Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Building a New Computer

I'm in the process of upgrading my computer from a crappy old laptop to a new computer that I'm building myself on a budget. Sometimes when you start building you're completely in the dark so here's the first steps you need to build a computer.

Step 1.

Decide on the purpose of your machine. This is to govern what types of parts you need. If you want to run a tri-screen gaming setup you'll want a more powerful video card than someone who wants to use their computer as a server.

Step 2.

Set a budget. This means that you won't be spending too much and will feel like you've got great bang for your buck at the end of your project.

Step 3. 

Create a parts list adhering to this budget. If you have no idea where to start, find a friend who does or check out some forums such as Whirlpool and Tom's Hardware. Here there are people who will be happy to give you advice.

Step 4. 

Research these parts and find the cheapest prices. A price comparison service like StaticIce (which compares tech prices, and has localised websites for the US, Australia, UK and New Zealand) will help you get the most bang out of your buck.

Step 5. 

With these prices from StaticIce, revise your list and if way under budget consider upgrading some of your parts.

Step 6.

Now time to build your machine. If you don't want to stuff up, get a friend to help you who has assembled before. I recommend that you don't get a store to do it for you as if it breaks down you won't know what to do. Assembling a computer is a highly educational experience.

And very broadly that's it. As simple as that.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Opinions on the Graffiti Crisis on Cityrail/Transport NSW.

Upon many of my daily railway commutes I get bored and look out of the window in an attempt to spot some of the good graffiti around the area. Some of the art is really interesting (I'm not talking about the tags here, just the murals and art) and quite aesthetically appealing.

However very recently I've noticed more and more people complain about the graffiti that's there. Really? I personally don't see any issue with it and it's not blocking any view (except that of the wall). I really don't get why people whinge about some of the best quality art in Sydney.

Graffiti on trains (often referred to as panels) themselves are also a nice way to spend the time watching trains come into Central Station while waiting for a train. An example of this is below.

Furthermore, the state government is spending tens of millions of dollars every year, source: http://www.crimeprevention.nsw.gov.au/cpd/protectcommunity/graffitivandalism.html to clean up this graffiti. In my opinion this is wasted money.

I totally understand that there is a large security risk with the vandals getting onto the tracks but Cityrail (or Transport NSW as they now like to be called) could turn this into a positive and find the ways that potential terror attacks could be plotted.

Basically what I'd like to see happen is Transport NSW allow "panelling" but impose stricter laws on tagging. This way the art-form survives but the vandalism doesn't.

Best Geocaching Applications for Android

I'm an active geocacher and often (increasing more and more) I'm without my GPS. It's always good to have a backup and with me I generally have my HTC Sensation in my pocket.

As the game expands more and more people are looking for a low cost alternative to an expensive handheld GPS so here's a list of all the apps I've tried (which will continue to be updated). For the sake of keeping a small list (and to make this as generalised as possible)I've excluded site specific ones unless they support gpx imports (bar geocaching.com live ones)

  1. c:geo

    It's hard to go past arguably the king of Android caching apps. Despite running against Groundspeak's TOS, c:geo is a great open source caching app. It's developers are constantly fixing issues (quicker than other apps since it's opensource) and they have a great support team. Apart from the live map c:geo offers advanced offline storage (very good when travelling to remote areas) and great logging capabilities including picture upload (however I am unable to comment on how reliable it is as I don't use it. Overall c:geo seems to be a popular choice by many and it's not hard to see why.
  2. Cachesense

    As with Neongeo I haven't had enough time to use this for a large amount of time but unlike Neongeo I'm quite impressed. The arguably best Blackberry caching app made its way to Android and has definitely made its impression. Its online capabilities are great and it offers Munzee support (a big pro in my opinion). Only downside off the app is that when importing a file for offline GPX usage, the loading dialog stays in the notification bar, even when I try to cancel it. I hope the developers can fix this and then I'll be using Cachesense a lot more.
  3. Neongeo

    I bought this a while back following recommendations from other cachers. I must say however, I'm kind of disappointed. I bought it hoping for it to be the last caching app I would buy but I'll say why I dislike it. I don't like the way to search for caches and it's offline capabilities are somewhat underwhelming. There is hope for this app though. Although I didn't use it, the Geocacher Live Tracking map is pretty cool (except that it recognises me as a separate cacher to myself). I also actually haven't used the app to it's full potential yet and will be trying it out more

    So that's it for the moment. Here are my top 3 geocaching applications on the Android operating system. I haven't had enough time to test every application on the Play Store so if you have a suggestion please leave it in the comments below and I'll review it in due time.