Author Archives: Ian


Colour of cooked lobster

Oh the shame, half a day in the sun (lovely BBQ at Maishima with friends and family) and I’m like the stereo-typical bright-red brit on holiday, except that I’m of ethnic Chinese origin…

Our situation after the earthquake

Dear Friends,

Thank-you for your messages and thoughts. We’re safe and well in Osaka, so far. The earthquake was large but only affected the north/east of Japan. Actually the earthquakes (one large, one medium) did not directly cause many causalities but the resulting tsunamis did and have caused many deaths in coastal areas.

The nuclear situation is worrying, we have to rely on the news reports. Some interpretations say that even in the worst case scenario, the effects would still be ok and “contained”. I think it is too early to say, especially long-term. There’s not so much balanced foreign reporting, as news outlets can’t get out of their “news sells” pattern. Meltdowns/explosions are words that sell papers, or eyeballs. The facts are less clear. But we are in no immediate danger, as of 11am 14th March. Things could change by the hour. There is a 70% danger of another medium/large earthquake in the near future.

Our thoughts go out to those directly affected by the earthquakes and tsunamis. We trying to remain calm and get our heads round this all and see what we can do to help.
I will update this post and reply to comments as events change.

Why I choose the Eee PC 1001PX over other netbooks

So a few weeks ago I tweeted asking for advice on a netbook that had a matte screen and decent battery life under Linux.  I wanted a cheap light writing machine.  I didn’t get much of a response but eventually I ended up with a second-hand (used) Eee PC 1001PX.  Why did I choose this from the vast amount of netbooks out there?

The thing is that there aren’t as many netbooks out there that fit my small set of requirements.  I hope this helps other people in a similar search.

What were my requirements?

  • Easily Upgradable to 2GB
  • Matte screen
  • Decent battery life (3 hours or more)
  • Light (less than 1.5kg)
  • Hard Drive upgradable to SSD if possible

After wasting lots of time searching I found that these models came close:

  • HP Mini 210
  • IBM Thinkpad x100e
  • Sony X
  • Eee PC 1001PX

Unfortunately, I had to strike off 3 of the 4.  The HP Mini 210 because HP made a stupid marketing decision to limit it to 1GB unless you ordered it direct from them with 2GB, which made it much more expensive.  The x100e because its battery life was poor, maybe less than 2 hours under linux.  The Sony X was a gorgeous machine, light slim and with 2GB Ram, 64GB SSD out of the box.  It is less than 700g but it is so pricey.  Around 3 times of a new Eee PC and four times what I paid used.  Even so I was tempted, I have to say thanks to Matt for helping me decide.

I paid 23,800 Yen and the X was around 95,000 Yen.  Yikes!  I bought a refurbished model with a 30 day warranty.  As a bonus it had Windows  7 Starter instead of Win XP which most of the new models ship with.  I am not sure why.

So is the 1001PX perfect?  No, not by a long shot.  The keyboard is fairly poor, compared to the ThinkPads, which have the best keyboards even better than my MacBook Pro.  The touchpad and especially the buttons are also sub-standard.  I don’t use the touchpad much though.  I use vimperator with firefox and gvim as my text editor.

I plan on upgrading the hard drive to a SSD after the short warranty expires as it is a little more complicated to do than on other machines.  I might not change the OS to linux after all, because Win7 does enough for me and I am sure the battery life would suffer if I went to ubuntu.  It’s a driver thing…

Well, hope this helps others, feel free to leave a comment or ask questions below.

Air-conditioning at night, too hot too cold? Here’s an idea

It’s the start of the summer season here in Japan.  Toasty 36C days and 30-31C nights.  It’s a bit too hot to sleep without air-conditioning but for some reason when we set it to 28C it is too cold, and when we set it to 29C it is too hot.

Jamie caught a cold maybe because of the air-conditioning itself and maybe because of the dust being kept in the air by the air conditioning being on.  While he doesn’t have asthma, his lungs are sensitive to dust.  But he is also the one that sweats a lot and wakes up at night if it is too hot.

So when we took him to the doctor’s we asked the doctor’s advice and she said one idea is to turn on the air-con in the next room, and keep the door between them slightly open. That way the air temperature isn’t too cool and there is less churn of dust.

That’s what I’m doing right now, and he’s been sleeping for almost 3 hours.  Hope it works at night too :)
BTW I don’t claim that this idea is eco-friendly.

New theme, new server, a few ideas

I’ve just moved server for this blog from Joyent to Linode. The shared accelerator server on Joyent was really quick at the start but has been slow of late.  I’ll be slowly moving my other sites over, but since it is a VPS, if it slows down it will be my own fault. So far it has been pretty cool running a VPS but it is not for the faint-hearted.

I haven’t been blogging of late, something my nephew picked up (thanks Michael), and there are various reasons. The biggest two are probably procastination and lack of inspiration.  (other factors are facebook, twitter and flickr).  So I had a think about it and wondered in the gaps between posts what I would have written.  What things or topics have happened in my life that were worthy of a blog post.

From now on I will try to write about those things (hence the sub-title).  A partial list includes photography, in particular strobism, inspiration or positive takeaways from meeting up with friends, football and geek stuff like being stucked into vim.

Oh and the blog has a new theme by WooThemes called Mainstream.  I should mention that I took out the link at the bottom, not because I want to hide the fact but because it just stood out so much.  I do intend on adding back a text link when I get the time.