoza. Irritating at first, then intriguing, very impressive by the end. Picked it up in the library thinking it was going to be a standard mock-historical whodunnit like Cadfael or Marcus Didius Falco: this one with "Decipherer of Enigmas", Heracles Pontor tramping round ancient Athens. It is that: pretty decently done, though a little clumsy in some of the mystery mechanics. But it's also has stories on several levels: one told in the translator's footnotes, two others embedded into the text.

From looking at the reviews, a lot of people seem to have just found it just irritating: it's a little too cutesy-clever for some, and the philosophy and history are a bit too shallow for some. I loved it though. Thought it was great that I was totally suckered by a superb red herring.

Definitely well worth reading, and sticking with. One of the more original books I've read in the last year or so.

Author article, review, review.

What I'm Watching
Saw vampire/werewolf action movie Underworld on DVD. Pretty good I thought: well-executed, with the plot elements worked out neatly.

Also got around to watching Sunset Boulevard. Yes, there are an awful lot of classic movies I haven't seen. Liked it a lot. It's older than I expected: for some reason I thought it was 1960s, but it was made in 1950. Hasn't dated too badly apart from the bombastic score, which underlines every witty line and dramatic moment with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Certainly makes you appreciate Norma Desmond's nostalgia for the silent era. Moves crisply along, superb mix of comedy and tragedy. If you're in the tiny handful of people who hasn't seen this, you really ought to. Ebert review, IMDB, Long filmsite summary.

Minor irritations with the home computer again. Having some more problems with fan noise: getting an unpleasant metallic rasping sometimes. Dusted out the insides and the processor fan, but now I think it's coming from the enclosed power supply fan. Need to get a can of air from somewhere.

Irritating though. I mean: TVs, stereos, even videos must have power supplies and transformers. How come TV designers don't think "ooh, the power supply might get hot: better put a whirry fan inside a metal echo chamber to cool it off"? If they can build silent transformers, why can't PC designers?

Also have managed to hamfistedly strip both the front USB ports. In my defence I think they were a bit flimsy, since didn't have problems with the ports on the last computer and the work computer. Means more tinkering around eventually though. Gah.

Was quite tempted to get a cheap DVD player to watch stuff without the computer. (Last one broke) It's the size of the things that puts me off. Dunno why they're so huge.

It's been a bit disappointing lately, but did like this week's Angry Flower.

Dimly remember a big argument about this on K5 ages ago. Someone was arguing pistols were safer than rifles to use indoors because they wouldn't penetrate walls. Round penetration in drywall.

Medblogging stuff. NHS blog doctor on giving bad news to patients: looks like you have to ask pretty specifically to get the truth. Dr Flea linked to this interesting flame-thread on "defensive medicine", where they slug it out over whether it's good to order unnecessary tests.

Operation Become Less Fat
CW: 13st 0
SW: 14st 4
Loss: 18 pounds
Weeks: 11
Loss per week: 1.6 pounds

Saturday 11 Feb 2006
Breakfast: 1 cup coffee, Frosties
Lunch: 2 huge slices bread (approx 400kcal, 12g protein), Tesco Chunky Chicken and Vegetable Meal Soup (210kcal,15.6g protein), 3 cherry tomatoes, grapes, lychees.
Supper: 2 huge slices bread 175g bread (466 kcal, 14g protein), Weight Watchers Ocean Pie (214kcal, 14g protein), 4 cherry tomatoes. Milky Way (114 kcal).
Snacks: 1 cup tea, 1 slice ham, 1 orange
Exercise: 5BX Chart 3 Level C-, dumb-bells

Sunday 12 Feb 2006
Breakfast: 1 cup coffee, 2 eggs (152kcal, 12g protein), 80g bread (213Kcal,6g protein), small portion cheese.
Lunch: 200g potato (144kcal, 4g protein), 1 M&S lamb steak (377kcal, 45g protein), parsnip, carrot, broccoli. M&S "Count on Us" double choc sundae (180kcal).
Supper: Approx 80g bread (213Kcal,6g protein) with soft cheese, 5 grapes
Snacks: 1 Cocodirect drinking chocolate with shot whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 3 Level C

Monday 13 Feb 2006
Breakfast: 1 cup coffee, Coco Pops and skimmed milk
Lunch: Small egg, sausage, bacon sandwich.
Supper: M&S "Count on Us" Thai Red Chicken and Noodles ready meal (340 kcal, 31g protein), M&S "Count on Us" strawberry pavlova (150kcal,2g protein).
Second supper: toast, chicken breast (approx 80g 104kcal 24g protein), tomato
Snacks: 2 Ryvita, grapes, lychees
Booze: 2 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 3 Level C. Dumb-bells: light 5kg 4x14, heavy 12.5kg 4x14. 3.5 miles walking

Tuesday 14 Feb 2006
Breakfast: 1 cup coffee,2 eggs (152kcal, 12g protein), approx 30g M&S half-fat cheese (83kcal,9g protein), small piece toast.
Lunch: Small BLT roll
Supper: 1 M&S lamb steak (377kcal, 45g protein), 280g potatoes, carrot, broccoli. 3 squares chocolate.
Booze: 1 pt London Ale
Snacks: M&S "count on us" Salt and Vinegar Fries (90kcal)
Exercise: 5BX Chart 3 Level C, 1.75 miles walking

Wednesday 15 Feb 2006
Breakfast: 1 cup coffee, large toast with chicken breast, tiny piece cheese.
Lunch: Small beef sandwich, doughnut
Snacks: 2 Ryvita, tomato, small piece chicken breast, 1 hot chocolate
Supper: 1 can chilli con carne (380kcal,36.6g protein), small piece cheese, 2 slices toast, 2 oranges.
Booze: 2 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 3 Level C. Dumb-bells: light 6.5kg 3x10, heavy 12.5kg 4x14. 3.5 miles walking

Thursday 16 Feb 2006
Breakfast: 1 cup coffee, toast, chicken breast, tiny piece cheese
Lunch: Small chicken pesto sandwich
Second lunch: chicken strips with sweet chilli sauce (approx 420kcal,25g protein assuming same as 10 McNuggets) side salad
Supper: Lamb and vegetable soup (234kcal, 11.2g protein), small piece cheese, bread roll. Choc & black cherry dessert (130kcal)
Snacks: 1 apple. 1 orange juice
Booze: 1.5 beers, 2 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 3 Level C, 1.75 miles walking

Friday 17 Feb 2006
Breakfast: 1 cup coffee, coco pops with skimmed milk
Lunch: Big Ben burger (burger in a bun with one sausage, fried egg, bacon, mushroom, salad) and chips.
Supper: Beef broth soup (170kcal, 9g protein) 3 ryvita, piece cheese. Apple.
Snacks: 2 ryvita, 4 slices pastrami, 1 orange juice.
Booze: 1.5 beers, 2 whisky
Exercise: 5BX Chart 3 Level C. 3.5 miles walking. Dumb-bells: light 6.5kg 3x12, heavy 12.5kg 4x14.

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Captain Caveman | 35 comments (35 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
DVD players are too big? by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 05:17:31 AM EST
I've seen some that are the size of a hard cover book. I've also seen the portables ones with LCD screen for around $150 USD.

The box of truth is a fascinating site, and it's no surprise that the tests take place in Texas.

The cheap ones seem fairly big by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 05:33:51 AM EST
Was thinking of this one, which seems pretty hefty at 2 kilos too. Most of the expensive ones seem to be about the same size too.

I suppose I could look for a small one, but since I have no actual need for a DVD player for anything except cutting out computer noise and boot time, it doesn't seem worth spending much money or time on it.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
The smaller ones I see are cute by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #3 Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 05:43:52 AM EST
like, having Hello Kitty or Barbie on them, or pink, not the boring silver sort.

[ Parent ]
Power supplies by Man (4.00 / 2) #4 Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 06:45:08 AM EST
The real solution will never happen. What we really need is an internal DC system in our homes. Then you'd just need one big transformer which could be placed next to the meter or something.

This would entirely get rid of the "Wall Wart".

It'd save energy, too, as you could make the one transformer more efficient than the fifty little ones that are scattered around the home.

Unfortunately, there's no standard DC voltage for consumer devices. It's a pity, because it'd make most "modern" devices smaller and cooler.

After Al Queda does a few NY/NE Blackouts on us by cam (4.00 / 1) #6 Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 08:53:38 AM EST
will we be adding solar power to our houses to supplement power from the grid? That would be DC right?

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

[ Parent ]
HIBT? by Evil Cloaked User (4.00 / 1) #9 Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 07:41:25 AM EST
That is complete crap.

Lets say that you have a 300W PSU in your PC. Most PC PSUs are pretty crap, so let's say this one is 75% efficient (not terribly uncommon) so the thing is pissing away 100W. Ok.

Now, for the sake of argument, it's just delivering 12Vdc. For 300W, at 12V, that's 25 amps. Now, let's deliver this 25A @ 12V over internal wiring in your house. If the cable running from the supply box has a resistance of 1 ohm, carrying 25A, you are now pissing away 625W in that cable.

[ Parent ]
Correct me if I'm wrong... by Man (4.00 / 1) #15 Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 04:44:55 PM EST
Most home wiring in the US has a resistance of about 5 ohms/kilometer. In my house, the longest run from the box is probably 40 ft, which would be something on the order of 0.08 ohms.

[ Parent ]
Which would still be by Evil Cloaked User (4.00 / 1) #16 Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 05:28:33 PM EST
50W of dissipation for a single computer. Also, 12V is quite high for consumer electronics - 5 or 3.3 is much more common. If we take the same calculation with 5V for 300W, we now have 288W of dissipation in your 0.08 ohm cabling. Again, just to supply 300W. And given that the average American household (according to this) consumes roughly one kilowatt per hour, things start to get kinda bad. Then your cables start to heat up and get more resistive.

I stand by my comment that it doesn't scale. Already, this shows the lack of scaling in a domestic situation - imagine the situation in a cube farm, with many many more computers running. Any system has to be compatible both at home and in the office, and so far, high voltage distribution with step-down at the load seems to be where it's at. You can't escape the I2.

[ Parent ]
But by Man (2.00 / 0) #17 Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 09:09:28 PM EST
How is this different from AC?

[ Parent ]
Because AC runs at high voltage. by Evil Cloaked User (2.00 / 0) #18 Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 10:41:16 PM EST
To get 300W on AC, at US line voltage of 120V, you need 2.5A. Which will generate half a watt in your 0.08 ohm line.

Yes, you still have losses in your PSU, but they are ultimately lower than in a low voltage ring main cct, and besides, I'd sooner have them there being cooled by a fan than in my wall burning my house down.

[ Parent ]
JFC! I'll bite. by ti dave (4.00 / 1) #5 Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 08:45:02 AM EST
Note that the schlub on that site didn't use Glasers in his "test", which is the solution I pedddled on TEH OTHAR SITE many years ago.

I don't care if people hate my guts; I assume most of them do.
The important question is whether they are in a position to do anything about it. --W.S. Burroughs

DVD players by DullTrev (4.00 / 2) #7 Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 09:42:17 AM EST

Was quite tempted to get a cheap DVD player to watch stuff without the computer. (Last one broke) It's the size of the things that puts me off. Dunno why they're so huge.
I think it's making sure you don't need a fan to cool the transformer...

Small ones have external transformers by Dr H0ffm4n (2.00 / 0) #20 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 01:44:31 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Firearms inside urban dwellings by lm (4.00 / 1) #8 Sat Feb 18, 2006 at 03:20:04 PM EST
I though everyone knew that shotguns loads are the least likely rounds to penetrate through walls.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
PSUs by Evil Cloaked User (4.00 / 2) #10 Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 07:57:00 AM EST
Switch mode power supplies cause serious harmonic pollution of the mains voltage. The greater their power output, the greater the harmonic distortion. Beyond a certain level of input power, a device is required by law to implement power factor correction to reduce this pollution. There's a certain amount of granularity regarding how good the power factor must be which again varies with input power.

Passive power factor correction techniques generally involve big slabs of inductor. Active power factor correction generally involves a two stage converter, where the first converter will normally boost the intermediate bus voltage to somewhere on the order of 400V using a slow feedback loop to regulate the intermediate bus loosely, combined with large bulk capacitors. This means that the boost PFC converter can draw its current in phase with the line voltage thus preventing distortion. The second stage converter will only inject pollution into the intermediate bus and so is free to run a tight fast acting current-fed control loop.

A two stage PSU involves higher losses than a single stage PSU. Coupled with the higher load levels seen in a PC and suddenly the low efficiency of AC/DC conversion in general, and the even lower efficiency of a two stage model means that there's quite an amount of energy being pissed away compared to your TV.

Yes, the PSUs could be made more efficient, but computer PSUs have some of the lowest margins in the world. Efficient PSUs won't become the norm until they are mandated by law, or until Viiv etc. takes off in the living room and makes fan noise unacceptable to the average punter.

Virtual 5 by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #11 Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 08:12:01 AM EST
I'm fascinated but confused. Have read this and this, but still don't see why TV and video power supplies are quieter. Is it just that they use less power, do they use non-switcher transformers, or are they just more expensive?

I thought that the 300W thing was just a maximum capacity, and that usually computers are drawing much less.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
300W by Evil Cloaked User (4.00 / 3) #12 Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 11:32:28 AM EST
Switch Mode power supplies have several loss mechanisms. Some of them are related to the load level, and some of them are invariant. These are conduction losses and switching losses respectively.

Switching losses are incurred because in order to turn on a transistor (a MOSFET due to their lower resistance and lack of Vbe drop found in BJTs) the gate of the transistor, which is essentially a capacitor, must be charged up. To turn it off, this capacitor must be discharged. The current used to charge and discharge this cap is ultimately fed though some sort of resistive element and as a result, it dissipates power. This energy is actually invariant of the resistance feeding the cap and is found to be 0.5*C*V2. This quantum of energy is dissipated every time the FET is switched on or off.

So, the higher the frequency, the higher the loss, likewise, with increases in capacitance, and voltage, the loss increases.

On the other hand, higher frequency operation means smaller transformers with lower hysteresis loss in the core of the transformer. Higher capacitance occurs from having many FETs in parallel in order to reduce conduction losses. Which leaves the gate voltage, which being a squared term, is quite dominant. During turn on, and again turn off, of the FET, it goes from being very high resistance to very low resistance. At high resistance, there is very little conduction loss because there is very little conduction. At very low resistance, there is very low conduction loss as P = I2*R and R is very very low. However, during the transition from one phase to another, there is quite an amount of conduction loss as R is high enough to be a factor in the above, but low enough to allow a good amount of current. A higher gate voltage makes for a faster transition from on to off and reduces this loss.

As a result, trade offs are made so that the while the switching losses are comparatively high, the conduction losses (which again go with the square if I) are kept low. As a result, the PSU can provide it's maximum output power and keep dissipation within acceptable levels, but at lower load levels, the switching losses still exist and are quite high. At a 10% load level, it's not at all uncommon for the PSU to be only 20 or 30% efficient.

So, in summary, PSUs tend to be designed to be efficient at high load, and usable at low load. The load level in a TV or a stereo is far more predictable, and so the design can be tuned. A PSU which will always operate at 80% of full load is pretty much the sweet spot. This is the case in TVs etc. A PSU that can conceivably operate most of it's life at 30% load but needs to be able to handle 100% load is a nightmare. And it's also sitting in your computer.

[ Parent ]
VOTE COMMENT TO FRONT PAGE [nt] by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #13 Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 11:38:14 AM EST

It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Did I mention by Evil Cloaked User (4.00 / 1) #14 Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 11:56:10 AM EST
That I used to work for a company who were contracted by Intel to come up with potential reference designs for Viiv compatible PSUs?

And now I'm back doing embedded systems firmware. It's a topsy turvy world.

[ Parent ]
Operation Become Less Fat by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #19 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 12:33:23 AM EST
Going well, isn't it? Well done.

It's political correctness gone mad!

I'm interested in how success is measured by Dr H0ffm4n (2.50 / 2) #21 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 02:14:42 AM EST
Is there a goal in mind? Measuring weight loss rather than any other fitness indicator seems to be pandering to an aesthetic rather than health criterion. Yes, losing weight for an obese person can increase general health, but the correlation between health and societal 'ideal' weight is actually skewed. Those at or below ideal weights tend to have worse health than those in the quartile above.

[ Parent ]
Please see by Evil Cloaked User (2.00 / 0) #22 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 02:22:05 AM EST

[ Parent ]
TE in vanity crisis shocker!! by Dr H0ffm4n (2.00 / 0) #23 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 03:00:48 AM EST
Of course such a physically perfect specimen as myself just can't understand the failings of others...

[ Parent ]
What is this 'goal' and 'success'? by R Mutt (3.00 / 2) #24 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 03:13:58 AM EST
Do you think your body is an opponent to be defeated?

Why not just eat a healthy balanced diet, do moderate exercise and see how much less fat you become?

[ Parent ]
Ethos by Dr H0ffm4n (1.00 / 1) #25 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 03:38:46 AM EST
The question is why do you want to lose fat? To change your lifestyle to one more arduous usually has some psychological motivation. Merely the challenge in itself is rarely motivation enough. You've never struck me as someone who is unhealthily overweight. You may be unhealthy, but that is less to do with weight than cardiovascular capacity or metabolism. If you want to be more fit and healthy because you want to live longer, or feel less fatigued, then all good. But those are then the goals, and weight or fat loss may help that, but wouldn't be the primary measure. If your reasons are more to do with improving some measure (weight/shape) because of societal pressures, then you may be the sort of person who will always find some societal measure which you can use to criticise yourself. My question was not advocating goals per se, as I am personally quite opposed to a goal driven lifestyle. Rather I was questioning your reasoning for embarking on the operation in the first place. Using weight as a measure means you seem to have some aim in mind which is goal (or direction) orientated. So the question remains, why do you want to lose fat? Why adopt weight as the measure of progress?

[ Parent ]
Urgh, not again by R Mutt (4.00 / 1) #26 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 04:38:09 AM EST
I really don't want to get into yet another BMI argument so soon. Mainstream medical opinion is that that Starting Weight is unhealthy for someone of that height.

Yeah, you and everyone else on the intarweb knows that BMI is just an evil tool of fattist oppression and the Medical Establishment is actually only interested in enforcing social conformity: why not write about it in your own diary?

[ Parent ]
you asked a question by Dr H0ffm4n (4.00 / 1) #27 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 04:56:46 AM EST
I answered it. I never even mentioned BMI. I really wasn't aspiring to a flame-war re oppressive capitalist societies.

[ Parent ]
Equally by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #28 Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 02:07:12 AM EST
Why wash? With modern medicine cleanliness isn't necessary to avoid infections. In fact, being dirty will probably improve your immune system.

Fuck what society thinks, I'm going to really, really smell.

It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Similar, but not the same by Dr H0ffm4n (2.00 / 0) #29 Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 04:32:11 AM EST
TE is not fat. Never has been IMHO.

[ Parent ]
I was pushing the point a bit :-) by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #30 Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 04:45:30 AM EST
Having only met him once I can't really remember and I wasn't exactly sizing him up :-) but yeah, I seem to remember him being quite slim.

Still, if it makes him feel better. That's all that counts really.

It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
better== fitter, yes, good by Dr H0ffm4n (1.00 / 1) #31 Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 06:13:16 AM EST
better== higher self-esteem based on body image, bad.

[ Parent ]
What's wrong with higher self-esteem? by Evil Cloaked User (2.00 / 0) #32 Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 06:25:54 AM EST
So long as the means to acquire the higher self-esteem doesn't lead to any kind of harm in the process, what's the problem?

[ Parent ]
/self/ esteem isn't bad by Dr H0ffm4n (1.00 / 1) #33 Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 06:45:42 AM EST
Thinking of oneself as worthy is great. It's a good thing.

Thinking oneself as worthy because of some temporary factor (such as having a six pack), means you lose any feeling of worth once that goes. Is a person bad person for having a spare tyre?

[ Parent ]
There are no absolutes. by Evil Cloaked User (3.00 / 1) #34 Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 07:09:56 AM EST
"You may lose any feeling of worth"

If that's the case then your entire self esteem is based on your physique and that's plainly wrong. All I'm saying is there's nothing wrong with feeling a bit better about yourself because you look a bit better.

[ Parent ]
Should one judge others by the same criteria? by Dr H0ffm4n (2.00 / 0) #35 Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 11:02:40 PM EST
If not, why judge yourself using them?

[ Parent ]
Captain Caveman | 35 comments (35 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback