I've a keen interest in computers and like to keep up to date with new products and technologies. Some of the areas I'm interested in include image processing, graphics and anything to do with astronomy. Around the turn of the century when I was on CompuServe, I was a WUGNET technical associate on the FCLASS (Foundation classes) forum on CompuServe. After this I started frequenting the MFC Usenet groups and CodeProject forums helping out anyone with their MFC problems. In April 2007, I was made an MVP by MS in the area of "Windows SDK" which subsequently became "Visual C++". Now most of my spare time is spent developing new C++ code which I publish on this web site.

 

My Main Development Workstation "OBSIDIAN" (Purchased from scan.co.uk in December 2014)
Intel Core i7 5930K CPU with a Corsair H100 Water cooler. This CPU has 6 cores and with hyper-threading brings the count to 12.
Asus X99-Deluxe Motherboard
8 sticks of Corsair 8GB DDR4 PC4-21300 DIMMs. This provides a total of 64GB of main memory
A Samsung 850 PRO SSD boot drive and a 3 TB Seagate ST3000DM001 Barracuda data drive.
EVGA FTX 980 Superclocked Graphics card
Corsair Obsidian 550D mid-tower case
3XS RM1000W Modular Gold Silent PSU
Windows 10 Pro x64 Version 1607 is the installed Operating System. I also have Vista, XP, Windows 8/8.1, Windows 2003, Windows 2008, Windows 20012 R2, Ubuntu, RemixOS and a number of other OSes set up as virtual machines using VMware Workstation v12 for testing on.
LG 16x Blu-ray Writer
A Scan 3XS 5.25" card reader
Microsoft Wired Desktop 600 Keyboard and Mouse
3 Monitors: A new 32" Acer B326HK 4K UHD Monitor purchased from BeachAudio in the US from Ebay, and two 24" ASUS VG236 3D LCD monitors on either side of the B326HK monitor.

It's been 4 years since I purchased my last desktop computer and for my new computer I pretty much really treated myself<ggg>. PC Technology has definitely advanced and the SSD boot drive makes Windows start up in about 20 seconds from cold. The motherboard is maxed out with 64 GB of memory meaning I can fire up multiple VM's at the same time without worrying about memory issues. The CPU is also very high-end and can work through tough tasks such as video encoding in minutes. The graphics card is also the most powerful GPU from NVIDIA at the time of purchase and I played Far Cry 4 and Wolfenstein: The New Order over Christmas on it. The video encoding can also take advantage of CUDA on the graphics card, meaning that encoding is much faster than my older "CORE_I7" machine. Its also a very quiet machine thanks to the water cooling and the computer case which has special sound damping foam installed in it.

 

 My Secondary Development Workstation "CORE_I7" (Purchased from Komplett.ie and Dell.ie in May 2009)
An Intel Core i7 Quad Extreme Processor. This is the top of the range Core i7-965 processor running at 3.2GHz with 4 cores and 8 threads. I also used a Zalman CNP9900 LED CPU Cooler. The whole blue glow from the various fans inside the case is very cool looking thro the clear side window in the case.
An Asus P6T6 WS Revolution Workstation Motherboard
6 sticks of 2GB Corsair XMS3 DDR 1600Mhz 2PC3200 memory. This provides a total of 12GB of main memory and can take advantage of the triple channel memory support of the X58 motherboard.
2 Western Digital VelociRaptor 10000RPM 300GB SATA drives in a RAID0 array giving, this gives a really fast setup for my boot partition.
1 Western Digital Caviar 2TB SATA2 drive as a "data" drive
Two Gainward GeForce GTX 580 1536MB graphics cards. These were purchased from dabs.ie in July 2011 as an upgrade from the original GeForce 295 graphics card when I originally purchased the computer.
Gigabyte 3D Mars Silver Big Tower Case
Corsair 1000 Watt Power supply
The OS installed is Windows 10 Pro x64 Version 1511.
LG DVD_RW Blue-Ray & HD-DVD Drive.
Two Monitors: 1. A Dell 30" 3008WFP LCD & a Del 30" WFPHC LCD

This machine is a pretty high end rig and should serve my very well for development purposes going forward. With the amount of memory onboard it should be easily able to handle a number of simultaneous virtual machines which is always handy for testing purposes. Since installing Windows 7 on it, I must admit that MS really has got it right after the whole Vista debacle. Everything just fits together nicely and performance is very good. The only thing I still pine for is the XP style Classic Start menu which has been completely removed from Windows 7. With the new Pin to Taskbar functionality and such large monitors I rarely ever use the start menu anyway now, instead preferring to use the taskbar shortcuts directly for my most used programs. UAC on 7 seems to be much more toned down than Vista which helps to make you day to day experience a whole lot more pleasant. The Virtual Windows XP in Windows 7 is a really great feature and has already helped me to keep my old Desktop printer going as well as being able to use the Cisco VPN client which is only available for x86 versions of Windows. I've also run a few games on the new PC to give it a good try out. I've tried Crysis, Racedriver Grid and Far Cry 2 and the visuals in these games are absolutely stunning. PC gaming technology has really progressed in the last few years. I would also like to thank my accounts manager at Komplett, namely Rafal Cyranski for their great service.

 

My Server Machine "PLUTO" (Purchased from scan.co.uk in March 2016)
A 3XS RZ170 4U server with an Intel Core i7 6700 CPU
CODEGEN CG-4U rackmount case
Asus Z170-Deluxe Motherboard
64 GB of Corsair DDR4 Vengeance 2400MHz memory
600w Be quiet! Strai Power10 power supply
Be quite! Shadow Rock LP CPU fan
512GB Samsung 950 M.2 NVMe SSD
4TB WD4003FZEX Black SATA3 HDD
LG UH12NS30 BD-R Drive
Windows Server 2016 Standard

This machine serves as my main network server and with the amount of memory installed it allows me to run multiple VMs 24x7 using Microsoft Hyper-V. These VMs mainly run Windows Server 2012 R2 and provide DHCP and host my version control sytem for my network.

 

My main NAS Device "DiskStation" (Purchased from dabs.ie in January 2011)
A Synology DS1511+ NAS Server. This main unit is fitted with 5 * 4TB Seagate ST4000DM000 HDDs purchased from Komplett.ie in June 2013).
A Synology DX510 5-Bay Expansion unit purchased from Pixmania.ie in March 2012. This expansion unit is fitted with 5 * 3TB Hitachi HDS5C3030ALA630 HDDs which were originally in the main DS1511+.
A Synology DX513 5-Bay Expansion unit purchased from Komplett.ie in June 2013. This expansion unit is fitted with 5 * 3TB Hitachi HDS5C3030ALA640 HDDs which were purchased from dabs.ie in March 2012.
An APC Back-UPS Pro 900 UPS purchased from Pixmania.ie in June 2013).

In the ever ongoing quest for more hard disk space, I have splashed out for a NAS device. The issue with a normal PC as a file server is that PCs normally use quite a bit of electricity compared to a dedicated NAS device. I spent some time researching the NAS market and finally plumped for this device. I purchased 5 3TB hard disks from Hitachi for it which although they were not on the official Synology hardware compatibility list for the 1511+ at the time have been used by a number of users as reported on their forums. The device itself supports hot swappable drives and it is really easy installing the drives in the drive cage which gets inserted into the device. With the 5 original 3TB hard disks in the main unit configured as a Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) volume, the total usable space available was 10.73 TB. All the administration of the device is through a web interface called "DiskStation Manager/DSM". It presents a user interface which is very familiar to your client desktop computer interface. I'd have to say that it is stunningly implemented. Its got a load of extras such as a download manager, resource monitor, VPN, Dynamic DNS and surveillance software which supports many types of IP cameras. In March 2012 I purchased a DX510 expansion unit to extend the total amount of space on the NAS to 21 TB. In June 2013 I purchased an additional DX513 expansion unit and a APC UPS to allow the NAS and my old server machine to run on battery during mains electrical failure. With both the NAS, its two expansion units and the old file server running, the UPS reports a load of roughly 170 Watts and a standby time of 25 minutes. With the additional hard disks installed the total amount of space on the NAS is now 35 TB. The UPS is connected to the NAS via a custom cable which looks like a telephone cable to USB cable. When the mains electricity fails the UPS starts beeping and both the NAS and file server continue to run. Eventually when the battery gets low the NAS safely powers down and the power to the file server which is connected via a slave power connection on the UPS is also stopped. If you are in the market for a NAS, then I would definitely suggest you give Synology a look. I also use a piece of commercial software called ViceVersa Pro which provides numerous file synchronisation strategies to backup my client computers to each other and the NAS.

 

My Internet Connections
I have 2 Vodafone Ireland 4G dongles since January 2014 and they provide my main connection for my home office. This provides a nice 20 - 40 MBit connection most of the time. Vodafone are quite strict on download limits and you will be charged €17 a GB if you go over the download allowance of 50 Gb per month which I have with them. Iniitally it looks like they did not enforce download limits and I was a happy Netflix customer until I got two monthly bills for hundreds of euros.
I also have a 2Mbps downstream / 128Kbps upstream DSL2 connection from Eir (formerly Eircom). I had to get a new phone line installed to get the broadband as my old phone line was a split line and was unsuitable for broadband. Initially the new line passed the 2Mbps speed test but it could never connect at this speed. For the first couple of months it could connect at 1Mbps, but since May 2007, it was failing to connect reliably at this speed. After taking to Eircom tech support, we have reduced the connection speed to 512Kbps and it now works pretty reliably. This seems to be the most reliable speed I can get as I am 5.1 KM from the local exchange. Since the initial install the local exchange has been upgraded to DSL2 and I can now get 2Mbps reliably. The DSL router which I use is a Netgear DGND3700v2. Prior to February 2007, I had a Satellite connection via Educom which provides DirecPC access here in Ireland. The connection I was getting via the satellite connection was nominally 640 Kbps downstream and 128 Kbps upstream. I also had wireless Internet at one stage for a number of years from a local supplier called Alpha Broadband.

 

Other Peripherals
A StarTech 4POSTRACK36 36U Rack Cabinet with a number of shelves, casters, Power Distribution Units, 20" Viewsonic VP201b LCD rack mounted monitor & cable management panels.
A ZyXEL GS1900 48 Port Gigabit PoE switch
An APC Smart-UPS 700 Watt UPS
A Hewlett Packard Color LaserJet CP2025dn printer
A HP Scanjet 200 Flatbed Scanner
An Apple 64GB iPad Air
An ASRock Vision 3D 252B PC purchased from CustomPC.ie in March 2012 running Windows 10 Pro and Kodi
A Vu+ Ultimo Satellite Receiver purchased from satboxes.com in July 2012. This box came preconfigured with 3 DVB-S satellite connections in it but you can mix and match DVB-T tuners in the three slots if you so desire. I also installed a 2TB HDD in it for local recording and time shifting. Tuner one and two are connected straight though to a satellite dish pointed at Astra 28.2E which picks up all the English freesat channels, while the third connection runs through a 4 Way DiSEqC switch which is connected to dishes pointed at Astra 19.2E, Astra 28.2E and Eutelsat HotBird 13E. I also have one USB DVB-T tuner fitted to the receiver to allow for reception of the Irish Digital Terrestrial channels which is called Saorview. The receiver is running the Black Hole firmware and through the use of an Kodi plug-in called VU+, I am able to watch and record any of the satellite stations on any of my boxes running Kodi throughout the house.
An AXIS M1011-W Wireless IP Network Camera
A Foscam F19821EP Network Camera

 

Development tools I use
Visual Studio 2015, 2013, 2012, 2010, 2008 and 2005: A lot of the code I release on my web site will still work with Visual Studio 2005 as I test and support my code on all Visual Studio releases since then. Any code which requires newer versions of Visual Studio will be flagged in the html documentation included in the download. All my code also supports all combinations of ASCII/Unicode, Debug/Release, x86/x64, Warning Level 4 and /Analyze clean. On a VM of Windows XP, I also have access to VC 1.5, VC 5, VC 6 & Visual Studio .NET 2002 and Visual Studio .NET 2003.
Visual SourceSafe 2005: A version control system is an absolutely essential tool once you have multiple developers or versions of software floating around. There are of course much better version control systems as of 2016 but I would lose all the version history with all my code if I was to migrate to a newer system.
MicroAngelo: Great little icon browser and editor.