Author Archives: alexgant

Random drive spinning with LaCie 2big Quadra

As I’m a geek, I take great pride in my home server – a 2012 Mac Mini. As I was fortunate enough to have built my own house, during the pre-build stage I painstakingly planned out my Cat6 cabling and had everything meet up in a dedicated ‘comms’ area. Over the last couple of years I’ve been gradually adding, tweaking and improving the comms area which now has a 5U cabinet containing the Mac Mini, a Draytek Vigor modem, Apple Airport Extreme base station and a 16 port switch.

The server itself is mainly used for file sharing and as a media server but the Mini’s achilles heel is it’s lack of internal storage. Although I’ve installed two WD Blue 1TB drives, one acts as a mirror of the other so I only have 1TB of storage.

Enter the LaCie 2big Quadra with it’s two 3TB drives arranged as a RAID 1 array. read more »

Serious Workstation

I’ve recently been putting the finishing touches to my home work station. As my working week is split between an office in Norwich and my ‘Den’ at home, my work station needs to be flexible enough to allow me to move between these locations quickly, easily and effectively. A laptop is central to this as, by default, it allows me to take my files, my work and my life with me. I’ve used Apple laptops for over a decade now and currently use a late 2011 15″ MacBook Pro with a quad core 2.4ghz i7 processor. Initially, I was pretty disappointed with this machine. It came with OS X 10.7 ‘Lion’ installed but this was quickly upgraded to 10.8 ‘Mountain Lion’ which, at the time had just been released. Mountain Lion seemed to chug along painfully slowly and made the experience of using the MacBook feel a bit like a £1400 downgrade! read more »

MK Twelve at 12

Staggeringly, the Kansas-based design and film-making company MK Twelve have just turned 12 years old. I’ve been an avid admirer of their work for each of those years with each new show reel moving the mark even higher for motion graphic artists and videographers. Their work is as breath-taking as it is innovative and has been a constant source of inspiration over the years. read more »

Binary Sunsets

I was intrigued by a tweet from Simon Pegg this week that mentioned the Despecialized edition of Star Wars that a fan calling himself Harmy had created. This edit of the film aims to restore Star Wars as closely as possible to the movie that originally hit cinema screens in 1977 devoid of the CGI tweaks and re-edits from the 1997 Special Edition and 2004 DVD remaster.  read more »

File Extensions

Is it just me or does Apple’s iWork apps play silly beggars with file extensions? Whenever you save a document in Pages, Keynote or Numbers, the ‘Save’ dialog box features a checkbox that allows you to ‘Hide extension’. Self explanatory and typical enough of Apple’s usual easy-to-use, easy-to-understand approach. However, this option seems to be an absolute law unto itself. I never check this box as it’s always been my preference to leave extensions switched on so that you can instantly see what type of file you are looking at. However, with the iWork apps file extensions seem to disappear even when you leave this option unchecked. It’s (seemingly) totally random too (believe me I’ve tried lots of tests) and I haven’t been able to find any information about it on Apple’s support forums.

Irritating at this is, it’s still preferable to Window’s nightmarish handling of file extensions with the display options squirreled away amongst a myriad of other ambiguous settings. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the comparison below!

Some thoughts on Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’

Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s ‘is it’ / ‘isn’t it’ prequel to Alien has been on my radar for about 18 months now. So when a rare opportunity arrived to escape from parenting a 10 week old child, I hooked off to see it with a sci-fi pal.

I’m a huge fan of the original Alien film and although Alien 3 was fairly passable and destroyed James Cameron’s wonderful sequel to the original film within the first 5 minutes, I kept going back for more. That said, I do wish I hadn’t as Alien Resurrection and the Alien vs Predator films have been thoroughly abysmal and, like George Lucas’ dire Star Wars prequels have somewhat tinged their classic originals. However, with Ridley Scott returning to the director’s chair and the premise that this new film was more about the original Space Jockey alien and not the chest-busting Xenomorph, Prometheus promised a lot.

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Setting up a WordPress 3 Network (nee Multisite) on MAMP

I happened upon an interesting problem today whilst setting up WordPress 3.3.2 on MAMP. Essentially WordPress plays nicely with MAMP so long as you don’t want to switch on the Network feature that has been rolled in to the WordPress core since version 3.0 (it was previously available as WordPress MU (Multi User).

The problem is a result of WordPress Network’s inability to handle a host name with a specified port number. By default, MAMP uses port 8888 and 8889 for Apache and MySQL respectively, resulting in the host name http://localhost:8888 which WordPress Network won’t accept (the setup discussed here fails when using a host name that has a port number appended to it). However, with a few simple config changes to MAMP and and some very minor tinkering on the command line, you can overcome this problem.

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Photoretouche Mirror

I was drawn to this very clever mirror design via a recent post on Gizmodo. A great, if somewhat impractical idea for a novel bathroom mirror. Indeed the accuracy of the reproduction of Photoshop’s common tools and palettes means that any imagery of the mirror can’t help but look like screenshots of Photoshop!

The mirror measures just 43cm by 32cm which again reinforces that this is definitely more of a novelty than a useful piece of bathroom furniture. Nevertheless, a great piece of design and definitely a conversation starter. The manufacturers website doesn’t state whether the Clone and Heal tools actually work but at just €65, probably best to assume that they don’t!

Ricky Gervais returns to our screens with ‘Derek’

Derek - the latest TV offering from Ricky Gervais

Last night, Channel 4 aired ‘Derek’, Ricky Gervais’ latest comedy offering. Advertised as a comedy drama, Derek returns Gervais to the mockumentary genre that he (and frequent writing partner Stephen Merchant) redefined with The Office in 2001. Unlike that earlier work however, Derek seems to concentrate more on the drama and less on the comedy. Indeed it was actually Gervais long-time friend and comedy gimp Karl Pilkington that provided the majority of the laughs here leaving Ricky to concentrate on acting out his role as Derek Noakes the 49 year old retirement home worker with learning difficulties. A tricky role for even the most established acting talent to approach but even more so for a man who’s career, to date, has been defined by making us laugh.

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