Plugged-in coffee

I attached a mobile DVB-T television reveiver to the top of my coffee maker couple of days ago. The idea is that I need not switch on my big screen TV in the living room in order to see the morning news while getting my mocha. Nice, but there is no built-in antenna plug anywhere in our kitchen, and I had to “hide” a terrestial digital television antenna also to the coffee corner. Decorative mistake, I was told… (Maximum TV-710 CX receiver: was 99 euros in the local Kodin Ykkönen store.)

Going for big screen

Setting up my docking station at home, I ended up with terrible headache: staring at the tiny, super-sharp screen of Vaio Z31 from a distance is not something you want to do for several hours. Time to get a proper, bigger external display for the upstairs working den.

Looking at some reviews, and comparing prices, I ended up with Samsung SyncMaster 2494HS. It is a 24-inch, Full HD screen that appears to have been packed with a rather nice LCD panel. The ergonomics are not quite perfect: the “simple stand” it was shipped with has no up–down or rotation adjustments. Luckily, the small stand appears to fit my table and height. The touch-sensitive buttons are painful to use, and Samsung ships some software tools with the display, which supposedly make it possible to adjust the settings with mouse from GUI. Unfortunately the “MagicTune” only gave errors when I tried installing it. There is a restricted number of video cards it works with, and the nVidia 9300M that my Vaio is using is not one of the supported ones. No luck. But the image quality is great (you need to set the 1080p resolution for 50Hz though, not 60Hz like the instruction says). But finally there is enough real estate in the screen that you can actually get two A4 pages next to each other and continue working. Perfect!

Samsung SyncMaster 2494HS
Samsung SyncMaster 2494HS


I have been using now for some time software called Dropbox to keep my various workstations, servers and laptops in sync, and to share some content with colleagues. The system works surprisingly well, and is totally silent and quick, just doing the file synchronization job fast and invisibly in the background.

The free account has 2GB limit, so this is only for keeping the files from the most recent projects up to date. Some materials still need to be backed up manually. Most importantly, this is not yet the tool I need for keeping my music as well as the photo and video albums backed up. There must be a reliable, fast and quiet real-time synchronizing tool somewhere, I just have not yet found it.

One of the benefits of Dropbox service is that they support different OSes, so I can finally have my Linux laptop all the time synced with my Windows boxes. For the photo and video file masses I do not need such cross-OS compatibility, I only need to keep Vista, Win7 and Windows Server 2008 in sync there.

GD/PHP issue in WordPress/Windows Server 2008

My new installation of WordPress in Windows Server 2008 seems mostly working just fine. The most irritating remaining problem is the media/image upload part where image resizing is not working: you only get the option of full size images, and e.g. thumbnails are just greyed out. The folder read/write properties seem ok, and GD extension in PHP is installed; my info.php says:

Continue reading “GD/PHP issue in WordPress/Windows Server 2008”

Klippo Excellent S GCV

Couple of years ago I wrote about our first lawnmower, a Stiga Collector model. In couple of summers I have managed to break the thing several times (I always run it against stones), until it felt not worth paying for repairs any more. Also, it had become apparent that the collector part was not really necessary for us — bio-clipping is really enough (like Eki then already commented). Our new model is hopefully simple and durable machine: a Klippo Excellent S GCV model. It has a solid aluminium base and motor built by Honda. To be ready for those stones, I asked it to be installed with a Blade Plate system: six small blades that cut the grass at different levels and which are hopefully more resistant against stones (or, more likely, breaking in a manner that makes repairs a bit cheaper). Lets see. The ultimate goal is to have a smaller lawn in any case.

Ubuntu Netbook Remix in AA1

Ubuntu Netbook Remix, originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Another thing I did the late at the other night (not getting much sleep this summer) was finally install another OS version for my netbook, Acer Asprire One. The stripped-down Linpus Lite it shipped with was ok for basic stuff, but I kept on tweaking it, pushing it towards a full, networking capable desktop system. Since Linpus is built on Fedora, you can actually do pretty much with it, but at some point it just became so patched up and broken I realised I needed to do something.
I had been following the development of netbook versions of popular operating systems, but for a long time there appeared to be serious problems: a full Ubuntu desktop, for example, would be running very slow, being too heavy for a meagre AA1 (my system is version ZG5, with 512 MB of DDR2 memory). There are also many hardware drivers that would stop working if one reformats the Linpus environment Acer had set up.

But finally, it appeared that the Ubuntu Netbook Remix project had managed to produce a version of Ubuntu that would be running smoothly on weak systems, plus it would support almost all of the AA1 hardware out of the box. Trying it out now for couple of days, I am pretty happy. It is not a speed demon, but I am amazed at the scope and quality of functions they have managed to pack into a lowly 512 MB netbook machine. Reason to be happy for a while! 🙂

Canon LBP5050n driver problems

As a part of this summer’s transition to a new home server environment, I upgraded my printer to a colour laser one. The print quality of Canon i-SENSYS LBP5050n was the ṕrimary reason for choosing that one. I was originally going to buy an USB model and use my home server as the print server, but it soon appeared that Windows Server 2008 as the Web Server edition does not allow printer sharing. MS strikes againg – they have actually disabled all printer sharing functionalities so that they can sell more expensive versions of Server 2008 for those who need more than only the web server stuff. In this (as probably in many other accounts) it makes much more sense to use Ubuntu Server Edition or something similar rather than MS products if you want to have a cheap, yet efficient general purpose server of your own.

Persisting against the odds, I went ahead and picked the 5050n model instead, since it includes its own ethernet connector and print server built in, so that you can print to it from anywhere in your home. Except for the printer driver. Rather than a regular Postscript printer, this Canon printer is a CAPT printer, meaning that it uses Canon’s own proprietary printer language. They have tried to develop driver versions for many operating systems, but according to my experiences, the development of 5050n drivers is still not yet finished. I at least hope they will release better versions in the future.

Luckily, two of my most important OSes are supported and working fine: Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. Funny thing is, that neither have a dedicated driver version — you can install a Vista version and it works. But as I tried to install the driver to my two Vista systems, the driver did not produce test prints, and the status window actually completely stalled the computer/UI. I had to remove the driver. Also, trying to install the Mac version of driver to my Mac Mini (a OS X Tiger system) did not produce any working results.


Since I am also using Ubuntu with my workstation and Acer Aspire One netbooks, I was interested to see whether I could finally print anything from there. No success. A Linux package of CAPT printer drivers also exists:

But I tried to follow the instructions and tweak my systems, but it appears that there is not yet a printer profile file for 5050 models. I tried install using LPB5000 profile file, but it did not work out.

Thus: out of the five tested OSes that we are using, only two managed to print to this new, home/small office network printer. Not a very good result to my estimation (even while I am happy with the printer itself). Hopefully Canon will produce more and updated printer software for this printer in the future.

YouSat press release

YouSat project has made a press release about its goals and scope:

Quote: The YOUSAT project will invent and study new mobile solutions to support interactive exploration of nature-based tourism, including applications tailored to younger generation tourists. Four Nordic tourism associations collaborate in the project together with SICS, a research institute, Idevio AB, a map technology company, and Tampere University. Together they will create a new service that not only makes it easy to share travel experiences via the mobile phone, but also to find interesting local recommendations.

Hannamari Saarenpää from our team is doing work in YouSat, bringing playful experiences, games and user-centred research methodology contributions to the project.

New publication series

Our new department (INFIM, Dept. of Information Studies and Interactive Media) has opened a peer-edited publication series for our research reports and other studies: Research of Interactive Media. Freely available as downloadable PDF files, you can access the first report (an updated version of the GameSpace final report from here:

Same in Finnish: Informaatiotutkimuksen ja interaktiivisen median laitokselle on perustettu uusi verkkojulkaisusarja “Interaktiivisen median tutkimuksia” (ISSN 1798-0992).  Ensimmäinen verkkojulkaisu on julkaistu Tampubissa.

  • Janne Paavilainen, Annakaisa Kultima, Jussi Kuittinen, Frans Mäyrä, Hannamari Saarenpää & Johannes Niemelä, “GameSpace: Methods and Evaluation for Casual Mobile Multiplayer Games”. Tampere 2009. (PDF-julkaisu)

Finncon packed with anime people

The Finncon program was once again very interesting (since we were traveling with family, I did not take part in that many sessions, though). One thing that was again increasingly obvious was the dominating presence of cosplay and manga/anime fans. It was actually difficult to move around Kaapelitehdas (see picture), due to the huge, colorfully costumed crowd. Fun, but as an ‘old-school fantasy & SF fan’ I felt somewhat an outsider myself.

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