To Fabricate or not to Fabricate…

Well, this is probably the easiest decision I’ll need to make. Given that the car is parked on the road every once in awhile, I quickly came to the conclusion that a ‘removable’ installation is just going to ask for trouble so, it’s an in-dash install – and with that, it’ll need to ‘look factory’ which means fabrication, which means I won’t be doing it.

The reasons I’ve opted to not do the fabrication myself:

  • I’ve no prior experience in fabricating stuff
  • I’d need to buy all the tools and materials
  • It’d take a fair amount to research time to decide what needed doing and how to do it
  • All in all, it’s more efficient in terms of time, money and finished look to let the professionals do the fabrication.

So, armed with the images below, I headed to a local car stereo installers for a quote – “About NZ$200 mate”, fairly reasonable I thought…

Center Console Proposed Dash Layout

So the theory will be, the ashtray and cigarette lighter will be replaced with a fabricated slot which will hold my existing head unit which is currently sitting in a box ex-my old car, people who are not familiar with the Carputer will then be able to use this to listen to stuff as they drive. The carputer will be connected via the CD stacker input and be controlled via the touch screen which replaced the current 2x 1-DIN crappy units which came with the car.

Next Step: Plan the layout of the devices and what plugs in to what (and where) – I need to have the setup all running and ready to install with a very simple interface, just in case the installers find it easier to fabricate and connect everything in the one go. Some things for me to consider:

  • Power layouts
  • Power screen directly or off the Carputer?
  • Use the ‘auto on’ function of the Lilliput (and where was that link I read detailing this?)
  • Remote switch to allow the Carputer to be isolated/turned on independantly of the ACC switch?

It’s time to head to the forums once again…

Migrating my Mail

I’ve been running a mail server in-house (home) for the last 4 or so years. Initially I had previously tried a few different Linux distros, mainly because the hardware I was running the mail server on was a little… underpowered (Tecra 8000 Celeron with 64MB ram). But also because I wanted some geek-cred points in being able to run my own Linux based mail server.
Anyway – I kind of had things working under Linux but then figured that since there would be waaay more people out there who knew a lot more about *nix and mail servers than I did, the possibility of getting my machine turned into a remote mailbot to serve some evil spamming purpose was kinda high, so back to the safety familiarity of a windows based mail platform.

Through a recommendation of a colleague at work, I looked at and finally settled on a product called 602LAN Suite which, provided a free 5 user, personal use version which was easy to setup and administer, integrated well with another freeware product for Anti-virus scanning and all and all allowed me to do what I wanted, have a catch all address hosted offsite, which I could then go pickup my incoming mail and sort/distribute the incoming messages to their relevant recipients.

Unfortunately for me, the product enjoyed a lot of success over the years that I used it to the point that the developers could no longer support a free licence community and sent out a, kind of terse (I thought) message back on the 13th of March which read as follows:

Subject: 602LAN SUITE freeware has been discontinued

Hello Rob,

Effective immediately, distribution, registration and support of 602LAN SUITE freeware has ended. You will NOT be able to re-register your server software in the future unless you upgrade to the commercial version.

You can read the press release if you’re interested here.

So, anyway – I’m always looking to reduce my operational costs of being a geek (as I foolishly continue to believe that it will afford me more CAPEX budget with which I will be able to upgrade my gear/buy new gadgets). The end-of-life of the 602 Freeware platform was a catalyst to transfer my personal domain over to my web hosting company ‘Dreamhost’ who offer email services, however, in discussions with another colleague who’s done similar things on a number of his domains, he suggested that I give Google Apps a try – and a brilliant idea it was!!

Starting a Second Life

Eeesh – I signed up for a ‘Second Life’ account today – I’m not convinced about how much time I’ll spend on it, given the time investment I’m already giving the World of Warcraft (Ding L65 today!).

Anyway, it fits in nicely with the social networking research that I’m doing at work so – we’ll see how it goes.

The registration isn’t too hard, a 30Mb download for the client and we should be underway… of course, I’m just going to have time to do the client download and no time for the initial ‘orientation’ as work is getting in the way so /sigh… meh.

Second Life Error Message
PMSL – What a great start! At work I’m running Vista on a fairly grunty box attached to our lab network, yet this is my first experience of Second Life… for the record, my graphics card on this PC is an NVIDIA GeForce 6800 series, so it’s no small fry!

Checking out the support section of the website, I’m told (in bold no less) that “Second Life does NOT currently support Windows Vista” so, I guess that is that… You’d think that with a Beta programme as long as Vistas was, their developers whould have ensured that their product would work once the new Operating System was released!

One of my collegues is currently on the phone to our Corporate Hellpdesk to see if they will allow us to install on our corporate machines (instead of the Lab) – we figure we may have a chance given that there’s a few corporates out there already out there who are getting into the virtual world… </holding breath>

Update: 14:29

Potentially – the latest drivers for Vista might fix the problem, so 67Mb is coming down the pipe… 100Mb to view a virtual world.

Update: 14:50

Right – the updated drivers appear to work and I’m currently working through the training in how to use the world. First impressions, I’m somewhat underwhelmed – the graphics seem blocky and basic, the lag is definatly noticible, the learning curve for anything over and above moving and simple chat is steep and the requirement to interact is… well, limited – perhaps it’ll grow on me, but I’m certainly not planning to rush back to SL to meet up with my new friends…