6 April 2008, 23:12 by mark hoekstra

...and it's still quiet

...around here…

my setup this sunday
click to go to the corresponding pic on flickr

First of all, when I read this, I didn’t recognize myself in that, and somehow I think that’s a good thing.

In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop

“...the stress put upon prolific bloggers to maintain a constant flow of content in order to satisfy both consumers and advertisers in the information age.”

...erm… what? *^_^*

Somehow I made it my goal to show that you can have a lot of fun *without* advertisers.

“...Then the goal is raised, like a sales commission: write more, earn more.”


Anyway, that’s not my way and for long(er) time readers that shouldn’t come as a surprise, right?

This weekend I’ve been busy (again!) with server number two (and other things as well).

A couple of days ago I received some more memory for this server, I only had one problem. Since I’m using OpenBSD/i386 on there, and the PAE-support has been reverted since 4.1, how do I use the extra 2GB above the 4GB 32-bit limit?

Well, last weekend (not this one, the one before this one) I spent a great deal of time on that. I noticed that a lot of the PAE-stuff had been done by Michael “Mickey” Shalayeff. The coincedence is that Mickey (who had a wonderful accessory then) and I met on the last CCCamp and I decided to drop him a mail and he helped me out with a patch for my system (ain’t that nice!). It took me a while (...hey, I’m not a developer aight?) to incorporate it and I still have a question or two left for Mickey, but the machine now at least sees 6GB, so, we’re getting there! (this server is up and running around the time my then current cellphone will have the same horsepower ^_^).

6GB on boot
click to enlarge

compiling with the patches done:

click to enlarge

...and then… there’s another reason why I’m so quiet… ***^_^***

...and I’m not sure if I should mention this here, but well, since this is my personal blog and sooner or later you’re gonna see her anyway (right here) so, yeah, there’s a girl, a very special one and she keeps me occupied (and I don’t mind that one bit) *^_^*

I’ve already written something about it on the Dutch Moois Magazine, although non-dutch readers should be able to understand my post there as well.

her shoes / my shoes
click to enlarge

her bike / my bike
click to enlarge

Her name is Victoria and she lives in Buenos Aires. (if you’re really curious, you can spot some pics *through* the compiler-output in the picture above…). Now that’s quite far from Groningen, I know(...) but somehow, in today’s world you can really (and I mean *really*) get to know each other very well (it only takes hundreds of mails and pictures, hours of video and days on skype). (and if you read this and think ‘yeah right’, that’s what’s I thought two months ago also…). We know each other for almost two months now and I’m totally blown away by her. *^_^*

I’m not sure if I should put more love induced texts on my blog, for now I don’t think so, but who knows I’m gonna turn it around in some love & happiness blog (mind you, Victoria loved the idea!)

We’re both saving for tickets and we should be able to meet up this summer. If you somehow feel you want to contribute to this geek love story, you can!

...if we’re able to do something nice with the money, of course I’m gonna blog it! (although… I haven’t discussed this with her yet… ...erm… Victoria? *^_^*)

...so yeah, what to say? it’s quiet around here and I’m a happy man *^_^*

oh, and back to where I started:

“I haven’t died yet,” said Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, a popular technology blog. The site has brought in millions in advertising revenue, but there has been a hefty cost. Mr. Arrington says he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. “At some point, I’ll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen.”

“This is not sustainable,” he said.

...I think my way of doing things is, but we’ll see about that. *^_^*

(but maybe I’m just thinking that, because I’m in love)

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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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2 March 2008, 23:55 by mark hoekstra


well, I’m surprised I’ve still got visitors! *^_^*

somehow I thought this was an appropriate pic ^_^
credit: bnp on flickr
click to go to the corresponding pic on flickr

I mean, I don’t think that in the *ahem* history of this site I ever had a moment where I didn’t blog for three weeks(!).

But, behind the scenes I’m quite busy to push this whole thing in another gear somehow.

Last week I talked to my generous host and we were able to reach an agreement about my second server so yes, in a while I’ll be hosting this DIY-job of a site of two servers(!). That should also resolve some speed issues. At least, I’m experiencing some speed related issues with this site. Anybody else experience the same? Somehow I don’t want to change to much to this server right now… it’s been running for 640(!) days right now and somehow I want to be in the datacenter when I reboot this machine. I should be there in about a month I guess to co-locate the second server.

shamal logs # uptime 23:13:59 up 640 days, 13:46, 1 user, load average: 0.28, 0.36, 0.33

And well, of course I’ve been geeking around since my last project, but nothing big. I’ve been busy connecting my Indy optical to my stereo and I made an approach to another Polaroid project, but that needs more time…

click to go to the corresponding pics on flickr

And there’s a whole lot more going on as well, some of it in my personal life and some in my professional life (all positive btw!) sooooo…

bates got it all figured out
click to enlarge

Somehow this three weeks of non-blogging has to do with the kind of decisions I’ve been making I guess. In short that’s no ads and only blog when I really have something to blog. So yeah, in the end that could work out to only blog projects, but somehow I’m not quite sure about that.

Anyway, for those who want to know, I’m still alive and kicking!


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11 February 2008, 01:43 by mark hoekstra

a Polaroid project

click to go to the project page

Polaroid is dead, long live Polaroid!

Talk about a coincidence, in a weekend where I decided to tinker with an old Polaroid camera, Polaroid themselves decide to stop producing film for this (and other) types of instant cameras.

Well, here‘s what you can do with such a camera! ^_^

DIY trackback

John Nack on Adobe Blogs: Helmut Newton, the death of Polaroid, and more
(how nice to be mentioned in one blog post along with my favourite photographer, the late Helmut Newton. I’ve got a Helmut Newton photograph on my wall and I used to have only one book of him, Pola Woman, polaroids(yes, that’s right) by Helmut Newton… (too bad I lost that book somewhere))

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28 January 2008, 21:39 by mark hoekstra

for sale: a black Ferrari 412

click to go to the corresponding pic on flickr

Last week I couldn’t believe my eyes when I was biking home from work and I spotted a black Ferrari 412 at the parking lot of a local garage:

click to go to the corresponding pic on flickr

Now, of course, this needs a litte explanation. I mean, seeing a Ferrari is nice, but I’ve seen dozens if not hundreds of them in my lifetime (I’m getting old, I know), so, what’s so special about this one? ^_^

A couple of months ago I saw Daft Punk’s Electroma (wikipedia link, imdb link).

click to go to the official electroma website (although I like the japanese one better)

Now I didn’t see it on some festival or such, the whole movie (still!) is up on Google Video and I opted for the ‘download to iPod/PSP’ and it’s been the first movie I put on my equally black iPhone.

click to go the full version of Daft Punk’s Electroma on Google Video

Mind you, the full version on Google Video is one hour and ten minutes long, if you’re in a hurry, here’s a short excerpt, with this car in it:

direct link to youtube

Anyway, that’s all nice and dandy of course, but somehow this logoless black Ferrari 412 kept popping up in my mind every now and then. Somehow I was touched by the idea of a black Ferrari with all the logos removed. Even though I saw the movie in a crappy resolution, it’s quite clear that there’s no Ferrari logo on the 412 Daft Punk have been using. I liked the idea so much that it kept popping up in my mind every now and then. I guess I like the seventies shape of the bodywork, earlier on I also spotted a poor man’s edition of the Ferrari 400/412 in my hometown, a Lancia Gamma Coupé with almost similar lines.

Next to that, I’m also a fan of ratlook VWs for instance and I guess removing the logos of this Ferrari is the equivalent of turning your VW into a hoodride without totally sacrificing it. I simply like the idea of dethrowning this Ferrari a bit. I guess this very 400/412 model is one which is much less recognizable when you remove the Ferrari logo. You want people to admire your car because it’s a tasteful ride right? ...and not because of some logo. If you want to buy a Ferrari so people know you drive a Ferrari, you can better opt for a 308/328 a.k.a. the Magnum car or something newer, more expensive and equally flashy.

Somehow, if this 412 was mine, next to removing the logos I would also go for an all matte black paintjob on it. ^_^

But guess what? This one isn’t mine! ^_^

But it is for sale!

(to get this straight, this is not the exact same car as in Electroma, but a similar one…)

According to Wikipedia there were no more than 576 Ferraris 412 produced (next to 1807 ones of the earlier 400/400i, GT and Automatic).

And of those 576 412s, how many of those are black and better yet, how many of those are in driving condition and for sale?

Not that many I guess, so that’s why I could hardly believe spotting this one last week in my hometown. I mean, you hardly see anyone driving a Ferrari over here, it somehow doesn’t fit in the culture of where I live I guess, so to find this one I already had buried inside my head somewhere is nice (even though I can’t afford it).

But maybe you can! So here it is:

click on a pic to go to the corresponding pic on flickr

This is a black 1985 Ferrari 412 Automatic, with a 4.9 liter V12 which should give around 340 horsepower, the odometer says 9000 and something kilometers, but that’s probably 109.000 and something.

It’s for sale at a local garage in Groningen, if there’s anyone interested, you can contact me and I can put you through. I would really love it if one of my readers would buy this exquisite ride ^_^

Asking price is around EUR 28,000

If you somehow like the idea of a matte black logoless Ferrari 412, got quite some money and you can miss a considerable amount of that but you don’t want all the hassle, there’s no problem either!

You can always donate this car to me and I’ll make it a hardware hack project which will wet your pants. I promise I’ll send the logos to whoever helps me out with this one *^_^*

So if you help me out, this logo, next to probably a dozen others…

click to go to the corresponding pic on flickr

...will be yours! (if you’re the one who donates the total amount)

Now that’s quite a deal, ey?

In the mean time, I’ll stick to my own black ride with tan upholstery (matte black and no logos has been the plan with that one also, no joke) *^_^*

click to go to the corresponding pic on flickr

(this car really is for sale. If you’re interested, contact me and I can put you through.)

my ultimate car list (needs updating!)
Ferrari 412 – a photoset on Flickr

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15 January 2008, 20:35 by mark hoekstra

a Mac in an envelope?

I’m watching (well… following by refreshing) Steve Jobs Keynote right now on Engadget.

The rumours seem to be true, there is gonna be a MacBook Air and Steve is selling it by showing it’ll fit in an envelope.

picture courtesy of engadget.com

picture courtesy of engadget.com

But… wait a minute… my old iBook already fitted quite nicely in an envelope! In reality I’ve been using envelopes (with bubbles) as sleeves for my iBook and PowerBook and that (still) works for me.

from my archive:

click to go to the projectpage

click to go to the projectpage

minimalistic no cost iBook sleeve

If fitting inside an envelope is the sales pitch I guess I still don’t have a reason to upgrade from my beloved 12 inch Macs. *^_^*

Next to that, if you’re carrying a $1799 laptop around in an envelope (as is the case with this new MBA), I suggest you take a bubbly envelope (just like me) instead of a manila one. ^_^

picture courtesy of engadget.com

I’m only joking of course, the MacBook Air looks great (well, except there’s no replaceable battery as it seems!). I can’t wait to have a look at the real deal (and can’t wait for the hype to blow over ^_^).

DIY trackback:

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13 January 2008, 13:49 by mark hoekstra

the Indy now scrobbles to last.fm!

Somewhere before the holidays I posted a project on how you can make a netbooting, diskless, MP3 playing Indy. Now the only thing I somehow didn’t think of, was getting this player to submit the track info to last.fm. I’ve been using last.fm for quite a while now, so I was quite eager to get this to work. Next to that, sometimes I like to spent an almost unlimited amount of time to get the tiniest detail fixed. But for people who follow me, that’s no surprise I guess. *^_^*

the setup
click to go to the project page

Anyway, after weeks of getting my head around this, I finally found a way of doing this and it works!

My Indy now submits the tracks I’m playing to last.fm! ^_^

You can read all the details overhere:

update: the Indy now scrobbles to last.fm!

we’re submitting track info!
click to go to the project page

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5 January 2008, 18:17 by mark hoekstra

on national television!

For people located in The Netherlands, tonight I will be on national television! *^_^*


I made a little excerpt of my few seconds on national television, so here you go, my fifteen seconds of fame! ^_^

direct link to video

In de ban van het ding, January 5th, VPRO Nederland 3, 20:50

A leader of the show, with three of my colleagues from Bright:
(but not with me! ^_^)

direct link to video

In de ban van het ding (which is hard to translate… the closest would be something like “having an obsession with things” and things thereby being gadgets/hardware and such, although it sounds almost the same as ‘In de ban van de ring’ which has been the Dutch title for Tolkien’s book ‘Lord of the Rings’, the movie carried the English title, even here in Holland. Following those rules it would be ‘Lord of things’ but that’s not one hundred percent correct I’m afraid. ^_^)

Anyway, it’s some sort of a real-life documentary about three colleagues of mine of Bright magazine, for whom I also work. They are followed in their everyday life and in today’s episode I’m helping out my colleague David with some iPods. That’s all actually ^_^

The footage for this episode (number three) has been shot quite a while ago and I’m not sure how much of it has made it into the episode. I got a mail yesterday from an acquaintance who spotted me in the leader for today’s episode, which I haven’t seen myself, but I guess at least I’ll be in it!

Ah well, I’ll see how much of *well* me is in it. It’s the first time I’ll be on national television with the stuff I do on this website and such, so even if it’ll be five seconds (I’m being overly optimistic!), I’ll be happy with it.

I’ll drop a link as soon as this episode is available online, for those interested.

Here you go:

uitzendinggemist.nl : In de ban van het ding, episode 3

(click the orange button which says ‘bekijk uitzending’ which means ‘view episode’ to watch it)

or, if that one doesn’t work:

player omroep.nl

It’s only fifteen seconds or such, a few minutes into the episode. Ah well.

P.S. I know I’m pimping this off to the extreme, but you know what? f*ck that! *^_^*

related / earlier on this site:

on national radio!

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1 January 2008, 16:36 by mark hoekstra

quite a year

(coming up with a blogpost title after this one didn’t take long)

Happy new year everyone!

everyone who got a snail mail xmas card from me will recognize this pic *^_^*
click to enlarge

The last couple of days I could’ve written a ‘review’ of 2007 of course, but, not so long ago I already did something like that. Next to that, for the first time in years, I’ve been some sort of ill for a couple of days. I really can’t recall being sick for more than one day and normally it doesn’t stop me from doing things, but this time it did. But, all is fine and dandy and I’m back being my normal me.

Still, a few words about last year. I guess I can say it’s been quite a year for this website. The way I feel it, this website has been doing okay for a couple of years now, so I was a little surprised to find that, compared to 2006, this site has tripled its figures(!!!).

For those interested, the full year figures of geek technique:

unique visitors: 1.2 million
pageviews: 3.2 million
bandwidth: 1.1 million megabytes

Now, since I do no ads, more pageviews doesn’t necessarily mean a thing to me and I’m not optimizing in any way to get more pageviews either (optimizing being a nice word for putting crap content online like top 10 lists and such, you know, the stuff which does well on digg *^_^*). I strongly believe content is king and that’s where my energy goes. If I’ve got nothing to say, I like to leave it at that and many times I wish other people/blogs would do the same (but they’ve got goals to reach! ads to burn!).

And as a last one, my (wholeheartedly wished) prediction for 2008. Now, first of all, this is just my two cents on the web. Maybe, in a while we can all have laugh about how ridiculously wrong I’ve been on this one, but still, I’d like to share my thoughts here.

I guess a lot of people feel that there’s a bubble (2.0) and a major over valuation of the tech market. But will it burst? Can it burst?

If there’s one bubble which can burst, I guess it’ll have to do with the potential single point of failure of all things startup and present right now and that’s the dependence on ad income and ad income only of nearly all business plans you see. Everyone is betting on the ad market and when Microsoft thinks 1.6% of Facebook is worth $240 million, merely because of the potential ad burning capabilities of Facebook, you know something isn’t quite right, right?

Well, again, maybe I’m horribly wrong on this one. But, one other thing, if I now read top blogs which I love, some of them start to remind me of the christmas tree kind of look which the top search engines back in the day thought would bring them fortune too. Altavista and others changed in god awful ‘portals’ and then there came this one search engine which took the world by storm simply because it had a clean interface. That’s right, Google. Now I do think it’s kinda hypocrite that it’s Google’s core business now to burn ads above all other things they do (imho), but that’s a whole different story ^_^ Anyway, it won’t take long before the top blogs become unreadable because of all the ads they’re trying to push and at this moment there’s only one solution and that’s reading the RSS feeds only, without the ads. Luckily ads in RSS feeds never gained any ground, I guess seeing your subcription base vaporate in thin air has stopped anyone from doing that *^_^*

Anyway, so what will it be? A disruptive technology which will make this ad burning a whole lot more difficult? A majority which will switch to RSS with ad less readers (on or offline)? Ad income which for whatever reason plummets to no value? I don’t know.

I do know I wish something will happen to get all things in the right direction again. Have some true innovation on the web instead of all these marketeers, gold diggers and search engine optimizers. There are other ways to make money than ads, it’ll only take some innovation

Ah well, we’ll see.

In any way, let’s make 2008 a good one, shall we?


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20 December 2007, 18:57 by mark hoekstra

quite a week

My blog post frequency is extremely low at the moment. But, (I know I’ve said this before) I’m extremely busy at the moment. Sometimes when I’m busy, that also leads to a lot of stuff I can blog about. And sometimes it does not ;-)

Before anyone starts to think I’ve forgotten the password to my own CMS, let’s review this last week ^_^

Last wednesday (that’s the 12th of december) I spent a great deal of the day in public transport. I was asked to give a lecture at the Faculty of Communication and Multimedia Design in Breda. I took me a while before I realized it was a three and a half hour train ride to get there (and three and a half hours back), it took me even longer to realize they expected me to talk for one and a half hours straight ^_^

click to go to the corresponding set on flickr

But… I guess I pulled it off and I enjoyed it very much. To me it’s very nice to be able to talk about my projects in front of (a lot of) people, even if in the end this one session took me a full day. I need a fast car for stuff like this I guess! Oh, well, talking about that…

A while ago I spotted a Renault Sport Spider, which is quite a rare car I guess, here in Groningen at a local garage. Not expecting anything, I talked about that with colleagues of Bright and in the end my colleague Meike came all the way to Groningen to film this car for bright.tv. I’m not in the clip or anything, but I had a fun day running around and helping out where I could. The people from the garage were extremely helpful and nice. The clip from Meike can be seen here (in Dutch)

click to go to the corresponding set on flickr

And then, last monday I took a day off from my day job (I still have a day job also ^_^) to be able to help out setting up everything for Pecha Kucha Night Volume VIII in Groningen. It’s almost two years ago, since I came across the concept of Pecha Kucha and in the mean time, it has grown globally to an enormous amount of cities where this is hosted and I still think it’s awesome that we’re able to host our own event here in Groningen ^_^

click to go to the corresponding set on flickr

This time we could host it inside it an old jailhouse (!!!) (thank you rijksgebouwendienst!) and it was the best place so far I guess. Lots of people showed up (even though it was very cold) and I believe people had quite a good time there. ^_^

click to go to the corresponding set on flickr

My flickr set can be found here and Platform Gras‘ flickr set can be found here. The people of Platform Gras were the actual organizers of the event, I was just there, you know, running around with some duct tape *^_^*

All in all these were some very busy but also very gratifying days, let’s see if I can spend some days at my kitchen table during the holidays. *^_^*

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