36th Annual Palmetto Amateur Golf Tournament TV Commercial.

Posted by Paul Farrow - Under: Personal

One of my experiences here in the USA has been to be a voice over for a set of TV commercials. My friend from church Tom Kotti asked me if I was willing to use my English accent and be the voice over for a TV commercial he was making. I was game, so I said “yes sure”. The TV commercials were for the 36th annual Palmetto golf tournament at the Palmetto Golf Club which has been established in Aiken since 1892. Here is one of the commercials.

I enjoyed the experience immensely and if any one wants to use my voice again please contact me via this blog.

BackupPC Has qw(…) Warnings Since Upgrading Perl

Posted by Paul Farrow - Under: Linux, Software

So since upgrading Perl I am presented with qw warnings coming out of the cron job checking that BackupPC is running.

Use of qw(...) as parentheses is deprecated at /usr/share/BackupPC/lib/BackupPC/Storage/Text.pm line 301.
Use of qw(...) as parentheses is deprecated at /usr/share/BackupPC/lib/BackupPC/Lib.pm line 1412.

The way to get rid of these warnings is to enclose qw in parentheses and Perl processes the foreach parameters without warnings.

Like so

Text.pm (Line 301)

#
# Promote BackupFilesOnly and BackupFilesExclude to hashes
#
foreach my $param (qw(BackupFilesOnly BackupFilesExclude)) {
next if ( !defined($conf->{$param}) || ref($conf->{$param}) eq "HASH" );
$conf->{$param} = [ $conf->{$param} ]
if ( ref($conf->{$param}) ne "ARRAY" );
$conf->{$param} = { "*" => $conf->{$param} };
}

Lib.pm (Line 1412)

foreach my $param (qw(BackupFilesOnly BackupFilesExclude)) {
next if ( !defined($conf->{$param}) );
if ( ref($conf->{$param}) eq "HASH" ) {

Vallarta Mexican Restaurant, Washington Road, Augusta, GA

Posted by Paul Farrow - Under: Personal

One of my work colleagues put me onto this place, Vallarta Mexican Restaurant, Washington Road, Augusta, GA. It serves what I thought was excellent Mexican food and I liked the place very much. So much my wife and I made it a regular visit every week, as we loved the Patron chicken salad which is on special for lunch on Tuesdays.  We have been going there every week for about a year when this week (Tuesday 24th January, 2012) we ordered two Patron salads and the meals arrived. I tucked into mine and commented that it tasted slightly different. My wife told me that it was me, it was fine as always. Then about ten minutes into the meal my wife spat out some chicken stating it was rotten. On closer inspection it smelt like the worst trash can you had smelt. The chicken was clearly rotten. I was nearly sick when I smelt it.

We got the waiters attention and he got the manager. The manager looked at us like we were mental and didn’t really say anything about it. We paid for our drinks and left. It was one of the most disgusting things that I have experienced in my life, it has really put me off going back there.

CryoDefense

Posted by Paul Farrow - Under: Software, Windows Mobile

Just like to give out a shout to a young man Neil Bostrom who I had the pleasure of working with at Standard Life Healthcare.  It seems in the last year he has not only launched a company TreeHouse Development but a new game for the Microsoft Windows 7 Phone platform and its called CryoDefense.

CryoDefense Logo

The Official Royal Wedding Photographs

Posted by Paul Farrow - Under: Personal

Congratulations to the newly weds, Olivia and I were up at 5.45am watching it all happening. So glad it went well.

Good luck from the ex-pat in sunny Augusta, Georgia, USA.

End Of An Era

Posted by Paul Farrow - Under: Personal

Back in May of 1994 I opened my company Farrow Computing Limited when I was a mere boy.  I never thought I would be as successful as I was with it.  But finally because of my emigration to the USA, it was closed at the end of March 2010, sixteen years of running my own business.

Looking back there were plenty of times of “what if I cant get work..”  “What if I mess something up”, but looking back it really did go well.  Enjoyed most of it.

Truly the end of an era.

A New Year And A New Country

Posted by Paul Farrow - Under: Personal
Well its been a year since I posted last. My last post indicated that I was emigrating to the USA. Well a lot has happened in that year. I have moved lock stock and barrel to South Carolina, USA.  I have to thank a lot of people and give them shouts for how they helped me out. 

  • I packed up my house with the lots of help from my mum and dad, big thanks goes to them.
  • I moved my stuff  using Robinsons International they were excellent the only gripe I had if any was that one of the guys had labeled one item on the inventory as in bad condition but he hadn’t told me about it.
  • For renting purposes I had an energy survey from Glen Waldren of Waldren Home Inspection Services who was absolutely fantastic and excellent value.  Totally recommend him.
  • My good friend Richard who did all the appliance checking, excellent job.  He can be found here at www.pat-test.me.uk.
  • I would like to mention another good friend of mine Jimmy Osbourne (AKA Jim the Plumber) who got my waste disposal going.
  • Would also like to thank Buff for putting up with my moods when at times things didn’t go too well.

After the 3 hours of visa processing through Atlanta airport I was met by a great welcome reception.  Thanks go to the Barlows for being there with Buff at the airport.  Just look at what I was met by.

DSCF2459 by paulfarrow
DSCF2459 a photo by paulfarrow on Flickr.

 

Zotac ION-ITX-F Wi-Fi Dual Core 1.6GHz Atom N330 Mini-ITX Motherboard with PCI Express x16 With Windows 7 Home Premium

Posted by Paul Farrow - Under: Hardware, Microsoft Windows, Mini-ITX, Windows 7


Zotac ION-ITX-F

Originally uploaded by paulfarrow

After putting a power meter on my home entertainment system realised that my equipment was using a lot of power 350 watts at peak. So thought I would do some investigation into a recent low power mini-itx board from Zotac. I chose this one because it was dual core and it has a pci-express card on it which is good for a cable tuner I am looking at to use in it for when I am in the USA.

Ordered the board from mini-itx.com as they are the only people I could find doing this board. It came and everything looked fine except that the fan isnt fitted and there are no holes for it on the cpu heat sink. After talking with mini-itx they told me to screw it to the heatsink even though it doesnt have any predetermined holes. I also noticed that the manuals that came with it – the quick installation and the main manual werent for this board. Which was a great start.


Zotac ION-ITX-F

Originally uploaded by paulfarrow

I had already converted my old system from Vista to Windows 7. I then put the new Atom board into my case and started it up. Immediately I was getting checksum errors and just stalled. I was like oh dear must be memory related so twiddled about a bit with the memory until I found the culprit. From going from 1 board to the other, one stick of my 2Gb DDR2 had decided to die.

Not a real problem as really 2Gb of memory should be ok for what that board needs to do. So once over that everything came up fine. I use this as my media center so mainly playing music and watching tv (SD & HD blu-ray).

Initial reaction was that its great. So lets put it through its paces, watching blu-ray with fast moving action – didnt phase it at all everything was running fine at 17% cpu and wattage was about 270 watts so it was already saving me about 70 watts of power. I then decided to get it to record two tv stations and watch a recorded program at the same time.

It did this as well although cpu was about going from about 50 to 75%. And when navigating through the menu it was a bit sluggish although livable. All in all it is great because it will save me money and the Windows 7 media center is a little better than the old Vista one.

FURTHER UPDATE:  having recently bought UP on blu-ray I have noticed something that is important for this board.  Some of the later blu-ray’s are recorded in MPEG4 – I have tested UP and The Taking Of Pelham 123, they are both recorded in MPEG4 unlike I Am Legend which is VC1.

MPEG4 is currently running at around 47% cpu usage which is fine on its own but if (like I was at the time of trying to play UP) you are recording tv at the same time its just a bit too much for the little NVIDIA ION board which then runs at 100% and frames and audio drop on the play back of the blu-ray movie.  Its a shame because its a great board and just what I want when the machine is on all the time but its a trade off between performance and cost of running the equipment.

Overall I am still impressed even though there are these obvious trade offs.

#Rackmax #SATA Enclosure With A Silicon Image SiI3114 PCI SATA Raid Card

Posted by Paul Farrow - Under: Hardware, Linux, Mini-ITX

Last week I bought a Rackmax 4 x 3.5 Sata Enclosure from Linitx.  It has four drives but fits inside 3 x 5.25 external slots.  Initial inspection was that its well made and rugged.  Only niggle I had was that the two power molex sockets on the back are quite close together and because of this you cant use sata to molex power converters in it or not the ones I have cause the sata moulding touches and pushes the plug out of the socket.

There were no other problems, I housed it in an Antec mini tower just fine.  Kept the fan on the back which is a little noisy but not too bad, it seems noisy because the motherboard is fanless and the Antec case has a 120 mm fan which together is basically silent and this fan is the only thing in the tower making any noise.  Now I put disks a couple of old 250Gb Samsung Spinpoint SATA II drives in it which just happened to be laying around in my office and bought a couple of 1TB Samsung Spintpoint SATA II drives from Ebuyer.  Mounted the drives and put them in the Rackmax enclosure.  Powered it up and all the lights came on and went off but one of the drives in the Rackmax enclosure had a solid yellow light on which I think signals a problem.  I swapped them around and another light came on a different drive !!! wierd so I just put it down to the fact that the enclosure wasnt configured properly yet with the motherboard.

Ok so while I bought the terabyte drives I also bought a 4 port sata raid card from Linitx, it was only a cheapy and just thought its bound to be fine with Linux.  Linitx are a very reputable dealer who specialise in small form factor motherboards and embedded systems.  So got it slotted into my fanless VIA EK8000 board and plugged the drives up.  Powered it up and it just halts on when it is declaring what SATA drives it has on itself.  MMM I thought to myself wonder if its all SATA drives or what?!  So I unplugged the drives and powered it up and went through no problem.  So then I thought perhaps its a size thing so just plugged up one of the 250Gb drives and powered it up.  The system booted fine.  So tried again with the terabyte drive and low and behold it just halts before it even gets to the Linux boot up.  Ok so looked up the model of SATA card I have and it is the Silicon Image Sil3114 PCI SATA Raid Card.

Now some people on the web are saying it is because it cant negotiate the lower 1.5Gbps speed with the SATA II drives and to set your drives to the lower speed.  So thought ok that sounds feasible and set about lowering the speed from SATA II to SATA I on my Samsung drives.  Now Samsung have a utility that does this for you.  Downloaded it off their website and tried it.  The ramdrive they have wont load on anything other than a proper Intel processor.  It wouldnt load on my VIA C7 board or my Atom board.  Therefore I had to break apart my desktop just to be able to flash the drives – it was a real ROYAL pain.  Did all that put my desktop back together and still had a problem arrrhghghghghghg.  Ok so now I thought it has to be a BIOS problem on the SATA Raid card.  Low and behold the BIOS on the card was at 5.0.37 and the latest update was at 5.4 something.  Gosh that was like 4 years out of date !!!  So now did I have to break open my desktop just to flash the BIOS.  No after reading up on the flash utility etc I realised that it can be flashed in windows from the device manager.  So opened my Atom machine running Windows 7 (purely because it has an easy access case) and put the card in there.  I then downloaded the latest drivers for the card via Windows Update and went into the device manager and right clicked on the device and there is a tab called flash bios.  Clicked there browsed to the image and flashed it.  Couldnt have been simpler.   I took the binary prefixed with the letter R.

Threw the card back into the VIA board booted with the terabyte drives in it and it came up fine.  Just wish I had done that first rather than thinking it was because my drives needed to be downgraded.

And its all running very smoothly now.

Everyone Is Looking For A White Mini Cooper S

Posted by Paul Farrow - Under: Personal

I noticed in my stats that everyone is coming to my blog from search engines looking for white Mini Cooper S’s and I realised that I dont actually have a picture of mine from the front. So here it is on the day I bought it waiting to be driven by myself. Shame I sold it back last year. Any way here it is in all its glory …..

White Mini Cooper S - HV57UOA

Drove it many times to France and once to Madrid. It was great fun, nearly as great as my GSX-R 750. Wonder where it is now??? Registration was HV57UOA – post here if you have seen it.

If your looking for more photos or stories about it try clicking the mini tag in my tag cloud.