More PC stuff inbound

More hardware incoming! As the circumstances update, it’s looks likely it’ll be a little while longer before I’ll be able to dig through my main desktop for the planned upgrade process. Given that, I’ve decided to go a little further down the upgade path for my main desktop.

A moderately large Corsair order went in to my supplier of choice. First part is an Obsidian 750D Airflow case, with an HX1200i PSU to be installed. Then, there’s an H115i Pro to complete that Corsair package.

There’s availability √¨ssues with the HX1000i that I was hoping to get, so I went one step up in size as that was immediately available. There was an AX1000i but at ~400 odd it was not going to be enough of an improvement to justify that.

It turns out that this is the first time in about 18 years that I have a proper choice in choosing what case to get. The last case I bought separately was one of Chieftec Dragon miditower cases, door on the front, EL cable delineating the arches on the front fascia, heavily modded by myself, and I loved that case. Such a pity that PC was nicked from Elm Park.

The Corsair case appears to tick all of the boxes for me, and it’ll have enough space and slots inside for all of the hardware I want, without it being too big.

My primary desktop’s octa-core Xeon hardware as installed in the case is being farmed off to a friend who will be supplying their own HDD and graphics card, as they currently do not have access to a system capable of playing current games, so now that I have decided to build up my primary here it will be good for the older machine to give good use to someone that should enjoy it.

Quite interesting that (kinda accidentally) all of the hardware being sourced is either Asus/ROG or Corsair.

Note to Microsoft Accessories people:

If you lot ever engineer a direct replacement to the current Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, with properly backlit and transparent key letterings, you will have a definite winner on your hands.

My go-to preference for a keyboard is the above-mentioned Ergonomic 4000 and I’ve had the use of a few over the past few years. The feel and fit is pretty good for me, I really like the UK key layout as done on this keyboard. The only thing it’s missing is having the keys backlit or throughlit, to aid use in the dark. Backlighting to illuminate the gaps between the keys is something I can add myself with a handful of properly laid out EL-cable or LED strings, but it would be fantastic to be able to see the key assignments by through-illumination.

Bonus points available for RGB control – not for making it more flashy but for getting just the correct tone of deep and dim amber for comfortable night work. The lighting does not have to be bright – in fact dim is very much preferable.

What are the chances of getting this idea as a product we can pay for?

RGB, time to get on that bandwagon!

It would appear that the motherboard I’m getting (Asus ROG Strix X570-E Gaming) has an onboard RGB controller as one of the options built on. There’s two 4-pin RGB headers, and two 3-pin addressable headers. A quick look around the Alibaba showrooms, suggests there’s a reasonably large amount of products that are supported by the Asus Aura RGB ecosystem – the motherboard light accents, the tops of the Corsair Vengeance RAM modules, even the AMD-supplied fan on the Wraith Prism CPU cooler is RGB..

I’m fairly sure that I’ll set things to be temperature-controlled if I can. Gentle purple for normal conditions and a lurid red for the running hot.

I did request some LED addressable strips and some other lighting from the Chinese, and it’ll likely be in Limerick before I will be..

Kinda interesting this whole scenario, given I had built case mods with windows and UV-reactive items back in 2001 before it became popular. Nor I get to try and do a somewhat tasteful RGB implementation on this instance of my main desktop.

Behemoth update incoming..

I built myself a PC in 2011, and it’s finally due a major update/refresh. It’ll still be a bit of a behemoth..

The 2011 build was a hex-core Intel i7-3930k watercooled with a Corsair H100, 16Gb DDR3, with originally a Radeon 5770, with an Intel i520 SSD and 4x 1Tb harddrives for a Raid 10, all sitting on an Asus P9X79-Pro motherboard. A pretty decent spec of a machine, and a very good performer especially when overclocked.

Over the past 9 years I updated the graphics first to a GTX660 in 2012 and recently to an RTX2080. The CPU was swapped out for an E5-1680v2 Xeon. Storage was updated to 500Gb SSD, and to two 6Gb drives in raid1.

It’s become a good idea to future-proof this pc again, for the next few years at least. Incoming are the following:

  • AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, 12 core, 3.8-4.6 GHz clocks
  • Asus ROG Strix X570-E Gaming motherboard
  • 16Gb DDR4-3600 Corsair Vengeance RGB memory
  • 960Gb Corsair MP510 NVMe SSD.

Paired with my Zotac Maxx RTX2080 and the stack of storage, this beast of a desktop will continue to earn the Behemoth moniker. It’ll be a few weeks until the bits are installed and configured, but it’ll be a really fun time I think!

Coronavirus? My thoughts..

So Covid-19 had reared it’s little coronated head on the Island of Ireland. And the country is ill-prepared for the probability of what’s going to happen.

Here’s a middle of the road scenario based on the current data available. Cases appear to be doubling every ~6 days. 15% or so need hospital care, and about 5% of those needs ICU-level care. Deaths are averaging at about 3.5% at the moment.

Given there’s about 22 cases in Ireland (excluding the North for this one), we can expect the following:

  • March 9th; 22 cases,
  • March 15th; 44 cases,
  • March 21st; 88 cases ,
  • March 27th; 176 cases,
  • April 2nd; 352 cases, with ~50 hospitalisations and 12 deaths
  • April 8th; 704 cases,
  • April 14th; 1408 cases,
  • April 20th; 2816 cases,
  • April 26th; 5632 cases,
  • May 2nd; 11264 cases, with ~1600 hospitalisations and 400 deaths.
  • May 8th; 22528 cases,
  • May 14th; 45056 cases,
  • May 20th; 90112 cases,
  • May 26th; 180224 cases,
  • June 1st; 360448 cases,
  • June 7th; 720896 cases
  • June 13th; 1441792 cases
  • June 19th; 2883584 cases

That’s assuming current exponential growth. In reality the case increases should start to have less new cases by about the middle of May due to a self-limiting transmission (less uninfected people available) and a continuation slowly up to maybe 100 thousand cases by mid summer and maybe 1500 total deaths by then.

That’s a middle-of-the-road back-of-envelope calculation, but based on valid current numbers and trends. It really makes for sobering reading.

The elderly are more heavily affected by this disease, with a 5% chance of death in the over 60s and a 15% chance of death in the over 80s. For healthy adults below 40 the rate is currently 0.1% chance of death which is x10 times the standard winter flu (even including the flu shot for the winter flu).

What we should do individually is to limit our social contacts, minimising contact with people, minimising our own exposure to infection by practicing simple good personal hygiene, minimising touching our faces with our hands without disinfection. We should also limit the exposure to the elderly from children, who appear to be able to transmit the virus without appearing symptomatic ourselves.

The authorities should start the minimising of travel, both internationally and nationally. Sporting fixtures should be without the crowds of fans watching – if the fixtures go ahead at all. Pubs and nightclubs should close for the duration of this epidemic. Parades and marches should not be let go ahead. Public gatherings of more than 500 people should not be organised. If this is done, the rate of transmission will be lower, and the peak numbers at any one time of infected and treatment-seeking people will be lessened, hopefully to levels that our health system can cope with.

If we don’t take strong action in the very near future, we will have a proper national-level emergency to deal with, and a lot of our parents and grandparents will not live to see the next Christmas.

If you think I’m scaremongering or panic-inducing, please look at the north of Italy and see what’s happening there, and realise that there’s very little difference between there and here in our societal habits. A little fear is a good thing, if it can get people to think and to plan. Have a stock of medications to hand, and be prepared to stay at home for up to a few weeks. It’ll hurt, it’ll be terrible, but we should be able to weather this upcoming storm if we do that.

If you think that this is not much worse than the flu, there’s a doctor or two in the hospitals in Bergamo that would like to have a chat with you. Link here: (Google machine translation here)

How to do speed cameras correctly.

We are often told that speed cameras are a tool to improve road safety. However, the method of implementation does not fit that requirement.

To do speed cameras correctly and use them as a tool to improve road safety, there are a few prerequisites.

  1. The locations that are high-risk need to be correctly identified, ideally to within a 50m stretch of road. This would allow camera monitoring to happen at very specific areas that are known to be accident blackspots. This does not refer to 20km lengths of road – as currently used for criteria of camera location selection.
  2. The locations of cameras must be publicly and freely available, and kept up to date. The location database must be unrestricted in use so that satnav companies can use that data in their products – allowing advance warning of known dangerous areas. Mobile camera locations must be advertised either in the database or on a specific website a number of days in advance. The camera locations must also have their local speed limit associated with the camera being visible in the database.
  3. Permanently installed cameras and mobile camera vehicles must be highly visible, with fluorescent and retroreflective paint, visible to drivers before entering the monitored area. Cameras must *not* be hidden or camouflaged, either deliberately or accidentally
  4. Camera locations must be clearly signposted at the roadside in advance of the installed location, and the area of camera visibility should be easily visible on the road.
  5. Camera location warning signs must have the local speed limit listed on the sign.

Following these would mean that the brief of improving road safety via speed-sensitive camera monitoring would be clearly met.

For example, let’s take a hypothetical place. Let’s say there’s a 1km straight road (100km/h limit) with a road junction in the middle (80km/h limit for the 50m either side of the junction), that has seen a number of fatal collisions over the previous decade. The correct way to put a camera on this is to put a signpost 300m either side of the camera location saying “warning Camera Ahead – 80 km/h limit. The camera should be a bright rescue orange colour with retroreflective strips on the camera housing.

This would ensure that the posted speed limit at the junction would be advertised and observed by drivers, and drivers that are over the posted limit would be caught.

There’s absolutely no value in stating that speed cameras are to protect, when they are used mostly with ambush tactics. The cameras currently in use do not look onto the areas with the accidents, they appear to concentrate on the areas that are actually accident-free. The zones used to determine the dangerous areas cover such a long distance that they are meaningless for specific area protection.

Let’s call the current situation in Ireland as it is. The current implementation of speed cameras, with the private operator using non-reflectively-marked vans, parking on the edges of straight stretches of safe roads, not advertising the locations – this can only be described as a money-making measure as it *cannot* fulfill the brief of improving road safety.

As an aside, it’s a great indication of the sneaky ethos behind the current operator’s operation of the cameras, where the vans have a hatched decal applied to the van surface. This decal, while appearing similar to the reflective hatching applied to truck trailers, is muted in colour and utterly non-reflective. It appears to provide only lip-service to safety, and acts to better camouflage the vans when parked up. This can only undermine any public confidence in this implementation of the system.

Daylight savings – some thoughts.

One of the definitions of timezone being correct for a location, is that the average Sun is due south at local noon on the clock. This means that there’s about the same length of time from sunrise to 12:00, as there is the length of time between 12:00 and sunset.

In historical times, the local church would ring the bells based on the local time, such that at 12:00 the Sun would due south. Of course, due to different places being at different longitudes, the Sun would be due south at different absolute times. There’s 4 minutes difference for each degree of longitude difference in the timing of the Sun being due south.

This caused some problems when the railways allowed relatively fast travel east and west as each location had been operating on its own time. There were some issues with timetabling and advertising the arrival and departure timings of trains as a result of those differences. It was then decided that the railways would operate on a time frame that was consistent for the train company such that when the train company clock said it was 9:00 in Paris, it was also 9am in Brest. Previously it would have been 8.32 in Brest as it’s 7 degrees further west than Paris. Each location with a railway station then started to use the railway clock as their local standard, and the countries started to operate on a consistent time zone.

The advent of telegraphy and radio was another pressure on places to have a consistent time that was the same set of numbers on the clocks in each location. It became easier to have time signals that would allow easier synchronisation of clocks.

Then, in the 20th century, it was agreed to standardise timezones across the world, with Greenwich in London to be the zero point. As Greenwich was defined to be the zero meridian of longitude, this meant that there were 24 time zones of an hour difference around the world, each separated from the next by 15 degrees of longitude. Once passing 7.5 degrees east or west from the center line of a timezone, it was at that point that the next timezone was due to start.

Of course there were some political and social considerations in play now, as it was not really useful to have a country split into multiple timezones. Portions of Ireland are far enough west that they should be in the GMT-1 zone, but it was decided to put all of Ireland into the GMT zone. France and Germany decided to work in the GMT+1 zone, even though Paris is close to the center of the GMT zone.

That’s a little bit on the history of timezones.

The current status quo is that Ireland is set in the GMT timezone, and we change to GMT+1 from approximately Spring equinox to the Autumn equinox. This means that in Dublin on July 1st, the sun is due south at 13:30. In Killarney on the same day the sun is due south at 13.43.

There’s a decision that has been made to stop the annual change of the clocks for DST, and that change is to be welcomed. The change has been seen to cause health issues due to the enforced body clock changes with changes in sleep patterns, and there’s also a well-proven uptick in accidents also mainly due to the sleep pattern changes forced onto people around the clock change.

One argument that continually gets put out there for DST is that it’s safer for the children at school, that they travel when it’s brighter or get more time in the light after school. It would be a much better change to change the start time of school to suit, instead of forcing a clock change on everyone.

I would suggest that Ireland go to GMT ans stay on GMT year-round Any businesses that operate with European groups can change their start and end times to suit the Eurpean office timings, e.g. starting at 7am and finishing at 4pm. It would be the same effect on our bodies as if we were GMT+1 and working between 8 and 5 in that timezone. The agricultural sector follows the solar day anyway, so the listed numbers on the clock are of no relevance to a cow’s desired milking time.

To recap: Ireland should go to GMT, and stay on GMT. Schools should be able to change their start times to suit the light conditions, if the lighting conditions are considered to be a timing requirement. Business should have the office openings as appropriate for their business. Doing all of this ensures that our clocks are correct as per the Sun.

Zurich is lovely.

I hear Zurich is lovely this time of the year..

Also it’s apparently a lovely drive from Ireland via ferry to Fishguard and using the Eurotunnel onwards to the continent. I also hear that parking is fun in that city..

More to follow depending on updates.

Boeing proxy fails the sniff test..

Read this link first –

It’s a sane critique of a recent NY Times article that appears to be from Boeing PR by proxy: . To be honest, I would have expected better from the likes of the New York Times.

And Boeing wonder why the European flight authorities will not be certifying the 737 MAX until the Europeans have tested and certified under European testing – any FAA certification understandably won’t be transferred given the debacle.