New Toy


Last week I received a new laptop. I purchased a pretty tricked out custom-built P304 from these charming people, or these people, for those who like their sites in English.

There was a problem with the SSD; I seem to have fallen afoul of the bathtub curve, and after installing half an OS, it failed, and would no longer announce its existence to the motherboard.

Bad luck

I spoke to the guys at Schenker, who were friendly and knowledgeable, and generally behaved like competent human beings who didn’t spend their days getting bombarded with basic questions – a fate that seems to befall a lot of poor front line tech support people.

So, given verbal & email assurances that opening the back of my machine wouldn’t invalidate my warranty, I moved the SSD, tried various power cycle combinations that hinted more at desperation-driven voodoo than diagnostic driven behaviour. Once I’d described this to the Schenker folks, they were quite happy to send out a new SSD.

In the meantime, I put another SSD in this machine, and it is a thing of beauty.

Lovely organisation

I can’t recommend Schenker (or XMG, as their gaming PC branding has it) enough. They provided me with an efficient and competent service at a competitive rate, and the end product, based on a Clevo W230SS, is a gaming laptop that weighs 2kg and has a battery life of ~5 hours.

I ended up installing Windows 8.1 on the SSD I put in. Once the mSATA SSD from Schenker shows up, I’ll put a Linux distro on that.


When I installed Windows (from a W8 DVD), I accidentally used the legacy BIOS setting and not UEFI. To avoid tediously reinstalling, re-updating and re-upgrading to Windows 8.1, I used this excellent guide to rewrite the MBR boot partition into a GPT partition.

I also switched the clock time format so as not to conflict with *nix runs using information from this page.

If I had any gripe, it would be that the only explicit driver support is for Windows. Recent Debian-based distros, like Linux Mint 17.1 seem right at home on this box, because the hardware is all pretty standard.

The P304 comes with an Nvidia GTX 860 as well as onboard Intel graphics. I haven’t yet got over the Bumblebee hurdle to get the graphics card recognized by the Linux OS.

I’ll post again when I figure that out.

Eric Mill’s Switch to HTTPS Now, For Free is excellent

I just read this little gem by Eric Mill, and decided to give it a try. Despite a CA problem with the latest version of Firefox, this went surprisingly well.

I was slightly disappointed that WordPress uses absolute addresses to it’s resources with an HTTP class. Should it not use relative paths for locally hosted content like images, and let user agents sort out whether or not to use SSL? I think so.

Probably there’s something to configure. When it annoys me enough, I’ll blog about it.

Whoop, and there it is. That was easy to at least get WordPress to use HTTPS.

Setup for Pioneer development

I did a little development while on holiday for a FOSS game I like, called Pioneer.

I wanted to carry on when I got back, so I set about creating a dev environment for it. Here are my notes on that.


First I got Eclipse.

Then I enabled C++ development using CDT.


Pioneer is heavily Lua-driven. Since I’d be doing a lot of editing in this scripting language, I went looking for a tool. The most mature one that I could find after a short search was Koneki Lua.

Getting the code

I cloned my fork of Pioneer into a directory named ‘pioneer’. This gave me a folder structure of ‘../pioneer/pioneer/…’. I could open the parent pioneer folder as an Eclipse workspace, leaving the files inside pioneer/pioneer unpolluted by Eclipse’s files.

Building the project

I ran




to set up the code project. Building was done from within Eclipse.

The project was imported into Eclipse as a makefile project (./configure generates a bunch of makefiles).

I used the following make command to spread build between my 4 cores, leaving one to handle everything else when a build is running:

make -j 3

This was set in Eclipse in Project>C/C++ Build>Builder Settings