Monday, August 22, 2011

New Machine, At Long Last

The geriatric desktop, with various issues (failed onboard PATA ports, periodic lockups, failing DVD trays), is soon to be sent off to the recycler in the sky (Goodwill, actually).  While it felt blazing fast when I originally purchased it years ago, it's been too many years (2005 or 2006, probably).  It's a 2 GB single core AMD Athlon 64 3000 with a NVIDIA 6600 GT 128 MB.  It's slow enough that it really just sits underneath the desk, accessed via VNC now and then, feeding music to Sonos and serving as a file share.

The parts of its replacement came in today, ordered while we were still in the UK.  This new rig should remain usable for a while.  I expect I'll switch all of my Lightroom work over to it, along with my real work when I'm at home (meaning I'll probably be looking to set up some sort of simple syncing process between it and my work laptop, at least for a few directories).  The pieces:
  • Lian-Li PC-Z60.  This is a brand new case; pretty pricey, but very nice.
  • ASUS P8Z68-V PRO
  • Intel i7-2600K 3.4 GHz
  • Zalman CNPS9500 CPU cooler
  • Corsair Vengeance 16 GB
  • MSI GeForce GTX 560 Ti Twin Frozer II 1 GB.  Cheers for CUDA support in Lightroom and Photoshop.
  • OCZ Vertex 3 120 GB.  I realize there are plenty of issue reports with the new second generation SandForce hardware, but it seems to be much improved with recent firmware..and should be tied up while I have this.  The worry did drive me to the cheaper (albeit slower; half the channels) 120 GB version instead of the 240.
  • Seagate Barracuda XT 3 TB
  • LG Black Super Multi SATA Blu-Ray Burner
  • Seasonic 560KM 80Plus Gold power supply
  • Windows 7 Professional 64
I finished putting it all together since typing the above.  It's speedy!  The new case is definitely a cut above the Antec Sonata used in the old system; much easier to work on, much lighter (aluminum versus steel), and with better (versus nonexistent) cable management.  The Seasonic power supply packaging was hilarious: the unit itself was inside of a velvet bag, sort of like a Crown Royal bottle!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


We drove from the Lake District to Edinburgh on Sunday afternoon and evening, getting here in time for dinner.  After spending two full days here, I've taken more pictures than Jen cares to see.  We've had a great last few days, and managed to avoid the rain until today.  We fly home (TDI-LHR-JFK-AUS) early tomorrow morning, getting back to Austin on Wednesday evening.
Drive into Edinburgh... we even drove through MIDLOTHIAN, Scotland!

 He even has a special camera sticker if you look closely. Love him.

 The most awesome hotel room everrr!

 We decided to get the audio tour for the Edinburgh Castle and it was worth it.

 British flag flying over the castle.

 We didn't know at the time, but this is apparently the Sir Walter Scott Monument (thanks to Jenna Anderson).

 View from a 147-step hike behind the hotel.

 A city monument, built and unfinished in late 1800s due to lack of funding.


Beautiful Edinburgh.

Lake District

Jen here! After Bath, we drove about 4 hours northwest to the Lake District, a national park area with a few very picturesque lakes.  The roads were so narrow and lined with ancient stone walls -- we also we rented the biggest car in England -- so parts of the drive were a bit scary.  Corbett did a great job though, and only slipped over to the wrong side of the road a few times.  We stayed in a B&B in Barrow-in-Furness, leaving from there to ride an old steam train and take a cruise on Lake Windermere.

 Hotel in Barrow-in-Furness (There were 2 weddings being held there, so we had good people watching.)

 A mini-hike behind our hotel took us to ruins of an old church. This is the entry way.

 This is the ruins of the church. They think it was built sometime in the 11th century and it's been in ruins since the 15th century.  Pretty old.

 Our train to the port.

 Our ship over to Bowness, a cute little shopping tourist town. (I fell asleep on this 50 minute boat ride (anyone surprised?) and woke up to Corbett missing and a group of Asians sitting at my table staring at me.)

 There were lots of people sailing on this beautiful lake.

 A more panoramic view.

 Intersection in Bowness.

Many amazing houses and hotels along the coast.

Corbett in his happy place eating gingerbread. It had actual chunks of ginger in it. Delish.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


For the third day, we took a train (~1.5 hours) over to Bath and picked up the rental car.  We immediately drove to Stonehenge to check it out, and returned to Bath afterward to check into the hotel.  We went into town and had a fabulous Thai dinner right near the Royal Theatre and a slew of drinks afterward.  This morning, we spent a bit more time in Bath before starting the long drive (~4 hours) up to Barrow-in-Furness in the early afternoon.


The hotel in Bath.  Awesome grounds and gardens. 

The Holborne Museum down the street from the hotel. 

View of Bath across the water.  Bath Abbey in the center distance. 

Where to go next in Bath? 

 Cool pub where we had a few drinks.

 Park in Bath near Bath Abbey.

Inside of Bath Abbey.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


We leave tomorrow by train to Bath, where we'll pick up a car and double back to Stonehenge.  We'll stay the night in Bath before heading up to Barrow-in-furness in the Lake District.  The Langham here in London was great!

Superman was here

At a pub

At the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Natural History Museum

Outside/right after The Eye, with Parliament in the background

The entrance to Westminster Abbey

The obligatory guard photo outside Buckingham Palace

St. James Park, across from Buckingham

Tower Bridge