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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Samsung SyncMaster 2233sw mini Review

This line of monitors was released just over a month ago in Japan. However, I bought one today at my local Sam's Club. I'll say up front that I am not a graphics artist or professional video editor although I do a bit of amateur video editing.

The monitor does require a little assembly. See photo 1 below. The stand and base have to be screwed together. Fortunately this is designed so that you can tighten it by hand without need of a screwdriver. But you can use a screwdriver if assembling a large number of monitors.
Once the little stand is built you have to press it into a rubber-lined pocket on the bottom of the display, with the arrow symbol facing out as you look at the display. I mention these steps because it isn't in the directions, though simple to figure out.

The picture below gives a reference on size of this "22 inch class" (21.5 inch) monitor. The smaller monitor is a 15-inch model that is similar in size to what comes on most PC notebooks.

I am happy with the Samsung. I have no dead pixels, and it works with the Mac Mini wonderfully. I did not even have to restart the Mac. The 2233sw came with a DVI cable (and VGA cable) that I plugged into the Mac and by the time I turned on the Samsung and the screen had come on, the Mac had readjusted the display settings and I had a glorious new and WIDE desktop. My only minor complaint is because of the curved case there is no place to set my old iSight camera. You can see from the picture below that it was bright enough out of the box to cause my camera's auto setting to decide it didn't need a flash in my dark cave of a room.

I recommend using the Calibrate function of the Mac OS displays setting to tune the monitor. (All of the settings on the monitor are disabled when the DVI input is used.)

Also this is the first monitor in this class I have seen with true 1080P display. Most of the others are 1440x900 or 1680x1050. This one is a full 1920x1080, which makes me feel that for $200 its a steal or a sign we will be seeing much better monitors at reasonable price points in the near future.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Cheap Solar Reflectors

Yet another interesting article in the November 17th issues of Forbes. This one on an innovative idea to use ballons as solar collectors. The company behind this technology is Cool Earth Solar.

The idea seems very cool, and if they hit their target cost per watt then it could be a solar power break through. There isn't a mention of the cost of the balloon system. One concern from the description is the complexity of the balloons, with water cooling and a system to modulate internal pressure as needed. An interesting question is would less complex balloons that are as efficient at the square cm of solar cell level, be more efficient at the price per watt level? One would expect they started there, if not someone will hopefully following in their footsteps.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Using cronolog with mod_jk

The trick to rotating mod_jk logs using cronolog is an old unix file system feature called a named pipe.

Create a pipe in a good location.
> mkfifo mod_jk.pipe

Specify this pipe as log location using JkLogFile directive.
JkLogFile path-to/mod_jk.pipe

The next part is tricky. You have to get cronolog to read from the pipe and the timing can be a challenge. Each side will block until something is both writing and reading from the pipe. So you need cronolog reading from the pipe before you start apache.

Interestingly, on my latest project mod_jk did something at start up that caused cronolog to exit as soon as apache started. To get things to work I had to start cronolog after apache. The solution was to have the following steps in the apache start up script.

1. Start cronolog
2. Start apache
3. Start cronolog again.

Using the file name examples above, starting cronolog looks like this:
cronolog path-to/mod_jk.log < path-to/mod_jk.pipe


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