The conclusion to John Birmingham’s Axis of Time alternative history trilogy, Final Impact, feels a little more fast paced than the previous two installments. Activity is spread between the European and Pacific theaters, the Zone, Moscow, and D.C. but without the transitions being jarring. While this book does wrap up the major plot points, it’s left enough open to hopefully hint at another series. There are plenty of loose ends left that could make for another great set of books.
As part of the laptop to desktop transition, I wanted more storage for the Mac Mini, but I wanted some redundancy, so I picked up a Western Digital MyBook Studio Edition II. It came in yesterday after a bobble with FedEx on Friday. Seriously, FedEx, if the package is shipped to a residential address and requires a signature, 10:30 AM on a work day pretty much guarantees that you’re going to be coming back out. That being said, I am very impressed with the fit and finish of the actual device. It looks good, is very quiet, and was easy to set up.
And that’s where the wheels came off. I couldn’t keep the finder stable with the raid manager running, so I uninstalled it. It then started playing nice, or at least I thought so. Until I checked the overnight SuperDuper! backup. It failed because the MyBook nuked the entire FireWire bus. So at that point I yanked it, installed it on the HTPC via eSATA, changed it to RAID 0, and started a backup of my DVD library (all 4 terabytes of it). It did all of that without a hitch, so it’s going to stay attached there so that I’ve got a backup copy of months of DVD and BluRay ripping.
Oh, and I’ve got a Newer Tech Guardian Maximus on order for more storage for the Mini. It should be in on Wednesday.
Neil Gaiman’s Stardust was a really, really good book. I picked it up after seeing the movie, and I’m glad I did. The further in to the book I got the more it diverged from the movie (or actually the more the movie diverged from the book). But that’s ok because both were entertaining in their own ways. I have to say that I liked the book’s ending a lot, it was definitely poetic. While the book is technically classified as young adult, some salty language is used and there are some sexual situations, so use your best judgement if you’re giving it to someone’s kid.
I put my MacBook Pro up for sale and got a taker pretty quickly, so I ordered a new MacBook Air. It’s the 11″, 4 gig RAM, 128 gig SSD model. I decided on the Air, even though it’s a little lower powered compared to the Pros, because it’s small enough to travel with on the motorcycle. My current travel computer has been a Acer Aspire One netbook, and while it’s been ok in that role, having a full featured Mac would be a lot better.
It came in this evening, and once I finished my homework I got started unboxing it and getting it set up. It really is small, but it feels a lot more solid than the netbook. I got the basics done this evening, OS configured, browser and mail clients set up, and MS Office installed. One thing I can say is that even though it’s got relatively low clock speed processor, it does not feel sluggish. I’m attributing a lot of that to the SSD, but even at that low of a clock rate the Core i5 processor is still plenty powerful enough for everything I’ve thrown at it so far.
Heather and I hopped on the bike and braved the winds to enjoy the first decent weather all summer and check out a restaurant we found out about over in Decatur. Sweetie Pie’s Ribeyes is brought to you by the same folks that are responsible for Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, only this time they’re concentrating on beef. The food was really good, and we even saved room for dessert. She had red velvet cake, which passed muster, while I enjoyed a really good slice of pecan pie. After stuffing ourselves, we walked around the square and then got back on the bike for the ride home. Other than the wind the entire afternoon was a heck of a lot of fun!
As part of the hardware refresh I’m working on, I’ve replaced the Mac Mini that I’ve been using with a custom built Sandy Bridge based box. The XBMC forums were a great source of information on what would work and what I needed. I had to change up their recommendations slightly because my receiver does not have HDMI ports, so bitstreaming audio was out. I saved some money because I already had a hard drive and a Blu-Ray drive, so that that into account if you’re pricing this out. The hardware arrived yesterday, and after I finished my school work I started assembling. It was all put together and ready for an OS install before I turned in. I finished it off this evening and got XBMC installed. The numbers are impressive. It’s quiet and powerful, with VC-1 Blu Ray rips playing without a problem. That was something the Mini struggled with because if its lack of hardware acceleration for anything except h.264. Now the Mini will get rebuilt and become my desktop/server, and an Air will be coming home to be the traveling machine.
Here’s the list of the hardware I used in the build:
- Apex MI-008 case
- Gigabyte GA-H67N-USB3-B3 H67 LGA1155 Mini-ITX motherboard
- 1 Corsair XMS3 4 GB PC3-10666 DIMM
- Pentium G840 CPU
- Sapphire Radeon HD 6450 1 GB fanless graphics card
- Lite-On Blu Ray drive
- 160 gig hard drive from an old, decommissioned server.