I wish I had more great and wonderful things to report from the past month-and-some.
No great new movie releases here yet in the states, though I've certainly been
plugging away with movie sales to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, with foreign
movie deals, I
have even less of an idea when anything's actually going to start appearing on store
shelves, and those store shelves in Australia, Japan, and Thailand are
far enough away that I hardly ever end up in the neighborhood with the urge to check
'em out while I'm there anyway.
At least I've gotten a sneak peek at some of the upcoming cover art, so I'll probably
be putting that up here in a bit, at least once it's official.
In the meantime, I've been doing an awful lot of repairing, testing, and upgrading of
the servers out here. You may not have noticed, but I quietly replaced the webserver
you're reading this off of just a few weeks ago. I tried to keep the downtime to less
than five seconds for the switchover, which isn't too bad--especially given the reliability
of the rest of the net these days.
(Inferno's ad from
Independent Film Quarterly)
I did end up using the
Asus N4L-VM DH
Core Duo Mobile-on-Desktop board for the server, not so much because it was the best platform
for the job, but because of the candidate systems I was testing, it had the important advantage of
I'd bought some other boards to try out for both Intel mobile-on-desktop solutions
and AMD AM2 energy-efficient processors, the latter including the
Asus M2A-VM GREEN AMD 690G
(that's "green" as in "energy-efficient"--not "green" as in "colored"). Unfortunately, one
of the tactics ASUS has taken to make the M2A-VM extra green is to disable support
for bootable RAID controllers. This way, I presume, your server will simply never
actually boot up, thus saving you much more energy than it would consume if it
You could also buy (or find) a scrap of 2-by-4 and get the same effect, but that's less
in keeping with the typical server room decor, so that's far from a universal solution.
Just like all my previous attempts to get any assistance from ASUS technical support,
I never was able to get any response from ASUS about this, except for the automated,
"thank you for submitting your question to ASUS technical support" message. I think
outsourcing the technical support staff to India has become passe' these days, and
most computer manufacturers have switched over to outsourcing theirs to the dead.
I'm sure it's cheaper, and you probably get used to the smell eventually.
I'm starting to lean towards the theory that deliberately engineering otherwise
perfectly functional products to be incompatible with applications other than
web-browsing and catching computer viruses is part of ASUS's marketing
strategy (and probably not exclusive to them, either).
For workstation use, I've been exploring the use of newer models of PCI-express
based SAS (Serial Attached SCSI -- how bad is it that we now have to abbreviate
abbreviations?) RAID controllers. It used to be that to get anything that could
handle more throughput than the PCI bus, you had to spend five to ten times as
much on a special server or workstation motherboard, usually with specially
But all of that has abruptly changed, because now plenty of (relatively) cheap boards
that support cheap, non-exotic processors now sport multiple pci-express slots which,
though intended for L33T G4M3RZ to use multiple video cards for maximum gaming
power, are physically just as well suited for workstation and server type uses like
Which is why, according to
on 2CPU.com (a fine and useful site, by the way), some manufacturers (including ASUS) have
designed their non-workstation (i.e., five times as expensive) boards to lock up and refuse to
do more than beep rudely at you if you dare to insert something other than a graphics card into
one of the PCI-express slots. To quote user CetusLI in the above thread,
"I've discussed this issue with ASUS tech support hot line.
They told me the PCI-e x16 slots on their Desktop MoBos were designed only for Graphics Cards, and
I should buy their Work Station series MOBOs if I attempt to use a non-graphics PCI-e card."
One way or another, it's still possible to build a computer system--you just have to include the added step
of buying several sets of components that all have specs that indicate they should work...and
then try out enough of them yourself to find a combination that doesn't have any of the functions
you need deliberately disabled by the manufacturer.
It can be done. You just have to figure out what to do with all the leftover hardware afterwards.
...this Christmas, *everybody* gets a computer.