15 March 2008, 21:40 by mark hoekstra

going through my gear

Well, somehow, and I don’t know exactly why, I quite like these quiet times on my site (for now). Somehow I always go through all kinds of phases. There’s a time I’m busy and concerned about the website itself, the code, the design etcetera, then there’s times I’m busy with all the hardware it runs on and there’s times I can concentrate fully on the content. Well, you probably guessed it, the time for concentrating on the content isn’t there yet, but it’ll come again. At this moment I’m busy going through all the gear which I consider the main tools for this website.

my workstation with ‘new’ monitors
click to enlarge

I’m busy with server number two and I’ve been buying some last stuff for that one, just before it goes to the data center. Once it’s there, I need some time too, first to get everything from the old server to the new one, then probably overhaul the old one and then run in tandem for the setup I’ve got in my mind.

I added some proper heatsinks to my server
...so those 1Us could go…
click to enlarge

And on the other end, in my home, I’ve been busy too. I decided I could/would continue a little longer with my workstation, but I had some problems with it, so those had to be solved before I could really work behind my workstation again.

getting it all back together…
click to enlarge

The problem is/was, upon boot, I had a random amount of CPUs… Sometimes 4, sometimes 3, sometimes 2 and sometimes 1… I replaced the PSU with a Fortron 600 watt Epsilon one (it was a 460 watt Enlight) but that didn’t help. I reseated the CPUs but that also didn’t help and in the end I decided my board would go back to Asus, just before the warranty would expire. Now I got it back and they say they replaced some components but I can’t spot which ones. Last night I kept having the same behaviour but I was totally amazed when I saw they put a new BIOS up for my board, after almost three years of silence (the last BIOS was from september 2005). I just flashed it and it booted on 4 CPUs (2 hyperthreading CPUs actually). Let’s see if this is it, otherwise I might try another set of Xeons, they get cheaper by the day ;-) (and buying on eBay in dollars is very nice for Europeans nowadays)

(update: after the bios-update I haven’t had the problem anymore… let’s hope it stays that way)

(update nr.2: it’s now a week and with the new bios i haven’t had the problem anymore :-) now i’m not sure if this would also be the case if i hadn’t send my motherboard to asus, but the bios was posted days after i send it in)

that’s four ‘virtual’ cpus alright (two hyperthreading cpus)
click to enlarge

And, next to that, this week, I got a mailing for an almost unresistable deal at a nice shop, used EIZO L685 18.1” TFTs for 85 euros each. They sold out quicker than you can say blueberry pie, but I was lucky to score two of them and I’m quite delighted with them! Now of course, these are used, probably seen 4 years of service and in the mean time TFTs got a whole lot better also. Still, this was one of the best TFTs around (one of the most expensive too) and I always have a weakness for stuff that was the best in its class, now or in the past and for this money, how could I go wrong?

For the same money I could’ve bought one new no-name 17” TFT.

click to enlarge

And since my workstation is located in my livingroom, the look of a monitor is something I take into consideration too ;-) If you ask me, they still look like a million dollars.

So, with the ‘new’ monitors and the checked-up motherboard, it was time to get it all together…

the motherboard with CPUs and coolers mounted
click to enlarge

Bates tells me which screw goes where…
click to enlarge

it’s a miracle it all fits inside my good old modded SGI 320 case
click to enlarge

and… action!

click to enlarge

I shot a little video as well:

direct link

Soooo, I think I still need some more time in the background, but in the end it’ll ensure continuity on this site for a long time to come. (At least, that’s the main point of doing all this ;-))

Oh, and where did those old IIyamas go? Did I put them in the trash? No, of course not! How can I put perfectly fine electronics in the trash? I thought it would be nice to have a dual-head setup in my bedroom too…

Now only click if you can stand a mess...

(...and while my motherboard was away, I worked on that desk, on a machine with a motherboard I bought seven years ago for too much money (550 guilders, 250 euros), an Asus A7M266, single CPU AMD, with AMD-chipset. Performance isn’t impressive anymore of course, but it’s nice to know that, from a productivity point-of-view I can also get my work done on an old machine like that. I needed loads of Zen, but still, moments like that make me wonder.)

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  1. BOK @ 16 March 2008, 01:53 :

    Now that is some sweet set-up!
    And a nice Compiz demo too. Now the only things left missing are GLGears inside that cube! ;-)

  2. mark hoekstra @ 16 March 2008, 02:01 :


    The GL gears actually are inside the cube, they’re only a little hard to spot from a distance and almost all the sides are full with windows. On a previous setup I didn’t have these top and bottom on my cube somehow (and I liked that better) but I haven’t found the setting for that yet (haven’t really been looking hard either ;-))

  3. Ceristimo @ 16 March 2008, 23:38 :

    Cool monitors. Altough I would never want to trade my 19” CRT for a TFT (colorwise and all that), a TFT sure looks a hell of a lot better on a desk.

    Anyway, can’t you make your site so that pictures and stuff I click on open in a new tab? Because now when I enlarge a picture, I always end up closing your website, since it opens the picture in the same tab, and I’m not really used to that.
    Then I have to open a new tab and reload your website again, and I’m in Groningen, so you know that it takes half a minute before it loads again :-P.
    Would be nice to let the pictures open in a new tab.
    And oh yeah: Your site still rocks, ofcourse.

  4. Przem @ 4 April 2008, 10:00 :

    According to opening pictures I agree with Ceristimo. Opening in new window should be default.

    BTW. Mark, wake up! It’s 20 days since last post!

  5. ritchan @ 24 May 2008, 03:31 :

    Yeah, I’m with you on the ‘best of its class’ fetish. I was about to get an SGI Octane, too, but I figured shipping would be too expensive.
    My parents’ company used to distribute Eizo monitors in SEA. I love how they look… the only/first LCD panel I’m getting when I get an income is an Eizo monitor. Plus they actually state which monitors support Sync on Green.

  6. mark hoekstra @ 7 June 2008, 22:00 :

    > I was about to get an SGI Octane

    Well, my workstation is a SGI 320 case with a dual Nocona Xeon 2.8GHz in there. A lot quicker than the original dual PIII-500. Since this was one of the few non-MIPS SGI’s I thought I could do such a thing. (Next to that, I bought this one defective).

    But, this weekend I did get a true Octane too! Oh my, of course it’s old and measures nowhere to nowadays tech, but it’s oh so nice, still, imho of course.

  7. MakiS @ 5 March 2009, 18:45 :

    nC.. very very good work from GReek persons i like ur job , please continue if you want any help at softwares or anything to find for you just tell me… u can see my e-mail( kataras2006@hotmail.com ) ! i will be very happy to help you ( if i can)

As mentioned in the Message from Mark's family this site has been made static. This means that it will be no longer possible to comment on his ideas and projects, but that we all can continue to cherish his creativity.

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