In my post about the new home of GCW, I had a picture of the Raspberry Pi based version of the server. What probably stood out the most in that picture was the cool (sic!) ICE Tower active cooling system. That Pi has been rock solid since I turned it on, so given the insane cooler, I thought I’d try playing around with a bit o’ the old overclocking.

The stock CPU and graphics clock speeds on a RPi 4 are 1.5 GHz and 400 MHz respectively. In order to get the CPU clock past 1.75 GHz, you need to install firmware that is in advance of what comes with the standard Raspbian distro, so I figured I’d start with 1.75 GHz. For the graphics clock, I tried 600 MHz, which I’ve seen in a couple of how-to videos.

With those speeds, the Pi booted just fine, but after some heavy use (i.e. 3 simultaneous video playbacks) the graphics became unstable. I backed the graphics clock off to 550 MHz and the performance stablized.

With the ICE Tower running, the core temp never went above 40 degrees Celcius even under the heaviest load — compare that to the Pi thermal throttling at 80 degrees showing a single video with no cooling.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with the result. The combined boosts in clock speeds have made an immediately noticeable improvement in performance. It’s entirely possible that this has reduced the lifespan of the board, but honestly at the price I paid for it, I can live with that.

GCW gets a new home

After many years of running Great Castle Wilson on some flavour of Mac, I’ve finally decided to give it dedicated hardware of its own. In part, this is because I enjoy proving to myself that I can still set up and configure a webserver and all the other required accoutrements — yes, I’m weird like that — but mostly it’s because I’m fairly confident that macOS Catalina is going to break my current configuration anyway, so it seemed like a good time to make a change.

For those who aren’t aware, Catalina is the first version of macOS that only supports 64-bit applications. There are some fairly significant changes under the covers, and the odds are low that my personal mix of random open source software and existing Mac tech is going to continue to work.

So without further ado, here is the brand new GCW:

Yep, it’s a Pi 🙂


So far the setup process has been relatively painless, but I did learn that WordPress does *not* like it when its API URL points at a different instance of WordPress than the one that’s making the request — that took a couple of hours to debug. 🙂

Anyway, if you can read this, then we’re live. The site seems quite responsive and the only posts that aren’t displaying properly are ones where some of the original content they linked to no longer exists


Some history…

I don’t post to NfGCW very often any more, but I love the fact that there’s years of history from our family here. I’ve blogged about many topics over the years, including the site itself. Here are some previous posts about the hardware GCW ran on.

Great Castle Wilson update

A couple of “mildly interesting” things happened in the last week:

Deb and I stained the deck

When we had the deck built last year, they told us to wait a year before staining it. So we did…

Picture of the deck just after we finished staining it

It took Deb and I about 18 hours of work total to do it. The result isn’t really professional but it’s good enough, and we’ve already seen evidence that it’s protecting the wood from the rain. We may put down another coat of stain at some point, but given how much work the first one was, that may have to wait until next year. 🙂

Carpets cleaned

We got the carpet in the living room professionally cleaned this week. The result is certainly a lot cleaner than it was, but I don’t think it’s done as much for reducing the “old dog” smell as we’d hoped.

It also gave us an opportunity to re-think the layout of the room a bit, so we removed a bit of clutter and swapped the couch and love seat around.

And on the list of downers for the week…

  • I scraped up one of the rims on the Fiat. I’m pretty pissed with myself, but at least that’s the “first scratch” out of the way.
  • The top tray on our dishwasher broke. Someone is coming over to look at it today. Hopefully it won’t be weeks before the parts are available.
  • George has already peed on the cleaned carpet. I think we understand what happened — we accidentally left the water dish out overnight. As long as it’s not a new trend I’m just going to chock it up to the life of a dog owner and move on.

Anyway as I am fond of saying “Oh, well”. If those are the worst things that ever happen to us, then we’re leading a charmed life.

What I did this summer [warning: long post]

As most everyone knows, I’m not a fan of traveling, so I like to find some other way to commemorate my vacation — usually by doing something significant around the house. This year, we chose to move Dennis’ bedroom to the basement. He’s almost 16 now, and it seemed like he needed more privacy than being in a room that shared a wall (and a cold air return vent) with his parents’ bedroom.

Now another thing most everyone knows is that our house tends to be filled with stuff. This means that as a precursor to any significant work on the house, we need to purge the stuff to make room. We started by giving away the last of Dennis’ Star Wars toys and Lego to friends with younger boys. Then we got rid of our excess pocket books… Hm… that comment doesn’t really do the situation justice. Here’s a picture to give you a better idea:

More boxes than you can possibly imagine

What you’re looking at are 36 “2 cubes”, almost all of which are full of books that we are going to donate to charity, along with a couple of bicycles and a several bags of clothing and material.

With a bit more room to think, we settled on the following plan:

  • Deb would take over Dennis’ old bedroom as both a study and sewing room.
  • I would move the stuff from my room in the basement to Deb’s old study (i.e. the front bedroom).
  • Dennis would move down to my old computer room in the basement. [Added feature: the futon couch that was in Deb’s old study would move to Dennis’ game room.]

In a frenzy of simultaneous shifting of stuff, we attempted to converge on this plan, but ran into a couple of snags:

  1. I had one of those plastic sheets on the floor in my computer room — you know the ones that make it easier to roll around on a wheely chair. Unfortunately, sandwiching a carpet between a layer of plastic and a cement floor turns out to be a bad idea; when we lifted the plastic sheet, we discovered that the carpet underneath had gone moldy. This threw a major monkey wrench into the planning, since we couldn’t move any of Dennis’ stuff into the room until we could get the carpet replaced, which of course meant that Dennis ended up with his bedroom strewn all over the house while we worked.
  2. When we originally put the desk in Deb’s study we actually built the desk in the room. So, when it came time to move it, we discovered (of course) that we couldn’t get it out of the room without dismantling it into several pieces. At that point we made the snap decision to just leave Deb in her old study, but use the space we got by removing the couch (and some other re-organization) to give her a sewing area as well.

Those were the unexpected big issues. There were also a couple of other painful (but expected) things that we had to deal with:

Dennis wanted space more than storage.
This meant that we had to remove all of the shelving units and cupboards that were in my room, which was a big job since they were all wall mounted and there were quite a number of them. Also, there wasn’t room for most of them in the room upstairs, so they too ended up in the garage, to be given away. (You can see them in the background in the picture above.)
The network router and file server needed to move.
Even if there had been space for them in Dennis’ room (and there wasn’t), I end up fiddling with them too often to want them to be two floors away from me. I also wanted to make use of the wired connection in Deb’s study as the main conduit for running the network through the house, which means that, now that she isn’t switching rooms, she has inherited our dsl modem, router and (the imaginatively named) FILES the file server. They’re sitting on top of her bookshelves. [Insert obligatory short person joke.] My machines (including the server that provided this page) are sitting on the other end of a matched (WDS) pair of Airport Extremes. So far, I’ve been happy with the result. In any case, with the help of another wire pulled through the basement ceiling to reconnect Dennis’ setup in the basement, we’re all up and running again.

Things are starting to converge, finally. Here are some pictures to give you an idea of the new layout. First my room:


Note the new M-Audio Axiom 49. There wasn’t room for my old Alesys QS 8.1 between the bookshelves and the treadmill (just out of sight in these pictures).

And here’s Deb working in her new space:

I’d show you a picture of Dennis’ room in the basement, but I keep forgetting to snap one, and it’s time to get this posted…