Thursday, May 17, 2012

Yaesu, SGI, and the Indy 500...index that, Google.

Blogger has a new interface and I'm not sure how much I like it. It's been the obligatory long amount of time between posts, so here's a new one.

This week I purchased a Yaesu FT-817ND portable HF radio. What's that? It's a battery powered amateur radio that works on the world bands. I've wanted for a while and it didn't make sense to me to buy one in Hawaii because the radio is limited to 5 watts of output power. It takes significantly more than that on an average day to reach past Hawaii if you live there. I've got the radio on my desk here and have been playing around with different bands trying to get used to its interface. So far I like it. The radio is designed for portable use. So much so they call it the backpacker radio. For me, I'll probably carry it on to the back porch, to parks, and on trips.

In computer news, I purchased an SGI O2 on eBay. I feel mentioning it on a blog is fitting given the age of the system and the decrease in blog popularity. Maybe I'll turn this blog in to stories about using the O2. I had an O2 about 12 years ago and over time a number of other SGI systems (several Indy workstations, an Octane, a Crimson, others). That was the phase where I was interested in learning about other computing platforms. I always found SGI systems nice and fun. IRIX may leave a bit to be desired, but it does work. The system I have has the 200Mhz variety of the R5000 MIPS processor. It does have 1MB of secondary cache, which seems to help quite a bit. The O2 that I had 12 years ago was a 180Mhz R5000 and it had no secondary cache (I think, maybe 512K) and it was significantly slower than the one I have now. I have 256M of memory and a 36G disk. Also the A/V board, O2 camera, and a very well maintained case. The system requires a PS/2 keyboard to boot, though you can disable that requirement after setting up the system. Since I want to use it as a workstation, I needed a PS/2 keyboard. A USB to PS/2 adapter will not work here and the O2 will appear to hang on boot. Fear not, the system is just expecting a real PS/2 keyboard. eBay to the rescue again. I was able to buy an unused SGI keyboard (same model that shipped with the O2 systems originally) for $15, only it is a German layout model. No problem, I can touch type.

Lastly, at the end of this month I will be taking my parents to the Indianapolis 500. My dad has never been and has always wanted to go. We have tickets and are going to brave the sun for our chance to see cars going really fast. Taking my fast lenses along with industrial grade ear plugs and sunscreen. Pictures after the trip.